Billy told me to get the table salt. I did as he said. I guess it was curiosity that made me do it. That and not wanting to look like a pussy, of course. I had to tiptoe to reach the spice cupboard. I knocked over a half-empty bottle of cider vinegar when I reached up. It didn't break, but the liquid sloshed around inside, made little bubbles that floated to the surface. The salt was in one of those big white plastic cylinders with the red spout at the top and SAXA written in bold lettering. I always wondered how it stayed so full like it never got used. Mum seemed to cook with it all the time. It wasn't until years later when I started to take an interest in culinary skills that Mum revealed she refilled it periodically with bags of salt she bought at the supermarket. She said it was cheaper to do it that way.
I brought the salt outside to Billy and he told me to kneel down and watch. He said what I was about to see was really cool. So I crouched down. My knees were scabbed over from playing rough and being clumsy. Sometimes I long to have scraped knees and hard scabs you're not supposed to pick at.
Billy placed a large, fat slug on the stone step. He said there were loads of them on my mother's plants. But he chose this one because it was the biggest. And if I didn't like that one I could go and choose another. But I had to get it myself and I wasn't allowed to pick it up using a leaf like a little girl would. I didn't like the slippery feel of their slimy bodies so I told him this one would do.
He named it Larry. I don't know why. Why give something a name if you're just going to kill it? When Billy popped the salt cap it made a sort of clicking sound. Billy swore under his breath because he was three months older than me and a boy. He expected me to blush but I knew worse swears than shit. Billy poked with grubby fingers at the spout which had bent back from the cap leaving a gaping hole. He fussed until it clicked back into place. I watched him as if not knowing what was going to happen. He sprinkled a light covering of salt on Larry's body. And we waited. Nothing seemed to happen for a while. Larry just seemed to keep inching away from us leaving a slimy path behind him. Billy wrinkled his nose, furrowed his brow. He reopened the spout and poured the salt onto Larry's chubby body until he was covered in a thick white layer.
Larry started to morph. There was no sound. That was what surprised me. The idea that a creature, no matter how low down the food chain, could submit to such torture without uttering a sound astonished me. His slick grey outsides began to turn to a sludgy colour. Within a minute or so he had dried up into this hard little c shaped nugget. I looked up to see Billy pointing at my face, laughing. I reached my hand to my cheek and felt the sticky trail of a silent tear I didn't realise had escaped my eyes.
It was the last time that I ever brought my mother's salt out for Billy.