Tim Russell (ANNC): 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.
Garrison Keillor: It was June, a beautiful month if you like flowers, but work was slow. I was living off olives and lemon wedges from the Five Spot and a $20 bill I found down behind the couch so I was pretty happy when I got the call from Kansas City.
Sue Scott (ON PHONE): My name is Moffett, Mr. Noir. Pamela Moffett. I'm with the Kansas City Light Rail Commission and I'm in charge of planning the new streetcar system here.
GK: I thought Kansas City already had a great streetcar system.
SS (ON PHONE): We did but we tore it up back in 1957. Three hundred miles of track. Now we're going to build back about 27 miles of it.
GK: Why'd they tear up the first system?
SS (ON PHONE): A long story. Basically, they were crooks.
GK: So what can I do for you?
SS (ON PHONE): Well, I've got a problem. A nay-sayer on my board. Anytime we come up with an idea, he says, "Let's think about it." He talks things to death. At this rate, we'll be lucky to build a model train set with a semaphore that goes up and down. (BRIDGE)
GK: So I headed for Kansas City, the City of Surprises. You expect stockyards and you find boulevards and fountains and circles and parks. The people who built this town really liked architecture. Miss Moffett met me at the zoo near the buffalo pen (BUFFALO) -- she was rather beautiful, tall, with raven hair and a red wrap dress that hugged her hips so tight I could read the lettering on her underwear. It said Building The Future.
SS: Oh my gosh. (STING)
GK: What's wrong?
SS: You look exactly my husband. (STING) I should say, my ex-husband.
GK: Is that going to be a problem?
SS: I almost lunged at you and choked you with my bare hands. But I'm over it now.
SS: My husband Wendell ran away with his beautician Kimberley, Mr. Noir. Last February.
GK: I'm sorry.
SS: I'm not. (FOOTSTEPS)
GK: We walked along habitat areas of woodland creatures and ungulates (SERIES OF SFX) and she told me how she was trying to get streetcars off the ground...
SS: Anyway, we have a meeting of the Light Rail commission tonight and I'm hoping you'll come.
GK: Of course. Who's the nay-sayer?
SS: He's a preacher. Buddy Bob Baldwin. Used to be Baptist and now he's Unitarian, so he's full of doubts but he's very insistent about them.
GK: I'll look him up.
SS: Would you mind coming to the commission meeting as my husband? I know it's a lot to ask, but--
GK: Well, what sort of duties would this entail? I've never been married, I have no idea.
SS: I don't want the streetcar system to get into trouble because of my scandal with Wendell. And you look a lot like him--
GK: I'm deciding to take that as a compliment.
SS: He never said much, so you can just stand around and look thoughtful.
GK: What line of work was Wendell in?
SS: He's a rocket scientist.
GK: Well, that should be easy. Nobody's going to want to talk about that. (BRIDGE) I found Buddy Bob in the park tossing biscuits to his old coonhound (COONHOUND). He was wearing a white linen suit and a broad brimmed hat and smoking a cheroot. Buddy Bob was too. -- Afternoon, sir.
Roy Blount: Afternoon. You a writer of some kind?
GK: No, sir. What makes you think that?
RB: The way you walk. You come in her sort of sideways, I figured you for maybe an essayist, one of those sensitve ones...
GK: No, sir. That your dog?
RB: Yeah. He's a Baptist dog.
GK: The dog is a Baptist?
RB: Nope, he hunts Baptists. Like a foxhound hunts foxes. Hunts em down and points at em until I can get there and give em my literature.
GK: You a writer?
RB: Nope. I'm an evangelist. Started out as a Baptist, preaching and howling and baptizing, and then I committed the sins of the flesh with a woman from Boston. She filled me with doubt and now I'm an evangelical Unitarian. I have been called the Billy Graham of skepticism. (COONHOUND BAYING IN DISTANCE) Ah-- there he goes-- he's got him a Baptist. (OFF) Catch you later, Mr. Noir.
GK: How'd you know my name?
RB (OFF): From your name tag!!!! (BRIDGE) I got to the Light Rail commission meeting just in time for the cocktail hour and I met Pamela outside--
SS: Hi there.
SS: Thank you for coming, Mr. Noir.
GK: Call me Wendell.
SS: Thank you, Wendell.
GK: We'd better kiss, don't you think?
SS: Then people'd know it wasn't Wendell.
GK: Okay. So fill me in. How many kids do we have again?
SS: Three. -- Hillary, Megan, and Wendell Jr.
GK: And we live where?
SS: Highland Grove.
GK: Aha. So I'm a successful rocket scientist.
SS: Yes. You work for the phone company. You put the satellites up in the sky.
GK: Okay. Has anybody on the commission ever met me? In the past?
SS: No, you were always too busy. Ok. Ready? (DEEP BREATH) Let's go do it. (FOOTSTEPS, (DOOR OPENS, CONVERSATIONAL VOICES)
TR (JOWLY): Hey, Pammy-- how's it going?
SS: Hi, Walt.
TR (JOWLY): This must be your husband-right?
GK: I'm Wendell. And you are?
TR (JOWLY): Pammy knows me. Heh heh heh. We went to high school together. Debate team. Lotta long bus rides, right, Pammy? Point-counterpoint, if you know what I mean. Heh heh heh heh. -
TR (JOWLY): Hey, how come you're not wearing a ring? You-Wendell?
GK: I lost a lot of weight and it fell off.
TR (JOWLY): Boy, you must've been huge. Like a blimp.
GK: I was. I ate a lot of ribs and then suddenly I couldn't see mine.
TR (JOWLY): How many years you two been married?
GK: A number of years. Pammy? Where'd she go?
TR (JOWLY): Better keep an eye on her. She's a hot number, as I recall. (WHEEZING LAUGH). Boy, I could tell you stories. Oh boy. We used to sit in the back of the bus and we just couldn't keep our hands-- Oh, by the way, this is my wife, Sarah.
Fred Newman (WOMAN): Hello. I'm Sarah. A pleasure, I'm sure. You sure look natty in that dark suit. I see you have a problem with flaking scalp.
GK: I swim a lot. We swim every day.
FN (WOMAN): Really!!!! So do we.
TR (JOWLY): I thought Pammy was allergic to chlorine, that's what she told me.
GK: Well, they have medication for that now.
FN (WOMAN): So how is your dog? Pammy told me all about the kidney problems.
GK: He's much better, it all cleared up.
FN (WOMAN): Oh, that's nice.
SS: Hi, I'm back -- I brought you some punch, darling.
GK: Oh thanks.
FN (WOMAN): Wendell says your dog is better.
SS: Yes. All we had to do was change her diet.
TR (JOWLY): She? Wendell said it was a he.
GK: Well, it's both, actually. It's one of those rare situation.
SS: It's a male dog trapped in a female body.
GK: It was a confusing time for all of us.
SS: But we made it through, and that's the important part.
TR (JOWLY): By the way, Wendell, I've been meaning to talk to you -- my company's trying to decide about satellites --whether we should go for the geostationary orbit or the low polar--
GK: Off hand, I'd say geostationary. It's just more stable. And it's not as cold as a polar orbit. But don't listen to me--
TR (JOWLY): Yeah, but this is for survey purposes, not communications. Low polar covers the earth--
GK: Sounds like you've made up your mind.
TR (JOWLY): So what's that going to run us in terms of rocket?
GK: The cost?
TR (JOWLY): Right.
GK: Hey. I'm not a CPA, I'm just the guy who designs the thing to go up. You know? Whoosh.
TR (JOWLY): Ballpark cost--
SS: Oh let's not talk business here--
TR (JOWLY): Oh. I find this fun. It's the part of the job I enjoy.
FN (WOMAN): Pam has told us so much about you, Wendell. But you don't look at all like your picture on the Christmas card.
GK: Well, it's been a rough year.
FN (WOMAN): You got hair, I see. And it looks almost natural!
SS: Let's not keep the Parkers all to ourselves, honey-- other people want to talk to them too -- come on, honey--
GK: Nice to meet you folks-- talk to you later. (FOOTSTEPS, VOICES IN PASSING) I wish you'd told me Wendell was bald--
SS: I've managed to forget Wendell, thank goodness-- (IN PASSING) Hi, how are you-- nice to see you-- hey! Hi! -
GK: You're quite popular, I see.
SS: It happens in politics. It doesn't last long. -- Hi! -- Hey Poky-- you look terrific-- nice to see you guys--
RB: Hey!!! It's me, Pam. Mind if I crash the party?
SS: Hi, Buddy Bob.
GK: The evangelist. What're you doing here?
RB: I'm on the commission.
GK: I thought you were from Georgia and then you moved to Boston.
RB: Right. And I was sent to Kansas City as a Unitarian missionary.
SS: Did you meet my husband, Wendell?
RB: That's not Wendell, that's Guy Noir.
RB: Where's Wendell?
SS: He ran off with his beautician.
RB: Hmph. Well, he needed her more than she needed him. Why you trying to fob off this old guy as your husband? You should've asked me.
SS: I thought you were married.
RB: I was, but that Boston lady was vegetarian, so I had to go without pork sausage. Couldn't even have eggs. So we broke up and now I'm dating again -- you a carnivore, by any chance?
SS: I love meat.
RB: That makes me happy just hearing you say that.
FN (WOMAN): Hi big boy. I'm from Georgia too--
SS: Hey, get your hands off him--
FN (WOMAN): Lemme smell your breath. (INHALE) Yep. You been gargling with bourbon all right. My kind of man. (GROWLS)
RB: Where in Georgia y'all from?
FN (WOMAN): Decatur, naturally. Eighter from Decatur.
RB: Why that's where I'm from-- what's your name?
FN (WOMAN): Murine. Mama named me that cause I'm easy on the eyes. Murine LaHoya Johnson. A lot of people call me HoneyPie.
RB: LaHoya! My best friend was Jimmy LaHoya.
FN (WOMAN): The one they called Skeeter?
FN (WOMAN): He was my first cousin. Butch and Eula's boy.
RB: Your cousin!!!! Then I think we met once--
FN (WOMAN): Back seat of a '67 Mustang -- the DewDrop Drive-In Movie -- double feature, "I Was A Teenage Werewolf"-and I forget what the second one was, we were doing some serious necking--
SS: You know what, there are other people here----
FN (WOMAN): Just lookin at you makes me smell those magnolias all over again.
SS: Unpeel yourself from this woman and let's go somewhere and talk--
GK: If you want me to leave, Pamela, I can send you a bill, or I can take cash--
RB: Cash? (STING) She's paying you cash to come on a date?
RB: There's a word for that sort of man.
FN (WOMAN): And that word is "gigolo".
(COONHOUND APPROACHES, BAYING)
RB: My dog is pointing at you, mister.
GK: If I'm Baptist, then I'd hate to think what Pat Robertson is.
SS: I think it's time we bring this meeting to order. Fun is fun, but let's start the meeting. Order. (COONHOUND) Order, please.
RB: Listen to me,people! (HUBBUB SUBSIDES, QUIET) All I'm trying to say about streetcars is -- don't take it on faith that this is a good idea!!! That has gotten more people into more trouble!!! Faith!!! What we need is a little more skepticism!! Yes, sir! Skepticism!!!! People come up to me and they say, "Buddy Bob, I am living under a terrible burden of belief! I believe in things that make no sense! I hang out with people I don't care for at all! I laugh at jokes that aren't funny! I have a world view that comes right out of a cartoon!!! Help me to disbelieve! And that's why I am here today -- to show you the way to an open mind! (HE CONTINUES, UNDER) Use your God-given intelligence! Try to think things through! Don't believe everything you're told!
GK: And as he spoke, the doors opened (SFX) and a big old trolley car came rolling in (SFX). It came down the tracks and the semaphore went up (SFX) and the lights flashed and the bells rang (SFX) and light rail came to Kansas City. Just like that. Off in the distance the Sunset Limited headed for Los Angeles (DISTANT TRAIN WHISTLE) and downtown in a smoky joint a saxophone (SAX) wailed and a big steamboat headed down the Big Missou (SFX, STEAM WHISTLE). Kansas City. It wasn't all rationalism that built this town. No sir.
TR (ANNC): A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But high 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.