The address on Meeshell Lee’s license was on Appoline, a street south of Schoolcraft near the Jeffries Freeway, inside the Detroit city limits. Where once a neighborhood thrived with streets lined with one- and two-story bungalows, now widely scattered homes were surrounded by empty fields where other houses used to be before they were abandoned, burnt, and torn down. Here and there, plots had been turned into urban gardens.
The downtown of the city might be coming back, Preuss thought, but renewal hadn’t spread to the neighborhoods yet.
The windows of the house he was looking for were boarded up with plywood sheets, and the high grass in the front lawn had gone to seed. The place looked like it had been deserted for a while.
He knocked on the front door, tried it and found it locked, and went around to the back. The rear entry was boarded up and spray-painted with gang graffiti, hastily scrawled tags and tridents with six-pointed stars with the number 6 in the center.
From the back of the house, Preuss saw a fire had partially destroyed the rear roof. Against the cloudy afternoon sky, he could see scorched ragged rafters. The plywood on the back windows had been bashed in and the metal security grates had been pried off.
He shone the light from his iPhone inside and stuck his head into a window opening, but the putrid smell of dampness and dead animals forced him back.
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