32. Nately’s Whore

3/10/15
32. Nately’s Whore

  • cute_smiley15Nately’s Whore

    He missed Nurse Duckett in Rome. There was not much else to do after Hungry Joe left on his mail run. Yossarian missed Nurse Duckett so much that he went searching hungrily through the streets for Luciana, whose laugh and invisible scar he had never forgotten, or the boozy, blowzy, bleary-eyed floozy in the overloaded white brassière and unbuttoned orange satin blouse whose naughty salmon-colored cameo ring Aarfy had thrown away so callously through the window of her car. How he yearned for both girls! He looked for them in vain. He was so deeply in love with them, and he knew he would never see either again. Despair gnawed at him. Visions beset him. He wanted Nurse Duckett with her dress up and her slim thighs bare to the hips. He banged a thin streetwalker with a wet cough who picked him up from an alley between hotels, but that was no fun at all and he hastened to the enlisted men’s apartment for the fat, friendly maid in the lime-colored panties, who was overjoyed to see him but couldn’t arouse him. He went to bed there early and slept alone. He woke up disappointed and banged a sassy, short, chubby girl he found in the apartment after breakfast, but that was only a little better, and he chased her away when he’d finished and went back to sleep. He napped till lunch and then went shopping for presents for Nurse Duckett and a scarf for the maid in the lime-coloured panties, who hugged him with such gargantuan gratitude that he was soon hot for Nurse Duckett and ran looking lecherously for Luciana again. Instead he found Aarfy, who had landed in Rome when Hungry Joe returned with Dunbar, Nately and Dobbs, and who would not go along on the drunken foray that night to rescue Nately’s whore from the middle-aged military big shots holding her captive in a hotel because she would not say uncle.

    ‘Why should I risk getting into trouble just to help her out?’ Aarfy demanded haughtily. ‘But don’t tell Nately I said that. Tell him I had to keep an appointment with some very important fraternity brothers.’ The middle-aged big shots would not let Nately’s whore leave until they made her say uncle.

    ‘Say uncle,’ they said to her.

    ‘Uncle,’ she said.

    ‘No, no. Say uncle.’

    ‘Uncle,’ she said.

    ‘She still doesn’t understand.’

    ‘You still don’t understand, do you? We can’t really make you say uncle unless you don’t want to say uncle. Don’t you see? Don’t say uncle when I tell you to say uncle. Okay? Say uncle.’

    ‘Uncle,’ she said.

    ‘No, don’t say uncle. Say uncle.’ She didn’t say uncle.

    ‘That’s good!’

    ‘That’s very good.’

    ‘It’s a start. Now say uncle.’

    ‘Uncle,’ she said.

    ‘It’s no good.’

    ‘No, it’s no good that way either. She just isn’t impressed with us. There’s just no fun making her say uncle when she doesn’t care whether we make her say uncle or not.’

    ‘No, she really doesn’t care, does she? Say “foot.” ‘

    ‘Foot.’

    ‘You see? She doesn’t care about anything we do. She doesn’t care about us. We don’t mean a thing to you, do we?’

    ‘Uncle,’ she said.

    She didn’t care about them a bit, and it upset them terribly. They shook her roughly each time she yawned. She did not seem to care about anything, not even when they threatened to throw her out the window. They were utterly demoralized men of distinction. She was bored and indifferent and wanted very much to sleep. She had been on the job for twenty-two hours, and she was sorry that these men had not permitted her to leave with the other two girls with whom the orgy had begun. She wondered vaguely why they wanted her to laugh when they laughed, and why they wanted her to enjoy it when they made love to her. It was all very mysterious to her, and very uninteresting.

    She was not sure what they wanted from her. Each time she slumped over with her eyes closed they shook her awake and made her say ‘uncle’ again. Each time she said ‘uncle,’ they were disappointed. She wondered what ‘uncle’ meant. She sat on the sofa in a passive, phlegmatic stupor, her mouth open and all her clothing crumpled in a corner on the floor, and wondered how much longer they would sit around naked with her and make her say uncle in the elegant hotel suite to which Orr’s old girl friend, giggling uncontrollably at Yossarian’s and Dunbar’s drunken antics, guided Nately and the other members of the motley rescue party.

    Dunbar squeezed Orr’s old girl friend’s fanny gratefully and passed her back to Yossarian, who propped her against the door jamb with both hands on her hips and wormed himself against her lasciviously until Nately seized him by the arm and pulled him away from her into the blue sitting room, where Dunbar was already hurling everything in sight out the window into the court. Dobbs was smashing furniture with an ash stand. A nude, ridiculous man with a blushing appendectomy scar appeared in the doorway suddenly and bellowed.

    ‘What’s going on here?’

    ‘Your toes are dirty,’ Dunbar said.

    The man covered his groin with both hands and shrank from view. Dunbar, Dobbs and Hungry Joe just kept dumping everything they could lift out the window with great, howling whoops of happy abandon. They soon finished with the clothing on the couches and the luggage on the floor, and they were ransacking a cedar closet when the door to the inner room opened again and a man who was very distinguished-looking from the neck up padded into view imperiously on bare feet.

    ‘Here, you, stop that,’ he barked. ‘Just what do you men think you’re doing?’

    ‘Your toes are dirty,’ Dunbar said to him.

    The man covered his groin as the first one had done and disappeared. Nately charged after him, but was blocked by the first officer, who plodded back in holding a pillow in front of him, like a bubble dancer.

    ‘Hey, you men!’ he roared angrily. ‘Stop it!’

    ‘Stop it,’ Dunbar replied.

    ‘That’s what I said.’

    ‘That’s what I said,’ Dunbar said.

    The officer stamped his foot petulantly, turning weak with frustration. ‘Are you deliberately repeating everything I say?’

    ‘Are you deliberately repeating everything I say?’

    ‘I’ll thrash you.’ The man raised a fist.

    ‘I’ll thrash you,’ Dunbar warned him coldly. ‘You’re a German spy, and I’m going to have you shot.’

    ‘German spy? I’m an American colonel.’

    ‘You don’t look like an American colonel. You look like a fat man with a pillow in front of him. Where’s your uniform, if you’re an American colonel?’

    ‘You just threw it out the window.’

    ‘All right, men,’ Dunbar said. ‘Lock the silly bastard up. Take the silly bastard down to the station house and throw away the key.’ The colonel blanched with alarm. ‘Are you all crazy? Where’s your badge? Hey, you! Come back in here!’ But he whirled too late to stop Nately, who had glimpsed his girl sitting on the sofa in the other room and had darted through the doorway behind his back. The others poured through after him right into the midst of the other naked big shots. Hungry Joe laughed hysterically when he saw them, pointing in disbelief at one after the other and clasping his head and sides. Two with fleshy physiques advanced truculently until they spied the look of mean dislike and hostility on Dobbs and Dunbar and noticed that Dobbs was still swinging like a two-handed club the wrought-iron ash stand he had used to smash things in the sitting room. Nately was already at his girl’s side. She stared at him without recognition for a few seconds. Then she smiled faintly and let her head sink to his shoulder with her eyes closed. Nately was in ecstasy; she had never smiled at him before.

    ‘Filpo,’ said a calm, slender, jaded-looking man who had not even stirred from his armchair. ‘You don’t obey orders. I told you to get them out, and you’ve gone and brought them in. Can’t you see the difference?’

    ‘They’ve thrown our things out the window, General.’

    ‘Good for them. Our uniforms too? That was clever. We’ll never be able to convince anyone we’re superior without our uniforms.’

    ‘Let’s get their names, Lou, and—’

    ‘Oh, Ned, relax,’ said the slender man with practiced weariness. ‘You may be pretty good at moving armored divisions into action, but you’re almost useless in a social situation. Sooner or later we’ll get our uniforms back, and then we’ll be their superiors again. Did they really throw our uniforms out? That was a splendid tactic.’

    ‘They threw everything out.’

    ‘The ones in the closet, too?’

    ‘They threw the closet out, General. That was that crash we heard when we thought they were coming in to kill us.’

    ‘And I’ll throw you out next,’ Dunbar threatened.

    The general paled slightly. ‘What the devil is he so mad about?’ he asked Yossarian.

    ‘He means it, too,’ Yossarian said. ‘You’d better let the girl leave.’

    ‘Lord, take her,’ exclaimed the general with relief. ‘All she’s done is make us feel insecure. At least she might have disliked or resented us for the hundred dollars we paid her. But she wouldn’t even do that. Your handsome young friend there seems quite attached to her. Notice the way he lets his fingers linger on the inside of her thighs as he pretends to roll up her stockings.’ Nately, caught in the act, blushed guiltily and moved more quickly through the steps of dressing her. She was sound asleep and breathed so regularly that she seemed to be snoring softly.

    ‘Let’s charge her now, Lou!’ urged another officer. ‘We’ve got more personnel, and we can encircle—’

    ‘Oh, no, Bill,’ answered the general with a sigh. ‘You may be a wizard at directing a pincer movement in good weather on level terrain against an enemy that has already committed his reserves, but you don’t always think so clearly anywhere else. Why should we want to keep her?’

    ‘General, we’re in a very bad strategic position. We haven’t got a stitch of clothing, and it’s going to be very degrading and embarrassing for the person who has to go downstairs through the lobby to get some.’

    ‘Yes, Filpo, you’re quite right,’ said the general. ‘And that’s exactly why you’re the one to do it. Get going.’

    ‘Naked, sir?’

    ‘Take your pillow with you if you want to. And get some cigarettes, too, while you’re downstairs picking up my underwear and pants, will you?’

    ‘I’ll send everything up for you,’ Yossarian offered.

    ‘There, General,’ said Filpo with relief. ‘Now I won’t have to go.’

    ‘Filpo, you nitwit. Can’t you see he’s lying?’

    ‘Are you lying?’ Yossarian nodded, and Filpo’s faith was shattered. Yossarian laughed and helped Nately walk his girl out into the corridor and into the elevator. Her face was smiling as though with a lovely dream as she slept with her head still resting on Nately’s shoulder. Dobbs and Dunbar ran out into the street to stop a cab.

    Nately’s whore looked up when they left the car. She swallowed dryly several times during the arduous trek up the stairs to her apartment, but she was sleeping soundly again by the time Nately undressed her and put her to bed. She slept for eighteen hours, while Nately dashed about the apartment all the next morning shushing everybody in sight, and when she woke up she was deeply in love with him. In the last analysis, that was all it took to win her heart—a good night’s sleep.

    The girl smiled with contentment when she opened her eyes and saw him, and then, stretching her long legs languorously beneath the rustling sheets, beckoned him into bed beside her with that look of simpering idiocy of a woman in heat. Nately moved to her in a happy daze, so overcome with rapture that he hardly minded when her kid sister interrupted him again by flying into the room and flinging herself down onto the bed between them. Nately’s whore slapped and cursed her, but this time with laughter and generous affection, and Nately settled back smugly with an arm about each, feeling strong and protective. They made a wonderful family group, he decided. The little girl would go to college when she was old enough, to Smith or Radcliffe or Bryn Mawr—he would see to that. Nately bounded out of bed after a few minutes to announce his good fortune to his friends at the top of his voice. He called to them jubilantly to come to the room and slammed the door in their startled faces as soon as they arrived. He had remembered just in time that his girl had no clothes on.

    ‘Get dressed,’ he ordered her, congratulating himself on his alertness.

    ‘Perchè?’ she asked curiously.

    ‘Perchè?’ he repeated with an indulgent chuckle. ‘Because I don’t want them to see you without any clothes on.’

    ‘Perchè no?’ she inquired.

    ‘Perchè no?’ He looked at her with astonishment. ‘Because it isn’t right for other men to see you naked, that’s why.’

    ‘Perchè no?’

    ‘Because I say no!’ Nately exploded in frustration. ‘Now don’t argue with me. I’m the man and you have to do whatever I say. From now on, I forbid you ever to go out of this room unless you have all your clothes on. Is that clear?’ Nately’s whore looked at him as though he were insane. ‘Are you crazy? Che succede?’

    ‘I mean every word I say.’

    ‘Tu sei pazzo!’ she shouted at him with incredulous indignation, and sprang out of bed. Snarling unintelligibly, she snapped on panties and strode toward the door.

    Nately drew himself up with full manly authority. ‘I forbid you to leave this room that way,’ he informed her.

    ‘Tu sei pazzo!’ she shot back at him, after he had left, shaking her head in disbelief. ‘Idiota! Tu sei un pazzo imbecille!’

    ‘Tu sei pazzo,’ said her thin kid sister, starting out after her in the same haughty walk.

    ‘You come back here,’ Nately ordered her. ‘I forbid you to go out that way, too!’

    ‘Idiota!’ the kid sister called back at him with dignity after she had flounced past. ‘Tu sei un pazzo imbecille.’ Nately fumed in circles of distracted helplessness for several seconds and then sprinted out into the sitting room to forbid his friends to look at his girl friend while she complained about him in only her panties.

    ‘Why not?’ asked Dunbar.

    ‘Why not?’ exclaimed Nately. ‘Because she’s my girl now, and it isn’t right for you to see her unless she’s fully dressed.’

    ‘Why not?’ asked Dunbar.

    ‘You see?’ said his girl with a shrug. ‘Lui è pazzo!’

    ‘Si, è molto pazzo,’ echoed her kid sister.

    ‘Then make her keep her clothes on if you don’t want us to see her,’ argued Hungry Joe. ‘What the hell do you want from us?’

    ‘She won’t listen to me,’ Nately confessed sheepishly. ‘So from now on you’ll all have to shut your eyes or look in the other direction when she comes in that way. Okay?’

    ‘Madonn’!’ cried his girl in exasperation, and stamped out of the room.

    ‘Madonn’!’ cried her kid sister, and stamped out behind her.

    ‘Lui è pazzo,’ Yossarian observed good-naturedly. ‘I certainly have to admit it.’

    ‘Hey, you crazy or something?’ Hungry Joe demanded of Nately. ‘The next thing you know you’ll be trying to make her give up hustling.’

    ‘From now on,’ Nately said to his girl, ‘I forbid you to go out hustling.’

    ‘Perchè?’ she inquired curiously.

    ‘Perchè?’ he screamed with amazement. ‘Because it’s not nice, that’s why!’

    ‘Perchè no?’

    ‘Because it just isn’t!’ Nately insisted. ‘It just isn’t right for a nice girl like you to go looking for other men to sleep with. I’ll give you all the money you need, so you won’t have to do it any more.’

    ‘And what will I do all day instead?’

    ‘Do?’ said Nately. ‘You’ll do what all your friends do.’

    ‘My friends go looking for men to sleep with.’

    ‘Then get new friends! I don’t even want you to associate with girls like that, anyway. Prostitution is bad! Everybody knows that, even him.’ He turned with confidence to the experienced old man. ‘Am I right?’

    ‘You’re wrong,’ answered the old man. ‘Prostitution gives her an opportunity to meet people. It provides fresh air and wholesome exercise, and it keeps her out of trouble.’

    ‘From now on,’ Nately declared sternly to his girl friend, ‘I forbid you to have anything to do with that wicked old man.’

    ‘Va fongul!’ his girl replied, rolling her harassed eyes up toward the ceiling. ‘What does he want from me?’ she implored, shaking her fists. ‘Lasciami!’ she told him in menacing entreaty. ‘Stupido! If you think my friends are so bad, go tell your friends not to ficky-fick all the time with my friends!’

    ‘From now on,’ Nately told his friends, ‘I think you fellows ought to stop running around with her friends and settle down.’

    ‘Madonn’!’ cried his friends, rolling their harassed eyes up toward the ceiling.

    Nately had gone clear out of his mind. He wanted them all to fall in love right away and get married. Dunbar could marry Orr’s whore, and Yossarian could fall in love with Nurse Duckett or anyone else he liked. After the war they could all work for Nately’s father and bring up their children in the same suburb. Nately saw it all very clearly. Love had transmogrified him into a romantic idiot, and they drove him away back into the bedroom to wrangle with his girl over Captain Black. She agreed not to go to bed with Captain Black again or give him any more of Nately’s money, but she would not budge an inch on her friendship with the ugly, ill-kempt, dissipated, filthy-minded old man, who witnessed Nately’s flowering love affair with insulting derision and would not admit that Congress was the greatest deliberative body in the whole world.

    ‘From now on,’ Nately ordered his girl firmly, ‘I absolutely forbid you even to speak to that disgusting old man.’

    ‘Again the old man?’ cried the girl in wailing confusion. ‘Perchè no?’

    ‘He doesn’t like the House of Representatives.’

    ‘Mamma mia! What’s the matter with you?’

    ‘È pazzo,’ observed her kid sister philosophically. ‘That’s what’s the matter with him.’

    ‘Si,’ the older girl agreed readily, tearing at her long brown hair with both hands. ‘Lui è pazzo.’ But she missed Nately when he was away and was furious with Yossarian when he punched Nately in the face with all his might and knocked him into the hospital with a broken nose.
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