Exactly how spooky were things? I decided to find out, and I swung right on Jones, left again at a place we’d always like to poke our faces into on Halloween, a little alley called Macondray Lane. Heavy on foliage and short on light, trees and vines always threatening to send tendrils and roots over and under the cracked, mossy brick path to swallow or strangle the rickety houses standing helpless on the other side. That was how we liked it on Halloween, the demon-livened trees and the skinny witches’ huts. Now it just looked desolate.
I saw the glow of a ten-watt bulb through flypaper windows. And halfway down the alley there was a streetlight without a street, an ancient cracked globe atop a dented and swaying tin pole, planted a century ago to mark the city’s westward progress - mark it as with a stake, a point on a map; I don’t mean commemorate it - and not yet replaced. It was like a wick waiting to be snuffed out with a pinch of thumb and forefinger the instant someone wanted to kill the lights and jump on a passerby.