Chapter Eight: “Hurricane of Blood is a great name for a death metal band”

Miles had hit a rough patch with Marly. Ramsay knew this because Miles talked about it often and for long periods of time. It was horrible, partially because Ramsay didn’t like coaching people’s emotions, but mostly because he didn’t give a flying rat’s ass about Miles’ relationship with Marly. For one thing, he thought it was incredibly obvious that it wasn’t going to work out, no matter how hard Miles tried to force it. For another, she was unbelievably annoying. He said neither of these things to Miles however, not because he wanted to be tactful, but because he didn’t want to get any more involved than he already was. That became hard to do the more Miles talked about it. And then Ramsay found himself agreeing to go to one of Marly’s friend’s stupid parties in an effort to appease Miles enough to make him shut up.

The party was being held at Mikayla’s condo in the heart of downtown. Ramsay had no idea who Mikayla was. He’d been introduced to her at the door when they’d first arrived, but she looked exactly the same as most of the other women at the party. He’d have a very hard time picking her out of a lineup. Her condo was gorgeous and immense. He highly suspected it had been bought for her by her parents. It seemed unlikely that someone who apparently answered the phone at a swanky nail salon a block away could afford a three-bedroom corner unit all on her own.

“Maybe someone very close to her died and she inherited millions of dollars,” Oscar suggested, standing by the fridge in the massive kitchen. There were legitimate marble countertops and a kitchen island half the size of a sedan.

“What a cheery thought,” Bear replied mildly. Ramsay was enormously relieved that Bear had come as well. Without him, he would’ve been stuck at a party with Miles’ desperation, Oscar, who bled emotions over everything, and Miles’ friend Robin. Robin was alright. He’d already sneered at two separate people named Kylie.

“God, is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life?” Oscar asked after a moment. He was watching Miles attempt to dance with Marly. She was giddy, probably drunk, and he looked deeply uncomfortable, like someone had asked him to hold onto their already chewed gum in his open palm.

“Drinking warm beer in the kitchen of strangers?” Robin asked in return, clearly not following Oscar’s nearly indiscernible train of thought. Ramsay knew what was coming, but only because he’d heard variations of the same rant several times a day since Katy had torn out Oscar’s heart and tossed it into a metaphorical paper shredder.

“No, that,” Oscar said, waving a hand in Miles’ direction. “He looks like an idiot.”

“He is an idiot,” Ramsay interject bluntly.

“Is this seriously all there is left for me? I’m going to have to spend my evenings getting drunk with strangers in the hopes that I’ll be able to trick one of them into loving me?” Oscar continued, undeterred.

“Jesus, this has gotten even less cheery,” Robin muttered.

“I’m going to die alone,” Oscar concluded. It was a declaration that Ramsay had begun hearing more and more frequently in recent days. Incidentally, it was also something he was trying harder and harder to ignore.

“Dude, just buy a cat,” Robin told Oscar. “That way you won’t be alone when you die and then it will eat you after you’re dead. The clean up will be so easy. Efficiency.”

Oscar, Bear, and Ramsay all stared at him for a moment.

“It worries me that you thought that might be cheerier than anything he’d already said,” Bear told Robin after a moment, pointing to Oscar. Robin merely shrugged and then took a drink from his own warm beer.

An hour into the party, nothing had improved. If possible, things had actually gotten worse. Ramsay had lost track of Oscar at some point and there was a very good chance that he was laying facedown in one of the bedrooms somewhere. He had tried to keep an eye on him, but one of Marly’s friends had distracted him. Her name was either Karly or Kayla, though there was a very good chance that she was Mikayla, the owner of the condo. She kept asking him about himself, as if she genuinely wanted to know what gym he went to and where he’d bought his shoes. He got the vague impression that she was flirting with him, but he couldn’t find it in himself to be interested. He was a little concerned about what Oscar would do left unattended, despite his best efforts to the contrary. Plus she was pocket-sized and it was beginning to weird him out. She had the body mass of a small child.

“So how do you know Mikayla then?” The woman asked at one point. Ramsay made a mental note that she was not in fact Mikayla before answering.

“I’m friends with Miles,” he explained. She looked confused, kind of like a golden retriever puppy.

“Who?” She asked.

“Miles,” Ramsay repeated. “Marly’s boyfriend.”

“Marly’s dating Kyle,” she replied, still looking adorably confused. It was annoying. Ramsay frowned at her, already tired of the conversation. Truth be told, he’d been tired of it the moment it had begun. This was primarily why he hadn’t wanted to come in the first place; forced smalltalk with strangers.

“I don’t know who that is,” he admitted, not adding that he thought she was wrong, even though he really wanted to. She pointed to a broad-shouldered man next to the TV. He was wearing a baseball hat and double-fisting beers. He was watching Marly like she was a piece of steak and she was looking back at him coyly, fluttering her eyelashes so aggressively Ramsay was surprised she hadn’t caused a breeze. She was dancing with Miles, but not paying him any attention and Ramsay could tell within seconds of watching them that she was only with him to make her bro boyfriend Kyle jealous.

“Fuck this,” he said. Karly or Kayla, or whatever the hell her name was, looked startled. He ignored her and made his way over to where Bear and Robin were standing together, still in the same spot next to the fridge.

“I think we lost Oscar,” was the first thing Bear said to him as he approached. He didn’t seem particularly concerned about it, but then again he never seemed particularly concerned about anything.

“Marly’s using Miles to make her boyfriend jealous,” was Ramsay’s response.

“Well shit,” Bear returned mildly. “What do we do about that?”

Ramsay sighed. He didn’t want to get involved. He never wanted to get involved. He hadn’t even wanted to come to the damn party in the first place. Not for the first time in his life, he contemplated the merits of being a friendless recluse.

“I’ll tell him,” he said with a deep sense of dread and resignedness.

“I’ll find Oscar,” Bear offered in return.

“I’ll stay here and finish my beer,” Robin said. Ramsay glared at him, but it went largely unnoticed.

While Bear took off in search of Oscar and Robin continued to casually sip his beer, Ramsay walked over to where Miles and Marly were. She was still making eyes at Kyle, which Ramsay found particularly bold. Ramsay briefly considered what he was going to say when he actually reached them. It was the kind of situation that required tact and diplomacy. It would be best to pull Miles aside and gently break the news to preserve his feelings. They wouldn’t want there to be a scene. He would have to choose his words carefully so as to soften the blow.

“Marly’s dating that jackass in the baseball hat,” was what Ramsay ended up saying to both of them, jerking a thumb in Kyle’s direction. “You’re supposed to make him jealous. She’s a shithead. Let’s go.”

Miles stared at him in stunned silence for a moment. Ramsay figured that was fair. Then Miles turned to Marly, like he was expecting her to deny everything Ramsay had just said, but she said nothing and instead just looked extremely sheepish and guilty. Miles walked away immediately and Ramsay followed after him. They met Bear, Oscar, and Robin at the condo door and left together. Oscar had apparently been laying down on the floor of Mikayla’s immense and spectacular walk-in closet, or so said Bear. The five of them took the subway back to Oscar and Ramsay’s fruit fly-infested apartment, at which point Oscar instantly flopped down onto the living room floor. Miles took a seat in one of the armchairs, looking angry and annoyed and just a little bit sulky.

“Fucking fruit flies,” Oscar grumbled from the floor, swatting at a group of fruit flies hovering just above his nose. “This is like a fucking Biblical plague. This is worse than the frog one, but better than the locusts.”

“Is it worse than the one where blood pours from the sky?” Bear asked mildly, taking a seat on the couch next to Robin.

“How’s that for perspective?” Ramsay snorted. “Fourteen fruit flies or a hurricane of blood.”

“Hurricane of Blood is a great name for a death metal band,” Robin interjected.

“I’m going to die alone,” Miles moaned from his seat. Oscar snorted from the floor and Ramsay contemplated friendlessness yet again. It was becoming more and more appealing by the minute, especially since it seemed “I’m going to die alone” was quickly becoming a declaration he’d have to spend the rest of his earthly life responding to.

“You probably will,” was Robin’s astoundingly harsh and incredibly unhelpful reply. “You have abysmal luck with women and animals hate you.”

“You have the tact of a wounded goat,” Bear told Robin kindly.

“His mother once had a parakeet that used to shit on his head whenever possible,” Robin said, not the least bit bothered. “Which was often because they lived in the same house.”

Oscar snorted again, but this time it was with delighted amusement.

“I forgot about that bird,” he said, turning his head in Miles’ direction. “What was his name again?”

“Dickie,” Miles grumbled. Oscar laughed for the first time in what Ramsay was certain had been weeks.

“Oh man,” he sighed contentedly. “The best part is that your mother definitely loved that bird more than you.”

“Your life depresses me,” Robin told Miles, still being about as unhelpful as humanly possible.

“Funnily enough, that was not the uplifting pep talk I’d been hoping for when I came back here,” Miles grumbled darkly.

“You’re fine,” Ramsay cut in before Robin could make it any worse. “You didn’t want to spend the rest of your life with Marly anyway. She uses emojis in verbal conversation. And if you really want to be with her, the good news is that she has about a thousand friends exactly like her.”

“If one of them breaks, you’ll always be able to find a spare,” Robin added. It still wasn’t very helpful, but it was a marginal improvement so Ramsay let it go. He didn’t want to be any more supportive than he already had been anyway. It was exhausting.

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