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The common arena for the story is an upscale apartment cluster, Madrid Place, during four seasons in a Southwestern city where the first chapter begins, Kensy O'Brien, a naive newcomer, is found dead of an apartment suicide. The year is 1975. A large variety of tenants are described; Shell and Hunter, besides Kensy and Kathy, are the foremost characters. Shell Findley, a middle-aged playboy, runs with Hunter, an Osage Indian, of similar age and pursuits. There is description of striking Kensy's early years.Paul House, a conservative bachelor, lends contrast to his lively, sexy neighbors such as Brook, a lithe goddess, whom he adores covertly, but never reaches. A crude professional gambler is a resident who finally hits the Big One, then does not enjoy the riches when fate deals a power dive. Kathy Gonzales, a new resident, who decided to end her life earlier, conceals the step from new neighbors as she surveys romantic potential among the Madrid tenants.

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