Categories > Books > Outsiders > On The Periphery

Absolute Insanity?

by Another_Illusion 0 reviews

Soda is hit with a moment of genius that Darry is sceptical of, and Jane tries to make sense of her new life in Tulsa.

Category: Outsiders - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama,Romance - Published: 2008-07-16 - Updated: 2008-07-16 - 3075 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.

Two: Absolute Insanity?

Sodapop Curtis grinned at his latest idea. It seemed only fair that he did something to contribute to the family; it wasn’t fair that Darry had to take two jobs on and put a hold on all his aspirations for the foreseeable future. Soda knew how tough it had been for him not to go to college in the first place, but he knew Darry had been holding out and hoping that he’d get there eventually. Now it seemed like there was no hope for that, which struck Soda as unfair.
After all, he went to school – which he didn’t even really enjoy, or do well in – but Darry couldn’t go any further with his education like he wanted to.
He looked at Steve cautiously. “So, what do you think then?” he asked, gesturing at the car.
“I think, Soda,” Steve said with a laugh, “that you’re more than just a girl-magnet.”
Soda grinned. “Aw, hell, you flatter me, Steve.”
“This could actually work,” Steve said with what Soda consider to be a note of amazement, much to his annoyance. His friend slowly walked around the old Ford Coupe. “Year?”
“’53,” Soda said, triumphant at his excellent idea. “One o’ Tim’s boys told me about it --Bobby something or other.”
Steve frowned. “If we want to sell it and it’s stolen --”
“Nope, it’s his sister’s husband’s,” Soda said. “Apparently he had the same idea as us. He bought it from a scrap heap, but it’s been sitting around for a year, and his wife’s going crazy about it.”
On the surface the car looked like a mistreated old rust-bucket – it certainly looked a lot older than thirteen years old -- however, with a little work, paint and effort, Soda was sure they could make a load of money off of it.
“How much is it?”
Soda grinned -- that was the best part. “The wife’s selling it for a hundred, I think we could get it down to $75 as she really wants it gone. She wants it gone real bad.” And hell, if he used a little charm, he could maybe get a few more dollars off it too. It wouldn’t hurt to try.
It was still a lot of money to be spending on such a spontaneous project, but it was a definite bargain. Soda could almost smell the profit lingering in the air by the Coupe.
“That’s like a bit under forty dollars each if I get it at $75, which is pretty much all that it is worth at the moment,” Soda said with a grin. “We do it up, sell it on and make some extra money.”
Steve swallowed. “At least we did a lot of overtime over Spring Break.”
“Exactly. It’s the perfect time, - we can cover the costs with the extra money, and then we could still get by with our wages.” For something that had occurred to Soda in English that morning, it was a pretty great plan, and well formulated. Sometimes Soda even surprised himself with his genius.
“There’s a guy on my street who was looking for a new car a couple of weeks ago … we better act fast. ”
Soda grinned widely. This would be perfect – experience for work, time with his friends, and a way of actually contributing something to his family for once.


At work, Darry’s life was completely different. For a start, all his college aspirations were left in the car, as well as all his troubles with his brother. Darry was just Darry at work. He didn’t completely pale into insignificance there since he was good at what he did, but he didn’t stand out and he wasn’t such a focal point.
In many respects, Darry just became any other guy in his twenties working with the roofing company. He liked that too – at home he was all too aware that he lived in an unusual situation and always wasn’t sure of the right balance between being a brother and acting as a guardian.
That afternoon, Darry was working with Peter and Carl. Peter was nearly forty, while Carl was twenty-six and acting like he had only just left high school. It was a good mix of people for a job, though.
The job itself was reroofing a derelict house that some guy had bought a while back without realising all the work it needed.
“I would hate to be the guy who bought this house,” Peter said, lighting a cigarette as they all took a break.
Darry leaned against the wall and exhaled.
“You okay there, Curtis?” Carl asked casually.
“Yeah,” Darry said, running a hand through his hair. He checked his watch, he had exactly ninety minutes before his shift ended.
He was pretty sure that he’d pulled a muscle at the gym the night before; his sides were killing him.
He was too young for this – for back pain, for the dissatisfaction he felt, the pressure and responsibility that were part of his every day life. Still, the alternative was hardly worth thinking about.
Peter looked at him and smiled as if he understood what Darry had been thinking. He’d once asked Darry why he was working at the roofing firm when he was smart enough for college and Darry hadn’t been sure what to say. He’d taken the job because it seemed easy and undemanding, and he was secretly certain he’d end up in college in the immediate future.
He hadn’t envisioned working there for two years with no signs of that changing.
“So, Darry, how’d it go last night?” Peter asked. Darry had had to leave work early the day before to get the house ready for Miss Smith’s visit.
“Fine,” he said bluntly. “How about you Peter, wasn’t it your daughter’s anniversary?”
“Yeah … o’course it meant that I had to have dinner with her ass of a husband.” Peter shook his head. “What my girl sees in him to stick it out for a year fools me.”
Carl raised an eyebrow at Darry and said in a low voice, “I can think of reasons.”
Darry bit his lip to stop laughing, and shaking his head said, “Right, let’s try and get some more down before I get home. The quicker this job is done, the better.”


“What the hell?” Darry muttered to himself as he pulled into the driveway. It was seven thirty and he had only just got home -- a combination of overtime and traffic that had left him feeling completely drained.
He got out of the car and walked over to the rusty car outside his home. Soda and Steve were standing next to it, talking animatedly.
“No,” he said instantly, already working out their plan. “No way. No way, buddy.”
“But Darry, this could be great.”
“I said no,” Darry said, thinking what absolute insanity the whole idea was. He could already see the car rusting further, abandoned, in a few months, with his little brother completely broke.
“Darry, this isn’t just an impulse,” Steve said. He looked apprehensive, as if he knew he was in danger of crossing a line and interfering in family business.
“Oh come on, it’s a great idea,” Soda said with resolute determination. “We’ll do it up and sell it for a profit. There’ll be no labour costs and we can get most of the tools and parts from work. Don’t you think it’s a great idea, Dar? We’ll have some money to give y’all then.”
“Soda,” Darry began stiffly. Soda didn’t need to give Darry money; that was his job after all. Darry was technically Soda’s guardian, it was his responsibility to keep a roof over their heads and Darry didn’t want Soda to worry about it. The kid was only sixteen, and it just wasn’t right.
He swallowed and took a deep breath, deciding on a different tact. “Soda, what about when you get bored of it? It’ll be rustin’ away, and how did you and Steve even get the dough for this?”
“We got it real cheap. C’mon, Darry, I know you think it’s a great idea.” His kid brother was trying to win him around with that same smile Darry knew broke most of the hearts of Tulsa’s female population. “We can make money off of it easy. It just needs a good cleaning, maybe some work under the hood, but it can be done.” Darry wondered what Soda meant by ‘some work under the hood’ but wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the answer.
He sighed. “Two weeks. I want it outta here in two weeks,” Darry said, unsure whether conceding had been a good idea.
Soda mock-saluted him and Darry shook his head as he walked inside the house, certain he was about to laugh.
He sort of thought it was a good idea.


It was too hot. Jane peeled off her cardigan and bit her lip as she closed the textbook. It was all spelt incorrectly -- to her -- anyway, so why bother? And if the fact that everything was spelt peculiarly wasn’t enough to drive Jane crazy, here she was with all those annoying dates to remember once again after not having to study History for a year.
She looked up as her little brother, Charlie, walked through the front door, kicking off his trainers but keeping his parka on.
Charlie had actually introduced himself to people around their neighbourhood and had already made friends. He was turning into quite a popular kid already, and Jane was ninety percent certain that he would get on well in Tulsa, after all he seemed to spend most afternoons playing outside with neighbours now.
Despite the romantic allusions Jane had held of being like some romantic character in a Shakespeare play, staying inside her home through grief, perhaps moping in her room for a month had been ill advised.
“Hey, Janie,” Charlie said as he walked into the living room.
“Charlie,” she greeted casually. “How was school?” Charlie, like her, had also started school today.
“It was okay,” he said with a cautious tone that instantly set off alarms in Jane’s head. “It’s different. Very different. It’s all grades here, rather than years, y’know and they’re all messed up. I’m in year five, but I’m in fourth grade.” He frowned. “It’s weird.”
“You’re telling me.”
“We’ll get used to it though,” he said cheerfully. “Where’s Mum?”
“Mum’s getting the shopping. We were out of milk. She should be back in a minute, actually.” Jane’s mother had been leaving the house just as Jane walked in and she’d explained this to her in a very rushed voice, after very quickly asking how Jane’s day had been.
“Oh.” Charlie sat down in the armchair.
“Aren’t you just dying in that coat? It’s boiling,” Jane exclaimed.
“Huh? Oh,” Charlie said, apprehensively reluctantly taking off his prized parka. It had been his birthday present last year from their parents; a fishtail parka, just like all the mods back home were wearing.
“It’s humid,” Jane said absent-mindedly.
“Yeah,” Charlie agreed, but it really didn’t sound like he was paying attention. Instead, he seemed to be focusing on a spot of dirt on his coat, which he was still holding on to tightly.
“So, how was it? Really?” Jane asked, feeling almost worried about the answer.
“Okay,” Charlie said. “You?” She looked at him seriously for a moment, looking for any signs that may imply he was lying about his day, but she saw none.
“There’s no common room,” she said with a smile, watching her brother’s lips twitch at her comment. The common room at her old school had been one of her favourite places to hang out between classes and at lunch. Her friends had managed to get the best place in the room, by the window and radiator so that they were covered for both summer and winter. Plus, it was fun having somewhere to unwind after double Physics first thing on a Monday.
“Well, that’s a tragedy,” her mother said from the hallway. “Now you can actually focus on your work. Come and help me with the shopping then.” Jane was momentarily surprised to hear her mother’s voice, she hadn’t heard her open the door, but perhaps she had been too entranced in her reminiscence.
“I did work back home. I worked in the common room,” Jane protested, walking into the hall. “Honest.”
“Yeah right,” her mother said, placing a bag of groceries in Jane’s arms. Okay, her Mum was sort of right … Jane couldn’t get anything past her; she never had been able to.
“You seem to think it was some den of illict partying and activity,” Jane said with a mischievous grin.
“Wasn’t it, darling?” her mother teased, tucking a strand of brown hair behind her ears.
“No. We got some serious studying done in there.” Jane paused. “With cake.”
“Mmhmm?” her mother questioned sceptically. “How was it then, Charlie?” she asked, turning her attention to Charlie.
“Fine,” he said with an ambivalent shrug. “Different, but fine. I’m in Tommy’s class.” Tommy was a boy who lived down the road and Charlie seemed to have hit it off with him, which reassured Jane to no end. She didn’t mind her own hypocritical, reclusive behaviour, but she would be damned if her little brother was going to end up lonely in a new place.
Jane smiled at him reassuringly. “Good. That’s good.”
“How about you, Janie?’ her mother asked.
Jane paused. “It was okay. It’s just very different from what I’m used to. It doesn’t mean it’s terrible, it’s just going to take a couple of weeks to get my head around it all.” She paused again and wrapped her finger around a loose thread in her blouse. “I did speak to some girl in the hallway and she was fairly nice.”
“Well that’s good,” she said. “It wasn’t as bad as you thought though, was it, Jane?” Her mother looked at her sympathetically, over the last several months in the build up to the move, and after the move, she had endured listening to Jane’s many concerns; starting a new school was one of them, and one of the most frequently discussed. Jane could also tell her mother was apprehensive about the relocation though, it came through in her worried questions to Charlie and her about how they really were.
“No.” Jane could have been melodramatic and cried that it was worse, but she couldn’t quite work out whether it had been a good or bad day. It had just felt like another day in Tulsa, and whether or not that was a good thing for Jane was still undecided.
“I have to do so many subjects again – I’d just got down to four nice, enjoyable subjects and now they’ve added a load more. Essay subjects too, like English and History.” Jane frowned at the word ‘essay’, though they didn’t call it that here either.
She and writing essays had never really hit it off; Jane was always far more comfortable doing something with a more definite answer and less variables. Essays and arts and literature – it all seemed to rest too much on shaky ground; you could be right if you could twist and mould things to suit your point. At least with Maths, it was right or wrong and there was no shade of grey in the middle.
Still, at least the teachers of the subjects that she had not touched for months had been supportive of this.
“You’ll get used to it,” her mum said gently, touching Jane’s arm. “Anyway, at least you don’t have to wear that hideous school uniform here. That’s a bonus, isn’t it?”
“I know,” Jane said with a giggle, remembering the uncomfortable, stiff grey skirt and itchy black jumper she had to wear day in and out back in Oxford. It was probably a bonus for her mother too, who had hated ironing her skirt due to its awkward pleats. “Do you want some help with making dinner?” she asked, secretly hoping her mother wouldn’t take her up on her offer.
“No, I’m fine, sweetie. You’ve got some post on your bed by the way.” There was something in the way that her mother said it that instantly cheered Jane up – her mother hadn’t need to add the post was from back home, but the implication was there anyway.
Jane couldn’t help beaming as she walked up the stairs. Letters had become her only way of communicating with her old friends, and today was just the day where she needed to remind herself that she still had friends, okay they were thousands of miles away, but hey, at least she had them.
It wasn’t that Jane didn’t think she could make friends, or felt particularly ostracised by the population of Will Rogers. The girls she had crossed paths with today had been nice enough, but starting a new school was so confusing – she didn’t know exactly whom she was supposed to talk to, or how she was expected to behave. It was a little like walking on eggshells, and Jane didn’t want to slip and make a wrong move.
She just had to take her time to figure it out – after all, nothing worth having ever happened over night.
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