That Was Then, This is Now

That Was Then, This is Now Summary and Analysis of Chapter 9


Mark takes Bryon to the hospital and he gets patched up. On the way back, Mark starts crying—he just cannot understand why Bryon would not want to seek revenge for the Shepards; he feels terrible that Bryon was beat up for something that Mark did (cutting off Angela’s hair). Bryon’s mother is shocked by his appearance, as is Cathy, who comes to visit him. She also cries over him. Bryon tells her he has a lead on where M&M is. After a couple of days, Bryon feels better, and is able to go back to work/take the care. He visits Charlie’s grave and thanks the dead man.
A couple of days after that, Bryon takes Cathy out and they go to look for M&M. Bryon’s mother is also starting to get suspicious of Mark’s constant income. Bryon and Cathy reach the hippie house, and are told that M&M is tripping very badly on LSD upstairs. Rattled, they find him huddling in a corner, incoherent, scared, and crying, still hallucinating. They take him to a hospital, and meet Mr. Carlson there.


Bryon’s situation with the Shepards is very similar to Mike’s situation from earlier in the story, which is ironic and yet almost expected after both how much Bryon has thought about it, and also how important justice is in this story. The question of whether there is ever truly justice—something America at large is thinking about in the 1960s—is one which plagues Mark and Bryon, and drives this rift between them which even causes Mark to cry (pg. 131). When Cathy, too, cries over him, Bryon notes that “You never do see a girl who looks good while she’s crying except in the movies, but to me she looked good” (pg. 134). For Bryon—for people—beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is also only after his literal physical breakdown that Bryon is able to say to Cathy “I love you” and mean it (pg. 133).
Upon arriving at the hippie house, Cathy makes the comment that “I still can hardly believe that baby is living in a place like this” (pg. 136), which leads Bryon to contemplate that “I guess big sisters always think of little brothers as babies, no matter how old they are” (pg. 136). Perception is important, and the movement of time is something that changes many things, and yet sometimes, the wash of time can still leave perception unaffected. This is something that Bryon and Mark are struggling about.
The hallucinating M&M makes constant references to colors, and “colors [going] in and out” (pg. 140), something almost foreshadowed by the way he looked at the M&M candies in the beginning of the story. M&M’s sheer terror at his tripping might bring to mind again Mark comforting Bryon when Bryon says that M&M is “just a kid.” Clearly, part of M&M’s terrible reactions to the LSD is that his young body cannot take its full effects. The other hippies call him “Baby Freak” because he is so much younger than the others.