Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

51. O.K., Mom

So I went aft to talk to Angela Hoenikker Conners and little Newton Hoenikker, members of my karass.

Angela was the horse-faced platinum blonde I had noticed earlier.

Newt was a very tiny young man indeed, though not grotesque. He was as nicely scaled as Gulliver among the Brobdingnagians, and as shrewdly watchful, too.

He held a glass of champagne, which was included in the price of his ticket. That glass was to him what a fishbowl would have been to a normal man, but he drank from it with elegant ease—as though he and the glass could not have been better matched.

The little son of a bitch had a crystal of ice-nine in a thermos bottle in his luggage, and so did his miserable sister, while under us was God’s own amount of water, the Caribbean Sea.

When Hazel had got all the pleasure she could from introducing Hoosiers to Hoosiers, she left us alone. “Remember,” she said as she left us, “from now on, call me Mom.”

“O.K., Mom,” I said.

“O.K., Mom,” said Newt. His voice was fairly high, in keeping with his little larynx. But he managed to make that voice distinctly masculine.

Angela persisted in treating Newt like an infant—and he forgave her for it with an amiable grace I would have thought impossible for one so small.

Newt and Angela remembered me, remembered the letters I’d written, and invited me to take the empty seat in their group of three.

Angela apologized to me for never having answered my letters.

“I couldn’t think of anything to say that would interest anybody reading a book. I could have made up something about that day, but I didn’t think you’d want that. Actually, the day was just like a regular day.”

“Your brother here wrote me a very good letter.”

Angela was surprised. “Newt did? How could Newt remember anything?” She turned to him. “Honey, you don’t remember anything about that day, do you? You were just a baby.”

“I remember,” he said mildly.

“I wish I’d seen the letter.” She implied that Newt was still too immature to deal directly with the outside world. Angela was a God-awfully insensitive woman, with no feeling for what smallness meant to Newt.

“Honey, you should have showed me that letter,” she scolded.

“Sorry,” said Newt. “I didn’t think.”

“I might as well tell you,” Angela said to me, “Dr. Breed told me I wasn’t supposed to co-operate with you. He said you weren’t interested in giving a fair picture of Father.” She showed me that she didn’t like me for that.

I placated her some by telling her that the book would probably never be done anyway, that I no longer had a clear idea of what it would or should mean.

“Well, if you ever do do the book, you better make Father a saint, because that’s what he was.”

I promised that I would do my best to paint that picture. I asked if she and Newt were bound for a family reunion with Frank in San Lorenzo.

“Frank’s getting married,” said Angela. “We’re going to the engagement party.”

“Oh? Who’s the lucky girl?”

“I’ll show you,” said Angela, and she took from her purse a billfold that contained a sort of plastic accordion. In each of the accordion’s pleats was a photograph. Angela flipped through the photographs, giving me glimpses of little Newt on a Cape Cod beach, of Dr. Felix Hoenikker accepting his Nobel Prize, of Angela’s own homely twin girls, of Frank flying a model plane on the end of a string.

And then she showed me a picture of the girl Frank was going to marry.

She might, with equal effect, have struck me in the groin.

The picture she showed me was of Mona Aamons Monzano, the woman I loved.

Turn page.