Transcript for Episode 2: Working on the Railroad



Interviewer – Jeff Van Dreason
What’s something that could make Boston greater?

Male Interview 2
mmm…politeness? People…people being more polite. More…more manners.


Male Interview 2
More interactions. Random interactions.

People talk to each other more?

Male Interview 2
Yeah. Like, I go on the train, literally the whole train’s on their phone. When I’m like “I wonder if there’s anybody interesting to talk to?”

But that’s only when my phone’s not charged.

[Charlie on the MTA instrumental fades in.]


So I can’t really…I can’t really talk.


Previously in Greater Boston:

Dimitri Stamatis – James Johnston
Disillusionment has never been a gift worth sharing. That idea probably makes no sense to you, does it Leon. The truth had been laid bare. The mystery dispelled. That would have satisfied you.

Narrator – Alexander Danner
Leon Stamatis died on a roller coaster at the age of 32. Nica insisted that the absurdly-named roller coaster be their first stop. She had brought him out here specifically to cheer him up after the end of his most recent relationship. He muttered a single word:

Leon Stamatis – Braden Lamb

Narrator – Alexander Danner
Then preemptively expired.


Multiple Voices
Fall River
I can’t say that one without a ridiculous accent, it’s just impossible
This is
This is
This is
This is
This is
Greater Boston


Narrator – Alexander Danner
This week in Greater Boston, we meet three travelers on The Red Line: a pregnant woman has cabin fever in “Charlotte on the MBTA;” a fiery eccentric proposes a radical plan in “The Mayor of The Red Line;” and Louisa tackles her wildest photography assignment ever in “Red Line Wedding.”

[Intro music fades out]

This week in episode 2: Working on the Railroad

[Turnstile Beep]

[T Station intercom – “next Red Line train”]


Rider 1 – Julia Propp
Have you experienced a single, overwhelming tragic event?”

Rider 2 – Alexander Danner
On America’s Birthday, drink America’s beer.”

Rider 3 – Marck Harmon
What’s next? Know your options.”

Rider 4 – Mike Linden
Jesus fed 5000 people with a few fish. We do that everyday. “

[Terminal bell]

Rider 5 – Jeff Van Dreason
Good without God? 40 Million Americans Are.”

Rider 6 – Ben Flaumenhaft
You’re not alone. Millions of people love the Big Mac.”

Rider 7 – Jim Johanson
Speak Swahili?”

Rider 8 – Julia Propp
Eat. Splash. Shop. Learn.”

Rider 9 – Sam Musher
That’s one night stand your one-night stand will love.”

Rider 10 – Laura Cunningham
The only snow here comes in a cone.”

Rider 11 – Ben Flaumenhaft
Are you very shy?”

Rider 12 – Marck Harmon
Good things come to those who refuse to wait.”

Rider 13 – Jeff Van Dreason
Just because they’re not dressed like police doesn’t mean they aren’t.”

Rider 14 – Ben Flaumenhaft
Don’t you wish getting ahead in your job was as easy as getting to the next stop?”

[Incoming train approaching]

Rider 15 – Julia Propp
Declare wireless independence”

Rider 16 – Sam Musher
Respect my space.”

Rider 17 – Mike Linden
Don’t touch the driver.”

Rider 18 – Jim Johanson
Together we’re happier.”

[Train noise peaks as train is arriving at station]

[Alarm clock beeps]

[Alarm clock beeps]

[Train fades out]

[Alarm clock beeps]


Narrator – Alexander Danner
Gemma’s alarm goes off at 6:00.

[Alarm clock beeps]

Charlotte wakes up immediately, but the alarm bleats for a solid three minutes before Gemma rouses enough to find the snooze button.

[Alarm clock beeps]

[Aggressive snooze button]

Charlotte wants to go back to sleep, but the process repeats itself eight minutes later, and every eight minutes thereafter until a quarter after seven.

[Alarm clock beeps]

[Aggressive snooze button]

Charlotte gives up after only a half hour of the cycle, exiting to the bathroom for a good long pee, her fourth since she went to bed the night before.

Gemma calls out from the other side of the door.

Gemma Linzer-Coolidge – Lydia Anderson

Gemma needs the bathroom.

[Knocks on door.]

Charlotte, I need to go to the bathroom.

Gemma wants to know how long Charlotte is going to be, because Gemma needs to get to work. Gemma has fifteen minutes to get ready, but she can’t even begin, because Charlotte is in the bathroom.

Charlotte, I only have fifteen minutes, I have to go to work.

Charlotte doesn’t say anything. She’s too exhausted to bother, she’ll be out when she’s out, and Gemma can deal with it.

[Door knocking.]

Gemma knocks again, asks if Charlotte is barfing.

Char? Charlotte, are you barfing?

Charlotte is not barfing, has barely even had problems with barfing. She has no idea why Gemma thinks she would be barfing.

She lets Gemma in to pee while she washes her hands. While she pees, Gemma asks Charlotte why she’s up so early, as she does every day.

Charlotte, why are you up so early? Ugghhhh.

If she didn’t have to go work, Gemma says, she would sleep until noon.

If I didn’t have to go to ThirdSight I would sleep until noon.

They had long debated which of them should carry the child they both wanted. When Charlotte’s company shuttered, it seemed sensible to let that make the decision. But Gemma won’t understand that Charlotte worked for reasons beyond necessity. Beyond income. So Charlotte doesn’t mention the relentless alarm.

Instead Charlotte mentions her dream.

Dreams, UGGGGH!

Gemma doesn’t want to hear about dreams either. Dreams are a thing she deals with at work. She hates her work.

Don’t tell me about dreams.

Don’t tell me about dreams!” she begs. So Charlotte doesn’t tell Gemma about her dream.

[Ominous dream music fades in.]

Of being lost. In a wilderness. In a valley between mountains. She’s been abandoned there somehow, by some malevolent thing. A witch, maybe. Or an evil queen. And she’s got the baby. Her baby. She has to carry it to safety on her own, because no one even knows she’s out there. And she’s lost, but not *lost*. She knows which way to go, but the way out is a long way off. It’ll take days to get there. But it’s doable. She’s sure she can walk that far, even carrying the baby.

[Dream music tension rises.]

The problem is food. If Charlotte were on her own, it would be fine. She could forage for herself. But she can’t feed the baby. She can’t nurse it. She’s producing milk, that’s not the issue, she has plenty of milk, an ocean of milk, more than enough so the baby could drink, and the baby would be nourished, and it would live. But the milk is cursed. The witch put a curse on Charlotte. On Charlotte’s body. On Charlotte’s milk. One taste will twist the baby’s soul. It’ll turn evil, grow into a monster in human form. A killer. A warlord.

And so she keeps walking, and she walks as fast as she can, but she knows it’ll never be fast enough. Eventually, she’ll have to make a choice. The baby will need to eat. The baby will demand to eat. And either she will let it, or she won’t. Either she’ll kill it, or she’ll damn it. The baby. Her baby.

And she can’t decide.

[Dream music fades out.]

Charlotte dries her hands and squeezes past Gemma’s knees to exit the bathroom.

Ten minutes later, Gemma is gone, out the door and into the world. Charlotte can’t just sit home again today. She has nowhere to go, but she needs to go anyway, anywhere. Not out to Wonderland again. She shouldn’t have done that in the first place, and Gemma had flipped when she found out, and she was completely right to flip out. And with the news of that man, the one who died, snuffed out by nothing on the same roller coaster Charlotte favored, the small one, the safe one, the responsible one. No. No more of that. Today…maybe just back to the subway. Another tour of the Green Line, a detour to the Red, where today and today only, she has a job. Or an interview. In Cambridge? No. Somerville. That fantasy will have to be enough for now. She dresses, and packs her bag with her gestational emergency kit: a bottle of water and a snack. A light sweater. Spare underwear.

The walk to Kenmore takes fifteen minutes. She waddles down to the platform, where a train is already waiting.

[Green Line train hum.]

She sits near the doors, close enough to look each person who enters in the eyes, if they only glance in her direction. Charlotte knows the rules of mass transit—speak to no one, touch no one, acknowledge the existence of no one. She violates the rules. She says “hello” to each passenger as they enter. Nothing more. Most ignore her. A rare one or two smile and say “good morning,” before moving off into the train.

[Green Line train begins moving, with wheel screech.]

She watches them settle into seats or squeeze together, searching for space on the handrail to grip. She watches the businessmen and businesswomen check their phones and sigh in response to the stuttering creep of the train, already late for important meetings and appointments.

[Green line train fades out.]

[Red line door beeps, then closes.]

At Park St. Charlotte changes lines, switches over to the Red, outbound for Alewife. A crew of workers dressed in black are removing all the subway advertisements, replacing them with different photographs of the same couple.

[Hydraulic sound. Train begins moving. Announcer mumbles over intercom.]

The couple looks natural, unposed, sure of themselves, sure of their love as they gaze into each other’s playful faces. She sees a woman with a serious looking camera—the photographer?—watching the poster-sized blowups go up. There’s resignation in her expression.

[Increasing train rumble.]

The workers hang decorations — streamers, fresh seat covers, glass bulbs in place of handrails, all filled with pops of color — cherry red, aqua, khaki. They work quickly and transform the Red Line car into something fresh. Charlotte almost feels intimidated sitting there, like she doesn’t belong. She asks one of the workers what they’re doing, but he ignores her.

[Red Line door beeps. Train resumes moving.]

At Harvard, The Mayor of the Red Line boards, a rumpled old man in a tweed suit, an eccentric. He glances at the decorators and says, “ah yes.”

The Mayor of the Red Line – James Capobianco
Ah, yes.

As if he expected this, as if it’s all for him. Charlotte smiles at him, and says hello. And he smiles back, and says “good morning.”

The Mayor of the Red Line
Good morning.

But it is not rote. It is warm with familiarity, as though he knows her. But he must see thousands of people each day, make his proclamations about proper transit infrastructure to thousands of people.

The Mayor of the Red Line
And welcome to our home-beneath-our-homes, our fair subterranean kingdom, the pearl of the M-B-T-A, the arterial throughway of Boston and Cambridge, the irreplaceable Red Line!

[The Mayor continues orating in the background.]

He is carrying a petition, asking for volunteers to sign.

Charlotte volunteers. He hands her a pen, and she adds her name to a list, a surprisingly long list. It is the most formal act she has made in months, this signing of a political appeal. She thought it would be nothing, an appeasement to a kindly eccentric whom she has more than once seen chiding riders on crowded trains into surrendering their seats to the elderly, or disabled, or to Charlotte herself, as her belly became increasingly pronounced.

But there are dozens of pages here, all filled with names, a thousand names in a thousand hands.

Could he really be doing this?


The Mayor of the Red Line – James Capobianco [In background of Chap. 2]
Good morning commuters! And welcome to our home-beneath-our-homes, our fair subterranean kingdom, the pearl of the M-B-T-A, the arterial throughway of Boston and Cambridge, the irreplaceable Red Line! Departing from Alewife for points south, Ashmont or Braintree, we’ll be passing through such essential destinations as Park Street Station, the hub of the hub, and South Station, your practical departure point for any and all outward rail travel from our city, so long as you’ve no interest in traveling north.

But I DO have interest in traveling north,” I hear you cry! There are many wonderful things to the north! But you simply cannot transport yourself from The Red Line’s exquisite South Station, to the Orange Line’s North Station hub, without making an awkward and inconvenient exit from our fair railway entirely, to rely upon such crass commuter compromises as busses and taxis.

Have you a notion of the distance separating North Station from South Station? A mere one mile point five! So easily traversed, given appropriate appropriations toward engineering and construction. The plans are all drawn up! And yet no concrete effort has been made to germinate this junction!

[Mayor fades into foreground.]

This is but one of many indignities perfidiously inflicted upon our ill-fortuned infrastructure. I won’t even attempt to address the decaying bridges, antiquated tracks, and elderly cars that make up our neglected network.

I am here today, fellow Riders of the Red line—to secure your support for a transit transition, a railway revolution, a subway secession. No longer shall we of the Red Line be beholden to Big Dig boondoggling, the highway robbery of automotive autocracy. I propose to you that we strive for no less than incorporation as an independent municipality.

[Passenger coughing.]

Is this an extraordinary action, an extreme solution? Yes! But in these times of bureaucratic lethargy, extraordinary action is called for! Even our newspaper is not our own. This so-called Metro is not printed to reflect your concerns or your needs. One of our own died mere days ago, a man named Leon, a rider of these rails. I knew him as a man with deep interest in railroad history and railroad management. This article doesn’t even show us his face. It shows only the park where he died, as though the park is more important than the person.

Leon Stamatis was a one of our fellow commuters. And he was not less important than a park.

If we hope to see our community receive the respect and resources it deserves, then it is upon us to declare our allegiance to the system that serves us, and break cleanly from the parasite that blithely neglects us.

Our time is coming, fellow Riders of the Red line! The time of secession! The time of incorporation! I know many of you feel this already. Many of you are eager for a democratic revolution, a reformation, [passenger coughing] a new independent municipality, [cell phone ringing] of the commuters, for the commuters, by the commuters! The city of Red Line!

I have a petition that will put this question on the ballot, to be decided by popular vote in our next statewide election. We are so close! All it will take is six more—six singular signatures to put secession on the slate!

Who will sign? Will you?

Passenger – Alexander Danner
Fuck off.

The Mayor
No, that’s fine. How about you? Thank you!

Yes, this is real. Yes, I believe we can do this.

I know you must have questions. You must have grievances of your own that demand airing. [Passenger coughing.] As your mayor, I want to know your concerns, and I want to do everything in my power to address them.

Who among you would like to speak? How about you? You’re a regular rider of the Red Line.

Charlotte – Summer Unsinn
You’ve seen me?

The Mayor
Of course! May I ask your name?


The Mayor
You don’t have a pattern, Charlotte. Most people do. Morning in, evening out. Travel as necessary. The commuters. But you have no pattern. You’re not using the trains to get somewhere.

I have nowhere to go.

The Mayor
Of course you do.

I used to.

The Mayor
Was this the train that took you to the place you used to go?

No, I worked in Watertown. I took the bus.

The Mayor
Ah, you were in the valley.


The Mayor
Watertown is an unserved valley, between the branches.

I guess so. I guess you could call it that. It’s…it’s just funny, that you called it that.

The Mayor
What did you do there?

I was in animation. Background art. You know Word Girl?

The Mayor
I don’t, I’m sorry.

That’s fine. I get it. But anyway, I worked on Word Girl. Backgrounds. It was a good show. We used to have a lot of animation in Boston. Little independent studios doing interesting things, stuff that would never get picked up by big producers. The shows were good. People liked them. But then, you know…the economy. And the arts. One by one, they all closed up. We were the last.

The Mayor
And you’re the sort of person who needs to be doing something. You need to be in motion.


The Mayor
So now you’ve just been riding the subway back and forth?

Every day.

The Mayor
Well, there. You’ve had somewhere to go. And here you are.

There’s no purpose to it. It’s just escape.

The Mayor
May I tell you a story? It’s a true story of something that happened to me.

It was early in my professorial profession, but after sufficient years in service to the university, so that I was presented with the offer of tenure. An opportunity one does not question.

But I was questioning it. More than questioning. I was deeply disinclined, although I knew it was the proper direction for my career to careen.

[Busker drumming fades in.]

And by the morning of the meeting at which I was to give my final decision, my sacramental yea or nay, I’d hardly slept, weighed upon by the gravity of the “yea” I was meant to deliver.

[Passenger clears throat loudly.]

To compensate, I drank an excess of coffee, an entire pot of coffee, and no breakfast to mitigate it, so that I was left buzzing and woozy, veritably vertiginous. I was exhausted, I mean to say, and anxious, and hyper, and terrified, and intimidated, and dizzy, and slightly nauseated as I stumbled my way down the escalators into Harvard Station.

[Drumming grows more chaotic.]

[Sound of an approaching subway train.]

I found my vision swimming and my knees buckling with each step, until I simply failed to remain on my feet. I toppled over as though I had suddenly become deprived of bones. And yes, I landed squarely on the tracks below the platform. And yes: a train was coming.

I couldn’t conceive of any way to sidestep fate in that moment. I saw my death coming. My time was over.

And had I been alone in that station, I would have been right. But I was not alone in that station. Do you know who was with me?


The Mayor
No, not Jesus. *You,* Charlotte. You were with me in that station. [Terminal station bell begins sounding.] You and all my fellow Riders of the Red Line. One among you leaped down onto the tracks, and dragged me into the recess beneath the lip of the platform. I shudder to think that you could have come to harm on my behalf, but you did not. [Drumming becomes intense.] There was ample room for both you and me in the safety of that dark crevice. [Sound of train arriving at station.] And as the train screeched to a halt, far too late, already passing us by, the wheels spinning their revolutions just inches from my nose, we were bathed in the splendid sparks of steel braking on steel.

[Drums fade out.]

[Train comes to a halt.]

And everything changed for me then.

[Train doors close.]

I never went to that tenure meeting. I changed my entire course of study, my entire philosophical focus. My heart has lived on these rails ever since.

[Train pulls out from station.]

Charlotte, I know that what I’m doing seems insane. But it’s not a lark. I am not just wandering aimlessly, ranting aimlessly. I have a plan. A course of action. Strangers can be a community. Escape can be a purpose. Movement itself can be a destination. Why, just look at this beautiful train today, scrubbed and dressed for the advancement of our campaign!

Those look like wedding decorations.

The Mayor
And how appropriate, for is this not a marriage proposal of sorts? A wedding between community and commute? Look around you now and you’ll see strangers. But ask yourself – what if they weren’t? These are choices you have. Even now, even with all your fears about the future. One option has been taken away from you. But that doesn’t mean you have no options.

If I asked to tell you about a dream I had, what would you say?

The Mayor
I would ask to hear it.

Can I tell everyone?

The Mayor
The podium is yours. Metaphorically, I mean. I’ll just sit down, so you can take the uh…the metaphorical podium. Previously mentioned. You have our full attention. Tell us your dream. And please speak up, it can be hard to hear over the engine.

Okay. Um. Hi, I’m Charlotte. Hi. I’m going to tell you about my dream.


The Mayor
Ignore him. Please go on.

In my dream, I’m lost in a wilderness. I’m lost in a valley. And I’m alone.

[Train doors beep, then close.]

[Train fades out.]


Interviewer – Jeff Van Dreason
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen on the T?

Male Interview 4
Um…probably people doing…um, workouts. On the train. They use the bars to like, you know, do, do uhh, the pull-ups.

Female Interview 1
There were, like, I guess girls dancing on the poles. Hanging onto the train. And I don’t think it was a flash mob, so it was just one of those things where you step on, and you’re like “oh, the door’s open, so I could step out. I stayed on.”

Female Interview 2
There’s actually this dude that like gets on every bus, I swear, and every train. And like, he just like starts babbling about like random stuff. And he’ll really touch you. And then, like just to make sure you’re really listening to him. And it’s kind of like, you just have to sit there and like not try to not rash on him or anything.

Male Interview 5
The guy in the bear costume, playing the…uhhh…not the piano…

Keytar? Keytar bear?

Male Interview 5
Keytar. Keytar.

Male Interview 3
A man pulling down his pants, and pulling out medicine bottles and stomping on it.

Stomping on them?

Male Interview 3
Yeah. And then like a piece went flying and people were dodging them.

Like prescriptions?

Male Interview 3
Yeah, but they were empty.

Male Interview 6
The strangest things I ever see is a guy, ah…peeing on himself right in the T. But I understand why, cause in this city, it’s not like England. If you go to England, there’s a lot of bathrooms all over the place. But in Massachusetts, I just don’t know why…there’s no public facility.

Female Interview 2
First he’ll start talking about “Jesus loves you.” And then he’ll start talking about his day. And what aggravates him, and it’s just like…do you have anyone to talk to when you’re at home?

Male Interview 3
And then he’d filled the rest of them with torn plastic bags.

mmmm…okay. That’s pretty weird.


That takes the cake.

[Peppy ragtime music cuts in.]


Narrator – Alexander Danner
Louisa scanned the shots she’d taken so far, trying to single out a handful to show the bride and groom, shots to give them an early sense of the work she’d done:

Louisa Alvarez – Julia Propp
The bridal party posed on the inbound Kendal Square platform as a train, their train, their wedding train, arrives behind them. The train’s pushing a gigantic gust of air over the entire party. All the dresses are puffing up and out, the bridesmaids shoving their arms over their aqua gowns. The Bride’s dress is levitating around her, her head is thrown back mid-cackle as her groom attempts to contain the white monstrosity billowing between them. Most of the guys are just pinning their ties to their chests, trying to keep them from flying into their faces. Everyone looks happy, laughing, clearly in focus despite the chaos of the blurry, speeding streak of red and gray behind them. It looks natural, especially for a posed group shot. Ugh, I hate posed shots. I tell people if they want a lot of posed shots not to hire me because my style is naturalistic. But this one? Ehh…this one turned out okay.

She flipped through dozens more at a rapid pace. She’d taken too many, far more than she’d promised Emily and Ethan Bespin, the newly anointed couple. They’d met at the Kendall Square station, he a grad student at MIT studying Computation and Design for Optimization, she a senior undergrad at Harvard studying Business. She’d been headed to a movie at the Kendall Landmark. He’d been heading to Porter to meet friends for ramen. They’d quite literally bumped into each other as the doors to the Red Line opened, and it’d been love at first sight. Love like corporate synergy.

When Emily and Ethan met Louisa at a coffee shop to discuss their photography needs, she could tell they were from money because they never asked for a quote. “We love your style,” Emily said. “Beautiful. Opulent. But relaxed. We’re getting married on the RedLine so that’s exactly what we need.”

Nothing more relaxed than getting married on the MBTA. Louisa heard crazy wedding plans from clients all the time. The truth was that the photography part of her job was easy. There were always plenty of unique pictures to take at weddings, where alcohol flowed freely and people were encouraged to dance like buffoons. The challenging part was managing people, knowing how to talk to them. She had to make just the right response. Emily had said it like it was no big deal, like people got married on public transit all the time. But there was also an expectation in her voice. It was a test. She wanted Louisa to comment. She was baiting her into saying something like, “are you nuts?” But that’s not what she wanted to hear. Louisa knew what Emily wanted to hear. It was the same thing every bride wanted to hear.

What a cool idea!”

[Ragtime music fades out.]

She remembered telling her ex about Emily and Ethan’s plans. He’d been so revolted Louisa thought he might pass out, or worse. They hadn’t dated long, which was for the best. He was…unique, that one.

[Processional music cuts in.]

Several shots of the bride and groom, standing on a makeshift platform on the center of the Kendall station, between where both inbound and outbound trains docked. The city was running shuttle service for an hour and half between Central Square and Charles, something it did regularly anyway thanks to constant construction on the Longfellow Bridge. The platform had just enough room to fit Emily, Ethan and the officiant. Wedding guests were split between inbound and outbound platforms — bride’s family inbound, groom’s family outbound — to match the directions they were facing the day they’d met. Echh, how cornball. Ugh. My legs still ache from the running I did to take these — up the stairs, across the street, down the stairs, back again. Had to get all the angles. Couldn’t just get one side of their faces. Gotta please the clients.

After the group pictures, the happy couple emerged from underground to meet their guests, celebrating cocktail hour on the patio outside of the Cambridge Marriott.

[Processional music fades out.]

The DJ announced the wedding party after needle dropping “Crazy Train.”

[Raucous “Time to Go” music cuts in.]

As the song hit full fuzzy blast, Emily and Ethan led a mad dash to their RedLine reception, the train decorated to look more like a luxury limo inside. A ‘Just Married’ sign was pinned behind the last car, tin cans tied with string dancing against the rails, blasting sparks.

[Time to go fades out.]

Each car had a different theme that tied into Ethan and Emily’s relationship, with different bars, drinks, DJs and music.

[Rhythmic train-like drumming fades in.]

Guests were encouraged to slip between train cars and explore. Beefy guards were stationed at every door. The train only stopped at stations when a swell of guests needed the restroom, or when a large crowd of expectant commuters loomed too close to the third rail, making the conductor nervous about hitting them.

The guests seem to be having a good time in this one. Four men in delectably tailored suits sitting in RedLine seats, a woman laying across their laps, all of them beaming and throwing their cocktail-gripping hands into the air. Behind them, a large crowd of commuters stare gloomily through the window. Sour faces. Frowns. This was at Downtown Crossing, which picks up a lot of Orange Line traffic. My line. Imagine a wedding on the Orange Line, where the stained fluorescent light makes everyone look a little more like George Hamilton. Yeah, right. Never in a million. Only on the RedLine.

[Drumming cuts out.]

Will Ethan and Emily like this picture? Will the people in the background annoy them? Will they ask me to try and edit them out somehow?

Something tells me they won’t even notice.

The wedding reached peak chaos late into the night, when more and more commuters were desperate for rides home. Some of the guests took over the controls and opened the doors at every station, shoving security out of their way and picking and choosing which passengers were fit to crash the wedding. Louisa took a few pictures of this but didn’t want to look at them now. Some commuters joined in with the party, helping themselves to drinks or dancing synchronized movements set to Cotton-eye Joe. Others looked like they’d rather walk home. They found empty seats and settled into them quietly.

[Drumming fades out.]

Louisa finished flipping through her night’s work. The wedding had been tough for multiple reasons. She’d run up and down the length of the train at least twenty times, taking countless pictures in each car. She thought again of her ex and his love of transit, his distaste for disorder. She wished she could go home and complain to him, nutty as he was. Exhausted, she took a moment to sit, kick off her heels and scrunch her toes.

There was a copy of Friday’s Metro on the seat next to her. The headline: MAN DIES ON WONDERLAND ROLLER COASTER.

[Drumming fades in.]

She reached for the paper, hoping it wasn’t grizzly.

It turned out to be the least interesting kind of death imaginable. The man had just died. Almost willed himself into it, apparently, as if he’d looked at his chances and couldn’t completely calculate 100% safety and decided to pussy out just in case a more tragic death was imminent.

Sounded like something her ex Leon would be capable —

Leon. Leon Stamatis. Deceased. Printed in the text of the article. Accompanied by Nica Stamatis. Surviving sister.

Ethan and Emily stumbled up to her, swaying and laughing. “Are you okay?” Ethan asked when he saw her.

She wasn’t. She dropped the Metro.

I was just reading that story. About the guy on the roller coaster.

[Drumming speeds up.]

Ethan nodded. “I expected something more with a headline like that. What a letdown.”

Expected something more. What a letdown. Leon was dead.

[Drumming increases in speed and volume.]

[Train noise fades in.]

[Passenger chatter fades in.]

Ethan and Emily said something else to Louisa, but the train and their wedding roared louder and faster than before. She couldn’t hear them.

[Ragtime music fades in.]

[Processional music fades in.]

[Time to Go fades in.]

[All the music plays at once.]

[Unbearable cacophony increases in volume.]

[Everything cuts out except a rapid rat-a-tat drumming.]

[Drumming ends.]

[Cotton-eyed Joe (traditional) plays]

Greater Boston is written and produced by Alexander Danner and Jeff Van Dreason with recording and technical assistance from Marck Harmon.

In order of appearance, this episode featured:

  • Alexander Danner as The Narrator (he/him)
  • Lydia Anderson as Gemma Linzer-Coolidge (she/her)
  • James Capobianco as The Mayor of the Red Line (he/him)
  • Summer Unsinn as Charlotte Linzer Coolidge (she/her)
  • Julia Propp as Louisa Alvarez (she/her)

Also featuring Laura Cunningham, Alexander Danner, Ben Flaumenhaft, Marck Harmon, Jim Johanson, Mike Linden, Sam Musher, Julia Propp, and Jeff Van Dreason as Red Line Advertisements.

Charlie on the MTA is performed by Emily Peterson and Dirk Tiede. Dream Music by Jeff Van Dreason. Drums by Jim Johanson. Wedding music by Dave Fernandez. Cotton-Eyed Joe is performed by Adrienne Howard, Emily Peterson, and Dirk Tiede. Some sound effects used from public domain and creative commons sources.

Episode transcripts will be posted online at

If you enjoy Greater Boston, please consider donating to our Patreon campaign, and help spread the word by leaving us a review on iTunes or social media.

Greater Boston is written in part at The Writers’ Room of Boston, a non-profit workspace for Boston-area writers. Find out more at

[Cotton-eyed Joe fades out.]


Gemma – Lydia Anderson
Charlotte. Charlotte. Char. Charlotte. Charloooooootte! [Laughter.]

Gemma (deep voice)


Jeff Van Dreason
That was probably good right?

Alexander Danner

[Lydia laughing.]

Content warnings:

  • Strong language
  • Prenatal depression
  • Discussion of death
  • Ostentatious displays of wealth

Want to read a transcript annotated with author commentary by Alexander & Jeff? Contribute to our Patreon campaign, and you can see annotated transcripts of every episode!

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