What Would I Do Without You?

I know this isn't exactly like S. E. Hinton said it happened, but I wanted to add some twist to it. I hope you like it and understand why I changed somethings around.

My life has been a sad story. My parents died when I was eighteen, and because there was no one else to take care of them, I had to give up my dream of going to college so I could look after Ponyboy and Soda, my two brothers. Since then, two of my friends died.

One, Johnny Cade, died after being hit with a piece of burning timber across his back. He had been paralyzed, and didn't live much longer after he had been hurt. The other, Dallas Winston, was shot down by the police after he robbed a grocery store. Later, we realized that he had done it on purpose, but it still hurt just the same.

And now, my younger brother Sodapop has just been killed. It was an accident, or so they say. He had been in a store, buying our weekly supplies, and a hooded man came in, looking for someone in particular. He thought it was Sodapop, but he wasn't the one he wanted. He shot my brother, and he died then and there.

I received a phone call later last night. I man told me what had happened, and all I could think was, "Why, God? When will it stop?" I broke down and cried for one of the first times in a long time.

Ponyboy came home from a party he had gone to with some kid named Mark. By then I had collected myself well enough. I noticed when he came in that he had a few bruises on his face, and his lip was cut. But I couldn't think about that now.

Ponyboy looked at my face for a minute, not saying anything. "What happened?" He said, his voice shaking slightly.

"Ponyboy, sit down." I said, trying to delay what I had to tell him. This would be the second time I'd have to tell him the bad news.

"No, Darry, just tell me."

"Well. . .there's, uh. . .been an accident." I began to tell him the story of what had happened and then Ponyboy looked at me and said, "So where is he?"

I had hoped he had caught on that Soda wasn't anywhere, that he was dead, but I guess he needed to hear it, too.

"He's. . .he's dead, Pony."

Ponyboy's face crumpled and he sat down. He didn't cry. He just sat there, staring at the wall. Then, he got up and went to his room and slammed the door behind him.

I thought about going after him, but I left him alone, that is, until I heard him scream in the middle of the night.

I was half asleep, and half awake when I heard the piercing scream from Pony's room. I ran to him, for I knew what was going on. It had happened before.

When our parents died, Ponyboy kept having nightmares every night for weeks. He'd wake up in the middle of the night, either crying, or screaming, or both. It scared me almost as much as it scared him. Sodapop had started sleeping with him, and it slowed down some, but not so much that I didn't take him to the hospital.

The doctor had no diagnosis, but said that Pony had too much imagination. He told him to play more football and read more, and it didn't happen again. The only other time it happened was when he got back from Windrixville.

One time, a couple years ago, Ponyboy had come home late. I was so worried, and when he got home, I yelled at him. In the end, I hit him. He ran away and didn't come back for almost a week. When he did, he forgave me and we were okay again. I still feel guilty about it to this day.

When I got to Pony's room, he was laying face down in his pillow, crying into it. It nearly broke my heart to see him like that. He hadn't cried in years, or at least that I had seen. He hadn't even cried on the anniversary of Mom and Dad's death, or Johnny and Dally's. I hated to see him break again.

I sat down next to him and rubbed his back. I had seen this one too many times.

When his tears were at a minimum, he looked up at me, with red eyes. "Darry?"

"Yes, Pony?" I said, gently.

"Why did this have to happen to us? What are we going to do with out him?" And he began crying again.

"I don't know, baby. We'll make it, somehow." I picked him up and placed him on my lap. At sixteen, he was too old to be held like a baby, but he was hurting and he needed some comfort. He grabbed me around the waist and cried into my shirt front. I cried with him, but I tried to be brave. . .for his sake.

We went to the funeral, and saw for the fourth time one of our loved ones be placed under ground. I couldn't stand the look on Pony's face. He was trying so hard to keep from crying, but it just didn't work.

Two-Bit Mathews and Steve Randle both came. They were what was left of our gang. We had drifted apart since the early days. Two-Bit finally graduated high school, and got a job working as a bartender at some place in Oklahoma City. Steve quit working at the DX about a year back, and he was working for some company in downtown Tulsa. He and Soda were still friends, and they would hag out every now and then, but I rarely saw him. I think we all sort of pulled away after Johnny and Dally died.

They both came up and said a few words to us. I hardly heard them. When the funeral was over, and I said my last good-bye to my brother, I took Ponyboy and we went home.

The next few weeks were hard on me, but I think they were a lot harder on Pony. He didn't talk to me, he hardly ate, and he kept leaving for longer hours of the day. I'd ask him questions, but I rarely got a bigger response then, yes or no.

Ponyboy had been losing weight. I tried getting him to eat more, but he just couldn't. I knew he had been through this before. I thought about telling him to start living again, but I just didn't have the heart to tell him. I'd probably end up yelling at him.

One day, Pony came home bloody and bruised. I got up immediately from my char and came towards him. "What happened?" I asked him, but I didn't get a response.

He walked past me and into his room. He laid down, and just stare up at the ceiling. I came in later with some rubbing alcohol and band-aides. He said nothing as I patched him up. I didn't know if there were anymore cuts than the ones I saw on his face and arms. I didn't bother to look.

When I was about to get up, Pony grabbed my arm. I turned to look at him, and he said, "Don't ever leave me, Darry."

"I won't." I said, and turned to go again, but he held on tight.

"Promise me."

"I promise. I'll always be here, little buddy." I was about out the door when he said, "Don't call me little buddy."

I nodded and moved on.

The next morning, Pony looked worse than ever. I was making eggs when he came stumbling in. I looked at him carefully, wondering what was wrong. "Are you okay, kid?" I asked. And just as he was coming past me, he passed out cold.

Luckily, I was quick enough to catch him. When I set him down on the couch, I noticed something red on my shirt, and on his. I lifted Pony's shirt and saw a large red stain seeping out of his side.

I quickly went to turn off the stove and came back to the living room, picked him up and placed him in the truck.

I drove ass fast as I could. When we finally got there, and carried him in, running as hard as I could. The doctors saw to him promptly, as they understood the seriousness of his condition.

I sat in the waiting room, for they wouldn't let me go with him.

Thoughts kept whirling through my head. "Don't let me lose him, too. Why didn't I notice he was bleeding last night? Why didn't he tell me?"

I didn't know what to do. I sat there, worrying my head off, when, finally, the doctor came out to see me.

I stood up and looked at him, trying to assess what he was going to tell me.

"He'll be fine. He just lost a lot of blood. He had to have twelve stitches in his side, but, other than that, he's going to be all right. He was asking for you."

"May I. . .go see him now?" I asked, hoarsely.

"Yes. You may see him."

I walked down the hallway and into his room. When I walked in, Pony's eyes looked puzzled and frightened at the same time. When he saw me, tears sprang to his eyes.

"You said you'd never leave me." He said, crying.

"Oh, Ponyboy." I said, crying along with him. I ran up to his bed side and hugged him tightly. He let me cry, while he cried too.

"I never left you, Pony. I'm right here. I never will leave you."

When we were both done crying, I sat down in one of the chairs and looked at him. "What happened, Pony?" I asked.

"Well, I don't really remember everything, but I remember some. It was dark and I wasn't really sure where I was. I had been walking around with some guys from school, when this car pulled up. The guy driving said, 'Are you Ponyboy Curtis?' And I said, 'Yeah.' Then the guy gets out of the car, and starts hitting me. I don't know what I did wrong, but I hit him back. He finally had me pinned against the wall and says, 'I might have gotten your brother instead of you, but that don't mean I can't kill you both.' Then I realized it was the guy who shot Sodapop. I let out an angry scream and I punched the heck out of him. He wasn't going to get away with anything like that.

When he finally passed out, I got to the pay phone and called the police. When they got there, they took him away, and offered to take me to the hospital. I knew you'd worry if I came home late. . ." He paused, remembering the last time he was late coming home. "Well, anyway, I told them I didn't need a ride and I walked home. I hadn't realized the guy had cut me until this morning. I remember thinking it hurt a lot, but I figured I was just sore. I didn't know when he cut me. It must have been when I was on top of him."

He stopped, looked at me and said, "I can't believe all that could happen with just me trying to come home from work."

I looked at him, confused. "Work?"

"Yeah, I been working at the DX. I figured if we didn't get enough money, they'd separate us. I didn't want that to happen. I couldn't live without you, Darry. You're the only family I have left, and I love you so much."

He spread his arms out for a hug, and I accepted graciously.

As he hugged me tight, I said to him and myself, "What would I do without you?"