Two Tales of Louie the Stork

Damon Runyon


class="noindent">Now, children, one day Louie the stork who distributed the little babies, was as tired as all git-out from overwork and dropped into a bar in New York City for a slight stimulant.

“Give me brandy,” he ordered, like Mark Hellinger.

He drank it.

“Give me another brandy,” he ordered, like Mark Hellinger.

Then he ordered a few more brandies like Mark Hellinger and of a sudden his head commenced feeling very funny because he was plumb tuckered like I tell you and a bird in that state is easily bejummuxed by liquor. To tell you the truth, children, Louie the stork was loaded. He was as stiff as a plank. He was cock-eyed.

But Louie still had a lot of undelivered bundles of infantile swag and even though his noodle was whirling and legs were as limber as twigs, he continued his appointed rounds. He went toddling here and there, dropping his packages. In view of his condition, it is not surprising that somewhere along the line confusion entered into Louie’s normally orderly scheme of things.

He got the little new babies all mixed up. He left a set of quadruplets at the home of Miss Ethleda Spurze, an old established spinster lady who was a strong supporter of birth control since 1904 and she was so infuriated that she got herself a kettle of boiling water and poured it over the first guy who rapped at her portals.

It happened to be J. K. Bulge, a deacon in her church, and the incident of the quadruplets at her house and her scalding of Deacon Bulge really caused talk in her set. However, Louie the stork’s error in this instance was no greater than his leaving with the young and very English Brents a baby that spoke only the Russian language, giving rise to elevated brows on all sides, including the baby’s.

Then there was the Eskimo baby that Louie left at the bachelor apartment of Mr. Caesar C. Caesar-Caesar, unfortunately reaching there just as Mr. C. C. C-C.’s beautiful fiancée was also arriving to keep a dinner engagement with him. She signed for the baby and had it hid behind her when Mr. C. C. C-C. in person opened the door, all the butlers having been drafted.

“Caesar,” she cooed, “where was it you told me you were when you were away last winter with the Coast Guard?”

“Why,” said Mr. C. C. C-C, “I was up in the Arctic. Cold as hell, too.”

With that she knocked him unconscious and some say she did it with the baby, but that I do not believe. But there is no doubt that Louie the stork’s skuller caused a little disorder.

He had one baby left over and was staggering through East 53rd Street with it when he was overcome by his libations and whatnot. He swooned away completely. At that moment, a gentleman with a very kind face came along and took charge of Louie, dashing cold seltzer water in his face and giving him nourishment in the form of club sandwiches and chicken à la king.

The gentleman said his name was Billingsley. When Louie revived and related what he could remember of his story the gentleman’s heart was touched. He said he would see to it that no such calamities ever befell Louie again. He set up permanent quarters for Louie the stork right where he found him and put Winchell in charge of the bookkeeping so that Louie would have his assignments laid out for him in advance. There has never been a mix-up since.

So, my eager little listeners, that is how the Stork Club came to be established, and if you go there this very night you may find Louie the stork standing at the bar ordering brandy only not like Mark Hellinger, but well diluted, and who do you think is behind the bar dealing out the stuff? Let the tiny chappy over there in the corner with his hand raised answer.

Correct, Phocon. Absolutely correct. The one doing the dealing is the last little baby that Louie the stork had that night I have been telling you about. The child was raised to young manhood, by Mr. Billingsley, and there he is. We all sometimes wonder to what address he was originally billed, but do not bother to make too much of an investigation because good bartenders are hard to get, while Louie the stork can bring you a baby any time.


class="noindent">I found Louie the stork bellied up to the bar in his headquarters, the Stork Club, the other night and was pained to note he had a black eye.

A waiter was holding a hunk of raw filet mignon to the damaged orb and I thought this a terrible extravagance considering the scarcity of meat and the price. I asked the waiter if he could not have used a loin cut just as well.

“Mr. Louie likes filet,” he replied.

“Yes,” Louie the stork said. “It has more class.”

“Louie,” I said, “that is a pip of a shiner. Where did you acquire it, if it is any of my business?”

“Well,” Louie said, “it is your business to the extent that you can inform your young readers as to how I got it before they hear some rumor that it came of dirty work at the crossroads. There are always people ready to knock me and in this instance I want the children to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

He took the filet mignon from the waiter and motioned me to a table in a corner and as we sat down he drew a slip of paper from his inside coat pocket under his left wing and showed it to me. On this slip of paper was written “Mr. and Mrs. V. Dey Stylish, Central Park West, 8-lb. boy.”

“Is that plain to you?” asked Louie the stork.

“Sure,” I said.

“Well,” Louie said, “that is exactly the way the order was handed to me at 5 o’clock this morning. It is the original slip. I have not changed it one iota. I get a zillion a year just like that. Naturally, I assumed that it came through the office of our head checker, Mr. Winchell, and was 100 per cent okay. So I reached up on the 8-pound counter and pulled down as nice a little boy as you would want to see and hastened to the Central Park West address.

“It is a large apartment house and they told me at the telephone desk that Mr. and Mrs. Stylish lived on the eighteenth floor. The elevator took me up with my precious bundle and I punched the bell of apartment 2-B, the summons brings to the door a large red-haired fellow of maybe thirty-odd who was batting his eyes sleepily and whose regular features seemed drawn into a tight scowl.

“‘Good-morrow and greetings’, I said (continued Louie the stork), ‘you are Mr. Stylish?’

“‘Who else would I be at this hour?’ he demanded.

“‘Am I a soothsayer?’ I asked. ‘I have your boy here.’

“‘What boy?’ he said.

“‘Why, the one you ordered’, I said, uncovering my bundle and disclosing the baby to his eyes.

“‘Mildred’, he yelled back into the apartment, ‘did you order a baby?’

“A female voice, faint and far away, said no.

“‘Get out of here and take that thing with you’, the red-haired fellow said. ‘You have got plenty of gall trying to palm off your excess babies on us.’

“With that he doubled up his fist and hauled off and biffed me in the eye, with the result as you see. I kicked him on the shin and he leaped at me with such fury that I turned and ran down the eighteen stories with him in hot pursuit. All this time I had the baby under my wing. It never peeped.

“Well,” said Louie the stork, “I finally managed to outrun Mr. Stylish and got here and put the baby back in stock and five minutes later I got a phone call from a lady who said she was Mrs. Stylish and wanted to apologize for her husband’s conduct. She said the baby had been ordered for next February and she had forgotten to tell him and to please bring the same one back then.

“I do not believe her,” said Louie the stork. “I have implicit faith in Mr. Winchell’s office. Anyway, I am not ever going to take that baby back to her. I am going to take her a girl just for spite. Where is my filet? My eye pains me.”

I then realized that I had absently put the filet between two slabs of bread and had consumed same while listening to Louie the stork’s tale.