What is Signs of Life about?
After generations of operation, family owned and operated Coughlin, a boat building business in a Maine fishing village, is closing for good. Much to the chagrin of the office manager Mrs. Wrangway, sixty-six year old Owen Coughlin, the current owner/operator, has not even started to pack up yet on the last day, it demonstrating that Owen really wants to remain in business, the issue being that customers are looking for fiberglass products rather than the old fashioned boats Coughlin solely builds. Owen, of late, has been dreaming in his sleep arguably a result of the end of the business, those dreams which may be creeping into his waking hours as he begins to wonder if certain things he sees are real or figments of his imagination. The three who work in the garage are contemplating life post-Coughlin. Eddie Johnson and Daryl Monahan have made a deal with each other to work together as salvage divers in Florida, each needing to accomplish some tasks in preparation: Eddie has to fix up his car to get it in shape for the long drive, and he has to break up with his serious girlfriend, diner waitress Charlotte; Daryl has to tell his younger, mentally slow brother, Joey Monahan, a fixture at the garage in Daryl and Joey having no one else, that he cannot go to Florida with them. While Daryl has more difficulty in his task, what Eddie does with regard to Charlotte leads to Charlotte teetering on that fine line between love and hate for Eddie. And John Alder, who sees his professional life as boat building despite the less than lucrative pay, is currently awaiting news from the hospital of his wife Mary Beth Alder giving birth to who will be their fifth child. While John wants to leave town to work at a boat yard in Maryland, Mary Beth, who does not want to leave town, is pressuring him to ask her brother, chain hardware store manager Ernie, who John does not get along with, for a job. What sticks in John's head as Mary Beth is rushed into the delivery room as their last discussion on the issue is her plea of "we need money".