*What it might be like if Darry's brothers were much younger than him. Darry's 20, Soda's 11, and Pony's 9. What's harder to handle? Two teenagers or two young kids?*
NOTE: THE OUTSIDERS AND IT'S CHARACTERS BELONG TO S.E. HINTON.
"C'mon. Wake up guys. You'll make me late for work." Darry shook his brothers out of their slumber.
"What time is it?" Soda asked, rolling over and wishing he could turn the clock back so he could sleep longer. Sure he'd been in bed at nine o'clock the night before but he hadn't been asleep until ten thirty, seeing as a flashlight and a comic book can be very entertaining...
"It's seven. Ponyboy, wake up. I made pancakes for breakfast."
"I ain't hungry." Pony said, snuggling back under the covers. "I don't wanna go to school."
Darry sighed. "C'mon now. We go through this every day. You gotta go to school."
"Why?" Pony asked even though he knew that wouldn't help him get out of it any. He didn't even know why he was bothering to argue. He'd end up going anyway.
"Because it's the law." Darry said, aggravated.
"It's a stupid law."
"I second that." Soda said, getting a towel out of the cupboard. It was odd for his little brother to want to stay home from school for no reason at all but recently that's the way it had been.
"Nevertheless, it's the law and you like school anyways. Get up."
"I'm sick." Pony said, flatly.
"No you're not. You said the same thing yesterday." Darry said.
"I was sick yesterday too."
"Ponyboy, I'm not kidding. Get out of bed."
"I wanna stay home today."
"You can't. I have to go to work and I can't watch you."
"I'll be fine by myself." Pony said.
"No, get up. I mean it. I am not gonna say it again." Pony sighed and forced himself out of bed. "And you need a bath. You didn't take one yesterday."
"I don't need one. I don't smell bad when I don't bath like you do."
"That's very funny smarty." Darry said.
"Why do I have to take a bath every day?"
"Because you just do. Get in there right after Soda's done." Darry exited the room and went to finish packing lunches.
Soda washed off in the shower quickly and shampooed his hair at a rapid speed so he could get out in time to eat breakfast without rushing. "Bathroom's yours Pony." He said, spitting out the last of his toothpaste and going to get dressed. Pony got up from his position on the bed where he had been sitting and staring at nothing in particular and he went to fill the tub, bathing quickly and then getting dressed.
"Hurry up and eat. We're leaving in five minutes." Darry said, walking out to get his stuff. Pony sat quietly, staring at his plate of food but hardly even noticing it was there. He wasn't hungry.
"You ok?" Soda asked him as he munched on his eggs.
"I want mom and dad." He said. A tear plopped down onto the table and Pony wiped his eyes quickly.
"I know." Soda said, getting up and hugging his brother. "I want them too."
"It's time to leave guys." Darry walked back into the kitchen to find both his brothers clutching tightly to each other. They let go quickly and wiped there eyes off. "You two ok? What's wrong?" Darry didn't even know why he was asking that question. He already knew what was wrong. Both brothers just looked at him and didn't say anything. "C'mere." Darry said after a few moments of silence, pulling both boys to him. It was at least once a week that one if not both of his brothers had a breakdown.
"My heart hurts." Pony said softly, tears starting to flow. Darry breathed in deep to keep from crying himself. That would only make his brothers' more frightened.
"I know baby. My heart hurts too. But they wouldn't want you to cry."
"Can't we stay home Darry? Please?" Pony begged and Soda helped by giving Darry his best puppy dog face. Darry almost gave in when he heard the helpless tone in his little brothers voice but he knew they couldn't stop living. It was their parents that had died. Not them.
"No, but after school we'll all go get ice-cream and tomorrows Saturday and I'm not working a full shift so we'll do something fun. I promise."
"Can we go to the zoo and see the lions?" Pony asked.
"I don't know about that Pon. It takes a while to drive there. Maybe that's something we should do when I don't have work at all."
"Please Darry? Please?" Pony begged, dearly hoping Darry would say yes. He hadn't been to the zoo for years and he always had loved it.
"Yeah c'mon, Darry." Soda said, not as anxious as Pony but he still wanted to go.
"Yes!" Pony said. Soda smiled.
"C'mon, get in the car guys. School starts in ten minutes."
"I'll beat you there!" Soda yelped, jumping out the front door.
"Hey! No fair!" Pony yelled, running after him. "I didn't know we was racing!"
"Soda, what's abominatle?" Ponyboy asked, looking up from his book that night after school.
"You mean abominable?" Soda asked, turning down the volume on the TV so he could hear his little brother.
"Uh, yeah. I guess so."
"Shoot, I dunno what it means. Why?"
"Cause these kids in my book are talkin bout some abominatle snowman or something and I dunno what it means."
Soda smiled at his younger brother. He always had his nose stuck in a book. "I dunno what it means. Look it up or ask Dar."
"We ain't got any dictionaries cause Darry put all of mom and dad's old stuff up in the attic and we ain't aloud to go up there."
"Darry even put the dictionaries in the attic?" Soda asked.
"Well, maybe not the dictionaries but he put a whole lot of stuff up there. I guess everything he sees reminds him of them."
Soda sighed. He didn't wanna talk about it anymore. It hurt to much to talk about their parents. One month wasn't nearly enough time to get over something like that. He knew he'd probably never get over it. None of them would.
"Does Darry have to work tonight? Is he gonna hire that mean old sitter again? I don't like her much. She made us go to bed to early."
"Yeah." Soda mumbled. "I dunno if he's gotta work or not. I can't keep track of when he's working and when he ain't. All I know is he's working almost always. So tell me about that story and the abodinatable snowman as you call it."
Pony glared at his brother but answered his question. "It's about these three kids that live in Alaska and everybody keeps complaining that they've been seeing some big white monster or something so the kids go out and look for it to see if it's for real but they get caught in this big o'l blizzard and they can't find they're way home."
"Where'd you get it?" Soda asked. "I don't remember ever hearing that story."
"I got it at the library when we went to get that book for you for your report on Abraham Lincoln. I miss mom reading us stories every night, don't you?" Pony asked suddenly.
"Would you quit talking bout that?" Soda snapped, surprising Pony. "You're making me feel lousy, all-right? Course I miss it and the more we keep talking about it the more it hurts so just stop it, all-right?"
Pony's cheeks turned a little red and tears slowly dripped down onto his book. Soda sighed, sorry he'd made his brother cry. He didn't mean to do that. "I'm sorry I snapped at you, Pon." Soda said, softly and sat next to his brother.
"It's ok. I know you didn't mean nothing." Pony said. "I'm gonna go get some ice-cream." He got off the couch and walked into the kitchen.
Soda turned back to the TV. "You best ask Darry first. I bet he's got supper in the oven."
Pony sighed. "Shoot if we can have cake with breakfast why can't we have ice-cream before supper?" But he poked his head out the front door where his oldest brother was working in the yard. "Darry!" He shouted over the lawnmower. "Hey Darry!"
Darry reached down and turned off the loud machine. "What?" He asked.
"Can I have some ice-cream."
"All-right, a little bit. I don't want you spoiling your appetite."
"Ok. Hey Dar, you gotta work tonight?"
Darry shook his head. "It's the only night out of the whole week that I've got off."
"You mean we're gonna be stuck here every night cept tonight with that stupid old babysitter?"
"Ponyboy." Darry warned. "You be polite to Mrs. Clerk. She's doing us a big favor watching you two while I work. I don't have the money to pay someone and she doesn't charge anything. She was a real good friend of mom's and she's really helping us out right now so you'd best not give her any grief. Now go play. I've got stuff to get done."
"Yeah?" He sighed.
"Abominable?" Darry asked.
"Uh huh." Pony said. "I think that's it."
"It means really bad. Why?"
"Just saw it in a book I'm reading." Pony explained. "Are we still going to the zoo tomorrow?"
"Yeah, do you still want to?" Darry asked. Pony nodded. "We're going then. Now go play, Pon. I wanna finish fixing the fence before supper."
"Ok." Pony headed back into the house. "We're going to the zoo tomorrow Soda."
"I know, that's tuff." He said, staring at the TV. "Did Darry say you could have ice-cream?" Pony nodded. "Tuff, get me a bowl too ok?" Soda used his favorite word again, mimicking all the older boys at school.
"You betcha." Pony said, running into the kitchen.
"Up and at em, little brothers." Darry threw open the curtains the next morning, letting the sun shine in through the window. "Hop to it."
"It's Saturday, Dar. Why you getting us up?" Soda moaned.
"Cause I'm dropping you off at Steve's before I go to work, remember?"
"Oh yeah." Soda said, remembering the conversation he'd had with Darry a couple days back.
"What am I sposed to do?" Pony asked.
"You're coming with me, little man. I ain't got no other choice."
"You're taking me to roof houses with you?" Pony whined. "Why can't I just stay here? I'll be fine by my lonesome. I'll prolly just cause trouble for you if I come."
"You'd better not." Darry said.
"So just leave me here."
"No, I ain't leaving you alone for five hours while I'm thirty miles away. I have to drive real far out to the Mglockman's house today. It won't be that long Pon. We'll come home around one and then we'll all go to the zoo."
"Can Steve come?" Soda asked.
"Yeah." Darry said, exiting the room and hollering for them to get ready.
They all left twenty minutes later, piling into the Ford. Darry pulled over in front of Steve's house. It was only several blocks away from their own. "I'll pick you both up at about noon. Have a good time, kiddo."
"I will." Soda said, hopping out of the car.
Pony moved up to the front seat and put on his seatbelt. "What am I gonna do while your working? Just sit in the car?"
"Didn't you bring some books and stuff?"
"Yeah. But I don't wanna sit in the stuffy car
and read for five hours."
"Well then you can come out and watch us. Just as long as you don't mess anything up."
"Can I come up on the roof with you?"
"No way." Darry said, shaking his head.
"Why not?" Pony asked.
"Because it's dangerous. It's a two story house and you could easily fall off and if you did I doubt you'd survive the fall and if you did live you'd be spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair."
"I'd be careful. I wouldn't fall."
"Pony you'd best stay off the roof and the equipment or you can just forget about the zoo. Understand?"
"What if I just climb up the latter and watch you guys?"
"No, just leave all the equipment alone and do not try to go on the roof. You hear me?"
"Yes." Pony said, sullenly.
"I just don't want you to get hurt." Darry said, lowering his tone.
"You're paranoid." Pony said.
"I am not paranoid and where did you learn that word?"
Pony shrugged. "I don't remember. I heard it somewhere a while ago. Maybe on TV or something."
"Whatever. Just promise you won't go on the roof."
"I promise." Pony sighed.
"You're really not missing much anyways." Darry mumbled.
"Pon, that big bag in the back seat is full of snacks in case you get hungry or thirsty. And if you need to go to the bathroom use that." Darry said, pointing towards an outhouse as he got out of the car.
"Ok." Pony said, bringing out his crayons.
"I'll come check on you every now and then." Darry spoke through the open window in the front seat. "If you're gonna get out and wander around let me know, huh? And don't go inside the house. There's a whole bunch of guys finishing up in there."
"Yeah, ok." Pony said, looking at the nearly finished house.
"Be good." Darry said, ruffling his brothers hair and heading over to get to work.
"You brought your kid to work, Curtis?"
"He's not my- he's my brother and I don't have anywhere else for him to go today. He won't get in the way. He's real quiet. He'll probably just stay in the car most of the time and read." Darry said, helping Luke unload his truck. "Where's Jeff?" Darry asked, referring to their boss.
"He ain't here yet. He said he's coming by later. A few of our other guys should be here soon. Ben and John are already up there, putting the plaster on."
Ponyboy looked out the window of the Ford and listened to his brother talk. It had only been five minutes and he was already bored. He sighed and turned back to his picture. He was trying to draw the house that Darry was roofing. It was real big and he couldn't see the whole thing from where he was, just the front. After three hours Ponyboy thought he would go out of his mind. He had drawn nearly twenty pictures and read at least five books over and over again. He'd already eaten half of the treats Darry had packed out of shear boredom and he felt like he was gonna throw up. He also knew his brother would be non to pleased that all the cake was gone and the peanut butter and jelly sandwich still remained.
Darry had returned to the truck about three times to see how Pony was doing, only to be glared at by the angry nine year old who wanted to kick Darry for making him come along. He'd gotten out a couple of times to walk around the house just to stretch his legs. The only thing he really accomplished was getting an occasional 'look out kid!' or a 'don't touch that! It ain't a toy.' from various men and a constant 'you be careful.' From his eldest brother.
After another ten minutes he couldn't take it anymore and hopped out of the car to see if it was time to go yet. "Darry!" He yelled, from the front lawn as he stared up at the roof. "Darry!" He called again, not seeing his brother.
"What, what's wrong?" Darry yelled back walking into view across the roof. "What is it Pony?"
"Is it time to go yet?"
"Nah, Pon. We still got-" He looked at his watch. "We still got nearly two more hours."
"Two hours! But Darry I can't wait that long."
Darry sighed and started to descend the latter. "Well just- just find something to do."
"Like what? I'm sick of waiting. It feels like I've been here forever." Pony said, as his brother approached him.
Darry smiled. "It hasn't been that long Pon. You've been real patient though and I appreciate it."
"Then can we go now?"
"No, I can't split right in the middle of work. You know that. Just bare with me for a little longer and I promise I'll make it up to you, ok? We're gonna have a real good time at the zoo. We'll get going just as soon as my shift is over for today, all-right?"
Pony sighed. "Fine." He grumbled miserably. Thirty more minutes passed and turned into an hour and an hour turned into two.
Darry returned to the truck after packing all his things up and found Pony fast asleep. He let him sleep all the way home and then woke him up when they got there. "We're home, kiddo. I'm gonna get ready and then we'll go pick up and Soda and Steve."
"And go to the zoo?"
"That's the plan." Darry said.
"Ok, just hurry." Pony said. Darry chuckled as they headed inside. He went quickly, at Pony's request and they were back in the car in a matter of fifteen minutes to pick up Soda and Steve.
"Are you sure you don't wanna go tomorrow Pony? It's already twelve thirty and it takes an hour and a half to get to the zoo. We're not gonna have that much time there." Darry regretted saying yes to this idea. They would all be better off going the next day because Darry didn't have work at all.
"No! I wanna go today!" Pony said. "You promised we would."
"Ok, ok." Darry said. "Calm down. It was just an idea."
Darry honked when they got to the Randle's and two hyper eleven year olds came bouncing out the door followed by Steve's mother who asked Darry when they'd be home. "Well, it's Saturday so I'm guessing the zoo closes at about eight so we should be back at about nine or ten."
"Can Steve sleep over Darry?" Soda asked, as they both piled in the car.
"Yeah mom, can I?" Steve asked.
"It's fine with me." Darry said, turning back to Mrs. Randle.
"Yeah, that'd be fine." She said.
"Tuff!" Soda yelped, punching Steve playfully.
"Thanks for having Soda by the way."
"No problem, Darryl. It's nice to see you again."
"You too. Have a good evening." Darry said.
"Same to you."
Darry took the car out of park and headed down the street, towards their destination. "We're gonna see the lions." Pony said, excitedly.
"Nah, forget the lions. I wanna see the gorillas. They have an amazing resemblance to Sodapop." Steve teased.
"Shut up! They do not!" Soda said.
"Yup they do."
"Nope they don't."
"Guys, we've been driving for two minutes and you're already giving me a headache." Darry said.
"Ooh, check this out. Munchies." Steve said, digging into the brown bag of snacks.
Soda snatched it and looked inside. "Awe, there's hardly nothing but a bunch of wrappers. You guys ate all the good stuff. All that's left is a PBJ and cake crumbs."
Darry looked over at Ponyboy sternly. "What?" Pony asked, innocently.
"It's huge!" Soda said, watching the lion pace it's cage.
"Is it a guy or a girl?" Pony asked.
"It's a girl because it doesn't have a mane." Darry answered.
"I bet that thing could take someone's head off with one bite." Steve said.
"Yeah, Steve. Why don't you just stick your head in there and we'll see." Soda laughed.
"I dare you to stick your hand in there." Pony said.
"How could we though with this big o'l fence blocking the cage. It's like there's a cage surrounding another one." Soda said.
"You could climb over it."
"Don't any of you even think about it." Darry said. "C'mon lets go see the koalas."
"We were just kidding, Darry." Soda said as they walked down the path.
"Yeah well I never know with you guys."
"Where are the koalas anyways?" Pony asked.
"The sign says they're down here a little ways." Darry said, pointing towards the path that veered to the left. "And it's real dark in there so don't wander off. I won't be able to find you."
"It's dark because they're nocturnal huh?" Pony asked.
"That's right." Darry said.
"They don't sleep at night at all. Can I be nocturnal, Darry?"
Darry laughed. "It doesn't mean you wouldn't ever go to bed. It just means you'd be awake during the night and sleep during the day."
"Oh. I thought it meant they never slept."
"You can't live without sleep Pony. It's humanly impossible." Steve said.
"How come?" Soda asked. "You could probably stay awake if you had lots of coke and chocolate. Caffeine and sugar will keep you up." He grinned.
"Well eventually your body wouldn't be able to handle it anymore and you'd pass out from exhaustion." Darry said.
"You would?" Pony asked, interested.
"I guess that makes sense." Steve said.
"Lets try it tonight, Steve." Soda grinned. "Darry, we got lots of coke and chocolate in the house?"
"Yes, but ya'll sure ain't gonna be touching it tonight. It's in bed and lights out when we get home, got it?"
"Awe Dar. That ain't no fun." Soda said.
Lions, tigers, koalas, chimps, bears, giraffes, snakes, gorillas, toucan's, elephants, rhino's, alligators, buffalo, kangaroos, prairie dogs, and leopards. They'd covered most of the park by closing time and Darry couldn't wait to get home and go to bed but everybody was hungry so they couldn't go straight home. They all got take out from McDonalds on the way home. When they got there and Darry lifted a sleeping Ponyboy out of the car and told a very wide awake Soda and Steve to get ready for bed.
"Mommy? Daddy?" Pony asked, in his sleep as he was carried to bed.
"It's ok, baby." Darry kissed his youngest brother on the forehead and laid him down in bed, tucking him in. "Hey, you two quiet down." Darry said, walking out to the living room to find Soda and Steve in a massive pillow fight. "Soda, if you wake Ponyboy up I'll pummel you."
"Can we sleep out here? So we can watch TV and eat popcorn? Please? We don't have anywhere we're going tomorrow."
"All-right but you'd better be quiet out here and I want the TV off and you both sound asleep by midnight. Understood?"
"Yeah." Both of them chorused.
"Steve did you bring anything? Like pajamas?" Darry asked. He shook his head. "Soda, lend Steve some of yours and there's an extra toothbrush that's still in the package under the sink."
"Ok." Soda yawned.
"I mean it. TV off, teeth brushed, and sleeping by midnight. Not at midnight and don't think I won't check. You're gonna be in a heap of trouble if I find it any other way, little buddy."
"Ok, we'll be asleep. Don't worry."
Darry walked down the hall a little ways to get some blankets and put them in the living room for Soda and Steve. "Goodnight, little man." Darry gave Soda a big hug a goodnight kiss.
"Night, Dar." Soda hugged back and kissed his big brother before plopping back down on the couch next to Steve.
Darry retreated to his room and flopped down on the bed, falling asleep almost immediately.
"Houston we have a problem." Pony said, as he flew his space ship around the living room. "Houston? Can you hear me. Oh no, we've lost all contact with Earth. Our only hope now is Superman. Dan da da- da da da da da" Pony sang the Superman theme song. "It's a bird, it's a plane, no it's Superman. "He said as he flew his action figure through the air and made it rescue the falling toy spaceship.
"Shut up! We're still sleeping over here." Steve said, from his position on the living room floor.
"Is Darry up yet, Pon?" Soda asked, from the couch.
"Yup, he's shaving."
"Whatcha playing?" Soda asked.
"Superman." Pony answered.
"You guys hungry for breakfast?" Darry asked, walking out and towards the kitchen.
"Yes!" They all yelled.
"Mickey's on TV." Soda announced. Pony jumped up and plopped down next to Soda on the couch. Steve was still trying to get some more sleep on the floor.
The phone rang a few moments later. "Someone get that!" Darry yelled from the kitchen.
Pony hopped up but Soda stopped him. "Don't! It's probably Jessie again. She's been calling nearly every day. She wants me to go to some mushy gushy Valentine's Day dance with her." Pony laughed.
"They have dances at elementary schools?" Darry asked, coming out to get the phone since nobody else would. "Hello?.... Yeah hold on a second. Steve it's your old man."
"What now?" Steve asked, taking the phone with a glum expression on his face. Soda looked over at his friend sympathetically as he argued with his father about one thing or another. Pony turned up the TV so he could hear better. They were all used to Steve and his constant quarrels with his dad. After several minutes he slammed down the phone on the receiver and announced his had to go.
"You want a ride?" Darry asked from the kitchen.
"No thanks." He said. "The later I get there the better." He mumbled.
"I'll walk you home." Soda piped up. "Ok Darry?"
"Yeah, sure little buddy." Both of them went to get dressed.
TO BE CONTINUED