Study Guide

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Chapter 5

By Ben Fountain

Chapter 5

By Virtue of Which the Many Become the One

  • The "lunch" the Bravos are treated to in the fancy, $50-a-head buffet is more like a full-on Thanksgiving dinner, and Billy's hangover is like, "Hurrrrrrrk."
  • The boys continue to harass Josh about when they'll get to meet the cheerleaders—or even better, Destiny's Child, who are the halftime show guests. These requests are, um, not particularly delicate.
  • Billy gets lost in his own head again, thinking about randomness, Lake's disembodied legs, omens, and the weird things time can do in battle.
  • Sergeant Dime calls Billy out on "flaking," so apparently this is something he's keeping an eye on.
  • Billy revisits how Bravo company had connected with Albert, the three-time Oscar-winning producer from LA. Basically: he called them up. Boom chicka boom.
  • Albert thinks the kids have got what it takes to make a huge hit (what is this, Rent?). Everyone loves them—they are like parfait, and ain't nobody doesn't like parfait.
  • The boys' only obstacle is that the American people have exactly zero frame of reference to understand what Bravo went through in their heroic exploits—which kind of nails on the head the whole existential crisis we've seen Billy trying to puzzle through.
  • There's a whole lotta Hollywood talk now, with Albert pseudo-explaining the art of the deal.
  • The guys get up for round two of the buffet, and when they sit back down, Dime is officially pissed, because the latest update on the movie is that it's getting the green light…as long as the story is moved to WWII. Uh, yeah, no. That's totally missing the point.
  • Once again, Shroom is back on Billy's mind. This time, he's remembering Shroom's death: everything seemed to happen at once, in a terrifying blur of blood and gunfire.
  • Billy's mad at Dime for being a Crankypants McGee during what's possibly their last good meal before they ship back to Iraq.
  • Another old guy approaches the group to thank them for their service. They're so brave fighting the war on terror. Blabbity blah blah…
  • Old dude makes the crucial mistake of asking Dime how "we're doing over there." Ruh roh.
  • Like a cheetah taking down a wounded gazelle, Dime unleashes a monologue that puts the old oil-fracking patriot in his place. +10 points for Dime.
  • Billy's thoughts get thrown back to that day when it all went down, and we see a bit more of what happened. Dime was with Billy when he finally broke down, which was when he was watching Lake screaming on the table and fighting off the docs who were trying to save his life.
  • Dime had shoved Billy into a supply pantry, and they had wept together—the kind of snotty, blubbery weeping that men can only do when they've hit rock bottom.
  • Dime passionately told Billy that he'd known it would be him…to do what? To come through in a pinch? To save someone? We'll hafta find out.
  • Then Dime planted a smooch on Billy, right on the kisser.
  • It wasn't a sexual thing, by any means, but Billy doesn't have a frame of reference other than "gay" for when two men kiss…though he knows that's not it.
  • More concerning, at the moment, is how Hilary Swank is going to play that whole scene if she plays a character in their movie that's a combination of Dime and Billy. What, she's gonna kiss herself?
  • At least the kiss is still Billy's secret. His and Dime's.
  • Billy goes to the bathroom, and on his way back to the Stadium Club, Mango and a waiter, smirking, ask him if he wants to get high. Does the Pope poop in the woods? Heck yeah, he does.
  • When Hector, the waiter, hears that the Army is making the Bravos go back to Iraq, he's outraged. They're sending the heroes back to war? They're not that mean…Oh, wait. They totally are.
  • The guys talk about stuff: Beyoncé, the upcoming half-time show, cheerleaders. They talk about whether, if they could do it all again, they would join the Army.
  • The consensus is: Eh…yeah. Probably. It sucks, but so do the alternatives.