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Meg and Petey Bowles are the slovenly proprietors of a rundown seaside boardinghouse. Their only boarder is Stanley, an unshaven and mysterious nonconformist. Prior to moving in a year or so ago, he may have been a concert pianist, or perhaps a deserter from a criminal organization. One day two strangers--urbane and jovial Nat Goldberg and grim and servile Shamus McCann--arrive at the boardinghouse and easily insinuate themselves into Meg's good graces by asking for one of her "splendid accommodations." Their apparent purpose is to give Stanley a birthday party and to bring him back to the underworld organization. Goldberg and McCann manage to catch Stanley alone, and they interrogate him until he retaliates by kicking Goldberg in the groin. Despite Stanley's protests that it is not his birthday, Meg insists that the party be held that evening with Lulu, a neighborhood woman, as the only guest. As the evening progresses and the guests play a wild game of blind man's buff, Stanley gradually weakens in his resistance to the threatening intimations of the two strangers. The party finally ends when Stanley steps on Meg's gift, a toy drum, and reduces the inebriated Meg to a state of mournful reverie. The next morning as Meg and Petey go about their chores, Goldberg and McCann take Stanley, now verging on a mental breakdown, away to meet an unknown fate.