A young man drives to the Mendocino Coast to get away from his marital and financial problems. He goes to a quiet beach at sunset and is surprised by a seemingly homeless older man who sits on a driftwood log beside a small fire and greets him warmly. The young man is reluctant to engage at first but the older man's questions and his surprising attitude hold the young man's attention, and as the light fades he joins the old man beside the fire and shares his troubled predicament.
They are interrupted by a park ranger who says they are breaking the law by being on the beach after sunset, fires are not allowed, and they must leave right away. The old man refuses to leave and insists on telling the ranger and the young man “a short tale,” the story of The Cage.