28: “How uncomfortable”

Yusuf Nazari worked at a local radio station, Roehampton Radio Company or RRC AM. He’d been working there for five years and he had amassed three separate radio shows. He hosted the early weekday morning show, which was called Breakfast with Rocking Rob and Wild Wes, wherein he was Rocking Rob and his producer Wes was Wild Wes. They played some easy-listening music and some gentle pop, but they also talked, sharing pop culture news. Yusuf spent a lot of time dissecting the Kardashians’ various vacations. Weekday mornings from nine to noon, directly following Breakfast with Rocking Rob and Wild Wes, Yusuf hosted The Nazari Show. Wes produced it and the two of them played current indie and alt-rock, which they both loved. It was not well-listened to. But Yusuf’s most popular radio show by far was Golden Oldies with Bill and Neil on Saturday mornings.

During the Golden Oldies segment, Yusuf and Wes played anything recorded prior to the year 2000, but with a focus on music from 1950 to 1970. Yusuf actually liked a lot of the music and almost no one called in so it was a pretty sweet gig. He had chosen his alias, Bill, by taping a whole bunch of generic white man names to a dartboard and then throwing darts at it until he hit one. Other options had included Glen, Bruce, Will, Don, and Tom. Wes had chosen his alias because he had an uncle named Neil.

“And you’re very fond of him?” Yusuf had asked when Wes first told him this.

“Not especially,” Wes had answered quite candidly. “But he is a middle-aged white man and I would say he loves The Beatles more than he loves his own wife.”

“Is it because Paul’s so cute?” Yusuf had returned.

“Well it certainly isn’t because Ringo is,” Wes had replied.

Yusuf and Wes’ friend Frank invited them over to his apartment for a BBQ. Yusuf and Wes had worked with Frank at the radio station before he’d gotten his own radio show at Hook FM, a much more well-known radio station in Roehampton. It was an FM channel. People actually listened to it. It had been a solid career move. And that was only to host a midnight show slot. Now Frank was on air throughout the week during rush hour. That was the dream.

Frank lived in an old house that had been turned into apartments. His apartment was the entire third story, but not actually that big. It was long and narrow and mostly irregular shapes. There were three bedrooms in a row at one end of the apartment and then an open kitchen and living room on the other end with a hexagonal, comically small bathroom in the middle and a small balcony jutting off the living room. The apartment was also roughly a billion degrees and infested with fruit flies.

“You should move,” Yusuf told Frank as the two of them stood in his boiling hot living room. Wes was sitting in one of the chairs, watching baseball with Frank’s reticent roommate Ramsay.

“Move?” Frank repeated dubiously. “Because of a broken radiator and a few bugs?”

“No, no,” Yusuf shook his head. “Because this is how the plague began, man. This is like Ground Zero for malaria.”

“They’re just fruit flies,” Frank rolled his eyes.

“No they’re not,” his roommate Oscar called adamantly from the living room floor where he’d been lying since Yusuf and Wes had arrived. “They’re a menace to my mental health. They’re my nemeses. They were sent to this earth to torture me. I hate them.”

There was a long silence after Oscar finished speaking.

“Your roommate’s real weird, man,” Yusuf told Frank eventually.

What Frank had called a low-key BQQ, turned out to be a full-fledged party complete with jello shots and Wes’ ex-girlfriend Sybil. She turned up with two other women, a tray of jello shots, and a man that Wes glared at for a solid five minutes.

“How uncomfortable,” Yusuf observed, glancing from Wes to Sybil and back again.

Thirty minutes later, Yusuf felt he’d really bonded with Frank’s roommate Oscar, who was still on the living room floor. They were chatting about K-pop music of all things. Yusuf had sat down on the floor beside him, primarily to avoid having to deal with any part of Wes’ relationship drama. Wes had been alternately looking longingly and wistfully at Sybil and very angrily glaring at her male companion, who, as far as Yusuf could tell, appeared to be merely her friend. They had zero romantic interaction with one another.

“So you’re Bill of Golden Oldies with Bill and Neil?” Oscar asked incredulously.

“Yup.”

“Why Bill? If you could have any alias in the world, why would you choose Bill?” Oscar replied, confused.

“Because no baby boomer wants to be told about The Beach Boys by a brown dude,” Yusuf answered simply.

“Oh yeah, that’s a very good point,” Oscar nodded, which looked like it took a lot of effort given that he was still lying down. Yusuf was nearly impressed.

“Who is that?” Yusuf asked Oscar, nodding discretely to the guy Wes had been frowning at the entire evening. Oscar turned his head and even lifted it slightly off the floor to get a good look.

“I have no idea,” Oscar answered.

“He’s in your home,” Yusuf retorted.

“Yes, but so are you and I didn’t know who you were until, like, half an hour ago,” Oscar returned.

“Alright, that’s a fair point,” Yusuf nodded.

Yusuf spent the remainder of the evening with Oscar and his girlfriend Priscilla, who was hilarious. It was a generally enjoyable time. He ignored whatever was happening with Wes under the hope that it would resolve itself. By the time everyone was clearing out and Yusuf met up with Wes for the first time in roughly five hours, he discovered that it had not in fact just sorted itself out and that he was very likely unwise to have ignored it for so long. Wes was incredibly drunk. Yusuf had to put an arm around him to half-drag him down the three flights of stairs to the street outside Frank’s apartment. And then he had to drag him back to their own apartment because Yusuf refused to pay for cabs.

When they finally got back to their apartment, Yusuf had to stand watch to make sure Wes drank a glass of water and then essentially had to pour him into his bed. He dumped Wes on top of his mattress and made to leave the room, not all that interested in tucking him in for the night, but Wes stopped him with a flailing hand and a grunt. Yusuf turned back to him expectedly.

“Why is she doing this to me?” Wes asked morosely, partially into his pillow. It took Yusuf a moment to figure out what he was talking about.

“Dude, you broke up with her,” he answered after a moment.

“I know,” Wes sniffed. Yusuf stood above his bed for a moment, waiting to see if there was any more to follow. When Wes offered nothing else, Yusuf left, not keen to add to the conversation himself.

That night, Yusuf had a nightmare about fruit flies.

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