A Flute Player's Story

They Found Me

"Are you sure it was Mr. Snyder?" Racetrack asked me again as we sat at the kitchen table that night. I was trying to teach him how to play my flute that night but he was distracted by the fact that I had once again seen Mr. Snyder at Medda's that day. I had only mentioned it in passing to Maggie, but he had heard and wouldn't stop asking me if I was sure it was Mr. Snyder.

"Yes, Tony, I'm sure it was him," I said in exasperation. I moved his thumb back into the proper position on the flute. "Now, keep your thumb right here. If you move it, you can't hold the flute properly. Very good." He blew across the hole a few times before setting it down again, looking concerned. I glared at him in frustration, knowing what he was about to say. "It was him. If he comes again, I promise I will go to the cops. Now can we please drop it?"

"I care about you Ally. I don't want to see anything to happen to you."

"That's why I'm being more careful. I make sure I'm always with Maggie or Medda after shows. I already promised I wouldn't talk to Mr. Snyder again unless I'm with one of them."

He grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes. "I want to meet this man. If I'm not mistaken, this man used to run a jail for kids. He's not a nice man."

I sighed and nodded, realizing Racetrack wouldn't feel good about the situation until the man was gone. "He told me he would bring some guests tomorrow night. He wants me to meet them." I handed him the flute again. "Now try playing a C again."

The next night I waited backstage with Maggie as promised. Caelyn and Ariana were backstage with us, playing a game of cards. I sat on the floor with them and helped Ariana hold her cards. Maggie was running through the solo Medda had given her. I also had a solo that night, but it wasn't until after Maggie's. Just then Boyden came running backstage, Darien close behind. I always found it comical how they were never far apart.

"Auntie Ally, Uncle Tony says he needs to talk to you. Says it's important and to come right away."

"I'll be right back, mis angelitos." I gave the girls a kiss as I stood up. Thanking the twins, I hurried out front, only to see Race talking to Mr. Snyder. Behind him stood Mama and Papa. I let out a gasp and ran backstage again.

"Ally, what is it?" Maggie asked with concern in her voice. "What happened?"

I started pacing and venting in Spanish, mixing in some Indian words. "They found me. They found me! How did they find me here? I never wrote home. How did they know? Mr. Snyder! He must have told them. But why-"

"Allegra!" Maggie grabbed my shoulders and gave them a firm shake. "Slow down and start from the beginning. What happened?"

"Mama and Papa are here. I don't know how they found me here though. But they're here with that man, Mr. Snyder."

"I know how they found you." Race walked up and put an arm around my shoulders. "They hired Snyder to find you and your brother."

"But I thought he ran a jail for kids?"

"He used to. He was arrested this summer but got out early. Cut some kind of deal, the scabber. Snyder hires himself out to find people. He usually isn't very good at it." Race snorted.

"Well, there's no sense in getting worked up just yet," Maggie said. "Let's just go on tonight like nothing has happened and we can deal with the situation after that." I nodded, already making plans to alert Castel and leaving tonight.

Ally was distracted during her solo. Even I could tell, and I was impossible when it came to playing the flute. I couldn't blame her though, what with her parents in the crowd and all. I kept glancing at Snyder standing nearby, looking smug. I wanted to go over and wipe that grin off his face; tell her parents that Ally should stay here in Manhattan with me. I stayed where I was though, keeping in mind that Ally wouldn't like that and that I was sitting at a table with Maggie's sisters. During the walk home, she kept looking over her shoulder, as if expecting to see someone following her.

"They didn't follow us," I whispered in her ear as we walked. "We slipped out before they noticed."

Ally didn't look convinced. "Papa is very stubborn. If he wants me to be found, he'll make sure I'm found, no matter how well I hide. You have to make sure to tell Castel tonight. Promise me."

"I promise." I didn't know how much good it would do, but Allegra looked slightly more relaxed after that. She dropped the subject at any rate.

"She was sure it was Mama and Papa?" Rooster asked me for the hundredth time.

"Yes!" I almost shouted at him. "She took one look at them, turned white, and ran backstage. It was them."

"This is bad. This is so bad. Race, this is bad!"

I threw my pillow in his face as he grabbed my shoulders. "Zitto! I know it's bad. Your hermana wouldn't shut up about it all night!"

"You don't understand. We can't go back! We can't!"

"I was talking to them. They don't seem so bad."

"They're not bad parents. They're just…"

"Stubborn?" I supplied. I had heard a bit about them from Ally. They weren't bad people; they just didn't listen to their children very well. That's how Ally told it, anyway. "Not willing to listen?"

Rooster nodded, his hair sticking up everywhere from running his hand through it so many times that night. "Papa wants Na-Na to go to school. She can't go, Race. She can't. The last school was bad. She got teased so much because she has trouble reading."

"What kind of trouble? What's wrong?"

"She has trouble with words. She says the letters move around and some look backwards. Her writing is very poor."

"Does she have troubles with language at all?"

"Si. She didn't start to talk until she was a few years old."

We fell silent as some of the other newsies wandered over. I thought about Ally's problem as I fell asleep. I remembered hearing about a guy who had a problem that sounded a lot like Ally's, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember anything about him.

The next morning, I kept mulling over Ally's problem as I walked to Maggie's. I wanted to walk Ally to Medda's and ask her some questions. But when I got there, everyone was in a frenzy.

"Wat happened here?" I asked, watching the chaos.

"She's gone!"

"Wat? Who's gone?"

"Ally's gone!"

"Wat do youse mean, Ally's gone?"

"She's gone, Race. She packed everything and left."

I stood in shocked silence, too stunned to move.

Mis angelitos-my little angels (Spanish)

Zitto-Shut up

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