Yellow Mama Archives II

Bernard Holtzman

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.
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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
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McQuiston, Rick
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Milam, Chris
Miller, Dawn L. C.
Mladinic, Peter
Mobili, Juan
Mullins, Ian
Myers, Beverle Graves
Myers, Jen
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Nielsen, Judith
Onken, Bernard
Owen, Deidre J.
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Parker, Becky
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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
Rose, Brad
Rosmus, Cindy
Ross, Gary Earl
Rowland, C. A.
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Scharhag, Lauren
Schauber, Karen
Schildgen, Bob
Schmitt, Di
Sesling, Zvi E.
Short, John
Simpson, Henry
Slota, Richelle Lee
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.
Tustin, John
Tyrer, DJ
Varghese, Davis
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

The Morale Builder


by Bernard Holtzman

  Al had always prided himself on being what he considered a good host. Consequently, with the outbreak of the war and the influx of most of his friends to the Army and Navy, he had decided that the best way for him to serve his country on the home front, besides buying War Bonds and serving as an Air Raid Warden, would be to play the good host to any and all of those friends whenever they were on furlough in the city. This, he felt, was the least he could do to show his gratitude to the armed forces, which had rejected him because of stomach ulcers aggravated by too much hard liquor.

Now, as he stood in the doorway of his apartment, shaking the hand of the grinning, khaki-draped figure before him, he was happy in his self-appointed role.

“Stan, you old son of a gun!” he said. “It’s great to see you again. Boy, how you’ve changed! Got a suntan and everything! Come on in and have a drink. My wife sure will be glad to see you. She’ll be here right away. She’s getting dressed.” He paused to catch his breath and then turned his head toward the bedroom past the foyer, and yelled, “Rose! He’s here—Stan! Hurry up!” Then Stan, closing the door behind him and laying his garrison cap on the foyer table, followed Al into the living room, where he sat down on one of the scruffy, green-upholstered chairs.

“Were we surprised when you called!” Al said, then asked, “How does it feel to be back in the good old U.S.A., kid?” without looking at Stan. He had taken a bottle of scotch from the cabinet next to Stan’s chair and was pouring drinks excitedly into two tumblers on the glass-topped table before him as he talked, spilling some of the liquor on the table.

Stan stretched out his legs on the rug at his feet and then crossed them comfortably. “It’s good to be back.” He smiled, finally, showing his white, even teeth. It’s so good that I wanted to kiss the ground when I walked off that gangplank.”

“Let’s drink to that good old American ground,” Al said, with a sudden burst of inspiration. He handed one of the tumblers to Stan and drained his own quickly. Then he sat down on the chair opposite Stan’s. Stan sipped his drink slowly. “You can’t get stuff like this in Oran,” he said when he had finished and had placed his glass on the table. “But that’s the least of your worries over there. Be grateful for what you have here, Al. For one thing, I saw filth there that you wouldn’t believe—” He checked himself suddenly. “Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to give you a lecture.”

“That’s all right, Stan,” Al replied. “I know how it must have been. I saw newsreels.” He tried hard to inject a tone of sympathy into his voice. Then, for the first time, he noticed two things about his guest that he felt he should have noticed immediately, as a matter of patriotic interest. There was a gold star on Stan’s brown-and-green-striped European Theatre of Operations ribbon that he wore over the left breast pocket of his jacket, and farther down, at the bottom of the right sleeve, there was a single wound stripe.

“You never told me about this and this in your letters,” Al said, pointing to the star and the stripe in quick succession. “How’d it happen you were hurt?”

Stan glanced down at the twin reminders of the section he had seen in North Africa. “The Signal Corps gets around,” he answered. “The star is for being at a town called Maknassy in Tunisia, and the wound stripe is for being careless. I stopped a little piece of German shrapnel with my right arm. You know, I didn’t tell my folks about it either until I got back two weeks ago. Didn’t want to worry them over a little scar.”

“You got back two weeks ago?” Al asked. “Why’n’t you call me sooner?”

“Couldn’t. We were holed up in a camp near where we landed all that time. We couldn’t even write.”

“Say,” Al began again, after a moment of stillness, “Let’s see that wound of yours. Did it hurt very much?” He strained forward in his chair.

“It’s nothing—nothing at all.” Stan waved him away.

“Ah, come on,” Al said. “Let a poor 4F get a look at what he’s missing, huh?”

He went over to Stan’s chair, pushed his right coat-sleeve back and unbuttoned and rolled back the shirtsleeve. In his haste to examine the soldier’s forearm, he failed to see the expression of disgust that had crossed Stan’s face at this remark. Finally, his curiosity satisfied, he sat down again and lit a cigar that he had drawn from the humidor lying on the stand next to his chair. Puffing on it, he felt amiable and patriotic now for having given a boost to Stan’s morale by showing such a personal interest in him.

“Rose is certainly taking a long time getting dressed,” Stan said, breaking the lull in the conversation. “I sure would like to see her before I leave.”

“Why? You ain’t in any hurry, are you, Stan?” He flicked the ash from his cigar toward the ashtray that rested on the arm of his chair in what was intended as a gesture of nonchalance. The ash missed the tray and spread its particles on the rug. “Rose’ll clean it up,” he said carelessly. “But say, you ain’t got another appointment, have you?”

 “I’m afraid I have,” Stan replied, unable to conceal the tone of happy relief in his voice.

“The wife ought to be ready any minute now,” Al countered. “Here, have a cigar.” He took one from the humidor and held it out to Stan.

“No, thanks. I don’t smoke ‘em. Too strong.”

Al put the cigar back in the humidor. He hadn’t noticed that the bit of cellophane peeping out from under the flap of the left breast pocket of Stan’s jacket was the end of a cigar covering.

“Tell me, Stan,” Al resumed, “What kind of a place is this Mc—McCarthy—that town in Africa? Did you kill any Nazis or Guineas?” He smirked, imagining he was smiling.

“Maknassy,” Stan corrected, rising from the chair and glancing at his wristwatch. “Hell of a dirty place.” He strode over to the foyer table and picked up his garrison cap. Then he turned to shake Al’s hand.

“I’m sorry I can’t stay to see Rose. Got a date downtown in a half hour. I’ll have to hurry to make it. Give my regards to Rose and thanks for the drink.”

“I’m sorry, too, Stan. It was great seeing you. Well, have a good time and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Stan jammed his cap on his head and fled toward the door, pulling it shut behind him. Al swept up the ashes he had spilled and dumped them into the ashtray hurriedly as he heard his wife’s approaching footsteps. He would probably have a hard time explaining to her the reason for his being unable to keep Stan from leaving before she had dressed, but he smiled to himself in spite of this.

He had helped to cheer up a friend.

Bernard Holtzman was a writer of short stories and essays dealing with societal mores and enjoyed puns. He was a loving husband and father-to-be. Bernard passed away at the age of 34.

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