" 'S not Bombay. It's Tanqueray. Where the fuck's my cartridge?"
"Wherever the fuck you left it, rummy! Wasn't that the most honest, sincere, reliable crazy clown ever tried to give away a car for only half what it's worth? Go on down, check it out. Drop in on Kooky Karl at 368 North Main in the quiet, comfortable Decorah low-rent belt, and get yourself a smoth set of wheels. Oh, and don't laugh at the high trade-ins, or maybe old Kooky Karl might catch on and stop cheating himself! Okay-okay-okay, that's our last commercial message of the wee-est hour of the morning. You can hear old Uncle Petey's theme awailin' in the background. We're going to play the whole thing through, give ol Daniel J. a chance to crawl into a set of headphones and slap a few old classics and standards on the turntables for ya. So till tomorrow at that same time, same WKLH, this is your friend Peter Moroney saying Good Night, God Bless, Ten-four good biddies. I mean it, scumbag! I'm not faking your crummy show one more time. You roll in here late and crocked again, your three or four loyal fans are going to get both ears full of a heap of dead air!"
"Jus' gimme the fuckin' headset and GO, will ya asshole? Just close those blessed sound-proof doors behind your broad behind and leave me alone with my adoring public. Va-DADutDAH... Oh my, old friends, how's this for a change of tempo? I can't tell you what a warm, cheery glow Uncle Petey leaves around this lonely studio when he slips through that door and trudges out into the cold, unfriendly night to drive those empty miles back hme in a spiffy, hardly-used Cadillac he practically Stole from poor Kooky Karl just last month. And how are all my insomniac friends tonight? Any of you care to dial ol' lonesome Dan on EVasion-2-6666 for a minute or two of quiet conversation? That number again is DUctility-2-6666. Or, if you prefer, any of you veterans out there can call our alternate number, FTA-2-6666. Didn't you just hate it when Ma Bell took away all our nice exchange-names, made us memorize more numbers? Well, ol' Bitter-End McCaffrey here is fighting that Last Ditch fight for a safe and sane system of telecommunications. EUboia-2-6666, before our theme-song ends, or Sleepy Dan here will get the impression all you nighhawks have gone to roost. Hello, your on WKLH."
"You going to play SGT.PEPPER for me again tonight, Dan?"
"Now you know I make it a proud point never to play requests, Ella Mae. How are you tonight?"
"Don't you never call anybody by their right name"
"Can't usually remember 'em, Vicki darlin' ."
"Well, I just wanted to say that you Always play something that matches my mood, even things I've never heard before. Sometimes I've got to wait to hear the titles after you play 'em, but you're real good at pickin' records. That shot of SGT. PEPPER last night was just what I needed to perk me out of the after-midnight blues."
"Thank you darlin' Susie for them kind words, ma'am. And maybe, since you're feeling better, I'll lay a litle of this FRESH AIR on you, from the Mannheim Steamroller. 'Bye love."
"We'll talk again. Goodnight."
"Hello, you'll be on the air once this cut ends. What can I do for you?"
"Shoot Reagan for me, you goddamned Commie pissant!"
"Hello, may I have Sergeant O'Malley please?"
"This is the Tax-Dodger, you mother!"
"Yes, sergeant, he's called again, and I want to lodge a formal complaint. Yes, I'll keep the phone off the hook while you trace him."
"Trace what. You fucking bastard! Goodby!"
"Hmmm. Wonder if he'll.. What? Oh yes, sergeant, he just picked up the phone again, so he knows he can't break the connection. Think you can get a patrol car there within the next five minutes?"
"Hah! When will those damned shitheads learn how a phone works? Hello, your on WKLH."
"Hi Dan, this is Glenda again. You know, everybody in my office has been whistling that song you played for me last week."
"Well gosh, Velma baby, that's wonderful of you to say so. You want to say it again into my little tape-recorder so I can play it for my sponsors to show how many people listen to poor lonesome Dan?"
"Oh, I don't mean they Listen to you, Dan. I mean I started whistling it, and Everybody liked it and They started whistling it. It's So catchy. Do you know how I might write to the guy who did it, that Simon Garfinkel, to tell him how happy it made us all?"
"Tell you what, Brenda, send ME your note and I'll give it to him the next time we have lunch together."
"You will? You're a real doll, Dan! G'night."
"Hello, you're on WKLH."
"Dan, my name is Kevin, but you're probably not going to remember me."
"Well look, Harry old kid, I never forget a face. How a doin'?"
"Magnificently, Dan, and I just had to call and tellyou how my life has changed. I just called on impulse last week and said 'Play something to match my mood.' "
"Well, that's what I'm here for, Harrr'vey."
"...and you played Nat King Cole singing LUSH LIFE, the homosexual's theme song, and suddenly I just Knew. I mean, I suddenly realized I was so blue and sentimental all the time because I was trying to live a lie and just --- came out. And I feel so Relieved and, well --- and alive! I just had to thank you. How did you Know? I mean, are you gay too, Dan?"
"Well now, Jake, I'm glad to hear that things are working out for you. And you can take it from old Daniel S. McCaffrey --- the S standing for 'straight' by the way --- that we here at WKLH, 1342 on your AyEmm dial, pride ourselves on an absence of prejudgements made on the basis of race, creed, or previous choice of sexual partner. As the coxswain of the Yale rowing team said when the Harvard crew started ragging him because his lead oarsman was gay, 'Different folks for different strokes.' Just hang in there, good buddy."
"Well, thanks --- and Jose my roommate wanted to thank you too, but he's too shy to come to the phone himself."
"Well you tell old Billie Bonnie that any friend of Clyde's is a friend of mine, y'hear? And good night to ya. Hello, you're on WKLH."
"Mr. McCaffrey I have been unable to contact you either by mail or phone. My name is Herbert J. Fishbein and my client Harriet McCaffrey Bates has instructed me to.... "
"Sorry to cut you off there, Crenshaw my boy, but your telephone is too close to the radio for us to make out what you're saying. Hang on while I lay this SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL by the Stones on you, so we can hear each other. Okay you fucking little shyster, listen and listen good..."
"It has been five months since your last payment of legally agreed-upon.... "
"Damn it, there has been a change in Her finances and in My finances. This whole thing has been contested, it's in litigation now, the money is in escrow, my lawyer has told me Not to pay another cent of alimony until the whole thing has been renegotiated, and if you don't know that SHE knows that. Now you get off my damn back. This is unethical, it's illegal, it's called harrassement, and if I had your scuzzy voice on tape right now I'd gleefully sue the skivvies off you for malpractice, and I can assure you that tape recorder will be here with me and ON every show I do from now on, so watch it, schmuck face. Hello, old friend, you're on WKLH."
"This is Tom Doherty, a regular listener, Dan. How came there's no contest tonight?"
"Well bless your heart, Aloysius old kid, you're a contest freak, eh? Okay, old Daniel P. McCaffrey has been saving this one up for just the likes of you. And the question is: What does the 'P' stand for? Got that? What does the 'P' in Daniel P. McCaffrey stand for. First one to call in with the correct answer wins a prize. Not a big, gross, tasteless prize. A modest prize. Entries will be judged on originality and aptness of thought. And remember, neatness counts. Any ideas, Sherlock old shoe? What does the 'P' in Daniel P. McCaffrey stand for?"
"What's that again, Sir Galahad?"
" Pau.. no Peter! It's Peter, isn't it?"
"Thought you had me there for a moment, but better luck next... "
"Paul then. I had it right the first time, didn't I?"
"Well, let's say the bone's buried a little deeper than that, Rover old kid. Hello, you're on WKLH. Like to guess what the 'P' stands for in Daniel P. McCaffrey?"
"It stands for 'Pretty darn wonderful,' you darlin' man."
"Always like to listen to a lady with taste, Heloise, even when she's guessing wrong! But what made you think the 'P' stood for... what were those sweet words again?"
"Prety darn wonderful, and you are and you know it. You remember last Tuesday I called saying I was thinking of asking my husband if we should try separate vacations this year? And you played THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC, remember?"
"I never forget a face, Darlin' Lucy. So that solved your problem did it? You and the hubby are back together again?"
"Oh no! I Did ask him, and he socked me in the eye! I'm at the halfway house for battered wives, and I'm suing for divorce. But I'd never of asked if I hadn't talked to you first. So you'll always be Pretty darn wonderful in my book, lonesome Dan!"
"Love to hear them happy endings, Phillida my sweet! Hello, you're on WKLH. Got a guess about the 'P'?"
"It stands for Prick-face, doesn't it?"
"What's that, Zarniwop my main man, you say you're astonished to hear so few commercials on our show tonight? Well, just for the many connoiseurs of audio salesmanship among you, Philo my friend, here coming at you back-to-back are two --- count 'em TWO --- fine old sponsors of lonesome Dan. Jesus fuckin'H. Christ there must be a full moon tonight! Some of the calls I've been getting must be the result of Moon-Spots or something. Oh shit, why is it that bastard Always drinks the last cup of coffee before I come on? He can make more just as easily as I can. Hello, you're talking to lonesome Dan on WKLH."
"How can such a sexy-sounding man ever pretend to be lonesome, hmmm?"
"Well, Doris dearie, it's late at night, the real world's asleep, and there's no one in this bare little sound-proofed closet but yours truly, lonesome Dan."
"Sexy people shouldn't be lonely, Daniel P! You understand what I mean?"
"Well perhaps I do, Marlyse old sock. Hang on a second while I spin an old favorite, the Village People doing WHYEMSEEAYE. I just Love songs with poetic lyrics, don't you? Say there, baby doll, did I hear you saying what I think I heard you saying?"
"Well, without half the world listening, I can make myself clearer, sexy man. I stay awake here, alone in my empty bed every night, just to listen to that oh so sexy voice of yours, Daniel P; and I wonder --- every night I wonder --- does he look as sexy as he sounds?"
"Well, as you know, I'm free at four ayem every morning. Were you thinking of... "
"Oh, I'll drop off from exhaustion by then, sexy man. But why wait? I live exactly two blocks from that sound-proofed closet of yours. Can't you put in a really Long playing record and just drop over for a quickie? Here, just listen to it sizzle for you!"
"Great God Almighty! I wonder if herpes simplex has ever been transmitted over the phone before?"
"How 'bout it, big boy? Can you hurry on over?"
"Well, baby doll, I tried that once, many years and many stations ago. And you know what I heard the moment I drove up to the eager lady's door?"
"Moans, big boy?"
"No, I heard the damn record playing the same damn groove over, and over, and over again. I just can't risk it, doll. But come four ayem, I... "
"Come four a m I'll be in snoresville, sonny. Had your chance, you timid creep!"
"Ah well. As we always said around WHDH back in Boston, ya can't lose them all, but the Red Sox are out there trying every afternoon! Hello, you're on WKLH."
"Hello Daniel P. The 'P' stands for 'psi' doesn't it?"
"Great guess, wrong letter. That's Daniel P. McCaffrey, 'P' not 'S'. I like the thought though, Elveera m'deera."
"No, not 'Sigh" with an 'S'; 'Puh-sigh" with a 'P'. Your psychic, right Dan? Oh please, come on, admit you're one of us!"
"I'm not sure I catch your drift, Dorothy doll."
"Oh don't play games, Dan, please! I've been listening to your show for weeks now. You always know exactly what people need to hear, even before they call in. You don't even have to cue up the records, they're already just sitting and waiting. And there's your fine, intuitive sense that says Just the right thing, unexpected or not. Don't pretend any more, Daniel P. McCaffrey. The world has such a need for people like us, and we should stand up and be counted!"
"Well now, Elizabeth my queen, I wish I could say I was one with you right now, but I'm going to have to give you a sad 'Sorry, next time maybe' on that one. But hang on, and I'll explain a little further while I play this tune for ya, Billie Holiday singing STRANGE FRUIT. Are you still there, miss?"
"I am indeed. Oh, I was right after all. You can't admit it publically, but you Are psychic, aren't you, Dan?"
"Actually, the correct answer is 'I was, but I ain't any more.' Now, I don't know what band or group or society you're running with, but I'm no longer interested in... "
"But there's a New World just waiting to be born, Dan, and if the people of vision don't step forward... "
"Look, lady, I've been Rhined and dined at that thankless banquet once too often. I'm just a guy trying to make a living the best I know how. Don't rock my boat, okay?"
"Don't hide your talent under a bushel, lonesome Dan. I assure you, you don't have to be lonesome any more!"
"HALF a talent, lady. Only half! Look, I make a lot of wild guesses, and some of them turn out right. Some of them screw me to the wall they're so wrong. I bat only .250 in my best seasons, but I swear to you my eyes are clenched shut every time I swing. You'd make better money at roulette than betting on me. Sure, I tipped the cops to stop seven suicides last month alone, but I'm also fighting three invasion-of-privacy suits, and any one of them could put me in debtors' prison for life."
"Don't you owe humanity something?"
"Shit, lady, doesn't humanity owe something to ME? Okay, I'll admit it, if you insist, weird things happen to me. Sure. But it's not Reliable. Dam it, lady, would you like to be married to a guy who always thought he Knew whether it had been good for you or not --- and was right only Half the time? I have two ex-wives you can call before you answer. The first was an innocent kid that got driven up a wall and over the edge by this stuff, but the other was a believer, just like you, and I screwed it up with her, too. So you tell our friends at Mensa that I'm not paying dues any more. I'm freelancing now, thank you, and whatever you think you're selling I've tried buying and I'm twice shy."
"We could change the world, Dan."
"Shit, I can't even change my socks any more. This is America, lady, and people don't buy half-assed talents. I've tried your route, and I went broke. Now, will you please, Please just shut the hell up and let me do my God damned job? Okay, all you far-flung insomniacs, you got two cuts for the price of one that time. Don't that Lady Day sing purty, though? We're finally winding down toward the last stretch of lonesome Dan's Cozy Corner here, and yet not one of you perspicacious pals have guessed what the 'P' stands for tonight. So what I'm gonna do, gang, is I'm going to take that lavish victor's prize and strip the paper off, and I'm going to eat BOTH pieces, almonds and all, while I tell you that the 'P' in Daniel P. McCaffrey tonight stood for the fabled borough of Peoria, Illinois, one of the cleverest hoaxes ever foisted on an unsuspecting public. Y'see, corn-huskers, way back in the old days a bunch of waggish vaudevillians began telling each other tall tales of a mythical town in the mid-west where audiences were So Tough they'd even eat Schenck's Mules for breakfast. Well, the stories grew and the legend grew, and before long people who had never even heard of vaudeville got to believing there really Was such a place as Peoria, about the way people believe the fable of the Indian Rope Trick. Some of us know the real truth --- that there Is no Peoria --- but even some who know it's just a fraud talk about it as though it were really there, and snicker and nudge each other in the ribs when they catch some sucker unaware.
"Now, I know what you're about to say, so don't you lift that ol' dialin' pinkie, 'cause I'll say it for you. You're going to say you have a friend, a good, reliable drinking buddy, who has told you he has driven Through Peoria. But do not believe these smiling charlatans, friends, for I say to you that whenever you meet someone who says he has been to Peoria, you can rest assured that you have met one of the arch-perpetrators of this nefarious hoax. And if, I say IF, as some of these sincere-faced trixters have promised, they ever waylay old lonesome Dan some moonless night and drive me down the main drag of some actual Peoria, I am certain that in that very instant both myself and the city of Peoria would Vanish from the face of the earth forever! Remember, you heard it here first! Still, hope springs eternal, as the Pope once said, and maybe, just maybe, there'll be Peoria in the sky by and by. Yes sir!
"Well, enough of this flim-flam and folderol, campers. In just a couple minutes I will turn this microphone over to Doctor Phil Peterson for the Early Earlobe News and Wake-up Music Festival. I've just seen Doctor Phil dash into the studio carrying reams of teletype-paper from our world-wide network of WKLH newsmen. There's just about time for old lonesome Dan to play that everpopular theme music, RIPPLE by the Grateful Dead. See you tomorrow, all you crazy, beautiful insomniacs. Here, sing it along with me: 'Va-DADutDAH.. ' Morning, Philsie. You got a reefer on you, perhaps?"
"Sorry Dan old man. Haven't you heard there's a drought on in this state?"
"Just as well. I guess I'll just get some breakfast and go to bed. You know, some day the guys at the Des Moines REGISTER are going to be awake at this hour and sue this whole ratty little station for plagiarism."
"Hell, I always read their sentences in different order, don't I? Hello and a good, good morning to all you milkin'hands. In the news this morning, Reagan says he sees light at the end of the tunnel, the police have solved a murder, and the Cards have dealt themselves into the big one. Details, as well as complete price reports and weather and a little wake-up music, after this message from Kooky Karl, the used car czar.
How'd it go tonight, Dan?"
"Oh, about the same as usual, I guess. Couple of kooks called in that would make Kooky Karl seem sane. Thank God for the tape-delay! Other than that, about average, I'd say. A day like all days, one that alters and illuminates our lives. But Jesus God doesn't it get boring after a while. What a shitty way to make a buck!"
"Oh, I don't know. You and me been in this business a lot of years now. There must be Something to it. Where but in America can a broken down bum like us get paid good money just to sit in a room and open up his head and spill out whatever stupid thing pops into his warped little mind? Hunh? That's Kooky Karl for you, Early Earlobes. And here, just to get that old adrenalin pumping, is the Spike Jones rendition of THE STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER. Thanks for leavin' me some coffee. Drive careful, ol' buddy. I'll maybe have half an ounce of Jamaican for you tomorrow morning, unless the plane's late."
"I'll need it, friend, after I do the whole damned thing over one more time! See you, same time, same fucking station. 'If I knew the way, I would take you home.' VaDADutDAH... "
If my words did glow with the the gold of sunshine,
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,
Would you hear my voice come through he music?
Would you hold it dear, as it were your own?
Ripple in still waters
Where there is no pebble tossed nor wind to blow.
You choose: to lead must follow
But if you fall, you fall alone.
If you should start, then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way, I would take you home.
There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night.
If you go, no one may follow:
That path is for your steps alone.
It's a hand-me-down; the thoughts are broken,
Perhaps they're better left unsung.
I don't know, don't really care;
Let there be tunes to fill the air.
If I knew the way
I would take you home
by The Grateful Dead
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