Pilgrim’s Plight: A Slaughterhouse Story

              My name is Yon Yonson, 

             I work in Wisconsin,

             I work at a lumbermill there.

            The people I meet when I walk down the street,

            They say, ‘What’s your name?’,

            And I say,

           My name is Yon Yonson,

           I work in Wisconsin…

      That was the song that was playing in the veterans’ hospital in Placid, New York. Billy Pilgrim had heard this song so many times before that he heard this song in his head half the time now. He had a companion of sorts when he traveled in time, and his name was Yon Yonson. If only old Yonson had more to say more about himself.

         Billy heard his mother coming, and as per usual, he covered his head and closed his head. He didn’t hear much of his mother’s attempts to strike something up. Yon Yonson kept talking over her. Besides, Billy had heard exactly what she was saying many times before.

***

         Billy fell asleep, and traveled in time back to Dresden. He was working the ol’ corpse mines, as per usual. If Billy Pilgrim ever cared about digging up the people who’d died (so it goes), he didn’t think of it anymore. They were still alive, after all, but he’d seen them so many times that they were broken records. In about five seconds, he would hear someone yelp when he steps on a little girl’s head.

     “Augh!”

           Right on schedule. The Tralfamadorians were right, that man had already yelped, and he always would. As reassuring as it was to know that people were still alive in the past, Billy Pilgrim still thought it was a shame that the death of that tripping hazard, that the bombing of Dresden, that both World Wars, were inevitable.

       Billy worked on through the rest of the day, making a game of picking out the corpses he would find. Old man missing an arm? Check. Woman dressed in a blue nightgown? Check. Baby with a caved-in skull? Double check. They were all dead, and there was nothing that could be done. So it goes.

       Typically Billy Pilgrim was quiet as he worked, but today he couldn’t help but sing a little as he worked.

     My name is Yon Yonson, 

    I work in Wisconsin,

    I work at a lumbermill there

***

            He collapsed on his cot that night, and travelled in time to the zoo on Tralfamadore. He stretched, and Montana Wildhack was lying next to her. Montana opened her mouth to yawn, and Billy thought the yawn would last exactly six seconds. Lo, it did.

       “How did you sleep?” Wildhack asked (again), “Do any time travelling?”

                Billy gave a nervous chuckle. “Yeah, I just came back from Dresden.”

           “Was it the bombing?”

                  “No, it was just the aftermath.” Billy hesitated a bit, and turned to Montana. “What do you think happens to you when you die?”

            Montana was slightly confused. “Didn’t you say that it was a purple glow and a hum?”

         “That’s not what I mean.” Billy said. “I mean you, people who aren’t unstuck like I am. Do you experience that death forever, or do you ever come back to your birth and experience your life again?”

             Wildhack sighed “I don’t know.”

         “It’s really impossible to,” Billy admitted. “For all I know, that violet void is just where I go when I die. Maybe there is an afterlife, and I just can’t see it from here.”

            “You think that the purple is just a barrier?”

          “If it is, I’m sure never going to pass it.” Billy sighed. “It seems like all I’ve got is my life here. Hey,” Billy said, more to himself “at least I have a companion who’ll always be with me.”

            “Really?” Montana asked, “Who is it?”

     Billy began to sing.

     My name is Yon Yonson, 

     I work in Wisconsin,

     I work at a lumbermill there… 

***

               Back in the veterans’ hospital, Billy heard Rosewater speaking to him, and Billy listened to him, thinking that Rosewater would say ‘Wake up, Pilgrim. Come on, Billy, your mother’s gone, she left two hours ago. Billy please get up, this new book isn’t going to read itself.’

         “Wake up, Pilgrim.” So far, so good.

           “Come on Billy, your mother’s gone, she left two hours ago.” That was it.

          “Billy, please get up, this new book isn’t going read itself.” The grand prize of experience goes to Billy Pilgrim!

             Billy didn’t get up. What was the point? He’d heard everything Rosewater said before, he’d read the book many times before, and he knew that this moment would never change. He’d milked his life as dry as a desert, and he let Rosewater leave for lunch. Billy wasn’t hungry. All he did was listen to his friend talk about himself. 

        My name is Yon Yonson, 

        I work in Wisconsin,

        I work at a lumbermill there.

        The people I meet when I walk down the street,

       They say, ‘What’s your name?’,

       And I say,

       My name is Yon Yonson,

       I work in Wisconsin…

         Billy was beginning to resent his little friend. He wouldn’t have minded if old Yon Yonson had said something different for once. But, Billy guessed he couldn’t exactly stop the man, so he half-listened to his friend talk about himself.

My name is Yon Yonson…

***

        Billy awoke in the German train car. That organism with voices and orifices aplenty was full of tired groans and snores from its cells, but Billy stayed at his little window. He thought one man would turn over and gently backhand someone’s nose, and he did. He bet his life another man would curl into a fetal position, and he did. He bet that Yon Yonson would tell him who he was, where he came from, and what he did, and he did. 

          He’d seen the puppets move at time’s command, and he would see it again. He wondered what was in control if it wasn’t them. It certainly wasn’t him. Here he was, stuck along this track with everyone else, and he couldn’t change it. Yon Yonson was happy to remind him of that, happy to remind him that nothing could change, that nothing could move anyone from the tracks they were all stuck on, and that he’d live through these tracks without an end in sight. Billy slipped, and got up on a mound of rubble at the ol’ corpse mines.

         He got up, and began to dig, and he heard some people had joined him in his little work song today. It had happened many times before, but it was getting to him today. From every direction, that idiot puppet named Yon Yonson kept prattling on and on about the lumbermill in Wisconsin that he worked in, and the people he met on the street. About how he’d always worked there, worked there now, and always would for eternity.

              Billy began clutching his head. He hated the song with every fiber of his being. It wouldn’t stop. It never stopped. In his rage, in his pain, Billy Pilgrim began to scream. The song wouldn’t stop, it was stuck in his head, repeating over and over and over and over again, for ever and ever and ever and ever. 

            My name is Yon Yonson, 

             I work in Wisconsin,

             I work at a lumbermill there.

            The people I meet when I walk down the street,

            They say, ‘What’s your name?’,

            And I say,

            My name is Yon Yonson, 

             I work in Wisconsin,

             I work at a lumbermill there.

            The people I meet when I walk down the street,

            They say, ‘What’s your name?’,

            And I say,

            My name is Yon Yonson, 

             I work in Wisconsin,

             I work at a lumbermill there.

            The people I meet when I walk down the street,

            They say, ‘What’s your name?’,

            And I say,

            My name is Yon Yonson, 

             I work in Wisconsin,

             I work at a lumbermill there.

            The people I meet when I walk down the street,

            They say, ‘What’s your name?’,

            And I say,

            My name is Yon Yonson, 

             I work in Wisconsin,

             I work at a lumbermill there.

            The people I meet when I walk down the street,

            They say, ‘What’s your name?’,

            And I say,

            My name is Yon Yonson, 

             I work in Wisconsin,

             I work at a lumbermill there.

            The people I meet when I walk down the street,

            They say, ‘What’s your name?’,

            And I say,

            My name is Yon Yonson, 

             I work in Wisconsin,

             I work at a lumbermill there.

            The people I meet when I walk down the street,

            They say, ‘What’s your name?’,

            And I say,

“Oh, why do you keep asking?”

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