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Short Story "Ronny"

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Old 10-29-2008, 09:12 AM
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Default Short Story "Ronny"


Ronny

He came to our facility in May of 84, a five year old package of trouble. His mane was Ronny and he was non-communicative; Iím not sure if he could speak, but he never did at least in my presence. He was self abusive, predatory, extremely anti-social, a real prize package, of problems and on top of that, we were told he was autistic.

We got Ronny, because the three facilities he had attended previous to ours, couldnít handle him. We were sort of his last hope, although Iím sure Ronny didnít know, or care.

The brains of our association were already making noises like, perhaps Ronny should be in a mental hospital were he could be protected from himself a little better.

Ronny just pushed a chair over to a wall and rocked. He would go forword until I thought he was going to hit the floor, head first. Then he rocked back until his head hit the wall, that was pretty much his day. He rocked like that for hours, but if he sensed you werenít paying him attention he would bite himself. If those working with him were not very careful he would bite them, sometimes hard enough to draw blood.

About three weeks after Ronny graced us with his presence, I was working alone. Ray Clifford, my regular, working pro, had called me in because he had a family issue that had to be addressed. He said it would only be for a couple of hours and so I agreed even though I had worked all day at my regular job.

Shortly after I came on duty a young female staffer from another part of the facility came into the room. She was very attractive, but I was amazed, because Ronny had stopped rocking and was studying her intently. I thought for a moment he was actually attracted to this young lady and who could have blamed him she was quite a looker. The C D she wore was on speaker, so everyone could hear it. When she turned it off, so as to speak to me, Ronny went back to his rocking. After she left, I got the record player from the other room and played it for Ronny. The result was amazing to say the least. The rocking stopped, the self abusive behavior stopped and as far as I know, so did the predatorily behavior. He didnít turn into a social butterfly or anything like that, but he did have an interest in life that he really seemed to enjoy.

When Ray finally arrived I told him what I had discovered, about Ronny and his love of music.

Ray had always claimed he could play the piano, but whenever pressured, had declined, saying the piano we had available was not suppose to be played.

Iím probably tone-deaf, but even so, it was evident the Ray could play the piano. I didnít recognize the tune he played and seldom found music that entertaining, from a purely personal point of view. Ronny on the other hand was excited, his eyes sparkled and his hands fairly danced though the air.

I offered him my hand and we walked hand-in-hand to the piano. We waited patiently for Ray to finish and when he did I clapped. Ronny was already sitting on the bench, gently nudging Ray off the other side. Poised above the key like a predatory bird the index finger of each hand systematically tapped each and every key. The result of this test told us that there were two white and one black keys that werenít working.

Ronny played the same tune that Ray had just finished. He played it every bit as well as Ray, in fact better because he substituted keys that were similar for any of the three that didnít work.

Ray and I talked about Ronny, and how we could help him develop his musical skills, but we might as well have saved our effort. Neither of us ever worked with Ronny again. He was moved into a musical program, headed by two highly respected music teachers and they were supported by a person specializing in communication with the autistic.

We did hear reports of the amazing things Ronny was accomplishing in the field of music, but it was different then being involved.

About ten weeks after Ronny left our program, Staff and volunteers were invited to a piano recital, given by Ronny Cattman. When I entered the auditorium I was amazed by the grand piano which was on stage. It wasnít a grand piano, but it was a piano that was grand, in comparison to the one Ray and I had introduced Ronny to, such a short time ago.

Gordon Budd one of Ronnyís music teachers, told us ďRonny is gong to play four very difficult piano pieces, then I will introduce the fifth as the grand finally.Ē

Ronny walked onto stage dressed in a tuxedo, he seemed to be impervious to the audience. He played the pieces with a certain style that even I could appreciate and the sound was flawless.

When he finished his fourth piece, Gordon Budd announced that for his final effort Ronny had selected a very technical piece which was written to be preformed as a duet, but which Ronny would try to emulate, solo.

I knew from the roar of applause that accompanied Ronny off stage, that he had indeed accomplished something, quite remarkable. Ronny paused just before disappearing off stage and gave the audience a bow, the demonstration was much more remarkable than I could have imagined.

I would like to tell you Ronny went on to enjoy a long and rewarding life in music, but that is not the case. At age thirteen, Ronny suffered a ruptured, appendix, perhaps he couldnít tell anyone of his pain, perhaps he didnít want to.

Ronny died at the age of thirteen, of a ruptured appendix. Iím not much of a religious man, but I like to think that there is someone somewhere who perhaps needed Ronnyís special talents. Perhaps he helps with the music in the place he gone to now, because God knows he had the talent.

Talk to you soon ---ablelaz.

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Old 10-29-2008, 10:22 AM
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Wow. What a moving story. My 2nd cousin was an "autistic savant" and she could play nearly any guitar song, after only hearing it a couple of times. She, too, died at a young age. Her older brother, as kind of like a show-and-tell type thing for his friends, had her try and replicate the guitar solo from Bark at the Moon by Ozzy Osbourne and she played so ravenously that her index finger bled (obviously NOT what she had died from, but just pointing out how Ronny, in your story, died from his appendix bursting - not telling anyone, or maybe not noticing the pain).

The only critique that I really have on the story is how insensitive the beginning of it is. When I first started reading it, I almost felt as though this was going to be a supernatural tale, and that Ronny was going to end up being some kind of evil antichrist or something like that. I think that the story would really be touching if the beginning was more sympathetic. The narrator needs to less sarcastic is terms of saying things like "a real prize package".

Also, the term "predatory" makes the child seem dangerous towards others - but without examples of that, the word is kind of moot. I would either put in an example of the predatory behavior, or just omit it.

But all in all it was a very nice subject to touch upon in a story. Hits close to home here, that's for sure!
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Old 10-29-2008, 10:43 AM
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Hi Ablelaz
This story is written as though from personal experience. I don't know whether or not you do have first hand knowledge but it sure reads that way. If not, kudos to you for getting that feeling across to the reader. I haven't addressed grammar or spelling but would like to give you my opinion as a reader. The story starts off strong enough to get the reader's attention and keeps it until " The C D she wore was on speaker, so everyone could hear it. When she turned it off, so as to speak to me, Ronny went back to his rocking. After she left, I got the record player from the other room and played it for Ronny." which is a little confusing and slows the reader down to re-read it.
I don't know if you have a word limit but maybe add to Ronny's presence on stage--how his fingers flowed across the keys, or struck the keys with confidence, or something like that. This area could be expanded a little more to include visual clues of how Ronny was coping or possibly reacting.
These two lines say essentially the same thing: At age thirteen, Ronny suffered a ruptured, appendix, perhaps he couldnít tell anyone of his pain, perhaps he didnít want to. Ronny died at the age of thirteen, of a ruptured appendix.

The story line is interesting and the story starts off strong but weakens as it progresses. Hope this helps.
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:34 PM
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This will be a little hurried, but I'll get all the spelling and grammar, you can be sure of that. I might focus a little less on the storyline for the sake of time, though, but there are other people about (like the two who just posted!) who can help you with that sort of thing!

Originally Posted by ablelaz View Post
Ronny

He came to our facility in May of 84('84, or eighty-four), a five year old package of trouble. His mane was Ronny and he was non-communicative;(A period would feel much better here) Iím not sure if he could speak, but he never did(In order to set this off, to convey the author's uncertainty, you need emdashes. So it should look like..."but he never did--at least in my presence.") at least in my presence. He was self abusive, predatory, extremely anti-social,(Emdashs can also be used to sum up a list, giving the result of all the aforementioned, and that's what you need here. "...antisocial--a real prize package") a real prize package, of problems(First of all, this shouldn't have a comma before it, and secondly, we can gather that the prize package is about problems, given that list up there) and (A new sentence is needed here. There's nothing wrong with having short sentences, as long as you get the information across. You run them together too often)on top of that, we were told he was autistic.

We got Ronny,(No comma. See notes at the end.) because the three facilities he had attended previous to ours,(Delete comma. You have alot of places where I'll need to say this, so note that hereafter I'll be using the easier to type "@" symbol instead of saying "Delete Comma". When you see one of those behind a comma, delete it!) couldnít handle him. We were sort of his last hope, although Iím sure Ronny didnít know,(@) or care.

The brains of our association were already making noises like, perhaps Ronny should be in a mental hospital were he could be protected from himself a little better.(Everything from perhaps to better should be in quotes, and perhaps should be capitalized)

Ronny just pushed a chair over to a wall and rocked. He would go forword(forward) until I thought he was going to hit the floor,(@) head first(head-first). Then he rocked back until his head hit the wall, (and)that was pretty much his day. He rocked like that for hours,(You have a tense disagreement here. You begin using "would" later on in the paragraph, but before then it sounds like these things are happening at this very moment. You need to add "would" everywhere it's needed in the red, or take it out of the unhighlighted part of the paragraph) but if he sensed you werenít paying him attention(attention to him) he would bite himself. If those working with him were not very careful he would bite them(as well or too), sometimes hard enough to draw blood.

About three weeks after Ronny graced us with his presence(Sounds like he made a one-day visit. How about "begun gracing us with his presence"?), I was working alone. Ray Clifford, my regular,(@) working pro, had called me in because he had a family issue that had(You used "had" a little earlier. How about "needed" here?) to be addressed. He said it would only be for a couple of hours and(Delete and, then add a comma. Yes, that's right, add a comma. One-time thing, don't expect me to do this every time ) so I agreed even though I had worked all day at my regular job.

Shortly after I came on duty a young female staffer from another part of the facility came into the room. She was very attractive, but I was amazed(You don't give us anything to compare, and "but" is a comparitive sort of word. It usually denotes the intent to do something, then shows that intents failure by placing the speaker somewhere else, etc. So she was attractive, but she had buckteeth. That would be an appropriate use. Perhaps you should replace the red stuff with something like "but I didn't linger on her looks"), because Ronny had stopped rocking and was studying her intently. I thought for a moment he was actually attracted to this young lady and who could have blamed him(Questions need question marks. Put one in) she was quite a looker. The C D(CD...player?) she wore was on speaker, so everyone could hear it. When she turned it off, so as to speak to me, Ronny went back to his rocking. After she left, I got the record player from the other room and played it for Ronny. The result was amazing to say the least. The rocking stopped, the self abusive behavior stopped and as far as I know, so did the predatorily(predatory) behavior. He didnít turn into a social butterfly or anything like that, but he did have an interest in life that he really seemed to enjoy.

When Ray finally arrived I told him what I had discovered, about Ronny and his love of music.

Ray had always claimed he could play the piano, but whenever pressured, had declined, saying the piano we had available was not suppose to be played.

Iím probably tone-deaf, but even so, it was evident the Ray could play the piano. I didnít recognize the tune he played and(New sentence. I...) seldom found music that entertaining, from a purely personal point of view. Ronny on the other hand was excited,(Comma splice. Both of these are ICs, meaning they can stand alone. Make them into two separate sentences) his eyes sparkled and his hands fairly danced though the air.

I offered him my hand and we walked hand-in-hand to the piano. We waited patiently for Ray to finish and when he did I clapped. Ronny was already sitting on the bench, gently nudging Ray off the other side. Poised above the key(keys) like a predatory bird the index finger of each hand systematically tapped each and every key(You already used this word. How about "note"?). The result of this test told us(was) that there were two white and one black keys that werenít working.

Ronny played the same tune that Ray had just finished. He played it every bit as well as Ray,(New sentence. This is another comma splice.) in fact better(Better, in fact) because he substituted keys that were similar for any of the three that didnít work.(Hmm...from a musical standpoint, that seems like it would not only be hard to do on the fly, but sound odd. However, I do see how it could be done.)

Ray and I talked about Ronny, and how we could help him develop his musical skills, but we might as well have saved our effort. Neither of us ever worked with Ronny again. He was moved into a musical program,(Emdashes. --. These set the unnecessary information off from the sentence) headed by two highly respected music teachers and they (comma, who)were supported by a person specializing in communication with the autistic.

We did hear reports of the amazing things Ronny was accomplishing in the field of music, but it was different then being involved.

About ten weeks after Ronny left our program, Staff(staff) and volunteers were invited to a piano recital, given by Ronny Cattman. When I entered the auditorium I was amazed by the grand piano which was on stage. It wasnít a grand piano(Then you probably shouldn't say it is in the last sentence. It gives us the image of a grand.), but it was a piano that was grand, in comparison to the one Ray and I had introduced Ronny to, such a short time ago.

Gordon Budd one of Ronnyís music teachers, told us ďRonny is gong(Gong? I thought he played the piano? Sorry, easy joke . going.) to play four very difficult(Just introducing them as "very difficult" piano pieces seems both underexplanatory and arrogant. Perhaps four real piano pieces that are recognized as difficult? The Moonlight Sonata for keys, Griegs Eroica, etc. Shouldn't be too hard to find) piano pieces, then I will introduce the fifth as the grand finally(Finale)

Ronny walked onto stage dressed in a tuxedo,(Comma splice again. Two sentences) he seemed to be impervious to the audience. He played the pieces with a certain style that even I could appreciate and the sound was flawless.

When he finished his fourth piece, Gordon Budd announced that for his final effort Ronny had selected a very technical piece which was written to be preformed(performed) as a duet, but which Ronny would try to emulate,(@) solo.

I knew from the roar of applause that accompanied Ronny off (the) stage, that he had indeed accomplished something,(@) quite remarkable. Ronny paused just before disappearing off stage and gave the audience a bow,(period. You got another comma splice going here.) the demonstration was(had been is past tense) much more remarkable than I could have imagined.

I would like to tell you Ronny went on to enjoy a long and rewarding life in music, but that is not the case. At age thirteen(He's this young? All this time I've been assuming he was a good bit older. You should probably specify his age earlier in the story), Ronny suffered a ruptured,(@) appendix,(Two sentences to fix this comma splice) perhaps he couldnít tell anyone of his pain, perhaps he didnít want to.

Ronny died at the age of thirteen, of a ruptured appendix.(You just told us this. Take it out.) Iím not much of a religious man, but I like to think that there is someone somewhere who perhaps needed Ronnyís special talents. Perhaps he helps with the music in the place he gone to now, because God knows he had the talent.

Talk to you soon ---ablelaz.
About your commas...

First I'll explain clauses. There are two basic kinds of clauses: The independent, or IC, and the dependent, or DC. An independent clause is just a sentence that can stand completely on its own, like this.

The angry iguana threw expletives at the ignorant emu.

That was an independent clause. Now, I'll give you a sentence containing two clauses, one dependent and one independent, separated by a comma. A dependent clause cannot stand alone. It has to be explained or supported by another part of the sentence.

Thawing suddenly, the ice queen smiled.

Thawing suddenly lacks a subject and another verb to complete the sentence. That makes it a dependent clause, because it cannot stand alone. The second one, though, stands alone just fine. "The ice queen smiled." See? Complete sentence. And those are clauses.

The general rule for commas, then, is that you shouldn't use them unless the clause on one side of the comma can stand alone, usually the second part, which will generally be the independent clause, as was the case in my sentence. NEVER JOIN TWO ICs! That's a comma splice, and a very bad thing. You do that in some places, so...stop! Writers, being the artistic types we are, break this rule all the time, but always with a certain measure of panache, or at least using a time-honored exception. Anyway, the root of your problem involves putting commas between two dependent clauses. Here's one of your sentences:

We got Ronny, because the three facilities he had attended previous to ours, couldnít handle him.

Look at that first comma. Can either of those clauses stand alone? Nope. That's a sure sign that something's wrong. Take it out. How about the second comma? Even with the first comma out, both sides still need more explanation before one can be considered independent. Strike it.

Those are ground rules. For further reference, I suggest William Strunk's Rules of Usage--On Commas. If you watch your usage, and read back what you've written, trying to detect improper pauses with your native ear, you should do well.


So, there's my critique! I hope it was helpful, and understandable. I'm looking back over what I've written, and I'm afraid I was a little enigmatic in places. Sorry about that, but with any luck you're exceptionally bright and can glean some meaning from some of my more rambling comments

Happy trails!

Winterbite
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:52 PM
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Very well explained. Thank you
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Old 10-30-2008, 03:32 PM
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Default Ronny

Hi gang ---Thanks for the great in-depth critiques. I will take a few days to digest them and then perhaps we will see what the revised version looks like.

That there was so much focus on punctuation, was not a surprise, it is and always has been my weakness. When I went though the education system, everyone just thought I wasn’t the sharpest tack in the box. My spelling was atrocious, but I didn’t learn till twenty odd years later that I was, am and always will be dyslexic.


Perhaps I didn’t think, because of my spelling handy cap, there was any future in literature for me so I tuned out. Who knows—anyway, with the computer came spell check and other programs that let me participate, at least on a reasonable level. Thanks again.

Talk to you soon---ablelaz.

Last edited by ablelaz; 10-30-2008 at 03:34 PM.. Reason: lay out
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Old 10-30-2008, 05:24 PM
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You have very good spelling and grammar for a dyslexic person! My little brother is slightly-lower-end-medium dyslexic and he's alot worse than this. You have a problem with commas, but other than that, you really have a fairly good style. There's always room for improvement, but cheer up--you're not as bad as all that

And you're quite welcome! If Lady Fortune was in a graceful mood, my critique helped you out!

And I'm glad you gleaned something from my critique too, Percheron, and thanks for hitting the Thanks button. It's always fun to see those points traveling upwards. Helping people is sort of a cool rush
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