The Germans sorted out the prisoners according to rank. They put sergeants with sergeants, majors with majors, and so on. A squad of full colonels was halted near Billy. One of them had double pneumonia. He had a high fever and vertigo. As the railroad yard dipped and swooped around the colonel, he tried to hold himself steady by staring into Billy's eyes.
The colonel coughed and coughed, and then he said to Billy, "You one of my boys?" This was a man who had lost an entire regiment, about forty-five hundred men--a lot of them children, actually. Billy didn't reply. The question made no sense.
"What was your outfit?" said the colonel. He coughed and coughed. Every time he inhaled his lungs rattled like greasy paper bags.
Billy couldn't remember the outfit he was from.
"You from the Four-fifty-first?"
"Four-fifty-first what?" said Billy.
There was a silence. "Infantry regiment," said the colonel at last.
"Oh," said Billy Pilgrim.
Billy really is a stranger in a strange land. He was never prepared to be in combat, and he certainly isn't prepared to be a prisoner of war. He was an aide to a chaplain. I don't think he ever expected to see a German soldier, let alone be captured by some. Billy literally doesn't know how to respond to the colonel's questions.
I have been feeling a little stranger-in-a-strange-land myself today. Woke up feeling incredibly sad for some reason. That mood followed me for most of the morning. I simply couldn't shake it. I went to bed last night worrying about bills. Woke up with the same worries. Walked around for about six hours, wondering where my life had gone wrong. Can't pay bills. Can't afford vacations. Didn't even have enough money to buy something caffeinated to drag me out of the doldrums this a.m.
It is now about five o'clock in the afternoon, and my mood has shifted somewhat. I have a class to teach in about an hour, but most of it will be spent watching and discussing Michael Moore's documentary Sicko. An easy night. Perhaps that is what has buoyed my spirits. Plus I really like these students a lot. They make teaching writing for three hours on a Monday night almost fun.
So, I am not quite so melancholy now. Just had dinner. Delicious. Might have an Oatmeal Cream Pie for dessert. Delicious again. And then, Michael Moore railing against America's health care system. Great fun.
Saint Marty is thankful for the food he ate tonight. Amen.