Flotsam or Jetsam by Jim Webster is a short story about people trying to get through the routines of everyday life while at the same time dealing with unexpected events. Tallis, the jobbing poet, spends his day developing patrons and sources of funding. Everything depends on his skills at flattery. Wife Shena is a mud jobber, a conduit between those who have something to sell and those seeking to buy, whether it is a physical product or a service.
For the abbreviated period of days in this story, Travis has met Benor Dorfinngil, the Cartographer, while dining at an inn and a casual conversation takes place to the immediate benefit of Benor. He has yet to find lodging, and Travis will offer him a temporary place to stay for the time he needs to do a contract cartography job.
The following day, Tallis goes to work ingratiating himself with a possible patron, and Shena goes to her shop where she coordinates with her child guard, Mutt, and any Shore-combers who want to do business. One, Stiffen, showed up with clothes to sell. There were a few rents in the clothing and Stffen further offered to sell the body to Shena. A deal was made and Stiffen attempted to move the body to a place Shena indicated. While carting the body, Stiffen was murdered by one member of a gang of five. The band then unsuccessfully pursued Shena, but she was sure it was a matter of time before they found her.
Should Tallis and Shena flee to another town and start over? Or should they remain, find out who the people seeking Shena are and discover the identity of the stolen body? To find out the answer to these questions, read the short story.
Jim Webster is an excellent world builder. Port Naain is a place where I would like to live. It is a rough world where people must live by their wits. The poor, such as the Shore-combers, do so. Even the rich, the producers of the flotsam and jetsam of this story, live by their wits. Mortgages must be paid. Somewhere in the middle are skilled tradespeople such as Benor, Tallis, and Shena. Each level of society has a daily rhythm or routine. Sometimes, as in this story, someone upsets the balance. Restoring the balance provides readers a story.
For world-building alone, this is a five Amazon star read. Language use, and even the creation of language, further supports this. There is more good stuff I look forward to as I read more stories by this prolific author.