Richard Price's latest novel, The Whites, written under the pseudonym Harry Brandt, is getting rave reviews. Last week, Price was asked by The New York Times about his favorite New York stories. The first magazine piece he mentioned was “The Cop Who Loved The Oak Bar,” by The Daily Beast's own Michael Daly. Originally published in New York Magazine (April 11,1983), and reprinted here with the author's permission, this little gem will bring to mind Runyon, Hecht, Mitchell, Cannon, and Breslin.
By his twenty-first birthday, Jack Maple had signed on with the Transit Police, married his high-school sweetheart, and taken out a mortgage on a two-family house on a tree-lined street in Queens. He was in every way a perfect officer of the law, and only when he chanced to stroll past the Plaza hotel did he reveal aspirations that set him apart from his fellow officers. Much to the amusement of his colleagues, Maple would peer through the windows of the Oak Bar and announce that he would someday join the men in suits and ties who laughed and drank on the other side of the plate glass.