32-year-old Montcrief Pitney has been happily cooped up in the Lubbock, Texas Historical Preservation Office for ten years when he learns that his literary idol—"voice of the people" John Hadley Powers—is on his deathbed in New York City. Following a sign from a Mexican soap opera, Pitney sets off with his diabetic cat and a week's paid leave to pay his final respects. But not before he promises his fast-talking best friend, Barlow Hunt, to deliver "a little red TV" to a relative in South Kansas City.
Things get hairy when a fluke in the cruise control has Pitney creeping north at 45 mph, and hairier still when it’s Barlow Hunt's 30-year-old cousin Vera who answers the door in Kansas City with a NEW YORK OR BUST sign in hand.
Fifteen hundred miles on cruise control with Vera Hunt quickly pale next to Pitney's New York City troubles. His car is impounded on his first night in the city and he's hustled into a tiny apartment in the South Bronx. There he discovers that Powers’ “death” was all part of an elaborate swindle—one that lands Pitney in jail for a long weekend and possibly much longer unless he can track down the slippery Powers to clear his name.