Bruno was court-ordered not to approach or intimidate any of his victims while at work, or socially. That section of the court’s order he found easy to abide by, but unbeknownst to him, some injured work colleagues were quietly plotting to help with his defence. They gave considerable thought to their situation, and all unanimously agreed not to attend court. They felt they were now involuntarily involved in Bruno’s court case. If not for Aldo’s actions, they would not be in that situation.
Only after his public defender learned of the witnesses choosing not to appear did he advised Bruno to plead not guilty to the assault charges of the police officer. For the prosecution, a conviction was near impossible.
When the time came for Bruno to face a charge of Disorderly Conduct, a misdemeanour, which under normal circumstances carried a small fine, he pled guilty. To assaulting the officer, his lawyer asked the court to consider Bruno’s actions as more a reflex than an assault. That charge carried an incarceration for up to two years.
The judge gave some credence to his lawyer’s argument, ordering Bruno to undergo a psychological assessment, while continuing his bail.
Once outside the courthouse, Bruno turned to his lawyer, and said, “I’m not seein’ any fuckin’ psychologist. The judge can get fucked.”
Surprised by the outburst, his lawyer replied, “If you don’t do as the court orders, you’ll go to jail. There’s every chance the judge will only impose a fine or a suspended sentence, so I strongly advise you to accede to the court’s request.”
Lucy not only found Bruno’s one-word answers infuriating, she thought of him as non-cooperative. His attitude made it difficult for her to obtain a better insight into his psyche. From the outset, but without all the facts, she suspected him of being mentally immature. She was fully aware of what she had to contend with, but not being privy to Jack’s violence, and the rig crew’s battering advice, she had no idea just how formidable his opposition could be.
The oil gladiators had taught him well. Be wary of strangers asking questions.
“Is anything troubling you … besides the court case?”
“Please take my advice. A report is required by the court, and by not co-operating, it will not help your case. Do you understand?”
Her advice had Bruno thinking differently. “I don’t care. Do what you have to.”
At their next consultation, Lucy saw the opening of a new window into his life. Just as removed his coat, she glimpsed the scarring to his left upper arm. They’re knife wounds.
“Surely you realise that by not supplying answers to my questions I’m being put in the unenviable position of writing a report that won’t go in your favor.”
Although she persisted, his silence was just as resolute.
Two further sessions of continual evasiveness only ended similarly, with no progress.
Resigned to the fact that her report would not be finalised by the due date, she rang his lawyer and informed him of Bruno’s attitude. With a brief discussion having ensued she, reluctantly, agreed to issue an interim report that would appease the court in extending Bruno’s bail. However, she was far from satisfied.
“Would you sit in on Bruno’s next appointment? You may have some ideas,” Lucy asked Barbara, prior to his next appointment.
Lucy then explain what she thought his reasons were for not reciprocating to her questions.
Barbara observations of Bruno’s mutterings and almost inaudible replies to Lucy’s questions gave her a better understanding of what her colleague was dealing with.
“Would you mind if I consult with him?” Barbara asked, immediately after he vacated the office.
“Would you? I’d be much happier if you took over his sessions.”
“Does he always smell of bad body odour?” Barbara asked.
“Yes. It is a little strong. I always wear extra perfume when I know he’s due.”
Barbara suspected he would remain stubbornly quiet and not reveal information than he had already.
Just as their initial consultation began, she thought, he appears more relaxed with me than with Lucy.
Barbara took Lucy’s advice and wore extra perfume.
“Bruno? Do you think your appearance has anything to do with the way you see your life, as it is?”
Her directness not only made him wary, he considered the subject off limits. What’s my fuckin’ looks got to do with her report? Next, she’ll be askin’ how I got like this.
He looked away, refusing to answer.
Barbara was not sure if she had hit a nerve or not, but his body language suggested the question made him uncomfortable. Other than him looking in another direction, she was expecting some form of retaliation to her inquisitiveness.
I thought he would be offended or even rage at my question. What’s he thinking?
Not receiving an answer, she thought it time to delve a little deeper. “Do you see your father at all?”
“No,” he answered, even though he resented her question.
“Where is he now?”
“The last I heard, in Texas.” She’s makin’ it easy to dislike her.
“That’s a shame. I’d like to talk to him.”
Bruno suddenly went on the offensive. “Leave Jack out of this!”
“What about your mother? Is she alive?” Ignoring his response was important. Barbara waited for a signal that he had tired of her questioning.
He remained motionless.
On her desk was a photograph of a teenage girl, and it had attracted his attention. She must be her daughter.
“You will receive a one year jail sentence, but it will be suspended on condition you continue with your psychology counselling for its duration. If you fail to appear for any of your consultations, then the court will notify you of your incarceration for the sentence’s remaining period. Do you understand my ruling?” the judge asked.
“Yes.” Bruno thought the sentence harsh, considering he was not the instigator.
Unbeknownst to him Barbara had written in her report of his apparent self-harming, and recommended additional therapy.
He deliberately chose a chair that allowed a better view of the photo. His infatuation was escalating the more he gazed at the girl.
Her eyes are followin’ me. How can they? It’s only a photograph. Her eyes are like her mother’s, but she’s prettier. What’s her name?
On that chilly Sunday morning, as they strolled hand-in-hand along the riverbank, Barbara decided it was time to enlist JM into her plan.
“I have a patient, a pro bono, and he’s in need of some dental work. He has come via the courts. I think his appearance activates his need to self-harm, and because of it his self-esteem is very low. Would you consider doing his dental work free if I can convince him to undergo some surgery?”
He instinctively knew her request did not require any consideration. She must feel it is important. It is the first time she has ever asked for my help with one her patients.
“Sure … just let me know when he can start. Keep in mind I can only do it on the occasional Saturday morning.”
She decided to tackle the correlation of Bruno’s appearance and his self-harm head on. Unfortunately, she had misdiagnosed his self-harm as a form of self-pity, and not one that had become a drug.
The pain and its ritual application had manifested into a life of its own.
He now had a purpose for continuing with the therapy. He realised, if he persisted with giving reluctant answers, there was a distinct possibly Barbara would refer him to another psychologist. That he had to avoid. Although, by agreeing to answer her questions he likened himself to a spider trapped in its own web. A photo of a girl had ensnared him.
By his succumbing, Barbara had inadvertently become a victim to his manipulations.
The thought of seeing a dentist was not Bruno’s idea of fun, but he knew by acceding to Barbara’s suggestion, her consultations would continue. He decided to take the initiative. “You can ask me whatever you like, but if I don’t answer, then I have my reasons. Agreed?”
Barbara was taken aback slightly by his candidness, although she was thankful for his relenting.
I still need to be in control. “Let’s see how we progress before I commit to your request. If I’m satisfied, then I’ll accept you not answering.”
Barbara was happy for his capitulation, but a week earlier, she would have considered it an impossibility.
Bruno was also feeling elated, for she had made the mistake of not asking him to leave her practice.
Except for accommodating his highly vaunted patients, JM had refrained from attending his practice on Saturdays. It allowed him to spend more time with his wife and daughter. Other resident dentists usually treated patients scheduled for Saturdays.
When Bruno arrived at the dental clinic, the only information given him was the address and appointment time. Barbara had deliberately withheld JM’s name.
The surgery’s opulence surprised Bruno. The lavish surroundings and the sound of classical music playing in the background impressed him. He had not encountered anything like it before. His eyes perused the spacious room as he approached the dental chair, but the sight of a framed photo sitting on a window ledge immediately grabbed his attention. Two familiar female faces were looking back at him.
What are they doing here? He was now oblivious to his surroundings.
“Hi Bruno, please lie on the chair and we’ll have a look at your teeth,” JM had to repeat himself.
“My wife you already know, and Katherine’s my daughter.” JM said, at noticing Bruno’s stare.
As he lay on the chair Bruno allowed his mind to wonder, and from there on in took no interest in the questions asked. His only thoughts were of Katherine. Finally, I know her name. I can’t believe my luck.
JM placed his right hand on Bruno’s shoulder, having completed his exploratory. “You can relax. I have finished the initial examination. I only need to do the 3D imaging and photographs.”
As Bruno drove to the diner for a coffee, he thought again of Katherine. I wonder where she lives. I can follow Barbara … or her husband.
After dinner that evening, Barbara asked JM, “What do you think of Bruno?”
“I can understand why his appearance could influence his thoughts to self-harm. I only do cosmetic dentistry, not cosmetic facial surgery. I can only correct his teeth and bite. It will be a lengthy process before I am finished. I don’t know if he was aware of our relationship before coming to the surgery, but he certainly knows now.”
“I didn’t tell him about us, but I hope he understands why I wanted him to have his teeth corrected.”
Barbara’s caring nature was about to be undermined by a psychotic.
Bruno had difficulty understanding why he had to see a psychologist, court-ordered or not. Why do people think I’m violent? Up until now, I’ve never been charged with anythin’, but Aldo did me a favour, and doesn’t know it. If we hadn’t had a fight, I wouldn’t have seen Katherine’s photo. By goin’ to the dentist, I get to see her … and I’m gettin’ my teeth done free. What could be better?
Having arrived early for Barbara’s appointment Bruno sat next to a young man in the reception area.
“My name’s Cory, what’s yours?”
“Who are you seeing?”
“You’re lucky. I’m here to see Lucy, but I hear Barbara’s better. Do you have her private number yet?”
Bruno looked puzzled. Is he sayin’ she gives out her home number? “What are you talkin’ about?”
“Think about it! If you’re not in your right space when you need them most, what good are they? Got me! If you ask for her number she’ll give it to you.”