TR (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 trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions: Guy Noir, Private Eye.
GK: It was October, a beautiful month in which the country had just found out that bankers don't necessarily know about money and so it was every man for himself. The Dow Jones was up one day and my broker called and told me -- (TR GREENSPAN: I believe we're on the rebound, just as I predicted.) and the next day it was down 700 points and he called back (TR GREENSPAN: Just as I forecast, we are in for a rough ride so hang on.) I felt a sudden urge to earn a little money. I thought maybe I should go door-to-door on Halloween. Candy is candy. I could resell it on playgrounds. And then I got a call from Abilene, Texas. To come down to Abilene Secular Humanist University.
TR (FLAT): I am the President of A.S.H.U., Mr. Noir, and we are having serious problems with a major donor. An oilman by the name of Larry W. Larry.--
GK: I never heard of Abilene Secular Humanist University.
TR (FLAT): We tend not to advertise ourselves too widely. We're more of an undercover operation. (BRIDGE)
GK: So I got on a jet down to Texas.
FN (INTERCOM): This here is Buck your pilot talking at you from up here in the cockpit, or as we call it, the Big Saddle. Thank you for flying with us today on Whoopitiyi Airlines. We'll be heading down to Abilene today at an altitude of 34,000 feet unless me or Jim Bob here catch sight of some coyotes on the ground in which case, hold onto your hats -- (BRIDGE)
GK: Abilene Secular Humanist University was located outside of town, on a hill, surrounded by barbed-wire fences, and a group of demonstrators stood at the gate as we came in--(CAR INTERIOR) (SINGING, IN PASSING, "o come come come come'come to the church in the wildwood--.) --
TR: Baptists. Look out, they're gonna throw water at us.(SPLOSH)
GK: We drove past the Bertrand Russell Humanities Building and the Charles Darwin Science Building and the Albert Camus Football Stadium.
TR: Home of our football team. The Progressives.
GK: How they doing?
TR: They have the best grade point average in the league.
GK: A losing team, huh?
TR: Oh and seven. They're playing Amarillo Unitarian today. Next week is Lubbock Liberal Arts.
GK: Is the losing football team the reason Mr. Larry W. Larry is unhappy with you?
TR: No, he is starting to question our fundamental mission here.
GK: Which is what
TR: To raise questions, sir. We are secular humanists. We question everything. (BRAKES) Here we are at the administration building. (DOORS OPEN, FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL)
GK: The Larry W. Larry Building.
TR: Named it for him. Wonderful old guy. A real Texas character. Got in an argument, pulled out a gun, shot twice at the ground, and smelled gas. Biggest natural gas deposit in the country. His wife is a devout foursquare Baptist and she got on his nerves to the point that he gave us $500 million just to irritate her. (DOOR OPEN) And here he is now. And here is our academic dean Dr. Flexner.
SS: So pleased to meet you, Mr. Noir. Thank you for agreeing to come and mediate. We deeply appreciate it. Mr. Noir, this is Larry W. Larry.
GK: Mr. Larry--
FN: Please. Call me Larry.
GK: Okay, Larry. Good to meet you. I've heard so much about you.
TR: Coffee, Mr. Noir?
GK: No thanks.
FN: Let's cut to the chase, okay? I gotta fly to Reno today. Anybody tell you what this is about, Guy?
FN: Well, I gave these folks a truckload of dough to set up a college in Texas to teach something other than God, guns, and weak government. My wife is a Baptist and after forty-two years of marriage and having her quote Scripture to me, I just thought we needed an alternative. And it was a way to make Berniece pitch a fit and turn purple, which was a pleasure in itself. She threw me out of the house and that gave me the chance to do all the things I'd been wanting to do while I was still young enough to enjoy 'em, and enjoy the pleasures of the flesh and so forth and then I got tired of it and I came home. And when I came home, Berniece come running out to greet me and she killed a very obese calf and had a party to welcome me home and everything was forgiven. And the next day I went in for a physical and they found a tumor in my brain the size of a softball.
GK: You look fine.
FN: I feel fine, but they say I got six months to live. So I called up my friends at Abilene Secular Humanist University and I asked em to find out if there is a God or not. I just want to know.
SS: He offered us a hundred million to do a study and said it had to be done in three months.
GK: You wanted to find out if there is a God-- a god with a capital G--
FN: If there is not, fine, but I want to know if there is one, and if there is, then I want to find out what he wants me to do.
TR: We are rationalists, Mr. Noir. We have a sense of ethics. We can't spend a hundred million on mumbo-jumbo. It wouldn't be right.
SS: So we said no, we wouldn't--
TR: And he said, Okay, then I'm pulling all my money out of here.
SS: Which would destroy this campus. We'd have to shut down. We have students majoring in physics, math, the humanities-- students who count on getting a degree from us in the spring.
FN: But aren't you curious to know if there is a god or not?
SS: Frankly'no. I'm not.
FN: Is there no mystery in your world?
SS: About politics, yes. Integral calculus, yes. About God? No. Not a bit.
FN: I just want to know.
GK: Well, what sort of evidence would convince you, Mr. Larry?
FN: Call me Larry. Please. -- I don't know. Some sort of miracle would be nice. Water turned into wine. That sort of thing. The sun and the moon standing still. The dead coming to life. Texas voting Democratic. Something that goes against natural law. People walking on water.
GK: Up north people walk on water a lot. It's called ice.
SS: Mr. Larry, you just have to accept the fact that, number one, there is no soul, there is no self, we are simply a teeming mass of electrons who have invented a story about God but we live in a physical world, there is no free will, we simply are carriers of our genetic destiny. Like viruses. And when you die, you will go back to elemental matter and be recycled into the earth. What do you want? Some fairy tale about golf courses in heaven and every hole a hole-in-one?
FN: Nope. Never cared for golf. All I'm asking is that instead of asking questions all the time --- why not try to answer one?
TR: Good question. Why don't we?
SS: Why don't we answer questions?
TR: What's wrong with us?
SS: What's going on, Jim? Why are you looking at me that way?
TR: What way?
SS: You're not aware of the hostility in your eyes?
TR: Listen -- why can't we secular humanists try to answer the big questions instead of just amusing ourselves with our own cleverness?
SS: Cleverness? Rationalism? You think it's cleverness?
TR: Why does this bother you so much? Is it so terrible to say that there a God? Why can't we address that? What's the problem?
SS: You're asking me?
TR: What should I tell him?
SS: How can we answer his questions for him? Isn't that his job?
TR: Why does the thought of faith make you so uneasy?
SS: You think I'm uneasy? How can you even say that?
TR: The thought of certitude --- of finding an answer -- why does this make you angry? Why?
SS: How can you accuse me of being angry?
TR: Can't you hear what's in your voice?
SS: Are you insane? Are you?
TR: Why can't you utter a simple declarative sentence? Why do you only talk in questions?
SS: You want a declarative sentence?
TR: Are you able to utter a declarative sentence?
SS: Is that what you really want? Is it? Or are you simply trying to irritate me? Is this just one of your stupid personal vendettas?
TR: Did I just hear you say "stupid personal vendettas"? Is that what you think? You want to know what I think of you?
SS: Am I supposed to care? (THEY CONTINUE UNDER--.)
GK: Let's go, Larry.
FN: Yeah, sounds like they're working something out here.
GK: Let's go take a walk.
FN: Sounds good.
TR: Are you even able to make a statement?
SS: Is that a question? Is it?
TR: What do you think?
SS: Do you have to look at me like that?
TR: Look at you like what?
SS: Are you off your medications? Are you?)
GK: We walked across the campus and in the distance stood the Albert Camus Football Stadium which was pretty small.
FN: It's a pitiful football team. Anytime you got linguists in the defensive line and a quarterback who majored in art history, you've got a fifth-rate football team. Not that I care about football. I don't. (FOOTSTEPS)
GK: So what do you care about, Larry?
FN: Don't care about money, that's for sure. Making money is easy, Guy. I got all the money I could ever want. I care about Texas. I am just purely in love with Texas. Parts of it are just about the most god-forsaken places you could hope to find and I love it all the more. (CELLPHONE RING) Excuse me. (PICKUP) Yeah? (SS HIGH-PITCHED CHICKEN TALK) -- My wife Berniece.
GK: Sounds steamed.
FN: Actually she's in a pretty good mood. When Berniece get steamed, I'd have to hold this phone with a hotpad. -- Okay, darling. Thank you. Love you. (CLICK HANG UP)
GK: So you're looking for some sort of sign--
FN: I just want to get some kind of answer. I mean, if it's a meaningless life in a world of pure chance, then I just want to know that. (WHINNY)
GK: This your horse?
FN: Yeah. (HORSE FARTS)
GK: Your horse sounds like he's suffering terrible digestive problems. Why, Dr. Flexner--
SS: Mister Noir, you forgot your hat in the administration building--
(HORSE FARTING MELODICALLY)
SS: Well, listen to that.
GK: Is that you?
SS: I beg your pardon. It's not me, it's Larry's horse.
GK: Sounds like horse farts. But he's playing a tune. (HORSE FARTING "EYES OF TEXAS") What is that? Sounds like "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You" -- That's amazing. (HORSE FARTING) A miracle.
SS: Some horse's ass playing "The Eyes of Texas" -- we hear that all the time around here.
TR (REVERB): So what would you rather hear? The Doxology?
TR (REVERB): What?
FN: Is that you?
TR (REVERB): I'm tired of questions. Look around you. Make up your own mind. Quit asking me if I exist or not. You don't want me to be here, I'll go away. But it's a big cosmos out there. You need somebody looking out for you.
FN: You want I should take this money and give it to Abilene Christian University instead?
TR (REVERB): I don't know. Five hundred million is a lot of money. I suppose they could find a use for it but I don't want to spoil them like I did the Episcopalians. Let me think about it.
GK: We stood there while He thought about it (THUNDER, LIGHTNING) and then evidently he went someplace else to think about it and meanwhile I thought about collecting my fee for mediation but the president and the dean of ASHU were nowhere to be found so I headed back to Minnesota.
FN (INTERCOM): This is your pilot Buck talking to you from up here -- we'll be taking off in a few minutes, making a steep climb and a sharp turn to avoid having to look at Amarillo, a town where a woman dumped me once and I never could forget it. Abilene now, that's different, women there don't treat you mean, and maybe you've heard that -- speaking of which, our flight attendant Missy is now gonna show you all about seat belts and buckles'hooooooooo boy.
TR (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 trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions. Guy Noir, Private Eye.