The Standalones

Chapter Twenty-Five

Ken Preston

22 June 2024

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

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Chapter Twenty-Five

No matter what time of day Ratzo turned up at Mac’s Cafe, the place was always bustling with customers. That was the way he liked it, though. There was a tiny table stuffed into a corner at the back of the cafe, just big enough for one person to sit at, and it suited him down to the ground. Ratzo didn’t have any friends, so sitting at a table for one was perfect. Why would he want to share a table with someone else?

And yet, sometimes Ratzo found himself wishing he had at least one friend, and maybe even a girlfriend. Yeah, a girlfriend would be nice. Ratzo had never had a girlfriend, and never any friends, to be honest. He’d always been a loner. Most of the time, he preferred it that way.

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But this morning, sitting at his table for one in a gloomy corner of Mac’s Cafe, watching the couples and the families sitting in their groups and chatting away over coffee and breakfast, Ratzo was suddenly overcome with an aching loneliness.

Never mind that, he thought, pushing his feelings to one side. You need to worry about staying alive at the moment.

Frankie had not been best pleased when the twins returned to tell him that Danny and Fred claimed they didn’t have his money. He’d lost his cool for a while, spitting threats at Ratzo, yelling at him that he’d better find his money and get it back to him, or else there would be real trouble.

Ratzo had got out of there as soon as he could, making all sorts of promises about finding Frankie’s money and making sure it got returned. And now here he was, thinking maybe he should just run. He’d probably have to go abroad somewhere if he wanted to be sure that Frankie would never find him. But where? France? Italy? No, he needed to put more distance between the two of them if Ratzo wanted to be sure of living out his days in peace. Maybe Mexico. Or, even better, Australia.

Ratzo placed his head in his hands. What am I thinking? I don’t have the cash to get out of London, never mind all the way to Australia.

At times like this, he wished he had someone to turn to, someone to talk with. If he ever found himself a girlfriend, he would probably even consider going straight, turning into an honest man.

But who was he kidding? He was trapped in the life of a conman and a villain, and he just had to accept it.

Right then he heard a familiar voice in amongst the hubbub of the cafe. He lifted his head from his hands and caught a glimpse of Chloe and her band mates as they sat at a table.

Alright then, this might be interesting, he thought.