The Standalones

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Ken Preston

6 July 2024

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

Chloe didn’t think she had ever laughed so hard as she did that night. Perhaps they were all overcome with a giddy sort of madness. That was the only way she could explain why they kept on buying the drinks, even though they knew they were spending the last of their money.

But they were having fun. Soon enough, they would be asked to leave when the pub closed its doors for the night, and then they had no idea what they would do next, or where they would go. But right now, they were happy.

When Chloe and Matt, holding hands, announced that they were now a couple, Scarlett and Chris whooped and cheered.

“Well it’s about time,” Scarlett said.

Matt almost spit his drink over the table in astonishment. “What? We’ve known each other for less than two days!”

“Maybe, but the two of you have been ogling each other since the first moment you met,” Chris said.

“It’s been so obvious you were both in love at first sight,” Scarlett said, laughing.

“Really?” Chloe’s cheeks grew pink.

“Yes, really!” Scarlett and Chris said, along with more laughter.

The conversation continued, taking in the adventures (or perhaps more correctly, the misadventures) of the band before they met Chloe, and she told them more about herself.

“What about that surname of yours?” Scarlett asked.

“Martino-Yamaguchi?” Chloe put on a serious face, as though she was offended. “What about it? Is there something wrong with it? Does it offend you?”

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to—”

Chloe giggled.

“I thought you were mad at me!” Scarlett yelled.

“My dad’s Japanese and my mum is Italian, so I wound up with this ridiculous double-barrelled surname.”

“I think it’s cool,” Matt said, and squeezed Chloe’s hand.

A bell rang out.

“Last orders please!” the landlord shouted.

“Have we got enough for one last drink?” Chris asked, scattering his remaining pennies on the table.

They pooled their remaining money together and looked morosely at the collection of coins. Matt stirred through it with his finger and counted.

“You know what? I think we’ve got enough for a drink and a packet of crisps each.”

“Let the good times roll!” Scarlett said.

While Matt went to the bar, Chloe relaxed into her chair. A wave of tiredness suddenly swept over her. What a hectic, exciting couple of days it had been. Now all they needed to do was convince the mechanic at the garage to let them sleep in the van tonight.

Chloe sat bolt upright. “Oh, no!”

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