"Hey, Granny. How's it going, gal?"
And as always Granny Oranges smiles with the few teeth she has kept through the years and gives that quick shaking wave. Some nights she adds a word of two with that charming British accent that she inherited from a homeland she left during the London air raids. But not tonight, just a wave as she hustled on down to the Mission to say her prayers and to survive another night in the soft light of that neon cross.
That night when she found that little girl, changed the air in this place. That was the night that the Darkness began haunting this end of Nowhere Street.
I can still hear Granny's gasping scream when she turned over that sheet of cardboard. "O, Sweet Jesus, deliver us!"
In that alley that runs between Chang Li's and Benson's Pawn Shop, in the ghastly light of that one bare, sixty watt light bulb that still guards the back door of the restaurant, all of us denizens of Third and Lombardy stared down at that little girl's lifeless body. We just stood there, staring in disbelief. Granny Oranges, Memphis Mikey, Billy Two-Fingers, Uncle Sambo, Tatoos and me, we all stood there trying to figure how a clean-upped, well-dressed little bit of pretty of maybe ten years of age ended up in a hellhole like this and ended up here dead.
It was when the sirens finally pulled up that Granny Oranges first caught sight of the Darkness, a something she has never really been able to describe. She said she saw it peering down from a second story window of the pawn shop. She screamed and the Darkness, according to her story, screamed back with a snarl, before taking off back into the unseen places.
All that was five dead little girls ago and the Unseen Something keeps coming back. Yep, the Darkness keeps coming back.