Norton Kelly is a classmate of John and Lorraine's. They sometimes drink with him in the cemetery, or hang out and make prank calls together, but they don't really like him. In chapter 9, Lorraine points out that Norton grew up playing with dolls and kids made fun of him for it. By age ten, he went "berserk." She explains further as follows:
"From then on he turned tough guy all the way. He was always picking fights and throwing stones and beating up everybody. In fact, he got so tough he used to go around calling the other guys sissies" (99).
Norton is also a thief. Based on Norton's previous criminal experiences, John and Lorraine don't want to involve Norton in their small con to get $10.00 out of Mr. Pignati. Before John and Lorraine go to visit Mr. Pignati as "charity collectors," John thinks about Norton and knows he must keep him out of the loop. John explains in chapter 5 the following:
"If [Norton] knew about it, he'd try to hustle in on the deal, and he'd never stop at ten dollars. I don't want anyone really to take advantage of the old man. . . not the way Norton would have" (31).
As John and Lorraine become closer friends and start hanging out at Mr. Pignati's place, Norton must feel rejected. He eventually follows the couple and confronts John about what they do at that house with an old man. He also asks if the old man has things he could lift off of him. John either ignores Norton's questions or down-plays what Mr. Pignati has in the house. For example, Mr. Pignati has three television sets, but John doesn't disclose that information to Norton. He doesn't want to entice Norton to burglarize the poor man. By this time, John cares for and wants to protect Mr. Pignati from any harm.