The Severed Wing, Part I (excerpts)
By Martin Berman-Gorvine, writing as Martin J. Gidron

...And so there I was, staring at the wall and drinking my cocoa. Got to find something to occupy my mind. Here's an old issue of People, don't know what Irena sees in the damn things. Leafing through it: Queen Diana receiving Princess Catherine at Buckingham Palace. The princess's face has the unmistakable stamp of arrogance of all the Romanovs, and her jaw protrudes like the edge of a granite cliff, so much for all the legends about royal beauty. The Czar was ninety-five years old, and no matter how wonderful modern medicine was, everybody knew that the next time he bruised his royal shins on some invaluable piece of Wilhelmine bric-a-brac inherited from his sainted mother, his hemophiliac body was going to give up. After which, of course, that unnatural bitch he sired with that Bulgarian Cleopatra of his was going to ascend to the throne, you should pardon the expression. And then God help us all. It was probably thanks to her that "border incidents" were already on the rise, not to mention last year's pogrom in Odessa.

Nothing was safe to read anymore. I threw the magazine aside and got out our ancient second-hand record player. Which album to choose, in its beat-up cardboard sleeve? Here: Haydn's Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra in E-flat Major. The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Sir John Lennon, conducting. I leaned back and let the bright notes carry me off.

We were standing at the bar, leaning on its dented wooden surface. Now that I felt relieved of my worries, at least for the moment, I was able to pay attention to what was going on around me. The place was small and crowded and stank of sweat and beer, and the air was thick with Yiddish laughter and curses; if there were any goyim around they were keeping pretty quiet. Of course the very existence of a Jewish bar serving vodka and beer to Jews is unthinkable over in Poland or Russia, but hey, this is America, the land of the free. The Orthodox may not like it, nor the hardline Bundists who are more Orthodox than the Orthodox when you get right down to it, but if a Jew is going to drink, better he should drink with other Jews rather than create a shandeh fur de goyim, a scandal before the Gentiles.

The place was doing well enough that there was actually a television set behind the bar, a fairly new Sonjie, in color no less. Every time I see one I can't help remembering the famous story of how Jan Novak named the corporation after his mistress. Now that's power. The Americans can't seem to decide whether to treat the Bohemians with admiration or fear; over in Chicago there've been pitched battles between native-born steelworkers and the "Bohunks" they blame for taking away their jobs.

I strained to hear over the noise, but it was only a commercial, that horribly obnoxious one with the weedy little man who sells storm windows, you know: "It may be spring now, but will your home be weatherproof, come fall? You need Gatekeeper Storm Windows(TM) on your house to prevent expensive repairs later! Call today for a free estimate. I personally stand behind every job we do, or my name's not Bill Gates!"

Copyright © 2000, Martin Berman-Gorvine


Back to top


Part II (excerpts)


Map of "alternative" Europe


Back to literary home page



Copyright © 2015, Martin Berman-Gorvine