Properly enrolled and tagged, the Americans were led through gate after gate again. In two days' time now their families would learn from the International Red Cross that they were alive.
Next to Billy was little Paul Lazzaro, who had promised to avenge Roland Weary. Lazzaro wasn't thinking about vengeance. He was thinking about his terrible bellyache. His stomach had shrunk to the size of a walnut. That dry, shriveled pouch was as sore as a boil.
Next to Lazzaro was poor, doomed old Edgar Derby, with his American and German dogs displayed like a necklace, on the outside of his clothes. He had expected to become a captain, a company commander, because of his wisdom and age. Now here he was on the Czechoslovakian border at midnight.
"Halt," said a guard.
The Americans halted. They stood there quietly in the cold. The sheds they were among were outwardly like thousands of other sheds they had passed. There was this difference, though: the sheds had tin chimneys, and out of the chimneys whirled constellations of sparks.
A guard knocked on a door.
The door was flung open from inside. Light leaped out through the door, escaped from prison at 186,000 miles per second. Out marched fifty middle-aged Englishmen. They were singing "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here" from the Pirates of Penzance.
Billy Pilgrim is an outcast. He doesn't fit in, ever. Now, he finds himself greeted in a prison camp by a group of British allies, singing a song of welcome. It's not the happiest place to finally meet friends. Yet, there they are. The gang's all there.
I don't have a whole lot of time this evening. I am going to a concert with my wife. No Pirates of Penzance. Cole Porter. Not "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here," but "Let's Do It." It's a date with my wife after a long week of late nights on the computer, getting ready for my online class. After the concert, drinks at a local brewery.
That's what I have tonight. My mind is tired. I can't concentrate much longer.
Saint Marty is thankful tonight for a little diversion. And alcohol.