Ethel Wins a Dollar

Damon Runyon


March 18.

DEAR SIR the other night I had to work late so my wife Ethel went to the movies with a girl friend of hers and when I got home Ethel ses hay Joe what do you think? I won a dollar off a fellow in the movies.

I ses what kind of a fellow? Ethel ses he was an old fellow and he was very friendly. He sat right next to Myrtle and I only he was on my side and he was terribly nice and polite. Joe I had a notion not to take his dollar but I won it on a bet and you always ses yourself a bet is a bet.

I ses sure it is Ethel but how did you win that dollar? Ethel ses well Jimmy Cagney was in the picture and when it came time for him to fight the villain the old fellow next to us ses he was afraid the villain was too big for Jimmy Cagney and that Jimmy Cagney would get licked. So I bet him a dollar Jimmy Cagney would lick the villain and of course he did and that is how I won the dollar.

I ses now wait a minute Ethel. I ses lets you and me set down and be very quiet for awhile and then you tell me everything that happened and dont get excited. I ses do you mean to say you met a fellow who was willing to make you a bet that Jimmy Cagney would get licked in a fight in a picture? Ethel ses why Joe that is just what I got through telling you.

I ses do you think I am going to believe that anybody in their right mind would bet on such a thing unless he had an angle? I ses I guess that friendly old guy was just on the gather for one of you two dames and Ethel ses there you go Joe being suspicious of everybody. He was one of the nicest politest old fellows I ever saw Joe and you can ask Myrtle.

I ses never mind about Myrtle. I ses there is something funny about this story Ethel and she ses I did not know he had never been to the movies before Joe or I would not have bet him. But he did not tell me that until afterwards. I ses now wait a minute again Ethel. I ses are you going to set there and tell me you met a fellow who had never been to the movies before?

Ethel ses thats right Joe and you can ask Myrtle. He ses the reason was he always had an idea that the movies were no good and so he never went to them before. He went tonight because he was lonesome and had no other place to go. I felt awfully sorry for him Joe. Maybe his faithful old wife just died. You can see yourself Joe that he could never have been to the movies before or he would not have bet me that Jimmy Cagney would get licked by the villain.

I ses now Ethel you begin at the start and tell me what happened and she ses well Joe when Jimmy Cagney and the villain started to fight the old fellow turned to me and ses the little fellow will get licked sure. I ses no sir that little fellow is Jimmy Cagney and he will not get licked by any villain because then the picture would not suit anybody. He ses did you see this picture before miss? I ses no sir. He did not know I was married Joe.

I ses keep going Ethel and she ses well then he ses I was something of athlete when I was younger and I consider myself a pretty good judge of athletes now and I can see that other fellow is too big and strong for the little fellow. That is what he ses Joe. You can ask Myrtle.

I ses continue on Ethel and she says why I thought he was just joking Joe so I thought I would joke back and I ses I will bet you a dollar Jimmy Cagney licks that villain and he ses I will accept the bet miss. He still thought I was not married Joe. Of course Jimmy Cagney licked the villain and that is how I won the dollar. He paid when we was going out and that was when he told me it was the first movie he had ever been to. He was the nicest old fellow Joe. You can ask Myrtle.

I ses look Ethel. I ses I am surprised at you taking advantage of somebody who is foolish enough to make a bet like that especially an old man. I ses I guess he was feeble minded and Ethel ses O no Joe he was not feeble minded. He had a lot of money when he paid me my dollar. You can ask Myrtle. I ses what has that got to do with him being feeble minded? Ethel ses O when somebody is feeble minded they do not have a lot of money. Sometimes that is why they are feeble minded.

I ses well it is just the same as swindling. I ses I am really ashamed of you Ethel and she ses but Joe I tell you I did not know until afterwards that he had never been to the movies before. I thought he was joking with me and what would you have done Joe? I ses why I would have at least given him some kind of odds like two to one. I ses maybe I would have given him three. I ses all you gave the poor old fellow was even money on a sure thing.

Ethel ses well I am sorry Joe and if I see him again I will give him his money back but you will have to lend it to me because Myrtle and I spent it on sandwiches. I ses I thought so and now I am going to bed and so I went but after a while Ethel woke me up and ses Joe I would have given that old fellow odds if it had been Clark Gable fighting the villain. I ses good night Ethel.

Yours truly