Jack Cooper is an unhappy man, mind, body, and spirit. In the blink of an eye he has lost his longstanding job to the economy, his mother to illness, and his wife to her secret lover. Beaten, broken, and crippled by tragedy, he withdraws into total isolation, narrowing his life down to the simplest of routines in order to block out the pain. His day begins with a strenuous workout at the Bethesda Health Club, his personal oasis where his mind and body can be free, and ends in his tiny apartment, where he escapes from reality with his books until he can lose himself in sleep. Nothing more, nothing less. That is, until he meets the enigmatic Mike Parrish. Stolen from the hospital as a newborn and passed around from household to household, Parrish has no official identification. To the government and the world at large, he does not exist. He is an anonymous drifter, but also the first person who breaks through Cooper's emotional confinement. Cooper finds solace in his friendship with Parrish, a man who understands his plight and is sympathetic to his pain. But then Parrish suddenly disappears, leaving Cooper to search for a virtually invisible man. As he looks for clues as intangible as ghosts, and chases leads as fleeting as shadows, his search leads him back to the one place he called his refuge: the Bethesda Health Club. How much can be taken from a man before he has nothing to lose?