November 5th, 1974. 4:30 AM
After I became
a bead salesman, life stopped throwing me unwanted surprises, and I liked
that. Liked it a lot. I did little else than listen to people tell me what
they wanted and then supply it for them. Oftentimes I would make a
recommendation to complement their choices – some silver would go nice with
that turquoise, ma’am – and my advice was either taken or not. Either way,
there were no curve balls, and I got to travel.
Lately, however – as I’m sure you’re well aware if you’ve been reading this
journal from the beginning – things have been happening that are for the most
part, out of my control. I absolutely despise these situations,, and I can
think of only one thing worse: being in a predicament I have no say over when
I know well and good it’s my own damn fault. This, unfortunately, is the kind
of situation I was currently in.
have no idea how it happened, really, for soon after Celia, Justin Rogers,
Sarah’s father and I darted out of the hotel room I found myself being
followed by the first two while driving the third as a passenger. My head was
swimming so I couldn’t remember it being decided that this was a good idea,
because certainly if I was clear-headed, I would have vetoed it.
I wanted to get away from this trio, not lead them to where I was going – much
less chauffeur the one whom I was the most uncomfortable with. I kept telling
myself I’d figure out a way to lose Celia and Justin and once I had, it would
be easy to just stop the car and throw out Mr. Sangrayall.
“Gilbert, please. Call me Gilbert,” he said in an accent that sounded so
unsmug for a British academic. I would have loved for it to be smug,
trite even, because it would have given me more reason to hate him. But no, he
had to be one of the few smart people from England who didn’t sound haughty.
“Gilbert,” I said. “Man, what a stupid name.” During the brief instant this
put-down had flashed through my mind it sounded smart and biting, something
that would show him he wasn’t dealing with a run-of-the mill foe. However,
when I said it, I realized I sounded like an idiot. He didn’t call me on that
fact, and it made me hate him even more.
“You think it’s stupid, do you?” He asked. “I rather fancy it myself. It’s
not even my real name – my real name’s William. Can’t abide that name,
William. Oh, I hate it so. That’s why I tell people to call me Gilbert. I
think it sounds adventurous, don’t you?”
“No,” I answered. “In fact, it makes you sound like a nerd.”
“Does it now?” Well, considering I am something of a nerd, I guess it’s even
more appropriate.” Then he changed the subject: “We’ve got quite the drive
ahead of us, don’t we?”
still have a while. If you want to crawl in the back and get some shut-eye…”
“Thanks, but I’ll stay awake if you don’t mind.” He grinned a grin that
seemed pleasant, yet I sensed (or imagined,) a threat beneath it. “But I am a
bit drowsy at that. Maybe a good conversation will keep me awake. What do
guess the topic should be fairly obvious considering we only have two things
in common, and I don’t really feel like talking about my daughter.”
for the next half hour or so, Gilbert Sangrayall spoke of beads. I was
absolutely shocked by the man’s knowledge. I would never have guessed there
was that much to say on the subject, and yet I could tell he was merely
scratching the surface. It would take years to hear all he had to say.
spoke of beads and history and how they were intertwined. I was familiar with
the names and situations of many of those he spoke about, while some I had
heard of, but had no idea of their personal stories or significance. Then
there were those I had never heard o, and was awed by the impact they had on
our planet’s memoirs.
talked about sapphires, rubies, gold and silver, and of both those who
cherished them and to whom they meant nothing. He went on about wars and how
precious and semi-precious stones thought to be good luck charms gave those in
charge the extra courage needed to head into battles that forged the future.
He reiterated tales of new trade routes, and how in man’s early exploration of
the world a handful of amethyst beads had more than once made the difference
between a merchant being allowed to help cultures meld and advance
symbiotically instead of becoming just one more dead traveler with commercial
he told all of this quite well, using humor in his storytelling, and giving
voices to different characters. I certainly didn’t want him in my car, much
less in my life at that moment, but I did feel more than a bit envious of
those who had been fortunate enough to have been his students.
My mind began to drift, and I wondered if I had ever unknowingly been a part –
albeit a small one – of what would be considered an important historical event
some time in the future. Had I sold a charm, a crystal or a component that
became part of a piece of jewelry that would be so important to someone that
it would influence a city, country, or the entire planet? If not, I had
certainly played a part in affecting individual lives; necklaces that meant
something special to the wearer – like gifts from a grandmother that are now
all someone has to remember her by. Or perhaps earrings that keep a special
occasion always fresh in the mind of someone who has nothing but happy
Between Gilbert’s stories and my inflating my own self importance, I had let
my mind glide away from what it needed to concentrate on, which,
unfortunately, was a plan to get myself out of a situation I didn’t
understand, and stop things future unknown things from happening. I’m not
sure if this distraction was Gilbert’s intention, but I decided not to give
him the benefit of the doubt and assumed it was.
I didn’t want to start liking this guy.
“Okay, Gilbert. If you don’t mind, I need to think and keep my mind on
the road. So if we can hold the conversation to a minimum….”
“Oh, sure, of course,” he said in a way that sounded genuinely considerate. I
couldn’t wait for him to say he needed a rest stop so I could purposely not
stop. And then he was quiet and just stared ahead at the blurry yellow and
white lines as they approached slowly, gaining speed until they quickly dashed
by one side of the car of the other.
figured the people who were with Sarah – who had taken Sarah -- somehow
knew Moondagger could “sense” the other beads, so were after him. I also
assumed they would be at Moondagger’s store when it opened. But if they were
in a hurry, they may not wait. And if they didn’t know where Saul lived – or
was temporarily staying during the opening of his shop – they might try
getting to Sage to help them find him. And whether or not she wanted
to help, it wouldn’t matter.
had already made a huge blunder by letting my guard down once, and look where
it had gotten Sarah. I wasn’t about to put Sage in danger. So, my plan was
to drive as fast as I could – if I got pulled over by a cop, all the better –
and try to get to Sage, find out where Saul was, and make the hour-plus drive
to intercept him before whoever else was in this game could get to him. It
probably wasn’t the best plan, but I didn’t have time to think, and I was
still suffering from a nasty blow to the back of my head.
If anybody reads this one day, they might wonder why I didn’t just pick up a
phone and call Sage. There’s a reason for that, believe me. About 10 minutes
into our drive I noticed a phone booth at a gas station several yards down the
road, and decided to pull over and call her no matter what the risk. But as I
reached into my breast pocket, I realized my address book was gone.
already looked for your phone book, Mr. Louviere,” Gilbert had said. “Sarah,
or whoever she’s with, had thought of that, too. Unfortunately they thought
of it first. It’s gone.” So phoning her was out of the question.
I had also briefly toyed with the idea of heading off in the opposite
direction from the get-go, because another lady who happened to be a friend of
mine was also at risk: Annie Slocumb, a simple waitress at Jackey-Boy’s Diner
who didn’t even know the mess she was in. After all, if “they” already had
Saul, they could be on their way to her right now.
We drove in silence for quite a while, andI didn’t come up with anything I
thought might help me.
November 5th, 1974. 5:40 AM
“So where’s the other bead?” Gilbert asked in a rather off-the-cuff manner
considering I’m sure the information was very important to him. I played
“What other bead?”
“Oh, come on, Mr. Louviere, the other bead. You know, we’ve got three, you
had three. It’s been a while since I’ve taken a mathematics course, but I
believe that’s only six. And as we both know, there are seven total.”
have no idea,” I lied.
Gilbert harrumphed. “I highly doubt that. As a matter of fact I know you’re
lying. You had the ugly brownish-gray one, if I’m not mistaken.” He then
paused for dramatic effect that was surprisingly effective. “And I’m not
Sarah’s father stared at me across the front seat, his nonchalant attitude
having completely evaporated.
beg to differ,” is all I said, realizing the more I spoke, the more trouble I
might get myself into.
“Seven salesman, each with a leather case containing one of the beads in a
different part of the country with only a few annual exceptions. Your great
aunt was brilliant, really, it was the best way to keep the beads separated
yet still looked after, if you get my meaning.”
“What does my aunt have to do with this?” I asked. It seemed like every
female who ever had any impact on my life was somehow being drawn into this
mad scavenger hunt for immortality.
“Everything, really.” Gilbert’s demeanor was settling down; he once again
sounded polite and non-threatening. And it made me feel worse.
“I’m not sure I follow,” was my short response.
“Oh, come now, Samuel, are you telling me you haven’t even put that
much together yet? It’s quite obvious if you’d taken the time to actually
think about it.” Gilbert then stared out the window, his eyes slightly glazed
as they tend to become when one reminisces. “She was a remarkable woman, she
was. A remarkable person, really… let’s not narrow down her importance just
because of her sex. Yes, truly if it weren’t for her travels, intelligence,
ingenuity and curiosity, my collection wouldn’t be a fraction of what it
is…and therefore, neither would my knowledge.”
“You knew her?” I was shocked. Just how intertwined could everything become?
“No, I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but I certainly knew of
her. As I said before, I’m not one to travel the world and put myself in
mortal danger for a handful of pearls, but your aunt was. And many of the
people I deal with have had the opportunity to acquire some of what she’d
found. Remarkable, really, quite remarkable.” Gilbert’s mind wandered, as if
he was genuinely in awed by my great aunt. But he immediately snapped out of
it. “She believed in the legend of Thibaut’s Beads. Not just in their
existence, but in their power as well. She knew that even if spread across
the globe, the beads would attract each other, so she figured it wouldn’t be
hard to find something that wanted to be found. And she was right.
But she didn’t want their power. In fact she wanted no one to have their
power. So she came up with a way to keep them ‘together yet separate’.”
“And how do you know all of this?”
“About a year after you met Sarah in Bali I was offered a strange beaded belt,
which according to its own legend, had been owned by Kublai. The man who sold
it to me also had some volumes of your aunt’s journals,” Gilbert said. “The
man didn’t know it, but those journals were worth many times the value of the
belt. So, though I paid too much for it, all in all it was a bargain. On of
her diaries was very detailed about her quest for Thibaut’s Beads, her finding
of them, and their dispersal, if you will. Unbelievable stories, some of the
most fascinating I’ve ever read.” He turned and put a hand on my shoulder,
his smile seemingly genuine. “One day, Mr. Louviere, when all this is over,
I’ll give them back to her heir. I’m sure she’d have wanted you to read
When this is all over, I thought, I want nothing to do with you,
Thibaut’s Beads, or any more adventures. I just want to be with Sarah, and
lead an abnormally dull life. Thinking of Sarah again made me realize
that time was running out, and I needed some sort of plan.
checked my rearview mirror and the car tagging me was close enough that I
could see Celia alert as ever behind the wheel and Justin Rogers in the
passenger seat. I had been hoping the long drive would lull them into a state
where I might be able to take them by surprise and quickly pull off the
highway, make a few turns and lose them. But their diligence was apparently
going to keep that from being a possibility. Besides, making quick turns on
unfamiliar roads ran the possibility of getting lost myself, and I didn’t have
any time to spare while trying to figure out where I was.
“What about your three beads?” I asked Gilbert. I decided since he
was in a talking mood, I might as well try to get information out of
him for a change. “Are they safe?”
“They’re safe, yes, quite safe,” he said.
‘Safe’ as in hidden, or ‘safe’ as in locked up tight?” I didn’t even realize
until I asked that this was a very important question.
“Safe is safe,” he said.
“Maybe not,” I told him. Moondagger had sensed the beads were close during
the ceremony the night before. That’s when Celia, Justin and Gilbert were
tailing us. But they didn’t have their beads at the hotel, which means they
must have stashed them during our visit with Moondagger – they couldn’t
have followed me and gotten rid of them.
Gilbert didn’t need to tell me; the beads were hidden, not locked up. Which
meant that the people who had Sarah, if they got to Moondagger before I did,
could easily get the other three beads. Then why would they need Sarah? They
matter what Gilbert said, I had no doubt Sarah had not betrayed me and that
she was in mortal danger. I knew my saving her was dependent upon us getting
to Moondagger, and, therefore, Sage first.
I pressed my foot on the gas pedal until it lay flat against the floor of my
car. The engine roared, and I accelerated quickly. A look to the mirror and
I saw a moment of surprise on Celia’s face – but it didn’t take long until her
expression once again showed determination, and her car’s powerful engine
easily brought its front bumper within inches of my car’s trunk.
Then there was a sound, a loud bang, and I lost control of the car. I had
only a moment to realize what happened – that one of my tires had blown out –
before the Lincoln Continental behind me slammed into our side. The
screeching of tires, the crunching of metal; it only lasted a matter of
seconds, but it felt like years. Years of me wondering just how bashed and
bloody I was going to be when it finally stopped.
Or if I would be alive to feel those injuries.
..................to be continued
© 2006 Brightlings Beads
and M. Robert Todd