Owen, Friend

by Paul Brian

“You’re such a good friend, Owen. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Owen had just come back from all-you-can-eat tacos at the Grand Rio Mexican Restaurant, but he’d never felt less satisfied.

“Thanks, Rachel… you too.”

She told him he was a nice guy, a kind guy, a smart guy. Rachel even said he wasn’t bad looking. Her newest guy interest was called Avery, though. She was telling Owen about Avery now.

Apparently Avery could get a bit handsy.

It wasn’t exactly what Owen wanted to know, especially not the details about how much difficulty Avery had undoing her bra.

Owen thought of high school when he’d taken part in a production of The Merchant of Venice and replayed Shylock’s famous speech in his head.

“…fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons… warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer… If you prick us, do we not bleed?”

Do I hath not hands that can undo a bra? Do I hath not desires? Owen certainly had hands that could do other things, but none of them seemed to be things he was doing to an attractive girl he was interested in. He buried his face in the pillow of his cheap bed.

Rachel’s voice was tinny through speakerphone. She asked if he was listening. Just last night he’d sat for two hours watching a movie with her at her upscale apartment downtown while she vented about how her accounting job was giving her migraines.

He scrolled through his Facebook “friends”. No girl caught his interest. He could only think of Rachel. She was in another league, her cute face, greenish-brown eyes, hilarious sense of humor. Why had he ever thought he had a shot anyway?

Owen stared at the wall. He told Rachel he felt sick and excused himself, then clicked off the call.

Rachel sat back in her room. She had a smug smile on her moderately attractive face. She reached for a cigarette and extracted it from a slim pack next to a pile of medical forms with large sums of money listed. Imperion Private Medical Imaging and Organ Transplant.

Black votive candles cast shadows over a wall full of photographs. Rachel sat back and studied them as smoke curled around her. Some had pins in them, some had red x’s slashed across with a marker. Young men—some smiling, some not, one crumpled like a ragdoll with LOL written in red over it and a smiley face. That had been a crazy night. Luckily there were a lot of large garbage cans in that neighborhood of Philly. And luckily Sally had been there to help. That douchebag had weighed a ton, especially when he was locked up like a zombie in rigor mortis.

A sadistic smile twisted Rachel’s scarlet lips as she flicked through a list of contacts on her brand-new iPhone. She’d just started listing blood type and any health issues under the space where you could put their address. She didn’t need another case like that Avery asshole with the defective kidneys. Undoing bras hadn’t been his only challenge. Well, he had nothing more to worry about now…

Rachel tapped her phone contact. Owen Creston. No known medical problems, Type O. What a sad guy Owen was, always looking for approval and affection: so earnest and needy and attentive. Rachel half choked with laughter, exhaling a cloud of smoke.

“Oh Owen, you’re such a nice guy.”

It was time to move him out of the friendzone.