If you’re looking for a superbly written, well-crafted piece of contemporary fiction, they don’t get much better than Blue Flamingo by Joyce V. Harrison.
The story begins when Dylan Ryker — a young man in his early twenties — leaves Chicago after the unexpected death of his father. Dylan doesn’t really have a destination in mind. But, eventually, he winds up in Pelago, Florida, clutching a matchbook carried around for years by his dad. It has the name of a bar on it — The Blue Flamingo.
Dylan, desperately searching for his mother, who took off when he was a toddler, finds the seedy nightclub, and strikes up a friendship with the lounge’s owner — Rita Cornwall.
Rita takes pity on the young man who washes up at her front door one day in dirty dungarees and several days shy of a shower. He becomes her new bartender and bouncer. Trouble is, the first person he bounces is a local half-wit with a biker buddy. Not good.
Dylan winds up in the hospital several days later, courtesy of his new enemies. But one benefit of the beating is the visitation of a seventeen-year-old beauty who befriends him.
Well, there’s a little more to it than that but, hey — this is something of a romance, after all.
Things get complicated when Jena — Dylan’s new girlfriend — leaves home after her super-religious father becomes abusive. She stays with a friend until her eighteenth birthday, but, on the night of her party, the bad boys return for revenge, and a host of surprises surface in the encounter’s aftermath.
Blue Flamingo is a story of lost hope, complicated relationships, and, ultimately, the power of love, both new and old. Its characters are flawed, but imminently believable, and the novella’s pacing is spot-on.
Five stars-plus to Blue Flamingo. Come on in for a cold draft beer. You’ll be glad you did.