(GK: Garrison Keillor; TR: Tim Russell; SS: Sue Scott; TK: Tom Keith)


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.

TR: 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 Valentine's Day , five o'clock in the afternoon and I hadn't gotten any little cards in the mail or any shoved under my office door. (DOOR OPEN) I checked to see if there were any outside my door but there weren't. (DOOR CLOSE) I was hoping maybe Sugar would send me one, for old times' sake, but maybe she was too busy with her new boyfriend, Phil. Finally I put on my coat and was about to head for the Five Spot when (PHONE RING, PICKUP) Yeah, Noir here.

TR (ON PHONE): Is this Guy Noir the orthodontist?

GK: No, it's Guy Noir the private eye.

TR: Oh. Sorry. Thought this was the orthodontist.

GK: There's an orthodontist named Guy Noir?

TR: Yeah. My kids go to him. I was calling to see if I could change their appointment on Monday to something on Wednesday. Monday is President's Day. We were thinking of going skiing up north. It's been kinda warm, but - -- you know ---- they make snow at the slope. You see--- both my kids are into skiing. Kyle is 13, he won a junior boys' slalom championship last winter ---- well, I should say he tied for first ---- but it was pretty clear that he won it. I was there yelling my fool head off. Doris says to me, she says, "Roger, don't embarrass him," but ---- you know ---- hard not to get excited when it's your own kid out there. I like to go to all their ski meets. I say, they grow up so fast, you've got to enjoy them while you have them. Don't you think?

GK: Okay. Listen, I got to run, okay.....

TR: The older boy is more into cross-country. Kevin. He's fifteen. Real serious skier. Been skiing almost since he could walk. I've been thinking of sending him to a ski camp out in Utah for Easter break. Kind of pricey ---- I donno ---- sixteen hundred bucks for a week ---- I mean, we're not made of money --- but it's six days on the slope, instructors, food, lodging, and it includes airfare, I'm pretty sure ---- I think it does ---- just a minute ---- (OFF) HEY, DORIS, DOES THAT SIXTEEN-HUNDRED FOR THE SKI CAMP INCLUDE AIRFARE OR NOT?.......HUH?.......she's going to look at the brochure and see.....

GK: Okay, well, I've got to run. Good luck.

TR: She'll find out in just a minute.



GK: (PAUSE) Maybe you could call me back and let me know that.

TR: You want me to call you back?

GK: Yeah, why don't you do that.

TR: Call you back and let you know if that sixteen-hundred bucks includes airfare.

GK: Right.

TR: The ski camp in Utah.

GK: Exactly.

TR: The one I'm thinking of sending Kevin to.

GK: Right. I've got to run right now.

TR: Okay. I'll call you back.

GK: Good.

TR: Soon as I find that out, I'll let you know.

GK: Thanks. (MUSIC) I went out the door (DOOR CLOSE), feeling exhausted, and slipped around the corner to the Five Spot, which was empty (DOOR OPEN, JINGLES) (FOOTSTEPS) except for a tall woman at the bar. A woman in a black Italian leather jacket and a black silk blouse and $400 jeans. Very beautiful woman.

TR: Hey! Hiya, Guy. How's everything?

GK: Hiya, Jimmy.

TR: You been sick lately, Guy?

GK: I look that bad, huh? ---Say, who's the woman down at the end?

TR: You don't know her?

GK: I don't think so.

TR: Alicia St. John? The author?

GK: Alicia St. John! The author of The Department? The Teaching Assistant? Why, she's the biggest selling author in America today.

TR: That's her.

GK: What's she doing here?

TR: Maybe she came here to get away from all the acclaim of her countless admirers.

GK: Yeah. Maybe. (FOOTSTEPS, AND STOP) Hi there.

RD: Hi.

GK: The name is Noir. Guy Noir.

RD: The orthodontist?

GK: Detective.

RD: Oh.

GK: Just wanted to say that I am a major admirer of your work.

RD: Oh? really?

GK: The new one is terrific. The Instructor. It's just great. I loved where the young Ph.D. ---- Bambi Faulkner ---- the day after she's hired by the English Department at St. Ansgar, the chairman is killed off by the Mafia and then the head of the creative writing program is found dead in the faculty men's room, asphyxiated by a manuscript stuck in his throat, and Bambi figures out from patterns of word usage who the poet is, and he's a drug- dealing Colombian terrorist, and she nails him late one night in the library with a tube of Super Glue, and she goes to Italy on a Guggenheim. It's a real page-turner. I suppose it'll sell about three million copies and be made into a blockbuster movie like all the others, huh?

RD: I suppose so.

GK: You don't seem that thrilled about it.


TR: Here's your Scotch and soda, Guy. You care for another orange juice, ma'am?

RD: Yes. Please.

TR: Okay. (PHONE RING) Excuse me. (PICKUP) Five Spot, where the elite meet, Jimmy speaking. Who? Oh yeah, just a minute. ---- For you, Guy.

GK: Hello?


GK: Sugar! how are you? where are you?

SS: Home.....looking at four walls....where else?

GK: How's Phil?

SS: I don't know.

GK: You guys aren't seeing each other----

SS: We had a big fight.

GK: I'm sorry to hear that.

SS: I don't know why I'm telling you about it.

GK: Because you know I care, that's why.

SS: You? Boy, what a joke. (CLICK) Oh. Hold on. That's my Call Waiting. Maybe it's him. Be right back.

GK: (HUMMING TO HIMSELF) Sorry. I'm on Hold. Old girlfriend of mine. Ex-girlfriend actually. Anyway, you were saying----

RD: I'm tired of getting pounded by the critics. They go after me like coyotes after a wounded sheep. It hurts.

GK: So why read your reviews, Miss St. John? Why torture yourself? It's not a bad book. It's a thriller. About an English department. Like all your books. People like it. It'll sell millions of copies. Like all the others. What's the problem?

RD: That's just it----

GK: Just what?

RD: It's like all the others. Can't you see, Mr. Noir? I'm trapped on a treadmill, a prisoner of my own success, forced to keep meeting the expectations of my fans, unable to ever break loose and write what I want to write, a book that'd show the critics they're wrong about me----wrong, I tell you.

GK: Oh really. Interesting.

SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): Hi, I'm back.

GK: Oh hi. ----Excuse me, Miss St. John. ---- You okay, Sugar?

SS: Who are you there with, Guy?

GK: Just---- just somebody I ran into at the bar, that's all.

SS: Who is she?

GK: What makes you leap to the assumption that it's a woman?

SS: I know you, Guy.

GK: Okay, it is a woman.

SS: And she's young and beautiful and wearing great clothes and she's probably rich, isn't she---- Isn't she----

GK: Yes, she is.

SS: That's what you wanted all along, wasn't it, Guy---- rich and blond and beautiful----

GK: Sugar-----

SS: That's why you dumped me after all those years.

GK: Sugar, I didn't dump you. Listen to me-----

SS: (CLICK) Got another call---- hold on---- be right back.

GK: Gosh, I hate Call Waiting. It's so rude. Terrible invention.

RD: You on hold again?

GK: Yeah. ---- So what is it you're trying to prove to the critics, Miss St. John?

RD: I got a review in the New York Times that referred to my prose as "wooden".

GK: Wooden.

RD: It's been a stone in my shoe for two years now.

GK: Well, it all depends on how you feel about wood, doesn't it? I mean----

RD: I want to show them what I can do. I want to write a collection of critical essays on women writers called Nature and Nurture In American Literature.

GK: I see.

RD: I've finished one of the essays ---- The Plow and The Pleiades: Cosmic Aspects of Cultivation in Willa Cather's Nebraska ---- and I'm working on the others, but what's the point? I can never publish it.

GK: Why not?

RD: Because my publisher would print three million copies of it, and it'd shoot to No. 1 on the best-seller list, everyone would buy it, they'd read the first two paragraphs, and they'd never buy another book by me for the rest of their lives.

GK: Ah, the problems of the rich and famous. Listen, Miss St. John. Let me give you a word of advice.----- (PHONE BEEP) What's this phone beeping for, Jimmy?

TR: It's Call Waiting, Guy.

GK: Another call coming in?

TR: Yeah, just click the button and it puts whoever you got there on hold and you take the new call-----

GK: But it's Sugar and she's already got me on hold.

TR: So you put her hold on hold.

GK: I don't care for this. (CLICK) Hello?

TR (ON PHONE): Mr. Noir?

GK: Oh no. TR (ON PHONE): The sixteen hundred doesn't include airfare. I thought it did but it doesn't. Remember? The ski school in Utah? That I was going to send Kevin to?

GK: Listen. I got to put you on hold for just a second. (CLICK)


GK: Hi, Sugar.

SS (ON PHONE): Where were you?

GK: Taking another call. Was that Phil you were talking to?

SS: None of your business. I want to talk to that woman you're with.

GK: Oh Sugar....

SS: Hand the phone over to her. Or else I'm going to come down there.

GK: (SIGH) My ex-girlfriend wants to speak with you. Here----

RD: Hello? Sugar?

SS: Don't you "Sugar" me, you cheap little bar-hopping piece of trailer trash, you. I know what kind of a woman you are. Hanging around in bars in your tight pants and your blouse with the neckline down to your bellybutton trying to pick up any man you can find----- you oughta be ashamed of yourself. You leave him alone. (WEEPY) You hear me? He's mine. Maybe he thinks we broke up, but I don't. He's my guy. Hands off.

RD: Listen to me, lady. Bambi Faulkner is my name. And when I see what I want, I take it ---- whether you like it or not. I've always been drawn to older men with problem hair and if I decide I want this guy, there's nothing you or he can do about it. He's putty in my hands. So back off, Toots. (CLICK)

GK: Quite a performance, Miss St. John.

RD: It's a scene from my first book, The Department.

GK: You did it well.

RD: What was that advice you were offering, Mr. Noir?

GK: Listen. You should never ever read anything that anybody writes about you and never pay any attention to what people say about you, other than the ones who love you. It's good advice. Take it.

RD: Thanks for the tip. I've got to run. Got to catch a plane to Hawaii.

GK: Oh. You on a promotional tour?

RD: No, I have a house there. A house and an island. A little island. About four square miles. Called O-WHY.

GK: I see.

RD: There's nothing like a month in Hawaii when you're not feeling good about yourself.

GK: I'm sure. Well, feel better, Miss St. John.

RD: Thanks. You too. (FOOTSTEPS OFF)

TR: Here's the check, Guy.

GK: She left the check for me?

TR: Yeah.

GK: Sugar? are you still there? TR (ON PHONE): No, it's me. With airfare, the trip to Utah comes out to about twenty-two hundred.


SS: Where is she? That tramp of yours. Where'd she go? Is she in the women's room? (FOUR GUNSHOTS)

GK: Easy, Sugar. Easy. Easy.

SS: Where's that shameless hussy? (GUNSHOT, GLASS BREAKAGE) Oh. Sorry, Jimmy.

TR: No problem. I'll just add it to the bill.

GK: She's gone, Sugar. To Hawaii.

SS: Serves her right. How could you hang out with someone like that when you've got me, Guy? Huh? I'm just asking.

GK: Let me get you a beer, Sugar.


TR: 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)

© 1998 Garrison Keillor