Uncle Dan and the Baby Alligators

Damon Runyon


December 29.

DEAR SIR my wife Ethel and me got back from Florida yesterday in the old bucket and she went over to her Moms house right away to show her sunburn before it wore off and when she come back she ses Joe there has been an awful lot of trouble around here.

I ses what was the trouble? She ses it was about my Uncle Dan. I ses you mean the fellow who won the World War? Ethel ses yes that is the one. I ses did somebody finally catch up with him for making those two dollar touches and have him put in jail? I ses if they did that it is no trouble. I ses that is a pleasure.

Ethel ses Joe he was in jail all right but it was not for what you think. Besides I don’t think it is nice of you to talk disrespectfully of my Uncle Dan. You know he is my favorite uncle. I ses all right Ethel tell me what come off. I ses one good thing about it whatever it was we cannot be to blame this time and Ethel ses O yes we were Joe. It all started over those baby alligators.

I ses Ethel what baby alligators? She ses why the ones I sent from Florida. I ses look baby will you please tell me what you are talking about before I go crazy? I ses I never heard about any baby alligators you sent from Florida and she ses O thats right Joe. I guess I forgot to tell you but then you were always so busy down there running around seeing those customers that you never had time to listen to what I was doing.

I ses Ethel I listened to you about the fun you was having on the beach every day in that bathing suit that showed so much of you I was embarrassed. I ses I listened to a lot of other things you was doing that I dont remember now and I would surely have listened to something you was doing about baby alligators if you had told me. I ses I would have listened to that because I would have known the idea was no good.

Ethel ses there you go blaming me just like my Moms did until I told her I did not send the baby alligators. I told her you did Joe because she cannot be any madder at you over that than she always is. I ses Ethel sweets just you start at the beginning now and tell old Joe all about everything especially about your Uncle Dan getting in jail.

Ethel ses well Joe one day when you was seeing the customers and I did not go to the beach I went shopping and I found a store where they was selling the dearest little baby alligators you ever saw. They were really alive Joe and they cost fifty cents each and a man put them in a little box for you and mailed to whoever you said. I bought three of them and sent one to my Moms and one to my Pops and one to my Uncle Dan. They grow up to be very large Joe and then you make pocketbooks and suit cases of them. Are you listening Joe?

I ses I should say I am listening. I ses I saw some of those baby alligators myself down there and I had a notion to send somebody one. I ses how could they cause all this trouble you are talking about? Ethel ses well Joe when the mail man delivered them at my Moms house Uncle Dan was the only one home and he was so tickled to get a really alive baby alligator that he took them all and put them in his pockets and went down to Schultz Bar to show them around.

I ses well now I can commence to see something and Ethel ses yes this is where it commences. There was a lot of fellows like truck drivers in Schultz and my Uncle Dan thought it would be a wonderfully funny joke to put the alive baby alligators in those fellows beers. Joe dont you think that was funny? I ses Ethel I can see where it was funny except to the fellows who was drinking the beers. Ethel ses yes that was the trouble. They was the ones who did not think it was funny and neither did that old Schultz.

I ses did Schultz know your Uncle Dan had those baby alligators? Ethel ses O no nobody knew he had them. They were in his pockets and he just slipped up alongside three different fellows and put a baby alligator in their beers when they was not looking. They was all truck drivers Joe every one of them. I ses yes Ethel it would not be like your Uncle Dan to pick a midget.

Ethel ses well of course those truck drivers found out about the baby alligators as soon as they started to drink their beers and my Moms ses when they began looking surprised that was when my Uncle Dan laughed until he almost cried. Joe one of those truck drivers almost drank his baby alligator right down along with his beer and he was the first one who hit Uncle Dan.

I ses who was the second one Ethel? She ses why both of the others was second Joe and Schultz was third. That old Schultz reached over the bar and hit my Uncle Dan on top of the head with a wooden mallet and there was a terrible fight all over the place and they sent for the police and put my Uncle Dan in jail. It cost my Pops twenty dollars to get him out. Joe I think those truck drivers and old Schultz had little to do hitting my Uncle Dan over a joke with baby alligators.

I ses well why is your Moms blaming us and Ethel ses not us Joe. Just you. I had to tell her you sent them and she ses if you had minded your own business and left those baby alligators in Florida this would not have happened. My Pops is mad too Joe because all the baby alligators got lost somewhere during the fight and my Pops ses he has always wanted to see a baby alligator.

Yours truly