STANLEY ELLIN “The Day of the Bullet.” First published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October 1959. Reprinted in The Blessington Method (Random House, 1974) and The Specialty of the House (Mysterious Press, 1980). Also included in Brooklyn Noir 2: The Classics (Akashic Books, Tim McLoughlin ed., 2005). Adapted for television: Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 14 February 1960 (Season 5, Episode 20); teleplay: Bill S. Ballinger. Nominated for an MWA Edgar, Best Short Story, 1960.

   That’s a long list of bibliographic data, one nearly as long as my comments are going to be. The story that won the Edgar that year was “The Landlady” by Roald Dahl, which I do not remember reading, so I can only conjecture, but Dahl’s story must have been a doozy to beat out this one.

   Stanley Ellin wrote a number of novels, but if he’s remembered today, it will be for his short stories, which he wrote at a rate of once a year. Inevitably they were gems of story-telling as polished as they could be, including this one.

   It’s the story of two 12-year-olds growing up in Brooklyn until they were separated when parents of the narrator of the tale moved to Brooklyn in 1923. They never saw each other again, but the teller of story recognizes his former friend when his bloody photos is published in the newspaper, some 35 years later.

   It turns out their last adventure together was a trip to a nearby golf course fishing for lost balls, when they witness a guy being beaten up by a pair of gangsters. Iggy, the friend, wants to tell the police, and so they both do, but what happens from that point on was the turning point in Iggy’s life.

   This deeply noirish tale is also a story of growing up, of making the wrong decision in life, but one you don’t realize at the time. It’s a warning story, of sorts, not really a sad one, as it’s told at a solid distance away, chronologically, but it could be if you think about it for a while.