The Standalones

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Ken Preston

4 July 2024

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

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Chapter Thirty-Seven

Despite their dire financial straits, Chloe was enveloped in a warm glow of happiness.

So much so that she didn’t notice Danny and Fred enter the pub with the holdall full of money.

Whatever happened next, her and Matt had each other. Chloe could have spent all night walking the streets with Matt, pausing every so often to kiss, and then walking some more. They had talked so much it now seemed like they had known each other all their lives, and that they were meant to be together. Chloe had come to London in search of fame and fortune with a pop band, and instead she had found love.

She didn’t mind one bit.

“What can I get you, love?”

Jolted from her reverie by the bartender’s question, Chloe reeled off the names of the drinks.

Back at their table, everyone with a drink in their hand, Scarlett raised her glass and said, “Hey, you know what, it’s been an adventure. Here’s to The Standalones.”

“The Standalones,” everyone echoed, and clinked glasses together.

Chloe sipped at her cider. Scarlett was right, her brief time with The Standalones had certainly been an adventure, but now here they were without any money and nowhere to stay. What were they going to do next? If something didn’t happen very soon, then Chloe might have to go home, back to her parents’ house.

Echoing what Chloe was thinking, Scarlett said, “What do we do next, guys? I mean, I suppose we can stay here until closing time, but we’ll get thrown out at some point, and I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t fancy sleeping in a cardboard box on the street tonight.”

“Anybody got any contacts in London? Somewhere we can stay for a night, even it’s just a living room floor to sleep on?” Matt said.

No-one said anything.

Well, that answers that question, Chloe thought.

“What if we go back to the garage and explain our situation to the mechanic?” Chris asked. “Surely if he knows we’ve got nowhere to stay, he’ll let us sleep in the van.”

“It’s an idea,” Matt replied.

“Alright,” Scarlett said. “Let’s finish our drinks and then catch a bus back. Who knows, maybe he’ll even offer us a bed for the night?”

Chris snorted. “Now you’re just being silly.” His eyes widened as he looked at something behind Chloe. “Hey, nobody make a move, but look over there.”

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Chloe stared straight ahead at Chris, not moving a muscle. “How can I look over there without moving?”

“Alright, yeah, just, you know, look but don’t make it obvious that you’re looking.”

Slowly, Chloe turned around and looked over her shoulder.

Her heart sank.

Danny Lamb and his mate Fred, sitting at a table, each with a pint of beer in his hand.

And under the table, the holdall full of stolen cash wedged between their feet.

Chloe turned back to face Chris.

He was grinning, and Chloe had an idea she knew exactly what he was thinking.

Scarlett leaned in close to Chloe. “I thought you said that little rat-faced man who took the money off you to begin with had it back now?”

“I thought he did!” Chloe whispered. “He knew where it was, he was going straight there to get it.”

“Well, he obviously hasn’t got it now,” Matt said. “Someone must have beaten him to it.”

“That bag of money just can’t seem to stay in one place for long, can it?” Scarlett said. “I swear it must have legs or something, and just runs away when it feels like it.”

“This is great.” Chris’s eyes had grown even wider. “We can get the money back.”

“Oh no, wait a minute,” Matt blurted out. “You’re not talking about stealing the money off them, are you?”

“Why not? Look at them, they’re drinking beer like the taps are running dry any time now. It won’t be long before they’re both plastered.”

“Can’t we just let them keep it?” Chloe said, halfheartedly.

“You know what, I think Chloe’s right,” Scarlett said, surprising everyone. “I mean, I’d like nothing more than to have enough cash to get Max Switchblade back and maybe a place to spend the night, but I’m sick of running around after this bag of money. Chloe’s right, it’s not ours, and it belongs to some very bad people. We’re better off without it.”

Chloe sank back into her chair and breathed a massive sigh of relief.

Chris pulled a face like he’d swallowed a lemon.

“I’m with Chloe and Scarlett,” Matt said. “That’s decided then. Right, who wants another drink?”