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Capo di tutti capi

Underpromise; overdeliver.

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

   There was, of course, a catch.
   ‘Catch-22?’ inquired Yossarian.
   ‘Of course,’ Colonel Korn answered pleasantly, after he had chased the mighty guard of massive M.P.s out with an insouciant flick of his hand and a slightly contemptuous nod—most relaxed, as always, when he could be most cynical. His rimless square eyeglasses glinted with sly amusement as he gazed at Yossarian. ‘After all, we can’t simply send you home for refusing to fly more missions and keep the rest of the men here, can we? That would hardly be fair to them.’
   ‘You’re goddam right!’ Colonel Cathcart blurted out, lumbering back and forth gracelessly like a winded bull, puffing and pouting angrily. ‘I’d like to tie him up hand and foot and throw him aboard a plane on every mission. That’s what I’d like to do.’ Colonel Korn motioned Colonel Cathcart to be silent and smiled at Yossarian. ‘You know, you really have been making things terribly difficult for Colonel Cathcart,’ he observed with flip good humor, as though the fact did not displease him at all. ‘The men are unhappy and morale is beginning to deteriorate. And it’s all your fault.’
   ‘It’s your fault,’ Yossarian argued, ‘for raising the number of missions.’
   ‘No, it’s your fault for refusing to fly them,’ Colonel Korn retorted. ‘The men were perfectly content to fly as many missions as we asked as long as they thought they had no alternative. Now you’ve given them hope, and they’re unhappy. So the blame is all yours.’
   ‘Doesn’t he know there’s a war going on?’ Colonel Cathcart, still stamping back and forth, demanded morosely without looking at Yossarian.
   ‘I’m quite sure he does,’ Colonel Korn answered. ‘That’s probably why he refuses to fly them.’
   ‘Doesn’t it make any difference to him?’
   ‘Will the knowledge that there’s a war going on weaken your decision to refuse to participate in it?’ Colonel Korn inquired with sarcastic seriousness, mocking Colonel Cathcart.
   ‘No, sir,’ Yossarian replied, almost returning Colonel Korn’s smile.
   ‘I was afraid of that,’ Colonel Korn remarked with an elaborate sigh, locking his fingers together comfortably on top of his smooth, bald, broad, shiny brown head. ‘You know, in all fairness, we really haven’t treated you too badly, have we? We’ve fed you and paid you on time. We gave you a medal and even made you a captain.’
   ‘I never should have made him a captain,’ Colonel Cathcart exclaimed bitterly. ‘I should have given him a court-martial after he loused up that Ferrara mission and went around twice.’
   ‘I told you not to promote him,’ said Colonel Korn, ‘but you wouldn’t listen to me.’
   ‘No you didn’t. You told me to promote him, didn’t you?’
   ‘I told you not to promote him. But you just wouldn’t listen.’
   ‘I should have listened.’
   ‘You never listen to me,’ Colonel Korn persisted with relish. ‘That’s the reason we’re in this spot.’
   ‘All right, gee whiz. Stop rubbing it in, will you?’ Colonel Cathcart burrowed his fists down deep inside his pockets and turned away in a slouch. ‘Instead of picking on me, why don’t you figure out what we’re going to do about him?’
   ‘We’re going to send him home, I’m afraid.’ Colonel Korn was chuckling triumphantly when he turned away from Colonel Cathcart to face Yossarian. ‘Yossarian, the war is over for you. We’re going to send you home. You really don’t deserve it, you know, which is one of the reasons I don’t mind doing it. Since there’s nothing else we can risk doing to you at this time, we’ve decided to return you to the States. We’ve worked out this little deal to—’
   ‘What kind of deal?’ Yossarian demanded with defiant mistrust.
   Colonel Korn tossed his head back and laughed. ‘Oh, a thoroughly despicable deal, make no mistake about that. It’s absolutely revolting. But you’ll accept it quickly enough.’
   ‘Don’t be too sure.’
   ‘I haven’t the slightest doubt you will, even though it stinks to high heaven. Oh, by the way. You haven’t told any of the men you’ve refused to fly more missions, have you?’
   ‘No, sir,’ Yossarian answered promptly.
   Colonel Korn nodded approvingly. ‘That’s good. I like the way you lie. You’ll go far in this world if you ever acquire some decent ambition.’
   ‘Doesn’t he know there’s a war going on?’ Colonel Cathcart yelled out suddenly, and blew with vigorous disbelief into the open end of his cigarette holder.
   ‘I’m quite sure he does,’ Colonel Korn replied acidly, ‘since you brought that identical point to his attention just a moment ago.’ Colonel Korn frowned wearily for Yossarian’s benefit, his eyes twinkling swarthily with sly and daring scorn. Gripping the edge of Colonel Cathcart’s desk with both hands, he lifted his flaccid haunches far back on the corner to sit with both short legs dangling freely. His shoes kicked lightly against the yellow oak wood, his sludge-brown socks, garterless, collapsed in sagging circles below ankles that were surprisingly small and white. ‘You know, Yossarian,’ he mused affably in a manner of casual reflection that seemed both derisive and sincere, ‘I really do admire you a bit. You’re an intelligent person of great moral character who has taken a very courageous stand. I’m an intelligent person with no moral character at all, so I’m in an ideal position to appreciate it.’
   ‘These are very critical times,’ Colonel Cathcart asserted petulantly from a far corner of the office, paying no attention to Colonel Korn.
   ‘Very critical times indeed,’ Colonel Korn agreed with a placid nod. ‘We’ve just had a change of command above, and we can’t afford a situation that might put us in a bad light with either General Scheisskopf or General Peckem. Isn’t that what you mean, Colonel?’
   ‘Hasn’t he got any patriotism?’
   ‘Won’t you fight for your country?’ Colonel Korn demanded, emulating Colonel Cathcart’s harsh, self-righteous tone. ‘Won’t you give up your life for Colonel Cathcart and me?’ Yossarian tensed with alert astonishment when he heard Colonel Korn’s concluding words. ‘What’s that?’ he exclaimed. ‘What have you and Colonel Cathcart got to do with my country? You’re not the same.’
   ‘How can you separate us?’ Colonel Korn inquired with ironical tranquillity.
   ‘That’s right,’ Colonel Cathcart cried emphatically. ‘You’re either for us or against us. There’s no two ways about it.’
   ‘I’m afraid he’s got you,’ added Colonel Korn. ‘You’re either for us or against your country. It’s as simple as that.’
   ‘Oh, no, Colonel. I don’t buy that.’ Colonel Korn was unrufed. ‘Neither do I, frankly, but everyone else will. So there you are.’
   ‘You’re a disgrace to your uniform!’ Colonel Cathcart declared with blustering

   wrath, whirling to confront Yossarian for the first time. ‘I’d like to know how you ever got to be a captain, anyway.’
   ‘You promoted him,’ Colonel Korn reminded sweetly, stifling a snicker. ‘Don’t you remember?’
   ‘Well, I never should have done it.’
   ‘I told you not to do it,’ Colonel Korn said. ‘But you just wouldn’t listen to me.’
   ‘Gee whiz, will you stop rubbing it in?’ Colonel Cathcart cried. He furrowed his brow and glowered at Colonel Korn through eyes narrow with suspicion, his fists clenched on his hips. ‘Say, whose side are you on, anyway?’
   ‘Your side, Colonel. What other side could I be on?’
   ‘Then stop picking on me, will you? Get off my back, will you?’
   ‘I’m on your side, Colonel. I’m just loaded with patriotism.’
   ‘Well, just make sure you don’t forget that.’ Colonel Cathcart turned away grudgingly after another moment, incompletely reassured, and began striding the floor, his hands kneading his long cigarette holder. He jerked a thumb toward Yossarian. ‘Let’s settle with him. I know what I’d like to do with him. I’d like to take him outside and shoot him. That’s what I’d like to do with him. That’s what General Dreedle would do with him.’
   ‘But General Dreedle isn’t with us any more,’ said Colonel Korn, ‘so we can’t take him outside and shoot him.’ Now that his moment of tension with Colonel Cathcart had passed, Colonel Korn relaxed again and resumed kicking softly against Colonel Cathcart’s desk. He returned to Yossarian. ‘So we’re going to send you home instead. It took a bit of thinking, but we finally worked out this horrible little plan for sending you home without causing too much dissatisfaction among the friends you’ll leave behind. Doesn’t that make you happy?’
   ‘What kind of plan? I’m not sure I’m going to like it.’
   ‘I know you’re not going to like it.’ Colonel Korn laughed, locking his hands contentedly on top of his head again. ‘You’re going to loathe it. It really is odious and certainly will offend your conscience. But you’ll agree to it quickly enough. You’ll agree to it because it will send you home safe and sound in two weeks, and because you have no choice. It’s that or a court-martial. Take it or leave it.’ Yossarian snorted. ‘Stop bluffing, Colonel. You can’t court-martial me for desertion in the face of the enemy. It would make you look bad and you probably couldn’t get a conviction.’
   ‘But we can court-martial you now for desertion from duty, since you went to Rome without a pass. And we could make it stick. If you think about it a minute, you’ll see that you’d leave us no alternative. We can’t simply let you keep walking around in open insubordination without punishing you. All the other men would stop flying missions, too. No, you have my word for it. We will court-martial you if you turn our deal down, even though it would raise a lot of questions and be a terrible black eye for Colonel Cathcart.’ Colonel Cathcart winced at the words ‘black eye’ and, without any apparent premeditation, hurled his slender onyx-and-ivory cigarette holder down viciously on the wooden surface on his desk. ‘Jesus Christ!’ he shouted unexpectedly. ‘I hate this goddam cigarette holder!’ The cigarette holder bounced off the desk to the wall, ricocheted across the window sill to the floor and came to a stop almost where he was standing. Colonel Cathcart stared down at it with an irascible scowl. ‘I wonder if it’s really doing me any good.’
   ‘It’s a feather in your cap with General Peckem, but a black eye for you with General Scheisskopf,’ Colonel Korn informed him with a mischievous look of innocence.
   ‘Well, which one am I supposed to please?’
   ‘How can I please them both? They hate each other. How am I ever going to get a feather in my cap from General Scheisskopf without getting a black eye from General Peckem?’
   ‘Yeah, march. That’s the only way to please him. March. March.’ Colonel Cathcart grimaced sullenly. ‘Some generals! They’re a disgrace to their uniforms. If people like those two can make general, I don’t see how I can miss.’
   ‘You’re going to go far.’ Colonel Korn assured him with a flat lack of conviction, and turned back chuckling to Yossarian, his disdainful merriment increasing at the sight of Yossarian’s unyielding expression of antagonism and distrust. ‘And there you have the crux of the situation. Colonel Cathcart wants to be a general and I want to be a colonel, and that’s why we have to send you home.’
   ‘Why does he want to be a general?’
   ‘Why? For the same reason that I want to be a colonel. What else have we got to do? Everyone teaches us to aspire to higher things. A general is higher than a colonel, and a colonel is higher than a lieutenant colonel. So we’re both aspiring. And you know, Yossarian, it’s a lucky thing for you that we are. Your timing on this is absolutely perfect, but I suppose you took that factor into account in your calculations.’
   ‘I haven’t been doing any calculating,’ Yossarian retorted.
   ‘Yes, I really do enjoy the way you lie,’ Colonel Korn answered. ‘Won’t it make you proud to have your commanding officer promoted to general—to know you served in an outfit that averaged more combat missions per person than any other? Don’t you want to earn more unit citations and more oak leaf clusters for your Air Medal? Where’s your esprit de corps? Don’t you want to contribute further to this great record by flying more combat missions? It’s your last chance to answer yes.’
   ‘In that case, you have us over a barrel—’ said Colonel Korn without rancor.
   ‘He ought to be ashamed of himself!’
   ‘—and we have to send you home. Just do a few little things for us, and—’
   ‘What sort of things?’ Yossarian interrupted with belligerent misgiving.
   ‘Oh, tiny, insignificant things. Really, this is a very generous deal we’re making with you. We will issue orders returning you to the States—really, we will—and all you have to do in return is…’
   ‘What? What must I do?’ Colonel Korn laughed curtly. ‘Like us.’ Yossarian blinked. ‘Like you?’
   ‘Like us.’
   ‘Like you?’
   ‘That’s right,’ said Colonel Korn, nodding, gratified immeasurably by Yossarian’s guileless surprise and bewilderment. ‘Like us. Join us. Be our pal. Say nice things about us here and back in the States. Become one of the boys. Now, that isn’t asking too much, is it?’
   ‘You just want me to like you? Is that all?’
   ‘That’s all.’
   ‘That’s all?’
   ‘Just find it in your heart to like us.’ Yossarian wanted to laugh confidently when he saw with amazement that Colonel Korn was telling the truth. ‘That isn’t going to be too easy,’ he sneered.
   ‘Oh, it will be a lot easier than you think,’ Colonel Korn taunted in return, undismayed by Yossarian’s barb. ‘You’ll be surprised at how easy you’ll find it to like us once you begin.’ Colonel Korn hitched up the waist of his loose, voluminous trousers. The deep black grooves isolating his square chin from his jowls were bent again in a kind of jeering and reprehensible mirth. ‘You see, Yossarian, we’re going to put you on easy street. We’re going to promote you to major and even give you another medal. Captain Flume is already working on glowing press releases describing your valor over Ferrara, your deep and abiding loyalty to your outfit and your consummate dedication to duty. Those phrases are all actual quotations, by the way. We’re going to glorify you and send you home a hero, recalled by the Pentagon for morale and public-relations purposes. You’ll live like a millionaire. Everyone will lionize you. You’ll have parades in your honor and make speeches to raise money for war bonds. A whole new world of luxury awaits you once you become our pal. Isn’t it lovely?’ Yossarian found himself listening intently to the fascinating elucidation of details. ‘I’m not sure I want to make speeches.’
   ‘Then we’ll forget the speeches. The important thing is what you say to people here.’ Colonel Korn leaned forward earnestly, no longer smiling. ‘We don’t want any of the men in the group to know that we’re sending you home as a result of your refusal to fly more missions. And we don’t want General Peckem or General Scheisskopf to get wind of any friction between us, either. That’s why we’re going to become such good pals.’
   ‘What will I say to the men who asked me why I refused to fly more missions?’
   ‘Tell them you had been informed in confidence that you were being returned to the States and that you were unwilling to risk your life for another mission or two. Just a minor disagreement between pals, that’s all.’
   ‘Will they believe it?’
   ‘Of course they’ll believe it, once they see what great friends we’ve become and when they see the press releases and read the flattering things you have to say about me and Colonel Cathcart. Don’t worry about the men. They’ll be easy enough to discipline and control when you’ve gone. It’s only while you’re still here that they may prove troublesome. You know, one good apple can spoil the rest,’ Colonel Korn concluded with conscious irony. ‘You know—this would really be wonderful—you might even serve as an inspiration to them to fly more missions.’
   ‘Suppose I denounce you when I get back to the States?’
   ‘After you’ve accepted our medal and promotion and all the fanfare? No one would believe you, the Army wouldn’t let you, and why in the world should you want to? You’re going to be one of the boys, remember? You’ll enjoy a rich, rewarding, luxurious, privileged existence. You’d have to be a fool to throw it all away just for a moral principle, and you’re not a fool. Is it a deal?’
   ‘I don’t know.’
   ‘It’s that or a court-martial.’
   ‘That’s a pretty scummy trick I’d be playing on the men in the squadron, isn’t it?’
   ‘Odious,’ Colonel Korn agreed amiably, and waited, watching Yossarian patiently with a glimmer of private delight.
   ‘But what the hell!’ Yossarian exclaimed. ‘If they don’t want to fly more missions, let them stand up and do something about it the way I did. Right?’
   ‘Of course,’ said Colonel Korn.
   ‘There’s no reason I have to risk my life for them, is there?’
   ‘Of course not.’ Yossarian arrived at his decision with a swift grin. ‘It’s a deal!’ he announced jubilantly.
   ‘Great,’ said Colonel Korn with somewhat less cordiality than Yossarian had expected, and he slid himself off Colonel Cathcart’s desk to stand on the floor. He tugged the folds of cloth of his pants and undershorts free from his crotch and gave Yossarian a limp hand to shake. ‘Welcome aboard.’
   ‘Thanks, Colonel. I—’
   ‘Call me Blackie, John. We’re pals now.’
   ‘Sure, Blackie. My friends call me Yo-Yo. Blackie, I—’
   ‘His friends call him Yo-Yo,’ Colonel Korn sang out to Colonel Cathcart. ‘Why don’t you congratulate Yo-Yo on what a sensible move he’s making?’
   ‘That’s a real sensible move you’re making, Yo-Yo,’ Colonel Cathcart said, pumping Yossarian’s hand with clumsy zeal.
   ‘Thank you, Colonel, I—’
   ‘Call him Chuck,’ said Colonel Korn.
   ‘Sure, call me Chuck,’ said Colonel Cathcart with a laugh that was hearty and awkward. ‘We’re all pals now.’
   ‘Sure, Chuck.’
   ‘Exit smiling,’ said Colonel Korn, his hands on both their shoulders as the three of them moved to the door.
   ‘Come on over for dinner with us some night, Yo-Yo,’ Colonel Cathcart invited hospitably. ‘How about tonight? In the group dining room.’
   ‘I’d love to, sir.’
   ‘Chuck,’ Colonel Korn corrected reprovingly.
   ‘I’m sorry, Blackie. Chuck. I can’t get used to it.’
   ‘That’s all right, pal.’
   ‘Sure, pal.’
   ‘Thanks, pal.’
   ‘Don’t mention it, pal.’
   ‘So long, pal.’ Yossarian waved goodbye fondly to his new pals and sauntered out onto the balcony corridor, almost bursting into song the instant he was alone. He was home free: he had pulled it off; his act of rebellion had succeeded; he was safe, and he had nothing to be ashamed of to anyone. He started toward the staircase with a jaunty and exhilarated air. A private in green fatigues saluted him. Yossarian returned the salute happily, staring at the private with curiosity. He looked strangely familiar. When Yossarian returned the salute, the private in green fatigues turned suddenly into Nately’s whore and lunged at him murderously with a bone-handled kitchen knife that caught him in the side below his upraised arm. Yossarian sank to the floor with a shriek, shutting his eyes in overwhelming terror as he saw the girl lift the knife to strike at him again. He was already unconscious when Colonel Korn and Colonel Cathcart dashed out of the office and saved his life by frightening her away.
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Capo di tutti capi

Underpromise; overdeliver.

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

   ‘Cut,’ said a doctor.
   ‘You cut,’ said another.
   ‘No cuts,’ said Yossarian with a thick, unwieldy tongue.
   ‘Now look who’s butting in,’ complained one of the doctors. ‘Another county heard from. Are we going to operate or aren’t we?’
   ‘He doesn’t need an operation,’ complained the other. ‘It’s a small wound. All we have to do is stop the bleeding, clean it out and put a few stitches in.’
   ‘But I’ve never had a chance to operate before. Which one is the scalpel? Is this one the scalpel?’
   ‘No, the other one is the scalpel. Well, go ahead and cut already if you’re going to. Make the incision.’
   ‘Like this?’
   ‘Not there, you dope!’
   ‘No incisions,’ Yossarian said, perceiving through the lifting fog of insensibility that the two strangers were ready to begin cutting him.
   ‘Another county heard from,’ complained the first doctor sarcastically. ‘Is he going to keep talking that way while I operate on him?’
   ‘You can’t operate on him until I admit him,’ said a clerk.
   ‘You can’t admit him until I clear him,’ said a fat, gruff colonel with a mustache and an enormous pink face that pressed down very close to Yossarian and radiated scorching heat like the bottom of a huge frying pan. ‘Where were you born?’ The fat, gruff colonel reminded Yossarian of the fat, gruff colonel who had interrogated the chaplain and found him guilty. Yossarian stared up at him through a glassy film. The cloying scents of formaldehyde and alcohol sweetened the air.
   ‘On a battlefield,’ he answered.
   ‘No, no. In what state were you born?’
   ‘In a state of innocence.’
   ‘No, no, you don’t understand.’
   ‘Let me handle him,’ urged a hatchet-faced man with sunken acrimonious eyes and a thin, malevolent mouth. ‘Are you a smart aleck or something?’ he asked Yossarian.
   ‘He’s delirious,’ one of the doctors said. ‘Why don’t you let us take him back inside and treat him?’
   ‘Leave him right here if he’s delirious. He might say something incriminating.’
   ‘But he’s still bleeding profusely. Can’t you see? He might even die.’
   ‘Good for him!’
   ‘It would serve the finky bastard right,’ said the fat, gruff colonel. ‘All right, John, let’s speak out. We want to get to the truth.’
   ‘Everyone calls me Yo-Yo.’
   ‘We want you to co-operate with us, Yo-Yo. We’re your friends and we want you to trust us. We’re here to help you. We’re not going to hurt you.’
   ‘Let’s jab our thumbs down inside his wound and gouge it,’ suggested the hatchet-faced man.
   Yossarian let his eyes fall closed and hoped they would think he was unconscious.
   ‘He’s fainted,’ he heard a doctor say. ‘Can’t we treat him now before it’s too late? He really might die.’
   ‘All right, take him. I hope the bastard does die.’
   ‘You can’t treat him until I admit him,’ the clerk said.
   Yossarian played dead with his eyes shut while the clerk admitted him by shuffling some papers, and then he was rolled away slowly into a stuffy, dark room with searing spotlights overhead in which the cloying smell of formaldehyde and sweet alcohol was even stronger. The pleasant, permeating stink was intoxicating. He smelled ether too and heard glass tinkling. He listened with secret, egotistical mirth to the husky breathing of the two doctors. It delighted him that they thought he was unconscious and did not know he was listening. It all seemed very silly to him until one of the doctors said, ‘Well, do you think we should save his life? They might be sore at us if we do.’
   ‘Let’s operate,’ said the other doctor. ‘Let’s cut him open and get to the inside of things once and for all. He keeps complaining about his liver. His liver looks pretty small on this X ray.’
   ‘That’s his pancreas, you dope. This is his liver.’
   ‘No it isn’t. That’s his heart. I’ll bet you a nickel this is his liver. I’m going to operate and find out. Should I wash my hands first?’
   ‘No operations,’ Yossarian said, opening his eyes and trying to sit up.
   ‘Another county heard from,’ scoffed one of the doctors indignantly. ‘Can’t we make him shut up?’
   ‘We could give him a total. The ether’s right here.’
   ‘No totals,’ said Yossarian.
   ‘Another county heard from,’ said a doctor.
   ‘Let’s give him a total and knock him out. Then we can do what we want with him.’ They gave Yossarian total anesthesia and knocked him out. He woke up thirsty in a private room, drowning in ether fumes. Colonel Korn was there at his bedside, waiting calmly in a chair in his baggy, wool, olive-drab shirt and trousers. A bland, phlegmatic smile hung on his brown face with its heavy-bearded cheeks, and he was buffing the facets of his bald head gently with the palms of both hands. He bent forward chuckling when Yossarian awoke, and assured him in the friendliest tones that the deal they had made was still on if Yossarian didn’t die. Yossarian vomited, and Colonel Korn shot to his feet at the first cough and fled in disgust, so it seemed indeed that there was a silver lining to every cloud, Yossarian reflected, as he drifted back into a suffocating daze. A hand with sharp fingers shook him awake roughly. He turned and opened his eyes and saw a strange man with a mean face who curled his lip at him in a spiteful scowl and bragged, ‘We’ve got your pal, buddy. We’ve got your pal.’ Yossarian turned cold and faint and broke into a sweat.
   ‘Who’s my pal?’ he asked when he saw the chaplain sitting where Colonel Korn had been sitting.
   ‘Maybe I’m your pal,’ the chaplain answered.
   But Yossarian couldn’t hear him and closed his eyes. Someone gave him water to sip and tiptoed away. He slept and woke up feeling great until he turned his head to smile at the chaplain and saw Aarfy there instead. Yossarian moaned instinctively and screwed his face up with excruciating irritability when Aarfy chortled and asked how he was feeling. Aarfy looked puzzled when Yossarian inquired why he was not in jail. Yossarian shut his eyes to make him go away. When he opened them, Aarfy was gone and the chaplain was there. Yossarian broke into laughter when he spied the chaplain’s cheerful grin and asked him what in the hell he was so happy about.
   ‘I’m happy about you,’ the chaplain replied with excited candor and joy. ‘I heard at Group that you were very seriously injured and that you would have to be sent home if you lived. Colonel Korn said your condition was critical. But I’ve just learned from one of the doctors that your wound is really a very slight one and that you’ll probably be able to leave in a day or two. You’re in no danger. It isn’t bad at all.’ Yossarian listened to the chaplain’s news with enormous relief. ‘That’s good.’
   ‘Yes,’ said the chaplain, a pink flush of impish pleasure creeping into his cheeks. ‘Yes, that is good.’ Yossarian laughed, recalling his first conversation with the chaplain. ‘You know, the first time I met you was in the hospital. And now I’m in the hospital again. Just about the only time I see you lately is in the hospital. Where’ve you been keeping yourself?’ The chaplain shrugged. ‘I’ve been praying a lot,’ he confessed. ‘I try to stay in my tent as much as I can, and I pray every time Sergeant Whitcomb leaves the area, so that he won’t catch me.’
   ‘Does it do any good?’
   ‘It takes my mind off my troubles,’ the chaplain answered with another shrug. ‘And it gives me something to do.’
   ‘Well that’s good, then, isn’t it?’
   ‘Yes,’ agreed the chaplain enthusiastically, as though the idea had not occurred to him before. ‘Yes, I guess that is good.’ He bent forward impulsively with awkward solicitude. ‘Yossarian, is there anything I can do for you while you’re here, anything I can get you?’ Yossarian teased him jovially. ‘Like toys, or candy, or chewing gum?’ The chaplain blushed again, grinning self-consciously, and then turned very respectful. ‘Like books, perhaps, or anything at all. I wish there was something I could do to make you happy. You know, Yossarian, we’re all very proud of you.’
   ‘Yes, of course. For risking your life to stop that Nazi assassin. It was a very noble thing to do.’
   ‘What Nazi assassin?’
   ‘The one that came here to murder Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn. And you saved them. He might have stabbed you to death as you grappled with him on the balcony. It’s a lucky thing you’re alive!’ Yossarian snickered sardonically when he understood. ‘That was no Nazi assassin.’
   ‘Certainly it was. Colonel Korn said it was.’
   ‘That was Nately’s girl friend. And she was after me, not Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn. She’s been trying to kill me ever since I broke the news to her that Nately was dead.’
   ‘But how could that be?’ the chaplain protested in livid and resentful confusion. ‘Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn both saw him as he ran away. The official report says you stopped a Nazi assassin from killing them.’
   ‘Don’t believe the official report,’ Yossarian advised dryly. ‘It’s part of the deal.’
   ‘What deal?’
   ‘The deal I made with Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn. They’ll let me go home a big hero if I say nice things about them to everybody and never criticize them to anyone for making the rest of the men fly more missions.’ The chaplain was appalled and rose halfway out of his chair. He bristled with bellicose dismay. ‘But that’s terrible! That’s a shameful, scandalous deal, isn’t it?’
   ‘Odious,’ Yossarian answered, staring up woodenly at the ceiling with just the back of his head resting on the pillow. ‘I think "odious" is the word we decided on.’
   ‘Then how could you agree to it?’
   ‘It’s that or a court-martial, Chaplain.’
   ‘Oh,’ the chaplain exclaimed with a look of stark remorse, the back of his hand covering his mouth. He lowered himself into his chair uneasily. ‘I shouldn’t have said anything.’
   ‘They’d lock me in prison with a bunch of criminals.’
   ‘Of course. You must do whatever you think is right, then.’ The chaplain nodded to himself as though deciding the argument and lapsed into embarrassed silence.
   ‘Don’t worry,’ Yossarian said with a sorrowful laugh after several moments had passed. ‘I’m not going to do it.’
   ‘But you must do it,’ the chaplain insisted, bending forward with concern. ‘Really, you must. I had no right to influence you. I really had no right to say anything.’
   ‘You didn’t influence me.’ Yossarian hauled himself over onto his side and shook his head in solemn mockery. ‘Christ, Chaplain! Can you imagine that for a sin? Saving Colonel Cathcart’s life! That’s one crime I don’t want on my record.’ The chaplain returned to the subject with caution. ‘What will you do instead? You can’t let them put you in prison.’
   ‘I’ll fly more missions. Or maybe I really will desert and let them catch me. They probably would.’
   ‘And they’d put you in prison. You don’t want to go to prison.’
   ‘Then I’ll just keep flying missions until the war ends, I guess. Some of us have to survive.’
   ‘But you might get killed.’
   ‘Then I guess I won’t fly any more missions.’
   ‘What will you do?’
   ‘I don’t know.’
   ‘Will you let them send you home?’
   ‘I don’t know. Is it hot out? It’s very warm in here.’
   ‘It’s very cold out,’ the chaplain said.
   ‘You know,’ Yossarian remembered, ‘a very funny thing happened—maybe I dreamed it. I think a strange man came in here before and told me he’s got my pal. I wonder if I imagined it.’
   ‘I don’t think you did,’ the chaplain informed him. ‘You started to tell me about him when I dropped in earlier.’
   ‘Then he really did say it. "We’ve got your pal, buddy," he said. "We’ve got your pal." He had the most malignant manner I ever saw. I wonder who my pal is.’
   ‘I like to think that I’m your pal, Yossarian,’ the chaplain said with humble sincerity. ‘And they certainly have got me. They’ve got my number and they’ve got me under surveillance, and they’ve got me right where they want me. That’s what they told me at my interrogation.’
   ‘No, I don’t think it’s you he meant,’ Yossarian decided. ‘I think it must be someone like Nately or Dunbar. You know, someone who was killed in the war, like Clevinger, Orr, Dobbs, Kid Sampson or McWatt.’ Yossarian emitted a startled gasp and shook his head. ‘I just realized it,’ he exclaimed. ‘They’ve got all my pals, haven’t they? The only ones left are me and Hungry Joe.’ He tingled with dread as he saw the chaplain’s face go pale. ‘Chaplain, what is it?’
   ‘Hungry Joe was killed.’
   ‘God, no! On a mission?’
   ‘He died in his sleep while having a dream. They found a cat on his face.’
   ‘Poor bastard,’ Yossarian said, and began to cry, hiding his tears in the crook of his shoulder. The chaplain left without saying goodbye. Yossarian ate something and went to sleep. A hand shook him awake in the middle of the night. He opened his eyes and saw a thin, mean man in a patient’s bathrobe and pajamas who looked at him with a nasty smirk and jeered.
   ‘We’ve got your pal, buddy. We’ve got your pal.’ Yossarian was unnerved. ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ he pleaded in incipient panic.
   ‘You’ll find out, buddy. You’ll find out.’ Yossarian lunged for his tormentor’s throat with one hand, but the man glided out of reach effortlessly and vanished into the corridor with a malicious laugh. Yossarian lay there trembling with a pounding pulse. He was bathed in icy sweat. He wondered who his pal was. It was dark in the hospital and perfectly quiet. He had no watch to tell him the time. He was wide-awake, and he knew he was a prisoner in one of those sleepless, bedridden nights that would take an eternity to dissolve into dawn. A throbbing chill oozed up his legs. He was cold, and he thought of Snowden, who had never been his pal but was a vaguely familiar kid who was badly wounded and freezing to death in the puddle of harsh yellow sunlight splashing into his face through the side gunport when Yossarian crawled into the rear section of the plane over the bomb bay after Dobbs had beseeched him on the intercom to help the gunner, please help the gunner. Yossarian’s stomach turned over when his eyes first beheld the macabre scene; he was absolutely revolted, and he paused in fright a few moments before descending, crouched on his hands and knees in the narrow tunnel over the bomb bay beside the sealed corrugated carton containing the first-aid kit. Snowden was lying on his back on the floor with his legs stretched out, still burdened cumbersomely by his flak suit, his flak helmet, his parachute harness and his Mae West. Not far away on the floor lay the small tail-gunner in a dead faint. The wound Yossarian saw was in the outside of Snowden’s thigh, as large and deep as a football, it seemed. It was impossible to tell where the shreds of his saturated coveralls ended and the ragged flesh began.
   There was no morphine in the first-aid kit, no protection for Snowden against pain but the numbing shock of the gaping wound itself. The twelve syrettes of morphine had been stolen from their case and replaced by a cleanly lettered note that said: ‘What’s good for M & M Enterprises is good for the country. Milo Minderbinder.’ Yossarian swore at Milo and held two aspirins out to ashen lips unable to receive them. But first he hastily drew a tourniquet around Snowden’s thigh because he could not think what else to do in those first tumultuous moments when his senses were in turmoil, when he knew he must act competently at once and feared he might go to pieces completely. Snowden watched him steadily, saying nothing. No artery was spurting, but Yossarian pretended to absorb himself entirely into the fashioning of a tourniquet, because applying a tourniquet was something he did know how to do. He worked with simulated skill and composure, feeling Snowden’s lack-luster gaze resting upon him. He recovered possession of himself before the tourniquet was finished and loosened it immediately to lessen the danger of gangrene. His mind was clear now, and he knew how to proceed. He rummaged through the first-aid kit for scissors.
   ‘I’m cold,’ Snowden said softly. ‘I’m cold.’
   ‘You’re going to be all right, kid,’ Yossarian reassured him with a grin. ‘You’re going to be all right.’
   ‘I’m cold,’ Snowden said again in a frail, childlike voice. ‘I’m cold.’
   ‘There, there,’ Yossarian said, because he did not know what else to say. ‘There, there.’
   ‘I’m cold,’ Snowden whimpered. ‘I’m cold.’
   ‘There, there. There, there.’ Yossarian was frightened and moved more swiftly. He found a pair of scissors at last and began cutting carefully through Snowden’s coveralls high up above the wound, just below the groin. He cut through the heavy gabardine cloth all the way around the thigh in a straight line. The tiny tailgunner woke up while Yossarian was cutting with the scissors, saw him, and fainted again. Snowden rolled his head to the other side of his neck in order to stare at Yossarian more directly. A dim, sunken light glowed in his weak and listless eyes. Yossarian, puzzled, tried not to look at him. He began cutting downward through the coveralls along the inside seam. The yawning wound—was that a tube of slimy bone he saw running deep inside the gory scarlet flow behind the twitching, startling fibers of weird muscle?—was dripping blood in several trickles, like snow melting on eaves, but viscous and red, already thickening as it dropped. Yossarian kept cutting through the coveralls to the bottom and peeled open the severed leg of the garment. It fell to the floor with a plop, exposing the hem of khaki undershorts that were soaking up blotches of blood on one side as though in thirst. Yossarian was stunned at how waxen and ghastly Snowden’s bare leg looked, how loathsome, how lifeless and esoteric the downy, fine, curled blond hairs on his odd white shin and calf. The wound, he saw now, was not nearly as large as a football, but as long and wide as his hand and too raw and deep to see into clearly. The raw muscles inside twitched like live hamburger meat. A long sigh of relief escaped slowly through Yossarian’s mouth when he saw that Snowden was not in danger of dying. The blood was already coagulating inside the wound, and it was simply a matter of bandaging him up and keeping him calm until the plane landed. He removed some packets of sulfanilamide from the first-aid kit. Snowden quivered when Yossarian pressed against him gently to turn him up slightly on his side.
   ‘Did I hurt you?’
   ‘I’m cold,’ Snowden whimpered. ‘I’m cold.’
   ‘There, there,’ Yossarian said. ‘There, there.’
   ‘I’m cold. I’m cold.’
   ‘There, there. There, there.’
   ‘It’s starting to hurt me,’ Snowden cried out suddenly with a plaintive, urgent wince.
   Yossarian scrambled frantically through the first-aid kit in search of morphine again and found only Milo’s note and a bottle of aspirin. He cursed Milo and held two aspirin tablets out to Snowden. He had no water to offer. Snowden rejected the aspirin with an almost imperceptible shake of his head. His face was pale and pasty. Yossarian removed Snowden’s flak helmet and lowered his head to the floor.
   ‘I’m cold,’ Snowden moaned with half-closed eyes. ‘I’m cold.’ The edges of his mouth were turning blue. Yossarian was petrified. He wondered whether to pull the rip cord of Snowden’s parachute and cover him with the nylon folds. It was very warm in the plane. Glancing up unexpectedly, Snowden gave him a wan, co-operative smile and shifted the position of his hips a bit so that Yossarian could begin salting the wound with sulfanilamide. Yossarian worked with renewed confidence and optimism. The plane bounced hard inside an air pocket, and he remembered with a start that he had left his own parachute up front in the nose. There was nothing to be done about that. He poured envelope after envelope of the white crystalline powder into the bloody oval wound until nothing red could be seen and then drew a deep, apprehensive breath, steeling himself with gritted teeth as he touched his bare hand to the dangling shreds of drying flesh to tuck them up inside the wound. Quickly he covered the whole wound with a large cotton compress and jerked his hand away. He smiled nervously when his brief ordeal had ended. The actual contact with the dead flesh had not been nearly as repulsive as he had anticipated, and he found an excuse to caress the wound with his fingers again and again to convince himself of his own courage.
   Next he began binding the compress in place with a roll of gauze. The second time around Snowden’s thigh with the bandage, he spotted the small hole on the inside through which the piece of flak had entered, a round, crinkled wound the size of a quarter with blue edges and a black core inside where the blood had crusted. Yossarian sprinkled this one with sulfanilamide too and continued unwinding the gauze around Snowden’s leg until the compress was secure. Then he snipped off the roll with the scissors and slit the end down the center. He made the whole thing fast with a tidy square knot. It was a good bandage, he knew, and he sat back on his heels with pride, wiping the perspiration from his brow, and grinned at Snowden with spontaneous friendliness.
   ‘I’m cold,’ Snowden moaned. ‘I’m cold.’
   ‘You’re going to be all right, kid,’ Yossarian assured him, patting his arm comfortingly. ‘Everything’s under control.’ Snowden shook his head feebly. ‘I’m cold,’ he repeated, with eyes as dull and blind as stone. ‘I’m cold.’
   ‘There, there,’ said Yossarian, with growing doubt and trepidation. ‘There, there. In a little while we’ll be back on the ground and Doc Daneeka will take care of you.’ But Snowden kept shaking his head and pointed at last, with just the barest movement of his chin, down toward his armpit. Yossarian bent forward to peer and saw a strangely colored stain seeping through the coveralls just above the armhole of Snowden’s flak suit. Yossarian felt his heart stop, then pound so violently he found it difficult to breathe. Snowden was wounded inside his flak suit. Yossarian ripped open the snaps of Snowden’s flak suit and heard himself scream wildly as Snowden’s insides slithered down to the floor in a soggy pile and just kept dripping out. A chunk of flak more than three inches big had shot into his other side just underneath the arm and blasted all the way through, drawing whole mottled quarts of Snowden along with it through the gigantic hole in his ribs it made as it blasted out. Yossarian screamed a second time and squeezed both hands over his eyes. His teeth were chattering in horror. He forced himself to look again. Here was God’s plenty, all right, he thought bitterly as he stared—liver, lungs, kidneys, ribs, stomach and bits of the stewed tomatoes Snowden had eaten that day for lunch. Yossarian hated stewed tomatoes and turned away dizzily and began to vomit, clutching his burning throat. The tail gunner woke up while Yossarian was vomiting, saw him, and fainted again. Yossarian was limp with exhaustion, pain and despair when he finished. He turned back weakly to Snowden, whose breath had grown softer and more rapid, and whose face had grown paler. He wondered how in the world to begin to save him.
   ‘I’m cold,’ Snowden whimpered. ‘I’m cold.’
   ‘There, there,’ Yossarian mumbled mechanically in a voice too low to be heard. ‘There, there.’ Yossarian was cold, too, and shivering uncontrollably. He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden’s secret. Ripeness was all.
   ‘I’m cold,’ Snowden said. ‘I’m cold.’
   ‘There, there,’ said Yossarian. ‘There, there.’ He pulled the rip cord of Snowden’s parachute and covered his body with the white nylon sheets.
   ‘I’m cold.’
   ‘There, there.’
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   ‘Colonel Korn says,’ said Major Danby to Yossarian with a prissy, gratified smile, ‘that the deal is still on. Everything is working out fine.’
   ‘No it isn’t.’
   ‘Oh, yes, indeed,’ Major Danby insisted benevolently. ‘In fact, everything is much better. It was really a stroke of luck that you were almost murdered by that girl. Now the deal can go through perfectly.’
   ‘I’m not making any deals with Colonel Korn.’ Major Danby’s effervescent optimism vanished instantly, and he broke out all at once into a bubbling sweat. ‘But you do have a deal with him, don’t you?’ he asked in anguished puzzlement. ‘Don’t you have an agreement?’
   ‘I’m breaking the agreement.’
   ‘But you shook hands on it, didn’t you? You gave him your word as a gentleman.’
   ‘I’m breaking my word.’
   ‘Oh, dear,’ sighed Major Danby, and began dabbing ineffectually at his careworn brow with a folded white handkerchief. ‘But why, Yossarian? It’s a very good deal they’re offering you.’
   ‘It’s a lousy deal, Danby. It’s an odious deal.’
   ‘Oh, dear,’ Major Danby fretted, running his bare hand over his dark, wiry hair, which was already soaked with perspiration to the tops of the thick, close-cropped waves. ‘Oh dear.’
   ‘Danby, don’t you think it’s odious?’ Major Danby pondered a moment. ‘Yes, I suppose it is odious,’ he conceded with reluctance. His globular, exophthalmic eyes were quite distraught. ‘But why did you make such a deal if you didn’t like it?’
   ‘I did it in a moment of weakness,’ Yossarian wisecracked with glum irony. ‘I was trying to save my life.’
   ‘Don’t you want to save your life now?’
   ‘That’s why I won’t let them make me fly more missions.’
   ‘Then let them send you home and you’ll be in no more danger.’
   ‘Let them send me home because I flew more than fifty missions,’ Yossarian said, ‘and not because I was stabbed by that girl, or because I’ve turned into such a stubborn son of a bitch.’ Major Danby shook his head emphatically in sincere and bespectacled vexation. ‘They’d have to send nearly every man home if they did that. Most of the men have more than fifty missions. Colonel Cathcart couldn’t possibly requisition so many inexperienced replacement crews at one time without causing an investigation. He’s caught in his own trap.’
   ‘That’s his problem.’
   ‘No, no, no, Yossarian,’ Major Danby disagreed solicitously. ‘It’s your problem. Because if you don’t go through with the deal, they’re going to institute court-martial proceedings as soon as you sign out of the hospital.’ Yossarian thumbed his nose at Major Danby and laughed with smug elation. ‘The hell they will! Don’t lie to me, Danby. They wouldn’t even try.’
   ‘But why wouldn’t they?’ inquired Major Danby, blinking with astonishment.
   ‘Because I’ve really got them over a barrel now. There’s an official report that says I was stabbed by a Nazi assassin trying to kill them. They’d certainly look silly trying to court-martial me after that.’
   ‘But, Yossarian!’ Major Danby exclaimed. ‘There’s another official report that says you were stabbed by an innocent girl in the course of extensive black-market operations involving acts of sabotage and the sale of military secrets to the enemy.’ Yossarian was taken back severely with surprise and disappointment. ‘Another official report?’
   ‘Yossarian, they can prepare as many official reports as they want and choose whichever ones they need on any given occasion. Didn’t you know that?’
   ‘Oh, dear,’ Yossarian murmured in heavy dejection, the blood draining from his face. ‘Oh, dear.’ Major Danby pressed forward avidly with a look of vulturous well-meaning. ‘Yossarian, do what they want and let them send you home. It’s best for everyone that way.’
   ‘It’s best for Cathcart, Korn and me, not for everyone.’
   ‘For everyone,’ Major Danby insisted. ‘It will solve the whole problem.’
   ‘Is it best for the men in the group who will have to keep flying more missions?’ Major Danby flinched and turned his face away uncomfortably for a second. ‘Yossarian,’ he replied, ‘it will help nobody if you force Colonel Cathcart to court-martial you and prove you guilty of all the crimes with which you’ll be charged. You will go to prison for a long time, and your whole life will be ruined.’ Yossarian listened to him with a growing feeling of concern. ‘What crimes will they charge me with?’
   ‘Incompetence over Ferrara, insubordination, refusal to engage the enemy in combat when ordered to do so, and desertion.’ Yossarian sucked his cheeks in soberly. ‘They could charge me with all that, could they? They gave me a medal for Ferrara. How could they charge me with incompetence now?’
   ‘Aarfy will swear that you and McWatt lied in your official report.’
   ‘I’ll bet the bastard would!’
   ‘They will also find you guilty,’ Major Danby recited, ‘of rape, extensive black-market operations, acts of sabotage and the sale of military secrets to the enemy.’
   ‘How will they prove any of that? I never did a single one of those things.’
   ‘But they have witnesses who will swear you did. They can get all the witnesses they need simply by persuading them that destroying you is for the good of the country. And in a way, it would be for the good of the country.’
   ‘In what way?’ Yossarian demanded, rising up slowly on one elbow with bridling hostility.
   Major Danby drew back a bit and began mopping his forehead again. ‘Well, Yossarian,’ he began with an apologetic stammer, ‘it would not help the war effort to bring Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn into disrepute now. Let’s face it, Yossarian—in spite of everything, the group does have a very good record. If you were court-martialed and found innocent, other men would probably refuse to fly missions, too. Colonel Cathcart would be in disgrace, and the military efficiency of the unit might be destroyed. So in that way it would be for the good of the country to have you found guilty and put in prison, even though you are innocent.’
   ‘What a sweet way you have of putting things!’ Yossarian snapped with caustic resentment.
   Major Danby turned red and squirmed and squinted uneasily. ‘Please don’t blame me,’ he pleaded with a look of anxious integrity. ‘You know it’s not my fault. All I’m doing is trying to look at things objectively and arrive at a solution to a very difficult situation.’
   ‘I didn’t create the situation.’
   ‘But you can resolve it. And what else can you do? You don’t want to fly more missions.’
   ‘I can run away.’ Run away?’
   ‘Desert. Take off I can turn my back on the whole damned mess and start running.’ Major Danby was shocked. ‘Where to? Where could you go?’
   ‘I could get to Rome easily enough. And I could hide myself there.’
   ‘And live in danger every minute of your life that they would find you? No, no, no, no, Yossarian. That would be a disastrous and ignoble thing to do. Running away from problems never solved them. Please believe me. I am only trying to help you.’
   ‘That’s what that kind detective said before he decided to jab his thumb into my wound,’ Yossarian retorted sarcastically.
   ‘I am not a detective,’ Major Danby replied with indignation, his cheeks flushing again. ‘I’m a university professor with a highly developed sense of right and wrong, and I wouldn’t try to deceive you. I wouldn’t lie to anyone.’
   ‘What would you do if one of the men in the group asked you about this conversation?’
   ‘I would lie to him.’ Yossarian laughed mockingly, and Major Danby, despite his blushing discomfort, leaned back with relief, as though welcoming the respite Yossarian’s changing mood promised. Yossarian gazed at him with a mixture of reserved pity and contempt. He sat up in bed with his back resting against the headboard, lit a cigarette, smiled slightly with wry amusement, and stared with whimsical sympathy at the vivid, pop-eyed horror that had implanted itself permanently on Major Danby’s face the day of the mission to Avignon, when General Dreedle had ordered him taken outside and shot. The startled wrinkles would always remain, like deep black scars, and Yossarian felt sorry for the gentle, moral, middle-aged idealist, as he felt sorry for so many people whose shortcomings were not large and whose troubles were light.
   With deliberate amiability he said, ‘Danby, how can you work along with people like Cathcart and Korn? Doesn’t it turn your stomach?’ Major Danby seemed surprised by Yossarian’s question. ‘I do it to help my country,’ he replied, as though the answer should have been obvious. ‘Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn are my superiors, and obeying their orders is the only contribution I can make to the war effort. I work along with them because it’s my duty. And also,’ he added in a much lower voice, dropping his eyes, ‘because I am not a very aggressive person.’
   ‘Your country doesn’t need your help any more,’ Yossarian reasoned with antagonism. ‘So all you’re doing is helping them.’
   ‘I try not to think of that,’ Major Danby admitted frankly. ‘But I try to concentrate on only the big result and to forget that they are succeeding, too. I try to pretend that they are not significant.’
   ‘That’s my trouble, you know,’ Yossarian mused sympathetically, folding his arms. ‘Between me and every ideal I always find Scheisskopfs, Peckems, Korns and Cathcarts. And that sort of changes the ideal.’
   ‘You must try not to think of them,’ Major Danby advised affirmatively. ‘And you must never let them change your values. Ideals are good, but people are sometimes not so good. You must try to look up at the big picture.’ Yossarian rejected the advice with a skeptical shake of his head. ‘When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don’t see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy.’
   ‘But you must try not to think of that, too,’ Major Danby insisted. ‘And you must try not to let it upset you.’
   ‘Oh, it doesn’t really upset me. What does upset me, though, is that they think I’m a sucker. They think that they’re smart, and that the rest of us are dumb. And, you know, Danby, the thought occurs to me right now, for the first time, that maybe they’re right.’
   ‘But you must try not to think of that too,’ argued Major Danby. ‘You must think only of the welfare of your country and the dignity of man.’
   ‘Yeah,’ said Yossarian.
   ‘I mean it, Yossarian. This is not World War One. You must never forget that we’re at war with aggressors who would not let either one of us live if they won.’
   ‘I know that,’ Yossarian replied tersely, with a sudden surge of scowling annoyance. ‘Christ, Danby, I earned that medal I got, no matter what their reasons were for giving it to me. I’ve flown seventy goddam combat missions. Don’t talk to me about fighting to save my country. I’ve been fighting all along to save my country. Now I’m going to fight a little to save myself. The country’s not in danger any more, but I am.’
   ‘The war’s not over yet. The Germans are driving toward Antwerp.’
   ‘The Germans will be beaten in a few months. And Japan will be beaten a few months after that. If I were to give up my life now, it wouldn’t be for my country. It would be for Cathcart and Korn. So I’m turning my bombsight in for the duration. From now on I’m thinking only of me.’ Major Danby replied indulgently with a superior smile, ‘But, Yossarian, suppose everyone felt that way.’
   ‘Then I’d certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way, wouldn’t I?’ Yossarian sat up straighter with a quizzical expression. ‘You know, I have a queer feeling that I’ve been through this exact conversation before with someone. It’s just like the chaplain’s sensation of having experienced everything twice.’
   ‘The chaplain wants you to let them send you home,’ Major Danby remarked.
   ‘The chaplain can jump in the lake.’
   ‘Oh, dear.’ Major Danby sighed, shaking his head in regretful disappointment. ‘He’s afraid he might have influenced you.’
   ‘He didn’t influence me. You know what I might do? I might stay right here in this hospital bed and vegetate. I could vegetate very comfortably right here and let other people make the decisions.’
   ‘You must make decisions,’ Major Danby disagreed. ‘A person can’t live like a vegetable.’
   ‘Why not?’ A distant warm look entered Major Danby’s eyes. ‘It must be nice to live like a vegetable,’ he conceded wistfully.
   ‘It’s lousy,’ answered Yossarian.
   ‘No, it must be very pleasant to be free from all this doubt and pressure,’ insisted Major Danby. ‘I think I’d like to live like a vegetable and make no important decisions.’
   ‘What kind of vegetable, Danby?’
   ‘A cucumber or a carrot.’
   ‘What kind of cucumber? A good one or a bad one?’
   ‘Oh, a good one, of course.’
   ‘They’d cut you off in your prime and slice you up for a salad.’ Major Danby’s face fell. ‘A poor one, then.’
   ‘They’d let you rot and use you for fertilizer to help the good ones grow.’
   ‘I guess I don’t want to live like a vegetable, then,’ said Major Danby with a smile of sad resignation.
   ‘Danby, must I really let them send me home?’ Yossarian inquired of him seriously.
   Major Danby shrugged. ‘It’s a way to save yourself.’
   ‘It’s a way to lose myself, Danby. You ought to know that.’
   ‘You could have lots of things you want.’
   ‘I don’t want lots of things I want,’ Yossarian replied, and then beat his fist down against the mattress in an outburst of rage and frustration. ‘Goddammit, Danby! I’ve got friends who were killed in this war. I can’t make a deal now. Getting stabbed by that bitch was the best thing that ever happened to me.’
   ‘Would you rather go to jail?’
   ‘Would you let them send you home?’
   ‘Of course I would!’ Major Danby declared with conviction. ‘Certainly I would,’ he added a few moments later, in a less positive manner. ‘Yes, I suppose I would let them send me home if I were in your place,’ he decided uncomfortably, after lapsing into troubled contemplation. Then he threw his face sideways disgustedly in a gesture of violent distress and blurted out, ‘Oh, yes, of course I’d let them send me home! But I’m such a terrible coward I couldn’t really be in your place.’
   ‘But suppose you weren’t a coward?’ Yossarian demanded, studying him closely. ‘Suppose you did have the courage to defy somebody?’
   ‘Then I wouldn’t let them send me home,’ Major Danby vowed emphatically with vigorous joy and enthusiasm. ‘But I certainly wouldn’t let them court-martial me.’
   ‘Would you fly more missions?’
   ‘No, of course not. That would be total capitulation. And I might be killed.’
   ‘Then you’d run away?’ Major Danby started to retort with proud spirit and came to an abrupt stop, his half-opened jaw swinging closed dumbly. He pursed his lips in a tired pout. ‘I guess there just wouldn’t be any hope for me, then, would there?’ His forehead and protuberant white eyeballs were soon glistening nervously again. He crossed his limp wrists in his lap and hardly seemed to be breathing as he sat with his gaze drooping toward the floor in acquiescent defeat. Dark, steep shadows slanted in from the window. Yossarian watched him solemnly, and neither of the two men stirred at the rattling noise of a speeding vehicle skidding to a stop outside and the sound of racing footsteps pounding toward the building in haste.
   ‘Yes, there’s hope for you,’ Yossarian remembered with a sluggish flow of inspiration. ‘ Milo might help you. He’s bigger than Colonel Cathcart, and he owes me a few favors.’ Major Danby shook his head and answered tonelessly. ‘ Milo and Colonel Cathcart are pals now. He made Colonel Cathcart a vice-president and promised him an important job after the war.’
   ‘Then ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen will help us,’ Yossarian exclaimed. ‘He hates them both, and this will infuriate him.’ Major Danby shook his head bleakly again. ‘ Milo and ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen merged last week. They’re all partners now in M & M Enterprises.’
   ‘Then there is no hope for us, is there?’
   ‘No hope.’
   ‘No hope at all, is there?’
   ‘No, no hope at all,’ Major Danby conceded. He looked up after a while with a half-formed notion. ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if they could disappear us the way they disappeared the others and relieve us of all these crushing burdens?’ Yossarian said no. Major Danby agreed with a melancholy nod, lowering his eyes again, and there was no hope at all for either of them until footsteps exploded in the corridor suddenly and the chaplain, shouting at the top of his voice, came bursting into the room with the electrifying news about Orr, so overcome with hilarious excitement that he was almost incoherent for a minute or two. Tears of great elation were sparkling in his eyes, and Yossarian leaped out of bed with an incredulous yelp when he finally understood.
   ‘ Sweden?’ he cried.
   ‘Orr!’ cried the chaplain.
   ‘Orr?’ cried Yossarian.
   ‘Sweden!’ cried the chaplain, shaking his head up and down with gleeful rapture and prancing about uncontrollably from spot to spot in a grinning, delicious frenzy. ‘It’s a miracle, I tell you! A miracle! I believe in God again. I really do. Washed ashore in Sweden after so many weeks at sea! It’s a miracle.’
   ‘Washed ashore, hell!’ Yossarian declared, jumping all about also and roaring in laughing exultation at the walls, the ceiling, the chaplain and Major Danby. ‘He didn’t wash ashore in Sweden. He rowed there! He rowed there, Chaplain, he rowed there.’ Rowed there?’
   ‘He planned it that way! He went to Sweden deliberately.’
   ‘Well, I don’t care!’ the chaplain flung back with undiminished zeal. ‘It’s still a miracle, a miracle of human intelligence and human endurance. Look how much he accomplished!’ The chaplain clutched his head with both hands and doubled over in laughter. ‘Can’t you just picture him?’ he exclaimed with amazement. ‘Can’t you just picture him in that yellow raft, paddling through the Straits of Gibraltar at night with that tiny little blue oar—’
   ‘With that fishing line trailing out behind him, eating raw codfish all the way to Sweden, and serving himself tea every afternoon—’
   ‘I can just see him!’ cried the chaplain, pausing a moment in his celebration to catch his breath. ‘It’s a miracle of human perseverance, I tell you. And that’s just what I’m going to do from now on! I’m going to persevere. Yes, I’m going to persevere.’
   ‘He knew what he was doing every step of the way!’ Yossarian rejoiced, holding both fists aloft triumphantly as though hoping to squeeze revelations from them. He spun to a stop facing Major Danby. ‘Danby, you dope! There is hope, after all. Can’t you see? Even Clevinger might be alive somewhere in that cloud of his, hiding inside until it’s safe to come out.’
   ‘What are you talking about?’ Major Danby asked in confusion. ‘What are you both talking about?’
   ‘Bring me apples, Danby, and chestnuts too. Run, Danby, run. Bring me crab apples and horse chestnuts before it’s too late, and get some for yourself.’
   ‘Horse chestnuts? Crab apples? What in the world for?’
   ‘To pop into our cheeks, of course.’ Yossarian threw his arms up into the air in a gesture of mighty and despairing self-recrimination. ‘Oh, why didn’t I listen to him? Why wouldn’t I have some faith?’
   ‘Have you gone crazy?’ Major Danby demanded with alarm and bewilderment. ‘Yossarian, will you please tell me what you are talking about?’
   ‘Danby, Orr planned it that way. Don’t you understand—he planned it that way from the beginning. He even practiced getting shot down. He rehearsed for it on every mission he flew. And I wouldn’t go with him! Oh, why wouldn’t I listen? He invited me along, and I wouldn’t go with him! Danby, bring me buck teeth too, and a valve to fix and a look of stupid innocence that nobody would ever suspect of any cleverness. I’ll need them all. Oh, why wouldn’t I listen to him. Now I understand what he was trying to tell me. I even understand why that girl was hitting him on the head with her shoe.’
   ‘Why?’ inquired the chaplain sharply.
   Yossarian whirled and seized the chaplain by the shirt front in an importuning grip. ‘Chaplain, help me! Please help me. Get my clothes. And hurry, will you? I need them right away.’ The chaplain started away alertly. ‘Yes, Yossarian, I will. But where are they? How will I get them?’
   ‘By bullying and browbeating anybody who tries to stop you. Chaplain, get me my uniform! It’s around this hospital somewhere. For once in your life, succeed at something.’ The chaplain straightened his shoulders with determination and tightened his jaw. ‘Don’t worry, Yossarian. I’ll get your uniform. But why was that girl hitting Orr over the head with her shoe? Please tell me.’
   ‘Because he was paying her to, that’s why! But she wouldn’t hit him hard enough, so he had to row to Sweden. Chaplain, find me my uniform so I can get out of here. Ask Nurse Duckett for it. She’ll help you. She’ll do anything she can to be rid of me.’
   ‘Where are you going?’ Major Danby asked apprehensively when the chaplain had shot from the room. ‘What are you going to do?’
   ‘I’m going to run away,’ Yossarian announced in an exuberant, clear voice, already tearing open the buttons of his pajama tops.
   ‘Oh, no,’ Major Danby groaned, and began patting his perspiring face rapidly with the bare palms of both hands. ‘You can’t run away. Where can you run to? Where can you go?’
   ‘To Sweden.’
   ‘To Sweden?’ Major Danby exclaimed in astonishment. ‘You’re going to run to Sweden? Are you crazy?’
   ‘Orr did it.’
   ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, no,’ Major Danby pleaded. ‘No, Yossarian, you’ll never get there. You can’t run away to Sweden. You can’t even row.’
   ‘But I can get to Rome if you’ll keep your mouth shut when you leave here and give me a chance to catch a ride. Will you do it?’
   ‘But they’ll find you,’ Major Danby argued desperately, ‘and bring you back and punish you even more severely.’
   ‘They’ll have to try like hell to catch me this time.’
   ‘They will try like hell. And even if they don’t find you, what kind of way is that to live? You’ll always be alone. No one will ever be on your side, and you’ll always live in danger of betrayal.’
   ‘I live that way now.’
   ‘But you can’t just turn your back on all your responsibilities and run away from them,’ Major Danby insisted. ‘It’s such a negative move. It’s escapist.’ Yossarian laughed with buoyant scorn and shook his head. ‘I’m not running away from my responsibilities. I’m running to them. There’s nothing negative about running away to save my life. You know who the escapists are, don’t you, Danby? Not me and Orr.’
   ‘Chaplain, please talk to him, will you? He’s deserting. He wants to run away to Sweden.’
   ‘Wonderful!’ cheered the chaplain, proudly throwing on the bed a pillowcase full of Yossarian’s clothing. ‘Run away to Sweden, Yossarian. And I’ll stay here and persevere. Yes. I’ll persevere. I’ll nag and badger Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn every time I see them. I’m not afraid. I’ll even pick on General Dreedle.’
   ‘General Dreedle’s out,’ Yossarian reminded, pulling on his trousers and hastily stuffing the tails of his shirt inside. ‘It’s General Peckem now.’ The chaplain’s babbling confidence did not falter for an instant. ‘Then I’ll pick on General Peckem, and even on General Scheisskopf. And do you know what else I’m going to do? I’m going to punch Captain Black in the nose the very next time I see him. Yes, I’m going to punch him in the nose. I’ll do it when lots of people are around so that he may not have a chance to hit me back.’
   ‘Have you both gone crazy?’ Major Danby protested, his bulging eyes straining in their sockets with tortured awe and exasperation. ‘Have you both taken leave of your senses? Yossarian, listen—’
   ‘It’s a miracle, I tell you,’ the chaplain proclaimed, seizing Major Danby about the waist and dancing him around with his elbows extended for a waltz. ‘A real miracle. If Orr could row to Sweden, then I can triumph over Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn, if only I persevere.’
   ‘Chaplain, will you please shut up?’ Major Danby entreated politely, pulling free and patting his perspiring brow with a fluttering motion. He bent toward Yossarian, who was reaching for his shoes. ‘What about Colonel—’
   ‘I couldn’t care less.’
   ‘But this may actua—’
   ‘To hell with them both!’
   ‘This may actually help them,’ Major Danby persisted stubbornly. ‘Have you thought of that?’
   ‘Let the bastards thrive, for all I care, since I can’t do a thing to stop them but embarrass them by running away. I’ve got responsibilities of my own now, Danby. I’ve got to get to Sweden.’
   ‘You’ll never make it. It’s impossible. It’s almost a geographical impossibility to get there from here.’
   ‘Hell, Danby, I know that. But at least I’ll be trying. There’s a young kid in Rome whose life I’d like to save if I can find her. I’ll take her to Sweden with me if I can find her, so it isn’t all selfish, is it?’
   ‘It’s absolutely insane. Your conscience will never let you rest.’
   ‘God bless it.’ Yossarian laughed. ‘I wouldn’t want to live without strong misgivings. Right, Chaplain?’
   ‘I’m going to punch Captain Black right in the nose the next time I see him,’ gloried the chaplain, throwing two left jabs in the air and then a clumsy haymaker. ‘Just like that.’
   ‘What about the disgrace?’ demanded Major Danby.
   ‘What disgrace? I’m more in disgrace now.’ Yossarian tied a hard knot in the second shoelace and sprang to his feet. ‘Well, Danby, I’m ready. What do you say? Will you keep your mouth shut and let me catch a ride?’ Major Danby regarded Yossarian in silence, with a strange, sad smile. He had stopped sweating and seemed absolutely calm. ‘What would you do if I did try to stop you?’ he asked with rueful mockery. ‘Beat me up?’ Yossarian reacted to the question with hurt surprise. ‘No, of course not. Why do you say that?’
   ‘I will beat you up,’ boasted the chaplain, dancing up very close to Major Danby and shadowboxing. ‘You and Captain Black, and maybe even Corporal Whitcomb. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I found I didn’t have to be afraid of Corporal Whitcomb any more?’
   ‘Are you going to stop me?’ Yossarian asked Major Danby, and gazed at him steadily.
   Major Danby skipped away from the chaplain and hesitated a moment longer. ‘No, of course not!’ he blurted out, and suddenly was waving both arms toward the door in a gesture of exuberant urgency. ‘Of course I won’t stop you. Go, for God sakes, and hurry! Do you need any money?’
   ‘I have some money.’
   ‘Well, here’s some more.’ With fervent, excited enthusiasm, Major Danby pressed a thick wad of Italian currency upon Yossarian and clasped his hand in both his own, as much to still his own trembling fingers as to give encouragement to Yossarian. ‘It must be nice to be in Sweden now,’ he observed yearningly. ‘The girls are so sweet. And the people are so advanced.’
   ‘Goodbye, Yossarian,’ the chaplain called. ‘And good luck. I’ll stay here and persevere, and we’ll meet again when the fighting stops.’
   ‘So long, Chaplain. Thanks, Danby.’
   ‘How do you feel, Yossarian?’
   ‘Fine. No, I’m very frightened.’
   ‘That’s good,’ said Major Danby. ‘It proves you’re still alive. It won’t be fun.’ Yossarian started out. ‘Yes it will.’
   ‘I mean it, Yossarian. You’ll have to keep on your toes every minute of every day. They’ll bend heaven and earth to catch you.’
   ‘I’ll keep on my toes every minute.’
   ‘You’ll have to jump.’
   ‘I’ll jump.’
   ‘Jump!’ Major Danby cried.
   Yossarian jumped. Nately’s whore was hiding just outside the door. The knife came down, missing him by inches, and he took off.
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