No one I ask wants to talk about it or so much as acknowledge that it exists, advancing without letup in all directions, the whole heaving, seething mass reaching sometime in the middle of the night the borders of the country where we thought ourselves safe. The next phase includes people jumping — or being thrown — off roofs, out windows, from bridges. Several of the men were found to be blindfolded and to have their hands zip-locked behind their backs. A teenage girl with severe burns on her wrists looked as if she had been hooked up to a car battery prior. I try to comfort myself by remembering that even now, in the painful depths of winter, there is grass surviving under the snow.
The Kafka Museum is only open on wet, gray Thursdays and the anniversaries of select historical upheavals. Guards at the museum are hired in part for their ability to maintain a somber — some might say depressed — expression. They do their utmost to appear haunted by a formless sadness like Kafka was or tortured like him by irrational fears. Unfortunately, the lingering smell of cigarettes on their uniforms and the food stains on their ties and shirt fronts tend to detract from the power of the example. Last month high school students on a class trip posed for a group photo with arms raised in the fascist salute. Nearby was a bust of Kafka looking pensive, as if calculating the weight of the soul when it leaves the body at the moment of death.
I’ve sat with cosmonauts and digital alchemists and watched what wanted to come out come out. Colors became things, first a pink baby stored in a leather case and then a gray wolf slinking across the yard. You ran into the house to get the good camera, but by the time you returned, darkness was surrounding us like police in black Kevlar body armor carrying long guns, the typical plot of a direct-to-video Bruce Willis actioner — blah blah, pow pow. So I pushed myself up from the patio chair and went inside and let night fill in the rest.
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