Where Threads Come Loose
"The Weird Obsessions"

The Recording Script

• Written and directed by Christopher Bahn. Copyright 1996.
• Episode 2, 1997 Edition, of the radiodrama series Where Threads Come Loose
• Originally broadcast on KUOM-AM. Original broadcast date: January 1994.

• Herr Professor Doktor Helmut Corpuscle
• Billy Wilson, a psychiatric patient
• Marsha, Billy's girlfriend
• Reporter 1
• Reporter 2
• Reporter 3
• Guard
• Patient

Author's Notes
• Although I think this episode isn't as good as some of ones we did later on, being my first show and the longest piece of fiction I'd ever written at the time, I liked Corpuscle's character well enough to bring him back for the Jules & K story "The Tussle With Corpuscle."
SCENE I: The house of Marsha, Billy's girlfriend
(Loud chewing sounds fade in at the start of the scene. Eventually it becomes obvious that they are coming from Billy, but at first it's just an unexplained strange noise. Billy's chewing grows louder as he becomes agitated, so it makes him more difficult to understand.)

(SFX: Knocking. Door creak.)

Marsha: Oh, Billy, it's you. Come in.

Billy: Hello, Marsha. I came as soon as I could. You sounded pretty frantic over the phone.

Marsha: Yes... Perhaps you should sit down.

Billy: Thank you. Would you like a stick of gum?

Marsha: (firmly) No.

Billy: You sure? It's good gum.

Marsha: I said no. I have something to tell you. I found --

Billy: (he desperately wants Marsha to take his gum) It's broccoli-flavored!

Marsha: That's repulsive!

Billy: Yes, it tastes terrible.

Marsha: Why are you chewing it then?

Billy: Do you know how hard it was to find this? It's such a rare flavor!

Marsha: Oh, Billy, why can't you be like normal boyfriends?

Billy: I had to get this imported from France. You can't get it in the U.S., not legally anyway, but I found this importing company --

Marsha: Billy, stop it. I found that thing in your attic.

Billy: What thing?

Marsha: You know what thing, Billy. There's an enormous pile of used chewing gum up there.

Billy: Oh, that! That's just my gum collection.

Marsha: That would explain why it's sorted according to weight and consistency. Billy, I knew you were eccentric when I met you, but this is ... too much.

Billy: Come on. Everybody's got a hobby.

Marsha: It is not normal to collect gum, Billy.

Billy: I haven't thrown away a single piece I've chewed in almost five years. I've always been fond of gum, you know that. I couldn't bear to part with any of it. It was like family. Sugarless reminded me of my mother, bubble gum reminded me of father. And this broccoli gum I'm chewing now?

Marsha: What about it?

Billy: It reminds me of you, darling.

Marsha: Spit it out!

Billy: What?

Marsha: Spit it out!

Billy: But why? It's gum!

Marsha: Spit it out right now or I'm leaving you and never coming back!

(SFX: Spit. Gum hits the floor with an audible GLORP. Billy was chewing a huge wad, apparently.)

Billy: Baby, don't leave me! You're ... you're ... bubblicious! When I'm with you, I double my pleasure and double my fun!

Marsha: You have a problem, Billy. You need professional help. You're addicted to chewing gum.

Billy: I can control it!

Marsha: No you can't. Why did you lose your job last month?

Billy: The boss was a martinet, he was too controlling, he --

Marsha: He was being driven crazy by the incessant smacking sound of your gum-chewing habit! It was interfering with your job performance, Billy. I don't know why I didn't see it earlier.

Billy: (sobs) Yes. It's terrible. I can't stop chewing it. God knows I've tried to quit, I've tried SO MANY times and nothing worked, not even when I tried to start smoking. I just got addicted to nicotine gum instead. All day long, all night long, I dream of gum -- Gum, gum, gum, juicy wet piles of it for me to play with. I want to wallow in gum, stick it in my hair and rub myself all over my bedposts and the underside of my desk. I want to be stuck to the bottom of somebody's shoes and stepped on over and over until I'm scraped off and thrown away, PUNISH ME MARSHA --

Marsha: Billy, I've made an appointment for you with a psychiatrist. Dr. Helmut Corpuscle. He's a specialist.

Billy: Can he help me?

Marsha: God only knows, Billy. Here's the address. It's over on 27th Avenue where the Burger King used to be.

Billy: It must be a new clinic then.

Marsha: Yes, as a matter of fact, today is the first day it's open. Dr. Corpuscle is giving a press conference at noon, and your appointment is at 12:03. You'd better get going.

Billy: Goodbye, Marsha. Don't worry, dear, they'll find a cure for me -- I'll come back to you soon, my love.

Marsha: Pick your gum off the floor when you leave.

SCENE II: The Corpuscle Institute
(Billy is here listening)

Corpuscle: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. My name is Herr Professor Doktor Helmut Corpuscle. I have called you today to announce the opening of my new psychiatric institution, ze Corpuscle Institute for Ze Advanced Studieren of Very Strange People. Are zere any questions from members of ze press?

(Babble of reporters shouting "Doctor Corpuscle! Doctor Corpuscle!")

Corpuscle: Yes, zere is a question down in front.

Reporter 1: (snide) Doctor Corpuscle... or should I say, Jimmy "The Weasel?"

Corpuscle: Zank you, next question --

Reporter 1: How long did it take you to pick up that terrible German accent? You're not German, you're from New Jersey.

Corpuscle: Ha, ha, you must have escaped from one of my wards. Guards! Bring zis man back to his cell!

(SFX: scuffling)

Reporter 1: (voice fades as he's dragged away) They kicked you out after your last psychiatry scam, you quack! I know you're planning to con the good people of this town, and that's not gonna happen if I have anything to do about it --

Corpuscle: Sedate him! (SFX: loud thud) Zank you, boys! Are there any other questions?

Reporter 2: Dr. Corpuscle, I'm from Happy News, Channel 7. Will you be treating any cute puppies in your clinic?

Corpuscle: Um... Yes.

Reporter 2: Oh, that's wonderful.

Corpuscle: Thank you. Next question.

Reporter 3: Dr. Corpuscle, what is the purpose of this new treatment center? Doesn't the world have enough places like this?

Corpuscle: As long as there are people with problems and a decent credit rating, there will never be enough centers like mine. As for its pupose, the Corpuscle Institute is founded on the belief that other methods of treating addictions do not go to the heart of the problem.

Reporter 3: The heart of the problem?

Corpuscle: Yes. Let me explain. You have heard of Freud's concept of the sex drive?

Reporter 3: Sure. Everyone knows about the sex drive.

Corpuscle: Oh, really? You are a sick one, Mister.

Reporter 3: What?

Corpuscle: I suppose it gives you a lot of filthy pleasure to zink zat everybody else has a zex drive.

Reporter 3: But --

Corpuscle: I do not have time to deal with this kind of sick and perverted psychosis. You vill haff to find another psychiatrist.

Reporter 3: What are you talking about?

Corpuscle: You heard me. I will not treat you, you maladjusted freak.

Reporter 3: Dr. Corpuscle, I'm a reporter.

Corpuscle: (aghast) What? How did you get in here?

Reporter 3: You called a press conference.

Corpuscle: I deny everything! How was I supposed to know that crack cocaine was illegal in this country?

Reporter 3: Sir, you're opening a new treatment center.

(long pause)

Corpuscle: Oh. So I am.

Reporter 3: What's all this about crack?

Corpuscle: Oh, nothing, just a Freudian slip. It means nothing.

Reporter 3: (no trace of irony) Anything you say, doctor!

Corpuscle: What was I talking about?

Reporter 2: The sex drive.

Corpuscle: What, another one? I'm surrounded by perverts!

Reporter 2: Doctor...

Corpuscle: Hmmph. Anyway, after Freud discovered the zex drive, he felt zat there were other, more basic human drives zat came from even deeper in ze human psyche.

Reporter 3: More basic?

Corpuscle: Yes. Prrrimal, one might even say, instinctual drives which ve humans have inherited from ze lower animals. Sick and twisted, they are. I cannot tell you how it makes my skin crawl to think about zem.

Reporter 2: What drives, doctor Corpuscle?

Corpuscle: Well, Freud spent the last few years of his life attempting to discover the primal drives, but he met mit no success. But I haff carried on his work, and I am proud to say that I have found what Freud was seeking! I haff incontrovertible proof zat Freud's theory is correct.

Reporter 2: What proof, Dr. Corpuscle?

Corpuscle: I vill show you presently. First, a bit of background is necessary. Ze term for zese drives in German is "Die Anfangenheutemittwochdonnerstagschlangemeisterkomischebesessenheiten."

Reporter 3: Could you spell that?

Corpuscle: No.

Reporter 3: Well, what does it mean?

Corpuscle: It does not translate properly into English. You could call it the "Weird Obsessions." After all, it is the title of this particular radio show. That should count for something. At any rate, I can explain ze term by showing you ze results of ze experiments I performed to prove ze existence of Die Anfangenheutemittwochdonnerstagschlangemeisterkomischebesessenheiten. Here, look at these cages.

Reporter 2: Oooh, cute mice!

Corpuscle: Yes, cute mice. What do you notice about them?

Reporter 2: They're all dead.

Corpuscle: Exactly!

Reporter 2: But why?

Corpuscle: You may notice the tape wrapped tightly around the head of each mouse.

Reporter 3: Why, yes! So there is.

Corpuscle: I did zat myself. I vanted to see vhat the mice would do if I cut off their supply of air.

Reporter 3: And what happened?

Corpuscle: Ze most amazing behavior! Ze mice, every single one of them, became extremely frantic. Zey scurried at random around ze cage, zey clawed and clawed at ze tape. (laughs heartily) But I vas too smart for them! I had wrapped it too tightly for them to remove it mit their puny claws. Ha ha ha! Never have I seen such an entertaining sight. I must admit, I performed many, many more of zese experiments than vas strictly necessary, but I could not help myself.

Reporter 3: Of course.

Corpuscle: (becomes serious again) But do you know something... This frantic state never lasted very long. Only a few minutes at most. I was astonished to find that many of my experimentees quite literally were unable to survive the oxygen deprivation.

All reporters: (flabbergasted) Really?

Corpuscle: I am not yanking on your daisy chain. I performed many similar tests depriving rats of food and water, and although the animals lived for a longer period, every one of them still died. Obviously, these drives are much stronger in humans than the sex drive. It's almost as though things like air and water are somehow life-sustaining.

Reporter 3: But... they are, aren't they?

Corpuscle: (laughs) Ha ha, you silly reporters know nothing about science. My experiment proves that there are basic addictions which all humans share -- addictions that must be cured if there is any hope of being a completely self-actualized, life-of-the-party kind of person.

Reporter 3: What do you mean?

Corpuscle: The Weird Obsessions! We are all junkies. We are all psychologically addicted to food, air, and water.

All reporters: What?

Corpuscle: Ze oxygen drive, zat is what I am explaining to you. The majority of human beings are slaves to their lungs, living lives of quiet, desperate inhalation! Ve are addicted to the very air we breathe -- it is not simply atmosphere, it is like a giant monkey on our backs! And we must beat this monkey off! Ve must spank it! Spank ze monkey until it gets off!

Reporter 2: Control yourself! This is a family show!

Corpuscle: Excuse me.

Reporter 2: Sir, do you mind if we cut the press conference short?

Corpuscle: Why?

Reporter 2: It's almost time for Barney the Dinosaur!

Reporter 3: It is?! Oh my god, look at the time!

Corpuscle: Alright. Zank you, ladies and gentlemen of the press, zis concludes ze press conference.

(SFX: Reporters talking among themselves, some of them humming the "Barney" theme, and the sounds of their feet as they leave. The next few lines are said over this effect.)

Billy: Doctor Corpuscle!

Corpuscle: Who said that? I said the conference vas over! Can you not obey orders?

Billy: Doctor Corpuscle, I need your help!

Corpuscle: Young man, you are not a reporter, are you.

Billy: No, sir. I have an appointment. I hoped that perhaps you could help me. (sniffs) Hey, is that Juicy Fruit I smell on your breath?

Corpuscle: (puzzled) No...

Billy: Bubblicious?

Corpuscle: No.

Billy: Chiclets, then. It's got to be Chiclets. Let me have some.

Corpuscle: I am not chewing any gum, young man.

Billy: Are you sure?

Corpuscle: Of course I am sure. Do you think I would have gum in my mouth and not know it?

Billy: But I smell your gum, sir! I can usually smell other people's gum from a good ten feet away. Can I have just half a stick? Pleeeease?

Corpuscle: I am not chewing any gum, young man.

Billy: You're lying! I know you have gum!

Corpuscle: I have no gum! Take your hand off me!

Billy: Gum! I need gum, I crave it! I must have gum!

Corpuscle: Young man, if you cannot control yourself, I will have you removed. Zis kind of behavior is completely inappropriate. You act as if you belong in a madhouse!

Billy: Just let me smell the wrapper. Please, I beg you! I'm on my knees! Please, please, please, oh god, oh god.... (sobs) Help me, doctor, I'm out of control.

Corpuscle: So I am seeing.

Billy: I need treatment, doctor. I've got a ... a weird obsession.

Corpuscle: Zat is an understatement... At any rate, you've come to the right place. I specialize in deviant behaviors -- other people's, that is, not my own. Und ze kinkier, ze better!

Billy: Do you really think I'm worthy, sir?

Corpuscle: (laughs) Of course! I cannot pass up such an opportunity. My boy, you zeem to be the first known case of addiction to chewing gum known to modern psychiatry. If I can determine vhat terrible misfortune happened to you to make you such a sniveling, wretched excuse for a vell-adjusted human being, zen it is entirely possible zat I can follow in ze footsteps of ze most distinguished of my colleagues!

Billy: You mean by pushing forward the boundaries of pure science while simultaneously easing the suffering of tormented millions?

Corpuscle: No... I can become extremely rich. What the hell are you talking about, pure science? Where's the profit in that?

Billy: Forget it. But you think there's a cure?

Corpuscle: Vell, if that happens, it happens. Don't get your hopes up too high. Vhat, you zink the world should be revolving around you?

Billy: Sorry, doctor.

Corpuscle: Just remember who's wearing the pants around this asylum. And it is not you. You wear no pants here. You are pantsless. All day long, I am having to deal mit patients like you -- (mocking voice) "Oh, cure me, doctor! I need help, doctor! I don't want my legs amputated, doctor!" Vhat about my needs?! Doesn't anybody see zat I am hurting too? Do you not see that my inner child is crying out to be loved?

Billy: I guess I never thought about it before...

Corpuscle: And you can stop thinking about it right now. You are dangerously close to violating the objectivity between ze doctor and ze patient. I could sue you, you know. You'll never practice psychiatry is zis town again!

Billy: But you're the psychiatrist, Dr. Corpuscle!

Corpuscle: (pause) So I am. Vell. Very interesting. Ze first thing you vill have to do to cure your addiction to chewing gum is to remove your ability to obtain any.

Billy: How do I do that?

Corpuscle: You must immediately give me your wallet and credit cards. Zis way, you will not be able to buy any gum. And give me your checkbook, but if you would, please sign several of the checks. I vill cash them and use ze money for your treatment. (significant pause) You realize that zis treament will be somewhat ... expensive?

Billy: I'll pay any amount you want me to, doctor! I need help!

Corpuscle: Very good, my boy. You have made the crucial first step towards recovery. Kommen sie mit me. I have some forms for you to fill out, und zen I vill show you to your cell.

SCENE III: The next day. Billy's cell.
(SFX: It's a communal cell. There are several people groaning and clanking their chains in the background, and there's also piped-in elevator music. Both continue until Billy and Dr. Corpuscle leave the cell.)

(SFX: Keys rattling & turning in metal lock. Loud door creak.)

Corpuscle: Good morning, Billy. Did you enjoy your gruel?

Billy: No, it was terrible.

Corpuscle: Good, good! You are showing progress.

Billy: What?

Corpuscle: It is all part of the treatment. You have noticed that in the week you've been here, I have been slowly giving you less and less food to eat.

Billy: Yes, and I'm starving. What's in this gruel, anyway? It tastes like wet newspaper.

Corpuscle: That's exactly what it is. I am weaning you off nutrition. Every calorie you put into your body brings you one step closer to eternal damnation. Besides, this way you are considerably cheaper for me to feed. You should be ashamed of yourself for being addicted to such nefarious substances. Would you like a cigarette?

Billy: Uh... no thanks.

Corpuscle: Suit yourself. (SFX: Match lights)

Billy: Listen, doctor, I'm hungry... and I don't have any gum!

Corpuscle: Oh, don't thank me now. Here, let me unlock your chains. (SFX: Unlocking and chain-clank) Come with me, Billy, I wish to show you my laboratory. It will help you understand my methods of treatment.

Billy: Sure, doctor.

(SFX: Walking, then creak of door closing, then more walking)

Corpuscle: My lab is in here. (SFX: Another door opens. There are bubbling noises and some sort of machinery running in the background. For some unexplained reason, there is also quite audibly the sound of chickens clucking.) Here, let me shut off these sound effects so we can hear each other better. (SFX: Effects stop) Unlike many psychiatrists, I do not shrink from research. Especially if it involves the otherwise needless mistreatment of animals.

Billy: It's very impressive, doctor.

Corpuscle: Here I haff made many important discoveries, Billy.

Billy: Like what?

Corpuscle: Well... for instance, this!

Billy: Ouch! You pinched me!

Corpuscle: Ha ha ha! Yes I did! Ze pain reflex! When subjects experience negative or harmful stimuli, a message is relayed from the nerve cells to the brain saying "Hey, there is something hurting me!" Zis message is known among you laymen as "pain." It vas a wonderful discovery!

Billy: What was so great about it? I thought scientists knew how nerves worked years ago.

Corpuscle: Yes, but until I did the experiments I had no idea how much I enjoyed inflicting pain on others.

Billy: Have you made any progress on my case, doctor?

Corpuscle: Yes, I have. I have excellent news for you, Billy. I zink I haff diagnosed just vhat it is that is making you such a weird and unpleasant person.

Billy: What is it?

Corpuscle: You are not addicted to chewing gum at all!

Billy: I'm not? Then why is there a five-hundred-pound wad of it back at my apartment?

Corpuscle: Your problem is much more complex. Much deeper within your psyche. It will almost certainly be significantly more expensive to cure.

Billy: But there is a cure?

Corpuscle: You were at my press conference, Billy. I think you know what your true problem is.

Billy: You -- you don't mean --

Corpuscle: Yes!

Billy: Oh, it can't be true!

Corpuscle: It is, it is. You must face the awful truth right in the face. You must be willing to stare at the ugliness inside your soul. If I have to look at the ugliness of your face, it's the least you can do.

Billy: My ... my gum addiction is really a symptom of my addiction to breathing air.

Corpuscle: Zat is essentially correct.

Billy: I'm such an awful person.

Corpuscle: Yes, I noticed that too.

Billy: You're a genius, doctor! I never would have realized the truth myself.

Corpuscle: You vere obviously in a state of denial. Besides, you don't have a PhD like I do.

Billy: Thank heavens I have you to think for me. But how did you decide this?

Corpuscle: I vill not answer that.

Billy: But --

Corpuscle: It is your turn to answer me -- quid pro quo! After your father's death you were orphaned. You were sent to live with cousins on ze sheep and horse ranch in Montana. Und zen one day you just left. But not just, Clarice. Vhat set you off? Und vhy do you think it vill help you find Buffalo Bill?

(SFX: slap)

Billy: Snap out of it, doctor!

Corpuscle: Aaaahhh... fava beans... a nice Chianti... (SFX: Corpuscle shakes his head to clear it. Since this is a non-visual medium, that "yoiyoiyoiyoiyoiy" sound prevalent in cartoons will have to do.) where am I?

Billy: You're in your lab, sir. You began to imitate Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs.

Corpuscle: I am so ashamed...

Billy: As well you should be. It was a terrible impression.

Corpuscle: Vhat were we talking about?

Billy: My gum addiction, doctor.

Corpuscle: Your what?

Billy: My gum addiction. I'm addicted to chewing gum.

Corpuscle: You are? That's crazy! Why don't you go seek treatment somewhere?

Billy: This is a treatment center.

Corpuscle: (pause) Oh yes. So it is.

Billy: Have you been having a problem with your short-term memory, doctor?

Corpuscle: Not zat I recall. Anyway, I told you, you are not addicted to gum! Gum is merely a displacement for you, because your conscious mind cannot cope with the real problem.

Billy: Which is oxygen addiction? Doctor, I don't think --

Corpuscle: Doctor knows best...

Billy: But don't I need food and air to survive?

Corpuscle: What, are you nuts? They are a perverse malady that must be rooted out of our systems! (SFX: patriotic music swells) I haff dedicated my career to eradicating them! I long to see the day when we vill at last be able to live in an airtight and sterile society, where no decent American would ever take a breath of fresh air if he cared a hoot about the common good or his own immortal soul! (SFX: music stops)

Billy: (sobs) Oh god, you're right... I breathe, doctor! I breathe! I'm a bad person!

Corpuscle: Calm down, Billy. Things can be terribly difficult for oxygen-addicts -- I know, I have been cruel to people like you for longer than I can remember. Why do you think dumb people are called mouth-breathers? It's blatant prejudice, pure and simple. What people like you need is understanding, and lots and lots of hugs.

Billy: But I breathe air over and over and over -- I can't stop myself. Nobody will ever love me... I always thought I couldn't get a date because I had bad breath. Now I see -- I just had BREATH! Women must have been horrified.

Corpuscle: Stop worrying, you sniveling vermin. I have a treatment.

Billy: It isn't going to help! Nothing can help!

Corpuscle: Yes it will! It is a TWELVE-STEP program.

Billy: (sniffs) A 12-step program?

Corpuscle: Yes. All the best treatment programs are 12-step programs. So is mine.

Billy: In that case, it must work!

Corpuscle: Yes. My program, of course, deals specifically with oxygen addiction.

Billy: How does it work?

Corpuscle: It is very, very touchy-feely. All the best treatment programs are touchy-feely.

Billy: Hooray!

Corpuscle: First, in a controlled, supportive environment, I encourage ze addicts to hold their breath until they turn blue. Zen, we progress upwards to masking tape on the nose and mouth. Finally, the breathing orifices are sewn shut by doctors under my personal supervision.

Billy: Are there withdrawal pains?

Corpuscle: Yes, there are. Terrible withdrawal. Wracking pains zat vill make you zink you haff died and gone to hell and insects are chewing away at your skin. It would be unethical if I did not tell you all about the withdrawal pain in lingering detail that keeps you awake at night for fear that it will begin. But there will be time for that later. Do not worry, though. We will give you as many pain-killers as necessary, especially morphine and heroin. After all, it's hard enough for the addict to give up air and food without getting all uncomfortable.

Billy: When can I start?

Corpuscle: Ze treatment can begin immediately. It is your decision, Billy.

Billy: Let's begin, Dr. Corpuscle! I can't wait to be cured! Wait until I tell Marsha, she'll be so proud.

SCENE IV: A week later. Billy's cell.
(SFX: Groans, moans and chain clanking, and also Muzak. It continues throughout the scene.)

(SFX: Keys rattling & turning in metal lock. Loud door creak.)

Corpuscle: Guten Tag, my patients.


Corpuscle: What do we say?

Chorus of voices, including Billy's: Good mooooorning, Dr. Corpuscle.

Corpuscle: You must answer me promptly or I vill have to have ze guards educate you again. Is zat not correct, guard?

Guard: (Mafia accent) Anything you say, Mr. D'Angelo.

Corpuscle: I told you not to call me zat.

Guard: Sorry, boss.

Corpuscle: Here is today's supply of gruel, my patients. As the next step in your treatment, I've removed the water. Can't have you too moist, can we?

Billy: You mean we just get dry newspaper to eat?

Corpuscle: Yes.

Billy: Oh, thank you doctor. It's so wonderful to find a physician who really cares about human suffering.

Corpuscle: Zank you, Billy. I'm touched. And may I say you are all looking especially haggard and worn today?

Chorus: Thank you, Dr. Corpuscle.

Corpuscle: Good day, my prisoners.

Guard: Boss...

Corpuscle: Patients, patients, I meant patients. Silly Freudian slips.

Guard: (shouts) Say goodbye to Dr. Corpuscle, maggots!


Guard: I'm gonna bring out the hose...

All patients: Goodbye, Dr. Corpuscle!

Corpuscle: Ungrateful schweinhunden. I give them my heart and soul and they spit it back in my face. Come, Antonio.

(SFX: Door creak and slam, door lock)

Billy: (sniffs) The gruel smells good today.

Patient: (nasal voice) I wouldn't know.

Billy: Why do you say that?

Patient: Oh, it's part of my treatment. I'm trying to lose weight, see? I'm always eating. I know the inside of my fridge better than I know some members of my family.

Billy: Uh-huh.

Patient: I even named it -- I call it Gerald.

Billy: You named your refrigerator?

Patient: Gerald the icebox. Oh, the times we've had together. (sniff) Such memories. Spending Christmas with Gerald, making dozens and dozens of ham sandwiches. I love ham. Do you like ham?

Billy: No.

Patient: Because I do. I love ham.

Billy: That's pretty bizarre, you know.

Patient: (offended) Ham has been good to me. Anyway, Dr. Corpuscle said if I couldn't smell food then I wouldn't want to eat so much of it. So he glued my nostrils together.

Billy: Is it working?

Patient: Not yet, but I have faith. (cheerily) Doctor knows best! (they laugh together)

Billy: Ah, it's good to be in a twelve-step program, isn't it?

Patient: You know it, brother.

(SFX: Door slams open)

Guard: Wilson, Billy, number 3071224! Report!

Billy: Here, sir.

Guard: You have a visitor.

Marsha: Hello, Billy.

Guard: Ahem.

Billy: Tip Antonio, will you Marsha?

Guard: Much obliged.

Marsha: How are you, Billy?

Billy: Fine, fine. Do you have any gum?

Marsha: Oh, Billy. I don't think this treatment is helping.

Patient: (in disbelief) You're addicted to gum?

Billy: (defensive) Yeah, so what?

Patient: (derisive laugh) Weirdo. Excuse me miss, but do you have any ham?

Marsha: No. Billy, I think I should get you out of here.

Billy: But I'm being cured! I like it here!

Marsha: Billy, you're in chains and rags.

Billy: It's a twelve-step program! I'm coming to terms with my base, repulsive self. I'm learning how to love my wretchedness.

Marsha: How much are you paying, Billy?

Billy: Oh, now, how can you put a price tag on mental well-being? Are you absolutely sure you don't have any gum?

Marsha: Alright, alright. Here.

Billy: (offended) Sugarless Trident? And it's stale!

Marsha: If you can't even be civil, then I'm leaving. I'll see you next week.

Billy: No, wait! I love your gum! Come back!

(Door slam, lock)

Patient: Some people just don't understand.

Billy: She's so high-strung. I wonder if she's ever thought about getting help.

Patient: What a weirdo. Did she leave you any ham?

SCENE V: Two months later
Corpuscle: Billy, Marsha, zank you for coming to my office. Today is a grrrrrreat day for you two.

Marsha: How so, doctor?

Corpuscle: Ve haff come to ze final stage in Billy's treatment. He is almost cured.

Billy: But I still crave chewing gum, doctor. It's been two months, and it hasn't abated at all!

Corpuscle: Shut up. If I say you are almost cured, then you are. Your own observations are irrelevant.

Billy: Yes, doctor.

Corpuscle: But before we enter ze final stage, you vill haff to show me another sign of your trust in me.

Billy: What's that?

Corpuscle: You must sign this form. It states that in the event zat anything goes wrong during zis last part of ze treatment, you will sign over all of your money and possessions to me.

Billy: What?

Marsha: Is this really necessary, doctor?

Corpuscle: Perhaps you should wait in the hall, Marsha my dear.

Marsha: But --

Corpuscle: Please, zis is a private matter between ze psychoanalyst and ze patient. Butt out, Madchen.

Marsha: I'll... see you outside, Billy. (SFX: footsteps, door click)

Corpuscle: Now zen, Billy. You are perhaps wondering whether zis little piece of paper is important.

Billy: Well, maybe just a little bit.

Corpuscle: Of course it is! It is insurance in case anything goes wrong in zis final stage of treatment! Zat vay, I can take care of you in my asylum without having to worry about trifling matters such as police inquiries or lawsuits from next of kin. All my other patients signed this, and let me tell you, it has been the main thing responsible for making me the rich and successful psychiatrist I am today. Here is a pen. Write legibly.

Billy: You've convinced me, doctor! I've won the battle over myself! (SFX: pen scratching)

Corpuscle: Good, excellent! Hold still. Normally, I would surgically close the breathing apertures, but I have found it is just as effective and much cheaper simply to use ordinary duct tape.

(SFX: Duct tape being unwrapped and applied)

Billy: Oh, thank you, doctor, I can't tell you what this means to -- mmmmph! Mmmmmph! MMMMMMPPPHHHHHHH!

(SFX: Billy collapses. His body hits the floor with a thud)

Corpuscle: Another victory for science.

(SFX: Corpuscle hits his intercom buzzer)

Corpuscle: Miss Jones, please notify the disposal crew that there is another successful case to dump in the river. And Miss Jones, could you open some vindows? It's extremely stuffy in here.