16: “Is this a cry for help?”

Single Frank was a force to be reckoned with. He knew this and he had made peace with it. Ramsay and Oscar, on the other hand, were less prepared. Frank dragged them out to three bars on three nights in one week and Oscar in particular seemed overwhelmed.

“Is this a cry for help?” He asked Frank on their way home from the third bar on the third evening.

“No,” Frank answered, laughing. He threw an arm around Oscar’s shoulders. “I actually feel much better.”

That was more than could be said for Oscar, who looked like death warmed over the following morning. Frank found him lying on the living room floor on his way to the kitchen to make breakfast. Ramsay, who was fairing much better, was eating cereal in one of the armchairs, focussed on the baseball highlight reel he was watching.

“So where should we go tonight?” Frank asked them, pouring a bowl of cereal for himself. It was a healthy brand, the kind that was sweetened with honey and full of raisins. Frank didn’t like it, but he’d run out of his own cereal. Ramsay had yet to notice that Frank was eating his cereal. Or perhaps he had, but just didn’t care enough to say anything about it.

“You want to go out again?” Oscar wailed from the floor, arm thrown over his eyes.

“It’s Saturday,” Frank pointed out, as if that should be enough of an explanation.

“We just went out three days in a row,” Oscar protested.

“Yeah, but it’s Saturday,” Frank said again.

“I don’t think I can go out again. I’ll die,” Oscar said weakly. Frank snorted into his cereal.

“You’ll be fine,” Ramsay said, eyes still trained on the TV. “Frank, stop eating my damn cereal.”

“Sure thing, boss,” Frank said through a mouthful of Ramsay’s cereal as Oscar groaned on the living room floor.

Frank organized a bigger outing for that night. He invited all his close friends in the city and then told them to invite their friends. In retrospect, it was a bad call. It was a bad call because Frank invited Suze, as they had grown quite close, and he invited Wes. And then Suze brought her roommate Sybil and their friend Chris and the tension inside the apartment became palpable.

“In my defense,” Frank whispered to Suze as they went to the kitchen to get drinks. “I didn’t know that your roommate was the Sybil.”

Suze glanced at him.

“I don’t like the way you said that,” she replied. “Why is she ‘the Sybil’? Why does she have her own title?”

Frank shrugged.

“Wes is really upset that they broke up,” he said. Suze looked over to where Sybil was sitting on the arm of the chair Chris was sitting in, lightly knocking Oscar in the head with her foot as he was lying on the living room floor. He’d told Frank he was preparing himself for the evening ahead. Wes was watching Sybil and Chris as well, drinking his beer forlornly as Miles and David attempted to chat to him about his job.

“She seems fine,” Frank remarked.

“Yeah,” was Suze’s response, which wasn’t very reassuring at all.

They went to a bar that Frank had actually heard about from Piper. He assumed she wouldn’t be there, although had she been, he would’ve been fine with it. Truthfully, he would’ve ignored her. He wasn’t sure if she would be okay, however. She was very angry most of the time. They immediately lost David in the crowd. He was delighted with Single Frank, as Miles and Oscar had informed Frank earlier in the evening. David, according to them, was only just entering his nineteen-year-old woo girl phase. Frank wondered how his wife felt about that.

“Not good,” was Miles’ succinct answer.

Frank felt the evening was going quite well until he realized it was actually going very, very poorly, but it was much too late to do anything about it by that point. The primary issue, though there were many, was Wes, who was most upset about his break-up with Sybil. Frank had known this and assumed it would manifest in some heavy drinking and equally as heavy moping. There was more to it, as it turned out. Wes was fairly convinced that Sybil was in love with her friend Chris. Having observed the two of them for approximately three hours, Frank was also fairly certain she was in love with her friend Chris. Hesitant to get involved, but ultimately quite concerned about the precarious emotional state of his friend, Frank brought it up to Suze.

“Do you know why Wes and Sybil broke up?” He asked, trying to talk to her over the thumping of the music. They were standing in the middle of the dance floor. Suze was dancing her heart out, not far from the group of their friends. Frank was being jostled about by the other people at the bar, trying to focus on Suze.

“He dumped her,” Suze answered, managing to throw a shrug into the middle of her shimmy in an impressively natural way.

“But why?” Frank pressed.

“Because he’s dumb,” Suze guessed, shrugging again. Frank had to agree with her on that one. He didn’t know Sybil very well, but he did know that she was very beautiful. Based on that fact alone, Frank thought Wes was the dumbest person in the world.

“Wes thinks she’s in love with Chris,” Frank added, trying to regain Suze’s attention. She had begun shimmying with some dude with a goatee. He had a lazy eye. She could do better. Frank didn’t feel remotely bad for interrupting.

“Yeah,” Suze replied, which was only the second most unsettling thing she’d said that evening.

About half an hour later, the second largest problem of the evening occurred. David got punched by a surprisingly strong short man in the middle of the dance floor crowd for dancing with the guy’s girlfriend. The girlfriend, who was wearing a leopard-print miniskirt and a tube top, then punched her boyfriend in the face and shouted at him for being a jealous dick. It was all incredibly dramatic. The couple was escorted from the dance floor by security and David was ushered back to the group by Miles.

“It’s not bad, right?” David asked the group, removing his hand from his bloody nose. It was bad. It was very, very bad.

“It could definitely be better,” Chris told him when no one else answered after a long time.

“It’s just a bloody nose,” David said. It was unclear whether or not he was trying to reassure himself or them. Either way, Frank doubted it was successful. His nose was roughly a centimetre to the left of where it had been before he’d been punched in the face.

“It’s definitely a bloody nose,” Oscar agreed, nodding. “I don’t know that it’s ‘just’ anything, though. I think it’s part of something much larger.”

“What?” David asked after a moment when that clearly didn’t make any sense to him.

“Your nose is broken, dipshit,” was Ramsay’s overly compassionate contribution to the conversation.

The third problem arose when they all accompanied David to the hospital to get his nose reset. Frank wasn’t sure why all of them felt they needed to be there, but he was sure it had a lot to do with the alcohol. The hospital staff certainly wasn’t thrilled with it. They took up a lot of seating space in the waiting room, even though it wasn’t very busy.

“You know, you all probably don’t have to be here,” the triage nurse told the lot of them as she was filling out some paperwork on David.

“Moral support,” Oscar offered in answer.

“It won’t be too bad to get his nose reset,” the nurse assured them all gently.

“Oh no, I meant for when his wife shows up,” Oscar explained. “He’s going to need all the support he can get when that happens.”

That turned out to be an understatement. Melly was furious when she arrived at the hospital, carrying their very sleepy daughter in her arms. She immediately handed her daughter off to Miles, who panicked and handed her to Suze, and then laid into David in the middle of the emergency room. It was a spectacle.

“She’s terrifying,” Wes whispered to Frank in awe.

“Yes,” Frank agreed.

“Maybe we should go now,” Sybil suggested. Wes flinched at the sound of her voice.

“Yeah, that’s a great idea,” Ramsay agreed. That was all the prompting he needed before he was standing and leaving, clapping David on the shoulder once before he left. Oscar scrambled to follow after him, giving David a weak thumbs up. Miles trailed along afterward with Chris. Suze held Melly and David’s daughter out to them.

“Really cute kid,” she offered as Melly took her daughter back. “Very precious. Lovely personality.”

Then Suze ducked her head, grabbed Sybil’s arm, and left the hospital as well.

“See you later, bud,” Frank nodded to David, throwing an arm around Wes’ shoulder and directing him out of the hospital as well. They were halfway down the street before either of them spoke.

“This was a terrible night,” Wes told Frank. Everybody else was walking ahead of them, talking and laughing. Suze had linked arms with Sybil, Chris, and Miles and appeared to be trying to get Oscar and Ramsay to join in, which would be a truly impressive feat if she managed it.

“Ah, it wasn’t so bad,” Frank returned, pulling Wes closer to him before releasing him and running to catch up with the others. He linked up with Miles and then managed to wrangle Oscar into joining along as well. By the time they got home, Ramsay had very, very begrudgingly joined as well, but only because Oscar threatened to eat all his cereal while he slept. Even Wes joined their human chain, careful to choose the end furthest from Sybil, but participating nonetheless.


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