SS (ANNC): THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS.....brought to you by Mojave Mutual Funds. There's no investment service today... quite like Mojave. ---- As we rejoin Dusty and Lefty, who are on the run from the law, we find them in fashionable Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where they have gotten jobs as chicken chokers at Wes Fresser's Famous Fresh Freeway Fried Chicken Shoppe. (MUSIC BRIDGE) (CHICKEN)

GK: Look at him, Dusty. You can't tell me that's not intelligence shining in those little yellow eyes. (CHICKEN) I've looked at cowboys in saloons who had less comprehension in their eyes than this little fella. (CHICKEN)

TR: A chicken is a nervous system with legs, Lefty. A chicken has no more intelligence than a pop-up toaster. Any dog is a genius compared to that chicken.

GK: Some dogs, maybe. Not any dog. I've known dogs---- (CHICKEN) Freedom is what you want, isn't it, little buddy. (CHICKEN) Freedom: there's nothing more wonderful and nothing more frightening. Take it from me. A cowboy know. (CHICKEN) You probably never had much freedom, did you---- probably you were born in a cage and brought up in a cage and now you're going to go out in a basket, with french fries. (CHICKEN)

TR: I wouldn't get too fond of that little bugger if I were you. (CHICKEN)

GK: I can't kill this little guy, Dusty. Look at him. (CHICKEN)

TR: You're gonna have to kill him. Just like you killed all them others. Choke him, scald em in boiling water, rip off his feathers, and perform an intestinotomy. What's so different about this one?

GK: I got a confession to make, Dusty. I didn't kill them other chickens.

TR: You what?

GK: I took em down the road and I let em all go.

TR: You didn't either---- I --- But----- (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)

SS: Two chicken dinners?!!

GK: Two dinners coming up! (CLATTER OF POTS) Dark meat or light?

SS: Two half and half.

GK: Okay---- there you go....thigh and breast and drumstick ---- (THREE LITTLE PLOPS) and thigh and breast and drumstick ----- (THREE PLOPS) Order up!

SS: Kinda small drumsticks, aren't they?

GK: Well, these are free-range chickens. They run off the fat. (OFF- MIKE SNAP, OF MOUSETRAP)

SS: What's that?

GK: What's what?

SS: Never mind. Hey ---- I'm curious ---- do you pronounce your name Camus (ka---MOO)?

GK: It's pronounced Camus, ma'am. Albert Camus. You can call me Al.

SS: Oh. Guess I was confusing you with the French philosopher, Albert Camus.

GK: He pronounced his name Ca-MOO?

SS: You didn't know that?

GK: Uh. Well, sure, I knew that --- I just hadn't thought of it for a long time.

TR: How come a waitress knows about French philosophers?

SS: Albert Camus wrote about the absurdity of the human condition, mister. Waitresses are experts on that. (SNAP OF MOUSETRAP AGAIN) What is that?

GK: It's the hot water pipes.


TK: Hey! How come everything's slowing down back here?

TR: Everything's fine, Mr. Fresser.

TK: We got a line of people out there halfway around the block, waiting for their fried chicken. Let's step it up back here. And you! What you dawdling for?

SS: I was just on my way--- (FAST FOOTSTEPS)

TK: (CHICKEN FLURRY) Here's a bag full of twenty more chickens. I want those chickens naked and on the broiler in five minutes. Or else!


TR: Lefty---- those little drumsticks ----- those aren't chicken drumsticks, are they-----

GK: They taste just like chicken though.

TR: What are they, Lefty?

GK: Everybody seems to like em just fine....

TR: What are they? (SNAP OF MOUSETRAP) ---- (PAUSE) They aren't!

GK: Yep. I'm afraid they are.

TR: You couldn't!

GK: I did.

TR: How could you, Lefty?

GK: Dusty, those are mature adult rats who led a full rich life. They've had babies, a career, and then they come in here and enjoy a fine cheese --- enjoy it for probably the most beautiful split-second of their life ---- and then all of a sudden they see a tunnel of light and they go to a better place.

TR: You're serving fried rats to people?

GK: I couldn't kill those chickens, Dusty. I couldn't do it.


SS: Hey, you got a lot of happy customers out there. What you putting in the barbecue sauce, Al? (RUSTLE OF PLATE)

TR: Hey---- don't----

SS: What's the matter with you? Waitresses always snitch food ---- (MOUTH PARTLY FULL) ---- hmmmmm ----- nice.

GK: You like it?

SS: It's good.

GK: You care for a taste, Dusty?

TR: Get that away from me----- (UTENSIL FALLS)

SS: Okay---- listen, you two. Level with me. You guys are on the run from the law. That much I can tell. What I want to know is: exactly how heinous was your crime? Huh? Did you poison your mothers and chop em up with a cleaver and stuff them in plastic bags and throw em off of speeding trucks?

TR: No, of course not.

SS: Did you spit on Old Glory and stomp it into the dust?

GK: No, ma'am.

SS: Did you sell drugs to school children?

TR: No, no, no----

SS: Did you make an offensive reference to a minority group?

GK: I don't believe so----

SS: What was it then?

GK: We were accused of rustling, but it wasn't true.

TR: It was purely circumstantial.

GK: Those cows were following us. We had nothing to do with it.

SS: Oh sure. Give me a break.

TR: It's the truth. Five-thousand wily cattle snuck up on us in poor visibility and followed us for forty-seven miles and made it look like we had stolen them.

GK: Absurd as it sounds, it's true. It's what Camus wrote about. The universe is indifferent to us, and we must face its blank absurdity with courage.


TK: Pretty busy out there---- you guys running short on chicken?

GK: We're expecting more any moment now.

TK: You use up that whole sack full of chickens I brought in here?

GK: Yeah. They're all gone.

TK: You got enough to fix me a sandwich? (MOUSETRAP SNAPS)

GK: Sure, I can fix you a sandwich. Why don't you wait out there and I'll bring it to you?


SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS....brought to you by Mojave Mutual Funds....there's no other investment plan that's like Mojave. (WHINNY) (MUSIC PLAY OFF)

©1998 Garrison Keillor