His father's gravestone was a handsome granite; carved into it in Times New Roman were his father’s name, the dates of his birth and death, and the epitaph that his father had requested: “Dead artists roll over in their graves.” Hopper breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that he could report to his mother and sisters that all the dates and spellings were correct, and that the gravesite had not yet been desecrated by any of his fans.
Since their sister's passing, neither Ingrid nor Heidi had visited Birgit’s apartment, which they jointly inherited. “Neither Heidi nor I want to own the apartment,” Ingrid explained to Hopper, “and we just can’t bring ourselves to go there.” However, before the sisters allowed a broker to inspect the residence, they asked Hopper to look it over and stay the night while he was in New York. “You want me to find the porn stash and hide it before anyone finds it?” he asked them over a Zoom.
“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.”
“If you want to have a relationship with someone, you have to work on it,” Ingrid told Hopper. “Your trouble is that having friends is just not that important to you.”
“You can always tell that you are in a neighborhood filled with high rates of unreported crime by how many private art galleries are located there,” Hopper’s father told him. “There are more art galleries in New York than any other city, and more art galleries on the Upper East Side than any other neighborhood in the world.” Hopper's father called this phenomenon "stained-collar crime."
Mayor Andrew Yang had expressed concern about so many people traveling to the city from states where vaccination levels remained low. “I want them coming to New York to spread their cash around, not COVID-19,” he said. “Our city’s positivity rate remains one of the lowest in the country, but we have thousands of tourists arriving every day from places where too many people believe that the vaccines will implant magnets and nano computers into them or turn them into Knicks fans.”
“Silver, I may have been awkward back then, but I was responsible and dutiful when I was still in the crib,” Hopper said. “Any act of my younger self that would come back to haunt me occurred only when you and Olympia dragged me into your Daria dramas and cosplay.” Silver was silent. Hopper thought he had hit a nerve. He didn’t hate his sister, not really, and he did not want to hurt her, either.
“I would recognize you anywhere,” Dilly told Hopper, “even though you stopped cutting your hair and are hiding behind that cute face mask. You walk around in public like a man who is wearing only a large diaper, hoping no one notices that he is barefoot.”
Hopper had acquired his fear of heights when, at the age of eight and standing in the cupola of the Empire State Building’s 102nd floor observatory, he diverted his gaze from New Jersey across the Hudson River to look down. Though encased in impenetrable glass and concrete, Hopper imagined a force of nature -- or perhaps a mystical intervention – forcing him through the building’s membrane and hurtling him towards a violent and gruesome death on the street below, like Evelyn McHale.
“Again, let me explain it to you, Hopper,” Ingrid began, “even though you already know the answer. You are a jerk and impossible to live with – and I am grateful for our divorce – but we are always going to have something between us. It’s like we are still married even though we stopped being married. It’s both disconcerting and wonderful that I can always count on my ex-husband to have my back.”