While Stanley spends another day digging holes, he thinks about God's thumb and wonders if Kate Barlow lived in this area and if it was actually her gold lipstick tube that he found. When Mr. Pendanski delivers their bag lunches the other boys taunt Stanley about having Zero dig Stanley's hole for him. Zigzag pushes Stanley, who doesn't want to fight. Mr. Pendanski comes over and tells Stanley to fight back. Stanley softly hits Zigzag who in return pummels Stanley and jumps on top of him. Zero attacks Zigzag and almost kills him until Armpit breaks them up. Mr. Pendanski fires his pistol into the air and the Warden arrives. The boys tell the Warden that Zero has been digging some of Stanley's hole. Stanley explains that he's teaching Zero to read and Mr. Pendanski says, " You might as well try to teach this shovel to read! It's got more brains than Zero." The Warden spells some words for Zero and when he pronounces h-a-t as chat everyone laughs at him. The Warden forbids Stanley to teach Zero to read and Mr. Pendanski taunts Zero about how stupid he is. Zero says that he will not dig any more holes and when Mr. Pendanski tells him that digging holes is all he'll ever be good for, Zero smashes his shovel across Mr. Pendanski's face and runs away. The Warden tells the other counselors not to bother about Zero because he'll have to return for water. Then she says that the remaining six boys must still dig seven holes.
Stanley is angry with everyone, including himself. He regrets having Zero dig his hole for him. He considers ways to help Zero but can not think of any that do not involve retribution from the Warden. He hopes that Zero will travel to the mountain that looks like a thumb. Mr. Pendanski and the Warden ask Stanley if he knows where Zero is and then they discuss how they will change Zero's records so that no one will ever find him. Mr. Peandanski and the Warden say that they do not want anyone in the A.G.'s office to know about Zero. In the end they decide that no one will care about Zero.
A new boy, who was arrested for stealing cars, is assigned to Zero's cot. His name is Brian but X-Ray names him Twitch because he fidgets. Stanley continues to worry about Zero and when Mr. Sir drives in the truck to give them water, Stanley impulsively decides to steal it. He doesn't know how to drive but Twitch yells a few directions at him and Stanley races away. Soon Stanley drives the truck into a hole. He gets out and runs away.
No one follows Stanley as he runs away from the truck. He encounters many holes as he walks, and a family of yellow-spotted lizards in one of them. He runs away from the lizards and later finds one sunflower seed in a burlap bag.
Stanley walks towards the thumb mountain but is exhausted. He sees something in the dirt and finds that it is part of a boat named Mary Lou. There is a hole under the boat and Zero is in it.
Zero looks sick but refuses to go back to camp. Stanley and Zero go under the boat where it is cooler. Zero still has his shovel that he used to hit Mr. Pendanski. Zero has found many jars of a muddy looking liquid that he calls sploosh. Stanley doesn't want to drink it because he realizes that it is probably at least 100 years old, but he is so thirsty that he does. It tastes like peaches. Zero and Stanley have to break the top off the last bottle of sploosh because it is sealed very tightly. Zero has a bad stomachache and Stanley thinks it might be from the sploosh.