Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cell 34

By Michael James Gibbs

In the middle of the night, Frank Killmen woke up puking M.U.S.C.L.E. Men on the floor of his Tijuana jail cell. He had forgotten all about those Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere in the mid-to-late eighties. Him and his buddies used to swap the two-inch tall intergalactic pink wrestlers on the school bus. Charlie used to swear they were made from Pepto-Bismol. Frank had a McDonald’s Sand Bucket full of them. He even had the M.U.S.C.L.E Wrestling Ring.

Frank stared at the little wrestlers in disbelief as he wiped his wet mouth with his blue shirtsleeve. A significant portion of his cubical hell was lit by moonlight that shined through the iron bars of the only small window in Cell 34.
He had spurted them out three at a time. Each of them was whole with all limbs attached. Matter of fact, they looked to be in mint condition. They hurt his throat like hell when they came up, especially Ashuraman. Frank was sure the six-armed sonofabitch had lodged himself in his throat. DEATH had flashed before his eyes in big red letters.

One of them suddenly moved. His name was Apollo the Giant. He looked like a miniature pink Michelin Man with a Kenny Roger’s haircut and a face full of boils. The little wrestler twitched, sat up, and then used his tiny hands to push up off the floor. Then Frank noticed all of them were moving. Some stretched and flexed their muscles while others shook their heads as if to wake up their brains.

Frank began to recognize more of them. There was Iron Commando, who looked like a robot wearing a football helmet from the early nineteen hundreds. Scaly Erimaki Togaki had the face of an Australian frilled-neck lizard. Black Tomahawk, an ogre-looking creature, held an ax in each hand. The four-armed figure with wings, known as Satan Cross, wore a medieval battle helmet and carried a small sword and shield.

Seeing the M.U.S.C.L.E Men conjured up memories that Frank had long ago buried deep inside. Frank never met his father, probably just another john who banged his mom with a cheap gas station rubber that broke. He had spent most of his childhood locked up in his bedroom listening to his mother in the next room fuck guy after guy for cash. When his mom wasn’t doing tricks for cash, she was shooting black tar into any vein she could find. Some days she forgot to feed Frank.

Trapped in his bedroom, Frank made use of his imagination. He was King and ruled over his toy kingdom. GI Joe. Darth Vader. Batman. His favorite little pink M.U.S.C.L.E. Men. Their fate was in his hands. Every time Erimaki Togaki won a fight, Frank had chosen the outcome. Each time the Night Rider wrecked the General Lee, Frank had caused the collision. When Skeletor convinced Battle Cat to savagely slaughter He-Man, guess who was plotting the destruction of the Master of the Universe? Each day, he created his own little world and got to play God. Fuck He-Man, Frank had the power.

In an instant, it became Crystal Pepsi clear why Frank had chosen the life of a hit man. The adult world, however, was much more different than the world he knew as a child.

Frank reflected upon his first hit. Big Al, owner of the Gold Rush Casino, paid Frank ten grand to kill a man who owed him money. Tom Pacific was the unlucky man’s name. Frank followed Tom home after a night of Texas Hold’em at the Argosy. He shot him in the head before the poor bastard even got his key in the lock. As if it happened yesterday, he could still see the blood and brain matter splatter across the white siding of the house near the black mailbox labeled “Pacific Residencd.” At that moment, Frank had felt powerful and once again in control.

Rage rushed through his veins as he starred back down at the miniature action figures of his youth. Frank grabbed for his gun, but it was not there. He felt so naked without his gun. He wanted to put a bullet through all six M.U.S.C.L.E Men. He raised his foot to stomp them. But as his foot came down, the little pink fuckers scurried underneath his cot and into the darkness.

Frank’s stomach suddenly rumbled. Then a sharp pain filled his chest as his diaphragm tightened. He projectile vomited eight Wacky Wall Walkers that stuck to the concrete wall. They looked like fruit-colored gummy spiders. Each Wacky Wall Walker had a soft, round head and five sticky legs that stuck to any vertical surface, then, after a few seconds, would slowly roll-walk down to the floor. But instead of moving down, the ones that Frank purged quickly ran up the wall and gathered in a dark shadowy corner.

Again, his stomach rumbled. This time the thunder came from his lower abdomen. Before he could even take one step toward the commode, a load of something filled the back of his pants. Whatever came out of him was cold like the metal of his cot and hurt something fierce when it shot out. Frank reached behind, dug into the back of his britches, and pulled out a hand full of Hot Wheels covered in a mix of blood and shit.

“Jesus, what’s happening to me?”

The headlights of each car popped on simultaneously. Frank flinched and dropped the matchbox cars to the floor. They raced off leaving small rubber marks on the concrete. He could feel the cars still inside his pants begin to move around. Tire burns on his ass felt like bug bites. Frank dropped his pants and hopped up on the cot. Different models of Hot Wheels raced out from each pant leg and disappeared into the various dark shadows of Cell 34.

Next were the army men. He up-chucked twelve of the little green fighters. They shot at him while running for cover. The tiny bullets penetrated Frank’s skin like multiple bee stings. Marbles and Jacks fell between his legs. Various toys from the 80’s kept shooting out of Frank’s mouth and anus. He could not take it any longer. Grabbing the thin sheet from his cot. He tied one end to the metal lamp on the ceiling. Twenty-five Lego pieces suddenly poured out of Frank’s mouth while a Barbie Doll dropped from his ass.

In spite of the unbearable pain, Frank continued his work. He quickly tied a slipknot. A john had once taught him how to tie a slipknot right before plowing his mom. He cherished the instruction, it being the closest thing he had had to a fatherly experience. He tied them regularly.

Eyes now bulging with fright, Frank’s felt his throat stretching out from something large and round. He gurgled and fought for air. A baseball popped out and flew across the cell. Tears poured from his eyes as he placed the noose around his neck.

“Coming to see you mom…FUCKIN’ WHORE!”

Frank stepped off the cot.


Prison guard Alfonzo Cruz walked the cellblock making his usual morning rounds. He wore a light, brown uniform. His belt held a large black stick, a can of pepper spray, and a ring of keys for each cell. He stopped just after passing Cell 34. He took a step back and looked inside.

Alfonzo called down to the guard standing post near the cellblock entrance. “We have another piñata.”

Alfonzo searched through his keys until he found the one with the number 34 on it. He put the key into the lock, turned it, and pushed the steel door open. Frank hung limp from the lamp wearing only his blue shirt. Four other guards stepped into the cell.

“Ready, amigos!” Alfonzo pulled out his stick.
The other guards did the same.

They all took turns giving Frank whacks. The watchers cheered on the hitter.

“Hit’em harder, puto.”

“Crack him open, essay”

“Amo a las piñatas humanas.”

Frank was now rocking back and forth, slowly twirling. The shortest guard kept hopping up and hitting him in the crotch.

On Alfonzo’s second turn, Frank cracked open. The guards all shouted in triumph as hundreds of toys fell to the floor. They all grabbed large handfuls of toys and shoved them into their pockets. Alfonzo picked up a baseball. Each guard thought about how happy his children would be when their padre came home bearing gifts.

Michael James Gibbs lives somewhere between reality and his imagination in SW Ohio. He is a student at Indiana University East majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. His work has been published in the e-anthology Bradley Sands is a Dick and The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction.


  1. Awesome. And anyone who includes M.U.S.C.L.E. men in their story is awesome as well.

  2. Great stuff!

    Didn't Jack Kirby do the designs for M.U.S.C.L.E. men...?