Tuesday, February 22nd, 2010

Fire in the Hole
Dan Tracy


The human body burns like a log of wood. First the thin layers of skin fry, then peels off as flames traverse across the surface. After approximately five minutes, thick dermal layers of skin shrink and split allowing the underlying yellow fat to ooze out, vaporizing as it burns. I witnessed this many years ago as a fellow inmate torched a pedophile in an adjoining cell next to mine. Pedophiles, after all, are nothing more than subhuman sewage, depraved, vile animals that need to be eliminated. They prey on defenseless, innocent children. They do not belong among the living. They barbecue quite readily.

Sam Cali had access to the prison maintenance room where he gathered the necessary materials; VM&P naphtha, Styrofoam peanuts---the pellet shaped ones used for packaging --–and a rubber hose. He filled a one gallon empty paint can with the Styrofoam, poured enough naphtha over the pellets dissolving them to the consistency of yogurt. To this paste Sam added quarter inch pieces of rubber cut from the hose. He tightly capped the home brew napalm, placed it on his maintenance cart concealing it among half a dozen paint cans. As a painter and a ‘Redhat’---a trustee able to roam at will ---Sam had complete freedom around the cellblock. He had access to all 600 cells. Sam parked his cart in front of my cell.

“Yo, Dan! I hear you need some paintin’ done.”

“Yea,” I said. “Come on in.”                                                                                                                                                
Sam yells out to the Doorkeeper at the end of the tier, “Open 32…touchup.”

The Doorkeeper aligns a metal pointer bar over number 32, pulls a lever; metal gears clank and grind synchronizing, opening my cell door. Sam carries the gallon of home brew napalm, along with a paint brush and tarp, inside my cell. He slides the napalm under my cot, hangs around for ten minutes then leaves pushing his cart towards the Doorkeeper at the end of the galley. He pays the Doorkeeper off with ten cartons of Old Gold cigarettes. Tonight, after supper at 7 o’ clock the world will be less one pervert. Tonight this degenerate will suffer unfathomable agony. Hopefully more than his victims.

At 5pm reveille blasted over the cellblock PA system announcing chow time. The metal clash of cell doors opened followed by the echo of hundreds of shoes galloping down the stairs from the tiers lining up shoulder to shoulder on the main cellblock floor. I squeezed in next to Sam.

“Right face…march!”

“No talking in line,” screw Johnson warned.


We slid our plastic food trays along the cafeteria counter rails as the kitchen crew plopped our meal on it; chipped beef on a slice of white bread–--shit on a shingle as we called it--- and a plastic cup of  Kool-Aid, typical jail house crap. We sat among trusted friends where we could talk freely. After scanning those inmates seated in hearing distance we saw no snitches and decided it was safe to talk.

“Here’s the deal,” whispered Sam as he stuffed the shit on the shingle in his mouth.

“I paid the Doorkeeper to open my cell at exactly 7pm just after the head count. I’ll run down to your cell, which will also be opened, and all you have to do is place the home brew onto the galley. I’ll take it from there.”

Under the table I passed Sam three new books of matches and a nylon stocking doo-rag.
Just two more hours ‘till show time, I thought, as we marched back to our cribs. It’s going to be an interesting night, an evening of fire fueled by the putrid flesh of a demon who somehow infiltrated humanity.

As I lay on my bunk I thought about Sam’s Vietnam experiences he shared with me like the time his platoon went on a search and destroy mission in the city of Cu Chi in the Iron Triangle, Southern Vietnam. After zippoing a village known for its VC activity, a lone, black uniformed gook had been discovered hiding in a tunnel beneath the hooch rubble along with a cache of rice and weapons. Sam told me he never took prisoners even though he was ordered to. Sam did not trust gooks; he’d attach his bayonet to his M-16, thrust it into the gooks eye then twirl his rifle in a circular motion scrambling the dinks brains.

“The only good gook is a dead gook,” Sam would say.

Sam told me how he crawled through the Cu Chi tunnels ‘neutralizing’ gooks.  He took great pride in discussing how he prepared for a tunnel run. He’d strap his bayonet upside down across his chest. This way, he said, it was easier to withdraw the blade pulling downward rather than up because some parts of the tunnel were only two feet wide and for close contact during hand to hand combat. Sam said the gook tunnels took 90 degree turns about every ten yards, baffled incase a satchel charge was thrown in.

Anything could lurk around these bends; poison snakes, rats, bats, shit stained bamboo spears and it was rare, but, Sam told me once as he silently craned his neck around a corner almost touching noses with Charlie. Charlie never had a chance as Sam’s razor sharp blade tore threw the dinks stomach up into his heart. Another problem in the tunnels was stinging fire ants. Sam strapped insect aerosol bombs onto each ankle for quick access. Sam’s weapon of choice was a .22 long rim pistol---the .45 issue rang his ears---and a flashlight.

The only time I’ve seen Sam smile is when he spoke about his special killing contraption; an empty ammo can filled with napalm rigged with a phosphorous grenade.

Anything in range vaporized---man or machine. Roasted gook bodies always got a chuckle out of Sam. War does that to people, you know. Send a sane man into Hell and he comes back damaged psychologically. Sam came back a killer.

Seven o’ clock my cell door slowly creeped open. The Doorkeeper, another ‘Nam vet knew the value of silence and the element of surprise---guerrilla warfare at its best. I pulled the home brew out from under my bunk, pried the top lose, placed it on the galley floor.  After my cell door closed I grabbed my makeshift mirror, a palm size square cut from a paint can top, held it outside between the door bars catching the reflection of Sam tip toeing down the galley, the nylon doo-rag over his head distorting his facial features just in case the bastard didn’t die. I tilted the mirror focusing on the pervert’s reflection; his eyes closed taking a nap on his bunk. I gave Sam the thumbs up sign. With cat like precision Sam lined up the three books of matches on the galley floor. He removed the already pried off top of the home brew, silently placed it on the floor. He picked the can handle up with his left hand, his right hand cupping the bottom and swung it banging the can opening  against the perverts door bars. A vertical fan of thick, creamy napalm spread the entire length of the reclining pedophiles body. The degenerate jumped up off his bunk screaming. Sam knew from experience he had only five minutes before the bulls came. Sam lit a match, held it to the full book igniting it tossing it threw the bars …the motherfucker burst into flames!

“Burn you piece o’ shit.” Sam whispered to his self as he lit and threw matchbook number two on the pervert’s bunk. Flames lit up the entire cell. I had to hold my mirror further away from the door bars as they began to heat up. I could feel the radiant heat spread through the cell wall and against my face. Putrid, sulfurous stench filled my nostrils as super hot red and blue flames devoured his hair. An interesting array of colored flames spewed from the pieces of rubber, melting, drooling, sticking. Sam lit the third book of matches, threw them in without a target in mind since the first two books landed accurately.

“Help me…HELP ME DEAR GOD!” cried the pervert as he tried to wipe the flames away. All this did was spread the flames from one part of his body to another. He ran back and forth, banging his body against the walls. He spun, he squatted…jumped in the air. Nothing he did stopped the flames from spreading.  Two fiery globs of home brew boiled his eyeballs as smoke billowed out from his empty eye sockets. His ears, hair and nose were gone, incinerated. Bright, raging puffy balls of flames erupted from where ever the pieces of rubber landed.  Sam answered the pervert’s cry for help, “God offers no mercy to those who torment His children.”

I tilted my mirror left to right, up and down focusing on Sam’s masterpiece. It was almost over. The pervert flopped on his back slapping the floor like a rack of ribs. He was either dead or unconscious. As flames engulfed his entire body his arms reached skyward, his hands clenched in a fist as his muscles contracted, shrinking and froze in that position.  The entire cellblock reeked of burnt pork roast.

I stashed my mirror as the bulls ran up the galley. I grabbed a book from my bookshelf, stretched out on my bunk, and opened it to a page I had bookmarked earlier:

“You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn’t find one of ‘em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill smelled like---victory.”                                      Apocalypse Now (1979)


We now had 599 inmates.
The whole cellblock smelled like---VICTORY!



Bio: Dan Tracy lives in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His literary scribbling can be found on,,,,, and Flash Fiction Offensive. Dan and reality never got along well---They will never be friends.


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