"Okay so is this going to take a long while because I don't have all this time in fact... I have almost no time so read fast because," Two-Bit was shut up by a hand connecting with the back of his head. "Shut the HELL up and let Soda at least read a sentence before you start your complaining."

Two-Bit put a hurt expression on his face. "Dallas... that really hurt, it hurt here." Two-Bit drew and X on his heart. "Yeah sure it did." Dallas hit him again and turned to Soda. "Try and continue... If Keith here can shut up long enough." Soda nodded and started again. "Chapter one."

When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.

"A ride home?" Darry asked turning he attentionaway from Two-Bit and to Soda.

I was wishing I looked like Paul Newman -he looks tough and I don't

"He admitted it." A hand met the back of Two-Bit's head again.

-but I guess my own looks aren't so bad.

"Yes they are ba-" "TWO-BIT!" An annoyed Ponyboy yelled from his room. "I CAN HEAR YOU." Two-Bit chuckled at that but he stopped talking.

I have light brown, almost red hair and greenish-gray eyes. I wish they were more gray, because I hate most guys that have green eyes, but I have to be con tent with what I have.

"Oh no the kid has green eyes, he's gonna die." An annoyed Tim said. "What's your problem?" Steve asked not noticing Tim's green eyes. "Oh yeah... Ponyboy was right. Green eyed people should be hated." Johnny said seeing Tim's green eyes. "Oh I'm going to kill you." "You're not gonna lay a hand on him." Dallas piped up, wrapping an arm around Johnny's shoulders.

My hair is longer than a lot of boys wear theirs, squared off in back and long at the front and sides, but I am a greaser and most of my neighborhood rarely bothers to get a haircut.

"Eh, haircuts are overrated." Soda said interrupting himself.

Besides, I look better with long hair.

"He does... Short hair... not good." Johnny said smiling remembering Windrixville before everything got out of hand.

I had a long walk home and no company, but I usually lone it anyway, for no reason except that I like to watch movies undisturbed so I can get into them and live them with the actors.

"You should get your kid brothers head check out Darrel... that sounds pretty weird." Tim said looking around the room at everyone. "We should Soda..." "HELL NO!" A voice from the back of the house yelled earning snickers from the seven greasers around the room.

When I see a movie with someone it's kind of uncomfortable, like having someone read your book over your shoulder.

"What is this reading?" Two-Bit asked, Soda and Steve nodded in agreement. "Reading... We'll have to investigate." Soda said smiling. "If you read every now and then you may not be working at the DX Full time." Someone snapped. Everyone turned around and looked at the youngest greaser who was now wearing sweats. "I'm not going to be here while you read that, I'm going running." Pony completed ignored the glares he was getting from his older brothers. "Pony there's a foot of snow outside, how the hell are you going running?" Ponyboy just shrugged at Soda's question and walked to the door. "I'll find a way, it's better than hearing you all read this." Pony said as he forced his way out of the house and into the snow.

"Um...No offense but your kid brother is a dumbass." Dallas said turning back towards the group. "He just doesn't use his brains." Darry said defending Ponyboy.

I'm different that way. I mean, my second oldest brother, Soda,


who is sixteen-going-on-seventeen, never cracks a book at all,

"Eh... reading." Soda shrugged smiling.

and my oldest brother, Darrel, who we call Darry,

"DARRY HE SAID YOUR NAME!" Dallas glared at Two-Bit who sighed and smacked the back of his own head.

works too long and hard to be interested in a story or drawing a picture,

Darry's face fell at this, did he really used to work so long? Does he still work that long?

so I'm not like them. And nobody in our gang digs movies and books the way I do.

"Cough Johnny Cough." This surprisingly came from Dallas who was smiling at Johnny. IT was true though, ever since Windrixville Johnny has become more like Ponyboy with zoning out and reading and watching movies more.

For a while there, I thought I was the only person in the world that did. So I loned it.

"Idiot..." Dally muttered under his breath. "That's what get's you jumped. He shouldn't be doing that."

Soda tries to understand, at least, which is more than Darry does.

"In my defense it's difficult to understand Ponyboy." Darry stated, everyone in the room nodded their heads in agreement. None of them were able to fully understand their youngest member.

But then, Soda is different from anybody; he understands everything, almost. Like he's never hollering at me all the time the way Darry is,

"I don't yell at him." "Darry... I may not hang around your family but yes you do." Tim said looking at Darry.

or treating me as if I was six instead of fourteen.

"Wait? He's not four?" Two-Bit asked smiling. A pillow found his way to his head from across the room. "Shut the hell up." Soda growled under his breath.

I love Soda more than I've ever loved anyone, even Mom and Dad.

Soda stopped reading and stared at what he just read. Did he really love him more than mom and dad? There's no way that's true.

He's always happy-go- lucky and grinning, while Darry's hard and firm and rarely grins at all.

"I grin sometimes, don't I?" Darry looked over at Soda who bit his lip and continued to read.

But then, Darry's gone through a lot in his twenty years, grown up too fast. Sodapop'll never grow up at all. I don't know which way's the best. I'll find out one of these days.

"Soda. Grow. Up." "Yes Dary, I'll get right on that."

Anyway, I went on walking home, thinking about the movie, and then suddenly wishing I had some company. Greasers can't walk alone too much or they'll get jumped, or someone will come by and scream "Greaser!" at them, which doesn't make you feel too hot, if you know what I mean.

"Poor Ponyboy, he doesn't deserve to be called that. He's going places in life." Johnny said quietly, eyes on Soda.

We get jumped by the Socs. I'm not sure how you spell it,

"Of course he would be worrying about spelling."

but it's the abbreviation for the Socials, the jet set, the West side rich kids. It's like the term "greaser," which is used to class all us boys on the East Side.

"The term greaser is overrated. We're just like everybody else, just can't afford all the fancy things." No one bothered to hit Two-Bit this time.

We're poorer than the Socs and the middle class. I reckon we're wilder, too. Not like the Socs,

"Damn right."

who jump greasers and wreck houses and throw beer blasts for kicks, and get editorials in the paper for being a public disgrace one day and an asset to society the next.

"Luck Bastards. I want to be an asset to society." "Dally, we'd all die." Dallas looked at Johnny who was smiling looking down.

Greasers are almost like hoods; we steal things and drive old souped-up cars and hold up gas stations and have a gang fight once in a while.

"Fun stuff." Tim said, the Dally, Steve, and Two-Bit nodded in agreement, Johnny, Soda, and Darry shook their heads.

I don't mean I do things like that. Darry would kill me if I got into trouble with the police.

"Damn right I would."

Since Mom and Dad were killed in an auto wreck, the three of us get to stay together only as long as we behave. So Soda and I stay out of trouble as much as we can, and we're careful not to get caught when we can't.

"Good plan Sodapop." Steve said looking at his friend. "Actually, it was Darry's plan."

I only mean that most greasers do things like that, just like we wear our hair long and dress in blue jeans and T-shirts, or leave our shirttails out and wear leather jackets and tennis shoes or boots.


I'm not saying that either Socs or greasers are better; that's just the way things are.

Johnny looked down, he understood that's how things were and he still hated it. You'd think after the whole Windrixville accident things would have changed, but nothing has.

I could have waited to go to the movies until Darry or Sodapop got off work. They would have gone with me, or driven me there, or walked along, although Soda just can't sit still long enough to enjoy a movie

"True true." Soda said nodding his head.

and they bore Darry to death. Darry thinks his life is enough without inspecting other people's.

"True true." Soda said again, smiling at his oldest brother.

Or I could have gotten one of the gang to come along, one of the four boys Darry and Soda and I have grown up with and consider family.

"You consider us family? I feel loved." "Actually Two-Bit I think he meant, me Johnny, Tim and Dallas." Steve said to Two-Bit.

We're almost as close as brothers; when you grow up in a tight knit neigh borhood like ours you get to know each other real well.

"A little two well..." Tim said looking over at Two-Bit.

If I had thought about it, I could have called Darry and he would have come by on his way home and picked me up, or Two-Bit Mathews-

"I WIN STEVE!" Two-Bit yelled as soon as Soda spoke his name. "Win what?" "PONYBOY LIKES ME MORE!" Two-Bit was grinning happily when Dally hit him across the back of his head.

one of our gang-would have come to get me in his car if I had asked him, but sometimes I just don't use my head.

It drives my brother Darry nuts when I do stuff like that, 'cause I'm supposed to be smart; I make good grades and have a high IQ and everything, but I don't use my head. Besides, I like walking.

"He admitted he doesn't use his head... That's a start Darry." "Just shut up and keep reading Soda."

I about decided I didn't like it so much, though, when I spotted that red Corvair trailing me.

Everyone went silent, they all knew the story, most were there but this was still something none of them liked hearing about.

I was almost two blocks from home then, so I started walking a little faster. I had never been jumped, but I had seen Johnny after four Socs got hold of him,

Johnny looked down as everyone looked at him, Dally growled under his breath and pulled Johnny closer to his side.

and it wasn't pretty. Johnny was scared of his own shadow after that. Johnny was sixteen then.

"Eighteen now kid." Dallas said smiling at Johnny who just nodded.

I knew it wasn't any use though-the fast walking, I mean-even before the Corvair pulled up beside me and five Socs got out. I got pretty scared-I'm kind of small for fourteen even though I have a good build, and those guys were bigger than me.

"Socs... I'll kill 'em all if I could."

I automatically hitched my thumbs in my jeans and slouched, wondering if I could get away if I made a break for it. I remembered Johnny-his face all cut up and bruised, and I remembered how he had cried when we found him, half-conscious, in the corner lot Johnny had it awful rough at home-it took a lot to make him cry.

"Didn't even cry when he was sitting on death's bed." Dally said smiling at the younger boy, he had been worried after the whole incident, more than everyone else.

I was sweating something fierce, although I was cold. I could feel my palms getting clammy and the perspiration running down my back. I get like that when I'm real scared.

"He does..." Soda muttered to himself.

I glanced around for a pop bottle or a stick or some thing-Steve Randle, Soda's best buddy, had once held off four guys with a busted pop bottle-but there was nothing.

Tim raised a brow looking over to Steve who just shrugged. I told him the story, I didn't think he'd believe it.

So I stood there like a bump on a log while they surrounded me. I don't use my head. They walked around slowly, silently, smiling.

"Hey, grease," one said in an over-friendly voice. "We're gonna do you a favor, greaser. We're gonna cut all that long greasy hair off."

"Cut off his hair, I bet Ponyboy didn't like that."

He had on a madras shirt. I can still see it. Blue madras. One of them laughed, then cussed me out in a low voice. I couldn't think of anything to say. There just isn't a whole lot you can say while waiting to get mugged, so I kept my mouth shut.

"I outta teach Ponyboy a few things to say when he's about to get jumped. Might distract them socs long enough so he can-" "No." Soda and Darry said at the same time interrupting Dallas.

"Need a haircut, greaser?" The medium-sized blond pulled a knife out of his back pocket and flipped the blade open.

"Damn socs, always the ones who bring a blade to a fist fight."

I finally thought of something to say. "No."

"Oh... That's real smooth." "I agree with Dallas... Real smooth."

I was backing up, away from that knife. Of course I backed right into one of them. They had me down in a second. They had my arms and legs pinned down and one of them was sit ting on my chest with his knees on my elbows, and if you don't think that hurts, you're crazy.

"I say after this we go out and find a blue madras wearing, red covair driving, soc."

I could smell English Leather shaving lotion and stale tobacco, and I wondered foolishly if I would suffocate before they did anything.

"That'd be a better death then one at the hands of the socs." Everyone agreed with Tim's statement one hundred percent. No one wanted to die because of the socs.

I was scared so bad I was wishing I would. I fought to get loose, and almost did for a second; then they tightened up on me and the one on my chest slugged me a couple of times. So I lay still, swearing at them between gasps.

"Good boy, swearing at them but not writing what you said." Soda said, really he was kinda glad Ponyboy didn't write any swear words but he would have liked to see what his younger brother said to those socs.

A blade was held against my throat. "How'd you like that haircut to begin just below the chin?"

It occurred to me then that they could kill me.

The entire room went silent looking at Soda who couldn't seem to speak anything. "K-kill him?" Soda looked up at Johnny who was white as a sheet.

I went wild. I started screaming for Soda, Darry, anyone. Some one put his hand over my mouth, and I bit it as hard as I could, tasting the blood running through my teeth. I heard a muttered curse and got slugged again, and they were stuffing a handkerchief in my mouth. One of them kept saying, "Shut him up, for Pete's sake, shut him up!"

Soda was still at a lossof words. He knew his baby brother was alright after this but hearing him getting jumped, he just wanted to go and find out who did this to him.

Then there were shouts and the pounding of feet, and the Socs jumped up and left me lying there, gasping. I lay there and wondered what in the world was happening people were jumping over me and running by me and I was too dazed to figure it out.

"Don't worry Pony, we have come to save you." Two-Bit said with a smile.

Then someone had me under the armpits and was hauling me to my feet. It was Darry.

"Are you all right, Ponyboy?"

He was shaking me and I wished he'd stop. I was dizzy enough anyway. I could tell it was Darry though-partly because of the voice and partly because Darry's always rough with me without meaning to be.

"Darry, you've gotten better at that." Steve said earning a glare from Darry but no words.

"I'm okay. Quit shaking me, Darry, I'm okay." He stopped instantly. "I'm sorry." He wasn't really. Darry isn't ever sorry for anything he does. It seems funny to me that he should look just exactly like my father and act exactly the opposite from him.

"I don't look that much like dad." "Yes you do Darry." Soda looked at his older brother as he said this, it was true the too looked exactly alike.

My father was only forty when he died and he looked twenty-five and a lot of people thought Darry and Dad were brothers instead of father and son.

"Hell We all thought that." Tim said looking at Darry.

But they only looked alike my father was never rough with anyone without meaning to be.

"He sure as hell was." Soda said, everyone looked at him. "What, he dropped me when I was younger." "That explains a lot of things."

Darry is six-feet-two, and broad-shouldered and muscu lar. He has dark-brown hair that kicks out in front and a slight cowlick in the back-just like Dad's-but Darry's eyes are his own. He's got eyes that are like two pieces of pale blue-green ice.

"He takes his eyes out and freezes them?" Darry's glare shut Two-Bit up immediately.

They've got a determined set to them, like the rest of him. He looks older than twenty-tough, cool, and smart. He would be real handsome if his eyes weren't so cold. He doesn't understand anything that is not plain hard fact. But he uses his head.

"That he does..." Steve said looking at him.

I sat down again, rubbing my cheek where I'd been slugged the most.

Darry jammed his fists in his pockets. "They didn't hurt you too bad, did they?"


They did. I was smarting and aching and my chest was sore and I was so nervous my hands were shaking and I wanted to start bawling, but you just don't say that to Darry.

"Can I kill him?" "No Darry." Soda looked up from the book at his oldest brother.

"I'm okay."

"I'll kill him Soda. He shouldn't lie about things like that." Darry said looking over at his second youngest brother.

Sodapop came loping back. By then I had figured that all the noise I had heard was the gang coming to rescue me. He dropped down beside me, examining my head.

"You got cut up a little, huh, Ponyboy?"

I only looked at him blankly. "I did?"

"A little slow ain't he?"

He pulled out a handkerchief, wet the end of it with his tongue, and pressed it gently against the side of my head. "You're bleedin' like a stuck pig."

"I am?"

"Yeah, slow..." Tim said agreeing with Two-Bit's statement.

"Look!" He showed me the handkerchief, reddened as if by magic. "Did they pull a blade on you?"

"Pointing out the obvious there Soda." Soda shruged at Steve's comment.

I remembered the voice: "Need a haircut, greaser?" The blade must have slipped while he was trying to shut me up. "Yeah."

"God dam socs and their lack of caring for anyone else."

Soda is handsomer than anyone else I know. Not like Darry-Soda's movie-star kind of handsome, the kind that people stop on the street to watch go by. He's not as tall as Darry, and he's a little slimmer, but he has a finely drawn, sensitive face that somehow manages to be reckless and thoughtful at the same time.

Two-Bit got up and walked over to Soda looking at him. "What are you doing?" Soda asked Two-Bit who still seemed to be staring at him. "Looking at your sensitive face." Sodapop glared at him, thinking about how Ponyboy made him sound.

He's got dark gold hair that he combs back-long and silky and straight-and in the summer the sun bleaches it to a shining wheat gold. His eyes are dark brown-lively, dancing, recklessly laughing eyes that can he gentle and sympathetic one moment and blazing with anger the next.

"Blazing with anger... Grrrr" Soda said with a laugh.

He has Dad's eyes, but Soda is one of a kind. He can get drunk in a drag race or dancing without ever getting near alcohol. In our neighborhood it's rare to find a kid who doesn't drink' once in a while.

"Everyone looked at Dally, Tim and Two-Bit who just shrugged.

But Soda never touches a drop-he doesn't need to. He gets drunk on just plain living. And he understands everybody.

"Drunk on plain living huh? Yeah sounds legit." Darry smiled at his younger brother.

He looked at me more closely. I looked away hurriedly, because, if you want to know the truth, I was starting to bawl. I knew I was as white as I felt and I was shaking like a leaf.

Soda hated reading about his brother like this, it hurt him inside to just read about his baby brother being hurt.

Soda just put his hand on my shoulder. "Easy, Ponyboy. They ain't gonna hurt you no more."

"Or so you thought..." Tim muttered under his breath earning looks from the other greasers who didn't ask what he said.

"I know," I said, but the ground began to blur and I felt hot tears running down my cheeks. I brushed them away impatiently.

"He was crying?" Dally asked looking at Soda and Darry, they just shrugged.

"I'm just a little spooked, that's all." I drew a quivering breath and quit crying. You just don't cry in front of Darry. Not unless you're hurt like Johnny had been that day we found him in the vacant lot. Compared to Johnny I wasn't hurt at all.

"Who told him that. Dally." Darry looked over at Dally who was looking down smiling. Johnny took a pillow and smacked him with it. "Thanks Johnny."

Soda rubbed my hair. "You're an okay kid, Pony."

I had to grin at him-Soda can make you grin no matter what.

"What if we all... died?"

I guess it's because he's always grinning so much himself. "You're crazy, Soda, out of your mind."

Darry looked as if he'd like to knock our heads together. "You're both nuts."

"I should have."

Soda merely cocked one eyebrow, a trick he'd picked up from Two-Bit. "It seems to run in this family."

"You stole it?!" Two-Bit practically yelled at Soda.

Darry stared at him for a second, then cracked a grin. Sodapop isn't afraid of him like everyone else and enjoys teasing him. I'd just as soon tease a full-grown grizzly; but for some reason, Darry seems to like being teased by Soda.

"A bear is scarier than Darry? I agree with that statement." Tim said, he like most didn't want to fight Darry. Most people wouldn't think about it.

Our gang had chased the Socs to their car and heaved rocks at them. They came running toward us now-four lean, hard guys.


They were all as tough as nails and looked it. I had grown up with them, and they accepted me, even though I was younger, because I was Darry and Soda's kid brother and I kept my mouth shut good.

"That's not the only reason, at least anymore." "Steve!" Tim glanced over at Steve who was chuckling while avoiding the glares from everyone else in their gang.

Steve Randle was seventeen, tall and lean, with thick greasy hair he kept combed in complicated swirls. He was cocky, smart, and Soda's best buddy since grade school. Steve's specialty was cars. He could lift a hubcap quicker and more quietly than anyone in the neighborhood,

"That was a compliment Steve." Soda said looking over at Steve who was smiling. "It's the truth."

but he also knew cars upside-down and backward, and he could drive anything on wheels. He and Soda worked at the same gas station-Steve part time and Soda full time-and their station got more customers than any other in town.

"I say we should ask for a raise." Steve said, everyone just rolled their eyes as Soda nodded in agreement.

Whether that was because Steve was so good with cars or because Soda attracted girls like honey draws flies, I couldn't tell you.

"Huh? Never thought of it that way... It's because of me and the girls." Soda beamed. "Hell no! I'm better with the cars!" Steve said back to him.

I liked Steve only because he was Soda's best friend.

Soda glared at Steve.

He didn't like me-he thought I was a taga long and a kid; Soda always took me with them when they went places if they weren't taking girls, and that bugged Steve. It wasn't my fault; Soda always asked me, I didn't ask him. Soda doesn't think I'm a kid.

"He's not a kid Steve," Soda snapped at his best friend. "I don't think of him like that anymore! This was two years ago."

Two-Bit Mathews was the oldest of the gang and the wisecracker of the bunch. He was about six feet tall, stocky in build, and very proud of his long rusty-colored side burns.

"Pretty acurate." Tim said looking over Two-Bit.

He had gray eyes and a wide grin, and he couldn't stop making funny remarks to save his life. You couldn't shut up that guy; he always had to get his two-bits worth in. Hence his name.

I should shut up sometimes... Two-Bit thought to himself.

Even his teachers forgot his real name was Keith, and we hardly remembered he had one.

"He has a real name?" Everyone glanced at Tim. "I really never knew." He said as his defense.

Life was one big joke to Two-Bit. He was famous for shoplifting and his black-handled switchblade (which he couldn't have acquired without his first talent), and he was always smarting off to the cops. He really couldn't help it. Every thing he said was so irresistibly funny that he just had to let the police in on it to brighten up their dull lives. (That's the way he explained it to me.)

"Teaching the kid to smart off the cops before he's even eighteen. Smart."

He liked fights, blondes, and for some unfathomable reason, school. He was still a junior at eighteen and a half and he never learned any thing. He just went for kicks. I liked him real well because he kept us laughing at ourselves as well as at other things. He reminded me of Will Rogers-maybe it was the grin.

"Will Rogers?"

If I had to pick the real character of the gang, it would be Dallas Winston-Dally.

"I feel special." Dallas said, Sodapop just glared at him. Why his younger brother had picked Dally as the real character he didn't know.

I used to like to draw his picture when he was in a dangerous mood, for then I could get his personality down in a few lines.

"Stalker? Yes." "Shut up Tim."

He had an elfish face, with high cheekbones and a pointed chin, small, sharp animal teeth, and ears like a lynx. His hair was almost white it was so blond, and he didn't like haircuts, or hair oil either, so it fell over his forehead in wisps and kicked out in the back in tufts and curled behind his ears and along the nape of his neck. His eyes were blue, blazing ice, cold with a hatred of the whole world.

Dally went over the description of him in his head.

Dally had spent three years on the wild side of New York and had been arrested at the age of ten. He was tougher than the rest of us-tougher, colder, meaner.

"Compliment? I think yes."

The shade of difference. That separates a greaser from a hood wasn't present in Dally. He was as wild as the boys in the downtown outfits, like Tim Shepard's gang.

Tim smiled at the mention of his gang being one of the wild gangs.

In New York, Dally blew off steam in gang fights, but here, organized gangs are rarities-there are just small bunches of friends who stick together, and the warfare is between the social classes.

"The rich kids... Eh"

A rumble, when it's called, is usually born of a grudge fight, and the opponents just hap pen to bring their friends along.

"We always bring our friends along in fights. At least now we do."

Oh, there are a few named gangs around, like the River Kings and the Tiber Street Tigers, but here in the Southwest there's no gang rivalry.

"There's a little gang rivalry." Tim said with Dally nodding in agreement.

So Dally, even though he could get into a good fight sometimes, had no specific thing to hate. No rival gang. Only Socs. And you can't win against them no mat ter how hard you try, because they've got all the breaks and even whipping them isn't going to change that fact. Maybe that was why Dallas was so bitter.

Dallas never thought of it that way, he never thought that the reason that no matter what you can't beat the socs might be why his life was full of hatred.

He had quite a reputation. They have a file on him down at the police station. He had been arrested, he got drunk, he rode in rodeos, lied, cheated, stole, rolled drunks, jumped small kids-he did everything. I didn't like him, but he was smart and you had to respect him.

"Damn right you have to respect me."

Johnny Cade was last and least. If you can picture a little dark puppy that has been kicked too many times and is lost in a crowd of strangers, you'll have Johnny. He was the youngest, next to me, smaller than the rest, with a slight build. He had big black eyes in a dark tanned face; his hair was jet-black and heavily greased and combed to the side, but it was so long that it fell in shaggy bangs across his fore head. He had a nervous, suspicious look in his eyes, and that beating he got from the Socs didn't help matters.

Johnny looked down avoiding the looks he was getting from everyone.

He was the gang's pet, everyone's kid brother. His father was always beating him up, and his mother ignored him, except when she was hacked off at something, and then you could hear her yelling at him clear down at our house.

Johnny looked over at Soda and Darry. "Y'all could? Geez I'm sorry." "It's not your fault kid."

I think he hated that worse than getting whipped. He would have run away a million times if we hadn't been there. If it hadn't been for the gang, Johnny would never have known what love and affection are.

"And now he knows!" Two-Bit said gleefully, no one really felt like hitting him since they were all thinking the same thing.

I wiped my eyes hurriedly. "Didya catch 'em?"

"Nup. They got away this time, the dirty. .." Two-Bit went on cheerfully, calling the Socs every name he could think of or make up.

"Got quite a vocabulary don't ya Keith." Tim said looking at Two-Bit who glared.

"The kid's okay?"

"I'm okay." I tried to think of something to say. I'm usu ally pretty quiet around people, even the gang. I changed the subject. "I didn't know you were out of the cooler yet, Dally."

Soda wondered about that day, Pony everytime the subject went to him being jumped he changed it fast.

"Good behavior. Got off early."

"Yeah right, you don't have good behavior.

Dallas lit a cigarette and handed it to Johnny. Everyone sat down to have a smoke and relax. A smoke always lessens the tension. I had quit trembling and my color was hack. The cigarette was calm ing me down.

"Darry, I still think he as a smoking habit."

Two-Bit cocked an eyebrow. "Nice-lookin' bruise you got there, kid."

I touched my cheek gingerly. "Really?"

"Sure as hell was,"

Two-Bit nodded sagely. "Nice cut, too. Makes you look tough."

"Yep it was tough."

Tough and tuff are two different words. Tough is the same as rough; tuff means cool, sharp-like a tuff-looking Mustang or a tuff record. In our neighborhood both are compliments.

"That's sad isn't it..." "Sure is Steve." Soda looked down thinking, they did use both as compliments.

Steve flicked his ashes at me. "What were you doin', walkin' by your lonesome?" Leave it to good old Steve to bring tip something like that.

"Steve and Ponyboy should go to group therapy classes... It might help their hatred for each other." Soda glared at Tim but ignored the comment.

"I was comin' home from the movies. I didn't think..."

"He didn't think..."

"You don't ever think," Darry broke in,

"He still don't think."

"not at home or anywhere when it counts. You must think at school, with all those good grades you bring home, and you've always got your nose in a book, but do you ever use your head for common sense? No sirree, bub. And if you did have to go by yourself, you should have carried a blade."

"Oh no... Ponyboy isn't fit to be carrying a blade around."

I just stared at the hole in the toe of my tennis shoe. Me and Darry just didn't dig each other. I never could please him.

"Hehe..." "Two-Bit..." Darry got up and smacked Two-Bit.

He would have hollered at me for carrying a blade if I had carried one. If I brought home B's, he wanted A's, and if I got A's, he wanted to make sure they stayed A's. If I was playing football, I should be in studying, and if I was reading, I should be out playing football.

"Damn the kid never wins does he?"

He never hollered at Sodapop-not even when Soda dropped out of school or got tickets for speeding. He just hollered at me.

"Actually I did yell at him, then just gave up when Soda fell asleep."

Soda was glaring at him. "Leave my kid brother alone, you hear? It ain't his fault he likes to go to the movies, and it ain't his fault the Socs like to jump us, and if he had been carrying a blade it would have been a good excuse to cut him to ribbons."

"They might not have, they might've been scared of the big bad Ponyboy." Soda couldn't help but smile at Tim's comment.

Soda always takes up for me.

"Always have and always will!" Soda stated cheerfully.

Darry said impatiently, "When I want my kid brother to tell me what to do with my other kid brother, I'll ask you - kid brother." But he laid off me. He always does when Sodapop tells him to. Most of the time.

"Eh..." Darry said shrugging at the glares he was getting.

"Next time get one of us to go with you, Ponyboy," Two-Bit said. "Any of us will."

"We will." Two-Bit said agreeing with his previous self.

"Speakin' of movies"-Dally yawned, flipping away his cigarette butt-"I'm walkin' over to the Nightly Double tomorrow night. Anybody want to come and hunt some action?"

"By action do you mean pick up red headed soc chicks who accept your offer of a date a month after you originally asked?" Dallas smirked at Johnny's comment. "Something like that."

Steve shook his head. "Me and Soda are pickin' up Evie and Sandy for the game."

"Overrated..." Soda said smiling.

He didn't need to look at me the way he did right then. I wasn't going to ask if I could come. I'd never tell Soda, because he really likes Steve a lot, but sometimes I can't stand Steve Randle. I mean it. Sometimes I hate him.

"Well this hurts to find out." "Soda I'm," "Don't Steve."

Darry sighed, just like I knew he would. Darry never had time to do anything anymore. "I'm working tomorrow night."

"Darry. Take. Days. Off." Soda said before continuing to read.

Dally looked at the rest of us. "How about y'all? Two-Bit? Johnnycake, you and Pony

wanna come?"

"Thanks for the offer Dallas but... I'm going to be to busy getting drunk." Two-Bit said earning a smack from Dally.

"Me and Johnny'll come," I said. I knew Johnny wouldn't open his mouth unless he was forced to. "Okay, Darry?"

"I should start protesting him more."

"Yeah, since it ain't a school night." Darry was real good about letting me go places on the weekends. On school nights I could hardly leave the house.

"He wasn't doing to best in school."

"I was plannin' on getting boozed up tomorrow night," Two-Bit said. "If I don't, I'll walk over and find y'all."

"Of course Two-Bit was going to get drunk." "Shut Up Steve..."

Steve was looking at Dally's hand. His ring, which he had rolled a drunk senior to get, was back on his finger. "You break up with Sylvia again?"

"That lasted a long time." "Shut up Shepard she cheated on me with you."

"Yeah, and this time it's for good. That little broad was two-timin' me again while I was in jail."

"I'm done with her for good no I swear." Dallas said ignoring the looks he was getting from everyone around the room.

I thought of Sylvia and Evie and Sandy and Two-Bit's many blondes. They were the only kind of girls that would look at us, I thought. Tough, loud girls who wore too much eye makeup and giggled and swore too much.

"Scary people they are." Two-Bit said earning a laugh from Dallas.

I liked Soda's girl Sandy just fine, though. Her hair was natural blond and her laugh was soft, like her china-blue eyes. She didn't have a real good home or anything and was our kind-greaser-but she was a real nice girl.

"Soda she won't worth your time." "I know Darry."

Still, lots of times I wondered what other girls were like. The girls who were bright-eyed and had their dresses a decent length and acted as if they'd like to spit on us if given a chance. Some were afraid of us, and remembering Dallas Winston, I didn't blame them.

"No one can blame you for being afraid of Dallas, I Keith Matthews make that official."

But most looked at us like we were dirt-gave us the same kind of look that the Socs did when they came by in their Mustangs and Corvairs and yelled "Grease!" at us. I wondered about them.

"Oh no the kid's wondering about girls... Darry, Soda call the fuzz." Tim said looking at the two oldest Curtis brothers who were in shock their little brother actually thought about girls.

The girls, I mean ... Did they cry when their boys were arrested, like Evie did when Steve got hauled in,

"It was fake."

or did they run out on them the way Sylvia did Dallas? But maybe their boys didn't get arrested or beaten up or busted up in rodeos.

"Bingo, Socs don't get arrested, no matter what they do." Darry looked at Soda as he said this. "That made sense Soda."

I was still thinking about it while I was doing my home work that night.

"Homework... Overrated." Steve said, Two-Bit, Soda and Johnny nodded in agreement.

I had to read Great Expectations for English, and that kid Pip, he reminded me of us-the way he felt marked lousy because he wasn't a gentleman or anything, and the way that girl kept looking down on him.

"Homework references? Really Pone?" Soda smiled at Two-Bit's comment, of course Ponyboy would use school in this.

That happened to me once. One time in biology I had to dissect a worm, and the razor wouldn't cut, so I used my switchblade. The minute I flicked it out-I forgot what I was doing or I would never have done it-

"Wait, he was able to get his switchblade into the school? I'm patted down. So is Steve and Johnny." Two-Bit said looking around. "Well you and Steve threaten every single person who doubts you and Johnny..." Soda trailed off, they all know why Johnny got patted down.

this girl right beside me kind of gasped, and said, "They are right. You are a hood." That didn't make me feel so hot.

"Someone said that to Ponyboy?" "Sure did Soda, it was that Vanessa girl. I heard her telling her friends about that." Johnny said, he felt bad for Ponyboy.

There were a lot of Socs in that class -I get put into A classes because I'm supposed to be smart

"Supposed to be? He is smart."

-and most of them thought it was pretty funny. I didn't, though. She was a cute girl. She looked real good in yellow.

"Yeah call the fuzz." Steve said agreeing with Tim's statement.

We deserve a lot of our trouble, I thought. Dallas deserves everything he gets, and should get worse, if you want the truth.

"He did not just say that." Dallas growled. "I'm going to KILL him!"

And Two-Bit-he doesn't really want or need half the things he swipes from stores.

"I do too."

He just thinks it's fun to swipe everything that isn't nailed down.

"People have their hobbies."

I can understand why Sodapop and Steve get into drag races and fights so much, though-both of them have too much energy, too much feeling, with no way to blow it off.

"Way too much energy." Darry said stealing a glance at Steve and Soda who were smiling happily.

"Rub harder, Soda," I heard Darry mumbling. "You're gonna put me to sleep." I looked through the door. Sodapop was giving Darry a back rub.

"Darry, you have you're own slave!" Two-Bit said smiling like an idiot.

Darry is always pulling muscles; he roofs houses and he's always trying to carry two bundles of roofing up the ladder.

"Darry..." Soda said, Darry still tries too, makes the job 'Go Faster'

I knew Soda would put him 'to sleep, because Soda can put about anyone out when he sets his head to it. He thought Darry worked too hard anyway. I did, too.

"Take more days off." Soda said not even giving Darry time to protest.

Darry didn't deserve to work like an old man when he was only twenty. He had been a real popular guy in school; he was captain of the football team and he had been voted Boy of the Year.

"How come I am just hearing of this?" Two-Bit asked looking around at the people in the room. "We don't know, all of us knew. You were there, just drunk." Steve said.

But we just didn't have the money for him to go to college, even with the athletic scholarship he won.

"College is overrated anyways." Two-Bit said.

And now he didn't have time between jobs to even think about college. So he never went anywhere and never did anything anymore, except work out at gyms and go skiing with some old friends of his sometimes.

"More. Days. Off."

I rubbed my cheek where it had turned purple. I had looked in the mirror, and it did make me look tough. But Darry had made me put a Band-Aid on the cut.

"Giggle giggle." All heads turned towards Two-Bit. "Dude what the hell?" Two-Bit just shrugged at Steve's question.

I remembered how awful Johnny had looked when he got beaten up.

Johnny traced over his scar absentmindedly.

I had just as much right to use the streets as the Socs did, and Johnny had never hurt them.

Johnny still oblivious to what was being read flinched as he traced over the scar.

Why did the Socs hate us so much? We left them alone. I nearly went to sleep over my homework trying to figure it out.

"He's wasting his time, me and Tim figured out that it's not worth thinking bout." Dallas spoke.

Sodapop, who had jumped into bed by this time, yelled sleepily for me to turn off the light and get to bed. When I finished the chapter I was on, I did.

"Let the child do his homework." Darry said sternly looking at Soda who just looked down.

Lying beside Soda, staring at the wall, I kept remem bering the faces of the Socs as they surrounded me, that blue madras shirt the blond was wearing, and I could still hear a thick voice: "Need a haircut, greaser?" I shivered.

"Can we just go jump every soc we find?" Darry asked looking at the group, he was still pissed off those socs would even think about killing Ponyboy.

"You cold, Ponyboy?"

"A little," I lied. Soda threw one arm across my neck.

"Awww Curtis brother love."

He mumbled something drowsily. "Listen, kiddo, when Darry hollers at you ... he don't mean nothin'. He's just got more worries than somebody his age ought to. Don't take him serious ... you dig, Pony? Don't let him bug you. He's really proud of you 'cause you're so brainy. It's just because you're the baby-I mean, he loves you a lot Savvy?"

"More Curtis brother love." Two-Bit said, Johnny and Dallas laughed then soon everyone but Darry and Soda were laughing.

"Sure," I said, trying for Soda's sake to keep the sarcasm out of my voice.

"He's not the best at that." Johnny said looking around at the greasers.



"How come you dropped out?" I never have gotten over that. I could hardly stand it when he left school.

"Awww... Now I feel bad about dropping out."

"'Cause I'm dumb. The only things I was passing any way were auto mechanics and gym."

"Auto Mechanics and Gym... Those are the best classes." Steve and Soda said together.

"You're not dumb."

"You not dumb Soda, just not well..." Darry said looking around at the others for help. "Soda, you just didn't take the classes you were good at." Steve said, Soda rolled his eyes before continuing to read.

"Yeah, I am. Shut up and I'll tell you something. Don't tell Darry, though."

"Don't tell Darry?" Soda smiled looking down hiding from Darry's glare.

"I think I'm gonna marry Sandy. After she gets out of school and I get a better job and everything.

Tension in the room grew when Sandy was mentioned. Everyone in here hated her. Each of them had something they'd like to say to her if she ever comes back.

I might wait till you get out of school, though. So I can still help Darry with the bills and stuff."

"Bills and stuff?" Two-Bit asked looking at Soda. "You do know what bills are right?" Tim asked. Two-Bit nodded and looked down.

"Tuff enough. Wait till I get out, though, so you can keep Darry off my back."


"Don't be like that, kid. I told you he don't mean half of what he says..."

"I don't mean any of it sometimes."

"You in love with Sandy? What's it like?" "Hhhmmm." He sighed happily. "It's real nice."

"I was so stupidddddd..." Soda said interupting his own reading once again.

In a moment his breathing was light and regular. I turned my head to look at him and in the moonlight he looked like some Greek god come to earth.

"Soda... this kid has a crush on you." Steve said looking at his friend. "Steve, shut up." Everyone glanced up and saw Ponyboy soaking wet. "I'll be back." Ponyboy said before walking towards the back of the house.

I wondered how he could stand being so handsome. Then I sighed. I didn't quite get what he meant about Darry.

"Everything I said I meant."

Darry thought I was just another mouth to feed and somebody to holler at.

"No." Soda and Darry both said at the same time.

Darry love me? I thought of those hard, pale eyes. Soda was wrong for once, I thought.

"For once? Soda he gives you credit." Johnny said earning a glare from Soda and laugh from everyone else.

Darry doesn't love anyone or anything, except maybe Soda. I didn't hardly think of him as being human.

"Just going to ignore that." Darry said looking down.

I don't care, I lied to myself, I don't care about him either. Soda's enough, and I'd have him until I got out of school.

"Yes, Ponyboy I am the only person you need." Sodapop said sarcastically.

I don't care about Darry. But I was still lying and I knew it. I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.

"And that's the end of chapter one." Soda said closing the notebook. Everyone glanced around the room at each other, all of them were in shock about what they just had heard. Ponyboy's thoughts were so different then they thought. "Are you done reading that, can I just put it up to where no one can find it now?" Ponyboy said walking back into the room wearing new clothes. "Nope!" Two-Bit said, no one bothered to hit him. Everyone else wanted to finish this as much as him. "Can I read next?" Two-Bit asked, Soda tossed the notebook to him hoping it might make the stupid comments stop.

"Alright, Chapter Two." Two-Bit said. "Well if you guys are still going to read it I'm going to be here to defend myself." Ponyboy said sitting on the floor away from the group of greasers facing them. "Alright, how come you hate us so much?" Dallas asked glaring at Ponyboy. "I.. uhhh... Two-Bit read." Ponyboy said.

A/N I just re-read and dear god it was awful. I tried to fix the mistakes but how'd you people read it? I'll write chapter three and hopefully get that up in the new few weeks, until then review and tell me what I missed on this and what I should do to make this better, aside from characters.