The Outsiders: Dallas Winston's Point of View
We finished the rumble. We won! I thought. We won! But then my thoughts changed.
Johnny. I've gotta tell Johnny. I've gotta tell him how proud—I've gotta tell him that—no. No time to think. He might be dead already. NO! JOHNNY WILL NOT DIE!!!!
I grabbed Pony. They were best friends. Pony had to be the best friend a guy could ever have. I realized that I had never returned the feeling. Pony had to be the best guy in the world. And me? I was trash compared to him. Total trash. I was hard. Tough. Mean, I'd heard some people say. I was nothing against Ponyboy Curtis. I was not necessarily a good friend. Sure, the gang told me I was their friend, a good friend. But when had I ever run with someone after they'd killed a kid? Maybe they all came to me when they needed to hide. But what was I compared to someone like Ponyboy Curtis, Two-Bit Matthews, or Stave Randle, Darry or Soda? Who was I against Johnny Cade?
So I grabbed Pony. "Come on!" I yelled, dragging my eyes away form the Socs, who were running as fast as they could to their Mustangs. "We're going to see Johnny!"
I realized that I was dragging Pony down the street. He kept stumbling, falling over. I shoved him once or twice, to keep him moving. I was impatient.
"Come on!" I said. "Hurry. He was getting worse when I left. But he wants to see you." I had parked Buck's T-Bird out by the Curtis's so I half dragged Pony over there, and managed to get him in the front seat. I slid in next to him and started the engine. I didn't care if I was going over the speed limit. I have to tell Johnny! I kept thinking. The fuzz caught up.
"Look sick," I told Pony. "I'll tell him I'm taking you to the hospital. That'll be true enough. The police man knew me, and looked almost disgusted at how fast I was going.
"The fire, where is it?" he asked me dryly.
"I'm taking the kid to the hospital. He fell off his motorcycle." The fuzz looked at Pony, who looked pretty bad.
"Is he bad?"
"I'm supposed to know?" I snapped. "Do I look like a doctor to you?"
"I'll give you an escort," the police man said. As he turned around to get into his car, I hissed, "Sucker!" I knew I was taking it the wrong way. He was just doing his job, being nice. And Pony did look like—uh, a pretty bad word would normally go there. And he probably needed a doctor. Johnny, don't die! I thought. Not yet. Don't die!
I was talking, talking to Pony. I'm not sure what I was saying. He probably didn't know either.
"I was crazy, you know? Crazy. Didn't want Johnny in trouble. If he'd been like me, he wouldn't have gotten into this mess. If he'd been smart like me, he wouldn't have run into that church. That's all you get for helping people. Editorials in the paper…trouble. Wise up, Pony. You get tough like me, and then you don't get hurt. You get tough like me and then nothing can touch you!"
I wasn't sure if I was angry or worried, scared or sad. I didn't know. We got to the hospital in a matter of minutes. We ran up to Johnny's floor.
"We've got to see Johnny!" I shouted at the doctor. I pulled out Two-Bit's switchblade. But that didn't even faze him.
"I'm letting you in, not because of your knife, but because he's your friend."
I blinked then put the knife away. We went in there. It was quiet. Too quiet. Death quiet.
"Johnny?" I whispered. I wasn't sure if I wanted to break the silence. "Johnnycake?" He was still alive!
"Hey," he said. But his voice was so weak, we barely heard him.
"We beat the Socs," I said. "Chased 'em right outta our territory.
"Useless…" Johnny whispered.
"They're still writing about you in the papers, you know. Being a hero and all that. You know, we're proud of you. You know that? We're proud of you, buddy." I was still talking really quietly. Johnny's eyes were glowing now—he'd heard me. And then it hit me. All Johnny wanted was to be wanted. All Johnny wanted was to have someone be proud of him. He wanted someone who couldn't live without him. He wanted someone to be proud of him.
And that someone…was me.
"Ponyboy…" Johnny whispered. "Stay gold, Ponyboy…stay gold…" he looked back at me…then he died. There were tears in my eyes but I ignored them. I brushed back his bangs, but they didn't stay back.
"Never could get them to stay back. Never could… That's all you get for trying to help people…that's all you get." I couldn't take it. I just exploded inside. My heart was torn up into all these little pieces…and they were scattering way too far for me to put them back together. I couldn't hold anything in any more. I slammed my fist into the wall. Hard. But I didn't notice the pain. "Damnit, Johnny!" I screamed. Now I was banging the wall. I couldn't think of what to do. So I hammered the wall over and over. I didn't notice the pain. "Damnit, Johnny, don't die on me now! Please don't die on me!"
I ran. I ran out the room and down the hall. I forgot that Pony was there. I ran into a doctor on some lower floor.
"You can't be here!" he said. I pulled out Two-Bit's switch again.
"Yes, I can be here!" I hissed. He backed away. I ran down the hall and found my way out the door. I stood in the parking lot and screamed.
"Why do you bother helping people!?!?" I shouted. I didn't care if no one heard. "It doesn't do any good!" I knew that wasn't true. Somewhere deep inside of me, I knew that wasn't true. But I didn't care. I didn't care.
I jumped into Buck's T-Bird and roared off. I didn't realize where I was going. Before I knew it, I had speeded into the grocery store's parking lot. I didn't know what I was doing. All the broken little pieces of my heart were flying out behind me—scattering. Scattering way too far. And I couldn't see some of them anymore. So how could I pick them up and go back to life being the way it was? Life would never be the way it was. Not without Johnny. I sat in the car for fifteen minutes.
I cried. Yes. I, Dallas Winston, cried. I cried because Johnny was dead. I cried because I couldn't live without him.
I cried because he was the only person who I'd ever really loved.
With the realization of that thought, anger boiled up in me. I didn't know who I was angry at: Johnny, for dying; the fire, for killing him; God, for telling him it was time to die; or me, for not realizing all these things sooner, so that I could have shared them with Johnny. Why hadn't I realized them before Johnny had died? Why? Why? I didn't understand.
Without understanding anything, without knowing what I was doing, I got out of the car. I stepped inside the store, and suddenly, as if a curtain had drawn away, my mind was clear. I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted.
And I wanted to die.
Because there was nothing left for me to live for.
There was no one in the store except me and the one clerk, who was getting ready to close. I looked beat up and not so good. The clerk's eyes followed me as I wandered around the store. I could feel his eyes following me. And I hated it. So my anger came back, for all those things I've mentioned before, and now, for this store, its clerk, and those eyes that were staring at me.
I made it to the magazine rack and picked one up. I made a show about pretending to read it. I dropped it on purpose, and 'accidentally' stepped on it before picking it up, just to see how angry I could get this guy—if I could get him as angry as me. He didn't say anything, just stared at me. I wondered if he knew how much he was pissing me off.
"Would you like to buy that?" he said suddenly. I slowly turned my head to stare at him. Not many people can stare me down while I'm angry, but this idiot did a pretty good job of it. "I said, would you like—"
"I heard you," I snapped waspishly. I slammed the magazine down on the rack and started toward him. I reached toward my back pocket where Two-Bit's switchblade was. Then my hand stopped halfway there. The gun! I had a heater on me. It wasn't loaded. When had I told Pony and Johnny about that? Was that yesterday? When was yesterday? Wasn't yesterday something like ten years ago? I lost all concept of time as I reached down and unhooked the gun from my belt. The perfect way to get the fuzz after me…the perfect way…to die...
I yanked the gun out and up. I wasn't thinking. My mind was completely blank. I pressed the gun to the man's cheek.
"Give me it…" I whispered. "Give me the money…" He didn't protest at all. I had fifty bucks and a few dollars in change shoved into my hand. I took the gun away and turned toward the door. I left at a dead run, dropping the fifty on the ground just outside the door. I didn't want it. I didn't care. I left Buck's T-Bird where it was. It would be easier for the police to catch me if I was on foot. So much easier…
I bolted. I heard a gunshot from the store. So that clerk wasn't as defenseless as I'd thought. Too bad, I was way down the street by then. I ran a little farther then stopped on a corner to get my bearings. The storm that had abated at the end of the rumble started up again. The sky opened up and rain poured down my face, disguising my tears. Now what was I crying for?
Darry… Darrel Curtis had been my big brother since the day I'd met him. I had no family connections to him at all. He was the one I just went to for everything. If I was hurt, upset, angry, tired—anything—I went to Darry. Why didn't I think of him before?
I ran as fast as I could to the nearest pay-phone. I used the change that I'd kept from the grocery store and dialed the Curtis' number. Two rings. I was afraid they weren't going to pick up. Then—
"Darry?" I asked.
"Nope. Soda. What's up Dal?"
"I need to talk to Darry." I seriously didn't care if Soda heard the tremor in my voice.
"Hello?" said the voice at the other end.
"Hey, Dally. You okay?"
"No," I said, nearly choking over the lump in my throat. "I'm not okay. Johnny—Johnny's dead…he—he…"
"I know. Pony made it home. What happened?"
"I—I—I blew up inside. I've got nothing left."
"That's not true—you've got us."
"Darry, listen." My voice was more urgent and my tears were coming faster. "I—I couldn't h-hold it in. I h-held up th-the grocery st-store. I left the money, b-but, they're c-coming anyway." I realized my voice was shaking. Where was my strength? Had it just disappeared? "Can you meet me in the lot?"
"Yeah, no problem Dally. We'll see you in five minutes." Darry hung up. I realized that he was worried. He had tried to disguise the fear in his voice, but it hadn't worked. I heard a siren and turned around. There was a flash of red from around the corner and I bolted out onto the sidewalk. I pounded my way toward the lot, the sirens were following me.
There were no thoughts running through my head. I just ran. And I cried. But the rain poured down, and my tears were mixed up in the rain. My breath was coming in short gasps, and my chest heaved. But I didn't feel the pain. My side ached and there was a cramp forming in my leg. But I didn't feel the pain. I felt nothing. In my mind's eye, my heart was still trailing its tiny little pieces behind me as I ran. Scattering, scattering. But there was no pain. No pain.
I pounded into the lot and saw the gang running toward me. Soda, Steve, Two-Bit, Pony, and Darry. I remembered the ritual we had before any rumble. We'd always meet at the Curtis'. We'd get ourselves ready, and then we'd leave together—as a pack—as a gang. We'd do acrobatics as we jumped off the stairs. I wondered vaguely if they had done summersaults off the stairs as they ran toward the lot to meet me.
I stopped under the street light and stared at them. They looked so good together. They were a gang. There wasn't a place there for me. But then as I looked again, I noticed a space. They were running in a group. Darry and Steve came first, then Two-Bit, then Soda and Pony, who had a space between them. I realized how wrong I was. There was a place for me. And there was a place for Johnny. Johnny belonged right next to Two-Bit, in the middle, surrounded, protected by the rest of us. I belonged at the end, with Soda and Pony, bringing up the rear-guard—the most important position.
The sirens were drawing closer. I turned away from the guys, my eyes stinging with unshed tears. I pulled out the unloaded gun and held it aloft under the street light. I'd made up my mind. It was too late to turn back. The police got out of their cars and ran towards me. I pointed the heater at the nearest one, and quick as a wink, he'd fired at me. Two more bullets followed the first. Someone—Darry—was shouting. I didn't understand the words. I didn't want to understand.
I just stood there waiting. I've read a few of the things Pony had leant me. I never really understood what authors meant when they say, "His life flashed before his eyes." I've never wanted to die, so I never bothered to find out what it meant. I figured now that Johnny would have known what it meant.
I wasn't sure, but I thought I might have had a glimpse of what that was. If it means the way you remember things right before you die, then I know what it means. If it means remembering the really little things, then I know what it means.
Everything was in slow motion. First, I was with the whole gang, we were walking though town. We were laughing. Then, we were in the lot. We were playing football like we do every Sunday. Pony and Johnny were ganging up on me, trying to tackle me while I was trying to catch the ball. When they'd finally got me down, we were laughing hysterically. Next I was sitting on the curb by the lot. It was me and Pony and Johnny. We were just sitting, talking. It was at night, and Pony kept telling us to look at the stars. We all lay down and then he started pointing out constellations to us, and we were making up stories about each one. Last, their faces flashed across my eyes.
Steve. Laughing with his smile like sunshine. Soda. As good-looking as ever, and trying to whistle while laughing. Two-Bit. With his big, funny grin and one eye-brow cocked. Pony. His little innocent face full of laughter, while his green eyes raced across the page of his book. Darry. His hair falling into his ice-rock eyes, trying hard not to grin at Soda, and failing. Johnny. Dark bangs in his dark eyes, laughing with the rest, fear forgotten for a moment.
Then the slow motion ended. The bullets hit me, one after the other after the other. Three or four. But I wasn't paying any attention. I didn't feel the pain. I tired to stay standing under the glare of the street light, but the heater fell from my fingers as the impact of the bullets whipped me around. I was smiling. Tears were streaming down my face, but it wasn't from the pain. I didn't feel any pain. No pain. I closed my eyes and opened them. Darry's face swam into view, and I smiled. Because I wanted to die. And because there was no pain.
I was falling. I smiled at the gang one more time. They didn't need me. Yes, they need you! a voice said. Too late, another countered.
I was falling. There was one more thing I had to do. I couldn't speak though. My throat was choked up with my tears. Then I remembered what Pony had said once. If you want it hard enough it will happen. If you want it hard enough. Hell, I wanted it. I had to tell the gang one more thing. Hoping it would work, I thought out what I wanted to say, and wished for the others to hear it. I'll miss you guys. Good-bye. That was it. if they really did hear, I'll never know.
I was still falling, but I didn't really know that. Another bullet pierced my side. But there was still no pain. I didn't feel anything—not the anger, not the fear, not the tears, not the rain, not the cold. Not the pain. I felt nothing. No pain.
I don't know if I hit the ground. The street light went dark in my mind. I stared up and saw the sky. Pony always said to look at the stars…I stared upwards, and saw not the stars, but faces—the faces of my friends had taken the place of stars. I smiled and closed my eyes for one last time. I don't know if I hit the ground.
There was no more pain. No more tears.
Everything went dark.
Then there was nothing…