CF: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS....brought to you by Stand By Your Man Brand Laundry Disinfectant and Mouth Wash to remove trail dust.
(HORSES' HOOVES, CITY AMBIENCE)
GK: That ride from Billings to San Antonio about wore me down to a stump, Dusty, and now here I've got to get to work looking for Evelyn Beebalo and I've got no idea where to start. I suppose that's the problem with falling in love with someone you don't know. They are hard to locate.
TR: Well, if it was meant to be, then you'll find her, and if it wasn't, you won't. That's my philosophy.
GK: Now I know why you ain't never been married.
TR: What you planning to do about that miserable boyfriend of hers, Big Messer?
GK: I don't know. Maybe she gave him the door. Whoa. Whoa. (WHINNY, HORSE RESTLESSNESS) He's a mean one.
TR: Well, I believe I am going to go up to the room and wash out my socks in the sink and then go to the saloon and test the beer for impurities.
GK: Maybe I'll go over and have my hair cut.
TR: I'll see you later. At the saloon.
GK: Okay, pardner. --- Say?
TR: What is it?
GK: Oh, nothing.
TR: You having second thoughts about Miss Beebalo?
GK: Already had second thoughts. I'm having third and fourth thoughts now. It's been a long ride. And it's tiring to be in love. And she's already got her a boyfriend, a big ugly one.
TR: Well, you go get yourself duded up and meet me in the saloon and we'll talk about it. Giddap. C'mon. (HE CLUCKS TO HORSE. WHINNY. HOOVES OFF) MUSIC BRIDGE
(SNIPPING OF SCISSORS)
TK: So---- you new here in town?
TK: I figured you were. (PAUSE) When'd you get here?
GK: In town?
GK: Just now.
TK: Oh. (PAUSE. SNIPPING.) So where you from?
TK: Huh. (PAUSE. SNIPPING) Gets cold there, don't it. (SNIPPING)
GK: You know, I hate to tell a man how to do his work but, it sure feels like you're taking an awful lot off the top, mister. What are you doing up there?
TK: How'd you want it, mister?
GK: I told you. Not too much off the top, short around the sides.
TK: Oh. I thought you said short on top, long on the sides.
GK: What??? Who ever gets a haircut like that?
TK: Well (SNIPPING) Styles change.
GK: It's stylish to look like a lunatic?
TK: I'll just trim it off a little.
GK: I need a haircut because I'm here to see a girl I'm in love with and you make me look like I was just released from an institution.
TK: Oh. Is this girl from here?
GK: No. Would you just pay attention to what you're doing? (SNIPPING)
TK: Where's she from then?
GK: Never mind. (SNIPPING)
TK: What's her name?
GK: Her name is Evelyn Beebalo.
GK: That's what I said.
TK: You said Evelyn Beebalo?
GK: Yes. (SNIP) Ouch!
TK: That's my cousin.
GK: She is?
TK: Evelyn Beebalo is my aunt Viola's girl. I heard that her brother went north to get her in Billings but I didn't know she was back already.
GK: Her brother?
TK: Yeah. Big Messer.
GK: That's her brother? Big Messer? I thought that was her boyfriend.
TK: Nope. Her brother.
GK: Excuse me. (A FEW FOOTSTEPS)
TK: Hey. I'm not done with your hair! (FOOTSTEPS STOP)
GK: How much do I owe you?
TK: Well, judging by how you look, I'd say I owe you.
GK: Consider it even then. (FOOTSTEPS. DOOR OPEN. JINGLE. SLAM. RAPID FOOTSTEPS. HORSES PASSING, PASSERSBY. DOOR OPEN. CAMPTOWN RACES. BAR LAUGHTER. FOOTSTEPS. CLINK OF GLASSES.)
GK: Hey. Dusty ----
TR: Howdy, partner. No luck, huh?
GK: I don't know.
TR: You looked all over town?
GK: Not yet, no.
TR: You check the reptile museum? The waxworks?
TR: Why not?
GK: Because if I had found her, then I would've had to say something to her. And I couldn't think of anything good enough. (CAMPTOWN RACES FADES AND SLOWS.....)
TR: Yeah. Conversation. That is where most cowboy romances break down. That's the hard part. Out on the trail, in the saddle, you got a whole day to sort of roll something around in your mind and look at it from different angles, but you come to town and get in a conversation and she wants to know, bang, what do you think. I was in a conversation with a woman a year ago and in thirty minutes I used up fifteen years worth of thoughts. At that rate, it'd take you the rest of your life just to spend one evening with someone.
GK: (STRUMS GUITAR)
TR: Oh no, what'd you have to get that thing out for?
GK: I haveta expess the longings of my soul, that's why. (SINGS) How would I know if I loved you? Would I feel it deep down inside? Does it crash, does it roar, Like the surf on the shore? Or is it more like the tide? And if I thought that I loved you, But wasn't quite sure it was true, Would you sit here and wait While I go contemplate For a year and find out if I do?
TR: Hey. Look out there---- on the sidewalk ---
TR: There she goes. Evelyn ---
GK: Evelyn! (FAST FOOTSTEPS. DOOR OPEN, CLOSE. PASSERSBY. HE BUMPS INTO ONE. TR REACTION.) Hey---- Evelyn. Evelyn! (RUNNING FOOTSTEPS) Evelyn! It's me, Lefty! (FOOTSTEPS SLOW AND STOP).
CF: Why---- Lefty. What brings you all the way down here to San Antonio?
GK: I donno. Just thought I'd head down here.
CF: You here for long?
CF: Yes ---
GK: Don't know yet.
CF: You had a good trip?
GK: So far.
CF: You got any plans for when you're in San Antonio?
GK: No. The way things've been going for me, though, maybe I'll drop by the Alamo. Hopelessness is right up my alley.
CF: You want to go in here and talk?
GK: You and me?
CF: Sure--- if you'd like----
GK: Fine with me. (FOOTSTEPS) I don't really have that much to say.
CF: That's okay.
GK: Hate to bore you. (FOOTSTEPS CONT.)
CF: Here we are. (DOOR OPEN, JINGLE. CLOSE. FOOTSTEPS.) Want to sit by the window?
GK: Wherever you'd like. (FOOTSTEPS. CHAIRS SCRAPE)
CF: Well, it's nice to see you, Lefty.
GK: It is?
CF: Of course it is.
CF: Up in Billings, you told me that you loved me.
GK: Well ---Evelyn, I've had time to think it over, and there's things about me that I think you oughta know.
CF: Like what? (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)
TR (OLD MAN): Can I get you two something? Sarsaparilla? Soda? A bicuspid? Or a bicarbonate?
CF: I'd have a strawberry soda.
GK: Same here.
TR (OLD MAN): Two strawberry sodas. Coming up. (FOOTSTEPS OFF)
CF: What were you saying? There were things about you....
GK: Well...for example, I am a messy eater.
CF: You spill on yourself?
GK: I don't know what it is. Food is attracted to me, Evelyn. I practically stand upside down trying to eat a hotdog and I get ketchup all down the front of me. Look. Right here.
CF: What's that?
GK: I have no idea. Food. Dried food stains. Sauce. Who knows....
CF: What else is there?
GK: Well, I'm none too bright, Evelyn. I wish I were, and sometimes I'll get a good idea, you know, some smart remark, and then I come to where I could use it, and it's gone. People like to believe that still waters run deep but some still waters are just not going anywhere.
CF: What else?
GK: Well, I'm pretty selfish, Evelyn. I pretend to be good because I was brought up to be but it didn't take with me and the truth is that I pretty much just do what I want for myself and I never have given much thought to other people, not really.
CF: I see.
GK: You seem shocked, and I can't blame you, you're a fine person, you ought to be with someone worthy of you, and not be scuffling around with saddle trash like me.
CF: Well, maybe I'm not as fine as you think I am, Lefty. Maybe --- maybe there are things about me that you wouldn't like----
GK: Oh, I doubt that very much, Evelyn.
CF: I once took a swing at a dentist and popped out three of his fillings and knocked the drill up his nose.
GK: With your fist?
CF: With a brick.
GK: Oh? Well, I don't care.
CF: I once got drunk and danced on a tabletop and kicked my legs in the air and when I came to the next morning, I had forty-seven dollars in small bills tucked into my garter belt.
GK: Hmmmm. When was that?
CF: That was a couple years ago. In Dodge.
GK: Well, that doesn't make any difference. Not to me.
CF: I once allowed four different men to kiss me on the lips, all in one three-hour period.
GK: Were you drunk?
GK: When was this?
CF: I did it because I wanted to.
GK: I see.
CF: And they weren't just dry little pecks either.
GK: They were big wet smackers?
GK: The kind of kisses where....
CF: Exactly. Where you suddenly realize you never chewed a plug of tobacco before but you are now.
GK: I see.
TR (APPROACHING FOOTSTEPS): Two strawberry sodas here. (SETS THEM DOWN ON TABLE) That'll be (HE TOTES UP OUT LOUD)....sixty-five cents. (CHANGE ON TABLE) Thank you very much. Much obliged. (FOOTSTEPS OFF)
GK: These were four different fellas?
CF: There was a deputy sheriff, a cowboy, a bartender, and a feed and seed salesman.
GK: You kissed a feed and seed salesman?
CF: Yes, I did.
GK: Would you excuse me a moment? (FOOTSTEPS. DOOR OPEN, JINGLE, CLOSE. RAPID FOOTSTEPS, PASSING HORSES, PASSERSBY. DOOR OPEN. CAMPTOWN RACES. FOOTSTEPS. STOP.)
TR: So? how is it going, pardner?
GK: I'm about ready to leave town, I think.
TR: Oh? You and Evelyn break up already?
GK: No, but breaking up is what it would lead to eventually, sure as shooting, we'd get all in love with each other and it'd be moonlight and roses and then the sun'd come up and we'd gradually start to loathe each other and we'd start arguing about dumb things and then try talking out our problems and bore each other silly and finally we'd do the obvious and call the whole thing off and why not do it in the first place?
TR: There is a certain logic to your reasoning there that makes me suspect it's probably really dumb.
GK: Well, I'm going to tell her goodbye. Be right back. (FOOTSTEPS. DOOR OPEN, CLOSE. OUTDOOR FOOTSTEPS, HORSES PASSING. PASSERSBY. DOOR OPEN, JINGLE, CLOSE. FOOTSTEPS, SLOW DOWN. SEARCHING. CONFUSED) Where is she?
TR (OLD MAN): Who?
GK: The lady I was sitting with drinking the soda?
TR (OLD MAN): Evelyn?
GK: Yes. Evelyn.
TR (OLD MAN): You're not from around here, are you----
GK: No. Never mind. Where'd she go?
TR (OLD MAN): I reckon she went home.
GK: Where does she live?
TR (OLD MAN): Evelyn??
GK: Yes, of course. Where does she live?
TR (OLD MAN): Well, let me think. Lives with her parents. But where do they live?
GK: Do you have a phone book?
TR (OLD MAN): Let me think where that would be....
GK: I'll look it up in the phone book.
TR (OLD MAN): Name some street names to me, maybe it'll be one of them....
GK: Maple. Oak. Pine. Sycamore.
TR (OLD MAN): Nope...no...no...
GK: Main Street. Broad Street. Broadway. Big Street. Long Street.
TR (OLD MAN): Nope....no, that ain't it....no.....(ETC)
CF: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS......brought to you by Santa Fe Brand Inflatable Saddles....for when the trail is a little longer than you thought. (WHINNY) (MUSIC OUT)
© 1996 Garrison Keillor