Squizzy Taylor Quotes in Runner
I’d heard that [Squizzy Taylor] was a man not to be trusted––a scheming blaggard who’d squeal on his mother to save his own skin. But already I liked him. There was something about him I admired. Pint-sized and snappily dressed, Squizzy Taylor commanded respect. And what’s more, he got it.
Normally I would have felt uneasy, limping through the city streets in the daylight hours. Without an adult escort, I was fair game to be collared by a truant officer. But today, I felt different. Today, although my victory had not been entirely aboveboard, I had joined the ranks of the gainfully employed. I was one of them.
Slowly [Dolly] opened the lid and removed a pair of shiny black boots […]. Although I was excited, nothing came from my mouth […]. Next thing I knew, Dolly was bent down untying the laces on my father’s boots […].
Standing with her arms fully stretched, she held the boots away from her as if she was handling something unspeakable. Suddenly I found my voice.
“I might keep ‘em if ya don’t mind, Dolly […]. They were my father’s,” I said softly.
I didn’t want what other people wanted. I didn’t want to be like Nostrils, sticking labels on tins of jam at Rosella’s, or like my father, who’d busted his gut down on the wharf for years. I wanted something more than that. I wanted a piece of the action. It didn’t have to be a huge helping, just a slice of it.
Enough to give Ma and Jack a better life.
I stood next to Nostrils, smiling confidently, almost daring the copper to take it further. Never before would I have had the nerve, but as he looked into my eyes I held his gaze, and it was then that I realized what I loved about working for Squizzy Taylor. It was more than just the money. It was the power I loved as well.
I ran during the day and I ran at night. In fact, I ran so much that I didn’t bother changing into my father’s old boots anymore. Ma and I both had our secrets now […]. I avoided her as best I could, preferring to spend my time with Nostrils or Squizzy or Dolly. At least with them I didn’t have to pretend.
Reluctantly she swung my way, and it was then that I saw her battered face. I was shocked […]. I could not believe that the woman standing before me was the same one who’d brought me into this world––the one who’d cared for me all these years.
[…A] wave of bravado rose in my chest. I reached down and grabbed an apple, then tossed it into the air. When it landed in my right hand, I lifted it up to my mouth and took a healthy bite[…].
“It’s a pleasure doin’ business with ya,” I said, taking the envelope from his outstretched hand. “And by the way, them apples––they’re a bit on the green side.”
During the city runs, I’d been able to distance myself from Squizzy’s debtors. To me they were simply names on a list.
But now, after my meeting with the Cornwalls, I realized that these people were more than just names. They were real people, desperate people––people with families, people just like Ma and me.
I’d grown accustomed to [Squizzy’s] sarcastic tongue. But tonight the tone in his voice was different. There was a viciousness in it, and it frightened me.
“What the flamin’ ‘eck d’ya think yer up ta?” he roared. “Ya thinkin’ a joinin’ the priesthood, are ya, lad? It’s charity work yer interested in, is it?” […]
“Mr. Taylor, I can explain […].”
In a flash, Squizzy jumped to his feet, gun in hand. He rushed me and stopped only a few inches from my face.
Full of rage, I dropped by eyes to the ground and saw my shiny black boots. Right then, something clicked inside my head. Everything became clear. Silently I left the office and made my way to the laundry. After changing into my father’s old boots, I strode back down the hall. I […] placed the boots on the table, right under Squizzy’s nose.
As I sat against the bed, the stash reminded me of the play money my father used to make me, and how I’d pile it into neat rows, always asking for more […]. But this was no longer a game, and I was no longer a boy.
Not so long ago, thousands of people had flocked to Ballarat to dig up the earth in search of gold. Of those thousands, only a few had been lucky enough to strike it rich […]. I tried to picture the men who’d dug the holes […].What had driven them to such lengths?
Looking out across the fields, I suddenly realized what it was. These men were just like me. These men had dreamed of something more, something better.
Even just a slice.
I went back to that first time I’d ventured out––that time I plotted a course of four main streets to rid myself of the cold, dull ache in my bones. Tomorrow, however, I’d be running for something more. I’d be running for my father, for Ma, for Jack, for Alice, for Nostrils, and for Mr. Redmond. Tomorrow I’d be running the race of my life, and the stakes were high.