The Horror Zine
In Memory of Hugh Fox

In memory of

Hugh Fox

who passed away on September 4, 2011

Hugh Fox

The story below was published in The Horror Zine in February 2010


by Hugh Fox


He wasn’t even sure about the language he was thinking in.

Where was he? An alley.

Oh, the head…he touched his forehead, a big sore lump, some little blood on his hand. Hmmm…some kind of alley, parked cars and traffic half a block down, cold, deep-down voices trying to tell him where/what city he was in, but he couldn’t hear them, didn’t even know who he was or what he had been doing before whatever happened had happened.

Who was he?

He realized he was old, so it wasn’t easy to get up. A heavy black winter coat on, he reached into the pockets. Nothing. A jacket on underneath, two words coming into his mind: Harris Tweed. Well, not much help, but it was a start.

Thirsty, he walked down toward the light at the end of the alley, that’s what it was, and looking up, more words came: L-Tracks, L-Train; oh the L-Train, he knew that one. It meant elevated, but he didn’t know how he knew.

Reaching into his tweed jacket, suddenly remembering where he kept his wallet, buttoned in; Harris Tweed jackets always had inside pocket buttons, anticipating real-worlds in real-time.

Down to the alley-end, there was a little old woman with white hair that looked like a wig; brown hat with a little around-the-hair veil, cane, fur coat, looking classy. He reached out to her, surprised that he could speak. “Listen…”

“No listening! I know what’s coming!” the old woman cried, lifting up the cane like a sword and then she ran back to the street; there were lights and more people, and everyone seemed amazed at her alacrity and grace, as if an old crippled lady was some sort of role she was stage-playing.

As he followed the old lady towards the light, not really following her, the real-world slowly came back to him, and suddenly he knew that he was in downtown Chicago. He remembered that he’d been to a play at Roosevelt University, Ganz Hall, and the play had been called Ah, Something Or Other by Eugene O’Something-Or-Other. He remembered
dinner before at this gourmetish artsyish cafe on Michigan Avenue by the Fine Arts Building…some kind of Lebanese wraps, falafal and rootbeer (non-caffeine) to drink…and she shared the wrap with…


Who…for a moment he was blank once again, like turning on the radio and some symphony comes on and he could conduct it, play it, but couldn’t remember the name of the song. Not like the old days when his memory would pull up anything and everything…three notes and…zoom…up would come the file: Debussy’s Le Mar or Silbelius’ Finlandia…fin…finito; his memory, his soul…finished? Why not just coffin him, arsenic him, put the coffin-cover on and bury him? Isn’t an early painminimized
death better than ancient dragging it out down corridors of prickly spines and gargoyle bites?

Her, her, her…

Ah, remembering her back some fifty years earlier, Soubrette Weiss, that almond-butter face and butter-butter hair, “Ich bin nicht von Deutschland, aber meine Vater/I’m not from Germany, but my father…” always loving the second or even third generations from old Slavic-German Europe just as long as they didn’t lose the primordial, beginning-of-creation. Past, all the old shoes and belts and mugs and foods and languages, Ich
bin, Ich bin, Ich bin. It was an incarnate history that had taken millennia to create.

A millennia to create, and lost in a single day’s loss of memory.

Down to a lit-up street now. It wasn’t Randolph…or Washington, or Dearborn, or State…

Lots of little stores, bars, people, everyone looking at him and shying away, backing away, and then there was one young Soubrette-looking blonde that he approached as she was walking toward him. He yelled at her, “What am I, some kind of gargoyle from outer space?”

Screaming, running. And then came her husband/boyfriend, grabbing him.

“You better get buried soon. You want any help to get there?”

Je suit prêt pour toutes/I’m ready for everything.” Was he a Frenchman?

The tall, mustached, old-fashioned, fedora-hatted guy with a dark red tie let him go, him falling down, and then an old lady came up to him, a different old lady from the first one, asking in a delicate papier-maché voice, “I’ve got a cell phone, do you want me to call 911…get the police…an ambulance…”

Struggling to his feet. What came out of his mouth was, “Nah, I’m immortal. This is my twenty-fifth incarnation.”

The old lady gaped at him, not sure she heard right, not sure of him now. And he imagined how she must have been seventy years earlier, a real putain-whore, the voices inside him whispering, What are you doing here in the first place, why aren’t you in Helsinki or Oslo? Why not Scandinavian prosperity instead of dissolving ice in the middle of the Kalahari Desert?

And he started wondering: when one gets reincarnated, why here, of all the places for The Powers That Aren’t to choose.

“My fortieth!” she smiled, an amazing delicate Limoges smile; standing, still smiling, as if she wanted him to ask her for a latté and some biscotti.

“Your first half!” he cried in delight, suddenly loving her, wanting her; this was what it was all about, wasn’t it, pairing up with l’histoire?

But what the old woman said was, “I wish! It’s my fortieth wedding anniversary. But it’s more like ninety percent of my life gone, gone, gone, never to come back. My husband is dead, and I will soon be dead too.”

She suddenly saddened and turned (slowly), one last smile, a blown kiss, “Well, if you’re sure you can make it.”

Sans toi avec dificulté/ Without you, only with difficulty.”

A little teary-eyed but still turning, she went back on her way. To where? To whom? He bet she had a son, daughter, and grandkids living within a few blocks of where they were standing. Repopulating, first time populating downtown-centrism. Still one last wave, and then she was gone. Nice ankles for an old gal.

He loved nice ankles. They were the planks that led up to the center of the soul-altar. So crazy to have tried to turn priests into celibates when all we were was rabid rabbits. Male-female priests, why not couple-priests, couple-Rabbis, forget God the Father or God the Mother, turn IT into God the Star-Maker.

Walking east now, toward the lake, no inner voices, but inner instincts, knowing where he was going, his right hand going into his right pants pocket and pulling out keys.

Everyone ignoring him now. Too busy. Too late. Just another street bum.

The whole town, at least forty percent of it, were turning into street bums, and then out there beyond town, there were farm bums…which brought back another memory: loving, having loved all those rides in the country in the old days, every day after work down at the Tribune, and especially on weekends, up to Michigan, along the lake, man, Holland,
they were something, the Dutch, and the Deutsche…old days, old ways, hardly a way at all now…

Passing the Fine Arts Buildings, and there was a new cafe, Slavonica. He wanted to go in and try it, so he looked in his pocket for money, expecting none; instead finding two twenty dollar bills.

He looked up at the new-moon sky, screaming out, “My life, where the fuck are you?” Was he American?

An older guy, even older than him, lifted up yet another cane as if to conk him, screaming back at him even louder than he had screamed. “You wanna end up in Guantanamo, wherever the fuck that is?”

Ignoring that, he didn’t go into Slavonica, because suddenly his inner voices were whispering to him: “Es ist Zeit nach Hause zu gehen/Time to go home.”

Home, heim, Heimzt zu. Was he German?

Another two blocks down.

He waved to this Sayonara-Japanese girl with high-heeled black suede boots and a black suede coat, hair like black palms blowing back in the wind. He told her, “Namaste!

“I beg your pardon?” she asked, then turned away as she caught a look at his beet-beat-brick forehead. She rushed on her way, not looking back.

Namaste/I bow to you. Was he Japanese?

He’d bow down all right, bow down between her black mole legs…spend the winter underground with her in their lair…lore…

Finally he found himself arriving at the historical (1912) apartment house: The Towers. Although really, there was only one tower left, the other having been torn down fifty years back when he was a young gander.

The key worked. He was in. No one around in the lobby, which pleased him, although…why should other presences bother him? Was he guilty? Of what?

Over to the elevator. Floor 13. Which also had always bothered him.

Like the thirteenth of every-every month, he always expected demon dirigibles to be flying over him, shattering him with cannibal claws, or sidewalks to collapse, or for someone to step out of an alleyway and shoot him for fun, ein, zwei, bang, smile…

“Calm down! Tutti va bene/Everything’s okay.” Was he Italian?

Invisible God-hands began patting-caressing the feathers of his anxieties and he calmed down as he got off the elevator on the thirteenth floor and walked down to his/their apartment and opened the door.

Lights were on.

No music, though. She was usually playing some Debussy or Dvorak CD, thanks to his years of culturally immersing her in everything he himself loved.

“Cassie!” he called. “Cassandra!”

No answer.

Out with some other guy? A doctor’s appointment. That German doctor on the fourteenth floor who always kidded them when he’d see them in the elevator or lobby, “Just because I’m one floor up doesn’t mean I’m closer to God. Maybe holier as in full of holes.”

Doctor Unfunny.

Going into their bedroom. Turning the light on, expecting her to be on the bed napping, always tired these days, both of them, now that they were in their upper seventies, so very old, always remembering his old pal Menke Katz saying “Make it to eighty, maybe eighty-five, but then get off the train.” And Katz died at eighty-five. He’d always thought that it might have been self-induced, because Katz was such a maniacal specialist
on medical everythings.

But she wasn’t on the bed but on the floor. Out. But more than OUT, she was katzed into permanent Rest in Nothing; something wrong with her throat. At first he idiotically thought it was lipstick, but it was blood, dried, a cut across her throat, no, not “across,” but very specifically into major arteries/veins, and a baseball bat on the floor next to her hands, a splotch of something on the bat itself. And all that silly muscle-dynamics she had went through on alternative Wednesday afternoons, what good was it now?

And looking at the baseball bat lying on the floor, he was surrealistically connecting the bat and his head, trying to plunge back into the last twenty-four hours: two sudden horrible stabs in his shoulder and a connection from the bat to his head, was that what he was seeing right now? So that was why he couldn’t remember things: he had been hit on
the head with the bat.

Stepping over the very dead Cassandra, he went into the bathroom to relieve himself, and then slowly he was filled with a sense of starving hunger. Looking in the mirror…maybe just a quick shower, a shave, and then maybe he ought to go down to Michael Reese hospital about his shoulder wounds if they hadn’t torn it down already.

Suddenly he remembered something, and said out loud to no one, to dead Cassandra, to the lifeless apartment: “I own this apartment, our car, your toenails and pitiful styles. I wasn’t a plastic surgeon this time around for nothing, and don’t forget my all-star stock-market investments I made for you, and now that they’re gone, I’m still the King of Istanbul and don’t you forget it.”

He placed her into the hugest of possible beds, the softest of possible mattresses, so it were as if they were in a sea of dreams instead of in a real bed in real time.

“I love you. C’est Nous/It’s us!”

And afterwards, a couple of slices of ham, some caraway-seed, toughguy rye with a little Dijon mustard, some Brazilian beer, and then into the dining room, he had his back to the living room so he wouldn’t have to face the not-so-bella Lugosi.

Sitting down at the huge Victorian dining room table filled with silver candlesticks, he got out of his chair and bent down, groaning from the movement, getting down onto the floor.

He began pulling a body out from under the table.

It was him, Fourteenth Floor, Doctor Unfunny, Doctor Doom, Doctor Durningham. With a concentration on the ham.

When his angel had divorced him, she’d given him nothing. She was the one who had inherited all her fortunes from her father and her (never married) uncle George, and he had never forgiven her: “How can you do this to me, for God’s sake, all our years together, just because you never understood my special leanings. I was an Anglo-Saxon-Viking! And now that the economic downturn has turned me down with it, you changed your mind. I don’t know why you ever wanted to mess about with that doctor in the first place. So he’s handy with words and ideas? But a podiatrist, for God’s sake! Where once I was a nobleman, a duke, and a king of all England!”

And she’d answered him, “That’s precisely the idea, it’s for God’s sake, certainly not for yours.”

Barely able to pull the doctor out from underneath the table, yeah, he’d suffer later, his ribs and shoulders, every time he strained himself doing anything, there was suffering later; all kinds of sternum pains that at one time he had thought were heart problems until he went and had all the necessary stress tests and EKG’s and was told, “It’s not the heart,
my friend, but antiquity. Get used to it.”

But he was getting the doctor out anyhow. He wanted a look at him.

The good doctor’s face was all banged in, his nose, eyes, a broken chair leg clutched in one hand, and blood on one side towards the end, where the leg went into the chair itself.

Trying to create/remember the connections between Cassandra’s massacred neck, his own forehead battering and the dead man on the floor, slowly the whole scenario began coming back in silent film fragments…

And then he crawled over to the phone and dialed 909. No, wait, that wasn’t it, wasn’t it 911, yes, 911; call Heaven, call Hell…

And then to disappear into another life where he didn’t have to be seventy years old any more. He’d only spent so long in this life because of Cassandra. And now Cassandra was gone, so it was time to move on.

Another incarnate, who shall he be this go-around? Who?




























Hugh Fox contributed to The Horror Zine twice.

We published the last story he ever wrote titled Les Jambs in June 2011

Read Les Jambs HERE

See Hugh in Wikipedia HERE

About Hugh Fox:

When you whisper "small press" in the ears of many 60's era poets and publishers, one of the first responses you will get is "Hugh Fox." Fox was a founding board member of the Pushcart Prize, a publisher of a well-regarded avant-garde literary magazine Ghost Dance. Hugh was a reviewer of thousand of chapbooks, magazines and books, and the author of the first critical study of Charles Bukowski. In his memoir of the small press movement, Way, Way off the Road, Fox quotes Charles Plymell, a City Lights-published jazz poet and the first printer of ZAP Comics:

"... the generation that came after the Beats, was overpowered by the Beats themselves. All that media hype. My god, the media fell in love with them. They were practically rock stars. And the post-Beats, the Hippie-Yippies, whatever you want to call them, were lost in the Beat's shadow. They were and still are invisible!"

Hugh Fox was born in Chicago in 1932. He contracted polio at age 4, but was cured by a pre-Saulk experimental medicine that worked. Hugh finished four years of pre-med and a year of medicine, then got an M.A. at Loyola in Chicago and a Ph.D. in English/American Literature at the University of Illinois. Hugh moved to Los Angeles where he taught for ten years at Loyola-Marymount University.

Hugh Fox has been nominated for a Pultizer Prize in 2010.

You can see more about Hugh Fox at these links:

Hugh Fox Obit photo

Hugh Bernard Fox, Jr., Phd. East Lansing Born February 12, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois to the Late Hugh B. Fox and Helen (Mangan) died on Sunday, September 4, 2011 at the age of 79. Hugh was Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University having taught in the department of American Thought and Language. He was a poet and writer having over 200 novels published. Surviving are his wife of 23 years, Dr. Maria Costa-Fox; six children, Hugh B. Fox, III, Cecilia Fox, Marcella (Kevin Brown) Fox, Margaret Sadock, Alexandra E. (Ray Barker) Fox, and Christopher Fox; four grandchildren, Gabrielle Brown, Rebecca Sadock, Alexander Sadock, and Beatrice Barker; as well as many extended family members. The funeral service was held at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at Congregation Shaarey Zedek, 1924 Coolidge Rd., East Lansing with Rabbi Amy Bigman officiating. Interment followed at Evergreen Cemetery. Those who wish may make memorial contributions to the Congregation Shaarey Zedek Music Fund. Arrangements by the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel.