Charlie got home from his last day of Extended School Year in a cheery mood. While Jim said thanks to the bus driver and aide and wished them a good vacation, Charlie went to the white car, opened the door to the back seat, and took out his things, his worry beads and tschotskes, little sensory fidget item.
These all stay in the white car when Charlie goes to school. We've been taking out one strand of beads and leaving it in Charlie's teacher's mailbox, so she can give to him to take home on the bus. An attempt to place the worry beads in Charlie's bookbag as he got out of the white car didn't go over too well: In his absence, the car is the keeper of the beads.
Wednesday afternoon, seeing the beads and other things on the floor and couch, Jim and I deduced that Charlie had brought everything in. But there he was beside the stairs, standing stiffly with his hands crooked behind his head.
'Black beads,' said Charlie.
I think you can imagine what happened next, but I'll tell you anyways.
Jim and I shook out blankets. We pressed ourselves flat on the floor and looked under couches. We ran out to the car and made our way through a couple of crumb layers; poked amid crumby coins; unearthed a pen, some fragments of fried potato items, grains of orangey rice, and a great deal of sand. (I know, sounds like someone needs to vacuum out their car.) We shook out the mats (which clearly needed it). We moved the front seats up and down, up and down. We knelt in the sandiness, opened the trunk and poked in the secret compartment.' We knelt on the grass which had, fortunately, just been mowed and was very dry due to the summer's heat, making it easy to look through the scraggly blades.
Charlie stood by, very consternated.
We ran back in the house and looked and then Jim got in the car and raced to the post office and library as he'd been there earlier in the day. I sat down and wrote to my friend Emma in Athens; she'd sent Charlie the beads, which are of a silvery metal with a nice weight and are super special because they're from her and Dimitri, and also because they're Olympiakos beads.(This site does have Olympiakos worry beads but they're not the same as the ones Charlie had been given.) I thought of writing to a former student who is Greek and visits Greece ever summer and (per his Facebook status) is there now. I started Googling 'worry beads Olympiakos' and 'Olympiakos komboloi' and got some good results, but none just like Charlie's and he is not one to accept substitutes.
Jim came back and started asking where we could buy some beads. While I speculated that some 'It's Greek to Me' sort of store might have them, I had a feeling that finding a pair exactly like the one Charlie had would be difficult. 'I'll drive anywhere!' said Jim. 'Somehow I don't think driving to Astoria on a wild goose chase for beads would be the best thing with Charlie not having the beads,' I said.
Charlie only had two words to say.
Jim went to get the bikes from the back shed. He recalled that the beads had been in the middle of the backseat so that, therefore, it was highly unlikely they could be readily swiped out. Plus, being metal, they would have made some sort of clanking sound if they fell out of the car.
Our car has a little tab with icon in the backseat that shows where you can pull out a velcro tab and strap down a carseat. I went back out (Charlie saying 'black beads, black beads, black beads') and pulled at the tabs and straps, all of which we've not bothered with as Charlie is, of course, far far past carseat, or booster seat, size. I noted that there is a small opening just behind where the seat belts are fastened by straps to the crease between the back part of the backseat and the sitting part. I peered in, didn't see anything.
A passage from Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood, involving the theft of a baby mummy, flashed through my mind.
(A little weird, yes. Miss Flannery tends towards the weird and, in particular, the grotesque in her writing---she has a sharp eye for a certain kind of visual detail.)
I got out and pulled the seat backs down and up. Charlie was now standing by the car and it would be an understatement to say that his expression was serious. I went to the other side of the car and opened that back door and pulled at the straps and put my fingers into the gap. I bent over to look and only saw darkness. I put my hand into the space and lifted up some of the seat and was able to just see what's under the seat, and that there were more crevices and hollw spaces for something to have fallen into. I went back to the other side of the car and looked back down into the space.
Very faint glisten outline of something round.
And my hands being far smaller than Charlie's---his fingers are beautifully long and slender----I could shove my fingers into the space and voilà, black beads!
Only, erase that exclamation point. While we wanted to do a total victory dance on the front lawn (the neighbors already know we are the weird family), we mostly contained ourselves from such an egregious show of emotion (though I do think such was warranted given Charlie's history of getting alarmed and stormy when something he wants is missing and his insistence on having EXACTLY WHAT CANNOT BE FOUND and the fact that said object can't exactly be found at Target but in some little store in Athens).
Charlie, having held in his distress, started moaning and ran into the house. Once the black beads were placed in their rightful formation among the other beads and tschotskes, he ran down into the basement. Jim started putting on suntan lotion and I washed the containers from Charlie's lunchbox.
Charlie zoomed back up the stairs and then up to the second floor, showered, and returned back downstairs wearing his latest favorite green shirt and a pair of blue shorts (that are a certain hue of blue). He glanced once more over at the beads where he'd placed them by the blue couch and got his bike helmet and was smiling as he kicked up the kickstand and gripped the handlebars.
What we do for comfort, for peace of mind.
Good thing I read Wise Blood all those years ago.