Norton is one of John and Lorraine's classmates who discovers that they have been spending a lot of time with Mr. Pignati. Since Norton has developed a talent for stealing things, John does not trust him. When Norton invites him to the cemetery for a beer in chapter 9, John mostly goes in an effort to keep him from finding out why they haven't been hanging out with him as much recently. Norton, however, proves that the reason he asked John to have a drink is to find out exactly what is "worth stealing" in the old man's house.
John does his best to give Norton vague answers. For example, Norton asks if the old man has any tools, TVs or radios, but John lies and tells him Mr. Pignati has nothing worth stealing. Norton then calls Lorraine a screech owl and John defends her by telling him not to call her that. The worst part happens when Norton suggests that if John doesn't tell him more information about Mr. Pignati, then he and Dennis will go visit him for themselves—which means he will just go rob the guy on his own. John plays off the threat as follows:
"I yawned and stretched my arms into the air. 'Well, I can see this conference is over. Thanks for the beer.' Then I threw my empty bottle way in the back of the tomb" (102).
John acts as if he isn't worried about Norton's threats and questions. By the end of the chapter, though, John shows that he does care about what happens to Mr. Pignati because he says that he would kill Norton if he ever did anything to the nice old man.