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Saint Marcus and Airball and their five children lived in a vast and complicated house in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia known as Blisters. There were 12 bedrooms in the main house and 5 more in Time Out, the carriage house behind Blisters. 



Airball and Saint Marcus lived in Blisters because Saint Marcus’ parents had lived there. Mumbo and Paw Paw were very rich and they had had a staff. They had cleaners and cooks and secretaries and a male nurse and gardeners and someone whose job it was to open and close doors. When they lived there Big House had been a big and beautiful and grand old Victorian mansion, but Mumbo and Paw Paw were long gone and much had changed for the Marcus family. Blisters was still big but it was no longer beautiful and grand.  Blisters was a mess.


Blisters wasn’t just big, it was vast and intricate and complicated. The rooms were not the same size; they were shaped like “L’s” and “Z’s” and “W’s”. And every room had its own eccentricities: a greenhouse here, a second floor sleeping porch there, a bathroom under the stairs which in turn had a little tiny room further behind it that you could only get in if you crawled through a little doorway so low to the ground that no one older than 7 had ever been inside. There was a pantry and a larder and a cold room and a coal chute and 6 laundry chutes and a conservatory and two rooms completely paneled with cedar so that when you went in you felt like you had been taken to a cool and deep forest. There was a safe that was the size of a small room with two combination locks on the front the size of saucers. There was a plant room and in the damp wet moldy recesses of the endless basement there were cubbys and warrens and dens as if the whole thing had not been built but rather dug. All in all, Blisters was a hard place to take care of and Saint Marcus and Airball were not remotely up to the challenge.

And so Blisters deteriorated.  Pipes sprung leaks.  Window panes cracked.  Plaster fell in chunks from the ceiling.  Molding separated from the wall.  Stains bloomed from behind wallpaper.  Floor boards reared up from the flat of the floor.  Light switches ceased to work.  The appliances developed idiosyncrasies.  Slates from the roof slid down into the yard.  Gardens ran wild.  Gutters hung cockeyed.  Like London Bridge, Blisters was falling down.

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