Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Zachary Whitten

The devil and I looked out across the Mississippi River.

He’d been after me for weeks, hounding me.

“There’s a whole country across that crap-brown river.” He said, a forked tongue darting in and out of his red lips. “A thousand places that are better than this, calling out to you. Just pick any one, and I’ll give you more than you ever imagined.”

“I’ll be honest, sir.” I was polite, my father taught me to be polite to anyone – even the assholes. “Anything more than what I can get here is more than I need. I wouldn’t know what to do with if it I had it.”

“But if you stay here, you might not amount to anything! Everything you worked for might be forgotten the second you die. You’ll be as inconsequential as a single fleck of silt in all of the Mississippi.”

This was new, and I considered it for a moment before answering him.

“I think you forget, sir, that silt built up the bluffs you’re standing on. And if that’s all I end up, I could ask for anything more. Because then I’ll know that I’ll always be a part of something I love.”

Memphis Note
This is the last story of this project. Number Three Hundred and Sixty Five. It is actually the first prompt submitted, too. I submitted it on November 15th, 2010, they day I put the earliest version of the website up. It was always my intent to write a story back to myself at the end of this, sort of to see where my head was at the end of this madness. Maybe to see if I’d have fallen out of love with this city once I’d found out how really broken it is. But, no. I think I love it more than I did before.

Zack Parks

The devil liked it at the P&H Cafe. It had just the right mix of desperation, desire and crushing defeat that made his job so much easier.

It didn’t hurt that the stuffed burgers were hedonistically sinful, either

He looked around the smokey room, running his tongue over his teeth. It was early yet, so the pickings were still rather slim.

A group of comics were off in a corner, bumming cigarettes from each other and arguing over who’s turn it was to refill the pitcher. Dangle fame in front of them, and they’d turn on each other in a second.

In the booth behind them, a young filmmaker poked a timidly at his laptop, trying to catch the same bolt of lightning that Craig Brewer bottled here. And for a price, the devil could give it to him.

As the night wore on, more would flow in. More souls with more temptations.

The Poor and the Hungry, indeed.

What an absolutely perfect name for these people and this place.

If the devil ever dared to imagine his version of heaven, it would probably be a lot like this.

He ordered one of those stuffed burgers and settled in.

Memphis Note
The P&H has been the womb of and dashing rocks for many great artistic dreams in Memphis. The cheap beer, greasy food, and morally lax atmosphere has drawn in local creatives for years, and shows no sign of ceasing.

Ben Powers

Two devils sit on a park bench, enjoying a beautiful day. The older of the pair points at child walking past, eagerly licking a towering ice cream cone. Then the younger one snaps his fingers and the child falls, face first, into the desert. They explode into laughter.

Composing himself, the younger devil turns to his mentor. “It’s been an honor learning from you, sir. ”

“You took to the suffering arts like a natural.” The older replies, nodding with approval.

“I have one question, if I might be so bold.” Timidly asks the younger one.

“Oh? What might that be?”

“What act of misery are you most proud of?”

“Malfunction Junction.” The old devil says without hesitation. “An interstate interchange in Memphis, Tennessee. I manipulated the minds of a half dozen civil engineers over the course of a decade. Every attempt they made to solve the problem, to mitigate what I’d done, just made even worse.”

“Really, sir? You’re a legend in our line of work, and you’re proudest of a traffic jam?”

“Wasn’t my grandest project. But, nothing beats the suffering a human experiences tying to merge from five lanes to two in the middle of rush hour traffic.”

Memphis Note
Malfunction Junction is the local name for the intersection of two major interstates in south Memphis. On the surface, it looks like a simple cloverleaf interchange, but evil lurks in those sweeping curves. Trucks get stuck under the overpass. Cars burst into flames for no reason. And if there’s going to be wreck, it’s going to be on the on/off ramp, blocking everything up.

Pamela Stanfield

The Devil orders another double whiskey and Coke. The bartender nods absently and goes to work mixing. He doesn’t so much as question the fact that it is the Devil’s fourth in less than an hour, or that it isn’t yet 5pm.

And why would the bartender questions something like that? This is the Buccaneer. People come here to drink until the dingy pirate theme seems as good of an idea as going home with whoever is next to them.

That’s why the Devil loves this place more than any other dive bar in the world. There is absolutely no chance of him finding a pristine soul here. The regulars that drank during the day, never speaking save to order their next drink, are a veritable horror show of dark secrets. And the legion of horny, virile scenesters that replace them? Well, sin is as thick on them as cigarette tar on the walls.

A complete lack of pure souls means that the Devil feels no temptation to work. Odd thing to admit, the Devil suffering temptation, but, hey, he is a workaholic.

Sometimes he just needs to cut loose, he thinks, and a fresh drink in front of him.

Memphis Note
I’ve written about the Bucc before, but last time it was vampires. This time, it’s the Devil. Which, considering I was considering going to go with a dancing midget hallucination, is something you should be thankful for. As to the real crux of the story, did you ever find it odd that the Devil must exemplify the Puritan work ethic in order to get all that evil done? I know I do.

Mike Whitten

With the bottom of his shoe, he smoothes out a spot in the dead center of the crossroads. Then, the man looks up at the sun, watching it gliding effortlessly toward the horizon.

Twilight. The best time to make a deal with the Devil.

Taking his pocket knife to the meat of his hand, he lets the blood drip down into the smoothed dirt, whispering sacrilegious words best left unrepeated.

The wind kicks up, the smell of sulfur and wet leather crawl up his nose and the last light retreats before the darkness.

Two smoldering ember eyes appear before him, their owner obscured in shadow.

“Come to make a deal?” a voice from the dark growls.

“Give me my daughter back,” says the man, unafraid.

“That’s no deal, mortal man. That’s a demand.” The voice responds. “And I don’t do demands.”

“Give me my daughter back, and you can have anything. Anything!”

A slow chuckle vibrates through the air. “Are you sure about that?

The man nods. “Anything.”

“Your terms are…acceptable.”

“Terms? What terms? What are you taking?”

And before the man’s lifeless body can hit the ground, a newborn baby cries into the night with her first breath.

Memphis Note
Never make a deal with the Devil. Especially not at a crossroads in the Delta. Things never turn out well. Just ask Robert Johnson.