Transcript of 3rd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Darius Booth, Monday, October 19, 1998 at 3 pm.

Mr. Booth: This is the life.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Darius.
Mr. Booth: It must be a beautiful thing to have your own private office.
Dr. Balis: In my line of work, it's essential. How have you been?
Mr. Booth: Why don't you ask Doug Auble? He should know, the dirty sneak. Is there any way he could listen in from outside this door?
Dr. Balis: No, that's not possible. What makes you think that he would try to do that?
Mr. Booth: I tell you, it's the ugly ones you have to watch. He sits at his desk, quietly burping and blistering away, seemingly content in his own little compost. But I turn my back for one second, and he's rifling through my drawers and reading my personal papers.
Dr. Balis: Hold on, Darius. What exactly did Doug do?
Mr. Booth: He read my resignation letter, that's all! All twenty-seven pages!
Dr. Balis: That's the resignation letter you wrote but decided not to hand in?
Mr. Booth: Yes. It was buried under a stack of folders in the bottom drawer of my desk. I've always known Doug was a sticky-beak, but this? This is theft! This is a gross invasion of privacy! If I can't get a transfer, I'll have to leave.
Dr. Balis: Are you sure it was...
Mr. Booth: How would you like it, Doctor Balis, if someone went through your personal papers?
Dr. Balis: Given the confidential nature of my files, that would be a police matter.
Mr. Booth: The police? Wow! Do you think I should? Because I can; I have evidence.
Dr. Balis: You're not sure? Did you see Doug reading your letter?
Mr. Booth: No. But last Friday morning, I pulled it out of the drawer--things didn't go well at The Cha-Cha--and found a big brown thumb print on page thirteen. There's no way it was there before.
Dr. Balis: What makes you so sure it was Doug's thumb print?
Mr. Booth: It was like a squashed bug. And tasted of chocolate. Doug's always eating chocolate bars. He keeps a stash in his top left drawer. It's like a Grimm's fairy tale in there. With his skin condition, you'd think he'd watch his diet.
Dr. Balis: Let's leave Doug's diet aside for the moment...
Mr. Booth: I used to keep a bowl of fruit on my desk. Every time Doug would pull out a Mars bar, I'd start eating an apple. And I'd eat it loudly, partly to make him aware of the fruit and partly to drown out all the little noises he makes. But it didn't work. The fruit was like a red rag to a bull. Next thing I knew, he'd moved on to the king size varieties and to the two-for-one deals--an appalling business. I had to throw the fruit out.
Dr. Balis: Getting back to your concerns about someone going through your desk, have you spoken to Doug about it?
Mr. Booth: I didn't need to. I heard him talking to one of the other workers. He was saying something about how Jenny or Janie from Accounts Receivable "wasn't funny." Then he raised his voice, making sure I could hear, and said, "Yes, she'd better not give up her day job." I could have ripped his goiter out there and then.
Dr. Balis: It doesn't sound like his comments had anything to do with you.
Mr. Booth: If he read my letter then he knew that my comedy routine has an underlying, rhythmic, gender fluidity--a slightly frenetic rhythm given my five-minute time limit, but it's there: girl, boy, woman, man. It's the full gamut, then back to the womb to start over. That's what Doug was sarcastically referring to when he said "she" had better not give up "her" day job.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Booth: On page thirteen, where I outlined the basic philosophy of my comedy, I referred to myself in the third person as "a right little bitch sometimes." And page thirteen, Doctor Balis, is where you'll find the thumb print, Doug's thumb print.
Dr. Balis: It might be helpful if I read this letter.
Mr. Booth: Forget it. It's history. I'm starting again. The first six pages need a total rewrite. And this time, the unnamed co-worker will be named. Douglas Auble will have his fifteen minutes. And I promise you, it won't be pretty.
Dr. Balis: Darius, you've mentioned previously that something has always gone wrong in the jobs you've had. Would you say the problem is always similar?
Mr. Booth: Not at all. I've never come across anyone like Doug before. I should bring you in a photo so you can see for yourself. The lifeless hair pasted across his seething scalp; the extra mass of nose with its feeder network of veins and arteries; the eczema; the heavy spinnaker of flesh, billowing slackly beneath his non-existent chin; the short, pulpy body with breast development...
Dr. Balis: That's a rather unflattering portrait.
Mr. Booth: And that's just the surface detail. More important is the way in which the whole package is animated. I suspect that Doug's outer ugliness is only a dim reflection of something far worse within.
Dr. Balis: Like what exactly?
Mr. Booth: Well, that's not for me to say. But it's times like this I really miss Big Jill. She was a brilliant judge of character. She could pluck out their heart, if need be. But enough about Doug. He's not worth the time.
Dr. Balis: Darius, I think there are issues surrounding your relationship with Doug that need to be examined. But if you'd rather not go on with it now...
Mr. Booth: I'd rather not.
Dr. Balis: All right, we'll move on. I'd be interested to hear about your previous job.
Mr. Booth: That was back in Australia, with a firm called Klomp Manufacturing. I was making those little keys that are used to open cans of spam and sardines.
Dr. Balis: How long were you there?
Mr. Booth: Oh, about six weeks. I can still remember the look on Mr. Klomp's face when I handed in my letter of resignation. He was mortified. He said, "I'm not going to read all of this."
Dr. Balis: Why did you leave?
Mr. Booth: Oh, the whole thing went to hell.
Dr. Balis: Could you be a little more specific?
Mr. Booth: I suppose Janice was the final straw. She was a nasty, bony little thing who worked on one of the gasket-presses. She was always coming into the area I worked to have a go at me.
Dr. Balis: What would she do?
Mr. Booth: She mainly did knock-knock jokes. She'd stick her head round the corner and call out, "Knock-knock." I always urged the rest of the guys to ignore her, but someone always called out: "Who's there?" I tried to stop her. I tried dropping a crate of keys or screaming out that I'd been blinded by an acid spill, but it never worked. Janice was relentless. Eventually, the whole "Dick? Dick who? Dickhead!" scenario would be played out. It was unbearable.
Dr. Balis: Why did you find her jokes so offensive?
Mr. Booth: There were too many of them. It wasn't right. I began to suspect something was wrong when she started plastering the sides of her gasket-press with comic-strips cut from the daily paper. So one night, I followed her home. It turned out she lived just two blocks from the Doon McDougal--a venue I'd performed in a couple of years ago. It was too creepy. I went straight home and began to write: "Dear Mr. Klomp, it is my sad duty to inform you..."
Dr. Balis: You were concerned this woman might have seen your performance?
Mr. Booth: If I remember correctly, things didn't go too well at the Doon. A lot of nasty things were said that night. Now I don't know if Janice was actually there or if she heard about it later, but all her comic-strips and knock-knocks were obviously designed to make a point. A lot of them made references to my routine. Once, at lunch, she looked at me straight in the eyes and said that she loved a good laugh. She was a knife, that one.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Booth: So you see, the two jobs presented very different problems.
Dr. Balis: I do see some similarities, Darius.
Mr. Booth: Like what?
Dr. Balis: In both workplaces, you've become very preoccupied with a colleague.
Mr. Booth: I think you've got it the wrong way around, Doctor Balis. I don't care if Doug lives or dies.
Dr. Balis: Yet you're willing to quit because of his presence.
Mr. Booth: No...
Dr. Balis: I gathered from what you've been saying...
Mr. Booth: Well, you haven't been listening. Doug is nothing. That's the whole point of what I've been saying. I'd rather never talk about him again. Who cares if he read my letter? I got him back, anyway.
Dr. Balis: What did you do?
Mr. Booth: Don't look so worried. I know what I'm doing. I know how to play these office games.
Dr. Balis: Darius...
Mr. Booth: It was only a harmless joke. Before Doug went to the bathroom this morning for his usual skin-and-hair salvation session, I placed a small, brown toupee in the washbasin.
Dr. Balis: What was that supposed to achieve?
Mr. Booth: I was just letting him know that I was on to him, him and his sneaky treachery.
Dr. Balis: Darius, this is definitely not the way to deal with your problems with Doug.
Mr. Booth: It's like Big Jill always says: "Ugliness begets ugliness." But it's over and done with. From now on, I'll just do my job and forget he even exists. I have a far bigger fish to fry.
Dr. Balis: I want you to promise me that if you have any more problems with Doug, you'll talk to your supervisor, or call me, and not just take things into your own hands.
Mr. Booth: Doug who?
Dr. Balis: Darius.
Mr. Booth: Okay, okay. It's a deal.
Dr. Balis: Good. Now, was there anything else you wanted to discuss today?
Mr. Booth: I had my second gig at The Cha-Cha last Thursday.
Dr. Balis: How did it go?
Mr. Booth: Not well. No laughs this time. And an ambulance arrived just as I was finishing. Apparently someone hyperventilated, or had a coronary, or something. The manager, Neville Hurt, tried to pin the blame on me--an outrageous accusation. All the drinkers in there have at least one foot in the intensive care ward. I told him he ought to run his pub like a race-track--have an ambulance follow the nags around, waiting for a fall.
Dr. Balis: It sounds like it was an unpleasant night.
Mr. Booth: Oh, yeah. I suppose I had unreasonably high expectations after last week.
Dr. Balis: That was when you thought you've heard laughter during your routine?
Mr. Booth: It was there, all right. I can still hear it as though it were yesterday: "Ha, ha, ha." I'd recognize it anywhere. Which is why I arrived so early at The Cha-Cha last Thursday--to see if I could find it. The unspeakable Bertie Buckmeister was on again, so there was plenty of cheap laughter around. While he put his despicable, woody-wielding Pecker-boy through the hoops, I wandered through the crowd, listening.
Dr. Balis: Do you think you heard it?
Mr. Booth: No, it wasn't there. I was almost fooled on one occasion. Pecker-boy was trying to start a fire by rasping a chair leg--the crowd was going nuts. And from a corner table, I thought I heard the laugh, but it turned out to be a one-eyed man teaching a hag to blow smoke-rings.
Dr. Balis: So will you be going back to The Cha-Cha?
Mr. Booth: I don't know. Neville banned me from performing there again. So I insisted on talking to the owner. I always do that. I think it's my right, and you have to give yourself every chance. But he refused. I kept insisting, politely. The funny thing is that I quite like Neville. But anyway, he became increasingly nervous and evasive, didn't even give me a telephone number. But I just have a gut-feeling that I'm not yet finished with The Cha-Cha...
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Well, Darius, we're just about out of time for today. Before we finish, I'd like to stress again that if any problems with Doug Auble arise again, you should call me.
Mr. Booth: Okay. But I've finished with him. This was good today. I've got it all out of my system.
Dr. Balis: Okay. I'll see you this same time next week.
Mr. Booth: Ha! I love that. Yes, indeed, I'll see you then.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Darius.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

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