Mr. Goranovsky, also known as “Mr. Do-Gooder,” is a good citizen; honest, upstanding, with a certain civic-mindedness that compels him to find a clerk when he sees a man shoplifting. The store is called Gwynn’s, and it has an odd shoplifting policy. Since an employee didn’t see the actual snatch, they are loath to stop the man for fear, if he didn’t steal anything, of alienating a customer. They ask Mr. Goranovsky to be a witness when the man is approached. He hesitantly agrees, but quickly regrets his decision.
“Citizen’s Arrest” is deceivingly simple and overtly ironic. It takes the expected—crime, punishment, and possible retribution—and twists it into something unexpected. It is humorous, charming—in a hardboiled way—and exemplifies the idea that no good deed goes unpunished. The prose is simple—
“My fingers trembled as I lit a cigarette.”
—and, unusually, there are no first names. It is Mr. Goranovsky, Mr. Levine, Mr. Sileo, which gives the story an uptight formality. A formality that acts as a foil to the climactic twist. And the twist is what makes the story good.