A misfit like most of Zindel's teenagers, Chris is more than usually dislocated, living in a sleazy hotel with his dominating mother between her assignments as a live-in practical nurse. Her latest case takes them to the home of an old lady who has been discharged from the hospital to die in the company of her senile, reclusive husband, her 30-year-old son Lloyd, and Lloyd's teenage friend Harold, about sixteen, who does the cooking and all but lives in the house. Mom clashes at once with boorish, drunken Lloyd, who fills the house with partying teenagers in seeming disregard for his suffering mother. Chris too is disturbed by Lloyd's rude badgering, but then it does appear that Lloyd is only trying to shape him up. It seems they have something in common (their mothers--Lloyd's being almost literally castrating, having come after him with scissors when he was a ""naughty"" child). By that last wild night--when Mom gets the police after Lloyd for unspecified offenses against Harold, the old lady quietly dies, and Lloyd shoots himself in the head--Chris has taken his lesson to heart. Though more organic than Marsh Mallow's cure in . . . Eyeball, Chris' sudden emancipation is a bit more than the theatrical characterization will bear. But it's hard to fault in the presence of Zindel's caustic comic touch (witness the old lady, who bites Chris and speaks her crazy mind) and his talent for spotlighting bizarre and dramatic scenes. You won't be moved by Lloyd's suicide (since Pigman, it's been hard to feel for Zindel's characters), but you will be fascinated by his smashing performance.