On the day that Stevie Baker murdered his boss, Marvin Watson, owner of Happy Video, he woke at six a.m. with a bleeding tongue. But that fact is known only to Stevie, and he ain't talking. Stevie is mum. Stevie's taking the fifth. He's your remote on permanent mute.

Stevie's clock was set for nine, which is when he usually woke for work. But the clock was a cheap one that ran on two double-A batteries, the kind that power the bunny in the commercials that run during the Christmas holidays when Stevie felt most depressed about his sister. So distraught was Stevie that the sight of any bunny, even the dead ones on Cashua Ferry Road, reminded him of his sister's one dimple and the cheap diary she kept full of their secrets. But only Stevie knows this. Stevie and his sister, of course.

That morning, bleeding Stevie awakened slowly, not as he usually did - with John Boy and Billy screeching like chimps from the cheap Wal-Mart clock radio with its red nine-zero-zero LED, the piece of crap clock made in China that had been given him by his sister as a Christmas present. She'd wrapped the clock in used red-and-white Santa Claus paper from the year before, paper that had covered the elk-bone-handled hunting knife that Stevie would share with Marvin Watson later in the day.