The Standalones

Chapter Fourteen

Ken Preston

11 June 2024

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

The gig wasn’t going well. Chloe kept glancing at Matt for encouragement, but she could see by the look on his face that he wasn’t happy either. This was the wrong crowd for their kind of music. They were obviously into their heavy rock, not bright, colourful pop tunes performed by a bunch of kids who didn’t look old enough to be allowed in a pub, never mind perform there.

The crowd of bearded rockers and bikers, just visible now in the fog of cigarette smoke hanging over them, were grumbling amongst each other. Chloe even heard scattered shouts of “Boo!” and “Get off!” and even worse.

The man who’d handed her that second note was growing restless, too. Chloe had made the decision to just ignore him. The Standalones weren’t a message service, they were here to sing, not advertise second-hand furniture.

Chloe glanced at Matt again. He gave her a brief, encouraging smile and a nod as they reached the end of their fifth song.

Right, I’m not putting up with this any longer, Chloe thought. We might not be a rock or punk band or whatever it is they want us to be, but that’s not our fault. All this grumbling and shouting is just plain rude.

“Hey!” she shouted at the end of their song.

The crowd of men ignored her.

“Hey! Shut up and listen to me!” Chloe yelled down the mic, her amplified voice echoing around the tightly packed performance space and finishing with a howl of feedback.

What seemed like hundreds of tattooed and bearded faces turned to stare at Chloe as a hush fell over the room.

Chloe swallowed. Alright, so you got their attention. Now what?

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