'There's more to life than what you read in books.' said Weary. 'You'll find that out.'
Billy made no reply to this, either, there in the ditch, since he didn't want the
conversation to go on any longer than necessary. He was dimly tempted to say, though,
that he knew a thing or two about gore. Billy, after all, had contemplated torture and
hideous wounds at the beginning and the end of nearly every day of his childhood. Billy
had an extremely gruesome crucifix hanging on the wall of his little bedroom in Ilium. A
military surgeon would have admired the clinical fidelity of the artist's rendition of all
Christ's wounds-the spear wound, the thorn wounds, the holes that were made by the iron
spikes. Billy's Christ died horribly. He was pitiful.
So it goes.
Billy wasn't a Catholic, even though he grew up with a ghastly crucifix on the wall.
His father had no religion. His mother was a substitute organist for several churches
around town. She took Billy with her whenever she played, taught him to play a little,
too. She said she was going to join a church as soon as she decided which one was right.
She never did decide. She did develop a terrific hankering for a crucifix, though. And
she bought one from a Sante Fé gift shop during a trip the little family made out West
during the Great Depression. Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life
that made sense from things she found in gift shops.
And the crucifix went up on the wall of Billy Pilgrim.
The two scouts, loving the walnut stocks of their rifles in the ditch, whispered that it
was time to move out again. Ten minutes had gone by without anybody's coming to see if
they were hit or not, to finish them off. Whoever had shot was evidently far away and all
And the four crawled out of the ditch without drawing any more fire. They crawled
into a forest like the big, unlucky mammals they were. Then they stood up and began to
walk quickly. The forest was dark and cold. The pines were planted in ranks and files.
There was no undergrowth. Four inches of unmarked snow blanketed the ground. The
Americans had no choice but to leave trails in the show as unambiguous as diagrams in a
book on ballroom dancing--step, slide, rest-step, slide,-rest.
'Close it up and keep it closed!' Roland Weary warned Billy Pilgrim as they moved out.
Weary looked like Tweedledum or Tweedledee, all bundled up for battle. He was short
He had every piece of equipment he had ever been issued, every present he'd received
from home: helmet, helmet liner, wool cap, scarf, gloves, cotton undershirt, woolen
undershirt, wool shirt, sweater, blouse, jacket, overcoat, cotton underpants, woolen
underpants, woolen trousers, cotton socks, woolen socks, combat boots, gas mask,
canteen, mess kit, first-aid kit, trench knife, blanket, shelter-half, raincoat, bulletproof
Bible, a pamphlet entitled 'Know Your Enemy,' another pamphlet entitled 'Why We
Fight' and another pamphlet of German phrases rendered in English phonetics, which
would enable Weary to ask Germans questions such as 'Where is your headquarters?' and
'How many howitzers have you?' Or to tell them, 'Surrender. Your situation is hopeless,'
and so on.
Weary had a block of balsa wood which was supposed to be a foxhole pillow. He had a
prophylactic kit containing two tough condoms 'For the Prevention of Disease Only!' He
had a whistle he wasn't going to show anybody until he got promoted to corporal. He had
a dirty picture of a woman attempting sexual intercourse with a Shetland pony. He had
made Billy Pilgrim admire that picture several times.
The woman and the pony were posed before velvet draperies which were fringed with
deedlee-balls. They were flanked by Doric columns. In front of one column was a potted
palm. The Picture that Weary had was a print of the first dirty photograph in history. The
word photography was first used in 1839, and it was in that year, too, that Louis J. M.
Daguerre revealed to the French Academy that an image formed on a silvered metal plate
covered with a thin film of silver iodide could be developed in the presence of mercury
In 1841, only two years later, an assistant to Daguerre, André Le Fèvre, was arrested in
the Tuileries Gardens for attempting to sell a gentleman a picture of the woman and the
pony. That was where Weary bought his picture, too-in the Tuileries. Le Fèvre argued
that the picture was fine art, and that his intention was to make Greek mythology come
alive. He said that columns and the potted palm proved that.
When asked which myth he meant to represent, Le Fèvre, replied that there were
thousands of myths like that, with the woman a mortal and the pony a god.
He was sentenced to six months in prison. He died there of pneumonia. So it goes.
Billy and the Scouts were skinny people. Roland Weary had fat to burn. He was a
roaring furnace under all his layers of wool and straps and canvas. He had so much
energy that he bustled back and forth between Billy and the scouts, delivering dumb
messages which nobody had sent and which nobody was pleased to receive. He also
began to suspect, since he was so much busier than anybody else, that he was the leader.
He was so hot and bundled up, in fact, that he had no sense of danger. His vision of the
outside world was limited to what he could see through a narrow slit between the rim of
his helmet and his scarf from home, which concealed his baby face from the bridge of his
nose on down. He was so snug in there that he was able to pretend that he was safe at
home, having survived the war, and that he was telling his parents and his sister a true
war story-whereas the true war story was still going on.
Weary's version of the true war story went like this: There was a big German attack,
and Weary and his antitank buddies fought like hell until everybody was killed but
Weary. So it goes. And then Weary tied in with two scouts, and they became close
friends immediately, and they decided to fight them way back to their own lines. They
were going to travel fast. They were damned if they'd surrender. They shook hands all
around. They called themselves 'The Three Musketeers.'
But then this damn college kid, who was so weak he shouldn't even have been in the
army, asked if he could come along. He didn't even have a gun or a knife. He didn't even
have a helmet or a cap. He couldn't even walk right-kept bobbing up-and down, up-and-
down, driving everybody crazy, giving their position away. He was pitiful. The Three
Musketeers pushed and carried and dragged the college kid all the way back to their own
lines, Weary's story went. They saved his God-damned hide for him.
In real life, Weary was retracing his steps, trying to find out what had happened to
Billy. He had told the scouts to wait while he went back for the college bastard. He
passed under a low branch now. It hit the top of his helmet with a clonk. Weary didn't
hear it. Somewhere a big dog was barking. Weary didn't hear that, either. His war story
was at a very exciting point. An officer was congratulating the Three Musketeers, telling
them that he was going to put them in for Bronze Stars.
'Anything else I can do for you boys?' said the officer.
'Yes, sir,' said one of the scouts. 'We'd like to stick together for the rest of the war, sir.
Is there some way you can fix it so nobody will ever break up the Three Musketeers?'
Billy Pilgrim had stopped in the forest. He was leaning against a tree with his eyes
closed. His head was tilted back and his nostrils were flaring. He was like a poet in the
This was when Billy first came unstuck in time. His attention began to swing grandly
through the full arc of his life, passing into death, which was violet light. There wasn't
anybody else there, or any thing. There was just violet light and a hum.
And then Billy swung into life again, going backwards until he was in pre-birth, which
was red light and bubbling sounds. And then he swung into life again and stopped. He
was a little boy taking a shower with his hairy father at the Ilium Y.M.C.A. He smelled
chlorine from the swimming pool next door, heard the springboard boom.
Little Billy was terrified, because his father had said Billy was going to learn to swim
by the method of sink-or-swim. Ms father was going to throw Billy into the deep end, and
Billy was going to damn well swim.
It was like an execution. Billy was numb as his father carried him from the shower
room to the pool. His eyes were closed. When he opened his eyes, he was on the bottom
of the pool, and there was beautiful music everywhere. He lost consciousness, but the
music went on. He dimly sensed that somebody was rescuing him. Billy resented that.
From there he traveled in time to 1965. He was forty-one years old, and he was visiting
his decrepit mother at Pine Knoll, an old people's home he had put her in only a month
before. She had caught pneumonia, and wasn't expected to live. She did live, though, for
years after that.
Her voice was nearly gone, so, in order to hear her, Billy had to put his ear right next to
her papery lips. She evidently had something very important to say.
'How ...?' she began, and she stopped. She was too tired. She hoped that she wouldn’t
have to say the rest of the sentence, and that Billy would finish it for her
But Billy had no idea what was on her mind. 'How what, Mother?' he prompted.
She swallowed hard, shed some tears. Then she gathered energy from all over her
ruined body, even from her toes and fingertips. At last she bad accumulated enough to
whisper this complete sentence:
'How did I get so old? '
Billy's antique mother passed out, and Billy was led from the room by a pretty nurse.
The body of an old man covered by a sheet was wheeled by just as Billy entered the
corridor. The man had been a famous marathon runner in his day. So it goes. This was
before Billy had his head broken in an airplane crash, by the way-before he became so
vocal about flying saucers and traveling in time.
Billy sat down in a waiting room. He wasn't a widower yet. He sensed something hard
under the cushion of his overstuffed chair. He dug it out, discovered that it was a book,
The Execution of Private Slovik, by William Bradford Huie. It was a true account of the
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death before an American firing squad of private Eddie D. Slovik, 36896415, the only
American soldier to be shot for cowardice since the Civil War. So it goes.
Billy read the opinion of a staff judge advocate who reviewed Slovik's case, which
ended like this: He has directly challenged the authority of the government, and future
discipline depends upon a resolute reply to this challenge. If the death penalty is ever to
be imposed for desertion, it should be imposed in this case, not as a punitive measure nor
as retribution, but to maintain that discipline upon which alone an army can succeed
against the enemy. There was no recommendation for clemency in the case and none is
here recommended. So it goes.
Billy blinked in 1965, traveled in time to 1958. He was at a banquet in honour of a
Little League team of which his son Robert was a member. The coach, who had never
been married, was speaking. He was all choked up. 'Honest to God,' he was Saying, 'I'd
consider it an honor just to be water boy for these kids.'
Billy blinked in 1958, traveled in time to 1961. It was New Year's Eve, and Billy was
disgracefully drunk at a party where everybody was in optometry or married to an
Billy usually didn't drink much, because the war had ruined his stomach, but he
certainly had a snootful now, and he was being unfaithful to his wife Valencia for the
first and only time. He had somehow persuaded a woman to come into the laundry room
of the house, and then sit up on the gas dryer, which was running.
The woman was very drunk herself, and she helped Billy get her girdle off. 'What was
it you wanted to talk about?' she said.
'It's all night,' said Billy. He honestly thought it was all right. He couldn't remember the
name of the woman.
'How come they call you Billy instead of William?'
'Business reasons,' said Billy. That was true. His father-in-law, who owned the Ilium
School of Optometry, who had set Billy up in practice, was a genius in his field. He told
Billy to encourage people to call him Billy-because it would stick in their memories. It
would also make him seem slightly magical, since there weren't any other grown Billys
around. It also compelled people to think of him as a friend right away.
Somewhere in there was an awful scene, with people expressing disgust for Billy and
the woman, and Billy found himself out in his automobile, trying to find the steering
The main thing now was to find the steering wheel. At first, Billy windmilled his arms,
hoping to find it by luck. When that didn't work, he became methodical, working in such
a way that the wheel could not possibly escape him. He placed himself hard against the
left-hand door, searched every square inch of the area before him. When he failed to find
the wheel, he moved over six inches, and searched again. Amazingly, he was eventually
hard against the right-hand door, without having found the wheel. He concluded that
somebody had stolen it. This angered him as he passed out.
He was in the back seat of his car, which was why he couldn't find the steering wheel.
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Now somebody was shaking Billy awake. Billy stiff felt drunk, was still angered by the
stolen steering wheel. He was back in the Second World War again, behind the German
lines. The person who was shaking him was Roland Weary. Weary had gathered the front
of Billy's field jacket into his hands. He banged Billy against a tree, then puffed him
away from it, flung him in the direction he was supposed to take under his own power.
Billy stopped, shook his head. 'You go on,' he said.
'You guys go on without me. I'm all right.'
'Jesus-I'd hate to see somebody sick,' said Weary, through five layers of humid scarf
from home. Lilly had never seen Weary's face. He had tried to imagine it one time, had
imagined a toad in a fishbowl.
Weary kicked and shoved Billy for a quarter of a mile. The scouts were waiting
between the banks of a frozen creek. They had heard the dog. They had heard men calling
back and forth, too-calling like hunters who had a pretty good idea of where their quarry
The banks of the creek were high enough to allow the scouts, to stand without being
seen. Billy staggered down the bank ridiculously. After him came Weary, clanking and
clinking and tinkling and hot.
'Here he is, boys,' said Weary. 'He don't want to live, but he's gonna live anyway.
When he gets out of this, by God, he's gonna owe his life to the Three Musketeers. '
Billy Pilgrim, there in the creekbed, thought he, Billy Pilgrim, was turning to steam
painlessly. If everybody would leave him alone for just a little while, he thought, he
wouldn't cause anybody any more trouble. He would turn to steam and float up among
Somewhere the big dog barked again. With the help of fear and echoes and winter
silences, that dog had a voice like a big bronze gong.
Roland Weary, eighteen years old, insinuated himself between the scouts, draped a
heavy arm around the shoulder of each. 'So what do the Three Musketeers do now?' he
Billy Pilgrim was having a delightful hallucination. He was wearing dry, warm, white
sweatsocks, and he was skating on a ballroom floor. Thousands cheered. This wasn't
time-travel. It had never happened, never would happen. It was the craziness of a dying
young man with his shoes full of snow.
One scout hung his head, let spit fall from his lips. The other did the same. They
studied the infinitesimal effects of spit on snow and history. They were small, graceful
people. They had been behind German lines before many times--living like woods
creatures, living from moment to moment in useful terror, thinking brainlessly with their
Now they twisted out from under Weary's loving arms. They told Weary that he and
Billy had better find somebody to surrender to. The Scouts weren't going to wait for them
And they ditched Weary and Billy in the creekbed.
Billy Pilgrim went on skating, doing tricks in sweat-socks, tricks that most people
would consider impossible-making turns, stopping on a dime and so on. The cheering
went on, but its tone was altered as the hallucination gave way to time-travel.
Billy stopped skating, found himself at a lectern in a Chinese restaurant in Ilium, New
York, on an early afternoon in the autumn of 1957. He was receiving a standing ovation
from the Lions Club. He had just been elected President, and it was necessary that he
speak. He was scared stiff, thought a ghastly mistake had been made. All those
prosperous, solid men out there would discover now that they had elected a ludicrous
waif. They would hear his reedy voice, the one he'd had in the war. He swallowed, knew
that all he -had for a voice box was a little whistle cut from a willow switch. Worse-he
had nothing to say. The crowd quieted down. Everybody was pink and beaming.
Billy opened his mouth, and out came a deep, resonant tone. His voice was a gorgeous
instrument. It told jokes which brought down the house. It grew serious, told jokes again,
and ended on a note of humility. The explanation of the miracle was this: Billy had taken
a course in public speaking.
And then he was back in the bed of the frozen creek again. Roland Weary was about to
beat the living shit out of him.
Weary was filled with a tragic wrath. He had been ditched again. He stuffed his pistol
into its holster. He slipped his knife into its scabbard. Its triangular blade and blood
gutters on all three faces. And then he shook Billy hard, rattled his skeleton, slammed
him against a bank.
Weary barked and whimpered through his layers of scarf from home. He spoke
unintelligibly of the sacrifices he had made on Billy's behalf. He dilated upon the piety
and heroism of 'The Three Musketeers,' portrayed, in the most glowing and impassioned
hues, their virtue and magnanimity, the imperishable honor they acquired for themselves,
and the great services they rendered to Christianity,
It was entirely Billy's fault that this fighting organization no longer existed, Weary felt,
and Billy was going to pay. Weary socked Billy a good one on the side of the jaw,
knocked Billy away from the bank and onto the snow-covered ice of the creek. Billy was
down on all fours on the ice, and Weary kicked him in the ribs, rolled him over on his
side. Billy tried to form himself into a ball.
'You shouldn't even be in the Army,' said Weary.
Billy was involuntarily making convulsive sounds that were a lot like laughter. 'You
think it's funny, huh?' Weary inquired. He walked around to Billy's back. Billy's jacket
and shirt and undershirt had been hauled up around his shoulders by the violence, so his
back was naked. There, inches from the tips of Weary's combat boots, were the pitiful
buttons of Billy's spine.
Weary drew back his right boot, aimed a kick at the spine, at the tube which had so
many of Billy's important wires in it. Weary was going to break that tube.
But then Weary saw that he had an audience. Five German soldiers and a police dog on
a leash were looking down into the bed of the creek. The soldiers' blue eyes were filled
with bleary civilian curiosity as to why one American would try to murder another one so
far from home, and why the victim should laugh.
The Germans and the dog were engaged in a military operation which had an amusingly
self-explanatory name, a human enterprise which is seldom described in detail, whose
name alone, when reported as news or history, gives many war enthusiasts a sort of post-
coital satisfaction. It is, in the imagination of combat's fans, the divinely listless loveplay
that follows the orgasm of victory. It is called 'mopping up.'
The dog, who had sounded so ferocious in the winter distances, was a female German
shepherd. She was shivering. Her tail was between her legs. She had been borrowed that
morning from a farmer. She had never been to war before. She had no idea what game
was being played. Her mine was Princess.
Two of the Germans were boys in their early teens. Two were ramshackle old men--
droolers as toothless as carp. They were irregulars, armed and clothed fragmentarily with
junk taken from real soldiers who were newly dead. So it goes. They were farmers from
just across the German border, not far away.
Their commanander was a middle-aged corporal-red-eyed, scrawny, tough as dried
beef, sick of war. He had been wounded four times-and patched up, and sent back to war.
He was a very good soldier-about to quit, about to find somebody to surrender to. His
bandy legs were thrust into golden cavalry boots which he had taken from a dead
Hungarian colonel on the Russian front. So it goes.
Those boots were almost all he owned in this world. They were his home. An
anecdote: One time a recruit was watching him bone and wax those golden boots, and he
held one up to the recruit and said, 'If you look in there deeply enough, you'll see Adam
Billy Pilgrim had not heard this anecdote. But, lying on the black ice there, Billy stared
into the patina of the corporal's boots, saw Adam and Eve in the golden depths. They
were naked. They were so innocent, so vulnerable, so eager to behave decently. Billy
Pilgrim loved them.
Next to the golden boots were a pair of feet which were swaddled in rags. They were
crisscrossed by canvas straps, were shod with hinged wooden clogs. Billy looked up at
the face that went with the clogs. It was the face of a blond angel of fifteen-year-old boy.
The boy was as beautiful as Eve.
Billy was helped to his feet by the lovely boy, by the heavenly androgyne. And the
others came forward to dust the snow off Billy., and then they searched him for weapons.
He didn't have any. The most dangerous thing they found on his person was a two-inch
Three inoffensive bangs came from far away. They came from German rifles. The two
scouts who had ditched Billy and Weary had just been shot. They had been lying in
ambush for Germans. They had been discovered and shot from behind. Now they were
dying in the snow, feeling nothing, turning the snow to the color of raspberry sherbet. So
it goes. So Roland Weary was the last of the Three Musketeers.
And Weary, bug-eyed with terror, was being disarmed. The corporal gave Weary's
pistol to the pretty boy. He marveled at Weary's cruel trench knife, said in German that
Weary would no doubt like to use the knife on him, to tear his face off with the spiked
knuckles, to stick the blade into his belly or throat. He spoke no English, and Billy and
Weary understood no German.
"Nice playthings you have", the corporal told Weary, and he handed the knife to an old
man. "Isn't that a pretty thing? Hmmm?"
He tore open Weary's overcoat and blouse. Brass buttons flew like popcorn. The
corporal reached into Weary's gaping bosom as though he meant to tear out his pounding
heart, but he brought out Weary's bulletproof Bible instead.
A bullet-proof Bible is a Bible small enough to be slipped into a soldier's breast
pocket, over his heart. It is sheathed in steel.
The corporal found the dirty picture of the woman and the pony in Weary's hip pocket.
"What a lucky pony, eh?" he said. "Hmmmm? Hmmmm? Don't you wish you were that
pony?" He handed the picture to the other old man. "Spoils of war! It's all yours, you
Then he made Weary sit down in the snow and take off his combat boots, which he
gave to the beautiful boy. He gave Weary, the boy's clogs. So Weary and Billy were both
without decent military footwear now' and they had to walk for miles and miles, with
Weary's clogs clacking, with Billy bobbing up-and-down, up-and-down, crashing into
Weary from time to time.
"Excuse me," Billy would say, or "I beg your pardon."
They were brought at last to a stone cottage at a fork in the road. It was a collecting
point for prisoners of war. Billy and Weary were taken inside, where it was warm and
smoky. There was a fire sizzling and popping in the fireplace. The fuel was furniture.
There were about twenty other Americans in there, sitting on the floor with their backs to
the wall, staring into the flames-thinking whatever there was to think, which was zero.
Nobody talked. Nobody had any good war stories to tell.
Billy and Weary found places for themselves, and Billy went to sleep with his head on
the shoulder of an unprotesting captain. The captain was a chaplain. He was a rabbi. He
had been shot through the hand.
Billy traveled in time, opened his eyes, found himself staring into the glass eyes of a
jade green mechanical owl. The owl was hanging upside down from a rod of stainless
steel. The owl was Billy's optometer in his office in Ilium. An optometer is an instrument
for measuring refractive errors in eyes-in order that corrective lenses may be prescribed.
Billy had fallen asleep while examining a female patient who was m a chair on the
other side of the owl. He had fallen asleep at work before. It had been funny at first. Now
Billy was starting to get worried about it, about his mind in general. He tried to remember
how old he was, couldn't. He tried to remember what year it was. He couldn't remember
'Doctor,' said the patient tentatively.
'Hm?' he said.
'You're so quiet.'
'You were talking away there-and then you got so quiet'
'You see something terrible?' 'Terrible?'
'Some disease in my eyes?'
'No, no,' said Billy, wanting to doze again. 'Your eyes are fine. You just need glasses
for reading.' He told her to go across the corridor-to see the wide selection of frames
When she was gone, Billy opened the drapes and was no wiser as to what was outside.
The view was still blocked by a venetian blind., which he hoisted clatteringly. Bright
sunlight came crashing in. There were thousands of parked automobiles out there,
twinkling on a vast lake of blacktop. Billy's office was part of a suburban shopping
Right outside the window was Billy's own Cadillac El Dorado Coupe de Ville. He read
the stickers on the bumper. 'Visit Ausable Chasm,' said one. 'Support Your Police
Department,' said another. There was a third. 'Impeach Earl Warren' it said. The stickers
about the police and Earl Warren were gifts from Billy's father-in-law, a member of the
John Birch Society. The date on the license plate was 1967, which would make Billy
Pilgrim forty-four years old. He asked himself this: 'Where have all the years gone?'
Billy turned his attention to his desk. There was an open copy of The Review of
Optometry there. It was opened to an editorial, which Billy now read, his lips moving
What happens in 1968 will rule the fare of European optometrists for at least 50
years! Billy read. With this warning, Jean Thiriart, Secretary of the National Union of
Belgium Opticians, is pressing for formation of a 'European Optometry Society.' The
alternatives, he says, will be the obtaining of Professional status, or, by 1971, reduction
to the role of spectacle-sellers.
Billy Pilgrim tried hard to care.
A siren went off, scared the hell out of him. He was expecting the Third World War at
any time. The siren was simply announcing high noon. It was housed in a cupola atop a
firehouse across the street from Billy's office.
Billy closed his eyes. When he opened them, he was back in the Second World War
again. His head was on the wounded rabbi's shoulder. A German was kicking his feet,
telling him to wake up, that it was time to move on.
The Americans, with Billy among them, formed a fools' parade on the road outside.
There was a photographer present, a German war correspondent with a Leica. He took
pictures of Billy's and Roland Weary's feet. The picture was widely published two days
later as heartening evidence of how miserably equipped the American Army often was,
despite its reputation for being rich.
The photographer wanted something more lively, though, a picture of an actual
capture. So the guards staged one for him. They threw Billy into shrubbery. When Billy
came out of the shrubbery, his face wreathed in goofy good will, they menaced him with
their machine pistols, as though they were capturing him then.
Billy's smile as he came out of the shrubbery was at least as peculiar as Mona Lisa's,
for he was simultaneously on foot in Germany in 1944 and riding his Cadillac in 1967.
Germany dropped away, and 1967 became bright and clear, free of interference from any
other time. Billy was on his way to a Lions Club luncheon meeting. It was a hot August,
but Billy's car was air-conditioned. He was stopped by a signal in the middle of Ilium's
black ghetto. The people who lived here hated it so much that they had burned down a lot
of it a month before. It was all they had, and they'd wrecked it. The neighborhood
reminded Billy of some of the towns he had seen in the war. The curbs and sidewalks
were crushed in many places, showing where the National Guard tanks and half-tracks
'Blood brother,' said a message written in pink paint on the side of a shattered grocery
There was a tap on Billy's car window. A black man was out there. He wanted to talk
about something. The light had changed. Billy did the simplest thing. He drove on.
Billy drove through a scene of even greater desolation. It looked like Dresden after it
was fire-bombed-like the surface of the moon. The house where Billy had grown up used
to be somewhere in what was so empty now. This was urban renewal. A new Ilium
Government Center and a Pavilion of the Arts and a Peace Lagoon and high-rise
apartment buildings were going up here soon.
That was all right with Billy Pilgrim.
The speaker at the Lions Club meeting was a major in the Marines. He said that
Americans had no choice but to keep fighting in Vietnam until they achieved victory or
until the Communists realized that they could not force their way of life on weak
countries. The major had been there on two separate tours of duty. He told of many
terrible and many wonderful things he had seen. He was in favor of increased bombings,
of bombing North Vietnam back into the Stone Age, if it refused to see reason.
Billy was not moved to protest the bombing of North Vietnam, did not shudder about
the hideous things he himself had seen bombing do. He was simply having lunch with
the Lions Club, of which he was past president now.
Billy had a framed prayer on his office wall which expressed his method for keeping
going, even though he was unenthusiastic about living. A lot of patients who saw the
prayer on Billy's wall told him that it helped them to keep going, too. It went like this
GOD GRANT ME
THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT
THE THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE
TO CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN,
AND WISDOM ALWAYS
TO TELL THE
Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past, the present and the
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