Who are you?

TEXAS DEATH ROW NEWS                            April 6, 2018


« I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge

That myth is more potent than history

That dreams are more powerful than facts

That hope always triumphs over experience

That laughter is the only cure for grief

And I believe that love is stronger than death”

The storyteller’s Creed by Robert Fulghum


Have you ever given much thought to who you are? To what kind of person you are day in day out? What kind of experiences have you lived through that created your personality? What was your childhood like? What was school life like for you when you were young? Were you popular? What kind of extra-curricular or after-school activities were you a part of? Did you enjoy them? What was home life like as you grew more mature and became an adult? What kind of relationships did you have? What kind of work have you done in life? What types of events have you gone through that have emotionally influenced your character? Who are you and what makes you you?

As I ask myself these questions today, I realize that when I was a teenager and young adult I was incapable of asking, much less answering them then. After 48 years of life I know that what we live through shapes who we are, as we are the sum of our experiences, and I find that fact very thought provoking.

I have always been a creative person. I think back to my elementary school days and how I loved to read and listen to stories being told. I remember one of my favourite things to do as a child in school was to visit the public library. We were allowed to browse the shelves of the children’s section and pick out two books to check out and take home. I loved doing that. The librarian would then have our class sit around her as she would read to us a story. As a young child, 8-9-10 years old, those experiences were life-altering for me. A world that I did not know existed was opened through books, through a story I could imagine inside my head. This was magical for me as I learned that imagination was stronger than knowledge at that young age. I also learned that myth was more potent than history through the stories I listened to and read about through the way they would take me to other times, other worlds and other realities.

I think of this today, how many men on Texas death row use imagination and myth to cope with this soul-crushing solitary confinement they are forced to endure? In this instance, imagination is stronger than the “knowledge”’ that the individual in question has been sentenced to death by lethal injection. The fictional stories – myths he reads or listens to on the radio – are more potent than the history that has resulted in them being condemned to death.

I have expressed to a few close friends here that when I was young, the main reason that I fell in with the wrong crowd and began using drugs and alcohol as a young teen was because I never had a dream. I never had a goal – something that was more important than anything else in my life and that I would refuse to allow myself to be distracted from reaching.

I cannot say for sure why I didn’t have a dream to work towards, I just didn’t and as a result I was like a ship tossed about on an ocean, this way and that, with no true direction. This lack of discipline and direction would proceed to cost me dearly because this was the beginning of the road that would lead me to being sent to Texas death row.

But an amazing thing happened when I got to death row. Life sat me down and got my complete attention and began to teach me the lessons I was destined to learn, which resulted in true change taking root. I went from a “bad dude” who did a few good deeds, to a “good guy” who does a few bad deeds. And in the process realized that my goal – my dream in life was to become the man my parents raised me to be.  A strong, kind human being, one who works for the good and does the right thing because it is the proper thing to do. When I realized what my dream was and how it was intertwined to my fight for freedom, I knew without a doubt that dreams are more powerful than facts.

With dreams comes hope, for they go hand and hand together. I remember when I first arrived on Texas death row a victim of an injustice. I knew the score – my involvement with drugs, association with shady characters and the fact that I ran from the authorities because I was afraid made it easy for the prosecutors to obtain a conviction and death sentence at trial.

This delinquent behaviour allowed the prosecutors to intentionally mislead the judge and jury with the lies of numerous individuals alleging they saw me with the confessed murderer in this crime. While never mentioning how these “individuals” themselves also faced criminal charges and with these lies (false testimony) ,they were saving their own tails. And how after providing the prosecution with false testimony that was needed, they were allowed to go home, scott-free.

This fact was never mentioned by anyone during my trial.

I knew I’d been wronged but was at a loss to explain how this injustice was committed. Even so, I held onto the hope that somehow, someway I would find the manner and means to prove how I was wrongfully prosecuted and convicted.

The evidentiary hearing held at the end of 2017 in my case was the beginning of this hope becoming reality. In this hearing my hope that the causal violation of policy and procedure by the authorities in my case would be exposed started to become a reality. And the only reason every instance of misconduct, false evidence and false testimony was not exposed was because our ability to present such factual evidence was limited by the court.

In this manner, my hope began its triumph over the experience of wrongful prosecution.

The fact of the matter is that Texas death row is not a nice place. There are few outstanding things to feel good about or happy for in this new age death camp. This is why it’s a daily battle to stay positive here and keep a balanced outlook on life.

One of the things that helps me the most here is laughter. When I focus on having the best time I can have with my friends on death row we alter our reality. We go from the dark grey reality that most of us will never be free again to a happy sunny world of laughter and humour. Maybe we’re remembering something funny or crazy a fellow prisoner said or did. Or maybe we are laughing at something insane the guards are being forced to do by their supervisors. Laughing and singing through the stormy experience that is life on Texas death row breaks the hold grief has upon us. The bonds these devils have on us are no match for laughter and positive energy we share amongst each other. I experience this each and every day.

In my 20 years on death row, I have seen some of my best friends pushed out of existence by this death machine we’re caught up in. Men I loved like brothers, strong human beings who in another life, another reality would do many great things if they’d not been sent to death row and had their lives taken from them in the name of [in]justice. The only thing that is stronger than their death is the love they shared with others. The love of family, friends, and the love you have for another who you’ve shared your life with while living under a death sentence. Even after they’ve been gone for years and years the love they shared with others remains. And in this manner love is always stronger than death.

These are some of the reasons why I agree with and try to live by the Storyteller’s Creed, written by Robert Fulghum. Why I am compelled to tell the story that is my life and do the best that I can with the ability that  I’ve been given. Because nothing less would ever be acceptable.


Charles D. Flores No. 999299

April, 6, 2018

Texas death row

One thought on “Who are you?”

  1. I love all of Charles Flores stories. He is a fantastic storyteller about life on Death Row in Texas. How he keeps his sanity I have no idea. All I can say is he is one heck of a man to still have his mind and sense of humor that he has. I enjoy calling him my friend.

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