STANLEY ELLIN “Robert.” First published in Sleuth Mystery Magazine, October 1958. Reprinted several times, including Tales for a Rainy Night, edited by David Alexander (Holt Rinehart & Winston, hardcover; 1961; Crest d557, paperback, 1962) and Ellin’s story collection The Blessington Method and Other Strange Tales (Random House, hardcover, 1964; Signet D2805, paperback, 1966).

   Frequent visitors to this blog are likely familiar with the work of Stanley Ellin (1916–1986). A prolific mystery writer and the winner of three Edgars, Ellin sold his first story, “The Specialty of the House” to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 1948. Several of his works were adapted for film and television.

   One of Ellin’s stories, simply entitled “Robert” has, as far as I know, never been adapted to stage or screen. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t vast potential there for such an adaptation. A work of horror and suspense more than a mystery tale, “Robert” concerns the interactions between a schoolteacher named Miss Gildea and the eponymous Sixth Grade student. Robert is not like the other kids. He’s a bit … different. And his difference seems to stem from his having uncanny, if not almost psychic, powers.

   Students and schoolteachers often don’t get along. And there’s always one troublemaker in particular that seems to have it in for the teacher. But Robert really has it in for Miss Gildea, so much so that he confesses that he wished he could kill her. This leads the frantic schoolteacher to rush to the school principal. Big mistake. For from the moment that she makes young Robert her adversary, things start going downhill for her. And fast.

   Overall, “Robert” doesn’t explain why things are happening so much as depict a scenario in which such bizarre things could possibly occur. While the resolution to the story is somewhat anticlimactic, getting there is a thrilling little ride.