By the late afternoon the residents began to return from their offices. The elevators were noisy and overcrowded. Three of them were now out of order, and the remainder were jammed with impatient tenants trying to reach their floors.
Wilder set off up the stairs, carrying his small son in his arms. With his powerful physique, he was strong enough to climb all the way to the roof
The material about these buildings, visual and sociological, was almost limitless. They would film the exteriors from a helicopter, and from the nearest block four hundred yards away — in his mind’s eye he could already see a long, sixty-second zoom, slowly moving from the whole building in frame to a close-up of a single apartment, one cell in this nightmare termitary.
In effect, the high-rise had already divided itself into the three classical social groups, its lower, middle and upper classes.
Wilder set off with a towel and swimming trunks to the pool on the 10th floor. A few telephone calls to his neighbours on the lower floors had confirmed that they were keen to take part in the documentary, but Wilder needed participants from the upper and middle levels of the high-rise.
Laing stepped on to the diving board. His body was unusually well muscled, Wilder noticed, almost as if he had been taking a good deal of recent exercise, doing dozens of push-ups.
Wilder found it hard to believe that this sophisticated and self-important man would commit suicide. Yet no one was in the least concerned, accepting the possibility of murder in the same way that the swimmers in the pool accepted the wine bottles and beer cans rolling around the tiled floor under their feet.
The tampering with the electricity system had affected the air-conditioning. Dust was spurting from the vents in the walls.
As the doors opened there was a sudden hush. Lying on the floor of the cabin was the barely conscious figure of one of Wilder’s neighbours, a homosexual air-traffic controller who dined regularly in the 35th-floor restaurant. He turned his bruised face away from the watching crowd and tried to button the shirt torn from his chest. Seeing him clearly as the crowd stepped back, awed by this evidence of open violence. Wilder heard someone say that two more floors, the 5th and 8th, were now in darkness.