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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Other · #1860058
Phoenix knows who called his spouse, and he is worried...
Phoenix looked at the clock.  It was 0630 in the morning when his spouse's cell phone rang in the other room.  Phoenix knew who it had to be.  Phoenix's spouse walked into his office a few minutes later telling him that Nick, a friend, had gotten hurt and needed to go to the emergency room.  Phoenix had been correct about who was calling.  Only Nick.  So what happened?  Nick had gotten angry at a comment on the radio and punched the windshield out of the bus he was living in.  That was the story.  Regardless of the story, however, Nick had sliced his hand and wrist up badly and needed to be stitched up.  He had not vehicles, so Phoenix's spouse had to give him a ride.

Some background on Nick might be appropriate here.  Nick is an over-the-road truck driver that has uncontrolled, unmedicated bipolar disorder, self-medicates by drinking when he is not driving, and gambles away every cent he earns.  His home is his truck, he has been on the road for 110 days straight, and he has nothing outside his job to look forward to.  A few weeks ago, he had a traffic accident.  Despite the fact that it was not his fault, company policy is to deduct a given number of safety points from his license.  Nick was overly angry about it, in a rage in fact, and gave the company his two-week notice.  He ranted to the dispatcher about his circumstances and she got him a few days off.  It was during these few days off that Nick decided to take back his two-week notice and stay with the company.

Phoenix's spouse returned home after getting Nick admitted to be seen at the hospital, saying that he had his hand wrapped in a shop towel with duct tape around it, which they had to cut off.  Nick had been bleeding profusely, and told Phoenix's spouse that he had been thinking about killing himself, but he could not do it because he was raised Catholic and Catholics believe that if you commit suicide, you go to Hell.  Phoenix was convinced that Nick needed to be in the psychiatric inpatient ward and get on some medication.  He hoped the hospital would evaluate him properly and send him there.  Instead, Phoenix's spouse got a call to come and pick Nick up because they could not stitch him up until Monday.  What?!  All they prescribed him were antibiotics to take in the meantime.  Phoenix was worried about Nick.  Those wounds were self-inflicted by a desperate, self-destructive man and they were just going to kick him out with the hope that he would come back Monday and get stitched up, only to go and be alone with his booze and his loneliness again.  Phoenix's spouse said that Nick stunk, too.  Not good.  Nick just was not taking care of himself.

Aside from Nick, the other thing that Phoenix had to worry about was the stairwell enclosure.  His spouse had been working on it before Nick needed a ride back from the hospital, so there were tools everywhere outside that Phoenix had to check on to make sure they did not get stolen by someone.  Phoenix and his spouse were out of money to buy materials with for the enclosure and Phoenix's mother had asked about it the night before when he had called to say hello.  Phoenix told her that they had gone $50 over the $250 that Phoenix's brother had given them.  The next call Phoenix received, almost immediately after hanging up with his mother, was his brother.  His brother said that next time they went for materials, he would pay for it with his debit card and not to worry about it.  That seemed odd to Phoenix.  His spouse had said that, when his brother had forked over the original $250, he had an entire envelope full of money for the project in his hand.  Where had that enveloped of money gone?  Phoenix knew something was wrong, but said nothing.

Today, though, Phoenix had called to say hello to his parents and they asked right away if his brother had given them more money for the materials.  Phoenix told them about the phone call the night before and they decided about 30 minutes later to come into the city to buy the materials.  Phoenix's mother told him to have his brother meet them at the lumber yard.  Phoenix was confused, but went along with it, telling his brother that he needed to meet them there.  About an hour later, Phoenix's spouse still was not back, and his parents and brother had put the materials they purchased in Phoenix's garage.  Phoenix's brother, after his parents left, came down to the basement to explain to him where the money went.  Phoenix knew then what had happened.  His parents had come and bought the materials because Phoenix's brother had spent the money that they had given him for the project on something else.  He could imagine that his parents were not please with this, and this was the reason Phoenix's brother was tripping over his tongue trying to explain what was going on.  Phoenix had, again, gotten caught in the middle of the family business, despite his overt attempts not to.  Phoenix found himself exhausted by the knowledge of what had happened, because it was so typical and because it was so upsetting.  The family dynamic was one that Phoenix desperately wished he could change.  He wished he could make his brother more responsible.  He wished he could make his parents more aware that they did not have to bail his brother out all the time.  He wished that his whole family could just get along peacefully without the strife and the stress.  He loved them, he did.  They did sap his strength, though.

The good part of the whole family bit, though, was that Phoenix's parents must have told his brother to help with the project, because his brother helped all afternoon with sheeting the enclosure.  That was unheard of, so it had to have come from their parents.  Phoenix was tired.  He had played his guitar all morning, which he thoroughly enjoyed, while watching the tools outside until his spouse got the Nick situation under control.  Then his brother helped with the project in the afternoon, so it worked out that they got both walls sheeted.  Had it not been the type of day it had been, they might have gotten the windows in, too, but that was saved for another day when the weather warmed up and the chaos died down.
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