26. Nurse Duckett

26. Nurse Duckett

  • cute_smiley15Nurse Duckett

    Nurse Sue Ann Duckett was a tall, spare, mature, straight-backed woman with a prominent, well-rounded ass, small breasts and angular ascetic New England features that came equally close to being very lovely and very plain. Her skin was white and pink, her eyes small, her nose and chin slender and sharp. She was able, prompt, strict and intelligent. She welcomed responsibility and kept her head in every crisis. She was adult and self-reliant, and there was nothing she needed from anyone. Yossarian took pity and decided to help her.

    Next morning while she was standing bent over smoothing the sheets at the foot of his bed, he slipped his hand stealthily into the narrow space between her knees and, all at once, brought it up swiftly under her dress as far as it would go. Nurse Duckett shrieked and jumped into the air a mile, but it wasn’t high enough, and she squirmed and vaulted and seesawed back and forth on her divine fulcrum for almost a full fifteen seconds before she wiggled free finally and retreated frantically into the aisle with an ashen, trembling face. She backed away too far, and Dunbar, who had watched from the beginning, sprang forward on his bed without warning and flung both arms around her bosom from behind. Nurse Duckett let out another scream and twisted away, fleeing far enough from Dunbar for Yossarian to lunge forward and grab her by the snatch again. Nurse Duckett bounced out across the aisle once more like a ping-pong ball with legs. Dunbar was waiting vigilantly, ready to pounce. She remembered him just in time and leaped aside. Dunbar missed completely and sailed by her over the bed to the floor, landing on his skull with a soggy, crunching thud that knocked him cold.

    He woke up on the floor with a bleeding nose and exactly the same distressful head symptoms he had been feigning all along. The ward was in a chaotic uproar. Nurse Duckett was in tears, and Yossarian was consoling her apologetically as he sat beside her on the edge of a bed. The commanding colonel was wroth and shouting at Yossarian that he would not permit his patients to take indecent liberties with his nurses.

    ‘What do you want from him?’ Dunbar asked plaintively from the floor, wincing at the vibrating pains in his temples that his voice set up. ‘He didn’t do anything.’

    ‘I’m talking about you!’ the thin, dignified colonel bellowed as loudly as he could. ‘You’re going to be punished for what you did.’

    ‘What do you want from him?’ Yossarian called out. ‘All he did was fall on his head.’

    ‘And I’m talking about you too!’ the colonel declared, whirling to rage at Yossarian. ‘You’re going to be good and sorry you grabbed Nurse Duckett by the bosom.’

    ‘I didn’t grab Nurse Duckett by the bosom,’ said Yossarian.

    ‘I grabbed her by the bosom,’ said Dunbar.

    ‘Are you both crazy?’ the doctor cried shrilly, backing away in paling confusion.

    ‘Yes, he really is crazy, Doc,’ Dunbar assured him. ‘Every night he dreams he’s holding a live fish in his hands.’ The doctor stopped in his tracks with a look of elegant amazement and distaste, and the ward grew still. ‘He does what?’ he demanded.

    ‘He dreams he’s holding a live fish in his hand.’

    ‘What kind of fish?’ the doctor inquired sternly of Yossarian.

    ‘I don’t know,’ Yossarian answered. ‘I can’t tell one kind of fish from another.’

    ‘In which hand do you hold them?’

    ‘It varies,’ answered Yossarian.

    ‘It varies with the fish,’ Dunbar added helpfully.

    The colonel turned and stared down at Dunbar suspiciously with a narrow squint. ‘Yes? And how come you seem to know so much about it?’

    ‘I’m in the dream,’ Dunbar answered without cracking a smile.

    The colonel’s face flushed with embarrassment. He glared at them both with cold, unforgiving resentment. ‘Get up off the floor and into your bed,’ he directed Dunbar through thin lips. ‘And I don’t want to hear another word about this dream from either one of you. I’ve got a man on my staff to listen to disgusting bilge like this.’

    ‘Just why do you think,’ carefully inquired Major Sanderson, the soft and thickset smiling staff psychiatrist to whom the colonel had ordered Yossarian sent, ‘that Colonel Ferredge finds your dream disgusting?’ Yossarian replied respectfully. ‘I suppose it’s either some quality in the dream or some quality in Colonel Ferredge.’

    ‘That’s very well put,’ applauded Major Sanderson, who wore squeaking GI shoes and had charcoal-black hair that stood up almost straight. ‘For some reason,’ he confided, ‘Colonel Ferredge has always reminded me of a sea gull. He doesn’t put much faith in psychiatry, you know.’

    ‘You don’t like sea gulls, do you?’ inquired Yossarian.

    ‘No, not very much,’ admitted Major Sanderson with a sharp, nervous laugh and pulled at his pendulous second chin lovingly as though it were a long goatee. ‘I think your dream is charming, and I hope it recurs frequently so that we can continue discussing it. Would you like a cigarette?’ He smiled when Yossarian declined. ‘Just why do you think,’ he asked knowingly, ‘that you have such a strong aversion to accepting a cigarette from me?’

    ‘I put one out a second ago. It’s still smoldering in your ash tray.’ Major Sanderson chuckled. ‘That’s a very ingenious explanation. But I suppose we’ll soon discover the true reason.’ He tied a sloppy double bow in his opened shoelace and then transferred a lined yellow pad from his desk to his lap. ‘This fish you dream about. Let’s talk about that. It’s always the same fish, isn’t it?’

    ‘I don’t know,’ Yossarian replied. ‘I have trouble recognizing fish.’

    ‘What does the fish remind you of?’

    ‘Other fish.’

    ‘And what do other fish remind you of?’

    ‘Other fish.’ Major Sanderson sat back disappointedly. ‘Do you like fish?’

    ‘Not especially.’

    ‘Just why do you think you have such a morbid aversion to fish?’ asked Major Sanderson triumphantly.

    ‘They’re too bland,’ Yossarian answered. ‘And too bony.’ Major Sanderson nodded understandingly, with a smile that was agreeable and insincere. ‘That’s a very interesting explanation. But we’ll soon discover the true reason, I suppose. Do you like this particular fish? The one you’re holding in your hand?’

    ‘I have no feelings about it either way.’

    ‘Do you dislike the fish? Do you have any hostile or aggressive emotions toward it?’

    ‘No, not at all. In fact, I rather like the fish.’

    ‘Then you do like the fish.’

    ‘Oh, no. I have no feelings toward it either way.’

    ‘But you just said you liked it. And now you say you have no feelings toward it either way. I’ve just caught you in a contradiction. Don’t you see?’

    ‘Yes, sir. I suppose you have caught me in a contradiction.’ Major Sanderson proudly lettered ‘Contradiction’ on his pad with his thick black pencil. ‘Just why do you think,’ he resumed when he had finished, looking up, ‘that you made those two statements expressing contradictory emotional responses to the fish?’

    ‘I suppose I have an ambivalent attitude toward it.’ Major Sanderson sprang up with joy when he heard the words ‘ambivalent attitude’. ‘You do understand!’ he exclaimed, wringing his hands together ecstatically. ‘Oh, you can’t imagine how lonely it’s been for me, talking day after day to patients who haven’t the slightest knowledge of psychiatry, trying to cure people who have no real interest in me or my work! It’s given me such a terrible feeling of inadequacy.’ A shadow of anxiety crossed his face. ‘I can’t seem to shake it.’

    ‘Really?’ asked Yossarian, wondering what else to say. ‘Why do you blame yourself for gaps in the education of others?’

    ‘It’s silly, I know,’ Major Sanderson replied uneasily with a giddy, involuntary laugh. ‘But I’ve always depended very heavily on the good opinion of others. I reached puberty a bit later than all the other boys my age, you see, and it’s given me sort of—well, all sorts of problems. I just know I’m going to enjoy discussing them with you. I’m so eager to begin that I’m almost reluctant to digress now to your problem, but I’m afraid I must. Colonel Ferredge would be cross if he knew we were spending all our time on me. I’d like to show you some ink blots now to find out what certain shapes and colors remind you of.’

    ‘You can save yourself the trouble, Doctor. Everything reminds me of sex.’

    ‘Does it?’ cried Major Sanderson with delight, as though unable to believe his ears. ‘Now we’re really getting somewhere! Do you ever have any good sex dreams?’

    ‘My fish dream is a sex dream.’

    ‘No, I mean real sex dreams—the kind where you grab some naked bitch by the neck and pinch her and punch her in the face until she’s all bloody and then throw yourself down to ravish her and burst into tears because you love her and hate her so much you don’t know what else to do. That’s the kind of sex dreams I like to talk about. Don’t you ever have sex dreams like that?’ Yossarian reflected a moment with a wise look. ‘That’s a fish dream,’ he decided.

    Major Sanderson recoiled as though he had been slapped. ‘Yes, of course,’ he conceded frigidly, his manner changing to one of edgy and defensive antagonism. ‘But I’d like you to dream one like that anyway just to see how you react. That will be all for today. In the meantime, I’d also like you to dream up the answers to some of those questions I asked you. These sessions are no more pleasant for me than they are for you, you know.’

    ‘I’ll mention it to Dunbar,’ Yossarian replied.

    ‘ Dunbar?’

    ‘He’s the one who started it all. It’s his dream.’

    ‘Oh, Dunbar.’ Major Sanderson sneered, his confidence returning. ‘I’ll bet Dunbar is that evil fellow who really does all those nasty things you’re always being blamed for, isn’t he?’

    ‘He’s not so evil.’ And yet you’ll defend him to the very death, won’t you?’

    ‘Not that far.’ Major Sanderson smiled tauntingly and wrote ‘Dunbar’ on his pad. ‘Why are you limping?’ he asked sharply, as Yossarian moved to the door. ‘And what the devil is that bandage doing on your leg? Are you mad or something?’

    ‘I was wounded in the leg. That’s what I’m in the hospital for.’

    ‘Oh, no, you’re not,’ gloated Major Sanderson maliciously. ‘You’re in the hospital for a stone in your salivary gland. So you’re not so smart after all, are you? You don’t even know what you’re in the hospital for.’

    ‘I’m in the hospital for a wounded leg,’ Yossarian insisted.

    Major Sanderson ignored his argument with a sarcastic laugh. ‘Well, give my regards to your friend Dunbar. And you will tell him to dream that dream for me, won’t you?’ But Dunbar had nausea and dizziness with his constant headache and was not inclined to co-operate with Major Sanderson. Hungry Joe had nightmares because he had finished sixty missions and was waiting again to go home, but he was unwilling to share any when he came to the hospital to visit.

    ‘Hasn’t anyone got any dreams for Major Sanderson?’ Yossarian asked. ‘I hate to disappoint him. He feels so rejected already.’

    ‘I’ve been having a very peculiar dream ever since I learned you were wounded,’ confessed the chaplain. ‘I used to dream every night that my wife was dying or being murdered or that my children were choking to death on morsels of nutritious food. Now I dream that I’m out swimming in water over my head and a shark is eating my left leg in exactly the same place where you have your bandage.’

    ‘That’s a wonderful dream,’ Dunbar declared. ‘I bet Major Sanderson will love it.’

    ‘That’s a horrible dream!’ Major Sanderson cried. ‘It’s filled with pain and mutilation and death. I’m sure you had it just to spite me. You know, I’m not even sure you belong in the Army, with a disgusting dream like that.’ Yossarian thought he spied a ray of hope. ‘Perhaps you’re right, sir,’ he suggested slyly. ‘Perhaps I ought to be grounded and returned to the States.’

    ‘Hasn’t it ever occurred to you that in your promiscuous pursuit of women you are merely trying to assuage your subconscious fears of sexual impotence?’

    ‘Yes, sir, it has.’

    ‘Then why do you do it?’

    ‘To assuage my fears of sexual impotence.’

    ‘Why don’t you get yourself a good hobby instead?’ Major Sanderson inquired with friendly interest. ‘Like fishing. Do you really find Nurse Duckett so attractive? I should think she was rather bony. Rather bland and bony, you know. Like a fish.’

    ‘I hardly know Nurse Duckett.’

    ‘Then why did you grab her by the bosom? Merely because she has one?’

    ‘ Dunbar did that.’

    ‘Oh, don’t start that again,’ Major Sanderson exclaimed with vitriolic scorn, and hurled down his pencil disgustedly. ‘Do you really think that you can absolve yourself of guilt by pretending to be someone else? I don’t like you, Fortiori. Do you know that? I don’t like you at all.’ Yossarian felt a cold, damp wind of apprehension blow over him. ‘I’m not Fortiori, sir,’ he said timidly. ‘I’m Yossarian.’

    ‘You’re who?’

    ‘My name is Yossarian, sir. And I’m in the hospital with a wounded leg.’

    ‘Your name is Fortiori,’ Major Sanderson contradicted him belligerently. ‘And you’re in the hospital for a stone in your salivary gland.’

    ‘Oh, come on, Major!’ Yossarian exploded. ‘I ought to know who I am.’

    ‘And I’ve got an official Army record here to prove it,’ Major Sanderson retorted. ‘You’d better get a grip on yourself before it’s too late. First you’re Dunbar. Now you’re Yossarian. The next thing you know you’ll be claiming you’re Washington Irving. Do you know what’s wrong with you? You’ve got a split personality, that’s what’s wrong with you.’

    ‘Perhaps you’re right, sir.’ Yossarian agreed diplomatically.

    ‘I know I’m right. You’ve got a bad persecution complex. You think people are trying to harm you.’

    ‘People are trying to harm me.’

    ‘You see? You have no respect for excessive authority or obsolete traditions. You’re dangerous and depraved, and you ought to be taken outside and shot!’

    ‘Are you serious?’

    ‘You’re an enemy of the people!’

    ‘Are you nuts?’ Yossarian shouted.

    ‘No, I’m not nuts,’ Dobbs roared furiously back in the ward, in what he imagined was a furtive whisper. ‘Hungry Joe saw them, I tell you. He saw them yesterday when he flew to Naples to pick up some black-market air conditioners for Colonel Cathcart’s farm. They’ve got a big replacement center there and it’s filled with hundreds of pilots, bombardiers and gunners on the way home. They’ve got forty-five missions, that’s all. A few with Purple Hearts have even less. Replacement crews are pouring in from the States into the other bomber groups. They want everyone to serve overseas at least once, even administrative personnel. Don’t you read the papers? We’ve got to kill him now!’

    ‘You’ve got only two more missions to fly,’ Yossarian reasoned with him in a low voice. ‘Why take a chance?’

    ‘I can get killed flying them, too,’ Dobbs answered pugnaciously in his rough, quavering, overwrought voice. ‘We can kill him the first thing tomorrow morning when he drives back from his farm. I’ve got the gun right here.’ Yossarian goggled with amazement as Dobbs pulled a gun out of his pocket and displayed it high in the air. ‘Are you crazy?’ he hissed frantically. ‘Put it away. And keep your idiot voice down.’

    ‘What are you worried about?’ Dobbs asked with offended innocence. ‘No one can hear us.’

    ‘Hey, knock it off down there,’ a voice rang out from the far end of the ward. ‘Can’t you see we’re trying to nap?’

    ‘What the hell are you, a wise guy?’ Dobbs yelled back and spun around with clenched fists, ready to fight. He whirled back to Yossarian and, before he could speak, sneezed thunderously six times, staggering sideways on rubbery legs in the intervals and raising his elbows ineffectively to fend each seizure off. The lids of his watery eyes were puffy and inflamed.

    ‘Who does he think,’ he demanded, sniffing spasmodically and wiping his nose with the back of his sturdy wrist, ‘he is, a cop or something?’

    ‘He’s a C.I.D. man,’ Yossarian notified him tranquilly. ‘We’ve got three here now and more on the way. Oh, don’t be scared. They’re after a forger named Washington Irving. They’re not interested in murderers.’

    ‘Murderers?’ Dobbs was affronted. ‘Why do you call us murderers? Just because we’re going to murder Colonel Cathcart?’

    ‘Be quiet, damn you!’ directed Yossarian. ‘Can’t you whisper?’

    ‘I am whispering. I—’

    ‘You’re still shouting.’

    ‘No, I’m not. I—’

    ‘Hey, shut up down there, will you?’ patients all over the ward began hollering at Dobbs.

    ‘I’ll fight you all!’ Dobbs screamed back at them, and stood up on a rickety wooden chair, waving the gun wildly. Yossarian caught his arm and yanked him down. Dobbs began sneezing again. ‘I have an allergy,’ he apologized when he had finished, his nostrils running and his eyes streaming with tears.

    ‘That’s too bad. You’d make a great leader of men without it.’

    ‘Colonel Cathcart’s the murderer,’ Dobbs complained hoarsely when he had shoved away a soiled, crumpled khaki handkerchief. ‘Colonel Cathcart’s the one who’s going to murder us all if we don’t do something to stop him.’

    ‘Maybe he won’t raise the missions any more. Maybe sixty is as high as he’ll go.’

    ‘He always raises the missions. You know that better than I do.’ Dobbs swallowed and bent his intense face very close to Yossarian’s, the muscles in his bronze, rocklike jaw bunching up into quivering knots. ‘Just say it’s okay and I’ll do the whole thing tomorrow morning. Do you understand what I’m telling you? I’m whispering now, ain’t I?’ Yossarian tore his eyes away from the gaze of burning entreaty Dobbs had fastened on him. ‘Why the goddam hell don’t you just go out and do it?’ he protested. ‘Why don’t you stop talking to me about it and do it alone?’

    ‘I’m afraid to do it alone. I’m afraid to do anything alone.’

    ‘Then leave me out of it. I’d have to be crazy to get mixed up in something like this now. I’ve got a million-dollar leg wound here. They’re going to send me home.’

    ‘Are you crazy?’ Dobbs exclaimed in disbelief. ‘All you’ve got there is a scratch. He’ll have you back flying combat missions the day you come out, Purple Heart and all.’

    ‘Then I really will kill him,’ Yossarian vowed. ‘I’ll come looking for you and we’ll do it together.’

    ‘Then let’s do it tomorrow while we’ve still got the chance,’ Dobbs pleaded. ‘The chaplain says he’s volunteered the group for Avignon again. I may be killed before you get out. Look how these hands of mine shake. I can’t fly a plane. I’m not good enough.’ Yossarian was afraid to say yes. ‘I want to wait and see what happens first.’

    ‘The trouble with you is that you just won’t do anything,’ Dobbs complained in a thick infuriated voice.

    ‘I’m doing everything I possibly can,’ the chaplain explained softly to Yossarian after Dobbs had departed. ‘I even went to the medical tent to speak to Doc Daneeka about helping you.’

    ‘Yes, I can see.’ Yossarian suppressed a smile. ‘What happened?’

    ‘They painted my gums purple,’ the chaplain replied sheepishly.

    ‘They painted his toes purple, too,’ Nately added in outrage. ‘And then they gave him a laxative.’

    ‘But I went back again this morning to see him.’

    ‘And they painted his gums purple again,’ said Nately.

    ‘But I did get to speak to him,’ the chaplain argued in a plaintive tone of self-justification. ‘Doctor Daneeka seems like such an unhappy man. He suspects that someone is plotting to transfer him to the Pacific Ocean. All this time he’s been thinking of coming to me for help. When I told him I needed his help, he wondered if there wasn’t a chaplain I couldn’t go see.’ The chaplain waited in patient dejection when Yossarian and Dunbar both broke into laughter. ‘I used to think it was immoral to be unhappy,’ he continued, as though keening aloud in solitude. ‘Now I don’t know what to think any more. I’d like to make the subject of immorality the basis of my sermon this Sunday, but I’m not sure I ought to give any sermon at all with these purple gums. Colonel Korn was very displeased with them.’

    ‘Chaplain, why don’t you come into the hospital with us for a while and take it easy?’ Yossarian invited. ‘You could be very comfortable here.’ The brash iniquity of the proposal tempted and amused the chaplain for a second or two. ‘No, I don’t think so,’ he decided reluctantly. ‘I want to arrange for a trip to the mainland to see a mail clerk named Wintergreen. Doctor Daneeka told me he could help.’

    ‘Wintergreen is probably the most influential man in the whole theater of operations. He’s not only a mail clerk, but he has access to a mimeograph machine. But he won’t help anybody. That’s one of the reasons he’ll go far.’

    ‘I’d like to speak to him anyway. There must be somebody who will help you.’

    ‘Do it for Dunbar, Chaplain,’ Yossarian corrected with a superior air. ‘I’ve got this million-dollar leg wound that will take me out of combat. If that doesn’t do it, there’s a psychiatrist who thinks I’m not good enough to be in the Army.’

    ‘I’m the one who isn’t good enough to be in the Army,’ Dunbar whined jealously. ‘It was my dream.’

    ‘It’s not the dream, Dunbar,’ Yossarian explained. ‘He likes your dream. It’s my personality. He thinks it’s split.’

    ‘It’s split right down the middle,’ said Major Sanderson, who had laced his lumpy GI shoes for the occasion and had slicked his charcoal-dull hair down with some stiffening and redolent tonic. He smiled ostentatiously to show himself reasonable and nice. ‘I’m not saying that to be cruel and insulting,’ he continued with cruel and insulting delight. ‘I’m not saying it because I hate you and want revenge. I’m not saying it because you rejected me and hurt my feelings terribly. No, I’m a man of medicine and I’m being coldly objective. I have very bad news for you. Are you man enough to take it?’

    ‘God, no!’ screamed Yossarian. ‘I’ll go right to pieces.’ Major Sanderson flew instantly into a rage. ‘Can’t you even do one thing right?’ he pleaded, turning beet-red with vexation and crashing the sides of both fists down upon his desk together. ‘The trouble with you is that you think you’re too good for all the conventions of society. You probably think you’re too good for me too, just because I arrived at puberty late. Well, do you know what you are? You’re a frustrated, unhappy, disillusioned, undisciplined, maladjusted young man!’ Major Sanderson’s disposition seemed to mellow as he reeled off the uncomplimentary adjectives.

    ‘Yes, sir,’ Yossarian agreed carefully. ‘I guess you’re right.’

    ‘Of course I’m right. You’re immature. You’ve been unable to adjust to the idea of war.’

    ‘Yes, sir.’

    ‘You have a morbid aversion to dying. You probably resent the fact that you’re at war and might get your head blown off any second.’

    ‘I more than resent it, sir. I’m absolutely incensed.’

    ‘You have deep-seated survival anxieties. And you don’t like bigots, bullies, snobs or hypocrites. Subconsciously there are many people you hate.’

    ‘Consciously, sir, consciously,’ Yossarian corrected in an effort to help. ‘I hate them consciously.’

    ‘You’re antagonistic to the idea of being robbed, exploited, degraded, humiliated or deceived. Misery depresses you. Ignorance depresses you. Persecution depresses you. Violence depresses you. Slums depress you. Greed depresses you. Crime depresses you. Corruption depresses you. You know, it wouldn’t surprise me if you’re a manic-depressive!’

    ‘Yes, sir. Perhaps I am.’

    ‘Don’t try to deny it.’

    ‘I’m not denying it, sir,’ said Yossarian, pleased with the miraculous rapport that finally existed between them. ‘I agree with all you’ve said.’

    ‘Then you admit you’re crazy, do you?’

    ‘Crazy?’ Yossarian was shocked. ‘What are you talking about? Why am I crazy? You’re the one who’s crazy!’ Major Sanderson turned red with indignation again and crashed both fists down upon his thighs. ‘Calling me crazy,’ he shouted in a sputtering rage, ‘is a typically sadistic and vindictive paranoiac reaction! You really are crazy!’

    ‘Then why don’t you send me home?’

    ‘And I’m going to send you home!’

    ‘They’re going to send me home!’ Yossarian announced jubilantly, as he hobbled back into the ward.

    ‘Me too!’ A. Fortiori rejoiced. ‘They just came to my ward and told me.’

    ‘What about me?’ Dunbar demanded petulantly of the doctors.

    ‘You?’ they replied with asperity. ‘You’re going with Yossarian. Right back into combat!’ And back into combat they both went. Yossarian was enraged when the ambulance returned him to the squadron, and he went limping for justice to Doc Daneeka, who glared at him glumly with misery and disdain.

    ‘You!’ Doc Daneeka exclaimed mournfully with accusing disgust, the egg-shaped pouches under both eyes firm and censorious. ‘All you ever think of is yourself. Go take a look at the bomb line if you want to see what’s been happening since you went to the hospital.’ Yossarian was startled. ‘Are we losing?’

    ‘Losing?’ Doc Daneeka cried. ‘The whole military situation has been going to hell ever since we captured Paris. I knew it would happen.’ He paused, his sulking ire turning to melancholy, and frowned irritably as though it were all Yossarian’s fault. ‘American troops are pushing into German soil. The Russians have captured back all of Romania. Only yesterday the Greeks in the Eighth Army captured Rimini. The Germans are on the defensive everywhere!’ Doc Daneeka paused again and fortified himself with a huge breath for a piercing ejaculation of grief. ‘There’s no more Luftwaffe left!’ he wailed. He seemed ready to burst into tears. ‘The whole Gothic line is in danger of collapsing!’

    ‘So?’ asked Yossarian. ‘What’s wrong?’

    ‘What’s wrong?’ Doc Daneeka cried. ‘If something doesn’t happen soon, Germany may surrender. And then we’ll all be sent to the Pacific!’ Yossarian gawked at Doc Daneeka in grotesque dismay. ‘Are you crazy? Do you know what you’re saying?’

    ‘Yeah, it’s easy for you to laugh,’ Doc Daneeka sneered.

    ‘Who the hell is laughing?’

    ‘At least you’ve got a chance. You’re in combat and might get killed. But what about me? I’ve got nothing to hope for.’

    ‘You’re out of your goddam head!’ Yossarian shouted at him emphatically, seizing him by the shirt front. ‘Do you know that? Now keep your stupid mouth shut and listen to me.’ Doc Daneeka wrenched himself away. ‘Don’t you dare talk to me like that. I’m a licensed physician.’

    ‘Then keep your stupid licensed physician’s mouth shut and listen to what they told me up at the hospital. I’m crazy. Did you know that?’


    ‘Really crazy.’


    ‘I’m nuts. Cuckoo. Don’t you understand? I’m off my rocker. They sent someone else home in my place by mistake. They’ve got a licensed psychiatrist up at the hospital who examined me, and that was his verdict. I’m really insane.’


    ‘So?’ Yossarian was puzzled by Doc Daneeka’s inability to comprehend. ‘Don’t you see what that means? Now you can take me off combat duty and send me home. They’re not going to send a crazy man out to be killed, are they?’

    ‘Who else will go?’
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