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Pregnant Long Island housewife Natalie Ravenna deserts her husband. While driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike she picks up former college athlete Jimmie Kilgannon. Touched by the revelation that the young man has suffered brain damage during a football game, the housewife drives the athlete to West Virginia, where he has been promised employment by the father of his former girl friend. The family, however, is repelled by Kilgannon, and Natalie persuades him to accompany her to Chattanooga, where she tries unsuccessfully to drop him off. In Nebraska she places the youth as a handyman at a reptile zoo. Speeding from the town she is apprehended by widowed motorcycle policeman Gordon and subsequently fined by Justice of the Peace Alfred, Kilgannon's treacherous employer. When the athlete releases abused animals from their cages, Alfred fires Kilgannon, exacting $800 from the young man's $1,000 savings. As Gordon entertains Natalie in his mobile home, the couple is observed by the athlete and the policeman's adolescent daughter Rosalie. When the officer attempts to make love to the housewife he is assaulted by Kilgannon. Alarmed, Rosalie shoots and kills the youth.