His assistants were keeping up with
it nicely. They were startled to see him. They had been told by his daughter that he might
never practice again.
But Billy went into his examining room briskly, asked that the first patient be sent in.
So they sent him one-a twelve-year old boy who was accompanied by his-widowed
mother. They were strangers, new in town. Billy asked them a little about themselves,
learned that the boy's father had been killed in Vietnam-in the famous five-day battle for
Hill 875 near Dakto. So it goes.
While he examined the boy's eyes, Billy told him matter-of-factly about his adventures
on Tralfamadore, assured the fatherless boy that his father was very much alive still in
moments the boy would see again and again.
'Isn't that comforting?' Billy asked.
And somewhere in there, the boy's mother went out and told the receptionist that Billy
was evidently going crazy. Billy was taken home. His daughter asked him again, 'Father,
Father, Father-what are we going to do with you?'
Billy Pilgrim says he went to Dresden Gennany, on the day after his morphine night in
the British compound in the center of the extermination camp for Russian prisoners of
war. Billy woke up at dawn on that day in January. There were no windows in the little
hospital, and the ghostly candles had gone out. So the only light came from pin-prick
holes in the walls, and from a sketchy rectangle that outlined the imperfectly fitted door.
Little Paul Lazzaro, with a broken ann, snored on one bed. Edgar Derby, the high school
teacher who would eventually he shot, snored on another.
Billy sat up in bed. He had no idea what year it was or what planet he was on.
Whatever the planet's name was, it was cold. But it wasn�t the cold that had awakened
Billy. It was animal magnetism which was making him shiver and itch. It gave him
profound aches in his musculature, as though he had been exercising hard.
The animal magnetism was coming from behind him. If Billy had had to guess as to
the source, he would have said that there was a vampire bat hanging upside down on the
wall behind him.
Billy moved down toward the foot of his cot before turning to look at whatever it was.
He didn�t want the animal to drop into his face and maybe claw his eyes out or bite off his
big nose. Then he turned. The source of the magnetism really did resemble a bat. It was
Billy's impresario's coat with the fur collar. It was hanging from a nail.
Billy now backed toward it again, looking at it over his shoulder, feeling the
magnetism increase. Then he faced it, kneeling on his cot, dared to touch it here and
there. He was seeking the exact source of the radiations.
He found two small sources, two lumps an inch apart and hidden in the lining. One was
shaped like a pea. The other was shaped like a tiny horseshoe. Billy received a message
carried by the radiations. He was told not to find out what the lumps were. He was
advised to be content with knowing that they could work miracles for him, provided he
did not insist on learning their nature. That was all right with Billy Pilgrim. He was
grateful. He was glad.
Billy dozed, awakened in the prison hospital again. The sun was high. Outside were
Golgotha sounds of strong men digging holes for upright timbers in hard, hard ground.
Englishmen were building themselves a new latrine. They had abandoned their old latrine
to the Americans and their theater, the place where the feast had been held, too.
Six Englishmen staggered through a hospital with a pool table on which several
mattresses were piled. They were transferring it to living quarters attached to the hospital.
They were followed by an Englishman dragging his mattress and carrying a dartboard.
The man with the dartboard was the Blue Fairy Godmother who had injured little Paul
Lazzaro. He stopped by Lazzaro's bed, asked Lazzaro how he was.
Lazzaro told him he was going to have him killed after the war.
'You made a big mistake,' said Lazzaro. 'Anybody touches me, he better kill me, or I'm
gonna have him killed.�
The Blue Fairy Godmother knew something about killing. He gave Lazzaro a careful
smile. 'There is still time for me to kill vow,� he said, 'if you really persuade me that it's the
sensible thing to do.'
'Why don�t you go fuck yourself?'
'Don�t think I haven�t tried,' the Blue Fairy Godmother answered.
The Blue Fairy Godmother left, amused and patronizing. When he was gone, Lazzaro
promised Billy and poor old Edgar Derby that he was going to have revenge, and that
revenge was sweet.
'It's the sweetest thing there is,' said Lazzaro. 'People fuck with me,' he said, 'and Jesus
Christ are they ever fucking sorry. I laugh like hell. I don't care if it's a guy or a dame. If
the President of the United States fucked around with me. I'd fix him good. You should
have seen what I did to a dog one time.'
'A dog?' said Billy.
'Son of a bitch bit me. So I got me some steak, and I got me the spring out of a clock. I
cut that spring up in little pieces. I put points on the ends of the pieces. They were sharp
as razor blades. I stuck 'em into the steak-way inside. And I went past where they had the
dog tied up. He wanted to bite me again. I said to him, "Come on, doggie-let's be friends.
Let's not be enemies any more. I'm not mad." He believed me.�
'I threw him the steak. He swallowed it down in one big gulp. I waited around for ten
minutes.' Now Lazzaro's eyes twinkled. 'Blood started coming out of his mouth. He
started crying, and he rolled on the ground, as though the knives were on the outside of
him instead of on the inside of him. Then he tried to bite out his own insides. I laughed,
and I said to him, "You got the right idea now. Tear your own guts out, boy. That's me in
there with all those knives."� So it goes.
'Anybody ever asks you what the sweetest thing in life is-' said Lazzaro, 'it's revenge.'
When Dresden was destroyed later on, incidentally, Lazzaro did not exult. He didn�t
have anything against the Germans, he said. Also, he said he liked to take his enemies
one at a time. He was proud of never having hurt an innocent bystander. 'Nobody ever
got it from Lazzaro,' he said, 'who didn�t have it coming.'
Poor old Edgar Derby, the high school teacher, got into the conversation now. He
asked Lazzaro if he planned to feed the Blue Fairy Godmother clock springs and steak.
'Shit,' said Lazzaro.
'He's a pretty big man,� said Derby, who, of course, was a pretty big man himself.
'Size don't mean a thing.�
'You're going to shoot him?'
'I'm gonna have him shot,' said Lazzaro. 'He�ll get home after the war. He�ll be a big
hero. The dames'll be climbing all over him. He�ll settle down. A couple of years'll go by.
And then one day there�ll be a knock on his door. He�ll answer the door, and there�ll be a
stranger out there. The stranger�ll ask him if he's so-and-so. When he says he is, the
stranger�ll say, "Paul Lazzaro sent me." And he�ll pull out a gun and shoot his pecker off.
The stranger�ll let him think a couple of seconds about who Paul Lazzaro is and what
life's gonna be like without a pecker. Then he�ll shoot him once in the guts and walk
away.' So it goes.
Lazzaro said that he could have anybody in the world killed for a thousand dollars plus
traveling expenses. He had a list in his head, he said.
Derby asked him who all was on the list, and Lazzaro said, 'Just make fucking sure you
don�t get on it. Just don't cross me, that's all.� There was a silence, and then he added,
'And don't cross my friends.�
'You have friends?' Derby wanted to know.
'In the war?' said Lazzaro. 'Yeah-I had a friend in the war. He's dead.� So it goes.
'That's too bad.�
Lazzaro's eyes were twinkling again. 'Yeah. He was my buddy on the boxcar. His
name was Roland Weary. He died in my arms.' Now he pointed to Billy with his one
mobile hand. 'He died on account of this silly cocksucker here. So I promised him
I'd have this silly cocksucker shot after the war.�
Lazzaro erased with his hand anything Billy Pilgrim might be about to say. 'Just forget
about it, kid,� he said. 'Enjoy life while you can. Nothing's gonna happen for maybe five,
ten, fifteen, twenty years. But lemine give you a piece of advice: Whenever the doorbell
rings, have somebody else answer the door.�
Billy Pilgrim says now that this really is the way he is going to die, too. As a time-
traveler, he has seen his own death many times, has described it to a tape recorder. The
tape is locked up with his will and some other valuables in his safe-deposit box at the
Ilium Merchants National Bank and Trust, he says.
I, Billy Pilgrim, the tape begins, will die, have died and always will die on February
At the time of his death, he says, he is in Chicago to address a large crowd on the
subject of flying saucers and the true nature of time. His home is still in Ilium. He has had
to cross three international boundaries in order to reach Chicago. The United States of
America has been Balkanized, has been divided into twenty petty nations so that it will
never again be a threat to world peace. Chicago has been hydrogen-bombed by Angry
Chinamen. So it goes. It is all brand new.
Billy is speaking before a capacity audience in a baseball park, which is covered by a
geodesic dome. The flag of the country is behind him. It is a Hereford Bull on a field of
green. Billy predicts his own death within an hour. He laughed about it, invites the crowd
to laugh with him. 'It is high time I was dead..� he says. 'Many years ago.� he said, 'a
certain man promised to have me killed. He is an old man now, living not far from here.
He has read all the publicity associated with my appearance in your fair city. He is
insane. Tonight he will keep his promise.�
There are protests from the crowd.
Billy Pilgrim rebukes them. 'If you protest, if you think that death is a terrible thing,
then you have not understood a word I�ve said.' Now he closes his speech as he closes
every speech with these words: 'Farewell, hello, farewell, hello.�
There are police around him as he leaves the stage. They are there to protect him from
the crush of popularity. No threats on his life have been made since 1945. The police
offer to stay with him. They are floridly willing to stand in a circle around him all night,
with their zap guns drawn.
'No, no,' says Billy serenely. 'It is time for you to go home to your wives and children,
and it is time for me to be dead for a little while-and then live again.� At that moment,
Billy's high forehead is in the cross hairs of a high-powered laser gun. It is aimed at him
from the darkened press box. In the next moment, Billy Pilgrim is dead. So it goes.
So Billy experiences death for a while. It is simply violet light and a hum. There isn�t
anybody else there. Not even Billy Pilgrim is there.
Then he swings back into life again, all the way back to an hour after his life was
threatened by Lazzaro-in 1945. He has been told to get out of his hospital bed and dress,
that he is well. He and Lazzaro and poor old Edgar Derby are to join their fellows in the
theater. There they will choose a leader for themselves by secret ballot in a free election.
Billy and Lazzaro and poor old Edgar Derby crossed the prison yard to the theater
now. Billy was carrying his little coat as though it were a lady's muff. It was wrapped
around and round his hands. He was the central clown in an unconscious travesty of that
famous oil painting, 'The Spirit of 76.�
Edgar Derby was writing letters home in his head, telling his Wife that he was alive
and well, that she shouldn�t worry, that the war was.
Back to Slaughterhouse Five book
Terms of Services
- Deborah Smith
- T. R. A. Lynch, Sr
- Steven Sills
- Clare Nonhebel
- J Rocci
- MontUHURU Mimia
- Miriam Mhlanga
- Flora Annie Webster Steel
- Mobashar Qureshi
- Megan Abbott
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- Charles Major
- Paulo Coelho
- Salman Rushdie
- Michael Brent Jones
Terms of Services