james e. hinton

Where They Ended Up- The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, & That Was Then, This Is Now

Where They Ended Up- The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, & That Was Then, This Is Now

I didn’t have to think about it.

Actually, I did have to think about it, though I didn’t want to think about it. Mark was a good guy, and he was in prison for selling drugs. Sodapop was a good guy, and he spent a year fighting in Vietnam. M&M was a good guy, and he lost his mind on a bad acid trip. Mr. and Mrs. Curtis were good people, and they were killed in a car wreck. Johnny was a good guy, and he was burned and crippled, and ended up dying.

I didn’t want to think about how bad things always happened to good people. Dallas Winston was a good guy, at least he was to me, and he died under a street lamp. Bad things happen to the young, good people. Charlie was a good guy, and he died with a shotgun wound above his eye. He hadn’t been drafted. Sodapop had.

Darry spent weeks without talking, drowning in his worry for his kid brother. Brion was a completely different person after making that calm phone call for the police. “Why are you doing this to me, buddy?” Mark had asked, Brion told me later on. The Motorcycle Boy was a good guy, and he was shot down by the police, Rusty-James watching his hero fall.

Ponyboy finally fell in love when he was sixteen with M&M’s sister, Cathy. Sodapop had just been drafted-he was nineteen. Darry opened his own roofing business when he had just turned twenty-three, and he was doing well for himself. Darry no longer had to work two jobs. He was worried for one kid brother because he was fighting in a war, and proud of the other kid brother because he was graduating high school early.

Two-Bit drank his last beer and sobered up when he was twenty. He had fallen in love with a girl who loved him deeply, and wanted the best for him. Steve moved out of his fathers house and bought his own when he was nineteen. He shared it with Evie until they broke up three months later. She was pregnant with someone else’s child.

Sodapop came home a year after being drafted, a week before his twentieth birthday. Soon after that, he met a bright eyed girl with long red hair, and she drove away the bad memories of watching more of his friends die in the jungle, just as he had watched one of his friends die under a street lamp.

That same year, M&M’s hallucinations began to fade. He still had them every once in awhile, but they weren’t as bad as they had been. Cathy and Ponyboy dated for a year before she disappeared without a word, moving to Atlanta for a “new life”, as she put it, when they had turned seventeen.

When Darry was twenty-three, he met Allison, a tall, lean girl who did interior design for new houses. They met while building a two-story house for a family of seven, and Darry never goes one day without thinking of the first time he saw her smile, green paint in streaks across her face and arms. She had long, curly brown hair, chocolate brown eyes, and a dimple in her left cheek. When Darry was twenty-five, he married Allison, and the colors of the wedding were green and white.

That same year, when Steve was 22, he became the owner of the DX, and his business took off, and he was doing well for himself as well, because everyone knew from miles around that Steve Randel knew any kind of car inside out. He took pride in this, and soon, there were DX stations everywhere in Oklahoma, and Steve owned them all.

Two-Bit had graduated high school (finally) when he was twenty, and he settled down, got his first job as a cashier at the supermarket, where Brion worked, and the two of them became friends. This was two months before Mark was hauled into the station for selling drugs. There was a kid who always sat in there, reading a magazine and eating M&M candies. He had long dark hair and charcoal colored eyes. He disappeared a month before that, and when Two-Bit heard they had found him living in a free love house, he also found out that he had lost his mind on a bad acid trip. “Too bad,” Two had told Ponyboy when he asked, “he was an okay kid. A weird kid, but an okay kid.”

When Steve celebrated his one year anniversary with his new girlfriend, Violet, he went to the pet store on the west side of Tulsa, and bought her a golden retriever puppy. She had wanted one all her life. While he was in there, he noticed an odd boy, tall and lean, with hair a strange color of red and serious eyes, staring at the “Siamese fighting fish” (or at least that’s what the pet store owner had said they were when Steve asked what was interesting about them.)

Steve heard on the news the next day that an odd boy with hair a strange color of red and serious eyes had broken into the same pet store, freed all the animals, and had been shot down outside. His fourteen year old kid brother had seen the whole thing and went into shock, then slit his wrists on the broken glass of the police car window he had busted.

I didn’t want to think about how all the bad things happened to good people, but it made me appreciate all the small good things that happened to good people. It’s been five years since Johnny Cade died in the hospital, Dallas Winston died under a street lamp, and three years since Charlie was killed by Texan travellers looking for trouble, and since Mark had been hauled into jail for selling drugs.

It’s been hard, but together we came through, because we stuck together like brothers, fought like brothers, and won like brothers.