It’s the little things that finally bring a marriage to an end, a word here, a word there, and then the only solution is to go your separate ways.
They made some attempts to reconcile, but it didn’t happen. She said she had been solving the jumbles for months and that he showed no real interest in them except to spoil them for her.
“What do you mean?” he’d said.
“You know damn well what I mean, reading over my shoulder and blurting out answers. And your ridiculous puns that contain the words in the puzzle.”
“Wait, wait, don’t tell me,” he said. “You don’t find them funny.”
He took an apartment nearby and out of necessity took the bus to work each day which meant passing by her house on his way to the stop.
She was a late riser, and seeing the newspaper there on the driveway as he passed by irked him.
She will get the house, the jumbles are mine, he thought. She doesn’t even solve them all the time. What a waste. It was then he got the idea. He took the paper out of its orange plastic sleeve. A sleeve apparently meant to protect it not just from the weather but also from the cold hard concrete since it came covered every day not just on the days it rained.
He took the paper and quickly turned to the page with the jumble and in permanent ink marker – she used a pencil with a big eraser – he quickly filled in the words and solved the cartoon puzzle. It seldom took more than a minute or two to work his magic.
He returned the paper to its cover and replaced it on the driveway and continued on his way.
It was petty, he knew, but the satisfaction of solving the puzzle and preventing her from doing it was JUST too good to pass up.
This went on for several weeks, and he was surprised that she hadn’t caught him at his crime. He wondered if she had quit solving them now that he was gone.
The final meeting of the attorneys was on a Wednesday. He considered the proposed settlement fair. He had, unknown to her, a bit of gold secreted away in a safe deposit box. He did not plan to share it.
The divorce was final six months later, and he had planned a trip to Europe to celebrate. He went to the safe deposit box to recover the gold which he planned to use to finance the trip, but when he opened the box, the gold was gone and in its place an envelope. It was then he remembered that she too had a key.
He took the envelope, his mind a jumble of thoughts, and returned home. He opened the envelope expecting to find a nasty little note from her and a picture of her smiling, the gold coins in a stack on the table next to her, but instead he found this: