Yellow Mama Archives II

Charlie Kondek

Acuff, Gale
Ahern, Edward
Allen, R. A.
Alleyne, Chris
Andes, Tom
Arnold, Sandra
Aronoff, Mikki
Ayers, Tony
Baber, Bill
Baird, Meg
Baker, J. D.
Balaz, Joe
Barker, Adelaide
Barker, Tom
Barnett, Brian
Barry, Tina
Bartlett, Daniel C.
Bates, Greta T.
Bayly, Karen
Beckman, Paul
Bellani, Arnaav
Berriozabal, Luis Cuauhtemoc
Beveridge, Robert
Blakey, James
Booth, Brenton
Bracken, Michael
Burke, Wayne F.
Burnwell, Otto
Campbell, J. J.
Cancel, Charlie
Capshaw, Ron
Carr, Steve
Carrabis, Joseph
Cartwright, Steve
Centorbi, David Calogero
Cherches, Peter
Christensen, Jan
Clifton, Gary
Cody, Bethany
Costello, Bruce
Coverly, Harris
Crist, Kenneth James
Cumming, Scott
Davie, Andrew
Davis, Michael D.
Degani, Gay
De Neve, M. A.
Dillon, John J.
Dinsmoor, Robert
Dominguez, Diana
Dorman, Roy
Doughty, Brandon
Doyle, John
Dunham, T. Fox
Ebel, Pamela
Fagan, Brian Peter
Fillion, Tom
Flynn, James
Fortier, M. L.
Fowler, Michael
Galef, David
Garnet, George
Garrett, Jack
Glass, Donald
Graysol, Jacob
Grech, Amy
Greenberg, KJ Hannah
Grey, John
Hagerty, David
Hardin, Scott
Held, Shari
Hicks, Darryl
Hivner, Christopher
Hoerner, Keith
Hohmann, Kurt
Holt, M. J.
Holtzman, Bernard
Holtzman, Bernice
Holtzman, Rebecca
Hopson, Kevin
Hubbs, Damon
Irwin, Daniel S.
Jabaut, Mark
Jermin, Wayne
Jeschonek, Robert
Johns. Roger
Kanner, Mike
Karl, Frank S.
Kempe, Lucinda
Kennedy, Cecilia
Keshigian, Michael
Kirchner, Craig
Kitcher, William
Kompany, James
Kondek, Charlie
Koperwas, Tom
Kreuiter, Victor
Larsen, Ted R.
Le Due, Richard
Leotta, Joan
Lester, Louella
Lubaczewski, Paul
Lucas, Gregory E.
Luer, Ken
Lukas, Anthony
Lyon, Hillary
Mannone, John C.
Margel, Abe
Martinez, Richard
McConnell, Logan
McQuiston, Rick
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Milam, Chris
Miller, Dawn L. C.
Mladinic, Peter
Mobili, Juan
Mullins, Ian
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Myers, Jen
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Nielsen, Judith
Onken, Bernard
Owen, Deidre J.
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Parker, Becky
Pettus, Robert
Plath, Rob
Potter, John R. C.
Price, Liberty
Proctor, M. E.
Prusky, Steve
Radcliffe, Paul
Reddick, Niles M.
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Reutter, G. Emil
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Robson, Merrilee
Rockwood, KM
Rollins, Janna
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Rosmus, Cindy
Ross, Gary Earl
Rowland, C. A.
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Scharhag, Lauren
Schauber, Karen
Schildgen, Bob
Schmitt, Di
Sesling, Zvi E.
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Smith, Elena E.
Snell, Cheryl
Snethen, Daniel G.
Stanley, Barbara
Steven, Michael
Stoler, Cathi
Stoll, Don
Surkiewicz, Joe
Swartz, Justin
Taylor, J. M.
Taylor, Richard Allen
Temples. Phillip
Tobin, Tim
Traverso Jr., Dionisio "Don"
Turner, Lamont A.
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Tyrer, DJ
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Verlaine, Rp
Viola, Saira
Waldman, Dr. Mel
Al Wassif, Amirah
Weibezahl, Robert
Weil, Lester L.
Weisfeld, Victoria
Weld, Charles
White, Robb
Wilhide, Zachary
Williams, E. E.
Williams, K. A.
Wilsky, Jim
Wiseman-Rose, Sophia
Woods, Jonathan
Young, Mark
Zackel, Fred
Zelvin, Elizabeth
Zeigler, Martin
Zimmerman, Thomas
Zumpe, Lee Clark

I Thought You Were Someone Else

Charlie Kondek


     The man in the grey suit was standing at the bar with his back to Joe Barnes when Joe tapped him on the bicep and enquired, “Excuse me. Bud? Bud Ellis?” But when the man turned to face Joe, he could see that it was not Bud Ellis at all, which was disorienting because the man stood like Bud, had walked across the lobby of the hotel like Bud, stood at a bar like Bud, had the same, what, basic shape as Bud, but was, clearly, not Bud. This man’s hair was reddish, and too far down at the head and temples, the cheeks too high, the eyes too small, the mouth thin where Bud’s had been thick, the nose straight above a red-gold mustache. Admittedly, Joe had not seen Bud in years, not since the war, but to him, it was like somebody had taken Bud’s body and stamped someone else’s face on it. Wow. Well, he did what anyone would in this kind of situation, laughed and said, “I’m so sorry. I thought you were someone else.” 

     “Quite all right,” said the man who was not Bud Ellis, and started to turn away, but the bar was crowded with salesmen attending the international expo, and everyone was in a salesman’s imbibing, glad-to-know-you mood, so Joe stuck out his hand and introduced himself. Shaking hands, the ruddy man – gosh, he even had a grip like Bud’s – said his name was Tom Lowry.

     “Here for the expo?” Joe asked, leaning on the bar. To a hurried bartender he said, “Scotch and soda.”

     “No, isn’t that funny?” answered Tom Lowry, voice not a bit like Bud’s. “Not connected to it at all. Just picked a helluva time to be passing through.”

     “You’re an American, though?”

     “Right. Minneapolis. You?”

     “Detroit. Auto parts is my line. Commercial stuff. You?”

     “Greeting cards.” Both men laughed.

     “You might as well be on the moon, Tom. Everybody here’s selling machine parts and railway lines.”

     “You got that right.”

     They cracked wise and chatted a little longer, one cloud of conversation in an expanding fog of many voices, many languages, growing louder and friendlier before Tom said, “Well, listen, Joe, I hate to run but I better. I don’t see the fella I was supposed to meet so I should go find out what’s happened to him.”

     Joe was on a second—or third?—scotch and soda and quipped, “What’s the hurry? I’d say you found the party. His loss.”

     Tom laughed, fished in his jacket for a business card. “That’s the point, friend. If I stay here and try to keep up with you…”

     They exchanged cards. Was Joe getting drunk, or were even Tom’s hands like Bud’s? As they parted, Joe joked, “Well you got a doppelganger out there somewhere, friend. Maybe I’ll introduce you two someday.”

     “I’d like to meet him. So long.”

     The street outside the hotel was littered with men and women setting out for restaurants or other bars on foot or in cabs, and Bud Ellis had to walk several blocks until he was in a quieter part of the old town, as well as alter his movements and double back on his path to ensure he wasn’t being followed to the second location. The scars in the city’s architecture had been concealed under layers of prosperity, but here and there old bomb and bullet lacerations could be detected. Auto parts. Commercial stuff. Heat to thaw the “cold” war. Indeed, Bud Ellis was in greeting cards – the USA sends its regards, what they had once “loaned” to the Soviets, to Eastern Europe, to the Balkans, to Latin America. He had put to work for himself the skills in procurement and logistics he and men like Joe Barnes had developed. It had made him rich, and despised. If he had trouble squaring it with his conscience, he could always tell his Maker he was doing it for Uncle Sam against the godless reds. Cold comfort in a cold war.

     Near the steps of the museum was a trolley stop and, because the busy evening hour had passed when workers went home from their day jobs and others to their night jobs, its bench was unoccupied. Ljudmila sat here, in her light green overcoat, her hair under a kerchief. Bud sat down next to her but did not look at her. “This isn’t going to work. I was recognized.”

     “Tell me what happened.” He did. She surmised, “Your body was recognized but the surgeons did their work and you easily talked your way out of it. This will work.”

     “We thought it would be easier to slip through during the exposition, but I’m beginning to doubt the wisdom of the idea. What if there are other people like Joe here? Worse, the opposition can hide in a crowd the same way I can.”

     “Stay calm, my love. You’ll draw more attention to yourself if you leave than if you simply stick to the plan.”

     “I appreciate your strength, my love. But I also have to trust my instincts. They’ve never let me down before. Let’s not wait for the train or risk being recognized at the station. Can you get us a car?”


     “Something inconspicuous but fast. We’ll go overland. Run the ball instead of pass.”

     “Run the… what is the analogy, beloved?”

     “American football. Let’s get the car tonight. Pack food and a thermos. We’ll take turns driving and go straight through.”

     “We’ll be safer in France?”

     “Yes, in Marseilles, but we can’t count on our government friends. We’re on our own.”

     “We always were.” She would not grasp his hand, but let one gloved finger that rested on the bench beside her brush one of his.

     “Now, the only question is, where to get some sleep. If we’re gonna drive all night, I’d like to rest.”

     “I wish I could take you in my arms, beloved. It’s thrilling to feel your body against mine, but then see a stranger’s face. Like going to bed with Orson Welles and waking up with Ronald Colman.”

     Bud laughed.

     “Go to your hotel. I still think you’ll draw more attention to yourself by doing anything else.”

     “Maybe you’re right.” He slipped his finger over hers. “Besides, I still want some things from my room. I’ll meet you and the car here at midnight.”

     “Be careful, my love.”

     “You, too, Ljudmila.”



     As soon as he snapped on the light in his room, Bud saw he wasn’t alone. He thought he recognized the pale man with large features from the bar crowd downstairs. Just another salesman. The man wore a dark suit, overcoat and felt hat, and moved behind Bud to block the door. “Bud Ellis,” he said, not a question.

     “Why does this keep happening to me? I’m not Bud Ellis. I’m Tom Lowry. And what are you doing in my room?”

     “You are Bud Ellis,” said the fleshy man, accent hard to place. “You were recognized.” Bud put his hand on the bedside table phone and said, “I’m not, and I want you out of my room.” A small automatic in the hand of the intruder stopped Bud from dialing. “Look, you’re making a mistake. Whoever Bud Ellis is, I must resemble him, but I’m not. I can show you identification.”

     “You can explain yourself to my superiors. You will come with me.”

     “Who are you? You’re not the police.”

     “No, but I can assure you that, in this country, if the police get involved, they will cooperate with me.”

     Bud seemed to be thinking it over. Finally, he lifted the receiver. “This is absurd. I’m calling the embassy.” But the “salesman” in the felt hat placed a hand on the connection, raised the gun a little higher, and said, “I can bring you to them alive, or dead. It doesn’t matter to me. You’re a gunrunner, so you know what one of these can do.”

     Bud put the phone down. “All right.”

     The man gestured to the door and slipped the hand holding the gun into his overcoat pocket. “Just remember,” he threatened, “My finger is on the trigger.”

     Bud tried to focus on his commando training as he moved toward the door. Keep the knees bent. Keep the hand open. Kick at an angle. Strike with the edge of the hand. Kill, kill, kill! He had spent as much or more time behind a desk as in the field but he reckoned that going through the door was his best chance, because the man in the felt hat would have to stay close to him, to keep him from bolting down the hall. Hand on the knob, Bud took his chance and rushed the gunman.

     He clamped one hand on the wrist in the gunman’s pocket and kicked the man’s knee at a nasty angle, bending it. With his other hand, he chopped at the gunman’s temple and neck, but the main raised an arm to absorb these, so he immediately switched to ramming the heel of his palm into the gunman’s nose. Soft explosions. As they went down and the gunman keeled, Bud kept his hand on the gunman’s wrist and tried to keep his body away from the gunman’s pocket lest he fire through his coat, crouching to one side and continuing to pummel with the heel of his hand. Now the man lay prone and his felt hat rolled under the bed, his face like a bruised melon. If he wasn’t dead, he was certainly not getting up soon, and offered no resistance as Bud yanked the gun from his pocket.

     Panting, Bud stood and pushed the hair from his forehead. He dropped the little German automatic in his pocket and straightened his tie. He would pack quickly and lightly, try to find a way out of the hotel unseen – he didn’t want to run into Joe Barnes again, and who knew what else was hiding in the crowd downstairs? He hoped he wouldn’t have to use the gun. He had to lose himself until midnight, and he and Ljudmila would have to be extra cautious on the roads. The man on the floor was quite a mess and could pursue him across Europe. But he had one thing going for him. There was no such person as Tom Lowry.

Charlie Kondek is a marketing professional and writer from metro Detroit. His work has appeared at, and in Kendo World and other niche publications. More at

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