Review: Suicide pact between two lovers, married, but not to each other. She, the wife of an optician, he a dentist married to a scold who could be nicknamed “Big Bertha,” because she is the epitome of a fishwife. They arrange to slip away, under the pretext of a professional dental convention for three blissful days at a St. Paul, Minnesota, hotel.
The dentist has rigged the car so that carbon-dioxide will kill them, a plan with which she concurs. After their three-day tryst, they take the car, put the hose into the car’s interior and begin to suffocate. Along comes Big Bertha, who had enlisted the aid of her cousin, a detective, in tracking down the cheating couple, who smash out the car windows and save them for their ignominious fate, he to live long with Bertha, the bitch, and she, to live in a far-off city with little income after her husband virtuously divorces her.
Quote: “The bell boy knew from her indifference and from her calling the man ‘husband’ that she was not married to him, but unstintingly in love. Such paradoxes are so common in his subterranean business that he had forgotten about Virga by the time he reached his bench in the lobby.”
Short Story Masterpieces. Ed. RP Warren and A. Erskine. New York: Dell Books. 1954.