Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

31. Another Breed

As we were leaving the cemetery the driver of the cab worried about the condition of his own mother’s grave. He asked if I would mind taking a short detour to look at it.

It was a pathetic little stone that marked his mother— not that it mattered.

And the driver asked me if I would mind another brief detour, this time to a tombstone salesroom across the street from the cemetery.

I wasn’t a Bokononist then, so I agreed with some peevishness. As a Bokononist, of course, I would have agreed gaily to go anywhere anyone suggested. As Bokonon says: “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”

The name of the tombstone establishment was Avram Breed and Sons. As the driver talked to the salesman I wandered among the monuments—blank monuments, monuments in memory of nothing so far.

I found a little institutional joke in the showroom: over a stone angel hung mistletoe. Cedar boughs were heaped on her pedestal, and around her marble throat was a necklace of Christmas tree lamps.

“How much for her?” I asked the salesman.

“Not for sale. She’s a hundred years old. My greatgrandfather, Avram Breed, carved her.”

“This business is that old?”

“That’s right.”

“And you’re a Breed?”

“The fourth generation in this location.”

“Any relation to Dr. Asa Breed, the director of the Research Laboratory?”

“His brother.” He said his name was Marvin Breed.

“It’s a small world,” I observed.

“When you put it in a cemetery, it is.” Marvin Breed was a sleek and vulgar, a smart and sentimental man.

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