Our hero, Bock, Jason Bock, thinks more about a confrontation with volatile Henry Stagg, his friendship with snail- and slug-loving oddball Shin, and his uncertain feelings for pretty Magda Price than he does about his faith. Then a simple gag makes faith the centerpiece of his summer: What if the town water tower is God?
Jason shares his quirky observation with Shin and soon finds himself the head of a new religious sect of "Chutengodians" worshipping the metal edifice they now call the "Ten-legged One." As the hot summer days pass, some Chutengodians begin to take the existential mindgame more seriously than Jason himself. During a ceremonial midnight climb to the top of the water tower, the consequences of their activities have something of a SNAFU. It is then that Jason realizes that the "religion" he created has taken on a life-altering momentum of its own.
The chronicles of the worship of the Ten-legged One includes these storytelling devices:
- Black Comedy Rape:Jason: Also, we may require breeding stock.
- Cult: A very mild example with Jason's religion centered around the water tower.
- Did Not Get the Girl: At the story's end, Magda is dating Henry and more or less wants nothing to do with Jason.
- Everyone Has Standards: Henry Stagg is a jerk and a bully, but he won't pick on people who are weaker than he is.
- Groin Attack: Yeah, Jason, suggest that your cult needs breeding stock to the nice girl who has a very cold beverage for you whilst you are sitting down. This can't end badly.
- Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster: If its caffeine content can be absorbed directly through the skin, Wigglesworth's star beverage, the Magnum Brainblaster, definitely qualifies.
- Start My Own: Jason starting his own religion based around worshipping the town's water tower.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The antics of the Chutengodians have a lot of repercussions. For one thing, their stint of swimming in the town's water supply results in a lot of very expensive cleanup, and Jason is punished with an overnight stay in prison.
- Toxic Friend Influence: Eventually, Shin's parents come to see Jason as this after their son's breakdown.
- The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Jason introduces himself like this in the beginning of the novel. He frequently imagines himself to be some kind of spy hero.