Irwin Matthews, an undersized and introverted boy, is brought into a new school after the death of his beloved father. In this new environment, he builds both friendships and enmities that will mold his character and, in ways he cannot foresee, affect the course of his life for years to come. Like many Canadian boys of his generation, Irwin volunteers for Vietnam, but returning after his tour he finds himself in a world he no longer understands. Choosing a career in law enforcement, he accepts a position in a large US city. The threads of his life that were woven in the schoolyard many years before begin to inexorably tighten, building to a final explosive climax when he understands that life is more than just a game.