Charlie: Ah, you'll lick this picture business, believe me. You've got a head on your shoulders, and what is it they say? Where there's a head, there's hope?
Barton: Where there's life, there's hope.
Charlie: See, that proves you really are a writer!
It's evident during Charlie's third visit to Room 621 just how much better-disposed toward him Barton has become since their initial meeting. Whereas Barton was previously standoffish or at the very least generally rather condescending toward Charlie, and had always tried to maintain a safe distance by remaining at his desk throughout his visits, here he quite willingly sits beside him on the bed as the two of them put on the correct pair of shoes and enjoy a round of liquor together. With all that he's experienced in Hollywood, Barton's appreciation for Charlie's cordial, down-to-earth demeanour is greatly increasing, and Charlie's intermittent visits have become a vital source of moral support to him. So much so that the bombshell that Charlie delivers on this particular occasion threatens to leave Barton in rather a difficult position - Charlie will be leaving the Hotel Earle in just a few days.
When Charlie enters the room with Barton's shoes in hand he appears in lower spirits than usual. He attributes this to having had a difficult and wearying day on the insurance-selling front, reportedly having failed to sell any polices and having endured his share of verbal abuse from some of the housewives he encountered. Charlie indicates that he is particularly sensitive when it comes to being teased about his weight, which he describes as being his "cross to bear". A peculiar choice of expression, perhaps, for a character who is commonly perceived as being the literal Devil, but then Charlie's language has always indicated a curious Christ fixation alongside his more obvious interests in heads and damnation, which ties in neatly with the duality of his character. Charlie sees himself as a benevolent protector who provides people with a much needed service, so much so that when Barton (who, for once, does not cut Charlie off or condescend him at any point during this meeting) suggests that the housewives might have teased him as a defence mechanism, Charlie finds the notion that anyone might perceive him as threatening to be incomprehensible. At the same time, his motto, "a little peace of mind", provides a clue as to his darker practices. When Barton later runs into Mastrionatti and Deustch, they inform him that Charlie/Karl's murder spree started in Kansas City with a couple of housewives who presumably got on the wrong side of him. Based on what they also disclose, it's safe to assume that the next character that Charlie goes on to describe, a physician who failed to offer any help or insight into his ear infection, wound up becoming his latest victim - here Charlie refers, more ambiguously, to their interactions having "led to an argument".
Charlie then shifts the topic of conversation to Barton's recent struggles with the life of the mind. At this point, Barton is beginning to show awareness of his own limitations, suggesting that perhaps he already exhausted all of his potential as a writer when he wrote Bare Ruined Choirs. A valuable insight, although one which only grasps about half the picture - Barton does, it seems, only have one idea within him, although this is a self-imposed limitation which arises from just how firmly entrenched he is inside his own head. Charlie decides to cut to the chase by hitting at what he deems to be the mutual source of their respective frustrations - namely, a lack of sexual satisfaction. He asks Barton if the love-making couple in the room next to his are a problem, making it plain just how tantalising their activities are to his own intense feelings of sexual starvation and evoking a connection, suggested elsewhere in the film, between sexual and creative energies. Barton is taken back by Charlie's observation, questioning how he would even know about the couple when they are not located next to him. Charlie states that he sometimes feels as if he hears everything that goes on inside the Earle; when he refers to the "pipes or something" this is actually a call-back to a scene that was removed from the theatrical cut, in which Barton discovers that his sink has become clogged with the wad of cotton wool from Charlie's infected ear. Even shorn of this context, it remains an important line, as the implication that Charlie can hear everything that goes on in Barton's room through the pipes (whether this is achieved by bugging the sink with supernatural cotton wool or a more general uncanny connection with the hotel as a whole) will surface again when Barton persuades Audrey to spend the night with him. The original script also contains an additional statement from Charlie not present in the film itself - "I'm just glad I don't have to ply my trade in the wee, wee hours" - a double entendre which also foreshadows the overnight horrors that will shortly be calling at Room 621.
Charlie assures Barton that he will finish his screenplay, citing an expression coined by Roman comedy writer Terence, "Where there's life, there's hope", but giving it his own personalised twist: "where there's a head, there's hope" (Barton will later discover this to be entirely true, when Charlie leaves a mysterious package in his care). Barton returns the moral support by telling Charlie that he is confident he will sell many polices tomorrow, prompting Charlie to deliver the bad news that he will shortly be leaving the Earle. Presumably, it is in Charlie's interests to flee and lay low for a while following the outcome of his doctor's appointment earlier today; no doubt he anticipates the arrival of Mastrionatti and Deustch or their ilk, but he allows Barton to think that he is going away purely for business purposes. He tells him that "things have gotten all balled up at the Head Office," a statement that potentially references his own inability to keep his murderous urges in check, but could just as easily refer to Barton's writer's block and his increasingly fraught mental state - a hint that Charlie's activities may be emblematic of the darker recesses of Barton's mind that are being unleashed by the frustrations of his mental blockage. Barton expresses his sorrow that Charlie will be leaving, confessing that he will miss him, but Charlie assures him that he will be back at the Earle sooner or later - the Earle is, after all, the type of place in which one tends to find themselves lost for a lifetime.
Having learned that Charlie will be heading to New York, Barton supplies him with details as to where to find his parents and his uncle, with the intention of enabling Charlie to enjoy a home-cooked meal while he is out there. This is by far the kindest and most thoughtful gesture that Barton has made to Charlie since the two of them first met. It is also one of the greatest mistakes that Barton has made so far (shy only of invoking Charlie's attentions in the first place or, one might argue, agreeing to the job in Hollywood at all), for, by offering his family up in this manner, Barton may be satisfying a much more gruesome appetite of Charlie's. It is particularly eerie, then, that a strip of wallpaper should happen to peel as soon as Barton has passed the details onto Charlie, as if in direct reaction to Barton's gesture. Wallpaper is a significant motif in Barton Fink, and the last time that Barton had to contend with peeling paper, it seemed emblematic of the wrath of Charlie; a sign that the Beast had truly been awakened and intended to keep a tight hold upon him. Here, it happens in Charlie's presence, and appears to induce feelings of shame in Charlie, who describes the Earle as a "dump" and asks Barton if he finds it pathetic. The purpose of wallpaper, as we know, is to cover things up; here, peeling wallpaper functions as an exposure of the sticky, feverish ugliness that lies below the surface, a hint that Charlie's ostensibly very amiable demeanour conceals a more grotesque reality, which Barton has now fated himself to discover in due course. The complete unraveling of everything that Barton thinks he knows will truly begin from this point onward.
As Charlie makes his way out of Room 621, Barton asks him not to leave without first saying goodbye. Charlie assures him that he will see him again, a statement in which there lurks yet another of his implicit threats. For indeed, as far as Barton's relations with Charlie are going, things are only just getting started.