Tom Flanders World

Writer of Fiction
 
Short Story – Bad Meditation

scary meditation face

Meditation was supposed to be relaxing. Nobody told me about the nightmares, or medimares or whatever the hell you call them. The visions of horror that jump out of the nothingness of the cleared mind. Not horror like you see in movies. Personal horror. Seeing yourself strangling puppies kind of horror.

It started about a month after my first attempt at meditation. It took me that long to learn how to clear my thoughts. To think about nothing. It was a slow process but there was progress. Then one day I did it. I was just there and there was nothing. I was relaxed and receptive.

Then my six grade teacher was there, only he wasn’t just being his usual asshole self. He was carving runes into the skin of my friends and there was nothing I could do to stop him.

Another time I was sitting, feeling very mellow and free, and suddenly I saw myself picking up a kitten and throwing her against the wall over and over again. That one sent me to the therapist.

Obviously I was doing something wrong the therapist told me. She had me do my deep breathing and relaxation ritual. She kept whispering good and yes. Slowly she, and everything else faded away. I felt calm. My last thought was to let go of thinking about not thinking. Then out of nowhere came the vision of my aunt falling from a great height and splattering on the sidewalk.

The therapist suggested that meditation might not be my thing. Instead, she gave me some pills to try to help me relax.

No more pills! At least when the meditation went bad I could snap out of it pretty quickly. The pills trapped me in the nightmare. Hours of dogs with knives, talking bloody cabbages and me, killing or hurting everyone and everything I could get my hands on.

The therapist got mad at me when I described my childhood as normal. After a few sessions she hypnotized me. When she brought me back up she pissed, having found nothing to blame the horrors on.

I’m a nice person. Never arrested, well once, drunk in public the night of my college graduation, but I never hurt anybody. The thought of these horrors living in my brain makes me vomit. Literally. I started to wonder if I’m too nice a person, working too hard to suppress the bad in me.

No meditation. No pills. Just sleep. It happened again. I was in a workshop. On the counter was a bird cage with eleven robins. I took each one and crushed it’s beak with a vice. The noises they made. I woke after the eleventh had surrendered its beak. Surely I am insane. I never want to sleep again.

My therapist has given up on me. She says I’m not trying to get better. She referred me to a new doctor. In our first meeting he wired me up to a bunch of machines, asked me a bunch of questions and said “huh” a lot.

A week later they removed the tumor.

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Tags: , | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: June 5, 2019

Tom Week – In Oregon

rouge river - Oregon

5/10/19

We are staying this weekend at the foot of Mount Shasta. Which is surprisingly not where the old crappy soda comes from. It was and the 80’s today but the mountain is still covered in snow.

We were able to but propane today. All is well.

5/11/19

Good bike ride. Lots of hills but not much air. Beautiful scenery.

Unfortunately, I forgot to eat before the ride so I’ve been feeling worn out all day.

Tonya got to sit outside all day in her rocking chair.

5/12/19

Short ride to Oregon. Only the tourist info rest stop was closed so no Oregon Fliers! We’ll have to rely on the dinky town info centers. The horror.

Had to stop at Petsmart. It took a while because the GPS talking lady got very confused and wouldn’t tell me how to get there until I would do a u-turn even though I didn’t need to take a u-turn.

The we got gas, which is weird because there is no self-service gas in Oregon.

We are at another nice park with soft air and mountain views.

5/13/19

Long bike ride today. 16 miles of surrounded by mountains beauty. Some great bike paths. While I was gone Pat cleaned the bugs off the front of the RV. There were A LOT of bugs on the front of the RV.

5/14/19

We are now in Sutherlin, which my Harry Pottered mind keeps seeing as Slytherin. It’s a funky park that doubles on weekends as a drive-in theater. There are some severely funky RV’s and people here. We are at the venn diagram intersection of people who Birckenstocks and people who own assault rifles.

The weird part is that when we checked in the clerk apologized that the cable TV wasn’t working. Then when I was hooking up a voice in my head told me to hook up the cable anyway. I did and it works fine.

5/15/19

Lazy rainy day.

5/16/19

Today was one of the most beautiful drives ever. Mountains, rivers, lakes and elk. After lunch we stopped at a very funky second-hand store. I found, but resisted buying, a Hannah Montana karaoke machine and a metal Jonas Brothers lunch box.

Tonight we are staying in a park full of bikers. There is a big festival in town. Who knew? Pat rode her scooter to the carnival. Later, Tonya and I went and got big soft pretzels. Yummy.

PIX

yurts

Oregon is the land of yurts

broken toy

Someone didn’t like their McDonalds toy

mile marker

The erroneous mile marker

drive-in screen

The view of the movie screen from our RV site

carnival midway

Tonya was useless at the magnetic fishing game

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Tags: | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: May 16, 2019

Tom Week – Strava Success

Abbie doesn't care about Strava

5/3/19

Good bike ride this morning. Ten miles. Best of all I now have the 7th fastest time on Strava for a route segment in Castroville. My usual place is in the hundreds or even thousands.

Rest of the day was lazy, listening to sea lions and boat bells, watching neighbors come and go. Lots of fun.

Got dinner from Phil’s which is one of the main reasons for coming to Moss Landing.

5/4/19

Driving through the familiar. It was nice to visit Gilroy and eat at one of our favorite restaurants. It was weird though driving so close to San Francisco but not going to San Francisco.

This park is nice. We have an unobstructed view of the ocean.

5/5/19

Lots of climbing on the bike today. Just short of 1000 feet.

There are way more rental RVs here than in any other park we’ve been in.

5/6/19

Pat and Tonya had Dr. appointments today. Had lunch at one of favorite restaurants.

Later we got to visit with our informally adopted son Chester. Smiles and tears.

5/7/19

Shopping day. Running from one familiar place to another. Consumer nostalgia.

Tonight I went to a comedy showcase. It is among the worst I ever saw.

5/8/19

Too cold to ride today. Where we’re going tomorrow it’s in the 80’s.

5/9/19

Woke up to temps in the low 50’s. Many miles later it’s in the 90’s. Ah California.

Tried to get propane at the RV park but the guy couldn’t make the pump work. Or the next guy, or the fourth guy. Finally we gave up. Hopefully the problem is their pump and not our tank.

PIX

Island

This island off the coast of San Francisco is rarely visible due to fog.

hang glider

This hang glider zoomed over the RV park a couple times.

mountain sea gulls

Only at a truck stop in Northern California can you see sea gulls and a snow-covered mountain.

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Tags: | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: May 11, 2019

Tom Week – Alabama Etc.

alabama swamp

3/22/19

We’re in Alabama! State number 26. It’s everything we could ever hope for. Lot’s of gun shops and even the news people have accents so think I can’t understand half of what they’re saying. Instead of golf carts the residents ride around on ATVs and mini bikes. Our next door neighbor has a dog called vittles.

3/23/19

We’re in Florida again! Twenty miles from Pensacola. We’re at a KOA with lots of RVs but very few people. Haven’t figured that one out yet.

My perceptions of the Gulf Coast are proving misguided. Not the people and places. They’re what I expected. The problem is distances. New Orleans is only 230 miles away. That’s three states. Alabama and Mississippi have much less coastline than I pictured.

Also met a guy here at the campground that’s riding his bicycle across the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It’s his sixth day on the road and he’s covered 400 miles.

3/24/19

Great day today. This morning I rode my bike to downtown Milton, FL. A town on a river trying to balance quaint and touristy. Fortunately quaint seems to be winning. After being in Georgia and Alabama I have to say that Florida is much friendlier to cyclists. Nice wide bike lanes everywhere.

Then after lunch I got a pile of work on the RV done. Vents to replace and clean. Holes to weatherstrip. Door to trim to nail down. I felt like such a “guy.”

3/25/19

Daylight Savings time, time zones, states smaller than I thought. All this has left me dazed and confused. We woke this morning in Florida. We drove to Alabama. Then we drove to Mississippi. All in the matter of a few hours. We are now an hour from Louisiana.

We are in a very nice RV park in a not great area of Biloxi. Pat and I both got a little nervous because the neighborhood reminded us of one in Fresno. That park turned out to be hideous. This one is much nicer.

3/26/19

On the best of days there are no plans. Today is one of those days. We’ve extended our stay in Biloxi till Friday and rented a car. Or rather a truck, and this in no mid-size wimp of a truck. It is a 2019 Ram crew cab with a HEMI!

We toured Biloxi, ate lunch at a pathetic Hooters knock-off called Twin Peaks, and took Abigail to a dog park that only had one other dog.

Then I took a nap. I was up all last night working on my latest short story.

3/27/19

Nearly fifteen miles on the bike today.

Out to dinner we had one of those rare failures of an experiment. The food was way spicier than hoped and it was full of unexpected ingredients. You can’t win them all.

Then we went to a giant gift shop which seriously needs some competition.

3/28/19

Coming back from WalMart I managed to get lost again. Having the ocean to the south is confusing.

Took dad to the casino. He won six dollars, but Mom made him buy me a beer so he actually wound up with only two dollars profit.

PIX

cows

Behind this RV park there were cows. As in mooooo!

empty space

Some RV parks have “yuge” spaces.

pickup truck

The rental truck was the envy of all the lesbians in the park.

bridge

The view from the top of the Biloxi Bay Bridge

pelicans

Pelicans by the bay.

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Tags: | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: March 28, 2019

Solitary – Short Story

solitary lights

Why do I expect music when there is no radio? I blame the movies. There’s always background music in the movies, even in solitary.

There are three of us down here. If I’m right there are six cells. I’m in the fifth from the door. The others are in two and three. Sometimes at night I hear them whispering. I think they’re in love.

The rats come by at dusk. At first they came into my cell but they’ve learned I have no food to share. Now they just stop to sniff hello and move on. Maybe the lovers feed them.

I get two small meals a day at random times so sometimes it’s a full day before the next arrives. The best way to deal with that is to assume that you are never going to be fed again. That way each meal’s arrival is a nice little surprise.

I wish it was dark. That would help. There is a single bright bulb in the hall shining on the grime that paints every surface of the cell. If it was dark I could imagine I was somewhere else.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been sent to my room by my parents to think about what I’ve done. Only my room is a stinking dungeon and I still have no idea what I’ve done. The guards tell me that they can’t tell me.

I came to prison for identity theft. I was guilty. My lawyer told me if I plead guilty I’d get off easy. Id did but I didn’t. Maximum sentence for a first offender. Still, parole possible in eighteen months.

Three months later they drug me down here. No reason, no warning.

Last night the lovers had an argument. Many guards came and beat them into silence. Then they dragged one of them to cell six. I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t see the wounds.

I don’t like this. I can feel his presence. I know when he wakes up he’ll be listening for me. I have to keep quiet or he’ll start whispering to me at night. I don’t want to get into any more trouble.

From the sounds of the meal deliveries I think it’s number two that’s now number six. I don’t know why I care. Even if he tried to talk to me I wouldn’t answer.

They dragged away number six today. I think he was dead. They found out when they brought food. Fortunately they did his cell last so my food wasn’t delayed. You should have heard number three. You’d think it was him they beat to death.

Somethings wrong. I was pacing the cell like I do a couple times a day to keep my muscles from dying. Mid-stride it felt like my heart was sucked out of my chest. Then it slowly came fluttering back in. I sat down and breathed for a long time. Nothing happened.

I told the food guard what happened but he didn’t care.

The next day I woke up in the hospital. It took a couple minutes to focus and realize I was strapped to the bed. It was comforting in a way. No responsibility. Then the cute nurse came over and smiled at me. Instant boner. I tried to squirm and hide it but couldn’t move. He put his hand on my arm and said, “Don’t worry dude. It happens all the time.”

That was the nurse’s favorite saying. He said it a lot. All around me people were puking and shitting and screaming. The nurse ran back and forth doing everything he could do to make people comfortable and clean. I loved him, but he wouldn’t tell me his name. He said to call him nurse, company policy.

The meals in the hospital were much better and more regular. I was unstrapped. At first the nurse and the guard watched me closely but I wasn’t going to do anything to ruin this sweet setup.

On the third day a doctor and three suits came to visit me. Doc said that my heart was acting up because I wasn’t eating properly. No Shit. I complained and asked why I was down there in the first place. He was about to answer but one of the suits stopped him.

Then another one of the suits handed me a pile of papers and a pen. He explained that if I signed it and didn’t ask any more questions I’d be set free. Well, I’d be paroled. Not exactly free.

A week later I was ready to go home. No more heart “episodes.” I sat on my bed, wearing real clothes, waiting for the discharge guard to come get me. It’s amazing how clothes like I’ve worn my whole life become so important after not being able to wear them.

I still didn’t know what was really happening to me. I was deep in thought and didn’t notice the nurse standing in front of me. He sat down close next to me. Fortunately my jeans were better at hiding my excitement than my hospital robe.

“You’re not going to let this go, are you?” He smiled and gave me a business card. It was the vice warden’s. I didn’t recognize the name. Then I did. One of my victims, a big one, had the same last name. I looked at the nurse. He nodded, got up and walked away, taking the card with him.

I sat all the way at the back of the bus. I like to have my back against the wall. That way nobody can sneak up behind you. You can see them coming. A fair fight. I wonder if the warden will see me coming.

#shortstory

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Tags: | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: March 4, 2019

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