Postcard proseIssue 07 | November 2009

The Star of David

by Jack Swenson

The streets in Amsterdam had missing teeth. Our Dutch friends told us that in these gaps had been houses that the Nazis tore down for firewood. After the war, the Dutch left the spaces empty, even though housing was sorely needed.

Maarten and Willem showed us where we could get a good meal cheap. They knew all the good bars, too. Willem was a big fellow, all arms and legs, who told wonderful stories about what it was like during the war. The Nazis thought everyone was a Jew, he said. Once he was being interrogated by a Nazi officer, and the officious German asked Willem if he were Jewish. “No, I’m Catholic,” Willem said. “Ah,” the German replied. “A Catholic Jew!”

Maarten was a short, stout, and friendly. He was on the outs with his wealthy family, and they paid him a pittance to stay out of their hair. He spent his days hanging out with his friends and drinking beer. 

One night two American girls and I were at his tiny apartment. Willem was there, and I can’t remember who else, probably Katrina, a pretty blonde with hairy legs, who for some reason had taken a dislike to me. 

Somebody was telling a story, and I idly picked up a book on the fireplace mantel. When I opened it, a six-pointed star fell out and fluttered to the floor. I picked it up and replaced it in the book. No one said a word. Finally, Maarten said the fabric emblem was something he had to wear during the war. I knew about the Star of David and the occupation, but the Dutch people knew it in their teeth and bones.

About the author

Jack Swenson’s travels have taken him to Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. He also spent a week one night in Perham, Minnesota. His scribblings have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Literary Magazine, Fiction at Work, Grey Sparrow, Pindeldyboz, and Weave.

Read our current issue:

Poetry

Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok