(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. (THEME UP)
GK: It was the fifth or sixth day of a heat wave in St. Paul, and the smell of baking asphalt made it all the way up to the 12th floor, where my air conditioner was struggling like a truck on a steep grade and I was trying to keep cool by reading a National Geographic article about the Arctic. I re-played the messages on my answering machine, to see if I'd heard them wrong the first time. (BEEP)
SS (ON PHONE): Mr. Noir? It's Bonnie at Bon Ton Cleaners ---- listen, it's about your suit ---- how much longer are you planning to hold onto this? (BEEP)
TR (ON PHONE): It's Dean Rhodes at Four Leaf Clover Accounting & Tax Preparation ---- listen ---- about your 2001 return ---- I've been going over and over this, and I just wonder if maybe it's time to declare mental incompetence. My brother tried an insanity plea with the IRS and they let him keep his jet ski. ----- (BEEP)
TK (ON PHONE): Mr. Noir, it's Bud Brackett ---- listen, would you be available to follow my daughter for 7 days aboard a luxury cruise to Alaska to see if she's carrying on a romance with a bartender? Think about it. (BEEP)
SS: (DEEP, SEXY) Hi, big boy. You know what I like in a man? I like knowing that he's not afraid to make a move. A big move. Like replacing his old siding with durable, new aluminum siding. Why don't you call me right now? I'm waiting-- for you--at Ajax Aluminum Siding. Bye. (BEEP)
TK (ON PHONE): Yeah, it's Bud Brackett. Listen --- about the Alaska cruise ---- forget it. I found somebody else. But thanks. (BEEP) (MUSIC)
GK: I decided to head over to the Five Spot to enjoy some the air conditioning but first I called Wendell at Danny's Deli.
TK (WENDELL, ON PHONE): What can I do for you, Mr. Noir?
GK: Wendell, you got any more of that salmon in dill sauce you used to make?
TK (WENDELL, ON PHONE): Sure, Mr. Noir.
GK: You do? You sure it's not walleyes in Velveeta?
TK (WENDELL): I'm sure.
GK: You want to give me an order of that to go, with some coleslaw, and deliver it to the Side Track Tap?
TK (WENDELL, ON PHONE): Aren't we forgetting a very important word, Mr. Noir?
GK: Yeah. Hurry. (BRIDGE) I stopped at an ATM machine in Dayton's Department Store up front near the bakery counter. I've found in the past that after I punch in English as my preferred language (BEEP) and my PIN number (FOUR BEEPS) and the amount to be withdrawn (THREE BEEPS), if just as I press Checking I hit it with my knee about 18 inches down and to the right (BEEP, METALLIC BWANGGG. HUM. MACHINE EJECTING BILLS, RAPID FIRE, ABOUT THIRTY), it'll give me a little bonus and this time instead of $60 it gave me $6000, in twenties, which makes a nice bulge in a man's pocket, believe me. I scooped up my winnings and headed for the Five Spot. (BRIDGE) (DOOR OPEN, JINGLES, CLOSES, FOOTSTEPS)
TR (JIMMY): Hey there, Guy. How's everything going? Hot enough for you or what?
GK: Doing great, Jimmy. Couldn't be better.
TR (JIMMY): What can I get you, pal? Martini with a soybean?
GK: Naw. How about a white wine, Jimmy. Chilled. A nice vintage.
TR (JIMMY): Got a terrific Grand Marais 1985. But it's kinda pricey.
GK: No problem.
TR (JIMMY): One glass, coming up. ----- (CORKSCREW) You making any plans for the summer, Guy? (EFFORT AND POP CORK)
GK: I wasn't before, but maybe I am now. Thinking I might go to Seattle. Beautiful place in the summer. Sit and look out at Puget Sound and eat clams.
TR (JIMMY): Wow. Who you going with?
GK: Don't know, but I'm open to offers.
TR: (JIMMY) I love Seattle.
GK: What's not to love? Say, Jimmy ---- how much I got on my tab right now?
TR (JIMMY): Your tab? Listen, we sent your bill to the historical society years ago.
GK: I'm serious. I want to pay up.
TR (JIMMY): Well, the last I saw, it was about $800.
GK: Oh. Well, maybe I won't pay it all at once. How about I give you one hundred? There. (SLAPS DOWN FIVE BILLS)
TR: (JIMMY) I'm quite moved. (DOOR OPEN, JINGLE. CLOSE. FOOTSTEPS) My gosh. What do we have here? (SEXY ACCORDION) (FOOTSTEPS AND STOP)
SS: Hi. I came in to see if anybody has change for a dollar so I can put some quarters in the meter and go upstairs and have a massage and a seaweed scrub at the spa.
GK: I don't have change but I'm sure I could locate some seaweed.
SS: That's okay. I'm sure they have plenty. (BRIDGE)
GK: She wore a light blue summer dress, that was rather translucent, and I knew I shouldn't look but I made myself do it. She had short blonde hair and a long swan-like neck and lips like sugar candy. Her fingernails were painted a color I don't associate with women's studies programs, a shade of red a woman should never wear unless she really means it. ---- Ma'am, I was brought up to be a perfect gentleman, but if you'd like, I'm prepared to make an exception in your case.
SS: Would you have change for a dollar?
TR (JIMMY): Sure. Coming right up. (CASH REGISTER, KACHING) (COINS) There you go. Want me to watch your meter for you?
SS: That'd be lovely. Thank you.
GK: Want me to watch your clothes?
SS: You're so humorous.
GK: I didn't mean it humorously----
SS: I never had a seaweed scrub before. I'm looking forward to it.
GK: If you'd like, I could wash your hair with brine shrimp.
(DOOR OPEN JINGLE, CLOSE. FOOTSTEPS)
TK (WENDELL): Hi, Jimmy. Hi, Mr. Noir. Here's your ----- O my gosh! (DROPS PLATE, BREAKAGE) Wow. You are beautiful! Are you real?
GK: I suppose that's my salmon in dill sauce on the floor.
SS: Hi. What's your name, Sandwich Boy?
TK (WENDELL): Wendell. But Sandwich Boy is fine. What's yours?
TK (WENDELL): Wow. What are you doing right now?
SS: Looking at you.
TK (WENDELL): I see that.
GK: Wendell, close your mouth, saliva is leaking out.
TK (WENDELL): You're incredible.
SS: So are you.
GK: Excuse me?
TK (WENDELL): I'd love to take you down by the river.
SS: I'd love you to take me down by the river.
GK: What about that massage?
TK (WENDELL): Now?
GK: Yes, she has a massage scheduled now.
SS: Sure. Now.
TK (WENDELL): Okay, Seaspray.
GK: What about replacing my salmon?
SS: Let's go, Wendell.
TK (WENDELL): I think this may be the day my voice changes for good.
SS: I never met anyone like you, Wendell.
GK: You are so right about that.
TR (JIMMY): Have a good time, kids.
GK: Don't forget to put some quarters in her meter, Wendell. (DOOR CLOSE)
TR (JIMMY): Ahhh. Young love. Nice to see.
GK: Nicer to be in the game than in the right field bleachers.
TR (JIMMY): Well, at least we were there once. (POURING) Here's your white wine, Guy.
GK: Thanks. ----What you up to this summer, Jimmy?
TR (JIMMY): I don't know. Not much. Head up to the North Shore in August, I guess. Rent a little cabin. Listen to the waves on the shore. Read "Anna Karenina".
GK: You've been trying to read Anna Karenina every summer since I first met you. Why?
TR (JIMMY): It's a classic. And women like it. You never know when you might meet a woman and your knowledge of Anna Karenina might be the key that opens the door, you know?
GK: What's the farthest you ever got trying to read it?
TR (JIMMY): About page 18. Then I start losing track of the names ---- Alexei Alexandrovich and Sergei Sergeivich and Susie Susi-a-ivich --- Karen Karenina ---- Lucie Luciovna --- forget who is the Count and who is the coachman----
GK: Well, you know she gets hit by the train in the end.
TR (JIMMY): Don't spoil it for me. This year, I really think I'm going to make it.
GK: Well, bring along a backup.
TR (JIMMY): I will. Couple of Raymond Chandlers. ---- What you up to this summer?
GK: Aw, not much. The usual. Just waiting for some enchanted evening when I meet a stranger across a crowded room. Here's to you, Jimmy. Have a great summer.
TR (JIMMY): You too, Guy. Good luck.
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