Chicago-born Clay Maddau is an alcoholic vet who travels the interstates and backroads as a hitchhiker in an effort to come to grips with his wartime nightmares and to somehow move forward with his life and future. A chain of events one autumn Saturday night leaves him stranded in a drunken haze on the banks of the Rubine River, beneath an interstate bridge in South Carolina. Befriended the following morning by Silas, an African American vet (who senses Clay’s PTSD), he is invited to share breakfast, as well as his story. As the two travel to Silas’ church (where they have a community breakfast program), the two vets begin to bond, not only over their common military service, but, in an odd twist of fate, their very roots. In the unraveling of the story, we also learn about a young slave named Nehemiah and the compassionate wife of the callous master of a South Carolina plantation and her arrangement with the flawed, but well-meaning minister in the small town of Rubineville. Just as the various streams run together to form the Rubine River, the different story strands eventually merge to provide an insight to Clay’s future.