"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 and thick.
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 "Why We Fight," and another pamphlet of German phrases rendered in English phonetics, which would enable Weary to ask German 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.
Roland Weary has a lot of cotton and wool. Underpants and trousers and gloves. Vonnegut writes that he's short and thick. I picture Randy from A Christmas Story, wrapped up in so many layers that he can't put his arms down. That's how I envision Roland, waddling through the woods, trying not to fall over and end up like an overturned turtle, appendages waving in the air.
It's cold in the Upper Peninsula today. Lots of wind. Needles of snow. Now that the sun is setting, it's going to be even worse. I'm going to wish I was Roland Weary, with cotton and woolen underwear, socks, trousers, sweater, jacket, and overcoat. My daughter came home from school, wearing a hoodie, and said, "It's really cold out there."
This is normal for January. When I go to bed at night, I crawl under three blankets and one quilt. We have flannel sheets and pillow cases, too. I usually wake up sweating like a Finn whipping himself with birch branches in a sauna. My pajamas are flannel, and I wear two pairs of socks every night.
That's winter where I live. Now, I don't have a dirty picture of a woman attempting sexual intercourse with a Shetland pony. I'll leave that to Roland. No, tonight I will be reading Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, sitting on my couch under a couple blankets.
Saint Marty is thankful this evening for hot chocolate with butterscotch schnapps.