The man with the briefcase and the dark suit walked briskly down the corridor of the hotel, keeping his eyes straight forward. He was there for one reason, one purpose, and this man was not easily distracted. This trait had helped him gain the position he currently held, along with the ruthless cunning that he possessed. He turned left, and then continued to room 13. He knocked, stepped back, and waited. There was the sound of clumsy movement, and then a gruff voice said, "What do you want?"
The man leaned closer to the door and replied in a crisp, cultured voice, "My name is Robert Maple, and I represent Steel Records Agency. May I please come in?"
"Yeah just a second," came the reply, and there was a flurry of movement behind the door. The man known as Maple knew exactly what Charlie was doing, or, more specifically, hiding, but this only comforted him. This is going to be like stealing from a child, he thought, and this wasn't just an expression. This man wasn't above taking from children. The door squeaked open, and the man got a glimpse into the decrepit room before he was ushered into it by the decrepit human being that inhabited it. Charlie sat down on the bed, but the man in the dark suit remained standing.
"Your band has caught the attention of our company recently," he said. "You especially are extremely talented. In short, we would like to have you and your band come down to the studio, and see what you can do. If you can live up to your reputation and what we've seen so far, there could be a record deal in it for you." The man smiled a thin smile, then continued, "We know you are already signed, but we feel that our company could be much more beneficial to you. There could be fame. Money. Parties. Everything a rock band dreams of, right?" Charlie's drug addled brain only caught one word of this, but that word was enough. Money. Money meant more of what he wanted, what he needed. Although Charlie could feel something was definitely wrong about this man in a black suit, he couldn't place it through the haze of his brain. Charlie slowly nodded his head yes, and that was all the man needed.
"I understand you have a gig in three days in Boston. The day after that, we will come by your hotel and pick you up at 10:00 in the morning. If you have any questions, here is my card, with my contact information." The man produced a laminated card from his briefcase, and handed it to Charlie, who pocketed it. He began to leave the room, but then turned and said, "Oh, and Charlie, we understand you have an addiction. There's no need to get too deeply into the topic, but just make sure it doesn't get in the way of your playing. It would be a shame to see a musician of your caliber brought down by something so... pointless." With this, the dark man strode out of the room and down the corridor, into the black limousine that waited outside. He never once looked back at the figure standing in the doorway, confused and now slightly scared.
Kristen strode down the street, tears still streaming down her face. She was headed toward the hotel, meaning to talk to Charlie herself, even if the other jackasses she called her bandmates wouldn't help her. As she turned the corner, she saw a man in a dark suit getting into a limousine, which drove away promptly. I wonder what a suit like him is doing at a shitty hotel like this, she thought, and then pushed it to the back of her mind. She had more important things to worry about, and as she strode towards the entrance of the hotel, her jaw set in a grim line. She wiped the tears off of her face and pushed her long brown hair out of her face. She was really quite beautiful, and it was obvious why the old Charlie had been attracted to her. That was in the past now. Now only two things held any attraction to Charlie, and Kristen was going to try to get rid of one of them.
As she neared room 13, she heard the familiar blare of Lamb of God's album Ashes of the Wake coming from behind the door. It was Charlie's favorite album, and it seemed to suit him perfectly, the brutal chaos representing Charlie while he was off-stage, the amazing precision representing Charlie's on-stage persona. Kristen drew in a deep breath, then rapped twice on the door. There was no answer. Kristen drew back and knocked again, more firmly this time. Still no answer, not even a sound to suggest that Charlie was in the room.
"Charlie, if you don't answer the door, I'm going to come in," she said, fishing the spare key out of her pocket. When there was still no answer, she put the key in the lock and turned it, opening the door. "HOLY SHIT! CHARLIE!" she screamed. Lying on the floor of the room was Charlie. He was covered in his own vomit and a discarded needle lay next to his left arm. On his chest lay a laminated card with the words Steel Records stamped across the top. Kristen rushed over to the figure on the ground, and she was reminded horribly of that night one year ago, that shape. She began to sob again. Soon, however, common sense replaced terror, and she went to the phone sitting on nightstand. She picked it up and hurriedly typed 911. She waited for the connection, nervously looking over her shoulder at the splayed out figure that was her friend and bandmate.
"This is 911, what is your emergency?" a maddeningly calm voice inquired, and Kristen frantically screamed into the phone, "My friend's lying unconscious on the floor of our hotel, I think he overdosed, we're in Room 13 of the Lowell Inn, I don't know if he's breathing! Send help, please, he can't die, OH GOD!!!" She had lost all control, and she hung up the phone. She forced herself to go over to the vomit covered body of her friend, and she stooped and checked his pulse. He was still alive. She didn't know CPR, didn't think she'd be able to attempt it even if she knew how. She instead curled up on the chair next to the bed and, her body wracked with enormous sobs, wait to find if her friend would live or die.