Paper Money

Free Paper Money by Ken Follett

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Authors: Ken Follett
Tags: Fiction, General
afternoon we can sling your piece out and leave a hole in the paper for the real news.”
    “Okay.” Hart turned away and made for the library. He knew he was being given a dumb job as a kind of punishment, but he took his medicine gracefully, Cole thought. He stared at the boy’s back for a moment. He got on Cole’s nerves, with his long hair and his suits. He had rather too much self-confidence—but then, reporters needed a lot of cheek.
    Cole stood up and went to the subeditors’ table. The deputy chief sub had in front of him the wire service story about the passing of the Industry Bill and the new stuff Cole’s reporters had come up with. Cole looked over his shoulder. On a scratch pad he had written:

REBEL MPs TOLD “JOIN THE LIBS”
    The man scratched his beard and looked up. “What do you think?”
    “It looks like a story about Women’s Lib,” Cole said. “I hate it.”
    “So do I.” The sub tore the sheet off the pad, crumpled it, and tossed it in a metal bin. “What else is new?”
    “Nothing. I’ve only just given out the tips.”
    The bearded man nodded and glanced reflexively at the clock hanging from the ceiling in front. “Let’s hope we get something decent for the second.”
    Cole leaned over him and wrote on the pad:

REBEL MPs TOLD “JOIN LIBERALS”
    He said: “It makes more sense, but it’s the same count.”
    The sub grinned. “Want a job?”
    Cole went back to his desk. Annela Sims came up and said: “The Holloway Road incident came to nothing. A bunch of rowdies, no arrests.”
    Cole said: “Okay.”
    Joe Barnard put down the phone and called: “There’s not a lot to this fire, Arthur. Nobody hurt.”
    “How many people living there?” Cole said automatically.
    “Two adults, three children.”
    “So, it’s a family of five escaped death. Write it.”
    Phillip Jones said: “The burgled flat seems to belong to Nicholas Crost, quite a well-known violinist.”
    “Good,” Cole said. “Ring Chelsea nick and find out what was taken.”
    “I did already,” Phillip grinned. “There’s a Stradivarius missing.”
    Cole smiled. “Good boy. Write it, then get down there and see if you can interview the heartbroken maestro.”
    The phone rang, and Cole picked it up.
    Although he would not have admitted it, he was thoroughly enjoying himself.

NINE A.M.

9
    Tim Fitzpeterson was dry of tears, but the weeping had not helped. He lay on the bed, his face buried in the damp pillow. To move was agony. He tried not to think at all, his mind turning away thoughts like an innkeeper with a full house. At one point his brain switched off completely, and he dozed for a few moments, but the escape from pain and despair was brief, and he woke up again. He did not rise from the bed because there was nothing he wanted to do, nowhere he could go, nobody he felt he could face. All he could do was think about the promise of joy that had been so false. Cox had been right when he said so coarsely, “It was the best night’s nooky you’ll ever have.” Tim could not quite banish the flashing memories of her slim, writhing body; but now they had a dreadfully bitter taste. She had shown him Paradise, then slammed the door. She, of course, had been faking ecstasy; but there had been nothing simulated about Tim’s own pleasure. A few hours ago he had been contemplating a new life, enhanced by the kind of sexual love he had forgotten existed. Now it was hard to see any point at all in tomorrow.
    He could hear the noise of the children in the playground outside, shouting and shrieking and quarreling; and he envied them the utter triviality of their lives. He pictured himself as a schoolboy, in a black blazer and short gray trousers, walking three miles of Dorset country lanes to get to the one-class primary school. He was the brightest pupil they had ever had, which was not saying much. But they taught him arithmetic and got him a place at the grammar school, and that was all he needed.
    He had

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