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Monday, 25 May 2009

image for 'The Claim' by Franz Kafka Josef K

Josef K looked out of the window at his rainy street, and got ready for his work. He brushed his teeth, ate his hat, and put on his well-worn macintosh apple. Then he left his aunt's house, and walked to the bus stop.

'Come back, Josef!', his Aunt Tatiana shouted out to him, 'you've forgotten your umbrella!', but Josef didn't hear her. At his office he walked to his desk, walked back to the door, walked to his desk, adjusted his tie in an interesting manner, walked back to the door, walked to his desk, and then carefully didn't hang his umbrella up on the Austrian umbrella stand, one he'd bought on hire purchase from the Hitler Brothers of Munich.

As he began filling in the expenses forms for the mayor of his town, the town of Bad Snoring, for he was a clerk in the mayor's expenses form claims office, he tried to concentrate on the task at hand.

He began wondering what Aunt Tatiana would prepare for his dinner, maybe boiled cabbage in a cabbage sauce, with some cabbage wine - how he hated cabbage. Realising he'd filled in a two thousand ducats' expenses claim for the purchase of a cabbage on a holiday in Biarritz, he sighed and reached for the eraser.

A knock came at the door. 'Come in', said Josef, and the mayor's vice under-co-manager claims form underwriter walked into the room. 'Josef', said Oskar Hammersteinberger, 'you're getting behind on filling in the mayor's forms', and Josef realised he stilll had hundreds to do for the day.

'Claims for eight-course dinners and rewiring the mayor's duck palace are long overdue.' 'I'll do them immediately, you fat slob, boring, baldy bastard', and Josef realised he'd spoken his thoughts out aloud. 'Excellent', and Oskar left.

At lunch time Josef had his usual lunch of cabbage soup and cabbage starch bread, with a glass of cabbage juice, and noticed that the secretary from the mayor's kitchens - used to prepare his gourmet meals - was sitting opposite him, her brown hair slightly hanging over one of her eyes.

The other eye was a rather pretty light brown, and then she suddenly looked up from her cabbage soup, and briefly smiled at him. He dropped his wooden spoon in nervousness, was she teasing him? Was she laughing at him?

The girl, Svletyaniklova, was always smiling at him, sometimes with her perfect, white teeth, sometimes with the falsers her granny lent her, sometimes with her eyes, sometimes with her cleavage, but always smile, smile, smile. How shallow she was, he thought, how he wished she was deep and mysterious, like her enormous cleavage.

After lunch, Josef finished the expenses forms, and left at five o'clock exactly to make his way back to his aunt's house. When he walked in to the living room there, she had some news for him.

'Joe', she said, as this was her pet name for him, though sometimes it was 'Maggot' or 'Pest', 'sit down, I have something to tell you', and he sat down, even though there were no chairs in the room.

'What is it, Aunt Tatiana?' 'It's the mayor.' 'What has happened to him?' 'Sadly he died today at the Holsteinhoffenhollern Bierkellar in Vienna, trying to win an eating and drinking contest. He'd managed twelve steins of bier and two chickens, a partidge, two pear trees, and a kartviel cheesecake, when his accountant told him he hadn't kept the receipt for the meal, to claim back on expenses. He passed away on the spot from the inevitable heart attack.' 'Oh.' 'Go to your room now', and Josef got up off the floorboards and did so.

Would his job be secure, now the mayor had gone to the great trough in the sky? Would his hair turn into a mix of white and black, like some sort of cartoon skunk? Josef sat on his bed wondering.

But one thing he knew - tomorrow he would definitely speak to Svletyaniklova, and ask her if she claimed her brassiere costs back from expenses. He had never seen any forms for such a claim.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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