(GK: Garrison Keillor, TK: Tom Keith)

GK: There have been rumors that our sound-effects man, Mr. Tom Keith, is going to be getting his own radio show, a dramatic series called The Big Meanie, but Tom has assured me that those rumors are not true.

TK: That's right.

GK: Not true.

TK: Correct.

GK: So you're staying with our show.

TK: Exactly.

GK: The rumors said that Tom Keith signed a contract in the high five figures to do a show about a guy who has bats (SQUEAKS & WINGS) in his home and sprays a deadly poison (SPRAY) to get rid of them and it starts to affect him (COUGH) and he turns into a real meanie (GRUMBLING & SNARLING) and the sort of guy you just don't know what he might do next (OUTBURST OF ANGER) and so the neighbors lock their doors (SERIES OF LOCKS) and the neighborhood dogs avoid him (WHINING) and when UPS delivers to his door, they don't stay around long. (RUNNING FOOTSTEPS APPROACH, THUMP OF PACKAGE, RUNNING FOOTSTEPS AWAY. TRUCK ENGINE REV)

I didn't believe that Tom would leave this show because Tom is happy on our show. Aren't you.

TK: Happy. Right.

GK: Tom is happy and grateful about some of the little perks we've tossed his way. The big dressing room lined with marble (FOOTSTEPS, WITH REVERB, AS IF IN MARBLE HALL) with the private steam room (SFX) and refrigerator (DOOR OPEN) stocked with the 1988 Bordeaux (CORK OPEN, POP) that Tom particularly likes (POURING) and a dog who licks Tom's shoes (DOG) and a personal chef, Rosemary (FEMALE TITTERS) who makes the banana, marshmallow and mayonnaise sandwiches (SQUISHES) that Tom especially loves and a regulation ping-pong table (PING PONG). Tom's is the only dressing room here in the theater with a ping-pong table and a robot at the other end who is programmed to let Tom win. (TOM SMASH. ROBOT BEEPS) So for these reasons, I'm sure Tom would never leave us.

TK: It's been great.

GK: And this new series, The Big Meanie, is rumored to include scenes of graphic violence (GUNFIRE), scenes so graphic that the National Parent-Teachers Association has voted to boycott any station that airs the show---- graphic scenes of violence such as this - (WHISTLE OF SWORD IN AIR, THEN THRUST, IMPACT OF SWORD IN CHEST. GROAN) and also scenes like this one (CHAINSAW START AND RUN. PITIFUL CRY. CHAINSAW REV. SCREAM) and also scenes such as this (SINISTER LAUGH. MEOW. LAUGH. MEOW. DISTANT TRAIN WHISTLE. MEOW. SINISTER LAUGH. WHISTLE APPROACHING. MEOW. TRAIN THUNDERS PAST. SINISTER LAUGH) Somehow I can't imagine Tom Keith being a part of a show of that caliber.

TK: Disgusting.

GK: And Tom is loyal to this show because Tom remembers the time I saved his life.

TK: You did?

GK: It was on a January night years ago, during a blizzard (BLIZZARD, WOLVES) and timber wolves were roaming the streets of St. Paul and Tom's car was stuck (TIRES SPINNING), and he had to get out of his car and push (SHUT CAR DOOR) and (TK EFFORT) he'd left the car in gear and when he shut the door (ATTEMPT TO OPEN DOOR) it automatically locked and when he pushed (CAR REV) the tires got traction and (REV) the car took off (TK ALARM) with Tom's jacket caught in the door and (CAR RACING) the car raced down the freeway (TK CRY FOR HELP) and it was weaving in and out of traffic (HORNS, CAR RACING) and as it so happened I was driving home from a horse show that night (WHINNY), pulling a trailer with my jumper Whitney of Scarborough in it and I saw the car go by (TK CRY OF HELP, CAR REV) with the guy hanging from it and I stopped and got on my horse (GALLOPING HOOVES) and I raced up alongside Tom's car (TK CRY FOR HELP) and I leaned down and grabbed him by the collar and (SWOOSH OF KNIFE) cut him free just as the car (CAR PULLING AWAY) went over the cliff and rolled (SFX SEQ) end over end over end down the hill and onto the ice (CRUNCH AND CRACK) and sank in the Mississippi (BUBBLES). I saved his life and he was grateful.

TK: Hey, thanks.

GK: And that's why I don't think he'd leave this show, especially not to do a show that's filled with ugly violent scenes that would only alienate his fans (KNIFE STABBING, GROAN). I think he'll stay. Tom Keith.

(c) 1999 by Garrison Keillor