Freudian Slips: Bridge Over Troubled Waters

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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.

June 16, 2005

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

They say what you don't know can't hurt you but Alfie calls into question that theory. When I reviewed Alfie's file, I quickly determined that he was going to be the smartest guy on my caseload. He functioned between mild retardation and normal intelligence. He was definitely disabled but could function in society and made every conscious effort not to associate himself with a disabled population. He lived with his fiancee Bridgett and Alfie showed a comfort zone in allowing her to assume a caretaker role over him. How I was placed in the role as conscientious objector to Alfie's life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is a fantastic tale.
Allow me to start with the seemingly innocuous event of losing my combination lock at Bally's gym. I decide to scour their Lost and Found, which is nothing more than a primitive cardboard box thrown in a rarely used walk-in storage closet. The receptionist wasn't at the front desk for me to ask permission to rummage. She was nowhere to be found or so I thought. Regular gym members often entered the closet without fear of reprisal. So I swung open the closet door and found the receptionist I was looking for. She was allowing herself to be groped underneath her uniform while she shared traces of saliva with another member. Membership apparently had its privileges. I do not know who was more surprised them or me interrupting their makeout session. They gave back each other's tongue, the man's hands finally appeared, and she wiped the smeared lipstick from her face. Nervous giggles abound. Like a chastity belt undone, I found my combination lock at the feet of their passion.
I telephone my client to go out to his home. Alfie tells me he needs his fiance home because she takes care of him. He doesn't even want to handle the phone call and gives the receiver to Bridgett. Bridgett introduces herself then explains that she schedules Alfie's appointments, reads his mail, does his banking, and genuinely looks after him. She has been working a lot so her next day off isn't for another week. We dartboard a day on the calendar and the appointment is set in stone.
A few days later, my eyes capture a curious picture in the Courier Post newspaper. A charming looking couple has won Boscov's Vacation Getaway Contest, an all expense trip to Aruba. I stared awkwardly at the photo and read the caption. After all, it was the first time I saw a picture of Alfie but the second time I eyeballed Bridgett. You guessed it! The photo comprised the receptionist from the gym and my client Alfie, who was NOT the man with octopussy hands canvassing the storage closet. What you do know can hurt you still. My coffee seemed to sour all at once. I put the newspaper down.
So I am looking forward to this home visit like a return of the chicken pox but the day comes despite my moral objection. Every dog has their day, right? I ring the doorbell and my client answers it. We shake hands. I can feel the coarseness of his hard working hands. Alfie and I scale a set of stairs to get to the upstairs apartment. He talks the whole way up. I am told that Bridgett is in the bathroom sprucing up. Alfie and I sit on a couch in an otherwise empty room. Alfie presents as friendly and upbeat, a personality trait a certain health inspector should embrace(see post called Going to the Well Once Too Often).
"Wait till you meet my Bridgett. I am going to marry that girl." Alfie complimented. He was spilling with emotion and I likened it to sap blindly running out of a Maple tree.
"Is the marriage before or after you two go to Aruba?"
"How did you know I won a trip to Aruba?"
"Oh, your social worker doesn't miss too much." I scoffed. "I saw your picture in the newspaper. Congratulations."
"Bridgett, come out here." Alfie said. "Joe is here. Bridge, Joe saw our picture in the paper. Isn't that cool? I only filled out one entree form?"
"Entry form." I corrected.
Bridgett shouted, "We are going to have such a kick ass time, aren't we Alfie?"
It seemed so ironic that she formulated this into a question while she was behind closed doors. Questioning included, Bridgett did a lot behind closed doors.
"You lucky dog." I overstated to the beat of a double entrende. Entree Alfie might have erred.
I heard footsteps and then a figure loomed. Alfie said invitingly. "Joe, this is my fiance, Brigett. Isn't she a looker?"
When Bridgett photo framed my face, she tried to hide her horror. She had entered the room with a steady gate but looked as if she hit the Manyunk wall with nausea. She longed to swallow an invisibility pill if ever there was one. She could do nothing to conceal the same color lipstick. Bridgett had unwittingly arranged a sit down meeting with the only person in the world who knew she was cheating on her fiance while a marriage and pre-paid honeymoon hung in the balance. Bridgett knew she inserted the 'getaway' in the Boscov's Vacation Getaway contest. The room teetered on its axis between winners and losers.
"Oh, we have met before." I shook Bridgett's hand nonetheless. Her hand was cold and clammy but I expected nothing less from a Bridge over troubled waters.
"Get out of town." Alfie asked. "Where do you know Bridge from?"
The ornery side of me wanted to blow a referee's whistle right about now and scream STORAGE CLOSET but I refrained. "Over at Bally's gym." I simply answered.
What a perfect segue this would be for a sadist. When Alfie turned away from the conversation, Brigett engaged in non-verbal communication by giving me the shush sign with a finger to her lips. She could have done better than to accentuate lipstick lips to perpetuate betrayal. Lipstick lips shot me an adrenaline rush of flashback. On the other hand, Bridge had little umbrella drinks, orange cream sickle sunsets, and a golden bronze tan on her mind. Life is a beach.
Do I spill the beans? Do I take away Alfie's love of his life with a five second eyewitness report? I didn't want that power to begin with nor did I know what to do with it now that I had it. I had misgivings about the whole charade. Since I wasn't really sure what to do, I issued her a pass. Bridgett thanked me when I left and we both knew she meant the Get Out Of Closet Free card. As I walked back to the car, I heard their conversation through the kitchen window screening.
I heard Alfies's booming voice. "Now that we are done with that, how about you and me go out for an ice cream cone?"
"Sounds good, Alfie." Bridgett replied as I disappeared into the night.
Social work is often a single person judgment call. Sometimes you never know whether you got it right until much later. Even with a multiple choice scenario, there sometimes are only wrong answers to choose from.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Lost said...

Best to follow mother's advice I think - If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Alfie wouldn't have thanked you for telling him.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Lost, ignorance is bliss. Awkward situation for you Joe, but Alfie needs her far more than you need to spill the beans. Another ironic situation you've gotten yourself into. ET

1:22 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Lost,
mumm, i mean, mom's the word.

ET
If I spilled the beans, there might be nobody to cook the beans.

6:39 PM  
Blogger PaxRomano said...

Yikes now this is a quandary; do you shut up or do you tell the truth, they say that doing the later might set you free, but on the other hand it might break an honest heart … damn I hate two timing people!

7:42 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Pax,
I have been a member at that gym for 20 years and never received any such perks.

8:11 PM  
Blogger justrose said...

I think you did the right thing. Loose lips sink ships. And maybe he was just demonstrating some important gym employee resuscitation technique in the closet?

7:16 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

justrose,
Then that must have been an advanced CPR course because tongues never thrusted in my 101 course. Anyway, a tongue is for brushing not paint rolling. Where have I heard that before?

8:07 AM  
Blogger Bigandmean said...

Joe,
The girl, no doubt, was just doing what you do in a gym - exercising her tonsils and giving the old tongue a workout while getting a chest massage.

1:32 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

bigandmean,
hate to see her operate in a foot locker.

4:55 PM  

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