With Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka is a hoot! A hooty-owl hoot, Each and every time I’m in Prague, I make certain I look him up. I’ve never actually visited him before this interview, but I’ve looked him up many, many times! I looked him up in the Greater Prague Telephone Directory, the Czech Insurance Brokers Registry, the Bureau of Vital Statistics – Birth Records Section, the city and county marriage registries, Bar Mitzvah records at the Alte Neue Schul. I looked him up in the National Citizens Registry and the Department of Jewish Affairs’ Master Census. At the Prague Central Police Bureau, I looked him up in the Traffic and Parking Violations Section, the Misdemeanor Section, and the Felony, Sedition and Treason Section. I looked him up on the mailing lists of the top three Czech direct marketing firms, the membership lists of all of the amateur writing clubs in Prague, his elementary school, secondary school, and collegiate transcripts, his credit reports and banking records, Special Permits and Licenses, Real Estate records, Old Age Pension Accumulation Reports, his employment records, the last seven years of his National Personal Tax reports, his university entrance exams scores, Military Eligibility and Service Records, the Danube Valley Endangered Species List, his health records, physician visit and hospital stay records, his Library records including collected and uncollected fines, his grocery purchase receipts, personal ads, public lavatory graffiti, animal licenses, telephone billing records, utility bills, loans, savings accounts, installment plans, mortgages, equities portfolios, magazine subscriptions, and many other lists and registries throughout Prague, throughout Czechoslovakia , and Eastern Europe.

My interview appointment was in a small but well stocked restaurant a few minutes away from Kafka’s apartment. Franz arrived precisely dipshit on time, asked for me at the headwaiter’s station, and sat down opposite me. He didn’t say a word. He just sat there and stared at me – like a goddamned sick chicken – just like in his photograph up there. Kafka glanced at the menu and ordered rolls, butter, and mineral water. For my part, I ordered the snails in garlic butter (they refused), stuffed shrimp, paté maison, paté-cakes-bakersman, fried stuffed mushroom caps, artichoke hearts, artichoke brains, bleu, edam, and wensleydale cheeses, vichyssoises, duck-duck bouillon, duck-duck goose, lobster bisque, gazpacho, soup madrilène, soup toreador (sang froid), hunter’s soup, soup du jour, whorehouse salad, hail caesar salad, chef’s and popeye spinach salads, rolls, butter, red wine, white wine, moan an wine, country crackers, backstage ham, cold turkey, tongue-in-cheek, glutton mutton, veal, roast what’s your beef, afghani pizza, ural chicken, sweetbreads, sauerbraten, road hogs, stuffed midget, stuffed shirt, shitta kidneys, chien saigonnaise, celestial tripe, extraterrestrial liver, stuffed quail, stuffed partridge, jinnapaire trees, tobacco smoked pheasant, browned nose, blood sausages, rolls, butter, pork chops, smoked butt, my butt, cornish hens, salmon, rounder, flounder, pike, mackerel, snapper, perch, fish-in-a-barrel, sardines and anchovies, capon, kamchatka hot dogs, lobster, shrimp creole, old crab, crab cakes, mussels in yellow-matter custard, clams, crawl-daddies, oysters, scallops, nun’s habit-rabbit, dead dog’s eyes, hambourgeoises québecoises, squab, rolls, butter, horse biscuits, meadow muffins, lyonaise potatoes, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, grilled blowhards, pickled baked anjou pears, tomatoes, carrots, celery, broccoli, squash, racketball, asparagus, endives, carrots, peas, porridge hot, more peas, porridge cold, beets, more peas-porridge, lima-beans-in-a-pot, nine-days-old gherkin, chick peas, white rice and brown rice, cheapdrunk whiskey, pissbeer, water, Harvey’s milk, soda, soda, soda, and what will you have Stan, rolls, butter, a slice of cowpie à la mode and a large large large bowl of fruit. “Feeling a bit peckish?” inquired this laugh-a-minute Kafka. I quickly retorted: “No, not really. I had a late lunch.” Hah! That sure shut his goddamned beak! You know, I swear to god that waiter could’ve thrown corn or millet around on the floor for Kafka to pick up and I know for a fact that that birdbrain would be just as happy!

When we finished eating around 2 am, I decided I really didn’t like this guy, so just for spite, I told him everything knew about him: everything I’d learned from every single list. That process took until 7:45 am. He finally got up, bleary-eyed and sick looking, and said “I have to leave now. You made me feel like an insect.” “That’s too bad, I’ll buddy,” I replied. “Just because you look like one doesn’t mean you have to feel like one!” When he finally left, I just sat there and laughed my stupid are right off. Then I puked.

… Marie Dressler? What the … ? What do you mean, Marie Dressler? And owls? What about owls? This is the Rabelasian piece, right? Oh Jesus Christ!