It was late on a Friday night. A skinny teenager, who had been walking for some time, paused in front of the little white house on the corner. He stared, watching the shadows from within. From the street there was a pulsing gray glow of a television behind the thin curtains, laughter, and occasionally snatches of piano music the drifted out on the breeze. Shaking his head, the boy strode from the street up the front steps.

"Dallas!" was the general chorus that arouse as he entered the humble home. The twelve-year-old Ponyboy quickly scrambled out from under his father's arm, a pink tinge coloring the skin around a bruise on his cheek. A dip of his pointed chin and a smirk curled over his features. Those Curtis boys, their father included, were sometimes too peppy for their own good, in his opinion.

"Whatcha been up to, Dally?" Sodapop asked, spinning around on the piano bench.

Dallas shrugged. "Nothin' much, man."

Sodapop grinned. "I been entertainin' the family with the soothing works of Jerry Lee Lewis."

Mr. Curtis, glanced over the back of the couch, wearing an identical grin. "Only if entertaining falls under the category of cruel and unusual punishment."

Soda responded by sweeping a hand quickly across the keys. That was when Mrs. Curtis came up from the cellar, a basket of folded laundry on her hip.

"I thought I heard your name."

"He-ey, Mrs. Curtis." Dallas swaggered forward, fists in his pockets. "I was just stoppin' through."

Mrs. Curtis pulled off the red bandana that had been holding her hair back. She folded it in her hands, giving Dallas a little smile that had previously been reserved for her boys.

"Don't tell me you're going to spend another night at Bucks." She grimaced, leaning on the spotless kitchen counter.

Dally shuffled a bit. He never shuffled.

"Well, yeah, if nothin' else-"

"Dallas," Mrs. Curtis said, very matter-of-factly. "I certainly thought you were better than to allow your ears to be assailed by the likes of Hank Williams."

The Curtis boys went silent, waiting tensely for Dally's response.

He laughed.

"Aw, man, Mrs. Curtis, I would never. Though, if you don't mind me saying-" he grinned roguishly "- I dunno if Soda's piano playin's much better."

Mrs. Curtis leaned forward and slapped Dallas with the bandana. "Soda is a wonderful piano player!" she shouted. Then she leaned forward and said in a loud stage-whisper, nodding resignedly, "Now that I'm thinking on it, perhaps you'd better take the Hank Williams."

Dallas stayed the night.