Dave Ranney eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 115 pages of information about Dave Ranney.

THE TURNING-POINT

Many’s the time I’ve stood on the Bowery and cursed God and the day I was born, and wished that I was dead.  But here I was!  Nobody cared for me, and why should they, for I did not care for myself.  I did not even think God cared much or He would have done something.  I imagined the Devil thought he had me for keeps, and so he did not exert himself very much either.  I was out of the saloon, on the street, and little as I imagined such a thing would ever happen, I never entered ——­’s saloon again.  All unknown to me the turning-point in my life had come.

Sizing up the situation, I knew I must have a drink, but how was I to get it?  Up to this time I’d done everything on the calendar except murder, and I don’t know how I missed that.  I’ve seen men killed, have been in a few shoot-ups myself, and bear some scars, but I know at this writing that God and a mother’s prayers saved me from this awful crime.

Among the many accomplishments suited to the life I was leading was that of a “strong-arm man,” and I determined to put it into use now, for I was desperate.

The rule in this dastardly work is always to select a man smaller and weaker than one’s self.  As I looked about I saw a man coming up the Bowery who seemed to answer to the requirements, and I said to myself, “This is my man!” I walked up to him and touched him on the shoulder, but as he straightened up I saw that he was as big as myself, and I hesitated.  I would have taken the chances even then, but he started back and asked what I wanted.  I said I was hungry, thinking that he would put his hand in his pocket, and then, having only one hand, I could put the “strangle hold” on him.  But he was equal to the situation.  He told me afterward that I looked dangerous.

I asked him if he was ever hungry.  He said, “Many’s the time.”  I told him I was starving.  “Come with me,” said he, and we went over to Chatham Square, to a place called “Beefsteak John’s.”

We went in and sat down, and he said, “Now order what you want.”  On the Bowery in those days you could get a pretty good meal for fifteen cents—­all you wanted to eat.  The waiter was there to take my order.  I knew him and winked to him to go away, and he went.  He thought I was going to work the young fellow for his money.

The young fellow said, “Why don’t you call for something?  I thought you were starving.”

Now here I was up against it.  I’d panned this man for something to eat, and he was willing to pay for anything I wanted, and for the life of me I could not swallow any food.  When a man is drinking he doesn’t care to eat at a table.  Give him a square meal, and he doesn’t enjoy it.  I know men to-day who spend every dollar they earn for drink, and eat nothing but free lunches, handed out with their drinks.  That was what was the matter with me.  All I wanted was drink.  The

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Dave Ranney from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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