This Valentines Day will mark the fourth anniversary since my family and I moved
into this house. My job had brought me to Seattle, Washington from Indiana, and
we rented a home for six months before Bob Dartman, a coworker, was transferred
to Japan and put his house up for sale. The timing was perfect, and Nicole and
I fell in love with the place on the first look-through.
Of course, like most people who find the
“perfect old house,” the initial step was renovation. The home theater will go
here, we’ll knock out this wall to make the great room larger and more
impressive, etc., etc. And it was in doing so that I found the books buried in
a wall that separated the master bath from the master bedroom.
They looked like they had been through a lot
at one time – the covers stained, the spines showing wear from being held open
too widely for too long, and the pages discolored – but as far as whoever had
put them in the wall was concerned, there seemed to have been great care taken
with them; each was wrapped in a square of linen, tied with a blue ribbon, and
then placed in a leather satchel before being hidden in the wall.
The first thing I thought was how nice
they’d look in the library – old, well-read books that I could point to when
giving the grand tour, and tell a story about how I found them in the
partition. In the future, I was sure, great embellishments would come to me
that would make the story “more spooky.” But for now, the truth was interesting
In flipping through the pages, I was
surprised to find that they weren’t printed books at all, but rather journals
filled with handwritten entries, whose penmanship was not as conducive to the
narrative being read as I would have liked. I promised that one day I’d take an
afternoon and try to decipher the scrawl.
So there they sat, on the shelves of my
library, for over three years until the boredom brought on by a rainy Saturday,
when Nicole and the kids were out of town visiting her mother, helped one of
them find its way into my lap. I had just finished whatever novel I had been
reading at the time, and nothing in my library seemed of interest to me, so I
delved into the book. What I read was interesting, to be sure, but I could see
no reason why someone – be it the author, or maybe one of his relatives – would
bother to bundle them with such care, only to do their best to make sure no one
would ever read them.
After all, these were the writings of a mere
bead salesman; a man who drove across the country pointing out, displaying and
taking orders for various baubles: charms, components, findings, glass beads, crystals of
various shapes and colors, so that his customers could make earrings, necklaces,
bracelets, etc. It wasn’t as if it were the writings of some international spy
pursuing evildoers who were attempting to smuggle top-secret microfilm out of
the country – or even diamonds and other precious gems for that matter.
If the day hadn’t been so relaxed, I might
have even put the first book down. Was I to be reading of how some woman in
Indiana bought some string, silver components, variety of glass and crystal beads and
once the sale was made, I wouldn’t even have the satisfaction of reading about
the piece of art these customers had created, considering that our traveling man
would be off, selling charms, crystals, and what not, ad infinitum, to
the next customer before they had even started their projects.
I thought, perhaps, that I
should try to talk my wife into reading them, since beading is actually one of
her hobbies, (once a month she gathers with a few friends, and they “oooh,” and
“ahh,” over the Swarovski crystals that one of them brings, and the rest had not
seen before, as they make various pieces of jewelry that they sell for a range
Yes, I would give the author the benefit of
the doubt, and read a few more pages, but then I’d figure out a way to pass it
off to Nicole.
Then, as I read further, that
After a few afternoon sessions of reading
the journals, I called the house’s previous owner, my old friend Bob Dartman –
from the office of course, as it was an overseas call – and asked if he knew
anything about the books. When he answered in the negative, I tried to get any
information about the home’s previous title-holder from him.
He said he could get me any information I
wanted in the near future, but all he really remembered was it was owned by a
widow, who after suffering a stroke had moved into a convalescence hospital.
His mind whirled briefly as he tried to recall her name, and I immediately
offered “Louviere?” as that was the name of the journals’ author.
“Mm, no. Not that, for sure.” His answer
was disappointing. “Emerson? Everson? No, not those, but something like that.”
Considering Bob had owned the house for
eight years before I had purchased it from him, we both decided that the widow
whose last name probably began with an E was dead by now, though I did make a
mental note to do some checking when I had the time.
Again, I delved into the books
– this time with a renewed vigor -- thinking that as I read further along, there
would undoubtedly be a mention of her. Some lover, quite possibly, that had
passed on and whose life memories she had shared? Maybe a blackmailer, or some
other vile enemy of hers to whom she kept his secrets close at hand in a bit of
extortion of her own. And then, of course, maybe the mysterious Widow E. had
already been mentioned, but at the time of Mr. Louvier’s writings was still
going by her maiden name – or by that of a previous husband. I would just have
to wait for more information from my friend, Bob; or if my curiosity became too
great, begin digging some up on my own time.
Yes, the possibilities were endless…and as I
read on, they became even more so, and darker.
One afternoon I had suggested to my wife –
who is an ardent reader, herself – that she pick up the first book so that we
might discuss what may happen next together, but she declined. For Nicole had
come to look forward to our after-dinner glass of wine, where I would fill her
in on what I had read in my own words – and as she listened she would
inadvertently be playing with a crystal bead dangling from her silver charm
bracelet, (yes, I was starting to notice things like that,) that she opted fully
for my retellings. She did suggest, however, that I make the works available to
the public to possibly get their opinions, or even better, some missing
information that was not within these pages which might shed greater light on
the whole thing.
At fist I had toyed with the idea of hiring
someone to type out the handwritten journals for me, but then changed my mind.
I quit moving forward with my readings, and now type out the text myself. And
soon, reader, you will be caught up to me, and it will be together that we delve
into this life, as well as those the author had come in contact with.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll find someone you
know, even a relative, who has crossed paths with Mr. Louviere…or better yet,
maybe you’ll read one of his passages and find yourself reliving one of your own