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 Parthenon.
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 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. His 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.
Billy is walking through a forest behind enemy lines when he first comes unstuck in time. I just spent a couple hours digging out from a snowstorm. By about the hour-and-a-half mark, I think I became unstuck in time. At the very least I was hallucinating.
I was suddenly back at the first apartment my wife and I shared after we got married. I had an empty ice cream gallon bucket, and I was scooping snow off my front porch, because I didn't have a shovel. And the snow just kept on coming.
I closed my eyes and opened them again. It was four o'clock in the morning, and I was pushing snow when the city plows blew by, burying my car once again. I stood there, swearing and shaking my head. And the snow just kept on coming.
I closed my eyes and opened them again. It was the night my daughter was born, and I was sweeping off my car. The snow slammed into my face. I was going home to check on our cocker spaniel. My wife was in labor, but my daughter was in no hurry to appear. And the snow just kept on coming.
I closed my eyes and opened them again. Christmas lights blinked up and down the block. The snowdrifts glowed green and red and blue. It was December 24. My sister was babysitting our newborn son. It was six years from the time she would get sick. Seven years from the time she would die. And the snow just kept on coming.
I closed my eyes and opened them again. It's the present. I can hear the plow guy outside my parents' house, pushing the snow into the field. It sounds like a roaring lion. And the snow just keeps on coming.
My life seems like a series of snowstorms, interrupted by short reprieves of spring, summer, and fall.
Saint Marty is thankful for snow shovels tonight.