Mr. Ignotus was an ethical man. He would dress up each day in his suit and tie, black, polished shoes and gelled hair, kiss his wife on her cheek before making his way out of the house to the office. He would work 8 hours a day, earn his monthly wages and like a sincere husband, would return home before the stroke of 7pm.
But as it is said, strange things happen to the most normal persons, and so it did.
It was a Saturday afternoon when Mr. and Mrs. Ignotus were strolling in an alley, window shopping. Mrs. Ignotus had already bought two beautiful evening gowns for herself when her eye fell on the sparkling diamond in a window. She stood there mesmerized. Her husband noticed her missing only after he had walked a good ten steps ahead.
He trotted back to where she stood still, eagerly gazing at the diamond.
‘It sure is beautiful, honey,’ he remarked, ‘But quite out of our budget.’
She looked at him with eyes full of eagerness and want, but Mr. Ignotus was a man who cut his coat according to the cloth. He smiled, grabbed her hand and started moving forward.
But Mrs. Ignotus was a headstrong lady. She wanted what she desired. She stood firm ground.
‘You have never invested in diamond jewelry,’ she remarked, ‘I think it’s time you look into it.’
‘Dear one,’ he replied, still soft in his ways, ‘If it was quite affordable for the likes of me, those diamonds would not remain so precious anymore.’
‘It’s alright to spend a little extra on your wife’s happiness sometimes.’
‘Just last month, we had been on a rather extravagant vacation, dear.’
‘I want this stone around my neck!’
‘Honey, we will talk about it later, let’s go now.’
‘Promise me you will get it for me as my anniversary present.’
Mr. Ignotus, having lost to his stubborn wife promised her that he would get her that diamond. It was only then that she move away from the shop’s window, put her arm around his and walked home. She had absolutely nothing to worry now, because Mr. Ignotus was a man of his words.
However, all Mr. Ignotus could do was worry. Never had he ever slipped on his word, but he could not comprehend anyway of getting that diamond. He could in no way afford such an expensive gift for his lady. He was an upper middle class man who worked at a printing publications. He looked after the sorting of clients, advertisements, sponsorships and the customers. He was in no line for becoming the editor nor was he a designer or columnist. His job was that with a fixed salary, with a regular, minimal increment, no risks and no steep growth.
He wondered how he would manage to buy such an exorbitant stone. He wondered how he would enter the shop where only elegant people in high priced suits treaded, where only the high class people order coffee and over coffee the deals of millions are transacted. He neither had the clothes, nor the confidence to walk in through the glass doors let alone try to buy the gem.
Days flew by, with morning teas, late afternoon lunches and early retirements to bed.
Two months remaining to the anniversary of the 4 year married couple when the thought really started haunting Mr. Ignotus. He started wishing he hadn’t made the promise to his wife. Either he would have to somehow manage to buy that ring or break his promise and console a fuming woman. Unless…
The thought was a thunderbolt in his otherwise ethical brain. He had never imagined he could even think such thoughts. It was an insult to the mind of a common middle class man like him – a tremendous disrespect to his effort-taking nature. It was something that should come and go like a lightening bolt. But, nevertheless, the idea lingered like the after effects of a bolt, making its way into the deeper senses, carving newer, more evil thoughts, turning the inch of bad in him against him.
‘But, it’s illegal!’ he exclaimed to the mirror as his shaving cream landed on the washbasin.‘Are you alright, dear?’ Mrs. Ignotus asked from outside the door, concerned.
A little lightheaded Mr. Ignotus whirled around, the blade giving him a bloody cut on his left cheek.
‘Yes, I’m fine, I’m fine,’ he replied in panic.
It almost felt as if his wife could hear his thoughts. He was afraid of what she would think of him. A man she had respected for his respect for the society, his loyalty and truthfulness, having fallen to the standards of thieves. Even the thought of looking into her eyes after having thought such disgusting things felt wrong and shameful.
He quickly cleaned his face and took a quick shower before wrapping a towel around him. Coming out, he put on the crisp, ironed shirt his wife had set out for him on the bed. Pulling up his usual black trousers, gelling his hair, he stepped out after a brief kiss on his wife’s forehead.
He kept himself busy all day, what with the accident just outside the station, the jampacked subway and the piled up files in the office. Yet, just as it is said, the evilest thoughts occupy the most space.
Every free moment, was it while he turned pages of his newspaper, in the coffee break or while walking on the sidewalk, his mind wandered to think what it could be like if he succeeded in doing the evil job.
Two days, he thought about the practicalities and the feasibility of the situation. He gave a thought to all the angles, perspectives and possibilities. A deeper thought was given to the place, time and attire.
The next day he found himself in front of the Bank of America with a cheque of an amount he had never imagined he would want to withdraw. He stood ground for a moment, gazing up the glass windows of the tall, historic bank before walking in briskly.
‘Cheque encash,’ he said to a man behind the desk.
The man looked up from his half moon spectacles and gave him one glance before telling him to deposit the cheque in the cheque-box.
Mr. Ignotus looked down at the green colored cheque, the crazy number of zeroes in the amount box and looked back at the clerk.
‘I want to encash the money,’ he said to the man, his voice wavering slightly.
The man looked back up frustrated, a cheque encash at this early in the morning is always dull. He held out his hand for the cheque.
Mr. Ignotus places the long green slip on his hand. The clerk took it and looked down at the amount with a bored expression. But as his eyes landed on the insane number of zeroes, they went wide in shock. He got up from his chair confused. He had known Mr. Ignotus for quite many years and this was most unlikely of him to be withdrawing such an amount.
‘Are you sure you wish to withdraw this amount, sir?’ he asked Mr. Ignotus pointedly showing the amount to him.
‘Yes, I’m pretty sure I want to withdraw this very amount, sir,’ Mr. Ignotus replied without giving the cheque a second glance.
The clerk looked a little bewildered. But all the same, he got up from his chair and made his way to the manager’s cabin. Pushing aside the pair of half doors, he burst in shoving the cheque in Mr. Salmon’s face. An irritated Mr. Salmon looked at the clerk with half sleepy eyes questioning him for this weird behaviour.
‘What is it, Mr. Ivan?’ asked Mr. Salmon.
‘A customer with a high cash cheque sir,’ the clerk stammered.
‘How high can it be?’ said Mr. Salmon rhetorically, taking the green slip from his hand and examining the amount box. His eyes went the same way Mr. Ivan’s had when they fell on the number of zeroes. They quickly traversed to the name space and signature column. Seeing who it was increased the shock manifold.
This young man, Mr. Ignotus had never taken out more than 5000 in cash at once. Yet, here he was, trying to encash a cheque which would practically empty his account.
Mr. Salmon rushed out with Mr. Ivan at his heels. He walked to where Mr. Ignotus was seated and asked him to join him in the cabin.
After a brief discussion about the family well being and other things – Mr. Salmon and his customers always had friendly relations, and Mr. Ignotus was one of the oldest customers of the bank, infact his very first account at the age of 18 was created with this bank, signed by Mr. Salmon, who was a clerk at that time – the conversation took a more formal tone.
‘Mr. Ignotus, if the family is all good and you aren’t shifting anywhere, then what may be the reason of you withdrawing such an amount?’
‘It’s for personal reasons,’ replied Mr. Ignotus.
‘I’m afraid the bank must know a valid reason for such a huge amount.’
‘Then, I’m afraid I will have to end my long relationship with this bank,’ Mr. Ignotus went for the direct kill, with the ultimate blackmail any customer can do to a bank.
‘But what is so secretive about your usage of this much amount of money, Mr. Ignotus?’
‘As I said, it is for certain important personal reasons which I would not like to divulge.’
Mr. Salmon heaved a breath. Mr. Ignotus was one stubborn man.
‘Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?’ he asked.
‘No thank you,’ he replied.
‘Something cold then?’
‘Only my money.’
‘I’m afraid that won’t be so cold,’ said Mr. Salmon, trying to crack a joke so as to lighten the mood and get Mr. Ignotus to spill the beans.
But Mr. Ignotus didn’t laugh. He was a man with a mission.
Mr. Salmon gave up. He signed the approval and the cash was brought. It took two hours for the staff to count it and fill it in Mr. Ignotus’s bag, after which Mr. Ignotus briefly shook the manager’s hand and walked off.
He walked straight home, trying to look as if he was carrying a normal office bag, deposited half of the money in his locker and the rest in his wallet.
With the wallet, he walked to the Bank of California – the bank of the high class – and created an account, depositing all the money in his wallet in the account.
The next stop was ‘The Tailormades’.
It was a designer shop for suits made for advocates and big shot men, for people who could afford a Rolls Royce.
He walked in wearing his best suit which wasn’t at all suited for the place. The doorman gave him a second glance before letting him in. The attendant who came to help him looked at him from head to toe with a disgusted expression before asking how he could help.
‘I would like a tailor made suit for the opening of my new firm,’ said Mr. Ignotus, throwing his rehearsed opening statement.
The word ‘firm’ got the attendant’s attention.
‘Right this way sir,’ he pointed and led him to one counter.
As was in favour of Mr. Ignotus, high class shops don’t pester their customers much with unnecessary questions.
Mr. Ignotus selected a dark navy blue suit, with a white shirt. The tie was not necessary but he bought one all the same.
After the measurements were taken and the payments were done – via the account in Bank of California, he walked out.
Seeing such a huge amount of money that he spent on a suit, the Bank of California offered him a credit service. He registered for a VIP credit card with a huge limit.
Next, he walked to the shoe place and bought a pair of polished black shoes.
Fifteen days passed as his routine life carried on. The suit was ready, picked up and the plan was ready.
On the day decided – three days before Mr. Ignotus’s wedding anniversary, he dressed up in the blue suit. Wearing the black shoes, he picked up his wallet, gave one look at the credit card and placing it back in the wallet, walked out.
He took the most expensive cab to the alley which was just a few blocks away. He tipped the car driver 50 dollars as he got out and the doorman having seen this eagerly opened the door for this gentleman.
An attendant quickly came forward with a smiling face, asking how she could help.
‘My wife rather liked a pendant in your window yesterday,’ he said, with an air of being important.
The attendant took him to one of the cosy, sophisticated seating places and showed him a variety of pendants. When his eyes fell on the particular pendant his wife had admired, he picked it up and told the attendant that this was it.
She took it from him and sent it to be polished.
In such exquisite shops, the cost of the articles are never discussed – they are directly transacted.
Mr. Ignotus handed over his card of Bank of California.
The transaction was made just in limit and the diamond was handed over to Mr. Ignotus in a red velvet box.
He walked out with it. He asked for a cab to be called, tipped the doorman 10 dollars – to his disappointment and stepped into the cab.
Reaching home, he carefully packed the box in the bag which was packed by his wife as instructed by him – the bag containing all their important belongings. He stepped out of the house handing the key over to the caretaker, took the next train and left the city with all the money they had.
The robbery which was planned in 1 month, executed in half an hour was found out and enquiry had started. But Mr. and Mrs. Ignotus had changed cities, identities and went from being the loyal, genuine citizens of America to illegal criminals.