Friday, February 13, 2009


#44, Memphis

The jukebox was playing "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" as the sun slowly set outside Earnestine & Hazel's.  Through the window you could watch a single lonely blue trolley that went up and down the main drag of Memphis, empty of passengers.  Down the street and around the corner was the Lorraine Hotel where Martin Luther King was assassinated, a wreath on the balcony and a baby blue fishtail car parked eternally in the lot.  Inside the bar, the red-headed bartender was frying onions under the sign for Famous Soul Burgers as the dim light filtered into the room.  As she faced the grill, you could see on her shoulder blade  the tattoo of a young man's face and letters spelling out Angel Baby. Empty bottles of Coors Light littered the bar while black and white pictures of Patsy Cline and Ray Charles and B.B. King smiled down from behind glass.  Record albums were nailed to the walls.

Through the back door labeled No Dope Smokin' and up the narrow steps lay a warren of rooms that housed a former brothel.  The piano lid was locked and the bathrooms had tubs with clawed feet.  You saw upside down bar stools, bright blue walls, lace curtains and broken jukeboxes.  The wooden floor creaked.  Downstairs, the bartender looked up from the frying onions and said, "You should be here tomorrow night.  It's wild.  It's what they call Trolley Night.  They open up all these doors and you get people walking up and down South Main Street, actin' crazy, drinkin', eatin' cheese."  Instead you went outside and crossed the railroad tracks, past the Loflin Safe & Lock Co. and a motor parts shop, and watched the sun set over the Mississippi.  And just before crossing the tracks, you looked up and found this 44.


Ray Gunn said...

This story is utterly perfect and should be in wider circulation or read in unison by congregations of people on Sundays.

ingless (a particular state of anomie or depression characterized by fixation on past actions and inability to generate new actions)

Therese Cox said...

Shucks. That's sweeter than honeysuckle on a sugar stick. Only thing nicer than reading that is having Patsy singing in the background as I write.

Pierre said...

Great story but I'd like more. You could serialize it over the next 5 or so numbers.

Ne'er Do Evers said...

i picked that song on the jukebox. i also ignored the sign on the door. ahem.

Julie said...

Somehow, my mind read that with Humphrey Bogart's voice.