What a day to be on a mission! The ice cold rain is launching itself from the heavy, black clouds of January but the wind is blowing it in all directions. This means that when the rain hits you, it stings and is freezing cold. No-one is about in Groaningsea except one lone shopper who is losing the fight with her umbrella which has been blown inside out.
A lone light shines in the Groaningsea Gazette office. It is hard to peer through the windows as past stories are pasted all over them like wallpaper. It does not reach to the top of the windows though; the light bulb glows dully, sad and naked without a light shade.
I open the door slowly; it creaks loudly as if to warn the occupant of the office that a stranger is entering. He is there, an emperor in a small seaside town. He waves his thin, bony fingers dismissively at me without looking up. He is typing quickly and has the telephone trapped between his head and shoulders whilst he squeaks quickly into it. I hold my breath; it must be a news breaking story.
“Right, Vera – I’ll pick my bacon sandwich up at twelve if you can have it ready, you cheeky minx,” says Pimple. I am not sure what has shocked me the most – his high pitched voice or the fact that he sees Vera from the Drowning Fish Café as a cheeky minx, whatever that means. He carries on stabbing the machine. It whirrs and clicks in a strangled, tinny fashion, almost as if protesting about Pimple’s fingers prodding it at ten miles an hour.
After what seems like a lifetime to a boy desperate to speak, I realise that he has forgotten about me. I am not sure what to do. Should I go out and come back in again, thereby announcing myself? It’s a bit difficult, because if I open the door it will creak, he will look up and he will think that I am leaving. Unless, I open the door and pretend that I have just got there. At first, this seems like a good idea but if the handle squeaks when I press it down, the door will still be closed and I will look like a person who has no idea whether he is coming or going. I wish I had my deer stalker with me. If I make the wrong impression on Pimple, he will not do what I want him to do.
“Are you going to stand there forever, boy or have you something to say. Don’t waste my time now. I am a very busy journalist,” he says and rises from his chair. He comes towards me. The bottom of his cardigan swings as he walks. It has a hole in it.
“You are very lucky that I am granting you an audience boy, I am not simply a journalist – I am also the editor of the Groaningsea Gazette. There, I bet I am the most important person you have ever met. Am I boy? Don’t be embarrassed,” he says and hikes himself up on the front of his desk. The sole of his shoe is loose and it flaps as he crosses his legs.
I clear my throat, ready to surprise him with my newsworthy story.
“Of course, I won’t always be in Groaningsea. Oh no! I’m destined for greater things. One of these days, I’ll get a county newspaper,” he sighs extravagantly. “Now what do you want? I’m busy.”
My mouth opens and then closes again. Nothing will come out. I make a decision. I take the large, brown envelope, I’ve borrowed from dad and pull it from under my jacket. I take the photograph out and slap it down into Pimple’s hand. He looks down and frowns.
“So what’s this?” he asks.
“That, Mr Pimple, is a photograph I took at Boris Death’s old house the other day,” I say. Pimple’s normally white face starts to colour and a large lump of dandruff falls onto his shoulder. His cracked lips stretch out across his face. I think he is smiling.
“Is this an exclusive boy?” he asks as he walks behind his desk and sits down.