TR: 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.


GK: I was in Chicago in a joint called Studs's Place, home of the Authentic Chicago Red-Hot, where I was waiting for a guy named Louie who was on the Chicago Pension Board. I wanted to ask him why a woman named Edna Edlund couldn't get her pension after sixty years working as a cleaning lady in the Chicago Public Schools.

SS (OLD): It was my privilege to work in the schools and I bought all my own cleaning supplies and after thirty-seven years I retired but they didn't have money to replace me so I kept on --- I mean, somebody had to do it----and I'm still working ---- and my knees are giving out --- not that I'm complaining ---- but I'm wondering why I don't get a pension. Can you help, Mr. Noir. I'm 87 years old and all I have is what I win at bingo. (STING)

GK: So I had arranged with this Louie from the Pension board to meet me at Studs's and he was now fifteen minutes late.

TR (STUDS): Hey, watch out for your antecedents.

GK: My what?

TR (STUDS): It's Louie who's fifteen minutes late. Not me.

GK: You're Studs? I thought you died.

TR (STUDS): I thought bout it but I couldn't find a buyer. Hey--- how about those Black Hawks. Makes a person proud to be Swedish.

GK: Terkel is Swedish?

TR (STUDS): It used to be Torkelson. Anyway, they got six Swedes on the team. Wonderful guys. Kruger, Oduya, Hjalmarsson, Nordstrom, Rundblad and Erixon. And with Swedes, you get persistence. And that's what wins games. Hey--- you look hungry. How about a Chicago dog?

GK: That's the wiener with the onion, mustard, and relish and peppers and dill pickle, right?

TR (STUDS): Awww, it's a free country. Have it anyway you want.

GK: How about with catchup?

TR (STUDS): We're not that free yet. Mustard.

GK: Could you hold the pickle?

TR (STUDS): Why would I hold a pickle? I'd rather hold a cigar.

GK: Okay. I'll have one. And a cuppa coffee.

TR (STUDS): It's better with a gin martini. The gin cushions the fall of the peppers.

GK: Coffee, please.

TR (STUDS): Awright. (SHOUTS) A dog in the garden with java.

FN: Hey. While you're waiting, how about a hand of poker? I'm trying to learn the game --- you play poker?

GK: I have played it now and then.

FN: Well, I have a deck of cards. Let me ask you first---- it's ace, king, queen, jack, ten ----- right?

GK: You got it.

FN: And I deal one down, three up, and one down. Right?

GK: If you like, sure. (SHUFFLE)

HL: Excuse me----- sir?

GK: Sorry, we're playing two-man poker, sir. We can deal you in later.

HL: No thanks. Listen ---- you look like a smart guy, I wonder if you'd care to take a look at a product I've invented, tell me if you think it has possibilities.

GK: I'm sort of busy, sir. Waiting for a guy named Louie.

HL: It'll just take a minute. Look at this. (HARMONICA CHORD)

GK: It's a harmonica.

HL: Right. But it's a telepathic harmonica .

GK: What?

HL: It responds to telepathic brain waves. Cognitive neuropathy. The auditory cortex in the supratemporal lobe takes the brain impulses and puts them through chromatic sensory sequencing ---- now you're wondering, "What about the parietal lobe?" Well, the parietal lobe is out of the loop, along with the basal ganglia, ventral thalamus, and the posterior cerebellum.

GK: What is the posterior cerebellum?

HL: Just what it sounds like. So the auditory cortex sends stimuli directly to the circuitry in the harmonica and ---- listen to this. "Oh Susannah" (A FEW BARS) ---- you start with the simple things and work up to the Bach D Minor Fugue (FEW BARS) and Stravinsky's Rite of Spring (A FEW BARS) and without any lessons --- no need to practice, you become a great player simply because you can THINK CLEARLY. It's the Think System.

FN: Excuse me, but does my three Jacks beat your six and eight? I think it does. Maybe I should look it up.

GK: No, it does. You win. There's your ten bucks.

FN: How about another hand? You have a minute?

GK: Okay.

FN: How about a hundred bucks ante, and fifty bucks to raise?

GK: Well, I donno----

HL: Listen, I'm going out to my van and get a harmonica for you. I want you to take it home---- try it out for ten days ---- and tell me if you like it.

GK: Okay, but I'm not going to buy it, okay?

HL: No, no. Be right back.

TR (STUDS): Here's your dog, mister. And a cuppa java. Care for a cigar with that?

GK: No, thanks. Say, Studs----- how'd your pension system get in such a mess in Illinois?

TR (STUDS): That's easy. The subject of pensions is utterly boring so the system was designed by people who were semi-conscious Speaking of which----- here's your guy from the Pension Board. Louie.


DR: You Noir?

GK: Yeah. Louie?

DR: Right. Listen, I'm running a little late so what's your problem? How can I help?

GK: I'm looking for a pension for Edna Edlund, who's been a cleaning lady in the public schools for sixty years and now she wants to retire.

DR: Tell her to mail the application.

GK: She did. In 2008.

DR: Well, there's your problem. She wasn't annuitized. She should've waited for 2009 when the actuarial valuation was such that the accrual rate at the PRSA reached the benchmark for fixed emoluments and discretionary indexation. She should've waited and then filed a Certificate of Existence.

GK: A certificate of existence? She was busy cleaning public schools in Chicago.

DR: Well, we don't know that unless it's certified.

GK: That is crazy. You must've bumped your head on a ballpeen hammer, mister.

DR: I didn't make the rules. I'm just doing my job.

GK: Yeah, but none of this makes sense at all. Are you a CPA? Do you have a background in finance?

DR: I self-identify as a CPA.

GK: You self-identify as a CPA?

DR: I once dated a financial consultant.. My daughter is terrific at math.

GK: Do you have a degree in finance or accounting?

DR: No, but from a very young age I felt a visceral connection with finance. I drew pictures of myself as a financier. I internalized the whole finance experience, and I feel that that's who I am.

GK: A financial consultant.

DR: Yes. I refuse to be marginalized from the world of finance. I empower myself. I believe in self-empowerment. This is not about me. This is about dignity.

GK: So in other words, Edna Edlund is just plain out of luck.

DR: I'll see what I can do. But, yes.

FN: You know,: I'm not a hundred percent sure but I think that my Ace, King, Queen, and Jack of hearts are gonna take those two sixes of yours---- let me look it up in the rulebook.

GK: Oh never mind. What do I owe you?

FN: Three hundred and fifty bucks.

GK: Okay. ---- Whoa. Wait a minute? My billfold is gone. It was in my back pocket.

FN: You want to play another hand, maybe you can win back what you lost.

GK: No. Hey, Studs-----

TR (STUDS): Yeah?

GK: I didn't give you my billfold, did I?

TR (STUDS): Nope.

FN: Maybe you should ask the guy with the harmonica.

TR (STUDS): Wait a minute. Did some guy just try to sell you on the idea of the telepathic harmonica?

GK: Yeah?

TR (STUDS): Fingers Flanagan. Biggest booster of billfolds in Cook County. Did he play the Stravinsky "Rite of Spring" for ya?

GK: Yeah.

TR (STUDS): You been had, Mister. And you---- Aces McCoy-----

FN: Who? Me? What's wrong?

TR (STUDS): Give the man back his ten bucks.

FN: Hey---- come on! I'm just trying to earn a living.

TR (STUDS): Aces McCoy. A man who can shuffle with pinpoint accuracy.

GK: A card sharp, huh?

TR (STUDS): You've been had by the best, Mr. Noir.


GK: I felt bad about Mrs. Edlund's pension so I dropped by her daughter's house to apologize.

SS: Mom's at school. Cleaning. You must be Mr. Noir. I'm Becky.

GK: Yeah. I feel really bad about the pension. I mean, she's entitled to a big one. But I donno.

SS: Hey. No problem. We'll be fine.

GK: You work in the schools?

SS: No. I'm just an ordinary housewife and an amateur engraver.

GK: Oh, really.

SS: I just do it as a hobby. Here's the thousand bucks we owe you.

GK: Thanks. But I shouldn't charge you that much. That's a lot of money.

SS: Naw. There's plenty more where that came from.

GK: And then I looked at the money. Ten hundreds. All clean and new. And the eye in the pyramid had long lashes. And the signature on the front was "Edna Edlund, Treasurer of the United States".

SS: Everything okay?

GK: Yeah. Some of the ink came off on my fingers though.

SS: It'll dry. Just don't rub it. When you get home, put them in the dryer.

GK: Okay. Good luck. Be careful. (BRIDGE)

I went back to Studs's Place to pay him for the hot dog and when I put down a hundred-dollar bill ----

TR (STUDS): Hey, that is a very nice job of printing. People keep trying to pass phony bills here but that is one of the better ones.

GK: You could tell it was counterfeit?

TR (STUDS): Listen, I didn't just fall off the rutabaga wagon. I'm from Chicago, I know what's what.

GK: And then I looked around and there was Aces McCoy, playing poker with a salesman from Omaha.

FN: Okay, and now I draw two, and ----- well, look at that---- there's that Jack I was hoping for ----- Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten ---- and my gosh, they're all clubs ---- you know, unless I'm badly mistaken, that's a Royal Flush.

GK: And at the other end of the bar----

HL: I call it a telepathic harmonica because it responds to brain waves --- you imagine a piece of music and it plays it, perfectly. You know "Stars and Stripes Forever" ?---- John Philip Sousa? ---- well, you just think of it and (FEW BARS OF SOUSA)

GK: How about another red-hot, Studs?

TR (STUDS): You bet. Did I ever tell you about when I played with the Black Hawks. That was in 1930. I was left forward on the third line. Played outdoors back then so it was a short season. Played on the lake, where Navy Pier is, and sometimes in March the ice sheet would come loose and we'd float down to Indiana, but it didn't stop the game. Yeah, it was different then. Hey---- you want to bet a hundred bucks on the Hawks doing it again next year?

GK: There's my hundred.

TR (STUDS): See you next summer.


SS: 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. (MUSIC OUT)