TRANSCRIPT FOR EPISODE 12: OUTBOUND

COLD OPEN

Female Interview 8
What makes Boston great. Umm. I think what makes it great is it’s…old. I mean, it’s historic and…it’s getting taller which kind of I find sad that the buildings are getting taller, because I’ve always liked the fact that there’s a lot of sunlight in Boston because there aren’t a lot of tall buildings.

Female Interview 2
Well I like seeing Boston at night time. You know, I think it’s so beautiful. Umm, the people here are pretty awesome sometimes.

Male Interview 7

Honestly, personally I believe, uhh the people here just definitely much nicer than the area I grew up in.

Female Interview 4
The places you can go just in less than three or five hours by walking distance.

Female Interview 3
Uhh, it’s walkability. And it’s…uh, pretty. I think For the most part. And it’s really great in the spring and the Autumn. It’s very pretty then.

Female Interview 4
You can see from the seaport area to Harvard Square, which is the historic buildings around there.

Female Interview 8
And it’s just, it’s so spread out. I think it’s very manageable to get around.

Female Interview 4
From there you can go to East Boston, see a little bit more of the Latino area. There’s more in East Boston. Revere. The views are amazing.

Male Interview 3
What makes Boston great is its diversity. And how it’s so big on education and how many colleges are home to Boston.

Male Interview 1
Boston’s great because, you know, there’s just a lot to do in it.

Female Interview 4
The jobs that I’ve had, the friendships that I’ve had, the homes that I’ve lived before in a rented apartment, it was amazing. So. Overall it’s just. Boston is great.

PREVIOUSLY IN

James Johnson

Previously, in Greater Boston:

Narrator–Alexander Danner

The count was in. The city of Red Line was officially a thing. An hour later, Park Street Station is empty, Paul Montgomery’s supporters all gone home, still wondering why their mayor has gone away.

Dimitri Stamatis—James Johnson

Claude will push me from the submarine into the ocean below. Once there, I will press the button, a round protrusion festooned with the iridescent image of a prawn. And then, we’ll see what happens.

Nica Stamatis—Kelly McCabe

If it came right down to it, would I be able to save them? Would they be able to save me? Do any of us deserve to be saved?

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

This week, in Greater Boston: Dimitri explores an ancient city in “To Atlantis;” Gemma explores a brand new city in “To Braintree;” and Nica goes back to where it all began in “To Wonderland.”

[Music ends]

All of that in the season finale of Greater Boston: Outbound.

TO ATLANTIS, PART 1

[Alien sonar ping]

[Subaquatic machine noises]

[Gaseous noises]

Dimitri Stamatis—James Johnson

Dear Leon:

I wrote to you once about my love of living within a riddle, but I write to you now from the end of an answer, feet firmly planted in your beloved domain. Perhaps it will not surprise you to find that I do not like it here.

After escaping from the sub, I felt certain I was on a collision course to a watery grave, but every time some tangle of jagged rocks or gnarly coral seemed on the verge of collision, ready to rip through the metal around me, the craft skillfully navigated out of the way.

[Oceanic piano music]

I realized through experimentation that something in the machinery of the vessel was guiding it — and me — towards a destination, a kind of homing beacon. I learned how to control the craft myself but decided to see where it was ultimately taking me, using the mechanical arms of my vessel to fish for marine life in my spare time. No easy task, but an important one for the sake of subsistence.

And now my tiny aquatic vessel rests in the heart of Atlantis. Perhaps it’s not the Atlantis, the ancient city drowned by its own arrogance. Even if it’s not, it could still be an Atlantis — a real underwater city whose presence hinted at the mystery of the original myth.

Whatever, wherever I am doesn’t matter. I shall continue to refer to it as Atlantis. What else to call a lost city I’ve found under an ocean? For your sake, I’ll refrain from calling it Pacificus, a word I have no doubt you’d refer to as an abomination of phonetics.

You can imagine my exhilaration as I neared my destination. The bottom of the vast Pacific is dark, eerie, alien and the bright lights from my craft cast ghastly shadows in every direction. When I saw the first mighty tower — Leon, oh, how I gasped. It was magnificent, dark, imposing, rectangular, like a skyscraper, the John Hancock, but missing windows, made of ancient white and gray coral and bone, covered in thick seaweed and aquatic parasites.

Then another tower in the distance and another beyond that, dozens of them, all the same size and design. Imagine a city with the most banal skyline, every skyscraper the same height and dimensions, the same measure of space between them, all cast in oppressive darkness like tombstones for gods.

[Whale calls]

I marveled at the construction while feeling simultaneously perplexed by their practicality. I slid my craft through those majestic, imposing streets for weeks, delighting in the uniform architecture, the homogenous design, the ancient ingenuity. I’d always pictured the city brightly lit, like our own Boston but underwater, glistening even in the dark heart of the ocean. But those tall structures cast even darker shadows over the streets and alleys I navigated through while trying to draw a map of my discovery.

And soon after that, I discovered Atlantis’ obvious, horrible secret.

[Music ends]

[Vessel sounds end.]

To Braintree:

[Traffic noises.]

Gemma Linzer-Coolidge—Lydia Anderson

Here we go, Monty. Mommy’s sending us into the Underworld. Other mommy, that is. We need to figure out that shi—shtuff. Apparently, I need to figure a out lot of shtuff, including how to talk to you without swearing.

[Baby fussing]

Not that you can understand me, not unless I learn how to burp curses, which I promise never to do. But first and foremost, we need to figure out how you can tell your two mommies apart. We can’t both be mommy, can we? But we certainly can’t be Mommy #1 and Mommy #2 because Mommy #2 sounds like Mommy #Poo. I guess I’ll take an informal lesbian-mother social-media poll. In the meantime, you can call her Mommy, I guess. I’ll just be Gemma.

[Phone buzzing]

Hang on, getting yet another text from Mommy Dearest.

Charlotte Linzer-Coolidge—Summer Unsinn

Are you there yet? What’s taking so long? You left an hour ago.

Gemma

On second though, Monty, why don’t we go ahead and decide that Charlotte is Mommy #2.

Gemma

[Text-typing sounds]

Hi, Char. We’re standing outside of a Park Street entrance now. I’m moving slowly because I have our living, breathing offspring strapped to me like a bomb. (Bomb emoji) Speaking of bombs (two bomb emojis) our beloved Monty dropped several during the trip. Bombs of the stink variety, specifically, so they needed to be attended to immediately because there’s nothing worse than wearing a poopy midget on a crowded, confined tube that lurches forward like a drunk, motorized Frankenstein. (baby emoji, diaper emoji, poop emoji, train emoji, Frankenstein emoji).

But we’re here now, about to defend your beloved underworld. Updates commencing shortly.

[End texting]

Gemma

Deep breath, Monty. In Greek mythology, the Underworld was where the dead people went. They’d need to carry a coin under their tongues to pay Charon, the Ferryman, to transport them deeper into death. If they couldn’t pay, they’d be forced to wander the shores of the Underworld for a hundred years. Don’t worry. Our Charon probably has a Southie accent and we don’t need to stick pennies down our throats. I have a Charlie Card, we’re covered.

I probably shouldn’t start you off with Greek Mythology. Something with dogs, maybe. Spot or Biscuit or Clifford, not Cerberus. He was the three-headed dog that guarded the entrance into the Underworld. He decided which direction the souls went. Clifford can’t compete with that.

[Baby fussing]

Here we go. Our new home. Let’s see where our souls are headed now. I’ve always wanted to see what Braintree looked like.

[chaos, alarms chiming, people yelling, things being thrown, general clatter]

Oh…my god.

[Phone buzzing noise]

Charlotte

You have to have an update by now.

Gemma

[Text typing]

Everything A-OK. People settling in, picking out train cars, sitting down together and hashing out a representative government. (multi-racial holding-hands emoji) Just like what we expected.

[Sounds of fire]

Charlotte

Told you not to bullshit me. I’m coming down there.

Gemma

You stay put or we’re going to have words that will warp young Monty’s fragile little brain. (Baby emoji) The doctor’s said you needed rest. (Stethoscope emoji) Rest from work, rest from the baby. (Bed Emoji)

Charlotte

Colon. Left parentheses.

Gemma

Fine. Real talk from now on.

The trains aren’t moving. They’re all stacked on top of each other in the station. Protesters are standing on the tracks, in the small spaces between trains. They’re chanting for housing, for representation, for the Mayor.

Nobody has seen the Mayor. Someone told me chaos broke out shortly after he failed to show-up for his victory speech.

Apparently a gang of bikers rode down quickly and claimed the first train as their own. They opened up all the doors and rode their bikes down the entire length of a train, doing tricks and jumps all the way.

[Biking sounds]

By gang of bikers, I don’t mean like, biker gang; scary, intimidating motherfuckers in leather jackets and badass Sam Elliot mustaches. I’m talking about dudes on bikes with cute little bells and plastic pansy helmets.

[Bike bell]

They’re also the reason we haven’t seen much media coverage. A few of their members have been guarding the T entrances and forbidding camera crews, claiming the media isn’t welcomed inside, and I quote, “Fixie city.”

[Drum & chanting]

Apparently, they were angry about the old laws, not being able to bring their bikes on trains during certain hours of the day. They were out for revenge.

Some people are attempting to remodel train cars they’ve claimed as new homes.

[Power tools]

There’s an older woman asking strangers for help moving a grand piano down the steps. I wish I were kidding. She says she’s fine with people taking it apart and putting it together again, as long as they know what they’re doing.

[Piano falling]

There’s a few interior decorators going to work who figured out how to lock their train doors. Others are being scared off by intimidating protestors claiming that there’s been no decision on which citizens go where.

[Good time music]

There’s a packs of college students hanging up cliches where T-ads used to be, Tie-dyed posters of Bob Marley. They’re smoking bongs and reading Kierkagaard out loud between rips.

[Music ends]

There’s regular commuters. Some of them got so frustrated they tried to drive the trains themselves, which went about as well as you’d expect. It’s one of the reasons the trains are all stacked together. Derailments up and down the entire line. Some commuters decided to walk the tunnels for some reason, too dumb shit to realize they don’t need to be underground to do that, I guess.

[Fabric cutting sounds]

Meanwhile, I saw a guy pulling out a box cutter and cut all the fabric out of the seats, like he was scalping them or something. Cutting them right off, gathering them in his arms, like he was collecting a stack of the flattest, nastiest goddamn toupee’s in existence. Left the car when he was done, moved on to the next one.

There’s another guy claiming to sell real estate on the Red Line. I’m guessing it didn’t take too long to figure out he was phony fucking bologna because he’s tied up next to a garbage can with a giant cardboard sign saying, and I shit you not, “Carpet Bagger.”

A flood of people crammed into Park Street after the referendum was announced. By the time the first train headed Northbound to Alewife and emerged from Park Street over the Charles, it was on fire.

There’s more. I could go on all day. It’s a mess, Charlotte. I’m sorry, I wish I could lie to you.

Charlotte

I’m coming down there. Don’t swear in front of the baby. (Colon. Left parentheses.)

Gemma

(Stop sign emoji) The doctors aren’t letting you go anywhere and I’m fucking texting. (Cellphone emoji0 Your baby is bound to be smart, but he can’t read yet. We’ll worry about the swear jar later. Get some rest.

Charlotte

Fine. You need to do it then.

Gemma

Do what?

Charlotte

You need to be there for me. You need to be my eyes and ears. You need to lead.

Gemma

Are you kidding me?

Charlotte

I worked too hard to let this all go to hell. And need I remind you, this is all we’ve got right now. We need this to work because you’re not working. So if you’re not going to let me do it, get to work at figuring it out yourself. I’ll text all the help you need. Ready?

Gemma:

Hang on.

[Running, grunt]

Hey. Hey! That’s my bag. That’s — someone stop that guy, he stole my bag. Stealing from a baby, really classy move ass…ass…assassin…of…my personal security, uhh…oh, damn it Monty, I’m sorry, but that guy was an asshole. You’re not too young to learn that.

Louisa

Is this your bag?

Gemma

Oh, yes. Thank you so much.

Louisa

He dropped it outside of that car with all the people jamming on Brazilian instruments.

[Rummaging sound]

Gemma

No, no, no, where is it?

Louisa

Did he take something? Your wallet?

Gemma

My crystal ball.

Louisa Alvarez—Julia Propp

Excuse me?

Gemma

Oh. God, I must sound like some soothsaying sham-artist. It’s worth absolutely nothing but I — I took comfort in it. And I need it. My life is literally in hell right now. I mean, look around you. I’m the lucky lotto winner who’s just been pegged by my wife to try and lead this anarchy into organization. There are two things in the universe that are making me feel better right now. This bundle of drool and poop, and that crystal ball.

Louisa

I could try to find it for you.

Gemma

I couldn’t ask you to do that.

Louisa

It sounds silly, but I took this class in college. Forensic photography? I’m a photographer and they try to prepare you for all sorts of employment because, well, you’re going to be a photographer. And I really loved it. And I’ve been looking for a change anyway. Speaking of which, I take it you haven’t seen a weird looking guy typing obsessively into his phone, have you? Tall, lean, handsome, slightly balding?

Gemma

Normally I’d see nothing but weird looking people typing into their phone. But today? I haven’t, sorry.

Louisa

I lost him in all the chaos when he went down here. Well, I’m still going to find that weirdo, but let me try to find your ball too. I’ll take some pictures of the bag, its contents, where it dropped, anything else in the area. I’ll analyze them for clues and go from there. Deal?

Gemma

I— I don’t know what to say.

[Sounds of increasing mob chaos]

Louisa

Well, whatever you’re going to say, say it loud and say it to them. Looks like things are ready to get out of hand soon.

Gemma

Okay, Monty. Ain’t nothing left to do but face forward, away from Hades. One foot after the other.

People. People, please! Listen to me. I don’t know where the Mayor is, but I’m married to his second in command, the Red Line hero, Charlotte Linzer-Coolidge.

Random Stranger in Distance

Let’s get her!

Gemma

Hang on, sir! I have a baby strapped to my chest and I’m not afraid to use it for manipulative, anti-violent purposes!

Now listen. I know things are bad. To be completely honest, I always knew this was an insane idea. If my wife wasn’t working on it, no way in hell I’d vote for this nonsense.

And I’m not the mayor and I’m not my wife. But I’m a citizen, just like you. A citizen of Red Line. And I just met a fellow citizen and you know what she did? She offered to help me.

That’s what it’s all about. That’s what we need to do. To get organized and help each other out.

So here’s what I want you to do. Get in groups. Gather around the twenty people closest to you. Go on, get together, you’re not in nursery school, this shouldn’t be too hard for you.

Now talk amongst yourself and elect the smartest one amongst your twenty to represent you. Decide via popular vote. The winner of your group represents you, your interests, your family, so make sure you pick someone that has your best interests at heart.

And then I’ll meet with your representatives. And we’ll start figuring this shi—shtuff out. Okay?

Okay?

[More reasonable mob sounds]

[Monty burps]

Heh. Thanks, Monty. Okay.

Nick’s No-Nick

[Patriotic flute music]

Nick the Barber—Jim Johanson

[Scissors snipping]

You need a haircut. Maybe a shave. But are ‘ya sick ‘a getting nicked? [Ouch!] Then come to Nick’s. Now open on train 5 of the Redline. Car six, Ashmont line.

Our money back guarantee ensures that every cut will be pristine and pain free. Don’t believe us? Find us on the Redline and hop into the big chair. The only nick you’ll see is the guy doin’ the cuttin’. Yes sir, you’ll get no red lines on our Red Line, if you catch my drift. No nicks or cuts of any variety, despite getting your hair cut in a high velocity moving vehicle that often stops short for reasons beyond any of us.

[Squeezing brake sounds]

Don’t believe us? Ask some of our satisfied customers.

Customer 1—Marck Harmon

I was just thinking that I needed a haircut on the way into work today. I’ve got this important meeting. The train shows up and the first thing I see is a barber poll outside the door. The doors swing open and there’s Nick. I mean, come on dude. That’s service.

Customer 2—Sam Musher

Nick’s like a surgeon with the scissors. Unbelievable. He’s a genius.”

Customer 3—Jeff Van Dreason

The train operator had a heavy foot, both on the gas and the brake. We were lurching around all over, but Nick didn’t miss a beat. He didn’t even stop cutting, he just gripped the handrail with one hand and snipped away with the other.”

Nick the Barber

Who’s got the time to get a haircut before work? Who wants to bother when its quitting time? Kill two birds and find us on the Redline. Remember — if Nick nick’s ya, you don’t pay a dime.

Nick’s no-Nick Barber Shop. Now open on the Redline.

[Scissors fade]

[Flute fades]

TO ATLANTIS, PART 2

[Oceanic piano music]

[Alien sonar ping]

[Vessle noises]

Dimitri Stamatis—James Johnston

Weeks into surveying, I saw a crack in one of the towers, a shimmering light illuminating through the other side. I searched the tower for an entrance and found a small hole at the base.

[Chipping sounds.]

I used the mechanical arm controls to chip away at an entrance and carefully steered the craft inside the tower.

They were housing marine life that were hiding inside, a very particular kind of fish or marine mammal, large, dark blobs, whales so pitch black they looked like floating, collapsed stars. At first I thought they might be dead, but as I approached, they awoke. And when they awoke, they… they turned on. They shone like seven suns, illuminating everything around me, reacting to my presence in fear. And then they swam away, down towards the top of the towers.

Yes, they swam down. To the top. I’d always assumed I was looking at Atlantis as it always was. I’d assumed the towers were the surface of the city. I was mistaken. I was looking at Atlantis as it is now. The towers were the base, enormous anchors designed to tether the island-city to the ocean floor The glowing-whale creatures swam past me, deeper towards the bottom and they illuminated the real city of Atlantis, buried beneath the ocean floor in a gigantic glass bubble. I realized I’d been looking at the entire city from the outside in, not the inside out, and that the entire aquatic marvel was upside down.

I followed the whales and they continued to glow in panic, illuminating a gigantic aquatic megalopolis that was truly dazzling. Ancient and modern simultaneously in its design and ambition, more of a city of the future than the ancient past. As if the Manhattan of science-fiction films drifted to the Bermuda triangle and was projected far into the depths of ocean and time.

I floated through the city in awe, scribbling down all the wonders I could — public parks, centers for government and education, markets. The towers I thought were monotone were replaced by different types of architecture, as varied as what you’d find among a city like Boston, Trinity Church reflected in the glass of the imposing Hancock tower. I spent days pouring over the details of what must have been a cathedral constructed of seashell and aquatic rock of different colors, reminiscent of stained glass. As I drew closer, I noticed an entire myth cut into the walls of the building, carvings depicting the story of the man who falls into the ocean and learns how to breathe under water. He visits every inch of the seven oceans, naming every sea creature and plant. But after eons of time he grows lonely and cold and prays for release. The gods take away his ability to breathe, and his dying breath emits a batch of bubbles that form the basis of Atlantis.

[Sad music plays]

As I floated closer to the real heart of this upside-down city, as the glow-whales illuminated my vision, the amazing nature of this place slipped away and was replaced by a dreadful, obvious thought.

There were no people. No mermen or fish creatures or aquatic monsters to attend all those markets and cathedrals, to wander the beautifully wide, coral reef streets. The city was meant for millions. Everyone who had once been here, whoever or whatever they were — were now all gone.

Yes, I solved the riddle of Atlantis. And now that my mystery was solved, the answer pointed to a cold truth I wasn’t prepared for.

I was alone.

[Whalesong]

I watched the glow whales reach the bottom of the large dome, swimming around in a frenzy as if trying to teach me something. It was comical, like an old episode of Flipper. I piloted my craft near their location, careful not to get too close to their radiant, flipping tails and fins. That’s when I saw the crack through the glass, jagged like a fault line cut by Poseidon’s trident.

The crack led to a large hole near what would be the very top of the glass dome. Except I could not see the hole. It was blocked by thousands upon thousands of human-like skeletons, their bones tangled up in each other; femurs in ribs, spines in fibulas, smaller skulls crushed into larger ones, others impaled by spines. The mass of their horrible extinction was plugging the cracked hole in the bubble. I watched them for hours. Occasionally one skeleton or a mixture of bones mashed together would wiggle free from the hole, caught up in the oppressive current. I’d watch them slip away form the other side of the bubble’s surface, the ocean carrying them to whichever grave it wanted. I theorized that this crack must have been what led to Atlantis’ undoing, drowning the city, tipping it over and — and well, the rest speaks for itself.

I don’t deny I found beauty in it. But like the rest of Atlantis, this beauty came with a price.

INTERVIEW: WHAT COULD MAKE BOSTON GREATER

Male Interview 2
Uhh, it’d be great if it wasn’t so expensive? But also the, like, everything closes at 2 and it just needs, and that’s a problem. It needs to close — I wanna be able to to get like all kinds of great food until like five in the morning.

Female Interview 3
I don’t know, maybe the people friendlier? You know, you hear that all the time. And I’m from New Jersey and you wouldn’t expect it, the people are much friendlier there.

Female Interview 3
That’s all. People need to be a little bit nicer, that’s it.

Interviewer — Jeff Van Dreason
Fair enough.

Male Interview 2
Because after two, all that’s left is like 24/7 Chinese foods that like sells like pizza also and it’s just terrible.

Female Interview 8

Oh if it wasn’t so expensive. The cost of living is too high.

Male Interview 3

What could become better once again is the pricing of everything in Boston, the price of living, the price of clothing, food, essentials, non-essentials.

Female Interview 8
And I wish I understood why…that was. That would make it much better, if it was more affordable.

 

Female Interview 2
Sometimes the streets like it gets so dirty sometimes it’s kinda like — this is where I live?

Female Interview 5
Well I know one thing that could make it greater is more respectable people. A lot of people are disrespectful. Especially people from my generation. Like, youngins, if you will?

Female Interview 1
Uhh, the public schooling system. I went to Boston Public Schools all my life and I feel like, umm, the density’s really…well, the neglection I guess? Umm.

Female Interview 8
It’s crazy driving I….I think that if you’re not familiar with the city, the streets aren’t on a nice grid like they are in say New York City, so that can be a challenge.

Female Interview 5
They’re a lot more disrespectful than older generations so that would make it a better place.

Female Interview 2
Because like the neighborhood I live at is like so dirty and I’m like, oh my god, like, who through that there, why’d they threw that there?

Male Interview 7
If it didn’t snow so much. That would probably make it better.

To Wonderland:

[Funeral chorale begins]

Nica Stamatis—Kelly McCabe

Being here tonight reminds me of being on the T. You can hear it…

[Nica’s monologue continues in background]

[Sewing machine fades in]

Narrator—Alexander Danner

Nica had been on her way to Davis Square on the Redline to perform at the Someday Cafe open mic night when she impulsively found herself giving her planned performance during the middle of her ride.

[Subway noise grows]

Train Conductor over Intercom—Alexander Danner

This is a Braintree train. Braintree train.

Narrator

She continued giving performances on countless redline rides for days after. Most of the passengers avoided her completely, which made her speak louder, move into their line of vision, feeling emboldened to disrupt their day, dammit, until they acknowledged her somehow. Most chose not to, even after she pleaded for help.

Some did help her. Some asked if she was okay, especially when she started shaking.

[Snippet of Singer Sew & Vac commercial plays in background]

[Red Line T ads play in background]

But it never seemed like enough and their concern always felt tamed and timid, as if they were afraid of getting too close, afraid of getting sick, catching crazy.

[Commuter chatter]

Was she crazy now? She supposed this wasn’t normal behavior, but she didn’t feel crazy. If anything she felt like doing her performances were preventing her from going totally bug-nuts. So she kept at it. If acting bug-nuts prevented her from going bug-nuts than acting but-nuts it was, no matter how people reacted.

[Terminus bell rings]

One day, Nica entered a Big Red car and found herself inside the Someday Cafe. At least that’s what she initially thought. They were constructing a new location: “Someday on the Redline.”

Someday Cafe MC—Jeff Van Dreason

I’d just like to thank everyone for coming out to the Someday Cafe open mic night.

Narrator

She noticed they were putting up subway tile on the kitchen backsplash.

Someday Cafe MC

Up next we have…

Narrator

Cute.

Nica

Which is why I’m not coming to open mic night anymore.

Narrator

That’s when she decided it was time to leave the redline, spread Leon’s message elsewhere. Bringing her open mic night down to the trains and commuters had been one thing.

[Terminus bell ends]

But now that open mic night had followed her down there? That was a clear sign to leave.

[Subway doors close]

[Nica’s monologue continues in background]

For weeks after, Nica lived like a mole-person. She rode the T, moving from car to car, station to station, speaking to strangers about Leon and his final message, sometimes getting dragged out by security, shins scraping against edges of escalators, shoved into the sidewalk, forced to walk to another MBTA entrance or another line before starting again.

Nica

For all of us unloved cowards…

And that’s when she found herself bound for Wonderland.

[Subway doors try to close, but fail.]

And that’s when she froze again.

Nica

Help me.

Narrator

Like she had that day at Park Street.

[Doors close]

When she stared into the eyes of that stupid, drunk fool, lights from the oncoming train reflected in his hazy, glazed eyes.

Nica

I can’t stop shaking.

[Train resumes motion.]

Narrator

The last time she’d been on the BlueLine was to go to Wonderland with Leon.

This time, she wasn’t foolish enough to think it was a sign. How many signs must one woman believe in before she started seeing them in every ray of light and crooked antenna? No, it just felt right. She’d ride that rollercoaster over and over again until they dragged her away. After, she’d figure out where to go from there.

[Train fades out.]

[Carnival music and crowd fade in.]

Wonderland park was in the process of closing for the season, so the lines were virtually nonexistent. People were already preparing to hibernate through the winter months, some of them quite literally retreating underground.

By the time she managed to get to the front of the line, hours had gone by and Nica was in the wrong position, near the tail of the ride. She needed to be towards the front, three seats back, on the left. She knew it was silly, this restoration of past events, but she persisted, asking the teenager behind her to take her place so she could line up near the front.

The ride operator was chomping on an unlit cigar and squinted at her as she swapped places.

Don’t I know you?” he asked.

Nica assured him he didn’t and chided him for smoking around children.

Ain’t real,” he said, hitting a button that lowered the hand rails.

[Hand rails dropping.]

Candy. Just a prop. Gets me into character.”

Nica gave him thirty-eight dollars, her last remaining cash on hand, asking if she could sit in a particular seat and ride the Whirladon for the rest of the day. The faux-stogie chomper shrugged and pocketed the money.

Sure I don’t know you? You seem awful familiar.”

Nica assured him again, he must be mistaken.

Someone sat next to her, a short man wearing a black and white sweater. She felt disrespected, as if Leon’s seat was a preserved shrine, and told the man that the last time she took this ride, her brother had died, right where he was sitting.

It worked, the black and white dude retreated farther back on the ride. The operator squinted at her, sucked on his fake cigar and pulled a lever.

[Roller coaster ratcheting up.]

[Music and crowed fade into distance.]

The ascent was the worst part. The torturously slow mechanical clicking, which reminded her of all the horrid clocks she’d heard during Leon’s wake. The lurching of her body against the restrictive belts that dug into her flesh. The feeling of being exposed to height and air, held up for anyone who could possibly judge her. She couldn’t look down, wouldn’t look down until she neared the top. The Boston skyline glistened from the setting sun setting beyond it, looking new and old at the same time, jagged and beautiful. She dug her hands into her front hoodie pocket and felt Dimitri’s puzzle box.

[Puzzle box rattles.]

She did not want to hang on to the guard rail so she clutched that instead.

The mechanical thumping stopped and the cars ahead of her rode over the hump at the top of the track.

[Ratcheting stops with a thunk.]

[Wind blows.]

[Riders shriek.]

The riders ahead of her screamed and then she saw it, the drop that looked like it was going straight into the ground, straight into death, into hell. Physically, it felt like this should be the end. She wondered if Leon had thought something similar before uttering his last word. She thought of how she’d screamed with laughter during the drop last time, exhilaration coursing through her like fire, making her limbs shake until she realized she was sharing a ride with the flopping corpse of her brother.

Nica felt herself drop.

[Rollercoaster descends, then fades into silence.]

She didn’t hold on, didn’t grip her restraints, didn’t raise her arms to feel the air pushing against her. She didn’t scream, she didn’t laugh. She felt no exhilaration. She let herself fall and wondered if this was what jumpers felt like in the last seconds of their lives.

[Rollercoaster sounds, with screaming passengers resume.]

The screams from the other passengers were her soundtrack during the quick two minutes of the trip. It’d felt a lot longer than last time. It’d never occurred to her how similar the sounds of screams and laughter were until she was surrounded by both (sometimes from the same person at the same time) while she sat in silence and let her body flop to the physics of the machinery, living deadweight in an emotion producing machine.

[Sewing machines fade in.]

[Drum march begins.]

[Child’s chiming toy fades in.]

She rode countless more times. Nobody sat next to her. There was plenty of room on the Whirladon and people seemed afraid of her. She was slumped back in her seat, limbs limp and she did not look at anyone. She did not look excited or nervous. She stared through the tracked hill ahead of her, towards her next ascent, her next drop, the next loops and screams and yells and laughter, towards the repetition. Each ride eventually felt the same. She lost focus of the idiosyncratic differences — a man cursing over and over again during the fourth ride — a woman praying through the seventh. They all took place simultaneously. It was all one ride. They were all on it together, forever, but only she knew what it was like to ride it like this. The ride didn’t end when you got out of the car and went to get cotton candy and funnel cake. The ride never ended. Until it did. Until it was too late. Until you weren’t even aware it was over.

Leon’s last word echoed in her head.

[All sounds fade out.]

Closing soon,” the fake-cigar carny told her after several hours. “One last ride.”

Nica chuckled. Sure. One more.

Someone sat next to her. She felt like he or she wouldn’t last. She felt like they’d get a good look at her dead eyes and weightless body and think better of it, but she continued to feel the strangers presence.

Nica told the stranger the same thing she told the last one. Her brother had died in this spot the last time she’d taken this ride. Her words sounded deadpan, devoid of any vitality

The stranger told her that wasn’t true.

Stranger—Mike Linden

Oh, I know that isn’t true. I’ve been watching you. You’ve taken this ride quite a few times tonight. Alone, every time.

Narrator

Nica turned to look at him. He was well built, well groomed, with a large hat that covered the top half of his face. He was wearing a suit that might have been expensive in the late 70’s and still somehow seemed fashionable.

Nica asked who he was and the stranger shrugged.

Stranger

Only a man who liked rides, games, excitement, fun.

Narrator

The slow accent began.

Nica squished against the side of her seat, pushing her hands into her hoodie again, digging her nails into Dimitri’s puzzle box.

[Puzzle box rattles.]

A thought occurred to her. She took it out and looked at it.

Stranger

Don’t I know you from somewhere? The news, maybe?

Narrator

The way he was looking at her, with the slight curl of a smile, told her that he clearly did.

They reached the top of the hill. Nica pulled the puzzle-box back in one hand and launched it into the night towards the Boston skyline, watched it spiral and glint with light before vanishing into darkness.

Nica

Nope.

Narrator

And they began their descent.

PAGE 113

[Warped, thumping version of game show music plays.]

Leon Stamatis—Braden Lamb

The child was born before the nation existed.

The letter M.

Incorrectly.

A stamp.

Silence.

A river.

Nothing.

Tomorrow.

The coffin.

[Clock bell chimes]

To Atlantis, Part 3

[Oceanic music]

[Alien sonar ping]

[Vessel noises]

Dimitri Stamatis—James Johnston

I wept at the sight of Atlantis’ end and finally navigated to what I believed was some kind of shrine or ancient burying ground. I longed to get out and walk around, I wanted to try and pace through the the coldness growing inside me. I wanted to put steps into the empty streets, force a small heartbeat into this dead city. When I got closer, I realized it was some kind of transportation hub, a bunch of glass or plastic bubbles underneath what I mistook as the shrine, a way to transport beings from one part of the city to the other. The bubbles were of similar design to the exterior of the city itself. The glow-whales retreated into the base of another large anchor and the light slowly slipped away from the world. I watched it go out slowly, eclipsing the doomed beauty, casting it in darkness.

[Hopeful music]

I thought of that time I saw you on the subway, Leon. Do you remember that? We were in different redline cars. The train bent a certain way around a corner and I was casually looking through the window of the car next to mine. And as the train bent around the curve, approaching Harvard Square Station, you popped into my view from the next car, sitting peacefully, smiling at me. You chuckled, gave me a little wave, a nod. And then the train reached the station and you got out.

I thought about getting out and saying hello. But I didn’t. I was on my way to some new adventure. I was late and I knew I’d see you again and I just didn’t want to be bothered. You stood there, awkwardly on the platform, expecting me to at least pop out and shout a hello. And I waved through the window and faked laughter, shrugging my shoulders, pointing towards the direction of the train, trying to indicate I had to keep going.

I didn’t think much of this at the time. I thought it was an amusing part of city life, the fun and inventive ways our city and its technology can reveal the charm of its humanity to its citizens.

Now I wish I’d gotten out. Now I wished I’d left my car, found you, embraced you, laughed with you about how funny it was that you popped into my field of vision as the train bent through that curve. The randomness of that. The delightful happenstance. The divine timing of it.

I think back to when I started my journey. In an earlier letter, I wrote you concerning the Ludlows’, who swore they saw Sasquatch in the form of other members of their group. The wonder they felt towards their discovery — and I allowed them to keep believing in it, even though they weren’t looking at a mythical beast, only at each other. How I pitied them, then.

Only now, as I float through this enormous, oppressive tomb, once an epicenter of vitality do I realize what a fool I’ve been.

I spent my entire life endlessly searching for something like this horrible Atlantis. I’ve argued with you bitterly about the believability of this kind of mythical magic. And now that I’ve found it, I understand it has no use to me whatsoever, nor to anyone.

[Hopeful music fades out.]

[Dripping sounds]

I’m alone. I’m alone at the bottom of the ocean. I’m in hell, Leon. That’s what this is. Hell is a city without her citizens. It took me finding a dead, empty city for me to realize how much I missed the living one I was always so desperate to leave behind.

I’ve found something. I’ve solved the riddle And I’ve found nothing. Nothing at all.

[Silence]

I miss you. When I see you again, I’m going to hug you like I should have hugged you that day on the redline. I don’t want this ocean between us anymore. I’m coming home. Tell Nica I miss her too. Give her a hug for me.

With Love from Atlantis,

Dimitri

CREDITS

[Charlie on the MTA, sad version]

Narrator—Alexander Danner
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: James Johnston as Dimitri Stamatis, Lydia Anderson as Gemma Linzer-Coolidge, Summer Unsinn as Charlotte Linzer-Coolidge, Julia Propp as Louisa Alverez, Braden Lamb Leon Stamatis, Alexander Danner as the Narrator and Kelly McCabe as Nica Stamatis.

Also featuring Jim Johanson as Nick, Marc Harmon, Sam Musher and Jeff Van Dreason as Nick’s customers and Mike Linden as the mysterious stranger.

Interviews recorded with Greater Boston residents.

Charlie on the MTA is performed by Emily Peterson and Dirk Tiede. To Atlantis is performed by David Fernandez. Golden Riddles, Echoes and Points (Act III) by Lloyd Rodgers. Funeral Chorale by Emily Peterson. 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 non-profit workspace for Boston-area writers. Find out more at WritersRoomofBoston.org.

This episode is dedicated to the memories of Amanda Phillips, Allison Warmuth and our teacher Betsy Carpenter.

[Sad Charlie fades out.]

COOKIE

James Johnston

From Atlantis! Wacky!

Noth…nothing’s better than…

Nothing’s better than smaller skulls crushed up inside of bigger sku…that line, I’m just like…it’s like, “There’s bones! There’s ribs! There’s sku….they’re mashed up! Oh! They’re stabbed through the eye, with their spines! Oo.

[General laughing]

Okay.

THANK YOU!

Alexander

Hi everyone, this is Alexander.

Jeff

And this is Jeff.

Alexander

And we wanted to take a minute and thank you for listening and supporting the first season of Greater Boston.

Jeff

We’ve been blown away by the amount of support and attention we’ve received for the show.

Alexander

We’re hard at work on season two. In the meantime, we’ll be releasing mini-episodes every three weeks during the hiatus.

Jeff

If you enjoy Greater Boston, please considering supporting the show however you can. Tell your friends and family. Talk us up on social media. Rate or review us on iTunes. And subscribing on iTunes really helps too, even if you don’t use iTunes to listen to the show.

Alexander

You could also consider donating to our Patreon. Even a one dollar pledge does so much to help us make this show even stronger.

Thank you again and we’ll see soon, back in greater Boston.

Content Notes

  • Strong Language
  • Apocalyptic imagery
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