Transcript for Episode 24: Quitters

COLD OPEN

Male Interview 1
Man. 36 years, I quit a lot of things. I quit playing football…because I wanted to get a job instead.

Female Interview 1
It looked easy but then when you got to it yourself and you have to sit down by yourself and really think of everything I thought it was super hard?

Male Interview 2
Well, uhh, he was — he was just really impractical. Like, I would be working nonstop and absolutely busting my ass, and then, umm, it would just never be enough and it was pretty crazy at times, honestly. Like…

Male Interview 3
And and and — and it is a good system when you’re working together and and sometimes it’s awesome, you know? You’re banging meals out, everything’s going great, but when things go wrong, they go wrong and if it’s — it’s it’s it’s tough because things get aggressive and they get mean in the restaurant business.

Female Interview 2
I quit high school twice. (laughter). And I…it’s not one of my biggest regrets, because everything worked out okay, but yeah, did I wish I had gone a different route and had been involved in high school and worked my potential? Sure.

Female Interview 1
Because like I could’ve did so great on the project. And my mind just wasn’t functioning like how it should have been?

CHUCK OCTAGONJeff Van Dreason
Mmhmm.

Female Interview 1
So like I just gave up too quick. Which was the worst idea. Because usually you should challenge yourself when situations like that happen.

Male Interview 2
I’m a pretty hard worker and to be at my limit and be asked for more, especially when there’s nobody else to help you around or …you know, take a load off here and there, it’s pretty aggravating, especially when you’re getting yelled at and uhh…watched down your neck and when he’s not doing anything.

Female Interview 3
I quit dancing. I don’t really care. That was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made in my whole life.

Male Interview 3
And it, I know that like..I – I – I knew I wasn’t gonna do that for the rest of my life, but I know people who have been drawn into it and they were always miserable people at work. Like, I’ve never met any head chef or even like line cooks that were…really loved to do their job!

Female Interview 2
I don’t know. It was a lot of pressure for me to go and be around other people and it was easier for me to stay home. It was, I was allowed to stay home and it was easier and I didn’t have to…navigate the teenage years with a bunch of other people.

Male Interview 1
Yeah, I’ve quit a lot of things just because either…I felt like I wasn’t good enough for it, or I just got bored of it.

Female Interview 3
A dancer. Like…not me! I don’t even go up the third floor on these stairs. So.

Female Interview 4
And I felt…I coudl’ve done better because I wasn’t in the right state to try to fix it?

Male Interview 5
I guess you could say just quitting ..umm, I don’t know, just quitting being a kid, I guess you could say. After I became thirteen I just decided to, you know what? I’m going to throw all my toys away, I’m going to just stick to uhh…video games and umm…be around that, just…be around the TV like the…the lonely loner I am. (laughter)

PREVIOUSLY IN

MIKE LINDEN

Previously in Greater Boston.

CHARLOTTE LINZER-COOLIDGE — Summer Unsinn
I’ve…had enough. I don’t know what to do anymore, Isabelle. I —

ISABELLE POWELL — Jessica Washington

You have 24 hours to free Isaiah.

GEMMA LINZER COOLIDGE — Lydia Anderson
And that means, I’m fighting for Red Line. Because as fucked as this entire city is, it was started by someone who wanted to do good.

PHILIP WEST — Michael Melia

There’s no going back from this.

OLIVER WEST — Mike Linden
It’s what we need to do, Philip. Please proceed.

NICA STAMATIS — Kelly McCabe

I’m responsible for the Lottery.

LOUISA ALVAREZ — Julia Propp
I think you need to tell someone other than me.

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 24: Quitters.

[Music fades out]

DEAD LETTER 1

LEON — Braden Lamb

Dear Dimitri and Nica,

[On Golden Riddles, Echoes and Points Act II begins to play]

It is a strange thing to compose a letter when one is dead. Although I’m not actually writing it yet, I have a method for doing so should the opportunity present itself, a pneumatic tube that I appear to be psychically linked to through methods I don’t understand, nor care to understand. They hint at a level of mysticism I don’t personally subscribe to. Yes, despite the fact that my relationship to the corporal universe seems contingent solely on my spiritual connection with some sphere of crystal cabala, I choose not to believe in that connection.

It is an interesting paradox, but a paradox is precisely what brought me here. This very letter is a paradox, as all letters are. The process of writing a letter translates your thoughts for others to consume. But thoughts are not finite, not even mine. Thoughts are complicated and letters often fail to transfer their meaning fully. I twice previously attempted to send my thoughts to Nica. The results were mixed at best. So I am taking my time, attempting to be more like myself, my former, living self.

You see, I’ve done something I regret. I gave up on something important: life. I gave up because I was uncertain if I would live. And in giving up, in choosing to die the way I did, I continued on in a form of life I find most unpleasant. I am here, but also not here, more of a utility than a person. In this state, I am able to see more and do less. Seeing more offers me perspective that broadens my ability to create plans. But in my limited state, I’m barely able to act on those plans. The few attempts I have made to create order have done nothing but create more chaos.

Have my actions made things worse, or better? When I decided to die on that roller coaster — was it supposed to be that way? Would things be better off if I wasn’t still connected, still a utility, still interfering? Has my interference only made things worse?

The answer is yet another paradox. My three least favorite words in the English language.

I don’t know.

[Music fades out]

Press Ambush

[Red Line train. Press room chatter, camera clicking]

CHARLOTTE — Summer Unsinn

Hello everyone. I have a prepared statement. I will not be taking questions.

I have an announcement about our ongoing investigation into the attack on the Octagon-Wood wedding. Yesterday afternoon, we took a second suspect into custody.

The new suspect is…god help me…Dipshit Poletti. Formerly known as Extinction Event Poletti. Formerly known as Pandabear Poletti. Formerly known as Earthman Poletti. Formerly, and originally, known as Gerald Poletti.

Mr. Poletti has made a full confession, both to committing the attack itself, as well as to planting evidence intended to implicate Isaiah Powell. And while it is unlikely that Mr. Poletti worked alone, I have no reason to believe that Mr. Powell was his co-conspirator.

Let me say again plainly: I do not believe that Isaiah Powell was involved in the attack on Red Line.

EMILY — Sam Musher

Why are you defending a terrorist?

[Light murmuring, camera clicking]

CHARLOTTE

Emily? Why are you in the press pool?

EMILY

Just making sure there’s at least one person here to keep you honest.

CHARLOTTE

Fine. Whatever. But like I said, I’m not taking questions.

Powell has not yet been released. While I am convinced of his innocence, our police investigators need to clear him to their own satisfaction before they will make that decision.

To continue, Mr. Poletti was, until yesterday, an employee of local new age publisher ThirdSight Media. Later today, we will release documents showing that ThirdSight Media is the primary financial backer of Emily Bespin’s mayoral campaign.

EMILY

Slander! That’s slander! And maybe you’d like to explain how you got that information by breaking into my house!

CHARLOTTE

I have no evidence to suggest that Bespin knew anything about the attacks.

EMILY

Damn right you don’t!

CHARLOTTE

But there are clear links between Poletti’s employer and the Bespin campaign.

I must also point out a connection between ThirdSight Media and my own campaign. In fact, my wife was Mr. Poletti’s direct predecessor as managing editor of ThirdSight Media.

Investigators are trying to contact company management. The offices suspiciously closed for fumigation, just a few hours after Mr. Poletti turned himself in. Anyone with information as to the identity or whereabouts of ThirdSight Media’s owner are encouraged to contact authorities.

EMILY

That’s right, Charlotte, start a witch hunt! Persecute a defenseless businessman! People like you are why real entrepreneurs can’t get ahead today. Even with a perfect business plan and a carnival of robots.

CHARLOTTE

Let me reiterate, however, that I am personally convinced that neither Isaiah nor Isabelle Powell were involved in any way. Mr. Powell may have been targeted specifically to undermine his aunt’s campaign.

EMILY

Oh, come on! What kind of lunatic conspiracy bullshit are you trying to sell us, Charlotte? They’ve got evidence at his house, evidence at the scene of the crime, I saw him storming the train with my own eyes!

What are you trying to distract us from, Charlotte? Why this need to shift blame from the real culprit to me? Is it just because I’m your opponent, and you can’t handle that I’m winning? Or are you trying to cover up something you’ve already done? Like maybe how you sent your wife to invade my home, without cause, without any kind of warrant.

Or are you trying to distract us from just how incompetent your investigation was? You couldn’t catch one subversive teenager out to cause mayhem, so you’ve gotta turn it into something infinitely bigger, something you can justify taking so absurdly long to solve. And if you get to catch me up in the center of your tornado of lies, so much the better.

Or maybe you just can’t handle the fact that your wife and child owe their lives to me. You didn’t get to be the big hero this time, and you can’t handle not having that spotlight. If you don’t get to be the hero of Red Line, then no one does.

Poor Charlotte Linzer-Coolidge, starved for attention because her Daddy ran away. What would you even do if you found him, Charlotte? Fawn all over him? Beg him to come back? To still love you?

Well when I find him, that’s sure as hell not what I’m going to do. When I find him, I’ll make him pay.

CHARLOTTE

Find who, Emily?

[MBTA call-sign]

ISABELLE — Jessica Washington [Over Red Line intercom]

Citizens of Red Line, this is mayoral candidate Isabelle Powell.

The city of Red Line has taken my nephew Isaiah into custody on wildly insufficient evidence, accusing him of the Octagon-Wood Boston Baked Bean Fiasco and other attacks on Red Line.

CHARLOTTE

How did she get control of the intercom?

ISABELLE [Over Red Line intercom]

I see this as a blatant attempt to silence my political campaign.

But I will not be silenced. I want every one of my supporters, every single citizen who believes in what I stand for to lock their Rail Homes and forbid entrance to any commuter. Nobody shares your home until my nephew is released. I know he is innocent. If you believe I am your next mayor then you’ll believe his innocence too. Nobody is welcome inside our homes until we feel welcomed inside our own city, treated not as a prisoner or a political pawn but as a proper citizen with all the rights we’re entitled to. It’s time to stop being so friendly and remind people what happens when we get pushed too far. Good day!

EMILY

Well! What do you have to say to that?

CHARLOTTE

Oh god. This… this is…

[Music:Train Jam mixed with dream music.]

NARRATOR — Alexander Danner

The tree of tales. She remembered it just then, in that moment. A dream she’d had, a dream she’d woken from that very morning. Her old oak tree sprouting from the rusting wreckage of a broken down train, the limb weighed down by grasping mayors, clinging to the branches like rotting fruit. Emily and Isabelle and Charlotte and Paul Montgomery, and all of thing desperately trying to claw their way up to the top, to claim the single story budding from the highest branch.

But the branches are weak. Withered. Shrunken to a spindly web of twigs and kindling. Paul Montgomery is the first to fall, his branch snapping cleanly away, letting him fall to the ground below, which isn’t the ground anymore, it’s the sky, and the branch he clings to is a rocket to a distant star, and somehow Charlotte knows that star is called “Roanoke.”

And then Charlotte felt her own branch begin to give way.

CHARLOTTE

Do any of you all remember Max Fleischer? He was one of the pioneers in animation. Koko the Clown. Betty Boop. Popeye. They all came out of his studios. His animations were…they were strange. And dark. And such bizarre things could happen. Today’s cartoons…they get called random, but their randomness has a predictability to it. Even the non-sequiturs have a logic to them. An expected timing. A plot structure. Fleischer cartoons didn’t have any of that. You could be watching a story about a down-on-her luck singer getting evicted by a dastardly slumlord, and right at the climax of his intimidating her, the house itself and everything in it could just come to life and beat the villain up, and that’s how the story resolves. That’s the climax. The world just suddenly becomes different. The rules change.

I never expected to be mayor. I only ever signed on to draw some posters. That was it.

But then Chelmsworth abandoned us. And I felt obligated, because I happened to be there. I’ve…been in that situation before. It felt natural to step up, to be the responsible one, ready or not, like it or not.

And Isabelle…now she’s doing this thing. Shutting the doors. And maybe that’s insane. But…I don’t know what else she should do. I didn’t listen to her. She tried talking to me like a person. She did. She told me I was neglecting people. And she was right. But all I could think to say was that her ideas were “impractical.”

Me. I said that. Look at where we’re standing. Look at where we are. A migratory subterranean city. And I had the nerve to tell her that basic fairness was “impractical.”

And then we put her nephew in jail.

I don’t have anything to say about what she’s doing now. I don’t have the right.

After Chelmsworth disappeared, we found the last person who talked to him. And apparently ol’ Paul Montgomery had a lot to say about the virtues of quitting. Like quitting was something to be proud of.

And the thing is…he wasn’t wrong. Sometimes quitting *is* the right thing to do. If you don’t do it badly. If you don’t walk away from your real obligations. If you don’t just abandon all the people who rely on you. Like he did.

I’ll never forgive him for that. And neither should you.

I have an obligation to see Red Line through its transition. To serve out my term as interim mayor.

But…that’s the limit of my obligation. I never promised to lead the city for years to come. And…I don’t want to. I’m a cartoonist. I got into this for the art. Not the politics.

So that’s it. I’m done. I’ll serve out my term. But I am no longer be campaigning. I officially withdraw from the mayoral election.

That’s all. Thank you.

[Murmuring, camera clicking]

EMILY

That’s it? You’re just walking away? You coward. We were only just getting started! I want to crush you at the polls! But fine. Run away without even trying, just like everybody else. Nobody really commits, anymore, do they?

Stay in your seats, news nerds, I’ve got a statement of my own to make. I will not be taking questions.

[Emily stomps up on stage, takes the mic, mic feedback.]

First, obviously, I deny Ms. Linzer-Coolidge’s insinuations that I knew anything about the attacks on Red Line. Charlotte Linzer-Coolidge is a stupid liar telling stupid lies.

Second, Isaiah Powell must be thoroughly investigated. I will not give a free pass to criminals with prominent family connections just because it is politically expedient to do so.

Third, this new action action by Isabelle Powell and her followers is clearly in direct violation of their Commutity Car rail-home contracts, and will be subject to prosecution once I am mayor of Red Line.

Some will call this an act of civil disobedience. I say we should call it what it is: economic terrorism. Isabelle Powell is holding our city hostage in order to secure the release of a criminal. This act obstructs our commuter-driven economic growth, costing Red Line hundreds of thousands of dollars. It prevents law-abiding citizens from reaching their places of work, and obstructs emergency and law enforcement services.

I will take steps to relieve some of the congestion created by the Commutity Car lockdown. Although I do not live in a Commutity Car, and have no obligation to do so, I will move temporarily to an offsite luxury hotel, so that I may open my rail-home doors to residents and commuters alike. My heart-shaped sugar cookie with pink frosting and sprinkles Ethan will remain to welcome guests into our home and instruct them in fascinating cheese-making processes. Be sure to say hello.

I heartily encourage all my supporters to open their doors to respectable citizens. We will not allow our city to be cowed by terrorists.

Thank you. And vote Emily Bespin for Mayor!

[Subway doors, murmuring dies down.]

CHARLOTTE

God, she couldn’t even let me get out the door first.

MELISSA

You didn’t warn me any of that was going to happen!

CHARLOTTE

Melissa. Hi. I’m sorry, I…

MELISSA

You owe me better than that, and you know it. I still have to do my job, Charlotte. My job that I am completely unprepared to do because I had no warning! Do you know how many phone calls I’m going to have to field after this? How many questions I won’t be able to answer? How many events I have to cancel, people I have to fire…caterers, musicians, event planners, sound crews…sorry guys, the best gig you had this year just got cancelled! Nobody gets paid! Not to mention my own job.

 

CHARLOTTE

Losing your job was always a possibility. You knew that.

 

MELISSA

Yeah. A possibility. A possibility you and I were both working together to avoid.

CHARLOTTE

Do you really think that’s reason enough to keep going? Just to protect our jobs? With the direction this whole thing is going?

MELISSA

I wouldn’t have tried to talk you out of it. I’m not even saying it’s the wrong decision. I’m just saying: you should have told me. Or…at least you could have let Gemma tell me.

[Silence]

Gemma…could have told me, right?

CHARLOTTE

Not really.

MELISSA

You did tell her you were doing this. Right?

CHARLOTTE

Not yet.

MELISSA

Oh, Charlotte.

[Red Line train escalates for transition. Red Line doors as Gemma enters]

Illusions of Order

GEMMALydia Anderson

What the fuck, Charlotte?

CHARLOTTE

How many times do I need to tell you not to curse in front of —

GEMMA

Monty should hear this too so I’ll repeat: What. The. Fuck?

CHARLOTTE

Fine, I’ll tell you exactly the fuck what. Do you know the moment I think I made this decision? It was the exact moment you told me you snuck into the Bespin’s place, something I had to outright forbid you to do like I was speaking to a goddamn child. A child I barely even know. So if you don’t like that I’m doing this, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

GEMMA

So make an example out of me, show them all there’s no nepotism going on —

CHARLOTTE

You know that won’t matter, Gemma. You know this is all about perception.

GEMMA

Then do whatever it takes. Fire me, even.

CHARLOTTE

Fire you, yeah, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?

GEMMA

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

CHARLOTTE

You come in here all fit to be tied and you’re the last person who should be lecturing anyone about giving up.

GEMMA

I never gave up —

CHARLOTTE

Yes, you did. And it wasn’t when Third Sight fired you, it was months after you started working there. And rather than look for a new job, look for anything else, you just sat there and let it happen, year in year out, until it got so bad I had to watch what I said around you, couldn’t talk about my dreams because they reminded you of work. We were having a baby—

GEMMA

I know that and —

CHARLOTTE

And I sacrificed everything to give us the family we always wanted and you did nothing but fucked around the whole time, pissing away your responsibility—

[Music: Leaving of Liverpool fades up]

GEMMA

If you let me finish. I wasn’t talking about Third Sight. What I was going to say is that I never gave up on you. Turns out that’s what I’ve needed all along. To believe in someone. Something. If you walk away from this, I won’t have that anymore. You won’t either. Have you even considered the people you’re responsible for?

CHARLOTTE

You still have your job and I still have months to go as acting mayor before the election so —

GEMMA

I’m not talking about me and Monty. I still believe we’re going to be okay, no matter what. You are a leader for the people of Red Line. More than a leader. You’re a symbol of what’s possible. You’ve squeezed working, functioning democracy out of complete chaos with nothing but your own convictions. Have you considered what giving up on those convictions will do to people? Who are they left to choose? Emily is insane and Isabelle is creating chaos with her boycott.

CHARLOTTE

Maybe chaos is what we deserve.

GEMMA

All of what you did CAME from chaos.

CHARLOTTE

I didn’t do enough. Yes, I worked hard, I worked too hard probably, but Isabelle’s right, I never thought to talk to her or anyone else different from me. I just assumed I knew what was best. It’s amazing things aren’t worse than they are now.

GEMMA

Things are about to get worse off.

CHARLOTTE

It’ll be inconvenient for a time, but then it will pass for us. It’s not that easy for her or many of her followers. Our little inconveniences, our sporadic little chaoses will never compare. When Isabelle first met me she tried to tell me that. I didn’t listen. I thought all my hard work meant I was doing enough. But enough frequently isn’t enough.

So I’m throwing my complete support behind her campaign next week after I —

GEMMA

You’re doing exactly what he did, you realize that, don’t you?

CHARLOTTE

How dare you say that.

GEMMA

What’s the difference?

CHARLOTTE

The difference is he never dealt with any of it in the first place!

GEMMA

Well from where I’m standing? You’re both quitting the moment things really start to get tough.

CHARLOTTE

Get tough? Now things are getting tough? This has always been tough.

GEMMA

And I’m sure it was tough to rant like a loon and get thousands of signatures, but that patchy elbowed motherfucker did it. But when he finally got what he wanted, he split like a ripe banana, like a coward.

CHARLOTTE

So I’m a coward, is that it? Well I am not afraid to tell you the truth. Things are tough in Red Line, yes. But things were tough long before Red Line. They were tough when I was pregnant and you left me alone to go to work every day. They were tough when I’d try to talk to you and you just whined about your job rather than do something about it. They were tough when I was so lonely I went in search of this insane crap just to make myself feel normal. So I’m sorry that you just now finally started giving a shit about how I feel and what I want, but if case you haven’t noticed, I don’t want to do this anymore. I want out. Now could you possibly support that please?

[Leaving of Liverpool ends]

GEMMA [quiet, hurt]

All I’ve done is support you. Because you’re good at this. You need to hear that over and over again. No, it’s not perfect, nothing ever is. Not even us. But you’re really good at this and you’re only bound to get better.

And I guess I just wanted something to be good at too. And I wanted that to be you. Us. This.

So I did everything I could to support you because this filled you with purpose and meaning and goodness. It pushed you into being someone I didn’t realize you were capable of becoming.

And I devoted myself to that person. In finding your purpose, you gave me someone to believe in.

CHARLOTTE

I don’t believe in me. Maybe I ran a pretty good game for a while, but that’s all it is. Just a story. Nothing but a big lie.

GEMMA

Charlotte…baby…that’s all any of it is. You tell the best story you can, the one that’s going to help the most. And you tell the smallest lie possible. The one there’s no harm in believing.

CHARLOTTE

I don’t want to lie anymore.

[Pause]

GEMMA

This isn’t right. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

[Pause]

I need to — I need to find my ball. This is all my fault, this is all because I let someone take it and I need it back or else —

CHARLOTTE

Gemma! It’s just a stupid crystal ball.

GEMMA

It’s not. Not to me. I’ve told you what it means to me. But I guess you don’t believe in anything anymore.

[Monty cries. Gemma gives him to Charlotte]

Here. You should have more time for him now. I’m going to find it.

[Red Line doors.Train and Monty crying fade out]

INT — IS BOSTON A RACIST CITY?

CHUCK OCTAGONJeff Van Dreason
Do you think Boston is a racist city?

Female Interview 1
Umm. Certain areas.

Female Interview 2
I think Southie is a racist city.

Male Interview 1
Absolutely.

Female Interview 3
In my opinion, no.

Male Interview 2
I wouldn’t call Boston itself a racist city but every city has racist people, whether you want to believe it or not. Whether they’re in denial or not.

Male Interview 3
We used to be. Right? I mean…

Female Interview 1
I guess everyone has like their own opinions and you can’t really like force people to like respect like who you are and what you do or anything like that. But.

Female Interview 4
Someone actually, someone I work with, an African-American man told me recently…we — we were talking about the election and he was talk– he’s, all his family is from the Carolina’s, North and South, and he said, he said ‘You know up here, it’s not racist.’ And then he kind of corrected himself, he said, ‘well what it is, it’s hidden up here.’

Female Interview 2
A racist cult. A racist area. Charlestown, too. I think we all have like…Boston’s pretty great all around? And then you have those little alleyways you walk past, and you’re like, what’s that? Oh, it’s a racist Southie person. Ya know? It’s like…the goonies, you know? They’re just…there. So.

Male Interview 3
I don’t…I don’t think so. I mean, I — I guess I don’t, I never really asked a lot of people, but as far as like seeing racism? I — I don’t think it’s really as big of a problem here as it is other parts of the country.

Female Interview 4
And he said, ‘but down there? You go down there, and it’s in your face. There’s no denying that there’s racism down there.’ So…

Male Interview 4
I experienced it in high school…a little. But it wasn’t — it wasn’t in my face? It was like, is this racism? I’m not sure. I think it is. (laughter).

Female Interview 5
People are like…circumventing now. They don’t want to be deliberately racist, but they still think and have these stereotypes and prejudices that come out in more of their words and actions. Rather than, you know, they’re deliberately being derogatory.

Female Interview 4
Overtly racist? I don’t think so. But…it’s probably getting more so every day.

Male Interview 1
I think being a college town? A lot of people are trying to be, you know, politically correct and uhh, act like they’re all big fan of equality but deep down under people’s skin, like…over their false persona they put up, it’s definitely, there’s definitely some racism and some sexism and…

Female Interview 6
There’s only two black families on my street and then there’s a Spanish family so there’s like three black families?

Female Interview 1
You have some places where you go in the mall, too, like, any mall, and people just automatically think like, ‘oh, this person is gonna steal’ or like, ‘oh this person is up to no good’ or just anything like that, I just…

Female Interview 3
Because I live … I was born and raised here? So I feel like I understand the people. You can have maybe one person out of many but not everybody should be blamed for that one person actions.

Male Interview 2
Boston as a city, not really, but we do have very racist people in Boston that you can come encounter with.

Female Interview 2
It’s like umm… the city’s here and then you drive to the countryside and they’re still living the country?

Female Interview 6
If…when we have parties we have to be like sometimes be quiet because the people will call the police really fast on us.

Male Interview 3
I mean, every — every city has their problems, right? Every — every state has their problems, whether it be with race or anything else. But as a whole? The majority, I wanna say no.

Female Interview 2
Yeah. They forgot slavery has been abolished. So…that. That. (laughter)

Female Interview 1
I mean. You can’t …you can’t ever like, talk back to people like that. You kinda just have to let them be like how they are. And …you just have to be how you are. You can’t let anything affect you, really. Just gotta keep moving forward.

[Music: On Golden Riddles, Echoes and Points resumes playing]

DEAD LETTER 2

LEON

I’ve referred to myself as a utility in this letter and feel I must explain. I’ve been used by a man who intends to advance his own career and status in this world by manipulating the abilities my unique position grants him. I’ve done this because he has used my emotional connection with Michael against me and I believed the information he required did little harm and amounted to little consequence.

The man who is using me views the world much like a game and so I will refer to him as my opponent. The game that we are playing is directly affecting the lives of others, and if we extend this metaphor, the same can be said for all of us. We’re all engaged in our own little games. Our opponents are whatever obstacle life chooses to throw at us at any moment. The mistake many of us make in attempting to overcome these obstacles and vanquish our opponents lies in thinking that it is a solely a personal matter. You vs your obstacle, you vs your opponent. When you play the game, other players are affected. You cannot win chess without sacrificing pawns. Even my opponent seems to believe that in creating more chaos, he can control chaos, harness it to advance his own status in the world. What he fails to realize is that even as he schemes and plans, the gears he’s forcing forward may circle back to grind him up.

So what role do we play in our individual games? Do we go on the offensive and actively resist? Or do we simply surrender to chaos, knowing our attempts to control it are ultimately useless. Chaos cares little for endless strategy.

IT’S ALL GONE TO HELL

[Music: Oliver’s Theme. Background noise: general ruckus from another room.]

NARRATOR

Oliver West was pacing his office, in his secret apartments on the top floor of ThirdSight Media. He tried his best to ignore the crashes and rattlings from the next room. He tried to ignore the deathly silence from the floors below, where his newsroom should have been hard at work spreading his message, securing his legacy. He couldn’t understand how it had come to this. Nica in the wind, Phil questioning his decisions more with every passing day. His most loyal sycophant in jail, confessing to crimes he’d been completely unaware were happening. His magazines shut down, tainted by their association with Dipshit’s guilt.

OLIVER — Mike Linden

But it’s all worth it. It’s all working. I’m winning.

NARRATOR

And that girl. That poor girl. In the hospital with burns across her back.

OLIVER

Linzer-Coolidge quit the race! Much sooner than expected. And Powell is tossing her entire campaign in the trash bin with this stunt on the Commutity cars. Bespin’s path to the mayor’s office is practically assured. I’m winning.

NARRATOR

No one was supposed to be hurt. The beans shouldn’t have been hot. The device had been mounted badly. There was a short in the wiring. An electrical charge ran through the bean canister for hours, superheating the contents until they were a steaming, molten mass, exacerbated by the high-pressure storage. No one had meant that to happen.

OLIVER

It wasn’t my fault. Not really. An accident. And all in service to the greater good. The greater cosmic plan. My empire will survive. They’ll see. Emily will win the election, just like we predicted. And the precognitive perspicacity of my publications will be hailed by the attuned public.

And I’ll have the mayor’s ear. She’ll owe me. We’ll rise. Autumn and Ada will see what I’ve done for them. And then…and then…

[Pneumatic tube arrives]

NARRATOR

There were not many people left to send messages to Oliver via the Pneumatic tubes. Very few. Only one, really. Even Phil had been MIA the past few days.

OLIVER

Phil was the most exposed. The most at risk. He needs to lay low until the danger is past.

NARRATOR

So Oliver knew who the message was from. It could only be Autumn. But he hesitated to retrieve the message.

OLIVER

I should take some time off. That’s what I should do. I should take a week to spend in Providence with Autumn and Ada. Do family things. Take a trip out to the…the mall I suppose. Or somewhere else. Wherever they would like.

That’s what I’ll tell her. That’s what I’ll say when I write back.

[Crash]

OLIVER

Good heavens, what on earth is he doing in there? I suppose I should look in on him.

[Sounds of key in lock, Michael gagged cries]

NARRATOR
In the back room, Oliver found his temporary houseguest …banging against walls, knocking over night stands, kicking the knobs off of dressers. Whatever he could manage with his hands bound and his mouth gagged.

OLIVER

Mr. Tate, please settle down. Destroying my spare bedroom won’t do you any good.

NARRATOR
The house guest rushed past Oliver, knocking him aside to escape into the central room. He spun around looking for any egress or tool that might do him some good. The elevator was locked with a passcode that only Oliver knew. The nexus of pneumatic tubes was incomprehensible. But then…he saw what he needed. His own phone. He quickly began executing a familiar sequence of commands.

[Inaudible speaking, laughing]

[Scuffle, ruckus.]

OLIVER

Eh. Are you typing with your nose? How are you even doing that? Give me that. Oh, you were trying to send a textual message, weren’t you? “Don’t trust Phil.” Well, that would be a helpful message to get to your friend, wouldn’t it?Well, I have bad news, my mischievous rapscallion. You weren’t even in your textual messaging application. All you did was add an item to your calendar. Yes, it appears that you’ll receive a helpful reminder, sometime tomorrow, warning yourself not to trust Phil. I hope you feel very accomplished.

 

Now, go back to your room. And I’m going to destroy this phone, so don’t think you can try a trick like that again.

[Closing and locking door.]

[Smash phone]

NARRATOR
Satisfied with his work, House Guest did what he was told.

OLIVER (long sigh)

Well. Well, then.

Yes. Okay.

Autumn.

NARRATOR

Oliver stepped across the room to the wall of tubes, the nexus of his vast network. Each tube was carefully labelled with its end point and relevant operatives. They’d all had operatives, years ago, when this secret office had been occupied by more powerful men. Oliver used only a handful of them. And only one of them today. A tube labelled “Providence—Autumn and Ada.” And there sat the canister, so recently arrived, awaiting his attention.

He took it in his hand.

He opened it.

[Oliver’s theme cuts, Isolated plays]

AUTUMN

Dear Oliver,

The paperwork is enclosed. It is finalized, notarized, and stamped. I wish you had been there. I wish you had come to court. I wish you had looked me in the eye in the final moment, the moment when our marriage finally, formally ceased to be. But either way, it’s done.

The divorce. That’s how we’ll refer to it, I suppose. “The divorce.” First was “the wedding,” then was “the divorce.” Eleven years on. I’m a divorcée, now.

And so are you.

[Isolated cuts, back to Oliver’s theme]

OLIVER

Well. Well. Technically, she’s wrong, you know. “I’m a divorcée and so are you.” She spelled it with two Es, the accented E and the unaccented E. That’s specifically feminine. The masculine has only the accented E. It’s different.

[Music swaps again]

AUTUMN — Beth Eyre

They granted the child support terms I requested. You won’t find it onerous. In fact, I asked for less than you’ve been sending us all along. I wanted it to be clear—you are meeting your fiduciary obligations to Ada. You are not supporting me. I think that’s fitting.

I’ve been awarded full custody. That shouldn’t be a surprise. That’s how it’s been these past months anyway. By your own choice. I was hoping you’d fight me. On the custody at least. I hoped you’d be there to fight for joint custody. Or visitation. But you weren’t. You didn’t show up.

I won’t deny you visitation, of course. Court or not, I would never deny you that. But you have to want it, Oliver. You have ask for it.

You have to make the choice to be in his life.

[Isolated cuts, back to Oliver’s theme]

OLIVER

What rubbish. What…just rubbish. I’m in his life. Of course I’m in his life. Everything I do is for him.

[Oliver’s theme cuts, back to Isolated]

AUTUMN

I know you’re working hard to provide for him. I know you’re sincere in that.

But you’re providing the wrong things.

I’m enclosing a note from Ada. He would like to hear from you. But he’d rather see you.

With affection, or at least something reminiscent of it,

Autumn

[Isolated ends, Oliver’s theme continues]

NARRATOR

Oliver let the letter drop into the trash can beside the tube nexus. It would sit there until evening, when he would run it through the shredder, along with all the private papers he disposed of. And then he would launch it down the chute to the recycling bin below. In the morning, it would be picked up by a collection crew, who would haul it away to the recycling center, where it would be properly disposed of, with utmost finality, pulped and bleached and remade into something entirely new.

Oliver paused a moment to relish the satisfying process of the letter’s disposal, each step along the way.

Then he took the second letter from the canister. This one was written in colored pencil, each line it’s own color, the letters carefully drawn out on a sheet of pink construction paper.

[Music cuts]

ADA — Julian Danner

Dear Daddy,

Mommy said that you and she aren’t married anymore. That made me sad, and I cried. She said she was sad too. And she says it’s important to be honest about what we feel.

So I thought about that, and there’s something I have to tell you. My favorite macaroni and cheese is really the blue box. I’m sorry I lied.

Also, I drew a Koopa turtle on the back of this paper. I hope you like it.

Also, I got third place in my krunking competition. You should have seen me. I was magnificent!

Love,

Ada

OLIVER

Let me…let me just sit down a minute.

[Long, emotional, wavering sight.]

OLIVER

It’s all gone to…

You know what? Never mind. Never mind any of it.

NARRATOR

Oliver rose from his chair and crossed back to his nexus.

OLIVER

Now, which lever is it? Ah.

[Lever pull]

NARRATOR

He pulled the lever that activated the special tube, the one tube he thought he’d never use.

[Large tube opens]

[Sound of a large hinged door swinging open, something with an air-tight seal, like a fridge door.]

OLIVER

Well, this looks comfortable enough, I suppose.

[He settles in. Pulls the door closed behind him.]

OLIVER [Behind glass]

Well. Okay then.

[Machine builds, followed by a huge puff, as the enormous canister is launched up it’s tube. Sounds of Michael continuing to scuffle and then — audibly confused]

INT. — DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?

Chuck Octagon
What’s a regret that you have, and why?

Male Interview 1
A regret. Uhhh.

Female Interview 1

Oh, everyone can relate to this. Dying my hair. Like, when you dye and cut your hair so much, it takes forever for it to grow back. Luckily mins is growing back? But it’s growing back super slow. And like. I just wish I never dyed and cut my hair.

Male Interview 1
I guess it’s not my fault, I — I guess…I guess to have an I.E.P I guess? I regret that, I do’t want that…to …happen.

Female Interview 2
I could have done theatre. Theatre was one of those things I’ve always wanted to pursue. And I lost it.

Male Interview 2
Back in high school, I really didn’t apply myself.

Male Interview 1
But it wasn’t like my choice. I just — I just —

Chuck Octagon
Definitely not your fault.

Male Interview 1
Yeah. So.

Chuck Octagon
I understand what you’re saying, but —

Male Interview 1
For a long time, like, I felt like it was my fault? LIke —

Chuck Octagon
No.

Male Interview 1
I was dumb, like when I was little.

Chuck Octagon
No.

Male Interview 1
So.

Chuck Octagon
But you know that’s not the case, right?

Male Interview 1
Yeah. Yes, I do.

Male Interview 2
And I drank in school, like I did things that like…you shouldn’t do. I mean, in retrospect I did have a tough life at that point. The relationship I had with my mom, I don’t know if I ever told you, but my mom passed away three years ago?

Chuck Octagon
Oh, I’m sorry.

Male Interview 2
Yeah, and umm…

Female Interview 2
Ohh. Oh, it’s a sad one. Not spending more time with my parents before they died. Yeah, especially my mom.

Male Interview 2
That was right around the same time that, you know, I was struggling in school. She actually was uhh — she had an addiction problem. So like…I always wish I had a better relationship with her. I — my, one of my regrets is umm — I moved out shortly before she passed.

Female Interview 2
I wish I’d been one of those daughters that called every night. And we like chatted and watched shows together, and, yeah, sometimes I would let a couple weeks go by. And that’s a huge regret.

Male Interview 2
And even though I know it’s not my fault, I always regret, you know, maybe I should have like been there for her or got help, you know, for her and what not, and I think that…that has always been tough for me but, you know, I do know that wasn’t in my control knowing the signs of addiction?

Male Interview 3
(laughter) This is. I’m so sorry. This is a constant regret. Umm.

Male Interview 4
I think my biggest regret would be rushing into marriage.

Male Interview 3
I wish I had played…rugby…earlier. I would have been playing for Boston rugby as well ‘cause the coach was also looking at me.

Male Interview 4
We were only like literally…the day of our one year anniversary she moved out to live with her boyfriend in Florida. Probably should have timed that one out a little better.

Female Interview 3
I think about that story all the time, actually.

Male Interview 4
(heavy sigh) Yeah.

Male Interview 5
I don’t want to know that story.

All
(Laughter)

Chuck Octagon
You don’t seem like a man who has a lot of regret. I have to say, you don’t…you don’t carry yourself like you have a lot of regret.

Male Interview 3
Uhh. Wel, the regret’s there.

[On Golden Riddles, Echoes and Points fades up]

DEAD LETTER 3

LEON

Have I done the right thing, playing this game in the manner I’ve played? Have I made the right moves, or was the right move not to play?

On that roller coaster, choosing to remain alive would have meant surrendering control to uncertainty. So I died. But then my life extended beyond the parameters I previously believed possible. Certainty isn’t certain and knowing more has left me only more powerless.

So I’ve come to an answer of sorts. A conclusion to this letter in the very least.

I am giving up on order. It has failed me thoroughly, I am now attempting to surrender to chaos. I am taking a page from Nica’s book and casting a message in a bottle out into the void. This message, addressed to both of you.

Most of the pneumatic tubes are internal, but there is one tube that leads to a private parking space in a parking lot outside of Third Sight Media. I will cast this letter out into the world and hope it eventually finds you both.

This decision was made with extreme discomfort. But everything about my current condition is uncomfortable. In death, I’ve discovered my own personal hell. I can see order but I’m forbidden to create it. I feel as if I’m being punished for who I am, for what I believe in.

Nica and Dimitri, my beloved siblings — this message needs to find you, you need to find each other. You need to find Michael. And you need to find me. And you need to release me from this crystal ball and let me find peace. The world is a mess. Somewhere within that mess lies beauty. But I am no longer meant to be part of its design.

[Music fades out]

With love and expediency,

Leon

[Sound of pneumatic tube launching, pushing through the tube and popping out into the parking lot, where it rolls on the ground]

15 MINUTES

[Busy office noises]

[Television news quietly playing in background]

NICA Kelly McCabe

Excuse me?

RED LINE OFFICIALJulia Schifini  [working, stapling]

One sec.

NICA

I need to confess to a crime.

TV NEWSSarah Golding

A decades old mystery was solved earlier this week when the FBI finally discovered DB Cooper in a compound located on the Alaskan shore, near the city of Valdez.

RED LINE [distracted]

Oh yeah? [Staples paperwork]. Whatcha do?

NICA

I — well, it’s kind of important and I’d rather not have to —

RED LINE OFFICIAL

Whoa, are you hearing this?

TV NEWS

Cooper gained mysterious notoriety after successfully stealing $200,000 after hijacking a plane in November of 1971 and subsequently skydiving over the Pacific North West. Officials are still keeping the real identity of the infamous sky-jacker a secret–

RED LINE OFFICIAL [Overlapping with TV]

That’s big news. My dad always figured he was dead. He was a paratrooper in the war, said his chances were slim given the conditions, height, speed of the plane…

TV NEWS [Overlapping]

–but will release more information later in the week. We cut now to our exclusive interview with the man responsible for leading the FBI to Cooper’s Alaskan compound.

NICA [Overlapping with TV]

Uh-huh.

RED LINE OFFICIAL [Overlapping with TV]

Anyway, what are you confessing to? Probably got nothing on the scale of ol’ DB Cooper, right?

TV NEWS [Overlapping]

Massachusetts native Dimitri Stamatis who…

NICA [Overlapping]

What? Turn that up.

TV NEWS

…was saved by Cooper after shipwrecking along the Alaskan shore months ago.

RED LINE OFFICIAL

Lady, you wanna watch TV or you wanna confess?

NICA

That’s my brother. Turn it up. Now.

[Volume gets louder. Official staples paperwork throughout scene]

DIMITRI James Johnston

He…he’s probably in his 90’s, but in good health all things considered. The compound is huge, he has lots of weapons and barrels and —

INTERVIEWER Eli Barraza

Why do you think he released you?

DIMITRI

Part of me thinks he wants people to know. I think he’s nearing the end of his life and the idea of…of living in seclusion? Being a complete unknown? That really bothers him. If he died up there it’s possible nobody would have ever discovered anything and I think part of him wants everyone to know.

RED LINE OFFICIAL [Overlapping]

Lady, they got a TV in the window of Murphy’s. Why don’t you go stare through that?

INTERVIEWER

What’s it feel like to be the man who discovered DB Cooper?

DIMITRI

Oh, I — I don’t know, I hadn’t —

INTERVIEWER

I mean this is huge, you’re about to get your fifteen minutes, what do you plan to do with it?

DIMITRI

I honestly haven’t thought about it at all. Not until now. I don’t know. At the moment, all I want to do is go home.

[News theme plays, volume turns down]

RED LINE OFFICIAL

C’mon lady, you confessing to a crime or not?

[Pause]

NICA [as bitter as possible]

Nope.

ANCHORED TO THE ISLAND OF FIRE

[Waves, crackling fire noise. A distant knocing sound.]

NARRATOR–Alexander Danner

Everyday, it feels like he wakes next to a roaring fireplace. He can feel the flames through the hull, that’s how hot the island is, as if his boat were docked a mile from the sun.

It’s a mostly pleasant way to awaken, consistently warmed by an unseen force. If not for the odor.

He puts on suntan lotion and his full-body slicker before going out on the desk to fish for meals. There are schools that swim nearby, attracted by food debris that manage to fall away from the Spectacle Island fire, small collections of remnants not torched by the flame.

Pollock, Winter Flounder, American Shad, Cusk, Fluke, Atlantic Cod. Each school swims with tiny differentials — a certain underwater bob or a specific whisk from a set of flippers — establishing who they really are as a community.

What did it mean to be a fish among fish? Why travel in schools? Who was the leader? Where was he leading them?

[Reeling / fishing sound]

The Winter Flounder’s are the most recent species to appear. He likes them more for what they symbolize than their taste. The air was crisper again and it was easier to be anchored to the endlessly burning island when the temperatures dropped.

It takes him an hour to catch something, after which he de-bones, fillets and heats his breakfast with his rod now leaning towards the island of fire.

[Wave, Clunk]

Something is clamoring against the side of the hull.

[Wave, clunk]

Could be a large shell. Even a large shellfish of some kind.

[Wave, clunk]

He peers over the side. It’s a bottle. A wine bottle, sealed with a cork. Trash. Both the bottle and the person who threw it into the water. He once lectured a tourist on a whale watch for the remainder of their shared trip after witnessing him dropping a dixie cup into the waves. He’s no longer welcome aboard any vessel owned or operated by the New England Aquarium as a result.

One place among many where he is no longer welcome.

[Wave, clunk]

There’s something appealing about the insistence of that bottle, how it refuses to waver, how it fights the waves lifting it, carrying it, hoisting it against the side of his ship as if some kind of bookend to the celebration marking its maiden voyage.

He fishes it out.

[Bottle fished out of the water, dripping]

There’s a note inside. Or a letter. How antiquated. How cliche. How romantic.

[Cork noise, paper unfurling. Farewell to Nigg begins to play]

He shakes out a long letter and reads.

[Audio excerpts from “The Puzzle Box.”]

NICA (re-edited / overlaying)

Dear Dimitri,

I’ve read the letters you sent to Leon. From Oregon. From somewhere out in the ocean.

I figured you’ve have a nice little vacation. I figured you’d come back home.

I just assumed you were as much of a coward as I am.

Is that the moment you gave up on me?

Twelve hours off from leaving forever, and still you tried to convince me to drop everything and run away.

when it started to come clear that you had really gone this time, had really left us behind.

But I’ll do what you do when someone is out at sea—I’ll put it in a bottle, and carry along the Red Line to Charles MGH.

I will toss the bottle into the Charles river and hope that somehow it carries this message out to the right part of the ocean to wherever you are —

And I’m fucking pissed at you.

I hope you get this.

Love,

Nica

NARRATOR

He lowers the paper. The silhouette of the Boston Skyline wobbles in his blurred vision, buildings beaming orange from the rising sun. He thinks of his students. He thinks of Claudia. He thinks of Charlotte.

He blinks once and it all snaps into focus.

PAUL CHELMSWORTHJames Capobianco

My god.

[Changes tone]

It is time. It is time for my return.

NARRATOR

And Paul Montgomery Chelmsworth, the man most know as the Mayor of the Red Line, prepares for his judgement, prepares for his atonement, prepares for his journey home.

[Music, waves and fire slowly fades out]

[Childgrove plays over credits]

CREDITS

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

In order of appearance, this episode featured:

Braden Lamb as Leon Stamatis.
Summer Unsinn as Charlotte Linzer Colidge.
Sam Musher as Emily Bespin.
Jessica Washington as Isabelle Powell.
Alexander Danner as the narrator.
Tanja Milojevic as Melissa Weatherby.
Lydia Anderson as Gemma Linzer-Coolidge.
Mike Linden as Oliver West.
James Oliva as Michael Tate.
Beth Eyre as Autumn West.
Kelly McCabe as Nica Stamatis.
James Johnston as Dimitri Stamatis.
And James Capobianco as Paul Montgomery Chelmsworth.

Also featuring Julian Danner as Ada West, Julia Schifini as the Red Line officer, Sarah Golding as the TV News Anchor and Eli Barraza as the TV news interviewer.

Interviews recorded with Greater Boston residents.

Charlie on the MTA is performed by Emily Peterson and Dirk Tiede. Train Jam, Farwell to Nigg and Childgrove performed by Adrienne Howard, Emily Peterson and Dirk Tiede. Tam Lin Set by Dirk Tiede. Dream music by Jeff Van Dreason. Drums by Jim Johanson. Isolated by Kevin McLeod. Golden Riddles, Echoes and Points (Act II) by Lloyd Rodgers. Some sound effects and music used from public domain and creative commons sources.

Special recording thanks this season to Andy Goddard and Mischa Stanton. Huge thank you to all our season two guest stars. You can catch Beth Eyre in Wooden Overcoats, Hector Versus the Future and the Beef and Dairy Network. Julia Schifini is the co-host of the brilliantly funny and spookily-informative Spirits podcast. Sarah Golding is the co-host of the Audio Drama Production Podcast and appears in several wonderful audio dramas. And Eli Barraza is the creator, writer and main voice actor of the fantastic new audio drama, The Far Meridian. Please do check those out.

Episode transcripts will be posted online at GreaterBostonShow.com.

This season is dedicated to our Gal Friday, Melissa Panio-Petersen. Thank you for everything you do for us.

COOKIE

Julian Danner
Also I drew a Koopa Turtle on the back of this paper. I hope you like it! Also I got third place in my krunking competition. You should’ve seen me, I was magnificient. Love, Ada. Those pauses were me burping.

Alexander Danner
Yeah, I could tell, I could hear the burps. Okay, so as we’re going through, when you get to a period? That’s a good place to pause and take a breath. And not rush forward too quickly, okay?

Julian Danner
Okay. Also? Can I tell you something?

Alexander Danner
What’s that?

Julian Danner
I only burped when I got to a period. So they helped me pause.

Alexander Danner
That’s true.

CONTENT WARNINGS

 

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