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A man awakens on a bench in Central Park and realizes that he is suffering from total amnesia; his life and his identity are a blank, and his only clue is a telephone number he finds in his pocket. He accidentally calls the wrong number and reaches a sleepy-voiced woman named Gloria who mistakenly assumes that he is her drunken husband. After he makes up the name of Buddwing from a passing beer truck and an overhead jet plane, he calls on Gloria in her shabby apartment. Touched by the man's dilemma, she gives him coffee, sympathy and $5. While he wanders the streets, Buddwing spots a young woman and shouts the name "Grace" as he sees a fleeting image from his past. When the woman tells him she is a college student named Janet, Buddwing relives his college romance with the young woman, Grace, who was his fiancée. While listening to records in the apartment of an actress named Fiddle, he remembers how poverty forced him to abandon his dream of becoming a composer. He then encounters a blonde socialite who needs a tall man in a grey suit to accompany her on a scavenger hunt. She persuades Buddwing to take her to Harlem where she must win a large sum of money in a dice game. During the frenzied gambling, a chance remark causes Buddwing to recall the shock that blotted out his memory. Finally aware of his identity, he goes to the hospital where his wife had been taken after attempting suicide because he had rejected her upon hearing of her pregnancy.