The protagonist shall be a geek in his 30s, a programmer, or maybe a quant. His name is Andy Marvell, but, as Bill Blake before him, he's not really into poetry, preferring sitcoms instead. Laid off from his last gig (a trading software shop in downtown San Francisco) and abandoned by his girlfriend, Andy decides to restart his life by moving to Chicago for a position at a large hedge fund, seemingly unaffected by the economy's prolonged downturn. Sitting idly in SFO departure area, he halfheartedly begins to flirt with a strange girl who gazes at him with her piercing grey eyes. She's a liberal arts major from Berkeley and, after learning the object of his trip, warns him that it will come to no good. Suddenly, their fellow travelers all rush up to TV screens to watch an announcement from the then Federal Reserve chairman. (The story is actually set somewhere around 2013, so a few decent low-latency trading terminals are already available for iPad 4.) The girl makes a few more of her nasty remarks and departs, leaving Andy in a state of puzzlement and inexplicable longing for something he is bound to lose forever.
The Chicago hedge fund is run by an impulsive jerk loosely modeled on Kenneth Griffin. He dislikes Andy from the start and decides to perform one of his infamous day 1 firings, mostly, as usual, to put the fear of God into the current employees. On the night of what was supposed to be his first working day Andy drinks himself silly and does some stupid things, like being fucked by a hysterical chick soaking with antidepressants, who by chance happens to be an aging wife of Ken's elder brother. The brother, who suffers from untreatable ED, catches the pair in flagrante delicto and tries to shoot both of them, but is being shot himself by Andy who, scared like shit, frantically grabs a pistol from the dying woman's hand.
In the morning Andy awakes at some unknown place in Garfield Park, aided by a sad Iraqi immigrant guy named Osama, or Sammy. Sammy is gay and gets a bit crushed on Andy when seeing him unconscious and helpless, inside a posh roadster parked in a bad neighborhood. He takes pity on Andy and drives him to his decrepit apartment. Sammy used to be a devout Salafi, but has been ostracized by his kinsmen for his homosexuality and the general lack of zeal. He lives on temp low-paying jobs and reads a lot, although somewhat unsystematically. His mind is so far off-balance that it is hard to say whether he really believes Andy to be a reincarnation of 17th century English poet or just finds it funny to role-play that way.
They have breakfast together, preying on Sammy's surprisingly well-stocked fridge, and watch TV when the news break out on the high-profile double murder that happened last night. The police is looking for Andy, but vengeful Ken Griffin also hires a private detective agency, not really believing that cops can be any efficient. It is possible he's also mad because his favorite Porsche Boxster is stolen. Realizing that the car will give them immediately away, Sammy gives a call to Eddie, a friend of his, a large-framed black drug dealer, who buys the car off him for a pitiful ten grand. Sammy then decides that he and Andy will go to New York, although he hasn't yet formed any definite plans as for what they'll be doing there.
A standard road movie ensues, with cops and detectives constantly at the heels of the motley duo. The guys are hitchhiking, planning to go first across the rustbelt and then over Appalachians into upstate New York. They stay in motels on their way. Sammy is falling ever more in love with Andy, but for Andy the idea of gay sex is repugnant, so Sammy's passion remains unconsummated until the very end. Sammy, driven crazier with every passing day, decides instead to become a spiritual guide for Andy, citing tons of some profound Sufi shit (half of it actually borrowed from Frank Herbert), but constantly diverting into metaphysical conceits and love poetry of the original Marvell and his colleagues. A teetotaler before, he discovers the joy of booze, partaking in the cheap whisky that Andy buys and consumes in prodigious quantities. Inebriated, he begins to recite Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" loudly, particular about the point it makes.
Shortly after crossing the Pennsylvania border via Interstate 80, the truck the guys are riding is stopped by the road police. They first spot the lanky, dark-featured Sammy and, in a Muslim-bashing rage, drag him out and strip-search him, making insulting jokes in the process. Andy, hungover and misanthropic, emerges from the cabin and attracts attention of one of the cops, who recognizes him because he has seen Andy's photo in the arrest warrant. "You Andrew Marvell?", asks he. "Yes, I am," responds Andy, "Do you know my poetry?", and then proceeds by shooting down in cold blood all the cops and then the astonished truck driver, thinking vaguely that he might rat on them. Sammy helps him to drag the bodies quickly into the hedge, while the road is still empty. They are pressed for time, but Sammy suggests they move off the I-80. So they get back into the truck and soon turn north into the Oil Country (some visuals of oil rigs against menacing skies are clearly in order).
Bob, the private detective with a dark past, hired by Griffin, follows the couple closely. His trained eye easily spots the traces of the roadside mêlée and he then discovers the hidden bodies. Not keen to alert the police, so they don't interfere with his mission, he uses his own sources to identify the driver and find out the runaway truck's registration.
At the edge of Allegheny Forest, the guys drop the truck and, at night, steal a Ford Ranger from some local. Bob is undeterred by this cunning trick and continues to gradually catch up with them. Up at the slopes of the plateau Bob for the first time catches the glimpse of the guys' pickup rapidly moving over Route 666 (the route number should be exploited to the full by using lots of macabre woodland imagery). Bob speeds up and begins to shoot at the fleeing vehicle, but Andy shoots back, blows one of Bob's tires and sends Bob's car spiraling down into a bush-covered swale. Still, Bob's last bullet hits Andy on the left side of his chest. Despite Sammy's clumsy attempts to dress the wound with his hands shaking from both fear and love, Andy is bleeding heavily and moving into and out of unconsciousness.
The Ford, driven by Sammy, travels over Highway 6 and then, shortly before Fort Montgomery, turns south down the Hudson valley towards New York. On the night before arriving to the great city, Sammy, exhausted, parks the car in the middle of nowhere and falls asleep. Before dawn, Andy awakes from his deep slumber, looks out of the window and has a vision of Christ, in the form of Griffin's dead brother, rising from the East and telling Andy that he is damned for eternity, the salvation is denied him, that he is already dead after being killed back in Allegheny Forest, and Sammy is a minor angel ordered to escort him all the way down to the Gate of Hell. Andy despairs at first, but then crawls outside of the car and, limping and stumbling, tries to escape his fate.
The car is parked in an unknown suburb and in one of the alleys Andy encounters an early jogger, a jovial elderly man. The man begins to chat with Andy, but soon gets appalled by his ghoulish look and incoherent speech. He runs away, pulls out his cellphone and tries to dial a number. Andy, understanding that he might call the police or 911, kills him with several shots through his back, but then, having expended all his remaining strength, collapses and, with his face to the sky, watches the mocking face of Christ assembling from the whirling clouds lit red by the sun rising through the morning mists. Sammy, awoken by the shooting and Andy's absence, runs to him, drags him back to the car and hurriedly drives away.
Later the same day they cross Hudson over GWB, speed through Bronx, and finally end up before the gates of an inconspicuous warehouse in the southern part of Randalls Island. Sammy calls the number that Eddie, his Chicago friend, gave him, and asks to speak with Mr. Joey Newton. Joey is a charismatic leader of a black gang, running his operations from this very warehouse. Joey's boys earn some money from an independent drug network, but mostly function as hired guns, working as a strike force for the big New York cartel of which Joey is a member. Joey is in his 50s, bald, with slightly bulging eyes and low, powerful voice. He is Muslim and has a PhD in anthropology from Columbia. Eddie's recommendation opens the doors to Sammy and Andy and Sammy urges the people in the warehouse to take care of Andy, believing that he is about to die. The gang's HQ are well equipped and staffed, so Andy is provided with quite competent medical care. Lying on a bed at the rear end of the warehouse, Andy peers out of a small latticed window and sees a massive bridge over a river, black against the crimson sunset. "What's that bridge called?", he asks the doctor. "Hell's Gate Bridge," answers the doctor, "This strait of East River has been called Hell's Gate since the time of the Dutch." Andy fixes his gaze firmly on the bridge, while a long freight train is passing, and then closes his eyes and sinks back onto a pillow.
Next morning Joey himself pays a visit to Andy. Andy is physically better, but is still weak and totally unhinged mentally. He talks at length of his desire to become a shahid and bring as many people down with him as possible. He says that the time is of essence for him, noting somewhat mysteriously that he's been dead for too long already and must finally fulfill his mission. Sammy, being present at the meeting, tries to play these words down as a sign of mental strain and asks the doctor to use a strong tranquilizer, but Joey doesn't allow that and in his reverberating voice asks everyone to be silent. He looks Andy in the eye for a minute and Andy feels unable to break the eye contact. Joey then solemnly says that he grants Andy's request (although no explicit request has been made) and that he will provide Andy with equipment and a support from his best foot soldiers. Sammy is stricken with horror and begins to weep, but, after meeting Joey's gaze, stops.
Outside the warehouse, the doctor is leaving the place in his car. Suddenly, Bob emerges from the rear seat and puts his gun to the doctor's head. Bob has recovered from the showdown in Allegheny Forest and finally traced the guys down to their final destination. Bob tells the doctor to drive over Triboro Bridge across the river and then takes him out to a quiet place near the waterfront in Astoria Park. It rains heavily, and there's nobody around. Bob beats and tortures the doctor, and finally learns about the planned operation. He then methodically clubs the doctor over the head with a piece of iron, so doctor's face becomes an unrecognizable mess, removes doctor's clothes and belongings and disposes of the body by tying a weight to its legs and throwing it into the Hell's Gate waters. Understanding that he is out of his depth with Joey's gang, Bob gets in touch with the FBI.
On the next day, Andy, accompanied by Sammy and four of Joey's boys (sunglasses, sleek grey suites, light step of a relaxed panther), arrives on Manhattan via an elaborate route. Despite the treatment, Andy's physical state rapidly deteriorates. He poses as a hobo, draped in dirty baggy clothes and rolling before him a shopping cart with a few tightly stuffed plastic bags (his clothes and his bags actually contain large amount of explosives). He babbles loudly to himself, reciting at some point some of his namesake's best lines: "Congealed on Earth, but does, dissolving, run / Into the glories of Almighty Sun." The boys follow at a safe distance, scattered, but maintaining a fixed formation. Sammy is trailing behind, outwardly composed, but with lips slightly trembling. After turning to 43rd Street from Madison Avenue, Andy glances back, looks at Sammy and smiles broadly.
While approaching Times Square, one of the boys notices the ambush. He warns others on the radio and tells Andy to move quickly to the Levi's store at 43rd and Broadway. The boys start a massive shootout to draw the FBI agents' attention from Andy. Sammy recognizes Bob who runs towards Andy with a gun in his hand and shoots Bob down, but is then himself shot by one of the plain-cloth Feds (I'm tempted here to make him cite the line about "a fine and private place", but that would probably be over-stretching it and generally in bad taste).
Andy reaches the Levi's store and turns back to watch the showdown. He sees Sammy and Bob killed, then raises his eyes steeply up to the sky, bellows "Fuck you!", and detonates the bomb. (Alluding to the explosion scene from Zabriskie Point, with appropriate soundtrack, is definitely an option here, but should be done tactfully and unobtrusively.)
The music must of course be done by Efrim Menouck, improvising alone in some parts, and descending in full force with the rest of GY!BE in others.