|occhi_bella (occhi_bella) wrote in unknown_fandom,|
@ 2007-08-10 01:48:00
|Current music:||Anonymous Four|
|Entry tags:||fan fiction, sleepy hollow (movie)|
Cross-posted to occhi_bella.
Fandom: Sleepy Hollow (movie)
Character/Pairing: Ichabod Crane
Prompt/Claim: sane/insane, fourth part of a multi-part story
Word Count: 1601
Disclaimer: Sleepy Hollow and its characters do not belong to me.
Link here for 1st part of fic.
The book and print shop was a dream job for Ichabod, for it brought him close to the things he loved most: books. When he wasn’t working he was reading the books and pamphlets that he now had unlimited access to. Mr. Crawford, the owner and publisher that he worked for, referred him to the home of a rich widow upon discovering that he didn’t have much money or anywhere to sleep except possibly that horrific area known as Canvas Town.
Mrs. Thacher was a kind, elderly lady whose husband had been Mr. Crawford’s business partner. He had died several years ago and she had inherited from him a lovely four-storey house on Maiden Lane, a narrow cobblestone lane off of William Street. The façade was white and there was a charming large round window on the top floor. She lived alone, save for her servants, and was willing to rent the attic room to him for much less than she might have charged given the rental rates in the city.
It was yet another unbelievable stroke of good luck in a series of fortunate coincidences.
Teeming with thousands of residents, Ichabod enjoyed the lively rhythm and bustle of New York, and he appreciated the anonymity that the city granted him. No one pried into anyone else’s lives here, talk of witchcraft and other superstitious drivel didn’t exist. Here, educated and erudite men gathered, debating over the future of the new republic that was about to be borne and arguing the pros and cons of its pending constitution. Elegant four to six-storey homes lined the cobblestone streets and the clop-clopping of horses’ hooves as they pulled carriages carrying well-dressed citizens infused the city with a sophistication that he relished.
On his first Saturday in the city the wide-eyed Ichabod ventured out to explore his new home, strolling through Bowling Green and admiring the newly planted poplar trees, walking along the mile-long stretch of Broadway that boasted New York’s most luxurious houses and fancy shops. Women and men strolled arm in arm, dressed in all their finery. Visitors thronged through the streets speaking in heavily accented English or in European tongues such as French and German. Clothing was different here, as New Yorkers adopted the new fashions and clothing of Europe.
Lost in thought, Ichabod wandered aimlessly through the narrow byways on that first Saturday, absentmindedly venturing east toward the river, where he found himself in a filthy and seedy area that lay between the jail house and the river that flowed along the east side of Manhattan Island.
The foul smell that reached his nostrils stirred him from his reverie and he stopped in his tracks, now completely focused on his surroundings. He had no real recollection of how he’d arrived here, so deep in contemplation had he been. Crumbling buildings, run-down shanties and makeshift tents surrounded him, refuse and garbage were strewn about. Heavily made-up women in low-cut dresses lounged in doorways in provocative poses, luring men inside. A small group of drunken men argued boisterously. But what caught his attention was the sight of people slumped against the sides of buildings. Filthy and disheveled, they had no doubt passed out from too much drink, though he couldn’t be sure. A few of them looked like they might have been dead.
Ichabod knew that he ought to turn and run, putting as much distance between himself and this neighborhood as possible, but he found that his legs wouldn’t move. Instead he merely gaped open-mouthed at the scene in horrified fascination. Two of the men in the quarreling group came to blows. People dressed in shabby, threadbare clothes ventured out of doors or crawled out of makeshift shanties to watch the fight and prod the two men.
A constable appeared from around a corner, apparently on patrol, and the prostitutes immediately disappeared from the doorways, retreating inside. Catching sight of the ruckus the constable rang his bell loudly. In moments, three other constables appeared. They ran toward the brawl, batons at the ready and rushed into the cluster of men. The spectators began to scatter in fear, attempting to dodge the heavy sticks that were aimed at their limbs and torsos and escape into one of the decrepit buildings. Ichabod watched in horror as several men were beaten to the ground by the four constables, then pulled to their feet and handcuffed. Blood streamed from the mouth of one man who had received a series of blows to the stomach from the baton of one of the constables, whom he now recognized to be Constable Thompson, the sour man in the jail house.
His hand went to his chest as his heart began to thud rapidly and he became short of breath. Stumbling backward, he receded into the shadow of one of the decrepit buildings so as not to be noticed, waiting until the four constables had passed by with their prisoners and turned off of this street, which he now noted to be Cherry Street. The river marked the east of the city and he took off at a run, heading west, without stopping until he reached Broadway. Once there he leaned against one of the buildings, trying to catch his breath. His trembling, weakened knees couldn’t withstand his weight and he sank down along the wall, remaining crouched there until his heartbeat slowed and his breath came easier.
And so Ichabod learned very quickly of the evils that plagued New York. The city was filled with crime and destitution, pushed out of the sight of upper class society, to the east and north margins of the town. Canvas Town and the streets along the river were extremes of poverty, and the places where men went to indulge their vices. A person could die along Cherry Street without attracting the attention or concern of a single soul. And the constables that patrolled the area took advantage of their position, finding excuses to brutalize those people and worsening the situation.
As he spent more time in the city he discovered that even in the gentrified, fashionable area there was theft. It was here where the ‘haves’ resided that pockets were picked so deftly that one didn’t realize he’d been robbed until long after the theft had occurred. Barefoot children dressed in tattered rags, their faces streaked with dirt and grime, loitered on corners and in front of shops begging for a few pence to buy food until they were picked up by the local constable working that beat, who would shuffle them off to jail and out of sight. Weary, underpaid working men in plain, nondescript clothing toiled along the river, attempting to repair the sagged and rotted wharves so that shipping could be revitalized and New York’s commerce would thrive once more. At the end of the day, many of them returned to debtors’ jail, where they could get a bed for the night and possibly a meal.
There was violence and theft, murder and chicanery; ills that made Ichabod scoff bitterly at the ridiculous nature of the accusations that his father and the other elders in his hometown had made against so many men and women who were more than likely innocent of anything save being somewhat different than the average person.
He remembered them condemning one woman who stood accused of making a pact with Satan and luring others to do his bidding, simply because she was reclusive most of the time and because someone had seen her walking into the woods alone one night. The widow, Mary Baker. Although Ichabod never heard the town leaders questioning her, rumors were rampant through the tiny town at that time. She was a witch, she was in league with Satan. Others argued that she was no witch, but was merely carrying on a clandestine affair with an unknown man. Each and every one of these explanations was enough proof for these ignorant folks to condemn her. Even without proof that she practiced witchcraft, the ‘fact’ that she was fornicating secretly with someone was enough to point to her guilt and evil ways.
The extreme disparity between the classes stood out blatantly here in New York, stirring sadness and anger inside of him. The poor had very little hope of climbing out of the quagmire of their existence, unless they resorted to dishonesty. Suffering the cruelty and injustices of an indifferent society, they eked out meager lives, often forced to turn to crime in order to merely survive, beginning a vicious cycle. It was only through his chance encounter with Constable Jackson that he had narrowly avoided that existence.
At times Ichabod would reflect on those first hours in New York with wonder at the great luck he’d had. He believed in reason and logic, had left behind superstition and belief in the occult when he left home; yet as he replayed in his mind the events that had occurred since his arrival, he imagined his mother walking beside him, an intangible and loving spirit who looked just as he remembered her in life. She was watching over him and guiding him on the right path like a guardian angel. It was a foolish, childish sort of daydream, he knew, but it comforted him to think that somehow it was she that had nudged him to turn that particular corner, where the mob would overtake him and where eventually Constable Jackson would find him.
And a chain of events followed, bringing him work and a better life than he might have found in the city if he hadn’t met the constable.