In Vietnam, Pvt. Pip Phillips is brought in from the field with serious shrapnel injuries to his chest.
In Los Angeles, Max Phillips wakes up screaming and looks at two photos of his son Pip: one as a child and one as a soldier.
The next day, Max is preparing for his day when the landlady Mrs. Feeny comes in and complains that the room smells of alcohol. She tells him that there's a kid downstairs to see him, and tells him to lay off the booze. Max notes there's not much he can do and then looks up as the kid, George Reynold, comes in. Max, a bookmaker, is well aware that George lost on his bet. George can't cover his bet and says he borrowed it from where he worked. Max figures that George embezzled the money but says there's nothing to do.
Later, Max goes to see his boss, Moran, who wonders where he's been for the last five days. Max pays him off but Moran wants to know why he never got the money from George. He figures Max gave the money back so Moran had George roughed up. He has his men bring George in, and the kid begs for the money. Moran warns George he shouldn't have listened to Max. Max cheerfully agrees but is interrupted when Mrs. Feeny calls to tell Max he's received a telegram from the Department of the Army. She reads it to him and he learns about Max. Once she's done, he goes to the window and looks out on the nearby amusement park and talks about how his son is dying in South Vietnam. Moran offers his consolation and Max talks about how he used to take Pip to amusement parks on Saturday nights when he wasn't too drunk or running the rackets for Moran. Max says he gave away his son Pip then gives the $300 to George from Moran's money. He denounces Moran and tells George to get out. Moran's henchman goes for his gun and Max stabs the man, getting shot in the process. He knocks Moran out and he and George get out.
The wounded Max goes to the nearby amusement park and talks to his absent son, saying he was going to change and meet him when he got off the boat. He pleads to God, asking to talk to Pip one more time. Max then staggers into the amusement park and sees a young boy up ahead: Pip, as he was years ago. Max runs to him and the two embrace. Young Pip says he's been waiting for him on the midway and that sometimes Max didn't show up. The amusement park comes to life and they go on all the rides.
Finally after visiting the shooting gallery, Pip backs away in fear and runs away. He goes into the Hall of Mirrors and Max follows him in. He's unable to find his son except in a mirror. Max apologizes for every time he neglected Pip, but Young Pip says it doesn't matter anymore. Young Pip tells him that his hour is up and he's dying. Max says that Pip is the most important thing in his life and he'll give up the booze and the crime for him. Young Pip leaves and Max slams into a mirror trying to follow him. The boy looks up from the broken mirror, saying he has to go back. Max clutches at his bleeding wound and walks back out on the midway. Looking up, he pleads with God and offers his life for Pip's. Max tries to walk away and falls to the ground, dead.
Months later, a limping Pvt. Pip comes to the amusement park and visits the shooting gallery. Pip takes a shot and remembers what his father used to say, and remembers that Max was always his best buddy.