Alcohol, sex, and debauchery.
Mention my name to anyone that was remotely a historophile, and you would get one of those three words within the first minute. Was that all I was? Hardly. Did I dispute the stories? Why would I? After all, the stories were mostly true.
Such was the basis of stereotyping. The science behind profiling was the glue that stuck the label on you. The pin that pinned the nail on the don… No, wait. That was a game children played at parties. Well, three out of four serviceable analogies was not that bad for a half-mad and fully drunk god. I grumbled at all the laughing in my head and mentally shook my fist at the voices nestled in there, threatening them with extreme violence.
My handy silver flask rested on my chest. It was the flask that would call forth any liquid I set my mind to, and a small sea of empty bottles were strewn all about me. I was drunk to the point of a contented state of comatose. Past all the alcohol, I could still taste the sweet and slightly bitter flavor of the Waters of Kissousa. It was the first thing that passed my lips yesterday after I’d found myself in one of my storage facilities in Tuscany.
The Water of Kissousa was the spring that the Nymphs of Nysa raised me on when I was a child. It was the only thing that I could truly taste anymore. It was also the only thing that temporarily allowed for the effects of alcohol to take hold of me. Without a drink of the Waters of Kissousa first, there was nothing I could drink that would affect me. Not after all these centuries of…well…alcohol, sex, and debauchery.
So there I was, lying in my drunken happiness and finally ignorant of my misery. I was staring up at the frescoed ceiling, counting the tiny flecks of black and white paint depicting tiny birds flying in a pale, blue sky. I was minding my own business as I had been doing a lot more lately. I was half-buried physically in empty bottles of anything that I could find, and metaphorically, in my own growing pit of quicksand, when out of the top of my vision, I saw a shadow, and then the blur that created said shadow.
It took me some time for my eyes to focus on the face that seemed to be upside down in my field of vision. It was Andrea, alright. He was trying his hardest to look nonchalant, but his dark eyes betrayed him. Past his calm demeanor, his eyes were dancing about wildly, trying to take in all the details without showing his panic.
At that moment, I really admired him for his control. Even though I was widely known as the mad god, I took pride in how much of me I kept under constant supervision. It took a lot of practice to keep so many voices under control. I had to put my lips upon the cup of madness and drink from it constantly to keep it from spilling over. But at that very moment, I was on the edge of it all, and my control was failing. That moment, like so many others that followed what I had come to call the dark dream, was one of struggle for control.
Unfortunately, those moments had been more the norm than the exception for me. The spell or ability, or whatever it was, that forced me out of myself and onto someone else, had wrecked me. I had always been a wanderer, and I never minded walking until I was lost. In fact, I did it often enough that Luis had devised some form of tracking me in recent years. But losing myself within myself was something out of nightmares. It had been my biggest fear since I noticed the voices at a young age. In all my strength of control over them, there was always a tinge of fear that one day I might lose to them. And not just temporarily.
The thought always scared me to my core, and the episode I’d suffered was a perfect example of what might one day come to pass. After all this time, the chance of getting lost permanently and letting one of the voices in my head take over was almost impossible. Almost impossible, yet the threat was always there. I had tried my best to ignore all my feelings about what had happened. I doted over Amphitrite, and her smile was almost enough to make me forget it all. Her thirst for anything and everything kept me going for a long while, but deep inside, I could feel the numbness growing.
I even went on a small adventure into the Underworld with Thanatos. The only other person I’d known with the same amounts of moodiness and goofiness I had. Although, I’d only admitted that to him when we’ve both completely plastered. Not that many people knew that side of him. Well, not that many people knew that side of him and were still alive, anyway. No matter what I had tried, though, the thirst for escape had eventually won out.
Ah, yes! The blur that was Andrea. I had forgotten him until he moved a bit and cleared his throat. I had almost lost control while talking about the fear of losing control. I was dancing on the edge of madness even more than usual. I squinted and arched my brows at him because I was not in the mood to put forth enough effort to talk. Apparently, he did not understand because he started speaking, anyway. At least it was with a low tone and not his usual booming voice.
“I do not understand, sir. Was there a problem with the annual samples of wine, rum, and bourbon I sent to you, or is your current…research about something else? I think it’s time for rum this year, but we can switch to bourbon if you prefer. I jus—”
I closed my eyes at the assault of spoken words and held up a finger. Thankfully, that got him to stop talking. After taking in a few breaths to steady my brain and my stomach, I replied in a hoarse whisper, “S’not th’ searchin’ fr you. Is my search frm me fr me. Now go ‘way.”
Another small clearing of Andrea’s throat warned me that this painful conversation was not over, and that made me shut my eyelids tighter and groan.
“But, sir, I saw you walk into our storage facility yesterday and drink a quarter of our supply since. When I was leaving for home, you were lying here, drinking. When I came in this morning, you were still lying here drinking. You have been lying here drinking for at least thirty hours.”
“Yesh, I have, so? Itsh all mine, and I’ll drink it all if I wan.”
“I don’t doubt your claim of ownership or use, sir. I am well aware of both. But…”
For the first time in a long time, I wanted to mentally reach out for Andrea and bring him in to join the other voices in my head. Forcefully. His mouthing words and forcing me to think at this time had me dangerously close to lashing out with my mind and breaking his forever. It would be too easy right now. I was very close to doing it, too, until Andrea finished his sentence.
“But if you are searching for something, you will not find it here among all these bottles. If that was possible, you would have found it by now. Maybe I can help you find it by looking elsewhere?”
It took a moment for me to digest those words, but as soon as they sank in, the whole world came to a screeching halt for me. Andrea, in his infinite annoyance and aggravation, was very much correct. I was trying to move forward without actually moving forward. Both mind and body were stuck because of what had happened, and I had to change things.
I had become stagnant after the whole ordeal of getting thrown into someone else. It was all so real, and in the process, it had broken parts of me. It had changed things without me realizing it. I was feeling the anguish and pain, and I was trying to deal with them on the surface only. That was getting me nowhere, and I had to go somewhere.
The realization of it all made my eyes snap open. Something I immediately regretted when they settled on Andrea’s shirt-of-many-colors. And just like that, my eyes closed tight, and the urge to smite him returned tenfold. I gritted my teeth, swallowed my anger, and groaned another wordless reply. I tried to wave him off instead and got more words. This mortal sure was pushing his luck.
“I’ll go, sir. I apologize for disturbing you. Let me know if you need anything. I can also call Luis if you n—”
I snapped my eyes open but let them settle on the fresco above and the black and white dots of birds. That calmed me down enough to speak once again.
“No, itsh fine, Andrea. Call no one now. I will b’gone tahmorrow. Call th’ old-goat then.”
Thankfully, Andrea’s footsteps receded into the distance without another word. I was alone with my voices and my thoughts once again. I leaned up on an elbow and looked around at the mass of bottles around me. I clutched at my silver flask and wobbily made it to my feet before stuffing it in my pocket. Reaching out with my other hand, my Thyrsos appeared to help me steady myself. I took a deep breath and willed my stomach to stop threatening to bring its contents back up.
The thirst for escape and release in drink was finally over. The thirst for seeking something new had just begun.