That Was Then, This Is Now begins when the narrator, Bryon Douglas, and his foster brother, Mark, both teenagers, go to one of their favorite hangouts, Charlie’s Bar, a rough pool hall where they often try to hustle people for money. Later, they find their hippie friend, a kid with the nickname M&M, who tells them that his sister, Cathy, is home from private school. They hang out for a while, but M&M gets bored and leaves. Mark and Bryon follow, just in time to stop some gang members from beating up M&M. Mark, Bryon, and M&M start walking home, and Mark suggests they beat up somebody else. M&M yells at them for their hypocrisy, and Bryon reflects on what M&M has said.Chapter Two
The next day, Mark and Bryon go to the hospital to see Bryon’s mother, who has just had an operation and who says they should visit a beaten up kid across the hall. Bryon goes downstairs to the hospital’s snack bar, where he meets Cathy, M&M’s sister who is back in town, and asks her out. Bryon talks with the severely beaten-up boy, Mike Chambers, who tells Bryon that he got beaten up after he saved a young black woman from being harassed by his own gang members. Mike drove the woman home, and when he dropped her off, she told her friends to kill him. Mike tells Bryon that he does not hold it against the woman, and Bryon sees some merit in his point of view, although Mark does not.
Bryon looks for a job but does not have any luck, even with Charlie, who tells him that he needs to change his ways before anybody will hire him. Charlie lets Bryon borrow his car, however, and Bryon asks Cathy to the school dance. At the dance, Bryon and Cathy are the center of attention, since nobody recognizes her. Mark gets knocked unconscious with a bottle, after he tries to stop somebody from attacking Ponyboy Curtis, one of his friends. Bryon realizes that his ex-girlfriend, Angela Shepard, set up the attack on Curtis and vows to get revenge on Angela.