Officer Lipscomber

Damon Runyon

Freddie Lipscomber used to be a policeman in Our Town. His older brother Howie Lipscomber still lives here over Earnshaw’s Drug Store.

Howie is not what you would call good-looking but he is a fine citizen. Freddie was a very handsome man and had a different personality. Howie is very quiet.

Freddie quit being a policeman in Our Town very suddenly. That was seven years ago. Some people say he had to quit because he was paying more attention to Widow Farnsworth than to his job. Widow Farnsworth is a very beautiful woman.

Howie is very devoted to his brother and he always says to this day that the widow was only a good friend. He says Freddie’s only trouble is that he has a heart of gold.

Freddie is now a policeman in New York. He visits Howie every summer at the end of July. Policemen in New York are very busy on holidays. More than a million tourists visit New York every day, especially July 4th.

Freddie has a fine job. The New York police are the highest paid in the world. Freddie is called Officer Lipscomber now.

He has a four-room apartment, a blond wife and an angora cat. The cat’s name is Bella. It likes liver.

Officer Lipscomber is thirty years old and has been in the police department five years. He is a hardworking, conscientious policeman and loves his wife and Mayor LaGuardia. She allows him three dollars per week for spending money. He does not care for Bella, and that is strictly between Officer Lipscomber and his wife.

He endeavors to bring the human equation into the discharge of his police duties. He always tries to put himself in the other fellow’s place in a situation involving a breach of the law and possible arrest.

That is what Officer Lipscomber says. I try to put myself in the other fellow’s place.

He is a fine figure of a man in his uniform. Ladies often turn around and look at him the second time but Officer Lipscomber does not look at them more than once. He is ambitious to command the department someday.

He does not make many arrests. He says by putting himself in the other fellow’s place he usually finds an arrest unnecessary. He gets more sleep than most policemen who have to get up early and go to court to testify in arrests. That is why Officer Lipscomber always looks healthy.

His wife is very proud of him. Her name is Sheila. When he commands the Police Department, he is going to move out of our street to a suburb where Bella will have a yard to play in.

One night Officer Lipscomber was patrolling his beat on Ninth Avenue, trying doors as he went along to see if any had accidently been left unlocked.

It was a cold night and he was wishing Sheila would allow him a dollar more per week for spending money. It was something to think about to pass the time away. A policeman must think of something to pass the time away. He thought how well he could use a dollar more per week.

He found the door of a small butcher shop unlocked and looking through the window. Officer Lipscomber saw an elderly little man with a white mustache and spectacles going through the cash register.

Officer Lipscomber entered the shop with drawn revolver and told the little man to put up his hands. He told the little man to consider himself under arrest. He said. You ought to be ashamed to be a burglar at your time of life.

The little man was badly frightened. Then he said he and his wife Esther owned the butcher shop and that business was good but that Esther allowed him only two dollars per week for spending money. He said he really needed more than that so he was taking some odd change out of the cash register.

Officer Lipscomber sat down and thought this over. He put himself in the other fellow’s place. He could see that a businessman like a butcher would need more than two dollars per week spending money when a policeman like himself could conveniently use more than three. He thought of his wife, Sheila.

He told the little man that the things for them to do was to go to the little man’s house and wake up his wife Esther and have her identify him and everything would be all right. The little man said yes, but then they would have to tell her he had been found in the shop and she would suspect right away he had been in there to rob the register and he would be worse off than ever.

Officer Lipscomber thought this over, too. He put himself in the other fellow’s place again. He thought of his wife Sheila. He told the little man he could see where he was between the devil and the deep blue sea and for him to go on about his business and forget the interruption.

Officer Lipscomber returned to trying doors. He congratulated himself on saving a fellow human being great embarrassment by putting himself in the other fellow’s place. He thought of his wife Sheila.

The next day Officer Lipscomber was spoken to quite severely by his superior because of the burglary of a butcher shop on his beat with the loss of $108 cash money. The owner of the butcher shop was around to the police station making a big complaint.

The owner’s name was Goochman. He was a big fat man without a mustache. Officer Lipscomber asked him if he had a wife named Esther and Goochman said no he never had a wife and what business was it of Officer Lipscomber’s anyway? He wanted to know where Officer Lipscomber was when the burglary came off. He said he was going to see Mayor LaGuardia.

Officer Lipscomber has made more arrests since then than any man in the department. He waits until he gets them in jail before he puts himself in the other fellow’s place.

He asked his wife Sheila for an extra dollar on his allowance but she said no.