Late that night Hungry Joe dreamed that Huple’s cat was sleeping on his face, suffocating him, and when he woke up, Huple’s cat was sleeping on his face. His agony was terrifying, the piercing, unearthly howl with which he split the moonlit dark vibrating in its own impact for seconds afterward like a devastating shock. A numbing silence followed, and then a riotous din rose from inside his tent.
Yossarian was among the first ones there. When he burst through the entrance, Hungry Joe had his gun out and was struggling to wrench his arm free from Huple to shoot the cat, who kept spitting and feinting at him ferociously to distract him from shooting Huple. Both humans were in their GI underwear. The unfrosted lightbulb overhead was swinging crazily on its loose wire, an the jumbled black shadows kept swirling and bobbing chaotically, so that the entire tent seemed to be reeling. Yossarian reached out instinctively for balance and then launched himself forward in a prodigious dive that crushed the three combatants to the ground beneath him. He emerged from the melee with the scruff of a neck in each hand - Hungry Joe’s and the cat’s. Hungry Joe and the cat glared at each other savagely. The cat spat viciously at Hungry Joe, and Hungry Joe tried to hit it with a haymaker.
‘A fair fight,’ Yossarian decreed, and all the others who had come running to the uproar in horror began cheering ecstatically in a tremendous overflow of relief. ‘We’ll have a fair fight,’ he explained officially to Hungry Joe and the cat after he had carried them both outside, still holding them apart by the scruffs of their necks. ‘Fists, fangs and claws. But no guns,’ he warned Hungry Joe. ‘And no spitting,” he warned the cat sternly. ‘When I turn you both loose, go. Break clean in the clinches and come back fighting. Go!’
There was a huge, giddy crowd of men who were avid for any diversion, but the cat turned chicken the moment Yossarian released him and fled from Hungry Joe ignominiously like a yellow dog. Hungry Joe was declared the winner. He swaggered away happily with hte proud smile of a champion, his shriveled head high and his emaciated chest out. He went back to bed victorious and dreamed again that Huple’s cat was sleeping on his face, suffocating him.
|—||Catch-22, by Joseph Heller|