Western Fiction posted March 7, 2013 Chapters:  ...15 16 -17- 18... 


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Caitlin's living on the streets.

A chapter in the book AN ORPHAN NAMED JO

Chapter Six-Part 3, Street Living

by c_lucas



Background
Caitlin has lost most if not all of her social network. She is cast out onto the streets and must fend for herself.







CHAPTER SIX-PART THREE
NEW YORK CITY
OCTOBER, 1877
 
Ending of the last chapter: “We’re here. Follow me and keep control of your Irish accent.” Liz led her down a trash-filled alleyway, knocked on a nondescript door, and went inside.
 
Caitlin recognized a couple of girls who helped her in the fight.
 
“Who do you have with you, Pack Rat?” A tall, heavy-built girl, smoking a cigarette, walked toward them.
 
“That’s her, Scorpion. She kicked the stuffing out of three Wreckers, including Pox Face,” one of the two girls exclaimed.
 
Scorpion sized up Caitlin. “You're mighty small to beat up three Wreckers. Pox Face is twice your size.”
 
“He tried to bully me.”
 
“What’s yer name?”
 
“Pack Rat calls me Badger.” Caitlin stepped away from her new friend and moved in front of Scorpion.
 
“Blimey!  You’re a sassy one. Where did you learn to fight?”
 
Caitlin faced the big girl. “Fighting bullies.”
 
“What’s your real name?”
 
“Jo.”
 
Scorpion wiggled her fingers, wanting Caitlin to continue.
 
“Whatever name you want to call me.”
 
Scorpion stared at Caitlin, who stood firm, and stared up at the big girl.
 
“Maybe I should try bullying you.” She smirked.
 
“I would prefer yeh not ta try. Let’s be friends.” Caitlin held out her hand.
 
The leader backhanded the small girl, knocking her off her feet.
**
 
The blow bowled Caitlin over into a dark corner and she landed on her stomach, and a hard object. She eased her hand under her, and felt a short piece of pipe with an elbow joint on the end.
 
“Why did you do that for? She said she wanted to be friends.” Liz took a step toward Scorpion.
 
“Do you want to join the bloody bitch, Pack Rat? Can’t you see her hair has been cared for and her face been wash? She doesn’t have the look of one living in the street. The bloody bitch could be a spy!” Scorpion turned toward Liz.
 
Caitlin clutched the pipe and got on her hands and knees. Seeing Scorpion distracted by Liz, she rushed to her tormentor.
 
“Look out!” The warning cry came too late. Caitlin struck at Scorpion’s unprotected ankle. Before the big girl could react the pipe connected with her left shinbone. Caitlin’s body knocked the tottering Scorpion off her feet.
 
Holding the object high, the small girl climbed on top of the bigger girl and swung for her head.
 
Scorpion’s eyes reflected her  pain, but she reacted in time to stop Caitlin’s arm and throw the smaller girl off.
 
Caitlin jumped to her feet and rushed toward Scorpion, swinging her weapon just as the injured girl got to her feet. Scorpion deflected the incoming blow by raising her arm. She screamed when the pipe struck the unprotected area of the elbow, known as the funny bone.
 
The smaller girl swung again, and struck the injured shinbone and then the elbow. She kicked Scorpion behind the knee, causing her to fall.  “Yeh not be wanting me friendship, then I not be wanting yers!” Caitlin backed away from the girl, who lay on the floor holding her elbow.
 
Someone grabbed Caitlin from behind and screamed when Caitlin bit into an arm. The new attacker released her and Caitlin turned in time to see Liz throw a girl to the floor. “This is a private fight. I have your back, Badger!”
 
Scorpion used the distraction to gain her feet.
 
Caitlin stood her ground. “I not be wanting ta hurt yeh, but I not be wanting ta feel yer fists, either.”
 
“You little bitch! I was joking with you, now you’re dead.” Scorpion lurched and tried to grab Caitlin’s right wrist.
 
Caitlin switched the weapon to her left hand, stepped forward and swung at Scorpion’s other elbow, but her blow was deflected and grazed the right wrist. The momentum of the missed blow caused the smaller girl to turn around. Scorpion grabbed her from behind, trapping both arms.  She lifted the smaller girl, squeezing with all her strength.
 
“Now, I’ve got you!”
 
Caitlin swung her legs outward and kicked backward. Her heels connected with Scorpion’s knees, causing the larger girl to lessen her grip. The smaller girl raised her legs again and Scorpion dropped her.
 
The younger girl landed on her feet, turned, and smashed the pipe down on Scorpion’s injured foot, and pushed her with her free hand. Caught off balance by the blow, Scorpion fell.
 
“You broke my bloody foot!” The girl held her injured foot.
 
“Maybe I should be doing th' same thing with your stubborn English head.” Caitlin switched the heavy object to her right hand and raised it. “Yeh bloody English never listen. Yeh could've avoided yer pain.” She raised the pipe higher to deliver the final blow.
 
“Don’t!” Scorpion, trembling, raised her hands to protect herself and started to cry.
 
Breathing heavily, Caitlin switched the pipe back to her left hand, turned, and walked toward Liz. “If yeh not be wanting to feel Scorpio’s wrath, yeh best be coming with me.” She held out her right hand.
 
Liz looked at the trembling leader and shook her new friend’s hand. Together, they walked to the door. She stopped when Caitlin touched her arm.
 
Caitlin turned and faced the rest of the girls. “Th' same goes for th' rest of yeh. Scorpion will want ta punish somebody. Any of yeh under th' age of ten can come with us. Those over ten need ta find a new leader. I'll not be wishing ta fight yeh, so don’t be trying ta follow us.” The two girls left with six younger girls following them.
**
 
Caitlin and Liz walked several blocks without speaking.  The smaller girl began to get control of her breathing. The six younger girls huddled together and followed.
 
The pipe-toting girl stopped and drew several breaths as she looked around. Without speaking, she started across the street, dodging the traffic and ignoring the curses of the wagon drivers and horsemen.  Liz and the youngsters followed her.
 
“Where are we going?” Liz asked.
 
“To find a place to rest for the night.” Caitlin spoke slowly, doing her best to hide her Irish accent.
 
“I’m hungry,” a dark haired girl spoke, “and I need to pee.”
 
Caitlin looked at her charges, then at the girl. “What’s your name?
 
“Beetle-Face. Can we go use a potty hole?”
 
 The new leader nodded at Liz. “Lead on.”
 
 
Several minutes later, after everyone relieved themselves, Caitlin felt hunger pains. She turned toward Liz. “Where can we eat?”
 
“I don’t think you’ll appreciate where we eat, but it’s the only place left for us.”  Liz led the group several blocks until they came to a restaurant. The others followed as she walked down an alley.
 
The air was rich in different fragrances of food, some already reeked of decay. Liz hurried to the garbage can and began picking out pieces of food.
 
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” A bulky middle-age man holding a smaller version of the larger trash cans, stood in the doorway.
 
“We’re looking for some food. None of us has eaten today.” Caitlin looked at the man, eyeing the small trash can in his arms.
 
The man pushed past her and dumped his container into a can further down. “Help yourselves. Don’t make a mess.” He kicked the bottom of the can, turned, and walked back into the building.
 
Liz looked into the larger can, pulled it over and beat on the side. Three rats ran out and sought the safety of darkness. She got on her hands and knees and began to paw through the thrown out scraps.
 
The young girls snatched pieces as Liz revealed them and crammed the food into their mouths. Beetle-Face hurried over to an outside pump, primed it, and began pumping while the children drank from their cupped hands.
 
Caitlin couldn’t believe her eyes.  She ran over to the young girl pumping. “Quit! That be bad water!”
 
Beetle-Face stopped pumping. “It’s wet water and outside pumps are the only way we can get it.”  She glanced at Liz who was coming to them with a half eaten sandwich in her hands.
 
“We have no one to help us. The man was nice to us when he warned us about the rats by kicking the can.” Liz offered Caitlin the partial sandwich.
 
Caitlin backed away,  hurried to the back door and pounded on it. The same man opened it. “What do you want?”
 
“Decent food for me people. My Uncle Cullen Sullivan is the Alderman and he will pay for it.”
 
“Stay here.” The man turned and came back a few minutes later, holding a newspaper. “Can you read?”
 
Caitlin recognized Mr. Sullivan’s face on the newspaper. “Not very good.”
 
“Your lies won’t work. A crazy man shot your so-called uncle and two of his sons last night at a political rally. He’s in no condition to pay your bill. He was killed.”
 
“Arthur and Conor, are they dead?”
 
“Oh, you’re good young lady. You got those names from this article, but your scam won’t work!” He stepped back and closed the door in Caitlin’s face.
 
Caitlin stood staring at the closed door. Silent tears flowed down her face. “Brigit, Aunt Heather, Mrs. Kennedy; we be needing yer help.”  She fell to her knees and wept with her hands over her face.
 
Liz and the children gathered around her. The older girl placed a hand on Caitlin’s shoulder.  “There’s no time for crying, the children need our help.”


Recognized


Thank you, Reuven Azachi, for the use of your image, "Forgotten."

I am working on updating the prologue which I use for my notes.

I am improving with my grammar, but I am still weak. Thank to all for your imput.

Irish dilect-I am trying to phrase it out. The following are words in this chapter.
Yeh = you
Yer = your
Ta = to
Th'= the


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