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: It was April, and I was in New York, working on the case of the Russian multibillionaire. Rumors had swept the Upper West Side that a man with an accent was in the market for an apartment with a view of Central Park, that he was a natural gas multibillionaire from Siberia and was willing to pay fifty or sixty million for the right place. So a man named Randolph Snelling was trying to sell his condo......
FN: Look. It's only a one-bedroom, but it's a big one-bedroom.
GK: How much you pay for this place?
FN: Four-hundred thousand.
GK: And you're asking how much?
FN: Eleven million.
FN: You got to aim high.
GK: Eleven million????
FN: You can't be afraid to ask.
GK: So you want me to find this Russian billionaire.....
GK: And drag him to your apartment.
FN: I'll have the vodka on ice, and my sister-in-law will come in in her bikini and play the part of the next-door neighbor.
(ED OFF MIC, SINGING A SCALE THAT WINDS UP SHARP)
GK: Who's that?
FN: Next door neighbor but she's gone most of the day.
GK: Those walls are awfully thin. You are not going to have a happy buyer on your hands.
(ED OFF MIC, ANOTHER SCALE THAT HITS A CLINKER)
FN: I'll deal with her. Go find me that Russian. (BRIDGE)
GK: So I went around town listening for a Russian accent, and on a hunch I went in the New York Public Library to see if anybody had taken out Pushkin recently.
SS (RUSSIAN): Pushkin. Nobody reads Pushkin but Russian.
GK: Well, that's who I'm looking for,
SS (RUSSIAN): You look for Russian? Russian who?
GK: I just like to make new friends.
SS (RUSSIAN): Our Russian section is down in the sub-sub-sub basement, in the stacks. Igor will take you down. (FN HUNCHBACK OFF)
GK: Thanks. Excuse me, are you Russian?
SS (RUSSIAN): Am I Russian? Ha. Are bears in the woods Catholic?
GK: Right. (BRIDGE) So I followed Igor (TR MUTTERING) aboard an old elevator that went down deep (SFX) into the bowels of the library and he pointed me off to one corner (TR) and I followed him over there. And then I saw the forklift. (SFX) A guy in a hard hat was running it and it was scooping up stacks of books and putting them on a conveyor belt (SFX) that carried them off down a dark passageway. It was like a coal mine except they were mining books.
TR (IGOR): We are clearing out all the books. But here are the Pushkin over here.
GK: How can they clear out the books? It's a library.
TR (IGOR): Nobody reads old books. Only new books. Only on iPad and Kindle.
GK: But you've got millions of books down here.
TR (IGOR): Three million. Maybe four.
GK: This is a world-class library.
TR (IGOR): World-class warehouse.
GK: What are they going to do with the space?
TR (IGOR): It's valuable real estate. Parking ramp and condos.
GK: Where are the books going?
TR (IGOR): To Turtle Mountain in North Dakota.
GK: There are no mountains in North Dakota.
TR (IGOR): There will be when these books get out there.
GK: I looked at the Pushkin and in a big volume of his epic poem "Eugene Onegin" I found a bookmark, a sales slip for the Excelsior health club on the Upper West Side, so I headed up there. Past the street singers (PD: STREETS OF LONDON LINES, FADE) and past the street vendors (FN: Hey buddy, looky here. Got something I want to show you. Lookit this necktie. It's Newt Gingrich. See? And you pull on the tie and he waves bye-bye and disappears. Nice, huh? Got a backscratcher too. Gets all the way down to the itchy part.) and I went past the street comedians.
TR: Hey I used to be a banker but I lost interest. Okay? There is a hole in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it. (BRIDGE)
GK: I found the Excelsior Health Club and I walked in and a woman sat behind the counter, weeping.
SS (WEEPING): Hello, what can I do for you? (SOBBING)
GK: I'm looking for a Russian guy who paid $157.58 for a three-month membership.
SS (WEEPING): I'm sorry. I'm not usually like this.
GK: What's the problem? Somebody die?
SS (WEEPING): It's my son, Anton, been six days since he called. Six days. No word.
GK: Where is he? Europe?
SS (WEEPING): Brooklyn. Why did he have to go to Brooklyn? I've got a spare bedroom. He could've lived with me, rent free, long as he wanted. I did everything for him. Everything.
GK: How old is he?
SS (WEEPING): "How old is he??" What does it matter how old he is?
GK: Is he under sixteen?
SS (WEEPING): He's thirty six.
GK: She gave me her son's phone number and I called and he picked right up.
TR (ON PHONE): Yeah?
GK: How's it going?
TR: Who is this?
GK: My name is Aegisthus and I'm your mom's lover and we just murdered your father when he came home from the Trojan war trying to rescue Helen.
TR: The Trojan what? (BRIDGE)
GK: I went back to the front desk. The woman had calmed down a little.
SS: You talk to Anton?
GK: He's fine. He's coming right over. He'll be here soon.
SS: I'll believe it when I see it.
GK: Anyway, I'm looking for this Russian guy.
SS: What you want with him?
GK: Just want to find him.
SS: He's not here.
GK: Mind if I go around and look?
SS: I said he's not here.
GK: You know where he went?
SS: Who are you, a cop?
GK: Do I look like a cop to you?
SS: Well, some cops keep working past retirement.
GK: That was not a kind remark........
SS: I'm a manager, mister, I'm not your social worker.
GK: And right then I heard footsteps (SFX) and I could smell the perfume.
ED: Excuse me. Could I have another towel? Please? (BRIDGE)
GK: She had six towels wrapped around her neck and a lozenge in her mouth and she had a bottle of water, so I could see she was a singer. And I smelled her perfume and it was a French perfume called Le Madeleine and it was the same perfume used by a woman named Zuzu (SS FRENCH THROATY), a woman I used to know back in my younger days (SS GALLIC CHUCKLE, GK GALLIC CHUCKLE) when we used to play racquetball together at Le Club (RACQUETBALL HIT, BOUNCE, W GALLIC CHUCKLES, VOLLEY CONTINUES SLOWLY, DREAMLIKE) and I never could keep my eye on the ball, I only had eyes for her. Ah Zuzu. The smell of the perfume brought it all back. (SS FRENCH WHISPER)
ED: Are you all right? -----Should I call a doctor?
GK: You---- you're a singer, aren't you?
ED: (SINGS) Singing is my life, my calling, it is my reason for being. (ENDS SHARP)
GK: Oh. And you're an opera singer?
ED (SINGS, SHARP): Yes. I am singing at the Met— Musetta in "La Boheme"------
GK: And is that coming up soon?
ED (SINGS, SHARP): Next week-----
GK: Do you live next to a man named Randolph Snelling in a building over on West End?
ED (SINGS): I believe I do. Yes, I think I met him once. (ENDS SHARP)
GK: Ma'am----- look ----- I don't usually offer advice to opera singers but you've got a little vocal problem.
ED (SINGS SHARP): I do????
GK: I think you may have a lozenge stuck in your throat.
ED (SINGS SHARP): Oh???????
GK: Excuse me for doing this but I'm going to whack you a good hard one on the back, okay? (HE SWINGS, THUMP. DING OF METAL DISH. ED BIG CLEAR NOTE) See? Cleared that right up for you.
ED: I can sing again! I can sing!
I sing quite well, much better than a baritone
And my costumes are thrilling
When I rise up, when I rise up and hit those high notes
I make all of the old men cry.
TR (CRIES OUT IN RUSSIAN)----
ED: Oh wow.
GK: You know him?
ED: No, but I think I'm about to.
TR (SOULFUL RUSSIAN)
GK: It sounds like he's in love with you.
ED: I don't know, but he wants to buy my apartment. For six million dollars.
GK: So you understand Russian?
ED: Six million dollars. I understand—
TR (SOULFUL RUSSIAN)
ED: Six million dollars. And I'm only subletting. Wow.
TR (SOULFUL RUSSIAN)
ED: This is my lucky day. How can I ever repay you, Mr. Noir?
GK: I'm thinking. (BRIDGE) I thought about repayment and then I inhaled her Le Madeleine perfume and suddenly I was in Paris (FRENCH POLICE SIREN) and French birds in the trees (SFX SMALL BIRDS) in the Tuileries ----- and a bottle of Dom Perignon (CORKSCREW, CORK POP) and a dozen oysters (SFX) in a café where poets read from their work (TR SOFT POETIC FRENCH) and a chanteuse sings in the corner -----
Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Il me parle tout bas,
Je vois la vie en rose.
GK: And you sit with your arm around a beautiful woman who laughs at your jokes (ED MUSICAL LAUGHTER) (GK GALLIC LAUGHTER), and when I opened my eyes, the singer was gone. Gone. And so was the Russian.
SS: Hey, what happened to you?
GK: I don't know. Where are they?
SS: They went to the bank.
GK: Which bank?
SS: How should I know? But you better get out of here.
SS: My son, Anton. He's out of his mind. He's on his way over from Brooklyn to avenge the death of his father. What did you tell him? His father's not dead. His father's in New Jersey. Big difference. (STING)
GK: So I went down in the subway and waited for a downtown train (FN INCOMPREHENSIBLE P.A. ANNOUNCE), and a train came that was headed downtown (SFX, TRAIN BRAKES, DOOR OPEN), and I got on and there was the mayor.
TR (BLOOMBERG): Excuse me. I'm Mike Bloomberg. Would you like some cashews?
GK: I'm fine.
TR (BLOOMBERG): You haven't seen any big Russian financiers around here, have you? I understand there was one in the neighborhood.
GK: I think I saw him, yeah. He's with an opera star.
TR (BLOOMBERG): I'm trying to find him so maybe he could help us out. City could use more multibillionaires. Where can I find this guy?
GK: Just walk around and look for a beautiful woman whose perfume makes you think of Paris and birds in the trees and poetry and champagne and oysters.
TR (BLOOMBERG): If I go around town coming up close to beautiful women so I can smell their perfume, I'm gonna get my face slapped.
GK: Nothing comes free. There is a price to be paid for every pleasure, Mr. Mayor.
TR (BLOOMBERG): Hey, you're right. Thanks for the advice.
GK: You're welcome.
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 still 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).