“You wanna hear something fucked up?”
The man at the bar nearly stumbles into you. He reeks of gin. He launches into his story before you can say anything.
“Down in Boston, this woulda been back in ’84,” he begins, his eyes drifting upward in thought. “Lotta mob activity. There was this one guy, Frankie D’Angelo. He had his fingers in everything back then: Drugs, gambling, prostitution. He was on top of every racket in that damn town. Everybody knew you didn’t cross Frankie D’Angelo. Somebody shoulda told that to Billy Horgan.”
He stops for a moment, a look of sadness painting his sallow face.
“Billy shoulda known better. You don’t horn in on Frankie’s territory. Billy thought he could get away with selling bootleg reels of dirty movies. That was a damn big mistake. Frankie finds out about it and then next thing you know…”
The drunk’s tone becomes more melancholy than it was at first. He pulls a flask from his moth-eaten overcoat and takes a long swig.
“Normally, that kind of thing gets your kneecaps broken. But for whatever reason, Billy’s little stunt sent Frankie into a rage. He buried that poor bastard up to his neck in salt.”
The drunk’s unfocused eyes lock onto yours. His brows furrow.
“You know what happens to a body when it’s packed in salt?”
He makes a loud slurping noise.
“It sucks the water right out of you. After a while, your skin begins to pull tight. You don’t got a lot of water left in you, so your eyes are deep red and dry, no water for tears. The lips become cracked, but no bleeding. The blood’s turning to dust at that point. The tongue is just this useless…” He tries to find the words, fidgeting with his hands. “…lump. The screaming stops about that point.”
He takes another pull from his flask.
“Frankie made me pull Billy out of the salt once he was dead. His face was dry and crackly, his unseeing eyes bloodshot and glazed over. His body…”
The drunk shivers. “Billy looked like beefy jerky. Dry as kindling. And he was light. All that water gone, it was like hoisting a bundle of twigs over my shoulder.”
The drunk looks down, his lip trembling. “I’ll never forgive Frankie D’Angelo for what happened next.”
He takes one more swig, slams the flask on the counter.
“I’m carrying this bundle of human jerky out of the warehouse and I’m about halfway to the door when I hear it. Right behind me. Like wind blowing over the yellowed, brittle pages of an old book; A dry, bone-rattling wheeze. My blood froze solid. And then I heard the words that still keep me from sleeping at night.”
Then the drunk breaks down into sobs, his face contorted in grief. And before you can even lay a comforting hand on him, he grabs his flask, turns and walks out of the bar into the dark, cold night.