Tom Flanders World

Writer of Fiction
 
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

Tom Week – Detours

detours

Medical Detours and Adventures

2/8/19

We are official Floridians. Thank you Janet. We all have our new IDs. The RV has a new title and tags. We’re registered to vote. Yee Hah!

Unfortunately, Abbie was barking and running after a dog and she hurt her leg. It’s looking a little better this evening but we may going to see the vet tomorrow.

2/9/19

No sleep last night. Random acid reflux. Usually this only lasts a couple hours before fading, but last night it lasted all night.

The new lights arrived today. No more wandering around with flashlights.

2/10/19

Slept much last night. Only woke for a while cause Tonya was having a conversation with someone who wasn’t there. Abbie got me up at eight for food and a walk, but went back to bed for a couple more hours.

I installed the new ceiling lights today. They are SO bright!

We went to a seafood place for supper. The waitress brought Pat and Tonya the kid’s portions and it was still way much food.

2/11/19

Great touristy bike ride today. Lot’s of funky pictures. Then it was laundry time.

My weight is down to 189. Yee Hah! That’s 76 pounds gone so far.

2/12/19

Good news: Abigail won’t need surgery for her leg.

More good news: New diabetes meds are working.

Bad news: There was something odd about my EKG so I have to see a cardiologist.

2/13/19

Up at 6AM to get to Jacksonville for Tonya’s 9:30 Social Security appointment. Some traffic but we still got there early. Surprisingly we were done before 9:30. Amazing.

Lazy afternoon. Some of us took naps.

2/14/19

Visited the cardiologist today. It seems that I’m going to be OK. One the what the doctor called fibers is misfiring. There are many things that can cause this. Most likely an imbalance of electrolytes, which may be caused by my blood sugar issues.

So no more tests needed and I don’t have to go back for a year.

And no, I’m not unaware of the irony of going to the heart doctor on Valentine’s day.

PIX

masonic lodge

How many plots have been plotted in this old building?

bike seat

My bike seat has been pollinated.

barrel

I appear to have cycled into an Italian neo-realist Roadrunner cartoon.

stone bull

Up close, this is one sad old bull.

abandoned businesses

If you need bike insurance you’re double out of luck.

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Tags: , | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: February 14, 2019

Short Story – Camping Karaoke

camping karaoke microphone

Camping Karaoke

The sunset on the lake made me sad. Another day and no alligators spotted. What’s the use of camping next to a swampy Florida lake if there aren’t any alligators?

Music from the bar up the road tempted me out. My friends’ arguments about how drinking in bars isn’t part of camping did nothing to deter me. I left them to their smokey, burnt marshmallow sharing of tales of their decades-gone glory school days.

The road back to the highway was starlit and noisy. The insects and frogs seemed to be in tune with the twangy guitars ahead. It was one of those weird moments when I knew I was supposed to be afraid of the deep dark woods, but I wasn’t. Too much noise and vision for that.

The roadhouse was across a four lane highway that wasn’t all that busy but the cars came fast out of the growing dark. They didn’t all have their headlights on yet. It took a while for enough of a break to sprint to the medium. On the medium the fear hit. I was surrounded by speeding cars who had no expectation of a person being here. I could almost hear the thump of my body bouncing off a hood.

Finally there was a break and I made it to the dirt parking lot. Oddly, the music seemed no louder as I got closer. That changed when I opened the door. The music blared with all possible noise then stopped. It wasn’t for my presence, just the end of the song.

Or maybe it was me. By the time I made my way to the nearest bar stool I noticed that I was the only man in the place. I had wandered into that rarest of rare bar experiences, the Lesbian Country Music Karaoke night.

Surprisingly, nobody seemed to be bothered by my presence, so I took the same attitude. I successfully ordered, payed for and drank a beer. Listened to some loud off-key drunken sing-sobbing. Had another beer and realized that I was having a good time. Didn’t know any of the songs being sung, but so what.

Then it happened. This tiny little woman came up to me and said that I had to do the male part of the song she wanted to sing. I told her I didn’t know the song and she said, “That’s why they have the words on the screen you dumb breeder.”

I looked around for support but found none. So I followed the little woman up to the stage. The woman in charge set up a second microphone and pointed out the back-up singer’s monitor. I didn’t know such a thing existed.

The music began and the little woman sang, badly. I’m talking raccoon in heat bad. Then words appeared on my screen. I more spoke them than sang them. I sounded like William Shatner on an off night. The lyrics were somewhere short of Dick and Jane on downers. It was hard not to laugh.

The song ended and the audience clapped. The bartender came up to the stage and dragged me out the front door. She gave me a shove and said, “OK, we’re done with ya.” She shut the door and I heard it lock.

I was halfway across the scary though now mostly empty highway when I realized that there was no music. Apparently nobody wanted to follow our train wreck of a duet.

Back at the campground everyone was already tucked in. I sat watching the dark lake, trying to figure out what I had done to earn the karmic punishment of that bar. Then my mind wandered off into the universe trying to figure out everything else. At some point it got very cold but I didn’t notice.

Then the sun came up. It was beautiful. I wished for the next adventure and climbed into my sleeping bag.

 

note:

Comments and critiques are welcome. Please be cruel but not abusive.

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

RVing – Ambulance Visit

dog park

1/8/19

Another ambulance visited to RV park. I guess that’s a regular thing here in retirement land. Good long bike ride today. Dinner from Boston Market. MMMM, tatoes!

1/9/19

Still waiting to hear back from the glass people about fixing the windshield. We’re staying in the current park but we have to switch spots tomorrow.

1/10/19

We were supposed to move to another space today but they called and said the other people had canceled so we get to stay put. The new windshield will be here in 4 to 6 days.

1/11/19

Meeting neighbors. Watching RVs come and go. Walking the dog. Life in motorhome suburbia.

1/12/19

Temps in the upper 70’s. So nice.

1/13/19

Pat and I both realized that we are feeling restless because we’ve been staying at parks too long. Time to start moving again.

High Temp, 80 degrees, love Florida in January.

1/14/19

Cooled today, but still in the 60’s. Today we talked about buying a car to tow behind the RV. The rental car fees are adding up.

PIX

bear crossing

These signs are common here but apparently the bears are not.

betty boop

Just a couple panels of the miles of painted fences along the bike trail.

Jerry Garcia

Jerry and Sophia watch from their wooden moments in time.

squirrel

Caught in the act. After my protein bars again.

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Tags: | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: January 14, 2019

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