Old Em’s Kentucky Home

Damon Runyon

June 7 1939

All this really begins the April day at the Jamaica race track when an assistant starter by the name of Plumbuff puts a twitch on Itchky Ironhat’s fourteen-year-old race mare, Emaleen, who is known to one and all as Em for short.

A twitch is nothing but a rope loop that they wrap around a horse’s upper lip and keep twisting with a stick to make the horse stand quiet at the starting gate and while I never have a twitch on my own lip and hope and trust that I never have same, I do not see anything wrong with putting twitches on horses’ lips, especially the ones I am betting against as it generally keeps them so busy thinking of how it hurts that they sometimes forget about running.

However, it seems that Itchky Ironhat not only considers a twitch very painful to horses, but he also considers it undignified for such a horse as old Em, because while everybody else regards Em as strictly a porcupine, Itchky thinks she is the best horse in the world and loves her so dearly he cannot bear to see her in pain or made to look undignified. To tell the truth, it is common gossip that Itchky loves old Em more than he loves anything else whatever, including his ever-loving wife, Mousie.

In fact when Mousie tells him one day that the time comes for a showdown and that it is either her or old Em and Itchky says well, he guesses it is old Em, and Mousie packs up on him at once and returns to her trade as an artists’ model many citizens who remember Mousie’s shape think Itchky makes a bad deal, although some claim that the real reason Itchky decides in favor of Em against Mousie is not so much love as it is that Em never wishes for any large thick sirloin steaks such as Mousie adores.

Anyway, it seems that Itchky always goes to the trouble of personally requesting the assistant starters not to place twitches on Em’s lip, even though he knows very well that she is by no means a bargain at the post and that she greatly enjoys nibbling assistant starters’ ears off and when Plumbuff ignores his request it vexes Itchky no little.

The night after the race he calls on Plumbuff at his home in Jackson Heights and chides him quite some and he also gives him such a going-over that Plumbuff is compelled to take to his bed slightly indisposed for several weeks.

When the racing officials learn of the incident they call Itchky before them and address him in very severe terms. They ask him if he thinks old Em is Mrs. Man o’ War, or what, that he expects great courtesy for her from assistant starters and they say they have half a mind to rule Itchky off the turf for life and old Em along with him. But Itchky states that he only acts in self-defense and that he can produce twenty witnesses who will testify that Plumbuff pulls a blunt instrument on him first.

The chances are Itchky can produce these witnesses, at that, as all he will have to do is go down to Mindy’s restaurant on Broadway and summon the first twenty horse players he sees. Horse players hate and despise assistant starters because they feel that the assistants are always giving the horses they bet on the worst of the starts and naturally these horse players will deem it a privilege and a pleasure to perjure themselves in a case of this nature, especially for Itchky Ironhat, who is a popular character.

His right name is something in twelve letters, but he is called Itchky Ironhat because he always wears a black derby hat and generally he has it pulled down on his head until the brim is resting on his ears and as Itchky is a short, roly-poly guy with a fat puss he really looks a great deal like a corked jug.

Finally the racing officials say they will not rule Itchky or old Em off this time but that he must remove Em from the New York tracks and run her elsewhere and this is wonderful news to the assistant starters, who are awaiting the decision with interest.

They feel that they are all sure to wind up daffy if they have to always be deciding on whether to cater to old Em at the post or take a going-over from Itchky Ironhat and in fact they say the only thing that keeps them from going daffy on account of old Em long before this is that she does not go to the post often.

She is entered in more races than any horse that ever lives, but just before a race comes up Itchky generally starts figuring that maybe the track will not suit her, or that the race is too long, or maybe too short, or that it is not the right time of day or that old Em will not feel just like running that day, so he usually withdraws her at the last minute.

Sometimes the racing officials are a little tough with owners who wish to scratch horses from a race at the last minute, but they never argue a second with Itchky Ironhat. In fact, they often give three cheers when Em is taken out of a race, not only because she is so cross at the post but because she is so slow that she is always getting in the way of other horses and inconveniencing them more than somewhat.

It is the way Itchky thinks old Em feels that figures with him in taking her out of a race more than anything else, and to hear him talk you will think she comes right out and informs him how she feels every day. Indeed, Itchky converses with old Em as if she is a human being and he claims she can understand everything he says, though personally I do not believe any horse can understand a slightly Yiddish dialect such as Itchky employs.

She is a big bay mare with a sway-back and of course she is quite elderly for a horse, and especially a race horse, but Itchky says she does not look her years. She is as fat as a goose what with him feeding her candy, apples, cakes and ice cream, besides a little hay and grain, and she is wind-broken and a bleeder and has knobs on her knees the size of baseballs.

She has four bad ankles and in fact the only thing that is not the matter with her is tuberculosis and maybe anemia. It makes some horse owners shudder just to look at her, but in Itchky Ironhat’s eyes old Em is more beautiful than Seabiscuit.

A guy by the name of Crowbar gives her to Itchky at the Woodbine track in Canada when she is just a two-year-old, rising three. This guy Crowbar buys her as a yearling out of a sale at Saratoga for fifty fish but becomes discouraged about her when he notices that she cannot keep up with a lead pony even when the pony is just walking.

On top of this she bows a tendon, so Crowbar is taking her out to shoot her to save the expense of shipping her and he is pretty sore at having to waste a cartridge on her when he meets up with Itchky Ironhat and Itchky asks what is coming off. When Crowbar explains, Itchky takes a closer look at Em and she gazes at him with such a sorrowful expression that Itchky’s heart is touched.

He asks Crowbar to give her to him, although at this time Itchky is just doing the best he can around the tracks and has about as much use for a race horse as he has for a hearse, and naturally Crowbar is pleased to make the saving of a cartridge. So this is how Itchky becomes the owner of old Em and from now on he practically lives with her even after he marries Mousie, which is what starts Mousie to complaining, as it seems she does not care to be excluded from her home life by a horse. t

It is no use trying to tell Itchky that Em is nothing but an old buzzard, because he keeps thinking of her as a stake horse and saying she is bound to win a large stake someday and he spends every dime he can get hold of in entering her in big races and on shipping her and feeding her and on jockey fees.

And all this is very surprising to be sure, as Itchky Ironhat is by no means a sucker when it comes to other horses and he makes a pretty good living hustling around the tracks. What is more, the way he can bring old Em back to the races every time she breaks down, which is about every other time she starts in a race, shows that Itchky is either a natural-born horse trainer or a horse hypnotist.

When he is very desperate for a little moolah, he will place Em in a cheap selling race and it is in spots such as this that she occasionally wins. But then Itchky always worries himself sick for fear somebody will claim her, the idea of a claiming race being that another owner can always claim a horse in such a race by putting up the price for which the horse is entered, which may be anywhere from a few hundred dollars on up, according to the conditions of the race and what the owner thinks his horse is worth.

Naturally, Itchky has to run old Em for as cheap a price as horses are ever run for her to win a race, but even then there is really no sense in him worrying about her being claimed as no owner with any brains wants such a lizard as old Em in his barn, and especially after what happens to a character by the name of One-Thumb Haverstraw.

This One Thumb is considered quite a joker and one day in Maryland he claims old Em out of a race for eight hundred boffoes just for a joke on Itchky, although personally I always figure the joke is on One Thumb when he gets her for this price.

Itchky is really greatly dejected over losing old Em and he goes to see One Thumb right after the race and tries to buy her back for two hundred dollars over the claiming price, but One Thumb is so pleased with his joke that he refuses to sell and then the most surprising things begin to occur to him.

A few nights later a ghost in a white sheet appears at his barn and frightens away all the colored parties who are working for him as stablehands and turns all of One Thumb’s horses out of their stalls except old Em and chases them around the country until they are worn plumb out and are no good for racing for some weeks to come.

What is more, every time One Thumb himself steps into the open at night, a bullet whistles past him and finally one breezes through the seat of his pants and at this he hunts up Itchky Ironhat and returns old Em to him for four hundred less than the claiming price and considers it a great bargain at that, and nobody ever plays any more jokes on Itchky with old Em.

Now the night of the racing officials’ decision, I am sitting in Mindy’s restaurant enjoying some choice pot roast with potato pancakes when in comes Itchky Ironhat looking somewhat depressed and, as he takes a seat at my table, naturally I tell him I deeply regret hearing that he will no longer be permitted to run old Em in New York, and Itchky sighs and says:

“Well,” he says, “it is a great loss to the racing public of this state, but I always wish to do something nice for old Em and this gives me the opportunity of doing it.”

“What will be something nice for her, Itchky?” I say.

“Why,” Itchky says, “I take her many places the past dozen years, but there is one place I never take her and that is her old home. You see, Em comes from the Bluegrass country of Kentucky and I get to thinking that the nicest thing I can do for her is to take her there and let her see the place where she is born.”

“Itchky,” I say, “how is the bank roll?”

“It is thin,” Itchky says. “In fact, if you are thinking of a touch, it is practically invisible.”

“I am not thinking of such a thing,” I say. “What I am thinking of is it will cost a gob to ship old Em to Kentucky.”

“Oh,” Itchky says “I do not intend to ship her. I intend to take her there in person by motor truck and I am wondering if you will not like to go with us for company. Old Em loves company. After we let her see her old home we can drop her in a stake race at Churchill Downs and win a package.”

Then Itchky explains to me that he acquires a truck that very afternoon from a vegetable peddler for the sum of sixty dollars and that he also gets a couple of wide, strong planks which he figures he can let down from the rear end of the truck like a runway so old Em can walk on them getting on and off the truck and that by driving by day and resting by night he can take her to the Bluegrass of Kentucky this way very nicely.

Now it is coming on time for the Kentucky Derby and if there is one thing I wish to see it is this event, and furthermore I never get around the country much and I figure that such a journey will be most educational to me so I tell Itchky he has a customer. But if I see the truck first I will certainly never think of trying to get anywhere in it, not even to the Polo Grounds.

Of course when Itchky tells me the truck costs him only sixty dollars, I am not looking for a fancy truck, but I have no idea it is going to be older than Henry Ford, or anyway Edsel, and not much bigger than a pushcart and with no top whatever, even over the seat.

The body of the truck is not long enough for old Em to stand in it spraddled out, the way horses love to stand, or her hind legs will be hanging out the rear end, so what Itchky does is to push her front legs back and her hind legs forward, so that all four feet are close together under her like she is standing on a dime.

Personally, I consider this an uncomfortable position all the way around for a horse but when Itchky and I get on the seat and Em finds she can rest her head on Itchky’s shoulder, she seems quite happy, especially as Itchky talks to her most of the time.

It is no time after we start that we find old Em makes the truck top-heavy and in fact she almost falls overboard every time we take a curve and Itchky has to choke down to about two miles per hour until all of a sudden Em learns how to lean her weight to one side of the truck or the other on the curves and then Itchky can hit it up to the full speed of the truck, which is about ten miles per hour. I will say one thing for old Em, I never see a brighter horse in my life.

The first time we stop to take her off for the night, we find that the plank runway is all right for loading her because she can run up the boards like a squirrel but they have too much of a pitch for her to walk down them, so finally we drop the tail gate and get hold of the front end of the truck and lift it gently and let her slide down to the ground like she was on a toboggan and I always claim that old Em likes this better than any other part of the trip.

It seems to be a most surprising spectacle to one and all along our route to see a truck going past with a horse leaning this way and that to keep balanced and with forty per cent of her sticking out of one end of the truck and twenty per cent of her sticking out of the other end and we often attract many spectators when we stop. This is whenever we have a blowout, which is every now and then. Sometimes there is much comment among these spectators about old Em and as it is generally comment of an unfavorable nature, I am always having difficulty keeping Itchky from taking pops at spectators.

We sleep at night in the truck with old Em tied to the rear end and we use her spare blankets for covering as Em has more blankets than any other horse in the country and most of them are very fancy blankets, at that. It is not bad sleeping except when it rains and then Itchky takes all the blankets off us and puts them on Em and my overcoat, too, and we have to sit up under the truck and the way Itchky worries about Em catching cold is most distressing.

Sometimes when we are rolling along the road and Em is dozing on Itchky’s shoulder, he talks to me instead of her, and I ask him if he knows just where to find Em’s old home in the Bluegrass country.

“No,” he says. “I do not know just where, but the record book gives the breeder of Em as the Tucky Farms and it must be a well-known breeding establishment to produce such a horse as Em, so we will have no trouble finding it. By the way,” Itchky says, “Em comes of a very high-class family. She is by an important stallion by the name of Christofer out of a mare called Love Always, but,” he says, “the curious thing about it is I am never able to learn of another horse of his breeding in this country, though Christofer is once a good race horse in France.”

Personally, I consider it a great thing for this country that there is only one horse bred like Em but naturally I do not mention such a thought to Itchky Ironhat, not only because I know it will displease him but because I am afraid old Em may overhear me and be greatly offended.

The road signs state that we are a few miles out of the city of Lexington, Ky., and we know we are now down in the Bluegrass country, when we come upon a tall old guy leaning against a fence in front of a cute little white house. This old guy looks as if he may be a native of these parts as he is wearing a wide-brimmed soft hat and is chewing on a straw, so Itchky stops the truck and puts on a Southern accent and speaks to him as follows:

“Suh,” Itchky says, “can you all direct me to a place called the Tucky Farms, suh?”

The tall old guy gazes at Itchky and then he gazes at me and finally he gazes at old Em and he never stops chewing on the straw and after a while he smiles and points and says:

“It is about three miles up that road,” he says. “It is a big red brick house with some burned-down barns in the background, but friend,” he says, “let me give you a piece of good advice. I do not know what your business is, but keep away from that place with anything that looks like a horse. Although,” he says, “I am not sure that the object you have on your truck answers such a description.”

Of course Itchky can see from this crack that the old guy is making fun of Em and he starts to sizzle all over and forgets his Southern accent at once and says:

“You do not like my horse?”

“Oh, it is a horse, then?” the old guy says. “Well, the party who owns Tucky Farms is a trifle eccentric about horses. In fact, he is eccentric about everything, but horses most of all. He does not permit them on his premises. It is a sad case. You may meet a disagreeable reception if you go there with your so-called horse.”

Then he turns and walks into the cute little white house and I have all I can do to keep Itchky from going after him and reprimanding him for speaking so disrespectfully of old Em, especially as the old guy keeps looking around at us and we can see that he is smiling more than somewhat.

Itchky drives on up the road a little ways and, just as the old guv says, we come upon a big red brick house and there is no doubt that this is the Tucky Farms because there is a faded sign over an arched gateway that so states. The house is all shuttered up and is on a small hill pretty well back from the road and not far from the house are the remainders of some buildings that look as if they burned down a long time ago and are never fixed up again or cleared away.

In fact, the grounds and the house itself all look as if they can stand a little attention and there is not a soul in sight and it is rather a dismal scene in every respect. The gate is closed, so I get down off the truck and open it and Itchky drives the truck in and right up to the front door of the house under a sort of porch with white pillars.

Now the truck makes a terrible racket and this racket seems to stir up a number of colored parties who appear from around in back of the house, along with a large white guy. This large guy is wearing corduroy pants and laced boots and a black mustache and he is also carrying a double-barreled shotgun and he speaks to Itchky in a fierce tone of voice as follows:

“Pigface,” he says, “get out of here. Get out of here before you are hurt. What do you mean by driving in here with a load of dog meat such as this, anyway?”

He points a finger at old Em who has her head up and is snuffling the air and gazing about her with great interest, and right away Itchky climbs down off the seat of the truck and removes his derby and places it on the ground and takes off his coat and starts rolling up his sleeves.

“It is the last straw,” Itchky Ironhat says. “I will first make this big ash can eat that cannon he is lugging and then I will beat his skull in. Nobody can refer to Emaleen as dog meat and live.”

Now the front door of the house opens and out comes a thin character in a soiled white linen suit and at first he seems to be quite an old character as he has long white hair but when he gets closer I can see that he is not so very old at that, but he is very seedy-looking and his eyes have a loose expression. I can also see from the way the large guy and the colored parties step back that this is a character who packs some weight around here. His voice is low and hard as he speaks to Itchky Ironhat and says:

“What is this?” he says. “What name do I just hear you pronounce?”

“Emaleen,” Itchky says. “It is the name of my race mare which you see before you. She is the greatest race mare in the world. The turf records say she is bred right here at this place and I bring her down here to see her old home, and everybody insults her. So this is Southern hospitality?” Itchky says.

The new character steps up to the truck and looks at old Em for quite a spell and all the time he is shaking his head and his lips are moving as if he is talking to himself, and finally he says to the large guy:

“Unload her,” he says. “Unload her and take good care of her, Dobkins. I suppose you will have to send to one of the neighbors for some feed. Gome in, gentlemen,” he says to Itchky and me and he holds the front door of the house open. “My name is Salsbury,” he says. “I am the owner of Tucky Farms and I apologize for my foreman’s behavior but he is only following orders.”

As we go into the house I can see that it is a very large house and I can also see that it must once be a very grand house because of the way it is furnished, but everything seems to be as run-down inside as it does outside and I can see that what this house needs is a good cleaning and straightening out.

In the meantime, Mr. Salsbury keeps asking Itchky Ironhat questions about old Em and when he hears how long Itchky has her and what he thinks of her and all this and that, he starts wiping his eyes with a handkerchief as if the story makes him very sad especially the part about why Itchky brings her to the Bluegrass.

Finally Mr. Salsbury leads us into a large room that seems to be a library and at one end of this room there is a painting taller than I am of a very beautiful Judy in a white dress and this is the only thing in the house that seems to be kept dusted up a little and Mr. Salsbury points at the painting and says:

“My wife, Emaleen, gentlemen. I name the horse you bring here after her long ago, because it is the first foal of her favorite mare and the first foal of a stallion I import from France.”

“By Christofer, out of Love Always,” Itchky Ironhat says.

“Yes,” Mr. Salsbury says. “In those days, Tucky Farms is one of the great breeding and racing establishments of the Bluegrass. In those days, too, my wife is known far and wide for her fondness for horses and her kindness to them. She is the head of the humane society in Kentucky and the Emaleen Salsbury annual award of a thousand dollars for the kindest deed toward a horse brought to the attention of the society each year is famous.

“One night,” Mr. Salsbury continues, “there is a fire in the barns and my wife gets out of bed and before anyone can stop her she rushes into the flames trying to save her beautiful mare, Love Always. They both perish, and,” he says, “with them perishes the greatest happiness ever given a mortal on this earth.”

By this time, Itchky Ironhat and I are feeling very sad, indeed, and in fact all the creases in Itchky’s face are full of tears as Mr. Salsbury goes on to state that the only horses on the place that are saved are a few yearlings running in the pastures. He sends them all with a shipment a neighbor is taking to Saratoga to be disposed of there for whatever they will bring.

“Your mare Emaleen is one of those,” he says. “I forget all about her at the time. Indeed,” he says, “I forget everything but my unhappiness. I feel I never wish to see or hear of a horse again as long as I live and I withdraw myself completely from the world and all my former activities. But,” he says, “your bringing the mare here awakens old fond memories and your story of how you cherish her makes me realize that this is exactly what my wife Emaleen will wish me to do. I see where I sadly neglect my duty to her memory. Why,” he says, “I never even keep up the Emaleen Salsbury award.”

Now he insists that we must remain there a while as his guests and Itchky Ironhat agrees, although I point out that it will be more sensible for us to move on to Louisville and get into action as quickly as possible because we are now practically out of funds. But Itchky takes a look at old Em and he says she is enjoying herself so much running around her old home and devouring grass that it will be a sin and a shame to take her away before it is absolutely necessary.

After a couple of days, I tell Itchky that I think absolutely necessary arrives, but Itchky says Mr. Salsbury now wishes to give a dinner in honor of old Em and he will not think of denying her this pleasure. And for the next week the house is overrun with colored parties, male and female, cleaning up the house and painting and cooking and dusting and I do not know what all else, and furthermore I hear there is a great to-do all through the Bluegrass country when the invitations to the dinner start going around, because this is the first time in over a dozen years that Mr. Salsbury has any truck whatever with his neighbors.

On the night of the dinner, one of the male colored parties tells me that he never before sees such a gathering of the high-toned citizens of the Bluegrass as are assembled in a big dining hall at a horseshoe-shaped table with an orchestra going and with flowers and flags and racing colors all around and about. In fact, the colored party says it is just like the old days at Tucky Farms when Mr. Salsbury’s wife is alive, although he says he does not remember ever seeing such a character sitting alongside Mr. Salsbury at the table as Itchky Ironhat.

To tell the truth, Itchky Ironhat seemed to puzzle all the guests no little and it is plain to be seen that they are wondering who he is and why he is present, though Itchky is sharpened up with a fresh shave and has on a clean shirt and of course he is not wearing his derby hat. Personally, I am rather proud of Itchky’s appearance but I can see that he seems to be overplaying his knife a little, especially against the mashed potatoes.

Mr. Salsbury is dressed in a white dinner jacket and his eyes are quiet and his hair is trimmed and his manner is most genteel in every way and when the guests are seated he gets to his feet and attracts their attention by tapping on a wineglass with a spoon. Then he speaks to them as follows:

“Friends and neighbors,” he says. “I know you are all surprised at being invited here but you may be more surprised when you learn the reason. As most of you are aware, I am as one dead for years. Now I live again. I am going to restore Tucky Farms to all its old turf glory in breeding and racing, and,” he says, “I am going to re-establish the Emaleen Salsbury award, with which you are familiar, and carry on again in every way as I am now certain my late beloved wife will wish.”

Then he tells them the story of old Em and how Itchky Ironhat cares for her and loves her all these years and how he brings her to the Bluegrass just to see her old home, but of course he does not tell them that Itchky also plans to later drop her in a race at Churchill Downs, as it seems Itchky never mentions the matter to him.

Anyway, Mr. Salsbury says that the return of old Em awakens him as if from a bad dream and he can suddenly see how he is not doing right with respect to his wife’s memory and while he is talking a tall old guy who is sitting next to me, and who turns out to be nobody but the guy who directs us to Tucky Farms, says to me like this:

“It is a miracle,” he says. “I am his personal physician and I give him up long ago as a hopeless victim of melancholia. In fact, I am always expecting to hear of him dismissing himself from this world entirely. Well,” the old guy says, “I always say medical science is not everything.”

“My first step toward restoring Tucky Farms,” Mr. Salsbury goes on, “is to purchase the old mare Emaleen from Mr. Itchky Ironhat here for the sum of three thousand dollars, which we agree upon this evening as a fair price. I will retire her of course for the rest of her days which I hope will be many.”

With this he whips out a check and hands it to Itchky and naturally I am somewhat surprised at the sum mentioned because I figure if old Em is worth three G’s War Admiral must be worth a jillion. However, I am also greatly pleased because I can see where Itchky and I will have a nice taw for the races at Churchill Downs without having to bother about old Em winning one.

“Now,” Mr. Salsbury says, “for our guest of honor.”

Then two big doors at one end of the banquet hall open wide and there seems to be a little confusion outside and a snorting and a stamping as if a herd of wild horses is coming in and all of a sudden who appears in the doorway with her mane and tail braided with ribbons and her coat all slicked up but old Em and who is leading her in but the large guy who insults her and also Itchky on our arrival at Tucky Farms.

The guests begin applauding and the orchestra plays My Old Kentucky Home and it is a pleasant scene to be sure, but old Em seems quite unhappy about something as the large guy pulls her into the hollow of the horseshoe-shaped table, and the next thing anybody knows, Itchky Ironhat climbs over the table, knocking glasses and dishes every which way and flattens the large guy with a neat left hook in the presence of the best people of the Bluegrass country.

Naturally, this incident causes some comment and many of the guests are slightly shocked and there is considerable criticism of Itchky Ironhat for his lack of table manners. But then it is agreed by one and all present that Itchky is undoubtedly entitled to the Emaleen Salsbury kindness to horses award when I explain that what irks him is the fact that the large guy leads old Em in with a twitch on her lip.

Well, this is about all there is to the story, except that Itchky and I go over to Louisville the next day and remain there awaiting the Kentucky Derby and we have a wonderful time, to be sure, except that we do not seem to be able to win any bets on the horse races at Churchill Downs.

In fact, the day before the Derby, Itchky remarks that the bank roll is now lower than a turtle’s vest buttons and when I express surprise that we toss off four G’s in such a short period, Itchky says to me like this:

“Oh,” he says, “it is not four G’s. I send the Emaleen Salsbury kindness-to-horses award of one G to Mousie. I figure she is legally entitled to this for leaving me with Em. Otherwise, we will never get even the three and besides,” Itchky says, “I love Mousie. In fact, I invite her to join me here and she agrees to come after I promise I will never as much as think of old Em again.

“By the way,” Itchky says, “I call up Tucky Farms this morning and Mr. Salsbury brings old Em into his study and lets her hear my voice over the phone. Mr. Salsbury says she is greatly pleased. I give her your love, but of coarse not as much of yours as I give her of mine,” he says.

“Thanks, Itchky,” I say, and at this moment I am somewhat surprised to notice a metal ash tray removing Itchky’s derby hat from his head and, gazing about, who do I observe standing in the doorway and now taking dead aim at Itchky with another tray but his ever-loving wife, Mousie.