The scene is a stark motel room at the edge of the Mojave Desert. May, a disheveled young woman, sits dejectedly on a rumpled bed while Eddie, a rough-spoken rodeo performer, crouches in a corner fiddling with his riding gear. When he attempts to console May, who is distressed by Eddie's frequent absences and love affairs, she seems, at first, to soften—but then she suddenly attacks him. As the recriminations pour out, and the action becomes, at times, physically violent, the desperate nature of their relationship becomes apparent—they cannot get along with, or without, one another, yet neither can subdue their burning passion. The poignancy of their situation (they are half-brother and half-sister as well as lovers) is pointed out by the play's two other characters: a hapless young man who stops by to take May to the movies and becomes the butt of Eddie's funniest yet most humiliating jokes; and a ghostly old man (perhaps their father) who sits in a rocking chair at the side of the stage, sipping whiskey and commenting wryly on what he observes. Eventually May and Eddie tire of their struggle and embrace—but it is evident that the respite is temporary and that their love, the curse of the past which haunts them, will remain forever damned and hopeless.