The Standalones

Chapter Thirteen

Ken Preston

10 June 2024

Silhouette of a rock band against a spotlight and the words The Standalones

Ratzo couldn’t believe his eyes. Was that Fred over there? What was he doing here?

Ratzo did his best to make himself invisible, sinking back into the crowd of bikers and rockers. He’d been hiding at the back anyway, not wanting that girl, Chloe, whatever her double-barrelled surname might be because he’d already forgotten it, to spot him. It had been easy enough to find her once he knew she was in a pop group. The Standalones. Their flyers had been all over town, playing tonight at The Dog and Whistle, and then the day after tomorrow at the Brockwell Park Pop Festival.

Hopefully, he could get Frankie’s money back tonight, and not have to bother with the pop festival. He couldn’t think of anything worse; crowds of cool kids and posers, and stands selling hippy clothes and ethnic food. At least they wouldn’t have a lion over there, though.

Ratzo cast a nervous glance at Elsa as she padded between the bikers and the rockers. They were all either too drunk to be frightened or they were regulars and had grown used to having a lion wandering around. To be honest, it was most likely a combination of both.

The Standalones were into their fourth or fifth song now and, despite himself, Ratzo would find himself tapping his foot or humming along to the songs. They were irritatingly catchy.

He wasn’t sure how much the regulars were enjoying the show. They looked like they were more used to heavy rock than catchy, hummable pop tunes.

Ratzo caught sight of Fred again, pacing up and down in the crowded room. What was he up to? Fred never ventured out of his house unless it involved some scheme to make money. And that usually involved beating up somebody.

Money.

Ratzo froze as a terrible thought rose from the depths of his mind.

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