A Tale for the Modern Attention Span
Wow, a mere glance at Daedalus Bolt and you can see he’s in rough shape. For two months now, ever since he found out Trixie Testosterone had reverted to being Chastity Bolt and that she was pregnant, he’s been drinking quantities of alcohol that put his previous levels of consumption to shame. Quantities that would put entire Russian provinces to shame, actually. He looks terrible, he smells worse and the most distressing thing is that he doesn’t care. He has, in fact, redoubled his efforts to commit suicide with alcohol and so far it’s going quite well, thank you very much.
Viveka sits across the table and gazes at him sympathetically. She’s tried talking to him, tried counselling him on the advantages of sobriety, but there’s no getting through. “There’s nothing worse than a reformed drunk,” he tells her every time she suggests he seek help. “Just because you’ve decided not to have fun anymore, you think everyone else shouldn’t too.” (He usually blows smoke into her face after making that ingenious observation.)
Truly, Viveka has kicked the habit. Since meeting Hugh Rection, she has turned her life around completely. No more drinking, no more drugs (prescription or illicit) and no more cigarettes. And you know what, even without the toxicological reversal, this would still be the healthiest relationship she’s ever had. In the past, Viveka was known to subjugate her needs and identity in favour of whatever her boyfriends wanted. But Hugh has encouraged Viveka to explore herself; to discover what it is she wants out of life, and what she enjoys doing (which only makes sense, because when drinking is the only thing you do, and you suddenly stop doing it, there are a lot of hours to fill in a day). So while Hugh’s at his job, Viv has been working on self-improvement and self-exploration. Her favourite area of endeavour, as she would happily tell you, is painting. She’s taken to applying oils to canvas with abandon—and her teacher tells her she’s quite good. A gallery show may even be in the offing, once her portfolio is large enough.
Look, there’s Charity Bolt sitting at her husband’s right hand. The poor dear looks pale and ill. She knows now that to taste the forbidden fruit and then be denied it, except for fifteen minutes on Wednesdays and Sundays, is worse than never having tasted it at all. She is often seen wandering the halls of stately Bolt Manor, muttering to herself, “If only he’d do it to me more.” Still a naïve creature, she tests her eyesight frequently, examines her palms for hair, and worries that her wandering mind is a byproduct of her sole hobby.
Steel, as per usual, is positioned at the head of the table. But this particular morning he has an uncustomary snarl on his face. A couple of times he’s put down the Business Section to glare at Viveka, but she hasn’t noticed. Finally he can remain silent no more: “So Viveka, have you talked to your boyfriend lately?”
Taken aback by his accusing tone, she says, “Uh, I was at Hugh’s apartment last night.”
“Not that boyfriend. I mean Burl Hard.”
“Yes. He’s back in town!”
“I had no idea.”
“Well, he is. And it seems he’s decided to use his billion dollar fortune to create a company to compete with Bolt Fasteners,” Steel says, again accusingly.
“He has? Why?”
“I'm not sure. You’d better hope it’s not part of some scheme to get you back.”
“Well, if you do hear from him, let me know. I’m scheduled to meet with him this afternoon.”
“Of course, Steel. If he gets in touch, I’ll contact you immediately.”
“Good,” he said before standing abruptly, throwing his napkin down and striding out of the room.
Viveka mulled over this startling information for a few minutes. Poor Hugh, was the one thought that returned to her mind again and again.
Continue reading: Episode 38: Burl's Hardheadedness