"Better Not Look Down"

Not long after Michael Bracken invited me to submit a story to his The Eyes of Texas collection, he also asked me to contribute to Mickey Finn: 21st-Century Noir. The only two parameters were that submissions had to be set in the present day and had to be dark, and I decided to use a title that'd been on my list of to-be-used-someday titles for a number of years, "Better Not Look Down," which was also the title of a terrific B.B. King song you can listen to here.

I wound up setting my story mostly in and outside the iconic Bradbury Building in downtown LA, with one scene set in Barney's Beanery, an eating place immortalized by sculptor Ed Kienholz in an installation piece I used to visit at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam when I lived in The Netherlands in the late '70s and early '80s and found myself feeling homesick for the US. I also used this story as a chance to experiment with jumping back and forth in time, and with what's called a "ticking clock" plot structure.

The collection was published by Down and Out Books in December 2020. Two years later, "Better Not Look Down" was reprinted in A Hint of Hitchcock, edited by Cameron Trost (Black Beacon Books, 2022).

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