Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bill Baber


The joint was thick with smoke and frayed threads of conversation. There was the sound of ice cubes tickling glass and above the din Sinatra crooned on the juke box.

She sat at the bar, a cigarette between her red, brightly painted lips. An extra dry martini, with a twist- and barely touched- in front of her.

She wore her hair, which was the same color as her camel hair coat, in a short bob. Her eyes were sea green, and when you gazed into them they were deeper than any ocean.

She was my ex. She left me for some Joe she worked with, an insurance salesman. She had called me here.

"Helene," I said as I approached the bar. She turned, greeting me with a thin smile.

"Thanks for coming, Hal," she said. We had been married two years- happily, or so I thought. I hadn't seen her in almost a year, not since she walked out. It had hit me like a ton of bricks. Like a bolt from the blue. All she said was, "There's someone else. I don’t love you anymore."

"What is it?" I asked.

"I've made a terrible mistake," she replied. "We got married you know, in Vegas, two months ago."

I felt like someone punched me in the gut. Thought I would be sick right there.

She placed a hand on my shoulder. "I'm afraid of him."

"Why?" I asked. "You must have thought he was pretty swell to throw away what we had."

"That’s why I said I made a mistake, Hal. I want to leave him."

"Yeah, you dames are fickle," I said coldly. "Find some other sap." I turned to leave.

"Please, wait," she begged. "I’m afraid he's going to kill me."

That got my attention. "What do you mean?"

"He’s taken out a million dollar life insurance policy on me. And he was married before; his first wife disappeared and was never found. I’m scared, Hal. Can you help me?"

"Go to the cops," I told her. "And there's somewhere else I should tell you to go."

"I can’t go to the police. It's just a suspicion I have. They won't act on that. Please, I don't know where else to turn."

We finished our drinks. "All right. I’ll give it some thought."

I was at their apartment the next morning. After they left for work I jimmied the lock. I found a policy all right- along with a .38. Called her husband and said I was interested in buying a large amount of insurance on my parents. Set up a phony meeting across town that afternoon.

I was waiting in the apartment when she came in.

"Hello, Helene." I held the gun in a gloved hand. I shot her three times. She had taken out a two million dollar policy on him and thought she could play me like a fiddle.

They arrested her husband for her murder. Nobody cashed in. But I got even with both of them. That was worth something.

BILL BABER has had over two dozen crime stories published and his stories have recently appeared in Rogue from Near to the Knuckle, Hardboiled Crime Scene from Dead Guns Press and Locked & Loaded from One Eye Press. His 2014 short story "Sleepwalk" was nominated for a Derringer Award. He has also had a number of poems published online and in the occasional literary journal. A book of his poetry, Where the Wind Comes to Play was published by Berberis Press in 2011. He lives in Tucson with his wife and a spoiled dog and has been known to cross the border for a cold beer. He is working on his first novel.


Gail Farrelly said...

I enjoyed Bill's story. This is a fun new site. Bravo, Gerald!


Bruce Harris said...

Awesome having Bill in the lead off spot. Great story. Great way to launch a new and fascinating site!

AliasMo said...

Great idea, Gerald! Fun story, Bill! I'll watch for the next one. - Mo