A month later, I found myself in The Refuge. I had escaped from the Jewish Quarter three weeks earlier and had been living on the streets, stealing my food. I thought I had gotten pretty good at it too, until an old society man caught me. I tried to run, but the Bulls caught me before I could get away.

I had been in the Refuge a week, not speaking to anyone. I hadn't figured out an alias yet, so I pretended I was deaf. That was easier, the rest of the kids left me alone.

One night, I heard a commotion as I was trying to sleep.

"Kelly's back!" the kids yelled and clamored around a tall blonde boy of about 10 years old. I studied him curiously from my spot, but looked away when he met my eyes.

"Who's dis?" he asked, his New York accent strong.

"Who knows." A boy of about thirteen who was determined that I wasn't deaf and kept trying to speak to me answered. "We think he's from Italy or somethin'. He don't talk..but we know he ain't deaf, 'cause he jumps when people bang stuff. He prolly don't speak no English."

'Italian? Good one.' I thought. Now, all I had to do was think of an Italian name. I wracked my brain for one, but I couldn't think.

"Yeah? Lemme try." The boy said waltzing over to me. He picked up my playing cards, my only possession, which I angrily ripped out of his hands, probably looking like some sort of savage to him and the rest of the boys.

"Damn. Touchy. Well, anyways, I'm Jack Kelley. Who are youse?" he asked.

For some reason I wanted to answer him. I felt compelled to, like someone was calling me to.

"Higgins." I answered, barely audible.

"He can talk!" the other kid yelled gleefully.

"Shut up," Jack told the boy angrily. "What'd you say your name was again?"

"Higgins." I answered. It had been the last name of the only non-Jew my parents had ever introduced me to. He was a little old man who sold my father a suit once. I had no idea what kind of last name Higgins was, but it wasn't Jewish, and that's all that mattered.

"Are you'se Italian?"

I nodded, which prompted a laugh out of the boy.

"Den how come you got an Irish name, kid?"

'I should have never opened my mouth.' I angrily chastised myself as my face drained of all color. I sloppily put together a story in my head.

"I'm Italian, but I was adopted by an Irish family when I was real young and they died." I answered quickly.

He nodded like a tragic story of that nature was old hat.

"So, what are you in for?"


"Me too. You look like you ain't eaten or had a bath in a while. You have a job?"

I shook my head.

"Aftah we get out, you'se gonna be a newsie."


He explained to me quickly what that was. I had seen poor street rat kids like that before, hawking headlines for a penny. It didn't seem like much money, but a penny was a penny more than I had now. I quickly agreed and I was quickly nicknamed for my love of the tracks. Racetrack. Racetrack Higgins.it was nice. It fit.

As I tell you this story, I am all grown up. I'm married to the most beautiful woman in the world, whom I met of course, at the tracks. She's the only one who knows my secret (and of course she would have to know..certain things only she sees would give me away). To everyone else, I'm Racetrack Higgins, or Antonio Higgins..the gambling, racetrack loving Italian.