"A man and his life both got to be made out of the same stuff or one or the other will break, and the one that breaks won't be life."
A flood is surging in the Mississippi Delta, and Chicken's property is only safe until ole man Sikes down the road dynamites his levee to save himself. While Chicken waits alone in his kitchen for the inevitable blast, he receives an unexpected visit from his dying half-brother, Lot, and Lot's wife of but one day, Myrtle. Leaving Lot upstairs to rest, Chicken assesses Myrtle as a potential threat to his inheritance of the estate, currently under Lot's name. Chicken and Myrtle find common ground but not even footing in their similar experiences of the inescapable hardness of the world – two "lost, sinful, puzzled" souls falling into a familiar power dynamic and bracing themselves as the waters rise.