Review - "Flamingo" by Sarah Black
Short, rich, beautiful
When he was a young man, William was strongly urged by his father to move to New York City where he might fit in better, find more "like him". Because William sinned in the worst way. He failed his Army physical and was gay. So off he went, attending college and eventually taking over the bookstore he loved so much.
Now, at 61, he predates the Stonewall Riots but is too old to do much more, be much more, than the owner of his little fading bookstore. And enjoy the occasional night with Tommy, the young man who goes to school on GI bill benefits. Tommy loves his books, and spends the night with William sometimes, when he is short of cash for food and has a need.
And so it goes, until Tommy's sometime boyfriend, Marley, gets them all involved in trouble. Something that threatens all their safety. And it may be up to William to be the man, the hero, he has always been afraid to be.
This wonderful little short story from Sarah Black knocked me off my feet. It is a wonder - a gentle hymn to one man's strength and caring and, yes, redemption.
Because William has given up, in his own way. Happy to have crumbs, he doesn't dare ask for a whole slice of life. And Tommy, the beautiful young man who is everything he could ask for, is right within his grasp. All he has to do is reach...
The prose in this story wowed me like nothing else recently.
"His evenings with Tommy were like bright flowers, like sunshine in a life the color of fog."
"It felt more like Tommy was his great love, and they'd missed each other somehow in another life."
"Tommy came sneaking into his heart on little cat feet, like Carl Sandberg's fog, and curled there warm and safe. William just tried to hold very still and quiet, so he wouldn't scare him away."
And, oh my God,
"Betrayal was the most painful way for the heart to break."
I loved this story. I read it through once, then again. Then I came back to it two or three more times to hold it close to my heart so I could break the chill on it's warmth and hope.
Good job, Ms. Black. You made winter more bearable for me this year.