JOE OLIVER is a thirty-year old drifter who likes women and good times. His dream is to find a patch of dirt for his own so that he can be someone. He has just lost his ranch job and heads into town looking for action. He meets ANNA, thirty, at the bar and for the first time falls in love. She is unlike the other bar girls he is used to. He wants to marry her, but she says no. He gets drunk and vows he will never forget what she did.
Months later still low on cash and luck Joe finds himself in Big Horn, Montana. He loses a fifty dollar bet with a bartender about the number of women he can screw in one hour. Angry and digusted he wants to get away, but his truck won’t start. He heads for a strip mall where RITA HILL, twenty-five, plays chicken with him in her pickup. When he tells her she dresses like a whore they get into an argument. Joe offers her a truce. She reluctantly agrees and directs him to Gunnar's Gentlemen’s Club where she used to work so he can continue his sexual exploits. While there Joe gets into a fight with a jealous husband of one of the women he screwed. GUNNAR tells Joe to get out his club. Joe asks Gunnar if he knows anyone named Frank Hill who lives in the area. Gunnar does know Frank and tells Joe he might have a deal for him. Frank has something he’s not entitled to. Joe hesitates. Gunnar throws him out. Later that night Rita goes to Gunnar’s for the final payment for some audio tapes Gunnar has. He refuses.
The next morning Joe hitches his way out of town. FRANK HILL, a wounded sixty-five year old Vietnam vet picks him up and offers him seven thousand dollars to work on his ranch. Joe tells him his name. Frank notices Joe’s resemblance to his mother who married Frank’s brother. He says nothing. Joe accepts the job. His dream of owning his own patch of dirt now seems possible. He doesn’t know that he has become part of a plan to father the child that the impotent Frank is unable to conceive. He meets Frank’s wife Rita. They say nothing about their prior meeting.
Because Frank is away frequently on oil business he leaves Rita in charge of the ranch. Joe’s feelings toward Rita grow and he can’t understand how she can stay with Frank.
Although Frank and Rita’s relationship appears to be solid she finds it increasingly difficult to resist Joe, but knows she must be careful not to upset the plans she and Frank have made. Much to his consternation Frank begins to notice that Rita is falling for Joe. Rita tells him there is nothing to worry about.
Rita constantly tests Joe to determine if he really is the right biological father they are looking for. He is the only drifter that Frank has picked up who stands up to the women in town who hate her, protects her from Gunnar and his thugs and takes to her secret lake. He passes his final test by getting drunk and climbing a high line tower.
In town alone Gunnar forces Rita into his car at knife point. His feelings for her have turned to anger. He wants to take her for a ride for old time’s sake. He knows about their plan and wants to make it his business. He drives her to a secluded spot and rapes her.
Joe begins to tire of the games and Rita’s sexual teasing. He wonders what Anna is doing.
After returning from a motel bar with Joe, Rita begins the planned seduction. They make love. Joe tells her that he doesn’t love her. She is devastated.
Gunnar and his thugs show up. He has come for Rita. During the fight Gunnar is wounded and takes off. Joe refuses the seven thousand dollars and calls Frank a hypocrite because he is no better than Gunnar. Joe at least has his pride. He heads to Billings to find Anna leaving Rita and Frank to face the consequences of their plan.