When he awoke it was 9:00 PM people were screaming down in the street. The acrid odor of gas clung to the air. Somewhere down the block, glass shattered.
Grunstein stood up with difficulty. The van stunt was cute, but it was not enough. He knew what he needed to do, but it would be difficult. He hobbled over to the hall closet, took a few deep breaths, opened the door, and pushing aside some shoes, found the box near the back. It looked innocuous enough, a nondescript cardboard container, but it may as well have been written on the cover: Property of Pandora.
Well, Grunstein mumbled, damn it, and he quickly opened the lid. His dead son’s belongings. The things he did not have the heart to throw out in that first few months of withering grief, when he felt he wanted to dispose of the entire world. He moved objects aside: Jake’s Red Sox pennant, his favorite sweater, his Hammond World Atlas that had been annotated in his boy’s looping, cursive script with places he wanted to visit. Grunstein’s hands were trundling along, shaking without control, as if a nervous system other than his own were directing them. A few tears involuntarily rolled down his cheeks, so instinctive was his grief.
“Good God,” he muttered, when he finally found the item. He yanked it out as if it was a sour tooth to be extracted, and quickly closed and heaved the box back into its place in the darkest corner of the closet. He slammed the door and leaned his weight against it, panting. He wiped the tears with his sleeve and said something at the level of a hushed breath.