Memphis Fast Fiction Selection

Posted by: TGST

The sawbones had finished with her and waved the two lawmen in.

She was laid up in bed, a thick wrap of fresh gauze around her head, holding a mass of bandages against where the bullet had grazed her skull. Sawbones had said if it had been any closer, she’d be blind. Or dead.

The two men gave her a curt nod and started right in with their questions.

“Ma’am. Would you care to state your name for the record?” began the taller of the pair.

“I’m Big Mary.”

“That your given name?” asked the shorter one.

“No, it ain’t,” She snorted. “But, that’s what folks know me as.”

“What happened here earlier this evening? Looks like some one took a shot at you.”

“Oh, nothin’ much.” She gave grin, even though it hurt her to do so. “Just one man comin’ home to find another man takin’ advantage of a privilege he thought was his alone.”

“And what might that privilege be?”

“Me.” She widened her grin as far as the pain would allow.

The lawmen gave each other awkward looks.

“And these men, what were their names?”

“John.” And then, before they could ask, “Yes, they’re both Johns.”

Memphis Note
This story of a fictionalized account of what actually happened in February of 1862. According to the reporting paper, Big Mary was a woman of the worst sort of reputation. Me? I don’t know, I think she’s pretty much the epitome of everything Memphis.



“Piss,” Jack said aloud in the alleyway to no one but himself.

He considered swearing again, something stronger, but held his tongue. His employer, the widow Mrs. M.E. Conway, abhorred any sort of profanity, and though she wasn’t with him, he felt it unwise to risk.

Skulking onward, Jack tried to reason how exactly he was going to spin his story to the Widow Conway. The fact that he had spent the most of the night gambling at Joe Wetter’s establishment was intractable. As was the unfortunate nature of nearly ever penny belonging to the Widow. Money he was not supposed to have in the first place.

“Piss,” he said again.

Jack was already on thin ice after she found him drunk on her deceased husband’s brandy. In addition to her hatred of profanity, the Widow Conway was also a vehement adherent to the Temperance movement. She had been most cross with him. Now, he feared, this newest infraction might strain her good graces to the breaking point. And what was gentlemen like him supposed to do if he was turned out in a place like Memphis?

Jack really didn’t have any choice, did he? He would have to lie.

Memphis Note
With the exception of Jack, all of these characters are real. Joe Wetter did run a gambling house in the 1880s, and it did take $600 from Mrs M.E. Conway’s personal secretary during a night of gambling. We know this because the secretary ratted Wetter out to Conway and her dear friend Judge Hadden, who had Wetter arrested on embezzlement charges when he refused to return the money!



She pulls her head up from the pool in time to see the others lining up by the door.

Hearing the giant coming, she scrambles up over the edge of the pool, down the slick granite steps and over to the rest of the group.

The giant comes into view. In its hand is a stick, which it taps on the ground. They know what’s coming next.

Suddenly the gate swings open and they are sprinting through the bluster of the open air. They don’t wait for the giant, they all knew where they’re going, he has spent weeks training them.

They stop in front of the massive reflective slabs. She vainly eyes her reflection, cocking her head to the side to get a better look. Then giant presses a button, the slabs slide open and in they go to a cavernous room.

He follows behind them and presses another button. The slabs close again and the whole room starts to shake.

After a few moments, room stops shaking and the slabs slide open again, a row of giants on either side of them. Her knees wobble a little.

They start running again.

Quacking the whole way to the fountain.

Memphis Note
This story is, of course, about the Peabody Ducks. For seventy plus years, the ducks have been ushered down from their rooftop pen to the fountain in the lobby every day at 11am, then back up again at 5pm. If there’s a better example of the surreal sort of magic that is Memphis, I don’t know what it is.


Share this Great and Secret Thing:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter
  Like this piece? Click here to vote it to the top!

Have Your Say


Recent Posts



The Great and Secret Thing is built on a Wordpress theme originally designed by Peter From.