Writing inspired by S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders: ‘The Rumble’ by Heather Walker

It was beginning to get late; the wind and rain beated endlessly upon the library windows. The bookshelves trembled against the weather’s brandished fists and every thunderclap threatened to close in and destroy each and every supporting beam of calm and tranquility, bringing down each and every ounce of hope.

Deliberate and steady, I walked up to the hill. My heart beat in time with the tic of my watch, allowing dread and fear to plague my mind. Daniel was there, arms crossed, waiting, while and eager glint danced in the corner of his eye.

“Took ya long enough.” His voice was low and hoarse  

“Well I’m sorry, but heels don’t really comply with speed.”

He smiled. At least one of us still could. We stood in silence for a minute or two, until I became too tense to be still.

“Look. I know ya worried.”

“I’m not just worried, Dan! I’m scared.” A look of — almost — pity crossed his face. He just sighed.

“It’s just a skin fight, ‘Reels.”


“No one’s gonna get hurt!” he exclaimed.

“How do you know?” How do you know one of them Greasers won’t have a blade?”

“I gotta go, okay? The guys are waiting.”

I looked straight into his eyes, defeated. “Please don’t.”

“Stay put. I’ll be back for ya. We’ll talk then.” And with that, he made his way down the hill’s slope.

Down below, a fire was struck. Each deep amber spark spat and fractured into a vivid orange flame that cast a warm glow which faded up into the dark of night.

As the fire grew, sombre figures came into view, howling like the animals they were. Every face, every expression, became clear and familiar. Tyson Jenkins’ eyes projected a cool lustre of violence, his brow furrowed, and his jaw clenched in anticipation, causing his entire face to contort into an unreadable slate.

Reverberting, purring, the engines came into play, signifying the start of the known end. Daniel and his friends filed out into the open; the so-called Socs and our reputation, standing in a line, revealing our full glory. Blood rushed to my ears, drowning out every sound and distraction.

This was it.

With a frigid authority, Dan strode forward. He had a point to prove now. The beast of wind screamed in protest at the trespassers of foreign land. Saying nothing, he looked into each and every eye of the opposition, setting the silent challenge afoot. Tyson rose to his gaze, almost afraid to back away from his taunt. A frost of taciturnity spread across the ground, calming the sea before the storm.

Tentatively, the circled each other, unsure of what came next.

“It’s been awhile, hasn’t it Daniel?” Tyson growled.

“Five years,” Dan replied.

“I have to say Dan, your reputation does precede you,” he sing-songed.

“Well Tyson, you haven’t changed much for the better.”

“I’m not the one who wanted to.”

At that moment, Dan’s inner torment flared; he rushed at Tyson. Colliding with him at incredible speed, they were both knocked to the ground, in an attempt to grab each others necks. The ground became waves of fists and feet, all lashing out at one another. A sickening crack to the left signifying a broken back, and a similar crunch to the right, showing some similar issue to the world. Amongst the screaming, was a kick, a punch, a burn and grapple. Standing there helpless, I could only think of who’d we become, a monstrous race of the marginalized, and how we’d allow something as petty as social status evolve to murder and bloodshed.

During my contemplation, the fight must have finished; cries of victory protruded from the crooked smiles of the Greaser. My breath made a sound as clear as day, but as the smoked cleared, one image showed – Dan. He  lay there, pale and dying.

I tore down the hill screaming in teared hysterics. I reached him, and flung myself upon the ground next to him, only to notice the knife embedded in his side. I bawled in pain, anger and frustration, begging him not to leave. But I’m not God, and I couldn’t reverse what had been. So I sat there, waiting for the inevitable.      

Photo by Miriam Espacio from Pexels