The novel opens five or six years after the main action, as Rusty-James runs into his old friend Steve, whom he hasn't seen in all that time. They are on the beach, far from the original action. Rusty-James has been "bumming around," not working since getting out of the reformatory after serving five years, and Steve is on vacation from college, where he's studying to become a high school teacher. Steve invites Rusty-James to dinner, an invitation he has no intention of accepting. Steve is too much of a reminder of some bad times.