Two days later, Ivaan said to me, in the quiet voice he used when he was really upset, that the contractors had stolen his ruby heart and chain, which he'd left on the mahogany table. I was slightly incredulous, because I knew what was on that table, and if one were to have touched anything, one risked triggering an avalanche that would have buried the hapless contractors alive. We discussed what to do. Ivaan felt there was no point in reporting it to the police, or building management, or the ventilation company. He said he would take the pain of the theft of his masterpiece to his grave. He was genuinely deeply wounded by the loss.
A year later, I was at home, cleaning out the drawers of Ivaan's dressing table. In the very back of the top right drawer, behind the bow ties, the suspenders, the silk pocket squares, the handkerchiefs, the scarves, the yarmulke, the cufflinks, tucked away neatly, was the ruby heart: the very same ruby heart and chain that Ivaan said the ventilation contractors had stolen.
I tried to keep my face perfectly solemn as I went to Ivaan and asked, "Remember the ruby heart and chain?" Ivaan looked at me with a pained expression. "Don't remind me", he said. "Remember how those workmen took it off your mahogany table?" I persisted. "I will take that memory to my grave", reiterated Ivaan. "It's so strange, what they did", I continued. "What's so strange about it? They stole my masterpiece" cried Ivaan. "They probably didn't even know what it was, and they stole it."
I savoured my moment of triumph. Finally I could resist no longer. "What's so strange isn't that they stole it". I said. "What's strange is that after they stole it, they broke in here and hid it in the back of your dresser drawer." And I opened my hand and showed him the ruby heart and chain.
"Oh", said Ivaan. Just that one word. "Oh."