1st, 1974. 3:15 PM
I let the story of Thibaut's
Beads sink in for a few moments. I had a million questions, the most
pressing being which one to ask first.
"It's safe to
assume, then, that this happened in France," I said to Sarah. "But where in
France? And exactly when?"
"No, Samuel, it
didn't take place in France. Weren't you listening to me?" Sarah said
coquettishly as she gave me that sideways glance that always made my heart
"Yes, of course I
was listening," I answered, and immediately my mind started backtracking.
With names like Thibaut, Aloin and Senet it
to have been France. I thought
I had clung to every word; what had I missed? Did the nobleman live on the
border of Belgium? Maybe she mentioned that and it somehow went by me.
Sarah crossed her
arms, pouted, and stared straight ahead. I could tell she was teasing and
angry with me, but I still wanted to prove that I had been listening closely
as she told the tale of Thibaut's Beads. I picked up the demon head/flint
bead, hoping in vain that it might give some clue to the story's origin.
It didn't, of
"But those names,"
I said, having no other course of action. "It had to be France. Where
could it have been if it wasn't France? My last name's Louviere, for crying
out loud, you think I'd be able to spot a French name when I hear one."
Sarah took the
flint bead from my hand and put it in my breast pocket. She then picked up
the banana-shaped bead and the crystal and did the same with them. "All
Louviere," she said,
mockingly adding more emphasis to my last name than usual. "I'll tell you
what makes it so obvious that the story of these beads did not start in, end
in, or at any time take place in France, but only under one condition."
"Agreed," I said.
"Whatever it is."
"That we spend the
rest of the flight talking about anything but beads. Between my father and
you, I believe I've heard enough about beads in my lifetime. Wouldn't you
"Well, beads, I
mean, they're what I do," I explained.
"Deal or no deal?"
She said sternly.
"All right, deal.
But just for the rest of the flight. That was your only stipulation."
She then grabbed my
hand and leaned close to me as if ready to whisper a well-kept secret. "The
story obviously didn't take place in France, because it didn't take place at
all. It's a legend, remember?"
"Oh, no, that's not
fair," I said, squeezing her hand, suddenly finding myself in one of those
not-so-serious arguments that lovers find so endearing, but those listening
find rather disgusting. "You're playing a game of semantics, here. I know
it's a legend, but what I meant was, where did it
"It doesn't matter
what you meant
to say, Sam, but rather what you
say. Now, your question is answered, so what should we talk about besides
"But didn't you
want to hear about how I came into possession of these beads, and the
strange things that have been happening to me and my employees?" I said,
remembering our conversation just before she told me the legend.
"Yes, but not right
now," she replied, resting her head on my shoulder. "There will be plenty of
time for all of that. What I want to hear about is Sam. Not Sam and
crystals, or Sam and a handful of chalcedony or moonstone spherules. I want
to hear how
you've been, what
been up to."
"I've been up to
selling beads," I said quite honestly.
"Well then," she
said, kissing me on the cheek before once again resting her head against me,
"let's not talk at all."
I put my arm around
her, lying back as far as I could in my seat. I then went to sleep, but
only long enough to have dreamt of my great aunt placing seven beads into
seven leather display cases. Behind her stood the long-dead Aloin, now a
ghost, wearing a serious frown. I awoke to find Sarah in a very deep
slumber, so for the rest of the flight I did my best not to move and simply
enjoyed the smell of her hair.
2nd, 1974. 8:30 AM
The city was
Cincinnati, and the room number was 214. It was in this very room
that I called the home office just a few days ago hoping beyond hope that
there may have been a message from Sarah. As I expected, there
wasn't, and I believed I would never see her again. Now fate had brought
me back to the same city, and sheer coincidence put me into the
exact same room. But this time instead of pining for a
lost love, I was arranging some Bali-style clasps and toggles in
my display case as I waited for Sarah to finish her shower. Her being here
with me was still almost too much for me to believe. Every now and
again I'd stop and listen for the sound of the shower; afraid if I didn't
hear it, it meant somehow she'd disappeared or that she was never
here in the first place. On my third or fourth listen I didn't
hear the shower. There was a pause just long enough for my heart
to leap into my throat before the bathroom door opened and Sarah stepped
out, tying her robe and towel-drying her hair. The second good morning kiss
she then gave me was even sweeter than the first. She sat down at
a small table and began applying her makeup using a mirror she had
taken from her purse.
"So what is on our
agenda today, Mr. Louviere?" she asked.
breakfast," I said. "Then I'm going to an interesting shop to replace some
beads that were stolen from a customer. I think you'll like it.”
stolen beads and a pocketful of mysterious trinkets that are forgeries from
an old legend. I must say, Samuel, your life is much more interesting than
the usual bead salesman's."
"Don't forget the
most captivating aspect of it," I said, leaning in for my third good morning
2nd, 1974. 9:15 AM
While waiting for our eggs
benedict, I again brought up the story of Thibaut's Beads.
"You said those
weird beads I have are just fakes, being pawned off on some unsuspecting
rich person who knows the legend and believes it to be true, right?"
"Oh, Sam, must
we?" Sarah was quite bored with the whole subject, but with Celia and her
gentleman friend still in the picture, I really wanted to know all I could.
"Just a few more
questions, then I'll let the whole thing drop, okay?"
A reluctant nod was
"If a person
believes the fable is real, then they must know that this Aloin guy spent
the latter years of his life going all over the world purposefully losing
the beads. How could anyone be gullible enough to think they could have
"The story goes on
to say that since the beads contained the magic of sentient spirits, they
are able to find each other...a force sort of like spiritual magnetism
causes them to come together eventually." Sarah thanked the waitress for
refilling her coffee before she continued. "It may take hundreds or
thousands of years, but the beads will always end up together one way or
another. There are dozens of rumors that they've been reunited more than
once since Aloin first separated them. Various tyrants throughout history
are credited with owning the beads; a necklace made of them being
responsible for both their rise to power as well as their unavoidable
"So why would
anyone want them?" I asked. "If, after all, they undoubtedly bring
"You know the
answer to that, Sam," she said. "Everyone wants power, and they think they
can learn from the mistakes of others and handle things...differently."
"I guess some
people never learn." I said.
"No, I guess not,"
she replied in a tone that told me she wanted to change the subject.
2nd, 1974. 9:50 AM
As Sarah and I walked arm in
arm down the Cincinnati street, I did my best not to question her about
Thibaut's Beads, those who may be after them, and some of the specific
warlords who allegedly had them in their possession.
"That's the shop,"
I said pointing across the street to
The Eye of the Rainbow
like Sage, she's quite a character."
suddenly. "Sam," she said. "I'm sorry, but there was a luggage store a few
windows back. Would you mind if I went in and did some browsing while you
went on ahead? I need some new bags, with what mine have been through and
"Sure, but why
don't we both look after I talk to Sage? I'd really like you to meet her."
I didn't try to hide the disappointment in my voice.
"Oh, you go ahead.
I'll be quick, I promise," she said. "I'll meet up with you, and I'm
looking forward to meeting your friend. I'll be right behind you, cross my
Instead of waiting
for an answer, she kissed me on the cheek and headed back in the direction
2nd, 1974. 9:55 AM
According to the handwritten
schedule on the front door, The Eye of the Rainbow Dragon didn't open
until 10:00 on Saturdays. I was preparing for a five-minute wait when I
noticed Sage coiling up the cord of a vacuum cleaner inside. I tapped the
glass to get her attention.
As usual, her
greeting was a warm one. After unlocking the front door, she threw her arms
around me and planted a big kiss on my cheek.
Maybe it's a good thing
Sarah isn't here to see our reunion,
squealed. "You made it! Wow, now
is customer service! Traveling across the country with a couple of day's
notice. I am impressed!" She then pushed me away, her hands on my
shoulders, and held me at arms length, looking me up and down. "I was just
going to ask how you're feeling, but I guess I don't have to. You're
feeling pretty good, aren't you, Sammy?"
Was my happiness
with Sarah's coming back into my life that obvious? Was I wearing the dopey
grin of a puppy love-stricken schoolboy? I felt the warm rush of blood to
my face. Damn, I
it when I blush. "How can you tell?" was all I could think of saying.
She then placed the
palm of her right hand about six inches from my chest.
"Your aura," she
said. "It's fixed."
I looked down to
see no evidence of a repaired (or unrepaired) aura.
“It looks like it
to me,” she said, taking my hand and leading me to the back of the shop.
Once there I set the bag of replacement beads on her display case. Plywood
made up the cube that was once glass. “They smashed the whole case, those
idiots,” she said. “You’d think they could have just hammered one pane of
glass, but no, they had to break them all.”
“Are you sure
you’re okay?” I asked her.
completely,” she answered. “It happened in the middle of the night so I
wasn’t in any danger. I’m not wigged out by it or anything, just a little
ticked off that I’ve got to remake so much stuff and do it quickly.”
“Sage, had you
noticed any strange customers in your shop in the days leading up to the
“Jeez, Sammy,” she
said, playfully hitting me on the shoulder. “Are you absolutely sure you’re
not a cop? Not only do you look like one, but you’re starting to sound like
“Sorry,” I said,
spreading out the beads, findings, wire and other replacement items for her
inspection. “It’s just, well, if anyone sticks out in your mind as being
particularly strange.” I was hoping she’d describe a blond with curly hair,
so I could connect the dots of suspicion that had formed in my mind.
“Look around at
what I sell, Sammy,” she said, waving her arm broadly. “You’re asking me if
I’ve had any strange customers lately? Sure I have. They’ve all
“You have a point
there,” I admitted. “Okay, so how about any unusually normal
customers? Or more specifically, a pretty blond who seemed rather anxious
to get her hands on some beads, maybe for a niece’s birthday? Or perhaps a
distinguished looking man? That’s really all I’ve got as far as a
description on him. Just distinguished looking.”
She bit her bottom
lip, and thought for a few moments. “No, sorry. No curly-headed blonds, at
least not any that aren’t usual customers. And as far as ‘distinguished
looking’ gentlemen go, you’re about as distinguished looking as I’ve seen
inside these walls in a long time, Sammy.” Then, changing the subject: “So
how’d you get your aura fixed Sammy? If Moondagger couldn’t do it, I would
have guessed that no one could.”
“To be completely
honest, Sage,” I said, straightening my tie, “I have no idea. I didn’t even
know it was repaired until you just mentioned it.”
“Well, someone had to have fixed
it. I mean, auras don’t just go around repairing themselves,” she said,
arranging the beads and comparing them to a handwritten list.
don’t?” I asked.
impossible,” she said confidently. “But if it wasn’t someone, it may
have been something.”
I thought, if it was someone it must have been Sarah, but she hadn’t
seemed to notice my aura was dented, much less mentioned what she’d gone
through to fix it. And if it was something, well, the only new
things I have around me now are those three beads. But it couldn’t be
because of them, they’re just forgeries. Aren’t they?
..................to be continued
© 2006 Brightlings
Beads and M. Robert Todd