That Was Then, This Is Now


Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Summary

The next day, Bryon and Mark hitch a ride in a hippie van to the hospital to visit Bryon’s mother, who is recovering from an expensive, unspecified surgery. Bryon relates that they had to sell their car and their television to pay for the surgery, and that he’s been trying to find a job but has had no luck. Mark sometimes manages to come up with money, and Bryon knows that he steals things, but neither Bryon nor his mother can afford to question where the money comes from. Bryon relates that Mark has been stealing things since he was six years old, and doesn’t seem to think of it as “wrong.” Whereas Bryon rarely steals because it’s against the law, Mark thinks of it as a “game” and never gets caught simply because that’s “one of the rules.”

Bryon’s mom is happy to see them, but she’s more worried about a boy in the room across the hall than she is about herself. Of his mother, Bryon tells us, “If there was a lame dog within three miles, she’d find it.” She says the boy is badly injured and that he has no visitors, and she asks Bryon and Mark to give him some company. Bryon is resistant, but Mark agrees. While Mark goes to the stranger’s room, Bryon goes down to the snack bar for a hamburger. There, he is waited on by a pretty girl his own age whom he flirts with and eventually recognizes as M&M’s sister, Cathy. She seems interested in him, as well, and encourages him to talk to her again sometime. Bryon decides not to press for a date just yet because his teenage wisdom dictates that “You should never be too eager with chicks. It gives them ideas.”

Bryon goes to the injured boy’s hospital room in search of Mark. The boy, wrapped in bandages and with both arms in slings, informs him that Mark went to the drugstore to get him some comics. Bryon sits down to wait, and the boy introduces himself as Mike and offers to tell Bryon the story of how he ended up in the hospital. Bryon is surprised...

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