November 3rd, 1974.  12:47 AM    

 

“We all need plumbing supplies, but nobody wants to pay a lot for them.  So everyone's been asking me, 'Saul, why do you only have a store in Kentucky?  What about the people in Ohio?”  The local commercial was of poor quality, and Moondagger – or rather, Saul – wasn't relaxed in front of the camera.  He spoke as loudly and stilted as most pitchmen in low budget TV advertisements, and waved his arms around, often holding them out to the audience as if asking for a hug.  He wore a lime green leisure suit and a rayon shirt with a loud, obnoxious pattern, but with his balding head and glasses made he looked exactly the same as he had in the parking lot at the Mary's Painted Wagon concert.

            “You expect him to know something about those beads you're carrying?”  Sarah made no attempt to hide her disbelief.

            “You'd be surprised,” I said.  “That guy knows a lot more than just sink traps and saddle tees.”  Then after I thought about it for a minute, I qualified my answer.  “At least, he led me to believe he does.”

            “I love the people of Ohio just as much as anyone else,” Saul continued.  “So that's why I'm opening a new store less than a mile from Route 134 in Sardinia!”  I quickly grabbed a sheet of hotel stationery and a pen, and wrote down the store’s address as it flashed onto the screen.  “And from now through the 10th of this month, if you come to our new outlet you can see me, Saul Jaffee,...” So that's his last name, I thought.  “...live and in person at my new store!”

            “Does that funny-looking man actually believe an opportunity to meet him will draw anyone to his store?”

            “It's going to draw me in, I mean us, Sarah,” I said, scratching down the phone number as it rolled out from the left side of the frame and came to rest in the center.  Then an even worse actor than Saul strolled into the picture, and I immediately recognized him as Moondagger's sidekick.  Lenny K.’s hair had been cut short, apparently in an effort to make him more TV-friendly, and he wore a shirt and tie.  His character was supposed to be speaking to Saul, but he turned and delivered his line to the camera.

            “I sure am glad that Saul Jaffee has a store I can go to!”  Then the two of them just stared out from the television, blank-faced, for a long three or four seconds before the commercial went to black.

            “Find Route 134 and Sardinia for me, would you?”  I said as I handed Sarah the map.  I then opened my display case, looking through it for ideas on the payment for Moondagger's services.  “This guy likes to barter,” I told Sarah, “so I need some flashy things.”

            “He barters beads and baubles for plumbing supplies?” she laughed.  “Quite the businessman.”

            “No, he barters for readings, or whatever you'd call them,” I said, instantly deciding upon a strand of blue gold stone as part of the payment.  “Believe me, if he's as good as he was last time, you won't be laughing for long.  Have you found Sardinia yet?”

            “Hold on, hold on,” she said.

            I added a charm of an imp or gremlin to the cache, and was deciding between chevron or silver foil beads when Sarah found the location.  “Here it is.  It doesn't look too far away.” 

            I sat on the bed and took the map from her.  She pointed to Sardinia, and I was happy to see it was in the direction I was heading anyway.  I figured it would take an hour to an hour and a half to drive it today, but it was probably less than 20 minutes from an appointment I had scheduled for the next day at 11:00.  Plenty of time to see Moondagger in the morning and still make the sales call.

            “Are you all packed and ready to check out?” I asked Sarah.

            “All ready,” she answered.  “So who are we selling beads to today?”

 

 

November 3rd, 1974.  2:45  PM      

 

“Samuel Louviere, the bead man.  I'm soooooo glad you could make it, darling.  Especially on a Sunday.  So, soooooo glad. Please, do come in.”  Agatha Krimworthy was probably in her late '30s, but a constant consumption of cigarettes and alcohol made her appear older.  She was wearing a white, silk dressing gown with bleached peacock feathers around the collar.  She carried a glass full of ice and clear liquid, and from her slurred speech I could make a safe guess it wasn't filled with water.

            She led us into her living room -- her white living room.  The furniture, the shag carpet, the drapes, the vases and the roses residing in them, everything was white.  After being offered a seat on a white leather couch, we were introduced to her husband, Carl.

            Carl was as introverted as his wife was extroverted.  He had the posture and gaze of a school kid whose high IQ and penchant for finishing homework made him very unpopular.  His glasses were thick, and his shoulders were slightly hunched.  If I could, I'd bet that his wife dressed him; his double-knit white bell-bottoms, black shiny shirt, and long and trendy hairstyle betrayed everything his personality said about him.

            “Mr. Louviere sells beads,” Agatha told her husband.  “Lord knows I need some kind of hobby with you at work 12 hours a day, six days a week.”

            “I'm sorry, dear,” Carl said quietly, but with real emotion.

            Agatha turned to me, completely completely ignoring Carl for the rest of the meeting.  “I'm totally new at this, Mr. Louviere, so you'll have to be patient with me.  I'm thinking that I'll need some gold chain.  Lots of it.  But how much is a lot? I don't even know.”

            “Well,” I said, placing my display case on her white coffee table.  “It sort of depends on what you're planning to make.  Are you making jewelry for yourself?  Yourself and friends?  Or are you planning to start a jewelry selling business?”

            She didn't answer.  Instead, she walked over to a small wet bar next to a monstrous sound system and made herself another drink.  “Three hundred  yards, is that a lot?” she said eventually.

            “Yes, probably too much to start off with.”

            “And lots of pretty gold and white things to hang from the chain.  Lots and lots of pretty gold and white."

            Carl smiled meekly at me, and I had a feeling the sound of cash registers was going off in his head.

 

 

November 3rd, 1974.  4:45  PM      

 

We had been at the Krimworthy's house longer than I would have liked.  When hearing the final tally for his wife’s purchase, I could see Carl’s face drop.   She bought so much chain and wire, and so many pearls, clasps, findings, crystals, polished beads, Czech beads, seed beads, cat's eye beads, alphabet beads and Thai crystal beads – among other things -- that I had to call the home office to make sure her order could be fulfilled.

            “The more she drank the more she wanted to buy,” Sarah said as we drove on to our next stop.  “And she wouldn't stop drinking.”

            “I don't think it was the booze so much,” I replied.  “I think she was just trying to make her husband react.  I've seen it before.”

            “And I can't believe they invited us to their party.”

            “It sounded like fun, Sarah,” I said.  “Why did you have to put down the idea so quickly?”

            “Shame on you, Sam,” she said.  “Didn't you hear her? It was a key party.”

            “So what?” I said.  Then, after thinking for a few moments, “what's a key party?”

            Sarah just laughed.

 

November 4th, 1974.  9:05  AM

 

Despite his advertising campaign, Saul's Plumbing & Supply wasn't exactly brimming with customers.  But then again, they'd barely opened their doors for the day when Sarah and I entered. 

            I was looking forward to seeing Moondagger/Saul again, and it wasn't just because I was seeking  his advice.  When a person drives around a large section of the country selling beads, they meet so many eccentric personalities that it takes a real stand-out to make an impression.  And he had made an impression.

            A bored-looking girl, probably in her early to mid-twenties, sat behind the store's only cash register.  She was the only employee we could find, and when we asked if Saul Jaffee was in she nodded her head, but showed no sign of giving us further information.

            “Could we see him, please?”  Sarah asked, showing much less frustration that I would have.  The girl huffed as if we'd asked her to help dig a trench or move a piano, before grabbing a goose-neck microphone stand and pulling it toward her. 

            “Saul Jaffee to the cash register please.  Saul Jaffee to the cash register.”  She then let go of the microphone, crossed her arms and looked at nothing.  A few moments later Saul ran up to the register holding a couple of black and white glossy headshots in one hand and a pen in the other. 

            He didn't seem to remember me.

            “Welcome folks, welcome.  Glad you could make it down today.  So, asking for me personally, huh?  Must have seen the commercial.  Now, who should I make these out to?”  He was just about to sign one of the pictures when he recognized me.  He smiled at first, but the events of the audience he had with me must have surfaced in his mind, for his beaming expression quickly disappeared.  “I know you, right?  You're, you're that guy...”

            “Sam Louviere,” I said, holding up my hand to give him a glimpse at the mood ring I had put on that morning in anticipation of seeing him.  It was still a dull gray color.

            “Right, Sage's friend.”  Then, after an uncomfortable delay:  “Look, I'm not sure I can help you any more than I did that day.  And besides, during business hours I'm Saul, not Moondagger.”

            I said nothing.  Instead I took the three beads from my pocket and laid them on the counter.  As Saul stared at them, his eyes grew wide and his mouth opened in astonishment.

            “Oh my God...my God!” he said.

            “What, what is it?” I asked, probably sounding a bit too desperate.

            “Those are, they're, what you have here are....”

            “Yes?” Sarah and I said almost simultaneously.

            “...the ugliest beads I've ever seen.”  He then looked up to meet my gaze, and his expression said he thought I was the most bizarre person standing in the room -- even after Lenny K. joined us.

            “Hey, Sage's friend. What's shakin' bacon? How's my favorite lady doing?  You seen her?”

            “She's great, Lenny,” I answered.  “I'm just here to talk to your boss about something not plumbing-related.”

            Lenny looked down at the beads.  “Gross,” was all he said before walking away.

            “Look,” Saul said, holding up his hands.  “I'm not sure what you'd like me to do for you, and like I said, I'm not Moondagger at the moment, so I doubt I could be much help anyway. But, if there were something I could do to help, I can guarantee you that I wouldn't even tell you the time of day for these beads, much less balance your chakra.”  Then his eyes lit up slightly.  “Oh, I see you've had the hole in your aura fixed...did I do that?”

            “I'm not sure,” I said, now instinctively looking down at my chest every time my aura was mentioned, and still seeing nothing.  “But I'm not offering these as any kind of payment.  I've got lots of nice beads and such for that.  What I want is some kind of interpretation of these beads and their chakras, or auras, or divine whatevers.”

            Saul picked up the demon-faced bead, his face showing the type of disgust usually reserved for a society woman having to pick up a dead bird.  He stared at it intently for a few seconds, then his eyes closed and his head fell back.  He was only in this state for a few moments before becoming Saul the businessman again.  He picked up the other two beads and handed them back to me.

            “There's something there, yes,” he said with a serious tone.  “But what it is, or how much, or what it means, I have no idea.”  I noticed his eyes darted from mine to my chest while he spoke.

            “Could we come back later, maybe?” I asked.  “After the store's closed, perhaps, and see Moondagger?”

            It looked like he was about to say no, but he eventually conceded.  “Okay.  We close at six.  I'll need some time to, uh, get ready amd eat dinner first.  So, let's say, behind the building at eight?”

            “Eight o'clock,” I replied.

 

November 4th, 1974.  8:00  PM

 

The setup in the parking lot behind Saul's store was much like it was at the Mary's Painted Wagon concert:  a van, Chinese lanterns, the plaster dragon, fringe-covered chair and end table, and two milk crates for Sarah and me to sit on.  And, as before, no sign of Moondagger or Lenny K.  I escorted Sarah over to the milk crates.

            "You've got to be kidding, Sam," she said.

            I was excited about what was going to take place.  Did I expect Moondagger to really be able to solve anything for me?  Probably not, but I knew that even though Sarah had traveled all over the world, and had seen many cultural oddities, she was in for something totally unique this evening.  I, of course, felt like an old pro having sat through one of Moondagger's performance art session /religious ceremonies once before.

            "You're going to love this, trust me."

            We sat for only a few moments before Lenny K. poked his head out the back doors of the van, waved to us, and then disappeared back inside.  About 15 seconds later he emerged dressed in the same robe he wore the day of the concert.

            "Lady and gentleman, I am about to present to you the High Exhalted One, but before I do, there is one special guest I would like to reveal as part of tonight's proceedings." 

            Special guest? I thought.  Is this a religious ceremony or a television variety show?

            Lenny K. opened the van door and stood back as Sage Parker, along with a cloud of bluish smoke, exited into the parking lot.  She immediately ran up and gave me a big hug.

            "Moondagger called me," she said.  "Told me you were having a reading done again.  I just had to close the shop early and get down here.  Wouldn't have missed it for anything."

            I was happy to see Sage, and also delighted that I could finally introduce her to Sarah.  "Sarah, this is my good friend, Sage.  Sage, Sarah."  They shook hands, Sage smiling broadly, but Sarah seemed a bit put off -- or was it just my imagination?  Surely she wasn't jealous.  Then, after their handshake, it was Sage who appeared slightly perplexed.

            “Have we met before?”  she asked Sarah.  “There's something about you that looks familiar.”

            “I don't think so.  This is my first time in this part of the States,” Sarah answered.

            “Hmm, must be my mistake,” Sage said.  “My bad, sorry.”

            “If we could get on with the ceremony,” Lenny K. interrupted.

            “Oh, sorry Lenny,” Sage said.  Just as I was about to sit down, I noticed we were one milk crate short and asked Lenny K. if he had another. 

            “You know, I don't think that will be necessary,” Sarah said to me before Lenny could answer.  She put a hand to her temple.  “I'm feeling that pressure in my forehead, Sam.  I'm afraid a migraine might be coming on.  Would it be okay if I stretched out in the back seat of your car?”

            “But you'll miss Moondagger's reading,” I said, sounding too much like a child whining to his mother.

            “I know.  I'd love to see it, but if I don't lie down and close my eyes, it could become quite unbearable.  Besides, you're parked just a few feet away,” she pointed to the car which was only two spaces from Moondagger's van.  I knew she was right, though I wasn't too happy about the timing of her headache.  “Okay,” I said, giving her a kiss on the cheek.  “Make sure you lock the doors.”

            “Can we start now?  His High and Exalted One would like to be home by 10:00 to view his favorite TV program.”

            “I'm sorry,” I said to Lenny K.  “Please, continue.”

            “You are now in the presence of The Keeper of the Ultimate Secrets who is willing to share them.”

            Moondagger stepped out of the van.

 

November 4th, 1974.  8:45  PM

 

The liturgy lasted much longer than my previous Moondagger encounte, and though we went through the formalities of thanking him and listening to the familiar rantings, when he finally got around to the actual beads he seemed very serious.  He didn't talk much to Sage or me, but held the beads up to the sky, and then to his chest, both individually and as a group.  He often uttered strange sounds, some of which Lenny K. could translate and others he could not.  Sitting on the milk crate was becoming a little painful, but if I tried to stand to stretch my legs Moondagger would hold out a halting hand, even if his eyes were closed and he wasn't facing me.

            Also, I had purposely declined the tea he’d offered, just in case something had been added to it, as I suspected there might have been the last time.

            Finally Moondagger spoke in English.

            “These beads are evil, bad,” he said sternly.  “There are three here, but they have four brothers and they're calling out to them.  They want to reunite, but don't let them.”

            “The other beads,” I said, “do you know where they are?”

            “They are very close, very close,” he said. 

            “How close?” I asked.

            “Cosmically speaking,” Lenny K. offered, “anything less than a hundred light years would be considered pretty near.”

            “I'm not speaking cosmically,” Moondager said, breaking character and giving Lenny K. a chastising look for interrupting.  “I'm talking close, real close. One of them is less than a couple of hundred miles away, and the other three...” he pointed dramatically towards the street.  “The other three are less than two blocks away.  Probably even closer.”

            My gaze immediately went to my car.  I couldn't see Sarah inside, but there was no sign of Celia, her distinguished looking gentleman friend, or a black Lincoln Continental, so I felt she was safe for now.  But I did want to get this whole thing over with, and get back on the road – hopefully more than a of couple blocks away from three of the other beads.

           

November 4th, 1974.  8:55  PM

 

The ceremony was over.  I had added a strand of turquoise chips to the blue gold stone, imp charm, and silver foil beads that I offered Moondagger as payment.  He seemed pleased with my choice, and quietly went back into the van as Lenny K. began packing up the seats, china lamps and plaster dragon.

            “That's all for tonight,” he said.  “Moondagger's tired, and suggests you leave with haste.”

            I turned to Sage.  “Are you going to be okay on the drive back to Cincinnati?” I asked her.

            “Of course,” she replied.  “It's only an hour or so.  But what's going on with those beads, Sam?  And if there's more, and they're just a couple of blocks away, well, who’s got 'em?”

            “I'm not sure,” I said.  “But whoever it is, I want to get away from them.”  I walked over to my car and tapped on the window.  Sarah was lying on the back seat, and she looked up at me.  “I'm going to walk Sage to her car.  I'll be right back, okay?”

            Sarah just nodded, then put her head back down and her forearm over her eyes.

            “I'm parked out front,” Sage said.

            As we walked to her car, Sage seemed rather curious about Sarah.  “There is something about her that is so familiar, Sam,” she said.  “I can't put my finger on it, but it's something, I know it.”

            “And what it is is your imagination,” I told her.  “Like she said, she's never even been to this part of the country before, and over the last couple days she hasn't been out except when she was with me.   So if you’ve seen her, you would have seen me with her, and I'm quite sure tonight is the first time you've met.”

            Sage stopped suddenly.  “I got it.”

            “What?” I asked.

            “Her necklace, the amethyst and hematite.”

            “What about it?”

            “That's what's familiar,” she said.

            “Oh, well there you go, that makes total sense.  You've seen it before?”

            “Sam, I made it,” she said.  And suddenly there was a new batch of questions I needed to have answered.

 

 ..................to be continued

 

© 2006 Brightlings Beads and M. Robert Todd