-Chapter 9: Once and for All-
-Jack's point of view-
"Alright, boys, here's how it works. Race, you'll go get the rest of the Newsies. You take the front, Spot Conlon takes the back. Protect them. No one gets left behind. Then, we'll print the pape."
"Jack!" Katherine calls. "This is Darcy-" I spit on my hand and hold it out to shake. Darcy looks at me in disgust, so I wipe my hand on my pants and we shake. "- and this is Bill."
I shake Bill's hand.
"You must be-"
"The son of William Randolph Hearst."
I whistle. "wow, Katherine. You sure got friends in high places."
"Alright!" Says Darcy, "let's get to work!"
Bill, Katherine, and he start working on the press. Race leads the other newsies in, including Talia. I hug her, because I'm still very protective of her after the Refuge incident. I don't want to be seperated from her again any time soon.
"Should I make a speech or something?" I whisper to Spot after we shake hands.
"Probably," he whispers back. "Hey, what's the deal with your co-head? The pretty boy."
"Oh, he's fine. Pulitzer blackmailed both of us with the same thing. I bluffed my way out of it, but Finnick isn't the best liar. It could've very well been me. I was tempted." I admit. I turn to everyone in the cellar. "Newsies of New York!" I call to get everyone's attention, except for those working on the printing press. "Look at what we've done. Look at what we've accomplished," I can't continue. I've never been good at making speeches. The one during the strike was the only exception. Finnick understands and takes over.
"There's change coming once and for all, guys! We made the front page, and man, we is major news."
"Tomorrow," interrupts Davey. "They'll see what we are, and we didn't come this far to lose."
It takes about a half hour for all the papers to print. Davey, Spot, Finnick, and I pass out packages of papes. Once we all get one, I yell over them,
"There's change coming once and for all. You're getting too old and too weak to keep holding on. A new world is coming for you, and Joe, we is to, until once and for all, you're gone." So maybe I'm not too bad at the whole speech thing.
We run out into the streets, passing out the papers to everyone who will take them. Then, Davey, Spot, Finnick and I (it's always the four of us, isn't it?) March up to Pulitzer's office. I don't even bother to ask to come in. I just run in with some guy trailing after me, yelling "you can't just barge in here!" Which makes me smile.
"Morning, gents!" I slap the pape down on Joe's desk.
"You!" He shouts, outraged. I see Finnick, Davey and Spot pushed their way through the door, too.
Pulitzer turns to Finnick.
"We had a deal!"
"And it came with a money back guarantee!" Finnick flips me a sad of bills, which I set down next to the paper.
"Oh, and thank you for your lesson on the powers of the press," I say as I sit in one of the chairs, swinging my legs over the armrest.
"Who disobeyed my direct orders and printed strike material?"
"Oh, but we're your faithful employees. We'd never take our business elsewhere."
"The old press in the cellar!" Says Hannah, smiling madly.
I hear singing and gesture for them to follow me to the window. We look out and see all the newsies of New York singing that song Davey sang at the strike. Now is the time to seize the day. Stand down the odds and seize the day. Minute by minute, that's how you win it. We will find a way. Let us seize the day.
"Look around, Mr. Pulitzer. We've got you surrounded." Spot says, taking off his hat. (did anyone else notice how often he did that?)
"You can't even leave your office," says Davey.
"Mr. Pulitzer! The mayor is here along with your daughter and - oh, you'll never guess who else!"
Katherine, the mayor, Medda Larkin, Talia, and Theodore Roosevelt enter the office.
"Joseph, Joseph, Joseph, what have you done now?" The governor asks, disdain clear in his voice. "I heard all you did, graphics illustrations included. When showing approval, I tend to use the phrase 'bully,' but in your case, I simply mean," - he shoves my drawings at Pulitzer - "Bully." He glances at me. "Is this the artist?" Katherine nods.
"I'm told we once shared a carriage ride! Good job, kid."
"Mr. Kelly," Pulitzer states. "if I could have a word with you in private."
Hannah applauds me before leaving. Katherine gives me a hug. Finnick says "get him to eat our losses," before leaving.
"Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground." The governor whispers. I nod.
"I can't put the prices back, I'm sorry, I can't." He says.
"I get it, Joe. I'm young, but I ain't stupid." I yell over himonce he starts to protset.
"I can reduce the price raise by half. It's a compromise we can all live with."
"But, you eat our losses." I say, using Finnick's words. "Every pape we can't sell, you buy back."
"That was never on the table. What's to stop Newsies from taking hundreds of papers they can't sell?"
"No Newsie is going to break their back hauling around papes they can't sell. But, if they can take a few extra without risk, then your circulation will begin to grow!" I pause before mimicking him, "it's a compromise we can all live with!"
We stand in silence for a few minutes.
"That's a good head you've got on your shoulders." He says. I spit on my hand.
"That's just the price of doing business."
Joe spits on his own and and we shake. The deal has been sealed.
-A few minutes later-
"Newsies of New York!" I call, "we won!" The Newsies cheer. I even see Race kiss Talia, which causes me to raise an eyebrow. "And now, let me introduce you to my personal pal, Governor Theodore Roosevelt himself!" They cheer again. While he's giving a speech about equality and prosperity, I climb down and nudge Talia.
"So, you like Race, huh?"
"Yeah. He's really cute and funny." I nod, thinking over that. Finally, I motion Race over.
"Be good to my sister, okay? She's only fifteen and you're two years older, but that doesn't matter. I swear, if you hurt her, I will beat you so hard your mother will bleed." I threaten.
"Sorry to break it to you, pal, but it doesn't work that way."
"Race, I'm not kidding."
Race winces. "Fine. I promise!"
I nod, satisfied. Then, Finnick yells,
"Jack, look! It's Crutchie!"
I turn and see Crutchie limping towards me. "Hey fellows! You missed me?"
We all say that yes, we did. I run forward and hug him.
"Are you okay?" I ask, trying to keep the grin off my face.
"I'm fine, but look what I brought you straight from the Refuge!"
Two police men pull Snyder over to us.
"Jack, thanks to your drawings, Snyder's abuses will be investigated. Gentlemen, take him away!" Roosevelt says
"Wait, your highness! May I do the honors?" Crutchie asks. I don't even bother to correct the title he used for Roosevelt. He sends him off to prison with a smack from his crutch.
Pulitzer fires Gordon and declares that you can quit your position as a Newsie at any point. He also offers me a job illustrating the World.
"What are you going to do now?" I ask Finnick.
"Johanna and I are going to retire. Move out of the city and further south. Maybe Pennsylvania or Maryland. Maybe even Virginia. Katniss is coming with us. You?"
"With the strike settled, I should probably be hitting the road."
Finnick frowns at me. "I don't get it. What's Santa Fe got that New York ain't? Tarantulas?"
"Or better yet," Katherine says, having overheard the conversation, " what's New York got that Santa Fe ain't?"
"New York's got us," says Crutchie, "and we're family."
I look up at the clouds before looking back at Katherine.
"For as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to go to Santa Fe. But now my eyes is finally open and I ain't got nothing if you ain't with me."
I kiss her and for the first time ever, neither of us pull away. I guess I'm a Newsie again. Now and forever, I'll be carrying the banner.