"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.


Postby admin » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:18 am

by Richard Condon
© 1959 by Richard Condon
Copyright renewed © 1987 by Richard Condon
Introduction © 1988 by David Willis McCullough




To MAX YOUNGSTEIN, and not only for reasons of affection and admiration, this book is warmly dedicated

Table of Contents:

• Inside Cover
• Introduction
• Chapter 1
• Chapter 2
• Chapter 3
• Chapter 4
• Chapter 5
• Chapter 6
• Chapter 7
• Chapter 8
• Chapter 9
• Chapter 10
• Chapter 11
• Chapter 12
• Chapter 13
• Chapter 14
• Chapter 15
• Chapter 16
• Chapter 17
• Chapter 18
• Chapter 19
• Chapter 20
• Chapter 21
• Chapter 22
• Chapter 23
• Chapter 24
• Chapter 25
• Chapter 26
• Chapter 27
• Chapter 28
• Chapter 29
• Chapter 30
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Postby admin » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:19 am

Inside Cover:

A human time-bomb is turned loose on an unsuspecting nation in this brilliant and startling novel, at once a spy story, a love story, a fascinating tale of adventure, and a savage satire.

Sergeant Raymond Shaw, brainwashed secretly and then freed with the rest of his patrol after being captured in Korea, comes home an unwitting hero and Congressional Medal of Honor winner to be idolized by America. Only the Communists who indoctrinated him know when and how he will explode, and they alone control his actions as the fateful hour approaches.

His mother, a power-hungry jezebel behind the Washington political scene, and his stepfather, Senator Iselin, an unscrupulous demagogue, are quick to exploit Shaw's sudden fame for their own purposes. Implacably, however, the mechanism buried in his consciousness ticks away.

Murder and violence, terror in its most deceptive forms, greed without disguise, and a weird recurrent nightmare move the characters at a breathtaking pace through the capitals of the world as the novel races toward its spectacular and logical climax. Richard Condon displays a wild vitality, a wonderful imagination, and an unerring sense of the ridiculous in this classic novel of suspense.

© Playboy Magazine

Richard Condon is the author of many other novels, among them Winter Kills, Prizzi's Honor, and Prizzi's Family, published in 1986. He also wrote the screenplay for the film version of Prizzi's Honor. Condon formerly worked in public relations. His novels have been translated into 21 different languages.

Jacket design by Manda Hegardt

Back Cover:

"Shocking, Tense ... a High-Grade Adventure-Suspense." -- San Francisco Chronicle

"Original ... A Breathlessly Up-to-Date Thriller." -- New York Times

"An Exciting, Brilliantly Told Story ... Crammed With Suspense." -- Chicago Tribune

"Savage ... Frightening ... Extraordinary." -- Kirkus Reviews

"Apocalyptic ... Condon is Wickedly Skillful." -- Time
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Postby admin » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:19 am

by David Willis McCullough

Every now and then a novel comes along whose title is appropriated first by editorial writers and then by the general public. The names Uncle Tom, The Ugly American, 1984, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit all have meanings and echoes far greater than -- and sometimes far different from -- what they had when they first appeared on a title page.

When this happens in business, teams of lawyers get involved. Companies who own patents and copyrights on Xerox, Kodak, Jell-O, Scotch Tape and Frigidaire spend fortunes to keep their names from going, as they say, generic. In the literary world, however, recognition like that is taken as a sign of success beyond a publisher's wildest dreams. In 1959 it began happening to the second novel by a 44-year-old Hollywood press agent named Richard Condon. The title of the book was The Manchurian Candidate.

As years go, 1959 had the usual number of high and low points. Vice President Richard Nixon visited the Soviet Union and was photographed "debating" Nikita Khrushchev in the kitchen at an American trade show. Later in the year Khrushchev was photographed slogging through an Iowa cornfield. Ben-Hur was packing them in at the movies. Advise and Consent, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Goodbye, Columbus and John Updike's first novel were published. Raymond Chandler, Billie Holiday and Frank Lloyd Wright died. The previously all-white Little Rock High School was integrated under federal orders. Hawaii and Alaska became states. Yet another Miss Mississippi was crowned Miss America in Atlantic City. The Dodgers, newly relocated in Los Angeles, won the World Series, and in Houston the last Civil War veteran, Walter Williams, died at age 117.

After seven years, now often mistily referred to as those peaceful Eisenhower years, Ike's term in office was coming to an end, but two unhappy recent memories remained shadows on the American conscience: the Korean "conflict" and the disturbing allegations of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Looking back on Korea, now that we have lived through Vietnam, it is difficult to remember what a shock that war was to the American public. As the fighting ground to a stalemate along the 38th parallel, there was little celebration. The United States may not have actually lost, but the outcome of the conflict was certainly not what veterans of two world wars would have called victory. And what about those dozens of American prisoners of war who preferred to remain with their captors after a ceasefire was signed? What rational, un-brainwashed American would reject his country for a Communist backwater in Asia? As for McCarthy, in spite of the senator's personal collapse after the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, his fevered charges that America was riddled with Communist spies and traitors had left a raw wound.

This was the America into which The Manchurian Candidate was published. And in the months ahead, while people were reading it first in hardcover and then in paperback, came the U-2 incident with its never-explained ambiguities, more Nixon debates (this time with Senator John Kennedy of Massachusetts), an election, the Bay of Pigs, the Berlin Wall and -- not long after the novel appeared as a brilliant motion picture -- an assassination.

It was the movie, directed by John Frankenheimer, coupled with John Kennedy's assassination that firmly established The Manchurian Candidate's reputation as something more than an above-average thriller. The novel, although it had won a good deal of critical praise, had not been a major best seller. The movie, its producer-screenwriter George Axelrod once said, "went from failure to classic without ever passing through success." Yet somehow a connection was made, and the public imagination seized upon the disturbing, threatening notion of a Manchurian Candidate lying in wait.

Editorial writers, columnists and political cartoonists had no trouble recognizing that the Manchurian Candidate was the hidden enemy, the apparently all-American time bomb planted by a foreign power to destroy his neighbors. He was the programmed assassin waiting to get us all. As a product of Cold War paranoia, he was clearly a first cousin of the pod-people in Don Siegel's 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, evil aliens who were able to take over the bodies of typical small-town Americans so that the conscienceless enemy looks as downhome and wholesome as you or I. Probably more so. What these pundits who so blithely tossed around the name Manchurian Candidate sometimes missed -- possibly because they had not actually read the book -- was not only the true identity of the Candidate but also that the novel is a dark comedy, an often wicked satire on subjects that range from senatorial privilege to the trials of modem motherhood. For a novel famous for its chills, it has more than its share of laughs.

So let's touch on the plot without giving too much away. This is a novel that should be enjoyed without needless warnings and underlinings.

Raymond Shaw -- Medal of Honor winner, stepson of a U.S. senator -- returns from the Korean War a hero much beloved by the men who served under him. This is a clue that something is wrong. To a man they remember him as "the greatest, warmest, most wonderful" guy they had ever known. But anyone who ever met Raymond knows he is a cold, emotionless bastard. He also had a love affair. Another clue. Before returning from the war at age 23, he had never even kissed a girl. He has also murdered two of his men. Only the readers know that. He was in a secret prison camp in Manchuria at the time, brainwashed, when his trainers ordered him to kill. His men, also brainwashed prisoners, witnessed the killings, but they had been told to believe they were attending a particularly boring meeting of a New Jersey women's garden club. Only in their dreams do a few of the men, years later, begin to remember murder.

Raymond's mother -- that's what she is always called -- is one of literature's unforgettable monster mothers. Try to imagine Hamlet's Gertrude as played by Lady Macbeth and you begin to have some idea of her demonic possibilities. Readers of the novel will soon realize that Angela Lansbury's flamboyant interpretation of the role in the movie was not in the least outrageous. If anything, she rather underplayed the novel's opportunities for the grotesque. Senator Johnnie, Raymond's boozing stepfather, is clearly based on Joseph McCarthy. Perhaps trying to duck feminist criticism, Richard Condon has said that Raymond's mother is actually based on Roy Cohn, Joseph McCarthy's staff assistant.

The one thing that everyone knows about The Manchurian Candidate is that it ends with an assassin, primed to kill, lurking in the girders of New York's Madison Square Garden, high above a national political convention as the party's presidential nominee and his running mate are about to be introduced.

Critical reaction to the novel in 1959 was enthusiastic and studded with glittering phrases that have been appearing on paperback book jackets for nearly three decades: "brilliant ... wild and exhilarating ... shocking, tense ... breathlessly up-to-date ... savage ... extraordinary ... apocalyptic." But there was some confusion as to just how up-to-date the novel actually was. The critic at The New Yorker seemed to find it a bit old-fashioned. Comparing Richard Condon to the nineteenth-century novelist Wilkie Collins, he described the book as a "hopelessly unfashionable demonstration ... of how to write stylishly, tell fascinating stories ... make acute social observations and ram home digestible morals." Others found the book to be breaking new ground. A New York Times critic, writing later, claimed that with The Manchurian Candidate Condon became one of the founders of "the most original novelistic style" of the 1960s. The critic, Leo Braudy, called the style "paranoid surrealism" and named Thomas Pynchon and Joseph Heller as two of its many disciples.

Richard Condon doesn't much like the word "paranoid," although it turns up frequently in discussions of The Manchurian Candidate. "Paranoia has nothing to do with it," he said in a recent interview. "As a writer, I just clean house and point out stains on the carpet. There are three definitions of paranoia: delusions of grandeur, delusions of persecution, and retrospective falsification. Brainwashing existed in 1959; the very word had people terrified. It was like science fiction. McCarthy existed. Antagonism with Russia existed. At the time I was writing The Manchurian Candidate, all that was business as usual. What I did was to point things out with melodramatic humor."

Recognition of that humor is what Condon finds to be the biggest change in reader reaction since the book was first published. "People then were still so poleaxed by McCarthy that they couldn't see what was funny. Now, they have been around more. They know comedy when they see it. They have been battered and bruised and kicked around the ring and bitten, and they can understand and enjoy political complexity. They know that politics can be a lethal matter. It's more than holding your hand over your heart when the flag goes by."

Condon credits the movie with making his title part of folklore. He thinks it is one of the two best pictures he has ever seen (the other, not so surprisingly, is Dr. Strangelove), but it was almost never distributed. According to Hollywood legend, a studio executive, a man active in the higher reaches of the Democratic Party, thought the picture was somehow an attack on Kennedy and the Democrats. Frank Sinatra, who played Raymond's nemesis in the film, seems to have got him to change his mind. "As I heard it," Condon says, "and you better not ask Francis Albert Sinatra about it, he went to his then-buddy Jack Kennedy and said United Artists was sitting on the movie. Kennedy said he had thoroughly enjoyed the book and Sinatra got him to write a letter saying so." That, at least, is the legend.

The film was released, and to Condon a mark of its success was that during the same week in 1962 it was picketed in Paris by the Communists and in Orange County, California, by the American Legion.

With Kennedy's assassination, The Manchurian Candidate's ties with the President became complete. Condon was living in Switzerland at the time. "My wife had the radio on and we heard something about Kennedy, Dallas and krankenhaus, but we didn't catch what was going on. Then our neighbor Hank Ketcham, the creator of Dennis the Menace, called up with the story. Within ten minutes a London newspaper was on the phone. They wanted to know if I felt responsible for Kennedy's death. A week later a Paris newspaper was running long quotes from the novel and comparing them with things people were saying about Lee Harvey Oswald. But they only had to read the book to see that the situations were nowhere near alike."

In fact, a case can be made that The Manchurian Candidate is not about that kind of assassination at all, the kind with smoking guns. It is about character assassination, about public relations, about salesmanship, about the creation of pseudo-events. It deals with a world in which the press coverage of an event is more important than the event itself, in which the marines might be preferred to the army because they have a better publicity operation. It is a world where what a brainwashed army squad thinks happened during a night patrol in Korea is more important than what really happened in that Manchurian prison camp. That is, it is more important until truth eats its way to the surface.

To create this near-fantasy world, Condon did his homework. There is a wealth of factual detail on matters that range from the psychology of brainwashing to the history of the Medal of Honor to the architecture of Madison Square Garden, the old Garden that stood on Eighth Avenue, not the new one huddled over what used to be Pennsylvania Station. Only rarely does the book give its age away, as it does in the paragraph that carefully explains what the KGB is. To keep us informed, Condon quotes sources as diverse as Lucky Luciano ("A U.S. senator can make more trouble, day in and day out, than anyone else") and an obscure French journalist named, improbably, Ostrogorski, who, in 1902, covered an American political convention and came to understand the old saying that "God takes care of drunkards, little children, and the United States."

Richard Condon began writing novels relatively late. His first, The Oldest Confession, was published when he was 43. Before that, he worked for nearly twenty years as a Hollywood press agent, "manufacturing fame," as he puts it, "for people who would otherwise be gas station attendants." Since then he has written more than twenty-two books, including Prizzi's Honor, An Infinity of Mirrors and Winter Kills. Yet, it is his Hollywood experiences rather than any political or social philosophy that really left their mark on The Manchurian Candidate. Talking about those days, he says, "It's like having been one of those birds that sit on the backs of crocodiles. It leaves you cynical. You never again get starry-eyed about the human condition."
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Postby admin » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:21 am


The order of Assassins was founded in Persia at the end of the 11th Century. They were committed to anyone willing to pay for the service. Assassins were skeptical of the existence of God and believed that the world of the mind came into existence first, then, finally, the rest of creation.

-- Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend.

I am you and you are me and what have we done to each other?

-- The Keener's Manual

Chapter 1

It was sunny in San Francisco; a fabulous condition. Raymond Shaw was not unaware of the beauty outside the hotel window, across from a mansion on the top of a hill, but he clutched the telephone like an osculatorium and did not allow himself to think about what lay beyond that instant: in a saloon someplace, in a different bed, or anywhere.

His lumpy sergeant's uniform was heaped on a chair. He stretched out on the rented bed, wearing a new one-hundred-and- twenty-dollar dark blue dressing gown, and waited for the telephone operator to complete the chain of calls to locate Ed Mavole's father, somewhere in St. Louis.

He knew he was doing the wrong thing. Two years of Korean duty were three days behind him and, at the very least, he should be spending his money on a taxicab to go up and down those hills in the sunshine, but he decided his mind must be bent or that he was drunk with compassion, or something else improbable like that. Of all of the fathers of all of the fallen whom he had to call, owing to his endemic mopery, this one had to work nights, because, by now, it must be dark in St. Louis.

He listened to the operator get through to the switchboard at the Post-Dispatch. He heard the switchboard tell her that Mavole's father worked in the composing room. A man talked to a woman; there was silence. Raymond stared at his own large toe.

"Hello?" A very high voice.

"Mr. Arthur Mavole, please. Long distance calling." The steady rumble of working presses filled the background.

"This is him."

"Mr. Arthur Mavole?"

"Yeah, yeah."

"Go ahead, please."

"Uh -- hello? Mr. Mavole? This is Sergeant Shaw. I'm calling from San Francisco. I -- uh -- I was in Eddie's outfit, Mr. Mavole."

"My Ed's outfit?"

"Yes, sir."

"Ray Shaw?"

"Yes, sir."

"The Ray Shaw? Who won the Medal of --"

"Yes, sir." Raymond cut him off in a louder voice. He felt like dropping the phone, the call, and the whole soggy, masochistic, suicidal thing in the wastebasket. Better--yet, he should whack himself over the head with the goddam phone. "You see, uh, Mr. Mavole, 1 have to, uh, go to Washington, and I --"

"We know. We read all about it and let me say with all my heart I got left that I am as proud of you, even though I never met you, as if it were Eddie, my own kid. My son."

"Mr. Mavole," Raymond said rapidly, "I thought that if it was O.K. with you maybe I could stop over in St. Louis on my way to Washington, you know? I thought, I mean it occurred to me that you and Mrs. Mavole might get some kind of peace out of it, some kind of relief, if we talked a little bit. About Eddie. You know? I mean I thought that was the least I could do."

There was a silence. Then Mr. Mavole began to make a lot of slobbering sounds so Raymond said roughly that he would wire when he knew what flight he would be on and he hung up the phone and felt like an idiot. Like an angry man with a cane who pokes a hole through the floor of heaven and is scalded by the joy that pours down upon him, Raymond had a capacity for using satisfactions against himself.

When he got off the plane at St. Louis airport he felt like running. He decided Mavole's father must be that midget with the eyeglasses like milk-bottle bottoms who was enjoying sweating so much. The man would be all over him like a charging elk in a minute. "Hold it! Hold it!" the pimply press photographer said loudly.

"Put it down," Raymond snarled in a voice which was even more unpleasant than his normal voice. All at once the photographer was less sure of himself. "Whassa matter?" he asked in bewilderment -- because he lived at a time when only sex criminals and dope peddlers tried to refuse to have their pictures taken by the press.

"I flew all the way in here to see Ed Mavole's father," Raymond said, despising himself for throwing up such corn. "You want a picture, go find him, because you ain't gonna take one of me without he's in it."

Listen to that genuine, bluff sergeant version of pollice verso, Raymond cried out to himself. I am playing the authentic war buddy so deeply that I will have to mail in a royalty check for the stock rights. Look at that clown of a photographer trying to cope with phenomena. Any minute now he will realize that he is standing right beside Mavole's father.

"Oh, Sergeant!" the girl said, so then he knew who she was. She wasn't red-eyed and runny-nosed with grief for the dead hero, so she had to be the cub reporter who had been assigned to write the big local angle on the White House and the Hero, and he had probably written the lead for her with that sappy grandstand play.

''I'm Ed's father," the sweat manufacturer said. It was December, fuh gossake, what's with all the dew? ''I'm Frank Mavole. I'm sorry about this. I just happened to mention at the paper that you had called all the way from San Francisco and that you had offered to stop over and see Eddie's mother on the way to the White House, and the word somehow got upstairs to the city desk and well -- that's the newspaper business, I guess."

Raymond took three steps forward, grasped Mr. Mavole's hand, gripped his right forearm with his own left hand, transmitted the steely glance and the iron stare and the frozen fix. He felt like Captain Idiot in one of those space comic books, and the photographer got the picture and lost all interest in them.

"May I ask how old you are, Sergeant Shaw?" the young chick said, notebook ready, pencil poised as though she and Mavole were about to give him a fitting, and he figured reflexively that this could be the first assignment she had ever gotten after years of journalism school and months of social notes from all over. He remembered his first assignment and how he had feared the waffle-faced movie actor who had opened the door of the hotel suite wearing only pajama bottoms, with corny tattoos like So Long, Mabel on each shoulder. Inside the suite Raymond had managed to convey that he would just as soon have hit the man as talk to him and he had said, "Gimme the handout and we can save some time." The traveling press agent with the actor, a plump, bloodshot type whose glasses kept sliding down his nose, had said, "What handout?" He had snarled that maybe they would prefer it if he started out by asking what was the great man's hobby and what astrology sign he had been born under. It was hard to believe but that man's face had been as pocked and welted as a waffle, yet he was one of the biggest names in the business, which gives an idea what those swine will do to kid the jerky public. The actor had said, "Are you scared, kid?" Then, after that, everything seemed to go O.K. They got along like a bucket of chums. The point was, everybody had to start someplace.

Although he felt like a slob himself for doing it, he asked Mr. Mavole and the girl if they would have time to have a cup of coffee at the airport restaurant because he was a newspaperman himself and he knew that the little lady had a story to get. The little lady? That was overdoing it. He'd have to find a mirror and see if he had a wing collar on.

"You were?" the girl said. "Oh, Sergeant!" Mr. Mavole said a cup of coffee would be fine with him, so they went inside.

They sat down at a table in the coffee shop. The windows were steamy. Business was very quiet and unfortunately the waitress seemed to have nothing but time. They all ordered coffee and Raymond thought he'd like to have a piece of pie but he could not bring himself to decide what kind of pie. Did everybody have to look at him as though he were sick because he couldn't set his taste buds in advance to be able to figure which flavor he would favor before he tasted it? Did the waitress just have to start out to recite "We have peach pie, and pumpk --" and they'd just yell out Peach, peach, peach? What was the sense of eating in a place where they gabbled the menu at you, anyway? If a man were intelligent and he sorted through the memories of past tastes he not only could get exactly what he wanted sensually and with a flavor sensation, but he would probably be choosing something so chemically exact that it would benefit his entire body. But how could anyone achieve such a considerate deliberate result as that unless one were permitted to pore over a written menu?

"The prune pie is very good, sir," the waitress said. He told her he'd take the prune pie and he hated her in a hot, resentful Hash because he did not want prune pie. He hated prune pie and he had been maneuvered into ordering prune pie by a rube waitress who would probably slobber all over his shoes for a quarter tip.

"I wanted to tell you how we felt about Ed, Mr. Mavole," Raymond said. "I want to tell you that of all the guys I ever met, there was never a happier, sweeter, or more solid guy than your son Ed."

The little man's eyes filled. He suddenly choked on a sob so loud that people at the counter, which was quite a distance away, turned around. Raymond spoke to the girl quickly to cover up. ''I'm twenty-four years old. My astrological sign is Pisces. A very fine lady reporter on a Detroit paper once told me always to ask for their astrology sign because people love to read about astrology if they don't have to ask for it directly."

''I'm Taurus," the girl said.

"We'd be very good," Raymond said. She let him see just a little bit behind her expression. "I know," she said.

Mr. Mavole spoke in a soft voice. "Sergeant -- you see -- well, when Eddie got killed his mother had a heart attack and I wonder if you could spare maybe a half an hour out and back. We don't live all the way into the city, and --"

O Jesus! Raymond saw himself donning the bedside manner. A bloody cardiac. The slightest touchy thing he said to her could knock the old cat over sideways with an off-key moan. But what could he do? He had elected himself Head Chump when he had stepped down from Valhalla and telephoned this sweaty little advantage-taker.

"Mr. Mavole," he said, slowly and softly, "I don't have to be in Washington until the day after tomorrow, but I figured I would allow a day and a half in case of bad weather, you know? On account of the White House? I can even get to Washington by train from here overnight, the Spirit of St. Louis, the same name as that plane with that fella, so please don't think I would even think of leaving town without talking to Mrs. Mavole -- Eddie's mother." He looked up and he saw how the girl was looking at him. She was a very pretty girl; a sweet-looking, nice, blond girl. "What's your name?" he asked.

"Mardell," she said.

"Do you think I'll be able to get a hotel here tonight?"

''I'm absolutely sure of it."

"I'll take care of that, Sergeant," Mr. Mavole said hurriedly. "In fact, the paper will take care of everything. You would certainly be welcome to stay at our place, but we just had the painters. Smells so sharp your eyes water."

Raymond called for the check. They drove to the Mavoles'. Mardell said she'd wait in the car and just to forget about her. Raymond told her to get on in to the paper and file her story, then drive back out to pick him up. She stared at him as if he had invented balk-line billiards. He patted her cheek, then went into the house. She put her hand on her stomach and took three or four very deep breaths. Then she started the car and went into town.

The session with Mrs. Mavole was awful and Raymond vowed that he would never take an intelligence test because they might lock him up as a result of what would be shown. Any cretin could have looked ahead and seen what a mess this was going to be. They all cried. People can certainly carry on, he thought, holding her fat hand because she had asked him to, and feeling sure she was going to drop dead any minute. These were the people who let a war start, then they act surprised when their own son is killed. Mavole was a good enough kid. He certainly was a funny kid and with a sensational disposition but, what the hell, twenty thousand were dead out there so far on the American panel, plus the U.N. guys, and maybe sixty, eighty thousand more all shot up, and this fat broad seemed to think that Mavole was the only one who got it.

Could my mother take it this big if I got it? Would anyone living or anyone running a legitimate seance which picked up guaranteed answers from Out Yonder ever be able to find out whether she could feel anything at all about anything or anybody? Let her liddul Raymond pull up dead and he knew the answer from his liddul mommy. If the folks would pay one or more votes for a sandwich she would be happy to send for her liddul boy's body and barbecue him.

"I can tell you that it was a very clear action for a night action, Mrs. Mavole," Raymond said. Mr. Mavole sat on the· other side of the bed and stared at the floor, his eyes feverish captives in black circles, his lower lip caught between his teeth, his hands clasped in prayer as he hoped he would not begin to cry again and start her crying. "You see, Captain Marco had sent up some low flares because we had to know where the enemy was. They knew where we were. Eddie, well --" He paused, only infinitesimally, to try not to weep at the thought of how bitter, bitter, bitter it was to have to lie at a time like this, but she had sold the boy to the recruiters for this moment, so he would have to throw the truth away and pay her off. They never told The Folks Back Home about the filthy deaths -- the grotesque, debasing deaths which were almost all the deaths in war. Dirty deaths were the commonplace clowns smoking idle cigarettes backstage at a circus filled with clowns. Ah, no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Only a clutch of martial airs played on an electric guitar and sung through the gaudy juke box called Our Nation's History. He didn't know exactly how Mavole caught it, but he could figure it close. He'd probably gotten about sixteen inches of bayonet in the rectum as he turned to get away and his screaming had scared the other man so much that he had fought to get his weapon out and run away, twisting Mavole on it until the point came out under Mavole's ribs where the diaphragm was and the man had had to put his foot on the back of Mavole's neck, breaking his nose and cheekbone, to get the sticker out, while he whimpered in Chinese and wanted to lie down somewhere, where it was quiet. All the other people knew about how undignified it was to lose a head or some legs or a body in a mass attack, except his people: the innocents hiding in the jam jar. Women like this one might have had that li'l cardiac murmur stilled if her city had been bombed and she had seen her Eddie with no lower face and she had to protect and cherish the rest, the ones who were left. "-- well, there was this very young lad in our outfit, Mrs. Mavole. He was maybe seventeen years old, but I doubt it. I think sixteen. Eddie had decided a long time ago to help the kid and look out for him because that was the kind of man your son was." Mr. Mavole was sobbing very softly on the other side of the bed. "Well, the boy, little Bobby Lembeck, got separated from the rest of us. Not by far; Ed went out to cover him. The boy was hit just before Eddie could make it to him and, well, he just couldn't leave him there. You know? That's the kind of a man, I mean; that was Ed. You know? He couldn't. He tried to bring the youngster back and by that time the enemy had a fix on them and they dropped a mortar shell on them from away up high and it was all over and all done, Mrs. Mavole, before those two boys felt a single thing. That's how quick it was, Mrs. Mavole. Yes, ma'am. That quick."

''I'm glad," Mrs. Mavole said. Then suddenly and loudly she said, "O my God, how can I say I'm glad? I'm not. I'm not. We're all a long time dead. He was such a happy little boy and he'll be a long time dead." She was propped up among the pillows of the bed and her body moved back and forth with her keening.

What the hell did he expect? He came here of his own free will. What did he expect? Two choruses of something mellow, progressive, and fine? O man, O man, O man! A fat old broad in a nine-by-nine box with a sweat-maker who can't get with it. How can I continue to live, he shouted at high scream under the nave of his encompassing skull, if people are going to continue to carry bundles of pain on top of their heads like Haitian laundresses, then fling the bundles at random into the face of any bright stroller who happened to be passing by? All right. He had helped this fat broad to find herself some ghoulish kicks. What else did they want from him?

"The wrong man died, Mrs. Mavole," Raymond sobbed. "How I wish it could have been me. Not Eddie. Me. Me." He hid his face in her large, motherly breasts as she lay back on the pillows of the bed.


Through arrangements beyond his control, Raymond had developed. into a man who sagged fearfully within a suit of stifling armor, imprisoned for the length of his life from casque to solleret. It was heavy, immovable armor, this thick defense, which had been constructed mainly at his mother's forge, hammered under his stepfather's noise, tempered by the bitter tears of his father's betrayal. Raymond also distrusted all other living people because they had not warned his father of his mother.

Raymond had been shown too early that if he smiled his stepfather was encouraged to bray laughter; if he spoke, his mother felt compelled to reply in the only way she knew how to reply, which was to urge him to seek popularity and power with all life-force. So he had deliberately developed the ability to be shunned instantly no matter where he went and notwithstanding extraneous conditions. He had achieved this state consciously after year upon year of unconscious rehearsal of the manifest paraphernalia of arrogance and contempt, then exceeded it. The shell of armor that encased Raymond, by the horrid tracery of its design, presented him as one of the least likeable men of his century. He knew that to be a fact, and yet he did not know it because he thought the armor was all one with himself, as is a turtle's shell.

He had been told who he was only by his whimpering unconscious mind: a motherless (by choice), fatherless (by treachery), friendless (by circumstance), and joyless (by consequence) man who would continue to refuse emphatically to live and who, autocratically and unequivocally, did not intend to die. He was a marooned balloonist, supported by nothing visible, looking down on everybody and everything, but yearning to be seen so that, at least, he could be given some credit for an otherwise profitless ascension.

That was what Raymond's ambivalence was like. He was held in a paradox of callousness and feeling: the armor, which he told the world he was, and the feeling, which was what he did not know he was, and blind to both in a darkness of despair which could neither be seen nor see itself.

He had been able to weep with Mr. and Mrs. Mavole because the door had been closed and because he knew he would be careful never to be seen by those two slobs again.


At seven-twenty on the morning after he had reached St. Louis, there was a discreet but firm knocking at Raymond's hotel room door. These peremptory sounds just happened to come at a moment when Raymond was exchanging intense joy with the young newspaperwoman he had met the day before. When the knocking had first hit the door, Raymond had heard it clearly enough but he was just busy enough to be determined to ignore it, but the young woman had gone rigid, not in any attitude of idiosyncratic orgasm, but as any healthy, respectable young woman would have done under similar circumstances in a hotel room in any city smaller than Tokyo.

Lights of rage and resentment exploded in Raymond's head. He stared down at the sweet, frightened face under him as though he hated her for not being as defiant as a drunken whore in a night court, then he threw himself off her, nearly falling out of bed. He regained his balance, slowly pulled on the dark blue dressing gown, and walking very close to the door of the room, said into the crack, "Who is it?"

"Sergeant Shaw?"


"Federal Bureau of Investigation." It was a calm, sane, tenor voice.

"What?" Raymond said. "Come on!" His voice was low and angry.

"Open up."

Raymond looked over his shoulder, registering amazement, either to see whether Mardell had heard what he had heard or to find out if she looked like a fugitive. She was chalk-white and solemn.

"What do you want?" Raymond asked.

"We want Sergeant Raymond Shaw." Raymond stared at the door. His face began to fill with a claret flush that clashed unpleasantly with the Nile-green wallpaper directly beside him. "Open up!" the voice said.

"I will like hell open up," Raymond said. "How dare you pound on this door at this time of the morning and issue your country constable's orders? There are telephones in the lobby if you needed to make some kind of urgent inquiry. I said, how dare you?" The hauteur in Raymond's voice held no bluster and its threat of implicit punishment startled the girl on the bed even more than the FBI's arrival. "What the hell do you want from Sergeant Raymond Shaw?" he snarled.

"Well -- uh -- we have been asked --"

"Asked? Asked?"

"-- we have been asked to see that you meet the Army plane which is being sent to pick you up at the Lambert Airport in an hour and fifteen minutes. At eight forty-five."

"You couldn't have called me from your home, or some law-school telephone booth?"

There was a strained silence, then: "We will not continue to discuss this with you from behind a door." Raymond walked quickly to the telephone. He was stiff with anger, as though it had rusted his joints. He picked up the receiver and rattled the bar. He told the operator to please get him the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

"Sergeant," the voice said distinctly through the door, "we have orders to put you on that plane. Our orders are just as mandatory as any you ever got in the Army."

"Listen to what I'm going to say on this phone, then we'll talk about orders," Raymond said nastily. "I don't take any orders from the FBI or the Bureau of Printing and Engraving or the Division of Conservation and Wild Life, and if you have any written orders for me from the United States Army, slide them under the door. Then you can wait for me in the lobby, if you still think you have to, and the Air Force can wait for me at the airport until I make my mind up."

"Now, just one minute here, son-" The voice had turned ominous.

"Did they tell you I am being flown to Washington to get a Medal of Honor at the White House?" Maybe that silly hunk of iron he had never asked for would be useful for something just once. This kind of a square bought that stuff. A Medal of Honor was like a lot of money; it was very hard to get, so it took on a lot of magic powers.

"Are you that Sergeant Shaw?"

"That's me." He spoke to the phone. "Right. I'll hold on."

"I'll wait in the lobby," the FBI man said. "I'll be standing near the desk when you come down. Sorry."

Holding the telephone and waiting for the call, Raymond sat down on the edge of the bed, then leaned over and kissed the girl very softly at a soft place right under her rigid right nipple, but he didn't smile at her because he was preoccupied with the call. "Hello, Mayflower? This is St. Louis, Missouri, calling Senator John Iselin. Sergeant Raymond Shaw." There was a short wait. "Hello, Mother. Put your husband on. It's Raymond. I said put your husband on!" He waited.

"Johnny? Raymond. There's an FBI man outside my hotel room door in St. Louis to say that they are holding an Army plane for me. Did you tell the Army to request FBI cooperation, and did you have that plane sent here?" He listened. "You did. Well, I knew damn well you did. But why? What the hell did you decide to do a thing like that for?" He listened. "How could I be late? It's Wednesday morning and I don't have to be at the White House until Friday afternoon." He listened. He went totally pale. "A parade? A par---ade?" He stared at the details offered by his imagination. "Why -- you cheap, flag-rubbing bastard!"

Mardell had slipped out of bed and was starting to get dressed, but she didn't seem to be able to find anything and she looked frightened. He signaled her with his free hand, caught her attention, and smiled at her so warmingly and so reassuringly that she sat down on the edge of the bed. Then she leaned back slowly and stretched out. He reached over and took her hand, kissed it softly, then placed it on top of her flat smooth stomach, while the telephone squawked in his ear. She reached up and just barely allowed her hand to caress the length of his right cheek, unshaven. Suddenly his face went hard again and he barked into the telephone. "No, don't put my mother on again! I know I haven't spoken to her in two years! I'll talk to her when I'm good and ready to talk to her. Aaah, for Christ's sake!" He gritted his teeth and stared at the ceiling.

"Hello, Mother." His voice was flat.

"Raymond, what the hell is this?" his mother asked solicitously. "What's the matter with you? If we were in the mining business and you struck gold you'd call us, wouldn't you?"


"Well, it just so happens that you're a Medal of Honor winner -- incidentally, congratulations -- I meant to write but we've been jammed up. Johnny is a public figure, Raymond. He represents the people of your state just the same as the President represents the people of the United States, and I notice you aren't making any fuss about going to the White House. Is there something so slimy and so terrible about having your picture taken with your father --"

"He is not my father!"

"-- who represents the pride the people of this nation feel for what you have sacrificed for them on the field of battle?"

"Aaah, fuh crissakes, Mother, will you please --"

"You didn't mind having your picture taken with that stranger in St. Louis yesterday. Incidentally, what happened? Did the Army PRO send you in there to slobber over the Gold Star Mother?"

"It was my own idea."

"Don't tell me that, Raymond darling. I just happen to know you."

"It was my own idea."

"Well, wonderful. It was a wonderful idea. All the papers carried it here yesterday and, of course, everywhere this morning. Marty Webber called in time so we were able to work in a little expression from Johnny about how he'd do anything to help that dead boy's folks and so forth, so we tied everything up from this end. It was great, so you certainly can't stand there and tell me that you won't have your picture taken with the man who is not only your own family but who happens to have been the governor and is now the senator from your own state."

"Since when do you have to get the Army to ask the FBI to set up a picture for Johnny? And that's not what we're arguing about, anyway. He just told me about a filthy idea for a parade to commemorate a medal on which you and I might not place any particular value but which the rest of this country thinks is a nice little thing -- for a few lousy votes for him, and I am not going to hold still for any cheap, goddam parade!"

"A parade? That's ridiculous!"

"Ask your flag-simple husband."

Raymond's mother seemed to be talking across the mouthpiece in an aside to Johnny, but Johnny had left the apartment some four minutes before to get a haircut. "Johnny," she said to nobody at all, "where did you get the idea that they could embarrass Raymond with a parade? No wonder he's so sore," Into the telephone she said, "It's not a parade! A few cars were going out to the airport to meet you. No marching men. No color guard. No big bands. You know you are a very peculiar boy, Raymond. I haven't seen you for almost two years -- your mother -- but you go right on mewing about some parade and Johnny and the FBI and some Army plane, but when it comes to --"

"What else is going to happen in Washington?"

"I had planned a little luncheon."

"With whom?"

"With some very important key press and television people..."

"And Johnny?"

"Of course."



"I won't do it."

There was a long pause. Waiting, staring down at the girl, he became aware that she had violet eyes. His mind began to spin off the fine silk thread of his resentment in furious moulinage. For almost two years he had been free of his obsessed mother, this brassy bugler, this puss-in-boots to her boorish Marquis de Carra bas, the woman who could think but who could not feel. He had had three letters from her in two years. (1) She had arranged for a life-sized cut-out of Johnny to be forwarded to Seoul. General MacArthur was in the area. Could Johnny arrange for a picture of the two of them with arms around the photographic cut-out of Johnny, as she could guarantee that this would get the widest kind of coverage? (2) Would he arrange for a canvass of fighting men from their state to sign a scroll of Christmas greetings, on behalf of all Johnny's fighting buddies everywhere, to Johnny and the people of his great state? And (3) she was deeply disappointed and not a little bit shocked to find out that he would not lift one little finger to carry out a few simple requests for his mother who worked day and night for both of her men so that there might be a better and more secure place for each of them.

He had been two years away from her but he could feel his defiance of her buckling under the weight of her silence. He had never been able to cope with her silence. At last her voice came through the telephone again. It was changed. It was rough and sinister. It was murderous and frightening and threatening. "If you don't do this, Raymond," she said, "I will promise you on my father's grave right now that you will be very, very sorry."

"All right, Mother," he said. "I'll do it." He shuddered. He hung up the telephone from a foot and a half above the receiver. It fell off, but he must have felt he had made his point because he picked it up from the bed where it had bounced and put it gently into its cradle.

"That was my mother," he explained to Mardell. "I wish I knew what else I could say to describe her in front of a nice girl like you."

He walked to the locked door. He leaned against the crack in despair and said, "I'll be in the lobby in about an hour." There was no answer. He turned toward the bed, untying the belt of his new blue robe, as a massive column of smoke began to spiral upward inside his head, filling the eyes of his memory and opaquing his expression from behind his eyes. Mardell was spilled out softly across the bed. The sheets were blue. She was blond-and-ivory, tipped with pink; lined with pink. It came to him that he had never seen another girl, named Jocie, this way. The thought of Jocie lying before him like this lovely moaning girl excited him as though a chemical abrasive had been poured into his urethra and she was assaulted by him in the most attritive manner, to her greater glory and with her effulgent consent, and though she lived to be an old, old woman she never forgot that morning and could summon it back to her in its richest violence whenever she was frightened and alone, never knowing that she was not only the first woman Raymond had ever possessed, but the first he had ever kissed in passion, or that he had been given his start toward relaxing his inhibitions against the uses of sex not quite one year before, in Manchuria.
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Postby admin » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:22 am

Part 1 of 2

Chapter 2

A Chinese Army construction battalion arrived at Tunghwa, forty-three miles inside the Korean frontier, on July 4, 1951, to set underway the housing for events, planned in 1936, that were to reach their conclusion in the United States of America in 1960. The major in charge of the detail, a Ssu Ma Sung, is now a civilian lawyer in Kunming.

Manchuria is in the subarctic zone, but the summers are hot and humid. Tunghwa handles industry, such as sawmilling and food processing with hydroelectric power. It is a city of approximately ninety thousand, about the size of Terre Haute, Indiana, but lacking a public health appropriation.

The Chinese construction battalion set up the job near a military airfield nearly three miles out of town. Everything they put up was prefabricated, the sections keyed by different colors; this, when the pieces were scattered around the terrain, made the men seem like toy figures walking among the pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle. When these were assembled into a building, they were sprayed with barn-red lead paint to banish the quilted effect. By July 6, at seventeen-nineteen, the battalion had completed a two-story, twenty-two-room structure with a small auditorium. The building was called the Research Pavilion and had some one-way transparent glass walls. It also had a few comfortably furnished guest rooms without glass walls on the first floor; these had been reserved for the brass from Moscow and Peiping.

Each floor held different-colored, varipatterned asphalt tile as a guide for furniture and equipment placement. Each wall, as it was erected, had decorations riveted into it. The windows, cut through each outer wall, had curtains and drapes fastened to them. The thousand pieces of that house gave the impression that it was a traveling billet for political representatives of the allied People's Governments: a structure forever being built, struck, then sent on ahead to be built again for the next series of meetings and discussions. All of the furniture was made of blond wood in mutated, modern Scandinavian design. All of the interior coloring, except the bright yellow rattan carpeting on the second floor, was the same green and apricot utilized by new brides during their first three years of marriage.

The second floor of the building held one large comer suite of rooms and ten other compact cubicles that had three solid walls each and one building-long common wall of one-way transparent glass facing a catwalk that was patrolled day and night by two Soviet Army riflemen. Each cubicle contained a cot, a chair, a closet, and a mirror for reassurance that the soul had not fled. The large apartment had similar fittings, plus a bathroom, a large living room, and an additional bedroom. All of the walls here were opaque. The invigorating scent of pine-tree incense pervaded the upper floors, subtly and pleasantly.


The marvelous part of what they were doing several hundred miles to the south of Tunghwa was that every time Mavole moved, the girl moved, and every time Mavole bleated, the girl bleated. It was really a money's worth and after Mavole came downstairs he told the guys that the classy part about the joint was that when he took the broad upstairs in the first place, there had been no jeers or catcalls. Mavole's co-mover and bleater was a young Korean girl who had adapted to prostitution a variation of the Rochdale principle on which had been based the first cooperative store in 1844, in that she extended absolutely no credit but distributed part of the profits in the form of free beer. Her name was Gertrude.

Freeman had left to check gear, but Mavole and Bobby Lembeck sat around and drank a few more beers while they waited for the corporal to get finished upstairs. They tried to explain to the two little broads that it was not necessary to smile so hard but they couldn't speak Korean, except for a few words, and the girls couldn't speak American, so Bobby Lembeck put his two forefingers at the corners of his mouth and pulled an inane prop smile down. The girls caught on but it looked so funny the way he did it that Bobby and Mavole started laughing like crazy, which started the girls laughing again so that when they stopped laughing they were still smiling.

To the extent that wartime zymurgists imperil the norm, the Korean beer was about as good as local Mississippi beer or Nebraska beer, which is pretty lousy, but it was hot. That was one thing you could say about it, Mavole pointed out.

"Eddie, why do we have to spend all of our time off in a whorehouse?" Bobby asked.

"Yeah. Rough, ain't it?"

"I don't mean it's hard to take, but my hobby is birds. There are a lot of new birds around this part of the world."

"We spend our time off here because it's the only place on the entire Korean peninsula that Sergeant Raymond Shaw doesn't walk into."

"You think he's a fairy, or very religious?"


"Or both?"

"Sergeant Shaw? Our Raymond?"


"What are you? Out of your mind? It's just that Raymond doesn't give to anybody. And it's a common vulgar thing -- sex -- to Raymond."

"He happens to be right," Bobby Lembeck said. "It sure is. I'm only a beginner but that's one of the things I like about it."

Mavole looked at him, nodding his head in a kind of awe. "It's a very funny thing," he said slowly, "but every now and then I think about you coming all the way to Korea from New Jersey to get your first piece of poontang and it makes me feel like I'm sort of a monument -- part of your life. You know? And Marie Louise too. Of course." He nodded equably to indicate the small Japanese girl who was sitting beside Bobby Lembeck, holding his right wrist like a falcon.

"She certainly is," Bobby agreed. "What a monument."

"It's kind of a very touching thing to me that you have never had a fat broad or a tall broad, say."

"It's different?"

"Well -- yes and no. It's hard to explain. These little broads, while very nice and with lovely dispositions and with beer included, which is very unusual, they are very little -- spinners, we used to call them -- and although I hate to say this even though I know they can't understand me, they are very, very skinny."

"Just the same," Bobby said.

"Yeah. You're right."

Melvin, the corporal, came rushing down the stairs. He was combing his hair rapidly, head tilted to one side, like a commuter who had overslept. "Great!" he said briskly. "Great, great, great!" he repeated, running the words together. "The greatest."

"You're telling me?" asked Bobby Lembeck.

"Look at him," Mavole said proudly. "Already he's an expert on getting laid."

"All right, you guys," Melvin said in a corporal's voice. "We move up north in a half an hour. Let's go."

Bobby Lembeck kissed Marie Louise's hand. "Mansei!" he said, using the only Korean word he knew; it voiced a gallant hope, for it meant "May our country live ten thousand years."


Sergeant Shaw was capable of weeping objective, simulated tears at several points in the story of his life, which Captain Marco always encouraged him to tell to pass the time during quiet hours on patrol. The sergeant's rage-daubed face would shine like a ripped-out heart flung onto stones in moonlight, and the captain liked to hear the story because, in a way, it was like hearing Orestes gripe about Clytemnestra. Captain Marco treasured poetic, literary, informational, and cross-referenced allusions, military and nonmilitary. He was a reader. His point of motive was that on many Army posts one's off-time could only be spent drinking, bridge-playing, or reading. Marco enjoyed beer, abjured spirits. He had no head for cards; he always seemed to win from his superior officers. His fellow officers were used up on conversations of a nonprofessional nature, so he transhipped boxes of books about anything at all, back and forth between San Francisco and wherever he was stationed at the time, because he was deeply interested in the problems of Bilbao bankers, the history of piracy, the paintings of Orozco, the modern French theater, the jurisprudential factors in Mafia administration, the diseases of cattle, the works of Yeats, the ramblings of the Bible, the novels of Joyce Cary, the lordliness of doctors, the psychology of bullfighters, the ethnic choices of Arabs, the origin of trade winds, and very nearly anything else contained in any of the books which he paid to have selected at random by a stranger in a bookstore on Market Street and shipped to him wherever he happened to be.

The sergeant's account of his past was ancient in its form and confusingly dramatic, as perhaps would have been a game of three-level chess between Richard Burbage and Sacha Guitry. It all seemed to revolve around his mother, a woman as ambitious as Daedalus. The sergeant was twenty-two years old. He was as ambivalent as a candle burning at both ends. Awake, his resentment was almost always at full boil. Asleep, Captain Marco could understand, it simmered and bubbled in the blackened iron pot of his memory.

Raymond had made tech sergeant because he was a bleakly good soldier and because he was the greatest natural marksman in the division. Any weapon he could lift, he could kill with. He pointed it languidly, pulled the trigger, and something always fell. Some of the men appreciated this quality very much and liked to be with or near Raymond when any action occurred, but otherwise he was scrupulously shunned by all of them.

Raymond was a left-handed man of considerable height -- to which he soared from wide hips, narrower shoulders -- with a triangular face which suspended a pointed chin that was narrow and not very firm. The vertical halves of his face pouted together sullenly, projecting the effluvia of self-pity. His skin was immoderately white, which made the prominent veins of his arms and legs seem like blue neon tubing. His cropped hair was light blond and it grew down low and in a round shape over his forehead in a style affected by many American businessmen of a juvenile or eunuchoid turn.

Despite that specific inventory of his countenance, Raymond was a very handsome man, very nearly a pretty man, who had heavy bones, great physical strength, and large glaucous eyes with very large whites, like those of a carousel horse pursued by the Erinyes, those female avengers of antiquity.

When the flautist Boehm engineered the new design and the new note value system for the clarinet, his system took a half note away from the thumb and a half note away from the third finger on each hand, as it would have been played on the standard Albert clarinet. By so doing he created an aural schism and brought a most refined essence of prejudice to a world of music. He created two clarinetists with two subtly different qualities of sound, where there had been one before, and provided, amid this decadence, many bitter misunderstandings. It was as if Raymond had been built by Herr Boehm to have had his full notes dropped to half notes, then to quarter notes, then to eighth notes, for his was an almost silent music, if music Raymond contained at all.

In spite of himself the captain liked Shaw, and the captain was a matured and thoughtful man. He liked Raymond, he had decided after much consideration of the phenomenon, because, in one way or another, Shaw was continuously demonstrating that he liked the captain and the captain was too wise a man to believe he could resist a plea like that.

Nobody else in Company C liked Raymond, and perhaps no one else in the U.S. Army did. His comrades skirted him charily or they pretended he was not there, as the fathers of daughters might regard an extremely high incidence of rape in their neighborhood.

It was not that Raymond was hard to like. He was impossible to like. The captain, a thoughtful man, understood that Shaw's attention to him was merely the result of the pressure of a lifetime of having his nose rubbed in various symbols of authority, and as the sergeant's life story droned on and on the captain came to realize that Raymond was pouring out a cherished monologue upon the beloved memory of his long-dead, betrayed father, who had been cast off by that bitch before Raymond could begin to love him. Amateur psychiatric prognosis can be fascinating when there is absolutely nothing else to do. Also fascinating was the captain's unending search for one small, even isolated address of Raymond's that was warm or, in any human way, attractive.

Raymond's crushing contemptuousness aside, examining such a minute thing as the use of his hands while talking could be distressing, and the captain could see how little fragments of Raymond's personality had formed one great, cold lump. Raymond could not stop using one horrid gesture: a go-way-you-bother-me, flicking sort of gesture that he managed by having his long, fish-belly white fingers do small, backhand, brushing gestures to point up anything he said. Anything. He made the brush if he said good morning. If. He flicked air away from himself when he talked about the weather, politics (his field), food, or gear: anything. This digitorum gesticulatione was about the most irritating single bit of movement that the captain could ever remember seeing, and the captain was a thoughtful man. He had burst out against it early one morning while the sky was flinging light all around them, and Raymond had responded with a look of confusion, unaware of his fault, and disturbed. He had said to the captain that he, flick-flick, did not understand what the captain meant, brush-brush, and at last the captain had chosen to overlook it, as it was a relatively minor thing to a man who planned to be a wartime or a peacetime general of four stars someday and who had permitted himself to decide that he would be crazy to refuse to understand a hero-worshiping sergeant whose relative might someday be chairman, or have direct influence on the chairman, of the Armed Services Committee of the Congress.

It took that kind of objectivity to begin to tolerate Raymond, who was over full of haughtiness. Raymond stood as though someone might have just opened a beach umbrella in his bowels. His very glance drawled when he deigned to look, seldom deigning to speak. There were wags in the company who said he put his lips up in curl papers each night, and all of these things are sure ingredients for arousing and sustaining the hostility of others. In theory, Shaw possessed a manner that should become a sergeant, and perhaps would become a drill sergeant or a Marine Corps public-relations sergeant, but not a combat noncom because under heightened realism any attitude of power must always be accompanied by something that makes the privilege of power pardonable, and Shaw possessed no such rescuing qualifiers. His resentment of people, places, and things was a stifling, sensual thing.

The captain's name was Ben Marco. He was a professional officer. He had been sixth in his class at the Academy. His family had claimed the Army as a trade ever since a gunnery lieutenant who had grown up with Hernando de Soto at Barcarrota, Spain, had left Pizarro for a look at the upper Mississippi River. Marco followed his father's vocation because it was the last preserve of intimate feudalism: terraced ranks of fief and lord, where a major can always remain a peasant to a general and a lieutenant a peon to a major.

Marco was an intelligent intelligence officer. He looked like an Aztec crossed with an Eskimo, which was a fairly common western American type because the Aztec troops had drifted down from Siberia quite a long time before the Spaniards of Pizarro and Cortez had drifted north out of the Andes and Vera Cruz. He had metallic (copper-colored) skin and strong (very white) teeth but, aside from pigmentation, the straight (black) hair, the aboriginal look, and the eyes colored like Potage St. Germaine, the potage's potage (green); he had had the contrasting fortune of being born in New Hampshire, where his father had been stationed at the time, just prior to duty in the Canal Zone. He stood five feet eleven and three-quarter inches and looked small when standing beside Raymond. He had a powerful frame and the meat on it was proportioned like the stone meat on an Epstein statue. He had the superior digestive system which affords almost every man blessed with it the respose to become thoughtful.

They were an odd combination: the civilian who tried to talk like a soldier and the soldier who had been ordered by the Joint Chiefs in this new and polite Army to damn well learn how to talk like a civilian; the frosty Bramin with the earthy, ambitious man; the pseudomystagogue with the counter-puncher; the inhibitory with the excitatory, the latter being a designation used by the physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov.


Marco led the Intelligence and Reconnaissance patrol of nine men and his sergeant, Ray Shaw, on their fourteenth reconnaissance that night. Chunjin, Marco's orderly, appeared suddenly at his elbow, out of the almost total darkness and persistent silence. Chunjin was the captain's interpreter, the general guide over terrain, who, no matter where they were sent in Korea always insisted gravely that he had been born within two miles of the spot. Chunjin was a very good man with a frying pan, a shoe brush, a broom, a shaving kit, and at crating and transhipping books to San Francisco. He was small and wiry. He was a very, very tough-looking fellow against any comparison. He had the look of a man who maybe had been pushed around a lot and then had taken his life into his hands by deciding not to take any more of that kind of stuff. He always looked them right in the eyes, from private to colonel, and he did not smile at any time.

"What?" Marco said.

"Bad here."




"Swamp all around thirty yards up. May be quicksand."

"Nobody told me about any quicksand."

"How they know?"

"All right! All right! What do you want?"

"All walk in single line next two hundred yards."


"Patrol sink."

"It is tactically unsound to go forward in a single file."

"Then patrol sink in thirty yards."

"Only for two hundred yards ahead?"

"Yes, sir."

"We can't go around it?"

"No, sir."

"All right. Pass the word."

Raymond was at the head of the line, right behind Chunjin, in guide position. Marco finished the twelve-man line. I&R patrols go out at night, unarmed except for knives. They are unarmed because rifle fire draws other fire and I&R patrols do what they do by staying out of trouble. There was very little light from a pallid crescent of moon. There was about twenty feet of distance between each man. The line was about seventy yards long. When it had moved forward about sixty yards, two human forms rose up in front of and behind each man on the line. The forward form hit its man at the pit of the stomach with a rifle butt, while the back man brought the stock down hard at the back of each man's head when the bodies doubled forward. Excepting Chunjin, they all seemed to go down at the same time. It was an extremely silent action, a model action of its kind. Without pause each two-man team of attackers built a litter out of the two rifles and rolled their charges aboard. Two noncoms checked each team out, talking quietly and occasionally slapping a man on the shoulder with approval and self-pleasure.

Chunjin led the litter teams on a route that was at right angles to the direction taken by the patrol, across the dark, firm terrain. Twenty-two men carried eleven bodies in the improvised stretchers at a rapid dogtrot while the noncoms sang the cadence in soft Russian. The patrol had been taken by Three Company of the 35th Regiment of the 66th Airborne Division of the Soviet Army, a crack outfit that handled most of the flashy assignments in the sector, and dined out between these jobs with available North Korean broads and the young ladies of the Northeast Administrative Area, on the stories emanating therefrom.

The patrol was taken to two trucks waiting a quarter mile away. The trucks rode them twelve miles over bad terrain to a temporary airfield. A helicopter took them north at about twelve hundred feet. They had cleared the Yalu before the first man began to climb back into sluggish consciousness to see a uniformed country boy from Ukhta holding a machine rifle at ready and grinning down at him.


Dr. Yen Lo and his staff of thirty technicians (all of whom were Chinese except two overawed Uzbek neuropsychiatrists who had jointly won an Amahlkin award; as a reward, their section had arranged for them to spend a thirty-day tour with this man whom they had always thought of as a shelf of books or the voice behind the many professors in their short lives -- the living monument to, and the continental expander of, the work of Pavlov) installed their peculiar establishment during the night of July 6 and worked at the fixtures necessary until mid-morning of July 7. Their pharmacy was an elaborate affair, for one thing. For another, they had brought in four compact electronic computers. Included in the effects was an electrical switchboard that seemed large enough to have handled the lighting for the State Opera in Vienna, where, quite possibly, it originated.

Old Yen was in fine spirits. He chatted freely about Pavlov and Salter, Krasnogorski and Meignant, Petrova and Bechtervov, Forlov and Rowland, as though he had not made his departure from the main stream of their doctrine some nine years before when he had come upon his own radical technology for descent into the unconscious mind with the speed of a mine-shaft elevator. He made jokes with his staff. He taunted the two Uzbeks just as though he were not a god, about Herr Freud, whom he called "that Austrian gypsy fortuneteller" or "the Teuton fantast" or "that licensed gossip," and he permitted his chief of staff to visit General Kostroma's chief to arrange for the mess and the billeting of his people.

During the pleasantly cool evening before the morning when the American I&R patrol was brought in for him, Yen Lo and his staff of thirty men and women sat in a large circle on a broad, grassy space, and as the moon went higher and the hour got later, and all of the voices seemed to fall into lower pitch preparing for sleepiness, Yen Lo told them a fairy story, which was set thirty-nine centuries before they had been born, about a young fisherman and a beautiful princess who had journeyed through the province of Chengtu.


The American patrol was brought to the Research Pavilion at six-nine the following morning, July 8. Yen Lo had them bathed, then inoculated each of them personally. They were dressed again while they slept and set down, excepting for Raymond Shaw, one man to a cot to a cubicle, where Yen Lo got three implantation teams started on them, staying with each team through the originating processes until he had assured himself that all had been routined with smoothness. When he had assured himself to the point of downright fussiness, he brought his assistant and two nurses with him into the corner apartment where Raymond slept and began the complex work on the reconstruction of the sergeant's personality.

The principles of excitation, as outlined by Pavlov in 1894, are immutable and apply to every psychological problem no matter how remote it may appear at first. Conditioned reflexes do not involve volitional thinking. Words produce associative reflexes. "Splendid," "marvelous," and "magnificent" give us an unconscious lift because we have been conditioned to that feeling in them. The words "hot," "boiling," and "steam" have a warm quality because of their associativity. Inflection and gesture have been conditioned as intensifiers of word conditionings, as Andrew Salter, the Pavlovian disciple, writes.

Salter shows that when one sees the essence of the unconscious mind to be conditioning, one is in a strategic position to develop a sound understanding of the deepest wellsprings of human behavior. Conditioning is based upon associative reflexes that use words or symbols as triggers of installed automatic reactions. Conditioning, called brainwashing by the news agencies, is the production of reactions in the human organism through the use of associative reflexes.

Yen Lo approached human behavior in terms of fundamental components instead of metaphysical labels. His meaningful goal was to implant in the subject's mind the predominant motive, which was that of submitting to the operator's commands; to construct behavior which would at all times strive to put the operator's exact intentions into execution as if the subject were playing a game or acting a part; and to cause a redirection of his movements by remote control through second parties, or third or fiftieth parties, twelve thousand miles removed from the original commands if necessary. The first thing a human being is loyal to, Yen Lo observed, is his own conditioned nervous system.

On the morning of July 9, the members of the American patrol, excepting Shaw, Marco, and Chunjin, the Korean interpreter, were allowed to walk in and out of each other's rooms and to lounge around in a comfortable common room where there were magazines only two or three years old, printed in Chinese and Russian, and an Australian seed catalogue dated Spring 1944, with attractive color pictures. Yen Lo had conditioned the men to enjoy all the Coca-Cola they could drink, which was, in actuality, Chinese Army issue tea served in tin cups. There were playing cards, card tables, and some dice. Each man had been given twenty strips of brown paper and told that these were one-, five-, ten- and twenty-dollar bills of U.S. currency, depending on how they had been marked in pencil on the corners.

The yellow rattan carpet, the simulated sunlight from the fluorescent tubing, and the happy, blond furniture in the windowless room were quite cheery and bright and the men had been instructed to enjoy their surroundings. About thirty pin-up pictures of Chinese and Indian movie stars were clustered thickly on one wall around a calendar that advertised Tiger Beer of Singapore (fourteen per cent by volume) and offered a deminude Caucasian cutie dressed fOT Coney Island in the mode of the summer of 1931. There were cigarettes and cigars for everyone, and Yen Lo had allowed his boys to have a little fun in the selection of outlandish tobacco substitutes because he knew that word of it would pass through the armies, based upon the sure knowledge of what made armies laugh, rubbing more sheen into the legend of the Yen Lo unit. They would be talking about how much those Americans had savored those cigars and cigarettes from Lvov to Cape Bezhneva inside of one week, as yak dung tastes good like a cigarette should.

The nine men had been conditioned to believe that they were leveling off on a Sunday night after a terrific three-day pass from a post forty minutes outside of New Orleans. They were all convinced that each had won a lot of money and that in spending most of it they had reached exhaustion with warm edges and an expensive calm feeling.

Ed Mavole had received the spirit of Yen Lo's suggestion so strongly that he confided to Silvers that he was slightly worried and wondered if maybe he wouldn't be doing the right thing if he stepped out for a minute to a prophylactic station.

They were worn down from all that whisky and those broads, but they were relaxed and euphoric. Three times a day Yen's staff men gave each man his deep mental massage, stacking up the layers of light and shadow neatly within each unconscious mind, as ordered. The men spent two days in and out of the common room, sleeping and eating when they felt like it, believing it was always the same time on the same Sunday night, remembering that clutch of sensational broads as if they had just rolled off them.


The distinguished commission of distinguished men, including one who was a member of the Central Committee, and another who was a security officer wearing the uniform of a lieutenant general of the Soviet Army inasmuch as he was traveling through a military zone and because he happened to like to wear uniforms, arrived with their staffs at the Tunghwa military airport, accompanied by two round Chinese dignitaries, at five minutes to noon on the morning of July 12, 1951. There were fourteen in the group. Gomel, the Politburo man, in mufti, had a staff of five men who were in uniform. Berezovo, the security officer, in uniform, had a staff of four men and a young woman, in mufti. The two Russian groups seemed remote from each other and from the two young Chinese who may only have seemed young because of an eighty-three per cent vegetable diet.

They all ate at General Kostroma's mess. He was the army corps commander who had been transferred too suddenly from work that had suited him so well at the Army War College to be pressed into supervising Chinese who seemed to have no understanding of military mission and who were fearfully spendthrift with troops.

There appeared to be four entirely separate groups dining at the same large table.

First, Kostroma and his staff: bravely silent men who realized now that they had made a chafing mistake when they had wangled places with this general; they were continuously wondering where they had gone wrong in their judgment, trying to analyze retrospectively whether anyone along the line had encouraged them to think that a berth with Kostroma would be a shrewd move. General Kostroma himself remained mute because a Central Committee member was present, and as Kostroma had evidently made mistakes in the past which he had not known he had been making, he did not want to make another.

The second group, Gomel's, was made up of men whose average length of service among the trench-mortar subtleties of party practice and ascent through the ranks had been a total of eighteen years and four months each. They were professional politicians, wholly independent of the whims of popular vote. They saw their community duty as that of appearing wise and stern, hence they observed silence.

The Berezovo group was silent because they were security people. Berezovo is dead now. For that matter, so is General Kostroma.

Those three groups, however silent, were well aware of the fourth, chaired by Yen Lo (D.M.S., D.Ph., D.Sc., B.S.P., R.H.S.) who kept his own executive staff and the two young (one should call them young-looking rather than young) Chinese dignitaries in high-pitched, continual laughter until the meal had spent itself. All jokes were in Chinese. Even without pointed gestures, Yen managed to convey the feeling that all of the gusty sallies were at their gallant Russian ally's expense. Gomel glared and sweated a form of chicken fat. Berezovo picked at his food expressionlessly, and pared an apple with a bayonet.

Gomel, who established himself as being hircine before anything else, was as stocky as an opera hat, with a bullet head and stainless-steel false teeth. It would be difficult to be more proletarian-seeming than Gomel. The teeth had made him carniverously unphotogenic and therefore unknown to the newspaper readers of the West. He dressed in the chic moujik style affected by his leader; loose silk everythings rushing downward into the tops of soft black boots. His smell tended to worry his personal staff lest their expressions make it seem as though they were personally disloyal to him. He was a specialist in heavy industrial management.

Berezovo, who was younger than Gomel, represented the new Soviet executive and resembled a fire hydrant in a rundown neighborhood: short, squat, stained, and seamed, his head seeming to come to a point and his fibrous hair parted in several impossible places, like a coconut's. Berezovo was all brass; a very important person. Gomel was important, no doubt about that. He had dachi in both Moscow and the Crimea, but there were only two men higher than Berezovo in the entire, exhaustingly delicate business of Soviet security.

Each man had successfully concealed from the other that he was present at the seminar as the personal and confidential representative of Josef Stalin, proprietor.


Yen Lo's lectures began at 4 P.M. on July 11. General Kostroma was not invited to attend. The group strolled in pairs, not unlike dons moving across a campus, toward the lovely copse which framed that little red schoolhouse wherein Yen Lo had inserted so many new values and perspectives into the minds of the eleven Americans. It was a glorious summer afternoon: not too hot, not too cool. The excessive humidity of the morning had disappeared. The food had been excellent.

The single extraordinary sight in the informal but stately procession led by Yen Lo and Pa Cha, the senior Chinese statesman present, was that of Chunjin, the Korean interpreter hitherto attached to the U.S. Army as orderly and guide for Captain Marco, walking at Berezovo's side, chewing on and smoking a large cigar which was held in his small teeth at a jaunty angle. Had any member of the American patrol still retained any semblance of normal perspective he would have been startled at seeing Chunjin there, for when natives were captured by a military party of either side their throats were always cut.

Yen Lo had telephoned ahead from the mess so that when the commission entered the auditorium of the Research Pavilion the American patrol had been seated in a long line across the raised stage, behind a centered lectern. They watched the Sino-Soviet group enter with expressions of amused tolerance and boredom. Yen Lo moved directly to the platform, rummaging in his attache case while the others found seats, by echelon, in upright wooden chairs.

Large, repeated, seven-color lithographs of Stalin and Mao were interspersed on three walls between muscularly typographed yellow-on-black posters that read: LET US STOP IMITATING!!! as a headline, and as text: Piracy and imitations of designs hamper the development and expansion of export trade. It is 'regrettable that there are quite a few cases of piracy in the People's Republic. Piracy injures the Chinese people's international prestige, causes the boycott of Chinese goods, and makes Chinese designers lose interest in making creative efforts. The smell of new paint and shellac and the delicious clean odor of wood shavings floated everywhere in the air of the room, offering the deep, deep luxury of absolute simplicity.

On stage, Ben Marco sat on the end of the line at stage right, in the Mr. Bones position. Sergeant Shaw sat on the other end of the line, stage left. Between them, left to right, were Hiken, Gosfield, Little, Silvers, Mavole, Melvin, Freeman, Lembeck. Mavole was at stage center. All of the men were alert and serene.

The audience was divided, physically and by prejudice. Cornel did not approve of Yen Lo or his work. Berezovo happened to see in Yen Lo's methods possibilities that would hasten revolutionary causes by fifty years. Five staff members sat behind each of these men who sat on opposite sides of the room, re-creating an impression of two Alphonse Capones (1899-1947) attending the Chicago opera of 1927. The two Chinese representatives sat off to the left, closer to the platform than the others, as bland as two jars of yoghurt. Yen Lo winked at them now and again as he made his address with asides in various Chinese dialects to annoy Gomel.
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Part 2 of 2

The stage was raised about thirty inches from the floor and was draped with bunting of the U.S.S.R. and the People's Republic of China. Yen Lo stood behind the centered lectern. He was wearing an ankle-length dress of French blue that buttoned at the side of his throat and fell in straight, comfortable lines. The skin of his face was lapstreaked, or clinkerbuilt, into overlapping horizontal folds like the sides of some small boats, and it was the color of raw sulphur. His eyes were hooded and dark, which made him seem even older than did the wrinkles. His entire expression was theatrically sardonic as though he had been advised by prepaid cable that the late Dr. Fu Manchu had been his uncle.

Yen Lo instructed the Russians with bright contempt, with the slightly nauseated fixity of a vegetarian who must remain in a closed room with carnivores. He used a pointer to indicate the various U.S. Army personnel behind him. He introduced each man courteously and by name. He explained their somewhat lackadaisical manners by saying that each American was under the impression that he had been forced by a storm to wait in a small hotel in New Jersey where space restrictions made it necessary for him to watch and listen to a meeting of a ladies' garden club.

Yen motioned to Raymond Shaw. "Pull your chair over here, Raymond, if you please," he said in English. Raymond sat beside Yen Lo, who placed his hand lightly on the young man's shoulder as he spoke to the group. Raymond's bearing was superciliously haughty. His pose, had it been executed in oils, might have been called "The Young Duke among the Fishmongers." His legs were crossed and his head was cocked with his chin outstretched.

The male stenographer on Gomel's team and the female stenographer on Berezovo's squad flipped their notebooks open on their laps at the same instant, preparing to record Yen's remarks. The shorter Chinese emissary, a chap named Wen Ch'ang, got his hand under his dress and scratched his crotch.

"This, comrades, is the famous Raymond Shaw, the young man you have flown nearly eight thousand miles to see," Yen La said in Russian. "Your chief, Lavrenti Pavlovich Beria, saw this young man in his mind's eye, only as a disembodied ideal, as long as two years before he was appointed to head the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Security in 1938, and that was thirteen eventful years ago. I feel I must add at this point my humble personal gratitude for his warm encouragement and fulfilling inspiration. It is to Lavrenti Pavlovich that this little demonstration will do homage today."

Berezovo nodded his head graciously in silent acknowledgment of the tribute, then the five staff people behind him just as graciously nodded their heads.

Yen Lo told the group that Raymond Shaw was a unique combination of the exceptional: both internally and externally. With oratorical roundness he presented Raymond's external values first. He told them about Raymond's stepfather, the governor; of Raymond's mother, a woman of wealth and celebrity; of Raymond's uncle, a distinguished member of the U.S. diplomatic service. Raymond himself was a journalist and when this little war was over might even rise to become a distinguished journalist. All of these attributes, he said, made Raymond welcome everywhere within the political hierarchy of the United States, within both parties.

The line of American soldiers listened to the lecture politely, as though they had to make the best of listening to club women discuss fun with hydrangeas. Bobby Lembeck's attention had strayed. Ed Mavole, who was still firmly convinced that he had just finished the most active three-day pass of his Army career, had to stuff a fist into his mouth to conceal a yawn. Captain Marco looked from Shaw to Yen Lo to Gomel to Berezovo's recording assistant, a fine-looking piece with a passionate nose who was wearing no lipstick and no brassiere. Marco mentally fitted her with a B cup, enjoyed the diversion, then turned back to try to pay attention to Yen Lo, who was saying that as formidable as were Raymond's external attributes, he possessed internal weak· nesses that Yen would show as being incredible strengths for an assassin.

"I am sure that all of you have heard that old wives' tale," Yen stated, "which is concerned with the belief that no hynotized subject may be forced to do that which is repellent to his moral nature, whatever that is, or to his own best in· terests. That is nonsense, of course. You note-takers might set down a reminder to consult Brenmen's paper, 'Experiments in the Hypnotic Production of Antisocial and Self· injurious Behavior,' or Wells' 1941 paper which was titled, I believe, 'Experiments in the Hypnotic Production of Crime,' or Andrew Salter's remarkable book, Conditioned Reflex Therapy, to name only three. Or, if it offends you to think that only the West is studying how to manufacture more crime and better criminals against modern shortages, I suggest Krasnogorski's Primary Violence Motivation or Serov's The Unilateral Suggestion to Self-Destruction. For any of you who are interested in massive negative conditioning there is Frederic Wenham's The Seduction of the Innocent, which demonstrates how thousands have been brought to antisocial actions through children's cartoon books. However, enough of that. You won't read them anyway. The point I am making is that those who speak of the need for hypnotic suggestion to fit a subject's moral code should revise their concepts. The conception of people acting against their own best interests should not startle us. We see it occasionally in sleepwalking and in politics, every day."

Raymond sighed. The youngest man on Gomel's staff, seated farthest back in the rows of irregularly placed chairs, picked his nose surreptitiously through the ensuing silence. Berezovo's recording assistant, her breasts pointing straight out through the cotton blouse without benefit of B cup, stared at Marco just below the belt buckle. The Chinese had become aware of how much Comrade Gomel smelled like a goat. Bobby Lembeck was thinking about Marie Louise.

Most of the Russians understood clearly that what Yen Lo had done was to concentrate the purpose of all propaganda upon the mind of one man. They knew that reflexes could be conditioned to the finest point so that if the right person leveled his finger from the right place at the right time and cried "Deviationist!" or "Trotskyite" that any man's character could be assassinated or a man could be liquidated. Conditioning was intensified repetition.

Ed Mavole had to go to the john. He looked furtively to the right and left, then he caught Marco's eye and made a desperate series of lifts with his eyebrows combined with some compulsive face tics. Marco coughed. Yen Lo looked over at him serenely, then nodded. Marco went to Yen's side and whispered a message. Yen shouted a command in Chinese and a man appeared in the open doorway at the back of the auditorium. Yen suggested that Mavole follow that man and he told Mavole not to be embarrassed, because the ladies did not understand Chinese. Mavole thanked him, then he turned to the line of sitting soldiers and said, "Anybody else?" Bobby Lembeck joined him and they left the room. Marco returned to his chair. Gomel demanded to know what the hell was going on anyway. Yen Lo explained, deadpan, in Russian, and Gomel made an impatient, exasperated face.

Yen Lo carried his thesis forward. Neurotics and psychotics, he told the group, are too easily canted into unpredictable patterns and the constitutional psychopaths, those total waste products of all breeding, were too frivolously based. Of course, he explained, the psychotic group known as paranoiacs had always provided us with the great leaders of the world and always would. That was a clinical, historical fact. With their dedicated sense of personal mission (a condition that has been allowed to become tainted semantically, he pointed out, with the psychiatric label of megalomania), with their innate ability to falsify hampering conditions of the past to prevent unwanted distortion of the future, with that relentless, protective cunning that places the whole world, in revolving turn, into position as their enemies, paranoiacs simply had to be placed in the elite stock of any leader pool.

Mavole and Lembeck came back, picking their way carefully through the chairs and moving very properly, Mavole leading. They climbed back upon the platform almost daintily while the speaker and the audience waited politely. Mavole inadvertently broke wind as he sat down. He excused himself with a startled exclamation and flushed with embarrassment before all those garden ladies. His consternation sent Gomel into barking laughter. Yen Lo waited icily until the commissar had finished his pleasure, whacking his packed thighs and wheezing, then pointing his stunted finger up at Mavole on the platform while he guffawed helplessly. When the laughter finally subsided, Yen threw an aside at his countrymen in Chinese. They tittered like thlibii, which shut Gomel up. Yen Lo continued blandly.

"Although the paranoiacs make the great leaders, it is the resenters who make their best instruments because the resenters, those men with cancer of the psyche, make the great assassins." His audience was listening intently again.

"It is difficult to define true resentment for you. The Spanish medical philosopher Dr. Gregorio Maranon described it as a passion of the mind. Some blow of life which produces a sharp moan of protest, when it is not transformed by the normal mental mechanism into ordinary resignation, ends by becoming the director of our slightest reactions. Raymond's mother helped to bring about his condition to the largest and most significant extent for, in Andrew Salter's words, 'the human fish swim about at the bottom of the great ocean of atmosphere and they develop psychic injuries as they collide with one another. Most mortal of all are the wounds gotten from the parent fish.'

"It has been said," the Chinese doctor continued, "that only the man who is capable of loving everything is capable of understanding everything. The resentful man is a human with the capacity for affection so poorly developed that his understanding for the motives of others very nearly does not exist," Yen Lo patted Raymond's shoulder sympathetically and smiled down at him regretfully. "Raymond is a man of melancholic and reserved psychology. He is afflicted with total resentment. It is slowly fomenting within him before your eyes. Raymond's heart is arid. At the core of his defects is his concealed tendency to timidity, sexual and social, both of which are closely linked, which he hides behind that formidably severe and haughty cast of countenance. This weakness of will is compounded by his constant need to lean upon someone else's will, and now, at last, that has been taken care of for the rest of Raymond's life."

"Has the man ever killed anyone?" Berezovo asked loudly.

"Have you ever murdered anyone, Raymond?" Yen Lo asked the young man solicitously.

"No, sir."

"Have you ever killed anyone?"

"No, sir."

"Not even in combat?"

"In combat, yes, sir. I think so, sir."

"Thank you, Raymond. Dr. Maranon tells us that resentment is entirely impersonal, as opposed to hatred, which has a strictly individual cast and presupposes a duel between the hater and the hated. The reaction of the resenter is directed against destiny." The pace of Yen Lo's voice slowed and it had softened when he spoke again. "Pity Raymond, if you can. Beneath his sad and stony mask, wary and hypocritical, you must remember that his every act, every thought, and all of his ends, are permeated with an indefinable bitterness. An infinite anguish must mark his life. He flees the world to find himself in solitude and solitude terrifies him because it is too close to his despair. His soul has been rubbed to shreds between the ambivalence of wanting and not wanting; of being able and unable; of loving and hating; and, as Dr. Maranon has demonstrated, his feeling lives like two brothers, at one and the same time Siamese twins and deadly enemies."

The commission stared at this dream by Lavrenti Beria: the perfectly prefabricated assassin, this bored, too handsome, blond young man with the pointed chin and the pointed ears, whose mustard-colored eyes looked through them as a cat's would, and who would not be able to stop destroying once the instructions had been fed into him. All but four of them had had experience in one soviet or another with the old-fashioned, wild-eyed, cause-torn name-killers of the domestic politics of the past twenty-five years, and every one of those had been a shaky, thousand-to-one shot as far as being able to guarantee success, but here was Caesar's son to be sent into Caesar's chamber to kill Caesar. Steady, responsible, shock-proof assassins were needed at home because assassination was a stratagem requiring secrecy and control, and if an assassination were not to be committed secretly then it had to be arranged discreetly and smoothly so that the ruling cliques realized that it was an occasion not to be advertised. If the assassin were to be used in the West, as this one would be, where sensationalism is not only desirable but politically essential, the blow needed to be struck at exactly the right time and place, at a national emotional apogee, as it were, so that the selected messiah who would succeed the slain ruler could then defend all of his people from the threatening and monstrous element at whose doorstep the assassination of an authentic national hero could swiftly and effectively be laid.

Berezovo was thinking of Yen Lo's proud claim of prolonging posthypnotic amnesia into eternity. Berezovo had been life-trained in security work, particularly that having to do with Soviet security problems in North America, where this killer would operate. If a normally conditioned Anglo- Saxon could be taught to kill and kill, then to have no memory of having killed, or even of having had the thought of killing, he could feel no guilt. If he could feel no guilt he could not fall into the trap of betraying fear of being caught. If he could not feel guilt or the fear of being caught he would remain an outwardly normal, productive, sober, and respectful member of his community so that, as Berezovo saw it, this killer was very close to being police-proof and the method by which he was created must be very, very carefully controlled in its application to other men within the Soviet Union. Specifically, within Moscow. More specifically within the Kremlin.

Gomel was multiplying Raymond. If Yen Lo could manufacture one of these he could manufacture an elite corps of what could be the most extraordinary personal troops a leader could have. By having immutable loyalty built into a cadre of perhaps one hundred men a leader could not only take power but he would become unseatable because after the flawless, selfless guardians had removed the others they could be conditioned to take portfolios under the new leader from which they would never, never plot against the new leader and would reflexively choose to die themselves rather than see any harm come to him. Cornel felt himself grow taller but, all at once, he thought of the power of Yen Lo and it spoiled his vision. Yen Lo would have to manufacture these assistants. Who would ever know what else he had built into their minds, such as acting to kill within an area where they were supposed to be utterly immobile? He had disliked Yen Lo before this but now he began to feel a bitter hatred toward him. But what could be done to such a man? How could fear be put into him to control him? Who knew but that he had conditioned other unknown men to strike at all authority if they were to hear of Yen Lo's arrest or death by violence, or for that matter, death under any circumstances whatsoever?

Marco knew he was sick but he did not know, nor did he seem to be able to make himself learn how to know why he thought he was sick. He could see Raymond sitting in calmness. He knew they were waiting out a storm in the Spring Valley Hotel, twenty-three miles from Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, and that they had been lucky indeed to have been offered the hospitality of the lobby, which, as everyone knew, in the off season was reserved almost exclusively on Wednesday afternoons for the Spring Valley Garden Club. He was conscious of boredom because he had little interest in flowers except as a dodge to jolly a girl into bed, and although these ladies had been very kind and very pleasant they were advanced in terms of years beyond his interest in women. That was it. There it was. Yet he sat among them distorted by the illusion that he was facing a lieutenant general of the Soviet Army, three Chinese, five staff officers, and six civilians who were undoubtedly Russian because the bottoms of their trousers were two feet wide and the beige jackets seemed to have been cut by a drunken chimpanzee, plus one randy broad who never took her eyes off his pants. He knew it was some kind of psychiatric hallucination. He knew he was sick, but he could not, on the other hand, figure out why he thought he was sick. Spring Valley was a beautiful, lazy place. A lovely, lovely, lazy, lazy place. Spring Valley.

Yen Lo was explaining his methods of procedure. The first descent into the deep unconscious, he explained, was drug-induced. Then, after the insistence of various ideas and instructions which were far too tenuous to take up time with, the subject was pulled out for the first time and four tests were made to determine the firmness of the deep control plant. The total immersion time into the unconscious mind of the subject during the first contact had been eleven hours. The second descent was light-induced. The subject, after further extensive suggestion which took up seven and three-quarter hours and required far less technique than the first immersion, was then pulled out again. A simple interrogation test based upon the subject's psychiatric dossier, which the security force had so skillfully assembled over the years, and a series of physical reflexive tests, were followed by conditioning for control of the subject by hand and symbol signal, and by voice command. The critical application of deep suggestion was observed during the first eleven hours of immersion when the primary link to all future control was set in. To this unbreakable link would be hooked future links that would represent individual assignments which would motivate the subject and which would then be smashed by the subject's own memory, or mnemonic apparatus, on a presignaled system emanating from the first permanent link. At the instant he killed, Raymond would forget forever that he had killed.

Yen Lo looked smug for an instant, but he wiped the expression off before anyone but Berezovo had an opportunity to register it. So far, so good, he said. The subject could not ever remember what he had done under suggestion, or what he had been told to do, or who had instructed him to do it. This eliminated altogether the danger of internal psychological friction resulting from feelings of guilt or from the fear of capture by authorities, and the external danger existent in any police interrogation, no matter how severe.

"With all of that precision in psychological design," Yen said, "the most admirable, the most far-reaching characteristic of this extraordinary technology of mine is the manner in which it provides for the refueling of the conditioning, and this factor will operate wherever the subject may be -- two feet or five thousand miles away from Yen Lo -- and utterly independently of my voice or any assumed reality of my personal control. Incidentally, while we're on that subject, we presented one of these refueling devices to the chairman of your subrural electrification program who faced a somewhat lonely and uncomfortably cold winter on the Gydan Peninsula. Our subject was a thoroughly conditioned young ballet dancer whom the commissar had long admired, but she was most painfully, from his view, married to a young man whom she loved not only outrageously but to the exclusion of all others. Comrade Stalin took pity on him and called me. By using our manual of operating instructions he found himself with the beautiful, very young, very supple dancer who never wore clothes because they made her freezing cold and who undertook conditioned sexual conceptions which were so advanced that the commissar's winter passed almost before he knew it had started."

They roared with laughter. Gomel slapped welts on his thighs with his horny hand. The recording assistant beside Berezovo couldn't stop giggling: a treble one-note giggle which was so comical that soon everyone was laughing at her giggle as well as Yen Lo's story. Berezovo finally rapped on the wooden back of the chair in front of him with the naked bayonet he was carrying. Everyone but Gomel stopped laughing in mid-note, but Gomel had just about laughed himself out and was wiping his eyes and shaking his head, thinking of what could be done with a beautiful, nubile young woman who had also been conditioned to kill efficiently.

"Now," Yen Lo said, "to operate Raymond it amused me to choose as his remote control any ordinary deck of playing cards. They offer clear, colorful symbols that, in ancient, monarchical terms, contain the suggestion of supreme authority. They are easily obtainable by Raymond anywhere in his country and, after a time, he will probably take to carrying a deck of the cards with him. Very good. I will demonstrate." He turned to the sergeant. "Raymond, why don't you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?" Raymond sat erect and looked alertly at Yen Lo. "Pull that table over, Raymond," the old Chinese said. Raymond walked to stage right and carried back with him a small table on whose top had been placed a pack of cards. He sat down.

"The first refueling key was the sentence suggesting solitaire in those exact words, which unlocks his basic conditioning. Then the queen of diamonds, in so many ways reminiscent of Raymond's dearly loved and hated mother, is the second key that will clear his mechanism for any assignments." As Yen spoke, Raymond had been shuffling the cards and was laying out the seven-card spread that is variously called solitaire, Klondike, or patience.

"He will play the game until the queen of diamonds enters the play, which will be soon because we arranged it that way to save your time. Ah, here it is." Raymond's play had turned up the queen. He scooped all the other cards together neatly. He squared them, placed them face down on the table, and put the queen of diamonds face up on top of the pack, then sat back to watch the card with offhand interest, his manner entirely normal.

"May I have that bayonet, please?" Yen Lo asked General Berezovo.

"Not with the knife," Gomel barked. "With the hands."

"His hands?" Yen responded distastefully.

"Here," Berezovo said. "Have him use this." He handed a white silk scarf to an assistant who carried it to Yen Lo. Yen knotted the scarf tightly in three close places, speaking to Raymond as he did so.

"Raymond, whom do you dislike the least in your group who are here today?"

"The least?"

"That's right."

"Well -- I guess Captain Marco, sir."

"Notice how he is drawn always to authority?" Yen asked the group. Then he said to Raymond. "That won't do. We will need the captain to get you your medal. Whom else?" Both Gomel's and Berezovo's translators were right at their masters' ears, keeping up with the conversation in English on the stage.

"Well --" It was a difficult question. Raymond disliked the rest of them in the same detached and distant way. "Well, I guess Ed Mavole, sir."


"He is a funny fellow, sir. I mean very humorous. And he never seems to complain. Not while I'm around, anyway."

"Very good, Raymond. Now. Take this scarf and strangle Ed Mavole to death."

"Yes, sir."

Raymond got up from the table and took the scarf from Yen. He walked to the end of the line of seated men at stage left, then moved along behind the row to a position directly behind Mavole, fifth man from the end. Mavole was chewing gum rapidly and trying to watch both Yen and Raymond at the same time. Raymond looped the scarf around Mavole's throat.

"Hey, Sarge. Cut it out. What is this?" Mavole said irritably, only because it was Raymond.

"Quiet, please, Ed," Yen said with affectionate sternness. "You just sit there quietly and cooperate."

"Yes, sir," Mavole said.

Yen nodded to Raymond, who pulled at either end of the white scarf with all of the considerable strength of his long arms and deep torso and strangled Ed Mavole to death among his friends and his enemies in the twenty-first year of his life, producing a terrible sight and terrible sounds. Berezovo dictated steadily to his recording assistant who made notes and watched Mavole at the same time, showing horror only far back behind the expression in her eyes. As she set down the last Berezovo observation she excused herself, turned aside, and vomited. Leaning over almost double, she walked rapidly from the room, pressing a handkerchief to her face and retching.

Gomel watched the strangling with his lips pursed studiously and primly. He belched. "Pardon me," he said to no one at all.

Raymond let the body drop, then walked along the line of men to the end of the row, rounded it, and returned to his chair. There was a rustle of light applause which Yen Lo ignored, so it stopped almost instantly, as when inadvertent applause breaks out during an orchestral rest in the performance of a symphony.

"Very good, Raymond," Yen said.

"Yes, sir."

"Raymond, who is that little fellow sitting next to the captain?"

The sergeant looked to his right. "That's Bobby Lembeck, sir. Our mascot, I guess you could call him."

"He doesn't look old enough to be in your Army."

"Frankly, sir, he isn't old enough but there he is."

Yen opened the only drawer in the table in front of Raymond and took out an automatic pistol. "Shoot Bobby, Raymond," he ordered. "Through the forehead." He handed the pistol to Raymond who then walked along the front of the stage to his right.

"Hi, Ben," he said to the captain.

"Hiya, kid."

Apologizing for presenting his back to the audience, Raymond then shot Bobby Lembeck through the forehead at point-blank range. He returned to his place at the table, offering the pistol butt to Yen Lo who motioned that it should be put in the drawer. "That was very good, Raymond," he said warmly and with evident appreciation. "Sit down." Then Yen turned to face his audience and made a deep, mock-ceremonial bow, smiling with much self-satisfaction.

"Oh, marvelous!" the shorter Chinese, Wen Ch'ang, cried out in elation.

"You are to be congratulated on a most marvelous demonstration, Yen Lo," said the other Chinese, Pa Cha, loudly and proudly, right on top of his colleague's exclamation. The Russians broke out into sustained applause and were tasteful enough not to yell "Encore!" or "Bis!" in the bourgeois French manner. The young lieutenant who had been picking his nose shouted "Bravo!" then immediately felt very silly. Gomel, who was applauding as heavily and as rapidly as the others, yelled hoarsely, "Excellent! Really, Yen, really, really, excellent!" Yen Lo put one long forefinger to his lips in an elaborate gesture. The line of soldiers watched the demonstration from the stage with tolerance, even amusement. Yen turned to them. The force of the bullet velocity at such close range had knocked little Bobby Lembeck over backward in his chair. His corpse without a forehead, never having known a fat lady or a tall one, sprawled backward with its feet still hooked into the front legs of the overturned chair, as though it were a saddle which had slipped off a running colt.

Mavole's body had fallen forward. The color of the face was magenta into purple and the eyes seemed to pop out toward Yen in a diligent effort to pay him the utmost attention.

The other men of the patrol sat relaxed, with the pleasant look of fathers with hang-overs who are enjoying watching a little girls' skating party in the moist, cool air of an indoor rink on a Saturday morning.

"Captain Marco?" Yen said briskly.

"Yes, sir."

"To your feet, Captain, please."

"Yes, sir."

"Captain, when you return with your patrol to your command headquarters what will be among the first duties you will undertake?"

"I will submit my report on the patrol, sir."

"What will you report?"

"I will recommend urgently that Sergeant Shaw be posted for the Medal of Honor, sir. He saved our lives and he took out a full company of enemy infantry."

"A full company!" Gomel said indignantly when this sentence was translated to him. "What the hell is this?"

"We can spare an imaginary company of infantry for this particular plan, Mikhail," Berezovo said irritably.

"All right! If we are out to humiliate our brave Chinese ally in the newspapers of the world we might as well go ahead and make it a full battalion," Gomel retorted, watching the Chinese representatives carefully as he spoke.

"We don't object, Comrade," the older Chinese said. "I can assure you of that."

"Not at all," said the younger Chinese official.

"However, thank you for thinking of the matter in that light, just the same," said the first Chinese.

"Not at all," Gomel told him.

"Thank you, Captain Marco," Yen Lo told the officer. "Thank you, everyone," he told the audience. "That will be all for this session. If you will assemble your questions, we will review here in one hour, and in the meantime I believe General Kostroma has opened a most pleasant little bar for all of us." Yen motioned Raymond to his feet. Then, putting an arm around his shoulders, he walked him out of the auditorium saying, "We will have some hot tea and a chat, you and I, and to show my appreciation for the way you have worked today, I am going to dip into your unconscious and remove your sexual timidity once and for all." He smiled broadly at the young man. "More than that no man can do for you, Raymond," he said, and they passed from the room, out of the view of the patient, seated patrol.


There was a final review for the patrol that evening, conducted by Yen Lo's staff as a last brush-up to recall the details of the imaginary engagement against the enemy that, in fantasy, Raymond had destroyed. In all, Yen Lo's research staff provided four separate versions of the over-all feat of arms, as those versions might have been witnessed from four separate vantage points III the action and then later exchanged between members of the patrol. Each patrol member had been drilled in individual small details of what Raymond had done to save their lives. They had been taught to mourn Mavole and Bobby Lembeck who had been cut off before Raymond could save them. They had absorbed their lessons well and now admired, loved, and respected Raymond more than any other man they had ever known. Their brains had not merely been washed, they had been dry-cleaned.

The captain was taught more facets of the lie than the others because he would have observed the action with a schooled eye and also would have assembled everyone else's report. Raymond did not attend the final group drill. Yen had locked in his feat of valor personally, utilizing a pioneer development of induced autoscopic hallucination which allowed Raymond to believe he had seen his own body image projected in visual space, and he had given the action a sort of fairly-tale fuzziness within Raymond's mind so that it would never seem as real to him as it always would remain to most of the other members of the patrol. By seeming somewhat unreal it permitted Raymond to project a sense of what would seem like admirable modesty to those who would question Raymond about it.

The patrol, less Ed Mavole and Bobby Lembeck, was loaded aboard a helicopter that night and flown into central Korea, near the west coast, not too far from where they had been captured. The Soviet pilot set the plane down on a sixteen-foot-square area that had been marked by flares. After that, no more than seventy minutes after they had been pointed on their way, the patrol came up to a U.S. Marine Corps outfit near Haeju, and they were passed back through the lines until they reached their own outfit the next afternoon. They had been missing in action for just less than four days, from the night of July 8 to the mid-afternoon of July 12. The year was 1951.


In the deepening twilight hours after the Americans had been sent back to their countrymen and his own work in the sector had been completed, Yen Lo sat with the thirty boys and girls of his staff in the evening circle on the lovely lawn behind the pavilion. He would tell them the beautiful old stories later when the darkness had come. While they had light he made his dry jokes about the Russians and amused them or startled them or flabbergasted them with the extent of his skill at origami, the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding. Working with squares of colored papers, Yen Lo astonished them with a crane that flapped its wings when he pulled its tail, or a puffed-up frog that jumped at a stroke along its back, or a bird that picked up paper pellets, or a praying Moor, a talking fish, or a nun in black and gray. He would hold up a sheet of paper, move his hands swiftly as he paid out the gentle and delicious jokes, and lo! -- wonderment dropped from his fingers, the paper had come to life, and magic was everywhere in the gentling evening air.
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Postby admin » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:23 am

Chapter 3

The nation guards its highest tribute for valor jealously. In the Korean War only seventy-seven Medals of Honor were awarded, with 5,720,000 personnel engaged. Of the 16,112,566 U.S. armed forces mobilized in World War II, only two hundred and ninety-two Medals of Honor were awarded. The Army reveres its Medal of Honor men, living and dead, above all others. A theater commander who later became President and a President who had formerly been an artillery captain both said that they would rather have the right to wear the Medal of Honor than be President of the United States.

After Abraham Lincoln signed the Medal of Honor bill on July 12, 1862, the decoration was bestowed in multitude; on one occasion to every member of a regiment. The first Medal of Honor was awarded by Secretary of War Stanton on March 15, 1863, to a soldier named Parrott who had been doing a bit of work in mufti behind enemy lines. Counting medals that were later revoked, about twenty-three hundred of them were awarded in the Civil War era, up to 1892. Hundreds were poured out upon veterans of the Indian campaigns, specifying neither locales nor details of bravery beyond "bravery in scouts and actions against the Indians."

In 1897, for the first time, eyewitness accounts were made mandatory and applications could not be made by the candidate for the honor but had to be made by his commanding officer or some other individual who had personally witnessed his gallantry in action. The recommendation had to be made within one year of the feat of arms. Since 1897, when modern basic requirements were set down, only five hundred and seventy-seven Medals of Honor have been awarded to a total of 25,000,000 Americans in arms, which is why the presence of a medal winner can bring full generals to their feet, saluting, and has been known to move them to tears.

In 1904 the medal was protected from imitators and jewelry manufacturers when it was patented in its present form by its designer, Brigadier General George L. Gillespie. On December 19, 1904, he transferred the patent to "W. H. Taft and his successor or successors as Secretary of War of the United States of America." In 1916, the Congress awarded to Medal of Honor winners a special status, providing the medal had been won by an action involving actual conflict with the enemy, distinguished by conspicuous gallantry or intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. The special status provided that the Medal of Honor winner may travel free of charge in military aircraft; his son may get Presidential assistance in an appointment to West Point or Annapolis; if he is an enlisted man two dollars extra per month is added to his pay, and when he reaches the age of sixty-five he becomes eligible to receive a pension of $120 per year from which, if he smokes one package of cigarettes a day, he would have $11.85 left over for rent, food, hospitalization, entertainment, education, recreation, philanthropies, and clothing.

An Army board was convened in 1916 to review all instances of the award of the Medal of Honor since 1863 to determine whether or not any Medal of Honor had been awarded or issued "for any cause other than distinguished conduct involving actual conflict with the enemy." Nine hundred and eleven names were stricken from the list, and lesser decorations were forthwith created so that, as Congress had demanded, "the Medal of Honor would be more jealously guarded."

There was every reason for the awe in which Medal of Honor men were held. Some of their exploits included such actions as: had taken eight prisoners, killing four of the enemy in the process, while one leg and one arm were shattered and he could only crawl because the other leg had been blown off (Edwards); had captured a hundred and ten men, four machine guns, and four howitzers (Mallon and Gumpertz); wounded five times, dragged himself across the direct fire of three enemy machine guns to pull two of his wounded men to safety amid sixty-nine dead and two hundred and three casualties (Holderman); singly destroyed a fourteen-man enemy ambush of his battalion and, in subsequent actions, with his legs mangled by enemy grenade and shot through the chest, died taking a charge of eight enemy riflemen, killing them (Baker); held his battalion's flank against advancing enemy platoons, used up two hundred rounds of ammunition, crawled twenty yards under direct fire to get more, only to be assailed by another platoon of the enemy, ultimately firing six hundred rounds, killing sixty and holding off all others to be one of twenty-three out of two hundred and forty of his comrades to survive the action (Knappenburger); a defective phosphorus bomb exploding inside his plane, blinding and severely burning him, the radio operator scooped up the blazing bomb in his arms and, with incalculable difficulty, hurled it through the window (Erwin).


Raymond waited in the Rose Garden of the White House while an assistant press secretary tried to talk to him. It was a bonny sunny day. Raymond was stirred by the building near him; moved by the color of the green, green grass. Raymond was tom and shamed and he felt soiled everywhere his spirit could feel. Raymond felt exalted, too. He felt proud of the building near him and proud of the man he was about to meet.

Raymond's mother was across the garden with the press people, pulling her husband along behind her, explaining with brilliant smiles and leers when necessary that he was the new senator and Raymond's father. Raymond, fortunately, could not hear her but he could watch her hand out cigars. They both handed out cigars whether the press people wanted cigars or not. Raymond's mother was dressed up to about eight hundred dollars' worth of the best taste on the market. The only jarring note was the enormous black purse she carried. It looked like a purse. It was a portable cigar humidor. She would have given the press people money, Raymond knew, but she had sensed somehow that it would be misunderstood.

All the cameras were strewn about in the grass while everybody waited for the President to arrive. Raymond wondered what would they do if he could find a sidearm some place and shoot her through the face -- through that big, toothy, flapping mouth? Look how she held Johnny down. Look how she could make him seem docile and harmless. Look how she had kept him sober and had made him seem quiet and respectable as he shook hands so tentatively and murmured. Johnny Iselin was murmuring! He was crinkling his thick lips and making them prissy as he smirked under that great fist of a nose and two of the photographers (they must be his mother's tame photographers) were listening to him as though he were harmless.

The airport. O Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. She had got the AP photographer by the fleshy part of his upper right arm and she had got Johnny by the fleshy part of his upper left arm and she had charged them forward across that concrete apron at the National Airport yelling at the ramp men, "Get Shaw off first! Get that sergeant down here!" and the action and the noises she made had pulled all thirty news photographers and reporters along behind her at a full run while the television newsreel truck had rolled along sedately abreast of her, filming everything for the world to see that night, and thank God they were not shooting with sound.

The lieutenant had pushed him out of the plane and his mother had pushed Johnny at him and Johnny had pulled him down the ramp so he wouldn't look too much taller in the shot. Then to make sure, Raymond's mother had yelled, "Get on that ramp, Johnny, and hang onto him." Johnny gripped his right hand and held his right elbow, and towered over him. Raymond's mother didn't say hello. She hadn't seen him for over two years but she didn't say hello and neither did Johnny. Thank God they were a family who didn't waste a lot of time on talking, Raymond thought.

Johnny kept grinning at him insanely and the pupils of his eyes were open at about f.09 with the sedation she had loaded into him. The pressmen were trying to keep their places in a tight semicircle and, as always at one of those public riots where every man had been told to get the best shot, the harshest, most dominating shouter finally solved it for all the others: one big Italian-looking photographer yelled at nobody at all, "Get the mother in there, fuh crissake! Senator! Get your wife in there, fuh crissake!" Then Raymond's mother caught on that she had goofed but good and she hurled herself in on Raymond's offside and hung off his neck, kissing him again and again until his cheek glistened with spit, cheating to the cameras about thirty degrees, and snarling at Johnny between the kisses, "Pump his hand, you jerk. Grin at the cameras and pump his hand. A TV newsreel is working out there. Can't you remember anything?" And Johnny got with it.

It had taken about seven minutes of posing, reposing, standing, walking toward the cameras, then the photographers broke ranks and Raymond's mother grabbed Johnny's wrist and took off after them.

The assistant press secretary from the White House steered Raymond to a car, and the next time Raymond saw his mother she was handing out cigars in the Rose Garden and paying out spurts of false laughter.

Everybody got quiet all of a sudden. Even his mother. They all looked alert as the President came out. He looked magnificent. He was ruddy and tall and he looked so entirely sane that Raymond wanted to put his head on the President's chest and cry because he hadn't seen very many sane people since he had left Ben Marco.

He stood at attention, eyes forward.

The President said, "At ease, soldier." The President leaned forward to pick up Raymond's right hand from where it dangled at his side and as he shook it warmly he said, "You're a brave man, Sergeant. I envy you in the best sense of that word because there is no higher honor your country has to give than this medal you will receive today." Raymond watched his mother edge over. With horror, he saw the jackal look in her eyes and in Johnny's. The President's press secretary introduced Senator Iselin and Mrs. Iselin, the sergeant's mother. The President congratulated them. Raymond heard his mother ask for the honor of a photograph with the President, then moved her two tame photographers in with a quick low move of her left hand. The others followed, setting up.

The shot was lined up. Raymond's mother was on the President's left. Raymond was on the President's right. Johnny was on Raymond's right. Just before the bank of press cameras took the picture, Mrs. Iselin took out a gay little black-on-yellow banner on a brave little gilded stick and held it over Raymond's head. At least it seemed that she must have meant it to be held only over Raymond's head, but when the pictures came out in the newspapers the next day, then in thousands of newspapers all over the world beginning three and a half years hence, and with shameful frequency in many newspapers after that, it was seen that the gay little banner had been held directly over the President's head and that the lettering on it read: JOHNNY ISELIN'S BOY.
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Postby admin » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:23 am

Chapter 4

In 1940, Raymond's mother had divorced his father, a somewhat older man, while she was six months pregnant with a second child, to marry Raymond's father's law partner, John Yerkes Iselin, who had a raucous laugh and a fleshy nose. There was more than the usual talk in their community that loud, lewd Johnny Iselin was the father of the unborn child.

Raymond had been twelve years old at the time of his mother's remarriage. He hadn't particularly liked his father but he disliked his mother so much more that he felt the loss keenly. In later years the second son, Raymond's brother, could have been said to have favored noisy Johnny more than did the dour and silent Raymond, as he had many of the identical interests in making sounds for the sake of making sounds, and also the early suggestion of a nose that promised to be equally fleshy -- but Raymond's brother died in 1948, greatly helping John Iselin's bid for the governorship by interjecting that element of human sympathy into the campaign.

The unquestionable fact was that Eleanor Shaw's marriage to John Iselin was a scandal and the questions that aroused curiosity must have been an insufferable torment in the mind of young Raymond as his awakening consciousness absorbed the details which kept filtering fresh drops of bitterness into his memory.

Raymond's father had paused with his grief for six years before killing himself. At this disposition, Raymond, if no one else, was inconsolable. In the driving rain, in the presence of so few witnesses, most of whom having been rented through the funeral director, he made a graveside oration. As he spoke he looked only at his mother. He told, in a high-pitched, tight voice, of what an incomparably noble man his father had been and other boyish balderdash like that. To Raymond, from that day in 1940 when he had seen his father's tears, his mother would always be a morally adulterous woman who had deserted her home and had brought sadness upon her husband's venerable head.

Iselin, the stepfather, was doubly hateful because he had offended, humiliated, and betrayed a noble man by robbing him of his wife, and because he seemed to make noises with every movement and every part of his body, forsaking silence awake and asleep; belching, bawling, braying, blaspheming; snoring or shouting; talking, always, always, never stopping talking.

Raymond's father and Johnny Iselin had been law partners until 1935 when Johnny had switched his party affiliations to run for judge of the three-county Thirteenth Judicial District. The announcement of his candidacy had come as a staggering blow to his partner and benefactor who had had his heart set for some time on running for the circuit judgeship in that district, so words were exchanged and the partnership was dissolved.

Johnny had noise and muscle on his side in anything he ever decided to do. He won the election. He served for four years before the State Supreme Court rebuked him for improper conduct on the bench. Judge Iselin had found it necessary to order the destruction of a portion of the record and had, in general, created "a highly improper and regrettable state of affairs," but, simultaneously, he had earned himself a nice thirty-five hundred dollar off-bench fee.

Johnny always kept his gift for merchandising justice. Just about ten months after the exhibitionistic politicking by the State Supreme Court against him, he began to grant quickie divorces to couples not resident in his judicial district. Later, records indicated that in several of these cases, one of the principals, or their attorneys, or both, were active in supporting Johnny's political pretensions, sometimes with cash. His practice of favoring the generous gave at least one editorial writer his morning angle when the Journal, the state's largest daily, wrote: "Is state justice to be used to accommodate the political supporters of the presiding judge? Are our courts to become the place in which to settle political debts?" By this time Raymond's mother had seen her duty and had taken to lolling around on a bed with Johnny in a rented-by-the-hour-or-afternoon summer home near a gas station off a secondary highway. When she finished reading that editorial aloud to Johnny she snorted and described the editorial writer, whom she had never met, as a jerk.

"You are so right, baby," Johnny had answered.

The most famous case Judge Iselin ever disposed of on the circuit bench was reflected in the consequences of his granting a divorce in the case of Raymond's mother versus Raymond's father. The newspapers paid out the juicy facts that Mr. Shaw had been Judge Iselin's law partner. Second, they announced that Mrs. Shaw was six months pregnant and ran a front-page picture that made her look as though she had strapped a twenty-one-inch television set to her middle. Thirdly, the readers were told that Mrs. Shaw and Judge Iselin would become man and wife as soon as the divorce became final. Raymond's mother had been twenty-nine years old at the time. Judge Iselin was thirty-two. Raymond's father was forty-eight.

Mr. Shaw had married Raymond's mother when she was sixteen years old, after two ecstatic frictions on an automobile seat. Raymond had been born when she had just reached seventeen. During the thirteen years of her marriage to Raymond's father she had been a member or officer or founder or affiliate of organizations including: the St. Agnes Music Club, the Parent-Teachers' Association, the Association of Inner Wheel Clubs, the Honest Ballot Association, the International Committee for Silent Games, the Auxiliary Society of the Professional Men's League, the Third Way Movement, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Permanent International Committee of Underground Town Planning, the Good Citizen's Shield, the Joint Distribution Committee for Anti-Fascist Spain, the Scrap Metal User's Joint Bureau, the International Symposium on Passivity, the American Friends of the Soviet Union, the Ladies' Auxiliary of the American Legion, the Independent Order, the English- Speaking Union, the International Congress for Surface Activity, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the International Union for the Protection of Public Morality, the Society for the Abolition of Blasphemy Laws, the Community Chest, the Audubon League, the League of Professional Women, the American-Scandinavian Association, the Dame Maria Van Slyke Association for the Abolition of Canonization, the Eastern Star, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Memorial Fund, and others. Raymond's mother had, quite early in life, achieved an almost abnormal concentration upon an interest in local, state, and national politics. She used all organizations to claw out recognition for herself within her chosen community. Her ambition was an extremely distressing condition. She sought power the way a superstitious man might look for a four-leaf clover. She didn't care where she found it. It would make no difference if it were growing out of a manure pile.

The newspapers knew the three sets of facts about Raymond's mother's divorce because Raymond's mother, always keeping an eye upon a public future, had made sure they were told about it in a series of letters which she had typed without signature and mailed herself the day before the divorce action had reached Judge Iselin's court. She had explained to Johnny why she was going to do it before she did it. She made it clear that the entire thing would serve to humanize him like nothing else could, later on. "Every one of the jerks lives in the middle of one continuous jam," she had explained sympathetically, the jerks being the great American people in this instance. "Isn't it better if they think you got me this way than if they get the idea the baby is his and I walked out on him for you? You see what I mean, Johnny? We'd be taking his own child away from him, which is a very precious possession -- as the jerks pretend about kids while they knock them out like hot cross buns, then abandon them or ignore them. And we'll get married right away. At the split second that it becomes legal under the great American flag, see, lover? We'll be as respectable as anybody else right at that instant, except just like everybody else, underneath. You know what I mean, lover? They're all tramps in their hearts and we'll want them to identify with us when the time comes to line up at the polls. Right, sweetheart?"

Raymond's mother had not been unfaithful to his father until he had forced her into it. She had used exactly the same political blandishments on him first that she had had to use on Johnny later, and long before she had exposed either them or her body to John Iselin, which is to say that Raymond's father could have become just as big a man in the United States and the world as she eventually made Johnny, a fact that Raymond never realized in his harsh evaluation of his mother. After she had finished detailing her political plan to Raymond's father, instead of striking her, the man had actually tried to instill into her a devotion to the ancient ideals of justice, liberty, fair play, and the Republic until she had at last needed to cuckold him to be rid of him. Later on she had explained the whole thing to Johnny as though the entire sordid mess had come about as the result of her shrewd design.

The most sordid part of the sordid, rationalized mess was what it did to Raymond, but even if she had acknowledged that to herself as a mother, she knew it was worth it because for more than five years Johnny Iselin was a very big man in the United States of America and Raymond's mother ruled Johnny Iselin. So, it can be seen that Raymond's mother had been assiduously fair with her first husband. She told him how she had worked and worked behind the scenes in politics to have him run for the Senate and she laid out her sure-fire platform for him. When he heard what she proposed to have him do, her husband gave her a tongue lashing that finally made her plead for relief, so long and so hostile was its address. After that she was silent. Not for the rest of the day nor the rest of the week; she did not speak to him again until the day she left him, six months later, after deliberately seeking insemination from Judge Iselin, then leaving Raymond's father forever, holding one son by the hand and the other by the umbilicus.

Judge Iselin had been the marital candidate in reserve for some years. They had all been close friends during the time the judge and Raymond's father had been partners. As she had anticipated he would, Johnny Iselin had agreed with everything she said, which, when boiled down, expressed the conviction that the Republic was a humbug, the electorate rabble, and anyone strong who knew how to maneuver could have all the power and glory that the richest and most naive democracy in the world could bestow. Boiled down, Judge Iselin's response expressed his lifelong faith in her and in her proposition: "Just you tell me what to do, hon, and I'll get it done." Falling in love had been as simple as that because she had set out, from that moment on, to bring his appreciation of her and dependence on her to a helpless maxi· mum, and when she had finished her work he was never again to be able to recall his full sanity.

Raymond's father, having been told by his beautiful, young wife that she was with child and that he was not the father and that she would die before she would have another child by him, a coward, took it all like the booby that he was, a willingness aided and abetted by the fact that there can be no doubt that he was a registered masochist. He marched like a little soldier to the man who had double-crossed him once before, mumbling something ludicrous, such as: If you love this woman and will marry her honorably, take her; only let the decencies be observed.

The lout Iselin made a loud, garbled fuss (the whole thing took place on the porch of the country club in August), swearing and sweating that he would marry Raymond's mother just as soon as he could confer a divorce upon her, presumably even if he had to open his court on a Sunday, then marry her immediately, and never, never, never, ever, ever cast her off. He bound himself, in the presence of nine per cent of the membership, by the most frightful, if meaningless, oaths.

Secretly, Raymond's father, loving Raymond's mother as deeply as he did, regarded this infatuation of hers as a form of divine punishment on himself, having a capacity exceeded only by other humans for taking himself so seriously as to know he had been under continuous divine scrutiny, because over the period of sixteen years past as the sole executor of two large estates he had been looting, systematically, the substance of two maiden ladies and an institution-committed schizophrenic. He was so affected by these secret sins that, while he never stopped looting the two estates and it was never revealed that he had done so, it was quite clear that it would have been a matter of only slight effort to have persuaded him to give the bride away at the Iselin wedding as part of due punishment.

The result of this attitude was, naturally, that Raymond's mother felt angry and ashamed; humiliated, as it were, in the eyes of their common community, that he seemed to take the matter so calmly, giving her up so tamely as though she were a thing of little worth. She had a not inconsiderable fortune, by inheritance, as did Raymond, all from her father's estate, then her mother's estate, and she spent a fraction of it on private detectives from Chicago, trying to uncover other women in his life. She told Johnny that she would take the old bastard's skin off if he had been setting her up all this time just to get rid of her, but, of course, nothing came of the investigations, and she had to wait six years for the afternoon when he killed himself out of yearning and loneliness, by administering a large dose of barbiturate Thiopentone by intercardiac injection, causing permanent cessation of respiration within two seconds, which was little enough punctuation to fifty-four years of living. Raymond's mother admired him, technically, for the method used, and also emotionally for the act itself because, in a way, it made her look good to those who still remembered what effect he had achieved with his public dignity and cool indifference at the time she had left him. On many counts beyond his thoughtful suicide, however, she had been very, very fond of him.

Throughout their eventful life together Raymond's mother was to maintain a remarkable hold over Johnny Iselin, whom she had immediately taken to calling Big John because it sounded so bluff and hearty, so open and honest. Perhaps the truth of her hold on him will not easily be credited. The truth is that the marriage was never consummated. Johnny, that old-time mattress screamer and gasper, although throughout his life quite capable of getting and giving full satisfaction with other women, found himself as impotent as a male butterfly atop a female pterodactyl when he tried to have commerce with Raymond's mother. The only reasonable explanation was that, at bottom, Johnny was the caricature of a pious man. He was a superstitious Catholic who had ignored his faith for years, who supported none of the beauty of the religion he had been born into, but rooted and snouted out all the aboriginal hearsay it could imply concerning sin and its consequences. Johnny knew in his superstitious heart of hearts that his marriage to Raymond's mother was an impious thing and this knowledge, it seems, affected him nervously, putting an inner restraint upon his flesh. Raymond's mother, who wanted her Big John as a striking force of her ambition rather than as a lover, was extremely pleased at this response, or lack of it, and counted her blessings when she considered his sudden but continuing impotence where the celebration of her body was concerned. She calculated without hesitation that she could use it as an irresistible weapon against him.

She played all of the key scenes with consummate art; reproaching him for having lured her away from the base of her virtue, an incredible inversion of moral usage; for having torn her away from Raymond's father whom she had loved distractedly, she protested so very bitterly, by moaning, rocking, bleating, and rolling all over the bed and across the floor, if need be, as she simulated the tearing, roiling, rutting, ripping passion which she felt for him, her very own Big John.

Iselin's knowledge of these things (and he was not the first man to be so confused by this sort of excellence) was so juvenilely subjective that he made the automatic responses, as though directions for using him had come with him, clipped to the marriage certificate. She had been tricked I she would cry out, turning away and holding one hand over her heart. That distant-day passionate lover who had bounded about her body with such ardor and so inexhaustibly in that rented summer bed had turned out to be no man at all! Any bellhop, any delivery man was more of a man than he! All he could do was to bring a madness of fondling and fumbling with the flaccid kisses of a boarding-school roommate. In vain did Big John protest that with other women he was like a squad of marines after eleven weeks at sea. Either she would refuse to believe it or she would accuse him of wasting on other women what he was, at that instant, denying her. She made it clear however, that she would protect him forever from any scandal because she loved him so deeply, if never orgastically. Constant shame, unreasonable gratitude, and unslakeable passion welded him to her more closely than if they had been sharing the same digestive system -- far closer than if their mutual longings had been nightly satisfied or she had borne him a dozen fine children. Later on, after they had reached the pinnacles in Washington, when she would see to it that nubile young women were let into his chamber late at night in utter darkness to leave before dawn, felt but never seen by him, as though they had been a carnal dream, she contrived all this with such precision and remained so immutably constant to him herself that he considered this perfect proof of her love for him.

She took the most enveloping care of his health, his comfort, and his career. She was memorably faithful to him, not being naturally lustful herself except for power. In consequence he was so grateful that he let her rule all of his public and private acts. She could think much better than he could, anyway. Her basic, effective policy was to recognize that her own strength lay in her sexual austerity and in her cultivated understanding of the astonishingly simple reproductive plumbing of the human male. Throughout their lives together, no matter how melodramatic the intrigue, not only could no one ever level at her the accusation of sexual immorality, but because Big John's occasional good health sometimes overflowed too impulsively, her enemies and his enemies had to give her credit on the angel's side for her loyalty and forbearance. Frigidity preserved her from temptation. Her ambition kept her insatiably excited. Johnny's panting and clutching at the passing parade of paid virgins she happily accepted, even though this avid forgiveness betrayed her own eternal inability to reach out in darkness toward fulfillment.

One year after they had arranged for all of this bliss, the nation entered World War II, elating Raymond's mother because she saw the occasion as an acceleration of opportunity which would pull her John up the ladder of politics. She lost no time getting him set, in cartouche, against that martial background.


Raymond's mother's brother, the clot, had become a nonpolitical federal commissioner of such exalted station that it often brought her to the point of retching nausea when she encountered its passing mention in a news story. She had despised this son-of-a-bitch of a sibling ever since the far-off-summer afternoon when her beloved, wonderful, magnetic, pleasing, exciting, generous, kind, loving, and gifted father had died sitting upright in the wooden glider-swing with a history of Scandinavia in his lap and this fool they said was her brother had announced that he was head of the family. This foolish, insensitive, ignorant, beastly nothing of a boy who had felt that he could in any way, in any shocking, fractional way, take the place of a magnificent man of men. Then he had beaten her with a hockey stick because he had objected to her nailing the paw of a beige cocker spaniel to the floor because the dog was stubborn and refused to understand the most elemental instructions to remain still when she had called out the command to do so. Could she have called out and made her wondrous father stay with her when he was dying?

She had loved her father with a bond so secret, so deep, and so thrilling that it surpassed into eternity the drab feelings of the other people, all other people, particularly the feelings of her brother and her clot of a mother. She had had woman's breasts from the time she had been ten years old, and she had felt a woman's yearnings as she had lain in the high, dark attic of her father's great house, only on rainy nights, only when the other slept. She would lie in the darkness and hear the rain, then hear her father's soft, soft step rising on the stairs after he had slipped the bolt into the lock of the attic door, and she would slip out of her long woolen night dress and wait for the warmth of him and the wonder of him.

Then he had died. Then he had died.

Every compulsively brutal blow from that hockey stick in the hands of that young man who wanted so badly to be understood by his sister but who could not begin to reach her understanding or her feeling had beaten a deep distaste and contempt for all men since her father into her projective mind, and, right then, when she was fourteen years old, she entered her driving, never-to-be-acknowledged life competition with her only brother to show him which of them was the heir of that father and which of them had the right to say that he should stand in that father's shoes and place and memory. She vowed and resolved, dedicated and consecrated, that she would beat him into humiliation at whatsoever he chose to undertake, and it was to the eternal shame of their country that he chose politics and government and that she needed therefore to plunge in after him.

Her clot of a brother had absorbed the native clottishness of her mother, a clot's clot. How could her father have loved this woman? How could such a shining and thrilling and valiant knight have lain down with this great cow? Everyone who knew them said that Raymond's mother was the image of her mother.

After her beating with the hockey stick she had given her family no rest until she had been sent away to a girls' boarding school of her own choice in the Middle West. It was chosen as her natural base of operations in politics because it was in the heart of the Scandinavian immigrant country; at the chosen time the outstanding Norse nature of her father's name and his heroic origins could be turned into blocs of votes.

At sixteen, because she had taught herself to believe that she knew exactly what she wanted, no matter what she got, she escaped from the school every weekend, dressed herself to look older, and arranged to place herself in locations where she could use herself as bait. She seduced four men between the ages of thirty and forty-six, got no pleasure from it nor expected any, had definitely lost two of the contests after a gluttonous testing period, could have turned either of the remaining two in any direction she chose, decided on Raymond's father because the man had a good, open face for politics and hair that was already gray although he was only thirty-six years old. She married him and bore him Raymond as soon as the gestation cycle allowed.

Generalities, specifics, domestic manifestations, or her youth never made Raymond's mother's thinking fuzzy or got in the way of her plan. She knew, like a mousetrap knows the back of a mousie's neck, that she was far too immature to be accepted publicly as the bride of a man seeking public office. She knew that it was possible that her husband might even get slightly tarred because of her age, so she had set her own late twenties as the time when she would have Raymond's father make his move. Her reasoning was sound: by that time, when it was reported during a campaign that Raymond's father had taken a child bride of sixteen some twelve faithful, productive years before, it would have become a romantic asset and Raymond's father would be seen by women voters as a suggestively virile candidate. Meanwhile, she had accomplished her primary objective of escaping the authority of her mother, her brother, and the school. She had her share of her father's substantial estate. She had started a family unit that, with few modern exceptions, was essential to success in American politics.

Raymond's mother was an exceptionally handsome woman who was dressed in France. This was quite shrewd, because money displaces one's own taste when one chooses to be dressed in France. She was coiffed in New York and her very laundry seemed to have been washed in Joy de Patou. Her hair was straw blond, in the Viking tradition, and it was kept that way, no matter the inconvenience. Her sense of significant birth, her grinding virtue, and her carriage completed her pre-eminence in any group of women, and she assiduously recultivated all three attributes as a fleshy-plant fancier might exalt and extend orchid graftings. What was especially striking in the earlier photographs of Raymond's mother was the suggestion of a smile on her full lips as they counterfeited sensuality, and in her large ecstatic eyes, which were like those of a sexually ambitious girl. In later likenesses, such as the Time cover in 1959 (and she being of the same political party as Time's persuasion, its editors therefore made an effort to supervise a most honest likeness) where she was clad as a matron, the supple grace was gone but the perfect features and the whole figure were stamped with the adaptable and inflexible energy that marked her maturity.


One of Big John Iselin's favorite perorations in campaign oratory after the war, or rather, after Johnny's interrupted service in the war, was the recollection of what he had seen and done in battle and what he would never be able to forget "up there at the top of the world, alone with God in a great cathedral of ice and snow in the stark loneliness of arctic night where the enemy struck out of nowhere and my boys fell and I cried out piteously, 'O Lord, they are young, why must they die?' as I raced forward over ice which was thirty miles deep, pumping my machine rifle, to even the score with those Nazi devils who, in the end, came to have a superstitious fear of me."

The point Johnny seemed to want to make in this section of this speech, his favorite speech, was never quite clear, but the story carried a powerful emotional impact to those whose lives had been touched by the tragedy of war. "At night while my spent, exhausted buddies slept," he would croon into the platform microphone, "I would prop my eyes open with matchsticks and write home -- to you -- to the wives and the sweethearts and the blessed mothers of our gallant dead -- night after night as the casualties mounted -- to try to do just a little more than my part to ease the heartbreak which Mr. Roosevelt's war had caused."

The official records of the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army show that Johnny's outfit (SCB-52310) had lost all together, during the entire tour outside the continental United States, one chaplain and one enlisted man, the former from a nervous breakdown and the latter from delirium tremens (a vitamin deficiency). The outfit, whose complement was a half-company of men, had been posted in northern Greenland as defenses for the comprehensive meteorological installations that predicted the weather for the military brass lower down on the globe, operating in mobile force far up on the ice cap, mostly between Prudhoe Land and the Lincoln Sea.

The enemy's weather forecasting installations were mostly based somewhere above King Frederick VIII Land, on the other side of the subcontinent, below Independence Sea. Greenland is the largest island in the world. Both sides, although continually aware of each other, remained strictly aloof and upon those occasions where they found that they were working in sight of each other they would both move out of sight without acknowledgment, as people will act following a painful social misunderstanding. There was no question of shooting. Their work was far too important. It was essential that both sides maintain an unbroken flow of vital weather data, which was an extremely special contribution when compared to the basically uncomplicated work of fighting troops.

It just did not seem likely that even Johnny would send the families of those two casualties a different letter every night, harping on a nervous breakdown and the D.T.'s, and besides the mail pickup happened only once a month when the mail plane was lucky enough to be able to swoop low enough and at the right ground angle to be able to bring up the gibbeted mail sack on a lowered hook. If they missed after three passes they let it go until the next month, but they did bring the mail in, which was far more important, and did maintain a reasonably high average on getting it out, considering the conditions.


No citizen of the United States, including General Mac- Arthur and those who enlisted from the film community of Los Angeles, California, entered World War II with more fanfare from the local press and radio than John Yerkes Iselin. When the jolly judge arrived at the State Capitol on June 6, 1942, and announced to the massive communications complex that Raymond's mother had assembled over a two-day period from all papers throughout the state, from Chicago, and three from Washington, at an incalculable cost in whisky and food, that he had seen his duty to join up as "a private, an officer, or anything else in the United States Marine Corps," the newspapers and radio foamed with the news and the UP put the story on the main wire as a suggested boxed news feature because of Raymond's mother's angle, which had Johnny saying: "They need a judge in the Marines to judge whether they are the finest fighting men in the world, or in the universe." The Marines naturally had gotten Raymond's mother's business because, she told Johnny, they had the biggest and fastest mimeographing machines and earmarked one combat correspondent for every two fighting men.

She started to run her husband for governor as of that day, and the first five or six publicity releases emphasized strongly how this man, whose position as a public servant demanded that he not march off to war but remain home as part of the civilian task force to safeguard Our Liberties, had chosen instead, had volunteered even, to make the same sacrifices which were the privileged lot of his fellow Americans and had therefore enlisted as a buck-private marine. She had only two objectives. One was to make sure Johnny got overseas somewhere near, but not too near, the combat zones. The second was that he be assigned to a safe, healthy, pleasant job.

It was at that point that something got screwed up. It was extremely embarrassing, but fortunately she was able to patch it up so that it looked as if Johnny was even more of a patriotic masochist, but it brought her anger she was careful never to lose, and because of what happened to outrage her, it spelled out her brother's eventual ruin.

This is what happened. Through her brother, whom she had never hesitated to use, Raymond's mother had decided to negotiate for a Marine Corps commission for Johnny. She would have preferred it if Johnny had enlisted as a private so that she could arrange for a field commission for him, following some well-publicized action, but Johnny got stubborn at the last minute and said he had agreed to go through all this rigmarole to please her but he wasn't going to sit out any war as a goddam private when whisky was known to cost only ten cents a shot at all officers' clubs.

Her brother was sitting on one of the most influential wartime government commissions that spring of 1942, and the son-of-a-bitch looked her right in the eye in his own office in the Pentagon in Washington and told her that Johnny could take his chances just like anybody else and that he didn't believe in wirepulling in wartime! That was that. Furthermore, she found out immediately that he wasn't kidding. She had had to move fast and think up some other angle very quickly but she hung around her brother's office long enough to explain to him that her turn would come someday and that when it came she was going to break him in two.

She rode back to the Carlton, shocked. She blamed herself. She had underestimated that mealy-mouthed bastard. She should have seen that he had been waiting for years to turn her out like a peasant. She concentrated upon preserving her anger.

Johnny was pretty drunk when she got back to the hotel, but not too bad. She was sweet and amiable, as usual. "What am I, hon?" he asked thickly, "A cappen?" She threw her hat away from her and walked to the small Directoire desk. "A cappency is good enough for me," he said. She pulled a telephone book out of the desk drawer and began to flip through the pages. "Am I a cappen or ain't I a cappen?" he asked.

"You ain't a cappen." She picked up the phone and gave the operator the number of the Senate Office Building.

"What am I, a major?"

"You're gonna be a lousy draftee if something doesn't give," she said. "He turned us down."

"He never liked me, honey."

"What the hell has that got to do with anything. He's my brother. He won't lift a finger to help with the Marines and if we don't get an understanding set in about forty-eight hours you're going to be a draftee just like any other jerk."

"Don't worry, hon. You'll straighten it out."

"Shaddup! You hear? Shaddup!" She was pale with sickening bad temper. She spoke into the phone and asked for Senator Banstoffsen's office, and when she got the office she asked to speak to the senator. "Tell him it's Ellie Iselin. He'll know."

Johnny poured another drink, threw some ice into the glass, put some ginger ale on top of it, then shambled off toward the john, undoing his suspenders as he walked.

Raymond's mother's voice had suddenly gotten hot and sweet, although her eyes were bleak. "Ole, honey?" She paused to let those words make her point. "I mean -- is this Senator Banstoffsen? Oh, Senator. Please forgive me. It was a slip. I mean, the only way I can explain is to say -- is -- I guess that's the way I think of you all the time, I guess." She rolled her eyes toward the ceiling in disgust and sighed silently. Her voice was all breath and lust. "I'd sure like to see you. Yes. Yes." She rapped impatiently with the end of a pencil on the top of the desk. "Now. Yes. Now. Do you have a lock on that office door, lover? Yes. Ole. Yes. I'll be right there."

Johnny Iselin was sworn in as a captain in the Signal Corps of the Army of the United States on July 20, 1942. Raymond's mother had made a powerful and interested political ally in her home state, and although he didn't know it, that was not to be the last favor he would be asked to deliver for her, and sometimes he came to be bewildered by how one simple little sprawl on an office desk could get to be so endlessly, intricately complicated.


During the intensive training in Virginia necessary for the absorption of vital technical and military information, Johnny and Raymond's mother lived in a darling little cottage just outside Wellville in Nottoway County, where she had found a solid connection for black-market booze and gasoline and a contact for counterfeit red points to keep those old steaks coming in. Johnny moved out of the staging area and sailed with his outfit for Greenland in December, 1942, and Raymond's mother went back home to handle the PR work for her man. The recurring theme she chose for the first year of propaganda was hammered out along the basic lines of "Blessed is he who serves who is not called: blessed is he who sacrifices self to bring about the downfall of tyrants that others may prosper in Liberty." It was solid stuff.

She got herself a women's radio show and a women's interest newspaper column in the Journal, the biggest paper in the state and one of the best in the country. There were a lot of specialized jobs going for the asking. Mainly she read or reprinted all of Johnny's letters on every conceivable variety of subject, whether he sent her any letters or not.

The official records show that Johnny was an intelligence officer in the Army, but his campaign literature, when Raymond's mother ran him for governor, revealed that he had been "a northern Greenland combat commander." About ten years after the war was over, well after Johnny's second term as governor, the Journal did a surprising amount of careful research on Johnny's record, at considerable expense. They dug up documents, and men who had served with Johnny, and they virtually reconstructed a most careful, pertinent, and accurate history of his somewhat distorted past. A public relations officer who had been attached to Iselin's unit, a Lieutenant Jack Ramen, now of San Mateo, California, told the Journal in 1955 on a transcribed, long-distance-telephone tape recording, which was monitored by the Journal's city editor, Fred Goldberg, and witnessed by a principal clergyman and a leading physician of the state, of the lonely incident that had lent credence to the popular belief that Johnny had seen combat while in service.

"Yeah," Ramen said. "I remember the day we were both at a tiny Eskimo settlement above Etah there on Smith Sound and Johnny was looking to make some kind of good trades on furs with the natives when a supply ship the name of Midshipman Bennet Reyes came in, covered all over with ice. They were having propeller trouble and they were due in at Etah to unload groceries and while they were standing by for repairs the skipper told them to test the guns, all the guns, everything. We find out about it when Johnny and I go aboard; we were off duty, and Johnny always operates under orders from his wife to make friends no matter where. He actually brought the skipper of that ship the stiffest piece of sealskin you ever saw and made such a big thing out of it that the guy probably even kept it. He give Johnny a half gallon of pure grain alcohol to show his appreciation, and we needed it. Man, was it cold. I can never ever explain to anybody how cold it was all the time I was in the Army and, for what reason please don't ask me, the cold absolutely does not ever seem to bother Johnny. He used to say it was because his nose was radioactive. Actually, he was always so full of antifreeze that he couldn't feel much of anything. Anyway, Johnny hears these Navy guys cursing about having to test all the guns and he asks them if they will mind if he fires a few rounds because he has always wanted to shoot a gun of some kind, any kind. They look at each other quick, then say sure, he can fire every single gun on the ship if he likes. So he did. And he took some pretty rugged chances because if the Martians had attacked or he had slipped on the deck he could have hurt himself. Anyway, I had a job to do which was called public relations, so I wrote a little routine story about the 'one-man battleship' which in a certain way was strictly true. It had a certain Army flavor, and after all they weren't paying me to do public relations for the Navy, you know what I mean? I slugged it 'From an arctic outpost of the U.S. Army,' and I wrote how one lone Army officer had fired all the guns of a fighting ship on top of the world where all the forgotten battles are fought and where the Navy fighting men had been put out of action by the cruelest enemy of all, the desperate, bitter cold of the arctic night, and how when the last gun had been stilled not an enemy form or an enemy plane could be seen moving on the ancient ice cap, tomb of thousands of unknown fallen. You know. It was filler copy. Not strictly a lie, you understand. Every fact was strictly factual all by itself but -- well, it was what they always said was very, very good for morale on the home front, you know what I mean? Anyway, I forgot about the whole thing until Johnny came around with a fistful of clippings and a letter from his wife which said my story was worth fifty thousand votes and he was supposed to buy me all the gin I could hold. I liked gin at the time," Ramen concluded.

With characteristic candor, in his autobiographical sketch in the Congressional Directory of 1955, Johnny claimed "seventeen arctic combat missions," but when testifying in 1957 in a legal proceeding that was attempting to investigate various amounts of unusual income he had received, both as to amount and source, Johnny said (of himself): "Iselin was on thirty-one combat missions in the arctic, plus liaison missions" and added inexplicably that the nights in the arctic region were six months long. "Iselin saw enough battle action to keep him peaceful and quiet for the rest of his days." Raymond's mother had taught Johnny to call himself Iselin whenever testifying or being interviewed, on the principle that it constituted a continuing plug for the name at a time when Johnny was being quoted on land, sea, and in the air, as often and as much as the New York Stock Exchange.

The question of combat would not permit any settlement. When Raymond's mother had Johnny make formal application for the Silver Star, presumably because no one else had made application for him, in a claim supported by "certain certified copies from my personal military records," it attracted an apoplectically outraged letter of complaint from a constituent, bitter about the violation of propriety in which Johnny had received a medal at his own request. Raymond's mother dictated, and Johnny signed, a return letter that contained this brave turn of phrase: "I am bound by the rules which provide how such awards shall be made and as much as I felt distaste there just wasn't any other way to do it."

However, as the years carried Big John and Raymond's mother forward through their national and international duels on behalf of a more perfect America, the most disputed part of Johnny's record continued to be the "wound" he most blandly claimed to have suffered in military combat. Although he did not receive the Purple Heart and although the former Secretary of the Army who reviewed his personnel file disclaimed any Iselin wound in action, when Big John was asked at a veterans' rally why he wore built-up shoes (how else the big in Big John?) Governor Iselin said he was wearing the shoes because he had lost most of his heel in arctic combat. There is disagreement among those who heard him at that time as to whether he said "lost most of my foot" or a lesser amount of tissue.

The relentless Journal, in the year of its gallant but futile attempt to discredit Johnny in a meaningful sense, uncovered the personal journal of an officer who had served with Johnny all during the tour, a Francis Winikus, who subsequently made a reputation as an authority on migratory elements of population in Britain and Europe. Under the date of June 22, 1944, the Winikus diary threw a white and revealing light on the circumstances leading to Johnny's wound by recording: "Johnny Iselin has become possessed by the idea of sex. To get that interested in sex on the top of this ice cap is either suicidal or homosexual, on its surface, but Johnny isn't either. He is a persistent and determined zealot. There is a new Eskimo camp about three miles across that primordial field of ice under that gale of wind which carries those flying razor blades to cut into the face from the direction of the village. There are women there. Everybody knows that and everybody agreed it was a very good thing until we walked, secretly and one at a time, with ice grippers tied to our shoes, across that shocking three-mile course in cold worse than the icy hell the old German religions called Nifelheim and came up to the igloos down wind and lost all interest in sex for the rest of the war. I was exhausted when I made the run, but I came back faster than I went over, to get away from that smell. It is the special smell of the Eskimo women and there is no smell like it because they wash their hair in stored urine, they live sewed up in those musty skins, and they eat an endless diet of putrescent food like fish heads and whale fat.

"Johnny said he was going to get around these 'surface disadvantages' because he had to have a woman or the top of his head would come off. He has been practicing eleven days, making that run over and back every single day. The cold and the wind simply do not seem to exist for him. All he can think of is the women. He comes back here and rests and moans and bleats with this longing, and he says proudly that he is getting used to the stink of the women. He says that if Eskimo men went to Chicago and smelled our women wearing those expensive French perfumes that it would sicken them, too, and that all these things are just a matter of getting used to them.

"Yesterday he decided he was ready. He crossed the ice cap again in that blackness, following a compass and watching for the lights, if any. He filled me in on the whole story this morning before they took him out in the sled to Etah, where they will hold him for pickup by relief plane to Godthaab. He was welcomed hospitably, he said, about thirty yards outside a lot of ice mounds which turned out to be igloos. Johnny doesn't speak their language and they don't speak Johnny's but he used his hands so suggestively -- well, what he did with his hands when he was telling me how he showed them what he wanted makes me wonder how I will be able to get through the winter. He says they were completely sympathetic and immediately understanding and motioned him to crawl behind them into one of the blocks of ice. Before he entered, he distributed some K-ration and he told me he remembered thinking how easy this was going to be as soon as he could figure out which were the women and which were the men, because they were all wrapped in furs and their faces were as round and flat and shiny as a silver dollar. He made it into the igloo on his hands and knees, then almost fainted from the smell. He had gotten used to the smell of the women in a high arctic wind OUTSIDE the snow houses. The heat was tremendous for one thing: hot bricks, body heat, burning blubber, and smoking dried moss and lichens. Artfully placed around the perimeter were leather buckets of straight aged urine. Johnny said he must have stumbled into the local beauty parlor. His other quick impression was that a considerable amount of last season's fish had rotted, and, too, there was the smoky, blinding smell of long imprisoned feet. This morning as the infection turned toward fever, every now and then Johnny would say, 'O my God, those feet!' There were about fourteen people in the igloo, although he feels that they could have been sitting on a few old ladies. They had slipped out of their clothing and the ripeness of all of them hit him like a stone ax and he says he keeled over although he didn't pass out. He said they immediately offered him three different people whom he decided must have been women, and some of the fellows there even seemed ready to lift him on. Although he discovered that it was impossible to get used to the congress of smells he was able to concentrate on them just being women and all other considerations in that tiny space actually left his mind. He said it was no question of poontang next year with a girl who smelled like flowers, it was a case of poontang now and he began to get out of his clothes. He was actually getting undressed in front of all of those people and he said he would pause every now and then to give the nearest shape that he assumed was a girl a little pinch or a tiny tickle when all of a sudden one of the Eskimos started to yell at him in German.

"Johnny said he doesn't speak German but he knows it when he hears it because they speak a lot of it in his home state. Then this Eskimo began to take off his furs in that way a man takes off his coat when he wants to start a fight, yelling all the time in German and pointing at the Eskimo woman Johnny had been diddling and who was now giggling up at Johnny, when Johnny sees that this man is wearing a German officer's uniform under the skins. As this was the first time Johnny had ever believed that there was any enemy, he said he was absolutely flabbergasted. The Eskimos in the igloo began to yell at the German to shut up, or maybe they felt that he had impugned their hospitality by interrupting Johnny, or maybe they were sore because they liked to watch, and by now the woman had reached up and she had Johnny firmly by the privates and she wasn't letting go because for whatever crazy reason she liked Johnny. The noise bounced back and forth from ice wall to ice wall, dogs started barking, kids started crying, the German was yelling and weeping through what was obviously a broken heart, and Johnny said he felt very embarrassed. He realized he had been making a pass at this guy's girl right in front of the guy himself which must have hurt him terribly, and it wasn't right even if he was the enemy, Johnny felt. He didn't know what to do so he hit the man and as the man fell he knocked four of the small Eskimos over with him. This turned the tables. The other Eskimos now got sore at Johnny and three of them rushed him waving what Johnny calls 'Stone Age power tools.' He swept his arms out in front of him and sent the attackers over backward into the mob, all of this happening, he said, inside an area about as big as Orson Welles's head, with everybody howling for blood. He decided then that he wasn't going to score after all and that he'd better get the hell out of there, so he tried to dive through the tunnel which led to the full force arctic hurricane outside, forgetting entirely that the Eskimo woman had him by the family jewels and she had decided to keep those jewels for her very own. Johnny says he never felt anything quite like what he felt then and that he thought he had actually lost his reason for living. Rejecting her both physically and psychologically, he let fly with his left foot, catching her smartly in the face. She sank her overdeveloped teeth into his foot, then she crunched down again, then settled down to a steady munching, and he says if it hadn't been for her getting hit by someone in that yelling, milling throng behind her in the igloo she might have chewed his foot off. How he got back here in that weather with that foot I will never know. The wound had festered badly by this morning. They took him out of here for Etah about an hour ago. I guess that's the end of the war for old Johnny."


In August, 1944, Johnny came limping home to take up his part in the red-hot campaign that "friends" (meaning Raymond's mother and, to a conclusive extent, even though it seems absolutely impossible in retrospect, the Communist party) had been carrying forward since the day he had gone off to war. All Johnny had to do was to wear his uniform, his crutches, and his bandaged foot and shout out a few hundred topical exaggerations that Raymond's mother had written up and catalogued over the years to evade any conceivable demand. Because of the clear call from the people of his state, Johnny was permitted to resign from the armed forces on August 11, 1944.

He was elected governor of his state in the elections of 1944 and re-elected in 1948. As he entered his second term he was forty-one years old; Raymond's mother was thirty-eight. Raymond was twenty-one and was working as a district man for the Journal, having graduated from the state university at the head of his class.

At forty-one, Governor Iselin was a plain, aggressively humble man, five feet eight inches tall in specially shod elevator shoes. There was a fleshiness of the nose to mark him for the memory. His hair was thin and, under certain lighting, appeared to have been painted in fine, single lines across his scalp over rosettes and cabbages of two-dimensional liver spots. His clothes, from a time shortly after his marriage to Raymond's mother, were of homespun material but they had been run up by the hands of a terribly good and quite wealthy tailor in New York. Raymond's mother had Johnny's valet shine only the lower half of his high black shoes so that it would seem, to people who thought about those things, that he managed to shine his own shoes between visits of the Strawberry Lobby and the refusal of pardons to the condemned. An abiding mark of the degree of Johnny's elemental friendliness shone from the fact that he could look no one in the eye and that when he talked he would switch syntax in seeming horror of what he had almost said to his listener. The governor never shaved from Friday night to Monday morning, no matter what function might be scheduled, as though he were a part-time Sikh. He would explain that this gave his skin a rest. Raymond's mother had invented that one, as she had invented very nearly everything else about him excepting his digestive system (and if she had invented that it would have functioned a great deal better), because not shaving "made him like some slob, like a farm hand or some Hunky factory worker." It is certain that over a weekend, when Big John was generating noise out of every body orifice, switching syntax, darting his eyes about, and flashing that meaty nose in his unshaven face, he was the commonest kind of common man forty ways to the ace. However, he had been custom-made by Raymond's mother. She had developed Johnny (as Jose Raoul Capablanca had developed his chess play; as Marie Antoine Careme had folded herbs into a sauce for Talleyrand) into the model governor, on paper that is, of all the states of the United States, and in some of those other states the constituents read more about Jolly Johnny than about their own men. She had riveted into the public memory these immutable facts: John Yerkes Iselin was a formidable administrator; a conserver who could dare; an honest, courageous, conscience-thrilled, God· fearing public servant; a jolly, jovial, generous, gentling, humorous, amiable, good-natured, witty big brother; a wow of a husband and a true-blue pal of a father; a fussin', fumin', fightin', soldier boy, all heart; a simple country judge with the savvy of Solomon; and an American, which was the most fortuitous circumstance of all.

Raymond's mother hardly showed one flicker of chagrin when General Eisenhower was persuaded to make the stroll for the nomination in 1952, the one unexpected accident that could have blocked her John from the White House. She broke a few little things at the Mansion when she heard the news: mirrors, lamps, vases, and other replaceable bric-a-brac. She was entitled to a flash of violence, one little demonstration that she could feel passion, and it harmed no one because Johnny was dead drunk and Raymond had marched off to the Korean War.

In the Autumn of 1952, two weeks before Raymond's return from Korea to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, almost two months before the end of Big John's statutory final term as governor, U.S. Senator Ole Banstoffsen, the grand old man who had represented his state in Washington for six consecutive terms, succumbed to a heart attack almost immediately after a small dinner with his oldest and dearest friends, Governor and Mrs. John Iselin, and died in the governor's arms in the manner of a dinner guest of the Empress Livia's some time before in ancient Rome. The exchange of last words made their bid to become part of American history, for through them Big John found his life's mission, and the words are set down herewith to complete the record.


John-Johnny, boy-are you there?


Ole! Ole, old friend. Don't try to speak! Eleanor! Where is that doctor!


(his last words)

Johnny -- you must -- carry on. Please, please, Johnny swear to me as I lay dying that you will fight to save Our Country -- from the Communist peril.


(greatly moved)

I pledge to you, with my soul, that I will fight to keep Communists from dominating our institutions to the last breath of my life, dear friend.

(Senator Banstoffsen slumps into death, made happy.)


He's gone! Oh, Eleanor, he's gone. A great fighter has gone on to his rest.


The verbatim record must have been set down by Raymond's mother, as she was the only other person present at the senator's death, and she undoubtedly found time to make notes while they waited for the doctor and while the words were still so fresh in her mind, but Johnny did not use them for almost three years, during which time they had undoubtedly been carefully filed for their value as Americana and as a source of inspiration to others.

Governor Iselin appointed himself to succeed Senator Banstoffsen, to fight the good fight, and his re-election followed. He was sworn in on March 18, 1953, by Justice Krushen, after his wife had insisted that he take The Cure for two and a half months at a reliable, discreet, and medically sound ranch for alcoholics and drug addicts in sun-drenched New Mexico, following the booze-drenched Christmas holidays of 1952.
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Postby admin » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:24 am

Chapter 5

What is the consciousness of guilt but the arena floor rushing up to meet the falling trapeze artist? Without it, a bullet becomes a tourist flying without responsibility through the air. The consciousness of guilt gives a scent to humanity, a threat of putrefaction, the ultimate cosmetic. Without the consciousness of guilt, existence had become so bland in Paradise that Eve welcomed the pungency of Original Sin. Raymond's consciousness of guilt, that rouged lip print of original sin, had been wiped off. He had been made unique. He had been shriven into eternity, exculpated of the consciousness of guilt.

Out of his saddened childhood, Raymond had grown to the age for love. Because he was mired down within an aloof, timid, and skeptical temperament he was a man who, if he was to be permitted to love at all, was suited to find the solution of his needs only in reassuring monogamy. He had no ability to make friends. As he had grown up he was dependent upon the children of friends of the people who were his mother's garden: mostly politicians and their lackeys, and other people who could be used by politicians: newspaper types, press agents, labor types, commerce and industry edges, hustlers of veterans and hustlers of minorities, patriots and suborners, confused women and the self-seeking clergy.

By an accident, when he was just past twenty-one years, old, Raymond met the daughter of a man whom his mother would not, under any condition, have entertained. Her name was Jocelyn Jordan. Her father was a United States senator and a dangerously unhealthy liberal in every sense of that word, though a member of Johnny Iselin's party. They lived in the East. They happened to be in Raymond's mother's state because it was summertime, when schoolteachers and senators not up for re-election are allowed time off to spend their large, accumulated salaries, and they had been invited by Jocie's roommate to use her family's summer camp while the family toured in Europe. It is certain that they had no knowledge that they would be keeping calm and cool beside the same blue lake, with its talking bass and balsam collar, as Governor Iselin and his wife or else they would have politely refused the invitation. When they did find out, they were established in the summer camp and had not been shot at so it was too late to do anything about it.

Jocie was nineteen that summer when she came around a turning of the dusty road at the moment the snake had bitten Raymond, as he lay in his wine-colored swimming trunks where he had tripped and fallen in the road, staring from the green snake as it moved slowly through the golden dust toward the other side of the road, to the neat, new wound on his bare leg. She did not speak to him but she saw what he saw and, stopping, stared wordlessly at the two dark red spots against his healthy flesh, then moved quickly to the small plastic kit attached to the back of her bicycle seat, removed a naked razor blade and a bottle of purple fluid, and knelt beside him. She beamed expert reassurance into his eyes from the sweet brownness of her own and cut crosses with the razor blade in each dark, red spot, traversed both of them with a straight cut, then put her mouth to his leg and drew two mouthfuls of blood out of it. Each time after she spit the blood out she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand like a laborer who had just finished a hero sandwich and a bottle of beer. She poured the purple fluid on the cuts, bound Raymond's legs with two strips of a handkerchief she had ripped in half, then saturated the improvised bandage with more purple liquid, over the wounds.

"I hope I know what I'm doing," she said in a tremulous voice. "My father is scared tiddly about snakes in this part of the country, which is how I happen to ride around with a razor blade and potassium permanganate solution. Now don't move. It is very, very important that you don't move and start anything that might be left from that snake circulating through your system." She walked to her bicycle as she talked. "I'll be right back with a car. I won't be ten minutes. You just stay still, now. You hear?" She pedaled off rapidly around the same turning of the road that had magically produced her. She had vanished many seconds before he realized that he had not spoken to her and that, although he had expected to die when the snake had bitten him, he had not thought about the snake, the snake's bite, nor his impending death from the instant she had appeared. He looked bemusedly at his crudely bandaged leg below the swimming trunks. Purple ink and red blood trickled idly along his leg in parallel courses and it occurred to him that, if this had been happening to his mother's leg, she would have claimed the purple mixture as being her blood.

A car returned, it seemed to him almost at once, and Jocie had fetched her father along because it would give him such a good feeling to know that all of those warnings about the snakes in those woods had been just. A man has few enough opportunities like that when he assists in the raising of children, who must be hoisted on the pulley of one's experience every morning to the top of the pole for a view of life as extensive as that day's emotional climate would bear, then lowered again at sundown to be folded up and made to rest, and carried into their dreams with reverence.

They brought Raymond back to the summer camp, believing him to be in a state of shock because he did not speak. Raymond sat beside Jocie in the back seat with his fanged leg propped up on the back of the front seat. The senator drove and told horrendous snake stories wherein no one bitten ever recovered. The way Raymond looked at Jocie in that back seat told her well that he was in a state of shock but she was, at nineteen, sufficiently versed to be able to differentiate between the mundane and the glorious kinds of shock.

At the camp the senator made his examination of the wound and was thrown into high glee when there seemed to be no swelling on, above, or below the poisoned area. He took Raymond's temperature and found it normal. He cauterized the wounds with a carbolic add solution while Raymond continued to stare respectfully at his daughter. When he had finished, the senator asked the only possible, sensible question.

"Are you a mute?" he said.

"No, sir."


"Thank you very much," Raymond said, "Miss -- Miss --"

"Miss Jocelyn Jordan," the senator said. "And considering that you two are practically related by blood, it is probably time you met."

"How do you do?" Raymond said.

"And now, under the quaint local custom, it is your turn to tell your name," the senator explained gravely.

"I am Raymond Shaw, sir."

"How do you do, Raymond?" the senator said, and shook hands with him.

"I have save your life," Jocie said with a heavy vaudeville Hungarian accent, "and now I may do with it what I will."

"I would like to ask your permission to marry Jocelyn, sir." Raymond was deadly serious, as always. The Jordans exploded with laughter, believing Raymond was working to amuse them, but when they looked back to him to acknowledge his sally, and saw the confused and nearly hurt expression on his face, they became embarrassed. Senator Jordan coughed violently. Jocelyn murmured something about gallantry not being dead after all, that it was time she made some coffee, and went off hastily toward what must have been the kitchen. Raymond stared after her. To cover up, although for the life of him he could not have explained or understood what he was covering up, the Senator sat down on a wicker chair beside Raymond. "Is your place near here?" he asked.

"Yes, sir. It's that red house directly across the lake."

"The Iselin house?" Jordan was startled. His expression became less friendly.

"My house," Raymond said succinctly. "It was my father's house but my father is dead and he left it to me."

"Forgive me, I had been told that it was the summer camp of Johnny Iselin, and of all places in this world for me to spend a summer this --"

"Johnny stays there sometimes, sir, when he gets too drunk for my mother to allow him to stay around the Capitol."

"Your mother is -- uh -- Mrs. Iselin?"

"That's right, sir."

"I once found it necessary to sue your mother for defamation of character and slander. My name is Thomas Jordan."

"How do you do, sir?"

"It cost her sixty-five thousand dollars and costs. What hurt her much more than the payment of that money was that I donated all of it to the organization called the American Civil Liberties Union."

"Oh." Raymond remembered the color of his mother's words, the objects she had broken, the noises she had made, and the picture she had painted of this man.

Jordan smiled at him grimly. "Your mother and I are, have been, and will always be divergent in our views, not to say inimical of one another's interests, and I tell you that after long study of the matter and of the uses of expediences by all of us in politics."

Raymond smiled back at him, but not grimly, and he looked amazingly handsome and vitally attractive, Jocie thought from far across the room as she entered, carrying a tray. He had such even white teeth against such a long, tanned face, and he offered them the yellow-green eyes of a lion. "If you weren't sure of that, sir," Raymond said, "you couldn't be sure of anything, because that is the absolute truth." They both laughed, unexpectedly and heartily, and were friends of a sort. Jocie came up to them with the cups and the coffee and a bottle of rye whisky, and Raymond began to feel the beginnings of what was to be a constant, summer-long nausea as he tried to equate the daughter of Senator Jordan with the ancient, carbonized prejudice of his mother.

That summer was the only happy time, excepting one, the only fully joyous, concentrically transforming time in Raymond's life. Two pure and cooling fountains were all Raymond ever found in all that aridness of time allotted to him. Two brief episodes in his entire life in which he awoke each morning looking forward in joy to more joy and found it. Only twice was there a time when he did not maintain the full and automatic three-hundred-and-sixty-degree horizon of raw sensibilities over which swept the three searing beams of suspicion, fear, and resentment flashing from the loneliness of the tall lighthouse of his soul.

Jocie showed him how she felt. She told him how she felt. She presented him, with the pomp of new love, a thousand small and radiant gifts each day. She behaved as though she had been waiting an eternity for him to catch up with her in the time continuum, and now that he had arrived with his body to occupy a predestined place in space beside her, she knew she must wait still longer while he tried desperately to mature, all at once, out of infancy until he could understand that she only wanted to give to him, asking nothing but his awareness in return. She behaved as though she loved him, a condition that could swing in suspension to fix his concentration but which, when he could understand, would need to blend with his love, matching it exactly.

He walked beside her. Once or twice he touched her, but he did not know how to touch her or where to touch her. However she saw right on the surface of him how greatly he was trying to learn, how he was struggling to lose the past so he could tell her of the glories she made him feel and of how enormously he needed her.

Every morning he waited outside her house, staring as though he could see through the walls, until she came running out to him. They spent all of every day together. They separated late, in the late darkness. They did not speak much but each day she moved him closer to breaking through his barriers and willed him with her love to say more each day, and she was filled with the ambition to make him safe with her love.

The summer was the second-best time in his merely twice-blest living span. The first time was not the equal of the second time because of his fear; the conviction that it would be taken from him the instant he voiced his need for it. Whatever they did together he held himself rigid, awaiting the scream of his mother's rage, and it cost him thirty pounds of his flesh because he could not keep food down as he battled to hold the thoughts of his mother and Jocie apart. His mother found out about Jocie in time, and who Jocie's father was, of course, and it was all over.


Johnny said he didn't want to be around when she told Raymond what had to be. He went back to the capital where he had a lot of work to do anyway. Raymond got home late that night. His mother was waiting for him. She was wearing a fantastically beautiful Chinese house coat. It was orange-red. It had a deep black Elizabethan collar that stood up straight behind and around her shining blond head, in the mode of wicked witches, but it made her look very lovely and very kind and she smelled very beautiful and enlightened as Raymond dragged his dread behind him into the room, sickened to find her awake so late.

There she sits like a mail-order goddess, serene as the star on a Christmas tree, as calm as a jury, preening the teeth of her power with the floss of my joy, soiling it, shredding it, and just about ready to throw it away, and she is getting to look more and more like those two-dimensional women who pose for nail polish advertisements, and I have wanted to kill her for all of these years and now it is too late.

"What the hell do you want, Mother?"

"What the hell kind of a greeting is that at three-thirty in the morning."

"It's a quarter to three. What do you want?"

"What's the matter with you?"

''I'm shocked to be in a room alone with you after all these years, I guess."

"All right, Raymond. So I'm a busy woman. Do you think I work and work and ruin my health for myself? I do it for you. I'm making a place for you."

"Please don't do it for me, Mother. Do it for Johnny. Worse I couldn't wish him."

"What you're doing to Johnny is the worst you could wish him."

"What is it? I'll double it."

"I speak of that little Communist tart."

"Shut up, Mother! Shut up with that!" His voice rose to a squeak.

"Do you know what Jordan is? Are you out to crucify Johnny?"

"I can't answer you. I don't know what you're talking about. I'm going to bed."

"Sit down!" He stopped where he was. He was near a chair. He sat down.

"Raymond, they live in New York. How would you see her?"

"I thought of getting a job in New York."

"You have to do your Army service."

"Next spring."


"I might be dead next spring."

"Oh, Raymond, for Christ's sake!"

"No one has given me a written, printed, bonded guarantee that I will live another week. This girl is now. What the hell do I care about her father's politics any more than I care about your politics? Jocie -- Jocie is all I care about."

"Raymond, if we were at war now --"

"Oh, Mother, for Christ's sake!"

"-- and you were suddenly to become infatuated with the daughter of a Russian agent -- wouldn't you expect me to come to you and object, to beg you to stop the entire thing before it was too late? Well, we are at war. It's a cold war but it will get worse and worse until every man and woman and child in this country will have to stand up and be counted to say whether or not he or she is on the side of right and freedom, or on the side of the Thomas Jordans' of this country. I will go with you to Washington tomorrow, if you like, and I will show you documented proof that this man stands for evil and that he will do anything to win that evil --"

That was the gist of it. Raymond's mother began her filibuster at approximately three o'clock in the morning and she kept at him, walking beside him wherever he went in the house, standing next to him talking shrilly of the American Dream and its meaning in the present, pulling stops out bearing the invisible labels left over from Fourth of July speeches and old Hearst editorials such as "The Red Menace," "Liberty, Freedom, and America as We know It," "Thought Police and The American Way," until ten minutes to eleven o'clock the following morning, when Raymond, who had lost so much weight that summer and who had been running a subnormal fever for three weeks, collapsed. She had talked through each weakening manifestation of defiance he had made -- through his shouts and screams, through his tears and pleadings and whimperings and sobs -- and the sure power of her limitless strength slowly and surely overcame his double weakness: both the physical and the psychological, until he was convinced that he would be well rid of Jocie if he could trade her for some silence and some sleep. She made him take four sleeping pills, tucked him into his trundle bed, and he slept until the following afternoon at five forty-five, but was even then too weak to get up. His mother, having put her little boy to beddy-by, took a hot shower followed by a cold shower, ran a comforting amount of morphine into the large vein in her left forearm (which was always covered with those smart, long sleeves) and sat down at the typewriter to compose a little note from Raymond to Jocie. She rewrote it three times to be sure, but when it was done it was done right, and she signed his name and sealed the envelope. She got dressed, popped into the pick-up truck, and drove directly to the Jordan camp. Jocie had gone to the post office on an errand for her father, but the senator was there. Raymond's mother said it would be necessary for them to have a talk so he invited her inside the house. The Jordans packed and left the lake by six o'clock that evening.

Jocie, who had fallen as deeply in love with Raymond as he with her, and more than that because she was healthy and normal, never really understood quite why it was all over. Her father told her that Raymond had enlisted in the Army that morning, had telephoned only to say that he could not see Jocie again and good-by. Her father, having read the terrible letter, had shuddered with nausea and burned it. Raymond's mother had explained to him that despite their own personal differences she had come to say to him that his daughter was far too fine a girl to be hurt or twisted by her son, that Raymond was a homosexual and in other ways degenerate, and that he would be far, far better forgotten by this sweet, fine child.
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Postby admin » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:25 am

Chapter 6

In February, 1953, just a little more than two months after his discharge from the Army, Raymond got a job as a researcher-legman-confidant for, and as janitor of the ivory tower of, Holborn Gaines, the distinguished international political columnist of The Daily Press, in New York; this on the strength of (1) a telephone call from the managing editor of the Journal to Joe Downey, managing editor of The Daily Press) (2) his relationship to Mrs. John Yerkes Iselin, whom Mr. Gaines admired and loathed as one of the best political minds in the country, and (3) the Medal of Honor.

Mr. Gaines was a man of sixty-eight or seventy years who wore a silk handkerchief inside his shirt collar whenever he was indoors, no matter what the season of the year, and drank steady quantities of Holland beer but never seemed to grow either plump or drowsy from it, and found very nearly everything that had ever happened in politics from Caesar's ascension to Sherman Adams' downfall to be among the most amusing manifestations of his civilization. Mr. Gaines would pore over those detailed never-to-be-published-in-that-form reports from one or another of the paper's bureau chiefs around the world, which provided the intimate background data of all real or imagined political maneuvering, and sip at the lip of a beer bottle, chuckling as though the entire profile of that day's world disaster had been written by Mark Twain. He was a kind man who took the trouble to explain to Raymond on the first day of his employment that he did not much enjoy talking and fulsomely underscored how happy they would be, both of them, if they could train each other into one another's jobs so that conversation would become unnecessary. This suited Raymond so well that he could not believe his own luck, and when he had worked even faster and better than usual and needed to sit and wait until Mr. Gaines would indicate, with a grunt and a push at a pile of papers, what the next job would be, he would sit turned halfway in upon himself, wishing he could turn all the way in and shut everything out and away from himself, but he was afraid Mr. Gaines would decide to talk and he would have to climb and pull himself out of the pit, so he waited and watched and at last came to see that he and Mr. Gaines could not have been more ecstatically suited to one another had one worked days and the other worked nights.

The promotion manager of The Daily Press was a young man named O'Neil. He arranged that the members of the editorial staff give Raymond a testimonial dinner (from which Mr. Gaines was automatically excused for, after all, he had actually met Raymond), welcoming a hero to their ranks. When O'Neil first told Raymond about the dinner plan they were standing, just the two of them, in Mr. Gaines's office, one of the many glass-enclosed cubicles that lined the back wall of the city room, and Raymond hit O'Neil, knocking him across the desk and, as he lay there for an instant, spat on him. O'Neil didn't ask for an explanation. He got up, a tiny thread of blood hanging from the left corner of his mouth, and beat Raymond systematically and quietly. They were both about the same age and weight, but O'Neil had interest, which is the key to life, on his side. The beating was done well and quickly but it must be seen that Raymond had, if even in the most negative way, made his point. No one else ever knew what had happened and because the dinner was only a week away and O'Neil knew he would need pictures of Raymond posed beside various executives of the paper, he was careful not to hit Raymond in the face where subsequent discolorations might show. When it was over, Raymond agreed that he would not concede the dinner, at any time, to be a good idea, holding it to be "a commonness which merchandised the flag," but he did agree to attend. O'Neil, in his turn, inquired that if there was anything more a part of our folklore than hustling the flag for an edge, that he would appreciate it if Raymond would point it out to him, and agreed to limit the occasion to one speech which he would make himself and keep it short, and that Raymond would need only to rise in acknowledgment, bow slightly, and speak not at all.

In December, 1953, Raymond was guest of honor at a dinner given by the Overseas Press Club at which an iron-lunged general of the Armies was the principal speaker, and Raymond could not fight his way out of this invitation to attend and to speak because his boss, Mr. Gaines, was chairman of the dinner committee. What Raymond did say when he spoke was "Thank you, one and all." The way the matter had been handled differed sharply from the O'Neil incident. Mr. Gaines had come in one morning, had handed Raymond a printed invitation with his name on it, had patted him understandingly on the back, had opened a bottle of beer, sat down at his desk, and that was that.
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