Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Wayne Kee

In one hand, he held today’s Commercial Appeal, with his face resplendent and eyes blood shot on the front page.

In the other, a pink slip from the job he’d just been fired from.

“Dude.” Was all he could bring himself to say.


Just the other day, he was having the time of his life. Hanging out in the park, playing the didg’, making eyes at that pretty girl with the dreads and wooden plugs, smoking some of the kind bud. You know, just celebrating 4-20 with all God’s natural gifts.

But this? This was a total bummer.

How was he supposed to know that lanky guy with the camera wasn’t just some chill bro out to enjoy the festivities, like the rest of them? The cops weren’t narcing on them, so why did this guy have to?

Man, was that guy a buzzkill.

Ok, yeah, he probably shouldn’t have called into work saying he had the stomach flu, but that’s besides the point. It was four-freakin’-twenty, that’s like a national holiday in some places, right?

He just needed to relax. Don’t regret things you can’t control, right?

Wait, was that how it went?

“Whatever, dude.”

Memphis Note
In what I’m sure an aggressive act of schadenfreude, every April 21st, the Commercial Appeal publishes a picture of the group of stoners that gathered the previous day at Overton Park to celebrate the unofficial holiday of marijuana. And invariably, some one loses their job because their boss sees them in the paper. Which is admittedly, bad, but also just a little bit funny.

April Steele

“The kid ain’t ready.”

There were four of us in the expansive suite at the Hotel Chisca.

“I’ve seem him spit. He can sell.”

The two standing men, arguing about whether or not I could hack it as a mule auctioneer.

“You know, I could just talk to him myself.”

Me, the twenty-something kid, sitting on a stiff chair, eager to take his piece before the mule market dried up.

“Think you’re ready, boy? To step into the walls of my castle? To work under my name?”

Lastly, the Colonel. Mister M.R Meals, the obese god of mule sellers. He sat on a loveseat, taking up the entire thing by himself. A cane with a mule’s head and inlaid gold filigree was propped off to the side. His white seersucker suit was impeccably pressed.

“Back in ’39, there was a day I sold two mules a minute for the whole damn day.” The Colonel pointed at me with a sausage finger. “You think you could keep up with somethin’ like that?”

“I suspect. Least if I don’t, I know I can out run you.”


Then a guffaw of laughter from the Colonel.

I was hired on the spot.

Memphis Note
An extension of Memphis being the cotton capital of the world was that it was also the mule capital of the world. Why? Because mules were the main tool of the farm to plow the fields. Amongst the auctioneers that made the mule trading business run, Colonel M.R. Meals was the best. Over the course of his extensive career he sold nearly a hundred and seventy million dollars worth of mules, much of that here in Memphis. Sadly, the mule market shrunk dramatically with the rise of industrial farm tools after World War II.

Pamela Stanfield

The two men looked up at the bill nailed to the telegraph pole. There was a woodcutting of a dead rat on its back, X’s for eyes, and some very bold text that only one of them could read.

“What’s it say, Georgy Boy?” Asked Mathias, the illiterate one of the pair, suddenly feeling very self conscious about his pet rat crawling about his shoulders. “What’d they want with poor little Wrinklenose? He ain’t never hurt nobody.”

“Got nothin’ to do with your fleabit rat.” Georgy Boy leaned in closer to the bill, studying the caption under the illustration with a furrowed brow. “How ‘bout that…”

“What? What’s it say?” Mathias whined and stamped his foot. Wrinklenose didn’t appreciate the jostling and bit his ear in retaliation.

“Says they’re lookin’ for trash collectors and rat catchers. Union boy’s’ve finally decided to clean the streets up. Callin’ it a potential public health disaster.”

“Well nuts to that, I say. They won’t be getting any help from the likes of us, will they boy?” Mathias scratched the rat’s head. It snapped at his fingers.

“They’re payin’ fifty cents a day.”

Mathias thumped the rat off his shoulder. “Where do I sign up?”

Memphis Note
The spring after they’d occupied Memphis, the Union forces finally decided to do something about the rising cesspool that was the Memphis streets. They hired a hundred men, and pointed them at the horde of rats and mountains of trash in an attempt that this last-minute clean would help stave off the disease that swept into the city every summer.

Scott Brown

He nursed a cup of coffee at a table by himself, rolling a copper fare token between his fingers.

Lord, did he hate coffee. To him, it tasted like burnt dirt mixed with water. But, if he loaded up enough cream and sugar into it he could bear it. No amount of sweetening could cover up the shame he tasted in each cup, though.

The diner rumbled as the trolley rolled past, silverware vibrating on the plate. It was Trolley 613. That used to be his car. Before he’d been too drunk one morning to pay attention. His old girl looked good after the repairs and a new coat of paint.

He held up the token, looking through the spaces cut out around the M in the middle. His wife had given it to him the day he’d started as a trolley driver.

It was all she’d left him when his drinking had gotten to be more than she could take. It was the poorest sort of substitute for her.

But it was all he had these days. That, and his sobriety.

He waved the waitress over and ordered another cup of coffee, making sure she brought him extra cream.

Memphis Note
The Memphis Street Car Company was formed in the last years of the 1800s out of the disparate and numerous passenger rail companies in the Memphis area. It would lay miles upon miles of track in the Memphis area, and had hundreds of cars working under its banner at its peak. Sadly, the affordability of the car and the suburbs all but killed the company. It was taken over by the city and now operates as the public Memphis Area Transit Authority.

Brandon Dill

“Nothing that’s said at this table, and I mean nothing, is for public consumption. Don’t tell anyone. Not wives, not girlfriends, not Facebook. Total cone of silence.”

Winston was saying the words, but the coffee was doing the talking. The three of them had been up for two days straight, and each coped with the exhaustion in their own way. Steve stayed away from caffeine, instead preferring regular smoke breaks to keep him going. Carl was a Red Bull man, but Carl was also broke, and thusly, dead tired.

“Who am I going to tell?” Steve eyed the mug in Winston’s hand as he spoke, watching it shake erratically. “I’m a freelance computer programmer. I can go a week where the only other living creature I see is my cat.”

“Loose lips sink ships.” The mug rattled as Winston set it down. “We get a few things ironed out, and it’ll be liftoff, baby.”

“Things like where we plan on setting up shop. Office space is expensive.” The bags under Carl’s eyes hung off his face like dried plums.

“We’ll do it here.” Winston announced. “Apple started in a garage. We can start in my kitchen. Just don’t tell anyone.”

Memphis Note
There is a lot going on in Memphis for the entrepreneurs right now. Especially technology entrepreneurs. One of the more interesting events is the regular 48 Hour Launch, where anyone is able to pitch an idea, have people decide if they want to work on it, then spend a weekend turning out a product and a presentation to a panel of judges that award cash prizes. All it takes is an idea and the drive to push it through.