The play opens at a small clothing store in a working class section of Philadelphia. Larry (18) watches as his father, Marty (50) completes a sale. During the sale it’s revealed that following college Larry and his father plan to go into business together at a more upscale area. Soon after, Marty impresses Larry with his ability to answer complex math problems in his head. As Larry exits to get a broom, two men enter intending to commit a robbery. Through guile, Marty is not only able to deflect the robbery but entices the robbers to buy clothes for Christmas.
Larry enters college and through a class discussion on interest rates, makes a profound impression upon the professor. Meeting later the same day, the professor suggests he would make better use of his talents working in the financial industry rather than go into business with his father. Larry informs his father that he’s changed his mind about going into business together and states his desire to become a stockbroker. Marty is angry and tries to convince him otherwise, but Larry remains adamant. Marty begrudgingly relents.
Larry achieves great success as a financial advisor and is promoted to regional vice-president of the firm. At the announcement ceremony Larry learns that his picture will be in the following day’s newspaper. Though eleven years have passed since he entered the financial industry, Larry nevertheless feels guilty about what transpired between him and his father. As a result, he makes every effort to conceal his success. He therefore asks his sister Barbara to take Marty’s newspaper the following morning so as not to see his picture. Though she considers the entire enterprise wholly unnecessary and ridiculous. Nevertheless, she agrees to do it.
Ten years pass and the mayor of Philadelphia appoints Larry budget director. Again, Larry asks Barbara not only to take Marty’s newspaper, but take him out to dinner so as not to see him on the evening news. Barbara adamantly refuses but relents on condition he tells Marty the truth about himself. The following day as Marty is eating breakfast at a diner, a friend informs him of Larry’s appointment as budget director. Marty is shocked and confronts Larry that evening. Larry admits to everything which provides him great emotional relief.
Larry brings Marty to his office the following day. Amidst a heated discussion with his advisors about city finances, Larry asks Marty if he could provide some advice. During the conversation Marty becomes confused and agitated causing Larry to realize that Marty is no longer the shrewd and clear-minded man he had always known. As Larry’s term is ending the mayor comes to his office to thank him for his hard work and suggests he run for public office. Larry calls Barbara and tells her to steal Marty’s paper as he intends to announce for mayor. Both laugh as the play ends.