A Tale for the Modern Attention Span
“Chas—” Steel Bolt started before realizing, based on her throughly uninterested expression, that his former wife had no idea who he was.
“What’ll it be?” she asked dispassionately.
Steel could not speak.
“Hello. What do you want to drink, buddy?”
“Uhhh, I’ll have a ... a beer, I guess.”
“A beer? Care to be more specific?”
“We’ve got like a gajillion different kinds of beer, mister”
“Oh. Well, you decide—wait, I just remembered, I don’t drink.”
“Well then, a beer would be a bad idea, wouldn’t it?” the woman who was once Chastity Bolt replied condescendingly.
“Yes, it would," Steel agreed. "Just, uh, bring me a soda water.”
“Soda water it is.” Then the woman who earlier in her life had been the most benevolent person in the world walked away shaking her head exasperatedly.
Steel sat stunned for a moment or two—then he whirled around in his seat and met his brother’s eyes across the room (Daedalus Bolt having parted his circle of admirers to witness the reunion). Steel knew the look on his own face vindicated Daedalus’s supposition regarding Chastity.
For the next two hours, from midnight until 2:00 a.m., Steel Bolt did not speak to the woman who had once promised to spend the rest of her life with him. When she returned with his soda water, he gave her an outrageous tip. So good, that she came back frequently to see if he wanted another. He would respond with either a nod or a shake of the head, but he did not speak.
He watched her, though. The only time he took his eyes off her was when she looked at him. The only time she looked at him was upon inquiring if he needed another drink. At no point did she stare at him with a look of profundity, one that would have told Steel Bolt that she remembered who he was, that they were in love, that they’d pledged eternal devotion to each other. No, no such thing occurred.
Steel watched her continually for those two hours, trying to fathom how it was possible that his beloved, presumed dead, candidate-for-sainthood wife was working as a waitress in Chez Pussy. Must maintain control, he told himself over and over again. This mystery may never be solved if I do something stupid now.
He was stricken with fear at the thought that one of the dancers might get sick or not show up when it was her turn, for Daedalus had told Steel that when that happened Chastity herself would take the stage. Steel knew he wouldn’t be able to tolerate the confederacy of louts within Chez Pussy leering and hollering at his wife.
He watched her silently; it was painful to do so, yet he knew he could not leave. And the entire time he watched her, he knew Daedalus was watching him.
His brother was impressed by Steel’s composure. He half-expected him to lunge at Chastity and try to drag her out of the place. But no, Steel sat passively and watched his wife work.
Until it was time to go. The last dancer had finished, drinks were being taken from the tables, and the guy hidden away somewhere was saying “THAT’S ALL FOR TONIGHT GENTLEMEN. YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO HOME, BUT YOU CAN’T STAY HERE. SEE YOU ALL TOMORROW,” when Steel started to leave. He got almost as far as the front door before turning around. He took a few halting steps toward Chastity (who was hunched over, wiping a table on the other side of the room), then broke into a sprint. Daedalus Bolt saw what was happening and pushed a few members of his harem out of the way in an attempt to get to his brother before he got to Chastity. He failed.
Steel grabbed his wife by the shoulders, turned her around and screamed into her face, “Why Chastity? Why did you leave me? What are you doing here? What’s going on—”
That’s all he got to say before four humongous bouncers with bushy beards were upon him, preparing to beat him lifeless. They were dissuaded from doing so by Daedalus who jumped on their backs, screaming, “Don’t hurt him! He’s my brother! Don’t hurt him!”
Since the miscreant was a relative of the bar’s best customer, the neanderthals were content to drag Steel along the floor and toss him out the door. As they did so, he put up a game fight. The entire time he struggled to reverse their course, screaming, “Why, Chastity? Why?”
Continue reading: Episode 16: Trixie Meet Chastity. Chastity, Trixie