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Kafka Has A Beer With His Father

148184

In Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the ‘missing’ diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. There are some estimates that Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote. 

On this day, Kafka spent the afternoon with his father – an unusual event. And he even had a beer – he was not much of a drinker. But Kafka knew his estranged sister, Ottla, was coming to visit. Her parting of months before had been vicious.

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

25 June 2017

We are rarely alone with each other, and the strain was palpable. I wanted to act as normally as possible, but since my usual conversation is what generally infuriates him, that seemed unwise. We read the newspapers, and I managed enough comments about the articles, and elicited his tiresome opinions about the war, and didn’t argue with him too much, that the afternoon – although slow – passed with little rancour. I even had a beer with him, and he showed his surprise. And, I even enjoyed it – but then, I had earned it.

In fact, it may have been the unaccustomed alcohol which lessened the shock of seeing Ottla enter the apartment with mother. Father stood from his chair, the newspapers falling at his feet. “Ottla has an hour before she must catch her train,” said Mother. “I have asked her in for some tea.” Father glared at her an excessively long minute without speaking, managing however to give me an occasional menacing glance. He then abruptly sat again, gathering his papers and holding them in front of his face. “Don’t give her too much,” came his voice from behind the pages. “Too much tea can make a long journey uncomfortable.” I knew that he had already read the pages he held, and I wondered what he was thinking.

About ten minutes passed, and then mother came back and asked if we would like any tea. “Yes,” my father answered, but instead of waiting for it to be brought to him, as is his usual practise, he followed mother into the dining room. And I followed him. Ottla didn’t look up, but he did manage to ask some questions about the farm, and she delivered some cautious replies. She stayed another twenty minutes, then I walked her to the station. It had been mother’s idea to come home, and Ottla had not strongly resisted. I know that she and father will never apologize to each other, but at least they now speak. Once we were out of sight of the house, she gripped my hand and held it until we reached the train. “How can I love that monster?” she asked from the train as it pulled away. “How can you not?” I replied. I hope the noise from the wheels drowned out my words.

 

26 June 1917

Fight and you die. Surrender and you die.

 

27 June 1917

Live and you die.

 

[Image] https:/ /s.inyourpocket.com/gallery/148184.jpg

 

Loser Story From Beer Mat Contest

Willing to do anything in my damn fool endeavour to improve the state of literature in the world, I entered a beer mat contest. The prize in the contest was to have your short story  printed on a beer mat. Oh, there was also money and gift coupons involved, but my main desire was to get printed on a beer mat. Alas, it did not happen.  But here is the story anyway. Have a brew while you read it.

drink a lot

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

Flash Flash Flash

Green flash – nine dash – dark green in dark room, four flash – minus dash – three flash – six dash – eight then tight then eight. The operator shoves his chair back in fear, things happen too quickly to be surprised. Red left light followed by yellow left light glow beside the numbers, reflect the band of a wristwatch. Eight flash two race one plus one point – decimal moving across the board, hunting. Fingers, hand, wristwatch reach for the never used phone.
Second and third red left lights glow off the face of the Operator as his lips open before the mouthpiece.

“Get the General and the Director down here fast.”

“But they’re both asleep.” A thin voice in his ear.

“No time – no time. Hurry.”

His hand replaces the phone, but his eyes never leave the wild numbers before him, doubling and now tripling. Four two flash seven one three dash six six six pause blank plus plus racing decimal three three three three. He takes a fast look around the dim room to see yellow and red lights glimmering from every corner, and the flashing green of disappearing numbers.

His eyes return to his own board. There is a constant series of tiny clicks as the green numbers race from right to left, bottom to top. He moves a sweaty palm across his leg and gapes. Minus minus minus eight zero four three eight zero four three pause eight pause plus pause zero four three three click click click click.

Quadrupling now, simultaneous right to left and bottom to top, green numbers racing click click click click. He notices that right red and right yellow lights have come on, quickly followed by the second set. The sound of the flicking numbers makes him think of chicken claws scratching in gravel. He notices his hands shaking, and dimly remembers one lecture where the odds were given of such a thing happening, the smug humour of his instructor. Six six 44 flash two seven 55 click nine two 77 plus 333 point 2864 flash minus flash minus eight seven three three zero.

“My God, they’re in fives now.”

They were moving like green waves across a dark sea now, sextupling in a rush from the base of the screen. Seven two 2941 flash four one 3384 pause nine zero 7766 click click minus three four 0827.

“More warning lights are on now, Sir.”

“It’s the same with every terminal,” said the Director as he looks over to the General.

“I presume you activated the breaking system.”

“Yes, Sir.” The operator does not look behind him as he answers. “When the triples started. All it did was blow out the switch lights.” His face – like the others – is bathed in a confused glow of green, yellow and red.

“The last warning lights just came on.”

“We can see that!” snapped the Director.

The room has never had so much light in it, yet the green numbers do not seem subdued. Four two 8601, nine five 7350, one one 4499 plus flash four eight 1632 click click.

Green flash, red light and yellow, number after number, 472210 flash 992136 pause 886221 race pause flash green 220011 flash click click click.

“Sounds like hens scratching,” says the General.

The Director took in his breath with a groan. “They’re turning octal,” he said.

The green numbers moved constantly now, covering the whole face of the screen. Click click flash plus 12345678 flash 87654321 pause 20199465 click minus flash 22446688 race click 11335577 green 88990011 click.

“They’re grouping,” said the Operator. “They’re forming patterns.” His voice was no longer scared, but resigned.

The red and yellow warning lights began to shatter, small pops of sound followed by falling glass. Green flickers raced 11223344 slight pause 55667788 flash green wave 99001122 minus flash 33445566 click click

“It’s turning cyclical,” said the Director.

click flash green rush 77889900 pause plus click 00000000 minus flash flash click 00000000 click click 00000000

“What a way to end,” mumbled the General.

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