A Tale for the Modern Attention Span
His words took a few seconds to register with their target. When they did, a look of incredulity passed over Viveka Bolt-Vandermere’s face. “Why the fuck not?”
“I think you know perfectly well why,” Steel replied, opting not to admonish his sister for her use of profanity at the table.
“No, I don’t, Steel,” Viveka said, rising from her seat. “Why don’t you explain it to me? Tell me why you feel the need to deprive me of the one thing in my miserable life that gives me pleasure? I’ve always loved riding, you know that. You want me to be unhappy, don’t you?”
“Viveka, I want nothing less for you than perpetual bliss, but it has become painfully obvious to everyone around here that it’s no horse you are going to the stables to ride. You are a Bolt, and as such you are expected to abide by a certain moral code. Not having sex with stable boys is pretty high on that list.” Steel said all of this dispassionately, hoping to avoid provoking one of Viveka’s legendary fits. It didn’t work.
“Why?” she began with a sniffle, “why does everyone hate me so much? All my life I’ve tried to make people happy, and what do I get in return? Heartache! You’re just like Daddy. You want me to be miserable so you can control me. So what if I’m fucking Burl Hard? What business is it of yours? I love him and he loves me and we’re going to be together no matter what you say!”
“No Viveka, you are not. He is a manure-manipulator and you, in addition to being a Bolt, are a married woman.”
“Married? You call what I have with that … that man a marriage? That was another one of your schemes to control me. But it’s not going to work. I’m getting a divorce and I’m going to spend the rest of my life with Burl.”
“No you’re not,” Steel said, his voice rising.
Daedalus Bolt, watching impassively, took note of his brother’s error: Oh great, now he’s done it.
“How dare you yell at me!?” Viv said indignantly. “After all the pain and suffering you’ve caused me. You and Daddy keeping me locked in this prison of a house.” As per usual, at this point in the rant she started to weep. “Daddy took my baby away from me. My adorable, sweet, little baby. And he drove away the only man I ever loved. You don’t know what it’s like to have that happen to you.”
Steel adopted a matter-of-fact tone: “Viveka, please exercise some self-control. Did you really think Daddy would let you keep that baby and allow Mr. Benoit to remain here?”
“Would that have been so horrible? At least I would’ve been happy.”
“Viveka, you were 16 years old. Benoit was nearly 40. Not to mention the fact he was our butler.”
“You hated him because he was black!”
“Viveka, I was 10 years old at the time. Please stop attributing decisions to me that I had nothing to do with.”
“But, you’re doing the same thing now! You’re taking away the man I love.”
Steel decided not to suggest that she didn’t actually love Burl Hard—she would only convince herself that she did. “I guess you’re right, Viveka, I am. But it’s for your own good. The bottom line is, you are not to go to the stables unaccompanied. If I find out you’ve been sneaking around, you’ll be in a great deal of trouble. Do you understand?”
Viveka squinted her eyes at Steel, as if to focus all the loathing she felt for him, then she screamed, “Why do you hate me so much?” before sobbing and running from the room.
“Steel, wait” Daedalus said.
“Uh...” Daedalus twisted the ring on his right hand (the ring his father had given him for his 18th birthday); that’s how you know he’s agitated. “Who is Burl Hard?” he asked after a pause. One paying more attention than Steel probably would’ve concluded that wasn’t the question Daedalus originally intended to ask.
“What do you mean?”
“It’s been obvious for weeks now that he and Viv are having an affair. People who cross you like that normally disappear from the face of the earth, yet you haven’t even fired him. I can only assume he’s someone special. So who is he? Who is Burl Hard?”
Continue reading: Episode 3: A Dialogue on the Feeding of Horses