Rusty-James' admiration for his older brother, the Motorcycle Boy, borders on hero-worship and idolatry. He wants to be just like his brother--tough, intelligent and the leader of his own gang. Motorcycle Boy is
... the coolest person in the whole world.
However, Rusty-James doesn't have the smarts that Motorcycle Boy possesses, and he recognizes this. He has taken over the leadership of the same gang once headed by his older brother, but he has not adhered to Motorcycle Boy's edict to end the rumbles and violence between rival groups. Since Motorcycle Boy is a dropout, Rusty-James sees no reason to better himself in high school. He hates the thought of being apart from his older brother, though Motorcycle Boy's life consists of stealing motorcycles and spending life on the road. He dreams of reuniting with his mother, spurred by Motorcycle Boy's tale that she is in California, even though she has abandoned her boys and makes no attempt to contact them. He follows his brother on the ill-advised and senseless robbery of the pet store, resulting in Motorcycle Boy's death and Rusty-James' incarceration.