Microcosmia pursues offbeat protagonist Cristian Vane, an emotionally troubled young liberal who's just come into the staggering Vane fortune. With his newfound wealth and responsibility, Vane sets out to put his cosseted life back together, but a series of gut-wrenching misadventures in the real world produce a complete nervous breakdown. The young heir surfaces with a fresh perspective: wealth is wasted on the wealthy; his bequest is a golden opportunity to do something magnificent in a heartless world ...
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The old man rose through the darkness inch by inch, his fingers wriggling on the cold marble sink like maggots on hot china.
A muted click, and a bright pink light was blinking urgently on the bathroom’s ceiling. Security’s in-house monitors flashed back and forth, phones rang in staggered time. Resuscitation equipment kicked to life. A second later every alarm in the mansion was howling.
Old John stood clinging to the crystal faucet heads, horrified by his own reflection: sunken blue marbles for eyes, wasted nose plugged by dangling tubes, a gummy black gash of a mouth. In the strobelike light his lips writhed in slow motion, his eyes appeared to throb in their caves. Unable to turn away, he watched himself dissolve.
“Kaw,” he croaked. The room sank six feet. He tightened his grip and fought for breath. “Kaw!” A scarlet froth broke from his nostrils and oozed down the tubes. The left side of his face seized and relaxed. Seized again. His right arm kicked.
“Kawr!” he gasped. “Kawr, Kawr!”
John’s body rocked like a newborn foal. A long black drop trickled down his hollow cheek, seeming, in the panting light, to jerk as it rolled. His image swam in and out of focus. He coughed, hard. A second later blood was streaming down the backs of his thighs. With all his strength he filled his crepe paper lungs and cried, “Karl!”
The big Austrian slipped between the door and jamb without appearing the least flustered, though he’d dropped everything and sprinted the moment he realized John was off his respirator. He calmly killed the alarm with one hand, turned the wall plate’s polished nickel knob with the other. An array of cream-colored spears emanated from recessed fixtures in the ceiling and walls. Overhead, a fan’s heart-shaped blades began swimming without a whisper, stirring a deep pink pile under-foot.
John staggered back from the sink, fluttering like a lame pigeon. With that same air of casual efficiency, Karl used a pink-on-cream bath towel to plug his master’s trembling bot-tom, simultaneously lifting him free of his bloodied and soiled pajamas.
He lifted him effortlessly.
At one hundred and three, John Beregard Vane weighed a mere sixty-eight pounds, so it was easy as pie for Karl, a former fullback forty years his junior, to scoop him into the Big Bedroom. Karl tenderly placed him on the silk-canopied bed, padded to the ruby-dusted bay window, and mechanically spread the room’s black shrouding curtains, all the while speak-ing as though the old man were a child.
“You are so bad to move, John! This I tell you many times. You must never leave the bed without you call me first. It is no trouble for me to come. But you are such a bad boy to move. What are you thinking? What will I do with you?”
Karl, now washed in bright California sun, crept back to the bed and pulled the cover to Vane’s chin. On the ventilator’s side-caddy were several bowls of pink roses surrounding a plush stuffed Winnie. Between the bear’s splayed knees was a ceramic pot labeled HONEY, and inside this pot rested the room’s fire engine-red rotary telephone. Karl pulled up a chair, reached into the pot, and lifted out the receiver.