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I Would be Alone to the End if Not For a Friend
I am walking along the streets. Alone. Cold. All I have is my worn leather jacket. Why are things so upside down? Ain’t there a way to make things right? Well, one thing’s for sure, nothin’s gonna happen out here. I should probably go home before I sleep at the park again. But the sad truth is, I would rather catch a cold than go home. I could sleep at Ponyboy’s house again, they wouldn’t even ask any questions. But there’s somethin’ else, a small part of me wants to go home and see what those sad excuse for parents do. I’ve been out all night, good parents would be worried, but mine would act like I don’t exist or beat me. But I want them to care. I’m not like Dally, Dally’s a strong stallion. He’s got a heater and been in the slammer more times than I can count with two hands. He ain’t gotta care in the world ‘bout his parents, and he knows they don’t like him. But I want my parents to love me and take care of me. While I walk home I touch the back of my holey jeans. I can feel the small switch-blade there. I hate the feel of it. But if another one of ‘em rotten Socs jump, they’ll regret it.
I turn the corner on my street and stop in front of my house. Through the window, I see empty beer bottles on the floor and dad on the couch in front of the T.V. Mom’s yelling at him to change the channel and take a shower. I feel like running. Far, far away. Sleep in the park or hitch on a train and leave. But I have the gang here. My only family. And I can’t keep tryin’ to run away. Slowly, I open the door and walk through. Mom turns around and stops yelling. Automatically, a look of disgust crosses her face. “The kid’s back. Great, another disgrace in the house.” She says in practically a snarl. “Don’t stand there looking like an idiot. While I’m at home cleaning you’re out stealing and fighting with those hoodlums.”
I can feel my blood beginning to boil. “My friends are not hoodlums. They actually care about me!” I accuse. Mom walks to me and grabs my arm tightly.
“Don’t you ever raise your voice at me, you’re only a burden. No one cares if you’re alive or dead. Bob, teach your kid some respect.” She says to my dad. He smiles at her then at me, in a way that made him look menacing. Fear washes over me, I feel weak and my knees are wobbling. I back up against the wall and my father stands tall over me.
“Forget respect. I’m gonna teach you some fighting moves.” He says. He slaps me across the head then socks me in the cheek. I can taste the salty blood in the back of my mouth. I groan, but don’t scream. I refuse to give him the satisfaction. Not when he punches me in the face, or when I get the wind knocked out of me when he punches me in the stomach. When my face was covered in blood, he rams me into the wall. My head smacks hard against it and I fall to the ground. He starts laughing, but the sound was distant. The back of my head was warm. But I could hear him when he said those five horrible words that my mother told me, “Who cares when you die?” When, when I die. He laughs hard again and reaches for a broken beer bottle. I faintly remember the switch-blade in my pocket. Could I? Could I kill this horrible person who was about to kill me? My own father? That would mean there would never be a chance for him to change. “I could hear my mom tell him, “Fine. But you have to clean up your mess.” That’s when I thought about my friends, and Dally. Dally wouldn’t just sit around to die. He would fight. And even though I don’t have much to live for, I refuse to die like this. My father advances on my with a wide maniac grin on his face. I pull out my switch-blade and had the satisfaction of watching the grin slowly disappear. “Son, just put that away now. Come on. I was only teaching you some moves. Son, I love you. Don’t be this stupid.” He told me. I was disgusted that this is how he tells me he loves me. My mom looks at us.
“Johnny, you clean up your mess after.” The she goes back to her T.V. I look at my father. My poor, abusive, neglecting father. But I could not do it. Could not kill him. He must have seen the surrender in my face and him grinned again. He opened his arms, the broken bottle in hand, “Come son, we can get along, can’t we?”
I give him one word, “No.” And then I ran out the door. I ran and ran and ran. All the way to Pony’s house without even stopping. The person who opened the door was Soda. I ran inside and just stood there.
“Johnny! Johnny who did this to you? Was it the Socs? Your head is bleeding.” Soda yells. Pony and Darry came out.
“What. . .” Pony says, looking as if he would be sick. Then I realized my face was caked in blood. Darry got a wet towel and looked so sad. I practically fainted right there, I was so beat and tired.
“It’s gonna be okay Johnny, we’ll get those Socs, don’t worry. You can stay here for a couple days.” Soda reassured me. I lied down on their couch, barely able to see right and felt so distant. The room was getting black. But I had to say it, “My dad, wanted to kill me. . .”
“Don’t worry. Everything will be all right.” Soda said as I gave into unconsciousness.