7:54 a.m. – I peek at the clock and see the first digit is a 7. No self-respecting newspaper reporter wakes up at such an ungodly hour, so I roll back over. In the process, I disturb my cat, Deadline, who is sleeping on my legs. He repositions himself, annoyed that he might only get 21.9 hours of slumber – well short of his required 22.
9:03 – Okay, now it’s time.
9:18 – Having showered and shaved, I stand before my closet, selecting a striped white shirt, khaki pants and a blue tie. A little too bold, you say? You’re right. I replace the striped shirt with a plain white one.
9:23 – For the record Lucky Charms are magically delicious. And they – along with the day’s first Coke Zero – provide a perfect accompaniment to my reading of that morning’s edition of my newspaper, the Newark Eagle-Examiner.
10:07 – I arrive at the newsroom. Everyone looks sleepy. I hit the vending machines for another Coke Zero.
11:37 – I’m not exactly sure where the last hour-plus has gone. E-mail. Gabbing with colleagues. Aimless Web-surfing. But now it’s time to look busy. The 11 a.m. editor’s meeting is about to let out. I start kicking the ball ahead what we in the business call a BBI – Boring But Important. It’s a piece about a local water authority that runs its operation with approximately the same degree of transparency and honesty as an Afghani warlord.
1:00 – Tommy Hernandez, our resident gay Cuban intern, suggests lunch. I am soon seated before two steaming slices of Jersey pizza – which is only the best in the world – and my third Coke Zero.
2:27 – Afternoon doldrums. Coke Zero Number Four. Slogging through my latest Open Public Records Act request from the water authority.
3:22 – This is the thing about BBI’s: sometimes they turn a lot less boring. Included in the documents from the water authority is a $45,000 no-bid contract to a company called “KW, Inc.” for “infrastructure improvements” to an address on Wyndemere Avenue in Ridgewood that, to the best of my knowledge, is not among the water authority’s properties.
3:24 – That’s because, yeah, it’s the home address of one of the water authority commissioners. I immediately head out to my Malibu, hitch it up, and urge it north toward Ridgewood.
3:57 – Nice place, the commissioner has. And, oh, look at that, there’s a truck outside with “Kitchen Wizards” painted on the side. Hauling out my phone, I check the address for Kitchen Wizards, and it turns out to match the “KW, Inc.” from the no-bid contract. Just in case it’s not clear: Yes, the commissioner has arranged himself a new kitchen, courtesy of the water authority.
7:12 – I’m going to skip the details of the last few hours, because they get a little tedious – I just don’t find being threatened with libel suits all that interesting anymore. Point is, I’ve got documents. I’ve got photographs. I’ve got the commissioner nailed. With the paper’s lawyers satisfied, Harold Brodie, our executive editor, okays a front page story. I start writing.
8:23 – My direct editor and sometime love interest, Tina Thompson – it’s a long story, one that involves her wanting me to be her sperm donor daddy – begins hovering over my shoulder in a not-so-subtle effort to get a glimpse of my lede.
8:37 – More hovering.
8:42 – I inform her she’ll only see it when I’m good and ready.
8:43 – She informs me I will be good and ready at precisely 9 o’clock, or I will be reassigned to write an expose on the Sussex County Future Farmers of America.
9:00.58 – I hit the button and send the story to Tina.
9:34 – The copy desk invites me to participate a brief but vigorous debate about the spelling of Wyndemere Avenue – am I sure it’s not “Windemere” Avenue? – that ends when I point two things: 1) Yes, I’m sure; and 2) They’ve misspelled the commissioner’s name in a headline.
10:02 – With the first edition to bed, Tina begins her usual attempts to get me to bed. She suggests a beer to celebrate my scoop. Okay, I say chastely, but just one.
10:54 – Make that two.
11:23 – Three.
11:54 – Who’s counting anyway?
12:15 – I manage to politely escape, citing the needs of my long-ignored cat and my desire not to give my family tree a new branch.
12:38 – I arrive home and slip into bed, bumping into Deadline who, I swear, is in the exact same place where I left him 15 hours ago. But that’s okay. He needs his rest.
Meet the author
Brad Parks is a winner of the Nero Award and the Shamus Award. His latest book, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, just released from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books. For more Brad, sign up for his newsletter http://www.bradparksbooks.com/newsletter.php, like him on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.
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