“…that’ll work. Alright. Yep, bye.”
Amanda hung up the phone and turned to her boyfriend, “Go to Hell.”
“Why the heck would I go to Hell?”
“I’m craving ice cream.”
“We’ve got ice cream right here.”
“Yeah, but I want a hell-made waffle cone.”
Jarod sighed. “I guess I could get me a Hellacious Ruben.”
“Ooh, yeah. Can you get me a Michigan Salad, too, please?”
Jarod grabbed his keys off a hook by the door. “It’s gonna be about forty-five minutes, you need anything before I head out?”
“No thank you sweetie.” Amanda rubbed her swollen belly. “You’re the best!”
As Jarod merged onto I-94, he noticed a red van with tinted windows in his rear view mirror. Thinking nothing of it, he continued to exit 167 toward Dexter. The red van became his only companion through Dexter and later when turning onto Pinckney. The van turned into the diner behind Jarod. The parking lot was packed with cars so Jarod and the red van parked behind the diner. When Jarod got out of his car, he nodded to the driver in the van. The driver raised his hand in a compulsory wave, revealing a plain silver wedding band. In the instant Jarod saw the band, it looked familiar, but he couldn’t place it.
“Have a hell of a good day!”
Jarod shoved the change in his pocket and nodded to the cashier. He looked around the diner, but didn’t see the man from the red van. The man’s dark complexion and pointed goatee made him stand out from a crowd. The vision of the man’s wedding band haunted Jarod. He knew he had seen it somewhere. Jarod decided when he walked into the diner to see if he could strike up a conversation and perhaps get a better look at the ring.
I must’ve missed him coming or going, thought Jarod.
When he walked around the back of the diner, he saw the red van with the hood raised. The man was leaning over the front, his arms inside the engine compartment up to the elbows.
“Hey, man. Need some help?”
At the sound of his name, Jarod took a step back, but it was too late. He raised arm to deflect the rock clutched in the man’s hand. The first swing tore the plastic bag from his hand, spilling the contents on the ground. The man raised his arm to strike Jarod again. After the third time, Jarod was dead.
The man cast the rock aside and looked for the fallen items. The pint of ice cream was dented and the waffle cone wrapped separately was crushed. The salad container was open, but none of its contents had spilled. The man picked up the wrapped sandwich, sniffed it and it followed the same trajectory as the rock.
“Fuckin’ sour kraut.” The man said under his breath before closing the hood, adjusting his rear view mirror, putting the van in gear and driving back towards Ann Arbor.
Amanda pressed the button on the remote and the TV clicked off. She wasn’t a fan of the WXYZ newscaster. His choice of outfit always seemed contrary to fashion sense. She couldn’t bring herself to watch such an affront to fashion.
Her indignation was interrupted when the front door opened and a man walked through.
“I’m gonna stick this ice cream in the freezer. You want what’s left of the waffle cone?”
She blinked twice and replied, “No, I’ll eat it with the ice cream. Did you get your salad?”
“Yeah, the asshole dropped it, but I managed to save it. Can you believe that dude eats sour kraut? I don’t know why we got involved with him.”
“Look, Damien, fertility treatments are expensive, but this baby…” She rubbed her belly to emphasize her point. “Is your baby.” She reached out to her husband and caressed his hand. “Trust me.”
Damien kissed her on the top of her head. “I need to get this into the freezer.”
“Afterward, can you go upstairs and get my wedding and engagement rings from my jewelry box?”
“Sure thing, babe.” Damien said over his shoulder, heading into the kitchen.
After performing his first task, Damien penned the lid to Amanda’s jewelry box. He retrieved the rings matching his own. Amanda didn’t keep a lot of jewelry, but the large wooden box held some sentiment to her. He was about to close the lid when he noticed the red velour was separated from the case. He tugged at it and revealed a secret compartment. His eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped at what he discovered. Hidden within was wedding sets tied together with twine. Damien counted at least fifteen sets. When he recovered from his initial shock, he uttered, “What the fuck?”
“I really wish you hadn’t found those.”
Damien whirled around to see Amanda pointing a pistol at him. He looked from Amanda to the jewelry box and back to Amanda again. “I guess I know where I stand.” He closed the box with a snap.
“This is different, Damien.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet.” He threw the box at Amanda and charged at her. The box struck her in the face and before she could react, Damien tackled her.
“You’ll hurt the baby!”
Damien punched her in the face, blackening her other eye. She managed to get the pistol between them and squeezed the trigger. Damien rolled back into a kneeling position clutching his wound. Amanda squeezed the trigger twice again and Damien slumped to the floor.
Amanda picked up the phone on the night stand and dialed 9-1-1.
“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”
Amanda started crying. “My husband attacked me and I shot him. I think he’s dead.”
“Ma’am, I’m dispatching the police and an ambulance. I’ll stay on the line with you until they arrive.”
Amanda sobbed, “Thank you so much. I’m so scared.”
Amanda smiled as she heard the wail of a siren in the distance.”