Friday Night Story


My wife is going to kill me. I haven’t unearthed clandestine documents or a dark coconspirator. But it’s coming.

Emily and I are newly-weds, married only 9 months. By most accounts, the honeymoon shouldn’t be over yet. But the ardent love of our foibles and failings is nonexistent. She doesn’t even watch the shows we used to watch together anymore.

The other night, her ring brushed against my cheek, and I stirred. The diamond was red-brown. I tried to ignore it, but it got to me, and I tossed for twenty minutes. I tried to pull it from her finger. I got soap, and a little bit of that massage oil she used to love, but it wouldn’t budge. And I couldn’t sleep next to her, with that red diamond shimmering at me in the moonlight.

She woke me the next morning on the couch. She seemed hurt that I’d left her all alone. I asked her about her ring, and she broke down.

The day before, a co-worker, Martha Groom, from accounting, had confronted her. She’d been shaving money off the top of her budget, and placing it into a war chest, a discretionary account she planned to use to get her team the new project. Martha, a woman in her fifties who looked like a woman in her sixties, demanded ten percent off the top of the account, or she was going to report her.

And my wife punched her in the eye. Her diamond cut a slice off the old woman's eyelid as she fell over, and she hadn’t noticed the blood. Emily scrubbed it away, but underneath, the stone had taken on a pink hue. I wanted to tell her, but I hadn’t slept well on the couch, and didn’t have the energy for another fight.

Martha never told on her, and Emily used the money to put together a catered presentation that won her the project. I don’t’ know if they’d come to an understanding, or if women bond after a physical confrontation like men do, but she invited Martha onto the project, as well. Meanwhile, things at home became even more tense. She spent most of her days at work, and I started to wonder if she was having an affair.

She bought a machete. I know I haven’t taken excellent care of our back yard, and it has taken on a jungle life of its own. But she didn’t put the machete in the garage, with the mower and the trimmer, the spades and hoes and shovels. She keeps it in her nightstand, beneath a copy of a Greg Campbell book.

By now her ring had taken on a red ochre. I mentioned during a dinner I cooked that perhaps she’d spilled wine on it, and she stabbed me with her salad fork. I’m glad I didn’t tell her while we were eating steak, which she now demands rare.

And all the while, my discomfort, and my anger remained focused on her ring. I don’t understand how I knew, but I knew. I checked on the statistics. Less than 1% of diamonds come from conflict regions, their purchase largely benefiting rebel and insurgent militants.

Through a series of long distance communications and bribes, I tracked her diamond to a remote location in Darfur. The village had been decimated by the Janjaweed militants, and the villagers' bodies dumped in mass graves. The local people had believed in the power of their ancestors in their lives, to aid them if revered, or curse them if slighted.

That’s why I’ve decided to cut off her finger. I love my wife. I love her enough to mutilate her. For a week she’s been whispering in her sleep, about violence, and murder, and every now and then, me. She only drinks Cabernet Sauvignon now, and I poured her an entire bottle before bed. But I’ll have to move quickly— she keeps her machete razor-sharp, and her hand on her night stand.

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