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 alone.
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 old. 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 snow as unambiguous as diagrams in a book on ballroom dancing--step, slide, rest--step, slide, rest.
Not a whole lot going on in that little section from Slaughterhouse. Billy Pilgrim and his companions have been hiding in a ditch, waiting for more sniper fire. None has come. So they continue on their way, only this time they aren't following a road. They slog through winter woods, leaving behind tracks that anybody could follow, friend or foe. The pines are their only protection.
Being from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I can easily imagine the scene. The thick cover of snow, untouched by anything human. And the pines, methodically planted, like a Christmas tree farm. Rows and rows of them, dusted white, too. Fresh snow can make even piles of garbage look beautiful.
I must be honest tonight: I'm not feeling inspired in any way. Therefore, this post will not be filled with great insight into the human condition. There will be no wisdom about art or poetry or writing. Some days--like today--it's just a matter of stringing together a few words, leaving a trail in the snow, so to speak. Something to say that I'm still alive, here on this first day of February in the year 2017.
That's what Billy and his companions are doing. Big, unlucky mammals, as Vonnegut writes. We're all mastadons, lumbering through the pines. Maybe some other unlucky mammal will follow in my footsteps, read these few words that I'm sending out into the great void of the Internet.
Maybe this blog post will be an artifact. A skeleton on display in some Museum on Unnatural History.
Tonight, Saint Marty is grateful for the sandwich he ate for lunch. Chicken on homemade wheat bread. The bread was sweet and brown.