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accident

After A God Awful Crash, The Lemonade Stopped Flowing

Two or three days ago, I heard incessant chanting coming from children two houses down the hill.

Other than it was obvious repetition, I could not figure out that the words were. It took a day and a half for me to decipher the sing-song serenade:: “Get your ice cold lemonade here!” And they beefed up ‘here’ – they said ‘her-are”. Maybe that is what confused me.

This morning, for the first time, I actually saw some folk buying their lemonade. One fellow even crossed the street for it.

But then, in the early afternoon, a God-Awful crash came through my open window. The chanting stopped in mid sentence. And I experienced what I had actually never experienced before.

Dead silence.

It was so silent, it made an impression. There seemed to be neither bird nor wind in the trees nor cars passing. The silence stretched for long seconds. And then, a yell of anguish.

“What happened?

“How did that happen?”

“What happened?”

And I did not know what happened (nor do I) but my guess is that whatever glass bowl or container. (which I assume was reasonably large). ended up on the sidewalk. In many pieces, and awash in lemonade.

Within two minutes, two mothers were out there with brooms and rags. One of them went out into the street and yelled “No, it didn’t reach here.”

For about ten minutes there was sweeping and mopping and children picking up pieces and putting them (I assume) into some garbage container.

The mothers returned to their houses.

There has been no chanting since.

A Police Officer Called Me “Dear” This Afternoon

I wonder how she knew.

I was walking in this mainly residential neighbourhood to go to the bank, when I came to a line of stopped cars. A long line. Not too much untoward happens on these streets, and I was wondering what was the cause. I came to the treed boulevard that crosses the street. There were the flashing lights of two police cars , and a long tow truck with a broad platform upon which they haul damaged cars.

And there were two damaged cars.

These are generally slow streets and placid streets and it is an anomaly to me that one car dashed out to crash into another. Or that the other could have been putting on the speed.

Regardless, the whole intersection was blocked by two dented and damaged cars, two police cruisers, and one big tow truck winching one of the cars onto its broad platform.

And a female police officer directing traffic.

There seemed to be no sensible route for me to take

I was the only pedestrian and she looked over at me and said:

“Where do you want to go, Dear?”

And I did not mean my response to to be funny, and I’m not certain that she took it as funny, but she gave a hearty laugh when I said that I wanted to go “straight”.

And she kept chuckling as she looked over the scene and said “I guess if you want to go straight you’re going to have to get around this somehow.”

Which seemed true to me, too.

So I watched for cars though none were moving, and took a wide berth around the big tow truck, and jumped a little at the grind and snap of some metal, and went on my way.

When I returned after the bank, the whole scene was empty.

Kafka Never Slept In This Prague Hotel

hotel-century-old-town

When I visited Prague to research my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I went to many of the places that were part of  Kafka’s life. One such place – the small house where he wrote a whole book of short stories – became a setting for a third of my novel.

However,the building where he was employed, The Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia in Prague, I only saw at a distance across a Square. It was not a happy place for Kafka, though he was very successful at his employ, and rose to an administrative position of importance. It was not really much of a setting for my novel.

 

That building is now a fancy hotel, and Kafka’s office is a room for rent. It is even designated The Franz Kafka room, and contains mementos. It is where I plan to stay when next I visit. I hope there is not a long list of folk wishing to spend the night there, too. It even includes a restaurant named after his fiancée, Felice.

 

Following is some information about the hotel, and some photos of the room.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The hotel is situated in the heart of Prague, next to the Old Town Square, where the famous medieval astronomical clock is mounted on the southern wall of the Old Town City Hall. The Neo-Baroque building was built in the 19th century by Alfonse Wertmuller, a famous architect in Prague. It was formerly the office of the Workers’ Accident Insurance of Kingdom of Bohemia, where Franz Kafka worked as an insurance clerk from 1908 to 1922. His spirit can still be felt in the hotel, as his bronze bust welcomes guests in the lobby in front of the majestic stairs.
hotel-century-old-town
room
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In addition, this is one of the few diary entries I wrote, set in his office building,

 
Excerpt from Kafka In The Castle

16 February 1917

There was a commotion at the office today. It was late morning, and from far below, coming up the stairwell, I could hear a voice bellowing: “Doktor Kafka. Doktor Kafka.” It was a terrible voice, full of blood and darkness.

I got from my desk and went to the door. There were other voices, trying to calm, saying: “He can’t be disturbed.” But the voice was louder, more horrible, close in the corridor.  “Doktor Kafka – for the love of God.”   My secretary wanted me to stay inside, hoped the man would just move along the corridor until the police were summoned.

But – I was curious; the man had my name, and his voice was … terrified.

I opened the door and stood in front of it.  “I’m Kafka,” I said. The man lunged at me, and went to his knees.  “Doktor Kafka?” he said.  “Yes, I’m Kafka.” He reached out, grabbing for my hand.  “Jesus, Jesus, for the love of Jesus – they say that you’ll help me.”

He was a heavy man, and looked as if he had the strength to pull off doors, yet the tears burst from his eyes.  “I can get no work. I fell from a bridge, and my back is twisted and in pain.” He slumped against the wall, looking at my eyes.  “I have a family, Doktor Kafka. A baby not a year old.”  “You were working on this bridge?” I asked.  “Yes.” His voice slid down his throat. “I was helping repair the surface.”  “Then you deserve your insurance. Why can’t you get it?”

He straightened up, and tried to stand. “I have to fill in papers; the doctor can see no wounds; the foreman said I drank; because my brother is a thief, I am not to be trusted.” I held out my hand, and he slowly stood. “I’m telling you the truth, Doktor Kafka.”

“If that is so,” I said, “you’ll get the money due you.”  “I’m so tired,” he said.

I gave instructions to those standing around – no other work was to be done until this man’s case was decided. I took him to my office, where he sat.

He sat – practically without a word – for five hours. I summoned a prominent doctor to look at him. The doctor prodded, and the man screamed. Officials from his village were telephoned. I helped him with the details on the forms. His truth was in his pain. He left our stony building with money in his hand, and his worth restored.

The people who assisted me had smiles on their faces.

A man had needed their help.

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