excerpted from the book
Johnny Got His Gun
by Dalton Trumbo
published in 1939
He shot up through cool waters wondering
whether he'd ever make the surface or not. That was a lot of guff
about people sinking three times and then drowning. He'd been
rising and sinking for days weeks months who could tell? But he
hadn't drowned. As he came to the surface each time he fainted
into reality and as he went down again he fainted into nothingness.
Long slow faints all of them while he struggled for air and life.
He was fighting too hard and he knew it. A man can't fight always.
If he's drowning or suffocating he's got to be smart and hold
back some of his strength for the last the final the death struggle.
He lay back quietly because he was no
fool. If you lie back you can float. He used to float a lot when
he was a kid. He knew how to do it. His last strength going into
that fight when all he had to do was float. What a fool.
They were working on him. It took him
a little while to understand this because he couldn't hear them.
Then he remembered that he was deaf. It was funny to lie there
and have people in the room who were touching you watching you
doctoring you and yet not within hearing distance. The bandages
were still all over his head so he couldn't see them either. He
only knew that way out there in the darkness beyond the reach
of his ears people were working over him and trying to help him.
They were taking part of his bandages
off. He could feel the coolness the sudden drying of sweat on
his left side. They were working on his arm. He felt the pinch
of a sharp little instrument grabbing something and getting a
bit of his skin with each grab. He didn't jump. He simply lay
there because he had to save his strength. He tried to figure
out why they were pinching him. After each pinch there was a little
pull in the flesh of his upper arm and an unpleasant point of
heat like friction. The pulling kept on in short little jerks
with his skin getting hot each time. It hurt. He wished they'd
stop. It itched. He wished they'd scratch him.
He froze all over stiff and rigid like
a dead cat. There was something wrong about this pricking and
pulling and friction heat. He could feel the things they were
doing to his arm and yet he couldn't rightly feel his arm at all.
It was like he felt inside his arm. It was like he felt through
the end of his arm. The nearest thing he could think of to the
end of his arm was the heel of his hand. But the heel of his hand
the end of his arm was high high high as his shoulder.
Jesus Christ they'd cut his left arm off.
They'd cut it right off at the shoulder
he could feel it plain now.
Oh my god why did they do a thing like
that to him?
They couldn't do it the dirty bastards
they couldn't do it. They had to have a paper signed or something.
It was the law. You can't just go out and cut a man's arm off
without asking him without getting permission because a man's
arm is his own and he needs it. Oh Jesus I have to work with that
arm why did you cut it off? Why did you cut my arm off answer
me why did you cut my arm off? Why did you why did you why did
He went down into the water again and
fought and fought and then came up with his belly jumping and
his throat aching. And all the time that he was under the water
fighting with only one arm to get back he was having conversation
with himself about how this thing couldn't possibly happen to
him only it hadSo they cut myarm off. How am I going to work now?
They don't think of that. They don't think of anything but doing
it their own way. Just another guy with a hole in his arm let's
cut it off what do you say boys? Sure cut the guy's arm off. It
takes a lot of work and a lot of money to fix up a guy's arm.
This is a war and war is hell and what the hell and so to hell
with it. Come on boys watch this. Pretty slick hey? He's down
in bed and can't say anything and it's his tough luck and we're
tired and this is a stinking war anyhow so let's cut the damn
thing off and be done with it.
My arm. My arm they've cut my arm off.
See that stump there? That used to be my arm. Oh sure I had an
arm I was born with one I was normal just I like you and I could
hear and I had a left arm like I anybody. But what do you think
of those lazy bastards cutting it off?
I can't hear either. I can't hear. Write
it down. Put it on a piece of paper. I can read all right. But
I can't hear. Put it down on a piece of paper and hand the paper
to my right arm because I have no left arm.
My left arm. I wonder what they've done
with it. When you cut a man's arm off you have to do something
with it. You can't just leave it Iying around. Do you send it
to hospitals so guys can pick it to pieces and see how an arm
works? Do you wrap it up in an old newspaper and throw it onto
the junk heap? Do you bury it? After all it's part of a man a
very important part of a man and it should be treated respectfully.
Do you take it out and bury it and say a little prayer? You should
because it's human flesh and it died young and it deserves a good
Then things quieted down all of a sudden.
Everything went still inside his head. The lights before his eyes
snapped out as quickly as if somebody had shut them off with a
switch. The pain went away too. The only feeling he had was the
strong throb of blood in his brain swelling and contracting his
head. But it was peaceful. It was painless. It was such a relief
that he came out of his drowning. He could think.
He thought well kid you're deaf as a post
but there isn't the pain. You've got no arms but you don't hurt.
You'll never burn your hand or cut your finger or smash a nail
you lucky stiff. You're alive and you don't hurt and that's much
better than being alive and hurting. There are lots of things
a deaf guy without arms can do if he doesn't hurt so much he goes
crazy from pain. He can get hooks or something for arms and he
can learn to read lips and while that doesn't exactly put him
on top of the world still he's not drowned in the bottom of a
river with pain tearing his brain to pieces. He's still got air
and he's not struggling and he's got willow trees and he can think
and he's not in pain.
He couldn't understand why the nurses
or whoever had charge of him wouldn't lay him out level. The lower
half of him was light as a feather while his head and chest were
dead weights. That was why he had thought he was drowning. His
head was too low.
If he could move whatever was under his
legs and bring his body to an even level he'd feel better. He
wouldn't have that drowning dream any more.
He started to kick out with his feet to
move what was under his legs. He only started because he didn't
have any legs to kick with. Somewhere just below his hip joints
they had cut both of his legs off.
No more running walking crawling if you
have no legs. No more working.
No legs you see.
Never again to wiggle your toes. What
a hell of a thing what a wonderful beautiful thing to wiggle your
If he could only think of real things
he would destroy this dream of having no legs. Steamships loaves
of bread girls Kareen machine guns books chewing gum pieces of
wood Kareen but thinking of real things didn't help because it
wasn't a dream.
It was the truth.
That was why his head had seemed lower
than his legs. Because he had no legs. Naturally they seemed light.
Air is light too. Even a toenail is heavy compared to air.
He had no arms and no legs.
He threw back his head and started to
yell from fright. But he only started because he had no mouth
to yell with. He was so surprised at not yelling when he tried
that he began to work his jaws like a man who has found something
interesting and wants to test it. He was so sure the idea of no
mouth was a dream that he could investigate it calmly. He tried
to work his jaws and he had no jaws. He tried to run his tongue
around the inside of his teeth and over the roof of his mouth
as if he were chasing a raspberry seed. But he didn't have any
tongue and he hadn't any teeth. There was no roof to his mouth
and there was no mouth. He tried to swallow but he couldn't because
he had no palate and there weren't any muscles left to swallow
He began to smother and pant. It was as
if someone had pushed a mattress over his face and was holding
it there. He was breathing hard and fast now but he wasn't really
breathing because there wasn't any air passing through his nose.
He didn't have a nose. He could feel his chest rise and fall and
quiver but not a breath of air was passing through the place where
his nose used to be.
He got a wild panicky eagerness to die
to kill himself. He tried to calm his breathing to stop breathing
entirely so he would suffocate. He could feel the muscles at the
bottom of his throat close tight against the air but the breathing
in his chest kept right on. There wasn't any air in his throat
to be stopped. His lungs were sucking it in somewhere below his
He knew now that he was surely dying but
he was curious. He didn't want to die until he had found out everything.
If a man has no nose and no mouth and no palate and no tongue
why it stands to reason he might be shy a few other parts as well.
But that was nonsense because a man in that shape would be dead.
You couldn't lose that much of yourself and still keep on living.
Yet if you knew you had lost them and were thinking about it why
then you must be alive because dead men don't think. Dead men
aren't curious and he was sick with curiosity so he must not be
He began to reach out with the nerves
of his face. He began to strain to feel the nothingness that was
there. Where his mouth and nose had been there must now be nothing
but a hole covered with bandages. He was trying to find out how
far up that hole went. He was trying to feel the edges of the
hole. He was grasping with the nerves and pores of his face to
follow the borders of that hole and see how far up they extended.
It was like staring into complete darkness
with your eyes popping out of your head. It was a process of feeling
with his skin of exploring with something that couldn't move where
his mind told it to. The nerves and muscles of his face were crawling
like snakes toward his forehead.
The hole began at the base of his throat
just below where his jaw should be and went upward in a widening
circle. He could feel his skin creeping around the rim of the
circle. The hole was getting bigger and bigger. It widened out
almost to the base of his ears if he had any and then narrowed
again. It ended somewhere above the top of what used to be his
The hole went too high to have any eyes
He was blind.
It was funny how calm he was. He was quiet
just like a storekeeper taking spring inventory and saying to
himself I see I have no eyes better put that down in the order
book. He had no legs and no arms and no eyes and no ears and no
nose and no mouth and no tongue What a hell of a dream. It must
be a dream. Of course sweet god it's a dream. He'd have to wake
up or he'd go nuts. Nobody could live like that. A person in that
condition would be dead and he wasn't dead so he wasn't in that
condition. Just dreaming.
But it wasn't a dream.
He could want it to be a dream forever
and that wouldn't change things. Because he was alive alive. He
was nothing but a piece of meat like the chunks of cartilage old
Prof Vogel used to have in biology. Chunks of cartilage that didn't
have anything except life so they grew on chemicals. But he was
one up on the cartilage. He had a mind and it was thinking. That's
more than Prof Vogel could ever say of his cartilages. He was
thinking and he was just a thing.
Oh no. No no no.
He couldn't live like this because he
would go crazy. But he couldn't die because he couldn't kill himself.
If he could only breathe he could die. That was funny but it was
true. He could hold his breath and kill himself. That was the
only way left. Except that he wasn't breathing. His lungs were
pumping air, but he couldn't stop them from doing it. He couldn't
live and he couldn't die.
No no no that can't be right.
Mother where are you
Hurry mother hurry hurry hurry and wake
me up. I'm having a nightmare mother where are you? Hurry mother.
I'm down here. Here mother. Here in the darkness. Pick me up.
Rockabye baby. Now I lay me down to sleep. Oh mother hurry because
I can't wake up. Over here mother. When the wind blows the cradle
will rock. Hold me up high high.
Mother you've gone away and forgotten
me. Here I am. I can't wake up mother. Wake me up. I can't move.
Hold me. I'm scared. Oh mother mother sing to me and rub me and
bathe me and comb my hair and wash out my ears and play with my
toes and clap my hands together and blow my nose and kiss my eyes
and mouth like I've seen you do with Elizabeth like you must have
done with me. Then I'll wake up and I'll be with you and I'll
never leave or be afraid or dream again.
I can't. I can't stand it. Scream. Move.
Shake something. Make a noise any noise. I can't stand it. Oh
no no no.
Please I can't. Please no. Somebody come.
Help me. I can't lie here forever like this until maybe years
from now I die. 1 can't. Nobody can. It isn't possible.
I can't breathe but I'm breathing. I'm
so scared I can't think but I'm thinking. Oh please please no.
No no. It isn't me. Help me. It can't be me. Not me. No no no.
Oh please oh oh please. No no no please
Lying on your back without anything to
do and anywhere to go was kind of like being on a high hill far
away from noise and people. It was like being on a camping trip
all by yourself. You had plenty of time to think. You had time
to figure things out. Things you'd never thought of before. Things
like for example going to war. You were so completely alone on
your hill that noise and people didn't enter in your figuring
of things at all. You figured only for yourself without considering
a single little thing outside yourself. It seemed that you thought
clearer and that your answers made more sense. And even if they
didn't make sense it didn't matter because you weren't ever going
to be able to do anything about them anyhow.
He thought here you are Joe Bonham lying
like a side of beef all the rest of your life and for what? Somebody
tapped you on the shoulder and said come along son we're going
to war. So you went.
But why? In any other deal even like buying
a car or running an errand you had the right to say what's there
in it for me? Otherwise you'd be buying bad cars for too much
money or running errands for fools and starving to death. It was
a kind of duty you owed yourself that when anybody said come on
son do this or do that you should stand up and say look mister
why should I do this for who am I doing it and what am I going
to get out of it in the end? But when a guy comes along and says
here come with me and risk your life and maybe die or be crippled
why then you've got no rights. You haven't even the right to say
yes or no or I'll think it over. There are plenty of laws to protect
guys' money even in war time but there's nothing on the books
says a man's life's his own.
Of course a lot of guys were ashamed.
Somebody said let's go out and fight for liberty and so they went
and got killed without ever once thinking about liberty. And what
kind of liberty were they fighting for anyway? How much liberty
and whose idea of liberty? Were they fighting for the liberty
of eating free ice cream cones all their lives or for the liberty
of robbing anybody they pleased whenever they wanted to or what?
You tell a man he can't rob and you take away some of his liberty.
You've got to. What the hell does liberty mean anyhow? It's just
a word like house or table or any other word. Only it's a special
kind of word. A guy says house and he can point to a house to
prove it. But a guy says come on let's fight for liberty and he
can't show you liberty. He can't prove the thing he's talking
about so how in the hell can he be telling you to fight for it?
No sir anybody who went out and got into
the front line trenches to fight for liberty was a goddamn fool
and the guy who got him there was a liar. Next time anybody came
gabbling to him about liberty- what did he mean next time? There
wasn't going to be any next time for him. But the hell with that.
If there could be a next time and somebody said let's fight for
liberty he would say mister my life is important. I'm not a fool
and when I swap my life for liberty I've got to know in advance
what liberty is and whose idea of liberty we're talking about
and just how much of that liberty we're going to have. And what's
more mister are you as much interested in liberty as you want
me to be? And maybe too much liberty will be as bad as too little
liberty and I think you're a goddamn fourflusher talking through
your hat and I've already decided that I like the liberty I've
got right here the liberty to walk and see and hear and talk and
eat and sleep with my girt I think I like that liberty better
than fighting for a lot of things we won't get and ending up without
any liberty at all. Ending up dead and rotting before my life
is even begun good or ending up like a side of beef. Thank you
mister. You fight for liberty. Me I don't care for some.
Hell's fire guys had always been fighting
for liberty. America fought a war for liberty in 1776. Lots of
guys died. And in the end does America have any more liberty than
Canada or Australia who didn't fight at all? Maybe so I'm not
arguing I'm just asking. Can you look at a guy and say he's an
American who fought for his liberty and anybody can see he's a
very different guy from a Canadian who didn't? No by god you can't
and that's that. So maybe a lot of guys with wives and kids died
in 1776 when they didn't need to die at all. They're dead now
anyway. Sure but that doesn't do any good. A guy can think of
being dead a hundred years from now and he doesn't mind it. But
to think of being dead tomorrow morning and to be dead forever
to be nothing but dust and stink in the earth is that liberty?
They were always fighting for something
the bastards and if anyone dared say the hell with fighting it's
all the same each war is like the other and nobody gets any good
out of it why they hollered coward. If they weren't fighting for
liberty they were fighting for independence or democracy or freedom
or decency or honor or their native land or something else that
didn't mean anything. The war was to make the world safe for democracy
for the little countries for everybody. If the war was over now
then the world must be all safe for democracy. Was it? And what
kind of democracy? And how much? And whose?
Then there was this freedom the little
guys were always getting killed for. Was it freedom from another
country? Freedom from work or disease or death? Freedom from your
mother-in-law? Please mister give us a bill of sale on this freedom
before we go out and get killed. Give us a bill of sale drawn
up plainly so we know in advance what we're getting killed for
and give us also a first mortgage on something as security so
we can be sure after we've won your war that we've got the same
kind of freedom we bargained for.
And take decency. Everybody said America
was fighting a war for the triumph of decency. But whose idea
of decency? And decency for who? Speak up and tell us what decency
is. Tell us how much better a decent dead man feels that an indecent
live one. Make a comparison there in facts like houses and tables.
Make it in words we can understand. And don't talk about honor.
The honor of a Chinese or an Englishman or an African negro or
an American or a Mexican? Please all you guys who want to fight
to preserve our honor let us know what the hell honor is. Is it
American honor for the whole world we're fighting for? Maybe the
world doesn't like it. Maybe the South Sea Islanders like their
For Christ sake give us things to fight
for we can see and feel and pin down and understand. No more highfalutin
words that mean nothing like native land. Motherland fatherland
homeland native land. It's all the same. What the hell good to
you is your native land after you're dead? Whose native land is
it after you're dead? If you get killed fighting for your native
land you've bought a pig in a poke. You've paid for something
you'll never collect.
And when they couldn't hook the little
guys into fighting for liberty or freedom or democracy or independence
or decency or honor they tried the women. Look at the dirty Huns
they would say look at them how they rape the beautiful French
and Belgian girls. Somebody's got to stop all that raping. So
come on little au' join the army and save the beautiful French
and Belgian girls. So the little guy got bewildered and he signed
up and in a little while a shell hit him and his life spattered
out of him in red meat pulp and ho was dead. Dead for another
word and all the fierce old bats of the D.A.R. get out and hurrah
themselves hoarse over his grave because he died for womanhood.
Now it might be that a guy would risk
getting killed if his women were being raped. But if he did why
he was only striking a bargain. He was simply saying that according
to the way he felt at the time the safety of his women was worth
more than his own life. But there wasn't anything particularly
noble or heroic about it. It was a straight deal his life for
something he valued more. It was more or less like any other deal
a man might make. But when you change your women to all the women
in the world why you begin to defend women in the bulk. To do
that you have to fight in the bulk. And by that time you're fighting
for a word again.
When armies begin to move and flags wave
and slogans pop up watch out little guy because it's somebody
else's chestnuts in the fire not yours. It's words you're fighting
for and you're not making an honest deal your life for something
better. You're being noble and after you're killed the thing you
traded your life for won't do you any good and chances are it
won't do anybody else any good either.
Maybe that's a bad way to think. There
are lots of idealists around who will say have we got so low that
nothing is more precious than life? Surely there are ideals worth
fighting for even dying for. If not then we are worse than the
beasts of the field and have sunk into barbarity. Then you say
that's all right let's be barbarous just so long as we don't have
war. You keep your ideals just as long as they don't cost me my
life. And they say but surely life isn't as important as principle.
Then you say oh no? Maybe not yours but mine is. What the hell
is principle? Name it and you can have it.
You can always hear the people who are
willing to sacrifice somebody else's life. They're plenty loud
and they talk all the time. You can find them in churches and
schools and newspapers and legislatures and congress. That's their
business. They sound wonderful. Death before dishonor. This ground
sanctified by blood. These men who died so gloriously.
They shall not have died in vain. Our
But what do the dead say?
Did anybody ever come back from the dead
any single one of the millions who got killed did any one of them
ever come back and say by god I'm glad I'm dead because death
is always better than dishonor? Did they say I'm glad I died to
make the world safe for democracy] Did they say I like death better
than losing liberty? Did any of them ever say it's good to think
I got my guts blown out for the honor of my country? Did any of
them ever say look at me I'm dead but I died for decency and that's
better than being alive? Did any of them ever say here I am and
I've been rotting for two years in a foreign grave but it's wonderful
to die for your native land? Did any of them say hurray I died
for womanhood and I'm happy see how I sing even though my mouth
choked with worms?
Nobody but the dead know whether all these
things people talk a;bout are worth dying for or not. And the
dead can't talk. So the words about noble deaths and sacred blood
and honor and such are all put into dead lips by grave robbers
and fakes who have no right to speak for the dead. If a man says
death before dishonor he is either a fool or a liar because he
doesn't know what death is. He isn't able to judge. He only knows
about living. He doesn't know anything about dying. If he is a
fool and believes in death before dishonor let him go ahead and
die. But all the little guys who are too busy to fight should
be left alone. And all the guys who say death before dishonor
is pure bull the important thing is life before death they should
be left alone too. Because the guys who say life isn't worth living
without some principle so important you're willing to die for
it they are all nuts. And the guys who say you'll see there'll
come a time you can't escape you're going to have to fight and
die because it'll mean your very life why they are also nuts.
They are talking like fools. They are saying that two and two
make nothing. They are saying that a man will have to die in order
to protect his life. If you agree to fight you agree to die. Now
if you die to protect your life you aren't alive anyhow so how
is there any sense in a thing like that? A man doesn't say I will
starve myself to death to keep from starving. He doesn't say I
will spend all my money in order to save my money. He doesn't
say I will burn my house down in order to keep it from burning.
Why then should he be willing to die for the privilege of living
There ought to be at least as much common sense about living and
dying as there is about going to the grocery store and buying
a loaf of bread.
And all the guys who died all the five
million or seven million or ten million who went out and died
to make the world safe for democracy to make the world safe for
words without meaning how did they feel about it just before they
died? How did they feel as they watched their blood pump out into
the mud? How did they feel when the gas hit their lungs and began
eating them all away? How did they feel as they lay crazed in
hospitals and looked death straight in the face and saw him come
and take them? I! the thing they were fighting for was important
enough to die for then it was also important enough for them to
be thinking about it in the last minutes of their lives. That
stood to reason. Life is awfully important so if you've given
it away you'd ought to think with all your mind in the last moments
of your life about the thing you traded it for. So did all those
kids die thinking of democracy and freedom and liberty and honor
and the safety of the home and the stars and stripes forever?
You're goddamn right they didn't.
They died crying in their minds like little
babies. They forgot the thing they were fighting for the things
they were dying for. They thought about things a man can understand.
They died yearning for the face of a friend. They died whimpering
for the voice of a mother a father a wife a child They died with
their hearts sick for one more look at the place where they were
born please god just one more look. They died moaning and sighing
for life. They knew what was important They knew that life was
everything and they died with screams and sobs. They died with
only one thought in the* minds and that was I want to live I want
to live I want to live.
He ought to know.
He was the nearest thing to a dead man
He was a dead man with a mind that could
still think. He knew all the answers that the dead knew and couldn't
think about. He could speak for the dead because he was one of
them. He was the first of all the soldiers who had died since
the beginning of time who still had a brain left to think with.
Nobody could dispute with him. Nobody could prove him wrong. Because
nobody knew but he.
He could tell all these high-talking murdering
sonsofbitches who screamed for blood just how wrong they were.
He could tell them mister there's nothing worth dying for I know
because I'm dead.
There's no word worth your life. I would
rather work in a coal mine deep under the earth and never see
sunlight and eat crusts and water and work twenty hours a day.
I would rather do that than be dead. I would trade democracy for
life. I would trade independence and honor and freedom and decency
for life. I will give you all these things and you give me the
power to walk and see and hear and breathe the air and taste my
food. You take the words. Give me back my life. I'm not asking
for a happy life now. I'm not asking for a decent life or an honorable
life or a free life. I'm beyond that. I'm dead so I'm simply asking
for life. To live. To feel. To be something that moves over the
ground and isn't dead. I know what death is and all you people
who talk about dying for words don't even know what life is.
There's nothing noble about dying. Not
even if you die for honor. Not even if you die the greatest hero
the world ever saw. Not even if you're so great your name will
never be forgotten and who's that great? The most important thing
is your life little guys. You're worth nothing dead except for
speeches. Don't let them kid you any more. Pay no attention when
they tap you on the shoulder and say come along we've got to fight
for liberty or whatever their word is there's always a word.
Just say mister I'm sorry I got no time
to die I'm too busy and then turn and run like hell. If they say
coward why don't pay any attention because it's your job to live
not to die. If they talk about dying for principles that are bigger
than life you say mister you're a liar Nothing is bigger than
life There's nothing noble in death. What s noble about lying
in the ground and rotting. What's noble about never seeing the
sunshine again? What's noble about having your legs and arms blown
off? What's noble about being an idiot? What's noble about being
blind and deaf and dumb? What's noble about being dead. Because
when you're dead mister it's all over. It's the end. You're less
than a dog less than a rat less than a bee or an ant less than
a white maggot crawling around on a dungheap. You're dead mister
and you died for nothing.
You're dead mister. Dead.
Somebody was plucking at his nightshirt
over his left breast. It was as if a forefinger and thumb were
pinching up a portion of it. He lay very quiet now deathly quiet
his mind jumping in a hundred different directions at once. He
could sense that something important was about to happen. There
was a little more fumbling with the pinch of nightshirt and then
the cloth fell back against his chest once more. It was heavy
now weighted down by something. He felt the sudden coolness of
metal through his nightshirt against his chest over his heart.
They had pinned something on him.
Suddenly he did a curious thing he hadn't
done for months. He started to reach with his right hand for the
heavy thing they had pinned on him and it seemed that he almost
clutched it in his fingers before he realized that he had no arm
to reach with and no fingers for clutching.
Someone was kissing his temple. There
was a slight tickling of hair as the kiss was given. He was being
kissed by a man with a moustache. First his left temple and then
his right one. Then he knew what they had done to him. They had
come into his room and they had decorated him with a medal. He
knew furthermore that he must be in France instead of England
because French generals were the ones who always kissed you when
they handed out medals. Still that might not be true. American
generals and English generals shook your hand but since he had
no hand to shake maybe this was an Englishman or an American who
had decided to follow the French custom because there was no other
way to do it. But still the chances now seemed even that he was
When he snapped back from thinking of
where he was and adjusting himself to the idea that it might be
France he was a little surprised to find that he was getting mad.
They had given him a medal. Three or four big guys famous guys
who still had arms and legs and who could see and talk and smell
and taste had come into his room and they had pinned a medal on
him. They could afford to couldn't they the dirty bastards? That
was all they ever had time to do just run around putting medals
on guys and feeling important and smug about it. How many generals
got killed in the war? There was Kitchener of course but that
was an accident. How many others? Name them name any of the soft-living
sonsofbitches and you could have them. How many of them had got
all shot up so they had to live wrapped in a sheet for the rest
of their lives? They had a lot of guts coming around and giving
When he had thought for an instant that
his mother and his sisters and Kareen might be standing beside
the bed he had wanted to hide. But now that he had generals and
big guys he felt a sudden fierce surging desire for them to see
him. Just as before he had started to reach for the medal without
an arm to reach with so now he began to blow the mask off his
face without having mouth and lips to blow with. He wanted them
to get just one look at that hole in his head. He wanted them
to get their fill of a face that began and ended with a forehead.
He lay there blowing and then he realized that the air from his
lungs was all escaping through his tube. He began to roll again
from shoulder to shoulder hoping to dislodge the mask.
While he lay there rolling and puffing
he felt a vibration way down in his throat a vibration that might
be a voice. It was a short deep vibration and he knew that it
was making a sound to their ears. Not a very big sound not a very
intelligent sound but it must seem to them at least as interesting
as the grunting of a pig. And if he could grunt like a pig why
then he was accomplishing a great thing because before he had
been completely silent. So he lay thrashing and puffing and grunting
like a pig hoping that they would see darned well how much he
appreciated their medal. While he was in the middle of this there
was an indefinite churning of footsteps and then the departing
vibrations of his guests. A moment later he was all alone in the
blackness in the silence. He was all alone with his medal.
Suddenly he quieted. He was thinking about
the vibrations of those footsteps. He had always carefully felt
for vibrations. He had measured the size of his nurses and the
dimensions of his room by them. But suddenly to feel the vibrations
of four or five people tramping across the room made him think.
It made him realize that vibrations were very important. He had
thought of them up to this time only as vibrations coming to him.
Now he began to consider that also there could be vibrations going
from him. The vibrations which he received told him everything-height
weight distance time. Why shouldn't he be able to tell something
to the outside world by vibrations also?
In the back of his mind something began
to glimmer. If he could in some way make use of vibrations he
could communicate with these people. Then the glimmer became a
great dazzling white light. It opened up such breathless prospects
that he thought he might suffocate from sheer excitement Vibrations
were a very important part of communication. The fall of a foot
on the floor is one kind of vibration. The tap of a telegraph
key is simply another kind.
When he was a kid way back maybe four
years ago or five he had a wireless set. He and Bill Harper used
to telegraph each other. Dot dash dot dash dot. Particularly on
rainy nights when their folks wouldn't let them go out and there
was nothing to do and they just lounged around the house and got
in everybody's way. On such nights he and Bill Harper used to
dot and dash at each other and they had a hell of a good time.
He still remembered the Morse code. All he had to do in order
to break through to people in the outside world was to lie in
bed and dot dash to the nurse. Then he could talk. Then he would
have smashed through his silence and blackness and helplessness.
Then the stump of a man without lips would talk. He had captured
time and he had tried to figure geography and now he would do
the greatest thing of them all he would talk. He would give messages
and receive messages and he would have made another step forward
in his struggle to get back to people in his terrible lonely eagerness
for the feel of people near him for the things that were in their
minds for the thoughts they might give him his own thoughts were
so puny so unfinished so incomplete. He would talk.
Tentatively he raised his head from the
pillow and let it fall back again. Then he did it twice quickly.
That would be a dash and two dots. The letter d. He tapped out
SOS against his pillow. Dot-dot-dot dot dot dot-dot-dot. SOS.
Help. If there was anybody in the whole world needed help he was
the guy and now he was asking for it. He wished the nurse would
hurry back. He began to tap out questions. What time is it? What's
the date? Where am I? Is the sun shining or is it cloudy? Does
anybody know who I am? Do my folks know I'm lying here? Don't
tell them. Don't let them know anything about it. SOS. Help.
The door of the room jarred open and the
nurse's footsteps came up to the bed. He began to tap out more
frantically now. Here he was right on the brink of finding people
of finding the world of funding a big part of life itself. Tap
tap tap. He was waiting for her tap tap tap in response. A tap
against his forehead or his chest. Even if she didn't know the
code she could tap just to let him know she understood what he
was doing. Then she could rush away for someone who could help
her get what he was saying. SOS. SOS. SOS. Help.
He felt the nurse standing there looking
down at him trying to figure out what he was doing. The mere possibility
that she didn't understand after all he had gone through before
discovering it himself shocked him into such excitement and fear
that he began to grunt again. He lay grunting and tapping grunting
and tapping until the muscles in the back of his neck ached until
his head ached until he felt that his chest would burst from his
eagerness to shout out to explain to her what he was trying to
do. And still he felt her standing motionless beside his bed looking
down and wondering.
Then he felt her hand against his forehead.
For just a moment she held it there. He kept on tapping growing
angry now and hopeless and feeling like he wanted to throw up.
She began to stroke his forehead in slow gentle motions. She was
stroking it in a way she had never done it before. He felt pity
in the softness of her touch. Then her hand went from his forehead
clear back through his hair and he remembered that Kareen used
to do that sometimes. But he put Kareen out of his mind and kept
right on tapping because this was such an important thing that
he couldn't stop for pleasant sensations.
The pressure of the hand against his forehead
was getting heavier. He realized that she was trying by the weight
of her hand to make him tired so he'd quit tapping. He began to
tap all the harder all the faster to show her that her plan wouldn't
work. He could feel the vertebrae in the back of his neck crack
and pop from the strain of this unexpected work. The nurse's hand
grew heavier and heavier on his head. His neck grew tireder and
tireder. It had been a terrible day a long day an exciting day.
His tapping grew slower and her hand got still heavier and finally
he lay back very quietly against the pillow while she brushed
He would be an educational exhibit. People
wouldn't learn much about anatomy from him but they would learn
all there was to know about war. That would be a great thing to
concentrate war in one stump of a body and to show it to people
so they could see the difference between a war that's in newspaper
headlines and liberty loan drives and a war that is fought out
lonesomely in the mud somewhere a war between a man and a high
explosive shell. Suddenly he took fire with the idea he got so
excited over it he forgot about his longing for air and people
this new idea was so wonderful. He would make an exhibit of himself
to show all the little guys what would happen to them and while
he was doing it he would be self-supporting and free. He would
do a favor to everybody including himself. He would show himself
to the little guys and to their mothers and fathers and brothers
and sisters and wives and sweethearts and grandmothers and grandfathers
and he would have a sign over himself and the sign would say here
is war and he would concentrate the whole war into such a small
piece of meat and bone and hair that they would never forget it
as long as they lived.
He began to tap that he wanted out. His
mind ran way ahead of his tapping but he kept on tapping dust
the same. What did he want? He'd tell them what he wanted the
goddam fools. He'd tell them he'd tap it out to them word by word
he'd remember every bit of it and put it down in dots and dashes
and then they would know. As he tapped he thought faster. He grew
angrier and more excited and he tapped faster and faster trying
to keep up with the words that were pounding on the inside of
his mind the words he could finally use all the words he had thought
of in all the years he had lain silent for he was talking now
for the first time he had learned how and he was talking to someone
Let me out he tapped let me out of here
let me out. I won't give you any trouble. I won't be any care.
I can earn my keep. I can do a job like anybody else. Take of
my nightshirt and build a glass case for me and take me down to
the places where people are having fun where they are on the lookout
for freakish things. Take me in my glass case to the beaches and
the country fairs and the church bazaars and the circuses and
the traveling carnivals.
You could do a wonderful business with
me I could pay you for the trouble. You could give them a good
spiel. They've heard of the half-man half-woman. They've heard
of the bearded woman and the thin man and the midget. They've
seen the human mermaids and the wild men from Borneo and the meateating
girl from the Congo throw her a fish and watch her snap for it.
They've seen the man who writes with his toes and the man who
walks on his hands and the Siamese twins and those little rows
of unborn babies pickled in alcohol.
But they've seen nothing like this. This
will be the goddamndest dime's worth a man ever had. This will
be a sensation in the show world and whoever sponsors my tour
will be a new Barnum and have fine notices in all the newspapers
because I am something you can really holler about. I am something
you can push with a money back guarantee. I am the deadman-who-is-alive.
I am the live-man-who-is-dead. If they won't come into our tent
with that build-up then I am something more. I'm the man who made
the world safe for democracy. If they won't fall for that then
for Christ sake they're no men. Let them join the army because
the army makes men.
Take me along country roads and stop by
every farmhouse and every field and ring a dinner gong so that
the farmers and their wives and their children and their hired
men and women can see me. Say to the farmers here is something
I'll bet you haven't seen before. Here is something you can't
plow under. Here is something that will never grow and flower.
The manure you plow into your fields is filthy enough but here
is something less than manure because it won t die and decay and
nourish even a weed. Here is something so terrible that if it
were born to a mare or a heifer or a sow or a ewe you would kill
it on the spot but you can't kill this because it is a human being.
It has a brain. It is thinking all the time. Believe it or not
this thing thinks and it is alive and it goes against every rule
of nature although nature doesn't make it so. You know what made
it so. Look at it medals real medals probably of solid gold. Lift
up the top of the case and you'll know what made it so. It stinks
Take me into the places where men work
and make things. Take me there and say boys here is a cheap way
to get by. Maybe times are bad and your salaries are low. Don't
worry boys because there is always a way to cure things like that.
Have a war and then prices go up and wages go up and everybody
makes a hell of a lot of money. There'll be one along pretty soon
boys so don't get impatient. It'll come and then you'll have your
Either way you win. If you don't have
to fight why you stay at home and make sixteen bucks a day working
in the shipyards. And if they draft you why you've got a good
chance of coming back without so many needs. Maybe you'll need
only one shoe instead of two that's saving money. Maybe you'll
be blind and if you are why then you never need worry about the
expense of glasses. Maybe you'll be lucky like me. Look at me
close boys I don't need anything. A little broth or something
three times a day and that's all. No shoes no socks no underwear
no shirt no gloves no hat no necktie no collar-buttons no vest
no coat no movies no vaudeville no football not even a shave.
Look at me boys I have no expenses at all You're suckers boys.
Get on the gravy train. I know what I'm talking about. I used
to need all the things that you need right now. I used to be a
consumer. I've consumed a lot in my time. I've consumed more shrapnel
and gunpowder than any living man. So don't get blue boys because
you'll have your chance there'll be another war along pretty soon
and then maybe you'll be lucky like me.
Take me into the schoolhouses all the
schoolhouses in the world. Suffer little children to come unto
me isn't that right? They may scream at first and have nightmares
at night but they'll get used to it because they've got to get
used to it and it's best to start them young. Gather them around
my case and say here little girl here little boy come and take
a look at your daddy. Come and look at yourself. You'll be like
that when you grow up to be great big strong men and women. You'll
have a chance to die for your country. And you may not die you
may come back like this. Not everybody dies little kiddies
Closer please. You over there against
the blackboard what's the matter with you? Quit crying you silly
little girl come over here and look at the nice man the nice man
who was a soldier boy. You remember him don't you? Don't you remember
little crybaby how you waved flags and saved tinfoil and put your
savings in thrift stamps? Of course you do you silly. Well here's
the soldier you did it for.
Come on youngsters take a nice look and
then we'll go into our nursery rhymes. New nursery rhymes for
new times. Hickory dickory dock my daddy's nuts from shellshock.
Humpty dumpty thought he was wise till gas came along and burned
out his eyes. A dillar a dollar a ten o'clock scholar blow off
his legs and then watch him holler. Rockabye baby in the treetop
don't stop a bomb or you'll probably flop. Now I lay me down to
sleep my bombproof cellar's good and deep but if I'm killed before
I wake remember god it's for your sake amen.
Take me into the colleges and universities
and academies and convents. Call the girls together all the healthy
beautiful young girls. Point down to me and say here girls is
your father. Here is that boy who was strong last night. Here
is your little son your baby son the fruit of your love the hope
of your future. Look down on him girls so you won't forget him.
See that red gash there with mucus hanging to it? That was his
face girls. Here girls touch it don't be afraid. Bend down and
kiss it. You'll have to wipe your lips afterward because they
will have a strange rotten stuff on them but that's all right
because a lover is a lover and here is your lover.
Call all the young men together and say
here is your brother here is your best friend here you are young
men. This is a very interesting case young men because we know
there is a mind buried down there. Technically this thing is living
meat like that tissue we kept alive all last summer in the lab.
But this is a different cut of meat because it also contains a
brain. Now listen to me closely young gentlemen. That brain is
thinking. Maybe it's thinking about music. Maybe it has a great
symphony all thought out or a mathematical formula that would
change the world or a book that would make people kinder or the
germ of an idea that would save a hundred million people from
cancer. This is a very interesting problem young gentlemen because
if this brain does hold such "cress how in the world are
we ever going to find out. In any event there you are young gentlemen
breathing and thinking and dead like a frog under chloroform with
it's stomach laid open so that its heartbeat may be seen so quiet
so helpless but yet alive. There is your future and your sweet
wild dreams there is the thing your sweethearts loved and there
is the thing your leaders urged it to be. Think well young gentlemen.
Think sharply young gentlemen and then we will go back to our
studies of the barbarians who sacked Rome.
Take me wherever there are parliaments
and diets and congresses and chambers of statesmen. I want to
be there when they talk about honor and justice and making the
world safe for democracy and fourteen points and the self determination
of peoples. I want to be there to remind them I haven't got a
tongue to stick into the cheek I haven't got either. But the statesmen
have tongues. The statesmen have cheek. Put my glass case upon
the speaker's desk and every time the gavel descends let me feel
its vibration through my little jewel case. Then let them speak
of trade policies and embargoes and new colonies and old grudges.
Let them debate the menace of the yellow race "d the white
man's burden and the course of empire and why should we take all
this crap off Germany or whoever the next Germany is. Let them
talk about the South American market and why so-and-so is beating
us out of it and why our merchant marine can't compete and oh
what the hell let's send a good stiff note. Let them talk more
munitions and airplanes and battleships and tanks and gases why
of course we've got to have them we can't get along without them
how in the world could we protect the peace if we didn't have
them? Let them form blocs and alliances and mutual assistance
pacts and guarantees of neutrality. Let them draft notes and ultimatums
and protests and accusations.
But before they vote on them before they
give the order for all the little guys to start killing each other
let the main guy rap his gavel on my case and point down at me
and say here gentlemen is the only issue before this house and
that is are you for this thing here or are you against it. And
if they are against it why goddam them let them stand up like
men and vote. And if they are for it let them be hanged and drawn
and quartered and paraded through the streets in small chopped
up little bits and thrown out into the fields where no clean animal
will touch them and let their chunks rot there and may no green
thing ever grow where they rot.
Take me into your churches your great
towering cathedrals that have to be rebuilt every fifty years
because they are destroyed by war. Carry me in my glass box down
the aisles where kings and priests and brides and children at
their confirmation have gone so many times before to kiss a splinter
of wood from a true cross on which was nailed the body of a man
who was lucky enough to die. Set me high on your altars and call
on god to look down upon his murderous little children his dearly
beloved little children. Wave over me the incense I can't smell.
Swill down the sacramental wine I can't taste. Drone out the prayers
I can't hear. Go through the old holy gestures for which I have
no legs and to arms. Chorus out the hallelujas I can't sing. Bring
them out loud and strong for me your hallelujas all of them for
me because I know the truth and you don't you fools. You fools
you fools you fools ...
The vibrations were coming toward him
again. The man was returning with an answer. Great merciful god
thank you here it is here it is my answer. Here is my triumph
here is my return from the dead here is life vibrating against
the floor singing in my bedsprings singing like all the angels
A finger began to tap against his forehead.
W H A T
Y O U
A S K
A G A I N S T
R E G U L A T I O NS
W H O
A R E
The tapping went on against his forehead
but he paid no more attention to it. Everything in his mind went
suddenly blank hollow completely quiet. A moment of this and then
he began to think about the message to make certain there was
no mistake that it meant exactly what it said. And he knew it
He could almost hear the wail of pain
that went up from his heart. It was a sharp terrible personal
pain the kind of pain that comes only when someone to whom you
have never done any harm turns on you and says goodbye goodbye
forever without any reason for doing it. Without any reason at
He had done nothing to them. He wasn't
to blame for the trouble he was causing yet they were drawing
the curtain around him stuffing him back into the womb back into
the grave saying to him goodbye don't bother us don't come back
to life the dead should stay dead and we are done with you.
He had hurt no one. He had tried to give
them as little trouble as possible. He was a great care that was
true but he hadn't intentionally become so. He wasn't a thief
or a drunkard or a liar or a murderer. He was a man a guy no worse
no better than anybody else. He was just a guy who'd had to go
to war who'd been bad hurt and now was trying to get out from
his prison to feel fresh cool air on his skin to sense the color
and movement of people around him. That was all he wanted. And
to him who had harmed nobody they were saying goodnight goodbye
stay where you are don't give us any trouble you are beyond life
you are beyond death you are even beyond hope you are gone you
are finished forever goodnight and goodbye.
In one terrible moment he saw the whole
thing. They wanted only to forget him. He was upon their conscience
so they had abandoned him they had forsaken him. They were the
only people in the world who could help him. They were his last
court of appeal. He might rage and storm and howl against their
verdict but it would do him no good. They had decided. Nothing
could change them. He was completely at their mercy and they had
no mercy. For him there was no hope. He might just as well come
face to face with the truth
Every moment of his life since he had
awakened into the darkness and dumbness and terror every moment
of it had been concentrated upon the time some day some year when
he would break through to them. Now he had done it. He had broken
through and they had refused him. Before even in his most terrible
moments there had been a vague hope that kept him going. It had
prevented him from going stark raving crazy it had shined like
a glow in the distance toward which he never stopped moving. Now
the glow was gone and there was nothing left. There was no reason
for him to fool himself about it any longer. These people didn't
want him. Darkness desertion loneliness silence horror unending
horror-these were his life from now on without a single ray of
hope to lighten his sufferings. They were his whole future. It
was for them that his mother had him. Curse her curse the world
curse the sunlight curse god curse every decent thing on earth.
Goddamn them goddamn them and torture them as he was being tortured.
God give them darkness and silence and dumbness and helplessness
and horror and fear the great towering terrible fear that was
with him now the desolation and the loneliness that would be with
No no no
He wouldn't let them do it.
It was impossible for one human being
to do this to another. No one could be so cruel They didn't understand
that was all he hadn't made it plain enough to them. He couldn't
give up now he must go on and on until they understood because
they were good people they were good kindly people and they needed
only to understand.
He began to tap again.
He began to tap again and to tell them
pleadingly haltingly humbly that please he wanted out. He wanted
to feel air against him the fresh clean air outside a hospital.
Please understand. He wanted the feel of people of his own laud
bee and happy. There really wasn't any good reason except that.
The thing about showing him in a case forget that it was just
a way to raise money and make it easier on them. Only that. He
was lonesome. That was all just lonesome. There were no more reasons
he could give them. There was nothing he could do except to try
to let them know that inside the skin that covered his body there
was so much terror so much loneliness that it was only right they
should permit him such a small thing as the freedom he could pay
As he tapped he felt the nurse's hand
against his forehead stroking him soothing him. He thought to
himself I wish I could see her face. It must be a beautiful face
she has such beautiful hands. Then against the stump of his left
arm he felt a sudden wet coolness. The man who had tapped his
answer was applying an alcoholic swab. Oh god he thought I know
what that means don't do it please don't. Then he felt the sharp
deadly prick of the needle. They were giving him dope again.
Oh god he thought they won't even let
me talk. They won't even listen to me any more. All they want
is to make a madman out of me so that whenever I tap my messages
to them they can say he's only crazy don't pay any attention to
him poor fellow he's nuts. That's what they're trying to do god
they're trying to drive me crazy and I've fought so hard I've
been so strong that the only way they can do it is by giving me
He felt himself sinking back back into
the place where they wanted to thrust him. He felt the tingle
of his own flesh and he began to see the vision. He saw the yellow
sand and he saw the heat waves coming up from it. Above the heat
waves he saw Christ in his flowing robes and his crown of thorns
with the blood dripping from them. He saw Christ quivering in
the desert heat coming up from Tucson. And far off in the distance
he heard a woman's voice crying my son my little boy my son .
In sheer terrible desperation he shut
out the voice he pushed the vision away. Not yet. Not yet. He
wasn't through. He would talk to them he would keep on tapping.
The muscles of his body were turning to water but he would keep
on tapping. He would not let them lower the lid to his coffin.
He would scream and claw and fight as any man should do when they
are burying him alive. In his last moment of consciousness in
his last moment of life he would still fight he would still tap.
He would keep on and on and on tapping all the while tapping when
he was asleep tapping when he was doped tapping when he was in
pain tapping forever. They might not answer him they might ignore
him but at least they would never be able to forget that as long
as he lived here was a man who was talking to them talking to
them all the time.
His taps came slower and slower and the
vision swam toward him and he pushed it away and it swam toward
him again. The woman's voice faded in and out like something that
is carried on the wind. But still he tapped.
He was tapping why? why? why?
Why didn't they want him? Why were they
shutting the lid of the coffin against him? Why didn't they want
him to speak? Why didn't they want him to be seen? Why didn't
they want him to be free? It was five maybe six years now since
he had been blown out of the world. The war must be over by now.
No war could last that long killing so many people there weren't
enough people to kill. If the war was over then all the dead had
been buried and all the prisoners had been released. Why shouldn't
he be released too? Why not unless they figured him as one of
the dead and if that was true why didn't they kill him why didn't
they put a stop to his suffering? Why should he be a prisoner?
He had committed no crime. What right had they to keep him? What
possible reason could they have to be so inhuman to him?
Why? why? why?
And then suddenly he saw. He had a vision
of himself as a new kind of Christ as a man who carries within
himself all the seeds of a new order of things. He was the new
messiah of the battlefields saying to people as I am so shall
you be. For he had seen the future he had tasted it and now he
was living it. He had seen the airplanes flying in the sky he
had seen the skies of the future filled with them black with them
and now he saw the horror beneath. He saw a world of lovers forever
parted of dreams never consummated of plans that never turned
into reality. He saw a world of dead fathers and crippled brothers
and crazy screaming sons. He saw a world of armless mothers clasping
headless babies to their breasts trying to scream out their grief
from throats that were cancerous with gas. He saw starved cities
black and cold and motionless and the only things in this whole
dead terrible world that made a move or a sound were the airplanes
that blackened the sky and far off against the horizon the thunder
of the big guns and the puffs that rose from barren tortured earth
when their shells exploded.
That was it he had it he understood it
now he had told them his secret and in denying him they had told
He was the future he was a perfect picture
of the future and they were afraid to let anyone see what the
future was like. Already they were looking ahead they were figuring
the future and somewhere in the future they saw war. To fight
that war they would need men and if men saw the future they wouldn't
fight. So they were masking the future they were keeping the future
a soft quiet deadly secret. They knew that if all the little people
all the little guys saw the future they would begin to ask questions.
They would ask questions and they would find answers and they
would say to the guys who wanted them to fight they would say
you lying thieving sons-of-bitches we won't fight we won't be
dead we will live we are the world we are the future and we will
not let you butcher us no matter what you say no matter what speeches
you make no matter what slogans you write. Remember it well we
we we are the world we are what makes it go round we make bread
and cloth and guns we are the hub of the wheel and the spokes
and the wheel itself without us you would be hungry naked worms
and we will not die. We are immortal we are the sources of life
we are the lowly despicable ugly people we are the great wonderful
beautiful people of the world and we are sick of it we are utterly
weary we are done with it forever and ever because we are the
living and we will not be destroyed.
If you make a war if there are guns to
be aimed if there are bullets to be fired if there are men to
be killed they will not be us. They will not be us the guys who
grow wheat and turn it into food the guys who make clothes and
paper and houses and tiles the guys who build dams and power plants
and string the long moaning high tension wires the guys who crack
crude oil down into a dozen different parts who make light globes
and sewing machines and shovels and automobiles and airplanes
and tanks and guns oh no it will not be us who die. It will be
It will be you-you who urge us on to battle
you who incite us against ourselves you who would have one cobbler
kill another cobbler you who would have one man who works kill
another man who works you who would have one human being who wants
only to live kill another human being who wants only to live.
Remember this. Remember this well you people who plan for war.
Remember this you patriots you fierce ones you spawners of hate
you inventors of slogans. Remember this as you have never remembered
anything else in your lives.
We are men of peace we are men who work
and we want no quarrel. But if you destroy our peace if you take
away our work if you try to range us one against the other we
will know what to do. If you tell us to make the world safe for
democracy we will take you seriously and by god and by Christ
we will make it so. We will use the guns you force upon us we
will use them to defend our very lives and the menace to our lives
does not lie on the other side of a nomansland that was set apart
without our consent it lies within our own boundaries here and
now we have seen it and we know it.
Put the guns into our hands and we will
use them. Give us the slogans and we will turn them into realities.
Sing the battle hymns and we will take them up where you left
off. Not one not ten not ten thousand not a million not ten millions
not a hundred millions but a billion two billions of us all the
people of the world we will have the slogans and we will have
the hymns and we will have the guns and we will use them and we
will live. Make no mistake of it we will live. We will be alive
and we will walk and talk and eat and sing and laugh and feel
and love and bear our children in tranquillity in security in
decency in peace. You plan the wars you masters of men plan the
wars and point the way and we will point the gun.