The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice
Blog Posted:1/30/2013 5:17:00 PM
This is part of a chapter of the funniest book I ever read...'Catch 22' by Joseph Heller, written in the 60's...For those not familiar with the book, it is an anti-war satire set in WWII...the main character (Yossarian) is an airplane bombardier who is DEFINITELY not a hero...he is terrified of being killed and is constantly trying to find ways of getting discharged. This segment is about Yossarian checking into the hospital (as he did many other times) falsely claiming serious illness. Thanks for reading...
At the end of ten days, a new group of doctors came to Yossarian with bad news; he was in perfect health and had to get out. He was rescued in the nick of time by a patient across the aisle who began to see everything twice. Without warning, the patient sat up in bed and shouted, 'I see everything twice!' A nurse screamed and an orderly fainted. Doctors came running up from every direction with needles, lights, tubes, rubber mallets and oscillating metal tines. They rolled complicated metal instruments on wheels. There was not enough of the patient to go around, and the specialists pushed forward in line with raw tempers and snapped at their colleagues in front to hurry up and give somebody else a chance. A colonel with a large forehead and horn-rimmed glasses soon arrived at a diagnosis. 'It's meningitis,' he called out emphatically, waving the others back. Although Lord knows there's not the slightest reason for thinking so. 'Then why pick meningitis?' inquired a major with a suave chuckle, 'Why not, let's say, acute nephrititis? 'Because I'm a meningitis man,' retorted the colonel, and I'm not going to give him up to any of you kidney birds wthout a struggle. I was here first.'
In the end, the doctors were all in accord. They agreed they had no idea what was wrong with the soldier who saw everything twice, and they rolled him away in the corridor and quarantined everyone else in the ward for forteen days....
SKIP TO ANOTHER PART OF THE CHAPTER...(The missing part is hilarious too but there's not enough room here!)
That was the most illogical Thanksgiving he could ever
remember spending, and his thoughts returned wishfully to his halcyon
fourteen-day quarantine in the hospital the year before; but even that
idyll had ended on a tragic note; he was still in good health when the
quarantine was over, and they told him again that he had to get out
and go to war. Yossarian sat up in bed when he heard the news and
'I see everything twice!'
Pandemonium broke loose in the ward again. The specialists came
running up from all directions and ringed him in a circle of scrutiny
so confining that he could feel the humid breath from their various
noses blowing uncomfortably upon the different sectors of his
body. They went from snooping into his eyes and ears with tiny beams
of light, assaulted his legs and feet with rubber hammers and
vibrating forks, drew blood from his veins, held anything handy up for
him to see on the periphery of his vision.
The leader of this team of doctors was a dignified, solicitous
gentleman who held one finger up directly in front of Yossarian and
demanded, 'How many fingers do you see?'
'Two,' said Yossarian.
'How many fingers do you see now?' asked the doctor, holding
'Two,' said Yossarian.
'And how many now?' asked the doctor, holding up none.
'Two,' said Yossarian.
The doctor's face wreathed with a smile. 'By jove, he's
right,' he declared jubilantly. 'He does see everything twice.'
They rolled Yossarian away on a stretcher into the room with
the other soldier who saw everything twice and quarantined everyone
else in the ward for another fourteen days.
'I see everything twice!' the soldier who saw everything twice
shouted when they rolled Yossarian in.
'I see everything twice!' Yossarian shouted back at him just
as loudly, with a secret wink. 'The walls! The walls!' the other soldier cried. 'Move back
the walls!'... 'The walls! The walls!' Yossarian cried. 'Move back the
walls!' One of the doctors pretended to shove the walls back. 'Is that
far enough?' The soldier who saw everything twice nodded weakly and sank
back on his bed. Yossarian nodded weakly too, eyeing his talented
roommate with great humility and admiration. He knew he was in the
presence of a master. His talented roommate was obviously a person to
be studied and emulated. During the night, his talented roommate died,
and Yossarian decided that he had followed him far enough.... 'I see everything once!' he cried quickly. A new group of specialists came pounding up to his bedside with
their instruments to find out if it was true. 'How many fingers do you see?' asked the leader, holding up one. 'One.' The doctor held up two fingers. 'How many fingers do you see now?' 'One.' The doctor held up ten fingers. 'And how many now?' 'One.'
The doctor turned to the other doctors with amazement. 'He does see everything once!' he exclaimed. 'We made him all better!