Search

kafkaestblog

It is a whirlwind in here

Category

novel

One Small Step For . . .

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in **missing** diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. It is estimated Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote

March 1917

               A trail of wet footprints across one of the court yards. Tiny footprints. A child’s. Perhaps a woman’s. Starting and stopping as if out of nothing and into nowhere. She must have walked through a puddle, or some melting snow. This little waltz by an invisible dancer. I held out my arms, a partner at last.

The Queen Gives Advice

In my novel, Fame’s Victim, my central character, ST (so famous he is known just by initials) has, on a number of occasions, done service for Queen Elizabeth II. They form a certain bond. The following is one of their interactions.

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

ST has the momentary feeling that he has been forgotten. The smooth running of the institution of monarchy must continue around the family involved. He imagines no one would be more pleased than the Queen Mother herself. The clasped hands of the Queen relax and she lets them fall to her side. She leans slightly forward as if something in the distance has caught her attention. She then pivots toward the two men.

     “It is expected of me to advise and caution my government.” She looks up at ST. “It is my duty so to do, and my prerogative.”

     “Ma’am?” ST is taken aback.

     “My advice is filtered through my government, and on to my people.”

     “Yes, Ma’am.”

     “As are my cautions.”

     “Ma’am.”

     “There are no grey middlemen at the moment, so I will speak for myself.”

     “That will be appreciated, Ma’am.”

     “You are remaining too reclusive, if Google searches for you are accurate.” She oddly mimics fingers on a keyboard. “I understand the temptations of your North Sea retreat, but they can do you no good.”

     “Ma’am?”

     “You once advised me to rein in my family. The results still prove positive.” The Queen puts a hand on ST’s shoulder. “It is not, however, a balance to go too far in that direction. Do not turn a refuge into a prison.”

     The Queen smiles at him, and her touch on his shoulder becomes a brief pat. She then looks directly at Howard as she steps away from the window.

     “It’s time to move on.”

     “Yes, Ma’am.” Howard starts toward the door.

     “Thank you.” ST is surprised by her comments and his voice is low.

     “Reciprocation.” The Queen is walking quickly across the room. “Howard will facilitate your departure.”

     As she goes through the door Howard has opened, ST takes a last look out the windows. As he turns and starts toward the door he shakes his head.

     “Howard. Was I just rebuked?”

     “No, Sir.” Howard follows him into the corridor and closes the door. “You were given advice by a friend.”

~ Dale Estey

Six Ex-Wives Meet At A Dead Husband’s Funeral

EXCERPT FROM “There Was A Time When The Stones Were Not So Smooth”

#1-and-only husband has – in truth – not fared well under the ministrations of the Undertaker. Yes, she would recognize him, but she would wonder if he had died of some wasting disease. Perhaps the effects of the gas poisoning produced changes, though Alison Alexandra assumes the whole dying-in-your-sleep thing would make you look at peace. Perhaps he had not been found for quite a while. These are not questions she is going to ask, but he would have been annoyed about the way he looks. He was not a vain man – his standard comment about his own appearance was that ‘he wouldn’t cause a cow to have a miscarriage’. However, he was certainly showing his death.

“Should I introduce you?” asks the lawyer.

“Time consuming,” says Alison Alexandra.

Time consuming or not, it is quickly evident the other ex-wives are interested. They are happy to leave the corpse and settle around her.

“Which one are you?” The youngest woman touches her arm.

“Yes, what group do you fall into?” A heavily made-up woman leans closer. “Are you an Alison, or an Alexandra?” She laughs nervously. “I hope you’re an Alexandra like me, because we’re outnumbered.”

‘I both help and hinder your cause. I’m Alison Alexandra.”

“Well, fuck me gentle.” A woman, more sternly-tailored than the lawyer, holds out her hand. “We’ve hit the mother lode.”

“The Dayspring From On High Doth Visit Us.” A broad woman puts a chummy hand on Alison Alexandra’s shoulder and pats her. “Our Sisterhood is complete.”

“We hope so.” A woman with riveting eyes and uniform grey hair taps her teeth as she speaks. “Is Alison Alexandra the end of our merry – or, is it married – troupe?”

“Lawyer Croft?” The heavily made-up Ex points with lacquered finger. “Is she?”

“Of those who will attend – yes.” Iris Croft hesitates. “There is one deceased.”

“Oh – who was she?” The youngest Ex is excited. “An Alison, or an Alexandra?”

“There’s a story there, I’m sure.” The lawyer looks directly at the youngest Ex. “But I do not know it.”

“What do you mean?”

“She was neither an Alison nor an Alexandra.”

“Well – that’s a devilish turn.” The broad and friendly Ex now pats the lawyer on the shoulder. “What was her name?”

“Amanda.”

“He couldn’t get enough of ‘A’s”” The severe and grey haired Ex forces a smile.

“Where did she fit in?” asks the youngest Ex.

“Just before you.”

‘Well, I guess that didn’t last.”

funeral,widow,widower.ex-wife,death,history,life,Alison Alexandre,novel,marriage,“What happened to her?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“She died of heart failure.”

“Jeez Louise.” The youngest Ex is startled. “How old was she?”

“It had nothing to do with age.” Iris Croft wonders if there is any confidentiality to break. However, the Ex was not her client, and both principals are deceased. “She had a genetic heart defect, discovered at autopsy.”

“What was she like?”

“I never met her.” Iris Croft spreads her hands. “Just as I have never met any of you until today.”

“But you asked to see Alison Alexandra.” The severe, grey haired Ex speaks quickly. “What was that about?”

“It’s not for me to discuss.”

“Well…” The severe Ex turns to Alison Alexandra. “What’s it about, then.”

“She doesn’t have to tell us anything.” The heavily-made up Ex steps forward. “I have no plans of getting personal.”

“But it is kinda personal.” The youngest Ex smirks. “We all fucked him.”

“And he – us,” says the severe grey haired Ex.

Alison Alexandra would like to avoid squabbling among the members of this odd club. She doesn’t mind telling them her beneficiary status as regards the houses. They each had received the financial rewards of the houses they lived in. It’s no skin off their noses. Or hers.

“I get the house in the will.”

“What?” The severe grey haired Ex looks at all the others. “Did you marry him again?”

“First in/last out?” Alison Alexandra laughs. “Nothing like that. I was his default beneficiary for each new house – until he married again.” She decides not to tell them that she got to inspect each new house first.

“So you kept in touch with him?”

“He kept in touch with me.”

“Just about the house?” asks the youngest Ex.

“Yes.” Alison Alexandra will allow one truth to cover much territory. “Not even a Christmas card.”

Kafka Plans An Escape From His Life

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in **missing** diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. It is estimated Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote. 

############################

19 June 1917

           I arrived here tonight far later than usual. I had been on a day trip for the Institute, dealing with a court case for a few hours. I was in the station at the furthest reaches of Prague, waiting for the last train to bring me downtown. A taxi would have been more efficient, but I found myself in no hurry. I walked around the station, and found myself staring at the Departures List. All those places, with many trains still passing into the night. Bern. Copenhagen. Florence.

     I had a large amount of the Institute’s money with me (I had won our case), and all my travel documents in order – the war can be circumvented by bureaucrats. I think it was just having all that money which gave rise to such ideas. I realized that, with the right explanations, even London was possible. If I so desired. I had it all arranged in my head. The official letter I would send to Max, before I left the empire, authorizing him to pay back the Institute from my bank account. I had even figured – accurately – the interest to add for each day up until next Monday. And I knew I could trust him to tidy up my other business matters – my apartment, and this tiny house.

     I would tell him to destroy all my manuscripts – he could use this stove. Other letters I could write from other places – to Ottla, to F., to my parents. I thought that I might even be able to eventually make my way to Palestine. That would meet with Max’s approval.

And the trains kept departing before my eyes, one, and another, and another. They were not even crowded, the hour was so late.

And then, there was my train. Back into Prague.

I was the last one on.

It Was Friday 13th Two Years Ago And COVID Was In The Air

In my manuscript, There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth  I finished a chapter about the ‘elderly Dutchmen party with Alison Alexandra’ on Friday 13th. I took a trip and, on 19th March, began what turned out to be nearly a full year of Pandemic writing.The next chapter of the novel begins “In times of Pandemic, one of Alison Alexandra’s greatest worries is being bored.”

I started planning to write about the Pandemic the day after I heard that China was constructing hospitals solely devoted to COVID patients. I knew then the world was going to be in a lot of trouble. I was proved right.

 This is how that chapter began.

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

In times of Pandemic, one of Alison Alexandra’s greatest worries is being bored. And though she doesn’t want to test the theory, she believes she would rather be ill than bored.

“I’d step lightly there,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.

“You would?”

“I would,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost. “And I know what I’m talking about. Yes – I do.”

Within the week of Wuhan City in China being shut down, and the building of emergency hospitals to house the sick, Alison Alexandra knew this would inevitably become the fate of the world. It might have intruded a bit more quickly than she has anticipated, but not by much.

Alison Alexandra of course thinks about the Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”. But she also knows that this is a phrase in English that has no Chinese equivalent. The closest curse in Chinese is “Better to be a dog in peacetime than a human in time of war”.

“I won’t argue with that,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.

And she doesn’t.

So, it was at the beginning of the Chinese curse that Alison Alexandra sets her plan into motion. It is simple, though dependent on circumstance.

Alison Alexandra arranges to get those with whom she’d like to share the End Times – if End Times they prove to be – to join her at her house and wait out the famine with a feast or two. Or three.

“I don’t think the End Times are supposed to be good times,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost/

“Not to put too fine a point on it,” says Alison Alexandra. “But aren’t you supposed to know?”

“Point taken,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.

HM The Queen Graces My Humble Novel – Happy Birthday To Her

HM The Queen is ninety-six years of age, and this year she celebrates the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne. In my novel, More Famous Than The Queen, I follow the life of ST, so famous he is only known by his initials. One of his friends is the Queen of England. They have the occasional meeting.

Here, written a number of years ago, is an abridged account of one of his meetings with Her Majesty, in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

I wish her Gracious Majesty the best of the day, and for tomorrow, the top of the morning.

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

ST walks half way along the lake without seeing anyone else. He assumes he will quickly be notified when the Monarch is ready to receive him. He knows his progress is being monitored by sensors and security devices.

He slows his pace. He is past the turn in the path, and nearly to the head of the lake. He can not be more obviously present as he stands beside the glistening body of water.

ST absently gazes at the ground in search of a skipping stone. The lake is so narrow, he will have to throw along its length. It seems he won’t get to practice his rusty skills, for the earth is totally absent of suitable stones.  Crushed, white pebbles border the lake. All of the strategically placed rocks are too hefty – some even large enough to sit upon. It is apparent the area is regularly raked.

He pushes his shoe through the pristine arrangement, hunting for an errant rock which might have missed a ground keeper’s eye. Not a particle of dust accumulates on his highly-shined toe.

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

ST’s hunt is futile, and he begins to search in earnest around one of the large rocks. Instead of using his toe, he carefully reaches forward to push the polished pebbles out of the way. He even picks some up, hefting them in his palm.

“Is it your intent to stone our fish?”

ST is so startled he drops the pebbles. He has heard not the slightest sound behind him. He turns with much surprise and shock, prepared to rebuke whichever ground keeper or security person he confronts. His angered preparations are for naught.

“They will prove adept at avoidance.”

“Your Majesty.”

“They have survived many a grandchild.”

ST stares at the small woman, and actually feels a twinge of reverence. They have met before, and had conversations – not just two minutes of “chat” during some reception. Even though ST knows all about the smoke and mirrors employed by fame, there is always something at the core to be obscured and reflected.

A small woman in black, glancing at him while squinting into the sun. It is not who she is, but all the things people believe when they meet. For the first time, he realizes what others may be seeing when they come to look at him.

“Skipping stones, Ma’am.”

“A poor choice here.” She turns from the sun.

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

It seems to ST she would like to be alone, but for him to leave in any direction would be acutely apparent. Startled by royalty at the beginning, and offending royalty at the end, is not the way he wants to remember this encounter.

He stands his ground, keeps silent, and watches the small woman’s back, as if he were a faithful yeoman of the guard. Give him a halberd and pike, and he would be the most diligent defender the kingdom has ever seen.

She is staring into the water, which reflects the blue sky and the trailing white clouds. The surface is so calm their reflections sparkle. “Do you know they call this the Queen’s weather?”

“Yes.”

“That seems rather a lot of responsibility to us.” She takes an unhurried look into the sky, then points to a huge swath of blue. “As if we could command such a thing.”

“It’s just as easy to take the credit.”

“Then credit must be taken for the poor weather. To be accorded jurisdiction over fifty percent, demands a responsibility over the other fifty.” She turns and looks directly at ST. “And so much more, beyond our expertise.”

“I understand.”

And although ST does understand, he speaks because he is spoken to. And he does not speak the first words which spring into his head, which would be impertinent.

“You hesitate.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” He has forgotten how perceptive she is.

“Many do.” She is waiting.

“`Heavy is the head that wears the crown’.”

“Our Mr. Shakespeare knew his Royalty.” Her eyes definitely change, ST will swear to it. “Although we suspect he would prefer a correct rendition. `Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown’.”    “Henry IV, Part 2.”

“Are you playing catch-up?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“It is to be commended.”

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

She glances toward the palace, and then looks into the sky. “In the country, we generally tell time by the sun.” She again walks toward the lake, and stands so close her toes seem to touch the water.

“This conversation must never have taken place.”

“Ma’am. My plan is to make my memoirs a tissue of lies.”

Never Say Never With A FINAL Novel Edit

What it is now:

THERE WAS A TIME, OH PILGRIM, WHEN THE STONES WERE NOT SO SMOOTH

                                   THE END

                                    26 03 2022


566pp     165,669 words

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What is was earlier this year:

THERE WAS A TIME, OH PILGRIM, WHEN THE STONES WERE NOT SO SMOOTH

                                              THE END

                                                 07 01 2022

595 pp.     174,838 words

A Change of Lifestyle Thanks to a Computer Hack

As far as I know, I clicked on a link to a site about Optical Illusions.

That froze my computer with a screen-sized warning, telling me that I had been hacked, and infected with a Trojan Horse Virus. The warning purported to be from Microsoft, and gave a phone number to call. There was no other avenue to follow, nothing to click on. I was also warned not to turn off the computer. But, with nothing else to do, I turned off the computer.

Two or three minutes later I turned the computer back on and the frozen screen was still there. Since I was not clicking anything on the screen (being unable to do so anyway), I called the number. I have since found out that 805 phone numbers are a favorite of scams.

At any rate, the situation on the other end of the call sounded exactly like the call centers which phone me for the usual scams. A jumble of background noises and voices that sound as if the people are in a huge warehouse. I questioned the authenticity of the situation with the speaker immediately. The proof he offered was for me to hang up and he would call right back. Which, of course, proved nothing.

So, after a couple of minutes of this, I hung up and I turned off the computer. I phoned my computer shop. I was told I was hacked and to bring in the machine.

And thus, three days later, I have a cleansed machine, information about hacks I did not know, and the news that even my computer expert has been hacked (once by going to a story in The Guardian Newspaper). He also told me that had I waited a day, the screen would have unfrozen on its own, but I would not know if something had been downloaded into my computer.

So, here I am, with everything seemingly fine.

But, in those three days with no internet access, I started reading novels again. I picked out two (yes, this is true) from one of those small “Free Library” box/houses where folk can drop off books they have read, and exchange – all free. I took a JohnleCarré novel (one of my favorite writers) which I probably read twenty years ago [Absolute Friends] and a Joanna Trollope novel, an author I have wanted to read for twenty years [Other People’s Children].

I have read 15 pages a day, of each one, since. I will continue after I post this.

Gotta say, it feels good to be back reading novels. And I will restrict my roaming time in the internet.

Will The Future Be Different If You Turn Over A New Leaf?

Alison Alexandra sometimes thinks of turning over a new leaf. Sometimes at the most traditional of times, like at New Year or her birthday or under a full moon or when the tide is at its highest.

But then she remembers that well into her preteen years she thought the expression to turn over a new leaf meant reaching into the branches of a tree and flipping her wrist (somewhat like Amanda does when cutting cards) and when she found out the flip flip flipping concerned paper pages she was so bored she never did it.

 No, not once.

And anyway, why would she overturn anything in some sort of orderly fashion when she pell-mell turns things over at the very time they seem that they need to be overturned and not a minute or an hour or a full moon or one leaf later?

 That now is indeed now is, indeed, now and as she daily finds out from her windows or cliffs overlooking the ocean; tide and time await no Alison Alexandra. So she will not wait for them.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑