Katy called Oscar to tell him she wanted to be friends, which was horrifying. She said she was upset about how they’d left things last, that specific instance being the time she’d brought her smug friend Colin over to help drop off some of Oscar’s belongings and Joey making some outrageous comments. Oscar wouldn’t say he was thrilled with how that particular meeting had gone, but the time before that, when she’d taken a shit all over his heart, was definitely worse. The long and short of it was that Katy wanted to be friends because she was too nice for her own good and couldn’t stand the thought that Oscar was upset with her. Meanwhile, Oscar barely wanted to be friends with the friends he already had at the moment and knew that any prolonged exposure to Katy at this point would make him miserable.
Knowing and doing were two separate things though, so even though Oscar knew he should not ever attempt to be friends with Katy in any capacity if he ever wanted to recover from their break-up, he found himself agreeing to it anyway, mostly because he was weak and he missed her and he wanted to be able to spend time with her again. She had been his best friend after all and just because she didn’t want to be with him forever, he had never stopped wanting to be with her forever. She still was his best friend, only now he couldn’t see her anymore. It was like she’d been interned at a work camp in North Korea.
“Yes, it’s just like that,” Ramsay said dryly in response when Oscar said as much out loud. They were at home. Oscar was lying on the living room floor, listening to the basketball game Ramsay had on TV. Ramsay was sitting in one of the chairs, drinking a beer in his boxers and occasionally complaining about the heat. The building super had come by the previous week to fix the radiators. It had worked marginally well. Now it was more like living in the tropics without the humidity and less like living in a Dantean circle of hell.
“Katy invited me to a party,” Oscar said for the third time that evening. He had learned long ago that Ramsay would eventually respond to something if it was brought up enough times.
“Yes, and her new boyfriend Ezra will be there,” Ramsay added, tacking on a sigh that made it abundantly clear how he felt about being forced to contribute to the conversation. “She also mentioned that in her phone call. It’s a very important detail.”
“I’m going to go to the party,” Oscar said, mostly ignoring Ramsay, even after he’d tried so hard to get him to speak.
“No you’re not,” Ramsay retorted immediately. “That’s a terrible idea.”
“We’re going to be friends,” Oscar continued.
“No you’re not,” Ramsay repeated.
“Come with me,” Oscar ordered, getting to the point of the entire conversation. He would go to Katy’s party no matter what, but he didn’t want to have to go alone. For one thing, that was always an awkward position to be in. It was even more awkward given that the host was his ex-girlfriend and he was prepared to spend the entire evening avoiding her new boyfriend. But the most awkward part of it was the rest of the guests would undoubtedly be most of their previously mutual friends who no longer acknowledged Oscar’s existence, which may or may not have had something to do with the time he threw up in a bouncy castle at a one year old’s birthday party.
“Absolutely not,” Ramsay answered without hesitation.
“Please,” Oscar said, not quite begging, but getting perilously close.
“I wouldn’t go even if I didn’t think this was a truly horrible idea,” Ramsay returned.
“Fine, I’ll find somebody else to go with,” Oscar replied defiantly, crossing his arms over his chest. Of course, he was lying on the living room floor at the time so it may not have been as effectual as he’d been hoping.
“No you won’t,” Ramsay snorted.
He did manage to find somebody to go with him, but it had been slim pickings. Bear was visiting his sister, Miles was too busy trying to sort out his own romantic entanglement with Iggy, and Robin flatly refused under the assumption that all of Katy’s friends would be boring. He wasn’t exactly wrong. Oscar debated asking David, which he felt would very likely result in his own death by extreme tedium, but he was saved by Robin, who had changed his mind on the condition that he was allowed to bring a friend. The ulterior motive behind the change of mind, because there was usually an ulterior motive with Robin, was that his co-worker Evan had invited him to his own birthday party and Robin needed an excuse to get out of going. Oscar considered pointing out that he could’ve just lied about an excuse, but that would’ve left him attending Katy’s party alone so he kept his mouth shut. As for the friend Robin wanted to bring, Oscar assumed he would be spending an evening watching Joey harass Smug Colin, so Oscar was more than okay with it.
As it turned out, however, Oscar was wrong to make assumptions because the friend Robin brought was his unbelievably surly co-worker Finch. The two of them turned up to Oscar’s apartment and Ramsay laughed out loud. It was not a promising omen, but then again, Oscar didn’t really give a shit about what anybody at Katy’s party thought of him and his company. Besides, two friends would be better than one when he was trying to show all of his former friends how fine he was without them.
“Finch also didn’t want to go to Evan’s birthday party,” Robin explained at the door as Oscar shoved his boots on. Oscar briefly looked up at Finch, who didn’t look particularly like he wanted to go to Katy’s party either. Truthfully, he didn’t look like he wanted to do much of anything ever again so long as they all lived. He was leaning against the doorframe in black jeans, black motorcycle boots, a black t-shirt under a black leather jacket, and a black beanie. He was scowling, brow furrowed. He looked threatening, but also nonchalant, like it wouldn’t bother him at all to beat someone to death.
“Huh,” was all Oscar could muster in response.
The three of them showed up to Katy’s apartment after a mostly silent twenty-minute subway ride. Oscar wasn’t actually very close with Robin. He was Miles’ friend first. Their friendship had only recently blossomed since Oscar had lost all of his other friends. He wasn’t sure what they could talk about, other than how much Miles looked like Scott Baio. And Finch seemed resistant to talking about literally everything at all times. The thought of starting a casual conversation with him was absurd to Oscar.
“You came!” Katy greeted them at the door. She hugged Oscar and he felt part of his soul wither away. He wasn’t going to make it out of this party very well off. He could already tell it was going to be disastrous.
“Uh, this is Robin and Finch,” Oscar said after pulling away, pointing to each of his friends respectively. Katy shot Finch a somewhat nervous look, which Oscar understood.
“Glad you guys could come,” she beamed at them, even Finch after a moment. She reached out a hand and Oscar was terrified for a brief moment that she was about to hug them as well. Finch didn’t seem like he’d receive that well. Honestly, it didn’t seem like he’d ever been hugged before in his entire life. Robin was also a bad choice for an impromptu hug, especially from a stranger. He disliked so many people. Fortunately, Katy was just going for a handshake. Even then, Finch seemed unimpressed.
They followed her to the kitchen so that they could put their drinks in the fridge. She was leading them around like she was about to launch into a tour, but Oscar already knew where everything was because it used to be his home as well. He though about pointing that out, but the fallout would be too embarrassing and awkward to handle so he didn’t say anything. Instead, he let her introduced them to a room full of people he already knew. Smug Colin observed the whole thing smugly from his seat on a leather ottoman Katy hadn’t owned when he had lived there as well.
“Hey, man,” Oscar’s former friend Mike greeted him after the awkward introductions had concluded. “How’s that band you were playing with?”
Oscar struggled with an answer for several reasons. For one, he was startled that Mike had bothered to talk to him. He kind of assumed that would never happen again after Oscar had vomited in a bouncy castle at his daughter’s first birthday party. Secondly, he hadn’t thought anybody knew about Skankhole, the band he was very reluctantly playing with.
“You’re in a band?” Finch asked, which was possibly even more alarming than anything Mike had said.
“Oh God, it’s such shit,” was Robin’s extremely unhelpful contribution. Oscar should’ve come alone.
“I’m sure it’s alright,” Mike told Oscar consolingly, thumping him on the shoulder. His expression was incredibly pitying. Oscar wanted to lie down where he was standing.
“No, it’s pretty much shit,” he admitted. Mike clearly didn’t know what to say to that. He nodded a few times, lingered in horrible silence for a few minutes, and then slowly backed away to join another conversation with people he was more comfortable with. Smug Colin smirked smugly at Oscar from his place on the ottoman. He was sitting on it like it was a throne of gold and not a giant square covered in fake leather that had probably been bought at Ikea. Oscar wanted to punch him in the face.
“I fucking hate that guy,” he grumbled bitterly to Finch and Robin, nodding indiscreetly toward Colin. He had nothing to hide. It wasn’t as if Colin didn’t know Oscar hated him. That was a sentiment freely shared between the two of them.
“He looks like a weasel,” Finch replied flatly. It was oddly comforting.
From that point forward, Oscar spent most of the evening drinking steadily. He, Robin, and Finch were largely ignored by the rest of the guests, even Katy. She wasn’t doing a very good job trying to be friends. It might’ve been because she barely left her new boyfriend Ezra’s side the entire night. They laughed at all the same things and shared looks that made their goddamn eyes twinkle. Oscar was so bitter. He could practically feeling it welling in his veins, expanding and pushing its way throughout his entire body. He was also so drunk. He’d lost count of the number of beers he’d had and Finch and Robin weren’t any help. They too had been drinking steadily, most likely bourn of boredom. If Oscar had thought their twenty-minute subway ride was painful, four hours of shared silence standing on the outskirts of what used to be his own living room was excruciating.
Eventually, he couldn’t bear it any longer. He excused himself from Robin and Finch, claiming he needed to use the washroom. There was only one bathroom in the apartment and it was an en suite next to the miniature closet in bedroom, all things Oscar knew because it used to be his bathroom and his miniature closet inside his bedroom. Now he lived in a boiling hot hellscape with eight billion fruit flies and a sweaty dude who refused to go to parties with him.
Oscar had considered actually going to the bathroom, if only for something to do, but he got sidetracked in the middle of the bedroom by a cluster of men’s shirts hanging in the open closet. They were undoubtedly Ezra’s. Oscar didn’t know if Ezra was living there permanently, but he was clearly there often enough to warrant the need to hang up some of his clothes. It was a devastating blow. Prior to that exact moment, Oscar had kind of been under the impression that his and Katy’s break-up wasn’t permanent. They could get back together. She might change her mind. He could get the ring back from the jeweller’s. That unbelievably perky saleswoman he’d had to return it to would be delighted. But none of that was clearly going to happen. Katy had moved on. She’d moved on to Ezra and Oscar was still stuck in the same damn place, heartbroken and unbelievably sad and accidentally eating fruit flies while he showered. He laid down on the bedroom floor.
Twenty minutes later, the bedroom door opened. Oscar didn’t look up because he didn’t really want to know who had found him in his sorry state, lying on what used to be his bedroom floor, but was now Katy and Ezra’s bedroom floor, incredibly sad. He may have been crying, but it was hard to tell. He hadn’t checked and he couldn’t really feel anything but the crushing weight of his own depression, which seemed to have found a home on top of his chest. With his luck, he’d suffocate on it and he’d be found dead on the floor of his ex-girlfriend’s bedroom, which was undoubtedly one of the saddest ways he could die.
Oscar looked up. It was Robin and Finch.
“Hey,” he said back, lowering his head back to the carpet. There was more silence. There was so much silence with these two. Oscar was in the middle of wondering if either of them ever managed to speak to one another when he felt something brush against his left arm and then heard something rustle to his right. He looked over to each side, finding Robin lying on his back to his left and Finch lying on his back to the right.
“It’ll be alright, buddy,” Robin told him, patting his elbow slightly awkwardly due to the angle. Finch, predictably, didn’t say anything, but for once the silence was alright.
“I can’t be her friend,” Oscar admitted after a while.
“Do you want to be her friend?” The question surprisingly came from Finch. “She’s friends with that smug jackass who looks like a weasel.”
It was a very good point.
“I fucking hate that guy,” Oscar replied.
“Everyone fucking hates that guy,” Robin returned. “He’s been sitting by himself on that fucking ottoman all evening.”
“Because he looks like a weasel,” Finch said like it was an explanation.
“Because he looks like a weasel,” Robin agreed.
“A stupid, smug weasel,” Oscar added.
“Piece of shit,” Finch chimed in. Oscar laughed and his chest felt lighter.
Twenty minutes later, they left. He didn’t even say good-bye to Katy. Once had been enough.