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 February, a cold and treacherous month when almost anyone may find himself suddenly falling down a spiralling rathole into a cavern of darkness and despair. It's a month when Ph.Ds are likely to do very stupid things, when ministers may run off with the church soprano, when a good reliable family man like Donald MacDonald can turn up missing and drive his wife to distraction.
SS: He's a good man, Mr. Noir. But he's suddenly taken up ice fishing. Never did it before. Now he goes every weekend. Up to Bemidji. Or so he says. Last weekend, he came back with a 75-pound walleye, mounted, and hung it over the fireplace.
GK: So what's the problem?
SS: Donald is not a fisherman. He likes tofu. He does yoga. He smells fresh and clean. And he doesn't drink. So what would he be doing ice fishing?
GK: Why else would your husband be going to Bemidji in February, ma'am?
SS: I've heard rumors about Bemidji women and how they get crazy in the winter. I just wonder if he isn't shacked up with somebody.
GK: So I headed up north to the End of the Trail Resort outside of Bemidji. My car (CAR SPUTTERS) couldn't make it through the deep snow ---so--I switched to a snowmobile (SNOWMOBILE) and when the trail got too rough I switched to a dogsled (DOGS, WHIP, SLED), and when I saw the big two-story lodge in the woods, I jumped off (LANDING IN SNOW) (DOGS FADE AWAY). I walked into the lodge where a man was drinking a glass of white wine. There was a record player in the corner. (PHONOGRAPH, SS SINGING "LA VIE EN ROSE") ----- excuse me, sir?
GK: Are you here for the fishing?
TK (FRENCH): Do I write fiction? No, I am a poet.
GK: I asked about fishing. Fish.
TK (FRENCH): No, I mostly write about lost love and mortality and youth and football and political unrest and food.
GK: Oh. That. (FOOTSTEPS AWAY AS MUSIC FADES) There were paintings on the wall, abstracts, and a lot of earthenware pottery, none of it very good, and then a tall man in a black beret approached.
TR (GRUFF): Can I get you a cup of herbal tea? We have a lovely narcissus tea with infusions of orange and peppermint.
GK: You the owner here?
TR (GRUFF): Yeah. Mitch is the name.
GK: A fishing lodge serving herbal tea seems odd to me. What's going on here?
TR (GRUFF): You're not the novelist coming in from Iowa?
TR (GRUFF): Oh, I thought you were. Who are you?
GK: The name's Noir. Guy Noir. I'm looking for a guy named Donald MacDonald.
TR (GRUFF): We don't have anybody by the name here.
GK: Don't waste my time, mister.
TR (GRUFF): There is no Donald MacDonald here.
SS: Excuse me----- Johnny ----- (SHE WHISPERS. TR WHISPERS BACK) Mr. MacDonald is registered here under another name. Desmond L'Etranger.
GK: Where can I find him?
SS: Please, Mister. We offer our guests privacy. We promise them complete discretion.
GK: Is he with a woman?
SS: No, no, no.
GK: Where is he? I'll only say hello, then I'm out of here.
TR (GRUFF): He's out there. On the ice. In fishing shack No. 17.
SS: Please don't cause a big scene, mister.
GK: I'll be so quiet you won't even know I'm here. (BRIDGE) So out I went across the snow (FOOTSTEPS IN SNOW) towards the fishing shacks which seemed to me to be larger than your typical fish house and as I came up toward one I heard piano music from inside----- I tiptoed up to it and opened the door (DOOR OPEN, PIANO IN THE MIDDLE OF BIG WARSAW CONCERTO PASSAGE) and there was a man with big hair at a Steinway with a candelabra on it (DOOR CLOSE, PIANO STOP) and I walked on to the next shack and opened it and (OPEN, SS SINGING SCALES, UP, DOWN) a woman in a black turtleneck stood singing and (DOOR SHUT, SS STOP) I walked to the next one and opened the door (DOOR OPEN) and there was a naked man covered with green paint and he ran (BAREFOOT STEPS) and flung himself onto an enormous canvas (TK SLIDING ON CANVAS, SQUOSHING OF PAINT) (DOOR CLOSE) and I looked in the next shack and (GLORPS, SPLORTS, SPLATS) a woman was working with clay to make a big ugly pot with rocks stuck to it (SS HUMMING, SPLORTS, SPLATS) and then she put it on a potter's wheel (SPINNING, HIGH SPEED) and in the next shack a bald man sat at a piano and seemed to be composing (DRIBBLE OF NOTES, ODD INTERVALS). He looked up to see me. (TR GERMAN: Did you bring my tea? GK: The narcissus tea? TR GERMAN: Jahwohl. And bring me the sausages and the cheese, okay? GK: Be right there. (MORE DRIBBLE OF NOTES)
GK: No sign of fishing did I see ----- (FOOTSTEPS IN SNOW) There were fishing poles outside the shacks and empty beer cases and minnow buckets but inside people were doing various creative things (DOOR OPEN) -----
TR: "O Bemidji you bewitching city situated on the Mississippi, refrigerated city ---- you can have your Cincinnati, San Francisco, Chattahoochee, Gitchee-Gumee, and Poughkeepsie, give me Bemidji------Yes? Hello?
GK: Just passing by, heard your voice. Mind if I come in? (DOOR CLOSE) Desmond L'Etranger?
TR: Yes, that's me.
GK: The name's Noir. Guy Noir. I'm a private eye, Mr. MacDonald. Your wife hired me to find out what's going on.
TR: Please don't tell her. Please.
GK: That you're writing poetry? Why not?
TR: I'm not ready for criticism yet.
GK: Your wife is a critic?
TR: I used to be a cook, mister, until I met my wife and now I don't dare make scrambled eggs. There's always something wrong with them. Don't dare load the dishwasher. I do it wrong. Don't dare buy my own clothes. You get the idea?
GK: Why not just tell her to shove off. Tell her it's none of her business.
TR: You've never been married, have you.
GK: No, you're right. I get the idea. So this fishing resort is actually an artists' colony.
TR: You're not going to blow the whistle on me, are you?
GK: No. I'm an artist too. I used to do avant-garde dance With a blowtorch, blue paint, and no pants, which some people guessed Was genius and the rest Left quickly when given the chance. (BRIDGE) So there it was in Bemidji. Men who'd been forced to work 9-5 jobs, raise kids, coach soccer, go to church council meetings, were able to break free under the guise of ice-fishing. They were able to do junk sculpture (BLOWTORCH, WELDER, BANGING ON METAL) and dance interpretive dance (PIANO CAGE-LIKE RANDOM, WITH FOOTSTEPS) and work on a novel (TYPING, TR: Her hungry fingers like wild white badgers nibbled at the buttons of his silk shirt, his proud pectorals trembling at her touch.). And they went home with a big fish mounted on a board and a photo of them holding it and no questions asked, no harm done.
TR: And no women allowed. Women are full of advice. Or discouragement, which is the same thing. (BRIDGE)
GK: So I reported back to Mrs. MacDonald that Donald had indeed been fishing.
SS: He wasn't with a woman????
GK: He was all alone in his little fishing shack.
GK: What'd you think he'd be doing? Writing poetry?
SS: (LAUGHS) Donald? You're very funny, Mr. Noir. But if he's fishing, why does he smell so good?
SS: Well how long is this ice fishing going to go on?
GK: In Bemidji, the ice melts sometime around Memorial Day.
SS: So he'll come back then?
GK: Maybe earlier.
SS: If you see him, tell him there's a course in adult education on how to load a dishwasher. I signed him up for it.
GK: Sounds fascinating.
SS: What do I owe you, Mr. Noir?
GK: It's on me. My treat. Have a happy Valentine's Day.
SS: Thank you! (BRIDGE)
GK: So---- Another marital crisis averted, another fledgling artist protected. All in a day's work for yours truly. And meanwhile, here we are, the weekend before Valentine's Day. If you're not in love, better hurry up and take care of that. That's what the arts are all about, you know. It's the only good reason to play music (BIG PIANO) or make paintings (TK RUNS BAREFOOT AND THROWS HIMSELF AT THE CANVAS, SQUORTS, SQUOSHING) or to write poetry ----
TR: O you, the vast indescribable you, my sacred someone, my darling Debbie.......
GK: Artists are lovers, and I'd be one if I could, but here I am, trying to get the bottom of things. A detective. Skepticism comes with the job, along with the fedora and the trench coat.
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.