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

   The late-August morning sun was hot and steamy, and there was no breeze on the balcony. The chaplain moved slowly. He was downcast and burdened with self-reproach when he stepped without noise from the colonel’s office on his rubber-soled and rubber-heeled brown shoes. He hated himself for what he construed to be his own cowardice. He had intended to take a much stronger stand with Colonel Cathcart on the matter of the sixty missions, to speak out with courage, logic and eloquence on a subject about which he had begun to feel very deeply. Instead he had failed miserably, had choked up once again in the face of opposition from a stronger personality. It was a familiar, ignominious experience, and his opinion of himself was low.
   He choked up even more a second later when he spied Colonel Korn’s tubby monochrome figure trotting up the curved, wide, yellow stone staircase toward him in lackadaisical haste from the great dilapidated lobby below with its lofty walls of cracked dark marble and circular floor of cracked grimy tile. The chaplain was even more frightened of Colonel Korn than he was of Colonel Cathcart. The swarthy, middle-aged lieutenant colonel with the rimless, icy glasses and faceted, bald, domelike pate that he was always touching sensitively with the tips of his splayed fingers disliked the chaplain and was impolite to him frequently. He kept the chaplain in a constant state of terror with his curt, derisive tongue and his knowing, cynical eyes that the chaplain was never brave enough to meet for more than an accidental second. Inevitably, the chaplain’s attention, as he cowered meekly before him, focused on Colonel Korn’s midriff, where the shirttails bunching up from inside his sagging belt and ballooning down over his waist gave him an appearance of slovenly girth and made him seem inches shorter than his middle height. Colonel Korn was an untidy disdainful man with an oily skin and deep, hard lines running almost straight down from his nose between his crepuscular jowls and his square, clefted chin. His face was dour, and he glanced at the chaplain without recognition as the two drew close on the staircase and prepared to pass.
   ‘Hiya, Father,’ he said tonelessly without looking at the chaplain. ‘How’s it going?’
   ‘Good morning, sir,’ the chaplain replied, discerning wisely that Colonel Korn expected nothing more in the way of a response.
   Colonel Korn was proceeding up the stairs without slackening his pace, and the chaplain resisted the temptation to remind him again that he was not a Catholic but an Anabaptist, and that it was therefore neither necessary nor correct to address him as Father. He was almost certain now that Colonel Korn remembered and that calling him Father with a look of such bland innocence was just another one of Colonel Korn’s methods of taunting him because he was only an Anabaptist.
   Colonel Korn halted without warning when he was almost by and came whirling back down upon the chaplain with a glare of infuriated suspicion. The chaplain was petrified.
   ‘What are you doing with that plum tomato, Chaplain?’ Colonel Korn demanded roughly.
   The chaplain looked down his arm with surprise at the plum tomato Colonel Cathcart had invited him to take. ‘I got it in Colonel Cathcart’s office, sir,’ he managed to reply.
   ‘Does the colonel know you took it?’
   ‘Yes, sir. He gave it to me.’
   ‘Oh, in that case I guess it’s okay,’ Colonel Korn said, mollified. He smiled without warmth, jabbing the crumpled folds of his shirt back down inside his trousers with his thumbs. His eyes glinted keenly with a private and satisfying mischief. ‘What did Colonel Cathcart want to see you about, Father?’ he asked suddenly.
   The chaplain was tongue-tied with indecision for a moment. ‘I don’t think I ought—’
   ‘Saying prayers to the editors of The Saturday Evening Post?’ The chaplain almost smiled. ‘Yes, sir.’ Colonel Korn was enchanted with his own intuition. He laughed disparagingly. ‘You know, I was afraid he’d begin thinking about something so ridiculous as soon as he saw this week’s Saturday Evening Post. I hope you succeeded in showing him what an atrocious idea it is.’
   ‘He has decided against it, sir.’
   ‘That’s good. I’m glad you convinced him that the editors of The Saturday Evening Post were not likely to run that same story twice just to give some publicity to some obscure colonel. How are things in the wilderness, Father? Are you able to manage out there?’
   ‘Yes, sir. Everything is working out.’
   ‘That’s good. I’m happy to hear you have nothing to complain about. Let us know if you need anything to make you comfortable. We all want you to have a good time out there.’
   ‘Thank you, sir. I will.’ Noise of a growing stir rose from the lobby below. It was almost lunchtime, and the earliest arrivals were drifting into the headquarters mess halls, the enlisted men and officers separating into different dining halls on facing sides of the archaic rotunda. Colonel Korn stopped smiling.
   ‘You had lunch with us here just a day or so ago, didn’t you, Father?’ he asked meaningfully.
   ‘Yes, sir. The day before yesterday.’
   ‘That’s what I thought,’ Colonel Korn said, and paused to let his point sink in. ‘Well, take it easy, Father. I’ll see you around when it’s time for you to eat here again.’
   ‘Thank you, sir.’ The chaplain was not certain at which of the five officers’ and five enlisted men’s mess halls he was scheduled to have lunch that day, for the system of rotation worked out for him by Colonel Korn was complicated, and he had forgotten his records back in his tent. The chaplain was the only officer attached to Group Headquarters who did not reside in the moldering red-stone Group Headquarters building itself or in any of the smaller satellite structures that rose about the grounds in disjuncted relationship. The chaplain lived in a clearing in the woods about four miles away between the officers’ club and the first of the four squadron areas that stretched away from Group Headquarters in a distant line. The chaplain lived alone in a spacious, square tent that was also his office. Sounds of revelry traveled to him at night from the officers’ club and kept him awake often as he turned and tossed on his cot in passive, half-voluntary exile. He was not able to gauge the effect of the mild pills he took occasionally to help him sleep and felt guilty about it for days afterward.
   The only one who lived with the chaplain in his clearing in the woods was Corporal Whitcomb, his assistant. Corporal Whitcomb, an atheist, was a disgruntled subordinate who felt he could do the chaplain’s job much better than the chaplain was doing it and viewed himself, therefore, as an underprivileged victim of social inequity. He lived in a tent of his own as spacious and square as the chaplain’s. He was openly rude and contemptuous to the chaplain once he discovered that the chaplain would let him get away with it. The borders of the two tents in the clearing stood no more than four or five feet apart.
   It was Colonel Korn who had mapped out this way of life for the chaplain. One good reason for making the chaplain live outside the Group Headquarters building was Colonel Korn’s theory that dwelling in a tent as most of his parishioners did would bring him into closer communication with them. Another good reason was the fact that having the chaplain around Headquarters all the time made the other officers uncomfortable. It was one thing to maintain liaison with the Lord, and they were all in favor of that; it was something else, though, to have Him hanging around twenty-four hours a day. All in all, as Colonel Korn described it to Major Danby, the jittery and goggle-eyed group operations officer, the chaplain had it pretty soft; he had little more to do than listen to the troubles of others, bury the dead, visit the bedridden and conduct religious services. And there were not so many dead for him to bury any more, Colonel Korn pointed out, since opposition from German fighter planes had virtually ceased and since close to ninety per cent of what fatalities there still were, he estimated, perished behind the enemy lines or disappeared inside the clouds, where the chaplain had nothing to do with disposing of the remains. The religious services were certainly no great strain, either, since they were conducted only once a week at the Group Headquarters building and were attended by very few of the men.
   Actually, the chaplain was learning to love it in his clearing in the woods. Both he and Corporal Whitcomb had been provided with every convenience so that neither might ever plead discomfort as a basis for seeking permission to return to the Headquarters building. The chaplain rotated his breakfasts, lunches and dinners in separate sets among the eight squadron mess halls and ate every fifth meal in the enlisted men’s mess at Group Headquarters and every tenth meal at the officers’ mess there. Back home in Wisconsin the chaplain had been very fond of gardening, and his heart welled with a glorious impression of fertility and fruition each time he contemplated the low, prickly boughs of the stunted trees and the waist-high weeds and thickets by which he was almost walled in. In the spring he had longed to plant begonias and zinnias in a narrow bed around his tent but had been deterred by his fear of Corporal Whitcomb’s rancor. The chaplain relished the privacy and isolation of his verdant surroundings and the reverie and meditation that living there fostered. Fewer people came to him with their troubles than formerly, and he allowed himself a measure of gratitude for that too. The chaplain did not mix freely and was not comfortable in conversation. He missed his wife and his three small children, and she missed him.
   What displeased Corporal Whitcomb most about the chaplain, apart from the fact that the chaplain believed in God, was his lack of initiative and aggressiveness. Corporal Whitcomb regarded the low attendance at religious services as a sad reflection of his own status. His mind germinated feverishly with challenging new ideas for sparking the great spiritual revival of which he dreamed himself the architect—box lunches, church socials, form letters to the families of men killed and injured in combat, censorship, Bingo. But the chaplain blocked him. Corporal Whitcomb bridled with vexation beneath the chaplain’s restraint, for he spied room for improvement everywhere. It was people like the chaplain, he concluded, who were responsible for giving religion such a bad name and making pariahs out of them both. Unlike the chaplain, Corporal Whitcomb detested the seclusion of the clearing in the woods. One of the first things he intended to do after he deposed the chaplain was move back into the Group Headquarters building, where he could be right in the thick of things.
   When the chaplain drove back into the clearing after leaving Colonel Korn, Corporal Whitcomb was outside in the muggy haze talking in conspiratorial tones to a strange chubby man in a maroon corduroy bathrobe and gray flannel pajamas. The chaplain recognized the bathrobe and pajamas as official hospital attire. Neither of the two men gave him any sign of recognition. The stranger’s gums had been painted purple; his corduroy bathrobe was decorated in back with a picture of a B-25 nosing through orange bursts of flak and in front with six neat rows of tiny bombs signifying sixty combat missions flown. The chaplain was so struck by the sight that he stopped to stare. Both men broke off their conversation and waited in stony silence for him to go. The chaplain hurried inside his tent. He heard, or imagined he heard, them tittering.
   Corporal Whitcomb walked in a moment later and demanded, ‘What’s doing?’
   ‘There isn’t anything new,’ the chaplain replied with averted eyes. ‘Was anyone here to see me?’
   ‘Just that crackpot Yossarian again. He’s a real troublemaker, isn’t he?’
   ‘I’m not so sure he’s a crackpot,’ the chaplain observed.
   ‘That’s right, take his part,’ said Corporal Whitcomb in an injured tone, and stamped out.
   The chaplain could not believe that Corporal Whitcomb was offended again and had really walked out. As soon as he did realize it, Corporal Whitcomb walked back in.
   ‘You always side with other people,’ Corporal Whitcomb accused. ‘You don’t back up your men. That’s one of the things that’s wrong with you.’
   ‘I didn’t intend to side with him,’ the chaplain apologized. ‘I was just making a statement.’
   ‘What did Colonel Cathcart want?’
   ‘It wasn’t anything important. He just wanted to discuss the possibility of saying prayers in the briefing room before each mission.’
   ‘All right, don’t tell me,’ Corporal Whitcomb snapped and walked out again.
   The chaplain felt terrible. No matter how considerate he tried to be, it seemed he always managed to hurt Corporal Whitcomb’s feelings. He gazed down remorsefully and saw that the orderly forced upon him by Colonel Korn to keep his tent clean and attend to his belongings had neglected to shine his shoes again.
   Corporal Whitcomb came back in. ‘You never trust me with information,’ he whined truculently. ‘You don’t have confidence in your men. That’s another one of the things that’s wrong with you.’
   ‘Yes, I do,’ the chaplain assured him guiltily. ‘I have lots of confidence in you.’
   ‘Then how about those letters?’
   ‘No, not now,’ the chaplain pleaded, cringing. ‘Not the letters. Please don’t bring that up again. I’ll let you know if I have a change of mind.’ Corporal Whitcomb looked furious. ‘Is that so? Well, it’s all right for you to just sit there and shake your head while I do all the work. Didn’t you see the guy outside with all those pictures painted on his bathrobe?’
   ‘Is he here to see me?’
   ‘No,’ Corporal Whitcomb said, and walked out.
   It was hot and humid inside the tent, and the chaplain felt himself turning damp. He listened like an unwilling eavesdropper to the muffled, indistinguishable drone of the lowered voices outside. As he sat inertly at the rickety bridge table that served as a desk, his lips were closed, his eyes were blank, and his face, with its pale ochre hue and ancient, confined clusters of minute acne pits, had the color and texture of an uncracked almond shell. He racked his memory for some clue to the origin of Corporal Whitcomb’s bitterness toward him. In some way he was unable to fathom, he was convinced he had done him some unforgivable wrong. It seemed incredible that such lasting ire as Corporal Whitcomb’s could have stemmed from his rejection of Bingo or the form letters home to the families of the men killed in combat. The chaplain was despondent with an acceptance of his own ineptitude. He had intended for some weeks to have a heart-to-heart talk with Corporal Whitcomb in order to find out what was bothering him, but was already ashamed of what he might find out.
   Outside the tent, Corporal Whitcomb snickered. The other man chuckled. For a few precarious seconds, the chaplain tingled with a weird, occult sensation of having experienced the identical situation before in some prior time or existence. He endeavored to trap and nourish the impression in order to predict, and perhaps even control, what incident would occur next, but the afatus melted away unproductively, as he had known beforehand it would. Déjà vu. The subtle, recurring confusion between illusion and reality that was characteristic of paramnesia fascinated the chaplain, and he knew a number of things about it. He knew, for example, that it was called paramnesia, and he was interested as well in such corollary optical phenomena as jamais vu, never seen, and presque vu, almost seen. There were terrifying, sudden moments when objects, concepts and even people that the chaplain had lived with almost all his life inexplicably took on an unfamiliar and irregular aspect that he had never seen before and which made them totally strange: jamais vu. And there were other moments when he almost saw absolute truth in brilliant flashes of clarity that almost came to him: presque vu. The episode of the naked man in the tree at Snowden’s funeral mystified him thoroughly. It was not déjà vu, for at the time he had experienced no sensation of ever having seen a naked man in a tree at Snowden’s funeral before. It was not jamais vu, since the apparition was not of someone, or something, familiar appearing to him in an unfamiliar guise. And it was certainly not presque vu, for the chaplain did see him.
   A jeep started up with a backfire directly outside and roared away. Had the naked man in the tree at Snowden’s funeral been merely a hallucination? Or had it been a true revelation? The chaplain trembled at the mere idea. He wanted desperately to confide in Yossarian, but each time he thought about the occurrence he decided not to think about it any further, although now that he did think about it he could not be sure that he ever really had thought about it.
   Corporal Whitcomb sauntered back in wearing a shiny new smirk and leaned his elbow impertinently against the center pole of the chaplain’s tent.
   ‘Do you know who that guy in the red bathrobe was?’ he asked boastfully. ‘That was a C.I.D. man with a fractured nose. He came down here from the hospital on official business. He’s conducting an investigation.’ The chaplain raised his eyes quickly in obsequious commiseration. ‘I hope you’re not in any trouble. Is there anything I can do?’
   ‘No, I’m not in any trouble,’ Corporal Whitcomb replied with a grin. ‘You are. They’re going to crack down on you for signing Washington Irving’s name to all those letters you’ve been signing Washington Irving’s name to. How do you like that?’
   ‘I haven’t been signing Washington Irving’s name to any letters,’ said the chaplain.
   ‘You don’t have to lie to me,’ Corporal Whitcomb answered. ‘I’m not the one you have to convince.’
   ‘But I’m not lying.’
   ‘I don’t care whether you’re lying or not. They’re going to get you for intercepting Major Major’s correspondence, too. A lot of that stuff is classified information.’
   ‘What correspondence?’ asked the chaplain plaintively in rising exasperation. ‘I’ve never even seen any of Major Major’s correspondence.’
   ‘You don’t have to lie to me,’ Corporal Whitcomb replied. ‘I’m not the one you have to convince.’
   ‘But I’m not lying!’ protested the chaplain.
   ‘I don’t see why you have to shout at me,’ Corporal Whitcomb retorted with an injured look. He came away from the center pole and shook his finger at the chaplain for emphasis. ‘I just did you the biggest favor anybody ever did you in your whole life, and you don’t even realize it. Every time he tries to report you to his superiors, somebody up at the hospital censors out the details. He’s been going batty for weeks trying to turn you in. I just put a censor’s okay on his letter without even reading it. That will make a very good impression for you up at C.I.D. headquarters. It will let them know that we’re not the least bit afraid to have the whole truth about you come out.’ The chaplain was reeling with confusion. ‘But you aren’t authorized to censor letters, are you?’
   ‘Of course not,’ Corporal Whitcomb answered. ‘Only officers are ever authorized to do that. I censored it in your name.’
   ‘But I’m not authorized to censor letters either. Am I?’
   ‘I took care of that for you, too,’ Corporal Whitcomb assured him. ‘I signed somebody else’s name for you.’
   ‘Isn’t that forgery?’
   ‘Oh, don’t worry about that either. The only one who might complain in a case of forgery is the person whose name you forged, and I looked out for your interests by picking a dead man. I used Washington Irving’s name.’ Corporal Whitcomb scrutinized the chaplain’s face closely for some sign of rebellion and then breezed ahead confidently with concealed irony. ‘That was pretty quick thinking on my part, wasn’t it?’
   ‘I don’t know,’ the chaplain wailed softly in a quavering voice, squinting with grotesque contortions of anguish and incomprehension. ‘I don’t think I understand all you’ve been telling me. How will it make a good impression for me if you signed Washington Irving’s name instead of my own?’
   ‘Because they’re convinced that you are Washington Irving. Don’t you see? They’ll know it was you.’
   ‘But isn’t that the very belief we want to dispel? Won’t this help them prove it?’
   ‘If I thought you were going to be so stuffy about it, I wouldn’t even have tried to help,’ Corporal Whitcomb declared indignantly, and walked out. A second later he walked back in. ‘I just did you the biggest favor anybody ever did you in your whole life and you don’t even know it. You don’t know how to show your appreciation. That’s another one of the things that’s wrong with you.’
   ‘I’m sorry,’ the chaplain apologized contritely. ‘I really am sorry. It’s just that I’m so completely stunned by all you’re telling me that I don’t even realize what I’m saying. I’m really very grateful to you.’
   ‘Then how about letting me send out those form letters?’ Corporal Whitcomb demanded immediately. ‘Can I begin working on the first drafts?’ The chaplain’s jaw dropped in astonishment. ‘No, no,’ he groaned. ‘Not now.’ Corporal Whitcomb was incensed. ‘I’m the best friend you’ve got and you don’t even know it,’ he asserted belligerently, and walked out of the chaplain’s tent. He walked back in. ‘I’m on your side and you don’t even realize it. Don’t you know what serious trouble you’re in? That C.I.D. man has gone rushing back to the hospital to write a brand-new report on you about that tomato.’
   ‘What tomato?’ the chaplain asked, blinking.
   ‘The plum tomato you were hiding in your hand when you first showed up here. There it is. The tomato you’re still holding in your hand right this very minute!’ The captain unclenched his fingers with surprise and saw that he was still holding the plum tomato he had obtained in Colonel Cathcart’s office. He set it down quickly on the bridge table. ‘I got this tomato from Colonel Cathcart,’ he said, and was struck by how ludicrous his explanation sounded. ‘He insisted I take it.’
   ‘You don’t have to lie to me,’ Corporal Whitcomb answered. ‘I don’t care whether you stole it from him or not.’
   ‘Stole it?’ the chaplain exclaimed with amazement. ‘Why should I want to steal a plum tomato?’
   ‘That’s exactly what had us both stumped,’ said Corporal Whitcomb. ‘And then the C.I.D. man figured out you might have some important secret papers hidden away inside it.’ The chaplain sagged limply beneath the mountainous weight of his despair. ‘I don’t have any important secret papers hidden away inside it,’ he stated simply. ‘I didn’t even want it to begin with. Here, you can have it and see for yourself.’
   ‘I don’t want it.’
   ‘Please take it away,’ the chaplain pleaded in a voice that was barely audible. ‘I want to be rid of it.’
   ‘I don’t want it,’ Corporal Whitcomb snapped again, and stalked out with an angry face, suppressing a smile of great jubilation at having forged a powerful new alliance with the C.I.D. man and at having succeeded again in convincing the chaplain that he was really displeased.
   Poor Whitcomb, sighed the chaplain, and blamed himself for his assistant’s malaise. He sat mutely in a ponderous, stultifying melancholy, waiting expectantly for Corporal Whitcomb to walk back in. He was disappointed as he heard the peremptory crunch of Corporal Whitcomb’s footsteps recede into silence. There was nothing he wanted to do next. He decided to pass up lunch for a Milky Way and a Baby Ruth from his foot locker and a few swallows of luke-warm water from his canteen. He felt himself surrounded by dense, overwhelming fogs of possibilities in which he could perceive no glimmer of light. He dreaded what Colonel Cathcart would think when the news that he was suspected of being Washington Irving was brought to him, then fell to fretting over what Colonel Cathcart was already thinking about him for even having broached the subject of sixty missions. There was so much unhappiness in the world, he reflected, bowing his head dismally beneath the tragic thought, and there was nothing he could do about anybody’s, least of all his own.
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Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
General Dreedle

   Colonel Cathcart was not thinking anything at all about the chaplain, but was tangled up in a brand-new, menacing problem of his own: Yossarian!
   Yossarian! The mere sound of that execrable, ugly name made his blood run cold and his breath come in labored gasps. The chaplain’s first mention of the name Yossarian! had tolled deep in his memory like a portentous gong. As soon as the latch of the door had clicked shut, the whole humiliating recollection of the naked man in formation came cascading down upon him in a mortifying, choking flood of stinging details. He began to perspire and tremble. There was a sinister and unlikely coincidence exposed that was too diabolical in implication to be anything less than the most hideous of omens. The name of the man who had stood naked in ranks that day to receive his Distinguished Flying Cross from General Dreedle had also been—Yossarian! And now it was a man named Yossarian who was threatening to make trouble over the sixty missions he had just ordered the men in his group to fly. Colonel Cathcart wondered gloomily if it was the same Yossarian.
   He climbed to his feet with an air of intolerable woe and began moving about his office. He felt himself in the presence of the mysterious. The naked man in formation, he conceded cheerlessly, had been a real black eye for him. So had the tampering with the bomb line before the mission to Bologna and the seven-day delay in destroying the bridge at Ferrara, even though destroying the bridge at Ferrara finally, he remembered with glee, had been a real feather in his cap, although losing a plane there the second time around, he recalled in dejection, had been another black eye, even though he had won another real feather in his cap by getting a medal approved for the bombardier who had gotten him the real black eye in the first place by going around over the target twice. That bombardier’s name, he remembered suddenly with another stupefying shock, had also been Yossarian! Now there were three! His viscous eyes bulged with astonishment and he whipped himself around in alarm to see what was taking place behind him. A moment ago there had been no Yossarians in his life; now they were multiplying like hobgoblins. He tried to make himself grow calm. Yossarian was not a common name; perhaps there were not really three Yossarians but only two Yossarians, or maybe even only one Yossarian—but that really made no difference! The colonel was still in grave peril. Intuition warned him that he was drawing close to some immense and inscrutable cosmic climax, and his broad, meaty, towering frame tingled from head to toe at the thought that Yossarian, whoever he would eventually turn out to be, was destined to serve as his nemesis.
   Colonel Cathcart was not superstitious, but he did believe in omens, and he sat right back down behind his desk and made a cryptic notation on his memorandum pad to look into the whole suspicious business of the Yossarians right away. He wrote his reminder to himself in a heavy and decisive hand, amplifying it sharply with a series of coded punctuation marks and underlining the whole message twice, so that it read: Yossarian!!! (?)!
   The colonel sat back when he had finished and was extremely pleased with himself for the prompt action he had just taken to meet this sinister crisis. Yossarian—the very sight of the name made him shudder. There were so many esses in it. It just had to be subversive. It was like the word subversive itself. It was like seditious and insidious too, and like socialist, suspicious, fascist and Communist. It was an odious, alien, distasteful name, that just did not inspire confidence. It was not at all like such clean, crisp, honest, American names as Cathcart, Peckem and Dreedle.
   Colonel Cathcart rose slowly and began drifting about his office again. Almost unconsciously, he picked up a plum tomato from the top of one of the bushels and took a voracious bite. He made a wry face at once and threw the rest of the plum tomato into his waste-basket. The colonel did not like plum tomatoes, not even when they were his own, and these were not even his own. These had been purchased in different market places all over Pianosa by Colonel Korn under various identities, moved up to the colonel’s farmhouse in the hills in the dead of night, and transported down to Group Headquarters the next morning for sale to Milo, who paid Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn premium prices for them. Colonel Cathcart often wondered if what they were doing with the plum tomatoes was legal, but Colonel Korn said it was, and he tried not to brood about it too often. He had no way of knowing whether or not the house in the hills was legal, either, since Colonel Korn had made all the arrangements. Colonel Cathcart did not know if he owned the house or rented it, from whom he had acquired it or how much, if anything, it was costing. Colonel Korn was the lawyer, and if Colonel Korn assured him that fraud, extortion, currency manipulation, embezzlement, income tax evasion and black-market speculations were legal, Colonel Cathcart was in no position to disagree with him.
   All Colonel Cathcart knew about his house in the hills was that he had such a house and hated it. He was never so bored as when spending there the two or three days every other week necessary to sustain the illusion that his damp and drafty stone farmhouse in the hills was a golden palace of carnal delights. Officers’ clubs everywhere pulsated with blurred but knowing accounts of lavish, hushed-up drinking and sex orgies there and of secret, intimate nights of ecstasy with the most beautiful, the most tantalizing, the most readily aroused and most easily satisfied Italian courtesans, film actresses, models and countesses. No such private nights of ecstasy or hushed-up drinking and sex orgies ever occurred. They might have occurred if either General Dreedle or General Peckem had once evinced an interest in taking part in orgies with him, but neither ever did, and the colonel was certainly not going to waste his time and energy making love to beautiful women unless there was something in it for him.
   The colonel dreaded his dank lonely nights at his farmhouse and the dull, uneventful days. He had much more fun back at Group, browbeating everyone he wasn’t afraid of. However, as Colonel Korn kept reminding him, there was not much glamour in having a farmhouse in the hills if he never used it. He drove off to his farmhouse each time in a mood of self-pity. He carried a shotgun in his jeep and spent the monotonous hours there shooting it at birds and at the plum tomatoes that did grow there in untended rows and were too much trouble to harvest.
   Among those officers of inferior rank toward whom Colonel Cathcart still deemed it prudent to show respect, he included Major—de Coverley, even though he did not want to and was not sure he even had to. Major—de Coverley was as great a mystery to him as he was to Major Major and to everyone else who ever took notice of him. Colonel Cathcart had no idea whether to look up or look down in his attitude toward Major—de Coverley. Major—de Coverley was only a major, even though he was ages older than Colonel Cathcart; at the same time, so many other people treated Major—de Coverley with such profound and fearful veneration that Colonel Cathcart had a hunch they might know something. Major– de Coverley was an ominous, incomprehensible presence who kept him constantly on edge and of whom even Colonel Korn tended to be wary. Everyone was afraid of him, and no one knew why. No one even knew Major—de Coverley’s first name, because no one had ever had the temerity to ask him. Colonel Cathcart knew that Major—de Coverley was away and he rejoiced in his absence until it occurred to him that Major—de Coverley might be away somewhere conspiring against him, and then he wished that Major—de Coverley were back in his squadron where he belonged so that he could be watched.
   In a little while Colonel Cathcart’s arches began to ache from pacing back and forth so much. He sat down behind his desk again and resolved to embark upon a mature and systematic evaluation of the entire military situation. With the businesslike air of a man who knows how to get things done, he found a large white pad, drew a straight line down the middle and crossed it near the top, dividing the page into two blank columns of equal width. He rested a moment in critical rumination. Then he huddled over his desk, and at the head of the left column, in a cramped and finicky hand, he wrote, ‘Black Eyes!!!’ At the top of the right column he wrote, ‘Feathers in My Cap!!!!!’ He leaned back once more to inspect his chart admiringly from an objective perspective. After a few seconds of solemn deliberation, he licked the tip of his pencil carefully and wrote under ‘Black Eyes!!!,’ after intent intervals: Ferrara Bologna (bomb line moved on map during) Skeet range Naked man information (after Avignon) Then he added: Food poisoning (during Bologna) and Moaning (epidemic of during Avignon briefing) Then he added: Chaplain (hanging around officers’ club every night) He decided to be charitable about the chaplain, even though he did not like him, and under ‘Feathers in My Cap!!!!!’ he wrote: Chaplain (hanging around officers’ club every night) The two chaplain entries, therefore, neutralized each other. Alongside ‘Ferrara’ and ‘Naked man in formation (after Avignon)’ he then wrote: Yossarian! Alongside ‘ Bologna (bomb line moved on map during)’, ‘Food poisoning (during Bologna)’ and ‘Moaning (epidemic of during Avignon briefing)’ he wrote in a bold, decisive hand:? Those entries labeled ‘?’ were the ones he wanted to investigate immediately to determine if Yossarian had played any part in them.
   Suddenly his arm began to shake, and he was unable to write any more. He rose to his feet in terror, feeling sticky and fat, and rushed to the open window to gulp in fresh air. His gaze fell on the skeet-range, and he reeled away with a sharp cry of distress, his wild and feverish eyes scanning the walls of his office frantically as though they were swarming with Yossarians.
   Nobody loved him. General Dreedle hated him, although General Peckem liked him, although he couldn’t be sure, since Colonel Cargill, General Peckem’s aide, undoubtedly had ambitions of his own and was probably sabotaging him with General Peckem at every opportunity. The only good colonel, he decided, was a dead colonel, except for himself. The only colonel he trusted was Colonel Moodus, and even he had an in with his father-in-law. Milo, of course, had been the big feather in his cap, although having his group bombed by Milo’s planes had probably been a terrible black eye for him, even though Milo had ultimately stilled all protest by disclosing the huge net profit the syndicate had realized on the deal with the enemy and convincing everyone that bombing his own men and planes had therefore really been a commendable and very lucrative blow on the side of private enterprise. The colonel was insecure about Milo because other colonels were trying to lure him away, and Colonel Cathcart still had that lousy Big Chief White Halfoat in his group who that lousy, lazy Captain Black claimed was the one really responsible for the bomb line’s being moved during the Big Siege of Bologna. Colonel Cathcart liked Big Chief White Halfoat because Big Chief White Halfoat kept punching that lousy Colonel Moodus in the nose every time he got drunk and Colonel Moodus was around. He wished that Big Chief White Halfoat would begin punching Colonel Korn in his fat face, too. Colonel Korn was a lousy smart aleck. Someone at Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters had it in for him and sent back every report he wrote with a blistering rebuke, and Colonel Korn had bribed a clever mail clerk there named Wintergreen to try to find out who it was. Losing the plane over Ferrara the second time around had not done him any good, he had to admit, and neither had having that other plane disappear inside that cloud—that was one he hadn’t even written down! He tried to recall, longingly, if Yossarian had been lost in that plane in the cloud and realized that Yossarian could not possibly have been lost in that plane in the cloud if he was still around now raising such a big stink about having to fly a lousy five missions more.
   Maybe sixty missions were too many for the men to fly, Colonel Cathcart reasoned, if Yossarian objected to flying them, but he then remembered that forcing his men to fly more missions than everyone else was the most tangible achievement he had going for him. As Colonel Korn often remarked, the war was crawling with group commanders who were merely doing their duty, and it required just some sort of dramatic gesture like making his group fly more combat missions than any other bomber group to spotlight his unique qualities of leadership. Certainly none of the generals seemed to object to what he was doing, although as far as he could detect they weren’t particularly impressed either, which made him suspect that perhaps sixty combat missions were not nearly enough and that he ought to increase the number at once to seventy, eighty, a hundred, or even two hundred, three hundred, or six thousand!
   Certainly he would be much better off under somebody suave like General Peckem than he was under somebody boorish and insensitive like General Dreedle, because General Peckem had the discernment, the intelligence and the Ivy League background to appreciate and enjoy him at his full value, although General Peckem had never given the slightest indication that he appreciated or enjoyed him at all. Colonel Cathcart felt perceptive enough to realize that visible signals of recognition were never necessary between sophisticated, self-assured people like himself and General Peckem who could warm to each other from a distance with innate mutual understanding. It was enough that they were of like kind, and he knew it was only a matter of waiting discreetly for preferment until the right time, although it rotted Colonel Cathcart’s self-esteem to observe that General Peckem never deliberately sought him out and that he labored no harder to impress Colonel Cathcart with his epigrams and erudition than he did to impress anyone else in earshot, even enlisted men. Either Colonel Cathcart wasn’t getting through to General Peckem or General Peckem was not the scintillating, discriminating, intellectual, forward-looking personality he pretended to be and it was really General Dreedle who was sensitive, charming, brilliant and sophisticated and under whom he would certainly be much better off, and suddenly Colonel Cathcart had absolutely no conception of how strongly he stood with anyone and began banging on his buzzer with his fist for Colonel Korn to come running into his office and assure him that everybody loved him, that Yossarian was a figment of his imagination, and that he was making wonderful progress in the splendid and valiant campaign he was waging to become a general.
   Actually, Colonel Cathcart did not have a chance in hell of becoming a general. For one thing, there was ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen, who also wanted to be a general and who always distorted, destroyed, rejected or misdirected any correspondence by, for or about Colonel Cathcart that might do him credit. For another, there already was a general, General Dreedle who knew that General Peckem was after his job but did not know how to stop him.
   General Dreedle, the wing commander, was a blunt, chunky, barrel-chested man in his early fifties. His nose was squat and red, and he had lumpy white, bunched-up eyelids circling his small gray eyes like haloes of bacon fat. He had a nurse and a son-in-law, and he was prone to long, ponderous silences when he had not been drinking too much. General Dreedle had wasted too much of his time in the Army doing his job well, and now it was too late. New power alignments had coalesced without him and he was at a loss to cope with them. At unguarded moments his hard and sullen face slipped into a somber, preoccupied look of defeat and frustration. General Dreedle drank a great deal. His moods were arbitrary and unpredictable. ‘War is hell,’ he declared frequently, drunk or sober, and he really meant it, although that did not prevent him from making a good living out of it or from taking his son-in-law into the business with him, even though the two bickered constantly.
   ‘That bastard,’ General Dreedle would complain about his son-in-law with a contemptuous grunt to anyone who happened to be standing beside him at the curve of the bar of the officers’ club. ‘Everything he’s got he owes to me. I made him, that lousy son of a bitch! He hasn’t got brains enough to get ahead on his own.’
   ‘He thinks he knows everything,’ Colonel Moodus would retort in a sulking tone to his own audience at the other end of the bar. ‘He can’t take criticism and he won’t listen to advice.’
   ‘All he can do is give advice,’ General Dreedle would observe with a rasping snort. ‘If it wasn’t for me, he’d still be a corporal.’ General Dreedle was always accompanied by both Colonel Moodus and his nurse, who was as delectable a piece of ass as anyone who saw her had ever laid eyes on. General Dreedle’s nurse was chubby, short and blonde. She had plump dimpled cheeks, happy blue eyes, and neat curly turned-up hair. She smiled at everyone and never spoke at all unless she was spoken to. Her bosom was lush and her complexion clear. She was irresistible, and men edged away from her carefully. She was succulent, sweet, docile and dumb, and she drove everyone crazy but General Dreedle.
   ‘You should see her naked,’ General Dreedle chortled with croupy relish, while his nurse stood smiling proudly right at his shoulder. ‘Back at Wing she’s got a uniform in my room made of purple silk that’s so tight her nipples stand out like bing cherries. Milo got me the fabric. There isn’t even room enough for panties or a brassière underneath. I make her wear it some nights when Moodus is around just to drive him crazy.’ General Dreedle laughed hoarsely. ‘You should see what goes on inside that blouse of hers every time she shifts her weight. She drives him out of his mind. The first time I catch him putting a hand on her or any other woman I’ll bust the horny bastard right down to private and put him on K.P. for a year.’
   ‘He keeps her around just to drive me crazy,’ Colonel Moodus accused aggrievedly at the other end of the bar. ‘Back at Wing she’s got a uniform made out of purple silk that’s so tight her nipples stand out like bing cherries. There isn’t even room for panties or a brassière underneath. You should hear that rustle every time she shifts her weight. The first time I make a pass at her or any other girl he’ll bust me right down to private and put me on K.P. for a year. She drives me out of my mind.’
   ‘He hasn’t gotten laid since we shipped overseas,’ confided General Dreedle, and his square grizzled head bobbed with sadistic laughter at the fiendish idea. ‘That’s one of the reasons I never let him out of my sight, just so he can’t get to a woman. Can you imagine what that poor son of a bitch is going through?’
   ‘I haven’t been to bed with a woman since we shipped overseas,’ Colonel Moodus whimpered tearfully. ‘Can you imagine what I’m going through?’ General Dreedle could be as intransigent with anyone else when displeased as he was with Colonel Moodus. He had no taste for sham, tact or pretension, and his credo as a professional soldier was unified and concise: he believed that the young men who took orders from him should be willing to give up their lives for the ideals, aspirations and idiosyncrasies of the old men he took orders from. The officers and enlisted men in his command had identity for him only as military quantities. All he asked was that they do their work; beyond that, they were free to do whatever they pleased. They were free, as Colonel Cathcart was free, to force their men to fly sixty missions if they chose, and they were free, as Yossarian had been free, to stand in formation naked if they wanted to, although General Dreedle’s granite jaw swung open at the sight and he went striding dictatorially right down the line to make certain that there really was a man wearing nothing but moccasins waiting at attention in ranks to receive a medal from him. General Dreedle was speechless. Colonel Cathcart began to faint when he spied Yossarian, and Colonel Korn stepped up behind him and squeezed his arm in a strong grip. The silence was grotesque. A steady warm wind flowed in from the beach, and an old cart filled with dirty straw rumbled into view on the main road, drawn by a black donkey and driven by a farmer in a flopping hat and faded brown work clothes who paid no attention to the formal military ceremony taking place in the small field on his right.
   At last General Dreedle spoke. ‘Get back in the car,’ he snapped over his shoulder to his nurse, who had followed him down the line. The nurse toddled away with a smile toward his brown staff car, parked about twenty yards away at the edge of the rectangular clearing. General Dreedle waited in austere silence until the car door slammed and then demanded, ‘Which one is this?’ Colonel Moodus checked his roster. ‘This one is Yossarian, Dad. He gets a Distinguished Flying Cross.’
   ‘Well, I’ll be damned,’ mumbled General Dreedle, and his ruddy monolithic face softened with amusement. ‘Why aren’t you wearing clothes, Yossarian?’
   ‘I don’t want to.’
   ‘What do you mean you don’t want to? Why the hell don’t you want to?’
   ‘I just don’t want to, sir.’
   ‘Why isn’t he wearing clothes?’ General Dreedle demanded over his shoulder of Colonel Cathcart.
   ‘He’s talking to you,’ Colonel Korn whispered over Colonel Cathcart’s shoulder from behind, jabbing his elbow sharply into Colonel Cathcart’s back.
   ‘Why isn’t he wearing clothes?’ Colonel Cathcart demanded of Colonel Korn with a look of acute pain, tenderly nursing the spot where Colonel Korn had just jabbed him.
   ‘Why isn’t he wearing clothes?’ Colonel Korn demanded of Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren.
   ‘A man was killed in his plane over Avignon last week and bled all over him,’ Captain Wren replied. ‘He swears he’s never going to wear a uniform again.’
   ‘A man was killed in his plane over Avignon last week and bled all over him,’ Colonel Korn reported directly to General Dreedle. ‘His uniform hasn’t come back from the laundry yet.’
   ‘Where are his other uniforms?’
   ‘They’re in the laundry, too.’
   ‘What about his underwear?’ General Dreedle demanded.
   ‘All his underwear’s in the laundry, too,’ answered Colonel Korn.
   ‘That sounds like a lot of crap to me,’ General Dreedle declared.
   ‘It is a lot of crap, sir,’ Yossarian said.
   ‘Don’t you worry, sir,’ Colonel Cathcart promised General Dreedle with a threatening look at Yossarian. ‘You have my personal word for it that this man will be severely punished.’
   ‘What the hell do I care if he’s punished or not?’ General Dreedle replied with surprise and irritation. ‘He’s just won a medal. If he wants to receive it without any clothes on, what the hell business is it of yours?’
   ‘Those are my sentiments exactly, sir!’ Colonel Cathcart echoed with resounding enthusiasm and mopped his brow with a damp white handkerchief. ‘But would you say that, sir, even in the light of General Peckem’s recent memorandum on the subject of appropriate military attire in combat areas?’
   ‘Peckem?’ General Dreedle’s face clouded.
   ‘Yes, sir, sir,’ said Colonel Cathcart obsequiously. ‘General Peckem even recommends that we send our men into combat in full-dress uniform so they’ll make a good impression on the enemy when they’re shot down.’
   ‘Peckem?’ repeated General Dreedle, still squinting with bewilderment. ‘Just what the hell does Peckem have to do with it?’ Colonel Korn jabbed Colonel Cathcart sharply again in the back with his elbow.
   ‘Absolutely nothing, sir!’ Colonel Cathcart responded sprucely, wincing in extreme pain and gingerly rubbing the spot where Colonel Korn had just jabbed him again. ‘And that’s exactly why I decided to take absolutely no action at all until I first had an opportunity to discuss it with you. Shall we ignore it completely, sir?’ General Dreedle ignored him completely, turning away from him in baleful scorn to hand Yossarian his medal in its case.
   ‘Get my girl back from the car,’ he commanded Colonel Moodus crabbily, and waited in one spot with his scowling face down until his nurse had rejoined him.
   ‘Get word to the office right away to kill that directive I just issued ordering the men to wear neckties on the combat missions,’ Colonel Cathcart whispered to Colonel Korn urgently out of the corner of his mouth.
   ‘I told you not to do it,’ Colonel Korn snickered. ‘But you just wouldn’t listen to me.’
   ‘Shhhh!’ Colonel Cathcart cautioned. ‘Goddammit, Korn, what did you do to my back?’ Colonel Korn snickered again.
   General Dreedle’s nurse always followed General Dreedle everywhere he went, even into the briefing room just before the mission to Avignon, where she stood with her asinine smile at the side of the platform and bloomed like a fertile oasis at General Dreedle’s shoulder in her pink-and-green uniform. Yossarian looked at her and fell in love, desperately. His spirits sank, leaving him empty inside and numb. He sat gazing in clammy want at her full red lips and dimpled cheeks as he listened to Major Danby describe in a monotonous, didactic male drone the heavy concentrations of flak awaiting them at Avignon, and he moaned in deep despair suddenly at the thought that he might never see again this lovely woman to whom he had never spoken a word and whom he now loved so pathetically. He throbbed and ached with sorrow, fear and desire as he stared at her; she was so beautiful. He worshiped the ground she stood on. He licked his parched, thirsting lips with a sticky tongue and moaned in misery again, loudly enough this time to attract the startled, searching glances of the men sitting around him on the rows of crude wooden benches in their chocolate-colored coveralls and stitched white parachute harnesses.
   Nately turned to him quickly with alarm. ‘What is it?’ he whispered. ‘What’s the matter?’ Yossarian did not hear him. He was sick with lust and mesmerized with regret. General Dreedle’s nurse was only a little chubby, and his senses were stuffed to congestion with the yellow radiance of her hair and the unfelt pressure of her soft short fingers, with the rounded, untasted wealth of her nubile breasts in her Army-pink shirt that was opened wide at the throat and with the rolling, ripened, triangular confluences of her belly and thighs in her tight, slick forest-green gabardine officer’s pants. He drank her in insatiably from head to painted toenail. He never wanted to lose her. ‘Oooooooooooooh,’ he moaned again, and this time the whole room rippled at his quavering, drawn-out cry. A wave of startled uneasiness broke over the officers on the dais, and even Major Danby, who had begun synchronizing the watches, was distracted momentarily as he counted out the seconds and almost had to begin again. Nately followed Yossarian’s transfixed gaze down the long frame auditorium until he came to General Dreedle’s nurse. He blanched with trepidation when he guessed what was troubling Yossarian.
   ‘Cut it out, will you?’ Nately warned in a fierce whisper.
   ‘Ooooooooooooooooooooh,’ Yossarian moaned a fourth time, this time loudly enough for everyone to hear him distinctly.
   ‘Are you crazy?’ Nately hissed vehemently. ‘You’ll get into trouble.’
   ‘Ooooooooooooooooooooh,’ Dunbar answered Yossarian from the opposite end of the room.
   Nately recognized Dunbar’s voice. The situation was now out of control, and he turned away with a small moan. ‘Ooh.’
   ‘Ooooooooooooooooooooh,’ Dunbar moaned back at him.
   ‘Ooooooooooooooooooooh,’ Nately moaned out loud in exasperation when he realized that he had just moaned.
   ‘Ooooooooooooooooooooh,’ Dunbar moaned back at him again.
   ‘Ooooooooooooooooooooh,’ someone entirely new chimed in from another section of the room, and Nately’s hair stood on end.
   Yossarian and Dunbar both replied while Nately cringed and hunted about futilely for some hole in which to hide and take Yossarian with him. A sprinkling of people were smothering laughter. An elfin impulse possessed Nately and he moaned intentionally the next time there was a lull. Another new voice answered. The flavor of disobedience was titillating, and Nately moaned deliberately again, the next time he could squeeze one in edgewise. Still another new voice echoed him. The room was boiling irrepressibly into bedlam. An eerie hubbub of voices was rising. Feet were scuffled, and things began to drop from people’s fingers—pencils, computers, map cases, clattering steel flak helmets. A number of men who were not moaning were now giggling openly, and there was no telling how far the unorganized insurrection of moaning might have gone if General Dreedle himself had not come forward to quell it, stepping out determinedly in the center of the platform directly in front of Major Danby, who, with his earnest, persevering head down, was still concentrating on his wrist watch and saying, ‘…twenty-five seconds… twenty… fifteen…’ General Dreedle’s great, red domineering face was gnarled with perplexity and oaken with awesome resolution.
   ‘That will be all, men,’ he ordered tersely, his eyes glaring with disapproval and his square jaw firm, and that’s all there was. ‘I run a fighting outfit,’ he told them sternly, when the room had grown absolutely quiet and the men on the benches were all cowering sheepishly, ‘and there’ll be no more moaning in this group as long as I’m in command. Is that clear?’ It was clear to everybody but Major Danby, who was still concentrating on his wrist watch and counting down the seconds aloud. ‘…four… three… two… one… time!’ called out Major Danby, and raised his eyes triumphantly to discover that no one had been listening to him and that he would have to begin all over again. ‘Ooooh,’ he moaned in frustration.
   ‘What was that?’ roared General Dreedle incredulously, and whirled around in a murderous rage upon Major Danby, who staggered back in terrified confusion and began to quail and perspire. ‘Who is this man?’
   ‘M-major Danby, sir,’ Colonel Cathcart stammered. ‘My group operations officer.’
   ‘Take him out and shoot him,’ ordered General Dreedle.
   ‘S-sir?’
   ‘I said take him out and shoot him. Can’t you hear?’
   ‘Yes, sir!’ Colonel Cathcart responded smartly, swallowing hard, and turned in a brisk manner to his chauffeur and his meteorologist. ‘Take Major Danby out and shoot him.’
   ‘S-sir?’ his chauffeur and his meteorologist stammered.
   ‘I said take Major Danby out and shoot him,’ Colonel Cathcart snapped. ‘Can’t you hear?’ The two young lieutenants nodded lumpishly and gaped at each other in stunned and flaccid reluctance, each waiting for the other to initiate the procedure of taking Major Danby outside and shooting him. Neither had ever taken Major Danby outside and shot him before. They inched their way dubiously toward Major Danby from opposite sides. Major Danby was white with fear. His legs collapsed suddenly and he began to fall, and the two young lieutenants sprang forward and seized him under both arms to save him from slumping to the floor. Now that they had Major Danby, the rest seemed easy, but there were no guns. Major Danby began to cry. Colonel Cathcart wanted to rush to his side and comfort him, but did not want to look like a sissy in front of General Dreedle. He remembered that Appleby and Havermeyer always brought their.45 automatics on the missions, and he began to scan the rows of men in search of them.
   As soon as Major Danby began to cry, Colonel Moodus, who had been vacillating wretchedly on the sidelines, could restrain himself no longer and stepped out diffidently toward General Dreedle with a sickly air of self-sacrifice. ‘I think you’d better wait a minute, Dad,’ he suggested hesitantly. ‘I don’t think you can shoot him.’ General Dreedle was infuriated by his intervention. ‘Who the hell says I can’t?’ he thundered pugnaciously in a voice loud enough to rattle the whole building. Colonel Moodus, his face flushing with embarrassment, bent close to whisper into his ear. ‘Why the hell can’t I?’ General Dreedle bellowed. Colonel Moodus whispered some more. ‘You mean I can’t shoot anyone I want to?’ General Dreedle demanded with uncompromising indignation. He pricked up his ears with interest as Colonel Moodus continued whispering. ‘Is that a fact?’ he inquired, his rage tamed by curiosity.
   ‘Yes, Dad. I’m afraid it is.’
   ‘I guess you think you’re pretty goddam smart, don’t you?’ General Dreedle lashed out at Colonel Moodus suddenly.
   Colonel Moodus turned crimson again. ‘No, Dad, it isn’t—’
   ‘All right, let the insubordinate son of a bitch go,’ General Dreedle snarled, turning bitterly away from his son-in-law and barking peevishly at Colonel Cathcart’s chauffeur and Colonel Cathcart’s meteorologist. ‘But get him out of this building and keep him out. And let’s continue this goddam briefing before the war ends. I’ve never seen so much incompetence.’ Colonel Cathcart nodded lamely at General Dreedle and signaled his men hurriedly to push Major Danby outside the building. As soon as Major Danby had been pushed outside, though, there was no one to continue the briefing. Everyone gawked at everyone else in oafish surprise. General Dreedle turned purple with rage as nothing happened. Colonel Cathcart had no idea what to do. He was about to begin moaning aloud when Colonel Korn came to the rescue by stepping forward and taking control. Colonel Cathcart sighed with enormous, tearful relief, almost overwhelmed with gratitude.
   ‘Now, men, we’re going to synchronize our watches,’ Colonel Korn began promptly in a sharp, commanding manner, rolling his eyes flirtatiously in General Dreedle’s direction. ‘We’re going to synchronize our watches one time and one time only, and if it doesn’t come off in that one time, General Dreedle and I are going to want to know why. Is that clear?’ He fluttered his eyes toward General Dreedle again to make sure his plug had registered. ‘Now set your watches for nine-eighteen.’ Colonel Korn synchronized their watches without a single hitch and moved ahead with confidence. He gave the men the colors of the day and reviewed the weather conditions with an agile, flashy versatility, casting sidelong, simpering looks at General Dreedle every few seconds to draw increased encouragement from the excellent impression he saw he was making. Preening and pruning himself effulgendy and strutting vaingloriously about the platform as he picked up momentum, he gave the men the colors of the day again and shifted nimbly into a rousing pep talk on the importance of the bridge at Avignon to the war effort and the obligation of each man on the mission to place love of country above love of life. When his inspiring dissertation was finished, he gave the men the colors of the day still one more time, stressed the angle of approach and reviewed the weather conditions again. Colonel Korn felt himself at the full height of his powers. He belonged in the spotlight.
   Comprehension dawned slowly on Colonel Cathcart; when it came, he was struck dumb. His face grew longer and longer as he enviously watched Colonel Korn’s treachery continue, and he was almost afraid to listen when General Dreedle moved up beside him and, in a whisper blustery enough to be heard throughout the room, demanded, ‘Who is that man?’ Colonel Cathcart answered with wan foreboding, and General Dreedle then cupped his hand over his mouth and whispered something that made Colonel Cathcart’s face glow with immense joy. Colonel Korn saw and quivered with uncontainable rapture. Had he just been promoted in the field by General Dreedle to full colonel? He could not endure the suspense. With a masterful flourish, he brought the briefing to a close and turned expectantly to receive ardent congratulations from General Dreedle—who was already striding out of the building without a glance backward, trailing his nurse and Colonel Moodus behind him. Colonel Korn was stunned by this disappointing sight, but only for an instant. His eyes found Colonel Cathcart, who was still standing erect in a grinning trance, and he rushed over jubilantly and began pulling on his arm.
   ‘What’d he say about me?’ he demanded excitedly in a fervor of proud and blissful anticipation. ‘What did General Dreedle say?’
   ‘He wanted to know who you were.’
   ‘I know that. I know that. But what’d he say about me? What’d he say?’
   ‘You make him sick.’
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Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
Milo the Mayor

   That was the mission on which Yossarian lost his nerve. Yossarian lost his nerve on the mission to Avignon because Snowden lost his guts, and Snowden lost his guts because their pilot that day was Huple, who was only fifteen years old, and their co-pilot was Dobbs, who was even worse and who wanted Yossarian to join with him in a plot to murder Colonel Cathcart. Huple was a good pilot, Yossarian knew, but he was only a kid, and Dobbs had no confidence in him, either, and wrested the controls away without warning after they had dropped their bombs, going berserk in mid-air and tipping the plane over into that heart-stopping, ear-splitting, indescribably petrifying fatal dive that tore Yossarian’s earphones free from their connection and hung him helplessly to the roof of the nose by the top of his head.
   Oh, God! Yossarian had shrieked soundlessly as he felt them all falling. Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! he had shrieked beseechingly through lips that could not open as the plane fell and he dangled without weight by the top of his head until Huple managed to seize the controls back and leveled the plane out down inside the crazy, craggy, patchwork canyon of crashing antiaircraft fire from which they had climbed away and from which they would now have to escape again. Almost at once there was a thud and a hole the size of a big fist in the plexiglass. Yossarian’s cheeks were stinging with shimmering splinters. There was no blood.
   ‘What happened? What happened?’ he cried, and trembled violently when he could not hear his own voice in his ears. He was cowed by the empty silence on the intercom and almost too horrified to move as he crouched like a trapped mouse on his hands and knees and waited without daring to breathe until he finally spied the gleaming cylindrical jack plug of his headset swinging back and forth in front of his eyes and jammed it back into its receptacle with fingers that rattled. Oh, God! he kept shrieking with no abatement of terror as the flak thumped and mushroomed all about him. Oh, God!
   Dobbs was weeping when Yossarian jammed his jack plug back into the intercom system and was able to hear again.
   ‘Help him, help him,’ Dobbs was sobbing. ‘Help him, help him.’
   ‘Help who? Help who?’ Yossarian called back. ‘Help who?’
   ‘The bombardier, the bombardier,’ Dobbs cried. ‘He doesn’t answer. Help the bombardier, help the bombardier.’
   ‘I’m the bombardier,’ Yossarian cried back at him. ‘I’m the bombardier. I’m all right. I’m all right.’
   ‘Then help him, help him,’ Dobbs wept. ‘Help him, help him.’
   ‘Help who? Help who?’
   ‘The radio-gunner,’ Dobbs begged. ‘Help the radio-gunner.’
   ‘I’m cold,’ Snowden whimpered feebly over the intercom system then in a bleat of plaintive agony. ‘Please help me. I’m cold.’ And Yossarian crept out through the crawlway and climbed up over the bomb bay and down into the rear section of the plane where Snowden lay on the floor wounded and freezing to death in a yellow splash of sunlight near the new tail-gunner lying stretched out on the floor beside him in a dead faint.
   Dobbs was the worst pilot in the world and knew it, a shattered wreck of a virile young man who was continually striving to convince his superiors that he was no longer fit to pilot a plane. None of his superiors would listen, and it was the day the number of missions was raised to sixty that Dobbs stole into Yossarian’s tent while Orr was out looking for gaskets and disclosed the plot he had formulated to murder Colonel Cathcart. He needed Yossarian’s assistance.
   ‘You want us to kill him in cold blood?’ Yossarian objected.
   ‘That’s right,’ Dobbs agreed with an optimistic smile, encouraged by Yossarian’s ready grasp of the situation. ‘We’ll shoot him to death with the Luger I brought back from Sicily that nobody knows I’ve got.’
   ‘I don’t think I could do it,’ Yossarian concluded, after weighing the idea in silence awhile.
   Dobbs was astonished. ‘Why not?’
   ‘Look. Nothing would please me more than to have the son of a bitch break his neck or get killed in a crash or to find out that someone else had shot him to death. But I don’t think I could kill him.’
   ‘He’d do it to you,’ Dobbs argued. ‘In fact, you’re the one who told me he is doing it to us by keeping us in combat so long.’
   ‘But I don’t think I could do it to him. He’s got a right to live, too, I guess.’
   ‘Not as long as he’s trying to rob you and me of our right to live. What’s the matter with you?’ Dobbs was flabbergasted. ‘I used to listen to you arguing that same thing with Clevinger. And look what happened to him. Right inside that cloud.’
   ‘Stop shouting, will you?’ Yossarian shushed him.
   ‘I’m not shouting!’ Dobbs shouted louder, his face red with revolutionary fervor. His eyes and nostrils were running, and his palpitating crimson lower lip was splattered with a foamy dew. ‘There must have been close to a hundred men in the group who had finished their fifty-five missions when he raised the number to sixty. There must have been at least another hundred like you with just a couple more to fly. He’s going to kill us all if we let him go on forever. We’ve got to kill him first.’ Yossarian nodded expressionlessly, without committing himself. ‘Do you think we could get away with it?’
   ‘I’ve got it all worked out. I—’
   ‘Stop shouting, for Christ’s sake!’
   ‘I’m not shouting. I’ve got it—’
   ‘Will you stop shouting!’
   ‘I’ve got it all worked out,’ Dobbs whispered, gripping the side of Orr’s cot with white-knuckled hands to constrain them from waving. ‘Thursday morning when he’s due back from that goddam farmhouse of his in the hills, I’ll sneak up through the woods to that hairpin turn in the road and hide in the bushes. He has to slow down there, and I can watch the road in both directions to make sure there’s no one else around. When I see him coming, I’ll shove a big log out into the road to make him stop his jeep. Then I’ll step out of the bushes with my Luger and shoot him in the head until he’s dead. I’ll bury the gun, come back down through the woods to the squadron and go about my business just like everybody else. What could possibly go wrong?’ Yossarian had followed each step attentively. ‘Where do I come in?’ he asked in puzzlement.
   ‘I couldn’t do it without you,’ Dobbs explained. ‘I need you to tell me to go ahead.’ Yossarian found it hard to believe him. ‘Is that all you want me to do? Just tell you to go ahead?’
   ‘That’s all I need from you,’ Dobbs answered. ‘Just tell me to go ahead and I’ll blow his brains out all by myself the day after tomorrow.’ His voice was accelerating with emotion and rising again. ‘I’d like to shoot Colonel Korn in the head, too, while we’re at it, although I’d like to spare Major Danby, if that’s all right with you. Then I’d murder Appleby and Havermeyer also, and after we finish murdering Appleby and Havermeyer I’d like to murder McWatt.’
   ‘McWatt?’ cried Yossarian, almost jumping up in horror. ‘McWatt’s a friend of mine. What do you want from McWatt?’
   ‘I don’t know,’ Dobbs confessed with an air of floundering embarrassment. ‘I just thought that as long as we were murdering Appleby and Havermeyer we might as well murder McWatt too. Don’t you want to murder McWatt?’ Yossarian took a firm stand. ‘Look, I might keep interested in this if you stop shouting it all over the island and if you stick to killing Colonel Cathcart. But if you’re going to turn this into a blood bath, you can forget about me.’
   ‘All right, all right,’ Dobbs sought to placate him. ‘Just Colonel Cathcart. Should I do it? Tell me to go ahead.’ Yossarian shook his head. ‘I don’t think I could tell you to go ahead.’ Dobbs was frantic. ‘I’m willing to compromise,’ he pleaded vehemently. ‘You don’t have to tell me to go ahead. Just tell me it’s a good idea. Okay? Is it a good idea?’ Yossarian still shook his head. ‘It would have been a great idea if you had gone ahead and done it without even speaking to me. Now it’s too late. I don’t think I can tell you anything. Give me some more time. I might change my mind.’
   ‘Then it will be too late.’ Yossarian kept shaking his head. Dobbs was disappointed. He sat for a moment with a hangdog look, then spurted to his feet suddenly and stamped away to have another impetuous crack at persuading Doc Daneeka to ground him, knocking over Yossarian’s washstand with his hip when he lurched around and tripping over the fuel line of the stove Orr was still constructing. Doc Daneeka withstood Dobbs’s blustering and gesticulating attack with a series of impatient nods and sent him to the medical tent to describe his symptoms to Gus and Wes, who painted his gums purple with gentian-violet solution the moment he started to talk. They painted his toes purple, too, and forced a laxative down his throat when he opened his mouth again to complain, and then they sent him away.
   Dobbs was in even worse shape than Hungry Joe, who could at least fly missions when he was not having nightmares. Dobbs was almost as bad as Orr, who seemed happy as an undersized, grinning lark with his deranged and galvanic giggle and shivering warped buck teeth and who was sent along for a rest leave with Milo and Yossarian on the trip to Cairo for eggs when Milo bought cotton instead and took off at dawn for Istanbul with his plane packed to the gun turrets with exotic spiders and unripened red bananas. Orr was one of the homeliest freaks Yossarian had ever encountered, and one of the most attractive. He had a raw bulgy face, with hazel eyes squeezing from their sockets like matching brown halves of marbles and thick, wavy particolored hair sloping up to a peak on the top of his head like a pomaded pup tent. Orr was knocked down into the water or had an engine shot out almost every time he went up, and he began jerking on Yossarian’s arm like a wild man after they had taken off for Naples and come down in Sicily to find the scheming, cigar-smoking, ten-year-old pimp with the two twelve-year-old virgin sisters waiting for them in town in front of the hotel in which there was room for only Milo. Yossarian pulled back from Orr adamantly, gazing with some concern and bewilderment at Mt. Etna instead of Mt. Vesuvius and wondering what they were doing in Sicily instead of Naples as Orr kept entreating him in a tittering, stuttering, concupiscent turmoil to go along with him behind the scheming ten-year-old pimp to his two twelve-year-old virgin sisters who were not really virgins and not really sisters and who were really only twenty-eight.
   ‘Go with him,’ Milo instructed Yossarian laconically. ‘Remember your mission.’
   ‘All right,’ Yossarian yielded with a sigh, remembering his mission. ‘But at least let me try to find a hotel room first so I can get a good night’s sleep afterward.’
   ‘You’ll get a good night’s sleep with the girls,’ Milo replied with the same air of intrigue. ‘Remember your mission.’ But they got no sleep at all, for Yossarian and Orr found themselves jammed into the same double bed with the two twelve –year-old twenty-eight-year-old prostitutes, who turned out to be oily and obese and who kept waking them up all night long to ask them to switch partners. Yossarian’s perceptions were soon so fuzzy that he paid no notice to the beige turban the fat one crowding into him kept wearing until late the next morning when the scheming ten-year-old pimp with the Cuban panatella snatched it off in public in a bestial caprice that exposed in the brilliant Sicilian daylight her shocking, misshapen and denudate skull. Vengeful neighbors had shaved her hair to the gleaming bone because she had slept with Germans. The girl screeched in feminine outrage and waddled comically after the scheming ten-year-old pimp, her grisly, bleak, violated scalp slithering up and down ludicrously around the queer darkened wart of her face like something bleached and obscene. Yossarian had never laid eyes on anything so bare before. The pimp spun the turban high on his finger like a trophy and kept himself skipping inches ahead of her finger tips as he led her in a tantalizing circle around the square congested with people who were howling with laughter and pointing to Yossarian with derision when Milo strode up with a grim look of haste and puckered his lips reprovingly at the unseemly spectacle of so much vice and frivolity. Milo insisted on leaving at once for Malta.
   ‘We’re sleepy,’ Orr whined.
   ‘That’s your own fault,’ Milo censured them both selfrighteously. ‘If you had spent the night in your hotel room instead of with these immoral girls, you’d both feel as good as I do today.’
   ‘You told us to go with them,’ Yossarian retorted accusingly. ‘And we didn’t have a hotel room. You were the only one who could get a hotel room.’
   ‘That wasn’t my fault, either,’ Milo explained haughtily. ‘How was I supposed to know all the buyers would be in town for the chick-pea harvest?’
   ‘You knew it,’ Yossarian charged. ‘That explains why we’re here in Sicily instead of Naples. You’ve probably got the whole damned plane filled with chick-peas already.’
   ‘Shhhhhh!’ Milo cautioned sternly, with a meaningful glance toward Orr. ‘Remember your mission.’ The bomb bay, the rear and tail sections of the plane and most of the top turret gunner’s section were all filled with bushels of chick-peas when they arrived at the airfield to take off for Malta.
   Yossarian’s mission on the trip was to distract Orr from observing where Milo bought his eggs, even though Orr was a member of Milo’s syndicate and, like every other member of Milo’s syndicate, owned a share. His mission was silly, Yossarian felt, since it was common knowledge that Milo bought his eggs in Malta for seven cents apiece and sold them to the mess halls in his syndicate for five cents apiece.
   ‘I just don’t trust him,’ Milo brooded in the plane, with a backward nod toward Orr, who was curled up like a tangled rope on the low bushels of chick-peas, trying torturedly to sleep. ‘And I’d just as soon buy my eggs when he’s not around to learn my business secrets. What else don’t you understand?’ Yossarian was riding beside him in the co-pilot’s seat. ‘I don’t understand why you buy eggs for seven cents apiece in Malta and sell them for five cents.’
   ‘I do it to make a profit.’
   ‘But how can you make a profit? You lose two cents an egg.’
   ‘But I make a profit of three and a quarter cents an egg by selling them for four and a quarter cents an egg to the people in Malta I buy them from for seven cents an egg. Of course, I don’t make the profit. The syndicate makes the profit. And everybody has a share.’ Yossarian felt he was beginning to understand. ‘And the people you sell the eggs to at four and a quarter cents apiece make a profit of two and three quarter cents apiece when they sell them back to you at seven cents apiece. Is that right? Why don’t you sell the eggs directly to you and eliminate the people you buy them from?’
   ‘Because I’m the people I buy them from,’ Milo explained. ‘I make a profit of three and a quarter cents apiece when I sell them to me and a profit of two and three quarter cents apiece when I buy them back from me. That’s a total profit of six cents an egg. I lose only two cents an egg when I sell them to the mess halls at five cents apiece, and that’s how I can make a profit buying eggs for seven cents apiece and selling them for five cents apiece. I pay only one cent apiece at the hen when I buy them in Sicily.’
   ‘In Malta,’ Yossarian corrected. ‘You buy your eggs in Malta, not Sicily.’
   Milo chortled proudly. ‘I don’t buy eggs in Malta,’ he confessed, with an air of slight and clandestine amusement that was the only departure from industrious sobriety Yossarian had ever seen him make. ‘I buy them in Sicily for one cent apiece and transfer them to Malta secretly at four and a half cents apiece in order to get the price of eggs up to seven cents apiece when people come to Malta looking for them.’
   ‘Why do people come to Malta for eggs when they’re so expensive there?’
   ‘Because they’ve always done it that way.’
   ‘Why don’t they look for eggs in Sicily?’
   ‘Because they’ve never done it that way.’
   ‘Now I really don’t understand. Why don’t you sell your mess halls the eggs for seven cents apiece instead offor five cents apiece?’
   ‘Because my mess halls would have no need for me then. Anyone can buy seven-cents-apiece eggs for seven cents apiece.’
   ‘Why don’t they bypass you and buy the eggs directly from you in Malta at four and a quarter cents apiece?’
   ‘Because I wouldn’t sell it to them.’
   ‘Why wouldn’t you sell it to them?’
   ‘Because then there wouldn’t be as much room for profit. At least this way I can make a bit for myself as a middleman.’
   ‘Then you do make a profit for yourself,’ Yossarian declared.
   ‘Of course I do. But it all goes to the syndicate. And everybody has a share. Don’t you understand? It’s exactly what happens with those plum tomatoes I sell to Colonel Cathcart.’
   ‘Buy,’ Yossarian corrected him. ‘You don’t sell plum tomatoes to Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn. You buy plum tomatoes from them.’
   ‘No, sell,’ Milo corrected Yossarian. ‘I distribute my plum tomatoes in markets all over Pianosa under an assumed name so that Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn can buy them up from me under their assumed names at four cents apiece and sell them back to me the next day for the syndicate at five cents apiece. They make a profit of one cent apiece. I make a profit of three and a half cents apiece, and everybody comes out ahead.’
   ‘Everybody but the syndicate,’ said Yossarian with a snort. ‘The syndicate is paying five cents apiece for plum tomatoes that cost you only half a cent apiece. How does the syndicate benefit?’
   ‘The syndicate benefits when I benefit,’ Milo explained, ‘because everybody has a share. And the syndicate gets Colonel Cathcart’s and Colonel Korn’s support so that they’ll let me go out on trips like this one. You’ll see how much profit that can mean in about fifteen minutes when we land in Palermo.’
   ‘ Malta,’ Yossarian corrected him. ‘We’re flying to Malta now, not Palermo.’
   ‘No, we’re flying to Palermo,’ Milo answered. ‘There’s an endive exporter in Palermo I have to see for a minute about a shipment of mushrooms to Bern that were damaged by mold.’
   ‘ Milo, how do you do it?’ Yossarian inquired with laughing amazement and admiration. ‘You fill out a flight plan for one place and then you go to another. Don’t the people in the control towers ever raise hell?’
   ‘They all belong to the syndicate,’ Milo said. ‘And they know that what’s good for the syndicate is good for the country, because that’s what makes Sammy run. The men in the control towers have a share, too, and that’s why they always have to do whatever they can to help the syndicate.’
   ‘Do I have a share?’
   ‘Everybody has a share.’
   ‘Does Orr have a share?’
   ‘Everybody has a share.’
   ‘And Hungry Joe? He has a share, too?’
   ‘Everybody has a share.’
   ‘Well, I’ll be damned,’ mused Yossarian, deeply impressed with the idea of a share for the very first time.
   Milo turned toward him with a faint glimmer of mischief. ‘I have a sure-fire plan for cheating the federal government out of six thousand dollars. We can make three thousand dollars apiece without any risk to either of us. Are you interested?’
   ‘No.’ Milo looked at Yossarian with profound emotion. ‘That’s what I like about you,’ he exclaimed. ‘You’re honest! You’re the only one I know that I can really trust. That’s why I wish you’d try to be of more help to me. I really was disappointed when you ran off with those two tramps in Catania yesterday.’ Yossarian stared at Milo in quizzical disbelief. ‘ Milo, you told me to go with them. Don’t you remember?’
   ‘That wasn’t my fault,’ Milo answered with dignity. ‘I had to get rid of Orr some way once we reached town. It will be a lot different in Palermo. When we land in Palermo, I want you and Orr to leave with the girls right from the airport.’
   ‘With what girls?’
   ‘I radioed ahead and made arrangements with a four-year-old pimp to supply you and Orr with two eight-year-old virgins who are half Spanish. He’ll be waiting at the airport in a limousine. Go right in as soon as you step out of the plane.’
   ‘Nothing doing,’ said Yossarian, shaking his head. ‘The only place I’m going is to sleep.’ Milo turned livid with indignation, his slim long nose flickering spasmodically between his black eyebrows and his unbalanced orange-brown mustache like the pale, thin flame of a single candle. ‘Yossarian, remember your mission,’ he reminded reverently.
   ‘To hell with my mission,’ Yossarian responded indifferently. ‘And to hell with the syndicate too, even though I do have a share. I don’t want any eight-year-old virgins, even if they are half Spanish.’
   ‘I don’t blame you. But these eight-year-old virgins are really only thirty-two. And they’re not really half Spanish but only one-third Estonian.’
   ‘I don’t care for any virgins.’
   ‘And they’re not even virgins,’ Milo continued persuasively. ‘The one I picked out for you was married for a short time to an elderly schoolteacher who slept with her only on Sundays, so she’s really almost as good as new.’ But Orr was sleepy, too, and Yossarian and Orr were both at Milo’s side when they rode into the city of Palermo from the airport and discovered that there was no room for the two of them at the hotel there either, and, more important, that Milo was mayor.
   The weird, implausible reception for Milo began at the airfield, where civilian laborers who recognized him halted in their duties respectfully to gaze at him with full expressions of controlled exuberance and adulation. News of his arrival preceded him into the city, and the outskirts were already crowded with cheering citizens as they sped by in their small uncovered truck. Yossarian and Orr were mystified and mute and pressed close against Milo for security.
   Inside the city, the welcome for Milo grew louder as the truck slowed and eased deeper toward the middle of town. Small boys and girls had been released from school and were lining the sidewalks in new clothes, waving tiny flags. Yossarian and Orr were absolutely speechless now. The streets were jammed with joyous throngs, and strung overhead were huge banners bearing Milo’s picture. Milo had posed for these pictures in a drab peasant’s blouse with a high collar, and his scrupulous, paternal countenance was tolerant, wise, critical and strong as he stared out at the populace omnisciently with his undisciplined mustache and disunited eyes. Sinking invalids blew kisses to him from windows. Aproned shopkeepers cheered ecstatically from the narrow doorways of their shops. Tubas crumped. Here and there a person fell and was trampled to death. Sobbing old women swarmed through each other frantically around the slow-moving truck to touch Milo’s shoulder or press his hand. Milo bore the tumultuous celebrations with benevolent grace. He waved back to everyone in elegant reciprocation and showered generous handfuls of foilcovered Hershey kisses to the rejoicing multitudes. Lines of lusty young boys and girls skipped along behind him with their arms linked, chanting in hoarse and glassy-eyed adoration, ‘ Milo! Mi-lo! Mi-lo!’ Now that his secret was out, Milo relaxed with Yossarian and Orr and inflated opulently with a vast, shy pride. His cheeks turned flesh-colored. Milo had been elected mayor of Palermo —and of nearby Carini, Monreale, Bagheria, Termini Imerese, Cefalu, Mistretta and Nicosia as well—because he had brought Scotch to Sicily.
   Yossarian was amazed. ‘The people here like to drink Scotch that much?’
   ‘They don’t drink any of the Scotch,’ Milo explained. ‘Scotch is very expensive, and these people here are very poor.’
   ‘Then why do you import it to Sicily if nobody drinks any?’
   ‘To build up a price. I move the Scotch here from Malta to make more room for profit when I sell it back to me for somebody else. I created a whole new industry here. Today Sicily is the third largest exporter of Scotch in the world, and that’s why they elected me mayor.’
   ‘How about getting us a hotel room if you’re such a hotshot?’ Orr grumbled impertinently in a voice slurred with fatigue.
   Milo responded contritely. ‘That’s just what I’m going to do,’ he promised. ‘I’m really sorry about forgetting to radio ahead for hotel rooms for you two. Come along to my office and I’ll speak to my deputy mayor about it right now.’ Milo’s office was a barbershop, and his deputy mayor was a pudgy barber from whose obsequious lips cordial greetings foamed as effusively as the lather he began whipping up in Milo’s shaving cup.
   ‘Well, Vittorio,’ said Milo, settling back lazily in one of Vittorio’s barber chairs, ‘how were things in my absence this time?’
   ‘Very sad, Signor Milo, very sad. But now that you are back, the people are all happy again.’
   ‘I was wondering about the size of the crowds. How come all the hotels are full?’
   ‘Because so many people from other cities are here to see you, Signor Milo. And because we have all the buyers who have come into town for the artichoke auction.’ Milo’s hand soared up perpendicularly like an eagle and arrested Vittorio’s shaving brush. ‘What’s artichoke?’ he inquired.
   ‘Artichoke, Signor Milo? An artichoke is a very tasty vegetable that is popular everywhere. You must try some artichokes while you are here, Signor Milo. We grow the best in the world.’
   ‘Really?’ said Milo. ‘How much are artichokes selling for this year?’
   ‘It looks like a very good year for artichokes. The crops were very bad.’
   ‘Is that a fact?’ mused Milo, and was gone, sliding from his chair so swiftly that his striped barber’s apron retained his shape for a second or two after he had gone before it collapsed. Milo had vanished from sight by the time Yossarian and Orr rushed after him to the doorway.
   ‘Next?’ barked Milo’s deputy mayor officiously. ‘Who’s next?’ Yossarian and Orr walked from the barbershop in dejection. Deserted by Milo, they trudged homelessly through the reveling masses in futile search of a place to sleep. Yossarian was exhausted. His head throbbed with a dull, debilitating pain, and he was irritable with Orr, who had found two crab apples somewhere and walked with them in his cheeks until Yossarian spied them there and made him take them out. Then Orr found two horse chestnuts somewhere and slipped those in until Yossarian detected them and snapped at him again to take the crab apples out of his mouth. Orr grinned and replied that they were not crab apples but horse chestnuts and that they were not in his mouth but in his hands, but Yossarian was not able to understand a single word he said because of the horse chestnuts in his mouth and made him take them out anyway. A sly light twinkled in Orr’s eyes. He rubbed his forehead harshly with his knuckles, like a man in an alcoholic stupor, and snickered lewdly.
   ‘Do you remember that girl—’ He broke off to snicker lewdly again. ‘Do you remember that girl who was hitting me over the head with that shoe in that apartment in Rome, when we were both naked?’ he asked with a look of cunning expectation. He waited until Yossarian nodded cautiously. ‘If you let me put the chestnuts back in my mouth I’ll tell you why she was hitting me. Is that a deal?’ Yossarian nodded, and Orr told him the whole fantastic story of why the naked girl in Nately’s whore’s apartment was hitting him over the head with her shoe, but Yossarian was not able to understand a single word because the horse chestnuts were back in his mouth. Yossarian roared with exasperated laughter at the trick, but in the end there was nothing for them to do when night fell but eat a damp dinner in a dirty restaurant and hitch a ride back to the airfield, where they slept on the chill metal floor of the plane and turned and tossed in groaning torment until the truck drivers blasted up less than two hours later with their crates of artichokes and chased them out onto the ground while they filled up the plane. A heavy rain began falling. Yossarian and Orr were dripping wet by the time the trucks drove away and had no choice but to squeeze themselves back into the plane and roll themselves up like shivering anchovies between the jolting corners of the crates of artichokes that Milo flew up to Naples at dawn and exchanged for the cinnamon sticks, cloves, vanilla beans and pepper pods that he rushed right back down south with that same day to Malta, where, it turned out, he was Assistant Governor-General. There was no room for Yossarian and Orr in Malta either. Milo was Major Sir Milo Minderbinder in Malta and had a gigantic office in the governor-general’s building. His mahogany desk was immense. In a panel of the oak wall, between crossed British flags, hung a dramatic arresting photograph of Major Sir Milo Minderbinder in the dress uniform of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. His mustache in the photograph was clipped and narrow, his chin was chiseled, and his eyes were sharp as thorns. Milo had been knighted, commissioned a major in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and named Assistant Governor-General of Malta because he had brought the egg trade there. He gave Yossarian and Orr generous permission to spend the night on the thick carpet in his office, but shortly after he left a sentry in battle dress appeared and drove them from the building at the tip of his bayonet, and they rode out exhaustedly to the airport with a surly cab driver, who overcharged them, and went to sleep inside the plane again, which was filled now with leaking gunny sacks of cocoa and freshly ground coffee and reeking with an odor so rich that they were both outside retching violently against the landing gear when Milo was chauffeured up the first thing the next morning, looking fit as a fiddle, and took right off for Oran, where there was again no room at the hotel for Yossarian and Orr, and where Milo was Vice-Shah. Milo had at his disposal sumptuous quarters inside a salmon-pink palace, but Yossarian and Orr were not allowed to accompany him inside because they were Christian infidels. They were stopped at the gates by gargantuan Berber guards with scimitars and chased away. Orr was snuffling and sneezing with a crippling head cold. Yossarian’s broad back was bent and aching. He was ready to break Milo’s neck, but Milo was Vice-Shah of Oran and his person was sacred. Milo was not only the Vice-Shah of Oran, as it turned out, but also the Caliph of Baghdad, the Imam of Damascus, and the Sheik of Araby. Milo was the corn god, the rain god and the rice god in backward regions where such crude gods were still worshiped by ignorant and superstitious people, and deep inside the jungles of Africa, he intimated with becoming modesty, large graven images of his mustached face could be found overlooking primitive stone altars red with human blood. Everywhere they touched he was acclaimed with honor, and it was one triumphal ovation after another for him in city after city until they finally doubled back through the Middle East and reached Cairo, where Milo cornered the market on cotton that no one else in the world wanted and brought himself promptly to the brink of ruin. In Cairo there was at last room at the hotel for Yossarian and Orr. There were soft beds for them with fat fluffed-up pillows and clean, crisp sheets. There were closets with hangers for their clothes. There was water to wash with. Yossarian and Orr soaked their rancid, unfriendly bodies pink in a steaming-hot tub and then went from the hotel with Milo to eat shrimp cocktails and filet mignon in a very fine restaurant with a stock ticker in the lobby that happened to be clicking out the latest quotation for Egyptian cotton when Milo inquired of the captain of waiters what kind of machine it was. Milo had never imagined a machine so beautiful as a stock ticker before.
   ‘Really?’ he exclaimed when the captain of waiters had finished his explanation. ‘And how much is Egyptian cotton selling for?’ The captain of waiters told him, and Milo bought the whole crop.
   But Yossarian was not nearly so frightened by the Egyptian cotton Milo bought as he was by the bunches of green red bananas Milo had spotted in the native market place as they drove into the city, and his fears proved justified, for Milo shook him awake out of a deep sleep just after twelve and shoved a partly peeled banana toward him. Yossarian choked back a sob.
   ‘Taste it,’ Milo urged, following Yossarian’s writhing face around with the banana insistently.
   ‘ Milo, you bastard,’ moaned Yossarian, ‘I’ve got to get some sleep.’
   ‘Eat it and tell me if it’s good,’ Milo persevered. ‘Don’t tell Orr I gave it to you. I charged him two piasters for his.’ Yossarian ate the banana submissively and closed his eyes after telling Milo it was good, but Milo shook him awake again and instructed him to get dressed as quickly as he could, because they were leaving at once for Pianosa.
   ‘You and Orr have to load the bananas into the plane right away,’ he explained. ‘The man said to watch out for spiders while you’re handling the bunches.’
   ‘ Milo, can’t we wait until morning?’ Yossarian pleaded. ‘I’ve got to get some sleep.’
   ‘They’re ripening very quickly,’ answered Milo, ‘and we don’t have a minute to lose. Just think how happy the men back at the squadron will be when they get these bananas.’ But the men back at the squadron never even saw any of the bananas, for it was a seller’s market for bananas in Istanbul and a buyer’s market in Beirut for the caraway seeds Milo rushed with to Bengasi after selling the bananas, and when they raced back into Pianosa breathlessly six days later at the conclusion of Orr’s rest leave, it was with a load of best white eggs from Sicily that Milo said were from Egypt and sold to his mess halls for only four cents apiece so that all the commanding officers in his syndicate would implore him to speed right back to Cairo for more bunches of green red bananas to sell in Turkey for the caraway seeds in demand in Bengasi. And everybody had a share.
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Nately’s Old Man

   The only one back in the squadron who did see any of Milo’s red bananas was Aarfy, who picked up two from an influential fraternity brother of his in the Quartermaster Corps when the bananas ripened and began streaming into Italy through normal black-market channels and who was in the officer’s apartment with Yossarian the evening Nately finally found his whore again after so many fruitless weeks of mournful searching and lured her back to the apartment with two girl friends by promising them thirty dollars each.
   ‘Thirty dollars each?’ remarked Aarfy slowly, poking and patting each of the three strapping girls skeptically with the air of a grudging connoisseur. ‘Thirty dollars is a lot of money for pieces like these. Besides, I never paid for it in my life.’
   ‘I’m not asking you to pay for it,’ Nately assured him quickly. ‘I’ll pay for them all. I just want you guys to take the other two. Won’t you help me out?’ Aarfy smirked complacently and shook his soft round head. ‘Nobody has to pay for it for good old Aarfy. I can get all I want any time I want it. I’m just not in the mood right now.’
   ‘Why don’t you just pay all three and send the other two away?’ Yossarian suggested.
   ‘Because then mine will be angry with me for making her work for her money,’ Nately replied with an anxious look at his girl, who was glowering at him restlessly and starting to mutter. ‘She says that if I really like her I’d send her away and go to bed with one of the others.’
   ‘I have a better idea,’ boasted Aarfy. ‘Why don’t we keep the three of them here until after the curfew and then threaten to push them out into the street to be arrested unless they give us all their money? We can even threaten to push them out the window.’
   ‘Aarfy!’ Nately was aghast.
   ‘I was only trying to help,’ said Aarfy sheepishly. Aarfy was always trying to help Nately because Nately’s father was rich and prominent and in an excellent position to help Aarfy after the war. ‘Gee whiz,’ he defended himself querulously. ‘Back in school we were always doing things like that. I remember one day we tricked these two dumb high-school girls from town into the fraternity house and made them put out for all the fellows there who wanted them by threatening to call up their parents and say they were putting out for us. We kept them trapped in bed there for more than ten hours. We even smacked their faces a little when they started to complain. Then we took away their nickels and dimes and chewing gum and threw them out. Boy, we used to have fun in that fraternity house,’ he recalled peacefully, his corpulent cheeks aglow with the jovial, rubicund warmth of nostalgic recollection. ‘We used to ostracize everyone, even each other.’ But Aarfy was no help to Nately now as the girl Nately had fallen so deeply in love with began swearing at him sullenly with rising, menacing resentment. Luckily, Hungry Joe burst in just then, and everything was all right again, except that Dunbar staggered in drunk a minute later and began embracing one of the other giggling girls at once. Now there were four men and three girls, and the seven of them left Aarfy in the apartment and climbed into a horse-drawn cab, which remained at the curb at a dead halt while the girls demanded their money in advance. Nately gave them ninety dollars with a gallant flourish, after borrowing twenty dollars from Yossarian, thirty-five dollars from Dunbar and seventeen dollars from Hungry Joe. The girls grew friendlier then and called an address to the driver, who drove them at a clopping pace halfway across the city into a section they had never visited before and stopped in front of an old, tall building on a dark street. The girls led them up four steep, very long flights of creaking wooden stairs and guided them through a doorway into their own wonderful and resplendent tenement apartment, which burgeoned miraculously with an infinite and proliferating flow of supple young naked girls and contained the evil and debauched ugly old man who irritated Nately constantly with his caustic laughter and the clucking, proper old woman in the ash-gray woolen sweater who disapproved of everything immoral that occurred there and tried her best to tidy up.
   The amazing place was a fertile, seething cornucopia of female nipples and navels. At first, there were just their own three girls, in the dimly-lit, drab brown sitting room that stood at the juncture of three murky hallways leading in separate directions to the distant recesses of the strange and marvelous bordello. The girls disrobed at once, pausing in different stages to point proudly to their garish underthings and bantering all the while with the gaunt and dissipated old man with the shabby long white hair and slovenly white unbuttoned shirt who sat cackling lasciviously in a musty blue armchair almost in the exact center of the room and bade Nately and his companions welcome with a mirthful and sardonic formality. Then the old woman trudged out to get a girl for Hungry Joe, dipping her captious head sadly, and returned with two big-bosomed beauties, one already undressed and the other in only a transparent pink half slip that she wiggled out of while sitting down. Three more naked girls sauntered in from a different direction and remained to chat, then two others. Four more girls passed through the room in an indolent group, engrossed in conversation; three were barefoot and one wobbled perilously on a pair of unbuckled silver dancing shoes that did not seem to be her own. One more girl appeared wearing only panties and sat down, bringing the total congregating there in just a few minutes to eleven, all but one of them completely unclothed.
   There was bare flesh lounging everywhere, most of it plump, and Hungry Joe began to die. He stood stock still in rigid, cataleptic astonishment while the girls ambled in and made themselves comfortable. Then he let out a piercing shriek suddenly and bolted toward the door in a headlong dash back toward the enlisted men’s apartment for his camera, only to be halted in his tracks with another frantic shriek by the dreadful, freezing premonition that this whole lovely, lurid, rich and colorful pagan paradise would be snatched away from him irredeemably if he were to let it out of his sight for even an instant. He stopped in the doorway and sputtered, the wiry veins and tendons in his face and neck pulsating violently. The old man watched him with victorious merriment, sitting in his musty blue armchair like some satanic and hedonistic deity on a throne, a stolen U.S. Army blanket wrapped around his spindly legs to ward off a chill. He laughed quietly, his sunken, shrewd eyes sparkling perceptively with a cynical and wanton enjoyment. He had been drinking. Nately reacted on sight with bristling enmity to this wicked, depraved and unpatriotic old man who was old enough to remind him of his father and who made disparaging jokes about America.
   ‘ America,’ he said, ‘will lose the war. And Italy will win it.’
   ‘ America is the strongest and most prosperous nation on earth,’ Nately informed him with lofty fervor and dignity. ‘And the American fighting man is second to none.’
   ‘Exactly,’ agreed the old man pleasantly, with a hint of taunting amusement. ‘ Italy, on the other hand, is one of the least prosperous nations on earth. And the Italian fighting man is probably second to all. And that’s exactly why my country is doing so well in this war while your country is doing so poorly.’ Nately guffawed with surprise, then blushed apologetically for his impoliteness. ‘I’m sorry I laughed at you,’ he said sincerely, and he continued in a tone of respectful condescension. ‘But Italy was occupied by the Germans and is now being occupied by us. You don’t call that doing very well, do you?’
   ‘But of course I do,’ exclaimed the old man cheerfully. ‘The Germans are being driven out, and we are still here. In a few years you will be gone, too, and we will still be here. You see, Italy is really a very poor and weak country, and that’s what makes us so strong. Italian soldiers are not dying any more. But American and German soldiers are. I call that doing extremely well. Yes, I am quite certain that Italy will survive this war and still be in existence long after your own country has been destroyed.’ Nately could scarcely believe his ears. He had never heard such shocking blasphemies before, and he wondered with instinctive logic why G-men did not appear to lock the traitorous old man up. ‘ America is not going to be destroyed!’ he shouted passionately.
   ‘Never?’ prodded the old man softly.
   ‘Well…’ Nately faltered.
   The old man laughed indulgently, holding in check a deeper, more explosive delight. His goading remained gentle. ‘ Rome was destroyed, Greece was destroyed, Persia was destroyed, Spain was destroyed. All great countries are destroyed. Why not yours? How much longer do you really think your own country will last? Forever? Keep in mind that the earth itself is destined to be destroyed by the sun in twenty-five million years or so.’ Nately squirmed uncomfortably. ‘Well, forever is a long time, I guess.’
   ‘A million years?’ persisted the jeering old man with keen, sadistic zest. ‘A half million? The frog is almost five hundred million years old. Could you really say with much certainty that America, with all its strength and prosperity, with its fighting man that is second to none, and with its standard of living that is the highest in the world, will last as long as… the frog?’ Nately wanted to smash his leering face. He looked about imploringly for help in defending his country’s future against the obnoxious calumnies of this sly and sinful assailant. He was disappointed. Yossarian and Dunbar were busy in a far corner pawing orgiastically at four or five frolicsome girls and six bottles of red wine, and Hungry Joe had long since tramped away down one of the mystic hallways, propelling before him like a ravening despot as many of the broadest-hipped young prostitutes as he could contain in his frail wind-milling arms and cram into one double bed.
   Nately felt himself at an embarrassing loss. His own girl sat sprawled out gracelessly on an overstuffed sofa with an expression of otiose boredom. Nately was unnerved by her torpid indifference to him, by the same sleepy and inert poise that he remembered so vivdly, so sweetly, and so miserably from the first time she had seen him and ignored him at the packed penny-ante blackjack game in the living room of the enlisted men’s apartment. Her lax mouth hung open in a perfect O, and God alone knew at what her glazed and smoky eyes were staring in such brute apathy. The old man waited tranquilly, watching him with a discerning smile that was both scornful and sympathetic. A lissome, blond, sinuous girl with lovely legs and honey-colored skin laid herself out contentedly on the arm of the old man’s chair and began molesting his angular, pale, dissolute face languidly and coquettishly. Nately stiffened with resentment and hostility at the sight of such lechery in a man so old. He turned away with a sinking heart and wondered why he simply did not take his own girl and go to bed.
   This sordid, vulturous, diabolical old man reminded Nately of his father because the two were nothing at all alike. Nately’s father was a courtly white-haired gentleman who dressed impeccably; this old man was an uncouth bum. Nately’s father was a sober, philosophical and responsible man; this old man was fickle and licentious. Nately’s father was discreet and cultured; this old man was a boor. Nately’s father believed in honor and knew the answer to everything; this old man believed in nothing and had only questions. Nately’s father had a distinguished white mustache; this old man had no mustache at all. Nately’s father—and everyone else’s father Nately had ever met—was dignified, wise and venerable; this old man was utterly repellent, and Nately plunged back into debate with him, determined to repudiate his vile logic and insinuations with an ambitious vengeance that would capture the attention of the bored, phlegmatic girl he had fallen so intensely in love with and win her admiration forever.
   ‘Well, frankly, I don’t know how long America is going to last,’ he proceeded dauntlessly. ‘I suppose we can’t last forever if the world itself is going to be destroyed someday. But I do know that we’re going to survive and triumph for a long, long time.’
   ‘For how long?’ mocked the profane old man with a gleam of malicious elation. ‘Not even as long as the frog?’
   ‘Much longer than you or me,’ Nately blurted out lamely.
   ‘Oh, is that all! That won’t be very much longer then, considering that you’re so gullible and brave and that I am already such an old, old man.’
   ‘How old are you?’ Nately asked, growing intrigued and charmed with the old man in spite of himself.
   ‘A hundred and seven.’ The old man chuckled heartily at Nately’s look of chagrin. ‘I see you don’t believe that either.’
   ‘I don’t believe anything you tell me,’ Nately replied, with a bashful mitigating smile. ‘The only thing I do believe is that America is going to win the war.’
   ‘You put so much stock in winning wars,’ the grubby iniquitous old man scoffed. ‘The real trick lies in losing wars, in knowing which wars can be lost. Italy has been losing wars for centuries, and just see how splendidly we’ve done nonetheless. France wins wars and is in a continual state of crisis. Germany loses and prospers. Look at our own recent history. Italy won a war in Ethiopia and promptly stumbled into serious trouble. Victory gave us such insane delusions of grandeur that we helped start a world war we hadn’t a chance of winning. But now that we are losing again, everything has taken a turn for the better, and we will certainly come out on top again if we succeed in being defeated.’ Nately gaped at him in undisguised befuddlement. ‘Now I really don’t understand what you’re saying. You talk like a madman.’
   ‘But I live like a sane one. I was a fascist when Mussolini was on top, and I am an anti-fascist now that he has been deposed. I was fanatically pro-German when the Germans were here to protect us against the Americans, and now that the Americans are here to protect us against the Germans I am fanatically pro-American. I can assure you, my outraged young friend’—the old man’s knowing, disdainful eyes shone even more effervescently as Nately’s stuttering dismay increased—’that you and your country will have a no more loyal partisan in Italy than me—but only as long as you remain in Italy.’
   ‘But,’ Nately cried out in disbelief, ‘you’re a turncoat! A time-server! A shameful, unscrupulous opportunist!’
   ‘I am a hundred and seven years old,’ the old man reminded him suavely.
   ‘Don’t you have any principles?’
   ‘Of course not.’
   ‘No morality?’
   ‘Oh, I am a very moral man,’ the villainous old man assured him with satiric seriousness, stroking the bare hip of a buxom black-haired girl with pretty dimples who had stretched herself out seductively on the other arm of his chair. He grinned at Nately sarcastically as he sat between both naked girls in smug and threadbare splendor, with a sovereign hand on each.
   ‘I can’t believe it,’ Nately remarked grudgingly, trying stubbornly not to watch him in relationship to the girls. ‘I simply can’t believe it.’
   ‘But it’s perfectly true. When the Germans marched into the city, I danced in the streets like a youthful ballerina and shouted, "Heil Hitler!" until my lungs were hoarse. I even waved a small Nazi flag that I snatched away from a beautiful little girl while her mother was looking the other way. When the Germans left the city, I rushed out to welcome the Americans with a bottle of excellent brandy and a basket of flowers. The brandy was for myself, of course, and the flowers were to sprinkle upon our liberators. There was a very stiff and stuffy old major riding in the first car, and I hit him squarely in the eye with a red rose. A marvelous shot! You should have seen him wince.’ Nately gasped and was on his feet with amazement, the blood draining from his cheeks. ‘Major—de Coverley!’ he cried.
   ‘Do you know him?’ inquired the old man with delight. ‘What a charming coincidence!’ Nately was too astounded even to hear him. ‘So you’re the one who wounded Major – de Coverley!’ he exclaimed in horrified indignation. ‘How could you do such a thing?’ The fiendish old man was unperturbed. ‘How could I resist, you mean. You should have seen the arrogant old bore, sitting there so sternly in that car like the Almighty Himself, with his big, rigid head and his foolish, solemn face. What a tempting target he made! I got him in the eye with an American Beauty rose. I thought that was most appropriate. Don’t you?’
   ‘That was a terrible thing to do!’ Nately shouted at him reproachfully. ‘A vicious and criminal thing! Major—de Coverley is our squadron executive officer!’
   ‘Is he?’ teased the unregenerate old man, pinching his pointy jaw gravely in a parody of repentance. ‘In that case, you must give me credit for being impartial. When the Germans rode in, I almost stabbed a robust young Oberleutnant to death with a sprig of edelweiss.’ Nately was appalled and bewildered by the abominable old man’s inability to perceive the enormity of his offence. ‘Don’t you realize what you’ve done?’ he scolded vehemently. ‘Major—de Coverley is a noble and wonderful person, and everyone admires him.’
   ‘He’s a silly old fool who really has no right acting like a silly young fool. Where is he today? Dead?’ Nately answered softly with somber awe. ‘Nobody knows. He seems to have disappeared.’
   ‘You see? Imagine a man his age risking what little life he has left for something so absurd as a country.’ Nately was instantly up in arms again. ‘There is nothing so absurd about risking your life for your country!’ he declared.
   ‘Isn’t there?’ asked the old man. ‘What is a country? A country is a piece of land surrounded on all sides by boundaries, usually unnatural. Englishmen are dying for England, Americans are dying for America, Germans are dying for Germany, Russians are dying for Russia. There are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war. Surely so many countries can’t all be worth dying for.’
   ‘Anything worth living for,’ said Nately, ‘is worth dying for.’
   ‘And anything worth dying for,’ answered the sacrilegious old man, ‘is certainly worth living for. You know, you’re such a pure and naive young man that I almost feel sorry for you. How old are you? Twenty-five? Twenty-six?’
   ‘Nineteen,’ said Nately. ‘I’ll be twenty in January.’
   ‘If you live.’ The old man shook his head, wearing, for a moment, the same touchy, meditating frown of the fretful and disapproving old woman. ‘They are going to kill you if you don’t watch out, and I can see now that you are not going to watch out. Why don’t you use some sense and try to be more like me? You might live to be a hundred and seven, too.’
   ‘Because it’s better to die on one’s feet than live on one’s knees,’ Nately retorted with triumphant and lofty conviction. ‘I guess you’ve heard that saying before.’
   ‘Yes, I certainly have,’ mused the treacherous old man, smiling again. ‘But I’m afraid you have it backward. It is better to live on one’s feet than die on one’s knees. That is the way the saying goes.’
   ‘Are you sure?’ Nately asked with sober confusion. ‘It seems to make more sense my way.’
   ‘No, it makes more sense my way. Ask your friends.’ Nately turned to ask his friends and discovered they had gone. Yossarian and Dunbar had both disappeared. The old man roared with contemptuous merriment at Nately’s look of embarrassed surprise. Nately’s face darkened with shame. He vacillated helplessly for a few seconds and then spun himself around and fled inside the nearest of the hallways in search of Yossarian and Dunbar, hoping to catch them in time and bring them back to the rescue with news of the remarkable clash between the old man and Major—de Coverley. All the doors in the hallways were shut. There was light under none. It was already very late. Nately gave up his search forlornly. There was nothing left for him to do, he realized finally, but get the girl he was in love with and lie down with her somewhere to make tender, courteous love to her and plan their future together; but she had gone off to bed, too, by the time he returned to the sitting room for her, and there was nothing left for him to do then but resume his abortive discussion with the loathsome old man, who rose from his armchair with jesting civility and excused himself for the night, abandoning Nately there with two bleary-eyed girls who could not tell him into which room his own whore had gone and who padded off to bed several seconds later after trying in vain to interest him in themselves, leaving him to sleep alone in the sitting room on the small, lumpy sofa.
   Nately was a sensitive, rich, good-looking boy with dark hair, trusting eyes, and a pain in his neck when he awoke on the sofa early the next morning and wondered dully where he was. His nature was invariably gentle and polite. He had lived for almost twenty years without trauma, tension, hate, or neurosis, which was proof to Yossarian of just how crazy he really was. His childhood had been a pleasant, though disciplined, one. He got on well with his brothers and sisters, and he did not hate his mother and father, even though they had both been very good to him.
   Nately had been brought up to detest people like Aarfy, whom his mother characterized as climbers, and people like Milo, whom his father characterized as pushers, but he had never learned how, since he had never been permitted near them. As far as he could recall, his homes in Philadelphia, New York, Maine, Palm Beach, Southampton, London, Deauville, Paris and the south of France had always been crowded only with ladies and gentlemen who were not climbers or pushers. Nately’s mother, a descendant of the New England Thorntons, was a Daughter of the American Revolution. His father was a Son of a Bitch.
   ‘Always remember,’ his mother had reminded him frequently, ‘that you are a Nately. You are not a Vanderbilt, whose fortune was made by a vulgar tugboat captain, or a Rockefeller, whose wealth was amassed through unscrupulous speculations in crude petroleum; or a Reynolds or Duke, whose income was derived from the sale to the unsuspecting public of products containing cancer-causing resins and tars; and you are certainly not an Astor, whose family, I believe, still lets rooms. You are a Nately, and the Natelys have never done anything for their money.’
   ‘What your mother means, son,’ interjected his father affably one time with that flair for graceful and economical expression Nately admired so much, ‘is that old money is better than new money and that the newly rich are never to be esteemed as highly as the newly poor. Isn’t that correct, my dear?
   Nately’s father brimmed continually with sage and sophisticated counsel of that kind. He was as ebullient and ruddy as mulled claret, and Nately liked him a great deal, although he did not like mulled claret. When war broke out, Nately’s family decided that he would enlist in the armed forces, since he was too young to be placed in the diplomatic service, and since his father had it on excellent authority that Russia was going to collapse in a matter of weeks or months and that Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, Mussolini, Gandhi, Franco, Peron and the Emperor of Japan would then all sign a peace treaty and live together happily ever after. It was Nately’s father’s idea that he join the Air Corps, where he could train safely as a pilot while the Russians capitulated and the details of the armistice were worked out, and where, as an officer, he would associate only with gentlemen.
   Instead, he found himself with Yossarian, Dunbar and Hungry Joe in a whore house in Rome, poignantly in love with an indifferent girl there with whom he finally did lie down the morning after the night he slept alone in the sitting room, only to be interrupted almost immediately by her incorrigible kid sister, who came bursting in without warning and hurled herself onto the bed jealously so that Nately could embrace her, too. Nately’s whore sprang up snarling to whack her angrily and jerked her to her feet by her hair. The twelve-year-old girl looked to Nately like a plucked chicken or like a twig with the bark peeled off her sapling body embarrassed everyone in her precocious attempts to imitate her elders, and she was always being chased away to put clothes on and ordered out into the street to play in the fresh air with the other children. The two sisters swore and spat at each other now savagely, raising a fluent, deafening commotion that brought a whole crowd of hilarious spectators swarming into the room. Nately gave up in exasperation. He asked his girl to get dressed and took her downstairs for breakfast. The kid sister tagged along, and Nately felt like the proud head of a family as the three of them ate respectably in a nearby open-air café. But Nately’s whore was already bored by the time they started back, and she decided to go streetwalking with two other girls rather than spend more time with him. Nately and the kid sister followed meekly a block behind, the ambitious youngster to pick up valuable pointers, Nately to eat his liver in mooning frustration, and both were saddened when the girls were stopped by soldiers in a staff car and driven away.
   Nately went back to the café and bought the kid sister chocolate ice cream until her spirits improved and then returned with her to the apartment, where Yossarian and Dunbar were flopped out in the sitting room with an exhausted Hungry Joe, who was still wearing on his battered face the blissful, numb, triumphant smile with which he had limped into view from his massive harem that morning like a person with numerous broken bones. The lecherous and depraved old man was delighted with Hungry Joe’s split lips and black-and-blue eyes. He greeted Nately warmly, still wearing the same rumpled clothes of the evening before. Nately was profoundly upset by his seedy and disreputable appearance, and whenever he came to the apartment he wished that the corrupt, immoral old man would put on a clean Brooks Brothers shirt, shave, comb his hair, wear a tweed jacket, and grow a dapper white mustache so that Nately would not have to suffer such confusing shame each time he looked at him and was reminded of his father.
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Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
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Milo

   April had been the best month of all for Milo. Lilacs bloomed in April and fruit ripened on the vine. Heartbeats quickened and old appetites were renewed. In April a livelier iris gleamed upon the burnished dove. April was spring, and in the spring Milo Minderbinder’s fancy had lightly turned to thoughts of tangerines.
   ‘Tangerines?’
   ‘Yes, sir.’
   ‘My men would love tangerines,’ admitted the colonel in Sardinia who commanded four squadrons of B-26s.
   ‘There’ll be all the tangerines they can eat that you’re able to pay for with money from your mess fund,’ Milo assured him.
   ‘Casaba melons?’
   ‘Are going for a song in Damascus.’
   ‘I have a weakness for casaba melons. I’ve always had a weakness for casaba melons.’
   ‘Just lend me one plane from each squadron, just one plane, and you’ll have all the casabas you can eat that you’ve money to pay for.’
   ‘We buy from the syndicate?’
   ‘And everybody has a share.’
   ‘It’s amazing, positively amazing. How can you do it?’
   ‘Mass purchasing power makes the big difference. For example, breaded veal cutlets.’
   ‘I’m not so crazy about breaded veal cutlets,’ grumbled the skeptical B-25 commander in the north of Corsica.
   ‘Breaded veal cutlets are very nutritious,’ Milo admonished him piously. ‘They contain egg yolk and bread crumbs. And so are lamb chops.’
   ‘Ah, lamb chops,’ echoed the B-25 commander. ‘Good lamb chops?’
   ‘The best,’ said Milo, ‘that the black market has to offer.’
   ‘Baby lamb chops?’
   ‘In the cutest little pink paper panties you ever saw. Are going for a song in Portugal.’
   ‘I can’t send a plane to Portugal. I haven’t the authority.’
   ‘I can, once you lend the plane to me. With a pilot to fly it. And don’t forget—you’ll get General Dreedle.’
   ‘Will General Dreedle eat in my mess hall again?’
   ‘Like a pig, once you start feeding him my best white fresh eggs fried in my pure creamery butter. There’ll be tangerines too, and casaba melons, honeydews, filet of Dover sole, baked Alaska, and cockles and mussels.’
   ‘And everybody has a share?’
   ‘That,’ said Milo, ‘is the most beautiful part of it.’
   ‘I don’t like it,’ growled the unco-operative fighter-plane commander, who didn’t like Milo either.
   ‘There’s an unco-operative fighter-plane commander up north who’s got it in for me,’ Milo complained to General Dreedle. ‘It takes just one person to ruin the whole thing, and then you wouldn’t have your fresh eggs fried in my pure creamery butter any more.’ General Dreedle had the unco-operative fighter-plane commander transferred to the Solomon Islands to dig graves and replaced him with a senile colonel with bursitis and a craving for litchi nuts who introduced Milo to the B-17 general on the mainland with a yearning for Polish sausage.
   ‘Polish sausage is going for peanuts in Cracow,’ Milo informed him.
   ‘Polish sausage,’ sighed the general nostalgically. ‘You know, I’d give just about anything for a good hunk of Polish sausage. Just about anything.’
   ‘You don’t have to give anything. Just give me one plane for each mess hall and a pilot who will do what he’s told. And a small down payment on your initial order as a token of good faith.’
   ‘But Cracow is hundreds of miles behind the enemy lines. How will you get to the sausage?’
   ‘There’s an international Polish sausage exchange in Geneva. I’ll just fly the peanuts into Switzerland and exchange them for Polish sausage at the open market rate. They’ll fly the peanuts back to Cracow and I’ll fly the Polish sausage back to you. You buy only as much Polish sausage as you want through the syndicate. There’ll be tangerines too, with only a little artificial coloring added. And eggs from Malta and Scotch from Sicily. You’ll be paying the money to yourself when you buy from the syndicate, since you’ll own a share, so you’ll really be getting everything you buy for nothing. Doesn’t that makes sense?’
   ‘Sheer genius. How in the world did you ever think of it?’
   ‘My name is Milo Minderbinder. I am twenty-seven years old.’ Milo Minderbinder’s planes flew in from everywhere, the pursuit planes, bombers, and cargo ships streaming into Colonel Cathcart’s field with pilots at the controls who would do what they were told. The planes were decorated with flamboyant squadron emblems illustrating such laudable ideals as Courage, Might, Justice, Truth, Liberty, Love, Honor and Patriotism that were painted out at once by Milo’s mechanics with a double coat of flat white and replaced in garish purple with the stenciled name M & M ENTERPRISES, FINE FRUITS AND PRODUCE. The ‘M & M’ In ‘M & M ENTERPRISES’ stood for Milo & Minderbinder, and the & was inserted, Milo revealed candidly, to nullify any impression that the syndicate was a one-man operation. Planes arrived for Milo from airfields in Italy, North Africa and England, and from Air Transport Command stations in Liberia, Ascension Island, Cairo, and Karachi. Pursuit planes were traded for additional cargo ships or retained for emergency invoice duty and small-parcel service; trucks and tanks were procured from the ground forces and used for short-distance road hauling. Everybody had a share, and men got fat and moved about tamely with toothpicks in their greasy lips. Milo supervised the whole expanding operation by himself. Deep otter-brown lines of preoccupation etched themselves permanently into his careworn face and gave him a harried look of sobriety and mistrust. Everybody but Yossarian thought Milo was a jerk, first for volunteering for the job of mess officer and next for taking it so seriously. Yossarian also thought that Milo was a jerk; but he also knew that Milo was a genius.
   One day Milo flew away to England to pick up a load of Turkish halvah and came flying back from Madagascar leading four German bombers filled with yams, collards, mustard greens and black-eyed Georgia peas. Milo was dumbfounded when he stepped down to the ground and found a contingent of armed M.P.s waiting to imprison the German pilots and confiscate their planes. Confiscate! The mere word was anathema to him, and he stormed back and forth in excoriating condemnation, shaking a piercing finger of rebuke in the guilt-ridden faces of Colonel Cathcart, Colonel Korn and the poor battle-scarred captain with the submachine gun who commanded the M.P.s.
   ‘Is this Russia?’ Milo assailed them incredulously at the top of his voice. ‘Confiscate?’ he shrieked, as though he could not believe his own ears. ‘Since when is it the policy of the American government to confiscate the private property of its citizens? Shame on you! Shame on all of you for even thinking such a horrible thought.’
   ‘But Milo,’ Major Danby interrupted timidly, ‘we’re at war with Germany, and those are German planes.’
   ‘They are no such thing!’ Milo retorted furiously. ‘Those planes belong to the syndicate, and everybody has a share. Confiscate? How can you possibly confiscate your own private property? Confiscate, indeed! I’ve never heard anything so depraved in my whole life.’ And sure enough, Milo was right, for when they looked, his mechanics had painted out the German swastikas on the wings, tails and fuselages with double coats of flat white and stenciled in the words M & M ENTERPRISES, FINE FRUITS AND PRODUCE. Right before their eyes he had transformed his syndicate into an international cartel.
   Milo’s argosies of plenty now filled the air. Planes poured in from Norway, Denmark, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Sweden, Finland, Poland—from everywhere in Europe, in fact, but Russia, with whom Milo refused to do business. When everybody who was going to had signed up with M & M Enterprises, Fine Fruits and Produce, Milo created a wholly owned subsidiary, M & M Fancy Pastry, and obtained more airplanes and more money from the mess funds for scones and crumpets from the British Isles, prune and cheese Danish from Copenhagen, éclairs, cream puffs, Napoleons and petits fours from Paris, Reims and Grenoble, Kugelhopf, pumpernickel and Pfefferkuchen from Berlin, Linzer and Dobos Torten from Vienna, Strudel from Hungary and baklava from Ankara. Each morning Milo sent planes aloft all over Europe and North Africa hauling long red tow signs advertising the day’s specials in large square letters: ‘EYEROUND, 79¢… WHITING, 21¢.’ He boosted cash income for the syndicate by leasing tow signs to Pet Milk, Gaines Dog Food, and Noxzema. In a spirit of civic enterprise, he regularly allotted a certain amount of free aerial advertising space to General Peckem for the propagation of such messages in the public interest as NEATNESS COUNTS, HASTE MAKES WASTE, and THE FAMILY THAT PRAYS TOGETHER STAYS TOGETHER. Milo purchased spot radio announcements on Axis Sally’s and Lord Haw Haw’s daily propaganda broadcasts from Berlin to keep things moving. Business boomed on every battlefront.
   Milo’s planes were a familiar sight. They had freedom of passage everywhere, and one day Milo contracted with the American military authorities to bomb the German-held highway bridge at Orvieto and with the German military authorities to defend the highway bridge at Orvieto with antiaircraft fire against his own attack. His fee for attacking the bridge for America was the total cost of the operation plus six per cent and his fee from Germany for defending the bridge was the same cost-plus-six agreement augmented by a merit bonus of a thousand dollars for every American plane he shot down. The consummation of these deals represented an important victory for private enterprise, he pointed out, since the armies of both countries were socialized institutions. Once the contracts were signed, there seemed to be no point in using the resources of the syndicate to bomb and defend the bridge, inasmuch as both governments had ample men and material right there to do so and were perfectly happy to contribute them, and in the end Milo realized a fantastic profit from both halves of his project for doing nothing more than signing his name twice.
   The arrangements were fair to both sides. Since Milo did have freedom of passage everywhere, his planes were able to steal over in a sneak attack without alerting the German antiaircraft gunners; and since Milo knew about the attack, he was able to alert the German antiaircraft gunners in sufficient time for them to begin firing accurately the moment the planes came into range. It was an ideal arrangement for everyone but the dead man in Yossarian’s tent, who was killed over the target the day he arrived.
   ‘I didn’t kill him!’ Milo kept replying passionately to Yossarian’s angry protest. ‘I wasn’t even there that day, I tell you. Do you think I was down there on the ground firing an antiaircraft gun when the planes came over?’
   ‘But you organized the whole thing, didn’t you?’ Yossarian shouted back at him in the velvet darkness cloaking the path leading past the still vehicles of the motor pool to the open-air movie theater.
   ‘And I didn’t organize anything,’ Milo answered indignantly, drawing great agitated sniffs of air in through his hissing, pale, twitching nose. ‘The Germans have the bridge, and we were going to bomb it, whether I stepped into the picture or not. I just saw a wonderful opportunity to make some profit out of the mission, and I took it. What’s so terrible about that?’
   ‘What’s so terrible about it? Milo, a man in my tent was killed on that mission before he could even unpack his bags.’
   ‘But I didn’t kill him.’
   ‘You got a thousand dollars extra for it.’
   ‘But I didn’t kill him. I wasn’t even there, I tell you. I was in Barcelona buying olive oil and skinless and boneless sardines, and I’ve got the purchase orders to prove it. And I didn’t get the thousand dollars. That thousand dollars went to the syndicate, and everybody got a share, even you.’ Milo was appealing to Yossarian from the bottom of his soul. ‘Look, I didn’t start this war, Yossarian, no matter what that lousy Wintergreen is saying. I’m just trying to put it on a businesslike basis. Is anything wrong with that? You know, a thousand dollars ain’t such a bad price for a medium bomber and a crew. If I can persuade the Germans to pay me a thousand dollars for every plane they shoot down, why shouldn’t I take it?’
   ‘Because you’re dealing with the enemy, that’s why. Can’t you understand that we’re fighting a war? People are dying. Look around you, for Christ’s sake!’ Milo shook his head with weary forbearance. ‘And the Germans are not our enemies,’ he declared. ‘Oh I know what you’re going to say. Sure, we’re at war with them. But the Germans are also members in good standing of the syndicate, and it’s my job to protect their rights as shareholders. Maybe they did start the war, and maybe they are killing millions of people, but they pay their bills a lot more promptly than some allies of ours I could name. Don’t you understand that I have to respect the sanctity of my contract with Germany? Can’t you see it from my point of view?’
   ‘No,’ Yossarian rebuffed him harshly.
   Milo was stung and made no effort to disguise his wounded feelings. It was a muggy, moonlit night filled with gnats, moths, and mosquitoes. Milo lifted his arm suddenly and pointed toward the open-air theater, where the milky, dust-filled beam bursting horizontally from the projector slashed a conelike swath in the blackness and draped in a fluorescent membrane of light the audience tilted on the seats there in hypnotic sags, their faces focused upward toward the aluminized movie screen. Milo’s eyes were liquid with integrity, and his artless and uncorrupted face was lustrous with a shining mixture of sweat and insect repellent.
   ‘Look at them,’ he exclaimed in a voice choked with emotion. ‘They’re my friends, my countrymen, my comrades in arms. A fellow never had a better bunch of buddies. Do you think I’d do a single thing to harm them if I didn’t have to? Haven’t I got enough on my mind? Can’t you see how upset I am already about all that cotton piling up on those piers in Egypt?’ Milo’s voice splintered into fragments, and he clutched at Yossarian’s shirt front as though drowning. His eyes were throbbing visibly like brown caterpillars. ‘Yossarian, what am I going to do with so much cotton? It’s all your fault for letting me buy it.’ The cotton was piling up on the piers in Egypt, and nobody wanted any. Milo had never dreamed that the Nile Valley could be so fertile or that there would be no market at all for the crop he had bought. The mess halls in his syndicate would not help; they rose up in uncompromising rebellion against his proposal to tax them on a per capita basis in order to enable each man to own his own share of the Egyptian cotton crop. Even his reliable friends the Germans failed him in this crisis: they preferred ersatz. Milo’s mess halls would not even help him store the cotton, and his warehousing costs skyrocketed and contributed to the devastating drain upon his cash reserves. The profits from the Orvieto mission were sucked away. He began writing home for the money he had sent back in better days; soon that was almost gone. And new bales of cotton kept arriving on the wharves at Alexandria every day. Each time he succeeded in dumping some on the world market for a loss it was snapped up by canny Egyptian brokers in the Levant, who sold it back to him at the original price, so that he was really worse off than before.
   M & M Enterprises verged on collapse. Milo cursed himself hourly for his monumental greed and stupidity in purchasing the entire Egyptian cotton crop, but a contract was a contract and had to be honored, and one night, after a sumptuous evening meal, all Milo’s fighters and bombers took off, joined in formation directly overhead and began dropping bombs on the group. He had landed another contract with the Germans, this time to bomb his own outfit. Milo’s planes separated in a well co-ordinated attack and bombed the fuel stocks and the ordnance dump, the repair hangars and the B-25 bombers resting on the lollipop-shaped hardstands at the field. His crews spared the landing strip and the mess halls so that they could land safely when their work was done and enjoy a hot snack before retiring. They bombed with their landing lights on, since no one was shooting back. They bombed all four squadrons, the officers’ club and the Group Headquarters building. Men bolted from their tents in sheer terror and did not know in which direction to turn. Wounded soon lay screaming everywhere. A cluster of fragmentation bombs exploded in the yard of the officers’ club and punched jagged holes in the side of the wooden building and in the bellies and backs of a row of lieutenants and captains standing at the bar. They doubled over in agony and dropped. The rest of the officers fled toward the two exits in panic and jammed up the doorways like a dense, howling dam of human flesh as they shrank from going farther.
   Colonel Cathcart clawed and elbowed his way through the unruly, bewildered mass until he stood outside by himself. He stared up at the sky in stark astonishment and horror. Milo’s planes, ballooning serenely in over the blossoming treetops with their bomb bay doors open and wing flaps down and with their monstrous, bug-eyed, blinding, fiercely flickering, eerie landing lights on, were the most apocalyptic sight he had ever beheld. Colonel Cathcart let go a stricken gasp of dismay and hurled himself headlong into his jeep, almost sobbing. He found the gas pedal and the ignition and sped toward the airfield as fast as the rocking car would carry him, his huge flabby hands clenched and bloodless on the wheel or blaring his horn tormentedly. Once he almost killed himself when he swerved with a banshee screech of tires to avoid plowing into a bunch of men running crazily toward the hills in their underwear with their stunned faces down and their thin arms pressed high around their temples as puny shields. Yellow, orange and red fires were burning on both sides of the road. Tents and trees were in flames, and Milo’s planes kept coming around interminably with their blinking white landing lights on and their bomb bay doors open. Colonel Cathcart almost turned the jeep over when he slammed the brakes on at the control tower. He leaped from the car while it was still skidding dangerously and hurtled up the flight of steps inside, where three men were busy at the instruments and the controls. He bowled two of them aside in his lunge for the nickel-plated microphone, his eyes glittering wildly and his beefy face contorted with stress. He squeezed the microphone in a bestial grip and began shouting hysterically at the top of his voice.
   ‘ Milo, you son of a bitch! Are you crazy? What the hell are you doing? Come down! Come down!’
   ‘Stop hollering so much, will you?’ answered Milo, who was standing there right beside him in the control tower with a microphone of his own. ‘I’m right here.’ Milo looked at him with reproof and turned back to his work. ‘Very good, men, very good,’ he chanted into his microphone. ‘But I see one supply shed still standing. That will never do, Purvis—I’ve spoken to you about that kind of shoddy work before. Now, you go right back there this minute and try it again. And this time come in slowly… slowly. Haste makes waste, Purvis. Haste makes waste. If I’ve told you that once, I must have told you that a hundred times. Haste makes waste.’ The loudspeaker overhead began squawking. ‘ Milo, this is Alvin Brown. I’ve finished dropping my bombs. What should I do now?’
   ‘Strafe,’ said Milo.
   ‘Strafe?’ Alvin Brown was shocked.
   ‘We have no choice,’ Milo informed him resignedly. ‘It’s in the contract.’
   ‘Oh, okay, then,’ Alvin Brown acquiesced. ‘In that case I’ll strafe.’ This time Milo had gone too far. Bombing his own men and planes was more than even the most phlegmatic observer could stomach, and it looked like the end for him. High-ranking government officials poured in to investigate. Newspapers inveighed against Milo with glaring headlines, and Congressmen denounced the atrocity in stentorian wrath and clamored for punishment. Mothers with children in the service organized into militant groups and demanded revenge. Not one voice was raised in his defense. Decent people everywhere were affronted, and Milo was all washed up until he opened his books to the public and disclosed the tremendous profit he had made. He could reimburse the government for all the people and property he had destroyed and still have enough money left over to continue buying Egyptian cotton. Everybody, of course, owned a share. And the sweetest part of the whole deal was that there really was no need to reimburse the government at all.
   ‘In a democracy, the government is the people,’ Milo explained. ‘We’re people, aren’t we? So we might just as well keep the money and eliminate the middleman. Frankly, I’d like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry. If we pay the government everything we owe it, we’ll only be encouraging government control and discouraging other individuals from bombing their own men and planes. We’ll be taking away their incentive.’ Milo was correct, of course, as everyone soon agreed but a few embittered misfits like Doc Daneeka, who sulked cantankerously and muttered offensive insinuations about the morality of the whole venture until Milo mollified him with a donation, in the name of the syndicate, of a lightweight aluminum collapsible garden chair that Doc Daneeka could fold up conveniently and carry outside his tent each time Chief White Halfoat came inside his tent and carry back inside his tent each time Chief White Halfoat came out. Doc Daneeka had lost his head during Milo’s bombardment; instead of running for cover, he had remained out in the open and performed his duty, slithering along the ground through shrapnel, strafing and incendiary bombs like a furtive, wily lizard from casualty to casualty, administering tourniquets, morphine, splints and sulfanilamide with a dark and doleful visage, never saying one word more than he had to and reading in each man’s bluing wound a dreadful portent of his own decay. He worked himself relentlessly into exhaustion before the long night was over and came down with a snife the next day that sent him hurrying querulously into the medical tent to have his temperature taken by Gus and Wes and to obtain a mustard plaster and vaporizer.
   Doc Daneeka tended each moaning man that night with the same glum and profound and introverted grief he showed at the airfield the day of the Avignon mission when Yossarian climbed down the few steps of his plane naked, in a state of utter shock, with Snowden smeared abundantly all over his bare heels and toes, knees, arms and fingers, and pointed inside wordlessly toward where the young radio-gunner lay freezing to death on the floor beside the still younger tail-gunner who kept falling back into a dead faint each time he opened his eyes and saw Snowden dying.
   Doc Daneeka draped a blanket around Yossarian’s shoulders almost tenderly after Snowden had been removed from the plane and carried into an ambulance on a stretcher. He led Yossarian toward his jeep. McWatt helped, and the three drove in silence to the squadron medical tent, where McWatt and Doc Daneeka guided Yossarian inside to a chair and washed Snowden off him with cold wet balls of absorbent cotton. Doc Daneeka gave him a pill and a shot that put him to sleep for twelve hours. When Yossarian woke up and went to see him, Doc Daneeka gave him another pill and a shot that put him to sleep for another twelve hours. When Yossarian woke up again and went to see him, Doc Daneeka made ready to give him another pill and a shot.
   ‘How long are you going to keep giving me those pills and shots?’ Yossarian asked him.
   ‘Until you feel better.’
   ‘I feel all right now.’ Doc Daneeka’s frail suntanned forehead furrowed with surprise. ‘Then why don’t you put some clothes on? Why are you walking around naked?’
   ‘I don’t want to wear a uniform any more.’ Doc Daneeka accepted the explanation and put away his hypodermic syringe. ‘Are you sure you feel all right?’
   ‘I feel fine. I’m just a little logy from all those pills and shots you’ve been giving me.’ Yossarian went about his business with no clothes on all the rest of that day and was still naked late the next morning when Milo, after hunting everywhere else, finally found him sitting up a tree a small distance in back of the quaint little military cemetery at which Snowden was being buried. Milo was dressed in his customary business attire—olive-drab trousers, a fresh olive-drab shirt and tie, with one silver first lieutenant’s bar gleaming on the collar, and a regulation dress cap with a stiff leather bill.
   ‘I’ve been looking all over for you,’ Milo called up to Yossarian from the ground reproachfully.
   ‘You should have looked for me in this tree,’ Yossarian answered. ‘I’ve been up here all morning.’
   ‘Come on down and taste this and tell me if it’s good. It’s very important.’ Yossarian shook his head. He sat nude on the lowest limb of the tree and balanced himself with both hands grasping the bough directly above. He refused to budge, and Milo had no choice but to stretch both arms about the trunk in a distasteful hug and start climbing. He struggled upward clumsily with loud grunts and wheezes, and his clothes were squashed and crooked by the time he pulled himself up high enough to hook a leg over the limb and pause for breath. His dress cap was askew and in danger of falling. Milo caught it just in time when it began slipping. Globules of perspiration glistened like transparent pearls around his mustache and swelled like opaque blisters under his eyes. Yossarian watched him impassively. Cautiously Milo worked himself around in a half circle so that he could face Yossarian. He unwrapped tissue paper from something soft, round and brown and handed it to Yossarian.
   ‘Please taste this and let me know what you think. I’d like to serve it to the men.’
   ‘What is it?’ asked Yossarian, and took a big bite.
   ‘Chocolate-covered cotton.’ Yossarian gagged convulsively and sprayed his big mouthful of chocolate-covered cotton right into Milo’s face. ‘Here, take it back!’ he spouted angrily. ‘Jesus Christ! Have you gone crazy? You didn’t even take the goddam seeds out.’
   ‘Give it a chance, will you?’ Milo begged. ‘It can’t be that bad. Is it really that bad?’
   ‘It’s even worse.’
   ‘But I’ve got to make the mess halls feed it to the men.’
   ‘They’ll never be able to swallow it.’
   ‘They’ve got to swallow it,’ Milo ordained with dictatorial grandeur, and almost broke his neck when he let go with one arm to wave a righteous finger in the air.
   ‘Come on out here,’ Yossarian invited him. ‘You’ll be much safer, and you can see everything.’ Gripping the bough above with both hands, Milo began inching his way out on the limb sideways with utmost care and apprehension. His face was rigid with tension, and he sighed with relief when he found himself seated securely beside Yossarian. He stroked the tree affectionately. ‘This is a pretty good tree,’ he observed admiringly with proprietary gratitude.
   ‘It’s the tree of life,’ Yossarian answered, waggling his toes, ‘and of knowledge of good and evil, too.’ Milo squinted closely at the bark and branches. ‘No it isn’t,’ he replied. ‘It’s a chestnut tree. I ought to know. I sell chestnuts.’
   ‘Have it your way.’ They sat in the tree without talking for several seconds, their legs dangling and their hands almost straight up on the bough above, the one completely nude but for a pair of crepe-soled sandals, the other completely dressed in a coarse olive-drab woolen uniform with his tie knotted tight. Milo studied Yossarian diffidently through the corner of his eye, hesitating tactfully.
   ‘I want to ask you something,’ he said at last. ‘You don’t have any clothes on. I don’t want to butt in or anything, but I just want to know. Why aren’t you wearing your uniform?’
   ‘I don’t want to.’ Milo nodded rapidly like a sparrow pecking. ‘I see, I see,’ he stated quickly with a look of vivid confusion. ‘I understand perfectly. I heard Appleby and Captain Black say you had gone crazy, and I just wanted to find out.’ He hesitated politely again, weighing his next question. ‘Aren’t you ever going to put your uniform on again?’
   ‘I don’t think so.’ Milo nodded with spurious vim to indicate he still understood and then sat silent, ruminating gravely with troubled misgiving. A scarlet-crested bird shot by below, brushing sure dark wings against a quivering bush. Yossarian and Milo were covered in their bower by tissue-thin tiers of sloping green and largely surrounded by other gray chestnut trees and a silver spruce. The sun was high overhead in a vast sapphire-blue sky beaded with low, isolated, puffy clouds of dry and immaculate white. There was no breeze, and the leaves about them hung motionless. The shade was feathery. Everything was at peace but Milo, who straightened suddenly with a muffled cry and began pointing excitedly.
   ‘Look at that!’ he exclaimed in alarm. ‘Look at that! That’s a funeral going on down there. That looks like the cemetery. Isn’t it?’ Yossarian answered him slowly in a level voice. ‘They’re burying that kid who got killed in my plane over Avignon the other day. Snowden.’
   ‘What happened to him?’ Milo asked in a voice deadened with awe.
   ‘He got killed.’
   ‘That’s terrible,’ Milo grieved, and his large brown eyes filled with tears. ‘That poor kid. It really is terrible.’ He bit his trembling lip hard, and his voice rose with emotion when he continued. ‘And it will get even worse if the mess halls don’t agree to buy my cotton. Yossarian, what’s the matter with them? Don’t they realize it’s their syndicate? Don’t they know they’ve all got a share?’
   ‘Did the dead man in my tent have a share?’ Yossarian demanded caustically.
   ‘Of course he did,’ Milo assured him lavishly. ‘Everybody in the squadron has a share.’
   ‘He was killed before he even got into the squadron.’ Milo made a deft grimace of tribulation and turned away. ‘I wish you’d stop picking on me about that dead man in your tent,’ he pleaded peevishly. ‘I told you I didn’t have anything to do with killing him. Is it my fault that I saw this great opportunity to corner the market on Egyptian cotton and got us into all this trouble? Was I supposed to know there was going to be a glut? I didn’t even know what a glut was in those days. An opportunity to corner a market doesn’t come along very often, and I was pretty shrewd to grab the chance when I had it.’ Milo gulped back a moan as he saw six uniformed pallbearers lift the plain pine coffin from the ambulance and set it gently down on the ground beside the yawning gash of the freshly dug grave. ‘And now I can’t get rid of a single penny’s worth,’ he mourned.
   Yossarian was unmoved by the fustian charade of the burial ceremony, and by Milo’s crushing bereavement. The chaplain’s voice floated up to him through the distance tenuously in an unintelligible, almost inaudible monotone, like a gaseous murmur. Yossarian could make out Major Major by his towering and lanky aloofness and thought he recognized Major Danby mopping his brow with a handkerchief. Major Danby had not stopped shaking since his run-in with General Dreedle. There were strands of enlisted men molded in a curve around the three officers, as inflexible as lumps of wood, and four idle gravediggers in streaked fatigues lounging indifferently on spades near the shocking, incongruous heap of loose copperred earth. As Yossarian stared, the chaplain elevated his gaze toward Yossarian beatifically, pressed his fingers down over his eyeballs in a manner of affliction, peered upward again toward Yossarian searchingly, and bowed his head, concluding what Yossarian took to be a climactic part of the funeral rite. The four men in fatigues lifted the coffin on slings and lowered it into the grave. Milo shuddered violently.
   ‘I can’t watch it,’ he cried, turning away in anguish. ‘I just can’t sit here and watch while those mess halls let my syndicate die.’ He gnashed his teeth and shook his head with bitter woe and resentment. ‘If they had any loyalty, they would buy my cotton till it hurts so that they can keep right on buying my cotton till it hurts them some more. They would build fires and burn up their underwear and summer uniforms just to create bigger demand. But they won’t do a thing. Yossarian, try eating the rest of this chocolate-covered cotton for me. Maybe it will taste delicious now.’ Yossarian pushed his hand away. ‘Give up, Milo. People can’t eat cotton.’ Milo’s face narrowed cunningly. ‘It isn’t really cotton,’ he coaxed. ‘I was joking. It’s really cotton candy, delicious cotton candy. Try it and see.’
   ‘Now you’re lying.’
   ‘I never lie!’ Milo rejoindered with proud dignity.
   ‘You’re lying now.’
   ‘I only lie when it’s necessary,’ Milo explained defensively, averting his eyes for a moment and blinking his lashes winningly. ‘This stuff is better than cotton candy, really it is. It’s made out of real cotton. Yossarian, you’ve got to help me make the men eat it. Egyptian cotton is the finest cotton in the world.’
   ‘But it’s indigestible,’ Yossarian emphasized. ‘It will make them sick, don’t you understand? Why don’t you try living on it yourself if you don’t believe me?’
   ‘I did try,’ admitted Milo gloomily. ‘And it made me sick.’ The graveyard was yellow as hay and green as cooked cabbage. In a little while the chaplain stepped back, and the beige crescent of human forms began to break up sluggishly, like flotsam. The men drifted without haste or sound to the vehicles parked along the side of the bumpy dirt road. With their heads down disconsolately, the chaplain, Major Major and Major Danby moved toward their jeeps in an ostracized group, each holding himself friendlessly several feet away from the other two.
   ‘It’s all over,’ observed Yossarian.
   ‘It’s the end,’ Milo agreed despondently. ‘There’s no hope left. And all because I left them free to make their own decisions. That should teach me a lesson about discipline the next time I try something like this.’
   ‘Why don’t you sell your cotton to the government?’ Yossarian suggested casually, as he watched the four men in streaked fatigues shoveling heaping bladefuls of the copper-red earth back down inside the grave.
   Milo vetoed the idea brusquely. ‘It’s a matter of principle,’ he explained firmly. ‘The government has no business in business, and I would be the last person in the world to ever try to involve the government in a business of mine. But the business of government is business,’ he remembered alertly, and continued with elation. ‘Calvin Coolidge said that, and Calvin Coolidge was a President, so it must be true. And the government does have the responsibility of buying all the Egyptian cotton I’ve got that no one else wants so that I can make a profit, doesn’t it?’ Milo’s face clouded almost as abruptly, and his spirits descended into a state of sad anxiety. ‘But how will I get the government to do it?’
   ‘Bribe it,’ Yossarian said.
   ‘Bribe it!’ Milo was outraged and almost lost his balance and broke his neck again. ‘Shame on you!’ he scolded severely, breathing virtuous fire down and upward into his rusty mustache through his billowing nostrils and prim lips. ‘Bribery is against the law, and you know it. But it’s not against the law to make a profit, is it? So it can’t be against the law for me to bribe someone in order to make a fair profit, can it? No, of course not!’ He fell to brooding again, with a meek, almost pitiable distress. ‘But how will I know who to bribe?’
   ‘Oh, don’t you worry about that,’ Yossarian comforted him with a toneless snicker as the engines of the jeeps and ambulance fractured the drowsy silence and the vehicles in the rear began driving away backward. ‘You make the bribe big enough and they’ll find you. Just make sure you do everything right out in the open. Let everyone know exactly what you want and how much you’re willing to pay for it. The first time you act guilty or ashamed, you might get into trouble.’
   ‘I wish you’d come with me,’ Milo remarked. ‘I won’t feel safe among people who take bribes. They’re no better than a bunch of crooks.’
   ‘You’ll be all right,’ Yossarian assured him with confidence. ‘If you run into trouble, just tell everybody that the security of the country requires a strong domestic Egyptian-cotton speculating industry.’
   ‘It does,’ Milo informed him solemnly. ‘A strong Egyptian-cotton speculating industry means a much stronger America.’
   ‘Of course it does. And if that doesn’t work, point out the great number of American families that depend on it for income.’
   ‘A great many American families do depend on it for income.’
   ‘You see?’ said Yossarian. ‘You’re much better at it than I am. You almost make it sound true.’
   ‘It is true,’ Milo exclaimed with a strong trace of old hauteur.
   ‘That’s what I mean. You do it with just the right amount of conviction.’
   ‘You’re sure you won’t come with me?’ Yossarian shook his head.
   Milo was impatient to get started. He stuffed the remainder of the chocolate-covered cotton ball into his shirt pocket and edged his way back gingerly along the branch to the smooth gray trunk. He threw this arms about the trunk in a generous and awkward embrace and began shinnying down, the sides of his leather-soled shoes slipping constantly so that it seemed many times he would fall and injure himself. Halfway down, he changed his mind and climbed back up. Bits of tree bark stuck to his mustache, and his straining face was flushed with exertion.
   ‘I wish you’d put your uniform on instead of going around naked that way,’ he confided pensively before he climbed back down again and hurried away. ‘You might start a trend, and then I’ll never get rid of all this goldarned cotton.’
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The Chaplain

   It was already some time since the chaplain had first begun wondering what everything was all about. Was there a God? How could he be sure? Being an Anabaptist minister in the American Army was difficult enough under the best of circumstances; without dogma, it was almost intolerable.
   People with loud voices frightened him. Brave, aggressive men of action like Colonel Cathcart left him feeling helpless and alone. Wherever he went in the Army, he was a stranger. Enlisted men and officers did not conduct themselves with him as they conducted themselves with other enlisted men and officers, and even other chaplains were not as friendly toward him as they were toward each other. In a world in which success was the only virtue, he had resigned himself to failure. He was painfully aware that he lacked the ecclesiastical aplomb and savoir-faire that enabled so many of his colleagues in other faiths and sects to get ahead. He was just not equipped to excel. He thought of himself as ugly and wanted daily to be home with his wife.
   Actually, the chaplain was almost good-looking, with a pleasant, sensitive face as pale and brittle as sandstone. His mind was open on every subject.
   Perhaps he really was Washington Irving, and perhaps he really had been signing Washington Irving’s name to those letters he knew nothing about. Such lapses of memory were not uncommon in medical annals, he knew. There was no way of really knowing anything. He remembered very distinctly—or was under the impression he remembered very distinctly—his feeling that he had met Yossarian somewhere before the first time he had met Yossarian lying in bed in the hospital. He remembered experiencing the same disquieting sensation almost two weeks later when Yossarian appeared at his tent to ask to be taken off combat duty. By that time, of course, the chaplain had met Yossarian somewhere before, in that odd, unorthodox ward in which every patient seemed delinquent but the unfortunate patient covered from head to toe in white bandages and plaster who was found dead one day with a thermometer in his mouth. But the chaplain’s impression of a prior meeting was of some occasion far more momentous and occult than that, of a significant encounter with Yossarian in some remote, submerged and perhaps even entirely spiritual epoch in which he had made the identical, foredooming admission that there was nothing, absolutely nothing, he could do to help him.
   Doubts of such kind gnawed at the chaplain’s lean, suffering frame insatiably. Was there a single true faith, or a life after death? How many angels could dance on the head of a pin, and with what matters did God occupy himself in all the infinite aeons before the Creation? Why was it necessary to put a protective seal on the brow of Cain if there were no other people to protect him from? Did Adam and Eve produce daughters? These were the great, complex questions of ontology that tormented him. Yet they never seemed nearly as crucial to him as the question of kindness and good manners. He was pinched perspinngly in the epistemological dilemma of the skeptic, unable to accept solutions to problems he was unwilling to dismiss as unsolvable. He was never without misery, and never without hope.
   ‘Have you ever,’ he inquired hesitantly of Yossarian that day in his tent as Yossarian sat holding in both hands the warm bottle of Coca-Cola with which the chaplain had been able to solace him, ‘been in a situation which you felt you had been in before, even though you knew you were experiencing it for the first time?’ Yossarian nodded perfunctorily, and the chaplain’s breath quickened in anticipation as he made ready to join his will power with Yossarian’s in a prodigious effort to rip away at last the voluminous black folds shrouding the eternal mysteries of existence. ‘Do you have that feeling now?’ Yossarian shook his head and explained that déjà vu was just a momentary infinitesimal lag in the operation of two coactive sensory nerve centers that commonly functioned simultaneously. The chaplain scarcely heard him. He was disappointed, but not inclined to believe Yossarian, for he had been given a sign, a secret, enigmatic vision that he still lacked the boldness to divulge.

   There was no mistaking the awesome implications of the chaplain’s revelation: it was either an insight of divine origin or a hallucination; he was either blessed or losing his mind. Both prospects filled him with equal fear and depression. It was neither déjà vu, presque vu nor jamais vu. It was possible that there were other vus of which he had never heard and that one of these other vus would explain succinctly the bafing phenomenon of which he had been both a witness and a part; it was even possible that none of what he thought had taken place, really had taken place, that he was dealing with an aberration of memory rather than of perception, that he never really had thought he had seen, that his impression now that he once had thought so was merely the illusion of an illusion, and that he was only now imagining that he had ever once imagined seeing a naked man sitting in a tree at the cemetery.
   It was obvious to the chaplain now that he was not particularly well suited to his work, and he often speculated whether he might not be happier serving in some other branch of the service, as a private in the infantry or field artillery, perhaps, or even as a paratrooper. He had no real friends. Before meeting Yossarian, there was no one in the group with whom he felt at ease, and he was hardly at ease with Yossarian, whose frequent rash and insubordinate outbursts kept him almost constantly on edge and in an ambiguous state of enjoyable trepidation. The chaplain felt safe when he was at the officers’ club with Yossarian and Dunbar, and even with just Nately and McWatt. When he sat with them he had no need to sit with anyone else; his problem of where to sit was solved, and he was protected against the undesired company of all those fellow officers who invariably welcomed him with excessive cordiality when he approached and waited uncomfortably for him to go away. He made so many people uneasy. Everyone was always very friendly toward him, and no one was ever very nice; everyone spoke to him, and no one ever said anything. Yossarian and Dunbar were much more relaxed, and the chaplain was hardly uncomfortable with them at all. They even defended him the night Colonel Cathcart tried to throw him out of the officers’ club again, Yossarian rising truculently to intervene and Nately shouting out, ‘Yossarian!’ to restrain him. Colonel Cathcart turned white as a sheet at the sound of Yossarian’s name, and, to everyone’s amazement, retreated in horrified disorder until he bumped into General Dreedle, who elbowed him away with annoyance and ordered him right back to order the chaplain to start coming into the officers’ club every night again.
   The chaplain had almost as much trouble keeping track of his status at the officers’ club as he had remembering at which of the ten mess halls in the group he was scheduled to eat his next meal. He would just as soon have remained kicked out of the officers’ club, had it not been for the pleasure he was now finding there with his new companions. If the chaplain did not go to the officers’ club at night, there was no place else he could go. He would pass the time at Yossarian’s and Dunbar’s table with a shy, reticent smile, seldom speaking unless addressed, a glass of thick sweet wine almost untasted before him as he toyed unfamiliarly with the tiny corncob pipe that he affected selfconsciously and occasionally stuffed with tobacco and smoked. He enjoyed listening to Nately, whose maudlin, bittersweet lamentations mirrored much of his own romantic desolation and never failed to evoke in him resurgent tides of longing for his wife and children. The chaplain would encourage Nately with nods of comprehension or assent, amused by his candor and immaturity. Nately did not glory too immodestly that his girl was a prostitute, and the chaplain’s awareness stemmed mainly from Captain Black, who never slouched past their table without a broad wink at the chaplain and some tasteless, wounding gibe about her to Nately. The chaplain did not approve of Captain Black and found it difficult not to wish him evil.
   No one, not even Nately, seemed really to appreciate that he, Chaplain Robert Oliver Shipman, was not just a chaplain but a human being, that he could have a charming, passionate, pretty wife whom he loved almost insanely and three small blue-eyed children with strange, forgotten faces who would grow up someday to regard him as a freak and who might never forgive him for all the social embarrassment his vocation would cause them. Why couldn’t anybody understand that he was not really a freak but a normal, lonely adult trying to lead a normal, lonely adult life? If they pricked him, didn’t he bleed? And if he was tickled, didn’t he laugh? It seemed never to have occurred to them that he, just as they, had eyes, hands, organs, dimensions, senses and affections, that he was wounded by the same kind of weapons they were, warmed and cooled by the same breezes and fed by the same kind of food, although, he was forced to concede, in a different mess hall for each successive meal. The only person who did seem to realize he had feelings was Corporal Whitcomb, who had just managed to bruise them all by going over his head to Colonel Cathcart with his proposal for sending form letters of condolence home to the families of men killed or wounded in combat.
   The chaplain’s wife was the one thing in the world he could be certain of, and it would have been sufficient, if only he had been left to live his life out with just her and the children. The chaplain’s wife was a reserved, diminutive, agreeable woman in her early thirties, very dark and very attractive, with a narrow waist, calm intelligent eyes, and small, bright, pointy teeth in a childlike face that was vivacious and petite; he kept forgetting what his children looked like, and each time he returned to their snapshots it was like seeing their faces for the first time. The chaplain loved his wife and children with such tameless intensity that he often wanted to sink to the ground helplessly and weep like a castaway cripple. He was tormented inexorably by morbid fantasies involving them, by dire, hideous omens of illness and accident. His meditations were polluted with threats of dread diseases like Ewing’s tumor and leukemia; he saw his infant son die two or three times every week because he had never taught his wife how to stop arterial bleeding; watched, in tearful, paralyzed silence, his whole family electrocuted, one after the other, at a baseboard socket because he had never told her that a human body would conduct electricity; all four went up in flames almost every night when the water heater exploded and set the two-story wooden house afire; in ghastly, heartless, revolting detail he saw his poor dear wife’s trim and fragile body crushed to a viscous pulp against the brick wall of a market building by a half-wined drunken automobile driver and watched his hysterical five-year-old daughter being led away from the grisly scene by a kindly middle-aged gentleman with snow-white hair who raped and murdered her repeatedly as soon as he had driven her off to a deserted sandpit, while his two younger children starved to death slowly in the house after his wife’s mother, who had been baby-sitting, dropped dead from a heart attack when news of his wife’s accident was given to her over the telephone. The chaplain’s wife was a sweet, soothing, considerate woman, and he yearned to touch the warm flesh of her slender arm again and stroke her smooth black hair, to hear her intimate, comforting voice. She was a much stronger person than he was. He wrote brief, untroubled letters to her once a week, sometimes twice. He wanted to write urgent love letters to her all day long and crowd the endless pages with desperate, uninhibited confessions of his humble worship and need and xwith careful instructions for administering artificial respiration. He wanted to pour out to her in torrents of self-pity all his unbearable loneliness and despair and warn her never to leave the boric acid or the aspirin in reach of the children or to cross a street against the traffic light. He did not wish to worry her. The chaplain’s wife was intuitive, gentle, compassionate and responsive. Almost inevitably, his reveries of reunion with her ended in explicit acts of love-making.
   The chaplain felt most deceitful presiding at funerals, and it would not have astonished him to learn that the apparition in the tree that day was a manifestation of the Almighty’s censure for the blasphemy and pride inherent in his function. To simulate gravity, feign grief and pretend supernatural intelligence of the hereafter in so fearsome and arcane a circumstance as death seemed the most criminal of offenses. He recalled—or was almost convinced he recalled—the scene at the cemetery perfectly. He could still see Major Major and Major Danby standing somber as broken stone pillars on either side of him, see almost the exact number of enlisted men and almost the exact places in which they had stood, see the four unmoving men with spades, the repulsive coffin and the large, loose, triumphant mound of reddish-brown earth, and the massive, still, depthless, muffling sky, so weirdly blank and blue that day it was almost poisonous. He would remember them forever, for they were all part and parcel of the most extraordinary event that had ever befallen him, an event perhaps marvelous, perhaps pathological—the vision of the naked man in the tree. How could he explain it? It was not already seen or never seen, and certainly not almost seen; neither déjà vu, jamais vu nor presque vu was elastic enough to cover it. Was it a ghost, then? The dead man’s soul? An angel from heaven or a minion from hell? Or was the whole fantastic episode merely the figment of a diseased imagination, his own, of a deteriorating mind, a rotting brain? The possibility that there really had been a naked man in the tree—two men, actually, since the first had been joined shortly by a second man clad in a brown mustache and sinister dark garments from head to toe who bent forward ritualistically along the limb of the tree to offer the first man something to drink from a brown goblet—never crossed the chaplain’s mind.
   The chaplain was sincerely a very helpful person who was never able to help anyone, not even Yossarian when he finally decided to seize the bull by the horns and visit Major Major secretly to learn if, as Yossarian had said, the men in Colonel Cathcart’s group really were being forced to fly more combat missions than anyone else. It was a daring, impulsive move on which the chaplain decided after quarreling with Corporal Whitcomb again and washing down with tepid canteen water his joyless lunch of Milky Way and Baby Ruth. He went to Major Major on foot so that Corporal Whitcomb would not see him leaving, stealing into the forest noiselessly until the two tents in his clearing were left behind, then dropping down inside the abandoned railroad ditch, where the footing was surer. He hurried along the fossilized wooden ties with accumulating mutinous anger. He had been browbeaten and humiliated successively that morning by Colonel Cathcart, Colonel Korn and Corporal Whitcomb. He just had to make himself felt in some respect! His slight chest was soon puffing for breath. He moved as swiftly as he could without breaking into a run, fearing his resolution might dissolve if he slowed. Soon he saw a uniformed figure coming toward him between the rusted rails. He clambered immediately up the side of the ditch, ducked inside a dense copse of low trees for concealment and sped along in his original direction a narrow, overgrown mossy path he found winding deep inside the shaded forest. It was tougher going there, but he plunged ahead with the same reckless and consuming determination, slipping and stumbling often and stinging his unprotected hands on the stubborn branches blocking his way until the bushes and tall ferns on both sides spread open and he lurched past an olive-drab military trailer on cinder blocks clearly visible through the thinning underbrush. He continued past a tent with a luminous pearl-gray cat sunning itself outside and past another trailer on cinder blocks and then burst into the clearing of Yossarian’s squadron. A salty dew had formed on his lips. He did not pause, but strode directly across the clearing into the orderly room, where he was welcomed by a gaunt, stoop-shouldered staff sergeant with prominent cheekbones and long, very light blond hair, who informed him graciously that he could go right in, since Major Major was out.
   The chaplain thanked him with a curt nod and proceeded alone down the aisle between the desks and typewriters to the canvas partition in the rear. He bobbed through the triangular opening and found himself inside an empty office. The flap fell closed behind him. He was breathing hard and sweating profusely. The office remained empty. He thought he heard furtive whispering. Ten minutes passed. He looked about in stern displeasure, his jaws clamped together indomitably, and then turned suddenly to water as he remembered the staff sergeant’s exact words: he could go right in, since Major Major was out. The enlisted men were playing a practical joke! The chaplain shrank back from the wall in terror, bitter tears springing to his eyes. A pleading whimper escaped his trembling lips. Major Major was elsewhere, and the enlisted men in the other room had made him the butt of an inhuman prank. He could almost see them waiting on the other side of the canvas wall, bunched up expectantly like a pack of greedy, gloating omnivorous beasts of prey, ready with their barbaric mirth and jeers to pounce on him brutally the moment he reappeared. He cursed himself for his gullibility and wished in panic for something like a mask or a pair of dark glasses and a false mustache to disguise him, or for a forceful, deep voice like Colonel Cathcart’s and broad, muscular shoulders and biceps to enable him to step outside fearlessly and vanquish his malevolent persecutors with an overbearing authority and self-confidence that would make them all quail and slink away cravenly in repentance. He lacked the courage to face them. The only other way out was the window. The coast was clear, and the chaplain jumped out of Major Major’s office through the window, darted swiftly around the corner of the tent, and leaped down inside the railroad ditch to hide.
   He scooted away with his body doubled over and his face contorted intentionally into a nonchalant, sociable smile in case anyone chanced to see him. He abandoned the ditch for the forest the moment he saw someone coming toward him from the opposite direction and ran through the cluttered forest frenziedly like someone pursued, his cheeks burning with disgrace. He heard loud, wild peals of derisive laughter crashing all about him and caught blurred glimpses of wicked, beery faces smirking far back inside the bushes and high overhead in the foliage of the trees. Spasms of scorching pains stabbed through his lungs and slowed him to a crippled walk. He lunged and staggered onward until he could go no farther and collapsed all at once against a gnarled apple tree, banging his head hard against the trunk as he toppled forward and holding on with both arms to keep from falling. His breathing was a rasping, moaning din in his ears. Minutes passed like hours before he finally recognized himself as the source of the turbulent roar that was overwhelming him. The pains in his chest abated. Soon he felt strong enough to stand. He cocked his ears craftily. The forest was quiet. There was no demonic laughter, no one was chasing him. He was too tired and sad and dirty to feel relieved. He straightened his disheveled clothing with fingers that were numb and shaking and walked the rest of the way to the clearing with rigid self-control. The chaplain brooded often about the danger of heart attack.
   Corporal Whitcomb’s jeep was still parked in the clearing. The chaplain tiptoed stealthily around the back of Corporal Whitcomb’s tent rather than pass the entrance and risk being seen and insulted by him. Heaving a grateful sigh, he slipped quickly inside his own tent and found Corporal Whitcomb ensconced on his cot, his knees propped up. Corporal Whitcomb’s mud-caked shoes were on the chaplain’s blanket, and he was eating one of the chaplain’s candy bars as he thumbed with sneering expression through one of the chaplain’s Bibles.
   ‘Where’ve you been?’ he demanded rudely and disinterestedly, without looking up.
   The chaplain colored and turned away evasively. ‘I went for a walk through the woods.’
   ‘All right,’ Corporal Whitcomb snapped. ‘Don’t take me into your confidence. But just wait and see what happens to my morale.’ He bit into the chaplain’s candy bar hungrily and continued with a full mouth. ‘You had a visitor while you were gone. Major Major.’ The chaplain spun around with surprise and cried: ‘Major Major? Major Major was here?’
   ‘That’s who we’re talking about, isn’t it?’
   ‘Where did he go?’
   ‘He jumped down into that railroad ditch and took off like a frightened rabbit.’ Corporal Whitcomb snickered. ‘What a jerk!’
   ‘Did he say what he wanted?’
   ‘He said he needed your help in a matter of great importance.’ The chaplain was astounded. ‘Major Major said that?’
   ‘He didn’t say that,’ Corporal Whitcomb corrected with withering precision. ‘He wrote it down in a sealed personal letter he left on your desk.’ The chaplain glanced at the bridge table that served as his desk and saw only the abominable orange-red pear-shaped plum tomato he had obtained that same morning from Colonel Cathcart, still lying on its side where he had forgotten it like an indestructible and incamadine symbol of his own ineptitude. ‘Where is the letter?’
   ‘I threw it away as soon as I tore it open and read it.’ Corporal Whitcomb slammed the Bible shut and jumped up. ‘What’s the matter? Won’t you take my word for it?’ He walked out. He walked right back in and almost collided with the chaplain, who was rushing out behind him on his way back to Major Major. ‘You don’t know how to delegate responsibility,’ Corporal Whitcomb informed him sullenly. ‘That’s another one of the things that’s wrong with you.’ The chaplain nodded penitently and hurried past, unable to make himself take the time to apologize. He could feel the skillful hand of fate motivating him imperatively. Twice that day already, he realized now, Major Major had come racing toward him inside the ditch; and twice that day the chaplain had stupidly postponed the destined meeting by bolting into the forest. He seethed with self-recrimination as he hastened back as rapidly as he could stride along the splintered, irregularly spaced railroad ties. Bits of grit and gravel inside his shoes and socks were grinding the tops of his toes raw. His pale, laboring face was screwed up unconsciously into a grimace of acute discomfort. The early August afternoon was growing hotter and more humid. It was almost a mile from his tent to Yossarian’s squadron. The chaplain’s summer-tan shirt was soaking with perspiration by the time he arrived there and rushed breathlessly back inside the orderly room tent, where he was halted peremptorily by the same treacherous, soft-spoken staff sergeant with round eyeglasses and gaunt cheeks, who requested him to remain outside because Major Major was inside and told him he would not be allowed inside until Major Major went out. The chaplain looked at him in an uncomprehending daze. Why did the sergeant hate him? he wondered. His lips were white and trembling. He was aching with thirst. What was the matter with people? Wasn’t there tragedy enough? The sergeant put his hand out and held the chaplain steady.
   ‘I’m sorry, sir,’ he said regretfully in a low, courteous, melancholy voice. ‘But those are Major Major’s orders. He never wants to see anyone.’
   ‘He wants to see me,’ the chaplain pleaded. ‘He came to my tent to see me while I was here before.’
   ‘Major Major did that?’ the sergeant asked.
   ‘Yes, he did. Please go in and ask him.’
   ‘I’m afraid I can’t go in, sir. He never wants to see me either. Perhaps if you left a note.’
   ‘I don’t want to leave a note. Doesn’t he ever make an exception?’
   ‘Only in extreme circumstances. The last time he left his tent was to attend the funeral of one of the enlisted men. The last time he saw anyone in his office was a time he was forced to. A bombardier named Yossarian forced—’
   ‘Yossarian?’ The chaplain lit up with excitement at this new coincidence. Was this another miracle in the making? ‘But that’s exactly whom I want to speak to him about! Did they talk about the number of missions Yossarian has to fly?’
   ‘Yes, sir, that’s exactly what they did talk about. Captain Yossarian had flown fifty-one missions, and he appealed to Major Major to ground him so that he wouldn’t have to fly four more. Colonel Cathcart wanted only fifty-five missions then.’
   ‘And what did Major Major say?’
   ‘Major Major told him there was nothing he could do.’ The chaplain’s face fell. ‘Major Major said that?’
   ‘Yes, sir. In fact, he advised Yossarian to go see you for help. Are you certain you wouldn’t like to leave a note, sir? I have a pencil and paper right here.’ The chaplain shook his head, chewing his clotted dry lower lip forlornly, and walked out. It was still so early in the day, and so much had already happened. The air was cooler in the forest. His throat was parched and sore. He walked slowly and asked himself ruefully what new misfortune could possibly befall him a moment before the mad hermit in the woods leaped out at him without warning from behind a mulberry bush. The chaplain screamed at the top of his voice.
   The tall, cadaverous stranger fell back in fright at the chaplain’s cry and shrieked, ‘Don’t hurt me!’
   ‘Who are you?’ the chaplain shouted.
   ‘Please don’t hurt me!’ the man shouted back.
   ‘I’m the chaplain!’
   ‘Then why do you want to hurt me?’
   ‘I don’t want to hurt you!’ the chaplain insisted with a rising hint of exasperation, even though he was still rooted to the spot. ‘Just tell me who you are and what you want from me.’
   ‘I just want to find out if Chief White Halfoat died of pneumonia yet,’ the man shouted back. ‘That’s all I want. I live here. My name is Flume. I belong to the squadron, but I live here in the woods. You can ask anyone.’ The chaplain’s composure began trickling back as he studied the queer, cringing figure intently. A pair of captain’s bars ulcerated with rust hung on the man’s ragged shirt collar. He had a hairy, tar-black mole on the underside of one nostril and a heavy rough mustache the color of poplar bark.
   ‘Why do you live in the woods if you belong to the squadron?’ the chaplain inquired curiously.
   ‘I have to live in the woods,’ the captain replied crabbily, as though the chaplain ought to know. He straightened slowly, still watching the chaplain guardedly although he towered above him by more than a full head.
   ‘Don’t you hear everybody talking about me? Chief White Halfoat swore he was going to cut my throat some night when I was fast asleep, and I don’t dare lie down in the squadron while he’s still alive.’ The chaplain listened to the implausible explanation distrustfully. ‘But that’s incredible,’ he replied. ‘That would be premeditated murder. Why didn’t you report the incident to Major Major?’
   ‘I did report the incident to Major Major,’ said the captain sadly, ‘and Major Major said he would cut my throat if I ever spoke to him again.’ The man studied the chaplain fearfully. ‘Are you going to cut my throat, too?’
   ‘Oh, no, no, no,’ the chaplain assured him. ‘Of course not. Do you really live in the forest?’ The captain nodded, and the chaplain gazed at his porous gray pallor of fatigue and malnutrition with a mixture of pity and esteem. The man’s body was a bony shell inside rumpled clothing that hung on him like a disorderly collection of sacks. Wisps of dried grass were glued all over him; he needed a haircut badly. There were great, dark circles under his eyes. The chaplain was moved almost to tears by the harassed, bedraggled picture the captain presented, and he filled with deference and compassion at the thought of the many severe rigors the poor man had to endure daily. In a voice hushed with humility, he said, ‘Who does your laundry?’ The captain pursed his lips in a businesslike manner. ‘I have it done by a washerwoman in one of the farmhouses down the road. I keep my things in my trailer and sneak inside once or twice a day for a clean handkerchief or a change of underwear.’
   ‘What will you do when winter comes?’
   ‘Oh, I expect to be back in the squadron by then,’ the captain answered with a kind of martyred confidence. ‘Chief White Halfoat kept promising everyone that he was going to die of pneumonia, and I guess I’ll have to be patient until the weather turns a little colder and damper.’ He scrutinized the chaplain perplexedly. ‘Don’t you know all this? Don’t you hear all the fellows talking about me?’
   ‘I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone mention you.’
   ‘Well, I certainly can’t understand that.’ The captain was piqued, but managed to carry on with a pretense of optimism. ‘Well, here it is almost September already, so I guess it won’t be too long now. The next time any of the boys ask about me, why, just tell them I’ll be back grinding out those old publicity releases again as soon as Chief White Halfoat dies of pneumonia. Will you tell them that? Say I’ll be back in the squadron as soon as winter comes and Chief Halfoat dies of pneumonia. Okay?’ The chaplain memorized the prophetic words solemnly, entranced further by their esoteric import. ‘Do you live on berries, herbs and roots?’ he asked.
   ‘No, of course not,’ the captain replied with surprise. ‘I sneak into the mess hall through the back and eat in the kitchen. Milo gives me sandwiches and milk.’
   ‘What do you do when it rains?’ The captain answered frankly. ‘I get wet.’
   ‘Where do you sleep?’ Swiftly the captain ducked down into a crouch and began backing away. ‘You too?’ he cried frantically.
   ‘Oh, no,’ cried the chaplain. ‘I swear to you.’
   ‘You do want to cut my throat!’ the captain insisted.
   ‘I give my word,’ the chaplain pleaded, but it was too late, for the homely hirsute specter had already vanished, dissolving so expertly inside the blooming, dappled, fragmented malformations of leaves, light and shadows that the chaplain was already doubting that he had even been there. So many monstrous events were occurring that he was no longer positive which events were monstrous and which were really taking place. He wanted to find out about the madman in the woods as quickly as possible, to check if there ever really had been a Captain Flume, but his first chore, he recalled with reluctance, was to appease Corporal Whitcomb for neglecting to delegate enough responsibility to him. He plodded along the zigzagging path through the forest listlessly, clogged with thirst and feeling almost too exhausted to go on. He was remorseful when he thought of Corporal Whitcomb. He prayed that Corporal Whitcomb would be gone when he reached the clearing so that he could undress without embarrassment, wash his arms and chest and shoulders thoroughly, drink water, lie down refreshed and perhaps even sleep for a few minutes; but he was in for still another disappointment and still another shock, for Corporal Whitcomb was Sergeant Whitcomb by the time he arrived and was sitting with his shirt off in the chaplain’s chair sewing his new sergeant’s stripes on his sleeve with the chaplain’s needle and thread. Corporal Whitcomb had been promoted by Colonel Cathcart, who wanted to see the chaplain at once about the letters.
   ‘Oh, no,’ groaned the chaplain, sinking down dumbfounded on his cot. His warm canteen was empty, and he was too distraught to remember the lister bag hanging outside in the shade between the two tents. ‘I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe that anyone would seriously believe that I’ve been forging Washington Irving’s name.’
   ‘Not those letters,’ Corporal Whitcomb corrected, plainly enjoying the chaplain’s chagrin. ‘He wants to see you about the letters home to the families of casualties.’
   ‘Those letters?’ asked the chaplain with surprise.
   ‘That’s right,’ Corporal Whitcomb gloated. ‘He’s really going to chew you out for refusing to let me send them. You should have seen him go for the idea once I reminded him the letters could carry his signature. That’s why he promoted me. He’s absolutely sure they’ll get him into The Saturday Evening Post.’ The chaplain’s befuddlement increased. ‘But how did he know we were even considering the idea?’
   ‘I went to his office and told him.’
   ‘You did what?’ the chaplain demanded shrilly, and charged to his feet in an unfamiliar rage. ‘Do you mean to say that you actually went over my head to the colonel without asking my permission?’ Corporal Whitcomb grinned brazenly with scornful satisfaction. ‘That’s right, Chaplain,’ he answered. ‘And you better not try to do anything about it if you know what’s good for you.’ He laughed quietly in malicious defiance. ‘Colonel Cathcart isn’t going to like it if he finds out you’re getting even with me for bringing him my idea. You know something, Chaplain?’ Corporal Whitcomb continued, biting the chaplain’s black thread apart contemptuously with a loud snap and buttoning on his shirt. ‘That dumb bastard really thinks it’s one of the greatest ideas he’s ever heard.’
   ‘It might even get me into The Saturday Evening Post,’ Colonel Cathcart boasted in his office with a smile, swaggering back and forth convivially as he reproached the chaplain. ‘And you didn’t have brains enough to appreciate it. You’ve got a good man in Corporal Whitcomb, Chaplain. I hope you have brains enough to appreciate that.’
   ‘Sergeant Whitcomb,’ the chaplain corrected, before he could control himself.
   Colonel Cathcart Oared. ‘I said Sergeant Whitcomb,’ he replied. ‘I wish you’d try listening once in a while instead of always finding fault. You don’t want to be a captain all your life, do you?’
   ‘Sir?’
   ‘Well, I certainly don’t see how you’re ever going to amount to anything else if you keep on this way. Corporal Whitcomb feels that you fellows haven’t had a fresh idea in nineteen hundred and forty-four years, and I’m inclined to agree with him. A bright boy, that Corporal Whitcomb. Well, it’s all going to change.’ Colonel Cathcart sat down at his desk with a determined air and cleared a large neat space in his blotter. When he had finished, he tapped his finger inside it. ‘Starting tomorrow,’ he said, ‘I want you and Corporal Whitcomb to write a letter of condolence for me to the next of kin of every man in the group who’s killed, wounded or taken prisoner. I want those letters to be sincere letters. I want them filled up with lots of personal details so there’ll be no doubt I mean every word you say. Is that clear?’ The chaplain stepped forward impulsively to remonstrate. ‘But, sir, that’s impossible!’ he blurted out. ‘We don’t even know all the men that well.’
   ‘What difference does that make?’ Colonel Cathcart demanded, and then smiled amicably. ‘Corporal Whitcomb brought me this basic form letter that takes care of just about every situation. Listen: "Dear Mrs., Mr., Miss, or Mr. and Mrs.: Words cannot express the deep personal grief I experienced when your husband, son, father or brother was killed, wounded or reported missing in action." And so on. I think that opening sentence sums up my sentiments exactly. Listen, maybe you’d better let Corporal Whitcomb take charge of the whole thing if you don’t feel up to it.’ Colonel Cathcart whipped out his cigarette holder and flexed it between both hands like an onyx and ivory riding crop. ‘That’s one of the things that’s wrong with you, Chaplain. Corporal Whitcomb tells me you don’t know how to delegate responsibility. He says you’ve got no initiative either. You’re not going to disagree with me, are you?’
   ‘No, sir.’ The chaplain shook his head, feeling despicably remiss because he did not know how to delegate responsibility and had no initiative, and because he really had been tempted to disagree with the colonel. His mind was a shambles. They were shooting skeet outside, and every time a gun was fired his senses were jarred. He could not adjust to the sound of the shots. He was surrounded by bushels of plum tomatoes and was almost convinced that he had stood in Colonel Cathcart’s office on some similar occasion deep in the past and had been surrounded by those same bushels of those same plum tomatoes. Déjà vu again. The setting seemed so familiar; yet it also seemed so distant. His clothes felt grimy and old, and he was deathly afraid he smelled.
   ‘You take things too seriously, Chaplain,’ Colonel Cathcart told him bluntly with an air of adult objectivity. ‘That’s another one of the things that’s wrong with you. That long face of yours gets everybody depressed. Let me see you laugh once in a while. Come on, Chaplain. You give me a belly laugh now and I’ll give you a whole bushel of plum tomatoes.’ He waited a second or two, watching, and then chortled victoriously. ‘You see, Chaplain, I’m right. You can’t give me a belly laugh, can you?’
   ‘No, sir,’ admitted the chaplain meekly, swallowing slowly with a visible effort. ‘Not right now. I’m very thirsty.’
   ‘Then get yourself a drink. Colonel Korn keeps some bourbon in his desk. You ought to try dropping around the officers’ club with us some evening just to have yourself a little fun. Try getting lit once in a while. I hope you don’t feel you’re better than the rest of us just because you’re a professional man.’
   ‘Oh, no, sir,’ the chaplain assured him with embarrassment. ‘As a matter of fact, I have been going to the officers’ club the past few evenings.’
   ‘You’re only a captain, you know,’ Colonel Cathcart continued, paying no attention to the chaplain’s remark. ‘You may be a professional man, but you’re still only a captain.’
   ‘Yes, sir. I know.’
   ‘That’s fine, then. It’s just as well you didn’t laugh before. I wouldn’t have given you the plum tomatoes anyway. Corporal Whitcomb tells me you took a plum tomato when you were in here this morning.’
   ‘This morning? But, sir! You gave it to me.’ Colonel Cathcart cocked his head with suspicion. ‘I didn’t say I didn’t give it to you, did I? I merely said you took it. I don’t see why you’ve got such a guilty conscience if you really didn’t steal it. Did I give it to you?’
   ‘Yes, sir. I swear you did.’
   ‘Then I’ll just have to take your word for it. Although I can’t imagine why I’d want to give you a plum tomato.’ Colonel Cathcart transferred a round glass paperweight competently from the right edge of his desk to the left edge and picked up a sharpened pencil. ‘Okay. Chaplain, I’ve got a lot of important work to do now if you’re through. You let me know when Corporal Whitcomb has sent out about a dozen of those letters and we’ll get in touch with the editors of The Saturday Evening Post.’ A sudden inspiration made his face brighten. ‘Say! I think I’ll volunteer the group for Avignon again. That should speed things up!’
   ‘For Avignon?’ The chaplain’s heart missed a beat, and all his flesh began to prickle and creep.
   ‘That’s right,’ the colonel explained exuberantly. ‘The sooner we get some casualties, the sooner we can make some progress on this. I’d like to get in the Christmas issue if we can. I imagine the circulation is higher then.’ And to the chaplain’s horror, the colonel lifted the phone to volunteer the group for Avignon and tried to kick him out of the officers’ club again that very same night a moment before Yossarian rose up drunkenly, knocking over his chair, to start an avenging punch that made Nately call out his name and made Colonel Cathcart blanch and retreat prudently smack into General Dreedle, who shoved him off his bruised foot disgustedly and order him forward to kick the chaplain right back into the officers’ club. It was all very upsetting to Colonel Cathcart, first the dreaded name Yossarian! tolling out again clearly like a warning of doom and then General Dreedle’s bruised foot, and that was another fault Colonel Cathcart found in the chaplain, the fact that it was impossible to predict how General Dreedle would react each time he saw him. Colonel Cathcart would never forget the first evening General Dreedle took notice of the chaplain in the officers’ club, lifting his ruddy, sweltering, intoxicated face to stare ponderously through the yellow pall of cigarette smoke at the chaplain lurking near the wall by himself.
   ‘Well, I’ll be damned,’ General Dreedle had exclaimed hoarsely, his shaggy gray menacing eyebrows beetling in recognition. ‘Is that a chaplain I see over there? That’s really a fine thing when a man of God begins hanging around a place like this with a bunch of dirty drunks and gamblers.’ Colonel Cathcart compressed his lips primly and started to rise. ‘I couldn’t agree with you more, sir,’ he assented briskly in a tone of ostentatious disapproval. ‘I just don’t know what’s happening to the clergy these days.’
   ‘They’re getting better, that’s what’s happening to them,’ General Dreedle growled emphatically.
   Colonel Cathcart gulped awkwardly and made a nimble recovery. ‘Yes, sir. They are getting better. That’s exactly what I had in mind, sir.’
   ‘This is just the place for a chaplain to be, mingling with the men while they’re out drinking and gambling so he can get to understand them and win their confidence. How the hell else is he ever going to get them to believe in God?’
   ‘That’s exactly what I had in mind, sir, when I ordered him to come here,’ Colonel Cathcart said carefully, and threw his arm familiarly around the chaplain’s shoulders as he walked him off into a corner to order him in a cold undertone to start reporting for duty at the officers’ club every evening to mingle with the men while they were drinking and gambling so that he could get to understand them and win their confidence.
   The chaplain agreed and did report for duty to the officers’ club every night to mingle with men who wanted to avoid him, until the evening the vicious fist fight broke out at the ping-pong table and Chief White Halfoat whirled without provocation and punched Colonel Moodus squarely in the nose, knocking Colonel Moodus down on the seat of his pants and making General Dreedle roar with lusty, unexpected laughter until he spied the chaplain standing close by gawking at him grotesquely in tortured wonder. General Dreedle froze at the sight of him. He glowered at the chaplain with swollen fury for a moment, his good humor gone, and turned back toward the bar disgruntedly, rolling from side to side like a sailor on his short bandy legs. Colonel Cathcart cantered fearfully along behind, glancing anxiously about in vain for some sign of help from Colonel Korn.
   ‘That’s a fine thing,’ General Dreedle growled at the bar, gripping his empty shot glass in his burly hand. ‘That’s really a fine thing, when a man of God begins hanging around a place like this with a bunch of dirty drunks and gamblers.’ Colonel Cathcart sighed with relief. ‘Yes, sir,’ he exclaimed proudly. ‘It certainly is a fine thing.’
   ‘Then why the hell don’t you do something about it?’
   ‘Sir?’ Colonel Cathcart inquired, blinking.
   ‘Do you think it does you credit to have your chaplain hanging around here every night? He’s in here every goddam time I come.’
   ‘You’re right, sir, absolutely right,’ Colonel Cathcart responded. ‘It does me no credit at all. And I am going to do something about it, this very minute.’
   ‘Aren’t you the one who ordered him to come here?’
   ‘No, sir, that was Colonel Korn. I intend to punish him severely, too.’
   ‘If he wasn’t a chaplain,’ General Dreedle muttered, ‘I’d have him taken outside and shot.’
   ‘He’s not a chaplain, sir.’ Colonel Cathcart advised helpfully.
   ‘Isn’t he? Then why the hell does he wear that cross on his collar if he’s not a chaplain?’
   ‘He doesn’t wear a cross on his collar, sir. He wears a silver leaf. He’s a lieutenant colonel.’
   ‘You’ve got a chaplain who’s a lieutenant colonel?’ inquired General Dreedle with amazement.
   ‘Oh, no, sir. My chaplain is only a captain.’
   ‘Then why the hell does he wear a silver leaf on his collar if he’s only a captain?’
   ‘He doesn’t wear a silver leaf on his collar, sir. He wears a cross.’
   ‘Go away from me now, you son of a bitch,’ said General Dreedle. ‘Or I’ll have you taken outside and shot!’
   ‘Yes, sir.’ Colonel Cathcart went away from General Dreedle with a gulp and kicked the chaplain out of the officers’ club, and it was exactly the way it almost was two months later after the chaplain had tried to persuade Colonel Cathcart to rescind his order increasing the number of missions to sixty and had failed abysmally in that endeavor too, and the chaplain was ready now to capitulate to despair entirely but was restrained by the memory of his wife, whom he loved and missed so pathetically with such sensual and exalted ardor, and by the lifelong trust he had placed in the wisdom and justice of an immortal, omnipotent, omniscient, humane, universal, anthropomorphic, English-speaking, Anglo-Saxon, pro-American God, which had begun to waver.
   So many things were testing his faith. There was the Bible, of course, but the Bible was a book, and so were Bleak House, Treasure Island, Ethan Frome and The Last of the Mohicans. Did it then seem probable, as he had once overheard Dunbar ask, that the answers to the riddles of creation would be supplied by people too ignorant to understand the mechanics of rainfall? Had Almighty God, in all His infinite wisdom, really been afraid that men six thousand years ago would succeed in building a tower to heaven? Where the devil was heaven? Was it up? Down? There was no up or down in a finite but expanding universe in which even the vast, burning, dazzling, majestic sun was in a state of progressive decay that would eventually destroy the earth too. There were no miracles; prayers went unanswered, and misfortune tramped with equal brutality on the virtuous and the corrupt; and the chaplain, who had conscience and character, would have yielded to reason and relinquished his belief in the God of his fathers—would truly have resigned both his calling and his commission and taken his chances as a private in the infantry or field artillery, or even, perhaps, as a corporal in the paratroopers—had it not been for such successive mystic phenomena as the naked man in the tree at that poor sergeant’s funeral weeks before and the cryptic, haunting, encouraging promise of the prophet Flume in the forest only that afternoon: ‘Tell them I’ll be back when winter comes.’
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Aarfy

   In a way it was all Yossarian’s fault, for if he had not moved the bomb line during the Big Siege of Bologna, Major—de Coverley might still be around to save him, and if he had not stocked the enlisted men’s apartment with girls who had no other place to live, Nately might never have fallen in love with his whore as she sat naked from the waist down in the room full of grumpy blackjack players who ignored her. Nately stared at her covertly from his over-stuffed yellow armchair, marveling at the bored, phlegmatic strength with which she accepted the mass rejection. She yawned, and he was deeply moved. He had never witnessed such heroic poise before.
   The girl had climbed five steep flights of stairs to sell herself to the group of satiated enlisted men, who had girls living there all around them; none wanted her at any price, not even after she had stripped without real enthusiasm to tempt them with a tall body that was firm and full and truly voluptuous. She seemed more fatigued than disappointed. Now she sat resting in vacuous indolence, watching the card game with dull curiosity as she gathered her recalcitrant energies for the tedious chore of donning the rest of her clothing and going back to work. In a little while she stirred. A little while later she rose with an unconscious sigh and stepped lethargically into her tight cotton panties and dark skirt, then buckled on her shoes and left. Nately slipped out behind her; and when Yossarian and Aarfy entered the officers’ apartment almost two hours later, there she was again, stepping into her panties and skirt, and it was almost like the chaplain’s recurring sensation of having been through a situation before, except for Nately, who was moping inconsolably with his hands in his pockets.
   ‘She wants to go now,’ he said in a faint, strange voice. ‘She doesn’t want to stay.’
   ‘Why don’t you just pay her some money to let you spend the rest of the day with her?’ Yossarian advised.
   ‘She gave me my money back,’ Nately admitted. ‘She’s tired of me now and wants to go looking for someone else.’ The girl paused when her shoes were on to glance in surly invitation at Yossarian and Aarfy. Her breasts were pointy and large in the thin white sleeveless sweater she wore that squeezed each contour and flowed outward smoothly with the tops of her enticing hips. Yossarian returned her gaze and was strongly attracted. He shook his head.
   ‘Good riddance to bad rubbish,’ was Aarfy’s unperturbed response.
   ‘Don’t say that about her!’ Nately protested with passion that was both a plea and a rebuke. ‘I want her to stay with me.’
   ‘What’s so special about her?’ Aarfy sneered with mock surprise. ‘She’s only a whore.’
   ‘And don’t call her a whore!’ The girl shrugged impassively after a few more seconds and ambled toward the door. Nately bounded forward wretchedly to hold it open. He wandered back in a heartbroken daze, his sensitive face eloquent with grief.
   ‘Don’t worry about it,’ Yossarian counseled him as kindly as he could. ‘You’ll probably be able to find her again. We know where all the whores hang out.’
   ‘Please don’t call her that,’ Nately begged, looking as though he might cry.
   ‘I’m sorry,’ murmured Yossarian.
   Aarfy thundered jovially, ‘There are hundreds of whores just as good crawling all over the streets. That one wasn’t even pretty.’ He chuckled mellifluously with resonant disdain and authority. ‘Why, you rushed forward to open that door as though you were in love with her.’
   ‘I think I am in love with her,’ Nately confessed in a shamed, far-off voice.
   Aarfy wrinkled his chubby round rosy forehead in comic disbelief. ‘Ho, ho, ho, ho!’ he laughed, patting the expansive forest-green sides of his officer’s tunic prosperously. ‘That’s rich. You in love with her? That’s really rich.’ Aarfy had a date that same afternoon with a Red Cross girl from Smith whose father owned an important milk-of-magnesia plant. ‘Now, that’s the kind of girl you ought to be associating with, and not with common sluts like that one. Why, she didn’t even look clean.’
   ‘I don’t care!’ Nately shouted desperately. ‘And I wish you’d shut up, I don’t even want to talk about it with you.’
   ‘Aarfy, shut up,’ said Yossarian.
   ‘Ho, ho, ho, ho!’ Aarfy continued. ‘I just can’t imagine what your father and mother would say if they knew you were running around with filthy trollops like that one. Your father is a very distinguished man, you know.’
   ‘I’m not going to tell him,’ Nately declared with determination. ‘I’m not going to say a word about her to him or Mother until after we’re married.’
   ‘Married?’ Aarfy’s indulgent merriment swelled tremendously. ‘Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho! Now you’re really talking stupid. Why, you’re not even old enough to know what true love is.’ Aarfy was an authority on the subject of true love because he had already fallen truly in love with Nately’s father and with the prospect of working for him after the war in some executive capacity as a reward for befriending Nately. Aarfy was a lead navigator who had never been able to find himself since leaving college. He was a genial, magnanimous lead navigator who could always forgive the other man in the squadron for denouncing him furiously each time he got lost on a combat mission and led them over concentrations of antiaircraft fire. He got lost on the streets of Rome that same afternoon and never did find the eligible Red Cross girl from Smith with the important milk-of-magnesia plant. He got lost on the mission to Ferrara the day Kraft was shot down and killed, and he got lost again on the weekly milk run to Parma and tried to lead the planes out to sea over the city of Leghorn after Yossarian had dropped his bombs on the undefended inland target and settled back against his thick wall of armor plate with his eyes closed and a fragrant cigarette in his fingertips. Suddenly there was flak, and all at once McWatt was shrieking over the intercom, ‘Flak! Flak! Where the hell are we? What the hell’s going on?’ Yossarian flipped his eyes open in alarm and saw the totally unexpected bulging black puffs of flak crashing down in toward them from high up and Aarfy’s complacent melon-round tiny-eyed face gazing out at the approaching cannon bursts with affable bemusement. Yossarian was flabbergasted. His leg went abruptly to sleep. McWatt had started to climb and was yelping over the intercom for instructions. Yossarian sprang forward to see where they were and remained in the same place. He was unable to move. Then he realized he was sopping wet. He looked down at his crotch with a sinking, sick sensation. A wild crimson blot was crawling upward rapidly along his shirt front like an enormous sea monster rising to devour him. He was hit! Separate trickles of blood spilled to a puddle on the floor through one saturated trouser leg like countless unstoppable swarms of wriggling red worms. His heart stopped. A second solid jolt struck the plane. Yossarian shuddered with revulsion at the queer sight of his wound and screamed at Aarfy for help.
   ‘I lost my balls! Aarfy, I lost my balls!’ Aarfy didn’t hear, and Yossarian bent forward and tugged at his arm. ‘Aarfy, help me,’ he pleaded, almost weeping, ‘I’m hit! I’m hit!’ Aarfy turned slowly with a bland, quizzical grin. ‘What?’
   ‘I’m hit, Aarfy! Help me!’ Aarfy grinned again and shrugged amiably. ‘I can’t hear you,’ he said.
   ‘Can’t you see me?’ Yossarian cried incredulously, and he pointed to the deepening pool of blood he felt splashing down all around him and spreading out underneath. ‘I’m wounded! Help me, for God’s sake! Aarfy, help me!’
   ‘I still can’t hear you,’ Aarfy complained tolerantly, cupping his podgy hand behind the blanched corolla of his ear. ‘What did you say?’ Yossarian answered in a collapsing voice, weary suddenly of shouting so much, of the whole frustrating, exasperating, ridiculous situation. He was dying, and no one took notice. ‘Never mind.’
   ‘What?’ Aarfy shouted.
   ‘I said I lost my balls! Can’t you hear me? I’m wounded in the groin!’
   ‘I still can’t hear you,’ Aaxfy chided.
   ‘I said never mind!’ Yossarian screamed with a trapped feeling of terror and began to shiver, feeling very cold suddenly and very weak.
   Aarfy shook his head regretfully again and lowered his obscene, lactescent ear almost directly into Yossarian’s face. ‘You’ll just have to speak up, my friend. You’ll just have to speak up.’
   ‘Leave me alone, you bastard! You dumb, insensitive bastard, leave me alone!’ Yossarian sobbed. He wanted to pummel Aarfy, but lacked the strength to lift his arms. He decided to sleep instead and keeled over sideways into a dead faint.
   He was wounded in the thigh, and when he recovered consciousness he found McWatt on both knees taking care of him. He was relieved, even though he still saw Aarfy’s bloated cherub’s face hanging down over McWatt’s shoulder with placid interest. Yossarian smiled feebly at McWatt, feeling ill, and asked, ‘Who’s minding the store?’ McWatt gave no sign that he heard. With growing horror, Yossarian gathered in breath and repeated the words as loudly as he could.
   McWatt looked up. ‘Christ, I’m glad you’re still alive!’ he exclaimed, heaving an enormous sigh. The good-humored, friendly crinkles about his eyes were white with tension and oily with grime as he kept unrolling an interminable bandage around the bulky cotton compress Yossarian felt strapped burdensomely to the inside of one thigh. ‘Nately’s at the controls. The poor kid almost started bawling when he heard you were hit. He still thinks you’re dead. They knocked open an artery for you, but I think I’ve got it stopped. I gave you some morphine.’
   ‘Give me some more.’
   ‘It might be too soon. I’ll give you some more when it starts to hurt.’
   ‘It hurts now.’
   ‘Oh, well, what the hell,’ said McWatt and injected another syrette of morphine into Yossarian’s arm.
   ‘When you tell Nately I’m all right…’ said Yossarian to McWatt, and lost consciousness again as everything went fuzzy behind a film of strawberry-strained gelatin and a great baritone buzz swallowed him in sound. He came to in the ambulance and smiled encouragement at Doc Daneeka’s weevil-like, glum and overshadowed countenance for the dizzy second or two he had before everything went rose-petal pink again and then turned really black and unfathomably still.
   Yossarian woke up in the hospital and went to sleep. When he woke up in the hospital again, the smell of ether was gone and Dunbar was lying in pajamas in the bed across the aisle maintaining that he was not Dunbar but a fortiori. Yossarian thought he was cracked. He curled his lip skeptically at Dunbar’s bit of news and slept on it fitfully for a day or two, then woke up while the nurses were elsewhere and eased himself out of bed to see for himself. The floor swayed like the floating raft at the beach and the stitches on the inside of his thigh bit into his flesh like fine sets of fish teeth as he limped across the aisle to peruse the name on the temperature card on the foot of Dunbar’s bed, but sure enough, Dunbar was right: he was not Dunbar any more but Second Lieutenant Anthony F. Fortiori.
   ‘What the hell’s going on?’ A. Fortiori got out of bed and motioned to Yossarian to follow. Grasping for support at anything he could reach, Yossarian limped along after him into the corridor and down the adjacent ward to a bed containing a harried young man with pimples and a receding chin. The harried young man rose on one elbow with alacrity as they approached. A. Fortiori jerked his thumb over his shoulder and said, ‘Screw.’ The harried young man jumped out of bed and ran away. A. Fortiori climbed into the bed and became Dunbar again.
   ‘That was A. Fortiori,’ Dunbar explained. ‘They didn’t have an empty bed in your ward, so I pulled my rank and chased him back here into mine. It’s a pretty satisfying experience pulling rank. You ought to try it sometime. You ought to try it right now, in fact, because you look like you’re going to fall down.’ Yossarian felt like he was going to fall down. He turned to the lantern jawed, leather-faced middle-aged man lying in the bed next to Dunbar’s, jerked his thumb over his shoulder and said ‘Screw.’ The middle-aged man stiffened fiercely and glared.
   ‘He’s a major,’ Dunbar explained. ‘Why don’t you aim a little lower and try becoming Warrant Officer Homer Lumley for a while? Then you can have a father in the state legislature and a sister who’s engaged to a champion skier. Just tell him you’re a captain.’ Yossarian turned to the startled patient Dunbar had indicated. ‘I’m a captain,’ he said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder. ‘Screw.’ The startled patient jumped down to the floor at Yossarian’s command and ran away. Yossarian climbed up into his bed and became Warrant Officer Homer Lumley, who felt like vomiting and was covered suddenly with a clammy sweat. He slept for an hour and wanted to be Yossarian again. It did not mean so much to have a father in the state legislature and a sister who was engaged to a champion skier. Dunbar led the way back to Yossarian’s ward, where he thumbed A. Fortiori out of bed to become Dunbar again for a while. There was no sign of Warrant Officer Homer Lumley. Nurse Cramer was there, though, and sizzled with sanctimonious anger like a damp firecracker. She ordered Yossarian to get right back into his bed and blocked his path so he couldn’t comply. Her pretty face was more repulsive than ever. Nurse Cramer was a good-hearted, sentimental creature who rejoiced unselfishly at news of weddings, engagements, births and anniversaries even though she was unacquainted with any of the people involved.
   ‘Are you crazy?’ she scolded virtuously, shaking an indignant finger in front of his eyes. ‘I suppose you just don’t care if you kill yourself, do you?’
   ‘It’s my self,’ he reminded her.
   ‘I suppose you just don’t care if you lose your leg, do you?’
   ‘It’s my leg.’
   ‘It certainly is not your leg!’ Nurse Cramer retorted. ‘That leg belongs to the U. S. government. It’s no different than a gear or a bedpan. The Army has invested a lot of money to make you an airplane pilot, and you’ve no right to disobey the doctor’s orders.’ Yossarian was not sure he liked being invested in. Nurse Cramer was still standing directly in front of him so that he could not pass. His head was aching. Nurse Cramer shouted at him some question he could not understand. He jerked his thumb over his shoulder and said, ‘Screw.’ Nurse Cramer cracked him in the face so hard she almost knocked him down. Yossarian drew back his fist to punch her in the jaw just as his leg buckled and he began to fall. Nurse Duckett strode up in time to catch him. She addressed them both firmly.
   ‘Just what’s going on here?’
   ‘He won’t get back into his bed,’ Nurse Cramer reported zealously in an injured tone. ‘Sue Ann, he said something absolutely horrible to me. Oh, I can’t even make myself repeat it!’
   ‘She called me a gear,’ Yossarian muttered.
   Nurse Duckett was not sympathetic. ‘Will you get back into bed,’ she said, ‘or must I take you by your ear and put you there?’
   ‘Take me by my ear and put me there,’ Yossarian dared her.
   Nurse Duckett took him by his ear and put him back in bed.
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Nurse Duckett

   Nurse Sue Ann Duckett was a tall, spare, mature, straight-backed woman with a prominent, well-rounded ass, small breasts and angular ascetic New England features that came equally close to being very lovely and very plain. Her skin was white and pink, her eyes small, her nose and chin slender and sharp. She was able, prompt, strict and intelligent. She welcomed responsibility and kept her head in every crisis. She was adult and self-reliant, and there was nothing she needed from anyone. Yossarian took pity and decided to help her.
   Next morning while she was standing bent over smoothing the sheets at the foot of his bed, he slipped his hand stealthily into the narrow space between her knees and, all at once, brought it up swiftly under her dress as far as it would go. Nurse Duckett shrieked and jumped into the air a mile, but it wasn’t high enough, and she squirmed and vaulted and seesawed back and forth on her divine fulcrum for almost a full fifteen seconds before she wiggled free finally and retreated frantically into the aisle with an ashen, trembling face. She backed away too far, and Dunbar, who had watched from the beginning, sprang forward on his bed without warning and flung both arms around her bosom from behind. Nurse Duckett let out another scream and twisted away, fleeing far enough from Dunbar for Yossarian to lunge forward and grab her by the snatch again. Nurse Duckett bounced out across the aisle once more like a ping-pong ball with legs. Dunbar was waiting vigilantly, ready to pounce. She remembered him just in time and leaped aside. Dunbar missed completely and sailed by her over the bed to the floor, landing on his skull with a soggy, crunching thud that knocked him cold.
   He woke up on the floor with a bleeding nose and exactly the same distressful head symptoms he had been feigning all along. The ward was in a chaotic uproar. Nurse Duckett was in tears, and Yossarian was consoling her apologetically as he sat beside her on the edge of a bed. The commanding colonel was wroth and shouting at Yossarian that he would not permit his patients to take indecent liberties with his nurses.
   ‘What do you want from him?’ Dunbar asked plaintively from the floor, wincing at the vibrating pains in his temples that his voice set up. ‘He didn’t do anything.’
   ‘I’m talking about you!’ the thin, dignified colonel bellowed as loudly as he could. ‘You’re going to be punished for what you did.’
   ‘What do you want from him?’ Yossarian called out. ‘All he did was fall on his head.’
   ‘And I’m talking about you too!’ the colonel declared, whirling to rage at Yossarian. ‘You’re going to be good and sorry you grabbed Nurse Duckett by the bosom.’
   ‘I didn’t grab Nurse Duckett by the bosom,’ said Yossarian.
   ‘I grabbed her by the bosom,’ said Dunbar.
   ‘Are you both crazy?’ the doctor cried shrilly, backing away in paling confusion.
   ‘Yes, he really is crazy, Doc,’ Dunbar assured him. ‘Every night he dreams he’s holding a live fish in his hands.’ The doctor stopped in his tracks with a look of elegant amazement and distaste, and the ward grew still. ‘He does what?’ he demanded.
   ‘He dreams he’s holding a live fish in his hand.’
   ‘What kind of fish?’ the doctor inquired sternly of Yossarian.
   ‘I don’t know,’ Yossarian answered. ‘I can’t tell one kind of fish from another.’
   ‘In which hand do you hold them?’
   ‘It varies,’ answered Yossarian.
   ‘It varies with the fish,’ Dunbar added helpfully.
   The colonel turned and stared down at Dunbar suspiciously with a narrow squint. ‘Yes? And how come you seem to know so much about it?’
   ‘I’m in the dream,’ Dunbar answered without cracking a smile.
   The colonel’s face flushed with embarrassment. He glared at them both with cold, unforgiving resentment. ‘Get up off the floor and into your bed,’ he directed Dunbar through thin lips. ‘And I don’t want to hear another word about this dream from either one of you. I’ve got a man on my staff to listen to disgusting bilge like this.’
   ‘Just why do you think,’ carefully inquired Major Sanderson, the soft and thickset smiling staff psychiatrist to whom the colonel had ordered Yossarian sent, ‘that Colonel Ferredge finds your dream disgusting?’ Yossarian replied respectfully. ‘I suppose it’s either some quality in the dream or some quality in Colonel Ferredge.’
   ‘That’s very well put,’ applauded Major Sanderson, who wore squeaking GI shoes and had charcoal-black hair that stood up almost straight. ‘For some reason,’ he confided, ‘Colonel Ferredge has always reminded me of a sea gull. He doesn’t put much faith in psychiatry, you know.’
   ‘You don’t like sea gulls, do you?’ inquired Yossarian.
   ‘No, not very much,’ admitted Major Sanderson with a sharp, nervous laugh and pulled at his pendulous second chin lovingly as though it were a long goatee. ‘I think your dream is charming, and I hope it recurs frequently so that we can continue discussing it. Would you like a cigarette?’ He smiled when Yossarian declined. ‘Just why do you think,’ he asked knowingly, ‘that you have such a strong aversion to accepting a cigarette from me?’
   ‘I put one out a second ago. It’s still smoldering in your ash tray.’ Major Sanderson chuckled. ‘That’s a very ingenious explanation. But I suppose we’ll soon discover the true reason.’ He tied a sloppy double bow in his opened shoelace and then transferred a lined yellow pad from his desk to his lap. ‘This fish you dream about. Let’s talk about that. It’s always the same fish, isn’t it?’
   ‘I don’t know,’ Yossarian replied. ‘I have trouble recognizing fish.’
   ‘What does the fish remind you of?’
   ‘Other fish.’
   ‘And what do other fish remind you of?’
   ‘Other fish.’ Major Sanderson sat back disappointedly. ‘Do you like fish?’
   ‘Not especially.’
   ‘Just why do you think you have such a morbid aversion to fish?’ asked Major Sanderson triumphantly.
   ‘They’re too bland,’ Yossarian answered. ‘And too bony.’ Major Sanderson nodded understandingly, with a smile that was agreeable and insincere. ‘That’s a very interesting explanation. But we’ll soon discover the true reason, I suppose. Do you like this particular fish? The one you’re holding in your hand?’
   ‘I have no feelings about it either way.’
   ‘Do you dislike the fish? Do you have any hostile or aggressive emotions toward it?’
   ‘No, not at all. In fact, I rather like the fish.’
   ‘Then you do like the fish.’
   ‘Oh, no. I have no feelings toward it either way.’
   ‘But you just said you liked it. And now you say you have no feelings toward it either way. I’ve just caught you in a contradiction. Don’t you see?’
   ‘Yes, sir. I suppose you have caught me in a contradiction.’ Major Sanderson proudly lettered ‘Contradiction’ on his pad with his thick black pencil. ‘Just why do you think,’ he resumed when he had finished, looking up, ‘that you made those two statements expressing contradictory emotional responses to the fish?’
   ‘I suppose I have an ambivalent attitude toward it.’ Major Sanderson sprang up with joy when he heard the words ‘ambivalent attitude’. ‘You do understand!’ he exclaimed, wringing his hands together ecstatically. ‘Oh, you can’t imagine how lonely it’s been for me, talking day after day to patients who haven’t the slightest knowledge of psychiatry, trying to cure people who have no real interest in me or my work! It’s given me such a terrible feeling of inadequacy.’ A shadow of anxiety crossed his face. ‘I can’t seem to shake it.’
   ‘Really?’ asked Yossarian, wondering what else to say. ‘Why do you blame yourself for gaps in the education of others?’
   ‘It’s silly, I know,’ Major Sanderson replied uneasily with a giddy, involuntary laugh. ‘But I’ve always depended very heavily on the good opinion of others. I reached puberty a bit later than all the other boys my age, you see, and it’s given me sort of—well, all sorts of problems. I just know I’m going to enjoy discussing them with you. I’m so eager to begin that I’m almost reluctant to digress now to your problem, but I’m afraid I must. Colonel Ferredge would be cross if he knew we were spending all our time on me. I’d like to show you some ink blots now to find out what certain shapes and colors remind you of.’
   ‘You can save yourself the trouble, Doctor. Everything reminds me of sex.’
   ‘Does it?’ cried Major Sanderson with delight, as though unable to believe his ears. ‘Now we’re really getting somewhere! Do you ever have any good sex dreams?’
   ‘My fish dream is a sex dream.’
   ‘No, I mean real sex dreams—the kind where you grab some naked bitch by the neck and pinch her and punch her in the face until she’s all bloody and then throw yourself down to ravish her and burst into tears because you love her and hate her so much you don’t know what else to do. That’s the kind of sex dreams I like to talk about. Don’t you ever have sex dreams like that?’ Yossarian reflected a moment with a wise look. ‘That’s a fish dream,’ he decided.
   Major Sanderson recoiled as though he had been slapped. ‘Yes, of course,’ he conceded frigidly, his manner changing to one of edgy and defensive antagonism. ‘But I’d like you to dream one like that anyway just to see how you react. That will be all for today. In the meantime, I’d also like you to dream up the answers to some of those questions I asked you. These sessions are no more pleasant for me than they are for you, you know.’
   ‘I’ll mention it to Dunbar,’ Yossarian replied.
   ‘ Dunbar?’
   ‘He’s the one who started it all. It’s his dream.’
   ‘Oh, Dunbar.’ Major Sanderson sneered, his confidence returning. ‘I’ll bet Dunbar is that evil fellow who really does all those nasty things you’re always being blamed for, isn’t he?’
   ‘He’s not so evil.’ And yet you’ll defend him to the very death, won’t you?’
   ‘Not that far.’ Major Sanderson smiled tauntingly and wrote ‘Dunbar’ on his pad. ‘Why are you limping?’ he asked sharply, as Yossarian moved to the door. ‘And what the devil is that bandage doing on your leg? Are you mad or something?’
   ‘I was wounded in the leg. That’s what I’m in the hospital for.’
   ‘Oh, no, you’re not,’ gloated Major Sanderson maliciously. ‘You’re in the hospital for a stone in your salivary gland. So you’re not so smart after all, are you? You don’t even know what you’re in the hospital for.’
   ‘I’m in the hospital for a wounded leg,’ Yossarian insisted.
   Major Sanderson ignored his argument with a sarcastic laugh. ‘Well, give my regards to your friend Dunbar. And you will tell him to dream that dream for me, won’t you?’ But Dunbar had nausea and dizziness with his constant headache and was not inclined to co-operate with Major Sanderson. Hungry Joe had nightmares because he had finished sixty missions and was waiting again to go home, but he was unwilling to share any when he came to the hospital to visit.
   ‘Hasn’t anyone got any dreams for Major Sanderson?’ Yossarian asked. ‘I hate to disappoint him. He feels so rejected already.’
   ‘I’ve been having a very peculiar dream ever since I learned you were wounded,’ confessed the chaplain. ‘I used to dream every night that my wife was dying or being murdered or that my children were choking to death on morsels of nutritious food. Now I dream that I’m out swimming in water over my head and a shark is eating my left leg in exactly the same place where you have your bandage.’
   ‘That’s a wonderful dream,’ Dunbar declared. ‘I bet Major Sanderson will love it.’
   ‘That’s a horrible dream!’ Major Sanderson cried. ‘It’s filled with pain and mutilation and death. I’m sure you had it just to spite me. You know, I’m not even sure you belong in the Army, with a disgusting dream like that.’ Yossarian thought he spied a ray of hope. ‘Perhaps you’re right, sir,’ he suggested slyly. ‘Perhaps I ought to be grounded and returned to the States.’
   ‘Hasn’t it ever occurred to you that in your promiscuous pursuit of women you are merely trying to assuage your subconscious fears of sexual impotence?’
   ‘Yes, sir, it has.’
   ‘Then why do you do it?’
   ‘To assuage my fears of sexual impotence.’
   ‘Why don’t you get yourself a good hobby instead?’ Major Sanderson inquired with friendly interest. ‘Like fishing. Do you really find Nurse Duckett so attractive? I should think she was rather bony. Rather bland and bony, you know. Like a fish.’
   ‘I hardly know Nurse Duckett.’
   ‘Then why did you grab her by the bosom? Merely because she has one?’
   ‘ Dunbar did that.’
   ‘Oh, don’t start that again,’ Major Sanderson exclaimed with vitriolic scorn, and hurled down his pencil disgustedly. ‘Do you really think that you can absolve yourself of guilt by pretending to be someone else? I don’t like you, Fortiori. Do you know that? I don’t like you at all.’ Yossarian felt a cold, damp wind of apprehension blow over him. ‘I’m not Fortiori, sir,’ he said timidly. ‘I’m Yossarian.’
   ‘You’re who?’
   ‘My name is Yossarian, sir. And I’m in the hospital with a wounded leg.’
   ‘Your name is Fortiori,’ Major Sanderson contradicted him belligerently. ‘And you’re in the hospital for a stone in your salivary gland.’
   ‘Oh, come on, Major!’ Yossarian exploded. ‘I ought to know who I am.’
   ‘And I’ve got an official Army record here to prove it,’ Major Sanderson retorted. ‘You’d better get a grip on yourself before it’s too late. First you’re Dunbar. Now you’re Yossarian. The next thing you know you’ll be claiming you’re Washington Irving. Do you know what’s wrong with you? You’ve got a split personality, that’s what’s wrong with you.’
   ‘Perhaps you’re right, sir.’ Yossarian agreed diplomatically.
   ‘I know I’m right. You’ve got a bad persecution complex. You think people are trying to harm you.’
   ‘People are trying to harm me.’
   ‘You see? You have no respect for excessive authority or obsolete traditions. You’re dangerous and depraved, and you ought to be taken outside and shot!’
   ‘Are you serious?’
   ‘You’re an enemy of the people!’
   ‘Are you nuts?’ Yossarian shouted.
   ‘No, I’m not nuts,’ Dobbs roared furiously back in the ward, in what he imagined was a furtive whisper. ‘Hungry Joe saw them, I tell you. He saw them yesterday when he flew to Naples to pick up some black-market air conditioners for Colonel Cathcart’s farm. They’ve got a big replacement center there and it’s filled with hundreds of pilots, bombardiers and gunners on the way home. They’ve got forty-five missions, that’s all. A few with Purple Hearts have even less. Replacement crews are pouring in from the States into the other bomber groups. They want everyone to serve overseas at least once, even administrative personnel. Don’t you read the papers? We’ve got to kill him now!’
   ‘You’ve got only two more missions to fly,’ Yossarian reasoned with him in a low voice. ‘Why take a chance?’
   ‘I can get killed flying them, too,’ Dobbs answered pugnaciously in his rough, quavering, overwrought voice. ‘We can kill him the first thing tomorrow morning when he drives back from his farm. I’ve got the gun right here.’ Yossarian goggled with amazement as Dobbs pulled a gun out of his pocket and displayed it high in the air. ‘Are you crazy?’ he hissed frantically. ‘Put it away. And keep your idiot voice down.’
   ‘What are you worried about?’ Dobbs asked with offended innocence. ‘No one can hear us.’
   ‘Hey, knock it off down there,’ a voice rang out from the far end of the ward. ‘Can’t you see we’re trying to nap?’
   ‘What the hell are you, a wise guy?’ Dobbs yelled back and spun around with clenched fists, ready to fight. He whirled back to Yossarian and, before he could speak, sneezed thunderously six times, staggering sideways on rubbery legs in the intervals and raising his elbows ineffectively to fend each seizure off. The lids of his watery eyes were puffy and inflamed.
   ‘Who does he think,’ he demanded, sniffing spasmodically and wiping his nose with the back of his sturdy wrist, ‘he is, a cop or something?’
   ‘He’s a C.I.D. man,’ Yossarian notified him tranquilly. ‘We’ve got three here now and more on the way. Oh, don’t be scared. They’re after a forger named Washington Irving. They’re not interested in murderers.’
   ‘Murderers?’ Dobbs was affronted. ‘Why do you call us murderers? Just because we’re going to murder Colonel Cathcart?’
   ‘Be quiet, damn you!’ directed Yossarian. ‘Can’t you whisper?’
   ‘I am whispering. I—’
   ‘You’re still shouting.’
   ‘No, I’m not. I—’
   ‘Hey, shut up down there, will you?’ patients all over the ward began hollering at Dobbs.
   ‘I’ll fight you all!’ Dobbs screamed back at them, and stood up on a rickety wooden chair, waving the gun wildly. Yossarian caught his arm and yanked him down. Dobbs began sneezing again. ‘I have an allergy,’ he apologized when he had finished, his nostrils running and his eyes streaming with tears.
   ‘That’s too bad. You’d make a great leader of men without it.’
   ‘Colonel Cathcart’s the murderer,’ Dobbs complained hoarsely when he had shoved away a soiled, crumpled khaki handkerchief. ‘Colonel Cathcart’s the one who’s going to murder us all if we don’t do something to stop him.’
   ‘Maybe he won’t raise the missions any more. Maybe sixty is as high as he’ll go.’
   ‘He always raises the missions. You know that better than I do.’ Dobbs swallowed and bent his intense face very close to Yossarian’s, the muscles in his bronze, rocklike jaw bunching up into quivering knots. ‘Just say it’s okay and I’ll do the whole thing tomorrow morning. Do you understand what I’m telling you? I’m whispering now, ain’t I?’ Yossarian tore his eyes away from the gaze of burning entreaty Dobbs had fastened on him. ‘Why the goddam hell don’t you just go out and do it?’ he protested. ‘Why don’t you stop talking to me about it and do it alone?’
   ‘I’m afraid to do it alone. I’m afraid to do anything alone.’
   ‘Then leave me out of it. I’d have to be crazy to get mixed up in something like this now. I’ve got a million-dollar leg wound here. They’re going to send me home.’
   ‘Are you crazy?’ Dobbs exclaimed in disbelief. ‘All you’ve got there is a scratch. He’ll have you back flying combat missions the day you come out, Purple Heart and all.’
   ‘Then I really will kill him,’ Yossarian vowed. ‘I’ll come looking for you and we’ll do it together.’
   ‘Then let’s do it tomorrow while we’ve still got the chance,’ Dobbs pleaded. ‘The chaplain says he’s volunteered the group for Avignon again. I may be killed before you get out. Look how these hands of mine shake. I can’t fly a plane. I’m not good enough.’ Yossarian was afraid to say yes. ‘I want to wait and see what happens first.’
   ‘The trouble with you is that you just won’t do anything,’ Dobbs complained in a thick infuriated voice.
   ‘I’m doing everything I possibly can,’ the chaplain explained softly to Yossarian after Dobbs had departed. ‘I even went to the medical tent to speak to Doc Daneeka about helping you.’
   ‘Yes, I can see.’ Yossarian suppressed a smile. ‘What happened?’
   ‘They painted my gums purple,’ the chaplain replied sheepishly.
   ‘They painted his toes purple, too,’ Nately added in outrage. ‘And then they gave him a laxative.’
   ‘But I went back again this morning to see him.’
   ‘And they painted his gums purple again,’ said Nately.
   ‘But I did get to speak to him,’ the chaplain argued in a plaintive tone of self-justification. ‘Doctor Daneeka seems like such an unhappy man. He suspects that someone is plotting to transfer him to the Pacific Ocean. All this time he’s been thinking of coming to me for help. When I told him I needed his help, he wondered if there wasn’t a chaplain I couldn’t go see.’ The chaplain waited in patient dejection when Yossarian and Dunbar both broke into laughter. ‘I used to think it was immoral to be unhappy,’ he continued, as though keening aloud in solitude. ‘Now I don’t know what to think any more. I’d like to make the subject of immorality the basis of my sermon this Sunday, but I’m not sure I ought to give any sermon at all with these purple gums. Colonel Korn was very displeased with them.’
   ‘Chaplain, why don’t you come into the hospital with us for a while and take it easy?’ Yossarian invited. ‘You could be very comfortable here.’ The brash iniquity of the proposal tempted and amused the chaplain for a second or two. ‘No, I don’t think so,’ he decided reluctantly. ‘I want to arrange for a trip to the mainland to see a mail clerk named Wintergreen. Doctor Daneeka told me he could help.’
   ‘Wintergreen is probably the most influential man in the whole theater of operations. He’s not only a mail clerk, but he has access to a mimeograph machine. But he won’t help anybody. That’s one of the reasons he’ll go far.’
   ‘I’d like to speak to him anyway. There must be somebody who will help you.’
   ‘Do it for Dunbar, Chaplain,’ Yossarian corrected with a superior air. ‘I’ve got this million-dollar leg wound that will take me out of combat. If that doesn’t do it, there’s a psychiatrist who thinks I’m not good enough to be in the Army.’
   ‘I’m the one who isn’t good enough to be in the Army,’ Dunbar whined jealously. ‘It was my dream.’
   ‘It’s not the dream, Dunbar,’ Yossarian explained. ‘He likes your dream. It’s my personality. He thinks it’s split.’
   ‘It’s split right down the middle,’ said Major Sanderson, who had laced his lumpy GI shoes for the occasion and had slicked his charcoal-dull hair down with some stiffening and redolent tonic. He smiled ostentatiously to show himself reasonable and nice. ‘I’m not saying that to be cruel and insulting,’ he continued with cruel and insulting delight. ‘I’m not saying it because I hate you and want revenge. I’m not saying it because you rejected me and hurt my feelings terribly. No, I’m a man of medicine and I’m being coldly objective. I have very bad news for you. Are you man enough to take it?’
   ‘God, no!’ screamed Yossarian. ‘I’ll go right to pieces.’ Major Sanderson flew instantly into a rage. ‘Can’t you even do one thing right?’ he pleaded, turning beet-red with vexation and crashing the sides of both fists down upon his desk together. ‘The trouble with you is that you think you’re too good for all the conventions of society. You probably think you’re too good for me too, just because I arrived at puberty late. Well, do you know what you are? You’re a frustrated, unhappy, disillusioned, undisciplined, maladjusted young man!’ Major Sanderson’s disposition seemed to mellow as he reeled off the uncomplimentary adjectives.
   ‘Yes, sir,’ Yossarian agreed carefully. ‘I guess you’re right.’
   ‘Of course I’m right. You’re immature. You’ve been unable to adjust to the idea of war.’
   ‘Yes, sir.’
   ‘You have a morbid aversion to dying. You probably resent the fact that you’re at war and might get your head blown off any second.’
   ‘I more than resent it, sir. I’m absolutely incensed.’
   ‘You have deep-seated survival anxieties. And you don’t like bigots, bullies, snobs or hypocrites. Subconsciously there are many people you hate.’
   ‘Consciously, sir, consciously,’ Yossarian corrected in an effort to help. ‘I hate them consciously.’
   ‘You’re antagonistic to the idea of being robbed, exploited, degraded, humiliated or deceived. Misery depresses you. Ignorance depresses you. Persecution depresses you. Violence depresses you. Slums depress you. Greed depresses you. Crime depresses you. Corruption depresses you. You know, it wouldn’t surprise me if you’re a manic-depressive!’
   ‘Yes, sir. Perhaps I am.’
   ‘Don’t try to deny it.’
   ‘I’m not denying it, sir,’ said Yossarian, pleased with the miraculous rapport that finally existed between them. ‘I agree with all you’ve said.’
   ‘Then you admit you’re crazy, do you?’
   ‘Crazy?’ Yossarian was shocked. ‘What are you talking about? Why am I crazy? You’re the one who’s crazy!’ Major Sanderson turned red with indignation again and crashed both fists down upon his thighs. ‘Calling me crazy,’ he shouted in a sputtering rage, ‘is a typically sadistic and vindictive paranoiac reaction! You really are crazy!’
   ‘Then why don’t you send me home?’
   ‘And I’m going to send you home!’
   ‘They’re going to send me home!’ Yossarian announced jubilantly, as he hobbled back into the ward.
   ‘Me too!’ A. Fortiori rejoiced. ‘They just came to my ward and told me.’
   ‘What about me?’ Dunbar demanded petulantly of the doctors.
   ‘You?’ they replied with asperity. ‘You’re going with Yossarian. Right back into combat!’ And back into combat they both went. Yossarian was enraged when the ambulance returned him to the squadron, and he went limping for justice to Doc Daneeka, who glared at him glumly with misery and disdain.
   ‘You!’ Doc Daneeka exclaimed mournfully with accusing disgust, the egg-shaped pouches under both eyes firm and censorious. ‘All you ever think of is yourself. Go take a look at the bomb line if you want to see what’s been happening since you went to the hospital.’ Yossarian was startled. ‘Are we losing?’
   ‘Losing?’ Doc Daneeka cried. ‘The whole military situation has been going to hell ever since we captured Paris. I knew it would happen.’ He paused, his sulking ire turning to melancholy, and frowned irritably as though it were all Yossarian’s fault. ‘American troops are pushing into German soil. The Russians have captured back all of Romania. Only yesterday the Greeks in the Eighth Army captured Rimini. The Germans are on the defensive everywhere!’ Doc Daneeka paused again and fortified himself with a huge breath for a piercing ejaculation of grief. ‘There’s no more Luftwaffe left!’ he wailed. He seemed ready to burst into tears. ‘The whole Gothic line is in danger of collapsing!’
   ‘So?’ asked Yossarian. ‘What’s wrong?’
   ‘What’s wrong?’ Doc Daneeka cried. ‘If something doesn’t happen soon, Germany may surrender. And then we’ll all be sent to the Pacific!’ Yossarian gawked at Doc Daneeka in grotesque dismay. ‘Are you crazy? Do you know what you’re saying?’
   ‘Yeah, it’s easy for you to laugh,’ Doc Daneeka sneered.
   ‘Who the hell is laughing?’
   ‘At least you’ve got a chance. You’re in combat and might get killed. But what about me? I’ve got nothing to hope for.’
   ‘You’re out of your goddam head!’ Yossarian shouted at him emphatically, seizing him by the shirt front. ‘Do you know that? Now keep your stupid mouth shut and listen to me.’ Doc Daneeka wrenched himself away. ‘Don’t you dare talk to me like that. I’m a licensed physician.’
   ‘Then keep your stupid licensed physician’s mouth shut and listen to what they told me up at the hospital. I’m crazy. Did you know that?’
   ‘So?’
   ‘Really crazy.’
   ‘So?’
   ‘I’m nuts. Cuckoo. Don’t you understand? I’m off my rocker. They sent someone else home in my place by mistake. They’ve got a licensed psychiatrist up at the hospital who examined me, and that was his verdict. I’m really insane.’
   ‘So?’
   ‘So?’ Yossarian was puzzled by Doc Daneeka’s inability to comprehend. ‘Don’t you see what that means? Now you can take me off combat duty and send me home. They’re not going to send a crazy man out to be killed, are they?’
   ‘Who else will go?’
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Dobbs

   McWatt went, and McWatt was not crazy. And so did Yossarian, still walking with a limp, and when Yossarian had gone two more times and then found himself menaced by the rumor of another mission to Bologna, he limped determinedly into Dobbs’s tent early one warm afternoon, put a finger to his mouth and said, ‘Shush!’
   ‘What are you shushing him for?’ asked Kid Sampson, peeling a tangerine with his front teeth as he perused the dog-eared pages of a comic book. ‘He isn’t even saying anything.’
   ‘Screw,’ said Yossarian to Kid Sampson, jerking his thumb back over his shoulder toward the entrance of the tent.
   Kid Sampson cocked his blond eyebrows discerningly and rose to co-operate. He whistled upward four times into his drooping yellow mustache and spurted away into the hills on the dented old green motorcycle he had purchased secondhand months before. Yossarian waited until the last faint bark of the motor had died away in the distance. Things inside the tent did not seem quite normal. The place was too neat. Dobbs was watching him curiously, smoking a fat cigar. Now that Yossarian had made up his mind to be brave, he was deathly afraid.
   ‘All right,’ he said. ‘Let’s kill Colonel Cathcart. We’ll do it together.’ Dobbs sprang forward off his cot with a look of wildest terror. ‘Shush!’ he roared. ‘Kill Colonel Cathcart? What are you talking about?’
   ‘Be quiet, damn it,’ Yossarian snarled. ‘The whole island will hear. Have you still got that gun?’
   ‘Are you crazy or something?’ shouted Dobbs. ‘Why should I want to kill Colonel Cathcart?’
   ‘Why?’ Yossarian stared at Dobbs with an incredulous scowl. ‘Why? It was your idea, wasn’t it? Didn’t you come to the hospital and ask me to do it?’ Dobbs smiled slowly. ‘But that was when I had only fifty-eight missions,’ he explained, puffing on his cigar luxuriously. ‘I’m all packed now and I’m waiting to go home. I’ve finished my sixty missions.’
   ‘So what?’ Yossarian replied. ‘He’s only going to raise them again.’
   ‘Maybe this time he won’t.’
   ‘He always raises them. What the hell’s the matter with you, Dobbs? Ask Hungry Joe how many time he’s packed his bags.’
   ‘I’ve got to wait and see what happens,’ Dobbs maintained stubbornly. ‘I’d have to be crazy to get mixed up in something like this now that I’m out of combat.’ He flicked the ash from his cigar. ‘No, my advice to you,’ he remarked, ‘is that you fly your sixty missions like the rest of us and then see what happens.’ Yossarian resisted the impulse to spit squarely in his eye. ‘I may not live through sixty,’ he wheedled in a flat, pessimistic voice. ‘There’s a rumor around that he volunteered the group for Bologna again.’
   ‘It’s only a rumor,’ Dobbs pointed out with a self-important air. ‘You mustn’t believe every rumor you hear.’
   ‘Will you stop giving me advice?’
   ‘Why don’t you speak to Orr?’ Dobbs advised. ‘Orr got knocked down into the water again last week on that second mission to Avignon. Maybe he’s unhappy enough to kill him.’
   ‘Orr hasn’t got brains enough to be unhappy.’ Orr had been knocked down into the water again while Yossarian was still in the hospital and had eased his crippled airplane down gently into the glassy blue swells off Marseilles with such flawless skill that not one member of the six-man crew suffered the slightest bruise. The escape hatches in the front and rear sections flew open while the sea was still foaming white and green around the plane, and the men scrambled out as speedily as they could in their flaccid orange Mae West life jackets that failed to inflate and dangled limp and useless around their necks and waists. The life jackets failed to inflate because Milo had removed the twin carbon-dioxide cylinders from the inflating chambers to make the strawberry and crushed-pineapple ice-cream sodas he served in the officers’ mess hall and had replaced them with mimeographed notes that read: ‘What’s good for M & M Enterprises is good for the country.’ Orr popped out of the sinking airplane last.
   ‘You should have seen him!’ Sergeant Knight roared with laughter as he related the episode to Yossarian. ‘It was the funniest goddam thing you ever saw. None of the Mae Wests would work because Milo had stolen the carbon dioxide to make those ice-cream sodas you bastards have been getting in the officers’ mess. But that wasn’t too bad, as it turned out. Only one of us couldn’t swim, and we lifted that guy up into the raft after Orr had worked it over by its rope right up against the fuselage while we were all still standing on the plane. That little crackpot sure has a knack for things like that. Then the other raft came loose and drifted away, so that all six of us wound up sitting in one with our elbows and legs pressed so close against each other you almost couldn’t move without knocking the guy next to you out of the raft into the water. The plane went down about three seconds after we left it and we were out there all alone, and right after that we began unscrewing the caps on our Mae Wests to see what the hell had gone wrong and found those goddam notes from Milo telling us that what was good for him was good enough for the rest of us. That bastard! Jesus, did we curse him, all except that buddy of yours, Orr, who just kept grinning as though for all he cared what was good for Milo might be good enough for the rest of us.
   ‘I swear, you should have seen him sitting up there on the rim of the raft like the captain of a ship while the rest of us just watched him and waited for him to tell us what to do. He kept slapping his hands on his legs every few seconds as though he had the shakes and saying, "All right now, all right," and giggling like a crazy little freak, then saying, "All right now, all right," again, and giggling like a crazy little freak some more. It was like watching some kind of a moron. Watching him was all that kept us from going to pieces altogether during the first few minutes, what with each wave washing over us into the raft or dumping a few of us back into the water so that we had to climb back in again before the next wave came along and washed us right back out. It was sure funny. We just kept falling out and climbing back in. We had the guy who couldn’t swim stretched out in the middle of the raft on the floor, but even there he almost drowned, because the water inside the raft was deep enough to keep splashing in his face. Oh, boy!
   ‘Then Orr began opening up compartments in the raft, and the fun really began. First he found a box of chocolate bars and he passed those around so we sat there eating salty chocolate bars while the waves kept knocking us out of the raft into the water. Next he found some bouillon cubes and aluminum cups and made us some soup. Then he found some tea. Sure, he made it! Can’t you see him serving us tea as we sat there soaking wet in water up to our ass? Now I was falling out of the raft because I was laughing so much. We were all laughing. And he was dead serious, except for that goofy giggle of his and that crazy grin. What a jerk! Whatever he found he used. He found some shark repellent and he sprinkled it right out into the water. He found some marker dye and he threw it into the water. The next thing he finds is a fishing line and dried bait, and his face lights up as though the Air-Sea Rescue launch had just sped up to save us before we died of exposure or before the Germans sent a boat out from Spezia to take us prisoner or machine-gun us. In no time at all, Orr had that fishing line out into the water, trolling away as happy as a lark. "Lieutenant, what do you expect to catch?" I asked him. "Cod," he told me. And he meant it. And it’s a good thing he didn’t catch any, because he would have eaten that codfish raw if he had caught any, and would have made us eat it, too, because he had found this little book that said it was all right to eat codfish raw.
   ‘The next thing he found was this little blue oar about the size of a Dixie-cup spoon, and, sure enough, he began rowing with it, trying to move all nine hundred pounds of us with that little stick. Can you imagine? After that he found a small magnetic compass and a big waterproof map, and he spread the map open on his knees and set the compass on top of it. And that’s how he spent the time until the launch picked us up about thirty minutes later, sitting there with that baited fishing line out behind him, with the compass in his lap and the map spread out on his knees, and paddling away as hard as he could with that dinky blue oar as though he was speeding to Majorca. Jesus!’ Sergeant Knight knew all about Majorca, and so did Orr, because Yossarian had told them often of such sanctuaries as Spain, Switzerland and Sweden where American fliers could be interned for the duration of the war under conditions of utmost ease and luxury merely by flying there. Yossarian was the squadron’s leading authority on internment and had already begun plotting an emergency heading into Switzerland on every mission he flew into northernmost Italy. He would certainly have preferred Sweden, where the level of intelligence was high and where he could swim nude with beautiful girls with low, demurring voices and sire whole happy, undisciplined tribes of illegitimate Yossarians that the state would assist through parturition and launch into life without stigma; but Sweden was out of reach, too far away, and Yossarian waited for the piece of flak that would knock out one engine over the Italian Alps and provide him with the excuse for heading for Switzerland. He would not even tell his pilot he was guiding him there. Yossarian often thought of scheming with some pilot he trusted to fake a crippled engine and then destroy the evidence of deception with a belly landing, but the only pilot he really trusted was McWatt, who was happiest where he was and still got a big boot out of buzzing his plane over Yossarian’s tent or roaring in so low over the bathers at the beach that the fierce wind from his propellers slashed dark furrows in the water and whipped sheets of spray flapping back for seconds afterward.
   Dobbs and Hungry Joe were out of the question, and so was Orr, who was tinkering with the valve of the stove again when Yossarian limped despondently back into the tent after Dobbs had turned him down. The stove Orr was manufacturing out of an inverted metal drum stood in the middle of the smooth cement floor he had constructed. He was working sedulously on both knees. Yossarian tried paying no attention to him and limped wearily to his cot and sat down with a labored, drawn-out grunt. Prickles of perspiration were turning chilly on his forehead. Dobbs had depressed him. Doc Daneeka depressed him. An ominous vision of doom depressed him when he looked at Orr. He began ticking with a variety of internal tremors. Nerves twitched, and the vein in one wrist began palpitating.
   Orr studied Yossarian over his shoulder, his moist lips drawn back around convex rows of large buck teeth. Reaching sideways, he dug a bottle of warm beer out of his foot locker, and he handed it to Yossarian after prying off the cap. Neither said a word. Yossarian sipped the bubbles off the top and tilted his head back. Orr watched him cunningly with a noiseless grin. Yossarian eyed Orr guardedly. Orr snickered with a slight, mucid sibilance and turned back to his work, squatting. Yossarian grew tense.
   ‘Don’t start,’ he begged in a threatening voice, both hands tightening around his beer bottle. ‘Don’t start working on your stove.’ Orr cackled quietly. ‘I’m almost finished.’
   ‘No, you’re not. You’re about to begin.’
   ‘Here’s the valve. See? It’s almost all together.’
   ‘And you’re about to take it apart. I know what you’re doing, you bastard. I’ve seen you do it three hundred times.’ Orr shivered with glee. ‘I want to get the leak in this gasoline line out,’ he explained. ‘I’ve got it down now to where it’s only an ooze.’
   ‘I can’t watch you,’ Yossarian confessed tonelessly. ‘If you want to work with something big, that’s okay. But that valve is filled with tiny parts, and I just haven’t got the patience right now to watch you working so hard over things that are so goddam small and unimportant.’
   ‘Just because they’re small doesn’t mean they’re unimportant.’
   ‘I don’t care.’
   ‘Once more?’
   ‘When I’m not around. You’re a happy imbecile and you don’t know what it means to feel the way I do. Things happen to me when you work over small things that I can’t even begin to explain. I find out that I can’t stand you. I start to hate you, and I’m soon thinking seriously about busting this bottle down on your head or stabbing you in the neck with that hunting knife there. Do you understand?’ Orr nodded very intelligently. ‘I won’t take the valve apart now,’ he said, and began taking it apart, working with slow, tireless, interminable precision, his rustic, ungainly face bent very close to the floor, picking painstakingly at the minute mechanism in his fingers with such limitless, plodding concentration that he seemed scarcely to be thinking of it at all.
   Yossarian cursed him silently and made up his mind to ignore him. ‘What the hell’s your hurry with that stove, anyway?’ he barked out a moment later in spite of himself. ‘It’s still hot out. We’re probably going swimming later. What are you worried about the cold for.’
   ‘The days are getting shorter,’ Orr observed philosophically. ‘I’d like to get this all finished for you while there’s still time. You’ll have the best stove in the squadron when I’m through. It will burn all night with this feed control I’m fixing, and these metal plates will radiate the heat all over the tent. If you leave a helmet full of water on this thing when you go to sleep, you’ll have warm water to wash with all ready for you when you wake up. Won’t that be nice? If you want to cook eggs or soup, all you’ll have to do is set the pot down here and turn the fire up.’
   ‘What do you mean, me?’ Yossarian wanted to know. ‘Where are you going to be?’ Orr’s stunted torso shook suddenly with a muffled spasm of amusement. ‘I don’t know,’ he exclaimed, and a weird, wavering giggle gushed out suddenly through his chattering buck teeth like an exploding jet of emotion. He was still laughing when he continued, and his voice was clogged with saliva. ‘If they keep on shooting me down this way, I don’t know where I’m going to be.’ Yossarian was moved. ‘Why don’t you try to stop flying, Orr? You’ve got an excuse.’
   ‘I’ve only got eighteen missions.’
   ‘But you’ve been shot down on almost every one. You’re either ditching or crash-landing every time you go up.’
   ‘Oh, I don’t mind flying missions. I guess they’re lots of fun. You ought to try flying a few with me when you’re not flying lead. Just for laughs. Tee-hee.’ Orr gazed up at Yossarian through the corners of his eyes with a look of pointed mirth.
   Yossarian avoided his stare. ‘They’ve got me flying lead again.’
   ‘When you’re not flying lead. If you had any brains, do you know what you’d do? You’d go right to Piltchard and Wren and tell them you want to fly with me.’
   ‘And get shot down with you every time you go up? What’s the fun in that?’
   ‘That’s just why you ought to do it,’ Orr insisted. ‘I guess I’m just about the best pilot around now when it comes to ditching or making crash landings. It would be good practice for you.’
   ‘Good practice for what?’
   ‘Good practice in case you ever have to ditch or make a crash landing. Tee-hee-hee.’
   ‘Have you got another bottle of beer for me?’ Yossarian asked morosely.
   ‘Do you want to bust it down on my head?’ This time Yossarian did laugh. ‘Like that whore in that apartment in Rome?’ Orr sniggered lewdly, his bulging crab apple cheeks blowing outward with pleasure. ‘Do you really want to know why she was hitting me over the head with her shoe?’ he teased.
   ‘I do know,’ Yossarian teased back. ‘Nately’s whore told me.’ Orr grinned like a gargoyle. ‘No she didn’t.’ Yossarian felt sorry for Orr. Orr was so small and ugly. Who would protect him if he lived? Who would protect a warm-hearted, simple-minded gnome like Orr from rowdies and cliques and from expert athletes like Appleby who had flies in their eyes and would walk right over him with swaggering conceit and self-assurance every chance they got? Yossarian worried frequently about Orr. Who would shield him against animosity and deceit, against people with ambition and the embittered snobbery of the big shot’s wife, against the squalid, corrupting indignities of the profit motive and the friendly neighborhood butcher with inferior meat? Orr was a happy and unsuspecting simpleton with a thick mass of wavy polychromatic hair parted down the center. He would be mere child’s play for them. They would take his money, screw his wife and show no kindness to his children. Yossarian felt a flood of compassion sweep over him.
   Orr was an eccentric midget, a freakish, likable dwarf with a smutty mind and a thousand valuable skills that would keep him in a low income group all his life. He could use a soldering iron and hammer two boards together so that the wood did not split and the nails did not bend. He could drill holes. He had built a good deal more in the tent while Yossarian was away in the hospital. He had filed or chiseled a perfect channel in the cement so that the slender gasoline line was flush with the floor as it ran to the stove from the tank he had built outside on an elevated platform. He had constructed andirons for the fireplace out of excess bomb parts and had filled them with stout silver logs, and he had framed with stained wood the photographs of girls with big breasts he had torn out of cheesecake magazines and hung over the mantelpiece. Orr could open a can of paint. He could mix paint, thin paint, remove paint. He could chop wood and measure things with a ruler. He knew how to build fires. He could dig holes, and he had a real gift for bringing water for them both in cans and canteens from the tanks near the mess hall. He could engross himself in an inconsequential task for hours without growing restless or bored, as oblivious to fatigue as the stump of a tree, and almost as taciturn. He had an uncanny knowledge of wildlife and was not afraid of dogs or cats or beetles or moths, or of foods like scrod or tripe.
   Yossarian sighed drearily and began brooding about the rumored mission to Bologna. The valve Orr was dismantling was about the size of a thumb and contained thirty-seven separate parts, excluding the casing, many of them so minute that Orr was required to pinch them tightly between the tips of his fingernails as he placed them carefully on the floor in orderly, catalogued rows, never quickening his movements or slowing them down, never tiring, never pausing in his relentless, methodical, monotonous procedure unless it was to leer at Yossarian with maniacal mischief. Yossarian tried not to watch him. He counted the parts and thought he would go clear out of his mind. He turned away, shutting his eyes, but that was even worse, for now he had only the sounds, the tiny maddening, indefatigable, distinct clicks and rustles of hands and weightless parts. Orr was breathing rhythmically with a noise that was stertorous and repulsive. Yossarian clenched his fists and looked at the long bone-handled hunting knife hanging in a holster over the cot of the dead man in the tent. As soon as he thought of stabbing Orr, his tension eased. The idea of murdering Orr was so ridiculous that he began to consider it seriously with queer whimsy and fascination. He searched the nape of Orr’s neck for the probable site of the medulla oblongata. Just the daintiest stick there would kill him and solve so many serious, agonizing problems for them both.
   ‘Does it hurt?’ Orr asked at precisely that moment, as though by protective instinct.
   Yossarian eyed him closely. ‘Does what hurt?’
   ‘Your leg,’ said Orr with a strange, mysterious laugh. ‘You still limp a little.’
   ‘It’s just a habit, I guess,’ said Yossarian, breathing again with relief. ‘I’ll probably get over it soon.’ Orr rolled over sideways to the floor and came up on one knee, facing toward Yossarian. ‘Do you remember,’ he drawled reflectively, with an air of labored recollection, ‘that girl who was hitting me on the head that day in Rome?’ He chuckled at Yossarian’s involuntary exclamation of tricked annoyance. ‘I’ll make a deal with you about that girl. I’ll tell you why that girl was hitting me on the head with her shoe that day if you answer one question.’
   ‘What’s the question?’
   ‘Did you ever screw Nately’s girl?’ Yossarian laughed with surprise. ‘Me? No. Now tell me why that girl hit you with her shoe.’
   ‘That wasn’t the question,’ Orr informed him with victorious delight. ‘That was just conversation. She acts like you screwed her.’
   ‘Well, I didn’t. How does she act?’
   ‘She acts like she don’t like you.’
   ‘She doesn’t like anyone.’
   ‘She likes Captain Black,’ Orr reminded.
   ‘That’s because he treats her like dirt. Anyone can get a girl that way.’
   ‘She wears a slave bracelet on her leg with his name on it.’
   ‘He makes her wear it to needle Nately.’
   ‘She even gives him some of the money she gets from Nately.’
   ‘Listen, what do you want from me?’
   ‘Did you ever screw my girl?’
   ‘Your girl? Who the hell is your girl?’
   ‘The one who hit me over the head with her shoe.’
   ‘I’ve been with her a couple of times,’ Yossarian admitted. ‘Since when is she your girl? What are you getting at?’
   ‘She don’t like you, either.’
   ‘What the hell do I care if she likes me or not? She likes me as much as she likes you.’
   ‘Did she ever hit you over the head with her shoe?’
   ‘Orr, I’m tired. Why don’t you leave me alone?’
   ‘Tee-hee-hee. How about that skinny countess in Rome and her skinny daughter-in-law?’ Orr persisted impishly with increasing zest. ‘Did you ever screw them?’
   ‘Oh, how I wish I could,’ sighed Yossarian honestly, imagining, at the mere question, the prurient, used, decaying feel in his petting hands of their teeny, pulpy buttocks and breasts.
   ‘They don’t like you either,’ commented Orr. ‘They like Aarfy, and they like Nately, but they don’t like you. Women just don’t seem to like you. I think they think you’re a bad influence.’
   ‘Women are crazy,’ Yossarian answered, and waited grimly for what he knew was coming next.
   ‘How about that other girl of yours?’ Orr asked with a pretense of pensive curiosity. ‘The fat one? The bald one? You know, that fat bald one in Sicily with the turban who kept sweating all over us all night long? Is she crazy too?’
   ‘Didn’t she like me either?’
   ‘How could you do it to a girl with no hair?’
   ‘How was I supposed to know she had no hair?’
   ‘I knew it,’ Orr bragged. ‘I knew it all the time.’
   ‘You knew she was bald?’ Yossarian exclaimed in wonder.
   ‘No, I knew this valve wouldn’t work if I left a part out,’ Orr answered, glowing with cranberry-red elation because he had just duped Yossarian again. ‘Will you please hand me that small composition gasket that rolled over there? It’s right near your foot.’
   ‘No it isn’t.’
   ‘Right here,’ said Orr, and took hold of something invisible with the tips of his fingernails and held it up for Yossarian to see. ‘Now I’ll have to start all over again.’
   ‘I’ll kill you if you do. I’ll murder you right on the spot.’
   ‘Why don’t you ever fly with me?’ Orr asked suddenly, and looked straight into Yossarian’s face for the first time. ‘There, that’s the question I want you to answer. Why don’t you ever fly with me?’ Yossarian turned away with intense shame and embarrassment. ‘I told you why. They’ve got me flying lead bombardier most of the time.’
   ‘That’s not why,’ Orr said, shaking his head. ‘You went to Piltchard and Wren after the first Avignon mission and told them you didn’t ever want to fly with me. That’s why, isn’t it?’ Yossarian felt his skin turn hot. ‘No I didn’t,’ he lied.
   ‘Yes you did,’ Orr insisted equably. ‘You asked them not to assign you to any plane piloted by me, Dobbs or Huple because you didn’t have confidence in us at the controls. And Piltchard and Wren said they couldn’t make an exception of you because it wouldn’t be fair to the men who did have to fly with us.’
   ‘So?’ said Yossarian. ‘It didn’t make any difference then, did it?’
   ‘But they’ve never made you fly with me.’ Orr, working on both knees again, was addressing Yossarian without bitterness or reproach, but with injured humility, which was infinitely more painful to observe, although he was still grinning and snickering, as though the situation were comic. ‘You really ought to fly with me, you know. I’m a pretty good pilot, and I’d take care of you. I may get knocked down a lot, but that’s not my fault, and nobody’s ever been hurt in my plane. Yes, sir—if you had any brains, you know what you’d do? You’d go right to Piltchard and Wren and tell them you want to fly all your missions with me.’ Yossarian leaned forward and peered closely into Orr’s inscrutable mask of contradictory emotions. ‘Are you trying to tell me something?’
   ‘Tee-hee-hee-hee,’ Orr responded. ‘I’m trying to tell you why that big girl with the shoe was hitting me on the head that day. But you just won’t let me.’
   ‘Tell me.’
   ‘Will you fly with me?’ Yossarian laughed and shook his head. ‘You’ll only get knocked down into the water again.’ Orr did get knocked down into the water again when the rumored mission to Bologna was flown, and he landed his single-engine plane with a smashing jar on the choppy, windswept waves tossing and falling below the warlike black thunderclouds mobilizing overhead. He was late getting out of the plane and ended up alone in a raft that began drifting away from the men in the other raft and was out of sight by the time the Air-Sea Rescue launch came plowing up through the wind and splattering raindrops to take them aboard. Night was already falling by the time they were returned to the squadron. There was no word of Orr.
   ‘Don’t worry,’ reassured Kid Sampson, still wrapped in the heavy blankets and raincoat in which he had been swaddled on the boat by his rescuers. ‘He’s probably been picked up already if he didn’t drown in that storm. It didn’t last long. I bet he’ll show up any minute.’ Yossarian walked back to his tent to wait for Orr to show up any minute and lit a fire to make things warm for him. The stove worked perfectly, with a strong, robust blaze that could be raised or lowered by turning the tap Orr had finally finished repairing. A light rain was falling, drumming softly on the tent, the trees, the ground. Yossarian cooked a can of hot soup to have ready for Orr and ate it all himself as the time passed. He hard-boiled some eggs for Orr and ate those too. Then he ate a whole tin of Cheddar cheese from a package of K rations.
   Each time he caught himself worrying he made himself remember that Orr could do everything and broke into silent laughter at the picture of Orr in the raft as Sergeant Knight had described him, bent forward with a busy, preoccupied smile over the map and compass in his lap, stuffing one soaking-wet chocolate bar after another into his grinning, tittering mouth as he paddled away dutifully through the lightning, thunder and rain with the bright-blue useless toy oar, the fishing line with dried bait trailing out behind him. Yossarian really had no doubt about Orr’s ability to survive. If fish could be caught with that silly fishing line, Orr would catch them, and if it was codfish he was after, then Orr would catch a codfish, even though no codfish had ever been caught in those waters before. Yossarian put another can of soup up to cook and ate that too when it was hot. Every time a car door slammed, he broke into a hopeful smile and turned expectantly toward the entrance, listening for footsteps. He knew that any moment Orr would come walking into the tent with big, glistening, rain-soaked eyes, cheeks and buck teeth, looking ludicrously like a jolly New England oysterman in a yellow oilskin rain hat and slicker numerous sizes too large for him and holding up proudly for Yossarian’s amusement a great dead codfish he had caught. But he didn’t.
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Peckem

   There was no word about Orr the next day, and Sergeant Whitcomb, with commendable dispatch and considerable hope, dropped a reminder in his tickler file to send a form letter over Colonel Cathcart’s signature to Orr’s next of kin when nine more days had elapsed. There was word from General Peckem’s headquarters, though, and Yossarian was drawn to the crowd of officers and enlisted men in shorts and bathing trunks buzzing in grumpy confusion around the bulletin board just outside the orderly room.
   ‘What’s so different about this Sunday, I want to know?’ Hungry Joe was demanding vociferously of Chief White Halfoat. ‘Why won’t we have a parade this Sunday when we don’t have a parade every Sunday? Huh?’ Yossarian worked his way through to the front and let out a long, agonized groan when he read the terse announcement there: Due to circumstances beyond my control, there will be no big parade this Sunday afternoon.
   Colonel Scheisskopf Dobbs was right. They were indeed sending everyone overseas, even Lieutenant Scheisskopf, who had resisted the move with all the vigor and wisdom at his command and who reported for duty at General Peckem’s office in a mood of grave discontent.
   General Peckem welcomed Colonel Scheisskopf with effusive charm and said he was delighted to have him. An additional colonel on his staff meant that he could now begin agitating for two additional majors, four additional captains, sixteen additional lieutenants and untold quantities of additional enlisted men, typewriters, desks, filing cabinets, automobiles and other substantial equipment and supplies that would contribute to the prestige of his position and increase his striking power in the war he had declared against General Dreedle. He now had two full colonels; General Dreedle had only five, and four of those were combat commanders. With almost no intriguing at all, General Peckem had executed a maneuver that would eventually double his strength. And General Dreedle was getting drunk more often. The future looked wonderful, and General Peckem contemplated his bright new colonel enchantedly with an effulgent smile.
   In all matters of consequence, General P. P. Peckem was, as he always remarked when he was about to criticize the work of some close associate publicly, a realist. He was a handsome, pink-skinned man of fifty-three. His manner was

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