Chapter 27: Trying to Cope

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The gang was crowded around a small table in the back of Buck’s.  Soda was explaining his story.  I was sitting on his lap as he told it.  “So there we were, in the middle a damn mountain in Vietnam.  We had nothing, but we ran out of food, so we wandered around.  Well, just so happens that we find this cave and set up camp there.  We literally froze there for days.  Then we saw a dogfight and we followed the planes from where they came from.  Tracked down where they came from and found out that it was the enemy, so we navigated across and found the camp two months later.  It turns out that we were miles away from the base and behind enemy lines.  Our troop finally gets back to camp and all those guys there were shocked.  They kept asking, ‘how the hell you do it?’  General sent us home, but it wasn’t all bad because I did get to see war, but I’m just glad I get to see this lady,” he said bouncing me on his knee.  “And you guys.” Soda added quickly. 

Dally gave me a smirk.  I didn’t care; if I wanted to kiss my soldier I will and I did.

Sodapop’s POV

“I bet you already know this, but Colly’s real happy you’re back.” Darry said as he cooked breakfast.  I had offered to cook, but he rejected me.  If anything, my cooking skills got better in the past months.  

I smiled, I was happy to be back, but I still felt like something was missing.  “Yeah, I picked that up.  It’s too bad Steve isn’t back yet.”  I stuffed a plate of eggs in my mouth and poured ketchup all over them.  I’ve gotten so used to eating everything with ketchup because it was the only thing that gave food taste in the war, “Remind me to write to him.  He asked about Evie.”  

Darry sighed, “I don’t know how to tell you this or if anyone’s told you this.  Colly’s been really bad since you’ve been gone.  She’s been drinking more, smoking more, stealing more.  It’s gotten bad and we all thought she was gonna die of a broken heart.”  He paused after a while, “You should do something.”

I stared at the floor for a while.  I missed her a lot, but this seemed exaggerated.  It didn’t creep me out or anything, but it made me worry if there was something wrong with her.  “What, like she’s depressed?  Darry, you know what happens to people like that.”

“I know what happens.  It’s a theory; all I’m saying is check it out because even if you’re back doesn’t mean she stopped.”  He said. 

Colly’s POV

The sky was turning purple.  I strolled down the street in a rush trying not to get spotted by any Socs.  My hood from my sweatshirt was up and the brown ends of my hair stuck out.  I had my hands shoved in my sweatshirt pockets as I walked into a drug store not to far from our neighborhood.  The guy behind the counter gave me a shifty look as I walked over to the books.  I dragged my finger from spine to spine as my mind wandered.  

“Are you going to buy something or what?” the clerk asked from across the store.

I walked over to the counter empty handed.  “Pack of Camels.” I said looking down making sure he didn’t see my face.

“Fifty cents.” 

“I thought it was free.” I said putting my hand on a gun that was stashed in my jeans showing the clerk.  His eyes widen and went from the gun to my eyes.  “And I think you actually owe me money.” I put my hand out, “No funny business.” 

Without a word, he handed me twenty dollars worth of bills.  I took my cigarettes and money as I walked out hiding the gun again.  I started to run before the clerk did anything drastic and ran the lot.  When I got there, I felt like someone was chasing me, but there wasn’t anyone behind me.  I sat down on the dirt behind a beat up car and threw down the money and gun.  I dragged my hands across my face and dug my nails into my scalp trying to cope with my brain.  Everything was in overdrive; I couldn’t focus anymore. 

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