Dallas Winston. The name evoked fear in many a man. Back in New York, Dallas had been a vicious kid. He was first taken in by the fuzz at the age of ten, after stabbing a man in the leg. It hadn't killed him, and Dallas managed to convince the cops that it was self-defense. He was let off, but he didn't learn his lesson. A year later, he sat in jail for two weeks after a rather violent gang fight. He didn't belong to a gang, he had just been walking by, innocently, and one gang member pushed him just a bit too hard. Dallas still had the scars on his back from the beating his father had given him after that. But it didn't stop him. Dallas continued fighting. He continued drinking. He was hauled in at least twice a month for the next three years. Eventually, Mrs. Winston suggested they move somewhere else, somewhere calmer. Maybe Texas, where Dallas had been born. Mr. Winston didn't quite agree. The kid needs to learn that he can't run away from his problems, he yelled. We can't protect him forever.
At the age of fifteen, though, Dallas was arrested for joyriding. In a fire truck. Nobody was entirely sure how he managed to get a hold of the keys, and Dallas just grinned wickedly when they asked him. After that, his parents agreed to move. But they didn't go to Texas. Instead, they moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Dallas hated Tulsa. Compared to New York, it was just too southern. Dallas didn't like southern. On his first day in the new town, he was hauled in for punching a kid. He wasn't entirely sure why he did it. He was pissed off, and the kid was walking a bit too slow for Dally's liking. (Technically, though, it wasn't really fair for Dallas to think of him as a kid, because he looked a few years older than Dally himself.) As the two sat in the station, they glared at each other over the table. Finally, the kid grinned at Dallas.
"That was a nice punch, man," he said, "I'm Two-Bit Matthews. You new here?"
Dallas nodded back at Two-Bit.
"Jus' moved from New York. Name's Dallas."
And ever since then, Dallas had been a part of the gang.
There was Two-Bit, who got arrested almost as much as Dally; Steve, who was, Dallas thought, a bit rude; the Curtis brothers, who had some of the nicest folks Dally had ever met. And then there was Johnny.
Dallas wasn't sure what to make of Johnny. The kid's father beat him, that much was certain. But he was different. Not like Dallas. Johnny cared when his parents yelled at him, it hurt him more than the beatings did. Johnny hero-worshipped Dallas Winston. There was one time when Johnny and Dallas were walking around town late at night, and a group of socs started a fight. When it was over, Johnny looked up at Dallas admiringly.
"You look like shit, Dal," he said, "but you're one of the best fighters I know. You're invincible."
Dallas had grinned and agreed, and since then, Johnny had been his special pet.
But then Johnny had killed someone.
Nobody could have ever suspected sweet, innocent Johnny would murder someone. Least of all Dallas. Johnny didn't even like fighting with the rest of the gang. He claimed that hurting people just wasn't his thing. Saving people was.
So when he saw Johnny go back into that church to save those kids, Dallas wasn't surprised.
When Johnny was hospitalized for burns because he couldn't leave even one kid behind, Dallas wasn't surprised.
When Johnny glowed at being called a hero, Dallas wasn't surprised.
When Johnny died in that hospital bed, Dallas was very surprised.
Heroes didn't die. Good, smart kids like Johnny and Ponyboy weren't supposed to be on the run from cops. They weren't supposed to be jumped and beaten. And they definitely weren't supposed to die.
Dallas had snapped.
After sixteen years of living on the streets, sixteen years of being tough, sixteen years of not caring or feeling or being, Dallas snapped.
He stormed out of that hospital and drove away. He wondered, fleetingly, how Ponyboy would get home. But he couldn't go back for him. Pony reminded him too much of Johnny. They were both quiet, the babies of the gang. And Johnny, the baby, the gang's pet, was gone.
Dallas wasn't sure how he ended up in that store. But he did. And he wasn't sure how he ended up with wads of money in his jacket pocket. He wasn't sure how long afterwards it was when the flashing lights began tailing him. He barely remembered calling Darry, barely remembered running to the lot.
It wasn't till he raised his gun at the cops, heard his friend's frenzied yelling and screaming, saw the cops raise their guns, that he thought about anything.
Johnny had been wrong, he thought, as the bullets whizzed towards him.
He wasn't invincible.