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4 DOC DANEEKA
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 was crazy.
“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 slowly with a gloomy sneer. “Oh, I’m not complaining. I know there’s a war on. I know a lot of people are going to have to suffer for us to win it. But why must I be one of them? Why don’t they draft some of these old doctors who keep shooting their kissers off in public about what big sacrifices the medical game stands ready to make? I don’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 complexion and a small, wise, saturnine face with mournful pouches under both eyes. He brooded over his health continually and went almost daily to the medical tent to have his temperature taken by one of the two enlisted men there who ran things for him practically on their own, and ran it so efficiently that he was left with little else to do but sit in the sunlight 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 with temperatures above 102 were rushed to the hospital. All those except Yossarian reporting on sick call with temperatures below 102 had their gums and toes painted with gentian violet solution and were given a laxative to throw away into the bushes. All those reporting on a sick call with temperatures of exactly 102 were asked to return in an hour to have their temperatures taken again. Yossarian, with his temperature of 101, could go to the hospital 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 he needed to watch old Major --- de Coverley pitching horseshoes in his private horseshoe-pitching pit, still wearing the transparent eye patch Doc Daneeka had fashioned for him from the strip of celluloid stolen from Major Major’s orderly room window months before when Major --- de Coverley had returned from Rome with an injured cornea after renting two apartments there for the officers and enlisted men to use on their rest leaves. The only time Doc Daneeka ever went to the medical tent was the time he began to feel he was a very sick man each day 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. Doc Daneeka did mind. He was beginning to lose confidence in Gus and Wes and was thinking of having them both transferred 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 his health, he worried about the Pacific Ocean and flight time. Health was something no one ever could be sure of for a long enough time. The Pacific Ocean was a body of water surrounded on all sides by elephantiasis and other dread diseases to which, if he ever displeased Colonel Cathcart by grounding Yossarian, he might suddenly find himself transferred. And flight time was the time he had to spend in airplane flight each month in order to get his flight pay. Doc Daneeka hated to fly. He felt imprisoned in an airplane. In an airplane there was absolutely no place in the world to go except to another part of the airplane. Doc Daneeka had been told that people who enjoyed climbing into an airplane were really giving vent to a subconscious desire to climb back into the womb. He had been told this by Yossarian, who made it possible for Dan Daneeka to collect his flight pay each month without ever climbing back into the womb. Yossarian would persuade McWatt to enter Doc Daneeka’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 I don’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 hand washes 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 co-operation. 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 the sunlight as often as he could, dressed in khaki summer trousers and a short-sleeved summer shirt that was bleached almost to an antiseptic gray by the daily laundering to which he had it subjected. He was like a man who had grown frozen with horror once and had never come completely unthawed. He sat all tucked up into himself, his slender shoulders huddled halfway around his head, his suntanned hands with their luminous silver fingernails massaging the backs of his bare, folded arms gently as though he were cold. Actually, he was a very warm, compassionate 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 to disrupt the educational sessions Clevinger had once conducted two nights a week in Captain Black’s intelligence tent with the corporal in eyeglasses who everybody knew was probably a subversive. Captain Black knew he was a subversive because he wore eyeglasses and used words like panacea and utopia, and because he disapproved of Adolf Hitler, who had done such a great job of combating un-American activities in Germany. Yossarian attended the educational sessions because he wanted to find out why so many people were working so hard to kill him. A handful of other men were also interested, and the questions were many and good when Clevinger and 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 broke down?”
“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 and seized 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.”
“Où 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 français.”
“Neither do I,” answered Yossarian, who was ready to pursue him through all the words in the world to wring the knowledge from him if he could, but Clevinger intervened, pale, thin, and laboring for breath, a humid coating 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 ask whatever questions they wanted to. Colonel Cathcart sent Colonel Korn to stop it, and Colonel Korn succeeded with a rule governing the asking of questions. Colonel Korn’s rule was a stroke of genius, Colonel Korn explained in his report to Colonel Cathcart. Under Colonel Korn’s rule, the only people permitted to ask questions were those who never did. Soon the only people attending were those who never asked questions, and the sessions were discontinued altogether, since Clevinger, the corporal and Colonel Korn agreed that it was neither 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 all the members of the headquarters staff, with the exception of the chaplain. The Group Headquarters building was an enormous, windy, antiquated structure built of powdery red stone and banging plumbing. Behind the building was the modern skeet-shooting range that had been constructed by Colonel Cathcart for the exclusive recreation of the officers at Group and at which every officer and enlisted man on combat status now, thanks to General Dreedle, 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 shooting skeet 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 to which 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 of them 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 was shrewd and sophisticated. His eyes gleamed maliciously. “Have someone get me General Dreedle,” he requested Colonel 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 General Dreedle, at the insistence of his wife and against his own better judgment, had taken him into the military business. General Dreedle gazed at Colonel Moodus with level hatred. He detested the very sight of his son-in-law, who was his aide and therefore in constant attendance upon him. He had opposed his daughter’s marriage to Colonel Moodus because he disliked attending weddings. Wearing a menacing and preoccupied scowl, General Dreedle moved to the full-length mirror in his office and stared at his stocky reflection. He had a grizzled, broad-browed head with iron-gray tufts over his eyes and a blunt and belligerent jaw. He brooded in ponderous speculation over the cryptic message he had just received. Slowly his face softened with an idea, and he curled his 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 or something, like the colors of the day. Why don’t you have someone check with Communications and see if it’s a new code or something or the colors of the day?”
Communications 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 if they know anything about it. They have a clerk up there named Wintergreen I’m pretty close to. He’s the one who 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. Eliot.
“How’s our prose these days?” Colonel Cargill decided to inquire while he had ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen on the phone. “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 enlisted man in the group on combat 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 was excellent 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 figured out that a single hour on the skeet-shooting range with people like Havermeyer and Appleby could be worth as much 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 longer—Is longer? All right, is longer if it’s filled with periods of boredom and discomfort, 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 than having 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.” He snapped his fingers. “A second ago you were stepping into college with your lungs full of fresh air. Today you’re an 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? A half minute before that you were stepping into high school, and an unhooked brassiere was as close as you ever hoped to get to Paradise. Only a fifth of a second before that you were a small kid with a ten-week summer vacation that lasted a hundred thousand years and still ended too soon. Zip! They go rocketing by so fast. How the 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 be filled 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?”
|Ebook version 0—please increment version number if you make corrections to this text. Thanks! The Toad exploring the world of lucid dreaming||This text will contain errors even though I spent at least a few minutes on each page trying to correct major errors such as Sanskrit names. This was the first|
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|A journey down the Severn from Thomas Harral’s Picturesque Views of the River (1824) [Text only version]||Now first translated from the original latin, and collated with the french version, with dissertations, new translation of the text, and copious indices|