I rolled over and looked at the clock it was nine thirty. The guys must have left earlier, while I was asleep. I stood up and suddenly everything smelled like Buck's place. I heard men's voices in the other room they were laughing. Then it came to me. Darry was having people over. I slapped my forehead. He probably didn't want me around. I figured I could just go into the living room grab my book and read in my room. I stepped in the hallway and the pungent smell of beer thickened around me. It was worse than Bucks. I saw five guys sitting around the table smoking and drinking. They were playing cards.
"Oh, yeah, guys! Y'all are looking at boy of the year right here!" One drawled I recognized him. He played foot ball with Darry back in high school his name was Matt. I guess life didn't do to great for him. His arms were built but he had a slight beer gut. There was another one next to Matt. His name was Sean he played foot ball in high school too. He was a senior when Darry was a freshman. He kept his build but was smoking like a chimney. The other two were tan and muscles were easily seen thought their shirts. They were from Darry's work. I think there names are Jake and Mack. They all started laughing at Darry.
"Who would have known that; our team's greatest hellion?" Sean slapped Darry on the back.
Darry a hellion, man, these guys must be drunk. I walked over to the coffee table and grabbed my book but they saw me. Darry with out taking his eyes off his cards scooted out his chair and held his arm out. He beckoned me over. I put my book back down and slowly walked over to him. He wrapped his arm around my waist and sat me on his knee.
"I thought you kept those boys locked up?" Jake laughed.
Darry took a drink of his beer and smiled. "I used to but social services really didn't like that too much." He laughed. I wanted to go back and hibernate in my room but Darry just kept me there. It was weird; this was a side of Darry I never saw. He was acting like a twenty year old guy for once. He was having fun laughing and drinking not a whole lot but he was drinking. He didn't touch the cigars and cigarettes.
"Smoke kid?" Mack asked me in a husky voice.
"Ever try a cigar?"
I shook my head no.
"Damn. Darry you have these kids trained well. Children should be seen not heard. He follows it real good! What do you do beat em'?" Jake snickered.
Darry threw a beer bottle cap at him. "You barbarians are probably scaring him. I wouldn't wanna' talk to you guys either."
Mack handed me his cigar. "Take a puff."
I accepted taking the cigar like a cigarette. I took a puff. It was the worst thing I have ever smoked. It was nothing like cigarettes. I grimaced and handed it back.
"Well, what do you know? Pony can handle his smoke better that Darry over here?"
I starred back at Darry. Darry never smoked.
"What are you talkin' about? He won't touch a cigg." Mack said between puffs.
Matt started to laugh. "Well guess not anymore. In-between seasons, Darry smoked for the first time; on and empty stomach and a whole pack. We go behind the school and Darry here takes one tiny puff and nearly hacks his lungs up. Of course his Daddy decided to pick him up right then and there. Grabs Darry and I by the collar throws us in the car. We the get the speech and get to smoke a whole box each. For me it was easy. For Darry here. After about three he says. "Dad I can't do this anymore please don't make me" and just about hurls on the lawn. I don't think I ever seen a man come so close to tears about smoking."
The whole room was laughing. I couldn't believe it; so Darry tried smoking. I started to laugh. Darry was completely red.
Sean smacked Darry's back again. "You look like you could use another beer."
Darry nodded. "Thanks man."
Sean looked at me. "What about you want a beer?"
"Hell no; He's not drinking." Darry answered for me.
"He's fourteen. His brains cells don't need to be killed. He'll end up as stupid as you.
"Awe, Dare, why so strict? It's nothing you didn't do at his age. If I remember right you puked all over Amber Lacey's shoes."
Darry dropped his cards and smacked his hands over my ears. "No. NO, NO, NO he doesn't need to hear this!"
I pried his hands off my head. "Oh but I think he does."
Sean went to go get the beers.
"Amber Lacey was this girl Darry had a real thing for since freshman year. She was the head cheer leader. After a victory game, we went to the party. Darry had a few beers and Amber and him are steaming the windows up in what I believe was her Dad's brand new mustang. I guess Darry need some more energy because they came back. He took some hard liquor. After a few shots, he couldn't even walk a straight line. So he goes to Amber and the next thing I new he puked all over her pretty little shoes." Sean explained.
I stared at Darry in disbelief. "Is he shitting me?"
Darry glared at me. "No and watch that language little man."
I rolled my eyes. "Amber Lacy that was the girl we snuck out of your house freshman year to meet. Yeah she and her friend at like two in the morning. We climbed out your window." Matt added.
"Yeah well after puking all over her she didn't have much interest any more. And don't you ever pull anything like that! You hear me?" Darry looked at me.
"Yeah I hear you." I lit up a cigarette.
"Darry I now have a story to tell those girls that stop by to check you out at work!" Jack laughed.
"You're just jealous!" Darry said grabbing the money in the middle of the table." And you two couldn't hold you're liquor any better than I could. So shut up."
"Hey Darry remember when we shaving creamed the baseball players cars!" Sean said.
Darry laughed. "We nearly got expelled. The look on the principal's face was priceless. "You're both lucky you are on varsity foot ball or you would be expelled! You both can spend lunch cleaning this off cars. Now I expect you two to learn something from this."" Darry imitated the principal and then threw his head back and laughed.
"The next night we shaving creamed the windows to his house." Sean chimed in. He and Darry both nearly cried from laughing so hard. If I were to do something like that Darry would skin me or maybe now he would take pity.
"Don't even try to pull that off." He said as if he had read my mind.
"I got work in the morning." Mack threw his cards down. "Next week same place?" Darry nodded. "See ya."
"Yeah I should get goin' to Vanessa is bringing the baby over tomorrow and I can't be hung over." Jake chugged his beer. "Good thing you drove." He said to Mack with a grin.
"You took my money." Matt said.
"Mine too." Sean added. "When did you become the poker expert?"
"It's what you bastards get for harassing me all night in front on my kid brother." Darry smirked.
Darry let me off his lap so he could lead his friends out. I sat down on the couch and turned the T.V on.
"So how much do I have to pay you for you to keep your mouth shut to everyone including Soda?" Darry said cleaning up the beer cans.
"How much did you win tonight?" I joked looking up at him and smiling.
He shook his head but grinned at me. "Ponyboy; those aren't the things I'm particularly proud of and I don't want Soda knowing. Or you for that matter."
I shrugged. "I can keep my mouth shut besides I like knowing I don't have superman for my brother. I think Soda likes thinking that thou."
Darry looked me up and down. "You really think I'm superman?" He took a seat next to me on the couch.
"Not so much as you can see through walls but you are perfect. I never see you make mistakes or screw up. Perfect kid; thinks; football player and the list goes on. It's nice to know you make mistakes too. It makes it easier now when I make them."
He reached out and stroked my hair. "What about when I hit you?"
"Wouldn't that be my fault? I didn't use my head. I had two brothers at him waiting up who had to go to work in the morning. All I do is give you excuses and deliberately disobey you."
Darry grabbed my chin and forced me to look at him. "That night was my fault. I made a big mistake when I hit you and I'm sorry but Pony believe me. You're not the only one who makes mistakes. I make them; I just have no one to yell at me anymore. Dad got on my case when I screwed up just never in front of you two. I got grounded for doing a lot of things. Soda screws up too. Heck; even Superman made mistakes. He has a weakness too remember? Kryptonite."
"What you're weakness?" I asked.
Darry looked down at me. "Getting so scared when either of you comes home a little late. I let things get to my head and envision you guys getting killed or jumped."
"I don't mean to." I said hugging him and telling him the words he heard come out of me a thousand times before.
Darry hugged me back. "I know but do you even realize how much I love you kiddo? I can't loose you."
I shivered not knowing what to say. He pulled me tighter.
"I love you too. Don't worry either; I won't tell anyone." I muffled in his shirt.
I realized that I was a pretty lucky kid. I have brothers that love me and I love back. I have the football hero, good student; boy of the year and superman all in one for an older brother but most of all. He was human and he makes mistakes; He was like me when I was younger. I looked up at Darry no one ever said we looked alike or even acted a like but right now. I think we were more alike that anyone else in our family. We made mistakes and both know we will make more. We had the same fear too; loosing each other.