When Joe Lerner quits his super secret overseas assignment in Laos, he is shipped back to the world to an unexpected welcome. At loose ends, he returns to school and rejoins his old buddy Kid at college. They are housed in a dormitory ghetto with other veterans. Their staid and influential neighbors are both irritated and angered by the dormitory's presence and by the veterans' activities. Compounding their problem, they are out of step on the Fourth of July and misrepresented to the public.
On his own, a confused Joe bungles his attempts to fit into the student body. Joe's every attempt to find romance or sex is thwarted, as his eccentric behavior appalls his classmates. Joe foolishly trusts a fellow vet, and is gulled into a dubious occupation to earn his tuition. Having attracted police attention, Joe is first suspected of arson...then accused of murdering his friend. Meanwhile, the past plagues Joe nightly as badly as mundane living does daily. To cope with all these stresses, Joe retreats into a stupor of booze, marijuana, and willed amnesia before Kid's eyes.
Kid can only wonder, what will become of Joe Lerner? The shocking answer arrives unexpectedly.