the two roys

by zara hemla :: the office (us) :: roy & toby :: g :: "i hate my house," says Miserable Roy, low and mean.

Roy marries Pam in June, but by December she is gone; his safe, reliable girl morphed into a cold, unforgiving woman who packs up her clothes while he's at the bar and leaves for parts unknown. No note, no nothing. He calls her parents and they tell him she's in New York and that she doesn't want to see him. In March, the divorce papers arrive. He signs them.

By April, he has split into two Roys. The first one is Brash Roy. Brash Roy agrees with the guys at the warehouse that women are bitches, they're all bitches, and they'll tear your heart out and stomp on it. Brash Roy boasts about the women he's dated since Pam left, and how he's screwed 'em and left 'em. The whole warehouse cheers when Brash Roy comes in the door. He's the poster boy for the Man Who Moved On.

The second Roy is Miserable Roy. Miserable Roy cleaned out the kitchen, sat down in the middle of Pam's dinnerware set that they picked out in Pier One, and cried. Miserable Roy sits in the dark with the television playing some stupid reality show, throwing back fifth after fifth of whiskey or gin or whatever happens to be on special at the state liquor store. Miserable Roy has long imaginary phone conversations with Pam, where he asks her over and over what was wrong, what he could have done differently, why she would leave without even saying goodbye.

Roy thinks he's doing okay -- the guys don't seem to notice that Miserable Roy is slowly taking over, that the drinking is getting heavier and the brashness disappearing. But one day, Darryl takes him aside after work.

"I'm worried about you," he says in a very un-Darryl-like way. Brash Roy tries to bluff it out, but Darryl steers him to the bit of mirror that they use in their locker room. "Look at yourself," he says.

Miserable Roy stares at him out of the mirror -- dark shadows under his eyes, puffy face and straggly hair. "Is that me?" he says.


Darryl sends him up to talk to Toby. Roy goes, but he can't talk to Toby in that office. Even in the back, away from everyone, he can't talk. He can feel them all watching -- Michael, hating him for driving Pam away. Jim, hating him for making Pam unhappy. Everyone else, hating him on principle.

Toby is the only one that doesn't hate him. Roy gets a measure of relief just from the completely understanding look in Toby's eyes, so much so that he agrees to meet Toby after work. They can't go to a bar, says Toby, because they shouldn't drink. Was there somewhere else that he liked to go? Roy shakes his head, no.

"Your house?"

"I hate my house," says Miserable Roy, low and mean.

They end up agreeing to meet at Toby's. Roy makes his way there in the cold May night, and it's just a small bachelor pad in an apartment complex. It is warm there and smells like microwave dinners. Toby clears away a Stouffer's mac and cheese and invites him to sit down.

"I don't eat very well anymore," he says. Roy asks him about his own marriage and divorce, watching as Toby, ever quiet, turns even more inward, remembering a time when he wasn't Miserable Toby. His face even lights up a bit, and Roy is surprised to see him smile. He can't remember ever seeing Toby smile.

"Darryl is really worried about you," Toby says finally, steering the conversation to a place that Roy doesn't want to go. "He called me up and told me to take good care of you. So, I need you to talk to me."

"What is there to say?" begins Brash Roy. "She left me." He clenches his fist hard, burying it up against his thigh to hide it.

Toby leans forward, his face serene and perfectly gentle, and takes Roy's hand. He unclenches those crooked fingers, and Roy lets him, and as he sees his own palm, the real words finally come.


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