I held out my hand and asked the man manning his shop, “How much do you want for these two old bullets?”
“What about this here record, these old jars, and this moth-eaten photo?”
“Let me see.”
He took the large, mounted photo from underneath my arm. I liked it because it gave me the spooks. The photo was grimy, and smelled bad, but the Civil War battalion lined up in the desert with their bayonets and hats softened my heart. I thought of the men. They looked dirty and exhausted, like they needed young girls to write to them.
“A dollar fifty for the lot.”
He roughly shoved the photo back under the crook of my little arm.
At his feet was an old apple crate. The label was miraculously still on, but peeling, and filled with yellowed paperbacks. At the top I saw my my favorite book. I bent down and added it to the pile in my arms.
“How much do you want for this here smelly book with the cover falling off?”
” Nothing. Take it.”
“Sold. Let’s settle up.”
The Outsiders was published in 1969. Still a high-schooler herself, S.E Hinton was fifteen when she began writing her tale of troubled teen gangs set in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I read the Outsiders during a long and hot September weekend about eight years ago. I was fourteen.
I devoured the book in days, amazed a girl just a year older than I could write with such acidic strength and authentic style. Her characters, with their colorful nicknames and human failures felt as real as my own flesh.
Part teen soap-opera and part film-noir who dun-it, the Outsiders still occupies a very special place in my heart. It was the first time I read a book and knew I wanted to write too.
There are still four weekends left in September. Most all of them will be hot I think, and most all of them will be long. Spend a weekend with the Outsiders this month. You’ll dig it.