Phoenix Chapter Eight: January the Ninth

Phoenix Chapter Eight: January the Ninth

A Chapter by SweetNutmeg

Chapter Eight: January the Ninth
Rogan is back at work on Monday, relieved to shake off the gloomy mood that persisted through New Year's day. And he has practice to look forward to.

Thursday rolls around and he sets off at six to catch the bus to the warehouse for practice. Dark clouds are collecting on the horizon. He glances up at the threatening sky as he gets off the bus, and walks quickly, hoping to outpace the coming storm. His guitar is in a case, but it isn't perfectly water proof. He finally arrives, dashes down the alley and up the stairs just as the first drops start coming down.

He is first to arrive so he has to wait for Buzz to come and unlock the door. He leans against the wall of the warehouse, under the large overhang, and watches the rain start. 

Eventually, Buzz and the rest of the guys show up and they get started. They are still working on the original songs Rogan hasn't gotten note perfect yet. Their music drowns out the rain pummeling the corrugated metal roof.

“Let's grab a beer at Molly's,” Roy suggests, after they have packed up. 

Buzz gestures to Rogan in silent invitation to catch a ride and they walk out together. The rain has stopped, thankfully. This time J.D. arrives first and has grabbed a round of beers. Roy comes in a good 15 minutes later, apologizing.

“My mom called and I had to reassure her I am happy and healthy. You know how moms worry.” 

J.D. makes a disgusted noise and says, “Not my mom. She's the wicked witch of the west.” 

“My mom isn't the doting type either,” Buzz growls. “Mainly because I can't stand her old man. Always stealing and lying and cheating. He's a meth head. I hate drugs.” He looks at J.D. and Roy and quickly says, “A little reefer, no big deal, but hard drugs? I despise them.”

“Meth kills.” Rogan says this with such bitterness, they all look at him. 

“Personal experience?” Buzz asks.

“Not really,” he lies. “You guys want another round?” and Rogan escapes the conversation. 
  

The next Monday, Rogan stumbles out of the third bar he's tried this night. He's not even sure which part of downtown Shermer he's in. Snow lies in patches on the ground, but he doesn't feel the bitter cold. He moves down the sidewalk a few paces and sees a lit up store front. Inside, fancy people stand in clumps drinking wine. There is a wire sculpture in the window. He must be in the arts district. An art opening, just what he needs.

He knows what he's looking for tonight, a dark bar where he can get steadily more drunk and talk to a stranger about January the ninth. He won't find this in the arts district. He leans against a telephone pole while he gets his bearings. He wants to head over to the seedy part of town. Maybe a guy, maybe a girl, just someone who will listen and then forget him the next day.

As he ponders, someone from the art gallery approaches him. Great, now he's going to be told to move along. But it's not a gallery employee. It is Allison Reynolds.

“Rogan? Are you OK?” 

“Hey Al. I'll be just fine if I can find another drink. Where's Benny's?” He is glad to have the telephone pole to support him.

“Why are you here? Why are you drunk?” 

“It's January the ninth. It's an anniversary. Can you give me a ride over to Benny's?” 

“Rogan, I don't think you need more to drink.” 

“Sure I do. It's an anniversary.”

“An anniversary of what?”

“The most important day of my life. January the ninth.” Rogan tries to stand up without the aid of the telephone pole, quickly resumes his position propped up against the pole. “Whoops, lost my balance.”

A car pulls up. Allison leans over to talk to the driver, then says, “Rogan, I've got a Lyft. C'mon, let me take you home.” 

“But Benny's...” Rogan tries to orient himself again. It's getting harder to stand without the pole. “But I've got to tell somebody.”

“Benny won't serve you so drunk, there's no point. It's freezing. Let's get you home.”

“I've got to tell...” Rogan trails off.

“You can tell me,” Allison says, reasonably. “You can tell me at your house.” 

Allison manages to lever Rogan's long frame into the Toyota and climbs in after.

“Rogan, where do you live?” 

“51 Hanover Street.”

Things are a bit of a blur for Rogan after that, until they reach the snakehouse. He's a little more steady on his feet by the time they arrive. Up to the porch, through the front door, up more stairs, until he is standing in front of the padlocked door. He ushers Allison in, wondering briefly how this happened, then decides it's just the randomness of life at work. He padlocks the door from the inside and slumps onto his couch. Things have stopped spinning. Allison joins him. She is beautiful in her slim black dress, a scarlet scarf around her neck. 

“Allison, you're beautiful.”

“Rogan, why did you get drunk tonight?”

“It's the ninth of January.”

“Yes, you said that. But what is special about the ninth of January?”

“It's an anniversary. You wouldn't understand.”

“Try me.” 

He hesitates. He's never told anyone he knows, just strangers in bars. People who would forget him, who he would never see again. He looks over at Allison, who is gazing at him with polite interest.

“It's my sister Lucy's anniversary.” 

“I didn't know you had a sister.”

“I don't, anymore, not since January the ninth, 2012.”

“It's the anniversary of her death?”

Rogan nods. 

“You wanted to tell someone. If you want to, I can listen.”

It feels like the alcohol is physically draining away, making his limbs heavy and numb, but his mind clears a bit more. 

“OK, Al. I'll tell you. It was meth. Crystal meth killed her. Well, it was really my father. But it was the oxycodone in the end.” He shivers. 

“She was six years older than me. When I was little, we'd play slap jack and play with my matchbox cars. It was us against the world. She said I was her best buddy. The meth, it started out ok. Sometimes she'd come home high on meth, all happy, and would watch TV with me, or play with my Legos, being silly and laughing. But later, she mostly came home sad and angry. She'd yell at me for making noise, or sometimes cry. I hated it when she'd cry.” Rogan feels something pricking in his eyes and is afraid tears will come. 

“Nothing I did could make her stop crying.” He can't help it, tears form and he blinks rapidly.

“She'd hug me and tell me about how she deserved it. At the time, I didn't understand what it was, but I begged her not to cry. I told her I loved her, and it was never enough.” Tears are falling now, spotting his uniform trousers as he shades his eyes. 

“Nothing I could do or say was ever enough.” A harsh sob escapes him. When Allison puts her arms around him, he clutches her. 

“I couldn't fix her, and she died.” His body is wracked with spasms. 

Eventually he loosens his hold on Allison and she rubs his back. His breakdown shames him. He can't stand to look at her, so when he lets go of her, he stands and goes to the mantle.   

“After, she'd fall asleep. She always crashed and slept for 12 hours at a time. When she woke up, she'd be angry and twitchy and mean.”

“It sounds like she was very unstable.”

“I didn't know there was a pattern, it just seemed like she was totally random, and I never knew which sister I'd get. She kept staying away for longer and longer. It was the last night, when she told me.” 

“Told you what?”

“That my father-- that he'd come to her bedroom. S**t, I can't say it. She said it started when she was 10. F**k.” He wants to punch something, he wants to destroy the world. He repeatedly kicks the box his amp came in. The hollow sound doesn't satisfy his anger so he stops. 

He is beyond embarrassment now. He looks at Allison. “That's the night she OD'd. I found her on the floor, lying on her side, and I couldn't wake her up.”

“How old were you?”

“I was 12. No one was home, and I didn't know what to do, so I called 911.” He sees he is twisting his fingers together, untwines them. “It was oxycodone. She did it on purpose.

“My parents wouldn't let me go to the hospital. She died and I was supposed to just ignore it. They acted like dying-- like she had done something bad. He used her up and threw her away like she was garbage.” He gives the box another kick. 

Allison goes to where he stands at the mantle. She takes his hand and leads him to the bed. 

“Take off your boots,” she says softly. “Just lie down.” 

She sits down next to him and puts her arms around him. He rests his head on her shoulder and she pulls him closer. 


When Rogan wakes, he is on his side, Allison's small form fitted into the curve of his body. She has turned off the lamp and the room is lit by a dim glow from the window, a moon lit sky. She stirs a bit and pulls his hand over her waist, securing it against her stomach. He falls asleep this way, his arm around her, her warm body against his.

The sun is rising when he wakes again. She is asleep. He slips out of their embrace carefully, to not wake her. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he holds his throbbing head. How much did he drink last night? He can't remember. Too much. Gingerly, he gets in the shower, dresses in his uniform. She's still asleep, so he heads downstairs to the kitchen. He scrambles some eggs and butters toast. She is stretching and looking out the window when he toes the door open. Rogan doesn't know what to say or do. Allison smiles and takes one of the plates with a low “Thank you,” and sits on the couch. At a loss as to what else to do, he sits also. Eating is something to do, so he tries, but the eggs feel slimy and his stomach roils. He pushes the eggs around to have something to occupy himself. 

When she places her empty plate on the coffee table, he feels her looking at him. He slides his own plate onto the table, wants to look anywhere but at her. She takes his hand and he reluctantly looks at her, shame filling him again. All he sees in her face is warmth and acceptance, not the revulsion and scorn he somehow expected. 

“Rogan, thank you for sharing that with me last night, about your sister. I'm very sorry you lost her.” She looks at him earnestly. “Are you OK?”

“I'm fine,” is his automatic answer. She continues to look at him, his hand in hers. He wants to brush off what happened, go back to feeling in control. But her expression doesn't let him deny his out of control breakdown of last night. “Well, no, I'm not fine. But I'll be ok.”  She keeps on looking at him. “Really, I'll be ok. I need to get to work now.” He pulls his hand free and begins filling his pockets with keys, phone, wallet. Scooping up his motorcycle jacket, he shrugs into it. Allison puts on her long coat over her rumpled dress and Rogan escorts her downstairs. She gives him a hug on the porch and they part ways.

Ryan can't stop teasing Rogan for being so hung over. Rogan does his best to pretend he'd had a fun escapade the night before. But it's hard. 


© 2019 SweetNutmeg


Author's Note

SweetNutmeg
Thank you for reading. Any and all comments welcome and appreciated. With this chapter, I really poured my heart into it, so please be gentle. Honest, though. If anything seems implausible, artificial, overly dramatic, etc., please tell me. I really want to get this chapter right.

My Review

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Featured Review

This is way more emotional than I expected. *sniff* No! I'm not crying! *sniff sniff* Not at all ;-;

I don't think it's implausible, (fictional, yes, but not) artificial, or overly dramatic. It might partly be that I'm polyamorous that I see nothing wrong with Allison staying the night at Rogan's, so you'll have to wait for input on that from monogamous people (some of whom might think that is cheating, and to that I say, "um, I politely disagree").

One other thing I wonder about is the length of winter vacation in the universe this story is taking place. Allison is still in school, and the day all this happened is Monday. Back in Lao PDR, we'd only get one day (yes, literally one day on the 1st of January) off. Here in Japan, school starts on the second week of January or earlier.

Technical stuff:

1. Sometimes she'd come home high on meth, all happy, and would watch TV with me, or play with my Leggos, being silly and laughing.

Did you mean Legos? I looked up "leggo" and urban dictionary says, "The phrase "leggo" is just another example of a piece of s**t that the rap community has given to popular culture."

2. He sees he is twisting his fingers together, untwines them.

I'm not sure what's happening here. Doing weird random finger-twisting for 5 minutes didn't help. A little clarification would probably help.

3. Allison puts on her long coat over her rumpled dress and Rogan escorts her down stairs.

I think you meant "...downstairs."

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

4 Months Ago

I don't think she was cheating on Andy (if she is still with him, we don't know). She was helping a .. read more
Wathanya.5KY3

4 Months Ago

You mean they might have already broken up? *gasp* If not, we'll see how Andy feels about it.
.. read more
Wathanya.5KY3

4 Months Ago

I just went back to read the first chapter because I vaguely remember Allison's family being mention.. read more



Reviews

I see you have another chapter up and had to come by and read it. Rogan has some issue I notices with a PTSD Which was nice touch I thought. It gives the guy more character which I felt he needed nicely done. love the story it intrigues me.

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

4 Months Ago

Thank you, oh faithful reader. I'm so glad you are enjoying my little story.
Rogan finally gets a bit of love--or was it just nurturing?
Outpace is one word, and I'd switch places with storm and coming--"out pace the storm coming"
Comma after eventually--"Eventually Buzz"
Comma after says--"Allison says reasonably."
"Things are a bit of a blur (for Rogan) after that..."
“Allison, you're beautiful.” Did he say that out loud? Yes, he did." This is like the movie director suddenly looking into the camera and commenting on the scene. It would be better to say something like, Rogan's tongue slipped. "Allison, you're beautiful."
He decides and says, “It's my sister Lucy's anniversary.” I think the "he decides and says" isn't needed.
“I don't, any more" Anymore is one word.
"He has been sobering up, and the thought of telling Lucy's story clears his head more." This sentence is a clear example of "tell". Much better to convey this information through dialogue, action, or inner thoughts.



Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

4 Months Ago

Thank you, Sam, for all the small pointers and tweaks. Every single one is much appreciated. I fixed.. read more
This is the best chapter so far. It's good to see Rogan open up. Now if he can only do that sober.

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

4 Months Ago

Thank you for reading so far into my story. I'm quite pleased it kept your attention. Who knows if h.. read more
This is way more emotional than I expected. *sniff* No! I'm not crying! *sniff sniff* Not at all ;-;

I don't think it's implausible, (fictional, yes, but not) artificial, or overly dramatic. It might partly be that I'm polyamorous that I see nothing wrong with Allison staying the night at Rogan's, so you'll have to wait for input on that from monogamous people (some of whom might think that is cheating, and to that I say, "um, I politely disagree").

One other thing I wonder about is the length of winter vacation in the universe this story is taking place. Allison is still in school, and the day all this happened is Monday. Back in Lao PDR, we'd only get one day (yes, literally one day on the 1st of January) off. Here in Japan, school starts on the second week of January or earlier.

Technical stuff:

1. Sometimes she'd come home high on meth, all happy, and would watch TV with me, or play with my Leggos, being silly and laughing.

Did you mean Legos? I looked up "leggo" and urban dictionary says, "The phrase "leggo" is just another example of a piece of s**t that the rap community has given to popular culture."

2. He sees he is twisting his fingers together, untwines them.

I'm not sure what's happening here. Doing weird random finger-twisting for 5 minutes didn't help. A little clarification would probably help.

3. Allison puts on her long coat over her rumpled dress and Rogan escorts her down stairs.

I think you meant "...downstairs."

Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

4 Months Ago

I don't think she was cheating on Andy (if she is still with him, we don't know). She was helping a .. read more
Wathanya.5KY3

4 Months Ago

You mean they might have already broken up? *gasp* If not, we'll see how Andy feels about it.
.. read more
Wathanya.5KY3

4 Months Ago

I just went back to read the first chapter because I vaguely remember Allison's family being mention.. read more

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Added on August 8, 2019
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SweetNutmeg
SweetNutmeg

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I am back and returning all reviews of "Unlocking Bonnie." I'm here to improve my writing. I love critiques that give me critical feedback, as well as praise. (Although, I do like praise. Gotta be .. more..

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