Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

62. Why Hazel Wasn’t Scared

There were seven of us who got off at San Lorenzo: Newt and Angela, Ambassador Minton and his wife, H. Lowe Crosby and his wife, and I. When we had cleared customs, we were herded outdoors and onto a reviewing stand.

There, we faced a very quiet crowd.

Five thousand or more San Lorenzans stared at us. The islanders were oatmeal colored. The people were thin. There wasn’t a fat person to be seen. Every person had teeth missing. Many legs were bowed or swollen.

Not one pair of eyes was clear.

The women’s breasts were bare and paltry. The men wore loose loincloths that did little to conceal penises like pendulums on grandfather clocks.

There were many dogs, but not one barked. There were many infants, but not one cried. Here and there someone coughed—and that was all.

A military band stood at attention before the crowd. It did not play.

There was a color guard before the band. It carried two banners, the Stars and Stripes and the flag of San Lorenzo. The flag of San Lorenzo consisted of a Marine Corporal’s chevrons on a royal blue field. The banners hung lank in the windless day.

I imagined that somewhere far away I heard the blamming of a sledge on a brazen drum. There was no such sound. My soul was simply resonating the beat of the brassy, clanging heat of the San Lorenzan climant.

“I’m sure glad it’s a Christian country,” Hazel Crosby whispered to her husband, “or I’d be a little scared.”

Behind us was a xylophone.

There was a glittering sign on the xylophone. The sign was made of garnets and rhinestones.

The sign said, MONA.

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