I rolled over, "Two-Bit?"
I sat up, "Two-Bit?"
Grabbing my pants I jumped out of bed, opening up the bedroom door.
I looked around, soon hearing Ms. Mathews' voice coming from the living room.
"…If they moved now, though," she began, "how much would that cost me...uh-huh…that can't happen, can it...look, I just want my son and his friend to have a nice place to stay, that's all. C'mon, you know that this isn't a social call, Ben. I need this for them. They need this…it's been a whole year, I just want to do something nice for my son and his friend…"
Since when does Ms. Mathews call Two-Bit and me just friends?
I was confused. Surprised, in fact. Ms. Mathews didn't seem like the kind of woman that would call us friends when we were in fact dating…
But then I remembered what else she was saying: "If they moved…" "I just want my son and his friend to have a nice place to stay…"
I sighed and realized what she was doing.
She was a great mother, Ms. Mathews.
Before I went back to bed I had a jolly rancher or two, then realized Two-Bit left me a note next to the bed: "Marcia called me. Be back in an hour."
I smiled and removed my pants, lying back down on the bed.
As expected, when I woke up Two-Bit was in my arms.
I kissed his cheek and got out of bed, stretching and pulling on my pants and shirt.
Entering the kitchen I smelled bacon, "Morning, Ms. Mathews."
"Good morning," she smiled, "Scrambled?"
"Sunny side." I told her, pulling out the orange juice.
"You've got it." She cracked an egg.
I poured myself a glass, my hair in my eyes from my lack of will to give it a cut.
Putting the juice back in the fridge I sipped out my glass, the cool juice refreshing my dry throat.
I pushed my hair out my eyes and took another sip of juice.
"Ms. Mathews," I began, "I wanted to thank you for letting me stay here. Since Aunt Fiona moved up to Washington State…and Two-Bit and me started to be…um…"
She looked at me and smiled, "It's not a problem, Sweet. I mean, you got my son to get a job, he's even considering going back to school."
I smiled, "I didn't get him to do-"
"You got him to fall in love." She interrupted.
I looked at her nervously, "Ms. Mathews…"
"You've pushed him outside his comfort zone and made him become an adult," she placed her spatula down, "Thank you, SweetTooth. You've been a real blessing to him and me."
Smiling I hugged her. She calls us in love in person…but why did she say friends on the phone?
Once we separated I had to ask her, "Ms. Mathews, do you truly believe Two-Bit and I are in love?"
She shrugged, "That's for you to decide."
"No, I mean, do you think we're dating?" I asked her.
She looked confused, "Yes…"
"Then," I felt rather mean doing this, "why did you call me his friend last night when you were on the phone?"
She sighed and turned off the stove, placing the eggs on three different plates.
She then turned to me, "People don't like same-sex couples, Sweet. I wanted to get you and my son a home of your own so you two can have a place to call your own and a place to fully establish a healthy relationship. If I told him my son had a boyfriend I wouldn't have gotten you two the place."
I nodded in understanding, "Thank you, Ms. Mathews."
"Don't mention it," she smiled, "The house is in Jersey, anyway."
I cocked an eyebrow, "What's wrong with Jersey?"
She began to laugh, "It's not here, and that's the problem."
She looked sincerely at me, "You need to move. I love having you two but you boys need to continue your lives. You need to move passed Tulsa. You aren't going to get anywhere here, especially with you and Keith's relationship. One piece of advice: Don't end the relationship 'cause people don't approve, understood?"
I nodded and she smiled, "Good," she looked at the clock, "Could you please get him up? He can't be late for work."
I sipped my juice and headed into the bedroom, placing my glass on the counter.
"Hon," I shook him lightly, "Two-Bit?" I got on top of him and smacked him playfully, "Keith."
He groaned and opened his eyes, "Sweet, what time is it?"
"Too late. You'll be late for work." I began to get off him, but soon he pulled me from behind and kissed me.
He looked into my eyes, "Good morning."
I kissed him, "Good morning."
I felt him smile on my lips as I wrapped my arms around him, his arms running up and down my back.
Once the kiss ended I sat up and so did he, "Your mom made breakfast."
"Bacon?" He pulled on his pants.
"With a sunny side." I smiled and tossed him his shirt.
He stood and I followed.
He walked into the dining room, "Food!"
"Keith, could you grab the forks, please?" Ms. Mathews placed out the plates as I got out two more glasses.
"Why do I have to do the forks?" Keith whined as he pulled out three forks.
"If you lived in your own place you could get Sweet to do it," she said, "or a maid if this new job holds up."
"It shall hold an entire nation!" Two-Bit said triumphantly as he placed the forks out.
I smiled and sat down at the table once Ms. Mathews and Two-Bit were ready.
"Must we thank God?" Two-Bit took his seat.
"You're gonna be late," she got herself some bacon, "God knows you care."
"He does?" I asked, Two-Bit smacking my shoulder.
Ms. Mathews snickered, "Oh, I got a call from Steve early this morning."
I almost choked on my egg, "Really?"
"Don't keep secrets," Two-Bit served himself some jelly, "Come on, what he say?"
Ms. Mathews purposely took a while to chew her toast, and then answered, "They're moving up the wedding date to late this year in December."
"Really?" I was surprised. They seemed so certain it wasn't going to be until the next year.
Two-Bit cocked an eyebrow and looked at me, "We still gotta host his bachelor party, right?"
"In due time, Two-Bit," I told him, "Blondes and dead Socs come later."
"There are no Socs in Alabama," Ms. Mathews, "You know that, right?"
"Ain't nothing in Alabama at all, mom." Two-Bit said, soon getting a flicker of water tossed at him from her.
"We'll make it there," I smiled as Two-Bit wiped the drops out his eyes, "won't we, Two-Bit?"
"Long as I'm not blinded by this water for life." Two-Bit continued to wipe the water away.
She looked at the time, "Keith, you gotta go."
"I'm taking the day off!" he said, "Case of temporary blindness."
"Oh, hush up!" she smiled, helping him up and handing him a piece of jellied toast, "Have a good day." She kissed his cheek.
He kissed her cheek, "If I weren't twenty-one I'd report you for child abuse."
"And I'd report you for underage drinking." She handed him his beer as he rolled his eyes.
"Bye, baby," I kissed his lips once she went back to her seat, "See you tonight."
He smiled and sipped his beer, "Yes, you shall."
Heading out the door I waved to him, soon realizing his car needed a push start.
By noon I had to head to the bookstore, not really in the mood to go.
"That'll be nine dollars, ma'am." I told a young girl.
She handed me a ten, "Keep the change."
I smiled, "Will do."
As she headed out I heard a male voice enter, "Hello, Sweet Tooth."
I looked up and almost dropped my money.
There were three.
I'm twenty-one-years-old. I can handle this.
I held my ground, "Hello."
They smirked and continued to walk around the bookstore.
One of them knocked over a shelf, "Oops!"
I came out from behind the counter, "You pick that up, you piece of shit."
The other two came over as he made a smug grin, "Make me."
I whipped out my switch and held it under his chin, "Do it."
The other two pulled out blades as well, making me outnumbered.
I sighed, putting the blade away and sticking it in my pocket. Ten minutes till break. Ten minutes till break…
For a whole ten minutes they continuously made my job harder and harder, until my break finally came up.
I stood up after cleaning the coffee they spilled on a Mark Twain book, "Take it outside. You, me, now."
Whipping out their switches I whipped out mine. I was tired of this. I didn't want to deal with these rich bastards anymore. I already had my stitched up arm, but I wasn't going to take this shit.
Walking outside I didn't even wait to get to a lot. I punched one of them across the face, the others punching me.
I held my ground. I got one in the jaw and the other in the sac as one got their knife on my arm, but it was only a scratch.
Taking my switch I got one lightly on the cheek, soon picking up a bottle on the floor and smashing his head with it.
He fell to the ground, one of the standing ones pinning me against the ground.
"Fine then, Grease," one grunted, "we'll just give you a haircut and we'll go."
I tried to kick, but they were too strong. He took his switch and held it up to my bang, cutting the hair away.
I screamed, and after three more cuts someone came by, scaring the three off.
I'm twenty-one, I thought to myself. Why can't I act like it?
Sitting up I saw my savior was another greaser.
"Thank you," I told him.
He got me to my feet, "Don't mention it. Ken Phelps."
I shook his hand, "SweetTooth Collins."
He stopped shaking, "You're…you're SweetTooth?"
I nodded, "Yeah…"
"Oh…" he pulled his hand away, "I…I gotta go-"
"Wait!" I called, but he had already run off.
What in hell? I asked. I didn't bother finding out. I picked up some of my hair's remains and walked back inside the store.
Arriving home, Two-Bit was already there, Ms. Mathews telling him something.
"Mom, I love you!" Two-Bit grabbed his mother and hugged her.
"What's going on?" I couldn't help but smile at the scene.
Ms. Mathews turned, "Sweet, I found you two a place!"
I sat down, "What? Where?"
"In happy Merryland!" Two-Bit said excitedly, "Same city as Darry and Pony! Isn't it great?"
I laughed happily, "It's wonderful."
Two-Bit walked over to the phone, "I'll be telling Pony to watch out for some newcomers."
I smiled and hugged Ms. Mathews, "Thank you so much."
She hugged back, "Don't worry about it."
We separated, "You got Steve and Evie a place, you've gotten me and Two-Bit a place…my God, you are a goddess."
She blushed, "You're all good kids. You all deserve good starts."
I hugged her once more as Two-Bit told Pony about "Socs moving into your neighborhood". I smacked his shoulder for that lie, but he went on anyway.
I stuck the hairs into a plastic bag I found in the kitchen. It was to remind me of my last fight; time to grow up.
After dinner I went to bed, removing my shirt and my pants like I always did. Two-Bit soon joined me and got comfortable in my arms.
" 'Night, baby." He said.
" 'Night." I responded.
For a while we lay there in silence, but then I remembered the note he left me before.
"Two-Bit?" I whispered. He made a sound of recognition, "What was wrong with Marcia?"
He sighed and began to answer, "She found something out about Cherry."
My fingers brushed against his sideburns, "What was it?" I didn't mean to be so nosy.
Two-Bit shrugged, "It was nothing."
My voice was stern, "Two-Bit."
He got out of my grasp so he could look my in the eyes. Even in the darkness they reflected well.
"I swore not to tell, 'kay?" he told me, "It was for my ears only."
"At least is she okay?" I had to know. Cherry was my friend.
He paused, "She's fine."
After a hesitant moment I came to the conclusion that I didn't believe him, but once he got back into my arms I closed my eyes and put my worries to the side.
We were to move in ten days. In ten days my life would take a completely different turn. In ten days there would be no more Socs.
Sounded like heaven to me.
The next day I called Aunt Fiona and told her the news, her age making it difficult for her to understand what I was trying to tell her.
At times I wonder why I even bother. I know she's my only family, but I have never really known her. She was never really there for me when I lived with her or even when she moved out. I was just a kid under eighteen who was her responsibility.
Days passed and soon more and more people became distant from me. Was this involving Cherry?
Whatever it was it was getting worse by the day.
Then I remembered what Ms. Mathews said about calling Two-Bit and me "friends".
Do they know about us?
Becoming worried I dared to go into Soc territory. I just needed some answers.
I told Marcia to meet me outside the theatre, which she did on time.
"Hey, Sweet." She smiled.
"Hi, Marcia." I said.
She looked concerned, "What's wrong?"
I sighed, "Two-Bit tell you we're moving?"
She smiled once again, "It's a great thing, Sweet. I'm gonna miss you and all, but it's all for the better," she became confused, "is…is that why you wanted to see me?"
I sighed and pulled out a piece of chocolate, chewing it nervously, "What else have you heard around here about me and/or Two-Bit?"
She seemed to hold her breath.
I took another bite, "Marcia, I deserve to know!"
Sighing she leaned up against the wall, which I did as well.
There was moment before she spoke, "People have seen that you and Two-Bit are living in the same house. That's why those guys gave you trouble the other day."
I angrily tossed the wrapper on the ground.
Marcia looked at me, "I didn't say a word, I swear! Unfortunately, people around here like putting two and twos together to get fours, and they figured out that you and Two-Bit living in the same house makes four," I put my face in my hands, "I'm really sorry, SweetTooth."
Exhaling heavily in my hands I removed them, "It's okay, Marcia. I'm an adult, I can deal with this."
She rubbed her hand on my back.
She then looked at her watch, "Sweet, I have to go, but I'll see you before you and Two-Bit move, okay?"
I nodded, "Okay."
She began to walk off, but I remembered Cherry, "Marcia?"
She turned, "Yes?"
I really wanted to know how she was, I wanted to make sure she was really "fine", but I couldn't do that to Two-Bit. I couldn't make it look like he told me anything.
I grinned, "You look good in that dress."
She looked at her outfit, "Oh, thank you, SweetTooth," she smiled and pulled out a candy, "You've earned it."
I caught it. She made my day, "Your candy corn? My god, Marcia, I love these!"
"Stay sweet and they'll be more of them." She told me, smiling and walking off.
I took out one and let it melt in my mouth. Damn, I love Marcia.
With the impulse to not go home I decided to make a call at a near by phone booth.
"Yo?" I heard a voice answer.
I smiled, "Hello, Jared."
"Whoa! It's the sweet tooth! Look out!" He joked.
"Is Dallas home?" I asked him.
He made an alarmed sound, "So, you only talk to Dally now, huh?"
"Jared, please just put him on, 'kay?"
I could practically hear him rolling his eyes, "Whatever."
He handed off the phone, "Hello?"
"Hey, Dallas." I said.
"Sweet?" he sounded tired, "Hey, man. What's up?"
"Two-Bit and me are moving to Maryland," I told him, "I just wanted to let you know."
"Nice, man," he laughed, "nice. How's Cherry?"
I scoffed, "Dally, she's in Tulsa and you're in New York. It ain't-"
"Hey, you never know, man," he said, "You never know."
I smiled, "Well, I just wanted to say 'hi'."
"Good to hear from you, man." He said.
"You too," I said, "See you Dally."
"Steve's bachelor party?" he asked, "The wedding's been moved to December. What you planning for it?"
"Girls and beer," I told him, "I think you'd be better at it, though."
"Want me to take it over?" He asked.
I almost gasped, "Would you? Could you?"
He snickered, "This is Dally you're talking to, Sweet. Of course I can."
I smiled, "Thanks, man."
"No problem." He said, and I could hear him lighting a smoke.
"All right, I gotta get home," I told him, "but I'll be seeing you."
"Cool," he exhaled, "See you, Sweet."
"Bye." I hung up the phone; rather relieved Dally had taken over.
Walking I still didn't want to go home. I guess what Marcia said affected me more than I thought.
I knew where to go.
Walking passed the candy shop I bought myself a pack of Twizzlers and continued walking to my main destination.
The streetlights came on as I passed the church, entering the graveyard.
Passing through the several graves I searched for two in particular.
I found one of them and knelt down, "Hey, Soda. How you doing?" I pulled out something I had been carrying around all day, "I had been saving this for you. I figured you'd want one," I placed a Pepsi on his grave, "Your brother's doing quite well in college. So are me and Two-Bit. We'll be moving to Maryland. We'll be near Pony and Darry! Isn't that great?"
I smiled and placed my hand on the gravestone, "I miss you, Sodapop," I held onto the grave, "I really do."
Taking a moment to really soak up the emotions I had been feeling I sighed, letting out all my tension.
I had one more person to find…
I walked over, and soon enough I found Johnny's grave…
But there was someone else there.
Someone I had seen once before.
I hid behind a near by tree. Mrs. Cade? Didn't she hate Johnny?
She was bawling.
Placing flowers on the grave she wiped her eyes. She actually looked a lot more organized than I had ever seen her, and then I noticed something…
No wedding ring?
She took a while to cry and then calmed down, wiping her eyes and kissing the grave goodbye.
Once she was fully out of sight I walked up to see how gorgeously arranged the flowers were.
I smiled and knelt down to level with the grave.
"Hey, Johnny," I placed my hand on the stone, "Two-Bit and I are gonna be moving up to Maryland where Pony and Darry live. And guess what: Steve's getting married. Yeah, he finally came around with Evie. This December. I promise to tell you all about it, all right?"
Smiling I decided to say more, "Your mother loves you, Johnny. I know it didn't seem like it…but she does. She really does. And so does Dallas. And so do I."
I hugged the stone, "I didn't know you, Johnny Cake," a tear came down my cheek, "but I sure miss you."
Separating and wiping my eyes I patted the grave, soon standing and making my way from the graveyard to my home.
I passed by Steve's old home, the DX, the Curtis', everything.
It felt good to see my hometown.
A kid was playing cards on the sidewalk, an older one coming over and kicking them over. The younger one cried, a girl coming over and telling the older one off. The older ran off, the girl helping the younger one rebuild his creation.
I'm going to miss it here.
Pulling out a Twizzler I opened the door to see Ms. Mathews asleep on the couch, apparently on top of a book.
I placed the blanket over as lightly as I could and turned the light off, walking into the bedroom to find Two-Bit asleep as well.
I pulled off my pants and kicked my shoes into a corner. Removing my shirt I kissed Two-Bit's cheek and got under the covers.
Tomorrow, everything changes. Tomorrow, my life takes an entirely new turn. Tomorrow, my life really begins. Tomorrow, my life takes a turn for the better…
…At least I hope so.