Monday, January 2, 2012

New*Year NEW NOIR ~ AT THE BIJOU presents ~ HARD LANDING, a Steven Miscandlon Debut

H A R D   L A N D I N G

By ~ Steven Miscandlon 

I’ve always had a thing about stairs. Part fascination, part fear. I have recurring dreams about broken stairways, about running up stairs, about falling down stairs. So standing here, on the top floor landing of a ten storey apartment building, I guess I’m somewhere between heaven and hell.

I can look over the balustrade here and watch the rhythm — stairway, landing, stairway, landing, stairway — spiral down and down. Shoddy building maintenance means the lights on the bottom five floors are out. And that means when I look down, I see the stairs ultimately descend into darkness, into shadows.

The space in the middle of the building is a pit, an abyss, a well. Not the kind of well you draw water up from, but the kind you fall down into. The kind you might push someone into. Nietzsche said something about looking into the abyss, that it looks back at you. I disagree. I think it’s more likely that you’ll fall in. Or that someone will push you in.

I flick my cigarette over the side, watch the still glowing tip tumble down into the darkness. A wisp of smoke lingers in the air, like a bitter memory. Anyone watching that casual action would see a cool, calm demeanour. A stone cold killer, ice in his veins.But it’s not like that, not on the inside. Nerves of steel? Sure, but only if that steel is a badly tuned guitar string, plucked and still resonating its greasy, uneasy tone.

My nerves are shredded, my stomach in knots. Because the reality is, if you’ve just killed a man, that’s how you feel. It might not show on the surface, but underneath it churns. I can see the look on his face, still — not fear, not exactly. More … surprise. Yeah, that’s it. Surprise that I was pushing him over a tenth floor balustrade into the abyss. Like, despite the fact that I’d chased him up here, he still hadn’t known what was coming. Hadn’t expected me to knock away his hands as he’d grasped frantically at my lapels in a desperate attempt to cling onto dear life. Too late, buddy. Too late.

The situation was what it was, and I am what I am. So many things I could have been. A mob boss, a cop, a two-bit hood. Hell, some would even say I coulda been a contender. But of all those things, of all those cards that the trickster had laid out face down in front of me, I’d chosen… Well, that’s another story for another time. Whichever card I’d flipped over, it was always going to be the ace of spades.

Anyway, time to get out of here. Before the boys in blue arrive. Someone’s going to have one hell of a mess to clean up. I pull my collar up, strike and touch a match to a fresh smoke, and start down the stairs. Down into the darkness. Into the shadows.


Cold crimes for  Jump-Jivin' January NOIR  AT THE BIJOU

"Get the audience at the edge of their seats"
~ ALFRED HITCHCOCK   pic ala Hitchcockmani

You know Steven, this Absolutely*Kate show-mistress mysteriously asked me to share your recent holiday secrets into what she alliterates as the bright, brave, brazen New Year. Do you think she rather finds us suitable mental companions? Is it our style? Our suspense? Our savoir faire? I hear folks mumble about her back stage. There's not much I miss, you know. She's keen to which angles best affect best effect. I believe I do understand that and her suitable segway. Good sir, you're no young pup when it comes to cameras and effecting all the right angles yourself . . .

Take these photos, this mastering angles of elements. They're yours, aren't they Steven? Our Ms Kate, with attention to detail shadowing her motives, is aware of their copywright sanctions. But Kate being Absolutely*Kate, couldn't resist letting your greater audience know your teeming talents. Why, I believe that minx has just made me accomplice to her revelation crime. Forgiveness is in your hands. She really is a good sort.

once he hit over a quarter-of-a-million rave reviews.




As author, photographer and book-cover designer
Steven is memorable past mood. He evokes.

~ Absolutely*Kate,
Believing in Believers,

this multi-talented whirl of aesthetic distinction

for joining in the fray of

Our NOIRtorious Tales,


But wait, urges Kate ~ In her copious files, she retains Santa notes from the recent Christmas holidays under Maybe Merry Miscandlon. A green post-it reads: "These are great! Will you use 'em in your interview, Alfred? Please?" 

Are you going to resist a 'Please' from Absolutely*Kate,
 Mr Hitchcock?

A.H.  That's not tonight's mystery killer, Mr Miscandlon. Speak forth your mind, still festively in holiday enlightenment, will you? 

From Absolutely*Kate's Insight-Interview Files:
#1 What's the best Christmas gift ever received? 

I guess I'll show my soft side here and say that the festive season is really about spending time with the people you care about. I don't think you can beat just chilling out with your partner or family or friends — best gift there is. Though having said that, last year my brothers gave me a Hapkido DVD signed by Carter Wong. Most people won't have a clue who that is, but trust me, he's fucking cool.

#2 The best you ever gave? 

S.M.  If the important thing is having time with the people you care about, then by extension the best gift I ever gave was the gift of my own fine company. Those lucky bastards.

#3 What / where / how does one gift Steven Miscandlon writings for greater holiday happiness in a world that needs it? 

S.M.  You'll be lucky. With the exception of my story 'Frigid Air' (which was featured at Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers, and included as a bonus story in Julie Morrigan's 'The Writing on the Wall' horror collection) the bulk of my published writing pretty much dates back to pre-Internet days. So unless you manage to track down a 17-year-old copy of West Coast Magazine, or The Gothic Society Grimoire, or my short story anthology 'Forever Lost', then you'll just have to wait until I write some more stuff. Maybe this year.

#4 Single spotlight. Do your song and dance Bub. You're centerstage, AT THE BIJOU. You're looking right swanky. Katie's just introduced you, handed you the mike. Tell our red-velvet seated audience two things:

-- The one liner bio you wish them to remember about the author you see yourself being . . .

S.M.    I'm tempted to just quote from an old 'Forever Lost' review — 'Highly readable and no squirm factor' — can't think of a much better 6-word summary of what a writer sets out to achieve...

-- Something inside of you that you've never told a full-fledged audience of readers and fellow classy authors in a ritzy theatre where the single spot has you in a pool of light that just keeps glimmerin' . . . 

S.M.  Sorry, but the main thing inside of me is bitter, boiling rage at the state of the world. As a whole, we're a tragic, horrible failure of a species who value absolutely the wrong things in life, in people, in government, in business, in entertainment... And if you hand me a microphone and put me in a pool of light on stage I'm likely to just rant and rant and rant until you'll have to call security to have me forcibly removed. Merry Christmas, folks, a Happier New Year to us all.

#5 Will you bestow a holiday gift, a notice of a splendid piece of your writing to come*true for all now reading you, oh author whom AT THE BIJOU's lucky-as-loaded-dice crowd is to know? 

S.M.    My next piece of writing isn't written yet. If anyone has liked my stuff, then I give to you the gift of ... anticipation. Enjoy it while you can.

SIT DOWN SCHWEETHEART ~ Anticipation, huh Wiseguy?
Why, you ain't seen nuttin'
til you eyeballed how Katie
and da gang are pullin'
all the stoppers past nosey
coppers into a Jump-Jivin'January
of NOIRtorious Tales to behold:

   LINK delicious INFLUENCES of ~


Ian Ayris . . . and Absolutely*Kate so far . . . . 

Every-other-day cold crimes . . . jump-jiving January's New*Year NEW NOIR

Paul Brazill ... Kevin J Mackey ... Leon Jackson Davenport

Helen Howell ...  BR Stateham ... 

Luca Veste, on the record 'bout OFF THE RECORD

Sal Buttaci ... Julian Bramwell Slater ...  

Christina Vincent ... Charlie Wade ... 

Darren Sant ... Aidan Fritz ... Lily Childs ...  

Vic Watson ... Fiona Johnson ... Jack Bates ...

Thomas Pluck and the Lost Children benefit show

New Year, new NOIR, Publisher BLASTED HEATH

editor John Kenyonpublisher of GRIFT magazine

with stories of GRIMM TALES' greats 

Rex Pickett picks a surprise ... 

plus . . . return of our pally, the great Randisi ... 

AT THE BIJOU'S Harry B Sanderford ... Matthew Magda ...  

plus intermittent intermission pizazz by masters of the ceremonious ~ 
Kevin MadDog Michaels and Absolutely*Kate ... 

Why ~ Who knows who's getting into the act? . . . 
RAYMOND CHANDLER may be channeled! 


Jump-Jivin' January's New Year, New NOIR  AT THE BIJOU


Anonymous said...

Story's like the photo, a descent into endless darkness with no exit sign. Nice to know even a hitman can get the deep blues of regret going. Looking forward to another Miscandlon . . . when ever he writes it. I understand the gap. Last thing I did, before I started writing again four or five was a poem in Skin Diver Magazine back when print on paper was the only media.

Helen A. Howell said...

I loved the tone of the story, the essence of regret that lingered even after the deed. Thanks for a great performance— someone get me another box of popcorn, I may just read it all over again!

Leon Steelgrave said...

Photo, as ever, fantastic and a lovely atmospheric piece of writing - a perfect combination.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Another good one, Steve. You are truly a man of many talents. Really enjoyed the interview too. Looking forward to reading more n the fture as well. Rightous new cover for "Convictions" as well!

Paul D Brazill said...

Gig the vibe, dude! Ahem...great atmosphere.

Nigel Bird said...

I used to dream I was falling down the stairs in slow motion after a big jump. It always led to flying. Maybe that was from my name.
And it had to be the Ace Of Spades.

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Hmmm, curiousity of the Kate wishes to glean more of the Ace of Spades (both from Mr set-the-mood Miscandlon and noirtorious Nigel, with e'er an air of extra cards stashed up sleeves).

Steven, Steven, Steven, as a fellow designer, I surely understand how your supremely creative mind pursues photographic moments which capture spirit and purpose, or ... lead one on. Likewise, your teeming talents turned to helping the masses judge/choose the proverbial book by its classy cover (HURRAH for that, especially in the e-publishing disgust of dumbass covers turned out to pulsate a publisher's pocket - sorry, my soapbox. We all know who the GoodGuys who merit an author's worthy works are though. Thanks of goodness for them.) ... especially when it's more of a Morrigan, Julie Morrigan cover - How those SCREAM, "Cool stuff is waitin' to jump out at you!"

But geeeez oh man, man -- straight from your tight, taut telling tale ~ You ARE a contender. I called in Hitch for backup because your Noir'touches shadow-greyed how he creeps into psyche's edges. What deft touches dare the abyss, spiraling to the secrets of your profession TO BE REVEALED in your sequel - trustfully an AT THE BIJOU tale?? (What say ye?)

" A wisp of smoke lingers in the air, like a bitter memory." So too your tale, Mr Miscandlon. My Anticipation doth emanate.

~ Absolutely*Kate
and ritzy staff,

Author said...

Great story, great pics and a smashing showcase - what's not to like! And yes, Steven's covers are first class. Cracking stuff! :D

Anonymous said...

Great noir. Steven you are a hoot.
I loved the humor of the interview or was that modesty? LOL

Steven Miscandlon said...

Heartfelt but belated thanks for the kind comments, folks — very much appreciated.

Kate — if and when it gets written, and if you have space for it, I'll be sure At The Bijou gets first dibs.