When Joe lifted the extractor from the bed of the truck he felt a sharp burning snick of pain in his right elbow and had to shift it to his left hand as he carried it into the corner hardware store. Inside the conservative talk radio droned and there was the familiar oil and plastic and fertilizer smell he had expected. Jim at the counter couldn’t readily place the nature of the extractor, the light stainless steel cylinder not registering as anything he knew about. He looked expectantly to Joe. Joe placed it on one of the stools that lined the customer side of the counter.

“This is a honey extractor, and when I cleaned it up after last season I took the wingnuts that hold this in place,” Joe showed him the bolts sticking through the bar across the top that held the rotating framework down against the extractor, “and put them somewhere safe. I did such a good job of keeping them safe I couldn’t find them this year.”

Jim laughed, “Put them somewhere safe. I have never heard of that happening to anyone before, I mean, I never did anything like that.” and grinned at Joe and felt the threaded end of the bolt.

“You are laughing with me Jim, not at me, right?”

“Yeah sure, with you, probably a five sixteenth” still laughing as he went to the bank of trays with the hundred different nuts and bolts and washers alongside the counter. He quickly located and opened a tray and fished out two wingnuts. “Here, try these.”

Joe threaded one on the bolt but it caught before it screwed the bar tight to the extractor.

“No, they have to tighten down so this doesn’t move at all.”

“Must be metric then, I don’t think I have any metric wingnuts.”

“How about just regular nuts? I would just have to use a wrench to tighten them down, it ain’t but once a year.” Joe handed the wingnuts back to Jim.

“Yeah, that will be 8 millimeters, you want some washers with that too?”

“Sure, that would probably be a good idea.” Jim went back to the trays and soon found the nuts and handed them to Joe. Joe put the washers on the bolts, threaded the nuts onto them and they screwed easily all the way down. He tightened them as well as he could by hand and checked to see that the framework rotated easily. 

“What do I owe you?”

Behind the counter Jim scanned something and tapped a few keys at his register. 

“Can you afford eighty six cents?”

“I think so and I won’t even tell anyone else you laughed at me,” said Joe as he handed Jim a dollar. “Hold onto the change till the next time, would you?”

“Sure, and when you get your honey, I might be interested in some.”

“I’ll tell the wife, she handles the business side of things,” Joe said, “see you next time.” He picked up the extractor and headed to the door. Outside the air was clear and Joe laughed again as he put the extractor back in the bed of the truck.

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