Chapter 9: Hospital Blues

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Ponyboy and Two-Bit strolled into the Dingo talking about the rumble tonight with the Socs and told me that they were going to see Johnny and Dally in the hospital.  Apparently, Johnny will be okay.  His back is broken and it’ll take months to heal, so he’ll be in a cast until then.  Dally will be fine and hopefully be better by the rumble.  They left and I only had three hours until I can see Sodapop.  I feel like things are starting to get heated between us.  We’re becoming more and more crazy about each other.  I don’t want to be someone’s second choice—its almost like I’m his void he’s trying to fill after Sandy left him.  I really like him, but I’m praying that he’s not using me. 

One o’clock rolled around and I headed for the DX.  You could smell the gasoline from a mile away.  When I arrived, Steve was in the garage working on the underbelly of a car and Soda was in the store behind the register.  I walked into the garage to say hi to Steve and then entered the store.

“Hey Soda, ready to go?” I asked nodding to the door.

“Go where?”

“Uhm, to the hospital.” I answered skeptically.

“Oh yeah!  Sorry, I’ve been really distracted today.” He apologized. 

“No sweat.  Let’s go, I only got thirty minutes.”

We drove a green beat-up truck he was working on to the hospital.  We were silent the whole time until he spoke up trying to break the awkward silence.  “So, you’re trying to set up Darry and Sally together?”

“Yeah, I mean they have the same personality ya know?  They both work long and hard days, Sally’s got a four year old daughter and has more to worry about just like Darry, and both like to boss people around.” I said.

“Darry may come off as a incentive jerk, but its not his fault, he didn’t ask for this to happen,” he paused, “nobody did.  When Ponyboy went missing, he didn’t sleep for a week and still went to work everyday.  He cares a lot and not a lot of people give him credit.”

“I didn’t mean it like that—“ I tried to spit out.

“I know,” Sodapop interrupted mid-sentence, “I just wanted someone to know that because… I can’t exactly tell that to anyone else or… feel comfortable telling anyone something like that.”  At that point we pulled into the parking lot and he scooted closer to me. “Ya know Colly, I’ve always respected Darry.  Pony just doesn’t understand everything he’s given up for us.  I try to tell him that, but he won’t listen.  I’m like the middleman in all the arguments and I can’t pick sides.  I love both of them and it ain’t fair.”

I scooted closer, “It isn’t, nothings fair anymore and it’s sad to feel like all the happiness in the world is gone.”  He looked at me funny, “After Johnny killed the Soc and him and Ponyboy fled and they almost died, it’s hard to believe anything good can come.  It’s not like it’s going to change anything”

He pursed his lips.  Sodapop’s head came in towards my neck and he made a maneuver to my cheek.  I felt his soft warm lips press up against my flushing cheek.  He pulled away after a five second long kiss. “You’re real sweet ya know that?” he told me locking eye contact giving me a smirk. 

We walked into the reception office.  “What can I help you with?” an annoyed woman in her mid-forties with red dyed hair and blue studded pointy glasses that chained around her neck.

“Johnny Cade and Dallas Winston, what room number?”  Soda asked.

“206 and 249” she said as she went back to her magazine. 

We walked down the hall to room 206 where we found Johnny lying on his stomach.  His burns stretched from his neck to his hips.  His back was bandaged in white gauze. 

“Hey Johnnycake. How’s it going?” I asked.

“Colly? Hey man; doc says I can get out of here in a few weeks. “ He gasped.

“That’s great! We’ll miss you in the rumble tonight.”

“Yeah, you always do great in them.” Soda added.

“I ain’t no use, fighting.  It’s not like it’s going to change anything.” Johnny replied with pain in his voice.

I look at Soda with that I told you so look. The nurse came in and told us to leave, so we left even though we didn’t want to and could’ve been difficult.  If Dally were there, he’d tell the nurse a few words of his choice.  We told Johnny that we would see him soon and left for Dallas’s room. 

As we walked into the room, Dally was arguing with his nurse.

“If I don’t want to wear that stupid piece of paper, I won’t!” Dally said getting dangerous. 

“You will as long as you are in this hospital.” The nurse said coolly.

“Now you get the idea.” He said trying to embarrass the nurse.  She stormed out rushing by us in a pissed mood.  “Hey guys, how’s the freedom?”

“It’s good, don’t be so negative about this.  You get fed and it’s not the cooler.” Sodapop answered. 

“Man, you got that right! How’s Johnny?” 

“He’s okay, I hate seeing him all beat up.  He said his doc told him he’ll be out soon.” I said.

“Rumble’s tonight.” Dal said in a steamed countenance. 

“Thought you would be out in time, right?”  Soda questioned.

“I’ll figure something out, but I’m sure as hell ain’t gonna miss it.  It’s my business the socs get what’s coming to them.” He said referring to Johnny.

“Dal we’ll see you tonight probably, I gotta get back to work or Sally’ll freak.” I said tugging on Soda’s sleeve.

We left the hospital and Soda dropped me off at the Dingo ten minutes later.  Before I got out, he grabbed my shoulder and looked me deeply into my eyes.  “Thanks.” That all he said.

As I finished up my shift, I kept think about Sodapop and how he has all these emotions and feeling and thoughts scattered everywhere that he can’t get out.  He really is my best friend, but why do I feel things becoming so difficult now?  It killed me to see him so unhappy now; all I wanted to do was kiss him, have his lips pressed against mine, our bodies intertwined, just to be with him.  

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