She was bringing in the groceries when she realized her husband was on the telephone.
She almost dropped the bottle of ketchup when she overheard:
Who would blackmail her husband? And why?
He walked into the kitchen.
“Everything okay?” she asked.
“Oh, sure. Everything is fine.”
She knew that this man couldn’t be pressed into telling her anything bad until he was good and ready.
She tried to act naturally and made the evening meal.
While eating dessert, her husband announced, “I’ll be going down to The Olde Oak Barrels for a drink after dinner. Hope you don’t mind.”
“Can I come with you?” she immediately responded.
“I promised Don that I would have a game of darts with him. I’ll take you out tomorrow for your birthday.”
After he had left, she went upstairs to their bedroom. She searched every pocket of every pair of pants, every jacket and shirt. She collected a broken golf tee, old mint candy wrappers from restaurants they had visited in the past and a couple of used Kleenex. Not much fodder for blackmail there. She knelt down and examined the inside of his shoes. She knocked on the heels to see if there might be a secret compartment. Nothing.
She walked over to his dresser and pulled out his sock drawer. Looking at the neat piles of matching socks stopped her in her tracks. He didn’t put his socks away – she did. She emptied the drawer every now and again because she couldn’t stand the socks not being in their proper places. Black with the black, blue with the blue. She closed the drawer knowing that she was the owner and protector of his sock drawer.
She sat on the bed and cried. She felt guilty and embarrassed at what she had done. He would tell her … when he was ready.
He didn’t get back home until late that night and she was asleep.
Next morning she awoke to muffled sounds in the kitchen. She could hear her husband saying “be quiet” softly and often. He entered the bedroom with a sturdy brown box.
“Happy Birthday, love. Hope you like your present.”
He laid the box down carefully on the bed. The flaps flipped up and a little black head poked out.
“He’s adorable,” she said. “When did you get him?”
“But you went to the pub last night.”
“Well, that was a little white lie, or, when you look at the box, perhaps a little black lie.”
She couldn’t stand it. “What about the telephone conversation of yesterday about the blackmail?”
“Blackmail? Oh, you mean black male!” He laughed. “You must have caught the last bit of my conversation with the breeder. She asked what sex and colour and I responded black, male.”
“One hundred was the cost?”
“One hundred was the address.”
She smiled. He had kept a secret from her and she wouldn’t tell him how dirt-free his pockets were.