Phoenix Chapter Ten: Shopping

Phoenix Chapter Ten: Shopping

A Chapter by SweetNutmeg

Chapter Ten: Shopping

    
Rogan thinks things over the next day. It's Friday and a lot of people will be getting their stuff out of hock, but there should still be plenty of selection. Lou's Pawn is the biggest pawn shop in the area. After work, he catches the bus and heads over to the less reputable end of downtown Shermer. The part of him tuned in to Allison notes that it is nowhere near the Artist's Guild, where he has run into her before.

Rogan nods to the armed security guard and enters. Lou's is a vast showroom, piled with valuables of all kinds. He is met by a large hunting equipment display and veers away from the rifles and hand guns, towards jewelry. Beyond that is the musical instrument section. He zeroes in on the line of amps. He is cruising the aisle when an employee approaches. He's a large guy wearing an inexpertly tied bow tie, with a bushy red beard. 

“You need some help, man?” the man asks. “We've got some new guitars today, a really nice Washburn, a couple of Fenders.”

“Thanks, just looking,” Rogan lies. This is the same guy who tried to sell him a bass amp for his guitar. He can do without that kind of help. He inspects the row of amps, checking for trademarks and models. As he is getting ready to give up, he sees the Blackstar combo. It's labeled as 60 watt, with one 12 inch speaker. They got that right at least. It's a bit battered, but appearance isn't his priority here. Having enough power is. 

He inspects more closely, finds the model number and looks it up on his phone. It has a lot of features. The many dials on top tell him what he needs to know about performance capabilities. This is definitely a gig-worthy piece of equipment. He looks at the price tag. $375. He checks his phone again. They obviously don't know what they've got here. That's an insanely low price. He tries picking it up. Heavy. He'll need some help getting this home. Now he just has to try it out. 

He catches the salesman's eye and says, “I'd like to play this one.”

After a thorough test drive, Rogan decides to get it.

"Can I pay for this today and pick it up tomorrow?"

“Sure, no problem,” says the salesman. He gets out a red pen and writes SOLD over the price listed on the tag. It's close to $400 with tax. That wipes out his savings account. He'll just cross his fingers and hope nothing bad happens until he refills his savings account. It won't take long, the rent on his room is low and they pay well at Midas.

Rogan walks out of Lou's, stuffing his receipt in his wallet. He looks up and sees the number three bus going by and there is Allison Reynolds, looking out the window. He raises a hand to wave. He sees her recognize him and smile, then the bus is gone. He spends his own bus ride home dreaming about the lovely, now single Allison and where he might see her next.    

Saturday after work, Gary takes Rogan over to the pawn shop and helps him carry the amp out to Gary's Jeep. As Rogan humps the amp up the front stairs of the snakehouse by himself, he figures it weighs about 40 pounds. He can carry it by himself, but he sure doesn't like to. He'll have to keep it at the warehouse. It's too heavy to lug up and down every week, and it's really too loud for home use anyway. So he calls Buzz. Buzz says he can grab him on the way over to the warehouse on Sunday before practice. 

On Sunday, Buzz and Rogan carry his new Blackstar amp down the alley and up the steps to the warehouse stockroom. As Rogan gets it set up, Buzz and Roy admire the new equipment. 

“Only $375?” Roy asks. “They were practically giving it away.” 

Once it is all set up, Rogan plugs in and tries a few chords. It sounds fantastic. He's never played on such quality equipment. He tunes up and starts with The Trooper, by Iron Maiden. The lovely sound pours out and he is just getting into the song when he notices J.D. watching as well. Rogan stops playing. 

“Nice. Where'd you get it?”

“Lou's.” 

“You are definitely gig ready with that bad boy, but you won't be needing it quite yet. Benny backed out.” 

The other guys all make disappointed noises. 

“He said he'll keep us in mind, he might need us to fill in one night. So we should work up a setlist and practice as if we're going to play soon. If he calls us, we'll be ready.” 

Buzz raises one eyebrow.

“I know Benny,” J.D. explains. “He's as good as his word. If there is a slot, we're first in line to fill it. So we better be ready.”
*** 

Three weeks later, at the beginning of February, Rogan is once again in downtown Shermer on his way to Jewel music on a Friday afternoon. He broke an E string in practice the night before and needs some picks too.  

On the corner of Walnut and Astley, looking across the street as he waits for the light to change, he sees Allison again. His heart picks up, feeling light and sort of swoopy. This time, he waits for her to cross and greets her when she reaches him. 

“Where ya headed, Al?” He turns to walk with her.

“I'm on my way to the Artist's Guild. I need some brushes and paint.” 

“You're always going there. What are you painting?”

“I'm doing Andy's portrait.”

What? Anger and despair twine together in his heart. How could they still be together? Hadn't Andy said they'd broken up? No, he never explicitly said so.  

“Last time I saw you was that day in front of Lou's. Where did you get that big bruise?”

Rogan looks at her blankly. “You don't know?” 

“Why would I know? You looked horrible. Were you in a fight?”

“You might say that. Someone punched me. I didn't do much fighting back.”

“But who punched you? Why?” 

“You really don't know?” She shakes her head. “It was Andy. Andy punched me and told me I was lying about what happened... what happened that night.” 

Several emotions fleet across her face before it settles into anger. “No, I didn't know. Somehow Andy forgot to mention that. He didn't believe me at first, but he came around. In fact, he apologized Wednesday night.”

“It's nice he apologized, right after punching me.”  

“That a*s. How could he have--- That was the last thing you needed, after Monday night.” She looks up at him, sorrow showing. “I'm very sorry he did that.” Her anger comes back when she continues, “He is a real chauvinist. I don't appreciate him acting the jealous male.”  

Rogan has a feeling Andy is going to catch it when Allison gets back to him. Inside he is gloating at the idea, but keeps his face composed.

Their conversation brings them up to the doors of the Artist's Guild. Rogan holds the door for Allison and follows her in. She doesn't question his accompanying her. He's never been in an art supply store before. It has an interesting smell, of fresh paper and glue and he supposes paints and other chemicals. The place is packed, short, narrow aisles with shelves filled to over flowing. The cracked cement floor is spattered with drops of paint. 

As he follows Allison deeper into the store, he is distracted by colored pencils. The color coded pencils are brilliant in their rainbow display. After touching the unsharpened ends of a few pencils, he continues after Allison.

He finds her looking at brushes, which are much less interesting than the pencils, so he drifts down the aisle to the tubes of paint. When she joins him, he asks, “Did you ever paint that sunset on Lake Michigan?”

“Yes. It came out well. You're in it.”

“I am?”

“It's a picture of the four of us, that day we went to the lake.”

“I'd like to see that some time.”

“Would you like to come over tonight? Andy is away on a meet and I don't have any plans. I could give you a portrait of Claire. I did it with you in mind.” 

“Really? Sure, I'd like that.” He cannot believe his good luck. His heart has become swoopy again and he feels light inside. “Unless... Andy won't punch me again, will he?”

“Not if I have anything to do with it,” she says tartly. She selects three tubes of color and makes her way to the cash register. There is a foot high articulated wooden mannequin standing by the register and Rogan adjusts its limbs as Allison checks out. Her total startles him. He had no idea paints and brushes were so expensive.

Rogan holds the door for her again and they walk to the number three bus stop side by side.

Allison asks about his trip to Lou's. She hasn't heard about Ancient Doom at all, so he is still explaining when the bus arrives.

“That's wonderful you found a band.” 

“Thanks.” Feeling he has been talking about himself enough, Rogan asks, “What have you been up to?”

 “I'm taking art class in school this year, but I'll be going to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the fall. I've wanted to go there since I was a kid. And I'm taking a few classes at Shermer tech this summer.” She pauses. “I wish these headaches would go away.”

“From the car accident?” 

“Yeah. They are killer.” 

Allison pulls the cord to signal the next stop and they get off on the corner. She leads the way down a residential side street as they continue talking. When they arrive at her family's modest house, Rogan again feels the swoopy lightness at the idea of being utterly alone with Allison. He finds he doesn't care if Andy beats the s**t out of him, he doesn't care about being party to cheating. If he can woo Allison, he will. 

Allison guides him to her bedroom and he remembers the night long vigil that started all of this in the first place. Something happened that night, he can't explain what, but somehow it lit a fire in his heart, an unquenchable desire for Allison. Her complete trust in him, her beauty, her essence called to his soul that night.

While Rogan is contemplating this upheaval of his world, Allison is flipping through a portfolio. She finds what she is looking for and hands Rogan a delicate watercolor picture of Claire. Allison caught everything, the red hair, the button nose, the sprinkle of freckles, the shining brown eyes. 

“This is perfect, Allison.” That summer seems long ago, a time when everything seemed clear. He had Claire, Allison had Andy, everything fit together. Now life is messy and everything is out of place. He stands looking at Claire's portrait, but thinking about Allison. 

Allison has continued rummaging, now in a drawer of a desk, and comes up with some cardboard and a plastic sleeve. She gently takes the watercolor from Rogan and slips it in the sleeve with the cardboard, making a safe package of the picture. She hands it back, then beckons him to an easel in a corner by a window. 

“This is the one with all of us.” 

Rogan makes his way over to the easel, carefully setting the picture of Claire on top of the desk as he crosses the room. He comes to stand next to Allison and they both look at the watercolor of a pier at sunset with four indistinct figures leaning against a railing. 

“This one is you,” Allison says, and points to the figure on the end, which is slightly taller than the others. It is identical to the photo he has on his mantle. “And here is Claire.” She points to another figure, and before she can let her hand drop, Rogan gently takes her hand in his own. When she turns, he covers it with his other hand. Something passes between them when she meets his eyes. It is the same open, trusting, dreamy look she had in her eyes when he woke her at eight in the morning, that day so long ago. His heart roars like a dragon and he leans closer. 

Then she looks down and gently removes her hand from his, takes a step back.

Rogan's blood continues coursing hard. He has a new fire, a different fire in him now. He knows what he saw in her eyes. She feels something for him. She wants him the way he wants her. He steps back too, letting her have her space. He can wait. 

He looks at his watch and says, “I'd better go, if I want to catch the next bus.” He picks up the picture of Claire and makes his way to the living room. Allison follows, opening the front door for him. “Thanks for this,” he says, gesturing with the picture.

“You're welcome. I'm glad I was able to give it to you. It was meant for you.” 


© 2019 SweetNutmeg


Author's Note

SweetNutmeg
Thank you for reading. Any and all comments are welcome.

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Featured Review

Interestingly, seeing the paragraph cut the sentence off right after "...tuned in to Allison" makes it much easier to know that the subject of the sentence is a long phrasal noun and the verb is "to note." And I'm all in for physically using space and format to smoothen the reading process and enhance the experience.

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

3 Months Ago

Glad it makes more sense. Thanks for pointing out the confusing-ness.



Reviews

Interestingly, seeing the paragraph cut the sentence off right after "...tuned in to Allison" makes it much easier to know that the subject of the sentence is a long phrasal noun and the verb is "to note." And I'm all in for physically using space and format to smoothen the reading process and enhance the experience.

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

3 Months Ago

Glad it makes more sense. Thanks for pointing out the confusing-ness.
Maybe Rogan's romantic life is looking up? Allison confuses me a bit, but that's not unusuall.
"Let's make sure it works before getting excited" -- Rogan would surely have tested it out before buying.
Missing a word--"pours out and he just getting into"
Missing a word--"He tunes up, starts with The Trooper, by Iron Maiden."
"light to change, he sees Allison again" Is this a very small town? He sure seems to see her a lot. Perhaps she could happen upon him for a change.
Missing word--"he waits for her cross"

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

3 Months Ago

Thank you for your careful reading and helpful feedback. I attended to the small things you pointed .. read more
Another awesome chapter I really hope he gets the girl he deserves someone special like Allison. also glad he found a great deal on an amp for his guitar but sad to say his gig was canceled. When will he ever get a break? I always look forward to reading your chapters.

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

3 Months Ago

Thank you for reading so far into this story. I'm glad you enjoy it.
*inaudibly screams*

*ahem* Ok. Today is such a good day. One of my favorite artists premiered his new album and you uploaded a new chapter!

The story is moving forward in both Rogan's financial, professional, and personal life. I'm not a fan of Rogan not caring about cheating, but at least they didn't do it.

"Anger and despair twine together in his heart." This is so beautifully worded. I can almost, no, I DID feel it inside my own heart.

The description of the art supplies store is also on point. Exactly how I felt accompanying a friend to one for the first time.

Technical stuff: this is actually a very clean chapter. I didn't catch any typos. However,

1. The part of himself that seems to be tuned in to Allison notes that it is nowhere near the Artist's Guild, where he has run into her before.

I had to read this sentence a few times for my brain to register that the main verb of the sentence was "note."

2. “Thanks, just looking,” Rogan lies. This is the same guy who tried to sell him a bass amp for his guitar. He can do without that kind of help. He inspects the row of amps, checking for trademarks and models. As he is getting ready to give up, he sees the Blackstar combo. It's labeled as 60 watt, with one 12 inch speaker. They got that right at least. It's a bit battered, but appearance isn't his priority here. Having enough power is. He inspects more closely, finds the model number and looks it up on his phone. It has a lot of features. The many dials on top tell him what he needs to know about performance capabilities. This is definitely a gig-worthy piece of equipment. He looks at the price tag. $375. He checks his phone again. They obviously don't know what they've got here. That's an insanely low price. But maybe it is defective or broken. He knows they have a 10 day return policy on musical equipment. He tries picking it up. Heavy. He'll need some help getting this home.

This looks like it can be divided into two shorter paragraphs right before "This is definitely...," but that's just me.

Also, I'd write "60 watts," but then again, I'm apparently also a physics nerd.

3. He catches the salesman's eye and says, “I'd like to pay for this today and pick it up tomorrow. Can I do that?”

There are two spaces between "I'd" and "like."

4. Allison has continued rummaging, now in a drawer of a desk, and comes up with some cardboard and a plastic sleeve...

There are four spaces between "some" and "cardboard."

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wathanya.5KY3

3 Months Ago

The paragraph division is great, by the way!
SweetNutmeg

3 Months Ago

"The part of himself that is tuned in to Allison notes that..."

Is that better? Or do.. read more
Wathanya.5KY3

3 Months Ago

It looks better to me, but I already know the sentence. Maybe keep the slightly simpler way and see .. read more

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