Tom Flanders World

Writer of Fiction
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.


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

100 Words – Forever Wounds

foot wounds

Back in San Francisco I knew a homeless guy who used to sell jokes for a quarter. Then his foot got sliced open and he found that sympathy got him a lot more money than humor. So he never let his foot heal. Once a week or so he’d take a steak knife and open it up again.

As horrific as that sounds I do the same thing in my mind. Emotional scars, some forty to fifty years old, are torn open over and over again. Familiar pain relived.

Some wounds just never heal, especially if you don’t let them.


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Tags: | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: March 2, 2019

Tom Week – Gator land!


The gator swam up to me


We are now at our third park in Lake City. This one has an actual alligator in the pond with the alligator warning. It has the cutest laundry building ever.

So it’s hot and humid and I’m wearing shorts.


Another hot humid day. Lots of nothing getting done.

Got some great shots of an alligator in the park’s fishing pond.


We’re back in Starke but at the other end of the park so it seems like a brand new place. Big rain today and a bit of thunder but it didn’t last long.

Today I learned all about how an RV’s roll down shades work. Or in this case, how they don’t work.


The rental car place was all out of cars so I wound up with a minivan. I feel like a grown-up.

We had to drive to Green Cove Springs to pick up Abigail’s meds. We decided to take Abbie with us. I put her bed in the back of the van. She didn’t lay on it once.

On the road we passed through the town of Penny Farms. Just about the cutest town name ever.


Followup with the Doctor. Everything looks good. My A1C was too high but we knew that. Everything else is normal, including cholesterol and blood pressure.

The cutest thing; there are a bunch of people who who walk their dogs together. Unfortunately Abigail doesn’t like other dogs when she’s on the leash.

Almost forgot, had a two-digit blood sugar rating today. My first low reading in months.


Got a good bike ride in before the rain. Seventeen miles.


We are now in Perry, FL. It’s hot and humid yet the couple across the road insists on maintaining a constant fire. I don’t know what they’re burning but it stinks. Fortunately we’re supposed to have thunderstorms tomorrow.

On Saturday at the city park they are having a beer fest. 300 beers, all you can drink, for $45. Tempting bu since that’s more than I spend on beer over three months it seems like kind of a waste.



Wise words indeed


Confederate flag on a Kia?


The cutest little laundromat ever!

little trailer

Two people live in that, full time

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

100 Words – Cardiologist


Six hours ago my doctor first used the word cardiologist. Thoughts of denial jumped to mind. I quickly took inventory of family members with heart problems. My imagination ran off in every direction at once. From I’m going to die to maybe the doctor is an idiot.

Then my slavery to logic interrupted. I feel fine. I have no symptoms. Yeah, that didn’t last. Panic rules all. Suddenly sorry for not reading all those articles with title phrases like “silent heart attack” and “common foods that can kill you.”

The next day the cardiologist explained the not-to-worry about minor problem.


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Tags: | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: February 23, 2019

Tom Week – Casey Jones and Critters

casey jones and critters

Lake City is the land of Critters


Short bike ride today. A wonderful wander.

Abigail’s leg is getting better every day.

So is my blood sugar.


Went to brunch at Grammies. A must-do activity here in Starke.


Were are in Lake City where it is hot and humid. We are at the Lake City Campground which is up the street from the Lake City RV Resort which is up the street from the Lake City RV Park. The imaginations run wild.

My blood sugar is down under 200. Yeah!

Lake City seems to be the land of animal statues.


The park we’re in is much more of an overnight spot. It’s fun to watch the park completely empty and fill up again. Also, many of the campers aren’t too experienced with hooking up their rigs. The couple next door took two hours to do fifteen minutes of work.

The roads here are very straight. I did a ten mile bike ride and the Strava map is just a straight red line.

I spent the rest of the day not feeling too well. I assumed that I did too much on my ride but this evening I found a huge bug bite at the base of my neck. Have to watch those little critters.


Got lost in the woods on my bike ride today. It was wonderful. It was mostly dirt roads so the going was slow. Wound up back on the highway five miles north of where I expected to be. Fun.

The best part is that I don’t have the tiredness I felt after yesterday’s much shorter ride.

Spent a good part of today looking for the next stop. We’re just wandering around till my Doctor appointment. Finally settled on a park just ten miles away.

We also got to watch some hawks killing and eating tiny lizards.


Today we drove a whole seven miles to a new park. It is a quite cramped camp. We’ve been spoiled by the park in Starke where the sites are wide and spacious.

This is the kind of park where old guys in bathrobes and baseball caps walk their wiener dogs.

It seems that every time we go to the WalMart in Lake City the temperature shoots up. Weird.


Twelve mile bike ride today put me over 100 miles for the month. Today’s ride had an actual hill. Yes, a hill, in Florida! Half way up my heart rate started to rise and i got scared that I might set off my irregular heart beat. I spent the rest of the ride afraid of putting too much strain on my heart. Time to start using my heart monitor again.

We are at the Casey Jones campground in Lake City FL. It’s a funky little park buts has the absolute best shower of any RV park I’ve ever been in.


stone elephants

A heard of stone elephants in downtown Lake City, FL


Wiley Coyote carved out of a tree trunk.


Two hawks sit waiting for the little lizards to reveal themselves.


The horse was looking at me till I pulled out the camera.


“I wonder if that human would make a good meal.”


The moon among the clouds and trees.

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Tags: , | Comments (0) | Author: Tom | Published: February 21, 2019

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