And Billy let himself down oh so gradually now, hanging onto the diagonal cross-brace in the corner in order to make himself seem nearly weightless to those he was joining on the floor. He knew it was important that he make himself nearly ghostlike when lying down. He had forgotten why, but a reminder soon came.
"Pilgrim--" said a person he was about to nestle with, "is that you?"
Billy didn't say anything, but nestled very politely, closed his eyes.
"God damn it," said the person. "That is you, isn't it?" He sat up and explored Billy rudely with his hands. "It's you all right. Get the hell out of here."
Now Billy sat up, too--wretched, close to tears.
"Get out of here! I want to sleep!"
"Shut up," said somebody else.
"I'll shut up when Pilgrim gets away from here."
So Billy stood up again, clung to the cross-brace. "Where can I sleep?" he asked quietly.
"Not with me."
"Not with me, you son of a bitch," said somebody else. "You yell. You kick."
"You're God damn right you do. And whimper."
"Keep the hell away from here, Pilgrim."
And now there was an acrimonious madrigal, with parts sung in all quarters of the car. Nearly everybody, seemingly, had an atrocity story of something Billy Pilgrim had done to him in his sleep. Everybody told Billy Pilgrim to keep the hell away.
I am about as tired as Billy Pilgrim right now. My eyes are heavy, and I had way too many beers after my poetry reading this evening. I'm not sure if I kick or whimper in my sleep. My wife has never booted me out of bed for being excessively active while slumbering.
The poetry reading at the Carnegie Library in Ishpeming went really well tonight. There were about 15 or 20 people in attendance. Not bad for a dreary, cold night. I was expecting exactly five people--the librarian, my wife, my two musician friends, and myself. Fifteen people in an audience is like selling out a stadium for a poetry reading.
The only part that I'm regretting is that I have to get up and go to work tomorrow morning. I would love to sleep in, get up whenever, have breakfast, and stay in my pajamas until the afternoon. That's not going to happen, but it's a pretty nice fantasy.
Saint Marty is thankful tonight for friends and poetry and beer.