Some of us are suckers for sentiment, some not so much, a theme beautifully illustrated in Tom Griffin’s The Boys Next Door. Barry Klemper, a schizophrenic but loving and kind twenty-eight-year-old, plucks at the heartstrings as he attempts to give his widowed neighbor Mrs. Fremus a golf lesson. Mrs. Fremus is game to try but her aged hands find the task of holding the club unbearable and as the lesson collapses the conversation between two-generations-distant friends beams with love and compassion.
Mrs. Fremus, alone and lonely in her declining years, happily provides Barry with love, support and a sounding board concerning the anxieties that swirl through him as a visit from his abusive father looms near. Barry notes that it’s been nine years since he last saw his dad to which the hard-of-hearing Mrs. Fremus commiserates by acknowledging that, “A lot happens in five years.”
The two sit, a full summer moon providing just enough light for soul salving reflection, Mrs. Fremus reminiscing about her deceased husband, her loneliness leeching outward as tears from a rock as Barry first aggrandizes his long absent, struggling, overwhelmed bully of a father, a man whose love he yearns for but whose upcoming visit has left him angst filled and terrorized.
James Flaherty’s Barry and Donna Futoransky’s Mrs. Fremus soft lapping of wave on shore is a delightfully soothing and heartbreaking exchange between two lonely, misunderstood hearts that find solace beneath the solstice moon and their interaction stands in starkest of contrast to Mr. Klemper who, upon seeing the hand-drawn poster Barry has placed on his group home’s bathroom door to welcome his father declares, “You do this, Barry? It’s real nice. ‘Welcome home, Dad!’ Real thoughtful. (He carelessly removes it from the door.) If it’s piss or sentiment, give me piss every time.”
Seems we reap what we sow.