In the working-class Irish neighborhood of Woodside, Queens, two small-time hustlers, Flood and Terry, work the streets. Flood offers 17-year-old Terry $600 to take part in the theft of a truck. Terry refuses – explaining that he is not cut out for any job requiring violence. Flood, a good and likable friend, understands.
Terry returns home where we are introduced to Bill (Terry’s father), an incorrigible alcoholic who spends his time (and Terry’s money) attempting to locate his wife (Grace) who has been missing for over a year. Bill explains that a lawyer has a lead on Grace’s whereabouts. Terry knows Bill is being had and wasting hard-earned money. He leaves in disgust, returning to the street.
In a bar Terry meets Lyrica and her boyfriend Tommy. Terry is immediately taken with Lyrica who is young and pretty. Tommy needs Terry’s help retrieving a package (unlicensed handguns) from a subway stop. Terry reluctantly agrees. The following morning Terry and Lyrica pick up the guns but are separated in the confusion that follows. Terry winds up returning late to Tommy’s and by this time Tommy is in a rage. He hits Lyrica.
Lyrica’s eye is swollen and Terry helps clean it, resolving to get her permanently away from Tommy. Terry searches out Flood and agrees to take part in the truck hijacking. The theft goes as planned and afterward Terry returns home with his pay which he hides in a drawer. He visits Lyrica and explains his plan to leave town and she agrees to go with him. They arrange to meet later that evening.
Meanwhile Bill returns to the apartment drunk. He finds Terry’s money and disappears with it. Terry packs his things and is about to leave when he discovers the missing cash. It is too late for him to warn Lyrica who, by this time, has aroused Tommy’s suspicion and is caught attempting to slip out. A struggle ensues during which Lyrica smashes Tommy with a lamp. She believes him to be dead.
Lacking cash, Terry and Lyrica flee and find themselves on the wintry seashore of Long Island. Things worsen when their stolen car breaks down and they are forced to use their few remaining dollars on renting a small cabin. Considering their circumstances they are happy, lost in the dreamlike, timeless solitude of the boarded up winter resort and are unaware of the events taking place at home.
Back in Queens Tommy is alive and has tracked down Flood who refuses to tell where Terry and Lyrica are hiding. This decision costs Flood his life. Meanwhile Bill has spent Terry’s money on information regarding Grace. He learns that she is living and working in the Bronx. He sets out to find her.
The film climaxes in a tragic shoot out and a resolution that is both unexpected and moving.