Fifteen-year-old Will Benson plans to get far away from loveable, retarded Denny.
He has picked up after his brother, taught him to ride and endured his snores forever. After Will leaves the home ranch for the La Junta Rodeo, Denny follows and gets bit by a rattler. Treating it, Will sends him back, but Denny still tags along. Will thinks back to the small white scars the brothers share on their hands as he leaves Denny with a La Junta doctor. Will then plunges into the rodeo, bull-dogging, calf-roping and besting bad-tempered brahmas. He wins hefty prize money and prospective jobs at other ranches. Yet his father needs him badly as does Denny, and his trail to freedom comes to a sudden fork in the road. Ten-year-old Eddie Heycock of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, sees nature as a hero/villain in this story because it shows how it can challenge people like Denny was when he got bit by a rattler or watched ants to calm himself down.