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
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
* * *
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.
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
“Mr. Thestle?” he
asked, holding his other arm wide, inviting me to step out.
responded. “I have an appointment with….”
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
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
been told she suffered a stroke,” I said.
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.”
sorry to hear that,” I said.
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
“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.
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
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.
“Is he okay, do
I apologized once
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
“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,”
* * *
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
* * *
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
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
“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
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.
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?”
today’s date?” I asked.
he responded dryly.
then,” I said, looking at my watch. “Probably…never.”
your pardon?” his eyes looked as if they were about to jump out of their
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
that once, remember? It didn’t work out very well.”
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.”
do, do you?” He asked with a great deal of disdain.
do, Hubie. So just take care of it, okay?”
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.”
go ahead and do all of those things,” I said.
Czechoslovakia? I don’t think so, Samuel,” he scowled back.
you’ll do it from here. I’ll be traveling with our new employee,” I said.
might this be?”
of answering, I tossed a few papers across his desk that contained all the
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.
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
“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
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
“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.
© 2007 Brightlings
Beads and M. Robert Todd