Deadly Pedigree - By Jimmy Fox


Murder has a family tree. Its ancestors and descendents are causes and consequences. Every act of murder gives birth to an eternal bond, spanning countless unwitting generations, scorning the limits of mortal time. This bond, this spawn of murder, instantly and forever alters all that has passed, all yet to be, insatiably reaching across the ages to lock events and individuals together in unbreakable, deadly kinship.

The frail man slowly pulling himself up the stairs needed no words to comprehend this truth. He heard, always, in every tongue devised by man, the weeping of the dead, without number, to confirm it. Language was irrelevant, impotent to express what he knew with every cell of his being, what it meant to be a member of this fatal family.

The stairway was steep, and nearly as hot and muggy as the New Orleans summer afternoon outside. The old man touched his chest and stomach alternately, as if not sure where the pain was worse. Sweat covered his blanched face. He clung to the handrail for support. His breath came short and shallow.

More than once the old man froze after ascending a few steps and covered his face with trembling hands.

Darkness. Cannot breathe! Is it the grave, so often escaped? Those voices, long ago. The same today, but different. Were they not utterly destroyed? Do they yet live? Yes. They rise up from the blood they spill. Black rivers, oceans of blood, pressing down upon me now.

“Let up dude. You’re gonna kill him.”

“So? One less kike in the world. Big fuckin’ deal.”

“Give him some air, dude. Old man, can you hear? You gonna stop what you been doin’? Hey, old man! Listen: keep your mouth shut, mind your own business, or we’ll be back.”

“Yeah, asshole. Next time we won’t use a fuckin’ pillow.”


Each time the terror assailed him, he shook off his fear and proceeded upward, drawing strength from a secret source.

Now, his chin set defiantly, his gaze fierce, he pushed up the left sleeve of his outdated but carefully preserved sport coat. His shirt cuff rode easily up his bone-thin forearm to reveal blue-green tattooed numbers.

“You think you have won again?” he said bitterly to the echoing staircase, as if to an old invisible adversary. “No, no! I will have the final victory. You will remember, you will all suffer. This time, this time it will be you.” He fastidiously rearranged his damp shirt, tie, and coat.

From an inside pocket he removed a slim, dimpled silver flask. He coughed and took a furtive swig. Then he smoothed the two clumps of white hair on either side of his fragile skull and resumed the struggle toward his destination.



New Orleans dances to its own addictive music, Nick Herald mused, as he angled the latest issue of the New Orleans phone book to catch the light from the windows along the east wall of his office. The Yellow Pages ad he’d placed was supposed to perk up his business. It wasn’t working.

There was an article somewhere under the debris on his desk, where his feet were propped, that said genealogy was fast becoming America’s favorite hobby, rivaling stamp collecting.

Not here, buddy! New Orleans–another world, another reality.

Clients were not exactly getting busy signals from his office phone, or lining up at his door, here in the Central Business District of the enigmatic city he had considered his home for the last fifteen years.

The ad had been a foolish waste of money, he now realized–more proof of his lack of commercial smarts. Despite the hyena pack of resentment that ate at his soul, he wished he were back in a familiar classroom at Freret University, preaching to uninterested undergrads the gospel of English literature. The paycheck had been regular.

“Can’t even see the damn thing,” he grumbled, squinting at the ad. Louisiana mosquitoes were bigger than the phone number and address. What a rip-off.



J. N. Herald, Certified Genealogist, Ph.D.

He looked up. One of these days, he would get around to changing those blown light bulbs. He refused to admit he was succumbing to failing eyesight, yet another symptom of encroaching middle age.

Sure, it was the bad light. He shifted the dozens of folders on his messy desk and found his drugstore reading glasses.

The ad, in better focus now, seemed to strike the proper dignified tone he’d wanted, even if it was too small. Lawyerly, doctorish. So what if it strained the nature of his set-up here? He ran a one-man operation, yes; but he could call on