The name Giliap is a nickname, from one of the many stories about the American world of gangsters. Gustav Svensson dreams of setting up an organisation like the ones he has read about. Gustav, better known as 'The Count', works in Hotel Busarewski in a small Swedish town. Gustav gives the nickname Giliap to a waiter aged about 30 who comes to work in the hotel. The hotel is scarred by decay and degeneration; nothing is expected of the staff. Giliap, the stranger who has just arrived, has no real profession, but that doesn't worry him. One day he'll find something better to do, something meaningful. Maybe a ship will take him into the wide world.
The Count regards the new waiter as a possible partner in crime. He knows from experience that most people coming to the hotel are looking for something. Also working in the Burasewski is the stunningly attractive waitress Anna. She came for a temporarily job, on her way to a seaside resort. The Count is in love with her, but he doesn't show it. He feels inferior to her beauty, and all he can offer as compensation is money and power. But Anna wants something else – she wants to leave, looking for something that she thinks could be happiness and harmony. In the meantime, Giliap becomes involved, more or less against his will, in The Count's 'gangster syndicate'. He can see how crazy it is, but he doesn't want to leave: he is also in love with Anna.