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Going Up And Down In Montréal

 

fountain-titled-female

(Place Ville Marie)

At one time I shared a whole house with four other people. Two were in the process of becoming lawyers. I noted that most of their stories did not contain much whimsy. The following is a story one of the fellows told us. I, of course, make up the dialogue but, though fiction, it is based on his facts.

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

“I don’t mean to stare – I apologise. I’m not in the habit of doing this, but you remind me of someone. That has to sound like a line – the look on your face. But I’m not after ….

“Have you ever been in the train station at Place Ville Marie in Montréal? The escalators that come up by the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.  I had a lot of travel to get to work when I lived in Montréal, and made train and bus connection.

“No, thanks. I don’t want another.

“One morning – a Thursday – as I was going up the escalator, I saw a girl coming down from the street. She had short red hair – that’s the main reason I’ve been staring – and a green skirt with a white blouse. Coming down that escalator, with that wide space between us. She was looking at me the way I was looking at her – interest and excitement and whatever potential that leads to. We stared into each others eyes as we came level, and craned to look back as we passed.

“I guess I’ll have another of the same, after all.

“That was stupid enough. I should have jumped that barrier, or at least gone down after her. But I had a job, and was young, and things like that just don’t happen.

“Next morning, even though I was looking for her, and hoping so much, I couldn’t have been more shocked by a ghost when I saw that red hair. She had that same look – of shock.

“God, to be so unsure of what to do, and stupid to the ways of the world, and even to have that stabbing thought that it can happen again tomorrow. We stared and stared, you could almost feel electricity between us. At the top I waited as long as I dared, hoping she would come up. I had to get my bus, and just jumped it as it was pulling away.

“That was a Friday. I sweated through the weekend, full of grand plans about telling her to wait, or to come up to me, or yelling my phone number. She wasn’t there, of course, on Monday or any other day. I looked the rest of the summer, then it was back to university.

“I mean, to be given one chance like that and waste it. But two. I’ve never forgotten, even now with a wife and kids, I wonder what might have been. It can make my hands shake, seeing someone like you, and with too much drink in me.”

Hitler, Kafka, And Me

arton3192

I owe my life to Hitler, thanks to the Second World War, and my Canadian soldier father meeting my British War Bride mother.

I imagine it is too crass to say I have a soft spot for Hitler. I’ve studied his personal history, and know something of the man who was (admittedly) only a small part of the monster.

If he had been able to sell more of his paintings . . . who knows what might have happened?

And, I even managed to track down a connection between Hitler and Franz Kafka. This possible meeting  goaded me to write a stand-alone short story about Kafka, in addition to my novel about his missing diaries.  In the short story Kafka is implored to join the Austrian army in WW I so he can kill ” . . . the man who will kill your sisters.”)

In reality, before Hitler came to power, he lived in Munich. In the apartment building where Hitler lived, a cousin of Kafka’s was also a resident.  Nothing is known as to whether the monster met the cousin. Or if Franz visited his cousin. Or if Franz Kafka met Adolf Hitler.

But it would be interesting, a challenge – and even fun – to have these two men (virtual teetotallers and vegetarians both) meet in a coffee house. Or an Art Gallery.

Kafka saw monsters everywhere he looked. Why not give him a real one?

DE

(image)http://oeuvresouvertes.net/IMG/arton3192.png

The Amazing Grace Of Old Time Religion

tablets

So it has come to this.

A mindless voice with mindless tune singing softly in the dark.

My friend, I promise you,  on such a night even the sages are locked babbling in their rooms.

You think me mad?

“Well, my boyze.” (I talk in my best W.C. Fields voice).

“Well, my boyze. I had a hen who could lay a Golden Calf. And this weird guy – Moses was his name – yass. This Mo-zaz threw these stone tablets – threw, I say – these stone tablets on my hen, and killed her.

Feathers everywhere.

And I asked him – I said to him – hey, Mo-zaz, why did you flatten my hen and make the feathers fly?

And he said to me – can you believe this – he said to me:

‘W. C., I was damn hungry.’

And I knew –  my little chickadee, my little bottom-soft dumpling –   I knew from that moment, that the man was not sincere.”

DE

(image) http://www.barcelonafootballblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/tablets.jpg

Kafka And Fame

(Charles University – Prague)

There are rumours (none of them started by me) that Kafka had direct dealings with Einstein, Joyce, and even Hitler.

The first two are more than possible. Einstein taught at Charles University when Kafka was a student there. Joyce was in Prague when Kafka lived there. It is quite probable they travelled in the same literary circles. Went to the same coffee houses (which Kafka frequented). Attended the same readings, or literary events, or even book stores.

The Hitler connection is far more tenuous, but based on fact. Hitler was treated, in Munich, by a doctor who had dealt with Kafka’s family in Prague. And Kafka did visit Munich in the right time frame. Kafka did, after all, predict Hitler’s world as much as he did the Communists.

Although I have, in my novel about Kafka,  “filled in” his missing diaries, I never give him such speculative encounters – tempting though it was. All events in my Kafka novel are based on detailed research from his own writings, writings of his friends, and multiple biographies.

I have written one short story that is totally speculative, where Kafka is encouraged to meet “the Austrian with the tiny mustache”, so as to kill him and stop an impending terrible war. And save his sisters from the camps.  But that doesn’t  happen in my fiction, either.

DE

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