When Sean Laughlin, an Anglo college student, steps off the Greyhound bus in front of La Guerra, the local cantina in the rural town of Falfurrias, he has no idea that he will be the catalyst in a seven-day drama which will irreversibly shatter the lives of most of the residents he is about to meet.
He is aware only that his heart is heavy with grief over his mothers recent death and the revelation that his father, a man whom he believed dead for many years, had, in reality, deserted his mother to begin a new life in this remote area of Texas.
Inside the cantina, sits a lone soul, Bob Laughlin, ritualistically sipping his nightly beer and smoking his cigar, never suspecting that he fathered a son almost twenty years earlier, and certainly never expecting that son to walk through the door of La Guerra Sean relishes a small amount of satisfaction from shocking his father with his appearance and the news of his mothers death, but also receives much more than he had anticipated -- acceptance.
As the duo come to terms with the situation, solemnly drinking and talking, the regulars arrive at the cantina, among them an oil rigging crew and their foreman, Angel Garza. Garza, a man who has nurtured a burning hatred for Anglos since the death of his parents, caused by a drunken Anglo nearly two decades earlier, takes issue with the Laughlins drinking in his personal watering hole. A brief skirmish, provoked by Angel, ensues. Due to the dexterity and prowess of the senior Laughlin, father and son escape, but Angel Garza is injured, and the stage is set for revenge.
As the story progresses, Sean moves into his fathers trailer home and learns the reasons for the choices the man has made. He is surprised that, as he accompanies his father, a veteran crop duster, to his business and on one of his dusting assignments, he begins to admire Bob and let go of his previous hostility. With the enlightenment of Red, a colorful character and his fathers partner, Seans perception of his father is enhanced, and the bond is formed between father and son.
Simultaneously, the younger Laughlin meets Luisa Garza and her aunt Maria in a grocery store. He is struck immediately by Luisas beauty, but she, aware of the inherent line drawn between Anglos and Mexican Americans in her community, tries to ward off his attempt at friendship. Tia Maria, however, a wise by mischievous old woman, in an endeavor to encourage her niece to gain the confidence to break free of their small ranch and her brothers dominance, weaves an enchanting scheme that will bring Sean and Luisa together. The passion of youth takes over, and the two fall in love, much to Tia Marias delight. However, not one of them is aware that the incident at La Guerra had involved Luisas brother, Angel.
Consequently, while Bob Laughlin travels south of the border for a Friday night visit with a prostitute he has grown to love over the years, and with whom he shares a very special friendship, Sean and Luisa make their first public appearance together at a quinceera dance. Angel Garza and his oil rigging crew dress in their finery and also attend the dance.
The reader will be shocked at the resultant number of lives which will be altered when Angel discovers that Sean and Luisa are together, sharing more than a friendship.
In a fast-paced, action-packed evening, the story crescendos as Bob Laughlin finds his special lady murdered, Sean is dragged from the dance and made to believe he must escape castration if he is to save his life, Luisa and her tia Maria will require a firmness of fortitude far greater than they had ever expected to possess, and the senior Laughlin, in what he will believe to be a justified retaliation, will initiate a fateful, fire bombing of La Guerra from his Stearman. The conclusion is further enhanced by the incorporation of each characters perspective, each characters emotions.