(GK: Garrison Keillor, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith, TR: Tim Russell)
THE TWELVE LABORS OF HERCULES - by Garrison Keillor, with material contributed by Andrew Moore.

GK: It's time now for (MOUTH TRUMPETS) .......THE CLASSIC RADIO THEATER OF THE AIR (TK ECHO).....brought to you by Coffee con Carne, the only coffee that contains raw beef ----- (TK: Yes!!! GROWLS) ----

TR: If your current brand of coffee leaves you feeling listless and wimpy ---- try Coffee con Carne. (TK HOWL) It's a man's coffee. Contains protein!

GK: And now......THE CLASSIC RADIO THEATER OF THE AIR (TK ECHO).....STARRING TIM RUSSELL.....SUE SCOTT.....WITH SOUND EFFECTS BY TOM KEITH (BIRDS SCREECH, PRIMATES).....in a radio play by Andy Moore and Upton O'Good----- The Labors of Hercules. (MUSIC) The great hero Hercules, after suffering a fit of madness in which he committed terrible crimes......

TR: Man, I don't know what got into me. The ravaging, the pillaging, the havoc I wreaked.

GK: Was living in the house of Eurystheus, doing penance for his sins.

TR: Man, I must have been out of my mind.

GK: And he consulted the oracle at Delphi to find out how he could purify himself. (DIALS CELL PHONE)

SS (ON PHONE): Welcome to the Oracle Hotline. For cryptic pronouncements, press 1. For straightforward yet terrifying prophecies, press 2. For interpretation of dreams, press 3. For ordinary household tips, press 4. If you wish to send the entrails of a chicken or sheep by fax, you may do so now, by pressing Star 5-1. To speak directly to one of our Oracle Service Representatives, press 5. (BEEP) You have pressed 5. One of our Oracle Service Representatives will be----- (CLICK, DEEPER VOICE) Hi, Hercules.

TR: Hi, Oracle. How did you know it was me?

SS: Caller ID...

TR: Oh. Uh, the reason I'm calling is--

SS: You're looking for a way to purify yourself after all the crazy stuff bloody deeds you did. Am I right?

TR: How did you know?

SS: Hey, it's my business. ----- Okay. Listen to this. I'm going to assign you twelve heroic labors to perform. Okay?

TR: Twelve labors. Okay. Got it.

SS: You do these twelve things, and you'll be released from your guilt and find closure and maybe I'll toss in a maiden or something. Okay?

TR: Sort of a twelve-labor program.

SS: Right. First: kill the lion of Nemea. That's the one whose skin is impervious to iron, bronze, or stone. Second: kill the terrible nine-headed hydra. It's down by the sea, near Argos. Third: Clean out--

TR: Wait, slow down. "...lion...of..." How do you spell Nemea?

SS: You want me to fax this to you?

TR: Great! I'm at the home of Eurystheus. The number is XVI----CVX----(MUSIC BRIDGE)

GK: Hercules looked at the list of twelve labors and it looked impossible and on top of that there was the problem of how to get to all these places?

SS (ON PHONE): Look, I do Destiny, Fate, I prophesy the inescapable. I'm not a travel agent.

TR: But you've got me going from Argos to Ceryneia to catch the hind ---- and then to Mount Erymanthus to capture the boar ---- I mean, the connections, the layovers ---- it's going to take thirty years. I need a golden chariot drawn by two fiery winged steeds.

SS: Okay. Okay. I'll rent you one. You want a full-size, a mid-size-----

TR: Full-size.

SS: Okay. But beware! (STING)

TR: Beware of what?

SS: One day you will kill your father and marry your mother!

TR: Are you sure???

SS: No, wait...Wrong guy. Sorry. Never mind. (BRIDGE)

GK: So Hercules went off in his golden chariot-----

TR: Gold seat covers, too. Cool.

GK: And his fiery winged steeds (WHINNIES, WINGS FLAPPING) and he went off to Nemea, home of the lion (ROAR) ----- and he took him down (TR GRUNT, LION WHIMPER) and he tore off his fur-----

TR: This is going to sting. (LION SHUDDER, RIP) -----

GK: And he went to Argos and slew the terrible nine-headed hydra. (MONSTER ROAR) (BONK, MONSTER MOAN).

TR: Okay. (RUSTLE OF PAPER) Labor No. 3. "Clean out the Augean stables." Oh, for gross. (BANGS ON DOOR) Open up. Stable cleaner here! (DOOR OPENS)

SS: Sorry, we're not casting today.

TR: What?

SS: Casting's tomorrow, callbacks next week, leave your resume and an urn with your picture on it.

TR: I'm here to clean out the Augean stables.

SS: This is it. "Augean Stables". The TV show.

TR: But it's nothing but horse manure.

SS: Critics. Everybody's a critic. ----Hey, what you doing with that shovel??? (SHOVEL SCRAPE, BIG LOAD OF MANURE) Hey! Stop that! That's next week's script!

TR: Just doing my job. (SHOVEL SCRAPE, LOAD OF MANURE)

SS: You're destroying the work of our writers.

TR: Stuff like this is easily replenished, believe me. (SHOVEL SCRAPE, LOAD OF MANURE) (BRIDGE)

GK: From the stables, Hercules headed to Ceryneia, to capture the Ceryneian Hind, a swift creature, like an antelope (RUNNING FEET, PANTING BREATH)


GK: Next he captured the wild fire-breathing bull of Crete (BULL) and the man-eating mares of Diomedes (WHINNY)----- and he killed the carnivorous birds of Stymphalis (WILD FLUTTERING, SQUAWKING, CRACK OF NECKS) and the wild boar of Erymanthus.

TK (drone): --yeah, we like it here in Erymanthus ---- you got Arcadia not so far away and Mount Lapithus is here and, hey, people say Arcadia isn't what it used to be and maybe they're right but you couldn't pay me enough to live in Thebes ---- no sir ---- it's quiet here in Arcadia, taxes are low, you don't have the traffic --(CRACK)

GK: He also managed to win the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.

SS: (DEEP VOICE) You want my what?

TR: Girdle.

SS: Tell you what. I'll rassle you for it. Two falls out of three. You win, you get the girdle. I win and you have to come to our Amazon meeting and share something with us. Something personal. (SS & TR WRESTLING SOUNDS, SS ALARM, FALL. BRIDGE)

GK: He stole the golden apples of the Hesperides, guarded by a terrible dragon. (MONSTER) And he stole the cattle of Geryon, the strongest man alive (TR JESSE: I'd like to see somebody try it---- rest assured, I'll get him in a hold and throw him in a flaming dumpster! ----- Whoops? What happened to those cows?), and Hercules flew off in his chariot and for his final labor, he went down into Hades and he took Charon's ferryboat across the river Styx (BOAT HORN) and he captured Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the gates. (LOW, OMINOUS GROWLING, DOG CHOKING) And so Hercules finished all twelve of his labors that the oracle had assigned him, and to celebrate, he went out to a nectar joint ----( PIANO MUSIC, CROWD CHATTER, GLASSES) -----

TR: I'll have a double ambrosia with a twist of grape leaf.

GK: The place was full of Bacchae chicks and a bunch of satyrs (RAUCOUS LAUGHTER) and Hercules tossed back some nectar and then he called up the Oracle. (CELL PHONE)-----

SS (RECORDING): Welcome to the Oracle Hotline, for cryptic---- (BEEP) All of our Oracle Service Representatives are busy with other customers. Please stay on the line. Your plea for help is very important to us. Your call will be---- (CLICK, DEEPER VOICE) Hercules---- hi.

TR: Hey, listen, I'm in a nectar joint over by the gates of Hades and I finished up all those twelve labors for you-----

SS (ON PHONE): You got the lion skin, the hydra, the boar, the girdle, you cleaned out the stables----

TR: Did it all. Everything. So now I get closure and I get to enjoy the rest of my life, right?

SS (ON PHONE): Uh. Let me check. According to my oracle computer, you spend the rest of eternity trying to roll a rock up a hill----- no, wait, sorry ----- wrong file ----- here it is ------ according to this, you're chained to a rock and a giant bird comes and pecks out your liver.

TR: What????? After all that, after all I went through????

SS (ON PHONE): Hey, I'm only the oracle, okay? I didn't make the fates, I'm just the messenger.


TR: You get away from me. I can ruin my own liver without any help from you. (BIRD SHRIEK) Oracle? Are you there?

SS (ON PHONE): Let me put you on hold for a sec, okay? (CLICK)

GK: And the moment the oracle put him on Hold, Hercules found himself on board a ship (CREAK OF RIGGING, SEAGULLS, WAVES) ----

TR: Captain?

TK (CAPTAIN): Aye, mate?

TR: What ship is this? And where is it bound?

TK (CAPTAIN): This ship? This is the Pequod, sir. And we're after whales. And one whale in particular.

TR: But ---- it can't be.

TK (CAPTAIN): A fair wind in our sails----- lookout! Keep a sharp eye, sir!

GK (DISTANT VOICE): Aye, Cap'n----

TK (CAPTAIN): Look off there, Ishmael----

TR: I'm Hercules, sir.

TK (CAPTAIN): I'm going to call you Ishmael.

SS: Hi, Ishmael. I'm Hester. Hester Prynne.

TR: But --- you're pregnant, Miss Prynne!

SS: Mr. Dimmesdale paid my passage, I don't know why.

TK (CAPTAIN) Steady as she goes! All hands on deck!

TR: Are we all on the same page, people? Lad----?

GK: Yes, sir. David Copperfield at your service, sir.

SS: There's a boat pulling up alongside, Captain Ahab!

TK (CAPTAIN): My spyglass, sailor----- Why---- It's Long John Silver!

TR (SILVER, OFF): Aye, Ahab! With as scurvy a bunch of knaves as ever sailed the seven seas.

TK (CAPTAIN): Off with you, Silver!

TR (SILVER, OFF): Not until you taste our steel, Ahab! Prepare to board! (GROWLS OF EXCITEMENT FROM THE CREW)

TK (TINY TIM): God bless us, every one.

TR (CAPOTE VOICE): Miss Prynne, you'd best go below immediately.

SS: Why thank you, Dorian.

TR (SILVER): Quaff the manhattan! Rig the ballots! Lay the chorine!

TK (AHAB): We'll show these pirates ----- Are you ready, lads? (ROAR FROM CREW) Give me a handspike! (SWORDS, CRIES, CONFUSION)

GK: So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past. (MUSIC) on THE CLASSIC RADIO THEATER OF THE AIR (TK ECHO) brought to you by Coffee con Carne, the only coffee containing real beef (HOWL).....(MOUTH TRUMPETS)

(c) 2000 by Garrison Keillor