SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS. . .brought to you by. . . No Bull Mousse, the first aerosol hair styling product made especially for harsh range conditions. The spray is powerful (SPRAY) so you can use it even in windy conditions, and it keeps you looking attractively well-groomed even in rain (RAIN), hail (HAIL), thunderstorm (THUNDER AND LIGHTNING), tornado (TORNADO), cyclone (CYCLONE), stampedes (MOMENT OF TUMULT, SHOUTS, COWS, HORSES), attacks by buzzards (SFX), flash floods (TR: Look out! WATER RUSH), avalanches (RUMBLE), passing semis (TRUCK GOES PAST, HORN), or sleeping on rocks (SNORING). Just a couple of sprays (SPRAY- SPRAY) and your hair holds all day.
And now let's join Dusty and Lefty as they ride down the trail. .
(HORSE HOOVES, MOOS, OUTDOOR AMBIENCE)
TR: Phew.....(HAWK, SPIT) Wind's pickin up, wouldn't you say?
GK: Looking for a telegraph line. Got to be one out here somewhere.
TR: What you need a telegraph line for?
GK: Need it so I can plug in my saddletop computer and get the livestock prices from Denver.
TR: Can't wait til we hit Greasy Gulch. Get me a warm shower and head down to the saloon and find us some of them painted-up dance hall liberals and have us some rotgut whiskey.
GK: There's that telegraph line. Right over the other side of them boulders. (GIDDYAP. HORSE HOOVES) Shoot that line for me, Dusty. (RIFLE SHOT. WIRE TWANG) Thank you. Plug that right in here. (ELECTRICAL SHORT) Good. (CLICKS) Okay---- www-dot-cow--- O my gosh. Dagnab it.
TR: What is it?
GK: Cattle prices. Went down again.
TR: How bad is it?
GK: Well, let me put it this way, pardner. We're losing our shirts.
TR: That bad, huh.
GK: In effect, we are engaged in a recreational enterprise, Dusty.
TR: Some recreation. Eating dust all day. (HAWK, SPIT)
GK: According to this here computer, Dusty, we are paying dearly for the privilege of chaperoning these cattle. Beef is turning into a non-profit enterprise, like public radio. Someday, feed lots are going to have pledge weeks, and you'll call in and donate money to keep hamburgers alive.
TR: Guess we weren't the brightest lanterns in the barn now, were we----
GK: Kinda what you might call a meaningless existence....riding these horses across this empty plain....
TR: Wind blowing dirt in our faces....
GK: Driving cattle to their deaths....
TR: You remember Slim?
GK: Do indeed. The tall guy with the hair in his eyes.
TR: He got out of livestock and into the stock market.
GK: Where'd he go?
TR: California. Mill Valley.
GK: Mill Valley.
TR: Probably sitting in an outdoor restaurants eating grilled swordfish on a bed of arugula and drinking a white wines with an oak finish and a hint of vanilla, plum, and parsnips.
GK: I just don't understand it. Why? Why are we here? Why does God allow two people to lead such a miserable life? Why? And why is that chicken up ahead wearin a bandanna and a holster with a sixgun?
(LONE CHICKEN CLUCKING) (WHOAS. HORSES STOP. CHICKEN CLUCK)
TR: That chicken looks mean.
GK: Must be one of them free range chickens!
TR: I don't like the way it's looking at us.
GK: People say they're tasty but it's kinda wiry looking to me.
TR: There's another one.
TR: Peakin out from behind that pinon tree. And look. Up there by that cactus.
GK: Feels like we're bein watched, don't it.
TR: Lookit how they never take their eyes off us for a second.
(SEVERAL CHICKENS CLUCKING)
GK: Turn around real slow, Dusty. I think there's a couple behind us.
TR: You're right. They got the drop on us. I think we're gonna have to make a run for it, pardner.
GK: There's a coupla boulders about fifty yards off to my right. Want to go for it?
TR: That chicken up there, his wing is sorta edging down toward his holster.
GK: I think it's time to ride, pardner. (OMINOUS LOW CLUCKING)
TR & GK WHOOPING. HORSES WHINNY, AND GALLOP. CHICKEN CLUCKS. GUN SHOTS. RICOCHET. GK & TR WHOAS. GUNSHOTS, RICOCHET. HOOVES STOP. RUNNING ON DIRT. STOP. GK & TR PANTING. GUNSHOT RICOCHET. NOTE: DURING THIS CLAMOR, CUT THE CATTLE AMBIENCE.)
GK: Did y' get one of em?
TR: Just grazed em on the drumstick.
GK: Probably more of em up behind those rocks behind us.
TR: How many bullets you got?
GK: Not that many. (RICHOCHET, CLOSE)
TR: I got a feeling we're in big trouble.
GK: Me too. Surrounded by armed chickens.
TR: That one up there is a pretty good wing shot.
GK: This may be curtains for us, pardner.
TR: I just hope they shoot me in the eyeball. I can't stand the sight of blood.
GK: Hey, wait a minute. There's someone coming. (DISTANT FEMALE YODEL, AND BUZZER)
SS: (APPROACHING, FOOTSTEPS) All right, you guys, back into formation here. (RESIGNED CLUCKING) Let's go...git along there. Go on ...git along. (FOOTSTEPS END) Howdy, gentlemen. Name's Blanche. Hope my chickens didn't give y' too big a scare, there. A few of em got away from the herd.
GK: (STILL SHAKEN) No problem, ma'am. I'm Lefty, this here is Dusty.
TR: Howdy, ma'am.
SS: That's the trouble with free-range chickens. Ever so often they try to make a break for it.
TR: I didn't realize they carried weapons.
SS: Got to. Coyotes.
TR: Oh. Of course.
SS: We let 'em run free so they can forage for grubs, but before you know it, they're over the horizon. Hard to get em back.
GK: Glad we don't have the same trouble with cows. Cows just follow the tail of the cow in front of them. No matter what.
SS: Ehhhh. Cattle. Forget it. Poultry. That's the wave of the future. Free rang chickens.
GK: Well, cows don't come after you with guns.
SS: Oh, chickens are harmless. Anyway, take it from me, boys. Beef is out-of-date. People think red meat, they think cholesterol, they think large sluggish people with IQs lower than room temperature. They think elevated triglycerides. High LDLs, low HDLs, and no MSEs.
TR: What's MSEs?
SS: Martha Stewart endorsements.
GK: Who is Martha Stewart?
SS: Boys, Martha Stewart is the spiritual leader of the state of Connecticut. She is the Episcopalian Mona Lisa. And Martha Stewart would no more serve red meat for dinner than she would make napkin holders out of toenail clippings.
GK: Well, I don't care about no Martha Stewart. I'm a cowboy, that's all there is to it.
TR: Maybe we ought to think about chickens, Lefty.
GK: Dusty, use your head, for goodness sake, just think --- chicken rodeos? Guys riding out of the chute and chasing a chicken to see if they can throw it down on the ground and tie up its feet in less than five seconds? Don't be ridiculous. We're cowboys.
TR: Cowboys with nothin but lint in our pockets. Look at her. Sitting pretty.--- That is one fine pair of boots, ma'am.
SS: They're crocodile. Well, gentlemen, it's been a pleasure talkin' with y'all. Time for me to move on. (BUZZ BUZZ) Get along you chickens. (WHOOPS) (CLUCKS) (FADING AWAY) (FOOTSTEPS ON DIRT)
TR: Interesting, free range chickens. Maybe she's right about cattle.
GK: Ehhhhhhh. Just a fad.
TR: I think she's right
GK: Speaking of cattle, where are they?
TR: Well, doggone it. And our horses. They was just here.
GK: Don't turn around.
TR: What is it?
GK: Don't turn around. I don't think you want to see this.
TR: Did she forget one?
GK: Yeah. (CHICKEN CLUCK) He's a big one.
TR: Is it pointing a gun at the back of my head?
GK: No, but it's sitting on your horse.
TR: Oh no.
GK: It's in your saddle and it's reaching into your saddle bags and pulling out a flask of whiskey. (CHICKEN. CHICKEN DRINKS. CHICKEN HICCUPS. CHICKEN CROWS) Get down, Dusty! (GUNSHOTS. CHICKEN CROW, HORSE WHINNY, GALLOPS AWAY, CHICKEN FADING)
TR: Oh, dad blame it! (SHOUTS OF FRUSTRATION AND OUTRAGE) Shanghaied by a chicken! Ain't that the coop de grass.
GK: Might as well start walking, Dusty. Greasy Gulch is that way.(SLOW FOOTSTEPS)
TR: What in the world are we going to tell them in Greasy Gulch?
GK: We got plenty of time to think of something.
SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS. . . Brought to you by . . . Foam on the Range.....the best drive-thru espresso bar in the West.
GK (SINGS): Foam, Foam, on the Range,
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© 1997 BY GARRISON KEILLOR AND LAUREL WROTEN