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Officer Friendly and Other Stories by Lewis Robinson


Rating: (Recommended)


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Maine Man

Until I picked up Officer Friendly and Other Stories, I’d not read anything by Lewis Robinson. Now that I’ve been introduced to this talented writer in the form of his first book, I’m awaiting his next efforts. Robinson’s writing is crisp, with good character development in the limited space of a short story. His ear for dialogue makes his characters come to life. For most of the stories, readers will end the story wanting to know more about these people we’ve met briefly.

Here’s an excerpt (pp. 24-5) from the title story:

“… This chump's going to shoot me. Shoot me dead for sending up bottle rockets Sixteen years alive and I was going to get shot in the back by a Point Allison cop. The local force was generally incompetent but capable of occasional displays of accidental heroism. So I stopped, and the cop kept running, and just as I turned around he tackled me in the snowbank.

I'll hand it to the guy: it was a great takedown, executed cleanly, powerfully. In fact, the enthusiasm of the tackle sent his fur hat to the top of the snowbank. He held me and caught his breath. He was wheezing and his warm stomach was pressed against my chest.

"Don't. . ." he said, but then he had to catch his breath and start again. "Don't . . . ever . . . run. . . from . . . an officer . . .of ...the law."

His nose was inches from my forehead. It was Officer Friendly, the cop who in fifth grade ~ visited our classroom to write the word DRUGS on the chalkboard. Later in his speech, he crossed the word out, and later still, he erased it. This routine was mimicked by many of us in the years that followed.

When he put his hands on the snow on either side of me to push himself up, his arms sunk in and he was pinning me again. I was pressed deeper into the snowbank.

"Just a minute," he said.

"No problem," I said.

In his squad car, we sat in silence near the sidewalk on Main Street. He idled the engine and set the heat at full blast, the blowers on our faces, and I wondered if he was trying to compose what he was going to say, or if his strategy was more fine-tuned, if in fact the silence was his way of trying to scare me, trying to get me to realize the gravity of the situation, the detriment of firecrackers. His breath was loud because he pushed it through his teeth. Aside from his gig as Officer Friendly, he patrolled the hockey games; I'd seen him standing by the entrance before the puck dropped, and once the action started he'd go up into the bleachers. His name tag said Belliveau. He looked my dad's age.

"You know what running does?" he asked.

I chose not to answer. It was obviously a trap. I almost said, Well, running got my buddy up and over the snowbank so he didn't have to get pinned by you in the snow, but I resisted.

"What running does, my friend, is that it makes you look like a real criminal," he said. "My guess is that you're not a real criminal. Why would you want me to think you're a real criminal?"

I suppose I didn't want to look like a criminal but I was annoyed that my jean jacket, black wool hat, and steel-toed boots didn't speak danger. Belliveau obviously didn't know the half of it.

"There are a lot of things you could have been doing back there," he said. "For all I know, you could have been using a controlled substance. I could go right down the list. Assault, vandalism, kidnapping, arson. The people who run away are the people who are doing the worst things. That makes sense to you, doesn't it, son?"

"Of course, sir," I said. But I was thinking: Right, Officer Friendly, okay, you're an idiot.


In each story, Robinson delivers great writing. If you’re willing to try out a new and unfamiliar writer this year, I recommend Lewis Robinson and his first book, Officer Friendly and Other Stories.

Steve Hopkins, January 21, 2003


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The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the February 2003 issue of Executive Times

URL for this review: Friendly.htm


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