Title: Carryin The Banner: The Novelization
Ratings: PG - Mild language, and suggested alcohol consumption.
Pairings/Characters: Cast of Newsies
Synopsis: A morning in the life of Jack Kelly.
Comments: What was going through Jack's head during Carrying the Banner. For simplicity's sake, I removed all the singing and dancing. I really had no logical way to explain it. There is, however, a rooster. Or, rather, the thought of a rooster. Blame Herbie. Don't know Herbie? Hit me up for a link, baby.
Jack Kelly sometimes wondered if a rooster crowing in the morning was more, or less annoying then Kloppman. Because while the rooster was capable of pecking his eyes out, it was not exactly likely to do so, and old man Kloppman was very likely to nearly push him from his bunk while bellowing at him to get up, that ink was wet, presses rolling, and he was meant to be selling newspapers.
As he rolled out of bed, Jack found himself daydreaming about roosters, eyes blurry, head fuzzy, stomach in open revolt after a night of heavy drinking all only slightly tempered by the dim memory of pretty girls. All he needed was another hour or two of sleep, and perhaps he would be in a better mood, although it wasn't likely.
He was attempting to dredge up those lovely ladies in his memory when from the corner of his eye, a disgustingly hyper-active Mush bounded up, with a look on his face that when Jack was feeling charitable, he might describe as wide-eyed and innocently curious. However, Jack was not feeling charitable, and today, Mush just looked wide-eyed and idiotic.
"So, how'd ya sleep, Jack?"
It was a question that had been put to him over and over, almost daily, for as long as he'd known Mush. Generally, a mild smile and a mumbled 'eh, fine' was what the kid would get, but today, as Jack fumbled to get his pants buttoned, and feeling mulish, he just glared.
"On me -back-, Mush."
The reaction was not the one he'd hoped for.
"D'ya hear that, fellas? D'ya hear what Jack said? I asked Jack how he slept, and he said 'On me back, Mush!' "
After a quick exchange of blows that were joking on Mush's part, and threatening to become real on Jack's, Mush bounded back off again, laughing, leaving Jack wishing he could bash his head against the wall. Or perhaps bash Mush's head against the wall. Or let a rooster peck his eyes out, at least...
Instead, he was accosted yet again, by the perpetually insecure Crutchy.
"Heya, Jack? When I walk, does it look like I'm fakin it?"
No, Jack thought to himself, as he slung an arm around the kid's shoulder, no one could possibly mimic or fake that little step-hop-step thing the kid did, or his spasmodically cheerful dancing when he thought no one was really looking. He steered Crutchy towards the washroom, hoping to dispel this latest bout of insecurity with as little effort as possible, as his brain was throbbing in a steady rhythm that made it hard to even blink.
"Who says ya fakin it?"
"I dunno. It's just, there's so many fake crips on the street today, a real crip don't stand a chance. I gotta find a new sellin spot where they ain't used to seein me..."
Thankfully, the washroom was full of other boys keen to impart wisdom gleaned from years of selling newspapers on the grimy streets. He was able to ignore the issue for a bit as he found, and then mixed a cup of shaving cream. At least he had facial hair that needed shaving. Perhaps he was getting too old for this nonsense... At least it felt that way as he glanced around, only to notice Mush, grinning at him like an idiot, from the other side of the wash basins. In a fit of annoyance, he flicked the excess shaving cream on the kid's face, and had to contain laughter at the look of shock on Mush's face.
Perhaps he wasn't too old for this nonsense after all...
He put in his two cents, about bankers and barbers, which was sound advice, and then got the hell out of the washroom before the others started yelling to be heard over each other. Mumbling to himself as he finished getting dressed, Jack trooped downstairs with the others, past the anal-retentive Kloppman, who was frantically counting heads to make sure no one was trying to rip him off by sneaking in after he'd gone to bed.
Outside, the stupid sun was already shining, loud birds were already singing, and obnoxious workers were already leaving their goddamned barrels in the middle of the road. It was a road, meant for transportation and movement, and they just left barrels in the middle of it, and got annoyed when a pack of juvenile boys jumped over the barrels and played on them? Jack hadn't been awake an hour yet, and he was ready to go back to bed.
First stop of the morning was attempting to endure the patronizing preaching of a pack of proselytizing nuns, who happened to hand out bread and coffee. Sadly, Jack had no time for coffee, just bread, which he crammed a bit of into his mouth as he continued on his way, shaking his head. He liked their bread, but he was a Methodist, thanks.
And then there was that crazy lady, who showed up every day, and manhandled the boys, looking for her kid, Patrick. The story, or at least, the story Jack had heard, was that the kid was dead, died in a flu epidemic years ago, and the woman had lost her marbles completely, wandering the streets every day looking for her dead son. Her husband had left her and married a dance hall girl, taken her out to Chicago, and the woman managed to keep her apartment by doing odd jobs and things, keeping her son's room exactly as it was. He was surprised no one had taken the lady away yet, as she was clearly insane. The damn nuns never seemed to notice her, and he was pretty sure it was their job to help those in need. Perhaps she didn't fit into their agenda? Or maybe he was just being paranoid again. Bread in hand, he moved on with the others.
He was never really sure why Kloppman had opened his lodging house so far from the distribution center, except that the price of the building must have been cheaper where he'd bought it. Still, you'd think someone trying to run a lodging house for newsboys would want the newsboys closer to their work, in the hope that they'd have more energy to sell newspapers, and therefore be more likely to pay their rent. However, Jack wasn't so sure Kloppman could be counted on for his logic.
Jack did have to admit, it was a bit entertaining scaring the cranky old businessmen and other prim and proper passersby, being a large and very loud crowd of street kids, many of whom were skilled in picking pockets. The one thing they were missing was girls. It wasn't that girls didn't sell newspapers, it was just that it wasn't common, they didn't around here, and the ones he knew that did sell papers? Whew, scaaary. What was it about a girl wanting to sell newspapers that also made them all either tough and boyish or simpering and vapid? Jack was pondering this conundrum when he Racetrack started in on the Delancey brothers. As usual, unable to pick on anyone their own size, Oscar threw Snipeshooter to the ground.
"In the back, ya lousy little shrimp."
Jack helped Snipeshooter up, shaking his head. This was going to be a bad day, he could tell already.
"Ya shouldn't be callin people lousy shrimps, Oscar, unless ya referrin to the family resemblance in ya brother here."
It was petty, and slightly weak, and he knew it, but he was in a bad mood, his head was killing him, and the Delanceys were an easy target.
Racetrack, as expected, started trying to lay odds on the fight. The others pipped up that the odds were bum.
"That's right. It's an insult. So's this."
Jack knocked Morris' hat off, and took off, crossing the square and dodging, rolling under a wagon. Glancing up, he saw the awning of the bakery, and thought to himself for a moment before launching himself up, snagging the bar and hoisting himself a bit. The moment the brothers hopped up onto the wagon, he lashed out, landing satisfying kicks to their faces. If only he could kick them so hard they'd develop brains...
Then he was off again, until he ran smack into an idiot and a mini-idiot, who didn't have the common sense to get out of his way. A quick glance told him all he needed to know. The kid was alright, but the older boy was an uptight prick, who was clearly on his way to the distribution center, was clearly new, and clearly wouldn't last a day.
"What do you think you're doing?"
Jack was pretty sure the answer was obvious. But since he was in such a literal mood, he bothered to reply.
Pushing past them, he continued, in a loop, back to the gates of the distribution center, only to get into another scuffle with the brothers, that ended when Morris accidentally punched Oscar in the face. Big laughs all around, and Jack found that his headache was fading slightly. Apparently, all he'd needed was exercise. He was spared further interaction with the Delanceys when the gates opened, and he, and the others, flooded in, ready to buy papers and start their day, the Delancys muttering final threats as they split off to join their uncle behind the window. As they did, Jack wondered if it would be actually possible to train a rooster to peck their eyes out. Or anyone's for that matter. Just how trainable was a rooster?