(GK: Garrison Keillor, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith, TR: Tim Russell, RD: Rich Dworsky)

TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but high above the quiet streets, on the twelfth 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 October, the leaves were falling and I was feeling none too steady myself. I'd been over to the Five Spot for lunch.

TR (JIMMY): What's wrong, Guy? You look all worried or something.

GK: It's the election, Jimmy. It's got me spooked. Think about having a President who hasn't had a drink for ten years and he still can't speak English.

TR (JIMMY): Yeah, I suppose, but then think about having a President who goes around in a turtleneck and tries to act normal----

GK: Yeah.

TR (JIMMY): Watching Al Gore try to act normal is like watching you dance ---- it's nothing I care to look at, frankly.

GK: Hey. I'm a good dancer.

TR (JIMMY): When was the last time you watched yourself do it----

GK: Well, you got a point.

TR (JIMMY): And what's the big deal about prescription drugs anyway? I don't get it.

GK: Well, it's a big issue for George W. too. He and his father are both on medications, you know.

TR (JIMMY): I didn't know that.

GK: Yeah. It's called a syntax inhibitor.

TR (JIMMY): Get out of here.

GK:(BRIDGE) I went back to the Acme Building and watered my plant and looked through the junk mail and checked the messages on my machine----


SS (SUGAR): Guy, this is Sugar ---- listen, about the money you owe me----- (FAST FORWARD)

TR (BILL COLLECTOR): Mr. Noy-er, it's Todd at the bank. Hate to be a pest, but your checking account is a little lop-sided and we're going to have to take back the free toaster...(FAST FORWARD)

TK (JOWLY MAN): Mr. Noir, it's Bud Whipple here at Gulf Coast Condos. You could be the winner of $1000 worth of aluminum siding just for taking a look at our luxurious condominiums in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida...(FAST FORWARD)

GK: And then---- a guy who sounded like a client....


TR (VOICE ON MACHINE): Hi. This is Svend Borgen here. Got a dairy farm up near Chisago City. Got a problem up here with my Holsteins. Sooo, if you're not too busy, maybe you could give me a jingle? Appreciate it. Bye now. (BRIDGE)

GK: I drove up to Chisago City and met Mr. Borgen at a local restaurant called La Bovine, (CAFE AMBIANCE)-----

TR (SVEND): This place is famous for its cheese dishes. They got a real nice sushi melt----

GK: No thanks.

TR (SVEND): Or herring blintzes?

GK: I don't think so.

TR (SVEND): The toasted cheese and chicken sandwich?

GK: I'm not that hungry.

TR (SVEND): How about some dessert? They've got a hot feta cheese sundae.

GK: Think I'll pass. What can I do for you, Mr. Borgen?

TR (SVEND): It's like this. In the past three months, we've had sixteen Holsteins suffering sprained ankles, Mr. Noir.

GK: Accidents?

TR (SVEND): I don't think so. We kinda think somebody's been tripping them. Look at this....

GK: A cigarette butt with lipstick markings.

TR (SVEND): Found it in a feedlot.

GK: Interesting. Let's head out to your place and have a look. (BRIDGE. CAR SLOWING DOWN) I rode with Svend in his pickup and as we pulled in the driveway (DOG RUNNING ALONGSIDE, BARKING) a giant dog came loping alongside, saliva dripping from its lips.

TR: Don't worry about him. His bark is worse than his bite.

GK: I've heard that before. Sorry.

TR: What you got there?

GK: It's a rubber ball soaked with Prozac. It's called Balzac. Here, Pooch. (HE THROWS. DOG RUNS OFF, WOOFING). It calms the nerves.


TR: The cows are down this way.... (COWS MOOING IN DISTANCE)

GK: Nice place you got here.

TR: Thanks. It's been ranked four-star by the Dairy Association.


TR: These are the studio stalls over here. And these are the junior suites.

GK: Very elegant.

TR: Yeah, dairy farming sure has changed since I was a boy. We use mood lighting and Mozart to increase milk output.

GK: I'm sure.

TR: These are our new hazelnut Holsteins. (MOO) The flavor is bred right into the cow.

GK: Very handsome.

TR: This is Hazel. (MOO)

GK: Very intelligent looking cow. (MOO)

TR: She's the shop steward. (COW BELLOW)

GK: How come she's limping?

TR: She tripped over something the other day. Sprained her ankle.

GK: You got her working out on a Stairmaster?

TR: Someone strung trip wire across the pasture, Mr. Noir. Someone who wants us out of business! The cows have been traumatized. We've had to put them in counseling.

GK: Counseling? How does that work?

TR: Well, first of all, you need a really big couch. (STING)

GK: Hazel had something shiny stuck to her hoof. I picked it off. It was a charm bracelet. (JEWELRY JINGLE) Pure gold with gemstones in each charm. Hmmmm. A pro with a penchant for precious pellets. (BRIDGE) I headed for town. To the newsroom of the Zenith Gazette. (AMBIANCE, OFFICE, BUSY). I was looking for the woman who put the urinal into journalism.


SS (HARD-EDGED GUM-CHEWING REPORTER): What you looking for, Noir? You want to place a Personals Ad, try two floors down. Want Ads.

GK: Well, if it isn't Susie Q, girl reporter. I'm here about some cows. Holsteins.

SS: H-o-l-s-t----

GK: I know how it's spelled. I didn't come for the spelling. Know anything about sprained ankles?

SS: Take your weight off it. Apply a cold compress.

GK: I'm talking about cow tripping.

SS: Cow tripping! You mean hippies taking hallucinogens and looking at Holsteins?

GK: No. I'm talking about Holsteins tripping over wires and spraining their ankles. Look at this. A charm bracelet and the charms are vegetables. Carrots, broccoli, string beans, tomatoes....

SS: Interesting. (JEWELRY JINGLE) This isn't cut glass, you know. It's the real McCoy. Rubies, diamonds.

GK: Really.

SS: The carrot has real karats. And look. On the back. It says, V.E.G.

GK: V.E.G.?

SS: Vegan Emergency Group.

GK: Those terrorists-----

SS: The ones who chain themselves to meat counters. Whoever belongs to this bracelet is a lady with an agenda.

GK: Like who?

TK: Hey. Where's the story?

SS: I'm working on it, Bulldog.

TK: The early edition goes to press in twenty minutes.

SS: So relax. I type fast. ---- I gotta run, Noir. Beat it.

GK: Thanks for the tip, Susie Q. (TYPING RESUMES)

TK: Move it, gumshoe. We got a newspaper to put out. (FOOTSTEPS)

GK: Awright. Awright.(BRIDGE)

GK: I took the charm bracelet over to Pierre St. Pierre, gemologist to the Mob----

TR (FRENCH): Very beautiful. Very magnifique. And tres expensive. But it is not one belonging to the boys----

GK: The boys?

TR (FRENCH): Gino, Rocco, Rico, Chico---

GK: It belongs to somebody who's got a thing about vegetables.

TR (FRENCH): Oui. Certainment.

GK: You know who?

TR (FRENCH): I may.

GK: You made this bracelet, didn't you.

TR (FRENCH): Oui, monsieur.

GK: Who for?

TR (FRENCH): I never reveal the name of a customer.

GK: There's a bottle of Deligny-Montrachet in it for you, pal----a 1988----

TR (FRENCH): Ever hear of Lois DeLeche?

GK: The heiress to the DeLeche Deluxe Salad Dressing fortune?

TR (FRENCH): Exactement. The very one.

GK: She operates that Vegan nightclub, right?

TR (FRENCH): The Copa Banana. (BRIDGE)

GK: I headed for the Copa Banana, down by the Farmers Market. I walked in and (ROOM AMBIANCE) who should I see at the door but a familiar figure in a double-breasted suit with a suspicious bulge ----

TR (DEEP VOICE): Evening, Mr. Noir.

GK: Basil----

TR: This is a vegetarian joint, Mr. Noir. We don't let hot dogs like you in here...

GK: It's a free country, Basil.

TR: Maybe. Maybe not. Who you looking for?

GK: I'm here to see Lois DeLeche.

TR: The big boss, huh? Well, make sure you behave yourself. I'm watching you, Noir. (BRIDGE, NIGHTCLUB MUSIC. CROWD NOISE.)

GK: It was a dive like a lot of dives. Lost souls looking for heaven in the bottom of a wheat grass shot. Women trading their virtue for an orange smoothie with a ginseng chaser. And then I saw her. Lois DeLeche. (SEXY SAX) She had long blonde hair that fell down on her shoulders like a waterfall. A waterfall that any man would gladly have gone over. She wore a shimmering white evening gown, low cut. The last time I saw cleavage like that, I was standing at the San Andreas Fault.

SS (LOIS DELECHE): Noir ---- what a pleasure. It's been years.

GK: Nice joint you got, Lois.

SS: Ha. What would you know? This is a home for my people, Noir. A shelter in the storm for the lactose intolerant.

GK: No milk of human kindness here, eh? (SLAP ON FACE)

SS: Don't make fun of me. I struggled with lactose intolerance for years, Noir. Doctors told me I was depressed. Told me I needed therapy. Needed medication. Then I found out the truth. Dairy products are pure poison. Poison, I tell you. What are you grinning at me for? Huh?

GK: Hey. I love you. You're the cream in my coffee. (FACIAL SLAP)

SS: I went through torment for years. Thought it was my own fault. Then I met the enemy. And it was a Holstein cow. Some people are anti-smoking, I'm anti-milking.

GK: So. Sounds like you know which side your bread is buttered on. (FACIAL SLAP)

SS: Get out of my club, Mr. Noir, or I'll have you thrown out.

GK: Sure. But first---- I brought you this. Your bracelet, I believe.(JEWELRY JINGLE)

SS: Where'd you find this?

GK: I was hoping you'd tell me.

SS (LOIS): So? I visited a dairy farm. So what?

GK: Let me tell you something, Lois. Holsteins are sacred cows in Minnesota. You hurt Holsteins and you're going to be doing time. You can trip nuns, you can trip elderly Lutheran schoolteachers, and you get off with a hundred hours of community service ---- but you go after Holsteins, and you're going to be sent up the river doing two-to-five. And there's no vegan menu in the Big House. Believe me.

SS: Get out of here.

GK: And you're wrong: dairy products are absolutely necessary. Without cheese curds, a person loses his whey.

SS: I despise puns. Basil----

TR: Yeah, what you want, Lois?

SS: Throw this meatball outta here.

TR: Gladly.

GK: Not so fast, pal.

TR: C'mon, gumshoe. Move it.

GK: Don't make me hurt you, mister.

TR: You? Hurt me? Ha. (HE LAUGHS)

GK: Okay. You leave me no choice. (HE WINDS UP. SWINGS. METAL CLANG.) Ooooohhhhhh. You been working out, ain't ya. Ouch.

TR: Whadja do that for, Noir?

GK: I donno. I saw somebody do it in a movie once, I guess.

TR: Look what you done. You wrinkled my jacket. Why you------ (HE WINDS UP FOR A PUNCH)----

SS: Basil! Behind you!!!

TR: What? (MOO)

GK: It's a cow. On crutches. And she seems to recognize the both of you.(MOO) Hazel? This is Lois and this is Basil. You remember them? (AFFIRMATIVE MOO) I thought so.

SS: You'll never make it stand up in court, quadriped!

GK: We'll see about that. (BRIDGE) I put Hazel on a bus back to the farm. (COW BELL AND COW HOOVES) Take care of yourself and keep your weight off it for awhile, okay? And the lawyer'll call you in a few weeks. (MOO) Right. Your counsel. (BRIDGE) And I headed over to the Five Spot. (DOOR OPEN, JINGLE, CLOSE.)

TR (JIMMY): Hey, Guy, how's it going?

GK: Not so bad, Jimmy. How is it with you?

TR (JIMMY): Not bad. Except you smell bad.

GK: I was out in the country.

TR (JIMMY): You step in something?

GK: I don't know.

TR (JIMMY): You smell like you been hanging out with cattle.

GK: So what if I have?

TR (JIMMY): You want a stall, we got one in the men's room.

GK: The bar is fine, thanks.

TR (JIMMY): What can I get for you?

GK: How about a creme de cacao?

TR (JIMMY): A what?

GK: On second thought....how about a vodka and orange juice and milk of magnesia.

TR (JIMMY): Okay. One Phillips screwdriver, coming up. (OFF, MIXING) So what you been up to?

GK: Same old thing. Just trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions.


SS: A dark night in the city that knows how to keep its secrets, but a light shines brightly on the 12th floor of the Acme Building -- Guy Noir, Private Eye.... (THEME UP AND OUT)

(c) 2000 by Garrison Keillor