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Triple Trouble on Thirty-Third and Third
                     by Steve Slavin

On the third day of the third month of the thirteenth year of the new millennium, tragedy was narrowly averted at the Troika Terrace co-op located on Third Ave. and East Thirty-Third Street. Gun shots were fired, knives were thrown, and three men who were pushed off a thirty-third-story terrace lived to tell about it.

The trouble started when a fight broke out at a thirty-third birthday party held in the apartment for its five residents – a set of triplets and their parents.

Perhaps I’d better explain how this came to be. Ten years earlier, Tim, Tom, and Todd, and their parents had a few friends over for the triplet’s twenty-third birthday. Later that evening their mother complained of a headache, went into her bedroom and washed down a bottle of prescription sleeping pills with a quart of vodka. She was dead before the medics arrived.

Their father soon remarried, this time to a man who shared his sons’ birthday and birth year. A few years later, the triplets’ birth father died unexpectedly, and his widower soon married another man who happened to be born on the same day and year as he and the triplets. In sum, there were five men sharing the same birthday living under one roof. They could look forward to many more joint birthday parties. And since they occupied a large and luxurious triplex, there was plenty of room for each of them.

The Troika Terrace was named in the hopes of attracting wealthy Russian buyers, who might get the allusion, however strained, to the Siberian steppes. Still, the terraces were quite spacious, and very attractively arrayed in actual steps on the building’s top floors. The terrace on the thirty-second floor jutted out three feet further than the terrace on the thirty-third floor. Similarly, the thirty-first-floor terrace extended three feet further than the thirty-second-floor terrace. Nearly all the residents probably thought that troika was an affectionate nickname for a person who hailed from Troy, New York, or even perhaps from ancient Troy itself.

Although this splendid building did attract a few Russian oligarchs, the owners constituted a veritable United Nations, along with a contingent of very rich, but relatively unworldly Americans.

The triplets and their stepfathers occupied the front halves of the thirty-first, thirty-second, and thirty-third floors. That explains how someone could survive a fall – or a push – off a terrace. Situated on the top three floors of the building, the apartment’s closest neighbors were the family in the triplex sharing their floors, and the family living below them. No one – not even the doormen – knew their business. But that, of course, did not completely stop speculation about the triplex dwellers.

There was a widespread consensus that no one in the family was employed, and that they seemed to spend a large part of their time having increasingly acrimonious fights over money. Although the birth parents of the triplets had been quite wealthy, that fortune had been largely frittered away.

Still, as long as the monthly maintenance was promptly paid, there was no reason for the co-op board to get involved. There had been several anonymous complaints relating to the sexual orientation of the family’s members, but they were quickly quashed by the half- dozen attorneys who served on the board.

But everything would change on the evening of the third of March, twenty-thirteen. The birthday party got started at around 9 p.m. and grew noisier and apparently more acrimonious by the minute. The next-door and downstairs neighbors reported hearing shouting, foot-stomping, and the shattering of glass. When blood-curdling screams and desperate calls for help began, both neighbors, afraid that someone was being killed, finally called 911. When the police arrived, they found some major damage to the apartment, but miraculously, none of the family members required medical attention. No one wanted to press charges, but clearly, this incident was not something the co-op board could ignore.

The board moved expeditiously to have the family evicted, before prices in the building could be adversely affected. The triplex was quickly snapped up by one of the board members at a bargain basement insider’s price of just thirty-three million dollars. Real estate brokers referred to the selling price as “the miracle on Thirty-Third Street.”

A month later, the residents of the Troika Terrace – and indeed the entire city – were shocked by the Daily News headline: Duplicitous Duo Dupe Troubled Triplets. To sum it all up, the stepfathers of the triplets turned out to be twin brothers, who just happened to be born on the same day in the same hospital as the triplets.

One of the twins had met the triplets’ father in a gay bar. And well, one thing led to another. When the triplets’ mother learned what was going on, she fell into a depression – and the rest is history.

But the police, who were still unraveling this sordid tale, were reinvestigating the death of the triplets’ father – and the marriage of the twin brothers. The state of New York may have some pretty liberal marriage laws, but brothers cannot marry one another – especially not twin brothers.