Sunday, May 15, 2016

In honor of my friend Billy Jones; "Welcome to the Monkey House", a short story about Billy the Poet, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

"...Welcome to the Monkey House is a collection of 25 short stories written by Kurt Vonnegut, first published in August 1968. The stories range from war-time epics to futuristic thrillers, given with satire and Vonnegut's unique edge. The stories are often inter-twined and convey the same underlying messages on human nature and present society...."
About the story "Welcome to the Monkey House", 
from a book entitled Welcome to the Monkey House;

"In the not-so-distant future, a criminal mastermind named Billy the Poet is on the loose and on his way to Cape Cod. His goal is to deflower one of the hostesses at the Ethical Suicide Parlor in Hyannis.

Spoiler alert; The link to the whole short story
if one were so inclined to read the entirety of the piece;

The world government runs the parlors and urges people to commit suicide to help keep the population of 17 billion stable. It also requires that the hostesses at these establishments be virgins on the basis that this makes the idea of suicide more appealing, especially to middle-aged and older men.

The government also suppresses the population’s sexual desire with a drug that numbs them from the waist down (but does not render them infertile, as that is seen as unethical and in violation of the religious principles of many).

In a career spanning over 50 years, 
Vonnegut published fourteen novels, three short story collections, 
five plays, and five works of non-fiction. 

This drug is called "ethical birth control," and was originally developed by a druggist who had been offended when, on a family outing to the zoo, his group were confronted by the sight of a male monkey masturbating.

Billy is a member of a surreptitious group called the "Nothingheads," people who refuse to take the government-required drugs. Despite a sting by the authorities, Billy the Poet outwits them and kidnaps a six-foot blonde suicide parlor hostess, Nancy McLuhan. McLuhan vows to fight Billy to the very end, but the drugs wear off, and when Billy rapes her, her mind opens as well.

Billy convinces her that sex and death are not the answer; birth control pills are.

In the end, Billy lets Nancy go, but she is forever changed and, apparently, a convert to Nothingheadism. Billy leaves her a note attached to a bottle of birth control pills that says simply, "Welcome to the Monkey House."
The story in full is very worth reading;