Sevy walked into the corner hardware store watching the exchange between the proprietor and a patron. He listened carefully as he pretended to be browsing for plumbing tools. When Matteo was finished with his customer, he walked over and addressed Sevy with a slap on the back.
"Sevy!" Matteo's exclamation was genuine. He enjoyed Sevy and was interested in all the moments they spent together. "You want a coffee?"
Sevy nodded and looked to the door when it opened engaging a bell that rung out with a startling clang.
Matteo called, "Hello, I'll be right out with you," before reaching to a hot plate behind the counter, filling two paper cups with hot coffee and handing one off to Sevy.
Matteo helped the bell-ringer to find a heavy box containing masonry nails and then was alone in his store with Sevy again.
Sevy walked to the counter and placed his coffee down waiting for Matteo to talk.
Matteo smiled and took another sip of his coffee before talking.
"I thought of you the other night Sev," Matteo looked out the window assuring no one was approaching the door before revealing the next bit to his pal. "I couldn't sleep. Tossed and turned something terrible."
Sevy leaned on the counter closer to Matteo as he spoke.
"And I couldn't remember what had woken me. I thought it was a siren, but when I opened my eyes and sat up in bed, I didn't hear anything."
Matteo leaned away from Sevy and spoke louder. "You know how you hear a siren, you go to your door, and you can hear it louder because you're closer to it? Or it's not so loud, because it's driving away?"
Sevy nodded understanding that his friend did not retain the properties of the Doppler Effect from his days in school.
"That's the thing Sev, I didn't hear it anymore. The siren. It was gone when I wiped the sleep from my eyes." Matteo imbibed more coffee and paused to allow Sevy to form an opinion of the occurrence. Sevy remained silent to let Matteo reveal how this absence of sound referred Matteo's thoughts to his pal Sevy. "Anyway, I turned on the radio to drown out the noise and,"
Sevy interrupted with the words, "What noise?"
Matteo looked up and questioned, "Noise?"
Sevy explained his confusion, "You said there was no noise. No sirens after they woke you. You woke because you thought you heard sirens and then could not hear them when you sat up and not hearing the sirens made startling awake peculiar. But now you say you turned on the radio to drown out the noise, when what it seems is that you turned on the radio to create noise so you didn't have to be a part of the quiescence."
"Quie-what?" Matteo waved his hand at Sevy, "I'm just saying I turned on the radio and was listening to an overnight talk program."
The exchange seemed laced with frustration over communication. In actuality, these two pals have had similar exchanges since childhood. Matteo was always on the brink of an idea. He had the thoughts forming in his head without the tools to manifest the thoughts into words that would convey the ideas to others. The words he retained in his arsenal of memory were elementary and clumsy.
The thoughts he thunk never drew conclusions or even spun past hypothesis to allow fact to support his opinion.
Sevy on the other hand was a wealth of conclusions. The thoughts he spun could not be contained in his brain. He spoke frequently and summoned up the obscure words to describe his lengthy thoughts making his companions experience loquacious discharges until he could weave a tapestry of assumptions culminating in confusion if not conclusion.
"So what did they talk about on this radio program?"
Matteo sighed knowing his thoughts were getting jumbled with his words again. "It wasn't what they were talking about. Just listen to me a minute." Matteo looked outside again knowing he was getting to a part Sevy would feel discomfort if someone was to interrupt. "The show is called Overnight Talk and the host tells people to call and talk about whatever they want to talk about."
Sevy was curious and puzzled. He wondered if the content of the call interested Matteo or the nature of the program held his interest.
Sevy looked for very simple and blunt words for his friend.
He reached into his lapel pocket and pulled out a soft pack of Lucky Strikes. He offered the pack to his friend and they both lit their cigarettes. Matteo took three steps behind him to reach for the coffee pot that remained on an electric hot plate and refilled their paper cups. "What did the caller talk about?"
Matteo returned the pot to the hot plate and said, "They were talking about the Russians pulling out of the Olympics."
Sevy still could not make the correlation his friend was trying to convey.
"Don't you see?"
Sevy shook his head.
"All these ideas you have. You say no one listens to you. You think there is a cover up. This is your vehicle. This can be your voice!"
Matteo's words were vague.
"So, you think I should try to get a radio show?"
Matteo shook his head while he snuffed out his cigarette. "I think you can call in to the show and talk to the host about what you think."
Sevy considered Matteo's words. He didn't really understand what Matteo suggested. Sevy nodded thinking the silent gesture would quiet his friend. He was tired of trying to piece together inadequate words forming an incomplete thought.
Sevy drank the remaining coffee in his cup and crunched the paper in his hand indicating he did not want a refill.
Matteo saw the gesture and knew his time with his friend was coming to an end for the morning. He tossed the cups into a waste basket and then pulled a box from the back of the store. "You want to take this stuff with you now or do you want to wait for when you have your car?"
Sevy replied, "How much do you have today?"
Matteo lifted the box onto the counter. "It's not heavy and the top closes completely."
Sevy snuffed out his Lucky Strike into the small black plastic ashtray and unlike anyplace else; he left the butt in the tray.
Sevy nodded and said, "I'll take it with me now." He lifted the box to test the weight. He lowered the box again to the counter and then said, "Oh, I need a small tin of varnish and a bar of lava."
Matteo walked from behind the counter to get the paint and soap requested and placed them in a small plastic bag before opening the cardboard box and closing the bag inside.
"That's six forty eight."
Sevy pulled a change purse from his pocket and unfolded one dollar bills then counted out a quarter, two dimes and three pennies laying it all on the counter next to the cardboard box. Matteo depressed buttons on the cash register and placed the money into the register. He pulled the receipt from the machine and handed it to Sevy. Sevy waved his hand refusing the scrap of paper so that Matteo deposited it into the waste basket.
At home Sevy opened the cardboard box revealing scraps of linoleum and roofing paper. He pulled the bag containing the varnish and lava to place on his coffee table. Then he folded a flap of the box down and carried it to a workbench in his basement. As he emptied the scraps from the box, he organized them into the small drawers in his work bench. He organized the linoleum by color and had 27 drawers in all. The roofing paper was dropped into a wooden crate on the floor under the work bench. Sevy flipped a switch to illuminate a sheet of polypropylene embedded in the top of the bench. He flipped another switch to illuminate the light fixture above his work bench. He placed magnifying spectacles over his eyes and fitted a pair of large protective goggles over the magnifiers. Sevy threaded his fingers into a pair of vinyl gloves and then over the gloves he threaded his fingers through a pair of thin experimental work gloves covered in non-stick beads he talked out of an acquaintance who worked as a chemical engineer.
Sevy pulled a slate tile from a shelf to the right of his work bench and slid an article from the slate to the illuminated plastic. He returned the slate tile to the shelf and then pulled a stool over to his work station sliding it under his bottom before hunching over his project. He worked on a rectangular piece that was three inches by six inches. The piece was an inch thick at present and Sevy opened an old mayonnaise jar containing tissue fixodent from the funeral home and pulled a wide paintbrush from another drawer. He brushed the tacky liquid on the tile. As it cured, he went to work carving letters from linoleum with a scalpel. Using long nosed tweezers, he placed the letters over the same shapes already on the tile. He carved the numbers 2- 0- 0- 1, placing each carving over the numbers on the tile. In the spaces around the letter and numbers, Sevy placed scraps of linoleum cut into small irregular shapes. Then he covered the piece in another layer of fixodent. He placed a piece of roof paper over the project and covered it with a brick to press weight on the tile.
With the same precision he cut each piece, he cleaned up; placing each scrap into his drawers continuing to organize the colors. Sevy used a long heavy metal spatula to move the paper covered tile back to the slate holding the brick in place while returning it to the shelf for the time needed to rest.
He wiped the scalpel and tweezers with a cotton cloth before returning them to their space in a small leather tool kit. He wiped the illuminated work space with the white cotton cloth picking up any residual shards and splinters from his work, placing the whole cotton cloth in a plastic bag. He clapped his hands over the bag and brushed them together to shake any fleck from the gloves before removing them and placing them in the drawer they belonged. He removed the vinyl gloves and tossed them into the plastic bag before sealing it with a knot. He removed the protective goggles and the magnifying glasses to place them in the drawer with the gloves and then flipped the switches to extinguish the lights around his work station.
Sevy grabbed the sealed plastic bag and walked up from his basement. He looked out the front window from behind the curtains before unlocking the door and walking to his car, unlocking the trunk and placing the closed plastic bag with other trash bags before pressing the trunk closed with a thunk.
He walked to the corner looking into Anne Marie's bar and then walked back to his house, unlocking the door and settling in to his lounge chair to read the day's newspaper he collected from his front step earlier in the day.
The Olympic Games monopolized the headlines and the articles. Russia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Cuba and East Germany pulled out from the games and proposed something called The Friendship Games. Sevy was disgusted reading page after page of this revolt against the historical international competition.
Sevy pulled out a mechanical pencil from his desk and spread out the newspaper looking for repetition in the articles. He crossed off any word he saw listed more than once in a paragraph and then crossed off words he noticed repeated on the same page. Finally he read the words as they appeared on his newspaper being edited by the stroke of his pencil. He looked for a message about Los Angeles or the Olympic Games that would give him insight on the true reason the games were being boycotted.
There were only four words in the newspaper that were unrepeated on the pages Sevy reviewed. Sevy recorded the words in his journal.