Double Indemnity, what are you about?
Insurance agent Walter Huff is telling us a story, and we’re not quite sure what it’s about but we’re pretty sure it’s not good because he mentions a “House of Death” in the first paragraph. So here we have Walter, tried-and-true insurance man. Straight as an arrow . . . or so he would have us BELIEVE.
But wait . . . who’s this? A voluptuous lady with a husband she’s not overly fond of (but who is perfectly decent to her, I might point out). And what is this? You say she’s dropping hints about accident insurance? Run, Walter, run!
But Walter doesn’t run. Why, Walter, WHY?
“A reputable agent don’t get mixed up in stuff like that, but she was walking around the room, and I saw something I hadn’t noticed before. Under those blue pajamas was a shape to set a man nuts.” (p. 10)
Oh. Well, then. I suppose you’ll have to do something crazy, won’t you, Walter? For what chance does a man have against a set of winding lady curves?
|Murder plots: the basis of every healthy relationship|
So Walter and this tall drink of water waste no time scheming to knock off her husband. Their plan is to make it look like a train accident so they can collect a double indemnity (train accidents are the most uncommon of all the many kinds of accidents and, thus, yield the biggest insurance payout). As an insurance agent, Walter has a specific body of knowledge that proves extremely useful in this endeavor.
“I know all their tricks. I lie awake nights thinking up tricks, so I’ll be ready for them when they come at me. And then one night I think up a trick, and get to thinking I could crook the wheel myself if I could only put a plant out there to put down my bet. That’s all. When I met Phyllis I met my plant.” (pp. 29–30)
Around this point, I started working up some healthy indignation about Mr. Cain making The Woman look like a silly, bored housewife who needed The Big Strong Working Man to come along and handle her business. But I was wrong, dear readers, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. This is 125 pages of twists and turns, and those conclusions I jumped to were wrong, ALL WRONG.