“I hate you!” Taylah burst out, glaring at her father.
“Do you?” Dan responded mildly.
“Yes! All my friends are going. I’m the only one not allowed!”
“I somehow doubt that,” he said drily.
She stared at him mutinously.
“I feel like running away!”
“Okay, but I should tell you, your friend Kylie kept doing that, her mum couldn’t cope, and she’s now a ward of the state.”
She was silent, then, “Why won’t you let me go? Mum would have let me.”
“I’m not your Mum, you’re with me this month, and last time they had a concert, a riot broke out, several people got hurt,” he pointed out.
“Dad, they’ve had lots of concerts. That was the only one where there was trouble.”
“Mm, still, you’re very precious to me, I don’t want to take the chance…”
“Dad, you can’t protect me from something random. I could get hit by a bus going to school.”
“I suppose. Tell you what. How about I go with you?”
“What? You’re joking!”
“So, you’d rather miss out on seeing Cacophony whatever it is because you’re ashamed to be seen with your Dad?”
He was amused.
“So which is it?”
She was silent, then, “Can you really get tickets, do you think?”
“I can try.”
“Which okay is that? You want me to try and get tickets for the two of us?”
“Alright then. I’ll see what I can do.”
Taylah got up, and left without another word. He watched her go with a wry smile. He would buy some very good earplugs. He thought it a good compromise. His mate Brad had contacts in the music scene. Maybe he could get him some tickets.
“Are you kidding me?” Brad asked incredulously when he rang him later in the day.
“You wanna go to a Cacophony 21 concert?”
“Well, not by choice, but yes.”
“Mate, even I think it’s just electronic noise, and I’m much tolerant than you when it comes to what passes for music in the twenty-first century.”
“Yeah, but I don’t want Taylah to go by herself, or worse, with her friends. This is a compromise. I’m going to get the best noise-cancelling earplugs money can buy.”
“Alright. I’ll see what I can do.”
Two days later, Brad rang him back.
“I’ve just emailed you two tickets. You owe me big time.”
“Thanks, Brad. I do.”
“Maybe you’d better wait till after the concert before you thank me!”
He was gone. Taylah was still at school. He would surprise her when she came home. He worked from home as a graphic artist and had finished a project for a client.
She arrived just after four and wandered into the kitchen where she dumped her bag on the floor. He was just making a coffee and sat down at the bench.
“Hello. Guess what,” he said.
“Got those tickets you wanted.”
“Oh,” she said unenthusiastically.
“You changed your mind about going? Or is it because I’m going too?”
“I told Laura, she told her mother, and now she’s decided it’s a good idea, so she’s going instead of Adam. So Laura’s pissed at me.”
“Who’s Laura and who’s Adam?”
“Don’t you remember anything? I told you once before. Laura’s my best friend. Adam’s sort of her boyfriend.”
“Yes. Oh. So, no, I really don’t know if I want to go anymore.”
Dan had had enough.
“Fine. I’ll sell the tickets. I may even make a profit from them.”
“It’s illegal! It’s called scalping.”
“Why do you care? You don’t want to go.”
“Well, maybe I do.”
“I wish you’d make up your mind.”
“Alright. We can go.”
“Well, I don’t want you to inconvenience yourself,” her father said sarcastically.
“Just one thing,” she said. “Can we go in separately?”
Dan took a deep breath, then decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. So he said, “Sure.”
“Thanks, Dad!” she said, picked up her bag, and went off to her room.
The concert was on the following Saturday night. That morning, Taylah got a call from Laura, who had gotten over her totally unjustified peeve, and now wanted a favour. Laura walked into Dan’s home office, where he was busy working on a project for a new client.
“Dad?” she asked hesitantly, “Is it ok if you pick Laura and her mum up on the way? She’s a bit worried about parking at the venue.”
“Sure,” he said absently.
“Great! Hear that Laura? We’ll pick you up. I’ll ring you later with the time. See you then. Bye.”
She put her phone in her pocket and said, “Thanks, Dad.”
He nodded, concentrating on the job in front of him. It was later that afternoon. He had done as much work as he could for his client. Earlier in the week, he’d bought some top quality noise-cancelling earplugs. Taylah reminded him they had to leave earlier to detour to pick up the others.
As an afterthought, he asked why Laura’s father couldn’t have taken them. She relayed Laura’s explicit response to any queries about her father.
“If he was around, which he isn’t, I wouldn’t ask him for anything even if he was the last man on earth.”
It sounded rather definite to him. He didn’t ask any more questions.
He ordered a pizza for an early dinner, then they set off. Taylah had sent Laura a message indicating what time they would pick them up. They lived only a few kilometres away. It was a modern home in a newly developed suburb.
Taylah went inside and came out with a short blonde girl. But it was her mother who caused Dan to draw a sharp breath of appreciation. She too was blonde, but tall, very attractive in tight jeans, mauve top and black jacket. The two girls immediately got into the back. Dan hopped out and went around and opened the passenger door.
“Hi,” he said, extending his hand.
She smiled, and said,” Hello. I’m Catherine. It’s very kind of you to give us a lift.”
“No problem,” he said, as she sat down. He closed the door, walked back around the car and got in. As they drove off, he caught a whiff of her perfume. It wasn’t anything Marion had ever worn that he could remember.
“Looking forward to the concert?” he asked with a smile.
“Of course. Aren’t you?”
He nodded and patted his pocket.
“I’ve got the best noise-cancelling earplugs money can buy.”
She laughed delightedly, and exclaimed, “Me too!”
“What a waste,” Taylah said in a disgusted tone.
“You should have given the tickets to people who would have appreciated and enjoyed the music.”
Dan and Catherine exchanged amused looks, then he said, “Tell you what. Why don’t we swap one ticket each? You two can sit together. Catherine and I will sit separately from you where we won’t embarrass you.”
“Yes!” the two girls whooped together.
So they did. The tickets Brad had secured were up the front, Catherine’s near the back. The girls, beside themselves, naturally took the front, and, were given strict instructions to contact their parents in the event of anything happening, and to meet at the end of the concert. They rushed off without a backward glance.
“So much for your idea about keeping an eye on them,” Catherine remarked.
“Yes,” Dan agreed, “But I think they should be ok. Lots of security around.”
As they made their way to their seats, she said with a mischievous smile, “I don’t suppose you had other, maybe ulterior motives for swapping seats, did you?”
He looked at her with mock surprise.
“How could you even think that? I was looking forward to spending quality time with my daughter, earplugs notwithstanding.”
“And so why aren’t you?”
“Umm, I think I may have got a bit distracted.”
As they were shown to their seats and sat down, she looked at him thoughtfully, and said, “I’ve been called lots of things. I’m not sure distraction has been one of them.”
He looked into her eyes, and said, “I can think of lots of things to call you too, but I might leave them for a more appropriate time.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” she replied.
The noise around them rose to a crescendo as some members of the band appeared on stage. Surreptitiously, both pulled out their earplugs and inserted them, earning wondering looks from the young people around them. But they were soon forgotten as the band began to play. The music, if that was what it was and the screaming that accompanied it, was hideously and horrendously loud. But for two people, not too much of it registered. Occasionally, their hands touched, their fingers interlaced, and they were cocooned in a world of their own.
In the years that followed, they were often to recall, with amusement, their first meeting at a concert where a band called Cacophony 21 performed, a band nobody remembered and they didn’t hear.