The Standalones

Chapter Nine

Ken Preston

06 June 2024

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

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Chapter Nine

Ratzo paced compulsively up and down the concourse at Euston Station, Chloe’s bag slung over one shoulder. He had no idea why he had come here, or why he stayed. Sure, it was where he and that stupid girl had crashed into each other, but what was he going to find out now, several hours later? It wasn’t like she had left clues behind for him, like he was the star of a mystery film, and he was the detective trying to solve the case. If only. But this wasn’t the movies, and he wasn’t a detective.

Still, at least here he was in a public space. He had to be on his guard now until this whole mess was sorted out, which meant getting Frankie Henderson his money back before he set the twins loose.

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Oh yes, the Turner twins, known throughout the London underworld as the most terrifying pair of killers you could wish to stay away from. A long way away from. The last thing Ratzo wanted was those two on his case. Once they were given a job, or a project, as Frankie Henderson preferred to call it, they never gave up.

At all.

Ratzo stopped pacing a moment and took a deep breath. Come on, calm down. You’ve got time. Frankie wants his money back more than he wants to set the twins on you.

Not only that, but he had a name now. Chloe Martino-Yagamuchi. He’d got her name from a cheque book, which he’d discovered folded up inside a sock in her bag. What kind of name was that? What was she, half-Italian, half-Japanese? Ratzo shook his head. What did it matter? He might have a name, but what he really needed was to find out where she was.

Still, with a name like Martino-Yagamuchi, that shouldn’t be too difficult.

Ratzo found a public telephone. Once he closed the door of the bright red phonebox, the hubbub of the station grew muted. He fed a two pence coin into the slot and dialled directory enquiries.

“I need a number for Martino-Yagamuchi,” he said when the operator answered. “No, not Martin, Martino.” He listened some more. “No, Martino is not the first name, it’s the surname.” When the operator gave him the telephone number, Ratzo wrote it down on the back of his hand.

He hung up and then dialed the number.

A bespectacled man in a suit and a bowler hat tapped on the telephone box window with the handle of his umbrella and then pointed at his watch.

Ratzo turned his back on the man, listening to the sound of the telephone ringing out on the other end of the line.

The ringing stopped. “Hello?”

A man’s voice. Was that a Japanese accent?

“Mr Yagamuchi?” Ratzo said.

“Yes, may I ask who is calling?”

“Mr Yagamuchi, this is lost property at Euston train station in London.” Ratzo cracked the door open to let in the sound of the tannoy announcements. “We have Chloe’s travel bag here, but no way of getting in touch with her. Do you have some way of contacting her?”

“Oh dear,” Mr Yagamuchi said. “I’m afraid not.”

Ratzo ran his hand over his head. “Are you sure? We are very concerned that she has nothing now, not even her purse. If we could just get this bag back to her, we would all feel a lot happier.”

Was that too much? Was he laying it on a bit thick? After all, he was only meant to be a member of staff at the lost property office.

“That’s very good of you,” Mr Yagamuchi said down the line. “But we have no idea who she is staying with or where in London that might be. All I can tell you is she was joining a pop group as their new lead singer.”

Ratzo stood up straighter. “Pop group? Do you know their name?”

“The Standalones.”

“Thank you Mr Yagamuchi, you’ve been very helpful,” Ratzo said, and hung up.

The Standalones. What a stupid name.

At least now he had something to go on.