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Video and Short Story about Tour Guides

I know it’s Moscow, but this video of Gilbert Becaud’s Natalie,

recalled a very short story I wrote several years ago, which I here retrieve from a previous post:

Inside Prague by Nigel Beale

A PR executive in his forties goes to Prague with his 18 year old daughter to finalize a real estate transaction. Whilst there he takes a "Kafka" walking tour of the old city. He shows up at the allotted time and, to his surprise, finds himself alone with a beautiful young guide. They start walking. He skips like he’s on a first date. She talks about Kafka’s early life, pointing to the house at Karpfensgasse and Maiselgasse where he is said to have been born, mentioning that his mother died when he was very young.

This the executive knows to be untrue. Julie Lowy died in 1934, ten years after her Franz’s death.

They walk through narrow side streets together and stop at a small church. No one is near. It is quiet. His watery legs float in air that is skin temperature, unsure of where they end and it begins. She stares into his eyes and starts talking about herself. Her studies at Charles University, her childhood in the surrounding countryside, the corruption of local police and her desire to leave the country.

She says she has her own apartment. He observes her lips.She has a tiny spot on one of her front teeth that is whiter than the rest. A friend of his wife has something similar. He finds it captivating.

Why is she sharing these personal stories?

After a time they move on. She points out various buildings, architectural features, a fish. Given her error, the man isn’t sure he can believe anything she says.

They are back at the Old Town Square where the tour began, standing, facing each other, closer perhaps than propriety warranted. She gazes again into his eyes and asks if he has anymore questions. He knows what he wants to say. He doesn’t want her to leave, but only shakes his head. She turns and slowly walks away. He watches her shapely back, her lithe movement. There is a black trench inside him, marking lines of internal strife. Bleeding, he makes his way back to the restaurant where his daughter awaits.

Copyright Nigel Beale 2006

***

Here are a few apt quotes from Franz Kafka:

"Love is like a knife with which we explore ourselves."

"The clocks are not in unison; the inner one runs crazily on at a devilish or demonic or in any case inhuman pace, the outer one limps along at its usual speed. What else can happen but that the worlds split apart, and they do split apart, or at least clash in a fearful manner"

"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us…We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us."

"If I felt in love, I would be in a world in which I could not live."

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One Response to “Video and Short Story about Tour Guides”

  1. Frances Madeson Says:

    What a fascinating story, Nigel. Thank you so much for posting it. I’ve lived Inside Prague, as the daughter. It evoked in me a whole set of reactions too personal to post on the Internet. Suffice to say, Inside Prague brought me to insights that let me off a hook I hadn’t even realized I was hanging on.

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