Categories > Books > Outsiders > On The Periphery

On The Periphery

by Another_Illusion 1 review

Working two jobs and trying to take care of his brothers was more than enough for Darry to deal with, but when someone completely on the edge of Tulsa appears, Darry's life is thrown into disarray.

Category: Outsiders - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Romance - Published: 2008-06-09 - Updated: 2008-06-09 - 2424 words

On The Periphery by Another Illusion

Summary: Darry was on the side-lines of both the gang and his peers, though he didn’t mind that -- working two jobs and trying to take care of his brothers was more than enough to contend with. However, when someone completely on the edge of Tulsa appears, everything is thrown into disarray.

Author’s Note: I own none of S E Hinton’s characters and make no profit at all from this. Thanks as always to my excellent beta. The quote is from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3.

One: April, 1966

“/There is a tide in the affairs of men/
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries …”

He simply didn’t have time for this. Darry leaned against the kitchen counter and drained his mug of coffee. He had exactly one hour before work and his social worker was already late. Darry put his cup down and told himself it would all be fine.

The problem was that he had only been working at the warehouse for a few weeks and he wasn’t sure he was in the position yet where he could afford to turn up late. They had seemed disapproving enough when they realised he was trying to moonlight.

“What if she’s any later?” Soda asked cautiously as he walked into the kitchen.

“It’ll be fine. I’ll get to work on time, don’t sweat it,” Darry said.

The social worker was fifteen minutes late when she finally pulled up into the Curtis’ drive. Darry sighed, taking a deep breath. He would never tell his brothers, but every time the social workers came, he was terrified he would lose them.

He watched the woman walk up the drive in her smart dress and jacket and felt suddenly conscious of his jeans and old shirt. Hastily buttoning the top button of his workshirt, Darry shook his head and opened the front door.

“Ah, Darry, isn’t it?” She always did this; always acted like she had never met them before despite being the main social worker on their case.

"Miss Smith, why don’t you come in?” he said in the friendliest tone that he could muster.

“Why, thank you,” she said, walking inside their house. “This house is far cleaner than I expected with three boys living here.”

Darry caught Soda’s eye, who was now putting school books in his bag.

“Thanks, Ma’am,” Soda said in a voice that sounded serious but Darry knew it was the tone used when he wanted to laugh but knew he really shouldn’t.

“I’ll just have a look around if you don’t mind,” she said.

“How are you getting on then?” Miss Smith asked, tucking a lock of brown hair behind her ears and flashing her expensive earrings at them in the process.

“Good,” Soda said. “Ain’t we, Ponyboy?”

“Yeah,” Pony said from his position by the television.

“And financially? How are you managing?” Miss Smith asked, raising a sceptical eyebrow at Darry.

“We’re managing,” he said. Thankfully his parents had just paid the mortgage off before the accident so they just had to cover all the bills and living costs, which wasn’t easy on a roofer’s wage. Darry had just started a second job at a local warehouse; it was a security gig, three nights a week. With that, he was sure they could just get by. Plus Soda insisted on contributing part of his wages from his part time job at the DX.

However, Darry always inevitably hit part of his overdraft by the end of the month but he was sure that was quite normal. Most families did that, he was pretty sure his parents had, and they’d kept it pretty together when he was growing up. Besides, it had been Spring Break and that meant that they’d been spending even more money than usual on food, particularly when their friends came over.

“Well, that’s good,” Miss Smith said with a look that said to Darry that she could see right through him. “Now, Ponyboy how are those grades doing? You start school again tomorrow, right?” Darry noticed how she didn’t ask Soda and instantly felt protective of his younger brother.

“Yeah. I’m getting As and a couple of Bs,” he said calmly. Darry smiled, his brother was smart, very smart. Even though he lost his shot at college, he was going to try his hardest to make sure Pony got a chance to go.

Darry swallowed heavily. A month before the accident, he had been talking to a kid he played football with at Will Rogers about the possibility of having a sponsor through college, some old lady or something. His friend had even talked to his boss about helping him out.

Darry had been planning to broach the subject with his parents the night that they died.

He was broken out of his reverie when Miss Smith started to interrogate him again. Despite her fragile appearance and soft voice, the woman was like a wild, angry monster in some respects. Darry had a feeling he wouldn’t like working for her. “Now, Darry, I’m slightly concerned about how, if you work two jobs, your brothers will be adequately cared for. Surely, you must be very tired and -”

“I’m fourteen,” Pony interrupted. “I’m not a baby!”

Darry stifled a smile at his little brother. “We manage, I deliberately work hours around my brothers so that they can be cared for satisfactorily. Also, Soda and Pony are teenagers and very responsible for their age. If they were younger, I would share your concern, but I disagree with your concern.” It came out colder than he wanted it to, and he was pretty sure that if he looked in the mirror he would see a steely, cold face staring right back at him. “As for my own health, I’m fitter than ever, Miss Smith,” he said in a low voice.

Miss Smith didn’t reply but looked around the room again. Darry checked his watch one last time and started planning exactly what he would say when he got to work.


The parking lot was a hub for greasers before homeroom, particularly on the first day back from Spring Break.

Soda walked over to where he could see his friends had parked. Two-Bit was chattering away, leaning against his Plymouth as smoked a cigarette and pretended to listen. Soda shook his head as he surveyed Two-Bit’s car. Steve recently did some work on it and called the thing a ‘nightmare’.

“Soda,” Two-Bit called cheerfully, waving him over.

“Hey, Two-Bit,” Soda said. “I hear Annette’s looking for you.”

“Can’t the girl get a hint? I’m back with Kathy now. I tell you if Annette wasn’t so cute and blonde then I would be mighty annoyed,” Two-Bit said with a laugh.

“So you and Kathy are back on already?” Two-Bit had announced he and Kathy were over on Friday night.

“If y’all can call it that,” Steve drawled with a snide grin.

Two-Bit shook his head. “You’re jealous, Steve. You’ve got to let it out, if you bottle it up it won’t help you.”

“Jealous?” Steve scoffed and Soda leaned against Two-Bit’s car with a grin, enjoying the scene before him.

“Yeah, Steve, jealous.”

“I have a gorgeous girl, why do I need to be jealous?” he questioned sharply. Soda had heard Evie described as a lot of things –particularly by Steve -- in his time, but gorgeous wasn’t one of them.

“I’m just sayin’ what I see,” Two-Bit said.

Soda decided it was about to time to pull Steve and Two-Bit out of their conversation before it turned into an argument. “It’s payday tomorrow.”

“And?” Steve asked.

“I’m taking Sandy bowling, y’all wanna crash?”

“Sure,” Steve said. “I’ll show ol’Two-Bit here what a real winner looks like.”

“But I see a winner every day when I look in the mirror,” Two-Bit said casually. “Count me in anyway, Soda.”

The crowd began to walk towards the school building and Soda checked his watch. /Homeroom. /Next to Gym and Auto mechanics, homeroom was Soda’s favourite class.


Soda rested his head in his hands as the announcements dragged on through the intercom while Mr. Stone, his homeroom teacher, spoke to some girl he didn’t recognise. To his right, he could see his girlfriend, Sandy, talking to some of her friends. She caught his eyes and smiled.

“Soda,” she said in a low voice.


“You working tonight?” Soda was working as much overtime as possible currently and had picked up several after school shifts.

“Until 6, why? Want to meet up afterwards or something?”

“Sure,” Sandy said. She had this ability Soda couldn’t quite make sense of; she could start a conversation but make Soda seem like the one who had had the initial idea. She was completely unknowable, and that was probably why he was crazy about her.

“Alright,” Mr Stone called as the announcements ended. “That’s better. I trust you all had a good Spring Break?”

Some people began to call out and there were a couple of jeers before Mr Stone raised his hands. “Do not continue. I do not want to know,” he said evenly.

Mr Stone, who had been leaning against his desk, suddenly stood up a little straighter. “Now, before I forget, we have a new student in our midst. No, don’t all turn around and stare, c’mon, we’re not in third grade anymore. Anyway, her name is Jane Lewis and she has joined us from Britain, yes that other country over the pond. Obviously moving is tough, but because it’s a different country, it will be even harder, so try and help her out a bit, okay? Anything you would like to add, Jane?” Mr Stone sounded bored, like he was reciting some set speech; however his words had caught the interest of a lot of Soda’s classmates who were now sitting up with interest.

The girl who was now sitting by a window shook her head. Soda was temporarily confused as to why someone from England would ever want to move Tulsa, he would have though New York or California was more desirable, however he guessed that there was probably a good reason. After all, you don’t just move to another country on a whim.

“Okay then,” Mr Stone said cheerfully, clapping his hands together. “Role call.”


The day was not a success so far. Jane sighed as she grappled to open her locker while carrying so many new textbooks. Well, at least she had been able to actually get the combination in. Quietly she debated the merit in dropping her books to the floor and causing a scene.

Someone opened her locker suddenly and took two of the books on top, lightening her load.

“Thanks,” Jane said, mindlessly putting her books in her locker. She had a couple of minutes before her second lesson of the day

“No problem, you looked like you were about collapse under the weight, or something,” a light feminine voice said. “You’re new, aren’t you?”

“How could you tell?” Jane asked, shutting her locker and turning around.

“You’ve got new textbooks, and also your accent is most definitely not from around here. C’mon, it’s not even American.”

Jane smiled. “You’ve got that right.”

“I’m Evie,” the girl said.

“I’m Jane.”

“Hi Jane, welcome to Will Rogers.” Evie looked behind her suddenly. “I’ve got to go to class. I’ll see you around.”

“Yeah, see you.” Jane wondered if she should have asked where her next class was, or something, anything to keep the conversation going.

In a way, it was like being in a different world, as if Jane had truly gone through the looking glass. The accents were different, sometimes difficult to understand, then there was the odd spelling, and of course the fact Americans drove on the wrong side of the road. Of course, in their eyes, she was the one who was out of place, the jigsaw piece that wouldn’t fit. A piece from an entirely different puzzle. A piece that would never fit no matter how much one tried to force it.

The icing on the cake was that Jane never wanted to move in the first place; but she was stuck there now, and flights home were most definitely not cheap. All her friends and the life she had worked hard to build into something worthwhile were miles away and letters were her only viable form of communication.

At least it was green. Jane had expected some dust-bowl, but there were parks and grass. It wasn’t Oxford, but it could have been worse. Much worse. Somehow, that didn’t comfort her though.


Between the faint song on the radio, and the general sounds of the gym, Darry exhaled slowly, wiping his face.

“145,” his friend said, “impressive.”

“I benched more when I played football,” he grumbled, sitting up and leaning his hands on his knees. Lately, he had been concerned that his high school football career would be the pinnacle of his life. Darry wasn’t sure that he could take that.

“Yeah, well, you’re the only one o’ us who still looks like a football player. I blame Olivia for that with me, y’know she’s eating for two and I’m having to do the same.”

Darry grinned. “Yeah right, Carl.” Carl had got married right out of high school to Olivia Young, and they were expecting their first kid in the summer. You couldn’t stop Carl from talking about it.

“Well, that’s what I tell myself anyway,” he said cheerfully.

Darry hated to admit it, but he felt jealous – or resentful at least – of his friends sometimes. They were in college, or with girls they loved and they had none of responsibility that had been foisted onto Darry’s shoulders. The weight was heavy and he struggled with it as everyone around him seemed to be free.

Darry sat back on the weights table again and took a deep breath before starting his workout again.
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