“Dylan, if you don’t listen to me, you’ll never make art again.” Beal gestured with the pistol. “Ever.”
After twelve years of study to obtain his B.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D. degrees in Art and Color Theory, and incurring the $350,000 of private student loan debt that paid for it, Dylan Rousseau was finally back home in Savannah to focus on making art that will change the world for the better.
Unfortunately, his naive attitude towards his student loans (“they’re just tiny numbers on a piece of paper” and two years of default) doesn’t sit well with the bank that loaned him the money, and they’ve tasked an ambitious young banker by the name of Beal Mouron to persuade Dylan to begin paying up.
The bank (Bank of Maraca, whose slogan is “As long as you have a pulse and accept our terms, we loan to you, for YOU! We don’t care about race, ethnicity, gender, gender orientation, religious affiliation, or religious gender orientation affiliation- in fact, we don’t care at all”) doesn’t care how Beal does it, as long as he just gets the job done, and his career hangs in the balance. He hopes to persuade Dylan to begin making regular payments, but the corporate back-up plan is actually making Dylan posthumously famous (“the most profitable artist is a dead artist”) so that his art works, which revert to their ownership upon his death, will go up in value.
Although initially tempted (“Really? They’d make me famous?”), Dylan decides this has some personal drawbacks, namely that he wouldn’t be around the enjoy the fame. And he’s on Panic Beach unless he makes the enormous monthly payments.
He shares a small apartment with his stepbrother and best friend Larry above the Drunken Duck bar that Larry’s transgender mother owns in Savannah, Georgia. Larry is able to get Dylan an interview for a remodeling job, and loans him the keys to his white Ford Escort to get to the exclusive gated development of Ocean’s Keepe, where all the streets are named after maritime disasters.
This is where he meets Lauren Troyon, and things begin to go off the rails. Lauren had hoped that her husband would finally begin paying more attention to her than his work once they’d retired early to Hilton Head Island, but with his new golfing and fishing buddies, he’s neglecting Lauren more than ever.
Lauren has been working on a solution to her loneliness, and Dylan’s arrival is impeccably timed. There’s a glimmer of hope in what she offers him, but it comes at the cost of his art, his ethics, his celibacy, and most of all, his pure heart- but what good is a pure heart if it isn’t beating?
For anyone who’s ever been affected by “those tiny little numbers on a piece of paper”, this story is a hilarious take on financial debt and the means people resort to in order to manage it. It will make you laugh a lot, cry a little, and leave you with a little more joy, humor, and wisdom in your heart.