An Extra Ticket
By M Earl Smith
Had I known there was even a slight possibility that I would have ended up at that stupid Taylor Swift concert, there is absolutely no way I would have purchased the tickets for my fourteen year old daughter. After all, the last thing I needed, as an attorney, was for my rendition of Trouble to go down in recorded history, thanks to the overzealous listening of a court reporter. Sadly, both of those things happened. It wasn’t my fault. I swear.
You see, Jewel is a good kid. A little spoiled, perhaps, but not in a manner that makes her contemporaries loathe her. She has always been the type to share her good fortune, and the tickets for the concert were no different. Although her mother and I had only planned on buying one ticket, Jewel managed to cajole and beg, finally to the point where I struck a barter with her: If she would pay for half the cost, her mother and I would pay for the rest, so that her friend, Grace, could go.
Grace, you see, is Jewel’s best friend. Grace also is a cancer survivor. When she was little, Grace was diagnosed with a rather large, if benign, brain tumor. The doctor’s felt that she had a wonderful long term prognosis, but seeing as the mass was causing persistent migraines, her doctors made the decision to have the mass removed. Given the cost, there was some worry that the procedure would never take place. However, our community really stepped up, and after a few months of fundraising, Grace went under the knife to have the mass removed.
The operation was successful, but not without cost. In order to clean out all of the mass, the doctors were forced to remove a section of Grace’s skull, leaving it out for a time so that they could monitor if the mass returned. That, of course, left a dent in the side of her head, and Gracie, then 13, was left to cope with the disfigurement.
Kids, of course, can be cruel, and there was no exception in Gracie’s case. However, Jewel, being who she is, soon became her protector. No, that’s not fair. She had been her protector long before that. Given Gracie’s upbringing (she was a child of poverty, despite the best of intentions from both of her parents, simple, hard working people,) she had always been the subject of scorn, especially as a kid in the same upper class prep school she shared with Jewel. Jewel, however, would have no part of it. Despite her slight moodiness (what teenager isn’t moody?), she was always a good hearted soul, willing to help and protect her friend. Secretly, I didn’t mind buying the ticket. However, what followed was a brilliant plot by two teenagers to corrupt an otherwise hard working attorney.
Jewel presented her half of the ticket money in short order, and her mother and I fulfilled our end of the bargain by purchasing it. As the concert date approached, Jewel was excited. On the day of the show, I prepared to take the girls down to the arena. However, fifteen minutes before we were to leave, Jewel came to me, downtrodden.
“Gracie can’t go, dad! Her doctor advised against it. He’s worried that if it gets too rowdy at the concert, she might get hit in the head, and it could cause damage!”
I looked at her, aghast. The extra ticket had cost us a ton of money, and I did not want to see it go to waste. “Let me call Dr. Jones, honey.” All Jewel could do was nod. Pulling out my phone, I found Dr. Jones, a classmate at Colgate, in my contacts. I dialed his number, and was mildly surprised when I got a busy signal. I tried two more times, with no luck. Jewel sighed, the well known sign of an exasperated teenager, and said the words that no father wants to hear.
“Dad, if we don’t go now, we’re never going to get in!”
I quickly ran down a list of Jewel’s friends, trying to decide whom could take the ticket. Sadly, most of the girls were out of town on a field trip. Her mother happened to be chaperoning the same trip. I was, of course, supposed to drive Jewel and Gracie up to meet their class after the trip. Begrudgingly, I knew what had to be done.
Taking the other ticket, I walked in silence towards the car. I was going to see Taylor Swift.
I was silent going towards the concert. It was a silence akin to that a death row inmate has before his execution. Jewel, on the other hand, was bubbled over with chit chat, first with me and, then, after seeing my downtrodden mood and one word responses, with whatever friend she could get on her phone.
We pulled up to the arena, and I sighed again. There was a steady stream of twelve to sixteen old girls, all filing their way anxiously into the huge stadium. Second row seats! Why did I decide to get second row seats? Being that close to the stage, the local news would spot me, and there was little doubt that I would be spotted by a friend, or a co worker, and the incessant mocking would begin! I looked around for a sympathetic face, and got a couple of knowing nods from poor drips like myself, who had been drug along for this pop-filled nightmare, but little else in the way of aid.
There was the obligatory stops for drinks and t-shirts, and we were off, descending into the rows of seats that would bring us closer to our goal. We were there plenty early. The band was doing their soundcheck, yet Ms. Swift was nowhere to be seen. I gritted my teeth and waited for the ordeal to be over.
About ten minutes before the show started, I noticed the seat next to me was still empty. I could not help but wonder why that was. Normally, someone with that good of seats to a megashow such as this did not arrive late, and they did not arrive solo. As I stared at the seat, pondering this quandary, Jewel tugged at my sleeve.
“Dad, how do the speakers work?”
Of course, what dad can resist the temptation of explaining such a technology to one of his offspring. I launched into a diatribe about amplification and cones and speaker materials. Although Jewel seemed attentive, I could not help but notice that, on occasion, she would glance around me. Finally, exasperated that my wonderful lecture was going all but ignored, I turned, almost bumped into…Gracie, who was, by all appearances, the holder of the mysterious ticket.
The two girls started giggling madly, while I stared, flabbergasted. What witchcraft was this? I stood for a moment, trying to figure out what was going on, before slowing turning to Jewel. I had my “dad” face on, demanding a serious explanation.
What she next warmed my heart. “Dad, you work so hard, and you’ve done nothing but think of Gracie and I. I know how much fundraising you did for her, And, well, I didn’t plan on winning an extra ticket on the radio, but when I did, mom took me down to the station, and we hatched this little plan…”
I felt Gracie hug me from behind, and what little of my frustration at being deceived that remained melted away. “And we knew you wouldn’t come if we just asked you. But we wanted you here. So we did this. We also changed the number in your phone for Dr. Jones because we knew if you talked to him, our plan would fall though.”
Wordless, I turned so that I could drape an arm across both of their shoulders. Hugging them close, I grinned, and I was ever-so-thankful for the house lights dropping, so that they couldn’t see the tears that may or may not have formed at the corner of my eye…
Oh, so how did I end up singing in court? Well, that was a simple story. It was the day day after the concert, and I must confess I enjoyed myself. Sure, some of Swift’s songs are stripped down bubbles of simplicity, but there was a little bit of depth to some of it as well. I couldn’t, in fact, get that Trouble song out of my head.
I was standing at the defense table, wordlessly going over some documents for a petty theft case I was defending, when the bailiff announced for everyone to rise. My thoughts elsewhere, I did not notice the judge enter, nor did I notice him instruct everyone to have a seat. Truth be told, I was still singing, and as a silence fell over the courtroom, and in the silence, I could be heard, singing: “I knew you were trouble when you walked in…”
The judge cleared his throat, and I jumped, turning to face him. My client, a young street punk who was, without a doubt, guilty, snickered, and the judge looked at me with the kind of wild eyed incredulity that I know I gave to Jewel and Gracie…
…needless to say, I lost the case. I did, however, learn two things. One, even moody teenagers are capable of great giving and empathy. And number two?
Catchy pop songs are catchy for a reason.
About the Author:
email@example.com Undergraduate/Submatriculant (English and History), The University of Pennsylvania
From works for children to the macabre, from academic research to sports journalism, and from opinion essays to the erotic, M. Earl Smith is a writer that seeks to stretch the boundaries of genre and style. A native of Southeast Tennessee, M. Earl moved to Ohio at nineteen and, with success, reinvented himself as a writer after parting ways with his wife of eleven years. After graduating from Chatfield College (with highest honors) in 2015, M. Earl became the first student from Chatfield to matriculate at an Ivy League institution when he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. The proud father of two wonderful children (Nicholas and Leah), M. Earl studies creative writing and history at UPenn. When he’s not studying, M. Earl splits time between Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Chattanooga, with road trips to New York City, Wichita, Kansas, and Northampton, Massachusetts in between.
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