Kafka’s Bicycle

by Valery  Oisteanu (USA)

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Franz was spotted on the Charles Bridge riding backwards toward St. Nicholas Church Place, where he had a small apartment. Prague was getting dark, and the Vltava River swelled to the max. A rain started and he hurried inside the apartment, where the air was quiet and gloomy. His window opened not outside, but inside a nunnery, and he could observe nuns during the evening ritual, going to the toilet, pissing, and often, masturbating lying in their beds. One lost story left by Kafka to his friend, Max Brod, talks about his secret love affair with a Catholic nun who crept into his room and engaged in libations with Franz, sucking him off all through the night, smoking cigarettes in between love sessions. She actually never went into bed with him, to keep her vow of celibacy.

The bicycle with thin wheels hung on the wall, and in the morning, was hobbling forward toward his office, the insurance company where Franz worked. The bicycle would stop from time to time for a breather, on its own, usually in front of a photo shop displaying erotic postcards, and sometimes in front of a beer joint for a quick Pilsen, and a breakfast consisting of an order of kosher Pastrami. He usually took off while eating, because he didn’t want to stick out in the regular crowd as some kind of an observant conservative Jew. In reality, he was an assimilated Germanic Jew, just like some of the geniuses of his time — Freud, Einstein or Bruno Schultz. He was part of a new breed of European intelligentsia, as many of the Jews of his time. He had an old bicycle made in Prague, but with a Jewish squeak. His glasses were also looking just like a bicycle. His writing had the speed and the rhythm of the bicycle wheel. He would take a ride down CharlesBridge to look at the high heeled prostitutes in the park, picking up soldiers. One day, a traveling theater came from France, performing Alfred Jarry’s Ubu. Jarry, himself, was riding a bicycle on a stage, shooting a hunting rifle wildly in the theater. A spectator/mother screamed “Assassin! You could have killed my son!” Jarry stopped and politely bowed. “Guilty as charged. My apologies, Madame. May I offer to make you a spare child?” She did not refuse. But the spare child was now Franz Kafka, and the bicycle, I guess, was left there as a present by Jarry, himself.  Former owners were a mentally retarded poet, a dog catcher, Mein Gott, and a lady of pleasure.

Sitting in an orchestra section at the Prague State Opera, Kafka’s fiancée was dreaming of Berlin. It was the last time they had dinner together on Kudam Strasse in front of the Metamorphosis Cafe. They ordered tea, each according to their own ailments, reproducing a tea ceremony they witnessed in a film documentary. Ziggy (their friend Freud) explained once that the dynamics of a couple is established and perpetrated at the family table, where all the decisions are made and publicly announced. Soon they are joined by Albert (Einstein), Robert (Walser) and Robert (Musil). She daydreamed of a suicide, and was asking herself if Franz will make love to her while she’s dead. Necrophilia or narcissism? An urn full of ashes tied up to a bicycle is floating down the river.

Copyright 2009 by  Valery  Oisteanu

4 Comments

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