Sterling Curlew

Damon Runyon

Sterling Curlew was a traveling man.

He was a nice fellow.

He was on the road for a baking company.

He sold crackers, and similar products.

Sterling Curlew had a wife, whose name was Aileen. She had red hair, and was young, and very lively.

They lived in a little house at the far end of Commercial Street.

When Sterling Curlew returned home from a trip, he would knock at the front door of his house.

Then he would run around to the back door of the house with a big club, and nail anybody that came out that way.

Sometimes Sterling Curlew had no luck. That would be when Aileen didn’t happen to be home.

Sterling Curlew loved Aileen dearly.

One night he nailed Ardmore Klung with his big club and broke Ardmore Klung’s collarbone for him. This caused gossip in Our Town, because Ardmore Klung was president of the Klung Laundry Company, and very prominent.

Some said Sterling Curlew had gone too far with his club.

They said he ought to first see who he was hitting.

Others said Sterling Curlew was quite within his rights. They said he was entitled to hit anything that came out of his back door.

Ardmore Klung went to St. Mary’s Hospital, and Sterling Curlew filed suit against him in the district court for $20,000 damages for the alienation of Aileen’s affections.

Aileen went home to her mother, Mrs. Wilbur H. Stogan, who was no bargain, either.

Everybody in Our Town took sides about the suit, especially the women. They said Sterling Curlew was entitled to justice because of this snake, Ardmore Klung, sneaking into his little home during his absence, and stealing his wife’s affections.

But before the case came to trial, Sterling Curlew’s wife, Aileen, skipped out with a dentist by the name of Dr. Ichabod Joller, who was boarding at her mother’s, and nobody ever heard from her again.

Sterling Curlew was naturally greatly depressed, as his suit had to be dismissed, and he had to pay the costs.

Then Ardmore Klung got out of the hospital and sued Sterling Curlew for $5,000 damages for breaking his collarbone, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Ardmore Klung for the whole amount.

Sterling Curlew was five years in paying off the judgment, and he became quite a woman hater.