Freudian Slips: The Uno Slumber

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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.

October 17, 2007

The Uno Slumber

Beatrice Lilly Dungstone was the broken tree branch on a fallen family tree. Assigned to be her social worker, it was my job to mend fences after an unnatural disaster in the home she lived.
A short rap on her front door later, Beatrice shouted for me to enter in the gravelly voice of a lifelong heavy smoker. The harshness in her voice served to neutralize the invitation inside. As the front door swiveled on its creaking hinges, the interior presented as far from commendable as condemnable would allow. Mounds of strewn clothes and junk inundated the foyer. I realized that it would be enter-at-my-own risk from here on out.
I turned sideways to gain passage from the foyer through a hallway equally choked by possessions. Forging my way through a tight alley, I found my client sitting in a compressed lounge chair with exposed coiled springs. Sanford and Son belongings were piled waist high around her in no particular order. Paying no mind, she sat watching television with appreciation. While my head swirled with unspoken sharp judgment, Beatrice did her best mind reading act.
“Can you believe me and pa live like this?”
“Do you really want me to answer that one, Bea?”
“Nah, I know what you gotta be thinking.”
No shortage of water stain marks on the walls and ceiling made it difficult to determine the actual root cause. The roof had obviously failed at some point but the collateral damage done was not the surprising part. My jaw went agape observing leaky windows clogged on the inside sills by feminine napkins. She caught me staring at custom rigging a manufacturer never laboratory tested.
“I know that is not lady like but pa didn’t seem to mind as long as they plugged leaks.”
I asked, “Mind if I have a look in your refrigerator?”
Beatrice seemed honest about my request. “Not, if you don’t mind.”
I walked over strewn extension cords and entered the shambles of a lonely kitchen. Even though I now stood on a rotting floor bottom that I did not know woul support my weight, it seemed a minor achievement to make it this far. My shoe heel stuck to the ripped vinyl flooring covered by an inch of dust, grime, and litter. I literally winced with apprehension as I opened the once white refrigerator door now covered in greasy fingerprints. Cooling in the refrigerator, was spoiled food and useless mothballs. For the first time I witnessed cobwebs inside a refrigerator. The bottom shelves had been removed to accommodate the unthinkable gesture of hospitality.
I sighed, “There is a cat litter box in your refrigerator!”
“Don’t worry. Both cats died.” Beatrice’s face slumped to a petulant pout that in a weird way self-leveled her shoddy application of lipstick.
“You sandwiched a cat litter box in a closed refrigerator? Never mind. Where are the cat carcasses?”
“I buried them varmints outback but the darn animals done got to them.”
“Don’t you mean the animals not living inside the house got to the cats?”
“Yeah, those darn animals, Joe. Do you wanna see the rest of the house?”
“Is that a trick question? Okay, I suppose it is my responsibility to give the rest of the house a fair chance. As far as you know, is there anything or anyone else dead in this house?”
“What do you take me for, a murderer?" snapped Beatrice. "Follow me. I’ll show you the garage.”
Beatrice marched me to the single garage in a way that made me feel like I needed a tether rope to find my way back the way I came. The belongings in the garage ranged to my shoulders. An array of tools, garbage never curbed, lawn equipment, early model Schwin bicycles, and unsold yard sale items plastered the garage. The collection made it an impassable impossible storage unit.
She offered, “Anything you see that you can use, compliments of the house. Just take it.”
“I am not allowed to take anything. That would be taking advantage of you.” Sarcasm raked over my tongue. “Besides, there is so much profit here, it would be downright criminal of me.”
This dysfunctional family’s adaptability in disability was startling. Billowing smoke from the washing machine disrupted the electrical wiring during the Watergate hearings. Instead of calling for an electrician to fix the problem, they resorted to hand washing clothes for the rest of their natural born lives. Complicating matters, the laundry room mishap shorted out the kitchen lighting. Therefore, they laid down extension cords to provide an alternate source of power. The kitchen faucet began to drip, then leak, then gush water. Instead of calling a Johnny-on-the-spot plumber, they moved kitchen operations to a spotty downstairs windowless bathroom. Next to an inoperable blackened toilet bowl in the soup to nuts bathroom, dirty dishes piled in a discolored plastic drain board. Bathroom toilets too took turns springing leaks prompting not a repairman’s call but valve shut off. The residents decided to deal with the inconvenience of not having plumbing by wearing diapers like incontinent nursing home residents. By hardship or indifference, they had cooked their last home cooked meal but they never purged the old canned and boxed food items from the crowded pantry. I stared at discontinued dusty products no longer on the market.
“Don’t worry about that food. I am going to box them up. I said it last year but it is that time of year again for the Boy Scouts to collect canned goods for a food drive.”
My demeanor soured. “You are confusing a food drive with a botulism outbreak. With no disrespect to your generosity, you cannot donate these items…not even last year. Beatrice, these canned goods are as good as trash.” I read the falling label off a can of baked beans. “These baked beans expired before that farting scene in Blazing Saddles.”
As the house tour continued, Animal Control should have been present with metal cages. Dumpy squirrels made trespass in the attic while smarmy mice patrolled the first floor. Bees occupied a corner of the basement where the foundation joined the house. They brought stray cats inside to chase other animals away. The cats took refuge but they tore up the furniture fabric, pissed on all the carpets, and apparently never correlated toileting inside a closed refrigerator either. I stood on the dirtiest shag carpet I have ever seen wondering about the former splendor of the original color. The remnants needed pitching a decade ago. The basement sump pump failed then eventually flooded. A permeating rustic water line marked above the first cinderblock. Choked by seeping rainwater, the heater unit died by drowning.
I followed Beatrice up the stairs to the second floor. Junkpiles rose and covered the bedroom windows to the extent of compromising any natural light trying to creep in. In the darkness, the junk eventually fell behind the closed doors of the second and third bedroom thus preventing their opening. Covered by all seasons of clothes, the beds were rendered useless for sleeping. The gagging smell of urine emanating from the master bedroom bit my nostrils. I maneuvered my shirt above my nose like a bandit.
Beatrice said, “You can tell I had a few accidents, huh?”
I asked, “What is inside the hundreds of small boxes in the master bedroom?”
“I sell Pampered Chef and Avon products in the neighborhood. They are my deliveries.”
“You what?” I said incredulously. “Why you don’t have a functional kitchen nor running water to take baths and you sell high end luxuries?”
“I got to make a living, Joe. I will give you a brochure. I got one tucked somewhere around this house somewhere. Help me find it, why don’t you?”



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is unbelievable!!!!
But, knowing you, it must be true!

11:55 AM  
Blogger mommanator said...

you should have warned to read at your own risk and don't be eating anything! EEE GADS was the department of health called!? did your regional nurse go with ya? what kind of illnesses do these folks have!

10:06 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

the house scared and scarred me.

Maybe you know more than you are letting on but that million dollar question opens up a can of worms.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beatrice Lilly Dungstone irony in a name, I too took that tour and was overwhemled as never before. I did not open the fridge door and now I am really glad that I did not!

12:57 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

I fret for the people who are still rumaging around and under debris trying to find a way out of the cluttered neglect.

4:37 PM  

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