Friday, November 23, 2012
A Very Honorable Guy - Damon Runyon
Theme: Queen’s Quorum Titles
Story: A Very Honorable Guy
Author: Damon Runyon
Source: Guys & Dolls
Damon Runyon wrote five different fictional series: ‘ A detective’s Confession’, which satirized the Hammett-Chandler private-eye school of whodunit writing; ‘In Our Town’ sketches; ‘My Old Man’ tales; ‘Joe & Ethel Turp’ bagatelles and the ‘Broadway Guys & dolls’ Stories.
Guys & Dolls is one of the best examples of depicting the subtle permutations in the technical and thematic variations of the detective-crime short story! As Heywodd Broun wrote in the introduction, “Damon Runyon caught with a high degree of insight the actual tone and phrase of the gangsters and racketeers of the town.” In a series of 13 stories, the reader meets a choice collection of cheap chiselers, chippie chasers and cheesecake chewers – or to put it differently, the Runyon guys and dolls are Broadway bandits, metropolitan mobsters & Times Squares thugs – tales of passion and violence with a unique type of humor.
Feet Samuels, the honorable guy of the story makes his living by hustling around race tracks and crap games and prize fights or by acting as a runner for bookmakers or scalping bets or steering suckers. He is never really in the money and is always owing and always paying off – but he is very honorable about his debts and maintains his credit! Because Feet’s word is considered good at all times, he can raise a little dough even off The Brain, the toughest moneylender of Broadway. If one maintains a good credit with The Brain, he can maintain a good credit in the whole of the town.
Feet Samuels is in a tough spot – he has an approaching deadline to clear off a debt (to The Brain) and he has no money as he has been on a losing streak, his doll is no more interested in him as he has competition in the form of another guy who can pamper her with diamond bracelets. Samuels decides to commit suicide. Finally, he hits upon an alternative - he sells himself to a doctor –by providing Brain’s reference - promising the doctor that he would get his (Feet’s) body in exactly 30 days. From the money he gets, he pays of The Brain, he showers his doll with gifts and with the rest of the money, decides to enjoy his remaining few days at the crap table. At the end of the 30 days, Feet has multiplied his money by 10 times, he has got back his girl and everything seems to be going great for him. Being a honorable guy, and with all negotiations failing as the doctor is not ready to settle for anything less than Feet’s body, he starts thinking about the ways in which he can get himself killed so that the doctor can get his body in good shape. The Brain (the Credit Agency) who comes to know about this feels that Feet should keep up his promise and shouldn’t default. Does Feet survive? Does he live up to his reputation of an honorable guy?