The Standalones

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Ken Preston

5 July 2024

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

For a moment there, Ratzo thought he might faint. Full on, drop to the floor like a rag doll, eyes rolling into the back of his head, faint. If that happened, he would probably wake up to find himself in hospital. Questions, obviously, would be asked. Nothing he couldn’t handle. No-one else needed to know about the continually mysteriously disappearing holdall full of cash. Far too many people already knew about it.

But there had been a moment when he had stepped into the left luggage department and seen the locker door wide open, the broken padlock hanging from the clasp, and the distinct lack of said holdall full of cash inside the locker, that Ratzo had thought of confessing everything.

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He was tired. Tired of being chased and leaned on and leaning on others and just the whole criminal life itself, if he was honest. Ratzo had taken a wrong turn at some point in his teenage years and all he wanted now was to retrace his steps and take the right turn instead. Sure, it had all been exciting at first, and the money had been nice too. But then, talking to Lexi earlier had opened his eyes to something he had never realised before; apart from Lexi, he had no friends.

Not a single one.

What did that say about his life? Nothing good, Ratzo was sure about that. And then there was that nickname; Ratzo. How he hated it. But, like most everything else in his life, his name had been forced upon him by others.

Ratzo took a deep breath and tensed his muscles, forcing himself to stay upright. He wasn’t going to faint. He wasn’t going to confess.

He was going to do exactly what he did every time he was confronted with a difficult situation; head back to his flat and crawl into his bed, and pretend that none of this was happening.

Ratzo turned away from the empty left luggage locker, stuffed his hands in his pockets and, head bowed, slunk away into the evening.