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Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
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Apple iPhone 6s
Wintergreen

   Clevinger was dead. That was the basic flaw in his philosophy. Eighteen planes had let down through a beaming white cloud off the coast of Elba one afternoon on the way back from the weekly milk run to Parma; seventeen came out. No trace was ever found of the other, not in the air or on the smooth surface of the jade waters below. There was no debris. Helicopters circled the white cloud till sunset. During the night the cloud blew away, and in the morning there was no more Clevinger.
   The disappearance was astounding, as astounding, certainly, as the Grand Conspiracy of Lowery Field, when all sixty-four men in a single barrack vanished one payday and were never heard of again. Until Clevinger was snatched from existence so adroitly, Yossarian had assumed that the men had simply decided unanimously to go AWOL the same day. In fact, he had been so encouraged by what appeared to be a mass desertion from sacred responsibility that he had gone running outside in elation to carry the exciting news to ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen.
   ‘What’s so exciting about it?’ ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen sneered obnoxiously, resting his filthy GI shoe on his spade and lounging back in a surly slouch against the wall of one of the deep, square holes it was his military specialty to dig.
   Ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen was a snide little punk who enjoyed working at cross-purposes. Each time he went AWOL, he was caught and sentenced to dig and fill up holes six feet deep, wide and long for a specified length of time. Each time he finished his sentence, he went AWOL again. Ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen accepted his role of digging and filling up holes with all the uncomplaining dedication of a true patriot.
   ‘It’s not a bad life,’ he would observe philosophically. ‘And I guess somebody has to do it.’ He had wisdom enough to understand that digging holes in Colorado was not such a bad assignment in wartime. Since the holes were in no great demand, he could dig them and fill them up at a leisurely pace, and he was seldom overworked. On the other hand, he was busted down to buck private each time he was court-martialed. He regretted this loss of rank keenly.
   ‘It was kind of nice being a P.F.C.,’ he reminisced yearningly. ‘I had status—you know what I mean?—and I used to travel in the best circles.’ His face darkened with resignation. ‘But that’s all behind me now,’ he guessed. ‘The next time I go over the hill it will be as a buck private, and I just know it won’t be the same.’ There was no future in digging holes. ‘The job isn’t even steady. I lose it each time I finish serving my sentence. Then I have to go over the hill again if I want it back. And I can’t even keep doing that. There’s a catch. Catch-22. The next time I go over the hill, it will mean the stockade. I don’t know what’s going to become of me. I might even wind up overseas if I’m not careful.’ He did not want to keep digging holes for the rest of his life, although he had no objection to doing it as long as there was a war going on and it was part of the war effort. ‘It’s a matter of duty,’ he observed, ‘and we each have our own to perform. My duty is to keep digging these holes, and I’ve been doing such a good job of it that I’ve just been recommended for the Good Conduct Medal. Your duty is to screw around in cadet school and hope the war ends before you get out. The duty of the men in combat is to win the war, and I just wish they were doing their duty as well as I’ve been doing mine. It wouldn’t be fair if I had to go overseas and do their job too, would it?’ One day ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen struck open a water pipe while digging in one of his holes and almost drowned to death before he was fished out nearly unconscious. Word spread that it was oil, and Chief White Halfoat was kicked off the base. Soon every man who could find a shovel was outside digging frenziedly for oil. Dirt flew everywhere; the scene was almost like the morning in Pianosa seven months later after the night Milo bombed the squadron with every plane he had accumulated in his M & M syndicate, and the airfield, bomb dump and repair hangars as well, and all the survivors were outside hacking cavernous shelters into the solid ground and roofing them over with sheets of armor plate stolen from the repair sheds at the field and with tattered squares of waterproof canvas stolen from the side flaps of each other’s tents. Chief White Halfoat was transferred out of Colorado at the first rumor of oil and came to rest finally in Pianosa as a replacement for Lieutenant Coombs, who had gone out on a mission as a guest one day just to see what combat was like and had died over Ferrara in the plane with Kraft. Yossarian felt guilty each time he remembered Kraft, guilty because Kraft had been killed on Yossarian’s second bomb run, and guilty because Kraft had got mixed up innocently also in the Splendid Atabrine Insurrection that had begun in Puerto Rico on the first leg of their flight overseas and ended in Pianosa ten days later with Appleby striding dutifully into the orderly room the moment he arrived to report Yossarian for refusing to take his Atabrine tablets. The sergeant there invited him to be seated.
   ‘Thank you, Sergeant, I think I will,’ said Appleby. ‘About how long will I have to wait? I’ve still got a lot to get done today so that I can be fully prepared bright and early tomorrow morning to go into combat the minute they want me to.’
   ‘Sir?’
   ‘What’s that, Sergeant?’
   ‘What was your question?’
   ‘About how long will I have to wait before I can go in to see the major?’
   ‘Just until he goes out to lunch,’ Sergeant Towser replied. ‘Then you can go right in.’
   ‘But he won’t be there then. Will he?’
   ‘No, sir. Major Major won’t be back in his office until after lunch.’
   ‘I see,’ Appleby decided uncertainly. ‘I think I’d better come back after lunch, then.’ Appleby turned from the orderly room in secret confusion. The moment he stepped outside, he thought he saw a tall, dark officer who looked a little like Henry Fonda come jumping out of the window of the orderly-room tent and go scooting out of sight around the corner. Appleby halted and squeezed his eyes closed. An anxious doubt assailed him. He wondered if he were suffering from malaria, or, worse, from an overdose of Atabrine tablets. Appleby had been taking four times as many Atabrine tablets as the amount prescribed because he wanted to be four times as good a pilot as everyone else. His eyes were still shut when Sergeant Towser tapped him lightly on the shoulder and told him he could go in now if he wanted to, since Major Major had just gone out. Appleby’s confidence returned.
   ‘Thank you, Sergeant. Will he be back soon?’
   ‘He’ll be back right after lunch. Then you’ll have to go right out and wait for him in front till he leaves for dinner. Major Major never sees anyone in his office while he’s in his office.’
   ‘Sergeant, what did you just say?’
   ‘I said that Major Major never sees anyone in his office while he’s in his office.’ Appleby stared at Sergeant Towser intently and attempted a firm tone. ‘Sergeant, are you trying to make a fool out of me just because I’m new in the squadron and you’ve been overseas a long time?’
   ‘Oh, no, sir,’ answered the sergeant deferentially. ‘Those are my orders. You can ask Major Major when you see him.’
   ‘That’s just what I intend to do, Sergeant. When can I see him?’
   ‘Never.’ Crimson with humiliation, Appleby wrote down his report about Yossarian and the Atabrine tablets on a pad the sergeant offered him and left quickly, wondering if perhaps Yossarian were not the only man privileged to wear an officer’s uniform who was crazy.
   By the time Colonel Cathcart had raised the number of missions to fifty-five, Sergeant Towser had begun to suspect that perhaps every man who wore a uniform was crazy. Sergeant Towser was lean and angular and had fine blond hair so light it was almost without color, sunken cheeks, and teeth like large white marshmallows. He ran the squadron and was not happy doing it. Men like Hungry Joe glowered at him with blameful hatred, and Appleby subjected him to vindictive discourtesy now that he had established himself as a hot pilot and a ping-pong player who never lost a point. Sergeant Towser ran the squadron because there was no one else in the squadron to run it. He had no interest in war or advancement. He was interested in shards and Hepplewhite furniture.
   Almost without realizing it, Sergeant Towser had fallen into the habit of thinking of the dead man in Yossarian’s tent in Yossarian’s own terms &mash; as a dead man in Yossarian’s tent. In reality, he was no such thing. He was simply a replacement pilot who had been killed in combat before he had officially reported for duty. He had stopped at the operations tent to inquire the way to the orderly-room tent and had been sent right into action because so many men had completed the thirty-five missions required then that Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren were finding it difficult to assemble the number of crews specified by Group. Because he had never officially gotten into the squadron, he could never officially be gotten out, and Sergeant Towser sensed that the multiplying communications relating to the poor man would continue reverberating forever.
   His name was Mudd. To Sergeant Towser, who deplored violence and waste with equal aversion, it seemed like such an abhorrent extravagance to fly Mudd all the way across the ocean just to have him blown into bits over Orvieto less than two hours after he arrived. No one could recall who he was or what he had looked like, least of all Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren, who remembered only that a new officer had shown up at the operations tent just in time to be killed and who colored uneasily every time the matter of the dead man in Yossarian’s tent was mentioned. The only one who might have seen Mudd, the men in the same plane, had all been blown to bits with him.
   Yossarian, on the other hand, knew exactly who Mudd was. Mudd was the unknown soldier who had never had a chance, for that was the only thing anyone ever did know about all the unknown soldiers—they never had a chance. They had to be dead. And this dead one was really unknown, even though his belongings still lay in a tumble on the cot in Yossarian’s tent almost exactly as he had left them three months earlier the day he never arrived—all contaminated with death less than two hours later, in the same way that all was contaminated with death in the very next week during the Great Big Siege of Bologna when the moldy odor of mortality hung wet in the air with the sulphurous fog and every man scheduled to fly was already tainted.
   There was no escaping the mission to Bologna once Colonel Cathcart had volunteered his group for the ammunition dumps there that the heavy bombers on the Italian mainland had been unable to destroy from their higher altitudes. Each day’s delay deepened the awareness and deepened the gloom. The clinging, overpowering conviction of death spread steadily with the continuing rainfall, soaking mordantly into each man’s ailing countenance like the corrosive blot of some crawling disease. Everyone smelled of formaldehyde. There was nowhere to turn for help, not even to the medical tent, which had been ordered closed by Colonel Korn so that no one could report for sick call, as the men had done on the one clear day with a mysterious epidemic of diarrhea that had forced still another postponement. With sick call suspended and the door to the medical tent nailed shut, Doc Daneeka spent the intervals between rain perched on a high stool, wordlessly absorbing the bleak outbreak of fear with a sorrowing neutrality, roosting like a melancholy buzzard below the ominous, hand-lettered sign tacked up on the closed door of the medical tent by Captain Black as a joke and left hanging there by Doc Daneeka because it was no joke. The sign was bordered in dark crayon and read: ‘CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. DEATH IN THE FAMILY.’ The fear flowed everywhere, into Dunbar’s squadron, where Dunbar poked his head inquiringly through the entrance of the medical tent there one twilight and spoke respectfully to the blurred outline of Dr. Stubbs, who was sitting in the dense shadows inside before a bottle of whiskey and a bell jar filled with purified drinking water.
   ‘Are you all right?’ he asked solicitously.
   ‘Terrible,’ Dr. Stubbs answered.
   ‘What are you doing here?’
   ‘Sitting.’
   ‘I thought there was no more sick call.’
   ‘There ain’t.’
   ‘Then why are you sitting here?’
   ‘Where else should I sit? At the goddam officers’ club with Colonel Cathcart and Korn? Do you know what I’m doing here?’
   ‘Sitting.’
   ‘In the squadron, I mean. Not in the tent. Don’t be such a goddam wise guy. Can you figure out what a doctor is doing here in the squadron?’
   ‘They’ve got the doors to the medical tents nailed shut in the other squadrons,’ Dunbar remarked.
   ‘If anyone sick walks through my door I’m going to ground him,’ Dr. Stubbs vowed. ‘I don’t give a damn what they say.’
   ‘You can’t ground anyone,’ Dunbar reminded. ‘Don’t you know the orders?’
   ‘I’ll knock him flat on his ass with an injection and really ground him.’ Dr. Stubbs laughed with sardonic amusement at the prospect. ‘They think they can order sick call out of existence. The bastards. Ooops, there it goes again.’ The rain began falling again, first in the trees, then in the mud puddles, then, faintly, like a soothing murmur, on the tent top. ‘Everything’s wet,’ Dr. Stubbs observed with revulsion. ‘Even the latrines and urinals are backing up in protest. The whole goddam world smells like a charnel house.’ The silence seemed bottomless when he stopped talking. Night fell. There was a sense of vast isolation.
   ‘Turn on the light,’ Dunbar suggested.
   ‘There is no light. I don’t feel like starting my generator. I used to get a big kick out of saving people’s lives. Now I wonder what the hell’s the point, since they all have to die anyway.
   ‘Oh, there’s a point, all right,’ Dunbar assured him.
   ‘Is there? What is the point?’
   ‘The point is to keep them from dying for as long as you can.’
   ‘Yeah, but what’s the point, since they all have to die anyway?’
   ‘The trick is not to think about that.’
   ‘Never mind the trick. What the hell’s the point?’ Dunbar pondered in silence for a few moments. ‘Who the hell knows?’ Dunbar didn’t know. Bologna should have exulted Dunbar, because the minutes dawdled and the hours dragged like centuries. Instead it tortured him, because he knew he was going to be killed.
   ‘Do you really want some more codeine?’ Dr. Stubbs asked.
   ‘It’s for my friend Yossarian. He’s sure he’s going to be killed.’
   ‘Yossarian? Who the hell is Yossarian? What the hell kind of a name is Yossarian, anyway? Isn’t he the one who got drunk and started that fight with Colonel Korn at the officers’ club the other night?’
   ‘That’s right. He’s Assyrian.’
   ‘That crazy bastard.’
   ‘He’s not so crazy,’ Dunbar said. ‘He swears he’s not going to fly to Bologna.’
   ‘That’s just what I mean,’ Dr. Stubbs answered. ‘That crazy bastard may be the only sane one left.’
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Apple iPhone 6s
Captain Black

   Corporal Kolodny learned about it first in a phone call from Group and was so shaken by the news that he crossed the intelligence tent on tiptoe to Captain Black, who was resting drowsily with his bladed shins up on the desk, and relayed the information to him in a shocked whisper.
   Captain Black brightened immediately. ‘ Bologna?’ he exclaimed with delight. ‘Well, I’ll be damned.’ He broke into loud laughter. ‘ Bologna, huh?’ He laughed again and shook his head in pleasant amazement. ‘Oh, boy! I can’t wait to see those bastards’ faces when they find out they’re going to Bologna. Ha, ha, ha!’ It was the first really good laugh Captain Black had enjoyed since the day Major Major outsmarted him and was appointed squadron commander, and he rose with torpid enthusiasm and stationed himself behind the front counter in order to wring the most enjoyment from the occasion when the bombardiers arrived for their map kits.
   ‘That’s right, you bastards, Bologna,’ he kept repeating to all the bombardiers who inquired incredulously if they were really going to Bologna. ‘Ha! Ha! Ha! Eat your livers, you bastards. This time you’re really in for it.’ Captain Black followed the last of them outside to observe with relish the effect of the knowledge upon all of the other officers and enlisted men who were assembling with their helmets, parachutes and flak suits around the four trucks idling in the center of the squadron area. He was a tall, narrow, disconsolate man who moved with a crabby listlessness. He shaved his pinched, pale face every third or fourth day, and most of the time he appeared to be growing a reddish-gold mustache over his skinny upper lip. He was not disappointed in the scene outside. There was consternation darkening every expression, and Captain Black yawned deliciously, rubbed the last lethargy from his eyes and laughed gloatingly each time he told someone else to eat his liver.
   Bologna turned out to be the most rewarding event in Captain Black’s life since the day Major Duluth was killed over Perugia and he was almost selected to replace him. When word of Major Duluth’s death was radioed back to the field, Captain Black responded with a surge of joy. Although he had never really contemplated the possibility before, Captain Black understood at once that he was the logical man to succeed Major Duluth as squadron commander. To begin with, he was the squadron intelligence officer, which meant he was more intelligent than everyone else in the squadron. True, he was not on combat status, as Major Duluth had been and as all squadron commanders customarily were; but this was really another powerful argument in his favor, since his life was in no danger and he would be able to fill the post for as long as his country needed him. The more Captain Black thought about it, the more inevitable it seemed. It was merely a matter of dropping the right word in the right place quickly. He hurried back to his office to determine a course of action. Settling back in his swivel chair, his feet up on the desk and his eyes closed, he began imagining how beautiful everything would be once he was squadron commander.
   While Captain Black was imagining, Colonel Cathcart was acting, and Captain Black was flabbergasted by the speed with which, he concluded, Major Major had outsmarted him. His great dismay at the announcement of Major Major’s appointment as squadron commander was tinged with an embittered resentment he made no effort to conceal. When fellow administrative officers expressed astonishment at Colonel Cathcart’s choice of Major Major, Captain Black muttered that there was something funny going on; when they speculated on the political value of Major Major’s resemblance to Henry Fonda, Captain Black asserted that Major Major really was Henry Fonda; and when they remarked that Major Major was somewhat odd, Captain Black announced that he was a Communist.
   ‘They’re taking over everything,’ he declared rebelliously. ‘Well, you fellows can stand around and let them if you want to, but I’m not going to. I’m going to do something about it. From now on I’m going to make every son of a bitch who comes to my intelligence tent sign a loyalty oath. And I’m not going to let that bastard Major Major sign one even if he wants to.’ Almost overnight the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was in full flower, and Captain Black was enraptured to discover himself spearheading it. He had really hit on something. All the enlisted men and officers on combat duty had to sign a loyalty oath to get their map cases from the intelligence tent, a second loyalty oath to receive their flak suits and parachutes from the parachute tent, a third loyalty oath for Lieutenant Balkington, the motor vehicle officer, to be allowed to ride from the squadron to the airfield in one of the trucks. Every time they turned around there was another loyalty oath to be signed. They signed a loyalty oath to get their pay from the finance officer, to obtain their PX supplies, to have their hair cut by the Italian barbers. To Captain Black, every officer who supported his Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a competitor, and he planned and plotted twenty-four hours a day to keep one step ahead. He would stand second to none in his devotion to country. When other officers had followed his urging and introduced loyalty oaths of their own, he went them one better by making every son of a bitch who came to his intelligence tent sign two loyalty oaths, then three, then four; then he introduced the pledge of allegiance, and after that ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ one chorus, two choruses, three choruses, four choruses. Each time Captain Black forged ahead of his competitors, he swung upon them scornfully for their failure to follow his example. Each time they followed his example, he retreated with concern and racked his brain for some new stratagem that would enable him to turn upon them scornfully again.
   Without realizing how it had come about, the combat men in the squadron discovered themselves dominated by the administrators appointed to serve them. They were bullied, insulted, harassed and shoved about all day long by one after the other. When they voiced objection, Captain Black replied that people who were loyal would not mind signing all the loyalty oaths they had to. To anyone who questioned the effectiveness of the loyalty oaths, he replied that people who really did owe allegiance to their country would be proud to pledge it as often as he forced them to. And to anyone who questioned the morality, he replied that ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ was the greatest piece of music ever composed. The more loyalty oaths a person signed, the more loyal he was; to Captain Black it was as simple as that, and he had Corporal Kolodny sign hundreds with his name each day so that he could always prove he was more loyal than anyone else.
   ‘The important thing is to keep them pledging,’ he explained to his cohorts. ‘It doesn’t matter whether they mean it or not. That’s why they make little kids pledge allegiance even before they know what "pledge" and "allegiance" mean.’ To Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren, the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a glorious pain in the ass, since it complicated their task of organizing the crews for each combat mission. Men were tied up all over the squadron signing, pledging and singing, and the missions took hours longer to get under way. Effective emergency action became impossible, but Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren were both too timid to raise any outcry against Captain Black, who scrupulously enforced each day the doctrine of ‘Continual Reaffirmation’ that he had originated, a doctrine designed to trap all those men who had become disloyal since the last time they had signed a loyalty oath the day before. It was Captain Black who came with advice to Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren as they pitched about in their bewildering predicament. He came with a delegation and advised them bluntly to make each man sign a loyalty oath before allowing him to fly on a combat mission.
   ‘Of course, it’s up to you,’ Captain Black pointed out. ‘Nobody’s trying to pressure you. But everyone else is making them sign loyalty oaths, and it’s going to look mighty funny to the F.B.I. if you two are the only ones who don’t care enough about your country to make them sign loyalty oaths, too. If you want to get a bad reputation, that’s nobody’s business but your own. All we’re trying to do is help.’ Milo was not convinced and absolutely refused to deprive Major Major of food, even if Major Major was a Communist, which Milo secretly doubted. Milo was by nature opposed to any innovation that threatened to disrupt the normal course of affairs. Milo took a firm moral stand and absolutely refused to participate in the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade until Captain Black called upon him with his delegation and requested him to.
   ‘National defense is everybody’s job,’ Captain Black replied to Milo’s objection. ‘And this whole program is voluntary, Milo —don’t forget that. The men don’t have to sign Piltchard and Wren’s loyalty oath if they don’t want to. But we need you to starve them to death if they don’t. It’s just like Catch-22. Don’t you get it? You’re not against Catch-22, are you?’ Doc Daneeka was adamant.
   ‘What makes you so sure Major Major is a Communist?’
   ‘You never heard him denying it until we began accusing him, did you? And you don’t see him signing any of our loyalty oaths.’
   ‘You aren’t letting him sign any.’
   ‘Of course not,’ Captain Black explained. ‘That would defeat the whole purpose of our crusade. Look, you don’t have to play ball with us if you don’t want to. But what’s the point of the rest of us working so hard if you’re going to give Major Major medical attention the minute Milo begins starving him to death? I just wonder what they’re going to think up at Group about the man who’s undermining our whole security program. They’ll probably transfer you to the Pacific.’ Doc Daneeka surrendered swiftly. ‘I’ll go tell Gus and Wes to do whatever you want them to.’ Up at Group, Colonel Cathcart had already begun wondering what was going on.
   ‘It’s that idiot Black off on a patriotism binge,’ Colonel Korn reported with a smile. ‘I think you’d better play ball with him for a while, since you’re the one who promoted Major Major to squadron commander.’
   ‘That was your idea,’ Colonel Cathcart accused him petulantly. ‘I never should have let you talk me into it.’
   ‘And a very good idea it was, too,’ retorted Colonel Korn, ‘since it eliminated that superfluous major that’s been giving you such an awful black eye as an administrator. Don’t worry, this will probably run its course soon. The best thing to do now is send Captain Black a letter of total support and hope he drops dead before he does too much damage.’ Colonel Korn was struck with a whimsical thought. ‘I wonder! You don’t suppose that imbecile will try to turn Major Major out of his trailer, do you?’
   ‘The next thing we’ve got to do is turn that bastard Major Major out of his trailer,’ Captain Black decided. ‘I’d like to turn his wife and kids out into the woods, too. But we can’t. He has no wife and kids. So we’ll just have to make do with what we have and turn him out. Who’s in charge of the tents?’
   ‘He is.’
   ‘You see?’ cried Captain Black. ‘They’re taking over everything! Well, I’m not going to stand for it. I’ll take this matter right to Major—de Coverley himself if I have to. I’ll have Milo speak to him about it the minute he gets back from Rome.’ Captain Black had boundless faith in the wisdom, power and justice of Major—de Coverley, even though he had never spoken to him before and still found himself without the courage to do so. He deputized Milo to speak to Major—de Coverley for him and stormed about impatiently as he waited for the tall executive officer to return. Along with everyone else in the squadron, he lived in profound awe and reverence of the majestic, white-haired major with craggy face and Jehovean bearing, who came back from Rome finally with an injured eye inside a new celluloid eye patch and smashed his whole Glorious Crusade to bits with a single stroke.
   Milo carefully said nothing when Major—de Coverley stepped into the mess hall with his fierce and austere dignity the day he returned and found his way blocked by a wall of officers waiting in line to sign loyalty oaths. At the far end of the food counter, a group of men who had arrived earlier were pledging allegiance to the flag, with trays of food balanced in one hand, in order to be allowed to take seats at the table. Already at the tables, a group that had arrived still earlier was singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ in order that they might use the salt and pepper and ketchup there. The hubbub began to subside slowly as Major—de Coverley paused in the doorway with a frown of puzzled disapproval, as though viewing something bizarre. He started forward in a straight line, and the wall of officers before him parted like the Red Sea. Glancing neither left nor right, he strode indomitably up to the steam counter and, in a clear, full-bodied voice that was gruff with age and resonant with ancient eminence and authority, said: ‘Gimme eat.’ Instead of eat, Corporal Snark gave Major—de Coverley a loyalty oath to sign. Major—de Coverley swept it away with mighty displeasure the moment he recognized what it was, his good eye flaring up blindingly with fiery disdain and his enormous old corrugated face darkening in mountainous wrath.
   ‘Gimme eat, I said,’ he ordered loudly in harsh tones that rumbled ominously through the silent tent like claps of distant thunder.
   Corporal Snark turned pale and began to tremble. He glanced toward Milo

   pleadingly for guidance. For several terrible seconds there was not a sound. Then Milo nodded.
   ‘Give him eat,’ he said.
   Corporal Snark began giving Major—de Coverley eat. Major—de Coverley turned from the counter with his tray full and came to a stop. His eyes fell on the groups of other officers gazing at him in mute appeal, and, with righteous belligerence, he roared: ‘Give everybody eat!’
   ‘Give everybody eat!’ Milo echoed with joyful relief, and the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade came to an end.
   Captain Black was deeply disillusioned by this treacherous stab in the back from someone in high place upon whom he had relied so confidently for support. Major – de Coverley had let him down.
   ‘Oh, it doesn’t bother me a bit,’ he responded cheerfully to everyone who came to him with sympathy. ‘We completed our task. Our purpose was to make everyone we don’t like afraid and to alert people to the danger of Major Major, and we certainly succeeded at that. Since we weren’t going to let him sign loyalty oaths anyway, it doesn’t really matter whether we have them or not.’ Seeing everyone in the squadron he didn’t like afraid once again throughout the appalling, interminable Great Big Siege of Bologna reminded Captain Black nostalgically of the good old days of his Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade when he had been a man of real consequence, and when even big shots like Milo Minderbinder, Doc Daneeka and Piltchard and Wren had trembled at his approach and groveled at his feet. To prove to newcomers that he really had been a man of consequence once, he still had the letter of commendation he had received from Colonel Cathcart.
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Bologna

   Actually, it was not Captain Black but Sergeant Knight who triggered the solemn panic of Bologna, slipping silently off the truck for two extra flak suits as soon as he learned the target and signaling the start of the grim procession back into the parachute tent that degenerated into a frantic stampede finally before all the extra flak suits were gone.
   ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ Kid Sampson asked nervously. ‘ Bologna can’t be that rough, can it?’ Nately, sitting trancelike on the floor of the truck, held his grave young face in both hands and did not answer him.
   It was Sergeant Knight and the cruel series of postponements, for just as they were climbing up into their planes that first morning, along came a jeep with the news that it was raining in Bologna and that the mission would be delayed. It was raining in Pianosa too by the time they returned to the squadron, and they had the rest of that day to stare woodenly at the bomb line on the map under the awning of the intelligence tent and ruminate hypnotically on the fact that there was no escape. The evidence was there vividly in the narrow red ribbon tacked across the mainland: the ground forces in Italy were pinned down forty-two insurmountable miles south of the target and could not possibly capture the city in time. Nothing could save the men in Pianosa from the mission to Bologna. They were trapped.
   Their only hope was that it would never stop raining, and they had no hope because they all knew it would. When it did stop raining in Pianosa, it rained in Bologna. When it stopped raining in Bologna, it began again in Pianosa. If there was no rain at all, there were freakish, inexplicable phenomena like the epidemic of diarrhea or the bomb line that moved. Four times during the first six days they were assembled and briefed and then sent back. Once, they took off and were flying in formation when the control tower summoned them down. The more it rained, the worse they suffered. The worse they suffered, the more they prayed that it would continue raining. All through the night, men looked at the sky and were saddened by the stars. All through the day, they looked at the bomb line on the big, wobbling easel map of Italy that blew over in the wind and was dragged in under the awning of the intelligence tent every time the rain began. The bomb line was a scarlet band of narrow satin ribbon that delineated the forwardmost position of the Allied ground forces in every sector of the Italian mainland.
   The morning after Hungry Joe’s fist fight with Huple’s cat, the rain stopped falling in both places. The landing strip began to dry. It would take a full twenty-four hours to harden; but the sky remained cloudless. The resentments incubating in each man hatched into hatred. First they hated the infantrymen on the mainland because they had failed to capture Bologna. Then they began to hate the bomb line itself. For hours they stared relentlessly at the scarlet ribbon on the map and hated it because it would not move up high enough to encompass the city. When night fell, they congregated in the darkness with flashlights, continuing their macabre vigil at the bomb line in brooding entreaty as though hoping to move the ribbon up by the collective weight of their sullen prayers.
   ‘I really can’t believe it,’ Clevinger exclaimed to Yossarian in a voice rising and falling in protest and wonder. ‘It’s a complete reversion to primitive superstition. They’re confusing cause and effect. It makes as much sense as knocking on wood or crossing your fingers. They really believe that we wouldn’t have to fly that mission tomorrow if someone would only tiptoe up to the map in the middle of the night and move the bomb line over Bologna. Can you imagine? You and I must be the only rational ones left.’ In the middle of the night Yossarian knocked on wood, crossed his fingers, and tiptoed out of his tent to move the bomb line up over Bologna.
   Corporal Kolodny tiptoed stealthily into Captain Black’s tent early the next morning, reached inside the mosquito net and gently shook the moist shoulder-blade he found there until Captain Black opened his eyes.
   ‘What are you waking me up for?’ whimpered Captain Black.
   ‘They captured Bologna, sir,’ said Corporal Kolodny. ‘I thought you’d want to know. Is the mission canceled?’ Captain Black tugged himself erect and began scratching his scrawny long thighs methodically. In a little while he dressed and emerged from his tent, squinting, cross and unshaven. The sky was clear and warm. He peered without emotion at the map. Sure enough, they had captured Bologna. Inside the intelligence tent, Corporal Kolodny was already removing the maps of Bologna from the navigation kits. Captain Black seated himself with a loud yawn, lifted his feet to the top of his desk and phoned Colonel Korn.
   ‘What are you waking me up for?’ whimpered Colonel Korn.
   ‘They captured Bologna during the night, sir. Is the mission canceled?’
   ‘What are you talking about, Black?’ Colonel Korn growled. ‘Why should the mission be canceled?’
   ‘Because they captured Bologna, sir. Isn’t the mission canceled?’
   ‘Of course the mission is canceled. Do you think we’re bombing our own troops now?’
   ‘What are you waking me up for?’ Colonel Cathcart whimpered to Colonel Korn.
   ‘They captured Bologna,’ Colonel Korn told him. ‘I thought you’d want to know.’
   ‘Who captured Bologna?’
   ‘We did.’ Colonel Cathcart was overjoyed, for he was relieved of the embarrassing commitment to bomb Bologna without blemish to the reputation for valor he had earned by volunteering his men to do it. General Dreedle was pleased with the capture of Bologna, too, although he was angry with Colonel Moodus for waking him up to tell him about it. Headquarters was also pleased and decided to award a medal to the officer who captured the city. There was no officer who had captured the city, so they gave the medal to General Peckem instead, because General Peckem was the only officer with sufficient initiative to ask for it.
   As soon as General Peckem had received his medal, he began asking for increased responsibility. It was General Peckem’s opinion that all combat units in the theater should be placed under the jurisdiction of the Special Service Corps, of which General Peckem himself was the commanding officer. If dropping bombs on the enemy was not a special service, he reflected aloud frequently with the martyred smile of sweet reasonableness that was his loyal confederate in every dispute, then he could not help wondering what in the world was. With amiable regret, he declined the offer of a combat post under General Dreedle.
   ‘Flying combat missions for General Dreedle is not exactly what I had in mind,’ he explained indulgently with a smooth laugh. ‘I was thinking more in terms of replacing General Dreedle, or perhaps of something above General Dreedle where I could exercise supervision over a great many other generals too. You see, my most precious abilities are mainly administrative ones. I have a happy facility for getting different people to agree.’
   ‘He has a happy facility for getting different people to agree what a prick he is,’ Colonel Cargill confided invidiously to ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen in the hope that ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen would spread the unfavorable report along through Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters. ‘If anyone deserves that combat post, I do. It was even my idea that we ask for the medal.’
   ‘You really want to go into combat?’ ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen inquired.
   ‘Combat?’ Colonel Cargill was aghast. ‘Oh, no—you misunderstand me. Of course, I wouldn’t actually mind going into combat, but my best abilities are mainly administrative ones. I too have a happy facility for getting different people to agree.’
   ‘He too has a happy facility for getting different people to agree what a prick he is,’ ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen confided with a laugh to Yossarian, after he had come to Pianosa to learn if it was really true about Milo and the Egyptian cotton. ‘If anyone deserves a promotion, I do.’ Actually, he had risen already to ex-corporal, having shot through the ranks shortly after his transfer to Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters as a mail clerk and been busted right down to private for making odious audible comparisons about the commissioned officers for whom he worked. The heady taste of success had infused him further with morality and fired him with ambition for loftier attainments. ‘Do you want to buy some Zippo lighters?’ he asked Yossarian. ‘They were stolen right from quartermaster.’
   ‘Does Milo know you’re selling cigarette lighters?’
   ‘What’s it his business? Milo’s not carrying cigarette lighters too now, is he?’
   ‘He sure is,’ Yossarian told him. ‘And his aren’t stolen.’
   ‘That’s what you think,’ ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen answered with a laconic snort. ‘I’m selling mine for a buck apiece. What’s he getting for his?’
   ‘A dollar and a penny.’ Ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen snickered triumphantly. ‘I beat him every time,’ he gloated. ‘Say, what about all that Egyptian cotton he’s stuck with? How much did he buy?’
   ‘All.’
   ‘In the whole world? Well, I’ll be danmed!’ ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen crowed with malicious glee. ‘What a dope! You were in Cairo with him. Why’d you let him do it?’
   ‘Me?’ Yossarian answered with a shrug. ‘I have no influence on him. It was those teletype machines they have in all the good restaurants there. Milo had never seen a stock ticker before, and the quotation for Egyptian cotton happened to be coming in just as he asked the headwaiter to explain it to him. "Egyptian cotton?" Milo said with that look of his. "How much is Egyptian cotton selling for?" The next thing I knew he had bought the whole goddam harvest. And now he can’t unload any of it.’
   ‘He has no imagination. I can unload plenty of it in the black market if he’ll make a deal.’
   ‘ Milo knows the black market. There’s no demand for cotton.’
   ‘But there is a demand for medical supplies. I can roll the cotton up on wooden toothpicks and peddle them as sterile swabs. Will he sell to me at a good price?’
   ‘He won’t sell to you at any price,’ Yossarian answered. ‘He’s pretty sore at you for going into competition with him. In fact, he’s pretty sore at everybody for getting diarrhea last weekend and giving his mess hall a bad name. Say, you can help us.’ Yossarian suddenly seized his arm. ‘Couldn’t you forge some official orders on that mimeograph machine of yours and get us out of flying to Bologna?’ Ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen pulled away slowly with a look of scorn. ‘Sure I could,’ he explained with pride. ‘But I would never dream of doing anything like that.’
   ‘Why not?’
   ‘Because it’s your job. We all have our jobs to do. My job is to unload these Zippo lighters at a profit if I can and pick up some cotton from Milo. Your job is to bomb the ammunition dumps at Bologna.’
   ‘But I’m going to be killed at Bologna,’ Yossarian pleaded. ‘We’re all going to be killed.’
   ‘Then you’ll just have to be killed,’ replied ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen. ‘Why can’t you be a fatalist about it the way I am? If I’m destined to unload these lighters at a profit and pick up some Egyptian cotton cheap from Milo, then that’s what I’m going to do. And if you’re destined to be killed over Bologna, then you’re going to be killed, so you might just as well go out and die like a man. I hate to say this, Yossarian, but you’re turning into a chronic complainer.’ Clevinger agreed with ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen that it was Yossarian’s job to get killed over Bologna and was livid with condemnation when Yossarian confessed that it was he who had moved the bomb line and caused the mission to be canceled.
   ‘Why the hell not?’ Yossarian snarled, arguing all the more vehemently because he suspected he was wrong. ‘Am I supposed to get my ass shot off just because the colonel wants to be a general?’
   ‘What about the men on the mainland?’ Clevinger demanded with just as much emotion. ‘Are they supposed to get their asses shot off just because you don’t want to go? Those men are entitled to air support!’
   ‘But not necessarily by me. Look, they don’t care who knocks out those ammunition dumps. The only reason we’re going is because that bastard Cathcart volunteered us.’
   ‘Oh, I know all that,’ Clevinger assured him, his gaunt face pale and his agitated brown eyes swimming in sincerity. ‘But the fact remains that those ammunition dumps are still standing. You know very well that I don’t approve of Colonel Cathcart any more than you do.’ Clevinger paused for emphasis, his mouth quivering, and then beat his fist down softly against his sleeping-bag. ‘But it’s not for us to determine what targets must be destroyed or who’s to destroy them or—’
   ‘Or who gets killed doing it? And why?’
   ‘Yes, even that. We have no right to question—’
   ‘You’re insane!’
   ‘—no right to question—’
   ‘Do you really mean that it’s not my business how or why I get killed and that it is Colonel Cathcart’s? Do you really mean that?’
   ‘Yes, I do,’ Clevinger insisted, seeming unsure. ‘There are men entrusted with winning the war who are in a much better position than we are to decide what targets have to be bombed.’
   ‘We are talking about two different things,’ Yossarian answered with exaggerated weariness. ‘You are talking about the relationship of the Air Corps to the infantry, and I am talking about the relationship of me to Colonel Cathcart. You are talking about winning the war, and I am talking about winning the war and keeping alive.’
   ‘Exactly,’ Clevinger snapped smugly. ‘And which do you think is more important?’
   ‘To whom?’ Yossarian shot back. ‘Open your eyes, Clevinger. It doesn’t make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who’s dead.’ Clevinger sat for a moment as though he’d been slapped. ‘Congratulations!’ he exclaimed bitterly, the thinnest milk-white line enclosing his lips tightly in a bloodless, squeezing ring. ‘I can’t think of another attitude that could be depended upon to give greater comfort to the enemy.’
   ‘The enemy,’ retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, ‘is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart. And don’t you forget that, because the longer you remember it, the longer you might live.’ But Clevinger did forget it, and now he was dead. At the time, Clevinger was so upset by the incident that Yossarian did not dare tell him he had also been responsible for the epidemic of diarrhea that had caused the other unnecessary postponement. Milo was even more upset by the possibility that someone had poisoned his squadron again, and he came bustling fretfully to Yossarian for assistance.
   ‘Please find out from Corporal Snark if he put laundry soap in the sweet potatoes again,’ he requested furtively. ‘Corporal Snark trusts you and will tell you the truth if you give him your word you won’t tell anyone else. As soon as he tells you, come and tell me.’
   ‘Of course I put laundry soap in the sweet potatoes,’ Corporal Snark admitted to Yossarian. ‘That’s what you asked me to do, isn’t it? Laundry soap is the best way.’
   ‘He swears to God he didn’t have a thing to do with it,’ Yossarian reported back to Milo.
   Milo pouted dubiously. ‘ Dunbar says there is no God.’ There was no hope left. By the middle of the second week, everyone in the squadron began to look like Hungry Joe, who was not scheduled to fly and screamed horribly in his sleep. He was the only one who could sleep. All night long, men moved through the darkness outside their tents like tongueless wraiths with cigarettes. In the daytime they stared at the bomb line in futile, drooping clusters or at the still figure of Doc Daneeka sitting in front of the closed door of the medical tent beneath the morbid hand-lettered sign. They began to invent humorless, glum jokes of their own and disastrous rumors about the destruction awaiting them at Bologna.
   Yossarian sidled up drunkenly to Colonel Korn at the officers’ club one night to kid with him about the new Lepage gun that the Germans had moved in.
   ‘What Lepage gun?’ Colonel Korn inquired with curiosity.
   ‘The new three-hundred-and-forty-four-millimeter Lepage glue gun,’ Yossarian answered. ‘It glues a whole formation of planes together in mid-air.’ Colonel Korn jerked his elbow free from Yossarian’s clutching fingers in startled affront. ‘Let go of me, you idiot!’ he cried out furiously, glaring with vindictive approval as Nately leaped upon Yossarian’s back and pulled him away. ‘Who is that lunatic, anyway?’ Colonel Cathcart chortled merrily. ‘That’s the man you made me give a medal to after Ferrara. You had me promote him to captain, too, remember? It serves you right.’ Nately was lighter than Yossarian and had great difficulty maneuvering Yossarian’s lurching bulk across the room to an unoccupied table. ‘Are you crazy?’ Nately kept hissing with trepidation. ‘That was Colonel Korn. Are you crazy?’ Yossarian wanted another drink and promised to leave quietly if Nately brought him one. Then he made Nately bring him two more. When Nately finally coaxed him to the door, Captain Black came stomping in from outside, banging his sloshing shoes down hard on the wood floor and spilling water from his eaves like a high roof.
   ‘Boy, are you bastards in for it!’ he announced exuberantly, splashing away from the puddle forming at his feet. ‘I just got a call from Colonel Korn. Do you know what they’ve got waiting for you at Bologna? Ha! Ha! They’ve got the new Lepage glue gun. It glues a whole formation of planes together in mid-air.’
   ‘My God, it’s true!’ Yossarian shrieked, and collapsed against Nately in terror.
   ‘There is no God,’ answered Dunbar calmly, coming up with a slight stagger.
   ‘Hey, give me a hand with him, will you? I’ve got to get him back in his tent.’
   ‘Says who?’
   ‘Says me. Gee, look at the rain.’
   ‘We’ve got to get a car.’
   ‘Steal Captain Black’s car,’ said Yossarian. ‘That’s what I always do.’
   ‘We can’t steal anybody’s car. Since you began stealing the nearest car every time you wanted one, nobody leaves the ignition on.’
   ‘Hop in,’ said Chief White Halfoat, driving up drunk in a covered jeep. He waited until they had crowded inside and then spurted ahead with a suddenness that rolled them all over backward. He roared with laughter at their curses. He drove straight ahead when he left the parking lot and rammed the car into the embankment on the other side of the road. The others piled forward in a helpless heap and began cursing him again. ‘I forgot to turn,’ he explained.
   ‘Be careful, will you?’ Nately cautioned. ‘You’d better put your headlights on.’ Chief White Halfoat pulled back in reverse, made his turn and shot away up the road at top speed. The wheels were sibilant on the whizzing blacktop surface.
   ‘Not so fast,’ urged Nately.
   ‘You’d better take me to your squadron first so I can help you put him to bed. Then you can drive me back to my squadron.’
   ‘Who the hell are you?’
   ‘ Dunbar.’
   ‘Hey, put your headlights on,’ Nately shouted. ‘And watch the road!’
   ‘They are on. Isn’t Yossarian in this car? That’s the only reason I let the rest of you bastards in.’ Chief White Halfoat turned completely around to stare into the back seat.
   ‘Watch the road!’
   ‘Yossarian? Is Yossarian in here?’
   ‘I’m here, Chief. Let’s go home. What makes you so sure? You never answered my question.’
   ‘You see? I told you he was here.’
   ‘What question?’
   ‘Whatever it was we were talking about.’
   ‘Was it important?’
   ‘I don’t remember if it was important or not. I wish to God I knew what it was.’
   ‘There is no God.’
   ‘That’s what we were talking about,’ Yossarian cried. ‘What makes you so sure?’
   ‘Hey, are you sure your headlights are on?’ Nately called out.
   ‘They’re on, they’re on. What does he want from me? It’s all this rain on the windshield that makes it look dark from back there.’
   ‘Beautiful, beautiful rain.’
   ‘I hope it never stops raining. Rain, rain, go a—’
   ‘—way. Come a—’
   ‘—again some oth—’
   ‘—er day. Little Yo-Yo wants—’
   ‘—to play. In—’
   ‘—the meadow, in—’ Chief White Halfoat missed the next turn in the road and ran the jeep all the way up to the crest of a steep embankment. Rolling back down, the jeep turned over on its side and settled softly in the mud. There was a frightened silence.
   ‘Is everyone all right?’ Chief White Halfoat inquired in a hushed voice. No one was injured, and he heaved a long sigh of relief. ‘You know, that’s my trouble,’ he groaned. ‘I never listen to anybody. Somebody kept telling me to put my headlights on, but I just wouldn’t listen.’
   ‘I kept telling you to put your headlights on.’
   ‘I know, I know. And I just wouldn’t listen, would I? I wish I had a drink. I do have a drink. Look. It’s not broken.’
   ‘It’s raining in,’ Nately noticed. ‘I’m getting wet.’ Chief White Halfoat got the bottle of rye open, drank and handed it off. Lying tangled up on top of each other, they all drank but Nately, who kept groping ineffectually for the door handle. The bottle fell against his head with a clunk, and whiskey poured down his neck. He began writhing convulsively.
   ‘Hey, we’ve got to get out of here!’ he cried. ‘We’ll all drown.’
   ‘Is anybody in there?’ asked Clevinger with concern, shining a flashlight down from the top.
   ‘It’s Clevinger!’ they shouted, and tried to pull him in through the window as he reached down to aid them.
   ‘Look at them!’ Clevinger exclaimed indignantly to McWatt, who sat grinning at the wheel of the staff car. ‘Lying there like a bunch of drunken animals. You too, Nately? You ought to be ashamed! Come on—help me get them out of here before they all die of pneumonia.’
   ‘You know, that don’t sound like such a bad idea,’ Chief White Halfoat reflected. ‘I think I will die of pneumonia.’
   ‘Why?’
   ‘Why not?’ answered Chief White Halfoat, and lay back in the mud contentedly with the bottle of rye cuddled in his arms.
   ‘Oh, now look what he’s doing!’ Clevinger exclaimed with irritation. ‘Will you get up and get into the car so we can all go back to the squadron?’
   ‘We can’t all go back. Someone has to stay here to help the Chief with this car he signed out of the motor pool.’ Chief White Halfoat settled back in the staff car with an ebullient, prideful chuckle. ‘That’s Captain Black’s car,’ he informed them jubilantly. ‘I stole it from him at the officers’ club just now with an extra set of keys he thought he lost this morning.’
   ‘Well, I’ll be damned! That calls for a drink.’
   ‘Haven’t you had enough to drink?’ Clevinger began scolding as soon as McWatt started the car. ‘Look at you. You don’t care if you drink yourselves to death or drown yourselves to death, do you?’
   ‘Just as long as we don’t fly ourselves to death.’
   ‘Hey, open it up, open it up,’ Chief White Halfoat urged McWatt. ‘And turn off the headlights. That’s the only way to do it.’
   ‘Doc Daneeka is right,’ Clevinger went on. ‘People don’t know enough to take care of themselves. I really am disgusted with all of you.’
   ‘Okay, fatmouth, out of the car,’ Chief White Halfoat ordered. ‘Everybody get out of the car but Yossarian. Where’s Yossarian?’
   ‘Get the hell off me.’ Yossarian laughed, pushing him away. ‘You’re all covered with mud.’ Clevinger focused on Nately. ‘You’re the one who really surprises me. Do you know what you smell like? Instead of trying to keep him out of trouble, you get just as drunk as he is. Suppose he got in another fight with Appleby?’ Clevinger’s eyes opened wide with alarm when he heard Yossarian chuckle. ‘He didn’t get in another fight with Appleby, did he?’
   ‘Not this time,’ said Dunbar.
   ‘No, not this time. This time I did even better.’
   ‘This time he got in a fight with Colonel Korn.’
   ‘He didn’t!’ gasped Clevinger.
   ‘He did?’ exclaimed Chief White Halfoat with delight. ‘That calls for a drink.’
   ‘But that’s terrible!’ Clevinger declared with deep apprehension. ‘Why in the world did you have to pick on Colonel Korn? Say, what happened to the lights? Why is everything so dark?’
   ‘I turned them off,’ answered McWatt. ‘You know, Chief White Halfoat is right. It’s much better with the headlights off.’
   ‘Are you crazy?’ Clevinger screamed, and lunged forward to snap the headlights on. He whirled around upon Yossarian in near hysteria. ‘You see what you’re doing? You’ve got them all acting like you! Suppose it stops raining and we have to fly to Bologna tomorrow. You’ll be in fine physical condition.’
   ‘It won’t ever gonna stop raining. No, sir, a rain like this really might go on forever.’
   ‘It has stopped raining!’ someone said, and the whole car fell silent.
   ‘You poor bastards,’ Chief White Halfoat murmured compassionately after a few moments had passed.
   ‘Did it really stop raining?’ Yossarian asked meekly.
   McWatt switched off the windshield wipers to make certain. The rain had stopped. The sky was starting to clear. The moon was sharp behind a gauzy brown mist.
   ‘Oh, well,’ sang McWatt soberly. ‘What the hell.’
   ‘Don’t worry, fellas,’ Chief White Halfoat said. ‘The landing strip is too soft to use tomorrow. Maybe it’ll start raining again before the field dries out.’
   ‘You goddam stinking lousy son of a bitch,’ Hungry Joe screamed from his tent as they sped into the squadron.
   ‘Jesus, is he back here tonight? I thought he was still in Rome with the courier ship.’
   ‘Oh! Ooooh! Oooooooh!’ Hungry Joe screamed.
   Chief White Halfoat shuddered. ‘That guy gives me the willies,’ he confessed in a grouchy whisper. ‘Hey, whatever happened to Captain Flume?’
   ‘There’s a guy that gives me the willies. I saw him in the woods last week eating wild berries. He never sleeps in his trailer any more. He looked like hell.’
   ‘Hungry Joe’s afraid he’ll have to replace somebody who goes on sick call, even though there is no sick call. Did you see him the other night when he tried to kill Havermeyer and fell into Yossarian’s slit trench?’
   ‘Ooooh!’ screamed Hungry Joe. ‘Oh! Ooooh! Ooooooh!’
   ‘It sure is a pleasure not having Flume around in the mess hall any more. No more of that "Pass the salt, Walt." ‘
   ‘Or "Pass the bread, Fred." ‘
   ‘Or "Shoot me a beet, Pete." ‘
   ‘Keep away, keep away,’ Hungry Joe screamed. ‘I said keep away, keep away, you goddam stinking lousy son of a bitch.’
   ‘At least we found out what he dreams about,’ Dunbar observed wryly. ‘He dreams about goddam stinking lousy sons of bitches.’ Late that night Hungry Joe dreamed that Huple’s cat was sleeping on his face, suffocating him, and when he woke up, Huple’s cat was sleeping on his face. His agony was terrifying, the piercing, unearthly howl with which he split the moonlit dark vibrating in its own impact for seconds afterward like a devastating shock. A numbing silence followed, and then a riotous din rose from inside his tent.
   Yossarian was among the first ones there. When he burst through the entrance, Hungry Joe had his gun out and was struggling to wrench his arm free from Huple to shoot the cat, who kept spitting and feinting at him ferociously to distract him from shooting Huple. Both humans were in their GI underwear. The unfrosted light bulb overhead was swinging crazily on its loose wire, and the jumbled black shadows kept swirling and bobbing chaotically, so that the entire tent seemed to be reeling. Yossarian reached out instinctively for balance and then launched himself forward in a prodigious dive that crushed the three combatants to the ground beneath him. He emerged from the melee with the scruff of a neck in each hand—Hungry Joe’s neck and the cat’s. Hungry Joe and the cat glared at each other savagely. The cat spat viciously at Hungry Joe, and Hungry Joe tried to hit it with a haymaker.
   ‘A fair fight,’ Yossarian decreed, and all the others who had come running to the uproar in horror began cheering ecstatically in a tremendous overflow of relief. ‘We’ll have a fair fight,’ he explained officially to Hungry Joe and the cat after he had carried them both outside, still holding them apart by the scruffs of their necks. ‘Fists, fangs and claws. But no guns,’ he warned Hungry Joe. ‘And no spitting,’ he warned the cat sternly. ‘When I turn you both loose, go. Break clean in the clinches and come back fighting. Go!’ There was a huge, giddy crowd of men who were avid for any diversion, but the cat turned chicken the moment Yossarian released him and fled from Hungry Joe ignominiously like a yellow dog. Hungry Joe was declared the winner. He swaggered away happily with the proud smile of a champion, his shriveled head high and his emaciated chest out. He went back to bed victorious and dreamed again that Huple’s cat was sleeping on his face, suffocating him.
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Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
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Apple iPhone 6s
Major—De Coverley

   Moving the bomb line did not fool the Germans, but it did fool Major—de Coverley, who packed his musette bag, commandeered an airplane and, under the impression that Florence too had been captured by the Allies, had himself flown to that city to rent two apartments for the officers and the enlisted men in the squadron to use on rest leaves. He had still not returned by the time Yossarian jumped back outside Major Major’s office and wondered whom to appeal to next for help.
   Major—de Coverley was a splendid, awe-inspiring, grave old man with a massive leonine head and an angry shock of wild white hair that raged like a blizzard around his stern, patriarchal face. His duties as squadron executive officer did consist entirely, as both Doc Daneeka and Major Major had conjectured, of pitching horseshoes, kidnaping Italian laborers, and renting apartments for the enlisted men and officers to use on rest leaves, and he excelled at all three.
   Each time the fall of a city like Naples, Rome or Florence seemed imminent, Major—de Coverley would pack his musette bag, commandeer an airplane and a pilot, and have himself flown away, accomplishing all this without uttering a word, by the sheer force of his solemn, domineering visage and the peremptory gestures of his wrinkled finger. A day or two after the city fell, he would be back with leases on two large and luxurious apartments there, one for the officers and one for the enlisted men, both already staffed with competent, jolly cooks and maids. A few days after that, newspapers would appear throughout the world with photographs of the first American soldiers bludgeoning their way into the shattered city through rubble and smoke. Inevitably, Major—de Coverley was among them, seated straight as a ramrod in a jeep he had obtained from somewhere, glancing neither right nor left as the artillery fire burst about his invincible head and lithe young infantrymen with carbines went loping up along the sidewalks in the shelter of burning buildings or fell dead in doorways. He seemed eternally indestructible as he sat there surrounded by danger, his features molded firmly into that same fierce, regal, just and forbidding countenance which was recognized and revered by every man in the squadron.
   To German intelligence, Major—de Coverley was a vexatious enigma; not one of the hundreds of American prisoners would ever supply any concrete information about the elderly white-haired officer with the gnarled and menacing brow and blazing, powerful eyes who seemed to spearhead every important advance so fearlessly and successfully. To American authorities his identity was equally perplexing; a whole regiment of crack C.I.D. men had been thrown into the front lines to find out who he was, while a battalion of combat-hardened public-relations officers stood on red alert twenty-four hours a day with orders to begin publicizing him the moment he was located.
   In Rome, Major—de Coverley had outdone himself with the apartments. For the officers, who arrived in groups of four or five, there was an immense double room for each in a new white stone building, with three spacious bathrooms with walls of shimmering aquamarine tile and one skinny maid named Michaela who tittered at everything and kept the apartment in spotless order. On the landing below lived the obsequious owners. On the landing above lived the beautiful rich black-haired Countess and her beautiful, rich black-haired daughter-in-law, both of whom would put out only for Nately, who was too shy to want them, and for Aarfy, who was too stuffy to take them and tried to dissuade them from ever putting out for anyone but their husbands, who had chosen to remain in the north with the family’s business interests.
   ‘They’re really a couple of good kids,’ Aarfy confided earnestly to Yossarian, whose recurring dream it was to have the nude milk-white female bodies of both these beautiful rich black-haired good kids lying stretched out in bed erotically with him at the same time.
   The enlisted men descended upon Rome in gangs of twelve or more with Gargantuan appetites and heavy crates filled with canned food for the women to cook and serve to them in the dining room of their own apartment on the sixth floor of a red brick building with a clinking elevator. There was always more activity at the enlisted men’s place. There were always more enlisted men, to begin with, and more women to cook and serve and sweep and scrub, and then there were always the gay and silly sensual young girls that Yossarian had found and brought there and those that the sleepy enlisted men returning to Pianosa after their exhausting seven-day debauch had brought there on their own and were leaving behind for whoever wanted them next. The girls had shelter and food for as long as they wanted to stay. All they had to do in return was hump any of the men who asked them to, which seemed to make everything just about perfect for them.
   Every fourth day or so Hungry Joe came crashing in like a man in torment, hoarse, wild, and frenetic, if he had been unlucky enough to finish his missions again and was flying the courier ship. Most times he slept at the enlisted men’s apartment. Nobody was certain how many rooms Major—de Coverley had rented, not even the stout black-bodiced woman in corsets on the first floor from whom he had rented them. They covered the whole top floor, and Yossarian knew they extended down to the fifth floor as well, for it was in Snowden’s room on the fifth floor that he had finally found the maid in the lime-colored panties with a dust mop the day after Bologna, after Hungry Joe had discovered him in bed with Luciana at the officers’ apartment that same morning and had gone running like a fiend for his camera.
   The maid in the lime-colored panties was a cheerful, fat, obliging woman in her mid-thirties with squashy thighs and swaying hams in lime-colored panties that she was always rolling off for any man who wanted her. She had a plain broad face and was the most virtuous woman alive: she laid for everybody, regardless of race, creed, color or place of national origin, donating herself sociably as an act of hospitality, procrastinating not even for the moment it might take to discard the cloth or broom or dust mop she was clutching at the time she was grabbed. Her allure stemmed from her accessibility; like Mt. Everest, she was there, and the men climbed on top of her each time they felt the urge. Yossarian was in love with the maid in the lime-colored panties because she seemed to be the only woman left he could make love to without falling in love with. Even the bald-headed girl in Sicily still evoked in him strong sensations of pity, tenderness and regret.
   Despite the multiple perils to which Major—de Coverley exposed himself each time he rented apartments, his only injury had occurred, ironically enough, while he was leading the triumphal procession into the open city of Rome, where he was wounded in the eye by a flower fired at him from close range by a seedy, cackling, intoxicated old man, who, like Satan himself, had then bounded up on Major—de Coverley’s car with malicious glee, seized him roughly and contemptuously by his venerable white head and kissed him mockingly on each cheek with a mouth reeking with sour fumes of wine, cheese and garlic, before dropping back into the joyous celebrating throngs with a hollow, dry, excoriating laugh. Major—de Coverley, a Spartan in adversity, did not flinch once throughout the whole hideous ordeal. And not until he had returned to Pianosa, his business in Rome completed, did he seek medical attention for his wound.
   He resolved to remain binocular and specified to Doc Daneeka that his eye patch be transparent so that he could continue pitching horseshoes, kidnaping Italian laborers and renting apartments with unimpaired vision. To the men in the squadron, Major—de Coverley was a colossus, although they never dared tell him so. The only one who ever did dare address him was Milo Minderbinder, who approached the horseshoe-pitching pit with a hard-boiled egg his second week in the squadron and held it aloft for Major—de Coverley to see. Major—de Coverley straightened with astonishment at Milo’s effrontery and concentrated upon him the full fury of his storming countenance with its rugged overhang of gullied forehead and huge crag of a humpbacked nose that came charging out of his face wrathfully like a Big Ten fullback. Milo stood his ground, taking shelter behind the hard-boiled egg raised protectively before his face like a magic charm. In time the gale began to subside, and the danger passed.
   ‘What is that?’ Major—de Coverley demanded at last.
   ‘An egg,’ Milo answered ‘What kind of an egg?’ Major—de Coverley demanded.
   ‘A hard-boiled egg,’ Milo answered.
   ‘What kind of a hard-boiled egg?’ Major—de Coverley demanded.
   ‘A fresh hard-boiled egg,’ Milo answered.
   ‘Where did the fresh egg come from?’ Major—de Coverley demanded.
   ‘From a chicken,’ Milo answered.
   ‘Where is the chicken?’ Major—de Coverley demanded.
   ‘The chicken is in Malta,’ Milo answered.
   ‘How many chickens are there in Malta?’
   ‘Enough chickens to lay fresh eggs for every officer in the squadron at five cents apiece from the mess fund,’ Milo answered.
   ‘I have a weakness for fresh eggs,’ Major—de Coverley confessed.
   ‘If someone put a plane at my disposal, I could fly down there once a week in a squadron plane and bring back all the fresh eggs we need,’ Milo answered. ‘After all, Malta’s not so far away.’
   ‘Malta’s not so far away,’ Major—de Coverley observed. ‘You could probably fly down there once a week in a squadron plane and bring back all the fresh eggs we need.’
   ‘Yes,’ Milo agreed. ‘I suppose I could do that, if someone wanted me to and put a plane at my disposal.’
   ‘I like my fresh eggs fried,’ Major—de Coverley remembered. ‘In fresh butter.’
   ‘I can find all the fresh butter we need in Sicily for twenty-five cents a pound,’ Milo answered. ‘Twenty-five cents a pound for fresh butter is a good buy. There’s enough money in the mess fund for butter too, and we could probably sell some to the other squadrons at a profit and get back most of what we pay for our own.’
   ‘What’s your name, son?’ asked Major—de Coverley.
   ‘My name is Milo Minderbinder, sir. I am twenty-seven years old.’
   ‘You’re a good mess officer, Milo.’
   ‘I’m not the mess officer, sir.’
   ‘You’re a good mess officer, Milo.’
   ‘Thank you, sir. I’ll do everything in my power to be a good mess officer.’
   ‘Bless you, my boy. Have a horseshoe.’
   ‘Thank you, sir. What should I do with it?’
   ‘Throw it.’
   ‘Away?’
   ‘At the peg there. Then pick it up and throw it at this peg. It’s a game, see? You get the horseshoe back.’
   ‘Yes, sir. I see. How much are horseshoes selling for?’ The smell of a fresh egg snapping exotically in a pool of fresh butter carried a long way on the Mediterranean trade winds and brought General Dreedle racing back with a voracious appetite, accompanied by his nurse, who accompanied him everywhere, and his son-in-law, Colonel Moodus. In the beginning General Dreedle devoured all his meals in Milo’s mess hall. Then the other three squadrons in Colonel Cathcart’s group turned their mess halls over to Milo and gave him an airplane and a pilot each so that he could buy fresh eggs and fresh butter for them too. Milo’s planes shuttled back and forth seven days a week as every officer in the four squadrons began devouring fresh eggs in an insatiable orgy of fresh-egg eating. General Dreedle devoured fresh eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner—between meals he devoured more fresh eggs—until Milo located abundant sources of fresh veal, beef, duck, baby lamb chops, mushroom caps, broccoli, South African rock lobster tails, shrimp, hams, puddings, grapes, ice cream, strawberries and artichokes. There were three other bomb groups in General Dreedle’s combat wing, and they each jealously dispatched their own planes to Malta for fresh eggs, but discovered that fresh eggs were selling there for seven cents apiece. Since they could buy them from Milo for five cents apiece, it made more sense to turn over their mess halls to his syndicate, too, and give him the planes and pilots needed to ferry in all the other good food he promised to supply as well.
   Everyone was elated with this turn of events, most of all Colonel Cathcart, who was convinced he had won a feather in his cap. He greeted Milo jovially each time they met and, in an excess of contrite generosity, impulsively recommended Major Major for promotion. The recommendation was rejected at once at Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters by ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen, who scribbled a brusque, unsigned reminder that the Army had only one Major Major Major Major and did not intend to lose him by promotion just to please Colonel Cathcart. Colonel Cathcart was stung by the blunt rebuke and skulked guiltily about his room in smarting repudiation. He blamed Major Major for this black eye and decided to bust him down to lieutenant that very same day.
   ‘They probably won’t let you,’ Colonel Korn remarked with a condescending smile, savoring the situation. ‘For precisely the same reasons that they wouldn’t let you promote him. Besides, you’d certainly look foolish trying to bust him down to lieutenant right after you tried to promote him to my rank.’ Colonel Cathcart felt hemmed in on every side. He had been much more successful in obtaining a medal for Yossarian after the debacle of Ferrara, when the bridge spanning the Po was still standing undamaged seven days after Colonel Cathcart had volunteered to destroy it. Nine missions his men had flown there in six days, and the bridge was not demolished until the tenth mission on the seventh day, when Yossarian killed Kraft and his crew by taking his flight of six planes in over the target a second time. Yossarian came in carefully on his second bomb run because he was brave then. He buried his head in his bombsight until his bombs were away; when he looked up, everything inside the ship was suffused in a weird orange glow. At first he thought that his own plane was on fire. Then he spied the plane with the burning engine directly above him and screamed to McWatt through the intercom to turn left hard. A second later, the wing of Kraft’s plane blew off. The flaming wreck dropped, first the fuselage, then the spinning wing, while a shower of tiny metal fragments began tap dancing on the roof of Yossarian’s own plane and the incessant cachung! cachung! cachung! of the flak was still thumping all around him.
   Back on the ground, every eye watched grimly as he walked in dull dejection up to Captain Black outside the green clapboard briefing room to make his intelligence report and learned that Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn were waiting to speak to him inside. Major Danby stood barring the door, waving everyone else away in ashen silence. Yossarian was leaden with fatigue and longed to remove his sticky clothing. He stepped into the briefing room with mixed emotions, uncertain how he was supposed to feel about Kraft and the others, for they had all died in the distance of a mute and secluded agony at a moment when he was up to his own ass in the same vile, excruciating dilemma of duty and damnation.
   Colonel Cathcart, on the other hand, was all broken up by the event. ‘Twice?’ he asked.
   ‘I would have missed it the first time,’ Yossarian replied softly, his face lowered.
   Their voices echoed slightly in the long, narrow bungalow.
   ‘But twice?’ Colonel Cathcart repeated, in vivid disbelief.
   ‘I would have missed it the first time,’ Yossarian repeated.
   ‘But Kraft would be alive.’
   ‘And the bridge would still be up.’
   ‘A trained bombardier is supposed to drop his bombs the first time,’ Colonel Cathcart reminded him. ‘The other five bombardiers dropped their bombs the first time.’
   ‘And missed the target,’ Yossarian said. ‘We’d have had to go back there again.’
   ‘And maybe you would have gotten it the first time then.’
   ‘And maybe I wouldn’t have gotten it at all.’
   ‘But maybe there wouldn’t have been any losses.’
   ‘And maybe there would have been more losses, with the bridge still left standing. I thought you wanted the bridge destroyed.’
   ‘Don’t contradict me,’ Colonel Cathcart said. ‘We’re all in enough trouble.’
   ‘I’m not contradicting you, sir.’
   ‘Yes you are. Even that’s a contradiction.’
   ‘Yes, sir. I’m sorry.’ Colonel Cathcart cracked his knuckles violently. Colonel Korn, a stocky, dark, flaccid man with a shapeless paunch, sat completely relaxed on one of the benches in the front row, his hands clasped comfortably over the top of his bald and swarthy head. His eyes were amused behind his glinting rimless spectacles.
   ‘We’re trying to be perfectly objective about this,’ he prompted Colonel Cathcart.
   ‘We’re trying to be perfectly objective about this,’ Colonel Cathcart said to Yossarian with the zeal of sudden inspiration. ‘It’s not that I’m being sentimental or anything. I don’t give a damn about the men or the airplane. It’s just that it looks so lousy on the report. How am I going to cover up something like this in the report?’
   ‘Why don’t you give me a medal?’ Yossarian suggested timidly.
   ‘For going around twice?’
   ‘You gave one to Hungry Joe when he cracked up that airplane by mistake.’ Colonel Cathcart snickered ruefully. ‘You’ll be lucky if we don’t give you a court-martial.’
   ‘But I got the bridge the second time around,’ Yossarian protested. ‘I thought you wanted the bridge destroyed.’
   ‘Oh, I don’t know what I wanted,’ Colonel Cathcart cried out in exasperation. ‘Look, of course I wanted the bridge destroyed. That bridge has been a source of trouble to me ever since I decided to send you men out to get it. But why couldn’t you do it the first time?’
   ‘I didn’t have enough time. My navigator wasn’t sure we had the right city.’
   ‘The right city?’ Colonel Cathcart was baffled. ‘Are you trying to blame it all on Aarfy now?’
   ‘No, sir. It was my mistake for letting him distract me. All I’m trying to say is that I’m not infallible.’
   ‘Nobody is infallible,’ Colonel Cathcart said sharply, and then continued vaguely, with an afterthought: ‘Nobody is indispensable, either.’ There was no rebuttal. Colonel Korn stretched sluggishly. ‘We’ve got to reach a decision,’ he observed casually to Colonel Cathcart.
   ‘We’ve got to reach a decision,’ Colonel Cathcart said to Yossarian. ‘And it’s all your fault. Why did you have to go around twice? Why couldn’t you drop your bombs the first time like all the others?’
   ‘I would have missed the first time.’
   ‘It seems to me that we’re going around twice,’ Colonel Korn interrupted with a chuckle.
   ‘But what are we going to do?’ Colonel Cathcart exclaimed with distress. ‘The others are all waiting outside.’
   ‘Why don’t we give him a medal?’ Colonel Korn proposed.
   ‘For going around twice? What can we give him a medal for?’
   ‘For going around twice,’ Colonel Korn answered with a reflective, self-satisfied smile. ‘After all, I suppose it did take a lot of courage to go over that target a second time with no other planes around to divert the antiaircraft fire. And he did hit the bridge. You know, that might be the answer—to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That’s a trick that never seems to fail.’
   ‘Do you think it will work?’
   ‘I’m sure it will. And let’s promote him to captain, too, just to make certain.’
   ‘Don’t you think that’s going a bit farther than we have to?’
   ‘No, I don’t think so. It’s best to play safe. And a captain’s not much difference.’
   ‘All right,’ Colonel Cathcart decided. ‘We’ll give him a medal for being brave enough to go around over the target twice. And we’ll make him a captain, too.’ Colonel Korn reached for his hat.
   ‘Exit smiling,’ he joked, and put his arm around Yossarian’s shoulders as they stepped outside the door.
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Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
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Apple iPhone 6s
Kid Sampson

   By the time of the mission to Bologna, Yossarian was brave enough not to go around over the target even once, and when he found himself aloft finally in the nose of Kid Sampson’s plane, he pressed in the button of his throat mike and asked, ‘Well? What’s wrong with the plane?’ Kid Sampson let out a shriek. ‘Is something wrong with the plane? What’s the matter?’ Kid Sampson’s cry turned Yossarian to ice. ‘Is something the matter?’ he yelled in horror. ‘Are we bailing out?’
   ‘I don’t know!’ Kid Sampson shot back in anguish, wailing excitedly. ‘Someone said we’re bailing out! Who is this, anyway? Who is this?’
   ‘This is Yossarian in the nose! Yossarian in the nose. I heard you say there was something the matter. Didn’t you say there was something the matter?’
   ‘I thought you said there was something wrong. Everything seems okay. Everything is all right.’ Yossarian’s heart sank. Something was terribly wrong if everything was all right and they had no excuse for turning back. He hesitated gravely.
   ‘I can’t hear you,’ he said.
   ‘I said everything is all right.’ The sun was blinding white on the porcelain-blue water below and on the flashing edges of the other airplanes. Yossarian took hold of the colored wires leading into the jackbox of the intercom system and tore them loose.
   ‘I still can’t hear you,’ he said.
   He heard nothing. Slowly he collected his map case and his three flak suits and crawled back to the main compartment. Nately, sitting stiffly in the co-pilot’s seat, spied him through the corner of his eye as he stepped up on the flight deck behind Kid Sampson. He smiled at Yossarian wanly, looking frail and exceptionally young and bashful in the bulky dungeon of his earphones, hat, throat mike, flak suit and parachute. Yossarian bent close to Kid Sampson’s ear.
   ‘I still can’t hear you,’ he shouted above the even drone of the engines.
   Kid Sampson glanced back at him with surprise. Kid Sampson had an angular, comical face with arched eyebrows and a scrawny blond mustache.
   ‘What?’ he called out over his shoulder.
   ‘I still can’t hear you,’ Yossarian repeated.
   ‘You’ll have to talk louder,’ Kid Sampson said. ‘I still can’t hear you.’
   ‘I said I still can’t hear you!’ Yossarian yelled.
   ‘I can’t help it,’ Kid Sampson yelled back at him. ‘I’m shouting as loud as I can.’
   ‘I couldn’t hear you over my intercom,’ Yossarian bellowed in mounting helplessness. ‘You’ll have to turn back.’
   ‘For an intercom?’ asked Kid Sampson incredulously.
   ‘Turn back,’ said Yossarian, ‘before I break your head.’ Kid Sampson looked for moral support toward Nately, who stared away from him pointedly. Yossarian outranked them both. Kid Sampson resisted doubtfully for another moment and then capitulated eagerly with a triumphant whoop.
   ‘That’s just fine with me,’ he announced gladly, and blew out a shrill series of whistles up into his mustache. ‘Yes sirree, that’s just fine with old Kid Sampson.’ He whistled again and shouted over the intercom, ‘Now hear this, my little chickadees. This is Admiral Kid Sampson talking. This is Admiral Kid Sampson squawking, the pride of the Queen’s marines. Yessiree. We’re turning back, boys, by crackee, we’re turning back!’ Nately ripped off his hat and earphones in one jubilant sweep and began rocking back and forth happily like a handsome child in a high chair. Sergeant Knight came plummeting down from the top gun turret and began pounding them all on the back with delirious enthusiasm. Kid Sampson turned the plane away from the formation in a wide, graceful arc and headed toward the airfield. When Yossarian plugged his headset into one of the auxiliary jackboxes, the two gunners in the rear section of the plane were both singing ‘La Cucaracha.’ Back at the field, the party fizzled out abruptly. An uneasy silence replaced it, and Yossarian was sober and self-conscious as he climbed down from the plane and took his place in the jeep that was already waiting for them. None of the men spoke at all on the drive back through the heavy, mesmerizing quiet blanketing mountains, sea and forests. The feeling of desolation persisted when they turned off the road at the squadron. Yossarian got out of the car last. After a minute, Yossarian and a gentle warm wind were the only things stirring in the haunting tranquillity that hung like a drug over the vacated tents. The squadron stood insensate, bereft of everything human but Doc Daneeka, who roosted dolorously like a shivering turkey buzzard beside the closed door of the medical tent, his stuffed nose jabbing away in thirsting futility at the hazy sunlight streaming down around him. Yossarian knew Doc Daneeka would not go swimming with him. Doc Daneeka would never go swimming again; a person could swoon or suffer a mild coronary occlusion in an inch or two of water and drown to death, be carried out to sea by an undertow, or made vulnerable to poliomyelitis or meningococcus infection through chilling or over-exertion. The threat of Bologna to others had instilled in Doc Daneeka an even more poignant solicitude for his own safety. At night now, he heard burglars.
   Through the lavender gloom clouding the entrance of the operations tent, Yossarian glimpsed Chief White Halfoat, diligently embezzling whiskey rations, forging the signatures of nondrinkers and pouring off the alcohol with which he was poisoning himself into separate bottles rapidly in order to steal as much as he could before Captain Black roused himself with recollection and came hurrying over indolently to steal the rest himself.
   The jeep started up again softly. Kid Sampson, Nately and the others wandered apart in a noiseless eddy of motion and were sucked away into the cloying yellow stillness. The jeep vanished with a cough. Yossarian was alone in a ponderous, primeval lull in which everything green looked black and everything else was imbued with the color of pus. The breeze rustled leaves in a dry and diaphanous distance. He was restless, scared and sleepy. The sockets of his eyes felt grimy with exhaustion. Wearily he moved inside the parachute tent with its long table of smoothed wood, a nagging bitch of a doubt burrowing painlessly inside a conscience that felt perfectly clear. He left his flak suit and parachute there and crossed back past the water wagon to the intelligence tent to return his map case to Captain Black, who sat drowsing in his chair with his skinny long legs up on his desk and inquired with indifferent curiosity why Yossarian’s plane had turned back. Yossarian ignored him. He set the map down on the counter and walked out.
   Back in his own tent, he squirmed out of his parachute harness and then out of his clothes. Orr was in Rome, due back that same afternoon from the rest leave he had won by ditching his plane in the waters off Genoa.
   Nately would already be packing to replace him, entranced to find himself still alive and undoubtedly impatient to resume his wasted and heartbreaking courtship of his prostitute in Rome. When Yossarian was undressed, he sat down on his cot to rest. He felt much better as soon as he was naked. He never felt comfortable in clothes. In a little while he put fresh undershorts back on and set out for the beach in his moccasins, a khaki-colored bath towel draped over his shoulders.
   The path from the squadron led him around a mysterious gun emplacement in the woods; two of the three enlisted men stationed there lay sleeping on the circle of sand bags and the third sat eating a purple pomegranate, biting off large mouthfuls between his churning jaws and spewing the ground roughage out away from him into the bushes. When he bit, red juice ran out of his mouth. Yossarian padded ahead into the forest again, caressing his bare, tingling belly adoringly from time to time as though to reassure himself it was all still there. He rolled a piece of lint out of his navel. Along the ground suddenly, on both sides of the path, he saw dozens of new mushrooms the rain had spawned poking their nodular fingers up through the clammy earth like lifeless stalks of flesh, sprouting in such necrotic profusion everywhere he looked that they seemed to be proliferating right before his eyes. There were thousands of them swarming as far back into the underbrush as he could see, and they appeared to swell in size and multiply in number as he spied them. He hurried away from them with a shiver of eerie alarm and did not slacken his pace until the soil crumbled to dry sand beneath his feet and they had been left behind. He glanced back apprehensively, half expecting to find the limp white things crawling after him in sightless pursuit or snaking up through the treetops in a writhing and ungovernable mutative mass.
   The beach was deserted. The only sounds were hushed ones, the bloated gurgle of the stream, the respirating hum of the tall grass and shrubs behind him, the apathetic moaning of the dumb, translucent waves. The surf was always small, the water clear and cool. Yossarian left his things on the sand and moved through the knee-high waves until he was completely immersed. On the other side of the sea, a bumpy sliver of dark land lay wrapped in mist, almost invisible. He swam languorously out to the raft, held on a moment, and swam languorously back to where he could stand on the sand bar. He submerged himself head first into the green water several times until he felt clean and wide-awake and then stretched himself out face down in the sand and slept until the planes returning from Bologna were almost overhead and the great, cumulative rumble of their many engines came crashing in through his slumber in an earth-shattering roar.
   He woke up blinking with a slight pain in his head and opened his eyes upon a world boiling in chaos in which everything was in proper order. He gasped in utter amazement at the fantastic sight of the twelve flights of planes organized calmly into exact formation. The scene was too unexpected to be true. There were no planes spurting ahead with wounded, none lagging behind with damage. No distress flares smoked in the sky. No ship was missing but his own. For an instant he was paralyzed with a sensation of madness. Then he understood, and almost wept at the irony. The explanation was simple: clouds had covered the target before the planes could bomb it, and the mission to Bologna was still to be flown.
   He was wrong. There had been no clouds. Bologna had been bombed. Bologna was a milk run. There had been no flak there at all.
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Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
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Apple iPhone 6s
Piltchard & Wren

   Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren, the inoffensive joint squadron operations officers, were both mild, soft-spoken men of less than middle height who enjoyed flying combat missions and begged nothing more of life and Colonel Cathcart than the opportunity to continue flying them. They had flown hundreds of combat missions and wanted to fly hundreds more. They assigned themselves to every one. Nothing so wonderful as war had ever happened to them before; and they were afraid it might never happen to them again. They conducted their duties humbly and reticently, with a minimum of fuss, and went to great lengths not to antagonize anyone. They smiled quickly at everyone they passed. When they spoke, they mumbled. They were shifty, cheerful, subservient men who were comfortable only with each other and never met anyone else’s eye, not even Yossarian’s eye at the open-air meeting they called to reprimand him publicly for making Kid Sampson turn back from the mission to Bologna.
   ‘Fellas,’ said Captain Piltchard, who had thinning dark hair and smiled awkwardly. ‘When you turn back from a mission, try to make sure it’s for something important, will you? Not for something unimportant… like a defective intercom… or something like that. Okay? Captain Wren has more he wants to say to you on that subject.’
   ‘Captain Piltchard’s right, fellas,’ said Captain Wren. ‘And that’s all I’m going to say to you on that subject. Well, we finally got to Bologna today, and we found out it’s a milk run. We were all a little nervous, I guess, and didn’t do too much damage. Well, listen to this. Colonel Cathcart got permission for us to go back. And tomorrow we’re really going to paste those ammunition dumps. Now, what do you think about that?’ And to prove to Yossarian that they bore him no animosity, they even assigned him to fly lead bombardier with McWatt in the first formation when they went back to Bologna the next day. He came in on the target like a Havermeyer, confidently taking no evasive action at all, and suddenly they were shooting the living shit out of him!
   Heavy flak was everywhere! He had been lulled, lured and trapped, and there was nothing he could do but sit there like an idiot and watch the ugly black puffs smashing up to kill him. There was nothing he could do until his bombs dropped but look back into the bombsight, where the fine cross-hairs in the lens were glued magnetically over the target exactly where he had placed them, intersecting perfectly deep inside the yard of his block of camouflaged warehouses before the base of the first building. He was trembling steadily as the plane crept ahead. He could hear the hollow boom-boom-boom-boom of the flak pounding all around him in overlapping measures of four, the sharp, piercing crack! of a single shell exploding suddenly very close by. His head was bursting with a thousand dissonant impulses as he prayed for the bombs to drop. He wanted to sob. The engines droned on monotonously like a fat, lazy fly. At last the indices on the bombsight crossed, tripping away the eight 500-pounders one after the other. The plane lurched upward buoyantly with the lightened load. Yossarian bent away from the bombsight crookedly to watch the indicator on his left. When the pointer touched zero, he closed the bomb bay doors and, over the intercom, at the very top of his voice, shrieked: ‘Turn right hard!’ McWatt responded instantly. With a grinding howl of engines, he flipped the plane over on one wing and wrung it around remorselessly in a screaming turn away from the twin spires of flak Yossarian had spied stabbing toward them. Then Yossarian had McWatt climb and keep climbing higher and higher until they tore free finally into a calm, diamond-blue sky that was sunny and pure everywhere and laced in the distance with long white veils of tenuous fluff. The wind strummed soothingly against the cylindrical panes of his windows, and he relaxed exultantly only until they picked up speed again and then turned McWatt left and plunged him right back down, noticing with a transitory spasm of elation the mushrooming clusters of flak leaping open high above him and back over his shoulder to the right, exactly where he could have been if he had not turned left and dived. He leveled McWatt out with another harsh cry and whipped him upward and around again into a ragged blue patch of unpolluted air just as the bombs he had dropped began to strike. The first one fell in the yard, exactly where he had aimed, and then the rest of the bombs from his own plane and from the other planes in his flight burst open on the ground in a charge of rapid orange flashes across the tops of the buildings, which collapsed instantly in a vast, churning wave of pink and gray and coal-black smoke that went rolling out turbulently in all directions and quaked convulsively in its bowels as though from great blasts of red and white and golden sheet lightning.
   ‘Well, will you look at that,’ Aarfy marveled sonorously right beside Yossarian, his plump, orbicular face sparkling with a look of bright enchantment. ‘There must have been an ammunition dump down there.’ Yossarian had forgotten about Aarfy. ‘Get out!’ he shouted at him. ‘Get out of the nose!’ Aarfy smiled politely and pointed down toward the target in a generous invitation for Yossarian to look. Yossarian began slapping at him insistently and signaled wildly toward the entrance of the crawlway.
   ‘Get back in the ship!’ he cried frantically. ‘Get back in the ship!’ Aarfy shrugged amiably. ‘I can’t hear you,’ he explained.
   Yossarian seized him by the straps of his parachute harness and pushed him backward toward the crawlway just as the plane was hit with a jarring concussion that rattled his bones and made his heart stop. He knew at once they were all dead.
   ‘Climb!’ he screamed into the intercom at McWatt when he saw he was still alive. ‘Climb, you bastard! Climb, climb, climb, climb!’ The plane zoomed upward again in a climb that was swift and straining, until he leveled it out with another harsh shout at McWatt and wrenched it around once more in a roaring, merciless forty-five-degree turn that sucked his insides out in one enervating sniff and left him floating fleshless in mid-air until he leveled McWatt out again just long enough to hurl him back around toward the right and then down into a screeching dive. Through endless blobs of ghostly black smoke he sped, the hanging smut wafting against the smooth plexiglass nose of the ship like an evil, damp, sooty vapor against his cheeks. His heart was hammering again in aching terror as he hurtled upward and downward through the blind gangs of flak charging murderously into the sky at him, then sagging inertly. Sweat gushed from his neck in torrents and poured down over his chest and waist with the feeling of warm slime. He was vaguely aware for an instant that the planes in his formation were no longer there, and then he was aware of only himself. His throat hurt like a raw slash from the strangling intensity with which he shrieked each command to McWatt. The engines rose to a deafening, agonized, ululating bellow each time McWatt changed direction. And far out in front the bursts of flak were still swarming into the sky from new batteries of guns poking around for accurate altitude as they waited sadistically for him to fly into range.
   The plane was slammed again suddenly with another loud, jarring explosion that almost rocked it over on its back, and the nose filled immediately with sweet clouds of blue smoke. Something was on fire! Yossarian whirled to escape and smacked into Aarfy, who had struck a match and was placidly lighting his pipe. Yossarian gaped at his grinning, moon-faced navigator in utter shock and confusion. It occurred to him that one of them was mad.
   ‘Jesus Christ!’ he screamed at Aarfy in tortured amazement. ‘Get the hell out of the nose! Are you crazy? Get out!’
   ‘What?’ said Aarfy.
   ‘Get out!’ Yossarian yelled hysterically, and began clubbing Aarfy backhanded with both fists to drive him away. ‘Get out!’
   ‘I still can’t hear you,’ Aarfy called back innocently with an expression of mild and reproving perplexity. ‘You’ll have to talk a little louder.’
   ‘Get out of the nose!’ Yossarian shrieked in frustration. ‘They’re trying to kill us! Don’t you understand? They’re trying to kill us!’
   ‘Which way should I go, goddam it?’ McWatt shouted furiously over the intercom in a suffering, high-pitched voice. ‘Which way should I go?’
   ‘Turn left! Left, you goddam dirty son of a bitch! Turn left hard!’ Aarfy crept up close behind Yossarian and jabbed him sharply in the ribs with the stem of his pipe. Yossarian flew up toward the ceiling with a whinnying cry, then jumped completely around on his knees, white as a sheet and quivering with rage. Aarfy winked encouragingly and jerked his thumb back toward McWatt with a humorous moue.
   ‘What’s eating him?’ he asked with a laugh.
   Yossarian was struck with a weird sense of distortion. ‘Will you get out of here?’ he yelped beseechingly, and shoved Aarfy over with all his strength. ‘Are you deaf or something? Get back in the plane!’ And to McWatt he screamed, ‘Dive! Dive!’ Down they sank once more into the crunching, thudding, voluminous barrage of bursting antiaircraft shells as Aarfy came creeping back behind Yossarian and jabbed him sharply in the ribs again. Yossarian shied upward with another whinnying gasp.
   ‘I still couldn’t hear you,’ Aarfy said.
   ‘I said get out of here!’ Yossarian shouted, and broke into tears. He began punching Aarfy in the body with both hands as hard as he could. ‘Get away from me! Get away!’ Punching Aarfy was like sinking his fists into a limp sack of inflated rubber. There was no resistance, no response at all from the soft, insensitive mass, and after a while Yossarian’s spirit died and his arms dropped helplessly with exhaustion. He was overcome with a humiliating feeling of impotence and was ready to weep in self-pity.
   ‘What did you say?’ Aarfy asked.
   ‘Get away from me,’ Yossarian answered, pleading with him now. ‘Go back in the plane.’
   ‘I still can’t hear you.’
   ‘Never mind,’ wailed Yossarian, ‘never mind. Just leave me alone.’
   ‘Never mind what?’ Yossarian began hitting himself in the forehead. He seized Aarfy by the shirt front and, struggling to his feet for traction, dragged him to the rear of the nose compartment and flung him down like a bloated and unwieldy bag in the entrance of the crawlway. A shell banged open with a stupendous clout right beside his ear as he was scrambling back toward the front, and some undestroyed recess of his intelligence wondered that it did not kill them all. They were climbing again. The engines were howling again as though in pain, and the air inside the plane was acrid with the smell of machinery and fetid with the stench of gasoline. The next thing he knew, it was snowing!
   Thousands of tiny bits of white paper were falling like snowflakes inside the plane, milling around his head so thickly that they clung to his eyelashes when he blinked in astonishment and fluttered against his nostrils and lips each time he inhaled. When he spun around in his bewilderment, Aarfy was grinning proudly from ear to ear like something inhuman as he held up a shattered paper map for Yossarian to see. A large chunk of flak had ripped up from the floor through Aarfy’s colossal jumble of maps and had ripped out through the ceiling inches away from their heads. Aarfy’s joy was sublime.
   ‘Will you look at this?’ he murmured, waggling two of his stubby fingers playfully into Yossarian’s face through the hole in one of his maps. ‘Will you look at this?’ Yossarian was dumbfounded by his state of rapturous contentment. Aarfy was like an eerie ogre in a dream, incapable of being bruised or evaded, and Yossarian dreaded him for a complex of reasons he was too petrified to untangle. Wind whistling up through the jagged gash in the floor kept the myriad bits of paper circulating like alabaster particles in a paperweight and contributed to a sensation of lacquered, waterlogged unreality. Everything seemed strange, so tawdry and grotesque. His head was throbbing from a shrill clamor that drilled relentlessly into both ears. It was McWatt, begging for directions in an incoherent frenzy. Yossarian continued staring in tormented fascination at Aarfy’s spherical countenance beaming at him so serenely and vacantly through the drifting whorls of white paper bits and concluded that he was a raving lunatic just as eight bursts of flak broke open successively at eye level off to the right, then eight more, and then eight more, the last group pulled over toward the left so that they were almost directly in front.
   ‘Turn left hard!’ he hollered to McWatt, as Aarfy kept grinning, and McWatt did turn left hard, but the flak turned left hard with them, catching up fast, and Yossarian hollered, ‘I said hard, hard, hard, hard, you bastard, hard!’ And McWatt bent the plane around even harder still, and suddenly, miraculously, they were out of range. The flak ended. The guns stopped booming at them. And they were alive.
   Behind him, men were dying. Strung out for miles in a stricken, tortuous, squirming line, the other flights of planes were making the same hazardous journey over the target, threading their swift way through the swollen masses of new and old bursts of flak like rats racing in a pack through their own droppings. One was on fire, and flapped lamely off by itself, billowing gigantically like a monstrous blood-red star. As Yossarian watched, the burning plane floated over on its side and began spiraling down slowly in wide, tremulous, narrowing circles, its huge flaming burden blazing orange and flaring out in back like a long, swirling cape of fire and smoke. There were parachutes, one, two, three… four, and then the plane gyrated into a spin and fell the rest of the way to the ground, fluttering insensibly inside its vivid pyre like a shred of colored tissue paper. One whole flight of planes from another squadron had been blasted apart.
   Yossarian sighed barrenly, his day’s work done. He was listless and sticky. The engines crooned mellifluously as McWatt throttled back to loiter and allow the rest of the planes in his flight to catch up. The abrupt stillness seemed alien and artificial, a little insidious. Yossarian unsnapped his flak suit and took off his helmet. He sighed again, restlessly, and closed his eyes and tried to relax.
   ‘Where’s Orr?’ someone asked suddenly over his intercom.
   Yossarian bounded up with a one-syllable cry that crackled with anxiety and provided the only rational explanation for the whole mysterious phenomenon of the flak at Bologna: Orr! He lunged forward over the bombsight to search downward through the plexiglass for some reassuring sign of Orr, who drew flak like a magnet and who had undoubtedly attracted the crack batteries of the whole Hermann Goering Division to Bologna overnight from wherever the hell they had been stationed the day before when Orr was still in Rome. Aarfy launched himself forward an instant later and cracked Yossarian on the bridge of the nose with the sharp rim of his flak helmet. Yossarian cursed him as his eyes flooded with tears.
   ‘There he is,’ Aarfy orated funereally, pointing down dramatically at a hay wagon and two horses standing before the barn of a gray stone farmhouse. ‘Smashed to bits. I guess their numbers were all up.’ Yossarian swore at Aarfy again and continued searching intently, cold with a compassionate kind of fear now for the little bouncy and bizarre buck-toothed tentmate who had smashed Appleby’s forehead open with a ping-pong racket and who was scaring the daylights out of Yossarian once again. At last Yossarian spotted the two-engined, twin-ruddered plane as it flew out of the green background of the forests over a field of yellow farmland. One of the propellers was feathered and perfectly still, but the plane was maintaining altitude and holding a proper course. Yossarian muttered an unconscious prayer of thankfulness and then flared up at Orr savagely in a ranting fusion of resentment and relief.
   ‘That bastard!’ he began. ‘That goddam stunted, red-faced, big-cheeked, curly-headed, buck-toothed rat bastard son of a bitch!’
   ‘What?’ said Aarfy.
   ‘That dirty goddam midget-assed, apple-cheeked, goggle-eyed, undersized, buck-toothed, grinning, crazy sonofabitchin-bastard!’ Yossarian sputtered.
   ‘What?’
   ‘Never mind!’
   ‘I still can’t hear you,’ Aarfy answered.
   Yossarian swung himself around methodically to face Aarfy. ‘You prick,’ he began.
   ‘Me?’
   ‘You pompous, rotund, neighborly, vacuous, complacent…’ Aarfy was unperturbed. Calmly he struck a wooden match and sucked noisily at his pipe with an eloquent air of benign and magnanimous forgiveness. He smiled sociably and opened his mouth to speak. Yossarian put his hand over Aarfy’s mouth and pushed him away wearily. He shut his eyes and pretended to sleep all the way back to the field so that he would not have to listen to Aarfy or see him.
   At the briefing room Yossarian made his intelligence report to Captain Black and then waited in muttering suspense with all the others until Orr chugged into sight overhead finally with his one good engine still keeping him aloft gamely. Nobody breathed. Orr’s landing gear would not come down. Yossarian hung around only until Orr had crash-landed safely, and then stole the first jeep he could find with a key in the ignition and raced back to his tent to begin packing feverishly for the emergency rest leave he had decided to take in Rome, where he found Luciana and her invisible scar that same night.
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Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
Luciana

   He found Luciana sitting alone at a table in the Allied officers’ night club, where the drunken Anzac major who had brought her there had been stupid enough to desert her for the ribald company of some singing comrades at the bar.
   ‘All right, I’ll dance with you,’ she said, before Yossarian could even speak. ‘But I won’t let you sleep with me.’
   ‘Who asked you?’ Yossarian asked her.
   ‘You don’t want to sleep with me?’ she exclaimed with surprise.
   ‘I don’t want to dance with you.’ She seized Yossarian’s hand and pulled him out on the dance floor. She was a worse dancer than even he was, but she threw herself about to the synthetic jitterbug music with more uninhibited pleasure than he had ever observed until he felt his legs falling asleep with boredom and yanked her off the dance floor toward the table at which the girl he should have been screwing was still sitting tipsily with one hand around Aarfy’s neck, her orange satin blouse still hanging open slovenly below her full white lacy brassière as she made dirty sex talk ostentatiously with Huple, Orr, Kid Sampson and Hungry Joe. Just as he reached them, Luciana gave him a forceful, unexpected shove that carried them both well beyond the table, so that they were still alone. She was a tall, earthy, exuberant girl with long hair and a pretty face, a buxom, delightful, flirtatious girl.
   ‘All right,’ she said, ‘I will let you buy me dinner. But I won’t let you sleep with me.’
   ‘Who asked you?’ Yossarian asked with surprise.
   ‘You don’t want to sleep with me?’
   ‘I don’t want to buy you dinner.’ She pulled him out of the night club into the street and down a flight of steps into a black-market restaurant filled with lively, chirping, attractive girls who all seemed to know each other and with the self-conscious military officers from different countries who had come there with them. The food was elegant and expensive, and the aisles were overflowing with great streams of flushed and merry proprietors, all stout and balding. The bustling interior radiated with enormous, engulfing waves of fun and warmth.
   Yossarian got a tremendous kick out of the rude gusto with which Luciana ignored him completely while she shoveled away her whole meal with both hands. She ate like a horse until the last plate was clean, and then she placed her silverware down with an air of conclusion and settled back lazily in her chair with a dreamy and congested look of sated gluttony. She drew a deep, smiling, contented breath and regarded him amorously with a melting gaze.
   ‘Okay, Joe,’ she purred, her glowing dark eyes drowsy and grateful. ‘Now I will let you sleep with me.’
   ‘My name is Yossarian.’
   ‘Okay, Yossarian,’ she answered with a soft repentant laugh. ‘Now I will let you sleep with me.’
   ‘Who asked you?’ said Yossarian.
   Luciana was stunned. ‘You don’t want to sleep with me?’ Yossarian nodded emphatically, laughing, and shot his hand up under her dress. The girl came to life with a horrified start. She jerked her legs away from him instantly, whipping her bottom around. Blushing with alarm and embarrassment, she pushed her skirt back down with a number of prim, sidelong glances about the restaurant.
   ‘Now I will let you sleep with me,’ she explained cautiously in a manner of apprehensive indulgence. ‘But not now.’
   ‘I know. When we get back to my room.’ The girl shook her head, eyeing him mistrustfully and keeping her knees pressed together. ‘No, now I must go home to my mamma, because my mamma does not like me to dance with soldiers or let them take me to dinner, and she will be very angry with me if I do not come home now. But I will let you write down for me where you live. And tomorrow morning I will come to your room for ficky-fick before I go to my work at the French office. Capisci?’
   ‘Bullshit!’ Yossarian exclaimed with angry disappointment.
   ‘Cosa vuol dire bullshit?’ Luciana inquired with a blank look.
   Yossarian broke into loud laughter. He answered her finally in a tone of sympathetic good humor. ‘It means that I want to escort you now to wherever the hell I have to take you next so that I can rush back to that night club before Aarfy leaves with that wonderful tomato he’s got without giving me a chance to ask about an aunt or friend she must have who’s just like her.’
   ‘Come?’
   ‘Subito, subito,’ he taunted her tenderly. ‘Mamma is waiting. Remember?’
   ‘Si, si. Mamma.’ Yossarian let the girl drag him through the lovely Roman spring night for almost a mile until they reached a chaotic bus depot honking with horns, blazing with red and yellow lights and echoing with the snarling vituperations of unshaven bus drivers pouring loathsome, hair-raising curses out at each other, at their passengers and at the strolling, unconcerned knots of pedestrians clogging their paths, who ignored them until they were bumped by the buses and began shouting curses back. Luciana vanished aboard one of the diminutive green vehicles, and Yossarian hurried as fast as he could all the way back to the cabaret and the bleary-eyed bleached blonde in the open orange satin blouse. She seemed infatuated with Aarfy, but he prayed intensely for her luscious aunt as he ran, or for a luscious girl friend, sister, cousin, or mother who was just as libidinous and depraved. She would have been perfect for Yossarian, a debauched, coarse, vulgar, amoral, appetizing slattern whom he had longed for and idolized for months. She was a real find. She paid for her own drinks, and she had an automobile, an apartment and a salmon-colored cameo ring that drove Hungry Joe clean out of his senses with its exquisitely carved figures of a naked boy and girl on a rock. Hungry Joe snorted and pranced and pawed at the floor in salivating lust and groveling need, but the girl would not sell him the ring, even though he offered her all the money in all their pockets and his complicated black camera thrown in. She was not interested in money or cameras. She was interested in fornication.
   She was gone when Yossarian got there. They were all gone, and he walked right out and moved in wistful dejection through the dark, emptying streets. Yossarian was not often lonely when he was by himself, but he was lonely now in his keen envy of Aarfy, who he knew was in bed that very moment with the girl who was just right for Yossarian, and who could also make out any time he wanted to, if he ever wanted to, with either or both of the two slender, stunning, aristocratic women who lived in the apartment upstairs and fructified Yossarian’s sex fantasies whenever he had sex fantasies, the beautiful rich black-haired countess with the red, wet, nervous lips and her beautiful rich black-haired daughter-in-law. Yossarian was madly in love with all of them as he made his way back to the officers’ apartment, in love with Luciana, with the prurient intoxicated girl in the unbuttoned satin blouse, and with the beautiful rich countess and her beautiful rich daughter-in-law, both of whom would never let him touch them or even flirt with them. They doted kittenishly on Nately and deferred passively to Aarfy, but they thought Yossarian was crazy and recoiled from him with distasteful contempt each time he made an indecent proposal or tried to fondle them when they passed on the stairs. They were both superb creatures with pulpy, bright, pointed tongues and mouths like round warm plums, a little sweet and sticky, a little rotten. They had class; Yossarian was not sure what class was, but he knew that they had it and he did not, and that they knew it, too. He could picture, as he walked, the kind of underclothing they wore against their svelte feminine parts, filmy, smooth, clinging garments of deepest black or of opalescent pastel radiance with flowering lace borders fragrant with the tantalizing fumes of pampered flesh and scented bath salts rising in a germinating cloud from their blue-white breasts. He wished again that he was where Aarfy was, making obscene, brutal, cheerful love with a juicy drunken tart who didn’t give a tinker’s dam about him and would never think of him again.
   But Aarfy was already back in the apartment when Yossarian arrived, and Yossarian gaped at him with that same sense of persecuted astonishment he had suffered that same morning over Bologna at his malign and cabalistic and irremovable presence in the nose of the plane.
   ‘What are you doing here?’ he asked.
   ‘That’s right, ask him!’ Hungry Joe exclaimed in a rage. ‘Make him tell you what he’s doing here!’ With a long, theatrical moan, Kid Sampson made a pistol of his thumb and forefinger and blew his own brains out. Huple, chewing away on a bulging wad of bubble gum, drank everything in with a callow, vacant expression on his fifteen-year old face. Aarfy was tapping the bowl of his pipe against his palm leisurely as he paced back and forth in corpulent self-approval, obviously delighted by the stir he was causing.
   ‘Didn’t you go home with that girl?’ Yossarian demanded.
   ‘Oh, sure, I went home with her,’ Aarfy replied. ‘You didn’t think I was going to let her try to find her way home alone, did you?’
   ‘Wouldn’t she let you stay with her?’
   ‘Oh, she wanted me to stay with her, all right.’ Aarfy chuckled. ‘Don’t you worry about good old Aarfy. But I wasn’t going to take advantage of a sweet kid like that just because she’d had a little too much to drink. What kind of a guy do you think I am?’
   ‘Who said anything about taking advantage of her?’ Yossarian railed at him in amazement. ‘All she wanted to do was get into bed with someone. That’s the only thing she kept talking about all night long.’
   ‘That’s because she was a little mixed up,’ Aarfy explained. ‘But I gave her a little talking to and really put some sense into her.’
   ‘You bastard!’ Yossarian exclaimed, and sank down tiredly on the divan beside Kid Sampson. ‘Why the hell didn’t you give her to one of us if you didn’t want her?’
   ‘You see?’ Hungry Joe asked. ‘There’s something wrong with him.’ Yossarian nodded and looked at Aarfy curiously. ‘Aarfy, tell me something. Don’t you ever screw any of them?’ Aarfy chuckled again with conceited amusement. ‘Oh sure, I prod them. Don’t you worry about me. But never any nice girls. I know what kind of girls to prod and what kind of girls not to prod, and I never prod any nice girls. This one was a sweet kid. You could see her family had money. Why, I even got her to throw that ring of hers away right out the car window.’ Hungry Joe flew into the air with a screech of intolerable pain. ‘You did what?’ he screamed. ‘You did what?’ He began whaling away at Aarfy’s shoulders and arms with both fists, almost in tears. ‘I ought to kill you for what you did, you lousy bastard. He’s sinful, that’s what he is. He’s got a dirty mind, ain’t he? Ain’t he got a dirty mind?’
   ‘The dirtiest,’ Yossarian agreed.
   ‘What are you fellows talking about?’ Aarfy asked with genuine puzzlement, tucking his face away protectively inside the cushioning insulation of his oval shoulders. ‘Aw, come on, Joe,’ he pleaded with a smile of mild discomfort. ‘Quit punching me, will you?’ But Hungry Joe would not quit punching until Yossarian picked him up and pushed him away toward his bedroom. Yossarian moved listlessly into his own room, undressed and went to sleep. A second later it was morning, and someone was shaking him.
   ‘What are you waking me up for?’ he whimpered.
   It was Michaela, the skinny maid with the merry disposition and homely sallow face, and she was waking him up because he had a visitor waiting just outside the door. Luciana! He could hardly believe it. And she was alone in the room with him after Michaela had departed, lovely, hale and statuesque, steaming and rippling with an irrepressible affectionate vitality even as she remained in one place and frowned at him irately. She stood like a youthful female colossus with her magnificent columnar legs apart on high white shoes with wedged heels, wearing a pretty green dress and swinging a large, flat white leather pocketbook, with which she cracked him hard across the face when he leaped out of bed to grab her. Yossarian staggered backward out of range in a daze, clutching his stinging cheek with bewilderment.
   ‘Pig!’ She spat out at him viciously, her nostrils flaring in a look of savage disdain. ‘Vive com’ un animale!’ With a fierce, guttural, scornful, disgusted oath, she strode across the room and threw open the three tall casement windows, letting inside an effulgent flood of sunlight and crisp fresh air that washed through the stuffy room like an invigorating tonic. She placed her pocketbook on a chair and began tidying the room, picking his things up from the floor and off the tops of the furniture, throwing his socks, handkerchief and underwear into an empty drawer of the dresser and hanging his shirt and trousers up in the closet.
   Yossarian ran out of the bedroom into the bathroom and brushed his teeth. He washed his hands and face and combed his hair. When he ran back, the room was in order and Luciana was almost undressed. Her expression was relaxed. She left her earrings on the dresser and padded barefoot to the bed wearing just a pink rayon chemise that came down to her hips. She glanced about the room prudently to make certain there was nothing she had overlooked in the way of neatness and then drew back the coverlet and stretched herself out luxuriously with an expression of feline expectation. She beckoned to him longingly, with a husky laugh.
   ‘Now,’ she announced in a whisper, holding both arms out to him eagerly. ‘Now I will let you sleep with me.’ She told him some lies about a single weekend in bed with a slaughtered fiancé in the Italian Army, and they all turned out to be true, for she cried, ‘finito!’ almost as soon as he started and wondered why he didn’t stop, until he had finitoed too and explained to her.
   He lit cigarettes for both of them. She was enchanted by the deep suntan covering his whole body. He wondered about the pink chemise that she would not remove. It was cut like a man’s undershirt, with narrow shoulder straps, and concealed the invisible scar on her back that she refused to let him see after he had made her tell him it was there. She grew tense as fine steel when he traced the mutilated contours with his fingertip from a pit in her shoulder blade almost to the base of her spine. He winced at the many tortured nights she had spent in the hospital, drugged or in pain, with the ubiquitous, ineradicable odors of ether, fecal matter and disinfectant, of human flesh mortified and decaying amid the white uniforms, the rubbersoled shoes, and the eerie night lights glowing dimly until dawn in the corridors. She had been wounded in an air raid.
   ‘Dove?’ he asked, and he held his breath in suspense.
   ‘ Napoli.’
   ‘Germans?’
   ‘Americani.’ His heart cracked, and he fell in love. He wondered if she would marry him.
   ‘Tu sei pazzo,’ she told him with a pleasant laugh.
   ‘Why am I crazy?’ he asked.
   ‘Perchè non posso sposare.’
   ‘Why can’t you get married?’
   ‘Because I am not a virgin,’ she answered.
   ‘What has that got to do with it?’
   ‘Who will marry me? No one wants a girl who is not a virgin.’
   ‘I will. I’ll marry you.’
   ‘Ma non posso sposarti.’
   ‘Why can’t you marry me?’
   ‘Perchè sei pazzo.’
   ‘Why am I crazy?’
   ‘Perchè vuoi sposarmi.’ Yossarian wrinkled his forehead with quizzical amusement. ‘You won’t marry me because I’m crazy, and you say I’m crazy because I want to marry you? Is that right?’
   ‘Si.’
   ‘Tu sei pazz’!’ he told her loudly.
   ‘Perchè?’ she shouted back at him indignantly, her unavoidable round breasts rising and falling in a saucy huff beneath the pink chemise as she sat up in bed indignantly. ‘Why am I crazy?’
   ‘Because you won’t marry me.’
   ‘Stupido!’ she shouted back at him, and smacked him loudly and flamboyantly on the chest with the back of her hand. ‘Non posso sposarti! Non capisci? Non posso sposarti.’
   ‘Oh, sure, I understand. And why can’t you marry me?’
   ‘Perchè sei pazzo!’
   ‘And why am I crazy?’
   ‘Perchè vuoi sposarmi.’
   ‘Because I want to marry you. Carina, ti amo,’ he explained, and he drew her gently back down to the pillow. ‘Ti amo molto.’
   ‘Tu sei pazzo,’ she murmured in reply, flattered.
   ‘Perchè?’
   ‘Because you say you love me. How can you love a girl who is not a virgin?’
   ‘Because I can’t marry you.’ She bolted right up again in a threatening rage. ‘Why can’t you marry me?’ she demanded, ready to clout him again if he gave an uncomplimentary reply. ‘Just because I am not a virgin?’
   ‘No, no, darling. Because you’re crazy.’ She stared at him in blank resentment for a moment and then tossed her head back and roared appreciatively with hearty laughter. She gazed at him with new approval when she stopped, the lush, responsive tissues of her dark face turning darker still and blooming somnolently with a swelling and beautifying infusion of blood. Her eyes grew dim. He crushed out both their cigarettes, and they turned into each other wordlessly in an engrossing kiss just as Hungry Joe came meandering into the room without knocking to ask if Yossarian wanted to go out with him to look for girls. Hungry Joe stopped on a dime when he saw them and shot out of the room. Yossarian shot out of bed even faster and began shouting at Luciana to get dressed. The girl was dumbfounded. He pulled her roughly out of bed by her arm and flung her away toward her clothing, then raced for the door in time to slam it shut as Hungry Joe was running back in with his camera. Hungry Joe had his leg wedged in the door and would not pull it out.
   ‘Let me in!’ he begged urgently, wriggling and squirming maniacally. ‘Let me in!’ He stopped struggling for a moment to gaze up into Yossarian’s face through the crack in the door with what he must have supposed was a beguiling smile. ‘Me no Hungry Joe,’ he explained earnestly. ‘Me heap big photographer from Life magazine. Heap big picture on heap big cover. I make you big Hollywood star, Yossarian. Multi dinero. Multi divorces. Multi ficky-fic all day long. Si, si, si!’ Yossarian slammed the door shut when Hungry Joe stepped back a bit to try to shoot a picture of Luciana dressing. Hungry Joe attacked the stout wooden barrier fanatically, fell back to reorganize his energies and hurled himself forward fanatically again. Yossarian slithered into his own clothes between assaults. Luciana had her green-and-white summer dress on and was holding the skirt bunched up above her waist. A wave of misery broke over him as he saw her about to vanish inside her panties forever. He reached out to grasp her and drew her to him by the raised calf of her leg. She hopped forward and molded herself against him. Yossarian kissed her ears and her closed eyes romantically and rubbed the backs of her thighs. She began to hum sensually a moment before Hungry Joe hurled his frail body against the door in still one more desperate attack and almost knocked them both down. Yossarian pushed her away.
   ‘Vite! Vite!’ he scolded her. ‘Get your things on!’
   ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ she wanted to know.
   ‘Fast! Fast! Can’t you understand English? Get your clothes on fast!’
   ‘Stupido!’ she snarled back at him. ‘Vite is French, not Italian. Subito, subito! That’s what you mean. Subito!’
   ‘Si, si. That’s what I mean. Subito, subito!’
   ‘Si, si,’ she responded co-operatively, and ran for her shoes and earrings.
   Hungry Joe had paused in his attack to shoot pictures through the closed door. Yossarian could hear the camera shutter clicking. When both he and Luciana were ready, Yossarian waited for Hungry Joe’s next charge and yanked the door open on him unexpectedly. Hungry Joe spilled forward into the room like a floundering frog. Yossarian skipped nimbly around him, guiding Luciana along behind him through the apartment and out into the hallway. They bounced down the stairs with a great roistering clatter, laughing out loud breathlessly and knocking their hilarious heads together each time they paused to rest. Near the bottom they met Nately coming up and stopped laughing. Nately was drawn, dirty and unhappy. His tie was twisted and his shirt was rumpled, and he walked with his hands in his pockets. He wore a hangdog, hopeless look.
   ‘What’s the matter, kid?’ Yossarian inquired compassionately.
   ‘I’m flat broke again,’ Nately replied with a lame and distracted smile. ‘What am I going to do?’ Yossarian didn’t know. Nately had spent the last thirty-two hours at twenty dollars an hour with the apathetic whore he adored, and he had nothing left of his pay or of the lucrative allowance he received every month from his wealthy and generous father. That meant he could not spend time with her any more. She would not allow him to walk beside her as she strolled the pavements soliciting other servicemen, and she was infuriated when she spied him trailing her from a distance. He was free to hang around her apartment if he cared to, but there was no certainty that she would be there. And she would give him nothing unless he could pay. She found sex uninteresting. Nately wanted the assurance that she was not going to bed with anyone unsavory or with someone he knew. Captain Black always made it a point to buy her each time he came to Rome, just so he could torment Nately with the news that he had thrown his sweetheart another hump and watch Nately eat his liver as he related the atrocious indignities to which he had forced her to submit.
   Luciana was touched by Nately’s forlorn air, but broke loudly into robust laughter again the moment she stepped outside into the sunny street with Yossarian and heard Hungry Joe beseeching them from the window to come back and take their clothes off, because he really was a photographer from Life magazine. Luciana fled mirthfully along the sidewalk in her high white wedgies, pulling Yossarian along in tow with the same lusty and ingenuous zeal she had displayed in the dance hall the night before and at every moment since. Yossarian caught up and walked with his arm around her waist until they came to the corner and she stepped away from him. She straightened her hair in a mirror from her pocketbook and put lipstick on.
   ‘Why don’t you ask me to let you write my name and address on a piece of paper so that you will be able to find me again when you come to Rome?’ she suggested.
   ‘Why don’t you let me write your name and address down on a piece of paper?’ he agreed.
   ‘Why?’ she demanded belligerently, her mouth curling suddenly into a vehement sneer and her eyes flashing with anger. ‘So you can tear it up into little pieces as soon as I leave?’
   ‘Who’s going to tear it up?’ Yossarian protested in confusion. ‘What the hell are you talking about?’
   ‘You will,’ she insisted. ‘You’ll tear it up into little pieces the minute I’m gone and go walking away like a big shot because a tall, young, beautiful girl like me, Luciana, let you sleep with her and did not ask you for money.’
   ‘How much money are you asking me for?’ he asked her.
   ‘Stupido!’ she shouted with emotion. ‘I am not asking you for any money!’ She stamped her foot and raised her arm in a turbulent gesture that made Yossarian fear she was going to crack him in the face again with her great pocketbook. Instead, she scribbled her name and address on a slip of paper and. thrust it at him. ‘Here,’ she taunted him sardonically, biting on her lip to still a delicate tremor. ‘Don’t forget. Don’t forget to tear it into tiny pieces as soon as I am gone.’ Then she smiled at him serenely, squeezed his hand and, with a whispered regretful ‘Addio,’ pressed herself against him for a moment and then straightened and walked away with unconscious dignity and grace.
   The minute she was gone, Yossarian tore the slip of paper up and walked away in the other direction, feeling very much like a big shot because a beautiful young girl like Luciana had slept with him and did not ask for money. He was pretty pleased with himself until he looked up in the dining room of the Red Cross building and found himself eating breakfast with dozens and dozens of other servicemen in all kinds of fantastic uniforms, and then all at once he was surrounded by images of Luciana getting out of her clothes and into her clothes and caressing and haranguing him tempestuously in the pink rayon chemise she wore in bed with him and would not take off. Yossarian choked on his toast and eggs at the enormity of his error in tearing her long, lithe, nude, young vibrant limbs into any pieces of paper so impudently and dumping her down so smugly into the gutter from the curb. He missed her terribly already. There were so many strident faceless people in uniform in the dining room with him. He felt an urgent desire to be alone with her again soon and sprang up impetuously from his table and went running outside and back down the street toward the apartment in search of the tiny bits of paper in the gutter, but they had all been flushed away by a street cleaner’s hose.
   He couldn’t find her again in the Allied officers’ night club that evening or in the sweltering, burnished, hedonistic bedlam of the black-market restaurant with its vast bobbing wooden trays of elegant food and its chirping flock of bright and lovely girls. He couldn’t even find the restaurant. When he went to bed alone, he dodged flak over Bologna again in a dream, with Aarfy hanging over his shoulder abominably in the plane with a bloated sordid leer. In the morning he ran looking for Luciana in all the French offices he could find, but nobody knew what he was talking about, and then he ran in terror, so jumpy, distraught and disorganized that he just had to keep running in terror somewhere, to the enlisted men’s apartment for the squat maid in the lime-colored panties, whom he found dusting in Snowden’s room on the fifth floor in her drab brown sweater and heavy dark skirt. Snowden was still alive then, and Yossarian could tell it was Snowden’s room from the name stenciled in white on the blue duffel bag he tripped over as he plunged through the doorway at her in a frenzy of creative desperation. The woman caught him by the wrists before he could fall as he came stumbling toward her in need and pulled him along down on top of her as she flopped over backward onto the bed and enveloped him hospitably in her flaccid and consoling embrace, her dust mop aloft in her hand like a banner as her broad, brutish congenial face gazed up at him fondly with a smile of unperjured friendship. There was a sharp elastic snap as she rolled the lime-colored panties off beneath them both without disturbing him.
   He stuffed money into her hand when they were finished. She hugged him in gratitude. He hugged her. She hugged him back and then pulled him down on top of her on the bed again. He stuffed more money into her hand when they were finished this time and ran out of the room before she could begin hugging him in gratitude again. Back at his own apartment, he threw his things together as fast as he could, left for Nately what money he had, and ran back to Pianosa on a supply plane to apologize to Hungry Joe for shutting him out of the bedroom. The apology was unnecessary, for Hungry Joe was in high spirits when Yossarian found him. Hungry Joe was grinning from ear to ear, and Yossarian turned sick at the sight of him, for he understood instantly what the high spirits meant.
   ‘Forty missions,’ Hungry Joe announced readily in a voice lyrical with relief and elation. ‘The colonel raised them again.’ Yossarian was stunned. ‘But I’ve got thirty-two, goddammit! Three more and I would have been through.’ Hungry Joe shrugged indifferently. ‘The colonel wants forty missions,’ he repeated.
   Yossarian shoved him out of the way and ran right into the hospital.
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The Soldier in White

   Yossarian ran right into the hospital, determined to remain there forever rather than fly one mission more than the thirty-two missions he had. Ten days after he changed his mind and came out, the colonel raised the missions to forty-five and Yossarian ran right back in, determined to remain in the hospital forever rather than fly one mission more than the six missions more he had just flown.
   Yossarian could run into the hospital whenever he wanted to because of his liver and because of his eyes; the doctors couldn’t fix his liver condition and couldn’t meet his eyes each time he told them he had a liver condition. He could enjoy himself in the hospital, just as long as there was no one really very sick in the same ward. His system was sturdy enough to survive a case of someone else’s malaria or influenza with scarcely any discomfort at all. He could come through other people’s tonsillectomies without suffering any postoperative distress, and even endure their hernias and hemorrhoids with only mild nausea and revulsion. But that was just about as much as he could go through without getting sick. After that he was ready to bolt. He could relax in the hospital, since no one there expected him to do anything. All he was expected to do in the hospital was die or get better, and since he was perfectly all right to begin with, getting better was easy.
   Being in the hospital was better than being over Bologna or flying over Avignon with Huple and Dobbs at the controls and Snowden dying in back.
   There were usually not nearly as many sick people inside the hospital as Yossarian saw outside the hospital, and there were generally fewer people inside the hospital who were seriously sick. There was a much lower death rate inside the hospital than outside the hospital, and a much healthier death rate. Few people died unnecessarily. People knew a lot more about dying inside the hospital and made a much neater, more orderly job of it. They couldn’t dominate Death inside the hospital, but they certainly made her behave. They had taught her manners. They couldn’t keep Death out, but while she was in she had to act like a lady. People gave up the ghost with delicacy and taste inside the hospital. There was none of that crude, ugly ostentation about dying that was so common outside the hospital. They did not blow up in mid-air like Kraft or the dead man in Yossarian’s tent, or freeze to death in the blazing summertime the way Snowden had frozen to death after spilling his secret to Yossarian in the back of the plane.
   ‘I’m cold,’ Snowden had whimpered. ‘I’m cold.’
   ‘There, there,’ Yossarian had tried to comfort him. ‘There, there.’ They didn’t take it on the lam weirdly inside a cloud the way Clevinger had done. They didn’t explode into blood and clotted matter. They didn’t drown or get struck by lightning, mangled by machinery or crushed in landslides. They didn’t get shot to death in hold-ups, strangled to death in rapes, stabbed to death in saloons, bludgeoned to death with axes by parents or children or die summarily by some other act of God. Nobody choked to death. People bled to death like gentlemen in an operating room or expired without comment in an oxygen tent. There was none of that tricky now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t business so much in vogue outside the hospital, none of that now-I-am-and-now-I-ain’t. There were no famines or floods. Children didn’t suffocate in cradles or iceboxes or fall under trucks. No one was beaten to death. People didn’t stick their heads into ovens with the gas on, jump in front of subway trains or come plummeting like dead weights out of hotel windows with a whoosh!, accelerating at the rate of sixteen feet per second to land with a hideous plop! on the sidewalk and die disgustingly there in public like an alpaca sack full of hairy strawberry ice cream, bleeding, pink toes awry.
   All things considered, Yossarian often preferred the hospital, even though it had its faults. The help tended to be officious, the rules, if heeded, restrictive, and the management meddlesome. Since sick people were apt to be present, he could not always depend on a lively young crowd in the same ward with him, and the entertainment was not always good. He was forced to admit that the hospitals had altered steadily for the worse as the war continued and one moved closer to the battlefront, the deterioration in the quality of the guests becoming most marked within the combat zone itself where the effects of booming wartime conditions were apt to make themselves conspicuous immediately. The people got sicker and sicker the deeper he moved into combat, until finally in the hospital that last time there had been the soldier in white, who could not have been any sicker without being dead, and he soon was.
   The soldier in white was constructed entirely of gauze, plaster and a thermometer, and the thermometer was merely an adornment left balanced in the empty dark hole in the bandages over his mouth early each morning and late each afternoon by Nurse Cramer and Nurse Duckett right up to the afternoon Nurse Cramer read the thermometer and discovered he was dead. Now that Yossarian looked back, it seemed that Nurse Cramer, rather than the talkative Texan, had murdered the soldier in white; if she had not read the thermometer and reported what she had found, the soldier in white might still be lying there alive exactly as he had been lying there all along, encased from head to toe in plaster and gauze with both strange, rigid legs elevated from the hips and both strange arms strung up perpendicularly, all four bulky limbs in casts, all four strange, useless limbs hoisted up in the air by taut wire cables and fantastically long lead weights suspended darkly above him. Lying there that way might not have been much of a life, but it was all the life he had, and the decision to terminate it, Yossarian felt, should hardly have been Nurse Cramer’s.
   The soldier in white was like an unrolled bandage with a hole in it or like a broken block of stone in a harbor with a crooked zinc pipe jutting out. The other patients in the ward, all but the Texan, shrank from him with a tenderhearted aversion from the moment they set eyes on him the morning after the night he had been sneaked in. They gathered soberly in the farthest recess of the ward and gossiped about him in malicious, offended undertones, rebelling against his presence as a ghastly imposition and resenting him malevolently for the nauseating truth of which he was bright reminder. They shared a common dread that he would begin moaning.
   ‘I don’t know what I’ll do if he does begin moaning,’ the dashing young fighter pilot with the golden mustache had grieved forlornly. ‘It means he’ll moan during the night, too, because he won’t be able to tell time.’ No sound at all came from the soldier in white all the time he was there. The ragged round hole over his mouth was deep and jet black and showed no sign of lip, teeth, palate or tongue. The only one who ever came close enough to look was the affable Texan, who came close enough several times a day to chat with him about more votes for the decent folk, opening each conversation with the same unvarying greeting: ‘What do you say, fella? How you coming along?’ The rest of the men avoided them both in their regulation maroon corduroy bathrobes and unraveling flannel pajamas, wondering gloomily who the soldier in white was, why he was there and what he was really like inside.
   ‘He’s all right, I tell you,’ the Texan would report back to them encouragingly after each of his social visits.
   ‘Deep down inside he’s really a regular guy. He’s feeling a little shy and insecure now because he doesn’t know anybody here and can’t talk. Why don’t you all just step right up to him and introduce yourselves? He won’t hurt you.’
   ‘What the goddam hell are you talking about?’ Dunbar demanded. ‘Does he even know what you’re talking about?’
   ‘Sure he knows what I’m talking about. He’s not stupid. There ain’t nothing wrong with him.’
   ‘Can he hear you?’
   ‘Well, I don’t know if he can hear me or not, but I’m sure he knows what I’m talking about.’
   ‘Does that hole over his mouth ever move?’
   ‘Now, what kind of a crazy question is that?’ the Texan asked uneasily.
   ‘How can you tell if he’s breathing if it never moves?’
   ‘How can you tell it’s a he?’
   ‘Does he have pads over his eyes underneath that bandage over his face?’
   ‘Does he ever wiggle his toes or move the tips of his fingers?’ The Texan backed away in mounting confusion. ‘Now, what kind of a crazy question is that? You fellas must all be crazy or something. Why don’t you just walk right up to him and get acquainted? He’s a real nice guy, I tell you.’ The soldier in white was more like a stuffed and sterilized mummy than a real nice guy. Nurse Duckett and Nurse Cramer kept him spick-and-span. They brushed his bandages often with a whiskbroom and scrubbed the plaster casts on his arms, legs, shoulders, chest and pelvis with soapy water. Working with a round tin of metal polish, they waxed a dim gloss on the dull zinc pipe rising from the cement on his groin. With damp dish towels they wiped the dust several times a day from the slim black rubber tubes leading in and out of him to the two large stoppered jars, one of them, hanging on a post beside his bed, dripping fluid into his arm constantly through a slit in the bandages while the other, almost out of sight on the floor, drained the fluid away through the zinc pipe rising from his groin. Both young nurses polished the glass jars unceasingly. They were proud of their housework. The more solicitous of the two was Nurse Cramer, a shapely, pretty, sexless girl with a wholesome unattractive face. Nurse Cramer had a cute nose and a radiant, blooming complexion dotted with fetching sprays of adorable freckles that Yossarian detested. She was touched very deeply by the soldier in white. Her virtuous, pale-blue, saucerlike eyes flooded with leviathan tears on unexpected occasions and made Yossarian mad.
   ‘How the hell do you know he’s even in there?’ he asked her.
   ‘Don’t you dare talk to me that way!’ she replied indignantly.
   ‘Well, how do you? You don’t even know if it’s really him.’
   ‘Who?’
   ‘Whoever’s supposed to be in all those bandages. You might really be weeping for somebody else. How do you know he’s even alive?’
   ‘What a terrible thing to say!’ Nurse Cramer exclaimed. ‘Now, you get right into bed and stop making jokes about him.’
   ‘I’m not making jokes. Anybody might be in there. For all we know, it might even be Mudd.’
   ‘What are you talking about?’ Nurse Cramer pleaded with him in a quavering voice.
   ‘Maybe that’s where the dead man is.’
   ‘What dead man?’
   ‘I’ve got a dead man in my tent that nobody can throw out. His name is Mudd.’ Nurse Cramer’s face blanched and she turned to Dunbar desperately for aid. ‘Make him stop saying things like that,’ she begged.
   ‘Maybe there’s no one inside,’ Dunbar suggested helpfully. ‘Maybe they just sent the bandages here for a joke.’ She stepped away from Dunbar in alarm. ‘You’re crazy,’ she cried, glancing about imploringly. ‘You’re both crazy.’ Nurse Duckett showed up then and chased them all back to their own beds while Nurse Cramer changed the stoppered jars for the soldier in white. Changing the jars for the soldier in white was no trouble at all, since the same clear fluid was dripped back inside him over and over again with no apparent loss. When the jar feeding the inside of his elbow was just about empty, the jar on the floor was just about full, and the two were simply uncoupled from their respective hoses and reversed quickly so that the liquid could be dripped right back into him. Changing the jars was no trouble to anyone but the men who watched them changed every hour or so and were baffled by the procedure.
   ‘Why can’t they hook the two jars up to each other and eliminate the middleman?’ the artillery captain with whom Yossarian had stopped playing chess inquired. ‘What the hell do they need him for?’
   ‘I wonder what he did to deserve it,’ the warrant officer with malaria and a mosquito bite on his ass lamented after Nurse Cramer had read her thermometer and discovered that the soldier in white was dead.
   ‘He went to war,’ the fighter pilot with the golden mustache surmised.
   ‘We all went to war,’ Dunbar countered.
   ‘That’s what I mean,’ the warrant officer with malaria continued. ‘Why him? There just doesn’t seem to be any logic to this system of rewards and punishment. Look what happened to me. If I had gotten syphilis or a dose of clap for my five minutes of passion on the beach instead of this damned mosquito bite, I could see justice. But malaria? Malaria? Who can explain malaria as a consequence of fornication?’ The warrant officer shook his head in numb astonishment.
   ‘What about me?’ Yossarian said. ‘I stepped out of my tent in Marrakech one night to get a bar of candy and caught your dose of clap when that Wac I never even saw before kissed me into the bushes. All I really wanted was a bar of candy, but who could turn it down?’
   ‘That sounds like my dose of clap, all right,’ the warrant officer agreed. ‘But I’ve still got somebody else’s malaria. Just for once I’d like to see all these things sort of straightened out, with each person getting exactly what he deserves. It might give me some confidence in this universe.’
   ‘I’ve got somebody else’s three hundred thousand dollars,’ the dashing young fighter captain with the golden mustache admitted. ‘I’ve been goofing off since the day I was born. I cheated my way through prep school and college, and just about all I’ve been doing ever since is shacking up with pretty girls who think I’d make a good husband. I’ve got no ambition at all. The only thing I want to do after the war is marry some girl who’s got more money than I have and shack up with lots more pretty girls. The three hundred thousand bucks was left to me before I was born by a grandfather who made a fortune selling on an international scale. I know I don’t deserve it, but I’ll be damned if I give it back. I wonder who it really belongs to.’
   ‘Maybe it belongs to my father,’ Dunbar conjectured. ‘He spent a lifetime at hard work and never could make enough money to even send my sister and me through college. He’s dead now, so you might as well keep it.’
   ‘Now, if we can just find out who my malaria belongs to we’d be all set. It’s not that I’ve got anything against malaria. I’d just as soon goldbrick with malaria as with anything else. It’s only that I feel an injustice has been committed. Why should I have somebody else’s malaria and you have my dose of clap?’
   ‘I’ve got more than your dose of clap,’ Yossarian told him. ‘I’ve got to keep flying combat missions because of that dose of yours until they kill me.’
   ‘That makes it even worse. What’s the justice in that?’
   ‘I had a friend named Clevinger two and a half weeks ago who used to see plenty of justice in it.’
   ‘It’s the highest kind of justice of all,’ Clevinger had gloated, clapping his hands with a merry laugh. ‘I can’t help thinking of the Hippolytus of Euripides, where the early licentiousness of Theseus is probably responsible for the asceticism of the son that helps bring about the tragedy that ruins them all. If nothing else, that episode with the Wac should teach you the evil of sexual immorality.’
   ‘It teaches me the evil of candy.’
   ‘Can’t you see that you’re not exactly without blame for the predicament you’re in?’ Clevinger had continued with undisguised relish. ‘If you hadn’t been laid up in the hospital with venereal disease for ten days back there in Africa, you might have finished your twenty-five missions in time to be sent home before Colonel Nevers was killed and Colonel Cathcart came to replace him.’
   ‘And what about you?’ Yossarian had replied. ‘You never got clap in Marrakech and you’re in the same predicament.’
   ‘I don’t know,’ confessed Clevinger, with a trace of mock concern. ‘I guess I must have done something very bad in my time.’
   ‘Do you really believe that?’ Clevinger laughed. ‘No, of course not. I just like to kid you along a little.’ There were too many dangers for Yossarian to keep track of. There was Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo, for example, and they were all out to kill him. There was Lieutenant Scheisskopf with his fanaticism for parades and there was the bloated colonel with his big fat mustache and his fanaticism for retribution, and they wanted to kill him, too. There was Appleby, Havermeyer, Black and Korn. There was Nurse Cramer and Nurse Duckett, who he was almost certain wanted him dead, and there was the Texan and the C.I.D. man, about whom he had no doubt. There were bartenders, bricklayers and bus conductors all over the world who wanted him dead, landlords and tenants, traitors and patriots, lynchers, leeches and lackeys, and they were all out to bump him off. That was the secret Snowden had spilled to him on the mission to Avignon —they were out to get him; and Snowden had spilled it all over the back of the plane.
   There were lymph glands that might do him in. There were kidneys, nerve sheaths and corpuscles. There were tumors of the brain. There was Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. There were fertile red meadows of epithelial tissue to catch and coddle a cancer cell. There were diseases of the skin, diseases of the bone, diseases of the lung, diseases of the stomach, diseases of the heart, blood and arteries. There were diseases of the head, diseases of the neck, diseases of the chest, diseases of the intestines, diseases of the crotch. There even were diseases of the feet. There were billions of conscientious body cells oxidating away day and night like dumb animals at their complicated job of keeping him alive and healthy, and every one was a potential traitor and foe. There were so many diseases that it took a truly diseased mind to even think about them as often as he and Hungry Joe did.
   Hungry Joe collected lists of fatal diseases and arranged them in alphabetical order so that he could put his finger without delay on any one he wanted to worry about. He grew very upset whenever he misplaced some or when he could not add to his list, and he would go rushing in a cold sweat to Doc Daneeka for help.
   ‘Give him Ewing’s tumor,’ Yossarian advised Doc Daneeka, who would come to Yossarian for help in handling Hungry Joe, ‘and follow it up with melanoma. Hungry Joe likes lingering diseases, but he likes the fulminating ones even more.’ Doc Daneeka had never heard of either. ‘How do you manage to keep up on so many diseases like that?’ he inquired with high professional esteem.
   ‘I learn about them at the hospital when I study the Reader’s Digest.’ Yossarian had so many ailments to be afraid of that he was sometimes tempted to turn himself in to the hospital for good and spend the rest of his life stretched out there inside an oxygen tent with a battery of specialists and nurses seated at one side of his bed twenty-four hours a day waiting for something to go wrong and at least one surgeon with a knife poised at the other, ready to jump forward and begin cutting away the moment it became necessary. Aneurisms, for instance; how else could they ever defend him in time against an aneurism of the aorta? Yossarian felt much safer inside the hospital than outside the hospital, even though he loathed the surgeon and his knife as much as he had ever loathed anyone. He could start screaming inside a hospital and people would at least come running to try to help; outside the hospital they would throw him in prison if he ever started screaming about all the things he felt everyone ought to start screaming about, or they would put him in the hospital. One of the things he wanted to start screaming about was the surgeon’s knife that was almost certain to be waiting for him and everyone else who lived long enough to die. He wondered often how he would ever recognize the first chill, flush, twinge, ache, belch, sneeze, stain, lethargy, vocal slip, loss of balance or lapse of memory that would signal the inevitable beginning of the inevitable end.
   He was afraid also that Doc Daneeka would still refuse to help him when he went to him again after jumping out of Major Major’s office, and he was right.
   ‘You think you’ve got something to be afraid about?’ Doc Daneeka demanded, lifting his delicate immaculate dark head up from his chest to gaze at Yossarian irascibly for a moment with lachrymose eyes. ‘What about me? My precious medical skills are rusting away here on this lousy island while other doctors are cleaning up. Do you think I enjoy sitting here day after day refusing to help you? I wouldn’t mind it so much if I could refuse to help you back in the States or in some place like Rome. But saying no to you here isn’t easy for me, either.’
   ‘Then stop saying no. Ground me.’
   ‘I can’t ground you,’ Doc Daneeka mumbled. ‘How many times do you have to be told?’
   ‘Yes you can. Major Major told me you’re the only one in the squadron who can ground me.’ Doc Daneeka was stunned. ‘Major Major told you that? When?’
   ‘When I tackled him in the ditch.’
   ‘Major Major told you that? In a ditch?’
   ‘He told me in his office after we left the ditch and jumped inside. He told me not to tell anyone he told me, so don’t start shooting your mouth off.’
   ‘Why that dirty, scheming liar!’ Doc Daneeka cried. ‘He wasn’t supposed to tell anyone. Did he tell you how I could ground you?’
   ‘Just by filling out a little slip of paper saying I’m on the verge of a nervous collapse and sending it to Group. Dr. Stubbs grounds men in his squadron all the time, so why can’t you?’
   ‘And what happens to the men after Stubbs does ground them?’ Doc Daneeka retorted with a sneer. ‘They go right back on combat status, don’t they? And he finds himself right up the creek. Sure, I can ground you by filling out a slip saying you’re unfit to fly. But there’s a catch.’
   ‘Catch-22?’
   ‘Sure. If I take you off combat duty, Group has to approve my action, and Group isn’t going to. They’ll put you right back on combat status, and then where will I be? On my way to the Pacific Ocean, probably. No, thank you. I’m not going to take any chances for you.’
   ‘Isn’t it worth a try?’ Yossarian argued. ‘What’s so hot about Pianosa?’
   ‘Pianosa is terrible. But it’s better than the Pacific Ocean. I wouldn’t mind being shipped someplace civilized where I might pick up a buck or two in abortion money every now and then. But all they’ve got in the Pacific is jungles and monsoons, I’d rot there.’
   ‘You’re rotting here.’ Doc Daneeka flared up angrily. ‘Yeah? Well, at least I’m going to come out of this war alive, which is a lot more than you’re going to do.’
   ‘That’s just what I’m trying to tell you, goddammit. I’m asking you to save my life.’
   ‘It’s not my business to save lives,’ Doc Daneeka retorted sullenly.
   ‘What is your business?’
   ‘I don’t know what my business is. All they ever told me was to uphold the ethics of my profession and never give testimony against another physician. Listen. You think you’re the only one whose life is in danger? What about me? Those two quacks I’ve got working for me in the medical tent still can’t find out what’s wrong with me.’
   ‘Maybe it’s Ewing’s tumor,’ Yossarian muttered sarcastically.
   ‘Do you really think so?’ Doc Daneeka exclaimed with fright.
   ‘Oh, I don’t know,’ Yossarian answered impatiently. ‘I just know I’m not going to fly any more missions. They wouldn’t really shoot me, would they? I’ve got fifty-one.’
   ‘Why don’t you at least finish the fifty-five before you take a stand?’ Doc Daneeka advised. ‘With all your bitching, you’ve never finished a tour of duty even once.’
   ‘How the hell can I? The colonel keeps raising them every time I get close.’
   ‘You never finish your missions because you keep running into the hospital or going off to Rome. You’d be in a much, stronger position if you had your fifty-five finished and then refused to fly. Then maybe I’d see what I could do.’
   ‘Do you promise?’
   ‘I promise.’
   ‘What do you promise?’
   ‘I promise that maybe I’ll think about doing something to help if you finish your fifty-five missions and if you get McWatt to put my name on his flight log again so that I can draw my flight pay without going up in a plane. I’m afraid of airplanes. Did you read about that airplane crash in Idaho three weeks ago? Six people killed. It was terrible. I don’t know why they want me to put in four hours’ flight time every month in order to get my flight pay. Don’t I have enough to worry about without worrying about being killed in an airplane crash too?’
   ‘I worry about the airplane crashes also,’ Yossarian told him. ‘You’re not the only one.’
   ‘Yeah, but I’m also pretty worried about that Ewing’s tumor,’ Doc Daneeka boasted. ‘Do you think that’s why my nose is stuffed all the time and why I always feel so chilly? Take my pulse.’ Yossarian also worried about Ewing’s tumor and melanoma. Catastrophes were lurking everywhere, too numerous to count. When he contemplated the many diseases and potential accidents threatening him, he was positively astounded that he had managed to survive in good health for as long as he had. It was miraculous. Each day he faced was another dangerous mission against mortality. And he had been surviving them for twenty-eight years.
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The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice

   Yossarian owed his good health to exercise, fresh air, teamwork and good sportsmanship; it was to get away from them all that he had first discovered the hospital. When the physical-education officer at Lowery Field ordered everyone to fall out for calisthenics one afternoon, Yossarian, the private, reported instead at the dispensary with what he said was a pain in his right side.
   ‘Beat it,’ said the doctor on duty there, who was doing a crossword puzzle.
   ‘We can’t tell him to beat it,’ said a corporal. ‘There’s a new directive out about abdominal complaints. We have to keep them under observation five days because so many of them have been dying after we make them beat it.’
   ‘All right,’ grumbled the doctor. ‘Keep him under observation five days and then make him beat it.’ They took Yossarian’s clothes away and put him in a ward, where he was very happy when no one was snoring nearby. In the morning a helpful young English intern popped in to ask him about his liver.
   ‘I think it’s my appendix that’s bothering me,’ Yossarian told him.
   ‘Your appendix is no good,’ the Englishman declared with jaunty authority. ‘If your appendix goes wrong, we can take it out and have you back on active duty in almost no time at all. But come to us with a liver complaint and you can fool us for weeks. The liver, you see, is a large, ugly mystery to us. If you’ve ever eaten liver you know what I mean. We’re pretty sure today that the liver exists and we have a fairly good idea of what it does whenever it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing. Beyond that, we’re really in the dark. After all, what is a liver? My father, for example, died of cancer of the liver and was never sick a day of his life right up till the moment it killed him. Never felt a twinge of pain. In a way, that was too bad, since I hated my father. Lust for my mother, you know.’
   ‘What’s an English medical officer doing on duty here?’ Yossarian wanted to know.
   The officer laughed. ‘I’ll tell you all about that when I see you tomorrow morning. And throw that silly ice bag away before you die of pneumonia.’ Yossarian never saw him again. That was one of the nice things about all the doctors at the hospital; he never saw any of them a second time. They came and went and simply disappeared. In place of the English intern the next day, there arrived a group of doctors he had never seen before to ask him about his appendix.
   ‘There’s nothing wrong with my appendix,’ Yossarian informed them. ‘The doctor yesterday said it was my liver.’
   ‘Maybe it is his liver,’ replied the white-haired officer in charge. ‘What does his blood count show?’
   ‘He hasn’t had a blood count.’
   ‘Have one taken right away. We can’t afford to take chances with a patient in his condition. We’ve got to keep ourselves covered in case he dies.’ He made a notation on his clipboard and spoke to Yossarian. ‘In the meantime, keep that ice bag on. It’s very important.’
   ‘I don’t have an ice bag on.’
   ‘Well, get one. There must be an ice bag around here somewhere. And let someone know if the pain becomes unendurable.’ At the end of ten days, a new group of doctors came to Yossarian with bad news; he was in perfect health and had to get out. He was rescued in the nick of time by a patient across the aisle who began to see everything twice. Without warning, the patient sat up in bed and shouted.
   ‘I see everything twice!’ A nurse screamed and an orderly fainted. Doctors came running up from every direction with needles, lights, tubes, rubber mallets and oscillating metal tines. They rolled up complicated instruments on wheels. There was not enough of the patient to go around, and specialists pushed forward in line with raw tempers and snapped at their colleagues in front to hurry up and give somebody else a chance. A colonel with a large forehead and horn-rimmed glasses soon arrived at a diagnosis.
   ‘It’s meningitis,’ he called out emphatically, waving the others back. ‘Although Lord knows there’s not the slightest reason for thinking so.’
   ‘Then why pick meningitis?’ inquired a major with a suave chuckle. ‘Why not, let’s say, acute nephritis?’
   ‘Because I’m a meningitis man, that’s why, and not an acute-nephritis man,’ retorted the colonel. ‘And I’m not going to give him up to any of you kidney birds without a struggle. I was here first.’ In the end, the doctors were all in accord. They agreed they had no idea what was wrong with the soldier who saw everything twice, and they rolled him away into a room in the corridor and quarantined everyone else in the ward for fourteen days.
   Thanksgiving Day came and went without any fuss while Yossarian was still in the hospital. The only bad thing about it was the turkey for dinner, and even that was pretty good. It was the most rational Thanksgiving he had ever spent, and he took a sacred oath to spend every future Thanksgiving Day in the cloistered shelter of a hospital. He broke his sacred oath the very next year, when he spent the holiday in a hotel room instead in intellectual conversation with Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife, who had Dori Duz’s dog tags on for the occasion and who henpecked Yossarian sententiously for being cynical and callous about Thanksgiving, even though she didn’t believe in God just as much as he didn’t.
   ‘I’m probably just as good an atheist as you are,’ she speculated boastfully. ‘But even I feel that we all have a great deal to be thankful for and that we shouldn’t be ashamed to show it.’
   ‘Name one thing I’ve got to be thankful for,’ Yossarian challenged her without interest.
   ‘Well…’ Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife mused and paused a moment to ponder dubiously. ‘Me.’
   ‘Oh, come on,’ he scoffed.
   She arched her eyebrows in surprise. ‘Aren’t you thankful for me?’ she asked. She frowned peevishly, her pride wounded. ‘I don’t have to shack up with you, you know,’ she told him with cold dignity. ‘My husband has a whole squadron full of aviation cadets who would be only too happy to shack up with their commanding officer’s wife just for the added fillip it would give them.’ Yossarian decided to change the subject. ‘Now you’re changing the subject,’ he pointed out diplomatically. ‘I’ll bet I can name two things to be miserable about for every one you can name to be thankful for.’
   ‘Be thankful you’ve got me,’ she insisted.
   ‘I am, honey. But I’m also goddam good and miserable that I can’t have Dori Duz again, too. Or the hundreds of other girls and women I’ll see and want in my short lifetime and won’t be able to go to bed with even once.’
   ‘Be thankful you’re healthy.’
   ‘Be bitter you’re not going to stay that way.’
   ‘Be glad you’re even alive.’
   ‘Be furious you’re going to die.’
   ‘Things could be much worse,’ she cried.
   ‘They could be one hell of a lot better,’ he answered heatedly.
   ‘You’re naming only one thing,’ she protested. ‘You said you could name two.’
   ‘And don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways,’ Yossarian continued, hurtling on over her objection. ‘There’s nothing so mysterious about it. He’s not working at all. He’s playing. Or else He’s forgotten all about us. That’s the kind of God you people talk about—a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?’
   ‘Pain?’ Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife pounced upon the word victoriously. ‘Pain is a useful symptom. Pain is a warning to us of bodily dangers.’
   ‘And who created the dangers?’ Yossarian demanded. He laughed caustically. ‘Oh, He was really being charitable to us when He gave us pain! Why couldn’t He have used a doorbell instead to notify us, or one of His celestial choirs? Or a system of blue-and-red neon tubes right in the middle of each person’s forehead. Any jukebox manufacturer worth his salt could have done that. Why couldn’t He?’
   ‘People would certainly look silly walking around with red neon tubes in the middle of their foreheads.’
   ‘They certainly look beautiful now writhing in agony or stupefied with morphine, don’t they? What a colossal, immortal blunderer! When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering. It’s obvious He never met a payroll. Why, no self-respecting businessman would hire a bungler like Him as even a shipping clerk!’ Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife had turned ashen in disbelief and was ogling him with alarm. ‘You’d better not talk that way about Him, honey,’ she warned him reprovingly in a low and hostile voice. ‘He might punish you.’
   ‘Isn’t He punishing me enough?’ Yossarian snorted resentfully. ‘You know, we mustn’t let Him get away with it. Oh, no, we certainly mustn’t let Him get away scot free for all the sorrow He’s caused us. Someday I’m going to make Him pay. I know when. On the Judgment Day. Yes, That’s the day I’ll be close enough to reach out and grab that little yokel by His neck and—’
   ‘Stop it! Stop it!’ Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife screamed suddenly, and began beating him ineffectually about the head with both fists. ‘Stop it!’ Yossarian ducked behind his arm for protection while she slammed away at him in feminine fury for a few seconds, and then he caught her determinedly by the wrists and forced her gently back down on the bed. ‘What the hell are you getting so upset about?’ he asked her bewilderedly in a tone of contrite amusement. ‘I thought you didn’t believe in God.’
   ‘I don’t,’ she sobbed, bursting violently into tears. ‘But the God I don’t believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He’s not the mean and stupid God you make Him out to be.’ Yossarian laughed and turned her arms loose. ‘Let’s have a little more religious freedom between us,’ he proposed obligingly. ‘You don’t believe in the God you want to, and I won’t believe in the God I want to. Is that a deal?’ That was the most illogical Thanksgiving he could ever remember spending, and his thoughts returned wishfully to his halcyon fourteen-day quarantine in the hospital the year before; but even that idyll had ended on a tragic note; he was still in good health when the quarantine period was over, and they told him again that he had to get out and go to war. Yossarian sat up in bed when he heard the bad news and shouted.
   ‘I see everything twice!’ Pandemonium broke loose in the ward again. The specialists came running up from all directions and ringed him in a circle of scrutiny so confining that he could feel the humid breath from their various noses blowing uncomfortably upon the different sectors of his body. They went snooping into his eyes and ears with tiny beams of light, assaulted his legs and feet with rubber hammers and vibrating forks, drew blood from his veins, held anything handy up for him to see on the periphery of his vision.
   The leader of this team of doctors was a dignified, solicitous gentleman who held one finger up directly in front ofYossarian and demanded, ‘How many fingers do you see?’
   ‘Two,’ said Yossarian.
   ‘How many fingers do you see now?’ asked the doctor, holding up two.
   ‘Two,’ said Yossarian.
   ‘And how many now?’ asked the doctor, holding up none.
   ‘Two,’ said Yossarian.
   The doctor’s face wreathed with a smile. ‘By Jove, he’s right,’ he declared jubilantly. ‘He does see everything twice.’ They rolled Yossarian away on a stretcher into the room with the other soldier who saw everything twice and quarantined everyone else in the ward for another fourteen days.
   ‘I see everything twice!’ the soldier who saw everything twice shouted when they rolled Yossarian in.
   ‘I see everything twice!’ Yossarian shouted back at him just as loudly, with a secret wink.
   ‘The walls! The walls!’ the other soldier cried. ‘Move back the walls!’
   ‘The walls! The walls!’ Yossarian cried. ‘Move back the walls!’ One of the doctors pretended to shove the wall back. ‘Is that far enough?’ The soldier who saw everything twice nodded weakly and sank back on his bed. Yossarian nodded weakly too, eying his talented roommate with great humility and admiration. He knew he was in the presence of a master. His talented roommate was obviously a person to be studied and emulated. During the night, his talented roommate died, and Yossarian decided that he had followed him far enough.
   ‘I see everything once!’ he cried quickly.
   A new group of specialists came pounding up to his bedside with their instruments to find out if it was true.
   ‘How many fingers do you see?’ asked the leader, holding up one.
   ‘One.’ The doctor held up two fingers. ‘How many fingers do you see now?’
   ‘One.’ The doctor held up ten fingers. ‘And how many now?’
   ‘One.’ The doctor turned to the other doctors with amazement. ‘He does see everything once!’ he exclaimed. ‘We made him all better.’
   ‘And just in time, too,’ announced the doctor with whom Yossarian next found himself alone, a tall, torpedo-shaped congenial man with an unshaven growth of brown beard and a pack of cigarettes in his shirt pocket that he chain-smoked insouciantly as he leaned against the wall. ‘There are some relatives here to see you. Oh, don’t worry,’ he added with a laugh. ‘Not your relatives. It’s the mother, father and brother of that chap who died. They’ve traveled all the way from New York to see a dying soldier, and you’re the handiest one we’ve got.’
   ‘What are you talking about?’ Yossarian asked suspiciously. ‘I’m not dying.’
   ‘Of course you’re dying. We’re all dying. Where the devil else do you think you’re heading?’
   ‘They didn’t come to see me,’ Yossarian objected. ‘They came to see their son.’
   ‘They’ll have to take what they can get. As far as we’re concerned, one dying boy is just as good as any other, or just as bad. To a scientist, all dying boys are equal. I have a proposition for you. You let them come in and look you over for a few minutes and I won’t tell anyone you’ve been lying about your liver symptoms.’ Yossarian drew back from him farther. ‘You know about that?’
   ‘Of course I do. Give us some credit.’ The doctor chuckled amiably and lit another cigarette. ‘How do you expect anyone to believe you have a liver condition if you keep squeezing the nurses’ tits every time you get a chance? You’re going to have to give up sex if you want to convince people you’ve got an ailing liver.’
   ‘That’s a hell of a price to pay just to keep alive. Why didn’t you turn me in if you knew I was faking?’
   ‘Why the devil should I?’ asked the doctor with a flicker of surprise. ‘We’re all in this business of illusion together. I’m always willing to lend a helping hand to a fellow conspirator along the road to survival if he’s willing to do the same for me. These people have come a long way, and I’d rather not disappoint them. I’m sentimental about old people.’
   ‘But they came to see their son.’
   ‘They came too late. Maybe they won’t even notice the difference.’
   ‘Suppose they start crying.’
   ‘They probably will start crying. That’s one of the reasons they came. I’ll listen outside the door and break it up if it starts getting tacky.’
   ‘It all sounds a bit crazy,’ Yossarian reflected. ‘What do they want to watch their son die for, anyway?’
   ‘I’ve never been able to figure that one out,’ the doctor admitted, ‘but they always do. Well, what do you say? All you’ve got to do is lie there a few minutes and die a little. Is that asking so much?’
   ‘All right,’ Yossarian gave in. ‘If it’s just for a few minutes and you promise to wait right outside.’ He warmed to his role. ‘Say, why don’t you wrap a bandage around me for effect?’
   ‘That sounds like a splendid idea,’ applauded the doctor.
   They wrapped a batch of bandages around Yossarian. A team of medical orderlies installed tan shades on each of the two windows and lowered them to douse the room in depressing shadows. Yossarian suggested flowers and the doctor sent an orderly out to find two small bunches of fading ones with a strong and sickening smell. When everything was in place, they made Yossarian get back into bed and lie down. Then they admitted the visitors.
   The visitors entered uncertainly as though they felt they were intruding, tiptoeing in with stares of meek apology, first the grieving mother and father, then the brother, a glowering heavy-set sailor with a deep chest. The man and woman stepped into the room stify side by side as though right out of a familiar, though esoteric, anniversary daguerreotype on a wall. They were both short, sere and proud. They seemed made of iron and old, dark clothing. The woman had a long, brooding oval face of burnt umber, with coarse graying black hair parted severely in the middle and combed back austerely behind her neck without curl, wave or ornamentation. Her mouth was sullen and sad, her lined lips compressed. The father stood very rigid and quaint in a double-breasted suit with padded shoulders that were much too tight for him. He was broad and muscular on a small scale and had a magnificently curled silver mustache on his crinkled face. His eyes were creased and rheumy, and he appeared tragically ill at ease as he stood awkwardly with the brim of his black felt fedora held in his two brawny laborer’s hands out in front of his wide lapels. Poverty and hard work had inflicted iniquitous damage on both. The brother was looking for a fight. His round white cap was cocked at an insolent tilt, his hands were clenched, and he glared at everything in the room with a scowl of injured truculence.
   The three creaked forward timidly, holding themselves close to each other in a stealthy, funereal group and inching forward almost in step, until they arrived at the side of the bed and stood staring down at Yossarian. There was a gruesome and excruciating silence that threatened to endure forever. Finally Yossarian was unable to bear it any longer and cleared his throat. The old man spoke at last.
   ‘He looks terrible,’ he said.
   ‘He’s sick, Pa.’
   ‘Giuseppe,’ said the mother, who had seated herself in a chair with her veinous fingers clasped in her lap.
   ‘My name is Yossarian,’ Yossarian said.
   ‘His name is Yossarian, Ma. Yossarian, don’t you recognize me? I’m your brother John. Don’t you know who I am?’
   ‘Sure I do. You’re my brother John.’
   ‘He does recognize me! Pa, he knows who I am. Yossarian, here’s Papa. Say hello to Papa.’
   ‘Hello, Papa,’ said Yossarian.
   ‘Hello, Giuseppe.’
   ‘His name is Yossarian, Pa.’
   ‘I can’t get over how terrible he looks,’ the father said.
   ‘He’s very sick, Pa. The doctor says he’s going to die.’
   ‘I didn’t know whether to believe the doctor or not,’ the father said. ‘You know how crooked those guys are.’
   ‘Giuseppe,’ the mother said again, in a soft, broken chord of muted anguish.
   ‘His name is Yossarian, Ma. She don’t remember things too good any more. How’re they treating you in here, kid? They treating you pretty good?’
   ‘Pretty good,’ Yossarian told him.
   ‘That’s good. Just don’t let anybody in here push you around. You’re just as good as anybody else in here even though you are Italian. You’ve got rights, too.’ Yossarian winced and closed his eyes so that he would not have to look at his brother John. He began to feel sick.
   ‘Now see how terrible he looks,’ the father observed.
   ‘Giuseppe,’ the mother said.
   ‘Ma, his name is Yossarian,’ the brother interrupted her impatiently. ‘Can’t you remember?’
   ‘It’s all right,’ Yossarian interrupted him. ‘She can call me Giuseppe if she wants to.’
   ‘Giuseppe,’ she said to him.
   ‘Don’t worry, Yossarian,’ the brother said. ‘Everything is going to be all right.’
   ‘Don’t worry, Ma,’ Yossarian said. ‘Everything is going to be all right.’
   ‘Did you have a priest?’ the brother wanted to know.
   ‘Yes,’ Yossarian lied, wincing again.
   ‘That’s good,’ the brother decided. ‘Just as long as you’re getting everything you’ve got coming to you. We came all the way from New York. We were afraid we wouldn’t get here in time.’
   ‘In time for what?’
   ‘In time to see you before you died.’
   ‘What difference would it make?’
   ‘We didn’t want you to die by yourself.’
   ‘What difference would it make?’
   ‘He must be getting delirious,’ the brother said. ‘He keeps saying the same thing over and over again.’
   ‘That’s really very funny,’ the old man replied. ‘All the time I thought his name was Giuseppe, and now I find out his name is Yossarian. That’s really very funny.’
   ‘Ma, make him feel good,’ the brother urged. ‘Say something to cheer him up.’
   ‘Giuseppe.’
   ‘It’s not Giuseppe, Ma. It’s Yossarian.’
   ‘What difference does it make?’ the mother answered in the same mourning tone, without looking up. ‘He’s dying.’ Her tumid eyes filled with tears and she began to cry, rocking back and forth slowly in her chair with her hands lying in her lap like fallen moths. Yossarian was afraid she would start wailing. The father and brother began crying also. Yossarian remembered suddenly why they were all crying, and he began crying too. A doctor Yossarian had never seen before stepped inside the room and told the visitors courteously that they had to go. The father drew himself up formally to say goodbye.
   ‘Giuseppe,’ he began.
   ‘Yossarian,’ corrected the son.
   ‘Yossarian,’ said the father.
   ‘Giuseppe,’ corrected Yossarian.
   ‘Soon you’re going to die.’ Yossarian began to cry again. The doctor threw him a dirty look from the rear of the room, and Yossarian made himself stop.
   The father continued solemnly with his head lowered. ‘When you talk to the man upstairs,’ he said, ‘I want you to tell Him something for me. Tell Him it ain’t right for people to die when they’re young. I mean it. Tell Him if they got to die at all, they got to die when they’re old. I want you to tell Him that. I don’t think He knows it ain’t right, because He’s supposed to be good and it’s been going on for a long, long time. Okay?’
   ‘And don’t let anybody up there push you around,’ the brother advised. ‘You’ll be just as good as anybody else in heaven, even though you are Italian.’
   ‘Dress warm,’ said the mother, who seemed to know.
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Colonel Cathcart

   Colonel Cathcart was a slick, successful, slipshod, unhappy man of thirty-six who lumbered when he walked and wanted to be a general. He was dashing and dejected, poised and chagrined. He was complacent and insecure, daring in the administrative stratagems he employed to bring himself to the attention of his superiors and craven in his concern that his schemes might all backfire. He was handsome and unattractive, a swashbuckling, beefy, conceited man who was putting on fat and was tormented chronically by prolonged seizures of apprehension. Colonel Cathcart was conceited because he was a full colonel with a combat command at the age of only thirty-six; and Colonel Cathcart was dejected because although he was already thirty-six he was still only a full colonel.
   Colonel Cathcart was impervious to absolutes. He could measure his own progress only in relationship to others, and his idea of excellence was to do something at least as well as all the men his own age who were doing the same thing even better. The fact that there were thousands of men his own age and older who had not even attained the rank of major enlivened him with foppish delight in his own remarkable worth; on the other hand, the fact that there were men of his own age and younger who were already generals contaminated him with an agonizing sense of failure and made him gnaw at his fingernails with an unappeasable anxiety that was even more intense than Hungry Joe’s.
   Colonel Cathcart was a very large, pouting, broadshouldered man with close-cropped curly dark hair that was graying at the tips and an ornate cigarette holder that he purchased the day before he arrived in Pianosa to take command of his group. He displayed the cigarette holder grandly on every occasion and had learned to manipulate it adroitly. Unwittingly, he had discovered deep within himself a fertile aptitude for smoking with a cigarette holder. As far as he could tell, his was the only cigarette holder in the whole Mediterranean theater of operations, and the thought was both flattering and disquieting. He had no doubts at all that someone as debonair and intellectual as General Peckem approved of his smoking with a cigarette holder, even though the two were in each other’s presence rather seldom, which in a way was very lucky, Colonel Cathcart recognized with relief, since General Peckem might not have approved of his cigarette holder at all. When such misgivings assailed Colonel Cathcart, he choked back a sob and wanted to throw the damned thing away, but he was restrained by his unswerving conviction that the cigarette holder never failed to embellish his masculine, martial physique with a high gloss of sophisticated heroism that illuminated him to dazzling advantage among all the other full colonels in the American Army with whom he was in competition. Although how could he be sure?
   Colonel Cathcart was indefatigable that way, an industrious, intense, dedicated military tactician who calculated day and night in the service of himself. He was his own sarcophagus, a bold and infallible diplomat who was always berating himself disgustedly for all the chances he had missed and kicking himself regretfully for all the errors he had made. He was tense, irritable, bitter and smug. He was a valorous opportunist who pounced hoggishly upon every opportunity Colonel Korn discovered for him and trembled in damp despair immediately afterward at the possible consequences he might suffer. He collected rumors greedily and treasured gossip. He believed all the news he heard and had faith in none. He was on the alert constantly for every signal, shrewdly sensitive to relationships and situations that did not exist. He was someone in the know who was always striving pathetically to find out what was going on. He was a blustering, intrepid bully who brooded inconsolably over the terrible ineradicable impressions he knew he kept making on people of prominence who were scarcely aware that he was even alive.
   Everybody was persecuting him. Colonel Cathcart lived by his wits in an unstable, arithmetical world of black eyes and feathers in his cap, of overwhelming imaginary triumphs and catastrophic imaginary defeats. He oscillated hourly between anguish and exhilaration, multiplying fantastically the grandeur of his victories and exaggerating tragically the seriousness of his defeats. Nobody ever caught him napping. If word reached him that General Dreedle or General Peckem had been seen smiling, frowning, or doing neither, he could not make himself rest until he had found an acceptable interpretation and grumbled mulishly until Colonel Korn persuaded him to relax and take things easy.
   Lieutenant Colonel Korn was a loyal, indispensable ally who got on Colonel Cathcart’s nerves. Colonel Cathcart pledged eternal gratitude to Colonel Korn for the ingenious moves he devised and was furious with him afterward when he realized they might not work. Colonel Cathcart was greatly indebted to Colonel Korn and did not like him at all. The two were very close. Colonel Cathcart was jealous of Colonel Korn’s intelligence and had to remind himself often that Colonel Korn was still only a lieutenant colonel, even though he was almost ten years older than Colonel Cathcart, and that Colonel Korn had obtained his education at a state university. Colonel Cathcart bewailed the miserable fate that had given him for an invaluable assistant someone as common as Colonel Korn. It was degrading to have to depend so thoroughly on a person who had been educated at a state university. If someone did have to become indispensable to him, Colonel Cathcart lamented, it could just as easily have been someone wealthy and well groomed, someone from a better family who was more mature than Colonel Korn and who did not treat Colonel Cathcart’s desire to become a general as frivolously as Colonel Cathcart secretly suspected Colonel Korn secretly did.
   Colonel Cathcart wanted to be a general so desperately he was willing to try anything, even religion, and he summoned the chaplain to his office late one morning the week after he had raised the number of missions to sixty and pointed abruptly down toward his desk to his copy of The Saturday Evening Post. The colonel wore his khaki shirt collar wide open, exposing a shadow of tough black bristles of beard on his egg-white neck, and had a spongy hanging underlip. He was a person who never tanned, and he kept out of the sun as much as possible to avoid burning. The colonel was more than a head taller than the chaplain and over twice as broad, and his swollen, overbearing authority made the chaplain feel frail and sickly by contrast.
   ‘Take a look, Chaplain,’ Colonel Cathcart directed, screwing a cigarette into his holder and seating himself affluently in the swivel chair behind his desk. ‘Let me know what you think.’ The chaplain looked down at the open magazine compliantly and saw an editorial spread dealing with an American bomber group in England whose chaplain said prayers in the briefing room before each mission. The chaplain almost wept with happiness when he realized the colonel was not going to holler at him. The two had hardly spoken since the tumultuous evening Colonel Cathcart had thrown him out of the officers’ club at General Dreedle’s bidding after Chief White Halfoat had punched Colonel Moodus in the nose. The chaplain’s initial fear had been that the colonel intended reprimanding him for having gone back into the officers’ club without permission the evening before. He had gone there with Yossarian and Dunbar after the two had come unexpectedly to his tent in the clearing in the woods to ask him to join them. Intimidated as he was by Colonel Cathcart, he nevertheless found it easier to brave his displeasure than to decline the thoughtful invitation of his two new friends, whom he had met on one of his hospital visits just a few weeks before and who had worked so effectively to insulate him against the myriad social vicissitudes involved in his official duty to live on closest terms of familiarity with more than nine hundred unfamiliar officers and enlisted men who thought him an odd duck.
   The chaplain glued his eyes to the pages of the magazine. He studied each photograph twice and read the captions intently as he organized his response to the colonel’s question into a grammatically complete sentence that he rehearsed and reorganized in his mind a considerable number of times before he was able finally to muster the courage to reply.
   ‘I think that saying prayers before each mission is a very moral and highly laudatory procedure, sir,’ he offered timidly, and waited.
   ‘Yeah,’ said the colonel. ‘But I want to know if you think they’ll work here.’
   ‘Yes, sir,’ answered the chaplain after a few moments. ‘I should think they would.’
   ‘Then I’d like to give it a try.’ The colonel’s ponderous, farinaceous cheeks were tinted suddenly with glowing patches of enthusiasm. He rose to his feet and began walking around excitedly. ‘Look how much good they’ve done for these people in England. Here’s a picture of a colonel in The Saturday Evening Post whose chaplain conducts prayers before each mission. If the prayers work for him, they should work for us. Maybe if we say prayers, they’ll put my picture in The Saturday Evening Post.’ The colonel sat down again and smiled distantly in lavish contemplation. The chaplain had no hint of what he was expected to say next. With a pensive expression on his oblong, rather pale face, he allowed his gaze to settle on several of the high bushels filled with red plum tomatoes that stood in rows against each of the walls. He pretended to concentrate on a reply. After a while he realized that he was staring at rows and rows of bushels of red plum tomatoes and grew so intrigued by the question of what bushels brimming with red plum tomatoes were doing in a group commander’s office that he forgot completely about the discussion of prayer meetings until Colonel Cathcart, in a genial digression, inquired: ‘Would you like to buy some, Chaplain? They come right off the farm Colonel Korn and I have up in the hills. I can let you have a bushel wholesale.’
   ‘Oh, no, sir. I don’t think so.’
   ‘That’s quite all right,’ the colonel assured him liberally. ‘You don’t have to. Milo is glad to snap up all we can produce. These were picked only yesterday. Notice how firm and ripe they are, like a young girl’s breasts.’ The chaplain blushed, and the colonel understood at once that he had made a mistake. He lowered his head in shame, his cumbersome face burning. His fingers felt gross and unwieldy. He hated the chaplain venomously for being a chaplain and making a coarse blunder out of an observation that in any other circumstances, he knew, would have been considered witty and urbane. He tried miserably to recall some means of extricating them both from their devastating embarrassment. He recalled instead that the chaplain was only a captain, and he straightened at once with a shocked and outraged gasp. His cheeks grew tight with fury at the thought that he had just been duped into humiliation by a man who was almost the same age as he was and still only a captain, and he swung upon the chaplain avengingly with a look of such murderous antagonism that the chaplain began to tremble. The colonel punished him sadistically with a long, glowering, malignant, hateful, silent stare.
   ‘We were speaking about something else,’ he reminded the chaplain cuttingly at last. ‘We were not speaking about the firm, ripe breasts of beautiful young girls but about something else entirely. We were speaking about conducting religious services in the briefing room before each mission. Is there any reason why we can’t?’
   ‘No, sir,’ the chaplain mumbled.
   ‘Then we’ll begin with this afternoon’s mission.’ The colonel’s hostility softened gradually as he applied himself to details. ‘Now, I want you to give a lot of thought to the kind of prayers we’re going to say. I don’t want anything heavy or sad. I’d like you to keep it light and snappy, something that will send the boys out feeling pretty good. Do you know what I mean? I don’t want any of this Kingdom of God or Valley of Death stuff. That’s all too negative. What are you making such a sour face for?’
   ‘I’m sorry, sir,’ the chaplain stammered. ‘I happened to be thinking of the Twenty-third Psalm just as you said that.’
   ‘How does that one go?’
   ‘That’s the one you were just referring to, sir. "The Lord is my shepherd; I —" ‘
   ‘That’s the one I was just referring to. It’s out. What else have you got?’
   ‘ "Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto &mash;" ‘
   ‘No waters,’ the colonel decided, blowing ruggedly into his cigarette holder after flipping the butt down into his combed-brass ash tray. ‘Why don’t we try something musical? How about the harps on the willows?’
   ‘That has the rivers of Babylon in it, sir,’ the chaplain replied. ‘ "…there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." ‘
   ‘ Zion? Let’s forget about that one right now. I’d like to know how that one even got in there. Haven’t you got anything humorous that stays away from waters and valleys and God? I’d like to keep away from the subject of religion altogether if we can.’ The chaplain was apologetic. ‘I’m sorry, sir, but just about all the prayers I know are rather somber in tone and make at least some passing reference to God.’
   ‘Then let’s get some new ones. The men are already doing enough bitching about the missions I send them on without our rubbing it in with any sermons about God or death or Paradise. Why can’t we take a more positive approach? Why can’t we all pray for something good, like a tighter bomb pattern, for example? Couldn’t we pray for a tighter bomb pattern?’
   ‘Well, yes, sir, I suppose so,’ the chaplain answered hesitantly. ‘You wouldn’t even need me if that’s all you wanted to do. You could do that yourself.’
   ‘I know I could,’ the colonel responded tartly. ‘But what do you think you’re here for? I could shop for my own food, too, but that’s Milo’s job, and that’s why he’s doing it for every group in the area. Your job is to lead us in prayer, and from now on you’re going to lead us in a prayer for a tighter bomb pattern before every mission. Is that clear? I think a tighter bomb pattern is something really worth praying for. It will be a feather in all our caps with General Peckem. General Peckem feels it makes a much nicer aerial photograph when the bombs explode close together.’
   ‘General Peckem, sir?’
   ‘That’s right, Chaplain,’ the colonel replied, chuckling paternally at the chaplain’s look of puzzlement. ‘I wouldn’t want this to get around, but it looks like General Dreedle is finally on the way out and that General Peckem is slated to replace him. Frankly, I’m not going to be sorry to see that happen. General Peckem is a very good man, and I think we’ll all be much better off under him. On the other hand, it might never take place, and we’d still remain under General Dreedle. Frankly, I wouldn’t be sorry to see that happen either, because General Dreedle is another very good man, and I think we’ll all be much better off under him too. I hope you’re going to keep all this under your hat, Chaplain. I wouldn’t want either one to get the idea I was throwing my support on the side of the other.’
   ‘Yes, sir.’
   ‘That’s good,’ the colonel exclaimed, and stood up jovially. ‘But all this gossip isn’t getting us into The Saturday Evening Post, eh, Chaplain? Let’s see what kind of procedure we can evolve. Incidentally, Chaplain, not a word about this beforehand to Colonel Korn. Understand?’
   ‘Yes, sir.’ Colonel Cathcart began tramping back and forth reflectively in the narrow corridors left between his bushels of plum tomatoes and the desk and wooden chairs in the center of the room. ‘I suppose we’ll have to keep you waiting outside until the briefing is over, because all that information is classified. We can slip you in while Major Danby is synchronizing the watches. I don’t think there’s anything secret about the right time. We’ll allocate about a minute and a half for you in the schedule. Will a minute and a half be enough?’
   ‘Yes, sir. If it doesn’t include the time necessary to excuse the atheists from the room and admit the enlisted men.’ Colonel Cathcart stopped in his tracks. ‘What atheists?’ he bellowed defensively, his whole manner changing in a flash to one of virtuous and belligerent denial. ‘There are no atheists in my outfit! Atheism is against the law, isn’t it?’
   ‘No, sir.’
   ‘It isn’t?’ The colonel was surprised. ‘Then it’s un-American, isn’t it?’
   ‘I’m not sure, sir,’ answered the chaplain.
   ‘Well, I am!’ the colonel declared. ‘I’m not going to disrupt our religious services just to accommodate a bunch of lousy atheists. They’re getting no special privileges fiom me. They can stay right where they are and pray with the rest of us. And what’s all this about enlisted men? Just how the hell do they get into this act?’ The chaplain felt his face flush. ‘I’m sorry, sir. I just assumed you would want the enlisted men to be present, since they would be going along on the same mission.’
   ‘Well, I don’t. They’ve got a God and a chaplain of their own, haven’t they?’
   ‘No, sir.’
   ‘What are you talking about? You mean they pray to the same God we do?’
   ‘Yes, sir.’
   ‘And He listens?’
   ‘I think so, sir.’
   ‘Well, I’ll be damned,’ remarked the colonel, and he snorted to himself in quizzical amusement. His spirits drooped suddenly a moment later, and he ran his hand nervously over his short, black, graying curls. ‘Do you really think it’s a good idea to let the enlisted men in?’ he asked with concern.
   ‘I should think it only proper, sir.’
   ‘I’d like to keep them out,’ confided the colonel, and began cracking his knuckles savagely as he wandered back and forth. ‘Oh, don’t get me wrong, Chaplain. It isn’t that I think the enlisted men are dirty, common and inferior. It’s that we just don’t have enough room. Frankly, though, I’d just as soon the officers and enlisted men didn’t fraternize in the briefing room. They see enough of each other during the mission, it seems to me. Some of my very best friends are enlisted men, you understand, but that’s about as close as I care to let them come. Honestly now, Chaplain, you wouldn’t want your sister to marry an enlisted man, would you?’
   ‘My sister is an enlisted man, sir,’ the chaplain replied.
   The colonel stopped in his tracks again and eyed the chaplain sharply to make certain he was not being ridiculed. ‘Just what do you mean by that remark, Chaplain? Are you trying to be funny?’
   ‘Oh, no, sir,’ the chaplain hastened to explain with a look of excruciating discomfort. ‘She’s a master sergeant in the Marines.’ The colonel had never liked the chaplain and now he loathed and distrusted him. He experienced a keen premonition of danger and wondered if the chaplain too were plotting against him, if the chaplain’s reticent, unimpressive manner were really just a sinister disguise masking a fiery ambition that, way down deep, was crafty and unscrupulous. There was something funny about the chaplain, and the colonel soon detected what it was. The chaplain was standing stiffly at attention, for the colonel had forgotten to put him at ease. Let him stay that way, the colonel decided vindictively, just to show him who was boss and to safeguard himself against any loss of dignity that might devolve from his acknowledging the omission.
   Colonel Cathcart was drawn hypnotically toward the window with a massive, dull stare of moody introspection. The enlisted men were always treacherous, he decided. He looked downward in mournful gloom at the skeet-shooting range he had ordered built for the officers on his headquarters staff, and he recalled the mortifying afternoon General Dreedle had tongue-lashed him ruthlessly in front of Colonel Korn and Major Danby and ordered him to throw open the range to all the enlisted men and officers on combat duty. The skeet-shooting range had been a real black eye for him, Colonel Cathcart was forced to conclude. He was positive that General Dreedle had never forgotten it, even though he was positive that General Dreedle didn’t even remember it, which was really very unjust, Colonel Cathcart lamented, since the idea of a skeet-shooting range itself should have been a real feather in his cap, even though it had been such a real black eye. Colonel Cathcart was helpless to assess exactly how much ground he had gained or lost with his goddam skeet-shooting range and wished that Colonel Korn were in his office right then to evaluate the entire episode for him still one more time and assuage his fears.
   It was all very perplexing, all very discouraging. Colonel Cathcart took the cigarette holder out of his mouth, stood it on end inside the pocket of his shirt, and began gnawing on the fingernails of both hands grievously. Everybody was against him, and he was sick to his soul that Colonel Korn was not with him in this moment of crisis to help him decide what to do about the prayer meetings. He had almost no faith at all in the chaplain, who was still only a captain. ‘Do you think,’ he asked, ‘that keeping the enlisted men out might interfere with our chances of getting results?’ The chaplain hesitated, feeling himself on unfamiliar ground again. ‘Yes, sir,’ he replied finally. ‘I think it’s conceivable that such an action could interfere with your chances of having the prayers for a tighter bomb pattern answered.’
   ‘I wasn’t even thinking about that!’ cried the colonel, with his eyes blinking and splashing like puddles. ‘You mean that God might even decide to punish me by giving us a looser bomb pattern?’
   ‘Yes, sir,’ said the chaplain. ‘It’s conceivable He might.’
   ‘The hell with it, then,’ the colonel asserted in a huff of independence. ‘I’m not going to set these damned prayer meetings up just to make things worse than they are.’ With a scornful snicker, he settled himself behind his desk, replaced the empty cigarette holder in his mouth and lapsed into parturient silence for a few moments. ‘Now I think about it,’ he confessed, as much to himself as to the chaplain, ‘having the men pray to God probably wasn’t such a hot idea anyway. The editors of The Saturday Evening Post might not have co-operated.’ The colonel abandoned his project with remorse, for he had conceived it entirely on his own and had hoped to unveil it as a striking demonstration to everyone that he had no real need for Colonel Korn. Once it was gone, he was glad to be rid of it, for he had been troubled from the start by the danger of instituting the plan without first checking it out with Colonel Korn. He heaved an immense sigh of contentment. He had a much higher opinion of himself now that his idea was abandoned, for he had made a very wise decision, he felt, and, most important, he had made this wise decision without consulting Colonel Korn.
   ‘Will that be all, sir?’ asked the chaplain.
   ‘Yeah,’ said Colonel Cathcart. ‘Unless you’ve got something else to suggest.’
   ‘No, sir. Only…’ The colonel lifted his eyes as though affronted and studied the chaplain with aloof distrust. ‘Only what, Chaplain?’
   ‘Sir,’ said the chaplain, ‘some of the men are very upset since you raised the number of missions to sixty. They’ve asked me to speak to you about it.’ The colonel was silent. The chaplain’s face reddened to the roots of his sandy hair as he waited. The colonel kept him squirming a long time with a fixed, uninterested look devoid of all emotion.
   ‘Tell them there’s a war going on,’ he advised finally in a flat voice.
   ‘Thank you, sir, I will,’ the chaplain replied in a flood of gratitude because the colonel had finally said something. ‘They were wondering why you couldn’t requisition some of the replacement crews that are waiting in Africa to take their places and then let them go home.’
   ‘That’s an administrative matter,’ the colonel said. ‘It’s none of their business.’ He pointed languidly toward the wall. ‘Help yourself to a plum tomato, Chaplain. Go ahead, it’s on me.’
   ‘Thank you, sir. Sir—’
   ‘Don’t mention it. How do you like living out there in the woods, Chaplain? Is everything hunky dory?’
   ‘Yes, sir.’
   ‘That’s good. You get in touch with us if you need anything.’
   ‘Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Sir—’
   ‘Thanks for dropping around, Chaplain. I’ve got some work to do now. You’ll let me know if you can think of anything for getting our names into The Saturday Evening Post, won’t you?’
   ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ The chaplain braced himself with a prodigious effort of the will and plunged ahead brazenly. ‘I’m particularly concerned about the condition of one of the bombardiers, sir. Yossarian.’ The colonel glanced up quickly with a start of vague recognition. ‘Who?’ he asked in alarm.
   ‘Yossarian, sir.’
   ‘Yossarian?’
   ‘Yes, sir. Yossarian. He’s in a very bad way, sir. I’m afraid he won’t be able to suffer much longer without doing something desperate.’
   ‘Is that a fact, Chaplain?’
   ‘Yes, sir. I’m afraid it is.’ The colonel thought about it in heavy silence for a few moments. ‘Tell him to trust in God,’ he advised finally.
   ‘Thank you, sir,’ said the chaplain. ‘I will.’
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