Tim Russell: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questionsE..Guy Noir, Private Eye.
Garrison Keillor: It was Christmas in New York, I was getting by doing odd jobs while I worked on my musical about the singing detective. I worked three afternoons a week at a drop-in counseling center on East 89th Street.
Sue Scott: I've always sacrificed, always tried to make Christmas so that everybody could have a nice time, but was it fun for me? No, it was not. I pretended it was, so I wouldn't hurt anybody's feelings. Which I've been doing all my life, as a matter of fact. I sacrificed for Mother, I sacrificed for Dad, sacrificed for Al and the kids, for everyone in the family. Good old Shirley. That's me. And now what do I have for myself? Nothing. Nothing. Where are you going?
GK: My shift is up at 6 o'clock, Mrs. Austerlitz----
SS: I was just getting to the part about when Al died---
GK: I know that.
SS: He was sitting at the kitchen table and he fell face first into the waffles.
GK: Mrs. Austerlitz---- I have a dance class I have to go to----
SS: Dance! I'm sitting here pouring my heart out and you've gotta dance? (BRIDGE)
GK: It was to prepare myself for the role of the singing detective, I was taking dance classes at the Eighth Avenue School of Dance.
SS: Okay, I want all of you to stand, knees slightly bent, the cane in your left hand like this, and your right hand touching the brim of the white straw hat ----- okay? And here we go ---- one and two and three and ----- (BASIC SIMPLE "TIPTOE THRU TULIPS" ON PIANO, DANCING FEET) -----Heads up, everybody! Don't look at your feet! I want to see smiles! ----- And turn ---- shuffle ball, shuffle ball, shuffle ball----- and ------- very good! Thank you. (MUSIC, FEET, STOP) Wonderful. (FADING) Okay, on this next one, we're going to turn slowly to our rightE..
GK: There was a beautiful young woman in the class whose name was Ravinia Johnson and as she danced (TAP DANCING FEET), sometimes she would sing (JR VOCALISE), and she sounded pretty great. She was fabulous in other ways as well and I had been alone for a long time and so----- I asked her out for coffee ----- You have a beautiful voice, Miss Johnson.
Jennifer Rivera: Thank you.
GK: You studying voice?
JR: I am. I'm here to audition for City Opera.
JR: You like opera?
GK: Love it.
GK: She could tell I was lying. So I lied to her again. -----Oh yeah. In fact, I know a lot of the top people at City Opera. I'm a big donor there.
JR: Oh my gosh. This is my lucky day. I'm so glad I met you. Would you give them my audition tape?
GK: Well... sure...I mean...if I have time...next time I'm in the neighborhood.
JR: Thank you. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you. (BRIDGE)
GK: I took the tape and put it in my pocket and forgot about it. I was playing in a band at the time, down on the corner of Broadway and 59th. (BAND PLAYING "O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM," WITH BLATTY TROMBONE). And I was running the sound system at St. Harold's for the Advent meditation at noon.
TR (ANGLICAN VOICE, JOWLY, HIGH CHURCH, REVERB): And the angels said to the shepherds, Fear not. Let us look at that word "shepherd" ---- or rather both words. "Shep" and "herd". Is this not a dichotomy between the two sides of our nature, what we might call the "shep" side ----- and the "herd" side. Now what do we mean when we say "shep"----- (FADING) the word comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "shoop" ----- or "shoop shoop" -----
GK: And I was bartending in a pub on Ninth Avenue called the Nun's Knickers which catered to a pretty rough crowd.
TR (ENGLISH): Hey barkeep----- (BELCH) -----Bring me a bowl of pig brains.
GK: We don't carry pig brains, sir.
SS (WENCH): What do you mean you don't carry pig brains! Aaaaoooooo....come on.
TR (ENGLISH): It's traditional with Christmas, have a nice big bowl of pig brains!
Fred Newman (ENGLISH): At's right! Wouldn't be Christmas wi'out pig brains!
SS: I like mine poached but he likes his boiled.
FN: Poached pig brains???? I never heard of such a thing. You don't poach pig brains!
TR: We wouldn't have em any other way-----
FN: Christmas pig brains is always served raw in a big tin plate, they is.
TR: Why you---- you don't know nothing about pig brains----- (THEY BEGIN TO FIGHT, SLUGGING EACH OTHER) (BWANNGGGG, CRASH OF GLASS, CRUNCH OF WOOD) (FADE INTO BRIDGE)
GK: It was one thing after another and a week passed and then I ran into Miss Ravinia Johnson in a coffee shop. I had ordered an eggnog latte. (ESPRESSO SEQUENCE) And I turned and there she was, and she wasn't happy.
JR: Hi. Remember me? (BIG MEZZO NOTES, VOI CHE SAPETE)
GK: I don't understand Italian, sorry.
JR: Mr. Levine, I am a mezzo, but I am no fool. Don't play games with me. I'm not one of those little wimpy church mezzos. I don't do church jobs. I sing opera. It takes killer instinct to sing opera. You sing your heart out while you steer the tenor around like a handcart and you set the tempos for the orchestra because the conductor can't and you straight-arm the baritone so he doesn't sing right in your face. And sometimes you have to slap the soprano around if she starts screeching during the quartet.
GK: I'm sure you've got loads of talent, Miss Johnson, and I'm sure that my friends at City Opera feel the same way.
JR: Mr. Noir? That tape that I gave you two weeks ago?
JR: It's still in your pocket.
GK: Oh. Right. (BRIDGE) I was going to do something with the tape, but then the transit strike hit, and a lot of Santas weren't able to make it into the city so I got a day's work at Macy's, sitting on a throne and talking to children. And childlike persons.
TR (CAPOTE): My wish is for a full production of my play. That's all I want. For my play to be produced. It's been workshopped to death. I want it done with a set and costumes and everything.
GK: I'll do what I can.
TR (CAPOTE): Would you like to read it? I have it with me.
GK: Santa doesn't read plays.
TR (CAPOTE): I could write in a part for you.
GK: No, thanks. Next.
SS (ADENOIDAL GIRL): Hi Santa.
GK: Hi there. What's your name?
SS (ADENOIDAL): You don't know?
GK: Give me a hint.
SS (ADENOIDAL): How are you gonna find my house if you don't know my name?
GK: I sort of know it. What is it?
SS (ADENOIDAL): It's Susie.
GK: Of course. What would you like for Christmas, Susie?
SS (ADENOIDAL): I'd like a whole lot of money.
GK: I see.
SS (ADENOIDAL): I mean, like a whole lot. How much cash do you carry, Santa?
GK: Are you poking me in the ribs with something, Susie?
SS (ADENOIDAL): That's a pistol, Santa.
GK: Uh---- could somebody call security for me? ---- (FOOTSTEPS)
JR: Beat it, kid. Get your butt outta here or I'll give you a mezzo sandwich. ----- (SS SCRAMS)
GK: Miss Johnson----- what a rare privilege.
JR: Mr. Noir, I am getting a little irked with you ---- and let me tell you something about mezzos: when we are irked, we become vicious rather quickly. I know three ways to kill a man with my bare hands and I'm working on a fourth. I am expecting you to get me into City Opera or else ----- (LA DONNE E MOBILE) I'm a mezzo
I have a dagger
A glass full of poison
And also a pistol.
I am determined
To sing Rigoletto
And if I can't I'll rip our your heart
Yes, I will
Yes I will
I will rip it out and stuff your
body in a trunk.
TR (RICO): A word with you, Mr. Noir. I am Miss Johnson's personal manager--- the name is Zoloft. Danny Zoloft. ----We're tired of you giving us the run-around. So if you should feel a piece of cold steel passing between your ribs and through your left lung, that's her---- she's played trouser roles, she knows how to use a sword.
GK: Mr. Zoloft, you can't threaten your way into a starring role at City Opera.
TR (RICO): Mr. Noir, here in New York City, you don't get something by waiting around for somebody to drop it into your lap. It takes muscle. That's me. So I'm saying, Give. I want you to bring us a contract by tomorrow night. No fail. Don't mess with Danny Zoloft, mister, or you'll find yourself permanently depressed. (BRIDGE)
GK: I was working at the counseling center that afternoonEE
SS: So I says to her, I says, Paula, some people are takers and other people are givers. I was a giver in a family of takers. That was my fate. I accept that. Forgive and forget, that's my motto. But why do they let me sit here alone? No company, no nothing. I never did that to them. Wouldn't have dreamed of it. I would've shot myself before I'd have treated other people the way they treat me. I would've shot myself through the forehead.
GK: Mrs. Austerlitz---
GK: Would you mind changing seats with me and sitting on this side of the table? There is a mezzo who is after me and I'd like to keep my eye on the door.
SS: Oh. Okay. No problem. (SCRAPING OF CHAIRS) ----
GK: Thank you----- here. I'll help you.
SS: Is there a problem?
GK: I don't know---- I thought I heard something outside.
JR (OFF): En garde!
GK: Oh my gosh. ------up on the balcony-----
JR (OFF): I have found you! My betrayer! I come for revenge! (SHE SHOUTS AS SHE LEAPS TO THE CHANDELIER AND SINGS A LONG RISING NOTE AS IT SWINGS THE LENGTH OF THE ROOM)
GK: And she swung from the balcony on the chandelier and she leaped onto the table----- (SHE LEAPS ONTO TABLE)
JR: Draw your sword, traitor! And meet your fate!
SS: Oh dear. All I've been through and now this-----
GK: Miss Johnson, really-----
JR (SINGS, HABANERA): I always wanted to slice up a baritone
And leave him eviscerated on the floor
Although I was brought up Episcopalian
I'm in love with blood and gore. (SHE THRUSTS)
I can't help it, I am a mezzo
We're full of anger barely repressed.
I'm fond of singing coloratura
But killing men is what I love best.
Amour is pure
Manure, I'm sure. (SHE THRUSTS)
GK: Miss Johnson, I lied. I don't know anybody at City Opera.
JR: Now I really AM going to kill you. (MORE PARRYING) (FADE INTO BRIDGE)
GK: I headed for LaGuardia in a cab (TR ARABIC) and we raced across the Triborough Bridge (HONKING, BRAKES, TR ARABIC) and then he got off the expressway and headed for Astoria---- Hey---- I'm going to the airport. (TR ARABIC) Where are you taking me? (TR ARABIC, TIRES SQUEALING, BRIDGE) I soon found out. We pulled up in a parking lot behind a liquor store. (BRAKES STOP) And someone knocked on my window. (KNOCKS) It was her-----
JR: (BIG MEZZO NOTE) This is as far as you go, Mr. Noir. Get out of the car.
GK: What's that in your hand? A chainsaw?
JR: I'm going to cut you into small pieces and grind you up and make meat pies out of you.
GK: I think that idea has already been used.
JR: I'm a desperate woman, Mr. Noir. I am singing fourteen Messiahs this year. Do you know what that's like ----- singing with a soprano whose vibrato you could park a truck in and a tenor who is sharp enough to cut cheese and a baritone who sits and hums to himself during my solos-----It's torture. Next year I am going to be in the opera. (SHE SINGS A NOTE, STARTS CHAINSAW)
GK: How about we submit this to binding arbitration?
JR (UN BEL DI):
I'm holding a chainsaw and looking at your abdomen
Which looks like a piece of raw chicken
And I am no Butterfly
No, I am a carnivore and you are my entree---- (CHAINSAW)
GK: I started walking (FOOTSTEPS) toward the liquor store and she was following me and I walked faster and I was almost there and (CHAINSAW STOPS)------ (MUFFLED MEZZO SINGING FIRST NOTES OF "O MIO BABBINO CARO) What is that? Another singer?
JR: It's my cellphone. (CLICK) ---- Yes? ---------- Really? ---------- Oh that's wonderful! --------------Thank you.
GK: They hired you, huh?
JR: They did. Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. I'll be Hansel. I would've preferred the witch, but----- it's a start.
GK: Yes, I think you would've made a terrific witch.
JR: Did I scare you?
GK: I'm still shaking. ----- Who's this? (FOOTSTEPS, LIMPING, APPROACH)
TR (TIM): I'm a little cripple boy looking for the poulterer's shop so I can buy a Christmas goose.
JR: I'll get you a goose. There's one flying over----- a Canada goose okay?
TR (TIM): That's me favorite.
JR: I brought a shotgun just in case the chainsaw didn't work. (GOOSE FLYING OVER) (SHOTGUN BLAST) (GOOSE FALLS)
TR (TIM): Wow. That's some shooting, ma'am.
JR: It's nothing. I'm a mezzo.
TR (TIM): Wow, a mezzo.
JR: While the soprano is standing around having feelings, we mezzos make the story go and keep the audience awake. You can do the same.
TR (TIM): How?
JR: Take that goose home and walk up to your mother and whack her with your crutch.
TR (TIM): But why would I do that? It's Christmas.
JR: Christmas needs a good story too. We can't just sit around and adore, you know. There's got to be drama, too! (SHE PULLS OUT SWORD) Merry Christmas! (SHE AND GK PARRY, SWORDFIGHT, FADE INTO (THEME)
TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets but one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions. Guy Noir, Private Eye.