Uncle Dan and the Spies

Damon Runyon


January 4.

DEAR SIR last night my wife Ethel ses Joe my Uncle Dan was over today. I ses you mean the big war hero? She ses yes of course and I ses what is he up to now? She ses he is going to help the government out and look for spies.

I ses what spies? Ethel ses why any spies. They are people who go a peeking and a poking and a snooping around this country seeking information to send the enemy. That is what my Uncle Dan ses they do. I ses what enemy? Ethel ses well Uncle Dan did not tell me what enemy. He just ses the enemy. Uncle Dan ses the government is going to have thousands of agents out looking for spies.

I ses is your Uncle Dan a government agent? Ethel ses no but he is going to help out anyway because he is very patriotic. He is going to make those spies hard to catch. I ses did the government ask him to help out? She ses no he is just going to help out anyway. Uncle Dan ses he is a volunteer in a wonderful cause. He ses he never waits for anybody to ask him to help out in wonderful causes.

I ses what is there in it for him then? I ses Ethel it is not like your Uncle Dan to be doing something for nothing. I ses it is more like him to be doing nothing for something and Ethel ses O Joe you just dont care for my Uncle Dan. You are always talking mean about him even when he is being patriotic.

I ses did your Uncle Dan tell you how somebody goes about looking for spies? She ses sure he did. He ses you pick out somebody suspicious and follow them around and see if they go a peeking and a poking and a snooping and you listen to what they talk about and if they knock the government you sit down and write a letter to Washington and tell them that you have found a spy but you do not sign your right name to the letter because you do not want other spies to know who you are. Then somebody in Washington arrests the spy and puts him in jail and thats all there is to it Joe.

I ses well Ethel I cannot understand why your Uncle Dan wants to go looking for spies when he cannot make anything out of it and Ethel ses Joe my Uncle Dan ses you would be surprised how much trouble you can cause somebody who has done something to you like Jute Kroffy by writing to Washington and telling them he is a spy.

I ses Ethel do you mean Kroffy the tailor? She ses why of course, are there any other Kroffys around here? I ses well Kroffy never done anything to me and she ses no but he has done something to my Uncle Dan. He scorched a hole in my Uncle Dans best pants when he was pressing them and would not pay for them because he ses the hole was already there.

I ses Ethel sweets I do not care what happens to your Uncle Dan but you tell him he better not go monkeying around that Kroffy too much. I ses that is a tough fellow and if he gets mad he is liable to hurt somebody. I ses he is liable to bust your Uncle Dans nose for him thats what he is liable to do and Ethel ses yes but suppose he is a spy?

I ses O Ethel thats silly. I ses Jute Kroffy is too busy playing the horses when he is not pressing peoples clothes to be a spy and Ethel ses why my Uncle Dan ses he is a republican and that is very suspicious for somebody to be a republican in Brooklyn. I ses well if Jute is a republican he has changed since the last election. I ses he was a democrat then and Ethel ses O my Uncle Dan knows that but he ses if you are going to write to Washington about somebody being a spy it is best to say they are a republican so the letter will get prompt attention.

I ses well Ethel if you want to do your Uncle Dan a favor you give him a tip from me to stay away from Jute Kroffy. I ses if he is a spy I am Mayor Laguardia and Ethel ses why Joe thats foolish. I ses whats foolish? She ses to think you could be Mayor Laguardia. He is a short fat fellow and you are tall and thin. I ses it is no more foolish than for your Uncle Dan to go around telling that Jute Kroffy is a spy and Ethel ses well Uncle Dan has to get even with him some way about those pants.


This morning when I was dressing I heard my wife Ethel talking on the telephone to her Moms and when she got through she came into the bedroom and ses Joe do you know something? I ses no what? She ses why you were right about Jute Kroffy busting my Uncle Dans nose. I bet he told you he would do it.

I ses Ethel I have not seen Jute in a month of Sundays but what happened? She ses why last night my Uncle Dan was listening at the keyhole of the back door of Kroffys shop to hear what Kroffy was talking about with a suspicious looking fellow who was in there with him and all of a sudden Kroffy opened the door and when he saw my Uncle Dan there he slammed it again right in my Uncle Dans face and busted his nose across the middle. My Moms ses I should have seen how it bled.

I ses well it served your Uncle Dan right and Ethel ses yes but that was not the worst of it Joe. The worst of it was Kroffy and the fellow were not spies at all. They are not even Republicans. They were setting there drinking out of a bottle and every once in awhile they stood up and gave three cheers for the government. My Moms ses my Uncle Dan is terrible disappointed Joe and he is going to let the government look out for its own spies without any help from him.

Yours truly