Transcript of 4th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Helen Gregory, Thursday, August 22, 1996 at 2 pm.

Ms. Gregory: Hello, Doctor. And how are you? I'm having the most wonderful day myself. Simply splendid. Couldn't be better unless the sky broke itself open like a melon to slop its pulp in great watery fist-sized scoops down upon this teeming city. What a day that would be, the streets streaming meaningfully 'neath a viscose stew, their fires all extinguished, all extinguished the fires of malice, plotting and machination. No more tiny monsters and articulate wallpaper. No more conspiracies swelling up in the boiling asphalt like so many pregnant bellies. Such a day might be better than this one, but still methinks it would be a close match. And look at that! You put in a dead-bolt.
Dr. Balis: I'm just trying to make you feel more comfortable. I'm glad to hear you're in such a good mood, Ms. Gregory. Is there any specific reason for your happiness?
Ms. Gregory: Oh, yes! There are many reasons, as usual. Every state of mind, every emotion is motivated by a complex network of interacting factors, wouldn't you say?
Dr. Balis: Yes, I would say that, or something similar. Now, do you think you could explain some of the reasons for me?
Ms. Gregory: I thought you'd never ask. First of all, I'm excited because this morning I waited for Calvin to go off on one of his prurient adventures through the seedy underbelly of North Beach. And he thinks I don't know the impetus behind his diurnal peregrinations, his concupiscence for all manner of perversions including algolagnia, sodomy, coprophilia and a particular thirst for auto-stimulation, especially in certain establishments of dubious character. He truly is a disgusting man, Doctor. The very thought of him flagellating himself in those peep show booths nauseates me deeply. One morning some years ago I followed him out on one of his walks to satisfy my curiosity. He went into the seediest of establishments and was gone for some 45 minutes as I sipped a cup of tea across the street keeping one eye on The Chronicle and the other on the orificial door of that den of unbridled iniquity. 45 minutes he was gone! 45 minutes ogling at the furry nether parts of those girls, those poor young girls twisting and gyrating their nubile globes and moons as he grunted, undoubtedly pressing his piggish face against the greasy plexiglass, shoving in quarter after palm-sweaty quarter. 45 minutes and then he emerged running his fingers through that oily hair and shuffled off down the street, slope-shouldered and bestial in his coat.
Dr. Balis: And how did you feel?
Ms. Gregory: Disgusted more than anything else.
Dr. Balis: Can you expand on that? Why do you think you felt disgusted?
Ms. Gregory: Because of the humiliating degradation suffered by those poor girls, mainly. Most of them barely over eighteen and trying to put themselves through school. That's no way to nurture the self, attempting to feed the mind by degrading the body.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Gregory: And to think of my husband helping to make it all possible.
Dr. Balis: Do you think you might also be upset because Calvin feels the need to turn to sources other than yourself for sexual gratification?
Ms. Gregory: God no! What a ridiculous thought.
Dr. Balis: Why do you think it ridiculous?
Ms. Gregory: Because he is a man.
Dr. Balis: I don't follow you.
Ms. Gregory: Then perhaps you shouldn't follow. Perhaps you should move along beside me. That is, perhaps we should travel together.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry, Ms. Gregory. You lost me there. I don't understand what you're talking about.
Ms. Gregory: Calvin and I haven't been intimate with one another in any normative connubial manner for quite some time. Not that I think it's any of your business, young man.
Dr. Balis: If you don't feel comfortable discussing such private matters, I understand. We can talk about something else if you'd like.
Ms. Gregory: I didn't say I felt uncomfortable. I said it's none of your business.
Dr. Balis: Okay.
Ms. Gregory: You know Doctor, every day I wonder why. It's as if my brain were a television set with basic cable. And a movie channel or two, of course. I do enjoy the cinema, don't you?
Dr. Balis: Well, yes. I do.
Ms. Gregory: When one watches television, one is only able to view one channel at a time even though all the other channels carry on with their programming. One can only select a single channel out of all those different programs and advertisements and movies, all those myriad stories unfolding simultaneously. All you have to do is change stations to shift into a different world, turn the page and find yourself in middle of a different story. Am I making myself clear, Doctor?
Dr. Balis: Yes, I believe so. Please continue.
Ms. Gregory: Well, that's the way I see myself. A Helen of myriad stories. Sometimes I lose control and the channels start turning by themselves as if someone else has a more powerful remote than I do. Then I have to try to piece each story together from what few fleeting scraps of fabric I have been permitted to examine.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Gregory: But there is always one program playing somewhere beneath the layers of noise, the cacophony of multiplicative narrative, the absurd discordant music of incongruity. Always, beneath it all, there is one continuous thread upon which I have grown to depend.
Dr. Balis: And what is that?
Ms. Gregory: Why.
Dr. Balis: Pardon?
Ms. Gregory: Why. It's as if one of my brain's stations is perpetually asking the question why. And why him. And why still after everything. Every day a part of me over and over again wondering for thirty years why why why why why like an engine's thrusting pistons accumulating heat, the energy spent finally turning the axles and forcing the wheels to spin, asphalt disappearing down the famished gullet of night itself as the question sputters forward with increasing momentum why why why toward the profoundest center of blackness. Enigma. Anomaly. Paradox. And finally the dark starving core of ignorance itself. Why. Why, Helen. Why did you marry that man? Why did you marry?
Dr. Balis: Hmm. I see.
Ms. Gregory: And still to this day, to this unfolding moment and this one and this with the sizzle of neurons and synapses, the inscrutable concussion of engines, still I wonder why with each road driven, intestinal and dark and unbelieving, always waiting for something to step out in front of the car and for myself to step on the brake pedal, skidding to a stop inches before an animal I cannot identify because it changes its form, protean and monstrous, none of its assumed shapes resembling anything I have ever seen before in nature shows or read about in books and I'm not even certain that it is an animal at all because it is nothing I can name, standing there wide-eyed in the headlights dripping and melting into each nameless shape or shapeless name and then somehow I would know the answers. Then somehow I would know why I married Calvin Gregory and even perhaps why I am still married to Calvin Gregory although I haven't touched the man, although I haven't touched "man," in over twelve and a half years. But never has anything stepped in front of that steady engine of a question. Never have I even glimpsed a flank or a hoof or the bewildered and knowledgeable glimmer of an eye. The answer, I think, goes beyond roads and words and ears and eyes. The answer goes deeper than bones, deeper than the shadows of bones now long since rotten in the earth. Deeper even than the questions posed long before the knowledge of bones.
Dr. Balis: Ms. Gregory, I don't understand what you're getting at.
Ms. Gregory: The visitors.
Dr. Balis: The visitors? What about them? Have they been back?
Ms. Gregory: They told me to marry Calvin Gregory. And for thirty years they have refused to disclose their reasons.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Do you suppose we could shift gears here?
Ms. Gregory: Of course.
Dr. Balis: When you arrived today, you were extremely excited about something and you never explained to me what you were excited about.
Ms. Gregory: The letter.
Dr. Balis: Has Matthew written you another letter?
Ms. Gregory: No, although he will soon. I can feel the warmth beginning.
Dr. Balis: Well then, what about the letter?
Ms. Gregory: I found it.
Dr. Balis: Oh?
Ms. Gregory: Yes. I already knew where it was because I could feel it. I could feel all of them. I never felt compelled to look because I knew what they said, and Calvin is a shrewd man. His booby traps are virtually undetectable.
Dr. Balis: I see. So why did you decide to look for them today?
Ms. Gregory: You didn't believe me last week. I could tell. I'm beginning to be able to read you too. Just like my son. As if you too were part of me. My body. My flash and bulb. And because you didn't believe me, I began to doubt myself. The greatest possible weakness of an agent. But those letters were there in the desk drawer beneath the false bottom. Just where I knew they were. Just where I felt them.
Dr. Balis: And you were excited to find the letters because their existence validated your suspicion?
Ms. Gregory: And my readings. I knew what all the letters said before I read them.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Gregory: There are six letters all together so far. Would you like to read them?
Dr. Balis: It would certainly be helpful.
Ms. Gregory: I have decided to allow you to read one letter a week, because you finally put a real lock on that door. And I have decided to allow you to read only one letter a week because you dared not to believe. I will give you the most recent letter first. You can read them backward chronologically.
Dr. Balis: That would be fine, Ms. Gregory. I appreciate the fact that you trust me to read Matthew's letters. It would also be helpful if I could speak with Calvin. Do you think you could persuade him to make an appointment with me?
Ms. Gregory: No. He would never listen to me, never follow my advice. And even if he would come in, it wouldn't do anybody any good.
Dr. Balis: Why do you say that?
Ms. Gregory: Calvin doesn't speak anymore.
Dr. Balis: At all?
Ms. Gregory: To my knowledge the man hasn't spoken anything at all, not as much as a grunt, to any man, woman, or child in more than five years.
Dr. Balis: I see. Do you have any idea why?
Ms. Gregory: No.
Dr. Balis: That's all right. I'll see you next week, okay? That'd be August 29th at 2 pm.
Ms. Gregory: Doctor?
Dr. Balis: Yes?
Ms. Gregory: Don't you want to know the other reason for my exuberance when I arrived today?
Dr. Balis: Of course.
Ms. Gregory: Because I'm getting close to cracking the code.
Dr. Balis: The visitors' code?
Ms. Gregory: No. Silicon Impressions. I'm definitely getting somewhere on my mission. I'm beginning to decipher the first layers of the riddle. Goodbye, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Ms. Gregory.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session
Button to Helen Gregory Correspondence Letter Written by Matthew Gregory

Button to Helen Gregory's Transcripts Transcripts of Helen Gregory's Therapy Sessions
Button to Helen Gregory's Patient File Helen Gregory's Patient File

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