Pony had lost weight during his stay at the church while on the run. He was burned in the fire and he was suffering from shock. Just before the rumble, he complained of a "terrific headache" and had been "running a fever"; then he was beaten and kicked in the head during the greasers' battle with the Socs. Afterward, Johnny awoke after sleeping for more than two days. Suffering from "Exhaustion, shock, minor concussion...," he is not thinking clearly and is forced to stay in bed for a week. He doesn't remember visiting Johnny in the hospital, and at first he denies that Johnny is dead. Later, he refuses to admit that Johnny had knifed Bob, instead claiming that he had killed Bob himself. Even at his court appearance, be believes Randy and the other Socs were lying about Johnny killing Bob. It is a simple case of living in denial, mixed with the concussion, an unnecessary guilty conscience, and his own refusal to admit that Johnny--now a dead hero--could be blamed for killing Bob. But he finally admitted to himself the truth.
I knew Johnny was dead. I had known it all the time, even while I was sick and pretending he wasn't... I had just thought that maybe if I played like Johnny wasn't dead it wouldn't hurt so much. (Chapter 12)