THE TRIAL (1925) is a novel by Franz Kafka about the prosecution of a man by an abstract undisclosed authority.
05/05/11 | Novel

The Trial

by Brian McElmurry

Enter the core of the high rise you work in, and two-hole drill the trial exhibits you printed off last night and clip them. Walking down the hall with the stack of paper, you consider the parking garage and how you could jump head first off of it and put an end to your misery. You remember the last conversation you had with your dad and brother. You always think “a mood will swing more than a hung man.”

Thought of hanging yourself as you dried yourself after getting out the shower that morning. You go in the kitchen and get some ibuprofen. Looking in the cabinet, looking at the pills, you think how an overdose of this wouldn’t kill you, but would just destroy your kidneys or liver. You decide to get tea, hoping some caffeine may improve your mood.

Copy a foot-and-half tall bond transcript when Fedex calls from the elevator. You deliver the Fedexes, saying with a mechanical voice, “Here’s your Fedex.” “Here’s your Fedex.” “Here’s your Fedex.” You compliment a secretary on her new dress, “Nice dress.” And walk away with anxiety, the compliment just jumping out your mouth, and you had no real reason to worry, as you two are friends, it wasn’t flirtatious, it was the proper way to pay a compliment. You continue copying the transcript and start entering a story in the second-person about being depressed and thinking dark things.

Enter the fourth paragraph while copies run, stopping to collate sections and start more copies, writing a few sentences before starting new copies and collating more papers. You think of your friend who sent you a hand written letter full of love and inspiration. When you read it you teared up a little bit. You desire to sit in peace and write back a letter. You don’t have nice stationary. You make more copies, you enter more sentences and the copier runs out of toner.

Replace the toner. You go down a floor to the Information Technology office, also in the core of the building. The I.T. guy asks how you are, as you are work friends. You say, “Just another day of pressing buttons.”

Come upstairs and legal secretaries bring you small jobs, a small transcript to scan and a litigation file to clone. This work doesn’t afford you the thirty seconds to a minute to enter the last sentences, so you save, you copy and scan. You eat the sushi you bought at Whole Foods last night after you and the girlfriend had fought because you were depressed and kind of volatile and didn’t have time to cook, and were too upset to eat so only ate the cream of broccoli soup, which kind of hurt her stomach because it was too rich. She wants a trial break up, and you take lunch.