Slaughterhouse Five


That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book.

Billy reeled away from his vision of Hell. He passed three Englishmen who were
watching the excrement festival from a distance. They were catatonic with disgust.

'Button your pants!' said one as Billy went by.

So Billy buttoned his pants. He came to the door of the little hospital by accident. He
went through the door, and found himself honeymooning again, going from the bathroom
back to bed with his bride on Cape Ann.

'I missed you' said Valencia.

'I missed you,' said Billy Pilgrim.

Billy and Valencia went to sleep nestled like spoons, and Billy traveled in time back to
the train ride he had taken in 194 4 from maneuvers in South Carolina to his father's
funeral in Ilium. He hadn�t seen Europe or combat yet. This was still in the days of steam

Billy had to change trains a lot. All the trains were slow. The coaches stu nk of coal
smoke and rationed tobacco and rationed booze and the farts of people eating wartime
food. The upholstery of the iron seats was bristly, and Billy couldn�t sleep much. He got
to sleep soundly when he was only three hours from Ilium, with his legs splayed toward
the entrance of the busy dining car.

The porter woke him up when the train reached Ilium. Billy staggered off with his
duffel bag, and then he stood on the station platform next to the porter, trying to wake up.

'Have a good nap, did you?' said the porter.

'Yes,' said Billy.

'Man,' said the porter, 'you sure had a hard-on.�

At three in the morning on Bill's morphine night in prison, a new patient was carried
into the hospital by two lusty Englishmen. He was tiny. He was Paul Lazzaro, the polka-
dotted car thief from Cicero, Illinois. He had been caught stealing cigarettes from under
the pillow of an Englishman. The Englishman, half asleep, had broken Lazzaro's right
ann and knocked him unconscious.

The Englishman who had done this was helping to carry Lazzaro in now. He had fiery
red hair and no eyebrows. He had been Cinderella's Blue Fairy Godmother in the play.
Now he supported his half of Lazzaro with one hand while he closed the door behind
himself with the other. 'Doesn't weigh as much as a chicken,� he said.

The Englishman with Lazzaro's feet was the colonel who had given Billy his knock-out

The Blue Fairy Godmother was embarrassed, and angry, too. 'If I�d known I was
fighting a chicken,� he said, 'I wouldn�t have fought so hard.'


The Blue Fairy Godmother spoke frankly about how disgusting all the Americans
were. �Weak, smelly, self-pitying-a pack of sniveling, dirty, thieving bastards,' he said.
�They�re worse than the bleeding Russians.�

�Do seem a scruffy lot,' the colonel agreed.

A German major came in now. He considered the Englishmen as close friends. He
visited them nearly every day, played games with them, lectured to them on German
history, played their piano, gave them lessons in conversational Gennan. He told them
often that, if it weren't for their civilized company, he would go mad. His English was

He was apologetic about the Englishmen's having to put up with the American enlisted
men. He promised them that they would not be inconvenienced for more than a day or
two, that the Americans would soon be shipped to Dresden as contract labor. He had a
monograph with him, published by the German Association of Prison Officials. It was a
report on the behavior in Germany of American enlisted men as prisoners of war. It was
written by a former American who had risen high in the German Ministry of Propaganda.
His name was Howard W. Campbell, Jr. He would later hang himself while awaiting trial
as a war criminal.

So it goes.

While the British colonel set Lazzaro's broken arm and mixed plaster for the cast, the
German major translated out loud passages from Howard W. Campbell, Jr.'s monograph.
Campbell had been a fairly well- kn own playwright at one time. His opening line was this

America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor
Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard,

�It ain't no disgrace to be poor, but might as well be.' It is in fact a crime for an American
to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk
traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more
estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American
poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking
establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is vety likely to have a sign on its
wall asking this cruel question: 'If you're so smart, why ain't you rich? ' There will also
be an American flag no larger than a child's hand-glued to a lollipop stick and, flying
from the cash register.

The author of the monograph, a native of Schenectady, New York, was said by some to
have had the highest I.Q. of all the war criminals who were made to face a death by
hanging. So it goes.

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously
untrue, the monograph went on. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for
any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to
come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame
themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have
had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since,
say, Napoleonic times.

Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without
precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do
not love themselves. Once this is understood the disagreeable behavior of American
enlisted men in German prisons ceases to be a mystery.

Howard W. Cambell, Jr., now discussed the uniform of the American enlisted in the
Second World War: Every other army in history, prosperous or not, has attempted to
clothe even its lowliest soldiers so as to make them impressive to themselves and others
as stylish experts in drinking and copulation and looting and sudden death. The
American Army, however, sends its enlisted men out to fight and die in a modified
business suit quite evidently made for another man, a sterilized but unpressed gift from a
nose-holding charity which passes out clothing to drunks in the slums.

When a dashingly-clad officer addresses such a frumpishly dressed bum, he scolds
him, as an officer in an army must. But the officer's contempt is not, as in other armies,
avuncular theatricality. It is a genuine expression of hatred for the poor, who have no
one to blame for their misery but themselves.

A prison administrator dealing with captured American enlisted men for the first time
should be warned: Expect no brotherly love, even between brothers. There will be no
cohesion between the individuals. Each will be a sulky child who often wishes he were

Campbell told what the German experience with captured American enlisted men had
been. They were known everywhere to be the most self-pitying, least fraternal and dirtiest
of all prisoners of war, said Campbell. They were incapable of concerted action on their
own behalf. They despised any leader from among their own number, refused to follow
or even listen to him, on the grounds that he was no better than they were, that he should
stop putting on airs.

And so on. Billy Pilgrim went to sleep, woke up as a widower in his empty home in
Ilium. His daughter Barbara was reproaching him for writing ridiculous letters to the

'Did you hear what I said?� Barbara inquired. It was 1968 again.

'Of course.� He had been dozing.

�If you�re going to act like a child, maybe we'll just have to treat you like a child.�

'That isn�t what happens next,' said Billy.

'We�ll see what happens next.� Big Barbara now embraced herself. 'It's awfully cold in
here. Is the heat on?'

'The heat? �

'The furnace-the thing in the basement, the thing that makes hot air that comes out of
these registers. I don�t think it's working.�

'Maybe not.�

'Aren't you cold?'

�I hadn�t noticed.�

'Oh my God, you are a child. If we leave you alone here, you'll freeze to death, you'll
starve to death.� And so on. It was very exciting for her, taking his dignity away in the
name of love.

Barbara called the oil-burner man, and she made Billy go to bed, made him promise to
stay under the electric blanket until the heat came on. She set the control of the blanket at
the highest notch, which soon made Billy's bed hot enough to bake bread in.

When Barbara left, slamming the door behind her, Billy traveled in time to the zoo on
Tralfamadore again. A mate has just been brought to him from Earth. She was Montana
Wildhack, a motion picture star.

Montana was under heavy sedation. Tralfamadorians wearing gas masks brought her
in, put her on Billy's yellow lounge chair; withdrew through his airlock. The vast crowd
outside was delighted. All attendance records for the zoo were broken. Everybody on the
planet wanted to see the Earthlings mate.

Montana was naked, and so was Billy, of course. He had a tremendous wang,
incidentally. You never know who�ll get one.

Now she fluttered her eyelids. Her lashes were like buggy whips. 'Where am I?' she

'Everything is all right,' said Billy gently. 'Please don�t be afraid.

Montana had been unconscious during her trip from Earth. The Tralfamadorians
hadn�t talked to her, hadn't shown themselves to her. The last thing she remembered was
sunning herself by a swimming pool in Palm Springs, California. Montana was only
twenty years old. Around her neck was a silver chain with a heart-shaped locket hanging
from it� between her breasts.

Now she turned her head to see the myriads of Tralfamadorians outside the dome.

They were applauding her by opening and closing their little green hands quickly.

Montana screamed and screamed.

All the little green hands closed fight, because Montana's terror was so unpleasant to
see. The head zoo keeper ordered a crane operator, who was standing by, to drop a navy
blue canopy over the dome, thus simulating Earthling night inside. Real night came to the
zoo for only one Earthling hour out of every sixty-two.

Billy switched on a floor lamp. The light from the single source threw the baroque
detailing of Montana's body into sharp relief. Billy was reminded of fantastic architecture
in Dresden, before it was bombed.

In time, Montana came to love and trust Billy Pilgrim. He did not touch her until she
made it clear that she wanted him to. After she had been on Tralfamadore for what would
have been an Earthling week, she asked him shyly if he wouldn't sleep with her. Which
he did. It was heavenly.

And Billy traveled in time from that delightful bed to a bed in 1968. It was his bed in
Ilium, and the electric blanket was turned up high. He was drenched in sweat,
remembered groggily that his daughter had put him to bed, had told him to stay there
until the oil burner was repaired.

Somebody was knocking on his bedroom door.

'Yes?' said Billy.

'Oil-burner man.'


'It�s running good now. Heat's coming up.�


'Mouse ate through a wire from the thermostat'

'I'll be darned.�

Billy sniffed. His hot bed smelled like a mushroom cellar. He had had a wet dream
about Montana Wildhack.

On the morning after that wet dream, Billy decided to go back to work in his office in
the shopping plaza. Business was booming as usual.

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