My name is Slip. I've been Slip since I joined the Brooklyn newsies. I was one of the only girl newsies. There's only around ten or twenty in Brooklyn. The other ones were in Midtown and Bronx and Queens and 'Hattan and everything else.
This is the story of the Newsies strike from the point of view of Spot Conlon's girl.
It starts when Jack Kelly came looking for Spot. I hid behind a crate. What? I wanted to hear.
"If it ain't Jack be nimble, Jack be quick." Spot drawled in that drawl that's just so like him.
"So ya moved up in the woild, Spot. Got a river view and everythin'" Jack Kelly said back to him. I grinned behind the crate. I always thought Cowboy was a match for Spot.
Spot jumped down from his mountain of crates and boxes to land in front of Jack. Jack smiled and spit in his hand and held it out to Spot. Spot did the same and they shook. I peeked from behind the barrel.
Boots was with Jack. So was a new kid. He was tall, looked like some smartass kind of guy. Bet he went to school. Bet he's only a newsie 'cause his dad got fired or put in jail or sommat.
Boots came forward and Spot smiled. "Hey, Boots, how's it rollin'?"
"Yeah, I got a couple of real good shooters here." Boots held out a handful of marbles.
Spot took one and examined it. Then he took out his slingshot.
His was first class. Finest materials you can find, 'course he never told anyone where he got it. Never even told 'em what exactly it's made of.
Spot put the marble in his slingshot. "So, Jackie boy. I been hearin' things from little boids." He aimed his slingshot and pulled back.
"Yeah?" Jack asked.
The new kid looked at Spot with his slingshot and stumbled back. Idiot boy.
"Things from Harlem, Queens." Spot said. He let his slingshot go. It hit a glass bottle, taking the top off and shattering the spout. The new kid looked at the glass with horror. Jeez, it's a glass bottle! "All over." Spot continued. "They're chirping in my ear. Sayin' Jackie boy's newsies is playin' like they goin' on strike."
That grinnin' jackass Jack Kelly says, "Yeah well we are."
Then that new boy, this tall reddish brown haired kid, he said, "But we're not playing. We are going on strike." The idiot boy can't even talk New York!
Then my Spot, he puts his face up real close to the new kid's and says, "Oh yeah, yeah? What is this, Jackie boy, some kind of walkin' mouth?" Cowboy slaps a hand onto the kid's shoulder.
"'Yeah it's a mouth. A mouth with a brain. And if you've got half o' one, you'll listen to what he's gotta say."
Spot made hisself comfortable. I did the same. This could take a while. Then the kid starts talking, like he's all that and a bag o' chips.
"Well, we started this strike but, uh, we can't do it alone so we've been talking to other newsies all around the city."
"Yeah." My Spot said. "So they told me. But wha' did dey tell you?"
"They're waiting to see what Spot Conlon does. You're the key." Then he starts laying it on thick. "That Spot Conlon is the most respected and famous newsie in all of New York." Jack Kelly is grinnin' like a fool behind him. Even Boots is smiling. "And probably everywhere else." The boy continues. "And if Spot Conlon joins the strike, then they'll join. And we'll be unstoppable." Well someone woke up this morning with delusions of grandeur. "So you gotta join us. Because, well you gotta!"
Spot smirks and looks to Jack. "You're right, Jack. Brains." I can hear that he doesn't fall for it. But my Spot is a good actor.
Now's when he puts all his Brooklyn on. "But I got brains, too. And more than just half o' one." His walkin' stick's up in the new kid's face. He looks to Jack. So does Spot. "How do I know you punks won't run the first time some goon comes at you with a club?" That's my Spot. "How do I know you got what it takes to win?"
"'Cause I'm tellin' you, Spot." Cowboy says. Spot looks at him for a sec, then away.
"That ain't good enough, Jackie boy." He says. "You gotta show me."
The newcomers left and I heard Cowboy calling the new kid David. The guy ain't even got a real newsie name!
"Come outta there, Slips." Spot said. "I called ya Slips 'cause you can slip away. I'm used ta it now." He sat down. I came out and sat next to him.
"So do ya expect 'em to show ya?" I asked.
"I don' know." Spot said. "But one thin's fer sure. I don' trust that mouth."
"So put a watcher on 'em. We bring help to 'em when it's plain they ain't gon' run when the time comes." I suggested. Spot's my guy an' I wanna help him. But it was bigger than that. This could be good or bad fer all the Brooklyn newsies.
"Tha's a good idea, Slips." Spot said. "Will ye put somman on it?"
"Sure, Spot." I gave him a kiss on the cheek an' left so as to preserve the moments in which Spot was without all his Brooklyn on.
I left fer the Brooklyn newsies hangout place, this little rest'raunt.
I looked around fer my boys, which is what I call my band of newsies I call friends. They're not all boys. There's Scratch, this boy who won' tell us his past which includes how he got a long scratch down th' side o' his neck. He was a thief and 'ad stolen a fake diamond. Then there's Snicker, a deserter from Bronx. He and his brother Dice came to Spot when the leader o' da Bronx newsies kicked 'em out. Story goes that they tried to take ova' the Bronx newsies, but got caught. The leader, Heckler, he told 'em to run to Spot fer mercy. I'll tell ye their story later.
They be the boys. Scratch, Snicker, Dice. The goils are Sugar, a pretty little thing with red hair. She ain't nobody's goil. And Doll, a who I know fer a fact likes Mush from the 'Hattan newsies. And Kimberly. She won' let us give her a newsie name, so we call 'er Kim. Bet she'd like David. She wen' ta school, too. She was with Spot afore me. She's been with near every other newsie in Brooklyn that she knows on a first name basis. Including Snicker and Dice. Not Scratch. Scratch's ain't got no goil an' he's happy tha' way.
"Sugar! Doll! Kim! Scratch! Snicker, Dice!" I called to dem as I came over to the booth they sat at.
They all greeted me like old friends, which we were.
"Spot sent me." I said. Dat shut dem up. When Spot says 'jump,' you say, 'how high?' That's my man. We've reached an understanding. He ever tells me to jump and I kick his sorry ass. So I continued. "He wan's somman to trail the 'Hattan newsies. Jack Kelly and dis new kid, David."
"Ain't the boy got a newsie name?" Kim asked.
" Da Walkin' Mouth. I thin' you'd like him, Kim. He wen' ta school and he don' talk New York. He ain' a real newsie, just half scabber." I said to her. "I tol' Spot I'd fine somman to trail 'em. Any of you interested? Or do I go to the Rogue?" The Rogue was dis big shot who let out folk fer hiring as spies. Never trustworthy. He's turned in enough people to fill Alcatraz.
Everybody knew Spot'd kill me if I went to the Rogue. We've all got bad backstories. His and mine're no diff'rent. "Kim, Snicker, I thought mayb' one of you could do it. I'd do it myself, but I can' follow people. Too slippery."
"Well, we all knew that." Kim said, who barely talks New York as it is.
"So, who wan's to trail the Cowboy and the Walkin' Mouth?" I asked. We all laughed at that.
"I thin' Kim oughta do it." Snicker said. He smirked. "Getter outa our hair once in a while."
"An' what'm I s'posed to do wivout da money from sellin' papes?" Kim challenged.
"We split our money, Snicker and Dice and Doll and Sugar and Slips an' me. An' we give each their fair share. If it works well, maybe we keep doin' it after the mission's done." Scratch say. "Besides, if all goes well, there'll be a strike an' we won' need ta woik."
"Fine." Kim said. "If it'll make ya boys and Spot happy." See, Kim's got a soft spot fer Spot. I give her a warning glare.
"Leave of'a Spot, mangy jabberknob." I say. I love the rivalry I have with Kim. We're best mates, of the girls. Spot an' Scratch an' Kim an' I, we got the most Brooklyn on evry day. Sugar's the nice one. Doll's the sassy one.
Snicker and Dice, they's the ones you gotta look foir. They're more trouble'n a pack of coyotes in a warehouse full of sheep. Sommat that Dice says.
Anyhow, after eatin' a bit, I left foi' the girl newsies' lodgin' 'ouse.
Next day, Spot an' I are makin' out behin' a few crates near the river. Kim comes up behind the crates and says, "Sorry to interrupt this bee-yoootiful scene, but I got a spy report ta delivah."
"Your kiddin' me. Ya got Kim in charge of trailin' the Walkin' Mouth and Cowboy?" Spot says to me.
"Seemed like a good idea at the time." I grumbles, an' Kim comes around an' we all sit on crates.
"What's da news, Kim?" Spot asks.
"Why I gotta tell ya?" Kim challenges.
"Because if you don', I knock ya out and the next thing you see is da bottom o' da East River." Spot says to Kim. "So, let's try this again. What's the news from 'Hattan, Kimmy?"
Er'body knows Kim don' like dat name, but Spot's got his Brooklyn on now, so Kim lets it go.
"Yestaiday, da newsies wen' back Jack told 'em dat you ain't comin till you sure they're serious." Kim says. "An' den his newsies were talkin' bout how maybe they oughta wait."
"Just like the 'Hattan newsies to chicken out." Spot said.
Kim glared at him. "You gonna let me finish or you can live widout your precious spy report."
Spot shifts his walkin' stick one hand to the other. Everybody knows Spot's better wit' his baton than the Bulls is. Kim glares ice at him an' goes on.
"An' den, dem newsies starts singin'!" Kim throws 'er hands up. "Sommat 'bout seizin' da day or some nonsense. Den the bell rings an' Cowboy asks if dey hear it. Dey say no so dey run to soak scabbers and traitor newsies. I 'id on da roof. Three or four o' dem traitor newsies went over to deir side. One didn' and dey soak 'im." Kim's real excited. "Then the Bulls came and dey all scattered. 'cept one, what was his name?" Kim fumbled for the woid. "Guy with a crutch, scraggly hair and real skinny-like."
"Crutchy?" I say.
"Yeah, Crutchy. He's too slow. The Delancey's got 'em. Last night Cowboy an' that new kid, Mouth, dey went to the refuge to bust 'im out, but Crutchy says the Delancey's hoirt him. So he don' walk good and won' let 'em carry 'im out." Kim finishes.
"We gotta be dere tomorrow, to help 'em. Da Bulls ain' a threat to 'em. They jus' wan' it don' wit." I say to Spot. "Pulitzer'll 'ave given Weasel an' da Delanceys troops to get rid o' 'em.
"Shut yer gob, Slips, I'm thinkin." He says, not really meanin' it. "I got it."
We put our head together an' we got a plan. Spot takes da plan to da boys in da lodgin' houses. Kim takes the plan to da newsies on da street. I find da goil newsies in the lodgin' houses. Den I look for my boys.
I tell dem da plan an I put dem into groups.
"Scratch, Sugar, you two are good with slingshots. You'll go wit' Spot an' me, over da roofs. Doll, Snicker, Dice, you'll go wit' Kim on ground. Spot'll get ya in."
Wit' a plan in mind an' not'in more ta tell, I think I better tell ya 'bout the brudders Snicker an' Dice.
See, Heckler's da leader o' da Bronx newsies. He's a tyrant, don' look out fer the newsies, only rigged the deck so he stays on top. Snickers and Dice didn' like it. Dey and some others, dey wen' up 'gainst Heckler. But, see, Heckler's got a bunch o' goons, scabbers, dat he pays to protect 'im. So dey took care of Snickers an' Dice. Heckler told 'em ta put demselves to Spot Conlon's mercy, dat if dey go caught on Bronx terit'try again, dey die. So dey come to us, and wit' deir help, we end our war wit' Bronx. But Heckler's still leadah, so dey can't go back. Not dat dey'd wanna go back. And relations are still tough wit' Bronx.
So now, I had no'tin more to do so I went to bed.
Next morning, we all woke up early. Got our clubs an' our slingshots and headed over to 'Hattan.
We came just in time. Kim's group hid in an alley, watchin' fer Spot's signal. He agreed we'd only interfere if they needed help.
Spot and I and our group wen' up to da roof tops. From dere, we could see everybody singin'.
Racetrack, and Skittery, and Mush. Bumlets, and Kid Blink, and Boots. And Snipeshooter and Specs. Cowboy was there, too. So was the Mouth, and this kid who must've been his little brudder. They were singing. And they were good.
Then they started dancing. I saw Pulitzer in his window lookin' at dem, thinkin' dey was crazy. 'E was prob'ly right about dem bein' crazy. But it was still fun to watch 'em dance.
"They're pretty good." I said to Spot.
"Yeah, dey are. But dancin' won't save 'em when da Bulls and Delanceys come." Spot snarled back.
Da newsies met da traitors at da gate, darin' 'em to cross the line.
Then, Mouth, he says, "Now, everybody remain calm!" There's silence, all but a few snickers from the Brooklyn newsies, even me and Spot.
Then Jack shouts. "Let's soak 'em fer Crutchy." That's our cue. The newsies charge and we move to the roofs nearby.
The 'Hattan newsies chase the traitors into the yard. De traitors run behin' a bunch o' scabbers wit' clubs who are waitin' for 'em.
Then Racetrack shouts to Jack. "Jack! Jack it's a trick! It's a trick!"
A reporter comes to the closing gates and sees the Bulls at the entrane. He says sommat, but I couldn't make it out. Mouth sends his kid brother and Snipeshooter out.
Den the Delancey twins corner Cowboy. I start to get up, but Spot holds me back.
"Not yet. Let's see how Jackie boy an' his newsies do, foist." I stay down. I don' like it. But Spot was right. Besides, his word it law an' I don' wanna go down in history as da girl who dated Spot Conlon an' ended up at da bottom o' da East River.
I prob'bly will, with my luck.
Scabbers are everywhere and I see one grab Mouth's kid brother. Racetrack slugs him and the kid escapes.
All hell breaks loose an' the Delancey brudders are fightin' Jack in a circle o' scabbers holdin' newsies. Spot says, "Now!"
We all stand up, one by one. I'm da first and den everybody else. Spot jumps onto a fire escape or a deck or sommat and says,
"Never fear, Brooklyn is hear." I laugh. That's my Spot.
Mush looks up and shouts, "It's Brooklyn!"
An' those shouts echo in da ears o' ev'ry body dere.
Everybody cheered and all hell broke loose, if hell can break loose from hell already broken loose. You know what I mean.
We all aim our slingshots and shoot. They find their targets perfectly.
A scabber chased Mush through the paper wagon. Marbles immediately found their targets in the scabber's head an' neck.
Spot saw trouble. A scabber had Boots. Spot shot a marble into the scabbers neck. Boots punched 'im in the face and took it from there. Spot smirked his Spot smirk and nodded. Then he went back to shootin'.I saw Racetrack sluggin' a scabber near the edge and Mouth fightin' a scabber.
Guy can't even fight right. It ain't natural. But I'll get him for it some other time.
Jacob saw Spot and waved. "Spot!" he shouted.
Spot grabbed a pulley and hook and swung down to knock down some scabbers holdin' Kid Blink. He and cowboy spat in deir hands an' shook. Boys. Always time for spit an' a handshake.
Everythine went downhill from there. I joined in the fight. I saw Kid Blink slug a guy, Racetrack punch a scabber's face, Jack do the same thing. A guy punched Skittery back. His friends threw him back up an' he punched the scabber.
I saw Snipeshooter creep back into the fight. He got a black eye for his trouble. I sent 'im on 'is way, tellin' 'im to spread the news. The Brooklyn newsies and the 'Hattan newsies won!
I brained a scabber with marbles 'till he let go o' Mouth.
"Thanx!" he called. "Who are you?"
"Name's Slips, leader of the girl newsies o' Brooklyn." It's always been Spot Conlon's girl's right to call herself that. But that was the foist time I'd evah used it.
"You're a girl." He said, sluggin' a scabber.
"Yeah." I said, keepin' the scabber back with marbles. "What of it?"
"And you can shoot a slingshot?" Mouth asked.
"Yeah. And? What of it, Mouth?" I challenged. "I'm Spot Conlon's goil. I answah to him an' to Brooklyn."
"You know Spot Conlon?" Mouth asked.
"You know Cowboy?" I retorted. "What's your kid brudder's name?"
"Les, why?" he said. Dumb boy.
"'Cause that idiot of a kid socked Oscar Delancey in the nose an' got a black eye fer it." I said. "Boy's got guts. We'll call 'im Injun, 'cause the kid's hangin' round the Cowboy." I laughed and socked a scabber that happened to be Morris Delancey.
Mouth looked at me like I was crazy and ran off to help Injun.
Morris ran, with a black eye for his trouble. Spot ran to the gate and pulled it open.
He spun and took out his baton, Kim's group of newsies behind him. 'Is battle cry is "Brooklyn!" I love my Spot.
Kim's group charged in an' all together, da newsies forced da scabbers back. I could see Mouth yellin' at 'is kid brudder. That's when errebody celebrated. Jack Kelly ripped the that day's edition o' the New York World in half and threw it. Da reporter dey called Denton came and got a picture.
I was in the picture, too, but ma hair was up in my cap an' I looked like a boy.
I cornered Jack Kelly after da strike.
I crossed mah arms. "So Jackie boy, is Snyder still chasin' ya?"
"Take a guess." Cowboy said.
"I'll go wit' yes." I said.
"Ain't he chasin' you?" Cowboy asked.
"I did mah time. You got bored and hitched a ride on Teddy Roosevelt's carriage." I said.
"So how's things wit' Spot?" He asked.
"Fine." I said. "Da leadah's always busy. You know that new kid, Mouth?"
"David?" He laughed. "Yeah, da Walkin' Mouth. What about 'im?"
"He ain' a proper newsie. Wen' ta school, don't speak New York, can't fight." I ticked off the reasons why Mouth sucked. "Only good thin' is his kid brudder Injun."
"Mouth's da brains o' dis operation. I jus' put 'em out dere." Cowboy said.
"Slips!" Spot called.
"Da mastah calls." I said to Jack.
"Did ya set dat goil to foller us?"
"Kim? Yeah, why?" I said. "She'd get along real good wit' Mouth. Mind introcucin' 'em?" Brooklynn scattered and headed for home.
Brooklyn's a gold mine, so a strike won' hurt us as bad. We got enough money fer a bit.
Even bettah. I got time fer a bit o' swimmin'. I swam fer a while in the East River wit' some other newsies. Snicker and Dice jumped in, an' so did Doll. Sugar stayed out. She nevah wen' swimming, on'y watched. So did Scratch.
Spot always sat atop his mountain o' crates.
Once I finished swimmin' I wen' up to 'im.
"Spot, why dontcha come swimmin'?" I asked 'im.
"'Cause, Slips." Spot said. "I don' swim."
"Ya used to." I said, crossing my arms an' leanin' against his mountain. "Ya used to swim better'n all da newsies in Brooklyn."
"Well I don' no more, Slips." Spot said. He was fed up. With what?
"What's wrong wit' you?" I asked.
"Simple, Slips." Spot said, jumpin' down from 'is mountain. "