Rusty James is an up-and-coming street hoodlum, lamenting the salad days of the gangs when his older brother, The Motorcycle Boy, ran things as President of the Packers. Before disappearing two months earlier, Motorcycle Boy outlawed gang wars, or "rumbles," by a treaty. When Rusty James breaks the treaty in a fight with Biff Wilcox, and gets seriously hurt, his brother suddenly appears. Distracted, delusional and enigmatic, his brother seems haunted and disinterested in his past as a "neighborhood novelty." Over the next few days, James' dead end life of posturing seems to fall apart; he loses his girlfriend, his friends, his own sense of confidence. The future looms like a dark, unknown wall locking James in. Through Motorcycle Boy's example, he finally learns to break free from others' expectations, and his own inner demons.