Social Work is Thomas Duffy’s seventh book. It is a moving story about a young man named Marc who meets a social worker named Lauren after his attempt at suicide. This story is an exploration of the bond between Marc and Lauren and the problems they face in trying to overcome the obstacles both of them experience trying to achieve their own personal happiness. It is set in New York City.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult audiences only
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 4 – R Rated
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I wrote this book because I struggled with depression for many years. Three years ago, I lost a good friend to suicide and wished I could have helped him. This book and its story line serve as hope for people struggling with depression and mental illness. It is a powerful story of the healing power of therapy. I wanted nothing more than to write this book which is a labor of love. It is as an example of how overcoming mental illness is possible.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I created the social worker Lauren based on several caring health care professionals I had seen during the time I was struggling with depression. Marc is based on a combination of different characteristics of people with mental illness. I put a lot of myself and my friend into the character. A lot of his hopes and dreams I share myself.
Marc was home looking for work on job websites later that evening. He decided to sign up for a free dating service after sending out some resumes to see if he could meet a nice young woman close to his age. He found a twenty-six-year old girl named Holly who lived nearby him in Queens. She was slightly overweight but pretty and she had a job in television which definitely intrigued him. Marc knew it was not in his best interest to lie but when he sent her a message, he didn't reveal any of his recent mental health issues. He did state that he was unemployed and looking for work, however.
Holly was quick to give Marc her phone number. She seemed to have liked his pictures and thought that he had a interesting list of favorite movies and music which were listed on his dating profile. Immediately upon hearing his voice, Holly felt Marc was very interesting. Marc's distinct Queens accent and seemingly positive attitude made her feel instantly comfortable for whatever reason.
“Hi, Holly. It's great to be talking to you. I think you're really nice looking.”
“Well, you're not so bad yourself, Marc.”
“I am just a guy.”
“What kind of work are you looking for?”
“Anything really. Except retail. Though if I had to take a retail position, I wouldn't refuse it. I need to do something.”
“What happened with your last job?”
“I quit. My boss was an asshole.”
“Yeah, this guy was really demeaning and had me feeling really insecure about myself. What do you do in television if you don't mind me asking?”
“I produce a TV show for a local network.”
“It's called 'Uninhibited Morons.' It has a big following in New York City.”
“I know that show.”
“Have you seen it?”
“No, but I saw the billboards and bus advertisements for it.”
“We were hoping those ads would make people want to see the show.”
“What is the show about?
“Well, you know those 3 guys on the advertisement?”
“My casting director handpicked them and they're 3 single guys looking for love in the city. We found 3 really talented guys for the leads.”
“It's a reality show?”
“Yes, except it's partially scripted.”
“Do they look for love online?”
“No. That's the show's gimmick. They have to meet someone in the world outside of the internet in order to prove successful in finding love.”
“That show sounds like it could go on for a while then.”
“Well, we hope the ratings stay high and these guys never find love. We couldn't stop them from finding love and, if it does happen, it would make for interesting television.”
“Would the show end if one of the guys found love?”
“We'd just recast the guy. There are a lot of single guys out there.”
“I was just stating a fact.”
“Why does a beautiful, talented professional producer such as yourself have to look online for a boyfriend?”
“Why does a handsome guy like you have to?”
“So what are you doing tomorrow night?”
“I never like to meet someone too long after starting talking to him. I like to find out if there's chemistry in person before I continue talking and texting, you know?”
“I understand. I'm not doing anything tomorrow night. What were you thinking?”
“Maybe we could go for a cup of coffee or something?”
“Sure. Why not. Nothing too expensive. See if we like each other. Sounds good.”
“There's a Dunkin' Donuts by my house. Can you meet me there at 8 tomorrow night?”
“You mean just Dunkin' I believe. It's not Dunkin' Donuts anymore.”
“By the way, I love your favorite music list on the site. You're probably the only one who I talked to who likes Broken Social Scene.”
“Yeah, I like them a lot. I heard their music in a movie once and I was hooked.”
“Well, it's getting late. I can't wait to meet you tomorrow night. Text me in the morning to confirm we're still on and then I'll see you at 8, if all's good.”
“Will do. Nice talking to you.”
Marc went to his group session the next day determined to tell Lauren about his upcoming date with Holly when the group was over. Samson was present and before the session began, Marc started telling him the news.
“Samson, I met this girl online. She seems really nice.”
“Did you meet in person?”
“No. We're going to meet tonight.”
“Don't tell me anything until there's a second date. First dates from the internet are a dime a dozen.”
“OK, Samson. But, I got a good feeling about this girl.”
“You'll see. It will be a disaster.”
“Ye of little faith.”
“There's Lauren. Group is about to begin.”
Lauren walked in to the room and began addressing the people present in the room. Marc raised his hand.
“I have some good news to tell you.”
“Do you want to share it with all of us?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“What is it?”
“I have a date!”
A few of the people in the room started to applaud while others just sat motionless and in silence. Lauren looked at her watch and then over to Marc.
“Marc. We can talk about that later. Do you have something that concerns all of us to tell the group?”
“No. I guess I don't.”
“OK. Like I was trying to say before I was so rudely interrupted…”
“I wasn't trying to be rude.”
“Marc, I know you're excited but please wait until after group to talk to me about private matters.”
“OK. I'm sorry.”
“You don't have to apologize.”
“Empathy for others is a very important quality for all of us in the room to possess,” Lauren said as Marc started to tune out of the group therapy session happening that morning.
Marc began to think about his date later that night. He didn't tell Lauren much about what Holly did for a living after group. Lauren certainly wanted to know but Marc didn't feel like telling her that Holly produced a very popular reality show.
Time seemed to be going very slowly to Marc. He couldn't wait for the arrival of his date at the place formerly known as Dunkin' Donuts which was going to occur in several hours. When the time finally came to meet Holly, Marc found himself rushing to Dunkin' to meet her.
Holly was already seated at a table when Marc arrived to their date. Holly handed Marc an oversized yellow envelope which was sealed.
“Go ahead, Marc. Open it.”
“What is it, Holly?”
Marc pulled a black and white 8×10 photo out of the yellow envelope. It was a picture of Holly and the central lead cast of “Uninhibited Morons,” the show Holly produced. It was autographed by the three male cast members referred to in the show's title.
“Why didn't you sign it?”
“I'm just a producer. I'm nobody really,” Holly said.
“How did these guys get cast anyway?”
“They were the most personable of the guys that were potential fits for the show.”
“I want to be a moron. Can you keep me in mind for a part if another guy leaves?”
“You're too intelligent to be a moron.”
“Thanks but, really, I am not so sure.”
“You have personality. You're interesting. I like that.”
“I am not so interesting. At least I don't think so.”
“Trust me. You are. Especially compared to the jerks out there on the dating websites.”
“Tell me about these guys you've met.”
“Well, it seems they're either really intimidated by me or just looking for sex.”
Marc looked Holly directly in the eye and felt a connection with her. For once in his life, he felt that someone was respecting him for the complex person he was and not just taking him at face value. He felt flattered that Holly was there with him despite his poor employment status at the given time.
As the evening started to turn in to night, Holly looked at her watch and asked if they could continue their conversation on their next date. Marc looked at her and jokingly dropped his jaw.
“Holly. I'm so happy you're considering a second date with me.”
“Considering? I have already decided. I want one.”
“Can't wait. Let's go to the movies.”
“Let's do that. We should really talk politics sometime soon too.”
“I'm a conservative democrat I think.”
“There's no such thing as a conservative democrat in my humble opinion.”
“Hold that thought.”
Marc leaned over the table and kissed Holly on the lips and she kissed him back deeply. She was so happy in the moment that she found someone who was accepting of her and who seemed so genuine. In the back of her mind, she didn't know why she was there with someone who seemed so mixed up in his career but she just let herself get caught in the moment as their kiss continued for another minute or so before she gently pushed him away.
“That was good,” Marc said.
“So here's to tomorrow night. Meet me in the city. We'll catch a movie.”
“Why the city?”
“Well you work in the city and I don't want you to have to go too far out of your way. Plus, we could take the train home together afterwards.”
“Sounds like a plan. Not sure we'll go to the same house but yeah.”
“I wasn't implying that.”
“I know you weren't and that's what I like so much about you.”
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