The streets of the South Bronx were dark and deserted as Spacey headed towards the South Bronx Newsboys' Lodging House, clutching at her arm and moving in a feeble attempt at a run. Tears streamed down her face, and her breath came in short, raspy pants. She finally arrived at the building and burst through the door. A loud, evil-sounding hiss came from Shoe, but Spacey ignored the cat and ran to the desk.

"What can I do for you, Miss?" asked Mr. MacConaughy, looking a bit worried at the sight of the very disheveled girl standing in front of the counter.

"Where's Cap? Cap Golden? Michael? Please tell me ya know who I'm talking about," she begged.

Mr. MacConaughy was about to turn the girl away when a short redhead approached her. "I know who he is, an' wheah he is too. Come wid me. Yer Spacey, right?"

Sniffling pathetically, she nodded a response.

"I'se Alan Dickson. C'mon up heah." He led her up two flights of stairs to the attic, then paused at the top of the stairs. "Dis is wheah most a da boys go when dey's thinkin' things ova, y'know? Anyways, I saw Cap headin' up heah earlier, an' I'se pretty sure he ain't come down yet."

Spacey nodded as Alan retreated back down the stairs. "Cap?" she called out weakly, still sniffling. "Cap, you up here?"

"Spacey?" Cap said, sounding alarmed. "What's wrong? Why ya cryin'?"

A fresh batch of tears started as she indicated her arm.

"What'd he do t'ya?" asked Cap in a near-growl as his temper towards Stevie Dell flared.

She slumped down against the wall and attempted to talk around her tears. Her fake accent was long gone by this point. "I was supposed to meet him at his place at eight, but I'd been talking to V and Lazy, and they told me I oughta dump him. I was considering it when I walked in, but he was mad and drunk."

"Big surprise," muttered Cap as he paced back and forth, determed to use up his energy in a non-violent manner. "Den what happened?"

"He asked me where I'd been, and I said nowhere, just at the lodging house, same as always. But he didn't believe me, he said I was with you, and that I loved you more than him, and he called me a harlot and a whore and all sorts of other nasty things. I told him that it wasn't true, but he was so mad that he threw me against the wall." She burst out sobbing as Cap knelt to take a look at her arm.

"I'm sure it's broken. I'll go get Mr. MacConaughy an' see what he can do."

"No, Cap, don't leave, what if Stevie comes here?" she gasped, looking scared out of her mind.

"He won't get you here, I promise. Alan!" shouted Cap.

"Yeah, Cap?" called Alan, peering up the stairwell.

"Alan, go get Mr. MacConaughy. Tell 'im it's real important," Cap said seriously. "Oh, Spacey, when're ya gonna stay outta trouble?" he asked, sighing and shaking his head. "I keep tellin' ya t'stay away, dat it ain't good fer ya - "

"What is it, Cap?" asked Mr. MacConaughy.

"Brenden, dis is Spacey, an' I think 'er arm's broken. Dere was a, uh, liddle accident ova' at da goyls' house."

Mr. MacConaughy looked at it and nodded. "Alan, run for a doctor. Cap, bring her downstairs. I think she'll be a bit more comfortable on a bed than on these hard stairs."

After carrying the tiny girl downstairs and leaving her on his bunk, Cap walked downstairs with the excuse of getting her something to drink. But he paused at the counter.

"Cap, how did this happen? It was no accident, was it?"

Cap sighed and put his head in his hands. "No, Brenden, it ain't no accident. She's goin' - well, was goin' - wid dis guy from Harlem. Stevie, a factory worka', big guy, beats 'er up an' drinks too much."

"That's never a good combination," Mr. MacConaughy said with a frown.

"No sir, it ain't. He don't trust 'er farther than he can throw 'er… which is 'xactly what he did t'night. She's scared outta 'er mind dat he'll follow 'er here."

"I'll put Splints and Souther at the door. Nobody will come in here tonight besides the doctor and our boys, I'll see to that."

"T'anks, Brenden," Cap said, mustering up a grateful smile as he headed back to the kitchen.

Rubbing his eyes, Cap headed downstairs. It was nearly ten-thirty, which wasn't late for him by any means, but there had been a bit too much excitement in the lodging house that night. The doctor had arrived and set Spacey's arm, and after the chatter of the boys died down, she fell asleep, leaving Cap without a bunk for the night. But he doubted he'd need it. He was on his way to relieve Splints and Souther and make sure that nobody unwanted tried to get in. No point in making Brenden sit up half the night. Besides, if Stevie Dell arrived, Cap wanted to be there himself.

"Look, you ain't from dis lodgin' house, an' since ya ain't, ya ain't comin' in," said Splints insistently.

"But I know she's 'ere, I jest know it," said a slurring voice.

Speak of da devil, thought Cap, balling his fists and stalking towards the doorway.

"Uh, sir, maybe ya don't understand, but dis is a boys' lodgin' house, an' dere ain't no goyls here," spoke up Souther.

"Havin' some trouble, guys?" asked Cap coolly, looking at Stevie.

"Yeah, Cap, dis guy don't seem t'wanna leave. Says he's lookin' for some Spacey goyl."

"Yeah, she lives in da goyls' house. 'Bout four or five blocks from 'ere," said Cap.

"Hey, yer dat guy dat she likes. Da one she's seein' 'hind my back. C'mere, ya liddle -"

Cap pushed between the two boys and punched Stevie square in the jaw. Between that and being kneed in the stomach, Stevie fell to the ground, unconscious.

"Geez, don't eva let me get dat drunk," said Cap, staring at the body slumped in front of the door.

"What should we do wid 'im, Cap?" asked Souther.

"Eh, dump him in da riva fer all I care."

"I'll call the police," said a voice from behind them. The three boys turned to see Brenden. "They'll take the young man back to his own place."

"How long ya been dere, Brenden?" Cap asked curiously.

"Long enough. Now go on upstairs to bed and get your sleep, you've got to sell in the morning."

Cap nodded. "T'anks, Brenden. T'anks for everythin'."

Spacey sat up to find herself alone in the South Bronx lodging house. "Hello?" she called fearfully, sitting up. Pain shot through her arm.

"Space! Yer up," said Cap cheerfully, coming in from the washroom. "How ya feel?"

She shrugged. "Alright, considerin' how bad da docta said it was. I'm sorry fer just bargin' in 'ere last night - "

"Aww, shaddup," Cap said, grinning. "Ya know any goyls a da Bronx is welcome any time she feels like bein' heah. 'Sides, heah ya got big strong guys like me an' Splints t'keep jerks like Stevie away."

Spacey giggled at the thought of Cap being big and strong. "Yer delusional, Golden. Did he try to come heah an' get me?" she asked nervously.

"Uh… yeah, Space, he did. An' boy oh boy, was 'e drunk. More'n I've eva' seen anyone drunk. But dat just made it easier t'soak 'im. Brenden called da cops on 'im, an' he's long gone by now. All da guys'll make sure he stays a long way from da Bronx."

She nodded and attempted a one-armed hug. "T'anks, Cap. I really appreciate it."

"So yer done wid him? Fer good?"

"Yep, I promise ya, I'll neva' go near da guy again."

"Good, ya need t'stay outta trouble fer once in yer life. Who d'ya think ya'll go wid next?"

Spacey looked at him with a slow smile. "I gotta couple ideas," she said with a wink. "An' ya'll definitely approve of 'em."

Out of Trouble
* 1 * 2 *

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© by Emily H., 2000.