Guy Noir, Private Steele
Date: Wednesday, February 28, 2001
Susan Deborah Smith <>

okay to archive

Guy Noir, Private Steele

a radio play by Susan Deborah Smith
based on characters from Remington Steele and The Prairie Home Companion

ANNOUNCER: The Adventures of Guy Noir, Private Eye is brought to you by The Fearmonger's Shop - serving all of your phobia needs since 1954, and by Dave's House of Plaid - you'll never be hit by a car wearing slacks from Dave's House of Plaid.

[Guy Noir theme]

ANNOUNCER: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but high above the snowy streets, on the twelfth floor of the Acme Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions: [pause] Guy Noir, Private Eye.

[music swells, fades]

GUY: It was getting on toward four o'clock on a January afternoon. We'd managed to get through Christmas, and we'd rung in the New Year of 1982, and now the rest of January was staring us in the face.

Business was slow; it always is around the holidays; not much call for private detectives during the season of peace on earth good will to all men. Sometimes that season extends right on through St. Patrick's Day . . .[heavy sigh] All of a sudden, I heard footsteps out in the hall.

[sound of foot steps]

GUY: I sat up and listened. [chair creaks] The footsteps drew nearer.

[louder footsteps]

GUY: I could tell it was a woman.

[slightly louder, slightly different footsteps]

GUY: A woman, wearing high heels.

[louder footsteps; heels clicking]

GUY: Five inch heels. And a skirt shorter than her mother would approve of. I straightened my jacket and brushed the doughnut crumbs from my lapels. If this was a client, I wanted to make a good impression.

[louder footsteps becoming softer footsteps receding into the distance]

GUY (long pause): Possibly I was mistaken about the heels. The more I thought about it, the more those footsteps sounded like size ten and a half oxfords with orthopedic inserts.

And that skirt, it wasn't so short after all. It was longer, maybe it was a wool knit, the color faded by two many spin cycles through the Kenmore where it shrunk and is now stretched tight over all the wrong places.

I decided to punch the clock and call it a day and head down to the Five Spot for some meaningful conversation.

[door opens; footsteps; door closes; footsteps; door opens; bell jingles; door closes; sounds of the Five Spot Bar]

GUY: Jimmy the Bartender was at his usual post behind the bar.

JIMMY: What can I get for you, Guy? The usual?

GUY (to Jimmy): Oh, I think a gin and tonic, Jimmy. It's a gin and tonic kind of day.

JIMMY: Comin' right up.

[sound of pouring, mixing]

GUY (to us): As Jimmy mixed the drink, I looked around and noticed I was not the only patron of this fine establishment. A woman sat at one of the tables. [music] A young woman. [sexy sax music] A young woman with long, shining chestnut hair was sitting at one of the tables. [sexy sax segues into Mancini's Remington Steele theme] She sat at the table alone, nursing a Scotch. [pause; music continues] Nursing a Scotch. [pause; music continues] Alone.

[music fades]

JIMMY: Guy? Guy? Here's your drink.

GUY (to Jimmy): Thanks, Jimmy.

JIMMY: Whew. Thought I'd lost ya there for a second.

GUY (abruptly): Who's the dame?

JIMMY: I dunno, Guy, but she's pretty. [pause; sound of glass being rubbed with towel] And she looks kinda down. [clink of glasses being put away] Say, why don't you take your drink and go over and say hello?

GUY (to us): I told Jimmy I thought I'd do just that and I did. The lady looked up. She had big brown eyes, beautiful eyes, the kind of eyes a man could drown in unless he had a reliable flotation device.

Her ruffled blouse made her look like a schoolgirl and I wondered if Jimmy had checked her I.D. Or if I should.

GUY (to woman): Mind if I sit down?

GUY (to us): She made a noncommittal gesture, which I took to be assent. Here in Minnesota you don't have to say much to communicate effectively.

[sound of chair scraping back and drink being set on table]

GUY (to woman): Name's Noir. Guy Noir. New in town?

LAURA: Laura Holt. I'm here on business. I mean, I was here on business.

GUY (to us): Her emphasis suggested that business hadn't quite worked out. I signaled to Jimmy to refill her glass.

[sound of Scotch glugging over ice]

GUY (to Laura): It sounds like your business here didn't quite work out.

GUY (to us): She leaned back in her chair and looked me up and down. An up and down sensation ran through me, mostly up. Then she leaned forward, as if to tell a secret. I leaned forward, too. I couldn't help it.

LAURA: I always loved excitement. So I studied and apprenticed and put my name on an office. But absolutely no one knocked down my door. [sigh] This is the first case I've had in weeks. I took it long distance, but now that they've seen me, they're just not interested. I guess a female private detective seems so . . . feminine.

GUY (to us): And how!

LAURA: I'm beginning to think what I need is a flashy front man. Someone to glad-hand the clients. Go to chamber of commerce luncheons. Someone tall and masculine and good-looking who could fulfill the public's image of what a private detective's supposed to be.

GUY (to us): I was all set to take the job - not only could I glad hand clients and go to chamber of commerce luncheons but I'm a real private eye. Maybe nobody was knocking down her door, but Opportunity was knocking at mine [three knocks] and I realized that if I played my cards right I could be partners with this girl, this female private eye, this sexy shamus! [Mancini's Steele theme swells]

But then [music fades abruptly; pause] I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror behind the bar.

Sure I was tall enough, and the hair on my chest proved a certain degree of masculinity, but I was a Minnesota kind of guy and I wasn't sure how I'd fare on the good-looking scale in other parts of the country. Especially when I saw her business card and the part of the country she was from.

Miss Laura Holt, licensed private investigator, was based in [dramatic pause] Los Angeles, California. [dramatic organ music swells, fades abruptly] Yes, she was from El Lay. City of Angels. Lotus Land.

About as far from Minnesota as you could get without actually leaving the planet. How could a guy from the mid-west be a flashy front man in a place like that? In Minneapolis, maybe. [pause; considering] Dubuque. Or Fargo. But El Lay?

My spirits, and not just my spirits, either, drooped as she finished her drink and looked at her watch. She told me her plane was leaving in an hour.

Outside [door opens; bell jingles], a blustery January wind [sound of howling wind] sent little whirls of snow around our feet. [sound of door closing] Huddling into her coat, she remarked,

LAURA (muffled): There's never a cab when you need one.

GUY (shouts over howling wind): What?

LAURA (shouts over howling wind): I said, there's never a cab around when you need one!

GUY (to Laura): Allow me.

[shrill whistle; sound of engine roaring; sound of brakes squealing]

CABBIE (shouts): Need a cab, lady?

[wind dies down; fades]

LAURA: Real service. [pause] Thanks for the drink, Mr. Noir.

GUY (to us): I wished her luck and watched as the cab pulled out into the street. [engine revs up] Was it my imagination [Mancini's Steele theme swells softly] or did she turn to look back at me through the falling snow as the cab drove away?

[sound of the cab driving away; music fades]

GUY (to us): Winter turned into spring and spring into summer. Not long after that, the leaves began to fall. The kids were back in school and the streets of St Paul were quiet. To while away the long afternoon, I found myself down at the newsstand, picking up a stack of our nation's newspapers.

WALTER THE NEWS BOY: . . . and a Miami Herald and a Denver Post and a New York Daily News and a National Enquirer. That'll be four ninety-five, Mr. Noir.

GUY: I told him I must've left my wallet in the Five Spot, and he told me I'd better hand over a five spot if I didn't want to see my papers scattered from here to Sioux City. After pretty much a whole lot of searching [sound of rummaging, pockets being turned out, gum wrappers crackling, etc.] I found a five-dollar bill buried deep in one of my pockets.

GUY (to Walter): Keep the change.

WALTER: Gee, thanks, Mr. Noir. Now I can up my pledge over at the Church of the Little Good Shepherd!

GUY (to us): I grabbed the papers and trudged back to my office to find out what was happening in the rest of world. It was warm in Miami. It was raining in New York. The altitude was high in Denver.

Suddenly, I came across a headline from the Los Angeles Daily Chronicle, the kind of headline they put in big, blaring type, the kind of headline you couldn't miss if you were as blind as Aunt Mary before the cataract surgeon got to her.

If you're walking down the street and you catch one of these babies out of the corner of your eye, your feet obey some secret command from your brain, a command that forms itself, unbidden, independent of conscious thought, and you find yourself walking right over and bending and squinting to read it through the blurry glass. They're subliminal, these headlines. They reach down to you on an animal level. They call to you. You can't resist.

This one shouted: STEELE PURE GOLD, in letters higher than the heels on those girls your mother warned you about. There was a picture underneath, and she was in it, that girl, that private eye. [Mancini's Steele theme swells and fades]

Even in that black and white news photo I could see her shining chestnut hair, her big brown eyes. There were two men in the picture with her, one of them a regular guy, a mid-western guy who, according to the caption, had crossed the line.

The other was tall. Smooth. Suave. The kind of guy who looked, on a bad day, like Cary Grant on a good one. And then I knew she'd found her flashy front man. His name was Remington Steele, and hers was now [pause] Unidentified Woman.

I gazed out the window, remembering that January afternoon in the Five Spot. Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

[theme music]

ANNOUNCER: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. A light is burning on the twelfth floor of the Acme Building where a man ponders the answers to life's persistent questions . . . Guy Noir, Private Eye.

[theme music fades]