“Sometimes the hardest part of my job is dealing with human cruelty and its aftermath. It’s almost always instigated by fear. I wonder if we will ever evolve out of that instinct.”
Pastor Phil Sturgis in The Handyman’s Summer
By the late spring of 1987, Handyman Ed Stephens and his life partner Rick Benton are anticipating a lazy, peaceful, even boring summer. Things do not go as planned as Ed and Rick suddenly find themselves embroiled in mystery, scandal, surprises, and a lesson in both the kindness and cruelty of people.
When local bag lady, Evie Fountain, suddenly dies of a stroke, Ed and Rick become interested in her rundown house. Evie’s house turns out to be shrouded not only with overgrown bushes, but also in secrecy. Ed and Rick are drawn into the murky legend of the official town character, determined to discover the truth underneath the rumors that have circulated throughout Porterfield, Indiana, for almost thirty years. When a personal journal is found in the house, they become immersed in a shameful story of small town bigotry and its tragic results.
There is plenty of other activity to keep Ed and Rick busy over the summer. Neal Soames, the gay teenager they have been mentoring, graduates high school and suddenly gets cold feet about going away to college. He moves into Penfield Manor while Ed and Rick try to convince him leaving Porterfield is in his best interests. Ed’s friend, Dr. Paul Klarn, calls Ed for help when one of his patients is an unidentified victim of a queer-bashing. Ed and Rick decide to take this young man in as well, creating, as their friend Gordy calls it, “Uncle Ed’s Home for Wayward Homos.”
Ed’s mother, Norma, also stirs up drama when she involves Ed in her troubles with the local garden club. Ed develops a scheme to turn the tables on a pushy, obnoxious woman who is determined to run the club in her own best interests. Norma will have another surprise for Ed before the summer is out. “Expect the unexpected,” Norma tells him.
Muriel Weisberg, self-proclaimed vision-impaired bitch goddess, is on the scene as well throughout the summer, providing much needed comic relief for Ed. She uses her new role as a columnist for the local newspaper to solve problems, spout her sometimes unconventional wisdom, and to assist in the mystery of Evie’s house. As always, Ed supplies a soundtrack of both oldies and current hits to help him cope with this busy season, one that will, in some ways, change the lives of Ed and his beloved Rick forever. Join these two gallant men as they continue to create an oasis of freedom and acceptance in an otherwise narrow-minded world. Together, hand in hand, still in love, Ed and Rick move triumphantly forward, ready to take on the world.