Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

Buying the Ticket || Radiation Canary



A Radiation Canary fan has an unexpected run-in with a member of the band while working her day job.

Author’s Note: Happy birthday to Kate Black-Spence!

Kate stood against the far wall of the dining room and recited the last desperate plea of a woman who would soon be murdered. The script was open in front of her with the cover folded over so she wouldn’t have to hold it on the page. It was out of sight on the little table which held silverware, blocked by the half-wall that led into the kitchen. She was having a little trouble with the pacing of the Act 2 monologue. She recited it carefully in her head as she scanned her tables. If she rushed it, the emotion would get drowned. But if she lingered on it, the director might think she was milking the moment. She needed to find a happy medium.

A new customer had taken the booth by the window, so Kate grabbed a menu and headed over. When she came around the side of the table, she only barely managed to stop herself from making a sound of surprise when she saw who it was.

“H-hi! I’m Kate. Can I get you something to drink while you look over the menu?”

Codie Renton, drummer for Kate’s favorite band, took the menu with a smile. “Do you have coconut water?”

“We sure do. Anything else?”

“No, that’s it for now.”

“I’ll be right back with that water.”

She maintained her composure as she went back to the kitchen. Once the door closed behind her, she clapped a hand over her mouth and grabbed the arm of the nearest person.

“Do you know who that is at Table 8?”

“The cute one, in the denim hat?” He was craning his neck to see. “Why? Did she ask about me?”

Kate laughed through her fingers. “No, she’s Codie Renton. She’s the drummer for Radiation Canary.”

He wrinkled his nose. “Drummer? Who knows drummers?”

“Uh, Ringo Starr, Dave Grohl, Keith Moon, Questlove…”

“Okay, fine, fine. I’ve never even heard of Radiation Canary.”

Kate tried not to be offended. “Say a Prayer? Don and Sancho? The Importance of Your Radio?”

He shrugged and Kate rolled her eyes.

“This guy on Twitter told me about them. They’re fantastic, okay? Just take my word for it. I need a coconut water.”

She waited long enough to give Codie time to peruse the menu before she went back out. She paused by the kitchen door and preened a little – straightened her hair and her collar, made sure there wasn’t lipstick on her teeth, and made her way over. “Don’t be a dork,” she whispered to herself as she crossed the room. “Don’t be a dork. Don’t be a dork…”

Kate placed the water on the table and took the pad from her apron. “How’s it looking?”

“It’s all looking pretty good. But I think I’ll take the lemon grass roll.”

Kate nodded as she wrote it down. “Excellent choice. Will anyone else be joining you?”

Codie might have smiled knowingly at the question, but it was hard to tell. “Nope, just me.”

“All right. I’ll get that order in and it’ll be right out.”

She went back into the kitchen to place the order. The waiter she’d grabbed earlier held up his phone. “Hey, did you say she was in Radiation Canary? The lead singer is hot.”

Kate rolled her eyes. “What is it with guys?”

“What? We can appreciate her talent and her beauty at the same time.”


Kate went back out to keep an eye on her other customers. Once the thrill wore off, it was easy to treat Codie like just another customer. She refilled her drink, checked to make sure everything was fine, but otherwise left her alone. She focused again on her script and only looked toward Codie a few times more than she would have checked on any other customer. She knew Radiation Canary was in Chicago. Two nights at Thalia Hall, with an opening act called Reading Mirrors. $65 tickets in the balcony last time she had checked, a price she didn’t even want to run by Dustin before admitting they couldn’t afford it. Shame, though. She would have killed to the Canaries live, but she also enjoyed things like electricity and occasionally eating.

Codie ate slowly, alternating between scrolling on her phone and reading something on an iPad. When it looked like she might be ready for the check, Kate took it over and laid it on the edge of the table. Codie looked up and Kate smiled.

“Whenever you’re ready.”

“Just a second,” Codie said. “You recognized me, didn’t you?”

Kate cringed a little. “I did. I’m sorry, I’m such a huge fan.”

“I wanted to thank you for letting me enjoy my meal. And I don’t want to be presumptuous, but if you wanted a picture or an autograph or something…”

Kate’s eyes widened. “Really? That would be so amazing. If you’re sure it’s… I mean, I don’t want to be a hassle.”

“No hassle at all.”

She scooted to one side so Kate could sit beside her. Kate took out her phone and Codie leaned close. Kate had a moment to think ‘I’m probably smelling what their bus smells like, or backstage,’ followed quickly by ‘don’t be a weirdo, Kate.’ She snapped the picture and looked to make sure it hadn’t turned out blurry.

“Thank you so much.”

“It’s no problem. As for the autograph… can I borrow your pen?”

Kate took it from her apron as she rose from the booth. She glanced for her boss; technically she wasn’t supposed to be bothering the customers even if they invited her to do it.


Codie said, “Kate. I remember.” She signed a napkin, taking a moment to write out a full message above her name. “Do you like working here?”

“Uh…” She chuckled. “It’s fine. I’m actually an actor. This pays the bills, but that’s my real job.”

“I know exactly what you mean. I was a mechanic before Radiation Canary took off.” She handed Kate the autograph and offered her hand. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Kate.”

Kate shook her hand. “Oh please. No. It was all mine.” She started to walk away but stopped, turned on the ball of her foot, and walked back. “Actually, may I ask you a question? You can tell me to buzz off if you want…”

“No, go ahead. If it’s about writing the songs, I’m not going to be much help.”

“No, it’s not that. You said you were a mechanic before the band got successful. How did you deal with people who said it was never going to happen? You know… ‘be realistic, live in the real world, stop wasting your time on dreams’?”

Codie shook her head. “Oh, damn. Those people. Those people make me sad.”


“Well, yeah. I mean, they’re telling you to stop chasing a dream because there’s no point. It makes me wonder what dreams they gave up on. They’re telling you to give up because, if you make it, that means they could’ve made it, too. It means you’re stronger than they are. It means you’re willing to do the work and sacrifice to get what you want.”

Kate grinned. “I guess so.”

“I know so. Look, everyone has dreams when they grow up. Big, small, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes they don’t even realize they’ve given up on them, but other times they make a conscious choice to stop fighting. You’re sticking in there and it makes them feel like losers. They want to make you feel that way, too. Don’t let them.”

“Thank you. They’re the same people who say that talent is only a small part of it, that you need a lot of luck to make it big, too.”

Codie nodded. “That’s true. Luck played a big part for me and the girls. But you know what my grandma always said? You’ll never win the lottery if you don’t buy the ticket.”

Kate laughed. “That’s… I like that. That’s good.”

Codie had gathered her things and stood up. “It really was great to meet you, Kate. What was your last name?”

“Spence. Kate Black-Spence.”

“Are you off Friday or Saturday night?”

Kate’s heart leapt into her throat but she couldn’t make herself believe what was happening. “Saturday.”

“I’ll make sure there are a couple of tickets waiting for you at our show. Bring your… uh, boyfriend? Girlfriend?”


“Bring him along. There are going to be autographs after the show. I’d love to get you a whole set of Canary scribbles.”

Kate said, “That would be great. And, uh, as long as you’re in town, whenever you want to come in… hopefully I’ll be working and I can ignore you as much as I did today.”

Codie laughed. “Good luck, Kate.”


She watched Codie leave and went back to where she had left the script, two fingers inside her apron to touch the napkin Codie signed. She picked up the script and smiled at the monologue she still didn’t have a grip on. But now she had faith that she would figure it out by the first curtain. She leaned against the wall and began mouthing the words again.

The other waiter passed her and peered down at the page. “Clock’s ticking, Kate. Are you still learning your lines?”

“No, I know the lines,” Kate said. “I’m just buying my ticket.”

He tilted his head to one side. “What ticket? For what?”

Kate laughed and shook her head.

She had a monologue to crack.

One Response to “Buying the Ticket || Radiation Canary”

  • I love any Radiation Canary story. Thanks for posting a new one!