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 questions Guy Noir, Private Eye.


Garrison Keillor: It was the week before Christmas and I was in New York City, working on a couple dozen cases, checking up on young people from the Midwest who haven't written or called home -

Sue Scott (ON PHONE, WEEPING): I keep leaving messages on her cell. She's working as a coat check girl. We're okay with her wanting to go into theater. I just hope and pray she doesn't meet the wrong people and wind up in law school.

GK: I'll check into it. (BRIDGE, THEN TRAFFIC SFX, VOICES IN PASSING) A lot of people in New York have theatrical ambitions. You find that out when you go into a men's store and try on a scarf.

Walter Bobbie: (GASPS) It looks beautiful on you. -- Turn that way-- toward the light. Oh my God. -- David, come here and look at this. -- Oh that is incredible. --I never knew that a scarf could do that-- Too long?? Did you say "too long"? That is perfect-- you want it to be roomy-- oh-- look in the mirror-- behold yourself--gasp, gasp.....sigh, sigh-- you are the person that scarf was meant for-- you are its raison d'etre-- you-- yes, of course we accept credit cards-- certainnement!!!!

GK: So I bought the scarf. I was on my way to the office of the New York Chamber of Commerce -- a Mr. White had called me-- his receptionist was a theater person. You could tell.

SS: You've come to see Mr. White, haven't you. He's been expecting you. Ever since yesterday. When the appointment was made. Here. By me. In this book. And now here you are. Please. Have a seat. Oh-- you choose. I'll tell him you're here. Un moment-- (SWIFT LITTLE STEPS) (BRIDGE)

TR: I'll get right to the point, Mr. Noir. New York City is in the greatest danger since they invented 12-step programs. Somebody has come up with a way to shut this city down.

GK: What could ever do that, sir?

TR: Look. It's a satellite parking surveillance system. Satellites in outer space can monitor every parking violation no matter how small -- they can see the curbs painted red, the hydrants, the No Parking codes -- and they'll hack into the car's computer and disable it with a virtual boot.

GK: A virtual boot.

TR: Exactly. And they'll assess the fine and withdraw the money automatically from your bank account. No more double parking. No more parking at a hydrant so you can scoot into the liquor store and pick up a bottle of Scotch.

GK: This is going to shut down the city.

TR: Law enforcement would kill us. The city'll earn billions from it, but-- without illegal parking, New York will come to a standstill.

GK: Trucks couldn't deliver during the day. No UPS or FedEx.

TR: The diplomatic corps will be paralyzed.

GK: What can I do?

TR: I need you to find this man-- (MURMURY) he's the mastermind of the whole idea -- he's on his way to meet Mayor Bloomberg this afternoon.....(BRIDGE)

GK: I headed down toward City Hall and (TRAFFIC, SIDEWALK CLAMOR) the city was bustling. The Gray Line tour buses were packed with people and the tour guides were in a big mood--

WB (SINGING): Up ahead and on your right
Like a beacon in the night
Available to any renter
It's the Jacob Javits Convention Center!


GK: On my way I stopped in to check up on Sheila Nelson, one of those Midwestern kids who doesn't write or call home. Acting student. She was working as a coat check girl at a restaurant called the San Juan Saskatchewan, a fusion Canadian-Cuban cafe on Tenth Avenue (CAFE HUBBUB)--

Erica Rhodes: I'm sorry-- what did your coat look like? Fur? What kind? -- (RUSTLING) I guess the tag must've fallen off it-- let me see that-- (SPARK) (SS SHOCK) Sorry.

GK: Handling all those woolen coats, she was storing up static electricity and then she'd take a tag from someone's hand and (STATIC SPARK) (TR YELP OF SHOCK)

ER: Sorry!

GK: People came in (SERIES OF GRUFF HAND-OFFS) just threw their coats at her so they were heaped up in piles and -- (IRRITATED GRUMBLES) people were checking packages the size of duffel bags and her little coat check room was packed with stuff--

ER: You say it's black?

Fred Newman: It's a black wool overcoat--you put a tag on it--I watched you do it.

ER: I'm doing my best--

FN: That's what I'm afraid of--

ER: Here-- try this one on--

FN: (STRAINING) No-- it's too small --

ER: Well, that happens this time of year....people grow.

FN: How about that one there?

ER: You want to try that one?

FN: And I have a package from F.A.O. Schwarz (VOICES, FADING) (FOOTSTEPS)

GK: So how you doing, Sheila? My name's Noir. Your mother sent me to make sure you're all right.

ER: Well, it was rather traumatic at first. Trying to remember which bags go with which coats. Two hundred coats, thirty big shopping bags. Briefcases. Small dogs. Ferrets. It's about 100 degrees back in the coat check room. I lost Donald Trump's coat.

GK: You lost it?

ER: Camelhair. From real camels. He called a press conference and threatened to sue. I just went in my room and shut the door and cried. And the manager came in and said, "Don't get upset. I mean, it's not that what happened wasn't really awful, but it's over now. And there's nothing you can do about it. So don't beat yourself up about it. And by the way, I'm looking for a lady's black wool coat, size 6."

GK: So basically you're okay.

ER: Yeah.

GK: Good. Call your mother. How's the food here?

ER: It's okay if you like Canadian. (BRIDGE)

GK: So I sat down in a booth--

TR: Yeah-- welcome to San Juan Saskatchewan. You want to hear the specials first?

GK: Okay--

TR: We got spicy meat loaf. We got Frijoles and Liver. We got the Walleye Paella --

GK: Spicy meat loaf sounds good.

TR: Okay. What to drink?

GK: Coffee-- (FOOTSTEPS AWAY) And just then a skinny woman in black came through the door and a big guy with enormous red glasses tried to squeeze in past her.

SS: Hey, what's your problem?

WB: You goin' in or you just standing there?

SS: Well, quit shoving me.

WB: Oh just get over yourself, would you?

SS: You get over yourself, you big bully.

WB: I donno what gets into people. Christmas. Peace on earth, right?

SS: This your first time in the city? Huh? Where you from? Montana?

WB: Montana!!!! What's that? Some new condo building?

SS: Hey-- Murray-- Murray Mazuma. It's me. Layla L'Etoile.

WB: Layla!!! Didn't recognize you in all those furs!!! (SERIES OF FOUR BIG AIR KISSES, BOTH)

GK: They gave each other a big hello and handed their coats to the coat-check girl--

WB: Here. Put it on a hanger, okay. It's real coyote.

ER: Okay. Here's your tag-- (SHOCK, WB BIG YELL) Sorry.

WB: Jeeze. Electrocute me while you're at it.

SS: I'll just keep my coat on, thanks. (FOOTSTEPS)

GK: They came and sat at the table next to me.

WB: I can't believe it, running into you. How you been? You look terrific.

SS: You look terrific too. Hey-- you've had an eyebrow lift!

WB: You can tell?

SS: No, it's very subtle, very well-done--

WB: Not too dramatic?
SS: No-- no, no-- you just look more expectant, that's all-- more hopeful--

WB: Well, that's what I wanted.

SS: It's nice.

WB: My forehead was starting to slide and I was gettiing a big frown effect. And you know-- when you're a producer, you gotta look happy. So you still downtown?

SS: Yeah, and I got married.

WB: When did this happen?

SS: August.

WB: When did you meet him?

SS: July.

WB: Where?

SS: We shared a cab coming in from JFK.

WB: Really.

SS: It was a wild ride --driver was a madman -- 60 miles an hour -- changing lanes-- honking -- yelling -- we got to the Midtown Tunnel and we realized we were in each other's arms -- so one thing leads to another.

WB: Congratulations.

SS: We're looking at a new apartment on Riverside Drive. Three bedrooms, huge kitchen, wood-burning fireplaces, floor to ceiling windows, 40th floor --

WB: Wow.

SS: He works for Goldman Sachs.

WB: Really.

SS: He got a big bonus. Twenty million bucks.

WB: That's fantastic. I'm happy for you. I really am. Nobody deserves this like you. I remember how you struggled. Going to auditions. Taking dance lessons. Living on noodles. I couldn't be happier for you. Did I mention that I just wrote a musical about banking?

SS: You wrote a show about bankers?

WB: A musical. A man and a woman, both investment bankers, and they meet and fall in love and so forth --It's called "Bankers Away"--

SS: Bankers Away--

WB: Right. Bankers Away.

SS: Catchy title.

WB: (SINGS) Goldman Sachs, Goldman Sachs
Grab the dough and watch your backs
And thank your lucky stars it's true
Someone is banking
On you

SS: You planning to be in it?

WB: Me? No.

SS: Good.

GK: You know-- I couldn't help but overhear you saying you wrote a musical--

WB: You talking to me?

GK: Yes, sir-- I was --

WB: We're carrying on a private conversation, mister. If you don't mind--

GK: Right. I know--

WB: When we want your input, we'll ask you for it. Okay?

GK: Okay, but -- there's a wonderful young actress over there who might be right for the part of a young woman in banking--

SS: Who? The coat check girl?

GK: Yeah.
WB: The one with the electric fingers? Naw. Too young. Too fragile.

GK: Lemme just introduce her. Hey-- Sheila-- Kid-- (ER FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)

WB: I like the way she walks -- there's a kind of an innocence there. An openness--

GK: Sheila-- listen-- I want you to meet Murray Mazuma, he's a playwright--

WB: Playwright-producer.

GK: He's got a big Broadway show he's putting together--

WB: "Bankers Away".

GK: There might be a part in it for you. You got a picture you could give him? Your resume?

ER: That's awfully kind but -- I'm not really looking for anything right now.

GK: You're not looking?

WB: You're in theater and you're not looking?

SS: Of course you're looking.

ER: I'm starting to re-examine my priorities.

WB: Why would you go and do a thing like that?
ER: I just start to feel like there's something false about acting.

WB: False??? False?? Listen to her. Of course there's something false. It's called acting. It's not called behaving.

SS: You just found that out???

ER: I want to do something useful with my life.

SS: Oh please-- not that Albert Schweitzer stuff--

ER: I just feel that coat checking is really really important. The act of helping someone off with their coat -- it means a lot to people. And then I reach out and touch them (STATIC SHOCK. SS YELP) -- and it does something for them--

WB: You'd give up a life in theater for a life of passing on static electricity?

ER: What's wrong with your eyebrows?

WB: They're arched, that's all. Why?

ER: You look shocked.

WB: I do?

ER: You look like a deer in the headlights.

SS: Never mind her, Murray. --

WB: A deer in the headlights?
SS: You look terrific.

WB: I'm gonna grab my coat and get out of here.

SS: Come home -- I'll introduce you to Mitch -- Bankers Away -- he's gonna love it--

WB: Do I look apprehensive to you?

GK: Right now? Yes.

SS: I think you've got a hit onyour hands, Murray.

WB: I gotta get out of here.

SS: Call me.

WB: I will. Ciao. (SERIES OF AIR KISSES) -- (FOOTSTEPS) Don't touch me with your finger.

ER: I won't. Which is your coat?

WB: It's coyote.

ER: Is that like sort of a brownish fur?

WB: Yes--

ER: Like a dog?

WB: It's not dog. It's coyote.

ER: With a silvery collar?
WB: The collar is wolverine.

ER: You know-- I think I gave that to someone else--did it have some papers in the pocket?

WB: Yes-- my lyrics for Bankers Away--

ER: I gave it to a man who said it was his.

WB: What????

ER: He left five minutes ago--Medium height, brown hair, glasses--

WB: Oh my gosh--

ER: He had car keys in his hand--

WB: Oh no--Layla, I'm going to have a panic attack! I feel panic!!! It's taking over my body!!!

SS: Take deep breaths, Murray.

WB: I'm feeling panic. I think my internal organs are starting to shut down! I'm forgetting the lyrics!!! The first musical I've written myself and now I'm forgetting the lyrics!!! I need to lie down on the floor!! (VOICES OF CONCERN) I'm having one of my famous panic attacks!!! Goodbye, Broadway-- hello St. Luke's-Roosevelt!!

SS: Take deep breaths and sing, Murray.

WB: Sing????
SS: Just open your mouth and the words will come to you!!!

WB: I'm panicking!!!

SS: Sing, Murray!!! Sing!!!!

You're my beacon, you're my anchor,
You're my investment banker--
You walked in, you handsome devil,
And you raised my interest level--
At my I.P.O.
You shelled out the dough
And today is your lucky day--
We're going through the ceiling with style and feeling-- Bonus Babies on Broadway!!!! (VOICES OF JOLLITY, EXITS, BRIDGE)

GK: Well, good luck to you, kid, in your new vocation.

ER: I just feel I can make a difference as a coat check person.

GK: Speaking of which--

ER: Oh. Right. Your coat. I think it's this one. Right?

GK: The black one.

TR (KISSINGER): Excuse me but I think that's my coat. I have some notes in the pocket.

GK: Looks like mine.

TR (KISSINGER): Here-- let me have a look at that. (STATIC SHOCK, KISSINGER YELP)

ER: Oh, I'm so sorry. Your hair seems to have fallen off. (KISSINGER GROAN)

GK: I put a big tip in her jar and headed out with the coat and (TRAFFIC) sure enough, in the pocket, I found a scheme for Satellite Monitoring of Parking in the City of New York. The virtual boot, the automatic billing, and so forth. There was a garbage can there on the corner and I pitched it in and headed uptown. Merry Christmas, everybody. (THEME)
TR: A dark night in a city that know how to keep its secrets, but one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions.....Guy Noir, Private Eye.