(Author's Note - a new one! This is the first Oscar fic I've ever written, even though I like his character a lot. I think he's funny and a little misunderstood, so I promise he'll get a little more relatable as the story goes on. Bear with me, and please leave a review and let me know you're reading if you like it!)
I don't like you.
Let's just start there. The name's Oscar Delancey, and I can tell you right now, I don't like you. I don't like the way you smile, or the way you walk, or the way you talk. I don't even have to hear you laugh to know that I'd rather gouge myself in the ear with a really dull spoon than listen to it. Don't think you're an exception, either, just because I haven't met you. I don't have to know you. I know that I don't like you. Got it?
Because that's gonna make it a whole lot easier for you to not like me.
This thing will go a whole lot smoother if you don't. Trust me. After all, I know how this story ends; it ain't one that I'm proud of, which is really saying something. I mean, I nearly crippled a guy in a bar fight once, and I'm proud of that. I couldn't set the bar much lower if I wanted to.
If you're really that nosy, though… here it is.
My days were pretty typical. Wake up and head to the distribution center – I usually punched somebody before we'd finished giving out the morning edition. Mornings piss me off. The self-important sunrise, the damn morning mist that always makes me fall on my ass, and the demented birds outside my window that are always yapping at each other and flying into the glass.
I liked the job okay, though. My older brother Morris, he and I are pretty tight, and we got to work side by side there. Morris was no joke; I learned everything I know from him. I guess you could say that I looked up to him, if I was going to be real honest about it. I tagged along after him, tried to win his approval, all that. Probably would've followed him into war if he'd ever asked me to.
Anyway, that was the day job. After afternoon edition, we'd head home for dinner before going to our second job. Yeah, we had a second job; ain't like distribution center jerk paid in rubies, right? So, in our downtime, we were thugs for hire. We mostly shook people down, some stealing here and there; paid better than you'd think, actually. Most people want to think that they're good people underneath it all, so they don't like to get their hands dirty. I never had that problem; I know what I am. No sense in wasting time denying it just to be surprised when you get slapped down into hell at the pearly gates.
Once we'd finished whatever work we had, it was off to the local bar until they kicked us out, and back home to bed before we had to wake up and do it all again. Not glamorous, but it suited me fine. And then, one day, a broad came in and wrecked it all…
"GET THE HELL OUT OF MY HOUSE!" Accompanied by a flying alcohol bottle that smashed against the wall near my head, I figured family dinner was over. This was usually how it ended; Morris had already headed out, Mother was crying, and Pa was cursing about something. It made Morris mad, but I figured, hey, for free room and board as a grown man, I could put up with the nightly dinner shows.
That wasn't totally true. I also kind of held out hope that one night, just one, we'd eat the whole meal without Pa smacking somebody. Or at least without smacking Mother.
I got up and grabbed my hat, getting out of there before Pa could pick up something else. We didn't have any work, tonight, so Morris was gone. Probably already two drinks under at the bar with the boys. I was jealous of him right then; it was mid-November and a colder year than normal, so vodka sounded like a real God-send.
I'd almost made it to the bar when I heard the screaming. I thought about ignoring it; tried to, even. But I guess curiosity got the best of me, because all the sudden I was down a side alley and looking at the scene before I even realized I'd moved.
It was messy. Even for my standards.
I'd worked guys over pretty good, and I ran with a rough crowd, so I'd seen some things. A lot of things, truth be told. But this was new. It was three guys, my size, beating on something – honestly, with all the blood and the way it was getting tossed around like a rag doll, I wasn't even sure it was a human. But I knew it was going to be dead, soon – and judging by the way the guys were laughing, that's what they were aiming for.
I don't know why I did it. Maybe God possessed me, or being out in the cold just made me angry; who knows? All I know for sure is, I walked right over the biggest guy and stabbed him under his arm before they even knew I was there.
The other two took one look as the guy went down and ran off; you can always count on poor loyalty from thugs in this city. Besides, that under the arm thing, it really does the trick - sort of like kicking a guy in the bits. Every guy around him is going to feel it, and they won't be anxious to be the next one up.
Then, I swear to you, the guy on the ground started crying. Can you believe it? The criminal element in this city was really disgusting sometimes. But that's when I noticed that the guy was definitely drunk – and that that thing they were kicking around was definitely human.
I nudged it with my shoe, rolling it over before getting a good look and managing, "What the…"
It was a girl. A pretty girl, too – which meant those guys had had to jump her pretty hard and fast, if she was conscious long enough to protect her face for that long. It also meant she was lucky as sin I came along when I did, because it was my guess that those three had more plans than just playing kick the can with her ribcage.
At that point, I wanted to leave. I was starting to get this funny, fuzzy feeling – sort of like when a whore's trying to work you over and they're saying all that nice stuff to you? Like that, only… warmer. I didn't like it.
It got worse when I saw the cross hanging on a chain around her neck, and noticed that her clothes were, presumably before the beating, pretty wholesome. Had those guys jumped a nun? Idiots. I stayed away from holy people – I do bad stuff, but pissing God off on purpose isn't on my list. I've read the Old Testament.
So, I've got a guy crying, and what I think might be a nun laying unconscious, and they're both bleeding all over everything. I could just imagine what the bulls would do to me if they found me there. I turned to go, maybe see if I could make it to the bar and salvage the night, when a hand grabbed my ankle.
It was the girl. After taking a deep breath so that I could pretend like I hadn't just nearly jumped out of my skin in surprise, I turned around and immediately wrinkled my nose. "Are you a damned idiot? Look at what you're doing – you're spitting out blood. Keep trying to talk and you're gonna choke on it. You'll shut up and save your energy for crawling out of here before those guys come back if you've got any mind at all."
She didn't react to my harsh tone, which got me to pause long enough to think to add, "How do you know my name?"
Considering what I'd just said before, I did at least feel a little bad when she tried to answer and instead started to cough violently. Still, she stopped after a few moments, and I rolled my eyes. "If you know me, then you can come find me and pay me back for saving your stupid life. That is, if you think you can handle it from here, now that I've done all the work."
She didn't respond. I glanced down and saw that her eyes were closed. Great. This was why doing good deeds was always worthless. If she was weak and stupid enough to get into this predicament, then she was weak and stupid enough to die. I started out of the alley as I cursed to myself. Really, what was a girl like that even doing there? Stupid. Just stupid.
It was precisely that moment when I realized I was going to be stupider.
It was probably her face. Pretty girls have been duping men for all eternity, right? Or maybe it was that she knew my name. It's a big city, and I was curious to find out how she knew me.
Or maybe it was because I knew, even then, that this girl was going to hurricane her way into my life no matter what I did.
I turned around, back into that dumb alley, and went and got her. I guess a lot of guys would feel like a hero, but all I was thinking about was how here I was, risking getting thrown in the slammer by picking this girl up and carrying her outta here, and she's squirming all over the place. She just got her stomach kicked in, what'd she want me to do?! Not like there was some magic way I could hold her that would be comfortable. And she was getting blood all over my clothes – that was going to be fun to explain.
Still, as I walked toward the convent down the street (I figured by now that she wasn't a nun, but it seemed like a good place to leave a battered body), I found that I didn't really care so much. She'd stopped moving so much, and all she was really doing was digging her fingers into my arm. Ordinarily I'd be insulted, since I'm no twig-armed weakling who can't handle carrying someone a half a block, but it sort of felt like she was just touching me to touch me, not hanging on for dear life. I don't get touched a lot, at least with a hand that's not balled into a fist at the time, so it was kind of nice.
And then it was over. I stopped outside the gates of place, and took more care setting the girl down then I'd prefer to admit before hollering like a maniac. Once I saw lights come on, I took off, not glancing back as I started for a friend's house to steal some clothes. I assumed that would be the last I ever heard about all of it.
I was so wrong.