Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Vanessa Waites

She took a long, slurping pull on the straw of her massive lemonade.

“God I love the South,” she said with a satisfied sigh. “You people fry everything you eat, and dump sugar in everything you drink.”

The head vet of the Memphis Zoo gave the representative from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums a perplexed look. “Thank you, I think…but I’m still not quite sure as to the point of this visit.”

“I’m here about babies, specifically elephant babies.” She took another pull on the straw.

The head vet’s expression shifted immediately to a scowl. “Asali’s accident was just that – an accident. It’s all in the official report. I’ve got better things to do.” He stood up to go, furious.

The woman across from him continued to drink her lemonade, unfazed by his outburst. “You done now? Got that out of your system? I’m not here about that, well not specifically.”

The vet didn’t sit, but he didn’t leave, either.

“People like babies,” She began. “Especially freakish pink elephant babies for some reason. We know Asali’s fertile and we’d like to knock her up.

“You guys had a crap run. I’m here to give you a second shot.”

Memphis Zoo
When the elephant Asali accidentally killed her calf in 2009, just days after it was born, a pall fell over the city. Hopefully, happiness will replace that lingering memory of that accident when Asali’s herdmate Gina gives birth to her first calf in mid-2012.

Caroline Mitchell

“I don’t know, Terrance, it sounds risky.” Said his friends, causing mumbles of agreement and furtive nods to ripple through the rest of the group.

Terrance stomped his foot. He wouldn’t be denied. “Look, I’m telling you it’s dead simple. A little bit of misdirection, then, BLAMO!” He slapped his palms together to drive his point home. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

“We could get bit.” Said his friend, frowning at the realization.

“You’re not going to get bit, guys.”

“Frank got bit.” Came a voice from the back, causing another wave of nods and mumbles.

“Well, Frank’s an idiot and that’s his own fault.” Terrance huffed back.

He was losing them, it was now or never. He took a breath, then went for it.

“The difference between us and them is this.” He held up one hand. “And this.” Then the other. “We’re ambidextrous. They don’t even have hands.”

“All you have to do is distract them with one hand.” Terrance waved a hand in the air. “Then pull their tail with the other.” He whipped his arm out and snapped, sending his fellow gibbons howling.

“Tomorrow we show those horrible little otters whose pen this really is.”

Memphis Note
The best part of the China section of the Memphis Zoo is not the pandas, but rather the gibbon and otter enclosure. The animals are like rival gangs, constantly battling for supremacy, in a never-ending war of pulled tails and nipped hindquarters. They don’t actually hurt each other, but I’m willing to bet they have more fun than any other animals in the zoo. I know I get a kick out of watching them.

Bruce VanWyngarden

The sun hung in a cerulean blue sky. Perfect weather for them to check out the animal enclosures.

“What do you think she’s doing?” Perkins asked, squinting through the glare on the glass.

“I…I have no idea.” Said Winchester, eyes wide.

“No! It can’t be! Guys! I totally know what she’s doing!” Cleveland excitedly clapped at his moment of clarity. “She’s grooming it! She’s looking for fleas and mites and other stuff! She’s after a snack!”

The three friends hooted and hollered at this realization. Their fourth, however, was more taciturn.

“Guys, you, uh, don’t think there are any, you know, alligators around here do you?” Lamar barely whispered the A-word, fearful one might pop out of the air and grab him.

“Enough, Lamar.” Winchester chided. “You saw one alligator on the way over here and you’re still freaking out? Let it go.”

On the other side of the glass, the woman in the middle of vacuuming realized she was being watched. When one of the four rhesus monkeys sitting on her balcony waved at her, she shrieked and ran.

“They watch us all day and we never do that,” said Perkins, annoyed.

The others nodded in agreement.

Memphis Note
One hot summer in the late 70s, four rhesus monkeys escaped from the Memphis Zoo. They fled north, taking up residence at the Parkway Apartments, a condo building mostly populated be retirees. Where they stayed, much to the consternation of the residents and the zoo keepers, for several days, getting a taste of what it was like to watch instead of be watched.

Christiana Leibovich

He was very tired these days. Even more so than normal, which was something considering he slept nearly fourteen hours a day when he was a spry, young thing.

When he came here no one cared that he’d been in the movies or that he’d come from across the ocean or that Volney wasn’t even his real name. His new neighbors just looked him over, turned their noses up, and went about their business.

Ingrates, he’d thought at first. They should appreciate being in the presence of a star like him. But, when the meals brought to him were the same as everyone else’s and he was given exercise hours just like everyone else, he realized that he was the same as the rest of them.

And for a while, that Volney made very sad. Not a deep sadness, but an accepting kind of sadness. The sort you get when things have changed forever and won’t go back.

He still had his roar, though. The resonant, primal, echoing shout that had made him famous.

As he headr the gate clank open for their morning feeding, Volney decided that he should remind everyone why lions are the king of all beasts.

Memphis Note
The lion you see at the beginning of classic MGM movies is the Volney of this story. He was born in the Dublin Zoo and originally named Slats. He was brought to MGM by his trainer Volney Phifer, his future namesake. After retiring from the movie business, Volney was sold to the Memphis Zoo, where he spent the rest of the day in the zoo’s cat house, his roar echoing through the building and cinematic history.

Jonathan McCarver

I always wear my tail. I don’t always show if off.

It’s just too problematic sometimes. At work, people say it’s unprofessional. When I’m out, people ask too many awkward questions that I don’t have time to answer.

Most times, it’s tucked into my pants, a slight bulge on the back no one ever notices. Today’s one of those times.

I’m at the zoo, watching my family move around inside of their enclosures. They’re not really my family, I know this, but it doesn’t change how close I feel to them.

My name’s TigerGrowl. I’m a furry, an outcast in my own skin.

That’s not really my name, but it’s one I feel better describes me than my real one. I feel more like those great cats behind the moat than I do the mundanes around me.

I see them move, I feel desire seeping into my muscles, and I know that’s what I’m supposed to be.

Of course people judge me. But I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done to be closer to my fur-self.

Maybe one day people will understand, but until then, I’ll keep my tail hidden away. I know it’s there. That’s all I need.

Memphis Note
Memphis is home to one of the largest furry conventions in the United States. Furries are a group of people that feel closer to animals than humans, but not in a bestial way. They dress up in mascot-like costumes or tails and ears and have private names for their fur personas. And believe me when I say they are far from the strangest thing about this city.