Tim Russel: 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 summer in Minnesota, and you could feel people start to let down their guard and relax, which is dangerous of course. A lot of old people sho'd kept going through the winter out of sheer stubbornness, refusing to let winter knock them off, soon as it got warm, pfffffff, they went face-first into the bran flakes. Gone. Just in time for Memorial Day. I was in a town called Lanesboro, working security on the Root River Bike Trail --

TR: We've got a problem, Mr. Noir. We get thousands of bicyclists down here every weekend to ride this beautiful trail and there are sections of the trail where fundraisers from public radio lie in the bushes and they jump out and stop the bicyclists and ask them if they value what they hear on public radio -- they offer premiums -- ask people to make pledges -- it's outrageous --

GK: That's terrible. Have they no shame? What do they look like?

TR: Like anybody in public radio. Earth tones, sandals, and they need a haircut.

GK: I'll be on the lookout. (BRIDGE) So I went to rent a bike to ride the trail to look for fundraisers and I walked into a bicycle shop --

Sue Scott: Excuse me --

GK: Yes?

SS: I'm Lindsay, I'm from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and I'm doing a study on salad dressings. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?

GK: What?

SS: How often do you put mayo on a salad?

GK: Never.

SS: Never?

GK: Never.

SS: Okay. Thank you.

GK: I was looking for this bicycle shop where you can rent bicycles in Lanesboro and --

TR: Mr. Noir, I'm from the Chamber of Commerce. We're having a problem. There is a company called RhuCom that's sending a busload of vice-presidents here to buy up all of the land on that side of the river.

GK: But why?

TR: To build enormous factories. You see, they've developed a process to turn rhubarb into rubber.

GK: Rubber.

TR: Rubber. This is going to be bigger than ethanol. They'll build enormous rhubarb processing plants along the river. They're planning a city of a quarter-million in the next five years. Office towers. Parking ramps. They'll cut a trench through that bluff and put an Interstate in there.

GK: Sounds serious.

TR: I don't know what to do. They're expected in 45 minutes.

GK: Well, I've got to rent a bike. (DOOR OPEN, JINGLE, DOOR CLOSE)

Tom Keith: Yeah? What can I do for you? Huh? Speak up.

GK: Looking for a bike.

TK: What kinda bike?

GK: One with pedals.

TK: Mountain bike, prairie bike, swamp bike, water bike -- what? Make up your mind. I don't have all day. What's the matter with you? Can't you talk? Sprechen zie Englische?

GK: You seem a little uptight, mister.

TK: So what if I am?

GK: Everybody else in Lanesboro has been so friendly. This seemed like the friendliest town in Minnesota until I met you --

TK: Yeah? Well, just get over it.

GK: What's your problem?

TK: It's this dang Rhubarb Fest. Thousands of people come through town and I set up a booth selling Rhubarb Toothpaste and -- I didn't sell any -- same with the Rhubarb Mouthwash -- what's wrong with people?

GK: I just wanted to rent a bike --

SS (BREATHY): Mr. Noir?

GK: Yes?

SS (BREATHY): Are you a regular radio listener?

GK: No.

SS (BREATHY): You're lying. You listen every day. I know it. (BRIDGE)

GK: She was six feet tall and wore a leopardskin cape and a red vinyl outfit and leather boots up to her thighs. She wore diamond earrings and smoked a small dark Turkish cigarette.

SS: I am passionate about radio, Mr. Noir. Do you hear me? Passionate --

GK: I was helpless in her arms which were powerful thanks to years of yoga,

SS: I am going to bring you into the public radio family, Mr. Noir. I will not rest until I hold your membership contribution in my hands.

TK: Excuse me, Mr. Noir -- got your bike here. This is a trail bike.

SS: You're going out on the trail?

GK: Hoping to, yes.

SS: There's a leak in that tire.

GK: What is that supposed to mean?

SS: Your tire is flat.

GK: Oh. Of course...I'll just blow it up. (AIR HOSE) There.

SS: What's with the bike? Why not sit in my car with me and listen to...Car Talk? I'll bet you might go for a little....Fresh Air, too..All Things Considered...

GK: I have a job to do, ma'am. (BRIDGE) I went biking down the trail just in time to collect the Welcome To Lanesboro signs and take them over to Fremont and put them up there and bring the Fremont signs back to Lanesboro. So Fremont, Minnesota, population 200 and something, is in the line for a big surprise. WalMart is going to buy the General Store and turn it into a 300,000 square foot megastore. Interstate. The whole business. Because this is what Lanesboro is about -- (ROCKER CREAKING) -- Rocking chair on a porch and (HORSE HOOVES) along come some people in a carriage and (BIRDS) you sit there listening to the world... and you walk down to the cafe and people are friendly and you have a piece of rhubarb pie. Let Fremont have the headaches. Let's keep Lanesboro about the way it is.

TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but one guy is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions, Guy Noir, Private Eye.