Jeff never saw his double.
Bill, on the other hand, did. When Bill first set eyes on him, his heart skipped. It was like looking into a mirror. They could have been twins, separated at birth, but they weren’t. Just a freak of DNA.
Pulling up to the prison gates, Jeff parked his van. The gun-toting prison guard walked to his window and nodded to wind his window down.
“You’re early this week,” the guard said.
“Road’s are clear today,” Jeff replied.
“You’ll have to wait, the bin men are still inside.”
Jeff nodded and turned his engine off.
It was, of course, the least popular of his drops. HM Slade Prison, home to nearly a thousand lags, had two pallets of poor quality, sandpaper-like toilet rolls delivered every Friday. Delivering toilet rolls for a job was not as shitty as it sounded. “Everyone’s gotta shit,” Jeff would tell anyone down the pub who’d listen.
The bin men took another ten minutes to load, go through three security doors and exit. The security was strongly set up, though the actual checking was routine. No one seriously expected anyone to escape in the back of a bin lorry. It just doesn’t happen.
Driving to the loading bay, Jeff shivered, as he always did. The piercing eyes of the few inmates in the yard gave him the creeps. Not that they’d do anything, there was no point.
Opening the rear doors, Jeff caught the eye of the prison guard who bought over an inmate to help unload the toilet rolls. Looking through the warehouse, Jeff could also see the four other lags loitering about. Though still unnerving, he always felt a queasy half-safeness at being free on the inside. Surrounded by murderers, muggers and rapists he couldn’t help but feel things were safer outside with them in here.
It happened so suddenly.
A fight between the four loiterers kicked off. The prison guard next to Jeff ran towards the fight. The last thing Jeff remembered before losing consciousness was something heavy hitting the back of his neck.
The moment Bill had seen him, all those weeks ago, hairs tingled up his spine. He couldn’t describe the feeling, as it involved words of more than two syllables, but he’d never forget it. His mind had flashed back to his youth, searching for a twin brother he knew he’d never had. What other explanation was there?
Bill, or Bill the bastard as most referred to him, had taken a week to come up with the plan. That’s the beauty of prison, too much time to think. Too much time to plan. Too much time for anything.
Other prisoners and even a guard had been lured into the plan. Bill had a stash of tobacco and porn that bought him prisoners to stage the fight. The guard was promised a handsome payout after he’d escaped.
As easy as the plan seemed, it still had to be executed. When the fight broke out, the guard immediately turned and ran towards them. Walking from the shadows of the storage room, Bill pulled up the piece of wood and slapped his double over the back of the head. Within seconds and with the help of the other prisoner, he’d swapped jackets and hats with his double. Swapping trousers wasn’t necessary, as the guard had smuggled in a similar pair.
Starting up the van, Bill paused for a second. Nearly there. Just a small drive through the gates to freedom. Taking a deep breath, he drove on.
It was the perfect escape. A new identity, job and even money were waiting for him. The first thing the new Jeff did, after a few pints at the pub, was to write and post his immediate notice to work. Then, ransacking his new house, he found the passport and bank accounts he desperately wanted. The passport photo was an unbelievable likeness, enough to send more shivers down his spine. He quickly emptied all the accounts, put the house up for sale, stuck two grand in an envelope and popped it through the guard’s letterbox and got a flight to Marbella.
Waking with a sore head, Jeff saw the two guards in front of him
“What you doing, slacking again?” one of them said before roughly picking him up
“I don’t know what’s happened. Where am I?” Jeff asked
“Yeah nice try. Back to your cell.” The guard grabbed his other arm and started dragging him.
As it dawned on Jeff he was in prison, his protestations were ignored. The nearer he got to his new cell, the more he complained, the angrier the guards got
“I’m not a prisoner, I’m a van driver. Look you’ve got to help me."
“Shut it and walk."
“But, there’s been a huge mistake, I…”
“Just shut it and get inside, you’ve got twenty years left. Deal with it.” The guards gave him a big push inside and bolted the door behind him
Landing awkwardly, Jeff rolled onto his side. Looking up he saw a burly and very hairy, half-naked man wearing pink lipstick
“I’m Daphne,” the man said. “Welcome to your new home, honey.”