Lives of the Cowboys Script
Saturday, December 4, 2004
Listen

(WESTERN THEME)

Sue Scott: The Lives of the Cowboys....brought to you by Santa Fe Brand Outdoor Deodorizer — it's the air freshener that's strong enough to offset the presence of livestock ...And now....the Lives of the Cowboys.

(EVENING OUTDOOR AMBIENCE, CATTLE, HORSES)

Garrison Keillor: Hard to believe it's almost Christmas again, Dusty. Seems like it was Labor Day just yesterday.

Tim Russell: Well, time flies when you're having fun.

GK: Right.

TR: Day after day of humping down the trail with the cold wind in your face and dirt in your mouth and nothing to look forward to but more of the same — why, time just races along, don't it.

GK: Sounds like somebody isn't in the Christmas mood quite yet.

TR: I'll get in the Christmas mood when we reach Yellow Springs and I have me a big glass of rotgut whiskey and start killing off some brain cells.

GK: Well, if it's so painful, why are we still cowboys, Dusty?

TR: Well, because as miserable and lonesome and wretched and depressing as it is, it's a picnic compared to living in town.

GK: So it's the lesser of two evils, huh?

TR: Life is a walk through the swamp and then you get sick and die. That's my philosophy. Until I have me a glass of whiskey. Then I start to believe that somewhere in the darkest night a cigarette glows. A cigarette between the first and second fingers of the right hand of a good old dancehall floozy.

GK: And you don't get similar inspiration from a sunset or a sunrise—

TR: I try to miss as many sunrises as possible.

GK: How about sunset?

TR: Most sunrises I've seen, I've seen them while driving the porcelain bus, if you know what I mean.

GK: Well, I'm sorry that you don't take inspiration and comfort from nature, Dusty, seeing as we get to experience so much of it on a daily basis.

TR: As far as I'm concerned, alcohol is a part of nature, pardner. It's a heck of a lot more natural than theology, that's for darn sure. (HE MUTTERS IN ANGER, AND PULLS HIS SIX-GUN OUT AND FIRES OFF SIX SHOTS. THE SIXTH SHOT HITS A BOTTLE, OFF, WHICH BUSTS. HE BLOWS THE SMOKE FROM THE BARREL AND PUTS THE SIX-GUN BACK IN HIS POCKET)

GK: Why'd you do that?

TR: Whenever I hear the word theology, I reach for my gun. That's why.

GK: Well, remind me not to use it in the future.

TR: Consider yourself reminded.

GK: By the way, you just shot your whiskey bottle.

TR: What are you talking about?

GK: You just shot the whiskey bottle.

TR: Where???? What whiskey?

GK: Your whiskey bottle. You put it in the limb of that cottonwood tree over yonder.

TR: I did???? Oh my gosh!!! It's busted??? (FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL, STOP) It's gone!!!!! It all leaked out in the snow—

GK: Dusty, don't eat that snow— there's glass splinters in it!!!!

(FOOTSTEPS RETURN)

TR: That was the best dang whiskey I ever had in my life. Boy o boy that tastes good. (HE SMACKS HIS LIPS)

GK: That might not be the taste of whiskey alone.

TR: What are you talking about?

GK: That isn't the only thing that took place over there in that patch of snow.

TR: What do you mean?

GK: You don't want to know, Dusty.

TR: My throat hurts. I think I might have ate some glass splinters. (HE CLEARS HIS THROAT) Yeah, I think I got some glass down my throat. I'm going to lie down here on my bedroll.

GK: You rest and you'll be okay.

TR: I'm a goner, Lefty. This is the end.

GK: Just spit and try not to swallow.

TR: I already did swallow.

GK: Oh. Well, just eat some bread and probably you'll be all right. Better yet, eat some caramels.

TR: Easy for you to say. The surviving one.

GK: Just trying to take care of you.

TR: Do I look pale?

GK: Of course.

TR: Paler than usual?

GK: Just try to rest. Clear your mind of all negative thoughts.

TR: Okay, I'm trying.

GK: But if you should happen to die, do you want to be embalmed, cremated, or buried just the way you are?

TR: Surprise me. But one thing, pardner— (HE COUGHS)

GK: Yeah?

TR: Don't bury me on the prairie, okay?

GK: You prefer the seashore or the mountains?

TR: How about Minneapolis?

GK: I ain't gonna haul your corpse all the way to Minneapolis, Dusty.

TR: How about my ashes then?

GK: Ashes I can manage.

TR: Some little cocktail lounge where the young and fashionable come to sip their imperatives — put me up on the back shelf so I can watch.

GK: Okay, you got it. (PICKS UP HIS GUITAR. STRUMS. ONE FLAT STRING. HE TUNES.)

TR: What are you doing?

GK: Just playing a song.

TR: I am lying here at death's door and you're playing music—

GK: Just trying to cheer you up.

TR: Why not put a pistol to my head and cheer me up that way?

GK: You better watch out, you better not cry.
You better not poke your friends in the eye
Santa Claus is riding your trail.
He's making a list, checking it once,
See who's been good for at least a few months,
Santa Claus is riding your trail.

He knows if you've been stealing
Or broken someone's heart.
He knows if you've been bad or good,
So be good or else be smart.

Oh, you better not eat a handful of snow,
Someone might've peed there a moment ago
Santa Claus is riding the trail.

(SS OFF:, WHOA.....HORSE GALLOP APPROACH)

TR: Who's this coming yonder?

GK: It's a woman in white. By gosh, American health care really has improved. Or maybe we wandered into Canada.

(WHINNY, HORSE STOPS. SHE DISMOUNTS AND WALKS BRISKLY TO THE CAMPSITE AND STOPS)

SS: Howdy. My name is Nancy, I'm with the Cowboy Christmas Fund from St. John the Evangelist Church in Yellow Springs and I see by your outfits that you two are cowboys, so I'm here to minister to your needs.

GK: Well, I'm Lefty and this here is Dusty.

TR: I'm dying, so if you got anything for that, I'd appreciate it. (HE COUGHS)

GK: He accidentally shot his whiskey bottle and then ran over and ate the snow the whiskey spilled onto, forgetting the glass splinters that might have also been there, so we're waiting for signs of internal bleeding, in which case I guess I'll just have to shoot him.

SS: Shoot him???? Why????

GK: We'd never get to a hospital in time, that's why. Better to die all of a sudden than over a long period of time. That's the cowboy way. Horse steps in a gopher hole and busts his leg, you don't put him through rehab.

TR: You don't have to say it so cheerful as that—

GK: Well, facts are facts.

SS: I just want to find out if there's something you two'd like for Christmas — at St. John's, we provide two Christmas gifts to each cowboy on the trail, so would you have any particular wishes we might fulfill?

GK: Are you serious?

TR: You wouldn't happen to have any gifts in your saddlebags for right now, would you?

SS: I do, yes.

TR: You wouldn't have any whiskey on you?

SS: No.

TR: It wouldn't have to be top quality.

SS: I don't have any whiskey.

TR: Gin would do. Vodka. Even a wine. Anything but a Merlot.

SS: I don't carry alcohol with me.

GK: What would you have with you?

SS: I have a teddy bear, I have a Sonny & Cher CD, I have a wall plaque that says "Keep Looking Up," I have Parcheesi, and a jump rope, and a bag of pistachio nuts, and a Game Boy, battery not included.

GK: That's it?

SS: That's what I have.

TR: Of the things you mentioned, I guess the teddy bear is what I'd like.

SS: You'd like the teddy bear?

TR: Yes.

SS: I have one that opens and closes its eyes and one that doesn't.

TR: I'd just take the one that's softer and cuddlier.

SS: That'd be the one that keeps its eyes open.

TR: I'd have that one. (HER FOOTSTEPS WALKING AWAY. HORSE WHINNY. HER FOOTSTEPS RETURNING)

SS: There's your teddy bear.

TR: Thank you.

SS: You're welcome. Anything for you, sir?

GK: No, ma'am. I'm just fine. Thanks for stopping by.

SS: Merry Christmas. And my condolences. (FOOTSTEPS AWAY, HORSE WHINNY, SS GIDDYAP, GALLOPS AWAY)

TR: Don't say anything.

GK: I didn't say a word.

TR: You were thinking about saying something.

GK: I wasn't either.

TR: You just wait til you lie dying, and see what you do, before you judge somebody else—

GK: Not judging anybody. (HE STRUMS)

You can hire a lawyer and plead the Fifth
But Santa will know and you'll get no gift
Santa Claus is on your trail.
You can lie on the ground with your teddy bear
You can wear pink jammies and he won't care
But Santa is on your trail.

TR: That was a low blow!!!

GK: He knows if you've been lovin',
If you're someone who shares.
He knows if you've been shovin'
Your mother down the stairs.

Okay, here comes the solo. (HE TRIES TO PICK OUT THE TUNE)

TR: There's just one thing I want to do before I die.

GK: Dusty— don't do it— (CRUNCH OF WOOD, ANOTHER CRUNCH, SPROING OF GUITAR STRINGS) — My guitar.

TR: I've been wanting to do that for years.

GK: You shouldn't exert yourself, seeing as you're on your deathbed.

TR: I feel just fine.

GK: No stomach pains? No blood trickling out of the corners of your mouth? No last words coming to mind?

TR: I feel tremendous. Looking forward to Yellow Springs. Want to get to the Golden Rocket just as soon as I can.

GK: You know that guitar — I was pretty much over that guitar anyway — I'm sort of thinking electric— a Stratocaster. Pink with sequins. With a wah-wah pedal.

(THEME)

SS: Join us again soon for... The Lives of the Cowboys...brought to you by Santa Anna Antacid...if bad food and rotgut whiskey is affecting your digestion, just drop two Santa Anna Antacid tablets (TWO LITTLE SPLASHES, FIZZ) in the whiskey and see if that don't help. Also cures bloat and cracked udders. (MOO)

(THEME OUT)

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).

Available now»

American Public Media © |   Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy