A/N #1: Reviewer Cookie Time!
I'mmaBeatYouWithaCrowbar: Haha, yes, the nurses; I think Dally was in a slightly bad mood last chapter. How many "fucks" were in that...? I think they should build a special wordcount toolbar just for cussing. XD Thanks for your other comments; I thought I had made Dally and Johnny too weird, y'know? Well, COOKIES FOR YOU anyway, my faithful reviewer!
Die an Outsider: Hey, thanks so much for sticking with it even when it wasn't good. I'll have to rewrite those chapters or something. COOKIES FOR YOU! And, also, are you REALLY sure you don't want to read this chapter? Pretty please? *does the super Johnny-eyed face* Super Johnny Please?
A/N #2: Cookies to all reviewers!
A/N #3: I thought the song below was Dally-esque, so I had to include it here.
It's the last chappie, y'all! ...I am so sad. But that also means I get more sleep. Hmm. Sleeping
or fanfic writing? I am such a teenager...I can't decide. Well, no, not really,
FANFIC WRITING PLEASE! XD
"A jail cell is freedom from the pain in my home.
Hatred passed on, passed on, and passed on.
A world of violent rage,
But it's one that I can recognize,
Having never seen the color of my father's eyes.
Yes, I dwell in hell, but it's a hell that I can grip.
I tried to grip my family,
But I slipped.
To escape from the pain, in an existence mundane,
I got a nine, a sign, a set, and now
I got a name!
Read my writing on the wall!
No one's here to catch me when I fall!
Death is on my side...
Read my writing on the wall!
No one's here to catch me when I fall!
If ignorance is bliss,
then knock the smile off my face!"
"Settle for Nothing" © Rage Against the Machine, 1992
Before I get Pony, I—
—I storm back in that room madder than hell.
You're still asleep.
Your eyes open a little and you see me standing there.
"Wake the hell up!"
"Uhh," you say, almost with a smile on your face. My eyes are going to pop right out of their sockets. How dare you, you little piece of shit? How dare you?
"I overheard a nurse down the hall..." Okay, Winston. Have to stay alive. Gotta fucking breathe. "You didn't tell me you were—"
"Dying?" you say. "I am."
"Fuck you!" I say.
You fold your wrists under the blanket, speaking the next few words as if you're telling me you and Pony went out to catch a movie last night:"Dally...I am. I can't help it if it is what it is."
We look at each other for a minute.
"Oh, I'm sorry," I say. "I didn't realize you wanted to die."
"That's not what I sa—"
"No, no. I think you have to hear this. Richest fuckin' thing I ever heard, " I say, flicking out my lighter. "You wanted to die all this time. But it wasn't enough. You wanted to take everything from me first. So it was all a great big bluff. Your little own twisted game, huh, just giving old Dally his licks for life? I told you you get tough like me and nuthin' can touch you. Yeah, well, I guess I wasn't tough where it counted." I get up in your face and whisper the rest. "Real fucked-up, kid. That's the most fucked-up thing anyone's ever done to me. So congratulations, you win the award for the greatest fucked-up scheme on the face of the earth. Now go to hell."
"How can you say all that, Dally? You're my friend. I'd—"
"Don't you dare sit there acting all wounded—you lied to me!" I scream. "Just tell me the goddamn truth! Jesus Christ, just tell me the fucking truth for once!"
"Dally, I am telling y—"
"It's true, isn't it?"
"Will you just listen to me for a minute? Not everything is about you, you know!"
"Of course not—I gave you everything, you little fuck!"
A nurse comes running in and I flick out Two-Bit's blade. It snaps out in an instant and in that instant she's gone. No bitch is gonna get in my way. Not tonight. She lets out a scream higher than holy heaven and runs back out.
I close the door.
"Oh my God," you say. "Oh my God."
"What?" I say. "You scared of me?"
You lower your head.
"I'm scared for you," you say.
That's the one thing I wish you didn't say. You could have said nothing. You could have gotten angry.
But you said I'm scared for you.
What do I do? I wish I could say something right now, make up some clever Two-Bit limerick to wash it down the drain, get it off my back...but the truth is, I'm scared for me too, and I don't know why.
Now we break even.
Any place but here. Any time but now.
"I saved those kids because I thought that was what you'd do," you say. "I don't know, I—I thought if I saved them from the fire, I could be like you; I could maybe put killing that kid behind me. But I'm not you, Dally. I can't put it behind me. Ever. The truth is I killed that boy and he's not coming back...just like I won't. What comes around, right?"
I feel like my stomach can sink lower than hell.
"No," I say, "not what comes around, you little fucker."
You hold in your breath.
"I broke my promise, okay?...I'm a little fucker. I'm an idiot. Fine," you say. "Just don't...just don't call me names anymore."
It's gone completely dark outside. The white lights flicker in the room and you can't even hold your eyes up anymore.
"When I was little," you start, looking down somewhere on the blanket covering your wrists, "all the other kids would call me all sorts of names. Even Pony did, for a while...but one day he saw me fall from a tree and break my finger—" That almost-smile passes your face again as you twist a part of your little finger to show me you aren't double-jointed after all. "—and I think he sorta saw I wasn't just that dumb kid...I was...I was a kid. I fell out the tree because I was looking at a bird that made its nest up there.
"That's what you did. You were drunk, but you helped me that day the lightning struck that barn. Dad was gonna kill me. You know...you know, maybe all those years I did deserve all those whippings from my old man. Maybe I am dumb. I couldn't even read that book on the stand. Pony did. But Dally, I...I don't care. I know people's hearts real good and that's all that matters.
"There's still lots good in the world, Dally, you just don't know it yet."
"I better go get Pony," I say.
"Dally," you say.
I turn around.
I can think of no one as I cross the room. People die all the time.
The wind is blowing. A branch taps the window and it's free. No one can tell it what to do.
And all of a sudden, everything falls apart. We're not alone in this room, kid—there are two rows of people flashing beside us, a sea of people I've remembered and forgotten just as easily: Pony, Soda, Darry, Two-Bit, Steve; even that ring-wearing Soc you killed, my Dad, Fred, and your Dad, drunk and shot and smirking. And on the other side are Cherry, Marcia, Sylvia, Sarah, Savannah, and my Mom...
Everything and everyone is so fucking broken and I don't even see it until—
"It's okay," you say.
You don't touch me; you think I'm more fragile than you are. You're right—I'm trying to make sure you breathe. It was the way Mom finally died. I had set my head down on her stomach and she couldn't breathe.
I can't—not now.
"It's okay," you repeat.
No, it's not, I think. It's never been okay, has it?
Now it's my turn to fall apart. I can't do anything but put my head face down in the sheet, shaking and screaming; it's just not right. And you sit there on the bed, like you did in the mud, and watch me as I do it. It's fucking horrible. Even that nurse who I threatened to cut up with Two-Bit's blade and her pink-clad entourage back away when they see me.
"...sometimes it's okay to," you say when it ends.
And I nod.
That night with the freak lightning...later that night, I remember only little bits after that...it was raining. The last of the neighborhood lights had died out.
"What the hell are you doing?" I screamed.
His hand shook over the barrel grip, which hung heavy over his black forehead.
"When I said help me with him," Johnny said, his face as wet as his eyes, "I meant you kill me for him."
Ponyboy must be as tired as I am. His head is cut up, bleeding all over the seat. He is banged like a fucking drum and he says nothing to me, staring out at the road; Two-Bit mentioned something in passing that he popped five aspirins right down the drain today. Shit, kid—he's joining our club already.
Luckily, it's not too much of a stretch for him to act sick when a goddamn cop pulls us over. If it were any other place, any other time, I would grin. In fact, I'd laugh my ass off. I'd blissfully flip people off in the street as I followed the blazing blue cop lights all the way to the hospital, slapped Pony on the back and told 'im to sober up...'cause the fuckin' fuzzies wouldn't have got nothin' on Dallas Winston.
But today isn't that day...and Dallas isn't that Dally.
The thunder rolled as I stared at him.
"No," I said.
"No. I'm not doing it. Put the heater down."
"I got no choice, Dally," he said. "We both have to."
He aimed the gun at me.
I can hardly hear him over the white thunder above our heads.
"Don't you see? We got no place to go," he said. "You and me. People like you and me, we got...we got..."
That was it.
"Fuck it all."
I knocked the .45 right out of his grip.
Walking into that room full of silence, it's the first time I realize you were burned...in a fire. It's the first time I realize...that book sitting on the stand has a piece of paper tucked in it. The whole room swells with all of these empty things, so I stand by the door. I can't reach you anymore...you're a million miles away.
Ponyboy leans in closer to you. He's almost out of his coma, and he almost seems worried looking at you. But he's weird; sometimes he never seems worried about nothing, or else he worries too much.
I hear you whisper something: "Stay gold."
Then the machines hiss once, and you're gone.
You're somewhere in the night now.
You didn't say anything to me. It was all for Ponyboy.
My insides are on fire.
Don't you leave me here! I scream inside my head, although it comes out as a slow wail. I pound my knuckles straight into the wall. My heart is pounding so fast I can't feel the pain. Something isn't right. I am fucking broken...but I'm still here.
I walk out of the room, not looking at all at Pony.
I don't know what I'm going to do, kid.
But I know exactly what to do.
There was something I wanted to tell you. I lied about Mom. About how she really died, I mean...I thought you wouldn't want to know.
It was Dad's fault for making Mom do it, but for years—especially during the hitchhike from New York, when I had time to think—I fumed because the twins were afraid of a fucking spider.
Sarah and Savannah sent me to the basement with a baseball bat to go kill a spider that was down there. Even at five years old, I didn't know what it was with girls and spiders."Man's work," they said, to which I held my head up, looked them straight in the eye and gallantly said, "The shit it ain't," and didn't so much go as was thrown down the stairs. They didn't even bother to turn on the light, the little chickenshits; they just shut the door and down I went. I almost broke my neck tumbling down—lucky for me, though, the trip was on the last step.
I don't remember the bang being loud. It made no noise—a silencer never does—but I could feel it shake the air around me. A thump hitting the stone floor echoed in the basement. Then it was quiet again in the dark, except for a sigh.
Her voice sounded as if she was underwater.
"Dallas," she said. "Is that you?"
"Um," I said. "Sarah and Savannah—they sent me down here to kill a spider. Did you kill it already?"
"Oh, Dallas," was all she could say for a minute. "Oh, Dallas."
I didn't know what I was saying:"What's wrong, Mom? Are you afraid of the dark?"
"No—leave the light off."
"Where are you?"
"I'm..." She sighed. "I'm over here."
"Are you okay?"
"I don't know," she said.
Her eyes were bright red, gleaming in the dark. She couldn't see me. She had shot the part of her brain that took her sight right with it. I walked across the room to an empty corner, where she laid along the side of some boxes filled with ashes.
Photo albums—she had burned every last one of them.
"I'm scared, Dallas," she said.
I'd never heard that before in my life.
"Hold my hand."
I put the bat down and patted the floor until I found her hand.
"Don't cry," I said.
"I'm not crying," she said.
I didn't realize those weren't tears.
"Mom," I said. "What's wrong?"
Mom smiled at me in the dark. It was so silent there in the basement I heard the muscles in her face twitch.
"I hurt myself, Dallas," she whispered. "I didn't want to know Dad didn't love me. So I hurt myself for it."
"That doesn't matter. What matters is that you and your sisters are the only things I love. You're my heart. I love you all so much it hurts me. But now I...I hurt you," she said. "Sometimes people hurt the people they...they love the most."
I said nothing, setting my head down on her stomach, which was rising and falling.
"Do you understand what I'm telling you?"
"I don't know," I said.
"Dallas," she said. "You have to hurt me now."
"Please know I never wanted to make you do this."
She trembled and her hand was in mine—
"I love you, Dally."
She pressed down on the finger that was nearest the trigger.
"Give me the money."
He just stares at the barrel, not hearing a damn thing.
"Give me the money."
I slam the barrel into his nose and spray myself with his blood: "Hurry the hell up!"
The people at the grocery store hide behind whatever they can. From there, they stare at me like animals, like goddamned cows at the fucking slaughterhouse. They herd together with their eyes blank, afraid and stupid. I don't even think they realize they're gonna die.
People. That's why I hate them. They're absolutely stupid. Like a deck of cards—when one falls, so will the others. The whole house comes crashing down.
They say they love you. What do they know? What do they know? I'll tell you what they know—nothing. This is what a .45 says straight through those dull, stupid eyes: You think you know but you don't. You know nothing. You are disgusting, every last one of you. You are all fucking rotting from the inside out. Now die.
I hear something in my head. A little voice, almost too little...
"I love you, Dally..."
"..sometimes it's okay to."
I love you—that's what a kid will say to get his girlfriend to fuck him. That's what a husband will say before he busts open the closet door with a Louisville Slugger. That's what all we miserable motherfuckers will say to each other just to make ourselves not feel like the shit we really are.
It's dumb, kid, but it's what I say over and over, inside of me: I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you... it's pounding inside of me just like my heartbeat.
No more lies. No more-
People say I let you follow me around because you were some dark puppy that reminded me of some perfectly innocent version of myself, that is, right before I became broken and wayward or some shit like that. Let me tell you right now, kid, you don't remind me of myself. Not one bit. I'm a fucking lunatic. No. You remind me more of Mom. Now she was a bitch. She was an idiot. She was too proud to admit Dad didn't love her. But it's like you said—she knew people's hearts and that's what mattered. I thought I could understand it...but after all this time I still don't. I'm not you. I just don't work that way.
"I love you, Dally...sometimes it's okay to."
I've gotta get out of here. Someone's already called the cops. I can hear sirens rising somewhere in the distance, coming uptown. I haven't got much time—
I don't know why his face is popping up in my head right now. They say the weirdest things come to you when you're in danger. Darry...that crazy fucker almost killed me. But he's always home after dark, waiting for Soda or Pony to come home. I guess he reminds me of what home is or something. But I also know he's just gonna be there to pick up the telephone.
"Hello?" says Darry.
"...the cops are after me," I say. "I held up a store. They're coming for me."
A pause, then: "Oh, God."
"You gotta get out here."
I never held it enough to ya, Johnnycake, but when you were there, you were there. You stayed with me. Somehow. I really can't explain it...you and me, kid, you and me...we were always on our own, weren't we? The nature of the game.
The cops are here. It's too late. It was always too late.
They're telling me to turn myself in. I don't feel any fear now. I can't feel anything, really, just that I feel like a crazy person as I smile at them and pull out my empty gun. Damn it, my hand is shaking. I can't even pull the fucking trigger. All I can see is Mom's hand over mine, and her red empty eyes.
I know this is how my life is supposed to end. It's as if I knew the script beforehand. It could have come at any time, in any place, just like this: surrounded by an army of pigs, their badges flashing gold underneath some dusty old streetlight as their bullets rip through me and I crumple in the street. I already knew it all. I'm not God, but I already knew it, cut, shot, and directed, every last scene, down to the last detail.
For most people, it's how...but for me, it was always when.
But you...damn, I never expected you, kid. That's what makes it painf...no. I could have died without feeling a fucking thing in the world. But you...damn you.
I think about it again, and then it's not so bad.
I love you—it goes both ways. Cycle of life or some shit—it's all true. Dad didn't love Mom, so Mom didn't love herself. She loved only me and I loved only you.
"...sometimes it's okay to."
The last thing I hear is some screaming—they're finally here.
Don't come closer. You're too late. You are too fucking late.
I hear them screaming—No! He's just a kid!—and then there are more only more bullets to kill off their noise.
I smile. They must think I'm crazy. They probably think you're crazy, too...but, someday, when everybody pulls their fat out of the fire, they might just start to understand those people like you and me.
A/N: 'Tis not the greatest story in the world, I know...but I would like to know what you thought of it.