It was such an unpleasant day from the moment Ponyboy woke up that he knew something was bound to go wrong. He'd had one of his nightmares again, the ones that started coming after his parents passed away. He always woke up in a cold sweat and what made things worse was that he couldn't remember what he'd been dreaming about so he couldn't figure out how to stop them.
On this particular day, he woke up gasping for breath as though someone had tried to suffocate him. He'd never had a dream or a feeling like this one before, like someone was sitting on his chest and he could get them off, he couldn't move at all. As soon as he opened his eyes and looked around, realising he was in fact safe in his room with Soda sleeping next to him, he went over to the opened window to breath in some fresh air. That's when he noticed the gloominess of the morning. There were dozens of grey clouds scattered around the sky threatening to come together and douse them all with rain.
Ponyboy walked over to the bathroom to take a shower before his brothers woke up. It was a Saturday so he didn't have to worry about school but if it rained there wasn't much he could do but stay home and watch TV.
When he got out of the bathroom, he found Darry laying on the couch, snoring as loud as ever. Pony walked over to him to get a closer look. He was fully clothed, dressed in the same clothes he was wearing the day before and even had his shoes on. He was clutching onto an empty bottle of vodka and there were cigarette butts all over the coffee table. It looked like Darry had come home late. That was unlike Darry. He never did anything unexpected like that. He never drank alcohol, not even on special occasions and he never smoked.
Ponyboy didn't know what to do at this sight. It was the strangest thing he'd ever seen. He moved closer to Darry and shook his shoulder gently.
"Darry, Darry" he whispered.
Darry shot up in the air and frantically looked around the room.
"Where am I?" he asked sleepily
"Your home. Are you ok?" Ponyboy said
"Shoot kid, I've got a massive headache" he jumped to his feet and stumbled over to the bathroom, just as Soda was about to go in, and locked the door.
Soda walked over to the living room
"What's up with him?" he asked Ponyboy
"He's got a hangover" Pony said holding up the empty vodka bottle.
Soda stared at it in shock for a full ten minutes before Darry came back out of the bathroom and threw himself on the couch again.
"Darry, are you ok?" Soda asked him.
But before Darry could answer they heard the distinct sound of police sirens getting louder and louder then a thumping on their door
"Open up it's the police!" screamed the person on the other side of the door.
Ponyboy rushed over and opened the door
"Is there a Darrel Curtis Jr living in this house" the officer said with great urgency.
"I'm Darrel Curtis Jr" Darry said pulling himself up off the couch, "what's all this about?"
"We have a warrant for your arrest for the murder of Cindy Clark and Michael Stern"
The three brothers looked at each in complete shock.
"There must be some mistake" Soda said stepping in front of Darry
"That's him, cuff him" The officer instructed the others ignoring Soda's pleas.
They dragged Darry out to the police car. Ponyboy and Sodapop followed them outside. All the neighbours were out in their front yards trying to see what was going on. As they shoved Darry in the car, he called out "don't worry, this is all a mistake. I'll be back soon".
The cars sped away leaving Ponyboy and Sodapop with no explanation and no indication of his return.
* * *
Ponyboy and Sodapop stood in silence unable to move. They were staring at each other wide-eyed on the veranda were they last saw Darry. Darry, where was he now? Could he really have killed someone? Why was he acting so strange this morning- drinking and smoking?
Ponyboy couldn't stop thinking. He wished he could turn his brain off but that was impossible.
"Do you think that maybe… " he began
"No, of course not" Sodapop said firmly , "don't even think like that Ponyboy!"
"Hey ya'll! What happened?" Two-Bit said walking up the front stairs of the Curtis house. Johnny and Steve were right behind him. They must've hard the sirens.
"Are ya'll ok?" Johnny asked with concern.
"Darry's gone. The cops came and took him way. They said he killed Cindy and someone called Michael Stern" Ponyboy said.
"Are they crazy? Why would he kill his girlfriend?" Two-Bit yelled, "what's wrong with these people?"
"Don't worry'bout it Pony" Johnny said putting an arm around Ponyboy's shoulders, "they'll find out its all one big mistake and send him back"
"Hey, I hate to be the one to tell ya'll this but some guys down where the Shepard's hang said that she's been two-timing him for months" said Steve
"Now how would they know that? Those boys love to talk about business that's not theirs. I don't believe word of it. Darry wouldn't kill anyone for any reason" Two-Bit retorted
"Come on, lets all go in the house now" Johnny said taking Ponyboy by the arm to lead him in the house.
Just as they were all moving towards the door, a car pulled up outside the house. A man and a woman stepped out. The woman had brown curly hair ad green eyes and the man was tall and big. They were both dressed in black formal wear. Sodapop gasped when he saw them and Ponyboy moved closer to him.
"Hi boys" the woman said, walking up the stairs. The man just stood at the bottom of the stairs.
"Hi Mary" Ponyboy managed to say. She was the woman from child services that always came to check up on them.
"Boys, this is not like our usual meetings. You're going to have to come with me today" Mary said simply.
"No, we're waiting for Darry to come home" Soda snapped. He sounded confident but Ponyboy could tell he was close to tears. He knew his brother's voice so well that he could notice even the slightest change.
"I'm sorry Sodapop," Mary said "but Darrel isn't coming home. He's been charged with murder"
"No! That's not true!" Two-Bit shouted, "he didn't do it! We all know that!"
"There's nothing I can do about it" Mary said, "come on boys. Get your things. You're coming with me"
Two-Bit stood in front of Soda and yelled "he aint going anywhere!"
"Oh yes they are" Mary said. She turned and gave a look to the man with her, who nodded and walked up the stairs and stood next to her. Soda and Pony were going whether they liked it or not.
Soda tried pleading again but Pony saw that it was no use. They went inside and took as many things as they could fit in their bags. The didn't own much but they took photos of their parents, any clothes laying around and anything that belonged to Darry. When they went onto the veranda again, they realised they'd have to say goodbye to the gang. Soda couldn't hold back anymore. He burst out crying when Steve came to hug him goodbye. Loosing Darry and the gang was just too much to handle.
"Write to us, we'll come to you wherever you go" Two-Bit whispered to Ponyboy when he hugged him. He hugged Soda too, and as he did, he shoved his precious switchblade in Soda's hand and said, "I'll letting you borrow it but I want it back. You gotta come back and give it to me as soon as you can."
Ponyboy didn't open his mouth because he knew he'd started bawling as so as he did. Johnny was close to tears too. He couldn't imagine life without Ponyboy.
"Come on boys. It'll be ok" Mary said walking back to the car, "come on and get in" she said opening the back door.
Ponyboy and Soda said their last goodbyes to their friends and their house and got in the car. The two brothers held onto each other tightly not knowing what's install for them next.
"Don't worry boys," Mary said looking at them from the rear view mirror, "you're going to like your new home".