Transcript for Episode 30: Prosperity in the Meritocracy

COLD OPEN

INTERVIEW

Why do I think I’m here? [Laughs] Well that’s a really existential question that I don’t think that I was exactly prepared for, but okay. Let’s see, uh. I am…a human person on this Earth. And I think…one of the reasons that I’m here is because I have such great friends.

[Charlie on the MTA begins.]

Like…like not just, like here to make friends, but…I’m…*still*…*here*…because I have such great friends who are always there for me.

PREVIOUSLY IN

MARCK HARMON

Previously, in Greater Boston…

CHARLOTTE LINZER COOLIDGE — Summer Unsinn

Thank you, Vincenzo, send her in.

VINCENZO — Chad Ellis

Charlotte?

GEMMA LINZER-COOLIDGE — Lydia Anderson

What happened to Melissa?

CHARLOTTE

She left to try and work for Isabell.

PROFESSOR PAUL MONTGOMERY CHELMSWORTH — James Capobianco

So I thought it was time I finally gave her the closure she deserved.

FAKE NICA — Kristen DiMercurio
I’m Nica Stamatis, and this is The Hunt for Dimitri.

DIMITRI STAMATIS — James Johnston

Thank you for the truck, Mononym Mallory.

MALLORY — Johanna Bodnyk

Catch ya later, Scent-Wipe. Unless I don’t.

MICHAEL TATE — JAMES OLIVA

Drop the ball! Ahhhhhhhhhhh No non no no AHHHHHHH!

 

S3 TITLE SEQUENCE

Multiple Voices

Fields Corner
Hyde Park

Want it in character voice or real voice?
East Boston
Alright
Malden
Red Line
Dorchester
Salem
Somerville
West Roxbury
Hanson
Worcester
Malden
This..

Somerville

Revere
…is
Uhh…I’ve lived in Lemonster my whole life
Brighton
Uhh…I live in Milton, Massachusetts
Roslindale
(That’s where I’m from)

East Boston
I’m from Dorchester
This is…

South Boston
This is…
In Brockton

Medford, Massachusetts

[Laughter]
Red Line

Dorchester

This is…

This is…

This is…

Greater Boston

 

THIS WEEK

 

JEFF VAN DREASON

This week in Greater Boston, Episode 30: Prosperity in the Meritocracy

 

BELIEVE ANYTHING

[North End market environment]

LEON

Dimitri was alone again. As he had been for the past two years, once again stranded in a strange place, a stark metal cage, as though he were back in his submarine. He was cold—he was reluctant to run the engine, with its limited fuel. And he worried about the consequences of locals realizing he was there, living inside the abandoned vehicle. And he was hungry. He had no job, and the funds he’d socked away before he’d left on his trip were mostly depleted. The cost of airfare, the cost of replacing his lost identification documents…it ate up most of what he’d had left. The show hadn’t even paid him yet, and now that he’d walked off set, he wasn’t sure that they ever would.

And he was lonely. Again.

DIMITRI

Dear Leon,

I have spent so much of the past two years in isolation or among strangers, with little opportunity for heartfelt communication. And now here I am, back home, and still isolated.

LEON

I’m here, Dimitri.

DIMITRI

I know it’s pointless to write this letter to you. You’ll never read it, just as you never had opportunity to read any of the letters I sent you from my journey.

LEON

I read all of them.

DIMITRI

But it’s habit. Writing to you is my best avenue for introspection. And so I…

[A knock on the side of the truck.]

LEON

Who?

MALLORY

Hey Scentwipe, open up!

LEON

Oh! Yes, I like this. This is good.

[Truck door opens.]

DIMITRI

Mallory, hey!

[Enters truck and closes door.]

MALLORY

You hungry? I got curry noodles.

LEON

Thank you Mallory.

DIMITRI

Thank you.

LEON

Thank you for taking care of him.

DIMITRI

You’d think there’d be something to eat in a food truck, but everything was past date. I hope it’s okay that I cleaned out the trash.

MALLORY

Yeah, dude, no one’s gonna complain that you threw away the moldy turd-fry sandwiches. Whatcha up to?

DIMITRI

I caught up on the new Star Trek. Thanks for loaning me your login. It’s really different. It took a little acclimating, but it’s really good.

MALLORY

Yeah, casting Michelle Yeoh as Andorian was kinda weird, but she’s really killing it.

DIMITRI

Mm, this is delicious.

MALLORY

Hey, pull up the 7 News Boston live-stream. My boy Chuck-O’s show is coming on.

LEON

There we go.

DIMITRI

Your boy?

[Click]

[TV SCENE PLAYS IN BACKGROUND]

MELISSA WEATHERBY — Tanja Milojevich

material evidence has fully exonerated him.

CHUCK OCTAGON — Jeff Van Dreason

But is it a good idea to tie your political campaign to the controversial Black Lives Matter movement?

MELISSA

We reject the notion that Black Lives Matter is or should be controversial. It is a necessary step in our country’s march toward racial justice, founded and overseen by three extraordinary women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. Isabelle has tremendous admiration for the work they do, as do I. Red Line is a city deeply concerned by social injustice, and the Powell campaign’s commitment to challenging racial and economic inequity resonates with many Red Lineans.

LEON

That’s it.

DIMITRI

Wait…your boy is Chuck Octagon? 7 News Boston’s Chuck Octagon?

MALLORY

Fuck, yeah! He started the GoFundMe for my hospital bills. He and I are tight.

DIMITRI

Alright.

MALLORY

You don’t believe me?

DIMITRI

No, I absolutely believe you! Trust me, there’s nothing so unlikely that I can’t believe it. The Red Line is a city. Molasses is terrorism. Everyone in Atlantis is dead. I can believe pretty much anything.

MALLORY

Atlantis?

DIMITRI

Just for an example.

MALLORY

Christ on the crapper, but I wish I could vote in this election.

DIMITRI

You don’t live in Red Line?

MALLORY

Nah, I just go to school there. But I don’t see tuition subsidies lasting long if that money-humping pure-blood toilet nugget gets elected.

DIMITRI

Bespin, right? She seems pretty awful.

MALLORY

That’s an understatement.

[TV SCENE CONTINUES]

CHUCK

Now, Nica. You dropped out of Suffolk University one semester shy of graduation, spent a number of years repairing sewing machines at Singer Sew & Vac while performing dramatic monologues at evening open mic events. Most recently you spent the better part of a year managing an Olive Garden food truck in the North End. And now you’re managing Emily Bespin’s mayoral campaign. How exactly did that happen?

NICA STAMATIS — Kelly McCabe

Good question, Chuck. First off, Mrs. Bespin prefers that I go by “Nicole” when acting in my professional capacity, so if you could use that name, I would appreciate.

CHUCK

Is that actually your name?

NICA

No, not at all. Next, I should be clear, I’m not actually Mrs. Bespin’s campaign manager, I’m her personal assistant, much as Melissa was for Mayor Linzer-Coolidge.

CHUCK

But this show is about campaign managers. We specifically asked for her campaign manager.

NICA

And that’s who I’m here to represent, Chuck. I’m authorized to speak for Mrs Bespin’s campaign manager. And I’ll do my best.

CHUCK

So who is Bespin’s campaign manager?

NICA

Mrs. Bespin manages her own campaign. She’s very particular about that. She’s not much of a delegator, at least not in the traditional sense.

CHUCK

What would you say to accusations that the Bespin campaign caters only to the wealthy and privileged, as suggested by both your mayoral election rival and the current acting mayor?

NICA

I would say that Emily Bespin believes in the meritocracy. She believes that those who work the hardest should reap the hardest. Prosperity is an achievement, not an entitlement, and Mrs Bespin believes that if Red Line is to thrive, then the city needs to court our most capable and ambitious citizens. As they prosper, so will Red Line.

CHUCK

And how does that connect with this morning’s announcement of plans to purchase a baseball team called—I feel certain this can’t be right—the Yard Goats?

 

MALLORY

What the fuck?

MALLORY/DIMITRI

Nica?!

DIMITRI

Wait, you know Nica?

MALLORY

Sure, I know her. She’s my stanky punk-ass former boss.

DIMITRI

Nica Stamatis.

MALLORY

That’s whose truck we’re in right now. This is *her* truck

DIMITRI

This truck.

MALLORY

Dude, yeah.

DIMITRI

This truck, that we are sitting in right now, that I ended up in through pure serendipitous happenstance, belongs to my sister, Nica Stamatis, who I’ve been searching for without luck ever since returning to Boston?

MALLORY

Uh…yeah, I guess. I mean, I didn’t know most of those details.

DIMITRI

I take it back. This is the line. This is where it gets too unlikely.

MALLORY

Meh. Weird shit happens. Anyway, now you know. What I don’t get is how stoned-as-fuck, shady-ass food truck failure, Nica Stamatis is now suddenly managing a mayoral campaign.

DIMITRI

Wait. Back up. Do you know where my sister is? Do you know how to find her?

MALLORY

Not any more. Not since the Ocdebacle.

DIMITRI

But if she’s part of this campaign, she must have an office. I can find her! I know how to find her! Okay. Yeah. No. I’ve gotta go.

MALLORY

Hold up there, captain impulse. I’m pretty sure things have gone pretty ear-fuck sideways with Nica since the last time you saw her. Okay? I think…I think you should be prepared for that.

LEON

Okay.

DIMITRI

What do you mean?

LEON

Now the hard part.

MALLORY

Oh…oh fuck.

DIMITRI

What?

MALLORY

Leon Stamatis.

DIMITRI

He’s…he was by brother.

MALLORY

Yeah. I just connected that. Fuck. Okay. So the first time I met Nica wasn’t here. It was a few months earlier. At my previous job.

DIMITRI

Okay…

MALLORY

And I met your brother too. Just the one time. At my job. Shit…how do I? Fuck it. Dimitri, I worked at Wonderland. I was there when you’re brother clocked out. I ran the roller coaster.

[Long silence]

DIMITRI

I…I can’t. You were there. You ran the Whirl-a-don.

MALLORY

It wasn’t my fault. Okay? They still fired me, but it wasn’t me. It wasn’t anything I did. Nica knew that, or she wouldn’t have hired me here. Okay? You get that?

DIMITRI

Yeah. Uh. I…fuck.

MALLORY

Okay, so, about Nica. She was with him. I mean, you know that, but I don’t know if you get it. She was sitting there, next to him when he died. Like, just right there. Yeah? Rode the whole thing with him like that. And that shit fucked her up. That’s what she’s been living with. Okay? That’s the short version. You want the long version, you can YouTube it. It’s up there. That’s how ChuckO and I met—he interviewed me about Leon’s death.

Okay, so then flash-the-fuck-forward, and Nica’s running this food truck. I go in for the interview not knowing what the shit, but she doesn’t twist my nips about it. She’s cool. But then I start working with her, and it’s…it’s not a good scene. Like, she barely does anything in the truck, she just sits up front getting fucked up all day, while I handle all the shitwiches. But there’s one exception, yeah? There’s this guy, calls himself—I shit you not—Dipshit. Dipshit Poletti. And the name fucking fits. But he’s not there for Olive Garden fucking barf bombs. No, he orders off the secret menu. Tuna Subs with extra celery. Fucking, celery! Like what the fuck with that? But whatever, anytime one of those orders comes in, that gets Nica up off her ass and to the window. He’s not really there for the sandwich. He’s there with a delivery. These mysterious manilla envelopes that he’s hand-delivering to Nica.

So, then the Ocdebacle happens. Right? And I’m there for that. That’s why I was in the hospital. I got taken down by fucking baked beans. But fuck that shit, right? That’s not stopping me. So but then I see on the news—who’s turned himself in for involvement in all the dumbshit Lottery prank attacks? Dipshit celery-barf Poletti. He’s in on the whole thing.

So then, I have to think…what was in those envelopes? And like…I don’t know. Maybe it was nothing. Maybe it was just their little secret santa porn exchange or something. But I have to think—Nica was probably involved.

DIMITRI

No way. She wouldn’t. She’s…she’s an a rtist!

LEON

That’s…not a good defense.

MALLORY

You weren’t here. You don’t know how she was. She was real fucked up.

DIMITRI

If you believe that, why haven’t you turned her in?

MALLORY

Yeah. I keep asking myself that. But…whatever she was up to, I really don’t think she meant it to go the way it did. I just keep thinking back to Wonderland. The look on her face, just sitting there alone in the car, after they took your brother away. You kick a puppy enough times, eventually it learns to bite every time it sees feet. And Nica…she’s a real kicked puppy, Dimitri.

DIMITRI

This doesn’t change anything. I still need to go to her. More than ever.

MALLORY

I know. But…go in knowing, okay? It’s gonna be harder than you think. But, like…screw your courage to the sticking place or some shit, okay? You’ll need it. So does she.

LEON

Yes.

DIMITRI

Okay, can I go now?

MALLORY

Where are you going?

DIMITRI

To search for her. To find her office. Now I know, it’s gotta be somewhere in Red Line.

MALLORY

And you’re just going to stumblefuck around Red Line hoping to fortuitously wander across it?

DIMITRI

Well…yeah. That’s worked so far.

MALLORY

You think so, huh? Look, how about I just call Chuck? He’ll know where it is.

DIMITRI

Oh. Right. Okay, yeah. Let’s do that.

 

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN?

[Impossible riddles theme]

FAKE NICA

Since the dawn of time, all of humanity has been drawn to the unexplained, the uncanny, the unsolvable. Stonehenge. The Bermuda triangle. The Loch Ness Monster. Bigfoot. The identity of Jack the Ripper. Why do these mysteries haunt us and taunt us so? Why do so many of us stay up late into the night, obsessively pouring over clues with nothing but blind hope that they will find the…INEXPLICABLE RIDDLES.

[Inexplicable Riddles theme music cuts in].

Two weeks ago, my brother Dimitri and I located the missing mayor of the Red Line, Professor Paul Montgomery Chelmsworth. Moments later, Dimitri vanished from the site.

I’m Nica Stamatis. And I’m searching for my brother.

[Street noise]

Excuse me sir, I am looking for Dimitri Stamatis, the man who found DB Cooper. Where in Greater Boston would you look for him?

VIRGIL–Charles Gaustine

Gosh. That’s a question, isn’t it? Where would a person hide in Greater Boston? I guess I’d probably go to Powderhouse Square. They got a thing up on the hill there—it’s an old powder house. I mean…that’s why it’s named that. You probably knew that. Sorry. Anyway, the powder house is still there, but it’s kept locked up. I guess if I had to hide out, I’d try to get into there. You’d have to bring a bucket, though. There’s…there’s no plumbing in there. I mean…gosh, you know what I mean. Sorry.

FAKE NICA

Excuse me, ma’am. I’m Nica Stamatis, and I’m looking for my brother. Have you seen this man?

YELENA–Tanja Milojevich

This man? Nyet. This man is a stranger to me.

FAKE NICA

Do you have any idea where he might be?

YELENA

This man is dangerous?

FAKE NICA

No, not at all.

YELENA

If this is dangerous man, I will know how to deal with him. I carry flashlight. Big heavy flashlight like security guard. If I see this man, I will dubunka his head. There will be brains all over the sidewalk. No more problem.

FAKE NICA

No! Please don’t dubunka him! He’s my television brother, not a criminal! I just want to find him!

YELENA

Oh. In that case, you should try hospitals. Someone goes missing, usually they are in a hospital.

FAKE NICA

Excuse me, sir. My name is Nica Stamatis, and I’m looking for my brother Dimitri. Have you seen this man?

CHUCK

You’re not Nica Stamatis.

FAKE NICA

Yes, I’m Nica Stamatis of Inexplicable Riddles. And I’m hoping you can…

CHUCK

No, you’re not. I’m Chuck Octagon. I just met Nica Stamatis this morning. I interviewed her for my show, Profiles with Chuck Octagon. Don’t you watch Profiles with Chuck Octagon?

FAKE NICA

I’m not from around here…

CHUCK

Clearly not. And also, clearly, you’re impersonating Nica Stamatis. Badly.

FAKE NICA

Not so much impersonating as portraying. On television.

CHUCK

Someone’s making a movie about Nica Stamatis? Already?

FAKE NICA

Not exactly. Hold up, you said you spoke to her this morning? But isn’t she like, completely off the grid? I know for a fact that Dimitri Stamatis was doing his damnedest to find her not two weeks ago, and came up empty.

CHUCK

If by “off the grid” you mean “doing the circuit of local media to promote the major electoral candidate whose campaign she works for,” then yeah, she’s “off the grid.” In that one, particularly inaccurate sense of the term.

FAKE NICA

Holy shit. Well, that’s a wrench in the works. Greene, cut the tape! We got some shit to figure out.

Mr…Octagon, is it?

CHUCK

I’m Chuck Octagon.

FAKE

Well, Chuck Octagon, can we go somewhere and talk? I think maybe there’s a wilder story here than either of us has been investigating so far. And maybe we should pool our resources. Just give me half an hour. I’ll buy the coffee.

CHUCK

Free coffee?

FAKE NICA

As much as you like.

CHUCK

I’m in.

 

STIR CRAZY

[Violent military video game music & sfx]

[Leaky kitchen faucet drips into the sink]

LEON

Phillip West was bored. He was bored of all his video games, bored of his three different video game systems, bored of mastering the various video game online multiplayers, bored of …owning all the noobs with his customizable, exclusive rocket launcher Big Betsey.

[Video game explosion and other sounds. Louder faucet drip]

PHIL

You stupid camping little noob, trying to kill me with C4 like a butt-hurt coward. Eat it.

LEON

He was bored of Netflix binging, Amazon ordering, Spotify streaming. He was bored of pizza.

[Game is turned off. Faucet drips.]

LEON

Pizza! How can one grow bored of pizza? His boredom even pushed him to try different ingredients, toppings he’d normally stay away from. It turned out he actually liked anchovies, but Hawaiian pizza did nothing for him. It wasn’t the abomination many people made it out to be, but the flavor combination didn’t impress him as much as he felt it should for such a supposedly controversial coupling.

[Faucet drip louder, Space Music fades in.]

The damned leaky faucet. It was faint and loud at the same time, like how the train that ran down the road from his apartment was barely audible when it went down the tracks, but shook the foundation of his building all the same. He turned up the volume on the episode of Star Trek he was watching, his current binge fest. He’d torn through the new Discovery series shortly after his isolation and enjoyed it so much he’d decided to do a complete re-watch. There was a convention coming up he wished he could go to. He wished he could bring a date. He wished he could…

[Music turned off]

PHIL

UGH that stupid faucet.

LEON

Phillip West was bored of being stuck inside. And he was tired of hearing that damn leaky faucet. So now he was reading about how to fix it.

[Flipping through a book.]

LEON

He was reading do-it-yourself internet articles and self-help books he’d ordered. He’d purchased wrenches online too, delivered with same day shipping because the thought of waiting filled him with rage. Soon he would fix that faucet. And then things would be better.

So he tried to fix it. He tried and tried and tried.

[Sounds of wrenches and other mechanical plumbing attempts. Leak gets worse.]

To no avail. The sink was his life. The little beads of water were desperate to escape, slipping into the pipes with the hope of getting carried away in a great gush to some surging sewer coursing towards some other place that wasn’t cold and dark and narrow and still.

But the beads would only collect and pool into a still little pond at the bottom of the garbage disposal.

PHIL

Oh, fuck this stupid, grandiose metaphor. [Leak worsens]. I need a new game. Something to distract myself with. Something new. Like…something that feels dangerous.

LEON

Phil never thought he’d miss running jobs for his uncle in the tunnels so much. He looked for horror survival games with realistic graphics. Acid Bath Baptism II: Soul Smacked, God of Death V: Godageddon. Age of Murder Baby IV: The Rebirth. He looked for the latest immersive HD surround sound system. He didn’t want to just play Murder Baby IV, he wanted to live Murder Baby IV. He stood there, reading reviews and clicking links. Until he noticed his feet were wet.

[Rushing water]

PHIL

Shit!

LEON

The sink was overflowing like a waterfall onto the floor and Phil’s first impulse was to leap for the faucet. But he stopped himself mid-launch.

PHIL

The apartment’s flooded. I can’t stay here if it’s flooded. I’ll have to get someone to come and work on it. I’ll need to get the floor redone. I’ll need to get the pipes replaced. I’ll need to get that fucking sink ripped the fuck out. (Hits it with his wrench) That’s the only answer.

LEON

The only remaining question was where to go.

PHIL

I’ll keep moving. I’ll bounce around. Hotels, motels, hostels.

LEON

But he knew that wouldn’t be enough. No matter where he went, there would be the brief thrill of transport, followed immediately by the same sense of isolation. He needed a purpose. He needed something more than just—

PHIL

A game. Something new. That feels dangerous…

LEON

Should he be worried about the authorities? For all he knew, they weren’t even on to him yet. Which meant for all he knew, he was holed up in his dumb little hiding spot for no good reason.

PHIL

So I’ll leave them clues. I’ll drop little hints and have them running in circles.

LEON

But who? Who would he leave clues–?

PHIL (gasps)

I CAN LEAVE CLUES FOR LOUISA!

LEON (sighs)

Phil, you prick.

PHIL

I really missing hanging out with her. So this could be my way to tell her that. And maybe she misses me too.

LEON

She doesn’t.

PHIL

Maybe …maybe if she’s good enough with my clues, she could eventually catch me. Maybe if she likes my little game, she’ll eventually forgive some of the stuff I did. And then maybe we could continue to hang out!

LEON

This just might be the saddest thing I have ever heard.

PHIL

Now the only question is, what’s my first move? And how do I let her know? That’s it! Perfect!

LEON

And such as it was, Phil thought up all the rules of his new, dangerous game.

(Pause)

You sad little ignoramus.

 

CAMPAIGN MANAGERS

[Scene plays on television]

[Profiles with Chuck Octagon Theme]

CHUCK OCTAGON

Good evening, and welcome to Profiles with Chuck Octagon. I’m Chuck Octagon. Tonight! We profile two Red Line power brokers, Melissa Weatherby and Nica Stamatis, the campaign managers behind the remaining mayoral candidates.

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.

Profiling. Noun. The recording and analysis of a person’s physiological 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.

Melissa, we’ll begin with you. You have a degree in Sociology from Smith College, spent several years after school in high level admin work at various non-profits, and until very recently you were personal assistant to acting Mayor Charlotte Linzer-Coolidge. You have since taken over management of Isabelle Powell’s campaign. What motivated this transition?

MELISSA

Well, Chuck…

 

LEAVE THE TRAIN

[Train environment]

LEON

Charlotte was counting down the days. She knew election day wouldn’t be the end of it. She’d still have that lame duck period to get through, the weeks between selecting the new mayor and seating her. But the pressure would be off. She could focus on the transition instead of on governing. In the meantime, she was still stuck getting her new assistant up to speed.

[Rifling through files]

CHARLOTTE LINZER COOLIDGE–Summer Unsinn

Where is…gah, I can’t find anything anymore.

[Intercom] Vincenzo, could you come in here a moment?

VINCENZO — Chad Ellis [Intercom]

Right away, Ms. Mayor.

[TV continues in background]

MELISSA

…I’m personally committed to the city of Red Line. That commitment first brought me to the current administration, where I was honored to be a part of the early planning for our extraordinary city. I learned a lot in that position, seeing how government works from the inside. When I felt I was ready to step up to a bigger role, I knew it was time to think about who the best person to usher in the future of Red Line would be. And that person is clearly Isabelle Powell.

CHUCK

Powell’s is an unusual campaign, marred by her nephew’s arrest, and characterized by a remarkable degree of social agitation and civil protest. How do you feel that impacts your chances of winning?

MELISSA

Well, Chuck, I think it’s irresponsible to mention Isaiah’s arrest without stressing the most salient fact about it: it was entirely unjustified. Isaiah Powell was the target of a deliberate misdirection orchestrated by the true perpetrators of the crime, most likely with the primary intent of undermining Isabelle’s campaign. But Isaiah’s good name won out, and material evidence has fully exonerated him.

CHUCK

But is it a good idea to tie your political campaign to the controversial Black Lives Matter movement?

[Door]

VINCENZO

Yes, Ms. Mayor?

LEON

She wasn’t sure he was going to work out.

CHARLOTTE

I can’t find the construction cost estimates for the Braintree Ballpark. Powell and Bespin have both requested copies. Where’d you put that.

VINCENZO

Oh, that’s filed under P.

[Rifles through file cabinet, finds the documents.]

VINCENZO

Here you go.

CHARLOTTE

Under “P?”

VINCENZO

For “pipe dreams.”

CHARLOTTE

That’s not an intuitive system.

VINCENZO

Aw, sorry, MS. Mayor. I’ll try to come up with something better.

CHARLOTTE

Just file it under “Braintree Stadium.” There’s already a folder.

VINCENZO

Oh. Sure! I guess that could work!

LEON

But was it really worth replacing him? There were only a matter of weeks to go. And it’s not like she was going to find another Melissa. Another over-competent organizer happy to do the work of three people for low pay and a guarantee of near-term unemployment.

MELISSA (on TV)

We reject the notion that Black Lives Matter is or should be controversial. It is a necessary step in our country’s march toward racial justice, founded and overseen by three extraordinary women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi.

CHARLOTTE

God, she’s doing really good.

LEON

No, Vincenzo would have to do for now.

[TV CONTINUES]

Isabelle has tremendous admiration for the work they do, as do I. Red Line is a city deeply concerned by social injustice, and the Powell campaign’s commitment to challenging racial and economic inequity resonates with many Red Lineans.

CHUCK

Now, Nica. You dropped out of Suffolk University one semester shy of graduation, spent a number of years repairing sewing machines at Singer Sew & Vac while performing dramatic monologues at evening open mic events. Most recently you spent the better part of a year managing an Olive Garden food truck in the North End. And now you’re managing Emily Bespin’s mayoral campaign. How exactly did that happen?

NICA

Good question, Chuck. First off, Mrs. Bespin prefers that I go by “Nicole” when acting in my professional capacity, so if you could use that name, I would appreciate.

CHUCK

Is that actually your name?

NICA

No, not at all. Next, I should be clear, I’m not actually Mrs. Bespin’s campaign manager, I’m her personal assistant, much as Melissa was for Mayor Linzer-Coolidge.

CHUCK

But this show is about campaign managers. We specifically asked for her campaign manager.

NICA

And that’s who I’m here to represent, Chuck. I’m authorized to speak for Mrs Bespin’s campaign manager. And I’ll do my best.

CHUCK

So who is Bespin’s campaign manager?

NICA

Mrs. Bespin manages her own campaign. She’s very particular about that. She’s not much of a delegator, at least not in the traditional sense.

CHUCK

What would you say to accusations that the Bespin campaign caters only to the wealthy and privileged, as suggested by both your mayoral election rival and the current acting mayor?

NICA

I would say that Emily Bespin believes in the meritocracy. She believes that those who work the hardest should reap the hardest. Prosperity is an achievement, not an entitlement, and Mrs Bespin believes that if Red Line is to thrive, then the city needs to court our most capable and ambitious citizens. As they prosper, so will Red Line.

CHUCK

And how does that connect with this morning’s announcement of plans to purchase a baseball team called—I feel certain this can’t be right—the Yard Goats?

[Intercom buzzer]

CHARLOTTE

Yes, Vincenzo?

[Silence]

CHARLOTTE

Vincenzo, if you’re talking, I can’t hear you. You have to keep pressing the button.

[The intercom buzzes repeatedly.]

CHARLOTTE

No, that’s the buzzer button. You have to hold the intercom button.

VINCENZO

[Intercom, cutting in and out as though Vincenzo is repeatedly pressing the button.]

There’s someone here to see you. He says it’s a social call, not official business.

CHARLOTTE

[To self] For god’s sake, he did this correctly not two minutes ago, what the fuck happened? [To Vincenzo] No, Vincenzo, just press the button once, and hold it down until you’re done talking. No, you know what, never mind, I’m coming out.

[Doors]

CHARLOTTE

Vincenzo, do we seriously need to go over this a fourth…

 

PROFESSOR PAUL MONTGOMERY CHELMSWORTH — James Capobianco

Charlotte! Salutations! I’ve been so looking forward to seeing you again!

CHARLOTTE

Wha…what? You? You’re here?

CHELMSWORTH

I cannot express how profoundly pleased I have been to see how magnificently you’ve matured into mayorship. Throughout my time in exile, I have kept close watch over the growth of our subterranean suburb, but always with complete confidence in your conscientious caretaking. Congratulations!

CHARLOTTE

Why are you here? Why now?

CHELMSWORTH

Well, you see, I’ve given an interview recently, and I felt it would be inappropriate to allow you to see me on television prior to my making a personal appearance in your offices. I wouldn’t want you to think I had neglected the friendship we forged upon returning to the city.

CHARLOTTE

You’ve been back long enough to find time to give an interview, and this is the first I’m hearing of it?

CHELMSWORTH

I didn’t find time for an interview, so much as the time found me.

CHARLOTTE

What do you want, Chelmsworth?

CHELMSWORTH

Why, only to congratulate you, of course! While I am certainly saddened to see you step aside from your seat of power, I do understand the compulsion to recognize one’s accomplishments and move on.

CHARLOTTE

Move on? MOVE ON?!

CHELMSWORTH

And I still owe you a congratulations on the birth of your son! I was certainly rather chuffed when I heard you’d named him Montgomery.

CHARLOTTE

Don’t talk about my son.

CHELMSWORTH

I brought a gift for him. It’s a wooden train. I didn’t get the one with the face on it. I find those rather disquieting.

CHARLOTTE

*Now* you’re congratulating me? *Now* you brought him a gift? It’s been a year and a half!

CHELMSWORTH

Is that too old for a wooden train? I confess, I’m not very familiar with how particular toys match up to the particular ages of children. It’s all quite esoteric to me.

CHARLOTTE

That’s not the point! The point is, I don’t want your damn wooden train. The point is, I don’t want your congratulations. You shouldn’t be congratulating me on my mayorship. I shouldn’t *have* a mayorship. You should have been here doing your job for the city you created. You vanished! No explanation, no plan, you just left it all to me without any warning. And I wasn’t even on my feet! I was *in the hospital*. I should have had all the time in the world to spend with my baby, but instead I had to give it all, all that time, all that attention, all that thought, to this city. The city you were supposed to be running!

And now you just walk back in here with toys and and congratulations, like I’m supposed to be happy to see you? Why the hell would I be happy to see you?

CHELMSWORTH

Because…you’re my friend. I’ve been looking forward to seeing you. We have so much to catch up on.

CHARLOTTE

Friends.

CHELMSWORTH

Aren’t we friends?

CHARLOTTE

Vincenzo, get the door please. The professor is leaving.

CHELMSWORTH

But…

CHARLOTTE

Chelmsworth. Get. The Fuck. Off. My. Red Line.

[Door]

CHELMSWORTH

Ah…

[Deflated sigh. ]

CHELMSWORTH

Ah…

[Deflated sigh. ]

VINCENZO

Mr. Chelmsworth?

CHELMSWORTH

Professor.

VINCENZO

Professor. Yeah.

CHELMSWORTH

I’ll just leave the train. Here, uh, why don’t you take it?

VINCENZO

For me?

CHELMSWORTH

For the baby.

VINCENZO

Right. Uh, bye.

[Exits. Doors close.]

CHARLOTTE [Intercom]

Is he gone?

VINCENZO

He left.

[Door]

CHARLOTTE

Could you throw that away please? Not in here, somewhere I don’t have to see it again.

VINCENZO

Could I keep it instead?

CHARLOTTE

I literally would have no way of knowing the difference if you didn’t ask me.

VINCENZO

Oh. That’s true, I guess. Can I though?

CHARLOTTE

Yes, you can keep the stupid toy train that stupid Chelmsworth abandoned in my stupid office. Knock yourself out. Have fun.

 

I, MICHAEL

[Quiet room]

LEON

Michael is unconscious. He has not woken up since he launched the crystal ball out the pneumatic tube. He’s okay. I think. He’s breathing. I have not absorbed him. I have not turned him into me. I hope.

There is so much that Michael never considers. Memories he doesn’t bother to revisit. All the times I helped him, all the times he was adrift and looked to me as his lighthouse—those moments are always in the forefront of his mind. His moments of dependency. His moments of need. He sees himself in those moments.

Here is a moment he rarely thinks of: we are twenty-seven years old, and driving a rental car to a college friend’s wedding. We are in the bridal party. We need to be on time. And our tire has gone flat. There is a spare in the trunk, but there is no tire iron. There is no jack. And neither of us has ever changed a tire. [panicking] I have no idea what to do. No plan to fix this situation. A flat tire was not a possibility I had accounted for. It never factored into my planning. And now I am hyperventilating. Michael hands me a paper lunch bag—he keeps these on hand. For me.

And then he gets out of the car and begins walking up the street. Knocking on doors, one after the other. Not a moment’s hesitation. Events have gone awry, and he is already in motion. “Hello, my car’s got a flat, and I don’t have any tools. Can you help me?” At the third door he knocks on, a woman loans him a jack. At the fifth, a man loans him a tire iron. He jogs back to the car with tools in hand, and proceeds to teach himself their use. There are clues. Bits of instruction impressed into the metal. Knobs and sockets whose relationship he susses through simple shape sorting. No prior knowledge. No advance preparation. He lifts the car. He removes the tire. He installs the spare. After he returns the tools to their owners, he tells me to shove over, to shift to the passenger seat.

He drives the streets of Boston—circuitous detours and hidden alleys and one-way streets, a winding irrational path that bypasses the traffic of Mass Ave, that is slowed by not a single traffic light. He has brought us miles out of our way, only to land us at the church ten minutes sooner than my own well-plotted ideal scenario had anticipated at the beginning of the day.

And it was nothing to him. Everything fell to chaos, and he guided our way through it like chaos is simply the water he swims, like…like Flipper rushing to the aid of a floundering diver.

MICHAEL

[Groans]

LEON [Slight static]

There was the time the registrar misfiled my paperwork, trapping me in a bureaucratic labyrinth.

There was the time I sprained my ankle halfway down the slope we were skiing.

Or…or when he came to Wonderland to find Nica, and brought her home, and made her tea.

MICHAEL

Ohhh…

LEON [Increasing static]

These were the times I couldn’t handle. These are the times I want Michael to remember.

MICHAEL

Wow, my head.

LEON [Static building to indecipherability.]

After sending the ball through the tube, Michael’s head pounded.

MICHAEL

I’ve been doing this all wrong.

LEON [fading into static]

Michael — Michael — Michael —

MICHAEL

He showed me…

LEON [Static]

MICHAEL!

MICHAEL

…myself.

[Static cuts. Totally clear. Michael’s theme plays.].

MICHAEL [Confident narration]

The day after I forced the ball through the tube, my head pounded, I sweat like crazy, my heart raced and I ached all over. It was — it was like a hangover. I hadn’t felt that since Leon died and that’s probably not a coincidence.

My first instinct was to run right through the wall. Just force myself to sprint into it over and over again until I crashed through like a cartoon, like the Kool-Aid guy. Who cares if I break bones from the fall? I’d limp to that ball, and recover it, savor it.

And that forced me to realize something really weird about myself. About — about my addictive personality.

I cut out alcohol and that was great. But I had grown dependent on someone. I had grown dependent on Leon. There were so many times I thought I was making choices and acting in my own self interest that really were just…him. Guiding me. Helping me. From that ball. Or wherever he was.

And suddenly, that reframed this entire isolation I found myself in. It helped me realize why I was trapped up there. I was up there for a reason, for a purpose. I’d never be able to shake off my connection to Leon. I wouldn’t want that even if it were an option, even if I could perform some kind of …psychic surgery and remove him from my brain, my memories, my heart.

But I needed to grow into being my own…self. I had to stop clinging to Leon as if he were some kind of possession. You know, like a crystal ball? And I needed to be…me. Michael.

And the funny thing is? I wasn’t entirely sure how to do that. But this isolation? It was here to show me the way. I’m not a biblical person, but it was my time to fast. Time for my 30 days in the desert.

I was on my own.

[Music ends.]

Finally.

 

CREDITS

[Electronic music]

JEFF VAN DREASON

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 or on Tumblr at GreaterBlogston.tumblr.com. Follow us there for news, updates, and behind the scenes chat about the show!

This episode featured:

Braden Lamb as Leon Stamatis

James Johnston as Dimitri Stamatis

Johanna Bodnyk as Mallory

Jeff Van Dreason as Chuck Octagon

Tanja Milojevich as Melissa Weatherby and Yelena

Kelly McCabe as Nica Stamatis

Kristen DiMercurio as Fake Nica

Michael Melia as Philip West

Summer Unsinn as Charlotte Linzer-Coolidge

Chad Ellis as Vincenzo

James Capobianco as Professor Paul Montgomery Chelmsworth

and James Oliva as Michael Tate

With special appearance by

Charles Gaustine of the wonderful Iconography podcast, which is spending its second season digging into the deep history behind the best-known figures and landmarks of Boston and New England.

Charlie on the MTA performed by Emily Peterson and Dirk Tiede

Special thanks to our Patreon Patrons Bridge Keene and Rasmus for their support. If you’re interested in supporting Greater Boston and becoming a patron, please visit Patreon.com/GreaterBoston

Transcripts available at GreaterBostonShow.com

 

COOKIE

JEFF VAN DREASON (as Chuck Octagon)

Free coffee?

ALEXANDER DANNER

As much as you’d like.

JEFF

I’m in!

[Both crack up.]

Chuck’s such a cheapskate! I love that in this one aspect that Chuck and I are very much alike. FREE COFFEE! I’ll talk to you about Nica Stamatis all day!

 

Content Notes

  • Strong Language
  • Threats of hypothetical head injury
  • Violent video games/gunfire
  • Stalkerish behavior
  • Abandonment themes
  • Reference to alcoholism/dependency

 

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