Racetrack Higgins, a street smart, wise-ass, Manhattan newsie, who loved nothing more than a good bet, well actually, there is at least one thing he loves more. Italian cooking, there's nothing like the stuff. But, since a newsie doesn't make much money real Italian food is hard to come by, so are girls. What do those two things have to do with each other, you ask? Well Race, that sly dog, found a way to get both. Ooo I feel a story comin' on!
A Nori story
-THE QUICKEST WAY TO A MAN'S HEART-
Racetrack walked out of the circulation center talking to Kid Blink and Mush.
"Chyou tink ya lucky horse'll win ta day?" Mush asked.
"A'course!" Race said, enthusiastically. "It'sa sure thing!"
All the newsies rolled their eyes, and said "sure, Race. Sure."
Racetrack walked glumly through the Brooklyn, his "sure thing" turned out to be a dud. Race was muttering about "stupid horse" and "bum ridda", when he heard the sound of men laughing and a girl's grunting. He turned down the ally the noise was coming from. He saw the sight of three drunken men holding on to a struggling girl.
Now while he's no knight, Race considered himself a gentleman, so when he saw a, yeah I'll say it, "damsel in distress" he ran into action. Grabbing a pipe from the ally way, he lunged at the men. So it wasn't a fair fight, I just said that he wasn't a knight (Dude! That rhymed!). Three swings of the pipe and the men were down. Race glanced around the ally for the girl. He found her looking at him in awe.
"Chou O.K.?" he asked, in a concerned voice.
She shook herself, and then pulled herself up.
"Yes, but why did you do that? You'll get yourself killed if you jump in to every fight you see!"
"Well, no need to be grateful of nuttin'!" He said, huffily, angry that this girl was rude after what he just did. The fact that he had a bad day at the races didn't help.
He began to walk away, when he heard the girl call from behind him.
"Wait," She called, grabbing his shirt sleeve. "Look, I'm sorry I just had a ruff day. Please, I do want to thank you for your act of bravery, even if it was stupid." she finished with a smile.
Race was just now able to see her well, and was somewhat shocked by her beauty, she had long black wavy hair, and HUGE brown eyes, sweet pink lips that now smiled at him. That smile made Race forget about the rudeness and his loss at the races. In fact the races were the farthest thing from his mind at the moment. Now if that ain't true love I don't know what is!
"You're a newsie aren't ya?"
"Well how about this my family owns a restaurant on the west side of Manhattan, if you or any of your friends ever need a place to meet, or a place to hid, or just some food, come by after closing and tell them that you're a friend of Maria's. How's that for grateful?" she smiled again.
"Dat's real nice but chou don't 'ave ta do dat."
"No, I want to. Now I'll be off."
"I'll walk you home."
"Thank you…um..you didn't say your name."
"Dey call me Racetrack."
The rest of the walk was quiet, and when Race and Maria to her families' restaurant/apartment they said goodbye.
As he turned to leave Race asked, "What type of restaurant is it?"
"Italian, what else?"
When Race walked in to the bunk room he bumped into Boots.
"Well?" Boots asked. "Didja win?"
Race smiled and thought of Maria.
"You know what, Boots? I think I may have."
The next day, the Manhattan newsies were going to meet Spot and some others at Tibby's, so why aren't they in there? Because on the door hung a large sign that said "TO BE DEMOLISHED"
"What da 'ell is dis?" Spot asked. "Some kinda joke?"
"No," said old man Tibby. "We'se shuttin' down, sorry boys."
"Why?" Jack asked.
"Ran outta money," the old man said "why else?"
"We'se real sorry," Race said, sadly. "You and ya place did a lot for the strike, chou gots our gratitude."
Old man Tibby smile at the boys, shook hands and said good bye.
"Well," Kid Blink started. "Here we are, in front of some condemned restaurant and I's starved! Were do we go now?"
Jack looked around. "I don't know boys, who's gonna wanna buncha newsies inder restaurant?"
Race looked thoughtfully to the ground for a second.
"Actually," Race said, looking to Jack and Spot. "I think I may know somebody"
KNOCK, KNOCK KNOCK!
"You sure 'bout dis, Race?" Jack asked.
It was eight o'clock at night, and the restaurant looked closed, but Racetrack insisted that they were welcome here.
Just then a boy, about 9 or 10, opened the door, looking almost as shocked as Spot.
"Breadbasket?!" Spot exclaimed.
"Sp-sp-spot?" The boy stuttered out.
"Chou know 'im?" Jack asked.
"Yeah, 'ese me best runna. Watcha doin' here?" Spot asked.
"Me folks own da place, watchou doin' 'ere?"
"That's how you always have extra bred! That's been buggin' me foh yees(years)!"
"Great foh you." Breadbasket said sarcastically. "But that don' answer me question."
"Me boy, Race, here gots connection." Spot said smugly, patting Racetracks back.
B.B.(Breadbasket) looked at Race hard.
"Nevva seen 'im befoh." B.B. said.
"I's a friend of Marias," Race said as a tall man who looked about twenty came to the door. As soon as he heard that he yelled something in Italian into the restaurant, not mad yelling, but yelling all the same. So by now, in between Race not being recognized and the yelling Italian man, the newsies were getting nervous.
Just then a girl with dark hair, tannish skin and a smile that could light up Manhattan walked up to the door, also speaking Italian.
"Maria," came Racetracks relieved greeting, for he to had been getting worried.
"Hello, Race," Maria said with a smile, not a flirty smile, just a sweet innocent smile. "Are you here to take me up on my offer?"
"Yep," he answered.
"That was fast," she said, then she turned back to the man and fired off some more Italian words, after a few moments Maria turned back to the boys.
"Anybody hungry?" she asked, opening the door wide, to invite them in.
The boys went through the door and were greeted by the smell of pasta, ziti, raviolis, garlic bred, linguini and clam sauce and too many others to name. Maria brought them to the kitchen and lade down the law.
"You can have any left over, lick any bowl or spoon, just don't make to big a mess, don't make to much noise, and don't get in my way when I make my bred, kepis(CA-peesh, I think…)?"
No one answered for a moment finely Snipeshooter said "Yes…?"
Maria smiled, sighed and said "You say "kipsie" (CA-peesh-ee, again, I think..). Alright that's all enjoy your first meal at Gorettis."
Once everyone was munching on some thing, Jack and Spot started to talk about the Bronx, Queens war. Maria was kneading bred, talking to Kid Blink, Mush and Race. The smaller boys were shoving as many leftover pastries in there mouths as possible. All in all, it was a really good night. When the newsies began to leave Maria told them to come back when ever.
Race was the last out, when he got to the door he took off his hat and began to thank Maria.
"Thank you, Maria, chou did me a big favor."
She smiled and told him, "If you hadn't saved me I couldn't have done anything for any one, it's me who should be thanking you."
Race looked like he wanted to say more but he just smiled and told her that he would see her tomorrow.
Maria looked around the kitchen and smiled to herself. *He's so sweet* she thought to herself. *and cute too*
~you like him~ said a voice in her head.
*WHAT?! I do not!*
~you do so.~
*I do not!*
~you do so!~
"Hey," a voice said from the stairs.
Maria looked to the steps and saw her brother, the man who was yelling at the door, standing at the bottom.
"What?" Maria asked.
"I saw that." Alfonso(her brother) said, smiling.
"Saw what," she said, trying to act innocent.
"You like him"(you can see where this one is going)
"Little sister, believe it or not, I know how to tell when a girl likes a boy, I've seen it on all of our sisters' faces. And now I can see it on yours. So I tell you this with the utmost certainty, do so."
Not knowing how to respond to that Maria just muttered "do not" and went up to bed.
Next mourning, market place
Maria was picking up some fabric for a new dress when she heard a familiar voice.
"WILD DOG ON THE LOSE, MAYER FEARS FOR CITY!"
It was Race.
She walked over to the yelling boy.
"Hi, Race," she said with a smile.
"Buy me last pape, lady?" he said, grinning.
"Gladly" she said, smiling.
"Hey" Race said. "I meant to ask you something last night but I forgot to, would you mind meeting me after I finish sellin'?"
"Where do you want to meet?"
"Hmm…how about central park?"
"I'll be there."
Maria was sitting on a bench in central park, watching the sunset(we're not at the end yet, so don't get your hopes up), enjoying the spring air when Race got to her.
"Hi, Race, what did you want to ask me?"
"If you would um…like to have dinner…with me? I mean, I know we had dinner last night, but I would like to have dinner with just you."
Maria smiled and suppressed laughter as Race stumbled over his words, but managed to answer seriously.
"I would love too, Race," she said. "And I know the perfect place."
The following night
Race was nervous. That's right, Anthony "Racetrack" Higgins, was nervous. He had never liked a girl as much as he liked Maria and now he was going to have a date with her. Okay so neither of them had said "officially" that it was a date, but it was implied, and that was enough for him.
Race finished getting ready and was looking pretty good. He was wearing his black slacks, freshly cleaned, his best shirt, vest and his fathers pocket(I don't know if the pocket was really his father's). He had managed to get out of the lodging house without anyone asking where he was going and was on his way to pick up Maria. She had refused to tell him where they where they were going and it was itching at his curiosity.
When Race made it to Gorettis it was almost dark and he was STARVING. He knocked on the back door and waited for an answer.
Maria's little brother Breadbasket(Enzo) answered the door.
"Hey," Breadbasket said. "Maria said you were comin'. Alfonzo wanted to talk to you (Oh no! the dreaded "Big Brother" talk! I have four brothers so I'm ready for this one!)."
Racetrack remembered Maria mentioning that the man at the door was her older brother he just hadn't been prepared for any sort of interrogation. GULP!
Breadbasket led Race to his older brother and sat down to watch the fun.
"Racetrack," Alfonzo started. "I do hope you plan on tacking good care of my little sister."
"Of course," Race said, as confidently as one could in this situation.
"You better," Breadbasket, not wanting Alfonzo to have all the fun. "I got some good friends in Brooklyn, if you get my gist."
"ALFONZO! ENZO! I know you're not threatening Racetrack." Maria said, sternly.*insert sister death glare here*
The two boys jumped up and began to defend themselves.
"We weren't going to do anything!" Enzo cried out.
"You weren't." Alfonzo inserted.
"We just want to protect you, and Alfonzo said-" at this point Alfonzo had slapped his hand over Enzo/Breadbasket/B.B.'s mouth(is it just me, or does this kid have a lot of names), and smiled, innocently. But, alas, Maria had cot it, and moved in for the kill.
"And what did our dear, darling big brother say?" *Vulcan eyebrow*
Enzo was cornered. He had to either side with his big brother and not tell or side with his big sister and tell. Either way someone was kicking his ass tomorrow, so he might as well side with the person who gives him food.
"He said: we have to make sure this jack ass-no offense Race- doesn't hurt Maria."
Maria looked at Alfonzo with a look that would have made Attila the Hun running.
"Alfonzo, you have two minutes to explain to me why you thought it was a good idea to threaten my date(HA! She said date, you heard her!).
Alfonzo, not one to back down from a fight, looked in her eyes and said "for the reason exact same reason, Giancarlo, Fabrizio(married older brothers) and I threaten Bianca's, Carina's and Miuccia's(married older sisters) dates, I want to protect you."
Race thought that this was a good to jump in.
"Alfonzo," Race began. "I wouldn't do any thing to hurt your sister. If I wanted to hurt her I would have done it when I found her in that ally."
Ooh, bad move on Race's part.
"You found her in an ally." Alfonzo's voice was deadly serous.
"Yeah," Maria said nervously. "I forgot to mention that detail."
Race looked from Alfonzo's half calm half furious to Maria's nervous smile, then whispered to Maria: "If we run really fast, we may be able to get away."
Maria smiled and began to walk out slowly, Race following closes behind. They almost made it out when Alfonzo said: "We're talking about this when you get home."
Maria signed and nodded. Then turned to Race and smiled grabbing a wicker basket.
"Come on; let's go be for he changes his mind."
Top secret location (It's a surprise :D)
Race and Maria walked for half an hour before Maria said they were almost there.
"So why was your brother so freaked out?" Race asked.
"Well," Maria said, signing. "Alfonzo has always felt that he needed to protect everyone. And when our dad died, his need to protect us went in to over drive(please excuse my use of modern terminology!)."
"Oh, that makes since, I suppose."
"And since we're playing Twenty Questions (there goes my modern terminology again), I get to ask you a some thing. When did you become a Newsie?"
"I was about…hmm…eight."
"So you were Enzo's age, okay your turn."
"Why dose your little brother have an accent, when the rest of your family doesn't?"
"He doesn't, well not really. He fakes it."
"Because if people think you're from a good family, they won't buy papers from you."
"That's true," he said, nodding. "Alright, your turn."
"It would be if we weren't here."
"This is it?" he asked, looking at the empty lot in front of him. It took him a moment to realize that they had walked in a big circle. They were at the back lot of Gorettis, which was decked out with a big turned over wine cask for a table(think the spaghetti scene from the Lady and the Tramp and no I'm not going to do that). Sitting down, Maria put down her wicker basket and began to unpack it.
"Yep, this is it."
"I don't want to sound rude, but why here? And if we were going to be here, why didn't you just tell your brother?"
"I didn't tell my brother because you said that you wanted to have dinner, just the two of us." she said this not sounding angry or irritated; she just sounded like she was explaining something that was important to her. "And as for why we are here, this is where my parents had there first date."
"Should I assume that there are expectations here?" He said, grinning.
"No," Maria said, with a laugh. "I just always loved the story."
"No, you wouldn't want to hear it, it would be far to mushy for you."
"I want to hear it."
"Fine," she said, with a sign. "But don't say I didn't warn you. When my parents were a little older than me they didn't know each other very well. They saw each other at church and around town, but they didn't interact; but one day when my mother was walking home she saw her younger brother; who was a newsie, by the way; in a fight. She looked around for someone who would help. That's when my father came. When he saw her looking around franticly he knew that she needed help so he dropped what he was doing and ran over to her. With help my uncle made it out of the fight with nothing besides a black eye; my father got the worst of it, two cracked ribs, a split lip and a gash on the head, which isn't that bad considering it was seven against two." She said the last bit smiling. "He and my uncle would always exaggerate about how many guys there were,*sigh* were was I?"
"Not bad for seven against two." Race answered, actually enjoying the story.
"Oh, yes. Well after the fight was over my mother insisted that my father come to her with her to make sure he wasn't hurt to badly and maybe get something to eat. They got to know each other while my mother cleaned his cuts, became good friends and one day my father asked if she wanted to go out, as a date, so when they went on there date. My mother decided to make dinner and the rest is history. The funny thing is my dad always said that he fell in love with mom that night, half because she was the most wonderful, beautiful woman that ever lived and half because she happens to be the best cook he had ever met."
"That's a good story," Race said.
"Alright, I told you about my family, your turn."
"There's not much to tell," Race said, with a sigh. "My father left me and my mother when I was three, and she died when I seven."
Maria's eyes softened and she took his hand nervously and looked in to his eyes.
"Do you remember her much?" She asked.
"Not a lot, the one thing I remember most is on my sixth birth day she made me spinach alfedo lasagna, to this day I've never had a better meal."
Maria's eyes were big and she looked worried.
"Speaking of expectations," she muttered.
"What?" He asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Look in the basket." She stated simply.
Race stooped down to the basket and pulled out a covered dish, a strong smell arising from it. Spinach alfredo lasagna.
Race took the dish out gently, as if it would disappear. They ate in silence for almost half an hour, then Race got up from his make shift bench and knelt in front of Maria and looked intensely in to her eyes. Maria was some what shocked by the fact that Race was there staring.
"Uh…Ra-" she was cut off by Race kissing her.
Should I stop him? She thought to herself. No, said the other side of her mind. Okay, you're the boss.
Alfonzo sighed as he looked out the back window. A slight bitter, sweet smile on his face. Bitter, because he knew he just lost his last sister, sweet because he gained a brother.
Enzo had just walked in to the room when his brother let out a small chuckle.
"What's so funny?" He asked.
Alfonzo gestured to the window, where you could see Race and Maria clearly, they were now hugging. Race only had one arm around Maria, the other one was attacking his lasagna.
"What Mom said was true." Alfonzo explained. "The quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach."
Done finally! I've been writing this on and off for like two, three months. I would like to say a quick thanks to my Granny, whose Italian cooking inspired me to write this YOU ROCK GRANNY! Pleas review, I hardly get any and it makes me sad L
Bravo Yankee Echo, Nori