In chapter one, we are first introduced to Chad; the eleventh grade boy who more than anything wants to be like the man he admires the most. Chad wants to be the bozo: The clown who sits inside the cage above the dunk tank. To the Bozo, everybody's fair game. Chad describes the Bozo's prey (pretty much every poor soul to cross his path) as a mark, or Vic...(Short for victim)
In chapter two, Chad introduces us to his old tenth grade History teacher, Ms. Hargrove. All she ever said to him was... "You'll never get anywhere in this world, Chad Turner." Things had been fine... that is, until Chad noticed that after every third or fourth sentence, she would say... "that's the truth" (She hated him because on the very first day, he noticed her little [speech impediment,] and would, in his mind, try to guess when the words would pop up next. He was pretty good at it, but it would often distract him from the task at hand. In short, she asked him a question one day; he couldn't answer it, and instead answered 1492.) In this chapter, we are also introduced to Chad's best friend, Jason. Jason is the envy of all guys; tall, handsome, athletic, and all the girls loved him. Chad found Jason working out by himself, practicing for the big volley ball tournment, and at the same time, being admired by his fan club. (No invitation needed)
When Chad goes home, his mom tells him about the new tenant who'll be moving in. They owned the whole house, but Mom would usually rent out the top half to make some extra money. Chad doesn't like it when his Mom rents out the house. The last tenant had moved out a month ago, and he was hoping to keep it that way at least until the end of summer. He was even more distraught once he found out that the incoming tenant hadn't paid the deposit yet. Chad wasn't aloud to work. There were pleanty of opprounities, but his mother simply wouldn't allow it. She grew up in a very poor family, and had been working since she was thirteen. She had Chad when she was only seventeen. She was thirty-two, and could probably pass for fourty.
Mom works as a waitress, at the Leaping Dolphin Restaurant (a huge diner.) She was taking classes at night to learn how to be a legal secretary, so she was only able to work the breakfast and lunch shifts. As mentioned before, Chad was not aloud to have a job. He was however aloud to run errands for Doc: the owner of a video arcade, and others around the Board walk. Mom didn't call them errands, she called it doing favors. He was on occasion, given a small amount of money for doing these odd jobs. Jason had always talked about moving to California, and Chad would always play along, talking about what a fun and interesting life they would have, though he himself wasn't sure what he wanted to do.
In chapter five, Chad talks about how some dangerous people can haunt the Borad walk. One of which we're introduced to: Anthony Glover. Anthony had the sort of face that mothers loved, and the sort of smile that girls LOVED. He also had the sort of heart you'd find in a snake, or a stone. Anthony had just come out of the Royal Cabana gift shop, with more than his recite could bargin for. Anthony hadn't just heard of the five finger discount, he'd invented it! Anthony was once Chad's friend, when he was a freshman, but that ship had long since sailed. Anthony had told Chad to walk along side him, when suddenly the cashier from Royal Cabana came running out yelling stop, thives. Shortly afterwards, Anthony ran as fast as he could, leaving Chad to take the blame. The shop keeper caught up with Chad, and accused him of thievery. Later, two police officers, officer Manetti, and officer Costas showed up. They started to ask people around the Board walk if they had seen anything, but no one would speak up. Chad claimed that the man on the bench had seen everything, but when asked, the man just shrugged. As Chad left the scene of the crime, he noticed that the man from the bench seemed to be following him. His fears were ignored for a second or two, but after Chad was almost all the way to his house, the man was still behind him. Almost home, Chad decidecd to cross over to the street opposite the house, and that's when he discovered that the man who had been so "helpful" was their new tenant...
Needless to say, Chad was extremely hostile towards the new tenant. "(What kind of jerk doesn't stick up for someone who's in trouble?)" Moving on... Chad and Jason had left the Board Walk. They would walk all the way to the far end of the Board Walk without spending a dime. Then, on the way back, they would do anything that cost money. (It helped stretch out cash) While walking along the Board Walk, Chad tells Jason about the little incident that happend earlier. After which, Jason points out... Who cares? All merchandise sold in the Royal Cabana were Knock-offs. Everything... Sure, the purses said Gucci, and the clothes had designer labels on them, but everything was made in China. Shortly after they left the Royal Cabana. Chad dragged Jason over to see the Bozo, and unfortunately, the REAL Bozo was absent. In his place stood a man who could be out witted by a three-year-old, who had no business being in that tank. Just before they leave, Jason does the most immature thing. He screams out to the Barker: The man who take the money and exchanges them for the balls; that his friend Chad wants a job. Chad drags him away not too shortly after.
In this chapter, Chad first reveals his lust, his longing, for the cute girl from Montana who worked the fair last year. She worked at the cat-a-pult: A game where you had to put a small stuffed cat in a little scoop at the top of a miniture catapult, pulled the shaft back, and let go. The cat flew through the air toward a group of metal buckets sitting on a rotating wooden disk. If you missed, but were close enough to hit the side of a bucket, someone working the game would usually shout, "Your cat kicked the bucket." Jason, being his usual helpful self, asked the girls working the cat-a-pult, in a particularly embarrassing fashion, if either of them had seen her. Sadly, no... But Chad longed for his sweet green-eyed, red haired beauty. He longed to see his sweet Gwen O' Sullivan.
Chad and Jason had a rule. Mention school during summer, and you owed a dollar. Mention a teacher, and you owed two bucks. This chapter is pretty much Chad and Jason hanging out around the Board walk. They later met up with their friends, Mike and Corey. Mike had to go back to work, but Corey was free. Later, Anthony showed up, and offered Chad and Jason a little "ride." He pulled a plastic bag partway out of his pants pocket, revealing a handful of white pills. Shortly after, Jason whispered into Anthony's ear... "If [you] ever come near any of us with that junk, I'll shove it so far up your A$$ you'll be able to taste it." Later, Chad and Jason started walking the Board walk, when suddenly, the good Bozo screams out at Jason. Hey Blondie... Normally, Jason doesn't pay ANY attention to people, but in this case, he whipped out two dollars as fast as he could... And it ONLY took him two dollars. Chad is in shock, but Jason explains that he wasn't falling for the Bozo's act; he just figured that the guy worked hard for his money, and decided to give him a break.
In this chapter, Chad makes a dreadful discovery. He learns that the man he admired so much, The Bozo, is the man from the bench who wouldn’t help him, also their new tenant. Chad was infuriated. He couldn’t even bring himself to go home until about midnight. Until then, he stayed with Jason. Once again, Chad was infuriated. He could hear the Bozo pacing up and down while he lay trying to sleep. Chad wondered if maybe the Bozo spent the night coming up with mean things to say to people. Mom later tells us that the Bozo’s real name is Mr. Vale. Mr. Malcolm Vale. The Bozo or Mr. Vale (Malcolm) has told Mom that he is a college professor. Strangely enough, he was telling the truth. He would be teaching Theater arts at Baldwin Community college in the fall. Bozo was his summer job. By the end of the chapter, Jason has agreed to give Malcolm a ride to the U store to pick up his things. Chad still resents the Bozo, and claims that he wishes that he just kept walking the very first time he’d ever seen the Bozo perform.
In chapter ten, Chad and Jason head over to the Board walk. Jason, being the athlete he is, plays volley ball with his college friend, Franco. Chad shortly after excuses himself. He still can’t bear the thought of having to help out that outrageous Bozo. Before he does anything, he is drawn to the dunk tank by the bad Bozo. Not the bad Bozo previously mentioned, but one not as bad. Still pretty bad though. But he didn’t go to play; no, he went to ask the Barker for a job. The barker said yes, and told him to be there by 7:00. Chad worried that his Mom wouldn’t approve, so he decided not to tell her at the moment. Later, Chad met up with Jason to help Malcolm. He wasn’t happy about it, but he knew that he couldn’t let his best friend down. When they returned from the U store, it became apparent that Jason wasn’t feeling well. It became even more apparent when he collapsed.
Jason got back up, and claimed that he probably just slipped, but Malcolm and Chad weren’t so convinced. They got him to sit down, and drink some orange juice. As Malcolm and Jason returned home, still concerned about Jason, Malcolm got a chance to discuss what happened with the Police the other day. Chad was still hostile, and vowed to stay out of his business, but he was about to get involved in Malcolm’s business in a BIG way!
In this chapter, Chad is on his way to the Board Walk. He had a couple of hours to kill before it was time to start working. He passed by mike while he was working, luring the poor, defenseless marks into his trap. Later, he showed up to start working.
In this chapter, Chad learns that he is not getting a chance at his dream job, but in fact, he is the boy hired to pick up the balls. Needless to say, he was upset, but he took the job, and wasn’t paid too badly. Of course, on occasion though, he would have a very close encounter with death. He had to be extremely careful, and make sure not to get hit by other throwers while he picked up the balls. Chad had a fear that someone would recognize him, and sadly, he was right. Anthony passed by, accompanied by two of his friends, and with Anthony’s quick wit’s, he cleverly deduced the nick name, Ballzo. Fortunately for Chad, Anthony was probably too stoned to even remember his own name.
After Chad’s first day of work, he met up with Jason. Jason seemed to be alright, despite the earlier incident. Chad told Jason all about his new job, and how he did not want to keep it. Jason however talked him into it with tales of the beautiful California, and the not so desirable tales of how Chad’s own father had been a quitter. Chad wanted to quit, but he didn’t want to be anything like his father.
In this chapter, Chad and Jason are just hanging out with their friends for a lazy day at the beach. That is, until they had to go back to work. Chad was still cross with Mr. Vale A.K.A. Malcolm A.K.A. the Bozo, but when he saw Stinger, a kid who had just graduated, and was sort of a school hero. At that very moment, Chad hatched a plan. Chad planned to have Stinger and his friends stop by the dunk tank, and play a few rounds. Stinger and his friends could probably hit every single target, with their eyes closed.
Chad made sure to show up early. He didn’t want to miss Stinger. Tonight, the filth, pain, and danger meant nothing. Whatever Chad had to deal with was worth it; especially when Stinger showed up. (Along with about ten other people) Chad was in phase two of his master plan. He manipulated Malcolm (Bozo) into trying to get a certain vic. This was no ordinary vic though. This was Stinger… +10. Chad’s plan had worked perfectly. Bozo had done his act in order to get Stinger’s attention, and believe you me, he got it… Little did Bozo know that Stinger led the Pine Devils baseball team to an undefeated season with his 85 MPH fastball. Bozo spent more time in the water then on the ledge. By nine o’ clock, it was over. Not a single miss by Stinger; and almost the same from his friends.
Basically, this chapter is a follow-up of the previous chapter. Chad and Jason go to Salvatore’s for some pizza, and talk about whether or not Malcolm is going to kill Chad. Chad claims that it was his job, and with or without his help, you never know if Stinger might have just come along. As they leave, they pass the Dunk tank. Bob the barker hasn’t locked it up yet, so Chad decides to go in, just for a second. Shortly after, the two same officers that had stopped him before caught him and Jason now. They asked a few simple questions, and let them go. When Chad finally came home, he found Malcolm rise up from the bottom stair step. He looked angry, and this time… It didn’t seem like he was acting.
Chad wasn’t completely sure, but after his argument with Malcolm, after Malcolm said “Stay away from me… And from the job,” Chad was certain that he was fired. He hadn’t gone back to the tank yet to talk with the boss, Bob the Barker. He was too busy watching Jason play volley ball, warming up for the tournament. Shortly after he was done, Chad started noticing some odd behavior, similar to the day they were helping Malcolm move. Jason told Chad that he was fine, but Chad was dead to the world the instant he saw what looked like the unmistakable flash of his sweet Gwen’s red hair.
Chad was ecstatic to see his beloved Gwen, but was interrupted shortly after he said two words to her… by Jason. As it turned out, Jason was not fine. He started to walk a top a bench, (Chad believed to prove to him that he was fine) but fell shortly after. Not but a minute or two later, Officers dumb and dumber (Manetti and Costas) arrested the both of them. When they arrived at the station; Jason delusional and Chad completely dumbstruck, Jason started to move very violently, and broke free from officer Costas, but before anyone could react, he went limp and collapsed. Jason was sent to the hospital, and Chad was bombarded with questions such as… What he and Jason were on? And how much of it did they take? They later threw Chad in a cell to wait for his mother, but make no mistake; he was not alone.
Chad has been thrown into a cell, with two cell mates. One is referred to as sleeping beauty: an angry, big, and passed out man. The other is a very old man, in for bank robbery named Saul. In this chapter, Chad talks with Saul for a few minutes, each of them discussing how the other ended up there. Shortly after the discussion began, it ended. Saul was asked to exit the cell. Then, shortly after that, Chad was released, and Officer Manetti told him something that hurt worse than anything.
Daddy dearest… Malcolm; the man who sat at the bench, and let Chad take all the heat had helped him. Malcolm had come to the rescue, and claimed that he was Chad’s father. Apparently, a patrol car had come to the house. Mom was at her night classes and Malcolm was the only one home. Him being the great actor (Julliard graduate) that he is, he assumed the role of angry father. Chad was extremely hostile toward Malcolm. He in no way intended to have to owe Malcolm something. He wanted to go see Jason. To go see if Gwen was okay, and get to her before she started to dream up all sorts of crazy ideas.
Chad is desperately trying to find out how Jason is, but sadly when he called the hospital, all they could tell him was that Jason had been moved out of intensive care, and into a room. (Room 387) After receiving the depressing news, Jason went to the Board Walk to try and find Gwen, but it was pouring down rain, so all of the shops and games were all closed up. Chad was left there with his thoughts. He finally got to go inside the tank, but it meant nothing to him. He was distraught that he left his best friend on a bench to go talk to some girl, when he should have been helping him out. And surely enough, all Chad wants is to die, but he can’t even get God in heaven to listen to him. No matter how tightly he grasped the metal bars of the tank during the thunderstorm. To him, it seemed that no one was listening.
Chad got his mother to drive him to the hospital that morning. Jason was not doing too well, and all the while, Chad had to deal with Jason’s parent’s accusing the two of them of drugs. Thankfully, Jason’s blood test results showed absolutely no indication of that. Chad left, and returned later that day. This time, Jason was at least able to say hi. While Chad is sitting next to Jason, he eavesdrops into his parent’s conversation. Jason father is a roof worker, and due to the current rain, has been put well behind. Unexpectedly, Chad offers his services.
Jason’s father was all for the idea of having Chad help, but his mother was under the impression that Chad had helped far enough. Jason’s father had no choice. There was no chance of him getting anyone else, and he had to fix the roofs; Plus, all of Chad and Jason’s friends helped; Mike, Corey, and Ellie. After a hard day of fixing someone else’s roof, Chad passed out cold. When he finally awoke, he headed towards the hospital, finding Jason and his mother. Jason’s mother had to go run some errands, leaving Chad and Jason alone. Jason was still feeling pretty weak and the doctors still weren’t entirely sure what was wrong with him.
In chapter twenty-five, Jason finally finds out what’s wrong with his friend. He learns that Jason’s problem is with his immune system. Fact of the matter is, is that he doesn’t have a weakened immune system; Oh no, he has an over-active immune system, meaning that Jason’s body was fighting against itself, attacking healthy cells. SO basically, the doctor had the what. He knew exactly what was wrong with Jason, but unfortunately, he didn’t know why. Later, Chad remembered that he had wanted to talk to Gwen, and explain what had happened the other day. He swung by the Cat-a-pult, and found her there working.
Well… Chad finally got a chance to talk with Gwen. He tells her why he was so out of control, and about poor Jason. She says she understands, and all is forgiven. Gwen tells him that she can get someone to cover for her, so Chad could come around five. Afterwards, Chad heads for the hospital, where he learns that his best friend knows that he doesn’t want to go to California, and his best friend’s mother tells him that he doesn’t need to visit so often. Basically, she tells him never to come back again, and that he is a bad influence on Jason, and how she could never understand how someone as smart as her son could ever be friends with a delinquent such as himself. Later, Chad meets up with Gwen, and is completely prepared to ask her out, but he then discovers something very interesting. He learns that Anthony has asked out Gwen, and he is lost in a state of total dumbfound ness. HE IS CRUSHED!!!
Chad was speechless. He lay on the couch as the months passed. One day, Malcolm came down, and told him that a position had opened up at the dunk tank. Chad could finally be a bozo, but he wasn’t interested in Malcolm’s charity. After rolling back over on the couch, trying to ignore Malcolm, Malcolm flipped the couch to its side. Chad was extremely irritated, and started to argue with Malcolm. Soon after, Malcolm and Chad got into a fight. Fists were flying, people were being slapped, and objects in the house were being demolished. Malcolm later reveals to us, after being infuriated by Chad’s little pity party, that he had a wife, and a child, and that they’re both dead.
Malcolm had given Chad some old comedy tapes and books to look at. If Chad was going to be ready to be a Bozo in just three weeks, he would have to work hard at it. Chad, after quite a while, had decided to go visit Jason. He was expecting Jason to be furious with him, but as he entered his room, Jason seemed worse than before, and probably didn’t even notice that Chad hadn’t visited in such a long time. Chad put one of the videos Malcolm had given him into the VCR, and Jason was laughing. Jason was coughing, and then, none other than his mother walks in. She instantly blames Chad, and demands he leave immediately. He left for the beach to go hang out with Ellie, when suddenly he realized that Jason had said the longest sentence he’d said since the incident at the Board walk… “Come back and visit me tomorrow, Chad. Okay?”
Chad and Malcolm sit on the porch for most of chapter twenty-nine. Chad claims that he’s ready now to start being a Bozo. Malcolm is skeptical, but decides to test Chad’s theory by saying insults about random people walking by. Chad keeps his voice down so he doesn’t end up in the hospital. Malcolm proves his point, as Chad is unable to shoot one good insult out at anybody. As Chad becomes infuriated, he storms off into the house. Malcolm follows him and explains that he has just started, and that no one is good at something at the beginning. He needed to learn, so Malcolm told Chad that he would speak with Bob the barker, and explain that Chad wanted his job back. Chad dreaded the thought of having to be the ball boy again, but had no other choice. He had to study with Malcolm up close and personal.
Chad went back to the hospital along with a few other movies and books. He and Jason watched all of them, and Chad made sure to keep the remote close to him, in case Jason broke into another coughing fit. Chad had been going to the hospital for a few days now, and kept a careful eye on the clock so he could make sure Jason was cough free when his mother returned, but today, he had lost track of time. Jason’s mother was furious. She started to scream at Chad, telling him to leave, and that he was trying to kill Jason. Chad was furious. All he was trying to do was help Jason, while all others abandoned hope on his so called incurable disease. Chad was ready to give up, and just go back to his couch, but then, he pictured his mom saying; you’re just like your father. Chad decided that he wouldn’t give up, and that he’d go back to the hospital, and visit Jason every single day. When he arrived, making sure that Jason’s mother was long gone, he noticed something so unbelievably wicked, that it could only be a deed done by the Devil, or Jason’s mother. The VCR was gone!!!!
In spite of Jason’s mother’s attempt to make sure Jason wouldn’t be laughing and coughing anymore, Chad discovered that he didn’t need a VCR. He could make Jason laugh all by himself. He used everything he’d been learning from Malcolm (Bozo), and from all of the old movies and books. Jason was even starting to look better. He no longer coughed after laughing for too long, and he could talk with a bit more ease.
In this chapter, Malcolm and Doc take Chad to a carnival. Not at the Board Walk, but a place totally away from walking distance. Malcolm wanted him to go so he could see Jordy; the Bozo to end all Bozo’s. Jordy was no doubt the funniest Bozo ever to take the job. Later, after Doc took them home, Chad started talking with Malcolm about Jason, and told him how he thought that maybe the laughter had helped. Malcolm then gave him a movie and a book on the subject, and told Chad that he wasn’t the first person to make that connection. Later, Chad went to go visit Jason. Chad gave him the book, after first reading it himself. Chad knew that the laughter was somehow helping Jason. Chad later left the hospital, and went to the Board walk. He passes the cat-a-pult, and saw Gwen. Anthony was nowhere to be seen, so he decided he would go talk to her.
As Chad tried to find the words, he was sadly all choked up. Gwen was so close, yet so far away. She was still going out with Anthony, and was in fact going to a party with him that very night. Chad wanted to warn her, wanted to tell her not to go to the party, but he just couldn’t. Afterwards, he went to work. When work was over, he and Malcolm took off, and then they both really opened up. Malcolm told Chad more about his wife and son. He explained how they died, and how wrecked he was afterwards. When they arrived home, they found three police cars racing up the curb.
As it turns out, when Malcolm and Chad were talking, Chad told Malcolm everything. Immediately afterwards, Malcolm told Chad he needed to use the pay phone. (This was while they were walking home) Malcolm was the one who tipped off the cops. They went over to Anthony’s brother’s house over on Abbot Drive, and arrested a lot of kids who were underage/drinking, and for possession. They also got Anthony, who told the cops that Chad was their supplier. Anthony probably figured that since he used drugs, Chad must also, so he gave them this information in hopes that they would find something, and the odd thing about it is that they did; but they found NO drugs at all. Instead, they found cold hard cash; Three-hundred and seventy-eight dollars to be exact. The officers were ready to take him in, when suddenly, Malcolm (Chad’s father to the police officers (Mom was still unaware)) stepped in and told them about the tank. He was able to prove it through condiment covered bills, and Bob’s contact info. Shortly after, they left.
Chad was grateful that Malcolm had helped him this time, unlike the time at the bench with the whole sunglasses business, but Annie (mom) was so upset. She’d had to work all her life, and always refused to let Chad get a job. She knew the reality of work, and didn’t want Chad to. Annie agreed to let Chad keep the job, but only until school started. It was now time for the lying to stop, and to let the truth rein.
Chad was worried about Gwen. He went to the cat-a-pult the next day to see if he could find her, but no such luck. He feared that she may have been arrested. Later, he convinced Malcolm to go to the hospital with him. He and Malcolm really put on a show. Ever since, the two of them had went to see Jason every day. Chad worried that Jason’s mother would walk in on them one day and freak out; as predicted, she did. But Malcolm turned on his actor’s charm, and even she was laughing at their routine, though she tried to hide it. Later, Chad finally gets his chance. Malcolm buys him the make-up, and make-up remover, and gets ready to go into the tank. At first, Malcolm is worried, but later he starts to get the marks attention. His friends even help him by dressing up in ridiculous garment. Just as he’s about to reel in a mark, he notices a flash of red hair in the crowd. He notices Gwen.
Chad was excited, fearful, and any other emotion you can think of. He was so worried about Gwen. He wanted to talk to her, but he was working. This however didn’t stop him. He first blurted out hey Red head, but that didn’t work at all. Then, he decided to be Chad, just plain Chad. Chad poured his heart out to Gwen. Finally, after all this time, he was telling her what he’d been trying to tell her for the entire summer. Gwen reveals that she never stepped foot inside the door of Anthony’s brother’s house. She could see the beer cans through the windows, and could smell the dope from the porch. Malcolm came to the rescue, and took over as Bozo. Chad didn’t have to worry though Gwen wasn’t going anywhere.
Throughout the rest of the summer, Jason healed up nicely. The doctors took all the credit, but Jason, and Chad, and Jason’s mother knew the real reason. Chad and Gwen spent nearly all of their free time together. They were upset when summer was ending, and Gwen had to go back to Montana. Malcolm drove the two of them to the airport in Doc’s car so they could have just a little more time together. Annie (mom) finally got her certificate. She quit her job as a waitress, and got an even better one. Chad kept his job all summer, and would quit when school started, and he was even into the idea of moving to California.