The dull chime of the clock on the wall was ringing in 11AM as Two-Bit walked in the Curtis house one Saturday morning. After the party at Buck's last night, he was amazed he wasn't more hung over than he was. Actually, he was feeling pretty good as he strode in the door, thanking God Darry wasn't home when it slammed behind him. Seeing that the living room was empty, he headed to the kitchen to find some grub, but instead swiped a bottle of beer out of the refrigerator and slipped out the back door to find Ponyboy smoking on cement stairs.

"Hey, kid. What's up? Where is everyone?" he asked.

"Darry's at work. Soda's at work. Steve's at work. Everyone works, Two-Bit, except for you," came Pony's particularly snarky reply.

"Well, geez, rugrat, who pissed in your oatmeal?" Two-Bit countered defensively, but not angrily.


The silence was thick for all of the 5 seconds that Two-Bit could stand.

"So you got in a fight with Darry again, huh?" he asked when he could take no more.

Pony stayed quiet, obviously more angry then he wanted to say.

"Well, shoot, kid. You seem to need some cheering up. And it must be your lucky day because, well," he paused for a long moment, "I'm here!"

Anger flashed in Pony's eyes along with the clear annoyance that had been there from the start. "Two-Bit Mathews, you are not as funny as you think and you don't know nothing about where I'm coming from, so you shut your mouth and stay the hell away from me."

At that, Two-Bit started laughing like a loon, bending over to catch his breath after a few minutes. "I ain't never seen you so angry, Pony." More laughter. "You're flipping more than Kathy did when she caught me with that blonde Linda down by the river." He stopped laughing then and straightened, but cracked a grin as he was obviously remembering. "Boy howdy, she was madder than a wet hen. Came at me all claws and teeth, like a wildebeest, but that Linda, she was a quick one. A middle classer. Don't know what she was doing with me. Anyhow, she took a few steps forward and told her that she'd been assigned to me by the principal to help me finally get past the 11th grade. Then, out of nowhere, I swear it, she pulled out this bookbag and showed Kathy her math book. You know, it's not so bad looking, the math book. Bright colored and all. Anyway, you know Kathy. She's not the brightest crayon in the box and she believed her. All the while, I'm wiping the lipstick from my mouth while she's distracted. I think I got it all because Kathy didn't hold no grudge and kissed me good and solid when she finally got to me. That Linda's a looker, I tell you. Don't know what you're waiting for on the whole girl front. Makes life a bit more fun. Maybe you wouldn't be so crabby if you got yourself a girl."

Pony had zoned out while Two-Bit went on talking, but took offense to his last comment. "I'm not crabby, Two-Bit," he stressed the name, "but if I was, it wouldn't be fixed by having a girl. God knows I got enough shit going on in this house without adding a damn girl to the mix," he finished with a huff and lit up another cigarette.

"Chain smokin', yellin' about girls, cussin' at me for no reason at all. Musta been a doozy," Two-Bit noted. When Pony stayed silent again, he continued. "Wanna go to the Dingo? I'll buy you lunch if you promise not to come at me like a wildebeest. I had about enough of that. Can't take no more."

"I don't think so," Pony answered. "Not in the mood."

"Come on," Two-Bit prodded. "If you don't go, I'm going to have to tell you stories until you're in a good enough mood to say yes. I got lots," he warned.

Pony hesitated, and Two-Bit took the opportunity to launch into a second tale.

"Well, I woke up on the floor this morning, sort of. I mean, I was on the floor, but it was just barely morning and I hadn't just woke up. I missed Mickey and everything. I never miss Mickey. I'm up at the crack of 10 every Saturday, 'specially for it. But nope, not this mornin'. Buck's was crazy last night. More grease in that place than in all the shops in Tulsa. Maybe even all of Oklahoma. Tim and his boys showed up and crashed the party. A couple a middle class girls were there too, dancin' with all the grease trash, probably to make Mommy and Daddy mad. Back to the point, Kathy was there and decided she wanted to drink. And you know me – I can't pass up a good drinkin' night for all the oil in Texas. So we start off easy, just the cheap beer Buck serves to the regulars. Then she decides she wants to play a little game and we start up with the Jack. By the time midnight rolls around, we're off our rockers and dancing around like there'd be no tomorrow to that awful Hank Williams shit Buck plays. We had a few friends in on our games and shots so we weren't the only ones out there, but we were definitely the best."

Pony tried to interrupt, to tell Two-Bit that he'd go to the Dingo if he promised to stop it with the stories, but there was no getting to him. He'd started and he was gonna keep talking until he ran out of stories, drank himself silly, went to the Dingo, though there was no guarantee there, or fell asleep. Which it would be remained to be seen.

"Oh, that reminds me of the dance competition Soda and I entered. Golly, that was fun – we were tearing it up out there too, crushing all those Socie hopes and dreams of a trophy. One of the best competitions I ever entered. Anyway, so we're dancing, and all the sudden, Kathy falls over, straight out of my arms. Dropped to the ground like a lead balloon. So, being the nice guy that I am, I check on her and she's passed out, drunk as a skunk, there on the dance floor. Now, I've seen Kathy drink, but never like last night and I didn't know what to do. So I pick her up and set her in a chair over by the bar, but I didn't want to leave her. We may be on and off, but I don't want anything happenin' to her like what goes on at Bucks. But I couldn't take her home either. Her dad would flip and then she'd bitch at me for letting her get in trouble. I decided it was time to go and we'd just go back to my place to let her sleep it off and she'd get home later. So I put her in my car and hoped the brakes worked as I started off toward home."

He paused for a minute and Pony thought that the bombardment had finally stopped, but it seemed that wasn't the case when Two-Bit started again after catching his breath.

"So I take her home, put her in my bed, and head to the bathroom for some aspirin. I knew I'd need a few and I figured she might too so I brought them back in and set 'em on the table for her. I remember thinkin' I should set an alarm, but I don't think I did. I mean, I must not have because the next thing I know, it's 6AM and she's kickin' me, tellin' me to wake up and that she's dead. It didn't make no sense to me, because I could definitely feel the kicking and how can she kick me if she's dead? How can anyone kick when they're dead? But I opened my eyes anyway. 'Two-Bit', she yells like it's the middle of the day and not 6 in the morning, 'how could you let me sleep so long? I ain't been home yet and my daddy's gonna skin me when I get there!' Like somehow it was my fault that she passed out from all the drinking she was doing. She ain't a fish, ya know. Anyway, so I just close my eyes and roll over and she's still kicking and poking at me." Two-Bit did an impression of her then, a voice higher than Pony thought could come from him and a nagging tone to boot. "'Two-Bit, you take me home this instant or we are done. For good, this time. None of this on and off bullshit. It's your fault I'm going to be in trouble anyway and if you don't fix it, we're through.' Well, I just grunted and pulled the pillow over my ears. I was tired and had a headache and she was yelling; what was I supposed to do? She goes off on me one more time, and finally I told her to 'sit on it' and that made her real mad. So she pushes me one good shove with me still holding the pillow over my head and I fell off the bed. My bed ain't so big anyway, and there were two of us on it. I crashed down on my ass, and boy, did that hurt. Then she storms out of the room and I hear the door slam a minute later. I don't know why she was mad at me. I didn't make her drink. She didn't' even thank me for not letting her stay there to get trampled or worse. And she didn't take the aspirin I left for her. Nope, she just started in on the nagging."

Two-Bit paused again and rather than try and interrupt this time, Pony decided a less vocal approach would be better. He put on the shoes he'd taken off and walked away, sure that Two-Bit would follow. When he did, Pony started toward the Dingo, hoping that somewhere along the way, Two-Bit would notice that his wishes were met and shut up. Fat chance. As expected, and dreaded, he continued talking.

"She's always nagging me. 'Do this, do that. Take me here, don't kiss me now.' I can't stand it. I guess we're off again, but I don't much care. Now, that Linda. She's a great little package, she is. Met her down by the river, I did. We were talking a bit and she ups and kisses me. Woulda been a lot better if Kathy hadn't showed up. Oh man, that was doozy. She walks up and sees me with another girl and she was madder than a wet hen. Came at me all claws and teeth, like a wildebeest…"

Pony sighed then and decided that he'd be better off thinking about his argument with Darry. And so he did.