"And that's all I can
recall of Brooklyn Bridge,
tonight, John A Roebling
and Washington Roebling
built it, and it hath cables
and it does one good
to cross it everyday----"
-- Brooklyn Bridge Blues, Jack Kerouac
While the weather holds, mornings are theirs. Race ambles down Newspaper Row long before the circulation bell, long before the city is awake to anyone but street-sweepers and manure-shovelers -- ambles down Newspaper Row and cuts across the square toward the rising hulk of the Brooklyn Bridge. It looks like a beast above downtown, he thinks, towering higher and grander in scale than anything in sight. How it holds up its own weight is anyone's guess.
After a few minutes' walk, Race can just make out Spot's lanky form, crouched spider-like over the steel beams at the bridge's edge, waiting. His lips quirk slightly in a twitch of a grin as he remembers his very first impression of Spot, back when they used to haunt the crowded streets of Coney Island, picking pockets.
Spot had been a spindly little kid with clever fingers that made up for his total lack of physical grace. He'd nearly stumbled over Race the first time they met, both attempting to make off with the same purse, scrabbling against each other as they elbowed their way into the nearest alleyway. Race had been about to haul off and punch the fucker in the nose until Spot went and fell on his own damn face, and Race gawped and snorted and laughed until he got the other boy's fist in his mouth. They glared at each other balefully, fingers still entangled in the purse strings, then each spat the slimy mix of blood and saliva on the ground and licked up the remaining blood oozing from their lips.
"Fifty-fifty?" Race offered grudgingly.
Spot squinted at him, and Race thought that he would be a real pretty boy if he didn't have a fat lip and a suspicious expression. "Sixty-forty," Spot countered.
Race snorted, tightening his grip on the purse. "You ain't no charity case, kid."
"Who you callin' kid, punk?" Spot growled.
Race stared back levelly until a tiny smirk worked its way across his face. "Sixty-forty and you help me pull a Follow the Lady down at the beach."
Spot's iron gaze measured Race's for a tense moment from under his long lashes, and then he hitched a quick nod.
Dusk found them wrestling on the baking hot sand, squabbling like a pair of seagulls over the shiny things they'd caught. Race's soft touch with the cards and Spot's swift fingers had endeared them to each other long before the day was out, but a certain comfortable sharpness remained in their manner of relating, like the warmth of a quick elbow to the gut.
"Need a little push?" Race calls, coming up behind the hunched figure at the bridge railing.
Spot casts a spiky look over his shoulder, then turns back toward the horizon.
Race settles next to him and pulls a creased matchbook out of his left front pocket, discarding an apple core and a nickelodeon ticket stub along the way. He flips the book open and rips a match out, strikes its head against a tense steel cable and quickly cups the flame to his lips.
Spot hocks pensively and spits with a kind of grace down onto the gray waters below. Race tracks it until it's lost in the whitecaps, and then glances back up. Spot's eyebrows are set, his eyes sharp as he gazes out over the boroughs, but he seems not to see them. After a moment he reaches over, cutting his eyes briefly to Race's, and pulls the cigarette from between the other boy's lips with a surprisingly gentle tug. Race watches closely, exhaling a smoky breath as Spot licks at his lower lip briefly and then takes a drag.
"You need a little push?" Spot smirks over at Race, blowing smoke out the corner of his mouth.
Race snorts, refuses to be embarrassed.
Spot licks his lips once more and Race groans in annoyance, jostling Spot a little, but it just makes the other boy full-on grin and give him a shove, and there it goes, they're scuffling for possession of the cigarette, laughing and swearing a blue streak and singeing their fingertips.
"That's mine," Race argues as Spot slips out of his hammer lock, "fuckin' mine!"
"Greedy bastard," Spot taunts, then coughs as Race gets a forearm against his throat and quickly plucks the cigarette from his lips. Spot raises his eyebrows challengingly, but Race just takes one last drag and flicks it over the edge, only then releasing his hold on Spot.
Spot rubs at his throat a bit, wincing as he swallows, and then clips Race's shoulder with a hard punch, the kind that leaves a tender bruise for days. They smirk at each other for a long moment, collapsed against the steel cables, until Race turns his head, watches as the rising sun sketches out the sooty shapes of the Manhattan rooftops.Back.