1. SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE tOR THE CHILDRENS CRUSADE A Duty-dance with DeathKURT VONNEGUT, JR.Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint the following material:The Waking: copyright 1953 by Theodore Roethke from THE COLLECTED POEMSOF THEODORE ROETHKE printed by permission of Doubleday & Company, Inc.THE DESTRUCTION OF DRESDEN by David Irving: From the Introduction by Ira C.Eaker, Lt. Gen. USAF (RET.) and Foreword by Air Marshall Sir Robert Saundby.Copyright 1963 by William Kimber and Co. Limited. Reprinted by permission of Holt,Rinehart and Winston, Inc. and William Kimber and Co. Limited.Leven Cent Cotton by Bob Miller and Emma Dermer: Copyright 1928, 1929 by MCAMusic, a Division of MCA Inc. Copyright renewed 1955,1956 and assigned to MCAMusic, a division of MCA Inc. Used by permission.Onefor Mary O’Hare and Gerhard MüllerThe cattle are lowing, The Baby awakes, But the little Lord Jesus No crying He makes.All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. One guy Iknew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasnt his. Another guy I knewreally did threaten to have his personal enemies killed by hired gunmen after the war.And so on. Ive changed all the names.I really did go back to Dresden with Guggenheim money (God love it) in 1967. It lookeda lot like Dayton, Ohio, more open spaces than Dayton has. There must be tons of humanbone meal in the ground.I went back there with an old war buddy, Bernard V. OHare, and we made friends with ataxi driver, who took us to the slaughterhouse where we had been locked up at night asprisoner of war. His name was Gerhard Müller. He told us that he was a prisoner of theAmericans for a while. We asked him how it was to live under Communism, and he saidthat it was terrible at first, because everybody had to work so hard, and because therewasnt much shelter or food or clothing. But things were much better now. He had apleasant little apartment, and his daughter was getting an excellent education. His motherwas incinerated in the Dresden fire-storm. So it goes.He sent OHare a postcard at Christmastime, and here is what it said:I wish you and your family also as to your friend Merry Christmas and a happy NewYear and I hope that well meet again in a world of peace and freedom in the taxi cab ifthe accident will.I like that very much: If the accident will.I would hate to tell you what this lousy little book cost me in money and anxiety andtime. When I got home from the Second World War twenty-three years ago, I thought itwould be easy for me to write about the destruction of Dresden, since all I would have todo would be to report what I had seen. And I thought, too, that it would be a masterpieceor at least make me a lot of money, since the subject was so big.But not many words about Dresden came from my mind then-not enough of them tomake a book, anyway. And not many words come now, either, when I have become anold fart with his memories and his Pall Malls, with his sons full grown. I think of howuseless the Dresden -part of my memory has been, and yet how tempting Dresden hasbeen to write about, and I am reminded of the famous limerick:
2. There was a young man from Stamboul, Who soliloquized thus to his tool, You took allmy wealth And you ruined my health,And now you wont pee, you old fool’ And Im reminded, too, of the song that goesMy name is Yon Yonson, I work in Wisconsin, I work in a lumbermill there. The peopleI meet when I walk down the street, They say, Whats your name? And I say, ‘My nameis Yon Yonson, I work in Wisconsin...And so on to infinity.Over the years, people Ive met have often asked me what Im working on, and Iveusually replied that the main thing was a book about Dresden.I said that to Harrison Starr, the movie-maker, one time, and he raised his eyebrows andinquired, Is it an anti-war book?Yes, I said. I guess.You know what I say to people when I hear theyre writing anti-war books? No. Whatdo you say, Harrison Starr? I say, "Why dont you write an anti-glacier book instead?"What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy tostop as glaciers. I believe that too.And, even if wars didnt keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.When I was somewhat younger, working on my famous Dresden book, I asked an oldwar buddy named Bernard V. OHare if I could come to see him. He was a districtattorney in Pennsylvania. I was a writer on Cape Cod. We had been privates in the war,infantry scouts. We had never expected to make any money after the war, but we weredoing quite well.I had the Bell Telephone Company find him for me. They are wonderful that way. I havethis, disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone. I get drunk, andI drive my wife away with a breath like mustard gas and roses. And then, speakinggravely and elegantly into the telephone, I ask the telephone operators to connect me withthis friend or that one, from whom I have not heard in years.I got OHare on the line in this way. He is short and I am tall. We were Mutt and Jeff inthe war. We were captured together in the war. I told him who I was on the telephone. Hehad no trouble believing it. He was up. He was reading. Everybody else in his house wasasleep.Listen, I said, Im writing this book about Dresden. Id like some help rememberingstuff. I wonder if I could come down and see you, and we could drink and talk andremember.He was unenthusiastic. He said he couldnt remember much. He told me, though, to comeahead.I think the climax of the book will be the execution of poor old Edgar Derby, I said. Theirony is so great. A whole city gets burned down, and thousands and thousands of peopleare killed. And then this one American foot soldier is arrested in the ruins for taking ateapot. And hes given a regular trial, and then hes shot by a firing squad.Um, said OHare.Dont you think thats really where the climax should come? I dont know anythingabout it, he said. Thats your trade, not mine.As a trafficker in climaxes and thrills and characterization and wonderful dialogue andsuspense and confrontations, I had outlined the Dresden story many times. The bestoutline I ever made, or anyway the prettiest one, was on the back of a roll of wallpaper.
3. I used my daughters crayons, a different color for each main character. One end of thewallpaper was the beginning of the story, and the other end was the end, and then therewas all that middle part, which was the middle. And the blue line met the red line andthen the yellow line, and the yellow line stopped because the character represented by theyellow line was dead. And so on. The destruction of Dresden was represented by avertical band of orange cross-hatching, and all the lines that were still alive passedthrough it, came out the other side.The end, where all the lines stopped, was a beetfield on the Elbe, outside of Halle. Therain was coming down. The war in Europe had been over for a couple of weeks. We wereformed in ranks, with Russian soldiers guarding us-Englishmen, Americans, Dutchmen,Belgians, Frenchmen, Canadians, South Africans, New Zealanders, Australians,thousands of us about to stop being prisoners of war.And on the other side of the field were thousands of Russians and Poles andYugoslavians and so on guarded by American soldiers. An exchange was made there inthe rain-one for one. OHare and I climbed into the back of an American truck with a lotof others. OHare didnt have any souvenirs. Almost everybody else did. I had aceremonial Luftwaffe saber, still do. The rabid little American I call Paul Lazzaro in thisbook had about a quart of diamonds and emeralds and rubies and so on He had takenthese from dead people in the cellars of Dresden. So it goes.An idiotic Englishman, who had lost all his teeth somewhere had his souvenir in a canvasbag. The bag was resting on my insteps. He would peek into the bag every now and then,and he would roll his eyes and swivel his scrawny neck,, trying to catch people lookingcovetously at his bag. And he would bounce the bag on my insteps. I thought thisbouncing was accidental. But I was mistaken. He had to show somebody what was in thebag, and he had decided he could trust me. He caught my eye, winked,opened the bag. There was a plaster model of the Eiffel Tower in there. It was paintedgold. It had a clock in it.Theres a smashin thing, he said.And we were flown to a rest camp in France, where we were fed chocolate maltedmilkshakes and other rich foods until we were all covered with baby fat. Then we weresent home, and I married a pretty girl who was covered with baby fat, too.And we had babies.And theyre all grown up now, and Im an old fart with his memories and his Pall Malls.My name is Yon Yonson, I work in Wisconsin, I work in a lumbermill there.Sometimes I try to call up old girl friends on the telephone late at night, after my wife hasgone to bed. Operator, I wonder if you could give me the number of a Mrs. So-and- So. Ithink she lives at such-and-such.Im sorry, sir. There is no such listing. Thanks, Operator. Thanks just the same.And I let the dog out or I let him in, and we talk some. I let him know I like him, and helets me know he likes me. He doesnt mind the smell of mustard gas and roses.Youre all right, Sandy, Ill say to the dog. You know that, Sandy? Youre O.K.Sometimes Ill turn on the radio and listen to a talk program from Boston or New York. Icant stand recorded music if Ive been drinking a good deal.Sooner or later I go to bed, and my wife asks me what time it is. She always has to knowthe time. Sometimes I dont know, and I say, Search me.I think about my education sometimes. I went to the University of Chicago for a while
4. after the Second World War. I was a student in the Department of Anthropology. At thattime, they were teaching that there was absolutely no difference between anybody. Theymay be teaching that still.Another thing they taught was that nobody was ridiculous or bad or disgusting. Shortlybefore my father died, he said to me, You know-you never wrote a story with a villain init.I told him that was one of the things I learned in college after the war.While I was studying to be an anthropologist, I was also working as a police reporter forthe famous Chicago City News Bureau for twenty-eight dollars a week. One time theyswitched me from the night shift to the day shift., so I worked sixteen hours straight. Wewere supported by all the newspapers in town, and the AP and the UP and all that. Andwe would cover the courts and the police stations and the Fire Department and the CoastGuard out on Lake Michigan and all that. We were connected to the institutions thatsupported us by means of pneumatic tubes which ran under the streets of Chicago.Reporters would telephone in stories to writers wearing headphones, and the writerswould stencil the stories on mimeograph sheets. The stories were mimeographed andstuffed into the brass and velvet cartridges which the pneumatic tubes ate. The verytoughest reporters and writers were women who had taken over the jobs of men whodgone to war.And the first story I covered I had to dictate over the telephone to one of those beastlygirls. It was about a young veteran who had taken a job running an old-fashioned elevatorin an office building. The elevator door on the first floor was ornamental iron lace. Ironivy snaked in and out of the holes. There was an iron twig with two iron lovebirdsperched upon it.This veteran decided to take his car into the basement, and he closed the door and starteddown, but his wedding ring Was caught in all the ornaments. So he was hoisted into theair and the floor of the car went down, dropped out from under him, and the top of the carsquashed him. So it goes.So I phoned this in, and the woman who was going to cut the stencil asked me. What didhis wife say?She doesnt know yet, I said. It just happened. Call her up and get a statement. What?Tell her youre Captain Finn of the Police Department. Say you have some sad news.Give her the news, and see what she says. So I did. She said about what you wouldexpect her to say. There was a baby. And soon. When I got back to the office, the woman writer asked me, just for her owninformation, what the squashed guy had looked Eke when he was squashed. I told her.Did it bother you? she said. She was eating a Three Musketeers Candy Bar. Heck no,Nancy, I said. Ive seen lots worse than that in the war.Even then I was supposedly writing a book about Dresden. It wasnt a famous air raidback then in America. Not many Americans knew how much worse it had been thanHiroshima, for instance. I didnt know that, either. There hadnt been much publicity.I happened to tell a University of Chicago professor at a cocktail party about the raid as Ihad seen it, about the book I would write. He was a member of a thing called TheCommittee on Social Thought. And he told me about the concentration camps, and abouthow the Germans had made soap and candles out of the fat of dead Jews and so on.All could say was, I know, I know. I know.
5. The Second World War had certainly made everybody very tough. And I became a publicrelations man for General Electric in Schenectady, New York, and a volunteer fireman inthe Village of Alplaus, where I bought my first home. My boss there was one of thetoughest guys I ever hope to meet. He had been a lieutenant colonel in public relations inBaltimore. While I was in Schenectady he joined the Dutch Reformed Church, which is avery tough church, indeed.He used to ask me sneeringly sometimes why I hadnt been an officer,, as though Id donesomething wrong.My wife and I had lost our baby fat. Those were our scrawny years. We had a lot ofscrawny veterans and their scrawny wives for friends. The nicest veterans inSchenectady,, I thought,, the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most,were the ones whod really fought.I wrote the Air Force back then, asking for details about the raid on Dresden, whoordered it, how many planes did it, why they did it, what desirable results there had beenand so on. I was answered by a man who, like myself, was in public relations. He saidthat he was sorry, but that the information was top secret still.I read the letter out loud to my wife, and I said, Secret? My God-from whom?We were United World Federalists back then. I dont know what we are now.Telephoners, I guess. We telephone a lot-or I do, anyway, late at night.A couple of weeks after I telephoned my old war buddy, Bernard V. OHare, I really didgo to see him. That must have been in 1964 or so-whatever the last year was for the NewYork Worlds Fair. Eheu, fugaces labuntur anni. My name is Yon Yonson. There was ayoung man from Stamboul.I took two little girls with me, my daughter, Nanny, and her best friend, Allison Mitchell.They had never been off Cape Cod before. When we saw a river, we had to stop so theycould stand by it and think about it for a while. They had never seen water in that longand narrow, unsalted form before. The river was the Hudson. There were carp in thereand we saw them. They were as big as atomic submarines.We saw waterfalls, too, streams jumping off cliffs into the valley of the Delaware. Therewere lots of things to stop and see-and then it was time to go, always time to go. The littlegirls were wearing white party dresses and black party shoes, so strangers would know atonce how nice they were. Time to go, girls, Id say. And we would go.And the sun went down, and we had supper in an Italian place, and then I knocked on thefront door of the beautiful stone house of Bernard V. OHare. I was carrying a bottle ofIrish whiskey like a dinner bell.I met his nice wife, Mary, to whom I dedicate this book. I dedicate it to Gerhard Müller,the Dresden taxi driver, too. Mary OHare is a trained nurse, which is a lovely thing for awoman to be.Mary admired the two little girls Id brought, mixed them in with her own children, sentthem all upstairs to play games and watch television. It was only after the children weregone that I sensed that Mary didnt like me or didnt like something about the night. Shewas polite but chilly.Its a nice cozy house you have here, I said, and it really was. Ive fixed up a place whereyou can talk and not be bothered, she said.Good, I said, and I imagined two leather chairs near a fire in a paneled room, where twoold soldiers could drink and talk. But she took us into the kitchen. She had put two
6. straight-backed chairs at a kitchen table with a white porcelain top. That table top wasscreaming with reflected light from a two-hundred-watt bulb overhead. Mary hadprepared an operating room. She put only one glass on it, which was for me. Sheexplained that OHare couldnt drink the hard stuff since the war.So we sat down. OHare was embarrassed, but he wouldnt tell me what was wrong. Icouldnt imagine what it was about me that could bum up Mary so. I was a family man.Id been married only once. I wasnt a drunk. I hadnt done her husband any dirt in thewar.She fixed herself a Coca-Cola, made a lot of noise banging the ice-cube tray in thestainless steel sink. Then she went into another part of the house. But she wouldnt sitstill. She was moving all over the house, opening and shutting doors, even movingfurniture around to work off anger.I asked OHare what Id said or done to make her act that way.Its all right, he said. "Dont worry about it. It doesnt have anything to do with you. Thatwas kind of him. He was lying. It had everything to do with me.So we tried to ignore Mary and remember the war. I took a couple of belts of the boozeId brought. We would chuckle or grin sometimes, as though war stories were comingback, but neither one of us could remember anything good. OHare remembered one guywho got into a lot of wine in Dresden, before it was bombed, and we had to take himhome in a wheelbarrow.It wasnt much to write a book about. I remembered two Russian soldiers who had looteda clock factory. They had a horse-drawn wagon full of clocks. They were happy anddrunk. They were smoking huge cigarettes they had rolled in newspaper.That was about it for memories, and Mary was still making noise. She finally came out inthe kitchen again for another Coke. She took another tray of ice cubes from therefrigerator, banged it in the sink, even though there was already plenty of ice out.Then she turned to me, let me see how angry she was, and that the anger was for me. Shehad been talking to herself, so what she said was a fragment of a much largerconversation. "You were just babies then! she said.What?" I said. You were just babies in the war-like the ones upstairs! I nodded that this was true. We had been foolish virgins in the war, right at the end ofchildhood.But youre not going to write it that way, are you. This wasnt a question. It was anaccusation.I-I dont know, I said.Well, I know, she said. Youll pretend you were men instead of babies, and youll beplayed in the movies by Frank Sinatra and John Wayne or some of those otherglamorous, war-loving, dirty old men. And war will look just wonderful, so well have alot more of them. And theyll be fought by babies like the babies upstairs.So then I understood. It was war that made her so angry. She didnt want her babies oranybody elses babies killed in wars. And she thought wars were partly encouraged bybooks and movies.So I held up my right hand and I made her a promise Mary, I said, I dont think thisbook is ever going to be finished. I must have written five thousand pages by now, andthrown them all away. If I ever do finish it, though, I give you my word of honor: therewont be a part for Frank Sinatra or John Wayne.
7. I tell you what, I said, Ill call it The Childrens Crusade. She was my friend after that.OHare and I gave up on remembering, went into the living room, talked about otherthings. We became curious about the real Childrens Crusade, so OHare looked it up in abook he had, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by CharlesMackay, LL.D. It was first published in London in 1841.Mackay had a low opinion of all Crusades. The Childrens Crusade struck him as onlyslightly more sordid than the ten Crusades for grown-ups. OHare read this handsomepassage out loud:History in her solemn page informs us that the Crusaders were but ignorant and savagemen, that their motives were those of bigotry unmitigated, and that their pathway was oneof blood and rears. Romance, on the other hand, dilates upon their piety and heroism, andportrays, in her most glowing and impassioned hues, their virtue and magnanimity, theimperishable honor they acquired for themselves, and the great services they rendered toChristianity.And then OHare read this: Now what was the grand result of all these struggles? Europeexpended millions of her treasures, and the blood of two million of her people; and ahandful of quarrelsome knights retained possession of Palestine for about one hundredyears!Mackay told us that the Childrens Crusade started in 1213, when two monks got the ideaof raising armies of children in Germany and France, and selling them in North Africa asslaves. Thirty thousand children volunteered, thinking they were going to Palestine. Theywere no doubt idle and deserted children who generally swarm in great cities, nurtured onvice and daring, said Mackay, and ready for anything.Pope Innocent the Third thought they were going to Palestine, too, and he was thrilled.These children are awake while we are asleep! he said.Most of the children were shipped out of Marseilles, and about half of them drowned inshipwrecks. The other half got to North Africa where they were sold.Through a misunderstanding, some children reported for duty at Genoa, where no slaveships were waiting. They were fed and sheltered and questioned kindly by good peoplethere-then given a little money and a lot of advice and sent back home.Hooray for the good people of Genoa, said Mary OHare.I slept that night in one of the childrens bedrooms. OHare had put a book for me on thebedside table. It was Dresden, History, Stage and Gallery, by Mary Endell. It waspublished in 1908, and its introduction beganIt is hoped that this little book will make itself useful. It attempts to give to an English-reading public a birds-eye view of how Dresden came to look as it does, architecturally;of how it expanded musically, through the genius of a few men, to its present bloom; andit calls attention to certain permanent landmarks in art that make its Gallery the resort ofthose seeking lasting impressions.I read some history further onNow, in 1760, Dresden underwent siege by the Prussians. On the fifteenth of July beganthe cannonade. The Picture-Gallery took fire. Many of the paintings had been transportedto -the Konigstein, but some were seriously injured by splinters of bombshells-notablyFrancias Baptism of Christ. Furthermore, the stately Kreuzkirche tower, from which theenemys movements had been watched day and night, stood in flames. It later succumbed.In sturdy contrast with the pitiful fate of the Kreuzkirche, stood the Frauenkirche, from
8. the curves of whose stone dome the Prussian bombs - rebounded like rain. Friederich wasobliged finally to give up the siege, because he learned of the fall of Glatz, the criticalpoint of his new conquests. We must be off to Silesia, so that we do not lose everything.The devastation of Dresden was boundless. When Goethe as a young student visited thecity, he still found sad ruins Von der Kuppel der Frauenkirche sah ich these leidigenTrümmer zwischen die schone stddtische Ordnung hineingesät; da rühmte mir der Kiisterdie Kunst des Baumeisters, welcher Kirche und Kuppel auf einen so unerüinschten Fallschon eingeyichtet und bombenfest erbaut hatte. Der gute Sakristan deutete mir alsdannauf Ruinen nach allen Seiten und sagte bedenklich lakonisch: Das hat her Feind Gethan!The two little girls and I crossed the Delaware River where George Washington hadcrossed it, the next morning. We went to the New York Worlds Fair, saw what the pasthad been like, according to the Ford Motor Car Company and Walt Disney, saw what thefuture would be like, according to General Motors.And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much wasmine to keep.I taught creative writing in the famous Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa for acouple of years after that. I got into some perfectly beautiful trouble, got out of it again. Itaught in the afternoons. In the mornings I wrote. I was not be disturbed. I was workingon my famous book about Dresden.And somewhere in there a nice man named Seymour Lawrence gave me a three-bookcontract, and I said, O.K., the first of the three will be my famous book about Dresden.The friends of Seymour Lawrence call him Sam. And I say to Sam now: Sam-heresthe book.It is so short and jumbled and jangled, Sam, because there is nothing intelligent to sayabout a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or wantanything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and italways is, except for the birds.And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like Poo-tee-weet?I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres,and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee.I have also told them not to work for companies which make massacre machinery, and toexpress contempt for people who think we need machinery like that.As Ive said I recently went back to Dresden with my friend OHare. We had a millionlaughs in Hamburg and West Berlin and East Berlin and Vienna and Salzburg andHelsinki, and in Leningrad, too. It was very good for me, because I saw a lot of authenticbackgrounds for made-up stories which I will write later on. One of them will be RussianBaroque and another will be No Kissing and another will be Dollar Bar and another willbe If the Accident Will, and so on.And so on.There was a Lufthansa plane that was supposed to fly from Philadelphia to Boston toFrankfurt. OHare was supposed to get on in Philadelphia and I was supposed to get on inBoston, and off wed go. But Boston was socked in, so the plane flew straight toFrankfurt from Philadelphia. And I became a non-person in the Boston Fog, andLufthansa put me in a limousine with some other non-persons and sent us to a motel for anon-night.
9. The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only with theelectric clocks, but the wind-up kind, too. The second hand on my watch would twitchonce, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling., I had to believe whatever clockssaid-and calendars.I had two books with me, which Id meant to read on the plane. One was Words for theWind, by Theodore Roethke, and this is what I found in there: I wake to steep, and takemy waking slow. I feet my late in what I cannot fear. I learn by going where I have to go.My other book was Erika Ostrovskys Céline and His Vision. Céline was a brave Frenchsoldier in the First World War-until his skull was cracked. After that he couldnt sleep,and there were noises in his head. He became a doctor, and he treated poor people in thedaytime, and he wrote grotesque novels all night. No art is possible without a dance withdeath, he wrote.The truth is death, he wrote. Ive fought nicely against it as long as I could ... danced withit, festooned it, waltzed it around ... decorated it with streamers, titillated it... Timeobsessed him. Miss Ostrovsky reminded me of the amazing scene in Death on theInstallment Plan where Céline wants to stop the bustling of a street crowd. He screams onpaper, Make them stop ... dont let them move anymore at all ... There, make themfreeze ... once and for all! ... So that they wont disappear anymore!I looked through the Gideon Bible in my motel room for tales of great destruction. Thesun was risen upon the Earth when Lot entered into Zo-ar, I read. Then the Lord rainedupon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of Heaven; andHe overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and thatwhich grew upon the ground.So it goes.Those were vile people in both those cities, as is well known. The world was better offwithout them.And Lots wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and theirhomes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.She was turned to a pillar of salt. So it goes. People arent supposed to look back. Imcertainly not going to do it anymore. Ive finished my war book now. The next one I writeis going to be fun.This one is a failure, and had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt. It begins likethis:Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. It ends like this: Poo-tee-weet?TwoListen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. Billy has gone to sleep a senile widowerand awakened on his wedding day. He haswalked through a door in 1955 and come out another one in 1941. He has gone backthrough that door to find himself in 1963. He has seen his birth and death many times, hesays, and pays random visits to all the events in between.He says.Billy is spastic in time, has no control over where he is going next, and the trips arentnecessarily fun. He is m a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knowswhat part of his life he is going to have to act in next.Billy was bon in 1922 in Ilium, New York, the only child of a barber there. He was a
10. funny-looking child who became a funny-looking youth-tall and weak, and shaped like abottle of Coca-Cola. He graduated from Ilium High School in the upper third of his class,and attended night sessions at the Ilium School of Optometry for one semester beforebeing drafted for military service in the Second World War. His father died in a huntingaccident during the war. So it goes.Billy saw service with the infantry in Europe, and was taken prisoner by the Germans.After his honorable discharge from the Army in 1945, Billy again enrolled in the IliumSchool of Optometry. During his senior year there, he became engaged to the daughter ofthe founder and owner of the school, and then suffered a mild nervous collapse.He was treated in a veterans hospital near Lake Placid, and was given shock treatmentsand released. He married his fiancée, finished his education, and was set up in business inIlium by his father-in-law. Ilium is a particularly good city for optometrists because theGeneral Forge and Foundry Company is there. Every employee is required to own a pairof safety glasses, and to wear them in areas where manufacturing is going on. GF&F hassixty-eight thousand employees in Ilium. That calls for a lot of lenses and a lot of frames.Frames are where the money is.Bill became rich. He had two children, Barbara and Robert. In time, his daughter Barbaramarried another optometrist., and Billy set him up in business. Billys son Robert had alot of trouble in high school, but then he joined the famous Green Berets. He straightenedout, became a fine Young man, and he fought in Vietnam.Early in 1968, a group of optometrists, with Billy among them, chartered an airplane tofly them from Ilium to an international convention of optometrists in Montreal. The planecrashed on top of Sugarbush Mountain, in Vermont. Everybody was killed but Billy. So itgoes.While Billy was recuperating in a hospital in Vermont, his wife died accidentally ofcarbon-monoxide poisoning. So it goes.When Billy finally got home to Ilium after the airplane crash, he was quiet for a while.He had a terrible scar across the top Of his skull. He didnt resume practice. He had ahousekeeper. His daughter came over almost every day.And then, without any warning, Billy went to New York City, and got on an all-nightradio program devoted to talk. He told about having come unstuck in time. He said, too,that he had been kidnapped by a flying saucer in 1967. The saucer was from the planetTralfamadore, he said. He was taken to Tralfamadore, where he was displayed naked in azoo, he said. He was mated there with a former Earthling movie star named MontanaWildhack.Some night owls in Ilium heard Billy on the radio, and one of them called Billysdaughter Barbara. Barbara was upset. She and her husband went down to New York andbrought Billy home. Billy insisted mildly that everything he had said on the radio wastrue. He said he had been kidnapped by the Tralfamadorians on the night of his daughterswedding. He hadnt been missed, he said, because the Tralfamadorians had taken himthrough a time warp, so that he could be on Tralfamadore for years, and still be awayfrom Earth for only a microsecond.Another month went by without incident, and then Billy wrote a letter to the Ilium NewsLeader, which the paper published. It described the creatures from Tralfamadore. Theletter said that they were two feet high, and green., and shaped like plumbersfriends. Their suction cups were on the ground, and their shafts, which were extremely
11. flexible, usually pointed to the sky. At the top of each shaft was a little hand with a greeneye in its palm. The creatures were friendly, and they could see in four dimensions. Theypitied Earthlings for being able to see only three. They had many wonderful things toteach Earthlings, especially about time. Billy promised to tell what some of thosewonderful things were in his next letter.Billy was working on his second letter when the first letter was published. The secondletter started out like this:The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he onlyappears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry athis funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist.The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at astretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all themoments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusionwe have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, andthat once a moment is gone it is gone forever.When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a badcondition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of othermoments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say whatthe Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is "so it goes."And so on.Billy was working on this letter in the basement rumpus room of his empty house. It washis housekeepers day off. There was an old typewriter in the rumpus room. It was abeast. It weighed as much as a storage battery. Billy couldnt carry it very far very easily,which was why he was writing in the rumpus room instead of somewhere else.The oil burner had quit. A mouse had eaten through the insulation of a wire leading to thethermostat. The temperature in the house was down to fifty degrees, but Billy hadntnoticed. He wasnt warmly dressed, either. He was barefoot, and still in his pajamas and abathrobe, though it was late afternoon. His bare feet were blue and ivory. The cockles ofBillys heart, at any rate, were glowing coals. What made them so hot was Billys beliefthat he was going to comfort so many people with the truth about time. Hisdoor chimes upstairs had been ringing and ringing. It was his daughter Barbara up therewanting in. Now she let herself in with a key, crossed the floor over his head calling,Father? Daddy, where are you? And so on.Billy didnt answer her, so she was nearly hysterical, expecting to find his corpse. Andthen she looked into the very last place there was to look-which was the rumpus room.Why didnt you answer me when I called? Barbara wanted to know, standing there in thedoor of the rumpus room. She had the afternoon paper with her, the one in which Billydescribed his friends from Tralfamadore.I didnt hear you, said Billy.The orchestration of the moment was this: Barbara was only twenty-one years old, butshe thought her father was senile, even though he was only forty-six-senile because ofdamage to his brain in the airplane crash. She also thought that she was head of thefamily, since she had had to manage her mothers funeral, since she had to get ahousekeeper for Billy, and all that. Also, Barbara and her husband were having to lookafter Billys business interests, which were considerable, since Billy didnt seem to give adamn for business any more. All this responsibility at such an early age made her a bitchy
12. flibbertigibbet. And Billy, meanwhile, was trying to hang onto his dignity, to persuadeBarbara and everybody else that he was far from senile, that, on the contrary, he wasdevoting himself to a calling much higher than mere business.He was doing nothing less now, he thought, then prescribing corrective lenses forEarthling souls. So many of those souls were lost and wretched, Billy believed, becausethey could not see as well as Ws little green friends on Tralfamadore.Dont lie to me, Father, said Barbara. I know perfectly well you heard me when I called.This was a fairly pretty girl, except that she had legs like an Edwardian grand piano. Nowshe raised hell with him about the letter in the paper. She said he was making a laughingstock of himself and everybody associated with him.Father, Father, Father, said Barbara, what are we going to do with you? Are you goingto force us to put you where your mother is? Billys mother was still alive. She was inbed in an old peoples home called Pine Knoll on the edge of Ilium.What is it about my letter that makes you so mad? Billy wanted to know. Its all justcrazy. None of its true! Its all true. Bills anger was not going to rise with hers. Henever got mad atanything. He was wonderful that way. There is no such planet as Tralfamadore.It cant be detected from Earth, if thats what you mean, said Billy. Earth cant bedetected from Tralfamadore, as far as that goes. Theyre both very small. Theyre very farapart.Where did you get a crazy name like "Tralfamadore?" Thats what the creatures wholive there call it. Oh God, said Barbara, and she turned her back on him. She celebratedfrustration byclapping her hands. May I ask you a simple question? Of course. Why is it you nevermentioned any of this before the airplane crash? I didnt think the time was ripe.And so on. Billy says that he first came unstuck in time in 1944, long before his trip toTralfamadore. The Tralfamadorians didnt have anything to do with his coming unstuckThey were simply able to give him insights into what was really going on.Billy first came unstuck while the Second World War was in progress. Billy was achaplains assistant in the war. A chaplains assistant is customarily a figure of fun in theAmerican Army. Billy was no exception. He was powerless to harm the enemy or to helphis friends. In fact, he had no friends. He was a valet to a preacher, expected nopromotions or medals, bore no arms, and had a meek faith in a loving Jesus which mostsoldiers found putrid.While on maneuvers in South Carolina, Billy played hymns he knew from childhood,played them on a little black organ which was waterproof. It had thirty-nine keys and twostops- vox humana and vox celeste. Billy also had charge of a portable altar, an olive-drab attaché case with telescoping legs. It was lined with crimson plush, and nestled inthat passionate plush were an anodized aluminum cross and a Bible.The altar and the organ were made by a vacuum-cleaner company in Camden, NewJersey-and said so.One time on maneuvers Billy was playing A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, with music byJohann Sebastian Bach and words by Martin Luther. It was Sunday morning. Billy andhis chaplain had gathered a congregatation of about fifty soldiers on a Carolina hillside.An umpire appeared. There were umpires everywhere, men who said who was winningor losing the theoretical battle, who was alive and who was dead.
13. The umpire had comical news. The congregation had been theoretically spotted from theair by a theoretical enemy. They Were all theoretically dead now. The theoretical corpseslaughed and ate a hearty noontime meal.Remembering this incident years later, Billy was struck by what a Tralfamadorianadventure with death that had been, to be dead and to eat at the same time.Toward the end of maneuvers., Billy was given an emergency furlough home because hisfather, a barber in Ilium, New York, was shot dead by a friend while they were outhunting deer. So it goes.When Billy got back from his furlough., there were orders for him to go overseas. He wasneeded in the headquarters company of an infantry regiment fighting in Luxembourg.The regimental chaplains assistant had been killed in action. So it goes.When Billy joined the regiment, it was in the process of being destroyed by the Germansin the famous Battle of the Bulge. Billy never even got to meet the chaplain he wassupposed to assist, was never even issued a steel helmet and combat boots. This was inDecember of 1944, during the last mighty German attack of the war.Billy survived, but he was a dazed wanderer far behind the new German lines. Threeother wanderers, not quite so dazed, allowed Billy to tag along. Two of them were scouts,and one was an antitank gunner. They were without food or maps. Avoiding Germansthey were delivering themselves into rural silences ever more profound. They ate snow.They went Indian file. First came the scouts, clever, graceful quiet. They had rifles. Nextcame the antitank gunner, clumsy and dense, warning Germans away with a Colt .45automatic in one hand and a trench knife in the other.Last came Billy Pilgrim, empty-handed, bleakly ready for death. Billy was Preposterous-six feet and three inches tall, with a chest and shoulders like a box of kitchen matches. Hehad no helmet, no overcoat, no weapon and no boots. On his feet were cheap, low-cutcivilian shoes which he had bought for his fathers funeral. Billy had lost a heel, whichmade him bob up-and-down, up-and-down. The involuntary dancing up and down, upand down, made his hip joints sore.Billy was wearing a thin field jacket, a shirt and trousers of scratchy wool, and longunderwear that was soaked with sweat. He was the only one of the four who had a beard.It was a random, bristly beard, and some of the bristles were white, even though Billywas only twenty-one years old. He was also going bald. Wind and cold and violentexercise had turned his face crimson.He didnt look like a soldier at all. He looked like a filthy flamingo.And on the third day of wandering, somebody shot at the four from far away-shot fourtimes as they crossed a narrow brick road. One shot was for the scouts. The next one wasfor the antitank gunner, whose name was Roland Weary.The third bullet was for the filthy flamingo, who stopped dead center in the road whenthe lethal bee buzzed past his ear. Billy stood there politely, giving the marksman anotherchance. It was his addled understanding of the rules of warfare that the marksman shouldbe given a second chance. The next shot missed Billys kneecaps by inches, going end-on-end, from the sound of it.Roland Weary and the scouts were safe in a ditch, and Weary growled at Billy, Get outof the road, you dumb motherfucker. The last word was still a novelty in the speech ofwhite people in 1944. It was fresh and astonishing to Billy, who had never fuckedanybody-and it did its job. It woke him up and got him off the road.
14. Saved your life again, you dumb bastard, Weary said to Billy in the ditch. He had beensaving Billys fife for days, cursing him, kicking him, slapping him, making him move. Itwas absolutely necessary that cruelty be used, because Billy wouldnt do anything to savehimself. Billy wanted to quit. He was cold, hungry, embarrassed, incompetent. He couldscarcely distinguish between sleep and wakefulness now, on the third day, found noimportant differences either, between walking and standing still.He wished everybody would leave him alone. You guys go on without me, he said againand again.Weary was as new to war as Billy. He was a replacement, too. As a part of a gun crew, hehad helped to fire one shot in anger-from a 57-millimeter antitank gun. The gun made aripping sound like the opening of a zipper on the fly of God Almighty. The gun lapped upsnow and vegetation with a blowtorch feet long. The flame left a black arrow on theground, showing the Germans exactly where the gun was hidden. The shot was a miss.What had been missed was a Tiger tank. It swiveled its 88-millimeter snout aroundsniffingly, saw the arrow on the ground. It fired. It killed everybody on the gun crew butWeary. So it goes.Roland Weary was only eighteen, was at the end of an unhappy childhood spent mostlyin Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He had been unpopular in Pittsburgh. He had been unpopularbecause he was stupid and fat and mean, and smelled like bacon no matter how much hewashed. He was always being ditched in Pittsburgh by people who did not want him withthem.It made Weary sick to be ditched. When Weary was ditched, le would find somebodywho was even more unpopular than himself, and he would horse around with that personfor a while, pretending to be friendly. And then he would find some pretext for beatingthe shit out of him.It was a pattern. It was a crazy, sexy, murderous relationship Weary entered into withpeople he eventually beat up. He told hem about his fathers collection of guns andswords and torture instruments and leg irons and so on. Wearys father, who was aplumber, actually did collect such things, and his collection was insured for four thousanddollars. He wasnt alone. He belonged to a big club composed of people who collectedthings like that.Wearys father once gave Wearys mother a Spanish thumbscrew in - working condition-for a kitchen paperweight. Another time he gave her a table lamp whose base was amodel one foot high of the famous Iron Maiden of Nuremburg. The real Iron Maidenwas a medieval torture instrument, a sort of boiler which was shaped like a woman on theoutside-and lined with spikes. The front of the woman was composed of two hingeddoors. The idea was to put a criminal inside and then close the doors slowly. There weretwo special spikes where his eyes would be. There was a drain in the bottom to let out allthe blood.So it goes.Weary had told Billy Pilgrim about the Iron Maiden, about the drain in the bottom-andwhat that was for. He had talked to Billy about dum-dums. He told him about his fathersDerringer pistol, which could be carried in a vest pocket, which was yet capable ofmaking a hole in a man which a bull bat could fly through without touching either wing.Weary scornfully bet Billy one time that he didnt even know what a blood gutter was.Billy guessed that it was the drain in the bottom of the Iron Maiden, but that was wrong.
15. A blood gutter, Billy learned, was the shallow groove in the side of the blade of a swordor bayonet.Weary told Billy about neat tortures hed read about or seen in the movies or heard on theradio-about other neat tortures he himself had invented. One of the inventions wassticking a dentists drill into a guys ear. He asked Billy what he thought the worst form ofexecution was. Billy had no opinion. The correct answer turned out to be this: You stakea guy out on an anthill in the desert-see? Hes face upward, and you put honey all over hisballs and pecker, and you cut off his eyelids so he has to stare at the sun till he dies. So itgoes.Now, lying in the ditch with Billy and the scouts after having been shot at, Weary madeBilly take a very close look at his trench knife. It wasnt government issue. It was apresent from his father. It had a ten-inch blade that was triangular in cross section. Itsgrip consisted of brass knuckles, was a chain of rings through which Weary slipped hisstubby fingers. The rings werent simple. They bristled with spikes.Weary laid the spikes along Billys cheek, roweled the cheek with savagely affectionaterestraint. Howd you-like to be hit with this-hm? Hmmmmmmmmm? he wanted toknow.I wouldnt, said Billy. Know why the blades triangular? No. Makes a wound thatwont close up. Oh. Makes a three-sided hole in a guy. You stick an ordinary knife in aguy-makes a slit.Right? A slit closes right up. Right? Right.Shit. What do you know? What the hell they teach you in college?I wasnt there very long. said Billy, which was true. He had had only six months ofcollege and the college hadnt been a regular college, either. It had been the night schoolof the Ilium School of Optometry."Joe College, said Weary scathingly. Billy shrugged. Theres more to life than what youread in books. said Weary. Youll find that out. Billy made no reply to this, either, therein the ditch, since he didnt want theconversation to go on any longer than necessary. He was dimly tempted to say, though,that he knew a thing or two about gore. Billy, after all, had contemplated torture andhideous wounds at the beginning and the end of nearly every day of his childhood. Billyhad an extremely gruesome crucifix hanging on the wall of his little bedroom in Ilium. Amilitary surgeon would have admired the clinical fidelity of the artists rendition of allChrists wounds-the spear wound, the thorn wounds, the holes that were made by the ironspikes. Billys Christ died horribly. He was pitiful.So it goes.Billy wasnt a Catholic, even though he grew up with a ghastly crucifix on the wall. Hisfather had no religion. His mother was a substitute organist for several churches aroundtown. She took Billy with her whenever she played, taught him to play a little, too. Shesaid she was going to join a church as soon as she decided which one was right.She never did decide. She did develop a terrific hankering for a crucifix, though. And shebought one from a Sante Fé gift shop during a trip the little family made out West duringthe Great Depression. Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life thatmade sense from things she found in gift shops.And the crucifix went up on the wall of Billy Pilgrim.The two scouts, loving the walnut stocks of their rifles in the ditch, whispered that it was
16. time to move out again. Ten minutes had gone by without anybodys coming to see ifthey were hit or not, to finish them off. Whoever had shot was evidently far away and allalone.And the four crawled out of the ditch without drawing any more fire. They crawled into aforest like the big, unlucky mammals they were. Then they stood up and began to walkquickly. The forest was dark and cold. The pines were planted in ranks and files. Therewas no undergrowth. Four inches of unmarked snow blanketed the ground. TheAmericans had no choice but to leave trails in the show as unambiguous as diagrams in abook on ballroom dancing-step, slide, rest-step, slide,-rest.Close it up and keep it closed! Roland Weary warned Billy Pilgrim as they moved out.Weary looked like Tweedledum or Tweedledee, all bundled up for battle. He was shortand thick.He had every piece of equipment he had ever been issued, every present hed receivedfrom home: helmet, helmet liner, wool cap, scarf, gloves, cotton undershirt, woolenundershirt, wool shirt, sweater, blouse, jacket, overcoat, cotton underpants, woolenunderpants, woolen trousers, cotton socks, woolen socks, combat boots, gas mask,canteen, mess kit, first-aid kit, trench knife, blanket, shelter-half , raincoat, bulletproofBible, a pamphlet entitled Know Your Enemy, another pamphlet entitled Why WeFight and another pamphlet of German phrases rendered in English phonetics,, whichwould enable Weary to ask Germans questions such as Where is your headquarters? andHow many howitzers have you? Or to tell them, Surrender. Your situation is hopeless,and so on.Weary had a block of balsa wood which was supposed to be a foxhole pillow. He had aprophylactic kit containing two tough condoms For the Prevention of Disease Only! Hehad a whistle he wasnt going to show anybody until he got promoted to corporal. He hada dirty picture of a woman attempting sexual intercourse with a Shetland pony. He hadmade Billy Pilgrim admire that picture several times.The woman and the pony were posed before velvet draperies which were fringed withdeedlee-balls. They were flanked by Doric columns. In front of one column was a pottedpalm. The Picture that Weary had was a print of the first dirty photograph in history. Theword photography was first used in 1839, and it was in that year, too, that Louis J. M.Daguerre revealed to the French Academy that an image formed on a silvered metal platecovered with a thin film of silver iodide could be developed in the presence of mercuryvapor.In 1841, only two years later, an assistant to Daguerre, André Le Fèvre, was arrested inthe Tuileries Gardens for attempting to sell a gentleman a picture of the woman and thepony. That was where Weary bought his picture,, too-in the Tuileries. Le Fèvre arguedthat the picture was fine art, and that his intention was to make Greek mythology comealive. He said that columns and the potted palm proved that.When asked which myth he meant to represent, Le Fèvre, replied that there werethousands of myths like that, with the woman a mortal and the pony a god.He was sentenced to six months in prison. He died there of pneumonia. So it goes.Billy and the Scouts were skinny people. Roland Weary had fat to burn. He was a roaringfurnace under all his layers of wool and straps and canvas. He had so much energy that hebustled back and forth between Billy and the scouts, delivering dumb messages whichnobody had sent and which nobody was pleased to receive. He also began to suspect,
17. since he was so much busier than anybody else, that he was the leader.He was so hot and bundled up, in fact, that he had no sense of danger. His vision of theoutside world was limited to what he could see through a narrow slit between the rim ofhis helmet and his scarf from home, which concealed his baby face from the bridge of hisnose on down. He was so snug in there that he was able to pretend that he was safe athome, having survived the war, and that he was telling his parents and his sister a truewar story-whereas the true war story was still going on.Wearys version of the true war story went like this: There was a big German attack, andWeary and his antitank buddies fought like hell until everybody was killed but Weary. Soit goes. And then Weary tied in with two scouts, and they became close friendsimmediately, and they decided to fight them way back to their own lines. They weregoing to travel fast. They were damned if theyd surrender. They shook hands all around.They called themselves The Three Musketeers.But then this damn college kid, who was so weak he shouldnt even have been in thearmy, asked if he could come along. He didnt even have a gun or a knife. He didnt evenhave a helmet or a cap. He couldnt even walk right-kept bobbing up-and down, up-and-down, driving everybody crazy, giving their position away. He was pitiful. The ThreeMusketeers pushed and carried and dragged the college kid all the way back to their ownlines, Wearys story went. They saved his God-damned hide for him.In. real life, Weary was retracing his steps, trying to find out what had happened to Billy.He had told the scouts to wait while he went back for the college bastard. He passedunder a low branch now. It hit the top of his helmet with a clonk. Weary didnt hear it.Somewhere a big dog was barking. Weary didnt hear that, either. His war story was at avery exciting point. An officer was congratulating the Three Musketeers, telling them thathe was going to put them in for Bronze Stars.Anything else I can do for you boys? said the officer.Yes, sir, said one of the scouts. Wed like to stick together for the rest of the war, sir. Isthere some way you can fix it so nobody will ever break up the Three Musketeers?Billy Pilgrim had stopped in the forest. He was leaning against a tree with his eyesclosed. His head was tilted back and his nostrils were flaring. He was like a poet in theParthenon.This was when Billy first came unstuck in time. His attention began to swing grandlythrough the full arc of his life, passing into death, which was violet light. There wasntanybody else there, or any thing. There was just violet light and a hum. And then Billyswung into life again, going backwards until he was in pre-birth, which was red light andbubbling sounds. And then he swung into life again and stopped. He was a little boytaking a shower with his hairy father at the Ilium Y.M.C.A. He smelled chlorine from theswimming pool next door, heard the springboard boom.Little Billy was terrified, because his father had said Billy was going to learn to swim bythe method of sink-or-swim. Ms father was going to throw Billy into the deep end, andBilly was going to damn well swim.It was like an execution. Billy was numb as his father carried him from the shower roomto the pool. His eyes were closed. When he opened his eyes, he was on the bottom of thepool, and there was beautiful music everywhere. He lost consciousness, but the musicwent on. He dimly sensed that somebody was rescuing him. Billy resented that.From there he traveled in time to 1965. He was forty-one years old, and he was visiting
18. his decrepit mother at Pine Knoll, an old peoples home he had put her in only a monthbefore. She had caught pneumonia, and wasnt expected to live. She did live, though, foryears after that.Her voice was nearly gone, so, in order to hear her, Billy had to put his ear right next toher papery lips. She evidently had something very important to say.How ...? she began, and she stopped. She was too tired. She hoped that she wouldn’thave to say the rest of the sentence, and that Billy would finish it for herBut Billy had no idea what was on her mind. How what, Mother? he prompted.She swallowed hard, shed some tears. Then she gathered energy from all over her ruinedbody, even from her toes and fingertips. At last she bad accumulated enough to whisperthis complete sentence:How did I get so old? Billys antique mother passed out, and Billy was led from the room by a pretty nurse. Thebody of an old man covered by a sheet was wheeled by just as Billy entered the corridor.The man had been a famous marathon runner in his day. So it goes. This was before Billyhad his head broken in an airplane crash, by the way-before he became so vocal aboutflying saucers and traveling in time.Billy sat down in a waiting room. He wasnt a widower yet. He sensed something hardunder the cushion of his overstuffed chair. He dug it out, discovered that it was a book,The Execution of Private Slovik, by William Bradford Huie. It was a true account of thedeath before an American fixing squad of private Eddie D. Slovik, 36896415, the onlyAmerican soldier to be shot for cowardice since the Civil War. So it goes.Billy read the opinion of a staff judge advocate who reviewed Sloviks case, which endedlike this: He has directly challenged the authority of the government, and future disciplinedepends upon a resolute reply to this challenge. If the death penalty is ever to be imposedfor desertion, it should be imposed in this case, not as a punitive measure nor asretribution, but to maintain that discipline upon which alone an army can succeed againstthe enemy. There was no recommendation for clemency in the case and none is hererecommended. So it goes.Billy blinked in 1965, traveled in time to 1958. He was at a banquet in honour of a LittleLeague team of which his son Robert was a member. The coach, who had never beenmarried, was speaking. He was all choked up. Honest to God, he was Saying, Idconsider it an honor just to be water boy for these kids.Billy blinked in 1958, traveled in time to 1961. It was New Years Eve, and Billy wasdisgracefully drunk at a party where everybody was in optometry or married to anoptometrist.Billy usually didnt drink much, because the war had ruined his stomach, but he certainlyhad a snootful now, and he was being unfaithful to his wife Valencia for the first and onlytime. He had somehow persuaded a woman to come into the laundry room of the house,and then sit up on the gas dryer, which was running.The woman was very drunk herself, and she helped Billy get her girdle off. What was ityou wanted to talk about? she said.Its all night, said Billy. He honestly thought it was all right. He couldnt remember thename of the woman.How come they call you Billy instead of William?Business reasons, said Billy. That was true. His father-in-law, who owned the Ilium
19. School of Optometry, who had set Billy up in practice, was a genius in his field. He toldBilly to encourage people to call him Billy-because it would stick in their memories. Itwould also make him seem slightly magical, since there werent any other grown Billysaround. It also compelled people to think of him as a friend right away.Somewhere in there was an awful scene, with people expressing disgust for Billy and thewoman, and Billy found himself out in his automobile, trying to find the steering wheel.The main thing now was to find the steering wheel. At first, Billy windmilled his arms,hoping to find it by luck. When that didnt work, he became methodical, working in sucha way that the wheel could not possibly escape him. He placed himself hard against theleft-hand door, searched every square inch of the area before him. When he failed to findthe wheel, he moved over six inches, and searched again. Amazingly, he was eventuallyhard against the right-hand door, without having found the wheel. He concluded thatsomebody had stolen it. This angered him as he passed out.He was in the back seat of his car., which was why he couldnt find the steering wheel.Now somebody was shaking Billy awake. Billy stiff felt drunk, was still angered by thestolen steering wheel. He was back in the Second World War again, behind the Germanlines. The person who was shaking him was Roland Weary. Weary had gathered the frontof Billys field jacket into his hands. He banged Billy against a tree, then puffed himaway from it, flung him in the direction he was supposed to take under his own power.Billy stopped, shook his head. You go on, he said. What? You guys go on without me.Im all right. Youre what?Im O.K.Jesus-Id hate to see somebody sick, said Weary, through five layers of humid scarf fromhome. Lilly had never seen Wearys face. He had tried to imagine it one time, hadimagined a toad in a fishbowl.Weary kicked and shoved Billy for a quarter of a mile. The scouts were waiting betweenthe banks of a frozen creek. They had heard the dog. They had heard men calling backand forth, too-calling like hunters who had a pretty good idea of where their quarry was.The banks of the creek were high enough to allow the scouts, to stand without being seen.Billy staggered down the bank ridiculously. After him came Weary, clanking andclinking and tinkling and hot.Here he is, boys, said Weary. He dont want to live, but hes gonna live anyway. Whenhe gets out of this, by God, hes gonna owe his life to the Three Musketeers. Billy Pilgrim, there in the creekbed, thought he, Billy Pilgrim, was turning to steampainlessly. If everybody would leave him alone for just a little while, he thought, hewouldnt cause anybody any more trouble. He would turn to steam and float up amongthe treetops.Somewhere the big dog barked again. With the help of fear and echoes and wintersilences, that dog had a voice like a big bronze gong.Roland Weary, eighteen years old, insinuated himself between the scouts, draped a heavyarm around the shoulder of each. So what do the Three Musketeers do now? he said.Billy Pilgrim was having a delightful hallucination. He was wearing dry, warm, whitesweatsocks, and he was skating on a ballroom floor. Thousands cheered. This wasnttime-travel. it had never happened, never would happen. It was the craziness of a dyingyoung man with his shoes full of snow.One scout hung his head, let spit fall from his lips. The other did the same. They studied
20. the infinitesimal effects of spit on snow and history. They were small, graceful people.They had been behind German lines before many times- living like woods creatures,living from moment to moment in useful terror, thinking brainlessly with their spinalcords.Now they twisted out from under Wearys loving arms. They told Weary that he and Billyhad better find somebody to surrender to. The Scouts werent going to wait for them anymore.And they ditched Weary and Billy in the creekbed.Billy Pilgrim went on skating, doing tricks in sweat-socks, tricks that most people wouldconsider impossible-making turns, stopping on a dime and so on. The cheering went on,but its tone was altered as the hallucination gave way to time-travel.Billy stopped skating, found himself at a lectern in a Chinese restaurant in Ilium, NewYork, on an early afternoon in the autumn of 1957. He was receiving a standing ovationfrom the Lions Club. He had just been elected President, and it was necessary that hespeak. He was scared stiff, thought a ghastly mistake had been made. AR thoseprosperous, solid men out there would discover now that they had elected a ludicrouswaif. They would hear his reedy voice, the one hed had in the war. He swallowed, knewthat all he -had for a voice box was a little whistle cut from a willow switch. Worse-hehad nothing to say. The crowd quieted down. Everybody was pink and beaming.Billy opened his mouth, and out came a deep, resonant tone. His voice was a gorgeousinstrument. It told jokes which brought down the house. It grew serious, told jokes again,and ended on a note of humility. The explanation of the miracle was this: Billy had takena course in public speaking.And then he was back in the bed of the frozen creek again. Roland Weary was about tobeat the living shit out of him.Weary was filled with a tragic wrath. He had been ditched again. He stuffed his pistolinto its holster. He slipped his knife into its scabbard. Its triangular blade and bloodgutters on all three faces. And then he shook Billy hard, rattled his skeleton, slammedhim against a bank.Weary barked and whimpered through his layers of scarf from home. He spokeunintelligibly of the sacrifices he had made on Billys behalf. He dilated upon the pietyand heroism of The Three Musketeers, portrayed, in the most glowing and impassionedhues, their virtue and magnanimity, the imperishable honor they acquired for themselves,and the great services they rendered to Christianity,It was entirely Billys fault that this fighting organization no longer existed, Weary felt,and Billy was going to pay. Weary socked Billy a good one on the side of the jaw,knocked Billy away from the bank and onto the snow-covered ice of the creek. Billy wasdown on all fours on the ice, and Weary kicked him in the ribs, rolled him over on hisside. Billy tried to form himself into a ball.You shouldnt even be in the Army, said Weary.Billy was involuntarily making convulsive sounds that were a lot like laughter. Youthink its funny, huh? Weary inquired. He walked around to Billys back. Billys jacketand shirt and undershirt had been hauled up around his shoulders by the violence, so hisback was naked. There, inches from the tips of Wearys combat boots, were the pitifulbuttons of Billys spine.Weary drew back his right boot, aimed a kick at the spine, at the tube which had so many
21. of Billys important wires in it. Weary was going to break that tube.But then Weary saw that he had an audience. Five German soldiers and a police dog on aleash were looking down into the bed of the creek. The soldiers blue eyes were filledwith bleary civilian curiosity as to why one American would try to murder another one sofar from home, and why the victim should laugh.ThreeThe Germans and the dog were engaged in a military operation which had an amusinglyself-explanatory name, a human enterprise which is seldom described in detail, whosename alone, when reported as news or history, gives many war enthusiasts a sort of post-coital satisfaction. It is, in the imagination of combats fans, the divinely listless loveplaythat follows the orgasm of victory. It is called mopping up.The dog, who had sounded so ferocious in the winter distances, was a female Germanshepherd. She was shivering. Her tail was between her legs. She had been borrowed thatmorning from a farmer. She had never been to war before. She had no idea what gamewas being played. Her mine was Princess.Two of the Germans were boys in their early teens. Two were ramshackle old medroolers as toothless as carp. They were irregulars, armed and clothed fragmentarily withjunk taken from real soldiers who were newly dead. So it goes. They were farmers fromjust across the German border, not far away.Their commanander was a middle-aged corporal-red-eyed., scrawny, tough as dried beef,sick of war. He had been wounded four times-and patched up, and sent back to war. Hewas a very good soldier-about to quit, about to find somebody to surrender to. His bandylegs were thrust into golden cavalry boots which he had taken from a dead Hungariancolonel on the Russian front. So it goes.Those boots were almost all he owned in this world. They were his home. An anecdote:One time a recruit was watching him bone and wax those golden boots, and he held oneup to the recruit and said, If you look in there deeply enough, youll see Adam and Eve.Billy Pilgrim had not heard this anecdote. But, lying on the black ice there, Billy staredinto the patina of the corporals boots, saw Adam and Eve in the golden depths. Theywere naked. They were so innocent, so vulnerable, so eager to behave decently. BillyPilgrim loved them.Next to the golden boots were a pair of feet which were swaddled in rags. They werecrisscrossed by canvas straps, were shod with hinged wooden clogs. Billy looked up atthe face that went with the clogs. It was the face of a blond angel of fifteen-year-old boy.The boy was as beautiful as Eve.Billy was helped to his feet by the lovely boy, by the heavenly androgyne. And the otherscame forward to dust the snow off Billy., and then they searched him for weapons. Hedidnt have any. The most dangerous thing they found on his person was a two-inchpencil stub.Three inoffensive bangs came from far away. They came from German rifles. The twoscouts who had ditched Billy and Weary had just been shot. They had been lying inambush for Germans. They had been discovered and shot from behind. Now they weredying in the snow, feeling nothing, turning the snow to the color of raspberry sherbet. Soit goes. So Roland Weary was the last of the Three Musketeers.And Weary, bug-eyed with terror, was being disarmed. The corporal gave Wearys pistolto the pretty boy. He marveled at Wearys cruel trench knife, said in German that Weary
22. would no doubt like to use the knife on him, to tear his face off with the spiked knuckles,to stick the blade into his belly or throat. He spoke no English, and Billy and Wearyunderstood no German.Nice playthings you have, the corporal told Weary, and he handed the knife to an oldman. Isnt that a pretty thing? Hmmm?He tore open Wearys overcoat and blouse. Brass buttons flew like popcorn. The corporalreached into Wearys gaping bosom as though he meant to tear out his pounding heart,but he brought out Wearys bulletproof Bible instead.A bullet-proof Bible is a Bible small enough to be slipped into a soldiers breast pocket,over his heart. It is sheathed in steel.The corporal found the dirty picture of the woman and the pony in Wearys hip pocket.What a lucky pony, eh? he said. "Hmmmm? Hmmmm? Dont you wish you were thatpony? He handed the picture to the other old man. Spoils of war! Its all yours, you luckylad.Then he made Weary sit down in the snow and take off his combat boots, which he gaveto the beautiful boy. He gave Weary, the boys clogs. So Weary and Billy were bothwithout decent military footwear now and they had to walk for miles and miles, withWearys clogs clacking, with Billy bobbing up-and-down, up-and-down, crashing intoWeary from time to time.Excuse me, Billy would say, or I beg your pardon.They were brought at last to a stone cottage at a fork in the road. It was a collecting pointfor prisoners of war. Billy and Weary were taken inside, where it was warm and smoky.There vas a fire sizzling and popping in the fireplace. The fuel was furniture. There wereabout twenty other Americans in there, sitting on the floor with their backs to the wall,staring into the flames-thinking whatever there was to think, which was zero. Nobodytalked. Nobody had any good war stories to tell.Billy and Weary found places for themselves, and Billy went to sleep with his head onthe shoulder of an unprotesting captain. The captain was a chaplain. He was a rabbi. Hehad been shot through the hand.Billy traveled in time, opened his eyes, found himself staring into the glass eyes of a jadegreen mechanical owl. The owl was hanging upside down from a rod of stainless steel.The owl was Billys optometer in his office in Ilium. An optometer is an instrument formeasuring refractive errors in eyes-in order that corrective lenses may be prescribed.Billy had fallen asleep while examining a female patient who was m a chair on the otherside of the owl. He had fallen asleep at work before. It had been funny at first. Now Billywas starting to get worried about it, about his mind in general. He tried to remember howold he was, couldnt. He tried to remember what year it was. He couldnt remember that,either.Doctor, said the patient tentatively. Hm? he said. Youre so quiet. Sorry.You were talking away there-and then you got so quiet Um. You see somethingterrible? Terrible? Some disease in my eyes?No, no, said Billy, wanting to doze again. Your eyes are fine. You just need glasses forreading. He told her to go across the corridor-to see the wide selection of frames there.When she was gone, Billy opened the drapes and was no wiser as to what was outside.The view was still blocked by a venetian blind., which he hoisted clatteringly. Brightsunlight came crashing in. There were thousands of parked automobiles out there,
23. twinkling on a vast lake of blacktop. Billys office was part of a suburban shoppingcenter.Right outside the window was Billys own Cadillac El Dorado Coupe de Ville. He readthe stickers on the bumper. Visit Ausable Chasm, said one. Support Your PoliceDepartment, said another. There was a third. Impeach Earl Warren it said. The stickersabout the police and Earl Warren were gifts from Billys father-in-law, a member of theJohn Birch Society. The date on the license plate was 1967, which would make BillyPilgrim forty-four years old. He asked himself this: Where have all the years gone?Billy turned his attention to his desk. There was an open copy of The Review ofOptometry there. It was opened to an editorial, which Billy now read, his lips movingslightly. What happens in 1968 will rule the fare of European optometrists for at least 50years! Billy read. With this warning, Jean Thiriart, Secretary of the National Union ofBelgium Opticians, is pressing for formation of a European Optometry Society. Thealternatives, he says, will be the obtaining of Professional status, or, by 1971, reduction tothe role of spectacle-sellers.Billy Pilgrim tried hard to care.A siren went off, scared the hell out of him. He was expecting the Third World War atany time. The siren was simply announcing high noon. It was housed in a cupola atop afirehouse across the street from Billys office.Billy closed his eyes. When he opened them, he was back in the Second World Waragain. His head was on the wounded rabbis shoulder. A German was kicking his feet,telling him to wake up, that it was time to move on.The Americans, with Billy among them, formed a fools parade on the road outside.There was a photographer present, a German war correspondent with a Leica. He tookpictures of Billys and Roland Wearys feet. The picture was widely published two dayslater as heartening evidence of how miserably equipped the American Army often was,despite its reputation for being rich.The photographer wanted something more lively, though, a picture of an actual capture.So the guards staged one for him. They threw Billy into shrubbery. When Billy came outof the shrubbery, his face wreathed in goofy good will, they menaced him with theirmachine pistols, as though they were capturing him then.Billys smile as he came out of the shrubbery was at least as peculiar as Mona Lisas, forhe was simultaneously on foot in Germany in 1944 and riding his Cadillac in 1967.Germany dropped away, and 1967 became bright and clear, free of interference from anyother time. Billy was on his way to a Lions Club luncheon meeting. It was a hot August,but Billys car was air-conditioned. He was stopped by a signal in the middle of Iliumsblack ghetto. The people who lived here hated it so much that they had burned down a lotof it a month before. It was all they had, and theyd wrecked it. The neighborhoodreminded Billy of some of the towns he had seen in the war. The curbs and sidewalkswere crushed in many places, showing where the National Guard tanks and half-trackshad been.Blood brother, said a message written in pink paint on the side of a shattered grocerystore.There was a tap on Billys car window. A black man was out there. He wanted to talkabout something. The light had changed. Billy did the simplest thing. He drove on.Billy drove through a scene of even greater desolation. It looked like Dresden after it was
24. fire-bombed-like the surface of the moon. The house where Billy had grown up used tobe somewhere in what was so empty now. This was urban renewal. A new IliumGovernment Center and a Pavilion of the Arts and a Peace Lagoon and high-riseapartment buildings were going up here soon.That was all right with Billy Pilgrim.The speaker at the Lions Club meeting was a major in the Marines. He said thatAmericans had no choice but to keep fighting in Vietnam until they achieved victory oruntil the Communists realized that they could not force their way of life -on weakcountries. The major had been there on two separate tours of duty. He told of manyterrible and many wonderful things he had seen. He was in favor of increased bombings,of bombing North Vietnam back into the Stone Age, if it refused to see reason.Billy was not moved to protest the bombing of North Vietnam-, did not shudder about thehideous things he himself had seen bombing do. He was simply having lunch with theLions Club, of which he was past president now.Billy had a framed prayer on his office wall which expressed his method for keepinggoing, even though he was unenthusiastic about living. A lot of patients who saw theprayer on Billys wall told him that it helped them to keep going,, too. It went like thisGOD GRANT ME THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT THE THINGS I CANNOTCHANGE COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN, AND WISDOM ALWAYSTO TELL THE DIFFERENCE.Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past, the present and thefuture.Now he was being introduced to the Marine major. The person who was performing theintroduction was telling the major that Billy was a veteran., and that Billy had a son whowas a sergeant in the Green Berets-in Vietnam.The major told Billy that the Green Berets were doing a great job, and that he should beproud of his son.I am. I certainly am, said Billy Pilgrim.He went home for a nap after lunch. He was under doctors orders to take a nap everyday. The doctor hoped that this would relieve a complaint that Billy had: Every so often,for no apparent reason, Billy Pilgrim would find himself weeping. Nobody had evercaught Billy doing it. Only the doctor knew. It was an extremely quiet thing Billy did,and not very moist.Billy owned a lovely Georgian home in Ilium. He was rich as Croesus, something he hadnever expected to be, not in a million years. He had five other optometrists working forhim in the shopping plaza location, and netted over sixty thousand dollars a year. Inaddition, he owned a fifth of the new Holiday Inn out on Route 54, and -half of threeTastee-Freeze stands. Tastee-Freeze was a sort of frozen custard. It gave all the pleasurethat ice cream could give, without the stiffness and bitter coldness of ice cream.Billys home was empty. His daughter Barbara was about to get warned, and she and hiswife had gone downtown to pick out patterns for her crystal and silverware. There was anote saying so on the kitchen table. There were no servants. People just werent interestedin careers in domestic service anymore. There wasnt a dog, either.There used to be a dog named Spot, but he died. So it goes. Billy had liked Spot a lot, andSpot had liked him.Billy went up the carpeted stairway and into his and his wifes bedroom. The room had
25. flowered wallpaper. There was a double bed with a clock-radio on a table beside it. Alsoon the table were controls for the electric blanket, and a switch to turn on a gentlevibrator which was bolted to the springs of the box mattress. The trade name of thevibrator was Magic Fingers. The vibrator was the doctors idea, too.Billy took off his tri-focals and his coat and his necktie and his shoes, and he closed thevenetian blinds and then the drapes, and he lay down on the outside of the coverlet. Butsleep would not come. Tears came instead. They seeped. Billy turned on the MagicFingers, and he was jiggled as he wept.The doorchimes rang. Billy got off the bed and looked down through a window at thefront doorstep, to see if somebody important had come to call. There was a crippled mandown there, as spastic in space as Billy Pilgrim was in time. Convulsions made the mandance flappingly all the time, made him change his expressions, too, as though he weretrying to imitate various famous movie stars.Another cripple was ringing a doorbell across the street. He was an crutches. He had onlyone leg. He was so jammed between his crutches that his shoulders hid his ears.Billy knew what the cripples were up to: They were selling subscriptions to magazinesthat would never come. People subscribed to them because the salesmen were so pitiful.Billy had heard about this racket from a speaker at the Lions Club two weeks before--aman from the Better Business Bureau. The man said that anybody who saw cripplesworking a neighbourhood for magazine subscriptions should call the police.Billy looked down the street, saw a new, Buick Riviera parked about half a block away.There was a man in it, and Billy assumed correctly that he was the man who had hired thecripples to do this thing. Billy went on weeping as he contemplated the cripples and theirboss. His doorchimes clanged hellishly.He closed his eyes, and opened them again. lie was still weeping, but he was back inLuxembourg again. He was marching with a lot of other prisoners. It was a winter windthat was bringing tears to his eyes.Ever since Billy had been thrown into shrubbery for the sake of the picture, he had beenseeing Saint Elmos fire, a sort of electronic radiance around the heads of his companionsand captors. It was in the treetops and on the rooftops of Luxembourg, too. It wasbeautiful.Billy was marching with his hands on top of his head, and so were all the otherAmericans. Billy was bobbing up-and-down, up-and-down. Now he crashed into RolandWeary accidentally. I beg your pardon, he said.Wearys eyes were tearful also. Weary was crying because of horrible pains in his feet.The hinged clogs were transforming his feet into blood puddings.At each road intersection Billys group was joined by more Americans with their handson top of their haloed heads. Billy had smiled for them all. They were moving like water,downhill all the time, and they flowed at last to a main highway on a valleys floor.Through the valley flowed a Mississippi of humiliated Americans. Tens of thousands ofAmericans shuffled eastward, their hands clasped on top of their heads. They sighed andgroaned.Billy and his group joined the river of humiliation, and the late afternoon sun came outfrom the clouds. The Americans didnt have the road to themselves. The west-bound laneboiled and boomed with vehicles which were rushing German reserves to the front. Thereserves were violent, windburned, bristly men. They had teeth like piano keys.
26. They were festooned with machine-gun belts, smoked cigars, and guzzled booze. Theytook wolfish bites from sausages, patted their horny palms with potato-masher grenades.One soldier in black was having a drunk herds picnic all by himself on top of a tank. Hespit on the Americans. The spit hit Roland Wearys shoulder, gave Weary a fourragière ofsnot and blutwurst and tobacco juice, and Schnapps.Billy found the afternoon stingingly exciting. There was so much to see-dragons teeth,killing machine, corpses with bare feet that were blue and ivory. So it goes.Bobbing up-and-down, up-and-down, Billy beamed lovingly at a bright lavenderfarmhouse that had been spattered with machine-gun bullets. Standing in its cock-eyeddoorway was a German colonel. With him was his unpainted whore.Billy crashed into Wearys shoulder, and Weary cried out sobbingly. Walk right! Walkright!They were climbing a gentle rise now. When they reached the top, they werent inLuxembourg any more. They were in Germany.A motion-picture camera was set up at the border-to record the fabulous victory. Twocivilians in bearskin coats were leaning on the camera when Billy and Weary came by.They had run out of film hours ago.One of them singled out Billys face for a moment, then focused at infinity again. Therewas a tiny plume of smoke at infinity. There was a battle there. People were dying there.So it goes.And the sun went down, and Billy found himself bobbing in place in a railroad yard.There were rows and rows of boxcars waiting. They had brought reserves to the front.Now they were going to take prisoners into Germanys interior.Flashlight beams danced crazily.The Germans sorted out the prisoners according to rank. They put sergeants withsergeants, majors with majors, and so on. A squad of full colonels was halted near Billy.One of them had double pneumonia. He had a high fever and vertigo. As the railroad yarddipped and swooped around the colonel, he tried to hold himself steady by staring intoBillys eyes.The colonel coughed and coughed, and then he said to Billy, You one of my boys? Thiswas a man who had lost an entire regiment, about forty-five hundred men-a lot of themchildren, actually. Billy didnt reply. The question made no sense.What was your outfit? said the colonel. He coughed and coughed. Every time he inhaledhis lungs rattled like greasy paper bags.Billy couldnt remember the outfit he was from. You from the Four-fifty-first? Four-fifty-first what? said Billy. There was a silence. Infantry regiment, said the colonel atlast.Oh, said Billy Pilgrim.There was another long silence, with the colonel dying and dying, drowning where hestood. And then he cited out wetly, Its me, boys! Its Wild Bob! That is what he hadalways wanted his troops to call him: Wild Bob.None of the people who could hear him were actually from his regiment, except forRoland Weary, and Weary wasnt listening. All Weary could think of was the agony inhis own feet.But the colonel imagined that he was addressing his beloved troops for the last time, andhe told them that they had nothing to be ashamed of, that there were dead Germans all
27. over the battlefield who wished to God that they had never heard of the Four-fifty- first.He said that after the war he was going to have a regimental reunion in his home town,which was Cody, Wyoming. He was going to barbecue whole steers.He said all this while staring into Billys eyes. He made the inside of poor Bills skullecho with balderdash. God be with you, boys! he said, and that echoed and echoed. Andthen he said. If youre ever in Cody, Wyoming, just ask for Wild Bob! I was there. Sowas my old war buddy, Bernard V. OHare.Billy Pilgrim was packed into a boxcar with many other privates. He and Roland Wearywere separated. Weary was packed into another car in the same train.There were narrow ventilators at the comers of the car, under the eaves. Billy stood byone of these, and, as the crowd pressed against him, he climbed part way up a diagonalcomer brace to make more room. Ms placed his eyes on a level with the ventilator, so hecould see another train about ten yards away.Germans were writing on the cars with blue chalk-the number of persons in each car,their rank, their nationality, the date on which they had been put aboard. Other Germanswere securing the hasps on the car doors with wire and spikes and other trackside trash.Billy could hear somebody writing on his car, too, but he couldnt see who was doing it.Most of the privates on Billys car were very young-at the end of childhood. Butcrammed into the comer with Billy was a former hobo who was forty years old.I been hungrier than this, the hobo told Billy. I been m worse places than this. This aintso bad.A man in a boxcar across the way called out through the ventilator that a man. had justdied in there. So it goes. There were four guards who heard him. They werent excited bythe news.Yo, yo, said one, nodding dreamily. Yo, yo.And the guards didnt open the car with the dead man in it. They opened the next carinstead, and Billy Pilgrim was enchanted by what was in there. It was like heaven. Therewas candlelight, and there were bunks with quilts and blankets heaped on them. Therewas a cannonball stove with a steaming coffeepot on top. There was a table with a bottleof wine and a loaf of bread and a sausage on it. There were four bowls of soup.There were pictures of castles and lakes and pretty girls on the walls. This was the rollinghome of the railroad guards, men whose business it was to be forever guarding freightrolling from here to there. The four guards went inside and closed the door.A little while later they came out smoking cigars, talking contentedly in the mellow lowerregister of the German language. One of them saw Billys face at the ventilator. Hewagged a finger at him in affectionate warning, telling him to be a good boy.The Americans across the way told the guards again about the dead man on their car. Theguards got a stretcher out of their own cozy car, opened the dead mans car and wentinside. The dead mans car wasnt crowded at all. There were just six live colonels inthere-and one dead one.The Germans carried the corpse out. The corpse was Wild Bob. So it goes.During the night, some of the locomotives began to tootle to one another, and then tomove. The locomotive and the last car of each train were marked with a striped banner oforange and black, indicating that the train was not fair game for airplanes that it wascarrying prisoners of war.The war was nearly over. The locomotives began to move east in late December. The war
28. would end in May. German prisons everywhere were absolutely full, and there was nolonger any food for the prisoners to eat, and no longer any fuel to keep them warm. Andyet-here came more prisoners.Billy Pilgrims train, the longest train of all, did not move for two days. This aint bad,the hobo told Billy on the second day. This aint nothing at all. Billy looked out throughthe ventilator. The railroad yard was a desert now, except fora hospital train marked with red crosses-on a siding far, far away. Its locomotivewhistled. The locomotive of Billy Pilgrims train whistled back. They were saying,Hello.Even though Billys train wasnt moving., its boxcars were kept locked tight. Nobody wasto get off until the final destination. To the guards who walked up and down outside, eachcar became a single organism which ate and drank and excreted through its ventilators. Ittalked or sometimes yelled through its ventilators, too. In went water and loaves ofblackbread and sausage and cheese, and out came shit and piss and language.Human beings in there were excreting into steel helmets, which were passed to the peopleat the ventilators, who dumped them. Billy was a dumper. The human beings also passedcanteens, which guards would fill with water. When food came in, the human beingswere quiet and trusting and beautiful. They shared.Human beings in there took turns standing or lying down. The legs of those who stoodwere like fence posts driven into a warm., squirming, fatting, sighing earth. The queerearth was a mosaic of sleepers who nestled like spoons.Now the train began to creep eastward.Somewhere in there was Christmas. Billy Pilgrim nestled like a spoon with the hobo onChristmas night, and he fell asleep, and he traveled in time to 1967 again-to the night hewas kidnapped by a flying saucer from Tralfamadore.FourBilly Pilgrim could not sleep on his daughters wedding night. He was forty-four. Thewedding had taken place that afternoon in a gaily striped tent in Billys backyard. Thestripes were orange and black.Billy and his wife, Valencia, nestled like spoons in their big double bed. They werejiggled by Magic Fingers. Valencia didnt need to be jiggled to sleep. Valencia wassnoring like a bandsaw. The poor woman didnt have ovaries or a uterus any more.They had been removed by a surgeon-by one of Billys partners in the New Holiday Inn.There was a full moon.Billy got out of bed in the moonlight. He felt spooky and luminous felt as though he werewrapped in cool fur that was full of static electricity. He looked down at his bare feet.They were ivory and blue.Billy now shuffled down his upstairs hallway, knowing he was about to be kidnapped bya flying saucer. The hallway was zebra-striped with darkness and moonlight. Themoonlight came into the hallway through doorways of the empty rooms of Billys twochildren, children no more. They were gone forever. Billy was guided by dread and thelack of dread. Dread told him when to stop. Lack of it told him when to move again. Hestopped.He went into his daughters room. Her drawers were dumped. her closet was empty.Heaped in the middle of the room were all the possessions she could not take on ahoneymoon. She had a Princess telephone extension all her own-on her windowsill Its
29. tiny night light stared at Billy. And then it rang.Billy answered. There was a drunk on the other end. Billy could almost smell his breath-mustard gas and roses. It was a wrong number. Billy hung up. There was a soft drinkbottle on the windowsill. Its label boasted that it contained no nourishment whatsoever.Billy Pilgrim padded downstairs on his blue and ivory feet. He went into the kitchen,where the moonlight called his attention to a half bottle of champagne on the kitchentable, all that was left from the reception in the tent. Somebody had stoppered it again.Drink me, it seemed to say.So Billy uncorked it with his thumbs. It didnt make a pop. The champagne was dead. Soit goes.Billy looked at the clock on the gas stove. He had an hour to kill before the saucer came.He went into the living room, swinging the bottle like a dinner bell, turned on thetelevision. He came slightly unstuck in time, saw the late movie backwards, thenforwards again. It was a movie about American bombers in the Second World War andthe gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this:American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from anairfield in England. Over France a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards,sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did thesame for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwardsto join the formation.The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombersopened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires,gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies ofthe planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below hadmiraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suckmore fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few woundedAmericans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France, though,German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racksand shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating nightand day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals.Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped tospecialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground., to hidethem cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.The American fliers turned in their uniforms, became high school kids. And Hitler turnedinto a baby, Billy Pilgrim supposed. That wasnt in the movie. Billy was extrapolating.Everybody turned into a baby, and all humanity, without exception, conspiredbiologically to produce two perfect people named Adam and Eve, he supposed.Billy saw the war movies backwards then forwards-and then it was time to go out into hisbackyard to meet the flying saucer. Out he went, his blue and ivory feet crushing the wetsalad of the lawn. He stopped, took a swig, of the dead champagne. It was like 7-Up. Hewould not raise his eyes to the sky, though he knew there was a flying saucer fromTralfamadore up there. He would see it soon enough, inside and out, and he would see,too, where it came from soon enough-soon enough.Overhead he heard the cry of what might have been a melodious owl, but it wasnt amelodious owl. It was a flying saucer from Tralfamadore, navigating in both space and
30. time, therefore seeming to Billy Pilgrim to have come from nowhere all at once.Somewhere a big dog barked.The saucer was one hundred feet in diameter, with portholes around its rim. The lightfrom the portholes was a pulsing purple. The only noise it made was the owl song. It ca-me down to hover over Billy, and to enclose him in a cylinder of pulsing in purple light.Now there was the sound of a seeming kiss as an airtight hatch in the bottom of thesaucer was opened. Down snaked a ladder that was outlined in pretty lights like a Ferriswheel.Billys will was paralyzed by a zap gun aimed at him from one of the portholes. It becameimperative that he take hold of the bottom rung of the sinuous ladder, which he did. Therung was electrified, so that Billys hands locked onto it hard. He was hauled into theairlock, and machinery closed the bottom door. Only then did the ladder, wound onto areel in the airlock, let him go. Only then did Billys brain start working again.There were two peepholes inside the airlock-with yellow eyes pressed to them. There wasa speaker on the wall. The Tralfamadorians had no voice boxes. They communicatedtelepathicary. They were able to talk to Billy by means of a computer and a sort ofelectric organ which made every Earthling speech sound.Welcome aboard, Mr. Pilgrim, said the loudspeaker. Any questions? Billy licked hislips, thought a while, inquired at last: Why me? That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter?Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped inamber?Yes. Billy in fact, had a paperweight in his office which was a blob of polished amberwith three ladybugs embedded in it.Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.They introduced an anesthetic into Billys atmosphere now, put him to sleep. They cardedhim to a cabin where he was strapped to a yellow Barca-Lounger which they had stolenfrom a Sears & Roebuck warehouse. The hold of the saucer was crammed with otherstolen merchandise, which would be used to furnish Billys artificial habitat in a zoo onTralfamadore.The terrific acceleration of the saucer as it left Earth twisted Billys slumbering body,distorted his face, dislodged him m time, sent him back to the war.When he regained consciousness, he wasnt on the flying saucer. He was in a boxcarcrossing Germany again.Some people were rising from the floor of the car, and others were lying down. Billyplanned to He down, too. It would be lovely to sleep. It was black in the car, and blackoutside the car, which seemed to be about two miles an hour. The car never seemed to goany faster than that. It was a long time between clicks, between joints in the track. Therewould be a click, and then a year would go by, and then there would be another clickThe train often stopped to let really important trains bawl and hurtle by. Another thing itdid was stop on sidings near prisons, leaving a few cars there. It was creeping across allof Germany, growing shorter all the time.And Billy let himself down oh so gradually now, hanging onto the diagonal cross- bracein the comer in order to make himself seem nearly weightless to those he was joining onthe floor. He knew it was important that he made himself nearly ghostlike when lyingdown. He had forgotten why, but a reminder soon came.
31. Pilgrim, said a person he was about to nestle with, is that you? Billy didnt say anything,but nestled very politely, closed his eyes. God damn it said the person. That is you, isntit? He sat up and explored Billy rudelywith his hands. Its you, all right. Get the hell out of here. Now Billy sat up, too-wretched, close to tears. Get out of here! I want to sleep! Shut up, said somebody else.Ill shut up when Pilgrim gets away from here.So Billy stood up again, clung to the cross-brace. Where can I sleep? he asked quietly.Not with me. Not with me, you son of a bitch, said somebody else. You yell. You kick.I do? "Youre God damn right you do. And whimper. I do? Keep the hell away fromhere., Pilgrim.And now there was an acrimonious madrigal, with parts sung in all quarters of the car.Nearly everybody seemingly, had an atrocity story of something Billy Pilgrim had doneto him in his sleep. Everybody told Billy Pilgrim to keep the hell away.So Billy Pilgrim had to sleep standing up, or not sleep at all. And food had stoppedcoming in through the ventilators, and the days and nights were colder all the time.On the eighth day, the forty-year-old hobo said to Billy, This aint bad. I can becomfortable anywhere.You can? said Billy.On the ninth day, the hobo died. So it goes. His last words were, You think this is bad?This aint bad.There was something about death and the ninth day. There was a death on the ninth dayin the car ahead of Billys too. Roland Weary died-of gangrene that had started in hismangled feet. So it goes.Weary, in his nearly continuous delirium, told again and again of the Three Musketeers,acknowledged that he was dying, gave many messages to be delivered to his family inPittsburgh. Above all, he wanted to be avenged, so he said again and again the name ofthe person who had killed him. Everyone on the car learned the lesson well.Who killed me?" he would ask. And everybody knew the answer., which was this: "BillyPilgrim.Listen- on the tenth night the peg was pulled out of the hasp on Billys boxcar door, andthe door was opened. Billy Pilgrim was lying at an angle on the corner-brace, self-crucified, holding himself there with a blue and ivory claw hooked over the- sill of theventilator. Billy coughed -when the door was opened, and when he coughed he shit thingruel. This was in accordance with the Third Law of Motion according to Sir IsaacNewton. This law tells us that for every action there is a reaction which is equal andopposite in direction.This can be useful in rocketry.The train had arrived on a siding by a prison which was originally constructed as anextermination camp for Russian prisoners of war.The guards peeked inside Billys car owlishly, cooed calmingly. They had never dealtwith Americans before, but they surely understood this general sort of freight. They knewthat it was essentially a liquid which could be induced to flow slowly toward cooing andlight. It was nighttime.The only light outside came from a single bulb which hung from a pole-high and faraway. All was quiet outside, except for the guards, who cooed like doves. And the liquidbegan to flow. Gobs of it built up in the doorway, plopped to the ground.
32. Billy was the next-to-last human being to reach the door. The hobo was the last. Thehobo could not flow, could not plop. He wasnt liquid any more. He was stone. So it goes.Billy didnt. want to drop from the car to the ground. He sincerely believed that he wouldshatter like glass. So the guards helped him down, cooing still. They set him down facingthe train. It was such a dinky train now.There was a locomotive, a tender, and three little boxcars. The last boxcar was therailroad guards heaven on wheels. Again-in that heaven on wheels-the table was set.Dinner was served.At the base of the pole from which the light bulb hung were three seeming haystacks. TheAmericans were wheedled and teased over to those three stacks, which werent hay afterall. They were overcoats taken from prisoners who were dead. So it goes.It was the guards firmly expressed wish that every American without an overcoat shouldtake one. The coats were cemented together with ice, so the guards used their bayonets asice picks, pricking free collars and hems and sleeves and so on, then peeling off coats andhanding them out at random. The coats were stiff and dome-shaped, having conformed totheir piles.The coat that Billy Pilgrim got had been crumpled and frozen in such a way, and was sosmall, that it appeared to be not a coat but a sort of large black, three-cornered hat. Therewere gummy stains on it, too, like crankcase drainings or old strawberry jam. Thereseemed to be a dead, furry animal frozen to it. The animal was in fact the coats fur collar.Billy glanced dully at the coats of his neighbors. Their coats all had brass buttons ortinsel or piping or numbers or stripes or eagles or moons or stars dangling from them.They were soldiers coats. Billy was the only one who had a coat from a dead civilian. Soit goes.And Billy and the rest were encouraged to shuffle around their dinky train and into theprison camp. There wasnt anything warm or lively to attract them-merely long, low,narrow sheds by the thousands, with no lights inside.Somewhere a dog barked. With the help of fear and echoes and winter silences, that doghad a voice like a big bronze gong.Billy and the rest were wooed through gate after gate, and Billy saw his first Russian. Theman was all alone in the night-a ragbag with a round, flat face that glowed like a radiumdial.Billy passed within a yard of him. There was barbed wire between them. The Russian didnot wave or speak, but he looked directly into Billys soul with sweet hopefulness, asthough Billy might have good news for him-news he might be too stupid to understand,but good news all the same.Billy blacked out as he walked through gate after gate. He came to what he thought mightbe a building on Tralfamadore. It was shrilly lit and lined with white tiles. It was onEarth, though. It was a delousing station through which all new prisoners had to pass.Billy did as he was told, took off his clothes. That was the first thing they told him to doon Tralfamadore, too.A German measured Billys upper right arm with his thumb and forefinger, asked acompanion what sort of an army would send a weakling like that to the front. Theylooked at the other American bodies now, pointed out a lot more that were nearly as badas Billys.One of the best bodies belonged to the oldest American by far, a high school teacher from
33. Indianapolis. His name was Edgar Derby. He hadnt been in Billys boxcar. Hed been inRoland Wearys car, had cradled Wearys head while he died. So it goes. Derby wasforty-four years old. He was so old he had a son who was a marine in the Pacific theaterof war.Derby had pulled political wires to get into the army at his age. The subject he had taughtin Indianapolis was Contemporary Problems in Western Civilization. He also coached thetennis team, and took very good care of his body.Derbys son would survive the war. Derby wouldnt. That good body of his would befilled with holes by a firing squad in Dresden in sixty-eight days. So it goes.The worst American body wasnt Billys. The worst body belonged to a car thief fromCicero, Illinois. Ms name was Paul Lazzaro. He was tiny, and not only were his bonesand teeth rotten, but his skin was disgusting. Lazzaro was polka-dotted all over withdime-sized scars. He had had many plagues of boils.Lazzaro, too, had been on Roland Wearys boxcar, and had given his word of honor toWeary that he would find some way to make Billy Pilgrim pay for Wearys death. He waslooking around now, wondering which naked human being was Billy.The naked Americans took their places under many showerheads along a white-tiledwall. There were no faucets they could control. They could only wait for whatever wascoming. Their penises were shriveled and their balls were retracted. Reproduction wasnot the main business of the evening.An unseen hand turned a master valve. Out of the showerheads gushed scalding rain. Therain was a blow-torch that did not warm. It jazzed and jangled Billys skin withoutthawing the ice in the marrow of his long bones.The Americans clothes were meanwhile passing through poison gas. Body lice andbacteria and fleas were dying by the billions. So it goes.And Billy zoomed back in time to his infancy. He was a baby who had just been bathedby his mother. Now his mother wrapped him in a towel, carried him into a rosy room thatwas filled with sunshine. She unwrapped him, laid him on the tickling towel, powderedhim between his legs, joked with him, patted his little jelly belly. Her palm on his littlejelly belly made potching sounds.Billy gurgled and cooed.And then Billy was a middle-aged optometrist again, playing hackers golf this time- on ablazing summer Sunday morning. Billy never went to church any more. He was hackingwith three other optometrists. Billy was on the green in seven strokes, and it was his turnto putt.It was an eight-foot putt and he made it. He bent over to take the ball out of the cup, andthe sun went behind a cloud. Billy was momentarily dizzy. When he recovered, he wasnton the golf course any more. He was strapped to a yellow contour chair in a whitechamber aboard a flying saucer, which was bound for Tralfamadore.Where am I? said Billy Pilgrim.Trapped in another blob of amber, Mr. Pilgrim. We are where we have to be just now-three hundred million miles from Earth, bound for a time warp which will get us toTralfamadore in hours rather than centuries.How-how did I get here?It would take another Earthling to explain it to you. Earthlings are the great explainers,explaining why this event is structured as it is, telling how other events may be achieved
34. or avoided. I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of RockyMountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings orexplanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all,as Ive said before, bugs in amber.You sound to me as though you dont believe in free will, said Billy Pilgrim.If I hadnt spent so much time studying Earthlings, said the Tralfamadorian, I wouldnthave any idea what was meant by "free will." Ive visited thirty-one inhabited plants inthe universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there anytalk of free will.FiveBilly Pilgrim says that the Universe does not look like a lot of bright little dots to thecreatures from Tralfamadore. The creatures can see where each star has been and where itis going, so that the heavens are filled with rarefied, luminous spaghetti. AndTralfamadorians dont see human beings as two-legged creatures, either. They see themas great millipedes with babies legs at one end and old peoples legs at the other, saysBilly Pilgrim.Billy asked for something to read on the trip to Tralfamadore. His captors had fivemillion Earthling books on microfilm, but no way to project them in Billys cabin. Theyhad only one actual book in English, which would be placed in a Tralfamadorianmuseum. It was Valley of the Dolls, by Jacqueline Susann.Billy read it, thought it was pretty good in spots. The people in it certainly had their ups-and-downs, ups-and-downs. But Billy didnt want to read about the same ups-and- downsover and over again. He asked if there wasnt, please, some other reading matters around.Only Tralfamadorian novels, which Im afraid you couldnt begin to understand, said thespeaker on the wall.Let me look at one anyway.So they sent him in several. They were little things. A dozen of them might have had thebulk of Valley of the Dolls-with all its ups-and-downs, up-and-downs.Billy couldnt read Tralfamadorian, of course, but he could at least see how the bookswere laid out-in brief clumps of symbols separated by stars. Billy commented that theclumps might be telegrams.Exactly, said the voice.They are telegrams?There are no telegrams on Tralfamadore. But youre right: each clump of-symbols is abrief, urgent message describing a situation, a scene., We Tralfamadorians read them allat once, not one after the other. There isnt any particular relationship between all themessages, except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, when seen all atonce, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is nobeginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we lovein our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.Moments after that, the saucer entered a time warp, and Billy was flung back into hischildhood. He was twelve years old, quaking as he stood with his mother and father onBright Angel Point, at the rim of Grand Canyon. The little human family was staring atthe floor of the canyon, one mile straight down.Well, said Billys father, manfully kicking a pebble into space, there it is. They hadcome to this famous place by automobile. They had had several blowouts on the way.
35. It was worth the trip, said Billys mother raptly. Oh, God was it ever worth it.Billy hated the canyon. He was sure that he was going to fall in. His mother touched him,and he wet his pants.There were other tourists looking down into the canyon, too, and a ranger was there toanswer questions. A Frenchman who had come all the way from France asked the rangerin broken English ff many people committed suicide by jumping in.Yes, sir, said the ranger. About three folks a year. So it goes.And Billy took a very short trip through time,, made a peewee jump of only ten days, sohe was still twelve, still touring the West with his family. Now they were down inCarlsbad Caverns, and Billy was praying to God to get him out of there before the ceilingfell in.A ranger was explaining that the Caverns had been discovered by a cowboy who saw ahuge cloud of bats come out of a hole in the ground. And then he said that he was goingto mm out all the lights., and that it would probably be the first time in the lives of mostpeople there that they had ever been in darkness that was total.Out went the lights. Billy didnt even know whether he was still alive or not. And thensomething ghostly floated in air to his left. It had numbers on it. His father had taken outhis Pocket watch. The watch had a radium dial.Billy went from total dark to total light, found himself back in the war, back in thedelousing station again. The shower was over. An unseen hand had turned the water off.When Billy got his clothes back, they werent any cleaner, but all the little animals thathad been living in them were dead. So it goes. And his new overcoat was thawed out andlimp now. It was much too small for Billy. It had a fur collar and a g of crimson silk, andhad apparently been made for an impresario about as big as an organ-grinders monkey. Itwas full of bullet holes.Billy Pilgrim dressed himself. He put on the little overcoat, too. It split up the back, and,at the shoulders, the sleeves came entirely free. So the coat became a fur-collared vest. Itwas meant to flare at its owners waist, but the flaring took place at Billys armpits.Me Germans found him to be one of the most screamingly funny things they had seen inall of the Second World War. They laughed and laughed.And the Germans told everybody else to form in ranks of five, with Billy as their pivot.Then out of doors went the parade, and through gate after gate again. Mere were morestarving Russians with faces like radium dials. The Americans were livelier than before.The jazzing with hot water had cheered them up. And they came to a shed where acorporal with only one arm and one eye wrote the name and serial number of eachprisoner in a big, red ledger. Everybody was legally alive now. Before they got theirnames and numbers in that book, they were missing in action and probably dead.So it goes.As the Americans were waiting to move on, an altercation broke out in their rear-mostrank. An American had muttered something which a guard did not like. The guard knewEnglish, and he hauled the American out of ranks knocked him down.The American was astonished. He stood up shakily, spitting blood. Hed had two teethknocked out. He had meant no harm by what hed said, evidently, had no idea that theguard would hear and understand.Why me? he asked the guard. The guard shoved him back into ranks. Vy you? Vyanybody? he said.
36. When Billy Pilgrims name was inscribed in the ledger of the prison camp, he was given anumber., too, and an iron dogtag in which that number was stamped. A slave laborerfrom Poland had done the stamping. He was dead now. So it goes.Billy was told to hang the tag around his neck along with his American dogtags, whichhe did. The tag was like a salt cracker, perforated down its middle so that a strong mancould snap it in two with his bare hands. In case Billy died, which he didnt, half the tagwould mark his body and half would mark his grave.After poor Edgar Derby, the high school teacher, was shot in Dresden later on, a doctorpronounced him dead and snapped his dogtag in two. So it goes.Properly enrolled and tagged, the Americans were led through gate after gate again. Intwo days time now their families would learn from the International Red Cross that theywere alive.Next to Billy was little Paul Lazzaro, who had promised to avenge Roland Weary.Lazzaro wasnt thinking about vengeance. He was thinking about his terrible bellyache.His stomach had shrunk to the size of a walnut. That dry, shriveled pouch was as sore asa boil.Next to Lazzaro was poor, doomed old Edgar Derby, with his American and Germandogs displayed like a necklace, on the outside of his clothes. He had expected to becomea captain, a company commander, because of his wisdom and age. Now here he was onthe Czechoslovakian border at midnight.Halt, said a guard.The Americans halted. They stood there quietly in the cold. The sheds they were amongwere outwardly like thousands of other sheds they had passed. There was thisdifference, though: the sheds had tin chimneys, and out of the chimneys whirledconstellations of sparks.A guard knocked on a door.The door was flung open from inside. Light leaped out through the door, escaped fromprison at 186,000 miles per second. Out marched fifty middle-aged Englishmen. Theywere singing "Hail, Hail, the Gangs All Here from the Pirates of Penzance.These lusty, ruddy vocalists were among the first English-speaking prisoners to be takenin the Second World War. Now they were singing to nearly the last. They had not seen awoman or a child for four years or more. They hadnt seen any birds, either. Not evensparrows would come into the camp.The Englishmen were officers. Each of them had attempted to escape from another prisonat least once. Now they were here, dead-center in a sea of dying Russians.They could tunnel all they pleased. They would inevitably surface within a rectangle ofbarbed wire, would find themselves greeted listlessly by dying Russians who spoke noEnglish, who had no food or useful information or escape plans of their own. They couldscheme all they pleased to hide aboard a vehicle or steal one, but no vehicle ever cameinto their compound. They could feign illness, if they liked, but that wouldnt earn them atrip anywhere, either. The only hospital in the camp was a six-bed affair in the Britishcompound itself.The Englishmen were clean and enthusiastic and decent and strong. They sangboomingly well. They had been singing together every night for years.The Englishmen had also been lifting weights and chinning themselves for years. Theirbellies were like washboards. The muscles of their calves and upper arms were like
37. cannonballs. They were all masters of checkers and chess and bridge and cribbage anddominoes and anagrams and charades and Ping-Pong and billiards, as well.They were among the wealthiest people in Europe, in terms of food. A clerical error earlyin the war, when food was still getting through to prisoners, had caused the Red Cross toship them five hundred parcels every month instead of fifty. The Englishmen had hoardedthese so cunningly that now, as the war was ending, they had three tons of sugar, one tonof coffee, eleven hundred pounds of chocolate, seven hundred pounds of tobacco,seventeen hundred pounds of tea, two tons of flour, one ton of canned beef, twelvehundred pounds of canned butter, sixteen hundred pounds of canned cheese, eighthundred pounds of powdered milk., and two tons of orange marmalade.They kept all this in a room without windows. They had ratproofed it by lining it withflattened tin cans.They were adored by the Germans, who thought they were exactly what the Englishmenought to be. They made war look stylish and reasonable, and fun. So the Germans letthem have four sheds, though one shed would have held them all. And, in exchange forcoffee or chocolate or tobacco, the Germans gave them paint and lumber and nails andcloth for fixing things up.The Englishmen had known for twelve hours that American guests were on their way.They had never had guests before, and they went to work like darling elves, sweeping,mopping, cooking, baking-making mattresses of straw and burlap bags, setting tables,putting party favors at each place.Now they were singing their welcome to their guests in the winter night. Their clotheswere aromatic with the feast they had been preparing. They were dressed half for battle,half for tennis or croquet. They were so elated by their own hospitality, and by all thegoodies waiting inside, that they did not take a good look at their guests while they sang.And they imagined that they were singing to fellow officers fresh from the fray.They wrestled the Americans toward the shed door affectionately, filling the night withmanly blather and brotherly rodomontades. They called them Yank, told them Goodshow, promised them that Jerry was on the run, and so on.Billy Pilgrim wondered dimly who Jerry was.Now he was indoors., next to an iron cookstove that was glowing cherry red. Dozens ofteapots were boiling there. Some of them had whistles. And there was a witches cauldronfull of golden soup. The soup was thick. Primeval bubbles surfaced it with lethargicalmajesty as Billy Pilgrim stared.There were long tables set for a banquet. At each place was a bowl made from a can thathad once contained powdered milk. A smaller can was a cup. A taller, more slender canwas a tumbler. Each tumbler was filled with warm milk.At each place was a safety razor, a washcloth, a package of razor blades, a chocolate bar,two cigars, a bar of soap,, ten cigarettes, a book of matches, a pencil and a candle.Only the candles and the soap were of German origin. They had a ghostly, opalescentsimilarity. The British had no way of knowing it, but the candles and the soap were madefrom the fat of rendered Jews and Gypsies and fairies and communists, and other enemiesof the State.So it goes.The banquet hall was illuminated by candlelight. There were heaps of fresh baked whitebread on the tables, gobs of butter, pots of marmalade. There were platters of sliced beef
38. from cans. Soup and scrambled eggs and hot marmalade pie were yet to come.And, at the far end of the shed, Billy saw pink arches with azure draperies hangingbetween them, and an enormous clock, and two golden thrones, and a bucket and a mop.It was in this setting that the evenings entertainment would take place, a musical versionof Cinderella, the most popular story ever told.Billy Pilgrim was on fire, having stood too close to the glowing stove. The hem of hislittle coat was burning. It was a quiet, patient sort of fire-like the burning of punk.Billy wondered ff there was a telephone somewhere. He wanted to call his mother, to tellher he was alive and well.There was silence now, as the Englishmen looked in astonishment at the frowsy creaturesthey had so lustily waltzed inside. One of the Englishmen saw that Billy was on fire.Youre on fire lad! he said, and he got Billy away from the stove and beat out the sparkswith his hands.When Billy made no comment on this, the Englishman asked him, Can you talk? Canyou hear?Billy nodded.The Englishman touched him exploratorily here and there, filled with pity. My God-what have they done to you, lad? This isnt a man. Its a broken kite.Are you really an American? said the Englishman. Yes, said Billy. And your rank?Private.What became of your boots, lad? I dont remember. Is that coat a joke? Sir?Where did you get such a thing? Billy had to think hard about that. They gave it to me,he said at last. Jerry gave it to you? Who? The Germans gave it to you? Yes. Billydidnt like the questions. They were fatiguing. Ohhhh-Yank, Yank, Yank, said theEnglishman, that coat was an insult, Sir? It was a deliberate attempt to humiliate you.You mustnt let Jerry do things like that. Billy Pilgrim swooned.Billy came to on a chair facing the stage. He I had somehow eaten, and now he waswatching Cinderella. Some part of him had evidently been enjoying the performance forquite a while. Billy was laughing hard.The women in the play were really men, of course. The clock had just struck midnightand Cinderella was lamentingGoodness me, the clock has struck- Alackaday, and fuck my luck.Billy found the couplet so comical that he not only laughed-he shrieked. He went onshrieking until he was carried out of the shed and into another, where the hospital was. Itwas a six-bed hospital. There werent any other patients in there.Billy was put to bed and tied down, and given a shot of morphine. Another Americanvolunteered to watch over him. This volunteer was Edgar Derby, the high school teacherwho would be shot to death in Dresden. So it goes.Derby sat on a three-legged stool. He was given a book to read. The book was The RedBadge of Courage, by Stephen Crane. Derby had read it before. Now he read it againwhile Billy Pilgrim entered a morphine paradise.Under morphine, Billy had a dream of giraffes in a garden. The giraffes were followinggravel paths, were pausing to munch sugar pears from treetops. Billy was a giraffe, too.He ate a pear. It was a hard one. It fought back against his grinding teeth. It snapped injuicy protest.The giraffes accepted Billy as one of their own, as a harmless creature as preposterously
39. specialized as themselves. Two approached him from opposite sides, leaned against him.They had long, muscular upper lips which they could shape like the bells of bugles. Theykissed him with these. They were female giraffes-cream and lemon yellow. They hadhorns like doorknobs. The knobs were covered with velvet.Why?Night came to the garden of the giraffes, and Billy Pilgrim slept without dreaming for awhile, and then he traveled in time. He woke up with his head under a blanket in a wardfor nonviolent mental patients in a veterans hospital near Lake Placid, New York. It wasspringtime in 1948, three years after the end of the war.Billy uncovered his head. The windows of the ward were open. Birds were twitteringoutside. Poo-tee-weet? one asked him. The sun was high. There were twenty-nine otherpatients assigned to the ward, but they were all outdoors now, enjoying the day. Theywere free to come and go as they pleased, to go home, even., if they liked-and so wasBilly Pilgrim. They had come here voluntarily, alarmed by the outside world.Billy had committed himself in the middle of his final year at the Ilium School ofOptometry. Nobody else suspected that he was going crazy. Everybody else thought helooked fine and was acting fine. Now he was in the hospital. The doctors agreed: He wasgoing crazy.They didnt think it had anything to do with the war. They were sure Billy was going topieces because his father had thrown him into the deep end of the Y.M.C.A. swimmingpool when he was a little boy, and had then taken him to the rim of the Grand Canyon.The man assigned to the bed next to Billys was a former infantry captain named EliotRosewater. Rosewater was sick and tired of being drunk all the time.It was Rosewater who introduced Billy to science fiction, and in particular to the writingsof Kilgore Trout. Rosewater had a tremendous collection of science-fiction paperbacksunder his bed. He had brought them to the hospital in a steamer trunk. Those beloved,frumpish books gave off a smell that permeated the ward-like flannel pajamas that hadntbeen changed for a month, or like Irish stew.Kilgore Trout became Billys favorite living author, and science fiction became the onlysort of tales he could read.Rosewater was twice as smart as Billy., but he and Billy were dealing with similar crisesin similar ways. They had both found life meaningless, partly because of what they hadseen in war. Rosewater., for instance, had shot a fourteen-year-old fireman, mistakinghim for a German soldier. So it goes. And Billy had seen the greatest massacre inEuropean history, which was the firebombing of Dresden. So it goes.So they were trying to re-invent themselves and their universe. Science fiction was a bighelp.Rosewater said an interesting thing to Billy one time about a book that wasnt sciencefiction. He said that everything there was to know about life was in The BrothersKaramazov, by Feodor Dostoevsky. But that isnt enough any more. said Rosewater.Another time Billy heard Rosewater say to a psychiatrist, I think you guys are going tohave to come up with a lot of wonderful new lies, or people just arent going to want togo on living.There was a still life on Billys bedside table-two pills, an ashtray with three lipstick-stained cigarettes in it, one cigarette Still burning, and a glass of water. The water wasdead. So it goes. Air was trying to get out of that dead water. Bubbles were clinging to
40. the walls of the glass, too weak to climb out.The cigarettes belonged to Billys chain-smoking mother. She had sought the ladiesroom, which was off the ward for WACS and WAVES and SPARS and WAFS who hadgone bananas. She would be back at any moment now.Billy covered his head with his blanket again. He always covered his head when hismother came to see him in the mental ward-always got much sicker until she went away.It wasnt that she was ugly, or had bad breath or a bad personality. She was a perfectlynice, standard-issue, brown-haired, white woman with a high-school education.She upset Billy simply by being his mother. She made him feel embarrassed andungrateful and weak because she had gone to so much trouble to give him life, and tokeep that life going, and Billy didnt really like life at all.Billy heard Eliot Rosewater come in and lie down. Rosewaters bedsprings talked a lotabout that. Rosewater was a big man, but not very powerful. He looked as though hemight be made out of nose putty.And then Billys mother came back from the ladies room, sat down on a chair betweenBillys and Rosewaters bed. Rosewater greeted her with melodious warmth, asked howshe was today. He seemed delighted to hear that she was fine. He was experimenting withbeing ardently sympathetic with everybody he met. He thought that might make theworld a slightly more pleasant place to live in. He called Billys mother dear. He wasexperimenting with calling everybody dear.Some day she promised Rosewater., "Im going to come in here, and Billy is going touncover his head, and do you know what hes going to say?Whats he going to say, dear?Hes going to say, "Hello, Mom," and hes going to smile. Hes going to say, "Gee, itsgood to see you, Mom. How have you been?"Today could -be the day. Every night I pray. Thats a good thing to do. People wouldbe surprised ff they knew how much in this world was due to prayers. You never said atruer word, dear.Does your mother come to see you often? My mother is dead, said Rosewater. So itgoes. Im sorry. At least she had a happy life as long as it lasted. Thats a consolation,anyway. Yes. Billys father is dead., you know, said Billys mother. So it goes.A boy needs a father.And on and on it went-that duet between the dumb, praying lady and the big, hollow manso full of loving echoes.He was at the top of his class when this happened, said Billys mother.Maybe he. was working too hard. said Rosewater. He held a book he wanted to read, buthe was much too polite to read and talk, too, easy as it was to give Billys mothersatisfactory answers. The book was Maniacs in the Fourth Dimension, by Kilgore Trout.It was about people whose mental diseases couldnt be treated because the causes of thediseases were all in the fourth dimension., and three-dimensional Earthling doctorscouldnt see those causes at all, or even imagine them.One thing Trout said that Rosewater liked very much was that there really were vampiresand werewolves and goblins and angels and so on, but that they were in the fourthdimension. So was William Blake, Rosewaters favorite poet, according to Trout. So wereheaven and hell.Hes engaged to a very rich girl, said Billys mother. That’s good, said Rosewater.
41. Money can be a great comfort sometimes. It really can. Of course it can. It isnt muchfun if you have to pinch every penny till it screams. Its nice to have a little breathingroom. Her father owns the optometry school where Billy was going. He also owns sixofficesaround our part of the state. He flies his own plane and has a summer place up on LakeGeorge.Thats a beautiful lake.Billy fell asleep under his blanket. When he woke up again, he was tied to the bed in thehospital back in prison. He opened one eye, saw poor old Edgar Derby reading The RedBadge of Courage by candlelight.Billy closed that one eye saw in his memory of the future poor old Edgar Derby in frontof a firing squad in the ruins of Dresden. There were only four men in that squad. Billyhad heard that one man in each firing squad was customarily given a rifle loaded withblank cartridge. Billy didnt think there would be a blank cartridge issued in a squad thatsmall, in a war that old.Now the head Englishman came into the hospital to check on Billy. He was an infantrycolonel captured at Dunkirk. It was he who had given Billy morphine. There wasnt a realdoctor in the compound, so the doctoring was up to him. Hows the patient? he askedDerby.Dead to the world. But not actually dead. No. How nice-to feel nothing, and still getfull credit for being alive. Derby now came to lugubrious attention.No, no-please-as you were. With only two men for each officer, and all the men sick, Ithink we can do without the usual pageantry between officers and men.Derby remained standing. You seem older than the rest, said the colonel.Derby told him he was forty-five, which was two years older than the colonel. Thecolonel said that the other Americans had all shaved now, that Billy and Derby were theonly two still with beards. And he said, You know weve had to imagine the war here,and we have imagined that it was being fought by aging men like ourselves. We hadforgotten that wars were fought by babies. When I saw those freshly shaved faces, it wasa shock "My God, my God-" I said to myself. "Its the Childrens Crusade."The colonel asked old Derby how he had been captured, and Derby told a tale of being ina clump of trees with about a hundred other frightened soldiers. The battle had beengoing on for five days. The hundred had been driven into the trees by tanks.Derby described the incredible artificial weather that Earthlings sometimes create forother Earthlings when they dont want those other Earthlings to inhabit Earth any more.Shells were bursting in the treetops with terrific bangs, he said, showering down knivesand needles and razorblades. Little lumps of lead in copper jackets were crisscrossing thewoods under the shellbursts, zipping along much faster than sound.A lot of people were being wounded or killed. So it goes.Then the shelling stopped, and a hidden German with a loudspeaker told the Americansto put their weapons down and come out of the woods with their hands on the top of theirheads, or the shelling would start again. It wouldnt stop until everybody in there wasdead.So the Americans put their weapons down, and they came out of the woods with theirhands on top of their heads, because they wanted to go on living, if they possibly could.Billy traveled in time back to the veterans hospital again. The blanket was over his head.
42. It was quiet outside the blanket. "Is my mother gone? said Billy.Yes.Billy peeked out from under his blanket. His fiancée was out there now, sitting on thevisitors chair. Her name was Valencia Merble. Valencia was the daughter of the owner ofthe Ilium School of Optometry. She was rich. She was as big as a house because shecouldnt stop eating. She was eating now. She was eating a Three Musketeers Candy Bar.She was wearing trifocal lenses in harlequin frames, and the frames were trimmed withrhinestones. The glitter of the rhinestones was answered by the glitter of the diamond inher engagement ring. The diamond was insured for eighteen hundred dollars. Billy hadfound that diamond in Germany. It was booty of war.Billy didnt want to marry ugly Valencia. She was one of the symptoms of his disease. Heknew he was going crazy, when he heard himself proposing marriage to her., when hebegged her to take the diamond ring and be his companion for life.Billy said, Hello, to her, and she asked him if he wanted some candy, and he said, No,thanks.She asked him how he was, and he said, Much better, thanks. She said that everybody atthe Optometry School was sorry he was sick and hoped he would be well soon, and Billysaid, When you see em, tell em, "Hello."She promised she would.She asked him if there was anything she could bring him from the outside, and he said,No. I have just about everything I want.What about books? said Valencia.Im right next to one of the biggest private libraries in the world, said Billy, meaningEliot Rosewaters collection of science fiction.Rosewater was on the next bed, reading, and Billy drew him into the conversation, askedhim what he was reading this time.So Rosewater told him. It was The Gospel from Outer Space, by Kilgore Trout. It wasabout a visitor from outer space, shaped very much like a Tralfamadorian by the way.The visitor from outer space made a serious study of Christianity, to learn, if he could,why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the troublewas slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of theGospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of thelow.But the Gospels actually taught this: Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure heisnt well connected. So it goes.The flaw in the Christ stories, said the visitor from outer space, was that Christ, whodidnt look like much, was actually the Son of the Most Powerful Being in the Universe.Readers understood that, so, when they came to the crucifixion, they naturally thought,and Rosewater read out loud again:Oh, boy-they sure picked the wrong guy to lynch that time!And that thought had a brother: There are right people to lynch. Who? People not wellconnected. So it goes.The visitor from outer space made a gift to Earth of a new Gospel. In it, Jesus really wasa nobody, and a pain in the neck to a lot of people with better connections than he had.He still got to say all the lovely and puzzling things he said in the other Gospels.So the people amused themselves one day by nailing him to a cross and planting the cross
43. in the ground. There couldnt possibly be any repercussions, the lynchers thought. Thereader would have to think that, too, since the new Gospel hammered home again andagain what a nobody Jesus was.And then, just before the nobody died, the heavens opened up, and there was thunder andlightning. The voice of God came crashing down. He told the people that he was adoptingthe bum as his son giving him the full powers and privileges of The Son of the Creator ofthe Universe throughout all eternity. God said this From this moment on, He will punishhorribly anybody who torments a bum who has no connections!Billys fiancée had finished her Three Musketeers Candy Bar. Now she was eating aMilky Way.Forget books, said Rosewater, throwing that particular book under his bed. The hellwith em.That sounded like an interesting one, said Valencia.Jesus-if Kilgore Trout could only write! Rosewater exclaimed. He had a point: KilgoreTrouts unpopularity was deserved. His prose was frightful. Only his ideas were good.I dont think Trout has ever been out of the country, Rosewater went on. My God-hewrites about Earthlings all the time, and theyre all Americans. Practically nobody on isan American.Where does he live?" Valencia asked.Nobody knows, Rosewater replied. Im the only person who ever heard of him, as far asI can tell. No two books have the same publisher, and every time I write him in care of apublisher, the letter comes back because the publisher has failed.He changed the subject now, congratulated Valencia on her engagement ring.Thank you, she said, and held it out so Rosewater could get a close look. Billy got thatdiamond in the war.Thats the attractive thing about war, said Rosewater. Absolutely everybody gets a littlesomething.With regard to the whereabouts of Kilgore Trout: he actually lived in Ilium, Billyshometown, friendless and despised. Billy would meet him by and by.Billy said Valencia Merble. Hm?You want to talk about our silver pattern? Sure. Ive got it narrowed down pretty muchto either Royal Danish or Rambler Rose. Rambler Rose, said Billy. It isnt somethingwe should rush into, she said. I mean whatever we decide on, thatswhat were going to have to live with the rest of our lives. Billy studied the pictures.Royal Danish. he said at last. Colonial Moonlight is nice, too. Yes, it is, said BillyPilgrim.And Billy traveled in time to the zoo on Tralfamadore. He was forty-four years old, ondisplay under a geodesic dome. He was reclining on the lounge chair which had been hiscradle during his trip through space. He was naked. The Tralfamadorians were interestedin his body-all of it. There were thousands of them outside, holding up their little handsso that their eyes could see him. Billy had been on Tralfamadore for six Earthling monthsnow. He was used to the crowd.Escape was out of the question. The atmosphere outside the dome was cyanide, and Earthwas 446,120,000,000,000,000 miles away.Billy was displayed there in the zoo in a simulated Earthling habitat. Most of thefurnishings had been stolen from the Sears & Roebuck warehouse in Iowa City, Iowa.
44. There was a color television set and a couch that could be converted into a bed. Therewere end tables with lamps and ashtrays on them by the couch. There was a home bar andtwo stools. There was a little pool table. There was wall-to-wall carpeting in federal gold,except in the kitchen and bathroom areas and over the iron manhole cover in the center ofthe floor. There were magazines arranged in a fan on the coffee table in front of thecouch.There was a stereophonic phonograph. The phonograph worked. The television didnt.There was a picture Of one cowboy g another one pasted to the television tube. So itgoes.There were no wall in the dome, nor place for Billy to hide. The mint green bathroomfixtures were right out in the open. Billy got off his lounge chair now, went into thebathroom and took a leak. The crowd went wild.Billy brushed his teeth on Tralfamadore, put in his partial denture, and went into hiskitchen. His bottled-gas range and his refrigerator and his dishwasher were mint green,too. There was a picture painted on the door of the refrigerator. The refrigerator had comethat way. It was a picture of a Gay Nineties couple on a bicycle built for two. Billylooked at that picture now, tried to think something about the couple. Nothing came tohim. There didnt seem to be anything to think about those two people.Billy ate a good breakfast from cans. He washed his cup and plate and knife and fork andspoon and saucepan, put them away. Then he did exercises he had learned in the Army-straddle jumps, deep knee bends, sit-ups and push-ups. Most Tralfamadorians had no wayof knowing Bills body and face were not beautiful. They supposed that he was a splendidspecimen. This had a pleasant effect on Billy, who began to enjoy his body for the firsttime.He showered after his exercises and trimmed his toenails. He shaved and sprayeddeodorant under his arms, while a zoo guide on a raised platform outside explained whatBilly was doing-and why. The guide was lecturing telepathically, simply standing there,sending out thought waves to the crowd. On the platform with him was the little keyboardinstrument with which he would relay questions to Billy from the crowd. Now the firstquestion came-from the speaker on the television set: Are you happy here?About as happy as I was on Earth, said Billy Pilgrim, which was true.There were fives sexes on Tralfamadore, each of them performing a step necessary in thecreation of a new individual. They looked identical to Billy-because their sex differenceswere all in the fourth dimension.One of the biggest moral bombshells handed to Billy by the Tralfamadorians,incidentally, had to do with sex on Earth. They said their flying-saucer crews hadidentified no fewer than seven sexes on Earth, each essential to reproduction. Again:Billy couldnt possibly imagine what five of those seven sexes had to do with the makingof a baby, since they were sexually active only in the fourth dimension.The Tralfamadorians tried to give Billy clues that would help him imagine sex in theinvisible dimension. They told him that there could be no Earthling babies without malehomosexuals. There could be babies without female homosexuals. There couldnt bebabies without women over sixty-five years old. There could be babies without men oversixty-five. There couldnt be babies without other babies who had lived an hour or lessafter birth. And so on.It was gibberish to Billy.
45. There was a lot that Billy said that was gibberish to the Tralfamadorians, too. Theycouldnt imagine what time looked like to him. Billy had given up on explaining that. Theguide outside had to explain as best he could.The guide invited the crowd to imagine that they were looking across a desert at amountain range on a day that was twinkling bright and clear. They could look at a peak ora bird or a cloud, at a stone right in front of them, or even down into a canyon behindthem. But among them was this poor Earthling, and his head was encased in a steelsphere which he could never take off. There was only one eyehole through which hecould look, and welded to that eyehole were six feet of pipe.This was only the beginning of Billys miseries in the metaphor. He was also strapped toa steel lattice which was bolted to a flatcar on rails, And there was no way he could turnhis head or touch the pipe. The far end of the pipe rested on a bi-pod which was alsobolted to the flatcar. All Billy could see was the dot at the end of the pipe. He didnt knowhe was on a flatcar, didnt even know there was anything peculiar about his situation.The flatcar sometimes crept, sometimes went extremely fast, often stopped-went uphill,downhill, around curves, along straightaways. Whatever poor Billy saw through the pipe,he had no choice but to say to himself, Thats life.Billy expected the Tralfamadorians to be baffled and alarmed by all the wars and otherforms of murder on Earth. He expected them to fear that the Earthling combination offerocity and spectacular weaponry might eventually destroy part or maybe all of theinnocent Universe. Science fiction had led him to expect that.But the subject of war never came up until Billy brought it up himself. Somebody in thezoo crowd asked him through the lecturer what the most valuable thing he had learned onTralfamadore was so far, and Billy replied, How the inhabitants of a whole planet canlive in peace I As you know, I am from a planet that has been engaged in senselessslaughter since the beginning of time. I myself have seen the bodies of schoolgirls whowere boiled alive in a water tower by my own countrymen, who were proud of fightingpure evil at the time. This was true. Billy saw the boiled bodies in Dresden. And I havelit my way in a prison at night with candles from the fat of human beings who werebutchered by the brothers and fathers of those school girls who were boiled. Earthlingsmust be the terrors of the Universe! If other planets arent now in danger from Earth, theysoon will be. So tell me the secret so I can take it back to Earth and save us all: How cana planet live at peace?Billy felt that he had spoken soaringly. He was baffled when he saw the Tralfamadoriansclose their little hands on their eyes. He knew from past experience what this meant: Hewas being stupid.Would-would you mind telling me, he said to the guide, much deflated, what was sostupid about that?We know how the Universe ends, said the guide, and Earth has nothing to do with it,except that it gets wiped out, too.How-how does the Universe end? said Billy.We blow it up, experimenting with new fuels for our flying saucers. A Tralfamadoriantest pilot presses a starter button, and the whole Universe disappears. So it goes."If You know this," said Billy, isnt there some way you can prevent it? Cant you keepthe pilot from pressing the button?He has always pressed it, and he always will. We always let him and we always will let
46. him. The moment is structured that way.So, said Billy gropingly, I suppose that the idea of, preventing war on Earth is stupid,too. Of course. But you do have a peaceful planet here. Today we do. On other days wehave wars as horrible as any youve ever seen or readabout. There isnt anything we can do about them, so we simply dont look at them. Weignore them. We spend eternity looking at pleasant moments-like today at the zoo. Isntthis a nice moment?Yes.Thats one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awfultimes, and concentrate on the good ones.Um, said Billy Pilgrim.Shortly after he went to sleep that night, Billy traveled in time to another moment whichwas quite nice, his wedding night with the former Valencia Merble. He had been out ofthe veterans hospital for six months. He was all well. He had graduated from the IliumSchool of Optometry-third in his class of forty-seven.Now he was in bed with Valencia in a delightful studio apartment which was built on theend of a wharf on Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Across the water were the lights ofGloucester. Billy was on top of Valencia, making love to her. One result of this act wouldbe the birth of Robert Pilgrim, who would become a problem in high school, but whowould then straighten out as a member of the famous Green Berets.Valencia wasnt a time-traveler, but she did have a lively imagination. While Billy wasmaking love to her, she imagined that she was a famous woman in history. She was beingQueen Elizabeth the First of England, and Billy was supposedly Christopher Columbus.Billy made a noise like a small, rusty hinge. He had just emptied his seminal vesicles intoValencia, had contributed his share of the Green Beret According to the Tralfamadorians,of course, the Green Beret would have seven parents in all.Now he rolled off his huge wife, whose rapt expression did not change when he departed.He lay with the buttons of his spine along the edge of the mattress, folded his handsbehind his head. He was rich now. He had been rewarded for marrying a girl nobody inhis right mind would have married. His father-in-law had given him a new BuickRoadmaster, an all-electric home, and had made him manager of his most prosperousoffice, his Ilium office, where Billy could expect to make at least thirty thousand dollars ayear. That was good. His father had been only a barber.As his mother said, "The Pilgrims are coming up in the world,The honeymoon was taking place in the bittersweet mysteries of Indian summer in NewEngland. The lovers apartment had one romantic wall which was all French doors. Theyopened onto a balcony and the oily harbor beyond.A green and orange dragger, black in the night, grumbled and drummed past theirbalcony, not thirty feet from their wedding bed. It was going to sea with only its runninglights on. Its empty holds were resonant, made the song of the engines rich and loud. Thewharf began to sing the same song, and then the honeymooners headboard sang, too.And it continued to sing long after the dragger was gone.Thank you, said Valencia at last. The headboard was singing a mosquito song. Yourewelcome. It was nice. Im glad.Then she began to cry. Whats the matter? Im so happy. Good.
47. I never thought anybody would marry me. Um, said Billy Pilgrim.Im going to lose weight for you, she said. What? Im going to go on a diet. Im going tobecome beautiful for you. I like you just the way you are. Do you really? Really, saidBilly Pilgrim. He had already seen a lot of their marriage, thanks to time-travel, knew that it was going to be at least bearable all the way.A great motor yacht named the Scheherezade now slid past the marriage bed. The songits engines sang was a very low organ note. All her lights were on.Two beautiful people, a young man and a young woman in evening clothes, were at therail hi the stem, loving each other and their dreams and the wake. They werehoneymooning, too. They were Lance Rumfoord., of Newport, Rhode Island, and hisbride,, the former Cynthia Landry., who had been a childhood sweetheart of John F.Kennedy in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.There was a slight coincidence here. Billy Pilgrim would later share a hospital room withRumfoords uncle, Professor Bertram Copeland Rumfoord of Harvard, official Historianof the United States Air Force.When the beautiful people were past, Valencia questioned her funny-looking husbandabout war. It was a simple-minded thing for a female Earthling to do, to associate sex andglamor with war.Do you ever think about the war? she said, laying a hand on his thigh. Sometimes, saidBilly Pilgrim.I look at you sometimes, said Valencia, and I get a funny feeling that youre full ofsecrets.Im not, said Billy. This was a lie, of course. He hadnt told anybody about all the timetraveling hed done, about Tralfamadore and so on.You must have secrets about the war. Or, not secrets, I guess, but things you dont wantto talk about.No. Im proud you were a soldier. Do you know that? Good. Was it awful?Sometimes. A crazy thought now occurred to Billy. The truth of it startled him. Itwould make a good epitaph for Billy Pilgrim-and for me, too. Would you talk about thewar now, if I wanted you to? said Valencia. In a tiny cavityin her great body she was assembling the materials for a Green Beret. It would sound likea dream,, said Billy. Other peoples dreams arent very interestingusually. I heard you tell Father one time about a German firing squad. She was referringto theexecution of poor old Edgar Derby. Um.You had to bury him? Yes. Did he see you with your shovels before he was shot?Yes. Did he say anything?EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL, AND NOTHING HURTNo. Was he scared? They had him doped up. He was sort of glassy-eyed. And theypinned a target to him? A piece of paper, said Billy. He got out of bed, said, Excuse me, went to thedarkness of the bathroom to take a leak. He groped for the light, realized as he felt therough wall that he had traveled back to 1944, to the prison hospital again.The candle in the hospital had gone out. Poor old Edgar Derby had fallen asleep on thecot next to Billys. Billy was out of bed, groping along a wall, trying to find a way outbecause he had to take a leak so badly.
48. He suddenly found a door, which opened, let him reel out into the prison night. Billy wasloony with time-travel and morphine. He delivered himself to a barbed-wire fence whichsnagged him in a dozen places. Billy tried to back away from it but the barbs wouldnt letgo. So Billy did a silly little dance with the fence, taking a step this way, then that way,then returning to the beginning again.A Russian, himself out in the night to take a leak, saw Billy dancing-from the other sideof the fence. He came over to the curious scarecrow, tried to talk with it gently, asked itwhat country it was from. The scarecrow paid no attention, went on dancing. Sothe Russian undid the snags one b y one, and the scarecrow danced off into the nightagain without a word of thanks.The Russian waved to him, and called after him in Russian, Good-bye.Billy took his pecker out, there in the prison night, and peed and peed on the ground.Then he put it away again, more or less, and contemplated a new problem: Where had hecome from, and where should he go now?Somewhere in the night there were cries of grief. With nothing better to do, Billy shuffledin their direction. He wondered what tragedy so many had found to lament out of doors.Billy was approaching, without knowing it, the back of the latrine. It consisted of a one-rail fence with twelve buckets underneath it. The fence was sheltered on three sides by ascreen of scrap lumber and flattened tin cans. The open side faced the black tarpaper wallof the shed where the feast had, taken place.Billy moved along the screen and reached a point where he could see a message freshlypainted on the tarpaper wall. The words were written with the same pink paint which hadbrightened the set for Cinderella. Billys perceptions were so unreliable that he saw thewords as hanging in air, painted on a transparent curtain, perhaps. And there were lovelysilver dots on the curtain, too. These were really nailheads holding the tarpaper to theshed. Billy could not imagine how the curtain was supported in nothingness, and hesupposed that the magic curtain and the theatrical grief were part of some religiousceremony he knew nothing about.Here is what the message said:PLEASE LEAVE THIS LATRINE AS TIDY AS YOU FOUND IT!Billy looked inside the latrine. The wailing was coming from in there. The place wascrammed with Americans who had taken their pants down. The welcome feast had madethem as sick as volcanoes. The buckets were full or had been kicked over.An American near Billy wailed that he had excreted everything but his brains. Momentslater he said, There they go, there they go. He meant his brains.That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book.Billy reeled away from his vision of Hell. He passed three Englishmen who werewatching the excrement festival from a distance. They were catatonic with disgust.Button your pants! said one as Billy went by. So Billy buttoned his pants. He came tothe door of the little hospital by accident. He went through the door,, and found himselfhoneymooning again, going from the bathroom back to bed with his bride on Cape Ann.I missed you said Valencia. I missed you, said Billy Pilgrim.Billy and Valencia went to sleep nestled like spoons, and Billy traveled in time back tothe train ride he had taken in 194 4 from maneuvers in South Carolina to his fathersfuneral in Ilium. He hadnt seen Europe or combat yet. This was still in the days of steamlocomotives.
49. Billy had to change trains a lot. All the trains were slow. The coaches stunk of coalsmoke and rationed tobacco and rationed booze and the farts of people eating wartimefood. The upholstery of the iron seats was bristly, and Billy couldnt sleep much. He gotto sleep soundly when he was only three hours from Ilium, with his legs splayed towardthe entrance of the busy dining car.The porter woke him up when the train reached Ilium. Billy staggered off with his duffelbag, and then he stood on the station platform next to the porter, trying to wake up.Have a good nap, did you? said the porter. Yes, said Billy. Man, said the porter, yousure had a hard-on.At three in the morning on Bills morphine night in prison, a new patient was carried intothe hospital by two lusty Englishmen. He was tiny. He was Paul Lazzaro, the polka-dotted car thief from Cicero, Illinois. He had been caught stealing cigarettes from underthe pillow of an Englishman. The Englishman, half asleep, had broken Lazzaros rightarm and knocked him unconscious.The Englishman who had done this was helping to carry Lazzaro in now. He had fieryred hair and no eyebrows. He had been Cinderellas Blue Fairy Godmother in the play.Now he supported his half of Lazzaro with one hand while he closed the door behindhimself with the other. Doesnt weigh as much as a chicken, he said.The Englishman with Lazzaros feet was the colonel who had given Billy his knock-outshot.The Blue Fairy Godmother was embarrassed, and angry, too. If Id known I was fightinga chicken, he said, I wouldnt have fought so hard.Um.The Blue Fairy Godmother spoke frankly about how disgusting all the Americans were.Weak, smelly, self-pitying-a pack of sniveling, dirty, thieving bastards, he said. Theyreworse than the bleeding Russians.Do seem a scruffy lot, the colonel agreed.A German major came in now. He considered the Englishmen as close friends. He visitedthem nearly every day, played games with them, lectured to them on German history,played their piano, gave them lessons in conversational German. He told them often that,if it werent for their civilized company, he would go mad. His English was splendid.He was apologetic about the Englishmens having to put up with the American enlistedmen. He promised them that they would not be inconvenienced for more than a day ortwo, that the Americans would soon be shipped to Dresden as contract labor. He had amonograph with him, published by the German Association of Prison Officials. It was areport on the behavior in Germany of American enlisted men as prisoners of war. It waswritten by a former American who had risen high in the German Ministry of Propaganda.His name was Howard W. Campbell, Jr. He would later hang himself while awaiting trialas a war criminal.So it goes.While the British colonel set Lazzaros broken arm and mixed plaster for the cast, theGerman major translated out loud passages from Howard W. Campbell, Jr.s monograph.Campbell had been a fairly well-known playwright at one time. His opening line was thisone:America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poorAmericans are urged to hate themselves To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard,
50. It aint no disgrace to be poor, but might as well be. It is in fact a crime for an Americanto be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folktraditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore moreestimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor.They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinkingestablishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on itswall asking this cruel question: If youre so smart, why aint You rich? There will alsobe an American flag no larger than a childs hand-glued to a lollipop stick and, flyingfrom the cash register.The author of the monograph, a native of Schenectady, New York, was said by some tohave had the highest I.Q. of all the war criminals who were made to face a death byhanging. So it goes.Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviouslyuntrue, the monograph went on. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy forany American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is tocome by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blamethemselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who havehad to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say,Napoleonic times.Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing withoutprecedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they donot love themselves. Once this is understood the disagreeable behavior of Americanenlisted men in German prisons ceases to be a mystery.Howard W. Cambell, Jr., now discussed the uniform of the American enlisted in theSecond World War: Every other army in history, prosperous or not, has attempted toclothe even its lowliest soldiers so as to make them impressive to themselves and othersas stylish experts in drinking and copulation and looting and sudden death. The AmericanArmy, however, sends its enlisted men out to fight and die in a modified business suitquite evidently made for another man, a sterilized but unpressed gift from a nose-holdingcharity which passes out clothing to drunks in the slums.When a dashingly-clad officer addresses such a frumpishly dressed bum, he scolds him,as an officer in an army must. But the officers contempt is not, as in other armies,avuncular theatricality. It is a genuine expression of hatred for the poor, who have no oneto blame for their misery but themselves.A prison administrator dealing with captured American enlisted men for the first timeshould be warned: Expect no brotherly love, even between brothers. There will be nocohesion between the individuals. Each will be a sulky child who often wishes he weredeadCampbell told what the German experience with captured American enlisted men hadbeen. They were known everywhere to be the most self-pitying, least fraternal and dirtiestof all prisoners of war, said Campbell. They were incapable of concerted action on theirown behalf. They despised any leader from among their own number, refused to followor even listen to him, on the grounds that he was no better than they were, that he shouldstop putting on airs.And so on. Billy Pilgrim went to sleep, woke up as a widower in his empty home inIlium. His daughter Barbara was reproaching him for writing ridiculous letters to the
51. newspapers.Did you hear what I said? Barbara inquired. It was 1968 again. Of course. He had beendozing. If youre going to act like a child, maybe well just have to treat you like a child.That isnt what happens next, said Billy. Well see what happens next. Big Barbara nowembraced herself. Its awfully cold inhere. Is the heat on? The heat? The furnace-the thing in the basement, the thing thatmakes hot air that comes out ofthese registers. I dont think its working. Maybe not. Arent you cold? I hadnt noticed.Oh my God, you are a child. If we leave you alone here, youll freeze to death, youllstarve to death. And so on. It was very exciting for her, taking his dignity away in thename of love.Barbara called the oil-burner man, and she made Billy go to bed, made him promise tostay under the electric blanket until the heat came on. She set the control of the blanket atthe highest notch, which soon made Billys bed hot enough to bake bread in.When Barbara left, slamming the door behind her, Billy traveled in time to the zoo onTralfamadore again. A mate has just been brought to him from Earth. She was MontanaWildhack, a motion picture star.Montana was under heavy sedation. Tralfamadorians wearing gas masks brought her in,put her on Billys yellow lounge chair; withdrew through his airlock. The vast crowdoutside was delighted. All attendance records for the zoo were broken. Everybody on theplanet wanted to see the Earthlings mate.Montana was naked, and so was Billy, of course. He had a tremendous wang,incidentally. You never know wholl get one.Now she fluttered her eyelids. Her lashes were like buggy whips. Where am I? she said.Everything is all right, said Billy gently. Please dont be afraid.Montana had been unconscious during her trip from Earth. The Tralfamadorians hadnttalked to her, hadnt shown themselves to her. The last thing she remembered wassunning herself by a swimming pool in Palm Springs, California. Montana was onlytwenty years old. Around her neck was a silver chain with a heart-shaped locket hangingfrom it-between her breasts.Now she turned her head to see the myriads of Tralfamadorians outside the dome. Theywere applauding her by opening and closing their little green hands quickly.Montana screamed and screamed.All the little green hands closed fight, because Montanas terror was so unpleasant to see.The head zoo keeper ordered a crane operator, who was standing by, to drop a navy bluecanopy over the dome, thus simulating Earthling night inside. Real night came to the zoofor only one Earthling hour out of every sixty-two.Billy switched on a floor lamp. The light from the single source threw the baroquedetailing of Montanas body into sharp relief. Billy was reminded of fantastic architecturein Dresden, before it was bombed.In time, Montana came to love and trust Billy Pilgrim. He did not touch her until shemade it clear that she wanted him to. After she had been on Tralfamadore for what wouldhave been an Earthling week, she asked him shyly if he wouldnt sleep with her. Whichhe did. It was heavenly.And Billy traveled in time from that delightful bed to a bed in 1968. It was his bed inIlium, and the electric blanket was turned up high. He was drenched in sweat,
52. remembered groggily that his daughter had put him to bed, had told him to stay thereuntil the oil burner was repaired.Somebody was knocking on his bedroom door. Yes? said Billy. Oil-burner man. Yes?It’s running good now. Heats coming up. Good. Mouse ate through a wire from thethermostat Ill be darned.Billy sniffed. His hot bed smelled like a mushroom cellar. He had had a wet dream aboutMontana Wildhack.On the morning after that wet dream, Billy decided to go back to work in his office in theshopping plaza. Business was booming as usual. His assistants were keeping up with itnicely. They were startled to see him. They had been told by his daughter that he mightnever practice again.But Billy went into his examining room briskly, asked that the first patient be sent in. Sothey sent him one-a twelve-year old boy who was accompanied by his-widowedmother. They were strangers, new in town. Billy asked them a little about themselves,learned that the boys father had been killed in Vietnam-in the famous five-day battle forHill 875 near Dakto. So it goes.While he examined the boys eyes, Billy told him matter-of-factly about his adventureson Tralfamadore, assured the fatherless boy that his father was very much alive still inmoments the boy would see again and again.Isnt that comforting? Billy asked.And somewhere in there, the boys mother went out and told the receptionist that Billywas evidently going crazy. Billy was taken home. His daughter asked him again, Father,Father, Father-what are we going to do with you?SixListen: Billy Pilgrim says he went to Dresden Germany, on the day after his morphinenight inthe British compound in the center of the extermination camp for Russian prisoners ofwar. Billy woke up at dawn on that day in January. There were no windows in the littlehospital, and the ghostly candles had gone out. So the only light came from pin-prickholes in the walls, and from a sketchy rectangle that outlined the imperfectly fitted door.Little Paul Lazzaro, with a broken arm, snored on one bed. Edgar Derby, the high schoolteacher who would eventually he shot, snored on another.Billy sat up in bed. He had no idea what year it was or what planet he was on. Whateverthe planets name was, it was cold. But it wasnt the cold that had awakened Billy. It wasanimal magnetism which was making him shiver and itch. It gave him profound aches inhis musculature, as though he had been exercising hard.The animal magnetism was coming from behind him. If Billy had had to guess as to thesource, he would have said that there was a vampire bat hanging upside down on the wallbehind him.Billy moved down toward the foot of his cot before turning to look at whatever it was. Hedidnt want the animal to drop into his face and maybe claw his eyes out or bite off hisbig nose. Then he turned. The source of the magnetism really did resemble a bat. It wasBillys impresarios coat with the fur collar. It was hanging from a nail.Billy now backed toward it again, looking at it over his shoulder, feeling the magnetismincrease. Then he faced it, kneeling on his cot, dared to touch it here and there. He wasseeking the exact source of the radiations.
53. He found two small sources, two lumps an inch apart and hidden in the lining. One wasshaped like a pea. The other was shaped like a tiny horseshoe. Billy received a messagecarried by the radiations. He was told not to find out what the lumps were. He wasadvised to be content with knowing that they could work miracles for him, provided hedid not insist on learning their nature. That was all right with Billy Pilgrim. He wasgrateful. He was glad.Billy dozed, awakened in the prison hospital again. The sun was high. Outside wereGolgotha sounds of strong men digging holes for upright timbers in hard, hard ground.Englishmen were building themselves a new latrine. They had abandoned their old latrineto the American d their theater the place where the feast had been held, too.Six Englishmen staggered through a hospital with a pool table on which severalmattresses were piled. They were transferring it to living quarters attached to the hospital.They were followed by an Englishman dragging his mattress and carrying a dartboard.The man with the dartboard was the Blue Fairy Godmother who had injured little PaulLazzaro. He stopped by Lazzaros bed, asked Lazzaro how he was.Lazzaro told him he was going to have him killed after the war. Oh? You made a bigmistake, said Lazzaro. Anybody touches me, he better kill me, or Imgonna have him killed. The Blue Fairy Godmother knew something about killing. Hegave Lazzaro a carefulsmile. There is still time for me to kill you, he said, if you really persuade me that itsthe sensible thing to do.Why dont you go fuck yourself? Dont think I havent tried, the Blue Fairy Godmotheranswered.The Blue Fairy Godmother left, amused and patronizing. When he was gone, Lazzaropromised Billy and poor old Edgar Derby that he was going to have revenge, and thatrevenge was sweet.Its the sweetest thing there is, said Lazzaro. People fuck with me, he said, and JesusChrist are they ever fucking sorry. I laugh like hell. I dont care if its a guy or a dame. Ifthe President of the United States fucked around with me, Id fix him good. You shouldhave seen what I did to a dog one time.A dog? said Billy.Son of a bitch bit me. So 1 got me some steak, and I got me the spring out of a clock. Icut that spring up in little pieces. I put points on the ends of the pieces. They were sharpas razor blades. I stuck em into the steak-way inside. And I went past where they had thedog tied up. He wanted to bite me again. I said to him, Come on., doggie-lets be friends.Lets not be enemies any more. Im not mad." He believed me.He did?I threw him the steak. He swallowed it down in one big gulp. I waited around for tenminutes. Now Lazzaros eyes twinkled. Blood started coming out of his mouth. Hestarted crying, and he rolled on the ground, as though the knives were on the outside ofhim instead of on the inside of him. Then he tried to bite out his own insides. I laughed,and I said to him, "You got the right idea now. Tear your own guts out, boy. Thats me inthere with all those knives." So it goes.Anybody ever asks you what the sweetest thing in life is- said Lazzaro, its revenge.When Dresden was destroyed later on, incidentally, Lazzaro did not exult. He didnt haveanything against the Germans, he said. Also, he said he liked to take his enemies one at a
54. time. He was proud of never having hurt an innocent bystander. Nobody ever got it fromLazzaro, he said, who didnt have it coming.Poor old Edgar Derby, the high school teacher, got into the conversation now. He askedLazzaro if he planned to feed the Blue Fairy Godmother clock springs and steak.Shit, said Lazzaro. Hes a pretty big man, said Derby, who, of course, was a pretty bigman himself. Size dont mean a thing. Youre going to shoot him? Im gonna have himshot, said Lazzaro. Hell get home after the war. Hell be a bighero. The damesll be climbing all over him. Hell settle down. A couple of yearsll go by.And then one day therell be a knock on his door. Hell answer the door, and therell be astranger out there. The strangerll ask him if hes so-and-so. When he says he is, thestrangerll say, "Paul Lazzaro sent me." And hell pull out a gun and shoot his pecker off.The strangerll let him think a couple of seconds about who Paul Lazzaro is and whatlifes gonna be like without a pecker. Then hell shoot him once in the guts and walkaway. So it goes.Lazzaro said that he could have anybody in the world killed for a thousand dollars plustraveling expenses. He had a list in his head, he said.Derby asked him who all was on the list, and Lazzaro said, Just make fucking sure youdont get on it. just dont cross me, thats all. There was a silence, and then he added, Anddont cross my friends.You have friends? Derby wanted to know. In the war? said Lazzaro. Yeah-I had afriend in the war. Hes dead. So it goes. Thats too bad. Lazzaros eyes were twinklingagain. Yeah. He was my buddy on the boxcar. Hisname was Roland Weary. He died in my arms. Now he pointed to Billy with his onemobile hand. He died on account of this silly cocksucker here. So I promised him Idhave this silly cocksucker shot after the war.Lazzaro erased with his hand anything Billy Pilgrim might be about to say. Just forgetabout it, kid, he said. Enjoy life while you can. Nothings gonna happen for maybe five,ten, fifteen, twenty years. But lemme give you a piece of advice: Whenever the doorbellrings, have somebody else answer the door.Billy Pilgrim says now that this really is the way he is going to die, too. As a time-traveler, he has seen his own death many times, has described it to a tape recorder. Thetape is locked up with his will and some other valuables in his safe-deposit box at theIlium Merchants National Bank and Trust, he says.I, Billy Pilgrim, the tape begins, will die, have died and always will die on Februarythirteenth, 1976.At the time of his death, he says, he is in Chicago to address a large crowd on the subjectof flying saucers and the true nature of time. His home is still in Ilium. He has had tocross three international boundaries in order to reach Chicago. The United States ofAmerica has been Balkanized, has been divided into twenty petty nations so that it willnever again be a threat to world peace. Chicago has been hydrogen-bombed by AngryChinamen. So it goes. It is all brand new.Billy is speaking before a capacity audience in a baseball park, which is covered by ageodesic dome. The flag of the country is behind him. It is a Hereford Bull on a field ofgreen. Billy predicts his own death within an hour. He laughed about it, invites the crowdto laugh with him. It is high time I was dead.. he says. Many years ago. he said, acertain man promised to have me killed. He is an old man now, living not far from here.
55. He has read all the publicity associated with my appearance in your fair city. He isinsane. Tonight he will keep his promise.There are protests from the crowd.Billy Pilgrim rebukes them. If you protest, if you think that death is a terrible thing, thenyou have not understood a word Ive said. Now he closes his speech as he closes everyspeech with these words: Farewell, hello, farewell, hello.There are police around him as he leaves the stage. They are there to protect him from thecrush of popularity. No threats on his life have been made since 1945. The police offer tostay with him. They are floridly willing to stand in a circle around him all night, withtheir zap guns drawn.No, no, says Billy serenely. It is time for you to go home to your wives and children,and it is time for me to be dead for a little while-and then live again. At that moment,Billys high forehead is in the cross hairs of a high-powered laser gun. It is aimed at himfrom the darkened press box. In the next moment, Billy Pilgrim is dead. So it goes.So Billy experiences death for a while. It is simply violet light and a hum. There isntanybody else there. Not even Billy Pilgrim is there.Then he swings back into life again, all the way back to an hour after his life wasthreatened by Lazzaro-in 1945. He has been told to get out of his hospital bed and dress,that he is well. He and Lazzaro and poor old Edgar Derby are to join their fellows in thetheater. There they will choose a leader for themselves by secret ballot in a free election.Billy and Lazzaro and poor old Edgar Derby crossed the prison yard to the theater now.Billy was carrying his little coat as though it were a ladys muff. It was wrapped aroundand round his hands. He was the central clown in an unconscious travesty of that famousoil painting, The Spirit of 76.Edgar Derby was writing letters home in his head, telling his Wife that he was alive andwell, that she shouldnt worry, that the war was. nearly over, that he would soon be home.Lazzaro was talking to himself about people he was going to have killed after the war,and rackets he was going to work, and women he was going to make fuck Mm, whetherthey wanted to or not. If he had been a dog in a city, a policeman would have shot himand sent his head to a laboratory, to see if he had rabies. So it goes.As they neared the theater, they came upon an Englishman who was hacking a groove inthe Earth with the heel of his boot. He was marking the boundary between the Americanand English sections of the compound. Billy and Lazzaro and Derby didnt have to askwhat the line meant. It was a familiar symbol from childhood.The theater was paved with American bodies that nestled like spoons. Most of theAmericans were in stupors or asleep. Their guts were fluttering, dry.Close the fucking door, somebody said to Billy. Were you born Im a barn?Billy closed it., took a hand from his muff, touched a stove. It was as cold as ice. Thestage was still set for Cinderella. Azure curtains hung from the arches which wereshocking pink. There were golden thrones and the dummy clock, whose hands were set atmidnight. Cinderellas slippers, which were a mans boots painted silver, were capsizedside by side under a golden throne.Billy and poor old Edgar Derby and Lazzaro had been in the hospital when the Britishpassed out blankets and mattresses, so they had none. They had to improvise. The onlyspace open to them was up on the stage, and they went up there, pulled the azure curtainsdown, made nests.
56. Billy, curled in his azure nest., found himself staring at Cinderellas silver boots under athrone. And then he remembered that his shoes were ruined, that he needed boots. Hehated to get out of his nest., but he forced himself to do it. He crawled to the boots on allfours, sat, tried them on.The boots fit perfectly. Billy Pilgrim was Cinderella, and Cinderella was Billy Pilgrim.Somewhere in there was a lecture on personal hygiene by the head Englishman., and thena free election. At least half the Americans went on snoozing through it all. TheEnglishman got up on the stage, and he rapped on the arm of a throne with a swaggerstick, called, Lads, lads, lad I have your attention, please? And so on.What the Englishman. said about survival was this If you stop taking pride m yourappearance, you will very soon die. He said that he had seen several men die in thefollowing way: They ceased to stand up straight, then ceased to shave or wash, thenceased to get out of bed, then ceased to talk, then died. There is this much to be said forit: it is evidently a very easy and painless way to go. So it goes.The Englishman said that he, when captured, had made and kept the following vows tohimself: To brush his teeth twice a day, to shave once a day, to wash his face and handsbefore every meal and after going to the latrine, to polish his shoes once a day, toexercise for at least half an hour each morning and then move his bowels, and to look intoa mirror frequently, frankly evaluating his appearance, particularly with respect toposture.Billy Pilgrim heard all this while lying in his nest. He looked not at the Englishmans facebut his ankles.I envy you lads, said the Englishman. Somebody laughed. Billy wondered what the jokewas. You lads are leaving this afternoon for Dresden-a beautiful city., Im told. Youwontbe cooped up like us. Youll be out where the life is, and the food is certain to be moreplentiful than here. If I may inject a personal note: It has been five years now since I haveseen a tree or flower or woman or child-or a dog or a cat or a place of entertainment, or ahuman being doing useful work of any kind.You neednt worry about bombs, by the way. Dresden is an open city. It is undefended,and contains no war industries or troop concentrations of any importance.Somewhere in there, old Edgar Derby was elected head American. The Englishmancalled for nominations from the floor, and there werent any. So he nominated Derby,praising him for his maturity and long experience in dealing with people. There were nofurther nominations, so the nominations were closed.All in favor?Two or three people said, Aye.Then poor old Derby made a speech. He thanked the Englishman for his good advice,said he meant to follow it exactly. He said he was sure that all the other Americans woulddo the mm. He said that his primary responsibility now was to make damn well sure thateverybody got home safely.Go take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut, murmured Paul Lazzaro in his azure nest.Go take a flying fuck at the moon.The temperature climbed startlingly that day. The noontime was balmy. The Germansbrought soup and bread in two-wheeled carts which were pulled by Russians. TheEnglishmen sent over real coffee and sugar and marmalade and cigarettes and cigars, and
57. the doors of the theater were left open, so the warmth could get in.The Americans began to feel much better. They were able to hold their food. And then itwas time to go to Dresden. The Americans marched fairly stylishly out of the Britishcompound. Billy Pilgrim again led the parade. He had silver boots now, and a muff, and apiece of azure curtain which he wore like a toga. Billy still had a beard. So did poor oldEdgar Derby, who was beside him. Derby was imagining letters to home, his lipsworking tremulously.Dear Margaret-We are leaving for Dresden today. Don t worry. It will never be bombed.It is an open city. There was an election at noon, and guess what? And so on.They came to the prison railroad yard again. They had arrived on only two cars. Theywould depart far more comfortably on four. They saw the dead hobo again. He wasfrozen stiff in the weeds beside the track. He was in a fetal position, trying even in deathto nestle like a spoon with others. There were no others now. He was nestling within thinair and cinders. Somebody had taken his boots. His bare feet were blue and ivory. It wasall right, somehow, his being dead. So it goes.The trip to Dresden was a lark. It took only two hours. Shriveled little bellies were full.Sunlight and cold air came in through the ventilators. There were plenty of smokes fromthe Englishmen.The Americans arrived in Dresden at five in the afternoon. The boxcar doors wereopened, and the doorways framed the loveliest city that most of the Americans had everseen. The skyline was intricate and voluptuous and enchanted and absurd. It looked like aSunday school picture of Heaven to Billy Pilgrim.Somebody behind him in the boxcar said, Oz. That was I. That was me. The only othercity Id ever seen was Indianapolis, Indiana.Every other big city in Germany had been bombed and burned ferociously. Dresden hadnot suffered so much as a cracked windowpane. Sirens went off every day, screamed likehell, and people went down into cellars and listened to radios there. The planes werealways bound for someplace else-Leipzig, Chemnitz, Plauen, places like that. So it goes.Steam radiators still whistled cheerily in Dresden. Street-cars clanged. Telephones rangand were answered. Lights went on and off when switches were clicked. There weretheaters and restaurants. There was a zoo. The principal enterprises of the city weremedicine and food-processing and the making of cigarettes.People were going home from work now in the late afternoon. They were tired.Eight Dresdeners crossed the steel spaghetti of the railroad yard. They were wearing newuniforms. They had been sworn into the army the day before. They were boys and menpast middle age, and two veterans who had been shot to pieces in Russia. Theirassignment was to guard one hundred American prisoners of war, who would work ascontract labor. A grandfather and his grandson were in the squad. The grandfather was anarchitect.The eight were grim as they approached the boxcars containing their wards. They knewwhat sick and foolish soldiers they themselves appeared to be. One of them actually hadan artificial leg, and carried not only a loaded rifle but a cane. Still they were expected toearn obedience and respect from tall cocky, murderous American infantrymen who hadjust come from all the killing of the front.And then they saw bearded Billy Pilgrim in his blue toga and silver shoes, with his handsin a muff. He looked at least sixty years old. Next to Billy was little Paul Lazzaro with a
58. broken arm. He was fizzing with rabies. Next to Lazzaro was the poor old high schoolteacher, Edgar Derby, mournfully pregnant with patriotism and middle age and imaginarywisdom. And so on.The eight ridiculous Dresdeners ascertained that these hundred ridiculous creatures reallywere American fighting men fresh from the front. They smiled, and then they laughed.Their terror evaporated. There was nothing to be afraid of. Here were more crippledhuman beings, more fools like themselves. Here was light opera.So out of the gate of the railroad yard and into the streets of Dresden marched the lightopera. Billy Pilgrim was the star. He led the parade. Thousands of people were on thesidewalks, going home from work. They were watery and putty-colored, having eatenmostly potatoes during the past two years. They had expected no blessings beyond themildness of the day. Suddenly-here was fun.Billy did not meet many of the eyes that found him so entertaining. He was enchanted bythe architecture of the city. Merry amoretti wove garlands above windows. Roguish faunsand naked nymphs peeked down at Billy from festooned cornices. Stone monkeys friskedamong scrolls and seashells and bamboo.Billy, with his memories of the future, knew that the city would be smashed tosmithereens and then burned-in about thirty more days. He knew, too, that most of thepeople watching him would soon be dead. So it goes.And Billy worked his hands in his muff as he marched. His fingertips, working there inthe hot darkness of the muff, wanted to know what the two lumps in the lining of the littleimpresarios coat were. The fingertips got inside the lining. They palpated the lumps, thepea-shaped thing and the horseshoe-shaped thing. The parade had to halt by a busycorner. The traffic light was red.There at the comer, in the front rank of pedestrians, was a surgeon who had beenoperating all day. He was a civilian, but his posture was military. He had served in twoworld wars. The sight of Billy offended him, especially after he learned from the guardsthat Billy was an American. It seemed to Wm that Billy was in abominable taste,supposed that Billy had gone to a lot of silly trouble to costume himself just so.The surgeon spoke English, and he said to Billy, I take it you find war a very comicalthing.Billy looked at him vaguely. Billy had lost track momentarily of where he was or how hehad gotten there. He had no idea that people thought he was clowning. It was Fate, ofcourse, which had costumed him-Fate, and a feeble will to survive.Did you expect us to laugh? the surgeon asked him.The surgeon was demanding some sort of satisfaction. Billy was mystified. Billy wantedto be friendly, to help, if he could, but his resources were meager. His fingers now heldthe two objects from the lining of the coat. Billy decided to show the surgeon what theywere.You thought we would enjoy being mocked? the surgeon said. And do you feel proud torepresent America as you do? Billy withdrew a hand from his muff, held it under thesurgeons nose. On his palm rested a two-carat diamond and a partial denture. Thedenture was an obscene little artifact-silver and pearl and tangerine. Billy smiled.The parade pranced, staggered and reeled to the gate of the Dresden slaughterhouse, andthen it went inside. The slaughterhouse wasnt a busy place any more. Almost all thehooved animals in Germany had been killed and eaten and excreted by human beings,
59. mostly soldiers. So it goes.The Americans were taken to the fifth building inside the gate. It was a one-story cement-block cube with sliding doors in front and back. It had been built as a shelter for pigsabout to be butchered. Now it was going to serve as a home away from home for onehundred American prisoners of war. There were bunks in there, and two potbellied stovesand a water tap. Behind it was a latrine, which was a one-rail fence with buckets under it.There was a big number over the door of the building. The number was five. Before theAmericans could go inside, their only English-speaking guard told them to memorizetheir simple address, in case they got lost in the big city. Their address was this:Schlachthöf-funf. Schlachthöf meant slaughterhouse. Funf was good old five.SevenBilly Pilgrim got onto a chartered airplane in Ilium twenty-five years after that. He knewhe was going to crash, but he didnt want to make a fool of himself by saying so. It wassupposed to carry Billy and twenty-eight other optometrists to a convention in Montreal.His wife, Valencia, was outside, and his father-in-law, Lionel Merble, was strapped to theseat beside him.Lionel Merble was a machine. Tralfamadorians, of course, say that every creature andplant in the Universe is a machine. It amuses them that so many Earthlings are offendedby the idea of being machines.Outside the plane, the machine named Valencia Merble Pilgrim was eating a Peter PaulMound Bar and waving bye-bye.The plane took off without incident. The moment was structured that way. There was abarbershop quartet on board. They were optometrists, too. They called themselves TheFebs, which was an acronym for Four-eyed Bastards.When the plane was safely aloft, the machine that was Bills father-in-law asked thequartet to sing his favorite song. They knew what song he meant, and they sang it, and itwent like this:In my prison cell I sit, With my britches full of shit, And my balls are bouncing gently onthe floor. And I see the bloody snag When she bit me in the bag. Oh, Ill never fuck aPolack any more.Billys father-in-law laughed and laughed at that, and he begged the quartet to sing theother Polish song he liked so much. So they sang a song from the Pennsylvania coalmines that began:Me, and Mike, ve vork in mine. Holy shit, ve have good time. Vunce a veek ve get ourpay. Holy shit, no vork next day.Speaking of people from Poland: Billy- Pilgrim accidentally saw a Pole hanged in public,about three days after Billy got to Dresden. Billy just happened to be walking to workwith some others shortly after sunrise, and they came to a gallows and a small crowd infront of a soccer stadium. The Pole was a farm laborer who was being hanged for havinghad sexual intercourse with a German woman. So it goes.Billy, knowing the plane was going to crash pretty soon, closed his eyes, traveled in timeback to 1944. He was back in the forest in Luxembourg again-with the Three Musketeers.Roland Weary was shaking him, bonking his head against a tree. You guys go on withoutme, said Billy Pilgrim.The barbershop quartet on the airplane was singing Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nelly,when the plane smacked into the top of Sugarbush Mountain in Vermont. Everybody was
60. killed but Billy and the copilot. So it goes.The people who first got to the crash scene were young Austrian ski instructors from thefamous ski resort below. They spoke to each other in German as they went from body tobody. They wore black wind masks with two holes for their eyes and a red topknot. Theylooked like golliwogs, like white people pretending to be black for the laughs they couldget.Billy had a fractured skull, but he was still conscious. He didnt know where he was. Hislips were working, and one of the golliwogs put his ear close to them to hear what mightbe his dying words.Billy thought the golliwog had something to do with the Second World War, and hewhispered to him his address: Schlachthöf-funf.Billy was brought down Sugarbush Mountain on a toboggan. The golliwogs controlled itwith ropes and yodeled melodiously for right-of-way. Near the bottom, the trail swoopedaround the pylons of a chair lift. Billy looked up at all the young people in bright elasticclothing and enormous boots and goggles, bombed out of their skulls with snow,swinging through the sky in yellow chairs. He supposed that they were part of anamazing new phase of the Second World War. It was all right with him. Everything waspretty much all right with Billy.He was taken to a small private hospital. A famous brain surgeon came up from Bostonand operated on him for three hours. Billy was unconscious for two days after that, andhe dreamed millions of things, some of them true. The true things were time-travel.One of the true things was his first evening in the slaughterhouse. He and poor old EdgarDerby were pushing an empty two-wheeled cart down a dirt lane between empty pens foranimals. They were going to a communal kitchen for supper for all. They were guardedby a sixteen-year-old German named Werner Gluck. The axles of the cart were greasedwith the fat of dead animals. So it goes.The sun had just gone down, and its afterglow was backlighting the city, which formedlow cliffs around the bucolic void to the idle stockyards. The city was blacked outbecause bombers might come, so Billy didnt get to see Dresden do one of the mostcheerful things a city is capable of doing when the sun goes down, which is to wink itslights on one by one.There was a broad river to reflect those lights, which would have made their nighttimewinkings very pretty indeed. It was the Elbe.Werner Gluck, the young guard, was a Dresden boy. He had never been in theslaughterhouse before, so he wasnt sure where the kitchen was. He was tall and weaklike Billy, might have been a younger brother of his. They were, in fact, distant cousins,something they never found out. Gluck was armed with an incredibly heavy musket, asingle-shot museum piece with an octagonal barrel and a smooth bore. He had fixed hisbayonet. It was like a long knitting needle. It had no blood gutters.Gluck led the way to a building that he thought might contain the kitchen, and he openedthe sliding doors in its side. There wasnt a kitchen in there, though. There was a dressingroom adjacent to a communal shower, and there was a lot of steam. In the steam wereabout thirty teen-age girls with no clothes on. They were German refugees from Breslau,which had been tremendously bombed. They had just arrived in Dresden, too. Dresdenwas jammed with refugees.There those girls were with all their private parts bare, for anybody to see. And there in
61. the doorway were Gluck and Derby and Pilgrim-the childish soldier and the poor old highschool teacher and the clown in his toga and silver shoes-staring. The girls screamed.They covered themselves with their hands and turned their backs and so on, and madethemselves utterly beautiful.Werner Gluck, who had never seen a naked woman before, closed the door. Bill hadnever seen one, either. It was nothing new to Derby.When the three fools found the communal kitchen, whose main job was to make lunchfor workers in the slaughterhouse, everybody had gone home but one woman who hadbeen waiting for them impatiently. She was a war widow. So it goes. She had her hat andcoat on. She wanted to go home, too, even though there wasnt anybody there. Her whitegloves were laid out side by side on the zinc counter top.She had two big cans of soup for the Americans. It was simmering over low fires on thegas range. She had stacks of loaves of black bread, too.She asked Gluck if he wasnt awfully young to be in the army. He admitted that he was.She asked Edgar Derby if he wasnt awfully old to be in the army. He said he was.She asked Billy Pilgrim what he was supposed to be. Billy said he didnt know. He wasjust trying to keep warm.All the real soldiers are dead, she said. It was true. So it goes.Another true thing that Billy saw while he was unconscious in Vermont was the workthat he and the others had to do in Dresden during the month before the city wasdestroyed. They washed windows and swept floors and cleaned lavatories and put jarsinto boxes and sealed cardboard boxes in a factory that made malt syrup. The syrup wasenriched with vitamins and minerals. The syrup was for pregnant women.The syrup tasted like thin honey laced with hickory smoke, and everybody who workedin the factory secretly spooned it all day long. They werent pregnant, but they neededvitamins and minerals, too. Billy didnt spoon syrup on his first day at work, but lots ofother Americans did.Billy spooned it on his second day. There were spoons hidden all over the factory, onrafters, in drawers, behind radiators, and so on. They had been hidden in haste by personswho had been spooning syrup, who had heard somebody else coming. Spooning was acrime.On his second day, Billy was cleaning behind a radiator and he found a spoon. To hisback was a vat of syrup that was cooling. The only other person who could see Billy andhis spoon was poor old Edgar Derby, who was washing a window outside. The spoonwas a tablespoon. Billy thrust it into the vat, turned it around and around, making a gooeylollipop. He thrust it into his mouth.A moment went by, and then every cell in Billys body shook him with ravenousgratitude and applause.There were diffident raps at the factory window. Derby was out there, having seen all. Hewanted some syrup, too.So Billy made a lollipop for him. He opened the window. He stuck the lollipop into poorold Derbys gaping mouth. A moment passed, and then Derby burst into tears. Billyclosed the window and hid the sticky spoon. Somebody was coming.EightThe Americans in the slaughterhouse had a very interesting visitor two days beforeDresden was destroyed. He was Howard W. Campbell, Jr., an American who had become
62. a Nazi. Campbell was the one who had written the monograph about the shabby behaviorof American prisoners of war. He wasnt doing more research about prisoners now. Hehad come to the slaughter house to recruit men for a German military unit called TheFree American Corps. Campbell was the inventor and commander of the unit, which wassupposed to fight only on the Russian front.Campbell was an ordinary looking man, but he was extravagantly costumed in a uniformof his own design. He wore a white ten-gallon hat and black cowboy boots decoratedwith swastikas and stars. He was sheathed in a blue body stocking which had yellowstripes running from his armpits to his ankles. His shoulder patch was a silhouette ofAbraham Lincolns profile on a field of pale green. He had a broad armband which wasred, with a blue swastika in a circle of white.He was explaining this armband now in the cement-block hog barn.Billy Pilgrim had a boiling case of heartburn, since he had been spooning malt syrup allday long at work. The heartburn brought tears to his eves, so that his image of Campbellwas distorted by jiggling lenses of salt water.Blue is for the American sky, Campbell was saying. White is for the race that pioneeredthe continent, drained the swamps and cleared the forests and built the roads and bridges.Red is for the blood of American patriots which was shed so gladly in years gone by.Campbells audience was sleepy. It had worked hard at the syrup factory, and then it hadmarched a long way home in the cold. It was skinny and hollow-eyed. Its skins werebeginning to blossom with small sores. So were its mouths and throats and intestines. Themalt syrup it spooned at the factory contained only a few of the vitamins and mineralsevery Earthling needs.Campbell offered the Americans food now, steaks and mashed potatoes and gravy andmince pie, if they would join the Free Corps. Once the Russians are defeated, he wenton, you will be repatriated through Switzerland.There was no response.Youre going to have to fight the Communists sooner or later, said Campbell. "Why notget it over with now?And then it developed that Campbell was not going to go unanswered after all. Poor oldDerby, the doomed high school teacher, lumbered to his feet for what was probably thefinest moment in his life. Mere are almost no characters in this story, and almost nodramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick and so much thelistless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after an, is thatpeople are discouraged from being characters. But old Derby was a character now.His stance was that of a punch-drunk fighter. His head was down, his fists were out front,waiting for information and battle plan. Derby raised his head, called Campbell a snake.He corrected that. He said that snakes couldnt help being snakes, and that Campbell, whocould help being what he was, was something much lower than a snake or a rat-or even ablood-filled tick.Campbell smiled.Derby spoke movingly of the American form of government, with freedom and justiceand opportunities and fair play for all. He said there wasnt a man there who wouldntgladly die for those ideals.He spoke of the brotherhood between the American and the Russian people, and howthose two nations were going to crush the disease of Nazism, which wanted to infect the
63. whole world.The air-raid sirens of Dresden howled mournfully.The Americans and their guards and Campbell took shelter in an echoing meat lockerwhich was hollowed in living rock under the slaughterhouse. There was an iron staircasewith iron doors at the top and bottom.Down in the locker were a few cattle and sheep and pigs, and horses hanging from ironhooks. So it goes. The locker had empty hooks for thousands more. It was naturally cool.There was no refrigeration. There was candlelight. The locker was whitewashed andsmelled of carbolic acid. There were benches along a wall. The Americans went to these,brushing away flakes of whitewash before they sat down.Howard W. Campbell. Jr., remained standing, like the guards. He talked to the guards inexcellent German. He had written many popular German plays and poems in his time,and had married a famous German actress named Resi North. She was dead now, hadbeen killed while entertaining troops in the Crimea. So it goes.Nothing happened that night. It was the next night that about one hundred and thirtythousand people in Dresden would die. So it goes. Billy dozed in the meat locker. Hefound himself engaged again, word for word, gesture for gesture, in the argument withhis daughter with which this tale begun.Father, she said, What are we going to do with you? And so on. You know who I couldjust kill? she asked. Who could you kill? said Billy. That Kilgore Trout.Kilgore Trout was and is a science-fiction writer, of course. Billy has not only readdozens of books by Trout-he has also become a friend of Trout, who is a bitter man.Trout lives in a rented basement in Ilium, about two miles from Billys nice white home.He himself has no idea how many novels he has written-possibly seventy-five of thethings. Not one of them has made money. So Trout keeps body and soul together as acirculation man for the Ilium Gazette, manages newspaper delivery boys, bullies andflatters and cheats little kids.Billy met him for the first time in 1964. Billy drove his Cadillac down a back alley inIlium and he found his way blocked by dozens of boys and their bicycles. A meeting wasin progress. The boys were harangued by a man in a full beard. He was cowardly anddangerous, and obviously very good at his job. Trout was sixty-two years old back then.He was telling the kids to get off their dead butts and get their daily customers tosubscribe to the fucking Sunday edition, too. He said that whoever sold the most Sundaysubscriptions during the next two months would get a free trip for himself and his parentsto s fucking Vineyard for a week, all expenses paid.And so on.One of the newspaper boys was actually a newspaper girl. She was electrified.Trouts paranoid face was terribly familiar to Billy, who had seen it on the jackets of somany books. But., coming upon that face suddenly in a home-town alley, Billy could notguess why the face was familiar. Billy thought maybe he had known this cracked messiahin Dresden somewhere. Trout certainly looked like a prisoner of war.And then the newspaper girl held up her hand. Mr. Trout, she said, if I win, can I takemy sister, too?Hell no, said Kilgore Trout. You think money grows on trees?Trout, incidentally, had written a book about a money tree. It had twenty-dollar bills forleaves. Its flowers were government bonds. Its fruit was diamonds. It attracted human
64. beings who killed each other around the roots and made very good fertilizer.So it goes.Billy Pilgrim parked his Cadillac in the alley, and waited for the meeting to end. Whenthe meeting broke up, there was still one boy Trout had to deal with. The boy wanted toquit because the work was so hard and the hours were so long and the pay was so small.Trout was concerned, because, if the boy really quit, Trout would have to deliver theboys route himself, until he could find another sucker.What are you? Trout asked the boy scornfully. Some kind of gutless wonder?This, too, was the title of a book by Trout, The Gutless Wonder. It was about a robot whohad bad breath, who became popular after his halitosis was cured. But what made thestory remarkable, since it was written in 1932, was that it predicted the widespread use ofburning jellied gasoline on human beings.It was dropped on them from airplanes. Robots did the dropping. They had noconscience, and no circuits which would allow them to imagine what was happening tothe people on the ground.Trouts leading robot looked like a human being, and could talk and dance and so on, andgo out with girls. And nobody held it against him that he dropped jellied gasoline onpeople. But they found his halitosis unforgivable. But then he cleared that up, and he waswelcomed to the human race.Trout lost his argument with the boy who wanted to quit. He told the boy about all themillionaires who had carried newspapers as boys, and the boy replied: Yeah-but I betthey quit after a week, its such a royal screwing.And the boy left his full newspaper bag at Trouts feet, with the customer book on top. Itwas up to Trout to deliver these papers. He didnt have a car. He didnt even have abicycle, and he was scared to death of dogs.Somewhere a big dog barked. As Trout lugubriously slung the bag from his shoulder,Billy Pilgrim approached him. Mr. Trout- Yes? "Are-are you Kilgore Trout?Yes. Trout supposed that Billy had some complaint about the way his newspapers werebeing delivered. He did not think of himself as a writer for the simple reason that theworld had never allowed him to think of himself in this way.The-the writer? said Billy. The what? Billy was certain that he had made a mistake.Theres a writer named Kilgore Trout. There is? Trout looked foolish and dazed. Younever heard of him? Trout shook his head. Nobody-nobody ever did.Billy helped Trout deliver his papers, driving him from house to house in the Cadillac.Billy was the responsible one, finding the houses, checking them off. Trouts mind wasblown. He had never met a fan before, and Billy was such an avid fan.Trout told him that he had never seen a book of his advertised, reviewed, or on sale. Allthese years he said, Ive been opening the window and making love to the world.You must surely have gotten letters, said Billy. Ive felt like writing you letters manytimes.Trout held up a single finger. One. Was it enthusiastic? It was insane. The writer said Ishould be President of the World. It turned out that the person who had written this letterwas Elliot Rosewater, Billysfriend in the veterans hospital near Lake Placid. Billy told Trout about Rosewater. MyGod-I thought he was about fourteen years old, said Trout. "A full grown man-a captainin the war. The writes like a fourteen-year-old, said Kilgore Trout.
65. Billy invited Trout to his eighteenth wedding anniversary which was only two dayshence. Now the party was in progress.Trout was in Billys dining room, gobbling canapés. He was talking with a mouthful ofPhiladelphia cream cheese and salmon roe to an optometrists wife. Everybody at theparty was associated with optometry in some way, except Trout. And he alone waswithout glasses. He was making a great hit. Everybody was ed to have a real author at theparty, even though they had never read his books.Trout was talking to a Maggie White, who had given up being a dental assistant tobecome a homemaker for an optometrist. She was very pretty. The last book she had readwas Ivanhoe.Billy Pilgrim stood nearby, listening. He was palpating something in his pocket. It was apresent he was about to give his Wife, a white satin box containing a star sapphirecocktail ring. The ring was worth eight hundred dollars.The adulation that Trout was receiving, mindless and illiterate as it was, affected Troutlike marijuana. He was happy and loud and impudent.Im afraid I dont read as much as I ought to, said Maggie.Were all afraid of something, Trout replied. Im afraid of cancer and rats and Dobermanpinschers.I should know, but I dont, so I have to ask, said Maggie, whats the most famous thingyou ever wrote?It was about a funeral for a great French chef. That sounds interesting. All the greatchefs in the world are there. Its a beautiful ceremony. Trout was makingthis up as he went along. Just before the casket is closed, the mourners sprinkle parsleyand paprika on the deceased. So it goes.Did that really happen? said Maggie White. She was a dull person, but a sensationalinvitation to make babies. Men looked at her and wanted to fill her up with babies rightaway. She hadnt had even one baby yet. She used birth control.Of course it happened, Trout told her. If I wrote something that hadnt really happened,and I tried to sell it, I could go to jail. Thats fraud!Maggie believed him. Id never thought about that before. Think about it now. Its likeadvertising. You have to tell the truth in advertising, or you get in trouble. Exactly. Thesame body of laws applies. Do you think you might put us in a book sometime? I puteverything that happens to me in books. I guess I better be careful what I say. Thatsright. And Im not the only one whos listening. God is listening, too. And onJudgment Day hes going to tell you all the things you said and did. If it turns out theyrebad things instead of good things, thats too bad for you, because youll bum forever andever. The burning never stops hurting.Poor Maggie turned gray. She believed that too, and was petrified.Kilgore Trout laughed uproariously. A salmon egg flew out of his mouth and landed inMaggies cleavage.Now an optometrist called for attention. He proposed a toast to Billy and Valencia, whoseanniversary it was. According to plan, the barbershop quartet of optometrists, The Febs,sang while people drank and Billy and Valencia put their arms around each other, justglowed. Everybodys eyes were shining. The song was That Old Gang of Mine.Gee, that song went, but Id give the world to see that old gang of mine. And so on. Alittle later it said. So long forever, old fellows and gals, so long forever old sweethearts
66. and pals-God bless em-And so on.Unexpectedly, Billy Pilgrim found himself upset by the song and the occasion. He hadnever had an old gang, old sweethearts and pals, but he missed one anyway, as the quartetmade slow, agonized experiments with chords-chords intentionally sour, sourer still,unbearably sour, and then a chord that was suffocatingly sweet, and then some sour onesagain. Billy had powerful psychosomatic responses to the changing chords. His mouthfilled with the taste of lemonade, and his face became grotesque, as though he really werebeing stretched on the torture engine called the rack.He looked so peculiar that several people commented on it solicitously when the songwas done. They thought he might have been having a heart attack, and Billy seemed toconfirm this by going to a chair and sitting down haggardly.There was silence. Oh my God, said Valencia, leaning over him, Billy-are you all right?Yes. You look so awful. Really-Im O.K. And he was, too, except that he could find noexplanation for why thesong had affected him so grotesquely. He had supposed for years that he had no secretsfrom himself. Here was proof that he had a great big secret somewhere inside, and hecould not imagine what it was.People drifted away now, seeing the color return to Billys cheeks, seeing him smile.Valencia stayed with him, and Kilgore Trout, who had been on the fringe of the crowd,came closer, interested, shrewd.You looked as though youd seen a ghost, said Valencia.No, said Billy. He hadnt seen anything but what was really before him-the faces of thefour singers, those four ordinary men, cow-eyed and mindless and anguished as theywent from sweetness to sourness to sweetness again.Can I make a guess? said Kilgore Trout You saw through a time window. A what? saidValencia. He suddenly saw the past or the future. Am I right? No, said Billy Pilgrim.He got up, put a hand into his pocket, found the box containingthe ring in there. He took out the box, gave it absently to Valencia. He had meant to giveit to her at the end of the song, while everybody was watching. Only Kilgore Trout wasthere to see.For me? said Valencia. Yes "Oh my God, she said. Then she said it louder, so otherpeople heard. They gatheredaround, and she opened it, and she almost screamed when she saw the sapphire with astar in it. Oh my God, she said. She gave Billy a big kiss. She said, Thank you, thankyou, thank you.There was a lot of talk about what wonderful jewelry Billy had given to Valencia over theyears. My God, said Maggie White, shes already got the biggest diamond I ever sawoutside of a movie. She was talking about the diamond Billy had brought back from thewar.The partial denture he had found inside his little impresarios coat, incidentally, was in hiscufflinks box in his dresser drawer. Billy had a wonderful collection of cufflinks. It wasthe custom of the family to give him cufflinks on every Fathers Day. He was wearingFathers Day cufflinks now. They had cost over one hundred dollars. They were made outof ancient Roman coins. He had one pair of cufflinks upstairs which were little roulettewheels that really worked. He had another pair which had a real thermometer in one anda real compass in the other.
67. Billy now moved about the party-outwardly normal. Kilgore Trout was shadowing him,keen to know what Billy had suspected or seen. Most of Trouts novels, after all, dealtwith time warps and extrasensory perception and other unexpected things. Trout believedin things like that, was greedy to have their existence proved.You ever put a full-length mirror on the floor, and then have a dog stand on it? Troutasked Billy.No.The dog will look down, and all of a sudden hell realize theres nothing under him. Hethinks hes standing on thin air. Hell jump a mile.He will?Thats how you looked-as though you all of a sudden realized you were standing on thinair.The barbershop quartet sang again. Billy was emotionally racked again. The experiencewas definitely associated with those four men and not what they sang.Here is what they sang, while Billy was pulled apart inside: Leven cent cotton, forty centmeat, How in the world can a poor man eat? Pray for the sunshine, cause it will rain.Things gettin worse, drivin all insane; Built a nice bar, painted it brown Lightnin camealong and burnt it down: No use talkin any mans beat,With leven cent cotton and forty cent meat. Leven cent cotton, a car-load of tax, Theloads too heavy for our poor backs...And so on. Billy fled upstairs in his nice white home.Trout would have come upstairs with him if Billy hadnt told him not to. Then Billy wentinto the upstairs bathroom, which was dark He closed and locked the door. He left it dark,and gradually became aware that he was not alone. His son was in there.Dad? his son said in the dark. Robert, the future Green Beret, was seventeen then. Billyliked him, but didnt know him very well. Billy couldnt help suspecting that there wasntmuch to know about Robert.Billy flicked on the light. Robert was sitting on the toilet with his pajama bottoms aroundhis ankles. He was wearing an electric guitar, slung around his neck on a strap. He hadjust bought the guitar that day. He couldnt play it yet and, in fact, never learned to playit. It was a nacreous pink.Hello, son, said Billy Pilgrim.Billy went into his bedroom, even though there were guests to be entertained downstairs.He lay down on his bed, turned on the Magic Fingers. The mattress trembled, drove a dogout from under the bed. The dog was Spot. Good old Spot was still alive in those days.Spot lay down again in a corner.Billy thought hard about the effect the quartet had had on him, and then found anassociation with an experience he had had long ago. He did not travel in time to theexperience. He remembered it shimmeringly-as follows:He was down in the meat locker on the night that Dresden was destroyed. There weresounds like giant footsteps above. Those were sticks of high-explosive bombs. The giantswalked and walked. The meat locker was a very safe shelter. All that happened downthere was an occasional shower of calcimine. The Americans and four of their guards anda few dressed carcasses were down there, and nobody else. The rest of the guards had,before the raid began, gone to the comforts of their own homes in Dresden. They were allbeing killed with their families.
68. So it goes.The girls that Billy had seen naked were all being killed, too, in a much shallower shelterin another part of the stockyards.So it goes.A guard would go to the head of the stairs every so often to see what it was like outside,then he would come down and whisper to the other guards. There was a fire- storm outthere. Dresden was one big flame. The one flame ate everything organic, everything thatwould burn.It wasnt safe to come out of the shelter until noon the next day. When the Americans andtheir guards did come out, the sky was black with smoke. The sun was an angry littlepinhead. Dresden was like the moon now nothing but minerals. The stones were hot.Everybody else in the neighborhood was dead.So it goes.The guards drew together instinctively, rolled their eyes. They experimented with oneexpression and then another, said nothing, though their mouths were often open. Theylooked like a silent film of a barbershop quartet.So long forever, they might have been singing, old fellows and pals; So long forever,old sweethearts and pals-God bless em-Tell me a story, Montana Wildhack said to Billy Pilgrim in the Tralfamadorian zoo onetime. They were in bed side by side. They had privacy. The canopy covered the dome.Montana was six months pregnant now, big and rosy, lazily demanding small favors fromBilly from time to time. She couldnt send Billy out for ice cream or strawberries, sincethe atmosphere outside the dome was cyanide, and the nearest strawberries and ice creamwere millions of light years away.She could send him to the refrigerator, which was decorated with the blank couple on thebicycle built for two-or, as now she could wheedle, Tell me a story, Billy boy.Dresden was destroyed on the night of February 13, 1945, Billy Pilgrim began. Wecame out of our shelter the next day. He told Montana about the four guards who, in theirastonishment and grief, resembled a barber-shop quartet. He told her about the stockyardswith all the fenceposts gone, with roofs and windows gone-told her about seeing littlelogs lying around. These were people who had been caught in the firestorm. So it goes.Billy told her what had happened to the buildings that used to form cliffs around thestockyards. They had collapsed. Their wood had been consumed, and their stones hadcrashed down, had tumbled against one another until they locked at last in low andgraceful curves.It was like the moon, said Billy Pilgrim.The guards told the Americans to form in ranks of four, which they did. Then they hadthem march back to the hog barn which had, been their home. Its wars still stood, but itswindows and roof were gone, and there was nothing inside but ashes and dollops ofmelted glass. It was realized then that there was no food or water, and that the survivors,if they were going to continue to survive, were going to have to climb over curve aftercurve on the face of the moon.Which they did.The curves were smooth only when seen from a distance. The people climbing themlearned that they were treacherous, jagged things-hot to the touch, often unstable eager,should certain important rocks be disturbed, to tumble some more, to form lower, more
69. solid curves.Nobody talked much as the expedition crossed the moon. There was nothing appropriateto say. One thing was clear: Absolutely everybody in the city was supposed to be dead,regardless of what they were, and that anybody that moved in it represented a flaw in thedesign. There were to be no moon men at all.American fighter planes came in under the smoke to see if anything was moving. Theysaw Billy and the rest moving down there. The planes sprayed them with machine-gunbullets, but the bullets missed. Then they saw some other people moving down by theriverside and they shot at them. They hit some of them. So it goes.The idea was to hasten the end of the war.Billys story ended very curiously in a suburb untouched by fire and explosions. Theguards and the Americans came at nightfall to an inn which was open for business. Therewas candlelight. There were fires in three fireplaces downstairs. There were empty tablesand chairs waiting for anyone who might come, and empty beds with covers turned downupstairs.There was a blind innkeeper and his sighted wife, who was the cook, and their two youngdaughters, who worked as waitresses and maids. This family knew that Dresden wasgone. Those with eyes had seen it bum and bum, understood that they were on the edgeof a desert now. Still-they had opened for business, had polished the glasses and woundthe clocks and stirred the fires, and waited and waited to see who would come.There was no great flow of refugees from Dresden. The clocks ticked on, the crackled,the translucent candles dripped. And then there was a knock on the door, and in camefour guards and one hundred American prisoners of war.The innkeeper asked the guards if they had come from the city. Yes. Are there morepeople coming? And the guards said that, on the difficult route they had chosen, they hadnot seenanother living soul.The blind innkeeper said that the Americans could sleep in his stable that night, and hegave them soup and ersatz coffee and a little beer. Then he came out to the stable to listento them bedding down in the straw.Good night, Americans, he said in German. Sleep well.NineHere is how Billy Pilgrim lost his wife, Valencia. He was unconscious in the hospital inVermont, after the airplane crash on SugarbushMountain, and Valencia, having heard about the crash, was driving from Ilium to thehospital in the family Cadillac El Dorado Coupe de Ville. Valencia was hysterical,because she had been told frankly that Billy might die, or that, if he lived, he might be avegetable.Valencia adored Billy. She was crying and yelping so hard as she drove that she missedthe correct turnoff from the throughway. She applied her power brakes, and a Mercedesslammed into her from behind. Nobody was hurt, thank God, because both drivers werewearing seat belts. Thank God, thank God. The Mercedes lost only a headlight. But therear end of the Cadillac was a body-and-fender mans wet dream. The trunk and fenderswere collapsed. The gaping trunk looked like the mouth of a village idiot who wasexplaining that he didnt know anything about anything. The fenders shrugged. Thebumper was at a high port arms. Reagan for President! a sticker on the bumper said. The
70. back window was veined with cracks. The exhaust system rested on the pavement.The driver of the Mercedes got out and went to Valencia, to find out if she was all right.She blabbed hysterically about Billy and the airplane crash, and then she put her car ingear and crossed the median divider, leaving her exhaust system behind.When she arrived at the hospital, people rushed to the windows to see what all the noisewas. The Cadillac, with both mufflers gone, sounded like a heavy bomber coming in on awing and a prayer. Valencia turned off the engine, but then she slumped against thesteering wheel, and the horn brayed steadily. A doctor and a nurse ran out to find outwhat the trouble was. Poor Valencia was unconscious, overcome by carbon monoxide.She was a heavenly azure.One hour later she was dead. So it goes.Billy knew nothing about it. He, dreamed on, and traveled in time and so forth. Thehospital was so crowded that Billy couldnt have a room to himself. He shared a roomwith a Harvard history professor named Bertram Copeland Rumfoord. Rumfoord didnthave to look at Billy, because Billy was surrounded by white linen screens on rubberwheels. But Rumfoord could hear Billy talking to himself from time to time.Rumfoords left leg was in traction. He had broken it while skiing. He was seventy yearsold, but had the body and spirit of a man half that age. He had been honeymooning withhis fifth wife when he broke his leg. Her name was Lily. Lily was twenty-three.Just about the time poor Valencia was pronounced dead, Lily came into Billys andRumfoords room with an armload of books. Rumfoord had sent her down to Boston toget them. He was working on a one-volume history of the United States Army Air Corpsin the Second World War. The books were about bombings and sky battles that hadhappened before Lily was even born.You guys go on without me, said Billy Pilgrim deliriously, as pretty little Lily came in.She had been an a-go-go girl when Rumfoord saw her and resolved to make her his own.She was a high school dropout. Her I.Q. was 103. He scares me, she whispered to herhusband about Billy Pilgrim.He bores the hell out of me! Rumfoord replied boomingly. All he does in his sleep isquit and surrender and apologize and ask to be left alone. Rumfoord was a retiredbrigadier general in the Air Force Reserve, the official Air Force Historian, a funprofessor, the author of twenty-six books, a multimillionaire since birth, and one of thegreat competitive sailors of all time. His most popular book was about sex and strenuousathletics for men over sixty-five. Now he quoted Theodore Roosevelt whom heresembled a lot:"I could carve a better man out of a banana."One of the things Rumfoord had told Lily to get in Boston was a copy of President HarryS. Trumans announcement to the world that an atomic bomb had been dropped onHiroshima. She had a Xerox of it, and Rumfoord asked her if she had read it.No. She didnt read well, which was one of the reasons she had dropped out of highschool.Rumfoord ordered her to sit down and read the Truman statement now. He didnt knowthat she couldnt read much. He knew very little about her, except that she was one morepublic demonstration that he was a superman.So Lily sat down and pretended to read the Truman thing, which went like this:Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important
71. Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T. It had morethan two thousand times the blast power of the British Grand Slam which is the largestbomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many-fold. And the end is not yet. With this bomb we have now added a new and revolutionaryincrease in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. In theirpresent form these bombs are now in production, and even more powerful forms are indevelopment.It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force fromwhich the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the FarEast.Before 1939, it was the accepted belief of scientists that it was theoretically possible torelease atomic energy. But nobody knew any practical method of doing it. By 1942,however, we knew that the Germans were working feverishly to find a way to add atomicenergy to all the other engines of war with which they hoped to enslave the world. Butthey failed. We may be grateful to Providence that the Germans got the V-1s and V-2slate and in limited quantities and even more grateful that they did not get the atomicbomb at all.The battle of the laboratories held-fateful risks for us as well as the battles of the air, landand sea, and we have now won the battle of the laboratories as we have won the otherbattles.We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productiveenterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city, said Harry Truman. We shalldestroy their docks, their factories and their communications. Let there be no mistake; weshall completely destroy Japans power to make war. It was to spare-And so on.One of the books that Lily had brought Rumfoord was The Destruction of Dresden by anEnglishman named David Irving. It was an American edition, published by Holt.,Rinehart and Winston in 1964. What Rumfoord wanted from it were. portions of theforewords by his friends Ira C. Eaker, Lieutenant General, U.S.A.F., retired, and BritishAir Marshal Sir Robert Saundby, K.C.B., K.B.E., M.C., D.F.C., A.F.C.I find it difficult to understand Englishmen or Americans .who weep about enemycivilians who were killed but who have not shed a tear for our gallant crews lost incombat with a cruel enemy, wrote his friend General Eaker in part. I think it would havebeen well for Mr. Irving to have remembered, when he was drawing the frightful pictureof the civilian killed at Dresden, that V-1s and V-2s were at that very time failing onEngland, killing civilian men, women and children indiscriminately, as they weredesigned and launched to do. It might be well to remember Buchenwald and Coventry,tooEakers foreword ended this wayI deeply regret that British and U.S. bombers killed 135,000 people in the attack onDresden, but I remember who started the last war and I regret even more the -loss ofmore than 5,000,000, Allied lives in the necessary effort to completely defeat and utterlydestroy nazism.So it goes. What Air Marshal Saundby said, among other things, was this That thebombing of Dresden was a great tragedy none can deny. That it was really a
72. military necessity few, after reading this book, will believe. It was one of those terriblethings that sometimes happen in wartime, brought about by an unfortunate combinationof circumstances. Those who approved it were neither wicked no?, cruel, though it maywell be that they were too remote from the harsh realities of war to understand fully theappalling destructive power of air bombardment in the spring of 1945The advocates of nuclear disarmament seem to believe that, if they could achieve theiraim., war would become tolerable and decent. They would do well to read this book andponder the fate of Dresden, where 135,000 people died as the result of an at attack withconventional weapons. On the night of March 9th, 1945, an air attack on Tokyo byAmerican heavy bombers, using incendiary and high explosive bombs, caused the deathof 83,793 people. The atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed 71,379 people.So it goes.If youre ever in Cody, Wyoming, said Billy Pilgrim behind his white linen screens, justask for Wild Bob.Lily Rumfoord shuddered, went on pretending to read the Harry Truman thing.Billys daughter Barbara came in later that day. She was all doped up, had the sameglassy-eyed look that poor old Edgar Derby wore just before he was shot in Dresden.Doctors had given her pills so she could continue to function, even though her father wasbroken and her mother was dead.So it goes.She was accompanied by a doctor and a nurse. Her brother Robert was flying home froma battlefield in Vietnam. Daddy, she said tentatively. Daddy? But Billy was ten years away, back in 1958. He was examining the eyes of a young maleMongolian idiot in order to prescribe corrective lenses. The idiots mother was there,acting as an interpreter.How many dots do you see? Billy Pilgrim asked him.And then Billy traveled in time to when he was sixteen years old, in the waiting room ofa doctor. Billy had an infected thumb. There was only one other patient waiting-an old,old man. The old man was in agony because of gas. He farted tremendously, and then hebelched.Excuse me, he said to Billy. Then he did it again. Oh God he said, I knew it was goingto be bad getting old. He shook his head. I didnt know it was going to be this bad.Billy Pilgrim opened his eyes in the hospital in Vermont, did not know where he was.Watching him was his son Robert. Robert was wearing the uniform of the famous GreenBerets. Roberts hair was short, was wheat-colored bristles. Robert was clean and neat.He was decorated with a Purple Heart and a Silver Star and a Bronze Star with twoclusters.This was a boy who had flunked out of high school, who had been an alcoholic at sixteen,who had run with a rotten bunch of kids, who had been arrested for tipping over hundredsof tombstones in a Catholic cemetery one time. He was all straightened out now. Hisposture was wonderful and his shoes were shined and his trousers were pressed, and hewas a leader of men.Dad? Billy Pilgrim closed his eyes again.Billy had to miss his wifes funeral because he was still so sick. He was conscious,though, while Valencia was being put into the ground in Ilium. Billy hadnt said muchsince regaining consciousness, hadnt responded very elaborately to the news of
73. Valencias death and Roberts coming home from the war and so on-so it was generallybelieved that he was a vegetable. There was talk of performing an operation on him later,one which might improve the circulation of blood to his brain.Actually, Billys outward listlessness was a screen. The listlessness concealed a mindwhich was fizzing and flashing thrillingly. It was preparing letters and lectures about theflying saucers, the negligibility of death and the true nature of time.Professor Rumfoord said frightful things about Billy within Billys hearing, confident thatBilly no longer had any brain at all. Why dont they let him die? he asked Lily.I dont know, she said.Thats not a human being anymore. Doctors are for human beings. They should turn himover to a veterinarian or a tree surgeon. Theyd know what to do. Look at him! Thats life,according to the medical profession. Isnt life wonderful?I dont know, said Lily.Rumfoord talked to Lily about the bombing of Dresden one time, and Billy heard it all.Rumfoord had a problem about Dresden. His one-volume history of the Army Air Forcein the Second World War was supposed to be a readable condensation of the twenty-seven-volume Official History of the Army Air Force in World War Two. The thing was,though, there was almost nothing in the twenty-seven volumes about the Dresden raid,even though it had been such a howling success. The extent of the success had been kepta secret for many years after the war-a secret from the American people. It was no secretfrom the Germans, of course, or from the Russians, who occupied Dresden after the war,who are in Dresden still.Americans have finally heard about Dresden., said Rumfoord, twenty-three years afterthe raid. A lot of them know now how much worse it was than Hiroshima. So Ive got toput something about it in my book. From the official Air Force standpoint., itll all benew.Why would they keep it a secret so long? said Lily.For fear that a lot of bleeding hearts said Rumfoord, might not think it was such awonderful thing to do.It was now that Billy Pilgrim spoke up intelligently. I was there he said.It was difficult for Rumfoord to take Billy seriously, since Rumfoord, had so longconsidered Billy a repulsive non-person who would be much better off dead. Now, withBilly speaking clearly and to the point, Rumfoords ears wanted to treat the words as aforeign language that was not worth learning. did he say? said Rumfoord.Lily had to serve as an interpreter. He said he was there. she explained. He was where?I dont know, said Lily. Where were you? she asked Billy. Dresden said Billy.Dresden, Lily told Rumfoord. Hes simply echoing things we say, said Rumfoord. Oh, said Lily. Hes got echolalia now. Oh.Echolalia is a mental disease which makes people immediately repeat things that wellpeople around them say. But Billy didnt really have it. Rumfoord simply insisted, for hisown comfort, that Billy had it. Rumfoord was thinking in a military manner: that aninconvenient person, one whose death he wished for very much, for practical reasons,was suffering from a repulsive disease.Rumfoord went on insisting for several hours that Billy had echolalia-told nurses and adoctor that Billy had echolalia now. Some experiments were performed on Billy. Doctorsand nurses tried to get Billy to echo something, but Billy wouldnt make a sound for
74. them.He isnt doing it now, said Rumfoord peevishly. The minute you go away, hell startdoing it again.Nobody took Rumfoords diagnosis seriously. The staff thought Rumfoord was a hatefulold man, conceited and cruel. He often said to them, in one way or another, thatpeople who were weak deserved to die. Whereas the staff, of course, was devoted to theidea that weak people should be helped as much as possible, that nobody should die.There in the hospital, Billy was having an adventure very common among people withoutpower in time of war: He was trying to prove to a wilfully deaf and blind enemy that hewas interesting to hear and see. He kept silent until the lights went out at night, and then,when there had been a long silence containing nothing to echo, he said to Rumfoord, Iwas in Dresden when it was bombed. I was a prisoner of war. Rumfoord sighedimpatiently.Word of honor., said Billy Pilgrim. Do you believe me? Must we talk about it now?said Rumfoord. He had heard. He didnt believe. We dont ever have to talk about it, saidBilly. I just want you to know: I was there.Nothing more was said about Dresden that night, and Billy closed his eyes, traveled intime to a May afternoon, two days after the end of the Second World War in Europe.Billy and five other American prisoners were riding in a coffin-shaped green wagon,which they had found abandoned complete with two horses, in a suburb of Dresden. Nowthey were being drawn by the clop-clop-clopping horses down narrow lanes which hadbeen cleared through the moonlike ruins. They were going back to the slaughterhouse forsouvenirs of the war. Billy was reminded of the sounds of milkmens horses early in themorning in Ilium, when he was a boy.Billy sat in the back of the jiggling coffin. His head was tilted back and his nostrils wereflaring. He was happy. He was warm. There was food in the wagon, and wine-and acamera, and a stamp collection, and a stuffed owl, and a mantel clock that ran on changesof barometric pressure. The Americans had gone into empty houses in the suburb wherethey had been imprisoned, and they had taken these and many other things.The owners, hearing that the Russians were coming, killing and robbing and raping andburning, had fled.But the Russians hadnt come yet, even two days after the war. It was peaceful in theruins. Billy saw only one other person on the way to the slaughterhouse. It was an oldman pushing a baby buggy. In the buggy were pots and cups and an umbrella frame, andother things he had found.Billy stayed in the wagon when it reached the slaughterhouse, sunning himself. Theothers went looking for souvenirs. Later on in life, the Tralfamadorians would adviseBilly to concentrate on the happy moments of his life, and to ignore the unhappy ones-tostare only at pretty things as eternity failed to go by. If this sort of selectivity had beenpossible for Billy, he might have chosen as his happiest moment his sun-drenched snoozein the back of the wagon.Billy Pilgrim was armed as he snoozed. It was the first time he had been armed sincebasic training. His companions had insisted that he arm himself, since God only knewwhat sorts of killers might be in burrows on the face of the moon-wild dogs, packs of ratsfattened on corpses, escaped maniacs and murderers, soldiers who would never quitkilling until they themselves were killed.
75. Billy had a tremendous cavalry pistol in his belt. It was a relic of the First World War. Ithad a ring in its butt. It was loaded with bullets the size of robins eggs. Billy had found itin the bedside table in a house. That was one of the things about the end of the war:Absolutely anybody who wanted a weapon could have one. They were lying all around.Billy had a saber, too. It was a Luftwaffe ceremonial saber. Its hilt was stamped with ascreaming eagle. The eagle was carrying a swastika and looking down. Billy found itstuck into a telephone pole. He had pulled it out of the pole as the wagon went by.Now his snoozing became shallower as be heard a man and a woman speaking German inpitying tones. The speakers were commiserating with somebody lyrically. Before Billyopened his eyes, it seemed to him that the tones might have been those used by thefriends of Jesus when they took His ruined body down from His cross. So it goes.Billy opened his eyes. A middle-aged man and wife were crooning to the horses. Theywere noticing what the Americans had not noticed-that the horses mouths were bleeding,gashed by the bits, that the horses hooves were broken, so that every step meant agony,that the horses were insane with thirst. The Americans had treated their form oftransportation as though it were no more sensitive than a six-cylinder Chevrolet.These two horse pitiers moved back along the wagon to where they could gaze inpatronizing reproach at Billy-at Billy Pilgrim, who was so long and weak, so ridiculous inhis azure toga and silver shoes. They werent afraid of him. They werent afraid ofanything. They were doctors, both obstetricians. They had been delivering babies untilthe hospitals were all burned down. Now they were picnicking near where theirapartment used to be.The woman was softly beautiful, translucent from having eaten potatoes for so long. Theman wore a business suit, necktie and all. Potatoes had made him gaunt. He was as tall asBilly, wore steel-rimmed tri-focals. This couple, so involved with babies, had neverreproduced themselves, though they could have. This was an interesting comment on thewhole idea of reproduction.They had nine languages between them. They tried Polish on Billy Pilgrim first, since hewas dressed so clownishly, since the wretched Poles were the involuntary clowns of theSecond World War.Billy asked them in English what it was they wanted, and they at once scolded him inEnglish for the condition of the horses. They made Billy get out of the wagon and comelook at the horses. When Billy saw the condition of his means of transportation, he burstinto tears. He hadnt cried about anything else in the war.Later on, as a middle-aged optometrist, he would weep quietly and privately sometimes,but never make loud boo-hoo-ing noises.Which is why the epigraph of this book is the quatrain from the famous Christmas carol.Billy cried very little, though he often saw things worth crying about, and in that respect,at least, he resembled the Christ of the Carol:The cattle are lowing, The Baby awakes. But the little Lord Jesus No crying He makes.Billy traveled in time back to the hospital in Vermont. Breakfast had been eaten andcleared away and Professor Rumfoord was reluctantly becoming interested in Billy as ahuman being. Rumfoord questioned Billy gruffly, satisfied himself that Billy really hadbeen in Dresden. He asked Billy what it had been like, and Billy told him about thehorses and the couple picnicking on the moon.The story ended this way,. Billy and the doctors unharnessed the horses, but the horses
76. wouldnt go anywhere. Their feet hurt too much. And then Russians came onmotorcycles, and they arrested everybody but the horses.Two days after that, Billy was turned over to the Americans, who shipped him home on avery slow freighter called the Lucretia A. Mott. Lucretia A. Mott was a famous Americansuffragette. She was dead. So it goes.It had to be done, Rumfoord told Billy, speaking of the destruction of Dresden. I know,said Billy. Thats war. I know. Im not complaining.It must have been hell on the ground. It was, said Billy Pilgrim. Pity the men who hadto do it. "I do.You must have had mixed feelings, there on the ground."It was all right., said Billy. Everything is all right, and everybody has to do exactlywhat he does. -I learned that on Tralfamadore.Billy Pilgrims daughter took him home later that day, put him to bed in his house, turnedthe Magic Fingers on. There was a practical nurse there. Billy wasnt supposed to work oreven leave the house for a while, at least. He was under observation.But Billy sneaked out while the nurse wasnt watching and he drove to New York City,where he hoped to appear on television. He was going to tell the world about the lessonsof Tralfamadore.Billy Pilgrim checked into the Royalton Hotel on Forty-fourth Street in New York. He bychance was given a room which had once been the home of George Jean Nathan, thecritic and editor. Nathan, according to the Earthling concept of time, had died back in1958. According to the Tralfamadorian concept, of course. Nathan was still alivesomewhere and always would be.The room was small and simple, except that it was on the top floor, and had French doorswhich opened onto a terrace as large as the room. And beyond the parapet of the terracewas the air space over Forty-fourth Street. Billy now leaned over that parapet, lookeddown at all the people moving hither and yon. They were jerky little scissors. They werea lot of fun.It was a chilly night, and Billy came indoors after a while, closed the French doors.Closing those doors reminded him of his honeymoon. There had been French doors onthe Cape Ann love nest of his honeymoon, still were, always would be.Billy turned on his television set checking its channel selector around and around. He waslooking for programs on which he might be allowed to appear. But it was too early inthe evening for programs that allowed people with peculiar opinions to speak out. It wasonly a little after eight oclock, so all the shows were about silliness or murder. So it goes.Billy left his room, went down the slow elevator, walked over to Times Square, lookedinto the window of a tawdry bookstore. In the window were hundreds of books aboutfucking and buggery and murder, and a street guide to New York City, and a model ofthe Statue of Liberty with a thermometer on it. Also in the window, speckled with sootand fly shit, were four paperback novels by Billys friend, Kilgore Trout.The news of the day, meanwhile, was being written in a ribbon of lights on a building toBillys back. The window reflected the news. It was about power and sports and angerand death. So it goes.Billy went into the bookstore.A sign in there said that adults only were allowed in the back. There were peep shows inthe back that showed movies of young women and men with no clothes on. It cost a
77. quarter to look into a machine for one minute. There were still photographs of nakedyoung people for sale back there, too. You could take those home. The stills were a lotmore Tralfamadorian than the movies, since you could look at them whenever youwanted to, and they wouldnt change. Twenty years in the future, those girls would stillbe young, would still be smiling or smoldering or simply looking stupid, with their legswide open. Some of them were eating lollipops or bananas. They would still be eatingthose. And the peckers of the young men would still be semi-erect, and their muscleswould be bulging like cannonballs.But Billy Pilgrim wasnt beguiled by the back of the store. He was thrilled by the KilgoreTrout novels in the front. The tides were all new to him, or he thought they were. Now heopened one. It seemed all right for him to do that. Everybody else in the store was pawingthings. The name of the book was The Big Board. He got a few paragraphs into it, andthen realized that he had read it before-years ago, in the veterans hospital. It was about anEarthling man and woman who were kidnapped by extra-terrestrials. They were put ondisplay in a zoo on a planet called Zircon-212.These fictitious people in the zoo had a big board supposedly showing stock market,quotations and commodity prices along one wall of their habitat, and a news ticker, and atelephone that was supposedly connected to a brokerage on Earth. The creatures onZircon-212 told their captives that they had invested a million dollars for them back onEarth, and that it was up to the captives to manage it so that they would be fabulouslywealthy when they returned to Earth.The telephone and the big board and the ticker were all fakes, of -course. They weresimply stimulants to make the Earthlings perform vividly for the crowds at the zoo- tomake them jump up and down and cheer, or gloat, or sulk, or tear their hair, to be scaredshitless or to feel as contented as babies in their mothers arms.The Earthlings did very well on paper. That was part of the rigging, of course. Andreligion got mixed up in it, too. The news ticker reminded them that the President of theUnited States had declared National Prayer Week, and that everybody should pray. TheEarthlings had had a bad week on the market before that. They had lost a small fortune inolive oil futures. So they gave praying a whirl.It worked. Olive oil went up.Another Kilgore Trout book there in the window was about a man who built a timemachine so he could go back and see Jesus. It worked, and he saw Jesus when Jesus wasonly twelve years old. Jesus was learning the carpentry trade from his father.Two Roman soldiers came into the shop with a mechanical drawing on papyrus of adevice they wanted built by sunrise the next morning. It was a cross to be used in theexecution of a rabble-rouser.Jesus and his father built it. They were glad to have the work. And the rabble-rouser wasexecuted on it.So it goes.The bookstore was run by seeming quintuplets, by five short, bald men chewing unfitcigars that were sopping wet. They never smiled, and each one had a stool to perch on.They were making money running a paper-and-celluloid whorehouse.They didnt have hard-ons. Neither did Billy Pilgrim. Everybody else did. It was aridiculous store, all about love and babies.The clerks occasionally told somebody to buy or get out, not to just look and look and
78. look and paw and paw. Some of the people were looking at each other instead of themerchandise.A clerk came up to Billy and told him the good stuff was in the back, that the books Billywas reading were window dressing. That aint what you want, for Christs sake, he toldBilly What you wants in back.So Billy moved a little farther back, but not as far as the part for adults only. He movedbecause of absentminded politeness, taking a Trout book with him-the one about Jesusand the time machine.The time-traveler in the book went back to Bible times to find out one thing in particular:Whether or not Jesus had really died on the cross, or whether he had been taken downwhile still alive, whether he had really gone on living. The hero had a stethoscope along.Billy skipped to the end of the book, where the hero mingled with the people who weretaking Jesus down from the cross. The time-traveler was the first one up the ladder,dressed in clothes of the period, and he leaned close to Jesus so people couldnt see himuse the stethoscope, and he listened.There wasnt a sound inside the emaciated chest cavity. The Son of God was as dead as adoornail.So it goes.The time-traveler, whose name was Lance Corwin, also got to measure the length ofJesus, but not to weigh him. Jesus was five feet and three and a half inches long.Another clerk came up to Billy and asked him if he was going to buy the book or not, andBilly said that he wanted to buy it, please. He had his back to a rack of paperback booksabout oral-genital contacts from ancient Egypt to the present and so on, and the clerksupposed Billy was reading one of these. So he was startled when he saw what Billysbook was. He said, Jesus Christ, where did you find this thing? and so on, and hehad to tell the other clerks about the pervert who wanted to buy the window dressing. Theother clerks already knew about Billy. They had been watching him, too.The cash register where Billy waited for his change was near a bin of old girlymagazines. Billy looked at one out of the corner of his eye, and he saw this question onits cover: What really became of Montana Wildhack?So Billy read it. He knew where Montana Wildhack really was, of course. She was backon Tralfamadore, taking care of the baby, but the magazine, which was called MidnightPussycats, promised that she was wearing a cement overcoat under fathoms of saltwaterin San Pedro Bay.So it goes.Billy wanted to laugh. The magazine., which was published for lonesome men to jerk offto, ran the story so it could print pictures taken from blue movies which Montana hadmade as a teenagers Billy did not look closely at these. They were grainy things, soot andchalk. They could have been anybody.Billy was again directed to the back of the store and he went this time. A jaded sailorstepped away from a movie machine while the film was still running. Billy looked in, andthere was Montana Wildhack alone on a bed, peeling a banana. The picture clicked off.Billy did not want to see what happened next, and a clerk importuned him to come overand see some really hot stuff they kept under the counter for connoisseurs.Billy was mildly curious as to what could possibly have been kept hidden in such a place.The clerk leered and showed him. It was a photograph of a woman and a Shetland pony.
79. They were attempting to have sexual intercourse between two Doric columns, in front ofvelvet draperies which were fringed with deedlee-balls.Billy didnt get onto television in New York that night., but he did get onto a radio talkshow. There was a radio station right next to Billys hotel. He saw its call letters over theentrance of an office building, so he went in. He went up to the studio on an automaticelevator, and there were other people up there, waiting to go in. They were literary critics,and they thought Billy was one, too. They were going to discuss whether the novel wasdead or not. So it goes.Billy took his seat with the others around a golden oak table, with a microphone all hisown. The master of ceremonies asked him his name and what paper he was from. Billysaid he was from the Ilium Gazette.He was nervous and happy. If youre ever in Cody, Wyoming, he told himself, just askfor Wild Bob.Billy put his hand up at the very first part of the program but he wasnt called on rightaway. Others got in ahead of him. One of them said that it would be a nice time to burythe novel, now that a Virginian, one hundred years after Appomattox, had written UncleToms Cabin. Another one said that people couldnt read well enough anymore to turnprint into exciting situations in their skulls, so that authors had to do what Norman Mailerdid, which was to perform in public what he had written. The master of ceremonies askedpeople to say what they thought the function of the novel might be in modem society, andone critic said, To provide touches of color in rooms with all-white wars. Another onesaid, To describe blow-jobs artistically. Another one said, To teach wives of juniorexecutives what to buy next and how to act in a French restaurant.And then Billy was allowed to speak. Off he went, in that beautifully trained voice of his,telling about the flying saucers and Montana Wildhack and so on.He was gently expelled from the studio during a commercial. He went back to his hotelroom, put a quarter into the Magic Fingers machine connected to his bed, and he went tosleep. He traveled in time back to Tralfamadore.Time-traveling again? said Montana. It was artificial evening in the dome. She wasbreast-feeding their child.Hmm? said Billy. Youve been time-traveling again. I can always tell. Um. Where didyou go this time? It wasnt the war. I can tell that, too. New York. The Big Apple.Hm? Thats what they used to call New York. "Oh. You see any plays or movies? No-I walked around Times Square some, bought a book by Kilgore Trout. Lucky you. Shedid not share his enthusiasm for Kilgore Trout. Billy mentioned casually that he had seenpart of a blue movie she had made. Herresponse was no less casual. It was Tralfamadorian and guilt-free: Yes- she said, andIve heard about you in the war, about what a clown you were. AndIve heard about the high school teacher who was shot. He made a blue movie with afiring squad. She moved the baby from one breast to the other, because the moment wasso structured that she had to do so.There was a silence.Theyre playing with the clocks again, said Montana, rising, preparing to put the babyinto its crib. She meant that their keepers were making the electric clocks in the dome gofast, then slow, then fast again., and watching the little Earthling family throughpeepholes.
80. There was a silver chain around Montana Wildhacks neck. Hanging from it, between herbreasts, was a locket containing a photograph of her alcoholic mother-grainy thing, sootand chalk. It could have been anybody. Engraved on the outside of the locket were thesewords:GOD GRANT ME THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT THE THINGS I CANNOTCHANGE, COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGSI CAN, AND WISDOM ALWAYS TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE.TenRobert Kennedy, whose summer home is eight miles from the home I live in all yearround, was shot two nights ago. He died last night. So it goes.Martin Luther King was shot a month ago. He died, too. So it goes.And every day my Government gives me a count of corpses created by military sciencein Vietnam. So it goes.My father died many years ago now-of natural causes. So it goes. He was a sweet man.He was a gun nut, too. He left me his guns. They rust.On Tralfamadore, says Billy Pilgrim, there isnt much interest in Jesus Christ. TheEarthling figure who is most engaging to the Tralfamadorian mind, he says, is CharlesDarwin-who taught that those who die are meant to die, that corpses are improvements.So it goes.The same general idea appears in The Big Board by Kilgore Trout. The flying saucercreatures who capture Trouts hem ask him about Darwin. They also ask him about golf.If what Billy Pilgrim learned from the Tralfamadorians is true, that we will all liveforever, no matter how dead we may sometimes seem to be, I am not overjoyed. Still-if Iam going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, Im grateful that so many ofthose moments are nice.One of the nicest ones in recent times was on my trip back to Dresden with my old warbuddy, OHare.We took a Hungarian Airlines plane from East Berlin. The pilot had a handlebarmustache. He looked like Adolph Menjou. He smoked a Cuban cigar while the plane wasbeing fueled. When we took off, there was no talk of fastening seat belts.When we were up in the air, a young steward served us rye bread and salami and butterand cheese and white wine. The folding tray in front of me would not open out. Thesteward went into the cockpit for a tool, came back with a beer-can opener. He used it topry out the tray.There were only six other passengers. They spoke many languages. They were havingnice times, too. East Germany was down below, and the lights were on. I imagineddropping bombs on those lights, those villages and cities and towns.OHare and I had never expected to make any money-and here we were now, extremelywell-to-do.If youre ever in Cody, Wyoming, I said to him lazily, just ask for Wild Bob.OHare had a little notebook with him, and printed in the back of it were postal rates andairline distances and the altitudes of famous mountains and other key facts about theworld. He was looking up the population of Dresden, which wasnt in the notebook, whenhe came across this, which he gave me to read:On an average, 324,000 new babies are born into the world every day. During that sameday, 10,000 persons, in an average, will have starved to death or died from malnutrition.
81. So it goes. In addition, 123,000 persons will die for other reasons. So it goes. This leavesa net gain of about 191,000 each day in the world. The PopulationReference Bureau predicts that the worlds total population will double to 7,000,000,000before the year 2000.I suppose they will all want dignity, I said. I suppose, said OHare.Billy Pilgrim was meanwhile traveling back to Dresden, too, but not in the present. Hewas going back there in 1945, two days after the city was destroyed. Now Billy and therest were being marched into the ruins by their guards. I was there. OHare was there. Wehad spent the past two nights in the blind innkeepers stable. Authorities had found usthere. They told us what to do. We were to borrow picks and shovels and crowbars andwheelbarrows from our neighbors. We were to march with these implements to such andsuch a place in the ruins, ready to go to work.There were cades on the main roads leading into the ruins. Germans were stopped there.They were not permitted to explore the moon.Prisoners of war from many lands came together that morning at such and such a place inDresden. It had been decreed that here was where the digging for bodies was to begin. Sothe digging began.Billy found himself paired as a digger with a Maori, who had been captured at Tobruk.The Maori was chocolate brown. He had whirlpools tattooed on his forehead and hischeeks. Billy and the Maori dug into the inert, unpromising gravel of the moon. Thematerials were loose, so there were constant little avalanches.Many holes were dug at once. Nobody knew yet what there was to find. Most holes cameto nothing-to pavement, or to boulders so huge they would not move. There was nomachinery. Not even horses or mules or oxen could cross the moonscape.And Billy and the Maori and others helping them with their particular hole came at last toa membrane of timbers laced over rocks which had wedged together to form anaccidental dome. They made a hole in the membrane. There was darkness and spaceunder there.A German soldier with a flashlight went down into the darkness, was gone a long time.When he finally came back, he told a superior on the rim of the hole that there weredozens of bodies down there. They were sitting on benches. They were unmarked.So it goes.The superior said that the opening in the membrane should be enlarged, and that a laddershould be put in the hole, so that bodies could be carried out. Thus began the first corpsemine in Dresden.There were hundreds of corpse mines operating by and by. They didnt smell bad at first,were wax museums. But then the bodies rotted and liquefied, and the stink was like rosesand mustard gas.So it goes.The Maori Billy had worked with died of the dry heaves, after having been ordered to godown in that stink and work. He tore himself to pieces, throwing up and throwing up.So it goes.So a new technique was devised. Bodies werent brought up any more. They werecremated by soldiers with flamethrowers right where they were. The soldiers. stoodoutside the shelters, simply sent the fire in.Somewhere in there the poor old high school teacher, Edgar Derby, was caught with a
82. teapot he had taken from the catacombs. He was arrested for plundering. He was triedand shot.So it goes.And somewhere in there was springtime. The corpse mines were closed down. Thesoldiers all left to fight the Russians. In the suburbs, the women and children dug riflepits. Billy and the rest of his group were locked up in the stable in the suburbs. And then,one morning, they got up to discover that the door was unlocked. The Second World Warin Europe was over.Billy and the rest wandered out onto the shady street. The trees were leafing out. Therewas nothing going on out there, no traffic of any kind. There was only one vehicle, anabandoned wagon drawn by two horses. The wagon was green and coffin-shaped.Birds were talking. One bird said to Billy Pilgrim, Poo-tee-weet?
83. CATS CRADLE by Kurt VonnegutCopyright 1963 by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.Published by DELL PUBLISHING CO., INC., 1 Dag HammarskjoldPlaza, New York, N.Y. 10017 All rights reserved.ISBN: 0-440-11149-8For Kenneth Littauer, a man of gallantry and taste.Nothing in this book is true."Live by the foma* that makes you brave and kind andhealthy and happy."--The Books of Bokonon. 1:5 *Harmless untruthscontents1. The Day the World Ended 2. Nice, Nice, Very Nice 3.Folly 4. A Tentative Tangling of Tendrils 5. Letterfrom a Pie-med6. Bug Fights 7. The Illustrious Hoenikkers 8. NewtsThing with Zinka 9. Vice-president in Charge of Volcanoes10. Secret Agent X-9 11. Protein 12. End of the WorldDelight 13. The Jumping-off Place 14. When Automobiles HadCut-glass Vases 15. Merry Christmas16. Back to Kindergarten 17. The Girl Pool 18. The MostValuable Commodity on Earth 19. No More Mud 20. Ice-nine21. The Marines March On 22. Member of the Yellow Press 23.The Last Batch of Brownies 24. What a Wampeter Is 25. TheMain Thing About Dr. Hoenikker 26. What God Is 27. Men fromMars 28. Mayonnaise 29. Gone, but Not 30. Only Sleeping 31.Another Breed 32. Dynamite Money 33. An Ungrateful Man 34.Vin-dit 35. Hobby Shop 36. Meow 37. A Modem Major General38. Barracuda Capital of the World 39. Fata Morgana 40.House of Hope and Mercy 41. A Karass Built for Two 42.Bicycles for Afghanistan 43. The Demonstrator 44. CommunistSympathizers 45. Why Americans Are Hated 46. The BokononistMethod for Handling Caesar 47. Dynamic Tension 48. JustLike Saint Augustine 49. A Fish Pitched Up by an Angry Sea50. A Nice Midget 51. O.K., Mom 52. No Pain 53. ThePresident of Fabri-Tek 54. Communists, Nazis, Royalists,ForgottenParachutists, and Draft Dodgers 55. Never Index Your OwnBook56. A Self-supporting Squirrel Cage 57. The Queasy Dream58. Tyranny with a Difference 59. Fasten Your Seat Belts60. An Underprivileged Nation 61. What a Corporal Was Worth62. Why Hazel Wasnt Scared 63. Reverent and Free 64. Peaceand Plenty 65. A Good Time to Come to San Lorenzo 66. TheStrongest Thing There Is67. Hy-u-o-ook-kuh! 68. Hoon-yera Mora-toorz 69. A BigMosaic 70. Tutored by Bokonon 71. The Happiness of Being anAmerican 72. The Pissant Hilton 73. Black Death 74. Cats
84. Cradle 75. Give My Regards to Albert Schweitzer 76. JulianCastle Agrees with Newtthat Everything Is Meaningless 77. Aspirin and Boko-maru78. Ring of Steel 79. Why McCabes Soul Grew Coarse 80. TheWaterfall Strainers 81. A White Bride for the Son of aPullman Porter 82. Zah-mah-ki-bo 83. Dr. Schlichter vonKoenigswald Approachesthe Break-even Point 84. Blackout85. A Pack of Foma 86. Two Little Jugs 87. The Cut of MyJib 88. Why Frank Couldnt Be President 89. Duffle90. Only One Catch 91. Mona 92. On the Poets Celebrationof his First Boko-maru 93. How I Almost Lost My Mona 94.The Highest Mountain 95. I See the Hook 96. Bell, Book, andChicken in a Hatbox 97. The Stinking Christian 98. LastRites 99. Dyot meet mat 100. Down the Oubliette Goes Frank101. Like My Predecessors, I Outlaw Bokonon 102. Enemies ofFreedom 103. A Medical Opinion on the Effects of a WritersStrike 104. Sulfathiazole 105. Pain-killer 106. WhatBokononists Say When They Commit Suicide107. Feast Your Eyes! 108. Frank Tells Us What to Do 109.Frank Defends Himself 110. The Fourteenth Book 111. TimeOut 112. Newts Mothers Reticule 113. History 114. When IFelt the Bullet Enter My Heart 115. As It Happened 116. TheGrand Ah-whoom 117. Sanctuary 118. The Iron Maiden and theOubliette 119. Mona Thanks Me 120. To Whom It May Concern121. I Am Slow to Answer 122. The Swiss Family Robinson123. Of Mice and Men 124. Franks Ant Farm 125. TheTasmanians 126. Soft Pipes, Play On 127. The Endcats cradleThe Day the World Ended 1 Call me Jonah. My parents did, ornearly did. They called meJohn.Jonah – John - if I had been a Sam, I would have been aJonah still, not because I have been unlucky for others,but because somebody or something has compelled me to becertain places at certain times, without fail. Conveyancesand motives, both conventional and bizarre, have beenprovided. And, according to plan, at each appointed second,at each appointed place this Jonah was there.Listen:When I was a younger man--two wives ago, 250,000 cigarettesago, 3,000 quarts of booze ago.When I was a much younger man, I began to collect materialfor a book to be called The Day the World Ended.The book was to be factual.The book was to be an account of what important Americanshad done on the day when the first atomic bomb was dropped
85. on Hiroshima, Japan.It was to be a Christian book. I was a Christian then. I ama Bokononist now. I would have been a Bokononist then, ifthere had been anyoneto teach me the bittersweet lies of Bokonon. But Bokononismwas unknown beyond the gravel beaches and coral knives thatring this little island in the Caribbean Sea, the Republicof San Lorenzo.We Bokononists believe that humanity is organized intoteams, teams that do Gods Will without ever discoveringwhat they are doing. Such a team is called a karass byBokonon, and the instrument, the kan-kan, that brought meinto my own particular karass was the book I neverfinished, the book to be called The Day the World Ended.Nice, Nice, Very Nice 2"If you find your life tangled up with somebody elses lifefor no very logical reasons," writes Bokonon, "that personmay be a member of your karass."At another point in The Books of created the checkerboard;God created means that a karass ignores national, familial,and class boundaries.It is as free-form as an amoeba.Bokonon he tells us, "Man the karass." By that heinstitutional, occupational,In his "Fifty-third Calypso," Bokonon invites us to singalong with him:Oh, a sleeping drunkard Up in Central Park, And a lion-hunterFolly 3In the jungle dark, And a Chinese dentist, And a Britishqueen-- All fit together In the same machine. Nice, nice,very nice; Nice, nice, very nice; Nice, nice, very nice--So many different people In the same device.Nowhere does Bokonon warn against a persons trying todiscover the limits of his karass and the nature of thework God Almighty has had it do. Bokonon simply observesthat such investigations are bound to be incomplete.In the autobiographical section of The Books of Bokanon hewrites a parable on the folly of pretending to discover, tounderstand:I once knew an Episcopalian lady in Newport, Rhode Island,who asked me to design and build a doghouse for her GreatDane. The lady claimed to understand God and His Ways ofWorking perfectly. She could not understand why anyoneshould be puzzled about what had been or about what wasgoing to be.And yet, when I showed her a blueprint of the doghouse I
86. proposed to build, she said to me, "Im sorry, but I nevercould read one of those things.""Give it to your husband or your minister to pass on toGod," I said, "and, when God finds a minute, Im sure hellexplain this doghouse of mine in a way that even you canunderstand."She fired me. I shall never forget her. She believed thatGod liked people in sailboats much better than He likedpeople in motorboats. She could not bear to look at a worm.When she saw a worm, she screamed.She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks hesees what God is Doing, [writes Bokonon].A Tentative Tangling of Tendrils 4Be that as it may, I intend in this book to include as manymembers of my karass as possible, and I mean to examine allstrong hints as to what on Earth we, collectively, havebeen up to.I do not intend that this book be a tract on behalf ofBokononism. I should like to offer a Bokononist warningabout it, however. The first sentence in The Books ofBokonon is this:"All of the true things I am about to tell you areshameless lies."My Bokononist warning is this:Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can befounded on lies will not understand this book either.So be it.About my karass, then.It surely includes the three children of Dr. FelixHoenikker, one of the so-called "Fathers" of the firstatomic bomb. Dr. Hoenikker himself was no doubt a member ofmy karass, though he was dead before my sinookas, thetendrils of my life, began to tangle with those of hischildren.The first of his heirs to be touched by my sinookas wasNewton Hoenikker, the youngest of his three children, theyounger of his two sons. I learned from the publication ofmy fraternity, The Delta Upsilon Quarterly, that NewtonHoenikker, son of the Nobel Prize physicist, FelixHoenikker, had been pledged by my chapter, the CornellChapter.So I wrote this letter to Newt: "Dear Mr. Hoenikker: "Orshould I say, Dear Brother Hoenikker? "I am a Cornell DUnow making my living as a freelancewriter. I am gathering material for a book relating to thefirst atomic bomb. Its contents will be limited to eventsthat took
87. place on August 6, 1945, the day the bomb was dropped onHiroshima."Since your late father is generally recognized as havingbeen one of the chief creators of the bomb, I would verymuch appreciate any anecdotes you might care to give me oflife in your fathers house on the day the bomb was dropped."I am sorry to say that I dont know as much about yourillustrious family as I should, and so dont know whetheryou have brothers and sisters. If you do have brothers andsisters, I should like very much to have their addresses sothat I can send similar requests to them."I realize that you were very young when the bomb wasdropped, which is all to the good. My book is going toemphasize the human rather than the technical side of thebomb, so recollections of the day through the eyes of ababy, if youll pardon the expression, would fit inperfectly."You dont have to worry about style and form. Leave allthat to me. Just give me the bare bones of your story."I will, of course, submit the final version to you foryour approval prior to publication."Fraternally yours."Letter from a Pre-med 5To which Newt replied:"I am sorry to be so long sounds like a very interestingwhen the bomb was dropped that help. You should really askmy brother and sister, who are both older than I am. Mysister is Mrs. Harrison C. Conners, 4918 North MeridianStreet, Indianapolis, Indiana. That is my home address,too, now. I think she will be glad to help you. Nobodyknows where my brother Frank is. He disappeared right afterFathers funeral two years ago, and nobody has heard fromhim since. For all we know, he may be dead now."I was only six years old when they dropped the atomic bombon Hiroshima, so anything I remember about that day otherpeople have helped me to remember.about answering your letter. That book you are doing. I wasso young I dont think Im going to be much"I remember I was playing on the living-room carpet outsidemy fathers study door in Ilium, New York. The door wasopen, and I could see my father. He was wearing pajamas anda bathrobe. He was smoking a cigar. He was playing with aloop of string. Father was staying home from the laboratoryin his pajamas all day that day. He stayed home whenever hewanted to."Father, as you probably know, spent practically his wholeprofessional life working for the Research Laboratory of
88. the General Forge and Foundry Company in Ilium. When theManhattan Project came along, the bomb project, Fatherwouldnt leave Ilium to work on it. He said he wouldntwork on it at all unless they let him work where he wantedto work. A lot of the time that meant at home. The onlyplace he liked to go, outside of Ilium, was our cottage onCape Cod. Cape Cod was where he died. He died on aChristmas Eve. You probably know that, too."Anyway, I was playing on the carpet outside his study onthe day of the bomb. My sister Angela tells me I used toplay with little toy trucks for hours, making motor sounds,going burton, burton, burton all the time. So I guess Iwas going burton, burton, burton, on the day of the bomb;and Father was in his study, playing with a loop of string."It so happens I know where the string he was playing withcame from. Maybe you can use it somewhere in your book.Father took the string from around the manuscript of anovel that a man in prison had sent him. The novel wasabout the end of the world in the year 2000, and the nameof the book was _2000 A.D._ It told about how madscientists made a terrific bomb that wiped out the wholeworld. There was a big sex orgy when everybody knew thatthe world was going to end, and then Jesus Christ Himselfappeared ten seconds before the bomb went off. The name ofthe author was Marvin Sharpe Holderness, and he told Fatherin a covering letter that he was in prison for killing hisown brother. He sent the manuscript to Father because hecouldnt figure out what kind of explosives to put in thebomb. He thought maybe Father could make suggestions."I dont mean to tell you I read the book when I was six.We had it around the house for years. My brother Frank madeit his personal property, on account of the dirty parts.Frank kept it hidden in what he called his wall safe inhis bedroom. Actually, it wasnt a safe but just an oldstove flue with a tin lid. Frank and I must have read theorgy part a thousand times when we were kids. We had it foryears, and then my sister Angela found it. She read it andsaid it was nothing but a piece of dirty rotten filth. Sheburned it up, and the string with it. She was a mother toFrank and me, because our real mother died when I was born."My father never read the book, Im pretty sure. I dontthink he ever read a novel or even a short story in hiswholelife, or at least not since he was a little boy. He didntread his mail or magazines or newspapers, either. I supposehe read a lot of technical journals, but to tell you thetruth, I cant remember my father reading anything.
89. "As I say, all he wanted from that manuscript was thestring. That was the way he was. Nobody could predict whathe was going to be interested in next. On the day of thebomb it was string."Have you ever read the speech he made when he accepted theNobel Prize? This is the whole speech: Ladies andGentlemen. I stand before you now because I never stoppeddawdling like an eight-year-old on a spring morning on hisway to school. Anything can make me stop and look andwonder, and sometimes learn. I am a very happy man. Thankyou."Anyway, Father looked at that loop of string for a while,and then his fingers started playing with it. His fingersmade the string figure called a cats cradle. I dontknow where Father learned how to do that. From his father,maybe. His father was a tailor, you know, so there musthave been thread and string around all the time when Fatherwas a boy."Making the cats cradle was the closest I ever saw myfather come to playing what anybody else would call a game.He had no use at all for tricks and games and rules thatother people made up. In a scrapbook my sister Angela usedto keep up, there was a clipping from _Time_ magazine wheresomebody asked Father what games he played for relaxation,and he said, Why should I bother with made-up games whenthere are so many real ones going on?"He must have surprised himself when he made a cats cradleout of the string, and maybe it reminded him of his ownchildhood. He all of a sudden came out of his study and didsomething hed never done before. He tried to play with me.Not only had he never played with me before; he had hardlyever even spoken to me."But he went down on his knees on the carpet next to me,and he showed me his teeth, and he waved that tangle ofstring in my face. See? See? See? he asked. Catscradle. See the cats cradle? See where the nice pussycatsleeps? Meow. Meow."His pores looked as big as craters on the moon. His earsand nostrils were stuffed with hair. Cigar smoke made himsmell like the mouth of Hell. So close up, my father wasthe ugliest thing I had ever seen. I dream about it all thetime."And then he sang. Rockabye catsy, in the tree top; hesang, when the wind blows, the cray-dull will rock. If thebough breaks, the cray-dull will fall. Down will comecraydull, catsy and all."I burst into tears. I jumped up and I ran out of the house
90. as fast as I could go."I have to sign off here. Its after two in the morning. Myroommate just woke up and complained about the noise fromthe typewriter."Bug Fights 6Newt resumed his letter the next morning. He resumed it asfollows:"Next morning. Here I go again, fresh as a daisy aftereight hours of sleep. The fraternity house is very quietnow. Everybody is in class but me. Im a very privilegedcharacter. I dont have to go to class any more. I wasflunked out last week. I was a pre- med. They were right toflunk me out. I would have made a lousy doctor."After I finish this letter, I think Ill go to a movie. Orif the sun comes out, maybe Ill go for a walk through oneof the gorges. Arent the gorges beautiful? This year, twogirls jumped into one holding hands. They didnt get intothe sorority they wanted. They wanted Tri-Delt."But back to August 6, 1945. My sister Angela has told memany times that I really hurt my father that day when Iwouldnt admire the cats cradle, when I wouldnt staythere on the carpet with my father and listen to him sing.Maybe I did hurt him, but I dont think I could have hurthim much. He was one of the best- protected human beingswho ever lived. People couldnt get at him because he justwasnt interested in people. I remember one time, about ayear before he died, I tried to get him to tell mesomething about my mother. He couldnt remember anythingabout her."Did you ever hear the famous story about breakfast on theday Mother and Father were leaving for Sweden to accept theNobel Prize? It was in The Saturday Evening Post one time.Mother cooked a big breakfast. And then, when she clearedoff the table, she found a quarter and a dime and threepennies by Fathers coffee cup. Hed tipped her."After wounding my father so terribly, if thats what Idid, I ran out into the yard. I didnt know where I wasgoing until I found my brother Frank under a big spiraeabush. Frank was twelvethen, and I wasnt surprised to find him under there. Hespent a lot of time under there on hot days. Just like adog, hed make a hollow in the cool earth all around theroots. And you never could tell what Frank would have underthe bush with him. One time he had a dirty book. Anothertime he had a bottle of cooking sherry. On the day theydropped the bomb Frank had a tablespoon and a Mason jar.What he was doing was spooning different kinds of bugs into
91. the jar and making them fight."The bug fight was so interesting that I stopped cryingright away--forgot all about the old man. I cant rememberwhat all Frank had fighting in the jar that day, but I canremember other bug fights we staged later on: one stagbeetle against a hundred red ants, one centipede againstthree spiders, red ants against black ants. They wontfight unless you keep shaking the jar. And thats whatFrank was doing, shaking, shaking, the jar."After a while Angela came looking for me. She lifted upone side of the bush and said, So there you are! Sheasked Frank what he thought he was doing, and he said,Experimenting. Thats what Frank always used to say whenpeople asked him what he thought he was doing. He alwayssaid, Experimenting."Angela was twenty-two then. She had been the real head ofthe family since she was sixteen, since Mother died, sinceI was born. She used to talk about how she had threechildren--me, Frank, and Father. She wasnt exaggerating,either. I can remember cold mornings when Frank, Father,and I would be all in a line in the front hail, and Angelawould be bundling us up, treating us exactly the same. OnlyI was going to kindergarten; Frank was going to juniorhigh; and Father.was going to work on the atom bomb. Iremember one morning like that when the oil burner hadquit, the pipes were frozen, and the car wouldnt start. Weall sat there in the car while Angela kept pushing thestarter until the battery was dead. And then Father spokeup. You know what he said? He said, I wonder aboutturtles. What do you wonder about turtles? Angela askedhim. When they pull in their heads, he said, do theirspines buckle or contract?"Angela was one of the unsung heroines of the atom bomb,incidentally, and I dont think the story has ever beentold. Maybe you can use it. After the turtle incident,Father got so interested in turtles that he stopped workingon the atom bomb. Some people from the Manhattan Projectfinally came out to the house to ask Angela what to do. Shetold them to take away Fathers turtles. So one night theywent into his laboratory and stole the turtles and theaquarium. Father never said a word about the disappearanceof the turtles. He just came to work the next day andlooked for things to play with and think about, andeverything there was to play with and think about hadsomething to do with the bomb."When Angela got me out from under the bush, she asked mewhat had happened between Father and me. I just kept saying
92. over and over again how ugly he was, how much I hated him.So she slapped me. How dare you say that about yourfather? she said. Hes one of the greatest men who everlived! He won the war today! Do you realize that? He wonthe war! She slapped me again."I dont blame Angela for slapping me. Father was all shehad. She didnt have any boy friends. She didnt have anyfriends at all. She had only one hobby. She played theclarinet."I told her again how much I hated my father; she slappedme again; and then Frank came out from under the bush andpunched her in the stomach. It hurt her something awful.She fell down and she rolled around. When she got her windback, she cried and she yelled for Father."He wont come, Frank said, and he laughed at her. Frankwas right. Father stuck his head out a window, and helooked at Angela and me rolling on the ground, bawling, andFrank standing over us, laughing. The old man pulled hishead indoors again, and never asked later what all the fusshad been about. People werent his specialty."Will that do? Is that any help to your book? Of course,youve really tied me down, asking me to stick to the dayof the bomb. There are lots of other good anecdotes aboutthe bomb and Father, from other days. For instance, do youknow the story about Father on the day they first tested abomb out at Alamogordo? After the thing went off, after itwas a sure thing that America could wipe out a city withjust one bomb, a scientist turned to Father and said,Science has now known sin. And do you know what Fathersaid? He said, What is Sin?"All the best, "Newton Hoenikker"The Illustrious Hoenikkers 7Newt added these three postscripts to his letter:"P.S. I cant sign myself Fraternally yours because theywont let me be your brother on account of my grades. I wasonly a pledge, and now they are going to take even thataway from me."P.P.S. You call our family illustrious, and I think youwould maybe be making a mistake if you called it that inyour book. I am a midget, for instance--four feet tall. Andthe last we heard of my brother Frank, he was wanted by theFlorida police, the F.B.I., and the Treasury Department forrunning stolen cars to Cuba on war-surplus L.S.T.s. So Impretty sure illustrious isnt quite the word youreafter. Glamorous is probably closer to the truth."P.P.P.S. Twenty-four hours later. I have reread thisletter and I can see where somebody might get the
93. impression that I dont do anything but sit around andremember sad things and pity myself. Actually, I am a verylucky person and I know it. I am about to marry a wonderfullittle girl. There is love enough in this world foreverybody, if people will just look. I am proof of that."Newts Thing with Zinka 8Newt did not tell me who his girl friend was. But about twoweeks after he wrote to me everybody in the country knewthat her name was Zinka - plain Zinka. Apparently shedidnt have a last name.Zinka was a Ukrainian midget, a dancer with the BorzoiDance Company. As it happened, Newt saw a performance bythat company in Indianapolis, before he went to Cornell.And then the company danced at Cornell. When the Cornellperformance was over, little Newt was outside the stagedoor with a dozen long-stemmed American Beauty roses.The newspapers picked up the story when little Zinka askedfor political asylum in the United States, and then she andlittle Newt disappeared.One week after that, little Zinka presented herself at theRussian Embassy. She said Americans were too materialistic.She said she wanted to go back home.Newt took shelter in his sisters house in Indianapolis. Hegave one brief statement to the press. "It was a privatematter," he said. "It was an affair of the heart. I have noregrets. What happened is nobodys business but Zinkas andmy own."One enterprising American reporter in Moscow, makinginquiries about Zinka among dance people there, made theunkind discovery that Zinka was not, as she claimed, onlytwenty-three years old.She was forty-two--old enough to be Newts mother.Vice-president in Charge of Volcanoes 9I loafed on my book about the day of the bomb.About a year later, two days before Christmas, anotherstory carried me through Ilium, New York, where Dr. FelixHoenikker had done most of his work; where little Newt,Frank, and Angela had spent their formative years.I stopped off in Ilium to see what I could see.There were no live Hoenikkers left in Ilium, but there wereplenty of people who claimed to have known well the old manand his three peculiar children.I made an appointment with Dr. Asa Breed, Vice-president incharge of the Research Laboratory of the General Forge andFoundry Company. I suppose Dr. Breed was a member of my_karass_, too, though he took a dislike to me almostimmediately.
94. "Likes and dislikes have nothing to do with it," saysBokonon--an easy warning to forget."I understand you were Dr. Hoenikkers supervisor duringmost of his professional life," I said to Dr. Breed on thetelephone."On paper," he said. "I dont understand," I said. "If Iactually supervised Felix," he said, "then Im readynow to take charge of volcanoes, the tides, and themigrations of birds and lemmings. The man was a force ofnature no mortal could possibly control."Secret Agent X-9 10Dr. Breed made an appointment with me for early the nextmorning. He would pick me up at my hotel on his way towork, he said, thus simplifying my entry into the heavily-guarded Research Laboratory.So I had a night to kill in Ilium. I was already in thebeginning and end of night life in Ilium, the Del PradoHotel. Its bar, the Cape Cod Room, was a hangout for whores.As it happened--"as it was _meant_ to happen," Bokononwould say--the whore next to me at the bar and thebartender serving •me had both gone to high school withFranklin Hoenikker, the bug tormentor, the middle child,the missing son.The whore, who said her name was Sandra, offered medelights unobtainable outside of Place Pigalle and PortSaid. I said I wasnt interested, and she was bright enoughto say that she wasnt really interested either. As thingsturned out, we had both overestimated our apathies, but notby much.Before we took the measure of each others passions,however, we talked about Frank Hoenikker, and we talkedabout the old man, and we talked a little about Asa Breed,and we talked about the General Forge and Foundry Company,and we talked about the Pope and birth control, aboutHitler and the Jews. We talked about phonies. We talkedabout truth. We talked about gangsters; we talked aboutbusiness. We talked about the nice poor people who went tothe electric chair; and we talked about the rich bastardswho didnt. We talked about religious people who hadperversions. We talked about a lot of things.We got drunk.The bartender was very nice to Sandra. He liked her. Herespected her. He told me that Sandra had been chairman ofthe Class Colors Committee at Ilium High. Every class, heexplained, got to pick distinctive colors for itself in itsjunior year, and then it got to wear those colors withpride.
95. "What colors did you pick?" I asked. "Orange and black.""Those are good colors." "I thought so.""Was Franklin Hoenikker on the Class Colors Committee, too?""He wasnt on anything," said Sandra scornfully. "He nevergot on any committee, never played any game, never took anygirl out. I dont think he ever even talked to a girl. Weused to call him Secret Agent X-9.""X-9?""You know--he was always acting like he was on his waybetween two secret places; couldnt ever talk to anybody.""Maybe he really _did_ have a very rich secret life," Isuggested."Nah.""Nah," sneered the bartender. "He was just one of thosekids who made model airplanes and jerked off all the time."Protein 11"He was suppose to be our commencement speaker," saidSandra. "Who was?" I asked. "Dr. Hoenikker--the old man.""What did he say?""He didnt show up." "So you didnt get a commencementaddress?" "Oh, we got one. Dr. Breed, the one youre gonnaseetomorrow, he showed up, all out of breath, and he gave somekind of talk.""What did he say?""He said he hoped a lot of us would have careers inscience," she said. She didnt see anything funny in that.She was remembering a lesson that had impressed her. Shewas repeating it gropingly, dutifully. "He said, thetrouble with the world was . . ." She had to stop and think."The trouble with the world was," she continuedhesitatingly, "that people were still superstitious insteadof scientific. He said if everybody would study sciencemore, there wouldnt be all the trouble there was.""He said science was going to discover the basic secret oflife someday," the bartender put in. He scratched his headand frowned. "Didnt I read in the paper the other daywhere theyd finally found out what it was?""I missed that," I murmured. "I saw that," said Sandra."About two days ago." "Thats right," said the bartender."What _is_ the secret of life?" I asked. "I forget," saidSandra."Protein," the bartender declared. "They found outsomething about protein.""Yeah," said Sandra, "thats it."End of the World Delight 12An older bartender came over to join in our conversation in
96. the Cape Cod Room of the Del Prado. When he heard that Iwas writing a book about the day of the bomb, he told mewhat the day had been like for him, what the day had beenlike in the very bar in which we sat. He had a W. C. Fieldstwang and a nose like a prize strawberry."It wasnt the Cape Cod Room then," he said. "We didnthave all these fugging nets and seashells around. It wascalled the Navajo Tepee in those days. Had Indian blanketsand cow skulls on the walls. Had little tom-toms on thetables. People were supposed to beat on the tom-toms whenthey wanted service. They tried to get me to wear a warbonnet, but I wouldnt do it. Real Navajo Indian came inhere one day; told me Navajos didnt live in tepees.Thats a fugging shame, I told him. Before that it wasthe Pompeii Room, with busted plaster all over the place;but no matter what they call the room, they never changethe fugging light fixtures. Never changed the fuggingpeople who come in or the fugging town outside, either. Theday they dropped Hoenikkers fugging bomb on the Japanese abum came in and tried to scrounge a drink. He wanted me togive him a drink on account of the world was coming to anend. So I mixed him an End of the World Delight. I gavehim about a half-pint of creme de menthe in a hollowed-outpineapple, with whipped cream and a cherry on top. There,you pitiful son of a bitch, I said to him, dont ever sayI never did anything for you. Another guy came in, and hesaid he was quitting his job at the Research Laboratory;said anything a scientist worked on was sure to wind up asa weapon, one way or another. Said he didnt want to helppoliticians with their fugging wars anymore. Name wasBreed. I asked him if he was any relation to the boss ofthe fugging Research Laboratory. He said he fugging wellwas. Said he was the boss of the Research Laboratorysfugging son."The Jumping-off Place 13Ah, God, what an ugly city Ilium is! "Ah, God," saysBokonon, "what an ugly city every city is!" Sleet wasfalling through a motionless blanket of smog. Itwas early morning. I was riding in the Lincoln sedan of Dr.Asa Breed. I was vaguely ill, still a little drunk from thenight before. Dr. Breed was driving. Tracks of a long-abandoned trolley system kept catching the wheels of hiscar.Breed was a pink old man, very prosperous, beautifullydressed. His manner was civilized, optimistic, capable,serene. I, by contrast, felt bristly, diseased, cynical. Ihad spent the night with Sandra.
97. My soul seemed as foul as smoke from burning cat fur.I thought the worst of everyone, and I knew some prettysordid things about Dr. Asa Breed, things Sandra had toldme.Sandra told me everyone in Ilium was sure that Dr. Breedhad been in love with Felix Hoenikkers wife. She told methat most people thought Breed was the father of all threeHoenikker children."Do you know Ilium at all?" Dr. Breed suddenly asked me."This is my first visit." "Its a family town." "Sir?""There isnt much in the way of night life. Everybodyslife pretty much centers around his family and his home.""That sounds very wholesome." "It is. We have very littlejuvenile delinquency." "Good." "Ilium has a veryinteresting history, you know." "Thats very interesting.""It used to be the jumping-off place, you know." "Sir?""For the Western migration." "Oh." "People used to getoutfitted here." "Thats very interesting.""Just about where the Research Laboratory is now was theold stockade. That was where they held the public hangings,too, for the whole county."now.""I dont suppose crime paid any better then than it does"There was one man they hanged here in 1782 who hadmurdered twenty-six people. Ive often thought somebodyought to do a book about him sometime. George MinorMoakely. He sang a song on the scaffold. He sang a songhed composed for the occasion.""What was the song about?""You can find the words over at the Historical Society, ifyoure really interested.""I just wondered about the general tone." "He wasnt sorryabout anything." "Some people are like that." "Think ofit!" said Dr. Breed. "Twenty-six people he had onhis conscience!" "The mind reels," I said.When Automobiles Had Cut-glass Vases 14My sick head wobbled on my stiff neck. The trolley trackshad caught the wheels of Dr. Breeds glossy Lincoln again.I asked Dr. Breed how many people were trying to reach theGeneral Forge and Foundry Company by eight oclock, and hetold me thirty thousand.Policemen in yellow raincapes were at every intersection,contradicting with their white-gloved hands what the stop-and-go signs said.The stop-and-go signs, garish ghosts in the sleet, wentthrough their irrelevant tomfoolery again and again,telling the glacier of automobiles what to do. Green meant
98. go. Red meant stop. Orange meant change and caution.Dr. Breed told me that Dr. Hoenikker, as a very young man,had simply abandoned his car in Ilium traffic one morning."The police, trying to find out what was holding uptraffic," he said, "found Felixs car in the middle ofeverything, its motorrunning, a cigar burning in the ash tray, fresh flowers inthe vases . . .""Vases?""It was a Marmon, about the size of a switch engine. It hadlittle cut-glass vases on the doorposts, and Felixs wifeused to put fresh flowers in the vases every morning. Andthere that car was in the middle of traffic.""Like the _Marie Celeste_," I suggested."The Police Department hauled it away. They knew whose carit was, and they called up Felix, and they told him verypolitely where his car could be picked up. Felix told themthey could keep it, that he didnt want it any more.""Did they?""No. They called up his wife, and she came and got theMarmon.""What was her name, by the way?""Emily." Dr. Breed licked his lips, and he got a farawaylook, and he said the name of the woman, of the woman solong dead, again. "Emily.""Do you think anybody would object if I used the storyabout the Marmon in my book?" I asked."As long as you dont use the end of it." "The _end_ ofit?" "Emily wasnt used to driving the Marmon. She got intoa badwreck on the way home. It did something to herpelvis . . ." The traffic wasnt moving just then. Dr.Breed closed his eyes and tightened his hands on thesteering wheel."And that was why she died when little Newt was born."Merry Christmas 15The Research Laboratory of the General Forge and FoundryCompany was near the main gate of the companys Iliumworks, about a city block from the executive parking lotwhere Dr. Breed put his car.I asked Dr. Breed how many people worked for the ResearchLaboratory. "Seven hundred," he said, "but less than ahundred are actually doing research. The other six hundredare allhousekeepers in one way or another, and I am the chiefesthousekeeper of all."When we joined the mainstream of mankind in the company
99. street, a woman behind us wished Dr. Breed a merryChristmas. Dr. Breed turned to peer benignly into the seaof pale pies, and identified the greeter as one MissFrancine Pefko. Miss Pefko was twenty, vacantly pretty, andhealthy--a dull normal.In honor of the dulcitude of Christmastime, Dr. Breedinvited Miss Pefko to join us. He introduced her as thesecretary of Dr. Nilsak Horvath. He then told me whoHorvath was. "The famous surface chemist," he said, "theone whos doing such wonderful things with films.""Whats new in surface chemistry?" I asked Miss Pefko."God," she said, "dont ask me. I just type what he tellsme to type." And then she apologized for having said "God.""Oh, I think you understand more than you let on," said Dr.Breed."Not me." Miss Pefko wasnt used to chatting with someoneas important as Dr. Breed and she was embarrassed. Her gaitwas affected, becoming stiff and chickenlike. Her smile wasglassy, and she was ransacking her mind for something tosay, finding nothing in it but used Kleenex and costumejewelry."Well . . . ," rumbled Dr. Breed expansively, "how do youlike us, now that youve been with us--how long? Almost ayear?""You scientists _think_ too much," blurted Miss Pefko. Shelaughed idiotically. Dr. Breeds friendliness had blownevery fuse in her nervous system. She was no longerresponsible. "You _all_ think too much."A winded, defeated-looking fat woman in filthy coverallstrudged beside us, hearing what Miss Pefko said. She turnedto examine Dr. Breed, looking at him with helplessreproach. She hated people who thought too much. At thatmoment, she struck me as an appropriate representative foralmost all mankind.The fat womans expression implied that she would go crazyon the spot if anybody did any more thinking."I think youll find," said Dr. Breed, "that everybody doesabout the same amount of thinking. Scientists simply thinkabout things in one way, and other people think aboutthings in others.""Ech," gurgled Miss Pefko emptily. "I take dictation fromDr. Horvath and its just like a foreign language. I dontthink Id understand--even if I was to go to college. Andhere hes maybe talking about something thats going toturn everything upside- down and inside-out like the atombomb."When I used to come home from school Mother used to ask me
100. what happened that day, and Id tell her," said Miss Pefko."Now I come home from work and she asks me the samequestion, and all Ican say is--" Miss Pefko shook her head and let her crimsonlips flap slackly-- "I dunno, I dunno, I dunno.""If theres something you dont understand," urged Dr.Breed, "ask Dr. Horvath to explain it. Hes very good atexplaining." He turned to me. "Dr. Hoenikker used to saythat any scientist who couldnt explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan.""Then Im dumber than an eight-year-old," Miss Pefkomourned. "I dont even know what a charlatan is."Back to Kindergarten 16We climbed the four granite steps before the ResearchLaboratory. The building itself was of unadorned brick androse six stories. We passed between two heavily-armedguards at the entrance.Miss Pefko showed the guard on the left the pink_confidential_ badge at the tip of her left breast.Dr. Breed showed the guard on the right the black _top-secret_ badge on his soft lapel. Ceremoniously, Dr. Breedput his arm around me without actually touching me,indicating to the guards that I was under his augustprotection and control.I smiled at one of the guards. He did not smile back. Therewas nothing funny about national security, nothing at all.Dr. Breed, Miss Pefko, and I moved thoughtfully through theLaboratorys grand foyer to the elevators."Ask Dr. Horvath to explain something Breed to Miss Pefko."See if you dont get "Hed have to start back in the firstkindergarten," she said. "I missed a lot."sometime," said Dr. a nice, clear answer." grade--or maybeeven"We _all_ missed a lot," Dr. Breed agreed. "Wed _all_ dowell to start over again, preferably with kindergarten."We watched the Laboratorys receptionist turn on the manyeducational exhibits that lined the foyers walls. Thereceptionist was a tall, thin girl--icy, pale. At her crisptouch, lights twinkled, wheels turned, flasks bubbled,bells rang."Magic," declared Miss Pefko."Im sorry to hear a member of the Laboratory family usingthat brackish, medieval word," said Dr. Breed. "Every oneof those exhibits explains itself. Theyre designed so as_not_ to be mystifying. Theyre the very antithesis ofmagic.""The very what of magic?" "The exact opposite of magic."
101. "You couldnt prove it by me." Dr. Breed looked just alittle peeved. "Well," he said, "wedont _want_ to mystify. At least give us credit for that."The Girl Pool 17Dr. Breeds secretary was standing on her desk in his outeroffice tying an accordion-pleated Christmas bell to theceiling fixture."Look here, Naomi," cried Dr. Breed, "weve gone six monthswithout a fatal accident! Dont you spoil it by falling offthe desk!"Miss Naomi Faust was a merry, desiccated old lady. Isuppose she had served Dr. Breed for almost all his life,and her life, too. She laughed. "Im indestructible. And,even if I did fall, Christmas angels would catch me.""Theyve been known to miss."Two paper tendrils, also accordion-pleated, hung down fromthe clapper of the bell. Miss Faust pulled one. It unfoldedstickily and became a long banner with a message written onit. "Here," said Miss Faust, handing the free end to Dr.Breed, "pull it the rest of the way and tack the end to thebulletin board."Dr. Breed obeyed, stepping back to read the bannersmessage. "Peace on Earth!" he read out loud heartily.Miss Faust stepped down from her desk with the othertendril, unfolding it. "Good Will Toward Men!" the othertendril said."By golly," chuckled Dr. Breed, "theyve dehydratedChristmas! The place looks festive, very festive.""And I remembered the chocolate bars for the Girl Pool,too," she said. "Arent you proud of me?"Dr. Breed touched his forehead, dismayed by hisforgetfulness. "Thank God for that! It slipped my mind.""We mustnt ever forget that," said Miss Faust. "Itstradition now--Dr. Breed and his chocolate bars for theGirl Pool at Christmas." She explained to me that the GirlPool was the typing bureau in the Laboratorys basement."The girls belong to anybody with access to a dictaphone."All year long, she said, the girls of the Girl Poollistened to the faceless voices of scientists on dictaphonerecords-- records brought in by mail girls. Once a year thegirls left their cloister of cement block to go a-caroling--to get their chocolate bars from Dr. Asa Breed."They serve science, too," Dr. Breed testified, "eventhough they may not understand a word of it. God blessthem, every one!"The Most Valuable Commodity on Earth 18When we got into Dr. Breeds inner office, I attempted to
102. put my thoughts in order for a sensible interview. I foundthat my mental health had not improved. And, when I startedto ask Dr. Breed questions about the day of the bomb, Ifound that the public-relations centers of my brain hadbeen suffocated by booze and burning cat fur. Everyquestion I asked implied that the creators of the atomicbomb had been criminal accessories to murder most foul.Dr. Breed was astonished, and then he got very sore. Hedrew back from me and he grumbled, "I gather you dont likescientists very much.""I wouldnt say that, sir.""All your questions seem aimed at getting me to admit thatscientists are heartless, conscienceless, narrow boobies,indifferent to the fate of the rest of the human race, ormaybe not really members of the human race at all.""Thats putting it pretty strong.""No stronger that what youre going to put in your book,apparently. I thought that what you were after was a fair,objective biography of Felix Hoenikker--certainly assignificant a task as a young writer could assign himselfin this day and age. But no, you come here withpreconceived notions, about madscientists. Where did you ever get such ideas? From thefunny papers?""From Dr. Hoenikkers son, to name one source." "Whichson?" "Newton," I said. I had little Newts letter with me,and Ishowed it to him. "How small is Newt, by the way?" "Nobigger than an umbrella stand," said Dr. Breed, readingNewts letter and frowning. "The other two children arenormal?" "Of course! I hate to disappoint you, butscientists havechildren just like anybody elses children." I did my bestto calm down Dr. Breed, to convince him that Iwas really interested in an accurate portrait of Dr.Hoenikker. "Ive come here with no other purpose than toset down exactly what you tell me about Dr. Hoenikker.Newts letter was just a beginning, and Ill balance offagainst it whatever you can tell me.""Im sick of people misunderstanding what a scientist is,what a scientist does.""Ill do my best to clear up the misunderstanding.""In this country most people dont even understand whatpure research is.""Id appreciate it if youd tell me what it is.""It isnt looking for a better cigarette filter or a softerface tissue or a longer-lasting house paint, God help us.
103. Everybody talks about research and practically nobody inthis countrys doing it. Were one of the few companiesthat actually hires men to do pure research. When mostother companies brag about their research, theyre talkingabout industrial hack technicians who wear white coats,work out of cookbooks, and dream up an improved windshieldwiper for next years Oldsmobile.""But here . . . ?""Here, and shockingly few other places in this country, menare paid to increase knowledge, to work toward no end butthat.""Thats very generous of General Forge and Foundry Company.""Nothing generous about it. New knowledge is the mostvaluable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to workwith, the richer we become."Had I been a Bokononist then, that statement would havemade me howl.No More Mud 19"Do you mean," I said to Dr. Breed, "that nobody in thisLaboratory is ever told what to work on? Nobody even_suggests_ what they work on?""People suggest things all the time, but it isnt in thenature of a pure-research man to pay any attention tosuggestions. His head is full of projects of his own, andthats the way we want it.""Did anybody ever try to suggest projects to Dr. Hoenikker?""Certainly. Admirals and generals in particular. Theylooked upon him as a sort of magician who could makeAmerica invincible with a wave of his wand. They broughtall kinds of crackpot schemes up here--still do. The onlything wrong with the schemes is that, given our presentstate of knowledge, the schemes wont work. Scientists onthe order of Dr. Hoenikker are supposed to fill the littlegaps. I remember, shortly before Felix died, there was aMarine general who was hounding him to do something aboutmud.""Mud?""The Marines, after almost two-hundred years of wallowingin mud, were sick of it," said Dr. Breed. "The general, astheir spokesman, felt that one of the aspects of progressshould be that Marines no longer had to fight in mud.""What did the general have in mind?" "The absence of mud.No more mud." "I suppose," I theorized, "it might bepossible withmountains of some sort of chemical, or tons of some sort ofmachinery . . .""What the general had in mind was a little pill or a little
104. machine. Not only were the Marines sick of mud, they weresick of carrying cumbersome objects. They wanted something_little_ to carry for a change.""What did Dr. Hoenikker say?""In his playful way, and _all_ his ways were playful, Felixsuggested that there might be a single grain of something--even a microscopic grain--that could make infinite expansesof muck, marsh, swamp, creeks, pools, quicksand, and mireas solid as this desk."Dr. Breed banged his speckled old fist on the desk. Thedesk was a kidney-shaped, sea green steel affair. "OneMarine could carry more than enough of the stuff to free anarmored division bogged down in the everglades. Accordingto Felix, one Marinecould carry enough of the stuff to do that under the nailof his little finger.""Thats impossible.""You would say so, I would say so--practically everybodywould say so. To Felix, in his playful way, it was entirelypossible. The miracle of Felix--and I sincerely hope youllput this in your book somewhere--was that he alwaysapproached old puzzles as though they were brand new.""I feel like Francine Pefko now," I said, "and all thegirls in the Girl Pool, too. Dr. Hoenikker could never haveexplained to me how something that could be carried under afingernail could make a swamp as solid as your desk.""I told you what a good explainer Felix was . . ." "Even so. . ." "He was able to explain it to me," said Dr. Breed,"and Imsure I can explain it to you. The puzzle is how to getMarines out of the mud--right?""Right." "All right," said Dr. Breed, "listen carefully.Here we go."Ice-nine 20"There are several ways," Dr. Breed said to me, "in whichcertain liquids can crystallize--can freeze--several waysin which their atoms can stack and lock in an orderly,rigid way."That old man with spotted hands invited me to think of theseveral ways in which cannonballs might be stacked on acourthouse lawn, of the several ways in which oranges mightbe packed into a crate."So it is with atoms in crystals, too; and two differentcrystals of the same substance can have quite differentphysical properties."He told me about a factory that had been growing bigcrystals of ethylene diamine tartrate. The crystals were
105. useful in certain manufacturing operations, he said. Butone day the factory discovered that the crystals it wasgrowing no longer had the properties desired. The atoms hadbegun to stack and lock--to freeze--in different fashion.The liquid that was crystallizinghadnt changed, but the crystals it was forming were, asfar as industrial applications went, pure junk.How this had come about was a mystery. The theoreticalvillain, however, was what Dr. Breed called "a seed." Hemeant by that a tiny grain of the undesired crystalpattern. The seed, which had come from God-only-knows-where, taught the atoms the novel way in which to stack andlock, to crystallize, to freeze."Now think about cannonballs on a courthouse lawn or aboutoranges in a crate again," he suggested. And he helped meto see that the pattern of the bottom layers of cannonballsor of oranges determined how each subsequent layer wouldstack and lock. "The bottom layer is the seed of how everycannonball or every orange that comes after is going tobehave, even to an infinite number of cannonballs ororanges.""Now suppose," chortled Dr. Breed, enjoying himself, "thatthere were many possible .ways in which water couldcrystallize, could freeze. Suppose that the sort of ice weskate upon and put into highballs--what we might call _ice-one_--is only one of several types of ice. Suppose wateralways froze as _ice-one_ on Earth because it had never hada seed to teach it how to form _ice-two_, _ice-three_,_ice-four_ . . . ? And suppose," he rapped on his desk withhis old hand again, "that there were one form, which wewill call _ice-nine_--a crystal as hard as this desk-- witha melting point of, let us say, one-hundred degreesFahrenheit, or, better still, a melting point of one-hundred-and- thirty degrees.""All right, Im still with you," I said.Dr. Breed was interrupted by whispers in his outer office,whispers loud and portentous. They were the sounds of theGirl Pool.The girls were preparing to sing in the outer office.And they did sing, as Dr. Breed and I appeared in thedoorway. Each of about a hundred girls had made herselfinto a choirgirl by putting on a collar of white bondpaper, secured by a paper clip. They sang beautifully.I was surprised and mawkishly heartbroken. I am alwaysmoved by that seldom-used treasure, the sweetness withwhich most girls can sing.The girls sang "O Little Town of Bethlehem." I am not
106. likely to forget very soon their interpretation of the line:"The hopes and fears of all the years are here with ustonight."The Marines March On 21When old Dr. Breed, with the help of Miss Faust, had passedout the Christmas chocolate bars to the girls, we returnedto his office.There, he said to me, "Where were we? Oh yes!" And that oldman asked me to think of United States Marines in aGodforsaken swamp."Their trucks and tanks and howitzers are wallowing," hecomplained, "sinking in stinking miasma and ooze."He raised a finger and winked at me. "But suppose, youngman, that one Marine had with him a tiny capsule containinga seed of _ice-nine_, a new way for the atoms of water tostack and lock, to freeze. If that Marine threw that seedinto the nearest puddle . . .""The puddle would freeze?" I guessed. "And all the muckaround the puddle?" "It would freeze?" "And all the puddlesin the frozen muck?" "They would freeze?""And the pools and the streams in the frozen muck?" "Theywould freeze?" "You _bet_ they would!" he cried. "And theUnited StatesMarines would rise from the swamp and march on!"Member of the Yellow Press 22"There _is_ such stuff?" I asked."No, no, no, no," said Dr. Breed, losing patience with meagain. "I only told you all this in order to give you someinsight into the extraordinary novelty of the ways in whichFelix was likely to approach an old problem. What Ive justtold you is what he told the Marine general who washounding him about mud."Felix ate alone here in the cafeteria every day. It was arule that no one was to sit with him, to interrupt hischain of thought. But the Marine general barged in, pulledup a chair, and started talking about mud. What Ive toldyou was Felixs offhand reply.""There--there really _isnt_ such a thing?""I just told you there wasnt!" cried Dr. Breed hotly."Felix died shortly after that! And, if youd beenlistening to what Ive been trying to tell you about pureresearch men, you wouldnt ask such a question! Pureresearch men work on what fascinates them, not on whatfascinates other people.""I keep thinking about that swamp . . .""You can _stop_ thinking about it! Ive made the only pointI wanted to make with the swamp."
107. "If the streams flowing through the swamp froze as _ice-nine_, what about the rivers and lakes the streams fed?""Theyd freeze. But there is no such thing as _ice-nine_.""And the oceans the frozen rivers fed?" "Theyd freeze, ofcourse," he snapped. "I suppose youregoing to rush to market with a sensational story about_ice-nine_ now. I tell you again, it does not exist!""And the springs feeding the frozen lakes and streams, andall the water underground feeding the springs?""Theyd freeze, damn it!" he cried. "But if I had knownthat you were a member of the yellow press," he saidgrandly, rising to his feet, "I wouldnt have wasted aminute with you!""And the rain?" "When it fell, it would freeze into hardlittle hobnails of_ice-nine_--and that would be the the interview, too! Good-bye!"The Last Batch of Brownies 23Dr. Breed was mistaken about such a thing as _ice-nine_.And _ice-nine_ was on earth.end of the world! And the end ofat least one thing: there was_Ice-nine_ was the last gift mankind before going to hisjust reward.Felix Hoenikker created forHe did it without anyones realizing what he was doing. Hedid it without leaving records of what hed done.True, elaborate apparatus was necessary in the act ofcreation, but it already existed in the ResearchLaboratory. Dr. Hoenikker had only to go calling onLaboratory neighbors-- borrowing this and that, making awinsome neighborhood nuisance of himself--until, so tospeak, he had baked his last batch of brownies.He had made a chip of _ice-nine_. It was blue-white. It hada melting point of one-hundred-fourteen-point-four-degreesFahrenheit.Felix Hoenikker had put the chip in a little bottle; and heput the bottle in his jacket. And he had gone to hiscottage on Cape Cod with his three children, thereintending to celebrate Christmas.Angela had been thirty-four. Frank had been twenty-four.Little Newt had been eighteen.The old man had died on Christmas Eve, having told only hischildren about _ice-nine_.His children had divided the _ice-nine_ among themselves.What a Wampeter Is 24Which brings me to the Bokononist concept of a _wampeter_.
108. A _wampeter_ is the pivot of a _karass_. No _karass_ iswithout a _wampeter_, Bokonon tells us, just as no wheel iswithout a hub.Anything can be a _wampeter_: a tree, a rock, an animal, anidea, a book, a melody, the Holy Grail. Whatever it is, themembers of its _karass_ revolve about it in the majesticchaos of a spiral nebula. The orbits of the members of a_karass_ about their common _wampeter_ are spiritualorbits, naturally. It is souls and not bodies that revolve.As Bokonon invites us to sing:Around and around and around we spin, With feet of lead andwings of tin.And _wampeters_ come and _wampeters_ go, Bokonon tells us.At any given time a _karass_ actually has two _wampeters_--one waxing in importance, one waning.And I am almost certain that while I was talking to Dr.Breed in Ilium, the _wampeter_ of my _karass_ that was justcoming into bloom was that crystalline form of water, thatblue-white gem, that seed of doom called _ice-nine_.While I was talking to Dr. Breed in Ilium, Angela,Franklin, and Newton Hoenikker had in their possessionseeds of _ice-nine_, seeds grown from their fathers seed--chips, in a manner of speaking, off the old block.What was to become of those three chips was, I amconvinced, a principal concern of my _karass_.The Main Thing About Dr. Hoenikker 25So much, for now, for the _wampeter_ of my _karass_.After my unpleasant interview with Dr. Breed in theResearch Laboratory of the General Forge and FoundryCompany, I was put into the hands of Miss Faust. Her orderswere to show me to the door. I prevailed upon her, however,to show me the laboratory of the late Dr Hoenikker first.En route, I asked her how well she had known Dr. Hoenikker.She gave me a frank and interesting reply, and a piquantsmile to go with it."I dont think he was knowable. I mean, when most peopietalk about knowing somebody a lot or a little, theyretalking about secrets theyve been told or havent beentold. Theyre talking about intimate things, family things,love things," that nice old lady said to me. "Dr. Hoenikkerhad all those things in his life, the way every livingperson has to, but they werent the main things with him.""What _were_ the main things?" I asked her."Dr. Breed keeps telling me the main thing with Dr.Hoenikker was truth.""You dont seem to agree.""I dont know whether I agree or not. I just have trouble
109. understanding how truth, all by itself, could be enough fora person."Miss Faust was ripe for Bokononism.What God Is 26"Did you ever talk to Dr. Hoenikker?" I asked Miss Faust."Oh, certainly. I talked to him a lot." "Do anyconversations stick in your mind?" "There was one where hebet I couldnt tell him anything thatwas absolutely true. So I said to him, God is love." "Andwhat did he say?" "He said, What is God? What is love?""Um.""But God really _is_ love, you know," said Miss Faust, "nomatter what Dr. Hoenikker said."Men from Mars 27The room that had been the laboratory of Dr. FelixHoenikker was on the sixth floor, the top floor of thebuilding.A purple cord had been stretched across the doorway, and abrass plate on the wall explained why the room was sacred:IN THIS ROOM, DR. FELIX HOENIKKER, NOBEL LAUREATE INPHYSICS, SPENT THE LAST TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS OF HIS LIFE."WHERE HE WAS, THERE WAS THE FRONTIER OF KNOWLEDGE."THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS ONE MAN IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND ISINCALCULABLE.Miss Faust offered to unshackle the purple cord for me sothat I might go inside and traffic more intimately withwhatever ghosts there were.I accepted."Its just as he left it," she said, "except that therewere rubber bands all over one counter.""Rubber bands?" "Dont ask me what for. Dont ask me whatany of all this isfor."The old man had left the laboratory a mess. What engaged myattention at once was the quantity of cheap toys lyingaround. There was a paper kite with a broken spine. Therewas a toy gyroscope, wound with string, ready to whirr andbalance itself. There was a top. There was a bubble pipe.There was a fish bowl with a castle and two turtles in it."He loved ten-cent stores," said Miss Faust. "I can see hedid." "Some of his most famous experiments were performedwithequipment that cost less than a dollar." "A penny saved isa penny earned." There were numerous pieces of conventionallaboratoryequipment, too, of course, but they seemed drab accessoriesto the cheap, gay toys.
110. Dr. Hoenikkers desk was piled with correspondence."I dont think he ever answered a letter," mused MissFaust. "People had to get him on the telephone or come tosee him if they wanted an answer."There was a framed photograph on his desk. Its back wastoward me and I ventured a guess as to whose picture itwas. "His wife?""No." "One of his children?" "No." "Himself?" "No." So Itook a look. I found that the picture was of an humblelittle war memorial in front of a small-town courthouse.Part of the memorial was a sign that gave the names ofthose villagers who had died in various wars, and I thoughtthat the sign must be the reason for the photograph. Icould read the names, and I half expected to find the nameHoenikker among them. It wasnt there."That was one of his hobbies," said Miss Faust. "What was?""Photographing how cannonballs are stacked on differentcourthouse lawns. Apparently how theyve got them stackedpicture is very unusual.""I see." "He was an unusual man." "I agree." "Maybe in amillion years everybody will be as smartwas and see things the way he did. But, compared with theperson of today, he was as different as a man from Mars.""Maybe he really _was_ a Martian," I suggested.in thatas he average"That would certainly go a long way toward explaining histhree strange kids."Mayonnaise 28While Miss Faust and I waited for an elevator to take us tothe first floor, Miss Faust said she hoped the elevatorthat came would not be number five. Before I could ask herwhy this was a reasonable wish, number five arrived.Its operator was a small ancient Negro whose name was LymanEnders Knowles. Knowles was insane, Im almost sure--offensively so, in that he grabbed his own behind andcried, "Yes, yes!" whenever he felt that hed made a point."Hello, fellow anthropoids and lily pads and paddlewheels,"he said to Miss Faust and me. "Yes, yes!""First floor, please," said Miss Faust coldly.All Knowles had to do to close the door and get us to thefirst floor was to press a button, but he wasnt going todo that yet. He wasnt going to do it, maybe, for years."Man told me," he said, "that these here elevators wasMayan architecture. I never knew that till today. And Isays to him, Whats that make me--mayonnaise? Yes, yes!And while he was thinking that over, I hit him with a
111. question that straightened him up and made him think twiceas hard! Yes, yes!""Could we please go down, Mr. Knowles?" begged Miss Faust."I said to him," said Knowles, "This heres a _re_-searchlaboratory. _Re_-search means _look again_, dont it? Meanstheyre looking for something they found once and it gotawaysomehow, and now they got to _re_-search for it? How comethey got to build a building like this, with mayonnaiseelevators and all, and fill it with all these crazy people?What is it theyre trying to find again? Who lost what?Yes, yes!""Thats very interesting," sighed Miss Faust. "Now, couldwe go down?""Only way we _can_ go is down," barked Knowles. "Thisheres the top. You ask me to go up and wouldnt be a thingI could do for you. Yes, yes!""So lets go down," said Miss Faust."Very soon now. This gentleman here been paying hisrespects to Dr. Hoenikker?""Yes," I said. "Did you know him?" "_Intimately_," he said."You know what I said when he died?" "No." "I said, Dr.Hoenikker--he aint dead." "Oh?" "Just entered a newdimension. Yes, yes!" He punched abutton, and down we went. "Did you know the Hoenikkerchildren?" I asked him. "Babies full of rabies," he said."Yes, yes!"Gone, but Not Forgotten 29There was one more thing I wanted to do in Ilium. I wantedto get a photograph of the old mans tomb. So I went backto my room, found Sandra gone, picked up my camera, hired acab.Sleet was still coming down, acid and gray. I thought theold mans tombstone in all that sleet might photographpretty well, might even make a good picture for the jacketof _The Day the World Ended_.The custodian at the cemetery gate told me how to find theHoenikker burial plot. "Cant miss it," he said. "Its gotthe biggest marker in the place."He did not lie. The marker was an alabaster phallus twentyfeet high and three feet thick. It was plastered with sleet."By God," I exclaimed, getting out of the cab with mycamera, "hows that for a suitable memorial to a father ofthe atom bomb?" I laughed.I asked the driver if hed mind standing by the monument inorder to give some idea of scale. And then I asked him towipe away some of the sleet so the name of the deceased
112. would show.He did so.And there on the shaft in letters six inches high, so helpme God, was the word:MOTHEROnly Sleeping 30"Mother?" asked the driver, incredulously. I wiped awaymore sleet and uncovered this poem:Mother, Mother, how I pray For you to guard us every day.--Angela Hoenikker And under this poem was yet another;You are not dead, But only sleeping. We should smile, Andstop our weeping.--Franklin HoenikkerAnd underneath this, inset in the shaft, was a square ofcement bearing the imprint of an infants hand. Beneath theimprint were the words:Baby Newt."If thats Mother," said the driver, "what in hell couldthey have raised over Father?" He made an obscenesuggestion as to what the appropriate marker might be.We found Father close by. His memorial--as specified in hiswill, I later discovered--was a marble cube fortycentimeters on each side."FATHER," it said.Another Breed 31As we were leaving the cemetery the driver of the cabworried about the condition of his own mothers grave. Heasked if I would mind taking a short detour to look at it.It was a pathetic little stone that marked his mother-- notthat it mattered.And the driver asked me if I would mind another briefdetour, this time to a tombstone salesroom across thestreet from the cemetery.I wasnt a Bokononist then, so I agreed with somepeevishness. As a Bokononist, of course, I would haveagreed gaily to go anywhere anyone suggested. As Bokononsays: "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons fromGod."The name of the tombstone establishment was Avram Breed andSons. As the driver talked to the salesman I wandered amongthe monuments--blank monuments, monuments in memory ofnothing so far.I found a little institutional joke in the showroom: over astone angel hung mistletoe. Cedar boughs were heaped on herpedestal, and around her marble throat was a necklace ofChristmas tree lamps."How much for her?" I asked the salesman.
113. "Not for sale. Shes a hundred years old. Mygreatgrandfather, Avram Breed, carved her.""This business is that old?" "Thats right.""And youre a Breed?" "The fourth generation in thislocation." "Any relation to Dr. Asa Breed, the director ofthe ResearchLaboratory?" "His brother." He said his name was MarvinBreed. "Its a small world," I observed. "When you put itin a cemetery, it is." Marvin Breed was asleek and vulgar, a smart and sentimental man.Dynamite Money 32"I just came from your brothers office. Im a writer. Iwas interviewing him about Dr. Hoenikker," I said to MarvinBreed."There was one queer son of a bitch. Not my brother; I meanHoenikker.""Did you sell him that monument for his wife?""I sold his kids that. He didnt have anything to do withit. He never got around to putting any kind of marker onher grave. And then, after shed been dead for a year ormore, Hoenikkers three kids came in here--the big tallgirl, the boy, and the little baby. They wanted the biggeststone money could buy, and the two older ones had poemstheyd written. They wanted the poems on the stone."You can laugh at that stone, if you want to," said MarvinBreed, "but those kids got more consolation out of thatthan anything else money could have bought. They used tocome and look at it and put flowers on it I-dont-know-how-many-times a year.""It must have cost a lot.""Nobel Prize money bought it. Two things that money bought:a cottage on Cape Cod and that monument.""Dynamite money," I marveled, thinking of the violence ofdynamite and the absolute repose of a tombstone and asummer home."What?" "Nobel invented dynamite." "Well, I guess it takesall kinds . . ." Had I been a Bokononist then, ponderingthe miraculouslyintricate chain of events that had brought dynamite moneyto thatparticular tombstone company, I might have whispered,"Busy, busy, busy."_Busy, busy, busy_, is what we Bokononists whisper wheneverwe think of how complicated and unpredictable the lifereally is.But all I could say as a Christian then was, funnysometimes."
114. "And sometimes it isnt," said Marvin Breed.An Ungrateful Man 33machinery of "Life is sureI asked Marvin Breed if hed known Emily Hoenikker, thewife of Felix; the mother of Angela, Frank, and Newt; thewoman under that monstrous shaft."Know her?" His voice turned tragic. "Did I _know_ her,mister? Sure, I knew her. I knew Emily. We went to IliumHigh together. We were co-chairmen of the Class ColorsCommittee then. Her father owned the Ilium Music Store. Shecould play every musical instrument there was. I fell sohard for her I gave up football and tried to play theviolin. And then my big brother Asa came home for springvacation from M.I.T., and I made the mistake of introducinghim to my best girl." Marvin Breed snapped his fingers."He took her away from me just like that. I smashed up myseventy-five-dollar violin on a big brass knob at the footof my bed, and I went down to a florist shop and got thekind of box they put a dozen roses in, and I put the bustedfiddle in the box, and I sent it to her by Western Unionmessenger boy.""Pretty, was she?""Pretty?" he echoed. "Mister, when I see my first ladyangel, if God ever sees fit to show me one, itll be herwings and not her face thatll make my mouth fall open.Ive already seen the prettiest face that ever could be.There wasnt a man in Ilium County who wasnt in love withher, secretly or otherwise. She could have had any man shewanted." He spit on his own floor. "And she had to go andmarry that little Dutch son of a bitch! She was engaged tomy brother, and then that sneaky little bastard hit town."Marvin Breed snapped his fingers again. "He took her awayfrom my big brother like that."I suppose its high treason and ungrateful and ignorantand backward and anti-intellectual to call a dead man asfamous as Felix Hoenikker a son of a bitch. I know allabout how harmless and gentle and dreamy he was supposed tobe, how hed never hurt a fly, how he didnt care aboutmoney and power and fancy clothes and automobiles andthings, how he wasnt like the rest of us, how he wasbetter than the rest of us, how he was so innocent he waspractically a Jesus--except for the Son of God part. .Marvin Breed felt it was unnecessary to complete histhought. I had to ask him to do it."But what?" he said. "But what?" He went to a windowlooking out at the cemetery gate. "But what," he murmuredat the gate and the sleet and the Hoenikker shaft that
115. could be dimly seen."But," he said, "but how the hell innocent is a man whohelps make a thing like an atomic bomb? And how can you saya man had a good mind when he couldnt even bother to doanything when the best-hearted, most beautiful woman in theworld, his own wife, was dying for lack of love andunderstanding . . ."He shuddered, "Sometimes I wonder if he wasnt born dead. Inever met a man who was less interested in the living.Sometimes I think thats the trouble with the world: toomany people in high places who are stone-cold dead."Vin-dit 34It was in the tombstone salesroom that I had my first _vin-dit_, a Bokononist word meaning a sudden, very personalshove in the direction of Bokononism, in the direction ofbelieving that God Almighty knew all about me, after all,that God Almighty had some pretty elaborate plans for me.The _vin-dit_ had to do with the stone angel under themistletoe. The cab driver had gotten it into his head thathe had to have that angel for his mothers grave at anyprice. He was standing in front of it with tears in hiseyes.Marvin Breed was still staring out the window at thecemetery gate, having just said his piece about FelixHoenikker. "The little Dutch son of a bitch may have been amodern holy man," headded, "But Goddamn if he ever did anything he didnt wantto, and Goddamn if he didnt get everything he ever wanted."Music," he said. "Pardon me?" I asked. "Thats why shemarried him. She said his mind was tuned tothe biggest music there was, the music of the stars." Heshook his head. "Crap."And then the gate reminded him of the last time hed seenFrank Hoenikker, the model-maker, the tormentor of bugs injars. "Frank," he said."What about him?""The last I saw of that poor, queer kid was when he cameout through that cemetery gate. His fathers funeral wasstill going on. The old man wasnt underground yet, and outthrough the gate came Frank. He raised his thumb at thefirst car that came by. It was a new Pontiac with a Floridalicense plate. It stopped. Frank got in it, and that wasthe last anybody in Ilium ever saw of him.""I hear hes wanted by the police.""That was an accident, a freak. Frank wasnt any criminal.He didnt have that kind of nerve. The only work he was anygood at was model-making. The only job he ever held onto
116. was at Jacks Hobby Shop, selling models, making models,giving people advice on how to make models. When he clearedout of here, went to Florida, he got a job in a model shopin Sarasota. Turned out the model shop was a front for aring that stole Cadillacs, ran em straight on board oldL.S.T.s and shipped em to Cuba. Thats how Frank gotballed up in all that. I expect the reason the cops haventfound him is hes dead. He just heard too much while he wassticking turrets on the battleship _Missouri_ with DucoCement.""Wheres Newt now, do you know?""Guess hes with his sister in Indianapolis. Last I heardwas he got mixed up with that Russian midget and flunkedout of pre- med at Cornell. Can you imagine a midget tryingto become a doctor? And, in that same miserable family,theres that great big, gawky girl, over six feet tall.That man, whos so famous for having a great mind, hepulled that girl out of high school in her sophomore yearso he could go on having some woman take care of him. Allshe had going for her was the clarinet shed played in theIlium High School band, the Marching Hundred."After she left school," said Breed, "nobody out. Shedidnt have any friends, and the old man thought to giveher any money to go anywhere. You used to do?""Nope."ever asked her never even know what she"Every so often at night shed lock herself in her room andshed play records, and shed play along with the recordson herclarinet. The miracle of this age, as far as Im concerned,is that that woman ever got herself a husband.""How much do you want for this angel?" asked the cabdriver. "Ive told you, its not for sale." "I dontsuppose theres anybody around who can do that kindof stone cutting any more," I observed. "Ive got a nephewwho can," said Breed. "Asas boy. He wasall set to be a heap-big _re_-search scientist, and thenthey dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and the kid quit, and hegot drunk, and he came out here, and he told me he wantedto go to work cutting stone.""He works here now?" "Hes a sculptor in Rome." "Ifsomebody offered you enough," said the driver, "youdtake it, wouldnt you?" "Might. But it would take a lot ofmoney." "Where would you put the name on a thing likethat?" askedthe driver. "Theres already a name on it--on thepedestal." We couldnt
117. see the name, because of the boughs banked against thepedestal. "It was never called for?" I wanted to know. "Itwas never _paid_ for. The way the story goes: this Germanimmigrant was on his way West with his wife, and she diedof smallpox here in Ilium. So he ordered this angel to beput up over her, and he showed my great-grandfather he hadthe cash to pay for it. But then he was robbed. Somebodytook practically every cent he had. All he had left in thisworld was some land hed bought in Indiana, land hed neverseen. So he moved on--said hed be back later to pay forthe angel.""But he never came back?" I asked."Nope." Marvin Breed nudged some of the boughs aside withhis toe so that we could see the raised letters on thepedestal. There was a last name written there. "Theres ascrewy name for you," he said. "If that immigrant had anydescendants, I expect they Americanized the name. Theyreprobably Jones or Black or Thompson now.""There youre wrong," I murmured.The room seemed to tip, and its walls and ceiling and floorwere transformed momentarily into the mouths of manytunnels-- tunnels leading in all directions through time. Ihad a Bokononist vision of the unity in every second of alltime and all wandering mankind, all wandering womankind,all wandering children."There youre wrong," I said, when the vision was gone."You know some people by that name?" "Yes." The name was mylast name, too.Hobby Shop 35On the way back to the hotel I caught sight of Jacks HobbyShop, the place where Franklin Hoenikker had worked. I toldthe cab driver to stop and wait.I went in and found Jack himself presiding over his teeny-weeny fire engines, railroad trains, airplanes, boats,houses, lampposts, trees, tanks, rockets, automobiles,porters, conductors, policemen, firemen, mommies, daddies,cats, dogs, chickens, soldiers, ducks, and cows. He was acadaverous man, a serious man, a dirty man, and he cougheda lot."What kind of a boy was Franklin Hoenikker?" he echoed, andhe coughed and coughed. He shook his head, and he showed methat he adored Frank as much as hed ever adored anybody."That isnt a question I have to answer with words. I can_show_ you what kind of a boy Franklin Hoenikker was." Hecoughed. "You can look," he said, "and you can judge foryourself."And he took me down into the basement of his store. He
118. lived down there. There was a double bed and a dresser anda hot plate.Jack apologized for the unmade bed. "My wife left me a weekago." He coughed. "Im still trying to pull the strings ofmy life back together."And then he turned on a switch, and the far end of thebasement was filled with a blinding light.We approached the light and found that it was sunshine to afantastic little country build on plywood, an island asperfectly rectangular as a township in Kansas. Any restlesssoul, any soul seeking to find what lay beyond its greenboundaries, really would fall off the edge of the world.The details were so exquisitely in scale, so cunninglytextured and tinted, that it was unnecessary for me tosquint in order to believe that the nation was real--thehills, the lakes, the rivers, the forests, the towns, andall else that good natives everywhere hold so dear.And everywhere ran a spaghetti pattern of railroad tracks."Look at the doors of the houses," said Jack reverently."Neat. Keen.""Theyve got real knobs on em, and the knockers reallywork.""God.""You ask what kind of a boy Franklin Hoenikker was; hebuilt this." Jack choked up."All by himself?""Oh, I helped some, but anything I did was according to hisplans. That kid was a genius.""How could anybody argue with you?" "His kid brother was amidget, you know." "I know." "He did some of the solderingunderneath." "It sure looks real." "It wasnt easy, and itwasnt done overnight, either." "Rome wasnt built in aday." "That kid didnt have any home life, you know." "Iveheard." "This was his real home. Thousands of hours hespent downhere. Sometimes he wouldnt even run the trains; just sitand look, the way were doing.""Theres a lot to see. Its practically like a trip toEurope, there are so many things to see, if you look close.""Hed see things you and I wouldnt see. Hed all of asudden tear down a hill that would look just as real as anyhill you ever saw--to you and me. And hed be right, too.Hed put a lake where that hill had been and a trestle overthe lake, and it would look ten times as good as it didbefore.""It isnt a talent everybody has.""Thats right!" said Jack passionately. The passion cost
119. him another coughing fit. When the fit was over, his eyeswere watering copiously. "Listen, I told that kid he shouldgo to college and study some engineering so he could go towork for American Flyer or somebody like that--somebodybig, somebody whod really back all the ideas he had.""Looks to me as if you backed him a good deal.""Wish I had, wish I could have," mourned Jack. "I didnthave the capital. I gave him stuff whenever I could, butmost of this stuff he bought out of what he earned workingupstairs for me. He didnt spend a dime on anything butthis--didnt drink, didnt smoke, didnt go to movies,didnt go out with girls, wasnt car crazy.""This country could certainly use a few more of those."Jack shrugged. "Well . . . I guess the Florida gangstersgot him. Afraid hed talk.""Guess they did."Jack suddenly broke down and cried. "I wonder if thosedirty sons of bitches," he sobbed, "have any idea what itwas they killed!"Meow 36During my trip to Ilium and to points beyond--a two-weekexpedition bridging Christmas--I let a poor poet namedSherman Krebbs have my New York City apartment free. Mysecond wife had left me on the grounds that I was toopessimistic for an optimist to live with.Krebbs was a bearded man, a platinum blond Jesus withspaniel eyes. He was no close friend of mine. I had met himat a cocktail party where he presented himself as NationalChairman of Poets and Painters for Immediate Nuclear War.He begged for shelter, not necessarily bomb proof, and ithappened that I had some.When I returned to my apartment, still twanging with thepuzzling spiritual implications of the unclaimed stoneangel in Ilium, I found my apartment wrecked by anihilistic debauch. Krebbs was gone; but, before leaving,he had run up three-hundred- dollars worth of long-distance calls, set my couch on fire in five places, killedmy cat and my avocado tree, and torn the door off mymedicine cabinet.He wrote this poem, in what proved to be excrement, on theyellow linoleum floor of my kitchen:I have a kitchen. But it is not a complete kitchen. I willnot be truly gay Until I have a Dispose-all.There was another message, written in lipstick in afeminine hand on the wallpaper over my bed. It said: "No,no, no, said Chicken-licken."There was a sign hung around my dead cats neck. It said,
120. "Meow."I have not seen Krebbs since. Nonetheless, I sense that hewas my _karass_. If he was, he served it as a _wrang-wrang_. A _wrang-wrang_, according to Bokonon, is a personwho steers people away from a line of speculation byreducing that line, with the example of the _wrang-wrangs_own life, to an absurdity.I might have been vaguely inclined to dismiss the stoneangel as meaningless, and to go from there to themeaninglessness of all. But after I saw what Krebbs haddone, in particular what he had done to my sweet cat,nihilism was not for me.Somebody or something did not wish me to be a nihilist. Itwas Krebbss mission, whether he knew it or not, todisenchant me with that philosophy. Well, done, Mr. Krebbs,well done.A Modern Major General 37And then, one day, one Sunday, I found out where thefugitive from justice, the model-maker, the Great GodJehovah and Beelzebub of bugs in Mason jars was--whereFranklin Hoenikker could be found.He was alive!The news was in a special supplement to the New York_Sunday Times_. The supplement was a paid ad for a bananarepublic. On its cover was the profile of the mostheartbreakingly beautiful girl I ever hope to see.Beyond the girl, bulldozers were knocking down palm trees,making a broad avenue. At the end of the avenue were thesteel skeletons of three new buildings."The Republic of San Lorenzo," said the copy on the cover,"on the move! A healthy, happy, progressive, freedom-loving, beautiful nation makes itself extremely attractiveto American investors and tourists alike."I was in no hurry to read the contents. The girl on thecover was enough for me--more than enough, since I hadfallen in love with her on sight. She was very young andvery grave, too--and luminously compassionate and wise.She was as brown as chocolate. Her hair was like goldenflax.Her name was Mona Aamons Monzano, the cover said. She wastheadopted daughter of the dictator of the island. I openedthe supplement, hoping for more pictures ofsublime mongrel Madonna. I found instead a portrait of theislands dictator,"Papa" Monzano, a gorilla in his late seventies. Next to"Papas" portrait was a picture of a narrow- shouldered,
121. fox-faced, immature young man. He wore a snowthis Miguelwhite military blouse with some sort of jeweled sunbursthanging on it. His eyes were close together; they hadcircles under them. He hadapparently told barbers all his life to shave the sides andback of his head, but to leave the top of his hair alone.He had a wiry pompadour, a sort of cube of hair, marcelled,that arose to an incredible height.This unattractive child was identified as Major GeneralFranklin Hoenikker, _Minister of Science and Progress inthe Republic of San Lorenzo_.He was twenty-six years old.Barracuda Capital of the World 38San Lorenzo was fifty miles long and twenty miles wide, Ilearned from the supplement to the New York _Sunday Times_.Its population was four hundred, fifty thousand souls, ". .. all fiercely dedicated to the ideals of the Free World."Its highest point, Mount McCabe, was eleven thousand feetabove sea level. Its capital was Bolivar, ". . . astrikingly modern city built on a harbor capable ofsheltering the entire United States Navy." The principalexports were sugar, coffee, bananas, indigo, andhandcrafted novelties."And sports fishermen recognize San Lorenzo as theunchallenged barracuda capital of the world."I wondered how Franklin Hoenikker, who had never evenfinished high school, had got himself such a fancy job. Ifound a partial answer in an essay on San Lorenzo that wassigned by "Papa" Monzano."Papa" said that Frank was the architect of the "SanLorenzo Master Plan," which included new roads, ruralelectrification,sewage-disposal plants, hotels, hospitals, clinics,railroads--the works. And, though the essay was brief andtightly edited, "papa" referred to Frank five times as:". . . the _blood son_ of Dr. Felix Hoenikker."The phrase reeked of cannibalism."Papa" plainly felt that Frank was a chunk of the old mansmagic meat.Fata Morgana 39A little more light was shed by another essay in thesupplement, a florid essay titled, "What San Lorenzo HasMeant to One American." It was almost certainly ghost-written. It was signed by Major General Franklin Hoenikker.In the essay, Frank told of being all alone on a nearlyswamped sixty-eight-foot Chris-Craft in the Caribbean. He
122. didnt explain what he was doing on it or how he happenedto be alone. He did indicate, though, that his point ofdeparture had been Cuba."The luxurious pleasure craft was going down, and mymeaningless life with it," said the essay. "All Id eatenfor four days was two biscuits and a sea gull. The dorsalfins of man- eating sharks were cleaving the warm seasaround me, and needle- teethed barracuda were making thosewaters boil."I raised my eyes to my Maker, willing to accept whateverHis decision might be. And my eyes alit on a gloriousmountain peak above the clouds. Was this Fata Morgana--thecruel deception of a mirage?"I looked up Fata Morgana at this point in my reading;learned that it was, in fact, a mirage named after Morganle Fay, a fairy who lived at the bottom of a lake. It wasfamous for appearing in the Strait of Messina, betweenCalabria and Sicily. Fata Morgana was poetic crap, in short.What Frank saw from his sinking pleasure craft was notcruel Fata Morgana, but the peak of Mount McCabe. Gentleseas then nuzzled Franks pleasure craft to the rockyshores of San Lorenzo, as though God wanted him to go there.Frank stepped ashore, dry shod, and asked where he was. Theessay didnt say so, but the son of a bitch had a piece of_ice- nine_ with him--in a thermos jug.Frank, having no passport, was put in jail in the capitalcity of Bolivar. He was visited there by "Papa" Monzano,who wanted to know if it were possible that Frank was ablood relative of the immortal Dr. Felix Hoenikker."I admitted I was," said Frank in the essay. "Since thatmoment, every door to opportunity in San Lorenzo has beenopened wide to me."House of Hope and Mercy 40As it happened--"As it was _supposed_ to happen," Bokononwould say--I was assigned by a magazine to do a story inSan Lorenzo. The story wasnt to be about "Papa" Monzano orFrank. It was to be about Julian Castle, an American sugarmillionaire who had, at the age of forty, followed theexample of Dr. Albert Schweitzer by founding a freehospital in a jungle, by devoting his life to miserablefolk of another race.Castles hospital was called the House of Hope and Mercy inthe Jungle. Its jungle was on San Lorenzo, among the wildcoffee trees on the northern slope of Mount McCabe.old.When I flew to San Lorenzo, Julian Castle was sixty yearsHe had been absolutely unselfish for twenty years.
123. In his selfish days he had been as familiar to tabloidreaders as Tommy Manville, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini,and Barbara Hutton. His fame had rested on lechery,alcoholism, reckless driving, and draft evasion. He had hada dazzling talent for spending millions without increasingmankinds stores of anything but chagrin.He had been married five times, had produced one son. Theone son, Philip Castle, was the manager and owner of thehotel at which I planned to stay. The hotel was called theCasa Mona and was named after Mona Aamons Monzano, theblonde Negro on the cover of the supplement to the New York_Sunday Times_. The Casa Monawas brand new; it was one of the three new buildings in thebackground of the supplements portrait of Mona.While I didnt feel that purposeful seas were wafting me toSan Lorenzo, I did feel that love was doing the job. TheFata Morgana, the mirage of what it would be like to beloved by Mona Aamons Monzano, had become a tremendous forcein my meaningless life. I imagined that she could make mefar happier than any woman had so far succeeded in doing.A Karass Built for Two 41The seating on the airplane, bound ultimately for SanLorenzo from Miami, was three and three. As it happened--"As it was _supposed_ to happen"--my seatmates were HorlickMinton, the new American Ambassador to the Republic of SanLorenzo, and his wife, Claire. They were whitehaired,gentle, and frail.Minton told me that he was a career diplomat, holding therank of Ambassador for the first time. He and his wife hadso far served, he told me, in Bolivia, Chile, Japan,France, Yugoslavia, Egypt, the Union of South Africa,Liberia, and Pakistan.They were lovebirds. They entertained each other endlesslywith little gifts: sights worth seeing out the planewindow, amusing or instructive bits from things they read,random recollections of times gone by. They were, I think,a flawless example of what Bokonon calls a _duprass_, whichis a _karass_ composed of only two persons."A true _duprass_," Bokonon tells us, "cant be invaded,not even by children born of such a union."I exclude the Mintons, therefore, from my own _karass_,from Franks _karass_, from Newts _karass_, from AsaBreeds _karass_, from Angelas _karass_, from Lyman EndersKnowless _karass_, from Sherman Krebbss _karass_. TheMintons _karass_ was a tidy one, composed of only two."I should think youd be very pleased," I said to Minton."What should I be pleased about?" "Pleased to have the rank
124. of Ambassador." From the pitying way Minton and his wifelooked at eachother, I gathered that I had said a fat-headed thing. Buttheyhumored me. "Yes," winced Minton, "Im very pleased." Hesmiled wanly. "Im _deeply_ honored."And so it went with almost every subject I brought up. Icouldnt make the Mintons bubble about anything.said.For instance: "I suppose you can speak a lot of languages,"I"Oh, six or seven--between us," said Minton" "That must bevery gratifying." "What must?" "Being able to speak topeople of so many differentnationalities." "Very gratifying," said Minton emptily."Very gratifying," said his wife. And they went back toreading a fat, typewritten manuscriptthat was spread across the chair arm between them. "Tellme," I said a little later, "in all your wide travels,have you found people everywhere about the same at heart?""Hm?" asked Minton."Do you find people to be about the same at heart, whereveryou go?"He looked at his wife, making sure she had heard thequestion, then turned back to me. "About the same, whereveryou go," he agreed."Um," I said.Bokonon tells us, incidentally, that members of a _duprass_always die within a week of each other. When it came timefor the Mintons to die, they did it within the same second.Bicycles for Afghanistan 42There was a small saloon in the rear of the plane and Irepaired there for a drink. It was there that I met anotherfellow American, H. Lowe Crosby of Evanston, Illinois, andhis wife, Hazel.They were heavy people, in their fifties. They spoketwangingly. Crosby told me that he owned a bicycle factoryin Chicago, that he had had nothing but ingratitude from hisemployees. He was going to move his business to gratefulSan Lorenzo."You know San Lorenzo well?" I asked."Thisll be the first time Ive ever seen it, buteverything Ive heard about it I like," said H. LoweCrosby. "Theyve got discipline, Theyve got something youcan count on from one year to the next. They dont have thegovernment encouraging everybody to be some kind oforiginal pissant nobody every heard of before."
125. "Sir?""Christ, back in Chicago, we dont make bicycles any more.Its all human relations now. The eggheads sit aroundtrying to figure out new ways for everybody to be happy.Nobody can get fired, no matter what; and if somebody doesaccidentally make a bicycle, the union accuses us of crueland inhuman practices and the government confiscates thebicycle for back taxes and gives it to a blind man inAfghanistan.""And you think things will be better in San Lorenzo?""I know damn well they will be. The people down there arepoor enough and scared enough and ignorant enough to havesome common sense!"Crosby asked me what my name was and what my business was.I told him, and his wife Hazel recognized my name as anIndiana name. She was from Indiana, too."My God," she said, "are you a _Hoosier?_" I admitted Iwas. "Im a Hoosier, too," she crowed. "Nobody has to beashamedof being a Hoosier." "Im not," I said. "I never knewanybody who was." "Hoosiers do all right. Lowe and Ivebeen around the worldtwice, and everywhere we went we found Hoosiers in chargeof everything.".""Thats reassuring." "You know the manager of that newhotel in Istanbul?" "No." "Hes a Hoosier. And themilitary-whatever-he-is in Tokyo . ."Attaché," said her husband."Hes a Hoosier," said Hazel. "And the new Ambassador toYugoslavia . . .""A Hoosier?" I asked."Not only him, but the Hollywood Editor of _Life_ magazine,too. And that man in Chile . . ."said."A Hoosier, too?" "You cant go anywhere a _Hoosier_ hasntmade his mark," she"The man who wrote _Ben Hur_ was a Hoosier." "And JamesWhitcomb Riley.""Are you from Indiana, too?" I asked her husband. "Nope.Im a Prairie Stater. Land of Lincoln, as they say." "Asfar as that goes," said Hazel triumphantly, "Lincoln wasa Hoosier, too. He grew up in Spencer County." "Sure," Isaid."I dont know what it is about Hoosiers," said Hazel, "buttheyve sure got something. If somebody was to make a list,theyd be amazed."
126. "Thats true," I said.She grasped me firmly by the arm. "We Hoosiers got to sticktogether.""Right." "You call "What?" "Whenever_Mom_." "Uh huh."me Mom." I meet a young Hoosier, I tell them, You call me"Let me hear you say it," she urged. "Mom?" She smiled andlet go of my arm. Some piece of clockwork hadcompleted its cycle. My calling Hazel "Mom" had shut itoff, and now Hazel was rewinding it for the next Hoosier tocome along.Hazels obsession with Hoosiers around the world was atextbook example of a false _karass_, of a seeming teamthat was meaningless in terms of the ways God gets thingsdone, a textbook example of what Bokonon calls a_granfalloon_. Other examples of _granfalloons_ are theCommunist party, the Daughters of the American Revolution,the General Electric Company, the International Order ofOdd Fellows--and any nation, anytime, anywhere.As Bokonon invites us to sing along with him:If you wish to study a _granfalloon_, Just remove the skinof a toy balloon.The Demonstrator 43H. Lowe Crosby was of the opinion that dictatorships wereoften very good things. He wasnt a terrible person and hewasnt a fool. It suited him to confront the world with acertain barn- yard clownishness, but many of the things hehad to say about undisciplined mankind were not only funnybut true.The major point at which his reason and his sense of humorleft him was when he approached the question of what peoplewere really supposed to do with their time on Earth.him.He believed firmly that they were meant to build bicyclesfor"I hope San Lorenzo is every bit as good as youve heard itis," I said."I only have to talk to one man to find out if it is ornot," he said. "When Papa Monzano gives his word of honorabout anything on that little island, thats it. Thats howit is; thats how itll be.""The thing I like," said Hazel, "is they all speak Englishand theyre all Christians. That makes things so mucheasier."me."You know how they deal with crime down there?" Crosby asked"Nope."
127. "They just dont have any crime down there. PapaMonzanos made crime so damn unattractive, nobody eventhinks about it without getting sick. I heard you can lay abillfold in the middle of a sidewalk and you can come backa week later and itll be right there, with everythingstill in it.""Um." "You know what the punishment is for stealingsomething?" "Nope." "The hook," he said. "No fines, noprobation, no thirty daysin jail. Its the hook. The hook for stealing, for murder,for arson, for treason, for rape, for being a peeping Tom.Break a law--any damn law at all--and its the hook.Everybody can understand that, and San Lorenzo is the best-behaved country in the world.""What is the hook?""They put up a gallows, see? Two posts and a cross beam.And then they take a great big kind of iron fishhook andthey hang it down from the cross beam. Then they takesomebody whos dumb enough to break the law, and they putthe point of the hook in through one side of his belly andout the other and they let him go--and there he hangs, byGod, one damn sorry law-breaker.""Good God!""I dont say its good," said Crosby, "but I dont say itsbad either. I sometimes wonder if something like thatwouldnt clear up juvenile delinquency. Maybe the hooks alittle extreme for a democracy. Public hangings more likeit. String up a fewteen-age car thieves on lampposts in front of their houseswith signs around their necks saying, Mama, heres yourboy. Do that a few times and I think ignition locks wouldgo the way of the rumble seat and the running board.""We saw that thing in the basement of the waxworks inLondon," said Hazel."What thing?" I asked her."The hook. Down in the Chamber of Horrors in the basement;they had a wax person hanging from the hook. It looked soreal I wanted to throw up.""Harry Truman didnt look anything like Harry Truman," saidCrosby."Pardon me?""In the waxworks," said Crosby. "The statue of Trumandidnt really look like him."her."Most of them did, though," said Hazel. "Was it anybody inparticular hanging from the hook?" I asked"I dont think so. It was just somebody." "Just a
128. demonstrator?" I asked. "Yeah. There was a black velvetcurtain in front of it andyou had to pull the curtain back to see. And there was anote pinned to the curtain that said children werentsupposed to look.""But kids did," said Crosby. "There were kids down there,and they all looked.""A sign like that is just catnip to kids," said Hazel."How did the kids react when they saw the person on thehook?" I asked."Oh," said Hazel, "they reacted just about the way thegrownups did. They just looked at it and didnt sayanything, just moved on to see what the next thing was.""What was the next thing?""It was an iron chair a man had been roasted alive in,"said Crosby. "He was roasted for murdering his son.""Only, after they roasted him," Hazel recalled blandly,"they found out he hadnt murdered his son after all."Communist Sympathizers 44When I again took my seat beside the _duprass_ of Claireand Horlick Minton, I had some new information about them.I got it from the Crosbys.The Crosbys didnt know Minton, but they knew hisreputation. They were indignant about his appointment asAmbassador. They told me that Minton had once been fired bythe State Department for his softness toward communism, andthe Communist dupes or worse had had him reinstated."Very pleasant little saloon back there," I said to Mintonas I sat down."Hm?" He and his wife were still reading the manuscriptthat lay between them."Nice bar back there." "Good. Im glad." The two read on,apparently uninterested in talking to me.And then Minton turned to me suddenly, with a bittersweetsmile, and he demanded, "Who was he, anyway?""Who was who?""The man you were talking to in the bar. We went back therefor a drink, and, when we were just outside, we heard youand a man talking. The man was talking very loudly. He saidI was a Communist sympathizer.""A bicycle manufacturer named H. Lowe Crosby," I said. Ifelt myself reddening.it.""I was fired for pessimism. Communism had nothing to do with"I got him fired," said his wife. "The only piece of realevidence produced against him was a letter I wrote to theNew York _Times_ from Pakistan."
129. "What did it say?""It said a lot of things," she said, "because I was veryupset about how Americans couldnt imagine what it was liketo be something else, to be something else and proud of it.""I see.""But there was one sentence they kept coming to again andagain in the loyalty hearing," sighed Minton."Americans," he said, quoting his wifes letter to the_Times_, "are forever searching for love in forms it nevertakes, in places it can never be. It must have something todo with the vanished frontier."Why Americans Are Hated 45Claire Mintons letter to the _Times_ was published duringthe worst of the era of Senator McCarthy, and her husbandwas fired twelve hours after the letter was printed."What was so awful about the letter?" I asked."The highest possible form of treason," said Minton, "is tosay that Americans arent loved wherever they go, whateverthey do. Claire tried to make the point that Americanforeign policy should recognize hate rather than imaginelove.""I guess Americans _are_ hated a lot of places.""_People_ are hated a lot of places. Claire pointed out inher letter that Americans, in being hated, were simplypaying the normal penalty for being people, and that theywere foolish to think they should somehow be exempted fromthat penalty. But the loyalty board didnt pay anyattention to that. All they knew was that Claire and I bothfelt that Americans were unloved.""Well, Im glad the story had a happy ending." "Hm?" saidMinton. "It finally came out all right," I said. "Here youare onyour way to an embassy all your own." Minton and his wifeexchanged another of those pitying_duprass_ glances. Then Minton said to me, "Yes. The pot ofgold at the end of the rainbow is ours."The Bokononist Method for Handling Caesar 46I talked to the Mintons about the legal status of FranklinHoenikker, who was, after all, not only a big shot in"Papa" Monzanos government, but a fugitive from UnitedStates justice."Thats all been written off," said Minton. "He isnt aUnited States citizen any more, and he seems to be doinggood things where he is, so thats that.""He gave up his citizenship?""Anybody who declares allegiance to a foreign state orserves in its armed forces or accepts employment in its
130. government loses his citizenship. Read your passport. Youcant lead the sort of funny-paper international romancethat Frank has led and still have Uncle Sam for a motherchicken.""Is he well liked in San Lorenzo?"Minton weighed in his hands the manuscript he and his wifehad been reading. "I dont know yet. This book says not.""What book is that?""Its the only scholarly book ever written about SanLorenzo.""_Sort_ of scholarly," said Claire."Sort of scholarly," echoed Minton. "It hasnt beenpublished yet. This is one of five copies." He handed it tome, inviting me to read as much as I liked.I opened the book to its title page and found that the nameof the book was _San Lorenzo: The Land, the History, thePeople_. The author was Philip Castle, the son of JulianCastle, the hotel- keeping son of the great altruist I wason my way to see.I let the book fall open where it would. As it happened, itfell open to the chapter about the islands outlawed holyman, Bokonon.There was a quotation from _The Books of Bokonon_ on thepage before me. Those words leapt from the page and into mymind, and they were welcomed there.The words were a paraphrase of the suggestion by Jesus:"Render therefore unto Caesar the things which areCaesars."Bokonons paraphrase was this:"Pay no attention to Caesar. Caesar doesnt have theslightest idea whats _really_ going on."Dynamic Tension 47I became so absorbed in Philip Castles book that I didnteven look up from it when we put down for ten minutes inSan Juan, Puerto Rico. I didnt even look up when somebodybehind me whispered, thrilled, that a midget had comeaboard.A little while later I looked around for the midget, butcould not see him. I did see, right in front of Hazel andH. Lowe Crosby, a horse-faced woman with platinum blondehair, a woman new to the passenger list. Next to hers was aseat that appeared to be empty, a seat that might well havesheltered a midget without my seeing even the top of hishead.But it was San Lorenzo--the land, the history, the people--that intrigued me then, so I looked no harder for themidget. Midgets are, after all, diversions for silly or
131. quiet times, and I was serious and excited about Bokononstheory of what he called "Dynamic Tension," his sense of apriceless equilibrium between good and evil.When I first saw the term "Dynamic Tension" in PhilipCastles book, I laughed what I imagined to be a superiorlaugh. The term was a favorite of Bokonons, according toyoung Castles book, and I supposed that I knew somethingthat Bokonon didnt know: that the term was one vu!garizedby Charles Atlas, a mail- order muscle-builder.As I learned when I read on, briefly, Bokonon knew exactlywho Charles Atlas was. Bokonon was, in fact, an alumnus ofhis muscle-building school.It was the belief of Charles Atlas that muscles could bebuilt without bar bells or spring exercisers, could bebuilt by simply pitting one set of muscles against another.It was the belief of Bokonon that good societies could bebuilt only by pitting good against evil, and by keeping thetension between the two high at all times. And, in Castlesbook, I read my first"Calypso." It went like this:Bokononist poem, orso sad;Just Like"Papa" Monzano, hes so very bad, But without bad "Papa" Iwould be Because without "Papas" badness, Tell me, if youwould,How could wicked old Bokonon Ever, ever look good?Saint Augustine 48Bokonon, I learned from Castles book, was born in 1891. Hewas a Negro, born an Episcopalian and a British subject onthe island of Tobago.He was christened Lionel Boyd Johnson.He was the youngest of six children, born to a wealthyfamily. His familys wealth derived from the discovery byBokonons grandfather of one quarter of a million dollarsin buried pirate treasure, presumably a treasure ofBlackbeard, of Edward Teach.Blackbeards treasure was reinvested by Bokonons family inasphalt, copra, cacao, livestock, and poultry.Young Lionel Boyd Johnson was educated in Episcopalschools, did well as a student, and was more interested inritual than most. As a youth, for all his interest in theoutward trappings of organized religion, he seems to havebeen a carouser, for he invites us to sing along with himin his "Fourteenth Calypso":When I was young, I was so gay and mean, And I drank andchased the girls Just like young St. Augustine. Saint
132. Augustine, He got to be a saint. So, if I get to be one,also, Please, Mama, dont you faint.A Fish Pitched Up by an Angry Sea 49Lionel Boyd Johnson was intellectually ambitious enough, in1911, to sail alone from Tobago to London in a sloop namedthe _Ladys Slipper_. His purpose was to gain a highereducation.He enrolled in the London School of Economics and PoliticalScience.His education was interrupted by the First World War. Heenlisted in the infantry, fought with distinction, wascommissioned in the field, was mentioned four times indispatches. He was gassed in the second Battle of Ypres,was hospitalized for two years, and then discharged.And he set sail for home, for Tobago, alone in the _LadysSlipper_ again.When only eighty miles from home, he was stopped andsearched by a German submarine, the _U-99_. He was takenprisoner, and his little vessel was used by the Huns fortarget practice. While still surfaced, the submarine wassurprised and captured by the British destroyer, the_Raven_.Johnson and the Germans were taken on board the destroyerand the _U-99_ was sunk.The _Raven_ was bound for the Mediterranean, but it nevergot there. It lost its steering; it could only wallowhelplessly or make grand, clockwise circles. It came torest at last in the Cape Verde Islands.Johnson stayed in those islands for eight months, awaitingsome sort of transportation to the Western Hemisphere.He got a job at last as a crewman on a fishing vessel thatwas carrying illegal immigrants to New Bedford,Massachusetts. The vessel was blown ashore at Newport,Rhode Island.By that time Johnson had developed a conviction thatsomething was trying to get him somewhere for some reason.So he stayed in Newport for a while to see if he had adestiny there. He worked as a gardener and carpenter on thefamous Rumfoord Estate.During that time, he glimpsed many distinguished guests ofthe Rumfoords, among them, J. P. Morgan, General John J.Pershing, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Enrico Caruso, WarrenGamaliel Harding, and Harry Houdini. And it was during thattime that the First World War came to an end, having killedten million persons and wounded twenty million, Johnsonamong them.When the war ended, the young rakehell of the Rumfoord
133. family, Remington Rumfoord, IV, proposed to sail his steamyacht, the _Scheherazade_, around the world, visitingSpain, France, Italy, Greece, Egypt, India, China, andJapan. He invited Johnson to accompany him as first mate,and Johnson agreed.Johnson saw many wonders of the world on the voyage. The_Scheherazade_ was rammed in a fog in Bombay harbor, andonly Johnson survived. He stayed in India for two years,becoming a follower of Mohandas K. Gandhi. He was arrestedfor leading groups that protested British rule by lyingdown on railroad tracks. When his jail term was over, hewas shipped at Crown expense to his home in Tobago.There, he built another schooner, which he called the_Ladys Slipper II_.And he sailed her about the Caribbean, an idler, stillseeking the storm that would drive him ashore on what wasunmistakably his destiny.In 1922, he sought shelter from a hurricane in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which country was then occupied by UnitedStates Marines.Johnson was approached there by a brilliant, self-educated,idealistic Marine deserter named Earl McCabe. McCabe was acorporal. He had just stolen his companys recreation fund.He offered Johnson five hundred dollars for transportationto Miami.The two set sail for Miami.But a gale hounded the schooner onto the rocks of SanLorenzo. The boat went down. Johnson and McCabe, absolutelynaked, managed to swim ashore. As Bokonon himself reportsthe adventure:A fish pitched up By the angry sea, I gasped on land, And Ibecame me.He was enchanted by the mystery of coming ashore naked onan unfamiliar island. He resolved to let the adventure runits full course, resolved to see just how far a man mightgo, emerging naked from salt water.It was a rebirth for him:Be like a baby, The Bible say, So I stay like a baby Tothis very day.How he came by the name of was the pronunciation given theEnglish dialect.As for that dialect . . .Bokonon was very simple. "Bokonon" name Johnson in theislandsThe dialect of San Lorenzo difficult to write down. I sayit is easy to understand, but I speak only for myself.Others have found it as incomprehensible as Basque, so my
134. understanding of it may be telepathic.Philip Castle, in his book, gave a phonetic demonstrationof the dialect and caught its flavor very well. He chosefor his sample the San Lorenzan version of "Twinkle,Twinkle, Little Star."is both easy to understand andIn American English, one version of that immortal poem goeslike this:Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are,Shining in the sky so bright, Like a tea tray in the night,Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are.In San Lorenzan dialect, according to Castle, the same poemwent like this:_Tsvent-kiul, tsvent-kiul, lett-pool store,_ _Ko jytsvantoor bat voo yore._ _Put-shinik on lo shee zo brath,__Kam oon teetron on lo nath,__Tsvent-kiul, tsvent-kiul, lett-poll store,_ _Ko jytsvantoor bat voo yore._Shortly after Johnson became Bokonon, incidentally, thelifeboat of his shattered ship was found on shore. Thatboat was later painted gold and made the bed of theislands chief executive."There is a legend, made up by Bokonon," Philip Castlewrote in his book, "that the golden boat will sail againwhen the end of the world is near."A Nice Midget 50My reading of the life of Bokonon was interrupted by H.Lowe Crosbys wife, Hazel. She was standing in the aislenext to me. "Youll never believe it," she said, "but Ijust found two more Hoosiers on this airplane.""Ill be damned.""They werent born Hoosiers, but they _live_ there now.They live in Indianapolis.""Very interesting." "You want to meet them?" "You think Ishould?" The question baffled her. "Theyre your fellowHoosiers." "What are their names?" "Her name is Conners andhis name is Hoenikker. Theyrebrother and sister, and hes though." She winked. "Hes a"Does he call you Mom?" "I almost asked him to. maybe itwouldnt be rude to"Nonsense."O.K., Mom 51a midget. Hes a nice midget, smart little thing."And then I stopped, and I wondered if ask a midget to dothat."So I went aft to talk to Angela Hoenikker Conners andlittle Newton Hoenikker, members of my _karass_.
135. Angela was the horse-faced platinum blonde I had noticedearlier.Newt was a very tiny young man indeed, though notgrotesque. He was as nicely scaled as Gulliver among theBrobdingnagians, and as shrewdly watchful, too.He held a glass of champagne, which was included in theprice of his ticket. That glass was to him what a fishbowlwould have been to a normal man, but he drank from it withelegant ease--as though he and the glass could not havebeen better matched.The little son of a bitch had a crystal of _ice-nine_ in athermos bottle in his luggage, and so did his miserablesister, while under us was Gods own amount of water, theCaribbean Sea.When Hazel had got all the pleasure she could fromintroducing Hoosiers to Hoosiers, she left us alone."Remember," she said as she left us, "from now on, call me_Mom_.""O.K., Mom," I said."O.K., Mom," said Newt. His voice was fairly high, inkeeping with his little larynx. But he managed to make thatvoice distinctly masculine.Angela persisted in treating Newt like an infant--and heforgave her for it with an amiable grace I would havethought impossible for one so small.Newt and Angela remembered me, remembered the letters Idwritten, and invited me to take the empty seat in theirgroup of three.Angela apologized to me for never having answered myletters."I couldnt think of anything to say that would interestanybody reading a book. I could have made up somethingabout that day, but I didnt think youd want that.Actually, the day was just like a regular day.""Your brother here wrote me a very good letter."Angela was surprised. "Newt did? How could Newt rememberanything?" She turned to him. "Honey, you dont rememberanything about that day, do you? You were just a baby.""I remember," he said mildly."I wish Id _seen_ the letter." She implied that Newt wasstill too immature to deal directly with the outside world.Angela was a God-awfully insensitive woman, with no feelingfor what smallness meant to Newt."Honey, you should have showed me that letter," shescolded. "Sorry," said Newt. "I didnt think." "I might aswell tell you," Angela said to me, "Dr. Breedtold me I wasnt supposed to co-operate with you. He said
136. you werent interested in giving a fair picture of Father."She showed me that she didnt like me for that.I placated her some by telling her that the book wouldprobably never be done anyway, that I no longer had a clearidea of what it would or should mean."Well, if you ever _do_ do the book, you better make Fathera saint, because thats what he was."I promised that I would do my best to paint that picture. Iasked if she and Newt were bound for a family reunion withFrank in San Lorenzo."Franks getting married," said Angela. "Were going to theengagement party.""Oh? Whos the lucky girl?""Ill show you," said Angela, and she took from her purse abillfold that contained a sort of plastic accordion. Ineach of the accordions pleats was a photograph. Angelaflipped through the photographs, giving me glimpses oflittle Newt on a Cape Cod beach, of Dr. Felix Hoenikkeraccepting his Nobel Prize, of Angelas own homely twingirls, of Frank flying a model plane on the end of a string.And then she showed me a picture of the girl Frank wasgoing to marry.She might, with equal effect, have struck me in the groin.The picture she showed me was of Mona Aamons Monzano, thewoman I loved.No Pain 52Once Angela had opened her plastic accordion, she wasreluctant to close it until someone had looked at everyphotograph."There are the people I love," she declared.So I looked at the people she loved. What she had trappedin plexiglass, what she had trapped like fossil beetles inamber, were the images of a large part of our _karass_.There wasnt a _granfallooner_ in the collection.There were many photographs of Dr. Hoenikker, father of abomb, father of three children, father of _ice-nine_. Hewas a little person, the purported sire of a midget and agiantess.My favorite picture of the old man in Angelas fossilcollection showed him all bundled up for winter, in anovercoat, scarf, galoshes, and a wool knit cap with a bigpom-pom on the crown.This picture, Angela told me, with a catch in her throat,had been taken in Hyannis just about three hours before theold man died. A newspaper photographer had recognized theseeming Christmas elf for the great man he was."Did your father die in the hospital?"
137. "Oh, no! He died in our cottage, in a big white wickerchair facing the sea. Newt and Frank had gone walking downthe beach in the snow . . .""It was a very warm snow," said Newt. "It was almost likewalking through orange blossoms. It was very strange.Nobody was in any of the other cottages . . .""Ours was the only one with heat," said Angela."Nobody within miles," recalled Newt wonderingly, "andFrank and I came across this big black dog out on thebeach, a Labrador retriever. We threw sticks into the oceanand he brought them back.""Id gone back into the village for more Christmas treebulbs," said Angela. "We always had a tree.""Did your father enjoy having a Christmas tree?" "He neversaid," said Newt. "I think he liked it," said Angela. "Hejust wasnt verydemonstrative. Some people arent." "And some people are,"said Newt. He gave a small shrug. "Anyway," said Angela,"when we got back home, we found himin the chair." She shook her head. "I dont think hesuffered any. He just looked asleep. He couldnt havelooked like that if thered been the least bit of pain."She left out an interesting part of the story. She left outthe fact that it was on that same Christmas Eve that sheand Frank and little Newt had divided up the old mans_ice-nine_.The President of Fabri-Tek 53Angela encouraged me to go on looking at snapshots."Thats me, if you can believe it." She showed me anadolescent girl six feet tall. She was holding a clarinetin the picture, wearing the marching uniform of the IliumHigh School band. Her hair was tucked up under a bandsmanshat. She was smiling with shy good cheer.And then Angela, a woman to whom God had given virtuallynothing with which to catch a man, showed me a picture ofher husband."So thats Harrison C. Conners." I was stunned. Her husbandwas a strikingly handsome man, and looked as though he knewit. He was a snappy dresser, and had the lazy rapture of aDon Juan about.the eyes."What--what does he do?" I asked. "Hes president of Fabri-Tek." "Electronics?" "I couldnt tell you, even if I knew.Its all very secretgovernment work." "Weapons?""Well, war anyway." "How did you happen to meet?" "He usedto work as a laboratory assistant to Father," saidAngela. "Then he went out to Indianapolis and started
138. Fabri-Tek.""So your marriage to him was a happy ending to a longromance?""No. I didnt even know he knew I was alive. I used tothink he was nice, but he never paid any attention to meuntil after Father died."One day he came through Ilium. I was sitting around thatbig old house, thinking my life was over . . ." She spokeof the awful days and weeks that followed her fathersdeath. "Just me and little Newt in that big old house.Frank had disappeared, and the ghosts were making ten timesas much noise as Newt and I were. Id given my whole lifeto taking care of Father, driving him to and from work,bundling him up when it was cold, unbundling him when itwas hot, making him eat, paying his bills. Suddenly, therewasnt anything for me to do. Id never had any closefriends, didnt have a soul to turn to but Newt."And then," she continued, "there was a knock on the door--and there stood Harrison Conners. He was the most beautifulthing Id ever seen. He came in, and we talked aboutFathers last days and about old times in general."Angela almost cried now. "Two weeks later, we were married."Communists, Nazis, Royalists, Parachutists, and DraftDodgers 54Returning to my own seat in the plane, feeling far shabbierfor having lost Mona Aamons Monzano to Frank, I resumed myreading of Philip Castles manuscript.I looked up _Monzano, Mona Aamons_ in the index, and wastold by the index to see Aamons, Mona.So I saw _Aamons, Mona_, and found almost as many pagereferences as Id found after the name of "Papa" Monzanohimself.And after _Aamons, Mona_ came _Aamons, Nestor_. So I turnedto the few pages that had to do with Nestor, and learnedthat he was Monas father, a native Finn, an architect.Nestor Aamons was captured by the Russians, then liberatedby the Germans during the Second World War. He was notreturned home by his liberators, but was forced to serve ina _Wehrmacht_ engineer unit that was sent to fight theYugoslav partisans. Hewas captured by Chetniks, royalist Serbian partisans, andthen by Communist partisans who attacked the Chetniks. Hewas liberated by Italian parachutists who surprised theCommunists, and he was shipped to Italy.The Italians put him to work designing fortifications forSicily. He stole a fishing boat in Sicily, and reachedneutral Portugal.
139. While there, he met an American draft dodger named JulianCastle.Castle, upon learning that Aamons was an architect, invitedhim to come with him to the island of San Lorenzo and todesign for him a hospital to be called the House of Hopeand Mercy in the Jungle.Aamons accepted. He designed the hospital, married a nativewoman named Celia, fathered a perfect daughter, and died.Never Index Your Own Book 55As for the life of _Aamons, Mona_, the index itself gave ajangling, surrealistic picture of the many conflictingforces that had been brought to bear on her and of herdismayed reactions to them."_Aamons, Mona:_" the index said, "adopted by Monzano inorder to boost Monzanos popularity, 194-199, 216a.;childhood in compound of House of Hope and Mercy, 63-81;childhood romance with P. Castle, 72f; death of father,89ff; death of mother, 92f; embarrassed by role as nationalerotic symbol, 80, 95f, 166n., 209, 247n., 400-406, 566n.,678; engaged to P. Castle, 193; essential naïveté, 67-71,80, 95f, 116a., 209, 274n., 400-406, 566a., 678; lives withBokonon, 92-98, 196-197; poems about, 2n., 26, 114, 119,311, 316, 477n., 501, 507, 555n., 689, 718ff, 799ff, 800n.,841, 846ff, 908n., 971, 974; poems by, 89, 92, 193; returnsto Monzano, 199; returns to Bokonon, 197; runs away fromBokonon, 199; runs away from Moazano, 197; tries to makeself ugly in order to stop being erotic symbol toislanders, 89, 95f, 116n., 209, 247n., 400-406, 566n., 678;tutored by Bokonon, 63-80; writes letter to United Nations,200; xylophone virtuoso, 71."I showed this index entry to the Mintons, asking them ifthey didnt think it was an enchanting biography in itself,a biography of a reluctant goddess of love. I got anunexpectedly expert answer, as one does in life sometimes.It appeared that Claire Minton, in her time, had been aprofessional indexer. I had never heard of such aprofession before.She told me that she had put her husband through collegeyears before with her earnings as an indexer, that theearnings had been good, and that few people could indexwell.She said that indexing was a thing that only the mostamateurish author undertook to do for his own book. I askedher what she thought of Philip Castles job."Flattering to the author, insulting to the reader," shesaid. "In a hyphenated word," she observed, with the shrewdamiability of an expert, " _self-indulgent_. Im always
140. embarrassed when I see an index an author has made of hisown work.""Embarrassed?""Its a revealing thing, an authors index of his ownwork," she informed me. "Its a shameless exhibition--tothe _trained_ eye."said."She can read character from an index," said her husband."Oh?" I said. "What can you tell about Philip Castle?" Shesmiled faintly. "Things Id better not tell strangers.""Sorry.""Hes obviously in love with this Mona Aamons Monzano," she"Thats true of every man in San Lorenzo I gather." "He hasmixed feelings about his father," she said. "Thats true ofevery man on earth." I egged her on gently. "Hesinsecure." "What mortal isnt?" I demanded. I didnt knowit then, butthat was a very Bokononist thing to demand. "Hell nevermarry her." "Why not?" "Ive said all Im going to say,"she said. "Im gratified to meet an indexer who respectsthe privacy ofothers." "Never index your own book," she stated. A_duprass_, Bokonon tells us, is a valuable instrument forgaining and developing, in the privacy of an interminablelove affair, insights that are queer but true. The Mintonscunning exploration of indexes was surely a case in point.A _duprass_, Bokonon tells us, is also a sweetly conceitedestablishment. The Mintons establishment was no exception.Sometime later, Ambassador Minton and I met in the aisle ofthe airplane, away from his wife, and he showed that it wasimportant to him that I respect what his wife could findout from indexes."You know why Castle will never marry the girl, even thoughhe loves her, even though she loves him, even though theygrew up together?" he whispered."No, sir, I dont.""Because hes a homosexual," whispered Minton. "She cantell that from an index, too."A Self-supporting Squirrel Cage 56When Lionel Boyd Johnson and Corporal Earl McCabe werewashed up naked onto the shore of San Lorenzo, I read, theywere greeted by persons far worse off than they. The peopleof San Lorenzo had nothing but diseases, which they were ata loss to treat or even name. By contrast, Johnson andMcCabe had the glittering treasures of literacy, ambition,curiosity, gall, irreverence, health, humor, andconsiderable information about the outside world.
141. From the "Calypsos" again:Oh, a very sorry people, yes, Did I find here. Oh, they hadno music, And they had no beer.And, oh, everywhere Where they tried to perch Belonged toCastle Sugar, Incorporated, Or the Catholic church.This statement of the property situation in San Lorenzo in1922 is entirely accurate, according to Philip Castle.Castle Sugar was founded, as it happened, by PhilipCastles great- grandfather. In 1922, it owned every pieceof arable land on the island."Castle Sugars San Lorenzo operations," wrote youngCastle, "never showed a profit. But, by paying laborersnothing for theirlabor, the company managed to break even year after year,making just enough money to pay the salaries of theworkers tormentors."The form of government was anarchy, save in limitedsituations wherein Castle Sugar wanted to own something orto get something done. In such situations the form orgovernment was feudalism. The nobility was composed ofCastle Sugars plantation bosses, who were heavily armedwhite men from the outside world. The knighthood wascomposed of big natives who, for small gifts and sillyprivileges, would kill or wound or torture on command. Thespiritual needs of the people caught in this demoniacalsquirrel cage were taken care of by a handful of butterballpriests."The San Lorenzo Cathedral, dynamited in 1923, wasgenerally regarded as one of the man-made wonders of theNew World," wrote Castle.The Queasy Dream 51That Corporal McCabe and Johnson were able to take commandof San Lorenzo was not a miracle in any sense. Many peoplehad taken over San Lorenzo--had invariably found it lightlyheld. The reason was simple: God, in His Infinite Wisdom,had made the island worthless.Hernando Cortes was the first man to have his sterileconquest of San Lorenzo recorded on paper. Cortes and hismen came ashore for fresh water in 1519, named the island,claimed it for Emperor Charles the Fifth, and neverreturned. Subsequent expeditions came for gold and diamondsand rubies and spices, found none, burned a few natives forentertainment and heresy, and sailed on."When France claimed San Lorenzo in 1682," wrote Castle,"no Spaniards complained. When Denmark claimed San Lorenzoin 1699, no Frenchmen complained. When the Dutch claimedSan Lorenzo in 1704, no Danes complained. When England
142. claimed San Lorenzo in 1706, no Dutchmen complained. WhenSpain reclaimed San Lorenzo in 1720, no Englishmencomplained. When, in 1786, African Negroes took command ofa British slave ship, ran it ashore on San Lorenzo, andproclaimed San Lorenzo an independent nation, an empirewith an emperor, in fact, no Spaniards complained."The emperor was Tum-bumwa, the only person who everregarded the island as being worth defending. A maniac,Tum-bumwa caused to be erected the San Lorenzo Cathedraland the fantastic fortifications on the north shore of theisland, fortifications within which the private residenceof the so-called President of the Republic now stands."The fortifications have never been attacked, nor has anysane man ever proposed any reason why they should beattacked. They have never defended anything. Fourteenhundred persons are said to have died while building them.Of these fourteen hundred, about half are said to have beenexecuted in public for substandard zeal."Castle Sugar came into San Lorenzo in 1916, during thesugar boom of the First World War. There was no governmentat all. The company imagined that even the clay and gravelfields of San Lorenzo could be tilled profitably, with theprice of sugar so high. No one complained.When McCabe and Johnson arrived in 1922 and announced thatthey were placing themselves in charge, Castle Sugarwithdrew flaccidly, as though from a queasy dream.Tyranny with a Difference 58"There was at least one quality of the new conquerors ofSan Lorenzo that was really new," wrote young Castle."McCabe and Johnson dreamed of making San Lorenzo a Utopia."To this end, McCabe overhauled the economy and the laws."Johnson designed a new religion." Castle quoted the"Calypsos" again:I wanted all things To seem to make some sense, So we allcould be happy, yes, Instead of tense. And I made up liesSo that they all fit nice, And I made this sad world A par-a-dise.There was a tug at my coat sleeve as I read. I looked up.Little Newt Hoenikker was standing in the aisle next to me."I thought maybe youd like to go back to the bar," hesaid, "and hoist a few."So we did hoist and topple a few, and Newts tongue wasloosened enough to tell me some things about Zinka, hisRussian midget dancer friend. Their love nest, he told me,had been in his fathers cottage on Cape Cod."I may not ever have a marriage, but at least Ive had ahoneymoon."
143. He told me of idyllic hours he and his Zinka had spent ineach others arms, cradled in Felix Hoenikkers old whitewicker chair, the chair that faced the sea.And Zinka would dance for him. "Imagine a woman dancingjust for me.""I can see you have no regrets.""She broke my heart. I didnt like that much. But that wasthe price. In this world, you get what you pay for."He proposed a gallant toast. "Sweethearts and wives," hecried.Fasten Your Seat Belts 59I was in the bar with Newt and H. Lowe Crosby and a coupleof strangers, when San Lorenzo was sighted. Crosby wastalking about pissants. "You know what I mean by a pissant?""I know the term," I said, "but it obviously doesnt havethe ding-a-ling associations for me that it has for you."Crosby was in his cups and had the drunkards illusion thathe could speak frankly, provided he spoke affectionately.He spoke frankly and affectionately of Newts size,something nobody else in the bar had so far commented on."I dont mean a little feller like this." Crosby hung a hamhand on Newts shoulder. "It isnt size that makes a man apissant. Its the way he thinks. Ive seen men four timesas big as this little feller here, and they were pissants.And Ive seen little fellers--well, not this littleactually, but pretty damn little, by God--and Id call themreal men.""Thanks," said Newt pleasantly, not even glancing at themonstrous hand on his shoulder. Never had I seen a humanbeing better adjusted to such a humiliating physicalhandicap. I shuddered with admiration."You were talking about pissants," I said to Crosby, hopingto get the weight of his hand off Newt."Damn right I was." Crosby straightened up. "You haventtold us what a pissant is yet," I said. "A pissant issomebody who thinks hes so damn smart, henever can keep his mouth shut. No matter what anybody says,hes got to argue with it. You say you like something, and,by God, hell tell you why youre wrong to like it. Apissant does his best to make you feel like a boob all thetime. No matter what you say, he knows better.""Not a very attractive characteristic," I suggested."My daughter wanted to marry a pissant once," said Crosbydarkly."Did she?""I squashed him like a bug." Crosby hammered on the bar,remembering things the pissant had said and done. "Jesus!"
144. he said, "weve all been to college!" His gaze lit on Newtagain. "You go to college?""Cornell," said Newt. "Cornell!" cried Crosby gladly. "MyGod, I went to Cornell." "So did he." Newt nodded at me."Three Cornellians--all in the same plane!" said Crosby, andwe had another _granfalloon_ festival on our hands. When itsubsided some, Crosby asked Newt what he did. "I paint.""Houses?" "Pictures." "Ill be damned," said Crosby."Return to your seats and fasten your seat belts, please,"warned the airline hostess. "Were over Monzano Airport,Bolivar, San Lorenzo.""Christ! Now wait just a Goddamn minute here," said Crosby,looking down at Newt. "All of a sudden I realize youve gota name Ive heard before.""My father was the father of the atom bomb." Newt didntsay Felix Hoenikker was _one_ of the fathers. He said Felixwas _the_ father."Is that so?" asked Crosby. "Thats so." "I was thinkingabout something else," said Crosby. He had tothink hard. "Something about a dancer." "I think wedbetter get back to our seats," said Newt,tightening some. "Something about a Russian dancer." Crosbywas sufficientlyaddled by booze to see no harm in thinking out loud. "Iremember an editorial about how maybe the dancer was a spy.""Please, gentlemen," said the stewardess, "you really mustget back to your seats and fasten your belts."Newt looked up at H. Lowe Crosby innocently. "You sure thename was Hoenikker?" And, in order to eliminate any chanceof mistaken identity, he spelled the name for Crosby."I could be wrong," said H. Lowe Crosby.An Underprivileged Nation 60The island, seen from the air, was an amazingly regularrectangle. Cruel and useless stone needles were thrust upfrom the sea. They sketched a circle around it.At the south end of the island was the port city ofBolivar. It was the only city. It was the capital. It wasbuilt on a marshy table. The runways of MonzanoAirport were on its water front. Mountains arose abruptlyto the north of Bolivar, crowdingthe remainder of the island with their brutal humps. Theywere called the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, but they lookedlike pigs at a trough to me.Bolivar had had many names: Caz-ma-caz-ma, Santa Maria,Saint Louis, Saint George, and Port Glory among them. Itwas given its present name by Johnson and McCabe in 1922,was named in honor of Simon Bolivar, the great Latin-
145. American idealist and hero.When Johnson and McCabe came upon the city, it was built oftwigs, tin, crates, and mud--rested on the catacombs of atrillion happy scavengers, catacombs in a sour mash ofslop, feculence, and slime.That was pretty much the way I found it, too, except forthe new architectural false face along the water front.Johnson and McCabe had failed to raise the people frommisery and muck."Papa" Monzano had failed, too.Everybody was bound to fail, for San Lorenzo was asunproductive as an equal area in the Sahara or the PolarIcecap.At the same time, it had as dense a population as could befound anywhere, India and China not excluded. There werefour hundred and fifty inhabitants for each uninhabitablesquare mile."During the idealistic phase of McCabes and Johnsonsreorganization of San Lorenzo, it was announced that thecountrys total income would be divided among all adultpersons in equal shares," wrote Philip Castle. "The firstand only time this was tried, each share came to betweensix and seven dollars."What a Corporal Was Worth 61In the customs shed at Monzano Airport, we were allrequired to submit to a luggage inspection, and to convertwhat money we intended to spend in San Lorenzo into thelocal currency, into _Corporals_, which "Papa" Monzanoinsisted were worth fifty American cents.The shed was neat and new, but plenty of signs had alreadybeen slapped on the walls, higgledy-piggledy.ANYBODY CAUGHT PRACTICING BOKONONISM IN SAN LORENZO, saidone, WILL DIE ON THE HOOK!Another poster featured a picture of Bokonon, a scrawny oldcolored man who was smoking a cigar. He looked clever andkind and amused.Under the picture were the words: WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE,10,000 CORPORALS REWARD!I took a closer look at that poster and found reproduced atthe bottom of it some sort of police identification formBokonon had had to fill out way back in 1929. It wasreproduced, apparently, to show Bokonon hunters what hisfingerprints and handwriting were like.But what interested me were some of the words Bokonon hadchosen to put into the blanks in 1929. Wherever possible,he had taken the cosmic view, had taken into consideration,for instance, such things as the shortness of life and the
146. longness of eternity.He reported his avocation as: "Being alive." He reportedhis principal occupation as: "Being dead." THIS IS ACHRISTIAN NATION! ALL FOOT PLAY WILL BE PUNISHED BYTHE HOOK, said another sign. The sign was meaningless tome, since I had not yet learned that Bokononists mingledtheir souls by pressing the bottoms of their feet together.And the greatest mystery of all, since I had not read allof Philip Castles book, was how Bokonon, bosom friend ofCorporal McCabe, had come to be an outlaw.Why Hazel Wasnt Scared 62There were seven of us who got off at San Lorenzo: Newt andAngela, Ambassador Minton and his wife, H. Lowe Crosby andhis wife, and I. When we had cleared customs, we wereherded outdoors and onto a reviewing stand.There, we faced a very quiet crowd.Five thousand or more San Lorenzans stared at us. Theislanders were oatmeal colored. The people were thin. Therewasnt a fat person to be seen. Every person had teethmissing. Many legs were bowed or swollen.Not one pair of eyes was clear.The womens breasts were bare and paltry. The men woreloose loincloths that did little to conceal penes likependulums on grandfather clocks.There were many dogs, but not one barked. There were manyinfants, but not one cried. Here and there someonecoughed--and that was all.A military band stood at attention before the crowd. It didnot play.There was a color guard before the band. It carried twobanners, the Stars and Stripes and the flag of San Lorenzo.The flag of San Lorenzo consisted of a Marine Corporalschevrons on a royal blue field. The banners hung lank inthe windless day.I imagined that somewhere far away I heard the blamming ofa sledge on a brazen drum. There was no such sound. My soulwas simply resonating the beat of the brassy, clanging heatof the San Lorenzan clime."Im sure glad its a Christian country," Hazel Crosbywhispered to her husband, "or Id be a little scared."Behind us was a xylophone.There was a glittering sign on the xylophone. The sign wasmade of garnets and rhinestones.The sign said, MONA.Reverent and Free 63To the left side of our reviewing stand were six propeller-driven fighter planes in a row, military assistance from
147. the United States to San Lorenzo. On the fuselage of eachplane was painted, with childish bloodlust, a boaconstrictor which was crushing a devil to death. Blood camefrom the devils ears, nose, and mouth. A pitchfork wasslipping from satanic red fingers.too.Before each plane stood an oatmeal-colored pilot; silent,Then, above that tumid silence, there came a nagging songlike the song of a gnat. It was a siren approaching. Thesiren was on "Papas" glossy black Cadillac limousine.The limousine came to a stop before us, tires smoking.Out climbed "Papa" Monzano, his adopted daughter, MonaAamons Monzano, and Franklin Hoenikker.At a limp, imperious signal from "Papa," the crowd sang theSan Lorenzan National Anthem. Its melody was "Home on theRange." The words had been written in 1922 by Lionel BoydJohnson, by Bokonon. The words were these:Oh, ours is a land Where the living is grand, And the menare as fearless as sharks; The women are pure, And wealways are surePeace andThat our children will all toe their marks. San, San Lo-ren-zo! What a rich, lucky island are we! Our enemies quail,For they know they will fail Against people so reverent andfree.Plenty 64And then the crowd was deathly still again."Papa" and Mona and Frank joined us on the reviewing stand.One snare drum played as they did so. The drumming stoppedwhen "Papa" pointed a finger at the drummer.He wore a shoulder holster on the outside of his blouse.The weapon in it was a chromium-plated .45. He was an old,old man, as so many members of my _karass_ were. He was inpoor shape. His steps were small and bounceless. He wasstill a fat man, but his lard was melting fast, for hissimple uniform was loose. The balls of his hoptoad eyeswere yellow. His hands trembled.His personal bodyguard was Major General FranklinHoenikker, whose uniform was white. Frank--thin-wristed,narrow-shouldered-- looked like a child kept up long afterhis customary bedtime. On his breast was a medal.I observed the two, "Papa" and Frank, with somedifficulty-- not because my view was blocked, but because Icould not take my eyes off Mona. I was thrilled,heartbroken, hilarious, insane. Every greedy, unreasonabledream Id ever had about what a woman should be came truein Mona. There, God love her warm and creamy soul, was
148. peace and plenty forever.That girl--and she was only eighteen--was rapturouslyserene. She seemed to understand all, and to be all therewas to understand. In _The Books of Bokonon_ she ismentioned by name. One thing Bokonon says of her is this:"Mona has the simplicity of the all."Her dress was white and Greek. She wore flat sandals on hersmall brown feet. Her pale gold hair was lank and long. Herhips were a lyre.Oh God. Peace and plenty forever. She was the one beautifulgirl in San Lorenzo. She was thenational treasure. "Papa" had adopted her, according toPhilip Castle, in order to mingle divinity with theharshness of hisrule.The xylophone was rolled to the front of the stand. AndMona played it. She played "When Day Is Done." It was alltremolo-- swelling, fading, swelling again. The crowd wasintoxicated by beauty. And then it was time for "Papa" togreet us.A Good Time to Come to San Lorenzo 65"Papa" was a self-educated man, who had been majordomo toCorporal McCabe. He had never been off the island. He spokeAmerican English passably well.Everything that any one of us said on the reviewing standwas bellowed out at the crowd through doomsday horns.Whatever went out through those horns gabbled down a wide,short boulevard at the back of the crowd, ricocheted offthe three glass-faced new buildings at the end of theboulevard, and came cackling back."Welcome," said "Papa." "You are coming to the best friendAmerica ever had. America is misunderstood many places, butnot here, Mr. Ambassador." He bowed to H. Lowe Crosby, thebicycle manufacturer, mistaking him for the new Ambassador."I know youve got a good country here, Mr. President,"said Crosby. "Everything I ever heard about it sounds greatto me. Theres just one thing . . .""Oh?""Im not the Ambassador," said Crosby. "I wish I was, butIm just a plain, ordinary businessman." It hurt him to saywho the real Ambassador was. "This man over here is the bigcheese.""Ah!" "Papa" smiled at his mistake. The smile went awaysuddenly. Some pain inside of him made him wince, then madehim hunch over, close his eyes--made him concentrate onsurviving the pain.Frank Hoenikker went to his support, feebly, incompetently.
149. "Are you all right?""Excuse me," "Papa" whispered at last, straightening upsome. There were tears in his eyes. He brushed them away,straightening up all the way. "I beg your pardon."He seemed to be in doubt for a moment as to where he was,as to what was expected of him. And then he remembered. Heshook Horlick Mintons hand. "Here, you are among friends.""Im sure of it," said Minton gently. "Christian," said"Papa." "Good." "Anti-Communists," said "Papa." "Good.""No Communists here," said "Papa." "They fear the hook toomuch.""I should think they would," said Minton."You have picked a very good time to come to us," said"Papa." "Tomorrow will be one of the happiest days in thehistory of our country. Tomorrow is our greatest nationalholiday, The Day of the Hundred Martyrs to Democracy. Itwill also be the day of the engagement of Major GeneralHoenikker to Mona Aamons Monzano, to the most preciousperson in my life and in the life of San Lorenzo.""I wish you much happiness, Miss Monzano," said Mintonwarmly. "And I congratulate _you_, General Hoenikker."The two young people nodded their thanks.Minton now spoke of the so-called Hundred Martyrs toDemocracy, and he told a whooping lie. "There is not anAmerican schoolchild who does not know the story of SanLorenzos noble sacrifice in World War Two. The hundredbrave San Lorenzans, whose day tomorrow is, gave as much asfreedom-loving men can. The President of the United Stateshas asked me to be his personal representative atceremonies tomorrow, to cast a wreath, the gift of theAmerican people to the people of San Lorenzo, on the sea.""The people of San Lorenzo thank you and your President andthe generous people of the United States of America fortheir thoughtfulness," said "Papa." "We would be honored ifyou would cast the wreath into the sea during theengagement party tomorrow.""The honor is mine.""Papa" commanded us all to honor him with our presence atthe wreath ceremony and engagement party next day. We wereto appear at his palace at noon."What children these two will have!" "Papa" said, invitingus to stare at Frank and Mona. "What blood! What beauty!"The pain hit him again. He again closed his eyes to huddlehimself around that pain.He waited for it to pass, but it did not pass.Still in agony, he turned away from us, faced the crowd andthe microphone. He tried to gesture at the crowd, failed.
150. He tried to say something to the crowd, failed.And then the words came out. "Go home," he criedstrangling. "Go home!"The crowd scattered like leaves. "Papa" faced us again,still grotesque in pain. . . . And then he collapsed.The Strongest Thing There Is 66He wasnt dead.But he certainly looked dead; except that now and then, inthe midst of all that seeming death, he would give ashivering twitch.Frank protested loudly that "Papa" wasnt dead, that he_couldnt_ be dead. He was frantic. "Papa! You cant die!You cant!"Frank loosened "Papas" collar and blouse, rubbed hiswrists. "Give him air! Give Papa air!"The fighter-plane pilots came running over to help us. Onehad sense enough to go for the airport ambulance.The band and the color guard, which had received no orders,remained at quivering attention.I looked for Mona, found that she was still serene and hadwithdrawn to the rail of the reviewing stand. Death, ifthere was going to be death, did not alarm her.Standing next to her was a pilot. He was not looking ather, but he had a perspiring radiance that I attributed tohis being so near to her."Papa" now regained something like consciousness. With ahand that flapped like a captured bird, he pointed atFrank. "You . . ." he said.We all fell silent, in order to hear his words.His lips moved, but we could hear nothing but bubblingsounds.Somebody had what looked like a wonderful idea then--whatlooks like a hideous idea in retrospect. Someone--a pilot,I think--took the microphone from its mount and held it by"Papas" bubbling lips in order to amplify his words.So death rattles and all sorts of spastic yodels bouncedoff the new buildings.And then came words."You," he said to Frank hoarsely, "you--FranklinHoenikker-- you will be the next President of San Lorenzo.Science--you have science. Science is the strongest thingthere is."Science," said "Papa." "Ice." He rolled his yellow eyes,and he passed out again.I looked at Mona. Her expression was unchanged. The pilotnext to her, however, had his features composed inthe catatonic, orgiastic rigidity of one receiving the
151. Congressional Medal of Honor.I looked down and I saw what I was not meant to see. Monahad slipped off her sandal. Her small brown foot wasbare. kneading--obscenely kneading--the instep of theflyers boot.And with that foot, she was kneading and kneading andHy-u-o-ook-kuh! 67"Papa" didntHe was rolled Mintons were takendie--not then. away in the airports big red meat wagon.The to their embassy by an American limousine.Newt and Angela were taken to Franks house in a SanLorenzan limousine.The Crosbys and I were taken to the Casa Mona hotel in SanLorenzos one taxi, a hearselike 1939 Chrysler limousinewith jump seats. The name on the side of the cab was CastleTransportation Inc. The cab was owned by Philip Castle, theowner of the Casa Mona, the son of the completely unselfishman I had come to interview.The Crosbys and I were both upset. Our consternation wasexpressed in questions we had to have answered at once. TheCrosbys wanted to know who Bokonon was. They werescandalized by the idea that anyone should be opposed to"Papa" Monzano.Irrelevantly, I found that I had to know at once who theHundred Martyrs to Democracy had been.The Crosbys got their answer first. They could notunderstand the San Lorenzan dialect, so I had to translatefor them. Crosbys basic question to our driver was: "Whothe hell is this pissant Bokonon, anyway?""Very bad man," said the driver. What he actually said was,"_Vorry ball moan_.""A Communist?" asked Crosby, when he heard my translation."Oh, sure." "Has he got any following?" "Sir?""Does anybody think hes any good?" "Oh, no, sir," said thedriver piously. "Nobody that crazy." "Why hasnt he beencaught?" demanded Crosby. "Hard man to find," said thedriver. "Very smart." "Well, people must be hiding him andgiving him food or hedbe caught by now." "Nobody hide him; nobody feed him.Everybody too smart to dothat." "You sure?""Oh, sure," said the driver. "Anybody feed that crazy oldman, anybody give him place to sleep, they get the hook.Nobody want the hook."He pronounced that last word: "_hy-u-o-_ook_-kuh_."Hoon-yera Mora-toorz 68
152. I asked the driver who the Hundred Martyrs to Democracy hadbeen. The boulevard we were going down, I saw, was calledthe Boulevard of the Hundred Martyrs to Democracy.The driver told me that San Lorenzo had declared war onGermany and Japan an hour after Pearl Harbor was attacked.San Lorenzo conscripted a hundred men to fight on the sideof democracy. These hundred men were put on a ship boundfor the United States, where they were to be armed andtrained.The ship was sunk by a German submarine right outside ofBolivar harbor."_Dose, sore_," he said, "_yeeara lo hoon-yera mora-toorztut zamoo-cratz-ya_.""Those, sir," hed said in dialect, "are the HundredMartyrs to Democracy."A Big Mosaic 69The Crosbys and I had the curious experience of being thevery first guests of a new hotel. We were the first to signthe register of the Casa Mona.The Crosbys got to the desk ahead of me, but H. Lowe Crosbywas so startled by a wholly blank register that he couldntbring himself to sign. He had to think about it a while."You sign," he said to me. And then, defying me to think hewas superstitious, he declared his wish to photograph a manwho was making a huge mosaic on the fresh plaster of thelobby wall.The mosaic was a portrait of Mona Aamons Monzano. It wastwenty feet high. The man who was working on it was youngand muscular. He sat at the top of a stepladder. He worenothing but a pair of white duck trousers.He was a white man.The mosaicist was making the fine hairs on the nape ofMonas swan neck out of chips of gold.Crosby went over to photograph him; came back to reportthat the man was the biggest pissant he had ever met.Crosby was the color of tomato juice when he reported this."You cant say a damn thing to him that he wont turninside out."So I went over to the mosaicist, watched him for a while,and then I told him, "I envy you.""I always knew," he sighed, "that, if I waited long enough,somebody would come and envy me. I kept telling myself tobe patient, that, sooner or later, somebody envious wouldcome along.""Are you an American?""That happiness is mine." He went right on working; he wasincurious as to what I looked like. "Do you want to take my
153. photograph, too?""Do you mind?" "I think; therefore I am, therefore I amphotographable." "Im afraid I dont have my camera withme." "Well, for Christs sake, get it! Youre not one ofthosepeople who trusts his memory, are you?" "I dont think Illforget that face youre working on verysoon." "Youll forget it when youre dead, and so will I.When Imdead, Im going to forget everything--and I advise you todo the same.""Has she been posing for this or are you working fromphotographs or what?""Im working from or what." "What?" "Im working from orwhat." He tapped his temple. "Its allin this enviable head of mine." "You know her?""That happiness is mine." "Frank Hoenikkers a lucky man.""Frank Hoenikker is a piece of shit." "Youre certainlycandid." "Im also rich." "Glad to hear it." "If you wantan expert opinion, money doesnt necessarilymake people happy." "Thanks for the information. Youvejust saved me a lot oftrouble. I was just about to make some money." "How?""Writing." "I wrote a book once." "What was it called?""_San Lorenzo_," he said, "the Land, the History, thePeople_."Tutored by Bokonon 70"You, I take it," I said to the mosaicist, "are PhilipCastle, son of Julian Castle.""That happiness is mine." "Im here to see your father.""Are you an aspirin salesman?" "No." "Too bad. Fathers lowon aspirin. How about miracle drugs?Father enjoys pulling off a miracle now and then." "Im nota drug salesman. Im a writer." "What makes you think awriter isnt a drug salesman?" "Ill accept that. Guilty ascharged." "Father needs some kind of book to read to peoplewho aredying or in terrible pain. I dont suppose youve writtenanything like that.""Not yet.""I think thered be money in it. Theres another valuabletip for you.""I suppose I could overhaul the Twenty-third Psalm,switch it around a little so nobody would realize it wasntoriginal with me.""Bokonon tried to overhaul it," he told me. "Bokonon foundout he couldnt change a word."
154. "You know him, too?""That happiness is mine. He was my tutor when I was alittle boy." He gestured sentimentally at the mosaic. "Hewas Monas tutor, too.""Was he a good teacher?""Mona and I can both read and write and do simple sums,"said Castle, "if thats what you mean."The Happiness of Being an American 71H. Lowe Crosby came over to have another go at Castle, thepissant."What do you call yourself," sneered Crosby, "a beatnik orwhat?""I call myself a Bokononist.""Thats against the law in this country, isnt it?""I happen to have the happiness of being an American. Ivebeen able to say Im a Bokononist any time I damn please,and, so far, nobodys bothered me at all.""I believe in obeying the laws of whatever country I happento be in.""You are not telling me the news." Crosby was livid. "Screwyou, Jack!" "Screw you, Jasper," said Castle mildly, "andscrew MothersDay and Christmas, too." Crosby marched across the lobby tothe desk clerk and hesaid, "I want to report that man over there, that pissant,that so-called artist. Youve got a nice little countryhere thats trying to attract the tourist trade and newinvestment in industry. The way that man talked to me, Idont ever want to see San Lorenzo again--and any friendwho asks me about San Lorenzo, Ill tell him to keep thehell away. You may be getting a nice picture on the wallover there, but, by God, the pissant whos making it is themost insulting, discouraging son of a bitch I ever met inmy life."The clerk looked sick. "Sir . . ." "Im listening," saidCrosby, full of fire. "Sir--he owns the hotel."The Pissant Hilton 72H. Lowe Crosby and his wife checked out of the Casa Mona.Crosby called it "The Pissant Hilton," and he demandedquarters at the American embassy.So I was the only guest in a one-hundred-room hotel.My room was a pleasant one. It faced, as did all the rooms,the Boulevard of the Hundred Martyrs to Democracy, MonzanoAirport, and Bolivar harbor beyond. The Casa Mona was builtlike a bookcase, with solid sides and back and with a frontof blue-green glass. The squalor and misery of the city,being to the sides and back of the Casa Mona, were
155. impossible to see.My room was air-conditioned. It was almost chilly. And,coming from the blamming heat into that chilliness, Isneezed.There were fresh flowers on my bedside table, but my bedhad not yet been made. There wasnt even a pillow on thebed. There was simply a bare, brand-new Beautyrestmattress. And there werent any coat hangers in the closet;and there wasnt any toilet paper in the bathroom.So I went out in the corridor to see if there was achambermaid who would equip me a little more completely.There wasnt anybody out there, but there was a door openat the far end and very faint sounds of life.I went to this door and found a large suite paved withdrop- cloths. It was being painted, but the two painterswerent painting when I appeared. They were sitting on ashelf that ran the width of the window wall.They had their shoes off. They had their eyes closed. Theywere facing each other.They were pressing the soles of their bare feet together.Each grasped his own ankles, giving himself the rigidity ofa triangle.I cleared my throat.The two rolled off the shelf and fell to the spattereddropcloth. They landed on their hands and knees, and theystayed in that position--their behinds in the air, theirnoses close to the ground.They were expecting to be killed. "Excuse me," I said,amazed. "Dont tell," begged one querulously. "Please--please donttell." "Tell what?""What you saw!" "I didnt see anything." "If you tell," hesaid, and he put his cheek to the floor andlooked up at me beseechingly, "if you tell, well die onthe _hy- u-o-ook-kuh!_""Look, friends," I said, "either I came in too early or toolate, but, I tell you again, I didnt see anything worthmentioning to anybody. Please--get up."They got up, their eyes still on me. They trembled andcowered. I convinced them at last that I would never tellwhat I had seen.What I had seen, of course, was the Bokononist ritual of_boko-maru_, or the mingling of awarenesses.We Bokononists believe that it is impossible to be sole-to-sole with another person without loving the person,provided the feet of both persons are clean and nicelytended.
156. The basis for the foot ceremony is this "Calypso":We will touch our feet, yes, Yes, for all were worth, Andwe will love each other, yes, Yes, like we love our MotherEarth.Black Death 73When I got back to my room I found that Philip Castle--mosaicist, historian, self-indexer, pissant, and hotel-keeper--was installing a roll of toilet paper in mybathroom."Thank you very much," I said. "Youre entirely welcome.""This is what Id call a hotel with a real heart. How manyhotel owners would take such a direct interest in thecomfort of a guest?""How many hotel owners have just one guest?" "You used tohave three." "Those were the days." "You know, I may bespeaking out of turn, but I find it hardto understand how a person of your interests and talentswould be attracted to the hotel business."He frowned perplexedly. "I dont seem to be as good withguests as I might, do I?""I knew some people in the Hotel School at Cornell, and Icant help feeling they would have treated the Crosbyssomewhat differently."He nodded uncomfortably. "I know. I know." He flapped hisarms. "Damned if I know why I built this hotel --somethingto do with my life, I guess. A way to be busy, a way not tobe lonesome." He shook his head. "It was be a hermit oropen a hotel- -with nothing in between.""Werent you raised at your fathers hospital?" "Thatsright. Mona and I both grew up there." "Well, arent you atall tempted to do with your life whatyour fathers done with his?" Young Castle smiled wanly,avoiding a direct answer. "Hes afunny person, Father is," he said. "I think youll likehim.""I expect to. There arent many people whove been asunselfish as he has." "One time," said a mutiny near hereon with a load of wicker ship, didnt know how near PapaMonzanosCastle, "when I was about fifteen, there was a Greek shipbound from Hong Kong to Havana furniture. The mutineers gotcontrol of the to run her, and smashed her up on the rockscastle. Everybody drowned but the rats. Therats and the wicker furniture came ashore." That seemed tobe the end of the story, but I couldnt besure. "So?" "So some people got free furniture, and somepeople got
157. bubonic plague. At Fathers hospital, we had fourteen-hundred deaths inside of ten days. Have you ever seenanyone die of bubonic plague?""That unhappiness has not been mine.""The lymph glands in the groin and the armpits swell to thesize of grapefruit.""I can well believe it.""After death, the body turns black--coals to Newcastle inthe case of San Lorenzo. When the plague was havingeverything its own way, the House of Hope and Mercy in theJungle looked like Auschwitz or Buchenwald. We had stacksof dead so deep and wide that a bulldozer actually stalledtrying to shove them toward a common grave. Father workedwithout sleep for days, worked not only without sleep butwithout saving many lives, either."Castles grisly tale was interrupted by the ringing of mytelephone."My God," said Castle, "I didnt even know the telephoneswere connected yet."I picked up the phone. "Hello?"It was Major General Franklin Hoenikker who had called meup. He sounded out of breath and scared stiff. "Listen!Youve got to come out to my house right away. Weve got tohave a talk! It could be a very important thing in yourlife!""Could you give me some idea?""Not on the phone, not on the phone. You come to my house.You come right away! Please!""All right.""Im not kidding you. This is a really important thing inyour life. This is the most important thing ever." He hungup."What was that all about?" asked Castle."I havent got the slightest idea. Frank Hoenikker wants tosee me right away.""Take your time. Relax. Hes a moron." "He said it wasimportant." "How does he know whats important? I couldcarve a betterman out of a banana.""Well, finish your story anyway." "Where was I?" "Thebubonic plague. The bulldozer was stalled by corpses." "Oh,yes. Anyway, one sleepless night I stayed up with Fatherwhile he worked. It was all we could do to find a livepatient to treat. In bed after bed after bed we found deadpeople."And Father started giggling," Castle continued."He couldnt stop. He walked out into the night with his
158. flashlight. He was still giggling. He was making theflashlight beam dance over all the dead people stackedoutside. He put his hand on my head, and do you know whatthat marvelous man said to me?" asked Castle."Nope.""Son, my father said to me, someday this will all beyours."Cats Cradle 74I went to Franks house in San Lorenzos one taxicab.We passed through scenes of hideous want. We climbed theslope of Mount McCabe. The air grew cooler. There was mist.Franks house had once been the home of Nestor Aamons,father of Mona, architect of the House of Hope and Mercy inthe Jungle.Aamons had designed it.It straddled a waterfall; had a terrace cantilevered outinto the mist rising from the fall. It was a cunninglattice of very light steel posts and beams. Theinterstices of the lattice were variously open, chinkedwith native stone, glazed, or curtained by sheets of canvas.The effect of the house was not so much to enclose as toannounce that a man had been whimsically busy there.A servant greeted me politely and told me that Frank wasnthome yet. Frank was expected at any moment. Frank had leftorders to the effect that I was to be made happy andcomfortable, and that I was to stay for supper and thenight. The servant, who introduced himself as Stanley, wasthe first plump San Lorenzan I had seen.Stanley led me to my room; led me around the heart of thehouse, down a staircase of living stone, a staircasesheltered or exposed by steel-framed rectangles at random.My bed was a foam- rubber slab on a stone shelf, a shelf ofliving stone. The walls of my chamber were canvas. Stanleydemonstrated how I might roll them up or down, as I pleased.I asked Stanley if anybody else was home, and he told methat only Newt was. Newt, he said, was out on thecantilevered terrace, painting a picture. Angela, he said,had gone sightseeing to the House of Hope and Mercy in theJungle.I went out onto the giddy terrace that straddled thewaterfall and found little Newt asleep in a yellowbutterfly chair.The painting on which Newt had been working was set on aneasel next to the aluminum railing. The painting was framedin a misty view of sky, sea, and valley.Newts painting was small and black and warty.It consisted of scratches made in a black, gummy impasto.
159. The scratches formed a sort of spiders web, and I wonderedif they might not be the sticky nets of human futility hungup on a moonless night to dry.I did not wake up the midget who had made this dreadfulthing. I smoked, listening to imagined voices in the watersounds. What awakened little Newt was an explosion far awaybelow. Itcaromed up the valley and went to God. It was a cannon onthe water front of Bolivar, Franks major-domo told me. Itwas fired every day at five.Little Newt stirred.While still half-snoozing, he put his black, painty handsto his mouth and chin, leaving black smears there. Herubbed his eyes and made black smears around them, too.it.""Hello," he said to me, sleepily. "Hello," I said. "I likeyour painting." "You see what it is?" "I suppose it meanssomething different to everyone who sees"Its a cats cradle." "Aha," I said. "Very good. Thescratches are string. Right?" "One of the oldest gamesthere is, cats cradle. Even theEskimos know it." "You dont say.""For maybe a hundred thousand years or more, grownups havebeen waving tangles of string in their childrens faces.""Um."Newt remained curled in the chair. He held out his paintyhands as though a cats cradle were strung between them."No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cats cradle is nothingbut a bunchof Xs between somebodys hands, and little kids look andlook and look at all those Xs . . .""And?" "_No damn cat, and no damn cradle_."Give My Regards to Albert Schweitzer 75And then Angela Hoenikker Conners, Newts beanpole sister,came in with Julian Castle, father of Philip, and founderof the House of Hope and Mercy in the Jungle. Castle wore abaggy white linen suit and a string tie. He had a scragglymustache. He was bald. He was scrawny. He was a saint, Ithink.He introduced himself to Newt and to me on the cantileveredterrace. He forestalled all references to his possiblesaintliness by talking out of the corner of his mouth likea movie gangster."I understand you are a follower of Albert Schweitzer," Isaid to him."At a distance . . ." He gave a criminal sneer. "Ive nevermet the gentleman."
160. "He must surely know of your work, just as you know ofhis." "Maybe and maybe not. You ever see him?" "No." "Youever expect to see him?""Someday maybe I will.""Well," said Julian Castle, "in case you run across Dr.Schweitzer in your travels, you might tell him that he is_not_ my hero." He lit a big cigar.When the cigar was going good and hot he pointed its redend at me. "You can tell him he isnt my hero," he said,"but you can also tell him that, thanks to him, JesusChrist _is_.""I think hell be glad to hear it.""I dont give a damn if he is or not. This is somethingbetween Jesus and me."Julian Castle Agrees with Newt 76 that Everything IsMeaninglessJulian Castle and Angela went to Newts painting. Castlemade a pinhole of a curled index finger, squinted at thepainting through it."What do you think of it?" I asked him. "Its _black_. Whatis it--hell?" "It means whatever it means," said Newt."Then its hell," snarled Castle."I was told a moment ago that it was a cats cradle," Isaid. "Inside information always helps," said Castle. "Idont think its very nice," Angela complained. "I thinkits ugly, but I dont know anything about modern art.Sometimes I wish Newt would take some lessons, so he couldknow for sure if he was doing something or not.""Self-taught, are you?" Julian Castle asked Newt. "Isnteverybody?" Newt inquired. "Very good answer." Castle wasrespectful. I undertook to explain the deeper significanceof the catscradle, since Newt seemed disinclined to go through thatsong and dance again.And Castle nodded sagely. "So this is a picture of themeaninglessness of it all! I couldnt agree more.""Do you _really_ agree?" I asked. "A minute ago you saidsomething about Jesus.""Who?" said, Castle. "Jesus Christ?" "Oh," said Castle."_Him_." He shrugged. "People have to talkabout something just to keep their voice boxes in workingorder, so theyll have good voice boxes in case theresever anything really meaningful to say.""I see." I knew I wasnt going to have an easy time writinga popular article about him. I was going to have toconcentrate on his saintly deeds and ignore entirely thesatanic things he thought and said.
161. "You may quote me:" he said. "Man is vile, and man makesnothing worth making, knows nothing worth knowing."He leaned down and he shook little Newts painty hand."Right?"Newt nodded, seeming to suspect momentarily that the casehad been a little overstated. "Right."And then the saint marched to Newts painting and took itfrom its easel. He beamed at us all. "Garbage--likeeverything else."And he threw the painting off the cantilevered terrace. Itsailed out on an updraft, stalled, boomeranged back, slicedinto the waterfall.There was nothing little Newt could say.Angela spoke first. "Youve got paint all over your face,honey. Go wash it off."Aspirin and Boko-maru 77"Tell me, Doctor," I said to Julian Castle, "how is PapaMonzano?""How would I know?" "I thought youd probably been treatinghim." "We dont speak . . ." Castle smiled. "He doesntspeak tome, that is. The last thing he said to me, which was aboutthree years ago, was that the only thing that kept me offthe hook was my American citizenship.""What have you done to offend him? You come down here andwith your own money found a free hospital for hispeople . . .""Papa doesnt like the way we treat the whole patient,"said Castle, "particularly the whole patient when hesdying. At the House of Hope and Mercy in the Jungle, weadminister the last rites of the Bokononist Church to thosewho want them.""What are the rites like?""Very simple. They start with a responsive reading. Youwant to respond?""Im not that close to death just now, if you dont mind."He gave me a grisly wink. "Youre wise to be cautious.People taking the last rites have a way of dying on cue. Ithink we could keep you from going all the way, though, ifwe didnt touch feet.""Feet?" He told me about the Bokononist attitude relativeto feet. "That explains something I saw in the hotel." Itold himabout the two painters on the window sill."It works, you know," he said. "People who do that reallydo feel better about each other and the world.""Um." "_Boko-maru_." "Sir?" "Thats what the foot business
162. is called," said Castle. "Itworks. Im grateful for things that work. Not many things_do_ work, you know.""I suppose not.""I couldnt possibly run that hospital of mine if itwerent for aspirin and _boko-maru_.""I gather," I said, "that there are still severalBokononists on the island, despite the laws, despite the_hy-u-o-ook-kuh_ . . ."He laughed. "You havent caught on, yet?" "To what?""Everybody on San Lorenzo is a devout Bokononist, the _hy-u-o-ook-kuh_ notwithstanding."Ring of Steel 78"When Bokonon and McCabe took over this miserable countryyears ago," said Julian Castle, "they threw out thepriests. And then Bokonon, cynically and playfully,invented a new religion.""I know," I said."Well, when it became evident that no governmental oreconomic reform was going to make the people much lessmiserable, the religion became the one real instrument ofhope. Truth was the enemy of the people, because the truthwas so terrible, so Bokonon made it his business to providethe people with better and better lies.""How did he come to be an outlaw?""It was his own idea. He asked McCabe to outlaw him and hisreligion, too, in order to give the religious life of thepeople more zest, more tang. He wrote a little poem aboutit, incidentally."Castle quoted this poem, which does not appear in _TheBooks of Bokonon_:So I said good-bye to government, And I gave my reason:That a really good religion Is a form of treason."Bokonon suggested the hook, too, as the proper punishmentfor Bokononists," he said. "It was something hed seen inthe Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds." He winkedghoulishly. "That was for zest, too.""Did many people die on the hook?""Not at first, not at first. At first it was all make-believe. Rumors were cunningly circulated about executions,but no one really knew anyone who had died that way. McCabehad a good old time making bloodthirsty threats against theBokononists-- which was everybody."And Bokonon went into cozy hiding in the jungle," Castlecontinued, "where he wrote and preached all day long andate good things his disciples brought him."McCabe would organize the unemployed, which was
163. practically everybody, into great Bokonon hunts."About every six months McCabe would announce triumphantlythat Bokonon was surrounded by a ring of steel, which wasremorselessly closing in."And then the leaders of the remorseless ring would have toreport to McCabe, full of chagrin and apoplexy, thatBokonon had done the impossible."He had escaped, had evaporated, had lived to preachanother day. Miracle!"Why McCabes Soul Grew Coarse 79"McCabe and Bokonon did not succeed in raising what isgenerally thought of as the standard of living," saidCastle. "The truth was that life was as short and brutishand mean as ever."But people didnt have to pay as much attention to theawful truth. As the living legend of the cruel tyrant inthe city and the gentle holy man in the jungle grew, so,too, did the happiness of the people grow. They were allemployed full time as actors in a play they understood,that any human being anywhere could understand and applaud.""So life became a work of art," I marveled. "Yes. There wasonly one trouble with it." "Oh?" "The drama was very toughon the souls of the two mainactors, McCabe and Bokonon. As young men, they had beenpretty much alike, had both been half-angel, half-pirate."But the drama demanded that the pirate half of Bokonon andthe angel half of McCabe wither away. And McCabe andBokonon paid a terrible price in agony for the happiness ofthe people--McCabe knowing the agony of the tyrant andBokonon knowing the agony of the saint. They both became,for all practical purposes, insane."Castle crooked the index finger of his left hand. "Andthen, people really did start dying on the _hy-u-o-ook-kuh_.""But Bokonon was never caught?" I asked."McCabe never went that crazy. He never made a reallyserious effort to catch Bokonon. It would have been easy todo.""Why didnt he catch him?""McCabe was always sane enough to realize that without theholy man to war against, he himself would becomemeaningless. Papa Monzano understands that, too.""Do people still die on the hook?" "Its inevitably fatal.""I mean," I said, "does Papa really have people executedthat way?" "He executes one every two years--just to keepthe potboiling, so to speak." He sighed, looking up at the evening
164. "Busy, busy, busy.""Sir?""Its what we Bokononists say," he said, "when we feel lotof mysterious things are going on.""You?" I was amazed. "A Bokononist, too?" He gazed at melevelly. "You, too. Youll find out."sky. that aThe Waterfall Strainers 80Angela and Newt were on the cantilevered terrace withJulian Castle and me. We had cocktails. There was still noword from Frank.Both Angela and Newt, it appeared, were fairly heavydrinkers. Castle told me that his days as a playboy hadcost him a kidney, and that he was unhappily compelled, perforce, to stick to ginger ale.Angela, when she got a few drinks into her, complained ofhow the world had swindled her father. "He gave so much,and they gave him so little."I pressed her for examples of the worlds stinginess andgot some exact numbers. "General Forge and Foundry gave hima forty- five-dollar bonus for every patent his work ledto," she said. "Thats the same patent bonus they paidanybody in the company." She shook her head mournfully."Forty-five dollars--and just think what some of thosepatents were for!""Um," I said. "I assume he got a salary, too.""The most he ever made was twenty-eight thousand dollars ayear.""Id say that was pretty good."She got very huffy. "A lot, sometimes." "You know Dr. Breedthan Father did?" "That was certainly"You know what movie stars make?" made ten thousand moredollars a year an injustice.""Im sick of injustice."She was so shrilly exercised that I changed the subject. Iasked Julian Castle what he thought had become of thepainting he had thrown down the waterfall."Theres a little village at the bottom," he told me. "Fiveor ten shacks, Id say. Its Papa Monzanos birthplace,incidentally. The waterfall ends in a big stone bowl there."The villagers have a net made out of chicken wirestretched across a notch in the bowl. Water spills outthrough the notch into a stream.""And Newts painting is in the net now, you think?" I asked."This is a poor country--in case you havent noticed," saidCastle. "Nothing stays in the net very long. I imagineNewts painting is being dried in the sun by now, along
165. with the butt of my cigar. Four square feet of gummycanvas, the four milled and mitered sticks of thestretcher, some tacks, too, and a cigar. All in all, apretty nice catch for some poor, poor man.""I could just scream sometimes," said Angela, "when I thinkabout how much some people get paid and how little they paidFather--and how much he gave." She was on the edge of acryingjag."Dont cry," Newt begged her gently. "Sometimes I canthelp it," she said. "Go get your clarinet," urged Newt."That always helps." I thought at first that this was afairly comical suggestion.But then, from Angelas reaction, I learned that thesuggestion was serious and practical."When I get this way," she said to Castle and me,"sometimes its the only thing that helps."But she was too shy to get her clarinet right away. We hadto keep begging her to play, and she had to have two moredrinks."Shes really just wonderful," little Newt promised. "Idlove to hear you play," said Castle. "All right," saidAngela finally as she rose unsteadily. "Allright--I will." When she was out of earshot, Newtapologized for her., "Sheshad a tough time. She needs a rest." "Shes been sick?" Iasked. "Her husband is mean as hell to her," said Newt. Heshowed usthat he hated Angelas handsome young husband, theextremely successful Harrison C. Conners, President ofFabri-Tek. "He hardly ever comes home--and, when he does,hes drunk and generally covered with lipstick.""From the way she talked," I said, "I thought it was a veryhappy marriage."Little Newt held his hands six inches apart and he spreadhis fingers. "See the cat? See the cradle?"A White Bride for the Son of a Pullman Porter 81I did not know what was going to come from Angelasclarinet. No one could have imagined what was going to comefrom there.I expected something pathological, but I did not expect thedepth, the violence, and the almost intolerable beauty ofthe disease.Angela moistened and warmed the mouthpiece, but did notblow a single preliminary note. Her eyes glazed over, andher long, bony fingers twittered idly over the noiselesskeys.
166. I waited anxiously, and I remembered what Marvin Breed hadtold me--that Angelas one escape from her bleak life withher father was to her room, where she would lock the doorand play along with phonograph records.Newt now put a long-playing record on the large phonographin the room off the terrace. He came back with the recordsslipcase, which he handed to me.The record was called _Cat House Piano_. It was ofunaccompanied piano by Meade Lux Lewis.Since Angela, in order to deepen her trance, let Lewis playhis first number without joining him, I read some of whatthe jacket said about Lewis."Born in Louisville, Ky., in 1905," I read, "Mr. Lewisdidnt turn to music until he had passed his 16th birthdayand then the instrument provided by his father was theviolin. A year later young Lewis chanced to hear JimmyYancey play the piano. This, as Lewis recalls, was thereal thing. Soon," I read, "Lewis was teaching himself toplay the boogie-woogie piano, absorbing all that waspossible from the older Yancey, who remained until hisdeath a close friend and idol to Mr. Lewis. Since hisfather was a Pullman porter," I read, "the Lewis familylived near the railroad. The rhythm of the trains soonbecame a natural pattern to young Lewis and he composed theboogie-woogie solo, now a classic of its kind, which becameknown as Honky Tonk Train Blues."I looked up from my reading. The first number on the recordwas done. The phonograph needle was now scratching its slowway across the void to the second. The second number, Ilearned from the jacket, was "Dragon Blues."Meade Lux Lewis played four bars alone-and then AngelaHoenikker joined in.Her eyes were closed. I was flabbergasted. She was great.She improvised around the music of the Pullman porters son;went from liquid lyricism to rasping lechery to the shrillskittishness of a frightened child, to a heroin nightmare.Her glissandi spoke of heaven and hell and all that laybetween.Such music from such a woman could only be a case ofschizophrenia or demonic possession.My hair stood on end, as though Angela were rolling on thefloor, foaming at the mouth, and babbling fluent Babylonian.When the music was done, I shrieked at Julian Castle, whowas transfixed, too, "My God--life! Who can understand evenone little minute of it?""Dont try," he said. "Just pretend you understand.""Thats--thats very good advice." I went limp. Castle
167. quoted another poem:Tiger got to hunt, Bird got to fly; Man got to sit andwonder, "Why, why, why?" Tiger got to sleep, Bird got toland; Man got to tell himself he understand."Whats that from?" I asked. "What could it possibly befrom but _The Books of Bokonon?_" "Id love to see a copysometime." "Copies are hard to come by," said Castle. "Theyarentprinted. Theyre made by hand. And, of course, there is nosuch thing as a completed copy, since Bokonon is addingthings every day."Little Newt snorted. "Religion!" "Beg your pardon?" Castlesaid. "See the cat?" asked Newt. "See the cradle?"Zah-mah-ki-bo 82Major General Franklin Hoenikker didnt appear for supper.He telephoned, and insisted on talking to me and to no oneelse. He told me that he was keeping a vigil by "Papas"bed; that "Papa" was dying in great pain. Frank soundedscared and lonely."Look," I said, "why dont I go back to my hotel, and youand I can get together later, when this crisis is over.""No, no, no. You stay right there! I want you to be where Ican get hold of you right away!" He was panicky about myslippingout of his grasp. Since I couldnt account for his interestin me, I began to feel panic, too."Could you give me some idea what you want to see meabout?" I asked."Not over the telephone." "Something about your father?""Something about _you_." "Something Ive done?" "Somethingyoure _going_ to do." I heard a chicken clucking in thebackground of Franks endof the line. I heard a door open, and xylophone music camefrom some chamber. The music was again "When Day Is Done."And then the door was closed, and I couldnt hear the musicany more."Id appreciate it if youd give me some small hint of whatyou expect me to do--so I can sort of get set," I said."_Zah-mah-ki-bo_." "What?" "Its a Bokononist word." "Idont know any Bokononist words." "Julian Castles there?""Yes." "Ask him," said Frank. "Ive got to go now." He hungup. So Iasked Julian Castle what _zah-mah-ki-bo_ meant. "You want asimple answer or a whole answer?" "Lets start with asimple one." "Fate--inevitable destiny."Dr. Schlichter von Koenigswald 83 Approaches the Break-evenPoint
168. "Cancer," said Julian Castle "Papa" was dying in pain."Cancer of what?""Cancer of about everything. reviewing stand today?""He sure did," said Angela.at dinner, when I told him that You say he collapsed on the"That was the effect of drugs," Castle declared. "Hes atthe point now where drugs and pain just about balance out.More drugs would kill him.""Id kill myself, I think," murmured Newt. He was sittingon a sort of folding high chair he took with him when hewent visiting. It was made of aluminum tubing and canvas."It beats sitting on a dictionary, an atlas, and atelephone book," hed said when he erected it."Thats what Corporal McCabe did, of course," said Castle."He named his major-domo as his successor, then he shothimself.""Cancer, too?" I asked."I cant be sure; I dont think so, though. Unrelievedvillainy just wore him out, is my guess. That was allbefore my time.""This certainly is a cheerful conversation," said Angela."I think everybody would agree that these are cheerfultimes," said Castle."Well," I said to him, "Id think you would have morereasons for being cheerful than most, doing what you aredoing with your life.""I once had a yacht, too, you know." "I dont follow you.""Having a yacht is a reason for being more cheerful thanmost, too." "If you arent Papas doctor," I said, "whois?" "One of my staff, a Dr. Schlichter von Koenigswald.""A German?" "Vaguely. He was in the S.S. for fourteenyears. He was acamp physician at Auschwitz for six of those years." "Doingpenance at the House of Hope and Mercy is he?" "Yes," saidCastle, "and making great strides, too, savinglives right and left." "Good for him.""Yes. If he keeps going at his present rate, working nightand day, the number of people hes saved will equal thenumber of people he let die--in the year 3010."So theres another member of my _karass_: Dr. Schlichtervon Koenigswald.Blackout 84Three hours after supper Frank still hadnt come home.Julian Castle excused himself and went back to the House ofHope and Mercy in the Jungle.Angela and Newt and I sat on the cantilevered terrace. Thelights of Bolivar were lovely below us. There was a great,
169. illuminated cross on top of the administration building ofMonzano Airport. It was motor-driven, turning slowly,boxing the compass with electric piety.There were other bright places on the island, too, to thenorth of us. Mountains prevented our seeing them directly,but we could see in the sky their balloons of light. Iasked Stanley, Frank Hoenikkers major-domo, to identifyfor me the sources of the auroras.He pointed them out, counterclockwise. "House of Hope andMercy in the Jungle, Papas palace, and Fort Jesus.""Fort Jesus?" "The training camp for our soldiers." "Itsnamed after Jesus Christ?" "Sure. Why not?" There was a newballoon of light growing quickly to thenorth. Before I could ask what it was, it revealed itselfas headlights topping a ridge. The headlights were comingtoward us. They belonged to a convoy.The convoy was composed of five American-made army trucks.Machine gunners manned ring mounts on the tops of the cabs.The convoy stopped in Franks driveway. Soldiers dismountedat once. They set to work on the grounds, digging foxholesand machine-gun pits. I went out with Franks major-domo toask the officer in charge what was going on."We have been ordered to protect the next President of SanLorenzo," said the officer in island dialect."He isnt here now," I informed him."I dont know anything about it," he said. "My orders areto dig in here. Thats all I know."I told Angela and Newt about it. "Do you think theres anyreal danger?" Angela asked me. "Im a stranger heremyself," I said. At that moment there was a power failure.Every electriclight in San Lorenzo went out.A Pack of Foma 85Franks servants brought us gasoline lanterns; told us thatpower failures were common in San Lorenzo, that there wasno cause for alarm. I found that disquiet was hard for meto set aside, however, since Frank had spoken of my _zah-mah-ki-bo_.He had made me feel as though my own free will were asirrelevant as the free will of a piggy-wig arriving at theChicago stockyards.I remembered again the stone angel in ilium.And I listened to the soldiers outside--to their clinking,chunking, murmuring labors.I was unable to concentrate on the conversation of Angelaand Newt, though they got onto a fairly interestingsubject. They told me that their father had had an
170. identical twin. They had never met him. His name wasRudolph. The last they had heard of him, he was a music-boxmanufacturer in Zurich, Switzerland."Father hardly ever mentioned him," said Angela. "Fatherhardly ever mentioned anybody," Newt declared.There was a sister of the old man, too, they told name wasCelia. She raised giant schnauzers on Shelterme. Her Island, NewlittleYork.Newt."She always sends a Christmas card," said Angela. "With apicture of a giant schnauzer on it," said"It sure is funny how different people in differentfamilies turn out," Angela observed."Thats very true and well said," I agreed. I excusedmyself from the glittering company, and I asked Stanley,the major-domo, if there happened to be a copy of _TheBooks of Bokonon_ about the house.Stanley pretended not to know what I was talking about. Andthen he grumbled that _The Books of Bokonon_ were filth.And then he insisted that anyone who read them should dieon the hook. And then he brought me a copy from Franksbedside table.It was a heavy thing, about the size of an unabridgeddictionary. It was written by hand. I trundled it off to mybedroom, to my slab of rubber on living rock.There was no index, so my search for the implications of_zah-mah-ki-bo_ was difficult; was, in fact, fruitless thatnight. I learned some things, but they were scarcelyhelpful. Ilearned of the Bokononist cosmogony, for instance, wherein_Borasisi_, the sun, held _Pabu_, the moon, in his arms,and hoped that _Pabu_ would bear him a fiery child.But poor _Pabu_ gave birth to children that were cold, thatdid not burn; and _Borasisi_ threw them away in disgust.These were the planets, who circled their terrible fatherat a safe distance.Then poor _Pabu_ herself was cast away, and she went tolive with her favorite child, which was Earth. Earth was_Pabus_ favorite because it had people on it; and thepeople looked up at her and loved her and sympathized.And what opinion did Bokonon hold of his own cosmogony?"_Foma!_ Lies!" he wrote. "A pack of _foma!_"Two Little Jugs 86Its hard to believe that I slept at all, but I must have--for, otherwise, how could I have found myself awakened by a
171. series of bangs and a flood of light?I rolled out of bed at the first bang and ran to the heartof the house in the brainless ecstasy of a volunteerfireman.I found myself rushing headlong at Newt and Angela, whowere fleeing from beds of their own.We all stopped short, sheepishly analyzing the nightmarishsounds around us, sorting them out as coming from a radio,from an electric dishwasher, from a pump--all restored tonoisy life by the return of electric power.The three of us awakened enough to realize that there washumor in our situation, that we had reacted in amusinglyhuman ways to a situation that seemed mortal but wasnt.And to demonstrate my mastery over my illusory fate, Iturned the radio off.We all chuckled.And we all vied, in saving face, to be the greatest studentof human nature, the person with the quickest sense ofhumor.Newt was the quickest; he pointed out to me that I had mypassport and my billfold and my wristwatch in my hands. Ihad no idea what Id grabbed in the face of death--didntknow Id grabbed anything.I countered hilariously by asking Angela and Newt why itwas that they both carried little Thermos jugs, identicalred-and-gray jugs capable of holding about three cups ofcoffee.It was news to them both that they were carrying such jugs.They were shocked to find them in their hands.They were spared making an explanation by more bangingoutside. I was bound to find out what the banging was rightaway; and, with a brazenness as unjustified as my earlierpanic, I investigated, found Frank Hoenikker outsidetinkering with a motor-generator set mounted on a truck.The generator was the new source of our electricity. Thegasoline motor that drove it was backfiring and smoking.Frank was trying to fix it.He had the heavenly Mona with him. She was watching him, asalways, gravely."Boy, have I got news for you!" he yelled at me, and he ledthe way back into the house.Angela and Newt were still in the living room, but,somehow, somewhere, they had managed to get rid of theirpeculiar Thermosjugs.The contents of those jugs, of course, were parts of thelegacies from Dr. Felix Hoenikker, were parts of the
172. _wampeter_ of my _karass_, were chips of _ice-nine_.Frank took me aside. "How awake are you?" "As awake as Iever was." "I hope youre really wide awake, becausetalk right now." "Start talking.""Lets get some privacy." Frank told Mona comfortable."Well call you if we need you."weve got to have ato make herselfI looked at Mona, meltingly, and I thought that I had neverneeded anyone as much as I needed her.The Cut of My Jib 81About this Franklin Hoenikker--the pinch-faced child spokewith the timbre and conviction of a kazoo. I had heard itsaid in the Army that such and such a man spoke like a manwith a paperrectum. Such a man was General Hoenikker. Poor Frank hadhad almost no experience in talking to anyone, having spenta furtive childhood as Secret Agent X-9.Now, hoping to be hearty and persuasive, he said tinnythings to me, things like, "I like the cut of your jib!"and "I want to talk cold turkey to you, man to man!"And he took me down to what he called his "den" in orderthat we might, ". . . call a spade a spade, and let thechips fall where they may."So we went down steps cut into a cliff and into a naturalcave that was beneath and behind the waterfall. There werea couple of drawing tables down there; three pale, bare-boned Scandinavian chairs; a bookcase containing books onarchitecture, books in German, French, Finnish, Italian,English.All was lit by electric lights, lights that pulsed with thepanting of the motor-generator set.And the most striking thing about the cave was that therewere pictures painted on the walls, painted withkindergarten boldness, painted with the flat clay, earth,and charcoal colors of very early man. I did not have toask Frank how old the cave paintings were. I was able todate them by their subject. The paintings were not ofmammoths or saber-toothed tigers or ithyphallic cave bears.The paintings treated endlessly the aspects of Mona AamonsMonzano as a little girl."This--this is where Monas father worked?" I asked."Thats right. He was the Finn who designed the House ofHope and Mercy in the Jungle.""I know." "That isnt what I brought you down here to talkabout." "This is something about your father?" "This isabout _you_." Frank put his hand on my shoulder and
173. he looked me in the eye. The effect was dismaying. Frankmeant to inspire camaraderie, but his head looked to melike a bizarre little owl, blinded by light and perched ona tall white post."Maybe youd better come to the point.""Theres no sense in beating around the bush," he said."Im a pretty good judge of character, if I do say somyself, and I like the cut of your jib.""Thank you." "I think you and I could really hit it off.""I have no doubt of it." Weve both got things that mesh."I was grateful when he took his hand from my shoulder. Hemeshed the fingers of his hands like gear teeth. One handrepresented him, I suppose, and the other represented me."We need each other." He wiggled his fingers to show me howgears worked.I was silent for some time, though outwardly friendly. "Doyou get my meaning?" asked Frank at last. "You and I--weregoing to _do_ something together?" "Thats right!" Frankclapped his hands. "Youre a worldlyperson, used to meeting the public; and Im a technicalperson, used to working behind the scenes, making thingsgo.""How can you possibly know what kind of a person I am?Weve just met.""Your clothes, the way you talk." He put his hand on myshoulder again. "I like the cut of your jib!""So you said."Frank was frantic for me to complete his thought, to do itenthusiastically, but I was still at sea. "Am I tounderstand that . . . that you are offering me some kind ofjob here, here in San Lorenzo?"He clapped his hands. He was delighted. "Thats right! Whatwould you say to a hundred thousand dollars a year?""Good God!" I cried. "What would I have to do for that?""Practically nothing. And youd drink out of gold gobletsevery night and eat off of gold own.""Whats the job?" "President of the RepublicWhy Frank Couldnt Be President"Me? President?" I gasped. "Who else is there?" "Nuts!""Dont say no until youvewatched me anxiously. "No!"plates and have a palace all your of San Lorenzo."88really thought about it." Frank"You havent really thought about it." "Enough to know itscrazy." Frank made his fingers into gears again. "Wed work_together_. Id be backing you up all the time."
174. too.""Good. So, if I got plugged from the front youd get it,"Plugged?" "Shot! Assassinated!" Frank was mystified. "Whywould anybody shoot you?" "So he could get to bePresident." Frank shook his head. "Nobody in San Lorenzowants to bePresident," he promised me. "Its against their religion.""Its against _your_ religion, too? I thought you were goingto be the next President." "I . . ." he said, and found ithard to go on. He lookedhaunted. "You what?" I asked.He faced the sheet of water that curtained the cave."Maturity, the way I understand it," he told me, "isknowing what your limitations are."He wasnt far from Bokonon in defining maturity."Maturity," Bokonon tells us, "is a bitter disappointmentfor which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said toremedy anything.""I know Ive got limitations," Frank continued. "Theyrethe same limitations my father had.""Oh?""Ive got a lot of very good ideas, just the way did,"Frank told me and the waterfall, "but he was no facing thepublic, and neither am I."Duffle 89my father good at"Youll take the job?" Frank inquired anxiously. "No," Itold him. "Do you know anybody who _might_ want the job?"Frank wasgiving a classic illustration of what Bokonon calls_duffle_. _Duffle_, in the Bokononist sense, is the destinyof thousands upon thousands of persons when placed in thehands of a _stuppa_. A _stuppa_ is a fogbound child.I laughed. "Somethings funny?""Pay no attention when I laugh," I begged him. "Im anotorious pervert in that respect.""Are you laughing at me?" I shook my head. "No." "Word ofhonor?" "Word of honor.""People used to make fun of me all the time." "You musthave imagined that." "They used to yell things at me. Ididnt imagine _that_." "People are unkind sometimeswithout meaning to be," Isuggested. I wouldnt have given him my word of honor onthat. "You know what they used to yell at me?" "No." "Theyused to yell at me, Hey, X-9, where you going?" "Thatdoesnt seem too bad.""Thats what they used to call me," said Frank in sulky
175. reminiscence, "Secret Agent X-9."I didnt tell him I knew that already. "Where are yougoing, X-9? "Frank echoed again. I imagined what thetaunters had been like, imagined whereFate had eventually goosed and chivvied them to. The witswho had yelled at Frank were surely nicely settled indeathlike jobs at Genera! Forge and Foundry, at Ilium Powerand Light, at the Telephone Company. .And here, by God, was Secret Agent X-9, a Major General,offering to make me king . . . in a cave that was curtainedby a tropical waterfall."They really would have been surprised if Id stopped andtold them where I was going.""You mean you had some premonition youd end up here?" Itwas a Bokononist question."I was going to Jacks Hobby Shop," he said, with no senseof anticlimax."Oh.""They all knew I was going there, but they didnt know whatreally went on there. They would have been reallysurprised-- especially the girls--if theyd found out what_really_ went on. The girls didnt think I knew anythingabout girls.""What _really_ went on?""I was screwing Jacks wife every day. Thats how come Ifell asleep all the time in high school. Thats how come Inever achieved my full potential."He roused himself from this sordid recollection. "Come on.Be president of San Lorenzo. Youd be real good at it, withyour personality. Please?"Only One Catch 90And the time of night and the cave and the waterfall--andthe stone angel in Ilium . . .And 250,000 cigarettes and 3,000 quarts of booze, and twowives and no wife . . .And no love waiting for me anywhere . . . And the listlesslife of an ink-stained hack . . . And _Pabu_, the moon, and_Borasisi_, the sun, andchildren . . . All things conspired to form one cosmic_vin-dit_,theirone mighty shove into Bokononism, into the belief that Godwas running mylife and that He had work for me to do. And, inwardly, I_sarooned_, which is to say that I acquiesced to theseeming demands of my _vin-dit_.Inwardly, I agreed to become the next President of San
176. Lorenzo.Outwardly, I was still guarded, suspicious. "There must bea catch," I hedged."There isnt." "Therell be an election?" "There never hasbeen. WellPresident is." "And nobody will object?" "Nobody objects toanything.just announce who the newThey arent interested. Theydont care." "There _has_ to be a catch!" "Theres kind ofone," Frank admitted. "I knew it!" I began to shrink frommy _vin-dit_. "What isit? Whats the catch?" "Well, it isnt really a catch,because you dont have to doit, if you dont want to. It _would_ be a good idea,though." "Lets hear this great idea." "Well, if youregoing to be President, I think you reallyought to marry Mona. But you dont have to, if you dontwant to. Youre the boss."her.""She would _have_ me?" "If shed have me, shed have you.All you have to do is ask"Why should she say yes?""Its predicted in _The Books of Bokonon_ that shell marrythe next President of San Lorenzo," said Frank.Mona 91Frank brought Mona to her fathers cave and left us alone.We had difficulty in speaking at first. I was shy. Her gownwas diaphanous. Her gown was azure. It was a simple gown,caught lightly at the waist by a gossamer thread. All elsewas shaped by Mona herself. Her breasts were likepomegranates or what you will, but like nothing so much asa young womans breasts.Her feet were all but bare. Her toenails were exquisitelymanicured. Her scanty sandals were gold."How--how do you do?" I asked. My heart was pounding. Bloodboiled in my ears."It is not possible to make a mistake," she assured me. Idid not know that this was a customary greeting given byall Bokononists when meeting a shy person. So, I respondedwith a feverish discussion of whether it was possible tomake a mistake or not."My God, you have no idea how many mistakes Ive alreadymade. Youre looking at the worlds champion mistake-maker," I blurted--and so on. "Do you have any idea whatFrank just said to me?""About _me?_" "About everything, but _especially_ about
177. you." "He told you that you could have me, if you wanted.""Yes." "Thats true." "I--I--I . . ." "Yes?" "I dont knowwhat to say next." "_Boko-maru_ would help," she suggested."What?" "Take off your shoes," she commanded. And sheremoved hersandals with the utmost grace.I am a man of the world, having had, by a reckoning I oncemade, more than fifty-three women. I can say that I haveseen women undress themselves in every way that it can bedone. I have watched the curtains part in every variationof the final act.And yet, the one woman who made me groan involuntarily didno more than remove her sandals.I tried to untie my shoes. No bridegroom ever did worse. Igot one shoe off, but knotted the other one tight. I tore athumbnail on the knot; finally ripped off the shoe withoutuntying it.Then off came my socks.Mona was already sitting on the floor, her legs extended,her round arms thrust behind her for support, her headtilted back, her eyes closed.It was up to me now to complete my first--my first--myfirst, Great God . . ._Boko-maru_.On the Poets Celebration of His First Boko-maru 92These are not Bokonons words. They are mine.Sweet wraith, Invisible mist of . . . I am-- My soul--Wraith lovesick Oerlong alone: Wouldst another Long have IAdvised thee ill As to where two souls Might tryst. Mysoles, my soles! My soul, my soul, Go there, Sweet soul; Bekissed.oerlong, sweet soul meet?Mmmmmmm.How I Almost Lost My Mona 93"Do you find it easier to talk to me now?" Mona inquired."As though Id known you for a thousand years," Iconfessed. I felt like crying. "I love you, Mona.""I love you." She said it simply. "What a fool Frank was!""Oh?" "To give you up.""He did not love me. He was going to marry me only becausePapa wanted him to. He loves another.""Who?" "A woman he knew in Ilium." The lucky woman had tobe the wife of the owner of JacksHobby Shop. "He told you?" "Tonight, when he freed me tomarry you." "Mona?" "Yes?" "Is--is there anyone else inyour life?" She was puzzled. "Many," she said at last."That you _love?_" "I love everyone." "As--as much as me?"
178. "Yes." She seemed to I got off the floor,shoes and socks back on. "I suppose you--you perform--youdo what we just did with--with other people?" "_Boko-maru?_" "_Boko-maru_.""Of course.""I dont want you to do it with anybody but me from nowon," I declared.Tears filled her eyes. She adored her promiscuity; wasangered that I should try to make her feel shame. "I makepeople happy. Love is good, not bad."have no idea that this might bother me. sat in a chair, andstarted putting my"As your husband, Ill want all your love for myself." Shestared at me with widening eyes. "A _sin-wat!_" "What wasthat?" "A _sin-wat!_" she cried. "A man who wants all ofsomebodyslove. Thats very bad." "In the case of marriage, I thinkits a very good thing.Its the only thing." She was still on the floor, and I,now with my shoes andsocks back on, was standing. I felt very tall, though Imnot very tall; and I felt very strong, though Im not verystrong; and I was a respectful stranger to my own voice. Myvoice had a metallic authority that was new.As I went on talking in ball-peen tones, it dawned on mewhat was happening, what was happening already. I wasalready starting to rule.I told Mona that I had seen her performing a sort ofvertical _boko-maru_ with a pilot on the reviewing standshortly after my arrival. "You are to have nothing more todo with him," I told her. "What is his name?""I dont even know," she whispered. She was looking downnow. "And what about young Philip Castle?" "You mean _boko-maru?_" "I mean anything and everything. As I understandit, you twogrew up together." "Yes.""Bokonon tutored you both?" "Yes." The recollection madeher radiant again. "I suppose there was plenty of _boko-maruing_ in those days." "Oh, yes!" she said happily. "Youarent to see him any more, either. Is that clear?" "No.""No?" "I will not marry a _sin-wat_." She stood. "Good-bye." "Good-bye?" I was crushed. "Bokonon tells us it isvery wrong not to love everyoneexactly the same. What does _your_ religion say?" "I--Idont have one." "I _do_." I had stopped ruling. "I see youdo," I said. "Good-bye, man-with-no-religion." She went tothe stone
179. staircase. "Mona . . ."She stopped. "Yes?" "Could I have your religion, if Iwanted it?" "Of course." "I want it." "Good. I love you.""And I love you," I sighed.The Highest Mountain 94So I became betrothed at dawn to the most beautiful womanin the world. And I agreed to become the next President ofSan Lorenzo."Papa" wasnt dead yet, and it was Franks feeling that Ishould get "Papas" blessing, if possible. So, as_Borasisi_, the sun, came up, Frank and I drove to "Papas"castle in a Jeep we commandeered from the troops guardingthe next President.Mona stayed at Franks. I kissed her sacredly, and she wentto sacred sleep.Over the mountains Frank and I went, through groves of wildcoffee trees, with the flamboyant sunrise on our right.It was in the sunrise that the cetacean majesty of thehighest mountain on the island, of Mount McCabe, madeitself known to me. It was a fearful hump, a blue whale,with one queer stone plug on its back for a peak. In scalewith a whale, the plug might have been the stump of asnapped harpoon, and it seemed so unrelated to the rest ofthe mountain that I asked Frank if it had been built by men.He told me that it was a natural formation. Moreover, hedeclared that no man, as far as he knew, had ever been tothe top of Mount McCabe."It _doesnt_ look very tough to climb," I commented. Savefor the plug at the top, the mountain presented inclines nomore forbidding than courthouse steps. And the plug itself,from a distance at any rate, seemed conveniently laced withramps and ledges."Is it sacred or something?" I asked. "Maybe it was once.But not since Bokonon." "Then why hasnt anybody climbedit?" "Nobodys felt like it yet." "Maybe Ill climb it.""Go ahead. Nobodys stopping you." We rode in silence."What _is_ sacred to Bokononists?" I asked after a while."Not even God, as near as I can tell." "Nothing?" "Just onething." I made some guesses. "The ocean? The sun?" "Man,"said Frank. "Thats all. Just man."I See the Hook 95We came at last to the castle. It was low and black andcruel. Antique cannons still lolled on the battlements.Vines andbird nests clogged the crenels, the machicolations, and thebalistrariae.Its parapets to the north were continuous with the scarp of
180. a monstrous precipice that fell six hundred feet straightdown to the lukewarm sea.It posed the question posed by all such stone piles: howhad puny men moved stones so big? And, like all such stonepiles, it answered the question itself. Dumb terror hadmoved those stones so big.The castle was built according to the wish of Tum-bumwa,Emperor of San Lorenzo, a demented man, an escaped slave.Tum- bumwa was said to have found its design in a childspicture book.A gory book it must have been.Just before we reached the palace gate the ruts carried usthrough a rustic arch made of two telephone poles and abeam that spanned them.Hanging from the middle of the beam was a huge iron hook.There was a sign impaled on the hook."This hook," the sign proclaimed, "is reserved for Bokononhimself."I turned to look at the hook again, and that thing of sharpiron communicated to me that I really was going to rule. Iwould chop down the hook!And I flattered myself that I was going to be a firm, just,and kindly ruler, and that my people would prosper.Fata Morgana. Mirage!Bell, Book, and Chicken in a Hatbox 96Frank and I couldnt get right in to see "Papa." Dr.Schlichter von Koenigswald, the physician in attendance,muttered that we would have to wait about half an hour. SoFrank and I waited in the anteroom of "Papas" suite, aroom without windows. The room was thirty feet square,furnished with several rugged benches and a card table. Thecard table supported an electric fan. The walls were stone.There were no pictures, no decorations of any sort on thewalls.There were iron rings fixed to the wall, however, sevenfeet off the floor and at intervals of six feet. I askedFrank if the room had ever been a torture chamber.He told me that it had, and that the manhole cover on whichI stood was the lid of an oubliette.There was a listless guard in the anteroom. There was alsoa Christian minister, who was ready to take care of"Papas" spiritual needs as they arose. He had a brassdinner bell and a hatbox with holes drilled in it, and aBible, and a butcher knife- -all laid out on the benchbeside him.He told me there was a live chicken in the hatbox. Thechicken was quiet, he said, because he had fed it
181. tranquilizers.Like all San Lorenzans past the age of twenty-five, helooked at least sixty. He told me that his name was Dr. VoxHumana, that he was named after an organ stop that hadstruck his mother when San Lorenzo Cathedral was dynamitedin 1923. His father, he told me without shame, was unknown.I asked him what particular Christian sect he represented,and I observed frankly that the chicken and the butcherknife were novelties insofar as my understanding ofChristianity went."The bell," I commented, "I can understand how that mightfit in nicely."He turned out to be an intelligent man. His doctorate,which he invited me to examine, was awarded by the WesternHemisphere University of the Bible of Little Rock,Arkansas. He made contact with the University through aclassified ad in _Popular Mechanics_, he told me. He saidthat the motto of the Universityhad become his own, and that it explained the chicken andthe butcher knife. The motto of the University was this:MAKE RELIGION LIVE!He said that he had had to feel his way along withChristianity, since Catholicism and Protestantism had beenoutlawed along with Bokononism."So, if I am going to be a Christian under thoseconditions, I have to make up a lot of new stuff.""_Zo_," he said in dialect, "_yeff jy bam gong be Kret-yeenhooner yoze kon-steez-yen, jy hap my yup oon lot neestopf_."Dr. Schlichter von Koenigswald now came out of "Papas"suite, looking very German, very tired. "You can see Papanow.""Well be careful not to tire him," Frank promised."If you could kill him," said Von Koenigswald, "I thinkhed be grateful."The Stinking Christian 97"Papa" Monzano and his merciless disease were in a bed thatwas made of a golden dinghy--tiller, painter, oarlocks andall, all gilt. His bed was the lifeboat of Bokonons oldschooner, the _Ladys Slipper_; it was the lifeboat of theship that had brought Bokonon and Corporal McCabe to SanLorenzo so long ago.The walls of the room were white. But "Papa" radiated painso hot and bright that the walls seemed bathed in angry red.He was stripped from the waist up, and, his glisteningbelly wall was knotted. His belly shivered like a luffingsail.
182. Around his neck hung a chain with a cylinder the size of arifle cartridge for a pendant. I supposed that the cylindercontained some magic charm. I was mistaken. It contained asplinter of _ice-nine_."Papa" could hardly speak. His teeth chattered and hisbreathing was beyond control.back."Papas" agonized head was at the bow of the dinghy, bentMonas xylophone was near the bed. She had apparently triedto soothe "Papa" with music the previous evening."Papa?" whispered Frank. "Good-bye," "Papa" gasped. Hiseyes were bugging, sightless. "I brought a friend." "Good-bye." "Hes going to be the next President of San Lorenzo.Hell bea much better President than I could be." "Ice!" "Papa"whimpered. "He asks for ice," said Von Koenigswald. "Whenwe bring it,he does not want it." "Papa" rolled his eyes. He relaxedhis neck, took the weightof his body from the crown of his head. And then he archedhis neck again. "Does not matter," he said, "who isPresident of . . ." He did not finish.I finished for him. "San Lorenzo?""San Lorenzo," he agreed. He managed a crooked smile. "Goodluck!" he croaked."Thank you, sir," I said. "Doesnt matter! Bokonon. GetBokonon." I attempted a sophisticated reply to this last. Irememberedthat, for the joy of the people, Bokonon was always to bechased, was never to be caught. "I will get him.""Tell him . . ."I leaned closer, in order to hear the message from "Papa"to Bokonon."Tell him I am sorry I did not kill him," said "Papa." "Iwill." "_You_ kill him." "Yessir.""Papa" gained control enough of his voice to make itcommanding. "I mean _really!_"I said nothing to that. I was not eager to kill anyone."He teaches the people lies and lies and lies. Kill him andteach the people truth.""Yessir." "You and Hoenikker, you teach them science.""Yessir, we will," I promised. "Science is magic that_works_." He fell silent, relaxed, closed his eyes. Andthen hewhispered, "Last rites." Von Koenigswald called Dr. VoxHumana in. Dr. Humana took histranquilized chicken out of the hatbox, preparing to
183. administer Christian last rites as he understood them."Papa" opened one eye. "Not you," he sneered at Dr. Humana."Get out!""Sir?" asked Dr. Humana."I am a member of the Bokononist faith," "Papa" wheezed."Get out, you stinking Christian."Last Rites 98So I was privileged to see the last rites of the Bokononistfaith.We made an effort to find someone among the soldiers andthe household staff who would admit that he knew the ritesand would give them to "Papa." We got no volunteers. Thatwas hardly surprising, with a hook and an oubliette so near.So Dr. von Koenigswald said that he would have a go at thejob. He had never administered the rites before, but he hadseen Julian Castle do it hundreds of times."Are you a Bokononist?" I asked him."I agree with one Bokononist idea. I agree that allreligions, including Bokononism, are nothing but lies.""Will this bother you as a scientist," I inquired, "to gothrough a ritual like this?""I am a very bad scientist. I will do anything to make ahuman being feel better, even if its unscientific. Noscientist worthy of the name could say such a thing."And he climbed into the golden boat with "Papa." He sat inthe stern. Cramped quarters obliged him to have the goldentiller under one arm.He wore sandals without socks, and he took these off. Andthen he rolled back the covers at the foot of the bed,exposing "Papas" bare feet. He put the soles of his feetagainst "Papas" feet, assuming the classical position for_boko-maru_.Dyot meet mat 99"_Gott mate mutt_," crooned Dr. von Koenigswald. "_Dyotmeet mat_," echoed "Papa" Monzano. "God made mud," was whattheyd said, each in his owndialect. I will here abandon the dialects of the "God gotlonesome," said Von Koenigswald. "God got lonesome." "SoGod said to some of the mud, Sit up!" "So God said tosome of the mud, Sit up!" "See all Ive made, said God,the hills,the stars. "See all Ive made, said God, the hills,litany.the sea, the sky,the stars." "And I was some of thearound." "And I was some of thearound." "Lucky me; lucky mud." "Lucky me, lucky mud."
184. the sea, the sky, mud that got to sit up and look mud thatgot to sit up and lookTears were streaming down "Papas"cheeks. "I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God haddone." "I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God haddone." "Nice going, God!" "Nice going, God!" "Papa" said itwith all "Nobody but You could have done it, God! Ihave." "Nobody but You could have done it, God! Ihis heart. certainly couldnthave." "I feel very unimportant compared to You." "I feelvery unimportant compared to You." "The only way I can feelthe least bit important is to thinkof all the mud that didnt even get to sit up and lookaround." "The only way I can feel the least bit importantis to thinkof all the mud that didnt even get to sit up and lookaround." "I got so much, and most mud got so little." "Igot so much, and most mud got so little." "_Deng you voreda on-oh!_" cried Von Koenigswald. "_Tz-yenk voo vore loyon-yo!_" wheezed "Papa."What they had said was, "Thank you for the honor!" "Now mudlies down again and goes to sleep." "Now mud lies downagain and goes to sleep." "What memories for mud to have!""What memories for mud to have!"certainly couldnt"What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!""What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!" "Iloved everything I saw!" "I loved everything I saw!""Good night." "Good night." "I will go to "I will go to "Ican hardly "I can hardly "To find out for certain what my_wampeter_ was . . ." "To find out for certain what my_wampeter_ was . . ." "And who was in my _karass_ . . .""And who was in my _karass_ . . ." "And all the good thingsour _karass_ did for you." "And all the good things our_karass_ did for you." "Amen." "Amen."Down the Oubliette Goes Frank 100But "Papa" didnt die and go to heaven--not then. I askedFrank how we might best time the announcement of myelevation to the Presidency. He was no help, had no ideas;he left it all up to me."I thought you were going to back me up," I complained."As far as anything _technical_ goes." Frank was prim aboutit. I wasnt to violate his integrity as a technician;wasnt to make him exceed the limits of his job."I see.""However you want to handle people is all right with me.Thats _your_ responsibility."
185. This abrupt abdication of Frank from all human affairsshocked and angered me, and I said to him, meaning to besatirical, "You mind telling me what, in a purely technicalway, is planned for this day of days?"I got a strictly technical reply. "Repair the power plantand stage an air show."heaven now." heaven now." wait . . ." wait . . .""Good! So one of my first triumphs as President will be torestore electricity to my people."Frank didnt see anything funny in that. He gave me asalute. "Ill try, sir. Ill do my best for you, sir. Icant guarantee how long itll be before we get juice back.""Thats what I want--a juicy country." "Ill do my best,sir." Frank saluted me again. "And the air show?" I asked."Whats that?" I got another wooden reply. "At one oclockthis afternoon,sir, six planes of the San Lorenzan Air Force will fly pastthe palace here and shoot at targets in the water. Itspart of the celebration of the Day of the Hundred Martyrsto Democracy. The American Ambassador also plans to throw awreath into the sea."So I decided, tentatively, that I would have Frank announcemy apotheosis immediately following the wreath ceremony andthe air show."What do you think of that?" I said to Frank. "Youre theboss, sir." "I think Id better have a speech ready," Isaid. "And thereshould be some sort of swearing-in, to make it lookdignified, official.""Youre the boss, sir." Each time he said those words theyseemed to come from farther away, as though Frank weredescending the rungs of a ladder into a deep shaft, while Iwas obliged to remain above.And I realized with chagrin that my agreeing to be boss hadfreed Frank to do what he wanted to do more than anythingelse, to do what his father had done: to receive honors andcreature comforts while escaping human responsibilities. Hewas accomplishing this by going down a spiritual oubliette.Like My Predecesors, I Outlaw Bokonon 101So I wrote my speech in a round, bare room at the foot of atower. There was a table and a chair. And the speech Iwrote was round and bare and sparsely furnished, too.It was hopeful. It was humble.And I found it impossible not to lean on God. I had neverneeded such support before, and so had never believed thatsuch support was available.Now, I found that I had to believe in it--and I did.
186. In addition, I would need the help of people. I called fora list of the guests who were to be at the ceremonies andfound that Julian Castle and his son had not been invited.I sent messengers to invite them at once, since they knewmore about my people than anyone, with the exception ofBokonon.As for Bokonon:I pondered asking him to join my government, thus bringingabout a sort of millennium for my people. And I thought ofordering that the awful hook outside the palace gate betaken down at once, amidst great rejoicing.But then I understood that a millennium would have to offersomething more than a holy man in a position of power, thatthere would have to be plenty of good things for all toeat, too, and nice places to live for all, and good schoolsand good health and good times for all, and work for allwho wanted it--things Bokonon and I were in no position toprovide.So good and evil had to remain separate; good in thejungle, and evil in the palace. Whatever entertainmentthere was in that was about all we had to give the people.There was a knock on my door. A servant told me the guestshad begun to arrive.So I put my speech in my pocket and I mounted the spiralstaircase in my tower. I arrived at the uppermostbattlement of my castle, and I looked out at my guests, myservants, my cliff, and my lukewarm sea.Enemies of Freedom 102When I think of all those people on my uppermostbattlement, I think of Bokonons "hundred-and-nineteenthCalypso," wherein he invites us to sing along with him:"Wheres my good old gang done gone?"I heard a sad man say. I whispered in that sad mans ear,"Your gangs done gone away."Present were Ambassador Horlick Minton and his lady; H.Lowe Crosby, the bicycle manufacturer, and his Hazel; Dr.Julian Castle, humanitarian and philanthropist, and his sonPhilip, author and innkeeper; little Newton Hoenikker, thepicture painter, and his musical sister, Mrs. Harrison C.Conners; my heavenly Mona; Major General FranklinHoenikker; and twenty assorted San Lorenzo bureaucrats andmilitary men.Dead--almost all dead now. As Bokonon tells us, "It isnever a mistake to say goodbye." There was a buffet on mybattlements, a buffet burdened withnative delicacies: roasted warblers in little overcoatsmade of their own blue-green feathers; lavender land crabs
187. taken from their shells, minced, fried in coconut oil, andreturned to their shells; fingerling barracuda stuffed withbanana paste; and, on unleavened, unseasoned cornmealwafers, bite-sized cubes of boiled albatross.The albatross, I was told, had been shot from the verybartizan in which the buffet stood. There were twobeverages offered, both un-iced: Pepsi-Cola and native rum.The Pepsi-Cola was served in plastic Pilseners. The rum wasserved in coconut shells. I was unable to identify thesweet bouquet of the rum, though it somehow reminded me ofearly adolescence.Frank was able to name the bouquet for me. "Acetone.""Acetone?" "Used in model-airplane cement." I did not drinkthe rum.Ambassador Minton did a lot of ambassadorial, gourmandsaluting with his coconut, pretending to love all men andall the beverages that sustained them. But I did not seehim drink. He had with him, incidentally, a piece ofluggage of a sort I had never seen before. It looked like aFrench horn case, and proved to contain the memorial wreaththat was to be cast into the sea.The only person I saw drink the rum was H. Lowe Crosby, whoplainly had no sense of smell. He was having a good time,drinking acetone from his coconut, sitting on a cannon,blocking the touchhole with his big behind. He was lookingout to sea through a huge pair of Japanese binoculars. Hewas looking at targets mounted on bobbing floats anchoredoffshore.The targets were cardboard cutouts shaped like men.They were to be fired upon and bombed in a demonstration ofmight by the six planes of the San Lorenzan Air Force.Each target was a caricature of some real person, and thename of that person was painted on the targets back andfront.I asked who the caricaturist was and learned that he wasDr. Vox Humana, the Christian minister. He was at my elbow."I didnt know you were talented in that direction, too.""Oh, yes. When I was a young man, I had a very hard timedeciding what to be.""I think the choice you made was the right one." "I prayedfor guidance from Above." "You got it." H. Lowe Crosbyhanded his binoculars to his wife. "Theresold Joe Stalin, closest in, and old Fidel Castros anchoredright next to him.""And theres old Hitler," chuckled Hazel, delighted. "Andtheres old Mussolini and some old Jap.""And theres old Karl Marx."
188. "And theres old Kaiser Bill, spiked hat and all," cooedHazel. "I never expected to see _him_ again.""And theres old Mao. You see old Mao?""Isnt _he_ gonna get it?" asked Hazel. "Isnt _he_ gonnaget the surprise of his life? This sure is a cute idea.""They got practically every enemy that freedom, ever hadout there," H. Lowe Crosby declared.A Medical Opinion on the 103 Effects of a Writers StrikeNone of the guests knew yet that I was to be President.None knew how close to death "Papa" was. Frank gave out theofficial word that "Papa" was resting comfortably, that"Papa" sent his best wishes to all.The order of events, as announced by Frank, was thatAmbassador Minton would throw his wreath into the sea, inhonor of the Hundred Martyrs; and then the airplanes wouldshoot the targets in the sea; and then he, Frank, would saya few words.He did not tell the company that, following his speech,there would be a speech by me.So I was treated as nothing more than a visitingjournalist, and I engaged in harmless _granfalloonery_ hereand there."Hello, Mom," I said to Hazel Crosby."Why, if it isnt my boy!" Hazel gave me a perfumed hug,and she told everybody, "This boys a Hoosier!"The Castles, father and son, stood separate from the restof the company. Long unwelcome at "Papas" palace, theywere curious as to why they had now been invited there.Young Castle called me "Scoop." "Good morning, Scoop.Whats new in the word game?""I might ask the same of you," I replied."Im thinking of calling a general strike of all writersuntil mankind finally comes to its senses. Would yousupport it?""Do writers have a right to strike? That would be like thepolice or the firemen walking out.""Or the college professors.""Or the college professors," I agreed. I shook my head."No, I dont think my conscience would let me support astrike like that. When a man becomes a writer, I think hetakes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty andenlightenment and comfort at top speed.""I just cant help thinking what a real shaking up it wouldgive people if, all of a sudden, there were no new books,new plays, new histories, new poems . . .""And how proud would you be when people started dying likeflies?" I demanded.
189. "Theyd die more like mad dogs, I think--snarling andsnapping at each other and biting their own tails."I turned to Castle the elder. "Sir, how does a man die whenhes deprived of the consolations of literature?""In one of two ways," he said, "petrescence of the heart oratrophy of the nervous system.""Neither one very pleasant, I expect," I suggested."No," said Castle the elder. "For the love of God, _both_of you, _please_ keep writing!"Sulfathiazole 104My heavenly Mona did not approach me and did not encourageme with languishing glances to come to her side. She made ahostess of herself, introducing Angela and little Newt toSan Lorenzans.As I ponder now the meaning of that girl--recall herindifference to "Papas" collapse, to her betrothal to me--I vacillate between lofty and cheap appraisals.Did she represent the highest form of female spirituality?Or was she anesthetized, frigid--a cold fish, in fact, adazed addict of the xylophone, the cult of beauty, and_boko- maru?_I shall never know. Bokonon tells us:A lovers a liar, To himself he lies. The truthful areloveless, Like oysters their eyes!So my instructions are clear, I suppose. I am to remembermy Mona as having been sublime."Tell me," I appealed to young Philip Castle on the Day ofthe Hundred Martyrs to Democracy, "have you spoken to yourfriend and admirer, H. Lowe Crosby, today?""He didnt recognize me with a suit and shoes and necktieon," young Castle replied. "Weve already had a nice talkabout bicycles. We may have another."I found that I was no longer amused by Crosbys wanting tobuild bicycles in San Lorenzo. As chief executive of theisland I wanted a bicycle factory very much. I developedsudden respect for what H. Lowe Crosby was and could do."How do you think the people of San Lorenzo would take toindustrialization?" I asked the Castles, father and son."The people of San Lorenzo," the father told me, "areinterested in only three things: fishing, fornication, andBokononism.""Dont you think they could be interested in progress?""Theyve seen some of it. Theres only one aspect ofprogress that really excites them.""Whats that?" "The electric guitar." I excused myself andI rejoined the Crosbys. Frank Hoenikker was with them,explaining who Bokonon was and
190. what he was against. "Hes against science." "How cananybody in his right mind be against science?" askedCrosby."Id be dead now if it wasnt for penicillin," said Hazel."And so would my mother.""How old _is_ your mother?" I inquired. "A hundred and six.Isnt that wonderful?" "It certainly is," I agreed. "AndId be a widow, too, if it wasnt for the medicine theygave my husband that time," said Hazel. She had to ask herhusband the name of the medicine. "Honey, what was the nameof that stuff that saved your life that time?""Sulfathiazole."And I made the mistake of taking an albatross canape from apassing tray.Pain-killer 105As it happened--"As it was _supposed_ to happen," Bokononwould say--albatross meat disagreed with me so violentlythat I was ill the moment Id choked the first piece down.I was compelled to canter down the stone spiral staircasein search of a bathroom. I availed myself of one adjacentto "Papas" suite.When I shuffled out, somewhat relieved, I was met by Dr.Schlichter von Koenigswald, who was bounding from "Papas"bedroom. He had a wild look, and he took me by the arms andhe cried, "What is it? What was it he had hanging aroundhis neck?""I beg your pardon?""He took it! Whatever was in that cylinder, Papa took--and now hes dead."I remembered the cylinder "Papa" had hung around his neck,and I made an obvious guess as to its contents. "Cyanide?""Cyanide? Cyanide turns a man to cement in a second?""Cement?""Marble! Iron! I have never seen such a rigid corpsebefore. Strike it anywhere and you get a note like amarimba! Come look!" Von Koenigswald hustled me into"Papas" bedroom.In bed, in the golden dinghy, was a hideous thing to see."Papa" was dead, but his was not a corpse to which onecould say, "At rest at last."Papas" head was bent back as far as it would go. Hisweight rested on the crown of his head and the soles of hisfeet, with the rest of his body forming a bridge whose archthrust toward the ceiling. He was shaped like an andiron.That he had died of the contents of the cylinder around hisneck was obvious. One hand held the cylinder and thecylinder was uncapped. And the thumb and index finger of
191. the other hand, as though having just released a littlepinch of something, were stuck between his teeth.Dr. von Koenigswald slipped the tholepin of an oarlock fromits socket in the gunwale of the gilded dinghy. He tapped"Papa" on his belly with the steel oarlock, and "Papa"really did make a sound like a marimba.And "Papas" lips and nostrils and eyeballs were glazedwith a blue-white frost.Such a syndrome is no novelty now, God knows. But itcertainly was then. "Papa" Monzano was the first man inhistory to die of _ice-nine_.I record that fact for whatever it may be worth. "Write itall down," Bokonon tells us. He is really telling us, ofcourse, how futile it is to write or read histories."Without accurate records of the past, how can men andwomen be expected to avoid making serious mistakes in thefuture?" he asks ironically.So, again: "Papa" Monzano was the first man in history todie of _ice-nine_.What Bokononists Say 106 When They Commit SuicideDr. von Koenigswald, the humanitarian with the terribledeficit of Auschwitz in his kindliness account, was thesecond to die of _ice-nine_.He was talking about rigor mortis, a subject I hadintroduced."Rigor mortis does not set in in seconds," he declared. "Iturned my back to Papa for just a moment. He was raving .. .""What about?" I asked."Pain, ice, Mona--everything. And then Papa said, Now Iwill destroy the whole world.""What did he mean by that?""Its what Bokononists always say when they are about tocommit suicide." Von Koenigswald went to a basin of water,meaning to wash his hands. "When I turned to look at him,"he told me, his hands poised over the water, "he was dead--as hard as a statue, just as you see him. I brushed myfingers over his lips. They looked so peculiar."He put his hands into the water. "What chemical couldpossibly . . ." The question trailed off.Von Koenigswald raised his hands, and the water in thebasin came with them. It was no longer water, but ahemisphere of _ice- nine_.Von Koenigswald touched the tip of his tongue to the blue-white mystery.Frost bloomed on his lips. He froze solid, tottered, andcrashed.
192. The blue-white hemisphere shattered. Chunks skittered overthe floor.I went to the door and bawled for help. Soldiers andservants came running. I ordered them to bring Frank andNewt and Angela to "Papas"room at once. At last I had seen _ice-nine!_Feast Your Eyes! 101I let the three children of Dr. Felix Hoenikker into "Papa"Monzanos bedroom. I closed the door and put my back to it.My mood was bitter and grand. I knew _ice-nine_ for what itwas. I had seen it often in my dreams.There could be no doubt that Frank had given "Papa" _ice-nine_. And it seemed certain that if _ice-nine_ wereFranks to give, then it was Angelas and little Newts togive, too.So I snarled at all three, calling them to account formonstrous criminality. I told them that the jig was up,that I knew about them and _ice-nine_. I tried to alarmthem about _ice-nines_ being a means to ending life on earth. I was soimpressive that they never thought to ask how I knew about_ice-nine_."Feast your eyes!" I said.Well, as Bokonon tells us: "God never wrote a good play inHis Life." The scene in "Papas" room did not lack forspectacular issues and props, and my opening speech was theright one.But the first reply from a Hoenikker destroyed allmagnificence.Little Newt threw up.Frank Tells Us What to Do 108And then we all wanted to throw up. Newt certainly did whatwas called for. "I couldnt agree more," I told Newt. And Isnarled at Angelaand Frank, "Now that weve got Newts opinion, Id like tohear what you two have to say.""Uck," said Angela, cringing, her tongue out. She was thecolor of putty."Are those your sentiments, too?" I asked Frank. "Uck?General, is that what you say?"Frank had his teeth bared, and his teeth were clenched, andhe was breathing shallowly and whistlingly between them."Like the dog," murmured little Newt, looking down at VonKoenigswald."What dog?"Newt whispered his answer, and there was scarcely any windbehind the whisper. But such were the acoustics of the
193. stonewalled room that we all heard the whisper as clearlyas we would have heard the chiming of a crystal bell."Christmas Eve, when Father died."Newt was talking to himself. And, when I asked him to tellme about the dog on the night his father died, he looked upat me as though I had intruded on a dream. He found meirrelevant.His brother and sister, however, belonged in the dream. Andhe talked to his brother in that nightmare; told Frank,"You gave it to him."Thats how you got this fancy job, isnt it?" Newt askedFrank wonderingly. "What did you tell him--that you hadsomething better than the hydrogen bomb?"Frank didnt acknowledge the question. He was lookingaround the room intently, taking it all in. He unclenchedhis teeth, and he made them click rapidly, blinking hiseyes with every click. His color was coming back. This iswhat he said."Listen, weve got to clean up this mess."Frank Defends Himself 109"General," I told Frank, "that must be one of the mostcogent statements made by a major general this year. As mytechnical advisor, how do you recommend that _we_, as youput it so well, clean up this mess?"Frank gave me a straight answer. He snapped his fingers. Icould see him dissociating himself from the causes of themess; identifying himself, with growing pride and energy,with the purifiers, the world-savers, the cleaners-up."Brooms, dustpans, blowtorch, hot plate, buckets," hecommanded, snapping, snapping, snapping his fingers."You propose applying a blowtorch to the bodies?" I asked.Frank was so charged with technical thinking now that hewas practically tap dancing to the music of his fingers."Well sweep up the big pieces on the floor, melt them in abucket on a hot plate. Then well go over every square inchof floor with a blowtorch, in case there are anymicroscopic crystals. What well do with the bodies--andthe bed . . ." He had to think some more."A funeral pyre!" he cried, really pleased with himself."Ill have a great big funeral pyre built out by the hook,and well have the bodies and the bed carried out andthrown on."He started to leave, to order the pyre built and to get thethings we needed in order to clean up the room.Angela stopped him. "How _could_ you?" she wanted to know.Frank gave her a glassy smile. "Everythings going to beall right."
194. "How _could_ you give it to a man like Papa Monzano?"Angela asked him."Lets clean up the mess first; then we can talk."Angela had him by the arms, and she wouldnt let him go."How _could_ you!" She shook him.Frank pried his sisters hands from himself. His glassysmile went away and he turned sneeringly nasty for amoment--a moment in which he told her with all possiblecontempt, "I bought myself a job, just the way you boughtyourself a tomcat husband, just the way Newt bought himselfa week on Cape Cod with a Russian midget!"The glassy smile returned. Frank left; and he slammed thedoor.The Fourteenth Book 110"Sometimes the _pool-pah_," Bokonon tells us, "exceeds thepower of humans to comment." Bokonon translates _pool-pah_at one point in _The Books of Bokonon_ as "shit storm" andat another point as "wrath of God."From what Frank had said before he slammed the door, Igathered that the Republic of San Lorenzo and the threeHoenikkers werent the only ones who had _ice-nine_.Apparently the United States of America and the Union ofSoviet Socialist Republics had it, too. The United Stateshad obtained it through Angelas husband, whose plant inIndianapolis was understandably surrounded by electrifiedfences and homicidal German shepherds. And Soviet Russiahad come by it through Newts little Zinka, that winsometroll of Ukrainian ballet.I was without comment.I bowed my head and closed my eyes; and I awaited Franksreturn with the humble tools it would take to clean up onebedroom--one bedroom out of all the bedrooms in the world,a bedroom infested with _ice-nine_.Somewhere, in the violet, velvet oblivion, I heard Angelasay something to me. It wasnt in her own defense. It wasin defense of little Newt. "Newt didnt give it to her. Shestole it."I found the explanation uninteresting."What hope can there be for mankind," I thought, "whenthere are such men as Felix Hoenikker to give suchplaythings as _ice-nine_ to such short-sighted children as almost all men andwomenare?"And I remembered _The Fourteenth Book of Bokonon_, which Ihad read in its entirety the night before. _The FourteenthBook_ is entitled, "What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for
195. Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past MillionYears?"It doesnt take long to read _The Fourteenth Book_. Itconsists of one word and a period.This is it: "Nothing."Time Out 111Frank came back with brooms and dustpans, a blowtorch, anda kerosene hot plate, and a good old bucket and rubbergloves.We put on the gloves in order not to contaminate our handswith _ice-nine_. Frank set the hot plate on the heavenlyMonas xylophone and put the honest old bucket on top ofthat.And we picked up the bigger chunks of _ice-nine_ from thefloor; and we dropped them into that humble bucket; andthey melted. They became good old, sweet old, honest oldwater.Angela and I swept the floor, and little Newt looked underfurniture for bits of _ice-nine_ we might have missed. AndFrank followed our sweeping with the purifying flame of thetorch.The brainless serenity of charwomen and janitors workinglate at night came over us. In a messy world we were atleast making our little corner clean.And I heard myself asking Newt and Angela and Frank inconversational tones to tell me about the Christmas Eve onwhich the old-man died, to tell me about the dog.And, childishly sure that they were making everything allright by cleaning up, the Hoenikkers told me the tale.The tale went like this:On that fateful Christmas Eve, Angela went into the villagefor Christmas tree lights, and Newt and Frank went for awalk on the lonely winter beach, where they met a blackLabrador retriever. The dog was friendly, as all Labradorretrievers are, and he followed Frank and little Newt home.Felix Hoenikker died--died in his white wicker chairlooking out at the sea--while his chldren were gone. Allday the old man had been teasing his children with hintsabout _ice-nine_, showing it to them in a little bottle onwhose label he had drawn a skull and crossbones, and onwhose label he had written: "Danger! _Ice- nine!_ Keep awayfrom moisture!"All day long the old man had been nagging his children withwords like these, merry in tone: "Come on now, stretch yourminds a little. Ive told you that its melting point is ahundred fourteen-point-four degrees Fahrenheit, and Ivetold you that its composed of nothing but hydrogen and
196. oxygen. What could the explanation be? Think a little!Dont be afraid of straining your brains. They wont break.""He was always telling us to stretch our brains," saidFrank, recalling olden times."I gave up trying to stretch my brain when I-dont-know-how- old-I-was," Angela confessed, leaning on her broom. "Icouldnt even listen to him when he talked about science.Id just nod and pretend I was trying to stretch my brain,but that poor brain, as far as science went, didnt haveany more stretch than an old garter belt."Apparently, before he sat down in his wicker chair anddied, the old man played puddly games in the kitchen withwater and pots and pans and _ice-nine_. He must have beenconverting water to _ice-nine_ and back to water again, forevery pot and pan was out on the kitchen countertops. Ameat thermometer was out, too, so the old man must havebeen taking the temperature of things.The old man meant to take only a brief time out in hischair, for he left quite a mess in the kitchen. Part of thedisorder was a saucepan filled with solid _ice-nine_. He nodoubt meant to melt it up, to reduce the worlds supply ofthe blue-white stuff to a splinter in a bottle again--aftera brief time out.But, as Bokonon tells us, "Any man can call time out, butno man can say how long the time out will be."Newts Mothers Reticule 112"I should have know he was dead the minute I came in," saidAngela, leaning on her broom again. "That wicker chair, itwasnt making a sound. It always talked, creaked away, whenFather was in it--even when he was asleep."But Angela had assumed that her father was sleeping, andshe went on to decorate the Christmas tree.Newt and Frank came in with the Labrador retriever. Theywent out into the kitchen to find something for the dog toeat. They found the old mans puddles.There was water on the floor, and little Newt took adishrag and wiped it up. He tossed the sopping dishrag ontothe counter.As it happened, the dishrag fell into the pan containing_ice-nine_.Frank thought the pan contained some sort of cake frosting,and he held it down to Newt, to show Newt what hiscarelessness with the dishrag had done.Newt peeled the dishrag from the surface and found that thedishrag had a peculiar, metallic, snaky quality, as thoughit were made of finely-woven gold mesh."The reason I say gold mesh," said little Newt, there in
197. "Papas" bedroom, "is that it reminded me right away ofMothers reticule, of how the reticule felt."Angela explained sentimentally that when a child, Newt hadtreasured his mothers gold reticule. I gathered that itwas a little evening bag."It felt so funny to me, like nothing else Id evertouched," and Newt, investigating his old fondness for thereticule. "I wonder whatever happened to it.""I wonder what happened to a _lot_ of things," said Angela.The question echoed back through time--woeful, lost.What happened to the dishrag that felt like a reticule, atany rate, was that Newt held it out to the dog, and the doglicked it. And the dog froze stiff.Newt went to tell his father about the stiff dog and foundout that his father was stiff, too.History 113Our work in "Papas" bedroom was done at last.But the bodies still had to be carried to the funeral pyre.We decided that this should be done with pomp, that weshould put it off until the ceremonies in honor of theHundred Martyrs to Democracy were over.The last thing we did was stand Von Koenigswald on his feetin order to decontaminate the place where he had beenlying. And then we hid him, standing up, in "Papas"clothes closet.Im not quite sure why we hid him. I think it must havebeen to simplify the tableau.As for Newts and Angelas and Franks tale of how theydivided up the worlds supply of _ice-nine_ on ChristmasEve--it petered out when they got to details of the crimeitself. The Hoenikkers couldnt remember that anyone saidanything to justify their taking _ice-nine_ as personalproperty. They talked about what _ice-nine_ was, recallingthe old mans brain-stretchers, but there was no talk ofmorals."Who did the dividing?" I inquired.So thoroughly had the three Hoenikkers obliterated theirmemories of the incident that it was difficult for them togive me even that fundamental detail."It wasnt Newt," said Angela at last. "Im sure of ihat.""It was either you or me," mused Frank, thinking hard. "Yougot the three Mason jars off the kitchen shelf," saidAngela. "It wasnt until the next day that we got the threelittle Thermos jugs.""Thats right," Frank agreed. "And then you took an icepick and chipped up the _ice-nine_ in the saucepan.""Thats right," said Angela. "I did. And then somebody
198. brought tweezers from the bathroom."Newt raised his little hand. "I did."Angela and Newt were amazed, remembering how enterprisinglittle Newt had been."I was the one who picked up the chips and put them in theMason jars," Newt recounted. He didnt bother to hide theswagger he must have felt."What did you people do with the dog?" I asked limply."We put him in the oven," Frank told me. "It was the onlything to do.""History!" writes Bokonon. "Read it and weep!"When I Felt the Bullet Enter My Heart 114So I once again mounted the spiral staircase in my tower;once again arrived at the uppermost battlement of mycastle; and once more looked out at my guests, my servants,my cliff, and my lukewarm sea.The Hoenikkers were with me. We had locked "Papas" door,and had spread the word among the household staff that"Papa" was feeling much better.Soldiers were now building a funeral pyre out by the hook.They did not know what the pyre was for.There were many, many secrets that day. Busy, busy, busy. Isupposed that the ceremonies might as well begin, and Itold Frank to suggest to Ambassador Horlick Minton that hedeliver his speech.Ambassador Minton went to the seaward parapet with hismemorial wreath still in its case. And he delivered anamazing speech in honor of the Hundred Martyrs toDemocracy. He dignified the dead, their country, and thelife that was over for them by saying the "Hundred Martyrsto Democracy" in island dialect. That fragment of dialectwas graceful and easy on his lips.The rest of his speech was in American English. He had awritten speech with him--fustian and bombast, I imagine.But, when he found he was going to speak to so few, and tofellow Americans for the most part, he put the formalspeech away.A light sea wind ruffled his thinning hair. "I am about todo a very un-ambassadorial thing," he declared. "I am aboutto tell you what I really feel."Perhaps Minton had inhaled too much acetone, or perhaps hehad an inkling of what was about to happen to everybody butme. At any rate, it was a strikingly Bokononist speech hegave."We are gathered here, friends," he said, "to honor _loHoon- yera Mora-toorz tut Zamoo-cratz-ya_, children dead,all dead, all murdered in war. It is customary on days like
199. this to call such lost children men. I am unable to callthem men for this simple reason: that in the same war inwhich _lo Hoon-yera Mora-toorz tut Zamoo-cratz-ya_ died, myown son died."My soul insists that I mourn not a man but a child."I do not say that children at war do not die like men, ifthey have to die. To their everlasting honor and oureverlasting shame they _do_ die like men, thus makingpossible the manly jubilation of patriotic holidays."But they are murdered children all the same."And I propose to you that if we are to pay our sincererespects to the hundred lost children of San Lorenzo, thatwe might best spend the day despising what killed them;which is to say, the stupidity and viciousness of allmankind."Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off ourclothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours allday long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be moreappropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns."I do not mean to be ungrateful for the fine, martial showwe are about to see--and a thrilling show it really will be. . ."He looked each of us in the eye, and then he commented verysoftly, throwing it away, "And hooray say I for thrillingshows."We had to strain our ears to hear what Minton said next."But if today is really in honor of a hundred childrenmurdered in war," he said, "is today a day for a thrillingshow?"The answer is yes, on one condition: that we, thecelebrants, are working consciously and tirelessly toreduce the stupidity and viciousness of ourselves and ofall mankind."He unsnapped the catches on his wreath case. "See what Ihave brought?" he asked us. He opened the case and showedus the scarlet lining and thegolden wreath. The wreath was made of wire and artificiallaurel leaves, and the whole was sprayed with radiatorpaint.The wreath was spanned by a cream-colored silk ribbon onwhich was printed, "PRO PATRIA."Minton now recited a poem from Edgar Lee Masters the_Spoon River Anthology_, a poem that must have beenincomprehensible to the San Lorenzans in the audience--andto H. Lowe Crosby and his Hazel, too, for that matter, andto Angela and Frank.
200. Ridge.I was the first fruits of the battle of MissionaryWhen I felt the bullet enter my heart I wished I had staidat home and gone to jail For stealing the hogs of CurlTrenary, Instead of running away and joining the army.Rather a thousand times the county jail Than to lie underthis marble figure with wings, And this granite pedestalBearing the words, "_Pro Patria_." What do they mean,anyway?"What do they mean, anyway?" echoed Ambassador HorlickMinton. "They mean, For ones country." And he threw awayanother line. "Any country at all," he murmured."This wreath I bring is a gift from the people of onecountry to the people of another. Never mind whichcountries. Think of people . . ."And children murdered in war. "And any country at all."Think of peace. "Think of brotherly love. "Think of plenty."Think of what paradise, this world would be if men werekind and wise."As stupid and vicious as men are, this is a lovely day,"said Ambassador Horlick Minton. "I, in my own heart and asa representative of the peace-loving people of the UnitedStates of America, pity _lo Hoon-yera Mora-toorz tut Za-moo-cratz-ya_ for being dead on this fine day."And he sailed the wreath off the parapet.There was a hum in the air. The six planes of the SanLorenzan Air Force were coming, skimming my lukewarm sea.They were going to shoot the effigies of what H. LoweCrosby had called "practically every enemy that freedomever had."As It Happened 115We went to the seaward parapet to see the show. The planeswere no larger than grains of black pepper. We were able tospot them because one, as it happened, was trailing smoke.We supposed that the smoke was part of the show.I stood next to H. Lowe Crosby, who, as it happened, wasalternately eating albatross and drinking native rum. Heexhaled fumes of model airplane cement between lipsglistening with albatross fat. My recent nausea returned.I withdrew to the landward parapet alone, gulping air.There were sixty feet of old stone pavement between me andall the rest.I saw that the planes would be coming in low, below thefootings of the castle, and that I would miss the show. Butnausea made me incurious. I turned my head in the directionof their now snarling approach. Just as their guns began tohammer, one plane,
201. the one that had been trailing smoke, suddenly appeared,belly up, in flames.It dropped from my line of sight again and crashed at onceinto the cliff below the castle. Its bombs and fuelexploded.The surviving planes went booming on, their racket thinningdown to a mosquito hum.And then there was the sound of a rockslide--and one greattower of "Papas" castle, undermined, crashed down to thesea.The people on the seaward parapet looked in astonishment atthe empty socket where the tower had stood. Then I couldhear rockslides of all sizes in a conversation that wasalmost orchestral.The conversation went very fast, and new voices entered in.They were the voices of the castles timbers lamenting thattheir burdens were becoming too great.And then a crack crossed the battlement like lightning, tenfeet from my curling toes.It separated me from my fellow men. The castle groaned andwept aloud. The others comprehended their peril. They,along with tons ofmasonry, were about to lurch out and down. Although thecrack was only a foot wide, people began to cross it withheroic leaps.Only my complacent Mona crossed the crack with a simplestep.The crack gnashed shut; opened wider, leeringly. Stilltrapped on the canted deathtrap were H. Lowe Crosby and hisHazel and Ambassador Horlick Minton and his Claire.Philip Castle and Frank and I reached across the abyss tohaul the Crosbys to safety. Our arms were now extendedimploringly to the Mintons.Their expressions were bland. I can only guess what wasgoing through their minds. My guess is that they werethinking of dignity, of emotional proportion above all else.Panic was not their style. I doubt that suicide was theirstyle either. But their good manners killed them, for thedoomed crescent of castle now moved away from us like anocean liner moving away from a dock.The image of a voyage seems to have occurred to thevoyaging Mintons, too, for they waved to us with wanamiability.They held hands. They faced the sea. Out they went; thendown they went in a cataclysmic rush,were gone!The Grand Ah-whoom 116
202. The ragged rim of oblivion was now inches from my curlingtoes. I looked down. My lukewarm sea had swallowed all. Alazy curtain of dust was wafting out to sea, the only traceof all that fell.The palace, its massive, seaward mask now gone, greeted thenorth with a lepers smile, snaggle-toothed and bristly.The bristles were the splintered ends of timbers.Immediately below me a large chamber had been laid open.The floor of that chamber, unsupported, stabbed out intospace like a diving platform.I dreamed for a moment of dropping to the platform, ofspringing up from it in a breath-taking swan dive, offolding my arms, of knifing downward into a blood-warmeternity with never a splash.I was recalled from this dream by the cry of a darting birdabove me. It seemed to be asking me what had happened."Pootee- phweet?" it asked.We all looked up at the bird, and then at one another. Webacked away from the abyss, full of dread. And, when Istepped off the paving stone that had supported me, thestone began to rock. It was no more stable than a teeter-totter. And it tottered now over the diving platform.Down it crashed onto the platform, made the platform achute. And down the chute came the furnishings stillremaining in the room below.A xylophone shot out first, scampering fast on its tinywheels. Out came a bedside table in a crazy race with abounding blowtorch. Out came chairs in hot pursuit.And somewhere in that room below, out of sight, somethingmightily reluctant to move was beginning to move.Down the chute it crept. At last it showed its golden bow.It was the boat in which dead "Papa" lay.It reached the end of the chute. Its bow nodded. Down ittipped. Down it fell, end over end."Papa" was thrown I closed my eyes. There was a soundclear, and he fell separately.like that of the gentle closing of a portalas big as the sky, the It was a grand AH-WHOOM.great door of heaven being closed softly.I opened my eyes--and all the sea was _ice-nine_. The moistgreen earth was a blue-white pearl. The sky darkened._Borasisi_, the sun, became a sickly yellow ball, tiny andcruel.The sky was filled with worms. The worms were tornadoes.Sanctuary 117I looked up at the sky where the bird had been. An enormousworm with a violet mouth was directly overhead. It buzzed
203. like bees. It swayed. With obscene peristalsis, it ingestedair.We humans separated; fled my shattered battlements tumbleddown staircases on the landward side.Only H. Lowe Crosby and his Hazel cried out. "American!American!" they cried, as though tornadoes were interestedin the _granfalloons_ to which their victims belonged.I could not see the Crosbys. They had descended by anotherstaircase. Their cries and the sounds of others, pantingand running, came gabbling to me through a corridor of thecastle. My only companion was my heavenly Mona, who hadfollowed noiselessly.When I hesitated, she slipped past me and opened the doorto the anteroom of "Papas" suite. The walls and roof ofthe anteroom were gone. But the stone floor remained. Andin its center was the manhole cover of the oubliette. Underthe wormy sky, in the flickering violet light from themouths of tornadoes that wished to eat us, I lifted thecover.The esophagus of the dungeon was fitted with iron rungs. Ireplaced the manhole cover from within. Down those ironrungs we went.And at the foot of the ladder we found a state secret."Papa" Monzano had caused a cozy bomb shelter to beconstructed there. It had a ventilation shaft, with a fandriven by a stationary bicycle. A tank of water wasrecessed in one wall. The water was sweet and wet, as yetuntainted by _ice-nine_. And there was a chemical toilet,and a short-wave radio, and a Sears, Roebuck catalogue; andthere were cases of delicacies, and liquor, and candles;and there were bound copies of the _National Geographic_going back twenty years.And there was a set of _The Books of Bokonon_.And there were twin beds.I lighted a candle. I opened a can of campbells chickengumbo soup and I put it on a Sterno stove. And I poured twoglasses of Virgin Islands rum.Mona sat on one bed. I sat down on the other. "I am aboutto say something that must have been said by men to womenseveral times before," I informed her. "However, I dontbelieve that these words have ever carried quite thefreight they carry now.""Oh?" I spread my hands. "Here we are."The Iron Maiden and the Oubliette 118_The Sixth Book of The Books of Bokonon_ is devoted topain, in particular to tortures inflicted by men on men."If I am ever put to death on the hook," Bokonon warns us,
204. "expect a very human performance."Then he speaks of the rack and the peddiwinkus and the ironmaiden and the _veglia_ and the oubliette.In any case, theres bound to be much crying. But theoubliette alone will let you think while dying.And so it was in Monas and my rock womb. At least we couldthink. And one thing I thought was that the creaturecomforts of the dungeon did nothing to mitigate the basicfact of oubliation.During our first day and night underground, tornadoesrattled our manhole cover many times an hour. Each time thepressure in our hole would drop suddenly, and our earswould pop and our heads would ring.As for the radio--there was crackling, fizzing static andthat was all. From one end of the short-wave band to theother not one word, not one telegraphers beep, did I hear.If life still existed here and there, it did not broadcast.Nor does life broadcast to this day.This I assumed: tornadoes, strewing the poisonous blue-white frost of _ice-nine_ everywhere, tore everyone andeverything aboveground to pieces. Anything that still lived would die soonenough of thirst--or hunger--or rage--or apathy.I turned to _The Books of Bokonon_, still sufficientlyunfamiliar with them to believe that they containedspiritual comfort somewhere. I passed quickly over thewarning on the title page of _The First Book_:"Dont be a fool! Close this book at once! It is nothingbut _foma!_"_Foma_, of course, are lies. And then I read this:In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked uponit in His cosmic loneliness.And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, sothe mud can see what We have done." And God created everyliving creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud asman alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man satup, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. "What is the_purpose_ of all this?" he asked politely.God."Everything must have a purpose?" asked God. "Certainly,"said man. "Then I leave it to you to think of one for allthis," saidAnd He went away.I thought this was trash. "Of course its trash!" saysBokonon. And I turned to my heavenly Mona for comfortingsecrets agood deal more profound. I was able, while mooning at her
205. across the space thatseparated our beds, to imagine that behind her marvelouseyes lurked mysteries as old as Eve.I will not go into the sordid sex episode that followed.Suffice it to say that I was both repulsive and repulsed.The girl was not interested in reproduction--hated theidea. Before the tussle was over, I was given full creditby her, and by myself, too, for having invented the wholebizarre, grunting, sweating enterprise by which new humanbeings were made.Returning to my own bed, gnashing my teeth, I supposed thatshe honestly had no idea what love-making was all about.But thenshe said to me, gently, "It would be very sad to have alittle baby now. Dont you agree?""Yes," I agreed murkily."Well, thats the way little babies are made, in case youdidnt know."Mona Thanks Me 119"Today I will be a Bulgarian Minister of Education,"Bokonon tells us. "Tomorrow I will be Helen of Troy." Hismeaning is crystal clear: Each one of us has to be what heor she is. And, down in the oubliette, that was mainly whatI thought--with the help of _The Books of Bokonon_.Bokonon invited me to sing along with him:We do, doodley do, doodley do, doodley do, What we must,muddily must, muddily must, muddily must; Muddily do,muddily do, muddily do, muddily do, Until we bust, bodilybust, bodily bust, bodily bust.I made up a tune to go with that and I whistled it under mybreath as I drove the bicycle that drove the fan that gaveus air, good old air."Man breathes in oxygen and exhales carbon dioxide," Icalled to Mona."What?" "Science." "Oh." "One of the secrets of life manwas a long timeunderstanding: Animals breathe in what animals breathe out,and vice versa.""I didnt know." "You know now." "Thank you." "Yourewelcome."When Id bicycled our atmosphere to sweetness andfreshness, I dismounted and climbed the iron rungs to seewhat the weather was like above. I did that several times aday. On that day, the fourth day, I perceived through thenarrow crescent of the lifted manhole cover that theweather had become somewhat stabilized.The stability was of a wildly dynamic sort, for the
206. tornadoes were as numerous as ever, and tornadoes remainnumerous to this day. But their mouths no longer gobbledand gnashed at the earth. The mouths in all directions werediscreetly withdrawn to an altitude of perhaps a half of amile. And their altitude varied so little from moment tomoment that San Lorenzo might have been protected by atornado-proof sheet of glass.We let three more days go by, making certain that thetornadoes had become as sincerely reticent as they seemed.Andthen we filled canteens from our water tank and The air wasdry and hot and deathly still. I had heard it suggested onetime that thetemperate zone ought to be six rather than four autumn,locking, winter, unlocking, and spring. that as Istraightened up beside our manhole, and stared and listenedand sniffed.we went above.There were no smells. There was no movement. Every step Itook made a gravelly squeak in blue-white frost. And everysqueak was echoed loudly. The season of locking was over.The earth was locked up tight.It was winter, now and forever.I helped my Mona out of our hole. I warned her to keep herhands away from the blue-white frost and to keep her handsaway from her mouth, too. "Death has never been quite soeasy to come by," I told her. "All you have to do is touchthe ground and then your lips and youre done for."She shook her head and sighed. "A very bad mother." "What?""Mother Earth--she isnt a very good mother any more.""Hello? Hello?" I called through the palace ruins. Theawesome winds had torn canyons through that great stonepile. Mona and I made a half-hearted search for survivors--half-hearted because we could sense no life. Not even anibbling, twinkle-nosed rat had survived.The arch of the palace gate was the only man-made formuntouched. Mona and I went to it. Written at its base inwhite paint was a Bokononist "Calypso." The lettering wasneat. It was new. It was proof that someone else hadsurvived the winds.The "Calypso" was this: Someday, someday, this crazy worldwill have to end,seasons in the in number: summer, And I rememberedlend. nod.And our God will take things back that He to us didAnd if, on that sad day, you want to scold our God, Why goright ahead and scold Him. Hell just smile and
207. To Whom It May Concern 120I recalled an advertisement for a set of childrens bookscalled _The Book of Knowledge_. In that ad, a trusting boyand girl looked up at their father. "Daddy," one asked,"what makes the sky blue?" The answer, presumably, could befound in _The Book of Knowledge_.If I had had my daddy beside me as Mona and I walked downthe road from the palace, I would have had plenty ofquestions to ask as I clung to his hand. "Daddy, why areall the trees broken? Daddy, why are all the birds dead?Daddy, what makes the sky so sick and wormy? Daddy, whatmakes the sea so hard and still?"It occurred to me that I was better qualified to answerthose tough questions than any other human being, providedthere were any other human beings alive. In case anyone wasinterested, I knew what had gone wrong-- where and how.So what?wondered where the dead could be. Mona and I ventured moremile from our oubliette without seeing one dead humanI than a being. I sensedwasnt half so curious about the living, probablyaccurately that I would first have to contemplate dead. Isaw no columns of smoke from possible campfires; would havebeen hard to see against an horizon of worms.because I a lot of but theyOne thing did catch my eye: a lavender corona about plugthat was the peak on the hump of Mount McCabe. It seemed tobe calling me, and I had a silly, cinematic notion ofclimbing that peak with Mona. But what would it mean?We were walking into the wrinkles now at the foot of MountMcCabe. And Mona, as though aimlessly, left my side, leftthe road, and climbed one of the wrinkles. I followed.the queerI joined her at the top of the ridge. She was looking downraptly into a broad, natural bowl. She was not crying.She might well have cried.In that bowl were thousands upon thousands of dead. On thelips of each decedent was the blue-white frost of _ice-nine_.Since the corpses were not scattered or tumbled about, itwas clear that they had been assembled since the withdrawalof the frightful winds. And, since each corpse had itsfinger in or near its mouth, I understood that each personhad delivered himself to this melancholy place and thenpoisoned himself with _ice-nine_.There were men, women,, and children, too, many in theattitudes of _boko-maru_. All faced the center of the bowl,
208. as though they were spectators in an amphitheater.Mona and I looked at the focus of all those frosted eyes,looked at the center of the bowl. There was a roundclearing there, a place in which one orator might havestood.Mona and I approached the clearing gingerly, avoiding themorbid statuary. We found a boulder in it. And under theboulder was a penciled note which said:To whom it may concern: These people around you are almostall of the survivors on San Lorenzo of the winds thatfollowed the freezing of the sea. These people made acaptive of the spurious holy man named Bokonon. Theybrought him here, placed him at their center, and commandedhim to tell them exactly what God Almighty was up to andwhat they should now do. The mountebank told them that Godwas surely trying to kill them, possible because He wasthrough with them, and that they should have the goodmanners to die. This, as you can see, they did.The note was signed by Bokonon.I Am Slow to Answer 121"What a cynic!" I gasped. I looked up from the note andgazed around the death-filled bowl. "Is _he_ heresomewhere?""I do not see him," said Mona mildly. She wasnt depressedor angry. In fact, she seemed to verge on laughter. "Healways said he would never take his own advice, because heknew it was worthless.""Hed _better_ be here!" I said bitterly. "Think of thegall of the man, advising all these people to killthemselves!"Now Mona did laugh. I had never heard her laugh. Her laughwas startlingly deep and raw."This strikes you as _funny?_"She raised her arms lazily. "Its all so simple, thatsall. It solves so much for so many, so simply."And she went strolling up among the petrified thousands,still laughing. She paused about midway up the slope andfaced me. She called down to me, "Would you wish any ofthese alive again, if you could? Answer me quickly."Not quick enough with your answer," she called playfully,after half a minute had passed. And, still laughing alittle, she touched her finger to the ground, straightenedup, and touched the finger to her lips and died.Did I weep? They say I did. H. Lowe Crosby and his Hazeland little Newton Hoenikker came upon me as I stumbled downthe road. They were in Bolivars one taxicab, which hadbeen spared by the storm. They tell me I was crying. Hazel
209. cried, too, cried for joy that I was alive.They coaxed me into the cab.Hazel put her arm around me. "Youre with your mom, now.Dont you worry about a thing."I let my mind go blank. I closed my eyes. It was with deep,idiotic relief that I leaned on that fleshy, humid, barn-yard fool.The Swiss Family Robinson 122They took me to what was left of Franklin Hoenikkers houseat the head of the waterfall. What remained was the caveunder the waterfall, which had become a sort of igloo undera translucent, blue-white dome of _ice-nine_.The ménage consisted of Frank, little Newt, and theCrosbys. They had survived in a dungeon in the palace, onefar shallower and more unpleasant than the oubliette. Theyhad moved out the moment the winds had abated, while Monaand I had stayed underground for another three days.As it happened, they had found the miraculous taxicabwaiting for them under the arch of the palace gate. Theyhad found a can of white paint, and on the front doors ofthe cab Frank had painted white stars, and on the roof hehad painted the letters of a _granfalloon_: U.S.A."And you left the paint under the arch," I said. "How didyou know?" asked Crosby. "Somebody else came along andwrote a poem." I did not inquire at once as to how AngelaHoenikker Connersand Philip and Julian Castle had met their ends, for Iwould have had to speak at once about Mona. I wasnt readyto do that yet.I particularly didnt want to discuss the death of Monasince, as we rode along in the taxi, the Crosbys and littleNewt seemed so inappropriately gay.Hazel gave me a clue to the gaiety. "Wait until you see howwe live. Weve got all kinds of good things to eat.Whenever we want water, we just build a campfire and meltsome. The Swiss Family Robinson--thats what we callourselves."Of Mice and Men 123A curious six months followed--the six months in which Iwrote this book. Hazel spoke accurately when she called ourlittle society the Swiss Family Robinson, for we hadsurvived a storm, were isolated, and then the living becamevery easy indeed. It was not without a certain Walt Disneycharm.No plants or animals survived, its true. But _ice-nine_preserved pigs and cows and little deer and windrows ofbirds and berries until we were ready to thaw and cook
210. them. Moreover, there were tons of canned goods to be hadfor the grubbing in the ruins of Bolivar. And we seemed tobe the only people left on San Lorenzo.Food was no problem, and neither were clothing or shelter,for the weather was uniformly dry and dead and hot. Ourhealth was monotonously good. Apparently all the germs weredead, too--or napping.Our adjustment became so satisfactory, so complacent, thatno one marveled or protested when Hazel said, "One goodthing anyway, no mosquitoes."She was sitting on a three-legged stool in the clearingwhere Franks house had stood. She was sewing strips ofred, white, and blue cloth together. Like Betsy Ross, shewas making an American flag. No one was unkind enough topoint out to her that the red was really a peach, that theblue was nearly a Kelly green, and that the fifty stars shehad cut out were six-pointed stars of David rather thanfive-pointed American stars.Her husband, who had always been a pretty good cook, nowsimmered a stew in an iron pot over a wood fire nearby. Hedid all our cooking for us; he loved to cook."Looks good, smells good," I commented. He winked. "Dontshoot the cook. Hes doing the best hecan."In the background of this cozy conversation were thenagging dah-dah-dahs and dit-dit-dits of an automatic SOStransmitter Frank had made. It called for help both nightand day."Save our soullllls," Hazel intoned, singing along with thetransmitter as she sewed, "save our soulllllls.""Hows the writing going?" Hazel asked me. "Fine, Mom, justfine." "When you going to show us some of it?" "When itsready, Mom, when its ready." "A lot of famous writers wereHoosiers." "I know.""Youll be one of a long, long line." She smiled hopefully."Is it a funny book?""I hope so, Mom." "I like a good laugh." "I know you do.""Each person here had some specialty, something to give therest. You write books that make us laugh, and Frank goesscience things, and little Newt--he paints pictures for usall, and I sew, and Lowie cooks.""Many hands make much work light. Old Chinese proverb.""They were smart in a lot of ways, those Chinese were.""Yes, lets ketp their memory alive." "I wish now Idstudied them more.""Well, it was hard to do, even under ideal conditions." "Iwish now Id studied everything more." "Weve all got
211. regrets, Mom.""No use crying over spilt milk.""As the poet said, Mom, Of all the words of mice and men,the saddest are, "It might have been."""Thats so beautiful, and so true."Franks Ant Farm 124I hated to see Hazel finishing the flag, because I wasballed up in her addled plans for it. She had the idea thatagreed to plant the fool thing on the peak of Mount McCabe.all I had"If Lowe and I were younger, wed do it ourselves. Now allwe can do is give you the flag and send our best wisheswith you.""Mom, I wonder if thats really a good place for the flag.""What other place _is_ there? "Ill put on my thinkingcap." I excused myself and went downinto the cave to see what Frank was up to. He was up tonothing new. He was watching an ant farm he hadconstructed. He had dug up a few surviving ants in thethree- dimensional world of the ruins of Bolivar, and hehad reduced the dimensions to two by making a dirt and antsandwich between two sheets of glass. The ants could donothing without Franks catching them at it and commentingupon it.The experiment had solved in short order the mystery of howants could survive in a waterless world. As far as I know,they were the only insects that did survive, and they didit by forming with their bodies tight balls around grainsof _ice-nine_. They would generate enough heat at thecenter to kill half their number and produce one bead ofdew. The dew was drinkable. The corpses were edible."Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die," I said toFrank and his tiny cannibals.His response was always the same. It was a peevish lectureon all the things that people could learn from ants.My responses were ritualized, too. "Natures a wonderfulthing, Frank. Natures a wonderful thing.""You know why ants are so successful?" he asked me for thethousandth time. "They co-_op_-er-ate.""Thats a hell of a good word--co-operation.""Who _taught_ them how to make water?" "Who taught _me_ howto make water?" "Thats a silly answer and you know it.""Sorry.""There was a time when I took peoples silly answersseriously. Im past that now.""A milestone." "Ive grown up a good deal." "At a certainamount of expense to the world." I could say
212. things like that to Frank with an absolute assurance thathe would not hear them."There was a time when people could bluff me without muchtrouble because I didnt have much self-confidence inmyself.""The mere cutting down of the number of people on earthwould go a long way toward alleviating your own particularsocial problems," I suggested. Again, I made the suggestionto a deaf man."You _tell_ me, you _tell_ me who told these ants how tomake water," he challenged me again.Several times I had offered the obvious notion that God hadtaught them. And I knew from onerous experience that hewould neither reject nor accept this theory. He simply gotmadder and madder, putting the question again and again.I walked away from Frank, just as _The Books of Bokonon_advised me to do. "Beware of the man who works hard tolearn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser thanbefore," Bokonon tells us. "He is full of murderousresentment of people who are ignorant without having comeby their ignorance the hard way."I went looking for our painter, for little Newt.The Tasmanians 125When I found little Newt, painting a blasted landscape aquarter of a mile from the cave, he asked me if I woulddrive him into Bolivar to forage for paints. He couldntdrive himself. He couldnt reach the pedals.So off we went, and, on the way, I asked him if he had anysex urge left. I mourned that I had none--no dreams in thatline, nothing."I used to dream of women twenty, thirty, forty feet tall,"he told me. "But now? God, I cant even remember what myUkrainian midget looked like."I recalled a thing I had read about the aboriginalTasmanians, habitually naked persons who, when encounteredby white men in the seventeenth century, were strangers toagriculture, animal husbandry, architecture of any sort,and possibly even fire. They were so contemptible in theeyes of white men, by reason of their ignorance, that theywere hunted for sport by the first settlers, who wereconvicts from England. And the aborigines found life sounattractive that they gave up reproducing.I suggested to Newt now that it was a similar hopelessnessthat had unmanned us.Newt made a shrewd observation. "I guess all the excitementin bed had more to do with excitement about keeping thehuman race going than anybody ever imagined."
213. "Of course, if we had a woman of breeding age among us,that might change the situation radically. Poor old Hazelis years beyond having even a Mongolian idiot."Newt revealed that he knew quite a bit about Mongolianidiots. He had once attended a special school for grotesquechildren, and several of his schoolmates had beenMongoloids. "The best writer in our class was a Mongoloidnamed Myrna--I mean penmanship, not what she actually wrotedown. God, I havent thought about her for years.""Was it a good school?""All I remember is what the headmaster used to say all thetime. He was always bawling us out over the loudspeakersystem for some mess wed made, and he always started outthe same way: I am sick and tired . . .""That comes pretty close to describing how I feel most ofthe time.""Maybe thats the way youre supposed to feel." "You talklike a Bokononist, Newt." "Why shouldnt I? As far as Iknow, Bokononism is the onlyreligion that has any commentary on midgets." When I hadntbeen writing, Id been poring over _The Booksof Bokonon_, but the reference to midgets had escaped me. Iwas grateful to Newt for calling it to my attention, forthe quotation captured in a couplet the cruel paradox ofBokononist thought, the heartbreaking necessity of lyingabout reality, and the heartbreaking impossibility of lyingabout it.Midget, midget, midget, how he struts and winks, For heknows a mans as big as what he hopes and thinks!Soft Pipes, Play On 126"Such a _depressing_ religion!" I cried. I directed ourconversation into the area of Utopias, of what might havebeen, of what should have been, of what might yet be, ifthe world would thaw.But Bokonon had been there, too, had written a whole bookabout Utopias, _The Seventh Book_, which he called"Bokonons Republic." In that book are these ghastlyaphorisms:The hand that stocks the drug stores rules the world.Let us start our Republic with a chain of drug stores, achain of grocery stores, a chain of gas chambers, and anational game. After that, we can write our Constitution.I called Bokonon a jigaboo bastard, and I changed thesubject again. I spoke of meaningful, individual heroicacts. I praised in particular the way in which JulianCastle and his son had chosen to die. While the tornadoesstill raged, they had set out on foot for the House of Hope
214. and Mercy in the Jungle to give whatever hope and mercy wastheirs to give. And I saw magnificence in the way poorAngela had died, too. She had picked up a clarinet in theruins of Bolivar and had begun to play it at once, withoutconcerning herself as to whether the mouthpiece might becontaminated with _ice-nine_.Newt."Soft pipes, play on," I murmured huskily. "Well, maybe youcan find some neat way to die, too," saidIt was a Bokononist thing to say.I blurted out my dream of climbing Mount McCabe with somemagnificent symbol and planting it there. I took my handsfrom the wheel for an instant to show him how empty ofsymbols they were."But what in hell would the right symbol _be_, Newt? Whatin hell would it _be?_" I grabbed the wheel again. "Here itis, the end of the world; and here I am, almost the verylast man; and there it is, the highest mountain in sight. Iknow now what my _karass_ has been up to, Newt. Its beenworking night and day for maybe half a million years to getme up that mountain." I wagged my head and nearly wept."But what, for the love of God, is supposed to be in myhands?"I looked out of the car window blindly as I asked that, soblindly that I went more than a mile before realizing thatI had looked into the eyes of an old Negro man, a livingcolored man, who was sitting by the side of the road.eyes.And then I slowed down. And then I stopped. I covered my"Whats the matter?" asked Newt. "I saw Bokonon back there."The End 127He was sitting on a rock. He was barefoot. His feet werefrosty with _ice-nine_. His only garment was a whitebedspread with blue tufts. The tufts said Casa Mona. Hetook no note of our arrival. In one hand was a pencil. Inthe other was paper."Bokonon?" "Yes?" "May I ask what youre thinking?" "I amthinking, young man, about the final sentence for _TheBooks of Bokonon_. The time for the final sentence hascome." "Any luck?"He shrugged and handed me a piece of paper. This is what Iread:If I were a younger man, I would write a history of humanstupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe andlie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and Iwould take from the ground some of the blue-white poisonthat makes statues
215. of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on myback, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You KnowWho.