A Tale for the Modern Attention Span
“His son? He didn’t have a son!” Viveka insisted.
“Yes, Viveka, he did. Almost thirty years ago, before he became as convinced of his sexuality as we all know he did, Earl fathered twins; a boy and a girl,” Steel Bolt informed his brother and sister.
Viveka swooned and sank into her chair. Five seconds ago she thought she’d inherited billions of dollars; now she was discovering she was worth no more than her weekly allowance. “He never told me he had kids,” she said blankly.
“Despite his lack of frankness, these children do exist. Their mother died when they were four, never having told Earl he was a father. After some time in an orphanage they were adopted by separate families. Earl didn’t find out about them until five years ago, at which time he decided to see to it they were properly taken care of. Now interestingly, the girl was raised in a religious family and wanted nothing to do with her father or his money. She insisted that all he’d earned was ‘tainted by Satan.’ The boy was such a simpleton that Earl didn’t bother telling him he was his father. He was convinced his son would be happiest doing some form of manual labour in a relaxed, secure environment. Sound familiar, Viveka?”
Viveka hadn’t been paying attention—but now that she realized Steel’s speech had relevance, she tried to replay it in her head.
He didn’t wait for her to catch up. “That’s right, all that money you thought was yours is going to—” Steel looked to Daedalus to finish his sentence: “Burl Hard,” they said in unison.
“Yes, it was all part of the deal. You and Earl would marry. He would provide your life with stability, while the union would divert the attention of a particular media faction. And I would provide employment and a place to live for his dim-witted son. That's why I had to call off your affair with Burl. I figured I’d let you dally with the boy if that was your inclination, but we certainly couldn’t have the two of you falling in love. Imagine the scandal.”
“So Burl is Earl’s son? Burl gets all the money?”
“Yes honey, that’s correct,” said Steel.
“Well then,” Viveka continued, knowing there was a thread of hope, struggling to grasp it, “I’ll, I’ll run away with him. With all that money we can go anywhere we want. Live like royalty.” Her self-assurance snowballed. “Aha Steel, it seems your plan to keep me under your thumb isn’t going to work after all. I’m going off with Burl. I’ll spend the rest of my life with him. I’ll be Mrs. Burl Hard. I assume he’ll inherit all of Earl’s homes. We’ll jet around the world from one to another. I’m out of here.”
Evenly, Steel said, “Viveka, any time you want to take a trip, let me know and I’ll arrange it. But I’m afraid there will be no world tour with Mr. Hard.”
“What do you mean? We can go wherever we want.”
“No, he can go wherever he wants, but you, you are staying here.”
“Viveka, you don’t really think I’m going to permit you to gallivant around the world with your stepson, do you? I’m sure it’s illegal in many places. Even where it’s not, it’s damned improper.”
“But, I don’t care what you say. I’m going with him.”
“No, I’m sorry, you are not. Young, wealthy Mr. Hard has already been escorted off the grounds and he’s been told to be out of Crescendo Cove by midnight. You see, I warned Earl of the potential for an affair between you and Burl, and he prepared for it; there’s a clause in his will stating that Burl forfeits his inheritance if he takes up with you. Now I know you’re quite a woman Viveka, but I somehow doubt Mr. Hard thinks you’re worth a billion dollars.”
Viveka struggled to draw a breath. “You, you, you bastard! You’re loving this, aren’t you?”
“I’m neither loving nor hating it; I’m merely accepting it. I suggest you do the same.”
She stood up and screamed. Her head darted back and forth until her eyes fell upon the liquor cart in the corner. She ran to it, grabbed one of the crystal decanters and took such a liberal swig that vodka flooded down her chin and neck and disappeared under the front of her robe. She glowered at her brother, then said, “I hate your fucking guts, you miserable sonofabitch!” before stalking out of the room, decanter in hand.
As she went, Steel called after her, “Just to ensure you don’t go running off, I’ve informed the staff that you are not allowed out of the house today. Please, don’t be difficult with them.” As he prepared to leave for the day, Steel said to Daedalus, “We certainly have had some dramatic breakfasts of late, haven’t we?”
“Yes,” Daedalus agreed. Then he added, “Steel, before you go, I have to talk to you.”
“I’m sorry Daedalus, I don’t have time now. I have to get to the office. Perhaps tomorrow at breakfast,” said Steel as he hurried out of the room.
But that’s what you said yesterday, Daedalus thought to himself.
Continue reading:Episode 9: Chastity in a Strip Club