Author's notes: This is my first Newsies fic, so please don't flame.
By the way, in case you can't tell from this story, Racetrack is my favorite newsie. AND I LOVE TORTURING HIM!
Disclaimer: YES! I OWN NEWSIES! IT'S ALL MINE! HA HA! I OWN THEM ALL! No, actually Disney owns it. All I own is the costume I wore in my Musical Theater camp production of it (man are suspenders uncomfortable), my sheet music to "Seize the Day" from the same camp, an old copy of the movie that my mom recorded off of the TV before I was born, and the laptop in which this is typed on.
Prologue: No Good Deed
When she was sure no one would be coming into her theater, Medda Larkson, the "Swedish Meadowlark" locked it up. She pulled her black crocheted shawl over her head and around her body, shielding herself from the chilly wind. After all she had seen and heard that night, one thought was in her head: What happened to all of the newsies that were at the rally earlier that night?
She knew what Jack and a few other boys' fates had been- they were sent to the refuge; Snyder had made sure of that. But what about the other boys? Most had escaped, some barely with their lives.
Medda shuddered as she remembered how they had ruthlessly beat Racetrack senseless right in front of her, despite her protests. And several other Newsies were injured that night. Who knew that the police could be so brutal? It was just sad.
That's why she had to do it- go check on the other boys. Medda continued to walk the few blocks to the Manhattan boarding house. She rang at the door, the buzzer ringing loudly in her ears.
A distraught Kloppman opened the door. "Listen, lady, it's almost midnight, and besides, this isn't a very good time…" Medda took off her shawl. "Oh," Kloppman continued, "Miss Medda. I wasn't expecting you… Come in."
"Are they alright? The boys, I mean?" she inquired, the worry evident in her voice.
"Mostly," the owner answered. "A few bruises and black eyes, nothing much… a few serious injuries, though."
"How can I help?"
"Well, for one, you can convince Kid Blink that he's not going blind in his good eye," he said, stifling a chuckle.
Despite herself, Medda let out a giggle. "Alright then."
She went up the stairs to the bunks.
"So then the cop comes over with his club and then he-"
"Yeah, Blink, you told us the story about a minute ago," a different voice interrupted.
"But it hurts!" the first voice exclaimed.
"We understand- quit your complainin'!" a new replied.
The newsies were all talking at once; the first voice was undeniably Kid Blink's. They didn't even look at Medda as she walked in; much less realize she was there.
She looked at the boys. None of the injuries were very severe; a few black eyes, cuts, bruises, broken bones- nothing much. She walked to the bunk where Blink was sitting up straight, a few other newsies surrounding him. His right eye was swollen and bruised.
"I just know it- this eye's gonna black out soon. Then I'll be completely blind, and I won't sell any papes 'cause I won't be able to see the money I'm countin'!" he exclaimed.
"That's if this strike ever ends," Skittery answered. "And you won't go blind- Kloppman looked over it himself and said that you'se fine!"
It wasn't until she spoke that the boys realized that Medda was there.
"You know," she started, "it didn't go blind yet, right?"
"Then, if it hasn't yet, I don't think it will. Usually things like that happen right away. The worst thing you're going to have is a black eye for awhile."
"Fine- but I'm gonna murder you all if I do go blind."
"So- everyone's okay?" Medda asked, her eyes searching the room.
"Pretty much, yeah," Skittery answered without looking her straight in the eye. Medda knew he was hiding something.
She made a mental head count, looking for all the newsies she knew. But deep in her heart, she knew that she was really looking for the answer to a question that was burning its way through her mind.
"Where's Race?" she finally inquired.
Suddenly, the whole room went silent. The newsies didn't want to tell her; she knew it had to be serious.
"Race… Race was hurt bad," Blink said quietly.
"Real bad," Skittery added.
A single tear fell down Medda's cheek. She wiped it away.
"How bad is 'real bad'?"
"Kloppman said he had a concussion, whatever that means, and that he got a little internal bleeding'," Pie Eater said. "All I knows is, he was knocked out at the rally and hasn't woken up yet."
Medda held her breath.
"You numbskull, it means that he hit his head and was knocked out and that he's bleedin' on the inside," Specs said matter-of-factly.
This comment only made Medda feel worse.
"Can I see him?" she asked.
"I dunno. Kloppman won't let anyone in," Blink said, pointing to a closed door at the end of the room. "But maybe he'll let you in, 'cause you're, well, you."
Medda ran down the stairs. Kloppman was sitting at the front desk, counting money and shaking his head.
"Mister Kloppman, sir- the boys just told me about Racetrack."
"Poor Racetrack…" Kloppman said solemnly, "after all he did... After what they all did..."
"I guess it shows that no good deed goes unpunished," Medda said sadly.
"God, I feel bad for those boys right now…" the old man said. "I just don't have the heart to tell them that he probably won't make it through the night, but I guess they figured it out on their own."
"Can I see him?"
"Yes. But it's not a pretty sight."
He led the woman upstairs. The noisy room went silent once more as they made their way through the bunks. Kloppman took a deep breath and opened the door.
The room was tiny, with nothing more then a bed, a tall, dirty window, and a small nightstand. Through the darkness, Medda could make out a faint outline of a teenage boy lying unconscious on a bed. Kloppman pulled out a matchbook and lit a candle.
In the newly brightened room, she could see Racetrack clearly. His shirt was off, and he was covered with a white blanket with red stains on it. His sweaty face wasn't bruised, but it looked pale, almost hollow. His breaths look short and labored. Kloppman pulled back the blanket down to the end of his stomach.
Medda gasped. Race's chest was black and blue to the point where it looked like his skin color was supposed to be purple. It was bloody and cut. It looked like the cops and scabs weren't done with him after they dragged him away from her sight.
"How do you know he had a concussion?" she asked.
"Trust me, Miss, when you've been working in the boarding business as long as I am, especially with a bunch of young men, you've seen everything." The old man sighed. "The boys got together what little money they had, and I pitched in a little, but… there still isn't enough money to pull in a doctor to save him."
Medda nodded. She dug into her coat and pulled out a medium-sized change purse and set it in front of Kloppman.
"Oh Miss Medda, thank you!"
It was the first time Medda had ever seen the old man smile.
"He's had a concussion, alright," the doctor said when he was summoned. "Also, the bleeding seems to be in the area where is ribs are. If he goes untreated, I'd say he has about two hours to live."
"Is there anything at all that can be done?" Medda asked, feeling tense.
"Well… there might be. There's a new kind of surgery that I was just taught by a friend that could help drastically. I haven't actually done it on a patient, though. It could be risky. But if we don't…"
"We understand, Doc," Kloppman said.
"It'll be free of charge because it's untested. Well, I better get to work! You wait with the other boys."
Medda and Kloppman walked through the door and silently closed it. Kloppman continued walking down the stairs, and Medda sat down on Blink's bed.
"So… is Race alright?" Specs asked, dreading the answer.
"We didn't think so at first, but…" Medda told the whole story.
"I guess all we got left to do is wait," Blink said when she was finished.
"Shouldn't you boys be asleep? You've all had your share of beatings tonight. You must be exhausted," she inquired.
"Racetrack's dyin'. He's a newsie. We newsies are one big family. If one of us is hurt, then we all need to be there. It's as simple as that," Blink said.
Medda suddenly burst into tears. "I feel so guilty! He got hurt getting me to safety. The cops would have gotten me right away for being involved in the strike if it wasn't for Racetrack."
"I remember once, we was playin' poker, and I was stupid enough to bet all of the money I got that day for sellin' papes," Mush said sorrowfully, "Well, Race ended up winnin', and he gave me half of what he won."
"Yeah," Specs added, "when I was too sick to sell any papes, he made sure that I had enough food and he went without any that day."
Other newsies shared stories of Racetrack's generosity. Medda was touched.
"It really ain't fair," Skittery said with a frown.
"Race is a great guy," Kid Blink added.
All of a sudden, a buzzer went off. Someone was at the front door.
"Doesn't anyone come in daylight anymore?" Kloppman could be heard saying. The newsies laughed in spite of their sorrow.
"Spot," the newsies in the bunkroom said in unison.
A sort of thunder could be heard as Spot Conlon ran up the stairs.
"Hello Manhattan!" he exclaimed. All eyes turned towards him. Spot made his way over to Blink's bunk. "Hiya, Medda!"
"Hi Spot," she answered quietly. "How's Brooklyn fairing after last night?"
"Could be worse. Nutin' much- we're Brooklyn, we can take anythin'. How're you guys?"
"Fine," someone answered.
"Alright- I've never heard you Manhattan chatterboxes be so quiet. What's the matter wit' you?" Spot asked, sensing that something was wrong. He already knew what it was, though.
"Uh… Well," Blink said, "to put it short, sweet, and to the point, Racetrack's dyin'."
Spot closed his eyes. "That bad, eh?" He shook his head and opened his eyes. "Of course, he didn't look too good when I saw him in the alley behind da theater, but I neva thought-"
"Wait," Medda interrupted, "you saw what happened?"
"No- I heard it." Spot answered, "I heard the whole thing, and just saw him aftawards."
"Well," Skittery said, "what happened?"
"Ugh. Where do I start?"
Spot began to explain the memory.
It was chaos. There were newsies running for their lives everywhere. Spot and a few other Brooklyn newsies were trying to get out of Irving Hall by going through some of the back rooms.
"All right," Spot said. "From this point out it's every newsie for himself. I wish all you guys luck. At least there's less people tryin' to get out this way."
He walked through a dressing room at the end of the hall. It looked like there was a window in there just big enough for him to get through He opened the window and climbed down. He found him self in a back alley. He was going to run when he heard voices.
"You got him, Morris?"
"Yes, Oscar. Let's show him what he gets for messing with the Delancey brothers!"
Morris was dragging in a body, but Spot couldn't make out who it was through he darkness. He hid behind a wooden box of something, probably stage props.
He didn't know who made them mad, but whoever it was would be in serious trouble if he didn't do something. He could hear them beat up he person, but he heard no protests or moans of pain from the person that was being hurt, which was surprising. So the person who was being soaked was either knocked out or a wimp that was very good at hiding his emotions.
After a few moments, Spot heard Oscar say, "Alright- Anthony aka 'Racetrack' Higgins won't be messing with the Delancey Brothers ever again!"
So the poor soul was Racetrack. Hopefully they hadn't killed him.
Spot waited until he was absolutely positive that the Delancey brothers were gone before he went out.
"Race?" he said, worried. "Racetrack?"
Race was lying in an unconscious heap on the ground, his head touching the brick wall. His shirt was ripped, and through the shreds he could see bruises forming and blood seeping through. His breathing was shallow and slow, and seemed to catch every few breaths. The Delanceys obviously had avoided his face for some reason.
All of a sudden, Race's eyes opened halfway.
"S-Spot?" he said weakly.
"Race… what happened to you?"
That was a stupid question. He heard Oscar and Morris beat him up.
"The- the Delancey brothers and…" Racetrack started, but he never finished. He started to have a coughing fit, and blood was trailing from his mouth. His eyes were slowly closing again.
"Oh, no- Race! Race, try to stay awake! C'mon, you wimp!" Spot said frantically.
But it was too late- Racetrack had slipped into unconsciousness once more.
Spot gently picked up Race's body and carried it to the front of Irving Hall, where things had calmed down a bit. The cops and scabs were gone, and the newsies were recollecting and helping each other.
He walked to the nearest Manhattan newsie, which just happened to be Mush.
Mush turned around and gasped.
"Please- get him some help," Spot asked. He lifted Racetrack into Mush's arms and made his way back to Brooklyn to check on his own boys.
Spot sighed as he finished his story.
"Mush?" Medda asked. "Is that true?"
Mush, who had been mostly silent up to this point, finally spoke. "Uh-huh. I brought him back here to the lodging house, and he's been in that room back there ever since."
Before he could say anything else, the doctor came through the door.
"Wait here- I'll be right back," Medda told the boys.
She walked over to the door. The newsies waited in anticipation. She finally came over to the boys, and the doctor left the building.
"So," Blink said when she came back, "how is he?"
Medda's look was unreadable.
"Well… the doctor said he's getting better. What ever he did worked. So… it looks like Racetrack might just pull through," she said with a smile.
A cheer was heard throughout the bunkroom.
Someone ran and told Kloppman, who came back in the room with another one of his rare grins.
"So- when's he gonna wake up?" someone inquired.
"That's the thing. We don't know. It could be a few hours, could be a few days, could be a few weeks…" Medda answered.
The newsies let out a synchronized sigh.
"The trial's tomorrow," Spot said, "how's Race gonna be there when he's knocked out?"
"He won't be there," the red-haired woman said. "Even if he was conscious, it probably wouldn't be a good idea."
The newsies and Medda talked for a few more hours. Every hour or so, either Kloppman or Medda would go check on Race to make sure he was okay. Overall, the color in his skin was slowly reappearing.
At about six in the morning, it was Medda's turn. When she walked in, she put her hand on his forehead to see if he had a fever. She pushed back a lock of his hair. Suddenly, she heard a groan.
Race slowly opened his eyes.
"Medda?" he said weakly.
A grin appeared on the lady's face. "You're awake!"
"What the hell happened?"
"It's a long story… to make it short, you got hurt badly at the rally last night. Anyways, how do you feel?"
Medda smiled. It was a relief to hear Race swearing again, weak as he was. She told him that she'd be right back.
The newsboys were still apprehensive about Race's condition, even though Medda told them hours before that he was going to be fine. Spot, Kid Blink, Skittery, and Mush were playing a sixth game of poker in honor of Racetrack. None of them could ever hope to be as good as he was. Blink was about to win (for the first time in his life) when Medda walked out of the back room.
"Is he the same?" Mush asked.
"Nope," Medda answered, pretending to be deadly serious.
The small group of newsies looked puzzled and frightened at the same time.
"He's… he's okay, isn't he?" Spot said, although he could almost sense that something was up.
"He's much better," Medda said excitedly. "In fact, he's awake!"
The entire bunkroom burst into applause.
"Race! Why are you sitting up?" Medda asked.
In the few minutes that she was speaking to the other boys, Racetrack had gotten the strength to sit up in bed.
"I'se fine, Medda!"
As if on command, his side started to ache. He clutched it and gave a small moan of pain.
"Yeah. Sure," she said as she helped him lay down again.
He certainly was looking much better, aside from the fact that his face still looked hollow. Despite the fact that he tried to hide it, he was absolutely exhausted.
"I'm going to let some of the guys in, if that's alright by you."
Racetrack gave a weak nod of approval.
Medda opened the door for Kid Blink, Mush, Spot, and Skittery.
"RACETRACK!" The four boys hollered.
The next few minutes were filled with high-fives and comments like "I knew you would pull through!" and "See, Race ain't a wimp!"
Race mostly just snickered and grinned, and only speaking when asked a question. It still hurt to talk, and his head ached.
After the wave of joy had passed, Spot toned the conversation down to a serious note.
"You are definitely not comin' to the trial this afternoon," he said.
"Snyder likes to have his trials right away, doesn't he?" Race replied. "Anyways, I gotta go- I'm not lettin' you wimps tough it out by yourselves. I's comin' whether you guys like it or not."
Medda and the four newsboys tried to persuade him otherwise, but Race would hear none of it. He let out a string of cusswords that made Medda blush. The boys were used to Racetrack's tactics, though.
"Fine," the redhead said after giving up, "but you need to rest if you want to go."
The rest of the strike went by without any problems, with Racetrack getting stronger everyday. Race kept trying to act like nothing was wrong with him, but the occasional wave of pain came over him. Jack and David had no idea that anything had happened. Les had some idea- he started talking a lot more to Race. Race never exactly told him that he had been hurt, but he would occasionally wince at something and clutch his side. Of course, someone was always making sure that he was okay- Kloppman had made sure of that.
Spot kept an eye on him at the trial, while Mush watched him at the lodging house. When they went to the Refuge to break Jack out, it was Skittery's turn, and so on.
On the day that they won the strike, right after they sold all of the papers for the day, they sat down at Tibby's to celebrate. Race was smoking a cigar and dealing out a game of poker to Skittery, Blink (who hadn't won a game of cards since the day after the rally), Mush, and himself. To be honest, he felt a little dizzy and had a headache, but being the tough fourteen-year-old he was, he tried to hide the fact that he was feeling sick.
They actually had money to bet with that day, unlike during the strike.
The newsies in the room would never forget that day, partly because they won the strike and partly because of what happened next.
It was the end of the game, and the four poker players were laying down their cards. Blink and Mush were already out; now it was just between Racetrack (who everyone was pretty sure would win) and Skittery.
Race laid down his cards. It was a straight in spades.
Skittery then laid down his cards. It was a royal flush.
A gasp rose from the entire room. Racetrack Higgins, the Racetrack Higgins, actually lost his first game of poker that day. The cigar fell out of his mouth.
The room was silent for a few minutes.
Suddenly, Jack broke the silence. "You feelin' okay there, Race?" He seemed startled.
"No…" Race said truthfully. "Y-you guys, I'm gonna go back to the lodging house and-"
He never finished, because he collapsed.
He heard shouts and someone screaming, "Oh my god, Race!" and "Is he joking?" That last comment was from David. Les shook his head.
Jack whispered from where he knelt, which was right next to Racetrack, who was now only semi-conscious "Why didn't you tell me, Race? Why?"
Jack's voice was the last thing he heard before he completely blacked out.
Author's notes: Review please! By the way, I don't think the rest of the chapters will be as long. And not all of it is about "Race is hurt"- just this part and a small section of the next chapter. I'm going to try to update this as often as I can (looks at other fics and looks guilty…).
Yeah… um, I haven't updated my other fics for a month and a half because I was working on this. It took me ages because I went on two separate vacations, and well… let's face it, this has been an EXTREMELY busy summer for me. But, once school starts, I blow off my homework in study hall and write then. Hehe…
So PLEASE review! Is this a piece of crap? Or is it actually decent…which it probably isn't.