WARNING: Mentions of suicide, sexual violence, and muder.
My family’s home was right down the street from Mavvith Apartments. All we had to do was open up our spacious living room window that sat right behind our comfy, olive green couch and there you would get the perfect view of the monumental building.
I always found myself sitting in our living room and looking out at Mavvith Apartments. In awe of it. Me, an eighteen year old Black boy, intrigued by an old apartment building that had been around since before my grandparents were born. It was crazy. But here I was again, getting home from school and heading straight to the living room to look out at the old building.
Mavvith was a towering high-rise apartment building that sat right in the middle of East and Mierdsdale Street. It was one of the buildings that let you know you were about to enter the hustle and bustle of downtown Cykriss. It had been around since 1826, and painstaking maintenance had kept it up throughout the years. Its vintage, brick exterior, discolored from years of weathering the elements, with old, black, chipped, wooden window borders stood out amongst the sleek, modern, buildings in its vicinity. My Momma and Pop told me that at one point all the other buildings around Mavvith Apartments looked the same way too. But as time passed, they were all destroyed. Now, Mavvith was the only one of its kind still standing. Its aged frame surrounded by modern buildings with glossy exteriors made from smooth, silver and black metals with curving, swooping, swirling architectural design. It was an old, seasoned building that was a beautiful remnant from an era long past. But….sadly, that was all about to change.
Now, Mavvith Apartments was about to meet the same demise its siblings had. Complete destruction. It pained my heart knowing that the famous high-rise was soon going to fall. I didn’t want it to. Just the mere presence of Mavvith Apartments standing there made me feel connected to a period of time that I never knew. I could look at it, walk past it, and seemingly touch an era that was no longer here.
A grey “Keep Out” fence surrounded the building now, along with bright, lime green and white safety cones. Some of the windows of Mavvith were now boarded up, and a solid amount of plant life had taken up residence on and around the building. Demolition workers were all around Mavvith as well, preparing for its collapse. I wondered if they still wanted Mavvith Apartments to stick around too. I wondered if they felt the same way I did about the building being destroyed. They probably didn’t though. All of this was probably just another job to them. As long as they got their paychecks, they could care less about what happens to some old, high-rise apartments.
As I looked out at Mavvith, I began to recall all the stories my Momma, Pops, and grandparents told me about the building.
My grandparents told me that back in the day, in their day in particular, Mavvith Apartments was a gathering place for folks of all ages. But especially the youth. What made Mavvith Apartments so special was that it was a harbor for talented, creative minds. Alot of the folks that lived in Mavvith Apartments were extremely talented musicians, artists, and writers. Many of them going on to become famous.
My Momma’s parents lived in Mavvith Apartments back then. My Pop’s parents didn’t live there, but they certainly made the apartments their number one hangout spot. My folks told me that there was always a live show goin’ on in the front yard of the apartment building, especially during the end of the week. You didn’t have to pay a hefty chunk of money to go see a concert downtown, when you could get one for just as little as two dollars by the local talent that lived in the same apartment complex as you. And usually, the live shows on the green lawn of Mavvith were better than the concerts playing at the stadiums and venues downtown. Artists and writers that lived in Mavvith Apartments would sell their works on the front yard as well. Folks from all over Cykriss could come and buy magnificent art pieces, and amazing literature right from the talented creatives themselves.
The bands that founded Cykriss Jazz, Bold Onyx and Sky Ocean, were birthed within the walls of Mavvith Apartments. The bands became two of the most famous music groups in not only Cykriss, but the world. My parents told me that without them, the jazz music of Cykriss wouldn’t be as good as it is today. Artists Kainvell Gry and Nighray Crove created some of their most famous pieces at Mavvith Apartments. The artists became two of the most beloved and well known artists in all of Cykriss history and heavily impacted the art world here as well. They went on to become powerhouses in the art world worldwide. Writers Brehsón Dean and Zauna Niadu wrote quite a few of their most famous books in the high-rise apartments. Their literature had a chokehold on Cykriss and still does till this day. Writers of Cykriss, young and old, cherish Brehsón and Zauna, and they are recognized as literary greats worldwide.
The amount of famous creatives that resided in Mavvith apartments was astounding. The list could seemingly go on and on forever. All of these talented minds emerging from one sole building; it was a phenomenon in itself. This is why I couldn’t understand why a place that played such a huge role in the cultural identity of Cykriss was now getting destroyed. Why would Cykriss demolish one of its own cultural hotspots?
But then I remembered…Mavvith Apartments had its own dark history. I was always so focused on the positive of Mavvith that when I remembered the negative, it would smack me square in the face with harsh reality. Your beloved Mavvith Apartments aren’t as perfect as you think they are, a voice would creep in my head and say. Sadly, it was true.
My folks told me that throughout its lifetime, a dark cloud always lingered around Mavvith Apartments. Raining down a hail of misfortune on all that lived in the famous high-rises. The clouds of misfortune didn’t always loom over the building, but when they did, it was bad.
My grandparents told me a major fire broke out on the top floors of Mavvith Apartments one year. The blaze took hours to put out, and nearly forty people died in the towering, forty-five floor building. Among them were famous drummer Nevvian Bleeze, renowned author Fibb Carlo, and revered artist Sunighya livwell. My folks said Cykriss mourned for several months after that happened.
Not too long after the fire came the terrible string of suicides followed. About fifteen well known and beloved creatives took their own lives at Mavvith Apartments. Four overdosed on drugs, five put a gun to their own heads and pulled the trigger, and six leapt from a window, then let gravity do the rest. Cykriss mourned even longer after this happened.
Shortly after the suicides came the horrible murders. There were eight in total. Five of them being the members of famous Soul/Jazz band Blue Nebula. Each member was found dead with a bullet shot directly in the center of their foreheads. Murdered by some mysterious man who was out for blood. My Momma’s parents said that they had gotten caught up in some shadey business. And just like that, five young, talented, Black men were dead because they owed somebody money. The other three murders were writer Wincell Droe, saxophonist Zuhrye Kilms, and singer/songwriter Ahneera Starcry.
Wincell was shot dead by a jealous first cousin in the elevator of Mavvith Apartments. His body was found shortly after on the same day. Zuhrye was assassinated. Strangled to death by a hitman hired by a lowdown woman he was in a relationship with. His body was found a day after. Ahneera was murdered by a man she was just getting to know. He raped her then slit her throat. Her body was found two days after. Cykriss mourned the longest after that series of untimely deaths.
All of these things—the fire, the suicides, the murders—happened within the same year. 1942. It was deemed one of the saddest years in all of Cykriss history. After the murders, my Momma and her parents moved out of Mavvith immediately. She was fourteen at the time. My Pops and his parents stopped hanging out at Mavvith all together. He was fifteen at the time.
From 1942 and onward, the dark clouds that loomed around Mavvith Apartments seemed to rain down misfortune more and more. Creative greatness still came out of the apartments, but things just weren’t the same anymore. There would be a period of time where things were just like they were in the good ole days—folks gathering, creativity flourishing—then boom! Another storm of unfortunate events would assault the residents of the famous high-rise. Usually ending in more folks dying.
As time went on, Mavvith Apartments gradually changed from a source of vibrant, Cykriss culture, to a dismal place seemingly cursed with bad luck. Slowly, folks that lived in Mavvith Apartments moved out. Turning the building into a place as barren as a ghost town. And now, in the year of 1972, that’s all it was.
The demolition workers were now gathered away from Mavvith, getting ready to set off the explosives. Other citizens were well away from the building too, myself included. After a momentary silence, the explosives went off, and I watched as the famous high-rise apartments crumbled to the ground.
As each floor caved in, my chest filled with sadness and acceptance. Bittersweet tears ran down my cheeks. It was unfortunate that a place that gave Cykriss and the world such greatness, now crumbled to its death as a place cursed with misfortune. Sadly, sometimes greatness ends in darkness. But I’ll always remember the light this famous building gave to Cykriss. And hopefully….everyone else will remember you the same way I do, Mavvith on Mierdsdale.