Freudian Slips: July 2006

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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.

July 30, 2006

The Sound of Music

To some the sound of music is no sound.
The newsprint literally jumped out at me. A non-profit school serving children with multiple disabilities placed an uncommon advertisement in a local newspaper. The school sought the donation of tennis balls to soundproof the bottoms of chair and table legs. Certain populations within developmental disabilities are hypersensitive to noise. Noise is a distraction and an interruption of equilibrium. I never knew this until after I started to work with a special needs population. I never knew the extent of this until after I read this advertisement in the newspaper and took it to work.
I decided to now focus on the hearing world of my clients. If one can excuse the oxymoron of my applied compassion, I found that unexpected sounds like fire alarms, vacuum cleaners, trains, a baby crying, cell phone ring tunes, and the voice of strangers are irritating to a special needs population.
At a recent meeting for one of my clients, I accidentally scooted back my chair across the dusty tile. It made a grating noise. I looked to my client, whose limbs flailed in distress. Before the sun went down, I emptied my duffle bag of used tennis balls and donated them. So by proclamation set forth in Freudian Slips, let it be hereby known throughout this great land that balls without bounce have use for those who the bounce would bother.
Sometimes issues need to make headlines before one takes affirmative action in their own backyard.


July 27, 2006

A Stitch In Time

Our household has practically everything in place and a place for practically everything. While the children are generally accepting of my Felix Unger extremist ways, they have questioned the efficacy of certain chores. Picking up sticks in our woods, vacuuming the wall to wall carpet in the garage, or alphabetizing the spice rack jars are a few of the intolerable cruelties they have endured. Lists, plastic sheet protectors, tags, and labels ultra organize our house where organization trumps sanitation but sanitation runs a close second. I readily admit that it is not easy living with me. My prayers for those who try.
Inside a windowless steamy walk-in closet, my son Jimmy and I recently tackled a repair job. Although Jimmy clearly wanted to leave well enough alone, I needed a helper to reorganize closet organizer shelving. After convincing Jimmy that lopping three more inches off a top shelf would make a positive difference in the world, Jimmy begrudgingly returned to sawing. After a few minutes, something unusual caught Jimmy’s eye. He suddenly stopped the swing of the hacksaw to gain a better look. Then he gave me a bewildered look as if he could not believe what his own eyes were seeing.
Clueless to the work stoppage, I asked, “What’s the matter?”
He pointed down to an adhesive sticker that mysteriously hitchhiked onto my sock. Dumbfounded, Jimmy did not yet have words for what he was about to say. I read the typewritten words DARE GRADUATION off of the adhesive label adhered to my sock. While I had no answer for how a sticker seperated from a leaflet of a school function got there, Jimmy arrived at his own explanation.
Jimmy said dubiously, “This is even hard to believe for you. Don’t tell me you label your socks based on where they have been.”


July 23, 2006

Where There's a Willi, There's a Way

Prader-Willi Syndrome - A condition marked by an inborn lack of muscle tone, a ravenous appetite, obesity, and mental retardation.
A guiding philosophy of social worker is for people to live in the least restrictive environment. Circumstances dictated moving Paget Leadermilken into a specialized institution for individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome. The two dozen clients housed under this one roof looked so much alike that nobody would miss a mirror. Rotund and short statured, Paget christened his new home like he built the place brick by brick.
“I’m here. I have arrived.” announced Paget. “Now I would like to speak to the dietician about getting stuffed shells on the menu.”
Prader-Willi is a fascinating but debilitating condition. In Paget’s company, it is easy to feel like a spectator following the pagentry of a spectacle. Paget, not unlike any other Prader-Willi, is driven by food. He often argued over crumbs. He stole and hoarded food while defending that he received less rations than his peers. The absorption of food consumes him like the beast in obesity. Without playing the sympathy card with a sweet violin, Prader-Willi’s cannot help themselves. Paget couldn’t help himself.
I returned to the institution to visit Paget a month after his move. Eager to show off his twenty-one pound weight loss and acclimation to his new home, Paget strutted towards me like a proud peacock on Broadway.
“Joe, I walked to work today.” beamed Paget. “I may have lost another ounce of weight.”
His statement struck me funny but his glee convinced me that he adopted the regimented program. Any misgivings that I carried about the appropriateness of Paget’s placement were quickly erased. Following a meeting that included the presentation of his treatment plan and a chart review, the time came to say farewell forever.
Paget bid goodbye to me with a resounding bear hug. His outpouring of emotion made me forget about his passive aggressive nature. I felt his macrocephalic head corkscrew in the middle of my chest. Still confined by his embrace, I looked down to see his head tilt upwards to face mine. Our heads were now positioned one below the other. He smiled.
“Thanks for my new home, Joe. You are the best case manager I ever had.” Paget broke from the hug to pat my concave stomach. Paget dropped the plastic smile and toggled from passive to aggressive. “Now somebody has to send you to the fat farm!”
Paget just couldn’t help himself and Prader-Willi had nothing to do with it. His biting insult ate at me the whole ride home.


July 20, 2006

One Minute to Midnight

The present will not long endure. - Pindar, Greek poet
Theoretical physicist Stephen W. Hawking recently went public to post the following question on Yahoo:
In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?
I studied the question for a whole week. The words began to sound more like a rhetorical statement warning damnation than a pointed question needing dire solution. If arguably the smartest man on the planet is posing the most important question left in civilization, human beings must indeed be teetering on the brink of self-destruction. If utter genius does not have answers to save the species from extinction, does he think Yahoo members can pop off instant messages to save the world? Could the real intent of Hawking's question be to unify the troubled world?
I have been sharing Hawking's pessimism for years. Mankind’s continued consumption and complication of this world only reinforces my position of retreat as a fatalist. Despite the unfathomable good inside us, I too believe that human beings have long been ignoring their spirit and erring on a wayward course towards annihilation. As we reach the tipping point, inhospitable reminders beg our attention. Tsunamis. Category 4 hurricanes. A depleted ozone layer. Global warming. World hunger. Animal species becoming extinct. Overpopulation. Deforestation. The splintering of countries and religions. Nuclear armament. Terrorism on a global scale. The cycle of war.
I personally do not believe there is enough international consensus to seize the moment and right our course. Hawking outlines a hundred year timeline but that is like one minute to midnight on the earth’s clock. It may take a world event by a higher power to ignite an awakening in mankind to save the planet he cruelly inhabits. A big bang to force us from a black hole! Which brings me to my return email to one Stephen Hawking.
Extraterrestrial intervention may be the only way, Stephen
. -Joe Tornatore


July 18, 2006

Flies Beware!

"You should see me catch a frisbee."

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July 16, 2006

Arrested Development

The director’s email called it a feature background acting role with the camera following my lead for a short scene. It would be used as a flashback filler without dialogue or sound. Given a chance to act for a bit role as a police detective made me dreamy eyed. It is deadpan irony that my best chance to be seen in focus on film may happen during an Eclipse.
The movie Eclipse is a psychological thriller about a religious leader named Eldar and his influence over fellow cult followers. A dilapidated residence in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania provided the major backdrop for the movie. I filmed on the very last day of the two-week shoot when the entire crew mercifully looked for closure.
Since I arrived to the set an hour before cast call, I decided to grab a cup of morning coffee before reporting to work. Wearing a navy blue Lanzetti suit adorned by ice blue aviator sunglasses, I walked into a Dunkin Donuts and ordered partners coffee and donut. The whimsical irony occurred to me before the first donut bite down slithered down my esophagus. In playing a law enforcement official, I was getting into character by stuffing my face inside a donut shop. Dollars to donuts, acts like this dominate the scene in the blog Freudian Slips.
The time came to actually leave the donut shop and act my part. Scene 2C of the script called for a detective escorting a handcuffed criminal into Lower Merion police station for booking. Why then did the rally point of the parking lot look nothing like a police station? That chaperone type scene got scrapped for the detective arresting the perpetrator on the streets. While acting is subject to constant improvisation, a sudden change in plans is chaos to an obsessive compulsive like me. About the time I convinced myself that I can roll with the punches, a gargantuan 6’5” actor showed up to play the criminal element! The re-worked part called for stinking violence not a shrinking violet. At 5’10” 225 solid pounds, I had to throw my weight around to make a believable scene. I own a pedestrian 28” reach but I needed to act as the long arm of the law.
So what was left of the chewed up script allotted for an hour and a half of takes for this scene. All I had to do was throw the gargantuan on the hood of the cruiser, handcuff him, frisk him, then muscle him inside the car before driving away. Tight angles and rehearsing can work wonders but we needed multiple takes to get the scene right. Before I got used to Frank’s angular body frame that was fresh off the set of Rocky 6, I slipped in my Miami Vice alligator shoes during action. Take two. The extra spot lighting that the crew duct taped inside the cruiser fell down during another take. Take three. No fault of my own, the novelty handcuffs broke on the next take. Take four. Fault of my own, I forgot to cuff the perpetrator on another take. Take five. I sped away too fast in the cruiser on another take. Take six. Call it arrested development but the scene finally came together for three successful takes. Forget about reading Miranda rights. That is what they call a Hollywood wrap.
They say strange things occur during an Eclipse. Like a rash of bad luck, I came home from the shoot with poison ivy. I’m scratching like crazy but it hasn’t satisfied my itch for acting.


July 13, 2006

Rejection is a Four Letter Word

Wilburt Thadeus Mcfadden’s mild mental retardation and anger management issues are painfully consistent with his learning disabilities. He can pronounce a word like ‘fibromaliagia’ in his slow drawl but haphazardly misplaces his car keys several times a day. He has insight in some matters but poor practical judgment in most others. He drives a car yet a detour can make him two hours late for work. He can bag groceries with the best of them but forgets to take his accrued vacation. He is smart enough to be his own guardian yet has too much pride to go to a hospital emergency room to ask for help.
Help is where this story takes us. Wilburt works part time at a supermarket that keeps him below the threshold of hours to earn health benefits. I transported Wilburt to the County Board of Social Services to see if there was a Medicaid Only program he could enroll under for health benefits. Wilburt sought only the medical insurance every American longs for. When Wilburt’s name was called, so began the protocol of shouting confidential information to a case worker through a glass barrier window. A security guard sat neighborly nearby sucking down a cup of coffee. After identifying data was provided, Wilburt produced a manila envelope full of rejection papers from Social Security Administration. The documentation pointed to man who did not have enough functional disabilities to qualify for Medicaid coverage. The case worker scanned a menu of programs from a fact sheet. After brief discussion, Wilburt was declared ineligible for every program. A NJ Workability program seemed to initially fit but application could not be made within the same year of the rejection date on the disability letter. I insisted they page a supervisor. A supervisor came out of the woodwork to rifle through Wilburt’s paperwork. She read several paragraphs then apologized for wasting our time.
“So I can understand the situation better.” I questioned. “If Wilburt was unemployed and sleeping in until noon everyday, he could get assistance?”
“Yes...” the supervisor agreed, “but don’t be encouraging him to quit his job for health benefits. He needs to be terminated.”
“Maam, I was just pointing out the inequities in the system. Social Security Administration is penalizing him for not being as handicapped as his peers. The County Board of Social Services is disqualifying him because he is a working productive member of society. He needs health coverage.”
I looked over at the security guard to see if he objected to my civil protest. He paid no mind to anything but his coffee.
The case worker apologized, “I’m sorry but there is no way we can help him.”
We went to leave. Wilburt stood on the legs that pained him, in the diaper that clothed him, trying for the life of him to get those disability rejection papers back in the manila envelope. A cruel irony surfaced watching his perceptual impairment manifest itself to tussle with nothing other than his rejection papers. Like a man in motion proving the disability denied to him, Wilburt couldn’t slide the bulk of papers back into the manila envelope. Instead, he grew frustrated and embarrassed mishandling the papers in the mobbed office. It struck my heart in a way that I had to turn away. I wanted his caseworker to see his predicament but she never looked up from her work.
Then came Wilburt’s admission about the paper chase. “I have trouble with these sorts of thing, Joe. You have no idea.”
“I know you do.” I reached over and opened the sleeve of the envelope to create a wider berth. “It’s the people who decide on these matters that have no idea.”
We walked out into a cold rain.


July 11, 2006


Even on the road to nowhere, life is confusing.


July 09, 2006

Flexing My Muscle

I have been working out in the gym about two hours a day for a cameo in an upcoming movie shoot. Let me just say that middle age is hard to reverse with only four weeks notice that you got the part.
In a seemingly unrelated matter, I took my eleven-year-old son to a sporting goods store the other day to buy camping supplies for Boy Scouts. Just inside the store, my attention got diverted. In front of the clothing apparel department, the rippling muscles of a life-size mannequin almost burst out of a body wrap tee shirt. I stopped my son at the base of the mannequin for idol conversation.
“Jim, I want you to be honest and don’t worry about hurting my feelings.” Wearing an identical cling shirt as the mannequin, I puffed out my chest like the NBC peacock then asked, “Can you tell any difference between my physique and the mannequin?”
He stared up at the mannequin then turned to me for only a glance. “What are you kidding?” he blurted out with sarcasm. “Big difference!”
As we walked on, I took my lumps in stride. After picking out a mosquito tent, I lost sight of Jim. A few minutes later, I saw him walking in the front of the store. He had his back to me as he looked for me down the checkout aisles. I started to walk towards him when I noticed that my trek repositioned me in front of that muscular mannequin. Jim had only one more checkout lane to inspect before he would have to turn around and look for me elsewhere. I decided to test out not only my physique but my acting ability. I flexed my muscles and struck a stone-faced Adonis pose next to the mannequin. In a Herculean effort to blend in with my background, I sucked in my gut and did not move a muscle.
Not to be fooled, however, Jimmy walked right up to me.
“Really now.” remarked Jimmy dead-pan. “Joe, what do you think you’re doing?”
Jim is no dummy and neither am I.


July 06, 2006

Jews for Jesus

-At the ball park are Joe Tornatore with Danny Ozark, the former manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Whenever I explain the bizarre weekend in May 1997, I can still hear my laughter bellowing out from the failed business venture like light in the heart of darkness.
Now dissolved, I used to operate a side business called The Plaque Doctor. I hawked the autographs of professional athletes then assembled and fashioned the signed photos onto wood veneer plaques. What started out for me as a merchandise vender at a weekend long charity event in 1997 ended with the suspect promoter being indicted on fraud.
The itinerary for the weekend events advertised a celebrity golf tournament, a gala sports banquet, a sports card show with autograph sessions, and a softball game against former major league baseball players,. The promoter promised me that I would be the only vendor for the first two days so I ordered $1000.00 in licensed photographs for quick resale. Since I ended up practically the only person in attendance for the entire weekend, it was not difficult hollowing out elbow room as the only vender. Each event had the aura of a ghost town due to the lack of organization, promotion and advertising. The lack of a public presence was embarrassing for the famous ball players, who were expecting crowds of adoring fans.
As early as the first event, I knew I was operating at a financial loss. The rest of the weekend’s events were personally gratifying but equally disappointing from a business perspective. Slots for the celebrity golf tournament and the sports banquet went largely unsold. Each event had empty seats and no press coverage. Even the sports card show wound up cancelled due to a lack of interest and growing angst with the promoter.
The softball game had the most potential. It featured individuals playing against major league baseball alumni for a donation. My friend Joe and I headed out early to the park ahead of game time to set up folding tables for merchandise sale. I double swallowed when I saw no roadside signs directing the public or banners inside the park. There were no visible donors chomping at the bit to take the field. Except for a few little league kids, the park rang deserted. Refusing to believe there was no opposing team organized to play the former major leaguers, I took a beguiling stroll around the park. When I spotted a gathering of people across the baseball diamonds, I started to feel relieved. After I heard someone using a public address system, I figured this could only be the right location for the event. I walked directly towards the group. My eyes opened wide with dollar signs because it was the first crowd I had seen all weekend.
A well-wisher greeted. “Good morning sir.”
“Hello.” I asked innocently. “Are you all here for the charity softball game?”
They looked at one another rather confusingly. “No, we are missionaries and this is the staging area for the Jews for Jesus rally.”
Their purpose in the park came from left field. “What? Jews for Jesus?” I mouthed incredulously. “I have never heard of such a faith.”
“We are Jews who serve Jesus Christ.”
I almost invected the same name back. “You’re kidding me, right?”
“We wouldn’t joke about Jesus.”
“Good luck with that. I guess you haven’t seen any hungry baseball players with leather mitts strolling through the park?”
Another parishioner replied, “Just Jews for Jesus and…you!”
With those three words ‘Jews for Jesus’ paired together, I knew I had heard of everything. Former major league baseball players were due to arrive for a pick-up game and the only park goers were rooting for Jesus Christ. Walking alone again in the woods, I wondered if we were all misguided. My commerce consisting of hero worship could be misunderstood as idolatry and they were Jews worshipping Jesus. I began to laugh aloud at my fiscal nightmare and the absurdity of the moment.
I still had yet to regain my gentile composure when I caught back up with my friend Joe. I told him there was no organized baseball team staging a rally today but there certainly were plenty of Jews religiously rallying for Jesus in the park. We packed up the belongings and retreated from the park straight back to the hotel that lodged the ballplayers. I looked all around the hotel for the promoter but the soon-to-be indicted man of unfulfilled promises was nowhere to be found. As luck would have it, I eyeballed former Philadelphia Phillies manager Danny Ozark eating flapjacks and eggs at the counter of the hotel restaurant. A first baseman’s mitt begging for a ball rested on the swivel stool next to him. Danny looked dapper in his pinstriped Philadelphia Phillies uniform that all but shouted, “Play Ball!” Frown on my face, I reported my findings about the deserted park. Dapper Danny took the news hard like I just cancelled Christmas, a metaphor that I imagined would confuse even Jews for Jesus around the holiday.
“What? What no team? No kids?” uttered Danny Ozark with the lowering of his fork full of pancakes. There was no batter up, just batter down pancakes tied to his fork.
“No kids, no players, no fans, no nothing.” I elucidated. “Only religious zealots staging a rally, Skipper.”
“What kind of a rally?” he uttered.
“Jews for Jesus.” I answered.
Growing up, I never imagined initiating such an unusual conversation with someone as famous as Danny Ozark over flapjacks. Life kind of always grabs me this way. I tip my cap to the sportsmanship of the major leaguers, who showed up at the baseball field anyway. They invited little league players and a few of their parents to field a Washington Generals team to play against. A great time was had by all except me. I could have made more money opening up a lemonade stand in the park then trying to sell photographs to children who did not even earn an allowance.
Driving home from the softball game, my friend Joe and I laughed so hard about the Jews for Jesus subplot that it was difficult to keep the car on the road. We learned that we were not the only ones to have trouble keeping the car on the road. After returning home, Channel Six Action News summed up the day with its lead story. Allow me to paraphrase the testimony from a dispatched reporter:
“We are live from the on span of the Walt Whitman Bridge, the scene of a terrible truck accident which has closed down the bridge. A truck driver apparently ignored the height clearance sign and drove his tractor trailor right into the underpass. The multi-car accident was a nightmare for commuters. We are here with motorists involved in the crash.”
The camera turned to focus on a frightened family still huddled together. Someone spoke candidly into the microphone. “We were driving and all of a sudden the top of a tractor trailor had its roof sheared off. We crashed but escaped without a scratch. Praise Jesus. We just got back from a Jews for Jesus concert. Yes, praise Jesus!”
God as my witness, irony just does not get any better than this. Even while amassing debt, it was priceless salvation.


July 02, 2006

The Brothers Fim

The Brothers Fim both landed under the umbrella of my agency’s services but there was not an umbrella big enough in the world to cover their many challenges. Bartholomew and Darby Fim are the kind of bad storm that requires more than umbrellas held by the long arm of the law. I always likened the front door to their home as the gateway inside a Pandora’s Box. Walking to that door, I shared an excerpt from my previous visit with my trainee.
“Have you ever seen reruns of the old TV show The Munsters?” I asked my trainee.
“Yeah. Why?”
“They ain’t got nothing on The Fims. I was here for four hours last time. Although there were many memorable moments, the highlight had to be a semi-nude Bartholomew playing a sweet sounding fiddle while his pet mouse crawled across the broad shoulders of his 6’3” frame.”
Through the screen door, a holler from the heart of the kitchen granted us passage inside. The dispassionate father of the brothers Fim sat hunkered down at the kitchen table absolutely enthralled by a Sudoku puzzle. Darby lay asleep in Tweedy Bird boxers in the den to our right. Bartholomew could be heard plodding down the staircase.
Curiosity brought Bartholomew into the kitchen but anxiety caused his pacing. He moved gingerly for a big man, high on his tiptoes like a ballet dancer. Ahead of even his bare feet, Bartholomew’s body odor announced him. His obstinacy towards the artificial smell of deodorants, powder, soap, and cologne compromised his personal hygiene. Bartholomew’s tactile defensiveness considered clothing a nuisance. Bartholomew found the wrinkles, tags, seams, density, and weight of clothing material too confining. So Bartholomew appeared clad only in a cranberry colored blanket that he fashioned to look like a Roman toga. A single safety pin protected us from lewdness but not his ballet performance. Because he can no longer surrender to a change in routine long enough to accept a modest haircut, his long wavy curly locked hair shook everywhere. At once, Bartholomew resembled a cross between Little Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Wolf.
I turned to Cassandra, who stared in silent disbelief. “I would like to introduce to you…”
Bartholomew rudely interrupted me. “Spare me the introduction of your young apprentice. This is not a roll call. This is an audition for my attention.”
I pardoned the interruption. “Cassandra, this is Bart and his father Bert.”
“My given name is Bartholomew all the proper and I refuse to believe that I was born of that doormat of a man.” Bartholomew wildly pointed to his biological father before continuing. “In case you’re quick with labels young lassie, somebody with my affliction needs to be in constant motion. As a social worker, you of all dregs of society, should understand obsessive compulsive disorder.”
The crisp affluent language skills are a hallmark of Asperger’s Syndrome. Even so, I tried to redirect Bartholomew. “I know you have rituals, Bartholomew, but can you sit at the kitchen table long enough to sensibly talk to us?”
“Idling one’s time is the eleventh commandment. I choose to literally and figuratively make a stand. Need I elaborate further the reason for my being?”
Bartholomew continued to stand and pace as we discussed treatment recommendations for him and his brother. The father listened but he could do little to manage the contents of the household that the mother abandoned.
I asked, “Bartholomew, what do you think about agreeing to a psychiatric evaluation with the possible outcome being prescription medication?”
“Medication is mind control. It is resident evil.” Bartholomew did a twinkle toes ballet over to me then pinched the skin on my forearm. “Do you feel that, Joe?”
“Ouch.” I grimaced.
“Medicine makes me not feel.” He explained. “It turns me into somebody who I am not and a somnambulist I am not.”
A malnourished cat scurried across the table leaving a trail of fleas. My nose picked up that breakfast had been burned to an unrecognizable composition on the stovetop not too long ago. Darby’s daughter, Roshshashanahan, clanged up the basement stairs to join us in the kitchen. Roshshashanahan was recently expelled from school for shooting classmates with a BB gun. She craftily used electric tape to secure the gun down her back then walked it past the metal detectors. A product of her environment and genetics, Roshashanahan seemed like the reincarnation of Mischief Night.
Now hearing voices, Darby roused awake on the couch. He rose up and stretched his limbs. It was the first time that I had ever seen Darby bare-chested. Cassandra and I found ourselves reading his tattoos like a testament to his hard life.
“Roshashanahan, go get Daddy a beer from the fridge." ordered Darby. "A longneck.”
“Can we wait on that? I prefer to interview my clients sober at least through the breakfast hours.”
Darby said, “Cancel that beer, baby.”
After a yawn and the donning of his hearing aide, Darby was ready to take in the world, if the world was ready to take on Darby. I remembered better days when Darby’s biggest challenge was attention deficit disorder. That was before the fateful pickup football game. Darby hauled in a 65-yard pass with his meat hooks and headed for the go-ahead touchdown. Darby glanced over his shoulder and with nothing but daylight in front of him; he knew he could outrun the last would-be tackler. Darby scored the touchdown but forgot about the Caterpillar bulldozer parked near the end zone. Construction workers had left heavy equipment parked on the edge of the playing field. Darby suffered a skull fracture that required medical transport by helicopter. An emergency craniomity was performed at the hospital, which included surgical evacuation of the hematoma. Darby had one meaningless touchdown to show for a lifetime of crippling brain injury.
“I see everybody is awake and talking about the problems of the brothers Fim.” complained Darby. “Joe, what about you? You used to wear a beekeeper’s suit.”
“Indefensible.” I admitted aloud. Then I whispered in a side bar to my trainee. “More on that later.”
Meanwhile, Bartholomew pulled the curtains over the windows like the end of a stage production. His ritualistic behavior virtually incapacitated his daily functioning. In fact, his quirky habits made it nearly impossible for him to leave the home. Bartholomew switched to a British accent that had its similarities with theatre. Bartholomew sang the soundtrack to the Phantom of the Opera before switching to the emission of strange whooper will noises and wildlife cackles. Then came the yodeling. The change in venue conjured up the unlikely union of hillbilly meets the sound of music.
Darby sauntered to the kitchen and creaked a kitchen chair across the floor. As if announcing his own arrival, Darby sat down then promptly farted. I left a neuropsychiatric report on Darby out in plain view on the kitchen table. I noticed Darby glancing down at the report so I slid it towards him. He picked it up and started to read it. From the exhaustive report, he lifted the only two objectionable words from a page littered with strong-worded diagnosis.
“Jesus Christ! I have Tourette’s Syndrome.” announced Darby as if he was stating his own case.
Nobody paid much attention to Darby’s revelation. The father instead scolded Bartholomew.
“The world is not a stage, son. Get off that coffee table. You are not here to entertain. Stop what you are doing. Have you ever done anything for the common good? You need to mingle with common folks. Have you ever done anything for the common man?"
Bartholomew’s feet came to tap dancing surrender atop the coffee table. He gritted his teeth like a man in conflict with his own advertised ideals. “…In the last election, I voted Democratic.”
After some chuckles, Darby admitted, “We just got the carpet replaced. Bartholomew wore out the last carpet. It was in perfect condition except for the path paced by my ignoramus brother. Jesus Christ! I can’t believe I have Tourette’s Syndrome.”
“Stop talking in circles, you tattle tale?” fired back Bartholomew. “Darby, you are just trying to look better than me in front of our visitors, these egotistical pundits reducing themselves to house calls.”
I mediated, “Bartholomew, can you drop the British accent and the role playing to talk to us in a normal voice? Darby, I can explain that new diagnosis.”
Bartholomew jumped off the coffee table long enough to talk about his personal dreams. “I wish to conquer the world without anyone finding out it was me. I will go to France and run my kingdom from abroad. I hate Americans so I will get along famously with the French.”
I invited, “If you talk to me at the table, maybe we can also discuss acting classes or a theatre group for you, Bartholomew.”
Bartholomew replied, “I don’t need acting classes. I need a stage.”
Darby interjected, “Shut up or I’ll tell Roshashanahan to go get her gun.”
Bartholomew argued, “Don’t side with them. They are limited intelligence without a shred of charisma.”
Darby asked, “Dad, can you ask Bartholomew to sit at the kitchen table with the rest of us?”
Bartholomew answered before his father could even look up from Sudoku puzzle. “The more I surrender to change, the more new demands are placed on me.”
Cassandra could see the growing frustration on my face. Time was wasting but it seemed like hours had passed. I looked around for a wall clock in Pandora's box.
“What time is it?” I asked.
“Only Bartholomew would know.” mouthed the father. “Yesterday, he hid all the clocks and watches in the house.”
“I find the ticking sounds an intolerable cruelty.” Bartholomew raised his pointer finger in triumph. “There will be no clocks in this house forever more.”
I stammered. “…Wait a minute. I feel like I’m trapped in a scene from a movie.”
Bartholomew lunged at me thrusting an invisible pretend sword to my throat. “That would be Captain Hook, mate, starring Dustin Hoffman as the similarly afflicted."
Oblivious to Bartholomew’s theatre, Darby again bemoaned, “Jesus Christ! I can’t believe I have Tourette’s Syndrome.”
Cassandra called in the time from her wristwatch. We had only survived ten minutes in the house.
"Jesus Ch5i$!" I cursed in my head. "I can't believe it has only been ten minutes."


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