::Monterey Jack and Zipper enter on stage and take up positions behind the podium::


Monty: Greetings once again, mates! This time we have th’award for Best Verse. Ya know, in me younger days, I was somewhat of the poet meself. In fact, I found some of me old poems that I had forgotten about in an old coat just the other day. If there are no objections, I’ll share a couple with ya.


Zipper: Monty, you shouldn’t take the spotlight…


Monty: Oh come now, Zippah! What would be the harm? Just a few lines, eh?


::Zipper folds his arms and stares down Monterey::


Monty: Crikey, Zippah! Have it your way. The nominees for this year’s Best Verse award are:


How Fat Cat Saved Christmas KSharbaugh

The Night before Christmas Café Style BOC42

Anti-Poem #2 Basil Carver

Phantasmogoria Gadgetica Ray Jones

Gadget’s Poem Tamira

RR Volume 1 DVD Haikus Mr. Spumoni


Monty: And the winnah is….a bloomin' tie! Ray Jones and Tamira, come on up, mates!


::In the audience, Tamira can't believe it. Best verse???::


Tamira:  I knew I  was nominated, but I would not have thought I actually would win!


::For one second she is not sure she will be able to stand up and go to that podium to receive her prize in front of all the others... It is not a bad thing, of course, but it is so STRANGE... And does she even deserve it?::


::The mouse who sits left of her nudges her gently and smiles::


Squeak: Go on, get your prize, Sweetie. Of course you deserve it or they wouldn't have voted for you!


::Of course Squeak had known what she thought! She smiles thankfully at him and stands up. Going up in front of all those people is a strange feeling and she has to remind herself that most of them are not strangers, but her friends. Still, the way seems to be longer than it actually is and when she finally stands on that platform, looking into the faces of the audience, she does not know what to say::


Tamira: Uh…

::Well, the best way will be just to say SOMETHING, she decides, she can not stand on that stage, acting like a hedgehog in front of headlights!::


Tamira: Uhm hi! I am surprised now, you know, people? And...well, I haven't written a speech for that award or anything...and so I have to improvise...I am somehow nervous... I have heard if one is nervous, one should imagine the audience one is in front of in undies... But... I think that would make me even MORE nervous!!!


::The audience laughs::


Tamira: So...well, what I actually wanted to say is: Thanks, that you think my poem is worth that award and I am surprised I won it, but I am very, VERY happy it is so!!! Yes, that it was... Thanks!


::The people start to clap and, blushing and smiling, Tamira hurries back to her seat::


Squeak: Well, that was not THAT hard, or was it?


::That makes her laugh and she gives him a little kiss on his nose, before listening to the announcer to hear who won the next award. Then Monty appears in front of her::


Monty: Here, you might want this, lass.


::He hands her the award she won::


Tamira: Oh, sorry. Thank you!


::As Monty returns to the stage, Ray Jones strides nervously onto it as well. Instead of his traditional scruffy old black suit, he wears his regular slacks and shirt. Gadget sits in his pocket. In lieu of her usual lavender jumpsuit, she's wearing shorts and a t-shirt. All very informal::

Ray: Sorry folks - almost missed the festivities for running late! Started back to school to work on my master's and, [i]man[/i] are we having to hustle. Hmm? What was that Gadget? Oh! - right - they can't hear you from there!

::Ray raises his hand to his pocket. Gadget drapes her arms over the top edge of his index finger and he gently slips her out to set her on the podium in front of the microphone::

Gadget: Thanks - yes - I was just saying how much I enjoy auditing his classes with him. Being a mouse, I can just hunker down when Ray's walking around and nobody sees me. In class, I can sit up in his pocket or on the desk in front of him. If somebody does notice, he can just look at them strangely and ask 'what mouse?' - that usually gets them to leave. Especially when I wave at them. But I love going to school! There's so much new stuff now - all that genetics and physiology. It's a bit distracting from my inventing, I admit, but so fascinating! For example, did you know....

Ray: Gadget?

Gadget: …that MIT has a new program where...

Ray: Gadget?

Gadget: ...they're putting the lecture text of all their classes on line for free access!?

Ray: Gadget!?

Gadget: Just do a search on MIT and you can...mmmmmph!

::With great gentleness, Ray carefully holds Gadget's tiny muzzle shut::

Ray: Gadget? Golden Acorn awards? Poem? Time limits?

::He releases her muzzle::

Gadget: Right, right. The poem. 'Phantasmogoria Gadgetica'."

Ray: Yes. I was surprised and pleased that people liked it. It was, to be honest, rather weird.

Gadget: I thought it was sweet. It was romantic. I do have feelings like that, even if they don't often show.

Ray: And I was worried that you might think it was some sort of fanboy craziness. I'm glad you could see how I meant it to come out. I assume you get a LOT of attention, not all of it welcome.

::Gadget looks down for a moment::


Ray: It's true that there's a lot of mean stuff out there. But that's not what matters.


::Gadget looks up at the audience::


Gadget: There's lots of nice stuff too - real feelings, and honest goodwill. That's the important thing, and that's what's left at the end of the day. If you read this poem and felt even a little bit happily-sad or romantic or thoughtful then I'm happy to have been in it. This life stuff can get awfully complicated sometimes, can't it?

Ray: That's true. We all get lonely sometimes, and art and literature can help - well - if not to make the loneliness go away, at least help to get a handle on it. Add something to it so that it becomes more than just discomfort.

Gadget: When you can't have the reality...


::Gadget seems to look somewhere, far away::


Gadget: ...at least you can have the dream...


::With that, the crowd applauds and Monty shakes Ray's hand::


Monty: Congrats to ya. And I’ll be back shortly, folks.


::Monty and Zipper head offstage, but as they go Monty adds under his breath, "And I’ll read some of me poems…"::


Zipper: What was that?


Monty (quickly): Oh, nothing!