SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS.....brought to you by Mojave Mutual Funds.....We're in it for the long run. (MUSIC)

GK: Dusty and I have been on the run from our cattle-rustling rap for four months now --- and finally last week we made our way to the little town of Piquant, Iowa, home of the Piquant Pumpkin Cannery, where we obtained employment as tasters of canned pumpkin filling......(DISTANT FACTORY AMBIENCE, REPETITIVE. THROUGHOUT SCENE, DUSTY AND LEFTY ARE TASTING SMALL GLOPS OF PUMPKIN FILLING, AND SPITTING IT OUT: THREE-CYCLE SFX ---- GLOP, TASTE & SPIT, BWANG OF SPITTOON).......

TR: I never realized until this week how much I utterly and absolutely despise pumpkin.

GK: Oh really? (HE TASTES)

TR: I had no idea how something so bland could be so disgusting.

GK: Well, over-familiarity with any vegetable does tend to reduce its allure, that's for sure.

TR: I've never grown tired of potatoes.

GK: No?

TR: Or boiled cabbage. Or peas or onions. But pumpkin----- maybe it's the memory of how I always feel at the end of Thanksgiving dinner.

GK: Maybe you need to add a little nutmeg to it.

TR: I tried that. Still tastes like pumpkin.


SS: Hey, you two are falling behind here. Look at that. You got twenty batches yet to taste and here I've got ten more. Come on. Get to work.

GK: I forget what we're tasting for, Miss Lumley.

SS: You're tasting for bouquet --- number one ---- is it lean and muscular, or steely and tart, or opulent and harmonious, or is it supple and fruity? You're tasting for finish ---- is it long and elegant, is it thin and watery, is it angular and focused, is it round and rich, or is it unbalanced or too intense? And you're also looking for hairs.

GK: Hairs.

SS: Hairs and rat droppings.

TR: What do we do with those?

SS: See if they dissolve with stirring. Otherwise, remove.

GK: I don't see how pumpkin filling could ever be opulent or muscular, ma'am----

SS: Well, you have to be able to appreciate the subtleties of pumpkin, that's all.

GK: Yes, ma'am. We're trying.

SS: Come on. Get busy. Taste!

TR: We are, ma'am.

SS: I want to see you tasting! (FADING, FOOTSTEPS)

TR: (HE TASTES) Supple and fruity, my foot! It's just plain dumb! Sitting here in our stupid lab coats and tasting pumpkin and talking about its bouquet and finish when everybody knows that it's just pumpkin!

GK: That's right.


GK: Right.

TR: A living symbol of mediocrity!

GK: That's right.

TR: The best pumpkin pie you ever ate wasn't all that much different from the worst pumpkin pie you ever ate!!! Am I right?? Am I?

GK: You're right. And I say, let's get out of here.

TR: And do what??

GK: (HE TASTES) I'm tired of being a criminal on the run. It's humiliating. I don't want to slink around like a dog. A dog who is paid to eat pumpkin. I say we walk down the street to the Piquant Police Department and turn ourselves in. Make a clean breast of it.

TR: And then what? go to prison? Is that what you want? You know what prison is like? It's like going to the worst junior high school that ever was. You're talking fifty years of being in the 7th grade, pardner.

GK: Fifty years!

TR: Fifty years! Without possibility of parole. That's what they're handing out for cattle rustling now.

GK: Fifty years. (HE TASTES)

TR: You get some hammerhead prosecutor and he'll ship you off for half a century without even thinking about it.

GK: Maybe we could cut us a deal of some sort.

TR: What sort of deal? (HE TASTES)

GK: We could offer testimony against higher-ups in exchange for immunity.

TR: What higher-ups?

GK: All the way higher up. The big guy himself. (HE TASTES)

TR: The President?

GK: Why not?

TR: We don't know him. We never met him before.

GK: Well, that's true. But that doesn't mean we don't have our own view of the situation.

TR: What do you mean?

GK: We call up the special prosecutor. Tell him we have tapes. And we'll turn em in if we can get off on the rustling charge.

TR: People actually do this?

GK: All the time.

TR: Make up stuff and then use it to work out a deal for themselves?

GK: The human memory is tricky, pardner. Ten minutes after something happens, nobody remembers it exactly. If it weren't for fiction, Dusty, we wouldn't know anything at all.

TR: Well---- I don't know. If you think it'll work-----

GK: Let's go. Right after work.


GK: There it is. Piquant Police.

TR: I see a light on inside.

GK: "Please wipe feet before entering." (DOOR OPEN SLOWLY, CREAKING. THEN CLOSE.) Must be down at the end of the hall. (PAIR OF FOOTSTEPS, THEN STOP. KNOCKS ON DOOR)


GK: You the police chief???

ST (WITHIN): Come on in!


ST: You're not the guy with the pizza, are you----

GK: No, we're not. Chief.

ST: Doggone it....said they'd be here in twenty minutes ---- Who are you?

GK: My name is Lefty and this here is my pardner Dusty and we came in because, after wrestling with our consciences for the past few weeks, we've decided to make a clean breast of it and come in and confess to the cattle rustling that we did and also tell what we know about the President, so if you have a stenographer handy, or a tape machine, we're ready to talk. Both of us. We'll tell you everything.

ST: Oh boy. Just what I needed!

TR: You want us to sit or stand, Chief?

ST: I knew something like this was going to happen!

GK: It isn't easy, but we had to do it.

ST: Do you have any idea how long it's going to take me just to do the paperwork on this? do you? Look at these felony forms! Who do you think is going to fill that thing in? Huh? Three hours! Minimum!

GK: Well, can we help with that?

ST: It's after six o'clock! I've gotta meet my wife at this crazy piano recital at seven o'clock! I haven't had my supper. My deputy is sick so I gotta carry my beeper in to the piano recital and if the thing goes off, she'll kill me ---- we gotta sit there and listen to sixteen kids play "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" and "To A Wild Rose" and afterward we got to sit around and eat lemon cake and then you expect me to drag myself back here and fill out paperwork on you clowns and put you in the car and drive you all the way over to the other end of the county and put you in the county jail and then go back there tomorrow for the arraignment ---- huh? I can't do it! I just can't!

TR: Would it make it easier if we were to come back tomorrow?

ST: I honestly don't have time for this! What rustling charge you talking about anyway?

TR: Cattle rustling. In South Dakota----

GK: It was last summer.

TR: Except we didn't really do it.

ST: Fine! So why bother me about it???

GK: Well, we just wanted to get it off our chests.

ST: Well, you just did. Listen---- could you help me out for a couple hours?

TR: Sure----

ST: Could you watch the place so I don't have to take a beeper in to the piano recital? Could you?

GK: Sure.

ST: Raise your right hand. "I do solemnly swear to uphold the law without fear nor favor no matter what, so help me God, except as common sense may dictate." Okay?

GK: You got it.
ST: I'll be back before midnight.
TR: Anything you want us to do?
ST: It's easy. About once an hour, you get in the car and drive around town real slow so people can see you. And flash your red lights once in awhile so if somebody is up to mischief, they can hide and you won't have to see em, and it won't be a problem, okay?
GK: It's a deal, Chief.
TR: We'll be right here, don't you worry. (THEME) SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS....brought to you by Mojave Brand Mutual Funds....Sure, we're down now, but wait a few years. Mojave is coming back. You can count on it. (WHINNY) (MUSIC PLAY OFF)

© 1998 Garrison Keillor