An alcoholic’s gifted teenage son and a stripper’s alienated teenage daughter grow up, face their fears of intimacy and adulthood, and come to terms with their dysfunctional parents one summer on the wrong side of the tracks.
They arrive to find Bambi and Athena, who live next door, in the middle of a knock-down, drag-out fight over missing money from Bambi’s purse. Bambi ransacks Athena’s room and hits her. Athena runs out of the trailer and storms past Otis and Sonny, catching Sonny’s eye as she takes off to her secret hideout.
As the weeks pass, Otis has trouble hiding his drinking. Athena and Sonny get to know each other. Athena talks about her life - reading every library book she can get her hands on, getting into fights at school, and how Bambi drove away Ricky, the only father figure she ever knew. She informs Sonny that Otis spends all of his time at "The Office" and doesn’t own the successful car lot that he claims.
Otis stands Sonny up again for plans, and Sonny finds him at "The Office," confronting him about his lies. Otis embarrasses Sonny by fawning over him and announcing Sonny's accomplishments to the entire bar.
Days later, Otis wins big at the racetrack and goes off to celebrate and gamble some more with Blackie, forgetting about Sonny, who accompanied him. Stranded, Sonny hitches a ride from a creepy BIBLE SALESMAN, who tries to molest him. Sonny rebuffs his advances and escapes.
With Otis and Bambi essentially MIA on a drinking binge, Athena and Sonny steal away to the hideout and share a romantic evening. A few days later, they make plans to leave the trailer park together. The next day, Athena packs her things, including memories of Ricky. At the station, Sonny buys a ticket to Kansas City. Athena stuns him by saying she won't go with him, that he needs to protect himself from the likes of her, and that she’s going to Tulsa by herself instead. Sonny gives her his knife for protection and some money, and she leaves. Later, she hitches a ride with a college girl bound for the University of Oklahoma, to start a new life.
Sonny awaits his bus when Otis shows up. Otis tries to get Sonny to stay, but he refuses. Sonny says goodbye to his father for the last time, and gets on the bus bound for home.