Hell to Get Along With

Kurt Vonnegut
(first published as "Long Walk To Forever")
from the collection Welcome to the Monkey House

	They had grown up next door to each other, on the fringe of a 
city, near fields and woods and orchards, within sight of a lovely bell 
tower that belonged to the school for the blind.
	Now they were twenty, had not seen each other for nearly a year.  
There had always been a playful, comfortable warmth between them, but 
never any talk of love.
	His name was Newt.  Her name was Catharine.  In the early 
afternoon, Newt knocked on Catharines front door.
	Catharine came to the door.  She was carrying a fat, glossy 
magazine she had been reading.  The magazine was devoted entirely to 
brides.  "Newt!" she said.  She was surprised to see him.
	"Could you come for a walk?" he said.  He was a shy person, even 
with Catharine.  He covered his shyness by speaking absently, as though 
what really concerned him were far away- as though he were a secret agent 
pausing briefly on a mission between beautiful, distant, and sinister 
points.  This manner of speaking had always been Newts style, even in 
matters that concerned him desperately.
	"A walk?" said Catharine.
	"One foot in front of the other," said Newt, "through leaves, 
over bridges--"
	"I had no idea you were in town," she said.
	"Just this minute got in," he said.
	"Still in the Army, I see," she said.
	"Seven more months to go," he said.  He was a private first class 
in the Artillery.  His uniform was rumpled.  His shoes were dusty.  He 
needed a shave.  He held out his hand for the magazine.  "Lets see the 
pretty book," he said.
	She gave it to him.  "Im getting married, Newt," she said.
	"I know," he said.  "Lets go for a walk."
	"Im awfully busy, Newt," she said, "The wedding is only a week away."
	"If we go for a walk," he said, "it will make you rosy.  It will 
make you a rosy bride."  He turned the pages of the magazine.  "A rosy 
bride like her- like her- like her," he said, showing her rosy brides.
	Catharine turned rosy, thinking about rosy brides.
	"That will be my present to Henry Stewart Chasens," said Newt, 
"By talking you for a walk, Ill be giving him a rosy bride."
	"You know his name?" said Catharine.
	"Mother wrote," he said, "from Pittsburgh?"
	"Yes," she said, "Youd like him."
	"Maybe," he said.
	"Can- can you come to the wedding, Newt?" she said.
	"That I doubt," he said.
	"Your furlough isnt for long enough?" she said.
	"Furlough?" said Newt.  He was studying a two-page add for flat 
silver.  "Im not on furlough," he said.
	"Oh?" she said.
	"Im what they call A.W.O.L.," said Newt.
	"Oh, Newt!  Youre not!" she said.
	"Sure I am," he said, still looking at the magazine.
	"Why, Newt?" she said.
	"I have to find out what your silver pattern is," he said.  He 
read the names of silver patterns from the magazine.  "Albemarle?  
Heather?" he said.  "Legend?  Rambler Rose?"  He looked up, smiled.  "I 
plan to give you and your husband a spoon," he said.
	"Newt, Newt-- tell me really," she said.
	"I want to go for a walk," he said.
	She wrung her hands in sisterly anguish.  "Oh, Newt- youre 
fooling me about being A.W.O.L.," she said.
	Newt imitated a police siren softly, raised his eyebrows.
	"Where- where from?" she said.
	"Fort Bragg," he said.
	"North Carolina?" she said.
	"Thats right," he said, "Near Fayetteville- where Scarlet OHara 
went to school."
	"How did you get here, Newt?" she said.
	He raised his thumb, jerked it in a hitchhike gesture.  "Two 
days," he said.
	"Does your mother know?" she said.
	"I didnt come to see my mother," he told her.
	"Who did you come to see?" she said.
	"You," he said.
	"Why me?" she said.
	"Because I love you," he said.  "Now can we take a walk?" he 
said.  "One foot in front of the other- through leaves, over bridges-"

	They were taking the walk now, were in a woods with a brown-leaf floor.
	Catharine was angry and rattled, close to tears.  "Newt," she 
said, "this is absolutely crazy."
	"How so?" said Newt.
	"What a crazy time to tell me you love me," she said.  "You never 
talked that way before."  She stopped walking.
	"Lets keep walking," he said.
	"No," she said.  "So far, no farther.  I shouldnt have come out 
with you at all," she said.
	"You did," he said.
	"To get you out of the house," she said, "If somebody walked in 
and heard you talking to me that way, a week before the wedding-"
	"What would they think?" he said.
	"Theyd think you were crazy," she said.
	"Why?" he said.
	Catharine took a deep breath, made a speech.  "Let me say that Im 
deeply honored by this crazy thing youve done," she said.  "I cant 
believe that youre really A.W.O.L., but maybe you are.  I cant believe 
you really love me, but maybe you do.  But-"
	"I do," said Newt.
	"Well, Im deeply honored," said Catharine, "and Im very fond of 
you as a friend, Newt, extremely fond- but its just too late."  She took 
a step away from him.  "Youve never even kissed me," she said, and she 
protected herself with her hands.  "I dont mean you should do it now.  I 
just mean this is all so unexpected.  I havent got the remotest idea of 
how to respond."
	"Just walk some more," he said.  "Have a nice time."
	They started walking again.
	"How did you expect me to react?" she said.
	"How would I know what to expect?" he said.  "Ive never done 
anything like this before."
	"Did you think I would throw myself into your arms?" she said.
	"Maybe," he said.
	"Im sorry to disappoint you," she said.
	"Im not disappointed," he said.  "I wasnt counting on it.  This 
is very nice, just walking."
	Catharine stopped again.  "You know what happens next?" she said.
	"Nope," he said.
	"We shake hands," she said.  "We shake hands and part friends," 
she said. "Thats what happens next."
	Newt nodded.  "All right," he said.  "Remember me from time to 
time.  Remember how much I loved you."
	Involuntarily, Catharine burst into tears.  She turned her back 
to Newt, looked into the infinite colonnade of the woods.
	"What does that mean?" said Newt.
	"Rage!" said Catharine.  She clenched her hands.  "You have no right-"
	"I had to find out," he said.
	"If Id loved you," she said, "I would have let you know before now."
	"You would?" he said.
	"Yes," she said.  She faced him, looked up at him, her face quite 
red.  "You would have known," she said.
	"How?" he said.
	"You would have seen it," she said.  "Women arent very clever at 
hiding it."
	Newt looked closely at Catharines face now.  To her 
consternation, she realized that what she had said was true, that a woman 
couldnt hide love.
	Newt was seeing love now.
	And he did what he had to do.  He kissed her.

	"Youre hell to get along with!" she said when Newt let her go.
	"I am?" said Newt.
	"You shouldnt have done that," she said.
	"You didnt like it?" he said.
	"What did you expect," she said- "wild, abandoned passion?"
	"I keep telling you," he said, "I never know whats going to 
happen next."
	"We say good-bye," she said.
	He frowned slightly.  "All right," he said.
	She made another speech.  "Im not sorry we kissed," she said.  
"That was sweet.  We should have kissed, weve been so close.  Ill always 
remember you, Newt, and good luck."
	"You too," he said.
	"Thank you, Newt," she said.
	"Thirty days," he said.
	"What?" she asked.
	"Thirty days in the stockade," he said- "thats what one kiss will 
cost me."
	"I- Im sorry," she said, "but I didnt ask you to go A.W.O.L."
	"I know," he said.
	"You certainly dont deserve any heros reward for doing something 
as foolish as that," she said.
	"Must be nice to be a hero," said Newt.  "Is Henry Stewart 
Chasens a hero?"
	"He might be, if he got the chance," said Catharine.  She noted 
uneasily that they had begun to walk again.  The farewell had been forgotten.
	"You really love him?" he said.
	"Certainly I love him!" she said hotly.  "I wouldnt marry him if 
I didnt love him!"
	"Whats good about him?" said Newt
	"Honestly!" she cried, stopping again.  "Do you have any idea how 
offensive youre being?  Many, many, many things are good about Henry!  
Yes," she said, "and many, many, many things are probably bad too.  But 
that isnt any of your business.  I love Henry, and I dont have to argue 
his merits with you!"
	"Sorry," said Newt.
	"Honestly!" said Catharine.
	Newt kissed her again.  He kissed her again because she wanted 
him to.

	They were now in a large orchard.
	"How did we get so far from home, Newt?" said Catharine.
	"One foot in front of the other- through leaves, over bridges," 
said Newt.
	"They add up- the steps." she said.
	Bells rang in the tower of the school for the blind nearby.
	"School for the blind," said Newt.
	"School for the blind," said Catharine.  She shook her head in 
drowsy wonder.  "Ive got to go back now," she said.
	"Say good-by," said Newt.
	"Every time I do," said Catharine, "I seem to get kissed."
	Newt sat down on the close-cropped grass under an apple tree.  
"Sit down," he said.
	"No," she said.
	"I wont touch you," he said.
	"I dont believe you," she said.
	She sat down under another tree, twenty feet away from him.  She 
closed her eyes.
	"Dream of Henry Stewart Chasens," he said.
	"What?" she said.
	"Dream of your wonderful husband-to-be," he said.
	"All right, I will," she said.  She closed her eyes tighter, 
caught glimpses of her husband-to-be.
	Newt yawned.
	The bees were humming in the trees, and Catharine almost fell 
asleep.  When she opened her eyes she saw that Newt really was asleep.
	He began to snore softly.
	Catharine let Newt sleep for an hour, and while he slept she 
adored him with all her heart.
	The shadows of the apple trees grew to the east.  The bells in 
the tower of the school for the blind rang again.
	"*Chick-a-dee-dee-dee*," went a chickadee.
	Somewhere far away an automobile starter nagged and failed, 
nagged and failed, fell still.
	Catherine came out from under her tree, knelt by Newt.
	"Newt?" she said.
	"Hm?" he said.  He opened his eyes.
	"Late," she said.
	"Hello, Catharine," he said.
	"Hello, Newt," she said.
	"I love you," he said.
	"I know," she said.
	"Too late," he said.
	"Too late," she said.
	He stood, stretched groaningly.  "A very nice walk," he said.
	I thought so," she said.
	"Part company here?" he said.
	"Where will you go?" she said.
	"Hitch into town, turn myself in," he said.
	"Good luck," she said.
	"You, too," he said.  "Marry me, Catharine?"
	"No," she said.
	He smiled, stared at her hard for a moment, then walked away quickly.
	Catharine watched him grow smaller in the long perspective of 
shadow and trees, knew if he stopped and turned now, if he called to her, 
she would run to him.  She would have no choice.
	Newt did stop.  he did turn.  He did call.  "Catharine," he called.
	She ran to him, put her arms around him, could not speak.

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