I never told no one.

Sure, I told the gang about walkin alone and gettin jumped, but I never said nothin about the other thing. Man, I couldn't tell no one about that. Not even Pony, who's about my best friend in the world.

I guess it was my fault it happened in the first place; I mean, you have to be some special kind of dumb to go out at night when the socs been cruisin around our side of town for the longest, hopin to catch a greaser like me alone, but I wasn't thinkin real good that night. My head and back hurt from where my dad hit me and my brain was so full of his yellin and swearin that I couldn't hardly hear my own thoughts. I guess that's why I never heard the Mustang pull up behind me.

The only reason I know they're there was that one of them drops a bottle of booze and it busts in the street. I turn around at that, all right, and see the socs creepin up behind me. That wakes me right up and I start runnin, but it's too late.

With my achin back and head I don't get but half a block before they's on me. Three of them grab me while the fourth just stands there laughin and givin orders. He's tall and blonde and has rings on his hand and I figure him for the King Soc.

"Look here, boys," he says while I twist and kick and try to get away, to yell, somethin. "We found ourselves a baby greaser. Know what you have to do with baby greasers? You kill 'em before they make more baby greasers."

The other socs laugh like it's the funniest thing they ever heard. I'm pretty pinned by this time, and I figure I'm in for a beatin. I ain't that scared, though. Don't get me wrong, I ain't lookin forward to it, but shoot, it can't be no worse than some my own dad and mom has dished out. When you know it's comin it's just best to stay quiet and take it. Pretty soon they get bored and leave you be.

"'Course," the blonde soc goes on, reelin and staggerin up to me, "that's the only thing a greaser can do, make babies." Now he leans down so he's in my face. I can smell whatever it is he's been drinkin and he's been drinkin a lot. "This one's kinda pretty, like a girl. Look at those lips. I bet he is a girl. What do you boys think? Huh?"

The others laugh so hard they almost fall down in the street. Not the blonde, though. He's starin at me real scary, real...I don't know the word. Pony would, but he ain't here and I am and I got a world of trouble, 'cause this soc is different. Wrong, somehow.

"Do you think, if we asked him reeeeal politely, he'd show us he's not?" His eyes dance and seem like they fill with somethin.

"Ask him, Bob!" one of the others says and now Bob is kneelin beside me. I can see his eyes good and close and they ain't right. He's been drinkin sure enough, but I know good enough what drunk looks like and there's somethin more. He's lookin at me like...well, like Dally looks at Sylvia, but that can't be it. I'm a boy and he's a boy and more than that, he's a soc. There ain't no queer socs, 'least not that I know of. Maybe there is, but I'll ask Pony about it. He knows stuff like that. When this is over, I'll go to their house like I always do and they'll clean me up and feed me and make me feel better. Maybe there's a good movie on tv and we'll lay on the couch and watch it. Maybe there's a chocolate cake in the icebox and we'll all have a big piece and talk about sports and Darry will tell us about his football days. Look, it sounds stupid that I'm thinkin this just as I'm about to be creamed, but thinkin about Pony and about bein on the couch in his safe house and not here gives me strength.When this is over, is all I can think. When this is over.

"What about it, grease?" Bob asks and now he's looking me up and down. "Show us what white trash dick looks like." He's real unsteady, but he manages to unzip my jeans. All at once I realize that a beatin's the least of my worries. I twist and kick out at the same time and I connect with Bob's chin. He swears and nails me one across the face. I feel my cheek split 'cause of his rings and blood runs down the right side of my face, warm in the cool night wind. The other socs start in on me now. I try to curl up, but they keep at me with their feet and fists, breakin ribs, splittin skin, not givin me a second to breathe or think or-or anythin but feel pain everywhere. By the time they stop, my body's on fire, the parts that ain't numb. I ain't thinkin about gettin away or about anythin else. I can't think. It's all I can do to keep the tears back, but I ain't gonna cry in front of a bunch of socs. They don't get to have that part of me.

Bob is back in my face and I can see a red spot where I nailed him. Hate ain't much like me, but I hope at least that part of the rich bastard is hurtin as much as I am. "Should've known we couldn't ask a greaser nicely. Filthy fuckers don't understand complicated things like manners, you see." His hand is on my thigh now and he's smiling and suddely I'm more scared than I've ever been in my life. I know all about being beat up and that's somethin I can understand, but the worst thing is, I don't know what's comin next. It's like bein blindfolded and havin your ears stopped up and someone shoves you off a cliff. You know there's a drop somewhere, but you don't know where or when you'll hit it.

Bob makes a sudden move and grabs me through my jeans. It hurts, but I'm not mindin the pain as much as the shame that comes with havin another boy's hand down there. No one's ever touched me like that and I must've made a sound because they all laugh again. "See," Bob goes on, "I believe he's a boy, but maybe I just don't have a clear enough view." With one move, he yanks my jeans and shorts down to my knees and stares down at me. I feel worse right then than I ever have in my life. It ain't just bein half-naked in front of a bunch of strangers and it ain't just the pain of the beatin. It's that, but it's also the feelin that this ain't the worst, that I'm still droppin off that cliff and ain't hit bottom yet.

"I guess he is a boy." Bob's voice has gotten all funny, soft and raspy, and his breathing is comin hard like he's just ran a race. His eyes are far away and his hands keeps movin up and down my thighs, but not like he knows it's happenin. I look up at the other socs and all of a sudden they don't look so cocky as they did at first. They're glancin at each other, but they don't seem to want to look right at each other. It's like they don't wanna see what they see.

"Turn him over."

The socs shift around and none of them say nothin for a minute. Then the tall curly haired one does. "Hey, screw this, man. Let's go to Ted's. The party should just be getting good." Bob doesn't say nothin, just stares down at me, down through me, and the curly-haired soc tries again. "Come on, Bob. Ted's parents are gone and there should be plenty of girls. College girls, even. Let's get there before all the pretty ones are gone. I don't want to get stuck with a pig." Curly Hair tries a laugh that no one else picks up.

"Later. Right now, I need to show this greaser boy what it means to be a man. You want that, don't you, greaser boy? You want to grow up?" Suddenly Bob backhands me, rockin my head back and against the pavement. God, I'm in so much trouble. I look up at the socs, thinkin maybe they won't help no more. Maybe they're finished and they'll just get up and leave, but they're still holdin me down. They're still lookin away, like socs do. When things get too real, they can afford to just pretend and that's what bein a soc is all about. I'll tell Pony. But I don't want to think about Pony no more because it's like draggin him into this, makin him a part, and I don't want that.

The socs flip me over and I'm lyin on the ground with the street cold and scrapin my bare skin. I think some ribs are broke because that's where most of the pain is. I wonder how long it'll take me to get better, only because I don't want to think about what's gonna happen next. I hear a zipper and cloth slide down skin and I know what's gonna happen next. It'll be like the pictures in the book Dally stole off a queer he jumped. Me and Pony and Dally sat in the kitchen lookin at those pictures and laughin until Darry came in and yelled at Dally to get that filth out of his house. That book ain't so funny now, never will be again, but I wish I was back there all the same. I wish I was Dally or Darry, but I ain't. I ain't no one, and that's why this is happening to me.

When it starts, I close my eyes tight and bite my arm real hard. I keep tellin myself it can't go on like this, that I'll die soon and everythin will be okay. I talk about dyin a lot, but I never meant it before, not like I do now. Oh God, please make it stop! Please make it stop and I'll do anything. I can't take it no more! I ain't really prayin. It ain't that I don't believe in God. There's a God alright, but He only listens to socs. He gives them everything, so why would He listen to one scared greaser? I taste blood and realize I bit into my arm. I try real hard to focus on the pain in my arm because then the pain in that other place ain't so much.

How long did it go on? I don't know. I was half passed out. I just know that one minute it was happening and the next it stoppped and Bob was off me, pulling his pants on. He might've said somethin-probably did-but I don't remember what. I don't remember nothin more about Bob, but I felt a hand on my shoulder and saw the curly-haired boy still kneelin beside me. "Kid-oh Jesus, kid." Right then, he didn't look like a soc, he just looked sad and scared and lost, like he felt what I was feelin.

I get the feelin he wants to do somethin, maybe even help me a little, but just then Bob calls to him. "Let's go, Randy, you big queer! The girls at Ted's aren't getting any prettier!" He laughs like he's havin a high ol time skiin or whatever it is socs do for fun and the others join in a little. Randy takes his hand off me and lays his clean white handkerchief on my shoulder. I coulda swore he whispers "I'm sorry" before he jumps in the Mustang and they peel out.

My insides feel like they was ripped out and I feel blood runnin down my legs. I'm bleedin to death right here. How can anyone feel this bad inside and not be bleedin to death? Suddenly I know I don't want to die. Not like this, lyin in the street. Not alone, away from all my friends. I gotta get up and get some help. The first time I try to turn over I scream and fall back. The second time I make it to my knees before I have to stop. The world is goin away and I have to breathe hard to make it come back. I finally make it to my feet and look down to see how bad it is. I guess there ain't as much blood as I thought, not half as much as what it felt like, but I gotta clean up. I can't let anyone know what happened. Randy's handkerchief is there and I use that to wipe away as much as I can. If I can just make it to my house I can clean up there. Dad will be out at some poker game and Mom will be passed out by now, so no one will notice. Then I can go to Pony's house and stay there til I'm better.

I'm hurt worse than I ever been, but I got four blocks to go and it ain't gettin any closer, so I just put one foot in front of the other and grit my teeth real hard. The pain is awful and hurts me deep inside where I never thought a person could hurt. It's different from the pain in my head or back or ribs because I can touch those things and somehow that makes the hurt okay. But I can't see inside me where this hurt is and anythin could be goin on in there.

I'm tryin not to think about what happened. I just got jumped, that's all. Happens all the time. The other thing...well, it never happened, that's all. Right?

I don't remember makin it to the vacant lot, lyin down in the grass, and coverin myself with newspaper, but I guess I did because that's where Two-Bit found me. One minute I'm walkin down the street and the next he's carryin me to the Curtis house. He's swearin and scared, which makes me feel good. Not that he's scared, but that he's scared for me. Someone thinks I'm worth bein scared about.

I'm okay while they're layin me on the couch and everyone's hurryin around me, wipin my face and askin me what happened. Soda is holdin me and rockin me and Darry is swearin he'll kill whoever did this to me. I hold it together okay until Pony comes out, rubbin his eyes. He takes one look at me and starts bawlin. He's so broke up over me that I let loose too. I thought I was okay, but I ain't. I tell them what happened, everything but that one part. Lyin there in Soda's arms I cry forever and then Darry gives me something to drink and I feel sleepy.

I wake up in Pony's bed, with Pony holdin me. He's got tears dryin on his face and I reach up to wipe them away. I think about the gang and how they took care of me tonight. Then I think about what they'd think if they knew everything, how they'd look at me then.

I hate that soc for what he did, but I hate myself, too. It was my fault, I know that. Not just for walkin alone at night, but for what I am. The socs could probably see it. Maybe it was the way I walked and maybe just something else about me that told them what I am. But Bob knew and that's why they did what he did. Probably thought I would like it or somethin.

But that makes me remember and I start to shake. It hurts, but I can't stop, like the time I had pneumonia and that high fever. I don't want to, but I start to cry anyway. It's comin from somewhere I never knew was there and I can't stop it. I try to be quiet but I can't even do that. I'm just shakin and sobbin and feeling like I should've died in the street after all. At least then I wouldn't be so hurt and scared and ashamed, knowin it would never go away.

I must've said that because next thing I know Pony is awake and pullin me close and tellin me not to talk crazy. He tells me I'm his best friend and he doesn't know what he'd do without me. He talks about stuff we did together when we was little kids and stuff we'll do together when we're older. We'll always be together, he says, and that's enough for me.

I lay my head on Pony's shoulder and listen to him whisper. The socs couldn't've known how I feel about Pony and how I look at him when he ain't lookin back. There were times I almost came out and told him, but I never did. I'm glad now because I would never do to him what was done to me tonight. Never.

I never told no one.