A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor

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Guy Noir script


Tim Russell: 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 summer in St. Paul and as usual I was low on cash. There just aren't many missing heiresses in St. Paul — not many tycoons found dead in the solarium with blood stains on the cummerbund — but then I got a call from Holland America —

TR (ON PHONE): It's Hank Von Amerongen, Mr. Noir. I've got a job for you. On our cruise ship, the Maasdam. We have a woman on the loose who's seducing lonely old men and tying them up and stealing their identity.

GK: Well, loose women are a specialty of mine, sir. Where should I report? (BRIDGE) I met the ship in Boston (FORK LIFT, BACKING) where they were loading on the mineral water, the fresh arugula, the parmesan shavings, the crates of Jane Austen novels that public radio listeners expect to find on a cruise. I boarded and found a swimming pool (DIVING BOARD, SPLASH) and ping pong tables (SFX) and steam room (SFX) — the usual — plus a more or less constant buffet (MURMUR OF VOICES) — it was a nice ship. Not as big as the SS Colossus (BIG BOAT HORN) which carries 5000 passengers and a crew of 14 — a no frills cruise — where they shovel big forkloads of food into long stainless steel troughs (PIGS) — but it was bigger the SS Babylon with 40 passengers and a crew of 386 (ELEGANT HORN) — in which you have people to dress you and brush your teeth (SFX) and chew your food for you. (SFX) Next to the Maasdam was another ship loading up for an Evangelicals cruise, loading a couple of elephants (SFX), a couple of walruses (SFX), two hyenas (SFX), two lions (SFX), two calling birds (SFX), three French hens (SFX), four turtle doves (SFX), and so forth.

There was music all over the boat (JAZZ SAX), music of all kinds (BANJO), and skeet shooting (TARGET RELEASE, GUNSHOTS) on the stern and also a driving range (SWING, CONK, FLIGHT OF BALL, SPLASH, CRY OF SEAGULL) and I walked around and then went to my cabin, 987, one deck below water level. I was looking at a postcard from my ex girlfriend Sugar postmarked Piscacadawadaquoddymoggin. It said, "The weather is here. Wish you were beautiful." It was addressed to: Lonely Guy, the Maasdam. Somehow they'd found me.

And then came the knock on the door. (KNOCKS) Come on in, the door's open. (DOOR OPEN, FOOTSTEPS)

She was beautiful. She stood in the doorway and my heart pounded like it wanted to get out. She was a bombshell. And I was the one about to explode. "Come in," I explained.


She was the woman of my dreams. Her hair was the color God had in mind when he said, "Let there be hair." Her skin was like warm butterscotch. Her jeans were so tight I could read the washing instructions on her underwear. It said Wash in lukewarm and spin lightly. And I would've done it too. Her T-shirt was so tight I could hardly breathe. It was a black T-shirt with Mt Rushmore on the front. Those four guys never looked so good. Especially Washington and Lincoln.

She gave me a look so sweet you could've poured it on your pancakes.

Prudence Johnson: Hi. Nice cabin. I heard you're a detective—

GK: I am.

PJ: I've got a problem, Mr. Noir.

GK: What's that? (KNOCKS) Who is it? (DOOR OPEN, FOOTSTEPS)

Fred Newman: I am Margaret Spivak, Mr Noir. May I speak with you for just a few minutes about community. You probably think of "community" as meaning a geographical place. But it can also be a place in the mind. Don't you agree? That's how we feel about public radio. It's a community. Have you ever heard the term "listener-supported radio"? Probably you have. And that's why I wanted us to have this talk.

GK: Miss Spivak—

FN: Ms. Spivak—

GK: Ms. Spivak — I am suffering from a heart condition — my mitral valve is like a ticking time bomb.

FN: You look just fine to me—

GK: I have to avoid stress, otherwise I could fall over dead with my head in your lap. I don't think either of us would want that.

FN: No. Especially not with that leather belt — You do know that some ungulate gave its life to support your pants?

GK: I do. Thank you.


So— where were we. You said you had a problem—

PJ: It's a problem with a missing person.

GK: What happened?

PJ: It hasn't happened. Yet. He's going to be missing but not right away.


GK: Go away. I have a client. (DOOR OPEN)

FN: Hey, man. How you doin'? Want to try a clam on a stick? Ever had one? They're tasty. Just like lobster, you know what I'm sayin'. Deep-fried. $1.25. But for you, I'm gonna give you the first one for free and the second one is going to be one dollar. So what do you say?

GK: I'm allergic to clam. It would give me a coronary. I'd die.

FN: Okay, I hear what you're saying. How about a salmon on a stick?

GK: Salmon is the same except worse.


GK: So this missing person.

PJ: I only want to make him happy.


GK: She got a misty look and I should've said goodbye right then. A beautiful woman is nothing but a truckload of grief, I know that, I've been over that cliff before, my heart has been broken so many times, it jingles when I walk, but still I was in love with her.


I'm not even going to answer because I know you're probably going to walk in anyways.


FN: Let me introduce myself. I am Lurleen, I am a cosmetologist at the spa.

GK: He's on the 11th floor.

FN: Have you ever thought about some eyebrow tweezing? Those eyebrows of yours look like the bumper on a Volvo.

GK: He's down one floor, Ma'am. This is the twelfth floor.

FN: Well, if you should change your mind, here's my card. (OFF)

GK: So— something about you makes me feel we were destined to meet, ma'am?

PJ: Let's go in my car, okay?

GK: Okay.

FN: Hi. The door was open so I walked in.

GK: You were very quiet.

FN: Hi. I'm from the spa and I heard you had a heart condition and I do this therapy where I work with the currents in your body. Let me show you. If you just relax and let me take your head under my arm —

GK: Don't want you to take my head under your arm.

FN: Just take a deep cleansing breath and relax and go with it—

GK: You lay a hand on me, pal— It's going to smart.

FN: Hey. Maybe another time. Ciao. (FOOTSTEPS, DOOR CLOSE)

GK: I looked at her for what seemed like half an hour.

PJ: I want you to know, I never did anything like this before.

GK: Anything like what?

PJ: Like what you're thinking about.

GK: I was only thinking about it so that if you thought about it, then there'd be two of us.

PJ: I can't do that. I'm a messenger of God.

GK: In what sense?

PJ: I'm an angel. I'm the person who takes you up from earth and introduces you to God.

GK: I see. And it's my time—

PJ: Yes.

GK: I was sort of hoping to go suddenly, under suspicious circumstances.

PJ: No. You're going to die of a heart attack and fall into my lap.

GK: Well— at least there is that compensation. When?

PJ: It'll happen when it happens.

GK: Suddenly I wish I had done more with my life. Taken more chances. Gone out for long walks instead of sitting home, brooding. I did way too much brooding. Thought about death. And now it's here. And now I wish I could have just one more day. Twenty-four hours. I don't care if it rains or shines— just one more day.

PJ: I'm sorry, Mr. Swenson. It's time to go.

GK: Swenson? He's the holistic chiropractor on the 11th floor. My name is Noir.

PJ: I am so, so sorry. I had his picture on me and then I flew through a thunderstorm and I lost it. These mistakes happen. You understand.

GK: And she crossed her arms and pulled the T-shirt up over her head. Underneath she wore a Spandex halter so skimpy, if it was cut any shorter, it would've been a belt.

PJ: Here. At least you ought to get a T-shirt out of it.

GK: I sat there looking at it and then (KNOCKS ON DOOR) in came a wine salesman named Art—

FN: I'm tellin' ya, Maine wine is the next new thing. We got a sharaz coming outta Puyalip that'll knock your Nike's off. We're low ballin' it at 3.99 a liter - and moving it like monkeys.

GK: But all the time I was thinking about her, (LA VIE EN ROSE) her blonde hair, her smile, the air she exhaled. And I got my wish. Another day. In fact, a number of them.

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 — me. Guy Noir.

A Prairie Home Companion Cruise is produced by Prairie Home Productions, presented by American Public Media Group

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