Tom Keith
Saturday, January 9, 1999
Listen

(GK: Garrison Keillor, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith, TR: Tim Russell)

(MUSIC)

Our sound-effects man, Mr. Tom Keith, looks forward to January because that's when he moves to his winter home in the Caribbean.

TK: That's right.

Tom closes up his Minnesota home after Christmas, leaves his cows (SFX) and chickens (SFX) and his cat (SFX) with the hired man, Lars, (SWEDISH GIBBERISH) and he flies to Jamaica - actually, first he spends a few nights in his Manhattan apartment (TRAFFIC SFX, DISTANT HORNS) and then he flies to Jamaica where he has the peacocks (PEACOCK SCREECH) and his two wolfhounds (BARKS) Boris and Igor and the egrets (SFX) and pelicans (SFX) and flamingoes (SFX) and of course the swimming pool (DIVING BOARD, SPLASH) and I suppose that some people are envious of his good fortune, but I'm not one of them.

TK: Glad to hear that.

I suppose that some people might say that, considering how little schoolteachers earn, it says something about our society that a man who makes the sounds of violence (ANGRY VOICES), of a fast car (REV AND RACE) racing along a coastal highway (SQUEAL OF TIRES) being chased by a helicopter (SFX) and an exchange of gunfire (SFX) and the chopper exploding (SFX) and hitting the car (CRASH, SQUEAL OF TIRES) and the car going over the cliff and rolling (SERIES OF CRASHES) end over end down the rocky slope and blowing up (EXPLOSION) and the blackened wreckage landing in the sea (SPLASH, SURF, GULLS), in the eternal rolling blue-green sea - why should that guy just because he can do those sound effects have a home in Minnesota (COWS) and a home in New York (HORNS, TRAFFIC) and one in Jamaica (PEACOCK, WOLFHOUNDS) and that's not even mentioning the house in London.

TK (ENGLISH): This way, sir. Watch your step. (FOOTSTEPS FADING)

It's a townhouse in Mayfair, just off Berkeley Square, a white brick townhouse, five bedrooms, six baths, dining room, drawing room, library, and billiard room where Tom has replaced the billiard table with a ping-pong table (SFX. VOLLEY, STATELY PACE) where Tom and his butler, Clive, play best two out of three after dinner. (SLOW PACE, AND THEN TK GRUNT AND SMASH).

TK (ENGLISH): Very good, sir. Excellent, sir.

I am not one of those people who resent a man's success or the fact that when Tom flies from Minnesota to New York to Jamaica to London, his cat (SFX) flies in first-class along with him in her own seat and the two wolfhounds (BARKS), Boris and Igor, sit in the two seats behind them - I feel that a man has a perfect right to spend his fortune the way he wishes, even if it is a fortune that comes from making the sounds of guns (GUNSHOTS) and dive- bombers (PLANE DIVING) releasing their deadly load (EXPLOSIONS) and anti-aircraft fire (GUNS) sending tracers into the dark sky and (ROCKETS) ground-to-air missiles and all the rest of it - even though the violence created on the radio by Tom Keith (THRUST OF SWORD INTO MAN, GROAN, DEATH) has probably been responsible for a lot of young people turning to lives of crime (MACHINE GUN) who otherwise would've become computer programmers, all because of Tom Keith (THROWING KNIFE, KNIFE FLIGHT, THUMP INTO CHEST) and the radio violence he created (MAN CRY, FALLING, SPLASH INTO WATER) - violence he created so he could earn the money to buy the home in New York (TRAFFIC), and Minnesota (COWS), and London (TK: Very good, sir!), and Jamaica (EGRETS) - but why shouldn't he enjoy them?

TK: I do.

That's good. And he should enjoy them all he can because (SIREN) I can see flames from the windows of your apartment in New York - one of those spontaneous combustions - (PHONE RING) - and his New York super calls Tom in London and gives him the bad news (TK: What?? I can't believe it!!) and he drops the phone (GLASS BREAKAGE) through a skylight and it falls and (BWANGGG) hits a gas valve and (HISS OF GAS) there's a terrible leak and a few hours later, when Tom and Clive are at a play (EXPLOSIVE BOOM AND SUCCESSIVE EXPLOSION), the whole London place goes up, and it's good Tom doesn't know about it because the insurance policies for both the New York and the London homes are kept in the Jamaica home, where, at that very moment, (REV AND RACE) a red Ferrari is racing along the coastal highway (SQUEAL OF TIRES) being chased by a helicopter (SFX) and there's an exchange of gunfire (SFX) and the chopper explodes (SFX) and falls and hits the car (CRASH, SQUEAL OF TIRES) and the car goes over the cliff and rolls (SERIES OF CRASHES) end over end down the rocky slope and smashes into Tom's house (EXPLOSION) and lands in the sea (SPLASH, SURF, GULLS), which means that Tom has only one home left. (MOO) Minnesota. And those of us here in Minnesota who may have felt envy of Tom in the past, we've put that aside now, and we just want to say. Welcome home.

 

(c) 1999 by Garrison Keillor

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

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