Disclaimer: I don't own Newsies. I don't own the characters or anything else in the movie. Blah blah blah. Here is the fic!

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Yeah, I remember why they came. All of them. They each had a story
to go with their hardened hearts and dirty faces. Hell, I was no
exception. The worst thing though, was when they left. They had
their reasons, I ain't saying they didn't, but when family leaves,
you feel it.

Anthony was first. Racetrack, we called him. Heart of a lion and his
face always in racing form. You didn't want to cross him though. He
had a serpent's tongue and a way with making every word a stab in
your pride. He had his good sides, too. No one is arguing there. He
came in from Brooklyn, on the back of a carriage, looking for
someplace that wasn't as harsh as his last residence.

At first he didn't speak of his past, but through the years I pieced
it together. His father was an alcoholic and his mother was morally
weak. She was a bad example of a maternal figure, which was
something a lot of these children were exposed to. Anthony used to
leave his house when his father was at the bar drinking and his
mother was asleep or away, and visit the horse races at Sheepshead
Bay. There was something about the thrill of not knowing what was
going to happen next that he loved dearly.

Sooner or later, of course, his father found out about his visits to
the tracks, and had a small chat with him. I say small chat, not
because it was a short conversation where they quickly reached an
understanding, but because there wasn't much talking going on at
all. There was, however, a lot of punches thrown, most of them
directed towards the small boy. God, he couldn't have been more than
eight or nine then. He was beyond his years, though, and left the
turmoil of his family life behind.

First he stayed in Brooklyn, in the city where fights were more
common than conversation, and for every friend you had ten enemies.
Don't get me wrong, he was a good fighter, and had a hell of a left
hook, but he was more of the talking sort than the fighting sort,
and left for Manhattan after a life in the harshest city in New
York.

I remember the day I met him. I was in the lobby of the lodging
house and he just walked right in, like he owned the place, and
asked if he could stay. He had no money, and I loaned him twenty-
five cents to get by a few weeks with a roof over his head so he
could build up his profits. From that moment on, he was a Manhattan
newsie, and a damn good one if I ever saw it. He saved some money
for the next day's papers, and took the rest to Sheepshead to
indulge in the pastime he had enjoyed since childhood.

Then that damn strike happened. I saw the whole lot of them get
pushed, punched, bruised, beaten for just a small percentage of
profits. Racetrack was trained for this, though, since his Brooklyn
days had never worn out of him. What is that saying? You can take
the boy out of Brooklyn, but you can't take the Brooklyn out of the
boy.

They won, thank God, but the problems never stopped. They were still
treated as if they didn't matter, like they were sent on earth to be
tortured. After a while, it began to wear down Racetrack, the street-
smart gutter-mouth I had grown accustomed to seeing everyday. The
afternoon he left, he put a fifty-cent piece in my hand, said, "This
is for whoever needs it. I came here with nothin' and ya helped me
out. Here's my debt at ya and my chance ta help anyone that comes
through the lodging house doors who's just like me, May God have
mercy on them," he finished, crossing himself like the Catholic he
was and then he was gone.

I got a letter from him a few years back. He owns a racetrack
somewhere in New Jersey. Even put in the fact that their strike had
spread all the way to where he was. It made him proud to be a part
of it. A few more letters came, of how he met this wonderful girl
whom was sure to never like him back, him marrying the girl, and
finally having two children before she passed away. I never heard
from him again after that. I only hope that he is alright. I wonder
if he has met anyone else or if he is a widower for life.

The main thing I wonder about is if he still goes to the races he
loved so much in his years as a child and on through to his early
adult years. I wonder if he still has that tough air and that
serpent's tongue. I wonder, above all things, if he is still
Racetrack.
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So there it is, chapter 1. Hope you liked it. E-mail me and tell me
what you think.

Stretch