Cowboys
Saturday, June 13, 1998
Listen

(WESTERN THEME. HORSE, COWS, WHOOPS)

SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS. . .brought to you by Wild Bill Brand Skin Moisturizer.....even a crazed desperado would like to have nice skin.....try Wild Bill Skin Moisturizer ---- and Wild Bill Face Powder: it helps cover up bruises from fistfights so y ou're still attractive to the gal you were fighting over ----

 

TR: And now, today's story.....as we rejoin Dusty and Lefty, they're pushing the herd along the Animas River valley in southwestern Colorado, as the sun disappears over the mountain tops....

 

TR: (OUTDOOR AMBIENCE, HORSES HOOVES WALKING, CATTLE NEARBY)

GK: Mighty pretty country, but I sure could use a bath and a shave about now.

TR: I would say so. Especially the bath.

GK: Well, every time I get near a body of water, the cattle have got there before me. Not much point in bathing under those circumstances.

TR: Another hour or two, I'd say we oughta be there.

GK: Which one of us gets the hotel and who stays with the cattle ---- you want to flip a coin?

TR: No, I don't--- I think you oughta stay with the cattle.

GK: Why is that?

TR: Because it just makes more sense. You're a light sleeper so if they get spooked, you'd wake up in time to head off a stampede, whereas I'd probably sleep through it even if they was stampedin right over the top of me, and it would be a shame if we wa s to lose the herd through my negligence so you should take the nightwatch and I'll go to the hotel where I won't cause any harm.

GK WHOOPS AT THE CATTLE AND CRACKS WHIP

TR: You follow my reasoning there, pardner?

GK: I don't, no.

TR: You wouldn't like this town anyway.

GK: Durango?

TR: It's too rough for you.

GK: Durango?

TR: Full of horse traders and double dealers. Flimflam men. Bunco artists. Crazy people.

GK: Dusty, you're not up to speed on Durango. Durango is a place with coffee bars and vegetarian restaurants and bookstores....

TR: Vegetarians? In Durango? No, sir, Durango is the home of Durango Dave, the meanest man who ever lived. Only vegetable Durango Dave ate was cactus. Raw. Unpeeled.

 

TR:(THEY WHOOP AT CATTLE, CATTLE REACTION)

GK: Where'd you know this Durango Dave from anyway?

TR: Knew him in Durango, of course. ---- He and I were friends in the old days. He was a great big terrible filthy loud violent person who just loved to rassle and bite and bust up furniture and generally just whale on people and when he got in the mood, he'd as soon pound the birdseed out of you as look at you, it made no difference to him.

GK: How could you be friends with somebody as mean as that?

TR: It made more sense to be his friend than to not be his friend. And luckily he was easy to become friends with. You just paid him fifteen dollars.

GK: You gave the man money?

TR: Fifteen dollars. It was cheaper than getting your teeth fixed----

GK: Well, I doubt he's in Durango anymore. They have poetry readings in Durango now. In the vegetarian restaurants. People drink double lattes and listen to poetry readings. Not cowboy poetry but poetry about feelings.

TR: You're not planning on----

GK: I was considering giving a reading. Yes. I might.

TR: Lefty---- I would die of embarrassment if you was to get up and read your poetry in a public place.....

GK: It's not poetry about you----

TR: It would reflect on me. (THEY WHOOP AT CATTLE, CATTLE REACTION)

GK: I've been wanting to read my poetry for months now.

TR: Read it to yourself.

GK: My poetry is getting better, Dusty.

TR: It couldn't help but get better.

GK: Listen to this----

Down in the dust of the road and the tire tracks
Up in the unclouded sky and the hawk floating in air
And in the distant whisper of river and wind in the cottonwoods,
And in the lowing of cattle like lost souls crying in the wilderness,
I search for my life, expecting to find it in the next town.

 

TR: Fine.

GK: What do you mean, "fine"?

TR: If it makes you feel better, then go write it, but you don't have to inflict it on everyone else. That's my feeling about poetry. It's just people showing off their underwear.

GK: Hey---- hold on, pardner. Whoa. (HORSES PULL UP)

TR: What is it?

GK: Something wrong here. No birds around and I smell---- peppermint.

SS (OFF): HANDS UP, YOU TWO! GOT YOU COVERED!

TR: Oh for pity's sake----

SS (OFF): YOU HEARD ME. THROW THE GUNS DOWN AND LET ME SEE YOUR HANDS. ALL THE WAY UP. (SFX: TWO GUNS, THROWN DOWN IN DIRT. FOOTSTEPS APPROACH AND STOP) Where you two heading for?

TR: Who are you?

SS: Listen, mister. The person holding the gun gets to ask the questions. You got that?

TR: Got it.

GK: We're heading for Durango, ma'am. My name's Lefty, this here's my pardner Dusty.

TR: Just us and eighty-seven head of whiteface cattle. Enroute to Denver.

SS: Hnnhhh! Likely story.

GK: It's the truth, ma'am.

TR: We're due in Denver by August.

SS: You two look to me like you are fixing to settle in Durango, aren't you---- Aren't you!

GK: Just going to stay long enough to wash up and comb our hair, that's all.

SS: I'll bet you two are planning to purchase a condo and start up an online company and do computer programming on the side, aren't you.

TR: Ma'am, do we look like computer programmers?

SS: In a way. A pretty mangy bunch, programmers. And not all that bright either.

GK: Ma'am, believe me, we have no----

SS: I couldn't help but hear you talk a minute ago about searching for your life and hoping to find it in the next town. The next town's Durango.

GK: Ma'am, that was only a poem.

TR: It was merely a metaphor.

SS: Sounded to me like you meant it. Mister, you can go search for your life in Aspen. We don't want you here.

TR: But we're not planning to----

SS: You yuppies want to come in, drive up the price of real estate, clutter up the streets with your sport utility vehicles-----

GK: Ma'am, this is a horse. We're not yuppies.

SS: You yuppies like to disguise yourselves as cowboys. I know you. We call you cuppies. And you come in, buy a $600,000 adobe condo with beamed ceilings and a kiva fireplace and full of Spanish colonial furniture and Mexican folk art and give it a name like Casita los Compadres and go around in hundred-fifty-dollar blue jeans and fleece vests and fringe shirts and a belt with a silver turquoise buckle, and we just don't need your kind around here, you just add to the problems. So you can turn this herd a round and head back the way you came.

GK: Ma'am?

SS: What?

GK: How long have you lived in Durango?

SS: Six months and four days.

GK: And do you add to its problems?

SS: I'm solving its problems by keeping you two out of there. So turn yourselves around----

 

TR (OFF, EUROPUNK): Not so fast!

SS: What???

TR: You turn around, Mrs. Birkenstock Tree Hugger----

SS: Simon DuFarge! You snake in the grass!

GK: Who's the guy in the suit, Dusty?

 

TR (DUSTY): Yeah. And how come he's pointing them two derringers at us?

SS: Simon DuFarge is the biggest developer in the valley. He's a dirtbag.

GK: A developer? You mean you print photographs?

 

TR (DU FARGE): No, I am an entrepreneur. A man who is willing to take big risks in behalf of his vision. And I am here to welcome you to the New Durango.

GK: We haven't even seen the old one yet.

TR: The New Durango will be even more beautiful. A planned community. Beautiful buildings. Parks. A lake.

GK: A lake? Where you going to find room for a lake?

SS: They're going to dam the river.

TR: Shhhhh. We're going to re-create Durango. Durango is a work-in-progress. First of all, we bring in giant earthmovers ---- earthmovers the size of football stadiums ---- and they extract all of the lignite coal. We do that by digging trenches. Trenches three miles across and a half mile deep. Get the coal out of the way. And then we use the dirt to build mountains even higher than what we've got. We grow grass on em. Build condos. Put in ski slopes. In fifteen years, you'll never be able to tell the difference.

SS: You'll never get away with it----

TR: HA! Who's going to stop me? You? Ha! Buncha English majors is what you are.

TK (OFF): HEY!!!!

GK: Who's that?

SS: You don't know?

GK: Dusty, is that Durango Dave?

 

TR (DUSTY): That's him all right. You can tell by the smell.

TK (APPROACHING): (ANGRY SNARL)

GK: Why, he's all wild-eyed and filthy and his face is all cut up and his clothes are ripped and ----

TK: ANGRY MUTTERS

 

TR (DUFARGE): Dave? It's me. Simon. Remember? I bought ya dinner the other night?

TK: FRIENDLIER GRUNTS AND MUTTERS

TR: You're my friend, aren't ya?

TK: DUBIOUS MUTTER

TR: Dave---- Dave---- don't---- (TK GROWLS) ---- Dave, let me write you a check---- how about I---- do you take credit cards?

TK: GROWLING

GK: I don't think Dave is extending credit today, DuFarge.

TK: GROWLING

TR (DUSTY): Dave? Remember me? Dusty?

TK: FRIENDLIER MUTTERS

TR (DUSTY): Here's a twenty, Dave. Keep the change. How about I buy you a beer?

TK: FRIENDLY MUTTER

TR: You see the guy in the suit, Dave?

TK: GRUNT OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

TR: Throw him off the cliff, Dave----

TK: GRUNTS

TR: Throw the guy in the suit off the cliff, Dave.

TK: BIG EFFORT.....(TR DUFARGE PROTEST AND FALLING CRY, AND DISTANT SPLASH)

GK: Hey, good aim. You hit the water hole.

SS: Reckon I owe you boys an apology.

TR: Oh, that's all right. No harm done.

SS: Now that I'm standing downwind from you, I can tell you're no yuppies.

GK: Well, that's right.

SS: We got livestock pens just outside town where you can keep your herd.

TR: Mighty obliged.

SS: And I'd be honored if you'd come and be guests in my house.

GK: It'd be our pleasure.

SS: And I wouldn't mind hearing the rest of that poem you wrote, Mister.

GK: You liked that?

SS: I liked that line about cattle being like lost souls. Are you Unitarian, by any chance?

GK: I've considered becoming one sometimes.

SS: There's a couple hundred of us Unitarians here. Durango is a sacred city to us.

GK: I didn't know that.

SS: We believe it was near here that God appeared to the prophet Mona and gave her the Ten Suggestions.

GK: No wonder you're trying to protect Durango. What about Durango Dave? Is he---- (TK MUTTERING)

SS: Presbyterian. You couldn't tell?

TR: What do you say we move em, Lefty?

GK: See you in town, ma'am. (THEY WHOOP, HORSES WHINNY, CATTLE, HORSE HOOVES. THEME)

TR: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS. . . was brought to you by Sundown Kid deodorant and snake spray ---- does your present deodorant contain ingredients that keep snakes from crawling into your bed while you sleep? If not, you better try Sundown Kid. You smell good and you don't get bit by snakes.

(MUSIC OUT)

(c) 1998 by Garrison Keillor

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

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).

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