A Tale for the Modern Attention Span
If you were to approach the city of Crescendo Cove by water (as some people still do) you would first encounter the docks and piers that once bustled with the business of shipping timber and its by-products. These docks are rarely used nowadays, but you could still alight from your craft there.
Once upon solid ground, if you were to head toward the center of Crescendo Cove, you would travel a main street (Fastener Avenue) that befits a city of nearly one hundred thousand residents. You would pass the post office, City Hall, various shops, restaurants, banks and office buildings. All of these entities thrive, which may surprise you given the downturn in the lumber industry in this area. Crescendo Cove has not been affected like other overcut locales, however.
If you were to turn left on Bolt Street and travel a short distance, you would see the source of Crescendo Cove’s prosperity: a large office and factory complex with a sign out front proclaiming “BOLT FASTENERS” in bright red letters. Residents of Crescendo Cove love Bolt Fasteners; they consider it their saviour, and they’re right. It is the town’s chief employer and economic hub. The naming of the city’s main streets is testimony to the public’s esteem.
If you were to continue past Bolt Fasteners, a few miles out of town you probably wouldn’t notice a nondescript laneway amidst the majestic evergreens on your right. But if you did and you turned down it, you would see that the lane doesn’t remain nondescript for long. After a hundred yards it emerges into a clearing, and there you couldn’t help but be amazed by the twenty-foot high concrete wall, complete with buttresses, battlements, and a wrought iron gate. Above the entryway you would see an arch, within which large stone letters read “BOLT MANOR”.
Now you couldn’t possibly expect to breach the fortified gate on this or any other day, but if you somehow did get through, you would travel a long, crushed gravel driveway, admiring the finely manicured grounds and topiaries as you went. Then you’d probably think you’d been transported to Europe, what with that castle in front of you.
If by some ingenious means you managed to get in the front door of that castle, you would be standing in a foyer with a carved ceiling three stories above, a marble staircase ten feet wide in front of you, and innumerable passageways scattered about.
If you chose to travel the hallway directly to the right of the stairs, you’d eventually come to what stately Bolt Manor’s residents refer to as the “breakfast room.” You’d be able to smell that the kitchen is nearby, but—like the Bolts themselves—you wouldn’t bother determining exactly where it is. You wouldn’t because you’d be too intrigued by the trio seated at the table.
When you first catch sight of the female, you might think she’s the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen. But then you’d look closer and conclude that some time ago she may have been stunning, but not so much anymore.
Viveka Bolt-Vandermere is in her late thirties. She still possesses a curvaceous figure, her hair is still naturally dark and curly, and her sizeable bosom still juts out impressively—but her face is slightly haggard now, and her once fiery green eyes are dull and placid.
This particular morning, as with most others, Viveka spends most of her time glancing at those around her with disdain. Maybe she’s irritated because she doesn’t have much of an appetite? Maybe she’d be better off if her orange juice didn’t have that splash of vodka in it? Maybe she’d be better off if the splash were larger?
You’d probably feel sorry for Viveka, but all sympathy for her would melt away the instant you notice her younger brother Daedalus sitting across the table. Compared to Daedalus, Viveka is positively radiant.
Poor Daedalus looks like he can’t figure out why he’s at the breakfast table—or, for that matter, what food itself is all about. This look of befuddlement could be attributed to the scotch in his orange juice (he meant to add vodka but grabbed the wrong bottle), but it’s more likely owing to the fact he hasn’t been to bed yet. Daedalus Bolt’s blond hair is thinning, his face is pale and sallow, his once merely thin frame is now gaunt and frail.
Behind that Business Section at the end of the table is the youngest of the Bolt children. If you could see Steel Bolt,you’d surely be impressed. He’s in his early thirties, a tall, strapping man with a head of dark, tightly-curled hair. Beneath his crisp suit, his perfectly knotted tie and his carefully starched shirt, you would sense there exists a broad chest, powerful shoulders and thick, veiny arms. Steel is efficient, lucid, analytical, and entirely devoid of the propensity for excess his brother and sister share.
And he, of course, is the reason the other two are present for breakfast. Since the death of his wife, Steel has found it impossible to eat dinner at Bolt Manor; the memories are simply too overwhelming. He insists, however, that the surviving members of the Bolt family gather each morning and at least look at bacon and eggs on a plate. Usually not a word passes between them, but Steel’s unswerving devotion to the practice remains; he’s convinced it’s what his mother and father would have wanted.
And if you were present at the Bolt family breakfast this particular morning, you would hear Steel utter the phrase that is to set our entire story in motion—
“Viveka, I don’t want you going to the stables anymore.”
Continue reading: Episode 2: Breakfast: The Most Important Fight of the Day