Transcript of 3rd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Helen Gregory, Thursday, August 15, 1996 at 2 pm.

Dr. Balis: Good afternoon, Ms. Gregory.
Ms. Gregory: He has written me a letter.
Dr. Balis: Who has written you a letter?
Ms. Gregory: He has written me a letter and Calvin has it but he won't show it to me or even tell me about it because he thinks I don't know that it has been received, or that it was sent, or that it even exists at all.
Dr. Balis: Ms. Gregory, if you could just slow down a little, I...
Ms. Gregory: But I don't need to read it because I already know what it says. And he thinks I don't know that he has it hidden beneath the false bottom of his desk drawer along with all of the other letters sent and received these months, but I know more than that. I know why he won't show me the letter because I know what it says, and that is why I feel as if I've been penned in between the lines of some story like inscrutable marginalia, or as if I'm a cat the entire world thinks has been spayed, slinking around as if I have just defecated on the rug or regurgitated all over the goose-down pillow of the man who owns me, trying to conceal the suture on my shaved flank which is only a wound on the surface, painful and ugly but otherwise entirely inconsequential, or why the only way I describe to myself what I feel is by describing something entirely different and believing that other unrelated thing somehow articulates what I am feeling because there are no actual words that carry any meaning at all beyond the margins of books and lectures ostensibly intending to teach us that which there is yet no language to express, even the word "feeling" itself, because what I am experiencing has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the nerves beneath my skin, or any of my four other senses for that matter, and so I wonder if what I am doing is actually feeling or anything even remotely related. By the way, do you have any pets of your own, Doctor?
Dr. Balis: No I don't. But as I was trying to say...
Ms. Gregory: Say. Yes. That's it. That's what I'm trying to say.
Dr. Balis: What are you trying to say?
Ms. Gregory: I'm trying to say that he has sent me a letter and I know what the letter says although I don't know what words are used or in what manner the sentiments are expressed, or even in what color of ink the words are written on what type of paper.
Dr. Balis: Ms. Gregory?
Ms. Gregory: Yes, Doctor?
Dr. Balis: I think you're upset. Do you think you could try to slow down a little bit so that we can backtrack? I'm having difficulty understanding what you are talking about.
Ms. Gregory: I'm sorry. Terribly sorry. It just makes me so upset that the anger bubbles up inside and out of my mouth in a projectile stream of acrimony.
Dr. Balis: What is it that's upsetting you?
Ms. Gregory: That he hides my letters. And that he stalks around the most forsaken and dangerous neighborhoods of the city at all hours doing god-knows-what with his sour face and his oily hair and that he won't say anything any more to anyone.
Dr. Balis: Who are you talking about? Matthew?
Ms. Gregory: No, not Matthew! How dare you compare him to that man?
Dr. Balis: To which man?
Ms. Gregory: Calvin. How dare you compare my only child to Calvin.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry, but I didn't intend to make a comparison, Ms. Gregory. I'm just trying to understand you. Who is Calvin?
Ms. Gregory: My husband.
Dr. Balis: I see. And you suspect that he has been hiding your letters?
Ms. Gregory: Yes. He takes them out of the mail while I am sleeping and he hides them from me and he thinks that I don't know.
Dr. Balis: And how do you know? Have you found letters addressed to you in his possession?
Ms. Gregory: No. I haven't found them.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Gregory: I haven't found them because I haven't looked. And I don't need to look because I know what the letters say and I know they have been written.
Dr. Balis: Do you suspect that these missing letters are from some specific person?
Ms. Gregory: No. I don't suspect. I know. They are from Matthew.
Dr. Balis: Why do you think he's doing this?
Ms. Gregory: Doing what?
Dr. Balis: Why do you think Calvin is hiding your son's letters?
Ms. Gregory: Because he's afraid.
Dr. Balis: Afraid of what?
Ms. Gregory: Of me.
Dr. Balis: I see. Can you tell me more about these feelings? Why do you think your husband is afraid of you?
Ms. Gregory: Hmm. That is a question I've been unable to answer satisfactorily, although it has occupied much cogitation. There are no easy answers. And even if there were, I doubt they could be articulated in any known language. I don't know why Calvin is afraid of me. And I don't know why because there are too many reasons.
Dr. Balis: Too many reasons? Do you think you could talk about these reasons for me?
Ms. Gregory: Well, perhaps he is afraid of me because of what I know. And perhaps because of what he has done and seen and what his father before him did and saw and what nonetheless he refuses to believe. And perhaps he is afraid of me because I am a woman. And because I am a woman who has had a past he doesn't understand, a past that can't be explained to him for reasons that can't be explained. And because this past carries forth into the present as I engage in activities in which he shares no interest or comprehension. And because I gave birth to the boy. And because he can't comprehend birth or motherhood or procreation, can only comprehend the raw physicalities engendered by his own hands. And perhaps he's afraid of me because of my mind, because of what I know, because I do understand these things which he does not.
Dr. Balis: Do you think by hiding the letters, he's attempting to keep you ignorant about Matthew's well-being?
Ms. Gregory: That may be part of the reason.
Dr. Balis: How long have you been married to Calvin, Ms. Gregory?
Ms. Gregory: Oh, I don't know. For years, really. Let me see. We were in school together at N.Y.U. That's where we met. Calvin was different then. We both were, I suppose. So many years ago. We were married a couple of years after I graduated and that was in 1964. My god. I guess we've been married for thirty years. Thirty years this year.
Dr. Balis: Well, congratulations. It's quite an accomplishment to stay married for thirty years.
Ms. Gregory: I hate the man. I've always hated him. Mutual hate and fear seem to be the only things we manage to agree upon.
Dr. Balis: Why do you hate him?
Ms. Gregory: Because he is afraid of me and always has been although he's never had the courage to tell me so, brooding behind closed doors, lurking through the halls like some sort of lugubrious troll denying passage without first extracting his tithe of flesh, his pound of emotional remuneration. And because of his dirty ways, his physical shortcomings and his vindictive spirit. He is a repugnant and evil man.
Dr. Balis: Why haven't you divorced him?
Ms. Gregory: I can't divorce him.
Dr. Balis: Why not? You've expressed nothing but animosity.
Ms. Gregory: Because he somehow managed to uncover enough information about my past to be dangerous. He knows I was an agent, and I think he knows that I'm in hiding. The risk is too great to both myself and Matthew. And something else.
Dr. Balis: What?
Ms. Gregory: I need him.
Dr. Balis: When you first arrived this afternoon, you were extremely upset about a letter you suspect Calvin of hiding.
Ms. Gregory: Yes. I've been very worried about Matthew because a few weeks ago I felt something in my sleep.
Dr. Balis: You felt something?
Ms. Gregory: Yes. It was as if someone was sitting on my chest and trying to tell me something but no words were coming out, only this radiating pressure. I thought it might have been the visitors again, but when I opened my eyes, nothing was there. Then I heard Matthew's voice coming down the hall, calling me, and he was frightened of something, his voice small and distant as if he was still a little boy except it also sounded like he was talking to me from the other end of a very long pipe. I can't really explain it. I called out to him then to ask him what was wrong, but of course he wasn't there in the apartment and he couldn't hear me. Or if he could hear me, he didn't respond.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. And how did this experience affect you?
Ms. Gregory: I knew that something had happened to Matthew and that he was trying to tell me. Trying to ask for my help.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Gregory: And then, when the letter came, I knew. I always know. It's like a warmth in my spine that increases as the letter approaches, traveling over the sea. And by the time it arrives, I can feel what it says in my bones. And Calvin thinks I don't know, because how I know is something he will never be able to understand.
Dr. Balis: Have you communicated with Matthew recently?
Ms. Gregory: We are always communicating.
Dr. Balis: I mean have you spoken to him on the phone? Is he all right?
Ms. Gregory: Oh no. We don't speak on the phone. Lines can bugged and tapped. Calls can be traced. He writes me letters and I send him my thoughts.
Dr. Balis: I see. Well we're almost out of time, but before you go I need to know a bit about your medical history for my records.
Ms. Gregory: Yes, that's fine.
Dr. Balis: Have you ever been prescribed medication for any sort of psychological or behavioral disorder?
Ms. Gregory: No. Never.
Dr. Balis: Okay. Have you ever been diagnosed with schizophrenia or any other mental illness?
Ms. Gregory: God no. I've never even been to see a therapist before. I've been afraid to tell my secrets.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. If I was to prescribe some medication for you, would you be willing to take it?
Ms. Gregory: No. Heavens no. I need to keep my wits about me. There is so much trouble and danger. The world is filled with dangers you can't even imagine, Doctor. And there is nothing wrong with me. Do you understand?
Dr. Balis: The medication will just help you to view the world as less threatening. I wish you would give this a chance.
Ms. Gregory: Perhaps it will help me view the world as less threatening, but it will do nothing to lessen the threat. Then they would find me for certain. I thought I could trust you, young man. I thought we had an understanding. I need you to help me sort things out. So many details. So many overlapping layers. It's hard to keep track.
Dr. Balis: I'd like to help you in any way I can.
Ms. Gregory: Yes. Then I'll see you next week, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Okay. Next week.
Ms. Gregory: And Doctor?
Dr. Balis: Yes?
Ms. Gregory: I do wish you would have a dead-bolt installed in this door. You never know who might be lurking in the halls. Oh, and by the way, do you still want to see my journal?
Dr. Balis: Absolutely. It would be very helpful.
Ms. Gregory: I brought along a few pages. Here.
Dr. Balis: Thank you. I'll see you next week, okay? That's Thursday, August 22 at 2 pm. And I'll see about the dead-bolt.
Ms. Gregory: Goodbye, Doctor.
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