After five years in a prison for the criminally insane, autistic Manny returns to Reno. He moves into a motel, and takes a job as a clerk at the Hotel El Cortez.
He is befriended by Popcorn, a crippled prospector who seeks his help to persuade Russo, a wealthy gambler, to invest in Popcorn's gold mine. But Manny cannot escape his past.
He is hounded by Arnie, the vengeful cop who arrested him. Arnie leans on Manny to keep tabs on Jack, a dealer who is staying at the hotel. In the meantime, Jack's girlfriend, Theda learns about the gold mine, and starts putting the moves on Manny.
Soon Manny is caught in a labyrinth that leads to a murderous triple cross.