HI All. I had this synopsis posted once before, but wanted to get some fresh eyes before I start using it again. Thanks!
One night HENRY RIVER, a professor of literature, meets ALTHEA at a club. Henry knows that two decades earlier, JACK, Henry’s former college roommate and the love of his life, dated Althea his freshman year. Something unknown happened between them that left Jack terrified of women in general. Following their relationship, Jack, initially bisexual, dated only men. The fear continues to haunt Jack all these years later, so when Henry meets Althea, he is intrigued. He invites her back to his place and then dates her, keeping the relationship secret from Jack, as he seeks to learn what Jack won’t tell him.
Shortly after meeting Althea, Henry is approached by a troubled student, MARC. Marc pushes the boundaries of what Henry considers appropriate, calling his personal cell number and showing up at his home. Henry wants to keep a firm, professional boundary, but he is concerned when Marc tells him that he pays strangers to let him sleep in their beds. It’s the only way Marc can sleep; he escapes the nightmares of his childhood by pretending to live in other people’s homes. Worried for Marc’s safety, Henry arranges for him to stay with a married couple. Henry knows that Marc has idealized him as a father figure and wants to stay with him, but Henry is concerned that such cohabitation would be misconstrued.
Eventually, Althea tells Henry what he wants to know. After Jack broke up with her, she texted him while driving, hit a tree, and almost died. Heartbroken that he didn’t visit her in the hospital, she called him afterward and lied, telling him the accident had put her in a wheelchair. But Althea still loves Jack, and now she wants to apologize and reconcile. She doesn’t know that Jack never recovered from the guilt. But Henry refuses to broker a reunion. He resolves to stop seeing her, but she lures him to bed one last time and steals Jack’s number from the phone.
As Henry obsesses about how to keep Althea from calling Jack, Marc becomes ill. Henry doesn’t have time for this new problem, but he feels obligated to care for Marc at the married couple's apartment. Thus preoccupied, he is too slow to formulate plans for Althea. He is back home, alone with Jack, when she calls. She tells Jack where she got his number. Jack throws the phone to the floor, punches Henry, and leaves. Henry is dazed when Althea pounds at his front door moments later. He sees that, newly traumatized by Jack’s rejection, she is in shock just like him. But Henry is too distraught to sympathize, and he tells her to leave.
Henry has never been left by a loved one, nor has he ever been alone. He goes to work the next week and he experiences a new level of emotional hurt as people see his bruised face. He feels they see into his most intimate pain. Ironically, it is because of being punched that Henry now understands what Jack meant when he said he couldn’t see him anymore. Just like Henry, Jack doesn’t want anyone to see his most intimate pain.
Henry stops eating and going to clubs. He loses interest in women except for Althea, with whom he engages in a mutually hateful relationship. They have angry, abusive sex, drawing out the worst in each other as they feast on the remains of Jack they still find in one another. When Marc resumes renting beds from strangers, Henry relents and Marc moves in with him. Henry becomes ever more of a parent to him, never crossing from a parental role to the sexual, but still holding Marc in the night when he screams with nightmares.
When Marc is hit by a car, Henry is called to the hospital as Marc’s emergency contact. Marc is dying, but Henry doesn’t want to intrude upon Marc’s parents’ chance to say goodbye in private. However, Henry is forced to meet Marc’s parents when Marc refuses to see them and they demand an explanation. As Henry defends Marc’s decision, Marc’s father hits him.
Henry lies concussed in the hospital, crushed with the news that Marc died during Henry’s altercation with the parents. Jack appears in Henry’s room, having been informed of what happened. Jack has realized that now he must care for Henry as Henry cared for him all these years. They leave the hospital together.