“So, do you miss Fred from time to time?” Robert Sherman asked Noah Campbell, the CEO of Banana Technologies and one of the richest men in England who had decided to come to the vicarage barbecue in Lower Strangling as one of his employees lived there.
“Who?” Noah asked.
“Berenstain,” Robert said.
Noah sighed angrily. This was why he didn’t usually go to social gatherings, at least one person almost always brought up his past friendship with the now deceased Frederick Berenstain.
“No, I don’t miss Fredrick Berenstain. I hadn’t spoken to him since the party which by the way was over 30 years ago.” Noah said.
“Did you attend the funeral?” Robert questioned.
“Of course I didn’t attend the funeral.” Noah said. “It was a private burial by his brother.”
“Did you send a wreath over with a nice message on it?” Robert asked.
“No, I didn’t. We really weren’t as close as you think we were. Wilfred had a closer connection.” Noah said. “I was merely an aquaintance.”
“Hmm. An acquaintance who hired underage girls as waitresses in skimpy outfits at Fredrick’s request.” Robert said.
“I was simply making sure everyone had the best experience at the party as possible. If I was hosting this barbecue I would do everything I could to make sure everyone was comfortable.” Noah said.
“Interesting. I prefer my underage waitresses naked to be fair.” Robert said facetiously.
Noah used all the restraint he had to avoid scrunching up his paper plate in anger.
“If you’d excuse me, I’m going to talk to someone else.” Noah said before trying to walk away to another group of people.
“What are your thoughts on pedophilia?” Robert asked.
Noah stopped, then turned back to Robert.
“I believe it’s a heinous crime that deserves punishment and has a lasting damaging impact on the victims.” Noah said.
“Yet you allowed it to happen on your property?” Robert asked.
“That is what Fredrick wanted. Who am I to stop him from enjoying himself?” Noah asked.
“So pedophilia is wrong, unless your mates partake in it?” Robert asked.
Noah took some time to think of a response.
“This discussion is over. Good day.” Noah said before walking away.
“Look at Eleanor Peterson over there. Eleven years old. What do you think?” Robert asked.
“I think she’s a nice, promising, young woman who’s clearly very intelligent and will go far in life.” Noah said.
“Define ‘nice’ and ‘promising’.” Robert asked.
Noah sighed again.
“Good day to you, Robert.” Noah said before walking away to another group.
“You can’t run away from your past forever, Noah. One day it will come back to haunt you.” Robert said before talking to Paul, who was next to him.
In another part of the Vicarage garden, Simon; the vicar and host of the barbecue, was talking to Dave and Sarah Peterson, Dave’s friend from work Liam, and Liam’s wife Leila.
“I hope you’re enjoying the barbecue.” Simon said to Liam.
“We are, yes. Very much so.” Liam said. “We often come here during the summer to see Dave and thought we might as well come to the barbecue. I love free food and booze me.”
“I also hope Noah is enjoying himself.” Simon said. “I’m sure this is a slightly more humble affair then what he’s used to.”
“Yeah, I’m sure he’s fine.” Liam said. “I wasn’t sure he’d even agree to come, considering he never does these things. He’s worried someone will bring up you-know-what.”
“Oh, yes, of course.’ Simon said. “I suppose I have a problem with you-know-what but I’m happy to put that aside in this case.”
“I saw him chatting to Robert earlier so I’m sure he’s enjoying mingling with the other villagers.” Dave said.
“Good to hear.” Simon said.
“Hmm,” Dave responded before biting into his beef burger.
Later on, it was time for everyone to leave the barbecue.
“Thank you for gracing us with your presence, Noah.” Simon said. “I hope everything was to your taste.”
“It was yes,” Noah said. “The brewer’s a bit nosey though.”
“Oh, yes, indeed. You often forget that Sarah’s the investigative journalist and not him.” Simon said.
“I can well imagine.” Noah said. “Well, goodnight. See you in the morning.”
“Indeed. Goodnight, Noah.” Simon said.
With that, Noah went to his holiday cottage, and Simon went to bed after what turned out to be a very pleasant barbecue.
Well, within reason.