Memphis Fast Fiction Home
31.12.2011
silt
Zachary Whitten

The devil and I looked out across the Mississippi River.

He’d been after me for weeks, hounding me.

“There’s a whole country across that crap-brown river.” He said, a forked tongue darting in and out of his red lips. “A thousand places that are better than this, calling out to you. Just pick any one, and I’ll give you more than you ever imagined.”

“I’ll be honest, sir.” I was polite, my father taught me to be polite to anyone – even the assholes. “Anything more than what I can get here is more than I need. I wouldn’t know what to do with if it I had it.”

“But if you stay here, you might not amount to anything! Everything you worked for might be forgotten the second you die. You’ll be as inconsequential as a single fleck of silt in all of the Mississippi.”

This was new, and I considered it for a moment before answering him.

“I think you forget, sir, that silt built up the bluffs you’re standing on. And if that’s all I end up, I could ask for anything more. Because then I’ll know that I’ll always be a part of something I love.”

Memphis Note
This is the last story of this project. Number Three Hundred and Sixty Five. It is actually the first prompt submitted, too. I submitted it on November 15th, 2010, they day I put the earliest version of the website up. It was always my intent to write a story back to myself at the end of this, sort of to see where my head was at the end of this madness. Maybe to see if I’d have fallen out of love with this city once I’d found out how really broken it is. But, no. I think I love it more than I did before.

30.12.2011
night
Shawn Wolowicz

There is no home like the house on Willett I grew up in.

This might be an obvious statement, but it really was special.

You see, my house had monsters. And every night as I went to bed, we would go to war.

Shrieking banshees and clawing imps lived in the walls, tormenting me with their constant howling and scratching.

A werewolf made his nest in our attic, dragging his claws and dripping his slobber on the boards above my head.

Frankenstein’s monster lived in our basement, howling and rattling his chains every time he got too cold in the winter.

For years, I slept under my blankets, a flashlight my only protection against the things that went bump in the night.

But then I got older, and I started to help my father around the house.

I helped him fix the drafty mouse holes in our walls, to patch leaking, rattling pipes in our attic, to replace the antiquated furnace in the basement.

As I worked with my father, the monsters started to disappear, one at a time.

Then, one night, they weren’t there at all.

In that house on Willett, my father had taught me to slay monsters.

Memphis Note
Every house in Midtown Memphis has its own set of monsters. They are the unique noises old homes make that you can never quite decide if they are your pipes expanding…or something horrible living in your walls. I find children that survive these monsters to be of a heartier, more assured stock than those that grew up in monster-free homes.

28.12.2011
garage
Jen

He was hungover, blindingly so, and making his regular promises to never drink again.

“Professor, are you alright?” A blonde student in the front row called out, snapping him back to reality. A wave of vertigo hit as he looked out into the assembled faces of his Journalism 101 class.

“Why are you here?” he growled to the class.

“Professor?” The girl asked, confused.

“Simple question, goldilocks. Why. Are. You Here? Because I’ll tell you right now, most of you, if you’re lucky, will end up in PR or marketing or something marginally related to your degree. But the unlucky few of you will get a real journalism job with crap pay and worse hours and constant cutbacks at the only paper left in town.

“Sure, it’s got two Pulitzers. One from fighting the KKK almost a hundred years ago when it still gave a damn, and another one for the scribblings of a conservative jackass cartoonist. But now its filled with wire stories and shrinking column inches.

“Really, you’d be better off opening up an independent paper in your parent’s garage.”

He blinked in a moment of clarity.

“And now I know what your final project’s going to be.”

Memphis Note
As the market for printed news shrinks year after year, the Commercial Appeal, the historic local daily, is taking it from all sides. Journalists are getting fired, pages are getting cut, and more and more stories are coming from the newswire. What used to be a guiding voice in the culture of Western Tennessee is slowly but surely becoming obsolete.

20.12.2011
golden
Laurel

The ride to the airport had been the quietest one that she could ever remember. She tried turning on the radio only to have her husband flip it back off.

In the back, her daughter twisted her long, golden hair around her finger, and looked anywhere but at her father.

They were on the way to pick up her college boyfriend, he was coming to join them for the holidays.

It was only last night that she told them that he was black.

And it hadn’t gone over well with her husband. He’d said something inappropriate and narrow-minded, and their daughter had responded in kind.

“Don’t you call me racist!” He shouted at their daughter.

“Then don’t give me a reason to call you one.” She’d fired back, before storming into her room and slamming the door.

They hadn’t spoken since, and time was fast running out.

Her husband looked in the rear view mirror and cleared his throat. “Does he love you? Treat you right?”

“Dad, you raised me right.” She said, finally looking at him. “I wouldn’t be with him if he didn’t.”

That made him pause, then nod.

“Good. But he’s still sleeping on the couch.”

Memphis Note
It’s always a tricky thing living in a city like Memphis, a city where racial tension is felt by all, but buried just far enough under the surface so no one talks about it. And it can often surprise you when they’ll flare up. An educated man saying something stupid, a rich man being petty, a disapproving silence instead of a welcoming hello. Really, the only thing you can do is just make up for the idiots by being even more accepting of your fellow man.

17.12.2011
entangled
Laurel

“How hard do you think I’d have to pull to tear that skank’s weave out?” Chastity cooed evilly as she watched Prudence Du Pree take the runway for the evening gown part of the competition.

“Thinking of changing up your talent routine? I’m sure the judges would love to see you and Miss Plastic Tits get all entangled for their pleasure, if you know what I mean.” Said the girl that was checking Chastity’s dress for any errant strings or fluff.

“Chardonnay, you’re disgusting.”

“Can’t help it if I learned what you taught me,” she smirked. “Now get ready to walk. You’re up next.”

Prudence Du Pree swept back into the wings of the theatre, like some kind of vision of whipped pink sugar, glitter, rhinestones and butterfly wings. All the girls ooh’d and aah’d, congratulating her on looking so radiant.

Chardonnay and Chastity were the most complimentary of all.

Chastity took her mark, and waited for the announcer to call her name. “I’m going to leave that slut in a shallow grave, you just watch.”

“I’ll bring the shovel. Now go win this. You deserve to be Miss Memphis Princess.” Chardonnay whispered back as Chastity took to the runway.

Memphis Note
The Miss Memphis Princess pageant is the local preliminary to the Miss America pageant. It awards the girls with scholarship money and strives to teach them to values that will better the community. And, for the life of me, is something I’ll never not be creeped out by or have to make fun of.