The only light outside came from a single bulb which hung from a pole--high and far away. All was quiet outside, except for the guards, who cooed like doves. And the liquid began to flow. Gobs of it built up in the doorway, plopped to the ground.
Billy was the next-to-last human being to reach the door. The hobo was last. The hobo could not flow, could not plop. He wasn't liquid anymore. He was stone. So it goes.
It's not a very pleasant scene, the prisoners disgorged from the railroad car like a tide of sewage. Each passenger fecally plopping onto the ground, except for the hobo, who kept on saying throughout the journey, "This ain't so bad." The hobo doesn't make it, turns from liquid to stone. And Vonnegut repeats his death refrain: so it goes.
The casual acceptance of death in Slaughterhouse disconcerts me a little bit. Characters, like the hobo, that I have learned to like are simply dispatched with that three-word phrase. Of course, Vonnegut is reflecting the randomness of war and fatality. Most of the time, fairness and justice don't come into play when facing the Grim Reaper.
Just recently, an 11-year-old boy hanged himself in a town neighboring my own. His name was Tysen Benz, and he was the victim of a terrible social media hoax by a 13-year-old girl, who convinced Tysen that she had committed suicide. Tysen lingered in the hospital for several weeks before succumbing to his self-inflicted injuries.
Now, I am not going to talk about the dangers of social media. That point is obvious. I'm not going to talk about the sheer cruelty that brought about this young boy's death. Again, that's obvious. Tysen's death was, simply put, a monstrous tragedy.
There really is something wrong with the world when something like this happens. I can't be Kurt Vonnegut here. This does not warrant "so it goes." Tysen's death was not random or coincidental. On the contrary, his death was the result of a criminal cyber-prank. It could have been avoided, through kindness, compassion, and true friendship.
So, don't simply forget Tysen Benz. I have heard from family friends how funny, smart, and warm he was. Suicide leaves holes in your spirit that never really heal. I have been praying for Tysen and his family every night. I've also been praying for the 13-year-old girl and her family. Healing is a long way off, I'm sure. Anger is an easy emotion. Love and forgiveness, that takes a whole lot of work.
Tonight, Saint Marty is thankful that he can hug his kids.