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The Jig is Up!
Danny was driving to the airport and thinking about the last time he had seen Kay; it must have been at least five years ago. They grew up together and learned about the bead world from their bead crazy aunts. Danny had become an artist in polymers and Kay was sculpturing in seed beads. Both were real artists in their own medium. However, Kay still had to keep her day job to purchase beads whereas Danny now worked full-time on more commissioned work than he ever wanted.
Would Kay still be delving in her orange and purple bead mania or had she gone on to another choice of colors. She loved to experiment. Danny had followed other renown artists in the polymer field for a translucent ethereal effect that held mystery and promise within the beadwearer's grasp.
You could not miss Kay; an Irish redhead wearing a beaded headdress that sparkled throughout the airport. Danny ran to greet her.
Kay! You look great! What's with the mask?"
"Hi you! I just wanted to see how people would react to a masked lady coming out of the airport in Albuquerque." She had on a purple mask with orange, black and blue seed beads, rocailles and bugles with feathers fighting to be nearest her face. "I know. You think after five years I am still stuck with the same color palette. Actually, I created this mask four years ago. Today I experiment with the principles of Pointillism using beads instead of paint as my medium. I work with every color in the rainbow." They began to walk towards the baggage area.
"Did I say a word about your purple and orange period? Pointillism eh? Did you bring any show and tell samples?"
"Nope! I sold them all! Can you believe I have several commissioned orders just waiting for me to complete?. It's so exciting! I did bring photos though."
"Congratulations. Be careful or you'll end out like me and have orders for the next 10 years to fill. It can become overwhelming." They picked up Kay's luggage and headed for the car.
"How about we stop by our favorite New Mexican restaurant, Ron's, on the way to my place?" Danny asked.
"Great! You know my favorite; Mexican Pizza with Carne Adovada! It will be so lovely to hear a waiter ask for my choice of red or green chilies again. I don't think anyone knows what that means outside New Mexico!"
They sat down and had a scrump-delicious meal at Ron's including both hot spicy red and green chilies. "Kay I have really missed you and your wild creativity but how about taking the mask off now?"
Kay pulled off the mask, "I forgot all about it; no wonder everyone in the restaurant is looking at me so funny. I thought it was the purple harem pants and fire engine headdress they were staring at." Danny smiled; people always stared at Kay because she was both ostentatious and beautiful.
They went on to recollect stories of their lives growing up in Albuquerque and finally departed for Danny's home. When they arrived Kay was surprised by two other visitors waiting for her; wild Gene and crazy Ted. These were the other two friends she had known in her childhood. Gene had flown in from California and Ted drove from the Four Corners area for the reunion. There were lots of embraces and laughter before they all settled down.
Kay passed around photos of her new beadart and everyone "oohed and aahed" over them. Then Gene said "Ok Danny, now show us that fancy smancy necklace of polymer beads you sold for a mint."
"Ok, it's in my bedroom. Be back in a minute."
Kay looked at Gene and asked "How's California and the movie industry?"
"Couldn't be better. I'm an extra as often as I want and lots of good looking babes to meet."
"How about you Ted? How are things going for you?" Kay asked.
Ted shrugged his shoulders, "Things are kind of tough right now but I'm expecting a big deal to go down soon and then everything will be ok."
Gene look at Ted and said "Ted I'll loan you some dough if you need it; I'm good for it."
"I know Gene and I appreciate it, but I'll be ok. This deal should happen soon so forget it ok." Ted did not believe in handouts or loans even if he were starving.
Danny walked back in with a cherrywood box, took out a lumpy silk scarf and brought out the most luscious beads ever. One would never guess they were made of polymer.
Gene, Ted and Kay touched and rubbed the beads on the necklace. Then Ted held the strand up and said "How much did you say you were selling these beads for?".
"$25,000 upon delivery." Danny said somewhat embarrassed.
Ted whistled, touched them a little longer and said "How do you find people to pay that kind of money? Do you have more than one person that will buy them?"
Kay could tell Danny was getting uncomfortable with this line of conversation and said "Ted are you and Gene staying at Danny's too?" They both said yes and the conversation went on to other topics. Danny carefully wrapped the beads and put them back in the bedroom.
During the next few days they enjoyed talking about their childhood and catching up on news of friends and relatives. Later in the week Danny was ready to take the necklace to his customer but when he looked in the drawer for the box and necklace they were gone. He looked all over the bedroom. No necklace or box. He went in and asked his friends if one of them had taken it out to look at again. The answer was no, no and no.
Ted was immediately defensive, "What do you think, one of us stole it?"
Danny said "No Ted, I just thought one of you might have looked at it a second time and put it down somewhere else."
"Well, if you didn't know who the customer was you couldn't sell it anyway so why would any of us take it?" Ted was close to snarling.
Gene got up and said "Why don't we checkout the whole house right now?" This stopped the conversation but after a thorough search no beads were found. Danny went back into his bedroom and looked into the drawer again where he had kept the box and necklace. He looked closer and found short black hairs in the drawer and some dried sticky unknown substance. Danny walked out and said "I can't figure it out and there are these black hairs and some dried sticky stuff in the drawer that wasn't there before." They all looked at the hairs and gagged at the sticky stuff Danny had scraped from the drawer.
Kay looked at Danny seriously "I hope some of the wee folk didn't come with me to play tricks on you."
"Now Kay, I know you and your Irish family believe in those guys but I don't believe in anything I can't see" Danny replied.
They talked more about it into the evening and finally one by one went to bed with a mystery on their hands. The next day Ted came running in with fine wine and a smile on his face. "Hey everybody, my deal went through and I'm all set. My money worries are over." He went into the kitchen to get a corkscrew and glasses.
The other three looked at each other in surprise. When Ted came back in Danny asked "Ted, what kind of deal was it anyway; you never said." Throughout the years Ted had talked of the big deal that would one day come through for him. Over the years his friends just indulged his continued dream.
Ted handed them each a glass of wine and said "Well, I can't really talk about it until all the paperwork is finished but I can tell you it's big, its really big!" They toasted each other and drank their wine but individually the seeds of doubt were sewn.
The next day Danny found a set of keys on the coffee table with a rabbit's foot attached. It had short black hairs! Ted walked in and said, "Oh good, I thought I had lost my keys," and put them in his pocket. Ted was still licking his fingers that appeared to be sticky. "You know I love the guava jelly you got in the frig. I'll have to buy you some more; I've been eating it on rice cakes since I got here." Ted walked out of the room still licking his fingers.
Danny was left wondering about Ted's innocence as he went to sleep that night. He woke after hearing scuffling and rustling sounds as the drawers to his dresser were opened and closed. Danny started to get up and turn the lights on when something pounced on his head and almost strangled him. All he could think of in the dark was a giant spider with hairy legs. He hit the thing over and over and finally knocked it off him, but by the time he got the lights on it had escaped out the open window. All the noise woke everyone and they all congregated in Danny's bedroom.
"What do you think it was?" Kay asked.
"I don't know but I plan to find out. That wasn't just a dream. Look at all the hairs on me." Danny said. Gene and Ted examined them and agreed they truly were short black hairs but had no answer to the mystery.
Kay went over and examined Danny's dresser drawers and found more sticky substance and smelled it. "It smells like jelly." They all checked it and Ted said "It smells like Danny's guava jelly but I haven't been eating jelly in this room." It was such a silly statement they all laughed. Gene then recommended they go back to sleep and regroup in the morning.
The next day Ted searched for his daily regimen of guava jelly and found one jar partially open and jelly all over the inside of the cabinet shelf. "Now I'm not taking the blame for this. It takes a real slob to make this kind of mess."
They searched outside the house and found some smashed plants by the window and more black hairs. Gene said "This sucker really had a bad hair day or has mange one. What could it be?"
"I don't know" said Danny "But my customer is getting antsy about the beads he purchased. They're for a wedding anniversary next week. I'm going to have to try and make another set of beads and I better start right now." Danny left to work in his studio. Kay, Gene and Ted decided to canvas the neighbors and see if they had experienced any theft or strange visitors. Danny lived up near the Sandia Mountains and there were only six other homes nearby so Kay figured it wouldn't take too long to canvas them. By the end of the day they had each only talked to one neighbor; those neighbors were a gabby lot. The three of them just did get back to Danny's in time for dinner. Although Danny was tired from working in his studio he enjoyed each of their stories of the neighbors enormously. "I should have told you most of the old timers don't get many visitors and love to spin yarns all day."
Kay said "Well I enjoyed the visit but we are no closer to solving the mystery and I know it's not going to be easy for you to make identical beads. We'll check the other three neighbors tomorrow and maybe an answer will surface." The next morning Danny took off for his studio and the others set out to talk to the other three neighbors.
Ted and Gene came up with zero and went back to Danny's but Kay and the "luck of the Irish" prevailed.
Kay knocked on the door and there was no answer. She found a doorbell and rang several times. Finally, two eyes peaked out at her from the other side of the door. A very petite lady, midget size actually, opened the door and let Kay in. "I'm Virginia; I'm visiting Hanna" the little lady exclaimed. I just want to be careful who I let in my sister's house." "Well I can understand that" said Kay as she was ushered in the house. Kay was offered cookies and coffee and told all about Kansas where Virginia lived. After a while Kay asked if Virginia had experienced any strange thefts or noises at night in the house. Virginia began to look very troubled and said "Exactly what kind of noises and disturbances dear?"
Kay proceeded to tell her about Danny's experience and the bead and jelly theft and black hairs left at the scene of the crime. Virginia got real quiet and finally said, "Oh dear, Jigs has been at it again. I am so sorry and I don't even know where Jigs is right now. The weather here is so dry his hair is falling out and he scratches like crazy. He's probably hiding somewhere that's dark and cool." Kay spent the next hour talking to Virginia about Jigs and guessing where they could find him. "Well, the other night he was really carrying on and had lumps all over his head. I suppose that was from your friend hitting him. I just don't know where he would be." Kay suggested they search the house and attic.
Finally Kay found Jigs in the basement hiding in a corner with the strand of beads around his neck. "Oh bad boy Jigs, and you have jelly all over you." Virginia twittered as she picked up Jigs and petted him. "We shall have to make amends dear boy."
A little later Kay walked into Danny's living room and announced "The mystery is over. I want you to meet Jigs. Bring him in Virginia." In walked Virginia with a sad faced guilty looking Jigs holding the necklace of beads and box, both very sticky. "Now give him the beads Jigs right now," Virginia said as she walked towards Danny.
They all looked at Jigs and began laughing, "A monkey, who would have ever thought a monkey stole my beads," exclaimed Danny.
Virginia said "You must have taken them outside recently where he saw them or else he would never have known to look for them."
"Yes, I did take them out one day last week. I wanted to see their brilliance in the sunlight."
"That was it then. Once Jigs sees something sparkly that's all he thinks about. He's a sparkle thief for sure. I am really sorry about all the trouble."
"That's all right Virginia; at least I know I wasn't being attacked by giant spiders and I can deliver the necklace" said Danny happily.
So Jigs was forgiven and Danny's customer was happy. Ted, Kay, Gene and Danny enjoyed the rest of their vacation and Ted finally told them a little more about his big deal. He was going into business manufacturing a special tool and he couldn't talk about it until all the paperwork was signed. Ted had always been secretive about his affairs even when it wasn't necessary. When everyone had departed for home Danny pondered almost blaming Ted for the theft. Gene and Kay were also thinking this same thought and realizing how quickly they jumped to conclusions. Their friendship was so precious and yet could have been in real jeopardy. Ted went home completely unaware of his friends thoughts and was planning the next reunion to be at his home now that he had the income to fix up his place and show his friends a good time. Jigs and Virginia went back home to Kansas. Virginia had a new neighbor move in next to her. Jigs saw the neighbor was a beader and had some real shiny beads she was wearing.
Tampa, October, 1996