I sat in the stone room, looking anxiously out the barred window. We had a system, but I was still anxious. I started tapping my foot nervously. The guard looked in and told me to quit it, I ignored him. He moved on. They had thrown me in a cell without looking at me, stupid bulls. It was lucky, I told myself. If they had examined me carefully they wouldn't have thrown me into the men's jail. I would've been stuck in the women's facility, which is much harder to break into.
It was almost time. I heard the nearest church bells ring the hour for midnight. Any moment now… I thought. In the distance I heard an extremely loud and obnoxious peal of giggling. Oh no, they let Edge flirt this time? Well, I guess they would have recognized Guil… The guard pacing up and down the row of cells headed toward the sound, wanting to see who the loose floozy was. It always worked like a charm; they never seemed to connect the girly girls to the breakouts. And we're supposed to be the dumb ones.
Guil crept silently up to my cell, holding up the keys she had snatched off the drunken guard at the back of the prison. She unlocked the door and I slipped out. We headed toward the doorway that led to the next room. I knew this prison like the back of my hand. We snuck out the back and waited for Edge to catch up us with on the next block. About ten minutes later, she came striding up, still donning her floozy dress and heavy make-up. Her hair was curled and pinned up. I laughed at the sight of her.
"Shut up." She muttered. She hated wearing dresses: we all did. Guil and I laughed even more. We started to walk down the street. The air was cool in the night in New York. I took a deep breath. Guil playfully punched my arm, and I bit back a scream.
"What's wrong, Mid?" she asked worriedly. I gritted my teeth.
"I think that asshole policeman dislocated my shoulder. I'm having trouble moving it, and it hurts, a lot." I said quietly, not wanting either of them to worry.
Without even having to speak we turned in the direction of Duane Street. If I wanted my arm fixed I needed the only adult I trusted, Kloppman. He ran the Newsboys Lodging House. Our walking was quiet and quick, the only way to travel at night, especially when you were three teenaged girls in New York. It wasn't long before we reached our destination. We stepped inside quickly.
The atmosphere changed instantly. The laughing boys silenced when we stepped inside. At the sight of Edge in her ridiculous getup some wolf whistled, others laughed, knowing she was extremely uncomfortable. The boys greeted us and mostly returned to their card games.
"What can I do for you girls?" Kloppman asked us brightly. I grimaced at him.
"My arm, I think it's dislocated. Could you help me out?" I asked grimly. He nodded earnestly and motioned for me to sit in a nearby chair. I sat, bracing myself for pain. Edge and Guillotine stood nearby, looking worried, they knew how I felt about pain, and how I dealt with it, which was not very well.
"What happened?" Kloppman asked me, as he kneeled beside the chair, coming down to my height.
"We just busted out again." Guillotine explained.
"You girls seem to get thrown into jail an awful lot." Kid Blink commented, sitting down nearby.
"See, we was working the crowd down at the docks," Edge explained, "and we ran into some trouble-"
"Named the Delancy's…" Guil muttered angrily.
"Well," continued Edge, "they saw us and pointed us out to the bulls, saying we was stealing or something."
"Me and Edge got away, but Middy got stuck, completely surrounded by em." Guillotine explained.
"Anyway, the bulls grabbed me and well, got a little rough." Not that I wasn't used to pain, you learned to take a hit working as a Newsie in New York. But it definitely wasn't pleasant. And I wasn't what you'd exactly call 'tough'. At least not by New York standards.
"Well, just hold tight. It'll be over in a sec." Kloppman said gently, taking my arm. I winced; hey, I'm a wimp, remember?
Kloppman raised my arm horizontally to the ground and pushed it as hard as he could into its socket. White hot pain streaked up my arm and neck. I screamed, clapping a hand over my mouth as soon as the sound left it. So much for discreet, the whole lodging house was looking in our direction.
"It'll be bruised pretty badly for the next few days." Kloppman said. I pulled the collar of my shirt off my shoulder and looked at my arm, which was already purple. I sighed. It still hurt.
Kid Blink looked sympathetic.
"I'll get you a cold washcloth." He said and started up the stairs.
"Thanks." I called after him. Edge growled from her seat. I looked at her, surprised, she wasn't normally grumpy.
"Something the matta, Edge?" I asked.
"I just want to get out of this damn dress." She cried. I grinned. I remember playing the part of the sluttish girl to get her out of jail. I hated it just as much.
"Hey Mush," I called across the room, "You got any extra clothes Edge can borrow. She's getting cranky."
"Aww, but she looks so good." The boy joked. I laughed. Edge threw her high heel at him, which she had been struggling in anyways. He laughed again and climbed the stairs to the bunkroom.
I stood up and crossed to the nearest table, watching Race and Crutchy and some others play a game of poker. I sat heavily.
"Deal me in." I said.
"Not a chance Midway." Race said from across the table. "You still owe me from our last game, rememba?" I sighed and dug some coins from my pocket, emptying them into his palm.
"Happy?" I asked him, very annoyed.
"Exuberant." He replied in his Italian accent, dealing me in for the next round.
Guil and Edge joined the game. Blink returned with my washcloth and Mush brought us odd assortment of clothes for Edge, who practically leaped into them. After a cigarette and a few more games, I turned to my companions with look that said it's late, let's get going. They returned the look, and we all stood.
"Leavin so soon?" Crutchy asked.
"Yep." We all replied in unison, heading towards the door. We waved goodbye to everyone else and filed out, closing the door behind us. We continued down the street, towards the Girls Lodging House, our personal hell hole.
"Jack wasn't there tonight." Guil commented as we made our way towards Irving Hall. We had to return the costume to Medda, who always lent them to us for a breakout. It was on the way to our lodging house.
"Neither were Skittery and Boots." I added.
"Or Pie Eater." Edge mumbled. Probably off in Brooklyn playing with the big boys. We crossed the street and entered Irving Hall which was still full of people, even at three in the morning. We made our way backstage, waving to the chorus girls and singers. We knew them all.
"Girls!" A loud, accented voice greeted us from behind. We whirled around. There stood Medda in her silk dress and rouge. We grinned, she was always happy to see us.
"Why don't you leave my things in that trunk over there, then come and join me in my dressing room." She said gliding away quickly; she was up next on stage. Edge dumped her wrinkled dress and shoes in the open trunk and we all headed for her dressing room, grinning.
Minutes later Medda burst through the door, exclaiming about the thrill of the stage, congratulating us on another successful breakout and inquiring how we had been.
She took in our scruffy, dirty appearances and shook her head. Guil and I had wavy brown hair and Edge had red curls: no one could see it because we stuffed it all up in hats all day pretending to be boys. Medda shook her head again. She swiftly knocked our hats off our heads. We were powerless to stop her nosiness of how we looked, we owed her a favor.
"Now girls, you are my favorite pets in all New York, won't you please let me dote on you?" She begged, using her puppy eyes. We all exchanged glances and slowly nodded our defeat.
"Wonderful!" She boomed. She swirled around and dug into a trunk of old men's clothes. She always said that if we were going to dress as boys, we should be well dressed boys. She threw random items at us: shirts, suspenders, pants, hats, underwear. I picked up a forest green shirt that was in much better condition than my own and examined it. Deciding it was worthy, I pulled off my own, being careful of my ever-throbbing shoulder.
"Good Heavens!" Medda cried. "My goodness, what happened?" she asked, pointing to my shoulder.
"It happened with the run in with the cops, I…just…umm…" I trailed off, scared of the murderous look in her eyes. Medda proceeded to rant about the horrible law enforcement and what she would do to them if she had the chance.
"Attacking young girls, absolutely barbaric!" She exclaimed.
"Well, they didn't know I was a girl." I pointed out, hoping to calm her down. I did not succeed. I silently pulled on the new shirt and a pair of pants, sticking with my own suspenders. Edge and Guil did the same, choosing random articles of clothing and taking some extra. We finished up and waved our goodbye to Medda, who still had a sour look about my shoulder, and left quickly.
"You shouldn't have let her see that, Mid," Guil muttered angrily as we walked down the street, "Next thing you know she'll be trying to get us out of the newsie business." Edge mumbled in agreement. I sighed. They were right.
"Sorry, it won't happen again. It'll be healed in a few days anyway…" I trailed off.
"Good." They said in a unified voice. I grinned. We walked on, still not talking. We were beat. We had been up about twenty hours or so. Tonight probably wasn't the best night to stay out so late. Well, it also probably wasn't the best night to get thrown in jail again, but hey, we couldn't control it.
As we approached the Lodging house we slowed our brisk walk and crept up to the fire escape. We always entered this way in the early A.M.'s, not wanting to wake Mrs. Larson. She would whip us each and send us to bed with a smack for being out so late. And we knew it.
We climbed up and slid through the open window, crossing the floor quietly, trying not to wake anyone. Of course, we simply couldn't succeed.
"Well, well, well." A voice behind us echoed. "Out so late again?" Guillotine cursed.
"Shut it Nancy. You want us to get caught?" Edge whispered harshly to the snooty girl sitting in the rooms' only chair, apparently waiting up for us. Nancy grinned maliciously.
"Actually, yes. But tonight I'll make an exception. I think I'll hold it above your heads for a few days until I need something…" She trailed off, tapping her chin in mock thought. We all threw her dirty looks and continued to our bunks that were across the room.
Too tired to worry about Nancy or even to my change my clothes, I slid under the covers and went to sleep instantly.