Snakes and Pills

055 - salt

"Step right up and try a burger! Free burger samples, right here!" the barker called out from atop his soapbox. It was early on yet--dusk was just beginning--and the night's crowd had yet to arrive. There were just idle pedestrians passing by on the beachside boardwalk where the barker stood. They weren't too interested in responding to his calls.

They might not be hungry, but he knew he had to move these sandwiches. His employer was relying on him, damnit. The barker pulled down slightly on his top hat and decided to be even more aggressive.

He hopped out in front of a man and accosted him. "You sir, what's your name?" The bewildered man stammered a response: "B-Baxter."

"Baxter, eh? Lovely name. Had an uncle named Baxter, I did. Tell ya what, Baxter. You look like you could use a little bit of nourishment, eh?"

Baxter did not really need any nourishment, but in the face of the barker, it was hard to say no. Even if he did say no, the barker's feet were firmly planted in Baxter's path. He had no route for escape. "Okay, I guess I could."

The Barker smiled. "I knew ya did. Well Baxter, have I got the nourishment for you." He breathed in deeply, preparing for his spiel. With a fresh sample in hand, he began.

"This, Baxter, is the Texas Lone Star Burger. A half pound one hundred percent all beef premium cut patty rests atop the finest and freshest sesame bun. Inside the bun, along with the meat, you'll find the crispest lettuce man has ever set eyes on. The juiciest tomatoes ever grown on our fair Earth. Onions so pungent that your eyes will water. Along with a healthy slathering of Colonel Malloy's secret burger sauce, this, my friend will surely soothe even the sharpest of hunger pains. Go ahead, Baxter, give 'er a taste."

By now, a crowd had formed around the barker and Baxter. "Perfect," the barker thought to himself as Baxter sunk his teeth into the burger. "Mmm," Baxter managed to enunciate through a mouthful of meat, vegetables, and bread.

The barker smiled. "It's good, isn't it, Baxter? What did I tell ya?" The crowd let out a little applause, in celebration of Baxter's hunger being sated by the Texas Lone Star Burger. The barker knew he had the crowd eating out of his hand, and now he only had to direct them to his employer's restaurant, and soon his job would be done.

All was going to plan. Except for what happened next.

The expression on Baxter's face suddenly turned from one of happiness to one of discontent. He started to speak, "Hey wait a minute." The crowd's applause died down. "There's GHOST in this burger!"

At those words, the crowd fell completely silent and the barker was taken completely aback. "Ghost? Surely you jest," he said.

Baxter shook his head. "No, no I distinctly taste ghost in this burger! It's covered pretty well by the sauce but it's there."

"I assure you there are no ghost products in our burgers," the barker began, but the fire was gone from his voice. He was quickly overruled by objections from the crowd.

"What's the big idea here? You're trying to sell us ghost burgers?" one irate onlooker asked. "Yeah, trying to sucker us in to paying full price for ghost meat?!" another one joined in. Soon, the crowd's questions and complaints swelled into a growing chorus of rage.

The barker was slowly trying to back away, but he soon realized that the now angry crowd had completely encircled him. There was nowhere to run. He tried pleading with the crowd. "I swear, I didn't know they were ghost burgers," he said, but it fell on deaf ears.

The crowd descended upon him.


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