Six days in a row, Finch awoke in the morning listening to his neighbour singing the chorus to “Cold Hearted”. Rakesh was very fond of ‘80s pop songs and also, by extension, Paula Abdul.
“She dances like an angel,” Rakesh said to him in the hallway once, leaving Finch wondering what exactly it was about him that implied he was at all interested in Paula Abdul or socializing.
“Rakesh woke me up by singing Paula Abdul again,” Finch announced, wandering into the living room from his bedroom. He was just assuming one of his roommates, or Amare, would be home. All of them worked shifts, which meant that there was usually someone home, even if it was a weird hour of the day or night. Sometimes it was nice knowing that there’d be someone there, to listen or to help. And sometimes it was aggravating as fuck, especially when Gord was practicing Raffi songs for a child’s birthday party or Gavin was drinking tea. He never waited long enough for it to cool, which meant that everybody else was either treated to the sound of him slurping for several minutes or the sound of him swearing about burning off his taste buds because his tea was essentially still boiling.
On that particular morning, Finch found Gord sitting on the living room couch with Snib, the cat from across the hall, on one side and Eartha Kitten on the other. Gord was tuning a guitar, one of many that he owned, and both cats were watching him in avid fascination. Snib in particular had a really weird obsession with Gord. It seemed especially odd to Finch, who couldn’t figure out why any living creature would devote so much of its time to Gord and his mustache.
“‘Straight Up’?” Gord replied, barely looking up from his guitar strings.
“‘Cold Hearted’,” Finch said, walking over to the kitchen to pour himself some cereal.
“A classic,” Gord nodded, beginning to play the chorus on his guitar. “You know, when he sings, he sounds like my deaf aunt’s Cher impression.”
Finch chose not to respond to that.
“This building is full of weirdos,” he said instead.
“Especially Gavin,” Gord added. It was a particularly bold statement to be made by a man who was essentially serenading cats.
A couple days and another three mornings of Paula Abdul later, Finch ran into the building’s number one resident weirdo in the lobby. He didn’t know what his name was; he and his roommates only knew him as Open Bathrobe Guy, OBG for short. OBG wandered the halls at all hours of the day with his small pet dog in, as the name would suggest, an open bathrobe. He had an alarming amount of chest hair, like all of the Bee Gees combined. He also had a combover, several gold teeth, and the gait of a man who’d been riding a horse for eighteen hours. He never said much, just wandered past people with an unnerving and unwavering stare. He had very wide, watery, blue eyes that had a tendency to wander independently of each other. Gavin had once tried taking bets on which one was actually a glass eye only to eventually settle on them both being glass. OBG also let his dog pee on the carpet in the hallways.
On that particular day, he and OBG were collecting their mail at the same time. Finch hadn’t gotten the mail in several weeks and neither, it appeared, had either of his roommates. He had to use considerable force to jimmy out a few letters that had been wedged deep into the far corner of their mailbox. Three feet away, one of OBG’s eyes was watching him. Finch couldn’t tell if it was on purpose or not so he ignored it. Frankly, he would’ve ignored it even if it was intentional.
“Hello,” OBG said, breaking the silence. He had a strangely low voice. He had the voice of Barry White in the luminescent, pale body of a man who got very little physical activity and lived in an underground bunker. Finch debated whether or not to respond.
“Hi,” he eventually replied after several minutes.
“You have a lot of mail,” OBG observed.
“Yes,” Finch agreed. Neither of OBG’s eyes were looking at him now. They were both pointing outward in opposite directions. If they were real and not in fact glass, he had unbelievable peripheral vision.
“You live in apartment 8E,” OBG continued. Finch assumed he had a point, but he wasn’t planning on staying around long enough to find out what it was.
“Yes,” he repeated, making to leave.
“I have something for you,” OBG said, which was quite possibly one of the most ominous things to hear from a man in an open bathrobe.
A few minutes later, Finch flung open the front door to his apartment and marched inside, going straight to where Gord was sitting on the couch and stopping directly in front of him. Amare was sitting in the armchair next to the couch with a beer and Gavin had taken up residence on the floor beside him. The three of them were watching Gilmore Girls. Finch was cradling all of their mail in his arms, but he dropped it, letting it flutter to the floor, to hold out a crisp white envelope to Gord.
“The guy who always lets his dog piss on the carpet by the stairs left a note for you,” he announced, delighted. “He said, and I quote, ‘Give this to the fine one with the mustache and the tight ass’. I’ve made the assumption based on your mustache. I have no opinions on your ass.”
The other three stared at him in shock until Gavin burst out laughing, spewing beer from his nose. Gord took the note reluctantly and read it out loud. OBG had written him a note to ask him to dinner. It was well-written and thoughtful. It also smelled like salami.
“Why?” Gord asked the room at large, as if they had any explanations for him. “Why has he done this?”
“He clearly thinks you’re gay,” Finch shrugged.
“It might be because you look like butch Freddie Mercury, like Freddie Mercury trying to look like Burt Reynolds,” Gavin interjected, also looking extremely delighted.
“I think I could do better,” Gord mused. “Every time I see him, he’s wearing tightie-whities and an open bathrobe.”
“He has no shame,” Amare replied. “You got to give him credit for that. He’s ballsy.”
“Oh, we’re all too aware of his balls,” Gavin retorted bluntly, laughing madly again.
“Listen, when the two of you go for dinner, try to find out how many of his eyes are glass,” Finch said to Gord, who flipped him off.
“Fuck you,” he said flatly. “Even if I was interested in dudes, I still wouldn’t date him. His hair looks like a toupee that was eaten by a dog.”
Gord decided to ignore the note and move on with his life. All things considered, open bathrobe at the top of the list, it was a wise move.
Two days later, Finch awoke to Rakesh singing “Opposites Attract”. Finch groaned, rolled over, covered his head with a pillow, and tried to ignore it. None of it worked. He got up, got dressed, and went out to the kitchen to make himself breakfast. Surprisingly, no one else was home. He ate his Pop Tarts in peace, left his plate in the sink mostly to annoy Gavin, pulled on his parka and his motorcycle boots, and opened the door to leave. He was going to go shopping to pick up some things he needed, like a new toothbrush, some Band-Aids, and underwear because he had to do laundry, but he didn’t want to do laundry. He didn’t get very far, though. Instead, he opened the door and came face-to-face with OBG, who was standing directly outside their apartment door with his irritating dog and his open bathrobe and a bottle of wine. It appeared to be a sparkling zinfandel. Finch just about pissed himself he was so startled.
“Hello,” OBG greeted him solemnly, not moving in the slightest. Finch wondered how long he’d been standing there.
“Hi,” Finch returned, trying to pretend his breathing wasn’t as heavy as it was. His heart was beating furiously in his chest. He was probably going to go into cardiac shock soon. He’d have to spend his remaining moments on earth next to the Y-front of OBG’s tightie-whities.
“Did you deliver my note?” OBG asked after a long, and frankly unnerving, silent bout of staring. Finch contemplated how to answer. He could go with brutal honesty and tell OBG that he had delivered his note and it was not well received. Or he could lie to spare his feelings and say he hadn’t gotten around to doing it yet. Or he could lie and create false hope and say that he had delivered it and that Gord had been thrilled. That had the added bonus of ruining things for Gord as well.
“Yes,” was what Finch settled on. OBG stared at him again. His open bathrobe swished with the draft of the hallway. His dog barked. Finch tried to work out whether or not he’d be able to slip past him to leave. And when that seemed unlikely, he wondered just how bad it would be if he pushed OBG out of his way.
“I’ll call again tomorrow,” OBG eventually announced before Finch had a chance to actually push him.
“Great,” Finch returned, making a mental note to be out for all of the next day.
When Finch saw Gord later that evening, he warned him. He had considered not bothering, but ultimately decided that he was a better person than that.
“OBG stopped by today to ask about his note to you,” he said mostly to Gord, but a little to Gavin as well. Gavin was furiously washing dishes in the kitchen. Finch was softening his anger by delighting him with tales of Gord’s misfortune. It was usually a very effective tactic.
“Glad I wasn’t here then,” Gord returned dismissively.
“It’s alright,” Finch said. “He’s going to call on you tomorrow like you’re a genteel Victorian woman. In the Austen romance of your life, he’s your Mr. Darcy.”
“Christ, can you imagine him in bloomers?” Gavin piped up, clearly thrilled.
“I can’t even imagine him in pants,” Finch returned. Gord glared at them both.
When OBG came by the next day, Gord pretended not to speak English.