The Standalones

Chapter Eight

Ken Preston

05 June 2024

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

Scarlett parked the van around the corner from Danny Lamb’s house. Chloe squirmed in her seat, nerves twisting her stomach up in knots. She had travelled down to London to join a pop group, but now she seemed to be involved in a spot of breaking and entering.

At least the item they were stealing belonged to one of their own. That couldn’t be called stealing then really, could it?

Matt touched her on the elbow. “Hey, you don’t have to come in with us. It’s Chris’s fault for leaving the keyboard behind, he knew we were moving out, he’s the one going back in.”

Chloe gave Matt a smile. “What if I stand outside as a lookout?”

“That would be great.” Matt gave her arm a gentle squeeze.

Chloe’s skin tingled where he had touched her.

“Alright guys,” Scarlett said from the front, “are you all ready? We’re going to have to make this quick and we’re going to have to be quiet. Everybody got that?”

“Who put you in charge?” Chris said.

“Me,” Scarlett replied, “because I’m the only responsible one around here.” She glanced at Chloe. “Present company excepted, of course.”

“Charming,” Chris said.

They climbed out of the van and scurried around the corner. The window they had opened for their escape was still ajar. They ran down the steps to the basement level, where their former room was located.

Matt bent down and cupped his hands together. “Come on, I’ll give you a leg up.”

Chris placed his foot in Matt’s hands, and Matt boosted him. Chris grabbed the window frame and pushed his head through the gap in the open window.

“Looks like the coast is clear,” Chris said. “Lift me a little higher.”

Matt grunted with the effort, but managed to lift Chris high enough that he could slither through the window. With a panicked cry, Chris fell headfirst into the sink, scattering dirty pans and washing up water.

“You alright?” Scarlett hissed.

Chris appeared on the other side of the glass, face and hair dripping wet. He nodded and then turned and disappeared into the bedroom to grab his keyboard.

Chloe took a look up and down the street. Down here she was at pavement level, and her view was mostly restricted to shoes and ankles. How could she keep a lookout from here?

“What’s taking him so long?” Scarlett muttered.

“You know what he’s like,” Matt replied. “He’s probably forgotten where he last put it.”

Chris suddenly appeared at the bedroom door. His eyes were wide and panicked. He ran to the window.

“I can’t find it. It’s not here, someone’s stolen it!”

“Don’t be stupid!” Scarlett hissed. “It’s got to be in there somewhere!”

“Yeah? Well you come and have a look for it then!”

Chloe watched as Scarlett used Matt as a hoist up, and she climbed through the open window. Unlike Chris, she managed to avoid a dunking in the kitchen sink.

Chloe and Matt waited in silence.

“They’re taking too long,” Matt finally said.

“What if your landlord found it and has stolen it to sell it?” Chloe asked.

“Then we’re finished,” Matt replied. “We can’t do without a keyboard player.”

Chris and Scarlett emerged from the bedroom. They both shook their heads.

“This is ridiculous,” Chloe said. “We can’t waste time skulking around down here, we need to find out if your landlord has it.”

“And how do we do that?” Scarlett said, her voice muted by the windowpane.

Chloe didn’t reply, she was too busy thinking. She hadn’t travelled all the way down to London to join a band, but then have to give up on her dreams of pop stardom because someone had stolen the band’s keyboard. Especially when the thief was most likely sitting inside this house right now with the keyboard.

“I’ve got an idea,” she said. “Everybody stay right where you are.”

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