Freudian Slips: Wanted Dead or Alive

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

January 30, 2005

Wanted Dead or Alive

“A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya,” he cried, “I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.” -Crooks in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men Snow kicked up on the undercarriage as my company car pulled curbside. I picked up Luigi wearing his dead brother’s sneakers and ragamuffin sweatpants that moths had turned into communal property. Today, I would have opportunity to do what old fashioned turn of the century social workers did before the Great Paper Chase consumed job duties - go out in the field to actually help someone. Luigi and I made a social contract. I would take Luigi clothes shopping in exchange for his complicity in maintaining an overdue consultation with a specialist. Tit for Tat. I got him a voucher for clothes and scheduled his doctor's appointment for him.
Luigi is a rare human being, who is slightly developmentally disabled. He brings about comparisons to Lennie in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Luigi has this innocence in the world that measures in sharp contrast to his survival skills. In some ways, he is better off than Lennie. When he gets into a pickle, I have had my doubts. Like Lennie and George, Luigi and I have traveled across America together without ever leaving New Jersey. If it weren’t for the hard work of many George’s, this man would not have recently celebrated his fiftieth birthday. Luigi has been either a homeless person or a squatter all of his life. After he was discovered in the early 1990's living out of a rusted shelled out oil tanker in the woods in the dead of winter, he arrived on my caseload. Luigi had bells on his feet. Luigi has instinctive survivor skills on the streets. He knows everyone like a mayor in Anytown, America. I did not know of Luigi’s brushes with the law until by happenstance we met up with a retired sheriff standing in line at a drug store. The year was 1998. The sheriff issued me a tattered testimonial of mischief and misdemeanor. As a child, Luigi was no snow angel but he grew-up surviving by panhandling. The art of panhandling has kept him out of prison. Even the crusted sheriff respected Luigi to a certain extent. When Luigi and I embark on a destination, I resurrect information from the fateful day we bumped into a sheriff. We have this cat and mouse game we play when work brings us together. I tease him then he makes fun of me. The interplay is our male bonding ritual. “Luigi, do you have an arrest warrant in Pittsgrove Township?” “No.” The car makes a left turn. “Okay, heading into Pittsgrove Township.” A few miles down the road I ask, “How about Hyserliville? Are we cool with that?” “I ain’t wanted in no Hyserlville. I ain’t never even heard of no Hyslerville.” I put my blinker on. "Passing through Hyselrville." I say kiddingly. "How about after shopping, I buy you lunch in Mantua Township? The sheriff didn’t say anything about you and Mantua Township.” “I ain’t no fugitive, Mr. Joe.” The last time Luigi and I played this silly game the song, "I Shot the Sheriff" came on the car radio. The radio did not play a soundtrack today for our interplay.
“Seen the new courthouse in Palmyra?” “Never been to Palmyra, Mr. Joe.” Luigi protested. “No trouble waiting for me there.” About ten minutes later, I rehash the conversation. “That doctor you are going to see has an office in Gloucester. Aren’t you wanted for jaywalking in Gloucester? Maybe we ought to switch doctors to a town that isn't ready to slip a pair of bracelets on you.” “Mr. Joe, you know I’m clean as a whistle.” “I didn’t know that. I was just checking.” My message had been sent and I'm confident Luigi received it. “Is it my turn yet because somebody told me somepun about ya being a comic strip?” I like many things about Luigi. The asset I like best in him is his sense of humor. I couldn’t role play with a client that I didn’t have a rapport with. Luigi was in rare form getting his digs in when we drove by a nursing home we both recognized. I saw Luigi look longingly out the window. He kind of drifted off and stopped the parting shots at me. I imagined what Luigi was thinking about. Luigi used to have a profitable business arrangement with an elderly female until age not desire necessitated her entrance into this nursing home. I wondered if Luigi still saw Francine? “Do you still visit your old girlfriend Francine?” “I don’t know how to say this Mr. Joe. Francine died. She's in the ground somewhere.” All kidding aside, I asked, “She did? When?” “About 2004. You think I got it bad with you taking me out for clothes. Funeral director called me up asking me for money to bury her.” “I’m sure the funeral director didn’t get too far shaking you down, Luigi. Anyway, what did Francine die of?” “Mr. Joe, I think they forced Francine to work as a housekeeper?” “A housekeeper! What in the world makes you say that?” “I was told she died of ammonia.”

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

good one Joe,
Di

3:53 PM  
Blogger Zelda Parker said...

This is some profession, and yet there are those who think we sit around talking on the phone and drinking coffee all day long.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Zelda, they don't even have a water cooler for chit chat at my satellite office.

8:15 PM  
Blogger Zelda Parker said...

Yes, but do you have a window?

2:27 PM  
Blogger HoneybeeMissy said...

Joe I think you and I know so good people - Mel

12:04 AM  

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