BANQUET (FLASH FEAR SHORT)
“And how was this one cooked?” The pompous-man said.
“It was slowly roasted, stuffed with mozzarella and sun-blushed tomatoes,” Andrew said.
Andrew hated these banquets. He hated the audience scoffing at the champagne and asking pointless questions about the food. If it didn’t give him a chance to showcase his talent and make some money he’d much prefer a fast-food place like “Chomp N Go”.
“And this one...?”
“This is a breast fillet with a balsamic dressing,” Andrew said.
“And how old is the meat?” The pompous-man said.
“Fourteen years,” Andrew said solemnly.
“Young and tender.” The man guffawed into his sycophantic, chuckling audience – followed by an array of innuendos. Andrew felt a surge of disgust – he was a vegetarian himself.
“And how long have you been doing this young man?” The pompous man asked.
“Well, I started 10 years ago as an apprentice but once I was confident five years ago I managed to buy my own farm and prepare the meat myself,” Andrew replied.
“These are dark times and you have adjusted. Kudos to the chef.” The glasses clinked.
Andrew felt intense guilt on the drive after. He thought about his livestock and what he did to make a living. He felt sick at the hypocrisy of these banquets; he hated the vulgarity of the social scene. Andrew hated farming, hated cooking and he hated what he had become. But it paid for the big house, the 100-acre land and it kept him secure. Over and over again Andrew heard the words:
Young and tender.
A rustle was heard from outside ; Troy could hear Andrew's feet approaching, it woke him. Troy looked around – he was back in the barn with that foul stench of manure. For a moment Troy was dreaming of his life before the famines before society was suddenly re-jigged and the lower-class became cattle – Troy remembered the open air and beaches. Troy pulled hard on his metal-chains – pointless!
Andrew entered with a pail of drinking water and placed it in the corner by the hay. Troy was the only one in his family left now – his parents had been shot with that cattle gun and now his young-sister Julia was served at the banquet by this beast. Andrew looked over at Troy and saw him awake and then cast his eye over the rest of the chained “meat”, all fast asleep. Andrew felt so sad, but he knew – it was either me or them – and I have a business to run.
“Don’t worry,” Andrew said, “I have another banquet tomorrow, your time will come.”
“You should have taken me first, I didn’t want to see that,” Troy said.
“You’ll be pleased to know that she went down a treat – young and tender they described!” Andrew said.
Andrew closed the barn door, knowing tomorrow he would have to return with the cattle gun. The phrase now stuck in Troy’s mind and he felt an intense pain:
Young and tender.