Table of Contents here.
June 16, 2022 – “May I call you in the next 10 minutes?” the text from Olympia asked. Hopper was taken aback by Olympia’s sudden observance of his rule to text before calling.
“Yes,” he responded.
Hopper was standing in front of the apartment building on East 79th Street that had been firebombed several months earlier by a domestic terrorist group. A group of five masked men had forced their way into the lobby by showing, according to the doorman on duty, “Glocks and AR-15’s.” They hurled Molotov cocktails like Mardi Gras beads. Two of the bombs made their way into an elevator. The terrorists had mistaken the apartment building for one of the residences in Manhattan owned by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The entrance was still scorched, but the elevator had been restored to service. The building’s management and their insurer were still deadlocked on payment for the remainder of the restoration.
The terrorists were arrested the following day in Pennsylvania and Ohio. They had left a note at the scene directing their ire at Bloomberg, a note with several intact fingerprints of the wife of one of the men. Apparently, he had used her stationery. The FBI, the ATF, and the NYPD had gotten maximum publicity at the time of the arrest, but people were beginning to forget the names of the perpetrators. The trial was not set to start for several months. All five men had pleaded not guilty. They were angered and felt justified in their actions by Bloomberg’s support for gun control legislation and his financial contributions to political candidates who promised to rein in unregulated gun ownership.
In dueling statements, the men – through their attorney — claimed that “this action should send a message to the tyrants and communists who want to deprive freedom loving Americans of their rights,” and Bloomberg responded, “I probably am a tyrant. Most people think of me as a capitalist, not a communist. And I have never owned nor lived in the building those idiots tried to destroy.”
No one was killed and or injured. Quick action by the doorman and the building superintendent helped contain the blaze before the fire department arrived to finish extinguishing the fire. The bombing was the tenth of its type that year; domestic terrorist groups – several citing “the stolen presidential election of 2020” and “the takeover of our government by corrupt political elites who are dedicated to destroying the country that we love” – targeted groups supporting women’s rights, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ groups, gun control, and, of course, CNN.
Hopper was certain that he, Rudy, and Silver had been to a party in the building when he was a senior in high school. The apartment’s father had a VHS recording of “Anchorman,” karaoke was sung, and he and Silver woke up on the floor of a guest bedroom when the apartment’s mother called everyone into the kitchen for pancakes. Were the wholesome kids of Topeka, Kansas, doing the same thing? he asked himself.
Hopper turned to continue his walk but bumped into a man. He noticed that it was Stephen. “Sorry,” Hopper said.
“Why are you sorry?” Stephen asked.
“It just what people say,” Hopper answered. “Manners are expected.”
“Do you always do what’s expected?” Stephen asked, turning away from Hopper and quickly disappearing down the block.
Hopper was brought back to present by Olympia’s ringtone, Bo Burnham’s “That Funny Feeling.”
“It’s odd,” he told Olympia. “I keep running into Stephen. You know, the poet. I know he’s dead, but he’s everywhere I go today. I just had a brief conversation with him on East 79th Street.”
“You are mental or lying,” Olympia said. “Or both. Probably both. Definitely both.”
“Were you friends with Stephen?”
“Yes, Hopper. You didn’t take Stephen seriously when he was alive,” Olympia said. “He was a poet, trying to make the world more palatable for the rest of us. That’s noble. You were just consuming everyone and everything around you.”
“You see, this is why no one likes you, brother, and why people adore me,” she began. “I give a fuck. Everyone and everything for you is transactional.”
“Really? Did you know that Stephen was an athlete, that he made the Olympic rowing team in 1980?”
“The Olympics we boycotted?”
“Yes. Did you know that Stephen graduated from NYU Law School near the top of his class and went to work for one of the better law firms on Wall Street? Did you know that he lost that law firm job after the stock market crashed in 1987? Did you know that he moved to Paris afterwards and started to write poetry? That he met and married a woman named Josie from South Carolina and they had a son? That they moved back to New York, divorced, and Josie returned to Paris with their son?”
“No,” Hopper answered. “I didn’t know any of that. All he wanted to talk about was getting an apartment in Westbeth.”
“That’s all you remember because he wanted something you had, but he was so much more than that and you could not have cared less.”
“None of us is perfect, Olympia.”
“Don’t throw that line of bullshit at me now,” she shouted. “You know, our mother and my movie premieres tonight and there’s media and a party and I’m a little busy right now, but you want so desperately to insinuate yourself into my day. Let’s get down to it because I need to go. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“It’s Silver,” he answered.
“I am concerned,” he began. “I don’t know how to put this in a diplomatic or loving fashion.”
“Just say it, Hopper,” Olympia said. “Whatever you have to say, I’ll get mad at you and then end up forgiving you because we all end up forgiving you in the end.”
“Okay. You keep – or kept – journals about Silver. Her secrets and some of yours. Things that you saw or heard. Private things. Things that could hurt Silver if people outside of our family knew about them.”
“Just so you know, Hopper, I keep a journal on you, too. And one each on our mother and our dear, departed father.”
“Thanks for letting me know?” Hopper began. “Look, you’re getting a lot of traction in the world now because you turned your fake journal about Sylvia, I mean ‘Astrid’ into a movie. Are you going to keep your momentum going by turning your journals about Silver into movies, too?”
“Hopper, you are a right motherfucker,” Olympia said right before ending the call.
Hopper stopped walking and looked south on Second Avenue. He saw a taxi nearly hit an elderly woman with a cane jaywalking about 150 feet away from him.
Olympia called him back.
“You know, Hopper, I am not really beautiful. Probably not pretty, either,” she said. “Not like Silver at least. But I am comfortable in my own skin and this movie project has begun to restore my confidence after Chasen Whitney squashed me like a bug. A little success and confidence will make the world think that a mousy woman like me is the sexiest beast around.”
“Hopper, Silver and I had this conversation last year,” Olympia said. “She and I now agree about the journals. She is in possession of the only copies of the journals that mention her. There’s nothing there. It’s cute and kind of adorable that the big brother is trying – however feebly – to look out for his little sister against the plotting of the forgotten middle child.”
“It’s not like that…”
“Yes, it is,” Olympia barked. “That’s why I am glad that Silver called me on it. We had quite a fight about the journals. She called me on what she described as my “avarice and ambition.” She was right. I gotta give the girl props for keeping her agency.”
“That’s nice,” Hopper said. “I mean it.”
“I swear to god that I will kill you if you sleep with Charlize Theron tonight.”
“We’re just having dinner. Wait, how did you know about our dinner?”
“Hopper, the National Security Agency has nothing on us when it comes to your life.”
“Who is this ‘us’ you just mentioned?”
“The women in your life,” Olympia answered. “We care about your sorry ass. That’s all you need to know.”
Continue to Chapter 18 here.