Another year passed slowly. Winter came and went, leaving a good deal of the newsies seriously ill and quite a few dead from the extreme cold. Spring came, bringing the beginning of the good selling season. It also brought many newsies from Manhattan, Queens, Harlem, the Bronx, and various other areas. It seemed the boys from other parts of New York never knew when to stay away. The Manhattan boys always taught them a lesson, though, and after a good soaking (sometimes literally, since Fish seemed to enjoy pushing boys off the pier) the boys stayed away.
"So den I says, 'You ain't da great big man ya t'ink ya 're! I can soak ya in a second!'"
"An' den we pushed 'im off da bridge!" laughed Red.
"We showed dem who's boss," bragged Fish.
"Wish I woulda been dere!" said Spot. The three best-known newsies in Brooklyn, if not all of New York, were strolling the streets of New York after meeting some girls that the two older boys knew. It wasn't quite late - Spot heard a clock chiming eleven o'clock. But the streets were quiet and empty.
"Ya've got a reputation dere, Spotty, as da toughest in Brooklyn, even dough yer onna da youngest."
"An' I'se gonna improve me reputation quite a bit, too," Spot assured.
"I think this could be your chance," a menacing voice said. The distinct clink of brass knuckles against another metal object was heard, and a tall, husky man stepped out of the dim alley.
The three boys looked at each other and gasped. Spot turned to run, but someone pushed him into the alley. From that moment on, Spot believed that the mercy of death would be better than the torturous pain he was being put through. He was beaten, slapped, punched, and kicked, and the process was repeated numerous times. When the goons left him alone for a few seconds, Spot could tell that Red and Fish were also in severe pain.
A clock chimed twelve. "Let's leave them here to rot. Let the bulls tend to the street rats." Footsteps faded out, and Spot wearily lifted his head. He was surprised when the pain wasn't too great to bear. Sure, there would be bruises, but he was alive, wasn't he?
"C'mon, fellas, let's go home, get cleaned up, get some sleep, eh?" Spot waited for a reply. "Fellas? Fish? Red?" Another full minute of silence. Well, dere prob'ly jest passed out er sumpin. "C'mon, Fish, Red, wake up. Yer alive, an' ya'll be fine." Spot counted to one hundred. "RED!" he screamed. He went over to the nearer boy. "Red?"
One of his eyes rolled open. "Spotty…"
"Red, c'mon, get up, let's go."
"Shoah ya can, c'mon." Spot was desperate by now.
"I can't. It hoits too much. Go, get cleaned up."
"But ya'll come back ta da lodgin' house?"
"Spot… I ain't comin' back. I'se leavin' right now…"
"Whatd'ya mean, leavin'?" asked Spot in fear.
Red looked up at the sky. "I'll see ya again some day, Spot."
"Red?" Spot sniffled, tears running down his face.
Red's eyes still stared at the sky, but he didn't speak or breathe.
"Red!" wailed Spot. He leaned against the wall and sniffled. Then he stood up. "Fish?"
Fish's eyes didn't open, but he spoke. "Take care a da boys fer me, Spotty."
"Take care a dem. Ya'll be a great leadah some day…"
"Red, Fish, ya can't leave me… no, don't leave me, yer all I got left, Red!" Spot leaned against the wall, crying for the death of everyone: Maria, Dana, Stephanie, his parents, and all the lost newsies.
"Son. Sonny, move. Get out of the alley. C'mon, wake up."
Spot stared at the police officer. It was not quite dawn. "Allright, allright, I'se goin'." Spot walked a block towards the lodging house before he realized what he had to do. He ran back a block to the alley and saw that at the end of the alley was a narrow little passage leading to the river. First he searched Fish's pockets for money or anything else valuable. Between the boys, Spot had about two dollars in his pockets, which would feed him for about a week.
"T'anks, fellas," he whispered. Taking his time, he dragged the bodies to the riverbank. "G'bye, Red. G'bye, Fish. We'll all miss ya… I'll, uh, try ta be a good leadah an' take yer place, Fish. An' Red, nobody could evah take yer place. Ya were like a brudda ta me, but I nevah got ta tell ya, an' I'se sahry. Remembah me… an' say hi ta Dana fer me. Sorry I can't bury ya da right way, but all da newsies in Noo Yawk don't got da money ta bury even one a ya. 'Sides, ya liked da rivah, I figured it's fittin'. Well… g'bye." He quickly looked around and regretfully pushed the bodies into the river. He wiped away a tear, then remembered that they were truly gone. He was the new leader of Brooklyn. He straightened his cap, grabbed his cane, and set off to continue living his life.
"No, no, put da bunks dis way! It's like it was in da udda lodgin' house…"
"Dis ain't da udda lodgin' house! It boined down! Dere's nuthin' ya can do 'bout it!"
"But we can make da new one look like da old one!"
"What 're ya tawkin' about, cheesehead?"
"Who you callin' cheesehead, ya lousy bum?"
"'Ey 'ey 'ey, break it up, break it up. What're ya lousy bums fightin' 'bout now?"
"Snake wants da new place ta look jest like da old one!"
"An' Keys wants it ta be diff'rent!"
"What's wrong wit da old one? We all loved it dere. It was our home."
"Ain't it time fer a change?"
"Change is nevah good, Keys. Trust me."
Keys rolled his eyes, and Snake grinned. "See? Spot says change is bad, so keep it da old way!"
"Fine," said Keys.
Spot gazed around. "Dis place is nice. Betta dan da last one. An' it's biggah." He took off his hat and wiped his forehead. "Geez, it's hot in heah. What'dya say we go outside?"
"Shoah!" Keys and Snake gladly moved the bunk bed into place and scrambled down the stairs, racing to be the first onto the pier and into the water.
Spot climbed up to a tall post. Dis was Fish's spot… he was always up heah. He liked bein' above da rest. An' Red would always stand down dere… Geez, I miss 'em. It's been… six yeahs. Geez. Seems like yestahday. Not much had happened in the past six years. Spot just took life one day at a time, living life to its fullest and rarely having to worry about a thing. He outsold everybody, soaked anybody who doubted him, and went his own way.
Actually, he was alone most of the time. No girls were ever featured in his life, except for the occasional fling when he was feeling really down in the dumps. He was friendly with all the newsies, but he didn't really have any true friends. Spot sold alone, ate alone, walked alone, fought alone.
If Fish an' Red were still heah, I wouldn't be alone, he thought. Well, we'll be tagethah again some day, right fellahs? An' Fish, ya'd be proud a me. I'se takin' good care a da boys. I look out fer all da new guys, pay fer anybody dat ain't got da money… I'se a great leadah. An' ev'ry newsie in Noo Yawk knows who I am. I improved me reputation lots! I still miss yous guys… ya were da best.
Suddenly, Spot looked over and saw Jack Kelly walking over. "Well if it ain't Jack-be-nimble, Jack-be-quick," he said slowly as he said his silent goodbyes to his lost friends. It was time to get on with living his life.
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