The story starts of while they are playing their first baseball game of theseason against the Crazy Horse Electrics. They decide to put beer in theopposition team’s water bottles as a prank, so that they could win. After thatWillie decides to go fishing with his dad. They have deep conversations, andthey start talking about why Willie’s mom does not fish like she used too. Thenthey get into talking about Missy, Willie’s little sister who died of SIDS(Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
After that the book cuts into another baseballgame, they are playing against the Crazy Horse Electrics. Sal, a big guy on theCrazy Horse, and Johnny get into a verbal argument, and then Johnny sayssomething personal about him and he wound up and decked Johnny one. They breakit up and continue the game. When Willie was about to pitch he looses hisbalance and Sal hits a good pitch. Then out of pure luck and talent, Williestretches himself out and robs Sal of a sure triple.
Willie becomes a minorlegend. On their way home from school Jenny and Willie hook up. Then on theweekend, Jenny, Johnny, Willie and his family decide to go to the lake. Willieand Jenny set the table for a picnic when Johnny is out skiing. Willies momcomplains about him never being safe enough. Next it is Willie’s turn towater-ski.
As Willie was doing a 360? turn, he caught the tips of his skisunder the water and he crashed. Willies dad was in shock, Jenny had to giveWillie mouth to mouth, and save his life. The left the boat, got into thevehicle, and drove to the hospital. Willie ends up with a speech impediment, andproblems walking. He ends up doing crazy things, like acid, and drinking. Hetalks to a counselor whom he really likes.
Willie does not want to go into aSpecial Ed class that the school is referring him to. He feels hopeless, andeven jealous of his girlfriend for her athletics. He tries to play racquetball,but his dad gets frustrated with him. That night he hears his parents arguingover him. He hears his dad say that he thinks it would have been easier ifWillie had died in the accident.
From there he suspects Jenny and Petey ofgetting together, and finds out that they are. Willie freaks out on Petey whenhe trips of Willies cane, and then Petey unintentionally turns all of theattention over to Willie. Willie decides that night that he is going to runaway. He goes to the bank, and tells the teller that he is going to buy a VCR,then he goes to the bus depot. He starts off on the bus with no regret, and noguilt.
He arrives in Oakland, and has to take a bus transfer from there to getto the bus that will take him to San Francisco. On his way to the bus he meets agang called the Jo Boys. They try to take his money, but when the bus came hejumped right on it to get away. They get on the bus too. He talks to the busdriver, and the bus driver says that he will try to stall the gang, but that’sabout all he can do.
So he tries to run away as fast as he can with hishandicap, and they catch up, beat him up, and take all four hundred dollars fromWillie. Willie passes out. When he wakes up, there is the bus driver. He helpshim up, then takes him to a restaurant where he agrees to let Willie stay thenight, and ONLY the night. Willie ends up staying for good, under the agreementthat he will clean up, and stay out of Lacey’s (The bus driver) way. Williefinds out when Lacey says Human Relations Management, that he is a pimp.
Thenext day Lacey and Willie go to look at the school. Willie goes in while Lacystays in the car. It is a private school, and the owner, Andr?, offers freetuition as long as Willie will help keep it clean. Andr? explains that theschool is for people who have any handicaps, physical disabilities, or thingsthat cause them to have learning problems. So Willie accepts and is getting atour, when a tall gangly blond kid, named Jack comes up and starts repeatingover and over again, “This school is a chicken-*censored* rip-off”.
Finally Andr? calms him down, and they finish the tour. After a few days,Willie begins to actually try to be normal again. Though he is slow, Jack askedhim to play a game of basketball. They went to an abandoned court, and started agame. This was when Jack started to call himself the “Telephone Man”.
People start to watch the game, and Willie starts to get nervous. Finally thegame ends, and Willie goes into the office with the Phys Ed teacher, Lisa. Sheasks him if he wants some help with getting control back. He says that hedoesn’t have any money, but he finds out she is doing it for a university paper. So they start with learning how to find his center. Willie stays in Lacey’sapartment and practices dancing to some horrid music.
He is learning how toplace one foot in front of the other with applying the same amount of pressureon both sides. Suddenly Lacey comes home with a girl from Willie’s school,Angel. Lacey is extremely drunk, and has the girl around the waste. Williefigured it out.
She was a whore. Willie goes to bad, and then wakes up toscreaming. He runs into Lacey’s room to find him beating Angel. He takes hiscane, and pounds it across Lacey until Lacey is flat out cold.
Then Angle runsand calls the ambulance, and gets mad at Willie. She tells Willie that whenLacey wakes up he is going to kill Willie. So the next day Willie goes to thehospital. Andr? had offered for Willie to stay in the basement of the school ifhe needed too a little while ago. Willie went in there, and he saw Lacey. Atfirst Lacey was pissed off, but when Willie said that he would move, Lacey askedhim to stay.
Later on Willie was practicing basketball again. He was doing it alot. Andr? saw him and said that he was starting to look like a player. Willierebounds the compliment to Lisa, because she was the one who was helping him somuch. Andr? asked him why he doesn’t hang around with the kids.
Willie repliedthat he doesn’t do drugs. Andr? gets a little angry and says that that is notthe only way to get into the school. They play a little more, and Willie saysthat he will try to make friends. Later that night, after Willie finishedpolishing Lacey’s car, Willie gets a phone call. It is Lacey’s ex-wife, and shetold him to tell Lacey that his son is still rotting away. Will decides to relaythe message just to “your ex wife called.
” Willie had never pried intoLacey’s personal life, but when Lacey came home, he read the message. ThenWillie and Lacey get into his car, and drive down to an old facility. When theylook in they see Lacey’s son, staring into blind air, damaged permanently. Laceyhad abused him when he was younger. Lacey told Willie that Then Willie asks ifthat was the reason that Lacey took him in was to make up for what happened tohis son. The next day at school, Lisa told Willie to ask Lacey for a hundred andforty dollars, for a special course.
She said to tell Lacey that all thestudents were taking it, and Willie was getting a deal. So Lacey gave him themoney, and the next morning Lisa picked up Willie, and they went to a gym towork out, then Willie got introduced to Sammy, who was Lisa’s”boyfriend”. He taught Willie how to protect himself, and to use his”set-backs” as an advantage. Later on, Willie saw Angel, and he askedher if she was still working for Lacey. She said that she still was. He told herthat he had talked to Lacey, and he said he would promise to tell her that shecould go.
He had told her, but she didn’t want to give it up. It was the onlyway that she could get money, and she had been raped when she was younger. During the weekends, Willie and a bunch of people would go to the school and fixit up. Then one day, Willie went into the school, and found spray painted allover Jo Boys. He cleaned it up, and left. Then the next morning he found itagain, and left it for Andr? to find.
Hawk got really angry about this, and wasgoing to beat the Jo Boys up. Then Willie went to the washroom to find Jack inthere, sick to his stomach from eating Bisquick and strawberry-scented shampoo. He told him to wait there while he grabbed him some clothes from the lost andfound, and then sent him to run home and get changed. Willie went back to class,and then when he heard, “fight”.
Hawk ran up and found Jack on thefloor and the lead Jo Boy, Kam, against the wall. So Hawk beat him up. Then Hawkconvinced Willie into letting them come into the school, since Willie had thekeys, and wait for the Jo Boys to come, and they would catch them in the act,and beat them up. So that night Willie went, and they never showed up. The JoBoys came and set the school on fire.
Willie beat up Kam in the dark with hiscane, and then went back and got him before he burned in the fire. Kam got sentto a Juvenile Delinquent Center. Willie was a hero. Then the book cuts tograduation. Willie thanks all the people that helped him along the way, and thenext day he heads home. When he gets there, his parents are divorced, his dad isa drunk.
His mom has remarried to a guy named Don. His dad doesn’t want anythingto do with him. Jenny is still angry at him because everyone thought that he wasdead, and she felt guilty. He works things out with his family, and then goes tosee his old house.
When he gets there he sees a tiny baby, in his room. Hesticks his finger out for her to grab and she does. He begins to cry. The mothersays that her name is Melinda.
He says, “Thank-you, she’s beautiful”,turns around, leaves and head back to southern Oakland.