Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

63. Reverent and Free

To the left side of our reviewing stand were six propeller-driven fighter planes in a row, military assistance from the United States to San Lorenzo. On the fuselage of each plane was painted, with childish bloodlust, a boa constrictor which was crushing a devil to death. Blood came from the devil’s ears, nose, and mouth. A pitchfork was slipping from satanic red fingers.

Before each plane stood an oatmeal-colored pilot; silent, too.

Then, above that tumid silence, there came a nagging song like the song of a gnat. It was a siren approaching. The siren was on “Papa’s” glossy black Cadillac limousine.

The limousine came to a stop before us, tires smoking.

Out climbed “Papa” Monzano, his adopted daughter, Mona Aamons Monzano, and Franklin Hoenikker.

At a limp, imperious signal from “Papa,” the crowd sang the San Lorenzan National Anthem. Its melody was “Home on the Range.” The words had been written in 1922 by Lionel Boyd Johnson, by Bokonon. The words were these:

Oh, ours is a land
Where the living is grand,
And the men are as fearless as sharks;
The women are pure,
And we always are sure
That our children will all toe their marks.
San, San Lo-ren-zo!
What a rich, lucky island are we!
Our enemies quail,
For they know they will fail
Against people so reverent and free.

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