Remember what I was saying about characterisation? How my main characters don’t really seem to be coming alive right now but the peripheral ones most certainly are. It’s a really bad balancing problem that seems to mainly be affecting the Mother right now. She’s just floating around the town trying to come to terms with her daughter going missing. I really need to add some bulk to her description also.
Here, as a contrast of sorts, is the opening of Chapter 9 which gives a proper introduction to the guy who runs the local shop.
‘Robert adjusted his glasses to get them straight again on the bridge of his nose. He had only been in one fight in his life and it had ended with a direct, square smack to his face. The had fallen backwards with the impact and been forced to visit the local hospital to have them snap his nose back into place. Robert had worn glasses since he was young and blamed every ill fitting pair on this one incident.
He lugged the great pile of newspapers from outside the front door towards the shelves at the front of his shop. The thin, wire like string dug into his fingers leaving him with red marks across his knuckles. Slowly he began to empty the papers out to the dusty shelves. This gave him the ideal opportunity to look at the front page headlines of the local press. Another sheep lost and more arguments at the local council. His eyes rolled upwards in disgust. People would still come in a buy it as some kind of unspoken duty, read it for two minutes and keep it under the sink in case they need to wrap anything for the post.
Robert expected the same list of people in the building today at the exact same times they were usually here. There would be the early risers, coming down the hill on bicycles before propping them up outside and coming in for the usual chat. They would talk about the weather, who had moved in to the town lately, how many fish the boats were carrying back in each morning and possibly a short while discussing the local football team and how they should certainly be signing a striker to set the foundations for their rise up the ranks of Scottish football. He’d go through this pattern about four or five times each morning in the same order of people. Sometimes they’d branch off depending on what had happened to them on the way here but, from experience, Robert found that it was difficult for anything of note to happen to anybody who woke up at that time of morning.
He wandered over to the door and flipped the sign over. Sure enough, after a few moments, the first bike was propped up alongside the outside wall of the shop and the first customer came wandering in.
“Yes, the weather is lovely isn’t it?”
“Well maybe a little too warm”.
“At least it’s not snow”.
“Plenty haddock out there now?”
“Probably a striker so we can score some goals”.
They would then merrily march out of the shop, newspaper under the arm and bag of tobacco in hand. Then they would be replaced five minutes afterwards with somebody else who would have the same conversation with a different jacket on.
Yet Robert loves the regularity of it. He just about knew everybody’s names in this town and the continual stream of standard talk made the moment when somebody would lean across the counter and whisper ‘I didn’t tell you this but…’ all the sweeter. The Church might have been on the other side of the harbour but most people would come in and admit their sins to him. Also, the Church didn’t sell beer.’
Now why the hell can’t I do that with them all?