The Standalones

Chapter Twenty-Two

Ken Preston

19 June 2024

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

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Chapter Twenty-Two

“Hey, I think I might know where the money is.”

Chloe, Matt, and Chris were back in the van, huddled in the back amongst the bags and equipment. They had been sitting in silence for the last half hour, listening to the rain pounding on the roof. There hadn’t seemed much to say.

Scarlett had headed off down the road, looking for the nearest town or a telephone box. They needed a mechanic to fix Max Switchblade before they could do anything else. Without a means of transporting themselves and their equipment to the next gig, they were stuck.

Chloe stirred at the sound of Chris’s voice. Had she been drifting off? It took her a moment to register what Chris had actually said.

Matt stirred, too. “Are you serious?”

“Yeah, man, I’m serious.” Chris sat up straighter, his eyes alert. “It was this guy I saw at the gig last night, just caught a glimpse of him really, but I thought I recognised him, and it’s been bugging me ever since.”

“So who was it?” Chloe asked.

“Fred,” Chris replied. “It was Fred, I’m sure of it.”

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Chloe and Matt looked at each other. Matt shrugged.

“Come on, Chris, who’s Fred?”

Chris snapped his fingers. “Danny’s mate. You remember, he thinks he’s a tough guy, and he collects rent for Danny.”

Matt nodded slowly. “Oh yeah, I remember, weaselly little fella with a moustache.”

“Looks a little bit like the keyboard player in Sparks.”

“So what was he doing at our gig?” Matt said, scrunching his eyebrows together in a puzzled expression. “Do you think he’s a fan?”

Chloe giggled. “No, of course not! He was there to collect the rent that Danny Lamb thinks you owe him.”

“Oh, yeah, of course.” Matt blushed.

He was embarrassed! That was so sweet. Chloe shoved her feelings for Matt away, determined not to let herself fall for him too much before she knew what the situation was between him and Lexi.

“But he didn’t try and get any rent off us, did he?” Chris said, seemingly oblivious to Matt’s embarrassment. “Which means he found the money hidden in the drum kit and decided to take that instead.”

“But how did he find it?” Chloe said.

“Who cares how he found it?” Chris held out his hands. “But we know who’s got it now. Danny Lamb. And I say we go and get it back off him.”

“You’re mad, right?” Matt said. “It was only yesterday we were running away from Danny Lamb because of all the money he’s trying to extort from us. I doubt very much he’s going to give us that cash back.”

Leaning forward, Chris said, “He will if we threaten to take him to the cops for stealing all our money.”

“But it’s not ours!” Chloe said.

“He doesn’t know that. And we can even pay him the money he thinks we owe him, maybe give him some extra to placate him.”

Chloe’s heart sank. Here she was thinking that at least the money situation had sorted itself out now that they no longer had it, and now Chris was talking about getting it back. Why couldn’t he understand that they just needed to stay well clear of it? That holdall of money was nothing but trouble, Chloe knew it was.

“Ah, I don’t know, Chris,” Matt said. “I mean, it was never ours to begin with, I think we’re better off without it. And besides, what about Fred? I bet he’s expecting a cut of all that cash.”

“They won’t want to keep it, not when we threaten to get the coppers involved.”

A horn beeped outside. Chloe pressed her face against the window and cupped her hands around her eyes as she peered through the rain-streaked glass.

“It’s a pickup truck. Scarlett’s getting out of the cab, she brought help!”

Scarlett pulled the side door of the van open and jumped inside. Rainwater ran down her face and her clothes were drenched.

“Man, it’s raining cats and dogs out there.”

She shook her head, spraying water over Matt and Chloe.

“Hey, cut it out!” Matt yelled.

“I found a garage,” Scarlett said, laughing. “They’re going to tow Max back and have a look, see if they can fix him.”

“Great.” Chris grinned. “And I know where our money is.”

Chloe closed her eyes and groaned inwardly. It’s not our money!