A Short Story
B. B. Wright
“It’s not like them,” I said, perturbed by their tardiness. I sank into my jacket like a tortoise into its shell. “It’s so freaking cold my face feels like one huge boil.”
“Huh?” Mark replied, embracing himself and flapping his hands against his shoulders and stamping his feet to keep warm.
I shook my head and turned away. “Ah…forget it.”
“You should have dressed warmer,” he retorted, restlessly surveying the mass of people who filtered through the Massey Hall doors opposite us on Shuter Street. “Anyway, whose smart idea was it not to pick up our tickets when we had a chance?”
My mouth swung open about to propel words I knew I would regret but I thought better of it. Quietly I counted to ten. And, then, took in a few deep breaths. Slowly, I bit off my next words through my snout encrusted moustache. “We did, Mark.”
Somewhat flummoxed by what I had just said, his eyes shifted upwards as he massaged his chin in a thoughtful pose. “Uh-huh! I guess you’re right. Well, kinda right. But, only because you convinced me.”
“I con con-vinced you?” If I could have wiped off his silly smug expression right then and there I would have done it, but I was too damn cold. “Con-vinced you! How?” My enunciation was somewhat hampered by a mouthful of chattering teeth.
“Jeanne,” he blurted out.
“Oooo mysterious benefactor,” he replied, air quoting his remark with his fingers. “If I’m recollecting correctly, it had something or other to do with her dad knowing someone and obtaining free tickets.” His right eyebrow shot up. “So who was it? Someone he knew at The Telegram?” He drew closer and peered down at me. “She does have them? Her father did get them? We’re not standing here on a maybe? Are we?”
“No.” I insisted. “She’s got them.” I could feel the seams in my jacket pockets begin to give way as I forced my hands in further.
He thrust his wrist watch in front of my face. “She’s half an hour late. The concert begins in less than ten minutes.”
“I know. I know. Get your arm out of my face,” I demanded, pushing it away.
I, too, was concerned but more for selfish reasons than for their safety and wellbeing. I should have felt a twinge or even a prick of guilt but I didn’t. The forlorn expression on Mark’s face mirrored how I felt at that moment. Tonight was a big deal. Neil Young was doing a live performance. It was being recorded for his upcoming album. And, here we were. Without tickets. Freezing our buns off.
Our eyes shifted to the doors opposite as another set of patrons entered. Some sort of strange sounding chant began to erupt from Mark’s lips. I surmised he was praying for a miracle. Whatever he hoped to achieve worked. The center doors suddenly swung open, Jeanne holding one, Jill the other. Jeanne waved the tickets high in the air while Jill motioned for us to join them.
Stunned, Mark and I stared at each other in astonishment.
“Well! Are you coming or not?” Jill yelled out.
Heedless to traffic, we quickly joined them.
Still dumbfounded by what had just happened, neither Mark nor I pressed for an explanation or an apology. Our time was at a premium. We followed the girls to our seats in the orchestra section. Middle seats, third row, right in front of the stage. At that point, even if I had wanted to say something, I could not have. Simply put, I was speechless.
We had barely taken our seats when a gentleman in the seat in front of us stood up and turned around with an outstretched hand.
Jeanne introduced both Mark and I as we shook hands.
“Don’t be too hard on the girls,” Scott Young said, addressing both Mark and I. “It was my fault or rather my son, Neil’s fault. We got caught up backstage learning about tonight’s performance; we lost all sense of time. So apologies all round. Jeanne, I still hope you and your friends will be joining Neil and I for supper after the show?”
Jeanne was about to reply, when, in unison, Mark and I rejoined: “We sure will.”
Scott Young smiled and regained his seat as his son, Neil, took to center stage.
I took Jeanne’s hand and we settled in to what we knew would be a great concert and an unforgettable evening.