Catch-22


CHAPTER 6 - HUNGRY JOE


(AnyBooksFree) CHAPTER 6 - HUNGRY JOE
Hungry Joe did have fifty missions, but they were no help. He had his bags packed
and was waiting again to go home. At night he had eerie, ear-splitting nightmares that
kept everyone in the squadron awake but Huple, the fifteen-year-old pilot who had
lied about his age to get into the Army and lived with his pet cat in the same tent
with Hungry Joe. Huple was a light sleeper, but claimed he never heard Hungry Joe
scream. Hungry Joe was sick.
'So what?' Doc Daneeka snarled resentfully. 'I had it made, I tell you. Fifty grand a
year I was knocking down, and almost all of it tax-free, since I made my customers
pay me in cash. I had the strongest trade association in the world backing me up. And
look what happened. Just when I was all set to really start stashing it away, they had
to manufacture fascism and start a war horrible enough to affect even me. I gotta
laugh when I hear someone like Hungry Joe screaming his brains out every night.
I really gotta laugh. *He's* sick? How does he think I feel?'
Hungry Joe was too firmly embedded in calamities of his own to care how Doc
Daneeka felt. There were the noises, for instance. Small ones enraged him and he
hollered himself hoarse at Aarfy for the wet, sucking sounds he made puffing on his
pipe, at Orr for tinkering, at McWatt for the explosive snap he gave each card he
turned over when he dealt at blackjack or poker, at Dobbs for letting his teeth
chatter as he went blundering clumsily about bumping into things. Hungry Joe was a
throbbing, ragged mass of motile irritability. The steady ticking of a watch in a quiet
room crashed like torture against his unshielded brain.
'Listen, kid,' he explained harshly to Huple very late one evening, 'if you want to live
in this tent, you've got to do like I do. You've got to roll your wrist watch up in a pair
of wool socks every night and keep it on the bottom of your foot locker on the other
side of the room.'
Huple thrust his jaw out defiantly to let Hungry Joe know he couldn't be pushed
around and then did exactly as he had been told.
Hungry Joe was a jumpy, emaciated wretch with a fleshless face of dingy skin and
bone and twitching veins squirming subcutaneously in the blackened hollows behind
his eyes like severed sections of snake. It was a desolate, cratered face, sooty with
care like an abandoned mining town. Hungry Joe ate voraciously, gnawed incessantly
at the tips of his fingers, stammered, choked, itched, sweated, salivated, and sprang
from spot to spot fanatically with an intricate black camera with which he was always
trying to take pictures of naked girls. They never came out. He was always forgetting
to put film in the camera or turn on lights or remove the cover from the lens opening.
53

It wasn't easy persuading naked girls to pose, but Hungry Joe had the knack.
'Me big man,' he would shout. 'Me big photographer from *Life* magazine. Big
picture on heap big cover. *Si, si, si!* Hollywood star. Multi *dinero*. Multi divorces.
Multi ficky-fick all day long.'
Few women anywhere could resist such wily cajolery, and prostitutes would spring to
their feet eagerly and hurl themselves into whatever fantastic poses he requested
for them. Women killed Hungry Joe. His response to them as sexual beings was one
of frenzied worship and idolatry. They were lovely, satisfying, maddening
manifestations of the miraculous, instruments of pleasure too powerful to be
measured, too keen to be endured, and too exquisite to be intended for employment
by base, unworthy man. He could interpret their naked presence in his hands only as a
cosmic oversight destined to be rectified speedily, and he was driven always to make
what carnal use of them he could in the fleeting moment or two he felt he had before
Someone caught wise and whisked them away. He could never decide whether to
furgle them or photograph them, for he had found it impossible to do both
simultaneously. In fact, he was finding it almost impossible to do either, so scrambled
were his powers of performance by the compulsive need for haste that invariably
possessed him. The pictures never came out, and Hungry Joe never got in. The odd
thing was that in civilian life Hungry Joe really had been a photographer
for *Life* magazine.
He was a hero now, the biggest hero the Air Force had, Yossarian felt, for he had
flown more combat tours of duty than any other hero the Air Force had. He had
flown six combat tours of duty. Hungry Joe had finished flying his first combat tour
of duty when twenty-five missions were all that were necessary for him to pack his
bags, write happy letters home and begin hounding Sergeant Towser humorously for
the arrival of the orders rotating him back to the States. While he waited, he spent
each day shuffling rhythmically around the entrance of the operations tent, making
boisterous wisecracks to everybody who came by and jocosely calling Sergeant
Towser a lousy son of a bitch every time Sergeant Towser popped out
of the orderly room.
Hungry Joe had finished flying his first twenty-five missions during the week of the
Salerno beachhead, when Yossarian was laid up in the hospital with a burst of clap he
had caught on a low-level mission over a Wac in bushes on a supply flight to
Marrakech. Yossarian did his best to catch up with Hungry Joe and almost did, flying
six missions in six days, but his twenty-third mission was to Arezzo, where Colonel
Nevers was killed, and that was as close as he had ever been able to come to going
home.
54

The next day Colonel Cathcart was there, brimming with tough pride in his new outfit
and celebrating his assumption of command by raising the number of missions
required from twenty-five to thirty. Hungry Joe unpacked his bags and rewrote the
happy letters home.
He stopped hounding Sergeant Towser humorously. He began hating Sergeant
Towser, focusing all blame upon him venomously, even though he knew Sergeant
Towser had nothing to do with the arrival of Colonel Cathcart or the delay in the
processing of shipping orders that might have rescued him seven days earlier and
five times since.
Hungry Joe could no longer stand the strain of waiting for shipping orders and
crumbled promptly into ruin every time he finished another tour of duty. Each time
he was taken off combat status, he gave a big party for the little circle of friends he
had. He broke out the bottles of bourbon he had managed to buy on his four-day
weekly circuits with the courier plane and laughed, sang, shuffled and shouted in a
festival of inebriated ecstasy until he could no longer keep awake and receded
peacefully into slumber. As soon as Yossarian, Nately and Dunbar put him to bed he
began screaming in his sleep. In the morning he stepped from his tent looking
haggard, fearful and guilt-ridden, an eaten shell of a human building rocking
perilously on the brink of collapse.
The nightmares appeared to Hungry Joe with celestial punctuality every single night
he spent in the squadron throughout the whole harrowing ordeal when he was not
flying combat missions and was waiting once again for the orders sending him home
that never came. Impressionable men in the squadron like Dobbs and Captain Flume
were so deeply disturbed by Hungry Joe's shrieking nightmares that they would
begin to have shrieking nightmares of their own, and the piercing obscenities they
flung into the air every night from their separate places in the squadron rang against
each other in the darkness romantically like the mating calls of songbirds with filthy
minds. Colonel Korn acted decisively to arrest what seemed to him to be the
beginning of an unwholesome trend in Major Major's squadron. The solution he
provided was to have Hungry Joe fly the courier ship once a week, removing him from
the squadron for four nights, and the remedy, like all Colonel Korn's remedies, was
successful.
Every time Colonel Cathcart increased the number of missions and returned Hungry
Joe to combat duty, the nightmares stopped and Hungry Joe settled down into a
normal state of terror with a smile of relief. Yossarian read Hungry Joe's shrunken
face like a headline. It was good when Hungry Joe looked bad and terrible when
Hungry Joe looked good. Hungry Joe's inverted set of responses was a curious
phenomenon to everyone but Hungry Joe, who denied the whole thing stubbornly.
55

'Who dreams?' he answered, when Yossarian asked him what he dreamed about.
'Joe, why don't you go see Doc Daneeka?' Yossarian advised.
'Why should I go see Doc Daneeka? I'm not sick.'
'What about your nightmares?'
'I don't have nightmares,' Hungry Joe lied.
'Maybe he can do something about them.'
'There's nothing wrong with nightmares,' Hungry Joe answered.
'Everybody has nightmares.'
Yossarian thought he had him. 'Every night?' he asked.
'Why not every night?' Hungry Joe demanded.
And suddenly it all made sense. Why *not* every night, indeed? It made sense to cry
out in pain every night. It made more sense than Appleby, who was a stickler for
regulations and had ordered Kraft to order Yossarian to take his Atabrine tablets on
the flight overseas after Yossarian and Appleby had stopped talking to each other.
Hungry Joe made more sense than Kraft, too, who was dead, dumped unceremoniously
into doom over Ferrara by an exploding engine after Yossarian took his flight of six
planes in over the target a second time. The group had missed the bridge at Ferrara
again for the seventh straight day with the bombsight that could put bombs into a
pickle barrel at forty thousand feet, and one whole week had already passed since
Colonel Cathcart had volunteered to have his men destroy the bridge in twenty-four
hours. Kraft was a skinny, harmless kid from Pennsylvania who wanted only to be
liked, and was destined to be disappointed in even so humble and degrading an
ambition. Instead of being liked, he was dead, a bleeding cinder on the barbarous pile
whom nobody had heard in those last precious moments while the plane with one wing
plummeted . He had lived innocuously for a little while and then had gone down in
flame over Ferrara on the seventh day, while God was resting, when McWatt turned
and Yossarian guided him in over the target on a second bomb run because Aarfy was
confused and Yossarian had been unable to drop his bombs the first time.
'I guess we do have to go back again, don't we?' McWatt had said somberly
over the intercom.
'I guess we do,' said Yossarian.
56

'Do we?' said McWatt.
'Yeah.'
'Oh, well,' sang McWatt, 'what the hell.'
And back they had gone while the planes in the other flights circled safely off in the
distance and every crashing cannon in the Hermann Goering Division below was busy
crashing shells this time only at them.
Colonel Cathcart had courage and never hesitated to volunteer his men for any target
available. No target was too dangerous for his group to attack, just as no shot was
too difficult for Appleby to handle on the ping-pong table. Appleby was a good pilot
and a superhuman ping-pong player with flies in his eyes who never lost a point.
Twenty-one serves were all it ever took for Appleby to disgrace another opponent.
His prowess on the ping-pong table was legendary, and Appleby won every game he
started until the night Orr got tipsy on gin and juice and smashed open Appleby's
forehead with his paddle after Appleby had smashed back each of Orr's first five
serves. Orr leaped on top of the table after hurling his paddle and came sailing off
the other end in a running broad jump with both feet planted squarely in Appleby's
face. Pandemonium broke loose. It took almost a full minute for Appleby to
disentangle himself from Orr's flailing arms and legs and grope his way to his feet,
with Orr held off the ground before him by the shirt front in one hand and his other
arm drawn back in a fist to smite him dead, and at that moment Yossarian stepped
forward and took Orr away from him. It was a night of surprises for Appleby, who
was as large as Yossarian and as strong and who swung at Yossarian as hard as he
could with a punch that flooded Chief White Halfoat with such joyous excitement
that he turned and busted Colonel Moodus in the nose with a punch that filled
General Dreedle with such mellow gratification that he had Colonel Cathcart throw
the chaplain out of the officers' club and ordered Chief White Halfoat moved into
Doc Daneeka's tent, where he could be under a doctor's care twenty-four hours a
day and be kept in good enough physical condition to bust Colonel Moodus in the nose
again whenever General Dreedle wanted him to. Sometimes General Dreedle made
special trips down from Wing Headquarters with Colonel Moodus and his nurse just to
have Chief White Halfoat bust his son-in-law in the nose.
Chief White Halfoat would much rather have remained in the trailer he shared with
Captain Flume, the silent, haunted squadron public-relations officer who spent most
of each evening developing the pictures he took during the day to be sent out with
his publicity releases.
57

Captain Flume spent as much of each evening as he could working in his darkroom and
then lay down on his cot with his fingers crossed and a rabbit's foot around his neck
and tried with all his might to stay awake. He lived in mortal fear of Chief White
Halfoat. Captain Flume was obsessed with the idea that Chief White Halfoat would
tiptoe up to his cot one night when he was sound asleep and slit his throat open for
him from ear to ear. Captain Flume had obtained this idea from Chief White Halfoat
himself, who did tiptoe up to his cot one night as he was dozing off, to hiss
portentously that one night when he, Captain Flume, was sound asleep he, Chief
White Halfoat, was going to slit his throat open for him
from ear to ear.
Captain Flume turned to ice, his eyes, flung open wide, staring directly up into
Chief White Halfoat's, glinting drunkenly only inches away.
'Why?' Captain Flume managed to croak finally.
'Why not?' was Chief White Halfoat's answer.
Each night after that, Captain Flume forced himself to keep awake as long as
possible. He was aided immeasurably by Hungry Joe's nightmares. Listening so
intently to Hungry Joe's maniacal howling night after night, Captain Flume grew to
hate him and began wishing that Chief White Halfoat would tiptoe up to his cot one
night and slit his throat open for him from ear to ear. Actually, Captain Flume slept
like a log most nights and merely *dreamed* he was awake. So convincing were these
dreams of lying awake that he woke from them each morning in complete exhaustion
and fell right back to sleep.
Chief White Halfoat had grown almost fond of Captain Flume since his amazing
metamorphosis. Captain Flume had entered his bed that night a buoyant extrovert
and left it the next morning a brooding introvert, and Chief White Halfoat proudly
regarded the new Captain Flume as his own creation. He had never intended to slit
Captain Flume's throat open for him from ear to ear. Threatening to do so was
merely his idea of a joke, like dying of pneumonia, busting Colonel Moodus in the nose
or challenging Doc Daneeka to Indian wrestle. All Chief White Halfoat wanted to do
when he staggered in drunk each night was go right to sleep, and Hungry Joe often
made that impossible. Hungry Joe's nightmares gave Chief White Halfoat the
heebie-jeebies, and he often wished that someone would tiptoe into Hungry Joe's
tent, lift Huple's cat off his face and slit his throat open for him from ear to ear, so
that everybody in the squadron but Captain Flume could get a good night's sleep.
58

Even though Chief White Halfoat kept busting Colonel Moodus in the nose for
General Dreedle's benefit, he was still outside the pale. Also outside the pale was
Major Major, the squadron commander, who had found *that* out the same time he
found out that he was squadron commander from Colonel Cathcart, who came blasting
into the squadron in his hopped-up jeep the day after Major Duluth was killed over
Perugia. Colonel Cathcart slammed to a screeching stop inches short of the railroad
ditch separating the nose of his jeep from the lopsided basketball court on the other
side, from which Major Major was eventually driven by the kicks and shoves and
stones and punches of the men who had almost become his friends.
'You're the new squadron commander,' Colonel Cathcart had bellowed across the
ditch at him. 'But don't think it means anything, because it doesn't. All it means is
that you're the new squadron commander.'
And Colonel Cathcart had roared away as abruptly as he'd come, whipping the jeep
around with a vicious spinning of wheels that sent a spray of fine grit blowing into
Major Major's face. Major Major was immobilized by the news. He stood speechless,
lanky and gawking, with a scuffed basketball in his long hands as the seeds of rancor
sown so swiftly by Colonel Cathcart took root in the soldiers around him who had
been playing basketball with him and who had let him come as close to making friends
with them as anyone had ever let him come before. The whites of his moony eyes
grew large and misty as his mouth struggled yearningly and lost against the familiar,
impregnable loneliness drifting in around him again like suffocating fog.
Like all the other officers at Group Headquarters except Major Danby, Colonel
Cathcart was infused with the democratic spirit: he believed that all men were
created equal, and he therefore spurned all men outside Group Headquarters with
equal fervor. Nevertheless, he believed in his men. As he told them frequently in the
briefing room, he believed they were at least ten missions better than any other
outfit and felt that any who did not share this confidence he had placed in them
could get the hell out. The only way they could get the hell out, though, as Yossarian
learned when he flew to visit ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen, was by flying the extra ten
missions.
'I still don't get it,' Yossarian protested. 'Is Doc Daneeka right or isn't he?'
'How many did he say?'
'Forty.'
'Daneeka was telling the truth,' ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen admitted. 'Forty missions is
all you have to fly as far as Twenty-seventh Air Force Headquarters is concerned.'
Yossarian was jubilant. 'Then I can go home, right? I've got forty-eight.'
59

'No, you can't go home,' ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen corrected him. 'Are you crazy or
something?'
'Why not?'
'Catch-22.'
'Catch-22?' Yossarian was stunned. 'What the hell has Catch-22 got to do with it?'
'Catch-22,' Doc Daneeka answered patiently, when Hungry Joe had flown Yossarian
back to Pianosa, 'says you've always got to do what your commanding officer
tells you to.'
'But Twenty-seventh Air Force says I can go home with forty missions.'
'But they don't say you have to go home. And regulations do say you have to obey
every order. That's the catch. Even if the colonel were disobeying a Twenty-seventh
Air Force order by making you fly more missions, you'd still have to fly them, or
you'd be guilty of disobeying an order of his. And then Twenty-seventh Air Force
Headquarters would really jump on you.'
Yossarian slumped with disappointment. 'Then I really have to fly the fifty missions,
don't I?' he grieved.
'The fifty-five,' Doc Daneeka corrected him.
'What fifty-five?'
'The fifty-five missions the colonel now wants all of you to fly.'
Hungry Joe heaved a huge sigh of relief when he heard Doc Daneeka and broke into a
grin. Yossarian grabbed Hungry Joe by the neck and made him fly them both right
back to ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen.
'What would they do to me,' he asked in confidential tones,
'if I refused to fly them?'
'We'd probably shoot you,' ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen replied.
'*We?*' Yossarian cried in surprise. 'What do you mean, *we*?
Since when are you on their side?'
60

'If you're going to be shot, whose side do you expect me to be on?' ex-P.F.C.
Wintergreen retorted.
Yossarian winced. Colonel Cathcart had raised him again.
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