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A Fratricide by Franz Kafka

A Fratricide by Franz Kafka

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Published by Aleksandra Denić

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Published by: Aleksandra Denić on Dec 23, 2011
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A Fratricide
A short story by Franz Kafka
"The evidence shows that this is how the murder was committed:Schmar, the murderer, took up his post about nine o'clock one night in clear moonlight by thecorner where Wese, his victim, had to turn from the street where his office was into the street helived in. The night air was shivering cold. Yet Schmar was wearing only a thin blue suit; the jacket was unbuttoned, too. He felt no cold; besides, he was moving about all the time. Hisweapon, half a bayonet and half a kitchen knife, he kept firmly in his grasp, quite naked. Helooked at the knife against the light of the moon; the blade glittered; not enough for Schmar; hestruck it against the bricks of the pavement till the sparks flew; regretted that, perhaps; and torepair the damage drew it like a violin bow across his boot sole while he bent forward, standingon one leg, and listened both to the whetting of the knife on his boot and for any sound out of thefateful side street. Why did Pallas, the private citizen who was watching it all from his windownear by in the second story, permit it to happen? Unriddle the mysteries of human nature! Withhis collar turned up, his dressing gown girt round his portly body, he stood looking down,shaking his head.And five houses farther along, on the opposite side of the street, Mrs. Wese, with a foxfur coatover her nightgown, peered out to look for her husband who was lingering unusually latetonight.At last there rang out the sound of the doorbell before Wese's office, too loud for a doorbell,right over the town and up to heaven, and Wese, the industrious nightworker, issued from thebuilding, still invisible in that street, only heralded by the sound of the bell; at once the pavementregistered his quiet footsteps. Pallas bent far forward; he dared not miss anything. Mrs. Wese,reassured by the bell, shut her window with a clatter. But Schmar knelt down; since he had noother parts of his body bare, he pressed only his face and his hands against the pavement; whereeverything else was freezing, Schmar was glowing hot.At the very corner dividing the two streets Wese paused; only his walking stick came round intothe other street to support him. A sudden whim. The night sky invited him, with its dark blue andits gold. Unknowing, he gazed up at it, unknowing he lifted his hat and stroked his hair; nothingup there drew together in a pattern to interpret the immediate future for him; everything stayed inits senseless, inscrutable place. In itself it was a highly reasonable action that Wese should walk on, but he walked on to Schmar's knife."2!" shrieked Schmar, standing on tiptoe, his arm outstretched, the knife sharply lowered,"Wese! You will never see Julia again!" And right into the throat and left into the throat and athird time deep into the belly stabbed Schmar's knife. Water rats, slit open, give out such a soundas came from Wese. "Done," said Schmar, and pitched the knife, now superfluous blood-stainedballast, against the nearest house front. "The bliss of murder! The relief, the soaring ecstasy fromthe shedding of another's blood! Wese, old nightbird, friend, alehouse crony, you are oozing

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