Billy went from total dark to total light, found himself back in the war, back in the delousing station again. The shower was over. An unseen hand had turned the water off.
When Billy got his clothes back, they weren't any cleaner, but all the little animals that had been living in them were dead. So it goes. And his new overcoat was thawed out and limp now. It was much too small for Billy. It had a fur collar and a lining of crimson silk, and had apparently been made for an impresario about as big as an organ-grinder's monkey. It was full of bullet holes.
Billy Pilgrim dressed himself. He put on the little overcoat, too. It split up the back, and, at the shoulders, the sleeves came entirely free. So the coat became a fur-collared vest. It was meant to flare at its owner's waist, but the flaring took place at Billy's armpits. The Germans found him to be one of the most screamingly funny things they had seen in all of World War Two. They laughed and laughed.
Dark to light. Childhood to adulthood. Peace to war. There are a lot of transitions in this short passage. Billy's time warps seem to happen arbitrarily, although Vonnegut certainly has arranged the scenes in Slaughterhouse for cumulative effect. The question is why he chose to place Billy's experience in Carlsbad Caverns directly before this moment in the German delousing shower. The only answer I have is that both scenes are filled with a certain kind of terror for Billy. In Carlsbad Caverns, Billy's fear is phobic and unfounded. In the shower, his fear is real and legitimate.
I just arrived home a couple hours ago after a day of driving. Grand Rapids was wonderful. My daughter did really well in her dance competition. For her solo, she received a High Gold Award, a Judge's Choice Award, and an invitation to Nationals. I am so proud of my little girl. She didn't stop smiling until she fell asleep last night. Generally, my daughter doesn't like me to make a big deal out of her accomplishments. Yesterday, she texted everyone with the news. She was very excited.
Now comes the transition back to real life tomorrow morning. My daughter goes back to school. I go back to work. Life goes back to normal. In a way, it will feel like a time warp. The relaxation and excitement of this past weekend butting up against the obligations and pressures of tomorrow. I have to get my online class ready for next week. My daughter has to read Of Mice and Men for tomorrow.
I am feeling a little unprepared, and that makes me very uncomfortable. Fearful even. I need to get a whole lot of stuff done in the next 24 hours. Complete freedom to complete drudgery. Work and work and work. That is the price of a few days of relaxation. But it was worth it.
Tonight, Saint Marty is thankful for his talented, beautiful daughter.