Categories > Movies > Newsies > Goodbye0 Reviews
A Deadly fire strikes in the heart of Manhattan just before Christmas. Can Jack and the others save one of their own? (WARNING: character death)
"KELLY!" His voice boomed from the doorway. "GET YOUR SORRY ASS DOWN HEAH!"
Skittery appeared behind him, frozen and soaked, glad to be home. "He's in da sick room, Spot. Ain't left there since...Crutchy...."
Spot frowned. Why had no one bothered to send for him before? This was something he was definately going to take up with Racetrack. He'd seen the gambler a number of times since the fire, and each time the update was the same. Jack was quiet, but resting and seemed to be getting stronger. Then, Skittery comes all the way to the Brooklyn lodging house in the middle of a blasted snowstorm, to "demand" that he return to Manhattan because Jack was worse, much worse. Not only was he not talking, no one had seen fit to let him know that Jack hadn't really eaten anything in nearly a week and that he had developed pneumonia. He turned and took the steps up to the bunkroom, two at a time.
The sick room door was wide open. Spot stood at the door, surveying the scene before him. Jack lay on his stomach on one of the two beds in the dim room, a sheet covering from his thin waist down. Doc Trenton had shown a few of the boys how to care for Jack's burns. Applying ointment and changing the bandages. Snoddy was finishing up with the process, Blink and Jake holding Jack down so he wouldn't beat the tar out of Snoddy because it hurt so badly. But they weren't really needed. Jack would flinch just a bit as Snoddy cleaned the burns, removing the dead skin to make way for the new. The burns were deep and raw in some spots, looking more like fierce animal bites because of the severity of the wounds. They oozed with yellow fluid and blood. Most of the blisters had ruptured and some blazed red with infection. Snoddy finished securing the thick clean bandages to Jack's back.
As had become habit, since the fire, Jack said nothing. He merely gasped occasionally and gritted his teeth. The pain was deserved, he thought, a small price to pay for the fact that he had failed. Failed Crutchy. Failed Father Mike. Failed his newsies. And failed himself. He deserved all the pain the world could throw at him. And from his experience, it was an awful lot!
Jack's breathing was heavy and wheezy. He would cough every now and then, a thick deep cough that made Spot cringe. He knew Jack was in bad shape. Skittery was right, something had to be done. If he kept up the way things were, Jack would be dead soon. And that just wasn't an acceptable end to one of strongest most stubborn people Spot knew. The leader of Manhattan needed help, and HE was just the one to give it. "Heya Jacky-boy!" Spot's voice was as light and teasing as he could manage.
Spot waited for a nod from Snoddy before he spoke again. "Everyone out!" Spot stepped inside the room and watched as they passed him. Each one of the boys making eye contact with him as if pleading for his help. They all looked tired, no, not just tired, completely worn out. He was sure it had been the longest week most of them had ever had.
"Ya look like shit." Spot commented truthfully.
Jack turned his head toward the wall and said nothing.
Spot grabbed the chair Snoddy had been using and moved it closer to Jack's head. "It hoits like hell, huh?"
"Wadda ya want Conlon?" Jack's voice was gravely from lack of use. He coughed and coughed, so deep and painful, Spot took the glass of water off the table and offered him a drink.
"Yeah, It does." Cough! Cough! "What do you want?" Jack emphasized each word.
"Don't be nasty wit me Kelly! I'se heah fa ya, awright?"
Jack did his best to cast him a deadly look, but it came out more like a wounded puppy than a snarling wolf. "Ya wasn't deah Spot, ya don't know..." Cough. Cough. Jack's eyes rolled in frustration.
"No, I wasn't deah. If it was me none a dem kids woulda got out." He frowned. Jack was much taller and stronger than he was, and he knew it. An ego the size of Spot Conlon's could get a lot of things accomplished, But it couldn't carry kids, two at a time, from a burning building. "If I know ya, Cowboy, and I do, you was doin every'tin ya could ta help him. Ya can't blame yerself."
The silence was deafening.
"Look! Youse even made da papes! You, Skittery and Blink...". He gave a small smile at the thought of the three Manhattan street rats all being branded heroes. Spot tossed the copy of the World down in front of Jack. "Newsboys save 13 kids from blazing Church...". It had made the front page. There were pictures of Jack, Skitts and Blink -Spot guessed they were from one of the pictures Denton had taken durring the strike the summer before. There wasn't a photo of Crutchy, or the two little kids that died, but Father Mike's smile was there, in a snapshot right below the others.
Jack grumbled and tried to turn over. The movement of his muscles pulling the sensitive skin, made him gasp and turn white. Another coughing fit wracked his thin body.
"Watch it!" Spot cried, his hand shot out to steady him, but he recoiled it, seeing the red burns on Jack's arms and shoulders. Any touch, no matter how small, would cause Jack pain...Spot sighed. "Jack listen...People die, ya can't help dat. Ya wanna get mad, get mad. Ya wanna scream, scream. Ya wanna cry, den cry. But ya can't put it all on yerself. It'll just teah ya up inside. An' it ain't gonna bring him back."
Jack turned his head away from Spot to hide his grimace and the tears that ballanced precariously on his thick dark lashes.
Seeing the pain in his stoic silence, Spot's voice softed. "Ya know... it's ok ta cry..."
Jack balked. Had he just heard the leader of Brooklyn say what he thought he said? He turned his head, narrowed his eyes, and shot off a look of complete confusion.
"What?" Spot made a face. "I ain't made outta stone ya know. I miss Crutchy too. He was a good kid."
Jack pushed himself up, ignoring the searing pain in his back and shoulders, ignoring the skin brursting with small gashes of blood, ignoring the fact that it was taking ages to accomplish something that under normal circumstances, would only take a fraction of a second, But these weren't normal circumstances. Nothing, in the Lodging House, in his life, would be normal again.
"I knows it ain't gonna bring him back!" He grimmaced through clenched teeth. "But YOU... don't undah-stand..." Cough. Cough. How could he make Spot, or anyone for that matter, understand that it was HIS fault Crutchy didn't get out? If only he'd been faster...if only he'd been stronger.... If only....
Jack's shoulders hunched and he stared straight ahead, as if somehow he were watching the events in the church unfold before him. Tears broke free of their eyelash barriers and flowed freely down his cheeks.
"I know what it feels like ta lose someone. Ya gotta chunk a ice in yer stomach dat won't go away. Ya can't t'ink straight!" Spot looked around the room and saw the full plate of food sitting on the table, untouched. He didn't really raise his voice, but his words were intense. "An' no mattah whatcha do ya' still hoit deep down so bad ya wanna die... But ya gotta keep livin' Jack! Lemme help!"
Jack blinked, but didn't bother to wipe the stream of tears from his face. He turned to Spot and for the first time made full eye contact with him. His chocolate eyes were hard, empty. Spot had seen that kind of look before from the toughest guys in Brooklyn, but never from Jack. "Ya axed me if I was mad...." His tone was even, he didn't raise his voice, and it was icy cold. "I am mad, Spot! Mad as Hell! Ya wanna help me? Really?" Jacks eyes narrowed. "Find out who torched da place!"
Both boys were deperately trying to get their point across to the other, but neither was fully listening to what was being said. Each time Spot's voice raised, Jack's would jump to match.
"Ya got every right in da woild ta be pissed! Yell at me huh! Scream yer guts out!" Spot spread his arms out to his sides and puffed out his chest. "Hell, I'll even give ya a free shot! But it still ain't gonna bring him back! An' no matter how much ya want someone ta blame foah all dis, it was an accident."
"Look, Yer da one wit da boids everywhere! SOMEONE torched dat choich! If anyone can find out, it's you..." Jack's chin raised a little. "Or is me trust in ya missplaced Spot!?"
"Listen heah! Dat damned fiah stahted inside da choich! Da candles on da tree...."
Jack shook his head and dropped his voice in an effort to force Spot listen. "It didn't staht wit da tree....knockin it ovah was an aftah t'ought." He coughed fiercely. "AIDEN!" When Jack spoke Spot's given name, Spot focused all of his attention on him. They'd known each other since before they were Newsies and Jack never called him by his given name unless it was urgent. Jack was the only one allowed to call him that name without fear of an all out soaking for it. "Will ya just listen ta me fer a sec! Nuttin else was boined by da tree till latah. We got inside and it was all in da back, da roof, da ceilin...." Jack was coughing more and more, deep booming coughs that made Spot wince just hearing them.
Spot nodded. Regardless of what actually happened, Jack was convinved it was arson. Spot knew that if he didn't check into it, Jack would never forgive him. "Awright, I'll have me boids look inta it foah ya. But, if there ain't nuttin ta find....ya gotta drop it an move on."
Jack narrowed his eyes.
"Don't gimme dat look, Cowboy." Remembering the untouched sandwich, Spot shoved the plate at him. "Eat somethin'! Yer gettin skinny."
"Will ya stop orderin me around!?" Jack sighed indignantly.
"Heh, I ordah everyone around! Yer no different!"
Jack cocked an eyebrow, a somewhat menacing grin spread across his tired face. "Yer not in brooklyn Spot, Hattan's MY territory."
"Oh yea, yer territory....how come I can march in heah whenevah I want, den, huh?"
"Cause Skitts was wit ya."
"Ya sure? I t'ink I left him pissin his pants by da docks" Spot laughed.
Jack rolled his eyes. "Skittery's heah...I heard his voice...an if I'se right, his ear is pressed ta da door along wit the uddah nosey bastids out deah.
Spot shook his head and grabbed an empty glass from the table next to the bed and chucked it at the door. BAM! It shattered into a million jagged pieces on the wooden floor.
"What da hell'd ya do dat foah!" Jack glared at him.
"Ta scare em a bit." Spot shrugged like it was the most logical thing in the world. "Now dey won't listen against da door."
"Yeah, well YOU gonna clean it up?"
"Heah 'em runnin?" He laughed, well pleased with himself. "Yeah, I'll clean it."
Jack shook his head, fighting the smile that threatened to curve the corners of his mouth. "Ya bettah."
"Listen, Cowboy, ya need anythin' just send Skitts back ta Brooklyn; I like torchahin da kid." He grinned evily.
Jack rubbed his forehead with his fingers, as if the action would make his head stop poundin and make Spot, well, not so loud. "He's a helluva lot tougher den people tink he is." He frowned. "Dey's all a lot tougha dan dey should hafta be."
"We gotta be tough Jack, uddahwise we wouldn't make it." He hadn't quite accomplished what he'd hoped with his little visit, but it was a start. "Look, ya need ta rest, and I got a helluva hike...."
Jack smirked. "Heh, ya ruined me night already, ya may as well stay till moahnin."
"Well that's nice ta know." Spot rolled his eyes. "Actually, I been meanin ta give Race a hard time."
"See if da boys wanna play car...." His voice trailed off. He hadn't played cards since that night. Everything he thought kept taking him back to that damnable night.
"Why doncha play wit us?" Spot tilted his head.
"Come on Jack, ya can't stay heah alone all da time, ain't good foah ya. Besides me beatin ya would be a helluva lotta fun."
"Oh would it?"
"It'd be a damned riot."
Jack started to cough again.
"Ya shoah ya don't wanna play?"
"I'm shoah. I got stuff ta t'ink about."
Spot nodded with understanding and opened the door.
"HEY! da glass Conlon! I ain't got me boots in heah."
Spot grumbled, but got the hand broom and dust pan from the cleaning closet, and cleaned up the glass. Then, he left the too skinny cowboy, with the empty eyes, alone with his thoughts.