GK: Our sound-effects man, or sound resource person, as we like to think of him, Mr. Tom Keith, almost did not make it to the show today.
TK: That's right.
GK: He lives on a farm in a deserted part of western Minnesota (WIND), he and his dog Dave (DOG) and his elk Earl (ELK) and his orangutan Bud (ORANGUTAN) ---- he lives in an old house (DOOR CREAKS OPEN, FOOTSTEPS) all by himself --- himself and his sheep (SFX) and his 800-pound boar Bernie (PIG) and his trick horse Harry (HORSE) --- and in a little house out back (SQUISHING) he keeps lutefisk, a Scandinavian delicacy that is not permitted in populated areas, a fish that is buried in the dirt for a few months and dug up (SFX) and covered with a sauce made of wallpaper paste (SFX) and eaten (TK CHEWING PLEASURE), Dave is disgusted by lutefisk (DOG DISGUST), so is Bernie, (PIG COUGHING), even Earl turns away from it (ELK HAUGHTINESS). But Tom was having a helping of lutefisk (SQUISHING, SLURPING) when suddenly a snowstorm (BLIZZARD) came in and he couldn't see a thing especially after the electricity went out (SHORTING) and then the heat went out and he had to cut up furniture (SAW) to burn in the fireplace, and then a big wind (WIND) came up in the night and it blew a dead tree (TREE FALLING) down on the roof of the house (CRASHING) and that touched off the dynamite that he uses to dig up his lutefisk and which he stores in the attic (EXPLOSIONS) and (ORANGUTAN) Bud went crazy and (PIG) Bernie and Harry (HORSE) and Tom had to evacuate them to the barn.
The reason he lives out there alone of course is that sound effects people get on normal people's nerves, as you know if you ever had a brother (DRIPPING) who lay in the bunkbed below you and worked on his drip sound late at night, and wouldn't quit even when you dropped things on him (KONK, THEN DRIP). Or the kid who sat behind you in school and made sounds (FAINT DEATH CHOKING) during physics tests especially when you reached down for a pencil (RASPBERRY). Sound effects is a child's art, and Tom thinks that we're all members of the Radio Club and that the dues for being on the show are $5 a month. He's paid up for a couple of years. The joy of sound effects started when you were a little kid and got soldiers (SEQUENCE OF WAR SOUNDS) and lined them up in the sandbox behind barricades and they banged away at each other for a while and the guys who weren't that good at making sounds, like me, we lost the war and became authors, and the guys who were good at it (MORTAR) (DIVE BOMB) (DULL EXPLOSIONS) they won the sandbox wars and they became sound effects men. (CROWD ROAR) And they had to go live by themselves, because nobody could live with someone who's always (TK CHICKEN) doing this.
And also Tom enjoys that lutefisk.
So he got the animals to the barn after the house blew up and went out to start his car and (WOLVES) darn it if those pesky wolves were closing in around the place. They'll do that. He got the car started (OLD CAR) and he drove down his long driveway with Bud (APE) next to him and suddenly as he came over the hill (SQUISHING), there was a giant lutefisk ten feet high in front of him on the road --- it had escaped (ROAR) and it gave off a strange glow, and it was pulsating (THROBBING) and he hit it head-on (DULL THUD) and the lutefisk wrapped itself around the car (SQUISHING) but luckily he had rockets (ROCKETS) in his pocket and when he fired them off, soon the choppers (CHOPPERS) came in to carry him to safety and (SIREN) take him to an ambulance to take him to the hospital for tests (MACHINES) and make sure none of that deadly lutefisk virus got in his blood (BUBBLING) and they ran a brain scan on him (BLIPS ON SCREEN) as we do every year on Scandinavians and they kept him overnight for observation in a nice quiet room with an IV in hit arm. (DRIPPING) All night.
GK: And then this morning he came to do the show.
© 1996 BY GARRISON KEILLOR