(WESTERN THEME, W. CATTLE, WHOOPING, AND FADE FOR.....)
SS (ANNC): THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS.....brought to you by Yipiyodeeay Brand Spur Spit Polish.....If your spurs are no longer going jingle, jangle, jingle, then maybe it's because they're all crusted over with the sort of stuff you run into on the trail. Time to make them bright and shiny and jingly again with Yipiyodeeay Brand Spur Spit Polish. Made from Dog Spit. (DOG BARK). As we join Dusty and Lefty today, they have continued their escape from the clutches of the law, from charges of cattle rustling, and their escape has led them to the side of a busy highway.... (OUTDOOR AMBIENCE. OCCASIONAL TRUCK OR CAR PASSES AT HIGH SPEED. FOOTSTEPS.)
GK: When you hitchhike, Dusty, it helps to have a cheerful expression on your face.
TR: Course if you had just stopped and put gas in that Dodge Dart when I told you to, we wouldn't be in this situation.
GK: Well. (FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL. CAR PASSES) Just think positive thoughts and maybe somebody'll --- here's one. C'mon. Stop, fella. We're okay. Just a couple of regular guys. What do you say, mister? Give us a break. Huh? (TRUCK GOES PAST)
TR: Who are we gonna tell em we are if they do stop? We need a false identity.
GK: You're right. So they won't know we're escaped criminals.
TR: Which we ain't.
GK: No, of course not.
TR: We did not rustle them cattle.
GK: No, no, I know that.
TR: The cattle just sort of slipped in behind us and followed us and ---- it was a crime of inattention.
GK: C'mon fella, what do you say? Pull over. C'mon. Give us a break. We won't hurt you. (CAR SPEEDS PAST) We could hold up a sign saying, "We are not crooks".
TR: How about we pretend to be poets. Couple of beatnik poets out on the highway...
GK: Poets don't hitchhike anymore, Dusty. They all teach creative writing.
TR: How about novellists then?
GK: Naw. We pretend to be novellists and people'll ask if we've read Moby Dick and we'll have to pretend that we have and they'll want to get us in a whole big long discussion about the symbolic structure of it and stuff.
TR: Was Moby Dick the guy or the whale?
GK: How about we pretend to be actors?
TR: Wait a minute. I think this car is stopping.
GK: You're right.
TR: He's slowing down. He's stopping. (CAR APPROACHES, SLOWING, STOPPING)
GK: Here he is.
TR: Our lucky day.
TR: Evening, mister.
ST: Good evening.....hop in. How far you two going?
GK: Going to Wisconsin.
ST: I'm heading for North Dakota. Hop in.
TR: North Dakota sounds pretty good too. (DOOR CLOSE. CAR PULLS AWAY) My name is Dustin and his name is Lester.
ST: Pleased to meet you. My name is Godfrey. Elmer Godfrey. The Reverend Elmer Godfrey.
ST: Heading up to North Dakota to preach a revival service. Grand Forks. Praise the Lord.
TR: Well, I've been to Grand Forks and they could use some revival.
GK: What exactly you going up to Grand Forks to preach about, Rev. Godfrey?
ST: I'm going to preach about the flood, Brother Lester, and I'm going to tell em that if they don't cut out doing what they been doing, God's going to send it again.
GK: So you preaching from the Romans? or the Epistles?
ST: I was planning to, uh, sort of include a lot of different things in it. Bring in all of it. You know. So where are you fellows heading for?
GK: Well, Dustin and I, we ....
TR: Lester and I, we're poets.
TR: That's right. We write poems.
ST: What kind of poems?
TR: All kinds.
ST: Long poems?
GK: Some long.
ST: You got any of your poems on you right now?
GK: No, we sent em all off to get published.
ST: I see. What were some of the titles of them?
GK: Oh. Titles. I thought you said, Bibles.
TR: Mostly we don't title em. We just number em. Cause we write so many.
ST: I see.
GK: Like Poem #205, Poem #317 ---- we jump around a good deal.
ST: What are they about?
GK: They're about the open road mostly.
TR: That's right.
GK: And about intimate relationships with inappropriate women.
TR: That too.
GK: So which Bible you preaching from in Grand Forks, Rev. Godfrey?
ST: Which Bible? The one in my suitcase.
GK: Which translation?
ST: It's in English.
GK: The King James, the Revised Standard----
ST: It's not a revision. It's the original. --- Hey, what do you say we pull in to this cafe here. (CAR SLOW DOWN)
GK: Nice little town. Cafe and a hotel and --- there's a bank.
ST: Why it is a bank, isn't it. (CAR STOP. DOORS OPEN) Let's get us some coffee and a sandwich, gentlemen. Praise the Lord. (MUSIC TRANSITION)
(TABLEWARE, CAFE AMBIENCE) (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)
SS: Anything else I can bring you, gentlemen?
ST: No, ma'am. Just the check.
SS: Here you go.
GK: Thank you for the lunch, Rev. Godfrey.
ST: I haven't picked up the check yet, Lester.
GK: Were you planning to?
ST: I'll pick up the check if you tell me who you really are, both of you.
TR: Well, he's Lefty, and I'm Dusty.
ST: Lefty and Dusty the cowboys who escaped from the courthouse in Nebraska on charges of cattle rustling and then stole the Dodge Dart belonging to the Unitarian minister? That Dusty and Lefty? The desperate fugitives?
TR: That's us.
ST: Well, I'll be darned. I'm Kid Turk.
GK: Kid Turk. Why I've read about you----
TR: The bank robber.
ST: That's me. The last of a vanishing breed.
GK: And you just got out of Leavenworth, I read.
ST: It was like graduate school. I learned all about computers. Learned how to play the Internet like a monkey handles a peanut.
GK: Is that right?
ST: I could be running thousand-dollar-a-day scams from the comfort of my own home, boys. But I am loyal to my craft. Bank robbery! A romantic tradition going back to the highwaymen of the Middle Ages! And now --- bank robbery is dying out. All the crooks nowadays are in offices on the fortieth floor. I'm the last guy who comes through the front door with a pistol!
GK: I see what you mean....
ST: Nobody does it by hand anymore. All the other crooks collect their take by percentages. Bunch of skimmers. Sneak it out a few cents at a time. I'm the last honest crook in America! And I feel an obligation to pass it on to the young. And that's where you come in.
TR: What are you looking at us like that for?
ST: There's a bank across the street. It's payday, boys.
GK: I don't know.
ST: It's not for the money. It's for the tradition --- it's to make a video and start a Website.
TR: A what?
ST: On our way out, we'll grab the tape from the security camera and we'll put the video on our own Website. Multi-channel. With interface feedback. Totally digital. User-generated. People can come online and click on a button, access the software, and do interactive bank robberies. We'll keep the craft alive in the 21st Century.
GK: We've sunk this far, Dusty, what's one more?
ST: Let's go. (DOORS OPEN. TRAFFIC PASSING. FAST FOOTSTEPS) Look nonchalant. Be cool.
GK: You carrying a pistol, Kid Turk?
ST: Don't need it. It's all in the eyes. All in the eyes.
TR: Bank looks crowded today.
ST: Stay close to me. (FOOTSTEPS, THROUGH REVOLVING DOOR) Straight ahead. (FOOTSTEPS ON MARBLE)
GK: Kind of a long line there.
ST: Busier than I expected, that's for sure. Well---- get in line.
GK: We're going to stand in line and wait our turn to rob the bank?
ST: This is not New York, boys. It's the Midwest.
TR: What if people recognize us?
ST: This is the Midwest. Nobody makes eye contact here.
TR: Say---by the way, how we going to split the take, Kid Turk?
ST: Later. Shhhh. -----
ST: Hi there. Here's a pillowcase, ma'am. Fill it up with hundred-dollar bills and nobody gets hurt.
SS: You'll have to write down your withdrawal on a withdrawal slip. I'm hearing-impaired.
GK: You're what?
ST: She's hearing impaired. Write her a note.
TR: We don't have time for this.....
ST: Write her a note.
GK: (SCRIBBLES) "This is a stickup. We want all your hundreds." There---- (RUSTLE OF PAPER)
SS: Your name is Stickney? What's your first name? You don't look like a hundred to me.....you may be over the hill, but you're not a hundred.
TR: Let's get out of here.
ST: Listen. Boys. The woman is hard of hearing. Think how you'd feel if there was a big holdup ---- first holdup in years ---- and you were not included in it because you had a hearing impairment? Is that fair? C'mon. (SCRIBBLES) There---- (RUSTLE OF PAPER)
SS: Oh! A holdup! How come you didn't say? (DISTANT SIREN)
GK: Kid Turk---- we'll meet you at the end of the alley. C'mon, Dusty. (RUNNING FOOTSTEPS)
TR: Why does this keep happening to us?
GK: Out here---- this way. (RUNNING FOOTSTEPS. GLASS BREAKAGE) Here's the alley---- (RUNNING ON GRAVEL) ----
TR: There's a dumpster up ahead----
GK: Oh no....not a dumpster.....
TR: We got no choice, pardner.....
GK: This day started out so nice. (SLOWING)
TR: Quick. Climb inside. (STOP) (CREAK OF LID)
TR: In you go. (GK STRUGGLE, THEN FALLS IN PILE OF TRASH AND BIG LIQUIDY SQUISH) Here I come. (TR STRUGGLE, THEN FALLS IN PILE OF TRASH. SQUISH. REVERB. RUSTLE OF TRASH)
GK: It's old rotten cheese curds, Dusty.
GK: (SQUISH) It's all rancid. It's about to kill me.
TR: Shhhhh. I hear em coming. Get your head down. (SQUISH)
GK: I think I'd prefer to die. Smells like I already did. (SQUISH) (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)
TK: Did you get a description of the bank robbers, Rev. Godfrey?
ST: No, officer. They overpowered me and I was so terrified, I didn't get a glance at their faces. All I know is, they ran up that way----
TK: Maybe we ought to check this here dumpster here----
ST: No---- I see them ---- they're up there----
ST: They disappeared around the corner! Up there!
TK: (RUNNING, OFF) Stop! Stop! (GUN FIRES)
(SOFT BANGING, SHAVE AND A HAIRCUT, ON DUMPSTER)
ST: Hey---- you in there?
(CREAK OF COVER)
ST: You boys okay?
TR: Yep. Trying not to breathe but we're okay.
ST: Well, good luck. I don't think you boys are going to have much appetite for pizza for awhile, are you---- pew..
GK: You wouldn't care to give us a ride later, would you?
ST (SNIFF): Sorry. I just had the upholstery cleaned. Maybe another time.
GK: Good luck on your gospel crusade.
GK: If you're going to preach on the flood in Grand Forks, I'd make sure you leave the engine running, Brother.
ST: Thanks for the tip. I gotta run.
TR: An honor meeting you, Kid Turk.
ST: Likewise.....Adios, amigos.
SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS....brought to you by Old Santa Fe Brand Magic Fingers Saddle.....after a long day on the trail, you could use a little stimulation, and so could your horse. (WHINNY) (MUSIC PLAY OFF)
© 1997 Garrison Keillor