Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Alpha Newberry

The band sets into it, and the crowd follows them along.

Well, everyone but me and that couple too busy making out to notice anything else.

What I see and hear turns my stomach. Privileged white kids freaking out to other privileged white kids badly covering old blues standards.

I’m done with them before they’re done with their first song.

“Not stickin’ around?” The doorman asks me as I break out into the cold night.

“Newspaper said they were blues. That ain’t blues.” I said with a growl.

“Sounds like it to me.” He replies, then quickly adds, “No refunds.”

I sigh, and turn to him, something inside me snapping.

“The blues is a duet between a man and his pain. A man’s fingers might be on the strings of a guitar, and the voice in his throat, but it’s the pain that’s makin’ the music.” I jab my finger toward the venue. “Those ain’t men, and they sure as hell ain’t never known pain, not any real pain.”

He stares at me blankly, obviously not expecting that kind of response. We shrug at each other as he goes back to checking IDs as I walk off into the dark.

Memphis Note
Every few years a group of middle class white kids will discover the blues and get some attention about how they’ve updated the genre for the modern audience. But none of them ever get it quite right, there’s always something missing. Which is why we still revere the name of Robert Johnson, but can’t remember the names of bands like this at all.

Matt Farr

The neighborhood kids called him Blackfoot.

Initially, it was supposed to have been a jibe about how filthy his feet were, but Blackfoot took to it like a pig to stink, going so far as to cover himself with warpaint and stick feathers in his hair.

They weren’t eagle feathers like real Indians had, of course. These were much smaller, from robins or blue jays that lived in the neighborhood.

Fully resplendent in his war gear, Blackfoot was the sort of child that others parents looked at as a harbinger of their own child’s descent into savagery.

Sometimes the other kids would invite him to play Cowboys and Indians with them because he could be a better Indian than any of them. Blackfoot always felt a special joy when he was allowed to play with them, even if the rest of the children were trying to shoot him.

Then the two men from protective services knocked on his door one day, asking to speak to his parents. His mother cried a lot when they pointed at him. Blackfoot hid in the bushes until the men left.

That night, they scrubbed his feet, but they never could quite get them clean.

Memphis Note
Before video games, television and the Internet sucked the life out of children the world over, summers were a time to go exploring and adventuring. And if you lived in Memphis, this was often done without shoes, which inevitably led to your feet turning as black as the tarred asphalt you ran across.

Greg Akers

Jeanine found him slumped over his desk in the study. She went from elated that he might be dead to disgusted when she realized he was crying to himself.

“Darling! They’ve finally done it.” He moaned as she approached. “Those damn orthodoxy bastard, they’ve killed my business! They won’t let me sell cocaine. Not like I used to. All that income – it’s going to disappear!”

Her slap came out of nowhere, catching him mid-sob.

“Murray, you are a terrible husband, an absent father and a pathetic lover. And, so help me God, if you don’t keep me comfortable, I’ll let all your new country club friends know that you bought your way up to their level by selling drugs to the negroes.”

Pulling her new mink stole tight, she stepped back from him.

“So, if they won’t let you sell it like you used to, find a new way to sell it. The demand isn’t going to go away, prices are just going to go up. Time to be big, Murray, bigger than you’ve ever been.”

She planted a cold, hard kiss on his cheek then left him alone in the darkened study.

He’d never felt so small before.

Memphis Note
At first, Memphis’s cocaine laws were as lax as its liquor laws. But then, racism was introduced into the anti-drug equation, and attitudes began to change. The first big step toward prohibition of the drug was when the city voted to ban the sale of less than a pound of cocaine to anyone with out a prescription. A pound being much more than any normal addict could hope to afford. Sadly, all this did was push the drug underground and create even more crime around it.

Michael Whitten

The air is still; dead.

This was not always the way of things.

Before, when we would take to the skies, we would black out the sun with the beating of our wings.

That was before you men came. With your guns and your endless sport of extinction.

I think I am the last of my kind to nest in Pigeon Roost Road. The winding trail through bramble and tree and swamp and field was our favorite place in the world. It was safe, food was plentiful, and we called it home.

You gave this place its name because of us. We, the humble passenger pigeon, that never once wronged any one of you. We cleared your skies of the insects that ate your fields and sucked your blood, but you saw fit to hunt us for entertainment and feed us to your poor and enslaved.

There are not words to describe the horrors your kind levied upon mine. Tens of thousands dead in an hour, in every hour of a day. Calling out, hearing nothing but cries of pain in reply.

Now when I call out, no one calls back. And I can hear our end in the silence.

Memphis Note
The passenger pigeon is up there with the buffalo and the grey wolf as horrific examples of America’s effect on the natural world. The passenger pigeon used to be the most numerous bird in North America, with flocks numbering into the billions. But, those great flocks made them easy targets for hunters, and the pigeons couldn’t survive without them. Just south of Memphis, near what is now Highway 78, was Pigeon Roost Road, one of the great sheltering spots for the birds. There haven’t been any passenger pigeons there in over a hundred years.

Matt Farr

Purscilla took her place at the head of the quorum. She noted the heads that bowed, those that looked away, and those that stared back in fiery defiance.

She narrowed her eyes at those, but stopped short of showing them her fangs for their insolence.

Placing her paw on the coyote skull atop a pile of other canine skulls, she brought this gathering of the pride to order.

“The moon is full, we are gathered, the pride is here. What business is there?”

“Still working on the two that are trapped in the house with the big window.” Said Shadow, the black manx. “They seem unwilling to join us.”

“Educate them as to the folly of that action.” Purscilla decreed.

“There is a new yapper on the corner.” Snowball, the white Persian with the different colored eyes shouted out.

The pride erupted in hisses.

Purscilla felt her claws involuntarily dig into the skull under paw. Banding together to kill that coyote had been her idea, her responsibility. Purging her neighborhood of dogs since was her pleasure.

And those little yappers, those dogs that never shut up, she hated them most of all.

“Well,” Growled Purscilla, “let’s introduce ourselves, shall we?”

Memphis Note
There are a bizarrely large number of cats in my neighborhood, and we we’ve also had a few coyote sightings. I’ve never seen the coyote, but I have seen a half dozen cats within a block of each other. Which makes me think that maybe they’ve done something to that poor lost coyote.