Memphis Fast Fiction Home
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.

Kara Prior

He tossed out the blanket while she sorted through the picnic basket. They were late and had missed nearly all of the Sunset Symphony. Up on stage, James Hyter was belting out the final lyrics of ‘Ol Man River’.

“I don’t ask you to do to much do I?” He asked, fussing over a rough spot in the blanket to avoid looking at her.

She stopped what she was doing and looked up at him with a smirk. “You’ll have to give me more than that.”

“It’s just, I don’t know, I don’t want you to feel like I’m stuck to you. Like a movie theatre floor or a piece of gum you stepped on. You don’t have to say yes if you don’t want to hang out.”

She took his cheek gently in her hand, turning his face toward her. Her palm felt exquisitely cool on his skin.

“I like hanging out with you.” She leaned close to him. “I like you, silly boy.”

Over head, a firework screamed into the sky, exploding in a bulbous shower of purple sparks, the boom echoing for miles.

Down on Earth, they were too distracted by fireworks of their own to notice.

Memphis Note
Sunset Symphony is the wrap-up event to the annual Memphis in May celebration that includes the Beale Street Music Festival and BBQ Festival. For most of my life, the event was closed by James Hyter singing the “Ol Man River’ and one of the best fireworks displays in the South. Sadly, Jame Hyter passed away in 2009.