I gave a bit of info and background on Connor last week, so now it’s time for something about the other main character: Oz.
In Connor’s friend and counter-part I wanted a character that had about him, on the surface, all kinds of questions and mysteries, and an awful lot of cognitive dissonance.
Oz is intelligent–brilliant, even–and a world-class manipulator of people’s baser instincts. He is smooth and confident and very, very capable. He is also a very-nearly-perfect physical specimen in some respects, even if he is slightly androgynous (think some of the Japanese anime heroes). He is always perfectly dressed, always sophisticated and fresh. He can be, literally, anything to anyone….and that is very much his job.
I dance around the topic a bit in the book, but the simple fact is that Oz is a whore. He’s belonged to one brothel or another since he was seven years old. That living hell, all he has known, completely defined his life…until he met Connor. In Connor’s friendship he finally found more.
To the rest of the world Oz is cynical and arrogant, but beneath it all Oz is also incredibly caring and vulnerable. He is also completely and totally in love with Connor…a love he knows his friend can never return. That, however, doesn’t matter to him. To a whore, love is not the physical act; sex is just business. No, to Oz, love is intimacy and trust in a world where neither of those really exist.
He and Connor live in an intimacy and trust with each other that he cannot imagine ever finding again…and that is enough for Oz. So long as the pair have their stasis, their life as roommates and ‘brothers’, he has everything he wants.
Such love is also, for someone like Oz, a zero-sum game. Love and care and trust cannot increase in one relationship without being taken from another. Every step of the way as Connor falls in love with Nat, Oz feels the only person who means anything to him slipping away. He has, in all honesty, no real life or self-identity outside of Connor. The loss of the boys’ stasis is the most devastating and overwhelming thing that could possibly happen to him.
As Connor begins to grow away from what dockside has turned him into (a junkie, a thief, and a liar), Oz sinks farther and farther into hopeless despair and misery until all he can do is lash out. If he has to suffer, so does everyone else.
All that is the background stuff, the character sheet stuff. I have pages and pages on my characters…especially on Oz.
But the simple fact of the matter is that Oz represents the ghosts from my own past, the friends that have killed themselves. Oz is gay, and is in love with someone completely and totally outside of that kind of relationship. As were two of the three friends of mine who committed suicide.
Oz is my pain at their deaths. Oz is all the signs I missed. Oz is them.