Joined a critique group. I need feedback on the stuff I’m writing. Besides getting published, getting feedback is important to a writer. writers can’t exist in a vacuum. If all you do is write and not put it out to be read, you’re a journal keeper. The chances of any of the people that are going through your stuff after you’re dead being astute enough to send those humorous sketches about life in suburbia are slim. John Kennedy Toole was lucky. His mother sent a manuscript to Walter Perry who read it and had it published. The book, A Confederacy of Dunces won a Pulitzer. I’m reading it right now. The story about the book is next.

Back to the story. I missed Wednesday so we’ll catch up.

Ronald Fox spent a lot of time in the television lounge. He spoke to no one. He took his meds. When he was scheduled for Art Therapy he went to the workshop and tinted plastic to make sun catchers. He began talking to therapists who were curious about why he shot a man. Ronald had his reasons. No one would believe that he killed a man because of a woman who he didn’t know, who he had no contact with and didn’t know that she was the reason he’d killed.

He spent six months on the ward before Ronald decided to try to explain what he did. It began slowly. A trickle of words that the therapist hoped would become a torrent. Ronald spoke:

“I love Cissy Feares the spokesmodel for Uncle Jim’s Furniture Barn. I tell her everytime she comes on television. She’s not the only one. The news anchor on the local news is pretty, smart and I love her. Sometimes they’re in commercials. I love them all, equally.”

Ronald shut up. The therapist wanted to ask him why but the expression on Ronald’s face told him that no more information was forthcoming. Ronald was relieved. Not of any feelings he had about the shooting, but of the need to explain why. It made no sense to the therapist who noted it in his notes. When the therapist met with the other professionals that oversaw the ward he talke about Ronald. He wanted the other members of the staff to try to bring Ronald out, convince him to talk about himself. They agreed that they should work on Ronald. It would determine how to treat him. Right now they gave him 500 mil. of Thorazine three time daily. After the initial back spasms, thick tongue and general lassitude he adapted to the drug. In other words, he behaved. That’s all they wanted.

An RN on the ward began trying to make a connection with Ronald. She’d read his file and really didn’t believe the insanity verdict. He was unusual for the ward. Most of Ronald’s fellow patients were sent there after exhibiting behavior that made them a threat to society. They were dosed to keep them docile and large attendants patrolled the ward to insure their cooperation. There were members on staff who believed that a dose of electroshock served as a deterrant. It was rumored, among the patients, that the staff held a lottery to choose the next example. Ronald didn’t fit into the mold. The nurse saw Ronald as a mild-mannered type who snapped the one time and if the shooting hadn’t been so public he’d melt back into society and never be heard from again.

The nurse was an attractive woman who had spent most of her professional life working with patients in mental facilities. She believed she could make a difference. In some cases she did. She once had an affair with a psychiatrist. It ended when the doctor began to try to impose the dominance of doctors over nurses onto their relationship. Now she limited her contact with men to drinks after work and the occasional one night stand. The men she slept with didn’t view her a promiscuous, just a woman craving human contact for a night. She had the skills to make a man talk about himself. She would try them on Ronald. The therapist agreed. He had thoughts about the nurse, but was afraid of a workplace romance. The therapist would move Ronald to talk with the nurse. They would compare notes.

See you on Monday.