Cat’s Cradle — Kurt Vonnegut — Contents
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?”
“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.