Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

A few delicious tidbits in here, to which we will add as the hours, days, weeks, months and years go by.

Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Postby admin » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:14 pm

29. Peckem

There was no word about Orr the next day, and Sergeant Whitcomb,
with commendable dispatch and considerable hope, dropped a
reminder in his tickler file to send a form letter over Colonel Cathcart's
signature to Orr's next of kin when nine more days had elapsed. There
was word from General Peckem's headquarters, though, and Yossarian
was drawn to the crowd of officers and enlisted men in shorts and
bathing trunks buzzing in grumpy confusion around the bulletin board
just outside the orderly room.
"What's so different about this Sunday, I want to know?" Hungry Joe
was demanding vociferously of Chief White Halfoat. "Why won't we
have a parade this Sunday when we don't have a parade every Sunday?
Huh?"
Yossarian worked his way through to the front and let out a long,
agonized groan when he read the terse announcement there:
Due to circumstances beyond my control, there
will be no big parade this Sunday afternoon.
COLONEL SCHEISSKOPF
Dobbs was right. They were indeed sending everyone overseas, even
Lieutenant Scheisskopf, who had resisted the move with all the vigor
and wisdom at his command and who reported for duty at General
Peckem's office in a mood of grave discontent.
General Peckem welcomed Colonel Scheisskopf with effusive
charm and said he was delighted to have him. An additional colonel on
his staff meant that he could now begin agitating for two additional
majors, four additional captains, sixteen additional lieutenants and
untold quantities of additional enlisted men, typewriters, desks, filing
cabinets, automobiles and other substantial equipment and supplies
that would contribute to the prestige of his position and increase his
striking power in the war he had declared against General Dreedle. He
now had two full colonels; General Dreedle had only five, and four of
those were combat commanders. With almost no intriguing at all,
General Peckem had executed a maneuver that would eventually double
his strength. And General Dreedle was getting drunk more often.
The future looked wonderful, and General Peckem contemplated his
bright new colonel enchantedly with an effulgent smile.
In all matters of consequence, General P. P. Peckem was, as he always
remarked when he was about to criticize the work of some close associate
publicly, a realist. He was a handsome, pink-skinned man of fifty-three.
His manner was always casual and relaxed, and his uniforms were
custom-made. He had silver-gray hair, slightly myopic eyes and thin,
overhanging, sensual lips. He was a perceptive, graceful, sophisticated
man who was sensitive to everyone's weaknesses but his own and found
everyone absurd but himself. General Peckem laid great, fastidious
stress on small matters of taste and style. He was always augmenting
things. Approaching events were never coming, but always upcoming. It
was not true that he wrote memorandums praising himself and recommending
that his authority be enhanced to include all combat operations;
he wrote memoranda. And the prose in the memoranda of other officers
was always turgid, stilted, or ambiguous. The errors of others were
inevitably deplorable. Regulations were stringent, and his data never was
obtained from a reliable source, but always were obtained. General
Peckem was frequently constrained. Things were often incumbent upon
him, and he frequently acted with greatest reluctance. It never escaped his
memory that neither black nor white was a color, and he never used verbal
when he meant oral. He could quote glibly from Plato, Nietzsche,
Montaigne, Theodore Roosevelt, the Marquis de Sade and Warren G.
Harding. A virgin audience like Colonel Scheisskopf was grist for
General Peckem's mill, a stimulating opportunity to throw open his
whole dazzling erudite treasure house of puns, wisecracks, slanders,
homilies, anecdotes, proverbs, epigrams, apothegms, bon mots and
other pungent sayings. He beamed urbanely as he began orienting
Colonel Scheisskopf to his new surroundings.
"My only fault," he observed with practiced good humor, watching
for the effect of his words, "is that I have no faults."
Colonel Scheisskopf didn't laugh, and General Peckem was
stunned. A heavy doubt crushed his enthusiasm. He had just opened
with one of his most trusted paradoxes, and he was positively alarmed
that not the slightest flicker of acknowledgment had moved across that
impervious face, which began to remind him suddenly, in hue and texture,
of an unused soap eraser. Perhaps Colonel Scheisskopf was tired,
General Peckem granted to himself charitably; he had come a long
way, and everything was unfamiliar. General Peckem's attitude toward
all the personnel in his command, officers and enlisted men, was
marked by the same easy spirit of tolerance and permissiveness. He
mentioned often that if the people who worked for him met him
halfway, he would meet them more than halfway, with the result, as he
always added with an astute chuckle, that there was never any meeting
of the minds at all. General Peckem thought of himself as aesthetic and
intellectual. When people disagreed with him, he urged them to be
objective.
And it was indeed an objective Peckem who gazed at Colonel
Scheisskopf encouragingly and resumed his indoctrination with an
attitude of magnanimous forgiveness. "You've come to us just in time,
Scheisskopf. The summer offensive has petered out, thanks to the
incompetent leadership with which we supply our troops, and 1 have a
crying need for a tough, experienced, competent officer like you to
help produce the memoranda upon which we rely so heavily to let people
know how good we are and how much work we're turning out. I
hope you are a prolific writer."
"I don't know anything about writing," Colonel Scheisskopf retorted
sullenly.
"Well, don't let that trouble you," General Peckem continued with
a careless flick of his wrist. "Just pass the work I assign you along to
somebody else and trust to luck. We call that delegation of responsibility.
Somewhere down near the lowest level of this coordinated
organization I run are people who do get the work done when it
reaches them, and everything manages to run along smoothly without
too much effort on my part. I suppose that's because 1am a good executive.
Nothing we do in this large department of ours is really very
important, and there's never any rush. On the other hand, it is important
that we let people know we do a great deal of it. Let me know if
you find yourself shorthanded. I've already put in a requisition for two
majors, four captains and sixteen lieutenants to give you a hand. While
none of the work we do is very important, it is important that we do a
great deal of it. Don't you agree?"
"What about the parades?" Colonel Scheisskopf broke in.
"What parades?" inquired General Peckem with a feeling that his
polish just wasn't getting across.
"Won't 1 be able to conduct parades every Sunday afternoon?"
Colonel Scheisskopf demanded petulantly.
"No. Of course not. What ever gave you that idea?"
"But they said I could."
"Who said you could?"
"The officers who sent me overseas. They told me I'd be able to
march the men around in parades all I wanted to."
"They lied to you."
"That wasn't fair, sir.
"I'm sorry, Scheisskopf. I'm willing to do everything I can to make
you happy here, but parades are out of the question. We don't have
enough men in our own organization to make up much of a parade,
and the combat units would rise up in open rebellion if we tried to
make them march. I'm afraid you'll just have to hold back awhile until
we get control. Then you can do what you want with the men."
"What about my wife?" Colonel Scheisskopf demanded with disgruntled
suspicion. "I'll still be able to send for her, won't I?"
"Your wife? Why in the world should you want to?"
"A husband and wife should be together."
"That's out of the question also."
"But they said I could send for her!"
"They lied to you again."
"They had no right to lie to me!" Colonel Scheisskopf protested, his
eyes wetting with indignation.
"Of course they had a right," General Peckem snapped with cold
and calculated severity, resolving right then and there to test the mettle
of his new colonel under fire. "Don't be such an ass, Scheisskopf.
People have a right to do anything that's not forbidden by law, and
there's no law against lying to you. Now, don't ever waste my time with
such sentimental platitudes again. Do you hear?"
"Yes, sir," murmured Colonel Scheisskopf.
Colonel Scheisskopf wilted pathetically, and General Peckem
blessed the fates that had sent him a weakling for a subordinate. A man
of spunk would have been unthinkable. Having won, General Peckem
relented. He did not enjoy humiliating his men. "If your wife were a
Wac, I could probably have her transferred here. But that's the most I
can do."
"She has a friend who's a Wac," Colonel Scheisskopf offered hopefully.
"I'm afraid that isn't good enough. Have Mrs. Scheisskopf join the
Wacs if she wants to, and I'll bring her over here. But in the meantime,
my dear Colonel, let's get back to our little war, if we may. Here,
briefly, is the military situation that confronts us." General Peckem
rose and moved toward a rotary rack of enormous colored maps.
Colonel Scheisskopf blanched. "We're not going into combat, are
we?" he blurted out in horror.
"Oh, no, of course not," General Peckem assured him indulgently,
with a companionable laugh. "Please give me some credit, won't you?
That's why we're still down here in Rome. Certainly, I'd like to be up
in Florence, too, where I could keep in closer touch with ex-P.F.C.
Wintergreen. But Florence is still a bit too near the actual fighting to
suit me." General Peckem lifted a wooden pointer and swept the rubber
tip cheerfully across Italy from one coast to the other. "These,
Scheisskopf, are the Germans. They're dug into these mountains very
solidly in the Gothic Line and won't be pushed out till late next spring,
although that isn't going to stop those clods we have in charge from
trying. That gives us in Special Services almost nine months to achieve
our objective. And that objective is to capture every bomber group in
the U.S. Air Force. After all," said General Peckem with his low, well-modulated
chuckle, "if dropping bombs on the enemy isn't a special
service, I wonder what in the world is. Don't you agree?" Colonel
Scheisskopf gave no indication that he did agree, but General Peckem
was already too entranced with his own loquacity to notice. "Our position
right now is excellent. Reinforcements like yourself keep arriving,
and we have more than enough time to plan our entire strategy carefully.
Our immediate goal," he said, "is right here." And General
Peckem swung his pointer south to the island of Pianosa and tapped it
significantly upon a large word that had been lettered on there with
black grease pencil. The word was DREEDLE.
Colonel Scheisskopf, squinting, moved very close to the map, and
for the first time since he entered the room a light of comprehension
shed a dim glow over his stolid face. "I think I understand," he
exclaimed. "Yes, I know I understand. Our first job is to capture
Dreedle away from the enemy. Right?"
General Peckem laughed benignly, "No, Scheisskopf. Dreedle's on
our side, and Dreedle is the enemy. General Dreedle commands four
bomb groups that we simply must capture in order to continue our
offensive. Conquering General Dreedle will give us the aircraft and
vital bases we need to carry our operations into other areas. And that
battle, by the way, is just about won." General Peckem drifted toward
the window, laughing quietly again, and settled back against the sill
with his arms folded, greatly satisfied by his own wit and by his knowledgeable, blase impudence. The skilled choice of words he was exercising
was exquisitely titillating. General Peckem liked listening to
himself talk, liked most of all listening to himself talk about himself.
"General Dreedle simply doesn't know how to cope with me," he
gloated. "I keep invading his jurisdiction with comments and criticisms
that are really none of my business, and he doesn't know what to do
about it. When he accuses me of seeking to undermine him, 1 merely
answer that my only purpose in calling attention to his errors is to
strengthen our war effort by eliminating inefficiency. Then 1 ask him
innocently if he's opposed to improving our war effort. Oh, he grumbles
and he bristles and he bellows, but he's really quite helpless. He's
simply out of style. He's turning into quite a souse, you know. The
poor blockhead shouldn't even be a general. He has no tone, no tone
at all. Thank God he isn't going to last." General Peckem chuckled
with jaunty relish and sailed smoothly along toward a favorite learned
allusion. "I sometimes think of myself as Fortinbras -- ha, ha -- in the
play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, who just keeps circling and circling
around the action until everything else falls apart, and then strolls
in at the end to pick up all the pieces for himself. Shakespeare is-"
"I don't know anything about plays," Colonel Scheisskopf broke in
bluntly.
General Peckem looked at him with amazement. Never before had
a reference of his to Shakespeare's hallowed Hamlet been ignored and
trampled upon with such rude indifference. He began to wonder with
genuine concern just what sort of shithead the Pentagon had foisted on
him. "What do you know about?" he asked acidly.
"Parades," answered Colonel Scheisskopf eagerly. "Will 1 be able to
send out memos about parades?"
"A:, long as you don't schedule any." General Peckem returned to
his chair still wearing a frown. "And as long as they don't interfere with
your main assignment of recommending that the authority of Special
Services be expanded to include combat activities."
"Can I schedule parades and then call them off?"
General Peckem brightened instantly. "Why, that's a wonderful
ideal But just send out weekly announcements postponing the parades.
Don't even bother to schedule them. That would be infinitely more
disconcerting." General Peckem was blossoming spryly with cordiality
again. "Yes, Scheisskopf," he said, "I think you've really hit on
something. After all, what combat commander could possibly quarrel
with us for notifying his men that there won't be a parade that coming
Sunday? We'd be merely stating a widely known fact. But the implication
is beautiful. Yes, positively beautiful. We're implying that we could
schedule a parade if we chose to. I'm going to like you, Scheisskopf.
Stop in and introduce yourself to Colonel Cargill and tell him what
you're up to. 1 know you two will like each other."
Colonel Cargill came storming into General Peckem's office a
minute later in a furor of timid resentment. "I've been here longer than
Scheisskopf," he complained. "Why can't 1 be the one to call off the
parades?"
"Because Scheisskopf has experience with parades, and you haven't.
You can call off U.S.A. shows if you want to. In fact, why don't you?
Just think of all the places that won't be getting a U.S.A. show on any
given day. Think of all the places each big-name entertainer won't be
visiting. Yes, Cargill, 1 think you've hit on something. 1 think you've
just thrown open a whole new area of operation for us. Tell Colonel
Scheisskopf 1 want him to work along under your supervision on this.
And send him in to see me when you're through giving him instructions."
"Colonel Cargill says you told him you want me to work along
under his supervision on the U.S.A. project," Colonel Scheisskopf
complained.
"I told him no such thing," answered General Peckem. "Confidentially,
Scheisskopf, I'm not too happy with Colonel Cargill. He's bossy
and he's slow. I'd like you to keep a close eye on what he's doing and
see if you can't get a little more work out of him."
"He keeps butting in," Colonel Cargill protested. "He won't let me
get any work done."
"There's something very funny about Scheisskopf," General
Peckem agreed reflectively. "Keep a very close eye on him and see if
you can't find out what he's up to."
"Now he's butting into my business!" Colonel Scheisskopf cried.
"Don't let it worry you, Scheisskopf," said General Peckem, congratulating
himself on how adeptly he had fit Colonel Scheisskopf into
his standard method of operation. Already his two colonels were
barely on speaking terms. "Colonel Cargill envies you because of the
splendid job you're doing on parades. He's afraid I'm going to put you
in charge of bomb patterns."
Colonel Scheisskopf was all ears. "What are bomb patterns?"
"Bomb patterns?" General Peckem repeated, twinkling with self-satisfied
good humor. "A bomb pattern is a term 1 dreamed up just several weeks ago. It means nothing, but you'd" be surprised at how rapidly
it's caught on. Why, I've got all sorts of people convinced I think
it's important for the bombs to explode close together and make a neat
aerial photograph. There's one colonel in Pianosa who's hardly concerned
any more with whether he hits the target or not. Let's fly over
and have some fun with him today. It will make Colonel Cargill jealous,
and I learned from Wintergreen this morning that General
Dreedle will be off in Sardinia. It drives General Dreedle insane to find
out I've been inspecting one of his installations while he's been off
inspecting another. We may even get there in time for the briefing.
They'll be bombing a tiny undefended village, reducing the whole
community to rubble. I have it from Wintergreen -- Wintergreen's an
ex-sergeant now, by the way-that the mission is entirely unnecessary.
Its only purpose is to delay German reinforcements at a time when we
aren't even planning an offensive. But that's the way things go when
you elevate mediocre people to positions of authority." He gestured
languidly toward his gigantic map of Italy. "Why, this tiny mountain
village is so insignificant that it isn't even there."
They arrived at Colonel Cathcart's group too late to attend the preliminary
briefing and hear Major Danby insist, "But it is there, I tell
you. It's there, it's there."
"It's where?" Dunbar demanded defiantly, pretending not to see.
"It's right there on the map where this road makes this slight turn.
Can't you see this slight turn on your map?"
"No, I can't see it."
"I can see it," volunteered Havermeyer, and marked the spot on
Dunbar's map. "And here's a good picture of the village right on these
photographs. I understand the whole thing. The purpose of the mission
is to knock the whole village sliding down the side of the mountain
and create a roadblock that the Germans will have to clear. Is that
right?"
"That's right," said Major Danby, mopping his perspiring forehead
with his handkerchief. "I'm glad somebody here is beginning to understand.
These two armored divisions will be coming down from Austria
into Italy along this road. The village is built on such a steep incline
that all the rubble from the houses and other buildings you destroy will
certainly tumble right down and pile up on the road."
"What the hell difference will it make?" Dunbar wanted to know, as
Yossarian watched him excitedly with a mixture of awe and adulation.
"It will only take them a couple of days to clear it."
Major Danby was trying to avoid an argument. "Well, it apparently
makes some difference to Headquarters," he answered in a conciliatory
tone. "I suppose that's why they ordered the mission."
"Have the people in the village been warned?" asked McWatt.
Major Danby was dismayed that McWatt too was registering opposition.
"No, I don't think so."
"Haven't we dropped any leaflets telling them that this time we'll be
flying over to hit them?" asked Yossarian. "Can't we even tip them off
so they'll get out of the way?"
"No, I don't think so." Major Danby was sweating some more and
still shifting his eyes about uneasily. "The Germans might find out and
choose another road. I'm not sure about any of this. I'm just making
assumptions. "
"They won't even take shelter," Dunbar argued bitterly. "They'll
pour out into the streets to wave when they see our planes coming, all
the children and dogs and old people. Jesus Christ! Why can't we leave
them alone?"
"Why can't we create the roadblock somewhere else?" asked McWatt.
"Why must it be there?"
"I don't know," Major Danby answered unhappily. "I don't know.
Look, fellows, we've got to have some confidence in the people above
us who issue our orders. They know what they're doing."
"The hell they do," said Dunbar.
"What's the trouble?" inquired Colonel Korn, moving leisurely
across the briefing room with his hands in his pockets and his tan shirt
baggy.
"Oh, no trouble, Colonel," said Major Danby, trying nervously to
cover up. "We're just discussing the mission."
"They don't want to bomb the village," Havermeyer snickered, giving
Major Danby away.
"You prick!" Yossarian said to Havermeyer.
"You leave Havermeyer alone," Colonel Korn ordered Yossarian
curtly. He recognized Yossarian as the drunk who had accosted him
roughly at the officers' club one night before the first mission to
Bologna, and he swung his displeasure prudently to Dunbar. "Why
don't you want to bomb the village?"
"It's cruel, that's why."
"Cruel?" asked Colonel Korn with cold good humor, frightened
only momentarily by the uninhibited vehemence of Dunbar's hostility.
"Would it be any less cruel to let those two German divisions down to
fight with our troops? American lives are at stake, too, you know.
Would you rather see American blood spilled?"
"American blood is being spilled. But those people are living up
there in peace. Why can't we leave them the hell alone?"
"Yes, it's easy for you to talk," Colonel Korn jeered. "You're safe
here in Pianosa. It won't make any difference to you when these
German reinforcements arrive, will it?"
Dunbar turned crimson with embarrassment and replied in a voice
that was suddenly defensive. "Why can't we create the roadblock
somewhere else? Couldn't we bomb the slope of a mountain or the
road itself?"
"Would you rather go back to Bologna?" The question, asked quietly,
rang out like a shot and created a silence in the room that was
awkward and menacing. Yossarian prayed intensely, with shame, that
Dunbar would keep his mouth shut. Dunbar dropped his gaze, and
Colonel Korn knew he had won. "No, I thought not," he continued
with undisguised scorn. "You know, Colonel Cathcart and I have to go
to a lot of trouble to get you a milk run like this. If you'd sooner fly
missions to Bologna, Spezia and Ferrara, we can get those targets with
no trouble at all." His eyes gleamed dangerously behind his rimless
glasses, and his muddy jowls were square and hard. "Just let me know."
"I would," responded Havermeyer eagerly with another boastful
snicker. "I like to fly into Bologna straight and level with my head in
the bombsight and listen to all that flak pumping away all around me.
I get a big kick out of the way the men come charging over to me after
the mission and call me dirty names. Even the enlisted men get sore
enough to curse me and want to take socks at me."
Colonel Korn chucked Havermeyer under the chin jovially, ignoring
him, and then addressed himself to Dunbar and Yossarian in a dry
monotone. "You've got my sacred word for it. Nobody is more distressed
about those lousy wops up in the hills than Colonel Cathcart
and myself. Mais c'est la guerre. Try to remember that we didn't start
the war and Italy did. That we weren't the aggressors and Italy was.
And that we couldn't possibly inflict as much cruelty on the Italians,
Germans, Russians and Chinese as they're already inflicting on themselves."
Colonel Korn gave Major Danby's shoulder a friendly squeeze
without changing his unfriendly expression. "Carry on with the briefing,
Danby. And make sure they understand the importance of a tight
bomb pattern."
"Oh, no, Colonel," Major Danby blurted out, blinking upward.
"Not for this target. I've told them to space their bombs sixty feet apart
so that we'll have a roadblock the full length of the village instead of in
just one spot. It will be a much more effective roadblock with a loose
bomb pattern."
"We don't care about the roadblock," Colonel Korn informed him.
"Colonel Cathcart wants to come out of this mission with a good clean
aerial photograph he won't be ashamed to send through channels.
Don't forget that General Peckem will be here for the full briefing, and
you know how he feels about bomb patterns. Incidentally, Major, you'd
better hurry up with these details and clear out before he gets here.
General Peckem can't stand you."
"Oh, no, Colonel," Major Danby corrected obligingly. "It's General
Dreedle who can't stand me."
"General Peckem can't stand you either. In fact, no one can stand
you. Finish what you're doing, Danby, and disappear. I'll conduct the
briefing."
"Where's Major Danby?" Colonel Cathcart inquired, after he had
driven up for the full briefing with General Peckem and Colonel
Scheisskopf.
"He asked permission to leave as soon as he saw you driving up,"
answered Colonel Korn. "He's afraid General Peckem doesn't like
him. I was going to conduct the briefing anyway. I do a much better
job."
"Splendid!" said Colonel Cathcart. "No!" Colonel Cathcart countermanded
himself an instant later when he remembered how good
a job Colonel Korn had done before General Dreedle at the first
Avignon briefing. "I'll do it myself."
Colonel Cathcart braced himself with the knowledge that he was
one of General Peckem's favorites and took charge of the meeting,
snapping his words out crisply to the attentive audience of subordinate
officers with the bluff and dispassionate toughness he had picked up
from General Dreedle. He knew he cut a fine figure there on the platform
with his open shirt collar, his cigarette holder, and his close-cropped,
gray-tipped curly black hair. He breezed along beautifully,
even emulating certain characteristic mispronunciations of General
Dreedle's, and he was not the least bit intimidated by General Peckem's
new colonel until he suddenly recalled that General Peckem
detested General Dreedle. Then his voice cracked; and all confidence
left him. He stumbled ahead through instinct in burning humiliation.
He was suddenly in terror of Colonel Scheisskopf. Another colonel in
the area meant another rival, another enemy, another person who
hated him. And this one was tough! A horrifying thought occurred to
Colonel Cathcart: Suppose Colonel Scheisskopf had already bribed all
the men in the room to begin moaning, as they had done at the first
Avignon mission. How could he silence them? What a terrible black
eye that would be! Colonel Cathcart was seized with such fright that
he almost beckoned to Colonel Korn. Somehow he held himself
together and synchronized the watches. When he had done that, he
knew he had won, for he could end now at any time. He had come
through in a crisis. He wanted to laugh in Colonel Scheisskopf's face
with triumph and spite. He had proved himself brilliantly under pressure,
and he concluded the briefing with an inspiring peroration that
every instinct told him was a masterful exhibition of eloquent tact and
subtlety.
"Now, men," he exhorted. "We have with us today a very distinguished
guest, General Peckem from Special Services, the man who
gives us all our softball bats, comic books and U.S.A. shows. I want to
dedicate this mission to him. Go on out there and bomb--for me, for
your country, for God, and for that great American, General P. P.
Peckem. And let's see you put all those bombs on a dime!"
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Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Postby admin » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:15 pm

30. Dunbar

Yossarian no longer gave a damn where his bombs fell, although he did
not go as far as Dunbar, who dropped his bombs hundreds of yards
past the village and would face a court-martial if it could ever be shown
he had done it deliberately. Without a word even to Yossarian, Dunbar
had 'washed his hands of the mission. The fall in the hospital had either
shown him the light or scrambled his brains; it was impossible to say
which.
Dunbar seldom laughed any more and seemed to be wasting away.
He snarled belligerently at superior officers, even at Major Danby, and
was crude and surly and profane even in front of the chaplain, who was
afraid of Dunbar now and seemed to be wasting away also. The chaplain's
pilgrimage to Wintergreen had proved abortive; another shrine
was empty. Wintergreen was too busy to see the chaplain himself. A
brash assistant brought the chaplain a stolen Zippo cigarette lighter as
a gift and informed him condescendingly that Wintergreen was too
deeply involved with wartime activities to concern himself with matters
so trivial as the number of missions men had to fly. The chaplain
worried about Dunbar and brooded more over Yossarian now that Orr
was gone. To the chaplain, who lived by himself in a spacious tent
whose pointy top sealed him in gloomy solitude each night like the cap
of a tomb, it seemed incredible that Yossarian really preferred living
alone and wanted no roommates.
As a lead bombardier again, Yossarian had McWatt for a pilot, and
that was one consolation, although he was still so utterly undefended.
There was no way to fight back. He could not even see McWatt and
the co-pilot from his post in the nose. All he could ever see was Aarfy,
with whose fustian, moon-faced ineptitude he had finally lost all
patience, and there were minutes of agonizing fury and frustration in
the sky when he hungered to be demoted again to a wing plane with a
loaded machine gun in the compartment instead of the precision
bombsight that he really had no need for, a powerful, heavy fifty-caliber
machine gun he could seize vengefully in both hands and turn
loose savagely against all the demons tyrannizing him: at the smoky
black puffs of the flak itself; at the German antiaircraft gunners below
whom he could not even see and could not possibly harm with his
machine gun even if he ever did take the time to open fire; at Havermeyer
and Appleby in the lead plane for their fearless straight and level
bomb run on the third mission to Bologna where the flak from two
hundred and twenty-four cannons had knocked out one of Orr's
engines for the very last time and sent him down ditching into the sea
between Genoa and La Spezia just before the brief thunderstorm
broke.
Actually, there was not much he could do with that powerful
machine gun except load it and test-fire a few rounds. It was no more
use to him than the bombsight. He could really cut loose with it
against attacking German fighters, but there were no German fighters
any more, and he could not even swing it all the way around into the
helpless faces of pilots like Huple and Dobbs and order them back
down carefully to the ground, as he had once ordered Kid Sampson
back down, which is exactly what he did want to do to Dobbs and
Huple on the hideous first mission to Avignon the moment he realized
the fantastic pickle he was in, the moment he found himself aloft in a
wing plane with Dobbs and Huple in the flight headed by Havermeyer
and Appleby. Dobbs and Huple? Huple and Dobbs? Who were they?
What preposterous madness to float in thin air two miles high on an
inch or two of metal, sustained from death by the meager skill and
intelligence of two vapid strangers, a beardless kid named Huple and a
nervous nut like Dobbs, who really did go nuts right there in the plane,
running amuck over the target without leaving his co-p\lot's seat and
grabbing the controls from. Huple to plunge them all down into that
chilling dive that tore Yossarian's headset loose and brought them right
hack inside the dense flak from which they had almost escaped. The
next thing he knew, another stranger, a radio-gunner named Snowden,
was dying in back. It was impossible to be positive that Dobbs had
killed him, for when Yossarian plugged his headset back in, Dobbs was
already on the intercom pleading for someone to go up front and help
the bombardier. And almost immediately Snowden broke in, whimpering,
"Htlp me. Please help me. I'm cold. I'm cold." And Yossarian
crawled slowly out of the nose and up on top of the bomb bay and
wriggled back into the rear section of the plane-passing the first-aid
kit on the way that he had to return for-to treat Snowden for the
wrong wound, the yawning, raw, melon-shaped hole as big as a football in the outside of his thigh, the unsevered, blood-soaked muscle
fibers inside pulsating weirdly like blind things with lives of their own,
the oval, naked wound that was almost a foot long and made Yossarian
moan in shock and sympathy the instant he spied it and nearly made
him vomit. And the small, slight tail gunner was lying on the floor
beside Snowden in a dead faint, his face as white as a handkerchief, so
that Yossarian sprang forward with revulsion to help him first.
Yes, in the long run, he was much safer flying with McWatt, and he
was not even safe with McWatt, who loved flying too much and went
buzzing boldly inches off the ground with Yossarian in the nose on the
way back from the training flight to break in the new bombardier in
the whole replacement crew Colonel Cathcart had obtained after Orr
was lost. The practice bomb range was on the other side of Pianosa,
and, flying back, McWatt edged the belly of the lazing, slow-cruising
plane just over the crest of mountains in the middle and then, instead
of maintaining altitude, jolted both engines open all the way, lurched
up on one side and, to Yossarian's astonishment, began following the
falling land down as fast as the plane would go, wagging his wings gaily
and skimming with a massive, grinding, hammering roar over each
rocky rise and dip of the rolling terrain like a dizzy gull over wild
brown waves. Yossarian was petrified. The new bombardier beside him
sat demurely with a bewitched grin and kept whistling "Whee!" and
Yossarian wanted to reach out and crush his idiotic face with one hand
as he flinched and flung himself away from the boulders and hillocks
and lashing branches of trees that loomed up above him out in front
and rushed past just underneath in a sinking, streaking blur. No one
had a right to take such frightful risks with his life.
"Go up, go up, go up!" he shouted frantically at McWatt, hating
him venomously, but McWatt was singing buoyantly over the intercom
and probably couldn't hear. Yossarian, blazing with rage and almost
sobbing for revenge, hurled himself down into the crawlway and
fought his way through against the dragging weight of gravity and
inertia until he arrived at the main section and pulled himself up to the
flight deck, to stand trembling behind McWatt in the pilot's seat. He
looked desperately about for a gun, a gray-black .45 automatic that he
could cock and ram right up against the base of McWatt's skull. There
was no gun. There was no hunting knife either, and no other weapon
with which he could bludgeon or stab, and Yossarian grasped and
jerked the collar of McWatt's coveralls in tightening fists and shouted
to him to go up, go up. The land was still swimming by underneath
and flashing by overhead on both sides. McWatt looked back at
Yossarian and laughed joyfully as though Yossarian were sharing his
fun. Yossarian slid both hands around McWatt's bare throat and
squeezed. McWatt turned stiff.
"Go up," Yossarian ordered unmistakably through his teeth in a low,
menacing voice. "Or I'll kill you."
Rigid with caution, McWatt cut the motors back and climbed gradually.
Yossarian's hands weakened on McWatt's neck and slid down off
his shoulders to dangle inertly. He was not angry any more. He was
ashamed. When McWatt turned, he was sorry the hands were his and
wished there were someplace where he could bury them. They felt
dead.
McWatt gazed at him deeply. There was no friendliness in his stare.
"Boy," he said coldly, "you sure must be in pretty bad shape. You ought
to go home."
"They won't let me," Yossarian answered with averted eyes, and
crept away.
Yossarian stepped down from the flight deck and seated himself on
the floor, hanging his head with guilt and remorse. He was covered
with sweat.
McWatt set course directly back toward the field. Yossarian wondered
whether McWatt would now go to the operations tent to see
Piltchard and Wren and request that Yossarian never be assigned to his
plane again, just as Yossarian had gone surreptitiously to speak to them
about Dobbs and Huple and Orr and, unsuccessfully, about Aarfy. He
had never seen McWatt look displeased before, had never seen him in
any but the most lighthearted mood, and he wondered whether he had
just lost another friend.
But McWatt winked at him reassuringly as he climbed down from
the plane and joshed hospitably with the credulous new pilot and bombardier
during the jeep ride back to the squadron, although he did not
address a word to Yossarian until all four had returned their parachutes
and separated and the two of them were walking side by side toward
their own row of tents. Then McWatt's sparsely freckled tan Scotch-
Irish face broke suddenly into a smile and he dug his knuckles playfully
into Yossarian's ribs, as though throwing a punch.
"You louse," he laughed. "Were you really going to kill me up
there?"
Yossarian grinned penitently and shook his head. "No, I don't think
so."
"I didn't realize you got it so bad. Boy! Why don't you talk to somebody
about it?"
"I talk to everybody about it. What the hell's the matter with you?
Don't you ever hear me?"
"I guess I never really believed you."
"Aren't you ever afraid?"
"Maybe I ought to be."
"Not even on the missions?"
"I guess I just don't have brains enough." McWatt laughed sheepishly.
"There are so many ways for me to get killed," Yossarian commented,
"and you had to find one more."
McWatt smiled again. "Say, I bet it must really scare you when I
buzz your tent, huh?" .
"It scares me to death. I've told you that."
"I thought it was just the noise you were complaining about."
McWatt made a resigned shrug. "Oh, well, what the hell," he sang. "I
guess I'll just have to give it up."
But McWatt was incorrigible, and, while he never buzzed Yossarian's
tent again, he never missed an opportunity to buzz the beach and
roar like a fierce and low-flying thunderbolt over the raft in the water
and the secluded hollow in the sand where Yossarian lay feeling up
Nurse Duckett or playing hearts, poker or pinochle with Nately,
Dunbar and Hungry Joe. Yossarian met Nurse Duckett almost every
afternoon that both were free and came with her to the beach on the
other side of the narrow swell of shoulder-high dunes separating them
from the area in which the other officers and enlisted men went swimming
nude. Nately, Dunbar and Hungry Joe would come there, too.
McWatt would occasionally join them, and often Aarfy, who always
arrived pudgily in full uniform and never removed any of his clothing
but his shoes and his hat; Aarfy never went swimming. The other men
wore swimming trunks in deference to Nurse Duckett, and in deference
also to Nurse Cramer, who accompanied Nurse Duckett and
Yossarian to the beach every time and sat haughtily by herself ten yards
away. No one but Aarfy ever made reference to the naked men sunbathing
in full view farther down the beach or jumping and diving
from the enormous white-washed raft that bobbed on empty oil drums
out beyond the silt sand bar. Nurse Cramer sat by herself because she
was angry with Yossarian and disappointed in Nurse Duckett.
Nurse Sue Ann Duckett despised Aarfy, and that was another one of
the numerous fetching traits about Nurse Duckett that Yossarian enjoyed.
He enjoyed Nurse Sue Ann Duckett's long white legs and supple,
callipygous ass; he often neglected to remember that she was quite slim
and fragile from the waist up and hurt her unintentionally in moments
of passion when he hugged her too roughly. He loved her manner of
sleepy acquiescence when they lay on the beach at dusk. He drew solace
and sedation from her nearness. He had a craving to touch her always,
to remain always in physical communication. He liked to encircle her
ankle loosely with his fingers as he played cards with Nately, Dunbar
and Hungry Joe, to lightly and lovingly caress the downy skin of her fair,
smooth thigh with the backs of his nails or, dreamily, sensuously, almost
unconsciously, slide his proprietary, respectful hand up the shell-like
ridge of her spine beneath the elastic strap of the top of the two-piece
bathing suit she always wore to contain and cover her tiny, long-nippled
breasts. He loved Nurse Duckett's serene, flattered response, the sense
of attachment to him she displayed proudly. Hungry Joe had a craving
to feel Nurse Duckett up, too, and was restrained more than once by
Yossarian's forbidding glower. Nurse Duckett flirted with Hungry Joe
just to keep him in heat, and her round light-brown eyes glimmered
with mischief every time Yossarian rapped her sharply with his elbow or
fist to make her stop.
The men played cards on a towel, undershirt, or blanket, and Nurse
Duckett mixed the extra deck of cards, 'sitting with her back resting
against a sand dune. When she was not shuffling the extra deck of
cards, she sat squinting into a tiny pocket mirror, brushing mascara on
her curling reddish eyelashes in a bird brained effort to make them
longer permanently. Occasionally she was able to stack the cards or
spoil the deck in a way they did not discover until they were well into
the game, and she laughed and glowed with blissful gratification when
they all hurled their cards down disgustedly and began punching her
sharply on the arms or legs as they called her filthy names and warned
her to stop fooling around. She would prattle nonsensically when they
were striving hardest to think, and a pink flush of elation crept into her
cheeks when they gave her more sharp raps on the arms and legs with
their fists and told her to shut up. Nurse Duckett reveled in such attention
and ducked her short chestnut bangs with joy when Yossarian and
the others focused upon her. It gave her a peculiar feeling of warm and'
expectant well-being to know that so many naked boys and men were
idling close by on the other side of the sand dunes. She had only
to stretch her neck or rise on some pretext to see twenty or forty
undressed males lounging or playing ball in the sunlight. Her own
body was such a familiar and unremarkable thing to her that she was
puzzled by the convulsive ecstasy men could take from it, by the
intense and amusing need they had merely to touch it, to reach out
urgently and press it, squeeze it, pinch it, rub it. She did not understand
Yossarian's lust; but she was willing to take his word for it.
Evenings when Yossarian felt horny he brought Nurse Duckett to the
beach with two blankets and enjoyed making love to her with most of
their clothes on more than he sometimes enjoyed making love to all the
vigorous bare amoral girls in Rome. Frequently they went to the beach
at night and did not make love, but just lay shivering between the blankets
against each other to ward off the brisk, damp chill. The ink-black
nights were turning cold, the stars frosty and fewer. The raft swayed in
the ghostly trail of moonlight and seemed to be sailing away. A marked
hint of cold weather penetrated the air. Other men were just starting to
build stoves and came to Yossarian's tent during the day to marvel at
Orr's workmanship. It thrilled Nurse Duckett rapturously that Yossarian
could not keep his hands off her when they were together, although she
would not let him slip them inside her bathing shorts during the day
when anyone was near enough to see, not even when the only witness
was Nurse Cramer, who sat on the other side of her sand dune with her
reproving nose in the air and pretended not to see anything.
Nurse Cramer had stopped speaking to Nurse Duckett, her best
friend, because of her liaison with Yossarian, but still went everywhere
with Nurse Duckett since Nurse Duckett was her best friend. She did
not approve of Yossarian or his friends. When they stood up and went
swimming with Nurse Duckett, Nurse Cramer stood up and went
swimming, too, maintaining the same ten-yard distance between them,
and maintaining her silence, snubbing them even in the water. When
they laughed and splashed, she laughed and splashed; when they dived,
she dived; when they swam to the sand bar and rested, Nurse Cramer
swam to the sand bar and rested. When they came out, she came out,
dried her shoulders with her own towel and seated herself aloofly in
her own spot, her back rigid and a ring of reflected sunlight burnishing
her light-blond hair like a halo. Nurse Cramer was prepared to
begin talking to Nurse Duckett again if she repented and apologized.
Nurse Duckett preferred things the way they were. For a long time she
had wanted to give Nurse Cramer a rap to make her shut up.
Nurse Duckett found Yossarian wonderful and was already trying to
change him. She loved to watch him taking short naps with his face
down and his arm thrown across her, or staring bleakly at the endless
tame, quiet waves breaking like pet puppy dogs against the shore,
scampering lightly up the sand a foot or two and then trotting away.
She was calm in his silences. She knew she did not bore him, and
she buffed or painted her fingernails studiously while he dozed or
brooded and the desultory warm afternoon breeze vibrated delicately
on the surface of the beach. She loved to look at his wide, long, sinewy
back with its bronzed, unblemished skin. She loved to bring him to
flame instantly by taking his whole ear in her mouth suddenly and running
her hand down his front all the way. She loved to make him burn
and suffer till dark, then satisfy him. Then kiss him adoringly because
she had brought him such bliss.
Yossarian was never lonely with Nurse Duckett, who really did
know how to keep her mouth shut and was just capricious enough. He
was haunted and tormented by the vast, boundless ocean. He wondered
mournfully, as Nurse Duckett buffed her nails, about all the people
who had died under water. There were surely more than a million
already. Where were they? What insects had eaten their flesh? He
imagined the awful impotence of breathing in helplessly quarts and
quarts of water. Yossarian followed the small fishing boats and military
launches plying back and forth far out and found them unreal; it did
not seem true that there were full-sized men aboard, going somewhere
every time. He looked toward stony Elba, and his eyes automatically
searched overhead for the fluffy, white, turnip-shaped cloud in which
Clevinger had vanished. He peered at the vaporous Italian skyline and
thought of Orr. Clevinger and Orr. Where had they gone? Yossarian
had once stood on a jetty at dawn and watched a tufted round log
that was drifting toward him on the tide turn unexpectedly into the
bloated face of a drowned man; it was the first dead person he had ever
seen. He thirsted for life and reached out ravenously to grasp and hold
Nurse Duckett's flesh. He studied every floating object fearfully for
some gruesome sign of Clevinger and Orr, prepared for any morbid
shock but the. shock McWatt gave him one day with the plane that
came blasting suddenly into sight out of the distant stillness and hurtled
mercilessly along the shore line with a great growling, clattering
roar over the bobbing raft on which blond, pale Kid Sampson, his
naked sides scrawny even from so far away, leaped clownishly up to
touch it at the exact moment some arbitrary gust of wind or minor miscalculation
of McWatt's senses dropped the speeding plane down just
low enough for a propeller to slice him half away.
Even people who were not there remembered vividly exactly what
happened next. There was the briefest, softest tsst! filtering audibly
through the shattering, overwhelming howl of the plane's engines, and
then there were just Kid Sampson's two pale, skinny legs, still joined by
strings somehow at the bloody truncated hips, standing stock-still on
the raft for what seemed a full minute or two before they toppled over
backward into the water finally with a faint, echoing splash and turned
completely upside down so that only the grotesque toes and the
plaster-white soles of Kid Sampson's feet remained in view.
On the beach, all hell broke loose. Nurse Cramer materialized out
of thin air suddenly and was weeping hysterically against Yossarian's
chest while Yossarian hugged her shoulders and soothed her. His other
arm bolstered Nurse Duckett, who was trembling and sobbing against
him, too, her long, angular face dead white. Everyone at the beach was
screaming and running, and the men sounded like women. They scampered
for their things in panic, stooping hurriedly and looking askance
at each gentle, knee-high wave bubbling in as though some ugly, red,
grisly organ like a liver or a lung might come washing right up against
them. Those in the water were struggling to get out, forgetting in their
haste to swim, wailing, walking, held back in their flight by the viscous,
clinging sea as though by a biting wind. Kid Sampson had rained all
over. Those who spied drops of him on their limbs or torsos drew back
with terror and revulsion, as though trying to shrink away from their
own odious skins. Everybody ran in a sluggish stampede, shooting tortured,
horrified glances back, filling the deep, shadowy, rustling woods
with their frail gasps and cries. Yossarian drove both stumbling, faltering
women before him frantically, shoving them and prodding them to
make them hurry, and raced back with a curse to help when Hungry
Joe tripped on the blanket or the camera case he was carrying and fell
forward on his face in the mud of the stream.
Back at the squadron everyone already knew. Men in uniform were
screaming and running there too, or standing motionless in one spot,
rooted in awe, like Sergeant Knight and Doc Daneeka as they gravely
craned their heads upward and watched the guilty, banking, forlorn
airplane with McWatt circle and circle slowly and climb.
"Who is it?" Yossarian shouted anxiously at Doc Daneeka as he ran
up, breathless and limp, his somber eyes burning with a misty, hectic
anguish. "Who's in the plane?"
"McWatt," said Sergeant Knight. "He's got the two new pilots with
him on a training flight. Doc Daneeka's up there, too."
"I'm right here," contended Doc Daneeka, in a strange and troubled
voice, darting an anxious look at Sergeant Knight.
"Why doesn't he come down?" Yossarian exclaimed in despair.
"Why does he keep going up?"
"He's probably afraid to come down," Sergeant Knight answered,
without moving his solemn gaze from McWatt's solitary climbing airplane.
"He knows what kind of trouble he's in."
And McWatt kept climbing higher and higher, nosing his droning
airplane upward evenly in a slow, oval spiral that carried him far out
over the water as he headed south and far in over the russet foothills
when he had circled the landing field again and was flying north. He
was soon up over five thousand feet. His engines were soft as whisipers.
A white parachute popped open suddenly in a surprising puff. A second
parachute popped open a few moments later and coasted down,
like the first, directly in toward the clearing of the landing strip. There
was no motion on the ground. The plane continued south for thirty
seconds more, following the same pattern, familiar and predictable
now, and McWatt lifted a wing and banked gracefully around into his
turn.
"Two more to go," said Sergeant Knight. "McWatt and Doc Daneeka."
"I'm right here, Sergeant Knight," Doc Daneeka told him plaintively.
"I'm not in the plane."
"Why don't they jump?" Sergeant Knight asked, pleading aloud to
himself. "Why don't they jump?"
"It doesn't make sense," grieved Doc Daneeka, biting his lip. "It just
doesn't make sense."
But Yossarian understood suddenly why McWatt wouldn't jump,
and went running uncontrollably down the whole length of the squadron
after McWatt's plane, waving his arms and shouting up at him
imploringly to come down, McWatt, come down; but no one seemed
to hear, certainly not McWatt, and a great, choking moan tore from
Yossarian's throat as McWatt turned again, dipped his wings once in
salute, decided oh, well, what the hell, and flew into a mountain.
Colonel Cathcart was so upset by the deaths of Kid Sampson and
McWatt that he raised the missions to sixty-five.
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Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Postby admin » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:15 pm

31. Mrs. Daneeka

When Colonel Cathcart learned that Doc Daneeka too had been killed
in McWatt's plane, he increased the number of missions to seventy.
The first person in the squadron to find out that Doc Daneeka was
dead was Sergeant Towser, who had been informed earlier by the man
in the control tower that Doc Daneeka's name was down as a passenger
on the pilot's manifest McWatt had filed before taking off. Sergeant
Towser brushed away a tear and struck Doc Daneeka's name
from the roster of squadron personnel. With lips still quivering, he
rose and trudged outside reluctantly to break the bad news to Gus and
Wes, discreetly avoiding any conversation with Doc Daneeka himself
as he moved by the flight surgeon's slight sepulchral figure roosting
despondently on his stool in the late-afternoon sunlight between the
orderly room and the medical tent. Sergeant Towser's heart was heavy;
now he had two dead men on his hands-Mudd, the dead man in
Yossarian's tent who wasn't even there, and Doc Daneeka, the new
dead man in the squadron, who most certainly was there and gave
every indication of proving a still thornier administrative problem for
him.
Gus and Wes listened to Sergeant Towser with looks of stoic surprise
and said not a word about their bereavement to anyone else until
Doc Daneeka himself came in about ~n hour afterward to have his
temperature taken for the third time that day and his blood pressure
checked. The thermometer registered a half degree lower than his
usual subnormal temperature of 96.8. Doc Daneeka was alarmed. The
fixed, vacant, wooden stares of his two enlisted men were even more
irritating than always. .
"Goddammit," he expostulated politely in an uncommon excess of
exasperation, "what's the matter with you two men anyway? It just isn't
right for a person to have a low temperature all the time and walk
around with a stuffed nose." Doc Daneeka emitted a glum, self-pitying
sniff and strolled disconsolately across the tent to help himself to some
aspirin and sulphur pills and paint his own throat with Argyrol. His
downcast face was fragile and forlorn as a swallow's, and he rubbed the
back of his arms rhythmically. "Just look how cold I am right now.
You're sure you're not holding anything back?"
"You're dead, sir," one of his two enlisted men explained.
Doc Daneeka jerked his head up quickly with resentful distrust.
"What's that?"
"You're dead, sir," repeated the other. "That's probably the reason
you always feel so cold."
"That's right, sir. You've probably been dead all this time and we just
didn't detect it."
"What the belt are you both talking about?" Doc Daneeka cried
shrilly with a surging, petrifying sensation of some onrushing unavoidable
disaster.
"It's true, sir," said one of the enlisted men. "The records show that
you went up in McWatt's plane to collect some flight time. You didn't
come down in a parachute, so you must have been killed in the crash."
"That's right, sir," said the other. "You ought to be glad you've got
any temperature at all."
Doc Daneeka's mind was reeling in confusion. "Have you both gone
crazy?" he demanded. "I'm going to report this whole insubordinate
incident to Sergeant Towser."
"Sergeant Towser's the one who told us about it," said either Gus or
Wes. "The War Department's even going to notify your wife."
Doc Daneeka yelped and ran out of the medical tent to remonstrate
with Sergeant Towser, who edged away from him with repugnance and
advised Doc Daneeka to remain out of sight as much as possible until
some decision could be reached relating to the disposition of his
remains.
"Gee, I guess he really is dead," grieved one of his enlisted men in
a low, respectful voice. "I'm going to miss him. He was a pretty wonderful
guy, wasn't he?"
"Yeah, he sure was," mourned the other. "But I'm glad the little fuck
is gone. I was getting sick and tired of taking his blood pressure all the
time."
Mrs. Daneeka, Doc Daneeka's wife, was not glad that Doc Daneeka
was gone and split the peaceful Staten Island night with woeful shrieks
of lamentation when she learned by War Department telegram that
her husband had been killed in action. Women came to comfort her,
and their husbands paid condolence calls and hoped inwardly that she
would soon move to another neighborhood and spare them the obligation of continuous sympathy. The poor woman was totally distraught
for almost a full week. Slowly, heroically, she found the
strength to contemplate a future filled with dire problems for herself
and her children. Just as she was growing resigned to her loss, the postman
rang with a bolt from the blue --a letter from overseas that was
signed with her husband's signature and urged her frantically to disregard
any bad news concerning him. Mrs. Daneeka was dumbfounded.
The date on the letter was illegible. The handwriting throughout was
shaky and hurried, but the style resembled her husband's and the
melancholy, self-pitying tone was familiar, although more dreary than
usual. Mrs. Daneeka was overjoyed and wept irrepressibly with relief'
and kissed the crinkled, grubby tissue of V-mail stationery a thousand
times. She dashed a grateful note off to her husband pressing him for
details and sent a wire informing the War Department of its error. The
War Department replied touchily that there had been no error and
that she was undoubtedly the victim of some sadistic and psychotic
forger in her husband's squadron. The letter to her husband was
returned unopened, stamped KILLED IN ACTION.
Mrs. Daneeka had been widowed cruelly again, but this time her
grief was mitigated somewhat by a notification from Washington that
she was sole beneficiary of her husband's $10,000 GI insurance policy,
which amount was obtainable by her on demand. The realization that
she and the children were not faced immediately with starvation
brought a brave smile to her face and marked the turning point in her
distress. The Veterans Administration informed her by mail the very
next day that she would be entitled to pension benefits for the rest of
her natural life because of her husband's demise, and to a burial
allowance for him of $250. A government check for $250 was enclosed.
Gradually, inexorably, her prospects brightened. A letter arrived that
same week from the Social Security Administration stating that, under
the provisions of the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Act of 1935, she
would receive monthly support for herself and her dependent children
until they reached the age of eighteen, and a burial allowance of $250.
With these government letters as proof of death, she applied for payment
on three life insurance policies Doc Daneeka had carried, with a
value of $50,000 each; her claim was honored and processed swiftly.
Each day brought new unexpected treasures. A key to a safe-deposit
box led to a fourth life insurance policy with a face value of $50,000,
and to $18,000 in cash on which income tax had never been paid and
need never be paid. A fraternal lodge to which he had belonged gave
her a cemetery plot. A second fraternal organization of which he had
been a member sent her a burial allowance of $250. His county medical
association gave her a burial allowance of $250.
The husbands of her closest friends began to flirt with her. Mrs.
Daneeka was simply delighted with the way things were turning out
and had her hair dyed. Her fantastic wealth just kept piling up, and she
had to remind herself daily that all the hundreds of thousands of dollars
she was acquiring were not worth a single penny without her husband
to share this good fortune with her. It astonished her that so
many separate organizations were willing to do so much to bury Doc
Daneeka, who, back in Pianosa, was having a terrible time trying to
keep his head above the ground and wondered with dismal apprehension
why his wife did not answer the letter he had written.
He found himself ostracized in the squadron by men who cursed his
memory foully for having supplied Colonel Cathcart with provocation
to raise the number of combat missions. Records attesting to his death
were pullulating like insect eggs and verifying each other beyond all
contention. He drew no payor PX rations and depended for life on the
charity of Sergeant Towser and Milo, who both knew he was dead.
Colonel Cathcart refused to see him, and Colonel Korn sent word
through Major Danby that he would have Doc Daneeka cremated on
the spot if he ever showed up at Group Headquarters. Major Danby
confided that Group was incensed with all flight surgeons because of
Dr. Stubbs, the bushy-haired, baggy-chinned, slovenly flight surgeon
in Dunbar's squadron who was deliberately and defiantly brewing
insidious dissension there by grounding all men with sixty missions on
proper forms that were rejected by Group indignantly with orders
restoring the confused pilots, navigators, bombardiers and gunners to
combat duty. Morale there was ebbing rapidly, and Dunbar was under
surveillance. Group was glad Doc Daneeka had been killed and did not
intend to ask for a replacement.
Not even the chaplain could bring Doc Daneeka back to life under
the circumstances. Alarm changed to resignation, and more and more
Doc Daneeka acquired the look of an ailing rodent. The sacks under
his eyes turned hollow and black, and he padded through the shadows
fruitlessly like a ubiquitous spook. Even Captain Flume recoiled when
Doc Daneeka sought him out in the woods for help. Heartlessly, Gus
and Wes turned him away from the medical tent without even a thermometer for comfort, and then, only then, did he realize that, to all
intents" and purposes, he really was dead, and that he had better do
something damned fast if he ever hoped to save himself.
There was nowhere else to turn but to his wife, and he scribbled an
impassioned letter begging her to bring his plight to the attention of
the War Department and urging her to communicate at once with his
group commander, Colonel Cathcart, for assurances that-no matter
what else she might have heard-it was indeed he, her husband, Doc
Daneeka, who was pleading with her, and not a corpse or some impostor.
Mrs. Daneeka was stunned by the depth of emotion in the almost
illegible appeal. She was tom with compunction and tempted to comply,
but the very next letter she opened that day was from that same
Colonel Cathcart, her husband's group commander, and began:
Dear Mrs., Mr., Miss, or Mr. and Mrs. Daneeka:
Words cannot express the deep personal grief I experienced when your
husband, son, father or brother was killed, wounded or reported missing
in action.
Mrs. Daneeka moved with her children to Lansing, Michigan, and
left no forwarding address.
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Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Postby admin » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:15 pm

32. Yo-Yo's Roomies

Yossarian was warm when the cold weather came and whale-shaped
clouds blew low through a dingy, slate-gray sky, almost without end,
like the droning, dark, iron flocks of B-17 and B-24 bombers from the
long-range air bases in Italy the day of the invasion of southern France
two months earlier. Everyone in the squadron knew that Kid
Sampson's skinny legs had washed up on the wet sand to lie there and
rot like a purple twisted wishbone. No one would go to retrieve them,
not Gus or Wes or even the men in the mortuary at the hospital; everyone
made believe that Kid Sampson's legs were not there, that they had
bobbed away south forever on the tide like all of Clevinger and Orr.
Now that bad weather had come, almost no one ever sneaked away
alone any more to peek through bushes like a pervert at the moldering
stumps.
There were no more beautiful days. There were no more easy missions.
There was stinging rain and dull, chilling fog, and the men flew
at week-long intervals, whenever the weather cleared. At night the
wind moaned. The gnarled and stunted tree trunks creaked and
groaned and forced Yossarian's thoughts each morning, even before he
was fully awake, back on Kid Sampson's skinny legs bloating and
decaying, as systematically as a ticking clock, in the icy rain and wet
sand all through the blind, cold, gusty October nights. After Kid
Sampson's legs, he would think of pitiful, whimpering Snowden freezing
to death in the rear section of the plane, holding his eternal,
immutable secret concealed inside his quilted, armor-plate flak suit
until Yossarian had finished sterilizing and bandaging the wrong
wound on his leg, and then spilling it out suddenly all over the floor.
At night when he was tying to sleep, Yossarian would call the roll of all
the men, women and children he had ever known who were now dead.
He tried to remember all the soldiers, and he resurrected images of all
the elderly people he had known when a child-all the aunts, uncles,
neighbors, parents and grandparents, his own and everyone else's, and
all the pathetic, deluded shopkeepers who opened their small, dusty
stores at dawn and worked in them foolishly until midnight. They were
all dead, too. The number of dead people just seemed to increase. And
the Germans were still fighting. Death was irreversible, he suspected,
and he began to think he was going to lose.
Yossarian was warm when the cold weather came because of Orr's
marvelous stove, and he might have existed in his warm tent quite
comfortably if not for the memory of Orr, and if not for the gang of
animated roommates that came swarming inside rapaciously one day
from the two full combat crews Colonel Cathcart had requisitioned and
obtained in less than forty-eight hours-as replacements for Kid
Sampson and McWatt. Yossarian emitted a long, loud; croaking gasp
of protest when he trudged in tiredly after a mission and found them
already there.
There were four of them, and they were having a whale of a good
time as they helped each other set up their cots. They were horsing
around. The moment he saw them, Yossarian knew they were impossible.
They were frisky, eager and exuberant, and they had all been
friends in the States. They were plainly unthinkable. They were noisy,
overconfident, empty-headed kids of twenty-one. They had gone to
college and were engaged to pretty, clean girls whose pictures were
already standing on the rough cement mantelpiece of Orr's fireplace.
They had ridden in speedboats and played tennis. They had been
horseback riding. One had once been to bed with an older woman.
They knew the same people in different parts of the country and had
gone. to school with each other's cousins. They had listened to the
World Series and really cared who won football games. They were
obtuse; their morale was good. They were glad thilt the war had lasted
long enough for them to find out what combat was really like. They
were halfway through unpacking when Yossarian threw them out.
They were plainly out of the question, Yossarian explained adamantly
to Sergeant Towser, whose sallow equine face was despondent as
he informed Yossarian that the new officers would have to be admitted.
Sergeant Towser was not permitted to requisition another six-man tent
from Group while Yossarian was living in one alone.
"I'm not living in this one alone," Yossarian said with a sulk. "I've
got a dead man in here with me. His name is Mudd."
"Please, sir," begged Sergeant Towser, sighing wearily, with a sidelong
glance at the four baffled new officers listening in mystified
silence just outside the entrance. "Mudd was killed on the mission to
Orvieto. You know that. He was flying right beside you."
"Then why don't you move his things out?"
"Because he never even got here. Captain, please don't bring that up
again. You can move in with Lieutenant Nately if you like. I'll even
send some men from the orderly room to transfer your belongings."
But to abandon Orr's tent would be to abandon Orr, who would
have been spurned and humiliated clannishly by these four simpleminded
officers waiting to move in. It did not seem just that these boisterous,
immature young men should show up after all the work was
done and be allowed to take possession of the most desirable tent on
the island. But that was the law, Sergeant Towser explained, and all
Yossarian could do was glare at them in baleful apology as he made
room for them and volunteer helpful penitent hints as they moved
inside his privacy and made themselves at home.
They were the most depressing group of people Yossarian had ever
been with. They were always in high spirits. They laughed at everything.
They called him "Yo-Yo" jocularly and came in tipsy late at
night and woke him up with their clumsy, bumping, giggling efforts to
be quiet, then bombarded him with asinine shouts of hilarious good-fellowship
when he sat up cursing to complain. He wanted to massacre
them each time they did. They reminded him of Donald Duck's
nephews. They were afraid of Yossarian and persecuted him incessantly
with nagging generosity and with their exasperating insistence
on doing small favors for him. They were reckless, puerile, congenial,
naIve, presumptuous, deferential and rambunctious. They were dumb;
they had no complaints. They admired Colonel Cathcart and they
found Colonel Korn, witty. They were afraid of Yossarian, but they
were not the least bit afraid of Colonel Cathcart's seventy missions.
They were four clean-cut kids who were having lots of fun, and they
were driving Yossarian nuts. He could not make them understand that
he was a crotchety old fogey of twenty-eight, that he belonged to
another generation, another era, another world, that having a good
time bored him and was not worth the effort, and that they bored him,
too. He could not make them shut up; they were worse than women.
They had not brains enough to be introverted and repressed.
Cronies of theirs in other squadrons began dropping in unashamedly
and using the tent as a hangout. There was often not room enough for
him. Worst of all, he could no longer bring Nurse Duckett there to lie
down with her. And now that foul weather had come, he had no place
else! This was a calamity he had not foreseen, and he wanted to bust his
roommates' heads open with his fists or pick them up, each in turn, by
the seats of their pants and the scruffs of their necks and pitch them out
once and for all into the dank, rubbery perennial weeds growing
between his rusty soup-can urinal with nail holes in the bottom and the
knotty-pine squadron latrine that stood like a beach locker not far
away.
Instead of busting their heads open, he tramped in his galoshes and
black raincoat through the drizzling darkness to invite Chief White
Halfoat to move in with him, too, and drive the fastidious, clean-living
bastards out with his threats and swinish habits. But Chief White
Halfoat felt cold and was already making plans to move up into the
hospital to die of pneumonia. Instinct told Chief White Halfoat it was
almost time. His chest ached and he coughed chronically. Whiskey no
longer warmed him. Most damning of all, Captain Flume had moved
back into his trailer. Here was an omen of unmistakable meaning.
"He had to move back," Yossarian argued in a vain effort to cheer
up the glum, barrel-chested Indian, whose well-knit sorrel-red face
had degenerated rapidly into a dilapidated, calcareous gray. "He'd die
of exposure if he tried to live in the woods in this weather."
"No, that wouldn't drive the yellowbelly back," Chief White Halfoat
disagreed obstinately. He tapped his forehead with cryptic insight.
"No, sirree. He knows something. He knows it's time for me to die of
pneumonia, that's what he knows. And that's how I know it's time."
"What does Doc Daneeka say?"
"I'm not allowed to say anything," Doc Daneeka said sorrowfully
from his seat on his stool in the shadows of a corner, his smooth,
tapered, diminutive face turtle-green in the flickering candlelight.
Everything smelled of mildew. The bulb in the tent had blown out several
days before, and neither of the two men had been able to muster
the initiative to replace it. "I'm not allowed to practice medicine, any
more," Doc Daneeka added.
"He's dead," Chief White Halfoat gloated, with a hoarse laugh
entangled in phlegm. "That's really funny."
"I don't even draw my pay any more."
"That's really funny," Chief White Halfoat repeated. "All this time
he's been insulting my liver, and look what happened to him. He's
dead. Killed by his own greed."
"That's not what killed me," Doc Daneeka observed in a voice that
was calm and flat. "There's nothing wrong with greed. It's all that lousy
Dr. Stubbs's fault, getting Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn stirred
up against flight surgeons. He's going to give the medical profession a
bad name by standing up for principle. If he's not careful, he'll be
black-balled by his state medical association and kept out of the. hospitals."
Yossarian watched Chief White Halfoat pour whiskey carefully into
three empty shampoo bottles and store them away in the musette bag
he was packing.
"Can't you stop by my tent on your way to the hospital and ponch
one of them in the nose for me?" he speculated aloud. "I've got four of
them, and they're going to crowd me out of my tent altogether."
"You know, something like that once happened to my whole tribe,"
Chief White Halfoat remarked in jolly appreciation, sitting back on his
cot to chuckle. "Why don't you get Captain Black to kick those kids
out? Captain Black likes to kick people out."
Yossarian grimaced sourly at the mere mention of Captain Black,
who was already bullying the new fliers each time they stepped into his
intelligence tent for maps or information. Yossarian's attitude toward
his roommates turned merciful and protective at the mere recollection
of Captain Black. It was not their fault that they were young and cheerful,
he reminded himself as he carried the swinging beam of his flashlight
back through the darkness. He wished that he could be young and
cheerful, too. And it wasn't their fault that they were courageous, confident
and carefree. He would just have to be patient with them until
one or two were killed and the rest wounded, and then they would all
turn out okay. He vowed to be more tolerant and benevolent, but when
he ducked inside his tent with his friendlier attitude a great yellow
blaze was roaring in the fireplace, and he gasped in horrified amazement.
Orr's beautiful birch logs were going up in smoke! His roommates
had set fire to them! He gaped at the four insensitive overheated faces
and wanted to shout curses at them. He wanted to bang their heads
together as they greeted him with loud convivial cries and invited him
generously to pull up a chair and eat their chestnuts and roasted potatoes.
What could he do with them?
And the very next morning they got rid of the dead man in his tent!
Just like that, they whisked him away! They carried his cot and all his
belongings right out into the bushes and simply dumped them there,
and then they strode back slapping their hands briskly at a job well
done. Yossarian was stunned by their overbearing vigor and zeal, by
their practical, direct efficiency. In a matter of moments they had disposed energetically of a problem with which Yossarian and Sergeant
Towser had been grappling unsuccessfully for months. Yossarian was
alarmed-they might get rid of him just as quickly, he feared-and he
ran to Hungry Joe and fled with him to Rome the day before Nately's
whore finally got a good night's sleep and woke up in love.
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Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Postby admin » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:16 pm

33. Nately's Whore

He missed Nurse Duckett in Rome. There was not much else to do
after Hungry Joe left on his mail run. Yossarian missed Nurse Duckett
so much that he went searching hungrily through the streets for
Luciana, whose laugh and invisible scar he had never forgotten, or the
boozy, blowzy, bleary-eyed floozy in the overloaded white brassiere
and unbuttoned orange satin blouse whose naughty salmon-colored
cameo ring Aarfy had thrown away so callously through the window of
her car. How he yearned for both girls! He looked for them in vain. He
was so deeply in love with them, and he knew he would never see either
again. Despair gnawed at him. Visions beset him. He wanted Nurse
Duckett with her dress up and her slim thighs bare to the hips. He
banged a thin streetwalker with a wet cough who picked him up from
an alley between hotels, but that was no fun at all and he hastened to
the enlisted men's apartment for the fat, friendly maid in the lime-colored
panties, who was overjoyed to see him but couldn't arouse him.
He went to bed there early and slept alone. He woke up disappointed
and banged a sassy, short, chubby girl he found in the apartment after
breakfast, but that was only a little better, and he chased her away when
he'd finished and went back to sleep. He napped till lunch and then
went shopping for presents for Nurse Duckett and a scarf for the maid
in the lime-colored panties, who hugged him with such gargantuan
gratitude that he was soon hot for Nurse Duckett and ran looking
lecherously for Luciana again. Instead he found Aarfy, who had landed
in Rome when Hungry Joe returned with Dunbar, Nately and Dobbs,
and who would not go along on the drunken foray that night to rescue
Nately's whore from the middle-aged military big shots holding her
captive in a hotel because she would not say uncle.
"Why should I risk getting into trouble just to help her out?" Aarfy
demanded haughtily. "But don't tell Nately I said that. Tell him I had
to keep an appointment with some very important fraternity brothers."
The middle-aged big shots would not let Nately's whore leave until
they made her say uncle.
"Say uncle," they said to her.
"Uncle," she said.
"No, no. Say uncle."
"Uncle," she said.
"She still doesn't understand."
"You still don't understand, do you? We can't really make you say
uncle unless you don't want to say uncle. Don't you see? Don't say
uncle when I tell you to say uncle. Okay? Say uncle."
"Uncle," she said.
"No, don't say uncle. Say uncle."
She didn't say uncle.
"That's good!"
"That's very good."
"It's a start. Now say uncle."
"Uncle," she said.
"It's no good."
"No, it's no good that way either. She just isn't impressed with us.
There's just no fun making her say uncle when she doesn't care
, whether we make her say uncle or not."
"No, she really doesn't care, does she? Say 'foot.'"
"Foot."
"You see? She doesn't care about anything we do. She doesn't care
about us. We don't mean a thing to you, do we?"
"Uncle," she said.
She didn't care about them a bit, and it upset them terribly. They
shook her roughly each time she yawned. She did not seem to care
about anything, not even when they threatened to throw her out the
window. They were utterly demoralized men of distinction. She was
bored and indifferent and wanted very much to sleep. She had been on
the job for twenty-two hours, and she was sorry that these men had not
permitted her to leave with the other two girls with whom the orgy had
begun. She wondered vaguely why they wanted her to laugh when they
laughed, and why they wanted her to enjoy it when they made love to
her. It was all very mysterious to her, and very uninteresting.
She was not sure what they wanted from her. Each time she slumped
over with her eyes closed they shook her awake and made her say
"uncle" again. Each time she said "uncle," they were disappointed. She
wondered what "uncle" meant. She sat on the sofa in a passive, phlegmatic
stupor, her mouth open and all her clothing crumpled in a corner
on the floor, and wondered how much longer they would sit
around naked with her and make her say uncle in the elegant hotel
suite to which Orr's old girl friend, giggling uncontrollably at Yossarian's
and Dunbar's drunken antics, guided Nately and the other members
of the motley rescue party.
Dunbar squeezed Orr's old girl friend's fanny gratefully and passed
her back to Yossarian, who propped her against the door jamb with
both hands on her hips and wormed himself against her lasciviously
until Nately seized him by the arm and pulled him away from her into
the blue sitting room, where Dunbar was already hurling everything in
sight out the window into the court. Dobbs was smashing furniture
with an ash stand. A nude, ridiculous man with a blushing appendectomy
scar appeared in the doorway suddenly and bellowed,
"What's going on here?"
"Your toes are dirty," Dunbar said.
The man covered his groin with both hands and shrank from view.
Dunbar, Dobbs and Hungry Joe just kept dumping everything they
could lift out the window with great, howling whoops of happy abandon.
They soon finished with the clothing on the couches and the
luggage on the floor, and they were ransacking a cedar closet when
the door to the inner room opened again and a man who was very
distinguished-looking from the neck up padded into view imperiously
on bare feet.
"Here, you, stop that," he barked. "Just what do you men think
you're doing?"
"Your toes are dirty," Dunbar said to him.
The man covered his groin as the first had done and disappeared.
Nately charged after him, but was blocked by the first officer, who
plodded back in holding a pillow in front of him, like a bubble dancer.
"Hey, you men!" he roared angrily. "Stop it!"
"Stop it," Dunbar replied.
"That's what I said."
"That's what I said," Dunbar said.
The officer stamped his foot petulantly, turning weak with frustration.
"Are you deliberately repeating everything I say?"
"Are you deliberately repeating everything I say?"
"I'll thrash you." The man raised a fist.
"I'll thrash you," Dunbar warned him coldly. "You're a German spy,
and I'm going to have you shot."
"German spy? I'm an American colonel."
"You don't look like an American colonel. You look like a fat man
with a pillow in front of him. Where's your uniform, if you're an
American colonel?"
"You just threw it out the window."
"All right, men," Dunbar said. "Lock the silly bastard up. Take the
silly bastard down to the station house and throwaway the key."
The colonel blanched with alarm. "Are you all crazy? Where's your
badge? Hey, you! Come back in here!"
But he whirled too late to stop Nately, who had glimpsed his girl sitting
on the sofa in the other room and had darted through the doorway behind
his back. The others poured through after him right into
the midst of the other naked big shots. Hungry Joe laughed hysterically
when he saw them, pointing in disbelief at one after the other and
clasping his head and sides. Two with fleshy physiques advanced truculently
until they spied the look of mean dislike and hostility on Dobbs
and Dunbar and noticed that Dobbs was still swinging like a two-handed
club the wrought-iron ash stand he had used to smash things
in the sitting room. Nately was already at his girl's side. She stared at
him without recognition for a few seconds. Then she smiled faintly
and let her head sink to his shoulder with her eyes closed. Nately was
in ecstasy; she had never smiled at him before.
"Filpo," said a calm, slender, jaded-looking man who had not even
stirred from his armchair. "You don't obey orders. I told you to get
them out, and you've gone and brought them in. Can't you see the difference?"
"They've thrown our things out the window, General."
"Good for them. Our uniforms too? That was clever. We'll never be
able to convince anyone we're superior without our uniforms."
"Let's get their names, Lou, and-"
"Oh, Ned, relax," said the slender man with practiced weariness.
"You may be pretty good at moving armored divisions into action, but
you're almost useless in a social situation. Sooner or later we'll get our
uniforms back, and then we'll be their superiors again. Did they really
throw our uniforms out? That was a splendid tactic."
"They threw everything out."
"The ones in the closet, too?"
"They threw the closet out, General. That was that crash we heard
when we thought they were coming in to kill us."
"And I'll throw you out next," Dunbar threatened.
The general paled slightly. "What the devil is he so mad about?" he
asked Yossarian.
"He means it, too," Yossarian said. "You'd better let the girl leave."
"Lord, take her," exclaimed the general with relief. "All she's done
is make us feel insecure. At least she might have disliked or resented us
for the hundred dollars we paid her. But she wouldn't even do that.
Your handsome young friend there seems quite attached to her. Notice
the way he lets his fingers linger on the inside of her thighs as he pretends
to roll up her stockings."
Nately, caught in the act, blushed guiltily and moved more quickly
through the steps of dressing her. She was sound asleep and breathed
so regularly that she seemed to be snoring softly.
"Let's charge her now, Lou!" urged another officer. "We've got
more personnel, and we can encircle-"
"Oh, no, Bill," answered the general with a sigh. "You may be a wizard
at directing a pincer movement in good weather on level terrain
against an enemy that has already committed his reserves, but you
don't always think so clearly anywhere else. Why should we want to
keep her?"
"General, we're in a very bad strategic position. We haven't got a
stitch df clothing, and it's going to be very degrading and embarrassing
for the person who has to go downstairs through the lobby to get
some."
"Yes, Filpo, you're quite right," said the general. "And that's exactly
why you're the one to do it. Get going."
"Naked, sir?"
"Take your pillow with you if you want to. And get some cigarettes,
too, while you're downstairs picking up my underwear and pants, will
you?"
"I'll send everything up for you," Yossarian offered.
"There, General," said Filpo with relief. "Now I won't have to go."
"Filpo, you nitwit. Can't you see he's lying?"
"Are you lying?"
Yossarian nodded, and Filpo's faith was shattered. Yossarian laughed
and helped Nately walk his girl out into the corridor and into the elevator.
Her face was smiling as though with a lovely dream as she slept
with her head still resting on Nately's shoulder. Dobbs and Dunbar ran
out into the street to stop a cab.
Nately's whore looked up when they left the car. She swallowed
dryly several times during the arduous trek up the stairs to her apartment,
but she was sleeping soundly again by the time Nately undressed
her and put her to bed. She slept for eighteen hours, while Nately
dashed about the apartment all the next morning shushing everybody
in sight, and when she woke up she was deeply in love with him. In the
last analysis, that was all it took to win her heart-a good night's sleep.
The girl smiled with contentment when she opened her eyes and
saw him, and then, stretching her long legs languorously beneath the
rustling sheets, beckoned him into bed beside her with that look of
simpering idiocy of a woman in heat. Nately moved to her in a happy
daze, so overcome with rapture that he hardly minded when her kid
sister interrupted him again by flying into the room and flinging herself
down onto the bed between them. Nately's whore slapped and
cursed her, but this time with laughter and generous affection, and
Nately settled back smugly with an arm about each, feeling strong and
protective. They made a wonderful family group, he decided. The little
girl would go to college when she was old enough, to Smith or
Radcliffe or Bryn Mawr-he would see to that. Nately bounded out of
bed after a few minutes to announce his good fortune to his friends at
the top of his voice. He called to them jubilantly to come to the room
and slammed the door in their startled faces as soon as they arrived. He
had remembered just in time that his girl had no clothes on.
"Get dressed," he ordered her, congratulating himself on his alertness.
"Perche?" she asked curiously.
"Perche?" he repeated with an indulgent chuckle. "Because I don't
want them to see you without any clothes on."
"Perche no?" she inquired.
"Perche no?" He looked at her with astonishment. "Because it isn't
right for other men to see you naked, that's why."
"Perche no?"
"Because I say so!" Nately exploded in frustration. "Now don't
argue with me. I'm the man and you have to do whatever I say. From
now on, I forbid you ever to go out of this room unless you have all
your clothes on. Is that clear?"
Nately's whore looked at him as though he were insane. "Are you
crazy? Che succede?"
"I mean every word I say."
"Tu sei pazzo!" she shouted at him with incredulous indignation, and
sprang out of bed. Snarling unintelligibly, she snapped on panties and
strode toward the door.
Nately drew himself up with full manly authority. "I forbid you to
leave this room that way," he informed her.
"Tu sei pazzo!" she shot back at him, after she had left, shaking her
head in disbelief. "Idiota! Tu sei un pazzo imbecille!"
"Tu sei pazzo," said her thin kid sister, starting out after her in the
same haughty walk.
"You come back here," Nately ordered her. "I forbid you to go out
that way, too!"
"Idiota!" the kid sister called back at him with dignity after she had
flounced past. "Tu sei un pazzo imbecille."
Nately fumed in circles of distracted helplessness for several seconds
and then sprinted out into the sitting room to forbid his friends to look
at his girl friend while she complained about him in only her panties.
"Why not?" asked Dunbar.
"Why not?" exclaimed Nately. "Because she's my girl now, and it
isn't right for you to see her unless she's fully dressed."
"Why not?" asked Dunbar.
"You see?" said his girl with a shrug. "Lui e pazzo!"
"St, e molto pazzo," echoed her kid sister.
"Then make her keep her clothes on if you don't want us to see her,"
argued Hungry Joe. "What the hell do you want from us?"
"She won't listen to me," Nately confessed sheepishly. "So from
now on you'll all have to shut your eyes or look in the other direction
when she comes in that way. Okay?"
"Madonn'!" cried his girl in exasperation, and stamped out of the
room.
"Madonn'!" cried her kid sister, and stamped out behind her.
"Lui e pazzo," Yossarian observed good-naturedly. "I certainly have
to admit it."
"Hey, you crazy or something?" Hungry Joe demanded of Nately.
"The next thing you know you'll be trying to make her give up hustling."
"From now on," Nately said to his girl, "I forbid you to go out hustling."
"Perche?" she inquired curiously.
"Perche?" he screamed with amazement. "Because it's not nice, that's
why!"
"Perche no?"
"Because it just isn't!" Nately insisted. "It just isn't right for a nice
girl like you to go looking for other men to sleep with. I'll give you all
the money you need, so you won't have to do it any more."
"And what will I do all day instead?"
"Do?" said Nately. "You'll do what all your friends do."
"My friends go looking for men to sleep with."
"Then get new friends! I don't even want you to associate with girls
like that, anyway. Prostitution is bad! Everybody knows that, even
him." He turned with confidence to the experienced old man. "Am I
right?"
"You're wrong," answered the old man. "Prostitution gives her an
opportunity to meet people. It provides fresh air and wholesome exercise,
and it keeps her out of trouble."
"From now on," Nately declared sternly to his girl friend, "I forbid
you to have anything to do with that wicked old man."
"Va fongul!" his girl replied, rolling her harassed eyes up toward the
ceiling. "What does he want from me?" she implored, shaking her fists.
"Lasciami!" she told him in menacing entreaty. "Stupido! If you think
my friends are so bad, go tell your friends not to ficky-fick all the time
with my friends!"
"From now on," Nately told his friends, "I think you fellows ought
to stop running around with her friends and settle down."
"Madonn'!" cried his friends, rolling their harassed eyes up toward
the ceiling.
Nately had gone clear out of his mind. He wanted them all to fall in
love right away and get married. Dunbar could marry Orr's whore, and
Yossarian could fall in love with Nurse Duckett or anyone else he liked.
After the war they could all work for Nately's father and bring up their
children in the same suburb. Nately saw it all very clearly. Love had
transmogrified him into a romantic idiot, and they drove him away
back into the bedroom to wrangle with his girl over Captain Black. She
agreed not to go to bed with Captain Black again or give him any more
of Nately's money, but she would not budge an inch on her friendship
with the ugly, ill-kempt, dissipated, filthy-minded old man, who witnessed
Nately's flowering love affair with insulting derision and would
not admit that Congress was the greatest deliberative body in the
whole world.
"From now on," Nately ordered his girl firmly, "I absolutely forbid
you even to speak to that disgusting old man."
"Again the old man?" cried the girl in wailing confusion. "Perche no?"
"He doesn't like the House of Representatives."
"Mamma mia! What's the matter with you?"
"E pazzo," observed her kid sister philosophically. "That's what's the
matter with him."
"Si," the older girl agreed readily, tearing at her long brown hair
with both hands. "Lui e pazzo."
But she missed Nately when he was away and was furious with
Yossarian when he punched Nately in the face with all his might and
knocked him into the hospital with a broken nose.
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Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Postby admin » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:16 pm

34. Thanksgiving

It was actually all Sergeant Knight's fault that Yossarian busted Nately
in the nose on Thanksgiving Day, after everyone in the squadron had
given humble thanks to Milo for providing the fantastically opulent
meal on which the officers and enlisted men had gorged themselves
insatiably all afternoon and for dispensing like inexhaustible largess the
unopened bottles of cheap whiskey he handed out unsparingly to every
man who asked. Even before dark, young soldiers with pasty white
faces were throwing up everywhere and passing out drunkenly on the
ground. The air turned foul. Other men picked up steam as the hours
passed, and the aimless, riotous celebration continued. It was a raw,
violent, guzzling saturnalia that spilled obstreperously through the
woods to the officers' club and spread up into the hills toward the hospital
and the antiaircraft-gun emplacements. There were fist fights in
the squadron and one stabbing. Corporal Kolodny shot himself
through the leg in the intelligence tent while playing with a loaded gun
and had his gums and toes painted purple in the speeding ambulance
as he lay on his back with the blood spurting from his wound. Men
with cut fingers, bleeding heads, stomach cramps and broken ankles
came limping penitently up to the medical tent to have their gums and
toes painted purple by Gus and Wes and be given a laxative to throw
into the bushes. The joyous celebration lasted long into the night, and
the stillness was fractured often by wild, exultant shouts and by the
cries of people who were merry or sick. There was the recurring sound
of retching and moaning, of laughter, greetings, threats and swearing,
and of bottles shattering against rock. There were dirty songs in the
distance. It was worse than New Year's Eve.
Yossarian went to bed early for safety and soon dreamed that he was
fleeing almost headlong down an endless wooden staircase, making a
loud, staccato clatter with his heels. Then he woke up a little and realized
someone was shooting at him with a machine gun. A tortured,
terrified sob rose in his throat. His first thought was that Milo was
attacking the squadron again, and he rolled off his cot to the floor and
lay underneath in a trembling, praying ball, his heart thumping like a
drop forge, his body bathed in a cold sweat. There was no noise of
planes. A drunken, happy laugh sounded from afar. "Happy New Year,
Happy New Year!" a triumphant familiar voice shouted hilariously
from high above between the short, sharp bursts of machine gun fire,
and Yossarian understood that some men had gone as a prank to one
of the sandbagged machine gun emplacements Milo had installed in
the hills after his raid on the squadron and staffed with his own men.
Yossarian blazed with hatred and wrath when he saw he was the victim
of an irresponsible joke that had destroyed his sleep and reduced
him to a whimpering hulk. He wanted to kill, he wanted to murder. He
was angrier than he had ever been before, angrier even than when he
had slid his hands around McWatt's neck to strangle him. The gun
opened fire again. Voices cried "Happy New Year!" and gloating
laughter rolled down from the hills through the darkness like a witch's
glee. In moccasins and coveralls, Yossarian charged out of his tent for
revenge with his .45, ramming a clip of cartridges up into the grip and
slamming the bolt of the gun back to load it. He snapped off the
safety catch and was ready to shoot. He heard Nately running after
him to restrain him, calling his name. The machine gun opened fire
once more from a black rise above the motor pool, and orange tracer
bullets skimmed like low-gliding dashed over the tops of the shadowy
tents, almost clipping the peaks. Roars of rough laughter rang out
again between the short bursts. Yossarian felt resentment boil like acid
inside him; they were endangering his life, the bastards! With blind,
ferocious rage and determination, he raced across the squadron past
the motor pool, running as fast as he could, and was already pounding
up into the hills along the narrow, winding path when Nately finally
caught up, still calling, "Yo-Yo! Yo-Yo!" with pleading concern and
imploring him to stop. He grasped Yossarian's shoulders and tried to
hold him back. Yossarian twisted free, turning. Nately reached for him
again, and Yossarian drove his fist squarely into Nately's delicate young
face as hard as he could, cursing him, then drew his arm back to hit him
again, but Nately had dropped out of sight with a groan and lay curled
up on the ground with his head buried in both hands and blood
streaming between his fingers. Yossarian whirled and plunged ahead up
the path without looking back.
Soon he saw the machine gun. Two figures leaped up in silhouette
when they heard him and fled into the night with taunting laughter
before he could get there. He was too late. Their footsteps receded,
leaving the circle of sandbags empty and silent in the crisp and windless
moonlight. He looked about dejectedly. Jeering laughter came to
him again, from a distance. A twig snapped nearby. Yossarian dropped
to his knees with a cold thrill of elation and aimed. He heard a stealthy
rustle of leaves on the other side of the sandbags and fired two quick
rounds. Someone fired back at him once, and he recognized the shot.
"Dunbar?" he called.
"Yossarian?"
The two men left their hiding places and walked forward to meet in
the clearing with weary disappointment, their guns down. They were
both shivering slightly from the frosty air and wheezing from the labor
of their uphill rush.
"The bastards," said Yossarian. "They got away."
"They took ten years off my life," Dunbar exclaimed. "I thought
that son of a bitch Milo was bombing us again. I've never been so
scared. 1 wish 1 knew who the bastards were."
"One was Sergeant Knight."
"Let's go kill him." Dunbar's teeth were chattering. "He had no
right to scare us that way."
Yossarian no longer wanted to kill anyone. "Let's help Nately first.
1 think 1 hurt him at the bottom of the hill."
But there was no sign of Nately along the path, even though
Yossarian located the right spot by the blood on the stones. Nately was
not in his tent either, and they did not catch up with him until the next
morning when they checked into the hospital as patients after learning
he had checked in with a broken nose the night before. Nately beamed
in frightened surprise as they padded into the ward in their slippers and
robes behind Nurse Cramer and were assigned to their beds. Nately's
nose was in a bulky cast, and he had two black eyes. He kept blushing
giddily in shy embarrassment and saying he was sorry when Yossarian
came over to apologize for hitting him. Yossarian felt terrible; he could
hardly bear to look at Nately's battered countenance, even though the
sight was so comical he was tempted to guffaw. Dunbar was disgusted
by their sentimentality, and all three were relieved when Hungry Joe
came barging in unexpectedly with his intricate black camera and
trumped-up symptoms of appendicitis to be near enough to Yossarian
to take pictures of him feeling up Nurse Duckett. Like Yossarian, he
was soon disappointed. Nurse Duckett had decided to marry a doctor
-any doctor, because they all did so well in business-and would not
take chances in the vicinity of the man who might someday be
her husband. Hungry Joe was irate and inconsolable until-of all
people!-the chaplain was led in wearing a maroon corduroy bathrobe,
shining like a skinny lighthouse with a radiant grin of self-satisfaction
too tremendous to be concealed. The chaplain had entered the hospital
with a pain in his heart that the doctors thought was gas in his stomach
and with an advanced case of Wisconsin shingles.
"What in the world are Wisconsin shingles?" asked Yossarian.
"That's just what the doctors wanted to know!" blurted out the
chaplain proudly, and burst into laughter. No one had ever seen him so
waggish, or so happy. "There's no such thing as Wisconsin shingles.
Don't you understand? I lied. I made a deal with the doctors. I promised
that I would let them know when my Wisconsin shingles went
away if they would promise not to do anything to cure them. I never
told a lie before. Isn't it wonderful?"
The chaplain had sinned, and it was good. Common sense told him
that telling lies and defecting from duty were sins. On the other hand,
everyone knew that sin was evil and that no good could come from evil.
But he did feel good; he felt positively marvelous. Consequently, it followed
logically that telling lies and defecting from duty could not be
sins. The chaplain had m3;stered, in a moment of divine intuition, the
handy technique of protective rationalization, and he was exhilarated
by his discovery. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw,
to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence,
arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery
into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and
sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It
merely required no character. With effervescent agility the chaplain
ran through the whole gamut of orthodox immoralities, while Nately
sat up in bed with flushed elation, astounded by the mad gang of companions
of which he found himself the nucleus. He was flattered and
apprehensive, certain that some severe official would soon appear and
throw the whole lot of them out like a pack of bums. No one bothered
them. In the evening they all trooped exuberantly out to see a lousy
Hollywood extravaganza in Technicolor, and when they trooped exuberantly back in after the lousy Hollywood extravaganza, the soldier in
white was there, and Dunbar screamed and went to pieces.
"He's back!" Dunbar screamed. "He's back! He's back!"
Yossarian froze in his tracks, paralyzed as much by the eerie shrillness
in Dunbar's voice as by the familiar, white, morbid sight of the soldier
in white covered from head to toe in plaster and gauze. A strange,
quavering, involuntary noise came bubbling from Yossarian's throat.
"He's back!" Dunbar screamed again.
"He's back!" a patient delirious with fever echoed in automatic terror.
All at once the ward erupted into bedlam. Mobs of-sick and injured
men began ranting incoherently and running and jumping in the aisle
as though the building were on fire. A patient with one foot and one
crutch was hopping back and forth swiftly in panic crying, "What is it?
What is it? Are we burning? Are we burning?"
"He's back!" someone shouted at him. "Didn't you hear him? He's
back! He's back!"
"Who's back?" shouted someone else. "Who is it?"
"What does it mean? What should we do?"
"Are we on fire?"
"Get up and run, damn it! Everybody get up and run!"
Everybody got out of bed and began running from one end of the
ward to the other. One C.I.D. man was looking for a gun to shoot one
of the other C.I.D. men who had jabbed his elbow into his eye. The
ward had turned into chaos. The patient delirious with the high fever
leaped into the aisle and almost knocked over the patient with one
foot, who accidentally brought the black rubber tip of his crutch down
on the other's bare foot, crushing some toes. The delirious man with
the fever and the crushed toes sank to the floor and wept in pain while
other men tripped over him and hurt him more in their blind, milling,
agonized stampede. "He's back!" all the men kept mumbling and
chanting and calling out hysterically as they rushed back and forth.
"He's back, he's back!" Nurse Cramer was there in the middle suddenly
like a spinning policeman, trying desperately to restore order, dissolving
helplessly into tears when she failed. "Be still, please be still," she
urged uselessly through her massive sobs. The chaplain, pale as a
ghost, had no idea what was going on. Neither did Nately, who kept
close to Yossarian's side, clinging to his elbow, or Hungry Joe, who followed
dubiously with his scrawny fists clenched and glanced from side
to side with a face that was scared.
"Hey, what's going on?" Hungry Joe pleaded. "What the hell is
going on?"
"It's the same one!" Dunbar shouted at him emphatically in a voice
rising clearly above the raucous commotion. "Don't you understand?
It's the same one."
"The same one!" Yossarian heard himself echo, quivering with a
deep and ominous excitement that he could not control, and shoved his
way after Dunbar toward the bed of the soldier in white.
"Take it easy, fellas," the short patriotic Texan counseled affably,
with an uncertain grin. "There's no cause to be upset. Why don't we
all just take it easy?"
"The same one!" others began murmuring, chanting and shouting.
Suddenly Nurse Duckett was there, too. "What's going on?" she
demanded.
"He's back!" Nurse Cramer screamed, sinking into her arms. "He's
back, he's back!"
It was, indeed, the same man. He had lost a few inches and added
some weight, but Yossarian remembered him instantly by the two stiff
arms and the two stiff, thick, useless legs all drawn upward into the air
almost perpendicularly by the taut ropes and the long lead weights suspended
from pulleys over him and by the frayed black hole in the
bandages over his mouth. He had, in fact, hardly changed at all. There
was the same zinc pipe rising from the hard stone mass over his groin
and leading to the clear glass jar on the floor. There was the same clear
glass jar on a pole dripping fluid into him through the crook of his
elbow. Yossarian would recognize him anywhere. He wondered who he
was.
"There's no one inside!" Dunbar yelled out at him unexpectedly.
Yossarian felt his heart skip a beat and his legs grow weak. "What
are you talking about?" he shouted with dread, stunned by the haggard,
sparking anguish in Dunbar's eyes and by his crazed look of wild
shock and horror. "Are you nuts or something? What the hell do you
mean, there's no one inside?"
"They've. stolen him away!" Dunbar shouted back. "He's hollow
inside, like a chocolate soldier. They just took him away and left those
bandages there."
"Why should they do that?"
"Why do they do anything?"
"They've stolen him away!" screamed someone else, and people all
over the ward began screaming, "They've stolen him away. They've
stolen him away!"
"Go back to your beds," Nurse Duckett pleaded with Dunbar and
Yossarian, pushing feebly against Yossarian's chest. "Please go back to
your beds."
"You're crazy!" Yossarian shouted angrily at Dunbar. "What the hell
makes you say that?"
"Did anyone see him?" Dunbar demanded with sneering fervor.
"You saw him, didn't you?" Yossarian said to Nurse Duckett. "Tell
Dunbar there's someone inside."
"Lieutenant Schmulker is inside," Nurse Duckett said. "He's
burned all over."
"Did she see him?"
"You saw him, didn't you?"
"The doctor who bandaged him saw him."
"Go get him, will you? Which doctor was it?"
Nurse Duckett reacted to the question with a startled gasp. "The
doctor isn't even here!" she exclaimed. "The patient was brought to us
that way from a field hospital."
"You see?" cried Nurse Cramer. "There's no one inside!"
"There's no one inside!" yelled Hungry Joe, and began stamping on
the floor.
Dunbar broke through and leaped up furiously on the soldier in
white's bed to see for himself, pressing his gleaming eye down hungrily
against the tattered black hole in the shell of white bandages. He was
still bent over staring with one eye into the lightless, unstirring void of
the soldier in white's mouth when the doctors and the M.P.s came running
to help Yossarian pull him away. The doctors wore guns at the
waist. The guards carried carbines and rifles with which they shoved
and jolted the crowd of muttering patients back. A stretcher on wheels
was there, and the soldier in white was lifted out of bed skillfully and
rolled out of sight in a matter of seconds. The doctors and M.P.s
moved through the ward assuring everyone that everything was all
right.
Nurse Duckett plucked Yossarian's arm and whispered to him
furtively to meet her in the broom closet outside in the corridor.
Yossarian rejoiced when he heard her. He thought Nurse Duckett
finally wanted to get laid and pulled her skirt up the second they were
alone in the broom closet, but she pushed him away. She had urgent
news about Dunbar.
"They're going to disappear him," she said.
Yossarian squinted at her uncomprehendingly. "They're what?" he
asked in surprise, and laughed uneasily. "What does that mean?"
"I don't know. I heard them talking behind a door."
"Who?"
"I don't know. I couldn't see them. I just heard them say they were
going to disappear Dunbar."
"Why are they going to disappear him?"
"I don't know."
"It doesn't make sense. It isn't even good grammar. What the hell
does it mean when they disappear somebody?"
"I don't know."
"Jesus, you're a great help!"
"Why are you picking on me?" Nurse Duckett protested with hurt
feelings, and began sniffing back tears. "I'm only trying to help. It isn't
my fault they're going to disappear him, is it? I shouldn't even be
telling you."
Yossarian took her in his arms and hugged her with gentle, contrite
affection. "I'm sorry," he apologized, kissing her cheek respectfully,
and hurried away to warn Dunbar, who was nowhere to be found.
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Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Postby admin » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:16 pm

35. Milo the Militant

For the first time in his life, Yossarian prayed. He got down on his knees
and prayed to Nately not to volunteer to fly more than seventy missions
after Chief White Halfoat did die of pneumonia in the hospital and
Nately had applied for his job. But Nately just wouldn't listen.
"I've got to fly more missions," Nately insisted lamely with a
crooked smile. "Otherwise they'll send me home."
"So?"
"I don't want to go home until 1 can take her back with me."
"She means that much to you?"
Nately nodded dejectedly. "I might never see her again."
"Then get yourself grounded," Yossarian urged. "You've finished
your missions and you don't need the flight pay. Why don't you ask for
Chief White Halfoat's job, if you can stand working for Captain
Black?"
Nately shook his head, his cheeks darkening with shy and regretful
mortification. "They won't give it to me. 1 spoke to Colonel Korn, and
he told me I'd have to fly more missions or be sent home."
Yossarian cursed savagely. "That's just plain meanness."
"I don't mind, 1 guess. I've flown seventy missions without getting
hurt. 1 guess 1 can fly a few more."
"Don't do anything at all about it until 1 talk to someone," Yossarian
decided, and went looking for help from Milo, who went immediately
afterward to Colonel Cathcart for help in having himself assigned to
more combat missions.
Milo had been earning many distinctions for himself. He had flown
fearlessly into danger and criticism by selling petroleum and ball bearings
to Germany at good prices in order to make a good profit and help
maintain a balance of power between the contending forces. His nerve
under fire was graceful and infinite. With a devotion to purpose above
and beyond the line of duty, he had then raised the price of food in his
mess halls so high that all officers and enlisted men had to turn over all
their pay to him in order to eat. Their alternative-there was an alternative, of course, since Milo detested coercion and was a vocal champion
of freedom of choice-was to starve. When he encountered a
wave of enemy resistance to this attack, he stuck to his position without
regard for his safety or reputation and gallantly invoked the law of
supply and demand. And when someone somewhere said no, Milo gave
ground grudgingly, valiantly defending, even in retreat, the historic
right of free men to pay as much as they had to for the things they
needed in order to survive.
Milo had been caught red-handed in the act of plundering his countrymen,
and, as a result, his stock had never been higher. He proved
good as his word when a rawboned major from Minnesota curled his lip
in rebellious disavowal and demanded his share of the syndicate Milo
kept saying everybody owned. Milo met the challenge by writing the
words "A Share" on the nearest scrap of paper and handing it away with
a virtuous disdain that won the envy and admiration of almost everyone
who knew him. His glory was at a peak, and Colonel Cathcart, who
knew and admired his war record, was astonished by the deferential
humility with which Milo presented himself at Group Headquarters
and made his fantastic appeal for more hazardous assignment.
"You want to fly more combat missions?" Colonel Cathcart gasped.
"What in the world for?"
Milo answered in a demure voice with his face lowered meekly. "I
want to do my duty, sir. The country is at war, and I want to fight to
defend it like the rest of the fellows."
"But, Milo, you are doing your duty," Colonel Cathcart exclaimed
with a laugh that thundered jovially. "I can't think of a single person
who's done more for the men than you have. Who gave them chocolate-covered
cotton?"
Milo shook his head slowly and sadly. "But being a good mess officer
in wartime just isn't enough, Colonel Cathcart."
"Certainly it is, Milo. I don't know what's come over you."
"Certainly it isn't, Colonel," Milo disagreed in a somewhat firm
tone, raising his subservient eyes significantly just far enough to arrest
Colonel Cathcart's. "Some of the men are beginning to talk."
"Oh, is that it? Give me their names, Milo. Give me their names and
I'll see to it that they go on every dangerous mission the group flies."
"No, Colonel, I'm afraid they're right," Milo said, with his head
drooping again. "I was sent overseas as a pilot, and I should be flying
more combat missions and spending less time on my duties as a mess
officer."
Colonel Cathcart was surprised but cooperative. "Well, Milo, if you
really feel that way, I'm sure we can make whatever arrangements you
want. How long have you been overseas now?"
"Eleven months, sir."
"And how many missions have you flown?"
"Five."
"Five?" asked Colonel Cathcart.
"Five, sir."
"Five, eh?" Colonel Cathcart rubbed his cheek pensively. "That isn't
very good, is it?"
"Isn't it?" asked Milo in a sharply edged voice, glancing up again.
Colonel Cathcart quailed. "On the contrary, that's very good, Milo,"
he corrected himself hastily. "It isn't bad at all."
"No, Colonel," Milo said, with a long, languishing, wistful sigh, "it
isn't very good. Although it's very generous of you to say so."
"But it's really not bad, Milo. Not bad at all when you consider all
your other valuable contributions. Five missions, you say? Just five?"
"Just five, sir."
"Just five." Colonel Cathcart grew awfully depressed for a moment
as he wondered what Milo was really thinking, and whether he
had already got a black eye with him. "Five is very good, Milo," he
observed with enthusiasm, spying a ray of hope. "That averages out to
almost one combat mission every two months. And I'll bet your total
doesn't even include the time you bombed us."
"Yes, sir. It does."
"It does?" inquired Colonel Cathcart with mild wonder. "You didn't
actually fly along on that mission, did you? If I remember correctly,
you were in the control tower with me, weren't you?"
"But it was my mission," Milo contended. "I organized it, and we
used my planes and supplies. I planned and supervised the whole
thing."
"Oh, certainly, Milo, certainly, I'm not disputing you. I'm only
checking the figures to make sure you're claiming all you're entitled to.
Did you also include the time we contracted with you to bomb the
bridge at Orvieto?"
"Oh, no, sir. I didn't think I should, since I was in Orvieto at the
time directing the antiaircraft fire."
"I don't see what difference that makes, Milo. It was still your mission.
And a damned good one, too, I must say. We didn't get the
bridge, but we did have a beautiful bomb pattern. I remember General
Peckem commenting on it. No, Milo, I insist you count Orvieto as a
mission, too."
"If you insist, sir."
"I do insist, Milo. Now, let's see-you now have a grand total of six
missions, which is damned good, Milo, damned good, really. Six missions
is an increase of twenty per cent in just a couple of minutes,
which is not bad at all, Milo, not bad at all."
"Many of the other men have seventy missions," Milo pointed out.
"But they never produced any chocolate-covered cotton, did they?
Milo, you're doing more than your share."
"But they're getting all the fame and opportunity," Milo persisted
with a petulance that bordered on sniveling. "Sir, I want to get in there
and fight like the rest of the fellows. That's what I'm here for. I want
to win medals, too."
"Yes, Milo, of course. We all want to spend more time in combat. But
people like you and me serve in different ways. Look at my own record."
Colonel Cathcart uttered a deprecatory laugh. "I'll bet it's not generally
known, Milo, that I myself have flown only four missions, is it?"
"No, sir," Milo replied. "It's generally known that you've flown only
two missions. And that one of those occurred when Aarfy accidentally
flew you over enemy territory, while navigating you to Naples for a
black-market water cooler."
Colonel Cathcart, flushing with embarrassment, abandoned all further
argument. "All right, Milo. I can't praise you enough for what you
want to do. If it really means so much to you, I'll have Major Major
assign you to the next sixty-four missions so that you can have seventy,
too."
"Thank you, Colonel, thank you, sir. You don't know what this
means."
"Don't mention it, Milo, I know exactly what it means."
"No, Colonel, I don't think you do know what it means," Milo disagreed
pointedly. "Someone will have to begin running the syndicate
for me right away. It's very complicated, and I might get shot down at
any time."
Colonel Cathcart brightened instantly at the thought and began
rubbing his hands with avaricious zest. "You know, Milo, I think
Colonel Korn and I might be willing to take the syndicate off your
hands," he suggested in an offhand manner, almost licking his lips in
savory anticipation. "Our experience in black-market plum tomatoes
should come in very useful. Where do we begin?"
Milo watched Colonel Cathcart steadily with a bland and guileless
expression. "Thank you, sir, that's very good of you. Begin with a salt-free
diet for General Peckem and a fat-free diet for General Dreedle."
"Let me get a pencil. What's next?"
"The cedars."
"Cedars?"
"From Lebanon."
"Lebanon?"
"We've got cedars from Lebanon due at the sawmill in Oslo to be
turned into shingles for the builder in Cape Cod. C.O.D. And then
there's the peas."
"Peas?"
"That are on the high seas. We've got boatloads of peas that are on
the high seas from Atlanta to Holland to pay for the tulips that were
shipped to Geneva to pay for the cheeses that must go to Vienna M.I.F."
"M.I.F.?"
"Money in Front. The Hapsburgs are shaky."
"Milo."
"And don't forget the galvanized zinc in the warehouse at Flint.
Four carloads of galvanized zinc from Flint must be flown to the
smelters in Damascus by noon of the eighteenth, terms F.O.B.
Calcutta two percent ten days E.O.M. One Messerschmitt full of hemp
is due in Belgrade for a C-47 and a half full of those semi-pitted dates
we stuck them with from Khartoum. Use the money from the Portuguese
anchovies we're selling back to Lisbon to pay for the Egyptian
cotton we've got coming back to us from Mamaroneck and to pick up
as many oranges as you can in Spain. Always pay cash for naranjas."
"Naranjas?"
"That's what they call oranges in Spain, and these are Spanish
oranges. And--oh, yes. Don't forget Piltdown Man."
"Piltdown Man?"
"Yes, Piltdown Man. The Smithsonian Institution is not in a position
at this time to meet our price for a second Piltdown Man, but they are
looking forward to the death of a wealthy and beloved donor and-"
"Milo."
"France wants all the parsley we can send them, and I think we
might as well, because we'll need the francs for the lire for the pfennigs
for the dates when they get back. I've also ordered a tremendous shipment
of Peruvian balsa wood for distribution to each of the mess halls
in the syndicate on a pro rata basis."
"Balsa wood? What are the mess halls going to do with balsa wood?"
"Good balsa wood isn't so easy to come by these days, Colonel. I
just didn't think it was a good idea to pass up the chance to buy it."
"No, I suppose not," Colonel Cathcart surmised vaguely with the
look of somebody seasick. "And I assume the price was right."
"The price," said Milo, "was outrageous-positively exorbitant! But
since we bought it from one of our own subsidiaries, we were happy to
pay it. Look after the hides."
"The hives?"
"The hides."
"The hides?"
"The hides. In Buenos Aires. They have to be tanned."
"Tanned?"
"In Newfoundland. And shipped to Helsinki N.M.I.F. before the
spring thaw begins. Everything to Finland goes N.M.I.F. before the
spring thaw begins."
"No Money in Front?" guessed Colonel Cathcart.
"Good, Colonel. You have a gift, sir. And then there's the cork."
"The cork?"
"That must go to New York, the shoes for Toulouse, the ham for
Siam, the nails from Wales, and the tangerines for New Orleans."
"Milo."
"We have coals in Newcastle, sir."
Colonel Cathcart threw up his hands. "Milo, stop!" he cried,
almost in tears. "It's no use. You're just like I am-indispensable!" He
pushed his pencil aside and rose to his feet in frantic exasperation.
"Milo, you can't fly sixty-four more missions. You can't even fly one
more mission. The whole system would fall apart if anything happened
to you."
Milo nodded serenely with complacent gratification. "Sir, are you
forbidding me to fly any more combat missions?"
"Milo, I forbid you to fly any more combat missions," Colonel
Cathcart declared in a tone of stem and inflexible authority.
"But that's not fair, sir," said Milo. "What about my record? The
other men are getting all the fame and medals and publicity. Why
should I be penalized just because I'm doing such a good job as mess
officer?"
"No, Milo, it isn't fair. But I don't see anything we can do about it."
"Maybe we can get someone else to fly my missions for me."
"But maybe we can get someone else to fly your missions for you,"
Colonel Cathcart suggested. "How about the striking coal miners in
Pennsylvania and West Virginia?"
Milo shook his head. "It would take too long to train them. But why
not the men in the squadron, sir? After all, I'm doing all this for them.
They ought to be willing to do something for me in return."
"But why not the men in the squadron, Milo?" Colonel Cathcart
exclaimed. "After all, you're doing all this for them. They ought to be
willing to do something for you in return."
",what's fair is fair."
"What's fair is fair."
"They could take turns, sir."
"They might even take turns flying your missions for you, Milo."
"Who gets the credit?"
"You get the credit, Milo. And if a man wins a medal flying one of
your missions, you get the medal."
"Who dies if he gets killed?"
"Why, he dies, of course. After all, Milo, what's fair is fair. There's
just one thing."
"You'll have to raise the number of missions."
"I might have to raise the number of missions again, and I'm not
sure the men will fly them. They're still pretty sore because I jumped
them to seventy. If I can get just one of the regular officers to fly more,
the rest will probably follow."
"Nately will fly more missions, sir," Milo said. "I was told in strictest
confidence just a little while ago that he'll do anything he has to in
order to remain overseas with a girl he's fallen in love with."
"But Nately will fly more!" Colonel Cathcart declared, and he
brought his hands together in a resounding clap of victory. "Yes,
Nately will fly more. And this time I'm really going to jump the missions,
right up to eighty, and really knock General Dreedle's eye out.
And this is a good way to get that lousy rat Yossarian back into combat
where he might get killed."
"Yossarian?" A tremor of deep concern passed over Milo's simple,
homespun features, and he scratched the corner of his reddish-brown
mustache thoughtfully.
"Yeah, Yossarian. I hear he's going around saying that he's finished
his missions and the war's over for him. Well, maybe he has finished
his missions. But he hasn't finished your missions, has he? Ha! Ha! Has
he got a surprise coming to him!"
"Sir, Yossarian is a friend of mine," Milo objected. "I'd hate to be
responsible for doing anything that would put him back in combat. I
owe a lot to Yossarian. Isn't there anyway we could make an exception
of him?"
"Oh, no, Milo." Colonel Cathcart clucked sententiously, shocked by
the suggestion. "We must never play favorites. We must always treat
every man alike."
"I'd give everything I own to Yossarian," Milo persevered gamely in
Yossarian's behalf. "But since I don't own everything, I can't give everything
to him, can I? So he'll just have to take his chances with the rest
of the men, won't he?"
"What's fair is fair, Milo."
"Yes, sir, what's fair is fair," Milo agreed. "Yossarian is no better than
the other men, and he has no right to expect any special privileges, has
he?"
"No, Milo. What's fair is fair."
And there was no time for Yossarian to save himself from combat
once Colonel Cathcart issued his announcement raising the missions
to eighty late that same afternoon, no time to dissuade Nately from flying
them or even to conspire again with Dobbs to murder Colonel
Cathcart, for the alert sounded suddenly at dawn the next day and the
men were rushed into the trucks before a decent breakfast could be
prepared, and they were driven at top speed to the briefing room and
then out to the airfield, where the clitter-clattering fuel trucks were
still pumping gasoline into the tanks of the planes and the scampering
crews of armorers were toiling as swiftly as they could at hoisting the
thousand-pound demolition bombs into the bomb bays. Everybody
was running, and engines were turned on and warmed up as soon as the
fuel trucks had finished.
Intelligence had reported that a disabled Italian cruiser in dry-dock
at La Spezia would be towed by the Germans that same morning to a
channel at the entrance of the harbor and scuttled there to deprive the
Allied armies of deepwater port facilities when they captured the city.
For once, a military intelligence report proved accurate. The long vessel
was halfway across the harbor when they flewin from the west, and
they broke it apart with direct hits from every flight that filled them all
with waves of enormously satisfying group pride until they found
themselves engulfed in great barrages of flak that rose from guns in
every bend of the huge horseshoe of mountainous land below. Even
Havermeyer resorted to the wildest evasive action he could command
when he saw what a vast distance he had still to travel to escape, and
Dobbs, at the pilot's controls in his formation, zigged when he should
have zagged, skidded his plane into the plane alongside, and chewed
off its tail. His wing broke off at the base, and his plane dropped like a
rock and was almost out of sight in an instant. There was no fire, no
smoke, not the slightest untoward noise. The remaining wing revolved
as ponderously as a grinding cement mixer as the plane plummeted
nose downward in a straight line at accelerating speed until it struck
the water, which foamed open at the impact like a white water lily on
the dark-blue sea, and washed back in a geyser of apple-green bubbles
when the plane sank. It was over in a matter of seconds. There were no
parachutes. And Nately, in the other plane, was killed too.
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Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Postby admin » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:17 pm

36. The Cellar

Nately's death almost killed the chaplain. Chaplain Tappman was
seated in his tent, laboring over his paperwork in his reading spectacles,
when his phone rang and news of the mid-air collision was given
to him from the field. His insides turned at once to dry clay. His hand
was trembling as he put the phone down. His other hand began trembling.
The disaster was too immense to contemplate. Twelve men
killed-how ghastly, how very, very awful! His feeling of terror grew.
He prayed instinctively that Yossarian, Nately, Hungry Joe and his
other friends would not be listed among the victims, then berated himself
repentantly, for to pray for their safety was to pray for the death of
other young men he did not even know. It was too late to pray; yet that
was all he knew how to do. His heart was pounding with a noise that
seemed to be coming from somewhere outside, and he knew he would
never sit in a dentist's chair again, never glance at a surgical tool, never
witness an automobile accident or hear a voice shout at night, without
experiencing that same violent thumping in his chest and dreading that
he was going to die. He would never watch another fist fight without
fearing he was going to faint and crack his skull open on the pavement
or suffer a fatal heart attack or cerebral hemorrhage. He wondered if
he would ever see his wife again or his three small children. He wondered
if he ever should see his wife again, now that Captain Black had
planted in his mind such strong doubts about the fidelity and character
of all women. There were so many other men, he felt, who could
prove more satisfying to her sexually. When he thought of death now,
he always thought of his wife, and when he thought of his wife he
always thought of losing her.
In another minute the chaplain felt strong enough to rise and walk
with glum reluctance to the tent next door for Sergeant Whitcomb.
They drove in Sergeant Whitcomb's jeep. The chaplain made fists of
his hands to keep them from shaking as they lay in his lap. He ground
his teeth together and tried not to hear as Sergeant Whitcomb
chirruped exultantly over the tragic event. Twelve men killed meant
twelve more form letters of condolence that could be mailed in one
bunch to the next of kin over Colonel Cathcart's signature, giving
Sergeant Whitcomb hope of getting an article on Colonel Cathcart
into The Saturday Evening Post in time for Easter.
At the field a heavy silence prevailed, overpowering motion like a
ruthless, insensate spell holding in thrall the only beings who might
break it. The chaplain was in awe. He had never beheld such a great,
appalling stillness before. Almost two hundred tired, gaunt, downcast
men stood holding their parachute packs in a somber and unstirring
crowd outside the briefing room, their faces staring blankly in different
angles of stunned dejection. They seemed unwilling to go, unable
to move. The chaplain was acutely conscious of the faint noise his footsteps
made as he approached. His eyes searched hurriedly, frantically,
through the immobile maze of limp figures. He spied Yossarian finally
with a feeling of immense joy, and then his mouth gaped open slowly
in unbearable horror as he noted Yossarian's vivid, beaten, grimy look
of deep, drugged despair. He understood at once, recoiling in pain
from the realization and shaking his head with a protesting and imploring
grimace, that Nately was dead. The knowledge struck him with a
numbing shock. A sob broke from him. The blood drained from his
legs, and he thought he was going to drop. Nately was dead. All hope
that he was mistaken was washed away by the sound of Nately's name
emerging with recurring clarity now from the almost inaudible babble
of murmuring voices that he was suddenly aware of for the first time.
Nately was dead: the boy had been killed. A whimpering sound rose in
the chaplain's throat, and his jaw began to quiver. His eyes filled with
tears, and he was crying. He started toward Yossarian on tiptoe to
mourI1 beside him and share his wordless grief. At that moment a hand
grabbed him roughly around the arm and a brusque voice demanded,
"Chaplain Tappman?"
He turned with surprise to face a stout, pugnacious colonel with a
large head and mustache and a smooth, florid skin. He had never seen
the man before. "Yes. What is it?" The fingers grasping the chaplain's
arm were hurting him, and he tried in vain to squirm loose.
"Come along."
The chaplain pulled back in frightened confusion. "Where? Why?
Who are you, anyway?"
"You'd better come along with us, Father," a lean, hawk-faced major
on the chaplain's other side intoned with reverential sorrow. "We're
from the government. We want to ask you some questions."
"What kind of questions? What's the matter?"
"Aren't you Chaplain Tappman?" demanded the obese colonel.
"He's the one," Sergeant Whitcomb answered.
"Go on along with them," Captain Black called out to the chaplain
with a hostile and contemptuous sneer. "Go on into the car if you
know what's good for you."
Hands were drawing the chaplain away irresistibly. He wanted to
shout for help to Yossarian, who seemed too far away to hear. Some of
the men nearby were beginning to look at him with awakening curiosity.
The chaplain bent his face away with burning shame and allowed
himself to be led into the rear of a staff car and seated between the fat
colonel with the large, pink face and the skinny, unctuous, despondent
major. He automatically held a wrist out to ~ach, wondering for a
moment if they wanted to handcuff him. Another officer was already
in the front seat. A tall M.P. with a whistle and a white helmet got in
behind the wheel. The chaplain did not dare raise his eyes until the
closed car had lurched from the area and the speeding wheels were
whining on the bumpy blacktop road.
"Where are you taking me?" he asked in a voice soft with timidity
and guilt, his gaze still averted. The notion came to him that they were
holding him to blame for the mid-air crash and the death of Nately.
"What have I done?"
"Why don't you keep your trap shut and let us ask the questions?"
said the colonel.
"Don't talk to him that way," said the major. "It isn't necessary to be
so disrespectful."
"Then tell him to keep his trap shut and let us ask the questions."
"Father, please keep your trap shut and let us ask the questions,"
urged the major sympathetically. "It will be better for you."
"It isn't necessary to call me Father," said the chaplain. "I'm not a
Catholic."
"Neither am I, Father," said the major. "It's just that I'm a very
devout person, and I like to call all men of God Father."
"He doesn't even-believe there are atheists in foxholes," the colonel
mocked, and nudged the chaplain in the ribs familiarly. "Go on,
Chaplain, tell him. Are there atheists in foxholes?"
"I don't know, sir," the chaplain replied. "I've never been in a foxhole."
The officer in front swung his head around swiftly with, a quarrelsome
expression. "You've never been in heaven either, have you? But
you know there's a heaven, don't you?"
"Or do you?" said the colonel.
'''That's a very serious crime you've committed, Father," said the
major.
"What crime?"
"We don't know yet," said the colonel. "But we're going to find out.
And we sure know it's very serious."
The car swung off the road at Group Headquarters with a squeal of
tires, slackening speed only slightly, and continued around past the
parking lot to the back of the building. The three officers and the
chaplain got out. In single file, they ushered him down a wobbly flight
of wooden stairs leading to the basement and led him into a damp,
gloomy room with a low cement ceiling and unfinished stone walls.
There were cobwebs in all the corners. A huge centipede blew across
the floor to the shelter of a water pipe. They sat the chaplain in a hard,
straight-backed chair that stood behind a small, bare table.
"Please make yourself comfortable, Chaplain," invited the colonel
cordially, switching on a blinding spotlight and shooting it squarely
into the chaplain's face. He placed a set of brass knuckles and a box of
wooden matches on the table. "We want you to relax."
The chaplain's eyes bugged out incredulously. His teeth chattered
and his limbs felt utterly without strength. He was powerless. They
might do whatever they wished to him, he realized; these brutal men
might beat him to death right there in the basement, and no one would
intervene to save him, no one, perhaps, but the devout and sympathetic
major with the sharp face, who set a water tap dripping loudly into a
sink and returned to the table to lay a length of heavy rubber hose
down beside the brass knuckles.
"Everything's going to be all right, Chaplain," the major said
encouragingly. "You've got nothing to be afraid of if you're not guilty.
What are you so afraid of? You're not guilty, are you?"
"Sure he's guilty," said the colonel. "Guilty as hell."
"Guilty of what?" implored the chaplain, feeling more and more
bewildered and not knowing which of the men to appeal to for mercy.
The third officer wore no insignia and lurked in silence off to the side.
"What did I do?"
"That's just what we're going to find out," answered the colonel,
and he shoved a pad and pencil across the table to the chaplain. "Write
your name for us, will you? In your own handwriting."
"My own handwriting?"
"That's right. Anywhere on the page." When the chaplain had finished, the colonel took the pad back and held it up alongside a sheet of
paper he removed from a folder. "See?" he said to the major, who had
come to his side and was peering solemnly over his shoulder.
"They're not the same, are they?" the major admitted.
"I told you he did it."
"Did what?" asked the chaplain.
"Chaplain, this comes as a great shock to me," the major accused in
a tone of heavy lamentation.
"What does?"
"I can't tell you how disappointed 1 am in you."
"For what?" persisted the chaplain more frantically. "What have 1
done?"
"For this," replied the major, and, with an air of disillusioned disgust,
tossed down on the table the pad on which the chaplain had
signed his name. "This isn't your handwriting."
The chaplain blinked rapidly with amazement. "But of course it's
my handwriting."
"No it isn't, Chaplain. You're lying again."
"But 1just wrote it!" the chaplain cried in exasperation. "You saw me
write it."
"That's just it," the major answered bitterly. "I saw you write it. You
can't deny that you did write it. A person who'll lie about his own
handwriting will lie about anything."
"But who lied about my own handwriting?" demanded the chaplain,
forgetting his fear in the wave of anger and indignation that welled up
inside him suddenly. "Are you crazy or something? What are you both
talking about?"
"We asked you to write your name in your own handwriting. And
you didn't do it."
"But of course 1 did. In whose handwriting did 1 write it if not my
own?"
"In somebody else's."
"Whose?"
"That's just what we're going to find out," threatened the colonel.
"Talk, Chaplain."
The chaplain looked from one to the other of the two men with rising
doubt and hysteria. "That handwriting is mine," he maintained
passionately. "Where else is my handwriting, if that isn't it?"
"Right here," answered the colonel. And looking very superior, he
tossed down on the table a photostatic copy of a piece of V mail in which
everything but the salutation "Dear Mary" had been blocked out and
on which the censoring officer had written, "I long for you tragically.
A. 'T. Tappman, Chaplain, U.S. Army." The colonel smiled scornfully
as he watched the chaplain's face turn crimson. "Well, Chaplain? Do
you know who wrote that?"
The chaplain took a long moment to reply; he had recognized
Yossarian's handwriting. "No."
"You can read, though, can't you?" the colonel persevered sarcastically.
"The author signed his name."
"That's my name there."
"Then you wrote it. Q.E.D."
"But I didn't write it. That isn't my handwriting, either."
"Then you signed your name in somebody else's handwriting
again," the colonel retorted with a shrug. "That's all that means."
"Oh, this is ridiculous!" the chaplain shouted, suddenly losing all
patience. He jumped to his feet in a blazing fury, both fists clenched.
"I'm not going to stand for this any longer! Do you hear? Twelve men
were just killed, and I have no time for these silly questions. You've no
right to keep me here, and I'm just not going to stand for it."
"Without saying a word, the colonel pushed the chaplain's chest hard
and knocked him back down into the chair, and the chaplain was suddenly
weak and very much afraid again. The major picked up the
length of rubber hose' and began tapping it menacingly against his
open palm. The colonel lifted the box of matches, took one out and
held it poised against the striking surface, watching with glowering
eyes for the chaplain's next sign of defiance. The chaplain was pale and
almost too petrified to move. The bright glare of the spotlight made
him turn away finally; the dripping water tap was louder and almost
unbearably irritating. He wished they would tell him what they
wanted so that he would know what to confess. He waited tensely as
the third officer, at a signal from the colonel, ambled over from the
wall and seated himself on the table just a few inches away from the
chaplain. His face was expressionless, his eyes penetrating and cold.
"Turn off the light," he said over his shoulder in a low, calm voice.
"It's very annoying."
The chaplain gave him a small smile of gratitude. "Thank you, sir.
And the drip, too, please."
"Leave the drip," said the officer. "That doesn't bother me." He
tugged up the legs of his trousers a bit, as though to preserve their
natty crease. "Chaplain," he asked casually, "of what religious persuasion
are you?"
"I'm an Anabaptist, sir."
"That's a pretty suspicious religion, isn't it?"
"Suspicious?" inquired the chaplain in a kind of innocent daze.
"Why, sir?"
"Well, 1 don't know a thing about it. You'll have to admit that, won't
you? Doesn't that make it pretty suspicious?"
"I don't know, sir," the chaplain answered diplomatically, with an
uneasy stammer. He found the man's lack of insignia disconcerting and
was not even sure he had to say "sir." Who was he? And what authority
had he to interrogate him?
"Chaplain, 1 once studied Latin. 1 think it's only fair to warn you of
that before 1 ask my next question. Doesn't the word Anabaptist simply
mean that you're not a Baptist?"
"Oh, no, sir. There's much more."
"Are you a Baptist?"
"No, sir."
"Then you are not a Baptist, aren't you?"
"Sir?"
"I don't see why you're bickering with me on that point. You've
already admitted it. Now, Chaplain, to say you're not a Baptist doesn't
really tell us anything about what you are, does it? You could be anything
or anyone." He leaned forward slightly and his manner took on
a shrewd and significant air. "You could even be," he added, "Washington
Irving, couldn't you?"
"Washington Irving?" the chaplain repeated with surprise.
"Come on, Washington," the corpulent colonel broke in irascibly.
"Why don't you make a clean breast of it? We know you stole that
plum tomato."
After a moment's shock, the chaplain giggled with nervous relief.
"Oh, is that it!" he exclaimed. "Now I'm beginning to understand. 1
didn't steal that plum tomato, sir. Colonel Cathcart gave it to me. You
can even ask him if you don't believe me."
A door opened at the other end of the room and Colonel Cathcart
stepped into the basement as though from a closet.
"Hello, Colonel. Colonel, he claims you gave him that plum tomato.
Did you?"
"Why should 1give him a plum tomato?" answered Colonel Cathcart.
"Thank you, Colonel. That will be all."
"It's a pleasure, Colonel," Colonel Cathcart replied, and he stepped
back out of the basement, closing the door after him.
"Well, Chaplain? What have you got to say now?"
"He did give it to me!" the chaplain hissed in a whisper that was
both fierce and fearful. "He did give it to me!"
"You're not calling a superior officer a liar, are you, Chaplain?"
"Why should a superior officer give you a plum tomato, Chaplain?"
"Is that why you tried to give it to Sergeant Whitcomb, Chaplain?
Because it was a hot tomato?"
"No, no, no," the chaplain protested, wondering miserably why
they were not able to understand. "I offered it to Sergeant Whitcomb·
because I didn't want it."
"Why'd you steal it from Colonel Cathcart if you didn't want it?"
"I didn't steal it from Colonel Cathcart!"
"Then why are you so guilty, if you didn't steal it?"
"I'm not guilty!"
"Then why would we be questioning you if you weren't guilty?"
"Oh, I don't know," the chaplain groaned, kneading his fingers in
his lap and shaking his bowed and anguished head. "I don't know."
"He thinks we have time to waste," snorted the major.
"Chaplain," resumed the officer without insignia at a more leisurely
pace, lifting a typewritten sheet of yellow paper from the open folder,
"I have a signed statement here from Colonel Cathcart asserting you
stole that plum tomato from him." He lay the sheet face down on one
side of the folder and picked up a second page from the other side. "And
here I have a notarized affidavit from Sergeant Whitcomb in which he
states that he knew the tomato was hot just from the way you tried to
unload it on him."
"I swear to God I didn't steal it, sir," the chaplain pleaded with
distress, almost in tears. "I give you my sacred word it was not a hot
tomato."
"Chaplain, do you believe in God?"
"Yes, sir. Of course I do."
"That's odd, Chaplain," said the officer, taking from the folder
another typewritten yellow page, "because I have here in my hands
now another statement from Colonel Cathcart in which he swears that
you refused to cooperate with him in conducting prayer meetings in
the briefing room before each mission."
After looking blank a moment, the 'chaplain nodded quickly with
recollection. "Oh, that's not quite true, sir," he explained eagerly.
"Colonel Cathcart gave up the idea himself once he realized enlisted
men pray to the same God as officers."
"He did what?" exclaimed the officer in disbelief.
"What nonsense!" declared the red-faced colonel, and swung away
from the chaplain with dignity and annoyance.
"Does he expect us to believe that?" cried the major incredulously.
The officer without insignia chuckled acidly. "Chaplain, aren't you
stretching things a bit far now?" he inquired with a smile that was
indulgent and unfriendly.
"But, sir, it's the truth, sir! I swear it's the truth."
"I don't see how that matters one way or the other," the officer
answered nonchalantly, and reached sideways again toward the open
folder filled with papers. "Chaplain, did you say you did believe in God
in answer to my question? I don't remember."
"Yes, sir. I did say so, sir. I do believe in God."
"Then that really is very odd, Chaplain, because I have here another
affidavit from Colonel Cathcart that states you once told him atheism
was not against the law. Do you recall ever making a statement like that
to anyone?"
The chaplain nodded without any hesitation, feeling himself on
very solid ground now. "Yes, sir, I did make a statement like that. I
made it because it's true. Atheism is not against the law."
"But that's still no reason to say so, Chaplain, is it?" the officer
chided tartly, frowning, and picked up still one more typewritten, notarized
page from the folder. "And here I have another sworn statement
from Sergeant Whitcomb that says you opposed his plan of sending
letters of condolence over Colonel Cathcart's signature to the next of
kin of men killed or wounded in combat. Is that true?"
"Yes, sir, I did oppose it," answered the chaplain. "And I'm proud
that I did. Those letters are insincere and dishonest. Their only purpose
is to bring glory to Colonel Cathcart."
"But what difference does that make?" replied the officer. "They
still bring solace and comfort to the families that receive them, don't
they? Chaplain, I simply can't understand your thinking process."
The chaplain was stumped and at a complete loss for a reply. He
hung his head, feeling tongue-tied and naive.
The ruddy stout colonel stepped forward vigorously with a sudden
idea. "Why don't we knock his goddam brains out?" he suggested with
robust enthusiasm to the others.
"Yes, we could knock his goddam brains out, couldn't we?" the
hawk-faced major agreed. "He's only an Anabaptist."
"No, we've got to find him guilty first," the officer without insignia
cautioned with a languid restraining wave. He slid lightly to the floor
and moved around to the other side of the table, facing the chaplain
with both hands pressed flat on the surface. His expression was dark
and very stern, square and forbidding. "Chaplain," he announced with
magisterial rigidity, "we charge you formally with being Washington
Irving and taking capricious and unlicensed liberties in censoring the
letters of officers and enlisted men. Are you guilty or innocent?"
"Innocent, sir." The chaplain licked dry lips with a dry tongue and
leaned forward in suspense on the edge of his chair.
"Guilty," said the colonel.
"Guilty," said the major.
"Guilty it is, then," remarked the officer without insignia, and wrote
a word on a page in the folder. "Chaplain," he continued, looking up,
"we accuse you also of the commission of crimes and infractions we
don't even know about yet. Guilty or innocent?"
"I don't know, sir. How can I say if you don't tell me what they are?"
"How can we tell you if we don't know?"
"Guilty," decided the colonel.
"Sure he's guilty," agreed the major. "If they're his crimes and infractions,
he must have committed them."
"Guilty it is, then," chanted the officer without insignia, and moved
off to the side of the room. "He's all yours, Colonel."
"Thank you," commended the colonel. "You did a very good job."
He turned to the chaplain. "Okay, Chaplain, the jig's up. Take a walk."
The chaplain did not understand. "What do you wish me to do?"
"Go on, beat it, I told you!" the colonel roared, jerking a thumb
over his shoulder angrily. "Get the hell out of here."
The chaplain was shocked by his bellicose words and tone and, to
his own amazement and mystification, deeply chagrined that they were
turning him loose. "Aren't you even going to punish me?" he inquired
with querulous surprise.
"You're damned right we're going to punish you: But we're certainly
not going to let you hang around while we decide how and when to do
it. So get going. Hit the road."
The chaplain rose tentatively and took a few steps away. "I'm free to
go?"
"For the time being. But don't try to leave the island. We've got
your number, Chaplain. Just remember that we've got you under surveillance
twenty-four hours a day."
It was not conceivable that they would allow him to leave. The
chaplain walked toward the exit gingerly, expecting at any instant to be
ordered back by a peremptory voice or halted in his tracks by a heavy
blow on the shoulder or the head. They did nothing to stop him. He
found his way through the stale, dark, dank corridors to the flight of
stairs. He was staggering and panting when he climbed out into the
fresh air. As soon as he had escaped, a feeling of overwhelming moral
outrage filled him. He was furious, more furious at the atrocities of the
day than he had ever felt before in his whole life. He swept through the
spacious, echoing lobby of the building in a temper of scalding and vindictive
resentment. He was not going to stand for it any more, he told
himself, he was simply not going to stand for it. When he reached the
entrance, he spied, with a feeling of good fortune, Colonel Korn trotting
up the wide steps alone. Bracing himself with a deep breath, the
chaplain moved courageously forward to intercept him.
"Colonel, I'm not going to stand for it any more," he declared with
vehement determination, and watched in dismay as Colonel Korn
went trotting by up the steps without even noticing him. "Colonel
Korn!"
The tubby, loose figure of his superior officer stopped, turned and
came trotting back down slowly. "What is it, Chaplain?"
"Colonel Korn, I want to talk to you about the crash this morning.
It was a terrible thing to happen, terrible!"
Colonel Korn was silent a moment, regarding the chaplain with a
glint of cynical amusement. "Yes, Chaplain, it certainly was terrible,"
he said finally. "I don't know how we're going to write this one up without
making ourselves look bad."
"That isn't what I meant," the chaplain scolded firmly without any
fear at all. "Some of those twelve men had already finished their seventy
missions."
Colonel Korn laughed. "Would it be any less terrible if they had all
been new men?" he inquired caustically.
Once again the chaplain was stumped. Immoral logic seemed to be
confounding him at every turn. He was less sure of himself than before
when he continued, and his voice wavered. "Sir, it just isn't right to
make the men in this group fly eighty missions when the men in other
groups are being sent home with fifty and fifty-five."
"We'll take the matter under consideration," Colonel Korn said
with bored disinterest, and started away. "Adios, Padre."
"What does that mean, sir?" the chaplain persisted in a voice turning
shrill. .
Colonel Korn stopped with an unpleasant expression and took a
step back down. "It means we'll think about it, Padre," he answered
with sarcasm and contempt. "You wouldn't want us to do anything
without thinking about it, would you?"
"No, sir, I suppose not. But you have been thinking ,about it, haven't
you?"
"Yes, Padre, we have been thinking about it. But to make you happy,
we'll think about it some more, and you'll be the first person we'll tell
if we reach a new decision. And now, adios." Colonel Korn whirled
away again and hurried up the stairs.
"Colonel Korn!" The chaplain's cry made Colonel Korn stop once
more. His head swung slowly around toward the chaplain with a look
of morose impatience. Words gushed from the chaplain in a nervous
torrent. "Sir, I would like your permission to take the matter to
General Dreedle. I want to bring my protests to Wing Headquarters."
Colonel Korn's thick, dark jowls inflated unexpectedly with a suppressed
guffaw, and it took him a moment to reply. "That's all right,
Padre," he answered with mischievous merriment, trying hard to keep
a straight face. "You have my permission to speak to General Dreedle."
"Thank you, sir. I believe it only fair to warn you that I think I have
some influence with General Dreedle."
"It's good of you to warn me, Padre. And I believe it only fair to
warn you that you won't find General Dreedle at Wing." Colonel
Korn grinned wickedly and then broke into triumphant laughter.
"General Dreedle is out, Padre. And General Peckem is in. We have a
new wing commander."
The chaplain was stunned. "General Peckem!"
"That's right, Chaplain. Have you got any influence with him?"
"Why, I don't even know General Peckem," the chaplain protested
wretchedly.
Colonel Korn laughed again. "That's too bad, Chaplain, because
Colonel Cathcart knows him very well." Colonel Korn chuckled
steadily with gloating relish for another second or two and then
stopped abruptly. "And by the way, Padre," he warned coldly, poking
his finger once into the chaplain's chest. "The jig is up between you
and Dr. Stubbs. We know very well he sent you up here to complain
today."
"Dr. Stubbs?" The chaplain shook his head in baffled protest. "1
haven't seen Dr. Stubbs, Colonel. 1 was brought here by three strange
officers who took me down into the cellar without authority and questioned
and insulted me."
Colonel Korn poked the chaplain in the chest once more. "You know
damned well Dr. Stubbs has been telling the men in his squadron they
didn't have to fly more than seventy missions." He laughed harshly.
"Well, Padre, they do have to fly more than seventy missions, because
we're transferring Dr. Stubbs to the Pacific. So adios, Padre. Adios."
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Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Postby admin » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:17 pm

37. General Seheisskopf

Dreedle was out, and General Peckem was in, and General Peckem
had hardly moved inside General Dreedle's office to replace him when
his splendid military victory began falling to pieces around him.
"General Scheisskopf?" he inquired unsuspectingly of the sergeant
in his new office who brought him word of the order that had come in
that morning. "You mean Colonel Scheisskopf, don't you?"
"No, sir, General Scheisskopf. He was promoted to general this
morning, sir."
"Well, that's certainly curious! Scheisskopf? A general? What
grade?"
"Lieutenant general, sir, and-"
"Lieutenant general!"
"Yes, sir, and he wants you to issue no orders to anyone in your command
without first clearing them through him."
"Well, I'll be dammed," mused General Peckem with astonishment,
swearing aloud for perhaps the first time in his life. "Cargill, did you
hear that? Scheisskopf was promoted way up to lieutenant general. I'll
bet that promotion was intended for me and they gave it to him by
mistake."
Colonel Cargill had been rubbing his sturdy chin reflectively. "Why
is he giving orders to us?"
General Peckem's sleek, scrubbed, distinguished face tightened.
"Yes, Sergeant," he said slowly with an uncomprehending frown.
"Why is he issuing orders to us if he's still in Special Services and we're
in combat operations?"
"That's another change that was made this morning, sir. All combat
operations are now under the jurisdiction of Special Services. General
Scheisskopf is our new commanding officer."
General Peckem let out a sharp cry. "Oh, my God!" he wailed, and
all his practiced composure went up in hysteria. "Scheisskopf in
charge? Seheisskopf?" He pressed his fists down on his eyes with horror.
"Cargill, get me Wintergreen! Seheisskopf? Not Seheisskopf."
All phones began ringing at once. A corporal ran in and saluted.
"Sir, there's a chaplain outside to see you with news of an injustice
in Colonel Cathcart's squadron."
"Send him away, send him away! We've got enough injustices of our
own. Where's "Wintergreen?"
"Sir, General Scheisskopf is on the phone. He wants to speak to you
at once."
"Tell him I haven't arrived yet. Good Lord!" General Peckem
screamed, as though struck by the enormity of the disaster for the first
time. "Scheisskopf? The man's a moron! I walked all over that blockhead,
and now he's my superior officer. Oh, my Lord! Cargill! Cargill,
don't desert me! Where's Wintergreen?"
"Sir, I have an ex-Sergeant "Wintergreen on your telephone. He's
been trying to reach you all morning."
, "General, I can't get Wintergreen," Colonel Cargill shouted. "His
line is busy."
General Peckem was perspiring freely as he lunged for the other
telephone.
""Wintergreen! "
"Peckem, you son of a bitch-"
""Wintergreen, have you heard what they've done?"
"-what have you done, you stupid bastard?"
"They put Scheisskopf in charge of everything!"
Wintergreen was shrieking with rage and panic. "You and your goddam
memorandums! They've gone and transferred combat operations
to Special Services!"
"Oh, no," moaned General Peckem. "Is that what did it? My memoranda?
Is that what made them put Scheisskopf in charge? Why didn't
they put me in charge?"
"Because you weren't in Special Services any more. You transferred
out and left him in charge. And do you know what he wants? Do you
know what the bastard wants us all to do?"
"Sir, I think you'd better talk to General Scheisskopf," pleaded the
sergeant nervously. "He insists on speaking to someone."
"Cargill, talk to Scheisskopf for me. I can't do it. Find out what he
wants."
Colonel Cargill listened to General Scheisskopf for a moment and
went white as a sheet. "Oh, my God!" he cried as the phone fell from
his fingers. "Do you know what he wants? He wants us to march. He
wants everybody to march!"
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Re: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Postby admin » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:18 pm

38. Kid Sister

Yossarian marched backward with his gun on his hip and refused to fly
any more missions. He marched backward because he was continuously
spinning around as he walked to make certain no one was sneaking up
on him from behind. Every sound to his rear was a warning, every person
he passed a potential assassin. He kept his hand on his gun butt constantly and
smiled at no one but Hungry Joe. He told Captain Piltchard
and Captain Wren that he was through flying. Captain Piltchard and
Captain Wren left his name off the flight schedule for the next mission
I and reported the matter to Group Headquarters.
Colonel Korn' laughed calmly. "What the devil do you mean, he
won't fly more missions?" he asked with a smile as Colonel Cathcart
crept away into a corner to brood about the sinister import of the name
Yossarian popping up to plague him once again. "Why won't he?"
"His friend Nately was killed in the crash over Spezia. Maybe that's
why."
"Who does he think he is-Achilles?" Colonel Korn was pleased
with the simile and filed a mental reminder to repeat it the next time
he found himself in General Peckem's presence. "He has to fly more
missions. He has no choice. Go back and tell him you'll report the
matter to us if he doesn't change his mind."
"We already did tell him that, sir. It made no difference."
"What does Major Major say?"
"We never see Major Major. He seems to have disappeared."
"I wish we could disappear him!" Colonel Cathcart blurted out from
the corner peevishly. "The way they did that fellow Dunbar."
"Oh, there are plenty of other ways we can handle this one,"
Colonel Korn assured him confidently, and continued to Piltchard and
Wren. "Let's begin with the kindest. Send him to Rome for a rest for
a few days. Maybe this fellow's death really did hurt him a bit."
Nately's death, in fact, almost killed Yossarian too, for when he
broke the news to Nately's whore in Rome she uttered a piercing
heartbroken shriek and tried to stab him to death with a potato peeler.
"Bruto!" she howled at him in hysterical fury as he bent her arm up
around behind her back and twisted gradually until the potato peeler
dropped from her grasp. "Bruto! Bruto!" She lashed at him swiftly with
the long-nailed fingers of her free hand and raked open his cheek. She
spat in his face viciously.
"What's the matter?" he screamed in stinging pain and bewilderment,
flinging her away from him all the way across the room to the
wall. "What do you want from me?"
She flew back at him with both fists flailing and bloodied his mouth
with a solid punch before he was able to grab her wrists and hold her
still. Her hair tossed wildly. Tears were streaming in single torrents
from her flashing, hate-filled eyes' as she struggled against him
fiercely in an irrational frenzy of maddened might, snarling and cursing
savagely and screaming "Bruto! Bruto!" each time he tried to
explain. Her great strength caught him off guard, and he lost his footing.
She was nearly as tall as Yossarian, and for a few fantastic, terror-filled
moments he was certain she would overpower him in her crazed
determination, crush him to the ground and rip him apart mercilessly
limb from limb for some heinous crime he had never committed. He
wanted to yell for help as they strove against each other frantically in a
grunting, panting stalemate, arm against arm. At last she weakened,
and he was able to force her back and plead with her to let him talk,
swearing to her that Nately's death had not been his fault. She spat in
his face again, and he pushed her away hard in disgusted anger and
frustration. She hurled herself down toward the potato peeler the
instant he released her. He flung himself down after her, and they
rolled over each other on the floor several times before he could tear
the potato peeler away. She tried to trip him with her hand as he
scrambled to his feet and scratched an excruciating chunk out of his
ankle. He hopped across the room in pain and threw the potato peeler
out the window. He heaved a huge sigh of relief once he saw he was
safe.
"Now, please let me explain something to you," he cajoled in a
mature, reasoning, earnest voice.
She kicked him in the groin. Whoosh! went the air out of him, and
he sank down on his side with a shrill and ululating cry, doubled up
over his knees in chaotic agony and retching for breath. Nately's whore
ran from the room. Yossarian staggered up to his feet not a moment
too soon, for she came charging back in from the kitchen carrying a
long bread knife. A moan of incredulous dismay wafted from his lips
as, still clutching his throbbing, tender, burning bowels in both hands,
he dropped his full weight down against her shins and knocked her legs
out from under her. She flipped completely over his head and landed
on the floor on her elbows with a jarring thud. The knife skittered free,
and he slapped it out of sight under the bed. She tried to lunge after it,
and he seized her by the arm and yanked her up. She tried to kick him
in the groin again, and he slung her away with a violent oath of his
own. She slammed into the wall off balance and smashed a chair over
into a vanity table covered with combs, hairbrushes and cosmetic jars
that all went crashing off. A framed picture fell to the floor at the other
end of the room, the glass front shattering.
"What do you want from me?" he yelled at her in whining and exasperated
confusion. "I didn't kill him."
She hurled a heavy glass ash tray at his head. He made a fist and
wanted to punch her in the stomach when she came charging at him
again, but he was afraid he might harm her. He wanted to clip her very
neatly on the point of the jaw and run from the room, but there was no
clear target, and he merely skipped aside neatly at the last second and
helped her along past him with a strong shove. She banged hard
against the other wall. Now she was blocking the door. She threw a
large vase at him. Then she came at him with a full wine bottle and
struck him squarely on the temple, knocking him down half stunned
on one knee. His ears were buzzing, his whole face was numb. More
than anything else, he was embarrassed. He felt awkward because she
was going to murder him. He simply did not understand what was
going on. He had no idea what to do. But he did know he had to save
himself, and he catapulted forward off the floor when he saw her raise
the wine bottle to clout him again and barreled into her midriff before
she could strike him. He had momentum, and he propelled her before
him backward in his driving rush until her knees buckled against the .
side of the bed and she fell over onto the mattress with Yossarian
sprawled on top of her between her legs. She plunged her nails into the
side of his neck and gouged as he worked his way up the supple, full
hills and ledges of her rounded body until he covered her completely
and pressed her into submission, his fingers pursuing her thrashing
arm persistently until they arrived at the wine bottle finally and
wrenched it free. She was still kicking and cursing and scratching ferociously.
She tried to bite him cruelly, her coarse, sensual lips stretched
back over her teeth like an enraged omnivorous beast's. Now that she
lay captive beneath him, he wondered how he would ever escape her
without leaving himself vulnerable. He could feel the tensed, straddling
inside of her buffeting thighs and knees squeezing and churning
around one of his legs. He was stirred by thoughts of sex that made
him ashamed. He was conscious of the voluptuous flesh of her firm,
young-woman's body straining and beating against him like a humid,
fluid, delectable, unyielding tide, her belly and warm, live, plastic
breasts thrusting upward against him vigorously in sweet and menacing
temptation. Her breath was scalding. All at once he realized-'
though the writhing turbulence beneath him had not diminished one
whit-that she was no longer grappling with him, recognized with a
quiver that she was not fighting him but heaving her pelvis up against
him remorselessly in the primal, powerful, rhapsodic instinctual
rhythm of erotic ardor and abandonment. He gasped in delighted surprise.
Her face-as beautiful as a blooming flower to him now-was
distorted with a new kind of torture, the tissues serenely swollen, her
half-closed eyes misty and unseeing with the stultifying languor of
desire.
"Caro," she murmured hoarsely as though from the depths of a tranquil
and luxurious trance. "Ooooh, caro mio."
He stroked her hair. She drove her mouth against his face with savage
passion. He licked her neck. She wrapped her arms around him
and hugged. He felt himself falling, falling ecstatically in love with her
as she kissed him again and again with lips that were steaming .and wet
and soft and hard, mumbling deep sounds to him adoringly in an incoherent
oblivion of rapture, one caressing hand on his back slipping
deftly down inside his trouser belt while the other groped secretly and
treacherously about on the floor for the bread knife and found it. He
saved himself just in time. She still wanted to kill him! He was shocked
and astounded by her depraved subterfuge as he tore the knife from
her grasp and hurled it away. He bounded out of the bed to his feet.
His face was agog with befuddlement and disillusion. He did not know
whether to dart through the door to freedom or collapse on the bed to
fall in love with her and place himself abjectly at her mercy again. She
spared him from doing either by bursting unpredictably into tears. He
was stunned again.
This time she wept with no other emotion than grief, profound,
debilitating, humble grief, forgetting all about him. Her desolation was
pathetic as she sat with her tempestuous, proud, lovely head bowed,
her shoulders sagging, her spirit melting. This time there was no mistaking
her anguish. Great, racking sobs choked and shook her. She was
no longer aware of him, no longer cared. He could have walked from
the room safely then. But he chose to remain and console and help her.
"Please," he urged her inarticulately with his arm about her shoulders,
recollecting with pained sadness how inarticulate and enfeebled
he had felt in the plane coming back from Avignon when Snowden
kept whimpering to him that he was cold, he was cold, and all Yossarian
could offer him in return was "There, there. There, there." "Please,"
he repeated to her sympathetically. "Please, please."
She rested against him and cried until she seemed too weak to cry
any longer, and did not look at him once until he extended his handkerchief
when she had finished. She wiped her cheeks with a tiny,
polite smile and gave the handkerchief back, murmuring "Grazie, g;razie"
with meek, maidenly propriety, and then, without any warning
whatsoever of a change in mood, clawed suddenly at his eyes with both
hands. She landed with each and let out a victorious shriek.
"Ha! Assassino!" she hooted, and raced joyously across the room for
the bread knife to finish him off.
Half blinded, he rose and stumbled after her. A noise behind him
made him turn. His senses reeled in horror at what he saw. Nately's
whore's kid sister, of all people, was coming after him with another
long bread knife!
"Oh, no," he wailed with a shudder, and he knocked the knife out of
her hand with a sharp downward blow on her wrist. He lost patience
entirely with the whole grotesque and incomprehensible melee. There
was no telling who might lunge at him next through the doorway with
another long bread knife, and he lifted Nately's whore's kid sister off
the floor, threw her at Nately's whore and ran out of the room, out of
the apartment and down the stairs. The two girls chased out into the
hall after him. He heard their footsteps lag farther and farther behind
as he fled and then cease altogether. He heard sobbing directly overhead.
Glancing backward up the stair well, he spied Nately's whore sitting
in a heap on one of the steps, weeping with her face in both hands,
while her pagan, irrepressible kid sister hung dangerously over the
banister shouting "Bruto! Bruto!" down at him happily and brandished
her bread knife at him as though it were an exciting new toy she was
eager to use.
Yossarian escaped, but kept looking back over his shoulder anxiously
as he retreated through the street. People stared at him strangely, making
him more apprehensive. He walked in nervous haste, wondering
what there was in his appearance that caught everyone's attention.
When he touched his hand to a sore spot on his forehead, his fingers
turned gooey with blood, and he understood. He dabbed his face and
neck with a handkerchief. Wherever it pressed, he picked up new red
smudges. He was bleeding everywhere. He hurried into the Red Cross
building and down the two steep flights of white marble stairs to the
men's washroom, where he cleansed and nursed his innumerable visible
wounds with cold water and soap and straightened his shirt collar and
combed his hair. He had never seen a face so badly bruised and
scratched as the one still blinking back at him in the mirror with a dazed
and startled uneasiness. What on earth had she wanted from him?
When he left the men's room, Nately's whore was waiting outside in
ambush. She was crouched against the wall near the bottom of the
staircase and came pouncing down upon him like a hawk with a glittering
silver steak knife in her fist. He broke the brunt of her assault
with his upraised elbow and punched her neatly on the jaw. Her eyes
rolled. He caught her before she dropped and sat her down gently.
Then he ran up the steps and out of the building and spent the next
three hours hunting through the city for Hungry Joe so that he could
get away from Rome before she could find him again. He did not feel
really safe until the plane had taken off. When they landed in Pianosa,
Nately's whore, disguised in a mechanic's green coveralls, was waiting
with her steak knife exactly where the plane stopped, and all that saved
him as she stabbed at his chest in her leather-soled high-heeled shoes
was the gravel underfoot that made her feet roll out from under her.
Yossarian, astounded, hauled her up into the, plane and held her
motionless on the floor in a double arm-lock while Hungry Joe radioed
the control tower for permission to return to Rome. At the airport in
Rome, Yossarian dumped her out of the plane on the taxi strip, and
Hungry Joe took right off for Pianosa again without even cutting his
engines. Scarcely breathing, Yossarian scrutinized every figure warily
as he and Hungry Joe walked back, through the squadron toward their
tents. Hungry Joe eyed him steadily with a funny expression.
"Are you sure you didn't imagine the whole thing?" Hungry Joe
inquired hesitantly after a while.
"Imagine it? You were right there with me, weren't you? You just
flew her back to Rome."
"Maybe I imagined the whole thing, too. Why does she want to kill
you for?"
"She never did like me. Maybe it's because I broke his nose, or
maybe it's because I was the only one in sight she could hate when she
got the news. Do you think she'll come back?"
Yossarian went to the officers' club that night and stayed very late.
He kept a leery eye out for Nately's whore as he approached his tent.
He stopped when he saw her hiding in the bushes around the side,
gripping a huge carving knife and all dressed up to look like a Pianosan
farmer. Yossarian tiptoed around the back noiselessly and seized her
from behind.
"Caramba!" she exclaimed in a rage, and resisted like a wildcat as he
dragged her inside the tent and hurled her down on the floor.
"Hey, what's going on?" queried one of his roommates drowsily.
"Hold her till I get back," Yossarian ordered, yanking him out of
bed on top of her and running out. "Hold her!"
"Let me kill him and I'll ficky-fick you all," she offered.
The other roommates leaped out of their cots when they saw it was
a girl and tried to make her ficky-fick them all first as Yossarian ran to
get Hungry Joe, who was sleeping like a baby. Yossarian lifted Huple's
cat off Hungry Joe's face and shook him awake. Hungry Joe dressed
rapidly. This time they flew the plane north and turned in over Italy far
behind the enemy lines. When they were over level land, they strapped
a parachute on Nately's whore and shoved her out the escape hatch.
Yossarian was positive that he was at last rid of her and was relieved. As
he approached his tent back in Pianosa, a figure reared up in the darkness
right beside the path, and he fainted. He came to sitting on the
ground and waited for the knife to strike him, almost welcoming the
mortal blow for the peace it would bring. A friendly hand helped him
up instead. It belonged to a pilot in Dunbar's squadron.
"How are you doing?" asked the pilot, whispering.
"Pretty good," Yossarian answered.
"I saw you fall down just now. 1 thought something happened to
you."
"I think I fainted."
"There's a rumor in my squadron that you told them you weren't
going to fly any more combat missions." ,
"That's the truth."
"Then they came around from Group and told us that the rumor
wasn't true, that you were just kidding around."
"That was a lie."
"Do you think they'll let you get away with it?"
"I don't know."
"What will they do to you?"
"I don't know."
"Do you think they'll court-martial you for desertion in the face of
the enemy?"
"I don't know."
"I hope you get away with it," said the pilot in Dunbar's squadron,
stealing out of sight into the shadows. "Let me know how you're
doing."
Yossarian stared after him a few seconds and continued toward his
tent.
"Pssst!" said a voice a few paces onward. It was Appleby, hiding in
back of a tree. "How are you doing?"
"Pretty good," said Yossarian.
"I heard them say they were going to threaten to court-martial you
for deserting in the face of the enemy. But that they wouldn't try to go
through with it because they're not even sure they've got a case against
you on that. And because it might make them look bad with the new
commanders. Besides, you're still a pretty big hero for going around
twice over the bridge at Ferrara. I guess you're just about the biggest
hero we've got now in the group. I just thought you'd like to know that
they'll only be bluffing."
"Thanks, Appleby."
"That's the only reason I started talking to you, to warn you."
"I appreciate it."
Appleby scuffed the toes of his shoes into the ground sheepishly.
"I'm sorry we had that fist fight in the officers' club, Y6ssarian."
"That's all right."
"But I didn't start it. I guess that was all Orr's fault for hitting me in
the face with his Ping-Pong paddle. What'd he want to do that for?"
"You were beating him."
"Wasn't I supposed to beat him? Isn't that the point? Now that he's
dead, I guess it doesn't matter any more whether I'm a better Ping-
Pong player or not, does it?"
"I guess not."
"And I'm sorry about making such a fuss about those Atabrine
tablets on the way over. If you want to catch malaria, I guess it's your
business, isn't it?"
"That's all right, Appleby."
"But 1 was only trying to do my duty. 1 was obeying orders. 1 was
always taught that 1 had to obey orders."
"That's all right."
"You know, 1 said to Colonel Korn and Colonel Cathcart that 1
didn't think they ought to make you fly any more missions if you didn't
want to, and they said they were very disappointed in me."
Yossarian smiled with rueful amusement. "I'll bet they are."
"Well, 1 don't care. Hell, you've flown seventy-one. That ought to
be enough. Do you think they'll let you get away with it?"
"No."
"Say, if they do let you get away with it, they'll have to let the rest
of us get away with it, won't they?"
"That's why they can't let me get away with it."
"What do you think they'll do?"
"I don't know."
"Do you think they will try to court-martial you?"
"I don't know."
"Are you afraid?"
"Yes."
"Are you going to fly more missions?"
"No."
"I hope you do get away with it," Appleby whispered with conviction.
"I really do."
"Thanks, Appleby."
"I don't feel too happy about flying so many missions either now
that it looks as though we've got the war won. I'll let you know if! hear
anything else."
"Thanks, Appleby."
"Hey!" called a muted, peremptory voice from the leafless shrubs
growing beside his tent in a waist-high clump after Appleby had gone.
Havermeyer was hiding there in a squat. He was eating peanut brittle;
and his pimples and large oily pores looked like dark scales. "How you
doing?" he asked when Yossarian had walked to him.
"Pretty good."
"Are you going to fly more missions?"
"No."
"Suppose they try to make you?"
"I won't let them."
"Are you yellow?"
"Yes.'"
"Will they court-martial you?"
"They'll probably try."
"What did Major Major say?"
"Major Major's gone."
"Did they disappear him?"
"I don't know."
"What will you do if they decide to disappear you?"
"I'll try to stop them."
"Didn't they offer you any deals or anything if you did fly?"
"Piltchard and Wren said they'd arrange things so I'd only go on
milk runs."
Havermeyer perked up. "Say, that sounds like a pretty good deal. I
wouldn't mind a deal like that myself. I bet you snapped it up."
"I turned it down."
"That was dumb." Havermeyer's stolid, dull face furrowed with
consternation. "Say, a deal like that wasn't so fair to the rest of us, was
it? If you only flew on milk runs, then some of us would have to fly
your share of the dangerous missions, wouldn't we?"
"That's right."
"Say, I don't like that," Havermeyer exclaimed, rising resentfully
with his hands clenched on his hips. "I don't like that a bit. That's a real
royal screwing they're getting ready to give me just because you're too
goddam yellow to fly any more missions, isn't it?"
"Take it up with them," said Yossarian and moved his hand to his
gun vigilantly.
"No, I'm not blaming you," said Havermeyer, "even though I
don't like you. You know, I'm not too happy about flying so many
missions any more either. Isn't there some way I can get out of it,
too?"
Yossarian snickered ironically and joked, "Put a gun on and start
marching with me."
Havermeyer shook his head thoughtfully. "Nah, I couldn't do that.
I might bring some disgrace on my wife and kid if I acted like a coward.
Nobody likes a coward. Besides, I want to stay in the reserves
when the war is over. You get five hundred dollars a year if you stay in
the reserves."
"Then fly more missions."
"Yeah, I guess I have to. Say, do you think there's any chance they
might take you off combat duty and send you home?"
"No."
"But if they do and let you take one person with you, will you pick .
me? Don't pick anyone like Appleby. Pick me."
"Why in the world should they do something like that?"
"I don't know. But if they do, just remember that I asked you first, I .
will you? And let me know how you're doing. I'll wait for you here in
these bushes every night. Maybe if they don't do anything bad to you,
I won't fly any more missions either. Okay?"
All the next evening, people kept popping up at him out of the darkness
to ask him how he was doing, appealing to him for confidential
information with weary, troubled faces' on the basis of some morbid
and clandestine kinship he had not guessed existed. People in the
squadron he barely knew popped into sight out of nowhere as he
passed and asked him how he was doing. Even men from other
squadrons came one by one to conceal themselves in the darkness and
pop out. Everywhere he stepped after sundown someone was lying in
wait to pop out and ask him how he was doing. People popped out at
him from trees and bushes, from ditches and tall weeds, from around
the corners of tents and from behind the fenders of parked cars. Even
one of his roommates popped out to ask him how he was doing and
pleaded with him not to tell any of his other roommates he had popped
out. Yossarian drew near each beckoning, overly cautious silhouette
with his hand on his gun, never knowing which hissing shadow would
finally turn dishonestly into Nately's whore or, worse, into some duly
constituted governmental authority sent to club him ruthlessly into
insensibility. It began to look as if they would have to do something
like that. They did not want to court-martial him for desertion in the
face of the enemy because a hundred and thirty-five miles away from
the enemy could hardly be called the face of the enemy, and because
Yossarian was the one who had finally knocked down the bridge at
Ferrara by going around twice over the target and killing Kraft-he
was always almost forgetting Kraft when he counted the dead men
he knew. But they had to do something to him, and everyone waited
grimly to see what horrible thing it would be.
During the day, they avoided him, even Aarfy, and Yossarian understood
that they were different people together in daylight than they
were alone in the dark. He did not care about them at all as he walked
about backward with his hand on his gun and awaited the latest blandishments,
threats and inducements from Group each time Captains
Piltchard and Wren drove back from another urgent conference with
Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn. Hungry Joe was hardly around,
and the only other person who ever spoke to him was Captain Black,
who called him "Old Blood and Guts" in a merry, taunting voice each
time he hailed him and who came back from Rome toward the end of
the week to tell him Nately's whore was gone. Yossarian turned sorry
with a stab of yearning and remorse. He missed her.
"Gone?" he echoed in a hollow tone.
"Yeah, gone." Captain Black laughed, his bleary eyes narrow with
fatigue and his peaked, sharp face sprouting as usual with a sparse
reddish-blond stubble. He rubbed the bags under his eyes with both
fists. "I thought I might as well give the stupid broad another boff just
for old times' sake as long as I was in Rome anyway. You know, just to
keep that kid Nately's body spinning in his grave, ha, ha! Remember
the way I used to needle him? But the place was empty."
"Was there any word from her?" prodded Yossarian, who had been
brooding incessantly about the girl, wondering how much she was suffering,-
and feeling almost lonely and deserted without her ferocious
and unappeasable attacks.
"There's no one there," Captain Black exclaimed cheerfully, trying
to make Yossarian understand. "Don't you understand? They're all
gone. The whole place is busted."
"Gone?"
"Yeah, gone. Flushed right out into the street." Captain Black
chuckled heartily again, and his pointed Adam's apple jumped up and
down with glee inside his scraggly neck. "The joint's empty. The M.P.s
busted the whole apartment up and drove the whores right out. Ain't
that a laugh?"
Yossarian was scared and began to tremble. "Why'd they do that?"
"What difference does it make?" responded Captain Black with an
exuberant gesture. "They flushed them right out into the street. How
do you like that? The whole batch."
"What about the kid sister?"
"Flushed away," laughed. Captain Black. "Flushed away with the
rest of the broads. Right out into the street."
"But she's only a kid!" Yossarian objected passionately. "She doesn't
know anybody else in the whole city. What's going to happen to her?"
"What the hell do I care?" responded Captain Black with an indifferent
shrug, and then gawked suddenly at Yossarian with surprise and
with a crafty gleam of prying elation. "Say, what's the matter? If! knew
this was going to make you so unhappy, I would have come right over
and told you, just to make you eat your liver. Hey, where are you
going? Come on back! Come on back here and eat your liver!"
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