::Winston waits until things have calmed down again. Sensing the eagerness of the crowd, he decides to skip his 30-minute intro and go straight to the heart of the matter::


Winston: And, in the final poetry award of the night, the category of Best Verse, the nominees are:


“A Very Bad Poem to a Very Good Mouse”, by Ray Jones.


“Can it Be Just a Year?”, by Indy.


Kubla Kat”, by Galabad.


“No More Tears”, by Indy.


“The Lady Hackwrench”, by Candy Courtnier.


“To Gadget Hackwrench”, by Indy.


“To Look Upon You”, by Indy.


Winston pulls out his final envelope, tears the seal slowly, and pulls it open::


Winston: And the winner is…correction, the winners are Galabad for Kubla Kat and Ray Jones for A Very Bad Poem to a Very Good Mouse! Unfortunately, we couldn’t contact Galabad, but we’ll be sending his trophy along to him as soon as we do. Ray Jones, it’s all yours!


Dr. Batorious (announcing): And now, to accept the award of “Best Poem” for Ray Jones, we have none other than the star of the poem herself, Gadget Hackwrench.


::The wire leading up to the microphone on the podium shakes and we see Gadget climb onto the top. She looks around::


 Gadget: Golly! Look at all the people!


::Everyone smiles and waves, while Gadget decides just what to say::


Gadget: Um, I’m Gadget Hackwrench and I appear in Ray’s poem. Actually, since most of the poem is a dream sequence, I only appear according to some theories of dream interpretation. Other theories hold that dreams are entirely solipsistic and that all the characters are different elements of the dreamer’s own psychic structure. But that seems unlikely. After all, we interact with other people constantly so I’d think we would dream of them. Not that parts of their minds enter into ours, but their symbolic representations would be models of them and not just our own reactions to them.


::Chip stares from his seat in an “oh no” look, and Dale’s eyes start to get heavy::


Gadget: Personally, I prefer more neurophysiological models, such as that dreams are the result of “strobing” the cerebral cortex by impulses supplied through afferents from the reticular nuclei in the brain stem, and acting as part of the long-term memory fixation process. Of course, the impulses are probably not entirely random, which seems inefficient. More likely, they are driven by some chaotic generator mechanism. And the response of the cerebral cortex…


 Indy, (offstage):  Psst! Gadget!


::Gadget is off in explanation mode, too merry to be bothered by the fedora-clad human. Half the audience is asleep by this point, and it isn’t looking good for the rest of them::


Gadget: …wouldn’t be expected to be entirely random either because of discharge latencies set up by immediately preceding…


Indy: GAD-GET!


Gadget: …experiences during the previous day. Indy? Did you say something?


::Indy points at his watch::


Indy: Brief!  Brief!


::Gadget gets a look on her face that’s a combination of miffed and embarrassed::


Gadget:  Briefs? Golly, I don’t wear briefs! I thought everybody knew.


::Indy shakes his head and makes motions bringing his index finger and thumb together::


Indy: Short! Short!


Gadget: That’s what I was saying. I wear pink.


::The small section of the audience that is awake is laughing now, and starting to reawaken the others. Indy makes frantic sawing motions across his throat with his index finger. Finally, the message does seem to get through::


Gadget: Oh! Okay. Well, I guess I should mention a couple of things about the poem, then. For one, was it a real dream?  No, just an experience Ray wishes he could have had. And was there anything to it besides a succession of interesting and pleasant images?  I think so.


::Gadget smiles, reminiscing::


Gadget: In the poem, he let me take some parts he had found so I could build a vehicle. To show my appreciation, I scampered up his arm and onto his shoulder to touch his cheek. My touch ‘broke his heart’.


::There is a collective “awww” from the crowd, mainly the guys::


Gadget: I believe what he was trying to say by that was that as we live our lives we can sometimes get so caught up in our everyday routine that we lose sight of wonder and beauty and imagination - forget the things that make all our hard work worth doing.


::Dale pulls out a handkerchief::

Dale: It’s so true! I’ll never take any of you for granted again, Chip!


::Dale hangs on Chip’s shoulder, bawling. Chip ducks his head, embarrassed, and pats his friend on the back. Gadget continues on, oblivious::


Gadget But no matter how old or how ‘dry’ we get, if we will just let ourselves be open to the experience, we can still find renewal and regain inspiration. If we just accept it, we can be given back our lives as a gift. And that wonderful gift can come to us in the humblest and most unlikely forms.


::Gadget pauses for dramatic effect::


Gadget: Even just a little mouse. I guess that’s all there is to say about it. Thanks!


::The audience is teary-eyed as Gadget turns and scampers back down the microphone cord and out of sight. A moment later, they break into spontaneous applause::