Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Pat Guarino

It was hard to tell which the Cat’s Meow was more: a swinger’s club or a dive bar.

It was one of those chicken or egg type questions. Or, as the proprietor liked to put it, 
“Silly questions people ask themselves when they should be screwin’ instead.”

The Cat’s Meow occupied a decent sized house, set back from the road a bit and remodeled into a restaurant. The parking lot was the paved over yard, and was mostly empty except on weekends.

Like any dive bar, there were regulars, and something of them could be pretty eccentric, even for a sex club. One of them had a fastidious cleaning fetish and go attack the bathrooms, which worked out well for everyone.

The only really odd regular was Bob. That’s what they called him at least, no one ever got his name. He’d show up a few times a week, order a pitcher of beer, and sit in the corner avoiding eye contact with everyone.

Some one once suggested that Bob might not’ve been entirely aware of the sort of place the Cat’s Meow was, and thought everyone else was off their rocker.

But that couldn’t possible have been true.


Memphis Note
The Cat’s Meow was one of those places that flew under the radar of everyone that wasn’t looking for a place like that. It was out of the way, quiet, and unassuming. Problem was, Memphis cops were stopping in to “keep an eye on the place” and the Commercial Appeal got wind of it. They ran an expose, the city and the department were embarrassed, and the owner of the property evicted the Cat’s Meow. The building is a rib shack now. Keep that in mind if you ever stop in to eat there.

Cameron Harper

That a was the sixth time in the last hour the negro waiter had walked past them with a tray of beer mugs on his shoulder.

Three times he’d walked past them to the polling station, mugs filled to the brim. Three times he’d walked back to the saloon he’d come from, mugs drained to the bottom.

“Should we do something about that?” Thompson said, pointing his nightstick at the waiter as he turned into the saloon.

Shrugging, Leopold pointed out that this might be the last time for anyone gets a decent drink in the whole state.

They’d been pulled from their regular beats to keep an eye on the polling station during the state’s prohibition vote. With the exception of rattling beer mugs, it had been completely uneventful.

“I’m tellin’ you, we really should do something about that,” Thompson nagged.

“Fine, fine, fine.” Leopold said, pulling a handkerchief from his breast pocket. “Waiter! Over here!”

The waiter stopped, looked anxiously at the two white patrolmen and walked over, slowly.

“There a problem, mister?”

“Your fermentation is showing,” Leopold said with a smile, draping the handkerchief over the mugs. “Bring two more for us next time you fill up.”

Memphis Note
One of the few things Tennessee has ever been ahead of the curve on was the prohibition of alcohol. The state dried out close to a decade before the rest of the country. Or, at least it was supposed to. But thanks to the loose politics of Boss Crump and select enforcement of state laws, Memphis stayed wet much longer than the rest of the state.

Jonathan McCarver

He held up the unopened can of beer and glowered at it.

“You’re the reason everything’s gone to hell.”

It was late, and he was the last one in the brewery’s offices. By all rights, he should’ve gone home hours ago. He couldn’t face his family, not when everything was falling apart.

“No one wants bottles any more. They want something they can crush, then hurriedly toss away like trash before it gets a smell. They want something to make them happy now but not remind them of how many they had come morning.”

He set the beer down on his desk, pulled open a drawer, and started rooting around in it.

“We were set up for bottling. But, everyone wants cans now. So, we retooled the whole assembly line to make you. God, was that a disaster. No one cares about you anywhere else, you just sit on shelves gathering dust. Ah, there it is.”

The metal of the flat top can opener glinted in the lamplight, like a murderer’s knife. He closed the drawer and looked back at the can.

“You’re ruined me, you see. And now I’m going to take my revenge.

“I’m going to drink you.”

Memphis Note
The Tennessee Brewing Company was one of the largest breweries of its time when it was opened in the late 1800s. It prospered up until Prohibition, when it was shut down. Its doors were reopened after The Great Experiment ended, the brewery re-opened, and for a time business was good. Unfortunately, the transition to metal cans and a narrowing regional market proved to be too much for the company to handle. The company and its magnificent building were shuttered in 1954.

Holly Golightly

The voice over the radio was cheerfully announcing that today was setting yet another record for a high temperature. A story which was immediately followed by a similar, yet pedantically different, story about how today also set a record for the number of consecutive record high days.

Leonard peels himself off the plastic chair and makes his way, labourously, toward the icebox.

The damn linoleum is hot on my feet, he thinks, taking his second to last Miller out of the fridge.

He cracks the cap off the bottle and steps out onto the porch, where he finds his midget neighbor Cliff, staring up at the sky in the yard next door.

“They say it’s aliens,” Cliff beings, unprompted. “Causing the heat, I mean.”

“And who’s sayin’ that?” Leonard responds drolly.

“The tabloids, of course!” he says, cheery as the radio voice.

“Cliff, shut the hell up.” Lenoard finishes the beer in a single, long swig. “It’s too hot for your crap.”

Cliff watches Leonard retreat back into his house through narrowed eyes.

Then, quite unexpectedly, Cliff jerks his pinky finger in an awkward manner, and begins to speak into it, like a telephone.

“They don’t suspect a thing, sir.”

Memphis News
Last year was the hottest year on record for Memphis, and today, barely into April, we kissed 90 degrees, topping out at a 88 degrees. Which is a new high record for today. I may not live to see next fall.

Amanda Yarbro-Dill

“I can’t believe they’ve done this to us. I really can’t.” Gerald paced back and forth in front of the fire gnawing on his fingernails as he spoke. “We’re putting our lives on the line for Southern Independence and those bastards won’t even let us have a damned drink!”

“Sober man makes a better shot.” Retorted Clarence from inside their tent.

“Dammit all, Clarence!” Gerald shouted back. It’d been less than a day since the general order came down banning all beer sales in Memphis, and he was well into the throws of withdrawal. “It’s not like I’d be walking across the field of battle lit up like a Christmas tree!”

“Really? Because I sure would be. That’d be the only way it’d make any sense to me.”

“Pffft.” Gerald scoffed at Clarence. “What I wouldn’t give for a good beer or some corn whiskey or maybe, maybe even some of that gin the captain’s always sippin’ on.”

From inside the tent, Clarence could see the sweat standing out on Gerald’s brow.

“I think you might have a problem, Gerald.”

“And I think you might just need to shut the hell up, Clarence.” He said, just before throwing up again.

Memphis Note
General Order #7 issued by the Provost Marshall of Memphis in the summer of 1862 forbade the sale of beer in Memphis. Apparently the enlisted men stationed here were doing little but drinking themselves into the gutter, and the Confederate Army had had enough.

(Beer is a four letter word, by the way.)