Mr. Tully’s big mutts
snuck out of his yard
early one morning
through the unhitched-back-gate.
And me, a Horatio-Alger-ten-year-old-newspaper-boy
on City Island, The Bronx, New York,
trapped them in Mrs. DeSantes front yard.
(The dogs liked me
’cause I all the time delivered my papers
with my pockets stuffed
with Milk Bone dog biscuits
so they followed me into the yard
and I quick circled back
and locked the gate behind them.)
So guilty did I feel
for that faithless trick
that I couldn’t look ’em in the face,
their freedom lost, their muzzles down…
so I tossed them each a Milk-Bone
for a treat to restore their faith
in the human race.
I asked Mrs.DeSantes
to watch the dogs from her screen door
while I ran to the Tully mansion.
That’s what it was,
the home of City Island’s
I ratted out Mr. Tully’s
and Mr. Tully said,
“God-Damn Those Miserable Mongrels!”
(For that’s just the kind of
warm hearted guy he was!)
He followed me to their prison yard,
hooked them to their leashes,
tipped his fedora to Mrs. Desantes
and stomped off,
draggin’ the sorrowful dogs behind him.
But that ain’t the all of it!
Three days later
Mr. Tully tipped me five bucks
when I came around to collect
his weekly delivery bill!!
an astronomical amount
for a tip in those days,
was a heavy contrast to the two bits
he usually give me!
Specially since the prior Sunday morning,
in the rain,
I’d ripped-up the front page
of his New York Times
trying to force the paper into his mailbox
instead of placing it, like usual,
on the plywood platform
he’d hung on his gate.
Mr. Tully scolded me
for “my thoughtless distruction”
of his mutilated Sunday Times.
“How do you expect me to read this!!”
I’d looked humbled and contrite
which seemed to satisfy him.
But that was then
and this was now
and the fin
slid freely from his hand to mine,
the wealthy old man
positively beaming in his largess!
I’d ruined his Sunday breakfast
with no New York Times to read,
but I’d got his mutts off the streets,
their tails dragging,
back to safe and home
before the dog-catcher
came along to collect ’em.
So the fiver balanced all accounts.
I spent it well
and Mr. Tully’s man
built a hinged, wooden cover
for that platform
to use on rainy and snowy morning deliveries…
That’s how things get worked out,
between sensible business men
like Mr. Tully and me!