SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS....brought to you by Santa Fe Brand Picture Hooks...attach easily to all kinds of surfaces --- vegetable or mineral --- so you can take your favorite portraits, landscapes, mottoes, with you on the trail....and now today's story....


GK: If that butte up ahead is Pork Butt Butte, Dusty, I reckon we oughta reach Billings in another four, five days. What do you think?

TR: I donno. I figure we may have t' stop n' rest up the cattle.

GK: Why rest the cattle?

TR: They ain't been sleepin well, Lefty. Look at how they're draggin their feet. I think maybe someone's been singing t' 'em.

GK: Well, there'll be plenty of time for em to sleep once we reach Billings.

TR: Don't want t' drive em too hard, Lefty. There are more o' them than there are of us ---

GK: I'm aware of that, but I'd very much like to get on to Billings where the lovely Miss Evelyn Beebalo may even now be waiting for me, anxious to resume the mutual fascination that we begun several months ago.

TR: Her name is Yvonne Beebalo, Lefty. And how do you know she ain't waiting for me?

GK: Because her letters are addressed to me.

TR: How do I know that? I can't read.

GK: Well, I know that because she writes things to me that nobody'd ever write to you. Very explicit things. And yet poetic.

TR: Huh, sounds like maybe she got you and me mixed up.

GK: No, I doubt that very much --- Hey ---

TR: What is it?

GK: Look. There's the Desperation saloon up ahead.

TR: Well, I'll be----

GK: Closer to Billings than I thought.

TR: Should be no more'n couple days' ride.

GK: Right.

TR: So that gives us a couple o' extra days to rest up the cattle.

GK: Hey, look --- they got statues out in front o' the saloon. Deer and stuff.

TR: Huh!

GK: What do you say we go in for a coupla beers--- and we can rest up the cattle for half an hour?

TR: Well. Okay.

GK: What are those hanging out in front of the saloon? Are those begonias?

TR: Begonias!

GK: Looks like begonias. Whoa! (THEY PULL UP, DISMOUNT, TIE HORSES UP)

TR: You cattle lay down there and close y'r eyes. We'll be right back. (CATTLE AGREEMENT)

GK: (SFX UNDER DIALOGUE: TWO PAIRS OF FOOTSTEPS ACROSS DIRT, WOODEN SIDEWALK, DOOR OPEN. CAMPTOWN RACES) I think those are begonias, all right. I didn't know begonias grew out here.

SS: Howdy, boys. Long time, no see.

GK: Hi there, Sadie.

TR: Good to see y', Sadie.

SS: Where you boys headed? GK: Billings. --- I was kinda surprised. I coulda swore I saw begonias out front.

TR: Yeah.

SS: Yeah, I'm sellin begonias here now. I'm turnin the back room of the saloon into a home and garden store.

TR: Izzat right?

SS: Yeah. Got all my plants out here ---- geraniums and begonias and narcissus and ---

GK: ----- (FOOTSTEPS) boy, you got a good assortment. You know, I'd like a plant I could take on to Billings and give it to Evelyn Beebalo. Something nice.

SS: Well, what type of soil you goin to plant it in? What kind of sunlight will it get?

GK: I donno. I never been to Billings.

SS: I see. Well, how about the colors?

GK: Well, I just want, you know, to get a flower that's basically manly. Don't want other cowboys t' look at it and think I'm --- you know --- some kind of aesthete.

SS: How about a cactus? They're real manly.

GK: Believe me, I've seen all the cactuses a person would ever need to see --

SS: Well, a thistle maybe. Or a rose.

GK: I think of roses as feminine.

SS: Well, there was the War of the Roses, you know.

GK: Yes.

TR: You got Axl Rose. He's a guy. And Pete Rose. And Franklin D. Roosevelt.

GK: Right. But roses are delicate. I want a hardy plant.

SS: Well, I got a John Wayne nasturtium over here.

GK: Well, let's have a look at it.



GK: I can't understand a word you're saying with that mask over your face.

TK (MASKED): You can't?

TR: Is this some kind of holdup?

TK (MASKED): Yes. This is a holdup.

TR: And what? you want us to lay down on the floor? Is that what you're saying?

TK (EXASPERATED, REMOVES MASK): I said, lie down on the floor.

TR: Well, we ain't going to lie down on the floor.

GK: No, we ain't. There's dirt on it.

TK: You gotta lie down. I'm the one doin the robbery and I'm the one who says.

GK: Well, we ain't goin to. So get over it.

TK: I got this gun aimed at your head, mister----

TR: That there is a six gun and you already fired it about fourteen times, mister. I call that deficit shooting.

SS: And we don't have any money in the till. Not a dime.

TK: Doggone it--- (CRASH OF POT)

GK: Hey. What'd you do that for?

TK: Cause I'm mad. Rode two-hundred miles to pull a robbery and they don't even have any money!

TR: Well, that's your problem, not ours.

GK: And you just busted a plant I was thinking about buying. That narcissus there.

TK: Yer thinking about buyin a narcissus???? A narcissus? And you call yourself a cowboy???

GK: What are you trying to say, mister?

TK: What do you think?

GK: I've got an idea.

TK: Yeah, well, maybe you're right.

GK: So? Out with it, mister.

TK: I'm sayin that real cowboys don't go in for narcissus. And anyway, that there ain't a narcissus.

GK: That ain't a narcissus?

TK: That's no narcissus. That's a daffodil.

GK: Daffodil! Ha!

TR: My aster, that's a daffodil---

TK: That there's a daffodil.

GK: A daffodil! That's a ---- you sayin I don't know a narcissus from a daffodil?

TK: I don't know what you know or don't know, all I know is that that right there is a daffodil.

TR: Oh yeah?

GK: It's a narcissus.

TK: It's a daffodil. Or a jonquil.

GK: Oh, now we're saying maybe it's a jonquil, huh! Oh sure. One minute a daffodil, next minute a jonquil.

TK: It sure ain't a narcissus.

TR: Is too.

TK: Is not.

TR: Is so.

TK: Is not.

GK: Is too.

TK: My buttercup it is!

TR: That there flower there is a narcissus! (SLAM FIST DOWN)

TK: It's a daffodil.

GK: Oh, now we're back to daffodil, huh.

TK: Or a jonquil.

GK: Ha!

TK: It's of the daffodil family.

GK: You know, you're just slowly starting to get on my nerves there, mister.

TK: I don't care. I know narcissuses and that there is no more a narcissus than my sister sells seashells by the seashore.

GK: I'm goin t' count up t' three and I want to hear you say Yes, narcissus, Sir, or otherwise you're goin to be pushin up some narcissi.

TK: Well, I ain't a goin to say, "Yes, narcissus, Sir," because that ain't---

GK: Well, you just said it. So fine.


GK: Boy, you nailed him right smart, ma'am----

SS: Didn't nail him. Stapled him. Got him with my staple gun. (TK GROAN) You settle down there, mister, and I'll go get the pliers.


GK: You okay, mister?

TK: Yeah. Just a flesh wound. Stapled my hand to the bar.

GK: Sorry we got into that argument. (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)

SS: Here. Hold your hand steady. (CREAK OF STAPLES COMING OUT) There. Let me swab some iodine on it. (TK SHRIEK) There. That oughta take care of it.

GK: I think what I really want is these begonias here.

SS: Okay.

GK: Here you go.

SS: Thanks.

GK: And how about you bring us a round of beers, ma'am?

SS: Don't have any.

TR: Don't have any?????

GK: No beer???

SS: That's what I said.

GK: How can you run a saloon and not have any beer?

TR: This is outrageous.

SS: I invested all my capital in plants. Soon's I start selling plants, I'll get stocked up with beer again.

TR: I was hoping to get potted myself.....

GK: I can't believe that you'd be so irresponsible as to operate a saloon and not have beer.

TK: There's another saloon up the trail. Let's go up there.

GK: How far?

TK: I donno. Hunnerd miles.

GK: Hunnerd miles!!

TR: This is unbelievable.

GK: A hunnerd miles!

TK: How about I go ahead and rob it and then you come up and catch me and collect the reward and then I'll escape from jail and we'll go back to the bar and have all the beer we can handle.

TR: Think you got a couple flaws in that plan, mister.

GK: I guess we better move on. No beer. This is pitiful.

SS: (FOOTSTEPS) (OFF) Don't forget to water them begonias. (DOOR OPEN, CLOSE. CATTLE) (FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL)


TR: You wanta put those begonias in the chuckwagon?

GK: No, I think I'll carry em on my saddle for awhile.

TK: They say tobacco juice is good for em --- Want me to spit on em?

GK: No thanks.


TR: What are you doin?

GK: Music is good f'r plants.

TR: Maybe music is, but is yer singing?


It's lonely away from your family and all By the campfire at night where the coyotes call, But there's nothing so lonesome, so morbid or drear, As to go in a bar and you find there's no beer.

Whoopitiyiyo get along little dogies It's my misfortunate and none of your own Whoopitiyiyo we're headin for Billings And if they don't have beer then I'll drink cologne.

Oh today was the day, the first time in my life, I came home early to my darling wife, She said, "Praise the Lord, you are sober, my dear," And I didn't dare tell her that the bar had no beer.

Whoopitiyi yo, git along begonias I'll feed you and water until you are grown Whoopitiyi grow all you little begonias You'll have a nice bed just as soon as we're home.

TR: If you ask me, those begonias are drooping pretty bad.

GK: I didn't ask you. (HE YODELS)

TR: I believe you just about killed them right there.

TK: Okay, how about you rob the saloon and I catch you and get the reward and ---- what did you say the name of the woman in Billings is?

GK: Never mind. I catch you around Evelyn Beebalo, mister, I'll ---

TK: Evelyn Beebalo. Thank you.


SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS......brought to you by the American Cowboy Liberals United.....the ACLU.....did you know that after a long day in the saddle, you qualify to park your horse in handicapped spaces? Know your Cowboy Rights.....(MUSIC OUT)

© 1996 Garrison Keillor