That Was Then, This Is Now


Chapter 1


Chapter 1 Summary

          The novel opens at Charlie’s Bar, a pool hall in a rough part of town where Bryon and his best friend Mark often hustle people at pool. The boys, who are sixteen and fifteen years old, respectively, try to get Charlie to give them bottles of Coke on credit. Charlie gruffly reminds the two teenagers that they already owe him three dollars, and says he’ll have to beat it out of them if he doesn’t get his money soon. Mark, with characteristic charm, promises Charlie to have the money by tomorrow. Charlie gives them the Cokes, and Bryon reflects that Mark “could talk anyone into anything.” Mark has lived with Bryon since he was nine years old, when Bryon’s mother took him in after Mark’s parents shot each other to death in a drunken fight. Bryon tells us that he was friends with Mark even before that, and that the two of them have always been good friends and have never even had an argument.

          Charlie mentions to the boys that their friend M&M was in the bar looking for them earlier. After they finish their Cokes, Bryon and Mark find M&M in the drugstore reading Newsweek. Bryon reflects that this is odd reading material for a thirteen-year-old, but that M&M is generally odd, so it isn’t surprising. M&M is a sweet, serious boy with long hair and a peace sign medallion that he wears around his neck. His nickname comes from the fact that he is always eating M&M candies. He comes from a family with “a million brothers and sisters” and is always babysitting the younger ones, which he doesn’t mind. M&M mentions that his older sister Cathy has just come home from boarding school because she ran out of money to pay for it.

Mark suggests that they all go to the bowling alley and, since it is a long walk, he proposes hot-wiring a car. Bryon vetoes this proposal, reminding him that he’s already on...

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