SCI FICTION, April 13, 2005

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"Guys Day Out" by Ellen Klages

ImageSCI FICTION features "Guys Day Out" by Ellen Klages this week.

Tommy was born with Down’s Syndrome when they didn’t really know how to handle children with Down’s Syndrome.  His parents, Alex and Helen, bravely took on the difficult task of raising him. Alex and Tommy had their regular guys days out when they went fishing; Alex for fish, Tommy for fairies. Eventually, Tommy got a job, working at McDonald’s. That was the year Helen died. And still, Alex and Tommy had guys days out.  When Tommy couldn’t work anymore, due to Alzheimer’s, he and Alex still had the occasional guys day out. Right up to the end.

Alex cared for Tommy for 41 years. While Tommy is the subject of much of the action, the story is really about Alex’s ability to care for his son.  The events of the story have the greatest impact on him.

This story is timely, though there are considerable differences between Alex and Tommy’s story and the similar stories in today’s news. And it certainly will have the potential for controversy. A segment of readers will probably be outraged by events in the story. I’m not a member of that population. Another segment of readers will be deeply touched by the story. I’m not a member of that group, either.

It was a well written story. Ms. Klages didn’t appear to go out of her way to push for a certain emotional response from the story, a common failing of this kind of tale.  On the other hand, it wasn’t a story that really drew me in. I’m sure others will find it more engaging than I did. But I felt it was just a well written story.