A Tale for the Modern Attention Span
Daedalus Bolt is sitting in a chaise lounge on the back patio of stately Bolt Manor. He’s smoking a cigarette and drinking the last of his scotch and orange juice. It’s just before 8:00 a.m.: Daedalus’s favourite time of the day. It’s his favourite time of the day because Daedalus Bolt hates himself, and for some perverse reason it gives him pleasure to itemize the reasons why each morning before he goes to bed. He hates the fact that he drinks so much. He hates that drinking robbed him of his potential. He hates that he can’t quit. He hates that even if he could quit, he probably wouldn’t. He hates that every night at 11:00 he slinks into Chez Pussy, Crescendo Cove’s sleazy strip joint. He hates that all the strippers know and adore him. He hates the oversized sex drive and matching genitalia that compel him to bed these girls over and over again. He hates that the girls love it so much when he screws them. He hates that his parents are dead. He hates that it was Steel, the younger brother, who stepped in and saved the family business. He hates that it wasn’t him....
Just as Daedalus was cursing his huge libido, he heard the patio door behind him open. He sighed, not in the mood to listen to his sister whine yet again. He inhaled meditatively on his cigarette, hoping it would dissuade Viveka from engaging him in conversation. It didn’t work.
“Oh Daedalus, I just don’t know what to do anymore,” Viv said with well-rehearsed despondency as she flopped into the chair next to his.
“I’m serious, I don’t think I can put up with Steel anymore. The lack of respect he gives us is appalling. He treats us like we're children.”
“He’s right, isn’t he?”
“What do you mean by that?” Viveka asked indignantly.
“Look at the two of us. We’re pathetic. If it weren’t for Steel taking care of us, we’d both be face down in a gutter somewhere.”
“That’s not true. We’re perfectly capable of looking after ourselves. At least I am.”
“You are?” Daedalus laughed. He hadn’t wanted to get drawn into this conversation, but he couldn’t tolerate his sister’s superiority complex. “Viveka, it’s not even 8:00 in the morning and you’re half-snapped. That’s not normal.”
“You’re one to talk. You’re just as drunk as I am.”
“True, but there’s a difference. I accept that I’m a sodden wretch; I do not waste my time pretending I’m not. Unlike your supercilious self, I am fully cognizant of the fact that I’m drinking myself to death. Hell, I’m consciously pursuing it,” he said, raising his glass.
Viveka squirmed in her chair, not comfortable with Daed’s analysis. She decided to try a different tack, one she hoped would garner the sympathy she so craved. “But he gives us an allowance; it’s humiliating.”
“He gives us an allowance so we can be as independent as possible.”
“It’s not very much.”
“It’s not very much because he doesn’t want us to have enough money to get ourselves into any real trouble.”
“What about Burl? Why is he taking Burl away from me?”
“Because unlike you and me, he believes that bullshit about we Bolts being special. And besides, Steel’s been more than lenient with your boyfriend. You’re lucky he hasn’t had Burl ground up and fed to the horses yet.”
“He wouldn’t do that, would he?” Viveka said even though she knew just as well as Daedalus the things Steel was capable of. “I love Burl, you know.”
“No, you don’t, Viv. You started having an affair with him hoping it would enrage Steel. Now that he’s said you have to stop, you’re trying to convince yourself it’s a hardship.”
Although Viveka has made a religion out of never listening to anyone, no matter how well-intentioned or cogent their advice may be, for some reason her brother Daedalus is able to crack her veneer—much to her consternation at times. “Why do you have to be so rational?” she asks, her hands trembling as they light one of her imported cigarettes. “You should be just as upset as I am. Steel robbed us of Daddy’s company. We had as much right to Bolt Fasteners as he did.”
“Ha, what a picture, you and me trying to run the company. We’d give up shortly after we drank all the liquor in the office.”
“I’ll tell you exactly what you should do, Viveka: every morning when you get up and every night before you go to bed, thank whatever god you pray to that Steel Bolt is our brother and that he is able to take care of Daddy’s company and us.” Daedalus pushed himself up from his lounge, stumbled into the patio table and then made his way toward the screen door. “Goodnight Viv. I’m going to bed. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
Viveka Bolt-Vandermere had listened to everything Daedalus said, but she remained unconvinced. She stayed on that patio for a long time, trying to figure out exactly what she should do about her youngest brother.
Continue reading: Episode 7: This Widow’s Grief / Is Exceptionally Brief