A Tale for the Modern Attention Span
The phone on Steel Bolt’s desk rang that ring that lets him know Beth Breath is calling. “Yes, Miss Breath?”
“Barry Storr on line one, sir. He says he has a business proposition for you. Should I get rid of him?” she asked coolly. (It should be noted that everything Beth Breath says to Steel Bolt these days is said coolly. Poor Beth. Her depression has been so overwhelming since Steel married Charity, it’s all she can do to get out of bed in the morning. Life is unbearable whenever she remembers [and she remembers several times each minute] that Steel chose, for the second time, someone other than her to be his wife. Seeing him breeze past her desk each morning with a smile, that smile, on his face is almost more than she can take. And in the evening when he leaves [earlier now because he has to get home to his wife] Beth prays that tonight will be the night she’s able to summon the courage to end it all.
Yes, seeing him every day is torture, but evenings and weekends are even worse. Not seeing him, knowing that he’s with her, imagining what they’re doing, that’s positively pernicious.
Pretty much everyone in Crescendo Cove knows that Beth’s heart is broken—with the notable exception of Steel Bolt. He remains, as ever, oblivious to her moods, her emotions, her very existence, save what she does in her capacity as his assistant. Perhaps that is the unkindest cut of all.)
“No, put him through,” Steel answered. When Beth had done so he said, “What can I do for you, Mr. Storr?”
“For chrissakes, Steel, call me Barry,” said the voice on other end amiably.
“What can I do for you, Mr. Storr?”
“Well, first of all you could swing some of Bolt Fasteners’ legal work my way. I’m always available for you, Steel.”
“I have a more-than-competent team of attorneys in my employ,” Steel said matter-of-factly.
“Yes, I bet you do,” Mr. Storr laughed again.
“What can I do for you?”
“It’s not what you can do for me, Steel, it’s what I’m going to do for you. I have a client who would like to purchase the land across the street from Bolt Fasteners.”
Steel Bolt owned that land. Before robotics had made their manufacturing division so efficient, much of the assembly and forging of Bolt Fasteners products took place in a factory there. “Someone thinks that because I don’t use that land anymore they can get it for a song, is that it?”
“No Steel, not at all. He’s willing to give you a million dollars for it. Given current market prices, I’d say that’s more than fair.”
“Perhaps, but after I’ve paid for the demolition and disposal of the buildings on the site, I’ll be left with virtually no profit.”
“No, he’ll take care of all retrofitting himself.”
“What does he want it for?”
“I’d say that’s irrelevant as far as you’re concerned, Steel.”
“Who is it?”
“Hmm.” Land I don’t need, land I've been to looking to offload for years, in exchange for a million dollars—a deal too good to be true? Steel thought so, especially considering the source of the offer. He didn’t trust that sleazy Barry Storr even when they were in high school. Yes, all of Steel’s instincts told him to refuse the deal.
But then he realized that the million dollars would be like found money and he could use it to buy Charity all sorts of nice things. A boat perhaps!
Without another thought, he accepted Barry’s offer.
Continue reading: Episode 36: Elementary, My Dear, Dear Bolt