THE CRAZY TRIAL OF FRANZ KAFKA

FIRST DAY

JUDGE: 

Franz Kafka, you are accused of playing dead in order to steal all the gold watches from the city of Prague. How do you plead: guilty or innocent?

KAFKA: 

Innocent, your Honor.

JUDGE: 

Well, in that case, you can leave.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object!

JUDGE: 

It’s okay. Stay. But tell me, how did you come up with that insane plan?

KAFKA: 

I just wanted to know the time, your Honor.

JUDGE: 

So you didn’t steal gold watches because of their economic value?

KAFKA: 

Oh no, your Honor! Why would I want a watch if it wasn’t to know the time?

JUDGE: 

But we are not talking about a single watch. We talk about all the watches in the city. Moreover, all the gold watches.

KAFKA: 

I wanted to check the time of all the watches because I needed to know the exact time. And the most reliable watches are the gold ones.

JUDGE: 

Why did you need to know the exact time?

KAFKA: 

It was a matter of life or death. I can’t give more details.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object! He’s lying, your Honor. When the events occurred, he was playing dead. Therefore, it couldn’t be a matter of life or death.

JUDGE: 

Why not?

PROSECUTOR: 

Well … I don’t know how to explain it. But it’s obvious.

JUDGE: 

The prosecution’s argument looks sound, Mr. Kafka. Why don’t you confess at once and save us this absurd interrogation?

KAFKA: 

All right, your Honor. I wanted to know the exact time because … I had a doctor’s appointment.

JUDGE: 

Did you feel sick?

KAFKA: 

I didn’t, your Honor. But I had a doctor’s appointment anyway.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object!

JUDGE: 

I’ll sustain the objection.

KAFKA: 

Okay, I confess. I felt bad.

JUDGE: 

Where did it hurt?

KAFKA: 

In my armpits.

JUDGE: 

And to know the time, you couldn’t think of anything other than stealing all the gold watches of the city?

KAFKA: 

What alternative did I have?

JUDGE: 

You could ask for the time!

KAFKA: 

Made me ashamed to ask.

PROSECUTOR: 

He’s lying, your honor. The defendant is not a shameful man. There are witnesses who will declare to have seen him throw himself into the arms of a complete stranger.

JUDGE: 

Is that true, Mr. Kafka?

KAFKA: 

I’ve got the impression that I am condemned beforehand, so what difference does it make what I can say?

JUDGE: 

Well, even if you are condemned beforehand, an unforeseen event can always happen.

KAFKA: 

What kind of unforeseen event?

JUDGE: 

I don’t know… Maybe the prosecutor goes crazy!

KAFKA: 

The prosecutor is already crazy and I don’t see that favor me at all. Quite the contrary.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object, your Honor. The defendant just called me crazy.

JUDGE: 

I’ll sustain the objection. You can’t call the prosecutor crazy.

KAFKA: 

Okay, he’s not crazy, he’s just insane.

JUDGE: 

Let’s go back to the subject of this trial. By the way, what is the subject of this trial? I have forgotten it completely.

PROSECUTOR: 

The defendant stole all the watches to pretend to be dead.

JUDGE: 

Oh, yes, I remember. Why did you fake to be dead?

KAFKA: 

I wanted to collect life insurance.

JUDGE: 

Didn’t you want the watches?

KAFKA: 

That was just a diversion. What I really wanted was to pluck my eyebrows.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object, your Honor! The defendant mocks the court!

JUDGE: 

I’ll sustain the objection. Stop making fun of this court or I will be forced to sanction you.

KAFKA: 

What’s the difference? This trial is a farce.

JUDGE: 

If it’s a farce, why do you take the trouble to defend yourself?

KAFKA: 

I don’t have anything better to do.

JUDGE: 

It’s okay. Let’s continue with the interrogation. Where were you the night in question?

KAFKA: 

I was alone at home.

JUDGE: 

Can someone corroborate it?

KAFKA: 

Of course. Everyone who accompanied me that night.

JUDGE: 

Didn’t you just said you were alone?

KAFKA: 

That doesn’t mean that I was not accompanied.

JUDGE: 

Clarify this point.

KAFKA: 

Yes, your Honor. You see, I have some pots on my balcony.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object, your Honor. Pots are not reliable witnesses.

JUDGE: 

I’ll sustain the objection.

KAFKA: 

Your Honor, my armpits are very painful. Could I squat?

JUDGE: 

Any objection from the prosecutor?

PROSECUTOR: 

Not at all, your Honor.

KAFKA: 

Thanks. Now I’m much better.

JUDGE: 

You’re a weird guy, you know?

KAFKA: 

But that does not make me guilty.

JUDGE: 

No, but it makes you suspicious.

 KAFKA: 

And what about the principle of presumption of innocence?

JUDGE: 

Presumption of what?

KAFKA: 

An accused person is innocent until proven guilty. The law says it.

JUDGE: 

Oh, the law. The law says so many things.

PROSECUTOR: 

Your Honor, we are deviating from the subject.

JUDGE: 

Well, let’s get back to the subject. Remind me the subject, will you?

PROSECUTOR: 

The subject is that this man was dead and was posing as alive.

JUDGE: 

That is a serious accusation. Is that true, Mr. Kafka?

KAFKA: 

To a certain extent.

JUDGE: 

To what extent?

KAFKA: 

I don’t know exactly. I only know that there is something that doesn’t fit. It’s just an impression.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object, your Honor. The defendant can’t base the defense on mere impressions.

JUDGE: 

I’ll sustain the objection. We need facts, Mr. Kafka. Facts.

KAFKA: 

Is it a fact or is it not a fact that the prosecutor is insane?

PROSECUTOR: 

I object!

JUDGE: 

Don’t be so sensitive. He has not said that you were crazy. He said you were insane.

PROSECUTOR: 

I withdraw the objection.

JUDGE: 

You object too much. Stop objecting and do something useful. Why are not you going to clean the toilets?

PROSECUTOR: 

I refuse! The toilets have nothing to do with this matter.

JUDGE: 

That’s true. Let’s go back to the matter. Remind me…

PROSECUTOR: 

The defendant was in a coffin full of gold watches.

JUDGE: 

Oh, yes, I remember. What were you doing in a coffin?

KAFKA: 

What do you do when you’re in a coffin?

JUDGE: 

I don’t know. Prosecutor, what do people do when they are in a coffin?

PROSECUTOR: 

They don’t do anything because they are dead.

JUDGE: 

Does it imply that you were dead, Mr. Kafka?

KAFKA: 

Of course I was dead. It’s what I’m trying to say since I entered this room.

JUDGE: 

But is it not equally true that you are now alive?

KAFKA: 

Now I’m alive. But previously I was dead.

JUDGE: 

What did you die of?

KAFKA: 

I already told you. My armpits.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object!

JUDGE: 

I’ll sustain the objection. No one dies from a pain in the armpits.

KAFKA: 

But what if that pain has spread to the heart?

PROSECUTOR: 

I object!

JUDGE: 

Shut up! If you continue to object, I will be forced to expel you from the room.

PROSECUTOR: 

Yes, your Honor.

JUDGE: 

And now tell me, Mr. Kafka: Was the pain in the armpit the cause of your death?

KAFKA: 

That’s right, your Honor.

JUDGE: 

Well, that clarifies everything.

PROSECUTOR: 

If I could object, I would do it.

JUDGE: 

You don’t bother! Don’t stick your nose in where it’s not wanted.

PROSECUTOR: 

But if your Honor pleases…

JUDGE: 

Shut up! My Honor doesn’t please! What are you accusing this man? Answer!

PROSECUTOR: 

You just ordered me to shut up.

JUDGE: 

That was before. Now I order you to speak. What do you have against this man?

PROSECUTOR: 

Well … nothing concrete. But there is something about him I don’t trust.

KAFKA: 

You’ve already heard the prosecutor, Mr. Kafka. The accusation is serious. What do you have to say in your defense?

KAFKA: 

That the prosecutor is out of his senses.

JUDGE: 

And you Prosecutor, what do you have to say to that?

PROSECUTOR: 

That is true, your Honor. But that does not stop the defendant from being guilty.

JUDGE: 

It’s okay. I’m getting a headache. We’ll continue the trial tomorrow. Court is adjourned.

This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to raise funds for children in need. So if you want to make a donation in exchange for this story, click on this link to UNICEF. I really appreciate it!

SECOND DAY

JUDGE: 

The trial is resumed. Franz Kafka: you are accused of sticking your head in a hornet’s nest. Do you have something to claim?

KAFKA: 

I wanted to kill me.

JUDGE: 

Do you know that killing yourself is punishable by law? 

KAFKA: 

I know, but my canary escaped from the cage.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object, your Honor! I don’t see what this has to do with this case. In addition, the defendant doesn’t have a canary.

KAFKA: 

I don’t have a canary because he escaped from the cage!

PROSECUTOR: 

He doesn’t have a cage either!

KAFKA: 

The canary took the cage with him, your Honor!

JUDGE: 

What do you have to say to that, Mr. Prosecutor?

PROSECUTOR: 

That is irrelevant to the matter that concerns us.

JUDGE: 

What are you referring to?

PROSECUTOR: 

The defendant disturbed the wasps.

JUDGE: 

Oh, yes, the wasps! Did you stick the head in the hornet’s nest or you didn’t? That’s the question. 

KAFKA: 

Yes, but my canary …

PROSECUTOR: 

I object, your Honor. He’s talking about the canary again.

JUDGE: 

Behave yourself, Mr. Kafka! Stop talking about the canary!

KAFKA: 

What difference does it make whether I talk of this or that if I am sentenced beforehand?

JUDGE: 

You’re right about that.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object! The defendant is not right!

JUDGE: 

Sustained. Mr. Kafka, from now on try to be right.

KAFKA: 

I’ll try, your Honor. But the Prosecutor accuses me of a crime that I have not committed.

JUDGE: 

Is that true, Mr. Prosecutor?

PROSECUTOR: 

Yes…. Well … But the defendant was in a position to commit it. Only the old woman prevented it.

KAFKA: 

It’s false, your Honor. The old woman encouraged me to do it.

JUDGE: 

Let the old woman appear before the Court.

The Old Woman enters the courtroom and occupies the witness stand.

JUDGE: 

Are you the old woman?

OLD WOMAN: 

Yes, sir.

JUDGE: 

Well, tell us what happened.

OLD WOMAN: 

We sail for a month and three days. My husband got dizzy. But then we saw the Statue of Liberty and we knew we had arrived. We disembarked and there was our son David waiting for us with an umbrella in his hand. It was raining.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object, your Honor. That’s irrelevant.

JUDGE: 

Overruled. Continue, old woman.

OLD WOMAN: 

Our son took us to his apartment, a sordid and dark place full of hair bands.

JUDGE: 

What was your son doing with those hair bands?

OLD WOMAN: 

He made bows. For each bow they gave him half a penny; and for every half penny, a whole penny.

JUDGE: 

Continue.

OLD WOMAN: 

My husband and I also started making bows. But soon we noticed that it was more economical not to do them.

JUDGE: 

How is that possible?

OLD WOMAN: 

Each band cost two pennies. We lost money making bows. So we stopped making bows and things started to go better.

JUDGE: 

And your son?

OLD WOMAN: 

He kept making bows. He is very stubborn.

JUDGE: 

Continue.

OLD WOMAN: 

One afternoon my husband and I were not making bows when suddenly we heard a gunshot.

JUDGE: 

What kind of shot?

OLD WOMAN: 

Bang!

JUDGE: 

Continue.

OLD WOMAN: 

As we had nothing to do, we left to the landing to see what had happened. And that’s where we found him.

JUDGE: 

Whom?

OLD WOMAN: 

Mr. Proshnik, of course. Who are we talking about?

JUDGE: 

I don’t know. It’s you who must know…

PROSECUTOR: 

Your Honor, if the Court please…

JUDGE: 

What does the prosecutor want now? 

PROSECUTOR: 

We were talking about Mr. Kafka.

JUDGE: 

No matter. Old woman, finish explaining your story. I want to know what happened to Mr. Proshnik.

OLD WOMAN: 

He was dead.

JUDGE: 

What a fatality! He died of the shot, I guess. 

OLD WOMAN: 

A natural death. 

JUDGE: 

And what about the shot?

OLD WOMAN: 

It was a missed shot. Mr. Proshnik died because of the shock. 

JUDGE: 

The shot, the shock…, what’s the difference? It was a murder!

OLD WOMAN: 

A suicide.

JUDGE: 

Did he fire the shot?

OLD WOMAN: 

Yes, but he missed it. And then he suffered a heart attack.

JUDGE: 

So it was a suicide by heart attack. And wasn’t he afraid of the consequences that that act could bring him?

OLD WOMAN: 

He was tired of making bows.

JUDGE: 

Did he also make bows?

OLD WOMAN: 

Everybody makes bows in that tenement, sir.

JUDGE: 

And why are they so fond of bows?

OLD WOMAN: 

It’s not a hobby, sir. It’s a way to make a living.

JUDGE: 

I understand. And what happened next?

OLD WOMAN: 

They put him in a coffin and took him to the cemetery.

JUDGE: 

With what purpose?

OLD WOMAN: 

I don’t know. I only know that they took him away and we never saw him again. My son was very affected. We tried to comfort him but he started making bows.

PROSECUTOR: 

With all due respect: Where does this lead us?

JUDGE: 

Okay, the witness can retire. Let’s go back to the defendant. Mr. Kafka, you’ve already heard the old woman. Do you have something to claim?

KAFKA: 

It’s a case similar to mine, only that happened in America and this case has happened here.

JUDGE: 

What case?

KAFKA: 

The case I am accused of.

JUDGE: 

Oh, yes, yes, the case. Mr. Prosecutor, remind us the case.

PROSECUTOR: 

The case is that the defendant stuck his head in a hornets’ nest with the consequent inconvenience to the wasps.

KAFKA: 

It was not my intention to disturb the wasps, your Honor, I just wanted to end my life.

JUDGE: 

Were you also tired of making bows?

KAFKA: 

Well, I guess it can be said like that.

JUDGE: 

It’s okay. We’ll continue the trial tomorrow. Court is adjourned.

This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to raise funds for children in need. So if you want to make a donation in exchange for this story, click on this link to UNICEF. I really appreciate it!

THIRD DAY

JUDGE: 

Mr. Kafka, you are accused of playing dead …

PROSECUTOR: 

I object, your Honor. The defendant didn’t play dead: he was dead.

JUDGE: 

And how is he now alive?

PROSECUTOR: To clarify that enigma is the intention of this hearing, your Honor.

JUDGE: 

All right. Mr. Kafka, how is it that you are alive?

KAFKA: 

Because I failed in my attempt to kill myself.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object! He didn’t fail, your Honor. The defendant tries to make us look like fools.

JUDGE: 

Is that true, Mr. Kafka?

KAFKA: 

What does it matter what I say? This trial is a farce.

JUDGE: 

Farce or not farce, you can always claim something in your favor. For example, were you in your right mind?

KAFKA: 

Of course.

JUDGE: 

Do you see? That is a mitigating factor.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object, your Honor. That’s an aggravating factor.

JUDGE:

In any case, it favors him.

KAFKA: 

Your Honor, allow me to say that it’s the Prosecutor who is not in his right mind. What is more, I doubt he has a mind at all.

JUDGE: 

What do you have to say to that, Mr. Prosecutor?

PROSECUTOR: 

That it’s not me who is being judged!

KAFKA: 

Do you see, your Honor? He doesn’t deny it. I’m being accused by a madman! I ask that the psychiatrist appear.

JUDGE: 

The proposal is accepted.

The psychiatrist enters the courtroom and occupies the witness stand.

JUDGE: 

Are you a psychiatrist?

PSYCHIATRIST: 

No. I mean yes!

JUDGE: 

That’s a yes or a no?

PSYCHIATRIST: 

Yes, yes. Forgive me, your eminence. It happens that sometimes I don’t know what I am saying. The dividing line between lucidity and insanity is so thin!

PROSECUTOR: 

If your Honor pleases, I have the impression that this psychiatrist has crossed the line.

JUDGE: 

Have you crossed the line, psychiatrist?

PSYCHIATRIST: 

Does the answer have to be necessarily a yes or a no? As I was saying, the line is very thin. The other day, without going any further, I threw myself into the pond. Do you know why? Me neither. I had the urge to do it, simply.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object. The witness rambles.

JUDGE: 

Sustained! Mr. Psychiatrist, stop rambling and go to the point.

PSYCHIATRIST: 

Yes, your excellency. I’m going to the point. The point is that the woman didn’t hang up the clothes correctly.

JUDGE: 

What woman? What clothes?

PSYCHIATRIST: 

The woman who helps me in the housework. She hung the laundry in the sun, but didn’t use clothespins and all the clothes ended up scattered around Prague. Even a sock came to Karlovy Vary

PROSECUTOR: 

I object! He rambles!

JUDGE: 

Since he has begun, let’s let him finish his story.

PSYCHIATRIST: 

I had to go through the city in search of my clothes. You don’t know how ashamed I was!

JUDGE: 

I can imagine.

PSYCHIATRIST: 

On Nerudova Street I found a man who was wearing my pants. I told him: “Those pants belong to me”. “Prove it” he told me. And how was I to prove it? Do you understand my plight, your Majesty?

JUDGE: 

Had you not sewn a label with your name?

PSYCHIATRIST: 

I do that with the jacket, because sometimes I take it off in public. But with the pants … I never take my pants off in public.

JUDGE: 

It’s a shame. If you would take off your pants in public from time to time you would not forget to sew them a label with your name.

PSYCHIATRIST: 

I appreciate the advice. If you allow me, I’ll start right now to follow it.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object! The witness is taking off his pants in court! That is disrespect!

JUDGE: 

Don’t be fussy, Mr. Prosecutor. You can also take off your pants if you wish.

PROSECUTOR: 

I wear cap and gown, your Honor.

JUDGE: 

And under the cap and gown?

PROSECUTOR: 

Nothing at all.

JUDGE: 

Are you naked?!

PROSECUTOR: 

But your Honor …

JUDGE: 

One more “but” and you will be in contempt! If you appear naked in court, the witness has the right to take off his pants. And now, let the psychiatrist continue with his story. Did you manage to recover your clothes?

PSYCHIATRIST: 

Very few, your excellence. Some shirt, some socks, some underwear, the pajamas…

JUDGE: 

Ah, the pajamas! Thank goodness! The pajamas is the most important piece of clothing! If I lost my pajamas, I couldn’t sleep: so attached I am to my pajamas! And although it’s very worn and patched, I wouldn’t sleep in any other pajamas. My wife has given me dozens of pajamas, but none of them works. I don’t associate them with my dreaming, and consequently I can’t sleep a wink with any other pajamas other than the pajamas in which I have slept since I was a five-year-old. Do you love your pajamas, Mr. Kafka?

KAFKA: 

Who cares what I may say since this trial is rigged?!

JUDGE: 

Let’s leave him alone. He is in a bad mood because he knows he is condemned beforehand.

PROSECUTOR: 

If your Honor pleases…

JUDGE: 

No! My Honor doesn’t please. Shut up! Don’t you see we are talking about pajamas, the most important pierce of clothing? And where did the pajamas go to stop if I may ask?

PSYCHIATRIST: 

To the Vltava.

JUDGE: 

To the river? What a misfortune! And how did you recover it?

PSYCHIATRIST: 

With a fishing rod.

 JUDGE: 

Ha, ha, ha! That is funny. I can imagine that. “Have you caught something?”. “A pajamas”. “Pajamas? What kind of fish is that?” Ha, ha, ha!

PROSECUTOR: 

If your Honor pleases…

JUDGE: 

I’m finishing, I’m finishing! One last question, Mr. psychiatrist. Do you know the defendant? 

PSYCHIATRIST: 

Yes your Majesty

JUDGE: 

Would you say that he is sane?

PSYCHIATRIST: 

The dividing line is so thin, so thin…

JUDGE: 

Okay, okay. We’ve heard that before. Court is adjourned. Leave the courtroom.

This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to raise funds for children in need. So if you want to make a donation in exchange for this story, click on this link to UNICEF. I really appreciate it!

FOURTH DAY

JUDGE: 

The trial is resumed. Franz Kafka: you are accused of throwing yourself from a third floor to a cup of coffee. What do you have to say to that?

KAFKA: 

Oh, I landed in the coffee cup by accident.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object. He threw himself into the cup purposely. It was an attack on the consul of France, who at that moment was about to throw in the cup a lump of sugar. But the defendant raced ahead. Fortunately, the consul is a magnanimous man, otherwise the incident could have led us to war. Are sparks like this that generate large fires.

KAFKA: 

The prosecutor talks nonsense, your Honor. My intention was to fall on the pavement, but at the time of jumping, the consul turned with the cup raised and exclaimed: “Waiter, a lump of sugar.” While falling, I tried to go back but I couldn’t. In fact, the cup saved my life.

JUDGE: 

So, you jumped with the intention of taking your own life.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object! It was an attack as you ever saw. The defendant is an anarchist and I can prove it. I ask that the Anarchist appear.

The Anarchist enters the courtroom and occupies the witness stand.

JUDGE: 

Are you the Anarchist?

ANARCHIST: 

Certainly

JUDGE: 

Do you know Mr. Kafka?

ANARCHIST: 

On one occasion, he attended a clandestine meeting.

JUDGE: 

Where did that meeting take place?

ANARCHIST: 

At the Café Evropa.

JUDGE: 

But that is a very central and crowded place. And you say it was a clandestine meeting?

ANARCHIST: 

We talked in a low voice and under the table.

JUDGE: 

And what was the attitude of the defendant?

ANARCHIST: 

He ordered a really strong cup of coffee.

JUDGE: 

Coffee again appears in this hearing. It may be that the attack was not directed against the consul but against coffee.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object! Why was he going to attack a cup of coffee?

JUDGE: 

Mr. Kafka, do you have anything against coffee?

KAFKA: 

I repeat, your honor, it was an accident. I could have fallen to any other drink.

JUDGE: 

Mr. anarchist: Does the anarchist movement have any animosity against coffee?

ANARCHIST: 

Do you mean the brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans? 

JUDGE: 

Precisely.

ANARCHIST: 

Personally, I don’t like coffee. I prefer tea. But it’s a personal preference. Bakunin was a coffee lover.

JUDGE: 

Who is Bakunin?

PROSECUTOR: 

I object, your Honor. What does Bakunin have to do with all this?

JUDGE: 

Overruled. Mr. Anarchist, I reiterate the question: Who is Bakunin?

ANARCHIST: 

A Russian revolutionary anarchist.

JUDGE: 

And where was Bakunin at the time of the proceedings?

ANARCHIST: 

In the cemetery.

JUDGE: 

And what was he doing in the cemetery?

ANARCHIST: 

He was dead.

JUDGE: 

I object, your Honor! The witness mocks the Court!

ANARCHIST: 

It wasn’t my intention.

JUDGE: 

If he mocks unintentionally, he’s within his legal rights.

ANARCHIST: 

Thank you, your Honor.

The Anarchist makes obscene gestures directed towards the Prosecutor.

JUDGE: 

So you know Mr. Kafka from an anarchist meeting held in a coffee shop. And he ordered a strong cup of coffee.

ANARCHIST: 

That’s right.

JUDGE: 

Do you remember if Mr. Kafka threw himself to the coffee?

ANARCHIST: 

I beg your pardon?

JUDGE: 

You have already heard me. Answer the question.

ANARCHIST: 

If I remember correctly, he didn’t throw himself to the coffee. He drank it. Anyway, we were so focused on conspiring that, frankly, I didn’t pay attention to those trivialities.

JUDGE: 

Do you call “a triviality” to throw oneself into a strong cup of coffee?

KAFKA: 

Your Honor, I ask for the floor.

JUDGE: 

Go ahead, Mr. Kafka. Try to shed some light on this matter.

KAFKA: 

It’s true that I was in that coffee shop. But I didn’t attend any clandestine meeting. I was writing a short story and, before I knew it, I was surrounded by anarchists.

ANARCHIST: 

I thought you were writing the minutes of the meeting.

JUDGE: 

In that case, what the hell were you writing?

KAFKA: 

The story of a salesman who wakes one morning transformed into a cockroach.

JUDGE: 

Ha, ha, ha! Here is a nice one! A man turned into a cockroach! Ha, ha ha!

PROSECUTOR: 

It’s ridiculous. He could not have looked for a more absurd alibi.

Suddenly, the Anarchist addresses the defendant:

ANARCHIST: 

Are you Franz Kafka, the author of “The Trial”?

KAFKA: 

That’s right

ANARCHIST: 

Oh, it’s an honor for me to meet you. I am a great admirer of you. You have a lot of talent.

He shakes his hand effusively. 

PROSECUTOR: 

I object, your honor. The defendant is fraternizing with the witness.

JUDGE: 

Gentlemen, separate.

PROSECUTOR: 

You’ve heard, your Honor: the defendant is the author of a subversive text of an anarchist character.

JUDGE: 

What is that text about?

ANARCHIST: 

It’s about a man who, for no reason, is put on trial.

A long, tense silence spreads like a wet cloth across the court.

JUDGE: 

Court is adjourned until tomorrow.

This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to raise funds for children in need. So if you want to make a donation in exchange for this story, click on this link to UNICEF. I really appreciate it!

FIFTH DAY

JUDGE: 

Franz Kafka: you are accused of desecrating the grave of a dead man. Do you have something to claim?

KAFKA: 

That he was not dead, your Honor.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object energetically!

JUDGE: 

Overruled. What makes you think he was not dead?

KAFKA: 

That we were chatting.

PROSECUTOR: 

And what does that prove?

JUDGE: 

You mean it was a two-way conversation? Or were you the only one who spoke and the other only listened?

KAFKA: 

He was a man of few words.

PROSECUTOR: 

Ha!

JUDGE: 

Is that an objection, Mr. Prosecutor?

PROSECUTOR: 

A derogatory comment.

JUDGE: 

You say he was a man of few words. How many exactly?

KAFKA: 

None, your Honor.

PROSECUTOR: 

Ha!

JUDGE: 

Another derogatory comment and you’ll be expelled from the courtroom.

PROSECUTOR: 

I apologize to your Honor.

KAFKA: 

But he nodded and shook his head “no”.

JUDGE: 

Can you prove it?

KAFKA: 

Sure. You only have to request his appearance.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object!

JUDGE: 

Let the deceased appear!

A man with overtly unhealthy looking enters the courtroom and occupies the witness stand.

JUDGE: 

Are you the Deceased?

The Deceased nods his head.

JUDGE: 

Do you know this man named Franz Kafka?

New nodding.

JUDGE: 

Did this man profane your grave?

The Deceased shakes his head “no”.

JUDGE: 

You were right, Mr. Kafka: he really is a man of few words.

PROSECUTOR: 

Because he’s dead, your Honor! It’s obvious!

The judge stares at the Deceased.

JUDGE: 

He really doesn’t have a very healthy looking … But how does the Prosecutor explain that he nods and shakes his head “no” and has entered the courtroom on his own feet?

PROSECUTOR: 

It must be a zombie, your Honor.

KAFKA: 

What stupidity!

JUDGE: 

Mr. Deceased, are you a zombie?

The Deceased shakes his head “no”.

PROSECUTOR: 

Or maybe he’s a vampire.

JUDGE: 

Are you a vampire, Mr. Deceased?

He shakes his head again.

PROSECUTOR: 

Ask him if he is an Eskimo.

KAFKA: 

Your Honor, the prosecutor abuses the witness’s patience.

JUDGE: 

Does the prosecutor abuse your patience, Mr. Deceased?

The Deceased nods his head.

JUDGE: 

Again, Mr. Kafka is right. We are abusing the witness’s patience. Mr. Deceased, you can retire.

The Deceased shuffles off.

JUDGE: 

What is the conclusion we can draw from all this?

PROSECUTOR: 

The world is mysterious.

KAFKA: 

Nothing makes sense … except death.

JUDGE: 

What the hell does that mean?

KAFKA: 

I don’t know, it just came to my mind. But it seems a deep sentence. Do you allow me to write it down? I’ll use it in one of my books.

PROSECUTOR: 

Any objection, Mr. Prosecutor?

The Prosecutor shakes his head “no”.

PROSECUTOR: 

This trial is starting to get out of hand real fast.

JUDGE: 

Oh, come on, don’t be pessimistic or you’ll end up looking like the defendant. Mr. Kafka, you mustn’t be invited to many parties, right?

KAFKA: 

It is immoral to go to parties while the world is full of people who suffer. Also, the punch is always too loaded.

Unexpectedly, the Deceased returns, walks around the courtroom under the watchful eye of those present and leaves again.

PROSECUTOR: 

Let’s see, Mr. Kafka, if only death makes sense, how is it that this dead man does not jump for joy?

KAFKA: 

Because he is not dead. How should I tell you?

The Deceased comes in again but this time jumping for joy.

JUDGE: 

What does this mean?

PROSECUTOR: 

It means that I was right, your Honor: he’s dead, just pretending not to be. I bet the defendant has bribed him to pass himself off as a living man and thus discredit the Court.

KAFKA: 

I bet it happens just the opposite: he’s alive, just pretending to be dead. Anyway, since I am condemned beforehand, what difference does it make what I can say?

JUDGE: 

But with a little luck, you can get rid of the death penalty.

KAFKA: 

You still have not realized that it’s death I’m after? All right, I confess! Yes, I bribed that dead man to give me his place in the Old Jewish Cemetery. It was so crowded with tombs that there was no room for one more dead. Is not that what you want to hear?!

PROSECUTOR: 

Yes, Mr. Kafka. Sincerely, I appreciate the deference.

JUDGE: 

And what happened next?

KAFKA: 

When I was going to kill myself, the police appeared. They raided the cemetery. They took a few dead and me with them. I asked them to wait a moment for me to take my life, but they were inflexible. They threatened to kill me if I didn’t accompany them.

JUDGE: 

Again I’ve got a headache. Court is adjourned until tomorrow. Leave the room. 

This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to raise funds for children in need. So if you want to make a donation in exchange for this story, click on this link to UNICEF. I really appreciate it!

SIXTH DAY

JUDGE: 

Franz Kafka: you’re on the hook for attempted murder. How do you plead, guilty or innocent?

KAFKA: 

Guilty, your Honor.

PROSECUTOR: 

Eureka!

JUDGE: 

You will not be falsely declaring yourself guilty?

KAFKA: 

Why would I do such a thing?

JUDGE: 

I don’t know. You’re such a weird guy…

PROSECUTOR: 

He’s not weird: he’s a murderer. He tried to kill himself. If it were not for that old woman, now we would be mourning his death. 

JUDGE: 

I ask the old woman to appear again!

After a few moments, the custodian bursts in, very agitated.

CUSTODIAN: 

Your Honor, the old woman has just passed away.

KAFKA: 

Lucky for her!

PROSECUTOR: 

Shut up! You bring bad luck.

KAFKA: 

Death scares you, right? You hang on life with your claws and teeth, because you don’t believe there is anything on the other side!

JUDGE: 

Mr. Kafka, do you have any proof of what you say? I mean, that there is something on the other side.

KAFKA: 

I have, your Honor. I call to testify Dr. Zelerin.

The Doctor enters the courtroom and occupies the witness stand.

JUDGE: 

Are you Dr. Zelerin?

DOCTOR: 

Yes, your Honor.

JUDGE: 

You are a witness to the defense. Mr. Kafka, you can question your witness.

KAFKA: 

With the consent of the Court. Dr. Zelerin, tell the Court succinctly your discoveries about the phenomena of survival after physical death.

DOCTOR: 

With pleasure. I work at the Hoffmann’s Hospital. One afternoon a woman who had broken a nail came to the emergency room. Someone missed the diagnosis and activated the heart attack protocol. It is a somewhat drastic protocol but, after all, it’s a life or death situation, so we don’t stand on ceremony. We apply electroshocks. It works in cases of heart attack, but not in cases of broken nails. What happened is that the patient was electrocuted and, as a consequence, her vital functions went fuck themselves, if I am allowed the technical term.

JUDGE: 

You mean she died?

DOCTOR: 

Exactly. I couldn’t think of the word.

JUDGE: 

And what happened next?

DOCTOR: 

That someone missed the diagnosis again. He thought that, instead of a death, it was a heart attack, and he applied electroshocks again. The fact is that, as a result of it, the vital functions were resumed and the patient came back to life. With her hair singed, though. But she was able to resume his normal life. After some time, she returned to the hospital for a check-up. And, in the privacy of my office, she told me about her experience. She said that during the period in which she had been dead, she had left her body …

PROSECUTOR: 

I object!

JUDGE: 

Overruled! Continue.

DOCTOR: 

She was floating above her corpse.

PROSECUTOR: 

I protest energetically! You can not float above your own corpse!

JUDGE: 

Ignore him, doctor. And continue, please.

DOCTOR: 

Then he turned and saw a light behind her at the end of a tunnel. The light drew her powerfully, so she decided to go after It. When she arrived, there were beings of light waiting for her. Among them he recognized his uncle, who had died a few years ago at the hands of a squirrel. She had been very close to her uncle. He told her that this wonderful place was Heaven, but that her time had not yet come, so she had to go back before it was too late and everyone went to bed. Then she felt a tug that brought her back through the tunnel at full speed and again found herself in the hospital bed. She had been dead for fifteen minutes. When she opened her eyes, the nurse who was putting her in a bag suffered too a heart attack. We also applied electroshocks to the nurse but in this case the resurrection was not immediate. When we questioned her, she told us the same story. She, too, had been in Heaven, only that she was there a little more time: she even had time to have a snack. When she came back, she was already in the bag and the person in charge of the ladies’ morgue also suffered a heart attack as a result of the shock and… well, she went through the same process. This is how I began to be interested in the phenomenon of survival after physical death.

JUDGE: 

Wow! That’s interesting!

PROSECUTOR: 

This stuff is a bunch of malarkey.

JUDGE: 

Do you question the testimony?

PROSECUTOR: 

Not only I call into question the testimony but I consider it a stupidity.

KAFKA: 

I object, your Honor. The prosecutor is calling a famous man of science stupid. 

JUDGE: 

Sustained. Mr. Prosecutor, if you again disrespect a witness, I will accuse you of contempt of court.

PROSECUTOR: 

If there is life after death, why don’t I go through that experience?

JUDGE: 

Have you ever been dead?

PROSECUTOR: 

Can you only travel to Heaven when you are dead? What kind of travel company is this?

KAFKA: 

I object, your Honor. The prosecutor is making fun.

JUDGE: 

The prosecutor is a skeptic.

PROSECUTOR: 

A realistic skeptic.

KAFKA: 

Reality is deeper than the human being can encompass.

He starts writing in his notebook.

KAFKA: 

Let me write down this sentence for one of my books.

PROSECUTOR: 

In any case… To die, you must first have lived.

KAFKA: 

Hey, that’s a deep sentence too! Allow me to write it down.

He starts writing again.

PROSECUTOR: 

I object! The defendant is appropriating a phrase of mine!

JUDGE: 

Mr. Kafka, when you use this phrase in one of your books, state the name of the prosecutor.

KAFKA: 

I’ll do, your Honor.

JUDGE: 

You know? I also come up with phrases of unfathomable depth from time to time. If you want, you can also include some of them.

KAFKA: 

For example?

JUDGE: 

Let me think … How about “The palm trees of Arabia are graceful like gazelles”?

PROSECUTOR: 

With all due respect, your Honor, that sentence is superficial.

JUDGE: 

And yours? What is so deep in your sentence? What was the phrase?

KAFKA: 

“To die, you must first have lived”

JUDGE: 

Where the hell is the depth?

KAFKA: 

Actually, it’s a sublime phrase. Enlightening!

JUDGE: 

He’s delirious …

PROSECUTOR: 

Let him be delirious.

KAFKA: 

Now you can condemn me to the punishment you want … as long as it’s not the death penalty.

JUDGE: 

Do you no longer want death?

KAFKA: 

No, your Honor. The prosecutor’s sentence has opened my eyes. I will not re-offend in a similar manner in the future.

JUDGE: 

And what about my sentence?

KAFKA: 

Which one? 

JUDGE: 

Well, the one that I uttered a moment ago. Something about the gazelles …

PROSECUTOR: 

With all due respect, Your Honor …

JUDGE: 

If you qualify the phrase again as superficial, I accuse you of contempt of court!

KAFKA: 

Life is beautiful. And even if it is not, it is equally worth living. Because, as the prosecutor said, undoubtedly inspired by the muses: “To die, you must first have lived.”

(THE CURTAIN FALLS)

This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to raise funds for children in need. So if you want to make a donation in exchange for this story, click on this link to UNICEF. I really appreciate it!



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