The chapter begins with students Kelly Curtis and R.B. "Arby" Benton watching a taped lecture being given by their teacher, Richard Levine, who is out of the country on business. The lecture is about the extinction of the dinosaurs, and what may have caused it; Kelly is bored with the lecture, already knowing what Levine is about to say. After the lecture has finished, their substitute teacher Mrs. Menzies gives the class their homework and wishes them well as school is letting out for Spring Break. Arby and Kelly are good friends, if not a bit mismatched; Kelly wears her sister's old clothing and shoes and comes from a single-parent family and her mother is always working while Arby's parents are rich and is always dressed nicely and has pocket money. On their way out of school, Kelly is taunted by another girl and her friends for being smart (specifically, they call her a "brainer" and make up nonsensical rhymes about her). Arby tells her to ignore them.
Shortly after Levine began teaching, he made Kelly and Arby his assistants and initially told him that they'd just be carrying equipment, xeroxing assignments and collecting the class's homework. Instead he sent them on various errands, and insisted that they avoid a particular bearded man; when asked why Levine just brushed them off and said it had to do with his speeding ticket. As they leave the school, Kelly sees the man (Ed James) parked outside the school; Kelly motions to Arby and simply walk by his car and sit on a bench waiting for a bus to pick them up.