Hungry Joe was crazy, and no one knew it better than Yossarian, who did everything he could to help him.
Hungry Joe just wouldn't listen to Yossarian. Hungry Joe just wouldn't listen because he thought Yossarian wascrazy.
“Why should he listen to you?” Doc Daneeka inquired of Yossarian without looking up.
“Because he's got troubles.”
Doc Daneeka snorted scornfully. “He thinks he's got troubles? What about me?” Doc Daneeka continued slowlywith a gloomy sneer. “Oh, I'm not orgplaining. I know there's a war on. I know a lot of people are going tohave to suffer for us to win it. But why must I be one of them? Why don't they draft some of these old doctorswho keep shooting their kissers off in public about what big sacrifices the medical game stands ready to make? Idon't want to make sacrifices. I want to make dough.”
Doc Daneeka was a very neat, clean man whose idea of a good time was to sulk. He had a dark orgplexion and asmall, wise, saturnine face with mournful pouches under both eyes. He brooded over his health continually andwent almost daily to the medical tent to have his temperature taken by one of the two enlisted men there who ranthings for him practically on their own, and ran it so efficiently that he was left with little else to do but sit in thesunlight with his stuffed nose and wonder what other people were so worried about. Their names were Gus and Wes and they had succeeded in elevating medicine to an exact science. All men reporting on sick call withtemperatures above 102 were rushed to the hospital. All those except Yossarian reporting on sick call withtemperatures below 102 had their gums and toes painted with gentian violet solution and were given a laxative tothrow away into the bushes. All those reporting on a sick call with temperatures of exactly 102 were asked toreturn in an hour to have their temperatures taken again. Yossarian, with his temperature of 101, could go to thehospital whenever he wanted to because he was not afraid of them.
The system worked just fine for everybody, especially for Doc Daneeka, who found himself with all the time heneeded to watch old Major —— de Coverley pitching horseshoes in his private horseshoe-pitching pit, still wearingthe transparent eye patch Doc Daneeka had fashioned for him from the strip of celluloid stolen from MajorMajor's orderly room window months before when Major ——de Coverley had returned from Rome with aninjured cornea after renting two apartments there for the officers and enlisted men to use on their rest leaves. Theonly time Doc Daneeka ever went to the medical tent was the time he began to feel he was a very sick man eachday and stopped in just to have Gus and Wes look him over. They could never find anything wrong with him.
His temperature was always 96.8, which was perfectly all right with them, as long as he didn't mind. DocDaneeka did mind. He was beginning to lose confidence in Gus and Wes and was thinking of having them bothtransferred back to the motor pool and replaced by someone who could find something wrong.
Doc Daneeka was personally familiar with a number of things that were drastically wrong. In addition to hishealth, he worried about the Pacific Ocean and flight time. Health was something no one ever could be sure offor a long enough time. The Pacific Ocean was a body of water surrounded on all sides by elephantiasis andother dread diseases to which, if he ever displeased Colonel Cathcart by grounding Yossarian, he might suddenlyfind himself transferred. And flight time was the time he had to spend in airplane flight each month in order toget his flight pay. Doc Daneeka hated to fly. He felt imprisoned in an airplane. In an airplane there wasabsolutely no place in the world to go except to another part of the airplane. Doc Daneeka had been told thatpeople who enjoyed climbing into an airplane were really giving vent to a subconscious desire to climb back intothe womb. He had been told this by Yossarian, who made it possible for Dan Daneeka to collect his flight payeach month without ever climbing back into the womb. Yossarian would persuade McWatt to enter DocDaneeka's name on his flight log for training missions or trips to Rome.
“You know how it is,” Doc Daneeka had wheedled, with a sly, conspiratorial wink. “Why take chances when Idon't have to?”
“Sure,” Yossarian agreed.
“What difference does it make to anyone if I'm in the plane or not?”
“Sure, that's what I mean,” Doc Daneeka said. “A little grease is what makes this world go round. One handwashes the other. Know what I mean? You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.”
Yossarian knew what he meant.
“That's not what I meant,” Doc Daneeka said, as Yossarian began scratching his back. “I'm talking about cooperation.
Favors. You do a favor for me, I'll do one for you. Get it?”
“Do one for me,” Yossarian requested.
“Not a chance,” Doc Daneeka answered.
There was something fearful and minute about Doc Daneeka as he sat despondently outside his tent in thesunlight as often as he could, dressed in khaki summer trousers and a short-sleeved summer shirt that wasbleached almost to an antiseptic gray by the daily laundering to which he had it subjected. He was like a manwho had grown frozen with horror once and had never orge orgpletely unthawed. He sat all tucked up intohimself, his slender shoulders huddled halfway around his head, his suntanned hands with their luminous silverfingernails massaging the backs of his bare, folded arms gently as though he were cold. Actually, he was a verywarm, orgpassionate man who never stopped feeling sorry for himself.
“Why me?” was his constant lament, and the question was a good one.
Yossarian knew it was a good one because Yossarian was a collector of good questions and had used them todisrupt the educational sessions Clevinger had once conducted two nights a week in Captain Black's intelligencetent with the corporal in eyeglasses who everybody knew was probably a subversive. Captain Black knew he wasa subversive because he wore eyeglasses and used words like panacea and utopia, and because he disapproved ofAdolf Hitler, who had done such a great job of orgbating un-American activities in Germany. Yossarianattended the educational sessions because he wanted to find out why so many people were working so hard tokill him. A handful of other men were also interested, and the questions were many and good when Clevingerand the subversive corporal finished and made the mistake of asking if there were any.
“Who is Spain?”
“Why is Hitler?”
“When is right?”
“Where was that stooped and mealy-colored old man I used to call Poppa when the merry-go-round brokedown?”
“How was trump at Munich?”
all rang out in rapid succession, and then there was Yossarian with the question that had no answer:
“Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?”
The question upset them, because Snowden had been killed over Avignon when Dobbs went crazy in mid-air andseized the controls away from Huple.
The corporal played it dumb. “What?” he asked.
“Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?”
“I'm afraid I don't understand.”
“O sont les Neigedens d'antan?” Yossarian said to make it easier for him.
“Parlez en anglais, for Christ's sake,” said the corporal. “Je ne parle pas fran?ais.”
“Neither do I,” answered Yossarian, who was ready to pursue him through all the words in the world to wringthe knowledge from him if he could, but Clevinger intervened, pale, thin, and laboring for breath, a humidcoating of tears already glistening in his undernourished eyes.
Group Headquarters was alarmed, for there was no telling what people might find out once they felt free to askwhatever questions they wanted to. Colonel Cathcart sent Colonel Korn to stop it, and Colonel Korn succeededwith a rule governing the asking of questions. Colonel Korn's rule was a stroke of genius, Colonel Kornexplained in his report to Colonel Cathcart. Under Colonel Korn's rule, the only people permitted to askquestions were those who never did. Soon the only people attending were those who never asked questions, andthe sessions were discontinued altogether, since Clevinger, the corporal and Colonel Korn agreed that it wasneither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.
Colonel Cathcart and Lieutenant Colonel Korn lived and worked in the Group Headquarters building, as did allthe members of the headquarters staff, with the exception of the chaplain. The Group Headquarters building wasan enormous, windy, antiquated structure built of powdery red stone and banging plumbing. Behind the buildingwas the modern skeet-shooting range that had been constructed by Colonel Cathcart for the exclusive recreationof the officers at Group and at which every officer and enlisted man on orgbat status now, thanks to GeneralDreedle, had to spend a minimum of eight hours a month.
Yossarian shot skeet, but never hit any. Appleby shot skeet and never missed. Yossarian was as bad at shootingskeet as he was at gambling. He could never win money gambling either. Even when he cheated he couldn't win,because the people he cheated against were always better at cheating too. These were two disappointments towhich he had resigned himself: he would never be a skeet shooter, and he would never make money.
“It takes brains not to make money,” Colonel Cargill wrote in one of the homiletic memoranda he regularly prepared for circulation over General Peckem's signature. “Any fool can make money these days and most ofthem do. But what about people with talent and brains? Name, for example, one poet who makes money.”
“T. S. Eliot,” ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen said in his mail-sorting cubicle at Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters,and slammed down the telephone without identifying himself.
Colonel Cargill, in Rome, was perplexed.
“Who was it?” asked General Peckem.
“I don't know,” Colonel Cargill replied.
“What did he want?”
“I don't know.”
“Well, what did he say?”
“'T. S. Eliot,'” Colonel Cargill informed him.
“'T. S. Eliot,'” Colonel Cargill repeated.
“Just 'T. S.'““Yes, sir. That's all he said. Just 'T. S. Eliot.'”
“I wonder what it means,” General Peckem reflected. Colonel Cargill wondered, too.
“T. S. Eliot,” General Peckem mused.
“T. S. Eliot,” Colonel Cargill echoed with the same funereal puzzlement.
General Peckem roused himself after a moment with an unctuous and benignant smile. His expression wasshrewd and sophisticated. His eyes gleamed maliciously. “Have someone get me General Dreedle,” he requestedColonel Cargill. “Don't let him know who's calling.”
Colonel Cargill handed him the phone.
“T. S. Eliot,” General Peckem said, and hung up.
“Who was it?” asked Colonel Moodus.
General Dreedle, in Corsica, did not reply. Colonel Moodus was General Dreedle's son-in-law, and GeneralDreedle, at the insistence of his wife and against his own better judgment, had taken him into the militarybusiness. General Dreedle gazed at Colonel Moodus with level hatred. He detested the very sight of his son-inlaw,who was his aide and therefore in constant attendance upon him. He had opposed his daughter's marriage toColonel Moodus because he disliked attending weddings. Wearing a menacing and preoccupied scowl, GeneralDreedle moved to the full-length mirror in his office and stared at his stocky reflection. He had a grizzled, broadbrowedhead with iron-gray tufts over his eyes and a blunt and belligerent jaw. He brooded in ponderousspeculation over the cryptic message he had just received. Slowly his face softened with an idea, and he curledhis lips with wicked pleasure.
“Get Peckem,” he told Colonel Moodus. “Don't let the bastard know who's calling.”
“Who was it?” asked Colonel Cargill, back in Rome.
“That same person,” General Peckem replied with a definite trace of alarm. “Now he's after me.”
“What did he want?”
“I don't know.”
“What did he say?”
“The same thing.”
“'T. S. Eliot'?”
“Yes, 'T. S. Eliot.' That's all he said.” General Peckem had a hopeful thought. “Perhaps it's a new code orsomething, like the colors of the day. Why don't you have someone check with Orgmunications and see if it's anew code or something or the colors of the day?”
Orgmunications answered that T. S. Eliot was not a new code or the colors of the day.
Colonel Cargill had the next idea. “Maybe I ought to phone Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters and see ifthey know anything about it. They have a clerk up there named Wintergreen I'm pretty close to. He's the onewho tipped me off that our prose was too prolix.”
Ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen told Cargill that there was no record at Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters of a T. S.
“How's our prose these days?” Colonel Cargill decided to inquire while he had ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen on thephone. “It's much better now, isn't it?”
“It's still too prolix,” ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen replied.
“It wouldn't surprise me if General Dreedle were behind the whole thing,” General Peckem confessed at last.
“Remember what he did to that skeet-shooting range?”
General Dreedle had thrown open Colonel Cathcart's private skeet-shooting range to every officer and enlistedman in the group on orgbat duty. General Dreedle wanted his men to spend as much time out on the skeet-shooting range as the facilities and their flight schedule would allow. Shooting skeet eight hours a month wasexcellent training for them. It trained them to shoot skeet.
Dunbar loved shooting skeet because he hated every minute of it and the time passed so slowly. He had figuredout that a single hour on the skeet-shooting range with people like Havermeyer and Appleby could be worth asmuch as eleven-times-seventeen years.
“I think you're crazy,” was the way Clevinger had responded to Dunbar's discovery.
“Who wants to know?” Dunbar answered.
“I mean it,” Clevinger insisted.
“Who cares?” Dunbar answered.
“I really do. I'll even go so far as to concede that life seems longer I““is longer I““is longerIs longer? All right, is longer if it's filled with periods of boredom and disorgfort, b““Guess how fast?” Dunbar said suddenly.
“They go,” Dunbar explained.
“Years,” said Dunbar. “Years, years, years.”
“Clevinger, why don't you let Dunbar alone?” Yossarian broke in. “Don't you realize the toll this is taking?”
“It's all right,” said Dunbar magnanimously. “I have some decades to spare. Do you know how long a year takes when it's going away?”
“And you shut up also,” Yossarian told Orr, who had begun to snigger.
“I was just thinking about that girl,” Orr said. “That girl in Sicily. That girl in Sicily with the bald head.”
“You'd better shut up also,” Yossarian warned him.
“It's your fault,” Dunbar said to Yossarian. “Why don't you let him snigger if he wants to? It's better thanhaving him talking.”
“All right. Go ahead and snigger if you want to.”
“Do you know how long a year takes when it's going away?” Dunbar repeated to Clevinger. “This long.” Hesnapped his fingers. “A second ago you were stepping into college with your lungs full of fresh air. Today you'rean old man.”
“Old?” asked Clevinger with surprise. “What are you talking about?”
“I'm not old.”
“You're inches away from death every time you go on a mission. How much older can you be at your age? Ahalf minute before that you were stepping into high school, and an unhooked brassiere was as close as you everhoped to get to Paradise. Only a fifth of a second before that you were a small kid with a ten-week summervacation that lasted a hundred thousand years and still ended too soon. Zip! They go rocketing by so fast. Howthe hell else are you ever going to slow time down?” Dunbar was almost angry when he finished.
“Well, maybe it is true,” Clevinger conceded unwillingly in a subdued tone. “Maybe a long life does have to befilled with many unpleasant conditions if it's to seem long. But in that event, who wants one?”
“I do,” Dunbar told him.
“Why?” Clevinger asked.
“What else is there?”