The Mystery Scalper

It was Dave's birthday. I had recently cut up my credit cards in an effort to curb my shopping addiction and pay off the ten-thousand-dollar debt I'd incurred. I left my personal training job and was now living in a rented room, with a house of people I hardly knew, in a town I swore I would never live in. At least I had Dave.

I managed to save enough money to take him to a play at Bard on the Beach. He loved Shakespeare. So off we went, my-just-enough-cash wad in pocket. We arrived at the ticket counter to discover I didn't have enough. It was fireworks night. All entrance tickets included an outdoor-catered dinner, along with prime beachside seating to a fireworks display, in addition to the play. It sounded idyllic, but I couldn't pay for it and I had no plastic to cover me! I stood there paralyzed. What could I do? 

I asked if there was any way we could just see the play. Politely she said no. We turned back and, with no other plans in place, walked to the car in silence. Turning to Dave mortified, I apologized.

People littered the walking path, attempting to scalp tickets. Even at a discount, I couldn't afford it, adding salt to my failure wound. Dave was gracious. “ I never celebrate my birthday anyway!” 

I knew he was lying but felt grateful for the grace. 

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For the dozenth time a scalper approached us. "Excuse me," he said. "Are you looking for tickets?" 

We didn't stop. "I don't have enough.” I responded, too embarrassed to face him. 

"Wait... Please. I don't want your money..." 

We turned to see a middle-aged man, dressed well and smiling. 

"Friends were supposed to join us and can’t make it. I have two tickets. I'd like you to have them." 

We looked at each other dumbstruck. It was Dave who spoke first. "Are you sure?” 

"Yes, please. I'd hate to see them go to waste. And when the time comes, pay it forward."

So we took them, reluctantly, and walked back with our Mystery Angel. 

Inside the theatre, we arrived to stage-lined boxed seats nestled with the man's family. "Don't worry," he said. "We'll ignore you. You won’t even know we’re here!” And he was true to his word. 

At intermission, we discovered who our saint was; a show sponsor, the primary one at that. And here we were, his guests. Following the play, we were escorted outside to an ocean's edge dinner. The sun set with brilliant shades of orange and the fireworks danced overhead. We shared dessert and coffee, then a midnight starlight stroll. The whole evening was magic, a literal Heaven-Sent birthday gift.

It took a few years but we held to our end of the bargain, eventually paying it forward to another unsuspecting couple. 

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THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MY MEMOIR: SEEKING GRACE

Kailey Veenstra