Episode 105: Steel Lies, Almost Dies, Practically Cries—Then Gets Wise

Steel Bolt knew that if ever there was a time in his life when he had to lie, and lie well, this was it.  He summoned all of the strength he possessed—and all of it was required—to lift his head.  He then endeavoured to transform the explosion of pain he felt to a look of indignation as he said to Viveka, “Of course, I haven’t been drinking.  Everyone knows I don’t drink.”

“But the glass—and the decanter—it’s empty.  And you’re wearing the same clothes you had on yesterday.  You got so drunk you weren’t able to stand up.  You passed out with your face in a spilled drink,” Viv accused.

Her voice was going through his head like fishing line with red-hot hooks attached, but Steel did his best to appear placid.  “Moogoo came to see me last night, and he had a couple of drinks.  But you’re right about me sleeping here.  I did so because I was exhausted from worrying about being sent to prison for a series of murders I didn’t commit.  And because my business was about to fail.”

Viv wavered.  She so wanted to believe him that she was willing to ignore the telltale signs—the bloodshot eyes, the dishevelment, the gravelly voice.  Perhaps they’re all due to stress, she told herself.  “I’m, I’m sorry, Steel.  I didn’t mean to accuse you.  After all you’ve been through, I imagine the last thing you need is me harping at you.  Sorry.”

“It’s not a problem.  I forgive you,” Steel said magnanimously while suppressing a gag.  “Now, could you please leave? I have some things I need to do before I go to work.”

“Of course,” said Viv.  “Hurry up and get to work, Steel.  Bask in this wonderful news!  It looks like things are finally turning around for the Bolt family.”

When the door closed behind her, Steel wilted in his chair.  What is this I’m feeling?  Complete lethargy accompanied by acute pain and overwhelming nausea.  And what died in my mouth last night?  I’ve never felt worse in my entire life.  What am I going to do?  I have to go to work.  I have to function normally.  

Suddenly Steel remembered a poster that hung on Daedalus’s wall when he was a teenager.  It said, “Avoid Hangovers, Stay Drunk.”  

Then he remembered an idiom he’d heard before: “The hair of the dog that bit you.”

Steel didn’t know the etymological significance of the phrase, but he understood enough of its connotation.  He picked up (with hands that wouldn’t stop trembling) the crystal decanter and poured its remnants into his glass from the night before.  He swallowed it all in a single gulp and felt soothing relief as the booze hit his bloodstream.  Ahhhhh.

He rose with conviction, ready to go to work.  Before leaving though he turned and looked at a picture on the wall.  It was a painting his father had commissioned of a ship he once owned.  Steel stared at the picture, almost through it, and thought, I’ve got you now, you bastard.

Continue Reading: Episode 106: Thinkin' 'Bout Drinkin'