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  1. #1
    Roy Abrahams

    How 'bout a second chance, guys?

    I apologize to all who spent so much time on critiquing "A Tent To Die In." Why? Because it was the very first version, unedited and not even a rewrite. I knew I had a better version of that story and I found it just an hour ago, buried deep in an unrelated folder. Also, I found the date the story was written; July of 1999. Good grief, no wonder I thought it was the only version.

    So here is the first scene. Please see if it has more promise than the original. And thanks for your forebearance in this.......

    * * * * * * * * *

    Ray York stood at the window in a vacant private room, snapping the clasp of his folding clipboard in time with the steps of the frail man struggling up the steep sidewalk fronting the hospital. The man's hair fanned long and untamed back over a bedroll tied atop a bulging backpack. A beard cut round at the bottom reached below the pockets of his shirt, as black and wild as his hair.

    The nurse at York's side giggled. "Looks like one of those cartoon hillbillies you used to see on postcards back in the forties."

    "I suppose," York said, admiring the man's beard. He hunched his shoulders, straightening the smock he wore over his light suit. Somewhere in his late fifties, Ray York was a tall man of medium build and unobtrusively patrician in the face.

    The nurse giggled again. "They always had a corncob pipe in their mouth and a jug of moonshine." She pressed her cap against the glass, her head turned so she could see down onto the sidewalk. "You ever see 'em?"

    "Yeah, I've seen 'em." York clipped the word, mocking the nurse, knowing she didn't know it had been done.

    "I always wondered if there was really people like that."

    "There were," York said, thinking back. "There are." He kept his eyes on the struggling man, wishing the sidewalk was level.

    "Put one of those funny hats on him and he'd look like a Mennonite," the nurse said, and giggled again.

    "Probably." Ray York glanced sideways at the woman, his face dark. He turned his gaze back to the man below.

    "He needs to stop by here," the nurse said, pointing down, her finger against the glass.

    The frail man was directly under them now and York could see the grotesque bulge pushing out the black shirt above his stomach. It showed clearly even from where where he stood three floors up.

    "Something gone to something else," he said.

    "Liver," the nurse said and turned away. "He's dying." She left Ray York to stand alone.

    York stood by the window long enough to watch the man pass, thinking of his years with the Peace Corps. He turned away, his clipboard in hand, and didn't see the police cruiser closing on the man.

  2. #2

    Re: How 'bout a second chance, guys?

    I really enjoyed this story. It was crisp and lively, kept my interest, and intrigued me - I wanted to learn more about Roy and his reaction, and I definitely wanted to keep reading. You seemed to subtly show so much through this conversation about Roy, the nurse, and old man, without telling or spelling anything out.
    The only things I would suggest changing are the sentence where the nurse says, "I always wondered if there was really people like that." I guess I would not imagine a nurse slaughtering the grammar like that, and that sentence seemed awfully jarring and distracted me from the story. Also, you might slip in something showing the nurse is very young, although that may be obvious from her giggles and words. Maybe where she says, "Liver," you might add, "We learned about that in school last semester. I got the highest grade in that class." It seemed to me a little "off" that a nurse with enough experience to make that diagnosis would act so giggly, and that distracted me a bit from the story, and I think a hint about the nurse being very young but smart would solve that. Also, after Roy admiring the beard, you said "He hunched," and it took me a while to tell if you were talking about Roy or the old man. Maybe "Roy hunched..."
    Anyway, I hope you post more of this, since it is very enjoyable.
    I really like doing these critiques. I'm pretty much a beginning writer, and I have made so many changes in the book I'm writing after seeing what more experienced writers on this website do and what works for them.

  3. #3

    Re: How 'bout a second chance, guys?

    Ooops - Ray, not Roy!

  4. #4
    Donald Lowery

    Re: How 'bout a second chance, guys?

    Now you got my interest.

  5. #5
    Donald Lowery

    Re: How 'bout a second chance, guys?

    Go get um!

  6. #6
    Roy Abrahams

    Re: How 'bout a second chance, guys?

    Hi gang:

    It is 9:15pm here in Oregano and I've been working on this story since noon or thereabouts. Naturally, I'm so tired I don't think I could respond to anteann's post and make sense. Tomorrow morning? Okay. For now, anteann, accept my thanks for a great critique!

    For those who would like to read the final version - much different than the first - email me and I'll get it to you.

    Thanks again, all! Yes, I realize we have great people on wn.


  7. #7
    Roy Abrahams

    For anteann

    Good morning.......ahhhhhhhhh.....six hours sleep did wonders. So, on to your critique.

    The incorrect grammar was a mistake I made in my near catatonic condition brought on by those long hours of work. Of course it will be changed, with thanks to you.

    As for her observation, ("I always wondered if there really were people like that,") its purpose was to open the door for Ray York's subsequent introspection on the past when he spent time in Appalachia with the Peace Corps. Alluding to that past at the very beginning was intended to explain why he empathised with the homeless man. Was it too weak a signal?

    As for the nurse's age, I'd rather have her be old enough to have long ago gained the knowledge that allowed her diagnosis from that distance. I'll put in a remark that sets her age firmly in the reader's mind. Also, her giggling will be done away with and Ray York's hunching will be made noticably applying to him.

    You may be as much a beginning writer as I but you do have a good eye for details. Many thanks for pointing out the necessary changes.

    Regards, Roy

    ps......email me a request for the story in toto and I'll send it. (If I can get it out of Toto.)

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