I’m Cold

 to the people of kill

dead

“I’m cold,” Snowden moaned. “I’m cold.”

“You’re going to be all right, kid,” Yossarian assured him, patting his arm comfortingly. “Everything’s under control.”

Snowden shook his head feebly. “I’m cold,” he repeated, with eyes as dull and blind as stone. “I’m cold.”

“There, there,” said Yossarian. “There, there. In a little while we’ll be back on the ground and Doc Daneeka will take care of you.”

But Snowden kept shaking his head and pointed at last, with just the barest movement of his chin, down towards his armpit. Yossarian bent forward to peer and saw a strangely colored stain seeping through the coveralls just above the armhole of Snowden’s flak suit. Yossarian felt his heart stop, then pound so violently he found it difficult to breathe. Snowden was wounded inside his flak suit. Yossarian ripped open the snaps of Snowden’s flak suit and heard himself scream wildly as Snowden’s insides slithered down to the floor in a soggy pile and just kept dripping out. A chunk of flak more than three inches big had shot into his other side just underneath the arm and blasted all the way through, drawing whole mottled quarts of Snowden along with it through the gigantic hole in his ribs it made as it blasted out. Yossarian screamed a second time and squeezed both hands over his eyes. His teeth were chattering in horror. He forced himself to look again. Here was God’s plenty, all right, he thought bitterly as he stared—liver, lungs, kidneys, ribs, stomach and bits of the stewed tomatoes Snowden had eaten for lunch. Yossarian turned away dizzily and began to vomit, clutching his burning throat. He was limp with exhaustion, pain and despair when he finished. He turned back weakly to Snowden, whose breath had grown softer and more rapid, and whose face had grown paler. He wondered how in the world to begin to save him.

“I’m cold,” Snowden whimpered. “I’m cold.”

“There, there,” Yossarian mumbled mechanically in a voice to low to be heard. “There, there.”

Yossarian was cold, too, and shivering uncontrollably. He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden’s secret. Ripeness was all.

“I’m cold,” Snowden said. “I’m cold.”

“There, there,” said Yossarian. “There, there.”

He pulled the rip cord of Snowden’s parachute and covered his body with the white nylon sheets.

“I’m cold.”

“There, there.”

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When I Worked

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