Memphis Fast Fiction Home
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.

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.

Melissa Wolowicz

“Oh dear lord,” Muttered H.L. Sallee as he rounded the sidewalk to the small barbershop he ran at the Fort Chaffee Army Base. “If only half these yahoos were here for a haircut, I could retire early.”

A mass of people swarmed the front of his shop, jockeying for a view of the inside. Most were armed with cameras and flashbulbs.

“Reporters,” he grumbled.

Deciding he wasn’t making it through that, Sallee came in the back way, where he was immediately ambushed by his junior employee.

“Boss! You said I’d get to do it!”

“Pete’s been cutting hair longer than you’ve been alive, if wants to cut a bit more, he’s welcome to it. You should watch him, try to learn something.”

“Aww, nuts to that. He’s just doin’ a GI shave on him.”

“Let’s hope you’re good at it, because I guarantee you it won’t just be army boys getting that cut once those pictures get out.

The handsome man in the barber chair snapped up a lock of his dark hair and put it under his nose like a mustache, hamming it up for the reporters.

“Any haircut Elvis Presley has, the rest of the world will want.”

Memphis Note
When Elvis was drafted in 1957, he was in the middle of filming ‘King Creole’, and was able to get a deferment until the movie was finished. This, I think, is the only thing that kept the female youth of America from dying from a collective heartbreak. It would be two years before Elvis was back home in Memphis, which was plenty of time for his hair to grow back out.

Ben Pope

They all had facial hair, intentional or otherwise. This was a very good sign. As was the amount of junk spread across the tables. Wires were being soldered into circuit boards that powered servo groups, it all looked very complicated.

Excellent. Complicated was good.

He dropped the black box to the floor to get their attention then cleared his throat as the Midsouth Makers Group raised their heads and gave him confused looks.

“I’ve heard you’re group to see about engineering something, shall we say, off the beaten path?” He twisted open the clamp locks on the box as he spoke, tossing the lid aside when they were all undone.

”I have a proposition for you,” He continued, reaching into the black box. “And while your first thought might be that this is some kind of elaborate practical joke, or that this is something more suited to a carnival freak show, I ask that you hear me out.”

He pulled his arm out of the box and held aloft an incredibly detailed plastic head of Elvis Presley. In the back, a nerd fainted.

“I am going to build an android Elvis impersonator. And I need your help to do it.”

Memphis Note
The Midsouth Makers Group is a lose association of people with boundless curiosity, the desire to make new things, and to share that knowledge with others. They hold regular meetings and have a collaborative workspace where members can work on their projets. You better believe these are the first guys I’m going to when I need help building my robot army.

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.