"Fight tuberculosis, folks." Christmas Eve, an old
junkie selling Christmas seals on North Park Street.
The "Priest," they called him. "Fight tuberculosis, folks."
People hurried by, gray shadows on a distant wall.
It was getting late and no money to score.
He turned into a side street and the lake wind hit him like a knife.
Cab stop just ahead under a streetlight.
Boy got out with a suitcase. Thin kid in prep school clothes,
familiar face, the Priest told himself, watching from the doorway.
"Remindsme of something a long time ago." The boy, there, with his overcoat
unbuttoned, reaching into his pants pocket for the cab fare.
The cab drove away and turned the corner. The boy went inside
a building. "Hmm, yes, maybe" - the suitcase was there in the doorway.
The boy nowhere in sight. Gone to get the keys, most likely,
have to move fast. He picked up the suitcase and started for the corner.
Made it. Glanced down at the case. It didn't look like the case the boy had,
or any boy would have. The Priest couldn't put his finger on what was so
old about the case. Old and dirty, poor quality leather, and heavy.
Better see what's inside. He turned into Lincoln Park, found an
empty place and opened the case. Two severed human legs that belonged to
a young man with dark skin. Shiny black leg hairs glittered in the
dim streetlight. The legs had been forced into the case and he had to use
his knee on the back of the case to shove them out. "Legs, yet,"
he said, and walked quickly away with the case.
Might bring a few dollars to score. The buyer sniffed suspiciously.
"Kind of a funny smell about it." "It's just Mexican leather."
"Well, some joker didn't cure it."
The buyer looked at the case with cold disfavor.
"Not even right sure he killed it, whatever it is.
Three is the best I can do and it hurts. But since this is Christmas
and you're the Priest..." he slipped three bills under the table into the
Priest's dirty hand. The Priest faded into the street shadows, seedy
and furtive. Three cents didn't buy a bag, nothing less than a nickel.
Say, remember that...(more)
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