BILL PRONZINI “Incident in a Neighborhood Tavern.” Short story. “Nameless” PI. First published in An Eye for Justice, edited by Robert J. Randisi (Mysterious Press, 1988). Collected in Small Felonies (St. Martin’s, 1988). [See comment #5 for other collections this story has appeared in.] Reprinted in Under the Gun, edited by Edward Gorman & Robert J. Randisi (Plume, 1990).

   Bill Pronzini’s “nameless” PI is sitting in a bar talking to the owner about a series of robberies local merchants have asked him to look into, the police having made no headway in the case. It’s that time of he evening, just before seven, when only two other customers are in the place, when in comes a hopped up kid with a gun. Object: robbery.

   The story’s only eight pages long, but not only does this turn out to be a pretty good detective story, but what makes this story all the more compelling is Pronzini’s ability to describe what it must feel like to be facing the wrong end pf a gun, the other end in the hand of someone who obviously doesn’t care if it goes off or not.

   You’ve got to keep your head in situations such this, and “Nameless” does just that, in more ways than one.