"If you should think, when a hearse drives by, that you may be the next to die..." Mumbled the old man as he pushed his shopping cart slowly down the sidewalk, eyes wide and hair wild. "They'll wrap you up in great white sheet, from your head then down to your feet."
"Hey old man," a tall man, many tattoo's racing up his left arm as he walked across the street, a slight swagger in his step. "You singing that song again?"
The old man looked at the tall one with glassy eyes, moving his jaws as he silently continued singing the strange song. He wrapped his bathrobe around himself as if he were warding away the cold winds of Detroit. The tall man was a gangster, known as T-Dawg, that ran the streets in the surrounding slums and abandoned buildings, shaking down anyone who came within his line of sight.
"I thought I told you that I didn't like that song, didn't I?" T-Dawg said, cocking his head to the side. "Didn't I?"
The old man looked at T-Dawg, still silently speaking the words of the old song. His voice started as a crackling whisper before rising in tenor. "... a bit green worm with rolling eyes, crawls in your stomach and out your eyes..."
T-Dawg laughed as the old man continued to sing, reaching behind him for his pistol. Several silvery sets of eyes
watched from tenements and alley's, from makeshift tents and lean-to's against other buildings. T-Dawg didn't notice any of them at all, instead choosing to pull his pistol out and whip the old man, knocking him to the ground.
Coughing, the man's pale orbs rolled in his skull to look up at T-Dawg, not in fear, but in a curious sort of fashion. Laying on the ground, blood dribbling from his, most likely, broken nose, the old man moved to stand up.
T-Dawg kicked him in the stomach, causing him to cough and hack. "Listen old man, I've been a nice enough guy and not mugged you yet cause I see all you got is cat food and bottles of dirty water. But that is gonna change soon. You wanna stay on my street, you have to start paying me rent. Twenty dollars a week, cash.
The old man looked up, blood dribbling from his mouth as he watched the silvery eyes begin to moved from darkened corners and broken homes, slowly moving out into the street. He looked back down, stuck on his hands and knees.
"And the worms crawl in, and the worms crawl out, the worms that crawl in are lean and thin, the ones that crawl out are thick and stout..."
T-Dawg shook his head, bringing his gun up and pulling back the safety before cocking it. "You sing one more line that cops are gonna have to do a chalk outline of your ass in the morning."
The silvery eyes were now congregating, their bodies pressing together as they slowly oozed down the sidewalk and onto the street behind T-Dawg, their feet marching on in unsteady gaits. Together, as a crowd, they moved silently, some untied shoes scuffing the pavement as they moved, while bare feet tapped out around the crowd. A smaller set of eyes, shimmering in the darkness of the night, moved with a fluttering grace, ducking in and out of the oozing mass.
T-Dawg pointed the gun down at the back of the old man's head. "What do you have to say now, motherfucker?"
The old man, still on his hands and knees crawling, coughed once more before looking up at T-Dawg, the light of a street lamp a few paces away shining down around them enough to let him see the ocean of grubby hands brimming at the edges of the shadows.
"And the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out," he sang, smiling as the little girl ran from the shadows in her dirty dress, leaping bodily into the back of T-Dawg's knees.
T-Dawg fired a shot wildly, hitting the pavement a foot from the old man's head as he fell backwards, the little girl scrambling like a monkey to get away. In seconds the crowd was upon him, silently pulling him up and yanking on him in every direction. Grimy hands with dirty fingernails stripped T-Dawg of his clothing while the young man yelled, struggling against his silent attackers.
The old man stood, grabbing hold of his nose and popping it back into place. His voice rose in volume, so that T-Dawg could hear him over his own shouts and threats.
"They invite their friends, and their friends too, they all come down to chew on you!" The old man called out, moving closer to the gelatinous mass of writhing bodies and wandering hands. Mouths latched onto T-Dawg, brown teeth sinking into his skin wherever it could, pulling away strips of meat to chew upon noisily. Ten hands tore the remains of T-Dawgs shirt free, baring his chest to the world, allowing the old man to come close.
The old man raised T-Dawg's discarded gun, aiming it at T-Dawg's stomach. With a smile he continued his song.
"And this is what it is to die, I hope you had a nice goodbye!"
Three shots fired into T-Dawg's abdomen, his body quivering and bursting like a water balloon as blood erupted from his smooth skin, drenching the arms holding him and spattering to the ground beneath him. T-Dawg screamed, struggling against the men and women holding him. He screamed even louder when a wandering hand snuck a finger in the bullet hole closest to his chest, hooking their finger and pulling back.
Soon all of the hands were peeling T-Dawg like a bloody onion, stripping away the layers and dropping them to the street below, jagged nails raking through the skin and muscle like a cold knife through frozen steak.
Slowly but surely, T-Dawg was peeled down to bones and organs.
The old man leaned in close, looking T-Dawg in the eyes with his own pearly white orbs. "Did you ever think, when a hearse goes by, that you may be the next to die?" He sang, ending the note with a question.
T-Dawg was too far in shock to answer, instead he just gurgled.
"And your eyes fall out, and your teeth decay, and that is the end of a perfect day..." The old man sang, listening to T-Dawg's final screams as his eyes were pried from his head, the butt of his pistol bashed in his teeth. The old man turned from the grisly scene, the crowd swarming over him like ants as the began to devour his valuables, taking his strips of cloth, his wallet and phone, his watch; stripping him of everything, leaving nothing but a rapidly cooling pile of meat in the middle of the road. The old man merely got back to his cart and began pushing onward, to his cardboard home two alleys over.
Tonight was a warm enough night that he might just stay up late and reminisce with his neighbors. They had such a delightful young girl.