Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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The voice at the other end of the line was excited. “You wouldn’t guess what I saw downtown this noon at Modern Jewelry!”
“I went in to get my ring cleaned, you know the one I mean, I wear all the time, has a ruby. And I was just looking in the showcase when I saw this gorgeous ring!”
“Really?” I tried to sound interested, but rings were not one of the major interests in my life.
“It was beautiful, even more beautiful than the one my former husband gave me.”
Marjorie wore her ring every day. I had never really looked at it, so had no impression of what it looked like.
“If I had that ring, I would never want another for the rest of my life!”
“I wonder what it might cost,” I said to myself. Possibly I could make myself something of a hero by buying it for her. What could it cost, a couple of hundred dollars at the most?
“Tell me more,” I said. “Did you say Modern Jewelry?”
“Yes, on Main Street. Oh, Doug, it’s so lovely! There are two beautiful sapphires on top and a number of small diamonds along the sides. Those diamonds are probably just chips, and not very expensive.”
Not very expensive! That was a break. But sapphires sounded expensive. Perhaps five hundred dollars, I guessed.
“The tag number on the ring was 2065W . I jotted it down. If only I had had my checkbook with me. I would have purchased it. I'll probably go down later in the week and pick it up -- if it hasn't been sold. If someone buys it, I'll die!"
In my mind, I had concluded that Marjorie expected me to make the next move.
“Don’t buy it just yet,” I said. “I’d like to go down to take a look at it.”
“Oh, would you!” She bubbled. “The tag number is 2065W. Did I tell you that? I value your opinion so much! Tell me whether I should buy it or not.”
A word about me. My name is Douglas Cramer. My former wife and I were married sixteen years. She died unexpectedly a year ago. Feeling the need for female companionship, I asked Marjorie Warner, a divorced woman, whom I met at a party whether she would accompany me to dinner at a well-known restaurant. She agreed and we became friendly after that, maybe even a little more than friendly, meeting frequently. It had not seemed important at the time that I was almost twenty years older than she. And I had not thought it meant much when, one day, she had told me that she was expensive.
It was snowing after work. I made my way to Modern Jewelry and asked to see the item with the tag, 2065W.
“Oh yes,” the salesman said, “Marjorie Warner said that someone might be coming in to look at it. You’re her . . ., her . . . “
“I’m her friend,” I said. “She wanted me to look at the item.”
“Just a moment, sir.”
The salesman unlocked the showcase and carefully brought out a ring. He placed it in my hand and awaited my comment.
I examined it. It was as Susan had said. The sapphires looked much darker than I had expected -- almost black. I couldn't see why Marjorie had fallen in love with this particular ring. It didn't seem that impressive to me.
The price, was, of course, of paramount importance, and I found it written on the tag in black handwritten numbers. $2099! Two thousand and ninety-nine dollars! The price was a shocker.
I reflected upon the idea of simply thanking the man, stalking out of the shop, and exiting Marjorie’s life. I quashed the idea and decided to purchase the ring for her. If, in the future, it appeared that more was expected from me, I would definitely say goodbye, I thought.
Was bargaining in order? I wondered. No, I was already into this purchase up to my ears. A few dollars, more or less, wasn’t going to make much difference. Besides, I didn’t know what the salespeople thought about my relationship with Marjorie. I wasn’t going to let them feel I would blink over an expensive ring.
“I’ll pick it up in a day or so,” I said. After providing some necessary information to the salesman, I left the shop. I was experiencing a curious mixture of elation, confusion, and anger.
That evening, I called Marjorie. “I saw the ring, dear, and bought it for you. I’ll need a few days to get the money, but I should have it for you by Tuesday.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you so much!” Her voice was choked with excitement. “I was definitely going to buy it myself, but every time I wear the ring, I’ll think of you!”
The next day, I called the bank and asked them to transfer two thousand dollars from my savings account to my checking account. In another day or two, I had picked up the ring and paid for it.
It was arranged that Marjorie and I would both take a half day of vacation from work, and that I would take the ring to her home at one o’clock. At the appointed time, I arrived at her home and rang the bell.
“Come in, Doug.” Her voice seemed to come from a distance.
Opening the door, I walked in and up the short flight of steps to the living room. Marjorie was not there so I made myself comfortable on the couch.
A moment or two later, Marjorie walked in. She was wearing a blue bathrobe that was partially open at the front. “Sorry for my appearance,” she said “I came home, took a shower, and fell asleep. You just woke me up.”
I tried to act nonchalant as Marjorie sat next to me and eagerly opened the little packet that I gave her. She examined the ring and handed it to me. “Slip it on my finger,” she said. “It is so beautiful,” she gasped, as I placed the ring on the third finger of her left hand. “How can I thank you?”
It seemed natural that I should put my arms around her and begin kissing her. As I did so, her robe opened slightly more but I kept my eyes averted.
“Doug,” she said,” I think you should lock the door.”
I did as she had requested, and went back to the couch. We began kissing again.
Suddenly she stiffened, and said, “I’m sorry if I seem a little cold. I’m so worried! How would you like to see me in stripes?”
“What?” Her sudden turn of mood had confused me.
“Did you know that I recently ordered a new car?” She asked.
“No, I didn’t?”
“This was about a three weeks ago. It was a Lincoln. The price was about thirty thousand. I had the money then and was going to pay cash. I just got a call telling me that the car has arrived. I can’t pay for it!”
“Marjorie, you just told me that you had the money and were going to pay cash.”
“Yes I know I said that, Doug. But that was three weeks ago. I spent some of the money and now I can’t pay for the car.”
“What does all this have to do with stripes?”
“I’m going to write a check anyway, and I may land in prison.”
“Marjorie, you can’t do that! The check will bounce. You’ll get yourself into a peck of trouble.”
“Yes, I know, but I have to do something! I just don’t have enough money in my checking account.”
“How much are you short?”
“A couple of thousand.”
“I can help you, Marjorie. I can lend you that amount for a short time.” A thought occurred to me. “Didn’t you tell me the other day that you had an income tax refund coming?”
“Yes, and it’s for just about what I need. I can repay you when I get the refund. That’s awfully sweet of you for offering. You are a dear!”
I breathed a sigh of relief. The idea had flickered though my mind that she might ask me to pay for the whole thing.
I couldn’t go wrong, I thought. She was going to get her refund within a couple of weeks. In the meantime it wouldn’t hurt to loan her the money. After all, a couple of thousand was only a small part of the money that the car cost. There wasn’t much danger that she would stick me for the money. I saw her every day and would know when her refund arrived, and I would put a claim on it as soon as the check hit her mailbox..
“I’m sorry to ask you for this, Doug,” she said. “Can we go out now and arrange for the loan?”
“Yes,” I said.
That evening, as I reviewed the events of the day, I realized that Marjorie’s remark about wearing stripes had, of course, been a ploy. Not for one moment would she have considered writing a bad check, knowing full well, that she did not have the funds. She was smarter than that. But, ploy or not, she had gotten her way.
Marjorie picked up the car, a pale blueberry color, with a white top, and gave me a ride. She was very proud of her new car.
“You know,” she commented, “a Lincoln is basically what used to be called a Lincoln Continental. It has the same quality.”
I hadn’t known this. Nor was I impressed. If she had said the car was basically a Rolls-Royce, I would have perked up my ears.
During the next several weeks, I kept asking Marjorie whether she had received the refund yet. She kept saying, no, but that she expected it any day now.
Finally, one day, she told me that there had been a mistake in her tax return. There would be no refund. She was terribly sorry, but she would have to owe me the money for an indefinite period of time.
I knew that she really meant an infinite length of time. So, I made the best of a bad situation. I told her that she could forget the loan and except the money as a gift.
“I don’t know how to thank you, Doug,” she gushed. “You’re so sweet!”
“Marjorie,” I blurted out,” are you familiar with the term, Sugar Daddy?”
“Am I your Sugar Daddy?”
In an instant her face turned purple. “Don’t you dare ever ask me that question again!” she demanded heatedly. “That was a reprehensible thing for you to ask! Do it again, and I will give you a piece of my mind that you will never forget!”
I did not respond. She had given me the answer I needed. I finally realized something that should have occurred to me much sooner. Without a word I walked to the steps leading to her doorway, exited her home, entered my car, and drove off. That was the last time I saw, talked, or heard from her.