Hello everyone! I'm back with a vengeance, here to present to you....a David fic! Huzzah! Aw, I love that cute little geek. He's like the Seth Cohen of 1899. Anyway, this one's a little sad and dramatic, and there's no love interest in it yet, but I actually think it's pretty good. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think this is quite possibly the best fic I've ever written. So read, enjoy, and pity poor Davey.
I stared with disgust at the morning paper. Nothing but dirt. I threw it aside and buried my head in my hands.
It had been two months since I was a newsie and I was already going crazy. I looked over at the abandoned newspaper. I knew exactly how each of the newsies would hawk that headline: Jack with his "improving the truth", Racetrack shouting the results of yesterday's horse races down at Sheepshead, Blink and Dutchy playing the sympathy card together, with Dutchy as the struggling student trying to pay tuition and Blink as his half blind brother. I would have used Les as my leverage, having him hover around me, making cute faces and adorably innocent comments. Like Jack said, that kid's got a face that could sell ice cream to....an ice cream vendor. Yeah. Sure.
The bell rang loudly in my ear and boys shoved past me on their way up the steps. I winced as someone stepped on my hand, but didn't say anything. I knew complaining would earn me yet another black eye or bruise. I waited until everyone was inside so I could gather the paper I bought in peace. I'd taken to buying the morning paper everyday just to see any of the boys and so far I hadn't even seen Les outside of our apartment. How can I buy a paper in Manhattan every day for two months and never see my friends? I cursed the school I attended in Queens. I took one last glance at the paper and resignedly stepped inside.
I entered the school room quietly, edging past the boys play fighting in the aisle. I set my shoulder bag down beside my desk at the far left of the front row and removed my coat. I struggled slightly with the very last button, but managed to pull it off and hang it on the back of my chair. As I sat down, I pulled my bag up onto my lap so I could fish out the book I'd been reading late last night. It was intriguing, about a scientist attempting to discover the cure for the common cold and accidentally comes across a way of time travel. Of course, it wasn't very plausible, but I was a bit tired of reality.
You know what's realistic? I'm not a newsie anymore. I'm never going to be again. I'm going to go to this school until I graduate, go to college, become a lawyer and get married. I'll have to deal with the insufferable boys in my class until I graduate two years from now. I don't have any friends here. Heck, I don't even have acquaintances here. All my friends are back in Manhattan, being newsies. Carrying the banner, going to Tibby's for lunch, battling Pulitzer and having fun. Breathing in some fresh air instead of stuffy classroom air. Reading the headlines instead of reading the tiny print of school books. I'm never going to see any of them again.
I didn't have any say in this. I did promise my parents I'd go back to school once Papa's arm healed, but I thought if I led the strike, they might agree to let me stay. But no, they completely ignored my opinion and agreed it was "for the best" that I go back to school.
And you know what the real kicker is? Les got to stay. Les got to stay. Les is a stupid kid, who in two weeks will be bored with Jack and being a newsie and want to be a pirate or a bank robber or something equally as moronic. I had the passion. I was good at it. I made negotiations with the most powerful man in New York City. I lead the newsies to victory. And where did that land me? Back in school. I had friends for the first time and they took it away from me. I mean, Les has all of his teenage years ahead to make friends. I'll be sixteen in three months exactly and I've lost the only real friends I ever had.
I closed my eyes and thought longingly of the sights of Manhattan I'd seen when I was a newsie. The distribution gate. Newsies Square. Irving Hall. I saw Jack heading for the distribution gate, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. I saw Racetrack, Blink and Mush sharing a cup of coffee before they bought their papers. I saw Tumbler, Snipeshooter and Les using sticks as swords and pretending they were pirates.
I lay my head down on the solid wood desk, wishing this nightmare would end. I had just started banging my head lightly against the edge when Mr. Garrison's sharp voice interrupted me.
"David! Unless you are learning this telepathically, I suggest you open your English book to page 69 now," he scolded. I ignored the snickers behind me as Mr. Garrison turned back to the board. I was opening my book when his voice cut the air again, this time softer, but with a crueller edge. "You of all people need to pay attention. I highly doubt your parents will be able to compensate for your lack of attentiveness." More snickers. I silently fumed as I gritted my teeth and turned a little quicker to page 69.
I was so sick of cracks about my family. I was "lucky"(or so I was told) to attend this prestigious private school for boys. Thanks to my exemplary conduct record and test scores, I was accepted on a scholarship of sorts. I was the only student here of, let's say, a lesser background. To put it simply, all the other boys who attended Sir Martin's Private School for Boys were spoiled and rich. It didn't bother me that I didn't have my own riding stable or whatever. What annoyed me was that it annoyed them. They saw me as "riff-raff" to be expelled from their sanctimonious school, students and teachers included. The principal was my only ally, although not a hugely reliable one at that.
"David, I'm sure the boys are just wary of you," he said after I came to him with my fourth black eye since I'd arrived at Sir Marty's. "After all, many of these boys have been taught that Manhattan is, well, a shady neighbourhood and thus have automatically seen you as a threat. I'm sure that if you keep to yourself and do your work, they'll eventually leave you alone. You wouldn't want to do anything that might provoke them."
Meh, who needs him, I thought as I struggled to read a passage on verb tenses. Not that I was a poor reader. It was incredibly dull and repetitive. I learned this when I was Les' age. I took to drawing spirals on my paper as Mr. Garrison droned on. He occasionally stole threatening glances at me, but I made sure to appear to be busy reading whenever he did.
As I stumbled through the day's classes(the rest of English, then mathematics, French, science, history, geography and art), I was even more aware that I was easily the brightest student at Sir Marty's. I was here on a scholarship, so I couldn't afford to be slow or inattentive. They would kick me out of here faster than you can say "Carryin' the banner" and I'd be back to being a newsie. I was all too happy to return to my old life, but my parents would throttle me before I got the chance. So I participated in class, answering almost every question Mr. Garrison threw out at us and smiling satisfactorily when he cursed my name for being right, as usual. The other boys did nothing to stop me. They were too busy creating a game involving a match and a lot of chickens, I believe, from the diagrams on Freddy's desk.
The only class I actually enjoyed was art. Thankfully, Mr. Garrison is artistically challenged and our class is taught art by Miss Van Bemmel. She's the one exception to all the teachers here: she wants me here. She likes me. She thinks I'm incredible. It doesn't matter that I have the artistic skills of an ape. She thinks I'm a marvel for my intellectual skills. She'll always keep me late after school, discussing with me history and current events and politics(okay, I started the current events discussion. I couldn't help boasting to her about the strike. It's a proud moment in David Jacobs history). The boys would call me a teacher's pet if it weren't for the fact that Miss Van Bemmel is the most beautiful woman any of them have ever seen and they're all too jealous to taunt me. Thankfully, she shares my loathing of the scum that attends Sir Marty's and resists their obvious attempts at making her like them. So I guess I lied when I said the principal is my only ally. Miss Van Bemmel wants me to stay too.
"And remember boys, your perspective drawings are due next Thursday! So I want you working hard on them all weekend," she shouted above the rush to go home. I gathered my coat, books and bag a little more slowly than the others and left with a smile and a goodbye to Miss Van Bemmel. I managed to shove my books on my bag and put my coat on as I walked down the narrow hall. Unfortunately, it was in doing so that I hit Mark in the eye with my elbow. He turned to me with a threatening growl and I knew that he would soon be adding to my collection of facial abrasions.
Mark was a typical preppy rich boy who didn't have to try hard in his classes or bother with following any rules. They would never kick Mark out of this school. After all, his grandfather is Sir Martin, the founder of this school, and his father the sole benefactor. He certainly wasn't brilliant, but he didn't have to try like I did to keep his place in this school - it was guaranteed. His passions ranged from soccer to beating up me. He was muscular, good looking and a bonafide girl magnet. I often saw him sneaking through the hedges to the neighbouring girls' private school, Saint Bridget's Private School for Girls, accompanied on his way back by two to four giggling teenage girls. For the most part, he was your typical high school bully.
"Oh, hello, street urchin," he said mockingly. He flipped me a penny. "Here, a penny for your paper. Don't go out and spend it all tonight!" I stared at the spot on my chest where the coin bounced off it and the rage bubbled inside me.
"Why, Mark! I didn't see you there!" I exclaimed, shaking his hand enthusiastically. He looked at me in confusion. "It's so grand to see you again! And may I say, what a witty insult! You really should look into paying your minions extra for that." He was dumb, but even he could sense the sarcasm in my voice. Oh, now I've done it. He lunged for me and by some miracle, I managed to duck. Unfortunately, his aforementioned minions were right there to grab my legs and knock me flat on my back. They held my arms and legs while Mark sat on my chest, swinging at my face repeatedly. I could feel the blood spout from my nose and the black eye was already forming. He kept punching my face until he ran out of places there to injure. My lip was cut, my nose was gushing and my head was reeling, but I had yet to black out. He grew tired of pummelling me and got up, taking one last swing, this time at the centre of my chest, before leaving, his cronies following him. I stayed on the ground until I could no longer see their retreating backs, then picked up my fallen books and coat. I saw out of the corner of my eye, I could see Mr. Garrison leering through his window, his face aglow with delight at seeing Mark "put me in my place". I fought down the ever boiling rage and sped down the hall, out the doors and down the stairs.
As I hopped on the trolley that took me from Manhattan to Queens every morning, and back every afternoon, and grabbed the trusty railing in the centre to keep my balance, I tried to cover my face to keep people from staring. It wasn't working so well.
"Wow, sonny, what'd you do to your face?" a middle aged gentleman asked me, obviously hoping to hear some battle story. I was too ashamed of my incident to tell him the truth, so I simply said I'd fallen down the stairs at my school. Which wasn't a complete lie. Mark did happen to kick me down the stairs two days ago, on Wednesday. The man gave a sympathetic nod, although looked a tad disappointed, and turned back to his newspaper. I couldn't help but wonder who sold it to him and what tactics they used. I sighed. I had the brain of a genius and the heart and soul of a newsie trapped inside a geek's body.
When the trolley arrived at my stop, I ran off and hurried back to my apartment building. The sooner I got home, the more time I would have to do my homework and the less Mr. Garrison would have to pick on me about. My head was down, so I didn't see the person strolling towards me. I smacked into him. Thankfully, my head hit his firm, but softer-than-his-skull chest, avoiding another injury. I dropped the bag I was carrying, he the newspapers he was holding. I looked up to apologise to see Jack admiring my battle wounds.
"Christ, what'd you do tah deserve dat, Davey?" he asked with a grin. "Fall down dah stairs?"
"Not quite, Cowboy," I replied with a grin. "It's good to see you again, Francis."
He winced at his slightly embarrassing birth name, but replied only with "Nice tah see you too, Dave," and a pat on my back. I walked with him a bit, asking about work. The news was slow, as usual, but of course, he was improving the truth to the best of his abilities. He asked me about school and I lied and said it was good. For some reason, I didn't want him knowing that I was miserable. I finally had to go as we reached the street of my apartment building, but we said goodbye like nothing had changed. It was as if I would see him tomorrow at the distribution gate. He was about to leave when he turned back and asked "What's really happening at school, Dave?" He seemed wary, like he knew there was something awful and humiliating going on that I wasn't telling him and he couldn't figure out why. I was so close to telling him about Mr. Garrison and Mark and all the awful stuff I was going through, but I swallowed it and said "Nothing. Everything's fine." He nodded, but looked a little hurt that there was something I wasn't telling him. He took one last look at the dried blood beneath my nose, shook his head, and sauntered off in the opposite direction. I watched him walk away for a while, then turned and walked down my street when I saw him stop to light a cigarette.
As I opened the door, my mother looked up to greet me, only to be horrified at my facial injuries. "Oh my God, what happened David? Did you fall down the stairs again?" she gasped. Maybe I should stop using that excuse for everything.
"Yeah, I did, Mama," I lied, setting my bag down by the door and kicking off my shoes. She rushed to me, enveloping me in a huge, motherly hug. I saw over her shoulder Les counting coins laid out on the table, no doubt his earnings from today, and Sarah sewing and frowning at my allegedly clumsiness. When Mama finally let me go, I sat down at the table and ran my hands through my curly hair. Mama was just serving the dinner, ladling me a big bowl of soup and telling Les to put away his money before he spilled soup all over it. Sarah and Mamma sat on either side of me, while my father sat across the table. He looked at my face with concern.
"David, did you fall down the stairs again? That's at least the third time this week alone, not to mention all the times before that," he said, sounding worried, but also a little incredulous at my extraordinary lack of coordination. Yeah, I really needed to stop using that excuse.
"Don't worry, it's just a few cuts, Papa," I mumbled, staring down at my soup.
"A few cuts? Why, you're barely over one injury before you gain three others," he said, his voice rising. "What's really going on here, David?"
I rose my head and met his eyes. I thought briefly about telling him, but almost immediately decided against it. My parents would write to the school and complain, and the school would either scold Mark for beating me and he would beat me more for telling my parents, or the school would do nothing and Mark would continue to beat me. Either way, I lose. "I fell down the stairs, Papa. I'll try to be more careful," I replied in a steady voice. I could tell Papa wasn't buying it, but he must have been tired, so he gave up and starting eating his soup. I did the same, actually enjoying the silence after being at the noisy school all day. When we finished, Sarah cleared the table and I spread my school books over the table. Of course, it was a weekend, so I had until Sunday to do my homework, but I preferred to start on it as early as possible so I would have time to do it all. As I was finishing my mathematics homework, Sarah sat down beside me and put her hand on mine.
"Davey? What's really happening here?" she asked softly. I looked up and tried to look confused. She shook her head. "David, I've seen your school. There are more stairs here than there are there, yet you've never fallen here. I know you're lying David. Please, tell me. I won't tell Mama and Papa if you don't want me to. I just hate seeing you hurt so much." I didn't look up, but I saw her hand grasp mine more tightly.
"Sarah, there's nothing to tell. I fell. That's the end," I replied. Why won't anyone believe me and let me be beaten half to death in peace? I've never had a history of lying, so why are they choosing not to believe me? Of course, I've never had a history of falling down the stairs either, and yet I seem to be falling down stairs every other day since I started at Sir Marty's. Jack was concerned, Sarah was concerned, Mama and Papa were concerned. I could tell them and they might take me out of that school. But I couldn't risk it. So I would continue to lie until Mark finally beat me to death. I felt Sarah's grip on my hand tighten once more, but after a few seconds, she sighed and let go. I watched her go and could see the hurt that plagued her face.
I shook my head. What was Mark doing to me? He was destroying me, my family and my friendships with every blow. I hated that a moron like him was putting me in such a tortuous and horrible situation without even realizing it. I wanted to tell everyone what he'd been doing to me so they wouldn't think I was some idiot klutz, or at least tell Jack and watch him kick the crap out of Mark. But I was too ashamed and fearful for what Mark might do to me if I told anyone. So I resolved to think of better lies as I went back to my mathematics. Now, how do you calculate volume of a cylinder again?
So that's all for now. Will Mark beat up David again? Will David fight back?
Jack: (((appearing onstage))) Will I ever go shirtless?
David: (((storms onstage))) Dude! Why am I so brooding anddepressed and all that jazz?! Isn't that Jack's area?
Jack: Hey! Okay, you're right. I brood. And it's damn hot, too!
Me: You bet your fine ass it's hot! And because that's the story line I thought of for you, David. Don't argue with me or I may cut you out completely and somehow turn this into a hopeless romance between me and Jack.
David: NOOO!!! Don't cut me out!!!
Jack: NOOO!!! Don't attack me with your lips again!!
Ladies, please review, or I shall be forced to hold Jack hostage. Oh, and while you're at it, go read and review my Christmas story "Rudolf Can Bite Me" and my now eight chaptered story "New York Is Calling Me". Now! I command you!