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When I was coming up, we didn’t have shit.

So when the dinner plate was empty, my pops would gather us around for story time.

My fave was the one about pigs.

Most people think pigs are foul creatures, living in slop and only existing to put food on people’s tables. A unclean animal, they call them. Only fit for shit, my pops would say.

Every day, the Stable Boy would come by and feed them. This motherfucker hated pigs, but it was part of his duties to make sure they were fed and alive.

He did that, I reckon, but that wasn’t all.

The Stable Boy would agitate the pigs, riling them up and causing a big mess in their pen. The farmer would come around, see the mess and go scorched earth.

That’s when the little piggies got sent down the line to the butcher.

But one day, something different happened.

Maybe the Stable Boy slipped in shit, or maybe he was still drunk from the night before, but his ass fell into the pig pen.

And let me tell you something about pigs: They’re thorough.

Thoroughly murderous.

You ever want to get rid of a corpse, you throw it into the pig pen. They’ll devour every last trace of the body.

And that’s what they did the Stable Boy.

Nobody ever heard from him again.

Moral of the story: Don’t fuck with pigs.

It’s a moral Max Meadows never learned.

See, Max was a big time prison guard.

But he hated the prisoners. Every moment he spent in their presence was hell.

Cause they were below him, you know. The only thing they deserved was the business end of an AK.

“Unclean shitstains,” he’d say. “Nobody’d miss ‘em if I offed one.”

Meadows did his duty though. He kept us alive, fed and watered.

But just like the Stable Boy, he didn’t stop there. He’d agitate us, goad us into fighting both him and others. Every damn day, he was getting the warden to send one of us down to Death fucking Row for something he started.

Sent to the Red Hood like lambs to the slaughter.

But today…

Today’s a new fucking day.

Today, Max Meadows’ is slipping into the pig pen.

Max. Max. Max.

You thought you were better than us pigs, didn’t you? You thought you were this big tough untouchable motherfucker who could poke and prod us at will.

When we got sent down to Death Row, you just laughed.

Who’s laughing now?

Because let me tell you something, Max.

Story time’s over.

It’s time for dinner on Death Row, and my plate’s empty.

I’m fucking starving.

But now you’ve fallen into the pig pen. Into the shit.

My pig pen. My shit. The place where you put me.

Trust me, I’m just as thorough as those little piggies, and when I’m done with you, there won’t be a damn thing left for Red Hood to tag and bag.

Nobody’ll miss you.

It’ll be like you didn’t exist.

All they’ll see is this pig with a full belly and a grin.

No questions asked.

CJ Thorpe