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The Passenger

Jacqueline Druga

Copyright © 2021 Jacqueline Druga

All rights reserved

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Special thanks for all your help to the dream team, Paula G, Connie, Wendi and Kira

To my son, Noah. You're always my muse.

The Passenger

Jacqueline Druga


It was a good crowd and had remained that way throughout most of the show. The venue was small, and the lively group of individuals made the place look packed.

The size of the crowd surprised Jonas Truett, considering the no-name bar was located on a back road in the middle of nowhere.

How they got the gig was a fluke. The owner caught their video online. The basement studio recording of Jonas and the guys covering a seventies’ tune had less than three hundred views. Yet, the owner saw it, loved it and invited them to play. Live music was a dying art. Jonas had been playing guitar since he was a teenager. Having the chance for their full band to play, instead of doing just some acoustic act, was an opportunity they didn’t want to pass up. Even if it was two-hundred miles from home.

Surprisingly, the show for the most part was a success.

The loud cheering and screaming had Jonas Truett feeling like a rock star when he broke into his guitar solo, the second to last song of the third set.

Then the fight broke out.

Some local guy wound up tight, calling Jonas some hot shot making moves on his girl.

Jonas could have let it go. Nodded it off with a, “Yeah, yeah, man, whatever.”

But Jonas was a hot head and anger begets anger.

Words were thrown with chest to chest pushes, and Jonas took a hard right to his cheek before the fight was stopped.

The local guy calmed and offered he and Jonas do the grade school, ‘shake hands and make up’ thing.

Jonas refused, insisting the guy be removed.

This didn’t help Jonas’ mood though. That guy got the first and last punch, and Jonas felt like a tool. Fueling a pouting, stomping behavior Jonas often demonstrated when he got ticked off.

He wished he could blame his reaction on copious amounts of alcohol, typically it was to blame and made it worse. But Jonas stopped drinking hours earlier. Not because he wanted to, but because the hotel was ten miles away and he had to drive some winding road just to get to the highway.

Being drunk in unfamiliar territory wasn’t a good idea. However, a six pack to go was.

The fight took the wind out of the band’s sail, bringing the fervor down several notches, especially when the crowd trickled away during their last set.

The end of the night couldn’t come fast enough for Jonas.

Finally, it did. The bar was empty except for a few stragglers who probably closed the place every night.

The band members just wanted to leave, come back and tear down the big stuff the next day. However, Jonas didn’t want to leave his gear behind.

Brett, the drummer stood on the stage, finishing the last of his beer, and grabbed his stick bag. “You want me to wait for you?”

Jonas wrapped his cords. He rolled them in neat loops so they wouldn’t get tangled, then set them inside the small, canvas gym bag. “Nah, I’m good, thanks,” Jonas replied. “If I don’t see you tonight. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Sounds good.” Brett took a step off the edge of the stage and stopped. “Whoa, hey …” He bent down and lifted something from the floor. “Is this your phone?” He held it up.

Jonas glanced over with a slight squint. “Yeah. Was it on the floor?”

“Yep. Probably knocked off in the fight.” He extended it to Jonas.

“Tell me before I look, is the screen broken?”

Brett examined the phone. “Nope. But you have four missed texts from your mom.”

“I saw them, I just didn’t open them. Thanks.” Jonas grumbled and took the phone. He gazed down at the phone, still not opening the messages. He didn’t need to. They were short texts. The last one probably came in during the fight.

Hey, let me know you got there okay.

Have a good show, love you.

Are you okay?

Please let me know you’re okay.

After putting his phone in the front pocket of his gear bag, Jonas pulled a cloth from his open case and lifted his guitar from the stand. He should have put it away first. He didn’t, he wasn’t thinking as clearly as he should have. He still stewed about the events of the night, how things went from a mega high to a bad low.

He loved his guitar and lifted it with care. The design on the body of the custom made instrument looked like cheese curls. Jonas was inspired when he saw one that looked like ramen noodles. The guitar stood out and it sounded great. It didn’t look quite as awesome when it was smudged, so Jonas polished the finish after every gig, before putting it back in his case.

“Hey,” a male voice called out to him.

Jonas turned and his eyes cast down to the glass placed on the corner of his amp. A shot’s worth of dark liquid in the rocks glass. “Don’t put that there.” He told the man.

“It’s for you.”

“Nah, thanks, though.”

“Come on,” the guy said. “A peace offering. Sorry my friend decked you.”

“I’ll pass, but thanks.”

“Don’t be a jerk.”

Only because Jonas didn’t want to get into another confrontation, he took the drink. It was just a shot, and Jonas’ tolerance to alcohol was pretty good. That shot wouldn’t do anything. He lifted it to the guy, “Appreciate it,” Jonas said,

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