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Once upon a time there were two best friends named Felix and Oscar ... oh wait. Wrong story.
Okay, let's try again: once upon a time there were two men who lived in a small southern town. The men were both deaf and mute and they only hung out with each other.
They really were an odd couple, though, and their names were Spiros Antonapoulos and John Singer.
Antonapoulos was a fat Greek who liked eating and being lazy. He worked at a fruit and candy store. Singer was tall, thin, and intelligent. He worked as an engraver at a jeweler's.
Singer did pretty much all of the talking (signing) in this relationship. Antonapoulos did most of the eating and drinking.
Everything was business as usual for about ten years, until one day Antonapoulos got sick and the doctor told him to go on a diet.
At this point, Antonapoulos started acting really badly and did things like urinate in public and steal things from shops. He was basically going nuts.
Singer got increasingly upset at this change in his friend and finally – after the behavior got worse and worse – Antonapoulos' cousin Charles Parker decided to have him institutionalized at the state insane asylum.
FYI, Charles Parker took an American name, though he was Greek, too. He owned the fruit and candy store where his crazy-pants cousin worked.
Singer was devastated.
Charles Parker said "good riddance."
Singer frantically talked to his friend as much as possible before Antonapoulos was finally taken away, but Antonapoulos didn't really seem to care.
Then, just like that, Singer was alone. And here's where we'll start narrating in the present.
Singer wanders the town and begins eating at the New York Café. He gives the owner a little note explaining that he's deaf and noting what he wants to order – the same thing every day.
"His gait was agitated and he always kept his hands stuffed tight into the pockets of his trousers. (1.1.45). Singer was so depressed and silent that a look of peace came over him.