In the distant future in a barren landscape where people live in the ruins, an old man notices a woman stitching and compliments her on her wool. When he notes that it is so rare, she runs away in terror.
The Old Man continues on and notices a young man rolling a cigarette and smoking. He talks of cigarettes from the old days but the young man takes offense and says they're surrounded by bomb crated. The young man talks of the 80s and the last time he had friends, and the Old Man talks of candy bars, lemons, and oranges. The young man warns that the police would come after the old man if they heard him, and then beats him. The old man insists on remembering and is beaten for his efforts but the young man finally starts sobbing and runs off.
A Stranger steps forward and condemns the old man for a fool, and offers to take him home. The Stranger realizes the young man attacked the Old Man because he was bringing back the past, and the dangerous memories involved. As sirens go off, the Stranger takes the Old Man into a basement chamber where he and his wife offer the Old Man food and wine. They share a toast and the Stranger explains that the Old Man will lead them out of limbo and help them rebuild.
The Stranger wonders what makes the Old Man tick, and why he speaks of his memories despite the beatings. He starts to talk of a movie he saw as a child, but the police beat on the door and the Stranger gets the Old Man out while his wife lets them in. They offer a week's ration for the Old Man but the Stranger and his wife insist they know nothing. Once the police leave, the Old Man wonders why they didn't claim the reward. The Stranger tells him that he'll find out and sends his wife to get everyone else in the apartment house. He insists that the Old Man tell everyone his memories at one time, and begs him to tell them his gospel.
The residents gather and the Old Man begins. He realized that when the world fell apart, he remembered an old picture and a song, and he sang the song. He realized it was a way of life, and he knew he could offer a world that was forgetting of his own memories. The Old Man discovered that the more he remembered, the more he could remember, and speaks of all the things he saw and remembers still. He admits that he doesn't remember literature, and all he can offer is the mediocre. As a man slips away, the Old Man insists that those who can remember, should remember and must remember. His own gift might be memorable, but he insists he must dream himself worthy.
The man who slipped away goes to the police and sends them in.
The Old Man speaks of giving memories back and rebelling against those who would restrict memories. The police pound on the door and the Stranger gets the Old Man out through a hidden passage. He gives the Old Man a one-way ticket to the Chicago Abyss, the bomb crater where the city once was. On the edge of it live people, and the Stranger tells the Old Man to tell them not to forget. He asks the Old Man to forget him and to keep his mouth shut in the open. The Old Man wonders if the apartment dwellers remember, and the Stranger assures them that they do and they will. As he goes, the Old Man asks why the Stranger does it, and he admits he wanted to remember but he couldn't. They embrace and then the Old Man goes.
Aboard the train to Chicago, the Old Man walks among the passengers and tries to remember not to speak of what he remembers. However, he sees a young a boy and soon begins to share his memories once more.
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