Transcript for Halloween Special: Three Strategies for Silence

[Charlie on the MTA plays]

VOICES

This is…

This is…

This is…

Greater Boston

[White noise: a Ford engine idling]

LEON

An hour before sunrise, Marlo breathes gently, asleep in his bed. He has slept well every night since his release from Shawmut, the sleep of a man who has faced crisis and prevailed. All charges were dropped, in assured recognition of his innocence and ignorance of any wrongdoing. He even wears a hint of a smile, as he dreams of pleasant conversation, an old favorite fantasy of Marlo’s: calling into the old radio show Car Talk, sharing his thoughts about power windows live on air, while Click and Clack listen, enraptured by his insights.

[Note: Marlo’s monologue runs indecipherably in the background throughout the scene.]

Marlo is unaware that back in the waking world, he has a visitor in his home. A visitor who sits by Marlo’s bed, watching him sleep.

NARRATOR

The visitor does not breathe so easily as Marlo. He is stricken by a tension of uncertainty, and will not feel peace until that tension is released. He felt this tension as he drove to Marlo’s neighborhood and parked around the corner. He felt this tension as he entered the house through a rear entrance, after picking the lock. He felt this tension as he crept through the house to Marlo’s bedroom, the sound of his footsteps thoroughly masked by Marlo’s white noise machine–even in his sleep, it seems Marlo cannot abide quiet.

And now the visitor sits, still ruminating on this tension. He is making a decision; whether Marlo will awaken to another day, or whether this night’s peaceful repose will be everlasting.

LEON
This has gotten darker than expected.

GUY

There are too many loose ends. Michael Tate has been released, but he does not know me, or of my involvement. Oliver West knows of my involvement, but he is in hiding. Philip West knows of my involvement, but he is protected.

NARRATOR

Philip is the mayor’s lackey now. A risky place to leave a man like Philip, but Guy suspected that the mayor too was complicit in the conspiracy Oliver had orchestrated. Guy was not privy to many details, but knew his business. He could put the pieces together. And so, for now, Guy could count on the mayor’s own culpability to prevent Philip from exposing Guy.

But then there was Marlo. Marlo, who had ferried Guy from point to point, from crime scene to crime scene, from Oliver to Phil to Michael. Marlo, who knew more of Guy’s movements than anyone else. Marlo, whose curiosity could not be squelched.

GUY

Marlo is a man who asks too many questions. Questions that should not be asked. Worse, Marlo is a man who may answer questions. Dangerous questions. Marlo has seen my face. Marlo has seen my work. Marlo knows that I am Guy.

LEON

People had already begun to ask Marlo questions. People who want to find their way to Guy.

NARRATOR

Guy knows this. That is why Guy is here. To ensure that Marlo does not answer such questions. 

GUY

But Marlo likes to talk. It is his nature. He is not a man who keeps secrets or values privacy. He is a man whose thoughts become words from his mouth. A man like this will not willingly choose silence. A man like this must have silence induced by other means.

I have three methods by which I may ensure a man’s silence. 

LEON
I hope one of them is just asking very nicely.

NARRATOR
No, asking nicely is not in Guy’s repertoire of strategies.

GUY

My first method is money. Bribery. This method is very effective for silencing men who are greedy or who are desperate.

I do not think that Marlo can be silenced with money. Marlo is not motivated by greed or by desperation, or even by pragmatism. Marlo does not follow rules when rules have been given to him in exchange for money. I will rule out the strategy of money.

My second method is intimidation. This method is very effective for silencing men who are cowardly or who are vain. Men who value their own existence above all else.

I do not think that Marlo can be intimidated into silence. Marlo is too naive for cowardice or vanity. Marlo does not comprehend when he is being intimidated. Most men do not ask questions once I have made clear that I do not wish to be questioned. But Marlo is oblivious to my threat. I will rule out the strategy of intimidation.

My third method is murder.

LEON
That is definitely the worst option.

NARRATOR

It is the most certain option.

GUY

Murder is a reliable method. Murder always works. Any man may be silenced by murder.

Even Marlo.

I believe that murder is my best option in this circumstance.

NARRATOR
Murder is an option that appeals to Guy. It would be easy. Marlo sleeps heavily upon a bed beset by pillows.

LEON

Why does Marlo have so many pillows? It’s at least two dozen. That is an unreasonable number of pillows.

NARRATOR

And any one of those pillows can easily become a weapon. An instrument of silence. He takes one into his hands now, without even standing from his chair. He chooses one from the foot of the bed, a thick down-filled pillow in a blue pillowcase, decorated all over with the Ford logo. 

He stands and approaches Marlo, whose lips are moving, expounding upon some unknown subject even now, within his dream.

LEON

Power windows. I said that earlier.

NARRATOR

Marlo speaks. A lot. At great length. About nothing. He is a man categorically in need of silencing.

GUY

To murder you is no challenge. You are small and you are helpless. I can simply lean forward and press this pillow against your face. That would be the end of you.

I have murdered such men as you before. Men who ran their mouths without pause. Men who endangered my life and livelihood. I have strangled them. I have wrung silence from them with my hands. Those murders have always been…a relief.

I should find the same relief in your death. I should be glad to end your questions by choking them at their source. I should not hesitate. I should be eager for your death, as I have been eager for such death in the past.

LEON

However…

GUY

This time, I find that I am reluctant. Marlo. I do not wish to murder you.

NARRATOR

This was unexpected. Confusing. And above all…inconvenient.

LEON

And so Guy did the one thing that Guy was always most reluctant to do. Guy…asked a question.

GUY

Why? Why is it that I do not wish to murder Marlo?

I had an unusual experience not very long ago. An experience that has changed my life for the better. An experience that has left me, after all this time, in possession of…a truck.

I acquired this truck from a ghost. But that is not important. What is important is the bond that forms between a man and his truck. A bond of familiarity, and common cause, and shared labor. It is a bond that I have long envied in other men and their trucks. And yet, it is a bond far more powerful than I even imagined. It is a bond upon which a new life may be built. It is…inviolate.

LEON
What?

GUY

And so, I must consider the bond that exists between Marlo and Marlo’s truck. Bertha. I was wrong to say that truck must not have name. Truck has name. Truck’s name is Bertha. Bertha is a good truck. 

NARRATOR

And so Guy is forced to confront an undeniable truth–that to harm a man is to harm all who love that man. [Confused by the words he’s saying.] As Bertha surely loves Marlo. What?!

LEON
You know what? This is weird, but it’s headed in a good direction, so I’m just going to let it go. 

GUY
I cannot cause harm to Bertha. To harm Marlo is to hurt Bertha. Ergo, I cannot murder Marlo.

NARRATOR
[Disappointed] Guy tried his best to set aside his…disappointment.

LEON

To think of what really mattered.

GUY

Gertrude.

NARRATOR
Gertrude is…the name of his truck?

LEON
I think that was clear from context.

GUY

Gertrude is a good truck. We are alike. Gertrude has killed a man, as I have killed men. But Gertrude did not intend to kill. She would not like to kill again. I believe that Gertrude would not like for me to kill again. I must learn to be a better man. For my truck.

Marlo. You would like Gertrude if you met her. You will not meet her. But. You will live.

[The front door opens and closes. White noise and Marlo’s monologue stop.]

NARRATOR
[Disgusted–followed by increasing difficulty accessing Guy’s thoughts.]
Guy stood and left Marlo’s bedside. He exited through the front door, uh… he turned right? And walked, uh…he walked…

[Footsteps.]

LEON

He walked two blocks to where he had parked Gertrude, safely away from the scene of the crime that would not take place.

NARRATOR

Wait…how’d you…

LEON

Guy gave Gertrude a gentle pat on her hood, and thought of how many ways she had changed his life. Changed him. He was a gentler man now, a less selfish man, and Gertrude’s engine purred in contentment.

[Guy gets into his truck and starts the engine.]

NARRATOR

Well, shit.

LEON

Meanwhile, Marlo slept peacefully. When he woke, he felt rested and happy as he went about this day and all of his days.

NARRATOR

Yes, well. Fine. You took Guy. A minor player. Just a pawn in the grand game.

LEON
Nobody is ever just a pawn.

NARRATOR

A character of little importance to our story, however philosophical you may care to be about it.

LEON

But not one you should have lost so easily.

NARRATOR

There are still plenty more in play.

LEON
Yes, you have the mayor and her husband, I’m aware.

NARRATOR

And Nica.

LEON

You don’t have Nica.

NARRATOR

Don’t I?

LEON
She’s…she’s better now.

NARRATOR
Is she? I think her direction remains in doubt. But we’ll see, won’t we? Yes, we’ll see.

[Charlie on the MTA plays.]

CREDITS

ALEXANDER DANNER

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

Content warnings at end of show notes.

This episode featured:

  • Braden Lamb as Leon Stamatis (he/him)
  • Mike Linden as Marlo (he/him) and Guy (he/him)
  • and Alexander Danner as The Narrator

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

COOKIE

ALEXANDER DANNER

That’s a wrap!

MIKE LINDEN (In Marlo voice)

That’s a wrap!

JAMES OLIVA (In Marlo-esque old man voice)
That’s a Wrap!

ALEXANDER
Not a sandwich!

MARLO
You know the difference between a wrap and a sandwich, really?

JAMES

No, Marlo, what’s the difference between a sandwich and a…a wrap?

MARLO
Well, one of ’em’s got bread and the other doesn’t. Like, so…that’s the difference.

JAMES

Huh.

MARLO
It’s funny when you think about it.

JAMES
That’s pretty sweet.

MARLO

Well, only certain types of wraps are sweet, some of ’em are savory.

JAMES (as Michael Tate)

Hey Marlo? It’s me, Michael.

MARLO
I was sleepin’ just there, but that’s okay.

MICHAEL

Yeah. No, no, you are sleeping actually.

MARLO

I was just…

MICHAEL
This is a dream.

MARLO
Ohhhh, wow!

MICHAEL
We’ve never actually met.

MARLO

Yeah, no?

MICHAEL
Um…

MARLO
I was wonderin’ about that! I know a lot of people. And I know there’s Mar….Michael from down the street.

MICHAEL
That’s not me.

MARLO
No?

MICHAEL
No.

MARLO
You’re not Michael with the red car, are ya?

MICHAEL
Well, I…I live in the Red Line, actually.

MARLO
Ohhhh

MICHAEL

Yeah, yeah.

MARLO
Like in the train?

MICHAEL
Yeah!

MARLO
So, you’re train Michael!

MICHAEL
Yeah! I was listening to your conversation the whole time.

MARLO
Well, that’s only a little bit creepy, because I was sleepin’.

MICHAEL
Yeah. But just to let you know, you are also speaking those words out loud in the real world.

MARLO

Oh…

MICHAEL
Ummm…

MARLO
How ’bout that!

MICHAEL

Yeah, yeah. Um, but, just wanted to let you know…there’s someone else here too.

MARLO

Oh, yeah?

MICHAEL

Yeah. You may want to think about waking up soon.

MARLO

It’s a right…right…a party in here!

MICHAEL
Also, could you hold this unicorn for me?

MARLO

I, I would love to. Oh, wait, no…aw, where’d he go? Man, now I’m stuck with a unicorn!

CONTENT WARNINGS

  • Strong language
  • Earnest threat of violence/murder
  • Reference to murders
  • Frank discussion of violence, including suffocation and strangulation