Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Vanessa Waites

She took a long, slurping pull on the straw of her massive lemonade.

“God I love the South,” she said with a satisfied sigh. “You people fry everything you eat, and dump sugar in everything you drink.”

The head vet of the Memphis Zoo gave the representative from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums a perplexed look. “Thank you, I think…but I’m still not quite sure as to the point of this visit.”

“I’m here about babies, specifically elephant babies.” She took another pull on the straw.

The head vet’s expression shifted immediately to a scowl. “Asali’s accident was just that – an accident. It’s all in the official report. I’ve got better things to do.” He stood up to go, furious.

The woman across from him continued to drink her lemonade, unfazed by his outburst. “You done now? Got that out of your system? I’m not here about that, well not specifically.”

The vet didn’t sit, but he didn’t leave, either.

“People like babies,” She began. “Especially freakish pink elephant babies for some reason. We know Asali’s fertile and we’d like to knock her up.

“You guys had a crap run. I’m here to give you a second shot.”

Memphis Zoo
When the elephant Asali accidentally killed her calf in 2009, just days after it was born, a pall fell over the city. Hopefully, happiness will replace that lingering memory of that accident when Asali’s herdmate Gina gives birth to her first calf in mid-2012.

Mike Whitten

The emergency management response vehicle had more in common with a tank than a normal truck. The tires were thick and studded, the bed was extended and filled with all sorts of ropes, harnesses, lights, and power tools – even a rack of scuba gear.

The men that drove the vehicle were used to life or death challenges.

Which made the call they were responding to that much stranger.

When they pulled up in front of the Wendy’s, they were greeted by an earthy stink hanging in the air.

“Hope that ain’t the food.” One of the men joked to the other.

The manager was waiting for them in the parking lot.

“Told the guy he couldn’t take his truck through.” He said, shaking his head.

“Was it too tall? Did it get stuck or something?” Asked one of the responders.

“Or something. Follow me.”

He lead the men around back, where the rear bumper of an H2 Hummer was poking out of a giant hole in the middle of the drive through lane.

“Gayoso Bayou runs right under us.” The manager explained. “Put too much weight on it, and the whole thing’ll give way. Shoulda paid attention to the sign.”

Memphis Note
There is a Wendy’s here in town that sits directly atop the Gayoso Bayou, a brick and mason sewer that predates the Civil War. And it does have a sign that warns heavy trucks away from their drive through for the very reason mentioned in the story.

The Smell of Success

The mortar exploded into a monstrously satisfying boom and shower of neon sparks in the sky above them. Off in the distance, a car alarm set off by the shockwave howled in protest.

“Heck yeah!” Clifford shouted as he dug another beer from the rapidly emptying cooler. “Didn’t I tell you guys, cop don’t care nothin’ ‘bout any of this.”

Clifford and his friends were set up in an unfinished part of the subdivision, and had been shooting off fireworks since dusk. Which was a few hours ago, judging by the rate the cooler was emptying.

He’d blown a weeks pay on fireworks down in Mississippi, but it had been completely worth it. Tonight was about perfect for Clifford.

Then he sniffed the air. Something was…burning. And not firework burning, but burning burning. He stuck his head up and looked around like a prairie dog.

Across the street behind them, a half-built model house was wreathed in flames.

There were scorch marks dotting the ground, leading away from his friends, toward the house. Some of the fireworks must’ve gone wrong in wind, he figured.

The flames roared higher and Clifford’s mouth went dry.

“Grab the beer and run!”

Memphis Note
Inside of the Memphis city limits, it is illegal to shoot off any kind of firework more dangerous than sparkler – and I think those might even be verboten. But, that doesn’t stop thousands of Memphis from trekking across to Mississippi or Arkansas, stopping at a gas station to stock up on beer and high explosives, then heading back home to show everyone how the 4th of July is done right.

John Burns

Countless squares of shattered glass were scattered across the asphalt. Like seeds thrown to barren earth where they can never take root. Under her feet the glass ground against the pavement and cut into her flesh.

Where was her shoe?

Wind whistled in her ears, but she couldn’t feel it on her face. Everything was loud, roaring, screaming, but she couldn’t make any of it out. Cupping her hand to her ear, she found it wet and sticky. She pulled her hand back and stared at it.

Color was smeared across her fingers. It alternated bright red or rich brown in the flashing lights. She looked up toward the blue and red lights, holding her hand over her eyes and squinting into the brightness. All of a sudden she felt very, very dizzy.

Out of the light, a figure strode toward her, catching her as she felt her knees give out.

“Ma’am? You’ve been in a car accident. Are you alright? Do you know where you are?”

The face of a handsome man looked down at her, she smiled then tried to brush the hair out of her face, leaving behind a smear of blood.

“I can’t find my shoe.”

Memphis Note
For several years, the intersection of Riverdale and Winchester was the most dangerous intersection in the state for car accidents. The large number of traffic lights, the broad streets, and the dozens of turnins to the retail establishments meant you never knew where danger was going to come from. Accidents were happening at least once a day, many of them injury accidents. In recent years, the number of wrecks has decreased due to most of the key stores moving to safer areas of the city, causing a decrease in the area’s traffic.