"Extry! Extry! Trolley strike drags on!" David called out. Jack came up next to him, harking another headline.
"Extry! Extry! Ellis Island in flames!" Jack shouted and a couple of New Yorkers had flung money at him. David looked towards him in bewilderment. How on earth did he do that?!
"Woah wait, where's that?" David inquired. Jack pulled another paper. "Page nine." he said. "Terrified flight of inferno! Thousands of lives at stake!" A couple of more customers handed him money.
David flipped to page nine and read the headline. "Trash fire next to immigration building terrifies seagulls'?" David was in shocked. This was complete rubbish, it wasn't even true!
David gave Jack a less than pleased looked and Jack just grinned smugly, causing David to roll his eyes.
"Terrified flight of inferno! Thousands of lives at stake! Extra! Extra….Thank you, sir."
David gave Jack a less than pleased look, and Jack responded with a shrug and eyebrow pop.. Les ran in from the back of the crowd, eyes bright.
"A'right, ya start in tha back like a told ya?" Les nodded quickly.
"Okay, show me again." Les pulled a pathetically sad face, and coughed weakly. "Buy me last pape, mistah?" he wheezed. Jack chuckled and grinned triumphantly.
"It's heartbreakin'. Go get 'em!" He ruffled his hair a bit before he scampered off to sell his papers. David gave Jack a disapproving scowl.
"My father taught us not to lie," he told apprehensively. Jack rolled his eyes and grabbed another paper.
"Yeah, well mine taught me not to starve. So we both got an education." He started to walk away, shouting more headlines.
"You're just making things up…all these headlines." Jack stopped, sighing in fustration. David clearly wasn't understanding this game.
"I don' do nothin' tha guys who write it don' do. Anyway, it's not lyin', it's just improvin' tha truth a little." He finished with another shrug just as Les ran up to them after pushing past a few people.
"The guy gave me a quarter! Quick, gimme some more last papers!" Les's eyes were wide with excitement, the adrenline of lying for money clearly went to his head. David got a waft of alcohol and looked down at Les, grabbing him and sniffing again.
"Wait, wait…You smell like beer."
"Well, that's how I made the quarter," Les said as if it were plain facted. "The guy bet me I wouldn't drink some." David looked back at Jack, already plotting how he was gonna murder this boy.
"'Ey, no drinkin' on the job. It's bad for business."Jack chuckled, finding it amusing rather than a crime. It wasn't uncommon for kids his age to drink in the streets. Race was probably 8 or 9 when he had his first beer but Jack could see the concerned look in his eyes and huffed, seeing as how he had to act somewhat grown up to the young one. "An' what if somebody called tha cop on ya?" Jack asked Les, knowing the mere mention of the police would put a small amount of fear in him.
David glanced away and saw someone watching them. He had white hair underneath his black hat, and he was dressed in a suit. He wore a disgustingly smug smile on his face. David tapped Jack on the shoulder.
"Is he a friend of yours?" he asked, pointing at the old man. Jack looked towards where David was pointing. His faced flushed away of any trace of color.
"Beat it! It's tha bulls!" He cried, grabbing David by the collar.
"All this over one sip of beer?" Les asked quickly.
Hearts exited the small little bakery with a wicker basket filled with some small delicates. The smell of freshly made pastries made her mouth water and she licked her rosy lips to stop herself from devouring the entire confection. Hearts was asked to deliver these to a wedding planner helping a young couple with the food being served there.
Hearts emerged from the slightly crowded street market onto a less crowded and calm road, smiling and greeting those who said hello. Turning the corner, she noticed a boy, dressed as black as the night. He held a cigar to his lips and a devilish grin. Heart's heart pumped faster and her stomach churned in an uncomfortable way as she passed by him.
Half a block after, Heart felt a pair of eyes burning into her back and when she turned, she saw the night colored boy trailing behind her a mere three feet away. As he sauntered along, two boys had accompanied him, wearing similar clothing choices.
Heart turned back, her eyebrows furrowed and her eyes darted sideways, looking for anymore boys. Up on the rooftops, she noticed a shadowy figure jumping and running along them.
The boys began whistling and catcalling, some even making remarks Heart hadn't heard in years. Her heart pumped faster, fear coursing through her veins, head pounding and reeling and the realization of who these boys were. Heart saw that just a couple of blocks down was the wedding planner's shop and in a fight or flight syndrome, Heart took flight, breaking into a sprint for the shop.
The boys whooped and hollered the lead boy starting to run turned towards the others. "Looks like we got a runner!" The boys cheered and all three broke into a sprint for Heart.
Heart's breathing became irregular, lungs burning and her muscles ached as she dashed down the street, getting curious looks from pedestrians nearby. Her blood red skirt kicked and tangled aroundher legs, making her stumble and lose speed. She looked back, seeing the boys becoming dangerously close to her and she pulled her skirt up in order to help her gain more speed.
A man with a horse drawn buggy trotted into Heart's path and her sudden stop caused the horse's to become spooked and kick her front legs in defense. She gasped, narrowly avoiding collision but was receiving a distant mouthing from the driver of the buggy.
Heart barreling through the shop's door and shut it with a loud slam, her chest heaving up and down in exhaustion. She looked through the window, seeing the three boys skid into a stop a couple of feet in front of the shop. The leader glared at her through the window, cupped his hands around his pink lips and shouted "you can't hide forever!" before calling the boys off and walking away.
Heart ducked away from the window, breathing deep and shallow in order to calm her buzzing nerves. Her brain was reeling with questions that made her head pound even harder and making her breathing become more irregular.
"Can I help you dear?" A young women in a plain blouse and skirt asked Heart. Heart nodded, swallowing the lump in her throat and explained she needed to see the planner. The women nodded and went to retrieve the planner. Heart sat in one of the cushioned chairs, placing a hand to her forehead as the voice of the boy still rang in her ears.
"You can't hide forever!"
Spot had just finished the afternoon paper route, sweat beaded on his forehead, shirt slightly unbuttoned and his sleeves rolled up past his elbows in order to keep him cool from the dreadful heat. The one thing that all newsboys hated was the summer heat. With working all day in the sun, it was pretty easy for one to pass out from heat exhaustion or sweat to death. Not that Spot knew from experience but he had come home sometimes to see three or four of his boys passed out in the bunks upstairs, due to the help of their friends who had seen them hit the pavements like flies.
"Spot!" A loud, high pitch squeal pierced Spot's eardrums and he cringed. Ritz slid right next to him, trying to seductively put her arms around Spot, who shrugged her off. He noticed Nancy and another one of Ritz's cronies following closely behind them.
"I haven't seen you in a while. I miss our time together." Ritz whined rather pathetically. Spot once again had to push her away from him. She clearly wasn't getting the message.
Ritz huffed, her normal flirting tactics were clearly not working on Spot and that frustrated Ritz. Back in the days before Heart came into Spot's world, Ritz was the center of Spot's attention, although unknownst to Ritz, who believe Spot had a romantic affection for Ritz, was extremely wrong. Spot enjoyed the sex and Ritz extreme willingness to sleep with him. He enjoyed watching her follow him around like a lost little puppy but towards the end, even before Heart had came around, he got bored and annoyed at her constant flirting efforts and clinginess. Heart coming around almost seem like a gift from God, in more ways than the first one.
"Whadda want Ritz?" Spot grumbled, trying to put some distance between them. Ritz put on a seductive smirk and drew herself close to him.
"I missed you!" She drew out, her mouth close to his ear. Spot moved his head away, grimacing at the feeling her breath on his neck. "And our time together. What happened to that, Spotty? We use to have so much fun together."
Spot groaned and finally pushed Ritz hard, causing her to stumble and huff. He turned towards her, eyes slitted and growled, "You know what happened."
Spot was referring to what had happened the night Ritz, Nancy and a couple of Ritz's original cronies were banished from the Brooklyn Lodging House. It had been a couple of weeks after Hearts had arrived at the house and Spot and Heart had just begun seeing each other. Ritz, with an increasing jealousy, had finally gotten fed up with Heart and wanted her out. That night, Ritz had started a fight. She started off with some minor insult and next thing Heart knew, Ritz had started a fist fight with the girl. Heart, who was already trained in fighting, had no problem diving right into the fight. That night, after Spot had broken up the fight, he kicked the girls out and banned them from the territory, although they ended up staying in a local girl's home that was notorious for being a whorehouse. Ritz nor Spot had ever forgotten that night.
"Oh Spot, you are still harping on that? I just didn't want to share you, I was always your favorite. How do you think i felt when that tramp-"
"Heart is no tramp!" Spot started, going livid. "She ten times bettah than ya and youse know it."
"But I can give you all the pleasure in the world and you know it. Does that little pute1 know how to give you the same pleasure I gave you? Lets be real Spot, you'll come back to me, you always do." Ritz teased, batting her eyes at him. Spot scoffed.
"Fine." She huffed, crossing her arms over her chest. "If that's the way you feel. But trust me, that little tramp won't be around forever, especially when…"Ritz trailed off, mocking a thinking pose. Spot mentally was laughing because he was surprised Ritz could even think. "Oh I was gonna spoil the surprise!"
Spot glared at Ritz and grabbed her upper arm. Ritz was soaking in the sudden interest Spot was giving her, even if it wasn't the original way she planned. "What ya talkin' bout Ritz?"
"Oh nothing." Ritz faked innocents pulled her arm delicately away from Spot. "I would just keep a look out on that little amoureux.2 . Never know who's around watching." Ritz left Spot in a state of confusion and concern. Spot didn't know what Ritz meant but he was almost positive that it wasn't a good thing.
"My God, what happened?" Was the first thing Jack and David heard when they entered the Jacob household.
"Nothin', mama," David reassured her, kissing her on the cheek. "He's just sleeping."
Mrs. Jacob relieved Jack of the dead weight and carried Les over to the bed, placing him gently under the covers.
"We've been waiting dinner for you," Mr. Jacob told David. "Where have you been?" David handed him the last unsold paper and dumped out all of the money he had made that day.
"You made all this selling newspapers?" David's father looked bemused.
"Well, only half of it is ours," David told him, "This is our selling partner, and our friend Jack Kelly. These are my parents, Esther and Mayer and over there is my sister, Sarah."
Jack looked over at Sarah and was captivated. Sarah was no starlet beauty but the simplicity and girlish aura to her was just enough for Jack to be entranced by her. Sarah, cheeks reddened looked away from Jack in slight embarrsement. She was chastising herself mentally for not looking as presentable as she should have been.
They all sat down to the table, and ate in silence, save the few questions and answers between David and his parents.
"So, from what I saw today, you're boys are a couple of born newsies," Jack told Mayer. "Can I have some more, please?" He asked Sarah as she took his bowl.
"Of course," she replied, sending him a smile.
"So with their hard work and my experience, I figya we can peddle a thousand papes a week an' not even break a sweat," He continued. Mayer was marveled by Jack's news.
"That many?" he asked in amusement.
"Yeah. More when tha headline's good."
"What makes a headline good?" Sarah asked Jack, clearly intrigued.
"Oh ya know like catchy woirds. Like maniac, or corpse..um lovenest or nude." Jack trailed off, staring at Sarah. They looked away from each other after a couple of moment, smiling. "S'cuse me, I think I'm talkin too much."
Mayer smiled, "Sarah? Why don't you go get the cake your mother's been hiding in the cupboard."
"That's for your birthday tomorrow!" Esther cried.
"Well, I've had enough birthdays. This is a celebration."
"I'll get the knife" David offered while Sarah offered to get the plates
"This is only the beginning, papa," David said excitedly. "The longer I work, the more money I'll make."
"You'll only work until I go back to the factory, and then you are going back to school, like you promised," Mayer told him firmly. David froze, an oddly disappointed look on his fac
"Happy birthday, papa," David and Sarah said softly.
"This is going to heal," he announced, patting his busted arm. "And they'll give me my job back. We'll make them." Just then, Les stirred in his bed, but stayed asleep.
"Nude...corspe...buy me pape mistah..." Les said softly. David and Jack looked at each other, bursting into a fit of laughter.
"And what is this, David?" Esther's concondescending, yet playful, voice asked. The two looked down, shoving cake into their faces.