Slaughterhouse Five


PAGE 13




Then the shelling stopped, and a hidden Gennan with a loudspeaker told the
Americans to put their weapons down and come out of the woods with their hands on the



top of their heads, or the shelling would start again. It wouldn�t stop until everybody in
there was dead.

So the Americans put their weapons down, and they came out of the woods with their
hands on top of their heads, because they wanted to go on living, if they possibly could.

Billy traveled in time back to the veterans' hospital again. The blanket was over his
head. It was quiet outside the blanket. "Is my mother gone?' said Billy.

'Yes.'

Billy peeked out from under his blanket. His fiancee was out there now, sitting on the
visitor's chair. Her name was Valencia Merble. Valencia was the daughter of the owner of
the Ilium School of Optometry. She was rich. She was as big as a house because she
couldn�t stop eating. She was eating now. She was eating a Three Musketeers Candy Bar.
She was wearing trifocal lenses in harlequin frames, and the frames were trimmed with
rhinestones. The glitter of the rhinestones was answered by the glitter of the diamond in
her engagement ring. The diamond was insured for eighteen hundred dollars. Billy had
found that diamond in Germany. It was booty of war.

Billy didn�t want to marry ugly Valencia. She was one of the symptoms of his disease.
He knew he was going crazy, when he heard himself proposing marriage to her, when he
begged her to take the diamond ring and be his companion for life.

Billy said, 'Hello,' to her, and she asked him if he wanted some candy, and he said, 'No,
thanks.'

She asked him how he was, and he said, 'Much better, thanks.' She said that everybody
at the Optometry School was sorry he was sick and hoped he would be well soon, and
Billy said, 'When you see 'em, tell �em, "Hello."�

She promised she would.

She asked him if there was anything she could bring him from the outside, and he said,
'No. I have just about everything I want.'

'What about books?' said Valencia.

'I'm right next to one of the biggest private libraries in the world,� said Billy, meaning
Eliot Rosewater's collection of science fiction.

Rosewater was on the next bed, reading, and Billy drew him into the conversation,
asked him what he was reading this time.

So Rosewater told him. It was The Gospel from Outer Space, by Kilgore Trout. It was
about a visitor from outer space, shaped very much like a Tralfamadorian by the way.
The visitor from outer space made a serious study of Christianity, to leam, if he could,
why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the trouble
was slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of the
Gospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of the
low.

But the Gospels actually taught this:

Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn't well connected. So it goes.


The flaw in the Christ stories, said the visitor from outer space, was that Christ, who
didn't look like much, was actually the Son of the Most Powerful Being in the Universe.



Readers understood that, so, when they came to the crucifixion, they naturally thought,
and Rosewater read out loud again:

Oh, boy-they sure picked the wrong guy to lynch that time!

And that thought had a brother: 'There are right people to lynch.' Who? People not well
connected. So it goes.

The visitor from outer space made a gift to Earth of a new Gospel. In it, Jesus really
was a nobody, and a pain in the neck to a lot of people with better connections than he
had. He still got to say all the lovely and puzzling things he said in the other Gospels.

So the people amused themselves one day by nailing him to a cross and planting the
cross in the ground. There couldn't possibly be any repercussions, the lynchers thought.
The reader would have to think that, too, since the new Gospel hammered home again
and again what a nobody Jesus was.

And then, just before the nobody died, the heavens opened up, and there was thunder
and lightning. The voice of God came crashing down. He told the people that he was
adopting the bum as his son giving him the full powers and privileges of The Son of the
Creator of the Universe throughout all eternity. God said this From this moment on, Fie
will punish horribly anybody who tormen ts a bum who has no connections!

Billy's fiancee had finished her Three Musketeers Candy Bar. Now she was eating a
Milky Way.

'Forget books,' said Rosewater, throwing that particular book under his bed. 'The hell
with 'em.'

'That sounded like an interesting one,' said Valencia.

Jesus-if Kilgore Trout could only write!' Rosewater exclaimed. He had a point: Kilgore
Trout's unpopularity was deserved. His prose was frightful. Only his ideas were good.

'I don�t think Trout has ever been out of the country, � Rosewater went on. 'My God-he
writes about Earthlings all the time, and they're all Americans. Practically nobody on
Earth is an American.'

'Where does he live?" Valencia asked.

'Nobody knows,� Rosewater replied. 'I'm the only person who ever heard of him, as far
as I can tell. No two books have the same publisher, and every time I write him in care of
a publisher, the letter comes back because the publisher has failed.�

He changed the subject now, congratulated Valencia on her engagement ring.

'Thank you,' she said, and held it out so Rosewater could get a close look. 'Billy got
that diamond in the war.'

'That's the attractive thing about war,' said Rosewater. Absolutely everybody gets a
little something.'

With regard to the whereabouts of Kilgore Trout: he actually lived in Ilium, Billy's
hometown, friendless and despised. Billy would meet him by and by.

'Billy' said Valencia Merble.

'Hm?'

'You want to talk about our silver pattern? '

'Sure.'

'I've got it narrowed down pretty much to either Royal Danish or Rambler Rose.�



�Rambler Rose,' said Billy.

'It isn't something we should rush into,' she said. 'I mean whatever we decide on, that's
what we�re going to have to live with the rest of our lives.�

Billy studied the pictures. 'Royal Danish.' he said at last.

'Colonial Moonlight is nice, too.�

'Yes, it is,' said Billy Pilgrim.

And Billy traveled in time to the zoo on Tralfamadore. He was forty-four years old, on
display under a geodesic dome. He was reclining on the lounge chair which had been his
cradle during his trip through space. He was naked. The Tralfamadorians were
interested in his body -all of it. There were thousands of them outside, holding up their
little hands so that their eyes could see him. Billy had been on Tralfamadore for six
Earthling months now. He was used to the crowd.

Escape was out of the question. The atmosphere outside the dome was cyanide, and
Earth was 446,120,000,000,000,000 miles away.

Billy was displayed there in the zoo in a simulated Earthling habitat. Most of the
furnishings had been stolen from the Sears & Roebuck warehouse in Iowa City, Iowa.
There was a color television set and a couch that could be converted into a bed. There
were end tables with lamps and ashtrays on them by the couch. There was a home bar
and two stools. There was a little pool table. There was wall-to-wall carpeting in federal
gold, except in the kitchen and bathroom areas and over the iron manhole cover in the
center of the floor. There were magazines arranged in a fan on the coffee table in front of
the couch.

There was a stereophonic phonograph. The phonograph worked. The television didn�t.
There was a picture of one cowboy shooting another one pasted to the television tube. So
it goes.

There were no wall in the dome, nor place for Billy to hide. The mint green bathroom
fixtures were right out in the open. Billy got off his lounge chair now, went into the
bathroom and took a leak. The crowd went wild.

Billy brushed his teeth on Tralfamadore, put in his partial denture, and went into his
kitchen. His bottled-gas range and his refrigerator and his dishwasher were mint green,
too. There was a picture painted on the door of the refrigerator. The refrigerator had
come that way. It was a picture of a Gay Nineties couple on a bicycle built for two.

Billy looked at that picture now, tried to think something about the couple. Nothing
came to him. There didn't seem to be anything to think about those two people.

Billy ate a good breakfast from cans. He washed his cup and plate and knife and fork
and spoon and saucepan, put them away. Then he did exercises he had learned in the
Army-straddle jumps, deep knee bends, sit-ups and push-ups. Most Tralfamadorians had
no way of knowing Bill's body and face were not beautiful. They supposed that he was a
splendid specimen. This had a pleasant effect on Billy, who began to enjoy his body for
the first time.

He showered after his exercises and trimmed his toenails. He shaved and sprayed
deodorant under his anns, while a zoo guide on a raised platfonn outside explained what



Billy was doing-and why. The guide was lecturing telepathically, simply standing there,
sending out thought waves to the crowd. On the platform with him was the little
keyboard instrument with which he would relay questions to Billy from the crowd.

Now the first question came-from the speaker on the television set: �Are you happy here?�

�About as happy as I was on Earth,� said Billy Pilgrim, which was true.

There were fives sexes on Tralfamadore, each of them performing a step necessary in
the creation of a new individual. They looked identical to Billy-because their sex
differences were all in the fourth dimension.

One of the biggest moral bombshells handed to Billy by the Tralfamadorians,
incidentally, had to do with sex on Earth. They said their flying-saucer crews had
identified no fewer than seven sexes on Earth, each essential to reproduction. Again:
Billy couldn't possibly imagine what five of those seven sexes had to do with the making
of a baby, since they were sexually active only in the fourth dimension.

The Tralfamadorians tried to give Billy clues that would help him imagine sex in the
invisible dimension. They told him that there could be no Earthling babies without male
homosexuals. There could be babies without female homosexuals. There couldn�t be
babies without women over sixty-five years old. There could be babies without men over
sixty-five. There couldn�t be babies without other babies who had lived an hour or less
after birth. And so on.

It was gibberish to Billy.

There was a lot that Billy said that was gibberish to the Tralfamadorians, too. They
couldn�t imagine what time looked like to him. Billy had given up on explaining that.

The guide outside had to explain as best he could.

The guide invited the crowd to imagine that they were looking across a desert at a
mountain range on a day that was twinkling bright and clear. They could look at a peak
or a bird or a cloud, at a stone right in front of them, or even down into a canyon behind
them. But among them was this poor Earthling, and his head was encased in a steel
sphere which he could never take off. There was only one eyehole through which he
could look, and welded to that eyehole were six feet of pipe.

This was only the beginning of Billy's miseries in the metaphor. He was also strapped
to a steel lattice which was bolted to a flatcar on rails, And there was no way he could
turn his head or touch the pipe. The far end of the pipe rested on a bi-pod which was also
bolted to the flatcar. All Billy could see was the dot at the end of the pipe. He didn�t
know he was on a flatcar, didn�t even know there was anything peculiar about his
situation.

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