The Twelve Grooms

posted in: Fiction, Member Writing Features | 0

By Martin Smith.

There was once a woman unlucky in love. For years she searched for the perfect man, a Prince Charming with whom to share her life. She tried online dates, coffee dates, wine bar dates, dinner dates, impromptu dates, speed dates, blind dates and caught all her friends’ wedding bouquets. But all to no avail. Mr Right seemed in a land far, far away.

One day, when sitting in a dentist waiting room, she read an advertisement in a magazine: Unlucky in love? Looking for happily ever after, but at a fraction of the cost? Why not try a micro-partner? Six inches of marital bliss. Online marriage certificate. Guaranteed 7-day delivery.

She sat straighter in her seat. Why not a mail-order husband? she thought. Hadn’t Uncle Ted married one—a bride, that is—a few years back? Hell, if Uncle Ted wed a bride a third his age, why couldn’t she order herself a husband a tenth her size?

She tore the advertisement from the magazine. That night, she went online and found Mr Gorgeous.

Seven days later, a parcel sat on her front doorstep when she arrived home from work. In her excitement about meeting her new husband, she tore the parcel open, only to rip her marriage certificate in half and her husband’s head off. ‘Oops,’ she said. That night, she wrapped him in newspaper with the potato peelings and popped him in the compost bin. She went online and purchased his twin.

A week later, an identical parcel arrived. She carried it inside and eased the packaging open. Husband Number 2 leapt out and stood upon the dining room table.

‘O my Chérie,’ he said, ‘you are the woman of my dreams.’

She had to admit he was amazing: dark hair, blue eyes, taut buns, a six-pack to die for, and he smelt so good. She soon discovered he knew how to make a woman feel wonderful and complete. He made her espresso the way she liked it and painted her nails with precision and read romantic poetry to her and cleaned up after himself and let her talk without him interrupting her or micro-mansplaining. And in bed he proved a marvel, sprinting between her erogenous zones and applying great attention and satisfaction at each stop.

She invited her girlfriends for lunch to show him off. He dazzled the girls with his charm and wit. After her third Chardonnay, she realised he was missing. She searched the house. Standing outside the powder room, she heard groaning behind the door. She knocked, opened the door and caught her best friend, Mel, pulling up her knickers.

‘Sorry. I was just doing a number two,’ a blushing Mel said, straightening her dress and hair.

A muffled cry of ‘O my Chérie! You are the woman of my dreams’ came from within Mel’s undies.

She returned Husband Number 2 under the 30-day no-questions-asked refund policy.

That night, she filtered for loyalty and faithfulness. As she clicked the Purchase button, she whispered, ‘Third time lucky.’

Husband Number 3 arrived in a micro-human transport crate. She opened the box, and he jumped into her arms and planted licky, wet kisses all over her face. When he looked up at her with his puppy-dog eyes, her heart melted. They ran together and sat at cafés together and snuggled on the couch at night and watched chick flicks together. When she arrived home from work, he fetched her slippers. He loved her cooking and licked his plate clean. And that wasn’t the only wonder he did with his tongue.

A week into wedded bliss, old Mr Wilson from across the road left the front gate open when he dropped over some lemons, and Husband Number 3 escaped. A passing car flattened him. She buried him under the apple tree.

She searched online for another Husband Number 3, but all the retailers had sold out. She checked her credit card balance and applied for a credit limit increase. Later, she searched under Specials and found an advertising blurb announcing ‘best value micro-husband, pound-for-pound’.

The delivery guy trolleyed the small box into her lounge room. She tried lifting the box onto the coffee table but couldn’t budge it, so she sliced the top and sides away with a Stanley knife. And there, wearing a grubby singlet, ball-hugging shorts and thongs and on his own micro couch, slouched Husband Number 4. A triple chin with a three-day growth shadowed a beer gut the size of a tennis ball.

‘Where’s the remote?’ he shouted as he reached into his mini bar fridge for a micro-beer.

That afternoon, he slumped before the TV and watched sport, and when bored, he hunched over the computer and perved at porn. He acknowledged her presence with either a belch or a fart. That night, consummation proved a three-thrust non-event. When he rose at three a.m. to watch basketball, she’d had enough. She placed a cold micro-beer and a bowl of crushed beer nuts on the micro side table next to him. A whole pistachio lurked amidst the other nuts. He scoffed down the nuts and skolled the beer, never taking his eyes off the screen. When he shouted ‘Foul’ at the TV, he gagged and choked. As he pointed at his throat and blued in the face, she took the opportunity to empty the dishwasher. When she returned to the lounge, she scooped him up in a dustpan, went outside and dropped him over the fence as a tidy snack for Ronnie, next-door’s Rottweiler.

When husband shopping online later that week, she saw Husband Number 4’s line discontinued, though to her surprise he had a quarter-star average rating. All the reviews gave him a zero rating except for a Mrs Myrtle Simpson, an eighty-three-year-old pensioner from Watford, who rated him five stars because she liked her micro-boys big and bad.

Maybe she needed a young and malleable husband, she thought, to shape to her needs and desires.

Husband Number 5 came in a plastic egg and with a mould. Just add boiling water, the instructions read.

As she sprinkled the powdered contents of the egg over the boiling water half-filling the mould, a sweet, soapy smell like baby’s talcum powder filled the air. She placed him in the chiller, and every half-hour she checked whether he had set. After three hours, he remained liquid, so she placed him in the freezer. Quicken things up a bit, she thought. She sat down with a glass of red and a book. Thirty minutes later, a thump-thump came from the kitchen. She went to investigate. The thumps came from the fridge. The freezer. She opened the freezer door, and Husband Number 5 fell out, frozen stiff except for chattering teeth. She laid him on the back deck in the afternoon sun to thaw. He soon started bawling his eyes out and whining about wanting his mummy. As he sucked his thumb, two ravens swooped, tore him apart and headed skyward with their oozing half-catches.

Husband Number 6 never arrived. ‘Lost in transit,’ her local post office said. ‘We’ll look into it.’

She purchased Husband Number 7 using her credit card reward points. He arrived in a flat pack from France. She opened the box and pulled out an assortment of plastic bags. There were 2,122 pieces. The instructions came in 37 languages but not English. She tried to follow the diagrams. When she finished construction, a few nuts and bolts remained unused, and Husband Number 7 stood before her with what looked like an Allen key protruding from his arse. He spent the next half-hour hopping about and flailing his arms and pointing to his behind. She thought he was playing Charades. When she guessed he wanted the Allen key removed, she obliged, and he farted ‘Mercy’ from his backside, before dropping dead.

‘Good God!’ she said. ‘What am I? Some sort of black widow?’ She needed to rid herself of the body. Quick smart. As she fed him through the mincer, she realised she had held the instructional diagram on page 67 upside down during construction and mixed up the placement of his anus and his mouth.

Next day, she popped over to Mr Wilson’s place and gifted him a couple of containers of meaty Bolognese sauce in appreciation for the lemons.

Husband Number 8 and Husband Number 9 came as a two-for-one deal. A spare wouldn’t hurt, she figured, given her luck to date. They were a pair of party boys. They spent most of the time either admiring themselves and each other in the mirror or snorting white powder off it. They kicked off the wedding feast on a Tuesday, and after three nights and three days of non-stop partying and some pretty wild and kinky sex, she pleaded for a quiet night at home. Infuriated because it was Friday night—party night!—the boys decided three’s-a-crowd and packed their bags, and following a parting wave, they headed off, arm-in-arm in elopement.

She decided what she needed was a mature husband who focused more on the intellectual than the physical. She purchased Husband Number 10 using funds garnered from pawning her beloved coffee machine. He arrived with a turtle-neck jumper, a pipe and a salt-and-pepper beard.

At first, he captivated her as he filled her world with existential titbits. Problems started when she asked him to put out the rubbish. He took a puff of his pipe, rubbed his beard and delivered a half-hour soliloquy entitled: To bin or not to bin, that is the question. She ended up taking the trash out herself. Things didn’t improve after that. All he wanted was to discuss, to hypothesise, to pose the rhetorical question. Even foreplay proved a nightmare—she wanted to get physical; he, metaphysical.

And. He. Would. Not. Shut. Up.


One night, at two a.m., she taped his mouth so she could sleep. Next morning, she woke to blissful silence. A silence she realised went on a little too long. She saw she had taped his mouth and nose. The existentialist no longer existed. But, she pondered, what to do with the wordy bastard’s body? Another buried corpse in the backyard, and sniffer dogs and earth diggers would arrive. That night, wearing a scarf and sunglasses, she shoved him inside a battered copy of Sartre’s Nausea and placed the book in the return chute at her local library.

Next evening, she searched under Used Goods. Sure, she thought, a second-hand husband wasn’t perfect and no doubt came with baggage, but who was she—or that online fast-cash loan with a third-world interest rate she had taken out—to argue?

When Husband Number 11 arrived in the post, she placed the package on the dining room table. She went for a run, showered, made herself an instant coffee, checked her emails and painted her nails. Only then did she open the package. A familiar aroma filled the room.

‘O my Chérie,’ a voice said, echoing from within the package, ‘you are the woman of my dreams.’

She pulled him out by the collar, walked to the bathroom, lifted the toilet lid, dropped him in the bowl and flushed. But he put up a fight, swimming against the tide of his fate. It took the toilet brush, half a bottle of toilet cleaner and nine full flushes to push him beyond the S-bend.

‘I’ve had enough,’ she said. ‘No more. I’m through with men.’

Next afternoon, just as she settled with a trashy magazine, a tub of Rocky Road ice-cream and widowhood, the phone rang.

‘Hello. I’m Sam Wright. From down at the post office. How are you today?’


‘I’m following up on that package you reported missing. It’s just arrived here at the post office. Someone sent it to Bermuda by mistake.’

‘I don’t want the package now. Could you please return it to the sender.’

‘Certainly. And thanks for being so patient and understanding.’ An awkward silence ensued. ‘Say, I know this may sound a bit bold, but would you like to go out for a drink? We could meet outside the Post Office at seven.’

‘I’m not sure. Are you handsome?’

‘Why, yes, I suppose so.’

‘Are you tanned?’

‘Of course. I deliver mail all day.’

‘And are you tall?’

‘Yes, if you call six foot tall.’

‘Mr Wright, you sound perfect.’


 Eight-year-old Martin Smith


Martin Smith is a writer of short fictions of humour. Having spent a working life crunching numbers, he retired to the Bellarine Peninsula in 2013, where he lives and writes in a beach house at Queenscliff. When he is not banging away on his keyboard with thumbs and index fingers or reading snippets of his scribblings to his beloved Rose, you’ll more likely than not find him walking the beach barefoot at low tide or downing a double scoop of Peppermint Chip at the local ice-creamery. He plans to publish two collections of stories of humour (This Laugh’s On Me and The Cannibal’s Guide to Health and Wellbeing) in 2023.

Martin joined Geelong Writers in 2022. He is a member of The Seaside Scribes, a writing group that meets at the Queenscliff Neighbourhood House every second Tuesday.

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