Pepper is brought to the New Hyde mental institution, because he got into a fight with the police. He believes that the police have dropped him there, rather than do all the paperwork it would take to arrest him. He's sure that he'll be out after the weekend, but many weeks later he finds himself just another drugged out patient in the ward. They are all frightened of the wards' oldest resident, who sometimes slips into their rooms in the middle of the night, but why?
Pepper chooses to stay behind and help his fellow inmates, and by the end of the novel, he has grown and benefited from what originally seemed a mistake. This novel is filled with great lines that I wanted to highlight. It is also chock-full of humor and pathos and a cast of unforgettable characters.