Holy shit I’m in prison.
I’m in a cell with three others.
One guy is on the floor on a mattress by the toilet.
Fantastic. Talk about an innocent man behind bars! Whatever myself of this Earth did to end up here, I had nothing to do with. Except now I’m him.
Guards line us up, take a head count and we’re marched to the mess hall at four in the morning!
Breakfast at four AM?
I get a look at myself in the can. No weird features, powers or protrusions. Only this me somehow ended up in prison. I wonder what I did?
As I’m eating “breakfast” I notice a a wiry black dude with a mustache staring at me from a few tables away.
Out in the yard later, he taps me on the shoulder. “Yo, blood, you plant the tree?” he asks cryptically.
I’m clueless. “Nah, man, I just finished a shift in laundry.”
“Don’t joke with me, joker,” the little thug warns, moving up on me. “You need to show me why I should keep you around.”
I try reasoning. “Look man, can I be honest with you? I cannot remember what is is you need from me, man. I swear to you. I just don’t remember.”
He slaps my face hard.
“Does that help, nigga?”
“Guard!” I yell like a fool without thinking. I’m scared of this Negro Napoleon.
A guard starts toward us.
My assailant smiles slyly. “Oh, so dat’s how you goin’ down? Awright den.”
He backs away and the guard stops, then returns to his standing nap.
In the library that afternoon I ask a fellow quiet inmate named Moe why everyone is so deferential to that little shit who slapped me.
At first Moe doesn’t want to talk about the man. But for a couple of cigarettes from my doppelganger’s pocket he talks.
“Have you heard of Biggie Bang?” asks Moe. “That’s what we call the ghost around here. Biggie Bang.”
I’m puzzled. “There’s a ghost haunting our prison?”
“That’s one theory,” says Moe, looking around to see if anyone’s listening. “One or more. Whatever they is, they protects Bartholomew Bhang, the dude you havin’ business with.”
“A ghost protects that little shit?”
“People have seen some shit over the years,” my informant shares. “But some of those witnesses ended up getting early release – in a hearse. They talked about shit they saw. Shit like this gigantic sized prisoner who doesn’t exist.”
“One time, years ago, the night after this nasty ass skinhead threatened Bartholomew, the shithead was ripped apart in the shower, man! They found him in the mornin’ scattered all over the place, man. I seen it myself. Nobody realized at the time it was about Bartholomew, but then mo’ shit happened down the way…”
“Two niggas whupped Batholomew good one night for his ‘attitude.’ The whuppin’ only went so far before a ruckus was stirred that drew attention. Two skinheads saw what happened next. This near-nekkid brother the size of a bear had the niggas heads in his big hands and he mashed ’em together like potatoes with one smack! Them skinheads swore that the killer was six foot six and and least 400 pounds. They saw the dude run from the scene across the yard at a minimum of 25 miles per hour, before anyone even looked. They saw him go into the shadows and that was it. But they talked about it to the warden. No prisoner fit that description, six foot six and 400 pounds. No guards either. Not even the goddamn maintenance crew. Nobody.”
“Aw…sounds like a lot of imagination to me.”
“This been goin’ on for years, man. Bartholomew is in for life. He killed two cops, man. You don’t think he get some shit in here? They come down on him hard at first, man. Real hard. But then the revenge shit started up. Every damn time. Anybody tweak Bartholomew, even the warden, they get a weird visitation. Sometimes it be a girl that seems fetching. Where she come from? Who knows. But she grab the warden’s balls and give ’em a mean twist they don’t come back from. Then where she go? Again, nobody knows. And the shit all gets traced back to one thing. Anyone who threatens Bartholomew Bhang gets a visit from Biggie and his friends. It’s happened a dozen times over the years. Lots of smart ass newbies laugh at it and think we’re superstitious. You been here long enough to know. Just wait.”
Oddly, that night, my three cellmates are missing. The guard gives no explanation when I ask why. When lights go out I’m left wondering what’s going on.
Then Bartholomew opens my cell and walks in, closing the door. With only the vague back lighting of the halls, his dramatic appearance is frightening.
“Where’s my shit?”
I’m cornered. I’m getting mad. Lots of guys – like me – get angry when we’re scared. There’s no flight. Only fight. “I told you, asshole! I don’t fucking know what you’re talking about! Say it or fuck off!”
Bartholomew doubles down. “You think because I’m short on uniforms I won’t transform on your ass? Den you must think you’re the only source of uniforms!”
So from me he wants uniforms? But how… oh! From the laundry? But…?
Bartholomew holds up a single rigatoni noodle dripping marinara.
He lowers it down his throat, chewing fiercely as it goes, staining his chin with sauce.
Then he bulges.
He swells. He grows. He “pops.”
He enlarges until the cell is filled with a third of a ton of Biggie. Full expansion takes place in a matter of six-to-ten critical seconds when he is momentarily disabled.
But he quickly recovers. His prison garb is in tatters, torn asunder by his growth.
“I can’t trust you with my secret, bro. It’s the second time you’ve seen this,” he claims, “and the last thing you’ll ever see.”
The massive hands grab me faster than I think possible. I try thinking my way out, my only option.
“How?” I choke out. “How did you do that? Please… before you kill me… how did…?”
“They fuckin’ experimented on me, man! I had nobody when they put me away. They transferred me somewhere and did shit to me I’ll never understand! They called it ‘dynamic cellular rearrangement.’ It was the same shit that allowed lizards to become snakes or frogs and turn back into lizards. My metabolism turns a gram of beef into all the calories needed for an active normal day. But even they don’t know what they did to me. They thought nothing happened. It was only months later when I found out that any concentrated carbohydrate intake results in exponential expansion of fat, energy and rage…
“You want details little fuck?” he asks, shaking me, almost relieved to share his story at last.
“Yeah,” I assure him, “right after I get you a new uniform.”
Come to find out Bartholomew has to dispose of extra food secretly to avoid drawing attention to his special condition. Two hours after ingestion of carbohydrates Biggie Bang reduces to “normal” size over a period of thirty to forty minutes.
And I have protection for the remainder of my stay at Gaterock Prison.