The man and the sedan were gone when they returned. Where they had been the square of pavement was dark with grease, littered with sparkling fragments of safety glass, like diamonds scattered in the streets of a city so rich it could think of nothing better to do with them.
Dean pulled her gently back into the shelter of the massive lilacs and sumac that had overgrown the yard since someone last cared for it.
The wooden storm-cellar door lifted easily and without protest. The two of them crouched in the darkness until the weak moonlight worked up enough courage for them to see by: a rough, hard-packed floor, littered with trash and cassette tapes, newspapers flung wide open, their hearts exposed, their memories fading. A grandfather clock, its tall cabinet door gleaming with jagged glass, presided over them.
She shadowed Dean through the inky rooms, strong with the smell of stale cigarettes and small heat fires: all empty, except, in one, a few pieces of coal, pulled from the heart of some Pennsylvania mountain and carried across the country only to find itself again forgotten underground.
Upstairs the birds on the wallpaper shifted nervously as clouds rolled over the face of the moon. The mahogany bookshelves waited with failing hope. Half the ceiling in the kitchen was missing, lost to fire or water, street-light from the second story windows shining down through the gap.
Dean scraped the sides of the chimney, lifted the lid of the old toilet cabinet, tapped the stubborn walls gingerly, as if not wanting to wake anything. In the front bedroom, in one of the classic five-sided Detroit cupolas, he found it: a cigar box, hidden under the only floorboard that didn’t creak, filled with what might only have been a child’s favorite thingstorn movie stubs, a piece of bone, a packet of papers tied with string, except for the small leather pouch of unset jewels and antique rings.