Transcript for Episode 14: The Watcher Over ThirdSight

COLD OPEN

CHUCK OCTAGON – Jeff Van Dreason
What’s the best thing about Boston?

INTERVIEW 1
The diversity.

INTERVIEW 2
Yeah.

INTERVIEW 3
The education.

MULTIPLE
Yeah.

INTERVIEW 1
Yes, the education.

INTERVIEW 4
I’m trying to think of something.

INTERVIEW 5
I guess the city life.

INTERVIEW X
Housing.

INTERVIEW X
I would say the food.

INTERVIEW X
Housing.

CHUCK
Food’s not a bad answer.

[Laughter]

CHUCK
Nothing else?

INTERVIEW X
Education.

CHUCK
Education?

[Charlie on the MTA begins.]

INTERVIEW X
I feel like…

INTERVIEW X
We got mad Dunkin’ Donuts!

[ALL LAUGH]

INTERVIEW X
Every corner!

CHUCK
Is that really the best thing?

PREVIOUSLY

ARUN SANNUTI
Previously, in Greater Boston:

LOUISA ALVAREZ—Julia Propp
Michael, it was great running into you. Um, I’m curious if you know the person who asked me to look for this stupid ball in the first place. Gemma Linzer-Coolidge?

EXTINCTION EVENT POLETTI—James Capobianco
Dear Mr./Ms. Publisher. I am greatly honored that you have seen fit to elevate my position to that of managing editor over all ThirdSight publications.

THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER—Mike Linden
I’ve been watching you. Don’t I know you from somewhere? The news maybe?

TITLE SEQUENCE

Multiple Voices

Red Line
Arlington
Cambridge
I’m from Dorchester.
Jamaica Plain
Revere
Uhh…I’ve lived in Leominster my whole life.
Hanson
Wellesley
(hate that town)
Lowell
Lexington
Red Line
Worcester
Uhh…I’m from Somerville
Peabody
Tewksbury
Hyde Park
Roslindale
Andover
Dorchester
Newton
Framingham
Medford, Massachusetts
This Is
Lowell
Fenway Park
Red Line!
This Is
Revere
Metheuen
This Is
This Is
This Is
Greater Boston

THIS WEEK

NARRATOR—Alexander Danner
This week in Greater Boston—Episode 14: The Watcher Over ThirdSight

BEING SUMMONED

[Crystal ball rolls across desk.]

[Tense music]

LEON STAMATIS—Braden Lamb
The most unpleasant aspect of being summoned is that it is always unexpected. It is an unanticipated whim that must be indulged. When a crystal ball selects your name from a stack of names, you are called. Even if you have other places to be. Even if you have other plans.

The first time I was summoned was on on Tuesday, September 17th at 4:37 PM.

My first summoning was unintentional. Ms. Linzer-Coolidge had no idea what she was doing when she summoned me. She had no idea the events she was setting in motion. She wanted to be released from obligation, so she handed that obligation over to chance. And chance chose me. My permission was not asked. My calendar was not consulted. I was summoned, and I came, because I could not do otherwise.

But that was okay. There was value in it. An opportunity to help my friend.

[Music ends]

I took that opportunity.

WOEFUL IN WATERTOWN

TYRELL FREDERICKS—Arun Sannuti
Dear Leon,

Of late, I have lost all sense of professional satisfaction. After a man I once counted as a friend received a promotion—with my help!—he quickly transformed into a tyrant and a bully. I have even found myself nostalgic for the anti-social party-pooper who once ran my office. I used to believe in the sacred and inviolate bond of office kinship, but now I have all but given up finding any companions in this place. How can I go on working alongside people whom I cannot love?

Sincerely,

Woeful in Watertown

DEAR LEON

[Dripping noises]

[Crowded market noises in a small, echoey space]

[Echoing ruckus in the distance]

[Ringing phone]

LOUISA ALVAREZ—Julia Propp
Hey, what?

MICHAEL TATE—James Oliva
Louisa? It’s Michael.

LOUISA
Oh, hey.

MICHAEL
Are you alright? You sound weird.

LOUISA
I’m down in the tunnels. I’m taking a foot tour through some of the old maintenance passages.

MICHAEL
Oh man, that sounds…

LOUISA
Creepy as hell? Yeah.

STREET PROSELYTIZER—Mike Linden
Excuse me, ma’am?

LOUISA
Did you know there are settlements down here? I came down looking for clues to get Gemma’s ball, but I’m getting some fantastic photographs. People have started building lean-tos, mushroom gardens, there’s even a sort of flea market that they’re starting to develop.

STREET PROSELYTIZER
Pardon me, ma’am, do you have a moment?

MICHAEL
That sounds amazing. I should do a story on that.

LOUISA
Hang on a sec, Michael. / What do you want?

STREET PROSELYTIZER
Well, I’d very much like to tell you about…The Bible!

LOUISA
What? No. Thanks, I’m familiar with it. You can go now.

STREET PROSELYTIZER
But aren’t you concerned for the state of your soul?

LOUISA
I’m concerned for the state of lots of things. My love life. Arts education in America. The future of Red Line. But my soul? The state of my soul is all peaches and cream. Thank you very much.

MICHAEL
Should I let you go?

LOUISA
No, please. This place is full of weirdos. Even the Jesus-muggers have started working rubes down here. [Shudder] I probably shouldn’t have come on my own. It’s good to have you on the line, in case things get weird. Could you just keep talking, while I skulk around? Just talk to me. What are you working on?

MICHAEL
Oh, today’s advice column day.

LOUISA
Yikes. That sounds hard.

MICHAEL
It kind of isn’t, actually. Most of the time, it’s the easiest part of my job. It’s funny, I’ve always been on the other side of the advice-giving. Leon would tell me what I needed to do, and then I’d feel stupid for not figuring it out myself.

But now I’ve got these people writing in to me with these questions. And nine times out of ten, the answer is so easy, I’m sure they already know it. They just need to hear someone else say it.

Like this one letter I got:

[Tunnel environment noises cut out]

TINKER IN TAUNTON—Richard Penner
Dear Leon,

[Tunnel noises cut back in]

LOUISA
Leon?

MICHAEL
Oh, right. I changed the name of the column. It used to be “Dear Persephone.” But that name didn’t feel right for me.

[Tunnel noises cut out]

TINKER IN TAUNTON
Dear Leon,

I’ve recently completed construction of a fully functional orrery, accurate to the second in its tracking of the celestial bodies. It’s a machine of exquisite beauty, and I thought for sure that having such a tool at my disposal would benefit my personal relationships. But my wife is irate because my “monstrous contraption,” as she calls it occupies the entirety of our combined living room/dining room. Have I made a mistake?

Sincerely,

Tinker in Taunton

[Tunnel noises cut back in]

LOUISA
That’s it? That’s his problem?

MICHAEL
I know right? But just because the answer is easy doesn’t mean it’s *easy*. Like how I know that I need to stay sober. But acting on that knowledge…well, it’s good that I’ve got my numbers. I’ve got our little search for Gemma’s ball. I’ve got all the ThirdSight squeezey stress balls.

LOUISA
Really?

MICHAEL
Oh, yeah, those are super helpful. They’re part of my daily self-preservation now. On a bad day, I can reduce one of those balls to a crumbling mess by lunchtime.

LOUISA
I’m glad you’ve got them.

MICHAEL
Yeah.

MICHAEL
Yeah.

The problem I’m having right now is…well, Tyrell here at the office keeps writing in. And I don’t know if I should approach him directly, or treat him like any other letter writer. If he thinks he’s writing anonymously, he may not want personal help. But the guy’s miserable. I have to do something.

LOUISA
It’s decent of you to want to.

MICHAEL
Oh. I…I guess.

LOUISA
So…um…what did you tell that other guy?

MICHAEL
Which guy?

LOUISA
That guy with the, uh…that big…thing. In his house.

MICHAEL
Oh, Tinker in Taunton!

[Tunnel noises cut out]

MICHAEL/LEON
Dear Tinker,

To be sure, the construction of one’s own personal, large-scale orrery is an impressive accomplishment. It is a tool of particular dignity, precise in it’s measurements and representations.

However: it is also very large.

If the tools you use to plan for the future encroach upon your ability to enact those plans, then your tools have failed you. Fortunately, there is a simple solution. On Chandler St. in your home town is Compass Self Storage, where you can rent a 10×10 storage unit for $137 per month. Move your orrery to that location, and you will be able to consult it at your convenience without monopolizing your apartment.

[Tunnel noises cut back in]

LOUISA
Well, that’s sensible. I guess. As much as building a thing like that could be sensible in the first place.

MICHAEL
Well, yeah. I dunno. I’ve made worse decisions. I feel a little hypocritical giving advice on housing, considering.

LOUISA
Why?

MICHAEL
You haven’t seen my place, have you? I’m down at Porter Square, in Red Line, one of the residential suspension structures. It’s kind of like a series of hammock nets suspended over the outbound platform, with like these canvas walls to divide you from your neighbors. People have been calling it the, uh… Ewok village. The whole place sways every time a train goes by. It’s cheap, but it’s kind of stressful. Like, I can hear the woman above me brush her teeth, stressful. Have you ever really listened to someone brushing their teeth? Euch. Not to mention the silhouettes on the wall every time the couple next door are fooling around…

LOUISA
That all sounds… Well, it’s hard to even picture, actually. I need to get down there with my camera.

MICHAEL
You should! I’ll give you the tour.

Hey, where are you now?

LOUISA
Still in the tunnel. This settlement keeps going, a lot further than I realized. I think some of it might predate the referendum. It looks like there’s been a homeless camp down here for years. There’s like these little houses built from discarded aluminum siding. They’re all wired together. And lighting plugged into this makeshift electrical work, like they’ve spliced these hanging outlets into the grid. There’s this amazing communal kitchen.

MICHAEL
Oh wow. I guess they’ve got neighbors now.

LOUISA
Yeah. That’s gonna be a problem. I know for a fact that this section of tunnel has already been zoned out for commercial construction. I think it’s gonna be a Dunks.

MICHAEL
You mean a Dunkies?

LOUISA
No, Dunks. Like Dunkin’ Donuts.

MICHAEL
Right. A Dunkies.

LOUISA
Euch, Whatever. Point is, a bunch of people are going to get pushed out of their makeshift homes to make room for the millionth branch of Boston’s worst coffee.

MICHAEL
Oh, shit.

LOUISA
Yeah. I don’t know if these people even realize…

You still there?

MICHAEL
Yeah. Uh. Just didn’t know what to say.

LOUISA
Yeah, I dunno. Got another letter?

MICHAEL
One more. This one’s, ehhh…

[Tunnel noises cut out]

VAX VICTIM IN SAN BERNADINO—Iri Alexander
Dear Leon,

Last February, on the advice of my doctor, I got a routine flu shot. Nine weeks later, I was hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after a weekend of partying. Do you think my illness may have been caused by the vaccine?

Sincerely,

VaxVictim in San Bernadino

[Tunnel noises cut back in]

LOUISA
Oh

MICHAEL
Yeah.

LOUISA
So what do you do with one like that?

NARRATOR
I stay late. I stay at work until I’ve got an answer. The answer I think Leon would give.

And I wreck another squeezy stress ball.

[Tunnel noises fade out]

INTERVIEW MONTAGE

CHUCK
What’s the worst or weirdest thing you’ve ever seen your boss do?

INTERVIEW 1
I dunno, it was pick a scab. I hate those. And he made it bleed, and I just kinda looked at him like: Yeah, you’re unprofessional.

INTERVIEW 2
Umm…probably complain about things falling on the floor, because the floor isn’t freshly painted. But it’s a shop. Things are gonna be on the floor regardless.

INTERVIEW 3
After Thanksgiving, we came back and he said something that happened at the table, like a joke that one of his relatives said. And I was just there, like…was I supposed to laugh too? Or like…I dunno. I dunno, should I laugh? And then after I was like “oh! I get the joke.” And then everyone just looked at me, and I was like “okaay.” But it was something about the turkey. Like they said a turkey joke.

INTERVIEW 4
He got mad and tried to kick a panel off one of our busses. Like flipped out. Next thing I know I hear him yelling at his wife upstairs.

INTERVIEW 5
I worked at a restaurant in Boston. Not to far from here, and we had a patio outside, and it was on a busy street, and just some homeless guy was hanging around out there. It’s the city, it’s no big deal. And this manager was a nutcase, and he went in the kitchen and got a butcher knife, and was walking through the restaurant with it down at his side, like he was hiding it. I don’t know, the homeless man was gone by the time he got out there, and I don’t think he would have done anything anyway, but it was pretty darn weird.

INTERVIEW 6
I had a boss who was supposed to stay in frequent contact with work. You know, not constant, but like check your e-mail every couple of hours, et cetera. But, he didn’t like the idea that his phone had a GPS on it, and it would track him. And he had several acres of land, so when he got home, he would put it in his mailbox. So every day he would tell us that we should put our cellphones in our mailbox so that we can’t see where we go on our property.

INTERVIEW 7
I guess the worst thing I’ve seen one of my bosses do is try to tell people that they’re replaceable…easily replaceable, when I worked in the cafeteria in Boston College. He, I don’t know, I guess he just thought that kids would take him too lightly, because the majority of the people where African American/Hispanic that were signing up for that job. So I guess he wanted to try to establish some dominance.

DONUTS & DENTAL PLANS

[Piano music begins]

NARRATOR—Alexander Danner
Life at ThirdSight Media hadn’t significantly improved for Tyrell Fredericks. Extinction Event was a tyrannical boss. A petty, bullying, drunk on mid-managerial power tyrannical boss. And Tyrell had earned himself the desultory honor of being number-one flunky.

Which meant his role as head of human resources now included running gopher throughout the office.

[Music fades out]

MICHAEL TATE—James Oliva
Hey, Tyrell, what’s up?

TYRELL FREDERICKS—Arun Sannuti
Extinction Event wants a meeting in the big conference room. He sent me around to tell everyone.

MICHAEL
Why doesn’t he just use the intercom?

TYRELL
Sorry.

MICHAEL
No, no, it’s fine. I’m on my way. I need to swing past the supply closet for another stress ball anyway.

TYRELL
You, uh…you go through those.

MICHAEL
Yeah. They really help with my…well you know. My problem.

TYRELL
Oh. Maybe you should take a couple, while you’re there. Before the meeting.

[Music resumes]

NARRATOR
Tyrell was mortified to realize that he actually missed Gemma. Why had he resented her so much? Because she didn’t like parties? So what? She hadn’t even really stopped him from having them. She’d explicitly told Michael to reject Tyrell’s offer, but when Tyrell had put the requisition in front of her, added it to the company calendar, she’d just signed right off on it. She just didn’t want to be invited. She wanted to be left alone.

TYRELL
Hi, Allison…

ALLISON—Sam Musher
What?

TYRELL
Meeting in the conference room.

ALLISON
Ugh.

NARRATOR
But Tyrell couldn’t allow Gemma her solitude. Couldn’t abide her lack of enthusiasm for the margarita-thon. Couldn’t abide her refusal to be his friend. So he’d gotten her fired.

Who really pooped that party?

It was entirely his own fault. A misery of his own creation. He could see that now, how petty he’d been. How unethical. How wrong.

This was his punishment. He deserved this.

TYRELL
Hey, Natalie, hey Roger.

ROGER—Rick Coste
Hi, Tyrell.

TYRELL
We’re having a meeting in the big conference room.

ROGER
Of course, we are.

NARRATOR
And now he was less liked than ever. But not even for the right reasons! If people hated him because of what he’d done to Gemma, that would be only right and fair. But nobody knew about that.

TYRELL
Hey, Wanda, hi Jonas, hi Tina, hey Anna Maria.

WANDA—Tanja Milojevic
Yeah, hi Tyrell. Does Poletti want something?

TYRELL
We’re having a…oh hi Abdulaziz. Sorry, I didn’t see you in the back there. Oh, and Tom. Hi Tom!

TOM—Ben Flaumenhaft
Yes, hi Tyrell.

TYRELL
I’m sorry to interrupt your lunch, but there’s a meeting in the big conference room.

WANDA
Oh, these Goddamn meetings! What a waste of my life.

TYRELL
I brought donuts!

[Music fades out]

[Environmental office noise]

NARRATOR
He’d come to terms with it, kind of. Made his peace with it, mostly. He’d been given a sign, a clear omen of hope. But what hope had it signified? He couldn’t tell. He’d never had the gift of divination, never fully understood the powers so grandiosely on display all around him. He chided himself for his envy, but persisted in his envying. How could he not? What person could ever be satisfied to be the least special person in their own world?

EE [Down the Hall]–James Capobianco
Where is everyone?

TYRELL
We’re coming! Everyone’s coming!

NARRATOR
So now here he was, running all around the office prying basic tolerance from them with confectionary bribes and obsequious politeness.

He couldn’t allow it to go on.

He had to send a message of his own.

[People sit in creaky office chairs]

EE
Oh, there you all are. I was starting to wonder. Please find your seats. Oh, Tyrell, you brought donuts! I assume you’ve got some vegan ones in there.

TYRELL
Yes!

EE
Very good!

TYRELL
It’s for Jonas.

EE
What?

TYRELL
Jonas is vegan. So I got him a vegan donut.

JONAS—Jim Johanson
Aw, thanks, Tyrell.

TYRELL
Just the one though.

EE
Maybe we could each have half.

TYRELL
No. It’s for Jonas. One vegan donut for Jonas. And one for Wanda.

EE
Wanda’s vegan?

TYRELL
No, but she’s allergic to eggs. So I got her a vegan donut too.

WANDA
That’s very thoughtful, Tyrell. Thank you!

EE
But none for me?

TYRELL
They ran out?

EE
Of vegan donuts?

TYRELL
Yes?

EE
Tyrell, is that true? Did they really run out of vegan donuts at the donut shop?

TYRELL
They had…a lot of vegans today? Extra vegans?

EE
I can tell you’re lying to me, Tyrell. Shame on you. Now please sit down.

TYRELL
Okay.

EE
Tyrell? You’re not really taking a donut, are you? Do you think you deserve a donut?

TYRELL
But I bought them.

EE
Did you buy donuts for everyone? Or did you deliberately leave some people out?

TYRELL
Just one person.

Okay, fine.

EE
Thank you.

Now, before we begin, I want to say that I’m very proud of the work all of you have done over the past few months. Gemma’s abrupt departure and my promotion came as an unexpected, if not unwelcome surprise, but you’ve all done an admirable job of responding to the new hierarchy and philosophy.

ALLISON
We still don’t know why she was fired.

EE
Because she’s a horrible person. Now, I would especially like to commend our most junior member, Michael Tate.

MICHAEL
Oh, wow. Thank you.

EE
Michael, when you first came to ThirdSight, one year ago, I couldn’t even imagine how anyone could be as thoroughly ignorant of the metaphysical structures of the world as you were.

MICHAEL
Oh. Uh…

EE
You were so obviously, utterly unqualified for the job that I could only imagine Gemma must have picked your name at random out of a hat. But despite all that, you have obviously taken your work here at ThirdSight very seriously. You’ve studied. You’ve read. You’ve practiced.

MICHAEL
Yes. Yes, I have.

EE
You’ve learned so much about how the world really works.

MICHAEL
Well…sure. I guess.

EE
When I first became managing editor, I expected I’d be firing you at the end of your probationary period. But I’m glad to say that, as of today, I think that’s far less likely to happen.

MICHAEL
Less?

EE
Far less.

And so the publisher has asked me to present you with a gift in honor of your growth here at ThirdSight.

[Pneumatic tube]

And there it is. You can just reach that out from the tube.

[Opens canister]

[Liquid sloshing]

MICHAEL

It’s…uh. It’s a bottle of bourbon.

EE
Well, I hope you like bourbon, then.

MICHAEL
I don’t drink.

EE
Oh. Are you Mormon?

MICHAEL
That’s a really random assumption.

ALLISON
I’ll take it.

MICHAEL
Actually…Tyrell, why don’t you take it.

[Sloshing]

TYRELL
Me?

MICHAEL
I think Leon would want me to give it to you.

TYRELL
Wow. Wow. Thank you.

EE
Well, anyway. Now that the frivolous portion of the meeting is over, I have two major announcements.

The first is about cutbacks.

WANDA
Hah?

EE
I’m sure you all know that the publishing industry has been facing diminished profits, diminished readership, diminished retail outlets for print material. ThirdSight has weathered these challenges better than most, but thorough numerological analysis has revealed that we will face an income crisis in the following year. And yes, before you ask, we have properly corroborated this prediction with both tarot reading and temporal spirit communion.

We are not at the point of layoffs, and hopefully we can avoid that entirely. But other costs will be trimmed. First off, there will be no more tokens of appreciation. That bottle of bourbon is the end of it, so make it last.

ROGER
Really?

EE
Second, we will be reevaluating a number of our general supplies. We’re eliminating rabbit’s feet entirely, thank goodness. That’s been long overdue, for so many reasons. And we’re adopting a more affordable health insurance plan. Tyrell, I think there are some changes to the covered services under the new plan that you need to address.

TYRELL
Uh. Yeah. Yes. So, the new plan will no longer cover psychiatric services or preventative care. Also, we’ve lost coverage for alternative medicines, birth control, and personal luck totems. So, uh…just be more careful in general, I guess.

WANDA
[heavy sigh]

ROGER
Really?

TOM
Oh come on, what are we supposed to do without luck totems?!

EE
I’m sorry, you’ll just have to buy your own.

WANDA
Are you kidding me?

TYRELL
Oh, and we’ve dropped the vision and dental plans.

[Mixed grumbling]

EE
Right. So everyone, just be sure to practice good eye and teeth maintenance.

WANDA
Are you fuckin’ serious?

EE
Finally, the biggest cutback we’ve had to make is to our monthly squeezy stress ball allotment.

WANDA
Aaaagh!

EE
I know that many of us are reliant on the provided squeezy stress balls to help us cope with the daily frustrations of ordinary life. But our squeezy stress ball expenditure has tripled over the last four months. It’s completely out of control. I’m afraid we’ve decided to take a firm hand.

WANDA
This is ridiculous.

EE
We’re cutting squeezy stress balls from the budget entirely.

ROGER
What?!

EE
Tyrell will be carefully rationing the remaining stock, but once that supply has been exhausted, it will not be replaced.

WANDA
This job just keeps getting worse and worse, I can’t believe this crap.

EE
I’m sorry. You’re going to have to bring your own, just like you already bring your own lunches and bathroom tissue.

MICHAEL
Oh, man.

EE
Now, let’s move on to cheerier announcements. The time has come round again. Something I’m sure you’ve all been looking forward to.

The name Extinction Event has served me very well these past few months. But my personal spirit guide, Mary Wollstonecraft, has informed me that I am to remain in flux, and the time for my next transformation is upon me.

But Ms. Wollstonecraft has challenged me to set an even greater example to the world–an example of democratic personhood. She has instructed me to open the process of selecting my new name to all of you.

I’ve mounted a suggestion box on the wall outside my office. You can slip your name suggestions in there. As many as you like, no need to limit yourself to just one.

I’m very excited about this. About taking your ideas and considering how each one speaks to my sense of myself and my role in the world.

I trust the result will be profound.

SUMMONED AGAIN

LEON STAMATIS—Braden Lamb
The second time I was summoned was on Friday, October 4th, at 12:17 PM.

Mr. Poletti knew exactly what he was doing. His was an act of pure braggadocio. He had no need of my help, save to impress and ingratiate. But I was summoned, and I could not decline.

But there was Nica. So desperately alone. So desperately in need. And that other man. Tyrell, so hopeless. I could see the course of events about to play out, their next moves, and the moves after that. Nica’s descent into the subway. Tyrell’s descent from the bridge. Two stories on their way to bad ends.

[Tense music fades in]

I saw an opportunity to intervene. To help.

Mr. Poletti suggested the means. Psychography. Spirit writing.

And there you were, Oliver. Up here in your strange little apartments above the offices. Watching everyone. Writing your note to Poletti. Informing him of his failure and his dismissal.

He doesn’t even know how I saved his job. How I guided your hand along another course. A course that set Nica and Tyrell on a collision that should have saved both of them.

And now here we are, Oliver. Both of us with so much to say to each other.

I can hear you Oliver. I’m right here beside you.

[Music stops]

I can hear you.

THE WATCHER OVER THIRDSIGHT

[Chaotic drumming]

[Small animal noises]

NARRATOR—Alexander Danner
In his mind’s eye, Oliver West saw himself as the overseer of a vast publishing empire.

OLIVER WEST—Mike Linden
An industrial tycoon with a web of influence spanning the entire globe.

NARRATOR
He saw his magazines reaching into homes and offices in every city of every country on every continent. In his mind’s eye, he saw himself with the power to sway public opinion far enough to move elections, topple regimes.

OLIVER WEST
and finally put an end to turtleneck sweaters. Just wipe them out of existence completely. Really, it’s long past due.

NARRATOR
But in his actual eyes…

OLIVER WESTBut in my actual eyes…eh. In my actual eyes, I see myself on the top floor of a small building. I see my company publishing a dozen modestly successful magazines. I see the most popular of those magazines selling almost enough copies to rival Cat Fancy. Goddamn Cat Fancy. In my actual eyes, I see my wife going around in a sweater with a collar so high and folded over on itself so many times that her head looks like a maraschino cherry peeking out from a pile of whipped cream on an ice cream sundae.

In my actual eyes I see things how they actually are.

LEON—Braden Lamb
You see things only how you see them. Same as anyone.

OLIVER
I am in a particular position, vis-a-vis the ghost haunting my office. Because I know that you are here.

I know that you can hear me.

Even if I can’t hear you.

[TUBE NOISE]

OLIVER
Ah, that’ll be my lunch.

NARRATOR
A tuna salad sandwich, with extra celery. The lunch of a powerful man. An influential man. Delivered via pneumatic tube, a sophisticated delivery technology that extended Oliver’s personal reach into the office below, and to many secret locations throughout the city.

OLIVER
Part of my complex network of influence, you see.

NARRATOR

When Gemma Linzer-Coolidge first brought Michael in for that farce of a job interview, Oliver saw the opportunity Michael presented immediately.

LEON
Hardly. You’re perceptive, but not actually prescient, despite the image you like to project.

NARRATOR
He knew how she’d come upon Michael, of course.

OLIVER
I keep a close eye on all my employees, through means I won’t bother to detail for you. I don’t think you’d be interested.

LEON
Fair enough.

NARRATOR
She tossed her crystal ball onto her desk. It landed on the name of a man, and she called that man.

OLIVER
Leon Stamatis.

LEON
Me.

OLIVER
And yes, I did say crystal ball. That woman. She thought it was just glass. She never once considered the possibility that we’d given her the real thing. I’ve rarely been so glad to be rid of an employee as I am to be rid of Gemma. I found her deeply emotionally draining. Some people are just like that.

LEON
Some people are very much like that.

OLIVER
Now, Michael…Michael is something else entirely. So malleable, that one. But you know better than anyone how easily shaped he is. You cured the man of alcoholism, for heaven’s sake.

LEON
I didn’t cure him. I just believed in him.

OLIVER
You just stepped in and told him to stop, and he did. Do you know how absurd that is? How implausible? To strip a man of his addiction by pure force of will? It’s as though he were just waiting for someone to tell him what to do. For *you* to tell him what to do.

That’s who he is. He proves it every day. Here, let’s listen in on him for a moment, shall we? I believe he’s working on his advice column. Your advice column.

LEON/MICHAEL TATE—James Oliva
Dear Vax Victim,

It is perfectly normal to grasp for seemingly rational explanations to confusing events. Such is the case with many of the illnesses falsely attributed to vaccination. I am certain that your alcohol poisoning was not caused by your flu shot, but rather, by your consumption of alcohol. I have seen a number of portents indicating this truth. The spirits indicate that you should seek out an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in your area.

OLIVER
Do you see? Do you hear yourself in his voice? He’s still in your thrall. And that’s why he’s useful. Because you are bound to him. And he is bound to us. Contractually. The old ten-year posthumous employment clause. You agreed to it, and so did he, and now here we are.

Working together.

You must wonder how it is that I know you’re here. It goes back to that first day, when you interfered with my decision to fire Extinction Event Poletti.

LEON
I only meant to reschedule that event, not cancel it entirely.

OLIVER
And using my own pneumatic tubes, you cheeky scamp! The presence of a spirit was obvious. The real question was: to whom was it anchored? Naturally, I assumed it was Nica. That’s why I sought her out at Wonderland, riding the Whirl-a-don. A quaint little coaster. I really enjoy roller coasters, you know. I enjoy the perfect control they represent. Perfect structure, perfect timing, perfect reliability, all within the illusion of chaos. The illusion of surprise. They are wonders of efficient engineering, truly.

But I was wrong about your sister.

It was an understandable mistake, I’m sure you’ll agree. But I figured it out. I got there. It was simply a matter of observing my employees, as I always do. It was hardly a leap to realize Michael must have help. Continuing constant help.

You.

And I am the greatest threat to his present wellbeing. So you must be watching me as closely as I’m watching him.

And here you are.

[THUNK]

OLIVER
That’s a note from my son, Ada. He and my wife live at an offsite location you see. Ah, he wants to know if I can make orange box mac and cheese tonight.

NARRATOR
The orange box is Ada’s favorite. It has become a Thursday night ritual. Oliver and Ada and Ada’s favorite Mac and Cheese.

OLIVER
Now Mr. Stamatis, we need to wrap this up so that I may go see my son. It’s time I made my requirements clear. What I expect of you, as an employee of ThirdSight.

You will be my spy. Your first assignment will bring you back to Wonderland. A woman there interests me. She lives in the San Francisco Urban Conflagration Recreation experience. Go learn what you can about her.

Your second responsibility is one that you’ve been doing already. I want you to continue feeding information to Michael. Guide his divinations. Just as you did when he predicted the passage of the referendum.

NARRATOR
No one had seen that coming, save Michael. No other paper or magazine in the city or the world had predicted the referendum’s success. That single prediction became the best thing that had happened to ThirdSight Media in years.

OLIVER
So keep him on point, Mr. Stamatis. Particularly with regard to further developments in Red Line.

Make us the authority. Make us essential.

Do that, and Michael will have a long and gainful employment here at ThirdSight. Collecting his own salary as well as yours.

Fail…well, as I said earlier, your friend is an easy man to mold, Mr. Stamatis.

He is an easy man to break.

OLIVER
I need your agreement. Some sign of your cooperation. Perhaps a bit of useful information, if you have any to spare at this moment. Unless you’d rather see your dear friend back out on the street. Feel free to use the tubes.

[THUNK]

OLIVER
Ah, there we go. I must confess, I admire your penmanship. But let’s see what you have to say.

LEON
Ada’s favorite is the blue box, but he knows you don’t like it, so he chooses the orange to avoid disappointing you.

OLIVER
Oh, you are a cheeky ghost, aren’t you? But no matter. The deal is sealed.

We have reached our agreement.

[Drums fade out]

[Animal noises fade out]

DEAR WOEFUL

MICHAEL/LEON
Dear Woeful,

[Piano music]

By now you will have received a gift from someone at your office who thinks kindly of you. He does not love you any more than you love him. But you have his respect. Respect should be the most you ask of workplace relations. Look elsewhere for love. But insist upon respect. You deserve it.

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

You can follow Greater Boston on Twitter @InGreaterBoston. And you can help keep the show running by supporting our Patreon campaign, or by sharing the show with your friends.

This episode featured:

Braden Lamb as Leon Stamatis

Julia Propp as Louisa Alvarez

James Oliva as Michael Tate

Richard Penner as Tinker in Taunton

Iri Alexander as Vax Victim in San Bernadino

Alexander Danner as the Narrator

Arun Sanuti as Tyrell Fredericks

James Capobianco as Extinction Event Poletti

Mike Linden as Oliver West and the Street Prosletyzer

Also featuring Tanja Miloyevich, Sam Musher, Jim Johanson, Ben Flaumenhaft, and Rick Coste as ThirdSight Employees

Interviews conducted with real Greater Boston residents.

Charlie on the MTA is recorded by Emily Peterson and Dirk Tiede

Mechanical by Dave Fernandez

Lifelist by Dave Lewis

Drums by Jim Johanson

[Piano music fades out]

COOKIE
James Oliva

I’ve got all the ThirdSight squeezy tress…I’ve got all the ThirdShi…I’ve got all the ThirdSight squeezy tre…aughhehehehe. I’ve got all the ThirdSight squeezy tress…Sta-da-da-da-da-de-de-dee-dee. Why did you put “squeezy” and “stress” next to each other? Why?

[Singing]DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN SQEEZY STRESS BALLLLLL! OBLITERATED! Okay

[creepy voice] Goood niiight.

CONTENT WARNINGS
  • Manipulative behavior
  • References to alcoholism
  • Strong language
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