Chapter 14 Summary
Johnny creates the excuse that he has mono and leaves for New York. Meanwhile, Jude takes control of the Green Mountain Boys and the burgeoning straight-edge scene in Lintonburg. More kids are joining the group in Harriet’s basement everyday, including two skaters named Big Ben and Little Ben, and a Korean-American named Matthew Stein, the adopted son of a Jewish dentist.
A small industry springs up around Jude and his friends. In addition to practicing with their band and performing for kids in Lintonburg, they produce a zine featuring interviews of members in other straight-edge bands, make and sell tee shirts, and book touring hardcore bands to play at the rec center in Lintonburg.
Jude, Kram, and Delph serve as evangelicals for the straight edge way of life, informing newbies that true straight-edges don’t have sex, eat meat or other foods originating from animals, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or caffeine, and spurn all other people who give into these temptations. If someone shows up in the basement with the smell of cigarette on his breath, Jude will waste no time in kicking him out. Jude struggles especially with the bans against lust of any kind, falling prey in his weaker moments to thoughts about Eliza and even fantasizes that he is the father of her baby, not Teddy—thoughts that he repudiates soon after indulging.
The next logical step for the band is to release a record—they have enough songs to fill a 7”—and go on tour, but these things cost money, which they don’t have. Someone suggests they try to solicit funds from Les, but Jude doesn’t know where his father is anymore.
In order to let off steam, Jude’s straight edge gang roams Lintonburg stirring up trouble for people whose lifestyle disagrees with theirs: they free cows from a pasture, use water-pistols filled with urine to ruin a barbecue, pick fights with drunks and drug users. Jude keeps on the lookout for Tory Ventura, and doesn’t worry about Hippie anymore as he keeps to himself now and only deals drugs from within the safety of his own house.
Meanwhile Johnny takes care of his ailing lover Rooster in New York and tests himself for the AIDS virus. He’s glad to receive a negative report, but he throws away his tattoo kit because the needle can spread the disease.