(GK: Garrison Keillor; SS: Sue Scott; TR: Tim Russell; FN: Fred Newman)
TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but high above the busy 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 cold December mornings when the sky looks like aluminum and you feel like you're lost in a giant strip mall and the bare twisted limbs of trees remind you of all the women who smiled and said, Sorry, they were busy a week from tonight too. (SFX: PHONE & PICK UP) Yeah? Guy Noir here.
TR (ON PHONE, SMALL TIGHT VOICE): Mr. Noir? I'm calling from my car --- I seem to have lost a card that came with a Christmas present I got and I wonder if you could find out who gave it to me ---- I think it was a woman from work.
GK: What is it?
TR (ON PHONE): A box of fruit. Persimmons mostly, and some papaya, pippins, and pimentos.
GK: Uh huh. Pimentos are vegetables, actually.
TR (ON PHONE): Well, maybe they're not pimentos. Maybe they're rhubarb.
GK: Rhubarb is a vegetable too.
TR (ON PHONE): Oh.
GK: Did she give you tomatoes? Tomatoes are a fruit.
TR (ON PHONE): I didn't see any tomatoes.
GK: The woman at work ---- tell me about her----
TR (ON PHONE): Well, her name is Sonya and she's into the martial arts. I've seen her cut a phone book in two with her bare hands.
GK: I see. You sound like a smaller person----
TR (ON PHONE): I'm four feet six, but I look bigger than that. Everyone says that. I project confidence.
TR (ON PHONE): I wish I were as confident as people think I am.
GK: I understand.
TR (ON PHONE): Mr. Noir, if I faxed you a picture of myself, would you tell me the frank truth?
GK: About what?
TR (ON PHONE): About my hair?
GK: I'm not a professional hair person, sir.
TR (ON PHONE): I just want a brutally frank opinion from another guy.
GK: Maybe you should ask your brother.
TR (ON PHONE): I'm an only child.
GK: Your dad, maybe.
TR (ON PHONE): I'm an orphan.
GK: A friend?
TR (ON PHONE): I can't think of anybody---
GK: Anyway, I don't have a fax machine, sir.
TR (ON PHONE): How about your e-mail address?
GK: Don't have that, either. I use Freddy, the Western Union messenger. I could have him go look at your hair if you'd like----
TR (ON PHONE): I could send it over by messenger.
GK: A picture?
TR (ON PHONE): No, the whole toupee.
GK: I don't think so.
TR (ON PHONE): I bought it at Goodwill. Previously owned. It's got a big pompadour wave in front. I'm looking at it right now ---- it's on my head-----
GK: Don't look in the mirror while you're driving, sir.
TR (ON PHONE): It's okay. I've got this big pompadour and the thing is, it's sort of dramatic----
GK: Are you looking at yourself in the rear view mirror, sir?
TR (ON PHONE): It's okay. The other thing is that I've had the hair colored sort of auburn and ---- HEY---- WHAT ARE YOU (SCREECH OF TIRES, CLICK, SILENCE)
GK: Hello? hello? (HANG UP) Guess we lost him. (MUSIC UNDER) It was almost four o'clock, and it was night out. I headed over to the Five Spot. I got off the sauce a few months ago, but I still enjoy the fumes. And I had to give Jimmy the bartender his Christmas present. (DOOR OPEN, JINGLE. CLOSE. FOOTSTEPS) Hey Jimmy----
TR (JIMMY): Hey, Guy, how's it going?
GK: Not so bad. I just brought your Christmas gift.
TR (JIMMY): Hey, a calendar. Nineteen ninety-two. I remember it. Now I can remember it day by day.
GK: Thought you'd enjoy the photographs.
TR (JIMMY): The Women of NPR. The Swimsuit Edition. Interesting. Ann Taylor. Corva Coleman. Terry Gross.---- Somehow I always imagined her with long blonde hair.
SS (NYER): You're thinking of Nina Totenberg.
TR (JIMMY): This is Natasha, Guy. Guy, Natasha. How about a martini----
GK: Naw. Just give me the olive and I'll remember the rest.
SS (NYER): He sure makes a mean martini, mister. I've had two and believe me, menopause never felt so good.
GK: I had my share, believe me. All of my natural aptitude for mathematics ---- got killed off by gin. A sad story.
SS (NYER): Only math a person our age needs to know is one plus one equals two.
GK: Gimme a mineral water, Jimmy.
TR: Coming up. You look kinda bushed, Guy.
GK: Had a blind date last night. Woman wanted me to come with her on a canoe trip. I hate camping.
SS (NYER): We New Yorkers don't even call it camping, we call it homelessness.
GK: Minnesota women are complicated, I tell you. You go out on a date, you realize, this is no 30-day romance. This is graduate school.
SS (NYER): Yeah, I've heard that.
TR (JIMMY): Natasha here is from New York.
GK: I've about given up on dating.
SS (NYER): Me too. Welcome to the club. We should go out sometime and talk about it.
GK: I mean, the bar scene. Forget it. Just look around you.
SS (NYER): What's that supposed to mean?
GK: I don't mean this bar, I mean a singles bar. They're brutal. You spend half an hour there and your self-esteem is down around your ankles.
SS (NYER): I couldn't agree more. You and I are on the same page.
GK: A woman glances at you for a microsecond and a look of ironic amusement flickers in her eyes and she looks around for someone else. You repeat that a thousand times and you're ready to be thrown into solitary. And the music is all techno-pop-hiphop-disco-robot music, never jazz or blues.
SS (NYER): Maybe Minnesota isn't the place for you. Come over to my hotel, let's discuss it.
GK: Personal ads----- I thought about it, and I don't think so.
SS (NYER): I put an ad in the personals once, it said: "Wild sensuous woman seeks male companion for late night alcoholism. Heavy smoker preferred. Older guys with big eyebrows are a real turn-on."
SS (NYER): Got two responses.
TR (JIMMY): From who?
SS (NYER): Wonderful guys.
TR (JIMMY): Really.
SS (NYER): About his age. Sort of heavy-set. Manic depressive. Eye brows the size of fruit bats. Sexy.
GK: Well, I guess you were lucky.
SS (NYER): We had six months of uninhibited wild times and then one of them enrolled in seminary and the other one dropped dead of a coronary.
GK: Sure. Well.
TR (JIMMY): What brings you to town?
SS (NYER): Jazz. Came to hear some singers. I love jazz.
TR (JIMMY): You live in New York?
SS (NYER): Got an apartment on Central Park West. The Beresford. Nice. My late husband left it to me. Along with his bank. --- Hey, you ever go to the Bahamas? Beautiful place.
GK: No, never went.
SS (NYER): And by the way if you're staring at my blouse because you're trying to figure out if it's see-through, the answer is yes.
TR (JIMMY): Care for another martini?
SS (NYER): Sure. What the heck?
GK: Not for me, thanks. I've got to run.
TR (JIMMY): What's your hurry? Stick around.
GK: Got to talk to some people.
TR (JIMMY): You're talking to some people now. ---(TO GUY) Loosen up, wouldja?
GK: Whatcha whispering for?
TR (JIMMY): She's a mature woman with a Manhattan apartment who's interested in a heavyset guy with big eyebrows and she might be ready to make a lifelong commitment maybe as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday and a week from today you could be in Bermuda.
GK: We got nothing in common except the fact we're bipeds.
TR (JIMMY): Sometimes bipedalism is enough, if you've got a cologne to go with it.
GK: I need some fresh air.
TR (JIMMY): Maybe she does too. Ask her?
TR (JIMMY): You're like a teenager or something----
GK: Excuse me. Ma'am---?
SS (NYER): Yes?
GK: I, uh----- I was just thinking---- that, uh----- I donno----- it's
a nice night----- and, uh-----
TR: A dark night in St. Paul, a city that keeps its secrets, and there on the twelfth floor of the Acme Building is a guy still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions, Guy Noir, Private Eye.
© Garrison Keillor 2002