Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Caroline Mitchell Carrico

“What the hell, Mike?!” I was livid. “That was a very important conversation with some very important people you just interrupted.”

It was chilly out on the terrance, the noise of the party inside permeated the walls behind them.

“I’m sure it was electrifying, but it’ll have to wait.” He dug a cigarette from a crumpled pack and lit it. “How much do you know about history? Egyptian, specifically.”

Oh god, I thought, he’s been drinking. “Why would I know anything about Egyptian history?”

He shrugged. “Figured you might, seeing as this town is named for a dead Egyptian city and all. Did you know when a new king came to power back then, they’d go around chiseling out the names of people they didn’t like? They’d even pull the heads off their rival’s statues. All out of spite.”

“What does any of that have to do with me, Mike?”

The cigarette hung from his lips, burning.

“They just unsealed a whole bunch of indictments. You’re name’s on a lot of them.” He dropped his cigarette and stomped it out. “There’s a new king, and he’s looking to chisel out some names and take a few heads.

“Happy birthday, Senator.”

Memphis Note
I’m sure at some point in Memphis history, some one’s made the connection between pharaohs wiping out the historic records of their predecessors and a similar activity here in Memphis. If not, I suggest one of you get on that post haste.

Carin Sherman

On their evening walk, they passed the half-demolished bones of the hundred year old church at the end of their street. She stopped, looking at it with a frown.

“What an absolute waste,” she said. “Might as well tear down everything old and great in this city.”

“Oh come on,” her husband scoffed. “It was an abandoned building used by drug addicts as a place to sleep and shoot up. I won’t miss it a bit.”

She rolled her eyes at him. “It was part of our legacy. It told us where we came from, what we could be. We lose a piece of history when it goes.”

“Greatness? Legacy? History? C’mon! In this economy the only thing that matters is jobs. Jobs get people fed, put roofs over their heads. Empty buildings don’t make jobs.”

“You’re right, they don’t. But they might just be better than the alternative.”

She resumed their walk, not bothering to wait for him.

“Alternative?” He called after her. “What are they putting there?”

“A twenty-four hour gas station. The kind with the blinding lights and blaring music.”

That stopped him in his tracks. “History at least had the decency to be quiet.”

Memphis Note
Right now there is an on-going battle between the historic preservation people and commercial developers. One side wants to protect our history legacy for years to come, the other wants to create something new and alive out of something old and dead. Both are right in some ways, both are wrong in others. Me? I’ve always wondered why no one ever tried encouraging people to move into a space as vehemently as they tried to protect it or tear it down.

Martin Dinstuhl

“What are we looking for out here again?” I asked as I followed behind my graduate instructor, bushwhacking through what I was sure was private property in north Shelby county.

“The long lost Odiferous Belt.” He shouted back, unfazed by the bizarreness of his own words.

I how ever, was not. His words stunned me momentarily, like a blow to the head. “Wait! The what now?” I hurried along, trying to catch up to him.

“About a hundred years ago, there was a stretch of our fair city that stunk up to high heaven every summer.” He stopped walking as he began to tell his story. “Everyone thought it was swamp gas, their neighbor’s trash or something.”

“Ok…,” I said, unsure of where his story was leading.

“Turns out, it was some reddish-purple beetles that were responsible for the stink. They’d come out every summer, looking for stuff to eat on the ash trees. They’d stink up the whole city.”

“So, we’re looking for beetles?”

“Long lost beetles!” He shouted, enthusiastically. “Heh, you know what the smell was? The stink the beetles were squirting out?”


“Cyanide.” He said with a devilish grin before stomping off into the brush.

Memphis Note
Before the city pushed outward into what we now think of as Midtown, there was a regular ring of odor that popped up each summer. After some investigation, it was discovered that the smell was coming horned beetles that were found climbing ash trees. To this day, we don’t know the exact type of beetle, only those similar to it in the area.

Scott Brown

He stiff arms the wooden door, pushing it open into the wet summer air, breath and anger mixing in his throat. Both upset at what’s happened and at himself for letting it affect him so.

He knows the hardest hits never come when you’re ready for them. That’s what killed Houdini, after all. Felled by a sucker punch to the gut when he wasn’t expecting it.

Just like how the scent of juniper in the in the fall coolness still reminds him of the lotion used by the first girl he ever made love to under an open sky. And how it completely disarms him to this day.

Or how a certain type of wood will glow in just a particular way when warmed to exactly the right temperature by the sun, leaving him utterly decimated in remembrance of a house that no longer exists, the special bed that was built for him there, and how good sleep was then.

As he stalks down the street, dodging the tourists, the barkers and the peddlers, he remembers all of those things, and more, now that he knows that kind of unprecedented heartache that comes from A. Schwab’s being up for sale.

Memphis Note
It’s true. After a hundred plus years of voodoo-tinged service, the building and business that A. Schwab occupies is up for sale. But, along with that comes a stark change to the voodoo corner and the cluttered attic-cum-museum of the half story landing. Change has finally come to the unchangeable.

Scott Brown

I am the River.

Long and dirty and crooked have I run.

Since the ice crept back, gouging out rolling hills for me to twist between and furrows for me to fill, I have let this endless expanse of land pour into me.

For I have no single, cyclopean source. Rather, dozens of smaller rivers fed by hundreds and thousands of yet smaller creeks, brooks and streams birth me.

And through those many, I bring life to even more. Carrying pieces of them down into my delta, making something of them, something new.

I am the ultimate expression of democracy, of the insignificant many creating the unstoppable one.

I my quiet, I sound of peace and tranquility. When I rage, I sound with a roar greater than any lion’s. I ebb and I flow, never content to stay in one place, yet I am still as intractable as the ground beneath your feet. I will never be inviting, but I will welcome any with open arms.

One must simply understand that I have been here much, much longer than you, and I will be here long after passed.

I am the River.

Long and dirty and crooked shall I run.

Memphis Note
The Mississippi River is the most defining geographic characteristic of Memphis. And it was only a matter of time until I wrote something like this about it. I’m honestly surprised I made it past the half-way mark before doing it.