Queens was a regular shithole.
Spot spat upon the ground beside him as he paused to momentarily take in his surroundings. Puddles littered the expanse of the darkening street he now stood upon, a strange combination of manure and sewage assaulting all of his senses in such a way so as to make him almost retch. But he steadied himself as he noted the boarded up building on the corner ahead of him.
Queens was definitely a dump, but at least now he knew he was in the right place.
He ambled briskly toward his destination, smirking to himself as he thought of his newsie, Rummy's commentary on the neighborhood he now traversed.
"Home of the damned, they call it," Rummy had said with a nervous laugh. "I'm pretty sure it ain't nothin' more than a graveyard, boss. What the hell do ya wanna go there for?"
"I got business there," Spot had cryptically replied, causing Rummy to raise his eyebrows in hesitation. But Spot had patted his second in command on the back before saying, "Don't worry about it. I'll be fine."
Spot's smirk widened as he grasped the golden-tipped head of his cane sturdily in his hand. Of course he would be fine.
He slowed his gait as he came to stand next to the crumbling foundation of what had once been a fairly industrious factory, keeping his eyes open for the boy he was supposed to rendevu with. Recks, they had called him-a smaller boy with dark hair and a round face. He was a regular in the Bronx newsie ranks, but had told Spot to meet him here, in "The Hole" of Queens. He had said there was a package he needed smuggled into Brooklyn, and having heard of Spot's known reputation for being able to get most anything not only done, but done well, he had sought him out specifically. All Spot had been concerned with, however, was the fact that Recks had been willing to pay a very pretty price to get it there.
"Pretty brave of ya to venture into our territory alone, Conlon."
Spot's eyes narrowed as a strange voice echoed within the darkness around him. He squeezed his cane even more tightly within his palm, but remained otherwise unmoved. The speaker clearly knew who he was, had heard of his ascent onto his throne in Brooklyn no doubt, so backing down or cowering was not an option.
"You gonna run away like the Brooklyn rat you are, or are we gonna have to teach ya a lesson first?"
The Brooklyn leader raised his eyebrows, more amused by the threat than anything else. Though slight of build, Spot was a fierce fighter and a master strategist, and he usually had no problem taking on one or two boys by himself in a fight. But when four forms slowly outlined themselves against the dimness, Spot felt his smirk falter somewhat.
"I ain't lookin' for trouble," Spot replied defensively, standing his ground. "I got business here, an' the minute I'm done I'm off to Brooklyn."
The tallest of the boys sneered back at him, his dark eyes empty and his face covered in bruises and dirt as he said, "Well, unfortunately for you, we are lookin' for trouble."
Spot was quick to unsheath his cane from his belt loop but two of the other boys were quicker, one knocking the weapon swiftly from his hands as the other one punched him solidly in the face. Spot faltered to his knees, feeling the blood beginning to trickle from his nose as he grasped around blindly for his cane, finally securing it in his grip once more as he went to stand.
But he was again knocked over by a third boy's solid kick to his gut. The darkness was doing Spot no favors. He could neither see his attackers nor could he study their movements. He was outnumbered, already down, and it was looking to get even worse. Where the fuck was Recks?
But as two of the boys picked Spot up and held him open for the tall boy to land several solid punches to his gut, all five of the group looked up at the sound of a shrill whistle piercing the night.
"Oy!" A loud, strangely gruff voice bellowed. "Police! You boys are comin' with me!"
Spot's eyes searched the darkness for the man in uniform but still could see nothing clearly. However, the boys beside him took quick note of the impending lawman as the tall one hissed, "Shit! It's the bulls! Scram, fellas!" And with that, they dropped Spot onto the dirt beneath them and scattered away into the night.
Spot closed his eyes as he hugged his sore abdomen, angry at himself for being foolish enough to believe that Recks would really come through in the first place. Now, not only had he gotten the shit beaten out of him, but he was about to get a one way ticket to a night or two in jail. If he was lucky.
"Are you okay?"
Spot's eyes popped open at the sudden feminine voice that whispered close to his ear. And upon looking above him he met a pair of dark brown eyes. The girl knelt over him, her long brown hair falling in messy waves over her shoulder, a splattering of freckles across her nose and forehead, and a kind smile on her mouth.
"Yeah," Spot replied after a moment's pause. "Just wasn't expectin' to get jumped in the shittiest neighborhood in Queens tonight. Are the coppers still around?"
With that the girl smiled widely, chuckling to herself as she said, "I figured that was the fastest way to make them scatter. There's usually no one around these parts."
Spot nodded, squinting in almost awe at the girl as she offered him her hand and said, "Spot Conlon, I presume?"
He nodded, taking her hand and standing slowly up next to her. He dusted himself off as he looked her over-worn skirt, somewhat stained shirt, a girl of probably no more than 16 but certainly younger than his 17 years of age.
"Yeah," he finally replied, picking up his cane and returning it to his belt loop. "And you are?"
"The package you're supposed to be delivering to Brooklyn I believe."