powered by AFI
Al Roberts becomes extremely upset when a customer in the diner where he is having a cup of coffee plays a song that reminds him of his past: In New York, Al, a piano player in a nightclub, is in love with singer Sue Harvey. Al wants to marry Sue, but although she loves him, Sue declares that she intends to seek fame in Hollywood first. Some time later, Al is given a large tip and calls Sue in California. Learning that she is working as a waitress, he impulsively decides to hitchhike west to join her. In Arizona, a man named Charles Haskell offers him a ride to Los Angeles. When Al notices deep scratches on Haskell's hand, Haskell explains that a woman to whom he had given a ride scratched him after he made a sexual advance. That night, while Al is driving, it starts to rain. Al is unable to rouse the sleeping Haskell and stops to raise the top on the convertible. When Al opens the passenger-side door, Haskell falls out and hits his head. Convinced that he will be blamed for Haskell's death, Al hides the body and steals his money and identification. After he crosses the California state line, an exhausted Al checks into a motel to sleep. On the road again, Al offers a ride to a woman hitchhiker, who tells him her name is Vera. Once they are under way, Vera asks Al what he has done with Haskell's body, revealing that she was the woman who scratched his hand. Threatening to expose Al to the police, Vera forces him to take an apartment and sell Haskell's car. Before the sale can be completed, however, Vera tells Al that Haskell's millionaire father is dying and suggests that he impersonate Haskell. Al refuses, pointing out that he knows nothing about Haskell's family or his life, but Vera continues to insist. That night, in their apartment, Vera and Al get very drunk and quarrel. To prevent Al from telephoning for help, Vera takes the phone in the bedroom and drunkenly falls on the bed with the phone cord wrapped around her neck. From outside the bedroom door, Al pulls on the cord, accidentally killing Vera. Al knows that the police will never believe his story and sneaks out of town. He can never return to New York or to Los Angeles and Sue. Instead, he must keep moving, knowing that someday he will be caught.