Sue Scott: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS...brought to you by the Old Leather Butt family of fine harness and saddle products...

Garrison Keillor: Wasn't a bad Christmas, Dusty. Nice of the Double Bar D ranchhands to invite us over there to sit around their Christmas mesquite and sing Christmas carols and such.

Tim Russell: Seemed to me that maybe the presents came from a food shelf. Water chestnuts and prunes.

GK: Nonetheless-- it's the thought that counts.

TR: And now we can look forward to spending New Year's Eve on this desolate windswept God-forsaken wasteland with a herd of fifty mangy cattle for company. And me fresh out of whiskey.

GK: Uh huh.

TR: Week after week of this miserable pointless cowboy life and a man longs for a little grace and beauty. Or at least a couple of dance-hall girls with most of their teeth and smelling more or less like roses. Or some other type of vegetation. HEY! (COW BELLOWING) GIT! HEEEYUP! (CRACK OF WHIP) (HORSE CLOPS RESUME)

GK: The New Year may be bringing us something new, Dusty. We got an offer of full-time jobs the other day. Woman came by and made us an offer whilst you were out gathering firewood. A job up in Montana.

TR: Whoa. (WHINNY, HORSE HOOVES STOP) An offer of a job doing what?

GK: Being cowboys.

TR: A paid job?

GK: Yep. Thirty-five thousand a year plus full health benefits and a nice pension fund.

TR: Apiece?

GK: Yep.

TR: For doing what?

GK: Dressing up like cowboys and riding around and whooping some and moving a few cows from one pasture to another.

TR: You mean pasture with fence around it?

GK: Yeah.

TR: Not driving em five hundred miles down some godforsaken miserable dusty trail?

GK: We'd have apartments. In the lodge. With heat and a.c., dishwashers, laundry, and beds with dials on them that you can adjust to the exact firmness desired. Plus high-speed Internet.

TR: Why do they want to pay cowboys all that money to do something ridiculous?

GK: This is a real-estate development called Mountain Greenery and they want a couple of cowboys around to lend authenticity and flavor.

TR: So we'd be scenery.

GK: Exactly. We'd ride around some and whoop some and drive the cattle and put em in a new pasture and then in the evening we'd squat around a campfire and tell tall tales about our adventures in the West.

TR: We gotta squat?

GK: We would be expected to squat, yes. And also saunter, or mosey, and lean and squint and spit.

TR: Spitting and all that, I can do that, it's the squatting that's uncomfortable. Especially with spurs on.

GK: Spurs would be required, too.

TR: I donno. What do you think?

GK: I doubt that we're gonna get a better offer.

TR: Our pals out on the trail'd laugh themselves sick when they get wind of it. Us hiring out to be pictorial cowboys.

GK: What pals are you referring to?

TR: Well-- you know-- Slim and One-Eye and--

GK: Slim is dead. One-Eye went back to Iowa to work in the stockyards.

TR: Russ--

GK: Russ became a truckdriver.

TR: So you want to do this?

GK: It's almost January, Dusty. Then comes February and March. We're out here, broke, heading for Flagstaff, not sure we'll get paid when we get there-- meanwhile it's 2007 and we're trying to pretend it's 1937 or 1887 and what's the point of it?


GK: I told em we'd sit down and talk to em in Split Butte today.

TR: Talk to who?

GK: The folks from Mountain Greenery.

TR: What are we going to tell em?

GK: Guess we'll find out once we get there. (TIME PASSAGE BRIDGE) (FOOTSTEPS)

SS: Welcome to the Sunrise Cafe. May I help you?

GK: Yes, ma'am, we were supposed to meet some people here.

SS: Well, have a seat. Can I bring you a glass of juice?

TR: What kind of juice?

SS: Papaya, tangerine, carrot-pineapple, celery-orange--

TR: No thanks. (FOOTSTEPS AWAY) I had no idea Split Butte had places like this. A saloon with plants. And what is that? NO SMOKING? Is that what that says? That can't be. Must say NO BROKING or NO STOKING-- (PIANO, LITE JAZZ VERSION OF "CAMPTOWN RACES")

GK: Just relax, Dusty. The world is full of new things. Not our job to pass judgement on them.

TR: Excuse me. (FOOTSTEPS) Hey piano player-- (PIANO STOPS)

RD: Yes?

TR: That's not how that tune goes. You mind?

RD: Be my guest.

TR: Here. Let me show you. (SALOON VERSION, "CAMPTOWN RACES" SIXTEEN BARS AND STOP) There. That's how you play it out here in the West.

RD: Well, I could play it that style but they're paying me to play it this way. (LITE JAZZ VERSION)

Fred Newman: Hello. I'm Brad and this is my partner Stephanie...

SS: Hi.

FN: You're Lefty?

GK: Yes, sir. This is my partner Dusty.

TR: Not a partner in that sense...

SS: You look like real cowboys. I love that. That patina of dust and sweat. It's perfect. That's exactly what we're looking for. Authenticity.

FN: Mountain Greenery is a condominium village offering vacation homes in the three- to ten-million range and we'll be showing the property in a few weeks to prospective buyers so we'd like to have our ranchhands on duty as soon as possible. We can offer a moving allowance to haul any furniture or goods you have--

SS: Where do you live, by the way?

GK: We live on the trail. And we don't have any furniture. Just a cook kit and some bedrolls. And a tarp.
SS: Where do you keep your things?

GK: Don't have any.

FN: Pictures? Books? CDs?

GK: Got a guitar. (STRUMS)

TR: So you just want us to hang around and look like cowboys, huh?

FN: And manage some cows.

GK: Just run em from one pasture to another?

FN: Right. Stephanie and I are both vegans.

SS: The entire community is commited to the idea of sustainable energy and maintaining a low impact on the environment.

TR: One question--

FN: Yes, sir.

TR: Are we going to be required to squat?

FN: I believe so. What do you think, Stephanie?

SS: I think it would be a plus. Is that a problem?

TR: Depends on how long you need us to squat...

SS: Well, I'd say for as long as it takes to tell a rippin' good yarn.

TR: They have to be rippin good? Nothing ordinary. Like about getting lost? Or being lonely?

FN: We'd like them to be (number one) authentic and (number two) to have a good story structure to keep people's interest. We can help you with that. And then we'd like there to be group discussion after. A Q&A.

TR: And we'd have to squat all this time?

SS: Squat and spit.

TR: Well, count me out. I'm a cowboy, folks. I squat when I like and I spit when I like and I don't do it according to somebody else's schedule. The whole idea is a piece of nonsense and I want no part of it. So I'm out of here. So long, Lefty. (FOOTSTEPS. THEN STOP) You go on playing that tune that way, you're gonna attract people to this town who are not supposed to be here, mister. Just so you know. (FOOTSTEPS, DOOR OPEN, CLOSE)

SS: So you still interested in coming to work for us, Lefty?

GK: I guess so.

FN: We would need there to be two cowboys.

SS: You know any others?

GK: I know One-Eyed Jim.

SS: He's one-eyed?

GK: Yep.

SS: We'd rather not have anyone disfigured.

GK: I could ask Lonesome Shorty.

FN: We need cowboys between 5'10 and 6'4.

GK: Well, maybe Big Messer then.

FN: And weighing between 175 and 200.

GK: There's Pops.

FN: And between 40 and 55.

GK: Ah. Well...I guess you're out of luck. (SCRAPE OF CHAIR)

SS: Well, thanks for coming in to see us about it.

GK: Sure. My pleasure.

FN: Where you heading off to?

GK: Got no idea. Just heading off down the trail, I guess. See what's south of here. (BRIDGE, THEN HORSE HOOVES, SLOW WALK, COWS, OUTDOOR AMBIENCE)

TR: So you told em no, huh?

GK: Well, I didn't see how it was going to work.

TR: I didn't like em, either of em.

GK: Well, there's not many you do like.

TR: Oh, go and blame me, won't you. Make it my fault.

GK: It was a good offer, Dusty. We could've worked out the squatting part. But you-- you're the great idealist. (STRUM)

TR: Oh boy. I know it was coming.

As I walked out in the streets of Split Butte
As I walked out in Split Butte one day
I spied a poor cowboy wrapped up in white linen
It used to be white but now it was gray.

"I can tell by your smell that you are a cowboy"
These words he did say as I walked by
"Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story
I've been eating trans fats and I know I must die."
"'Twas once in the saddle I used to go ridin'
I rode through Split Butte at an elegant trot
But I lost a job that had good health benefits
Because my partner refused to squat."
"So I had no insurance and I ate all those transfats
And they went to my heart and my health went to pot
And I could not pay for the drugs that I needed
Because my partner refused to squat."

TR: Are you almost done?

GK: Oh beat the drum slowly, and play the fife lowly
As you carry me along to my burial plot
And please tell my partner that he has killed me
As surely as if he had taken a shot.
In this life we must make compromises
Some things we must do though we'd rather not.
Especially for the sake of those whom we care for
And that is my song and goodbye, thanks a lot.

TR: Please don't yodel.



SS: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS...brought to you by the Old Leather Butt family of saddle products.