For most of America, the term "Pinkville" means nothing. For a very few, it was a pink colored piece of a map of Vietnam where 500 villagers were massacred by US soldiers during the war. For Sean Engel, it was America's turning point; it was the moment his country was taken from him. When Sean Engel's increasingly radical views get him fired from a prestigious university, he begins an intentional descent into the underworld of America. Engel's anger has led to violent black-outs, mostly anchored in his academic area of expertise: Vietnam. Fearing for the public, and himself, Engel vows to stay awake as long as possible armed with only two weapons: caffeine and compulsive gambling. The latter of the two sparks a more immediate threat than bad dreams when Engel falls into debt and has big league casino bosses after him. A cat and mouse game ensues that leads Engel from town to town, motel to motel, rubbing shoulders with a menagerie of low-lifes. Engel's unable to stay medicated and stay ahead of the mob. Pimps, hustlers, bookies, hitmen and dirty cops are all players in Engel's game and at the center is the man he wants the most: Lt. Frank Kovacs, the senior ranking officer present at the My Lai Massacre and the father of one of Engel's former students. Engel becomes desperate without his medication, but develops a plan to sew up the whole business in one intricate cross-stitch that rests on two unstable factors: his trust in Betty, a hooker he "won" in a poker game, and his own declining mental state.