GK: SINGS; He's smooth and he's cool, and quick with a gun,

A master of the boudoir.

A guy in a trenchcoat who gets the job done,

It's Guy.....Guy Noir.

SS: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but on the 12th floor of the Acme Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions.....Guy Noir, Private Eye.

GK: It was a beautiful day in May, one of those warm sunny days when you suddenly realize how depressed you've been for the past six months. I was just about to head down to the deli and get myself a bottle of guava juice when (PHONE RING, PICKUP) Yeah, Guy Noir, Private Eye.

TK (ON PHONE): You a private eye?

GK: Yeah---

TK: You do surveillance?

GK: Right? what you need surveilled?

TK: I need you to go over to a family picnic and see if my dingbat cousin from Des Moines is there.

GK: I see. What does this cousin look like?

TK: He wears dumb clothes and he has a head like a pear and he stands around saying stupid things in a voice you can hear two blocks away.

GK: Okay---

TK: I need to know if he's there cause if he is, I'm not going.

GK: Okay. I'll go check and call me back in an hour. (MUSIC) And then I looked at myself in the mirror. It wasn't a picnic outfit I had on. White shirt and a blue tie with little figures that looked like streptococcus, and a twenty-year-old dark blue rayon and polyester-blend suit that belongs in the Museum of Petrochemical Fashion. I looked like a geography teacher. So I called up a local clothier.


SS (ON OTHER END): Good afternoon, Gary's Plaid Pants Warehouse. This is Norma, how may I help you, if such a thing is possible?

GK: Yeah, hi. The name is Noir, Guy Noir? And I'm looking for something I could wear to a picnic. You know. Something bright and summery.

SS: Well, plaid shorts are very popular this year.

GK: I was afraid of that.

SS: We have some wonderful new plaids this summer: Coral, Sangria, Seafoam ---

GK: This Seafoam---- what color is that, Norma?

SS: It's a pale green.

GK: That's what I was afraid of. Pale green on me---- it's not good--- I've worn pale green and people threw me down on the ground and tried to give me CPR.(POUNDING ON DOOR. TR MUFFLED YELLS: Hey! You big cheater! I know you're in there!) THIS CONTINUES UNDER.....

GK: Excuse me just a moment, Norma. There's somebody at the door. Be right back. (PUTS PHONE DOWN. FOOTSTEPS.) Who's there? I'm on the phone! Quit pounding on the door. (OPENS DOOR)

TR: Why you dirty no-good cheater (HE SWINGS. GK OOF. THEY STRUGGLE)---

GK: Who are you? what is this---

TR: Who am I! Why you---- (HE SWINGS. GK OOF. STRUGGLE)

GK: I think maybe you missed some school when they had the unit on manners--- you big --- (HE SWINGS. TR OOF. FALLS. GROANS) There. Let it be a lesson to you. No hitting. You try that again, I'll have to teach you some more. (SLAMS DOOR) (FOOTSTEPS. STOP. PICKS UP PHONE) There. Sorry, Miss----

SS (ON PHONE): Nelson. Norma Nelson.

GK: I don't think Coral or Seafoam is going to work, Miss Nelson. And Sangria is basically just burgundy, isn't it----

SS (ON PHONE): Yes, it is.

GK: That's what I thought. Guys who wear burgundy clothing tend to smoke cigarillos and drive Buick Electras, in my experience.

SS (ON PHONE): We have a nice red in the Madras shorts ---

GK: I once saw a guy my age wearing a pair of Madras shorts and instinctively I reached into my pocket and gave him a quarter. In fact, I think I'm going to have to nix the shorts and go for long trousers.

SS (ON PHONE): I don't mean to pry, but what's the reason for that?

GK: My legs, Miss Nelson, are not what they once were. My knees resemble those of a camel, and I have irregular hair patterns that look as if I may have reached puberty near a nuclear power plant. (POUNDING ON DOOR. MUFFLED SHOUTS)

SS (ON PHONE): How about Driftwood?

GK: Excuse me, Norma. Somebody's at the door. (PUTS PHONE DOWN. FOOTSTEPS.) Whoever you are, you're gonna be sorry you didn't take the hint the first time. (OPENS DOOR)



GK: How about plain blue trousers? You got those?

SS (ON PHONE): We have a very nice Cerulean Blue, or Azure---

GK: Azure. I don't think so. I'm not an Azure type of person.

SS (ON PHONE): How about Cypress or Sage or Heather or Pistachio?

GK: I don't think so.

SS (ON PHONE): We have Mauve, Tangerine, or Sunburst Orange, too.

GK: Sunburst orange. That's the color that highway department crews wear, isn't it.


GK: I thought so. I'm sure they're the safest pants I could wear, but you see (POUNDING STARTS AGAIN. MUFFLED SHOUTING, BARKING) I've got to be undercover at this picnic. I've got to blend in.

Excuse me, Miss Nelson. Let me get rid of this guy. (PUTS PHONE DOWN. FOOTSTEPS.) I had about enough of you, you turkey. This is the last time, I'm warning you. (OPENS DOOR. DOG SNARLS)

TR: Oh yeah? Take this, you big weasel. (GUNSHOTS)


SS (ON PHONE): Would you rather I call back at a more convenient time?

GK: No, no, no. This is fine.

SS (ON PHONE): Are you an active person, Mr. Noir? Do you exercise regularly?

GK: My idea of exercise is getting a twist-off cap off a bottle of beer.

SS (ON PHONE): May I suggest our classic sweat pants in ecru ----

a turquoise T-shirt, hibiscus espadrilles, and long socks in hot azalea.

GK: Hot azalea. It's like poetry almost.

SS (ON PHONE): It is, isn't it.

GK: Well. Okay, Norma, I'm going to trust you on this one.

SS (ON PHONE): Good. I feel that the selection of clothing is one of the most intimate things two people can do together on the phone. I hope it won't offend you if I bring up the subject of waist measurement and inseam---

GK: Not at all. The byword is extra large. (CRUNCH OF WOOD, DOOR IS BROKEN, TR ANGRY THREATS, DOG SNARLS). Excuse me, Miss Nelson. (HANG UP) Who are you?

TR: Who are YOU, wise guy? (DOG BARKS)

GK: The name was on the door you just busted down.


GK: Noir.

TR: You're not the dry cleaner? (DOG GROWL)

GK: Does this look like a dry cleaning shop?

TR: Those big cheaters left a big scorch mark on my shirt. My best shirt. I couldn't believe it. (DOG BARK)

GK: I am not the dry cleaner, okay?

TR: Okay. (PAUSE) Sorry. Wrong guy. (PAUSE) Would you happen to know how to turn off the timer on an explosive device?

GK: Oh boy. You've got a bomb too? (TICKING) You know, I'm glad your mother isn't here to see this. She would not be proud.

TR: I'm sorry. I got carried away. It was my favorite shirt. It was teal with a tab collar.

GK; Did you ever hear about writing a letter of complaint, huh? Violence does not solve anything. (PHONE RING, PICKUP) Yeah?

SS (ON PHONE): I misspoke, Mr. Noir. We do have plain blue trousers. They're seersucker.

GK: Miss Nelson, I appreciate your looking, but when I see seersucker pants, I just sort of assume the man is a Bible salesman. If you know what I mean.

SS (ON PHONE); Of course. All right. Well, sorry to bother you.


GK: You get all angry over a shirt, you come after the wrong person--- how do I disarm this? which wire do I pull ---- the red one or the black one?

TR: I don't know. I'm really embarrassed about this. I can't believe that I ----

GK: Well, I hope you are embarrassed. This is terrible.

TR: I fired a pistol at you, I sicked my dog on you (DOG SNARL), I busted down your door, and now here I am with an explosive device set to go off in two minutes and no idea how to disarm it.

GK: Two minutes?

TR: That's right. I set it for 2 o'clock.

GK: Two o'clock!

TR: And it's one fifty-eight right now.

GK: Not according to the clock on the bomb it's not. Look.

TR: One fifty-nine.

GK: Your clock is fast.

TR: So we've got less than one minute.

GK: I'd say so. About forty-five seconds. (PHONE RING) Darn. (PICK UP) Yeah?

TK (ON PHONE): You ready to go to the picnic?

GK: I'm about ready to go to the moon, mister.

TK (ON PHONE); I don't understand.

GK: It's a long story. I'll talk to you later. (HANG UP) You know you really need to get into some kind of stress management program, mister ---- I mean--- (PHONE RING) Not again. (PICK UP) Yeah?

SS (ON PHONE): How about aquamarine?

GK: Fine.

SS (ON PHONE): Are you coming over soon?

GK: In about half a minute, I'm going to come flying over there.

SS (ON PHONE): And you would like the espadrilles too?

TR: Ten seconds.

GK: All of it. Just a moment, Miss Olson----

SS (ON PHONE): Miss Nelson.

GK: Right. Nelson. Sorry.

SS (ON PHONE): Call me Norma.

GK: Right. Norma. Hang on. ---I'm going to pull the black. (DOG GROWL)

TR: Blackie says not.

GK: Red, Blackie? (DOG PANTS, WAGS TAIL) Okay. Red. (SNAP) Whew. (HISSING) Oh no.

TR: It's a stink bomb.

GK: I could tell. Pew. Smells like somebody died in here.

TR: It's a real cheeser, all right.

GK: You sure you didn't cut one?

TR: That ain't me. That's the bomb.


GK: I buried my clothes in a landfill and went to the picnic in a turquoise T-shirt, hibiscus espadrilles, hot azalea socks and aquamarine pants and everybody left as I arrived except the guy with a head like a pear. He smelled about the same as I.

TR: Good potato salad, good sloppy Joes. Huh? Help yourself. Got plenty. Don't know where the other folks went to. Musta had another picnic to go to. No, I was just saying to my cousin, I got this big old rider mower with the 38-inch cutting blade, 35 horsepower, automatic drive, parasol, CD player, the works. It's a beauty. Love it. Mow the lawn every other day. Nothing to it. Where do you live?

GK: Live at the Acme Building. Should be able to move back in in about two weeks.

TR: You need a place to stay?

GK: Sure.

TR: Got plenty of room at my place.

GK: I can imagine.


SS: A dark night in a city that keeps its secrets, where one guy is still trying to find the answers...Guy Noir, Private Eye. (MUSIC OUT)

© 1997 by Garrison Keillor