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On Guard At Stonehenge For The Summer Solstice

salisbury-stonehenge

I do find it grand to have such this connection to the Celts, about whom I have written three novels.

During World War Two, my father had the unique experience of guarding Stonehenge. Not by himself, of course, there were other members of the Canadian Army with him.

The vast plains around Stonehenge were utilised by the military in both world wars. During the First War, the area was a training ground for troops from various countries. There were many encampments for recruits, with both basic training and preparations to train for the trench warfare awaiting on the continent. There were thousands and thousands of men, and huge amounts of supplies.

During the Second War, the area was used as staging ground for the D-Day invasion. There was great security, and as much secrecy as possible. Soldiers were in place to guard the perimeter.

So, my father found himself not only guarding Stonehenge, but doing so on Midsummer Morn, when the sun rose over the monument.
He was a learned man – a school teacher – and versed in the history of the place. He knew of the Celts and the Druids and some of the mythology. He knew this was sacred ground and that Midsummer Morn was especially important.
He might have paused and tried to look into the past, and see more in the morning mist than was actually there. I do not know.

He did, however, when their shift was over and they got to eat, tell the other soldiers of the history of the place.
He mentioned that, during such celebrations by the Celts, the Druids might have a virgin killed to appease the gods.
They were aghast.

“What a waste,” said one
.
DE
(image)//media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/02/e1/1d/c3/salisbury-stonehenge.jpg

 

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Kafka Ponders His Father (for Father’s Day from Kafka In The Castle)

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the missing entries of his actual diaries.  There are many days to fill, as he either did not write during these days, or he destroyed the record.

cloud-tree

01 January 1917

There was a cloud caught in the branches of a tree today, outside my parents home.

Or so it appeared.

I got up from the cot and went to tell Ottla, but she was clearing the kitchen, tending to the dishes.

So I was radical, unthinking – driven by haste – and told the only one not consumed by labour. I told my father.

“In the trees?” he asked.

I propelled him from his chair, thrusting the papers aside. He followed me, and I could see the surprise on his face.

“Where?” he asked; and I pointed out the window.

“But I see nothing.”

“Oh, you have to lie on the cot.”

“On the cot?”

“And with your head just so.” I pushed him onto it, and he lay, looking sideways.

“But you are right,” he said.

I thought because of the holiday he might be humouring me, but then I saw that his jaw hung open, and his face was astonished.

Does the boy never grow, that he can feel so good to be vindicated by his father?

(image)http://www.wikilinks.fr/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cloud-tree.jpg

Franz Kafka Asks An Age-Old Question (from Kafka In The Castle)

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In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the missing entries of his actual diaries.  There are many days to fill, as he either did not write during these days, or he destroyed the record.

11 June 1918

“What if?”

That was a game I used to play with my sisters when we were little: What if we were children of the Emperor? What if we dug a hole in the ground all the way to China? What if we had our own house? What if we lived by the ocean? What if we went to church (those mysterious churches)? What if we lived on the moon, would we be able to yell down our greetings? Ottla had the least interest in the game, yet she made up the best questions.

I find today that when I `what if’, I don’t think so much of the future, but wonder about those things I might have done in my past, which I ignored or refused.

Felice, of course, with two engagements never fulfilled.

Other work – I’m a good enough lawyer, I could get other work.

Prague – this ornate tomb – to have lived a life elsewhere. Berlin, Palestine, Amerika. Zurau.

What if I had fled with the Swiss girl? Her youth, her zest – I might have learned to sing.

What if I were less exact – less austere?

What I might have written.

What I might have lived.

What if I had asked far fewer questions – and taken more time to better understand the answers.

(image)https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/1757693365/if-book_thumbnail.jpg

Why There Are Many Reasons To Give Thanks For My Life

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Buddy and I are waiting for a bus. Hours ahead await us on the trip, though we go to different destinations. I guess proximity is the reason he starts to talk to me, there being nobody else close.

This conversation is edited, though mostly for continuity.

Buddy : Gotta great day.
Me: Yes. (and it is – the weather is some grand)
Buddy: I’ve come half way across Canada, and still have to take the boat to Newfoundland. (this means another 8 hours on the bus for him, and 9 hours on the ferry)
Me: Hope you can sleep on the boat.
Buddy: And then another twelve hours hitching across the province.
Me: You sure have me beat. (I have 7 hours ahead of me, half by train)
Buddy: I don’t know what will happen. My friend says the church will help people.
Me: You’re not going home?
Buddy; Nope – all dead.
Me: That’s tough.
Buddy: That’s my Mom there. (he points to one of his bags) Got her ashes to bury.
Me: You have a sad time.
Buddy: Found her at the end of the driveway.
Me: What?
Buddy: In the urn. My girlfriend threw all my stuff out. That’s where it rolled.
Me: All your things?
Buddy: I had to store my stuff. Just money left for the bus and the ferry.
Me: I gotta say that sounds cold.
Buddy: She’s keeping my last disability cheque.
Me: What?
Buddy $1,700. Says I owe her.
Me: Do you?
Buddy: I guess. Anyway, there’s no going back there.
Me: That’s what it sounds like.

(At this point the bus driver arrives, asking what luggage is to go under the bus)

Buddy: Not that one. (he points to the one with the ashes) That comes with me.

 

DE

Franz Kafka Ponders Death from “Kafka In The Castle”

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(Statue from the Kafka Museum, Prague)

07 June 1917

I wonder what my final thought will be – just before I die. I was moments away from death this afternoon, as I stepped unheeding onto the tram tracks. The motorman’s frantic bell made me leap. Had I been too slow, my last thoughts would have concerned where and when to take my vacation. Not very glorious last thoughts to possess.

But, had I the time granted to me, what would I chose to think about? Perhaps F. Perhaps the writing – I’d like to finish the novel. Would I torture myself thinking about father? Would I accept that my past – now that it was ending – was finally settled. Or would I instead – and this is what I really expect – be wondering what I was going to miss tomorrow?

The Bestest Drink Inna World! Moscow Mule | Gimme Some Oven

https://kafkaestblog.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/moscowmule.jpg?w=980&h=654

Moscow Mule

Drink long.  Drink deep.  Drink often.

Learn how to make a Moscow Mule with this simple 3-ingredient recipe! Plus, tips for where to buy moscow mule mugs and how to customize your drinks.

Source: Moscow Mule | Gimme Some Oven

When The Other Animals Help Humans To Stop Satan

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A prominent American politician (you know who you are) recently opined that a gang of murderous humans were a bunch of animals. We are all animals, and it should be of no surprise that the other animals never act with the hate and horror of humans. The true insult is to call someone “human”.
In my first Satan novel, There Has Been A Sighting, my human animal characters join with the other animals on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan in Botswana to confront a true Beast. This is the abridged encounter.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Caleb and I agree.” The old nun glances at Dorkas, then looks back to the Kgosi. “You must have your people move with them.” She speaks loudly, so other ears will hear. “Whether they join us, or we join them – we are all in this together.”

“My people – ”

“Will follow the crook of your finger.” Caleb is now standing on the other side of the Kgosi. “That’s what Dorkas told me, and I see she is right.”

“Am I now to trust the wild animals?”

“They are here.” Caleb points. “One must assume they are trusting us.”

“It seems to me.” Dorkas speaks softly. “Their leap of faith is greater than ours.”

“I will do as the white witch tells me.”

“No.” Dorkas puts a hand on his arm. “You must overcome your human limitations. You must act with the conviction of these other animals. This is not an order for me to give.”

“Talks With Devils wants a lot from me.”

“And I plan to get it.” Her grip becomes so fierce she pulls the Kgosi toward her. “And I plan to get it here, from this second forward.”

Letsolathebe looks around the tight circle of faces. He does not see fear or hesitation, and he regains his confidence.

“You seem ready to walk into Hell.”

“It’s an easy walk.”  Mother Ursula smiles.

“Is it an easy walk back?”

“Jesus did it with alacrity.”

“I am not the God woman’s God.” Letsolathebe wonders at the comment. “To say that puts a great burden on me.”

“Our Lord was also a human being.” The old nun chuckles. “And looked a lot more like you than me. It is as a man we know Him, and through His trials as a man that we more fully understand God.”

“Didn’t He die first, before He entered Hell?”

“There are drawbacks,” admits Mother Ursula.

“I can not tell my people that death is merely a drawback.”

“Perhaps we tell them too much as it is.” Caleb raises his voice, and Shona does likewise. “Perhaps it is time we listen.” He turns a slow arc to address their silent followers. “Listen to the other animals.”

“Listen?” asks Letsolathebe.

“And smell, and use all our senses.” Mother Ursula answers. “To become like them, so we can more truly become ourselves.”

A sigh of intense interest spreads to the furthest reaches of the assembly, then quietly ceases without question or comment. They all stop to listen to the animals. The other animals.

As the sounds of the people become just breath and heartbeat, the other animals keep their silence, and keep to their waiting, but their tension eases. Their erratic pawing of the ground, which had sounded so loud on the rough, hard earth, stops altogether. They no longer search for predators, or flex their legs for immediate flight.

After a long period of time, the other animals begin to move.

They move in unison, with tentative steps of invitation. Each and every person present is startled by the slow and careful approach of one of the other animals. They no longer mingle in a random way – they are choosing partners. The people stand silent and tense, and some shiver when an erratic flip of a tail catches them by surprise.

“Jesus,” whispers Shona.

The other animals sniff their way, hunting for scents which are compatible. They rarely hesitate, although the ones which have their young are more cautious, with many a backward glance. But the young follow their parents without deviation.

The presence of young animals makes the people less cautious. They feel no threat from these small animals – if anything, they have the desire to protect them, and save their future. The people began to regret they have not brought their own children, even though they realize their offspring are far more defenceless than any of these active cubs and kids. Their children can in no way fend for themselves.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Letsolathebe marches forward without another glance, barely noticing that the child’s hand has slipped into his own. They hold onto each other for dear life and expected death, as they race toward the flickering flame held high by Mother Ursula.

“Oh boy.” Caleb sighs.

“Do we follow?” asks Shona.

“Follow?” Dorkas shakes her head. “We join them. We match them. We become one with them.” She looks at Caleb.

“Mother Ursula may be right.” He smiles. “When is the last time we had Satan on the run?”

“Now or never,” says Dorkas. “It’s as easy as death.”

Caleb makes a slight bow to Dorkas, and to Shona, and then speaks loudly so she will translate with the same force.

“It seems to me this is the perfect time for Talks With Devils to have her say face-to-face.”

And as the three begin to race headlong into the darkest part of this darkest night, the thousands of their brethren and the thousands of the other animals are right at their heels.

And that beast.

That beast of time and terror.

That beast attached to life like a nodule of cancer.

That beast as strong as any lust.

That beast spread so deeply across the expanse of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan.

That beast, recognizing in its fetid mouth the taste of defeat, lingers on the periphery of one glowing candle.

“You will never win.” Mother Ursula speaks softly. “In spite of all your victories, we are still able to care for each other.”

And that beast, afrighted by the light, and sacrifice, and the raw power of life, moves elsewhere.

“God woman.” Sekgoma tears across the rough ground and throws his arms around her. “Mother is safe?”

“This is a madness you have brought us I don’t wish to see again,” chides Letsolathebe. But he too puts an arm around the old nun’s shoulders.

“None of us can promise that.” Dorkas is breathless.

“Talks With Devils is always so strict.”

Letsolathebe takes both her hands, and leans forward to kiss her on the forehead. And then he does the same with Caleb.

I am the Kgosi, and I tell you this. Tomorrow night we will dance, and drink, and feast.”

His gaze sweeps over his people and the thousands of the other animals.

“But no roasted flesh.”

(image)https://cdn.audleytravel.com/960/{height}/79/212189176054008187132011038171243114197246168206.jpg

Kafka Dreams Of God from “Kafka In The Castle”

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(Image) i.huffpost.com/gen/1961945/images/o-ANGEL-GOD-facebook.jpg

17 May 1918

Dreamed I met God. Quite unexpectedly. Without any introduction or preparation. Much as it’s supposed to be. In the twinkling of an eye.

I was in an office building much like the Institute. Though I knew it wasn’t the Institute, for I was a visitor. I had business to conduct, yet I wasn’t a petitioner. I was not after benefits, or some other type of assistance. I was not apprehensive, or intimidated by the building, as can often happen in dreams. But I was unsure of where to go, so I wandered from office to office, one floor to the other. Though I do not remember what it was, I obviously had a definite goal, for I knew without asking when I was in the wrong office.

I was confident that my chore could be completed. I walked up flights of stairs, and strolled along corridors. If the doors to offices were closed, I simply entered without announcing myself. Sometimes the offices were empty, save for desks and chairs, the occasional typewriter, the odd telephone.

Sometimes there were people present, usually seated at desks, but they were vague and unknown to me. A brief nod of acknowledgement, and I was on my way. And so it went, without interruption. When one corridor of offices was completed, I would go up a flight of stairs and start the procedure all over. I had no sense of urgency, and no sense of frustration. I was as patient as the Sphinx. I would have (it seems – quite happily) continued in this manner forever.

It was a seemingly endless, time-consuming task, much as is my life at the Institute. The only thing I found strange – though not enough to bother me – was that I did not recognize any of the people. They had the stifled stamp of bureaucrats, but that was all. So it was with total surprise that I opened one door, and found a group of people standing near a window, listening intently to a man in their midst. He was reciting orders, and assigning duties for the day. The others were hurriedly taking notes, all in deep concentration. But the voice abruptly stopped, and the faces turned in my direction.

The man giving orders was of slight build, pale and with thinning hair. His suit was of a fine cut, though somehow dated. His eyes were subdued, yet immediately commanded everything they saw. I knew within an instant that this was God.

“Yes.” The voice was sharp. “What do you want?”

“I’ve been sent to see you.” I realized that it must be true, for this was no place to tell a lie.

“You’re Kafka.”

“Yes. Doktor Kafka.”   I replied again. “Yes,”

I was gratified at such immediate recognition. Then God turned to one of the people surrounding him, his voice impatient.

“Give me the list.”

He hurriedly flipped through the pages handed to him.

“No.” His voice was again abrupt.

“You’re not here. Come back later.”

And I was dismissed.

 

DE

In Port, & Dry Land Ain’t All That Great

It’s Thursday in the Port, and I’m walking in what some folk call the rougher part of the city. This always means “poorer”. Which always seems comparable to what the more genteel folk of a place class as, well, genteel. Go three streets over and one down. You’ll be walking where the genteel live and money talks up a storm. In a genteel way, of course.

But where I’m walking, money only whispers if it says anything at all, and there are bars and used furniture shops and tenement buildings. The cars are old, not vintage. As I walk along the sidewalk a van enters the driveway immediately ahead of me. Stops so its ass is on part of the sidewalk and I have to swerve.

The side doors slide open and out come a dozen or so men and women. Poorly dressed. Unkempt. Quiet if not sullen. They are intent, and follow the gestures of the driver. This way. This way. They are all headed to a tavern on the corner. I follow the group along the sidewalk, although not into the drinking establishment. As I pass I notice the marker-on-cardboard signs in the window. ‘Two Bucks a Drink Thursday’.

I continue up a hill and then down a hill. I’m aiming for the harbour because I like the water, and the boats, and the vistas. This part of the harbour is also genteel, because there is a large hotel and retirement homes along the genteel boardwalk. There are benches upon which to sit. I appreciate all this. I chose a bench and I sit.

I can sit literally for an hour and more. I am no where near my quota when a roughly, though neatly dressed, young man sits on a bench a couple away from me. He stares out to sea in silence for a number of minutes. Then he starts to talk loudly enough for me to hear. I am the only one present.

“Gotta storm coming down the coast.”

“I heard.” And I have.

“Going to be bad.”

“So they say.”

“Not good to go out on that.”

“I bet.”

“I gotta boat waiting for me.” He mentions the name of a fishing village. “Haven’t been out for awhile.”

“I wouldn’t start today.” And I wouldn’t, but I don’t fish.

“It’s a bugger.” He has not once looked at me. “Gotta go back sometime.”

“I’m sure you do.” And I am.

“Lost a man last time.” I’m not sure I hear him correctly. “Messy death. The sea’s like that.”

I feel I should say something, and I’m sure I should have. But what? I am not certain, truth be told, that he is even – really – talking to me. There is no emotion in his voice. He has yet to look at me. At best it’s a monologue and I’m the audience.

He then opens his outer windbreaker and takes a large bottle from an inner pocket. It looks like a bottle that commercial mouthwash is sold in. He screws off the cap and starts to drink. He does not gargle.  He takes a number of drinks in quick succession, and I am convinced it is not mouthwash. But I do not know. He screws the cap back on and puts the bottle back in his pocket. He sits. He sits in silence.

“Sea’s getting rough.” He stands. “Lot of wind.” He starts toward the railing along the boardwalk. “I’ve got the Spring run, but I’m not going out after that.” He leans against the railing. “Time to stop. Yes, it is.”

He stands, looking out over the raising waves for a couple of minutes. Then he walks away.

 

(Jacques Brel’s “Port of Amsterdam” via David Bowie)

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