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


TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but high above the empty 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 one of those beautiful warm sunny afternoons that comes out of nowhere in November, when you're all braced for winter, and suddenly it's 70 degrees out there. It made you sort of nervous. It was a jittery time in America, which meant more employment for me ---- I had a new business card, Guy Noir Security Services, and I'd been hired to stand outside Danny's Deli in the afternoon and eyeball the clientele ----

TR (DANNY): I wantcha ta look for forners.

GK: Foreigners?

TR (DANNY): Anybody what got that forn look about em. That sneaky look they got.

GK: So I just stand by the door and look for people who don't make eye contact----
TR (DANNY): Exackly.

GK: And what do I do then?

TR (DANNY): Ask for their Ids. Pitcher Ids.

GK: Okay? And what then?

TR (DANNY): Search their briefcases. Their bags, backpacks, whatever they got.

GK: Okay. And what am I looking for----

TR (DANNY): Anything of a suspicious nature. Any foreign objects.

GK: Such as?

TR (DANNY): Anything that you don't know right away what it is.

GK: Okay. So you want me to be on the lookout for strangeness.

TR (DANNY): Exackly.

GK: Okay, but it's going to cost you. This is dangerous work, security. I get double pay. Two hundred a day plus a corned beef on a Kaiser roll, extra mustard, hold the lettuce.

TR (DANNY): We're out of corned beef. How about a cheese samwich? (BRIDGE)

GK: Everybody's so scared of contamination these days, there was an article in the paper telling how to blow your nose. People are afraid to lick a stamp. It's getting so you can't get into a package of gum without a jackhammer. My phone kept ringing all day. (PHONE RING, PICK UP) Yeah, Noir here.

TK (ON PHONE): Listen, I'm supposed to go to Chicago for Thanksgiving, so I got myself a ticket on the train, and now I'm reading all about terrorists and Amtrak. Something about letters coming in the mail and Amtrak.

GK: Sir, that's anthrax.

TK (ON PHONE): I mean, the trains have been carrying mail for years----

GK: That's anthrax, sir.
TK (ON PHONE): That's what I said. Amtrak.

GK: Sir, do you read the paper?

TK (ON PHONE): No, I get all my news from radio call-in shows.

GK: Take a glance at a newspaper someday.

TK (ON PHONE): Okay, but I don't get what's going on with Amtrak.

GK: Don't worry about it. (BRIDGE) And then late one night the phone rang and I answered and there was a familiar voice at the other end. My ex-girlfriend. Sugar.

SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): Hi Guy, remember me?

GK: Hi, doll. What you up to?

SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): Not much. Just lying around.

GK: Well, how about I come over and we could lie around together?

SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): And do what?

GK: Not much.

SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): Sounds like old times, Guy.

GK: Yeah.

SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): I was thinking about you the other day.

GK: Oh?

SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): I was watching "Double Indemnity" on the movie channel and there was Fred MacMurray and he reminded me of you.

GK: You saw Fred MacMurray in a movie and you thought of me? You sure you're not thinking of Fred Mertz? Maybe Edward G. Robinson?

SS (SUGAR): No, it was Fred MacMurray. Something about that twinkle in his eye. And I just thought, Hey, it's been months since I talked to him, why not give him a jinglef.

GK: Well, I'm glad you did, Sugar.

SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): Are you? After all the terrible things I said?

GK: All of them richly deserved, I'm sure.

SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): You're not mad at me for calling you a big fat weasel?

GK: Not at all. Not at all.

SS: You're not mad at me for saying that when you go shopping, the only thing they have in your size is the dressing room?

GK: No, it was very droll.

SS: How about when I said you had more chins than the San
Francisco phone book?

GK: I found it very humorous.

SS: Gee, I thought for sure you'd be holding a grudge, but I guess you're too BIG for that. Hahaha. (BRIDGE)

GK: We talked about maybe getting together for lunch one of these days, but the thought of being an obese weasel made me want to not see her for a few weeks until I could lose some weight. I read somewhere that a diet of low-fat dry cat food can help you shed pounds fast. (BRIDGE, OUTDOOR CITY AMBIENCE, PASSERS BY ON SIDEWALK) I went over to Danny's Deli to stand guard during the lunch hour.

TK (TEEN): Hi, Mr. Noir. Here's your security badge. And your walkie-talkie. Here's the talk switch right here.

GK: I see. Who do I talk to on it?

TK (TEEN): We only got one walkie-talkie.

GK: I see.

TK (TEEN): It's just to give you an air of authority.

GK: Okay, thanks, Wendell. ---- Excuse me, sir.


GK: Let me see some identification, please. And I'm going to have to look inside that bag. (RUSSIAN) It'll only take a minute. Excuse me, sir---- could you wait here---- (TR FRENCH) I'm checking identification, please. And kindly open up your briefcase for me. (FRENCH) I'm sorry, I'm just doing my job. And if you have a laptop computer, take it out and boot it up, please. Sir? Excuse me, sir. (TR ITALIAN) If you could just wait a moment, behind this gentleman, please. (ITALIAN) We're checking identification, please. And open up the backpack, too, okay? (ITALIAN) I understand you're in a hurry. We're all in a hurry. I'll get to you in just a moment. Sir---- excuse me---- (TR SWEDISH) I'm sorry, what? (TR SWEDISH) No, you go right in. (SWEDISH) Go right ahead, sir. (MUSIC BRIDGE) Just then, a woman walked toward me, the sun shining behind her, a nimbus of light around her. (SEXY SAX) As a silhouette, she was pure art. She could have been painted by Monet cause she sure made an impression on me.

SS: Hi. Is this the delicatessen?

GK: It is. First, I'm going to need some identification, though. Something with your address and home phone number on it.

SS: Oh. Well, let me see--- (SHE RUMMAGES IN PURSE. BRIDGE)

GK: She was radiant. Not a speck of makeup, but who needs to paint the peacock? She wore a T-shirt with an American flag emblazoned across the front, and I could swear that flag was waving. And her jeans. They were so tight I could practically read the dates on the coins in her front pocket. She really put the "tall" in the femme fatale. She looked like a funnel cloud out looking for a trailer park.

SS: I'm afraid I don't have any identification.

GK: That's okay. We'll just go to your place and look around for it. Maybe you left it in one of your drawers.

SS: I must have left it at the gym. I just finished my Pilates class. That's why I'm all flushed and sweaty.

GK: Ah. Then I shouldn't take it personally----

SS: I need to go in the deli ---- I'm looking for someone ---- I heard he was in there ---- a detective, named Guy Noir-----

GK: You're looking at him.

SS: Oh. (PAUSE) Somehow I thought you'd be younger.

GK: This is a disguise. I'm undercover. Working for the A.A.R.P. Trying to break up a vitamin scam. What can I do for you? Miss----

SS: Smitten.

GK: Miss Smitten.

SS: Hope Leslie Smitten.

GK: What a beautiful name. What can I do for you?

SS: Is there someplace we could go to talk? Someplace quiet? (BRIDGE)

GK: I was going to suggest a meadow of daisies beside a babbling brook, but it was November. So we went to my office. ---- Have a chair, Miss Smitten. And tell me how I can help?

SS: It's like this, Mr. Noir. I have this boyfriend who is a wonderful person. He's kind and generous and loving and smart and he's crazy about me, but we have this problem.

GK: And you've come for professional advice. That's good.

SS: Our problem is that we argue over the tiniest, most trivial things.

GK: Small arguments may be the vehicle of deep underlying hostility. I think it's something to take seriously...

SS: Like, last night, we were arguing about this movie we saw the night before last..."Double Indemnity"

GK: Uh huh.

SS: And I said that Broderick Crawford was in it and he said Edward G. Robinson.

GK: I see.

SS: So which of us is right, Mr. Noir?

GK: Well, I'm not that familiar with the picture. Maybe Joan Crawford is who you're thinking of ---- maybe you're confusing her with Barbara Stanwyck.

SS: No, I distinctly remember that scene where Broderick Crawford looks at F. Murray Abraham and he says, "Drop your boodle or I'll pop you one in the moolah."

GK: I don't recall that.

SS: And boodle means revolver, right?

GK: You're probably thinking of bulldog. A bulldog is a word for a revolver. Or your roscoe. Your gat, your piece. The old hogleg. The equalizer.

SS: Not your boodle?

GK: No, boodle would refer to money, wealth. Green stuff. Cabbage. Do-re-mi. Moolah.

SS: So moolah doesn't mean your nose?

GK: No, you're thinking of your muzzle. That's your nose. Your snout, your snoot, your beezer, your schnozz.

SS: So I was wrong about Broderick Crawford saying, "Drop your boodle or I'll pop you one in the moolah."

GK: Well, I don't know---- maybe he did in some other movie----

SS: I feel so stupid. I've been so unfair to Kevin.

GK: Well, I mean this is not----

SS: I've been such a fool. How can I ever make it up to you, my darling? (FAST FOOTSTEPS)

GK: Well, if you'd just ---- (DOOR SLAM.) And she was gone. I sat in the empty office and inhaled her perfume until it was all gone, and then I pulled the blinds and headed over to the Five Spot. (DOOR OPEN, JINGLE, CLOSE. FOOTSTEPS)

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

GK: Oh, about the same, Jimmy.

TR (JIMMY): Sorry to hear it. What can I get for you? The usual?

GK: I'd like a glass of celery juice.

TR (JIMMY): Celery juice. Okay.

GK: I'd like a glass of celery juice and then I'd like you to distract me and grab the juice without me noticing and throw it down the sink and secretly put in about three ounces of gin and a breath of vermouth and an olive and put it down here and see if I can tell the difference.

TR: You got it. ---

GK: I've been thinking about retiring, Jimmy. (GLASSWARE) I'm at that stage in life where I've seen it all, done it all, can't remember most of it.

TR: Oh yeah? What would you do in retirement?

GK: I donno. Maybe move to New Mexico. Start a new career as a mystic.
Maybe I'd be good at it. I'm not doing that well at rationalism.

TR: So why don't you try it?

GK: Well, I think, What would the world ever do without me here in my place doing all the things I do? And the answer to that question is kind of frightening.

TR: Yeah. I know what you mean. One good reason not to retire: to preserve the illusion of usefulness. Here's your celery juice.

GK: Thanks. Looks good.

TR: Who is that walking past the window? Is that Rita Hayworth? It is.

GK: Where? Who you talking about?

TR: Across the street. The lady by the lamppost. (POURING GIN FROM BOTTLE) In the tan raincoat. Mailing the letter.

GK: The one with the red scarf?

TR: Yeah. And the wire-haired terrier.

GK: That's not a wire-haired terrier. (MARTINI SHAKER) That's a miniature schnauzer.

TR: If that's a miniature schnauzer, then I'm Cary Grant.

GK: That sure is no wire-haired terrier. (POURING INTO GLASS) And I'm afraid that's not Rita Hayworth. Anyway---- what were we talking about? Hey. Good celery juice. Thanks for putting an olive in it.

TR: You're welcome.

GK: Mind if I use the phone, Jimmy?

TR: Be my guest.



GK: Hello. Is this Barbara? Barbara Stanwyck?


GK: It's Fred MacMurray, Barbara.

SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): What can I do for you, Fred?

GK: I'm just an insurance salesman, kiddo, but I'm a sucker for a platinum blonde with a lot of lipstick who goes in for tight white sweaters and a skirt that shows a little leg now and then.

SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): Let me see what I got in my closet. You on your way, big stuff?

GK: Soon as I toss back a celery juice, I'm there, sweetheart.

SS (SUGAR, ON PHONE): I'll leave the light on.

GK: You do that.

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

© Garrison Keillor 2001