by Bill Baber
“How’s Melissa?” My boss
asked. I hadn’t seen him in months, but the bastard had been in town. He should
know how Melissa was doing; he’d been banging her for six months.
I don’t know what she saw in
him. He was ten years older than me, short, balding, not an attractive guy. He
made more money than me, but that couldn’t have been it. We had a custom home
with a pool and two almost-new cars. Took a couple of real nice vacations every
year. Maybe he was hung like a horse. Who knows what goes on inside a woman’s
There were two ways I could
play it, confront him with the truth, or play dumb. I figured that would really
fuck with him, so that’s what I did.
“Were getting divorced,” I
said as we pulled away from the airport.
“I’m sorry to hear that.” I
didn’t detect any attempt at sympathy.
I glanced at him like the
son-of-a-bitch knew I would. He was looking out the window.
It was time to throw the
“She was screwing around.”
“That sucks,” he said.
“Yeah,” I replied. “Really
sucks for the guy when I find him.”
Must have been something
really damned interesting out that passenger window since there wasn’t much to
see between the airport and downtown Phoenix. I didn’t see much but a steady
stream of commute traffic.
“You need some time away?” he
“No, I’m good. Got an
apartment in Scottsdale, I’ll be all right but I feel sorry for the prick that
did this. Nobody is gonna break up my family and get away with it. No one else
is going to raise my kid, you know what I mean?”
We rode in silence, traffic
inching toward the downtown skyline.
“How did you find out?” he
“Hired a private dick.” I
thought about the old line from Barfly,
the movie about Bukowski. Then I used it myself, laughing a little.
“Hired a dick to find an
asshole. Now somebody’s really going to get fucked.”
I looked at him again. Beads
of sweat had broken out on his forehead. I was enjoying this more than I had
thought I would.
We passed the exit for
Seventh Street, where he had a room booked at a hotel. Probably thought it
would be a little love nest with my ex later that night. He thought wrong.
“Hey, where we going?” he
I had played this scenario
out a thousand times since the P.I. showed me pictures of the two of them.
I pulled the .357 from the
space between the door and my seat.
“Taking a little ride.”
This time, when I looked at
him, there were tears rolling down his cheeks.
“Look,” he said, “what do
you want? A raise? A promotion?”
“Fuck you,” I replied. “No
way you can undo this. What I want to know is, why? Why me, why Melissa?
Actually, I don’t want to know, I just want this whole damn thing to be over
He began to cry. He begged,
then pleaded, so I hit him in the face with the barrel of the gun—that made him
When we reached Buckeye, I
headed south on 85 toward Gila Bend. After fifteen miles I turned east on a
gravel road that led toward a range of cactus-covered hills. I stopped when the
road petered out.
“Get out.” I prodded him
with the gun. He pissed himself. Glad he waited until he was out of the Lexus.
“I can give you money,
“Quit embarrassing yourself
and just keep walking.”
We came to a draw between
two hills. I had dug two graves, one was filled.
He started to sob
uncontrollably. I shot him in the back of the head; he fell face first into the
hole. I covered his body with rocks to keep the coyotes from tearing him up. I
threw the gun on top of him and shoveled dirt on top of the whole mess. Now
they could be together forever.
I walked back to the car and
when I reached 85, turned south toward Mexico.
Bill Baber’s crime fiction and poetry have appeared widely
online and in numerous anthologies. His writing has earned Derringer Prize and
best of the Net consideration. 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.