For nearly eight months, Harlingen area resident Christopher Baker has been searching for a screw that somehow fell out of his Sharp Viewcam personal camcorder posing little more than a mild inconvenience.
So far all efforts to locate the missing screw have been met with utter and abject failure.
"It's like the missing screw is mocking me, " Baker was to have once told his wife during an early morning search. "Now I am going to be forced to hold the inner cassette cover when I load a tape. What a total pain."
Baker has a long history of both, losing screws to electronic devices and spending countless hours searching for them. After so much experience, each time he is compelled to search for a missing screw it becomes more of a crusade or some kind of psychological tug of war that brings him closer to a kind of insanity from which there is no hope of return.
"I am really worried about him," his wife Adriana confides during a routine Child Protective Services interview. She notes that pleading with him to just go to Radio Shack and purchase a new screw sends him off into a fit of rage and denial.
"Many times you can hear him mumbling and cursing the screw under his breath as he searches," Baker said. "I don't even know who he is anymore. When I look at his face all I can think about are screws. It's like being in my own private hell. A screw-filled hell."
Mrs. Baker has real reason to worry. In 2006 alone, the last year that complete statistics are available, her husband lost a total of 6 screws of consequence. Four of which were to a notebook computer he was repairing for someone else and two from an older, but still perfectly usable digital camera.
The loss of the screws during the fiscal 2006 year was devastating to the family and almost wiped them out financially.
"The emotional pain and suffering I have been through because of his careless, screw-losing ways has pushed me to the brink," Baker remarked. "He takes days off at a time from work just looking for screws. I can't count the number of jobs he has lost due to this obsession. I should have married that rich guy from the Marine Military Academy. I'll bet he wouldn't be putting me through all this. And if he did, at least he's rich. I really can't remember what I ever saw in Chris now that you mention it."
The Baker's two young children have not fared any better than their mother. Having suffered through some of the toughest times possible for anyone at any age, their youth in years has not served them well in dealing with the emotional carnage that comes from living with a person who has lost so many screws.
"We love our Daddy," Christine the oldest of the two said through her tears. "I just want things to be like they used to be, back when I was little before Daddy lost his mind."
Caroline, at only five years old has suffered trauma so profound that she can no longer handle the stress of being anywhere near items remotely shaped like a Philip's-head screwdriver, for instance. She has trouble speaking and communicates chiefly through a series of grunts and hand gestures.