A Tale for the Modern Attention Span
“Indubitably,” Benson Benoit replied.
“I don’t get it?”
“Don’t you see what I’ve done here, Steel? I’ve driven you to drink,” Benson announced proudly.
“So, I should think you’re smart enough to understand the implications of this occasion, this turning point, this milestone.”
“Nuh-uh,” Steel said—then he recollected that, yes, he was now a drinker, but he’d neglected to take a sip for several minutes. He swallowed a generous amount of scotch.
“Ha!” Benson laughed, “you don’t even realize it. Perhaps I gave you too much credit. I thought you’d be able to see the road I’ve laid out for you.”
“What are you talkin’ about?” Steel asked irritably.
“Your family has a genetic predisposition to alcoholism worthy of The Guinness Book of World Records, the Dipsomania Hall of Fame, Russia. I knew that if I heaped enough trauma atop your shoulders you would eventually, like all Bolts, seek solace in a bottle. And now that you have, there is only one way for you to go, and that is down. You will inevitably drag your company and family with you, and it will be a most humiliating, disgraceful, dispiriting experience for all involved.”
“Yeah right,” Steel scoffed, “as if because I’ve had a couple drinks my life is suddenly over.” Then he took another sip, emptying his glass.
“Oh, but it is, my dear boy, it certainly is. Surely before partaking you recalled your mother’s pathetic, wretched, rueful antics. And your father, even though you didn’t see him in action as much, was even worse.”
“Thass not true!” Steel asserted, indignant at hearing his father impugned.
“Oh but it is,” Benson replied, thrilled to be getting under Steel’s skin. “Everything your father accomplished, all that he became, was in spite of who he was, not because of it. And your siblings, my lord, has there ever been a more profligate pair, a more dissolute duo? I think not.” Benson paused, watching as a hiccup by the youngest Bolt caused the decanter from which he was pouring to leap unsteadily in his hand. Booze spilled all over. Steel looked at it uncertainly for a second before puckering his lips and kissing the desktop in an attempt to suck it up. “And now you.”
Steel took just enough time from his slurping to say, “Yeah right.”
“In order to prove my hypothesis, my contention, my theory to you, I am going to see to it that everything is returned to normal. Tomorrow morning you will have access to your computer files and evidence will come to light exonerating you of the crimes of the crudely-named Crescendo Cove Crusher. You will have every opportunity to rectify the problems I’ve created. But you won’t be able to because the only thing left for you, my poor boy, is an inexorable, unrelenting, precipitous descent into the depths of humanity, lubricated by measureless volumes of alcohol. A journey that will end only after you’ve completely humiliated and destroyed yourself, your family and Bolt Fasteners—which will wind up in my hands.”
After sucking up the last of the scotch, Steel found himself incapable of raising his head. With nose mashed against the top of his desk he said, “I gotta ask ya something: Why’d you pull down those girls’ pants?”
“Add a little perversion, a little deviance, a little depravity to a crime and the public’s interest in it skyrockets,” Benson decreed. Then he shook his head almost sympathetically at the lifeless Steel. “I’m going to leave you now, Mr. Bolt. Do not make the mistake of telling anyone about this conversation or I will see to it that things—things more horrible than you could ever imagine—happen to you and your sister and your ex-wives and your recently-arrived nephew, not to mention the unborn one.”
Steel groaned in response, slipping into unconsciousness.
“Oh Steel, you made this far too easy for me.”