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Berlin

Burning In Berlin / A Horror Movie

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[From my long-ago time in Berlin this movie script (and two novels) emerged. Here is the beginning sequence.]

EXT. BARREN FIELD WITH AUTUMN GRASS – DAY

Traffic sounds comes from the four streets bounding the field.

EXT. HILL IN FIELD – DAY

An information sign is at the foot of the hill. A newly-painted Linden tree grows beside it.

EXT. INFORMATION SIGN – DAY

THE INFORMATION SIGN READS Fehurer Bunker

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

A middle-aged TOUR GUIDE stands by the front seat, facing the passengers.

TOUR GUIDE

The Berlin police don’t

want us any closer.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

Tourist faces peering from the windows.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

Tourists from the far side of the bus bend and peer over those seated.

EXT. LINDEN TREE ON HILL – DAY

One raven flutters and lands on a tree limb.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

Two or three faces are pressed in each window.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Tour Guide is pointing through the window.

 

TOUR GUIDE

All of a sudden, the city says it

is unsafe. (laughs) They don’t want

to see all you rich tourists being

swallowed.

 

2.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

Peering faces, and Tour Guide’s finger pressed to window.

EXT. INFORMATION SIGN – DAY

A second Raven settles upon the sign. It hops about until it

stops over the word ‘Fehurer’.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

A BOY and GIRL, both slender and twelve, are staring from a window. A MAN WITH AN EYE PACH, in his forties and muscular, wearing a suit from the Salvation Army and a work shirt, bends over them, peering.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Boy and Girl have their heads together. The girl moves her

hand, and points through the top of the window.

EXT. LINDEN TREE – DAY

A third crow is landing on one of the branches. The other two

are agitated, but quickly settle.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With the Eye Patch hastily puts his hand over the

girl’s mouth.

 

MAN WITH EYE PATCH

Shh.

 

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The girl moves her hand from the window. The childrens’

faces move back.

EXT. LINDEN TREE – DAY

The two Ravens in the branches descend to the Information

Sign.

EXT. INFORMATION SIGN – DAY

The Three Ravens shuffle together, and stand shoulder to shoulder.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Tour Guide has his head pressed against the window.

3.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Tour Guide, bent against the window, speaks loudly.

 

TOUR GUIDE

Too big for crows. They’re ravens.

 

EXT. INFORMATION SIGN – DAY

The three Ravens flutter down to the ground. They hop

erratically on the brown grass.

 

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Tour Guide reluctantly leaves the window, and faces

the tourists.

 

TOUR GUIDE

Maybe the ground is dangerous, and

they feel it. Hitler’s original

bunker is still down there. Even the

Russians didn’t dare blow it up. It

would have caved in a dozen

surrounding blocks.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

There are now so many faces in the windows that some

jostling is going on. A few heads turn, speaking

angrily.

EXT. FOOT OF INFORMATION SIGN – DAY

The three Ravens no longer hop erratically. They are

obviously moving in a ritualized formation. Their

dance finishes with them lined up, staring at the

Tour Bus.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Tour Guide is standing at the top of the steps,

facing a YOUNG MAN with a Movie Camera around his

Neck.

 

YOUNG MAN

I gotta get a picture for my

Gramps. He fought Hitler and

still hates him.

 

 

4.

TOUR GUIDE

I’m not supposed to let –

 

YOUNG MAN

One guy won’t make it cave in.

 

TOUR GUIDE

But the others –

 

YOUNG MAN

I’ll be off and back in a minute.

The YOUNG MAN hold up the Camera to the Tour Guide.

 

YOUNG MAN

I’ll use the zoom. I won’t even walk

on your precious field.

EXT. FOOT OF SIGN – DAY

The Three Ravens are stock still. The one in the middle cocks

his head toward the bus. The Other Two close their eyes.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY.

The door of the Tourist Bus opens.

EXT. FOOT OF SIGN – DAY

The Two Ravens with closed eyes cock their heads in the same

direction as the middle bird.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Young Man steps from the bus.

 

YOUNG MAN

Gramps will kick my ass if I

don’t.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The man With the Eye Patch pushes the Two Children onto the seat,

EXT. FOOT OF SIGN – DAY

The Two Ravens with closed eyes open their eyes in unison.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With The Eye Patch stands in the aisle.

 

 

  1.          MAN WITH THE EYE PATCH

Stop him!

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Tour Guide takes one step along the aisle of the bus.

 

TOUR GUIDE

It’s just a frigging picture.

 

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Young Man walks across the sidewalk to the edge of the field.

He holds the Camera in front of his face.

 

YOUNG MAN

Cement twenty feet thick. It

can’t cave in.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With The Eye Patch sits with the Two Children.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Young Man looks behind him at the bus, then starts to walk

across the field.

 

YOUNG MAN

There’s something written on the

sign, but the zoom can’t get it.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Tour Guide is standing on the bottom step.

 

TOUR GUIDE

Hey!

EXT. FOOT OF SIGN – DAY

The Three Raves silently take flight

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Young Man is adjusting the Camera when he hears the Tour Guide. He turns around with a scowl.

6.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Tour Guide is standing outside the open door. He is beckoning with his hand.

 

TOUR GUIDE

I can get fined. Come back here!

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Young Man is adjusting his Camera, his back to the field. He doesn’t look up as he yells to the Tour Guide.

 

YOUNG MAN

They’re not going to fine you

for two more minutes.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Middle Raven starts to dive, while the others fly on.

EXT. TOUR BUS – DAY

The Tour Guide starts crossing the sidewalk.

 

TOUR GUIDE

I’ve already got one guy

complaining.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Two Ravens fly in unison, side by side.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

 

The Young Man finishes adjusting his Camera. He looks up to see

the Tour Guide at the edge of the field. He holds up his Camera.

 

YOUNG MAN

It’s new. I got it for this

trip.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Tour Guide is on the grass. He stops, and puts his hands on

his hips.

 

TOUR GUIDE

You said a minute. I’ll have to

leave you here.

7.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Two Ravens start into a steep dive, one above the other.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Young Man lets go of his Camera. It swings on the neck strap,

bouncing against his chest.

 

YOUNG MAN

Then you’ll have another guy

complaining.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Single Raven adjusts its dive. Its eyes blink.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Young Man glares at the Tour Guide. He grabs his Camera again,

then turns back toward the Sign, raising the Camera to his face.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Two Ravens shift position, the bottom one moving to the top.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Tour Guide just starts to look up as the Lone Raven strikes

him on the side of the head.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Two Ravens are in a steep dive. The top one gets behind

the other.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Tour Guide is rolling on the ground. The Raven’s claws are

clamped to his ear, and its beak is in his eye.

EXT. TOUR BUS – DAY

The Two Ravens enter the door of the bus.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Single Raven tears off the Tour Guide’s ear.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Bus Driver holds his hands protectively in front of his

face as the Ravens fly past.

8.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Young Man turns toward the bus. He starts filming.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Tour Guide attempts to get up. The Raven has its beak in his

mouth.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Ravens fly along the aisle, amid screaming passengers.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With The Eye Patch grabs the two children. He shoves them

onto the floor between the seats.

 

MAN WITH EYE PATCH

Stay down!

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Tour Guide has managed to stand. The Raven is fluttering in

front of his face. It has the Tour Guide’s tongue in its beak.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Young Man continues taking pictures.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

Panicked, screaming faces are in the windows. Many passengers are

beating their hands against the glass.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Ravens keep a steady course, but get side -by- side.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With the Eye Patch is taking off his suit coat.

 

MAN WITH EYE PATCH

Not fucking again.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Ravens skim the roof of the bus. They both look down.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With the Eye Patch glances at the Two Children.

9.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Two Children huddle on the floor. The Boy lies on the Girl.

stretching over her. He turns his head toward the Man With the Eye Patch.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With the Eye Patch yells at the Boy.

 

MAN WITH EYE PATCH

Hide your face!

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Two Ravens dive simultaneously.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Man With the Eye Patch holds up his suit coat in front of him.

The two Ravens fly right into the suit coat, pulling it from the Man’s hands. The Birds, entangled in the suit coat, hurtle against the window. One Bird gets free, while the other, still encased in the suit coat, falls on the Children.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Boy shoves the Girl under the seat in front of them.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The freed Raven flies up toward the Man With the Eye Patch.The Man

crouches into the stance of a boxer, and punches the bird directly

on the side of its head. The stunned Raven tumbles over the

seat back.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Boy scurries under the seat where he had been sitting.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With the Eye Patch grabs his suit coat with the trapped

Raven, and throws it to the far side of the bus.

 

MAN WITH THE EYE PATCH

(yelling)

All of you – get down!

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Raven is half out of the suit coat when it hits the window.

10.

It spirals to the roof of the bus.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The raven which the Man With the Eye Patch hit, teeters on the

top of a seat back.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With the Eye Patch grabs for his suit coat.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Raven on the seat back lifts into the air.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Boy finally manages to squeeze completely under the seat.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The two Ravens start flying to the front of the bus.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With the Eye Patch holds his suit coat in front of him

again.

 

MAN WITH EYE PATCH

Stay down!

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Ravens reach the front of the bus. The Bus Driver is crouched

on the floor, jammed under the steering wheel.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With the Eye Patch lowers his suit coat. He glances at the

two Children.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Two Ravens fly out of the door of the bus.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Tour Guide is sprawled on his back. The Raven’s claws are

gripping either side of his neck, and its beak is jabbing into

his other eye.

11.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Two Ravens wobble in their flight as they raise into the air.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Young Man is walking toward the Tour Guide, filming. He

hesitates, stops walking, and looks up.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With the Eye Patch is reaching between the seats.

 

MAN WITH EYE PATCH

Come on out.

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Young Man raises his Camera and steps back, aiming into the

sky.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With the Eye Patch helps the Girl from under the seat.

As she gets up and stands by the window, he assists the Boy. When

The Boy is standing, the Man With the Eye Patch puts on his suit

Coat.

 

MAN WITH EYE PATCH

You two knew about this, didn’t

you?

The Girl taps her finger against the window.

 

GIRL

Look!

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

The Two Ravens swoop toward the Third Raven on the ground.

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

The Man With the Eye Patch and the Children look out the window.

The Boy glances up at the Man.

 

BOY

You said we’d be safe.

The Man With the Eye Patch stands straight.

 

MAN WITH EYE PATCH

You’re safe, ain’t you?

(Image)https://i.pinimg.com/originals/3f/33/98/3f3398e10b275d21c698e4918748f790.jpg

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Going Through Checkpoint Charlie Where East Meets West (Berlin)

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[Checkpoint Charlie]

30 May

I first visited Europe years before the Euro was the accepted coin of the realm. In fact, there were many coins of many realms, and all that money caused a fuss.

I kept a daily diary of this trip, and plan to make it a part of any memoirs I might write. So I’ve hauled it out and will make some blogs from it. But they will be greatly abridged.

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

30 May

Around ten o’clock I set out for Checkpoint Charlie. I say that I set out for Checkpoint Charlie, but i would be less than truthful if I stated I got there easily. In fact, I threw my destiny into the hands of Fate to get there at all. For the first time I did what I understand is a favourite pass time of tourists, I executed a complete circle and returned to the Hostel. At least I wasn’t lost.

I set out again, knowing I was to go past a particular building, and also go through a large field. Surprisingly enough,  after a ten minute walk, I unexpectedly came to Checkpoint Charlie. And there were the people from the group I was travelling with, who shuffled me into their midst and thus near the front of the line.

Going past the British soldiers was a matter of seconds. You gave your name and the time you expected to return and that was it. Then told you were not allowed to take any photos, you headed to the East German barrier. Here they took your passport; you filled in forms; you had to exchange some of your money for East German money (which you had to spend in the East); got little slips of paper stuck into your passport; walked to a further barrier where you again showed your passport, and then the next thing you were doing was walking in East Berlin.

We had been told to walk along the street until we came to Unter den Linden and then stay on it. We could go down side street, but always return to Unter den Linden. And that is what we did – more or less.

What I had expected of East Berlin was a dark, grey, dirty city, with haggard, suspicious-looking people in 1950’s clothing slinking along the streets with large bundles in their hands. I actually saw little difference in the people, or the place, than what I had seen in West Berlin.

Yes, it was more run-down looking, and there were more ruined buildings, and even buildings that were war-scarred, but it was clean and neat, and the people were like anyone else, though there were far fewer on the streets.

[More to come another day]

 

 

 

Berlin A City After A War

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[Site of Hitler’s bunker today]newnormative.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/germany_berlin_fuhrerbunker_2.jpg

I first visited Europe years before the Euro was the accepted coin of the realm. In fact, there were many coins of many realms, and all that money caused a fuss.

I kept a daily diary of this trip, and plan to make it a part of any memoirs I might write. So I’ve hauled it out and will make some blogs from it. But they will be greatly abridged.

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

May 29

Our guide took us to an Observation Tower which overlooked the old section of Berlin (now, of course, in the East), and where the government buildings once stood. I saw a part of the Kaiser’s Palace in the distance (you must remember that these buildings are restored or being restored) plus other buildings from that era.

What was most interesting for me, however, were the structures that were so prominent in Hitler’s Thousand Years – the War Ministry, Gobble’s Propaganda Office, the Air Ministry and, the place where Hitler’s Chancellery stood., from which he unleashed so much destruction, and now no more than a grassy mound in a field. A mound remains because Hitler’s Bunker is still there. It can not be destroyed because it would do too much damage to the surrounding area to blow it up. I wonder how long this symbol of Hitler, this place so close to him, will remain – perhaps a thousand years? [2019 – it is still there]

We left the Wall (though the Wall never left us) and continued on our way. We went to a stone building and stopped before it. We got out of the bus and walked into a pleasant court yard. It was a memorial – a place called Plötzensee. It was here that many of the people in the unsuccessful revolt against Hitler on June 20, 1944, were executed.

How strange it was to be standing in this grisly place of history. It was a stark, bare, small room, like a clean little room you would find in somebody’s cellar. The hooks sticking from the ceiling from which people were hung were very real. Here people died, here members of the Gestapo stood and smirked, hands on hips. I had heard of places like this, and read books, and now I saw what it was like.

At Work And Play In Europe Long Before The Euo

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I first visited Europe years before the Euro was the accepted coin of the realm. In fact, there were many coins of many realms, and all that money caused a fuss. This was partially rectified by using Traveller’s cheques. And though Traveller’s cheques are still available, their use is not recommended, as so many places won’t even take them.

I kept a daily diary of this trip, and plan to make it a part of any memoirs I might write. So I’ve hauled it out and will make some blogs from it. But they will be greatly abridged

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May 28

Berlin, a city (to say the least) that I had heard about, once upon a time. It’s most noteworthy fame, in my opinion, the capital of Hitler’s Germany. And the present, the only city cut in twain by a wall – that infamous wall which causes so much consternation. And I was landing there – and walking into history.

We eventually arrived at the Youth Hostel, or Red Cross building, or whatever it really was. It was a cold, grey, imposing stone structure that reminded me of a second-rate castle somewhere in the Alps. It was plain and simple, there was never any hot water. I was very tired and dead feeling, so I grabbed a bottom bunk and rested/slept for a few hours. I eventually roused myself and went to take a shower. I do not know how the Germans managed to do it (they manage to do many things), but they were able, by some device, to get their water straight from the head ponds of Siberia.

I went out for a walk after my shower, not so much to sight see as to thaw. I didn’t go very far, just looked in some store windows, and went down to the end of the road, a short distance really, for it ended quite quickly with an old, decrepit-looking wall. I thought to myself, that if this were all the East Germans had to get over, there wouldn’t be much trouble to do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A “Dance of Death” For Halloween

dm_berlin01

In my novel, “There Has Been A Sighting”, sightings of Satan are tracked and confronted.

An antechamber to such an encounter occurs in the crypt of the  St. Marien Church, in Berlin. Here is found Der Totentanz – The Dance of Death.

Excerpt:

Dorkas removes the keys from her pocket. “Which is worse, do you think. Keys keeping things out, or keys letting things in?”

“They each – ” begins Breeze.

“You may as well have the flashlight.” Dorkas interrupts her. “Until we get the damn door open.”

Breeze has to hurry to stay in step, and almost drops the flashlight in her haste. When they reach the door, Dorkas quickly inserts the key. It works with ease.

“Fortune smiles on my enterprise,” mutters Dorkas.

“I don’t understand.” The young woman is perplexed as she looks around. “I’m certain when I was here, the painting was on these walls.” She watches Dorkas put the other key into a second door. “We didn’t go anywhere else.”

“What did Agnes tell you?” Dorkas opens the door, and glares down a darkened flight of steps.

“I’m not supposed to say.”

“Mother Ursula certainly expects me to go down into the gloom.” Dorkas is harsh. “Otherwise, why am I here?”

“I don’t deny that’s the way it is now.” Breeze stands beside her, peering into the dark. “I just wonder if it is what we would find tomorrow.”

“I may as well take their kind illumination.”

“Agnes only had a candle.” Breeze gives her the flashlight.

“Agnes could not fear half the terror I feel.” Dorkas shines the light down the stairs. “She expected to come back.”

“I’ll be waiting.”

“If I’m not forever, then I won’t be long.”

As Dorkas descends, the stone walls absorb the light, pockmarking the surface with rough shadows. She pauses before entering the room, perturbed by the dimness. Her light had shone brightly minutes ago, but now its beam seems submerged in water.

“Damn.”

She slaps the flashlight against her open palm.

“I’d do better with – ”

She stumbles on the bottom step, twisting her right foot as she is thrown against the wall.

“Damn.”

The flashlight falls and rolls across the floor. She hears its metal casing scratch over the stones, and watches the beam of light spiral like a demented beacon, until it turns around to shine back into her face.

“I won’t stay if that goes out.”

Dorkas deliberately speaks aloud.

“Whether I’m in Berlin for a night or a year.”

She tests her foot and finds her ankle is slightly injured.   “If I break my leg, what will they do? Leave me down here?”     She bends over to get the flashlight.

“A permanent fixture.”

As she takes the light, she points it away from herself.

“Christ.”

The feet are bare, and dirty, and raising dust as they dance. A cloud of dust rises up their emaciated legs to their knees. Although Dorkas is in a crouched position, she jerks away from the figures, and sprawls on her back.

She starts to cough in the dust, and the ragged, whirling band begins to encircle her. The light gripped in her hand strays across their bodies, and catches the glint of bleached, protruding teeth as they grin down at her.

“A tomb.” Dorkas shouts.

She can not count the number of hands reaching toward her, their flesh mottled from the iridescence of putrefaction. The frayed cuffs of their funeral finery trail strands of unravelling cloth, and she cringes from the touch.

“You want me with you?” Dorkas struggles to her knees. “To end on your wall?”

Bejewelled rings and bracelets rattle against bony fingers and wrists. The sound fills her ears as the hands, extending to grab her, are jostled by the tempo of the dance. They can not stop their own feet, and they can not stop their partners who hurry them ever on.

“I won’t.” Dorkas holds the light in both hands. “Alive or dead.”

Der Totentanz becomes smaller as the figures tighten the circle around Dorkas. A whiff of their decay permeates the dust, and she turns her head, coughing even more. But she can’t avoid their movement, their grasping hands, their stench. Victory is etched upon their faces.

“Dorkas.”

She barely hears her name as she huddles more closely to the floor. She is afraid to stand in case the frenzied dancers graze against her. She fears that the slightest brush – whether from their knees, their fingers, or even their rotting clothes – will lift her to her feet and make her a part of this final procession.

“Dorkas! I can’t turn on the electric lights.”

“You wouldn’t want to see.” Dorkas tries to shout, but her throat is clamped by hysteria. “This is worse than buried alive. I’d rather be in the dark.”

The dust of the dead is filling her mouth as she switches off the flashlight.

“Dorkas! For God’s sake.”

Breeze comes plunging down the stairs, scraping her hands as she steadies herself against the wall.

“Answer me!”

When she reaches the bottom, she stops in the blackness. Her hesitation is brief, and she starts forward at her usual pace, hands outstretched. She strains to hear the slightest sound.

“Dorkas? Did you drop the flashlight?”

“Are you alive?”

“Dorkas?” Breeze turns abruptly, for the voice is behind her. “Of course I’m alive.”

“Then I guess we both are.”

Dorkas gets to her knees, and slowly stands.

“Berlin proves to be as wonderful as I anticipated.” She brushes dust off her shirt. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Did you lose the flashlight?” Breeze starts to move toward the other woman’s voice.

Dorkas is momentarily puzzled, then realizes it is still gripped fiercely in her hand. She switches it on, casting a beam over Breeze’s legs.

“You’re it.”

“I thought you were it.” Breeze looks down at her legs, then follows the light back to Dorkas. “When you didn’t answer, I thought something had gone wrong.”

“I’m in Berlin.” Dorkas laughs harshly. “Everything goes wrong.”

She approaches the younger woman slowly.

“I don’t know where I would be if you hadn’t come to me.” Dorkas strokes Breeze’s arm. “Your intervention won’t make the others happy.”

“I’ll handle himself if you take care of the old girl.”

“Deal.”

“Let’s take a look.” Breeze reaches for the flashlight.

“A look?”

“At the bloody painting.” Breeze is turning the light toward the wall. “I know it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but maybe we can figure how its now in a different place.”

“No.” Dorkas swats the flashlight with her hand. “If you accept that there is God and Satan, then you accept there are things beyond your power.”

She stands close to Breeze, the light between them.

“You do not invite what can destroy you – that is dangerous folly.”

“But you came here.”

“Yes.” Dorkas takes back the flashlight. “I came here. And that courage – and you – enables me to walk out of here.”

She looks Breeze in the eyes.

“I have light, and I have a friend, and I’m not going to be buried alive. Not tonight, at any rate.”

She shakes the flashlight.

“Not here, at any rate.”

Dorkas sighs deeply.

“But I’ve done my part.”

“These are distinctions I don’t understand.” Breeze begins to feel uncomfortable. “Here we are – standing right here. Haven’t you won?”

“If you tempt fate?” Dorkas speaks softly. “No – fate will always win. Fate has all the cards.”

“That sounds fatalistic.”

“Life is fatal.”

“Perhaps I’ll come back tomorrow and be a tourist.” Breeze wants to hear her own voice. “Will a bunch of loud Italians and pushy Americans keep the dancers in the painting?”

“It might make it easier for them to mingle.”

“I’m not going to see them step from the wall,” insists Breeze.

“I suggest you look closely at the mustiest Italian, or the most hysterical American.” Dorkas shines the light toward the exit. “And then keep your distance.”

Dorkas is impatient as she watches the young woman walk through the beam of light, and quickly begins to follow.

“Did you say something?”

“No.” Dorkas answers curtly, but she has heard it too.

It is a sound which stays in her ears, until the door is firmly closed and locked behind them.

The sounds of an interrupted dance, where she knows partners are still being sought.

The Dance Of Death / Der Totentanz

berlin-007

In my novel, “There Has Been A Sighting”, sightings of Satan are tracked and confronted. An antechamber to such an encounter occurs in the crypt of the St. Marien church, in Berlin.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt from: “There Has Been A Sighting”

“Mother Ursula certainly expects me to go down into the gloom.” Dorkas is harsh. “Otherwise, why am I here?”

“I don’t deny that’s the way it is now.” Breeze stands beside her, peering into the dark. “I just wonder if it is what we would find tomorrow.”

“I may as well take their kind illumination.”

“Agnes only had a candle.” Breeze gives her the flashlight.

“Agnes could not fear half the terror I feel.” Dorkas shines the light down the stairs. “She expected to come back.”

“I’ll be waiting.”

“If I’m not forever, then I won’t be long.”

As Dorkas descends, the stone walls absorb the light, pockmarking the surface with rough shadows. She pauses before entering the room, perturbed by the dimness. Her light had shone brightly minutes ago, but now its beam seems submerged in water.

“Damn.”

She slaps the flashlight against her open palm.

“I’d do better with – ”

She stumbles on the bottom step, twisting her right foot as she is thrown against the wall.

“Damn.”

The flashlight falls and rolls across the floor. She hears its metal casing scratch over the stones, and watches the beam of light spiral like a demented beacon, until it turns around to shine back into her face.

“I won’t stay if that goes out.”

Dorkas deliberately speaks aloud.

“Whether I’m in Berlin for a night or a year.”

She tests her foot and finds her ankle is slightly injured.   “If I break my leg, what will they do? Leave me down here?”     She bends over to get the flashlight.

“A permanent fixture.”

As she takes the light, she points it away from herself.

“Christ.”

The feet are bare, and dirty, and raising dust as they dance. A cloud of dust rises up their emaciated legs to their knees. Although Dorkas is in a crouched position, she jerks away from the figures, and sprawls on her back.

She starts to cough in the dust, and the ragged, whirling band begins to encircle her. The light gripped in her hand strays across their bodies, and catches the glint of bleached, protruding teeth as they grin down at her.

“A tomb.” Dorkas shouts.

She can not count the number of hands reaching toward her, their flesh mottled from the iridescence of putrefaction. The frayed cuffs of their funeral finery trail strands of unravelling cloth, and she cringes from the touch.

“You want me with you?” Dorkas struggles to her knees. “To end on your wall?”

Bejewelled rings and bracelets rattle against bony fingers and wrists. The sound fills her ears as the hands, extending to grab her, are jostled by the tempo of the dance. They can not stop their own feet, and they can not stop their partners who hurry them ever on.

“I won’t.” Dorkas holds the light in both hands. “Alive or dead.”

Der Totentanz becomes smaller as the figures tighten the circle around Dorkas. A whiff of their decay permeates the dust, and she turns her head, coughing even more. But she can’t avoid their movement, their grasping hands, their stench. Victory is etched upon their faces.

“Dorkas.”

She barely hears her name as she huddles more closely to the floor. She is afraid to stand in case the frenzied dancers graze against her. She fears that the slightest brush – whether from their knees, their fingers, or even their rotting clothes – will lift her to her feet and make her a part of this final procession.

“Dorkas! I can’t turn on the electric lights.”

“You wouldn’t want to see.” Dorkas tries to shout, but her throat is clamped by hysteria. “This is worse than buried alive. I’d rather be in the dark.”

The dust of the dead is filling her mouth as she switches off the flashlight.

“Dorkas! For God’s sake.”

Breeze comes plunging down the stairs, scraping her hands as she steadies herself against the wall.

“Answer me!”

When she reaches the bottom, she stops in the blackness. Her hesitation is brief, and she starts forward at her usual pace, hands outstretched. She strains to hear the slightest sound.

“Dorkas? Did you drop the flashlight?”

“Are you alive?”

“Dorkas?” Breeze turns abruptly, for the voice is behind her. “Of course I’m alive.”

“Then I guess we both are.”

Dorkas gets to her knees, and slowly stands.

“Berlin proves to be as wonderful as I anticipated.” She brushes dust off her shirt. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Did you lose the flashlight?” Breeze starts to move toward the other woman’s voice.

Dorkas is momentarily puzzled, then realizes it is still gripped fiercely in her hand. She switches it on, casting a beam over Breeze’s legs.

“You’re it.”

“I thought you were it.” Breeze looks down at her legs, then follows the light back to Dorkas. “When you didn’t answer, I thought something had gone wrong.”

“I’m in Berlin.” Dorkas laughs harshly. “Everything goes wrong.”

She approaches the younger woman slowly.

“I don’t know where I would be if you hadn’t come to me.” Dorkas strokes Breeze’s arm. “Your intervention won’t make the others happy.”

“I’ll handle himself if you take care of the old girl.”

“Deal.”

“Let’s take a look.” Breeze reaches for the flashlight.

“A look?”

“At the bloody painting.” Breeze is turning the light toward the wall. “I know it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but maybe we can figure how its now in a different place.”

“No.” Dorkas swats the flashlight with her hand. “If you accept that there is God and Satan, then you accept there are things beyond your power.”

She stands close to Breeze, the light between them.

“You do not invite what can destroy you – that is dangerous folly.”

“But you came here.”

“Yes.” Dorkas takes back the flashlight. “I came here. And that courage – and you – enables me to walk out of here.”

She looks Breeze in the eyes.

“I have light, and I have a friend, and I’m not going to be buried alive. Not tonight, at any rate.”

She shakes the flashlight.

“Not here, at any rate.”

Dorkas sighs deeply.

“But I’ve done my part.”

“These are distinctions I don’t understand.” Breeze begins to feel uncomfortable. “Here we are – standing right here. Haven’t you won?”

“If you tempt fate?” Dorkas speaks softly. “No – fate will always win. Fate has all the cards.”

“That sounds fatalistic.”

“Life is fatal.”

“Perhaps I’ll come back tomorrow and be a tourist.” Breeze wants to hear her own voice. “Will a bunch of loud Italians and pushy Americans keep the dancers in the painting?”

“It might make it easier for them to mingle.”

“I’m not going to see them step from the wall,” insists Breeze.

“I suggest you look closely at the mustiest Italian, or the most hysterical American.” Dorkas shines the light toward the exit. “And then keep your distance.”

Dorkas is impatient as she watches the young woman walk through the beam of light, and quickly begins to follow.

“Did you say something?”

“No.” Dorkas answers curtly, but she has heard it too.

It is a sound which stays in her ears, until the door is firmly closed and locked behind them.

The sounds of an interrupted dance, where she knows partners are still being sought.

 

The “Dance of Death” [Der Berliner Totentanz] Offered For Halloween

In my novel, “There Has Been A Sighting”, sightings of Satan are tracked and confronted. An antechamber to such an encounter occurs in the crypt of the St. Marien church, in Berlin.

 

berlin-1936

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dorkas removes the keys from her pocket. “Which is worse, do you think. Keys keeping things out, or keys letting things in?”

“They each – ” begins Breeze.

“You may as well have the flashlight.” Dorkas interrupts her. “Until we get the damn door open.”

Breeze has to hurry to stay in step, and almost drops the flashlight in her haste. When they reach the door, Dorkas quickly inserts the key. It works with ease.

“Fortune smiles on my enterprise,” mutters Dorkas.

“I don’t understand.” The young woman is perplexed as she looks around. “I’m certain when I was here, the painting was on these walls.” She watches Dorkas put the other key into a second door. “We didn’t go anywhere else.”

“What did Agnes tell you?” Dorkas opens the door, and glares down a darkened flight of steps.

“I’m not supposed to say.”

“Mother Ursula certainly expects me to go down into the gloom.” Dorkas is harsh. “Otherwise, why am I here?”

“I don’t deny that’s the way it is now.” Breeze stands beside her, peering into the dark. “I just wonder if it is what we would find tomorrow.”

“I may as well take their kind illumination.”

“Agnes only had a candle.” Breeze gives her the flashlight.

“Agnes could not fear half the terror I feel.” Dorkas shines the light down the stairs. “She expected to come back.”

“I’ll be waiting.”

“If I’m not forever, then I won’t be long.”

As Dorkas descends, the stone walls absorb the light, pockmarking the surface with rough shadows. She pauses before entering the room, perturbed by the dimness. Her light had shone brightly minutes ago, but now its beam seems submerged in water.

“Damn.”

She slaps the flashlight against her open palm.

“I’d do better with – ”

She stumbles on the bottom step, twisting her right foot as she is thrown against the wall.

“Damn.”

The flashlight falls and rolls across the floor. She hears its metal casing scratch over the stones, and watches the beam of light spiral like a demented beacon, until it turns around to shine back into her face.

“I won’t stay if that goes out.”

Dorkas deliberately speaks aloud.

“Whether I’m in Berlin for a night or a year.”

She tests her foot and finds her ankle is slightly injured.   “If I break my leg, what will they do? Leave me down here?”     She bends over to get the flashlight.

“A permanent fixture.”

As she takes the light, she points it away from herself.

“Christ.”

The feet are bare, and dirty, and raising dust as they dance. A cloud of dust rises up their emaciated legs to their knees. Although Dorkas is in a crouched position, she jerks away from the figures, and sprawls on her back.

She starts to cough in the dust, and the ragged, whirling band begins to encircle her. The light gripped in her hand strays across their bodies, and catches the glint of bleached, protruding teeth as they grin down at her.

“A tomb.” Dorkas shouts.

She can not count the number of hands reaching toward her, their flesh mottled from the iridescence of putrefaction. The frayed cuffs of their funeral finery trail strands of unravelling cloth, and she cringes from the touch.

“You want me with you?” Dorkas struggles to her knees. “To end on your wall?”

Bejewelled rings and bracelets rattle against bony fingers and wrists. The sound fills her ears as the hands, extending to grab her, are jostled by the tempo of the dance. They can not stop their own feet, and they can not stop their partners who hurry them ever on.

“I won’t.” Dorkas holds the light in both hands. “Alive or dead.”

Der Totentanz becomes smaller as the figures tighten the circle around Dorkas. A whiff of their decay permeates the dust, and she turns her head, coughing even more. But she can’t avoid their movement, their grasping hands, their stench. Victory is etched upon their faces.

“Dorkas.”

She barely hears her name as she huddles more closely to the floor. She is afraid to stand in case the frenzied dancers graze against her. She fears that the slightest brush – whether from their knees, their fingers, or even their rotting clothes – will lift her to her feet and make her a part of this final procession.

“Dorkas! I can’t turn on the electric lights.”

“You wouldn’t want to see.” Dorkas tries to shout, but her throat is clamped by hysteria. “This is worse than buried alive. I’d rather be in the dark.”

The dust of the dead is filling her mouth as she switches off the flashlight.

“Dorkas! For God’s sake.”

Breeze comes plunging down the stairs, scraping her hands as she steadies herself against the wall.

“Answer me!”

When she reaches the bottom, she stops in the blackness. Her hesitation is brief, and she starts forward at her usual pace, hands outstretched. She strains to hear the slightest sound.

“Dorkas? Did you drop the flashlight?”

“Are you alive?”

“Dorkas?” Breeze turns abruptly, for the voice is behind her. “Of course I’m alive.”

“Then I guess we both are.”

Dorkas gets to her knees, and slowly stands.

“Berlin proves to be as wonderful as I anticipated.” She brushes dust off her shirt. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Did you lose the flashlight?” Breeze starts to move toward the other woman’s voice.

Dorkas is momentarily puzzled, then realizes it is still gripped fiercely in her hand. She switches it on, casting a beam over Breeze’s legs.

“You’re it.”

“I thought you were it.” Breeze looks down at her legs, then follows the light back to Dorkas. “When you didn’t answer, I thought something had gone wrong.”

“I’m in Berlin.” Dorkas laughs harshly. “Everything goes wrong.”

She approaches the younger woman slowly.

“I don’t know where I would be if you hadn’t come to me.” Dorkas strokes Breeze’s arm. “Your intervention won’t make the others happy.”

“I’ll handle himself if you take care of the old girl.”

“Deal.”

“Let’s take a look.” Breeze reaches for the flashlight.

“A look?”

“At the bloody painting.” Breeze is turning the light toward the wall. “I know it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but maybe we can figure how its now in a different place.”

“No.” Dorkas swats the flashlight with her hand. “If you accept that there is God and Satan, then you accept there are things beyond your power.”

She stands close to Breeze, the light between them.

“You do not invite what can destroy you – that is dangerous folly.”

“But you came here.”

“Yes.” Dorkas takes back the flashlight. “I came here. And that courage – and you – enables me to walk out of here.”

She looks Breeze in the eyes.

“I have light, and I have a friend, and I’m not going to be buried alive. Not tonight, at any rate.”

She shakes the flashlight.

“Not here, at any rate.”

Dorkas sighs deeply.

“But I’ve done my part.”

“These are distinctions I don’t understand.” Breeze begins to feel uncomfortable. “Here we are – standing right here. Haven’t you won?”

“If you tempt fate?” Dorkas speaks softly. “No – fate will always win. Fate has all the cards.”

“That sounds fatalistic.”

“Life is fatal.”

“Perhaps I’ll come back tomorrow and be a tourist.” Breeze wants to hear her own voice. “Will a bunch of loud Italians and pushy Americans keep the dancers in the painting?”

“It might make it easier for them to mingle.”

“I’m not going to see them step from the wall,” insists Breeze.

“I suggest you look closely at the mustiest Italian, or the most hysterical American.” Dorkas shines the light toward the exit. “And then keep your distance.”

Dorkas is impatient as she watches the young woman walk through the beam of light, and quickly begins to follow.

“Did you say something?”

“No.” Dorkas answers curtly, but she has heard it too.

It is a sound which stays in her ears, until the door is firmly closed and locked behind them.

The sounds of an interrupted dance, where she knows partners are still being sought.

DE

 

(image)http://www.dodedans.com/Full/berlin-1936.jpg

Horror Movie In Berlin – Ravens Against Tourists

5-01(image)http://theberlinexpert.com/images/rotatingimage/5-01.jpg                                                                                                                                                            8.

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

 

The Young Man turns toward the bus. He starts filming.

 

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

 

The Tour Guide attempts to get up. The Raven has its beak in his

mouth.

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Ravens fly along the aisle, amid screaming passengers.

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Man With The Eye Patch grabs the two children. He shoves them

onto the floor between the seats.

 

MAN WITH EYE PATCH

Stay down!

 

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

 

The Tour Guide has managed to stand. The Raven is fluttering in

front of his face. It has the Tour Guide’s tongue in its beak.

 

EXT. BARREN FIELD – DAY

 

The Young Man continues taking pictures.

 

EXT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

Panicked, screaming faces are in the windows. Many passengers are

beating their hands against the glass.

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Ravens keep a steady course, but get side -by- side.

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Man With the Eye Patch is taking off his suit coat.

 

MAN WITH EYE PATCH

Not fucking again.

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Ravens skim the roof of the bus. They both look down.

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Man With the Eye Patch glances at the Two Children.

9.

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Two Children huddle on the floor. The Boy lies on the Girl.

stretching over her. He turns his head toward the Man With the Eye Patch.

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Man With the Eye Patch yells at the Boy.

 

MAN WITH EYE PATCH

Hide your face!

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Two Ravens dive simultaneously.

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Man With the Eye Patch holds up his suit coat in front of him.

The two Ravens fly right into the suit coat, pulling it from the Man’s hands. The Birds, entangled in the suit coat, hurtle against the window. One Bird gets free, while the other, still encased in the suit coat, falls on the Children.

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Boy shoves the Girl under the seat in front of them.

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The freed Raven flies up toward the Man With the Eye Patch.The Man

crouches into the stance of a boxer, and punches the bird directly

on the side of its head. The stunned Raven tumbles over the

seat back.

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Boy scurries under the seat where he had been sitting.

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Man With the Eye Patch grabs his suit coat with the trapped

Raven, and throws it to the far side of the bus.

 

MAN WITH THE EYE PATCH

(yelling)

All of you – get down!

 

INT. TOURIST BUS – DAY

 

The Raven is half out of the suit coat when it hits the window.

DE

Kafka In Love – From Letters To The Grave

3748

(Franz Kafka and Felice Bauer)

Franz Kafka had many lovers in his life. They ranged from Dora Diamant to Felice Bauer.

Dora was his lover at the end of his life. She was twelve years his junior, and had to be restrained from leaping into his open grave.

Felice was engaged to him twice. And, as this excellent article from The Guardian points out, most of their relationship occurred through letters. And those few times they were together were not always filled with bliss.

After The Guardian article are some excerpts from my Kafka in The Castle, also dealing with his relationship with Felice. Poor Felice.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Franz Kafka’s virtual romance: a love affair by letters as unreal as online dating

His love letters were sent by post rather than email, but Kafka’s affair with Felice Bauer recoiled from reality in a way that has become familiar in the internet age

Looking ahead to modern romance … the statue of a giant rotating head of Franz Kafka by Czech artist David Cerny. Photograph: Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images

Rafia Zakaria

@rafiazakaria

Friday 12 August 2016 12.30 BST Last modified on Friday 12 August 2016 17.23 BST

On 13 August 1912, a summer evening in Prague, a young Franz Kafka was gathering up his manuscripts to take to the house of his friend, Max Brod. His excursion to the Brods’ home late in the evening was not unusual, but this was an unusual night, for two momentous reasons: Kafka was about to send off what would be one of his first works to be published, and that evening he would meet the woman who would dominate his romantic imagination for the next five years.

Felice Bauer, a cousin of the Brod family who lived in Berlin, was travelling through Prague on her way to a wedding. That night, she would meet the intense author at the Brods’ dining table. According to Kafka’s version of the events (and it is the only one we have, since Felice’s letters were destroyed), she did not eat much and seemed reticent when he “offered her his hand across the table”. The few words they exchanged, her demeanour, her slippers, where she sat, where he sat, his invitation that she join him on a trip to Jerusalem, his aching self-consciousness as he (along with Max Brod’s father) walked her home: all of this would form the flimsy foundation on which their relationship was built – one they would conduct almost entirely without seeing each other in person, one that Kafka scholar Elias Canetti dubbed “Kafka’s Other Trial.”.

Despite the relatively short distance between Prague and Berlin, Kafka and Bauer would meet only a handful of times, become engaged twice and never marry. But their correspondence of hundreds of letters – which finished when Kafka wrote the last letter in 1917 and only came to the world’s attention in 1955, when Bauer sold his letters to her – is one of the most poignant chronicles of the human urge to share ourselves, while foregoing the vulnerability that such intimacy creates.

Nothing unites two people so completely, especially if, like you and me, all they have is words

Kafka, in a 1912 letter to Bauer

These days, our world is dominated by the written word more than ever before. While letter-writing declines, in 2015 the average office worker received 121 emails every day, their very own share of the 205bn total sent and received in total. In the second decade of the 20th century, Franz and Felice, toiling in offices in Prague and Berlin, were similarly able to count on correspondence, work and otherwise, delivered several times a day. More urgent messages came via telegram and all of it was routine enough by 1912 to be taken for granted.

Kafka relied on the single medium of his letters to mythologise his romance with Bauer, making it, and consequently himself, far more attractive. (“Nothing unites two people so completely, especially if, like you and me, all they have is words,” he wrote in one letter.) He used the distance between the real and virtual worlds to his advantage, in a way that is familiar today – who of us hasn’t crafted a more perfect version of ourselves, in that separate online world?

Kafka resisted putting their epistolary relationship to the real-life test. After finally agreeing to meet Bauer, he sent a telegram in the morning saying he would not be coming, but went anyway – and remained sullen and withdrawn, later complaining that he had been hugely disappointed with the real Felice.

This was predictable: a month before the visit, Kafka wrote that “if one bolts the doors and windows against the world, one can from time to time create the semblance and almost the beginning of the reality of a beautiful life”. In these words, one could argue, lies a premonition of online romance. What Kafka did in lyrical prose, the rest of us bumble through on social media and dating apps today – enjoying a similar disconnect from reality.

And make no mistake, the virtual nature of their relationship was a deliberate effort on Kafka’s part: his allegiance was to writing, and the love he felt for Bauer was constructed entirely in writing, the content and frequency of which he could control. It was entirely untranslatable into an actual marriage. He’d veer between contradictions on that point, too, at one point gushing that “we belong together unconditionally” only to declare “marriage a scaffold” weeks later.

Reticent or eager, the internet age has made writers of us all, and even if most of us are bad ones, we gather up the small prizes of making ourselves and our virtual crushes look better than we are. Yes, our lusty, emotive missives likely lack the incandescence of Kafka’s prose, but his indulgence of a romance restricted to writing gives email love a useful literary genealogy. Kafka’s fiction has bestowed us with the adjective “Kafkaesque”, pointing to the intersection of the perverse and the grotesque woven into the banalities of modern life. Kafka’s love letters suggest another dimension for the term: that incongruity between who we are and who we want to be, between our desire to share our inner worlds and the fear of experiencing the consequent vulnerability that such exposure would bring into our “real” lives. Connection and isolation each have a cost. Virtual worlds, like letters of old, provide a partition between the two; enabled then by the postal service, and now by digital technology.

Partition, however, is not intersection. In his romance with Felice at least, Kafka found no possibility of merging the two. The intimacy that existed on the page did not translate into attraction in reality. By the time the first engagement was broken, too much had been shared, even if only by letter, so their writing to each other continued regardless.

But by the second engagement, Kafka and Bauer were conclusively forced apart – Kafka’s diagnosis with tuberculosis in 1917 had dashed any prospect of marriage. In his final letter to Felice, he wrote: “If we value our lives, let us abandon it all … I am forever fettered to myself, that’s what I am, and that’s what I must try to live with.”

This was not the end, however, to his penchant for the virtual affair: Kafka wrote his first letter to Milena Jesenska, his subsequent love, in 1920.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/aug/12/franz-kafkas-virtual-world-romance-felice-bauer

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Excerpt from Kafka In The Castle

27 February 1917

A letter from F. I am beginning to think that we do not really see the people in front of us. F. has changed from a vibrant companion to a banal drudge. But, of course, she has not really changed. She is neither of these things, but rather a combination. She is a person living through her life, and what I see reflected are my wants and fears. I want F. to share my tiny house, but I am ever fearful she might say yes.

28 March 1917

I have many letters I should write, the principle one being to F. A chore offering little satisfaction, and less pleasure. Except for the relief of knowing it is done. I am an expert in this, since I spend most of my life dealing with chores. The sins of the office will follow me into the third and fourth decade. But what is to be done about Felice? If anything, she is enjoying our correspondence more now, than she ever has. Rarely do we go below the surface of furniture and work. Will this be this, or that be that? If we ever approach the stairway of heaven together, she will be most concerned that the carpeting upon it is expensive and durable.

04 June 1917

Sometimes – with F – a kiss could make me feel I was becoming part of her. And she into me. I retreated.

 

05 June 1917

Had I not retreated, I would have given up myself. This is what is expected from love. My thoughts and emotions would be continually extracted. I have no way to replenish them, so I would eventually be hollowed out. And I would collapse.

 

29 June 1917

Felice is insistent. The heat is intolerable. The Institute drags me in like a bad novel, and smothers me in verbiage. Max threatens to walk out on his wife. Of course, it is to me he gives this threat – I doubt he would ever tell her. Father, with time to think about it, has declared Ottla is too thin and weakened. He was right, he says, the farm work is too much for her. We must all band together to get her back into Prague. “Isn’t that right, Franz?” No `Herr Son’ when he wants something. Bring her back to Prague? After she has escaped? No and never. I would attempt to free the vilest creature crawling in the sewers of Prague.

05 July 1917

I will meet Felice – it is what she wants. It is what must be done. She is coming to Prague, and will no doubt fit in perfectly. My parents approve of her – more, I suspect, than they approve of me. She’ll be insulted by this tiny house – it will be found wanting and crude. Some of those annoying qualities she hints about me.

09 July 1917

We have become engaged for the second time. Joy from my parents. My beaming father. How glad I was that Ottla wasn’t there. I looked around the room and saw what awaited me – overstuffed furniture and mouths full of banality. F. had tea with us, and nibbled on the dainty cakes. And I knew she was taking in each chip of the porcelain to relay to her mother. Weighing and judging.

My father is crude, my mother gushes, but there is obviously money. And, I am a Herr Doktor of Laws, and well advanced up the ladder of bureaucracy. Yes, there are some elements of the brooding author, but that can be restricted to conversations with my friends after dinner on Sunday. Or, a couple of evenings at the coffee house a month. Those should be avenues enough to tend to my funny, little needs. A few hours in the dark, twitching like a timid rodent.

Then, each week could begin anew. We even did our social duties, Felice and I. Visiting friends and relations with the joyous news. In a stiff, high collar which I had to borrow from my father. Much to his delight. We last called upon Max and his wife, as afternoon dragged into evening. Plates of food and platters of words. Max could not take his eyes from my chafing collar, and I knew he wanted to ask about it. But he dared not. Not in front of wife and fiancee. His and mine. He could not contain his smile however. Horror and humour. Mine and his. At least the social niceties were over once we left his house – except, of course, for my walk with F. back to her hotel. She debated whether or not to return to my parents, but I dissuaded her. She might have allowed an embrace on the outside steps, had I but tried. Had I only tried.

But I scuttled away, ascended some other steps, and here I am within this tiny house. The door is open because of the heat, but even had I locked and bared it after me, I fear they all would still enter. Would walk through the walls if necessary. Would scale the castle with ladders, if necessary. They are never going to let me rest. Even as I sleep, they will be lurking in my dreams.

DE

 

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