Sal, the main character in the novel arrives at his old friend Remi Boncoeur's place in Mill City and moves in with his friend Remi and his girlfriend Lee Ann. Remi is delighted to see Sal and has a lot of things for him. Sal starts to work where Remi works, as a night guard at a barracks for overseas construction workers. Predictably, Sal is an inexperienced security guard. One night, he goes up to quiet the men but he ends drinking with them and hanging the flag upside down the next morning without noticing. In another episode, Remi asks a favor from her girlfriend and Sal. His stepfather is visiting and so Lee Ann and Sal to act like Remi's best friend and his girlfriend. He would later blow Remi's plans by arriving to the dinner drunk and late. This marked the end of their friendship and Sal decides to go back to the east.
It is interesting how the drinking habit of Sal has been exaggerated by the writer in the novel. The reason as to why this is interesting is because it creates humor in the book like when Sal hangs the flag upside down while working as a guard in the barracks after taking one too many the previous night. It is equally amusing how his drunkenness ruins his friendship with Remi. His tactics of survival are something worth smiling for. On his last day in Mill City, looking over San Francisco and toward the ocean, he reflects that he is at one end of the world and with nowhere to go but back East. All these are interesting because they break the monotony of narration to the reader and make it lively to read.