Howard's ex-girlfriend Sylvia heads for rehab. She assumes that Howard will care for nine-year-old Ryan, even though Howard and Ryan have never had more than a neutral relationship. After all, steady, loyal Howard has always been happy to come to Sylvia's rescue.
Due to a war injury to his brain thirty years ago, Howard can't speak except in rare, short bursts of unintelligible sounds. For the most part, he's unable to read or write, and suffers phantom sensations and numbness. But his moods are stable, his job as yardman at a convent allows him to be home a good deal of the time, and he owns a large house --- so caring for a kid isn't