It’s quaint, this pleasant city district where awnings shelter storefronts and each market’s sidewalk is crowded by produce bushels, where drying laundry crisscrosses cobblestone streets. Boys in a cul-de-sac are running stickball bases while smiling Officer O’Bama offers encouragement, “Tremendous hit, Johnny! Now keep it up, boys.”
Taking calm and measured paces, the good officer resumes his beat when a lad unexpectedly darts past and shopkeeper Kelly points a frantic finger: “Stop that urchin! He’s pinching apples.”
“Whoa, Kelly,” says O’Bama. “Urchin’s a bit of a slur, don’t you think?”
“But he’s stealing my apples.”
“Stealing, Kelly? At first it was pinching, and didn’t it occur to you he might be filching or even looting?”
Exasperated, Kelly laments, “But Officer–he took my apples,” and while the boy gains distance and O’Bama parses vocabulary, an alarm takes to clanging over at the Savings and Loan.
“What’s this?” utters O’Bama, striding across the cobblestones, ordering sternly, “You two! Stop right there!”
Down the Savings and Loan steps the pair has scurried, gats pocketed and greenbacks, dripping from their satchel, fluttering around them.
O’Bama, taken to his knees and gathering the bills, lectures, “This street drains to the river, you two. Mustn’t be careless and allow this litter to pollute the marine habitat, right?” Regaining his feet, O’Bama stuffs the recovered loot into the overflowing sack; with satisfaction he tips his hat and watches the bandits scrambling into a waiting black sedan. As the auto peels off Mrs. Molinari shuffles up, tears streaming from black, swollen eyes. “Help me, Officer O,” she pants, “my husband, he be beating me.”
“Husband?” asks O’Bama. “Don’t you realize the overwhelming majority of husbands are kind and gentle? Get off your high horse, Mrs. M, and consider it unjust to disparage a whole class of the citizenry by alleging baseless accusations. Husband? Be more specific, Mrs. M. Make do, perhaps, with marriage extremist.”
By then t-shirted Molinari is charging down, cudgel in hand and vowing, “I’ll teach you to talk to men!” Amicably does O’Bama tip his cap as the couple screams off just as the newsboy rounds the corner shouting, “Extra! Extra!” One arm is laden with a stack of newsprint, the other hand waves a sample aloft. “Crime Rampant in Neighborhood” screams the headline, which the boy parrots in a voice twice his size.
Enraged, Officer O’Bama scowls, “Why you … ” and jabs his nightstick at the youngster. “How dare you hawk this filth on my beat, you urchin you.” By the collar he grabs the terrified lad, dragging him and the pile of repugnant papers along the gutter. “For this offense I’m hauling you in, you news peddler, you. Reform school will suit you well, it will.”