Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

38. Barracuda Capital of the World

San Lorenzo was fifty miles long and twenty miles wide, I learned from the supplement to the New York Sunday Times. Its population was four hundred, fifty thousand souls, “. . . all fiercely dedicated to the ideals of the Free World.”

Its highest point, Mount McCabe, was eleven thousand feet above sea level. Its capital was Bolivar, “. . . a strikingly modern city built on a harbor capable of sheltering the entire United States Navy.” The principal exports were sugar, coffee, bananas, indigo, and handcrafted novelties.

“And sports fishermen recognize San Lorenzo as the unchallenged barracuda capital of the world.”

I wondered how Franklin Hoenikker, who had never even finished high school, had got himself such a fancy job. I found a partial answer in an essay on San Lorenzo that was signed by “Papa” Monzano.

“Papa” said that Frank was the architect of the “San Lorenzo Master Plan,” which included new roads, rural electrification, sewage-disposal plants, hotels, hospitals, clinics, railroads—the works. And, though the essay was brief and tightly edited, “papa” referred to Frank five times as: “. . . the blood son of Dr. Felix Hoenikker.”

The phrase reeked of cannibalism.

“Papa” plainly felt that Frank was a chunk of the old man’s magic meat.

Turn page.