Jesper Jinx is an eleven-year-old boy who happens to be kind of a walking disaster – in the jolly good sense, of course. He is an extraordinary kid with a warm heart, yet he is hopelessly prone to bad luck.
They say he is the unluckiest person in all of Puffington Hill. But I say he is probably the luckiest one. I mean, he is constantly in the middle of something drama-ish. His life is anything but boring.
* * *
Now, before we go any further on this page, let me make it clear to you, dear reader, that I actually have no permission to make the following stuff available to the public. Yet by doing so, I’m breaking at least a zillion promises and moral obligations.
‘What do you mean by that, you silly old scribbler?’
Well, let me explain.
When I first moved to Puffington Hill, an idyllic small town on the south coast of England, I honestly believed I was going to get bored to the point when watching my fingernails grow would be the highlight of my day. When I stepped into this little house overlooking the sea, I actually wanted to get bored. I had decided to take a year off from writing books that no one really bought and read.
I had it all well planned; relocate to a new country, rent a house, buy a comfy sofa, put that sofa on the balcony, eat tons of salty liquorice sweets (or Salmiakki, as we call it in my home country), get bored by doing absolutely nothing but enjoying the view and, very occasionally, strolling up and down a seafront full of joyful old people and seagulls and pebbles.
But then I met Jesper and everything changed.
I literally bumped into him as we both rounded the corner of a local newsagent’s shop from opposite directions. He was holding a can of Coke which came flying up in the air and smashed to the ground, precious fizzy drink spilling all over the pavement.
‘Oi!’ I exclaimed in surprise, taking a quick notice of the boy’s sweat-drenched face and his bare feet. ‘Why are you running like a scared rabbit?’
‘You killed my drink!’ said the boy with messy hair and intelligent blue eyes. ‘Who are you, stranger?’
I told him I was the writer who rented the little house down the road.
‘A writer?’ said the boy, and I nodded. ‘I’m Jesper,’ he continued, and I said, ‘Nice to meet you, Jesper.’ He frowned, chuckling, ‘Are you really a writer?’
I told him I wrote children’s books, and he went, ‘Hmm, hmm, hmmmmm’.
Jesper looked oddly thoughtful when he asked, ‘What kind of children’s books you write?’ I told him I write fiction books, and he sneered and said, ‘That means you’re a professional liar?’ I said, ‘Well, there’s a big difference between telling lies and making up fictional stories’ but he just repeated, ‘You’re a liar!’
I glanced at my watch and told him I was already late and he asked me, ‘Late for what exactly?’ I was getting annoyed and said, ‘I’m late for being bored, so there.’
Jesper lowered his voice, hissing, ‘Being bored is a crime!’ I couldn’t help but burst out laughing.
‘It’s true!’ he said. ‘Have you ever heard about boredom breakers?’
‘No, I guess I haven’t.’
‘I thought you said you were a writer,’ said the boy. ‘Have you lost your imagination?’
Now, I was getting really annoyed.
‘I bet you won’t believe why people call me Jesper Jinx,’ he went on. I disagreed with him, saying, ‘Tell me a true story and I’ll believe you.’ He rose up to his toes and whispered something to my ear.
‘No way!’ I exclaimed, and he shrugged, saying, ‘Obviously, you don’t believe in true stories.’ I said they are hardly ever the interesting ones, and he scowled at me. I continued, ‘Besides, you just told me the biggest lie ever, didn’t you?’
‘No, I did not!’
‘Prove it then,’ I said.
‘I will!’ grunted Jesper. ‘But you must promise not to tell anyone. If my mum and dad find out, they will have me grounded for the rest of my life. If my sister finds out, she will cut me in pieces and feed me to our cat. If my teachers find out, they will have me expelled…’
‘Find out what exactly?’ I smiled to the boy, and he just repeated, ‘You must first promise not to tell anyone!’
‘All right,’ I said. ‘I promise.’
‘Or else!’ he said.
‘Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ I yawned.
And then he said, ‘I’ve done something really naughty.’ I tried to look utterly surprised, saying, ‘Have you?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, something super naughty.’
‘Yeah, like what?’
‘I will tell you everything if you promise to keep your mouth shut. But, in return, I want you to write a book about me, for me, and only me.’
My jaw dropped. ‘Excuse me?’
‘Listen carefully,’ he went on, clearly excited. ‘You killed my trophy-drink, so you owe me one. You will write a book about my amazing true stories, but you will never get my permission to publish it. Got it?’
I mean, what eleven-year-old kid speaks to an adult like that?
* * *
The boy started coming over to my house almost every day. And each day he had a new ‘true story’ to share with me. His stories were absolutely unbelievable. At times even stunningly wicked.At first, I didn’t believe a word he said. But after a couple of weeks, it all began to make sense. I met Jesper’s parents and his best friend, and managed to witness something that made me realise why people called him ‘Jesper Jinx’.
Maybe he wasn’t making up his stories after all. Perhaps he had been telling the truth from the beginning…
So, now that my notebooks are filled with dozens of Jesper’s incredible real-life incidents (and the number is growing each time we meet!) I simply can’t ignore the fact that this boy’s stories must be shared with a wider audience. Even if it means breaking my promise to him.
After all, we’re talking about a boy who must be the unluckiest person alive in the whole of Puffington Hill (I mean, nothing ever seems to go his way, from a curious disappearance of an entire cherry tree from their garden to an incredibly thick fog that once made him get lost on his way to school).
Either that, or he is the luckiest one of us all (I mean, everything he touches always seem to end up in sweet disaster, from accidentally stealing his neighbour’s underwear to mistaking his sister’s diary for a leaflet that should be photocopied and distributed to every household in their neighbourhood).
One might say Jesper Jinx is a part-time hideous daredevil. But I say he’s the coolest kid I’ve ever met in my life. He’s way cooler than any of those make-believe characters that have popped out of my imagination. And it’s not just because he constantly lives up to his nickname. It’s because he’s a real living person!
balcony, Puffington Hill, England