Tim Russell: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but 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 AND OUT)
Garrison Keillor: It was February in St. Paul, and winter had been toying with us --sending us a few warm days to soften us up so we'd be sitting ducks for the next good hard cold spell. Speaking of which, I was supposed to march in the St. Paul Mardi Gras parade, and the only costume I could find at Ron's Theatrical Supply that fit me was that of a merganser.
Sue Scott (DEEP): It's very becoming on you, Mr. Noir. The feet especially are rather graceful. Walk toward me. (WALK, DUCK FEET) That's right. Keep your toes pointed out.
GK: The pinfeathers are poking me in the rear.
SS (DEEP): We can fix that.
GK: I just think it looks silly. You don't have anything else in my size? Clown suit?
SS (DEEP): We have women's wear.
GK: Oh. Like what.
SS (DEEP): Oh, witches-- valkyries-- Wait! I know the perfect thing. Here. (SHE HOLDS UP BIG PLASTIC THING) How about this?
GK: A frog suit?
SS (DEEP): A frog. A harbinger of spring.
GK: Is that supposed to be pronounced harbinger or harbinger?
SS (DEEP): Harbinger. Try it on. See if it fits. (BRIDGE)
GK: And as it happened the frog suit did fit. Fit rather well.
SS (DEEP): It's a Lycra-Spandex blend. It'll loosen up as you wear it. You have very attractive legs, by the way.
GK: But the head looks sort of small.
SS (DEEP): Of course it's small. It's a frog. (BRIDGE)
GK: The parade was at two. I sat up in my office (STRETCHING, RUBBER), doing deep knee bends so the frog suit would stretch a little, and (PHONE RING)-- (PICK UP) Yeah. Noir here.....
TR (ON PHONE): Hey you fruitcake-- it's me. Louie. Your accountant.
GK: Louie-- how's it going?
TR (ON PHONE): It ain't. Listen. Tax season is here, okay? Don't wait around until the last second and then come in and dump a grocery bag full of papers on my desk and expect a rush job.
GK: Okay, okay-- settle down.
TR (ON PHONE): People like you are the reason I'm on Zanax. And would it kill you to have some receipts? Make 'em up if you have to.
GK: Listen. Louie-- I'm trying to break in a frog suit, okay? What'd you call about?
TR (ON PHONE): It's this dingbat neighbor of mine. He borrowed my snowblower and he drove it right over his rock garden, and chewed it to pieces, and then proceeded to back over it with his pick-up and then he took the pieces and sold them for scrap metal.
GK: So what do you want me to do?
TR (ON PHONE): Get rough with him. Work him over.
GK: I don't do that, Louie. It's too hard on the knuckles. (BRIDGE) All that stretching made me hungry. I headed for Danny's Deli to pick up a sandwich for lunch (DOOR OPEN, JINGLE, CLOSE. FOOTSTEPS. TK BEGINS SINGING) and there was Wendell behind the counter...
TK (SINGING): I'm a sooooooooooooul man..(HOWL) I'm a soooooooooooull man!
GK: Wendell-- easy--
TK (TEEN): Oh sorry, Mr. Noir. Hey, nice frog suit. Where you going? To the hop? (HE LAUGHS UPROARIOUSLY AT OWN JOKE) It's a joke. Get it? To the hop?
GK: Thanks. What you got for sandwiches today?
TK (TEEN): How about I just kill you a couple dozen flies? (HE LAUGHS)
GK: How about a corned beef on a kaiser roll with sesame seeds-- I'm in sort of a hurry -- I'm supposed to meet someone.
TK (TEEN): We're all out of kaiser with sesame--
GK: How about poppy seeds--
TK (TEEN): Out of that, too.
GK: Plain kaiser roll?
TK (TEEN): Sorry.
TK (TEEN): All out, Mr. Noir.
GK: Well, tell me what you do have--
TK (TEEN): How about a cranberry-butterscotch bagel?
GK: Naw, forget it. Just give me the salad plate and a pickle. (BRIDGE) I had just taken my lunch to a table and was starting in when--
SS: I'm sorry to bother you, Mr. Noir, but could you help me? (BRIDGE)
GK: She was a pleasant looking woman in a sweatshirt with a big W on it that in her case appeared to stand for Wife. She had nice teeth and sort of hair-colored hair and from the shape of her you could see that she'd spend many hours behind the wheel of a van. She'd sat in a lot of parking lots, waiting for kiddoes to finish up with school activities.
SS: You are Guy Noir, aren't you?
GK: Yes. Don't mind the costume. I often work undercover.
SS: My name is Nancy Hansen, Mr. Noir, and I just did a really really dumb thing.
GK: Well, we've all done dumb things, Mrs. Hansen.
SS: I was making sandwiches for the kids this morning -- one peanut butter, smooth, not chunky, with sliced bananas, one peanut butter (chunky) with real butter, not spread, and one cucumber with romaine lettuce and mayo, and then I got them dressed and fed them breakfast and tutored them in math and took them to school and on my way home, I suddenly decided that I needed a big romance in my life.
GK: Mrs. Hansen, you need a big romance like I need a major coronary.
SS: I know that, but-- I was -- in a mood. I don't know---So I went to a stationery store and I bought some paper made from pressed rose petals and a calligraphy pen and I came home and wrote a love letter to the pastor of our church, telling him that I'd been head over heels about him since the retreat last fall and at a word from him I'd hang up my apron and head for Montana on the back of a Harley and live in a cabin in the mountains and collect rainwater and wild strawberries and look into each other's eyes.
GK: I'm sure the penmanship was lovely.
SS: It was. Nice big tails on the g's and the y's -- big capital letters...
GK: And you put it in a lovely envelope and sealed it with red wax.
SS: Exactly. Wrote out his address on the front.
GK: And then you took out a match and lit it and watched it burn...
SS: I was going to, Mr. Noir. Honestly I was.
GK: What happened?
SS: I got distracted, calling up to order spring clothes for the kids out of a catalogue, and absent-mindedly I put the letter with some other letters, and -- I mailed it.
SS: Ten minutes ago.
SS: Seventh and Wabasha--(STING & BRIDGE)
GK: Romance. It's hazardous for Minnesotans because they have so little experience. Good people. The sort of people you call up if you need to move a sofa. But a cautious people. The sort who want to put up guardrails and warning signs on any uneven terrain: "Don't Trip On This". "Road May Be Slippery When Covered With Ice". "Centrifugal Force May Be Strong At High Speed". And of course they have to rebel and in a wild moment they use a sentence in which subject and predicate don't agree or they go swimming right after a meal, and they jump the rails and pretty soon they're writing calligraphy on rose-petal paper---- Mrs. Hansen led me toward 7th & Wabasha, the crossroads of the Midwest, where the crowds were assembling for the Mardi Gras parade. (CROWD AMBIENCE)
SS: The mailbox is right over there, Mr. Noir.
GK: Let me have a look. (CREAK OF MAILBOX DOOR OPENING) I can sort of see it down there. It's the one with sealing wax?
SS: Yes. And addressed to Pastor Bob Sundquist. Oh, I am going to be so humiliated. I'll have to switch to Episcopalian or something and learn a whole new bunch of hymns.
GK: I just need a long stick with something sticky on the end of it-- see any long sticks around? (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)
TR (JIMMY): Hey, Guy. Nice frog suit. You in the parade?
GK: Right. I don't walk around dressed as a frog as a regular thing, Jimmy.
TR (JIMMY): I didn't think so.
GK: I'm with the Society of French-Americans. SOFA.
TR (JIMMY): Well, you have very attractive legs.
GK: Thanks. You wouldn't happen to have a stick on you, would you?
TR (JIMMY): Sorry. No-- (FOOTSTEPS AWAY)
SS: How about if we put some chewing gum on the end of a string and lower it down?
GK: I think a stick'd be better. Lets you apply pressure.
SS: I have a vacuum in my car--
GK: I'd rather not -- a guy with a vacuum hose stuck in a mailbox -- people are going to notice. We're talking felony here, Mrs. Hansen. The Big House at Leavenworth. Banging your tin cup against the bars.
SS: I could run home and get a mop handle.
GK: Then suddenly I had a brilliant idea. The mask of the frog suit had a long green tongue -- when you blew, the tongue stuck out -- I could use that -- so (STRAINING, WEDGING, STRETCHING SFX) I managed to get the head on so I could see out of the eyeholes. And just then up comes this bozo with a microphone.....
TR (MINN): This is Todd Johnson, Eyeball News, at the 2005 St. Paul Mardi Gras parade. We're out here on the corner of Seventh and Wabasha and boy there is a lot of people out here. Including this fellow in a frog suit. Hello, sir--
TR (MINN): You marching in the parade today?
GK: I think so.
TR (MINN): I don't know when I've seen downtown so crowded. So many folks here that some people are bumping into each other. I just hope no violence breaks out. You know how it is: a couple bad apples can ruin it for everyone. So what's your name, sir?
GK: Edward Hopper.
TR (MINN): Okay. Real good. And what do you hope to get out of your experience today at Mardi Gras?
GK: I'm hoping to meet someone special and form a long-term relationship.
TR (MINN): Well, good luck to you. Hey, here comes the Mickey's Diner float, a pickup truck, with cardboard signs taped to it that say, "Mickey's Diner" -- and it's full of people.
GK: Mrs. Hansen put some chewing gum on the tip of the tongue and I tried sticking it out. (NOISEMAKER)
TR (MINN, OFF): Probably four or five people in the back of the pick up and boy do they look like they are having a good time. I think maybe they been drinkin' ya know.
GK: How'm I doing? (NOISEMAKER)
SS: You're close. I think it's long enough.
TR (MINN, OFF): Now here comes the St. Paul Curling Club's precision sweeping team. Each of them wearing their traditional ethnic costumes which unfortunately you can't really see because they all got overcoats and boots on, on account of it's so nippy today. Back with more Mardi Gras excitement from St. Paul after this message...
GK: How's this? (NOISEMAKER)
SS: A little to the right. (NOISEMAKER) Almost got it. (NOISEMAKER) I think you got it. --Nope. Dropped it. (CELLPHONE) Is that me or you?
GK: It's me. I can feel it vibrating. It's in my shirt pocket-- can you reach it? I can't get at it with these frog fingers.
SS: Where is it? Here?
GK: Yes. Shirt pocket. Thanks. (CLICK) Hello-- Noir here.
TR (BUSH): Mr. Noir, thanks for taking my call. How you doing up there?
GK: Just fine, Mr. President. Sort of in the midst of things here--
TR (BUSH): I understand. I called because we have reliable information that says that Unitarians are one or two years away from developing a nucular capability.
GK: Mr. President, the Unitarians don't even know how to pronounce nucular. They pronounce it nuclear.
TR (BUSH): Our information is that they obtained fissionable U-235 from North Korea by way of Libya.
GK: The Unitarians I know know nothing about fission, Mr. President. Maybe you're thinking about vision. They talk a lot about vision. And fiction, they know about. They've got book clubs up the wazoo.
TR (BUSH): Or maybe they got it from Khaddafi.
GK: Maybe you're thinking of coffee. They're big on coffee.
TR (BUSH): This is serious, Mr. Noir.
GK: You know, not to be obstructionist in any way, but you have gotten information in the past that turned out not to be true, Mr. President.
TR (BUSH): Exactly -- it turned out not to be true -- but it was true at the time I said it.
GK: I see.
TR (BUSH): It became untrue later. But when I said it was true, I believed it was true, and the truth was, it was true at the time.
GK: Whatever you say, sir.
TR (BUSH): Mr. Noir?
GK: Yes, sir?
TR (BUSH): Let me know if you hear anything.
GK: I will, sir. (BRIDGE)
GK: In the end, it was a simple matter. I went over to the pastor's house.
TR (PASTOR): Come in-- Mr.--
GK: Noir, Pastor. Guy Noir.
TR (PASTOR): Noir. Interesting name.
GK: It was changed. From Nordby.
TR (PASTOR): Aha. Norwegian.
GK: Norwegian with pretensions. I just dropped by to see if you might have the outline of Adult Bible Study for the month -- I forgot to pick mine up on Sunday----
TR (PASTOR): Oh. Okay.-- Funny I don't recognize you.
GK: I sit back under the balcony. In the corner. The light is sort of dim there.
TR (PASTOR): Oh. Okay. Well, let me go find that outline for you. (OFF) I saw a copy of it around here somewhere. (BRIDGE)
GK: The letter in the rose-petal paper was with the rest of the mail, on a hall table, and I just slipped it into my pocket.
TR (PASTOR): Yeah, here it is. "Lent, A Time for Reflection". I'll be looking forward to seeing you there. That's 9:30 a.m., you know.
GK: Aha. Nine-thirty. That's why I've been missing it.
TR (PASTOR): Yeah, we changed the time. Used to be at nine, but we set it back half an hour.
GK: Well. See you then.
TR (PASTOR): Thanks for dropping by. (BRIDGE)
GK: And I took the letter and I burned it. I didn't look on it as theft so much as intervention. He couldn't be happy living in a cabin in Montana on rainwater and strawberries and neither could she. Romance is a nice idea, but the devil is in the details. For romance to endure, you have to have conflict, diversion, other stuff to do. You can't just sit in a love nest and look at each other. You need yard work. -- That's my problem with romance. I think about it too much. I don't have a yard.
SS: A dark night in a city that keeps its secrets, where one guy is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions...Guy Noir, Private Eye. (MUSIC OUT)