It had been several months since I’d called the number Leonard Katsoulakis – or as he had been known earlier in life, Lenny K. – had provided in the information packet on the house’s original owner and made a request to visit Mrs. Everenson.   Though I had kept up with posting Mr. Louviere’s journals, real life had its usual ups, downs and tribulations of varying degrees, so to be honest, the idea of getting a response was out of my head when the phone rang one Tuesday evening, and I was told I had been given permission to call on her.

I made an appointment for the following Sunday, and once again my thoughts during my spare time seemed to drift to this mysterious woman.  I would find myself imagining various scenarios of just what part she had played in the bead salesman’s journals and how her life had progressed since then.  I learned that each of her three husbands was decidedly wealthier than the last, and as far as I knew none of the marriages resulted in children.

“Leave it alone,” my wife said many times over ensuing dinners as conversation was nonexistent, and my eyes stared off at nothing.  “You’ll find out everything soon enough.”


*   *   *


I was stopped at the entrance to the hospital by a huge iron gate.   After I gave my name to the person on the other end of the speaker box, the gate swung open slowly, creaking in a symphony of tortured moans that sent a chill down my spine.

The drive to the main building was a rather long one over a paved road that twisted through an immaculately manicured lawn and peaked on top of a large hill that kept anyone driving by on the main road from getting a look at the hospital itself.  It wasn’t until I had crested the hill that I saw any people, and even then they were scarce; a couple wearing bathrobes, shuffling along a row of hedges being followed by an orderly, and an old man in a wheelchair staring blankly at a large stone fountain.

The hospital looked more like a mansion than a care facility – a mansion from some gothic ghost tale, I thought.  Granite walls jutted up from the ground and ended at various heights in pointed gables.  Stone gargoyles sat on their haunches, appearing ever vigilant in guarding from the outside world whoever dwelled within– or perhaps watching the grounds to see that no one escaped.  As I drove closer to the building I toyed with the idea of counting the windows in order to convey the hugeness of the place more accurately.  But having counted several dozen, and realizing I wasn’t even close to the total number, I gave up.

Since there was no parking lot visible, I pulled up to the main door and from nowhere an elderly man in a red velvet vest opened the car door and presented me with a warm smile.

“Mr. Thestle?” he asked, holding his other arm wide, inviting me to step out.

“Yes,” I responded.  “I have an appointment with….”

“Lenore Everenson,” he cut me off.  “Of course.  I’ll take your car if you don’t mind.  The reception desk is just through the main doors.”

I thanked him, and as he drove around the corner of the building I found myself wondering if he was truly an employee of the hospital, or a patient of whose I was an unwitting accomplice in an elaborate plan of desertion. 

There was another man dressed similarly at the main entrance.  He bowed slightly and said nothing as he opened a door that appeared much to heavy for a person of his age to handle, yet it swung open easily and noiselessly.

As I stepped into the main lobby the sound of my shoes on the marble floors echoed loudly throughout the cavernous room.  Four stories above me the vaulted ceiling came to a point, and endless hallways stretched off to my left and right.  There was an almost comically small desk placed right in the center, and I had to walk a good 10 yards until I stood before it.

A plump, humorless woman in a crisp white nurse’s uniform sat at the desk, and it seemed that my clamorous footfalls had not alerted her to my presence as her attention was dedicated to an open ledger in which she was quickly scribbling some handwritten notes.  After standing in front of the desk for several seconds I cleared my throat to get her attention.

“I’m aware of you, Mr. Thestle,” she said not looking up.  Then, after leafing through the pages of the book and writing a few more notations, her eyes met mine.  “You’re here to see Mrs. Everenson.  Friend or family?”

“Neither, “ I admitted, holding out the bundle of books I’d brought with me.  “I have something that I think belongs to her.”

“Well, in that case you can leave it here and I’ll be sure that she gets it,” the woman harrumphed, and immediately went back to the ledger.

“If it’s not too much to ask, I’d like to hand them over in person.  Besides,” I continued,  “She did grant me permission to visit.”

The woman gave me skeptical look before asking to see my identification.  After she was satisfied I was who I said I was, she pressed a button on an ancient-looking intercom and spoke into it.  “Donna, there’s a Mr. Thestle here to see Mrs. Everenson.  Would you escort him to her room please?”  She then went back to her work as if I no longer existed.

A short time later a young woman also wearing a nurse’s uniform, with mousey brown hair tied into a tight ponytail stepped out from one of the many doors and checked a clipboard before holding it tightly to her chest.

“Mr. Thestle?” she asked.  “I’m Nurse Whyte, but feel free to call me Donna.  Follow me if you would.”

We walked a considerable distance down one of the hallways, took a left to ascend several flights of stairs, and another left when we’d reached the third floor.  We walked many more yards in silence – except for the sound of my overly loud footsteps – before Donna spoke again.

            “Lenore hasn’t had a visitor in years,” she said.  “As a matter of fact, I’m not sure she’s had one the entire time I’ve been here.  Are you aware of her condition?”

            “I’ve been told she suffered a stroke,” I said.

            “Your information isn’t quite up to date,” she said, checking her clipboard.  “About a year ago she had a second one.  A massive stroke, to be honest.  It’s nothing short of a miracle she’s still alive.”

            “I’m sorry to hear that,” I said.

            “She can only communicate through written notes, and for some reason I’m the only one on staff who can decipher them.  So please, bear in mind that if you came here expecting a lengthy, detailed conversation you may well be disappointed.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” I said.

“Ah, here we are.”  Donna knocked on the door at which we’d stopped, and raised her voice slightly as she spoke to the room’s occupant.  “Lenore, it’s Donna.  I’m with the visitor you’re expecting.  We’re coming in now.” Donna opened the door, and we stepped into the room.

It was small and the only furnishings were a neatly made bed and a writing desk.  There were two intricately carved doors on the far wall that I assumed lead to a closet and a lavatory, and I noticed immediately the lack of paintings, photographs, or anything else to give the room personality.  It would seem the space was uninhabited if it weren’t for the woman seated in a wheelchair waiting for us.

Her appearance immediately caused a welling of sympathy in my chest, for she looked more dead than alive.  She wore a thick, woolen housecoat, and around her neck was a heavy scarf that seemed to be the only thing holding her head upright.  Her skin was unusually pale, and on one side appeared as thin as crepe paper with a web of blue veins visible underneath.  A grotesque, milky-white eye sat useless under a hanging eyelid, and her bottom lip hung down to reveal her teeth and grayish-pink gums.

What was most sad, however, was that the right side of her face seemed totally unaffected by her condition.  I could glimpse signs of a young, unusually beautiful woman who through some hellish misfortune had been melded with a feeble crone and was not condemned to spend the rest of her life sitting in this room, in that chair, merely waiting to pass on.  Her good eye was brilliantly blue in color, and though most of her hair was a dry, brittle mixture of white and gray, what rested above her forehead on the right side shined with the blackness of onyx.

I knew immediately what this woman had called herself before she changed her name to Lenore.  

“This is Mr. Thestle,” Donna said slowly, leaning down to her.  The woman nodded in a gesture that seemed to take much effort.  “He says he has something of yours.”

Her blue eye fixed itself on me, and her lip quivered as I stepped towards her and presented the bundle of books from behind my back.  She convulsed slightly when seeing them, and involuntarily moved the joystick that controlled her wheelchair causing it to move backwards several inches.

“I believe these books belong to you, Sarah.” I said.

From the corner of my eye I noticed Nurse Donna throw a confused look in my direction, but when a tear welled and fell down the invalid’s cheek, I knew it was Sam Louviere’s lost love to which I spoke.

Next to the controls of her chair was a fixed rectangle of wood that held a small pad of paper and a cradle for a pen.  Without taking her eyes off me, Sarah took the pen and scribbled furiously.  She then tore the sheet from the pad and handed it to Donna.

“Have you seen him?”  Donna read.

I shook my head.  “I’m sorry, no.”  I told her.

She scratched another note.

“Is he okay, do you know?”

I apologized once more.

She then reached up, and with great difficulty unwrapped the thick scarf from around her neck to reveal a strange, almost grotesque, necklace.  It was a piece of jewelry the likes of which I had never seen, but was made up of seven beads which I had, of course, read about.  The bead in the center, the brownish gray monstrosity, was even more hideous than Sam Louviere had described.

Sarah’s blue eye stared at me, and I knew she was trying to convey a thousand apologies that I couldn’t pass on, for I’d never met the man they were meant for.

“She seems upset,” Nurse Donna said.  “If you don’t mind, Mr. Thestle, I think we should cut your visit short.”

“Of course,” I replied, and moved to the writing desk.  “I’ll just leave these books here.”

As I set the bundle down, I heard Sarah’s pen scraping against the paper once more.

“She says you should keep them,” Nurse Donna conveyed. “ Give them back to Sam if you ever meet him.”

“I will,” I said.  Then, after a pause, “well, I guess I’ll be going.”

“Can you find your way out?”  Nurse Donna asked.  “I think I should stay with Lenore a while.”

“I’m sure I can,” I said.



*   *   *


As I passed the front desk on my way out I smiled uncomfortably at the nurse at the reception desk, and was almost to the main doors when I heard Nurse Donna calling after me.

“Mr. Thestle,” she said.  “Oh, Mr. Thestle, if you could hold up a moment.”

I stopped, turned, and waited for her to catch up to me and regain her breath. 

“Lenore says she wants you to have this,” she said, handing me the necklace.  “She said you’ll know what to do with it.”

I accepted the string of beads, and not sure of what to say merely smiled and left the hospital.


*   *   *


It was two days after my visit with Sarah that Mr. Katsoulakis again appeared at my door, this time presenting me with a newspaper and asking if I’d read the obituaries.  When I answered in the negative, he folded the paper and handed it to me, pointing out the notice that one Lenore Everenson had expired quietly in her sleep mere hours after my visit.

 Do I believe in the legend of Thibaut’s Beads?  I can’t answer that question with any degree of certainty, but I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between what became of their original owner and their last.  And though I’m not a man who gives much weight to superstitious legends, I knew if there was any magic associated with the beads, the immortality they offered was a curse, not a blessing.  I took it upon myself to have the beads once again scattered as far away from each other as possible.

I gave one of the beads to Mr. Katsoulakis and instructed him to dispose of it any way he saw fit.  I knew from the look in his eyes he could be trusted to take the task seriously, and he had no desire to keep it as a of souvenir from the past.

I sent five of the remaining beads to friends and acquaintances scattered across the globe.  Using the ruse that it was some strange game, I instructed them to dispose of the beads in the most unusual, original, and permanent ways they saw fit – and to notify me of when and how it was accomplished. 

In the weeks that followed, I received letters and e-mails explaining their whereabouts:  one of the beads now rested at the bottom of the Persian Gulf, one was thrown into a volcano on one of the smaller Hawaiian Islands, one was buried in a hole at least three feet deep in the deserts of Tunisia, one was thrown into a crevasse in a mountain range in Alaska, and the last had been tossed into the coal car of a train traveling through Indiana.

I kept the remaining bead in my desk drawer until I had been told the fates of the other six.  It was, of course, the bead that had traveled with Sam Louviere before he gave it to a waitress in southern Ohio.  Just yesterday I took the brown-gray bead to the woods on the edge of our property and threw it as hard as I could into the foliage.

 In his earlier writings, Mr. Louviere had wondered what the bead was made from.  Well, to me it looked like a seed of some sort, and I do wonder if – though it may be thousands of years old – it may one day sprout, and what kind of plant would come from it.  Next time I’m out walking in the direction I tossed it, I’ll look for anything unusual growing, and if something catches my attention, I’ll be sure to let you know.

There are still three of Mr. Louviere’s books in my possession that I’ve yet to open, though I’ll be sure to delve into them in my idle hours.  I highly doubt I’ll be offering them to anyone else.  I mean can they truly be very exciting?  He’s just a bead salesman, after all, and what are the odds that his journeys would be interesting, much less cross into the phantasmagorical again?  Although I must admit I am curious as to how Sarah came to possess the volumes written after the events that have been related to us, but I leave you now with the last journal entry of Sam Louviere that I have read, believing it is only fitting this whole endeavor should end with his voice rather than more of my ramblings.


-- Albert Thestle

                                                          February 2007




December 16th, 1974.  11:20 AM


Hubie Three was very unhappy.  Though it may seem like a waste of time and ink to relay this – for there was nothing out of the ordinary about the man being in a bad mood – at the moment he was particularly angry.

            “I’m not sure what you’ve been doing with your time, Samuel, but I can say without reservation that you haven’t been selling beads.”  He waved some paperwork in the air in an effort to back up his point.  “And now you show up here, so I guess it’s safe to assume that you still aren’t selling any!”

            “That’s pretty much the gist of it, yeah,” I said, leaning back in the chair while putting my feet on his desk in an effort to further infuriate him.

            “I know that technically you can do as you wish, since this is your company, but may I inquire – since the financial aspects are still my responsibility – when you might be getting back to selling?”

            “What’s today’s date?” I asked.

            “The 16th,” he responded dryly.

            “Okay then,” I said, looking at my watch.  “Probably…never.”

            “I beg your pardon?” his eyes looked as if they were about to jump out of their sockets.

            “I’m not going to sell beads anymore,” I told him.  “I’m going to start buying them.  I’ve seen enough of the country, I’m ready to start seeing the world.”

            “We tried that once, remember?  It didn’t work out very well.”

            “True, very true, Hubie,” I said.  “But I’ve learned a lot about the business since then, and I think it’s time.  Now, checking the inventory I’ve noticed that we’re running quite low on our Czech beads, and I’ve read some of the literature we’ve received.  Seems there’s some exciting new stuff, and if we’re going to get a jump on the competition, that’s where I should start.  So, if you wouldn’t mind booking a couple of airline tickets and taking care of the other reservations, I think it would be best for me to leave at the beginning of the new year.”

            “Oh, you do, do you?” He asked with a great deal of disdain.

            “Yes, I do, Hubie.  So just take care of it, okay?”

            “Well, what if I were to tell you it’s impossible to leave before February?  I’ve too many meetings scheduled with the other buyers, and I need to rework the regions for the salespeople if I’m now one short.”

            “You can go ahead and do all of those things,” I said.

            “From Czechoslovakia?  I don’t think so, Samuel,” he scowled back.

            “No, you’ll do it from here.  I’ll be traveling with our new employee,” I said.

            “And who might this be?”

            Instead of answering, I tossed a few papers across his desk that contained all the pertinent information.

            “Now, if you’ll excuse me,” I said standing.  “I still have two weeks vacation that I haven’t taken this year, and combined with the holidays, I guess I won’t be seeing you until the second of January.  Make sure you have those reservations set for us to leave on Friday, the third.”  And with that, I left the building.


December 16th, 1974.  11:30 AM


“So how did it go?”  Sage asked enthusiastically when I met her just outside the main doors.

            “It went perfectly.  How else could it have gone?” I said with wry confidence as we made our way to the parking garage and our rental car.

            “So I can go?”

            “I already said you could.  I own the business, remember?”

            “I know, I know,” she said.  “But it just all seems too good to be true.”

            “Are you sure your sister can work your shop while you’re gone?”

            “She’s perfectly happy to,” she said.  “And besides, she’s the smart one in the family, she’ll probably make a bigger success out of it than I ever did.”

            “Well then, I guess that’s that.  Now, how about we don’t talk business for a few hours, and go have some lunch?”

            “Sounds good,” she said.  “I’ll buy.”

            “Sounds even better,” I said with a smile.

            “I am so excited about going to Czechoslovakia, you have no idea!”  Sage squealed.  “I’ve been reading up on it.  Did you know the city of Prague has more myths and legends about ghosts, ghouls, vampires, curses and such than almost any other city in the world?”

            I suddenly felt a chill run down my spine; the kind one feels when someone supposedly walks over his grave. 

“Is that so?”  I asked.

“That is so,” she responded.

I offered her my arm and she took it.

“Well, here’s to a profitable business trip with a noticeable lack of ghosts, ghouls, vampires and curses,” I said.  But somehow, I don’t know how or why, I knew I was going to be disappointed in that respect.



The End








© 2007 Brightlings Beads and M. Robert Todd