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.For instance, Edgar Schermerhorn was his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather’s first cousin.If not for that kinship, The Breviary’s strange design would never have gotten funding.In 1932, The Breviary was nearly sold by its shareholders after an eruption of suicides, but spared by one dissenting vote: his great-great-grandfather: Martin Hearst III.In Marty’s lifetime, the building’s foundation had finally begun to buckle, top down.There was a reason no one had lived on the fifteenth floor: since the fire ten years ago, the plaster under the copper roof had caved in.Martin Hearst the First: The Civil War newspapers joked that the name was fitting, one letter off from a heart.The stories about him passed down over the generations had become legend.A hardened, self-made man with no patience for the meek, who took what he wanted, and from his neighbors inspired awe.By the time Marty VII was born one hundred years later, the legend was a God.During the Gilded reign of Martin Hearst II, The Breviary thrived.Crystal chandeliers sparkled, mahogany wood shone, glass gleamed; even the copper roof defied its atmosphere, and for decades stayed the color of freshly minted pennies.The children of The Breviary’s elite attended the same summer camps and private schools, shared governesses, and married each other, too.The address became fashionable, and as the building’s population swelled, they broke up apartments, smaller and smaller.Twelve bedrooms became six, then four, and finally, two.And if sometimes, the lights flickered, or the doors flew open, such happenings served only to enhance The Breviary’s charm.The third generation started new businesses that brought them to the West Coast or the oil fields of Texas.They intended to return, but never did.The rest inherited family fortunes or found local occupation as bankers, Broadway actors, writers, sculptors, critics, and gossip columnists.They were the first to indulge in the rituals of Chaotic Naturalism: sacrificed animals, séances, dream sharing, scholarship in the occult.The flapper generation cast aside petty drudgery and perfected the art of the ball.Then one morning over coffee and sodium bicarbonate to soothe the barking dogs that had bitten them the night before, they read about the unfathomable Great Depression.Companies were sold.Family names lost luster.Patriarchs jumped out windows or sold heirloom jewels.They married each other, no longer because the outside world was not good enough but because no one else would understand the humbled majesty of their roots.Sixth generation.The Harlem address lost its bucolic luster.The tenants talked fondly of the golden years and mourned their lost comforts: summer houses, ski lodges, years abroad in Rome.They saved their pennies, Ziplocked leftovers, hemmed their clothes and passed them down to their children.At night, they imagined the disappointed ghosts of their ancestors whispering abuse in their slumbering ears.They avoided sunlight; it burned their fair skin.They didn’t like the jarring sound of street traffic, either.Or the sight of poverty because they knew it was contagious.Marty remembered the parties back then.His kid-sized double-breasted suit; peeking out from behind his mother’s legs to watch dapper men and women trade barbs and cocktails like the last sophisticates hiding from a barbaric world.Monday nights, a rotating group of families had served spirits in their apartments, gatherings that had ended in lamp shades on heads, shared bedmates, words of unforgivable cruelty, and children of unknown paternity.By the arrival of the seventh generation, the place had echoed with emptiness, and the laughter was resentful.The tenants had turned on one another, because there was no one left to blame.It happened so slowly that at first, none of them noticed.The walls hummed.The stained-glass birds and mosaics sometimes took flight.The hallways constricted like throats.Hinges creaked.Nightmares flew loose from their authors and inhabited the building like cold air.Finally, the last of The Breviary’s line ascended: the seventh generation.The building emptied.By then, more had died within its walls than lived there.The ghosts, echoes of the past, Breviary tricks, even a few genuine trapped souls, walked the halls.Tenants auctioned off the last trappings of their legacies: diamond broaches, Chanel suits, and Tiffany lamps.No longer just a home, The Breviary became their sanctuary.They loved it the way men born to captivity love their masters: reluctantly and with self-loathing.With their last pennies, they paid doctors to score their faces.For a short time, Marty got out.He sublet a studio in the West Village that he hoped to make permanent.But the rents were raised, and striking out on his own in a new city would have opened too much possibility for failure.He moved back to The Breve, and the elevator doors as they shut had sounded like those of a cage.Benjamin Borrell in 3A was the first to build a door.Francis Galton came next.After that, 11E [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]