Memphis Fast Fiction Home
30.06.2011
bifurcated
Scott Brown

The general looked down from his open office window at the Irving Block prison in disgust.

An enlisted man was embarrassingly drunk in the yard below. Through a series of overly loud protestations, he was attempting to convince his commanding officer otherwise. These being what had drawn the general to the window in the first place.

“What an absolute disgrace,” He grumbled back to his staff. “Everyday the whole of my troop is bifurcated between the sober and the drunk. I’m left at half force at any given moment.”

He shut the window and turned back to the half dozen officers gathered in his office.

“These are the fighting men sent here to ensure the future of the union, and they’re more of a threat to this city than any rebel raid or negro riot. Something must be done.”

The officers looked at each other, knowing anyone might get stuck with the responsibility if they opened their mouth.

“At my father’s factory, he forbade any man under his employ to drink.” Said a young, unaware officer. “To keep productivity up.”

“Then that’s just what you’ll do.”

“Sir?” Responded the officer, suddenly aware of his blunder.

“You’ll keep them from drinking.”

Memphis Note
After the Union occupation of Memphis during the Civil War, there wasn’t a whole lot for the troops to do. The city was concerned with keeping up trade and normal life, plus most of the Confederate loyalists had fled before the occupation. So, the soldiers found another way to occupy themselves. They drank. Oh, God, did they drink. They drank so much that beer was banned, and then the sale of any spirits. For most of the occupation, Memphis was a dry town. Which, interestingly enough, this was remarked to be one of the safest periods in Memphis history.

29.06.2011
antenna
Scott Brown

He scraped his fingernails across the flecking paint of the concrete walls, like they were a long lost lover’s back.

“You know, this place might be the most important, longest lived, absolute disaster in Memphis music history.” McGehee said aloud. The balding, impatient building manager was the only other person with him. Those words weren’t for him, though. They were McGehee’s eulogy for the dead and rotting Antenna Club.

“If you took a track from every band that every played that stage, you’d probably have the greatest mix tape in, well, ever.”

“I don’t know ‘bout all that.” Shrugged the building manager, unconvinced. “I’m more of a country guy. That punk stuff just sounds like noise to me.”

McGehee looked back at him with a devilish grin. “We had country. Rap, too. Anything that was worth a damn, we booked. For fifteen long, smokey, hungover, bloodshot years, the cultural heart of America beat in this room.”

“If this place is so important, why’re you shuttin’ it down?” There was a mocking tone in the man’s voice that was impossible to miss.

McGehee grabbed his black leather jacket from the back of a bar stool. “It just went sour, that’s all.”

Memphis Note
The Antenna Club opened in the early 80s as a venue to cater to the burgeoning punk scene. It became a regional fixture for touring acts in the years that following, blossoming into the sort of place where bands that are now legendary would cut their teeth. But, nothing lasts forever. When the crowds dwindled, the Antenna Club was forced to shut its doors in the mid-90s. It is fondly remembered with regular reunion shows at various local clubs, including one that occupies the same space the Antenna once did.

28.06.2011
summer
Caroline Mitchell

“Hello?” She asked into the dark.

Something in the back of the cluttered shop made a noise; shifting in the shadow, sending a mess of junk showering down to the floor in a great din.

“Whaddaya want?” Bellowed a shrill voice from the endless refuse.

“I…I’m here to apply for the internship?”

“What?” The voice shouted back immediately. “What’s that?”

“The summer internship.” She called in return. “For the Delta Dirt Museum?”

More junk rattled as something moved around out of view. “And just why would you be asking about that?”

“I figured it must be something special. You didn’t have an email address or a website or a phone number or…well…anything.” Her voice trailed off at the end realizing the desperation she was admitting to.

“Electrons. Hrmph. Hurt my teeth.” Said the strange gopher man as he popped into view. “But, determination. That, well, that is something special.”

“I hear it’s not really dirt in your museum. Well, not literal dirt, but metaphorical dirt. Secrets, and things like that. Unfettered truth.”

He slunk out of view, and there was a pause. “And why would you want that?”

“Because,” she called back, “It gets too easily buried.”

Memphis Note
There is no greater truth to life in Memphis than if you weren’t there to witness and testify to something happening, than it absolutely, under no circumstances, did it happen. Which, of course, makes any sort of museum keeping an absolute nightmare. Beyond the physical record, there is barely any personal truth to be had. We’re just all too good at telling circumspect reality.

27.06.2011
honeysuckle
Scott Brown

As he crouched in the overgrown hollow, bramble thorns pulling at his clothes, he thought his first bank robbery had not gone off as well as he’d hoped.

Which didn’t much make sense to him. He’d been sure to sign up with the best crew in the South. Billy Ray Dawson and his boys were legends amongst folks like him that didn’t cotton to a nine-to-five sort of life. And he was lucky enough to get in on their thirtieth heist, which was as near a sure thing as he could hope for.

But, nope, it had most definitely not been a sure thing. Which he was reminded of as the fellow next to him hissed out “Dogs! They’ve got dogs!”.

He swore, a lot. He didn’t like dogs. Well, he liked dogs you owned, the domestic, love-you-no-matter-what kind. Police dogs were an entirely different kind, more of a pain-on-four-legs kind.

He took a deep breath, and made sure to remember that note of honeysuckle on the breeze. ‘Cause there weren’t no way he’s gettin’ his face chewed off by a police dog, so he’d best get himself right for prison.

Memphis Note
Billy Ray Dawson and his gang were an anachronism. They were the sort of bank robbers you expected to be from the Old West, robbing bank after bank in every state within a day’s drive. The Memphis job was their thirtieth and final one. The police and FBI stayed with them as they tried to get away, ultimately cornering the gang in some local woods before flushing them out with dogs and gunfire.

26.06.2011
smell
Jonathan McCarver

He held up the unopened can of beer and glowered at it.

“You’re the reason everything’s gone to hell.”

It was late, and he was the last one in the brewery’s offices. By all rights, he should’ve gone home hours ago. He couldn’t face his family, not when everything was falling apart.

“No one wants bottles any more. They want something they can crush, then hurriedly toss away like trash before it gets a smell. They want something to make them happy now but not remind them of how many they had come morning.”

He set the beer down on his desk, pulled open a drawer, and started rooting around in it.

“We were set up for bottling. But, everyone wants cans now. So, we retooled the whole assembly line to make you. God, was that a disaster. No one cares about you anywhere else, you just sit on shelves gathering dust. Ah, there it is.”

The metal of the flat top can opener glinted in the lamplight, like a murderer’s knife. He closed the drawer and looked back at the can.

“You’re ruined me, you see. And now I’m going to take my revenge.

“I’m going to drink you.”

Memphis Note
The Tennessee Brewing Company was one of the largest breweries of its time when it was opened in the late 1800s. It prospered up until Prohibition, when it was shut down. Its doors were reopened after The Great Experiment ended, the brewery re-opened, and for a time business was good. Unfortunately, the transition to metal cans and a narrowing regional market proved to be too much for the company to handle. The company and its magnificent building were shuttered in 1954.