“During the next month my infatuation with Serena had all the intensity of which a middle-aged man is capable. I abandoned my office, leaving the staff to cope for themselves, and spent all my time with Serena, tending her like the most dutiful lover . At huge expense I had a complex air-conditioning system installed in my house, of a type only employed in museums. In the past I had moved Serena from warm room to cool without a thought to her complexion, assuming it to be made of some insensitive plastic, but I now carefully regulated the temperature and humidity, determined to preserve her forever. I re-arranged the furniture throughout the house to avoid bruising her arms and shoulders as I carried her from floor to floor. In the mornings I would wake eagerly to find her at the foot of my bed, then seat her by me at the breakfast table. All day she stayed within my reach, smiling at me with an expression that almost convinced me she responded to my feelings.”
“Is there a joiner called Lanz who lives here?” he asked. “Pardon?” said a young woman with black, shining eyes who was, at that moment, washing children’s underclothes in a bucket. She pointed her wet hand towards the open door of the adjoining room.
K. thought he had stepped into a meeting. A medium sized, two windowed room was filled with the most diverse crowd of people – nobody paid any attention to the person who had just entered. Close under its ceiling it was surrounded by a gallery which was also fully occupied and where the people could only stand bent down with their heads and their backs touching the ceiling. K., who found the air too stuffy, stepped out again and said to the young woman, who had probably misunderstood what he had said, “I asked for a joiner, someone by the name of Lanz.” “Yes,” said the woman, “please go on in.” K. would probably not have followed her if the woman had not gone up to him, taken hold of the door handle and said, “I’ll have to close the door after you, no-one else will be allowed in.” “Very sensible,” said K., “but it’s too full already.” But then he went back in anyway.
From Der Prozeß (“The Trial”) by Franz Kafka (written 1915, but not published until 1925)