The Weird Watsons live in Flint, Michigan where the kids all go to Clark Elementary. Byron is in sixth grade and he's the king of Clark (read, the bully everyone is afraid of). Kenny, our narrator, is in fourth grade, and their little sister Joetta (Joey) is in kindergarten. Kenny gets picked on by the bullies at school, especially Larry Dunn, king of fourth grade.
Things aren't looking great for Kenny until this kid Rufus moves to Flint from Arkansas. Rufus is poor and raggedy and he talks with a Southern accent, so at first, Kenny is excited that the kids will have someone new to bully. But instead, Rufus and Kenny become friends. Good call.
The school year progresses and Kenny keeps us up to speed on the highlights, which mostly involve Byron getting into trouble. He beats up Larry Dunn, he sets things on fire, he kills a bird with a cookie (no, we're not kidding) and then gets really upset about it. At this point, we're all a little confused about what exactly is going on with this kid, and Momma and Dad are pretty frustrated. Then Byron gets his hair chemically straightened without permission (in the Watson family this is a big no-no), so Dad shaves Byron's head. Bald. And that's the last straw.