The Ticket: A Short Story in Seven Parts (Part VI)

Illustration by Emma Crevier

Part Six: The Upper Room

The Ticket is a work of short fiction written by former Three Rivers resident and local author Charles Thomas. The story has been split into seven parts, all of which will be published on Watershed Voice in the coming days/weeks.

It had been an amazing 24 hours. Three Rivers was even more electric than when the football team won the state championship. The media frenzy, which had started with just the local affiliates, had spread to the national networks. The Today Show and Good Morning America had sent correspondents to report live from the 131 Gas and Go, and half the town was outside in the background to witness the biggest thing to happen to Three Rivers in its over 150-year history.

Most of the media coverage was focused on the identity of the winners, who had as yet not stepped forward. Friends and neighbors around town looked at each other differently, wondering if they were talking to someone who had just won 319 million dollars.

Madison was working on AP Chem when her cell lit up.

“Hey Brittany,” the teenager said from her bed. “What’s up?”

“The tip jar ticket was the winner,” her boss told her bluntly. The look on her face must have been dramatic because her brother, Noah, stopped playing his video game and looked over at her with concern.

Madison could not believe it. “What? Really? You’re kidding right?”

“No Madison, I’m not kidding. All those reporters in town are here because of us.”

Madison felt her whole life open up like a new book. She could do whatever she wanted to now. She could move out. She could buy the Triple Ripple Café, she could…

“We need to meet,” Brittany said. “We need to meet like right now.”

“Sure,” Madison said stunned. “Where?”

“My friend works at Hair Expressions downtown,” Brittany explained. “There’s an upper room you access by a stairwell that’s inside the front door. I’ve reserved that room for us. Daryl will meet us there in 15 minutes.”

“Okay,” Madison said, her voice cracking. Noah looked at her with astonishment. He’d never seen his older sister act like this before. “I’m leaving right now, Brittany.”

She hung up the phone and headed for the door of the bedroom she shared with her brother. “I’m going out, Noah. Tell Mom and Dad that I’m going out for a walk.”

“You’re not going out for a walk,” the precocious twelve-year-old said.

“As far as you know, that’s exactly what I’m doing.”


As Madison made her way downtown, adrenaline was racing through her veins in a way that she had never felt before. This is what it must be like to drink alcohol, she thought. Everything looked differently now. The stop lights seemed redder and the sun seemed brighter.

The stairwell inside Hair Expressions was just where Brittany said it would be. She was able to walk up the stairs without the stylist even noticing her. As she walked up the stairs, she heard two women waiting to get their hair cut talking about the lottery winners in gossipy tones.

At the top of the stairs was a single room with an open door. Inside sat Brittany and Daryl on an old couch. Madison smiled when she saw her friends, but the smile faded when she saw another man in the room. He was wearing a suit and looked to be about her father’s age.

When Brittany saw Madison, she motioned for her to come in and close the door.

“Sit down,” she instructed and pointed to a folding chair next to the man in the suit. 

“This is Donald Adams. He’s an attorney from Kalamazoo,” Brittany said.

Madison shook Mr. Adams’ hand when he offered it.

“Thank you for meeting with us so quickly,” the attorney said directing all his attention to her. “I am representing both Brittany and Daryl in the matter of the lottery ticket. I wanted to meet with you today as well, to inform you of our strategy in this matter.”

Madison was confused but nodded her head politely. 

“Madison, I regret to inform you that as a minor, you have no legal claim to a portion of the winnings. You are not an eligible lottery player.”

Madison’s heart sunk.

“My clients will also contend in court,” Adams continued, “if you choose to take legal action against them, that you also have no claim to this money because you are a part-time employee at the café. While in practice they are often more generous, the policy of the Triple Ripple Cafe is that tips are for full time employees only.”

Madison could not believe what she was hearing. She looked over at Brittany and Daryl, but neither would make eye contact with her. 

“I recommend that you let this go,” Brittany said and took Daryl’s hand in her own. Daryl smiled at her touch but looked tired and pale. “Let’s not fight about this, Madison. You don’t have a legal leg to stand on.”

It had been an amazing 24 hours. Three Rivers was even more electric than when the football team won the state championship. The media frenzy, which had started with just the local affiliates, had spread to the national networks. The Today Show and Good Morning America had sent correspondents to report live from the 131 Gas and Go, and half the town was outside in the background to witness the biggest thing to happen to Three Rivers in its over 150-year history.

Most of the media coverage was focused on the identity of the winners, who had as yet not stepped forward. Friends and neighbors around town looked at each other differently, wondering if they were talking to someone who had just won 319 million dollars.

Madison was working on AP Chem when her cell lit up.

“Hey Brittany,” the teenager said from her bed. “What’s up?”

“The tip jar ticket was the winner,” her boss told her bluntly. The look on her face must have been dramatic because her brother, Noah, stopped playing his video game and looked over at her with concern.

Madison could not believe it. “What? Really? You’re kidding right?”

“No Madison, I’m not kidding. All those reporters in town are here because of us.”

Madison felt her whole life open up like a new book. She could do whatever she wanted to now. She could move out. She could buy the Triple Ripple Café, she could…

“We need to meet,” Brittany said. “We need to meet like right now.”

“Sure,” Madison said stunned. “Where?”

“My friend works at Hair Expressions downtown,” Brittany explained. “There’s an upper room you access by a stairwell that’s inside the front door. I’ve reserved that room for us. Daryl will meet us there in 15 minutes.”

“Okay,” Madison said, her voice cracking. Noah looked at her with astonishment. He’d never seen his older sister act like this before. “I’m leaving right now, Brittany.”

She hung up the phone and headed for the door of the bedroom she shared with her brother. “I’m going out, Noah. Tell Mom and Dad that I’m going out for a walk.”

“You’re not going out for a walk,” the precocious twelve-year-old said.

“As far as you know, that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

As Madison made her way downtown, adrenaline was racing through her veins in a way that she had never felt before. This is what it must be like to drink alcohol, she thought. Everything looked differently now. The stop lights seemed redder and the sun seemed brighter.

The stairwell inside Hair Expressions was just where Brittany said it would be. She was able to walk up the stairs without the stylist even noticing her. As she walked up the stairs, she heard two women waiting to get their hair cut talking about the lottery winners in gossipy tones.

At the top of the stairs was a single room with an open door. Inside sat Brittany and Daryl on an old couch. Madison smiled when she saw her friends, but the smile faded when she saw another man in the room. He was wearing a suit and looked to be about her father’s age.

When Brittany saw Madison, she motioned for her to come in and close the door.

“Sit down,” she instructed and pointed to a folding chair next to the man in the suit. 

“This is Donald Adams. He’s an attorney from Kalamazoo,” Brittany said.

Madison shook Mr. Adams’ hand when he offered it.

“Thank you for meeting with us so quickly,” the attorney said directing all his attention to her. “I am representing both Brittany and Daryl in the matter of the lottery ticket. I wanted to meet with you today as well, to inform you of our strategy in this matter.”

Madison was confused but nodded her head politely. 

“Madison, I regret to inform you that as a minor, you have no legal claim to a portion of the winnings. You are not an eligible lottery player.”

Madison’s heart sunk.

“My clients will also contend in court,” Adams continued, “if you choose to take legal action against them, that you also have no claim to this money because you are a part-time employee at the café. While in practice they are often more generous, the policy of the Triple Ripple Cafe is that tips are for full time employees only.”

Madison could not believe what she was hearing. She looked over at Brittany and Daryl, but neither would make eye contact with her. 

“I recommend that you let this go,” Brittany said and took Daryl’s hand in her own. Daryl smiled at her touch but looked tired and pale. “Let’s not fight about this, Madison. You don’t have a legal leg to stand on.”

It had been an amazing 24 hours. Three Rivers was even more electric than when the football team won the state championship. The media frenzy, which had started with just the local affiliates, had spread to the national networks. The Today Show and Good Morning America had sent correspondents to report live from the 131 Gas and Go, and half the town was outside in the background to witness the biggest thing to happen to Three Rivers in its over 150-year history.

Most of the media coverage was focused on the identity of the winners, who had as yet not stepped forward. Friends and neighbors around town looked at each other differently, wondering if they were talking to someone who had just won 319 million dollars.

Madison was working on AP Chem when her cell lit up.

“Hey Brittany,” the teenager said from her bed. “What’s up?”

“The tip jar ticket was the winner,” her boss told her bluntly. The look on her face must have been dramatic because her brother, Noah, stopped playing his video game and looked over at her with concern.

Madison could not believe it. “What? Really? You’re kidding right?”

“No Madison, I’m not kidding. All those reporters in town are here because of us.”

Madison felt her whole life open up like a new book. She could do whatever she wanted to now. She could move out. She could buy the Triple Ripple Café, she could…

“We need to meet,” Brittany said. “We need to meet like right now.”

“Sure,” Madison said stunned. “Where?”

“My friend works at Hair Expressions downtown,” Brittany explained. “There’s an upper room you access by a stairwell that’s inside the front door. I’ve reserved that room for us. Daryl will meet us there in 15 minutes.”

“Okay,” Madison said, her voice cracking. Noah looked at her with astonishment. He’d never seen his older sister act like this before. “I’m leaving right now, Brittany.”

She hung up the phone and headed for the door of the bedroom she shared with her brother. “I’m going out, Noah. Tell Mom and Dad that I’m going out for a walk.”

“You’re not going out for a walk,” the precocious twelve-year-old said.

“As far as you know, that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

As Madison made her way downtown, adrenaline was racing through her veins in a way that she had never felt before. This is what it must be like to drink alcohol, she thought. Everything looked differently now. The stop lights seemed redder and the sun seemed brighter.

The stairwell inside Hair Expressions was just where Brittany said it would be. She was able to walk up the stairs without the stylist even noticing her. As she walked up the stairs, she heard two women waiting to get their hair cut talking about the lottery winners in gossipy tones.

At the top of the stairs was a single room with an open door. Inside sat Brittany and Daryl on an old couch. Madison smiled when she saw her friends, but the smile faded when she saw another man in the room. He was wearing a suit and looked to be about her father’s age.

When Brittany saw Madison, she motioned for her to come in and close the door.

“Sit down,” she instructed and pointed to a folding chair next to the man in the suit. 

“This is Donald Adams. He’s an attorney from Kalamazoo,” Brittany said.

Madison shook Mr. Adams’ hand when he offered it.

“Thank you for meeting with us so quickly,” the attorney said directing all his attention to her. “I am representing both Brittany and Daryl in the matter of the lottery ticket. I wanted to meet with you today as well, to inform you of our strategy in this matter.”

Madison was confused but nodded her head politely. 

“Madison, I regret to inform you that as a minor, you have no legal claim to a portion of the winnings. You are not an eligible lottery player.”

Madison’s heart sunk.

“My clients will also contend in court,” Adams continued, “if you choose to take legal action against them, that you also have no claim to this money because you are a part-time employee at the café. While in practice they are often more generous, the policy of the Triple Ripple Cafe is that tips are for full time employees only.”

Madison could not believe what she was hearing. She looked over at Brittany and Daryl, but neither would make eye contact with her. 

“I recommend that you let this go,” Brittany said and took Daryl’s hand in her own. Daryl smiled at her touch but looked tired and pale. “Let’s not fight about this, Madison. You don’t have a legal leg to stand on.”

Mr. Adams looked intimidating in his fancy suit. Madison felt her body grow warm and then hot. The room began to spin. Around and around it went, spinning out of control until for Madison the world just went black.

Charles D. Thomas is a writer and psychotherapist who made Three Rivers his home for over a decade. Feedback is welcome at Charles@charlesdthomas.com