Categories > Books > Outsiders > Epiphany0 Reviews
Dally’s jaw dropped. Darry? He thought wildly. What’s going on here?
“I brought you some stuff,” Two-Bit whispered, digging into his pockets and retrieving the goods that he had stolen throughout the day. “There’s cash here, and some jewelry too. You can pawn off the jewelry and get money for it. Whatever you need, man.”
Darry sat up groggily. “Thanks, Keith,” he replied, rubbing his eyes with the back of a dirty hand. “You really don’t have to keep doing this …”
“Look, I told you I’d help you out until you get back on your feet. I can’t help but feel sort of responsible for everything. I mean, if I didn’t take you out drinking that night …”
“Keith, it wasn’t your fault,” Darry replied, cutting him off in mid-sentence. “We both made some stupid decisions. And now I’m paying for my share of them.”
Stupid decisions? Dally’s mind was going a mile a minute. Darry was hardly the one to be making stupid decisions. He had always been the rational one—the one with the cool head, and the one who had kept everything from falling apart after his parents had died. He was smart, not street smart like the rest of the gang, but actually school smart—sort of like the way Ponyboy was turning out to be. He could have made something of himself had things happened differently. He could have gone off to college and gotten a real job with real prospects, far away from the gang wars between greasers and Socs.
While Steve liked to joke that Darry was “all brawn and no brain,” that fact couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Not too many twenty-year-olds from Darry’s situation could have held a steady job, made consistent payments on a house, and kept two younger brothers in line. What was he talking about? Stupid decisions? Now that was the stupidest thing Dally had heard all day!
“You tell me what’s going on here!” Dallas shouted, hoping the voice could hear him. “I want an answer, a reason for why Darry is like this!”
The voice remained silent.
“Tell me! Tell me right NOW!” Dally pounded his fist against the back of the park bench that Darry was sitting on, his eyes raging blue fire. He didn’t fully understand why the sight of Darrel Curtis as a derelict had gotten under his skin, but for the first time since he had embarked on this strange journey, he was seething with anger.
The situation just wasn’t fair.
Maybe Darry’s voice was still fresh in his mind from the phone call he had made what seemed like years ago. Although he hadn’t said much, Darry had listened and had shown up at the lot with the rest of the gang in tow. How often had Darry been there waiting in the wings, or offering a meal or a place to sleep? How often had he put his troubles aside for his brothers or any other member of the gang? People like Darry who had to go up against the world didn’t deserve to be bums on the street. No Soc. from the west side of town would have to suffer through such a life. No Soc. would have to set his dignity aside like that… But this wasn’t about the Socs.—they hadn’t made Darry this way. This was about him, Dallas Winston. If the glimpses the voice showed him were true then this was his fault. He was responsible for Darry’s life on the streets.
“So are you going to crash at my place tonight?” Two-Bit asked.
“You mean your Mom’s place?” Darry laughed.
“Yeah, yeah. You know what I mean.”
“I guess so. It would be nice to get a warm shower and to put some real food in my stomach. Then maybe I could check out the paper and look for a job too. The weather’s getting nicer so there are bound to be some roofing positions opening up …”
“Well, we’d have to pick up a copy of today’s paper on the way home then. Mom doesn’t usually just buy one. Money’s tight as it is and, come on, do you think any of us really care to read it anyway?”
Darry stood up from the bench and stretched his arms, they were still big, but the muscles had lost a bit of their firm tone due to the lack of use. “I suppose not,” he replied. “Although a little reading never hurt anyone.”
Two-Bit ignored him and they both headed out of the park. They waited at the bus stop and when it came around they both hopped on and headed out of the city.
Dally didn’t have the patience or the will to follow them.
Over the course of his previous glimpses, Dally had mimicked both Steve and Two-Bit’s every move and didn’t like what he had seen. He knew that Darry would end up at Two-Bit’s house, and if he didn’t he was pretty sure that he could locate him in other ways. Besides, there wasn’t anything new that he was going to see by accompanying them—he could just about guess how Two-Bit was going to acquire a copy of the newspaper.
As he headed out of town on foot, the voice spoke up. “You’re not giving up on this are you?” It asked.
“Of course not,” Dally hissed. “I’m just not going to be a shadow anymore. I’m going to do things my way from here on out. You’ve had you chance to boss me around.”
“Boss you around? Is that what you think I’m doing?”
“What would you call it?”
“I’d say I’m helping.”
“Ha!” Dally laughed spitefully. “The only thing you’ve helped me to do is realize that my decision to end my life was worth it. From the way things turned out with my friends so far, the world is definitely not a good place. I’m glad I’ll be leaving it soon.”
“The glimpses you are seeing are of how things could have been, Dallas. Have you forgotten that your trip to Tulsa as a child prevented those scenarios from coming to fruition?”
“Whatever you say,” Dally said, refusing to truly listen. This guy used weird words like fruition for crying out loud. “You still haven’t told me why Darry ended up the way he did…”
Dallas waited for a response, but in typical fashion, the voice had already left him. He continued on his walk and eventually ended up in the old neighborhood. Dally walked down a rundown residential street and toward the Curtis house. As he approached, he could see that it had changed too.
It was a lot like Darry, actually, warn out and weathered. Empty and slowly falling into ruin, there was a big “Foreclosure” sign sticking up out of the front yard. Obviously, whatever mistake Darry had made had resulted in him losing the house. Had a drunken night with the new Two-Bit prevented him from going to work or some other commitment? Maybe there had been a rip-roaring party at the Curtis place and the cops had come to resolve a complaint. No matter what the reason, Darry was now on the streets, finding shelter at friends’ houses and on park benches. Were Ponyboy and Sodapop doing the same thing? Dally hadn’t even heard mention of them yet. Maybe it was better off that way.
Dallas stepped toward the front yard and opened the rickety gate that wrapped around the Curtis’ small property. He approached the front steps and climbed them. Using the sleeve from his jacket, he rubbed some dirt off of the large living room window and peered inside.
Instead of seeing the dusty and deserted interior, he saw a home filled with the verve and energy from five years ago. It exuded warmth and safety, two things that his own home never had. Dally blinked his eyes and then rubbed them with his hand. Was he really seeing this?
As he focused his vision, he could clearly see Mrs. Curtis sitting down at the dining room table, surrounded by a seemingly endless array of bills. He watched through the glass as a younger Darry emerged from the kitchen, carrying a dinner plate piled high with leftovers from that evening’s meal.
“How was practice tonight, Honey?” Mrs. Curtis asked her son as he sat down across from her and hungrily attacked the food on his plate.
“Great!” Young Darry exclaimed, talking through bites. “Coach says that I’ll be a starter on the Varsity team if I keep it up … And I’m only a freshman!”
Dally listened as the teenaged version of his friend rambled off some highlights from the practice. It was hard to remember Darry that way at all. It had been so long ago.
After a few moments, another more familiar voice—somewhat higher pitched, but familiar none the less—caught his attention. “Now you listen to me, you two. It ain’t safe for little kids to be hanging around at the lot after the sun goes down. You guys can’t protect yourselves the way I can. You better stop acting like babies and start thinkin’ for once. You dig?”
“We dig, Dally,” came the even higher pitched reply—a chorus of two more childish voices.
Dally turned and watched with partial amusement as a younger version of himself climbed the stairs to the front porch, dragging Ponyboy and Johnny behind. He vaguely remembered how, even as a kid, he had looked out for them and kept them out of harm’s way.
If only he had been able to keep up with that in more recent years. A lot of good he had done about a week ago…
Dally brought his attention back to the Curtis’ living room as the door swung open and he brought the two younger boys inside. “Mrs. Curtis,” his younger self began, his eyes hard and unflinching, “I was just passin’ by on the way to Tim’s, and I found these two playing in the lot again. They need to learn that the lot ain’t no place for a couple of kids, especially at night.”
Mrs. Curtis, who had been listening intently let out a sigh and shook her head. Dally could tell now that it was done to humor him, but at the time he hadn’t even realized it. “Why, thank you, Dallas. I’ll keep a better eye on them next time,” she replied.
Young Dally nodded. “I sure hope so,” he replied, his tone stern and defiant. “Because I don’t have time to baby-sit them.” Even then he had had the courage, or just plain nerve, to talk back to adults. He watched himself leave the house and head down the stairs to the sidewalk, light up a cigarette, and continue on his way.
Back in the house, Mrs. Curtis sent Ponyboy and Johnny off to get ready for bed—apparently Johnny had spent the night a lot back then too—and then went back to working on her bills.
Dally continued to watch through the front window as Darry looked over at his mother. “Why do you let him talk back to you like that?” He asked, referring to the twelve-year-old Dallas. “If that was me or Sodapop, you’d ground us or something.”
Mrs. Curtis smiled at her son. “Dally is a different kind of kid than you or your brothers. He comes from a different kind of family and he’s had a rougher life than you. I mean, that boy is only twelve and he’s practically a grown up already. He’s so set in his ways that no scolding from me is going to change his thinking.”
Young Darry looked slightly confused. “So what do we do about someone like him, then? Just let him do what he wants?”
Mrs. Curtis laughed. It sounded eerily like Sodapop. “No, Darrel, we need to be stronger people and show him how to act by our example. We need to let him see the good in the world by the things that we do and say. Maybe then, one day, he’ll realize it and adjust his attitude … At least a little bit, I’d hope.” With a smile, she ruffled Darry’s hair and then went back to working on her bills.
Darry seemed to process the information and then went on eating his dinner. “Mom?” He asked suddenly. “Do we have an easy life?”
Mrs. Curtis leveled with him. “Look, Honey, you know that we aren’t the richest family in town, but your father and I do our best to provide for you and your brothers. Our life is far from easy, but at least you’re growing up in a home with two parents who work very hard so that you can be happy. We figure that if we do our best at our jobs or wherever, then, at the end of the day, things will work out somehow and we’ll be able to make ends meet—we have so far, anyway.”
Darry looked at his mother very seriously. “Mom, I’m going to do the same thing when I become an adult,” he said. “If things are tough for me, I’m going to press on and find a way to make everything work—just like you and Dad.”
Mrs. Curtis beamed with pride. “I know you will, Darry,” she said with a smile. “I know you will.”
Dally turned away from the window for a moment and when he looked back inside, the place was dark and dull and empty again. He let out a low sigh and then sat down on the front steps. He pulled a cigarette out of the pack in his pocket and hastily lit it up. Was that it? Was that the reason he had demanded the voice for earlier? He could almost hear the voice’s reply before it was spoken.
“There you go, Dallas. You asked, and now you know. Without you to spark a little healthy curiosity, Darry never had that conversation with his mother. He never questioned his family’s situation, so he never realized that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to keep things together.”
“But … That was so minor,” Dally muttered under his breath.
“It doesn’t matter how minor it was, but rather that it happened,” the voice replied. “I know that this is just getting worse and worse for you, but you have to see. You have to realize what a positive impact you’ve had on the gang.”
Dally shook his head. “I don’t care what you show me,” he said angrily. “I can’t believe anything you say. I won’t believe it.”
“You are a stubborn one,” the voice said with a small chuckle. “But you’ll come around. They always do.”
Dally stood up from the stairs and left the Curtis house. Two-Bit and Darry were probably at the Matthews place by now. He walked down the street in a huff, wondering why he had even agreed to these glimpses. He should have just ignored the burning curiosity altogether. But it was too late now.
Approaching Two-Bit’s house, Dally could hear his two friends conversing on the porch. As he got closer, he could tell that they had had quite a few drinks and that they were in the process of consuming more.
So much for job hunting, Dally thought to himself, hanging back by the sidewalk, just listening.
“Here’s to you, Keith,” Darry said, raising the beer bottle he was holding into the air. “For being a pal and always looking out for me.”
Two-Bit laughed—the first one Dally had heard all day—as he guzzled down the bottle he was holding. “I do what I can. Gotta use my God-given talent for something …”
Darry laughed too, and then sobered up for a second. “And here’s to my brothers.”
Two-Bit nodded in agreement, then held up a fresh bottle of beer. “Yeah,” he added. “Here’s to Ponyboy and Sodapop. Wherever they are.”
“Wherever they are …” Darry repeated quietly.
Dallas closed his eyes and shook his head. So Darry didn’t even know where his brothers were—the same brothers that he had fought tooth and nail to protect from social services, the fuzz, and anyone else that might get in their way. Not only had Darry lost his parents in this life, but for all intensive purposes, he had lost his brothers too. Now all he had was booze and Two-Bit—who went by Keith, of course—to get him through day to day. It all seemed so unsettling.
Unable and unwilling to deal with it, Dally turned and headed back down the street. He came upon the vacant lot and the streetlight he had left behind and sat down beneath it.
“I hate this,” he muttered to himself. “This is all just a big waste of time.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” the voice replied suddenly. “But you’re half way done. Only three more people to see.”
Dally sighed, not up for arguing at the moment, and waited as the buzzing sound and then the dizzying spinning sensation returned.