Tom Flanders World

Writer of Fiction

Short Story – City Folks/Creepy Woods

creep woods

I thought I had lucked out. A state park with plenty of available spaces right on a lake. Oh what a fool I was. One bar on the cell phones means no WIFI. The TV finds no channels. The radio finds no stations. As the sun set a heavy mist formed upon the lake. The clouds are blocking the moon. We are in total darkness. Total isolation.

The morning came as a thick fog. It might have well still been night as far as I could see. I counted seven steps before losing sight of the camper. Found it again by walking backwards. The dog was afraid to poop. Didn’t blame her. Told her she had to go anyway.

There were noises in the water. A couple of small skidding splashes like ducks landing. Then there was a big splash and a gator’s bellow. I decided it would be okay if the dog pooped inside under the circumstances.

A couple hours later the fog lifted like it was being vacuumed up into the sky. There was no wind. The water was as smooth as glass. A gator’s head popped out of the water over by the bat house, then sank away. That was the last we saw of it.

At first I thought it was a bird house, but it turns out it was a bat house. This did not comfort my wife, so no wandering around at dusk for her. Thanks to the dog, I did. Didn’t see or hear any bats, but we heard some bull frogs arguing about religion. I don’t speak frog, but religion is the only thing that would elicit that much passion in an argument.

About midnight, on the dog’s last walk, the night had become humid and lit by a big moon. The bats came. You could hear the wings flap. There was no screeching, but that was almost worse. Then they were gone. I guess all the bugs had been eaten.

The next morning was misty, but not so bad. That splashing and gator groans were back, but I figured that as long as they’re splashing they’re not on the land. Then the dog started yelping. She was covered with fire ants. It took ten minutes to pull them all off her. Another five to get them off me. Youch.

When we got back to the camper I noticed the muddy paw prints on the door. The dog was freaking at the smell. I guess on the way out she was too busy to notice. I took a picture with my phone thinking, “That was one big raccoon.” I looked it up in the Boy Scout manual I got at a yard sale for a quarter. Yes, they were bear prints. Well pulled out as soon as visibility allowed.

Maybe motels are more our speed.

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Tags: , | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: April 3, 2020

Short Story – Alone in a Crowd

alone among chairs

People think that being alone is all silence and isolation. For me, being alone is standing still watching the world go around me in fast forward. They don’t perceive me and I don’t dare interrupt whatever they are in such a hurry to accomplish. It must be important. I’m not important.

Not that I don’t think I’m important within the scope of my own existence. I am as important as anyone else. I just don’t think that I’m more important than anyone else. I’m not one of those self-entitled people who think the world should bow down and step aside.

Those people should have their kneecaps broken. My court-appointed new best friend calls that an inappropriate thought. Apparently everyone has them, but the norms don’t act on them. My court-appointed life goal is to become a norm. Doesn’t that sound like a monkey barrel full of fun?

At the time it seemed like letting the court take control of my life was better than going to jail. Now I’m not so sure. This isn’t freedom. I’m not sure what to call it. Whatever it is, I only have to do it for six more months. My brothers are planning a coming out party.

My brothers are not my friends. I was a several years later surprise. Never able to keep up with them physically or scholastically I became the black sheep. My parents were too old and tired to care that I strayed from the norm. There’s that word again.

My brothers are normal. They’re falling down drunk every Friday and Saturday night. I like to drink but not that hard. That’s why it’s been easier for me than the other guys in the circle of chairs. They are normal. They have normal problems. Drunks are OK. I am not.

I wish I had some poetic trigger to my violence. Like, “I see a purple light coming from my head.” But it just happens. Like a car skidding off the road. No, it’s not even like that. Some guy says something insulting, not meaning it, and I’m pounding his face.

That hasn’t happened in a while though. They gave me these pills called mood stabilizers. They make everyone else seem like they are far away so it doesn’t bother me, no matter what they say. I don’t like them, but the name reminds me of the Star Blazers cartoon.

So here I sit in lonely and confused silence with the cult of the circle of chairs. Mood stabilized, unable to express myself. The others take their turns complaining about their lives and repeating the lies they told their parole officers. The facilitator writes it all down on their permanent records.

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Tags: | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: March 2, 2020

Tom Week – Wandering Northern Florida

northern florida belltower

2/13/20 – The Big Race Cometh

In northern Florida during Daytona Speedweek. (AKA the big race) A whole bunch of extra people are here. We are having to go all the way to the Georgia border this weekend. All the other campgrounds are full.

2/14/20 – Nearly Georgia

We are five miles from Georgia in a weird commercial campground that probably used to be a county park. Across the street is an abandoned motel. Across the highway from that is another abandoned motel. There are four large fireworks stores in sight. It feels like we are in some post-apocalyptic oasis.

And there are ducks.

2/17/20 – Three days later

Feeling better today. More energy and clarity. We are in an amazing place. A state park on the banks of the Suwannee River, dedicated to the guy who wrote the song.

I helped rescue a dog today. It was wandering in traffic and was very scared and probably already been hit. I parked the RV and grabbed a leash. A woman and I managed to get a loop over the dog’s head and get it off the road. A passerby called animal control.

When the animal control woman arrived she said that she already had two nearly identical dogs in her truck. It didn’t go quietly but now it’s safe.

2/18/20 – How I Love Ya

Got in a short bike ride today. A mix of paved and dirt roads. Nice scenery, but no alligators spotted. Pat took her scooter for a ride as well.

We’ve got not TV reception here so I’m getting a bunch of work done on my next videos. I had to download a new video editor. The once I was using just can’t do what I need it to do. Trial and error.

2/19/20 – Down River

We are sixty miles from the last park but still on the Suwannee river. All kinds of critters in the water here. We have a great view but no cable TV and 1 bar cell service. It’s going to be a quiet couple days.

The fish here don’t jump, they fly.


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Tags: , | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: February 21, 2020

Short Story – The Phone Will Ring

the phone

Another sunrise. Another day of waiting. Sitting on the back deck with a line in the water drinking too many beers. It might help if I had bait or hooks or stuff like that, but I find that fishing is much more relaxing without all that catching fish business.

The phone will ring soon. Or later. Or never. Well, so far it has never not rang, but that is always a possibility. It will happen one day. The phone will never ring again and I’ll be stuck here pretending to fish and drinking beer for the rest of my life.

What if the phone doesn’t ring? I can’t just fish for the rest of my life. I’ll need a hobby. I could collect things. That sounds boring enough to kill me. Maybe I could watch every movie ever made. Maybe I could build things, as long as they’re not too hard to build.

I have a friend who builds paper cars. Most of them are pretty easy. A color printer, some scissors and some tape are all you need. When he first showed me his collection I assumed he was insane. Though when faced with the idea of never working again, I can almost see his point.

The problem with paper cars is that while they look cool and are easy to build they are ultimately worthless. My friend is zen enough, or zenough, to think that having a worthless hobby is a good thing. I’d prefer to do something of value I could pass on to the young ones.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any young ones. Nobody to carry on my legacy, which I also don’t have. I guess getting one of them wife people would have helped, but I never got the hang of those relationship things. Maybe paper cars wouldn’t be so bad.

So this is where the mid-life crisis is supposed to happen. Only it doesn’t, happen. Every time I get close to having one I’m overwhelmed with contentment. Then the phone will ring and I’m off on another job and become too busy to think about such things.

The problem is that I have no reason to worry, so I tend to be not very good at it. My brain doesn’t stick like other people’s. My brother has a wife, kids, a dog and a paid-for house, but he worries all the time. Me, I analyze things, decide on an action, then let it go.

Boy, I can spew some bullshit when I get rolling. If I didn’t worry, I wouldn’t be babbling on about not worrying. I’m not ready for this. Let the phone ring just one more time. I’ll prepare for next time. If it doesn’t ring, I’ll be ready.

Then the phone rang. A job. A long job. I won’t have to worry about the phone ringing for at least a year. Then what? I’ve been checking out paper car web sites, but haven’t mustered any interest. Maybe stamps. Maybe travel. Maybe hookers.


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Tags: , | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: January 31, 2020

Tom Week – Winter in the South

roses in winter in the south

1/2/20 – Patriots Fan in The South

We’re in Mobile AL, the land of Moon Pies and things hanging from strings. The owner of the park is an old guy with a Cajun accent so thick that even Alabamans can’t understand him. The funny thing is, he’s a Patriots fan.

1/3/20 – Hard Winter Rain

Fortunately we’re on a hill by the ocean. Lots of the inland lowlands are flooded. I’m getting a little anxious. I haven’t ridden my bike at all this year. Goal is 1200 miles, or 100 miles a month. I can do this. If the rain ever stops.

1/4/20 – Is is still Friday? No It’s Saturday.

Back in Florida, just east of Pensacola. I’m overflowing with testosterone today. I went to Home Depot AND Harbor Freight. I AM MAN!

There is another Winnebago Brave in the park. A red one. Tomorrow I will seek out the owner and we will bond.

1/5/20 – Task Day

Got a pile of little jobs done today. Too cold for a bike ride. I’ve stated work on some weird little videos. I’ll be posting them soon.

1/6/20 – Fall in Florida

We are in Bonifay Florida. It’s fall here. The ground is covered with fallen leaves. It’s very confusing.

We are also in the land of hills. Yes, hills in Florida.

Today at Walmart I got a reminder that we really are in Florida. These people were trying to jump start a car, only their jumper cables had no clamps on one end. The guy was holding the bare wires against the battery terminals, while smoking, and while his helper pulled the filler cap off the battery. I had to turn away because as our RV motto says, “I don’t want to have to testify.”

1/8/20 – Back in Perry

When I went into the office to check in the young woman behind the counter shouted, “Welcome back Mr. Flanders.” As my shock faded she explained that she recognized the Big Yellow Truck.

Today at Walmart I saw the weirdest thing in the clearance aisle, the Harry Potter Lego Advent Calendar. That’s a bizarre combination of words and ideas.


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Tags: , | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: January 8, 2020


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