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Jonas Pike is a twelve year old boy who was born with a facial disfigurement. He befriends an old, fallen-from-grace preacher who just needs someone to believe in him. Their friendship is threatened, however, when the boy’s mother, Dolores, finds out he is the same preacher who swindled her parents out of their life savings. Matters are complicated even further when Paul Jenkins, the boy’s drunken step-father, suspects Dolores of having an affair with the old man, and he vows revenge. A tragedy about forgiveness and faith, accusation and doubt, the mundane and the miraculous, Pain’s Joke examines the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.