Synopsis of A FATHER AND SON.

by Michael R. Barnard

Life on Hollywood’s mean streets in ‘A Father and Son‘

The Tale of a Father Who Discovers His Son May Have Been the Victim of a Serial Killer in Hollywood

Michael R. Barnard’s “A FATHER AND SON” first appears to be a tawdry tale of street hustlers and a serial killer attacking boy prostitutes. It is actually the powerful story of a man fighting to fix mistakes he has made. Those mistakes have had a profound impact on the people he loves. The story possesses hints of “American Beauty,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” and “Billy Elliot,” yet has its own unique and wonderful personality.

There was a time in America when our biggest worry was ‘Y2K’ instead of terrorists, when Americans were polarized by a peccadillo in the White House rather than the war and failing economy, when people found sex the old-fashioned way—on street corners instead of online. This is a story from 1998.

John Kelly is a truck-driving good ol’ boy who has muddled through life without giving a second thought to his knee-jerk reactions to problems that affect him. One problem: his girlfriend left because he was not thrilled that she became pregnant. Another problem was a couple years ago when his teenage son David announced he was gay. John’s knee-jerk reaction was to do what he knew any self-respecting good ol’ boy had to do: abandon the boy.

When his son runs away from home, John lets him go and never looks back. John’s wife had died a couple years earlier, so after his son left, John escaped the Los Angeles suburb of Downey for the distant blue-collar town of Fresno.

But it’s an escape he cannot maintain. One day, a local cop visits John to find out if he has a son. John lies and says “no.” The cop tells him it was nothing big, just that some boy prostitute had been killed in Hollywood and the cops there were trying to track down any possible lead to identify him.

The news that his son may have been killed is the beginning of the change in John’s life. He is suddenly faced with the scope and consequence of his bad judgment and is compelled to find his son. He heads to Hollywood, where a series of events leave him stranded and broke, living among the boys of the streets.

He becomes a close friend of one of them when he finds the boy, Armond, after a customer beat him up and skipped out of paying him. John also meets Julie, a social worker trying to get the cops to pay attention to the serial killer killing the boys of the streets. She is angry because nobody cares. Armond and Julie, each in their own ways, become guides for John as he survives on the streets and tries to find his son. John is ignored by cops and befriended by street hustlers.

The killer is always nearby, and boys keep dying.

The boys struggle to survive in other ways, and in one vicious battle, John gets involved in fighting a gang of gay-bashers, protecting his new friends.

When, after days of searching, John finally learns that his son might be alive, John and Julie frantically track him down only to discover that David is in immediate danger of being the killer’s next victim. He is in the killer’s car. In a chase through the slimy hustling environs of Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, John finally catches up with them just as the killer is about to strike. And then…

A FATHER AND SON takes us into the gritty world of the dark side of Hollywood, the world of poverty, abandoned people, crime, barred windows, razor wire, and the struggle to survive. It puts a human face to the boys who resort to hustling, lurking in dark shadows, living among debris; some for sheer survival, some because of low self-esteem and emotional problems; all exploited by older men plying boys with money for sex.

The story ultimately shows the triumph of a man’s power to change, to fix what he has broken.