CF: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS....brought to you by Sante Fe Brand Automatic Barn Door Openers...when you come home tired from a hard day on the range and you're too tired to get off your horse (WHINNY), why not have a Santa Fe Automatic Barn Door Opener right there on your saddle (BEEP. CREAK OF BARN DOOR OPENING) And now.....today's advanture.


GK: You awake, Dusty?



GK: You awake?

TR: Huh? What?

GK: I said, Are you awake?

TR: What?

GK: Never mind.

TR: What is it?

GK: Never mind. Nothing important.

TR: Then why'd you wake me up?

GK: Sorry.

TR: What'd you wake me up to ask me?

GK: Go back to sleep, Dusty. It's nothing.

TR: Then why wake me up for it?

GK: Sorry. Didn't mean to get you riled up.

TR: Lefty---- (CLICK OF GUN HAMMER) if you don't tell me what it was you woke me up to ask me, I'm going to commit an act of senseless violence. Tell me.

GK: Well, I was just goin to ask if you believe in an afterlife.

TR: In a what?

GK: In an afterlife?

TR: I don't know. What I wonder is can I get back to sleep after you woke me up.

GK: I just think that if there isn't an afterlife, then my mother is getting a pretty raw deal.

TR: I don't follow you....

GK: My mother, she raised all these kids and had all that noise and hard work and worry and she never had a life of her own, always was sacrificing for us and doing things for us, and then just when we were old enough to be of some use to her and be interesting company and fun to be with, then we all left home as fast as we could and (LIGHT SNORING STARTS HERE) abandoned her to my dad, so if there isn't some kind of an afterlife, Dusty, where she can be young and beautiful again and --- you know --- have a good life, it just would seem like a real lousy deal. For my mother. Dusty? You asleep? Dusty? Never mind.

Eyes like the morning star,
Cheeks like the rose,
Mama was a lovely girl,
God almighty knows.
Weep all ye little rains,
Wail, winds, wail.
All along, along, along,
The Colorado Trail.


CF: How-do, stranger.

GK: Mom---

CF: Mind if I warm up a spell by y'r fire?

GK: Of course not. Mom---- I never expected you to---- gosh, this is great.


CF: How ya doin', sweetie?

GK: Doing okay, mom. Gosh, I'm glad to see y'----

CF: You getting enough to eat out here?

GK: Yeah. . .

CF: You sure you got warm covers? Kinda worried about you, sleeping outdoors. I know it seems warm, but---. . . .

GK: I got my bedroll, Mom. Sleeping by the fire here...

CF: Okay. Okay.

GK: How are you, Mom?

CF: I'm just fine.

GK: Are you?

CF: Just fine.

GK: Where's Dad?

CF: He's asleep.

GK: Where?

CF: Home.

GK: He's okay, then?

CF: Sleeps a lot.

GK: I see. You're not mad at me for running away and becoming a cowboy and never seeing you or anything?

CF: Nope.

GK: You need a place to bunk down for the night, Mom?

CF: No, I'm s'posed to be in Billings on Tuesday.

GK: Oh, I see.

CF: Yeah. Gotta be in Billings. Got a job there.

GK: Uh huh.

CF: In Billings.

GK: Right. I believe you said that.

CF: Yes, I did. I went into dance after you left home. I became a dance hall girl. So I'm going to Billings to dance.

GK: I see.

CF: Put on my dance hall outfit with the low cut bodice and all the petticoats and go out and kick my legs so they can see my underwear. That's what they pay me for.

GK: Good. (PAUSE)

CF: Well, I'm glad you're doing well.

GK: I'm doing fine.

CF: You remember that fingerpainting of a turkey that you did in kindergarten where you took y'r whole li'l hand and the thumb was the turkey's head, an' all the fingers wuz it's tailfeatherso you remember that?

GK: No.

CF: I still have that.

GK: I see.

CF: Beautiful thing.

GK: You sure it was mine?

CF: Course, I'm sure.

GK: Well, it doesn't sound like anything I'd do.

CF: You did it. You were quite artistic in your youth.

GK: I don't remember that.

CF: Well, I do.

GK: Good. So you're on your way to Billings, huh?

CF: That's right. Dance in the low-down dives of Billings. Do my high kicks and whoop and wiggle and shake. Hands over my head. Dance around like a wild woman.

GK: That pay pretty well?

CF: Yeahp.

GK: Well, that's good.

CF: Yeahp. Pays a hunnerd dollars a day plus tips.

GK: Tips?

CF: Guys stuff money in my stockings.

GK: I see.

CF: Under my garter belt.

GK: Oh.

CF: In my bo---

GK: Do you mind?

CF: Sorry.

GK: I don't want to hear about it.

CF: Sorry. Didn't mean to upset you.

GK: I mean, a guy basically worships his mom, you know, he doesn't care to think of her out in Billings in some saloon dancing on a stage and guys reaching up and ----

CF: We don't dance on a stage.

GK: No?

CF: We dance on tables.

GK: Oh my gosh. Does dad know about this?

CF: I don't know. I told him. But you know dad.

GK: Yeah. Why are you doing this, Mom?

CF: I need the money to remodel the kitchen. I want to put in new cupboards and have an eating area and a nice ceramic tile floor instead of the linoleum....

GK: Yeah, but why couldn't you just---

CF: Ask Dad? I did. But it's hard to get his full attention.

GK: Yeah, but you could always----

CF: Ask my kids? No. ---No, I don't want to be a burden to any of you. And frankly, I'm a pretty good dancer. You want to see?

GK: No, no, no, no.....I just wish you wouldn't do it.

CF: Well, I wish you'd be a lawyer, but you ain't. So?

GK: This is different.

CF: I don't think so.

TR: (WAKING) Whozair?

GK: It ain't no one, get back t'sleep.

TR: (BIG YAWN) 'Scuse me! Well, how-do, ma'am.

CF: How-do.

TR: You just ride up now?

GK: Her name's Alma, Dusty. And don't look at her like that?

TR: Pretty good-lookin woman, if you ask me. She y'r girlfriend?

GK: No. But you quit looking at her, and don't let me catch you talking your rough cowboy talk around her. You hear me?

TR: Well, maybe I don't care what you think. She kinda give me a wink there.

GK: She did not.

TR: She give me a very friendly look, she did.

GK: Mom, let me give you a ride into town....

CF: What's wrong, honey? Why can't I stay here?

GK: Never mind. Let's go. (GK WHOOPS)


CF: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS......brought to you by La Casa Grande Brand Placemats for the Trail. Why set your grub down in the dirt when you can use a handsome place mat from La Casa Grande? Your choice of six patterns: Minnesota Lake At Sunrise, Songbirds, Country Schoolhouse, Common Game Fish, Chicago Skyline At Dusk, Presidents of the United States, or Miss Gwendolyn Savage of Las Vegas, Nevada. (WHINNY) (MUSIC OUT)

© 1996 Garrison Keillor