A Tale for the Modern Attention Span
Steel Bolt plucked his glass from the desk, scrutinized it with one eye closed, and said aloud, “I don’t see what the big deal is about this ship—I mean shit.” That slip of the tongue caused a chuckle. Then—after further review—more intense laughter. And then—after Steel had given it some serious thought—total hilarity-induced incapacitation for several minutes.
Having never consumed alcohol before, Steel had no idea why he found everything so goddamn funny. This is great. I’ve never been happier in my whole life! He hiccupped, giggled some more, and wiped tears of mirth from his eyes. Then he swallowed what remained in his glass, and poured himself another.
Not surprisingly, however, Steel’s ebullience did not endure. Soon enough, a shift in cerebral breezes sent him sailing toward the shores of Despondency: People always expected so much from me. Hiccup. It sure made for a shitty life in a lotta ways. Hiccup. I had to take over Bolt Fasteners all by myself after Daddy and Mommy disappeared.... I loved Daddy and Mommy. I wish, hiccup, I wish they wouldn’ta died. My brother and sister didn’t help at all. They just drank and drank and drank and, hiccup, drank. Lousy, no-good drunks....
And why is that every time I got a wife somethin’ had to go wrong? Fuck, that first one dies in a plane crash—or so I’m told—then she comes back and gets knocked up by my brother. Hiccup. And that second one didn’t even have the decency to disappear first—she just went straight for Daedalus and his gargantuan genitalia. Fuck.
Steel drained his glass and then swayed in his chair as he poured himself another.
They’re all gonna be sorry when I’m gone. Chastity and Charity and Chastity and Chastity and Charity. And Viveka. Man, she coulda been a lot more helpful. She gave me a lotta difficult years. Hiccup. But now she’s all better, Steel thought, with a flush of pride, she’s sober and happy and a painter and happy with her boyfriend, what’s his name, the big, black guy ... Nordberg? No. Norbert, that’s it. Steel beamed, pleased and more than a little impressed he’d been able to retrieve that obscure name from his sodden memory banks. Then he hiccupped.
But all those dead girls aren’t going to be okay. Ling, lovely Ling ... and the rest of them. All dead!
And Daedalus. He’s not gonna be okay. He’s not gonna be okay ‘cause I had him killed.
Steel opened the middle drawer of his desk and pulled out a ring—the ring Daedalus used to wear, the one Hugh Rection had brought Steel as proof of Daedalus’s extermination.
Steel’s lips quavered to a frown as tears welled in his eyes. Why? Why did I have him killed? He wasn’t such a bad guy. I’m the bad guy for ordering the murder of my own brother. What’s that called? Fratricide? No…. Patricide? No…. Regicide? No…. Fratricide! That’s it! I’m a fratricider. That’s what I am. I have no right to live anymore ‘cause I killed my beloved brother Daedalus!
Bulbous tears began rolling down Steel’s cheeks, and he sobbed loudly between hiccups.
After a few moments of damp weeping, he decided the time had come. He yanked open the bottom-right drawer of the desk, reached into the back, and pulled out his father’s antique pistol. He checked that it was loaded, cocked it, put the barrel in his mouth and actually had the thought that his last sensory perception would be of its metallic taste, when he became aware of a stirring over by the patio door.
The curtains moved and a figure emerged from the dark corner. Steel took the gun from his mouth and tried to focus.
When he’d finally determined who it was, he stared in wonder. “You?” Hiccup.
Continue Reading: Episode 100: Highlights of Episodes 1-99....