Continue celebrating 50 years of The Outsiders by reading S. E. Hinton's profound and wry compilation of fourteen short stories. Terry and Mike are cousins whose families are almost seamlessly intertwined. Raised as close as brothers and living happy childhoods, neither one thinks of what can go wrong. But the unexpected deaths of both their fathers catapult their lives in two very different directions. Terry finds trouble with the law, while Mike lives his life racked with guilt and sadness. S. E. Hinton gives readers a gritty view of how one incident, one tragedy, affects two boys very differently, and changes their lives forever.
|Publisher:||Penguin Young Readers Group|
|Product dimensions:||4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
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The Missed Trip
"Not till you're twelve. That's the rule," Uncle TJ said.
"That's a dumb rule," Terry said. "That's two more years."
Mike didn't say anything, knowing it was useless, but Terry never took a "no" he didn't have to.
"At least you guys will get to go together." Mike's dad loaded the last of the camping gear and guns into the car. "Think how poor TJ felt, getting left behind for four years, seeing me and Grandpa and Great-uncle Jack go off without him. He even stowed away in the trunk one year. When Grandpa found him, we were a hundred miles out, and he turned right around and brought him home."
"And he blistered my butt besides," Uncle TJ said. He rubbed Terry's head. "Two more years, pal."
"Well, you two ready to go live off the land?" Mom and her sister, Aunt Jelly, came out of the house.
When the men left, the moms would joke for days about them "living off the land."
"They stop at Safeway, the meat market, and the liquor store before they leave city limits," they laughed.
The boys knew better. Still, there were probably secrets to this trip their dads made every year, sometimes for a long weekend, sometimes for a week. They never missed it. The men had gone deer hunting in October every year since they were twelve years old. Only missed the years Mike's dad was off to war.
The boys knew they were supposed to continue this, and someday bring their kids, too. When those kids were twelve.
The trip was supposed to mean something. Mark something. It wasn't just the deer hunting, or the first driving lessons Terry was so crazy for ...
Mike's dad kneeled down and said, "Don't be too anxious for this, Michael. It's the beginning of the end of childhood. That's exciting, but a little sad."
Mike was ashamed to think he didn't want to grow up too fast, not like Terry who was always grabbing at things out of reach.
This childhood seemed perfect to him: the two families mixed together, two brothers who had married two sisters, his cousin who was more his twin.
It was like having two dads, two men who didn't just give them balls and bats but played along with them, who preferred the boys to fishing buddies on long trips to the lake, who taught them to water ski and handle guns and helped them mow the yards.
But each boy loved his own dad best. Mike couldn't understand how you could talk about anything serious with Uncle TJ, who had a joke for anything ...
Terry couldn't see the pleasure Mike found in silent hours with his father, sitting in a boat or in a duck blind.
"Me and Terry can sometimes feel what the other one is thinking," Mike told his dad once.
His dad said, "Yes. We could see that even when you were babies."
Uncle TJ would have started his long story about the moms wanting twins but not wanting to be pregnant with them, so they divided the set ... It was a funny story and Mike and Terry still rolled with laughter even after they no longer believed it.
But still, Mike liked his dad's answer best.
"Come on in, boys, you're going to freeze," the moms said after their hugs good-bye.
But Mike and Terry stayed to watch the car drive off.
"I can't wait," Terry said.
"It'll be better if we're ready."
In his search to find something to blame for what happened after, Mike even hoped Uncle TJ had been driving — he was a careless driver, everyone knew that. But no, there was nothing to blame except God or bad weather, and that was so useless Mike gave it up after a few years.
But in later years, when he tried to think of reasons for other things, Mike often thought if he and Terry had had this trip, things would have turned out different. This trip that was to start the end of childhood.
Maybe they wouldn't have wrecked and wasted all the gifts they had been given, like kids who couldn't understand what some things cost.
The moms had done the best they could — no blame there — Mike's step-father's resentment probably no more damaging than Terry's mom's indulgence.
But by the time the boys were twenty-five, good memories grew tainted with a sad relief that the dads never saw the sorry mess made of their hopes and cares and dreams ...
In the darkest part of the darkest nights ...
When Mike woke sweat-drenched, still half-drunk and more than half hungover ...
And Terry lay listening to the snores of his cellmate, concentrating on the snores of his cellmate so he wouldn't hear the other sounds ...
When even across two hundred miles they could feel each other's mind, trying to find something to lay blame to:
Bad company, little money, less thought
Luck and fate and choice
Reckless, careless, stupid
Remorse, regret — the only feelings left sometimes ...
They mostly blamed themselves, and only rarely blamed each other.
They never took that easy out, the one you heard a lot these days.
They'd had a happy childhood. It was more than most people got.CHAPTER 2
Full Moon Birthday
"Just think," Terry said. "It's Friday the thirteenth, a full moon, and your twenty-first birthday. Anything could happen, man, just about anything."
"I know what's going to happen if you don't behave," Mike said.
Terry had been playing eye-tag with one of the four young ladies seated behind them. There were four men sitting there, too.
"Now just who is buying you your first legal drink here?"
"I haven't seen you fork over the money."
"What are you looking at, kid?" said a voice from behind them. Big guy in a hunting cap.
Mike choked on his drink when Terry answered: "Just admiring your lovely granddaughter, sir."
Surely Terry's famous luck had run out with that one ...
But the guy just said, "She's had enough of your admiration. And she's not my granddaughter."
Terry shrugged apologetically and turned back to the bar.
"Full moon, anything's likely to happen," he repeated. "And you got to admit this was a good idea."
He set his drink down and wandered off in the direction of the john.
Mike agreed with him there. Coming to Colorado to fish was a good idea. Different scenery, different weather. They had caught their limit and then some.
The ones you ate on the spot didn't count, Terry said.
Mike was going to start a new job in a week, on a street crew. It was nice to get a little vacation in first.
Terry had been gone for a while, Mike noticed, when he heard a chair scrape behind him, saw hunting-cap head for the john.
But instead of going in the door marked "Bucks," he kicked open the one marked "Does."
And there was the girl, sitting on the sink, her legs wrapped around Terry's waist, her arms wrapped around Terry's neck, and it was a pretty good bet she had her tongue wrapped around Terry's tongue.
Mike slapped down a bill to pay for the drinks and charged out the door, knowing Terry was so quick he'd probably beat him to the parking lot — and he almost did.
The four guys chasing them cut them off from the truck, so they ran across the road and down into the woods.
The roar of the river got louder, and Terry yelled, "Jump in and swim for it!"
Hearing the crashing through the woods behind them, Mike thought this was as good a plan as any, and they both hit the icy water at the same time.
The river was fast, but not furious; it was likely they'd freeze before drowning. They floated and swam downstream as long as they could before crawling on shore.
"I told you, full moon," Terry said through chattering teeth as they walked down the moonlit dirt road, totally lost. "It makes things happen."
Mike, hugging himself, shivering, was too miserable to punch him.
A truck drove by, slowed.
"You boys fall in the river?" The woman was about thirty, a little weather-beaten, but pretty.
"Yes ma'am. Fishing."
"Well, you'll freeze out here at night, wet like that. You look harmless enough. Hop in." She had a low, husky voice. A kind voice. "Name's Chris."
Back at her place, she gave them some of her ex-husband's sweats to wear when they got out of the shower, while she ran their clothes through the washer and dryer. He must have been a tall guy. They fit fine.
Terry walked around, looking at the old photos on the wall. Mike sat in front of the fire. It was a nice cabin. He was glad she didn't have a TV. It was the kind of a place where you didn't want a TV.
"Great place you got here, ma'am," Terry said, when Chris came back with some beers. She was smaller than she'd seemed in the truck.
"Don't call me that, it makes me feel old. You want a tour?"
Mike stayed where he was, watching the fire. Twenty-one ...
They were gone a long time. When they came back, Terry was wearing a damn goofy grin; Chris was wearing a robe.
Mike felt a jolt like electricity when she put her hand on his hair.
"I hear it's your birthday," she said softly ...
The truck was still there the next morning. But their ice chest, the tackle were gone.
"Dammit!" Mike said. "That was my favorite rod."
"Could have been the tires," Terry said cheerfully. "You got to admit it turned out nice."
Almost killed, almost drowned, almost froze, but by the time Terry was through, Mike's twenty-first birthday would sound like the best one on record.
Mike glanced at the sky, the faint moon still in sight. My birthday moon ... Oh God, just once, let me see Terry get worried.
They stopped in Trinidad for lunch, tacos and margaritas.
"You two twins?" the waitress asked, puzzled, when she checked their IDs. They'd been asked that before — the same last name, the strong family resemblance ...
"Yep. Twins. But born two months apart."
"Cousins." Mike cut that story short. He was still pissed.
Terry watched another customer get up, leave.
"Weird-looking dude," he remarked.
"Or dudette." The waitress set down their drinks.
"Trinidad's the sex-change capital of the world. We got the best nut-picking doctor in the States. You see a lot of strange-looking strangers around here. They do it in stages. But some of them turn out right pretty."
Terry shuddered violently.
"Hey." Mike was struck by a thought. "You don't think Chris? ..."
"Dammit," Terry said desperately. "Don't even think it!"
Mike grinned to himself. He didn't think it. He wasn't the hound Terry was, but he knew a woman when he tripped over one in the dark.
"It was kind of strange, the way she had men's clothes laying around?"
"Shut up," Terry said.
Mike sipped his margarita.
"Her voice ..."
"Shut up." Terry's face was sweating. He looked a little green.
It was was nice to see him worried.
"You're gonna keep this up all the way back to Oklahoma," Terry accused.
"Yep." Mike ordered another round. To celebrate.CHAPTER 3
Mike's feet touched bottom, and he staggered onto shore.
"I won," he gasped out, falling onto the towel.
His cousin Terry dropped down beside him, panting.
"This time," Terry admitted.
Terry won the short races, Mike usually won the long. They were like that at everything they did. Terry was quick but couldn't pay attention for long; Mike was stubborn.
"Wonder what the suckers back in school are doing." Terry pawed through his clothes, found the cigarettes.
Mike knew what at least a few of them were doing. History test. One he'd studied for, too.
Mike had made up his mind. He wasn't going to drop out, flunk. It would give the step-bastard too much satisfaction, the way he kept predicting something like that.
But Terry had made a lot of sense, saying today would be better for the lake. No people, no crowds. Not that he minded; Mike was the shy one.
Terry knew the way to get Mike to skip school. He could always read his mind. Cousins, but it must be something like having a twin, Mike thought. They were closer than most brothers.
"You want to head back now?" Terry asked.
If they left for home now, no one would know where they'd been — though it wouldn't matter much to Terry.
Aunt Jelly would believe anything he told her, or he'd sweet-talk her out of being mad in five minutes. She'd say he was grounded, but that wouldn't last long ...
Mike would be facing the step-bastard, who would yell a lot and then take off his belt, his mom would just watch.
"No," Mike said. "The fish will be biting after sundown. We don't want to waste bait."
"You can be a real mule, Mike," Terry said.
Mike lit his own cigarette, lay back to look at the sky.
It was a real nice day for the lake.
"We'll get a boat," Terry said.
"What we need is a truck." Mike took a long hit off the joint and passed it back.
"Travis Fish & Ski."
Mike hadn't thought about details, but since fishing and skiing were two of his three favorite things, that brand of boat sounded fine.
Well, there's number three, Mike thought.
"I'll tell you what, you get the truck, I'll get the boat. We'll have enough money for both in a couple of months."
Mike stared out at the lake. Boat sounded good. He felt like he was on one now, just drifting along, nice breeze ...
"What is your problem?" Terry asked.
"Who says I have a problem?"
"You just usually do." Terry dug around in the cooler, got out another couple of beers.
Mike didn't say anything. Even if he was stone-cold sober, Terry could talk rings around him. No use trying to argue now.
"We're not hurting anybody, Mike."
"Yes. I know."
"It's not that dangerous. We know the guys."
"Yes," Mike said again, and popped open his beer.
"We'll never get our hands on money like this."
Mike tried to hang onto his nice, fuzzy high, ignore the uneasiness in his gut.
"You know what your problem is?"
Mike said, "I worry too much."
Sometimes he thought the first words out of Terry's mouth must have been, "Mike, you worry too much."
"Well, yeah," Terry said. "That and the constant farting." Mike choked on his laugh, his beer, and threw what was left at his cousin.
But Terry was already in the lake.
"We used to bring you kids here when you were little," Aunt Jelly said.
"I remember," Mike said.
There were still some little kids determined to stay in the water; it was likely to be the last warm weekend of the year. Already the water was cold.
"Just a little while longer?" they'd whine when their moms made them get out. Their teeth would be chattering, their lips blue, and all they could think of was getting back in.
Mike could remember whining like that. He picked up his cigarettes from the picnic table, tapped another one out.
"He says it's not as bad as you think. His cellmate is fine. They have a window."
Sometimes Mike thought Aunt Jelly must have had a stroke or something, since Terry ... left.
She seemed so stunned. Strange. She was not a stupid woman.
Mike knew damn well there was no window.
"It's not forever."
Mike looked across the lake. It was years. Sometimes it seemed like forever to him, and he was not in there.
He looked at his truck. He was going to sell it, trade it. He'd never have a chance to get another, new, but the sight of it made his stomach turn.
The boat was gone. They took it.
The truck was in Mike's name.
"It's not your fault," Aunt Jelly said suddenly, fiercely. She put her hand on his arm. "Terry knew what he was doing. He knew the risks."
"Yes," Mike said. After all, it was the truth.
"And it's not your fault you're not in there with him."
"Just a little while longer?" the little kids whined.
They could not tell it was cold.
Mike walked along the shoreline. He should have brought his fishing tackle, he thought.
But he hadn't planned where he'd go today, just got in his old truck and drove.
He took the stick Amos brought back, and threw it as hard as he could. Then sat down on a log and stared at the water.
Forever wasn't over yet. It still had years to go.
Amos came back with the stick, dropped it. Put his head on Mike's knee and whined. He was a real quiet dog. It wasn't often he whined.
Mike stood up, zipped his jacket. It was too cold to stay. It was getting dark; he needed to go to work.
Something was his fault. He was sure about that.CHAPTER 4
"You didn't need to get all dressed up for this," the step-father said.
Mike looked at him but said nothing. He had come from work; he would go back to work from here. You didn't get all dressed up to work on a street crew.
His cousin Terry winked at him. Terry was dressed fine, but he was between jobs as usual and had nothing better to do.
Aunt Julie smiled at Mike. He had come to the reading of the will because she asked him to. She wouldn't care if he didn't dress up.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Some of Tim's Stories"
Copyright © 2007 S.E. Hinton.
Excerpted by permission of Diversion Publishing Corp..
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