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


SS: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But high above the quiet streets 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 one of those cold winter mornings when you swing out of bed and your feet touch the floor and right away you think of Nanook of the North (BLIZZARD) and seal blubber and the Old Ones leaving the igloo on their last lonely walk out across the ice floes. You shave and your skin is dry and scaly and you spoon your cold porridge and listen to the wind (WIND) and head for the bus, and you suddenly understand why the Soviets sent their troublemakers to Siberia. Cold makes a person docile. You just want to sleep. I stopped at Sid's sign-painting shop where Sid had painted me a new shingle.

TR: What do you think, Mr. Noir? "Guy Noir, Private investigation, notary public, grief counselling and seminars on Awakening the Inner You." Pretty nifty, huh?

GK: You spelled "counseling" with two L's, Sid.

TR: It doesn't have two L's?

GK: No. One L.

TR: Huh. Well, it'll be an attention-getter. People look at it, they think, "Hey. What the L?" Get it? (BRIDGE)

GK: I got to the office about noon, called over to Danny's Deli and ordered a pastrami on a Kaiser with mustard, and listened to my messages. (BEEP)

TK (ON TAPE): Mr. Noir, it's Hank Roper, from the Boy's Club -- thanks for coming over on Career Day and talking to the boys about detective work---- but some of the parents were upset about what you said about knocking people unconscious. If you could call and clear that up, I'd appreciate it. (BEEP)

TR (ON TAPE): Uh, Mr. Noir, this is Barry at Barry's Cleaners. We got that snack dip out of your cummerbund, and as we like to say, your garment now looks Barry Barry good. It's all ready so pick it up anytime. (BEEP)

SS (ON TAPE): Hi, Bob, it's me, just want you to know I'll be home in half an hour, babes. Heat up the hot tub and get naked. (BEEP)

GK: Some wrong numbers can be very cruel.

TR (ON TAPE): Bob, it's your agent, Harold. Listen ---- got good news, sweetheart ---- your reading of "The Wheels On The Bus Go Round and Round" won a Grammy award for Best Spoken Word. Congratulations. Love ya, sweetheart.

GK: I was thinking about going home and going back to bed, when ------(PHONE RINGS, PICK UP)

GK: Yeah, Guy Noir here.

TR: (ON PHONE) Mr. Noir?

GK: Yes, sir.

TR (ON PHONE): Mr. Noir, it's Ken Lay down in Houston. From End Run. The energy company.

GK: Oh, right. Kenny Boy. What's the problem?

TR (ON PHONE): Mr. Noir, I seem to have misplaced some papers. I need you to find them.

GK: Okay.

TR (ON PHONE): It's like this. I financed my company with millions of dollars I won from the Publishers' Clearing House. And now I can't find the certificates.

GK: Publishers Clearing House?

TR (ON PHONE): Got 'em in the mail and won millions of dollars.

GK: You sure it didn't say, "May have won"?

TR (ON PHONE): They had my name written all over em, Mr. Noir. In the energy business, that means the money's mine.

GK: Tell me, Mr. Lay --- was the lettering of your name substantially different from the lettering around it? Did it appear on a peel-off label?

TR (ON PHONE): What does that matter?

GK: Well, if you want my professional opinion----

TR (ON PHONE): You Democrats really resent success, don't you. You want keep everybody down at your level. It really eats at you to see some people get ahead in the world ---- isn't that right?

GK: Those certificates are worthless, Mr. Lay ----

TR (ON PHONE): (PAUSE) They are?

GK: Worthless. Take a look.

TR (ON PHONE): Well, how was I supposed to know that?

GK: Weren't you the CEO----?

TR (ON PHONE): I was pretty much removed from the day to day, Noir. I was pretty much focused on the big picture. This comes as a terrible shock to me. (WEEPING) And now as a result of the carelessness of others, my wife and I have to sell four of our five houses in Aspen. Four out of five. That's pretty tough, Buddy.

GK: My heart goes out to you, sir.

TR (ON PHONE): Can I ask you another question? Mr. Noir, can you get me on Oprah? No? How about Barbara Walters?

GK: I'm not in the entertainment business, sir.

TR (ON PHONE): I need to get my story out there, Mr. Noir.

GK: What is your story?

TR (ON PHONE): I don't know yet. I have people working on that. (MUSIC)

GK: He got to talking about how fond he was of Aspen and how hard it is to get along with only one house there. And while he was still going on---- (KNOCK AT THE DOOR) Excuse me, Mr. Lay. Somebody at the door. I'll get back to you. (HANG UP) Come in, the door's unlocked. (DOOR OPEN, CLOSE) (HIGH HEELS APPROACHING) (SEXY SAX)

GK: Oh my gosh. She was magnificent, tall, tan, with that look of hope and trust in her face that a guy appreciates so much. And that was just her face. The rest of her was such a piece of art that whoever designed it probably hadn't gone to Brigham Young. Though she certainly looked like the answer to a prayer. She had a pair of legs that would make a Baptist fall to his knees. Her dress was so tight there was no need to frisk her for weapons. She was clean. The sort of woman who a guy looks at and suddenly he has the IQ of a rhododendron.

SS: Mr. Noir? My name is Ann Thrope. I'm with Arthur Andersen.

GK: Well, he's a very very lucky guy, that's all I can say.

SS: The accounting firm ---- I'm an accountant, Mr. Noir. A C.P.A.

GK: Well, if you've come to do an audit, take as much time as you need, Miss Thrope----

SS: Thank you, but no----

GK: I don't have any accounts to audit, but I've got some Dave Brubeck albums. And a bottle of champagne. Out on the window ledge, imported all the way from northern Michigan. Chateau Escanaba.

SS: It's tempting, but I'll pass. You read the papers, Mr. Noir?

GK: Sure. Some parts more than others.

SS: No doubt you've read about the trouble at the End Run corporation.

GK: They've declared bankruptcy, right?

SS: Right. It got so bad that a guy walked into the lobby to change a $20 bill, and they made him a partner. Anyway, I was the lead accountant at End Run when the bad news hit, and it was such a shock, it caused near total memory loss on my part.

GK: I can imagine.

SS: I've forgotten everything, Mr. Noir. Where my car keys are, how to boil water, which documents I've shredded, and so forth.

GK: Well, I'm sure it'll come back to you, Miss Thrope. So you were the accountant in charge? You seem young for that sort of responsibility----

SS: Accounting has changed in the past ten years, Mr. Noir. It used to be that accountants were uptight guys with flinty eyes and a negative disposition who asked a lot of questions about every itty-bitty thing.

GK: And now?

SS: It's become a more welcoming sort of profession, Mr. Noir. Like the hospitality industry. We try not to stand in the way of a good time.

GK: We're talking about C.P.A.s???

SS: It stands for Completely Prostrate Amateurs. Anyway, I thought you might like to see this. (SOUND OF GUY CATCHING A HUGE FILE FOLDER IN HIS LAP)

GK: (GRUNTS) She threw an expanding file folder at me, the size of a concert accordion.

SS: It's all there. Memos, e-mails, faxes. Some memos you need to rub with lemon juice and hold up to a light bulb. It tells how End Run's management plundered company assets so they wound up with hundreds of millions in bonuses while their employees went away with bus fare and some felt tip markers.

GK: And you want me to do what with this?

SS: First, I want you to kiss me, Mr. Noir. (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)

GK: Ma'am---- Miss.---- (SHE LOCKS HER LIPS ON HIS) (MUSIC)

GK: And I felt a wave of heat as if I'd swallowed a Lava Lamp. A wave of vertigo washed over me, or vibrato, or Viagra, or whatever you call it. (KISSING SOUNDS, THEN POP)

SS: How was that, Mr. Noir?

GK: Usually I only accept cash or personal checks. But that'll do for a retainer, I guess.

SS: Good. I want you to take that file to the D.A., Mr. Noir, and cut a deal for me, so I can get off scot-free by turning in state's evidence. And then ---- you and I can head for Mexico, Mr. Noir. Just the two of us. I managed to set aside some money in the past few years and I bought a big home in Guadalajara and set up a nice trust fund.

GK: Let me think about it.

SS: Don't think too hard. I'll call you tomorrow, Mr. Noir. (HIGH HEELS, LEAVING) And she blew out the door like smoke, leaving me with the accordion. (PAPERS SHUFFLING) You didn't need to know much about double-entry bookkeeping to see that End Run had pulled so much wool over the eyes of its stockholders that they were more like sock holders. I headed over to Danny's Deli to pick up my sandwich. (BRIDGE)

TK (WENDELL): What's with all the papers, Mr. Noir?

GK: Ever hear of End Run?

TK (WENDELL): Isn't that some kind of diarrhea medicine?

GK: You're thinking of At Loose Ends. No, End Run is a big energy company.

TK (WENDELL): Oh, right. The one that stole the shorts off the shareholders.

GK: Exactly.

TK (WENDELL): You're not in cahoots with them, are you?

GK: I don't know, Wendell. I'm not sure where I stand. I'm under the influence of a very beautiful woman who's got a snootful of money and she wants me to come to Mexico with her and live a life of sin and debauchery, which, from a strictly ethical standpoint, is kinda shaky. What should I do, Wendell?

TK: Give her my phone number. I'm younger, I've got more to learn about debauchery. Anyway, here's your sandwich. (UNWRAP PAPER)

GK: I asked for pastrami on a Kaiser, Wendell. This is baloney on raisin bread. And instead of mustard you put Miracle Whip?

TK (WENDELL): I did the best I could.

GK: Maybe so, but----

TK (WENDELL): It's an imperfect world, Mr. Noir.

GK: I guess so. (MUSIC) I got back to the office and I was about to call the D.A. when----- (PHONE RING, PICK UP) Yeah, Guy Noir here.

TR (BUSH, ON PHONE): Mr. Noir, this is the leader of the Free World speaking----your Commander in Chief?

GK: Yes, Mr. President.

TR (BUSH): How you doing today?

GK: Just fine, Mr. President.

TR (BUSH): I'll come right to the point, Mr. Noir.

GK: Yes, sir----

TR (BUSH): We are in a war right now, Mr. Noir. A war against evil, an axel of evil, that is doing its darnedest to destroy our entire way of life and force us to wear long robes and turbans and eat goat meat and yogurt-type things and right now they are attempting to undermine confidence in this country's accounting firms and our corporate leadership, and that's why we have to be very careful. Now there are folks in the energy business down in Houston, folks who I used to know and now I can't say that I recall their names exactly, just as I don't remember yours and don't remember if I called you and if I did, why---- just as I have no idea whatsoever what's in that accordion file on your desk, but I think it'd be a good idea if somebody came around to pick it up and take it off your hands, because if you don't, bad things are going to happen, let me tell you. Do the words "military tribunal" mean anything to you? Do you know what it's like to just ---- disappear? Ask Al Gore. It's no fun. Now you put those files down on the floor and you head for the door and go down to the Five Spot for a few beers or some other memory-altering beverage, and don't look back, good buddy, and thank you so much for your help, I appreciate it.


TR (JIMMY): That's some story, Guy. So what happened to Ann Thrope, the whistle blower?

GK: She went to Washington and I hear she's been hired by Congress to advise the Congressional committee that's investigating the role of Congress in this whole End Run scandal.

TR (JIMMY): Figures.

GK: She was the woman of my dreams and it was my one chance to go to Mexico this winter, but when the President asked me as a matter of national security to drop the thing, I did. So I blew it.

TR (JIMMY): Want a margarita?

GK: No, just a martini with a soybean, Jimmy.

TR (JIMMY): Coming right up. (OFF) Maybe you could go to Mexico with the governor.

GK: The governor's going to Mexico?

TR (JIMMY): Next week. Going to Cancun to promote Minnesota as a winter vacation spot.

GK: You gotta be kidding.

TR (JIMMY): Nope. St. Paul is now a vacation destination in February. They say there's three hundred folks in town right now. For the weekend. Came from back east, down South, California, all over.

GK: Huh. Maybe they're accountants.


SS: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But high above the quiet streets 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.

© Garrison Keillor 2002