Billy saw the war movies backwards then forwards--and then it was time to go out into his backyard to meet the flying saucer. Out he went, his blue and ivory feet crushing the wet salad of the lawn. He stopped, took a swig of the dead champagne. It was like 7-Up. He would not raise his eyes to the sky, though he knew there was a flying saucer from Tralfamadore up there. He would see it soon enough, inside and out, and he would see, too, where it came from soon enough--soon enough.
Overhead he heard the cry of what might have been a melodious owl, but it wasn't a melodious owl. It was a flying saucer from Tralfamadore, navigating in both space and time, therefore seeming to Billy Pilgrim to have come from nowhere all at once. Somewhere a big dog barked.
Billy is not surprised by the appearance of a flying saucer. He's expecting it. That's one of the benefits of being unstuck in time--no surprises. Death is just one more moment, a road stop instead of a dead end. Billy knows what happened yesterday, what's happening now, and what's going to happen tomorrow. In fact, for Billy, yesterday is tomorrow, and tomorrow was this afternoon.
I've never been a big fan of surprises. I like to know what I'm going to have for dinner when I wake up in the morning. Tomorrow, I will be having McDonald's for breakfast. Tomorrow night, I'm going to be at church for the Easter Vigil Mass. Three hours of incense and candles and bells. Like I said, no surprises for me, if I can avoid them.
Today is Good Friday. When I was at work this morning, I got a phone call from my wife. Our sewer was blocked. Surprise! Called the plumber. He came out, unblocked what was blocked. An hour of work. In plumber's time, that's $600. Not a great way to start out Easter weekend.
That's why I am so phobic about surprises. They are never pleasant and always expensive. I wouldn't mind being friends with some Tralfamadorians. Then the blocked sewer would have been a tiny blip of my life's radar, something already mapped out in longitude and latitude. Next stop, my first birthday.
However, I am not Billy Pilgrim. I am stuck in time.
Saint Marty is thankful tonight for a flushing toilet.