Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Greg Akers

Jeanine found him slumped over his desk in the study. She went from elated that he might be dead to disgusted when she realized he was crying to himself.

“Darling! They’ve finally done it.” He moaned as she approached. “Those damn orthodoxy bastard, they’ve killed my business! They won’t let me sell cocaine. Not like I used to. All that income – it’s going to disappear!”

Her slap came out of nowhere, catching him mid-sob.

“Murray, you are a terrible husband, an absent father and a pathetic lover. And, so help me God, if you don’t keep me comfortable, I’ll let all your new country club friends know that you bought your way up to their level by selling drugs to the negroes.”

Pulling her new mink stole tight, she stepped back from him.

“So, if they won’t let you sell it like you used to, find a new way to sell it. The demand isn’t going to go away, prices are just going to go up. Time to be big, Murray, bigger than you’ve ever been.”

She planted a cold, hard kiss on his cheek then left him alone in the darkened study.

He’d never felt so small before.

Memphis Note
At first, Memphis’s cocaine laws were as lax as its liquor laws. But then, racism was introduced into the anti-drug equation, and attitudes began to change. The first big step toward prohibition of the drug was when the city voted to ban the sale of less than a pound of cocaine to anyone with out a prescription. A pound being much more than any normal addict could hope to afford. Sadly, all this did was push the drug underground and create even more crime around it.

Elizabeth Simpson

He sat on a mattress on the floor of his unfurnished, single room apartment. Before him were two slips of paper.

One was a bill from Memphis Light Gas and Water letting him know how delinquent he was with his payments, and notifying him that his service was going to be terminated the following Monday.

On Tuesday it was supposed to drop below freezing.

The other piece of paper was a shopping list. Food, toilet paper, a new toothbrush to replace the one that had lost nearly all of its bristles.

He didn’t have enough money to pay for the things on both slips of paper.

Inside his head, this felt like some kind of sick joke. Like a question from one of his philosophy finals come to life, where he had to defend his choice with the writings a dead French guy.

If things had gone according to plan, if that job he was planning on had come through, or if his old one had held on a bit longer, he would’ve been out of debt by 2021. Instead, he lost his house in 2010.

To be cold or to be hungry. Those were his choices.

Cold or hungry.

Memphis Note
Memphis is one of the poorest cities in the nation, with more than a quarter of the population saying they’ve had to choose between utility bills and buying food. And sadly, there’s not some silver lining to this cloud, things are stagnant and it is up to us to make a difference in our city.

Dan Price

I have, on occasion, unintentionally come into contact with pieces of information regarding my disappearance from Memphis, and the lingering questions over what exactly to do with my rather large insurance disbursement.

At first, there were more questions about my disappearance than the money. Now it seems that the money is all anyone is concerned with.

Which is, in many ways, indicative of the state of the world.

There should be no great mystery about my motivation to abandon my former life. There was no scandal or knives in the dark.

If fact, it was a rather simple thing that made me change the course of my life. One day I had cause to step out of my house in my bare feet – chasing a dog away from my flower beds or some such nonsense.

I could not believe how much it hurt to do this. As a boy, I used to run barefoot across the roughest ground, forgoing shoes all summer if my mother let me.

My life of fine leather shoes and plush carpets over hardwood floors had made my feet soft; made me soft.

I merely felt that needed to change, so I left it all behind.

Memphis Note
I came across a newspaper clipping from the 1880s about an affluent man that disappeared one night. No one knew if he was the victim of a random crime or disappeared because of some dark secret. I think I prefer my answer to the other two more plausible, but much more depressing, options.

Alpha Newberry

“I never thought about it, but these crappy benches are a lot like pews.” Joked the private investigator as he slid into booth.

The CK’s coffee shop was deserted at this hour, exactly how the man across from him wanted it.

“Modern churches don’t have pews. They’re too hard to move. Worship isn’t just confined to ritual, reading and homily any more, you know.”

“I don’t know, reverend.” The investigator slid a CD across the table. “I think you could work out a sermon on not spying on your parishioner.”

The reverend snatched the disc from the table by with the speed and ferocity a starving dog going after a scrap of meat.

“That bad, huh?”

“They’re threatening a coup, all because of some nonsense about us giving money to a church that supports queers and baby killers.”

“Did ya?”

“We donate millions a year, I can’t track every cent of it.” The reverend grumbled.

“Course not. And here all I thought you had to do was teach people to love each other. I never knew that could get so…complicated.” The P.I. got up to leave. “I’ll send my bill to your house. Avoid more of them that way.”

Memphis Note
In Memphis, churches are huge, both economically and politically. Whole neighborhoods are shaped around them, interstate exists are built for them, and political dynasties rely upon them. With all that power and money, it’s no wonder that things can some times get a little heated and contentious, even litigious, between the congregation and the clergy.

Alpha Newberry

The addict, crouched in a boarded up doorway half way up the street, eyed the two men warily. He probably wasn’t used to seeing people dressed this nicely in this part of town. Or anyone for that matter.

There was no reason to come down this way anymore. Beale was dead. The stores closed, the buildings boarded over, the music gone quiet. The birthplace of rock and roll was now a rotting corpse stinking up the rest of downtown.

One of the men kicked at a chunk of broken asphalt, mumbling to himself.

“I don’t know why you’re apprehensive about this.” Said the other man, an annoyed tone in his voice. “The City Council botched the last try at this so horribly, as long as the buildings don’t fall over we’ll be hailed as the saviors of downtown. We’ll be heroes.”

“And if we don’t pull this off, we’ll be ruined.” Responded his companion. “Just like all this.”

“C’mon. A little glitz and glam can go a long way toward fixing that. This place used to be a regular Sodom and Gomorrah. People want that again. They expect it. And we’ll be the ones collecting twenty percent when it does.”

Memphis Note
Beale Street has not always been the neon-lit and alcohol-fueled stretch we know today. For a large part of the 20th century, Beale was little more than a boarded up side street. The city bought the buildings in the 70s, but their attempt at urban renewal was an utter disaster. It wasn’t until the current management company took over in the early 80s that anything started to change for the better.