Dallas starts to realize just how far gone Alice may be.
Linda and Alice were crying, trying to push past Dally who was holding them back from the entrance. He wasn't going to let Alice, let alone Linda, back in there. He could still hear the occasional shots being fired and if Alice died...he'd have to start all over.
"But, Christine-" Linda protested, trying to push past him. Dallas hooked his arm around her waist and held her back further.
"You aren't gonna be much use if you get shot to," Dallas shouted. "Why don't you use some of that money I know you have and call the police huh?"
Linda stopped moving all together and looked on through the entrance. Dally looked over his shoulder his frown deepening when he saw Christine's blonde hair spread out on the gravel and blood. She wasn't moving at all. Alice let out a pitiful sob as she sunk down to the sidewalk.
Other kids came dashing to the entrance, pushing Dally out of the way. Linda was shoved against the chain link fence and Dally swore, catching himself before he fell over. He wondered why no one had bothered to call the police yet; back home they would have been there the moment it happened. They usually hung around the drive-in back at Tulsa. Maybe the Chicago police force was slacking off.
Dally pulled Alice up off the ground, grunting as she practically threw herself at him and held onto him. Linda sobbed somewhere in the background, but everything seemed to be moving slower to Dally. His step back seemed to take forever and it seemed like an eternity before he hit the fence. He noticed the distinct smell of some sort of flower and felt Alice's sobs move through his body. He wondered if this would happen every time she touched him like this.
"It's because you're her guardian angel. When she's that close to you, things seem to slow down a bit. You'll feel everything she does. Ya know, I'm surprised you actually did your job," Julie's voice chirped somewhere. Dally winced. Alice must have been feeling worse than he thought; it actually hurt to feel what Alice was.
He saw flashes of different memories. The exact moment Christine died, her eyes wide as the light behind them died. Alice's mother watching T.V. with her. Her brother leaving and her mom in hysterics. Her father's funeral, the time he was sick and the time before, friends he couldn't place the name too waving from the back of cars or seeing their faces on the front page of the paper.
Dallas bit his lip. The strongest feeling was emptiness. The want for everything to stop but the fear of it. Being stuck in the middle with no where to go. The doubt...
He was dimly aware of falling to the sidewalk beneath him, leaning against the fence as he held Alice and buried his face in her hair. He was familiar with some of the feelings she had. The devasation of seeing a friend die, the emptiness, the feeling of losing a parent...the want for it to just end. Dally held on tighter; he wouldn't cry, he wouldn't scream. That was the last thing he wanted to do. But he felt that if he let go of her, he'd get swept away. Lost in the feelings that were too strong for anyone to have to deal with...
Johnny...Damn it Johnny, don't die...
Why do ya bother helpin' people huh? It doesn't do any good...
Dally opened his eyes, gunfire ringing in his ears. He looked around, his brain recognizing a cop car...there was more than one of course, maybe about five. Paramedics were checking kids over in the crowds and one was walking over to him, Linda and Alice. He could hear Alice crying on his shoulder, her arms wrapped tightly around his neck. He saw Linda standing with another friend, holding each other and looking on, crying silently.
Dally didn't respond when a paramedic asked his name. "Shock," was the diagnosis for his silence. But when they tried to talk to Alice and pry her away from him, Dally only held on tighter, mumbling not to touch her.
"Wait until she calms down," Dallas said, his voice hollow. He winced as the paramedic cleaned the cut on his face instead and didn't respond to the paramedic's reassurances that there wouldn't be a permanent scar and that he wouldn't need stitches. Alice had a cut on her arm, which the paramedic (he told Dallas his name was Robert) took care of easy enough.
"She's not your sister is she? You don't look alike at all," Robert asked a few minutes later. Alice was now sitting next to Dally, hiccuping occasionally.
"No, she's a family friend," Dally replied. "I don't have a sister."
"I have a sister," Robert said conversationally as he checked Dally over. "She used to be a real brat, but she's better now. We were lucky it was just a phase."
"How old are ya kid?"
"And what about you?" Robert asked, looking at Alice. She just stared at him.
"Christine...can you please save Christine? I lost her...in the drive-in," Alice said. Robert looked at Dally, confused. Dally motioned for him to lean closer.
"She got shot. She's the blonde laying straight in front the of the entrance."
Robert nodded and gave Alice a reassuring smile and pat on the shoulder. "I'll do my best," he said as he stood up and walked away. Dally loved when people lied to make things easier...
"Oh Alice!" Jean cried, holding her daughter close. "I was so worried, the police called the house just as I walked in the door, saying that my child had been caught in a shooting! I was scared to death until I realized you had to have given them the number."
Actually, Dallas had given the police her number, saying that he was staying with her family for his school break so he wouldn't have to tell his own. Alice may as well have been a robot. She hadn't said a word since she asked Robert the paramedic to go save Christine. That was almost five minutes ago. Her mother didn't seem to notice the blond haired boy standing behind her daughter. Maybe no one could see him again.
"Alice," Linda said, walking up to her. "Where'd that blond boy go? I didn't...I didn't thank him."
"He went home," Alice replied quietly. "His father came and picked him up."
Linda didn't question her. There were so many parents wandering around, looking for their kids that there was really no reason not to believe that Dallas was already safe at home. Dally wasn't sure why he couldn't be seen again. Maybe he had gotten tired of people asking him questions.
"You did a good job Dally. Really. I don't think I've seen anyone so...protective," Julie said, startling him.
"Could you and Leann stop...dropping in out of no where?"
"Why, does it scare you?"
"I'm ain't scared of nothing,"/ Dally protested, his greaser grammar showing itself off brilliantly. /"But it's buggin' me."
"Well, I just wanted to congratulate you. I was gonna come here to nag at you, but this made up for it...I hope you realized that your job got harder. Seeing a death can be very traumatizing for a young person...well for anyone really. By the way, you missed your ride."
Dally scowled, realizing that Alice and her mother had, indeed, driven away already. "Thanks a lot Julie. Why don't you go and fantasize about Leann for awhile and leave me alone."
But Dally was already fading, headed for Alice's bedroom.
Alice was sitting at her desk, her pencil looping lazily across the paper. She was hunched over slightly staring at the gray mess. Dally didn't say a word. He had a sense of when it was right to be a smart ass and when it was time to just stay quiet. He didn't even sigh loudly when he sat down on her bed. He had the feeling that being sarcastic and getting on her nerves wasn't the best thing to do to cheer her up.
"...Paul sees things like that all the time," Alice said suddenly. There wasn't emotion in her voice and it bothered Dally a little. Usually you could tell what mood she was in just by hearing her talk. "He sends letters...sometimes...we haven't got anyone in awhile. He'll probably look like Christine, when he dies."
The now gray paper fell to the floor and her pencil started up again. But Dally still didn't say a word and Alice kept going. "His picture is at the top of the mirror...you know, sometimes I hate it when you talk...he talked a lot like you did. And I hate that...really..." Alice said bitterly. "Luckily, you don't look like him...did you know you kinda look like an elf?"
Dallas bit his lip and clenched his fists; he knew it was probably best that she just vented off her anger a bit, but on him? It was hard not to grab the back of her head and pound her face against her desk.
"It was nice of you to finally do your job though. I'm surprised you didn't just laugh and tell me to see if I could make it out before they saw me, while you smoked a cigarette. 'Cause, ya know, that's kinda the vibe you've been giving off for a while...Paul did that sometimes. Not when my life was on the line, but just sometimes. Take my bike and tell me if I could keep up with him, I'd get it back. I never could and he'd be gone all day with it. That bastard..." Alice muttered. Another page fluttered down. This one had some mean looking birds on it and what looked like a skeleton, but it was so deformed, Dally couldn't tell.
"I bet this guardian thing was the last thing you ever wanted to do. You probably hate people...when I saw you running up, I was scared you know. You really are a mean looking person. I thought angels were supposed to be kind and beautiful. How many times have you imagined me getting hurt? I bet it's a lot," Alice said. Her voice was so cool and casual; Dally imagined that maybe she had finally snapped and her mother would send her way.
"I used to have dreams, really weird ones, about Paul dying, ya know? They used to scare me so much I'd cry...but I'd never cry in front of you. You'd probably yell at me, or make fun...right? Yeah..." she sighed as the next paper fluttered down. It was a girl, huddled up and alone in a mass of black.
"Do you ever feel anything Dally? At all? I guess I should say did you...do you know what it's like to be happy, to love someone, to actually care? You can answer if you like, I don't care," Alice said, furiously tapping and swipping her pencil against the paper. They sat, the only sound coming from the pencil, which was pretty much attacking the paper. "Are imagining the paper screaming too?"
Dally looked surprised. He had...for a second, he had remembered the screams of someone getting jumped. "Yeah...I was."
"Did Christine scream, or did someone else? It's hard to tell; people sound the same when they scream. Or maybe that's just me...what do you think Dally, do people scream differently or the same?"
Dally didn't have an answer for that question. It's not like he had actually paid attention. He didn't jump people to tell if they screamed the same as everyone else. He just...jumped them because he could.
"You probably never noticed. You seem like the type of person that hardly notices anything...I personally think you should start paying attention Dally...it'll do you some good one day," Alice said calmly, another paper fluttering to the floor. Another dark picture; the back of an angel, with dark, bloody wings. He figured that there was a message somewhere in the pictures, but no matter how obvious it seemed, he couldn't quite figure out what she was trying to do.
Alice turned to him, her eyes glazed over. Her hands were gray from the pencil, which was now flat and could no longer be used. "I'm tired of drawing," she said, her voice monotone again. "You know. It's my fault the shooting happened. You probably have no idea why. Remember Ronnie? I gave him the drugs...the ones he and his friends were on when it happened. They wanted to be in the paper..." she said wistfully. "But, then again, I think we all do. Were you ever in the paper?"
"Yeah...a few times."
"Did you kill anyone?"
"No...I've seen it happen...but I never did."
"That's good...you don't need to kill anyone to get in a paper, you know...it certainly helps though, doesn't it? I mean, really...all you have to do is die and you get in the paper. It can't be that hard..." Alice smiled suddenly. "All of those kids are going to be in the paper...I bet Christine would have been thrilled."
Dally watched, as Alice slumped forward until her head touched his knee. She dropped out of the chair and sat there, on the floor, her head on his knee and cried. Not like before, where she sobbed and could hardly stand. More like the quiet crying you see at a funeral...
Dally put a hand on her head, and pet her hair like she was a dog; he barely noticed. He kept wondering if the gang had cried like that when he had died...and if not, maybe they had cried like that at Johnny's funeral...did they even go to Dally's funeral? Did he have one? Did Johnny? Or were they both just another body in a bag somewhere...?
Would Alice have cried for them?
/'Why would I care?'/ Dally wondered, the usual detatchment from emotion lacing the thought. Dally barely noticed when Alice fell asleep.