Link becomes homeless after a fight with his mother's boyfriend Vince. Thinking he is no longer safe in Bradford, he goes to London. He soon finds a room, but a fortnight's rent costs him two-thirds of his money. He looks for a job but no one will take him on as he has no experience and has only five GCSEs. Soon the landlord kicks him out and he is officially homeless. Now Link cannot get a job since he has no address and he cannot get an address since he has no job. Link is very afraid alone on the streets, but after a while he meets Ginger who is also homeless. Ginger teaches Link how to survive on the street and how to beg.
Meanwhile Shelter (real name unknown) is planning a mass murder of all the homeless people in London. Shelter served in the Army for twenty-nine years. He was discharged on medical grounds, but he claims to be as fit as a butcher's dog. Bewildered by his discharge, and without occupation, he takes his frustrations out on the homeless who make the streets look "manky". Shelter plans very meticulously. He starts small and tries not to create a pattern in his killings so he cannot be tracked down. By buying a flat and a cat he manages to lure many of the homeless to their deaths. By the time he encounters Link, Shelter has killed seven people. Seven homeless people.
Link and Ginger ask him for any spare change, but he replies "Change! I'd change you, me lad, if I had you in khaki for 6 weeks!". As they walk away they laugh at a remembered joke, yet Shelter thinks they are laughing at him. They become his targets – named Laughing Boy One (Ginger) and Laughing Boy Two (Link).
As Ginger is going to meet some friends, Shelter persuades him to come to his flat, saying that Link is there, lying down after an accident. Once there, Shelter kills Ginger. After some time, Link accepts that Ginger has vanished and that he is on his own again. Shortly after this, Link meets Gail, the best-looking dosser he has ever seen. Gail follows Link,...
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