It had been too long. Bill woke up early, despite the hangover or maybe because of it. The bright California sun streamed full force into the apartment, unimpeded by curtains.

It was early, only the old people in the apartment complex were stirring, gray little mice. Bill heard the old lady from New Jersey setting up her cheap fold out beach chair, talking to her dog and muttering to herself. He heard the Oriental maintenance guy puttering around. He heard Dallas' heavy breathing, not quite snoring. He slept on the couch, unruly white blond hair obscuring his face. The young kid, Ponyboy, slept on the floor. He was sort of curled into himself.

He owed money to people, more money than he could pay back, plus the interest that compounded daily. He'd had a constant low level of anxiety that seemed to twist and squeeze his internal organs. They'd find him. Of course they would. They were looking now. They were getting closer every day.

He spied Dallas' keys on the kitchen table, the sun touching them and making them gleam. He looked back at Dallas, his eyes still lightly closed. Bill could see the movements of Dallas' eyes beneath his lids. He was dreaming. The kid, Ponyboy, stirred as Bill snatched the keys from the table and he held his breath. Then he settled back into himself and Bill let his breath out slow. He walked softly to the front door and left, closed it with a soft click. Then he sprinted to the car Dallas had driven from Oklahoma.

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...x...x...x

Mr. Myagi thought Daniel san looked better than he had expected.

They were in the visitors' room, not separated by plexiglass and the black phone. Visitors are searched before they enter and leave, so contraband can not be exchanged. A guard watched them expressionlessly.

Lucille tried to appear brave, optimistic, and her fear was imperfectly masked. Daniel didn't say much but Mr. Myagi could see that he was trying to look hopeful for his mother's sake. 'They love each other,' he thought, 'they put on these false faces for each other.' Under his false hopefullness Mr. Myagi saw anger, and that was better than what he had feared; apathy.

Lucille rose to go. She placed her palms on Daniel's cheeks and turned his face toward her.

"Listen, sweetie, we're getting a lawyer, you didn't DO anything. Everything will be fine," This confident speech cracked a bit at the end, and she closed her eyes and kissed his cheek. He allowed himself to be kissed and nodded at her words, even though neither of them believed her.

Mr. Myagi handed Lucille the keys to the truck.

"You bring truck around. I be right there," He wanted to talk to Daniel san alone.

She nodded at him, looked directly at Daniel and said, "I love you," each word carrying equal weight and Daniel nodded, echoed her words, and she left.

When she left Daniel's fake optimism dissolved and Mr. Myagi saw the anger, it was in his posture, in the set of his jaw, blazing in his eyes.

"Mr. Myagi, I didn't do anything," He clenched his fists. Mr. Myagi nodded.

"You believe me, right?" His voice was thick with desperation and anger, and Mr. Myagi saw the dark shadows around Daniel's eyes.

"Ay, believe you. But Daniel san, must listen. In this place," Mr. Myagi made a gesture that encompassed the jail, perhaps the world, "does not matter what I think, what others think," Daniel was looking at him hard, some of the anger drained away, "only matters what you think, what is in here," He tapped Daniel's chest lightly, above his heart.

"They can not imprison you there,"

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...x...x...x

At home, watching sitcoms on her parents' large screen T.V., Ali knew with a knowing that was so certain it frightened her, that other kid killed Johnny.

That other kid. What did she know about him? Precious little. Not even his name. She had only spoken to him briefly on the beach that day. He had looked enough like Daniel that they could be twins. But his hair was longer than Daniel's, it had curled behind his ears and there was grease in it. He'd had a scar high on his cheekbone. When he spoke to her he had an accent, sort of southern or Texan, twangy, like country singers.

But after Johnny and his Cobra Kai groupies left and Daniel lay in the sand, telling her to leave him alone, the other kid was gone. Johnny had not seen him that day.

So what had happened? She knew Johnny had it in for Daniel because she liked him, and Johnny did not take losing lightly. Everything had been a macho contest with him, everything had winners and losers for him. For her love and affection Daniel had won so Johnny would make him lose, bully him mercilessly. And he'd beat him up several times after that day at the beach, him and his little followers. Five against one. Those were the odds Johnny liked. She'd seen all the black eyes and cuts and bruises on Daniel, and she'd seen the way he avoided Johnny and the rest at school.

So what had happened? They'd run across the other kid one night and tried to beat him up, thinking he was Daniel, but that other kid was some tough city punk from Houston or Atlanta or Tulsa or some other southern/Texan place and he killed Johnny. Yeah, that seemed about right.

Ali shifted on the couch, flipped through the channels. What about evidence? Was there no blood from the other kid? No fibers or anything?

Maybe she'd go to the police, tell them about this other kid.

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...X...x...x

Dallas was trying to keep his cool. Ponyboy was eyeing him warily.

"Maybe he just went to get cigarettes or somethin'," Ponyboy said.

"Maybe," Dallas said tightly. The keys, the car, and Bill were gone. And Dallas didn't think they'd be coming back.

"Let's just wait a bit," Ponyboy said.

Dallas felt his temper rising, that out of control temper that had gotten him in so much trouble in the past. He wasn't just angry at the hassle he'd face with Buck if he comes back without the car or the hassle he'll have to go through to steal a car. Those things were a part of it but the real issue was Bill had crossed him.

He picked up the cheap lamp from the end table and threw it across the room. It shattered against the kitchen wall.