(GK: Garrison Keillor; SS: Sue Scott: TR: Tim Russell, TK:Tom Keith; RD: Rich Dworsky)
TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But high above the empty 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. (MUSIC UP AND UNDER)
GK: It was one of those cold winter days when everything goes wrong from the start. I got out of bed, got in the shower, the hot water knob fell off. Put on my shirt, a button fell off. I went to make coffee, the handle of the carafe came off. It made me hesitate to go to the toilet and take a leak. On my way out, the landlady, Madame Dufarge, gave me a hard time, as usual.
SS (MADAME): Your snoring last night. It sounded like Omaha Beach.
SS (MADAME): It sounded like you were underwater. Setting off depth charges. And the smell------. Next time leave a window open. (BRIDGE)
GK: I got to the office about noon and called over to Danny's Deli for a thin sliced beef on whole-wheat sandwich.
TK (WENDELL, ON PHONE): Beef on whole wheat. Gotcha.
GK: And slice it thin.
TK (WENDELL, ON PHONE): "Slice thin" ---- I'm writing it down.
GK: Good. And I'd like the Dijon mustard with that.
TK (WENDELL, ON PHONE): The what?
GK: Never mind. Mustard. Heavy on the mustard.
TK (WENDELL, ON PHONE): You want the Dijon or the regular?
TK (WENDELL, ON PHONE): Have it ready in ten minutes, Mr. Noir. (BRIDGE)
GK: I listened to my messages, kind of hoping that I'd find an offer of employment, some sign of interest-----. (BEEP)
SS: Mr. Noir, it's Patty Norwood at Patty's Party Pavilion. According to our records, you still owe us for a birthday party two years ago ---- the one with the dancers who wore the balloons? Remember? Call me. (BEEP)
TR: Mr. Noir, it's Roger, your accountant. Just working on your tax return and I can't help but notice that all these receipts you sent me --- they all seem to be in your handwriting. And you listed Jack Daniels and Jose Cuervo as dependents. I don't think that's going to fly. By the way, the guy from the IRS dropped by today to ask about you. Claude. Skinny guy, deep set eyes, face sort of pock-marked. Said he's going to drop in and talk to you soon. (BEEP)
TK: Yeah. It's Bob. Your barber. Listen, I meant to tell you when you were in here yesterday, but I forgot. I found crop circles cut into the back of your head. Could be aliens or just some pranksters. Anyhow, check it out. (BEEP)
GK: I checked and sure enough. There were markings back there, like hieroglyphs. Kind of disconcerting, but------ (DOOR KNOCKS) Come on in, the door's open. (DOOR OPEN, FOOTSTEPS) Oh. Who are you?
TR: Why do you ask?
GK: What do you mean?
TR: Who are you, asking people who they are?
GK: So what can I do for you?
TR: You Guy Noir?
TR: You're Guy Wright?
GK: No, he's on eight.
GK: Guy Wright.
TR: What do I need him for?
GK: I don't know. He's a periodontist.
TR: Do I look like I need a periodontist?
GK: How would I know? Smile and I'll tell you.
TR: You Guy Noir?
GK: Why not?
TR: Then why not just come out and say so?
GK: Why is it you always answer a question with a question?
TR: You got a problem with that?
GK: Could you please say one simple declarative sentence?
TR: What'll you give me if I do?
GK: You here to make trouble?
TR: You looking for trouble?
GK: What did I do to deserve this?
TR: You want me to answer that?
GK: Would you get out of here?
TR: Are you throwing me out?
GK: You want to find out?
TR: Am I supposed to care?
GK: Why do people get like this at the end of winter? Why? Why do this to me?
TR: What's so special about you?
GK: Did you come here to see me about something?
TR: Why else would I come? For my health?
GK: Can you just tell me what you want?
TR: Are you going to give me a chance to?
GK: What put you into this mood, mister?
TR: What mood?
GK: You don't think this is hostile behavior?
TR: Wouldn't you feel that way if somebody had stolen your dog?
GK: Your dog's been stolen?
TR: Is there an echo in here?
GK: When was your dog stolen?
TR: What's it to you?
GK: You want me to find your dog?
TR: What makes you think you could?
GK: What's the big deal about finding a dog?
TR: You ever find a stolen dog before?
GK: Would it matter if I had?
TR: You don't think it matters?
GK: You want me to look for your dog or not?
TR: You mind my asking a few questions first? What are you trying to hide?
GK: Are you paranoid or what?
TR: Why not answer my question?
GK: What's your question?
TR: You really want to know?
GK: You planning to tell me?
TR: You know what your problem is?
GK: What are we talking about?
TR: Why ask me?
GK: Get outta here. Beat it. I'm sick of you. (DOOR SLAM) I don't know why, but some people have a mission in life to be as difficult as they possibly can and cause as much irritation as----- (KNOCKS ON DOOR) Yeah, come in, the door's unlocked. (DOOR OPEN)
GK: And then there are other people whose mission is to cause wildly unrealistic hopes........(SEXY SAX) She walked into my office and the way she walked was sort of what Bizet had in mind when he wrote "Carmen." She walked in and sat down on a chair and she was so beautiful, she made you swallow your gum. Even though you hadn't been chewing any. If brevity is the soul of wit, then the spandex halter top she was wearing was positively hilarious. ---- What can I do for you, kid? And don't hesitate to think big.
SS: My name is Belinda Peters, Mr. Noir, and I've come because my boss, Dr. Clatch, is missing. I think he's been kidnapped!
GK: I've read about him. He's the research chemist at Larceny Pharmaceuticals. The one who came up with that new drug, Clarabell. The one that makes middle-aged men grow up and stop acting like clowns.
SS: That's right. We've been testing it locally.
GK: I noticed ------ it's been pretty quiet over at the State Capitol lately. So when did you last see Dr. Clatch, Miss Peters?
SS: He was on his way to a 7-11 to pick up a few boxes of Corn Noogies.
GK: Dr. Clatch eats Corn Noogies?
SS: He was experimenting with a new drug called the Weight-A-Minute Pill. You take this pill and wait one minute, and then you can eat anything and never gain any weight.
GK: That's a drug that a lot of people would like to get their big fat hands on.
SS: I'm afraid he was abducted by someone who wants to get the Weight-a-Minute formula. And that he's being tortured even now as we speak. (WEEPY) Please, Mr. Noir. Find him. I'll do anything to make it worth your while. Anything at all.
GK: Very generous of you, Miss Peters. Hard to turn down an offer like that. (BRIDGE) She showed me Dr. Clatch's laboratory at Larceny Pharmaceuticals and (RUMMAGE, CELLOPHANE) there were a lot of bags of junk food. Cheese Binkies. Pizza Toes. Potato Zippers, a bag of Onion Dorkies, Pepper Pom Poms, Pork Shingles, and some Dixie Dum Dums.
SS: These were all part of his experiment. He took a dose of Weight-A-Minute and then ate bags and bags of chips and pretzels and all the rest, to see if he gained any weight.
SS: Dr. Clatch never lost his boyish figure. He was slender and beautiful. He had the body of a swimmer.
GK: Guys like that often turn out to be obsessive-compulsive. You want to stay away from that type of guy. (MUSIC) I found an interesting note on Dr. Clatch's desk ----- it said, "What's purple and written by Charles Dickens? "Grape Expectations." See you around, Miss Peters.
GK: Don't go too far in case you're needed for further questioning.
SS: I won't. (BRIDGE)
GK: I headed over to Danny's Deli to pick up my sandwich.
TK: (WENDELL) I'm afraid we were out of roast beef, Mr. Noir. Awfully sorry
GK: What is this? Turkey on a blueberry muffin?
TK: Roast turkey. Better for you than roast beef.
GK: But a muffin? And blueberries with mustard? Wendell-----
TK: Hey, how about a joke, Mr. Noir. "What's purple and funky and rhymes?"
GK: I have no idea.
TK: The Grapes of Rap.
GK: That's terrible. Where'd you get it?
TK: Off a bag of Chucky's Purple Potato Chips.
GK: Interesting. (BRIDGE) I walked down to the river to think. Chucky's Purple Potato Chips were a product of Leisure Foods, makers of Cheese Pooties, Dixie Dum Dums, and other leading snack products. Was Dr. Clatch involved with Leisure Foods in some way? As I pondered this, I noticed an old man on a park bench, feeding the pigeons. (FOOTSTEPS) (PIGEONS) Excuse me?
TR (GEEZER): Don't know what's wrong with my pidgies. I've been feeding em Chucky's Chips and they keep getting skinnier and skinnier. And so do I. (PIGEONS) (BRIDGE)
GK: Leisure Foods' international headquarters is a building shaped like a cracker box, towering over downtown Minneapolis. I headed over there on the Intercity Bus (BUS DOOR CLOSE) and ate my turkey in the blueberry muffin and tried to think about how I could get in the building and scout around. And when I walked through the (FOOTSTEPS ECHOING ON MARBLE) gymnasium-sized lobby with the forty-foot marble walls and a bust of the C.E.O., Orson Wellesley, I suddenly had an idea.
TK (GRUFF): You here to see someone?
GK: Here to see Mr. Wellesley.
TK (GRUFF): He expecting you?
GK: Yes. The name is Noir. Dr. Noir. State Health Department. Here to investigate reports of cholera in the chips. (STING) In about thirty seconds, a woman in a tweed suit was on the scene from corporate relations.
SS: I'm Jennifer Flexner, Dr. Noir ----- please ----- come this way. (FOOTSTEPS) Let me take you up to the executive suite. I'm sure that President Wellesley will want to see you. (ELEVATOR DOOR OPEN) Please. After you. ----- Sixtieth floor, please. (ELEVATOR DOOR CLOSE, QUIET WHOOSH AND HUM) (BRIDGE)
GK: We emerged on the sixtieth floor, into what looked like a museum of fine art and priceless antiques.
SS: Please step into my office, Doctor Noir. President Wellesley will join us in a moment.
GK: I just want to have a look around----- swab some surfaces ----- make sure that the rumors of virulent disease caused by your company's products are unfounded.
SS: I can assure you they are. (DOOR OPEN, CLOSE.) (FOOTSTEPS)
TR: I'm Orson Wellesley, Dr. Noir.
GK: Charmed, I'm sure. Your name is somehow familiar to me, Mr. Wellesley----
TR: Well, I'm the CEO of the biggest snack food company in America-----
GK: No, I read something about you in the paper once -----
SS: President Wellesley is very prominent in philanthropic circles. He's in the papers all the time. He just gave several million dollars worth of potato chips to the needy.
TR: What's this silliness about cholera, Dr. Noir?
GK: Nothing silly about cholera, Mr. Wellesley. I'm just investigating rumors that your Cheddar Pootsies are causing people's tongues to turn black and their hair to fall out in big clumps.
TR: Untrue, Dr. Noir. Vicious rumors spread by our competitors.
GK: I just need to take a look around. Get air samples. Get a urine sample from the two of you. Some hair, some fingernails------
TR: Dr. Noir, I can assure that our formulas ---- I mean, our recipes ---- are absolutely resistant to any sort of contamination ----
GK: Orson Wellesley----- now I remember ---- you went to jail on stock manipulation charges, right?
TR: I did. I was sent to a minimum-security prison, Doctor, and I got a bad case of tennis elbow and was given an early medical discharge.
SS: Dr. Noir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave the premises. Now. This interview is over.
GK: You sensitive about your past, Mr. Wellesley?
TR: Not at all. I'm proud of (TK OFF, REVERB: Help! Help!) what we've achieved here at Leisure Foods and the jobs (TK OFF, REVERB: Help! Help!) we've created and the role we've played in the community and of course we stand ready to cooperate with the State Health Department in every way. (TK OFF, REVERB: Help! Help!)
GK: I think I hear someone calling for help.
SS: I heard nothing. Time to go, Dr. Noir----
(TK OFF, REVERB: Help! Help!)
TR: I believe someone is calling, "Health! Health!" It's a byword here at Leisure Foods.
GK: Dr. Clatch????
TK (OFF, REVERB): Yes?
GK: Where are you, Dr. Clatch?
TK (OFF, REVERB): I'm locked in this closet.
GK: Open the closet, Mr. Wellesley.
SS: I don't think so, Dr. Noir. (CLICK OF HAMMER) This is a Wesson pistol you're looking at, Doctor----
GK: You mean a Smith & Wesson----
SS: A Wesson. It shoots boiling oil. One false move and I'm going to turn you into a potato chip, Doctor.
GK: You'll never get away with it.
TR: Shoot him, Jennifer! We can exercise our stock options and be on the afternoon flight to Rio.
GK: So you put Weight-A-Minute on your Chucky's Chips, hey?
TR: You catch on fast, Dr. Noir. After we advertised Chucky's as the Weight Loss Chip sales tripled. And tripled again. And again. And the stock price went through the ceiling. And suddenly our stock options are worth gazillions.
GK: Kidnapping is a serious charge, you two. You could spend the rest of your lives in the manufacture of license plates.
SS: I doubt it. But I think you're going to spend your next life as a snack food additive. That little square rug you're standing on?
TR: It's a trap door and it drops you straight down into the shredder.
SS: You'll be shredded and mashed and mixed with other refuse and go into the oven and come out as Cheese Pooties. You'll be very popular at every fraternity party in town. You've got five seconds, Dr. Noir---- five---- four----- (TR FIENDISH LAUGH)---
GK: Wow----- lookit there----- a green-breasted lap-winged sapsucker on the windowsill-----
SS: Where? Which window?
TR: Jennifer! Look out! (CRASH OF WOOD, SS GROAN)
GK: Not so fast, Mr. Big Shot------ (HE SWINGS, KAPOW, TR OOF) ----- I've got your Wesson, Jennifer. Now maybe you'd like to go stand on that little square rug.
SS: Curses. How'd you know I was a birdwatcher?
GK: The brown oxfords, the binocular marks around the eyes ----- pretty obvious, if you ask me.----- (TK MUFFLED: Let me out of here.) Coming, Dr. Clatch. (FOOTSTEPS. UNLOCK DOOR, OPEN)
TK: (EXHAUSTED) Boy, you sure took your time rescuing me. What are you, dumb or something?
GK: Take it easy, Dr. Clatch.
TK: They stole my formula and sprayed it on their potato chips, the big dummies, and ---- we have to warn the public!
GK: Warn them of what?
TK: The formula has a major side effect. It makes people very moody. Okay? What're you staring at me like that for? (BRIDGE)
GK: I hauled Wellesley and his mouthpiece down to City Hall and handed them over to Lieutenant Finnegan----
TR (IRISH): Thanks, Noir. These are the folks who were making green chips for St. Paddy's Day. Woulda had a bunch of surly Irishmen marching along, glowering and bickering. (BRIDGE)
GK: I headed over to the Five Spot and once I sat down at the bar, my hands started shaking at the thought of how close I had come to becoming a snack product myself. (BRIDGE)
TR: (JIMMY) Wow, that's some story, Guy. So I suppose Larceny Pharmaceuticals was glad to have their formula back.
GK: Yeah. They paid me a nice fee. But I never saw Miss Peters. I guess she found her feelings for me so strong and confusing and she went to her therapist to try to work through it
TR (JIMMY): Yeah, that's probably it.
GK: Anyway, Doctor, give me the usual.
TR (JIMMY): One martini with a soybean. Coming up. (POURING, SHAKING) As long as you got paid a nice fee, Guy, maybe you'd like to take care of some old bar tabs-----
GK: Yeah, let me see about that. (DOOR OPEN, JINGLE, CLOSE. FOOTSTEPS)
GK: Oh, for crying out loud. It's the Question Man again.
TR: Did you expect me to just disappear? What about my dog?
GK: How am I supposed to find your dog if you won't tell me what your dog looks like? Huh? What am I supposed to do? Am I a mind reader? Do you know how irritating you are? Huh? Do you know that? Do you?
TR: Is this how you treat all your clients?
GK: Would you mind saying a simple declarative sentence for a change, huh?
TR: Why do my questions bother you?
GK: Are you trying to analyze me?
TR: You think you need it? You worried about something? Think you might be losing your mind? Huh?
GK: Why are we wasting all this time when we could be looking for your dog?
TR: What do you care about my dog?
GK: If you don't want me to look for your dog, why are you here?
TR: Where am I supposed to be instead?
GK: Are you trying to drive me out of my mind?
TR: Why are you so sensitive? What are you trying to hide? Why can't you answer simple questions? Do you understand English?
GK: You want to know what I think about you? Do you? (WOOF, DOG APPROACHES, COLLAR JINGLE)
TR: Oh. Here's my dog. Never mind. Bye. Come on, boy. (DOG PANTING, FOOTSTEPS, DOOR JINGLE OPEN, CLOSE)
GK: You know, it's not the work, it's the aggravation. Where's that martini, Jimmy?
TR: Is rum all right? I just realized we're out of gin.
GK: Out of gin????
TR: There was a convention of public radio program directors in town. They drank it all up. No gin in the Twin Cities period. You'd have to go to Duluth to find some.
GK: What time does the train leave?
TR: I'll make you a tequila martini. You care for a Cheese Binkie with that?
GK: No thanks.
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