The Outsiders Epilogue

November 13, 2013
As I walked into school for the last time, I felt as if I was going to cry. Wouldn't that be something? Seeing a tough hood bawl like a baby because he’s done with school. I had passed all of my classes with at least a C average, thanks to my freshman English teacher, Mr. Syme. I don’t know how it happened, how I graduated high school, how I would be going away to college at Mississippi State in only three months. Leaving Dally behind will probably be the hardest part of all of this for me. I wish I could say that I’ll be fine, that leaving everyone and everything I grew up with wouldn't phase me, but if I did, I’d be lying.

Thankfully, there haven’t been any more soc vs. greaser rumbles since that one the night Johnny and Dally died. I think, in the back of my mind, I will always associate major rumbles, such as that one, with loss. I don’t want to have to experience any more loss or even loss like Darry has had to; no one should have to have that kind of knowledge at such a young age.

It’s been almost three years since Soda left for Florida to go and marry Sandy; he left the summer after my freshman year of high school. Now him and Sandy are together down in Florida with my almost two-year-old twin nephews, Calvin and Carl. They've come to visit us a few times, but the little rugrats make it hard for them to do much traveling.

Two-Bit and Steve have both moved away within the past few years or so as well. Two-Bit got a job with the fuzz out west or something; who would’ve guessed that they guy who could steal anything he wanted would end up working to help fight crime? Steve is a different story though. About a year after the last rumble, Steve left for college somewhere up north. That was a shocker to us all. Apparently he’s been saving up money for quite some time; he had had enough cash to get him through two years of college. He’s been working on campus too, to help pay for his final two years of college. I’ve probably only seen each of them twice since they left, and neither of them have too much time to call us just to chat anymore.

Darry and I have been getting along well enough, even without Soda here to help mediate between us. I think that only having each other has helped us grow closer, although me not getting into so much trouble and keeping my grades up has probably helped as well. I have no idea what Darry is going to do once I leave; I’m hoping he can save up some money so he can do what he wants with his life now that he won’t have to worry about me or Soda anymore.

After my graduation ceremony and everything, I didn’t think Darry and I would do anything to celebrate, not like we did when I found out I had been accepted into Mississippi University with a full ride scholarship. I expected us to walk home together, because the bus fares were getting so expensive, and once we got home we would do what we had done every night since Soda left: watch TV and eat whatever Darry made that night. What shocked me was when Darry told me to get on a bus while we were walking home from my graduation ceremony that night. When I started to ask him questions like, “Where are we going?” and, “Why aren’t we walking home?” he just answered, “You’ll see soon enough Ponyboy,” with a smug look on his face.

What totally threw me was when yanked on my shirt sleeve, his silent signal for me to stand up so we could get off the bus, when we were still in the more expensive area of town that us greasers normally avoided: soc territory. Knowing that arguing with Darry or questioning him any further wouldn’t do me any good, I decided to get off the bus, follow after Darry, and just go along with whatever he had obviously planned. Looking back now, I don’t know what was more surprising: the restaurant Darry led me into or what was waiting for me inside.

Darry had led me into the restaurant that everyone (well, all the socs) at school said has the best pizza, but I had never been inside because it was way too expensive. When I walked into the restaurant, I think the first thing I noticed was the too-bright lights inside. The second was probably Calvin and Carl toddling (something they weren’t able to do the last time I had seen them) towards me while screeching, “Uncle Pony! Uncle Pony!” It took me a minute or so, but once I had the chance to take it all in, I realized that everyone was here. And by everyone, I mean everyone from our gang that had moved away in the past few years, plus a few other people I didn’t recognize.

The two unfamiliar faces ended up being Two-Bit’s girlfriend Lizzy, who was one of the cops he worked with, and Steve’s fiancé Miranda, who was a greaser from somewhere around where Steve goes to college and also one of his co-workers. We talked and ate for almost four hours but had to end up leaving around midnight because the restaurant was closing and if we didn’t leaving, Calvin and Carl would’ve fallen asleep with their faces in their pizzas.

Soda and Sandy and the twins were staying the night at our house, so I had to sleep on the floor, which I really didn’t mind that much, but Two-Bit and Steve and their girls had to leave so they could be back at work the next day. That night, at the restaurant, it felt almost as if Johnny and Dally were there with us, and the gang was whole and back together for just a few hours.

That night I was more restless than I think I’ve ever been. I don’t know if it was because I was sleeping on the floor or if it was just anxiety, but for some reason, Johnny’s last words, “Stay gold Ponyboy. Stay gold...” kept tumbling around inside my head, like a song being played over and over, slowly driving you to the point of insanity. Finally, when I couldn’t take it any longer, I decided to grab my copy of Gone With the Wind and read it outside, under our porch light. I hadn’t read the book since maybe my sophomore year, but once I started reading, it all came rushing back to me like an overflowed river. Not just memories from the book, but also memories I had suppressed for so long, with the fear that they would drive me insane if I thought about them too much: Johnny killing Bob the soc in the park, the old church fire in Windrixville, Dally forcing the cops to shoot him under the streetlight, both of them dying a hero in one way or another, everything. Since I didn’t want to think about that, not now, maybe not ever, I just read my book, blocking out all other thoughts: “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were...”

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