It was a beautiful spring day. Temperatures were in the lower 70s, skies were blue and birds were singing. Families, friends, workers on their break, and young lovers snuggling on blankets dotted the landscape at Harmony Lake at Liberty Park. Happy citizens were walking their happier dogs.
There, in their usual spots right beside the pretty little lake, were Drew and Rick sitting side by side in lawn chairs, enjoying their weekly picnic lunch, munching on cold fried chicken.
“I brought cherry pie!” said Drew.
Rick’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. “Yum, yum,” he said. “Should we call to check on Mel?”
“Great idea,” said Drew, reaching for his phone.
Soon, Mel drove up, and he and Justin climbed out of the car. Mel was carrying a covered dish and Justin was bringing some more lawn chairs.
“Hey guys!” Drew and Rick cried out in unison as Mel and Justin walked up.
“Did you bring your fishing poles?” asked Drew. “They’re really biting today!”
“No, but I can run back and get them!” said Justin.
Drew turned to Rick and asked excitedly, “So how’s the festival shaping up for next year?”
“Looks great so far!” said Rick. “I think it will be the best talent we’ve ever had!”
“That’s exciting!” said Drew. “Just let me know what you need!”
“Appreciate that!” said Rick. “Hey, Drew, there’s been something I’ve been wanting to run by you and Mel. I know that the festival can be a headache sometimes. Would you care if we considered moving it, maybe just a block away so it doesn’t shut down the center of town every year?”
“Seriously?” replied Drew, his eyes widening. “Why would you do that? Shoot, it’s only three days every year. Hey Mel, do you think it’s a big deal?”
Mel shook his head. “No way!” he said. “Oh, we hear some complaints once in a while, but like I tell them, why mess with tradition?”
“Well, if you’re both sure,” said Rick, reaching for the pie that Drew was handing him. “Just thought I’d offer!”
“Forget about it!” said Drew. Out of the corner of his eye Drew noticed another group walking toward them. “Hey look! It’s Bill and Becky and Ann and Dick and Tracy and Claudia and Lee! Hey guys!”
“Hey everybody!” the new arrivals shouted together.
“Here, Lee, take my chair!” said Drew, jumping up.
“Thanks Drew!” said Lee. “Sorry we’re late! We were uptown talking about the Downtown Redevelopment District and figuring out the best way to make it happen! We all just want to make sure all the financials are in place!”
“That’s very responsible of you!” said Drew. “Have you consulted with Gary?”
“Let’s call him right now!” said Tracy.
“Great idea!” said Drew.
In just a few minutes, Gary drove up. He got out of his car and had volumes of leather-bound ledgers tucked under his arms.
“Hey guys!” said Gary. “Just thought I’d bring all the budgets and audits and even stuff you might not need, just in case anyone wanted to see it! Hey, any chicken left?”
“Take mine!” said Drew, handing over his paper plate.
“Thanks Drew!” said Gary.
Gary had made copies for everyone of every financial document going back a hundred years, and he handed them out to the group. Then he said, “Hey Drew, I noticed a couple of properties uptown that are for sale! I thought you might be interested in buying them!”
“I don’t know,” said Drew. “You know, I’m always uncomfortable about conflicts of interest!”
“Let’s call Fred!” said Ann and Becky, and they found themselves laughing because they said it together.
Before long, Fred arrived.
“What’s up guys?” asked Fred, stretching out on the green grass, letting the warm breeze muss his hair.
“Gary thinks Drew should buy some properties that are for sale, but Drew doesn’t know if it’s a conflict or not!” said Bill.
“Oh gee,” said Fred. “I can’t imagine anyone questioning Drew’s integrity or motives. But I’ll look into it and give you an opinion in the morning!”
“Thanks!” said Drew.
Lee looked at his watch and said dejectedly, “Oh, shoot, I have to go.”
Everyone moaned. “How come?” they all asked.
“Well,” said Lee, “I have two trials, a child support hearing, a Rotary meeting, three soccer practices, a bar association reception, and a village of Highland council meeting tonight. Granted, it’s a light day, but I should head out.”
“Wait!” said Drew. “Dick and Claudia, did you bring your guitars?”
They both nodded enthusiastically and scampered back to their cars to get them. When they returned, Drew said, “Ok, everybody, stand up and join hands.”
Dick and Claudia began strumming the familiar tune, and everyone swayed back and forth as they sang, “Kumbayaaaaa my Loooorrrd, kumbayaaaaaa. Kumbayaaaaa my Loooorrrd, kumbayaaaaa. Kumbayaaaa my Looorrrd, kumbayaaaaa. Oh Looooord, kumbayaaaaa.” Soon, everyone at the park was singing with them.
Everyone laughed and hugged as they began to disperse.
“Don’t forget!” said Drew. “Brunch on Saturday at Betty’s house! She said the whole gang will be there!”
“We won’t forget!” everyone shouted as they scurried back to the parking lot.
Gary yelled to everyone as he waved goodbye, “Hey, guys, you sure there’s nothing else you need? I can always put together a PowerPoint!”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.