Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Matt Farr

The neighborhood kids called him Blackfoot.

Initially, it was supposed to have been a jibe about how filthy his feet were, but Blackfoot took to it like a pig to stink, going so far as to cover himself with warpaint and stick feathers in his hair.

They weren’t eagle feathers like real Indians had, of course. These were much smaller, from robins or blue jays that lived in the neighborhood.

Fully resplendent in his war gear, Blackfoot was the sort of child that others parents looked at as a harbinger of their own child’s descent into savagery.

Sometimes the other kids would invite him to play Cowboys and Indians with them because he could be a better Indian than any of them. Blackfoot always felt a special joy when he was allowed to play with them, even if the rest of the children were trying to shoot him.

Then the two men from protective services knocked on his door one day, asking to speak to his parents. His mother cried a lot when they pointed at him. Blackfoot hid in the bushes until the men left.

That night, they scrubbed his feet, but they never could quite get them clean.

Memphis Note
Before video games, television and the Internet sucked the life out of children the world over, summers were a time to go exploring and adventuring. And if you lived in Memphis, this was often done without shoes, which inevitably led to your feet turning as black as the tarred asphalt you ran across.

Justin McGregor

The patrons were unusually quiet, anxious even, as they queued in front of the Warner Theater. In the sweltering summer heat, women fanned themselves, men sweated through their linen shirts, what few children there were stamped impatiently at the wait. Hundreds yellow incandescent bulbs in the marquee over head pulsed in steady rhythm, driving the crowd slowly forward past the ticket booth and into the theatre.

Inside crowd filed past the concession stand without stopping for refreshment, disappearing into the dimly lit cavern of the screen room. They took their seats as silently as they’d entered. A baby started to cry, and the theatre manager had a sinking sensation that he’d just hung an albatross around his neck.

The lights went out and everyone in the room held their breath. Silver light spilled across the screen, images dancing to life. Speakers hissed and popped then a lively jazz tune began to roll out of them.

Still the audience held their breath. All of this they’d seen before. They were here for something new.

Then a dull roar echoed through the room, followed by a cold breeze drifting down from above. They all exhaled as the air conditioning came to life.

Memphis Note
The Warner Theatre was the first building in Memphis to get air conditioning. It was originally a Vaudeville theatre called the Pantages, purchased by Warner Brothers in the 30s after Vaudeville gave way to movie theaters. The theatre had a marquee that would put even the modern Orpheum to shame, but sadly it was demolished to make way for One Commerce Square in the late 60s.

Alpha Newberry

I shifted awkwardly in the vinyl chair, my legs sticking to the plastic covering. I barely knew anyone at the cookout, and those were just people from work. Work I’d just started after moving everything I owned across the country to a city where I didn’t know anyone.

A hand and a cup appeared in front of my face. “Summer brew!”

I took the cup and looked up. “And that is?” I asked the person handing the cups out to everyone.

“It’s summer brew,” he said enthusiastically, but failing to understand that I didn’t know what that was.

“It’s like a beergarita.” Piped up a woman next to me.


“Yeah, you know, a margarita made with beer. And, uh, vodka.”

“So basically, the only thing it has in common with a margarita is the lime slush stuff.”

She didn’t say anything for a moment, mulling it over, and then with a shrug, “Yep. It’s great, try it.”

I shrugged back, “Well, what doesn’t kill you and all that jazz…”

I tipped the cup up, letting the icy drink flow into my mouth.

And as it hit my taste buds, I knew the move was going to work out fine.

Memphis Note
Summer brew, in a list of ingredients, sounds to be the most foul thing you could put into your body. Crappy beer, cheap vodka, frozen limeade, a big spoon to stir it, and maybe ice if you’re not planning on downing it all immediately, are the components. And when mixed, it looks nearly identical to a cup of refrigerated urine, slightly yellow and frothy. But, dear God, does it taste delicious. Everyone that tries it speaks of it for the rest of their lives. My friends and I make a mission of exposing as many people to summer brew as possible every summer, spreading it like a new religion. And my favorite part about it? The metaphor of summer brew as our city. A mix-mash of things that shouldn’t go together, creating the most unforgettable kind of end result.

Ben Christian

The hatchback of his beat up Volvo station wagon was open wide, yawning like a lazy lion. Warm summer wind whistled past, and bursts of heat lightening made the clouds over head flash, with rain sure to follow later. The back seat was pressed down, she was in his arms, and they were in a light blanket watching the credits roll upward on the drive-in movie screen.

This would end soon, they both knew it. She was heading to one coast, him to another. They’d both gotten into the colleges of their dreams, and now the whole rest of their lives were conspiring to pull them apart. But that’s how high school went.

They were lucky enough in that there was no regret, nothing unspoken, no hidden animosities. She was his best friend, and he was hers. They were partners through the biggest years of each other’s lives. Really, there wasn’t much more you could ask than that.

The credits for one movie finished and the screen went white, a blinding terminus.

But then, it went dark again, as the next movie began.

This would end soon, but not tonight. He pulled her closer to him in the meantime.

Memphis Note
The Summer Avenue drive-in is the only one in the city. Horrible and crappy and dirty, just like a drive-in should be. Because when you go to the drive-in, you don’t go for a great picture or stunning sound, you go to be with people. The movie is just an excuse to gather, the people are the reason you go.

Joe Leibovich

Jerry steps out of the courthouse into the warm summer air, the sweat immediately beading up under his suit. By the time he’s made it to Confederate Park, he’s soaked.

Sitting on a bench, waiting, is Jerry’s irregular noon appointment: a homeless man named Kyle.

“You high?” Jerry asks, suspiciously.

Kyle’s eyes twinkle back. “Just a bit.”

“Dammit, we had a deal.” Jerry says, holding out a sandwich and can of Pepsi.

“I know,” he said, snatching the proffered lunch. “And I broke it. What are you gonna do about that, Mister Lawyer Man?”

“Sometimes I don’t even know why I do this.”

Kyle snorts while shoveling the sandwich into his mouth.

“You do it ‘cause you’re every bad lawyer stereotype rolled into one pathetic mess of amorality. You talk to me because you’re so completely numb to anything but the “Argument” you have no idea if what you’re arguing right in the first place. You talk to me because we were kids together, and everyone else hates you.”

He cracks the soda open, chugging most of it in one go.

“Face it, Jerr, I’m like the last bit of your humanity. And look at the sorry state I’m in.”

Memphis Note
Confederate Park sits on the low bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, just down from the courthouse and city hall, next to the University of Memphis law school, and across the street from one of the most important business buildings in Memphis. But, its main occupants are the homeless that sleep on its benches. I’m always struck by the contrast of wealth and power to a complete lack of it whenever I’m downtown.