A woman is nearly killed in an automobile accident, and after the mystical experience she discovers she has healing powers. She heals many people, and the son of a religious fanatic is attracted to her and perplexed by her.
By the ocean while walking on rocks Joe (Jeffrey DeMunn) tells his wife Edna (Ellen Burstyn) and others about a sea creature that poisons its victims and then eats them. He pretends his finger is being eaten, but he is playing a joke. While Joe is fishing, Edna walks with a friend and tells her that she is going to give Joe a new Triumph car for his birthday. She explains how she will be able to pay for it on her salary.
At home Joe and Edna make love in bed at night, and she wishes him a happy birthday. She asks for a kiss, and he says he is all kissed out. He says you can’t beat a dead horse, but she manages to find some life in his “horse.”
Edna sits on the new car with a “Happy Birthday” sign as Joe comes out from work. She gives him the key, and they get in the car. He is happy and kisses her. They drive on the coast highway, and he says it is a great present, and she a great wife. She says he is great too. She sees a boy on a skateboard crossing the road and tells him to watch out. To avoid hitting him he swerves to the right and goes off the road and the cliff. The car falls and rolls on the rocks below.
Sirens are heard, and lights flash. Surgeons work on them, and one patient dies. Edna sees lights and people looking at her. A smiling woman points the way, and she follows others. Her vision focuses on a light, and she wakes up in a hospital bed. She sees nurses, and Dr. Herron welcomes her back. She asks about Joe, and he says he is gone. She tries to sit up, and he says she will not be able to do that for a while because of injury to her lower back. He says her head is not seriously damaged. She asks why she can’t move her legs, and he says there is a blood clot in her spinal column. He says it may go away, but the main nerves in both her legs have been severed below the knee. She realizes that won’t go away ever, and he agrees.
Her father John Harper (Roberts Blossom) comes to visit Edna, and he says Grandma and others send their best. He sits down and says they had a good harvest this year. He says the higher price of diesel made it so that he broke even. He says it is hardly worth the effort anymore. He says her friends, the Krolls, helped him with the funeral arrangements. He asks if she knows what she is going to do when she gets out of here. She will think about it, and he invites her to come back home and think about it in the country. He says she can also stay with other kin there, and she will need someone to look after her. He says it was just an idea and that she can suit herself. He gets up to go, and she says she may come home for a while.
Edna sits in a wheelchair at the cemetery and talks to Joe about what she has been doing. She cries and says she was glad he liked the car, and she is really sorry. She says she does not cry often. She is puzzled because she loves him so much. She says goodbye to her sweetheart.
Edna sees the vision of light again, and Joe is there. She wakes up in the back seat of a car and asks her father John where they are. He says they are east of Needles. She says she had a crazy dream.
John stops the truck at a gas station and toots the horn. She sees a sign that says, “God is love and vice versa.” Esco (Richard Farnsworth) comes out and asks what they want. John asks him to fill it with regular. Esco notices they are from Kansas and says that is far away. He asks if she has ever been to Machu Picchu in Peru. He says the city is built on a tall mountain, and you wake up in the clouds every morning. She hopes he will get there, and he says he will. She asks to see his two-headed snake and agrees to pay a dime. He asks her to step into his office and opens the car door. She says she has a problem, and he brings the snake to her in his hands. He says both heads can eat and urges her to pet the snake that is not poisonous. She pets the snake, and he says that the Hopis believe the snake is the symbol of Mother Earth. His dog barks, and he puts the snake away. John pays $13, and Esco says he has a good Indian story for 15 cents, but John says they have a lot of driving to do. He asks her to come back and see him and tells her his name. He tells her to go carefully with peace in her heart, love in her eyes, and laughter on her tongue. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. She smiles and says goodbye.
As they drive, Edna says Joe and her came through there on their way to California. She says it is still hard for them to talk, and he asks what she wants to talk about.
The next day they arrive at an old house on flat land in the country. Grandma Pearl (Eva Le Gallienne) comes out to welcome her and kisses her on the cheek. Buck carries Edna into the house.
Edna is looking at a photo album and sees her mother’s picture when she was eighteen. Pearl says she was beautiful inside and out. Edna asks about two men, and Pearl tells her who they were. They were caught in a flood and drowned. Edna says she knows them and remembers seeing them on the other side during her vision. They look at her brother Sam in his uniform before he went to Vietnam. Pearl says so many have crossed over, and Edna bursts out crying. Pearl says it was stupid to bring out the photo album, and she closes it. She notices Edna’s right leg shaking, and Edna says it does that sometimes, but it does not mean anything. At first she thought they were coming back. She cries, and Pearl holds her.
Many relatives and friends are sitting at tables in the yard. Edna lets children at her table go off to play. Her cousin Kathy (Lois Smith) comes over and talks with her. Edna says she was away so long she does not know most of these people. Her cousin describes a man who cheats at horseshoes and two women who like to gossip. The Carpenters from West Virginia bought the Foley place ten years ago, and he is a hell-and-damnation parson. She laughs and says that their son Cal is a piece of work. She says the dog is lying low because he was whooped for eating some beef jerky. Three kids come over. They talk about a two-headed cow, and a little girl repeats the word “bull.” As she does so, blood runs from her nose. They call the doctor over. Edna says it is just a nose bleed; but Kathy says it does not stop because she is a bleeder. The doctor tells them to put her feet up. People gives suggestions. The doctor says she will be all right as soon as he gets some coagulant into her; but he finds he does not have any with him. Edna asks Kathy if she can hold her for a second. Kathy puts the child Lizzie in her lap. Edna says it is just a nose bleed as she uses a cloth to try to stop the bleeding. She tells her to say a nursery rhyme with her and promises her fifty cents when they are done. She says the bleeding will stop. She gives Lizzie back to Kathy, and the doctor asks how she did that. She says she was just scared, and she is okay now. Edna says he is making her feel like she is a bug or something. Pearl asks for Edna’s hands and says they are hot, and they made her hands hot too. Edna asks what is means, and Pearl goes to talk to Kathy. The guests leave, and Edna says it was great seeing the kids. She says it hurts not being able to have them. Pearl asks her to tell her about the dream she was having. Edna says she was in a dark tunnel, and other people are there. Suddenly she is moving backwards. Pearl asks if there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. She asks if the people there are healthy, and Edna says yes. Pearl says when she is moving back, she hears a buzzing. Edna remembers that. Pearl tells her that before they came there from Georgia, she knew a woman named Harriet who stopped breathing and seemed dead. As they were going to carry her down to the icebox, she came back to life just like she has been saying. Soon after that she started curing folks. Pearl says that maybe this accident could have opened the power to her. Edna does not believe that, and Pearl says the Lord moves in mysterious ways. She points out the beautiful sunset.
Inside Edna is thinking and says to herself that crazier things have happened. She puts her hands on her legs below the knees. She picks up her crutches and stands up with their help. She tries to take a step and falls forward on the floor. She opens a door and lets the dog in, saying she needed a friend now. She talks to the dog, offering the couch and chili.
Edna does sit-ups on the floor. In her bedroom she tries to walk with the crutches again and falls. John knocks on the door and asks if she is okay. She says she just fell. She says if she is in trouble, she will holler.
That night during a thunder storm Edna prays by the fireplace that she can do it. A bent bar falls over, and she picks it up. Edna is crawling to try to get back to her wheelchair. She sits on the couch and tells her toes to move. She shouts and tells the dog Clancy she can’t do it. She says she gives up. She tells a fly to scram, and her foot moves. She realizes that her big toe moved. She does it again and shows it to Clancy who barks. She thanks the great big wonderful power in the universe.
Outside Edna in her wheelchair tells the doctor that he will love this. She says she is not wearing her braces and takes her canes and stands on her own. She hands one cane to the doctor and tells them to watch her right leg. She takes a small step with the right foot. She gives the doctor the other cane, and moves her left foot. She walks four steps and is about to fall over backward when the man with the wheelchair moves it forward for her to sit down. The doctor uses a pin to see where she feels it on her legs. Kathy is kneeling by her, and Pearl comes over and gives Edna a hug. Edna asks her father what he thinks. He says he expects if she gets to walking, she will be leaving again. She says she is not thinking about that now. John walks away.
While sitting on a bench on the porch Pearl tells Edna that the power is a gift for God’s work. Edna tells her about the gas station where they saw the sign that God is love and versa vice. Edna says she does not know anything about God; but if love is God, she guesses she could try it.
In a living-room an old man says a doctor told him that it spread to his spine and hip bones. He asks Ellie what the use is, but she tells her papa that it will not do any harm. Suddenly Buck comes in and says Cal was injured in a knife fight and is bleeding so badly that he does not think he will make it to the hospital.
Edna walks with a cane out to the back of a pickup truck where two men are trying to stop blood coming from the stomach of Cal (Sam Shephard). He tells them to get a bottle and give her a drink. Buck says she is going to try to help him. Cal call her darling, and she asks the others to hold him. He faints, and she thanks God and puts her hands over the wound. She prays silently and asks for a towel. She removes her hands, and a man says it stopped. She tells them to get him to the hospital as soon as they can.
As others watch, Edna holds the forearm of a young man. He lifts his arm and hugs a woman. Edna is holding her hands over an older man’s ears and asks how long he has been deaf. A woman says for 21 years. When he had a throat infection, a doctor gave him streptomycin, and his hearing went. Edna removes her hands and asks if he can hear now. He says he can hear, and he stands up and embraces the woman. A man says it is a fake. Harvey says it is not because he can hear. A friend asks him what is the best thing to put into pies, and Harvey says “Your teeth.” Harvey and the woman embrace Edna, and she says goodnight. Earl Carpenter (Richard Hamilton) stands up and says he has been watching her healings and that she has never mentioned scripture once. He asks what is the source of this power, and she says she does not know. Earl thinks she does and says she won’t name it because it is from the other place. She asks where that is. He says it is hell itself, because if this were the work of the Holy Spirit, she would speak his name. He would speak his name through her. He says even if she heals hundreds or thousands, these works are damned. He says Isaiah said it, that her hands are defiled with blood, and her lips have spoken lies. Cal gets disgusted and walks away. Earl says how Matthew said that false prophets will arise and do wonders and lead people astray. Edna says goodnight to everyone, and the people applaud. Earl says that in his name will the true believers cast out demons.
As Edna comes outside, Cal rides his motorcycle over to her and says that her hands are defiled with blood. She says that is cute. He says she should have stayed because he was just getting warmed up and went to Jeremiah and Ezekiel. She says she heard enough. He walks behind her and asks if she really stopped him from bleeding. She turns and says he stopped bleeding while she was there. If he wants to connect them, that is up to him. He asks her to have a drink with him. She says no thanks because she has had enough of his family for one day. He says it is not fair to blame him for old hellfire. He just came to say thank you and suggests one drink. He asks if she afraid of hurting her image. He asks if she is afraid of him. She puts a scarf in her truck and asks him to tell her about that fight he had. He says the turkey is doing two to five now. She asks if it was over a woman, and he asks why she wants to know that. She says she was just curious and opens the door. He asks her again to go for a drink so that he can thank her. He says it won’t kill her. She says okay to one thank you drink. He says he will meet her at the Red Gap.
At the bar Edna asks Cal if his father was always like that. He says when he was thirteen, he had to memorize Matthew, Luke, and John, or he got the razor strap. She says it is no wonder he gets into fights. He says the old man is really something. He says he got 52 stiches and asks if she wants to see them. She says not particularly. He stands up to show her, and the men in the bar start saying that Cal is showing off his stitches again. He tells them to shut up and sits down. He says this comes from mingling with low life. She says he said it. He says he has a theory about this healing because his father hauled him and ma around to tent meetings in several states. His theory is that those cured have the sickness in their minds. Then when someone prays over them and lays on their hands and if they believe that person can make them well, then they are cured. He says they cure themselves in their minds; but the really sick ones stay sick. He believes his father is right that she should give them some scripture with her healing. He suggests she dust off her Bible, and she says she will keep that in mind. He says he is an expert on the good book and could help her out. He suggests they can work at her place or at his. He says he has a room down the street, and they could start tonight. She asks what he wants, and he asks what he can get. She suggests he start with the check. He reaches for his wallet, and she says then he can get lost. She stands up and walks off. He calls to her and says she never got to see his stitches. She says she knows and walks on.
Edna in a field with a few people listening says that last week Earl Carpenter asked how she did her healing, and she has been thinking about that. She thought she would tell them what happens to her when she does it. She says a person stands in front of her, and they are hurting and scared. She says somehow, and don’t ask her how, she just kind of becomes them. She starts feeling hurt and scared and sick. It is like she feels them; but there is the other self outside of them that wants to reach out and make the pain go away, like a mother does for her child. She does not want anyone to think that she denies Jesus because she doesn’t. She does not know how the power comes to her; but she knows that it does, and she offers it to them in the name of love. Sam and Pearl are among those listening.
At night Cal arrives on his motorcycle and knocks on the door. Inside Edna is working at the kitchen counter and says she is not home. He comes in and says in that case he won’t come in. The dog barks, and she says his name is Clancy. He touches the dog, looks around, and says this is real comfy. She asks what he wants and realizes she already asked him that. She asks if it has changed any. He says it surprises him that after that little speech she gave today that she can still think the worst of people. She serves some food, and he says that smells good. He says he forgot to eat today, and she says to make himself at home. She puts some in another bowl and hopes he likes Beefaroni. He says he loves it. They sit at the table and eat while the radio plays music softly. He says it is terrific and that she could open a restaurant. He says it is far from town and figures it must get lonely. She says she likes it that way. He remembers how quiet it was when he lived with his folks, especially when they turned the radio off. He gets up and turns the radio off and then sits on her bed. He says that is quiet, and he can hear her breathing. He says that was real good and lies back on the bed. She says it is not polite to eat and run, but she will forgive him this time. She stands up to remove the dishes. He asks what she is doing tonight, and she says she is asking him to leave. He asks why, and she says she thinks he knows why. He says that is more reason for staying, but she says she would really like him to leave. He pauses and says okay. He stands up and says they could shake hands. He takes her hand and says it looks ordinary to him. He asks to see the other one and takes it in his hands. He points out her long life line. She starts to walk by him, and he gently puts both hands on her and says that she says she can feel the sick. He fondles her hair and asks what else she can feel. He kisses her for a while, and she walks by him and slowly opens the door. He says she does not want that. She tells Clancy to scram because this is private. The dog goes out, and she closes the door. He walks over to her, and they kiss again.
In the morning a cock crows, and Cal says he is with him and feels the same way. They are in bed together, and Edna says she expected him to say something like that. He says it wasn’t bad and asks if she agrees. She smiles and says super-stud strikes again. He says he did not mean it like that but that it was remarkable. They both laugh. She puts her head on his shoulder and says it has been a long time. He says the drought is over, and they kiss.
Edna rides with Cal on his motorcycle. They walk by the river, and she says that Kathy and she used to come there and go skinny dipping. He asks if that is an invitation, and she asks if he wants to give it a rest. He says it has been hours, and he needs some healing. He says he has a problem, and she better lay her hands on it. He says he has faith in her. They straddle a log facing each other and kiss and embrace.
In a large pavilion with no walls many people have gathered for Edna’s healing. She stands up and tells a couple she is sorry and that it is best for them to take the young woman now. Pearl asks her if she could not help her. Edna says some people need their sickness to get love and attention, and some need it to give those things. It is not for her to judge the right and wrong. The doctor brings one more patient and tells Edna that he has seen her X-rays that show she has degeneration of two lumbar vertebrae. She says she has not seen them, and so she is ahead of him. The woman was carried on a stretcher, and Edna asks if there is much pain. The woman indicates there is. Edna puts one hand under her back and the other on her stomach as the woman moans and then sighs. Edna says that is better. She removes her hands and asks her to try to sit up. She takes her hands and tells her she can sit up now. She lifts her, and she says it is not too much pain. The woman sits upright and laughs with relief. Edna asks her to stand and says she can do it. The woman doubts it, but Edna moves her legs around to the ground and takes her hands and pulls her to a standing position. She lets go and says she is standing. The woman smiles and opens her arms, and Edna gives her a hug. Edna says she is wonderful. The woman thanks her, and Edna blesses her. The woman hugs her children and her husband. Edna asks if she would like to take a few steps because she can walk now. The woman asks if she can. She has Carla take her right hand, and her husband is holding her left hand. She walks a little, and people applaud. Edna hugs her and says that is enough for one day. She has two men make a chair for her and carry her out. Edna tells the doctor to take some new pictures.
Edna is walking away with Cal, and others walk behind her. Dr. Paul Hankins introduces himself and Joyce Baxter and says they are from the California Institute of Psychology. She introduces Cal and agrees to talk with them. Joyce says they have watched her and are convinced that her work is genuine. Hankins says they are scientists and have watched people who claim to do what she does; but upon closer investigation most of it falls apart. He says that her healings seem to be effective and are sustained. Joyce says there are some who can heal as she does by harnessing the same kind of power. Edna asks what power that is, and Hankins says they don’t know; but there are various theories—cold electron emission, bioplasmic energy, and etheric energy. As she gets into her truck, she says that sounds complicated. She asks what it matters as long as it works. Joyce says it does not always work, and she asks if she has been 100% effective. Edna admits she misses about 30% of the time. Hankins says they have some machines that can measure and record these things in different ways. They would like her to come back and do some tests for them at their expense. Edna says it would be like a guinea pig. He agrees, and she says no thanks. Joyce asks why not, and Edna says what is going on here has to do with people and feelings, not wires and machines. She says it does not feel right to her. He gives her his card and asks her to think about it. Joyce says it would mean a lot to them and to other people. Edna says she will think about it.
Cal is driving the truck, and Edna says it sounds like a Frankenstein movie. She asks Cal if something is the matter. He says he does not feel like talking about it now.
Cal comes in and gets a bottle and a glass, sits on the bed, and pours himself a drink. He gets up and looks in drawers and takes out a Bible. He kneels by the bed and opens it.
Later Edna is in bed while he is in a chair with the bottle, and she asks him to talk with her. She asks how bad it can be. He says he sees the way people come to them and what she does for them. She asks if it does not fit into his theory. He says it doesn’t because it is not like those tent shows. He says the whole things feels like it is something … holy. She says it is just the holiness of love. She says she is not the holy ghost and not exactly the virgin Mary either. He tells her to shut up and not talk like that. She gets angry and says she will talk in whatever damn way she pleases. He gets up and puts on his shirt. She asks what is the matter with him and says she does not understand him. He agrees she doesn’t. She says he is not much help, and he is sorry about that. He puts on his jacket and says he will see her. He goes out and closes the door.
Edna hears a knock and goes to the door expecting Cal. She opens the door, and her father says she is nothing but trash, always has been and always will be. She asks if they are back to that again. He says she has a lot of folks fooled, but he sees what is going on here. He thought she might have changed; but now she is bringing her whoring home. She tries to close the door; but he stops her and comes in saying she is the same bitch in heat. She picks up her cane to defend herself. He says he wants her gone. He does not care where; he just wants her out of his sight. He never wants to see her again and asks if he is making himself clear. She says he is. He says the sooner the better and turns to go. She says she will go and never wants to see him again either.
She follows him and says he is a hard and stupid old man without any love and understanding. She is sick to death of trying to get him to love her. She starts crying and runs back inside. She kneels on the floor.
Cal is reading the Bible aloud to himself about the power of the serpent. He hears a knock and asks who it is. He opens the door, and Edna says she is leaving for Los Angeles and asks if he wants to come.
At the Institute Edna is alone in a room while they test her ability to influence the direction of a beam of light any way at all. She puts her hands near it. They are watching her pulse and temperature readings. Slowly the beam begins to bend where her hands are.
In bed together Cal sits up, and Edna says it is okay. She says it happens that way sometimes,. He lights a cigarette. She says she had a friend who used to say there is no such thing as a bad lay; it is either good or better. He reminds her that he doesn’t like her talking that way. She asks why not, and he says it does not suit her. She asks if he wants hallelujahs and amens. He wants to know what is happening to her. She says someone she cares about is getting very weird on her. She says she can’t even touch him anymore without him getting cold and funny. He tells her to look at what she has been doing and asks if she calls that normal. She says yes and says he is beginning to sound like his father. He says if he does, it is because she is scaring the hell out of him with this stuff. She asks why it scares him. He says it is too much power and asks if she can see that. He says there is something else working here. She asks him to tell her what it is. He says it is for her to tell him and that she knows that. He has nothing more to say about it until she does. She replies that is great and says it was nice talking to him. She tells him to keep in touch and rolls over away from him.
In a classroom at the Institute a doctor tells people in the audience that they are conducting a scientific experiment in which the bona fide healer Edna McCauley will see if she can heal Louise Cockner who suffers from dystonia musculorum deformans. He says that stereotaxic cryosurgery has produced some relief in some cases. Louise has had the surgery, but no relief is evident. He asks Edna if she would like to say anything. Her hands are on the left knee and ankle of Louise, and she says no thank you. He says she may begin. Edna tells Louise that she does not know if she can help her; but she will try if that is all right. Louise says it is okay if she can’t; she has never known anything else. Edna lifts her head a little and puts one hand under head and the other over her stomach. She says she may feel warmth from her hands. She removes her hands and says she wants to get on the bed with her. She moves Louise and climbs on the bed and lets Louise lay on her. Edna puts her left hand on her chest, and their heads are touching. Louise is grimacing as is Edna. They both seem to be suffering, and Edna’s right hand takes the peculiar shape of Louise’s hand. The doctor asks Joyce and Hankins if anything like this has ever happened before, and they shake their heads. Cal sees that Louise’s legs are straightening, and he tells people to look. Edna kicks off her shoes and falls on the floor in contortions. Cal goes to her and holds her in his arms. Dr. Hankins comes to her, and Cal pushes him away and tells him to get away from her. Louise starts crying and moving her arms and hands normally as she says, “God bless you.” The doctor touches her shoulder. As Cal holds Edna, she slowly straightens out her legs and arms. She sees the light again and her father.
Edna wakes up in a hospital bed. Cal says she has been out for two days and asks how she is feeling. She asks how Louise is, and he says she is well. He does not know how, but she is. She says that is wonderful. He says some reporters outside want to talk to her. She says her father is dying. He says they called yesterday about her father and asks how she could know that. She asks him to get the nurse for her. She says she wants to see him before he goes.
At the old house John is lying in bed on his back with his eyes open. Edna says she wanted that baby and that she did not feel any shame for not being married. She says, God help her, that she let him bring that old horse doctor in here to kill that little girl and scrape her out so that nothing would ever grow inside her again. She asks what happened that made him so hard. What hurt him that made him stop loving her. She says he drove them all away from him—mama in her silence until she died of grief and Sam to Vietnam where he was killed. She gets on the bed and asks him to listen. She wants him to know that she still loves him, and she can help him now. She knows that he knows he is dying; but she says he does not have to. She knows that he is afraid, but he does not have to be. She explains that when she had that accident, she died for a few minutes; but she saw it, and it is beautiful. She says everyone is there—Mama, Sam, and Joe and Mr. Condon the grocer and Mr. Stratton. She asks if he remembers him. She says there is music, and you feel like you understand everything, and you don’t feel your body anymore. She says the light is so bright and loving, and you can feel it reaching out for you, and everyone who is there is helping you do it. Then you begin to understand that you are made of the same light. She touches his face, and his eyes blink. She says Grandma Pearl is there with Uncle Levi and Aunt Carrie and everybody. She has been telling them about it, and they want to come and say goodbye to him. A boy is playing a harmonica.
Edna is kneeling at the foot of the bed when John makes a sound. She gets up and sits on the side of the bed, and Clancy lies on the other side. She asks her father to tell her what it is. He says it is the light. She smiles and says yes. He looks at her, and she looks at him.
Cal is sitting on a bed and reads that there appeared a great wonder and a woman with the sun and moon under her feet and a crown of stars on her head. He also reads about how he cured many and helped the blind see and the dear hear.
Cal comes in and finds Edna sitting at her desk. He says she cannot deny him anymore, but she has to declare him. He says she has his power. He has seen it, and she is his power. He says the woman was bent, and she made her straight. He says the Christ is making himself known through her. He says she heals; she dies; and she comes back to life. He asks how many more proofs she needs. He believes she has the power of prophecy. He says she knew her pa was dying. She stands up and tells him to stop. He says he denied him, and he almost died; but he saved him through her. He says the power is here and that it is her. He takes ahold of her and says he is making himself known. He wants her to say it. She says she wants him to get out of here right now. He pushes her onto the bed and says she is the living Christ. She says no. He says she is the resurrection, the fulfillment of his promise to us. She says she is not the living Christ, and she asks him to believe her that she is not. He leaves.
Cal is loading a rifle and says he never will forget his precepts. He says the wicked deny him, but he considers his testimonies.
In a field Edna says a man went to a doctor and said his foot hurts. The doctor said that is just old age. He says my left foot is just as old, and how come that doesn’t hurt. People laugh.
Cal rides his motorcycle with his rifle.
Edna says the hypochondriac put on his tombstone and asking people to see that he really was sick.
As Cal rides by the gathering, he points his rifle at them. A man shouts that he has a gun, and people panic. He shoots Edna in the shoulder, and three men restrain him. She tells them not to hurt him. She says he did not mean it and did not know what he was doing. She begs them not to hurt him.
By her little house two men finish loading Edna’s truck. Pearl asks her to change her mind, and Edna says no. She agrees that it seems like she is always leaving. A man asks her to tell them where she is going, but she says she does not know. She wants to drive around and see what she can see. She will call them when she gets located. She shakes hands with Jack and Buck and thanks them. Kathy kisses Edna, and they say goodbye. Pearl tells them to go on so that she can have a private goodbye. Pearl says it seems like she had her own Calvary here, and she asks if they let her see him. She says she tried to see him, but he did not want to see her. Pearl says he will have some time to think about it. Edna says that in high school she read about Joan of Arc. She was just thinking how crazy everything is. She was burned for hearing voices, and she was almost got for not hearing them. She says she can’t win for losing, but Pearl says she is not losing anything. Pearl kisses her cheek and says she got this feeling that this will be the last time they saw each other in this world. Edna cries and asks her to save her a good place on the other side. Pearl says she will save it. They clasp hands, and Edna tells her Grandma that she loves her. Pearl says that is it. If we could just love each other as much as we say we love him, she expects there would not be the bother there is in the world. They laugh and walk out to the truck. The others leave in their two trucks, and Edna drives her truck alone.
The rain blows down the windmill on the old place which deteriorates.
On the highway in a mobile home the young parents of a sick boy tell him about the exciting things they will see. They stop at Last Chance Gas. the man gets out and asks if anyone is home. Edna with gray hair comes out and says she has been working on a gear. She says they do not make things like they used to. She pumps the gas and says hi to the boy. He asks his mother for a cold drink, and Edna tells him to help himself. She tells the parents that the boy looks pretty sick. The father says it is cancer of the liver. His mother says they thought they would take him on a trip so that he could see some things. Edna recommends the long boat rides on Lake Powell. The boy comes back with a puppy, and Edna says that is Clancy the third. She asks the couple if they are in a hurry, and they say no. She asks if they like desert plants, and they say they do. She says she has a rock garden with a fantastic assortment of desert plants. She suggests they look at it while she talks with Bobby. Edna kneels down and tells Bobby that the dog must like him because he does not snuggle up to everybody like that.
Edna shows Bobby the preserved two-headed snake in a bottle. She says she was there a long time ago when she was alive. She looks at a photo of Esco at Machu Picchu. She decided not to charge him because he is dead. She finishes the strange story of Injun Joe. Some people still believe that sometimes you can hear screaming and see the faces of the dead man floating around without any bodies. She says she would not go up there for a million bucks, and he agrees with her. She ask if it hurts, and he says they give him pills for it. He guesses that he is dying because he hears them talking about it. Sometimes they don’t know he can hear them. He wishes it would not make them so sad. She asks if he would like to keep the puppy. He would, but he is not sure he would be around to take care of him. She tells him not to worry about that and puts a hand on his head. The parents comes back and says they were beautiful. He asks how come they are blooming in September, and Edna says that is the darnedest thing. Bobby asks if he can have the dog, and his father says he is afraid that—but Edna interrupts and says the dog and the boy are just about stuck together now. She says he will not be any trouble, and the mother says sure. The father offers to pay her for him, and Edna says no. He pays for the gas. She says the boy can pay her for the dog with one big hug. During the hug she holds her hands on his back. They thank each other.
This spiritual drama based on experiences of some people who have died temporarily and come back to life explores the reactions of different people to one who can love well and has spiritual gifts.