Looking out over the sprawl of Los Angeles, Orin Petersen knew he was being foolish. He knew the world didn’t work the way it did in his dreams. Oh, it had as far as their music was concerned, but this… this was different. Still, he knew he had to try: for the sake of closure if nothing else.

For the umpteenth time he sat down by the phone and reached out for it, and for the umpteenth time his hand seemed to shy away from the receiver of its own volition. He leapt to his feet and started another lap around the living room and the balcony, pausing again to look out over the sun-drenched Hollywood Hills.

“If you’re gonna do it, you better get a move on,” Michael Staid murmured as he marked the page of the thriller he was reading before getting languidly to his feet and stretching. "We're only alive and on this planet for a short while.”

“Yeah, okay already, you sarky git! Don’t you have anything better to do than hassle me?” Back in the living room Orin picked a handful of M&M’s from the bowl by the phone and threw them one by one in the air, catching them neatly in his mouth.

“First time lucky, I hope,” he muttered, shooing the amused Michael out and closing the door. Swallowing the last of the chocolates, he picked up the phone and dialled the operator.

“Operator services; how may I help you?”

“Do you have a listing for a Phillip Peters in Westwood, please?”

“Oh, you’re English!” The operator overflowed with bonhomie, and Orin, who was never good in the mornings at the best of times, had to reign in a terse response.

“Yes. Yes I am, thank you so much. Um… the listing?” He waited on tenterhooks, then, hand shaking, he wrote down the number and hung up, forgetting to thank the woman. “Bugger,” Orin swore at his bad manners, picked up the receiver again and, crossing his fingers and toes, dialled. It rang.


In the kitchen Michael sighed as he sat down at the breakfast bar and poured another cup of coffee. He had know Orin since kindergarten, and they’d played music together since before they were teens. They’d forgone university, toured, found a manager and had flown to the states at the at the behest of a record company. It was all they’d dreamed of, yet Orin hadn’t bothered to attend all the meetings, and the executives had assumed drugs.

Michael finished his coffee and washed the mug. He had put the nervous execs straight, but there was still the underlying problem. Chewing his lip he came to a decision, pulled out his mobile and called Jarno, their manager.

“Michael! How’s it going? Any news, yet?”

“The record execs are sweet, though they were a tad miffed with Orin, and wondered where you were. The other thing… not so much. I’m coming home. I’ve tried, but it’s no good, he still has his ghosts to deal with.” There was a long silence.

“You’ve told him how you feel?”

“No. You know I can’t.”

“We’ve talked this over, Michael. You must.”

“I can’t. Not yet.” He waited for Jarno’s sarcastic retort but it never came; there was just another long silence. He sighed. “Look, I’ll call you when I get into London, Jarno. Talk then. Gotta go, bye.” Michael ended the call and had just dried his eyes when the door to the living room crashed open.

“I’ve found him!”

“Hey, that’s great Orin, that’s really… terrific…. So?”

“His mother says he’s at Uni in Berkeley. That’s in the Bay Area, near San Francisco. But his parents live here. They’ve invited me for dinner. Tonight.”

“Want me to come, too?” Michael couldn’t resist teasing, then felt guilty as Orin frowned.

“Um, well… it’s been a while, and I think….”

Michael put him out of his misery. “Just kidding mate. I’m gonna fly back tomorrow and leave you to meet your friends.”

“But what about the record thing?”

“Deal, they’re called deals, doofus, and Jarno’s putting something together in London. I’ve gotta be there.”

“And me?”

“I’ve got your back, Orin.” Michael walked over and hugged him tight, “I’ve always got your back.”


At twenty-one Pip Peters was in the last year of his degree at UC Berkeley, though he spent more than a lot of time off campus having fun. Rather more than he should, his girl friend Sarah had decided the week before. He’d promised her he’d buckle down and work hard for the rest of the year, and he hated to renege on a promise. Still, it wasn’t everyday a friend you hadn’t seen in years flew back into your life. Pip was sure she’d understand. Well, pretty sure anyway. He hadn’t actually mentioned that Orin was flying up to visit: and to stay.

Orin! Pip smiled, then checked the arrivals board again. The flight from LA flicked over from arriving to deplaning, whatever that meant. Idly chewing on his little finger, Pip sat down and thought back to the awful argument they’d had on the day when he left. He’d often wondered why Orin hadn’t answered his emails. Still, five years was a lot of water under the bridge, and he knew through other friends that Orin was aware he had a girlfriend now.

Pip glanced at the arrivals board again and frowned. The flight information had vanished. He was getting to his feet and about to panic when he spotted Orin standing by the arrivals gate looking lost, a look Pip remembered well. He couldn’t help laughing out loud and, forgetting his surroundings, ran straight up to him and swung him off his feet and then around in a circle like a little kid.

“Damn, but you’re heavy!”

“Damn, but you’re….” Orin said, blushing and grinning. Then he stepped in and pulled Pip into a hug so hard that he thought he might faint, though it gave him the opportunity to smell Orin’s hair. Pip was vaguely aware of people stopping to watch them, but far more aware of the friend he thought he’d lost, and he reciprocated until he became aware their groins were touching and he was getting hard.

“Erm, this is an airport, mon ami.”

“You’re embarrassed!” Orin said loudly. “I don’t fucking believe it. The great Pip Peters, doyen of a gazzilion raids on the tuck shop, embarrassed!”

Now Pip was aware that the airport police were becoming interested, and started to struggle. “Lemmegoyougit,” he breathed in Orin’s ear and then for good measure took a nibble, realising too late that it would be construed in quite the wrong way by everyone, Orin included.

Orin let him go and stood back, putting his hands deep in his cargo pants’ pockets. “Sorry Pip, I didn’t mean to… um… embarrass you.” Orin picked up his bag, and looked around. “So… um… what are we going to do?”

“Oh.” Pip was mortified. Why hadn’t he planned an itinerary? He considered taking Orin back to the house, but then he’d have to show him off. Sarah would be sweet as pie to Orin’s face but then give him hell for fucking up his studies again. Or they could go to Tom Boy’s, but then Pip didn’t know if Orin smoked weed, and anyway Tom would want to get into his pants, and probably both of their pants, and he was sure as hell not going to be responsible for that.

“Ya eaten?”

“A snack. On the plane.”

“Shite! I mean proper food! Like… oh hell, let’s go to Shem’s.”


“Shem’s. It’s a Chinese on Solano; you’ll love it. Let’s get the car.” He grabbed Orin’s bag and headed to the car park, his friend trotting to catch up.

They’d always been easy and happy in each others company. That had been one of the things Pip remembered, and it hadn’t changed, although he thought that Orin was a little more reticent and withdrawn now, perhaps even nervous. After the usual comments about being a passenger on the driver’s side, he’d sat there saying virtually nothing whilst Pip had done all the talking, telling him about Berkeley, and the gigs he’d seen at the Greek, and eventually telling him all about Sarah.

“Are you happy together, Pip?”

“Yeah, I think so… pretty much.” Pip glanced at his friend. “I mean, on the whole we’re good together.” Orin had become even quieter after that; luckily they’d arrived at the restaurant soon after.

The Chinese food and the manic hustle and bustle had been a great success, reminding them both of their first forays of going out in London, and the atmosphere had lightened for which it was obvious they were both grateful. They’d laughed their way past the bill and until they were back in the car, when they had both fallen silent.

“What now, Pip?” Orin asked as Pip put the key into the ignition and turned to face him, the green glow from the dash giving them both a ghostly pallor that for some reason reminded Pip of just how long it had been since he’d had time to kick back and be a kid.

“Well, we could go back to the house and I could introduce you to Sarah and our friends, and… to my life….” He waited for Orin’s response, noting that his friend had looked away and was watching the cars driving down Solano, his expression blank. “Or….”

“Or what?” Orin turned, and Pip thought he saw something in his eyes that he’d yearned for when they were younger. He gulped.

“Or we could go AWOL and I can show you Yosemite.” The ‘something’ flared in Orin and his expression became animated. Pip chuckled and tentatively put his hand on Orin’s arm.

“You mean go and see the mountains?” Orin said with obvious excitement.

“Uh huh, though we’ll have to raid the garage to get the tent and…."

“Camping?" Orin interrupted. “We’d go camping?”

“Uh huh, it’s the only way to really see the place, and it’s off season too. Though be warned, there are bears. We’ll have to hang our food in a tree.” Pip paused and watched Orin as he bounced up and down on his seat. “That excited, huh?” He grinned.

“Fuck yeah!” Orin almost deafened him. "Bears! Wicked!" Pip laughed.

“Getting the tent might be difficult; we could get caught by….”

“Sarah? Na, we were never caught at school, why should we get caught now?” Pip was happy to see Orin's eyes alive with fun, and an expression he hadn’t seen since… well for a long time.”

“So wanna?”

“Oh yeah, I wanna. You know you sound American, don’t you?”

“I am American, fool. I always was.”

"Half," Orin said.

"Okay, half. When did you become such a pedant?" He smiled thinking back to the first time he’d met Orin.


He had arrived in London when he was eleven. His parents were consular officials sent from country to country, his father American and his mother English, though this was the first time the family had set foot in England since Pip had been born in Washington D.C.

His father had been posted to the London embassy for a lengthy stay and had bought a small town house in a quiet West London suburb. As usual Pip’s mother had done the rounds meeting the neighbours, and as a consequence Pip had been invited to a party being thrown for the twelfth birthday of a boy across the street. He'd put on a new pair of jeans along with his favourite t-shirt and waistcoat. Then, after brushing his hair, he had walked over with his mother to meet the neighbours.

A harassed woman wiping her hands on an apron answered the door.

“Hello, hello, come in. And this must be Pip!” she’d said smiling and waving them through into a large living room stuffed with an eclectic mix of furniture. Pip walked over to the window and saw the garden for the first time. It seemed huge.

“It’s nice of you to invite us, Val,” he heard his mother say as someone prodded him in the back. He turned to see a slightly taller, mousey-haired boy holding his hand out.

“How do you do, I’m Orin, and you must be Pip.” He’d almost laughed at the Englishness of the boy's voice, but had smiled instead and shook the offered hand.

“Nice to meet you, Orin,” he’d replied, and was surprised when Orin hadn’t let go of his hand. Instead the boy had held on and dragged him down to a basement room where he’d met the rest of ‘the gang’.


Pip blinked away the memory, and started the car. “Okay, O, let’s do this thing, and bugger the consequences.”

“’O!' Oh wow! I haven’t been called that since….”

“Yeah, well, that was then and this is now,” Pip said gruffly as he checked the mirrors, indicated, and pulled out into the traffic on Solano. He gave Orin the tourist spiel as he drove them around the Berkeley campus, pulling in some quarter mile from the house he shared with his girlfriend and her friends. He switched off the ignition and the lights, then turned to face his friend who was chewing on his bottom lip and obviously miles away. Pip prodded him and smiled. “My folks said when they had dinner with you it was just like old times.”

“Uh… they're lovely people," Orin said, examining the glove compartment. "Your dad seems to have mellowed a bit, too."

“Does he?" Pip frowned. "Not sure about that. Maybe it's 'cause he hasn't seen you in ages. Anyway, forget my parents. I can't tell you how happy I am to see you, O, but it’s been five years and I have somethi….”

“I know, Pip," Orin interrupted. "You're right. What we had then was then and, as you said, ‘this is now.’ We're different people.

"I want you to introduce me to Sarah, and show me where you live. Besides, I have to get back to London in the next few days. Apparently our manager has something in the works, and….”

As the ticking of the cooling engine meshed with the sound of the dashboard clock, the sudden silence between them made Pip feel like screaming. And still Orin wouldn't look at him. Now, it seemed, he was in awe of a fucking fire hydrant. Pip took a deep breath and, with a squeak of leather upholstery, leant over and with his forefinger turned Orin's head so they were face to face. Orin's lower lip was quivering and there were tears in his eyes. Pip leant across the years and the final few inches that separated them and gently, lightly, briefly kissed his friend.

"As a rule fire hydrants aren't that interesting, O. Us, on the other hand, well, we definitely are. To me at any rate. How about you?"

"I…." Orin hadn't moved and Pip could see wonder in his eyes, and the promise of so much more.

"Yeah, me too. Remember Robert Frost?"

Orin's eyes creased in amusement. "Are you saying you have an opinionated little horse?"

"Maybe," Pip grinned, "but I was thinking of the last stanza. Says it all, really."

"Oh," Orin leant in and reciprocated the kiss. "Best get to the woods, then. I guess you can introduce me to Sarah and the others when we get back. Damn. That kiss wasn't long enough. Another!"

"Mmm," Pip hummed, his mouth busy. A while later they separated. Pip drew in a deep breath and smiled as it dawned on him what had been missing since he’d left London at seventeen. "O?"

"Mmm?" Orin replied, running his tongue around swollen lips and, as far as Pip was concerned, looking sexy as hell.

“Yosemite, bears and fun, here we come! Let’s go!”


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


'Frost' by Camy (August 2019)

With thanks to those who know who they are.
Any mistakes are mine, and mine alone.


Feedback would really be appreciated!

You can email me at: Camy.Sussex[at]gmail.com


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