Belittling Ben

Damon Runyon

DEAR SIR last night when I got home I ses to my wife Ethel hay Ethel do you know who I saw in Grogans this afternoon? I ses I saw your Uncle Ben and he was sitting at a table eating sandwiches with the biggest blonde dame I ever saw in my life and he had his head all tied up like he had been in an accident. Ethel ses well he was in a kind of a one Joe. He had a narrow escape.

I ses I never heard of it beautiful and Ethel ses no I didn’t tell you Joe because whenever I tell you about something that has happened to my Uncle Ben you always ses it served him right. I ses well generally it does Ethel but what happened this time and who is the big blonde? I ses do you know about her? Ethel ses O yes. Her name is Maude and she lives in the Bronx. My Uncle Ben was over here and told me about her when he got out of the hospital the other day. I think he is falling in love with her Joe.

I ses well why doesn’t he pick somebody near his own size to fall in love with Ethel? I ses that dame would make two of your Uncle Ben. I ses she looks big enough to lick Joe Louis and Ethel ses why Joe my Uncle Ben ses she would make mince-meat of Joe Louis. He ses she could knock out Joe Louis with one hand and shake Billy Conn to death with the other and do both at the same time. He ses she is very strong Joe and I think that is why he likes her. She is the one he had the accident with.

I ses well tell me about it Ethel though I suppose all I will get is your Uncle Ben’s side and Ethel ses he met her because he thought she was a spy Joe. You know my Uncle Ben is very patriotic and is always on the lookout for spies to turn them in to Mister Hoover and one day he saw Maude in Sands Street near the Navy Yard with a box under her arm only of course he did not know her name was Maude at the time. He suspected that she had a camera in the box and was taking pictures around the Navy Yard for the enemy. That is the way spies always do Joe. So he started to follow her.

I ses hah I see the finish to this Ethel. I ses he followed her until her husband came along and gave your Uncle Ben his lumps. I ses well I have got to say again it served him right. Ethel ses that’s not the way it was at all Joe. She is not married so she hasn’t got a husband. My Uncle Ben followed her from Sands Street clear to the Bronx on the subway and then to the place where she lives and he was taking down the address to send it to Mister Hoover when she turned around and walked up to him and ses what do you mean by following me you dirty masher? Then she hit him Joe.

I ses humph I guess your Uncle Ben is right about her licking Joe Louis if she could do all that damage with a punch and Ethel ses she did not hit him with a punch Joe. She hit him with the box she was carrying under her arm and it was not a camera in the box. It was a patent electric flat iron she was selling Joe and the doctor told my Uncle Ben he could have got a concussion of the brain from it. That was when my Uncle Ben was in the hospital and Maude was there beside his bed crying like her heart would break over him. She was very sorry Joe and she was not a spy and now my Uncle Ben thinks they may get married.

I ses why that’s fine Ethel if she can sell enough of those irons to make a living for your Uncle Ben and Ethel ses there you go belittling my Uncle Ben again. He is not going to let her sell those irons any more if they get married. He ses they are dangerous things to have in the house. They are going to live in this neighborhood and my Uncle Ben ses he will bet all those fellows around here who are always picking on him will be sorry when he sets Maude to work on them.

I ses Ethel your Uncle Ben has a romantic streak in him hasn’t he? Ethel ses why yes I guess he has Joe unless you are trying to be sarcastic. But I think this time it is really love because he borrowed five dollars from me to pay Maude for the iron. It got broke when she hit him with it. I ses yes Ethel when your Uncle Ben starts paying for things it must be love.

Yours truly