This is a novella about life in small-town America. It is not a very pretty picture.
It was summer in Bumford, Kansas, it was hot, and there was nothing for four adolescent boys to do. That is, until Babyface, Spittle, Farm Boy and Stud, the leader, met a new kid whom they named Patsy. He was kind of fat, and looked like he waddled, so, of course, he was continually tormented and made the butt of their jokes. They held out the promise that when the local high school started the fall semester in a few weeks, Patsy would be part of the group. No one wants to be the "new kid" in high school. Their treatment of Patsy started with the usual adolescent hazing, then quickly degenerated into cruel and downright evil treatment.
The story consists of reminiscences about Patsy and those days by several of the group as they return to town twenty years later for a funeral. They knew then that they could have stopped Patsy's torment, or at least reduced it, but they didn't do it. Perhaps it was some sort of groupthink, or wanting to be one of the crowd, that stopped them from speaking up. They were tracked down on the Internet by Patty, Stud's younger sister. She stayed in Bumford, and is a waitress at the local diner. She remembers the many quickies she gave the local boys in her family's barn.
In a way, this is very unpleasant reading, especially for anyone who was on the receiving end of such treatment. It is also really good reading. The author does a fine job with this tale of regret and bad choices from several different perspectives.