Bohemian Kafka

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

whether or not you read this makes little different to me personally and therefore I will make no extraordinary effort to promote my own work. I hereby declare my work public domain and do not give permission to any party to profit off of my work. all the best

Bohemian Kafka

Oliver Vieri-Pignatelli

5:13AM, 7/12/2020

Note: This is a work of fiction I wrote before I was stabilised on antidepressants late December 2019 – Early January 2020. I have not given anyone permission to preface this book with an introduction. I have not given anyone permission to charge money in any way for this book, including using advertisements to shovel it, or being otherwise unscrupulous on my behalf. I have not given anyone permission to publish the contents of this book, or anything else I have written for that matter. I hereby declare this book to be public property and not private domain. I will never charge even a cent for my own work. All the best.


K woke with a mind made groggy by the lasting effects of the combination of promethazine, alcohol, venlafaxine, ketamine, pregabalin, diazepam and cannabis, with which he tormented his body the night before. As K's mind drifted clumsily into consciousness the searing fog began to clear and the room around him slowly manifested itself. The first thing he saw, as he laid stricken on the king sized mattress next to his hungover father, was a great wooden shelf which, at its top, boasted a fearsome replica of the skull of a saber tooth tiger.

The model was complemented by its surroundings: a quaint stack of CDs, a bundle of books, some pottery and camera equipment, but for the most part a collection of precious and semi-precious stones: aquamarine, calcite, pyrite, quartz, lapis lazuli, bearite, garnet, emerald and jade as well as fossils, many petrified in wood or stone, some opalised. These were only some of many which filled to capacity the entire room.

Every nook and cranny was occupied by rocks and their absences by a variety of objects, all of exceptionally fine taste. A group of large terracotta pots containing plump bamboo stalks crowned by honey-yellow lotus flowers garnished the corner of the room, behind which, on the wall, hung a vividly-coloured hand-woven portrait of a beaming maid girl who wore a red dress and matching rosy cheeks. She sat alone on an old rocking chair, knitting, in the full warmth of the fireplace. Out of place yet orderly, a lone tie hung from the screen door outside.

K stirred from his self-inflicted stupor and rose from the bed to follow his father to the veranda outside, where he'd drink tea and resume the day's activities. He heard his father accuse his grandma, in a sharp tone which lacked grace, "I'm not as lazy as you". He spoke with a conviction which veiled thinly his bitterness; his accusatory statement was employed as if his intention were to demask a hypocrite.

This was a common tactic of K's father, who, like K himself, was a very much aloof bohemian. Denial of reality was his primary defence; with the anxiety that accompanies insecurity he painstakingly maintained the appearance of his character. His suggestions, innocuous and jovial at face value, were frequently meant as threats, as punishments, manifestations of spite, as the thickness of his tone would suggest. He seemed unaware of his very nature, for he accused others of that which he himself, in fact, was; "someone's in a bad mood today."

K analysed, with cold calculation, in a dejected and ruthless manner, his father's antics. He was, K observed, indifferent to the formation of clutter, ostensibly regarding it as of little import, yet intolerant of it all the same. He took troubles to hoarde stingily his money and possessions (barring the occasional magnanimous gesture) and, in a fundamentally devious way, he took every conceivable opportunity to swindle others of their own. He was anxious to pull the wool over everyone's eyes thereby scooping them into his distorted universe wherein he was the centre. One daren't resist the pull. But before laying to sleep, drunk and irritable, he would sometimes slip the mask and shrink to the essence of anger, uniroinically framing babble as wisdom and abuse as jokes.

He lived cursed with a permanent double state of mind; he was able to effortlessly and seamlessly draw from the products of his cognitive dissonance, for the sake of convenience, so as to justify his shoddy principles and frequently disgraceful behaviour in incongruent fashion. He, like K, was born in Karamazovian blood and, like his own father, was himself a rendition of Fyodor Karamozov. If that were the case, then K saw himself as somewhere between the brothers Mitya and Alyosha... but the darkness which infused his own soul reminded him of Ivan.

Perhaps K was himself in a bad mood today and made such observations out of spite. Nevertheless he followed the train of thought further with morbid curiosity. His father, he thought, was forever suspicious to the point of paranoia, and thoroughly assertive so that he would always have his way; he must control the present situation, because, undoubtedly, he was always in the right and nobody was ever his superior. He sometimes talked of such matters in an sordid way, with a crooked grin upon his face, as if he were joking, although knowing well he were not.

He was quick to turn a request into a demand; he was apt to make threats and demands with a process which resembled tyranny. His patience was quickly exhausted, and transfigured to the anger which acts in defense of insecurity (defended defensivenes; barriers surrounding nothing), and he was bound to honour his behaviours which were products of his neuroses and obstinately held prejudices.

K was in a meditative state of mind, reflecting on what he, in earnest, believed to be truths. He was not consciously aware of harbouring any disdain or malicious intent, although he almost certainly was. His father, he thought out, slowly and deliberately, did not seem to care for truth in essence, despite what he often claimed, and cared only to entertain rather than inform, admittedly in itself an admirable pursuit.

He was quick to take offence and, invariably, to retaliate in some way, so as to discourage one from providing him unwanted criticism. He tended to, without shame, fire himself into a belligerent and self-righteous frenzy, provoke in himself an emotional response, clearly having many a time recognised this method as one that tends to succeed in the domination of argument; an act of cowardice, K thought, benefiting a struggle for power.

With his customarily warmthless manner K scrutinised his father, who was reading a book. His father tended to foster impatience as his mind wondered; he would be misdirected, justifiably, by the smallest of distractions. This represented how, out of of arrogance and intrepidity, he intended always to 'have it both ways'. He seemed to seek advantage, wherever possible, on the basis of some pretence or another.

Growing tired of his mirthless analysis of his father, and made aware of the waste of labour it constituted, as well as the ignominious nature of his own character, K resignedly stopped writing and sighed deeply. With a blank stare, shot out from the turgid shroud of gloom which constituted his face, he focused indiscriminately on a point of space and drifted into vapidity.


But K's 'episode' was not yet over, and he would continue to bum out his companions for the remainder of the day and then some. He noted, "because I feel bad I can't help but make others feel bad." He wished he could just 'be happy', but knew deep down it was more or less out of his hands. It seemed to be a perpetual cycle of apathy, grief, anger and frustration that he was invariably subject to.

K was repelled by his narcissistic father and in lieu of his newfound irritation, sought a new location to escape to, presently having determined he could not endure his father. He studied for a bit, then tried to read, but all the while frustration scratched at his brain, and eventually he resolved to pick up his phone and launch headlong into a cathartic release of emotion manifest as an incessant barrage of words, driven for the most part by spite and scribbled with the urgency of vomit.

K wrote about how his father enjoyed diminishing his scapegoat (K himself) and went on cataloguing his observations. He knew the method of dealing with narcissists, called 'grey rocking', would prevent escalation due to lack of interaction, and thereby resolved to simply dissociate more often. K understood that his father wanted him to buy alcohol, which K knew from experience he would drink much less than his father, and thus felt unfairly treated. It seemed to K, in his dark state of uncompromising cynicism, that his father would desperately scavenge and exploit at every opportunity.

He began scribbling characteristics of his father, having for the umpteenth time become motivated by morbid fascination. In present tense, in no particular order and without structure, K wrote down as follows.

"He takes advantage of kind gestures. Takes kindness for granted. Exploits kindness in people. Encourages others to depend on himself. Stockholm syndrome.

Shamelessly (unblinklingly, so one can rarely distinguish the truth) keeps tabs on money spent, exaggerates, and does not often become embarassed, so that one might feel the need to reciprocate such disgraceful behaviour lest they fall short due to his relentless dishonesty and exploitation.

Unless distracted, will cling to ideas that present him with a supposed financial benefit. Dishonest. Seems to enjoy cajoling one and at times seems like he's employing flattery with the expectation of reward. Ingratiating. But for the most part he is brutally honest and has a complete lack of concern for the mental well being of his companions, so that it is sometimes difficult to tell which state of mind he inhabits.

Employs irony to thwart appeals to be sensible or less brash. Sardonic in this regard. E.g. "what a little baby" (laughing) or "don't be a pussy" or "you're sooo sensitive aren't you?" In this way he can conscienably dismiss any such protest to his frequently brash and careless manner of speech. His carelessness is reflected in his state of ostracism. Lack of friends except by financially beneficial or distant acquaintance or reminiscence.

Raises his voice when challenged so as to drown out opposition to his stranglehold of power. Enjoys the comfort of his 'throne of narcissism', a swivelling leather chair, moreso when in the company of his scapegoat and flying monkey or, (less callously, to my fault), his sons. Myself and my brother.

Has an absurd and irreconcilable hatred for his father, yet behaves with similar disgrace and cheapness to his own immediate benefit. Exploits his relationship with his mother, who he loves dearly, but refuses to speak with any of his other brothers or family, much less his dad, lest he become involved in violent dispute. Will act with intense spite towards his own father if the spell of disacknowledgement of his existence is somehow broken.

Cheaply employs ad hominem attacks such as related to drug consumption or drug-induced states of mind, despite himself being an incorrigible alcoholic who also relies on the effects of tobacco and cannabis to endure each and every day, like clockwork.

Obstinately stuck with his behaviours, despite being told explicitly that they are detrimental to him and everyone around him, and despite having developed a poor physical condition characterised by general weakness, a persistent and sickly-sounding cough he sometimes tries to pass off as 'the flu' but actually by nature of the cough itself it is reflective of a condition much more morbid such as emphysema. This is one fact that suggests he, at least in part, denies reality itself.

Stubbornly refuses to ever visit a doctor, believing himself to be far more capable of diagnosis, and justifies his superiority in such matters by various applications of the soup of obscure knowledge with which he has, over the years, filled his head to the very much to the brim (perhaps some kind of sophisticated avoidance mechanism with which he procrastinates and therefore forgets his troubles (high and consistent doses of alcohol and cannabis)).

He blatantly lies and tends to subtlety change his mind (usually in response to someone else's retort (he integrates and claims as his own the new information in an inexplicable way, even going so far as to deny ever having held the original opinion)) and will maintain his newfound opinion even in the face of irrefutable evidence such as the contents of a video or audio recording.

When he recognised an opening of weakness, such as the dissolution of calm and the beginnings of irritation in K's demeanour, with which he can slide into as would a vampiric snake, he fosters an atmosphere of animosity and, like a sadistic torturer, applies a constant pressure, knowing full well, yet believing himself justified, that his behaviour will only escalate the situation. In such situations K must keep his cool, which staying silent helps him to do, and employs grey rocking whenever possible.

But sometimes this tactic is not possible, such as in being directly questioned or prodded with shrill malice, and he must retreat, lest a needless drama is created and he is incapable of restraining his emotions, and his father is given the opportunity to exercise his final power, barring physical assault which he was no longer able to employ due to K's age, which is to disown K and send him home on the train, a dishonourable discharge, until the time when, on a whim, he should coax K back to his lair, when all of the insufferable torments should begin anew. The cycle made familiar by his tormentor, the person he was in awe of owing to his superior knowledge, brazen insolence toward authority and amusingly ludicrous nature, yet often ashamed to call his father, because of his narcissism and intolerable and cringey antics.

But it suddenly occurred to K, although his mind was racing, his muscles were spasming and his shoulders were rigid, that this man, his father, was perhaps utterly hopeless in his position, that he was as he were through no explicit fault of his own, more or less a product of his upbringing, a shattered fragment of the greatness his own genetics meant for him to fulfil. Therefore, to overcome his anxiety and despair, K only had only forgive his father his transgressions.

Ideally, once he could understand and forgive, the weight would be liftened, and he would be promptly returned to his characteristically meek and amiable state. If intoxicated by drugs, as he was wont to be, he would argue and talk with a mirthless matter-of-fact tone, but this was only natural, and, facing such a narcissistic man, after all, not to excuse himself, as he was not without responsibility of his own, he was destined to be a neurotic and distorted fragment of a man and therefore the only true way forward was to accept his father as he was and himself as he was.

But K's final power in this case was not to send K home. Rather it was to make the threat itself, and then, exhausted of protest, to put on a pitiful act which was meant to inspire sympathy. But K kept up his menacing and distant facade so as to keep reading unperturbed (well at least that's what he told himself, but really he just wanted his father to drop his prideful act).

It became known to K that his father and brother intended to go to town to buy alcohol when K's brother walked in and, not looking for even a second at K, asked his grandma for the keys to her car so that their leave may be facilitated. 'Good,' thought K, 'I won't be coerced into spending money on alcohol I won't drink nearly as much as my father.' But he was hurt at being left out, all the same. K saw through the supposed ruse now and so he was steeled against the next event, in which his father had sent his brother this time to directly tell K to go outside. "He's calling you," he said. His voice had a soft quality. "Why?" asked K cynically, frowning. "To smoke," said his brother. "No, that's OK," said K, dismissively.

As his brother walked away, K thought 'he can come ask me himself, then.' He would not readily volunteer to spend his money, nor to end his solitude, as he had been shunned, and he would not dispense of his own pride to save his father's. K was very much accustomed to loneliness, having been shunned numerous times in the past, and through experience alone knew he was happily left to his own devices.

'At least I won't be tormented.' He knew he had hurt his father's feelings by shamelessly and warmthlessly writing about him right under his nose, but that was only natural, and despite that his father never read the writing, K's manner said it all; but nonetheless he was only briefly remorseful, and saw the act as a trap, and his father's sadness as only a perverted product of pride. For his own good, for the sake of his self-esteem, he would remain obstinate; stubbornly, he would not yield unless his father's pride was dispensed of in place of his own.

It was not long before K was back outside on the verenda, watching his father with a deliberate slowness roll and light a joint. He held it for some time, as was usual, savouring every smoke particle and looking grand as he did; as it seemed to K, in his characteristic cynism, his father did this as a display of power; it was as if to say, I can hold this joint for as long as I please, but you must do as I say with your turn. This perception seemed to be confirmed when K or his brother held the joint; his father tended to grow impatient and demand to be handed it back after an amount of time invariably much less than the time in which he himself held it. He seemed to, K observed, hoarde power and resources with which he could leverage and diminish; he seemed to thrive off diminishing others, and in doing so, like a vampire, drew power.

Then they were on the way to the shops. K made a feeble attempt at 'getting out of it' by lying and saying he didn't have his wallet with him, but his father saw through the ruse and K was coerced into spending money in what he thought was a very unpleasant manner. He spent $100 on food, exactly how much by his father's precise instruction he was told to spend. But that was not enough, and later on, out of mistrust, his father demanded for him to produce the receipt so he may be reassured of K's commitment in spite of what K said. He thought if his father would simply be direct and ask him to spend money, without all of the needless cajoling, dishonesty and misdirection, he would have more happily obliged. But the way it was, K had been rubbed the wrong way, and felt rather like he'd been robbed than spent money of his own accord.

RecGrotesque display 30th Dec


Later on dinner was ready and K made way to the dinner table absorbed in his dark shroud and dour demeanour. K ate dinner in morbid silence and watched as his father and brother caroused in high spirits as if nothing were the matter. His father, as was his custom, held the television remote; he flicked through the channels with a fussiness that was deeply frustrating to K, but K's brother seemed not to mind, as he was more than used to it, and even seemed to welcome his father's incessant manicure of reality.

As would often occur, they watched a few minutes of a show that K's father himself picked, but then abruptly, with a sour look upon his face, like in the adage of the kid with too many toys who would come to enjoy none, found it not to his liking, and changed it once more. He eventually landed on a comedy show. A female comedian appeared, exceptionally skilled, thought K, but after a brief appraisal by K's father, one significantly motivated by preconceptions, turned her off and even muted the entirety of the next comedian's act; sourly deemed them "not funny". He could only enjoy the work of female comedians if they were "dykes". He made the decisions.

--

K went to bed early without saying anything. He laid down in bed and read, relishing the silence. After a while, to K's dread, the glass sliding door which formed a comfortable separation between K and the outside world abruptly slid open. K's narcissistic father stumbled into the room, drunk and angry. He seemed to be irritated that K had gone and laid down on his own (possibly seen as an act of defiance) and immediately abused K for not laying on the sheet properly. This was pretext for all his hatred, that he simply wanted K to 'tuck it in'.

But his face and tone of voice said much more, although at first K dared not look up at first, and laid still with the vague hope that he would cease to exist. Childhood trauma promptly returned by nothing short of verbal abuse. K became frightened and his heart rate and mental processes sped up accordingly. He begun to shake and blank out. His mind was thrown back to when he was a powerless kid completely at the mercy of his father. The initial grey rocking failed to bring K peace ("leave me alone," he said repeatedly and listlessly, in a trance-like way, not making eye contact so as not to give away his fear. He felt as if threatened by a predatory animal (who fed on fear and, if challenged, would react only with more violence)).

In the failure of K's grey rocking and the acceleration of his father's abuse, K, who was pale and shaken, abandoned his conviction and hurriedly scrambled to tuck the sheet in, just as his father wanted, but in his anxiety he did a shabby job of it. K's father seemed to expect this failure, as if he meant for it to happen, for he was thereupon fuelled into further berating his scapegoat, K himself, who had been made powerless over years of traumatic conditioning. The trauma itself was made appropriate in his father's eyes by an endless series of justifications, which in their summation inevitably left K worse off.

The only difference now, K assured himself in his panic, as he flinchingly and mindlessly toiled to fix the sheet as would satisfy his tormentor, was that he could not be physically hit; the blows would be only emotional. Pushed to breaking point, K summoned the courage to tilt his rigid neck and look directly into the eyes of his father; into the face of vicious threat and insurmountable power, K brazenly conveyed all of his hatred.

K's father returned his son's hate-filled stare of defiance with his own gaze of hatred. He did not flinch nor falter one bit, but somewhat to K's surprise, seemed to be relishing every bit of that dark exchange, as if K's hatred justified his own, and that was all he needed to feel satisfied of his own righteousness, ends which justified means. Indeed K suspected his father only ceased his torment when he noticed K had attempted to turn on his voice recorder to capture the remainder of the event. This tended to bother him greatly, in part due to his overwhelming paranoia, but also perhaps because in his perpetual conquest of reality, he was invariably afraid of the mirror of truth.

And where was K's brother during all of this? Sitting idly by, and, to make no mistake, doing absolutely nothing. K's father's flying monkey fit smoothly into the narrative. Before the traumatic event occurred, when he was alone with K, he, in a tone that seemed to K only sarcastic and withdrawn, with no emotional involvement so that it could be expressly faltered on and denied should it be referred to later on, said of K's recent behaviour that it had been dour. He then added, somewhat reluctantly, that it was dour to a degree that he might even venture to call concerning. K swiftly withdrew from the conversation, refusing to give his opinion, having seen through the ingratiating nature of his brother's comment.

Later on, after the traumatic event, as he had been present for the entire event, K said shakily to his brother, "does that answer your question as to why I've been dour today?" As expected, his brother denied having previously expressed concern. Regardless he still wanted the benefit of asking K why he'd been upset, as if gaslighting K right after the fact so as to make K hurt. In response K muttered exactly what he thought, "you don't really care, so don't ask." K listlessly repeated himself a few times and then, with the sadness that comes with disillusionment, resignedly put in his earphones, effectively ignoring his brother.

K didn't take his headphones off again, and for the next few moments was accosted in muffled and inaudible statements, wherein, in a comical tone, he would mimic K, caricaturing him as a sensitive victim, as unreasonably emotional and of weaker character, as if K were never even abused, it was 'all in his head'; K's brother spoke as if all of the unsolicited violence he had just witnessed were justified so as to be unalarming. The rubbing of salt to K's wound, which K was still very much shaken by, yet expected to act as if the event was of no consequence, only reinforced to K the validity of the model with which he boldly and unashamedly, in the face of sharp criticism, characterised the relationship dynamics between himself, his brother and his father as explainable by the model of the narcissistic parent, the scapegoat and flying monkey.


The next morning, K woke up with a start. He felt dreadful; the dread welled up inside him and he became swollen by it. The atmosphere was stale and silent; reparations had not yet been made and the Karamozovian bohemians scarcely looked at, much less spoke to, one another.

END
Signed Oliver Vieri-Pignatelli, 7/12/2020
Contents remain unaltered from their original composition from this date.

 


Submitted: December 11, 2020

© Copyright 2021 olive tree. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Craig Davison

Hilarious! It makes me want to visit a castle in Prague and become a land surveyor. Lovely work.

Mon, January 4th, 2021 8:49am

Craig Davison

Hilarious! It makes me want to visit a castle in Prague and become a land surveyor. Lovely work.

Mon, January 4th, 2021 8:49am

Author
Reply

Or just read Kafka or Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy or Chekhov to feel the same way.

Thank you very much!

Mon, January 4th, 2021 12:20pm

Al Ashcott

Hello Oliver!
I liked your story and the way you 'incorporated' the dreadfulness of being inside someone's tormented thoughts (Kafka's K.) and the unbearable emotional tension inside a dysfunctional family (Dostoyevsky's Karamazov brothers). I read both authors, several books by them, and remeber the mental unease they caused me each time after finishing one of their stories. I felt the same thing with your story. Nice job!
Al

Thu, September 2nd, 2021 11:29am

Author
Reply

Thank you for reading and commenting. Means a lot. I love Dostoyevsky and Kafka!

Thu, September 2nd, 2021 4:32am

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