Bl**dy Jack, Part 1
Mr. L.A. Meyer is acknowledged as the creator of the Bloody Jack characters and story.
Forward: This is a modern-day version of Mr. Meyer's excellent story. While I try to stay faithful to original storyline (including young Jacky's poor grammar), the change of era means some modifications are necessary. For instance, our heroine is 4 years older than in the original story, mainly due to Royal Navy captains no longer being allowed to take 12 year old children from the dockside and enlist them for a harsh life at sea. A 16 year old? … Hmmm ...
My name is Jacky Faber and in London I was born. Only back then my name was Mary.
Many people 'member the events of 11 September 2001. For me, 'twas That Dark Day for another reason. That were the day me parents and sister Penny was killed when a drunk driver ploughed into us while we walked across the road. I was a few feet behind me family and were lucky; they stood no chance. Only a few weeks before me 12th birthday and sudd'nly I'm an orphan.
As tragic as that event was, what followed were an injustice. The driver were a rich man and well connected, like. He could 'ford an expensive lawyer, who presented a tragic case of his client being distraught by the news from New York, and who briefly lost control of his car. The fact he were drunk, and me parents and sister died two hours before the news from America first reached London was conveniently overlooked by the judge.
The end result – he gets off with only a six month suspension from drivin', and I'm placed penniless in the care of a local orph'nage. Even our modest family possessions are allowed to be taken by our landlord for rent, even though their value must be a hundred times the rent owed.
That's when I lost all respect for the law. Gone is the law 'biding and scholarly Mary Faber. My life will never be the same again.
At the orph'nage I'm placed in a dormitory with four other girls. I'm soon robbed of my few remaining possessions and left with little more than me und'rclothes. Despite me tears I gets no symp'thy from the matron; I quickly learns that survival of the fittest is the golden rule here.
"Quit yer snivellin'. It'll do you no good," says the girl who took me best dress.
I weren't kept at the orph'nage for long and were soon foster'd out. Four years later and I'm still sort-of living with me foster parents, Mr. and Mrs. Buck. They're a loathsome pair. Very quick to take the generous payments from the gov'nment for me care and well being, but painfully slow to spend any of it on me.
I soon learns that as long as I don't do anything to upset their scam, I can do what I like. So I attend school enough times to stop the overworked truancy officer from making trouble; I tell lies for the Buck's when the periodic check on me well being is made; I don't complain or get in their way. Which suits me fine. Anyway, now I'm a bit older I don't like the way Mr. Buck keeps looking at me. Deserves his nickname 'Muck', he does.
So I spends most of me time down by the river. I runs around with a gang of kids about my age. We fend for ourselves and look after our own. There's Charlie Brewster, or Rooster Charlie, as we calls him; on account of his red hair and name. And then there's Hugh the Grand; a big strapping lad who's a bit slow up top. But he has a heart of gold, and without him we'd be dog-tucker against the other gangs 'round here.
At the moment there's three other girls in our gang; Polly, Judy and Nancy. Betty, the girl who stole me clothes at the orph'nage four years ago, used to run 'round with us. But a year or so back she was offer'd a job by Mrs. Tuttle at the Turquoise Turtle. Charlie went to check on Betty a few days after she started to see if she were alright. She says she was, and we haven't seen her since.
When I suggested we all go and see if we can get a job at the Turquoise Turtle, Charlie laughs and tells me to shut me silly girly gob and what do I know about anything in the world? He then tells me what happens at the Turquoise Turtle. I don't believe him. Disgustin' it is.
Our gang is a mixture of orph'ns and runaways. When I doesn't feel like going back to the Buck's I sleep with the gang under Blackfriars Bridge. At weekends I help earn some money for us all. Mostly begging, but a bit of petty thievery and shoplifting as well. I'm not proud of what we does, but we must survive somehow. The law's too busy protecting everyone 'gainst terrorists to be bothered with the likes of us.
I'm careful not to spoil me school uniform though. It's the only decent set of clothes I have, even if they were third hand when I was given them. So most days I go to school and learns things. I guess I haven't lost my scholarly ways entirely and my grades are just good enough to stop awkward enquiries about me 'abit of missing school from time to time.
It's 2006 and only a few months off me 16th birthday. School has finished for the summer holidays. In the space of those few short weeks my life takes a sudden and unexpected turn. I s'pose it all started when I sees Muck drinkin' outside the Bell and Boar. Not that seeing him there were unusual, but the three coves with him made me blood turn cold.
Charlie had pointed these coves out to me before; Pigger O'Toole, Dirty Henry and Bellycut George are the names they go by. "Stay clear of them coves, Mary" were Charlie's advice. And I knows why. These three have their grubby hands in every dirty racket in the area, of which drug dealing, prostitution and smugglin' are the least repulsive of their activities. And Muck is in league with them.
When I told Charlie he 'came proper concerned for me. He tried to persuade me to leave the Buck's house altogether. Somehow Muck found out, and a few days later I finds Charlie lyin' in a pool of blood in Slipburn Alley. The coppers had a lot of questions and I began to wish I'd simply run off and left poor Charlie. But when I found him he were still alive and I calls an ambulance. It were no good though, by the time they arrived he were dead.