ELENA: If you fell in love with a god, would you follow them down to the ends of the earth? The home is hungry, and the flesh is weak, with Dos: After You right here on Radio Drama Revival.
[theme music – smooth, jazzy horns playing a mellow, sultry tune that fades out gradually as Elena speaks]
ELENA: Hello, and welcome to Radio Drama Revival, the podcast that showcases the diversity and vitality of modern audio fiction. I’m your host, Elena Fernandez Collins. Today, experience the first episodes of the fiction podcast Dos: After You in our showcase; next week, return to join us for the creator interview with David Orión Pena.
Deck knew who he was before he met Sil: a killer, and yet a cog in the capitalist machine that keeps us focused on what we lack in our personal lives so that we don’t pay attention to the travesties around us: political corruption, climate change, violence against marginalized people. He has held people’s lives in the palm of his hand; he’s an artist, a planner, a deceiver.
But now he’s improvising, rushing out from quarantine on a road trip behind the inhuman god he seems to have fallen in love with, and on a journey to stop deceiving himself.
Dos: After You is an exploration of dark, grey morality, and the journey to making choices and taking actions towards becoming a better, kinder person when the world has shown you its ugly face and society’s predilection towards hate. In these first few episodes, Deck indulges in his philosophical and experiential monologues, addressing Sil as if Sil were next to him and his bike; he engages in exploring his inner self and past traumas until he begins to interact with other people, breaking out of the shell he has constructed for himself.
We’ll be airing the first five episodes in English. These episodes are also available on the Dos podcast feed in Spanish; the link is in our episode description.
Please be aware that the following episodes variably contain discussions of murder, including dismemberment and drowning, transphobia, violent behavior, and existential dread.
First, we meet Deck in episode one: scam.
[begin episode one]
INT. HOUSE – HAARLEM, NETHERLANDS
Deck is at the house’s door, ready to leave. There’s an eerie, melancholic feeling in the air. He has his phone out, recording.
DECK: Everything changed after you. (Sighs) Five months and three days here, and I choose today to hit the record button. (Sighs) I am leaving today. Finally. There’s so much I want to tell you, Sil… (Pause)
There are cars outside. Cars! I didn’t miss those big metal caskets, you know. I never saw the appeal of a machine that can get you killed so easily. Yes, you can run over someone and murder them, but with street cameras and license plates, it’s meant to be a messy job. No thanks. And yes, before you ask yourself, I can drive and I have a license, but I’d rather threaten someone to drive me around before sitting behind a steering wheel.
My bike’s waiting for me outside, I have everything I need; I’m leaving today.
(Less convinced) I’m leaving today.
But I could use the time and tell you more about me. After all, you have only seen me at my worst and my best, but no in between, no real-Deck. I’ve always believed that all those romantic stories, where you just meet that special someone and the world just changes, are just another capitalist scam. Have everyone busy looking for their other half, their soulmate or whatever you want to call it, and no one will pay attention to what’s important: things like the governments, the climate change, the bodies floating in the canals at three am… The worst part is that it works. It truly works. But no, what’s worse is that now I’m one of them, Sil. I’m in the scam now. But our story is not one meant for Facebook walls or Twitter threads or big budget yankee Hollywood movies. In fact, if we were to be a movie, it’d be French. You know, slow, not much dialogue, lots of intense staring. And in a movie, this would be the first scene. But no one in their right mind would start a movie with the confession I have for you: I wished I never met you. I used to be someone before knowing you, and now… now I’m just picking up the pieces.
Maybe I can figure myself out on this trip. That’s what road trips are for, aren’t they? And I can’t understand who I am without talking about you, Sil.
This way, when I find you, you’ll also have records of all the times I thought of you. Isn’t that romantic? (Smiles) Ah Sil, I can’t wait to kill you.
[end episode one]
ELENA: We’re on our way to find Sil, and Deck explains the machinations of his conscience in episode two: grey.
[begin episode two]
EXT. HALFWAY TO AMSTERDAM
Deck is resting after a few kilometres; he has lost some stamina in the last months.
DECK: The last time I saw you, you were riding on the most pathetic bike I’ve ever seen. I stood there, on the rooftop, thinking about how it’d be to see you again in London in two weeks. (quiet, rueful laugh). But after the photographs, the kisses and the silence inside your ribcage I lost count of the nights I lied awake wondering if it had all been real. If you even had a body, if what I tasted, what I felt, had been nothing but a delicate illusion my mind had created. It wouldn’t be the first time that reality’s edges went blurry after a kill. I had my revenge, you know, and the world didn’t matter anymore. We were square.
But I guess there’s nothing more millennial than living through another world crisis.
Five months inside my childhood memories, with a stained carpet as a constant reminder of the price one must pay to make your dreams come true. You know, Sil, it’s really easy to kill someone. Is murder a better word? Murder goes further than killing. Killing is the act itself, the relief one feels in their stomach and tongue when there is no more force, no more energy but a brain that slowly shuts down or a heart that has no blood left to pump. But murder… murder requires planning. It’s a composition: it needs a tempo, an arc, a history. The problem with murder is that it leaves a to-do list: bleach, stains, decay, bone splinters one may inhale if not careful. Don’t get me wrong, I would have done a worse job if it hadn’t been for the isolation. It took me the first month just to check if all the neighbours that used to know me still lived here…
(Laughs) You know I was able to deceive Mevrouw Visser to her face? She had been my babysitter for years, yet with the face mask and my actual voice I pretended I was a distant Spanish relative. Bless mom for that. If it had been up to him, I never would have learnt Spanish. (Pause) Murder is like lying: if you have to improvise, chances are you’re gonna end up cleaning a big mess.
I’d like to say there is no room for improvisation when it comes to you, but we both know I’d be lying. I spent weeks soundproofing the attic, cleaning and rearranging electric saws and then, dozens of hours cutting down bones, cleaning dried blood and pulling apart half-frozen muscles… All I would have left was the memory of you. I would go outside, on the roof, with my legs kicking in the air and a book I’d never read on my thighs, trying to summon you again. Five months. Five months of waiting. The borders have been opened since June, but I couldn’t make any stupid moves. Better to wait a little, I thought, and I’m sure by now people have relaxed just enough. First stop: Brussels. I know the chances of you being in the UK are low but… it’s the only starting point you’ve given me.
I used to come here to run, years ago. I always liked this small part of Amsterdam, this long, vast road where every day I would find different ships yet the same faces. No matter the weather, I would run every day before dinner.
I liked to run until I got a stitch, until my lungs couldn’t take it anymore and my mouth tasted like iron. It was a small reminder that I was alive. That I carried on. Lethargy doesn’t work for me, Sil. No. It didn’t work for me then, before you. You would have liked me, dressed in grey sport clothes, under a grey sky and with a grey heart. Just like you.
I don’t like this, Sil, the… improvising. You are watching me, you must be watching me. Why haven’t you said anything? Do you even…? (Sighs) Nevermind.
Deck cycles away.
[end episode two]
ELENA: The teams at Dos: After You and at Radio Drama Revival would like to ask you to consider donating to Apoyo Positivo, a mainly Madrid-based community resource program designed in 1993 to support people living with HIV. They provide sexual and mental health resources and education, as well as supporting, educating on, and preventing the infringement of reproductive and sexual rights.
You can donate at https://apoyopositivo.org/colabora/hazdonativo/ — the link is in our episode description.
Now, let’s return to Deck and his existential crisis at an Amsterdam bus station in episode 3: patterns.
[begin episode three]
EXT. BUS STATION AMSTERDAM SLOTERDIJK
Deck is waiting for his bus, checking the platform in the distance. Buses come and go around.
DECK: We like labels, categories. They make life easier; we need patterns to make sense of an otherwise chaotic world that festers upon us. The world is less uncanny when it has colourful tags that describe what’s behind us, what can lie ahead. Life was messy when I didn’t have the right words, you know. But I could see myself how I was supposed to be, how I truly am. I have always been like this —I just got tired of hiding. You can relate to that, can’t you? Sometimes I wonder what labels you carry, what kind of fire you leave behind… If I will ever see the scorched earth that stays once you’re done.
I have my labels, and some are useful. European, half Spanish, half Dutch, transgender, trilingual, delinquent, murderer, bisexual. Is there one for hating tea? Probably someone coined it on the internet. The thing is, there weren’t any labels for you, not even to categorize your skin, your eye colour, your height, or your voice. I remember every sensation: the taste of your sweat, the flesh of your thighs, how full your lips are. You are soft where I am all edges. (Pause)
Well, now that I think of it, I have one for you.
You must hate that one. (Mockingly) Sil, the God. How can you hate it? If I were you, I’d walk this earth like I owned it, because that’s the truth, Sil, you own us.
You have a power that no one has… Is that? Are you scared? Because if that’s what this is, your reason, I don’t know what I will do once I see you. Hah, no, I do, and it’ll be right to do it.
I have another one for you:
For real, you know. No heartbeat inside you to match my own, no ticking bomb that will die when I squeeze your vocal cords.
I always end up digressing about this stuff when I’m at a bus station. Tess used to say that’s because I’m a liminal space made flesh. Does that make me a Manic Pixie Dream Boy? Maybe I exist in the between and I’ve become a bus after so many rides. When she first said this to me, I used my job as an excuse. That I’d had assignments all over Europe, that I couldn’t grow fond of a city, a neighborhood, a street, because if I show up there long enough people will recognize me and it’d be hard to be traceless… I know Tess was right. But I’m not gonna tell her that. She thinks I don’t miss simpler times back when we were living in ADM, and all I did was sell overpriced pills to college students. Chaos back then was different. I didn’t have many labels, but life was more orderly. Neat. It’s easier when you work behind a screen and you don’t have to move in and out every two or three weeks. (Sigh). Well. It’s not like I have a job anymore. Since that night… word got around that I was dead (Laughs). Can a liminal space believe in something? Can it even die? Maybe I’ve become invincible since you, Sil. Maybe even immortal. Nah. I’m pretty sure I’d still bleed if cut.
But it’d be nice to believe in something for a change, to give this chaos in for something greater, something more… spiritual. (Pause) You’re a god. If I prayed to you, would you like it? Is that what I need to do to see you again? ‘Wouldn’t be the first time I’d be on my knees for inter-
There’s a big pause, and he turns around slowly. He is sure now; he has seen it. A shadow, in the corner of his eye.
SOUND: A PHONE FALLS ON THE FLOOR.
[end episode three]
ELENA: Deck’s exhaustion begins to seep through his defenses, in episode four: fear.
[begin episode four]
INT. BUS AMSTERDAM-BRUSSELS
Deck is tired, with all his defences down. The bus is almost empty, and he is sitting close to the motor, at the back.
DECK: Mom disappeared two days after my birthday. I was only ten and we didn’t know where she could be; she didn’t leave a note. A suitcase and half her wardrobe were missing but, for some reason, she had left all her shoes behind. That was the first day I ever felt scared.
The second one was a surprise; I was going out with my friend Sanne, you know, to grab some ice cream when he called me from the living room. The only light on was the TV’s and I could see my reflection in the green beer bottle he was holding. It was somehow… sacred. I could see my face in his: the high cheeks with years carved into rough skin, eye bags as deep and violet as the bruises I had in my knees and thighs. His voice was coarse and low, usually, but then he yelled: “How the hell are you going out like that? Dress like a bloody girl for once!”. I allowed it all because I had the answer close to the tip of my tongue and fear tasted sweet, like the cinnamon aftertaste of a good apple pie. I changed clothes because I already knew the sound a bottle makes when it breaks, and all I cared about was the ice cream.
The third time I had honey on my lips, a broken eyebrow, and a duffel bag on the floor, next to the main door. There were mud stains on the blue carpet, and I had just oiled my bike. There was no green in sight, but his eyes looked red under the sun that was slowly leaving.
I talked for fifteen minutes, hardly breathing, with a hand inside my pocket, just where I kept the knife my ex-girlfriend had given me. When he stood up I showed him the blade, and the TV’s colors shone upon it, filling the space between our bodies. I was no longer his. I wanted to ask about the shoes, but I was afraid of being right, of just losing it if he spoke out loud.
That night was the first of many I’d spend on other people’s sofas.
The fourth time I was afraid was in that very same old house, twelve years after, last February. The reason was… Yes, it was different. Some of Mom’s books had crashed onto the floor, open wide, and the whole house was trembling. I forgot how to breathe as I wondered how I was supposed to clean the blood stains out of those old, yellowy pages.
(Whispered) There’s something in the bus, Sil. I can see it, translucent, like it’s glitching. It’s not the first one I’ve seen, but it doesn’t feel like what I saw at the station in Sloterdijk… (Pause) Sil, what have you done?
[end episode four]
ELENA: Finally, Deck opens up about his past, about the thrill of the kill, in episode five: tourists.
[begin episode five]
EXT. BRUSSELS, NOT FAR FROM THE NORTH STATION
Close to the evening, the sun is almost out. Deck has been around for a few days, but he needs a new place to stay.
DECK: (Cussing) The phone’s clock is broken. I mean, how is it even possible? It’s frozen… It was alright this morning…
Deck sighs, tapping on the screen.
DECK (CONT’D): The rest of the apps are working just fine so… it’s still recording. Good. (Sigh) You know what I need now, Sil? Frietjes met currysaus.
He walks through the city, as he keeps talking.
DECK (CONT’D): Some places are still shut down. I heard they had lots of bad cases here… But I’d kill right now for some fries with curryketchup. Belgians keep saying the fries are theirs, like someone could own the way a potato is fried, declaring the rest of techniques a heresy. But they already have the waffles empire. People visit the Netherlands for fries; you only come to Brussels if you’re someone in the EU or you want to be disappointed at the Manneken Pis. (Laughs)
There aren’t many tourists. I miss them. Back home, the hostel a few blocks away used to be full of them. Twentysomethings looking for some weed, fun at the beach in Bloemendaal, usually with a terrible taste in music and tobacco brands. Sitting ducks. You had to pick the ones with lonely eyes, carrying duffel bags and a craving for fries. (Chuckles). Yeah. I’m serious about the fries.
DECK: You know, the first time that I killed somebody, Tess bought me some fries, but they had run out of curryketchup. I think I ordered salsa brava, but none tasted like Mom’s. Bram, yeah, his name was Bram. He was one of Tess’s exes, and he just came to bother us one night. We were just throwing some stones not far from The Eye. Margo and Dylan ran as soon as they saw he was carrying a blade. It was a sort of cheap, flea market machete. I don’t even know how he’d hidden it on himself. But well, they ran away, calling the police, like they would help or anything. They didn’t live at ADM you see. They were rich kids from the city center that wanted to taste the hippie life they thought we had.
So there we were, Bram, Tess and I, surrounded by half-built buildings and water that at night didn’t look greenish, but black. It comforted me infinitely, the dark waves, the rustle of the boats crossing by. It must have been September, because I remember distant music, the kind they have for Erasmus parties that were so easy to sneak in, always a good deal for some quick cash.
Bram was tall, but all of them are. All of them are tall and have dimples when they hold a cheap machete. I can’t remember how I took it from him, but I still can feel the cold water around my hands. Tess didn’t scream, and I realised then we would always be friends. I also realised that it is easier to drown someone when you’ve cut their throat beforehand and, that even on a moonless night, you can see how blood dilutes and travels through salt and waves. Can seaweed be dyed red?
He thrashed around until his last breath, and it took so long. Tess texted Margo and we were left alone as we piled up some bricks, before breaking the wood planks that served as dykes, keeping the sand of the artificial island away from the water. A bad fall. A mindless drunk. Tess learnt to have better taste.
SOUND: BELLS, AGAIN.
Deck groans. The night is almost upon him, and he doesn’t want to sleep at a hostel.
DECK: It’s hard to believe in these times, don’t you think? To believe in her. To believe in you, a part of me wants to. But I only have this blood and a broken watch. (Sighs) I don’t feel like a hostel tonight. There’s always a pervert waiting at a pub ready to buy you a few rounds before inviting you over to his place where you can open him up nicely. Yeah. (Pause). Wait. (Inhales, happy). Fritland. Finally.
[end episode five: tourists]
DAVID ORIÓN PENA: Hi, I’m David Orión Pena, writer and producer of Dos: After You, and the voice of Deck. This is an independent podcast. If you want to be part of a community, or support it, you can join now at patreon dot com slash dos after you. Another great way of supporting it is to subscribe, rate, and review it at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and spread the word to your friends. Thank you for listening, and remember, record yourself. Sil may be listening.
[end episode five]
ELENA: If you liked what you heard, you can support Dos: After You at https://ko-fi.com/dosafteryou. You can follow them for updates on Twitter @dosafteryou, that’s d-o-s-a-f-t-e-r-y-o-u.
Radio Drama Revival runs on Victorian Fog tea from Harley & Sons and a dash of cream — and the pennies left over from our tea obsession. If you’d like to help keep us afloat and featuring new, diverse, unique fiction podcasts and their creators, you can support us on Patreon, at patreon.com/radiodramarevival.
And now we bring you our Moment of Fred. Surprise! Anne’s on vacation. Happy vacation, Anne!
[Moment of Fred]
FRED: Hi, this is Fred and Nyana.
FRED: And Chandwen.
FRED: So what happened last night?
NYANA: We went on a fire taco-magic marshmallow night with our neighbors.
FRED: That sounds fun. Did anything fun happen last night to you, Chandwen?
CHANDWEN: Mhmm. We played with glow sticks and we dressed up as fairies.
FRED: What else did we do around the fire?
CHANDWEN: We told stories. About some animals who tried to make a band.
FRED: Oh my goodness. And what did you kids do?
NYANA: We made sound effects.
FRED: Can you give me a sound effect that you did?
NYANA: [demonstrates with a sing songy din-din-din sound, lilting up in pitch]
FRED’S DAUGHTERS: Bye!
ELENA: That means it’s time for the credits.
This episode was recorded in the unceded territory of the Kalapuya people, the Clatskanie Indian Tribe, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and the Atfalati tribe. Colonizers named this place Beaverton, Oregon.
If you are looking for ways to support or donate to Native communities, the Quileute are fundraising to move their at-risk community to higher ground, and out of the tsunami zone, so that their culture and heritage can thrive for generations to come. Their first objective is to move the Quileute Tribal School, which is currently located right next to the beach, endangering the lives of children and the future of the Quileute tribe. You can learn more and donate at https://mthg.org/; the link is in the episode description.
Our theme music is Reunion of the Spaceducks by the band KieLoKaz. You can find their music on Free Music Archive.
Our audio producer is Wil Williams.
Our marketing manager and line producer is Anne Baird.
Our researcher is Heather Cohen.
Our submissions editor is Rashika Rao.
Our associate marketing manager is Jillian Schraeger.
Our transcriptionist is Katie Youmans.
Our audio consultant is Eli Hamada McIlveen
Our associate producer is Sean Howard.
Our executive producers are Fred Greenhalgh and David Rheinstrom.
Our mascot is Tickertape, the goat.
I’m your host, Elena Fernandez Collins. This has been Radio Drama Revival: all storytellers welcome.