Discover more from The Chatner
A podcast about someone who didn't get murdered
I have this vague idea that I've been vaguely pitching for the last few months (by which I mean I emailed one editor about the possibility and then never followed up after hearing 'Sure, I'd take a look at that). It's a podcast that takes a deep, twelve-week dive into someone who was not brutally murdered. Every week it takes a look at another aspect of the days and weeks leading up to the subject's never being abducted, stalked, assaulted, dismembered, and necroticly defiled. Every episode ends with an in-depth analysis of the subject's continued safety.
It is not difficult, for me at least, for a certain state of vocational listlessness to edge up against what the Desert Fathers called acedia – or, alternately, negligence, "the noonday demon," "the sorrow of the world that worketh death," a state of restlessness and inability either to work or to pray, a spiritual torpor that resembles but is uniquely distinct from the condition of depression. Whether it's useful or not for someone else to think of listlessness as a besetting sin, I'm not sure; I certainly don't mean to suggest that anyone ought to blame their spiritual condition for issues better defined under the rubric of mental and emotional health. I mean only to describe a tendency within myself to neglect to pursue the Good.
(I've tried not to be a Calvinist. It seems that it can't be helped. I don't mean to encourage anyone else towards Calvinism. I merely seek to describe my own condition. I have no choice in the matter. It is an odd combination of things to be, the things that I am, but an internal bent towards Calvinism and an external bent towards indolence is part of the package that is me.)
I have thought, too, about watching a crime procedural that follows the case of a Woman Who Is Not Murdered. The best episode of Law and Order: SVU has already been written by Carmen Maria Machado, and it bears mentioning here, but I would also love dearly to watch an episode where Stabler and Benson (I know he's been off the show a while now, and I like the new lineup quite a lot, but any Platonic Ideal Episode of SVU features Stabler and Benson) wander around New York City asking questions about a woman who is still alive.
BENSON: She was here last Tuesday?
PLIABLE COWORKER: Yeah. Katie always comes in on Tuesdays. She loved working with kids. Loves, I should say, on account of how she's still alive and thriving.
STABLER: Did anything seem off? She seem distracted? Say anything about a new boyfriend?
PC-W: No, she's been doing really well lately. No boyfriends.
BENSON: Thanks for your help. We'll be in touch.
STABLER: Any idea where we could get some coffee around here? We've been carrying around empty coffee cups all morning, and the weightlessness of it is starting to feel weird.
PC-W: There's a place just down the street. Everyone's alive there too.
STABLER: That's so great, to hear.
BENSON: It's really great.
PC-W [unexpectedly choking up]: It really is, isn't it? Look, I gotta get back to – [gestures vaguely in the direction of the hallway]
BENSON: We understand.
STABLER: We get it.
[The pliable coworker leaves, sobbing quietly]
BENSON: You never said anything about the coffee cups before.
STABLER: You never said anything, either.
BENSON: I know. I just – I didn't know it bothered you, not having coffee in them.
STABLER: It didn't bother me. I just didn't want coffee then. I'd like some coffee now.
BENSON: I'm not criticizing you.
STABLER: I know.
BENSON: I just would have – I'd want to know, if you wanted coffee. You can tell me if you want coffee.
STABLER: I know that.
BENSON: I'm sorry.
STABLER: For what?
BENSON: I don't know. For what I said just then. I'm sorry. I don't know what I'm sorry for, but I want to say it. That I'm sorry, to you.
STABLER: Okay. I get it.
BENSON: You do?
STABLER: Not exactly. Not really. But I get it, and you can say you're sorry to me if you want. If that's important to you. And I'll hear it. I'll even forgive you, if you want.
BENSON [thickly]: Thank you. It's just hard, now, sometimes, keeping track of everyone who's alive. They're all alive, and they're all fine, and I can't forget any of them.
STABLER: Sometimes I think my hair looks ridiculous.
BENSON: It doesn't!
STABLER: I know. Or – thank you, I guess, but – I get up in the morning, and I look at myself, and all I can think is, This is impossible, you are impossible, and your hair looks ridiculous, and it's like I can't move, and I have to wait for Kathy to get up before I can even go to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee. And I can't tell her about it, because how can you tell your wife that you don't know how to leave the bedroom in the morning until she gets up?
BENSON: I don't think your hair looks ridiculous.
STABLER: I appreciate that. It's not the point, but I appreciate that. I'm not asking you to tell me what my hair does or doesn't look like. I'm trying to tell you that every day I feel like my hair looks ridiculous.
BENSON: Thank you for telling me that.
STABLER: I'm really glad she's alive, you know that?
BENSON: Katie? Or your wife?
BENSON: Yeah, me too.
STABLER: I think – I think next we have to go talk to her parents. About the last time they saw her. And when the next time they might see her, they think. And about how alive she is.
BENSON: Do you still want to get coffee before?
STABLER: Yeah. Yeah. [He does not move.] Could you, um. Could you go first?
BENSON: Through the door, you mean?
STABLER: I can't move. I don't know how else to explain it.
BENSON: Would it help if I told you your hair l–
STABLER: Absolutely not. I just need you to go first, and then I can come with you.
STABLER: You go first, but I'll be right behind you. And we can walk in together.
BENSON: There's a barista at the coffee shop, I think, who didn't go missing last night. We can ask his coworkers some questions while we get coffee.
STABLER: Yeah. It's gonna be a long day.
[Benson rests a hand lightly on Stabler's shoulder, then turns and walks out the door. After a moment, Stabler follows.]