Transcript for Episode 11: The Red Line Referendum

COLD OPEN

Male Interview 17
Well, I think it’s really sad the end of late night service that, I myself am home in bed by that time?

Interviewer — Jeff Van Dreason
Right.

Male Interview 17
But I think really to be the vibrant city that Boston and the Boston area is, we need to have that kind of world class service.

[Background chatter about Charlie on the MTA song]

Interviewer
So, umm, this November there’s going to be a ballot initiative with everybody in Massachusetts to vote on whether or not the Red Line should secede from Boston, Somerville, Cambridge, all the areas it comes in contact with and form its own independent municipality, its own city, umm with you know businesses, public parks, housing, the whole nine yards. What are your thoughts on that?

Male Interview 17
I completely support the Red Line being an independent government because the Red Line actually has its own culture. And and I actually plan to run for the Mayor of the Red Line.

Interviewer
That is — the best answer you possibly have given us, thank you so much.

Male Interview 17
[Laughter]

PREVIOUSLY IN GREATER BOSTON

Summer Unsinn
Previously…in Greater Boston.

Narrator — Alexander Danner
Charlotte felt a tightening that might very well be her first contractions. But she didn’t have time for that. The baby was just applauding. It just knew a good speech when it heard one.

Narrator — Alexander Danner
Professor Paul Montgomery Chelmsworth tried to walk away from tenure.

The Mayor of the Red Line — James Capobianco
This just isn’t working for me.

Narrator — Alexander Danner
He thought that should reasonably put an end to his career.

Michael Tate — James Oliva
That’s what you call it when you’ve had as many drinks as I drank yesterday. But but but not today. Today I haven’t had any. Leon told me not to. Last night. After he died.

TITLE SEQUENCE

Multiple Voices
Braintree
Arlington
Peabody
Haverhill
Lowell
Alright.
Fall River
Cambridge
Quincy
I can’t say that one without a ridiculous accent, it’s just impossible
Arlington
Framingham
Newton
Lynn
Worcester
This is
Framingham
Waltham
Quincy
Arlington
Revere
Waltham
Somerville
Arlington
Leominster
This is
Haverhill
Medford
Brookline
Somerville
Cambridge
This is
This is
This is
Greater Boston

EPISODE CONTENTS

Alexander Danner

This week in Greater Boston, Charlotte’s labor yields results in “Montgomery,” the Mayor of the Red line prepares his grand entrance in “No The,” and Michael has an unexpected confrontation in a bar in “Liberation.”

[Music ends]

All of that this week in Episode 11, The Red Line Referendum

VOICEMAIL FROM LEON’S LANDLORD

[Ringing telephone]

[Voicemail beep]

Leon Stamatis –Braden Lamb
Hello, you have reached the voicemail of Leon Stamatis. I was not expecting a call at this time, but you can expect that I will retrieve this message within the next twelve hours, as I check my voicemail messages at 11:00 AM and 11:00 PM every day, barring prior scheduled engagements. At the end of this message, 15 seconds from this moment, you will hear a beep. Following the beep, please leave your name, telephone number, complete message, and the time and date that you would like to receive a return phone call.

If this is an unscheduled emergency, please hang up and dial 911. This means you, Demitri.

Leon’s Landlord — Ben Flaumenhaft
This message is for Michael Tate. My name is Uriah Connolly, and I own the property at 17 Orchard St. in Cambridge. I know you’ve been squatting in this property, for the past several months, at least since my tenant Leon Stamatis died. I was unaware of his death until I heard him mentioned on the news, in a speech by that Red Line nut job. You can imagine my dismay to learn that someone I know nothing about has been living in my property for I don’t know how long. I hope you’re checking his voicemail as well as living in his apartment, so that you receive this message. This is to notify you that you are occupying this property illegally, and must vacate immediately. I appreciate that you have kept current on the rent these past few months, and so will not be seeking back rent, although I will certainly press for reimbursement for maintenance if you have committed any damage to the structure. You are not authorized to continue residence. I will be inspecting the property personally on Monday morning. I expect to find it empty.

Thank you, and God bless.

 

CHAPTER 1: MONTGOMERY

[Green Valley Waltz begins playing]

Narrator—Alexander Danner
Gemma was done with gastromancy. Charlotte had insisted, unable to bear the constant gurgles and farts that resulted from Gemma’s gastromantic diet. Gemma resisted pointing out the similar state of Charlotte’s digestive behavior these past few months—she knew that was unfair, even if it was true. Besides, Charlotte’s preggo farts didn’t bother her. She didn’t know when it was exactly that she’d gotten so zen about farts, but…there it was.

Charlotte hadn’t taken the news of Gemma’s firing very well at all. Oh, Gemma tried to spin it positively. She pointed out how much happier they would all be once they found their right places in the world. Charlotte wanted to return to work, and Gemma wanted to stay home, so it was all for the best, wasn’t it? But Charlotte was beyond sympathy.

Charlotte — Summer Unsinn
You don’t like your job, Gemma? So what? Nobody likes their job. That’s why it’s called a job. It’s not a hobby. It’s not playtime. It’s a justification for your existence. So who the hell are you now? Why are you even still here? What’s the point of you?

Narrator
As though Gemma’s job had ever been the point of her. It was easy for Charlotte to think that way, when she had worked so hard at something she genuinely loved. The world didn’t need her to draw imaginary trees next to imaginary buildings in some imaginary city. They didn’t even name the place—it was just The City, capital C, capital “THE.” But Charlotte loved it. She loved it. How can you have that, and then tell someone else not to want the same?

Of course, Charlotte had never said such things before the work she loved vanished from her life. Gemma understood that. She did. She wouldn’t let herself get angry. She wouldn’t snap back at her pregnant wife. She would consider Charlotte’s overripe belly and bite her tongue.

[Music fades out]

She would bite it till she tasted blood.

And now here they were, Charlotte three weeks past due, and the doctors all two-and-a-half weeks past calling for inducement, and Charlotte still telling them all to back off, hold their horses, keep their shirts on. She had even managed to hold off another thirteen days after the Park St. incident. Gemma’d been at home watching the press event, wishing she was there, that Charlotte had welcomed her support for this harebrained scheme that they’d suddenly hitched their lives to. But Charlotte told her to watch it from home like the rest of the citizenry. She had to concentrate she said. She couldn’t have her attention divided.

And so Gemma saw the whole thing live on television, the first asshole jumping the gaps, the second asshole decidedly not jumping the gaps, and then suddenly there was Charlotte hopping down into that chasm, belly and all. Gemma was sure a crazy thing like that would trigger labor in any woman, ready or not. But not Charlotte. Not until after the referendum, she still insisted.

She almost made it too. Another twenty-four hours was all she needed. She could have waited with Paul. Gemma refused to call him The Mayor, since he wasn’t the Mayor of anything, not really, just another weird old academic who thought knowing a lot about one thing meant he had important opinions about everything.

Gemma would have gone, if Charlotte had let her. Wasn’t it traditional for political wives to be there for the party at least?

Well it hardly mattered now, did it? Because Charlotte wasn’t in a Filene’s former Basement with former professor Paul Montgomery Chelmsworth, they weren’t sitting together in their campaign headquarters watching results roll in.

[TV News playing in the background]

She was at Brigham & Women’s Hospital with Gemma. Here they were with their go-bag and their birth plan and their parents waiting downstairs. Every ten minutes a doctor or nurse or intern wandered in to have a quick gander into Charlotte’s vagina and offer brief encouragements.

Charlotte’s eyes stayed fixed on the television the entire time.

Charlotte
Gemma, turn the sound off, they’re only talking about the elections. I don’t care about that. I just want the referendum results.

[TV News muted].

Charlotte
The anchors don’t talk about those. They don’t talk about how the democratic masses come together to pass laws through their own electoral power. They just talk about the new figureheads, the old figureheads, the people who run everything into the ground.

Heh. Running it into the ground is about to become a good thing, isn’t it? If we win? That’s literally what we’ll be doing, running our whole brand new city down through the ground. A city beneath the city. It’ll really be something, Gemma, won’t it? And we’ll be okay, then. The Mayor promised me an appointment. A title. I mean, of course, right? The campaign manager always gets a plum spot once the votes are in. Benefits of nepotism. So long as we win.

We won’t find out from the dicks in suits, though. They won’t talk about the referendums. Maybe the pot one. Everyone likes to talk about how it’s the end of society if a teenager smokes a joint without going to jail for it. But forging a new city from the writhing guts of the old one? That’ll just get a note in the ticker at the bottom of the screen. See, there it goes now—15% of the votes in, and we’re down, 48 to 52, ehh. Revere voted “no?” Ugh, fucking Blue Line. Choo-choo, motherfucker!

[Green Valley Waltz resumes]

Narrator
Gemma said nothing. She held her breath. Then she released it. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Eventually, it was time to push.

The doctors gave Gemma instructions. Hold Charlotte’s leg this way. Pull it back just this much. Steady. Gemma pulled while Charlotte pushed. “The baby’s coming along fine,” said the doctor.

Charlotte
[Labored breathing]. We’ve pulled dead even. Good ol’ People’s Republic of Cambridge is swinging things our way. But we still have to see which way the suburbs go.

Narrator
“The baby’s crowning,” said the doctor, and she invited Gemma to look, invited her to touch even. She guided Gemma’s tentative hand to the little exposed patch of head.

Charlotte
How does he feel?

Gemma — Lydia Anderson
He feels squishy. Like a fleshy Jello-O. Or…or memory foam. That’s less gross, right? His head is so soft. I — I know I’m not hurting him…but I can’t understand how I’m not hurting him. I feel like anything I do could hurt him.

Charlotte
I guess that’s how we’ll feel forever, now.

Narrator
Charlotte resumed pushing.The head emerged, and the baby cried while he was washed and wrapped, only calming once he was back in his mother’s arms.

[Baby crying]

His first mother, the mother who birthed him. Gemma felt a pang of jealousy, but punched it down, hard. She watched her son take the breast for the first time. She watched him drink his fill. After a half hour, he let out the first audible fart of his little life, a low-pitched blat that shook the seat of his swaddling.

[Fart]

Gemma laughed out loud, and so did Charlotte.

[Gemma / Charlotte laughter]

I know exactly what you mean, thought Gemma. And she did. But she didn’t say so, not out loud, not to Charlotte.

Charlotte
Let’s name him Montgomery.

Gemma
After your boss?

Charlotte
After The Mayor.

Gemma
He’s not a mayor.

Charlotte
He is now.

Narrator
She pointed at the screen, so Gemma looked. And there it was. The count was in. 53% to 47.

The city of Red Line was officially a thing.

[Green Valley Waltz crescendos and then fades]

CLOUD CITY AMUSEMENTS

[Cheerful organ music]

Wonderland Ad Voice—Michael Linden
The future is coming…to Wonderland!

[Clown laughing]

That’s right, Wonderland, now under new management will soon be closing its doors for renovations.

[Hammering / screwdriver sounds]

But before the old Wonderland disappears into history, you still have one week to come down and experience the old-fashioned thrills of Whirl-o-Don and Rail-o-Saurus, the quaint pyrotechnics of our Fighting the Flames urban conflagration reenactment, the soporific melodies of our classic carousel.

[Whirling noise / screams / rollercoaster noise / flames / carousel]

Once that week is up, the old Wonderland will be retired forever!

[Gasp! Clown laughing – What?]

But we’ll be back, after a technological overhaul of all our rides and attractions. There will be accelerations, and modernizations, and yes, even robotitizations!

[Mechanical noise / robot vocal]

Out with the old! In with: THE FUTURE.

[Epic reverb]

Join us today—and tomorrow!—at Wonderland.

[Clown laughing]

Brought to you by Cloud City Amusements.

CHAPTER 2: NO “THE.”

[Drum track begins]

Narrator

How can this have possibly happened? It’s unthinkable. Unimaginable. Not once had The Mayor ever considered the possibility that such a preposterous, plainly impractical arrangement might actually reach fruition. But it has! The referendum has passed. The Red Line now has a mayor, really and truly, and he, Paul Montgomery Chelmsworth, is it.

[Drum track cuts out].

Mayor — James Capobianco
No, not *The* Red Line. Just “Red Line” now. It’s a city, no longer a branch of the MBTA, no longer one among a spider’s web of interdependent throughways.

[Weird tension noise builds]

It’s a rogue being, a runaway…

[Drums]

Narrator
No, that’s a terrible metaphor. So obvious. He can’t use that in his victory speech.

[Drums cut / tension noise returns]

Mayor
God, I wish I’d actually written a victory speech.

[Drums return]

Narrator
He had written his concession speech. It was all ready to go, right there on his desk. But he had never planned for the other contingency, the optimal outcome, the extraordinary event. He had never counted on winning.

So now here he is, sitting in his little rolling chair with the one wheel that refuses to turn. The furniture had been here when they claimed the office, former abode of some retail manager at Filene’s Basement. Beyond his office, scattered across the desolate retail floor, bridal gowns still lay in piles, draped over skeletal racks, greying sloughed-off skins, the rejected detritus of the Running of the Brides.

And so Paul Montgomery thinks of Claudia, his own long-ago bride-to-be, who had run that gauntlet some thirty years back, scooping gowns from racks ten at a time, dodging the knuckles and elbows of a legion of pre-marital combatants. Claudia returned home victorious, bruised like a derby girl, someone else’s blood smeared across one cheek. The dress she’d won was hardly worthy of her, but she would wear it a warrior’s pride.

[Drums cut]

Mayor
God, she was glorious.

[Drums return]

Narrator
But that is not what The Mayor should be thinking about. He should be thinking about his speech. This would be easier if Charlotte were here. Charlotte with her efficient dedication, and her clever mind, and her inspiring heroism. Charlotte had followed up on all the paperwork that needed to be filed. Charlotte had drawn up all those beautiful dreamscapes that papered the walls of the subway with fantastical visions of utopian transit.

[Drums cut]

Mayor
And where is she now that I have to face the consequences of her talent?

[Tension noise building]

In the hospital.

Giving birth.

To a baby.

[Tension noise cuts / drums return]

Narrator
Meanwhile, a thousand people are waiting to congratulate him, to cheer his achievement, to ask him when? When will our new homes be ready? When will our new lives begin?

He’d better have an answer.

[Drums cut]

Mayor
I should address the transit employees first. Their entire livelihoods are on the line, no pun intended, god, these train metaphors are so hard to avoid. They just creep in.

[Tension noise builds]

On the line, end of the line, third rail, off the rails, railroading, train of thought, runaway train, there are so damned many of them! How could any culture invest so much in its railroad metaphors, yet so little in its railroads?

[Drums]

Narrator
Oh, that’s good. He can use that. It’s a solid start.

[Drums cut]

Mayor
Then I’ll thank Charlotte. I’ll talk about how her leap onto the tracks embodies the community spirit of Red Line. And I’ll announce the birth of the baby. Charlotte will appreciate the metaphorical value of announcing the birth of the city and the birth of its first baby in a single moment, a single breath, as momentous as the birth as Virginia Dare in Roanoke.

[Drums return]

Narrator
NO, god no, that’s a terrible comparison. Virginia Dare died. Everyone in Roanoke died, probably. They certainly disappeared thoroughly enough, although they might have only just joined the natives, gone off into the wilderness, or what had seemed like wilderness to shortsighted Europeans, but was actually a thriving community, more than capable of absorbing a small tribe of naive, starving white men.

[Drums cut]

Mayor
Well, that was hardly the only time a naive white man wandered off into the wilderness. Claudia would certainly say as much.

[Drums return]

Narrator
And now he’s thinking of Claudia again, wondering where she is, what kind of life she’s lived. He hasn’t heard news of her in years, but how would he? All the friends they’d shared had walked away from him after he’d walked away from her. Who wanted to be friends with someone who abandons his bride three weeks before the wedding, and for no good reason, no reason at all, none that he could articulate anyway?

[Drums cut / weird tension noise builds]

Mayor
It was just too much. Too big a thing. “Husband” is not a title I’ve ever been qualified to hold.

[Tension noise cuts / drumming returns]

Narrator
And now he’s out on the abandoned sales floor, the dark and echoing Basement, with a capital B, trademarked as it was.

[Hanger noises]

There are so many hangers. Thousands of them scattered everywhere. Yet not a shred of clothes save the wedding dresses. How had that come to be? The store had not been a bridal shop, that was only one small part of their stock. Pants and shirts, suits and ties, shorts and socks and lingerie and shoes and hats—all of it was gone but the wedding dresses.

[Drums cut / tension noise returns]

Mayor
This is not where I belong. Not anymore, not 45 minutes after the referendum has ended and victory has been announced by everyone except me. The time has come to improvise. To follow my gut.

[Tension noise cuts]

Narrator
His gut calls for a gin & tonic.

[Drumming returns, echoey footsteps]

Yes, he’s at a bar now.

[Bar ambience / crowd noise]

He walked out of Filene’s Basement, then up the stairs to Winter Street, then Tremont Street, and all the way down to that cramped little booze-hole across from The Majestic. And he sat at the bar and ordered a drink. One for the road. One for Red Line.

[Tension noise returns and builds]

Mayor
How long before Red Line looks like Filene’s Basement? Or Roanoke Colony?

Narrator
He says this out loud to a guy trapped in a staring contest with a shot of whiskey. The guy’s fingers twitch like a cowboy’s preparing for a quickdraw.

Mayor
Longer without me than with me, I’ll wager that much.

Narrator
The guy introduces himself. They spend a while talking. An hour later, Park St. Station is empty.

[Tension noise climaxes]

Paul Montgomery’s supporters all gone home, still wondering what their victory means, what their future holds, why their Mayor has gone away.

[Bar chatter continues]

CHAPTER THREE: LIBERATION

[Glass set down, booze pouring]

Michael — James Oliva
Hi. My name is Michael. I’m an alcoholic. I’m three months sober.

The Mayor — James Capobianco
Paul. Paul Montgomery Chelmsworth.

Michael
The Mayor?

The Mayor
At your service. Tonight only.

Michael
Huh. So. This morning, I found myself unexpectedly homeless. I’m being evicted from the home of my best friend. My dead best friend.

The Mayor
You should try Red Line. They’ll have openings soon. Whole new vistas of domestic comfort.

[Someone feeding Jukebox coins]

Michael
Sure. I’ll do that. Or I’ll drink this. One or the other.

[Dishes / glasses]

This afternoon, at work, I found a bottle of vermouth hidden under a false bottom in my desk drawer. It wasn’t mine. I’m the new guy at work. The old guy left a secret bottle, right there, waiting for me. No gin to go with it. Just straight cheap vermouth. Uhh, apparently, that’s somebody’s thing. Not my thing. I reminded myself of that. Repeatedly. I took that bottle to the bathroom and poured the vermouth down the drain twenty-three minutes after I found it, which was exactly thirty seconds after I’d won the historic battle of “Don’t Drink the Cheap Old Vermouth, Asshole.”

I didn’t throw out the bottle, though. I didn’t even rinse it. It’s still under that false bottom, still a few stray drops in it. I’m sure I could get them, if I tip the bottle just so, work the tip of my tongue deep enough into the neck. Those drops would be right there for the tasting.

[More bar ambient noises — glasses, coins, cups]

But vermouth is not my thing. Whiskey is my thing.

The Mayor
So now you’ve got a whiskey. And you’re just going to walk away from your sobriety? Because you’ve lost your apartment?

Michael
Not my apartment. Leon’s apartment.

[Glasses]

[Jukebox music plays]

I haven’t had my current job very long. Like I said, I’m the new guy. I was in the middle of a binge when I got it. Literally, I was completely drunk the first time I spoke to the woman who hired me. I’m not sure I even understand the job I’m doing. And then there’s the bar in the break room. And the secret booze in my secret drawer. And fucking Tyrell’s fucking margarita-thons. It’s all so precarious.

[Music and sound start to fade out]

But Leon’s been my guide. My lighthouse on the shore. And I’m losing him. Again. The haven he gave me. The landing pad. The cushion. It’s gone. I’m on my own. But I’m not someone who should ever be on his own. I’ve never had the will.

[Sounds and music fade out completely]

I’m trying as best I can not to be okay with that.

[Music and sound fade back in].

The Mayor
Why not be okay with it? There’s freedom in accepting the inevitable. I feel a certain fellowship among the acquiescent. I’ve just done an extravagant bit of quitting myself.

Michael
What are you quitting?

The Mayor
Red Line.

Michael
Your mayorship, that you only just got? Why?

The Mayor
It’s just too much. Too big a thing. Mayor is not a title I’ve ever been qualified to hold. How long before Red Line looks like Filene’s Basement? Or Roanoke Colony? Longer without me than with me, I’ll wager that much.

Michael
But you haven’t even tried yet.

The Mayor
Why attempt what you know you can’t do? Fight or flight. That’s built into us. And we idolize Fight. We always say it, keep fighting, don’t give up, don’t give in, never surrender. Why not? Personally, I’m for Flight. Why lionize intransigence and obsession, chest-beating and jingoism? The cure for a bad job is quitting. The cure for a bad marriage is divorce. The cure for war is surrender. Sometimes it’s best that we stop trying to fix things and simply accept that they are broken and irreparable, and move on from there.

[Jukebox music stops]

We each of us have a nature. We are our nature. I’m going to leave Red Line. You’re going to drink that whiskey. And when we wake up in the morning, we can each of us take solace in the surety that we are still unimpeachably ourselves.

As we have ever been. As we shall ever be. Hallelujah.

That was a “take a drink” line, in case you didn’t notice.

Michael
I noticed.

[More coins in the jukebox]

The Mayor
And yet you didn’t drink.

[Jazzy jukebox music starts to play]

Michael
I imagined that I did. I imagined the taste of it. The liquid burn on my tongue. I imagine it so often, sometimes I think I’ve already done it, it’s already too late, I’ve already given in, so I might as well go ahead and have another. I can still taste it. I can taste the next drink I haven’t taken yet, and the one after that.

It’s like knowing the future.

The Mayor
The future is a lot less scary once you realize it’s not your responsibility. We all just follow our nature. There’s nothing to be done about it.

Michael
Eight eleven five four nine one seven six ten three twelve two

The Mayor
What’s that?

Michael
Proof that you’re wrong.

The Mayor
I don’t understand.

Michael
You knew my friend Leon. You talk about him in your speeches. The man more important than a park.

The Mayor
Leon Stamatis!

Michael
That’s him. Leon was for Fight. He believed in taking charge of his future. Where I’m sitting now? This is the same place I was sitting the time Leon literally pulled me off a barstool and dragged me out to the street. He took charge of my future in a way I never knew was possible right up until I felt his knuckles on the back of my neck, hauling me by my collar. Maybe he’ll do it again. Maybe that woman’ll get some good shots of it. Of me being dragged out of here by a ghost.

Right, I forgot to mention. There’s a woman stalking me. With a camera. You should watch out for her if you’re trying to be sneaky.

The Mayor
I’ll keep an eye out.

Michael
I got on the Red Line at Porter Square this morning. The crazy long escalator had been stopped, and was full of people, all 143 feet of it. And she was there, taking photographs of me, on the escalator, waiting for my train. I tried to strike a good pose, staring impatiently at my watch. Worrying about the future. Worrying about my job. There were all these people, keeping me from commuting. Your referendum hadn’t even passed yet, the voting was still going on, but your supporters were already celebrating, clogging up the platforms so much that lines of commuters were backed all the way up the bomb shelter of a station. You caused that.

Four hours later, I got to work. Nowhere on my calendar does it say “be four hours late to work.” You made that happen. You made me four hours late. To my new job, that I don’t understand, where there’s liquor everywhere, boozy-traps hidden in every nook.

And the funny thing is, I should have predicted the mess on the trains. This is my job now. I’m supposed to be able to figure this out. Predict what will happen. Visualize the future. My future. Everyone’s future. A whole city, with me at the middle of it, sitting right here, not drinking this whiskey. And you. Sitting here. Not leading the city. The city you made. Whatever happens tomorrow? You caused that too.

I play the I-Ching. I guess I shouldn’t say I play it. That’s probably insensitive. It’s a…a philosophy? Or a religion? I don’t even know.

God, I suck at my job.

That was a “take a drink” line, by the way. In case you didn’t notice. The glass was in my hand. I didn’t even realize it at first. Instinct. Nature. Take a drink, Michael. That’s who you are.

[Jukebox coins. “Alcoholic Blues” begins to play]

But I didn’t drink. Not that time. And that’s on me. But when I do—that’ll be on me too.

I can tell you the future right now. We throw some coins, and the I-Ching lays it right out. I bet you’ve got some subway tokens on you. Old ones, right? Like we used to use, with the big ‘ol T stamped in the middle?

The Mayor
I do, actually. Always.

Michael
Good. That’s exactly what we need.

[Coins dropped]

Hexgram 40: Liberation

A Thunderous Cloudburst shatters the oppressive humidity:

The Superior Person knows the release in forgiveness, pardoning the faults of others and dealing gently with those who sin against him.

It pays to accept things as they are for now.

If there is nothing else to be gained, a return brings good fortune.

If there is something yet to be gained, act on it at once.

And then there’s the changing line. That one says:

Free yourself from this useless dependence.

A new and trustworthy companion will appear.

We have to let someone go. That’s what it means. He did what he was meant to do, and we have to forgive him for doing only what he could and no more.

[Bar ambient noise]

So who’s that for?  Sounds like you and the Red Line. Sounds like me and Leon. Could be either one.

This new and trustworthy companion is the crux of it, I think. Obviously, that’s not you. But I’ve got this mysterious shadow, right? The lady with the camera. She caught me at the grocery store yesterday, at 6:00, just as I’d planned, just as I’d scheduled on my calendar. She was peeking out at me from behind the yogurt parfaits. I was selecting rhubarb. I don’t like rhubarb, but it’s such a vivid shade of pink. I thought it would look brilliant on film.

I see her, but she doesn’t know I see her. For the moment, I think I’m winning. But maybe she’s not my opponent. Maybe I’m not hers.

That assumes this is my future. But is it really? Or is it yours? Or everyone’s?

The Mayor
I don’t even know how to know.

Michael
I’ll tell you how to know. You fucking decide. You make a decision. That’s how the future works. It’s always your responsibility, even when you know what it’ll be. Fight, and the consequences are on you. Quit, the consequences of that are on you too. You still caused it. You still caused it by starting, and you caused it by quitting, and there’s nothing you can do to stop causing it. It’s all causes, everything causes something. You cause mem I cause you, and we’re both of us each other’s fault.

And that’s another goddamn “take a drink” line, but I am not gonna take a drink.

[Slams drink down]

That’s the goddamn future.

[Bar stool pulls out]

Goodbye, Mr. Mayor. Enjoy your drink. Enjoy mine, if you want it. I’m done here. I’m leaving. Maybe I’ll be back.

But I’m not giving in to my nature tonight.

[Footsteps, door opens, closes. Bar noise fades. The Mayor takes a sip of his drink, sets glass down].

[Drum tracks begin, followed by “Push That Pigs Foot a Little Farther in the Fire” simultaneously]

CREDITS

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

Please consider supporting the show by donating to our Patreon campaign. Or you can also help the you can also help the show by telling your friends to listen or by rating us on iTunes.

In order of appearance, this episode featured:

Braden Lamb as Leon Stamatis
Alexander Danner as the narrator
Summer Unsinn as Charlotte Linzer-Coolidge
Lydia Anderson as Gemma Linzer-Coolidge
James Capobianco as the Mayor of the Red Line
James Oliva as Michael Tate
Ben Flaumenhaft as Leon’s Landlord
And Mike Linden as the Wonderland Ad Announcer

Interviews recorded with Greater Boston residents.

Charlie on the MTA is performed by Emily Peterson and Dirk Tiede.

Green Valley Waltz and Shove That Pig’s Foot A Little Farther in the Fire by Adrienne Howard, Emily Peterson, and Dirk Tiede.

Drum tracks by Jim Johanson.

Some sound effects and music used from public domain and creative commons sources.

Episode transcripts will be posted online at GreaterBostonShow.com.

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

COOKIE

Jeff Van Dreason
We’re gonna run it right into the ground, all right motherfucker. Welcome to Red Line.

Summer Unsinn
Choo-choo, motherfucker.

Jeff Van Dreason
That’s right. [Laughter]. In fact, if you want to throw in a choo-choo motherfucker? By all means do, where appropriate, because I love that.

[laughter]

CONTENT WARNINGS

  • Strong language
  • Alcohol and alcoholism
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