Nick Gautier says, "I am a socially awkward mandork" (1.1), and his mother gets up in his grill for using such bad language.
Um, has this lady seen Sixteen Candles? Does she know how teenagers talk?
Nick is upset because his family is poor and his mom can only afford to buy really ugly shirts. He dreads going to school, where everyone makes fun of him. The ugly shirts only give them more ammo.
After breakfast—at least they can afford bacon—Nick rushes for the streetcar to ride to school. He worries about being late. Even his teachers seem to hate him for being a "scholarship kid at this snotty over-privileged school" (1.50).
At school, Nick turns out to be right. Everyone makes fun of him for his shirt, his shoes, and his sweat, as if rich kids in New Orleans have the power not to perspire.
One of the biggest bullies, in bullying power if not physical size, is Stone Blakemore.
Stone insults Nick's mother, saying he saw her naked last night when she was stripping. "She's got a nice set of—" (1.76). Uh huh.
Nick cuts Stone off by whacking him in the head with his backpack, and a fight is on.
A teacher breaks up the fight, and Nick is dragged away to the principal's office.
Waiting in the office is a beautiful girl named Nekoda Kennedy, who goes by Kody. She's new to the ninth grade, Nick's grade, and she considers Nick to be a friendly face.
Stone hits on Kody, who shoots him down, saying it looks his mom does all his clothing shopping for him. Considering Nick's mom also picked out his clothes, he shouldn't find this as funny as he does.
Kody says she likes Nick because he's "a real lone wolf" and not "a pack animal" (1.110). She must really love going to the zoo.
Nick is called into the principal's office, and Mr. Peters calls Nick's mother. He drops a big bomb: Nick is suspended for the week.
Nick knows his mother will be devastated.
Nick retrieves his things from his locker and is escorted off campus, in shame, by a security guard.
A girl named Brynna offers to take Nick's homework to him later. That's sweet.
At home, Nick's mother is definitely upset with him. She is disappointed and afraid he will become a "no-account criminal" just like his father (1.187).
Sad that he has disappointed his mother, Nick goes to his room.
Nick can hear his mother crying from her bedroom.
Inside, Nick is angry with Stone. He plans to one day get out of this poverty-stricken "hellhole. Even if he had to kill someone to do it" (1.194). Yikes. We guess he won't be hanging a cross-stitched Hellhole Sweet Hellhole picture on his wall.
Later that night, Nick goes to his part-time job at an undescribed shop.
After work, Nick visits his mom at her work.
Remember how mad Nick got that Stone insinuated his mom was a stripper?
She's actually a stripper.
Nick apologizes to his mom again, but she is still mad at him. She tells him to go home.
On the way home, Nick bumps into three of his friends—Tyree, Alan, and Mike. They're hustlers, and they have a job for Nick that will net him a couple hundred bucks.
We're not sure what hustling normally entails for Nick, but tonight things are different.
Tyree, Alan, and Mike mug a couple of tourists at gunpoint. Nick is shocked, and he jumps in to stop them.
Alan turns on Nick, hitting him with the gun and beating him with it.
Being pistol-whipped is never fun, but it's got to be better than being shot, right?
Uh-oh. Alan points the gun at Nick and puts his finger on the trigger. Just as the chapter ends. Noooooooooo.