Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

121. I Am Slow to Answer

“What a cynic!” I gasped. I looked up from the note and gazed around the death-filled bowl. “Is he here somewhere?”

“I do not see him,” said Mona mildly. She wasn’t depressed or angry. In fact, she seemed to verge on laughter. “He always said he would never take his own advice, because he knew it was worthless.”

“He’d better be here!” I said bitterly. “Think of the gall of the man, advising all these people to kill themselves!”

Now Mona did laugh. I had never heard her laugh. Her laugh was startlingly deep and raw.

“This strikes you as funny?

She raised her arms lazily. “It’s all so simple, that’s all. It solves so much for so many, so simply.”

And she went strolling up among the petrified thousands, still laughing. She paused about midway up the slope and faced me. She called down to me, “Would you wish any of these alive again, if you could? Answer me quickly.

“Not quick enough with your answer,” she called playfully, after half a minute had passed. And, still laughing a little, she touched her finger to the ground, straightened up, and touched the finger to her lips and died.

Did I weep? They say I did. H. Lowe Crosby and his Hazel and little Newton Hoenikker came upon me as I stumbled down the road. They were in Bolivar’s one taxicab, which had been spared by the storm. They tell me I was crying. Hazel cried, too, cried for joy that I was alive.

They coaxed me into the cab.

Hazel put her arm around me. “You’re with your mom, now. Don’t you worry about a thing.”

I let my mind go blank. I closed my eyes. It was with deep, idiotic relief that I leaned on that fleshy, humid, barn-yard fool.

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