One Last Fight

The nurse was real easy to scare. One look at the switch, and I had my ticket outa the hospital and to the rumble. On the way out, I stopped by Johnny's room. "Hey, Johnnycake, I'm gonna go to the rumble tonight. I'll be back soon."

He groaned. "Dally, bring Ponyboy. Bring him ... Pony," he whispered.

"Alright, ya little punk, soon." I thought I heard him say something more. But that didn't matter now. We'd whup the Socs good tonight! We'd do it for Johnny.

As I drove to the vacant lot, I worried 'bout Johnny. The dark-haired punk reminded me of me when I was a kid, and damn if he hadn't wormed his way into my heart. I swear, we may be opposites in looks, but we're the same inside. I didn't know what I'd do if he died. It'd of killed me.

I shook off thoughts of Johnny when I saw the lot. Darry and some Soc were circlin' under a streetlamp. I got outa the car and broke into a run.

"Hold up! Hold it!" I yelled. The dirty Soc took advantage when Darry turned his head, and the rumble started. I jumped the last few steps and tackled a Soc.

"I thought you were in the hospital," gasped Pony as he fought a Soc.

"I was. I ain't now." My damn arm was givin' me trouble. It wouldn't swing right.

"How?" Pony and his questions. Blast, sometimes it seemed that all he did was ask questions.

"Talked the nurse into it with Two-Bit's switch." I got a good swing in, followed by a kick in the gut. "Don't you know a rumble ain't a rumble unless I'm in it?" It's true. A rumble just ain't a rumble till I'm in it. I ain't bein' cocky or anythin'.

Pony couldn't answer, seeing as he was havin' the tar beat outa him. He'd lost a lota muscle in Jay Mountain. Darry came to the rescue as I dealt what shoulda been a knockout blow but was really just a weak punch with my left hand.

Me and the Soc started sluggin' it out, but I was losin' and I knew it. Pony helped out by grabbin' the Soc from behind, and I kept pummelin' him till the Socs started runnin'. Bastard cowards.

We'd won. We'd won the rumble I'd been lookin' forward to since coming to Oklahoma, so why wasn't I happy? I thought I knew. It was 'cause Johnny wasn't here to celebrate with us. Well, we'd just bring the celebration to Johnny, then.

I tugged Pony up and said, "Come on! We're goin' to see Johnny!" Pony wasn't in very good shape. He kept stumbling. "Hurry! He was gettin' worse when I left. He wants to see you." We got in the T-Bird and I sped off.

The fuzz caught us on Tenth. "Look sick," I told Ponyboy. "I'll say I'm taking you to the hospital, which'll be truth enough." He leaned on the window. I'm not too sure how much of it was actin'.

"All right, buddy, where's the fire?" the cop asked.

"The kid, he fell over on his motorcycle and I'm takin' him to the hospital."

"Is he real bad? Do you need an escort?" The fuzz was all goody-two-shoes now.

"How would I know if he's bad or not? I ain't no doc. Yeah, we could use an escort." My impatience was getting the better of me. I tamped it down. We'd get there. "Sucker!" I hissed.

As we drove to the hospital, I began ramblin' on and on about how I was crazy for tryin' to help Johnny. I dunno what it is 'bout Ponyboy Curtis, but somethin' 'bout him just makes you wanna spill your guts, even when he's conscious. I guess I was just really worried 'bout Johnny to talk the way I did.

I hustled Pony outa the car as soon as we reached the hospital. I had to see Johnny now. The doc stopped us just outside his room.

"I'm sorry, boys, but he's dying." I pulled out the switch. There wasn't no time for talk.

"We gotta see him. We're gonna see him and if you give me any static you'll end up on your own operatin' table." This doc wasn't actin' tough. He was.

"You can see him, but it's because you're his friends, not because of that knife." Odd. Most people cave 'cause of the switch. We walked in.

Johnny looked terrible. He was too pale. I couldn't breathe right. What if he was dead already? He couldn't be. "Johnnycake? Johnny?" He couldn't be dead.

"Hey." It barely came out. No! He couldn't die. He was Johnny, for Chrissake!

"We won. We beat the Socs. We stomped them, chased them outa our territory."

"Useless ... fighting's no good ..." Johnny was goin' crazy. I started ramblin' again.

"They're still writin' editorials about you in the paper. For being a hero and all. Yeah, they're calling you a hero now and heroizin' all the greasers. We're all proud of you, buddy."

"Ponyboy," he whispered. Pony went over to the bedside. I couldn't hear what Johnny said, but I saw him die. It couldn't be.

I pushed Johnny's hair back. "Never could keep that hair back ... that's what you get for tryin' to help people, you little punk, that's what you get ..." I spun and slammed into the wall. "Damnit, Johnny ... Oh, damnit Johnny, don't die, please don't die ..." I punched the wall. Thud. Thud. Thud.

I couldn't take it anymore. I ran outa that hospital to my home. The streets.

At first, I ran. I let my feet do the talking. Ba-bum. Ba-bum. Ba-bum. I had to get Johnny outa my head. I started to get tired, so I walked. I tried to keep Johnny out, but he kept comin' back. I kept hearin' his voice: "Useless ... fighting's no good ..." His dying words wouldn't lemme alone. I kept walkin'. And I thought. About Johnnycake. About what he said.

Johnny was right. Fighting's useless. We won that rumble with the Socs tonight, but they'll still be the spoiled bastards of the city. That didn't mean we couldn't try to shake things up. Look at Johnny, bein' heroized and all. That wasn't a greaser's place.

Even in New York, the Jets and the Sharks, they were the same as us and the Socs. There was all that fightin' over Maria and Tony, and neither ended up happy. I guess I'd always sorta known that fightin' ain't gonna do nothin', but fightin's how I blow off steam. It's how I got out the anger at my old man. Talkin' back to him meant you couldn't sit down for weeks. Well, I'll take advantage of the fightin' once more 'fore swearin' off it forever. I'll do it for Johnny.

I guess these are my last words. Written in a 5 cent notebook. I'm gonna rob a store, and when the fuzz go after me, I'll pull out that unloaded heater. They'll give me a quick death. I know it.

And then I won't have to deal with this all. With Johnny bein' dead, 'cause the way I figure it, we'll be in the same place. I won't be tempted into fightin' again. I'll be dead when they next fight. If anybody reads this, tell the world fightin's no good. For me, Dallas Winston. From a hood. I'll see y'all later.

A/N: I didn't really like this ending. I just changed it for school, and I can't find the alternate ending. But I'll probably fix it later on.