A Little Excitement
The only exciting thing about Harold was his money. He only ever traveled on business, and accounting wasn't exactly the sort of work that took you anywhere interesting. And he was so careful, so precise, it infuriated her. All she wanted, all she asked, was a little excitement!
True, she'd married him because she was looking for safety and security, but she was tired of all that. She'd been through a lot, and she'd been foolish. It was his fault, for taking advantage of her. All her disgust for the man she'd married welled up in her, and she said the words she'd been thinking for a very long time.
"Harold, I want a divorce!"
He turned around, blinked at her, and started to open his mouth.
"It's no use, Harold! Don't even try to change my mind. I've made my decision, and that's it."
He looked at her for a moment, as if studying one of his balance sheets. Her lip curled.
"Very well, Theresa, if that's what you want. I'll draw up a list of our assets and give it to you in the morning. You can look it over with your lawyer, and I'm sure we can come to an agreement."
He was being so reasonable she wanted to snatch up one of the lamps and smash it into his face. "You'll hear from my lawyer, all right, Harold," she muttered as she stomped off, heels clattering on the polished floor.
The next day, sitting in the office of a lawyer one of her friends had recommended, Theresa was in an even worse mood.
"Just tell me how I can get the house, and still keep enough money to have fun!"
"As I've already explained, it isn't quite that simple. Even if we assume you are able to gain some advantage, the court will expect at least some semblance of a fair settlement. The home you presently occupy with your husband is, ah, rather lavish for your income, and consequently its value..."
"That's just what Harold said!" She bared her teeth. "I'm not giving up the house. It isn't as if he's going to want it in any case. He'd just sell it!"
"But, you see, if you retain the home, the court will consider its value in evaluating any settlement. That will mean you are unlikely to be awarded a significant amount, and since keeping up the house will itself require substantial funds, you would have very little left over for other expenses."
"Do you know, you sound just like Harold when you talk like that?! Don't argue with me, just tell me how I can get what I want!"
The lawyer sighed. "I'm afraid its completely impossible..."
"If you can't get me what I want, then I'll find someone who will!" Theresa stormed out of the office, slamming the door so hard heads turned down the length of the corridor.
She smiled sweetly at them and pulled out her cell phone. Before she had a chance to call any of her friends, a new thought struck her. Why should she lose the house? She'd loved it ever since she first set eyes on it. Henry hadn't wanted to buy it; she'd needed to fight him with everything she had. If there weren't enough money to divide between them, then she'd just have to see she got it all.
Of course, she couldn't just come out and ask anyone, in case they talked. It would look odd, especially after something happened to Harold. So she hinted to a few friends she trusted, read old newspapers, and put on dark glasses, went into a very unpleasant bar, and asked a some direct questions there. In the meantime, she told Harold she was looking over the list with her lawyer, and maintained an icy silence between them.
It didn't take her long to hear of someone named Tony DiRico. Just his name excited her. It sounded so dangerous. He was probably tall, and strong, with dark hair and eyes, and she hoped he'd be open to letting her pay some of his fee, well, a little unconventionally. She wrote down a number for him and kept it in her purse, but couldn't quite get up the nerve to call.
She tried to learn more about Tony, and was glad she'd hesitated. His picture in the paper wasn't nearly as interesting as she'd imagined, and it seemed he'd been caught a few times. If anyone suspected anything when Harold died, it might make things difficult. So she disguised herself even more carefully this time, went to another bar, and asked a few more questions.
The answers led her to a dingy little club, where she met with a man who was willing to give her answers. He looked her all over, counted the money she'd brought, then leaned back.
"The fellow you want is called the Shadow. Nobody knows his real name, keeps changing his number. Real careful guy. Right now, you want to get ahold of him, you call this number to set up a meeting. I can't tell you more than that, cause I don't know more than that."
He slid a grimy slip of paper with a number scrawled on it across the table to her. She took it and stuffed it into her purse beside Tony's number.
Theresa began to get really excited. The Shadow had real reasons for being careful, not like Harold. He sounded very effective. She bet he was going to look a lot like she'd thought Tony DiRico would. She called the number, left a message, and waited nervously until a guy with a very husky voice called her back. She arranged a meeting, at a very seedy little hotel where nobody would ask too many questions.
Theresa was there early, dressed in a short skirt and the lowest cut blouse she'd ever worn. She sprawled back on the rickety bed in what she hoped was a provocative pose. She was watching the door eagerly when a soft hand stole around from behind her and clamped over her mouth. She watched, unable to scream, as a needle approached her arm.
"Before we finish this, Theresa, I think you should know a few things." It sounded a lot like Harold's voice, but that was impossible. He was much too drab and careful to risk anything like this. "There's nothing in the needle but air. A tiny air bubble will be enough to stop your heart. Even if the police notice a puncture, in a place like this..."
She tried to twist away, but the needle went in and she watched in horror as the plunger was driven home.
"There. It will only be a few minutes now, for the bubble to reach your heart. While we wait, you might want to know a few things. Just to satisfy your curiosity."
Theresa knew she was going to die. She just sagged limply in his arms and let him talk.
"Caution is a very useful attribute if you want to survive in this profession. It helps keep you from getting caught. It also helps if you have a cover. A dull and boring profession, say as an accountant, raises no suspicions at all. No one looks twice at us."
"Oh, and in case you're wondering, I would have let you go through with the divorce. It was only when I knew for certain that you wouldn't be satisfied with half my money and were going to try to kill me that I decided it must end this way."
She forced her head around and stared in horror into Harold's face. As a burning sensation spread through her chest, she realised her husband was an exciting man after all. If only she'd know that before it was too late!