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Episode 107: Party of One

Initially after returning with the champagne, Beth Breath refused to listen to the voice inside her head.  The one that was screaming, Something is wrong!

She rationalized, It’s only natural he should want to celebrate after the ordeal he’s been through.  He almost went to jail for embezzlement.  

It’s a good thing Beth wasn’t aware how close Steel Bolt came to being arrested for the murders of the Crescendo Cove Crusher or it might have taken her even longer to admit something truly was amiss.  That happened after she’d had her second glass of champagne and realized her boss had no intention of stopping.  

She was sitting in her chair while he was perched atop her desk, one leg draped over either side of a corner, very un-Steel-like.  Even stranger was his embarrassing garrulousness.  She’d never known him to talk about himself before, but now he rambled on:  “... God, my life used to be so hard, so full of difficulties.  I missed out on a lotta good stuff—but not anymore, not now that I’ve discovered the key to leading a stress-free, rewarding, fun existence,” he said, trying to sound enigmatic as he held up his glass. 

Beth’s concern mounted when Steel responded to her suggestion that maybe they’d had enough with a look of utter contempt.  He stared down at her for a second and said, “Fine, I’ll have my own party.”  With that he grabbed several bottles of champagne and walked into his office.  She wasn’t positive, but she thought she heard him mumble “Bitch” under his breath.

As the hours passed, Beth’s anxiety escalated.  In his office, all by himself, she could hear him getting drunk.  How do you hear someone getting drunk?  Well, she could hear each time he opened a new bottle of champagne, and she could hear him giggling to himself, and she distinctly heard it when he tried to sit in his chair and missed—an incident that provoked roars of laughter.

Beth’s befuddlement reached its peak at 4:00 p.m. when Steel tried to stroll casually out of his office (an open bottle of champagne in hand).  He failed at the nonchalance, staggering helplessly into her desk.  “Oh, excuse me,” he mumbled. 

Beth was so distracted returning him to his feet and picking up the things he’d knocked off her desk that she didn’t realize he was leaving until he was already in the elevator.  She called out, “Mr. Bolt, you’re not driving are you?” but it was too late; the doors closed and he was descending....