INT. THE UNDERGROUND HQ
It’s evening at The Underground. Everyone has gone home for the day. Everything is dark except a single light on in one office, where CHUCK OCTAGON is finishing a few things up.
SFX: Someone enters the space. A door opening. Footsteps.
Hello? (a beat) Who so rudely bursts unannounced into this sacred newsroom?
Hi there Mr. Octagon! Didn’t mean to scare you.
Scare. Verb. “To frighten, especially suddenly.” I wasn’t scared. If anything I was affronted. Affronted. Adjective. “Feeling or showing anger or indignation at some offense or insult.”
Well then, didn’t mean to cause any affront.
None taken, now that I see it is a member of our esteemed postal service. You’re working late sir.
As are you! You’re my last delivery of the day.
SFX: Bernie rustles in his mail bag and takes out Chuck’s letter.
The news never sleeps my dear fellow. The news never sleeps. Though I should probably head home soon. My beloved husband, Andy Wood, is going to be furious with me.
(laughs) Welp, here you go. It’s from Michael Tate. He’s been sending around quite a few of these letters!
SFX: Bernie hands Chuck the letter.
A letter from Michael! I wondered if I might get one too. We didn’t really talk before his whole, uh, kidnapping, but I’ve always said news personalities are like part of the family. We come into people’s homes. We tell it to them straight. I bet I was like that for Michael.
Huh, what a concept Mr. Octagon! You mind if I stick around to hear it? I’ve been mighty curious about these letters.
Not at all. I’ll make a full report. A Letter from Michael Tate: Live from The Underground!
SFX: Chuck opens the letter.
MICHAEL & CHUCK
Dear Mr. Octagon,
My name is Michael Tate. I saw you talking about me on TV because I’ve been missing. Yeah, I’m that guy. You probably don’t remember, but we’ve met before, actually. You were doing man on the street interviews about the Red Line Referendum. I was running around like a mad man, trying to keep up with the appointments in my calendar. God, that feels like ages ago now.
Anyway, thanks for covering my story. It felt nice to know people were actually looking for me, even if it’s too late to be found. I’ve been locked in the secret office of the publisher at the top of the ThirdSight Media offices. There’s a secret elevator behind the kombucha machine, but I don’t know the passcode. So I’ve been stuck. The food has completely dried up and I’ll be honest, Mr. Octagon, things aren’t looking good, which is why I’m writing.
I’ve admired your work over the years. I don’t watch much broadcast television. I find what tends to be covered on the news pretty distasteful. It’s really a circus out there: exploitation of one catastrophe after another, networks hungry for ratings on the backs of fear and tragedy. But your reporting is usually pretty level-headed. You stick to the facts. It’s good to see integrity in a newscaster. Hold on to that integrity Mr. Octagon. Hold onto it tightly.
I know it’s not easy to always be on the hunt for the next big story. You might scoff at my previous employer, but I had my days on the beat. Journalism can be an isolating and quite frankly selfish profession, if you let it. All consuming and self-aggrandizing. How many days did I find myself practically sleeping at my office, avoiding my friends, the people who cared most for me, all to crank out another story? I let a lot of relationships that were really important to me suffer, just to squeeze out a few more words. How arrogant to think you’re the only person who can tell a story correctly? To insist chasing this or that lead is more important than dinner with a friend or a quick phone call to catch up?
In many ways I was obsessed and I sense there’s a similar drive in you. I mean, the first time we met I don’t even think I even completed the interview: Too busy rushing off to the next appointment to connect with another human. Feed the ducks. Pick up the dry cleaning. Go here. Go there. Do this. Find that. And while I wish I weren’t about to die, I am grateful for the shift in perspective. It may be too late for me, but not for you. Be wary of the work, Mr. Octagon. Be wary of your own self-importance. Don’t let the heavy pages of history go to your head. Or maybe I should say the weighty broadband of cable? Sorry. This metaphor is falling apart. That is to say, don’t let the job cloud what’s important. Be conscious of where and how you spend your time. I hear you’re recently married. Congratulations! Sorry it was such a, well, total disaster, but congrats nonetheless. I hope you find yourself heading home early to your husband each day, not bent over your desk under one lone light, long after everyone else has gone home to their families. You never know what the future may hold. Find that balance. Integrity and awareness of what’s at stake.
But again, I don’t really know you. I’m making guesses. I could be totally wrong. Our relationship is almost entirely parasocial. I see you on a screen and I think I know things about you, but really we’re strangers. And you definitely don’t know me, even if we have technically met. It’s very odd to think that I’ve just been words to you, letters splashed across a page, a subject for interviews and investigation. A report. But I’m a person too, Mr. Octagon. I have friends and loved ones and a whole life I’m leaving behind. And I’m so, so sorry to see it go. I thought I had so much more time.
And I do just need to say that I didn’t go on a bender and die in a ditch somewhere, as has been speculated by my colleagues on your television program. If you could set the record straight there, I’d really appreciate it.
Anyway, I hope I can trust you here. If everything goes down the way I think it will, I figured a man in your position would be well placed to notify the authorities of where to find my body and also make sure my death isn’t completely in vain. The publisher of Third Sight Media, Oliver West, is responsible for my untimely demise, among many other crimes still unfolding including a dubious financial relationship with the Emily Bespin campaign. Seek out a woman named Louisa Alvarez. She’s a heck of a private detective and will be able to tell you more.
Wishing you luck in your future search for truth.
All the best,
Way ahead of you Tate on the Alvarez thing. Hmmm. Well. That was…. Not what I expected.
What were you expecting?
I… I don’t know. But not that. (small laugh) He really is quite insightful, even banging on death’s door. (beat) And is that not evidence of my superior judgment to invite a writer with such excellent moral fiber and tenacity for truth and justice to be part of this team? Another great discernment from me! Chuck Octagon! Turns out you don’t know every single thing, Michael Tate! (beat) Though I, uh, probably should get back to my beloved husband Andy Wood.
(small chuckle) I think we both should head home. Can I walk you out?
By all means! Let me just grab my briefcase. After you, sir.
SFX: Chuck and Bernie leave the Underground offices.
Greater Boston is written and produced by Alexander Danner and Jeff Van Dreason, with recording and technical assistance from Marck Harmon. Additional assistance from T.H. Ponders, Bob Raymonda, and Jordan Stillman.
This mini-episode was written by Jordan Stillman.
This episode featured:
- Jeff Van Dreason as Chuck Octagon (he/him)
- Josh Rubino as Bernie the mailman (he/him)
- and James Oliva as Michael Tate (he/him)
Charlie on the MTA recorded by Emily Peterson and Dirk Tiede.
You can support us on Patreon at Patreon.com/greaterboston.
Transcripts are available at GreaterBostonShow.com.
Follow us on Twitter @ingreaterboston
JEFF VAN DREASON
YEAH–I’m THAT guy! Alright, I think that should do it.
- Strong language
- Discussion of mortality
- Reference to alcoholism