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Chapter One

I paused and looked at the star on the door in front of me. It was a wooden cutout, painted gold, and nailed to the door. The words "Dressing Room A" were painted in black underneath the star. The ticket in my hand was going to get me into that room, where a world famous singer was doing whatever world famous singers do after a concert. I couldn't believe this was happening to me, and I realized I was panting, as though I had run half a mile. In fact, all I had done was walk down a hallway that was thirty feet long. As the security man beside me reached to open the door, flickering images replayed themselves in my mind, of how I came to be in this place.

I got tickets to the Victoria Anderson concert in a radio give-away, where I was the tenth caller. They gave me four VIP tickets with backstage passes. This was even cooler than you might think, because while our city was famous because Victoria was born and raised there, and she lived there when she wasn't off traveling the world, I had never seen her in person. Most people hadn't, for that matter. Think about it. You have a mayor wherever you live, right? Ever actually seen him? Bumped into him at Walmart or something? So it was really cool that I was finally going to get to see her.

Anyway, it was late August, and I had just graduated from high school the previous May. Most of my friends were already off at college somewhere. My family didn't have the money to send me to college, and my grades hadn't been good enough for scholarships. I knew enough people who owed a hundred thousand dollars in student loans, and had crappy jobs, that I wasn't thrilled with going the government loan route. As such, I was stuck delivering pizzas for Luigi's. Not that I was complaining, exactly. Tips were good enough that I had been able to get my own place. It was kind of a rat hole, but it was my rat hole, and I was enjoying my freedom, even if I wasn't doing much with it. It was while I was delivering a pizza, in fact, that I won the tickets to the concert.

Randy, the guy I was going out with for most of my last semester of high school, was one of the people who had gone off to college, and I hadn't found anybody new to date. The truth was that Jackie Witherspoon was the only one of my girlfriends who hadn't gone to college too, so I offered to share the tickets with her. Jackie did have a boyfriend, and of course she wanted to bring him, so that accounted for three of the four tickets. I still had the extra ticket two days before the concert when my dad had his annual Labor Day cookout. I went, of course. I was standing there eating a chilidog when somebody slapped my right ass cheek. I knew who it was before I even turned around.

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