Transcript of 12th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Christina Herald, Thursday, June 12, 1997 at 12:00 pm.

Ms. Herald: Hi there, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: There you are. I was beginning to wonder if you were going to stand me up.
Ms. Herald: Isn't that just like a man? A few minutes late, and suddenly the world is coming to an end.
Dr. Balis: Such generalizations.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, I know, women always generalize. Sorry. I guess I'm having a militant feminist day. The estrogen is wearing combat boots.
Dr. Balis: That's okay. How have you been?
Ms. Herald: I should be asking you that. Feel better?
Dr. Balis: Much, thanks. It was not a pleasant week, though.
Ms. Herald: I don't imagine. I hate being sick, and hospitals give me the creeps. And I spent most of Thursday in one to boot. I was not happy, to say the least.
Dr. Balis: Is something wrong?
Ms. Herald: Oh no. Not with me. Carmichael, bless his pointed little skull, was the one who was being tended to. The old goat fell down and broke his leg.
Dr. Balis: Ouch.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, really. I'm fast asleep, and I get this phone call asking me to come and pick him up to go to the hospital. He told me what had happened, and I wanted to know why the hell he hadn't called 911 if he was feeling frisky enough to use the phone. He said that the idea quite frankly hadn't dawned on him, but he still expected me to be waiting for him when he arrived with the paramedics. I told him that this went above and beyond the call of normal graduate assistant duties, and I expected to be given credit thusly for it. He told me to haul my lazy ass out of bed and get to the hospital before he came to my bed and kicked me out with his one good leg. So I went.
Dr. Balis: I see why you used to call him the gargoyle.
Ms. herald: Yeah, it was pretty amusing in retrospect. I got to play indentured servant to the old coot for most of the afternoon. Even smuggled in some pizza for him. He's fine now, sitting at home in his little smoking jacket with his pipe, watching soap operas.
Dr. Balis: Soap operas?
Ms. Herald: Yeah, who would have thought it, huh? But the man is utterly addicted to All My Children.
Dr. Balis: Truly amazing. So what else is new? How is the new place working out for you?
Ms. Herald: Um...
Dr. Balis: I thought you looked edgy when you came in. Is something wrong with your aunt's house?
Ms. Herald: Yes. No. Well, sort of. I feel so stupid for even thinking this shit...
Dr. Balis: Chris, what is going on?
Ms. Herald: You are going to think I've gone round the bend. Totally off the deep end. Beam me up, Scotty.
Dr. Balis: No, I won't. I know you too well. If you're this nervous, something has got to be going on.
Ms. Herald: Okay. How much do you know about ghosts, Doctor?
Dr. Balis: Um...I saw Beetlejuice...
Ms. Herald: There. I said it. I think the place is haunted. I feel like such a loser saying it, but there it is. I can't think of any other explanation.
Dr. Balis: You don't sound like a loser, Chris. But tell me what's happened.
Ms. Herald: Okay. I moved into the place, and everything was fine. I love the house! It's beautiful, roomy...god, you should have seen Lancelot go nuts having all that space to run around in! He was in kitty wonderland. But a couple days after I moved in, weird things started happening. I would walk into the bathroom, and the water would be running. The standard odd knocking sounds, cool breezes when all the windows were closed. That sort of thing. Once, I even saw Lancelot playing with something or someone that completely wasn't there. I don't know. I'm a cynic by nature, and it's very uncomfortable for me to even suggest such a thing might be possible. But it sounds like every ghost story that I've ever read.
Dr. Balis: Calm down, Chris. I don't think you're crazy. But there could be perfectly normal explanations for all of that.
Ms. Herald: I hope so. Because my friends aren't providing any helpful ideas in this situation. Bessa wanted to perform some sort of a ritual to drive the entity out into the next world. Anders made some pretty graphic comments about vicarious spirit sex that I don't care to repeat; I think he's been watching too much late night television. Malcolm seems to have taken up a sentinel-like position in my living room, protecting me from the scum of the netherworld. I am beginning to think that if I'm not crazy, then all this is going to make me crazy. I hope that there is a reason for all this. Old water pipes come to mind. That was Malcolm's suggestion. But it didn't stop him from loitering around my couch for the better part of an evening when he was supposed to be taking me out on a date.
Dr. Balis: Old pipes could well be a good reason for all that's been happening. So you're dating Malcolm again?
Ms. Herald: Dating being the operative word. I laid a lot of ground rules for our interactions. If he lies to me about one more thing, no matter how small, it's over. No tears, no yelling, no recriminations, just out the door. And we're talking a lot. I basically have to get to know him all over again, since all I knew was a big facade. The thing is, I think I like him better this way. It's all been pretty normal. But normal in a good way, you know?
Dr. Balis: Exactly. I'm glad you're happy, Chris.
Ms. Herald: That's just it. I'm not.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry?
Ms. Herald: I'm not happy. I don't know what it is that's missing, but it was missing even before the wall came down with him, so to speak. He's fun to date, we get along really well now, but I feel like I'm overlooking something. Something important. Something I have missed completely and is going to come up and bite me on the ass when I'm not looking. It reminds me of a guy named Kurt I was hanging around with for awhile when I was a freshman in college.
Dr. Balis: What was this guy like, then?
Ms. Herald: Kurt? Ha, ha, ha. Two words come instantly to mind: delusional schizophrenia. The man was completely around the bend, out to lunch, toys in the attic crazy.
Dr. Balis: Oh, he does sound charming. Go on.
Ms. Herald: Oh-kaaaay...well, for one thing he was a master manipulator. Did you ever talk to someone and know what they were saying was bullshit, but it was such entertaining, poetic bullshit that you just let them go on? That's how it was talking with Kurt. But as I said, he was crazy. I think he owned more weapons than Nazi Germany. He threatened suicide, mentally abused his ex-girlfriend and future wife--those two are the same person, incidentally--and basically attempted to work me over into this little demented club he had going on. But he did have a vivid imagination. I never did determine whether or not he actually believed what he would talk about, but he would go on and on about it. He could be very sweet, romantic, and sexy, but it was all so creepy that after a while I could never feel quite at ease with him. I started seeing someone else, and left him to his delusions. The odd thing is I'm still friends with a couple of people I met through him. Go figure.
Dr. Balis: So what does this have to do with Malcolm?
Ms. Herald: I'm getting to that. Malcolm in some ways at first reminded me of Kurt. He had a similar sort of edge without the wildcards, so to speak. But Malcolm came clean and decided to live in the real world. Actually, he never really lived out of it. Kurt lived in his own little Kurt-realm, which was just fine with me. But as far as Malcolm is concerned, I still feel like there's a piece missing here. Kurt just happened to have a lot of pieces missing, most of them in his brain. Malcolm might not have many pieces missing from his brain, but he does have one missing somewhere. And until that piece is found, I'm just not quite comfortable with him as a potential lifemate yet.
Dr. Balis: I understand. You and Malcolm are starting over, so just take things slowly. It will all work itself out, one way or another.
Ms. Herald: Oh, I hope so. Besides, I'm sure you're tired of hearing Malcolm stories all the time.
Dr. Balis: No, I'm fine. Really.
Ms. Herald: Oh! Hey, urgent news flash, Herr Doktor...Jonny came out, out, out! And Joanne wigged, wigged, wigged. And Dad's divorcing her over it.
Dr. Balis: Oh my. Just when things were starting to settle down...
Ms. Herald: Exactly. Jonny decided that he is seriously in love with Greg, and Greg is in love with him. Jonny's decided to stay in town and go to Berkeley, rather than hike off to the wilds of the frozen north, because Greg is going there, to Berkeley I mean. But Sunday afternoon he sat the parents down and told them the truth. I was there, and so was Monica--who every time I think is an utterly hopeless blonde bimbette, turns around and does something really amazing. Monica and I stood back, waiting for Dad to blow up completely. But he didn't. He stayed cool, looked at Jonny and asked if there was a young man at the moment. Jonny told him yes there was, and Dad just nodded. Then he stands up and--wonder of all fucking wonders--hugs Jonny. Monica and I looked at each other in total stupefication. Dad asked Jonny what he thought Dad was going to say, and Jonny just shugged, looking all teary eyed, and said he hadn't known what to expect. Then Dad told him to be damned careful, because he didn't want to lose Jonny early. Referring to AIDS, I assume, and safe sex. Jonny promised, and Dad turns around and gives me this kind of sheepish grin, and says that he assumed that I'd known about this all along, which of course I did. Meanwhile, Joanne's face is just getting whiter and whiter, and her lips are disappearing, she's pressing them so tightly together. Then the valve blew.
Dr. Balis: What did she say?
Ms. Herald: Oh, Doc, it was awful. Poor Jonny. Some of the things that came out of her mouth were so ugly, that I thought the kid would be scarred emotionally for life. She even tried to hit him, but Dad kept his arm around Jonny the whole time, and finally just looked Joanne right in the eyes and told her to get the hell out of his house, because no one was ever going to speak to his son that way. Especially not the mother who should love him no matter what. Then Dad kind of steered Jonny over to me, and told me to take him back over to my place. He and Joanne had things to discuss. I asked Monica to come along, and she did. So the two of us kind of shared the duty of consoling Jonny over Joanne's reaction. And surprisingly enough, on the eve of our parents divorcing, Monica and I bonded. When I took them home later, Joanne was gone. Her Mercedes wasn't in the garage and there was no trace of either her or her stupid little Pomeranian. Dad said he sent her over to a hotel, and he had no doubt that she would go for blood in the divorce, given his infidelity. Monica was welcome to stay at the house for as long as she wanted, of course, but she was planning to move down to L.A. anyway; she's gotten sick of the dorm life and is getting an apartment there. So it looks like the marriage is really over this time. And Dad's a fucking hero in my eyes.
Dr. Balis: He sounds like quite a man, Chris.
Ms. Herald: Better than I gave him credit for. Anyway, I'm leaving now, Doc. I'm meeting Bessa for drinks this evening, and I'm going to go home and see what the ghost has destroyed first.
Dr. Balis: Sounds delightful. Take care, and I'll see you next week.
Ms. Herald: Shit, I forgot my journal. I'm sorry, Doc.
Dr. Balis: I'll live without it for a week. But remember it next time.
Ms. Herald: Sure thing. Bye.
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