Sandra tugged at her ring and eventually got it off of her finger. She threw it at Delbert, who lay wheezing softly on the living room floor. It missed his face but landed in plain sight.
“That little thing isn’t even worth trying to resell,” she growled.
He looked at the ring and remembered how gleeful he had been eighteen years before when he went to Kavalitz’ Jewelry and picked out the nicest wedding ring his budget could withstand. It would have to suffice; the matching engagement ring was far too expensive. Mr. Kavalitz assured Delbert he didn’t mind breaking up the set.
Delbert had taken Sandra out to dinner that night. After they both had declined the waitress’ offer of dessert, Delbert had reached into his suit pocket. “Perhaps I could interest you in this, though.” He opened the box and handed it to Sandra.
She had been — or had seemed — so happy at that moment, Delbert thought. She had all but yelled, “A ring!” and the other patrons in the restaurant applauded as she leaped up to kiss him.
And she had been — or had seemed — so happy when they went to Kavalitz’ Jewelry to size it. Mr. Kavalitz had even surreptitiously hidden the engagement ring while they were in the shop. Sure the diamond was small, but was that really the point?
From Delbert’s position on the floor, where he fell after being pummeled by Sandra’s new man, it suddenly appeared that it was.
“All these years of that tiny little diamond and this tiny little house and your tiny little salary,” Sandra groused. “It’s all over. Unlike you, Lucas is already important and he’s the sort of man who can make even more of himself and give me what I deserve. I’ll finally be something in society.”
That answered a question Delbert had asked no one but himself. Why this? Why not just divorce him? But, of course, one would not, as a divorcee, be welcome at the heights of society. Lucas, who was born to such company, would be shunned for marrying a divorced woman.
Delbert could see it clearly. Lucas would befriend the widow of a nobody and marry her just short of the end of the socially acceptable mourning period. They would drink champagne and kiss at midnight at the 1926 Umberchez-Gravois Ball.
He found he could accept that. But the scorn hurt. The utter rejection hurt. This, then, was Purgatory already.
“I’ve always loved you, Sandra,” he said.
She looked at him almost sadly. “Love doesn’t buy diamonds.”
Delbert looked again at the ring. “It did once.”
Sandra turned and walked back into the bedroom. Delbert was alone with his murderer.
“You won’t get away with this,” he said. “You’ll make a mistake, and I have faith in the law. I will get justice.”
Lucas chuckled. “A lot of good that will do you, old man.” He fired the shotgun at Delbert’s chest.
Lucas knelt and picked up the ring. Then he fled the little house and drove off into the night before any of the neighbors could react. Sandra was now screaming about a thief and a murderer and oh, her poor, poor, dear husband and how he tried to protect her and prevent her ring from being stolen.
He paused at a stop sign several blocks away and looked at the ring briefly before driving on. Sandra would report it stolen and get the insurance money, just as she would get whatever pitiful life insurance Delbert had taken out on himself.
Lucas and Sandra had agreed he would toss the gun and the ring into the river where they would never again be found. Lucas hadn’t added to his family’s fortune, though, by throwing away perfectly serviceable firearms, let alone scraps of gold and diamond.
He decided he would get one of his men — Thomas, maybe — to sell the ring for whatever little extra it would bring. Sandra wouldn’t have to know.
A pawn shop was out of the question; the cops would be watching those for the ring, he knew.
His drive home took him through a business section that had been more upscale twenty years before than it was today. A jewelry store in this area might be perfect, Lucas thought. And there was one now, a nice mom and pop establishment that would be in the market for a secondhand wedding ring. He made a mental note of the name for Thomas.