Phoenix Chapter Twelve: Up in Flames

Phoenix Chapter Twelve: Up in Flames

A Chapter by SweetNutmeg

Chapter Twelve: Up in Flames

After getting his own amp to the warehouse and helping Buzz with his kit, it is almost one in the morning. He grabs some Taco Bell on the way home. One more nice thing about having his own transportation. He puts his guitar away and readies himself for bed. Tomorrow is his day off, so he makes sure the alarm on his phone is off before he turns out the light.

His phone drags him out of a deep sleep filled with images of Allison. It stops ringing, then starts again. It's J.D. 

“Hello? J.D.? What time is it?”

J.D. has none of his usual brisk energy. He responds in a dull voice, “It's almost five.” 

“What's up, man? Are you OK?”

“I need a ride. You think you could give me a ride home?”

Rogan's sleepy brain is slow to catch up. “Umm, yeah, sure. Your car broke down?” 

“Not exactly. It's been impounded by the police.” 

“The police?” Sleep fog refuses to lift. This is making no sense. “Impounded?” 

“I can explain when you pick me up. I'm at 673 Hazard Street, the county jail. You know, by the KFC.” 

“OK, I guess. I'll be there in a few.” What is J.D. doing at the county jail at five in the morning? 

Being released from jail, it turns out. 

“Thanks for coming for me. I got pulled for a burnt out tail light and they searched my car and found... well, they found some drugs. Arrested me. Let me out on my own recognizance, but I needed a ride. Buzz hung up on me. I didn't have anyone else to call.” 

“Drugs?” J.D. owning drugs seems like a very strange idea. Then Rogan remembers J.D. and Roy passing that joint. “Oh, that weed you guys were smoking? Bummer, man. But that's not too serious, is it?” They walk down to Rogan's truck. 

"It was heroin. Way more serious than being found with a joint. I'm in deep s**t.”

“Heroin?” Rogan's mind jams, refusing to process.   

They climb in and J.D. continues, “F**k, I don't even know how I ended up here. I'm not a junkie. I just... it was those damn pills they gave me after I had my appendix removed. They, the pills, I don't know, made everything cool down. I never felt more relaxed in my life. Then I ran out, no more refills on my scrip. So I was talking to this guy at work and he said he could get me some. I meant to keep them for emergencies. Just when I really needed a chill pill. But it seemed like I needed them more and more, and this guy, he just kept getting me more. Then he said heroin was way cheaper and he could get me some of that, too. I was only snorting it. F**k, man, I don't even know. He was just this guy I worked with, not some gangster. It was sneaky. It crept up on me. Now look where I am. Probation, rehab, community service, fines, court costs, car impounded. I'll lose my job. Buzz won't speak to me again. I don't have enough in savings to cover my rent while I'm in rehab for three months with no income. I am well and truly fucked." 

Rogan says nothing. Lucy appears in his mind. He is tortured by the thought, how she might have had a second chance, gone to rehab, ended up alive instead of dead. If someone had intervened. But no one had. They are both silent as Rogan guides his truck through the deserted streets. 

"It's right here, on the corner. Thanks for the ride. I guess I'll see you around." 

But Rogan doesn't think he will ever see J.D. again. Impulsively, he asks, "What facility are they sending you to?" 

"Davis County Health and Behavioral Center. Thanks, man." And he is out of the truck and on his way up the front stairs of the grimy brick apartment building on the corner.

Three hours later, at 8:30, Rogan is woken again by his phone. It's Buzz.

“Hey man, what's up?”

“There's no practice tomorrow night, but you're going to have to meet me at the warehouse. Get your amp.”

“Get my amp?” All these strange conversations when he's groggy with sleep. 

“Yeah, I'm out of the band and you guys will have to find somewhere else to practice.”

“Out of the band?”

“What did I just say? I'm out.” Rogan has never heard this tone from Buzz. He has never exhibited anger before, and it's quite scary. But Rogan wants to know what's going on.

“Why are you out?”

“That lying scum bag J.D. got busted for heroin.” 

“Yes, I know about the heroin. He didn't seem to be lying to me, though.”

“Junkies never tell the truth, they're all scum.” 

“Maybe he just made a mistake. People make mistakes.”

“So he's got to you. You feel sympathy?” Buzz's voice is getting even more cold and final. “Do yourself a favor and forget him. Junkies are nothing but trouble, lying, cheating, stealing. Don't trust him.”

Rogan does trust J.D., though. Rogan does think J.D. told him the truth. But Buzz doesn't want to hear that, so he just says, “OK, I'll be there at seven. Is that good?”

“Yeah, that's good. I'll see you there.” 

Buzz doesn't even say goodbye.

At Midas the next day, Rogan has a hard time concentrating on his work. Buzz said all junkies lie. But J.D. said he wasn't really a junkie. He made it all sound like an accident. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but he does believe J.D. He can't imagine a person, any person, setting out to be a heroin junkie. Maybe it's Lucy. He's always thought, all she wanted was to be happy and forget painful things. She wasn't a bad person.

Buzz would have just said she was a meth head and had no good in her. Rogan really does see how things could seem that way to Buzz. Lucy was unstable, hurting him with her anger and meanness when she was coming down. But he knew she loved him. He always felt that.

Thinking about Lucy triggers all kinds of memories. At least he has some control over his mind today, the memories aren't overwhelming him. He thinks back to life before she started meth. She was a good person. She loved him and protected him from their father as much as she could. More than his mother ever had. She was the safe place in his life. Until the meth. 

Buzz, though, never saw any good in his mother's old man. Her boyfriend was a purely negative person, hurting his mother over and over, no redeeming qualities. He sighs. We all have our own scars.

Rogan thinks of Roy. What he said about his mother wanting to know he was ok, happy and healthy. That sounded so normal, but normal was foreign to Rogan. What must it be like to have a stable family, a mother who loved you, good people to watch over you in your childhood? Rogan can't imagine. It was always Lucy and him against the world, and then it was just him as she left him behind, all alone.

This band, Ancient Doom, had felt like home, a safe place, a place where he could be himself. And now it seemed to be falling apart. J.D. gone, Buzz so cold, and who knows about Roy. Buzz and J.D. held them together. He, Rogan, is the new guy and doesn't have what it takes to hold a band together, to guide it. He is no leader. Nor does he think Roy is. It really looks like this is the end of Ancient Doom. 

After work, Rogan drives over to the warehouse. Roy's pickup is there already. As Rogan is locking up, Roy appears, lugging his practice amp. Rogan hurries to give him a hand. 

“Hey, man, how's it going?” Roy asks.

“Not so great, I guess. You talked to Buzz?”

They set down the amp so Roy can let down the tailgate of his truck. 

“Yeah, but I don't get it. J.D., doing heroin? It doesn't seem real. I thought he was a good guy. He seemed ok.”

“I think he still is a good guy. But Buzz doesn't want to hear that.” 

“With no J.D. and no Buzz, I guess we're done, as a band.” 

“I guess so.” Together they lift Roy's amp and stow it in the back of the truck. 

“Well, I'll be seeing you,” Roy says as he slams the tailgate and gets out his keys.

“Yeah, see you around.” And Rogan thinks, There is one more person out of my life. 

Rogan doesn't want to see Buzz. All that anger and blame, no kindness. It's like he has turned into a different person. But he needs to get his amp. Not knowing what to expect, he goes down the alley and mounts the steps for the last time. The door is propped open. Buzz's drum kit is gone, leaving a huge empty space. His amp and J.D.'s amp are still there, with their paraphernalia, looking desolate. 

Buzz turns away from the cords he's unplugging when he hears Rogan enter.

“Hey, man, I want to apologize for being so angry yesterday morning. None of this Is your fault.”

“That's OK. This is all very surprising. It certainly caught me off guard.” 

“I'll give you some advice, though. I know junkies. Stay away from J.D. Heroin addicts are nothing but trouble. He'll get you feeling sorry for him, and then use you and hurt you. Junkies, they use your good impulses against you to get what they want. They are s**t. Don't let him drag you in with some sob story.”

Rogan wonders about this. Was that a sob story J.D. told him? Or the truth? It sounded real, it sounded believable. And J.D. had never used him or hurt him, and he'd been doing heroin and downers for over a year. Since before Rogan met him. 

“I gotta say, I disagree with you, Buzz. J.D. hasn't suddenly changed. He's been on junk since I first met him and he's always been a good guy to me. Never done any of those things, never done me wrong.” 

“Well, have it your way. I've done all I can to warn you and you're going to do what you're going to do. I don't have any hard feelings towards you. I know you're a good person.” Buzz holds out his hand and Rogan shakes it. “You need help with your equipment?”

Together, they carry Rogan's stuff out to his truck. When it is all loaded and the door secured, Buzz gives Rogan a parting slap on the shoulder and they utter empty good byes. Knowing he'll probably never see Buzz again, his heart, already heavy, takes a dive for his boots.

Rogan's world falls back into the flat routine of pre-Ancient Doom life. He still practices on his guitar when Leo is at work, but just to keep his hands busy. One night his G string breaks in the middle of The Trooper. He has no idea how that happened. He hadn't done anything wrong, it just broke. It seems so in keeping with his life, he sits down on the edge of his bed, head in his hands, and is overcome with misery.  


© 2019 SweetNutmeg


Author's Note

SweetNutmeg
Thank you for reading. Any comments are welcome and much appreciated, as always.

EDIT: added last paragraph, small wording changes.

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Featured Review

Rogan's new family broke down. :(

Drugs and drug abuse are such hard topics to talk about. I don't think J.D. told a sob story either, but Buzz can't be convinced. Rogan's feelings were captured so perfectly in this sentence: Knowing he'll probably never see Buzz again, his heart, already heavy, takes a dive for his boots. It's been a long time since he's felt this bad.

I caught one format and one technical mistake:

1. He can't imagine a person, any person, setting out to be a heroin junkie.

There's an extra space between "imagine" and "a."

2. When it is all loaded and the door secured, Buzz gives Rogan a parting slap on the shoulder and they utter empty good byes.

I think you meant "empty goodbyes" or "empty good-byes." Seems like either is fine.

I'm sorry I can't offer much insight into this chapter. Today has been kind of blue for me.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

3 Months Ago

Thank you for reading and reviewing. You know I always appreciate your responses. Thanks for the nit.. read more
Wathanya.5KY3

3 Months Ago

Nice edits, critique partner!



Reviews

The misery intensifies with the addition of the last paragraph. Gorgeous.

By the way, I also recently had to replace my G string.
Coincidence? Probably. Illuminati? No, but fun to think about.

Can't wait to read what happens next!

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

3 Months Ago

Thanks for the input! I'm glad it worked for you.
I'm back! With my sidekick, Morning Coffee! And seems you've made a few small changes.

Upon reading more carefully, I "caught" a few more things:

1. "...Buzz hung up on me. I didn't have anyone else to call.”

These two sentences were punished by the Lord of Formatting. They are half the size of everything else.

2. After they climb into the Tacoma, J.D. continues, “F**k, I don't even know how I ended up here. I'm not a junkie. I just... it was those damn pills they gave me after I had my appendix removed. They, the pills, I don't know, made everything cool down. I never felt more relaxed in my life. Then I ran out, no more refills on my scrip. So I was talking to this guy at work and he said he could get me some. I meant to keep them for emergencies. Just when I really needed a chill pill. But it seemed like I needed them more and more, and this guy, he just kept getting me more. Then he said heroin was way cheaper and he could get me some of that, too. I was only snorting it. F**k, man, I don't even know. He was just this guy I worked with, not some gangster. It was sneaky. It crept up on me. Now look where I am. Probation, rehab, community service, fines, court costs, car impounded. I'll lose my job. Buzz won't speak to me again. I don't have enough in savings to cover my rent while I'm in rehab for three months with no income. I am well and truly fucked."

Stylistic: this is a lot to take in from one sentence. It looks like it can be divided into two or three smaller paragraphs.

3. The double space between "imagine" and "a" that I mentioned earlier is still there.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

3 Months Ago

I appreciate you mentioning that wall of text with JD's monologue. I'm really torn about it. I agree.. read more
Wathanya.5KY3

3 Months Ago

I’d be torn too. On the one hand, it’s a monologue, and leaving it that way accentuates that. On.. read more
I'm not sure this needs its own line. --"Being released from jail, it turns out." Also, you might consider adding a few words to move Rogan from talking to JD on the phone to having already bailed him out. Proceeding on, the two have a conversation, but I don't know where it's taking place. Are they still at the jail? In Rogan's little truck?
Comma after me--"lying to me though.”
Comma after together-"Together they carry..."
Drug and alcohol abuse is baaaaaad. Hopefully, things will not work out to be as terrible as they seem at this point. A good chapter, easy to read and understand.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

3 Months Ago

Thanks for answering so quickly! You are ever helpful and I really appreciate it. I appreciate your .. read more
Samuel Dickens

3 Months Ago

I did a quick read. The last paragraph is good. Those darned G strings really do like to break--it a.. read more
SweetNutmeg

3 Months Ago

Thanks for the quick read. You know I always value your opinion and appreciate your time and effort... read more
Rogan's new family broke down. :(

Drugs and drug abuse are such hard topics to talk about. I don't think J.D. told a sob story either, but Buzz can't be convinced. Rogan's feelings were captured so perfectly in this sentence: Knowing he'll probably never see Buzz again, his heart, already heavy, takes a dive for his boots. It's been a long time since he's felt this bad.

I caught one format and one technical mistake:

1. He can't imagine a person, any person, setting out to be a heroin junkie.

There's an extra space between "imagine" and "a."

2. When it is all loaded and the door secured, Buzz gives Rogan a parting slap on the shoulder and they utter empty good byes.

I think you meant "empty goodbyes" or "empty good-byes." Seems like either is fine.

I'm sorry I can't offer much insight into this chapter. Today has been kind of blue for me.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 3 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

3 Months Ago

Thank you for reading and reviewing. You know I always appreciate your responses. Thanks for the nit.. read more
Wathanya.5KY3

3 Months Ago

Nice edits, critique partner!

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Added on August 28, 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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