“Memphis”

I was between jobs, getting by on what I’d skimmed from the till my last bartending gig. I liked to sip Stoli straight up to keep an even keel in the wee hours and they fired me for drinking on the job. So I was biding my time at a roadhouse by the river, nursing a longneck, tapping my foot to a rock-a-billy trio with a stand-up bass when there, I swear, across the smoky room, appears the girl of my dreams.

She was sporting denim shorts a half size too small, halter-top of a style that took me way back. Eyes dark and shadowed, lips curling into the semblance of a smile. She looks like trouble I thought. I made a beeline through the crowd. Up close she looked even better, a pug nose once broken that had healed off kilter. A gap between her front teeth begging me to worry it with my tongue.

We danced hard, bumping hips with bad intent. When finally the band unplugged, and the lights came up tattooed bouncers herded me and Sheila out into the night. Of course I didn’t know then that Sheila was not her real name.

We necked in the gravel parking lot straddling my bike, a chromed Virago, beneath a fat harvest moon. Indian summer. Sheila’s back arched back over the fuel tank as if for a fashion photo shoot. Blue lights flashed over the scene. A two-way radio crackled nearby, but we were bulletproof. We rode away when we were good and ready, a projectile flying through the barrel of the night.

We spent days together, a week of them, maybe, Sheila apparently also between jobs. We never got around to discussing careers. Aquamarine 320- thread-count sheets draped the king-sized waterbed in her basement efficiency. She kept a hot wax machine.We went at each other with abandon, improvising with what was at hand—thriftstore neckties, ice cubes, a roach clip, the wax, and the like.

We lived on smoothies, loading all manner of fruit into the blender, powders from the health food store and pricey vodka. Mostly we were fucking or sleeping, night and day, practicing epilation, reciting aloud favorite passages from my dogeared Captain Maximus. Motorcycles turned her on, she confessed. I taught her how to lean into the corners, to exit rolling on the throttle. When the rent came past due, I cashed my last unemployment check.

The next morning I awoke to a rumble. Sheila it seemed had lifted my keys and wallet. I pulled on my jeans, stumbling outside barefoot just in time to see her riding south with the wind in her hair in the general direction of Memphis. An awfully beautiful thing to behold. I dropped to my knees in the street. Sheila! I cried. Goddamn. I still long to wrap my hands once more around that lovely throat. Even now I think, if I’d known then what I know now, I’m afraid I’d do it all pretty much the same.

 

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Featured Fiction New Fiction Essays/Articles (all) Why I Write Advice / Suggestions
Sort by

“Play Me Out, Jack Hopke”

Saturdays I listen to “Saturday Night Jazz” on WWNO. Jack Hopke spins records from places I’ve never seen—Spain, Braz
2017-09-28 13:00:11
james-a-jordan

8

“We Need Stories”

I enjoy the tales we need to tell, the restless narratives that keep people from drinking bleach or
2019-09-20 23:44:43
rusheby

0

Why I Write: Jim Powell

Old School Mission [for “Why I Write”] I’m writing this essay in March 2018, eleven days out of an ele
2019-09-16 23:45:09
jepowell

0

“Been Ingenious”

People called Ricky ingenious whether they thought it true or not. Most folks choose to remain blithely ignorant to
2019-09-09 11:06:24
jason-graff

0

“Bellwether”

Through the seventeenth century, Europeans believed ringing church bells would
2019-09-06 23:43:12
gagesaylor

0

“Seven Signatures”

I   Not his name or a first crush or even the harsh assertion of a cuss word but an arrow, carved
2019-09-04 09:41:26
acjones

0

“The Colors of Pain”

“Gut pain’s always the worst,” says the medic. I could tell him he’s right, but I want to keep my pain p
2019-09-02 10:58:28
skip

0

“There is Always So Much”

What we did that summer: we hung around torn-down barns and took photos of each other with that old camera and
2019-08-30 23:41:29
mattliebowitz4

0

Banding Together: Capturing Female Friendship in Fiction

On the last weekend of last November, I flew home to LA to see a band. My former roommate picked me up from the
2019-08-28 08:17:11
lfchristianson

0

“Two Chambers”

I. The boys go out for groceries but come home with matching rifles. “Antiques,” Son
2019-08-26 11:06:59
suttonstrother

0

Christopher Chambers

About Christopher Chambers

Christopher Chambers has written for television and film, and has published fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and book reviews in The Gettysburg Review, Ninth Letter, Quarterly West, Carolina Quarterly, Indiana Review, Exquisite Corpse, CopperNickel, Louisiana Literature, Denver Quarterly, Epoch, Georgetown Review, Notre Dame Review, Washington Square, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Lit,BOMB Magazine, Fourteen Hills, and elsewhere. His work has received four Pushcart Prize nominations, and has been anthologized in French Quarter Fiction, Knoxville Bound, Maple Street Rag, and Best American Mystery Stories 2003. He received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for creative writing in 2008. He is editor of New Orleans Review.