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Flamingos and Cokes

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

A humorous short story of an artist, her collection, and what happens when biting your tongue is out of the realm of possibility.

“Flamingos and Cokes”, her latest art installation, was receiving wide critical acclaim, no easy feat in New York City; she, however, was looking for the exit—any exit—to return to the peninsula of bare feet and sunshine.

The gallery was filled to capacity with high society and a bar that churned out drinks like today was Fat Tuesday and everyone was about to suit up and walk with Jesus into the desert for forty days and nights.

Oh, Jesus take the wheel, Sadie thought, bracing herself for the approaching pièce de resistance in attendance. She could hear Granny’s voice in her head saying, “Now sugar, you’re gonna meet people you don’t like, but you just have to be better.” With a wink she’d add, “Every Sunday you can pray for their soul or your own forgiveness.”

Unfortunately, the only thing close enough capable of doling out defensive maneuvers were the bottles of champagne behind the bar. Gauging the distance and hurdling ability of her little black dress, she envisioned the headlines: A Jump Start to Gala or perhaps Upper Class Suffers Upper Cut. Neither were the feature she sought for tonight’s event.

A tuxedoed server with impeccable timing strolled by, and Sadie grabbed the closest flute on the tray. Sadie timed her sip as Madeline Wray, that aged heiress of lore, stood expectantly before her. If wealth and elitism had a child, Madeline was the progeny. And that progeny was the glittering, tailored embodiment of excess and decadence, with a weaponry of words that gutted nameless untold victims.

“Well done, Sadie. I must say I never expected such atrocious things as flamingos to garner such acclaim,” Madeline said, wrists gesturing to the walls with a polished flourish. Continuing, she remarked, “And what are those cylindrical things pictured? Ah yes, ‘Cokes’. Rather barbaric to drink directly from aluminum.”

“Yes, well, one must adapt when the garden hose is not readily available for pouring,” Sadie said under her breath.

“Pardon me, what was that?” Madeline questioned.

“I said one must adapt when the garden’s rose is not readily available for touring. I had to find a new muse,” Sadie quickly covered her prior remark.

“I have heard indirectly that in less desirable parts of the country, these plastic abominations adorn lawns. Truly revolting if you ask me, I could not fathom such nonsensical decorations.” Madeline continued, with each word loosening Sadie’s control of her own lips.

“Well, in more desirable parts of the country, I have heard directly that plastic abominations adorn the ranks of the upper echelon. A sad state of affairs when one believes arrogance will win the battle against time. Don’t you agree, Madeline?” Sadie countered.

Before Madeline could respond, Lana, Sadie’s agent traipsed over and gracefully maneuvered Madeline to a circle of renowned art critics. Walking away, Lana looked over her shoulder at Sadie, widening her eyes and raising her eyebrows, a mild chastening.

That type of chastening Sadie could deal with; she was battle-hardened, a survivor of ‘pick your switch’ and the alternative use for wooden spoons and spatulas. She never understood the stereotype of Southern women being fragile. Every single one she knew was about as fragile as a freight train.

Sadie downed the remaining champagne in one gulp and headed for the exit sign. She had a plane to catch.


Far removed and in what seemed like a million miles away, Sadie wrapped herself in an old hand-me-down quilt. Discolored from age, the double wedding ring pattern nonetheless insulated her against the slight chill in the evening air.

The rocking chair she sat in creaked back and forth, rhythmically marking the time. Her cell phone rang unexpectedly, a blaring interruption to the solitude. How in God’s green earth was her phone working—out here? The display identified the caller as Lana; leave it to Lana to find the one lone bar of signal strength in the entire county. Relentless, that one.

Sadie let it go to voicemail. It rang again…and again. Her peace now spoiled; Sadie decided she may as well answer now.

“Yes, Lana,” Sadie said by way of greeting.

“Sadie, WHERE ARE YOU? I’ve been looking for you everywhere. We have engagements tomorrow, and you’ve missed every single preparatory meeting. We have to get this right; where are you? I’ll send a driver,” Lana burst forth without taking a breath.

“Lana, I hate to break it to you, but your driver is not going to want to come where I am,” Sadie replied.

“Don’t be ridiculous, he drives to every single borough.”

“Well, he doesn’t drive to rural Florida.”

“Of course he—what did you just say? Please tell me that the phone is breaking up. Can you hear me now? Hello, hello,” Lana incredulously responds.

“Lana, I can’t do it. I can’t deal with those people.”

“Sadie, we’ll work through this. I’ll come to you; here I’m booking my flight now. Where the heck am I going? I need a destination. What’s the destination?”

“The corner of tall pines and a hay field,” Sadie said as she repressed a smile.

“Sadie! Tell me you did not….” Lana trailed off.

Lana was a force alright, but she was a fighting force for Sadie. A force propeling her forward when she wanted to withdraw from the world. Looking out over the railing, first towards the front drive and then beyond to the fields, Sadie sighed softly.

“Lana, I think I know the title of my next collection. Garden Hoses and Bare Feet.”

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I want more Sadie!

Holly Bills
Holly Bills
Jul 25, 2022
Replying to

Sadie came together quite nicely; I will have to think about revisiting her and giving her some more adventures.

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