JEFF VAN DREASON
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[Drums and Guinea Pigs]
This week in Greater Boston: Seriously, What’s the Fucking Deal with the Guinea Pigs? Part 2
Now, where was I?
You were describing how you’re an exemplary father to the son you never see and the nephew you’ve entangled in a web of crime.
Ah, yes, I was explaining how my father’s ineptitude destroyed our family. Norbert was always more forgiving than I. He insisted that our father couldn’t help who he was. How gullible and impulsive. It might not have been so damaging if he had only stuck to exploitive sales outfits. At least that was actual work, for which he could occasionally earn a real paycheck.
But our father was something of a schemer, you see. In the sense that he routinely pursued hare-brained get-rich-quick schemes. Every investment pyramid scheme, or sure bet gambling tip, or hot dotcom penny stock captured his interest. He bought stock in Etoys, Pets.com, PhilosopherHotline.com, all those brief beacons of the early internet.
He failed to see the coming bust. Even as their value fell, he remained steadfast, certain they would weather the storm, rebound, come back bigger than ever. And speaking of weather, there was his investment in Enron and its “weather trading” platform, whatever the blazes that was supposed to mean.
And then came the final act. His “hail Mary,” as it were.
That breeding equipment in your old hideout…
He decided to invest in a perennial commodity, something that has no boom and bust, but steady incremental growth: livestock. He found an opportunity to purchase two dozen breeding-age pigs. He boasted of the suspiciously low price he negotiated, a number that exactly matched the last of his liquid assets. His boasting ended when the creatures arrived at our home: the pigs were, in fact, guinea pigs. I can’t even claim that my father was swindled. The paperwork clearly named the animals as “guinea pigs.”
How was I supposed to know that guinea pigs aren’t actually pigs?
What? Where’d he come from? Oh, I see—a flashback.
You should have asked!
Well, I know that *now.*
What would you have even done with two dozen actual pigs?
There’s the spare bedroom.
Do you even know how big pigs are? They wouldn’t have fit in the spare bedroom. They wouldn’t have fit in the *house.*
Well, then it’s a lucky thing we got these little guys, isn’t it? Trust me, this is going to work out. Look how cute these things are–we’ll sell a million of ‘em! We’ll get you and your brother set up right, like you deserve, like I’ve always wanted. You won’t have to worry anymore. None of us will. We’ll all be taken care of.
[Guinea Pig squealing multiplies over the course of Oliver’s next speech.
As promised, the guinea pigs were all of breeding age, and quite fruitfully so. Two dozen became ten dozen in a matter of weeks, and multiplied exponentially from there. We three found ourselves living amidst an undulating carpet through which we carefully shuffled.
And oh, the noise that pervaded every waking moment of our lives. Guinea pigs are not loud creatures. Individually. En masse, however, they produce a constant squeal, a perpetual background refrain of disconsolate rodents. The unremitting refrain of my father’s failure.
Oh. That’s it. That’s the sound. The one I always hear in your head.
Father tried to make the best of it, pitching his stock to every pet store in a hundred mile radius. He placed ads, “guinea pigs for sale” in every local newspaper. He sold some. A few dozen. Not enough to recoup the cost of feeding the little beasts, who ate through hundreds of pounds of food pellets each week, before moving on to the furniture, the walls, anything they could reach.
Norbert and I moved out. We had nowhere to go, but we spent considerable time in libraries, museums, galleries, anyplace that wouldn’t question two relatively quiet and studious boys who kept to themselves. They need not know we were voluntarily homeless. Two months passed before we conceded that we ought to inquire into our father’s welfare.
He wasn’t at the house. We found an envelope nailed to the door with our names on it.
Dear Clive and Lewis…
[Guinea Pigs fade out. Slow drums.]
Our names were not yet Oliver and Norbert at the time…
I gathered that.
I am so very sorry for what our lives have become. I always hoped I would be a good provider for you both. I tried my best, but no matter how I try to make your lives better, I only leave you worse off. All I can ever do is fail you. I know the best thing I can do to take care of you is to save you from taking care of me. So I’m just going to go. The house is yours. Do what you want with it. I won’t be back.
[Regular drums return.]
He kept his word on that.
Inside the house, we found the guinea pigs still there. But father had been gone for weeks, and no one remained to care for them, to feed them. I won’t describe the scene—I am not that sort of storyteller.
Oh…oh god. Please stop thinking about that, I can see your thoughts!
I will say only that it was unpleasant, and allow that to suffice.
We saw no point in trying to salvage the house. Instead, Norbert found a floor lamp whose cord had been chewed down to exposed wiring by the guinea pigs. He turned it on, and we walked away to await the cleansing fire. Later, we forged our father’s signature on the insurance forms and collected the payout; thus began our criminal exploits.
JEFF VAN DREASON
We hope you’re enjoying Greater Boston as much as we enjoy making it. With the new Year coming, we hope you will consider helping us to keep making Greater Boston, by contributing to our Patreon, if you’re able. These funds help us to pay our amazing actors and musicians, to upgrade our equipment, and to keep the show sustainable. Even as little as $1 a month is a tremendous help. And in exchange, you can get great rewards, like early access to every episode, Discord voice chats with the creators, and even a monthly tour of one of the stops in Red Line. And if you can’t donate, you can still help us out, but telling a friend about Greater Boston!
Greater Boston is written and produced by Alexander Danner and Jeff Van Dreason, with recording and technical assistance from Marck Harmon.
This episode featured:
- Mike Linden as Oliver West (he/him)
- Braden Lamb as Leon Stamatis (he/him)
- And guest starring Brad C. Wilcox as Mr. West (he/him)
Drums by Jim Johanson.
You can hear more of Brad’s wonderful voice work on What’s the Frequency?, the surreal noir audio drama written by our own James Oliva and designed by Alexander.
MIKE LINDEN [As Oliver West]
…in the sense that he routinely pursued harebrained…hem hyem hyeam. Hyeahehehyeaheheheheheha. But you must understand, that at this moment…I have stoped reading the words on the page. And made up my own.
- Strong Language
- Child neglect
- Adolescent homelessness
- Animal death