Phoenix Chapter Twelve: Up in Flames

Phoenix Chapter Twelve: Up in Flames

A Chapter by SweetNutmeg
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Up In Flames

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Chapter Twelve: Up in Flames


After getting his own amp to the warehouse and helping Buzz with his kit, it was almost one in the morning. He grabbed some Taco Bell on the way home. One more nice thing about having his own transportation. He put his guitar away and readied himself for bed. Tomorrow will be his day off, so he made sure the alarm on his phone was off before he turned out the light.


His phone dragged him out of a deep sleep filled with images of Allison. It stopped ringing, then started again. It's J.D. 


“Hello? J.D.? What time is it?”


J.D. had none of his usual brisk energy. He responded 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 brain was slow to catch up. “Umm, yeah, sure. Your car broke down?” 


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


“The police?” This was 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'll be there in a few.” What was J.D. doing at the county jail at five in the morning? 


Being released from jail, it turned 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 seemed like a very strange idea. Then Rogan remembered 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 walked 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 jammed, refusing to process.   


They climbed in and J.D. continued, “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. 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 said nothing. Lucy appeared in his mind. He was 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 were both silent as Rogan guided 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 didn’t think he would ever see J.D. again. Impulsively, he asked, "What facility are they sending you to?" 


"Davis County Health and Behavioral Center. Thanks, man." And he was 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 was 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 was 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 had never heard this tone from Buzz. He had never exhibited anger before, and it was quite scary. But Rogan wanted to know what was going on.


“Why are you out?”


“That lying scumbag 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 was 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 did trust J.D., though. Rogan did think J.D. told him the truth. But he just said, “OK, I'll be there at seven. Is that good?”


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


Buzz didn’t even say goodbye.


At Midas the next day, Rogan had 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 was wishful thinking, but he did believe J.D. He couldn’t imagine a person, any person, setting out to be a heroin junkie. Maybe it's Lucy. He had 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 did 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 triggered all kinds of memories. At least he had some control over his mind today, the memories weren't overwhelming him. He thought 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 sighed. We all have our own scars.


Rogan thought 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 couldn’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, was the new guy and didn't have what it took to hold a band together, to guide it. He was no leader. Nor did he think Roy is. It really looked like this was the end of Ancient Doom. 


After work, Rogan drove over to the warehouse. Roy's pickup was there already. As Rogan was locking up, Roy appeared, lugging his practice amp. Rogan hurried to give him a hand. 


“Hey, man, how's it going?” Roy asked.


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


They set down the amp so Roy could 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 lifted Roy's amp and stowed it in the back of the truck. 


“Well, I'll be seeing you,” Roy said as he slammed the tailgate and got out his keys.


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


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


Buzz turned away from the cords he was unplugging when he heard 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. Don't let him drag you in with some sob story.”


Rogan wondered 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 held out his hand and Rogan shook it. “You need help with your equipment?”


Together, they carried Rogan's stuff out to his truck. When it was all loaded and the door secured, Buzz gave Rogan a parting slap on the shoulder and they uttered empty goodbyes. Knowing he would probably never see Buzz again, his heart, already heavy, took a dive for his boots.


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




© 2021 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.

My Review

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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 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

1 Year Ago

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

1 Year 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 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

1 Year 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 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

1 Year 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

1 Year 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 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

1 Year Ago

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

1 Year 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

1 Year 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 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SweetNutmeg

1 Year Ago

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

1 Year Ago

Nice edits, critique partner!

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Phoenix Phoenix

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