Tom Veil has returned to his hometown of Morrisville, Missouri searching for something familiar, something that will let him know that his memories at least are real. He sits at the edge of the bleachers where a little league game is in progress. He's not there long before he sees a dark car, a man standing beside it wearing a suit and sunglasses. Tom starts to walk away, but freezes when the coach's voice calls after him, "Tom!"
The game over, Tom and the coach face each other. One of them is going to have to say something eventually, the coach says. This is Tom's father, who he hasn't seen since he left Tom and his mother 20 years ago. Tom's reaction is doubt mixed with bitterness and anger. He tells his father he looks different, more than a matter of the 20 years that have passed. He questions how his father could have been living here, when Tom had spent many years looking for him and Morrisville was the first place he looked. Tom's father says he changed his name to Jonathan Crane because Tom's mother had hired a private detective to track him down and would have made things unpleasant for him. Jonathan wants to make up for the lost time and get to know each other again, but Tom isn't sure he can. Jonathan stuns him by asking, "Is your life so full that you can reject such an important part of it?" He invites Tom for dinner. Tom doesn't agree to come, but he doesn't refuse out of hand.
Jonathan has a wife, Beth, closer in age to Tom than Jonathan. They have a son, Johnny, who's about 10 or 11 years old. Johnny asks Tom if he played baseball (yes, a pitcher) and if his father coached him. Tom pauses to give Jonathan a chance to come up with the coach's name, but Tom has to supply it. Tom remarks somewhat bitterly that his father was too busy with other things back then. Tom notices a scar behind Jonathan's ear, explained by cosmetic surgery six months ago. According to Beth, he had it because he wanted to look younger for her and he's been cranky ever since. Before he was a different person, happier, more care-free. A clock's chime startles Tom and he knocks his water glass off the table, shattering it on the floor.
After dinner, while Jonathan and Tom are talking, Jonathan lights up a cigar. Tom points out that Jonathan never smoked cigars, but Jonathan explains that he had to give up cigarettes for his health. Tom doesn't tell Jonathan what has happened to him. When Jonathan asks him about marriage, he says only that her name is Alyson, leaving him to assume that it's part of the "hard times" Tom is going through. Pressed to stay the night, Tom says there is nothing at all there familiar to him, including Jonathan. He can't see a single thing from the old days. Jonathan parries that by saying it's awkward with a second marriage. He convinces Tom to stay the night, promising that there must be some memento they could search for in the morning. Tom's fear is that when his father had plastic surgery six months ago, someone else came back. His doubts increase when a dark car stops in front of the house in the middle of the night and he sees Jonathan inside talking to its occupant.
Tom begins to search the basement the next morning, trying to find something to "validate his life". Startled by his father, he drops a box of Christmas ornaments Beth had collected, breaking them. Jonathan is a little angry that Tom started hunting around, and can't understand why this is so important to Tom, who is looking for "something that connects us to the life we had." Tom is ready to leave when Jonathan suddenly remembers that there is a photograph and instructs Tom to open a heavy trunk. Tom cuts his hand on the sharp edge trying to force it open. Jonathan takes Tom to see his doctor, but it's not in a clinic, it's a practice out of a home. We hear them talking. "Why did you bring him here? You know we're not ready yet." "He's my son." "I know who he is." "Are you sure this will take care of everything?" The doctor wants to inject Tom with what he says is a tetanus shot, but Tom struggles to get away, threatening to break his arm if he doesn't drop the syringe. In the car, he gets Jonathan to describe the photograph, which Jonathan says was taken in 1965 at the county fair and has Tom and his father and a pony. It was taken by Tom's mother, in one of the few happy times for the three of them that Jonathan can remember.
Tom was already unwell, as shown in momentary weakness in two earlier scenes. He is put to bed with some aspirin. He is awakened by Beth, who has brought a basin of cool water. She begins by placing a wet towel on his forehead, then pushes his shirt up and begins kissing his chest and then his mouth. Tom pushes her away and pulls her towards him at the same time, and finally returns her passion. The door bursts open. Jonathan stands there holding a shotgun. He charges, "You would have figured it out eventually--the scars, the pretty wife, the perfect house. You know there's no photograph. You should have kept your mouth shut. Where are the negatives? We don't need you alive any more." There's a booming sound and a flash from the muzzle, and Tom is sitting up in bed perspiring--it was all a bad dream.
Jonathan and Beth are quarreling the next morning. Johnny tells Tom that it has been like this very often since the summer before when his father went away and came back with a different face. Jonathan and Tom take a drive together, and when Jonathan tries to find out what is troubling Tom, Tom begins by asking who he meets at 2:00 a.m. Jonathan claims it's a business associate. He points out that Tom still can't call him Dad, that it's always Jonathan. Tom explains emotionally that he can forgive him for not loving his mother, who they both know wasn't an easy person to love, but he can't forgive him for not loving him. Jonathan emphatically declares that he has always loved him. The barriers remain, but there seems to be a little softening of Tom's hurt. He realizes that his father is asking for trust and forgiveness, but because of the events in his life, he isn't capable of either right now. Maybe he needs to learn how to trust all over again.
Tom follows in another car when Jonathan leaves in the middle of the night. He watches in an alley as a man dressed in a suit gets into Jonathan's car. Tom is hit over the head and comes to in some sort of storeroom, with the man who hit him kicking him in the ribs. He thinks it is "them" in another attempt to get the negatives, but begins to realize that this is nothing to do with his conspiracy; this is about money which they say Jonathan owes him. Tom grabs a piece of wood and knocks down the well-dressed thug who had been kicking him. When the thug pulls a gun, Tom smashes them both with the stick and makes his escape.
Back at the Crane home, Tom confronts Jonathan and learns that he had taken some money from his company and gotten in over his head. He owes $10,000 and is taking the last payment to them now. He says Tom has always had judgmental eyes and all he can do in them is fail. Jonathan has wanted all along to mend his relationship with Tom; he now feels that they have tried and failed, and tells Tom maybe it would be better if he wasn't there when Jonathan gets back. Tom states, "You want me to trust you, but it's not so easy." They shake hands and Jonathan leaves.
Beth is disappointed that Tom is leaving. She tells him that Jonathan searched the entire house for the photograph. She says Jonathan loves him, she thinks sometimes more than he does Johnny and herself. She can't understand Tom's obsession with the photograph, but for Tom it's not the photograph itself, it's what it represents. She says since Tom came, things were actually better than they had been in a long time, that Jonathan was more like the man he used to be, instead of being torn apart by the money problems. When Tom suggests Jonathan might have been afraid of losing her, she says Tom and Jonathan are alike--they're both so blind they can't see the love that's staring them in the face. She knows Jonathan is meeting them and is frightened for him. Tom promises that he won't let them hurt Jonathan.
He goes back to the alley and sees Jonathan thrust out the back door of "Mom's Tavern", his face bloody from a beating. The two men threaten to shoot Jonathan if Tom doesn't hand over the money. Jonathan reveals that the briefcase is hidden beside the dumpster. There's a stalemate: Tom wants them to release his father first, the thug insists on the money first. Tom strikes the gun away with the briefcase, and in the struggle Jonathan comes up with the gun. Tom says they can keep the money but then it's over. The man in charge agrees, saying that a deal is a deal. Jonathan wants to go back into the tavern and buy Tom a drink, but Tom sees a dark car with two men in suits and tells Jonathan that they'd better leave.
Tom is ready to leave Morrisville, waiting for his cab. The bitterness is gone, and he leaves room for the possibility that he might return some day, but the walls are still there. Jonathan opens his arms to embrace Tom, but Tom's hand is there first for a handshake. His parting words are "See you". He still hasn't brought himself to call him Dad.
As Johnny goes into the house to get his baseball glove, we see behind the sofa a black-and-white photograph of a boy, a pony, and a man who looks like Jonathan might have as a younger man.