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
“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.
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.”
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
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
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
“So what?” I said. Then, after thinking for a few moments, “what's a key
Sarah just laughed.
November 4th, 1974. 9:05 AM
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.
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.
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
“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
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.”
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
“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
“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.
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
"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
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."
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
“I don't think so. This is my first time in this part of the States,” Sarah
“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
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
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.”
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
“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