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Franz Kafka Has A Dream And Then Ponders His Life

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.
*********************************

15 January 1917

Dreamed that I never dream.

“That can’t be true,” said AB, dropping the papers she held. “Everybody dreams.”

 “It never happens to me,” I insisted. “And what’s more, I don’t really believe that anyone else dreams, either.”

“Of course people dream,” said AB, dropping bunches and pots of flowers on the floor. “I dream all the time. I’m full of dreams every night.”

“Even tonight?” I asked, excited, because I had some power, some type of knowledge, although I didn’t know what it was. “Tonight,” she repeated. “Especially tonight,” she said, dropping bowls of snow on the floor. “It is right now, right here.” Her voice was also full of excitement. “I am dreaming about you.”

“Me?” I said. “You can’t be dreaming about me. I’m right here – I’m not in your dream.”

“Not only are you in my dream,” she said, dropping automobiles and tram cars on the floor, “but you’re talking in your usual obstinate way. You’re cross, and you’re silly, and you’re shaking your hands at me.”

“I’m doing no such thing,” I said, wringing my hands and starting to yell.

“You’ve taken your absurd thoughts,” she said, dropping pieces of Prague on the floor, “and you’re forcing me to be part of them.”

“Even if it’s true – all true,” I said, trying to sweep Prague into the river, “it still isn’t me. You’re the one having the dream.”

AB snatched the broom out of my hand, and dropped it to the floor. “Then try to wake me,” she said.

16 January 1917

I have the feeling, that what I really am doing at the office, is committing suicide. And doing a good job.

A Novel That Took Five Years To Write

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

                                   THE END

                                 07 01 2022

595 pp. 174,838 words

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Kafka Slips Out Of Love As He Wends His Way Through January

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.

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10 January 1917

This lull with Felice. We have not experienced such a calm for the past four years.

But there isn’t passion, such as when I walked the streets of Prague just to be near the site of our first brief encounter.

Or, when I awoke filled with the hope of just receiving her letters.

But now, in addition to knowing that she would not like this tiny house, I find that I do not even want her present.

Oh, the tortures we have gone through, the incrimination and the tears. J’accuse. But nowadays, we write to each other so sensibly, and discuss the type of furniture which will fill our rooms.

Alison Alexandra Tastes Humble Food From The Gods

Alison Alexandra does open the door. She is met with a barrage of deep and alluring odours. They are rich and fresh and smooth and piquant, and every one of them inviting.

“Take these.” Emma Alice hands her a small metal ladle and a pottery cup.

‘What do I do with these?”

“Sample.”

“Try them?”

“Yes.” Emma Alice laughs. “Though I mix metaphors – go hog wild.”

Emma Alice removes the lid from the first ceramic urn. It is full of rich white cream. Alison Alexandra dips the ladle, and pours a small portion into her mug.

“Oh, that’s rich.” Alison Alexandra takes a final sip. “Rich and mellow.”

“Creamy?” Emma Alice laughs.

“Yes – exactly.”

“Cream from Jersey cows,” says Emma Alice. “It is always smooth.”

“Will you be selling it?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“We use a lot of it here. It’s a favourite” Emma Alice puts the lid of the urn back in place. “But we will sell the rest. Or trade.”

“Trade?”

“Yes. It’s much easier and more fulfilling.” Emma Alice starts toward another urn. “You have what they want, and they have what you want.”

“So you don’t have to produce what they already can provide.”

“Exactly.” Emma Alice lifts another lid. “Nor they for what we make. Time and expense saved on both sides.” She points into the urn. “Now for something different.”

Alison Alexandra dutifully puts the ladle in and takes a small portion of liquid. She pours it into her mug and puts it to her lips.

“Wowza!”

“What a word.” Emma Alice giggles.

“What a taste,” says Alison Alexandra. “What a difference.” She puckers her lips. “It’s not poison, is it?”

“It serves its purpose.” Emma Alice replaces the lid. “It’s whey – the liquid remaining when you make cheese from milk. It is used in baking, to temper other tastes.”

“But still.” Alison Alexandra gives a discreet cough. “You are pulling a prank.”

“A bit” Emma Alice takes off the lid of an urn from a higher shelf. “It will make this buttermilk seem palatable.”

“Oh, I’ve actually had buttermilk,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Have you?”

“I think it was touted as being good for digestion.” Alison Alexandra stretches to put the ladle into the container. “I did not take it for very long.”

She pours an amount into her mug. She takes a sniff before she takes a sip.

“I’d make the same decision today.”

“The whey didn’t wet your taste buds?

“Not by a drop.”

“Well,” Emma Alice taps the lid back into place. “Enough of the bitter, now for the sweet.”

“I’m going to get a treat?”

“Fine Holstein milk.” Emma Alice paces across the floor. “Straight out of the cow.”

“I like the bulk of a Holstein,” says Alison Alexandra. “They seem more solid with their black and white markings. ‘Moo! Moo! Get outta the way!’”

“The train engine among cattle,” suggests Emma Alice.

“They emote more purpose,” says Alison Alexandra.

“See what you think.” Emma Alice lifts the cover off a large urn.

Alison Alexandra can tell from the rich, warm smell of the milk that a treat is in store. She puts her ladle more deeply than usual, and brings it back as full as full can be. She pours it into her mug without a drop sliding down the side. She sips in the same careful manner. She looks directly at Emma Alice and grins.

“Moo!”

“Taste buds calmed?”

“Yes.”

“Little Miss Muffet trauma removed?”

“Yes.” Alison Alexandra exaggerates a startled look. “Why – were there spiders?”

“There are always spiders,” says Emma Alice. “They foil the insects. But I think none will dangle by your tuffet.”

“Oh, that would be all right.” Alison Alexandra scoots out the last drops of milk with her little finger. “I actually like spiders.”

Kafka Walks The Charles Bridge In Prague And Ponders The World

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in all the lost diary entries that he either ignored or destroyed.

Today, on Facebook, there is a wonderful video from Prague Morning, showing a lamp lighter walking the length of Charles Bridge (in the direction of ‘Kafka’s Castle’), lighting all the lamps. Kafka made this walk hundreds of times (and I managed a few, myself).

The following is the entry I made of Kafka crossing the Bridge, and what he pondered.

Excerpt From Kafka in The Castle

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

29 August 1917

I strolled the Charles Bridge a long time tonight, before coming on to the castle. I have the feeling that the river air helps my lungs.

I also like the city lights reflecting from the racing water. And the occasional boat, lanterns stern and bow.

I have once or twice steered my own boat through the dark, the flickering light dripping through the gloom before me. If I could have reached the sea while it was still dark, I would have tried to do so. But I was younger then. And could breathe deeply.

Fantasy fuelled this escape, from my Moldau island and then along the Elbe, through Dresden, Magdeburg and Hamburg, to the freedom of Helgoland Bay. Further into the North Sea, if I wanted. Perhaps to Iceland, where I could become lost in the snow and white.

All this, from my perch upon the Charles Bridge, as I strolled from side to side, and one end to the other. My last smile reserved for the statues staring down on me.

Their stony expressions etched upon their faces, as are mine to me.

Link to Lamp Lighting story:

https://praguemorning.cz/lamp-lighter-on-the-charles-bridge-to-come-back-after-two-years/

The Storm At Sea Will With Us Be

Some of the ships


Passing Partridge Island,


On their way


To safe harbour,


Have been flying


Storm Flags.


The bad weather is still


Out to sea.


But I can feel it already,


As do the birds and animals.


The crows are agitated,


More so than usual.


Paw, the kitten,


Is too young to


Be let out into sea storms.


I have devised a cage,


With upright wooden slats,


Which


(I am surprised)


He happily jumps in,


So he can take


The salty air.


I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2021 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}

Killing All My Pretty Darlings As The Edit Gathers Steam

I am ripping my five-year-in-the-making novel apart in the edit. I do so love editing. Dialogue, descriptions, witty comments, all get turfed with abandon. They were great fun to write, but they don’t fit the novel now.

Don’t stop me before I kill again. **Mad Cackle**

The following is a brief example of what gets tossed asunder. My characters are visiting a Police Museum.

They leave the first room, cross the hall, and enter the second. Whereas most of the exhibits in the other room dealt with criminals and their crimes, here the displays concentrated on the police force and policing itself.

In the first room there did not seem to be a definite pattern to the displays. Here, things are set out in chronological order. There is some overlap, so not all are exact decade by decade. But most of the display segments do not stray by more than ten years, and are not forced into uniform-sized display footage.

“Which direction do you want to go?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“I’m more interested in the contemporary things.” Amanda points. “Except for that.”

“The Paddy Wagon?”

“Yes. Let’s go see it. Maybe we can get inside.”

“Maybe we’ll get arrested if we get inside.”

“Maybe they’ll take us away.”

“Then we will miss the ship.”

The paddy Wagon is a black box of a vehicle, large and hefty-looking. It is in the middle of the room, so visitors can walk around it. When they approach, they see it is on a raised platform, and each wheel rests on a metal plate.

“That looks to be the real deal,” says Amanda.

“That it does.” Alison Alexandra looks at the license plate. “It was on the streets in 1948.”

“Do you think it has been restored?”

“Well, I’m guessing it was solidly built at the time.” Alison Alexandra gives the back doors a thwack. “After all, it was a mobile prison.”

“Full of miscreants,” says Amanda.

“Yes. And no doubt rowdy.”

“If we get locked in, do you think we’d be rowdy?”

“Goes with the territory.”

“We could sing.”

“Sing and catcall,” says Alison Alexandra.

“You could do one.” Says Amanda, “And I could do the other.”

“Mix it up.”

“yes.”

“That would confuse the coppers.”

“They’d beat their nightsticks on the walls,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Maybe they would beat rhythm to our singing,” says Amanda.

“We could break out in “They call the wind Maria’.”

“’The Black Maria’,” says Amanda.

“I see you understand two part harmony.”

“And if I don’t,” says Amanda, “You could beat out a few bars.”

“That’s criminal.”

“So’s my singing,” says Amanda.

Unbeknownst to them, as they have been chatting, and peering into the windows of the vehicle, a door opened near the display of uniforms on manikins. A stout yet still powerfully-built man steps though. He stands amidst the manikins for a minute, realizing that he has not been heard. He decides he had better announce himself, before he frightens anyone.

“Now you two ladies are not going to be troublemakers, are you?”

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

And here is the edit.

They cross the hall and enter the second room. Here the displays concentrate on the police force and policing itself.

In the first room there was no definite pattern to the displays. Here, things are set in chronological order.

“Which direction do you want to go?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“I’m more interested in contemporary things.” Amanda points. “Except for that.”

“The Paddy Wagon?”

“Yes. Let’s go see it. Maybe we can get inside.”

“Maybe we’ll get arrested if we get inside.”

“Maybe they’ll take us away.”

The Paddy Wagon is a black box of a vehicle, large and hefty. It is in the middle of the room, so visitors can walk around it. When they approach, they see it is on a raised platform, and each wheel rests on a metal plate.

“That looks to be the real deal,” says Amanda.

“It does.” Alison Alexandra looks at the license plate. “It was on the streets in 1948.”

“Do you think it has been restored?”

“I’m guessing it was solidly built at the time.” Alison Alexandra gives the back doors a thwack. “After all, it was a mobile prison.”

“Full of miscreants,” says Amanda.

“And no doubt rowdy.”

“If we get locked in, do you think we’ll be rowdy?”

“Goes with the territory.”

“We could sing.”

“Sing and catcall,” says Alison Alexandra.

“You could do one,”says Amanda, “I could do the other.”

“Mix it up.”

“Yes.”

“That would confuse the coppers.”

“They’d beat their nightsticks on the walls,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Maybe they would beat rhythm to our singing,” says Amanda.

“We could break out in “They call the wind Maria’.”

“’The Black Maria’,” says Amanda.

“I see you understand two part harmony.”

“And if I don’t,” says Amanda, “You could beat out a few bars.”

“That’s criminal.”

“So is my singing,” says Amanda.

 As they were chatting, and peering into the windows of the vehicle, a door opens near the display of uniforms on mannequins. A stout, yet still powerfully-built, man steps through. He stands amidst the mannequins for a minute, realizing he has not been heard. He decides to announce himself, before he frightens anyone.

“Now you two ladies are not going to be troublemakers, are you?”

Alison Alexandra Attends A Party. & Starts A Novel. & Now I Gotta Edit Five Tears Worth

192771-131-00e5aa76

Alison Alexandra had asked her partner, with far more innocence than the result entailed, when people were going to pair off and head for the bedrooms. It was such a lackluster gathering she figured it would take quite a jolt to generate any interest.

And, she had asked her partner. It wasn’t as if she was angling for a tryst.

But, out of the blue – and out of other people’s boredom? – within twenty minutes or so, she had a woman sidle up to her. Drink in hand. Held at a professional tilt, though there was no raised pinky finger. Voice low, though not as low as the woman thought.

“Are you the one who asked if we are going to start to go to bed?”

Alison Alexandra, used to fine drink since her university days away, knew the lady’s finely-tilted glass was but a prop and barely touched. The scent of whiskey came solely from the glass. As for the lady herself, butter would freeze in her mouth.

“Is it making the rounds?”

“Do you want to make the rounds?”

“That was not my intent – no.”

“Then I don’t know if you are successful or not.”  The glass touches teeth. “Your question is making the rounds with alacrity.”

Alison Alexandra likes the word “alacrity”. It sounds like its own action.

“Have there been any answers?”

“Not to me.” There is a fleeting melt of the ice that is not in her glass. “Not that I’ve asked.”

“Have you made a head count?”

“I have not pointed and gone ‘eeny meeny miny moe’ – no.” The woman leans closer to Alison Alexandra, her lips now a conspiratorial distance from an ear. “But I do keep a select few in my vision.”

“Has there been movement?”

“There has been – if not corralling – some sidling up beside, with a ‘nicker’ into an attentive ear.”

“Anything for a pair of knickers, perhaps?”

The woman straightens with enough speed to lose a few drops of her conversational whiskey. She looks at Alison Alexandra in surprise and appreciation. A translucent mask is peeled from her face. She is animated. Her eyes are expectant.

“You are new here.”

“You’re the observer.” Alison Alexandra smiles.

“But I never say what I really see.” The woman finally takes a real drink. “None of us do.”

“But you come up to me – with your observations.”

“In truth -”

The woman stops. She realizes how rarely she tells the truth. She is startled that she is about to do so. She is apprehensive.

“In truth, it is on a dare.”

“Someone has dared you to ask me?”

“Actually, a number of people have put money in a pot to see if this will happen.”

“To approach me?”

“Yes.”

“How much am I worth?”

The woman raises her glass and laughs. “A bottle of Scotch.”

“Good Scotch?”

“Not really.” The woman is apologetic, yet she laughs. “It’s not that caliber of party.”

Alison Alexandra can see a friendship in the offing. So much more important than a partner for the night.

She takes the glass from the unprotesting woman and has a drink.

“Better than this?”

“Not even as good as.”

“Then no one is going to get me out of my knickers.” This does not stop Alison Alexandra from taking another drink. She hands the glass back to the woman. “There. I’ve had my limit.”

“That surely won’t get you into bed.”

“I’ve been looking around.” Alison Alexandra looks slowly around again. “Not even a bottle will accomplish that.”

The woman looks at her glass. It is still nearly full. She takes a deep drink.

“I am not so pure.”

“Oh – purity has nothing to do with it.” Alison Alexandra does take a bit of care with her next sentence. “But I am very picky.”

(image)  https://cdn.britannica.com/300×500/71/192771-131-00E5AA76.jpg

Kafka Leaves A Home He Never Owned

In my Kafka In The Castle I fill in all the diary entries that Kafka leaves bare (or destroyed),. For about a year, he used the tiny house his sister rented up in the Prague Castle on The Golden Lane. She rented it solely to have trysts with her lover. Kafka never actually stayed the night, but he went there often, and wrote a whole book of short stories while he was there. But, on this late summer night, I imagine how he left it for the last time

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

30 August 1917

I’ll just leave the newspapers. They will no doubt be appreciated as fuel for the next winter. My manuscripts though – regardless of the temptation – I’ll take. The pile on the table, looming behind the lamp, I’ll take tonight. The rest tomorrow. Max has offered to carry things – no doubt thinking that what he carries, I can not burn – and has arranged to be here shortly.

What I most want to take away with me, I can’t. The comfort. The view of the Stag Moat. The Castle walls. The world held suspended beyond the massive gates. The silence. Perhaps peace – which can be many things – can also be nothing more than silence. And here is Max at my open door. His worried smile precedes him into my peaceful room.

31 August 1917

The last night of the month. My last night in this tiny house. My last trek along the Alchemist’s Lane as someone who belongs. And soon, my last walk down the Castle steps. Which Max so dutifully counted. And after Max conveys me to the specialist, I imagine I’ll embark on the last part of my life. The power of the Alchemist’s Lane is far from spent, if one truly sees what I have turned into. There could have been no substance so base as myself to put beneath the test of smoking acid. Burning with precision into my lungs.

Since Max helped last night, there is not much for me to carry away. I might indeed be taking as little as I brought that first day. Technically, I must leave by mid-night, and I plan to walk out the door at that precise minute, turning the key in the lock at the last strokes of the cathedral bell. Of course, I don’t have to do this – no one will appear to check on me. But, I enjoy technicalities. I skirt through life on both the vaguest, and the most precise, of technicalities. After all, I am a well-trained lawyer. Like a weasel well-versed in the ways of the earth.

But sadly, this burrow must be vacated. And by its exposed front entrance, for I never had the luxury of a back escape route. But then – is that what is now being offered me? Opened for me? Not the Alchemist’s Lane, which will lead me to the city. Between the walls, through the courtyards, down the steps, and beyond the many gates. But the Tuberculous Lane, which may meander in many directions, stop at many doors, but finally – eventually – lead to the deep decent into a darkened pit. The only thing of me remaining above to be my name, carved in stone. The Herr Doktor. Not an unexpected fate. But not a fate I wish to happen too soon.

Not, at any rate, as soon as my fate to walk out that door, my few parcels and papers in hand. A lingering look upon the table, the lamp, the stove. I think I will say good bye. I think I may even say thank-you. And then, I will take a great deal of time to find my key. It will be in the last pocket I search. And I’ll close the door slowly. With care. And the key in the lock will make a noise I shall never forget.

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