Martin’s List


Martin Chambers had been happily married nearly twenty- five years. He was still very much in love with his wife Rebecca. He found her to be even more beautiful than the day they met. Their anniversary was just weeks away and they were planning a trip to Hawaii. They had never had children but enjoyed each other and the life they shared.

There had been no other women since they exchanged vows but there had been plenty beforehand. As the years passed, Martin found he thought of them more infrequently with every day that went by. Sometimes, when he could not sleep, he would try to count them – much like others might count sheep. The count never seemed right though. It seemed as if with the passage of time there were becoming more of them that he could not remember. He seldom counted past fifty. He knew for a fact there were many more than that.

He decided to do something he had never done before- make a list. One evening when Rebecca was out, he sat at the desk in the den and began. There was the beautiful brunette he met on a snowy night in a bar in Colorado, the statuesque blonde that was jogging through Central Park, the exotic Asian woman on a fog shrouded beach in San Francisco. After half an hour of examining scattered fragments of memory, there still was nowhere near the number he thought there should be.

So he began to divide them into categories. Older woman, like the two in Seattle and the tall redhead he played Blackjack with in a Reno casino, a Mexican cutie in El Paso, the rancher’s wife from near Boise. The list quickly grew longer.

And there were younger women, like the ones in San Jose, Portland and LA. Now he was getting somewhere, their memories came flooding back to him. Their smiles, how their hair smelled, how they tasted. It wasn’t long before there were over a hundred on the list. That was more in line with what he remembered. Some were just places but others had names. Like Holly from Louisville and Michelle from Mobile and on and on.

After an hour and a half, when he had reached a hundred and twenty, he thought was close but there could be a few more. He put the list under a stack of papers on his desk, meaning to add any others that might come to him in the next day or two. Then, he would get rid of it.

Martin became extremely busy with work and eventually forgot about his list. It stayed under the papers on his desk for weeks.

Days before their anniversary trip, Rebecca was in the office finalizing details. She was on the phone and inadvertently knocked the papers off of the desk where they scattered across the office floor. After completing the call, she began to retrieve the strewn pages. That’s when she found Martin’s list.

At first she was perplexed, wondering what it could be, what the names and places meant. But the more she studied it; she was struck by an ice cold realization. A wave of panic swept over her, a level of fear she had never known.

An internet search confirmed what she already knew. She remembered the news accounts of some of them before she met Martin and others she recalled from just around the time they first began dating, back when he worked as a traveling salesman.

Debating what to do, she wondered if she should flee or call the police first. Nearly frozen with terror, she couldn’t make a decision.

That’s when Martin came home and found her in the office and noticed the papers still on the office floor. He read the terrified look in her eyes and she began to scream. It broke Martin’s heart to do what he did next.

And he knew this one was going to be harder to cover up than any of the others that had occurred all those years ago. The first thing he had to do was get rid of the list. Then he would figure out what to do with her body.

~ fin ~


Bill Baber’s writing has appeared at Crime sites across the web and in print anthologies—most notably from Shotgun Honey, Gutter Books, Dead Guns Press, Down and Out Books and Authors on the Air Press—and has earned Derringer Award and Best of the Net nominations. A book of his poetry, Where the Wind Comes to Play, was published in 2011. He lives with his wife and a spoiled dog in Palm Desert, Ca.