(GK: Garrison Keillor, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith, TR: Tim Russell, AF: Al Franken)

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 December, two weeks before Christmas, and I was sitting in my office and brooding. Looking at dust bunnies the size of basketballs, one of which reminded me of the late Gabby Hayes. (PHONE RING, PICK UP) Guy Noir, Private Eye.

AF (ON PHONE): Mr. Noir, I'm interested in your video dating service. I'm looking for a date for Christmas, somebody who when I take her to my mother's house everybody will get very quiet for awhile.

GK: Listen, I don't run a dating service. Sorry.

AF (ON PHONE): Friend of mine said you found a wife for him.

GK: I find people, yes - I don't operate a -

AF (ON PHONE): So find me a date. I'd like a tall woman, with red hair and very bright red lipstick - who laughs a sort of a coarse laugh and who'll sit at the dinner table smoking foreign cigarettes in a holder and drinking a White Russian and talking about gender switching. A sort of Camille Paglia type.

GK: I don't know women like that.

AF (ON PHONE): If I could find a woman like that, nobody would ever give me a hard time about not coming home for Christmas again. I'd be off the hook forever.

GK: Look - this isn't my line.

AF (ON PHONE): Let me describe myself to you. I'm very good looking, dark wavy hair, average height, a muscular build, and I'm loaded.

GK: If I find someone I'll let you know.

AF (ON PHONE): And I'm calling from around the corner at the Five Spot. I'll wait here till you find someone.

GK: (SIGH) (MUSIC UNDER) So I called the only woman with bright lipstick and a coarse laugh I know, my ex-girlfriend Sugar, and she told me to get lost and why - it was a vicious message and she'd left it on her answering machine. I was devastated. I walked over to the Five Spot. (DOOR OPEN. JINGLE. DOOR CLOSE. FOOTSTEPS.) The guy was sitting at the bar. With a woman.

TR: Hey, Guy. How's it going?

GK: Hey, Jimmy. Not so bad. How's yourself?

TR: Oh, business is picking up with Christmas coming.

GK: You the fellow who called me a few minutes ago?

AF: Right. I meant to call you back.

GK: So you found a date?

AF: This is Camille. Camille Swendson.

SS (BREATHY): Hi, Guy.

AF: She was walking by as I hung up the phone. I said, "You want to go home with me on Christmas and talk about gender switching?" and she said sure. Heck, yes.

GK: Well, congratulations and happy holidays. I wouldn't describe that as wavy hair though.

AF: It gets flat when I wear a fur hat. It'll fluff up again in a minute.

GK: And if that's a muscular build I'd like to see what pudgy looks like.

AF: Not all muscles look alike. Some muscles are more relaxed.

TR: What can I get for you, Guy?

GK: A Vodka and Drano. I don't know -

SS (BREATHY): You seem distressed.

GK: Christmas. It'll do it to you everytime.

AF: Now I just need to figure out what to do with my parrot.

GK: Your parrot? Is that what's in that box?

SS (BREATHY): You have a parrot? Oh wow.

AF: You like parrots?

SS (BREATHY): I love parrots. And long walks on the beach. And reading Nietzche in my bikini. And gender switching.

AF: The parrot was a gift from my mother.

TR (PARROT): What are you doing sitting in a bar? you oughta be working late at the office. What's the matter with you?

GK: Some gift.

TR (PARROT): Lush! Boozer!

AF: She used to be sort of cute. She loved to watch reruns on TV. I'd come home and she'd say, "Lucy, you've got some 'splainin' to do." She was a big Desi Arnaz fan.

TR (PARROT): Babaloo. Babaloo.

AF: Then suddenly she started listening to Dr. Laura on the radio and she turned into the world's biggest noodge.

TR (PARROT): Look at you. You make me sick. Go home to your kids.

AF: I don't have any kids.

TR (PARROT): Of course, you don't. You're too selfish. That's why.

TR (JIMMY): How about I make the parrot a grasshopper or something.

AF: Very funny.

TR (JIMMY): It might shut her up.

GK: We could put her in the freezer and deprogram her.

TR (PARROT): Grow up. Get a life.

GK: I've heard of that working with birds.

TR (PARROT): Who cares what you think? You're stupid.

GK: It works in Minnesota, why not try it with a parrot?

TR (PARROT): You're talking like a complete idiot. Who's screening the calls around here?

AF: I think you're right.

GK: Open the freezer, Jimmy. (CREAK OF DOOR OPENING)

TR (PARROT): Hey! What are you doing? (THUD OF DOOR CLOSING)

GK: There. We'll just leave her in there for a couple minutes to think it over.

AF: What do you keep in the freezer?

TR: Oh, usual. Pop tarts. Chickens. Felafel. Fruitcakes.

AF: I thought I saw fruitcakes.

TR: I got about fifty of em in there. I take all the fruitcakes people give me for Christmas and I put em in the freezer for a year and I give them to people for presents.

GK: Interesting.

TR: Saves on the wear and tear, you know?

AF: You ever think maybe people're giving you the fruitcakes you gave them two years ago?

TR: Definitely. Some of these fruitcakes go way back.

GK: They could be decades old.

TR: After ten years I send em to a fruitcake landfill out in Utah.

AF: Thank goodness nobody ever eats them, or it could be a health problem.

TR: They're the perfect gift. Purely symbolic.

GK: I should give some to my rotten nephews - Georgina's kids - I tell you, it's disgusting the stuff they're expecting me to bring them for Christmas. Kids! All year you're an invisible person to them, they can't even say hello, and then Christmas comes and they're like poster children for the Nativity, their faces shining, their eyes full of wonder. Does 7-11 gift-wrap?

AF: Open up the freezer, Jimmy. Let's see how Zoe is doing.


SS: Is she okay?

GK: Wrap a towel around her. (PARROT SHIVERING AND SNEEZE)

SS: Can she still talk?

AF: Sure. She's just thawing out, is all.


AF: How you doing, Zoe?

TR (PARROT): You're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, people like you!

AF: Thanks.

TR (PARROT): But I gotta know one thing.

GK: What's that?

TR (PARROT): What did the chicken do?


SS: A dark night in the city that keeps its secrets, where one guy is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions. Guy Noir, Private Eye.


(c) 1998 by Garrison Keillor