“A razor sharpener? Wouldn’t a thunk it,” Amos turned the hollow glass object over a few times, pretending to give it a thorough examination. “Thought it might be some sorta fancy drinkin’ cup.”
“And it’s slightly more recent than Victorian,” Edgar said. “It’s actually made of uranium glass, which makes it a bit radioactive. It even glows bright green in fluorescent light.”
“Radioactive,” Amos enunciated each syllable as if his tongue were trying to avoid touching the word: Ray-dee-oo-ack-tive. “That is sure somethin’. Should I be carrying it around in my pocket, then? Can’t risk any o’ my digits fallin’ off, doncha know.”
“No you’re fine,” Edgar said, ignoring Amos’s nether-regions insinuation. “It’s not enough to hurt you.”
“Whew!” Amos leaned against the wall of the shed. “Where’s ye lovely companion this morning, then? Off bein’ purty somewhere? Ye gotta keep her attached to ye hip, son. Some whippersnapper’ll swoop in and snatch her up if ye not careful. Happened to me right after the war.”
“I’ll do my best,” Edgar said. “Amos, can I ask you a question?”
“Ye can ask me anything. Don’t know much, but let’s find out.”
“It’s not really my business, but I’m really curious — did you get a good look at that box you said Mrs. Stelton took from the cemetery administration building? Can you tell me anything about it?”
Amos’s good eye rolled toward Edgar and bore a hole into him. “Really can’t.”
“Private affairs o’ people dead n’ gone. Shouldn’t be talkin’ about ‘em.”
“Yeah, but you’re asking me about all these old relics and you’re not being private about those. I’ve got queries posted all over the –” Edgar felt a weight drop in his stomach as the cemetery curator’s words began to echo in his ears. “Wait a second. Are you saying that these objects are from the deceased?”
“Son, all antiques belong to people no longer livin’. Ain’t nothin’ to it.”
“But, you’re actually talking about people buried here in our own cemetery. Amos, are you saying there are personal items of the deceased still mothballed up in the administration building?”
“Amos, how much is up there? How far back does it go?” Edgar was practically salivating at the thought of such a potential local historical treasure trove.
“Don’t know.” Amos slid the razor sharpener back in his pocket and began walking toward the main building. “That Stelton woman opened up just the one o’ the cardboard boxes up theyah, found somethin’ that caught her fancy and made off fast as ye please. Wouldn’t have even let her open it, except she beat me upstairs. Ye know, fer as much heft as she got on her, she got herself some speed.”
“Was there a name on the box? Some sort of identification of ownership?”
“Don’t rightly recall.”
“But what made her choose that box?”
“I figured it was the first ‘un she came to.”
“Amos, wouldn’t you like to know who all these objects belong to? I can find out, if you just let me see the name that’s marked on that box. Can I go upstairs?”
Amos squinted toward the room in question, his face contorting in a storm of grimaces and snarls. Finally, his wiry, frail form collapsed in resignation. Without saying another word, he trudged toward the front entrance.
“Doncha be dawdlin’ now,” he said as his foot paused on the first step. “Go on up theyah and find yer box. Then straight back down. I got a heap o’ work waitin’ fer me still. Ye got five minutes.”
Edgar had never been to the top floor of the Cemetery Administration Building. As many times as he’d visited Corinthian there, they’d never had reason to go upstairs.
The hallway was thick with a suffocating blend of mildew and mothballs. Edgar felt himself grow slightly nauseated as the enveloping staleness invaded his lungs. Pulling at his collar, he pushed open the door to the top corner room, revealing a room full of old boxes.
“There you are,” he whispered, spying the one open box in the room. He could clearly see the dance of footprints in the dust — a few were left by a pair of high heels, but most came from a man’s worn boot soles. Cora and Amos, Edgar deduced.
Walking over to the box, he raised one flap and then another, looking for a name. Finally, he saw the label.
“I know you,” Edgar nodded. “You’re in section G, third row. You’ve been dead a long time, Bryan Snowden. What could your personal belongings be doing stored away up here?”