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SS (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.
(KNOCKING ON DOOR, OFF)
TK (OTHER SIDE OF DOOR): Hey Noir. Noir! Open up.
(THUMPING ON DOOR, OFF)
TK (OTHER SIDE): It’s me. Ray. The custodian. Ray. Open the door.
TK (OTHER SIDE): You okay? Mr. Noir? Hello? (KNOCKS) I’m coming in, Mr. Noir. (UNLOCKS DOOR, OPEN) Mr. Noir? Hello?
GK: Huh. Who? What----- Oh hi. Ray.
TK: You okay?
GK: Just fell asleep. In the middle of a weird dream. You ever have weird dreams?
TK: Yeah. It’s called, My Life. ---- Listen. There’s a guy looking for you. A kind of an ODD guy. Kind of ----- I donno ----- kind of gray in the face ----- smells funny ----- clothes ----- I donno. Want me to call the cops?
GK: Send him up.
TK: You sure?
GK: If I discriminated against odd people, Ray, I would have no business left. Odd people are the only ones who make sense to me anymore.
TK: Okay. But I’m telling you ----- this guy is off. Really off. (FOOTSTEPS AWAY)
GK: I waited for the guy to show and meanwhile I tried to get the dream out of my head. It was about golf, a game I don’t care for. It was fall and I was playing the White Bear Lake course and (SWING, BALL HIT, FLIGHT) I was hitting beautiful long drives and a beautiful woman was watching from the woods---- and I hit a gorgeous iron shot (SWING, HIT) (SS: OOOOOO) and my chip shot from 50 feet out (SWING, HIT) rolled right into the cup for a birdie (SFX) SS: Oh boy! Wow. That was great! Oh gosh. You’re fantastic. You know that?) and she followed me around the course admiring me (SWING, SHOT) SS: Oh baby, O wow, O my gosh, you are great, you are just fabulous, O gosh, do that again---- ) (SWING SHOT) SS: Oh yes. Yes! Yes!) and I was getting birdies and eagles and I started in on my second round and somewhere in there she disappeared----- Hello? ---- Hello???? (TK ECHO) ---- where’d you go?? (TK ECHO) ----- and it was cold out (WIND) and I teed up the ball for the first hole and (SWING, SHOT, FLIGHT, GLASS BREAKAGE) ------ sorry! Sorry! ----- (DISTANT LAUGHTER) and I wanted to stop but I couldn’t ---- I kept playing (SWING, SHOT, DISTANT CRY OF PROTEST) ----- and it was cold, snow was falling, and I was making terrible shots (SWING, SHOT, SPLASH IN POND, DUCKS QUACKING) ---- I shot a 9 on the first hole, 13 on the second ----- and I was about to tee off for the third when the woman came by on skis (SS SINGING, SKIING PAST) and she was gone------ the woman of my dreams.
SS: Hello??? anybody here?
GK: Come in, the door’s open. (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH) I was expecting someone ----- come in-----
SS: I’m sorry----- you’re expecting someone?
GK: It’s okay. Come in.
SS: I can come back later.
GK: No, no---- My name’s Noir. Guy Noir.
SS: I’m LaVona Pearson, Mr. Noir, I’m a teacher. High school English.
GK: I could tell that, Miss Pearson. The plaid slacks, the black turtleneck------ the look of defeat in your face.
You’ve got an armload of term papers, I see.
SS: Make-up papers on The Great Gatsby.
GK: “Make-up papers”?
SS: Yes. If a student turns in a paper that’s unacceptable, I give them an Incomplete and a second chance. They can rewrite it and turn it in in the fall for a grade.
GK: You give them a second chance, it means you have to read twice as many bad papers, Miss Pearson, and my guess, knowing teenagers, is that probably the revision is even worse than the original.
SS: You’re so right.
GK: How can I help?
SS: I left these papers in my car, Mr. Noir, and somebody, Mr. Noir, has been tampering with them. Writing in the margins of the papers ------ writing things like “Beautiful” and “I wish I had thought of that” and “I love you” -----
GK: Interesting handwriting. Fountain pen. Didn’t know anybody used a fountain pen anymore.
SS: The thing is----- my car was locked at the time. And it was still locked when I came back. (STING, BRIDGE)
GK: A lot of guys can open a locked car --but most of them tend not to take a big interest in literature. I was about to start interviewing some of her students when I heard footsteps in the hall……
(SLOW FOOTSTEPS, ONE FOOT DRAGGING SLIGHTLY, AND A CANE)
GK: It was an old man ----- an old young man ----- in a three-piece suit, using a cane, and he looked rather faded, but the face was familiar. It had been a very famous face at one time and though it had gone through some rough weather, still when I looked into his eyes, I could see a light on back in the brain….. Mr. Fitzgerald?
TR (FITZGERALD): Yes-----
GK: Are you all right?
TR (FITZGERALD): I could be worse. I only get to walk once a year, you know. On my birthday. It was a consolation prize for my having died so young.
GK: You were forty-four.
TR (FITZGERALD): Yes. Sitting in my chair in my apartment in Hollywood. Wearing this tweed jacket and this tie, and then the angel came and took me by the hand and off we went. Very startling.
GK: I can imagine.
TR (FITZGERALD): It was really rather easy, death. But walking is difficult when you’ve been floating for so long. Leaning forward and putting your weight on one leg and then the other.
GK: What are you looking for, Mr. Fitzgerald? How can I help?
TR (FITZGERALD): I was supposed to meet Zelda at the Commodore Hotel for lunch.
GK: The Commodore is up on the hill, sir. You’re down by the river.
TR (FITZGERALD): Oh dear. The city has changed, I can’t even find my way around.
GK: You’ve been busy today, haven’t you? You’ve been marking term papers. Miss Pearson noticed.
TR (FITZGERALD): She left them in her car----- in a folder marked Gatsby.
GK: Rather an easy grader, aren’t you, Mr. Fitzgerald?
TR (FITZGERALD): What-----
GK: “The green light at the end of the dock is a symbol which adds meaning to the novel even though it may also cause confusion, and the green light symbolizes Go. So, Jay Gatsby tried to win Daisy and instead he winds up dead in his swimming pool. So even though you get a green light you should still look both ways.”
You gave that an A, Mr. Fitzgerald.
TR (FITZGERALD): The boy who wrote it scored a touchdown the next night. A 147-pound halfback, and he caught a quick pass, and a hole opened in the defense for two seconds and he burst through and into the end zone and he danced a very elegant dance. I gave him an A for the dance.
GK: And how about this one? “Dreams are at the center of what The Great Gatsby is all about. If we could only understand our dreams, we could understand ourselves and Jay Gatsby did not and his lack of self-understanding was why he got shot by the husband of the woman who got run over by his car which, by the way, Gatsby was not even driving, Daisy was.” Not a great term paper. You gave it an A+, Mr. Fitzgerald.
TR (FITZGERALD): The A+ was for the way he kissed a girl the night he turned in the paper. They were walking along the street by the Cathedral and stopped under a streetlight and he held both her hands and then held her head in his hands and studied it and it reminded me of one of the prettiest sentences I ever wrote: "He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, and the tuning-fork had been struck upon a star. She blossomed for him like a flower.”
GK: That is nice. I like that.
TR (FITZGERALD): Want me to read it to you again?
GK: No---- oh oh-----
TR (FITZGERALD): What is it?
GK: She’s coming back. Miss Pearson.
TR (FITZGERALD): Good. I’d like to talk to her.
GK: No no------ it’d terrify her. She wouldn’t understand.
(KNOCKS ON DOOR) Be right there!
TR (FITZGERALD): I’m good with women.
GK: I suppose, but you’re dead now.
TR (FITZGERALD): Not entirely.
GK: In the closet.
TR (FITZGERALD): No.
GK: Yes. Go------ (KNOCKS ON DOOR) Coming!!!!
TR (FITZGERALD): I’ve been cooped up in a coffin all year and now I’ve got to go in a closet? Please------
GK: In the closet. I’ll get rid of her.
TR (FITZGERALD): It’s my birthday! (RESISTS) No-----
GK: Sir---- in there. (DOOR CLOSE. LOCKS) (KNOCKS ON DOOR) (FOOTSTEPS, DOOR OPEN) Miss Pearson. Sorry to keep you waiting.
SS: I changed my mind, Mr. Noir.
SS: I don’t want to know who wrote on those papers. I don’t care for The Great Gatsby. I just can’t do it anymore.
GK: It’s a great American novel------ everybody loves it.
SS: I used to love it too, but now I think it’s just one more relic of white male angst that we women have been forced to care about for too long now------ (TR SHOUTING MUFFLED, SHAKES LOCKED DOOR)----- what is going on? Who is that?
GK: It’s the plumber. Fixing a drainpipe. ----- (POUNDS ON DOOR) Okay, Mr. McQuillan. I’ll be with you in a minute, sir.
SS: After 15 years of assigning Gatsby to freshmen------ I’m tired of it.
GK: Reading bad term papers can wear you down.
SS: I just don’t care for it. The narrator Nick Carraway is so smug and Gatsby is just pathetic and Tom and Daisy are monsters------ who’s to like? Nobody. Parts of it are very nice but frankly I think that Zelda was a better writer. Sorry. I do. (TR SHOUTING, MUFFLED: What’d she say about Zelda?)
GK: She said that pipe needs welding, Mr. McQuillan. So just hold your horses.
SS: Anyway, I’ve got to go teach. It never stops, you know. Kids keep coming and we teachers beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
GK: You have a way with words, Miss Pearson.
SS: Thanks. (BRIDGE)
GK: I opened up the closet to let Mr. Fitzgerald out and the closet was empty. The dead can be awfully evasive when they want to be. On the closet floor I found a pale corsage, somewhat dry, a souvenir from an old dance perhaps----- (KNOCKS ON DOOR)
Come in, door’s open---
SS (DORIS): I already did.
GK: Hi Doris.
SS (DORIS): Just wanted to tell you your rent is due.
GK: I know Doris. I was just about to go to the bank.
SS (DORIS): Right. Maybe if you want to get money out you ought to take a pistol and a ski mask.
GK: I mean it, Doris, I’m going to pay you.
SS (DORIS): Tuesday, Guy. I mean it. Or else I’m putting a lock on your door. And don’t ask me to turn on the heat, Guy. You get cold put on a sweater. Where’d you get the corsage?
GK: From a friend, Doris. And you know what he told me? He said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
SS (DORIS): Then I am a very intelligent woman.
GK: How so, Doris?
SS (DORIS): I know you’re not going to pay me the rent and yet I am able to believe that you will.
GK: That’s wonderful, Doris. You hold onto that idea.
SS (DORIS): I’m trying to. See you Tuesday. Noon. Okay?
GK: I hope so.
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.
Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).