R.H. Hugo has something to say: Entry #three

If Death is written on a whiteboard with an erasable marker, are you still dead?

Literati

Death is such a lively topic! R.H. Hugo proves it in his entry into our competition: A Thou$and Reasons to Write. We’re looking for stories that instantly pull us in and threaten us with sleepness nights turning pages.  The most successful submission to do this will win 1,000 bucks.

And guess what? We have fewer than 20 entries at the moment, so your odds of winning are pretty good. Send us exactly 1,000 words of your unpublished fiction manuscript, or poetry, memoir or screenplay.  Details easily found on the home page of www.awordwithyoupress.com

And help our website recover from the long winter of covid by sharing this post on FB and among your friends, and signing up for our newsfeed. Leave comments for each author and remember, when you submit your entry, we’ll include your bio and a link to your website as an excellent way to build your platform.

What’s your story?

Here’s one from R.H. Hugo.

COYOTES OF BEVERLY HILLS
By R. H. Hugo
August 2021

When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck…

– Paul Virilio

Many stories end in murder and some even begin that way.

This one does both.

It has taken until my thirty-fourth year to record the circumstancesof those crimes and it is my fervent wish that there may be something gained in the telling. As with most memoirs, it begins not at the beginning, but rather in the middle of things, where at the age of 33, I had cause to reconstruct my past.

I have died many times as a person on this planet and I remember each in great detail. Such as the time a number of years ago after I moved from South Carolina to New York and a rumor went about that I had perished aboard a downed commuter jet. I could imagine the hushed tones of those gathered in the faculty room as they supposed what might have become of my corpse. Had this fine Harvard-educated literature professor ended up a pale, waterlogged nigga floating face up in the marshes along the Jersey
shore? Or burnt from black to white ash in a smoldering pit where the fuselage had cremated all of its passengers on site?

Then there was the time I was accused, tried, sentenced, and hanged – all under cover of a private country club membership agreement – the “hanging” of course being metaphorical. I was simply disinvited from participating due to suspicion that I had
tried to approach a married (and coincidentally, white) woman with lecherous intent. I was never seen again.

My third death came at the hands of my sister Lola, who suddenly stopped speaking to me for no obvious reason. As children we had been rather close despite the distance in our ages, but when she was in her mid-forties, Lola decided that all black men were a
scourge and I myself being one of them, was included in the general assassination.

Finally, last August I suffered a lapse of mental capacity brought about by some mysterious and undetectable illness, in which all of my memories, the good and the bad, simply vanished overnight. In time, the illness would be identified as a rare virus, but on wakening the following morning to find that all the details of my life had been
lost, I suffered a shock as much as if I were to have woken up dead.

This last death was the hardest to get over and I wallowed in self-pity for many months. I tried all sort of remedies and came to no satisfaction with any of them. No matter what I did, my first thirty-three years were a mystery to me and I began to face the task of having to recover all the evidence of my life from other sources. I set about to talk to all those I had ever lived with or worked with, people who’d show up in my contacts list or my phone, those I’d meet in the market who’d recognize me and say hello (there were a few.) Over six months of recovery and a sabbatical from my teaching position I was able to piece together in reverse order, the years of my early life. My mother had passed the previous
summer leaving me without her memory to fall back on so I consulted with my sisters and one by one, they told me facts about my childhood, about living on Cranston Blvd,and how I lost my dad when I was six. I learned as I pored over journals and emails and

***

What a tease! We offer each author an opportunity to link to their website, and we request a synopsis of their novel. R.H. remains a bit aloof, so let’s just let the submission speak for itself.  Did it get your attention?  It got mine.

“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”   (you know who!)

3 comments

  1. Miryam Howard-Meier says:

    Very intriguing style of grasping the readers attention!!! Leaves me in wonderment.
    I appreciate your ability to portray this interesting process. Although the reader is following along by faith, the writer seems to know exactly where they are going.
    Thank you R.H.Hugo for joining the submissions. I look forward to reading more.

  2. Jon Tobias says:

    I like the metaphor for the different ways a person can die. Sometimes it happens in the minds of others while it can also happen in the mind of the self. Then there’s the question of the narrator rediscovering himself through other people’s memories. A very thought provoking mystery.

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