Memphis Fast Fiction Home

Under the yellow glow of the street lights, some of the shades of green people wore started to look more like brown. I mentioned this to my friend, who laughed back, “It aint’ the lights – they’ve got beer sweats.”

Sure enough, as one of them stumbled past us, I got a nose full of cheap bear and body odor.

The air was cool and crisp this Saint Patrick’s Day, and a few of the revelers had obviously over dressed. Their bundles of scarves and heavy jackets now becoming unbearable as the free-flowing alcohol raised their body temperature and the crowd packed in around them.

“You know, at certain points of my life – points I’m not proud of, mind you – I often wonder what forty thousand beer-drunk people would smell like.” I announce, unprompted. “And I can say, without any reservation, if that detestable odor was a preview of what’s to come – we’d best leave now.”

My friend held up his wristband and pointed to his cup full of green beer. “But, I’ve still got this, and they’ve still got more of this.”

I laughed and shook my head, “Then I highly recommend you drink until you cannot smell.”

Memphis Note
In the 1970s, the Saint Patrick’s Day parties at Overton Square were massive events. Tens of thousands of people would swarm onto Madison, blocking traffic for nearly a dozen blocks. But, as times changed and Overton Square became less popular, the party died out. Hopefully with the revival of the Square on the horizon, Saint Patrick’s Day will be a big event again.

Shawn Wolowicz

They’d put him in prison for taking a photograph.

There’d been no trial, no jury, no explanation, just the slam of iron bars echoing off stone walls and a number in place of his name.

He never saw anyone but the guards, but he could sometimes hear the other prisoners yelling, screaming, crying. He wondered if they could hear him talking to the rusty faucet that dripped away in his cell.

A nagging fear in the back of his mind said that made him crazy. He preferred to think it was keeping him sane.

He’d taken the black and white snapshot while visiting Graceland. A van with blacked out windows at the side of the house had caught his attention. He lifted his camera over the wall, and changed his life for ever.

The picture was of Elvis, leaving the building, mere hours before he supposedly died.

He didn’t know this until he developed the picture, and he never fully understood what it meant – only that a few hours later men in dark suits were kicking in his door because of it.

They’d hidden him away so he couldn’t tell anyone what he knew: that the King was still alive.

Memphis Note
The fringe theories about Elvis’s end range from him faking his death, to aliens taking him, to mob assassination to all sorts of weirdness involving the US government. It’s given the tabloids headline fuel for decades, and have helped keep him in the public eye in a way his music never would have. His music doesn’t scream crazy, after all.

Alpha Newberry

“What about Ankylosaurus and Stegosaurus, The Dinosaur Brothers!?” Lou twisted up his face, hooked his fingers and struck his best ferocious pose to go along with the name.

I shook my head, something wasn’t right. “The group name works, but the individual names are all wrong. Ankylosaurus sounds too much like “sore ankle”. I don’t want some fat guy going for my ankle in the middle of a match.”

We’d been at this for the better part of two days now, trying to think up names for the audition tape we were going to send in to Memphis Wrestling.

“We need something that’s not literal, isn’t a direct reference to something, but just sort of feels, you know,” I paused trying to come up with the best word, and ended up with, “scary.”

Lou scrunched his face up and looked around the room, grasping for anything. He settled on the bookshelf and his eyes went wide.

“Alice. Through the Looking Glass.” He muttered to himself, then jumped up and clapped his hands. “That’s it!”

“What’s it?.”

“You’ll be Brillig, and I’ll be Slithy! The Jabberwockies!”

He struck his pose again.

And this time it worked.

We had ourselves a name.

Memphis Note
Memphis Wrestling was a fixture on every local boy’s television set from the late 50s on through 90s. It was just like the wild stadium wrestling we see on cable now, save without the budget or consideration for racial demographics. But, fans were loyal to a rabid fault, which let Andy Kaufman pull off his great staged rivalry with local wrestling hero Jerry “The King” Lawler.

Matt Farr

The water had not risen high enough.

The river lapped at the shore, tantalizingly close to the hull of the Memphis Queen III. Those last few feet might as well be a million miles. If they cut her loose now, she’d rip her hull apart sliding into the river and never make it out of the harbor.

“I’m blaming the King for this, too,” my father growled as he watched the three tugboats attaching mooring lines to the hundred foot riverboat he’d built from nothing in our backyard.

Elvis had died the night before, and my father was taking his untimely passing as cause for all of today’s problems.

Out in the bay, the tug boats turned on their high-pressure water hoses. They were going to try to turn the space between the boat and the river into mud, and slide the riverboat down.

After a few minutes of deluge, My father raised the signal flag, waited for the crews to acknowledge then dropped his arm.

The tugs gunned their engines, the lines went taut, and nothing happened.

Then, like lovers separating post coitus, the riverboat slipped down the soaked ground and out in to the river, finally home.

Memphis Note
The Memphis Queen III is a paddleboat, modeled to look like the boats of the 1800s, hand built by Captain Tom Meanly in his backyard in south Memphis. It is a sister ship to the Memphis Queen II, a slightly smaller, but still notable boat, as it was the first all-steel vessel on the Mississippi. The Memphis Queen III is available for rental, and runs daily sight-seeing tours along the river.

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.