Fiction Friendship

Long Time No See

“Well, look who finally showed up!”

“Hi Steve. Hi Andy. Long time no see.”

“You got that right, Dean. Nice of you to join us. Steve, move that chair round for Dean.”

“Gosh, I’ve really missed you guys. How are things?”

“In the circumstances, things are pretty good. Steve and I have had time to check out the facilities and it looks like this place has everything we need.”

“Yeah, Andy got here first and made enquiries about what was available and where to go for things. Snooker, golf, five-star dining, swimming pool, kart racing and, lots of very pretty ladies. It’s fantastic. We were just waiting for you so that we could get the party started.”

“Well, sorry to be so long in getting here but, you know, life got in the way.”

“Yeah, yeah. We know. Never mind, at least you’re here now. Steve, how about getting some drinks in.”

“OK. Usual, guys?”

“Do they have…?”

“Dean, my friend, they have everything. Trust me. So, pint of Theakston’s Old Peculier?”

“Yes please.”

“Did you get your accommodation sorted out, Dean?”

“Yes, thanks, Andy. I checked in a little while ago and they gave me a really nice room. The pillow on the bed is as soft as a cloud. It seems a really nice place. It reminds me of that time we went on the school trip to Dalston Hall up in the Lake District. Do you remember?”

“Oh, yeah! Wow, that was a lifetime ago, but I know what you mean. That was some week away wasn’t it?”

“Here you are guys. The best bitter in town. Get your laughing tackle round one of those. I’ve ordered some sandwiches as well. They should be here in a couple of minutes.”

“Thanks Steve. Cheers and, here’s to the memories.”


“Cheers. Hey Steve, Dean was just saying this place reminds him of the school trip to Dalston Hall.”

“Oh yeah, that was fabulous. A superb place, great meals, sports and music facilities and, in a beautiful part of the countryside.”

“I remember, you Steve, said we should all go out in a rowing boat. I think it was near Keswick and Andy here, he kept splashing water over everyone.”

“Yes, well, who was it who kept complaining of aching feet when we had to go on that fell walk?”

“OK, Dean, so I guess I was a bit of a wuss. Hey Steve, I remember you buying a record of The Kinks and playing it in the common room.”

“Yeah, they were pretty popular back then. Some of the girls wanted to dance, but not with any of the boys.”

“Andy kept wanting to smooch up with Brenda, but she wasn’t interested. Every time Andy looked at her, she turned away.”

“Poor Andy. He even tried to line me up with her friend so he could have a chance with Brenda. What was the friend’s name? Oh yeah, Pearl.”

“Pearl, yeah, I remember her. Buck teeth and plaited hair.”

“It would never have worked out between us. Can you imagine us, Pearl and Dean? We would’ve sounded like the adverts in the cinema.”

“I hear she eventually married John Diver.”

“And became Pearl Diver? Oh, Steve, that is too funny.”

“Ah, here come the sandwiches. Tuck in lads.”

“This is like Dalston Hall as well, eh guys?”

“Absolutely. Midnight feasts in the rooms. Hey, Dean. Do you remember the contest for the best kept dormitory room?”

“Do I remember, Andy? I certainly do. We all had tasks to keep the place tidy. You and Brian Whatsisname were in charge of bed making, Steve and somebody else did dusting and sweeping, and I got the task of polishing everyone’s shoes and washing the windows.”

“Well, we won the prize, didn’t we? So, we must’ve done a good job.”

“Talking of a good job, Andy. I also remember waking up one morning with my head all covered up and my feet exposed and resting on my pillow. I seem to think you and Steve were the ring leaders behind that stunt.”

“It was Andy’s idea. I just went along with it but you were so sound asleep it was easy to pull off.”

“You know, guys, that place was great. I think it was the best school trip we had.”

“Short memory, Andy. Aren’t you forgetting Kitzbuhel in Austria?”

“Well, what I meant to say was, it was the best trip until we went to Austria.”

“That was an absolutely brill holiday. Can you two remember the journey to get there? We went on a bus down to Dover, then across the Channel on a ferry.”

“That’s right, Dean. Then we had to catch the sleeper train to go right across France and Switzerland. Six of us in a cabin on those couchettes. Steve and I got the two top bunks.”

“Yeah, and I was on the bottom. I remember that Andy kept opening the curtain to see if Brenda or any of the other girls were walking past in the corridor.”

“Ha, ha! Well, it was pretty exciting trying to sleep on a train.”

“We stopped somewhere in the morning and had to get off to have breakfast. Where was that?”

“Wasn’t it Geneva, Steve?”

“No, Basel.”

“Oh, that’s right. Then it was on a twisty track through the mountains until we got to Kitzbuhel.”

“What a beautiful place that was. I took loads of photos and mounted them in a scrapbook when I got back home titled ‘Dean’s Austrian Adventure’. The mountains, the lakes, the cable cars. Fabulous.”

“Yeah, and that guest house we stayed in was great. You and Steve managed to get a room together but I ended up sharing with Brian Whatsisname again. My God, could he snore?”

“Whatever happened to him, Andy?”

“No idea. Steve?”

“I seem to think he emigrated to Australia.”

“Well, he was a bit of a snob anyway. Andy, didn’t you win another contest while we were there?”

“That’s right, Dean, my friend. I was the coke and cake guzzling champion for the week. I drank three bottles of coke and eat two humungous slices of cake in 4 minutes 30 seconds.”

“I think you took longer than that to barf it all back up again later.”

“Thanks for the reminder, Steve.”

“I don’t think Brenda was too impressed by your efforts either. While you were talking to the porcelain, I saw her snogging with Brian Whatsisname round the back of the chalet.”


“Happy days, eh guys?”

“They certainly were, Dean, they certainly were.”

“Cars. Do you remember your first car? Mine was a blue Mark 1 Ford Escort that sounded like a rally car, though it was really only a holey silencer. Andy, didn’t you have an old Ford Anglia?”

“Indeed I did, Dean. I was really proud of that little pale green monster. Apart from the times when I had to push it to get it started, which was often.”

“And Steve, you had a Triumph Herald.”

“That’s right. Not much of a triumph though.”

“No, I remember seeing it pulled in to the side of the road with the front wheel pointing at a strange angle. And you nowhere in sight.”

“Yeah, the front axel broke. Fortunately I was near home so I could go and arrange for a tow truck. It went straight to the scrap yard.”

“You know, guys, we might have had problem cars, but we did buy them outright ourselves and they did give us some independence.”

“That’s right, Dean. It meant you me and Andy didn’t have to rely on borrowing our dads’ cars or, worse, waiting for a bus which wasn’t going to where we wanted.”

“Yeah, and you couldn’t really go kissing your girlfriend on the back seat of a bus either.”

“Ha, ha! Trust you Andy. Well, it wasn’t Brenda that you were cuddling up to was it?”

“No. I never saw her again after school, which was just as well. I was fortunate to meet Jen at college.” 

“How on earth did you meet her? You were in engineering and she was in biology or something wasn’t she?”

“Yeah, marine biology. Bumped into each other, literally, in the common room.  She was lovely. We had some good times together. Well, for 17 years anyway. Then she left me for some research scientist bloke.”

“Then, Steve, you hitched up with Anne.”

“I did. And she was fabulous. An absolute cracker. But, she went off to join one of the cruise ship lines sailing around the Med. Water under the bridge, so to speak. Never managed to find the right one to settle down with after that.”

“I think, Dean, you’ve been the luckiest in love of all of us.”

“I guess so, Andy. Me and Helen had a lot of good years together; kids, grandkids, lots of laughs, lots of travels. I miss her.”

“You’ll be with her again one day, my friend.”

“So, anyway, Andy. How did you get here in the first place?”

“Well, I don’t remember too much about it really. It all happened so fast. There I was driving down the M6 one foggy day and the next thing I knew, I was floating around here. I seem to recall looking down and seeing this body flat out on a hospital bed with tubes and wires all over the place. There was somebody crying. It looked like my mother. But I couldn’t say anything. It was just, you know, peaceful.”

“I’m sorry, Andy. At least it sounds like you weren’t in any pain.”

“No, I’m pleased to say. Not like Steve.”

“Really? I remember getting a letter from your parents, Steve, but they didn’t go into much detail.”

“All I remember is getting this almighty pain in my head. It was crippling and I just fell to the floor. I must have lost consciousness. I never came around but I do recall hearing a voice say something about a brain hemorrhage. I just drifted off after that and ended up here. Now the three amigos are back together. So, Dean, how did you get your ticket to paradise?”

“Nothing as dramatic as you guys. I just went to sleep one night and woke up here instead of down there. I guess it must have been a heart attack but I didn’t know anything about it. Helen, poor thing, had to deal with the consequences. At least she is well catered for. I had a good insurance policy and she’s entitled to a widow’s pension. And her sister lives close by so, its not like she will be completely alone. Plus the kids and grandkids will pop round regularly.”

“Well, it happens to everyone sooner or later and in one way or another. At least we have the memories to look back on.”

“That’s right, Andy, we do.”

“Hey, Dean. Another beer?”

“Thanks, Steve. Don’t mind if I do.”

February 20, 2023 20:13

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