After 20 years of drunken bottles and empty hallways, Mort Gleason witnesses his nephew Moo being beaten while in a drunken stupor. This contact with family brings Mort back to what are left of his senses and he returns to the last home he remembers in Chicago. His sister, Eileen, lives in their family home with her 16 year old son, Abe. Her older son, Moo, is now missing . Weeks pass as Mort waits outside her home and makes a tenuous re-entry into family life. Abe dreams of a sailboat and distant horizons. He saves money and sees an advertisement for the Kathy II. He and his friend calculate a way to buy the vessel from two unscrupulous rogues who make ends meet wholesaling liquor and operating a sometime boatyard. Eileen, however, is unaware that her youngest son is planning his escape. Comfortable enough with Mort`s presence to allow her a night away from home, Eileen`s departure allows Abe to seize the opportunity to purchase a beaten-up wooden sailboat..