A. Mugg Asks What About Russia?

Damon Runyon

What I am trying to figure out for nearly a year is what all this business is about over in Russia, but so far I am not able to dig up anybody who knows a cussed, thing about it.

The way I look at it, it must be pretty important, because every morning I see big heads in the newspapers, and many columns of reading matter, so there is no secret about the proposition, but somehow it is not clear to me.

I get to thinking that maybe this is because I am just naturally dumb, so I start looking around for somebody to explain matters to me. The paper the other morning says the Soviets capture the fortresses of Krasnoya Gorko and Systerbak, and another morning that Zipsky Muluk was in flames, and I can think of nobody better able to explain things to a dumb guy than an editor. So I call up the editor of the paper, and I say to him like this:

Says I: “You say in your paper this morning that the Soviets are going to occupy Krasnoya Gorko and Systerbak.”

Says he: “Who is this?”

Says I: “This is a subscriber to your paper.”

Says he: “Well, if we make such a statement as you refer to it must be on good authority, as our reporters are very reliable. However, if it is not so, I will look up the guy who turns in the story and fire him. Do you wish to deny this matter?”

Says I: “No, but I wish to find out just where these places are in Russia.”

Says he: “Oh, they are somewhere in Russia, but I do not know just where. But they are in Russia, all right, or we will not put it in the paper. This is a very reliable paper.”

Well, then I run into a friend of mine by the name of Orlando Weedon, who knows a great many things, and I say to Orlando like this:

Says I: “Orlando, what do you know about Russia?”

Says he: “I know everything about it. What is it you wish to know?”

Says I: “What is all the trouble about over there? Who runs the country, anyway?”

Says he: “The guy who runs Russia is called a czar. The trouble is about Siberia. There is always trouble about Siberia.”

Says I: “But the last I hear the czar is knocked off by somebody or other, and a guy by the name of Trotsky and another guy by the name of Lenin, are running the joint. What about them?”

Says he: “Why, if you know so much about it, what are you asking me for? When I am in school a czar is the guy who runs Russia, and, while I believe I do remember hearing of some changes, I cannot keep track of things in such places.”

Well, this does not look as if I am getting anywhere, so I look up a friend of mine by the name of Whitey Perry, who is a great hand for reading the papers and I say to Whitey like this:

Says I: “Whitey, tell me something about Russia.”

Says he: “Well, I will tell you. It is a great country in many respects, but very cold in some places. The native drink is vodka, and the record on vodka is two drinks and a reach. There are several companies of native Russian singers in America at this time, but nobody understands what they are singing. The best Russian dancer I ever see in my life is a doll whose name I do not remember.”

Says I: “This is all very well, but what is all the shooting about over there now?”

Says he: “Why, there is some trouble between one side and another side and they are around trying to kill each other. I am reading about it in the papers. The Soviets are fighting somebody, and giving them a pretty good pasting at that. They are shelling Petrograd, and running everybody ragged.”

Says I: “All right, but who are the Soviets?”

Says he: “The Soviets are Russians. They wear leather boots, and whiskers, and are very interesting.”

Says I: “Well, I do not seem to be able to get it through my head what it is all about, and I must be pretty dumb. Nobody seems to be able to explain it to me so I can understand it.”

Says he: “Well, you are no worse off than anybody else I know. Nobody else understands it either.”