All the neighborhood kids knew to stay away from Bill, who could often be seen wandering the parks and public areas quietly nursing a bottle of cough syrup. All the adults knew that he was taking cough syrup to keep the shakes at bay until his next fix, and as a result all the kids knew as well, adept as they were at listening to whispers and picking up on the unsaid.

Though he rarely mumbled anything but terse greetings, the older and more adventurous knew that he would pay cash from his government disability check for cough syrup with codeine in it, open or not. As a result, it wasn’t unknown for the occasional child in need of pocket money to pinch a bottle from someplace and trade it for ten bucks, which bought an awful lot of summer-rate sweets and arcade time.

Naturally there were plenty of darker rumors about him, but $10 from Buffalo Bill Codeine was still an enticing prospect to some.

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