Episode 82: Because of Deals That Unfurl, Steel Summons Burl

Who’s Initially Stunned by the Girl,

But Then Dispenses a Foreboding Pearl

“You can’t do that, we had an agreement! ... I know we didn’t sign anything, but you gave me your word!  Doesn’t that mean anything in your country? ... What? ... Don’t you dare hang up on me, you sashimi-sucking bastard—Oh fuck!”  Steel Bolt slammed the phone into its cradle then struggled to draw a pacifying breath.  Control!  Got to maintain control.  Can’t let this beat me.  Must take control!  

A few moments later he picked up the receiver and said, “Miss Breath, get Burl Hard in here for a meeting as soon as possible.”


Later that same afternoon it was a discombobulated looking Burl Hard who entered Steel’s office.  His bemusement was owing, of course, to the fact that he’d just re-encountered Beth Breath.

“Have a seat, Mr. Hard.  Can I get you anything?  Coffee?  Juice?” Steel Bolt asked.

Burl cleared his throat self-consciously, “Ahem.  No, but I would appreciate if you’d tell me what you want.  I’m very busy across the street.”

“Very busy indeed,” Steel said.  “Busy stealing a contract I had sewn up with the Nakatomi Corporation.”

“I think the fact they chose to do business with Hard Hinges indicates that you did not have the contract ‘sewn up’,” Burl replied, complete with air quotes.

Steel leaned across his desk: “I don’t know who is pulling the strings over there, but I am sick of this shit!  Every time it looks like I have a new client, you assholes swoop in at the last minute and snatch them away by offering ridiculously low prices.  And now some of my established clients, some who've been with us since my father was fashioning bolts in his garage, are leaving because you’re offering them 50 percent discounts.  This isn’t business you’re conducting, it’s murder.”

“You are entitled to your opinion regarding our business practices; there is, however, nothing you can do about it,” Burl said placidly.

“There is so something I can do about it,” Steel snarled, “and that’s not take it any more!  If you want to play dirty that’s how we’ll play and rest assured, you’ll be out of business in no time.”

Burl shook his head.  “You don’t get it, do you Mr. Bolt?  It’s you who’s going down.  I’m surprised I have to tell you this, since you should’ve figured it out yourself by now, but your circumstances are about to change, profoundly and irrevocably.”  Burl made this ominous statement as coolly as a man who’d rehearsed it a thousand times.  Then he got up from his chair and walked out the door, leaving Steel Bolt with a gaping mouth and a pulse rate of approximately 600.

Continue Reading: Episode 83: Murder, She Read