PART III

 

     If you’re following the story of Samuel Louviere, I hope you don’t think it a matter of editorial sadism that I’ve decided to interrupt it at such a crucial juncture.  But some matters concerning the journal have transpired this week, and I thought now would be a good time to relate them to you.  (Besides, with our protagonist unconscious, it’s not as if he’s going to be doing much.)    

            My daughter is a rather inquisitive girl – as are most children her age – and it didn’t take long for her to notice that lately I had been asking my wife a lot of questions.  While trying to visualize all that our bead salesman was writing about, I would often have to ask about some of the more specific objects referred to in the journal, such as findings, crimp beads, and jump rings -- just a small percentage of words whose meaning I had not a clue.  Also wondering about their definitions, my daughter eventually cajoled my wife into providing her with the objects and tools necessary for delving into a beading hobby herself.  She took to it with the same voracity as our Miss Celia Andrews showed while trying to track down the legendary Thibaut’s Beads (or perhaps forgeries of them, depending on how the story turns out).

            It didn’t take long before my daughter could answer my questions about the finer points of beading, so as a Father’s Day gift she presented me with a box containing all I would need to make necklaces, bracelets and earrings for her and her mother.  Two days later, having grown weary of her insistence that I start creating something, I found myself in my study cursing my genetics for having fingers so large and unsteady.  (I had never found them to be so disagreeable in the past, but when trying to thread an almost invisible wire through an incredibly small hole in a four millimeter daisy spacer, my digits seemed like sausages being controlled by a rather spastic chimpanzee.)

            Following yet another attempt after dozens that had failed, I sat back in my chair, took a deep breath, and thought all the good thoughts I could before once again attempting to introduce the wire to the small bead.  I waited to make sure that every hint of desire to throw my Father’s Day gift into the far corners of the room had left, and then I leaned over my desk, adjusted my reading glasses, and brought my hands together.  I was slightly taken aback at their steadiness during this pass, and I felt my heartbeat quicken in anticipation of finally achieving the impossible.  But I pushed my excitement down deep inside of me, fearing that if I congratulated myself too early, this go at it could also be for naught.  The bead and wire came closer together…still steady…then closer --I believed I was going to make it.  The wire moved into the tiny aperture and somehow I was able to remain calm – still steady – just waiting for the end to protrude from the other side.  Oh, what a tiny, tiny distance that is!  I thought, congratulating myself because I was sure I had succeeded.

            “Daddy!”  My daughter’s voice startled me so that not only had my attempt at stringing the bead failed, but I also dropped the darn thing.  The tick, tick, roll sound of the spacer bouncing away from me – and into that Never To Be Found Again Place where several of its brothers and sisters currently resided – rang with more volume than the door to a prison cell being slammed shut over and over again.  Though her louder-than-was-necessary voice was the cause of my failure to join the wire and the bead, her presence also kept me from voicing my disappointment in very loud (and unnecessarily crude) expletives.  With a calm voice that surprised me greatly, I asked her what she needed.  Instead of answering my question, she just pointed to the naked wire and commented that I hadn’t gotten very far considering how long I’d been “enjoying” my gift.  I told her I was just taking my time so I could savor every moment, and it seemed to be a good enough answer. 

            Then she told me why she had come to the study; I had a visitor.

 

*   *   *

 

            It was Mr. Katsoulakis, the strange little man who had offered information on the house’s previous owner several weeks ago.  His demeanor was still shifty and humorless and his suit still wrinkled and ill fitting.  In fact, the only difference I saw in him was that instead of fidgeting nervously with his hat, his sweaty fingers were now taking their agitation out on a large manila envelope.  It could have been that I felt my previous reservations about inviting him in were unfounded, but it was probably because I was so curious about what was in that envelope that I invited him in for a cup of coffee.  He thanked me, showing the first glimpse of a positive emotion I’d yet seen, and followed me into the kitchen.

            As the coffee was brewing, Mr. Katsoulakis continued to clutch the envelope.  The way his eyes darted around I could sense he was still debating about whether or not he should give it to me, so I did my best to keep him at ease by not mentioning neither it or his previous visit.  Small talk, as we all know, is unusually difficult with strangers, and as obvious as it is to all parties involved, mentioning the weather makes it even more so.  One might as well say, “Golly, I am incredibly uncomfortable having to talk to you,” as “It sure is hot today, huh?”  As a result, I began talking about the first thing that came to mind -- the experience I had while trying to bead.

            He chuckled quietly as I lamented over the fact that both my wife and daughter preferred more subtle jewelry, and how I wished their tastes leaned towards huge chunks of amber or turquoise strung along thick strands of buckskin.  But as before, there was no genuine humor in his laughter.  Eventually my story had a positive effect on the conversation, as I believe I bored him into getting to the point.

            Mr. Katsoulakis unexpectedly blurted out an apology for having lied to me the first time he visited.  He said he had all the information then (as he pushed the envelope across the table to me), but wasn’t sure if turning it over was the right thing to do, so it remained in his car.  I gave him a questioning look as I took the envelope, and he nodded to let me know I had his permission to open it. 

            The envelope held about 10 sheets of paper, all typewritten.  I surprised myself by not reading the pages, but flipped through them and was thrown slightly that the printing was done on an actual typewriter as opposed to a laser or ink jet printer.

            “Her name was Everenson,” he said, leaning forward to point at the stack of papers in my hand.  “It’s all in there.  Like I said before, your friend was close on the name, he just missed it by a few letters.”

            It wasn’t the word “Everenson” that caught my attention, however, but the word “was”.    

            “Is she, well, no longer with us?”  I asked.

            Katsoulakis didn’t seem to understand where I’d plucked that thought from, so I reminded him of his having said “her name was Everenson”, and he shook his head. 

            “She’s still alive.  It’s all in there, all you’ll need to know, anyway.  Going back to about 1976.”

            I poured the coffee and began leafing through the pages knowing I’d study them more intently after my guest left.  She became Mrs. Everenson in 1981; from 1979 she was Mrs. Nader, and Mrs. Kayle as of 1976.  I had to skim quite a few pages before I read her first name --  Lenore.

            Lenore?  I thought.  The confusion hit me harder than a proficient – not to mention angry – pugilist.  I was hoping – no, not hoping, but certain – that with all the women the bead salesman had dealt with, not to mention the sudden appearance of my interested visitor, a mystery was certain to be solved today.  I had no doubts I would recognize the name of the woman who had buried Samuel Louviere’s journals, so as a result, I was left more frustrated than when I was trying to conquer the daisy spacer and the wire.

            Mr. Katsoulis must have noticed my frustration, for he quickly chimed in by saying Lenore was not her real name.  And, in fact, she had assumed a completely new identity shortly after the events chronicled by Mr. Louviere had occurred.

            “So I’ve read about her?  She is in the journals?” I asked.

            “You have, and she is,” he responded.

            And just like that his demeanor changed.  He smiled happily, his fidgeting ceased, and he looked around the kitchen, not as if he was trying to learn any secrets, but just in admiration.

            “You have a very nice house,” he said, as if he not only genuinely meant it, but as though an incredible weight had just been lifted from his shoulders.  Unfortunately, I felt as though it had been placed on mine.  He lifted his coffee mug as if making a toast.

            “It’ll all become clear to you, don’t worry.”  He said, and then after a pause continued,  “I can’t believe I had such reservations about talking to you.  I’m so glad I did.”  Then he complimented me on the coffee.  “But please, go ahead, I know you’re curious,” he continued as he gestured toward the papers.  “I’ll just finish my coffee and be off, if that’s okay.”

            It may have been rude, but I didn’t answer him, I just kept reading.  It seems that the previous owner of this very house was now residing in a convalescent hospital for the very rich.  (An Internet search I did later that day proved it was a hospital for the insanely rich -- the kind of people who those who are just grossly wealthy feel have an obscene amount of money.)  In 1984, shortly after her last husband died she suffered a severe stroke and has resided within the walls of the lush compound ever since.

            “If you plan to visit her, call the hospital first,” Katsoulakis said.  “She might see you.  I’ve attempted to talk to her several times, but she’ll have nothing to do with me, though once I did use a fake name, and she agreed to allow me in.  The problem is, they check your ID at the second gate and I was on the ‘do not let in for any reason’ list.  I’m surprised she even remembered me.”  Katsoulakis loudly slurped his coffee before continuing.  “I guess it makes sense the security’s so tight.  After all, if you’re an invalid, and you have enough money to stay at that place, I’m sure the residents have more than their share of people who are sick and tired of waiting for them to die.”

            His morbid thought broke the spell of the papers, and I looked up at him.

            “I’m just saying,” was all he said before he gently placed his empty mug on the table.  “Well, I’d best be going, I hope I was of some help.”

 

*   *   *

 

            I shook Mr. Katsoulakis’ hand after I’d showed him to the door. Unlike before, his grip was firm and confident. 

            “Thank you very much for everything,” I said, not quite sure what I was thankful for.

            “My pleasure,” he said.  And then, reaching into his jacket pocket he took out a small notebook and pen.  “If you don’t mind, I’d like to drop in on you once more.  If you could just jot down your number, I promise to call first.”

            I took the paper and scribbled down my telephone number.  I was incredibly eager for his next visit because I was certain the implication was he’d visit once I had all my questions answered.

            “I look forward to seeing you again, Mr. Katsoulakis,” I said.

            “Oh, please call me Leonard.”  With that he turned and left.

It wasn’t until a couple of hours later that the significance of his name hit me.

 

-- Albert Thestle

                                                          June 2006

 

           

 

 

 

 ..................to be continued

 

© 2006 Brightlings Beads and M. Robert Todd