Nice and Quiet, She Was

Damon Runyon


DEAR SIR The other night I took my wife Ethel to the movies and when we were on our way home she ses Joe, are nice people uninteresting? I ses baby, I think you are one of the most interesting people I ever saw in my whole life and that goes double in spades.

She ses no, I am serious Joe although I thank you just the same. You are a very fine fellow to tell me that but I wish you would answer my question. Are nice people uninteresting? I ses why I suppose they are but you will have to explain what you mean. I ses it sounds to me like one of those trick questions of yours.

Ethel ses well, we have seen three pictures in the past two weeks and all of them were about nasty people like murderers and dopers and ladies who like fellows who are not their husbands and mean policemen. There were no nice people in any of them but only unnice ones. Well, the movies are supposed to be interesting to those who pay to see them and I am sure those who make the movies put in the people they think would be most interesting to the customers.

Well, Ethel ses, as there were no nice people in all those pictures we saw I was just wondering if it is because nice people are not interesting to anyone. I mean nice people like my Moms and Mrs. Crutcher and all the others in our neighborhood who go to church and do their best to be good to everybody.

I ses, well Ethel, I guess maybe nice people don’t lead very exciting lives like the unnice ones in the pictures. I ses all they do is work hard all day long and go home and just sit around until it is time to go to bed although of course some of them go to the movies like us once in awhile and see those pictures you are beefing about. Ethel ses I am not beefing Joe, I am just asking.

I ses well, you know yourself nobody would pay a dime to see a picture about people like the ones we know in our neighborhood. I ses I guess I will have to answer yes to your question and say nice people are uninteresting and that is why you do not see any pictures about them. I ses that is why you see pictures about bad people who are really quite interesting, especially if they commit a murder.

Ethel ses there has not been a murder in our neighborhood for over thirty years. Not since you and I were born, Joe. The last murder around our neighborhood was when old Miss Julia killed her fiancé by locking him up in her cellar and starving him to death. I ses what are you talking about Ethel? She ses I am talking about Miss Julia. I ses do you mean that nice quiet old lady that lives across the street from your mom’s house?

Ethel ses yes Joe, she is the one. She is one of my mom’s best friends. She was in love with a policeman named Brown many years ago and when she found out that he was keeping company with another girl she got them both to come and see her to talk things over and somehow got them to go down in the cellar and locked them in. They starved to death because she wouldn’t give them anything to eat or drink and nobody could hear the noise they made because she made her old father fix the cellar up with stone and cement in advance so it was soundproof.

I ses I never heard that story in my life and I thought I knew everything that ever happened around here. Ethel ses well of course it was a long time and they had Miss Julia in the asylum for many years. I ses my goodness and I never saw anybody nicer than she is and Ethel ses isn’t she nice? But I don’t think you will ever see nice people like she is in the movies Joe, they are so uninteresting.

Yours truly