Below is Part One of a projected series of improbable origin stories for how the cast of The Podcast of No Return came together to do what it does. Please be advised that none of which is written can be in any way proven to be true, false, or otherwise.
In the bowels of some ought-to-be-to-be-forgotten municipal building somewhere in downtown New York City, Steve Monosson toiled in the Department of Bureaucratic Oversight as Senior Document Manager, Division of Particular Emphasis, Level Three. This was his official title, but his day-to-day job involved nothing more than processing hundreds of the same document — Form 8162-J55, as mandatorily submitted by NYC residents. Monosson’s job was to make sure that Form 8162-J55 was filled out properly, which meant the respondent put a red “X” in the box in the upper right corner, scribe a green triangle in the circle in the middle-left of the page, and then legibly sign his or her name in middle right corner in blue ink — and blue ink only.
For years, all went well and event-free for Monosson — flagging a green “X” here or a blue triangle there — until one day in January 2018 he came across one distinctively irregular filled-out Form 8162-J55. This form had been returned with no X’s, no circles, and certainly not the average signature. Instead, an immense smiley face had been scrawled in fluorescent yellow highlighter at the top of the page, followed by what looked like a baby dinosaur painted in a rainbow of oil paints, and finally signed in cut-out letters pasted in place much like a kidnapper’s note: “Chlos ain’t your bros, chump. Cheers, Marlon Brenn-do.”
Monosson’s initial instinct was to notify his supervisor, Jack Rokiki, who had reputedly seen every manner of desecration of Form 8162-J55 imaginable, and knew precisely how to deal with any such eventuality. Rokiki had once deciphered a box of ashes that had been submitted as a Form 8162-J55, and had concluded that the respondent had correctly filled out the form only to have their apartment building burn down before he or she could submit it.
“I don’t know how you do it, boss.” Monosson had said to Rokiki at the time.
“It doesn’t matter how I do it, only that I can,” replied Rokiki, without a hint of emotion. Rokiki spoke in a calm, almost whispering tone which belied the six foot four inch, bear-like frame from whence it sounded.
“Wow, that’s heavy — but really real, you know what I mean, boss?”
“I believe I do, Mr. Monosson, though I’m no Mario X. Soto, if you will.”
“Good day. I must now urge you to get back to work post haste.”
“Of course. Yes, sir. Post haste.” Monosson was, of course, happy to get back to work as soon as possible, having a suspect yet infinite delight in processing the forms that he did. But who was Mario X. Soto? The thought ping-ponged across Monosson’s consciousness until he returned to his desk. Resuming his labors, he spotted that a woman in Elmhurst, Queens had signed her form with an aquamarine triangle instead of using the specified forest green. Such a violation would have to be dealt with immediately.
— TO BE CONTINUED, SHORTLY —