And then Billy was a middle-aged optometrist again, playing hacker's golf this time--on a blazing summer Sunday morning. Billy never went to church any more. He was hacking with three other optometrists. Billy was on the green in seven strokes, and it was his turn to putt.
It was an eight-foot putt and he made it. He bent over to take the ball out of the cup, and the sun went behind a cloud. Billy was momentarily dizzy. When he recovered, he wasn't on the golf course any more. He was strapped to a yellow contour chair in a white chamber aboard a flying saucer, which was bound for Tralfamadore.
From golf course to flying saucer, Billy keeps moving. Time warping, to borrow a phrase from Rocky Horror. He escapes the showers in the prisoner of war camp to putt a few balls on the green to be a biology experiment in a Tralfamdorian flying lab. It's a great metaphor for the vicissitudes of life, how fast the seconds/minutes/hours/days/months/years pass. Amber moments, to borrow Vonnegut's nomenclature.
I myself am jumping from amber to amber today. I was grading until past midnight, up at 4:45 this morning. Spent five plus hours registering patients at the medical office. Now, I'm sitting in a classroom, administering a final exam, handing back papers. Then back to the medical office for an hour or so. Later, I will be preparing for tomorrow night's poetry reading. Choosing poems, planning patter, doing poet stuff. Amber moments.
My brother's amber is a little different than mine today. He is having/has had heart surgery today. Stents. My brother's heart was functioning at about 54 percent before his recent heart attack. He lost another 34 percent of cardiac muscle this time. That means only about a quarter of his heart is working. If the stents don't do the trick, my brother will need a pacemaker. Not really happy amber.
My brother's life is going to be drastically different from here on out. He's not going to be able to work. I don't even know if he's going to be able to climb a flight of stairs or drive a car. Last week, he was plumbing in a house. This week, a cardiologist is plumbing his chest.
All this has made me appreciate the simplest things that I do on a daily basis. Walking to my car. Scraping frost off my car windows in the morning. Even correcting essays. There's something very gratifying in being able to be a functioning person. Feeling wind on my face. Eating McDonald's French fries. Tickling my son.
Saint Marty is thankful today for all the amber in his life.