Val started shoplifting because she was fed up with Tom’s obsessive honesty.
In restaurants, when a side salad was omitted from the bill, he would always remind the staff. This was the right thing to do. What a truthful fellow! If a shopkeeper gave her husband too much change in error, he would hand it back. Eyebrows were raised in surprise. Here was a decent man. The expenses he claimed from his firm were not inflated by a penny. He never added even a bar of chocolate onto a petrol receipt! Scrupulous chap.
Tom was a lawyer. High-minded, solid, trustworthy. A husband who came home after work and threw no stones into the calm pond of married life. He caused no ripples and steered clear of storms. A nice guy – kind, vague, predictable. And dull!
Val worked in IT. Escaping from computers in her lunch hours she trawled around the shops, hunting for bargains. She ached for more excitement. She began by randomly taking a scarf and ‘forgetting’ to pay for it. It was absurdly easy! No one challenged her. She took to shoplifting like a duck to water and enjoyed outwitting store detectives. Her lunchtime escapades added a delightful frisson of danger to her ordered life.
In time she became addicted and amassed a pile of swag which she hid in the house. She never used the items she appropriated but gave them away to charity shops or as birthday presents. One day Tom came across a heavy gold bracelet stuffed into a kitchen drawer and was horrified when she admitted to crime.
“I don’t want a wife who takes things from shops without paying. It’s stealing.”
“I don’t want a husband who never takes risks. You’re so law-abiding!”
He made her return to the shop, plead absent-mindedness and pay for it. There was no prosecution. Relieved, he made her promise never to come home with anything that had not been paid for.
So Val decided to steal from her husband. She was fascinated to see if he would detect his losses. He never noticed what she said or what she wore so this might jolt him into awareness. Coins were easy prey. Tom emptied his pockets at night and left a pile of change on the chest of drawers. She soon got bored of dropping coins into charity tins on shop counters. It was mere re-cycling.
She appropriated items of his clothing – sweaters, socks, gloves – giving them to the homeless and needy on the street. Tom wasn’t bothered when he mislaid things. Pilfering his wine store was a pushover but bottles were too heavy to dispose of easily so she dumped them in a nearby skip.
She hacked into his bank account and removed a thousand pounds. If Tom discovered the loss, he never mentioned it. Telling him she was off to Harrogate for a weekend with an old school-friend, she took a plane to Egypt, stayed in a 5 star hotel and saw the Pyramids.
Annoyed by his bland indifference to her mounting depredations, she confessed everything to Tom and was amazed to discover he was unaware of it. He treated the whole matter as a costly joke in bad taste played on him by his wife. He asked her to stop.
At his next birthday, Val gave Tom an expensive gold wristwatch.
“Very generous of you, darling.” he said carefully.
“You know how good I am at finding a bargain,” she murmured.
He shot her a wary look.
“It was a steal!” she teased.