“Soda! Put me down!” I laughed and yelled as he suddenly picked me up and ran with me over his shoulder.
“No!” He laughed as we crossed the park heading to the lot.
“Why?” I giggled as the guys and girls were gaining on us.
“I don’t wanna!” He said.
“You’re a brat!” I laughed harder.
Without warning he dropped me on my ass.
“Ooof.” I said and stood up.
He was trying to hold back his laughter. I glared as he shifted still holding his laughter in.
The guys came up and caught their breath.
“You guys are way too hyper.” Steve panted.
I smiled, so did Soda.
“How kind of you to notice.” We said in a british-ish accent. We paused for a moment, side glancing at each other, then burst out laughing.
“You’re crazy.” Two-bit said throwing me over his shoulder and carrying me across the street to the lot where we were gonna play football.
“Coming from you?” I said, “I take it as a compliment,”
He put me down on my feet gently and patted my head.
“Kat’s on my team!” He yelled.
“No way!” They guys yelled.
“I want, Kat on my team!” Christine yelled at her brother.
“Krissy, you can’t play today.” I told her gently.
“Why?” She pouted.
” ‘Cause we play rough, and we don’t want a little girl in the way.” Steve snapped.
“Shut it, Randle.” I hissed at him.
“We don’t want you to get hurt playing against one of us. We’re only trying to look out for you.” I explained.
She crossed her arms, “You’re playing.”
I smiled, “I always play. Chris, you gotta understand somethin’ here. I’m one of the guys, I fight in rumbles, work at a gas station, run around with hoods wearing jeans, I cures, smoke, drink, carry a knife in my back pocket, hit on girls, and get in legal trouble. I’m just like Steve and Soda and Two-bit and Dally and Tim Shepard and anyone else who’s hood-y enough to be compared to Steve, Dally, and your brother.”
“I wanna play.” She begged.
“You’re also in a skirt.” I pointed out.
“You, Ma, and Two-bit won’t let me wear jeans.” She said defeated.
“With good reason.” I told her, “I don’t want my little sister bein’ like me. And I know Evie and Two-bit don’t either.”
“Please.” She begged.
I sighed, “Not today.” Her face dropped, “But you can referee.”
Her face lit up and she wrapped her arms tightly around my waist.
“Thank you.” She squealed.
I patted her head, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now go to the girls.” I told her.
She smiled and took of hugging Evie tight around the waist.
“As usual, Kat and Darry are captains.” Dally said.
I shrugged and stood next to him.
“Call it.” Darry said flipping a coin.
“Tails.” I told him.
“It’s heads.” He said.
“Soda.” He said.
“Dally! Get your ass over here!” I yelled playfully.
He walked over and messed up my hair best he could with it tied tight in a bun.
“We’re shirts off.” Soda said.
“Clearly.” I rolled my eyes.
He winked at me and pulled his shirt off.
“Okay.” Christine said coming up with the ball, “Because Darry picked his team first, Kat’s team get’s the ball first.”
We lined up, Steve had the ball and was gonna throw it to me.
“Green 9.” He said, “Green 9. Hut.”
I pulled away from the line and he tossed it to me. I ran, Ponyboy was coming up on my heels. I tossed it to Dally when he passed ahead of me. Pony tackled me down. I pushed his off and continued to run and Darry was closing in on him. Soda and Two-bit double tackled me as I tried to get to Dally. Luckily Steve shot a head of us and got the ball from him, scoring a touch down for us.
“Yes!” I cheered jumping up and running over to him.
We high fived along with Dally and Johnny.
“Your ball.” I said throwing it to Darry.
“Line up.” He called slightly frustrated.
We did and this time Soda had the ball, I ran to tackle him. He knew that not even in a million years he could out run me he tossed the ball to Pony, hard. It went way over his head, over a couple of trees to the park.
I sighed and got off of him.
“Where you goin’, Kat?” Pony asked.
I looked back at them, “To get the ball.” I said and continued on.
I went to the park, it was mostly empty. There were a few kids, and then there was a young woman and a crying toddler.
I saw our football next to them in the sand box.
Stupid Soda. I cursed in my head.
“Are you alright?” I asked jogging up to her and the kid.
“Yeah,” She said shyly, “A football came out of nowhere and crushed her sand castle.”
I smiled sheepishly, “Sorry ’bout that.” I said, “Me and my friends were playin’ football ‘cross the street. One threw the ball harder than intended. I’m real sorry ’bout it.”
She shook her head, “Don’t worry,” She smiled, “Lorry has always been easy to scare.”
I nodded, “Really am sorry ’bout it ma’am.” I said.
She shook her head, “Don’t worry about it, please. She’s feeling better.”
I looked at the little girl, brown hair like the woman, but instead of brown eyes her’s were hazel. The woman was beautiful, curly brown hair, dark brown eyes, slightly tanned skin. She had freckles. So did Lorry, but not as defined.
“Hey, Kat! What’s the hold up?!” Soda asked coming up to me along with the guys and girls.
“Apologising for your mistake.” I said.
Soda stopped and saw the young woman, the toddler, and the football in the crushed sand castle. He rushed over.
“I’m so sorry.” He said, “I really didn’t mean it, I really am sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it.” The woman told him, “Things like this happen all the time, your friend was just apologising for you.”
“I really am sorry, ma’am.” He said, “I never meant to hurt no one, just throw the ball to my little brother.”
She smiled and shook her head, “It’s alright. Why don’t you get back to your game, no harm here.”
“Thank you ma’am.” Me and Soda said at the same time.
“I have to say though.” She said, “I’ve never seen a girl going around with so many boys in a pair of jeans.”
I laughed slightly, “Well, I’m not exactly the average girl.”
She laughed, “Non of us are.”
“I’m TomKat, by the way.” I told her, “Friends call me, Kat.”
“Alice.” She said quietly, “And this is Lorry.”
The little girl smiled.
“Original.” She commented. Pony and Soda went red.
“Nickname?” She asked, Two-bit nodded.
“Another nickname?” Tootsie nodded.
“How you know the difference?” I asked her.
“Ponyboy and Sodapop Curtis.” She said, “I knew one worked down at the DX, and the murder that happened last year.”
We nodded, we never brought that back up. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Johnny go white as a sheet.
“And who are you?” Alice asked the only one who wasn’t introduced.
We all headed over to the park after a few minutes of Kat not coming back. We saw her at the sand box talking with a woman and her child. We walked over, and my heart stopped.
She was beautiful. Dark brown, curly hair, framing an angel’s face, breath taking hazel eyes. She seemed to be curvy under her long skirt and slightly loose blouse. She was beautiful. And her voice sounded like pure honey. No, it was far sweeter.
“And who might this be?” She asked bringing me out of my thoughts.
“I’m Darrel.” I told her, “Call me Darry.”
She nodded, “It’s nice meeting you all.” She said.
“You come here often?” I heard Kat ask. It wasn’t flirtasusly like with every other girl, but curiously.
She nodded, “Four or five times a week.” She said, “For, Lorry.”
“Why not every day?” Steve asked her.
She looked away, “I gotta work a lot to provide for us.” She admitted, “I’m raisin’ her alone, it can get expensive.”
I nodded, knowing exactly what she was talking about.
“So your parents left you and your little sister alone then?” Soda asked sadly.
Alice shook her head, “Lorry’s my daughter.” She said, “I had a boyfriend a few years ago. He knocked me up and left.”
“I hope he’s condemned to hell.” Kat said, “Pardon my language.”
Alice smiled, “Not a day goes by I don’t wish for the same thing.”
I had a funny feeling in my stomach that Darry really liked Alice.
“I say you should bring her here everyday.” I told her.
“I can’t.” Alice said, “I bring her to work with me everyday, sometimes I don’t get off until seven. Then it’s far too late to be here.”
I rolled my eyes, “Ever heard of a baby sitter?” I asked.
She shook her head, “Can’t afford it.”
I smiled, “I’ll do it for free.” I offered.
“Kat!” Everyone behind me said.
Alice looked at me, “Why?”
I shrugged, “I like kids, and you seem like too nice a person to have to worry all the time. Call it trying to make up for my sins, but when I see someone who needs help, I wanna.”
She smiled, “I barely know you.”
I smiled and jumped up, “I can fix that.” I extended my hand to her.
She took it and I pulled her up along with Lorry.
“You’re crazy.” Steve told me.
I shrugged, “Did you just realize that?” I asked.
He smiled and picked up the ball.
We spent the rest of the day getting to know Alice and Lorry, and letting them get to know us.
And my hunch was right, Darry does have a thing for Alice.