Bobby Dupea’s life pinballs from one meaningless day to the next, powered by one-night stands and pints of plastic sour mash. He carouses with rowdy shitkickers and toils in menial jobs until the boredom and wanderlust overwhelm him. Bobby is loosely tethered to reality by a curdled relationship with a hee haw diner waitress, Rayette Depesto (Karen Black). She’s all billowing hair and fake eyelashes—her brittle naiveté embodied in the syllabic Tammy Wynette ballads she coos vainly in Bobby’s ear. The story could’ve remained on this trajectory—a muted exam of two lives barreling to nowhere.
Bobby hitches north to visit his mousy sister, Pertita. Tita is a session pianist who dotes on Bobby. She overlooks the warts and goiters on his personality and yearns for the good man hidden beneath them. During their reunion, she drops an emotional anvil on him: Their stern, aristocratic father (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Papa Hemingway) is dying from the effects of a severe stroke. Now, Bobby must trek back to the family compound–a “rest home-asylum,” in his estimation–and gain closure on the rocky relationship with his old man.