Transcript for Episode 19: Profiles with Chuck Octagon, Election Special

COLD OPEN

Female Interview 1
Oh, I’m so scared of heights. Umm. Which is funny though, because I like roller coasters?

[Charlie on the MTA begins playing]

But when I look down, I start freaking out. Like you know like sometimes when you’re like on a ladder you just feel like you don’t have so much control because like the ladder could, like, tip over at any moment? And then your like…so high up and and it’s like…I like my feet on the ground. Pretty much. Where I can…level everything.

PREVIOUSLY IN GREATER BOSTON

Jeff Van Dreason

Previously…in Greater Boston.

CHARLOTTE LINZER-COOLIDGE— Summer Unsinn
And…I can’t tell you what the lottery is, umm, because it’s a surprise for our citizens.

NARRATOR — Alexander Danner
She moved shortly after. Her mother needed to find a new home after…after her father left.

ISABELLE POWELL — Jessica Washington
Very tight and cozy in here. How I like it.

ISAIAH POWELL — Mario Da Rosa Jr.
How do you convince someone to confess a secret. I’ve got this loved one who is keeping a whopper. If people knew about it? They’d be like, okay, cool.

EMILY BESPIN Sam Musher
I’m sure I’ll be seeing you soon, Ms. Powell. We’re going to be neighbors after all. 

ISABELLE POWEL
Welcome to Red Line, Mrs. Bespin. And good luck to you. You’ll need plenty.

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

EPISODE CONTENTS

Alexander Danner

This week in Greater Boston, Episode 19, Profiles with Chuck Octagon, Election Special

[Charlie on the MTA fades out]

[Haul Away Joe begins playing]

INTERVIEW MONTAGE – What’s Your Biggest Fear and Why?

CHUCK OCTAGONJeff Van Dreason
What’s your biggest fear and why?

Male Interview 1
Biggest fear….

Male Interview2
The pitch dark. And I think that kinda comes from when I was being homeless because you can, when it’s completely dark, you can’t see anything coming at you. So you never know if something’s coming at you. And I think that scares me the most.

Chuck Octagon
Hmm.

Female Interview 2
Well I don’t like the thought of death and I don’t really wanna talk about that.

[Mutual laughter]

Chuck Octagon
Okay, fair enough.

Male Interview 3
I’m a Christian. Uhh, I believe in eternal life. Either in heaven or in hell so, it’d be not going to heaven. I would say that’s my biggest fear.

Male Interview 4
My biggest fear in life is to not be successful. Umm. I’ve always had a goal, whether it’s, you know, not that I wanna be a crazy millionaire and be…but my goal in life has always been to have a family, to have a nice house, to be able to support– support my family, even if it’s just me, just with one income. And just to be successful and be happy.

Male Interview 5
I guess, like, faili–failing — at life? And like, to see like how my future would be? Like, I don’t wanna fail? So, that’s my real big fear. Like, I don’t want that to happen to me.

Female Interview 3
I always say I don’t have fears and stuff like that, but I have to say my biggest fear has to be like babysitting a toddler. Because, like. They’re really, like. It’s not a joke! They’re really like..the terrible…children! LIke, it’s…

Chuck Octagon

[Laughs]

Male Interview 6
I guess …the World War III and being drafted into that because I don’t want to be in a position where I have to kill or be killed.

Chuck Octagon
Mmm.

Male Interview 6
I don’t really fear it,  I just don’t like the idea of it. And if it ever came to that position, I don’t know what decision I would make.

Female Interview 3
They…they, do things to you. And it like makes you wonder, like, why…are you so evil?

Male Interview 7
Probably being abandoned by my family. Because that would suck and …as of now, I’m pretty reliant on them because I’m in college and I don’t really have time to get a job besides a part-time job that can barely feed me. So…

Male Interview 4
Umm. A lot of people are afraid of death, or afraid of spiders, or afraid of…I’m afraid of the opportunities I’ve missed. I don’t wanna miss opportunities that could be…uhh, hurtful towards the future of my life. You know, and career.

Male Interview 5
But people keep saying, oh, you know, you’re gonna have to fail to like learn, I guess, your mistakes? But I understand, but like, it’s kinda like, I don’t want — I don’t want that to happen.

Chuck Octagon
Yeah.

[Haul Away Joe ends]

[News 7 Boston Call Sign plays]

[Profiles with Chuck Octagon theme plays]

PROFILES WITH CHUCK OCTAGON – PART 1

CHUCK OCTAGON — Jeff Van Dreason

Good evening, and welcome to Profiles with Chuck Octagon. I’m Chuck Octagon. Tonight! We’re profiling all three Red Line mayoral candidates: Sitting Mayor Charlotte Linzer-Coolidge, the red line bride, Emily Bespin and licensed realtor-slash-community organizer turned mayoral candidate, Isabelle Powell.

ISABELLE POWELL — Jessica Washington

Thank you for —

CO

Profile. Verb. To describe a person or organization, especially a public figure in a short article.

Or: to represent in outline from one side, as in a photograph or painting.

(Slight pause)

EMILY BESPIN — Sam Musher

It’s wonderful to be —

CO

Profiling. Noun. The recording and analysis of a person’s psychological and behavioral characteristics, so as to assess or predict their capabilities in a certain sphere or to assist in identifying a particular subgroup of people.

I’m sure you can all see why this show is called Profiles. With Chuck Octagon.

IP

We certainly can.

CO

There are several meanings.

CHARLOTTE LINZER COOLIDGE – Summer Unsinn

You certainly are a big dictionary fan, Chuck.

CO

Acting mayor Linzer-Coolidge, I’d like to begin with you.

CLC

Wonderful. And I’d like to thank you for —

CO

But before I do, I have an announcement to make. I’m extremely excited to inform all our loyal 7 news viewers that in just a few short weeks, I will be marrying my beloved partner Andy live on air, right here in the city of Red Line. And I’d like to personally thank Interim Mayor Linzer-Coolidge for, uhh, being so patient working through the details.

CLC

Oh. Uhh, yes. Of course, Chuck. Uhh, we’re going to do everything we can to ensure you and Andy have the most special day imaginable.

CO

Explain to us why you think you have what it takes to run this city.

CLC

I don’t run this city. I never have. I couldn’t run this city anymore than I could run a marathon.

EB

Glad we agree on something, Charlotte.

CLC

Excuse me. Rude.

Now I have seen this city at her worst. I’ve seen her people fractured and fighting, the streets and stations littered with filth, fear and chaos. I’ve seen Red Line cars quite literally on fire stretching into the night, burning into the skyline of our beloved mother city of Boston.

EB

We’ve all seen horrible things on Red Line thanks to you, that’s part of —

[Train Jam begins playing]

CLC

But look at Red Line now. Tour its trains, its cars, its stations, its streets, and you tell me what you find. People working together like a well-oiled machine. This city is run by its citizens, from those who open their homes to commuters to the T operators who quite literally run the trains flawlessly up and down the tracks.  

Have we made mistakes? Yes. Have I made mistakes?

EB

Ah–yes!

CLC

Absolutely. But the important thing — the most important thing — is to recognize our mistakes so we can work together to improve them. We’ve done that, all of us. Together.

AUTOPHOBIA

NARRATOR — Alexander Danner

The night before the public forum with Chuck Octagon, Charlotte dreamt of drawing hundreds of sketches, outlines for the future of Red Line, hanging along one massive wall.

[Sketching, erasing, paper turning noises]

It was the long stretch of tile on the Outbound side of Park Street station, where the Mayor once held his rally, where Charlotte once saved a man from getting hit by a train.

Charlotte made constant additions to the stations and platforms and trains, running up and down the station with a pencil in hand. But then the sketches started looking cruder, less refined, childlike and she desperately scribbled until her hand cramped, but there was always more to do, more to draw, more to plan, more to create.

[Red Line train sound builds]

And that’s when all the citizens began to disappear. One by one, they were erased from her sketches, leaving nothing but smudges, halos of faded lead.

[Dream music builds]

She redrew them, all of them — as fast as she could. But — but they were all vanishing too fast, erased at the speed of thought. Where were they going? Who was erasing them? Why were they — ?

(Buzzing noises)

MONTY (child) — Julian Danner

This is fun, mommy!

CHARLOTTE

Monty?

(Louder buzzing noise)

MONTY (child)

Where did all the people go? Do you think they vanished? Do you think they went —

(Slowly transitioning into THE MAYOR, buzzing noise intensifies)

THE MAYOR — James Capobianco

—to the same place as all those poor souls of Roanoke Colony? Nobody ever vanishes, do they? No. They simply leave.

[Intense buzzing, music cuts off]

CLC

Yes?

MELISSA — Tanja Milojovic
[Over intercom]

Are you okay? It’s been a couple minutes and I wasn’t sure if —

CLC

Yes, I was just — I was reading over a — (pause). I was sleeping.

MELISSA

I’m sorry to wake you.

CLC

It’s fine, I don’t want to be—I don’t want to talk to you over this thing, can you come in here?

[Melissa enters, Red Line doors].

MELISSA

I have that file on Emily Bespin you requested. (Pause). Seriously, Charlotte, are you okay?

CLC

Yes. I’m just a little — (pause). No. No, I am not okay. (Laughs) Oh my god, you have no idea what a relief it is to say that out loud. I have to go on TV today and pretend like I’m okay. Beyond okay. Okay wouldn’t be good enough. Everything has to be wonderful. “Okay” would be a Waterloo-level defeat. When I walk around the city or make announcements, I have to act all 100% super-duper hunky fucking dory 24/7. I just can’t fake it right now. I can’t fake it with you.

MELISSA

I don’t want you to. But I also don’t want you to feel like you have to pretend.

CLC

That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? It’s what I’ve always wanted. It’s what I dreamt about doing as a girl, pretending. I just always pictured doing it with stories, drawings, writing, art. Not politics.

MELISSA

There was a time in my life when I did a lot of pretending too. I pretended to love someone. I pretended to love him so much that I pretended I wanted to marry him. And I did love him. But…I didn’t love him the way he wanted me to, expected me to. I wasn’t interested in anyone like that and I never have been.

Back then, I thought everyone was pretending and that’s just what life was. But eventually, I learned to stop pretending. I had to figure out who I was, had to…had to claw my way out from under all that make believe. It was painful, but it was also crucial for my health, for my sanity, and for my happiness. I know it’s not that easy for you because you represent more to people.

CLC

I don’t think that’s —

MELISSA

Trust me, it’s true. People forget that behind your ideas, there’s someone real under there. And you’re right, in a lot of ways, this whole thing is like telling a story. But if it is a story and you’re the main character, how do you get readers to like you? How do you get them to connect with you? How do you turn yourself into someone they root for?

CLC

I don’t think I can.

MELISSA

Here’s a secret: they already do. They’re rooting for you, they want to like you. Be real with them. Even if they disagree with you, they’ll respect that and they’ll like you and root for you, I promise. You just can’t be afraid to show them who you really are.

(Pause)

CLC

What if I try and they still don’t like me?

MELISSA

Then they’re assholes.

[Red Line doors open]

CLC
(To Melissa) Thank you.

[Gemma and Louisa enter].

GEMMA — Lydia Anderson

We figured it out. Well, Louisa did, I mostly just stood around, watched and tried not to swear. She figured out who’s backing Emily Bespin.

LOUISA — Julia Propp

She’s broke, or at least she should be. You know that whole Wonderland revamp debacle? That’s her and her husband, they’re behind it, they own it.

GEMMA

Or at least they did. And that’s the thing that’s been running us ragged. What was the connection between this Face of Red Line PAC and Bespin?

LOUISA

So when I read the background on Bespin, I wanted to see if she still had any stock in Wonderland.

GEMMA

She doesn’t, she sold it — but big f’n deal, it’s not that she sold it, it’s when she sold it.

LOUISA

A day before she dropped the Red Line wedding lawsuit.

GEMMA

And then you look into who purchased it from her and her husband?

LOUISA

It’s a money trail, one vaguely named holding company after another.

GEMMA

The En Passant PAC for Prosperity.

LOUISA

Which is owned by the Future Supporters of the Fifty Move Rule Consortium.

GEMMA

Which is owned by the People for the Pawn Promotion Protection Political Action Committee.

LOUISA

Which is owned by the Society of Orange Box Lovers for Tomorrow conglomerate.

GEMMA

Which is owned by the Western Check Mate Action Amassment.

LOUISA

Which is owned by 3S ESP Media Publications.

GEMMA
Ahh!

CHARLOTTE

What the hell are you two even talking about?

GEMMA

Charlotte. 3S ESP Media Publications. 3S. ThirdSight.

LOUISA

The publisher of ThirdSight Media is paying for Emily Bespin’s entire campaign.

CHARLOTTE

You can’t know that for sure. Maybe he just wanted a cheap amusement park. You know, fill it with fortune-tellers and crystal ball-pits.

GEMMA

Hey, that’s low.

LOUISA

He didn’t buy it for cheap though. Look at this.

(Drops document on desk)

CHARLOTTE
[Flipping pages]

Holy crapola. Where did you get this?

LOUISA

City clerk’s office. It’s public record. ThirdSight’s publisher tried to bury it under a precipice of bullshit, but if you’re diligent enough, anyone can find it.

GEMMA

This is huge, Charlotte. And it’s supported by articles published in Third Sight detailing events long before they’ve actually happened.

LOUISA

Like vague references to The Lottery.

CHARLOTTE

They wouldn’t possibly be that brazen.

GEMMA

If not them then who the hell who?

CHARLOTTE

Look, I appreciate that you guys have done all this, believe me. But it doesn’t get us anywhere. Technically, none of this is illegal. Ethically questionable to have a publisher linked directly to a candidate over an insanely one-sided business acquisition, but not illegal. Right? (Pause). Right?

GEMMA

Melissa, can you excuse us for a minute?

MELISSA

Uh, sure, I’ll just —

[MELISSA exits. Red Line doors].

GEMMA

Let’s say there was some kind of an…incident.

CHARLOTTE

Oh, there’s a sentence that always leads to nothing but good things.

GEMMA

Hear me out. If the Bespin’s report some kind of a crime, we’d need to investigate it, right? And Louisa would need to photograph the scene, right?

LOUISA

Oh, I don’t know about this, Gemma.

CHARLOTTE

Are you listening to yourself right now?

GEMMA

Look, all I know is that there are way too many connections going on here. Between Emily Bespin, The Lottery, Turd Sight Media and even Extinction Event getting tuna tubes from a food truck that makes Dick’s Last Resort look like L’espaliar.

CHARLOTTE

What?

GEMMA

The point is we can’t take this lying down, you’ve worked too hard —

CHARLOTTE

I’ve worked too hard at maintaining some level of integrity to let you throw it away.

GEMMA

Oh, but it’s fine when you’re lying about the Lottery but —

CHARLOTTE

That was a mistake.

GEMMA

No, it was the kind of thing you need to do to win, and so is this.

CHARLOTTE

Then I don’t want to win. Listen to me. I forbid it, do you hear me? I forbid you doing anything like what you’re proposing. (Pause). I need to hear you say it.

GEMMA

Uhh — I’m trying to help you, Char. You can’t even take the time to tell me how to do that, anymore.

[Pause. Monty coos. Haul Away Joe begins playing].

GEMMA

Monty needs to eat.

[Red Line doors, Gemma exits].

PROFILES – 2

CLC

That’s why I need to own one of my mistakes. Chuck, in a previous interview, I told you that the Lottery was going to be a city-run monetary sweepstakes for our citizens, an effort to raise funds for the city and the general good will of our people. The mysterious posters were our unique way of advertising…

And, that was a lie. The truth was, I didn’t know what the Lottery was at the time. I concealed the truth because I was concerned about what it could mean to our citizens.

I realize that was wrong. The Lottery is clearly nothing but cowards trying to frighten us with their pathetic schoolyard pranks, and I should trust our citizens not to be afraid of such nonsense. Whatever The Lottery was trying to do, they’ve failed. We’re still the same city, making all our stops, getting along peacefully, sharing our space with commuters and fellow citizens alike and we’ll continue to prove them wrong, no matter how much molasses or tea they throw at us.

Now I know I made a mistake. Sometimes in this position, you’re under pressure to have all the answers. Saying the words “I don’t know” when leading a city can sound sacrilegious.

EB

It’s not that you said you don’t know, it’s that you actually don’t know.

CLC

But I vow to you all. I will never lie to you again and I will always do everything I can to ensure Red Line’s success.

CO

Thank you for that, Charlotte. That’s really quite moving. I’d like to ask you something personal if I have permission. Is it true that you were abandoned as a child by your father?

CLC

I — uhh. No, that’s not true.

EB

Oh, wow.

CO

But your father, Dennis Coolidge, did leave your mother and yourself when you were only—

CLC

My mother didn’t abandon me so I don’t consider myself abandoned. What does this have to do with Red Line, Chuck?

EB

Lots of attitude there, Charlotte. No wonder they left you. He, that’s  — how embarrassing.

CLC

Aren’t there rules about her interrupting?

CO

Forgive me, but you have to admit there’s an interesting connection with the Mayor and how he left? It’s very similar to —

CLC

His name was Paul Chelmsworth. At one point he was a Harvard professor so many refer to him as Professor Paul Chelmsworth, but he was most definitely not a mayor, never in his life, and therefore doesn’t deserve the honor of being addressed as one. Not in the slightest. And that’s the last I have to say on the matter.

CO

Okay, but —

IP

If I may come to Mayor Linzer-Coolidge’s defense, whatever personal feelings I have for her as a candidate, I think we can all agree she’s been more of a Mayor than that charlatan of a man could dare to be. When she says it’s the last word on the subject? Well, time to throw in the towel on that particular line of questioning.

CO

Very well, let’s move on to you then, Ms. Powell.

EB

Saving the best for last, Chuck. Wise.

CO

Uhh. Ms. Powell, you’ve referred to Red Line as an underground railroad. You are aware that the city emerges aboveground south of JFK / UMass and stays that way for quite some—

IP

Yes, I’m aware. I was using a metaphor, Chuck. As an obvious lover of words and definitions, I’m sure you’re familiar.

CO

You’ve been a community organizer for years, Ms. Powell, and you’ve spent much of your time focusing on areas where civil rights, transit and housing overlap. I’m curious, though. You’ve been a resident of Boston nearly all your life, but you’ve never aligned yourself with some of the more vocal and visible civil rights protests in our cities history.

IP

That’s not true in the slightest. I’ve written countless letters of support for —

CO

Ehh, letters, yes, but your presence has been curiously absent when it comes to public appearances in specific neighborhood forums on civil rights, black led marches through the city, Black Lives Matters protests. How do you explain that?

IP

And how many of those marches and protests did you attend, Chuck?

CO

I’m not running for mayor. And I’m not saying you’re expected to attend any specific events, but given your politics, I find your absences somewhat curious.

IP

A curious absence. Let me tell you about a curious absence. There’s a curious absence of new jobs in those stations south of JFK, there’s a curious absence of economic growth in trains which originated in Dorchester the day the referendum passed. And there’s been an especially curious absence of news coverage about any of these issues.

Part of your job is to hold us accountable. I understand that. Admire it, even. But who holds you accountable? The day the referendum passed, you broadcast a where’s the Mayor puff piece while I was literally pulling people off each other, clawing all chaotic over Red Line real estate.

[Willow Tree music plays]

Now, you wanna ask me again about my curious absences at these marches and meetings? You go right ahead. Just be prepared that I may throw the same question right your way, Chuck. And if I recall, some of our peaceful protests have been covered by 7 – News in a not-so-peaceful light.

[Red Line train sound]

AGORAPHOBIA

NARRATOR

A week before the public forum with Chuck Octagon, Isabelle Powell was welcoming strangers into her rail home, crowding them around her recliner with cups of freshly stirred iced tea. Some members of the crowd were commuters, but that was just fine. Today’s commuter could be tomorrow’s resident.

And then the Red Line Tea Party happened…

[Sudden balloons popping and train braking noises — passengers gasp and lurch around. Music fades].

T OPERATOR — Ben Flaumenhaft

Sorry about that folks, bit of a confusing mess right now. All these balloons are popping full of — full of something like tea leaves I think? Anyway, we need to slow things down a little bit. Never knew tea could make this much of a mess. Especially dried tea. Don’t drink the stuff, personally. Too British for me. Nah, this Red Line runs on Dunkin’ if you catch my drift.

City bigwigs telling me we’re gonna finish rolling into Park Street and evacuate onto shuttles. Looks like good ol’ city of Boston has offered to help us out while we investigate this little tea party of ours. Don’t know about you, but someone is going to be in hot water over this tea business. Heh. Yeah, okay, maybe not the best time for jokes.

City officials will be stationed on the platforms to escort you to the shuttles above ground.

[Music fades in].

NARRATOR

Isabelle froze. Above — above ground?

[Deep bass noise].

No matter. She took a deep breath and led everyone in her rail home to the exits, elevators and escalators. A leader has to lead, she thought. Sometimes quite literally.

[Building pressure noise].

She waited until everyone was evacuated.  She waited long after that. She waited longer than was necessary. And once she was above ground —

RED LINE OFFICIALBen Flaumenhaft

Over there, ma’am. Across the common, that’s where the shuttles are parked.

NARRATOR

Isabelle clutched her shawl around her neck and pressed down hard, until she could feel the fabric pulling between her shoulder blades.

She made it one step. Two steps.

IP

(Heavy breathing)

Oh…I — I can’t — I can’t —

[Wind blowing as Isabelle gasps]

NARRATOR

She could feel the wide open air pressing her down into the Common, wind cutting between skyscrapers to slap her in the cheeks and shake her bones bitter. It was all too — too —

IP

(Heavy breathing)

Too — open. Can’t breathe —

OFFICIAL

[Distorted}

Ma’am? Ma’am, you need to move out of the way.

IP

(Strained breathing)

Neph — nephew.

OFFICIAL

[Distorted]

Excuse me? Are — are you okay?

NARRATOR

The city official led Isabelle away from the exit. When she asked him to wrap his arms around her back tightly, he slowly, gently obliged.

Then Isabelle slipped him her cell phone and silently, breathlessly asked him to call

her nephew Isaiah, who picked her up in a car shortly after and drove her to his apartment in Dorchester, where he made her a cup of tea.

[Music fades out. Tea pouring noise].

ISAIAH — Mario Da Rosa Jr.

I got Herbal Elderberry, your favorite.

IP

(bitter laugh)

Tea…is the reason I got myself into this fix today. Exploding tea leaves, now who the hell pulls a stunt like that?

ISAIAH

Don’t know, Aunt Izzy. College students?

IP

You’re a college student. Would you ever go and blow up some godforsaken tea balloons on a moving train?

ISAIAH

You know I wouldn’t.

IP

[stirring spoon]

Fools. Don’t know what they’re trying to prove but if there’s a point to any of it they’re gonna have to work extra hard making me see just what the hell it is.

[Pause, Isabelle sips tea]

Why’re you looking at me like that?

ISAIAH

Don’t get offended, now.

IP

Oh boy. You know nothing good ever followed those words.

ISAIAH

I’m just wondering if it’d be good to tell people. You know, about your condition.

IP

Huh. My condition.

[stirs spoon]

Hmm. I ever tell you my story ‘bout what I saw during the Bus Riots? You know about the bus riots, right? Please tell me they taught you that in school.

ISAIAH

Come on, Aunt Izzy, you know I know about the bus riots.

IP

Well, I’m sorry, young people these days — history isn’t always their favorite subject, and with good reason. Things are bad enough now, who wants to hear ‘bout when they were worse? Talk to young folks in my rail home, they say, “that was before my time,” and I turn to them and say “what the hell wasn’t?”(laughs)  Know how they answer that one?

ISAIAH

Don’t know, Aunt Izzy.

IP

Their iPhones.

ISAIAH

Score one for them, I suppose.

IP (laughs)

Oh, I suppose so.

Your grandfolks sent me to school in South Boston because — well, that’s where we lived. Made some friends in kindergarten and nobody treated me differently, not the kids anyway. But over the — the summer before first grade, I could see this cold look in the eyes of their parents. Didn’t realize what it was at the time, but now I do. To them, I musta been some kinda harbinger. They saw me as something that was coming for them, coming for their children, their town.

Your grandfolks ordered me to stay home on the first day of first grade. You know me, I was crushed. Thought I was being unfairly punished. I had my first day dress all laid out, my pencil box, jumbo box of crayons, colored paper. I had that all ready before June I was so excited.

Staying home, Isabelle, they said. Probably not going for quite some time.

[WIllow Tree plays again]

So, me and your father stayed home. And he was reading to me when I first heard the screaming. I heard it vividly. He was reading me “A Wrinkle in Time.” This this — part with this big brain in this room trying to take over everybody’s heads. (Handclap)  Screaming. Angry screaming, scared screaming echoing from outside.

I – I ran to the front door, flung it open. And I see kids, I see kids like me. Black boys and girls, all of them older but some not by much. They’re running out of a school bus. They’re running out of a bus that’s getting stones hurled at it. And now that they’re out the bus, the stones are getting hurled at them. Cracked windows on the bus, cut cheeks across their faces. I watched their bodies reacting to getting hit by rocks and I —

I ran out of the house. To hell with my condition, I – I had this noble plan I was gonna call out to those kids, tell them to come cram inside our tiny little sardine can. And when I ran outside…it was like I ran right into the center of the world’s thickest wall.

I tried opening my mouth to yell. I tried opening my mouth to breathe. I stood there, frozen, gasping for air, watching those — those adults. Adults hunting, hurting children. I watched until I near passed out, until your father dragged me back in the house, more concerned for me than those poor kids.

ISAIAH

Never heard that story.

IP

I’ve had this condition as long as I can remember. Mighta had something to do with our house, how small it was. Our homes haunt us, you know. The big lie about all those horror movies you love so much is that a ghost always haunts the people in the house. In real life, the house does all the haunting.

(Pause)

I can still see the fear just radiating off their faces. There was nothing I wanted to do more than call out and lead them all to some kinda cramped safety. I couldn’t do that, Isaiah. I failed those kids. Failed plenty just like them, been failing ever since. I’ve spent my whole life running out of that door and getting stuck in the thickest mud of all of that fear.

ISAIAH

Come on now, you’ve done plenty, Aunt Izzy.

IP

Plenty more I coulda done. I’ve — I’ve finally got an opportunity to do good work with Red Line and when I open my mouth to speak, it’s gonna be used to let people in, just like I wanted to do with those kids back in ’74. This goddamn condition prevented me from doing that, so this goddamn condition doesn’t deserve me to speak its goddamn name.

ISAIAH

But don’t you think if you’re open about it people will respect—

IP

Would you get me an ice cube for my tea, dear? It’s just a little too warm.

ISIAH

Yes, Aunt Izzy.

[Willow Tree builds and ends].

PROFILES – 3

CO

And finally Emily Bespin, we come to you. Before we begin, may I ask you some questions about Wonderland, the amusement park you formerly owned with your husband Ethan?

EB

No, you may not.

CO

Okay, well, respectfully, I plan to ask you anyway.

EB

And I respectfully decline to answer. There’s been too much talk from candidates already, Mr. Octagon. As your mayor, I don’t plan to stand around and talk. I plan to act.

When my husband and I were married on The Red Line, we didn’t face a single example of any wrongdoing. Just hundreds of people having a good time celebrating me and my betrothed boo-boo Ethan bear. We had loud music, alcohol, dancing and frivolity. And not one criminal incident. Not even so much as a spray-painting hooligan sullying our beloved occasion with their disgustingly unlawful attempt at quote-unquote public art.

In comparison, last Saturday in Red Line? Dozens of incidents reported, over a hundred in fact; everything from harassment, public urination, breaking and entering to an out-and-out terrorist attack perpetrated by the Lottery.

CLC

These are complete exaggerations and fabrications.

EB

Charlotte may spin this however she wants. The fact remains, I didn’t let any filthy riffraff into our city during my wedding. We kept the doors shut, we kept the doors guarded and for the twelve hours I was in control of Red Line? There was absolutely no crime.

[Broke Yeti beat breaks out and plays underneath]

The difference between my competitors and myself? Charlotte’s already insisted we open our doors to non-citizens and Ms. Powell? Well, she wants to open our doors even wider.

This is our city and all my opponents can talk about is non-citizen commuters. The nerve of that nonsense.

Well the free ride is over. If these commuters want a ride so desperately, they’ll need to visit Ms. Powell’s real estate office and purchase themselves a rail home, because when I’m Mayor? Red Line’s doors will be closed.

File Not Found

[Broke Yeti Beat plays]

NARRATOR

Emily’s first week in Red Line was —

It was —

Wonderful. Simply wonderful.

EMILY

Isn’t this wonderful, Ethan?

LEON — Braden Lamb

It was not wonderful.

EMILY

It reminds me of our wedding.

LEON

It did. And everything that followed.

EMILY

Oh, Ethan. I’m so glad you’re here with me.

LEON

Ethan wasn’t there.

[Huge switch noise. Music abruptly ends].

Not anymore.

[Haul Away joe plays throughout credits].

CREDITS

Alexander Danner

We at Greater Boston are very excited to see cast-member Jessica Washington live on stage in a production of the one-woman show, “Who Will Sing for Lena?” The story of the only woman in Georgia to be executed by electrocution. You just heard how powerful a performer Jessica is as Isabelle Powell, so if you’re in the Boston area, we very much hope you’ll see her perform live the last weekend of this month at the Mosesian Center For the Arts in Watertown. You can get more details and purchase tickets at arsenalarts.org.

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

Would you like to listen to new episodes of Greater Boston two days sooner? Patreon contributors of just two dollars per episode receive early access to every episode.

In order of appearance, this episode featured:

Jeff Van Dreason as Chuck Octagon
Jessica Washington as Isabelle Powell
Sam Musher as Emily Bespin
Summer Unsinn as Charlotte Linzer Coolidge
Alexander Danner as The Narrator
James Capobianco as The Mayor of the Red Line
Tanja Milojevic as Melissa Weatherby
Lydia Anderson as Gemma Linzer-Coolidge
Julia Propp as Louisa Alvarez
Mario Da Rosa Jr. as Isaiah Powell
And Braden Lamb as Leon Stamatis.

Also featuring Julian Danner as “Young Monty,” and Ben Flaumenhaft as the Red Line official.

Interviews recorded with Greater Boston residents.

Charlie on the MTA is performed by Emily Peterson and Dirk Tiede. Haul Away Joe and Train Jam performed by Adrienne Howard, Emily Peterson and Dirk Tiede. Dream music by Jeff Van Dreason. Drums by Jim Johanson. Robot Beat by Broke Yeti. Some sound effects and music used from public domain and creative commons sources.

Episode transcripts will be posted online at GreaterBostonShow.com.

COOKIE

Julian Danner
Roanoke…Coloney?

Alexander Danner
Co-lo-ny.

Julian Danner
Colony. No one ever vanishes, do they? No. They simply leave.

Alexander Danner
Very nice. We’re going to do that a couple of times.

Julian Danner
ALL of it? (sighs)

Alexander Danner
Yep. Because it — you have to — we do this with all our recordings, we do everything three or four times because usually the third time sounds best.

Julian Danner
Okay!

Content Warnings:

  • Strong Language
  • Abandonment
  • Phobic panic response
  • Discussion of historic racial violence against children
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