“All Work and No Play.” Flash Fiction Draw Challenge Story for April 2023 by Jeff Baker.

The draws for the April 2023 Challenge were a Hardboiled Detective Story, a Prison Work Farm and a Model T Ford. Here’s my story.

All Work and No Play

by Jeff Baker

In the two weeks I’d been at Prairie County Correctional Work Farm I’d gotten into two fights, nearly got myself thrown in solitary (they call it “The Hole”) and picked lots of potatoes. So I was fitting right in.

The blue denim shirt itched, the plastic badge with my name and picture on it kept poking me, the food sucked and I knew I really didn’t belong there. I mean, I really didn’t but it was part of the job.

The badge identified me as Jack Adamski (which I was) but omitted the fact that I was a private detective or that I was in prison because several friends I have in the legal system had sold the State on hiring me to discreetly act to prevent a killing of somebody they might need later.

They didn’t know whether he really was who they needed, they didn’t want to draw attention to him by putting him in protective custody and, oh yes; they didn’t know which of the inmates was their man.


I wasn’t known by any of the cons here, the Pen up in Millington was another matter but we’d checked the roster of inmates before I’d been put in. Nobody but the Warden knew who I was.

Prairie County Correctional was on a few acres just off the highway in Western Kansas. A front gate and low, wooden office building and several rows of metal barracks with large fields of various vegetables which the inmates harvested to help feed the prisoners. They also were marched out to clean highway rubbish and clear fallen trees and the like.

Across the road was an overgrown lot wit junk cars including a Model T Ford and a rusted V.W. Bug.

I was lying on my cot exhausted after a work detail in the little cubicle all the inmates had in the barracks; a brick wall about waist-high when one of the old movie cliches walked in. In the movies, it’s the tall blonde walking into the P. I.’s office. This blonde was short, male with bunchy muscles and tattoos. And he knew who I really was.

“I know who you’re looking for,” the blonde said in a low whisper. “They’ve got him in the hole.”

“What did he do?” I asked, sitting up in my cot.

“Asked for protection,” the blonde said. “He knows someone’s after him.”

“He got a name?” I asked.

“It’ll cost you,” the blonde said.

I forked over a pack of cigarettes, feeling like a real cliche. I’d had friends on the outside put some money on my books for the smokes from the canteen. That got me his first name: Morty.

It took some wrangling but I got on a detail sweeping the floor in the barracks where they had Morty. Basically a row of standard prison cells and Morty’s was the only one occupied. We were able to talk and I found that while he was the guy I was looking for, he was also part of a smuggling ring inside the prison. That was the reason he had been targeted, not anything he’d done on the outside.

The “drop” was across the road in the old Model T Ford.

Morty was telling me all this when I was jumped by two big cons who had snuck up on me. Security was pretty lax in this place I thought as I brawled for my life. One of them punched me in the face,

Guards showed up.

All three of us were thrown in the hole, and yes the other two were involved in the smuggling.

I spent the night in the hole with the two yelling at me and spoke to the warden the next day. I got sprung and I got paid my fee.

I guess I was persona non grata in that prison from now on. Fine with me. I filled out my report and went back to my apartment to sleep.

All in all it was a lot safer than some of my divorce cases had been.


This entry was posted in crime, Fiction, Hardboiled Detective, Jack Adamski, Kansas, Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge, Mystery, prison, Short-Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

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