The Standalones

Chapter Nineteen

Ken Preston

16 June 2024

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

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Chapter Nineteen

“Another two pints over here, Brenda!” Danny shouted, holding his empty pint glass high and giving it a little wave, just to make sure he got the landlady’s attention.

Fred sank the last of his beer, slammed the empty pint glass on the table, and burped. “Easy as stealing candy from a kid it were, Danny. Easier, I tell you.”

Danny clapped a meaty hand on Fred’s shoulder, his massive frame jiggling with laughter. “I know, Fred, I know, you’ve done nothing but tell me about it for the last hour.”

Fred shook his head and burst into a fit of drunken giggles. “But did I tell you I had to fight my way past Elsa to get it?”

“That silly woman still got that lion, has she?” Danny scowled. “Belongs in a zoo that thing does.”

“Well, it weren’t no problem for me, mate.” Fred’s chest swelled as he said this.

Danny chuckled. “All I asked you to do were get me the rent I was owed, and instead you come back with a suitcase full of money!”

Fred waved a finger at Danny. “Now Danny, let’s get our facts straight, it weren’t a suitcase full of cash, it were a holdall.”

Both men collapsed into fits of laughter, as though this might be the funniest thing anyone had ever said.

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Brenda arrived with fresh pints of bitter, the white foam slopping over the tops of the glasses and running down the sides.

“Now lads, I don’t usually do table service, do I?” She placed the glasses on the table and collected the empties.

Danny handed her a £20 note. “There you go, Brenda love, keep the change for your trouble, why don’t you?”

Brenda eyed the money suspiciously. “You two won big on the horses or something, have you?”

Both men collapsed into another fit of giggles.

“You could say that!” Fred gasped.

With a sniff and a scowl, Brenda turned her back on the two men and went back to the bar.

Fred took a deep swallow of his beer and wiped the back of his hand across his lips. “Now, are you sure all that cash is safe back at yours?”

“Stop worrying, of course it is.” Danny took two large swallows of his pint, emptying half the glass. “The question is, what are we going to spend it on?” He looked at Fred and raised an eyebrow.

“What’s that look for?” Fred said.

“You know what that look’s for.”

“If I knew, I wouldn’t be asking, would I?”

Danny sighed. “Irene.”

“What about her?”

“What about her? What do you mean, what about her?”

“Danny, you’re not making any sense, mate. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

The big man threw his arms in the air, a look of utter perplexity on his face. “Are you going to tell Irene about the money?”

“Of course not. Why would I do that?”

“Just asking, that’s all.” A drunken scowl squashed Danny’s face as he struggled to put a thought together. “The thing is, Fred, my old mate, where did those youngsters get all that money from, do you think?”

Fred took another swallow of his beer and leaned in close to Danny, as though about to tell him a secret. “Does it really matter? The money’s ours now, it’s ours.”

A slow smile crept across Danny’s face. “Alright then, so what are we going to do with all that lovely cash?”

Fred finished off the rest of his beer. “Did we bring enough money that we can buy another round while we have a think about that?”

“What do you think?” Danny showed Fred the bundle of £20 notes wrapped in a paper band and riffled the end with his thumb. “How many rounds do you think we can buy with that lot?”

Fred grinned and lifted his empty pint glass high. “Brenda!”