The Blue Flamingo

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
An exclusive Caribbean haven for the wealthy few who want to escape from their big business lives.

Submitted: August 24, 2014

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Submitted: August 24, 2014

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THE BLUE FLAMINGO

 The Blue Flamingo had once been the most popular ‘in place’ for the celebrities to spend their evenings when on holiday at Flamingo Bay Beach. During that era, the beach was lined with tall delicate palm trees with leaves as fine as a woman’s hair, which blew softly in the warm breezes that blew off the sea. The deep blue almost black, star studded sky was the witness to the nightly events at The Blue Flamingo. The small tavern type bar was not at all luxurious. The building was made of wood and the walls were painted in tropical colours. The barmen were locals who wore T-shirts with the logo of the bar, and the musicians wore loose unbuttoned shirts in bright colours. The evenings were lively with Latin dance music and a resident singer, who warbled out into the night. The mood was loud, lively, and above all - happy. The feeling that everyone who visited there wished to retain, on their return to their otherwise grey insignificant lives, was one of having passed their summer holiday in an earthly paradise. The foreigners arrived with skins that hadn’t seen sunlight since their summer holidays the year before. They couldn’t wait to remove their clothes and rush down to the beach, lather themselves in sun screen, and relax on a towel spread out on a sun bed, till they couldn’t stand the heat of the scorching rays any more. When the sun was at its zenith, the sunbathers made their weary way back to their lodgings for lunch and a sleep. There were only a dozen rooms in The Blue Flamingo, and no other hotels or restaurants on that part of the coast. The only way it could be reached was by boat. The visitors were content with the simplicity and privacy of Flamingo Bay Beach. When the owner, a wealthy non-resident, was asked why the name The Blue Flamingo, she said it was because amongst all those pink ones, a blue one would be sure to stand out, and she wanted her property to stand out - and it did.

Molly was an elderly lady, who had spent her life making money in all types of business ventures. She had started out life as a model, but as time had gone by, so she had passed out of favour for the fashion houses. This was not quite as worrisome as one might assume, as during her time as model at the top, she had met some of the richest men imaginable. This had given her a foothold into the world of high finance. Along the way she had collected a couple of husbands, who were for decorative purposes rather than for romantic idylls. She had invested a good sum of money in Flamingo Bay and felt it was her slice of paradise for retirement, and to enjoy until such a time arrived.

Two barmen and three women were employed at the hotel, all islanders. These people knew all about how to mix the local cocktails and other drinks, which looked appealing in their blue-coloured glasses. The food was delicious and typical of that area of the Caribbean. The visitors might be some of the wealthiest where they originated from, but once in Flamingo Bay they were just another group of beachcombers wearing faded clothes, the men with overgrown facial hair and the ladies with their hair scraped back in scruffy buns.

A typical sunny day at the hotel started with turquoise blue waves breaking on the white sandy beach, and those residents who were up and about, having breakfast and taking in the natural beauty before them. Some had spent the night sleeping on a hammock, unafraid of mosquitoes or any other insects.

Norman was that strange mix of actor and writer, which meant he had more than one source of income. When he had a series of articles to write, he usually took himself to Flamingo Bay and stayed at The Blue Flamingo. He wasn’t plagued by unwelcome members of the general public there, and was able to indulge in his laid-back side without being seen. He walked into the bar and sat down at one of the tables.

“Good morning, Sir. Would you like to have your breakfast here or outside?” the speaker was Patricia, who was the resident singer and waitress.

“Hello, Patricia, how are you? I’ll have breakfast here, and then go for a walk.”

Patricia asked him, “What would you like today?”

Norman said, “The same as I had yesterday and the day before. I’m a man of routine, unless of course you’ve got something original and exciting on offer?”

Patricia laughed, and walked into the kitchen to give Norman’s breakfast order to Talina, who did a lot of the cooking, and served drinks when not working in the kitchen.

Chris, who, when not at Flamingo Bay was an investment banker, strolled into the bar and sat down at a table that overlooked the beach. He was not a very good investment banker, but that piece of information he had never told anyone he met at the hotel. As far as they were concerned he was financially well off, when in fact the opposite was true. Chris had been excellent at one time in his life, but it had down-turned when he had trusted someone’s advice, which he shouldn’t have done. Since that mistake, Chris had never really made it back up to the top. Patricia asked him what he’d like for breakfast, and he said, “A loaded gun.” Seeing her incredulous face, he said, “I didn’t mean it. I’ll have scrambled eggs, fruit salad, and coffee, please.”

Patricia went back into the kitchen again, to hand in Chris’s order.

Molly entered the bar from the beach, and shook hands with each of her guests. She knew more about them than they realized, and she also knew that they could trust her. Over the years, an intimacy had grown between her and her clients. It was never necessary to state certain things, everyone knew that there were some subjects that should not be mentioned.

Talina had an aged American friend called John, who was in fact the father of Kyle, Talina’s son. That was one of those things never spoken about, partly because it was nobody’s business, and most of the guests knew anyway. At the time of the story, Kyle had started working for a man who ran fishing boats out of beaches just along the Flamingo Bay Beach, and the young man had discovered that the business wasn’t as honest as it was supposed to be. The only fish that were allowed to be caught were the big ones, and the man Kyle worked for was catching the baby ones and selling them to hotels and restaurants on other parts of the island. The prices he charged were making him a very rich man, but the consumers didn’t complain about the prices as the baby fish were much tastier than the bigger ones. John had decided to protect Kyle from being exploited, he wasn’t quite sure how to do it, but he was willing to try.

Patricia had a friend called Oriana, who was anxious to leave the island. She repeatedly said to Patricia, “Let’s get out of here and make ourselves a better living in a more important place. It doesn’t even have to be a beach, only somewhere different and decent.”

Patricia hated it when Oriana began speaking in that particular way, because she knew she had no argument to fight her friend’s words with. “I think we should wait till the season is over before making such a definitive decision.”

Oriana said nothing at that request, instead, waited patiently for Patricia to make up her mind for good and all.

In the evenings, the small group of musicians played dance music until the early hours of the morning. Patricia was always in attendance on the customers who came from other places on the island to drink and dance. She inveigled Oriana into working with her in the evenings, by saying, “It isn’t a bad job. All you have to do is smile and serve drinks. Nothing to it, and you’ll probably get some tips, too.”

Oriana said in reply, “A little extra towards our leaving money. It won’t come amiss, that’s for sure.”

Talina worked in the kitchen preparing the popular dishes that the visitors liked to partake of in the cool evening. Tables and chairs were set up outside for those who preferred to eat in the open air with the rolling sea as background music, instead of the dance music inside. On full-moon evenings, some of the dancers danced from the hotel towards the sea on the silver path created by the moonlight on the water. The waves were gentle, and swimming was a must for some, the sea at night was too romantic to resist. People shed their clothes quickly and easily, to move into the soothing waves.

Kyle would take some of the fish he had helped catch to the hotel for his mother to turn into the spicy dishes so anticipated by visitors and locals alike. On one evening, John was present when Kyle entered the kitchen with baskets of fish. Talina opened the baskets and on seeing the contents, she said, “Have you stolen this lot?”

“No, I haven’t. Today we caught so many, that all of us came away with something. I got the shellfish and a few other kinds. What’s the matter with you? Don’t you like presents?”

“I have no objection to presents, but you know that catching small fish is illegal, and now they are dead. What am I supposed to do with them?” Talina said in a scolding tone of voice.

“Kyle, what your mother is trying to tell you is that once she has cooked the smaller fish for a meal, then the guests will expect them again and again, and that’s not on as far as the island committee is concerned. The small fish must be protected.”

Kyle stared at his father and mother, and said, “The solution is easy, cook the fish for us and leave it at that. OK?”

Kyle’s parents exchanged glances in agreement, and Talina said, “I’m working in the bar now, making cocktails. I leave you two to chat on,” and she left the kitchen and made her way to the bar.

The two islanders who worked in the bar had several jobs that were obligatory. One of the jobs was to make sure that sand didn’t enter the bedrooms or the bathrooms. Another job was to keep the bright blue neon sign of The Blue Flamingo in tiptop condition. One or other of the men was always to be seen dusting the sign free of the sand which blew up from the beach. The sign glared out into the darkness in what appeared an inappropriate shape. There were no flamingos on the island and it was hard to imagine how the beach had come by its name. The Blue Flamingo moved its head and its long legs, which gave it some kind of authenticity, in spite of its being totally false. Norman had once suggested that it had been named while the owner was drunk, which was an idea that didn’t go down well with Molly, who was abstemious.

Norman was in the habit of walking around and along the beach at all times of the day and at night. One day on one of those strolls, he came across a woman he recognised from a television series many years before. At that time, her name was on everyone’s lips, for her work as well as her scandals. She had been known for her associations with pop stars and actors of dubious reputations. Her name then had been Isla Mobo, no one had the remotest idea where she had found that name, nevertheless that was what she had been known as. Norman saw an elderly woman whose face and body had definitely seen better days. He said nothing as she passed by him on the beach, he felt it was better that way for both of them. To be reminded of when you were once young and beautiful by a complete stranger, isn’t what anyone would want, not even in dreams. So Norman walked on, and might tell Molly or not, he wondered whether she would know who he was talking about.

Molly had the idea every so often, of putting on a party for those who wanted to attend. She had the vague notion that people like getting it together, in spite of her clients being the kind that when they were on the island preferred to be left alone with their thoughts. The two barmen, Seymour and Ashley, were commissioned to work out as many different cocktails as possible. Talina was set to cook a whole lot of food with the help of Oriana and Patricia. In the days leading up to the party, everything was given a thoroughly deep clean. There were coloured lanterns stretching from palm tree to palm tree, which were given a coat of small lights that covered the trunk and the leaves, and multi-coloured paper flowers were used as another way of adding colour to the night.

Talina had surpassed herself, as usual, in the kitchen, and the smell of the delicious food penetrated the hotel and the beach itself. The party nights were always the same, lovely food and drink, and a precious atmosphere accompanied by boleros played by the musicians, that everyone wanted to dance to, and that no one wanted to end. It was as the first light of day came creeping over the horizon, that all the guests and other visitors to the area felt tired and in no mood for partying. When the dawn finally broke, the beach was empty and the plates and glasses had been picked up and cleared away. The only things to be seen were the hammocks and the yachts, with the odd seagull flying above in search of a titbit. The sky and the sea hadn’t acquired the rich blue tone yet, that would come later as the morning wore on and the sun became hotter. The Blue Flamingo sign was switched off, as it wouldn’t have stood out in the glaring sunlight. On the other hand, the hotel did stand out in its bright, almost garish, colours. Nobody was around, everything was peaceful and quiet. Molly was upstairs in her bedroom, feeling that the party had gone off quite well. After all, you never knew when such events would be a success or a failure.

The party turned out to be the last one Molly gave at The Blue Flamingo, because as soon as the last visitors had left the beach, she did too. Molly left Monty Wilson, an old friend, in charge of The Blue Flamingo.

Molly had gone back to the city at the end of the high season to look after her sick husband. He had caught double pneumonia and pleurisy and had eventually died. Fortunately for Molly he hadn’t lingered. She made the decision to stay for a while in the city, and see some of her old contacts before returning to the island.

The island authorities issued a warning over the radio that a massive hurricane was on its way to that particular bay. The yacht owners set sail to the open sea, in order to avoid their vessels being reduced to small pieces of splintered wood. Patricia and Oriana had already left when the guests had done, and they headed for a city where there was more life and they would be able to set up a business for themselves. The musicians joined up with some others and formed an orchestra. Talina, Kyle, and John went to live with him in his house on the mainland.

The night the hurricane struck, it moaned and groaned all night, with the destructive wind blowing with all its might. By the time light had made its appearance, the damage the hurricane had caused was evident. The beach was no more, and what was once soft yellow sand, was now black with earth and stones and other rubbish, which had pushed itself up from the bottom of the sea bed and had landed on the once golden beach. Along what had been the shore line with the swaying palm trees was bare. The trees with their beautiful movements in time with the sea waves had been uprooted and the long hair-like leaves were sodden with sea water. Also, the hotel had been reduced to practically nothing, with just one corner of the wooden walls still remaining upright, with a door swinging lazily on just one hinge, the brilliant paintwork had lost its lustre. The Blue Flamingo neon sign was now lying dejectedly on its side on the ground. The cocktail bar floor was flooded with water and sand. The hammocks had been totally destroyed. The Flamingo Bay Beach area had gone for ever, never to return.

 

Patricia and Oriana read about the hurricane and saw the images on the television. John, Talina, and Kyle, and Norman did too. The many nights by the sea they had spent there, would remain in their memories for ever - the perfume of the night sea, the romantic liaisons that had taken place. The only thing they had to do was remember, and they would be transported back to Molly’s little piece of paradise.

Everyone agreed it was a good thing she never actually saw the hurricane’s work on The Blue Flamingo


© Copyright 2017 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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