Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Laurel Amatangelo

For me, it was one of those moments in time when everything froze, crystalizing into memory. I was on the floor, on my knees, moving to cover my head.

Above me, a window was in the process of exploding inward, shattered by a canister of tear gas. There was a terrible banging coming from the door, rattling it so hard it seemed ready to burst apart.

Across the room, one of the Invaders was helping pull my mother and sister out of the living room as another fired a shotgun wildly out the window at the police.

It was the Invaders that had brought us here. They said they were going to do what the pig’s corrupt, racist housing authority refused to do: put a roof over our heads. They moved us into an unused housing authority building, got us beds, got the water working again.

The papers called the Invaders militant negro thugs. Momma called them saviors. The Invaders said they just wanted to illuminate the world to the plight of the black and poor in America.

But as the room filled with rotten-egg color smoke that burned my eyes, all I wanted was a place to sleep.

Memphis Note
The Memphis Invaders was a local answer to the national Black Panther Party. They were militant where other civil rights organizations were peaceful, unafraid of conflict, sometimes violent, with police. Such was the case in the late 1960s when they took over a Memphis Housing Authority building and gave it over to families that had been languishing in MHA bureaucracy. When the police arrived to remove them, things went downhill fast.

Jamie Elkington

“Wait a second, Mom, you’re keeping them where?”

She drained the last of his coffee and got up from the table, making for the still-brewing pot. “Want more?”

She was evading the question. I’d seen it before. She’d let something slip, and there was still more to it. “Nuh-uh. You’re not getting out of this. Sit down.”

With a begrudging sigh she dropped back into the chair.

“Darling, you know he wanted to be cremated. He was too claustrophobic to spend the rest of eternity buried under a mound of dirt. I’m just carrying out his final wishes.”

“I know that, but that still doesn’t explain why you’re keeping them there and not, say, I don’t know, on the mantle or in a shoebox or something?”

She looked aghast at the thought of putting her husbands’s ashes into a shoebox.

“There’s more to it than just that. You see, he wanted to be mixed in with the charcoal during a summer barbecue”.

“You’re keeping Dad’s ashes in the back of the fridge because he wanted to be added to a barbecue?” Now I was aghast.

“Well, yes, dear, isn’t there where you’re supposed to keep things for cooking?”

Memphis Note
I know of people that have been buried in Memphis Tiger blue and Elvis outfits. The idea of someone from the barbecue capital of the world wanting their ashes scattered in the way I listed above wouldn’t even make me bat an eye.

Caroline Mitchell Carrico

“What the hell, Mike?!” I was livid. “That was a very important conversation with some very important people you just interrupted.”

It was chilly out on the terrance, the noise of the party inside permeated the walls behind them.

“I’m sure it was electrifying, but it’ll have to wait.” He dug a cigarette from a crumpled pack and lit it. “How much do you know about history? Egyptian, specifically.”

Oh god, I thought, he’s been drinking. “Why would I know anything about Egyptian history?”

He shrugged. “Figured you might, seeing as this town is named for a dead Egyptian city and all. Did you know when a new king came to power back then, they’d go around chiseling out the names of people they didn’t like? They’d even pull the heads off their rival’s statues. All out of spite.”

“What does any of that have to do with me, Mike?”

The cigarette hung from his lips, burning.

“They just unsealed a whole bunch of indictments. You’re name’s on a lot of them.” He dropped his cigarette and stomped it out. “There’s a new king, and he’s looking to chisel out some names and take a few heads.

“Happy birthday, Senator.”

Memphis Note
I’m sure at some point in Memphis history, some one’s made the connection between pharaohs wiping out the historic records of their predecessors and a similar activity here in Memphis. If not, I suggest one of you get on that post haste.

Alpha Newberry

The portrait photograph over the fireplace glowered down at her, and she chased a handful of pills with a swallow of scotch.

“Shut up, old man.”

The picture did nothing, unmoved by her protestations.

“I told you to shut up!” She screamed at it, hurling her glass and the unflinching visage of her father. It shattered against the plexiglass covering the photograph. This was not her first such outburst.

Collapsing to the floor, she started to whimper.

“I did what you wanted, I got revenge on them for what they did to Joe. I got his seat. You said that was enough!” She doubled over, howling, scraping her nails along the wooden floor, leaving rough claw marks in the wood.

The portrait above the fireplace remained silent.

“Twenty votes was enough!” Growling, angry, she thrust her head up, fire burned in her eyes. “I’m a state senator now! You can’t talk to me like that. I won’t be bullied by you anymore!”

She furrowed her brown and cocked her head to the side, like she was having trouble hearing something. “What? What did you say? You’re getting quiet. Why can’t you speak up?”

The antipsychotics were starting to kick in.

Memphis Note
This may or may not have been inspired by our local state senator from a rather large family that is heavily involved in Memphis politics and her rather public separations from reality and love of a good drink. May or may not be, mind you.

Sherry Whitten

Carlos spit on the blacktop. The saliva sizzled.

“Whoooweee,” whistled his friend Hector. They were both languishing against an ancient oak, avoiding the sweltering heat in the shade of its expanse, watching their construction foreman and a pasty man in a suit argue. Hector took off his hard hat and wiped the sweat from his brow. “I swear it never got this hot back home, Carlos.”

“Probably because it didn’t. Least not with this kind of humidity.” He trailed off at the end, as the foreman looked like he was about to hit the man in the suit. “I think it happening again.”

“Aw, what? No!” Hector looked up and scuffed the dirt with the heel of his boot. The two arguing men walked to separate cars and drove off. “Not again.”

That was the third time in the last two months they’d had a job shut down on them. The American economy was falling apart, nothing was being built any more.

“I’m getting sick of this, man. We spend a week on a job, and it ends up costing us money.”

“That’s because you drink expensive tequila,” Carlos laughed.

Hector frowned at him. “Man’s got to have some standards.”

Memphis Note
On the whole, Memphis officials have been unwilling to actively pursue undocumented immigrants in the area. Which lead to a booming hispanic population over the last twenty years. Unfortunately, as the housing boom ended and the bubble burst, most of the jobs the immigrants relied upon disappeared, and so did a large number of them, leaving a void that is only now beginning to refill.