Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Laurel Amatangelo

As the restraint came down over his head, Elvis tried to guess at the number of times he’d ridden Zippin Pippin. It had to be in the tens of thousands, but he was still enthused to go again every time it came to a stop.

The car crested the top of the ramp. Elvis could see sun starting to peak up over the horizon.

Down below, everyone one was long gone.

He’d rented out the park for the party and spent nearly all his time on the Pippin, ignoring everyone. The parties were just an excuse to stay up all night, he hadn’t been able to sleep properly in years.

The pills he took to wake up kept him up longer than he wanted to. If he took the pills they gave him to sleep, he’d need even more pills to wake up the next morning.

It was an endless roller coaster, just like the one he was on now. Every up lead to a gut-wrenching down. Every down lead to a neck-snapping up. And, just like the Zippin Pippin, it was one that he just couldn’t make himself walk away from, no matter how hard he tried.

Memphis Note
The Zippin Pippin was an all-wooden roller coaster built in Memphis in 1912. It was moved to what would become the Fairgrounds in the 20s, and then became one of the central attractions when Libertyland was built. It was Elvis’s favorite roller coaster, and he would sometimes rent out the whole park to ride it uninterrupted. Just a week before his death, he rented the park for a party and rode the Pippin from 1am to 7am.

Shane Adams

“I can make it stick!”

He’d said that louder than he’d intended to, and felt his courage desiccate into nothing as all the eyes in the FBI briefing room focused on him.

“Beg pardon, son?” Said the case lead at the front of the room, visibly displeased at being interrupted, especially by a junior agent.

“I can make it stick, sir. They’re going to slip because of a lack of evidence right?” He started talking faster, getting excited. “But that’s not true. We’ve got recordings of them threatening the banker and recordings of them from the interrogations.”

“So what? ‘Less you got some magic way to prove beyond a doubt that it wasn’t another fella with the same soundin’ voice, we’re just as screwed.”

“I do, actually. We can match voice patterns and intonations from both recordings, show physical evidence that the speaker in both is the same person.”

“You got papers to back you up? Experts to prove this isn’t some crock?”

“Wouldn’t bring it up if I didn’t, sir.”

“Good enough. I’ll see what the DA says. And son, how’d you know about all that sound crap?”

“We’re in Memphis, sir. I grew up in a recording studio.”

Memphis Note
In the 1970s the local FBI branch ran a case against a pair of bank extortionists. They had recordings of the criminals calling in the threats, and had arrested them picking up the payoff money. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough additional evidence to convict. Luckily, because of Memphis’s place in the recording world, they were able to tap local knowledge and develop a technique to match vocal patterns that was admissible in court. This technique is still used in legal cases to this day. This is probably the only occurrence in history of rock and roll actually stopping crime.

Justin McGregor

I brushed aside the flap of the tent. Inside, my friend and commanding officer, Isaac Guion, was scraping the dry nib of a feather pin across parchment.

“Don’t go wearing that out. Good good feathers are hard to come by out here.” I joked.

“What?” He asked, confused. “Oh. The pen. I was trying to figure out what to say in my report.”

“How about, ‘Spanish left, burned down fort, moved next door, still smell’? Accurate enough.”

Isaac gave me a disapproving frown. “The general would appreciate the brevity. The wit would be lost on him, though.”

“You were supposed to secure the eastern bank of the river, and you did it. Did it without firing a shot or getting anyone – me most of all – killed in the process.”

“Spanish are still here, though.”

“On their side of the river.” I reminded him, as I dug through his footlocker. “My father had a saying, ‘When in doubt, do the only reasonable thing. Drink tonight and worry about it in the morning.’”

I drug a bottle of bourbon from his things and pulled the cork out with my teeth.

“Wasn’t your father a minister?”

“Oh, yes. His church was very popular.”

Memphis Note
Isaac Guion was the commander of a contingent of US soldiers sent south from what is now present-day Cincinnati to claim the Spanish fort, Assumption, on the east banks of the Mississippi as property of the newly born United States of America. Problem being, the Spanish were still occupying the fort. To his surprise, when his force arrived on the Memphis bluffs, the fort was burned to the ground and the Spanish had fled across the river.

Alpha Newberry

The addict, crouched in a boarded up doorway half way up the street, eyed the two men warily. He probably wasn’t used to seeing people dressed this nicely in this part of town. Or anyone for that matter.

There was no reason to come down this way anymore. Beale was dead. The stores closed, the buildings boarded over, the music gone quiet. The birthplace of rock and roll was now a rotting corpse stinking up the rest of downtown.

One of the men kicked at a chunk of broken asphalt, mumbling to himself.

“I don’t know why you’re apprehensive about this.” Said the other man, an annoyed tone in his voice. “The City Council botched the last try at this so horribly, as long as the buildings don’t fall over we’ll be hailed as the saviors of downtown. We’ll be heroes.”

“And if we don’t pull this off, we’ll be ruined.” Responded his companion. “Just like all this.”

“C’mon. A little glitz and glam can go a long way toward fixing that. This place used to be a regular Sodom and Gomorrah. People want that again. They expect it. And we’ll be the ones collecting twenty percent when it does.”

Memphis Note
Beale Street has not always been the neon-lit and alcohol-fueled stretch we know today. For a large part of the 20th century, Beale was little more than a boarded up side street. The city bought the buildings in the 70s, but their attempt at urban renewal was an utter disaster. It wasn’t until the current management company took over in the early 80s that anything started to change for the better.

Steve Cook

When the sound woke me from sleep, I first thought it was thunder. But when it it did not cease, I leapt from bed to see what it was.

Out in the street, I was not the only one that had heard the noise or shared the notion to investigate. Sleepy citizens in their nightclothes blinked into the mist and pre-dawn light. The deep, resonant noise grew steadily louder. As I walked further into the street, my fathered called anxiously after me from the house.

All at once, a great host of men mounted on horseback galloped up the street. They did not stop for anything, sending animals and people, myself included, diving for the safety of the gutters. There must have been hundreds of them, thousands even.

They wore Confederate grey, which set some men to cheering for liberation and others to pelting them with rocks. One man took at shot at them with a rusty hunting rifle, and then another man shot him in the back with a pistol because of it.

It was at this juncture that I suddenly realized that I had no desire to die a virgin, and promptly retreated to my father’s house.

Memphis Note
Nathan Bedford Forrest’s raid on Memphis took place early on a late August morning during the later part of the Civil War. He lead 2000 mounted calvary into the city, challenging the 6000 man Union garrison. It was not an attempt to retake the city, but rather an attempt to harass Union forces, secure more supplies, gain intelligence and assassinate a few key targets. Nearly all of these goals were left unachieved, save for the supply run. The raid would be the last major military action in Memphis during the Civil War.