Memphis Fast Fiction Home
31.05.2011
slalom
Scout Anglin

Sweat was beading up on the back of her legs. She could feel her pores suffocating under the nylon hose, could feel herself suffocating inside the corset, could feel herself suffocating inside of her life.

Then without warning, that was suddenly it. That was all she was going to take.

She kicked her leg up over the door of the convertible Cadillac to get a breeze up her skirt.

“What the hell!” Her husband bellowed when he realized what she was doing.

Shrugging, she told him to shut it.

His jaw went slack, flabbergasted at her.

“Lynda, I swear, if you talk to me like that I’ll-”

She cut him off.

“You’ll just keep up your little slalom eastward on a street called north, but don’t worry about how off that is, because you’ll be to caught up to think about what happens next.

See, I know about all your girls. And I’ve finally had enough. I’m leaving you. And taking half of everything that’s yours.

I’m going to smoke, drink whiskey, dance with strange men, but more than that, I’m never going to wear these stupid clothes again.”

In the end, she wore the Cadillac better than he did.

Memphis Note
It has always bothered me that it is impossible to drive in the direction that the three parkways are named for. North and South Parkways only has east/west traffic, East Parkway only north/south. I realize this is because they were originally the northern, southern and eastern edges of the city proper, but it still bothers me.

30.05.2011
crossing
Scott Brown

Bored, I kicked my short legs against the back of the passenger seat in front of me.

“Mooooom! Make him stop!” My sister whined.

“Short round, you may be outta reach, but I’m at home all day with your toys. Bad things can happen.”

This was one of her regular threats. I called her on it once, and came home to find all my Batman toys sequestered to the top of the fridge.

I hadn’t tested her since.

“Don’t see why we have to go to stupid school anyway. Bobby Miller said there’s gonna be an earthquake. So did the man on the TV last night.”

“Well, if Bobby Miller’s anything like the man on TV, he’s an utter moron.”

That took me aback. Had my mother really just called the most popular kid in my grade an utter moron? I decided to try a different approach.

“But, no one’s gonna be there.”

“Perfect. Time to ask really deep questions.”

She stopped at the pedestrian crossing next to school and let us out.

“Hey, kids,” she shouted after us. “Just in case Bobby Miller’s not an utter moron, don’t forget to duck and cover!”

My mother was a strange woman.

Memphis Note
In 1990, Iben Browning predicted that the New Madrid Fault, to which Memphis is uncomfortably close, would experience an earthquake of a magnitude of about 7.0 on a certain day. Despite the fact that Browning had no credentials or experience to make a prediction like this, international media lept on the story, and set off a wildfire of public worry. Of course nothing happened, but, it didn’t stop the city from turning into a ghost town the day he predicted the earthquake to hit.

29.05.2011
tailgate
David Goodman

The truck next to his was something out of a nightmare. It was raised, taller than they were, with its back-end exploding into a mix of multiple axles, a widened bed, a horrible array of speakers and custom barbecue equipment from hell.

The speakers were booming, grills searing, and worst of all, they were flying ribbons of entirely the wrong team color.

“That is not how you tailgate.” He grumbled to his friends. “That’s how you offended people on a Sunday morning. Like takin’ a piss on the Bible.”

His two friends sat on the back of his very normal pickup truck. One belched.

The other asked, “So? What can you do about it?”

“Once the game starts, I’ll sneak out and let the air out of all of their tires.”

His two friends looked over at the tires and coughed, politely.

“Dude, there’s like eighteen freakin’ tires on that thing.”

“Yeah,” said the other one. “You’ll be out here for the rest of the game.”

He shrugged back at them. “Tigers are playin’ UT. Not like they stand a chance of winning.”

Fortunately, and unfortunately, he was wrong.

And what was worst, he only got through tire sixteen.

Memphis Note
It was 1996. The UT Vols lead by Payton Manning were set to head straight to a national championship. Then something impossible happen. The Volunteers were taken down by the Tigers. One of the absolute worst teams beat one of the absolute best. It became a moment Memphis sports fans will never forget, and UT fans will never live down.

pauperize
David Goodman

There were three certainties in Father McClarey’s life that were as immutable as his faith in the lord and savior.

First, that the Lucchesi twins would be the first trouble makers sent to him when school was in session. Next, that the hemlines of girl’s skirts rose at a rate directly proportional to the loudness of their music. And finally, that with in a week of the first cold night after summer, the Irish Travelers would return.

One November morning he would look up from his pulpit and there would be a slash of dark hair through his congregation, the telltale sign that the Travelers had come home.

They would suddenly be everywhere all at once. In his classrooms and at his masses, like it was nothing out of the ordinary to inject themselves back into his world now that their summer work had dried up.

He wasn’t deaf to the whispers that they were nothing more than conmen and grifters, out to pauperize everyone they came across. But, he wasn’t here to judge them. While the Irish Travelers were home, they were his flock to watch over.

At least until the summer returned and the Irish Travelers disappeared again.

Memphis Note
The Irish Travelers are often incorrectly called gypsies. But they are not. They lead a similar lifestyle, constantly moving on the edges of society, but are not Roma. Like their name suggests, they’re from Ireland. In Memphis, we’ve got our very own group of Travelers. They call themselves the Mississippi Travelers, and at peak, had over three hundred families in their group here.

27.05.2011
vibration
Brandon Dill

Hernando de Soto hated it here. It wasn’t the heat, the humidity, or even the incessant buzzing of the mosquitoes in his ears.

It was the embarrassment this place ceaselessly heaped upon him.

Against the Incas far to the south, he’d acquitted himself like a proper conquistador, earning the glory to launch this expedition into the northern continent.

But these wilds were nothing like the south. The vicious natives attacked his host at every turn, tearing into its sides, stripping away more with each successive raid.

After that last battle, that holocaust, had taken over a third of his men and left sixty score natives dead at their feet, he feared returning to his ships on the coast without the gold he’d set out to find.

Now the greatest embarrassment of all stretched out before him. A churning river more a mile wide, mocking de Soto with every eddy and piece of flotsam that floated past.

Each day, as his men worked to build rafts for the crossing, all he could do was watch the sun climb and fall, turning the sky purple before disappearing below.

Then wait for the vibration of the hostile drums that would last the night.

Memphis Note
The place where Hernando de Soto crossed the Mississippi River was the fourth bluff, where Memphis would later be founded. Sadly, de Soto never found his gold. He died of a fever on the opposite side of the Mississippi a just over a year after crossing, never making it out of Arkansas.