It was a sunny day. Dusk warmed the hills and shimmered across the grape field, and Mike was still recovering.
Falling several metres into a pit was painful at any age, and Mike wasn’t as young as he used to be.
He was still off work, much to his chagrin, but he wasn’t exactly hating the distinct lack of murder in his life as of late.
He sat back in his chair, let the sun brush against his face, and started to doze off. The farm was quiet. He didn’t expect to be disturbed.
That was, of course, when Jared turned up, and startled him. “Mike! My man!”
He nearly fell off his chair, which would have really set his recovery back several weeks, and opened his eyes.
The youth was carrying a bottle of red and looked rather pleased to see him. “Heard about your injury. I didn’t think you’d be falling into a grave this early.” Jared chortled, and clambered up onto the deck.
“Yes, very funny.” He sat up, wincing as it pulled at aching muscles, and said, “I haven’t seen you around lately. I thought your cousin replaced you.”
“Nah.” Jared headed inside, completely unbidden, and fetched a couple of wine glasses. He called, “Kahu’s got a thing for Kristen, that’s why he’s hanging around. I’ve been doing good, y’know? Getting an education.”
Kahu was sweet on Kristen?
He hoped it would do her good. “Where’ve you been getting your education?”
“At the polytech.” Jared started pouring the wine. “Going to become a chef. Get my certificates and everything. There’s loads of new restaurants opening up around town, getting a job at one of them will be better than just doing odd jobs for people.” He passed Mike one of the glasses.
Mike, who was on a fair amount of painkillers, probably shouldn’t have been drinking.
Mike, who resoundingly told his common sense to take a backseat for the time being, took a long sip of the wine. “I quite like having you around keeping an eye on the grapes.”
“Yeah.” Jared sat back against the edge of the deck. “Looks like you’re going to have to get someone else in for that. Maybe you could even do it yourself!” He grinned cheekily, obviously joking, and pointed at Mike’s leg. “You might have to wait until that’s fixed though.”
“I never realised how good I had it until it was gone. Being legless isn’t fun.”
Jared laughed, “I don’t think you’re quite legless yet, bro. Have more of the wine and then we’ll see.”
He wasn’t going to drink that much. He’d been there before with Jared. Bad idea.
Something occurred to him. “I appreciate the wine, really, but how’d you even know I’d injured myself? The whole thing’s supposed to be under wraps.”
Jared eyed him as though it was obvious. “Well, Kahu told me, because he was there, but Mrs Marlowe had spread it around the town before that. She said that two of the guys at the historic village were ‘homosexualists’ and that Charity had died because of their ‘forbidden love’.”
“Well, it wasn’t quite like that…”
“Yeah, bro, I know.” Jared rolled his eyes and huffed, then took another sip of his wine. “It’s still shit. I knew Charity was bad but I didn’t think she was that stuck in the past.”
“We say times have changed, but sometimes I’m not so sure.”
“Especially in Brokenwood.”
They sat in silence for a few moments, sipping their wine, just letting the sun and the gentle breeze wash over them.
Brokenwood was a good town, despite all of the murder, but it was still very much a rural town. There were things that happened, and ways of behaviour that persisted that would be frowned-upon in larger cities. It was maddening, and there was very little he could do about it.
Jared cleared his throat, shaking his head, and put his glass down. “You going to be an invalid for much longer?”
“Hope not.” Being immobile was such a pain. “I’m back to work on Monday. Hopefully Breen and Kristen won’t have destroyed the office by then.”
He appreciated his team, he really did, but trouble seemed to follow them everywhere they went. Coupled with Breen’s clumsiness and general affability, as well as Kristen’s determination and unwillingness to let things go, it spelled a recipe for disaster.
Jared shrugged, “I would say something supportive, but I know Sam and Kristen. Good luck.”
He’d need it.