"THE OTHER MR. KAFKA"
by Philip Quinn


My name is Henry Kafka. I am a practicing podiatrist and I tell my patients that without feet we’d crawl like snakes.

I walk home to a place called Lewellan where the people are secular and without much hope, outside of the electronic worlds they inhabit.

At night, I sit in my backyard and hear the click of fingers on keyboards as my neighbours tell perfect strangers that they love them and that they are wet and dreamy.

It’s a street that’s all, and the people are polite and peculiar. Many have babies.

When you exhaustively examine something, it changes into something else and you must begin a new enquiry. I call it the banana of my parenthesis and all the surprises are under the tree.

In the mirror, I see a fine-looking man with a better head than mine. He became the enamel carver that his mother wanted him to be with an office where the aquarium bubbles out an exquisite music and the zebra fish are still.

I once had a great grand uncle, the writer of postcards, Francois Kafka— you may have heard of him. He started his own business, Kafka & Co. but the novelty firm Juniper Plastics bought him out.

I tell each patient to look me straight in the eye while I apply the freezing. Then I grasp their foot firmly with both my hands and manipulate it until the plantar wart or festering bunion lines up in the target sights of the laser. I push a button, there’s a brief buzz and the damage is done.

None of it hurts, I swear and the healing begins so quickly.

The floor was sticky where we placed our feet, the movie unexpectedly sad and I cried.

I’ve contacted professional basketball teams for their discarded footwear; my online password, you had to ask, is terror. I want to become one of those artists who paint with their feet, though my hands remain fully functional and engaged with the tasks of my dreaming.


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Philip Quinn is a Toronto writer. His novel is called "The Double," and his book of short stories is titled "Dis Location."

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