Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

37. A Modern Major General

And then, one day, one Sunday, I found out where the fugitive from justice, the model-maker, the Great God Jehovah and Beelzebub of bugs in Mason jars was—where Franklin Hoenikker could be found.

He was alive!

The news was in a special supplement to the New York Sunday Times. The supplement was a paid ad for a banana republic. On its cover was the profile of the most heartbreakingly beautiful girl I ever hope to see.

Beyond the girl, bulldozers were knocking down palm trees, making a broad avenue. At the end of the avenue were the steel skeletons of three new buildings.

“The Republic of San Lorenzo,” said the copy on the cover, “on the move! A healthy, happy, progressive, freedom-loving, beautiful nation makes itself extremely attractive to American investors and tourists alike.”

I was in no hurry to read the contents. The girl on the cover was enough for me—more than enough, since I had fallen in love with her on sight. She was very young and very grave, too—and luminously compassionate and wise.

She was as brown as chocolate. Her hair was like golden flax.

Her name was Mona Aamons Monzano, the cover said. She was the adopted daughter of the dictator of the island.

I opened the supplement, hoping for more pictures of this sublime mongrel Madonna.

I found instead a portrait of the island’s dictator, Miguel “Papa” Monzano, a gorilla in his late seventies.

Next to “Papa’s” portrait was a picture of a narrow-shouldered, fox-faced, immature young man. He wore a snow white military blouse with some sort of jeweled sunburst hanging on it. His eyes were close together; they had circles under them. He had apparently told barbers all his life to shave the sides and back of his head, but to leave the top of his hair alone. He had a wiry pompadour, a sort of cube of hair, marcelled, that arose to an incredible height.

This unattractive child was identified as Major General Franklin Hoenikker, Minister of Science and Progress in the Republic of San Lorenzo.

He was twenty-six years old.

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