A QUOTATION AGAINST A BLACK SCREEN:
'REJOICE, O YOUNG MAN, IN THY YOUTH ...'
The sound now of a C-130 air cargo plane roaring over us and we
cut sharply to:
EXT.AIRSTRIP - BASE CAMP - VIETNAM - DAY
As the C-130 coasts to a stop, the hatch rotating down on a hot,
dusty lifeless airstrip somewhere in Vietnam. Nothing seems to
live or move in the midday sun.
A DOZEN NEW RECRUITS step off the plane, unloading their duffel
bags, looking around like only the new can look around, their
hair regulation-clipped, crisp, new green fatigues fitting them
CHRIS TAYLOR is just another one of them - as he turns into a
tight closeup, to look at a motorized cart pulling up alongside
... He's about 21. Newmeat. His face, unburned yet by the sun,
is tense, bewildered, innocent, eyes searching for the truth.
They fall now on a heap of BODY BAGS in the back of the cart.
Two soldiers begin loading them onto the plane. Flies - hundreds
of flies - buzz around them, the only cue to their contents.
(next to Chris, Southern accent)
That what I think it is?
I guess so ...
An uncomfortable look between them.
Okay, let's go ...
As they move out, Chris' eyes moving with the body bags being
loaded onto the plane. Moving over now to a motley HALF DOZEN
VETERANS bypassing them on their way to the plane. They look
happy. Very happy, chatting it up.
They pass the newboys - and they shake their heads, their eyes
full of an almost mocking pity.
Well I'll be dipped in shit - new meat! Sorry bout
that boys - 'sin loi' buddy ... you gonna love the
Nam, man, for-fucking-ever.
Chris looking at them. They pass, except for the last man who
walks slower than the rest, a slight limp. His eyes fall on
They're frightening eyes, starved, hollow, sunken deep in his
face, black and dangerous. The clammy pallor of malaria clings
to him as he looks at Chris through decayed black teeth. Then
the sun flares out on him and he's past. And Chris looks back.
Disturbed. It's as if the man was not real. For a moment there.
As if he were a ghost.
Chris walking, duffel bag on the shoulder, looks up at the
lollipop sun burning a hole through the sky. A rushing SOUND
now. Of frightening intensity, an effect combining the blast of
an airplane with the roar of a lion as we hardcut to:
EXT. JUNGLE - SOMEWHERE IN VIETNAM - DAY
The sun matches the intensity of the previous shot as we move
down into thick green jungle. We hear the sound of MEN coming, a
lot of men. The thwack of a machete. Brush being bulled. We
wait. They are getting close.
The CREDITS continue to run.
SUBTITLE reads: December 1967 - Bravo Company, 25th Infantry
Division - Somewhere near the Cambodian Border.
A sweating white face comes into view. CHRIS - cutting point.
Machete in one hand, whacking out a path for the platoon, M-16 in
the other, he looks like he's on the verge of heat exhaustion.
Breathing too hard, pacing himself all wrong, bumping into
things, tripping, not quite falling, he looks pathetic here in
the naturalness of the jungle. An urban transplant, slightly
neurotic and getting more so.
His rucksack is coming apart as well, about 70 badly packed
pounds banging noisily.
Behind him BARNES now comes, the Platoon Sergeant. Then the RTO,
his radio man, humming lightly. Others are behind, the column
snaking back deep into the brush.
We cut around some FACES of the Platoon - all to be seen later.
Young faces, hard and dirty after weeks in the field, exhausted
yet alert, fatigues filthy, slept-in, torn, personalized, hair
way past regulation length, medals, bandanas. A jungle army.
Chris glancing down at his raw bleeding blisters. Transfers the
machete to his other, slightly less blistered, hand. The kid
cuts on - struggling but trying, on his last reserves of
strength, smashing almost straight forward through brush, not
even bothering to look ahead. He smells something, looks around,
slows his pace, eyes working ... around to the base of a tree.
He moves past it.
And as he does so, the camera from his POV comes around on a dead
decomposing 10-day-old GOOK - eyes starting from its sockets,
worms and flies feasting.
Chris draws his breath in, terrified. Barnes suddenly appears
alongside, his hard humourless eyes looking annoyed from the gook
What are you waiting for? He ain't gonna bite you.
Chris looks at him with pent-up hatred and crashes on.
EXT. PLATOON PC - DAY - MOVING
At the COMPANY PC, CAPTAIN HARRIS on the radio.
Bravo Two, Six. What's the delay up there, move it
out on point. We've got a link up at Phase Line
Whiskey at One Eight Zero Zero, over.
EXT. PLATOON PC - DAY - MOVING -- MORNING
At the PLATOON PC, LIEUTENANT WOLFE sweats heavily as he speaks
in his radio. He is also new to the field, a dark little feisty
guy, about 24, very hairy, especially in the eyebrows, an intense
Two Bravo, Two move it out. Six says we're jamming
'em up back there. Over.
Barnes, upfront, turns to SAL, his radio man, under his breath.
Tell that dipshit to get fucked. Get that other
freshmeat up here. Gardner.
As Barnes picks up his pace, irritated now at this reprimand from
the CO - coming up on Chris, who is soaked now from head to foot
in sweat, dizzy, feeling sick, about to vomit.
What the hell's the matter with you Taylor! You a
sorry ass motherfucker. Fall back.
He grabs Chris's machete out of his hand and bulls his way into
the foliage, tearing it apart, setting a new pace.
Chris being bypassed by the column, their eyes on him. He is
swatting at the red ants that are all over his neck.
GARDNER, another new recruit, fat, hustling up to replace him.
A big and black medic - DOC - comes over, gentle eyes and manner;
with him is Sergeant ELIAS, concerned.
Ants. I got ants on my neck ...
(shaking them out)
Yeah, black ants are killers, you look sick man. You
need a little salt.
(reaching into his satchel)
Sergeant Elias, a handsome, graceful dark-haired Indian kid of
23, the squad sergeant, is taking items out of Chris' pack - air
mattress, extra unnecessary clothing, extra canteens, grenades,
gas mask, books.
(shaking his head, amused)
You're humping way too much, troop, don't need half
this shit. I'll haul it for you but next time you
check it out with me okay?
Chris nodding, grateful, panting.
The men passing, watching. Chris sorry about this, trying to
keep up face.
BUNNY, a young 18 year-old with an angel's face, is pissing in
the dead gook's face.
KING passes, glances at him.
You're a sick mother Bunny.
Bunny laughing about it.
Chris standing there one moment, fighting for his breath,
suddenly passes out, going over with his 70 pound rucksack,
hitting the ground with a loud bang.
Hold it up.
On Chris - his eyes opening. He seems all right.
(trying to get up)
I'm okay ... I'm okay.
Chris crumples backwards. Elias helps him.
EXT. COMPANY PERIMETER #1 - DUSK
The COMPANY - about 100 men who seem insignificant amid the size
of the surrounding jungle - is digging into a perimeter of some
100-yard radius. A RESUPPLY CHOPPER lifts off in a flurry of
blowing leaves. Bare-chested soldiers chop down trees, clear
fields of fire, set out claymores, fill sandbags, chow down.
Little fires snake up against the greying red horizon.
EXT. COMPANY PERIMETER 31 - DOC'S POSITION - DUSK
We cut close on a pair of grungy feet - the staple of the
infantry - moving up to DOC, the Medic, bandaging them for FU
SHENG, a Hawaiin kid.
EXT. COMPANY PERIMETER #1 - RHAH'S POSITION - DUSK
Rhah sets his tripflare. Crawford, with him, putting out a
EXT. COMPANY PERIMETER #1 - RODRIGUEZ - POSITION - DUSK
Back in the perimeter RODRIGUEZ sets his M-60 in the newly dug
foxhole. SAL, next to him, is shaving in his helmet.
EXT. COMPANY PERIMETER #1 - KING'S POSITION - DUSK
KING looks like a king. A lion of a black man but with a sleepy,
gentle face, not to be roused, is painfully trying to scrawl a
letter home with the pencil held awkwardly, mouthing the words.
FRANCIS, a young baby-faced black with long lashes and soft eyes,
peeks over his shoulder, shaking his head.
Shit, King, it ain't d-e-r-e man, it's d-e-a-r, and
Sara don't have no two r's in it, fool. Shame on
King shrugs, a sleepy stoned voice.
Don't matter, she knows what it means ... an she
don't read too good nohow ...
EXT. COMPANY PERIMETER #1 - COMPANY PC - DUSK
Sgt. Elias washes himself, attentive to his body, slender and
well-muscled, and extremely handsome youth. Of Indian blood,
with long black hair, generous smile, wide facial bone structure,
gypsy eyes, and the cleanest white teeth, he could be a young
Greek god. He is given somewhat to panache, a silver wristband
on his arm, a bandana of black parachute silk hanging from his
neck, his fatigues tightened down at the ankle, he pulls his
pants down, checking for crotch rot, applying talcum powder to
the area, his buttocks facing us.
LERNER, a white kid, 19, from Florida, stopping to admire the
Mumm, any time sweetheart.
Lerner, you'd choke to death on it.
EXT. COMPANY PERIMETER #1 - COMPANY PC - DUSK
At the COMPANY COMMAND POST a beehive of activity with its four
radios, personnel, some Vietnamese scouts milling around.
CAPTAIN HARRIS is running down a field map with his THREE
LIEUTENANTS. Harris, a broad-shouldered fine-looking military
specimen with the requisite Southern accent and football coach
mannerism, is directing his remark to 2nd Platoon's LT.WOLFE, who
looks a little nervous.
Sky Six reports a fresh company of NVA moving across
from Cambodia to this blue line.
(points to position)
We got a good chance to light 'em up tonight. All
platoons will set squad-size ambushes before full
dark. Lt. Wolfe
(glances at him)
You 'bush in this area near that ol' Buddhist temple
we passed on the hump in. Lt. Hawkins, you take this
area in the rubber plantation...
No problem sir ...
EXT. PLATOON PERIMETER #1 - CHRIS' FOXHOLE - DUSK
Elsewhere, Chris scrapes out a foxhole, his shirt off, bandana
around his head, the work hot and heavy.
TEX is out there setting the claymore as BIG HAROLD and JUNIOR
start breaking down their C's.
(a whining high voice)
Hey Big Harold, gimme your peaches for the fruitcake
Fuck you bitch.
C'mon man, didn't I do you right that time I give you
the turkey loaf for the ham and lima beans shit.
Tricky bitch, reason you gimme dat turkey loaf is
nobody else can eat that shit 'cept me so don't start
your game playing with me Junior.
They're both black, Junior with huge goggle eyes and a face of
pimples and pockmarks, his teeth yellowed and decayed, some of
them missing. Harold is about twice his size, about 250 pounds,
a baby huey concentrating real hard on preparing his stove to eat
Youse a pig man. I hope Manny get dat laundry gig
for' you do.
De fool think he's gonna get it but he ain't known
for his thinking.
He's a fool alright but you a bigger fool. Hey,
whiteboy, watcha waiting for - dat hole ain't gonna
dig itself ...
Chris looks up, continues working, as Junior chuckles.
Hey Taylor, you don't know it but I saved your ass
today. I killed a shit-eating dog.
That reminds me, I gotta take a shit.
You gonna wipe your ass dis time?
Yeah if you let me have your shirt.
(VOICE OVER, as he digs)
Somebody once wrote Hell is the impossibility of
Reason. That's what this place feels like. I hate
it already and it's only been a week. Some goddamn
week, grandma ...
(checking his raw blisters)
... the hardest thing I think I've ever done is to go
on point, 3 times this week - I don't even know what
I'm doing. A gook could be standing 3 feet in front
of me and I wouldn't know it, I'm so tired. We get
up at 5 a.m., hump all day, camp around 4 or 5 p.m.,
dig foxhole, eat, then put out an all-night ambush or
a 3-man listening post in the jungle. It's scary
cause nobody tells me how to do anything cause I'm
new and nobody cares about the new guys, they don't
even want to know your name. The unwritten rule is a
new guy's life isn't worth as much cause he hasn't
put his time in yet - and they say if you're gonna
get killed in the Nam it's better to get it in the
first few weeks, the logic being: you don't suffer
that much. I can believe that ... If you're lucky
you get to stay in the perimeter at night and then
you pull a 3-hour guard shift, so maybe you sleep 3-4
hours a night, but you don't really sleep ... I don't
think I can keep this up for a year, grandma - I
think I've made a big mistake coming here ...
As he speaks, we cut around to various shots of the platoon
members on the perimeter - shaving, eating, cooking, playing, etc
EXT. PLATOON PC - NIGHT
Towards the end of this voice over, we cut to Sgt. BARNES moving
towards the PLATOON PC. A powerful face, a quiet, angry fixed
stare, a thick trimmed moustache that helps conceal a network of
plastic surgery grafts and scars. The distortion from the jaw up
the left side of his face to his forehead, punctuated by a severe
indentation above the left eye where a bullet once penetrated his
Walking with him is Sgt. O'NEILL as they join WOLFE, Sgts. ELIAS
and WARREN at the PLATOON PC where they're huddled over maps.
Warren is a black, thin, tall, paranoid man with untrusting eyes,
silent and bitter.
(to all, almost pleased about it)
We got boo-coo movement. 3rd Battalion just got hit
15 kliks north of here.
(the MEN react with wary silence)
(eager to elaborate)
Yeah, they had claymores strung up in the trees, blew
a whole fucking platoon to pieces. BAAD SHIT.
Barnes inflects his next words at Wolfe, who is worried.
Yeah, they got two Lieutenants and a Captain.
Elias quiet. Barnes studying the map.
Who do you want on ambush, Sergeant?
Barnes doesn't bother acknowledging the question, barely glancing
at the Lieutenant, to him a necessary evil. Everybody knows
who's really in charge of the Platoon. Barnes flicks his gaze to
Elias - you take your squad and I'll take Tex and
Francis from your squad.
We move out in two-zero mikes.
I thought it was O'Neill's turn tonight.
They all look at each other. O'Neill spits in the dust, a
freckled, short red head with a hard worried face, a lifer, 30
going on 60.
Shit! Morehouse and Sal are short. Fu Sheng's going
on R&R, you don't want to send their asses out on an
ambush. You got the fresh meat Elias.
They don't know shit Barnes, and chances are we gonna
run into something.
So what am I going to do! Get one of my guys zapped
so some fuckface fresh from the World can get his
beauty fucking sleep!
Hey O'Neill why don't you cool it, you don't have to
be a prick everyday of your life, you know.
Fuck you Elias.
You get your men ready Elias ...
Concluding the debate, no further argument, Barnes rises. The
meeting's closed. Lt. Wolfe hasn't said a word, looking as Elias
departs, without a word.
Fucking guy's got 3 years in and he thinks he's
Cochise or something ...
His resentment directed partly at the way in which Elias carries
himself, the natural sense of grace - and the dignity it bestows.
EXT. PLATOON PERIMETER #1 - SQUAD ASSEMBLY POINT - DUSK
Later. On the very edge of the perimeter, darkness coming down
fast, the men in the ambush patrol rustle into their packs, all
of them bitching.
Tex, carrying the M-60, looks up at the glowering sky.
Shit, looks like rain. All night too. Gonna grow
mushrooms in your bad-ass crotch Junior.
(under his breath)
Goddamn ain't no justice round here, you break your
ass for de white man ... gonna get our act together,
do some rappin' wid de brothers, change things ...
What's O'Neill have a nose up the lieutenant's ass
already, how come we always get ambush.
Politics, man, politics. We always getting fucked
Chris is scared, nervous with his last-minute equipment
adjustments, his pack obviously overweight for a night mission as
he hauls it up.
Gardner, the other new boy, is jovial in contrast, his wallet
extended towards Chris.
Hey Chris, I show you a picture of Lucy Jean?
(not to be bothered)
Gardner shows him his girl. She's real dog u-g-l-y, and what
makes it worse is Gardner's put the standard photo of Raquel
Welch alongside it, tits and all. But he misses the irony of it.
Yeah she's the one all right ... that's Lucy Jean.
She's a-waiting for me.
Yeah she's real pretty, you're lucky ...
Gardner puts it away. Elias appears alongside them, checking
their packs out, takes out Chris's poncho liner and other items.
He carries a modified M-16 with a short barrel and a collapsible
(to both boys)
Don't need this or this ... you're doing okay. Just
stick close to Tex, do what he does.
(calling out to Tex)
Tex you got Junior and Taylor here on your position.
Tex is a sour Texas Ranger type, chews tobacco, spits.
Damn, 'Lias this gun's boss. Put Taylor someplace
Chris feels the words like lashes on him.
You got Taylor ...
... Gardner you go with me
(to Chris and Gardner)
'Case somethin' happens to you, you get separated or
lost don't yell out okay. Sit tight. We'll get to
His eyes. Chris watching them. A smile in them. Elias moves
off, a quality to the man that Chris admires. A natural sense of
Okay, let's move out.
As he follows King, on point, out the perimeter. A single file.
EXT. THE AMBUSH NIGHT (RAIN)
Night is coming down. The tone of the jungle sounds has subtly
shifted - mellower, more sinuous and certainly scarier.
The file stops. King, an experienced point man, listens.
Chris - carrying Tex's linked ammo - looks around, tense. Behind
him is Gardner, trying to smile, starts to whisper something
('Hey Taylor ...') when he's abruptly shushed.
The file moves on. Gardner's pack rattling a little too loud. A
weird rush of cold wind now rattles the trees and the MONSOON
comes. A hard slanting rain, sudden, tropic.
EXT. RUINS - JUNGLE - NIGHT (RAIN)
A piece of an old Buddhist temple, under a sulky moonlight now in
a state of decay, the jungle surging to engulf it.
The Men are setting up quickly and relatively quietly in the
ruins - alongside a miniscule trail. The rain is coming down
harder than ever.
Chris and Tex setting out their claymore mines, raveling back
their detonating cords to their position, drenched. In the far
distance, an ILLUMINATION ROUND brightens the sky for a brief
moment. Various ad lib curses and directions are lost in the
sound of the rain.
EXT. AMBUSH - BARNES' POSITION - NIGHT (RAIN)
At the Ambush CP, Ace whipsers into his radio. A soft hissing
EXT. AMBUSH - CHRIS'S POSITION - NIGHT (RAIN)
Later. Close on Chris being shaken awake.
Taylor, you're on.
The rain continuing to pelt them. Tex hands him an infrared
You sure you know how to work the claymore?
Tex curls up as best he can in his poncho to sleep.
Okay ... don't catch no zzz's on me buddy or I'll
sling your motherfucking ass ... You hear me?
(grits his teeth)
(looking at his watch)
Hey Tex - you're ten minutes fast.
('tough luck', closes his teeth)
Chris lets it go, scans the jungle and trail with the scope. The
POV is greasy and blurred. He puts it aside.
Suddenly a series of resonant SNORES crack through the jungle.
Chris starts, then sees it's from JUNIOR lying out there,
spreadeagled in the rain. Chris prods him.
Unh? ... Unh.
Shaddup! You're snoring ... Shhh.
Bending low into his eardrum. Junior never wakes, rolls over
with a growl. Silence.
EXT. CHRIS' POSITION - NIGHT (RAIN)
Later. A pool of muddy water has formed, in which a pair of
buttocks sit. Move up to Chris still on duty, looking at his
watch, drawn, drenched, pathetic, rainwater coursing down his
(continuing his letter)
... 'Course Mom and Dad didn't want me to come, they
wanted me to be just like them - respectable, hard-
working, making $200 a week, a little house, a
family. They drove me crazy with their goddamn
world, grandma, you know Mom, I don't want to be a
white boy on Wall Street, I don't want my whole life
to be predetermined by them.
A large RIPPING SOUND as the wind blows down a big tree branch
onto the jungle floor. He starts, peering out. Nothing. He
looks at his watch again.
CHRIS (V.O.) (CONT'D)
... I guess I have always been sheltered and special,
I just want to be anonymous. Like everybody else.
Do my share for my country. Live up to what Grandpa
did in the First War and Dad the Second. I know this
is going to be the war of my generation. Well here I
am - anonymous all right, with guys nobody really
cares about - they come from the end of the line,
most of 'em, small towns you never heard of -
Pulaski, Tennessee, Brandon, Mississippi, Pork Bend,
Utah, Wampum, Pennsylvania. Two years' high school's
about it, maybe if they're lucky a job waiting for
'em back in a factory, but most of 'em got nothing,
they're poor, they're the unwanted of our society,
yet they're fighting for our society and our freedom
and what we call America, they're the bottom of the
barrel - and they know it, maybe that's why they call
themselves 'grunts' cause a 'grunt' can take it, can
take anything. They're the backbone of this country,
grandma, the best I've ever seen, the heart and soul
- I've found it finally, way down here in the mud -
maybe from down here I can start up again and be
something I can be proud of, without having to fake
it, maybe ... I can see something I don't yet see,
learn something I don't yet know ... I miss you, I
miss you very much, tell Mom I miss her too - Chris.
He moves towards Junior, shakes him, but Junior seems to be out
of this world.
Junior opens one dead eye.
It's your shift, man ...
Junior scowls, swears, looks around for his rifle in the mud.
Chris crawls back to his position, curling himself up in his
soaked poncho, teeth chattering from the cold, rain splattering
over him. A long beat. He sighs, the sigh kicking off the next
EXT. CHRIS' POSITION - NIGHT
Chris jerks awake - very suddenly, very frightened. THE RAIN HAS
STOPPED. The jungle sounds are loud. Cicadas, night animals,
water dripping hypnotically from leaf to leaf. And the whirr of
a million mosquitoes out after the rains, chewing at Chris' face.
He looks around, startled.
Tex is asleep. Junior is asleep. What happened? He looks at
his watch. The mosquitoes are eating him alive. He buries his
head in his green towel which he wears around his neck, but he
can't see. A beat. He moves again, miserable from the bites.
Another beat. Then suddenly the sounds of the jungle shift -
some of the animals dropping out. A different tone. A piece of
wood is stepped on, a rustle of bush ...
Chris sees something, lifts an edge of the towel to peek out.
A shoadow of a figure is frozen there in front of him about 15
yards. It looks like a man. But it doesn't move. At all. It
Chris, his heart in his mouth, tries to peer through it. It's a
bush. It has to be. No human being could stand that still. His
heartbeats are up. The moments take forever. But deep down -
somewhere in his psyche - he knows who it is.
The figure now shifts, ever so slightly - and moves. It IS a
human being. Oh my God!
Chris looks around. Tex seems like a mile away. Why doesn't
anyone fire! He casts a desperate look at his rifle, at his
grenades encrusted with mud, but in spite of all his training, he
is frozen with indecision and fear at the sight of his enemy.
The figure seems to whisper something back, then turns and comes
down the trail. Now a second and third figure appear behind him
- all in helmets and packs. All coming right past Chris'
position. Ten yards. Nine.
Chris is rigid with terror. Stark eyes. Pleading with Tex to
wake up, but out of reach. He is about to have an anxiety
attack, his heartbeats so far up he is sure they will hear him.
The first figure is now directly in front of Chris on the trail,
looking left and right. A rattle of his equipment, a creak of
leather. A smell. The man's face now catches the moonlight and
his eyes come around on Chris.
Oriental eyes. Looking right at him. Startled. Chris staring
back, hypnotized. It all happens very fast. The figure murmurs
something in Vietnamese. A warning. He swivels.
A flash of muzzle fire. A raking cough of automatic fire. A
Chris is hurled to the ground, helmet bouncing off, scattered,
confused, jarred. All hell breaks loose around him with NOISE
Tex, kissing the ground, is yelling at him.
THE CLAYMORE! GET THOSE FUCKERS!
Chris, not knowing what he's doing, is fumbling with the claymore
handles, presses them. INSERT: They won't give. He tries again
and again to the squeeze the life out of them. Tex is screaming
THE SAFETY! TAKE THE SAFETY OFF YOU ...
Lunges over and grabs the handle from Chris. Clicks the safeties
off and blows them.
Three EXPLOSIONS rip out into the night - and one of the ENEMY is
caught in a brief instant looking like an X-ray, his body lifted
and swirling in the air, then enveloped in swirls of smoke.
Chris, trying to keep up, grabs his M-16, lays out a stream of
fire. The sound all around him is deafening.
EXT. GARDNER'S POSITION - NIGHT
Gardner, freaking out, stands crouched, confused, tries to run,
EXT. O'NEILL'S POSITION - NIGHT
O'Neill throws a grenade, wild.
EXT. CHRIS' POSITION - NIGHT
An explosion. Chris hits the deck.
Tex is now on the M-60 machine gun, yelling at Junior who is
cringing on the ground.
He lays out red tracer bullets like laser beams, then suddenly
reels back, whiplashed, screaming. A grenade explosion rocks
AAAAAGHHH! MY ARM! MY ARM!
His hand and wrist are gone, his face in the dirt. Junior is
fumbling around, trying to stay down and help him at the same
(grabbing Tex's gun)
DOC! GET UP HERE! TEX IS HIT!
Chris, looking out to his front, has no clue what's going on.
Except the fire is slacking. Relayed shouts of 'Medic! Medic!'
HOLD IT UP! HOLD IT UP!
The firing has ceased. A silence, punctuated by occasional
shouts and fast moments, has enveloped once more the cemetery.
Doc crashes through the bush, kneels over Tex, who continues to
howl in deep pain.
MY ARM! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!
Easy Tex easy boy!
Trying to sound calm but his voice is on the edge, examinging the
mutilation with a pen flashlight, he whips out his morphine in a
Doc over here! Gardner's hit.
As he slips the morphine into Tex's arm.
(muttering at Chris)
... godamn! Godamn! DUMB FUCKER, DUMB FUCKER!
Chris watching, suddenly feels himself dizzy, instinctively runs
his hands over the back of his neck. Feels the warm blood there.
A moan comes from his lips. Junior looks at him.
Oh shit, Doc he's hit too.
I'm hit ...
Barnes and Big Harold come hustling up.
Doc finishes tourniquetting Tex, cradles Chris onto the earth,
his flashlight probing the wound. Tex in background continues to
thrash and moan.
Chris waits, tensely for the verdict, his eyes big with fear on
Doc, who takes out his morphine.
(to Barnes, pointing at Chris)
That dumb fuck didn't blow his claymore!
Chris hearing this. Barnes looks at him.
... it's a scratch, nothing to worry about.
Doc ... tell me the truth, don't lie to me.
The needle goes in. Tex lets out this strange keening moan that
sets everyone's teeth on edge.
He let'em walk right up on us. He was sleeping on
I was not ... it was your ...
(leaving, to Harold and Junior)
Self-preservation's the first law of nature. Gotta
learn how to work your shit Taylor. Watch me, don't
let'em go into shock.
Tex's moans are maddening and scary. Barnes suddenly clamps his
hand over Tex's mouth shutting him up and from way down deep in
his throat, chokes out the words.
Shut up! Shut up - and TAKE IT! TAKE THE PAIN!
Tex's eyes roll wildly, uncomprehending. Doc and Big Harold
looking at Barnes, wondering. Tex is suddenly silent, shocked.
Barnes stands, an icy glare, goes. Junior scrambles over to
Tex's side. Doc runs off.
Big Harold cradles Chris, his big black hands like a mother,
You gonna be okay Taylor, okay, don't you start
Chris looking up at him, eyes blinking slowly, dazed already by
the morphine. He's very scared.
Do you ... do you know you're gonna die ... Big
Harold? ... do you feel like ... like ...
everything's gonna be fine and then ...
Bullshit man, you gettin outta the field, man. Three
hots a day, white sheets, dem pretty white nurses
give you blowjobs too you pay em enough, I heard tell
bout dem white bitches. Better save yo strength
Don babytalk him man. Cocksucker fell asleep. They
walked right up on us, he don do shit.
Chris is gettin woozier, feeling he is dying but starting to
grin, not caring about it anymore. Yet he is nowhere close to
It's not ... so bad ... dying. How long .. it ...
EXT. TRAIL - RUINS - POSITION #1 - NIGHT
Barnes stands over a moaning, ripped up ENEMY SOLDIER. FIRES his
M-16 point blank into the head. The Soldier bucks and dies,
EXT. TRAIL - RUINS - POSITION #2 - NIGHT
ELIAS, checking out a blood trail some distance away, shifts on
the shot, looks back.
EXT. TRAIL - RUINS - POSITION #3 - NIGHT
FRANCES, MANNY, BUNNY and KING are huddled over another mangled
(stripping the corpse)
That's no NVA man. That's a chink - look at 'em, the
cocksucker's six and a half feet tall. Look at his
gear - good as ours.
Shit I blew my claymore right in one dude's face and
I seen him walking around afterwards.
What we fighting here, vampires?
EXT. TRAIL - RUINS - POSITION #1 - NIGHT
Elias comes up to Barnes swiftly, indicating the blood trail
leading off into the bush.
Blood trail just keeps going and going but no body.
How the hell did he get away?
Fuckers returned fire soon as we lit 'em up. Hard
core fuckin' NVA. They got their shit together.
(coming up to Barnes)
Sarge - Doc wants you. There's a problem with the
Elias and Barnes go with King. Past Chris and Tex who are
ambulatory and bandaged, being helped along. As Barnes passes,
the men look at him, everybody quickly senses something is wrong.
EXT. GARDNER'S POSITION - NIGHT
At one of the positions Doc is working feverishly to knock the
life back into Gardner who lies there, his shirt stripped off on
his cottage cheese belly. A huge sucking chest wound. He's
dying. You know it because he knows it. The eyes do the
talking, numb, terrorized yet strangely detached, accepting, not
protesting or concerned any longer.
Most of the ambush has assembled and is watching, Chris moving in
to see. Doc is mumbling to him, low key.
Chopper's on the way Gardner, hang in there, you
gonna be okay ...
But Gardner seems unconcerned. Things are going on in his head -
who knows what. And in his eyes there are big tears rolling.
Then a morphine smile. A sort of goofy Gardner smile, maybe
thinking about Lucy Jean, who knows. He's dead.
Take a good look at this lump o'shit ...
(motions to Gardner's body)
Rmember what it looks like, all of you. You fuck up
in a firefight and I guaran-goddamn-tee you, a trip
out of the bush - IN A BODYBAG. Out here, assholes,
you keep your shit wired tight at ALL times ...
(glares directly at Chris)
and that goes for you, shit for brains. You don't
SLEEP ON NO FUCKIN' AMBUSH. Next sonofabitch I catch
coppin' z's in the bush I'm personally gonna take an
interest in seeing him suffer - I SHIT YOU NOT ...
He thumps Chris lightly but menacingly in his chestbone and moves
I didn't fall asleep, Sergeant, Junior ...
(pissed, cuts in, shoves him hard)
Shut your face chicken shit! You in big trouble boy!
Excuses are like assholes, Taylor - everybody got
Knock it off! We got two men need attention here.
Police up your extra ammo and frags, don't leave
nothing for the dinks. Hoyt, Junior, carry Gardner.
Let de white boy carry his ass, he this dude that got
him fucked up. Who'd be hauling his ass if that was
a brother laying there?
Elias follows Barnes out of earshot of the others.
Man'd be alive if he'd had a few more days to learn
Barnes, registering it, just keeps on walking.
EXT. BASE CAMP - DAY (WEEK LATER)
Chris is driven up in a jeep to his Company PC - marked 'Bravo
PC' on a C-ration box. It's midday on a hot lazy afternoon, few
people out in the 102 degree sun.
Chris' Company is on the outskirts of the base camp, their
barracks regulation wood, canvas, and fine mesh screening, red
dust everywhere, bunkers down on the perimeter, reams of barbed
wire and concertina, a sand-bagged MESS HALL and CHAPEL, 81 mm
mortar pits, observation towers, recoiless rifles, 50-caliber
Chris gets out of the jeep, stiff-necked, a bandage around it,
still in some pain. The first man he intersects is KING,
carrying crates of beer.
Hey Taylor, what's in the breeze?
In King's mild tone Chris tries to read his standing in the
Okay - got light duty, three days.
Shit, too bad we in base camp anyway.
What you got there - beers?
Yeah, just stole me some from the Top's supply but
he's stealing it from us anyway.
(sees somebody coming)
Chucks are coming. You better 'didi' man.
Too late. Sgt. O'NEILL, the redhead lifer accompanied by Spec 4
SANDERSON, a big handsome blond kid, not too bright in the face,
both slightly drunk, come around a corner, beer cans in hand.
O'Neill sees Chris immediately.
Hey Taylor - you back?
Uh, looks like it?
(spotting King's beer)
Where'd you get that beer King?
(a funny look)
I found it ...
You found it? ... Bullshit! You going on report.
Gimmee that shit.
Awright, come here both of you. You too Taylor
(wags his finger)
Got a little special job for you.
They advance toward him reluctantly.
I got light duty, Sarge. Doctor said to take it easy
... ain't that tough shit now.
EXT. THE OUTHOUSE - DAY
A wooden cabin with some half-dozen seats built over half barrels
cut from empty oil drums. A guy is in there, pulling up his
Chris, King and Crawford, a California blond with a handsome
honeyed look, are sweeating heavily as they roll the barrels out
from under the outhouse, the smell of human waste strong. A hot
midday emptiness, nobody around except the flies.
... Motherfuckah, motherfuckah, I'm too short to be
dealing with this shit! They keep fucking with us
man, no letup ...
Politics man, fuckin' politics. That O'Neill man got
his nose so far up Top's ass he gotta be Pinocchio...
Forty-two days man and a wakeup and I'm a gone
motherfucker. Back to de WORLD.
(dreaming in his eyes)
Broke a 100. Got 92 to go. April 17. DEROS man.
California this summer. Waves are good they tell me,
surfin's gonna be good ...
March man in Tennessee, sniff the pines ... sniff
that crossmounted pussy walkin' down by the river.
What you got Taylor?
Let's see three hundred and WHAT?
... 32. 332 days.
Oh man! Sorry bout that. I can't even remember when
I was 332. You gotta count backwards like you got 40
days in - think positive.
How the fuck you get over here man, you look like you
You WHAT? Say 'gain.
Yeah, I dropped out of college and told 'em I wanted
infantry, combat, and Nam ...
He grins, finding their reactions funny. It's also the first
time we've seen Chris crack a smile.
You volunteered for this shit man?
You a crazy fucker, givin' up college man.
King has long sleepy eyelids and cat's eyes, a large pink tongue
and big white-edged cotton picker's nails - a lazy, gentle
nature, content with the world.
Didn't make much sense. Wasn't learning anything ...
And why should just the poor kids go to the war - and
the college kids get away with it.
King and Crawford share a smile.
What we got here a crusader?
Sounds like it.
They pause, wipe the sweat off. King lighting up a half-smoked
joint, hitting a few puffs, eyes shooting around, making sure
he's not spotted, passing it to Crawford.
Sheeit, gotta be rich in the first place to think
like dat. Everybody know the poor always being
fucked by the rich. Always have, always will.
Noticing Chris is having trouble with his neck, picking at his
You okay man? Neck botherin' you?
Here have some of this. Won't feel a thing.
Chris looking at the joint, a little apprehensive. He's never
No, thanks ...
Go on, whatcha gotta lose, yo' here now ...
Kills the smell of shit anyway.
The joint proferred. Chris waits a beat, shrugs, takes it,
Suck it in. Hold it ... That's it. Now let it out.
Chris blows it out.
Don't feel it.
King and Crawford chuckle, go on rolling the cans.
Dat's what they all say.
EXT. OUTHOUSE - LATER - DAY
King, Crawford and Chris pour kerosene over the cans at a secure
distance from the outhouse.
King lights it. The cans pop and start crackling. A line of
burning barrels. Rings of dirty black smoke rise against a soft
They watch, stoned. Chris turns to both of them.
... you know that night we got hit ... I ...
Fuck it, don't mean nothing, no such thing here as a
coward, done your best man, next time y'do better.
History, man, history.
Chris surprised at their attitude. The joint suddenly hits him,
a look in his face, eyes looking around different. Over at King.
I think I'm starting to feel that stuff ...
Yo getting there Taylor. You be cool now and I'll
introduce you 'round to some of the 'heads'.
What are the heads?
(laughes, walks away with Crawford)
Chris alone, breathes deep, feeling the full effect.
EXT. BASE CAMP - NIGHT
A relief against the long harsh, hot day. We see lights on all
over the camp, sounds of music, laughter from the barracks.
INT. UNDERWORLD HUTCH - NIGHT
King leads Chris down to a specially constructed cellar-like
hutch dug deep into the ground on an isolated edge of the
battalion perimeter. Ammo casing and canvas are piled over it,
and sandbags surround it. From the outside very little sound can
be heard as they go down through a trap door made of ammo crates.
Past a lookout (Adams) pulling security, hitting a joint but
alert. King motions to him, it's cool.
Inside is another world. Chris looking around amazed. It's like
a private cabaret for the 'heads' who are there cooling out.
Boxes of food from the States, beers, whiskey bottles, crates
functioning as tables, hammocks hanging from poles, electric
fans, tape decks, paraphenalia.
The boys are all dressed up in their Saturday night rags. The
clothes are clean, the headbands, the medallions are out,
anything distinctive and individualistic. On the tapedeck,
Jefferson Airplane's 'Go Ask Alice'.
To Chris it is a new world. And RHAH, the resident head, sitting
there in all his finery puffing a huge burning red bowl in a
three foot long Montagnard pipe, seems to be the lord of final
judgement in this smoky underworld.
Across his naked chest, birds and snakes are tatooed. Around his
neck a black skull and white ivory cross side by side. On his
knuckles 'Love' and 'Hate' are tattooed. In his eyes, a dancing
Satanic fire. A poor rural Southern white, in his grizzled late
20's, he could be a Biker King. Giving Chris the once-over.
Whatcha doing in the underworld Taylor?
This ain't Taylor. Taylor been shot. This man Chris
been resurrected ...
Chris wondering what he's doing here. His eyes roving over
LERNER, CRAWFORD, MANNY, FLASH, FRANCIS, HOYT, TUBBS, DOC, other
from the Platoon, about 9 or 10 of them.
Rhah eyes him back, hands him the bowl.
You lame Taylor?
You lame or something?
... go ahead on, smoke it man.
Chris understands, takes the bowl. Hesitates. Then smokes it.
The contact fumes are almost enough to knock him out. He starts
coughing. They're all laughing.
Your shit's in the wind troop. Baaaaah!
Lerner replies, his tongue hanging out in parody.
And Baaaaaaa! back on you.
(looking at Lerner with distaste)
If you're gonna do it man, 'least do it right.
Building up to it, his eyes shaking with conviction at the whole
insanity of the world, he neighs with all the venom he can
They all laugh and applaud. King smoking from the pipe passing
it back to Chris who takes another hit, doesn't cough this time,
looking around, wondering about these guys.
I didn't like it.
Bah, you're a child, Lerner. Rhah don't waste time
They go on ad-libbing with each other, teasing Doc, who's fairly
straight, saying he wants to go to med school in the fall. 'Be
what?''A gynecologist, man.''What dat?' Francis suggests, 'Dats a
pussy doctor, man - he's gonna be Doctor Feelgood, man!' They're
all cracking up, finding every joke funny. As Chris finishes his
hit on the pipe, looks up across the smoke, already dazed,
surprised to see ELIAS suddenly there - leaning out of his sling
in a far corner of the hooch. A Monkey is draped around his neck
with silver bracelets, rings, a necklace - like a sensual little
Egyptian whore, Elias playing with it, spaced out in a sleeveless
vest, tiger pants. Dancing eyes on Chris, he swings out the
hammock, comes over with the monkey.
Meanwhile Manny has broken into a high falsetto snatch of blues
directed at Chris, joined by Big Harold and Francis, all of them
clicking their hands.
MANNY & BIG HAROLD & DOC
Oooh Chris, you look like you is high oh yeah, he
looks like he is high Ooooh Chris, you know you gonna
be that way all night oh yeah I think that you are
... Yeah! up now and up to par oh yeah.
Elias pulls out a Remington 870 shotgun, jacks it to the rear,
points it at Chris.
Put your mouth on that.
Chris does so slowly, a little worried. Elias takes a hit and
blows it down the bore - 'shotgunning' it into Chris' lungs.
Chris staggers back, coughing. Everybody laughes 'hey dude - you
done had your ass blown away' etc ...
Elias smiles his big white-tooth smile.
Then the worm has definately turned for you man.
Chris puzzled by this expression.
(a sense of euphoria now)
Yeah. No pain in my neck now. Feels good.
Feelin' good's good enough.
As he sucks in a huge mass of smoke off the bowl. His eyes
performing a funny little hop, skip and jump, as he holds it, his
face turning red.
The monkey jabbers and jumps around on his neck, worried. Elias
then blows the smoke out in its face, the monkey hating it.
The Group laughes.
Hey Crutcher. I hear you got a Dear John from your
gal. Told you she wasn't getting 'nuff from you.
Lerner looks up, stoned out of his mind, wearing a ring in his
Shit. Sold me out for some lame dude with a 4-F.
What'd you say her name was again?
(recalling her image)
Hey look at Charlotte!
The monkey is sitting quietly stoned, its eyes blinking.
Daisy Mae! What Daisy Mae look like Crutcher?
She look huge and got freckles on her ass.
She look beautiful.
How much she weigh man?
She braid her hair under her armpits, Crutcher.
Daisy Mae what?
Daisy Mae Highway, that's what.
Well whatcha want, Lerner, your dick been limp for a
year, 'cept when you're bopping your buddy Tony up
I fucked this chick in Hawaii man. Couple weeks ago
... Oooooh! Wow - outasight. Gracie Slick man, she
looked like Gracie man, I shit you not.
The look on his face ensnares all of them, except perhaps Rhah.
What happened man. What whorehouse you go to?
No whorehouse man. On the beach.
Yeah, sure. She walked right by me. Long black
hair, tits swinging. Ass like French bread. Legs
don't end right.
You can plant that shit in Tennessee man, but it
won't come up in Texas.
So what she got, hair on her tits.
I just stopped man. My heart's beating like a hardon
right I got a hardon sticking through my pants, my
bathing suit looks like a hutch ...
I know dat feeling ...
So I'm thinking to myself - Elias you walk away from
this, you gonna regret this the rest of your natural
life. So I go after her, follow her down the beach.
You know find out if she is what she is.
They're all hooked into this now.
Well she was picking up her kids.
No, dat ain't dat.
Get outta here, she married ...
Like two hogs in heat. Boy.
Their throats knotting ...
... But what'd she do?
What didn't she do. She fucked the living shit outta
me, that's what she did!
(sucking in air)
Couldn't get enuff ...
But what'd she actually do?
She was a crossbreed, Chinese and Polish.
(finally hooked in)
And living in Hawaii man?
Yeah - and has blonde hair and almond-shaped eyes.
Hey man didn't you say she had black hair?
She had blonde hair man. And long tan legs, in those
leather sandals you know, with those thongs up to her
knees, this musky oil on it ... mmmm smelled good
when they were wrapped around my face ...
They groan, dreaming of Hawaii.
Please, somebody hold my dick!
... and a broken nose.
Yeah, otherwise she would've been too perfect, y'know
what I mean ... some woman. Her name was ...
He forgets it. A grass blackout. Lerner urging him on.
Elias shaking his head, trying to remember.
Merle? Jesus! ... Patty?
Elias snapping his fingers.
Dawn! That was it!
King listening to the sound of it.
The others nodding, musing over it.
Yeah, Dawn ...
INT. THE BARRACKS - NIGHT
In comparison to the darkness of the hooch, a highly lit
atmosphere, attracting bugs ... dusty gear lying around a
disordered hooch, loud and finger-snapping COUNTRY WESTERN MUSIC
playing from a tape deck, a well-known tune, circa 1967.
BUNNY, the 18 year-old angel face, totters drunk with a Colt-45
beer in hand, over to JUNIOR, the badass black kid with the zits,
who just lies there on his cot sweating, doing nothing.
(listening to the music)
Listen to that shit, that's good shit!
(irritated as always)
Fuck that redneck noise, dude. All dem chicks be
rappin' how dey losin' der' ho's and how dey ain't
got no bread for beer. Fuck dat honky shit. Got to
get me some motown jams, dig it?
(doesn't understand a word of it)
Whaddaya talking shit for man. Hey Junior! Y'ever
smoke any shit?
Das right dude. You be tryin' to string de black man
out on dat shit and keep him DOWN. Time's be coming,
my man, when de black man's gonna throw off that
(lonely in his way for company)
Say I can dig it. Smoke that shit everything kinda
gets weird y'know?
Y'hear that story the gooks is putting chemicals in
the grass so's we become 'pacifists' so's we don
(to no one in particular)
Where the hell's everybody, they'se gettin high
that's what - bunch of hopheads, they think they
(turns away, bored)
Don you worry Bunny, youse a killer anyway.
Yeah but I still like a piece of pussy once in a
while - ain't nothing like a piece of pussy cept
maybe the Indie 500.
Youse so fucked up man.
Y'ever look at yoself in the mirror Junior, youse
uglier than a dick on a dog man.
Yeah, you had a piece of pussy on a plate in front of
you, you'd probably kill it.
Shit, I bet I been laid more'n you have.
Sure, you probably stick it in tween her knees and
think youse there.
Only way you'd get some pussy is your bitch dies and
wills it to you - and then maybe.
Lt. WOLFE wanders down the aisle, beer in hand, slightly lonely,
bypassing FU SHENG, the Hawaiin and TONY, a mustached hairy-
browed Italian kid from Boston, who are playing some kind of dice
game. They hardly acknowledge the Lieutenant who stops by
RODRIGUEZ, the Mexican-American kid who is on his cot in his
neatly arranged area writing a letter home with a pencil, forming
his words with his mouth, as always minding his own business.
Religious objects comprise his few decorations.
How you doing Rodriguez?
Wolfe winks at him, continues on to the POKER GAME going on in
the center of the barracks, the main action. BARNES,
Sgts.O'NEILL and WARREN, the quiet sullen black, SANDERSON and
SAL play as ACE, the tiny radio kid, and MOREHOUSE look on; all
of them drinking beer and bourbon chasers from a bottle.
How's it going Red?
(using his nickname)
Shit, cocksucker's got all the cards tonight.
Looks like you're doing all right Sergeant.
Barnes, raking in the chips, is the big winner, a light bead of
sweat on his forehead and a somewhat glassy look to the eye the
only indication he is drunk - his shirt peeled off revealing a
muscular, scarred body.
Yeah, and I ain't even cheating yet.
(the big blond kid)
Have some Kentucky windage Lieutenant.
(passes him the bottle of bourbon)
Wolfe takes a nip.
Nah, I wouldn't want to get raped by you guys ...
What are you saving up to be Lieutenant - Jewish?
Laughes. Wolfe forces a smile, glad to move on. There is a
continual worried rodent air about him, an anxiety, a desire to
fill the vacuum in his leadership with a false masculinity.
Catch you men later. Enjoy yourselves.
As he goes, O'Neill shakes his head after him.
Sorry ass motherfucker ain't he. You think he gonna
make it Barnes?
Barnes plays a card, glances, a minute movement of his head.
Yeah that's what I figger. Some dudes you jes' look
in their faces and you KNOW they just ain't gonna
Barnes looks - with some irony - at O'Neill. The Country Western
tune has reached a crescendo whine which now mixes into:
INT. UNDERWORLD HUTCH - NIGHT
Francis, the baby-faced black, and Manny, green shades covering
his skinny face, lead with a high blues falsetto.
FRANCIS AND MANNY
'People say I'm the life of the party cause I tell a
joke or two Although I may be laughing loud and
hardy Deep inside I'm blue ...
The Hutch looks now like a Turkish bath with minimum visibility,
the smoke fumes dense. They are all up dancing on their feet -
King, Tubbs, Big Harold, Hoyt, Lerner, Crawford, Flash, Doc,
Elias - a few light gestures with their hands above shoulder
level, passing around the grass pipes while they shuffle, fingers
clicking. The song - Smokey Robinson's "Tracks of My Tears" -
accompanies them from a vintage tapedeck.
'... Since you've left me, if you've seen me with
another girl seeming like I'm having fun although she
may be cute she's just a substitute because you're
the permanent one ...'
King and Big Harold wave Chris into the Circle and he starts
swaying with them, feeling as if he's being accepted into a new
Rhah watches it all, puffing away on his magic dragon pipe, the
shadows dancing on the walls.
It looks like a Saturday night dance party. A yearning for
tenderness, for feminity, for a moment of peace in this nightmare
life. Their eyes closed, thinking of dance partners that can't
be here tonight. Singing their souls out.
'... So take a good look at my face. You'll see the
smile looks out of place. Look a little bit closer.
It's easy to trace. The tracks of my tears...'
EXT. JUNGLE - NVA BUNKER COMPLEX - DAY
An overwhelming 103 degree heat. Chris is once more on point, a
little better now but obviously struggling with a thick
unyielding bamboo thicket that forces him forward in a caveman
crouch. Napalm jelly is hanging from the trees in great canopies
of spider webs, obliterating the sky.
New Year's Day, 1968. Just another day. Staying
alive. There's been a lot of movement neat the
Cambodian border, regiments of NVA moving across. A
lot of little firefights, ambushes, we drop a lot of
bombs, then we walk through the napalm like ghosts in
a landscape ...
Chris working his way over twisted, broken stumps, branches. On
the back of his flak jacket he's written, 'If I die bury me
upside down so the whole world can kiss my ass'.
The signal for silence. Chris freezes. Barnes edging up to him.
Doesn't see it. Following Barnes' imperceptible movement of his
The bunker, dug into the ground and camouflaged with brush, is
staring right at him, not more than 20 feet away. Chris is a
dead man if ...
Barnes, checking the terrain, signals radioman Hoyt.
Barnes edging up to the bunker, eyes everywhere. Chris
following. The tension builds. They come up to the edge of it,
peer in. Nothing.
Barnes walks around it, slips in from back. Chris covers him,
other guys coming up now, making a small perimeter.
Chris now starts to see things he didn't see. Right in front of
his nose - there is a trench from this bunker to another and
another. There is now in his view a complex of bunkers and
thatched hootches and lean-tos all blending into the forest. A
ghost city ...
Elias and others fanning out now, careful ... whispered
conversations in the wind.
Chris moves past a rope with freshly washed laundry stretching
between two trees, clothes stirring in the wind. He looks up as
King points out a treehouse, then looks down as Lerner whispers
something and points - NVA rucksacks are laid out on the ground
in an orderly platoon-sized pattern.
INT. NVA BUNKER - TUNNEL POSITION - DAY
Elias goes down into a dangerous-looking TUNNEL, on a rope with a
.45. Barnes watching him. We sense Elias loves the danger,
EXT. NVA BUNKER - COMPLEX - MAIN POSITION - DAY
Lt. Wolfe signals Manny and Chris out onto the two flanks.
INT. NVA TREEHOUSE - DAY
Rhah and King explore a treehouse. Rice stores. Rhah, an
experienced soldier, seems tense, moves cautiously, expecting
EXT. NVA BUNKER - WARREN'S POSITION - DAY
Sgt. Warren cautiously explores another bunker, probing a little
tunnel in the bottom of it with a stick. Bunny, having a small
frame, goes down into it, fearless.
EXT. NVA BUNKER - MANNY'S POSITION - DAY
Manny, the skinny black boy with the coloured beads, is out on
flank - alone, smoking a cigarette, humming.
EXT. NVA BUNKER - CHRIS' POSITION - DAY
On the other flank, Chris, also alone, waits, listening to the
sounds of the jungle. He too is smoking a cigarette. The
eeriness is everywhere. Rays of morning light peeking through
the cathedral dome of the jungle. Bird calls.
INT. NVA TUNNEL - DAY
Elias climbs deeper and deeper into the hole, a rope attached to
his waist leading out to the surface, his flashlight now coming
around on a shaftway demarcating a TUNNEL that seems to stretch
for at least 100 yards. The light revealing cobwebs all along
it, but tall enough for a small man.
EXT. CHRIS' POSITION - DAY
It's quiet, weird. Chris takes his pants down, squats. He
thinks he hears something, tenses.
There is a soft rustling sound now. And as he focuses on it he
realizes it is coming from very close to him. Something light
and sinuous moving over the leaves. He looks down.
A bright yellow and orange-ringed krait viper is crawling right
between his two legs. It stops, senses another life standing
Chris frozen with dread.
The snake crawls on, pulling its long, long 15 foot body behind
On Chris, eyes dilated, slowly regaining his breath looking
around everywhere now.
INT. NVA TUNNEL - DAY
Elias moving down the tunnel, fearless. We expect something any
moment to come out and nail him but nothing does. He stops. His
flashlight revealing a kitchen and an NVA hospital set up. A
hammock swings as if someone just deserted it. In another
hammock is a dead man. Elias advances cautiously.
EXT. NVA BUNKER - COMPLEX - SANDERSON POSITION - DAY
Spec 4 Sanderson, the big handsome blond kid, is moving through
an abandoned bunker. With him is Sal, a tough street kid with an
intense face, all whiskered. Sanderson noticing now a metal box
of 50-caliber ammo, U.S. marking, half-buried in the ground.
Hey look at that.
He opens the case. Official-looking documents are inside, they
glance through them, lighting cigarettes, the search over,
successful, they relax.
(a worried type)
Leave it willya - it's gook shit.
Nah this stuff's important.
He puts the documents back in the ammo case, lifts it. It's the
last thing he ever does.
EXT. NVA BUNKER - SANDERSON POSITION - DAY
The ensuing explosion shakes the ground, obliterating both boys,
brances, smoke and dust flying out.
EXT. NVA BUNKER - CHRIS POSITION - DAY
Out on flank, Chris hits the ground, hugs it.
EXT. NVA BUNKER - COMPLEX - SANDERSON POSTION - DAY
Barnes runs up. Black smoke sweeping through the trees. Sal
suddenly appears, stepping out of the smoke, stunned. The front
of his body is soaked in blood from a thousand shrapnel holes,
his clothes shredded, he stares at Barnes, dazed. Both his arms
are gone and blood is geysering out like a water fountain. He
crumbles - dead or dying.
He runs over to Sal, gets a hold of his face in a vicelike grip,
enraged, tries to yell some sense into him.
(directly to Sal)
Goddamit! Are you fucking kids ever gonna learn!
Don't you understand how easy it is to die!
The Doc running up - one look tells us all we need to know.
EXT. NVA BUNKER COMPLEX - MAIN POSITION - DAY
Lt. Wolfe, shaken, is on the radio with Cpt. Harris, words
garbled through the air, trying to describe a primal horror.
EXT. NVA BUNKER COMPLEX - SANDERSON POSITION - DAY
Barnes moving through the wreckage - sees severed limbs sticking
in a sandbag.
EXT. NVA BUNKER COMPLEX - MAIN POSITION - DAY
Rhah crouches over a piece of leg tied into a hipbone and a rib.
EXT. NVA BUNKER COMPLEX - DAY
Elias coming out of the tunnel, filthied.
EXT. NVA BUNKER - MAIN POSITION - DAY
Elias coming abreast of Wolfe.
Tell Six we need engineers here, this pos. is
crawling with traps.
They're on their way ...
(consulting his map)
There's a gook village half a klik downriver,
Battalion wants us to move in and search it ASAP,
something's going on ... where's Barnes?
INT. NVA BUNKER - SANDERSON POSITION - DAY
Barnes is still there in the wrecked bunker, squatting there
staring as if his mind has disconnected for a moment. He reaches
up, touches his scars. The look on his face suggests he is
deeply wronged by this tragedy, that he is taking it very
EXT. NVA BUNKER - MAIN POSITION - DAY
Chris watches him from outside the bunker, awed.
Barnes notices Chris watching him, takes a breath, stands.
You gonna sit there and play with yourself Taylor or
you gonna be part of my war ... Awright, saddle up,
let's go - Tubbs you got point.
The men moving into jungle formation, silently.
Chris walking over into line, stops for a moment - noticing a
freshly-severed eyeball partially buried in dirt, staring up at
him. He turns away, sickened.
EXT. NVA BUNKER COMPLEX - MAIN POSITION - DAY
Manny! ... Hey Buchanan.
There is no answer. The men in the platoon start to look at each
other, sensing more trouble.
Elias heads into the bush after him. Barnes watches him go.
Francis, his friend, and Tubbs and King follow.
Hey man whatcha doing ... where you at? Get your
black ass back in here!
EXT. NVA BUNKER COMPLEX - MANNY'S POSITION - DAY
Out on the flank position, where he once stood, Elias walks out,
looks. The jungle is silent once again. Francis, Tubbs, King
follow. The others - Barnes, Lt.Wolfe, Warren, Chris, Rhah ...
FRANCIS AND OTHERS
Manny? ... Manny?
Their voices trailing off. Bird cries come back.
Elias combing the ground for clues ... nothing.
Chris looking on, can't believe it, none of them can, a
collective chill running through the platoon.
EXT. JUNGLE - DAY
The Platoon moving downslope in the Jungle, their faces grim,
quiet, deadly. King is on point.
We had to get to the village before dark so we left
Elias with some men to keep looking and to wait for
the engineers ... But it was King who found him ...
about 1000 yards downriver, not far from the village
- It was the end of the mystery.
A moving shot approaching Manny. He's trussed with rope, arms
behind his back. Throat cut, eyes startled open, mouth shaped in
a scream of terror.
Barnes, the other men looking ... Chris. Barnes says it for
everyone, 'The motherfuckers ...'
EXT. VILLAGE - TRAIL - DAY
They come up out of the jungle onto the side of a CART TRAIL,
where a tiny village overlooks the river. The VILLAGE is poor, a
series of thatched hutches made of C-ration cardboard and
aluminum beer can sidings, faint whiffs of smoke coming from cook
fires. Pigs and dogs wander about.
An OLD VILLAGER watches them pass from his tillable plot, smoking
a cigarette, one leg wrapped around his hoe, resting, no
... the village, which had stood for maybe a thousand
years, didn't know we were coming that day. If they
had they would have run ... Barnes was at the eye of
our rage - and through him, our Captain Ahab - we
would set things right again. That day we loved him
A pig loiters along the trail, rooting.
Bunny coming up on it with a smile.
Hey pig, pig - come here, pig, pig.
The pig grunts. Bunny leveling his shotgun, fires point blank.
A horrible squeal.
Chris, directly behind him, looks disgusted.
EXT. VILLAGE - DAY
Tony suddenly points, excited, calls to Barnes.
There goes one!
Their POV - a young VILLAGER fleeing down the slope.
Barnes doesn't hesitate, nails him with a short volley of well-
Check him out.
He turns back into the village.
EXT. VILLAGE - DAY
Troops fanning out over the village, some TWO DOZEN VILLAGERS
scattering to collect their children, dogs barking.
SGTS.O'NEIL AND WARREN
Get em out! Get em out!
EXT. VILLAGE TUNNEL - DAY
In another part of the village, Barnes hovers over a hole leading
into some kind of tunnel.
Get out of there you fuckheads move! Move!
Fires a warning shot. Three VILLAGERS climbing out of the spider
hole, arms raised, but not showing any emotion. Barnes turning
to his radioman Hoyt and Big Harold accompanying.
Put'em in the pig pen.
There's more down there. Gimme your Willy Pete.
Hoyt, with reluctance in his eyes, hands over a specially shaped
Barnes stands over the hole, the grenade in hand.
The three VILLAGERS who just came out of the hole, yell from the
distance, to others still in the tunnel, pleading with them to
FIRE IN THE HOLE!
Barnes throws the phosphorus in. A muted EXPLOSION. Then
sizzling acidic fumes. Frying sounds. A hideous scream from
somewhere deep in the hole.
Hoyt, watching, is sickened. Barnes businesslike.
The Villagers, in grief, howl and tear at their faces.
(hustling up to Barnes)
Sarge, we found some shit!
Barnes going with him.
EXT. VILLAGE - OUTSIDE HUTCH - DAY
The sun is sittin there hot and high in the sky.
Chris, strangling in heat, a demented look on his face, staggers
into a hutch with Francis.
INT. HUTCH - VILLAGE - DAY
Threadbare, poor, a typical Buddhist shrine in the corner, motes
of light crisscross through the poor matting and c-ration sides.
Chris edges over, pries up a floorboard, flips it over, scared.
There's a tunnel inside. A long dark dangerous hole.
La Dai! La Dai! GET THE FUCK OUTTA THERE!
Hey take it easy man. They're scared.
They're scared? What about me! I'm sick of this
shit man, I"m sick of this shit! They don't want us
here! Who do you think they're fighting for! GET
Francis doesn't recognize him in his rage. Bunny now coming in,
followed by O'Neill, drawn by the shouting.
EXT. VILLAGE - WEAPONS CACHE - DAY
Barnes stares down at a WEAPONS CACHE buried cleverly underneath
the ruce urns. Ace, Fu Sheng, Sgt.Warren, Lt.Wolfe, others, are
digging it out. It's in white plastic wrappings - a load of AK-
47's, rockets, grenades, claymores, carbines, flares, NVA
uniforms. A real find.
... and over here there's enough rice to feed a whole
fuckin' regiment ...
Barnes walking with him over to an undercover rice silo being dug
out by Tubbs and Junior. Barnes looks it over.
... bring the honcho over here.
(to Tubb and Junior)
INT. HUTCH - VILLAGE - DAY
An Old Woman and her Son, a young man with one leg, throw up
their hands, climbing out of the hole with stupid confused looks
as Chris, shaking with his own sort of confusion and rage, cuffs
them, hustling them out. The Young Man uses a pair of crutches
for his blown-off limb, hobbling like a mangy three-legged dog.
Hey look at this! Ma and Pa Kettle here. Look at
them - greasy gook motherfuckers!
Get up out of there! ... You see I didn't wanna hurt
you. Why didn't you come out, when I said so hunh!
Why? WHY! WHY? DON'T YOU LISTEN ... WHAT ARE YOU
SMILING AT HUNH! FUCKING ASSHOLES!
The couple, hands raised, muttering things in Vietnamese, don't
understand a word, shaking their heads stupidly and smiling that
impassive Oriental smile which sends Chris into a rage only he
His finger closes on the trigger of his 16.
Francis, the baby-faced black, looks nervously, sensing the
danger ... Bunny amused, drawn in by Chris. O'Neill watches
passively from the lip of the hutch.
The Young Man continues to grin, not seeming to realize the
degree of danger he's in, which is what Chris wants - a token
sign of acquiescence. There is also the added element of showing
off his manhood in front of an audience now.
Do 'em man, do 'em.
Chris. The trigger. He pulls. But he can't quite bring himself
to kill. The bullets exploding in the dirt at the edges of the
young man's foot.
DANCE YOU ONE-LEGGED MOTHERFUCKER, DANCE!!!
The Young Man hops up and down in a reflex fear of the sounds of
the bullets as they thud into the dirt. Yet his eyes remain
fixed on Chris in wonderment.
Chris, firing out the magazine, seems to expend his bloodlust.
He ceases, noticing - for the first time - the eyes of the Young
Man. They aren't stupid - nor fearful - but filled with
resignation and despair - a despair that Chris, in disgust of
Chris lowers the rifle, silent.
The Young Man's impassive face shines now with tears. That sad
young look - as if death itself would've been a release. Chris
turns his eyes away, an awkward sense of shame.
Let's get out of here man.
But Bunny takes up the slack, moves forward on the young man.
You chickenshit man, they're laughing at you, look at
them faces. That's the way a gook laughs.
The Young Man nodding affable to Bunny and mumbling ingratiating
words in Vietnamese.
Yeah sure you are, you're real sorry ain't you.
You're just crying out your hearts about Sandy and
Sal and Manny - they're laughing at us! Their family
is out there in the fucking bush blowing us away and
they're laughing at us!
(checking out the hutch)
Forget it will ya, let's go ...
Chris standing there, watching, sensing something awful is going
to come and unable to do anything about it. It comes - suddenly
and without warning. Bunny is looking at O'Neill, the Vietnamese
couple are muttering something. In one fluid move, Bunny swivels
and with unbelievable savagery clubs the young one-legged man in
the side of the head with the butt of his 16.
Hey what are you doing!
The young man is groaning on the floor of the hutch. Bunny
smashes him - again and again.
That's for Sandy! And this is for Sal! And this is
for fucking Manny! This is for me!
Chris watches, horrified. Never in his life has he seen
something so horrifying as this. And yet he does nothing. He is
part of it.
(stepping back, examines what's left of the head, amazed)
Wow! You see his fucking head come apart? Look at
that ... I never seen brains like dat before. Jesus
fucking Christ ...
The Old Lady is shrieking, hovering over the body of her son.
Bunny studying her.
Betcha the old bitch runs the whole show. Probably
helped cut Manny's throat. Probably cut my balls off
if she could.
Come on, man, let's do her.
She cowers from him. Chris steps back, horrified. As is
O'Neill, more puzzled than horrified.
(hitting her again)
Let's zap all these motherfuckers! Let's do the
He backs out of the hutch, scared. Evidently Bunny is
temporarily insane. But he spots O'Neill, yells at him.
GET BACK HERE YOU FUCKING COWARD O'NEILL. THIS IS
FOR SANDY ... THIS IS FOR SANDY MAN! AND SAL! AND
As he clubs her to death.
On Chris' face, blood and brain tissue flying up into it.
EXT. CENTRAL AREA - VILLAGE - DAY
A tiny knot of men are ringed around Barnes who is questioning a
sturdy-looking man who is the VILLAGE CHIEF. He has been
stripped of his shirt, scars all over his body, scared. He has
his ID papers out, trembling, showing them to Lerner who speaks
some pidgen Vietnamese.
Where'd he get these wounds?
Lerner translates, the man talking back.
He says he was hit in a bombing raid.
He's a dink fosure.
Ask him what the weapons are doing here?
He says they had no choice. The NVA killed the old
honcho when he said no. He says the rice is theirs.
Bullshit ... who the hell was the dink we just nailed
on the riverbank?
Chris and O'Neill come up, watch. Others coming from different
places - sensing the narrowing drama. But half the platoon is
still at work in the village. We hear shouts, grenade
explosions, occasionally gunfire.
... He says he doesn't know, NVA haven't been around
in a couple of months. Maybe it was a scout or ...
The men around Barnes grumble.
Yeah sure it was. What about all that fucking rice
and the weapons ... who they for?
(looking at the Village Chief)
Cocksucker knows what I'm saying ... don't you Pop?
(a blank look)
You're goddamn right he does!
Lerner translating. The Village Chief's WIFE is now on the
scene, a middle-aged woman with angry features, yelling at Lerner
trying to answer for her husband, a high-pitched barrage of
indignant words directed mostly at Barnes, and interspersed with
the spitting of her betel nuts on the ground.
The Village Chief trying to talk her down. But things are
definitely getting out of control. And the heat from the sun is
only aggravating the situation, pounding down on the actors in
the drama, their fatigues soaked in sweat and anger.
He swears he doesn't know anything! He hates the NVA
but they come when they want and ...
He's lying through his teeth!
Waste the fucker, then see who talks.
What's the bitch saying?
She's going on, I don't know - why are we shooting
the pigs, they're farmers ... they got to make a
living, all that crap ...
The Woman is still ranting when Barnes turns to her, quite
casually levels his M-16, and puts a bullet in her head. She
goes down as if pole-axed.
A stunned pause. The Chief looking at his wife. The Villagers
in background reacting.
Wolfe looking ... Chris looking, shocked. Doc, possibly the
straightest of them all, very uncomfortable. They are all
shocked insome way, but do nothing against the power of Banres.
Barnes walks over to the pig pen with the other Villagers, very
casually, confronts them.
Tell him he talks or I'm gonna waste more of 'em.
Lerner shaken up, muttering to the Village Chief who is in shock,
kneeling next to the body of his wife, muttering in a high whine
Go ahead, Lerner, ask him.
A group of Villagers huddle to one side.
Lerner, shaken, is yelling at all of them, demanding an answer.
They don't know Sarge, they don't know!
(half believes it)
Barnes turns his attention on the other villagers, his intentions
apparent. Everybody feels them. They're next. Barnes is
unperturbed, very much in command of the situation, no rage, no
Chris has never seen such a thing in his life - but can't react.
Can't stop it, just watches it like he's not quite there.
The same goes for Lieutenant Wolfe, for all of them. The very
outrageousness of Barns' killing seems to quell all protest.
(sensing the impending massacre)
Hey Sarge can we get in on this.
Tony advances, the hairy Italian kid from Boston.
Let's go all the way, let's go for it! Let's do the
whole fucking village. Come on, Sarge.
Chris' eyes ... Rodriguez next to him, is neutral but willing.
Francis is hesitant.
Fu Sheng and Junior are ready to go for it. Lt.Wolfe is
Sgt.Warren stepping up. The massacre is just about to break.
The Villagers know it, kneel in prayer, mutter.
Barnes suddenly grabs and drags a young 19 year-old Woman, the
Village Chief's daughter, across the pen, throws her down on her
knees, in front of the stunned Village Chief. She's screaming.
This his daughter, right?
Lerner nods. Barnes pulls his .45, puts it alongside her head.
(to Village Chief)
You lie ... You Vee Cee ... I caca ado Vee Cee!
He chambers the .45, the Woman begging Barnes for her life,
cradling his knees. He sticks the gun down above her skull.
Chris wanting to cry out, to do something - but can't!
A FIGURE suddenly flares out in the sun, advancing on them. It
Barnes looks around. They all look around.
Elias walks right up to him, followed by his men - King, Rhah,
Crawford, others from the rear party. He looks around. The
corpse of the Wife ... the Young Daughter sobbing.
WHAT THE FUCK YOU DOING!
Stay out of this Elias. This ain't your show.
YOU AIN'T A FIRING SQUAD, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!
The stock of his rifle swings up fast and hard smacking Barnes
full in the face, breaking two teeth.
Barnes staggers back, hurt, bleeding. Elias is on him like a
leopard. Battering him with his fists.
They struggle in the dust, two titans, their faces equally
consumed with rage, clawing, spitting, punching, kicking,
pounding each other's skulls in the dirt. A dust storm swirls
around them, the men closing around like excited apes at a
Most of the men seem to be pulling for Barnes - Chris just
BREAK IT UP! ELIAS! BARNES!
But they rool on, smashing each other's faces in. Both quick,
fast, agile, mean fighters. Sgts.O'Neill and Warren drag them
You're dead, you're fucking dead Elias!
YOU - you're going to fuckin' jail, buddy, you ain't
getting away with this one!!!!!
All right! All right! All right!!! NOW BREAK IT
UP. LET'S GO ...
They compose themselves, the Villagers looking on, grieving over
Alright, Six says torch this place! Blow the weapons
in place. Round up all suspected Vee Cees and shake
it up! We ain't got much light left.
Why the fuck didn't you do something Lieutenant!
What are you talking about!
(turns away, goes about his business)
(spins him around)
You know what I'm talking about!
No I don't. I don't know what the fuck you're
talking about, Elias!
Who wants to be reminded? A silence of shame. The Men moving
away, Warren, Ace, Tony, Rodriguez, Barnes looking back once, a
The Village Chief is a broken-looking man, huddled over his
Elias stands there, frustrated.
Chris glances at him, moves out.
EXT. SMALL VILLAGE - DAY
A zippo cigarette lighter with the engraved initials: 'From Mai
lin to my Bunny Boy'. It sparks a thick flare as Bunny lights
the dry straw on the roof of the Hutch where he killed the Old
Woman and Young Boy.
Their legs sticking out at the threshold. The hooch burning
fast, aided by the strong sun.
Bunny watches with awe.
EXT. SMALL VILLAGE - DAY
Sgt.Warren and Rodriguez lighting another hooch on fire.
EXT. VILLAGE RICE STORE - DAY
Fu Sheng yelling 'FIRE IN THE HOLE!' throws white phosphorus into
the rice stores.
EXT. VILLAGE - WEAPONS CACHE - DAY
Barnes and Huffmeister, a big German kid from Texas, are laying
the cord to blow the weapons cache.
EXT. SMALL VILLAGE - WELL - DAY
Adams and Parker are poisoning the well with a white phosphorus
grenade: 'FIRE IN THE HOLE!'
EXT. SMALL VILLAGE - DAY
Wolfe, Ace, Tubbs, Warren, Rogriguez rope the DOZEN SUSPECTED
VILLAGERS together to take them back for questioning.
Elias watches the Villagers mourn their losses. In the
background, explosions, hooches popping with flames, the yells of
the violations of the Village winding down.
EXT. SMALL VILLAGE - DAY
Chris wanders through this wreckage in the sun, like a dazed
visitor from another planet, not believing it. He sees
something, goes towards it - knows what it is.
EXT. VILLAGE - EDGE OF WOODLINE - DAY
Hidden at the edge of the woodline, King hands back a bowl of
grass to Rhah, the chief head. They're puffing away.
Whew! - where that come from?
Found it. Growing in a garden.
Sheeit, beats burning hutches anyway ...
They meditatively look out at the Village - burning hutches
sending up spirals of smoke. Shouts. Shots. Chaos.
Yeah - stoned's the way to be ...
EXT. VILLAGE - DITCH - DAY
In a ditch running alongside the Village, partially concealed by
foliage and anthills, Tony, Morehouse, and the ubiquitous Bunny
have a 12-YEAR-OLD VIETNAMESE GIRL pinned to the ground, gagged
and squirming, naked. They are fucking her to death. Junior
looks on, both curious and disgusted, but doesn't take part.
Take her up the ass ...
As they roll her over, like excited dogs in heat.
Chris, coming up, sees their heads dipping up and down on the
other side of the anthill, knows what they're doing. He makes a
conscious decision to do something. He runs over.
LET HER GO! YOU HEAR ME! YOU ASSHOLE! LET HER GO!
He strides right into them, shoves them off hard. The girl is in
What the fuck you want - she's a dink.
NO - YOU STUPID FUCK ... DON'T ... DON'T ... YOU TOO
BUNNY. MOREHOUSE. OFF! NO! DON'T ... DON'T!
He seems disconnected, dazed by the sun, like he's talking to
dogs - loud, repetitive words coming out of an anger he can
barely control, trying to restore some sanity to a world gone
totally nuts today. Don't they understand? Don'tthey have any
sense of a mind? Any kind of decency?
The Men looking at him as if he's the one who's gone nuts, not
them. Bunny looking at Morehouse looking at Tony looking at
Junior. The irony is lost on them, as Chris pushes through to
help the poor girl put her scanty clothes back on.
(to the girl)
It's okay ... it's okay ...
Elias appears behind Bunny and the others, sees what's happened.
He signals them to move out.
Get outta here.
The men grumble and slink off quietly. Elias watching as...
Chris helps her to her feet, wounded in the intestines, she can
barely stand, blood saoking in her nether regions. Chris slings
her up as gently as he can and carries her.
(as if to himself)
It's okay, it's okay ...
EXT. VILLAGE - PIG PEN - DAY
Near the pig pen, a DOZEN SUSPECTS are being led away on ropes by
Tubbs, Warren, Rodriguez. The others left behind look back at
their village in ruins, homes burning, livestock dead or
scattered, belongings thrown and broken in the dirt. BABIES
wail, the adults squat there on their heels watching with
absolutely no trace of outward emotion.
Past this Bosch-like canvas, Chris - carrying the girl - walks
dazed by the horrors of this long afternoon.
EXT. VILLAGE TRAIL - DAY
The soldiers depart the village. A huge EXPLOSION now rocks the
earth and sends a spray of smoke into the blue sky as the weapons
cache explodes in stages that sound like the end of the world.
EXT. PERIMETER #2 - JUNGLE - LATE AFTERNOON DUSK
The Company is digging into another overnight perimeter on a
ridge with a view of the Valley where the Village was. C-Ration
fires all around the perimeter.
EXT. COMPANY CP - DUSK -- MORNING
At the Company,l Elias, Captain Harris, Barnes, Lt.Wolfe are
huddled. Close on Harris, looking from face to face, assuming a
... and you Lieutenant?
I didn't see anything sir.
That dink was reported to me as NVA sir by Sergeant
Barnes. Sergeant Barnes.
Squirreling out of any responsibility.
My report sir, will include Lt.Wolfe as being witness
to the shooting ...
All right, Elias. Sergeant Barnes, I want a report
from you ...
You got it sir - and I can throw in plenty of eye-
witnesses if you want sir ...
Not now. We'll get into this when we get back to
base camp. Right now I need every man in the field,
I want your guys to stick together ... Elias?
Barnes? ... You hear me? This is no time for
fighting with each other.
(pause, they nod)
Tomorrow we're going back into that bunker complex -
from the East.
First Platoon will lead ... Brigade thinks they might
be back there tomorrow. That's all ... Get some
Barnes, Elias eye each other and move off.
EXT. PERIMETER #2 - DUSK
Wolfe walks alongside Barnes.
Don't worry about it Sergeant, he won't be able to
prove a thing, he's a troublemaker but ...
Barnes is obviously worried, although he doesn't let on.
Elias' a waterwalker ... like them politicians in
Washington. Want to fight their war with one hand
tied round their balls. Ain't no time or need for a
courtroom out here ...
Wolfe leaves him as Barnes turns into his foxhole where Bunny and
O'Neill await him anxiously.
How'd it go.
Thataway Sarge, fuckin' Elias man, fuckin' squeal
that's what he is, gonna get everybody in the platoon
in shit. Somebody oughta fix his ass ...
Barnes fixing his coffee.
Gonna be an investigation or something Bob?
Barnes says nothing, a cryptic look.
O'Neill worried, Bunny, taking his cue from Barnes, slaps him on
Ya worry too much O'Neill ...
EXT. PERIMETER #2 - CHRIS' POSITION - DUSK
Elsewhere on the perimeter, Chris is digging out a foxhole with
Rhah, as King and Lerner prepare the C's for dinner.
I know Barnes six months and I'll tell ya something -
that man is MEAN, red in his soul like a dick on a
Barnes gets killed, his jaws'd go on clacking ...
Where's he form?
Barnes comes from Hell.
Tennessee someplace. Hill country.
Barnes took a bullet right there. At Ia Drang Valley
(points to his forehead)
And the cocksucker SURVIVED - that's BAAAD man.
That's his high, baby. High on WAR!
His eyes flare out dramamtically. Chris, enthralled in spite of
He done a year in Japan in the hospital, then when he
gets out, the first thing he done is re-up. Four
years he been in the field ...
... and you know how many times he done been shot?
(Chris shakes his head)
(with his fingers)
And he still wanted to come back?
Does a pee wee wanna take a wee wee?
The Good Lord works his revenge in strange ways.
Yeah, you done said it. Revenge on US.
Does he have a metal plate in his head?
You mean he's crazy? No more crazy'n the rest of us
been out in the bush too long.
Well he ain't normal that's fosure.
That's what he is ... Baaaa!
His hand flashes forward in front of Chris. 'HATE' is written
across the left hand knuckles in a sloppy, purplish-black tatoo.
Chris looking at it.
... and he's FILLED with it. He's roaming these
jungles looking for little yellow devils to kill.
Remember the Devil does God's work too.
... and this here's Elias ... Baaaa!
The other knuckle is out - 'LOVE' tattooed across it. Rhah
smiles his crazy smil. Chris stares fascinated at the two
knuckles side by side. A moment on his face.
(makes a cuckoo sign)
Here we go again with the crazy preacher stuff. Rhah
seen too many movies.
Baaa, got no time to go to the movies. Love and Hate
too busy fighting for possession of my soul.
Where's Elias come from?
'Lias come naturally.
... don't know. Done some time. Heard he worked the
oil wells in Oklahoma, made some bread and washed up
in El Lay.
Yeah, get married to some crazy El Lay bitch, an
actress or somethin', she blew all his bread - LSD,
gurus, all that California shit, and then she turns
him into the cops on a drug rap.
Not the only man to meet his Jezebel either.
So he got a reduced and come over here. Nam's his
freedom man, Nam's his pussy. Three years he been
Three years, Jesus, he's crazy as Barnes ...
Well sometimes a man jes don' wanna go back. How you
gonna talk to civilians man? People back in the
world just don't give a shit, y'know what I mean, to
them you're a fuckin' animal is all -
I was home on leave y'know and everybody's just
worried 'bout making money, everybody's out for
themselves, they don't even want to talk about it
man, it's like the fucking Twilight Zone back there -
you wouldn't even KNOW there's a war on here. My
sister says to me why you have to go there like I
started this ...
Baaaa! Fuck it, they sold us out - so what! What'd
you'all expect? Civilian life is phoney BULLSHIT
man. They're ROBOTS man - watchin' dopey television
and drivin' dopey cars, and they fuck up, nobody
dies. That's all right, you keep fuckin' up,
politicians keep lyin'. Cause it don't really
matter. Don't mean shit. So what! Whatcha want - a
parade! Fuck that too! No war time no grunt never
got no respect. Till he was dead - and even THEN!
You're fighting for YOURSELF man! You're fighting
for your SOUL, dat's all. Remember dat. And it's
some goddamn battle too - if you'se a man, wrestle
with that angel ...
(swings his entrenching tool in a rhythmic chain-gang style)
... Love and Hate - the whole shitbang show, that's
the story then and now and it ain't hardly gonna
EXT. PERIMETER #2 - JUNGLE - NIGHT
The stars are out in magnificent splendor. A breeze rustling
through the trees.
EXT. PERIMETER #2 - CHRIS' POSITION - NIGHT
Chris is turning in his sleep, perturbed, writhing. The
whispering is more and more urgent. Death is all around. He
shoots up out of his poncho liner as if shot, stunned. Scared.
Looks around. All is quiet. Men sleeping.
Elias is huddled in his poncho on guard next to his foxhole.
Chris joins him, sitting, wiping the sleep from his eyes.
... I can't sleep, why don't you get some sack time.
... don't feel like it either.
... beautiful night.
Yeah. I love this place at night. The stars ...
there's no right or wrong in them, they're just
That's a nice way of putting it.
Elias cuffs a joint, keeping its glow hidden in the dark. A
pause, both of them meditative.
Barnes got it in for you, don't he?
Barnes believes in what he's doing.
And you, do you believe?
In '65 - yeah. Now ...
No. What happened today's just the beginning. We're
gonna lose this war ...
You really think so ... us?
Elias' eyes seem to go to some inner place, his passion surging.
... we been kicking other people's asses so long I
guess it's time we got our own kicked. The only
decent thing I can see coming out of here are the
survivors - hundreds of thousands of guys like you
Taylor going back to every little town in the country
knowing something about what it's like to take a life
and what that can do to a person's soul - twist it
like Barnes and Bunny and make 'em sick inside and if
you got any brains you gonna fight it the rest of
your life cause it's cheap, killing is cheap, the
cheapest thing I know and when some drunk like
O'Neill starts glorifying it, you're gonna puke all
over him and when the politicians start selling you a
used war all over again, you and your generation
gonna say go fuck yourself 'cause you know, you've
seen it, and when you know it, deep down there ...
He plants his fist in Chris' gut, expelling his breath such is
the force of the blow - like a power passed between them.
... you know it till you die ... that's why the
survivors remember. 'Cause the dead don't let em
His eyes blazing, reliving the deaths in the village, licking the
wounds for the platoon, mourning the failure of its heroism.
Chris looking at him, a little awed by his intensity. Elias
looks away, embarrassed that he has sermonized, looks back at the
Oh shit! Sometimes there's things in my head ...
man. Grass does that to me, fucks me all up like a
crazy Indian ...
Do you believe that stuff about ... knowing you're
Yeah, those are the guys that live. I really don't
think Death gives a shit, it's like a giant garbage
can, I think it takes whatever it can get ... you
never know where it's gonna come from anyway ... so
why spin your wheels?
He shrugs, a certain bravado masking his own uncertainty.
... You ever think about reincarnation, all that
A lightning quick movement follows. Elias' hand passing over his
face like a mime, a click of the fingers and he leans closer to
Chris. A new expression on his face. Devil's eyes, mocking
child, danger in his soul, excitement, sex - the Elias that Chris
saw in the smoking session in base camp. Chris smiles, sucked
in, almost laughs and then the face is gone again.
Sure, goes on all the time. Maybe a piece of me's in
you now, who knows. But when you die - really die -
that's a big return ticket.
I like to think I'm gonna come back as ... as wind or
fire - or a deer
(likes the image)
... yeah, a deer ...
He smiles at the thought. Chris looks at him, looks away. A
shooting star falls suddenly and dryly through the cosmos. Their
EXT. JUNGLE - STREAM - DAY (RAIN)
The Platoon moves along a shallow STREAM bordering the jungle. A
thick RAIN falls amid cracks of distant thunder. Chris, Rhah,
Francis, Big Harold, others are at the rear of the platoon, their
ponchos pulled over them like big sad grey tents. There's a
holdup ahead and the Men rest on rocks or stand. The rain makes
a pointilistic pattern, the men collages of grey, their rifles
slung upside down to keep dry.
Barnes is up ahead, out of the stream bank, on the radio.
EXT. JUNGLE CHURCH - DAY (RAIN)
Lerner's on point, resting in the shadow of a decaying old French
Catholic Church from the 19th Century. The jungle has long ago
won the battle, vines creeping into the cracks, remnants of
arches layered around the church at the epicenter. Behind Lerner
is Sgt.Warren and his radioman.
EXT. JUNGLE CLEARING - DAY (RAIN)
Elias, further back, is checking out the jungle alongside the
clearing, noticing a number of old spider holes long since
abandoned. He goes over and checks them.
EXT. JUNGLE - STREAM - DAY (RAIN)
Back at the stream, Rhah, looking old and whiskered under his
poncho hood, lights up a roach, puffs it. Another crack of
thunder. Chris comes over, sits with him on his rock. Rhah
passes him the joint. He smokes.
Big Harold pulls a leech out of his open crotch area.
Shit, lookit this little fucker trying to get up ma
Hey Big Harold, put dat in your turkey loaf it won't
come out your back end.
Yeah, big boy, thought you had that laundry gig all
Shit, got to paint myself white get one of dem jobs.
Get ma request in for a circumcision.
Gonna be a rabbi man?
Gonna cut your pecker down to size hunh Big Harold?
Dat's okay wid me, better to have a small one den no
one at all.
Your girlfriends gonna look for new lovers, man.
Best thing a bro's got's his flap.
I'll drink to your flap in Chicago, King. All I
gotta do is stretch it out to 15 days and I'll be
short 15 and the Beast just wouldn't dare send me
back to the bush.
You gonna get some for me back in the World, Harold?
Whatcha gonna do?
(dreaming of it)
The world's gonna be ma oyster man. First's I gonna
EAT - all the hamburger and french fries and steaks
soaked in onions and ketchup I can get. Then I'se
gonna FUCK and SUCK Sandy Bell till I sore all over
and can't fuck no more, and den I'se gonna SLEEP for
DAYS, for WEEKS! Den I'se gonna think bout what
comes next ...
The words carry over Chris staring out at the rain, feeling a
leaden fatigued high. Passes the roach, down to a millimeter,
back to Rhah who points to his face.
... you got one right there.
Chris feels for, finds the leech on the edge of his lip, cursing
under his breath.
(in the stream, on radio)
All right move out.
The men start slogging on against the rain.
Junior is drinking from the stream, as Fu Sheng passes.
Don't drink that asshole. You're gonna get malaria.
Shit I hope so!
EXT. JUNGLE - CHURCH - DAY (RAIN)
On point, Lerner moves out through a remnant of an old arch,
somewhat casual in his approach to point.
Hey Sarge, you wanna tell me which way or do I get to
figger it out?
Sgt.Warren, picking up a quick azimuth on his lensatic compass,
points. Lerner moves in the new direction.
EXT. JUNGLE - DAY (RAIN)
Lerner moves away from the clearing, working up a slight incline
when the MACHINE GUN FIRE erupts out of the jungle, spinning him
- throwing him into the dirt like discarded garbage.
The men are down, yelling.
Ambush! Incoming! Fucking incoming!
Suddenly an RPG rocket breaks out of the bush, sounding like an
atom bomb as it devastates the front of the Platoon. Radio Talk
is continuous now, back and forth between the three platoon
radios, through the ambush.
DOC, UP HERE! Lerner's hit! ...
More machine gun fire.
DOC! Over here - we got ... one ... two down.
EXT. JUNGLE - CHURCH - DAY (RAIN)
Chris moving up with Rhah and the others out of the stream, they
hit the ground next to Sgt.O'Neill, who looks pretty scared,
obviously not about to move.
What's going on?
Shit they got RPG's on our ass. Fucking ambush -
they was waiting for us to break trail!
WATCH OUT! ROCKET!
Another rocket whistling in. A huge roar. Trees shredded, dirt,
Who's on point?
Lerner and Warren.
Chris uses his M-16 to lever himself up into a crouch and
suddenly dashes forward, passing Rhah.
Where you goin' man!
Chris tearing up. Past Flash - the hip black head with the
colored beads. He's dead, torn and shredded, his face and eyes
stuff with dirt. Next to him Doc is frantically tourniqueting
Tubbs, shot in the legs. He's screaming.
Chris keeps moving to the front as if compelled.
EXT. JUNGLE - BARNES' POSITION - DAY (RAIN)
Barnes is laying out fire.
Goddamit, you assholes get fucking' firepower out
(to Hoyt on radio)
Get Two Bravo up here. Get me a gun.
Spread it out! More to the flanks! Look for a
EXT. JUNGLE - FORWARD POINT - DAY (RAIN)
Chris comes alongside Francis near the point, throws himself
down. Banging his head against his helmet as he falls. The
incoming rounds are tearing up the front of the platoon.
Out there man - behind the log.
Looking. A body - moaning, sort of moving, wriggling, as if
trying to escape the pain.
His eyes moving to Sgt.Warren lying alongside a tree - calmly
trying to stack his intestines back into his ruptured stomach.
Another RPG comes in.
Chris makes a conscious decision, moves up - bit by bit,
shielding himself with tree stumps, ant hills, laying out fire,
trying to get closer to Lerner.
Francis following his progress, bug-eyed.
Fu Sheng now comes up with his M-60 - Harold his loader, belts of
ammo flapping against their bodies. He fires from the hip,
providing cover fire for Chris, then pops down.
EXT. FORWARD POINT - JUNGLE - DAY (DRIZZLING RAIN)
Chris, firing out another magazine, crawls closer to Lerner,
trying to ascertain if he's still alive.
Lerner! Lerner, can you hear me man?
Lerner groans. A fresh burst of AK fire rakes the area. Lerner
jerks spasmodically with the impact of the rounds.
Chris spots the sniper. In a hole in the ground. Twenty-five
meters off. Snapping the magazine out of his AK to reload. A
Chris tears off a volley at him but the gook disappears in the
hole. This is the moement, Chris realizes it, it's now or never
if Chris intends to get the gook. He's got to make a move before
the man has reloaded his weapon.
He pulls his grenade, pops the pin. He lets the spoon fly off,
activating the grenade-timer, as he humps to his feet and runs
for the gook hole, concentrating, concentrating. That head is
going to pop up any second with a freshly-loaded weapon and tear
his head off.
Chris won't make it back to the hole. The throw has to be
perfect. He won't get another chance. He heaves the frag, drops
and rolls away. The throw is perfect, the golden arc of flight
from the outfield nailing the baserunner. It twists cleanly in
the hole. The explosion muffled but deadly.
Chris scrambles to his feet, a look of almost total surprise on
his face. He can't seem to believe he did it. Pointing his M-16
before him, he advances on the hole, looking over the muzzle to
see the badly-mangled NVA man twisted at the bottom.
Chris hurries over to Lerner. He's in bad shape, hit in several
places, vaguely conscious.
I'm gonna get you out man. You're gonna be okay
Gator ... okay?
Fu Sheng laying out fire to protect them, Harold splitting off to
get more ammo.
Chris getting Lerner to his feet, hauling him back with all his
strength, past Francis ...
EXT. JUNGLE - WOLFE'S POSITION - DAY (RAIN)
Lt.Wolfe seems disorientated, struggling with the rain water
washing off his map, trying to read the coordinates for an arty
(into the radio)
Redleg, Redleg ... Ripper Bravo Two Actual. Fire
mission. Grid six-four-niner ... four-zero-two.
Direction six-one-zero-zero. Dinks dug in bunkers.
Danger close. Adjust fire, over ...
Rog, Two Bravo. Solid copy, stand by for shot, out.
Sir, Bravo Three is inbound from the Sierra Whiskey.
Should be here in two zero mikes if'n they don' hit
Elias runs up to him. Fire all around, incoming and outgoing,
makes them yell to each other.
Lootenant, they're kickin our ass, they know we're
gonna bring heavy shit on 'em pretty soon so they're
gonna get in tight under the arty. I spotted a cut
running around to the left. Lemme take some men and
roll up that flank ..
I can work right up on 'em ...
Wolfe unsure, looks up for the artillery.
Get me Barnes ... I don't know 'Lias, we got four
down up there, if I split you off, we ...
Elias grabs a stick, urgent, starts drawing their position in the
dirt for Wolfe.
Look, Lootenant ...
Wolfe looks up, relieved as Barnes splashes into the CP group.
(yelling at Wolfe and Ace)
Where the fuck is red platoon! Tell 'em to get their
asses up here! What the fuck you doin' back here
Elias? Round up your assholes and move 'em up front,
we're getting chopped to shit.
Barnes, listen to me ... there's 5-6 spiderholes back
next to the church.
(draws it into the ground as he talks)
Third Platoon's coming up the stream to reinforce us.
Flank's wide open, dinks get 3-4 snipers in these
holes, when Third Platoon comes up, they'll get us in
a crossfire with 'em. We'll shoot each other to
shit, then they'll hit us with everything they got.
It'll be a massacre!
Barnes looking at the drawing.
Sounds pretty far out to me 'Lias.
Maybe but I seen it happen at Ia Drang in '66, First
Cavalry and they cut us to fuckin' pieces!
(back to Barnes)
Give me three men, if I'm wrong, I can still roll up
Take off, but keep your radio here.
Elias goes, stops, looks at Barnes ...
... You keep pouring out that suppressing fire,
Barnes. I don't wanna be caught out there with my
ass hanging out you hear me?
Don't tell me how to fight this fucking war, 'Lias,
you go crying to fucking brigade on your time. Out
here you belong to me. Now move.
A look. Elias goes fast. More thunder peals. As the 155mm
howitzers - sounding like deep tom-toms some three miles distant
- beat out their shells. An ominous sound. Closer.
Sir! Shot out. Arty's on the way!
(hurrying back to the front)
Get that asshole O'Neill up here willya!
EXT. JUNGLE - FU SHENG'S POSITION - DAY
Fu Sheng is laying out fire when he senses something, looks up.
The artillery shell sounds too close. Getting bigger and bigger
on the horizon. Too big, too loud. A groan of fear on his face,
then knowledge. Then ... a huge EXPLOSION engulfs him.
EXT. JUNGLE - HAROLD'S POSITION - DAY (RAIN)
Short round! It's short, man! They fuckin' got Fu
Sheng! BARNES! OVER HERE!
EXT. JUNGLE - DAY (RAIN)
Barnes hearing it, starts forward. Another huge shell starting
to whistle in on them.
That fuckin' idiot!
It explodes. This is about three times the intensity of the RPG.
The jungle floor shakes, trees splinter. Barnes is knocked to
his knees, rimaces in pain. Hoyt, Barnes' radio operator,
screams out as a fist-sized chunk of hot shrapnel sticks in his
back. He's screeching, frantically trying to shuck the radio
from his back, his fatigue shirt smoking.
Barnes jerks the radio off Hoyt's back, knocks the man to his
knees and unsheathes his bayonet. Ripping off the back of his
shirt, Barnes sets to digging out the shrapnel.
EXT. MOREHOUSE'S POSITION - DAY (RAIN)
Morehouse is decimated by a third explosion, chunks of shrapnel
whirring like battleaxes into the tree trunks.
EXT. JUNGLE - HAROLD'S POSITION - DAY (RAIN)
Big Harold is tearing blindly away from the front, helmet gone,
rifle dragging in the mud when he stumbles, sprawling face down.
He jumps up, looks back, sees now the wire over which he tripped.
It takes a second to register. He shares a look with Bunny who's
already on the ground.
Satchel charge! GET DOWN!
Harold goes for the ground the same instant the satchel explodes.
EXT. JUNGLE - CHURCH - DAY (RAIN)
Chris, further back, dumps Lerner with Doc who's got more than he
Take care of him Doc! Please!
Doc looking at him, a dark look of hopelessness. Lerner is a
mess, groaning, reaching for Chris' hand.
... don't ... don't leave me man ...
A look between them. Rhah instersecting.
Taylor - get your ass over here. Move!
Hang tough, Gator. Hang in there, man, you're gonna
be OK ... just hang on.
Feeling like a liar, peeling the man's hands off him, leaving him
there looking numb. Chris is shaken, Lerner's blood all over
He tears out after Rhah, linking up with Elias and Crawford.
Elias motioning them to hurry. Another huge artillery round
exploding out to the front.
EXT. JUNGLE - O'NEILL'S POSITION - DAY (RAIN)
Sgt.O'Neill, scared out of his mind, hugging the earth, tries to
crawl into a small cut in the ground but finds it occupied by a
EXT. JUNGLE - WOLFE'S POSITION - DAY (RAIN)
Barnes rushes up out of the forest like Achilles, towering in his
rage, at Lieutenant Wolfe, ripping his handset from him as the
Lieutenant reads off the coordinates off his map.
YOU IGNORANT ASSHOLE! - What the fuck coordinates you
giving! You killed a bunch of people with that
fucked up fire mission! You know that? ... ah shit!
Wolfe stares at him, open-mouthed. Disgusted, Barnes hunkers
down to read the coordinates from his own map into the handset.
Redleg Romeo .. Ripper Bravo Two. Check your fire,
check fire, you're short on our pos! I say again,
check your fuckin' fire! ... From Registration point,
add one five zero, left five zero, fire for effect!
New incoming fire drowns out Barnes.
EXT. JUNGLE - ELIAS' POSITION - DAY
Elias - a defiant look on his face - moves fast but cautiously
back across the Church landmarks. Chris following then Rhah and
Crawford. The RAIN has now settled into a mist hugging the
Move it! Move it!
Elias comes to a stop, looks. Behind them we hear the sounds of
battle, gauging their distance from the main body.
The spider holes are still empty. But he listens, senses
something out there getting closer.
They're coming ...
Chris looking at Rhah. How does he know?
Elias points out an imaginary line across the breaking mist.
Stagger yourselves across this line, shoot anything
that moves. They'll be coming from here.
One of them gets through it's curtains.
Where you going?
Down along the river 'bout 100 metres, 'case they try
to flank us there. Third Platoon's coming up on our
rear so watch for 'em.
I'll go with you.
No ... I move faster alone.
Elias, his pack stripped, is gone, like a fleet leaf, vanishing
into the Jungle.
(stringing them out)
Okay Crawford - over here. Taylor - down twenty
yards behind that tree.
EXT. JUNGLE - WOLFE'S POSITION - DAY (MIST)
Barnes has finished correcting the fire mission, hurls the
handset back at Wolfe, a wild look in his eyes, studying the
incoming fire. Makes a decision.
Let's move back, link up with Three. Let the arty do
a little work.
(to Ace on radio, ignoring Wolfe)
Push Two Alpha and Two Charlie. Tell'em to haul ass
and re-group at the church. Tell'em NOT to fire.
What about Elias? We pull back they'll be cut off.
He needs cover fire.
(looks at him like he's stupid)
I'll get him.
(with a threatening undertone)
You just haul ass too lootenant.
(going, to Ace)
... don't send Bravo Three up till I get back to the
CP. Now move out, all of you.
As he snaps his weapon onto full auto and runs off after Elias in
a crouch ... a man with a mission.
EXT. JUNGLE - RHAH AND CHRIS' POSITION - DAY
Next to the Church deployed in the jungle, Rhah looks on, silent.
Chris in his position, waits. It is so silent in comparison to
the racket from the battle across the forest. The Mist clings to
the trees, moist and lovely. Then, a flicker of movement, sound.
Chris hears it, tightens. His POV - at fifty yards. An
evanescence of beige and green uniforms moving towards him very
fast, scurrying. They look like headless ghosts.
Chris opens fire.
Rhah and Crawford open up. A rachet of sound, one of the fiures
seems to go down, then another but at this distance through
jungle it is difficult to say. The firing just as suddenly
breaks off and the silence returns.
Yeah! I got two of them fuckers ...
I got one ...
... See them go down? Like fuckin' target practice
man, fuck you Charlie!! Ho Chi Minh sucks dead dick!
(sees him, stunned)
Crawford, the blond-locked California beach boy, lies on the
earth, hit in a lung, having difficulty breathing, moaning in a
soft undercurrent. Chris runs up on him.
Oh man! ... man!
Attending him. Rhah runs up.
Looks like a lung babe. But you're gonna be all
right, you only need one of them fuckers.
Oh shit man I never thought I'd get hit, I was ...
Stay cool. We gonna carry you out.
Barnes appears, running towards them, looking down at Crawford,
Sarge, 'bout five gooks tried to ...
... came through right over there. We got three of
them, we ...
Didn't you hear the arty shift? We're pulling back.
Get your wounded man and get the fuck back to the
church. Get going.
... but 'Lias is still out there.
I'll get him. You get the man in, Taylor
NOW. Or I'll Article 15 both your asses. Move!
Chris and Rhah look at Barnes sullenly, then reluctantly start
moving Crawford onto a poncho liner they use as a litter.
Move it, MOVE IT!
He's in his blackest rage, the force of his words almost
physically pushing the men to move out with Crawford. Barnes
turns now to deal with Elias.
EXT. ELIAS' JUNGLE - DAY
Elsewhere, Elias stands silently, listens to the forest. In the
distance the firefight can hardly be heard. His helmet gone, his
hair hanging free, he is at his best now - alone. He hears it.
Somebody running through the jungle, about 100 yards, boots on
leaves, coming towards him.
He begins to move lateral to the sound. His steps unheard,
better at this than the enemy.
THREE ENEMY FIGURES now appear, crouched and moving very fast
with light equipment through the mist.
Elias swerves up in immediate foreground, his back to us, FIRING.
All three Figures fall.
A quick glimpse of Elias, not bothering to stop, moving to his
EXT. BARNES' JUNGLE - DAY
Barnes, moving through the jungle, reacts to the fire, resetting
his course. Like a hunter stalking a deer. Suddenly there's
more firing. Then silence -
EXT. ELIAS' JUNGLE - DAY
TWO MORE ENEMY lie dead in the jungle. A rustle of movement,
then a CRY - chilling, jubilant, a war cry.
A pair of feet moving lightly over the jungle. A glimpse of
Elias. In his full glory. Roaming the jungle, born to it.
EXT. BARNES' JUNGLE - DAY
Barnes fixing on him, moving.
EXT. ELIAS' JUNGLE - DAY
An NVA SOLDIER, jungle-whiskered, dirty, smart, crouches,
listens, looks to his PARTNER. What are they fighting here? The
First One mutter something sharp and they split fast in the
direction they've come.
They get about six steps when Elias suddenly rises up from the
bush, not ten yards in front of them, his shots ripping into
them, driving the surprised life from them. Elias is gone.
EXT. NVA JUNGLE - DAY
Elsewhere, another three NVA stop, turn and flee back from where
EXT. JUNGLE CHURCH - DAY
Chris and Rhah get Crawford back to the church grounds, lay him
down. No activity around them. Chris plunges back into the
jungle where they left Barnes.
EXT. ELIAS AND BARNES' JUNGLE - DAY
Barnes moving, stops, listens. Something is running towards him.
But it's hidden by the bush. He brings his rifle up smooth and
quick, waits, then as the bush parts, Elias is standing there.
Looking at Barnes.
Barnes sees him, starts to lower his rifle, but then stops. He
raises it back an inch, sights it. Pause. A cold searing look
of hatred coming over his face.
In that moment, Elias understands. Quick as a deer, he makes his
move, trying to plunge back into the bush.
Barnes fires. Once, twice, three times - the blast rocking the
Elias jerking backwards into the bush, mortally wounded. Bird
cries. A crime against nature.
Barnes calmly lowers his rifle, and walks away from it.
EXT. CHRIS' JUNGLE - DAY
Chris, cutting through the jungle, hears the shots. He stops,
listens. Someone is moving through bush towards him, leaves and
Chris tightens, raises his rifle.
Barnes steps through into his sight - sees him.
Chris lowers his rifle. Barnes walking past him as if he weren't
Elias is dead. Join up with the platoon. Move it.
He's dead! Where? ... You saw him?
Yeah. Back about 100 metres. He's dead, now get
going, the gooks are all over the fuckin' place.
Moving on quickly. Chris has no choice but to follow, looking
back one more time.
EXT. CHURCH GROUNDS - JUNGLE - DAY
TWO CHOPPERS are coming into a LZ in front of the Church. The
two platoons, Second and Third, reinforcing, are being evacuated
as quickly as possible, one load (6-8 men, depending on the
wounded) after other. The choppers are spraying dust all over
the place. A scene of chaos, radio talk layering it. Doc is out
of supplies, making do with improvised bandages, etc.
MOVE IT MOVE IT MOVE IT.
Lerner goes by, horribly wounded on a makeshift litter, into the
chopper, Doc attending, holding the IV.
Chris catching a glimpse of him, waiting to get on the chopper,
turning to look as:
Hoyt and Sgt.Warren, both wounded, are hurried aboard on litters.
The chopper lifting off.
Chris and others now running to the corpses of Flash, Morehouse,
and Fu Sheng lying under dirty ponchos, their boots sticking out.
The ponchos are blown away in a burst of wind off the chopper
blades, revealing their faces - dirt stuffing their eyes and
mouths, waxen figures.
Chris and the others lifting them and carrying them towards the
next chopper now coming in.
They throw the bodies on. Tubbs and Crawford, both wounded, now
move past Chris, into the chopper. Chris running back, with King
carrying a litter - their eyes falling on:
Barnes talking with Wolfe and Ace, making signals under the
roaring sounds of the chopper. Shaking his head. No. No Elias.
Chris and King looking at each other, mute. They numbly start
loading Big Harold, minus his leg, onto the stretcher.
The Third Chopper is down now, waiting, roaring blades
silhouetting off the face of the cathedral. A ROCKET BLAST
suddenly goes off not too far from the chopper, incoming fire.
The DOOR GUNNER signaling for them to hurry, laying out fire.
INT/EXT. CHOPPER - JUNGLE - DAY
Chris and King hustling Big Harold's 250 pounds into the chopper.
Climbing in with him. Wolfe, Barnes, Ace running in with them.
The perimeter is bare.
Chris' eyes flitting over Barnes as he jumps in. The chopper
lifting off as another explosion rocks the area. The Door Gunner
sees something, opens up.
Big Harold, cursing, looks chalky but hog happy as he manages a
glance down at the jungle. His right leg is gone. Tears are
rolling out of his eyes.
Man, you gonna be in Japan this time tomorrow, Big
Yeah, I'se lucky dis time, what's a leg to get the
fuck outta here ...
(at the NVA)
Eat ma shit, you motherfuckers!
He sinks back, sick. Chris' eyes sudenly fix on something. He
can't believe it. He shoves King, points. King sees it. Both
Barnes is looking. So's Lt.Wolfe, so's Ace. So's the Door
Elias is coming out of the jungle. Staggering, blood disfiguring
his face and chest, hanging on with all his dimming strength,
looking up at them - trying to reach them.
Chris shakes Wolfe, his words drowned out by the roar.
The Chopper Captain looking down, dips. His co-pilot pointing.
The NVA are coming out of the jungle, closing on the spot where
Incoming rounds are hitting the chopper. The Door Gunner
Barnes looking down at the man, can't believe it.
Elias is on his last legs now, obviously being hit by the
incoming fire of the NVA. He falls to his knees, still
stretching upwards for life.
The Chopper Captain shakes his head at Wolfe.
The Chopper dips one more time firing at the NVA, low and fierce
over the jungle.
Chris looking back in horror.
Elias crucified. The NVA coming out now by the dozens from the
Elias crumbling to the ground. Obviously dead or dying.
HELICAPTAIN ON RADIO
... we still got one on the deck. Bring the gunships
Barnes drawing in.
Chris looking at him in revulsion. He knows. Barnes sees his
look, ignores it, all of them sitting there silent, living with
that final horrifying image of Elias.
EXT. UNDERGROUND HUTCH - BASE CAMP - NIGHT
The 'heads' are assembled - what's left of them. Rhah, King,
Francis, Doc, Adam, a quiet black kid, and Chris, who is
He killed him. I know he did. I saw his eyes when
he came back in ...
(puffing on his bowl)
How do you know the dinks didn't get him. You got no
Proof's in the eyes. When you know you know. You
were there Rhah - I know what you were thinking. I
say we frag the fucker. Tonight.
He looks to King who puffs on a joint, his eyes red.
I go with dat, an eye for an eye man.
Right on, nothing wrong with Barnes another shot in
the head wouldn't cure.
Shit boy you been out in the sun too long. You try
that, he'll stick it right back up your ass with a
candle on it.
Then what do you suggest big shot?
I suggest you watch your own asses cause Barnes gonna
be down on ALL OF 'EM.
How you figger that?
Shit man - Human nature.
Flashes the old knuckle - 'HATE'.
Then you jes gonna forget 'bout Elias and all the
good times we done had? Right in here.
He dugged his own grave.
He dug it.
He DUGGED it too.
Fuck this shit!
You guys trying to cure the headache by cutting off
the head. 'Lias didn't ask you to fight his battles
and if there's a Heaven - and god, I hope so - I know
he's sitting up there drunk as a fuckin' monkey and
smokin' shit cause HIS PAINS HE DONE LEFT DOWN HERE.
(a vehement movement of his head)
You're wrong man! Any way you cut it Rhah, Barnes is
I remember first time you came in here Taylor you
telling me how much you admired that bastard.
I was wrong.
Wrong? You ain't EVER been right - 'bout nothing.
And dig this you assholes and dig it good! Barnes
been shot 7 times and he ain't dead, that tell you
something? Barnes ain't meant to die. Only thing
can get Barnes ... is Barnes!
Barnes stands there, silhouetted in the trap door, looking down
at the men who are stunned to see him here.
He steps down into the hutch, his face now lit by candle light.
A bottle of whiskey in his hand, drunk, ugly, sweating, but as
always, with dignity, possessive of his silence. He feels their
fear in the silence, enjoys it.
Talking 'bout killing?
He totters slightly as he circles the outer edge of the hutch.
No one talks.
Y'all experts? Y'all know about killing?
He takes the bowl from Adams, smokes it.
You pussies gotta smoke this shit so's you can hide
from reality? ...
Me I don't need that shit. I AM reality.
Confronting Chris, he moves on, taunting them all.
There's the way it oughta be and there's the way it
is. 'Lias he was full of shit, 'Lias was a crusader
- I got no fight with a man does what he's told but
when he don't, the machine breaks down, and when the
machine breaks down, WE break down ... and I ain't
gonna allow that. From none of you. Not one ...
Walks past Rhah, past King, throws the pot bowl into the dirt of
Y'all loved Elias, want to kick ass, I'se here - all
by my lonesome, nobody gonna know. Five you boys
(pause, very soft)
Almost an appeal - naked, intense. Rhah, Francis, Doc look away.
King, the biggest one there, is about to say something, but the
Chris waits, his anger on the rise.
Barnes takes a swigger from the whiskey, then turns away
I SHIT on all o' you.
KILL YOU MOTHERFUCKER!!!
Chris slams into Barnes, rushing him off his feet. Pounding his
face, solid blows.
KING AND OTHERS
Get that mother, babe, go ... Kick his ass, kill that
But Barnes is too quick and very strong and takes the blows,
getting outside Chris' arm, twisting and flipping him in a
wrestler's grip - throwing him hard onto his back on the dirt
The expression of the Men watching slumps, their hopes dashed.
Barnes springs around on Chris, straddles him, one hand pushing
his face back, hits him hard. Once. Twice.
Chris grimaces, groans, helpless now. A flick of sound.
A knife whipped out of Barnes' boot and pressing against Chris'
throat. Chris bleeding from the nose and mouth.
Rhah suddenly spinning into action, fast now, realizing what
Barnes intends to do.
EASY BARNES, EASY MAN!!!
Barnes is on the verge - about to kill again.
Rhah coaxing him, moving closer.
You'll do dinky dau in Long Binh Barnes. Ten years -
kill an enlisted. Ten years, Barnes, just climb the
walls. DON'T DO IT ...
Barnes' eyes tremble in the candle light, his scars ugly, a spasm
clenching and locking his facial muscles. Then suddenly he is
calm again, very calm. We sense a man of enormous self-control.
Suddenly he flicks his knife across Chris, leaving a mark below
his left eye.
Chris gasps. Looking up at Barnes rising off him. The boots
alongside his face.
The Men looking on, the tension lowering.
Death? What do you guys know about it?
He walks out. Quietly.
EXT. AIR SHOTS - JUNGLE, CHURCH - DAY
Chris sits at the very edge of a Huey Chopper, bandana around his
forehead, long hair blowing in the wind, Barnes' mark below his
eyes, slicked out now like a jungle veteran, looking down at the
VILLAGE where the massacre occurred.
The Village is still a smoking ruin, a few peasants and water
buffalo straggling like ants to reconstruct.
Bunny, next to Chris, pops his gum, indifferent. Barnes, next to
him, shifts, reads a map.
Rodriguez is praying, his mouth moving without audible words,
getting ready for the drop.
King is making last minute adjustments in his pack.
Bunny now nudges Chris, points. The Church in the Jungle where
Elias was killed is visible. An outline of the Cemetery.
Uncomfortable memories play over Chris' face.
They sent us back into the valley the next day -
about 2,000 metres from Cambodia - into a battalion
perimeter. Alpha Company had been hit hard the day
before by a sizeable force and Charlie Company had
been probed that night. There were other battalions
in the valley, we weren't the only ones but we knew
we were going to be the bait to lure them out. And
somewhere out there was the entire 141st NVA
The BATTALION PERIMETER now breaks in the clear ahead. Smoke
grenades of various colors are being popped on the cleared LZ.
It's not big, its radius 200 yards, heavily sandbagged, deeply
dug, rolls of barbed wire protecting it, radio antennas sprouting
from the CP - and surrounded on all four sides by jungle.
The First Chopper rocking down, whipping up dust clouds. Chris
jumps out, moving out fast as the Second Chopper starts in.
EXT. BATTALION CP - PERIMETER #3 - DUSK
At the Battalion CP, the Major confers with Captain Harris and
two other Captains. Two NVA PRISONERS are sitting on their
knees, interrogated by Vietnamese Kit Carson scouts and a U.S.
Sergeant, their hands tied.
The Scout slaps the shit out of the NVA.
EXT. PLATOON CP - PERIMETER #3 - DUSK
All this is watched from a distance by Ace and Doc and Lt.Wolfe
at the Platoon CP. Ace and Doc are digging the foxhole, the ace
of spades in Ace's helmet band, sharing the information with Tony
... they caught 'em last night pulling some shit on
Charlie Company. They found maps on 'em, man - got a
friend at Battalion says they had every fuckin'
foxhole here fixed on it. Distances, treelines, our
claymores, trip wires, everything? I shit you not.
Shit, so what the fuck are we doing here? Why don't
we move ...
Bad vibes, man, I got bad vibes here. Where are the
new guys they provided us anyway.
I heard we's in Cambodia right fuckin' NOW.
You kidding man ...
Rhah comes up, a walking stick in hand, huge pirate kerchief on
his head, semi-naked.
You wanted to see me sir?
Jackson, looks like you got Elias' squad now.
Squad? I didn't know we was still referring to this
platoon in terms of squads sir.
(with a snicker for Ace and Doc)
(indicating a rough drawing in the dirt)
These two holes are yours ...
Begging your pardon Lieutenant but my holes are far
enuff apart you could run a regiment through there
and nobody'd see them - I got five live bodies left
I don't want to hear your problems, Jackson. You'll
get new men any day. Time being you make do like
Hey Lieutenant I didn't ask for this job, I ...
I don't want to hear about it Jackson.
(amazed, looking off at him)
You don't want to hear about it?
That's right. I don't want to hear about it 'cause
to tell you the truth, I don't give a shit okay ... I
just don't give a shit anymore.
(shrugs, to himself)
(passing Ace digging the CP hole)
This is one time we could sure use Elias.
'Some people say I'm wishy washy. Maybe I am. Maybe
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - CHRIS' FOXHOLE - DUSK
On the edge of the perimeter, King puts out his claymore,
unraveling it back towards his FOXHOLE, intersecting MEN form the
Third Platoon, who file out on a night ambush, skirting the trip
wires, demoralized, silent. Eye exchanges, but no words.
Chris sits on the foxhole watching the ambush go out, smoking a
joint by himself, depressed. King comes in with the claymore
wires, attaching them to their detonators. Their foxhole - as
are all of the Platoon's - is positioned just inside the treeline
bordering the LZ, so that they are quite isolated from the center
of the perimeter where they first landed.
Glad I ain't going with 'em. Somewhere out dere man
is de Beast and he hungry tonight ... Man, what a
bummer. Ten days and a wakeup and I'm still dealing
wid this shit - fuckin' etcetera and ad infinitum man
The LAST SOLDIER in the file recedes into the foliage.
(noticiing Chris' silence)
What's the matter wid you? ... How come you ain't
writing no more? You was always writing something
home. Looks like youse half a bubble off, Taylor.
He doesn't answer, makes a futile gesture.
What about your folks? That grandma you was telling
me about? ...
Chris shakes his head.
Chris' eyes answer negatively.
Must be somebody?
... there's nobody.
You been smoking too much shit babe. Gotta control
that. Takes a man down ... I remember when you first
come out to the bush, you was straight as a ...
Who gives a shit!
He shifts, annoyed, prepares his grenades along the sand bags.
King shrugs, preparing his meal, sings himself a snatch of song,
a good natured man.
'People say I'm the life of the party cause I tell a
joke or two although I may be laughing loud and hardy
deep inside I'm blue ...'
Y'ever get caught in a mistake King and you just
can't get out of it?
Way out of anything, man. Just keep your pecker up,
your powder dry, the worm WILL turn. How many days
Not just me ... it's the way the whole thing works.
People like Elias get wasted and people like Barnes
just go on making up rules any way they want and what
do we do, we just sit around in the middle and suck
on it! We just don't add up to dry shit.
Does a chicken have lips? Whoever said we did, babe.
Make it outta here, it's all gravy, every day of the
rest of your life man - gravy. Oh shit, superlifer!
O'Neill comes up, jerks his thumb at King.
Get your gear together, King, your orders just come
You jokin' me man? ... shit, you ain't kidding!
Cocksucker. Oh wowww ... the lifers made a mistake,
they cuttin' me some slack, they cutting me some
Collect your shit and move out King. You got 10
minutes make the last chopper. Cee ess em oh or your
ass is mine.
Francis is coming over.
King packing up, double time. Chris comes over, helps him,
trying to share his happiness but not succeeding.
Hey that's great King, that's great ... you take it
on home for me, you tell 'em King ... got your
address right? You know where you can reach men,
I gotta didi man. Don't wanna miss that chopper.
I'll send you a postcard. After I get me some. I'll
send you some tapes too man. This new guy Jimi
Hendrix man, whew ... you okay Taylor? Just 'member
take it easy now, don't think too much, don't be a
fool, no such thing as a coward cause it don't mean
nuthin. Jes keep on keepin' on. Okay my man ...
Chris, fighting his depression, slaps hands with King. A brief
moment, they look at each other. A friendship that was forever
and is now over. They both sort of know they'll never see each
I'll walk you out ...
Francis coming up, hauling his pack.
EXT.PERIMETER #3 - JUNIOR'S FOXHOLE - DUSK
On another foxhole, Rodriguez positions his M-60, brings up his
ammo belts (no loaders left). Tony eating, nervous, watches him,
shakes his head.
Rumor goin' round is they got tanks. Soviet shit, T-
Hey Rodriguez, don't you ever say nothing?
(a thick Mexican accent)
What do you want me to say, it's all the same ol'
Tony shrugs, back to his food.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - JUNIOR'S FOXHOLE - DUSK
On another foxhole, Barnes in full pack checks the soles of
Junior's bare feet. Bunny and O'Neill looking on. Junior is
moaning as if he's dying, overdoing it by a mile.
So what's the problem?
Says he can't walk.
Shit. Get your boots on Martin, next time I catch
you putting mosquito repellant on your fuckin' feet
I'm gonna courtmartial your nigger ass.
DEN COURTMARTIAL ME MOTHERFUCKAH, bust my ass, send
me to fucking Long Binh, do your worst but I ain't
walking no more. De white man done got his last klik
outta me. Get some chuck dude to hump this shit.
Get me that centipede, O'Neill.
O'Neill is puzzled. What centipede?
Yeah that long hairy orange and black bastard I found
in the ammo crate. I'm gonna put it in this
asshole's crotch, see if he can walk.
Junior's eyes bulge with suspiscion and sudden terror, his
demeanor totally alert now.
Oh yeah, right away Sarge.
No! Wait! I'll walk, fuck you I'll walk, I don't
need this shit! I don't need this shit!
Fucking pussy, fuck it Sarge, I gotta have him on my
Barnes going. O'Neill catching up with him.
Uh ... Bob. Like to speak to you. Take a minute.
Yeah, what is it?
Bob, I got Elias' R&R ... It's coming up in 3 days.
Going to Hawaii. See Patsy.
(pause, no reaction from Barnes)
I never asked you for a break, I was hoping you ...
you'd send me in on the chopper with King ... what do
you say Chief?
(a friendly punch)
I can't do that for you, Red ... We need every
swinging dick in the field. Sorry bout that ...
(starts to go)
Hey Bob, come on! Talk to me hunh, it's your friend
Red, I'm only asking you for three days chief ...
I'm talking to you Red and I'm telling you no. Get
back to your position.
(grabs him, desperate)
Bob, I gotta bad feeling about this, I ... I'm
telling you I got a bad feeling, man, I don't think
I'm gonna make it .. y'know what I mean?
... everybody gotta die sometime Red ... Get back to
A look in his eyes. Very remote, very cold, silencing O'Neill.
Barnes walks off.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - BATTALION LZ - DUSK
At the LZ, King runs out, gets on the last SUPPLY CHOPPER with
some other men. It lifts off, swirling dust, the last rays of
Chris watches from a Battalion CP area, waves back - the chopper
sound receding in the horizon, the comparative silence of the
jungle now creeping up on the perimeter. He turns and starts
back to his foxhole.
A man is watching him. He's sitting on a sandbag, face in
shadow. It startles Chris, something about him. Something
different. A deep West Virginia drawl.
Got a light?
Uh sure ...
Goes over reluctantly, flicks his lighter, cupping it from the
wind. The flame catches a sudden, uneasy expression in Chris'
face as he sees the Smoking Man.
We come around and see what Chris sees in the light of the flame.
A face that smiles at him like a death's head, a large ugly
blister on his mouth, whiskered, pale - but smiling. A sick man
wouldn't smile like this, but he is smiling too intimately, as if
he knows Chris from way back. But he doesn't. Or does he?
Perhaps it was the man Chris first saw at the airstrip when he
came in-country. The same expression of evil, of a man who has
seen too much and died, but still lives.
Chris feels an unnatural fear passing through him.
The Man stands, sucking on his cigarette, stretches. He is thin
and very tall, towering over Chris.
He goes. Chris watches him, wondering. The man never looks
back, a leisurely, confident stroll. In that moment, there is an
EXPLOSION from way out in the jungle, about a quarter of a mile.
Then another, then small arms fire. Chris looks, knows.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - RHAH'S FOXHOLE - DUSK
On his foxhole, Junior listening to the distant firing. Bunny is
introspective - talking to Junior as if he were his best friend,
although they have nothing in common.
... y'know some of the things we done, I don't feel
like we done something wrong but sometimes y'know I
get this bad feeling. Not all that shit the
Chaplain's jamming up our ass 'bout the Good Lord ...
just a fucking bad feeling, y'know what I mean?
Don't know why. I told the Chaplain the truth is I
really like it here. You do what you want, nobody
fucks with you. Only worry you got's dying and if
dat happens you won't know about it anyway. So what
the fuck ...
Junior looks at him like he's really crazy. Back to the distant
Fuck! I gotta be on this hole with YOU man. I just
know I shouldna come!
Bunny finds it funny, laughs.
Don't you worry bout a thing Junior, you with Audie
Murphy here, my man ...
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - COMPANY CP - DUSK
At the Company CP, Captain Harris is talking urgently into the
Bravo Three Alpha! Send me a grid. Send me a grid,
A young inexperienced VOICE screams back into the radio amid
intense background FIRING filtered by radio and sounding
We're pinned down sir, they're in the fucking trees!
The trees -
OK, Three Alpha, calm down now, son. I'm gonna get
you a fire mission ASAP. Smoke'll be first ...
Lieutenant's dead sir, radioman look dead sir, I
don't know where the map is Captain! They're all
around us sir. They're moving! Hundreds of em! I
can hear em talking gook!!! Jesus Christ!
... Just spot the smoke son and tell me where to
shift. We'll get you out of there. Just hang tough
and tell me where the rounds hit, over.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - PLATOON CP - DUSK
At the Platoon CP, Barnes stands, legs akimbo, watching the
jungle, anticipating the coming fight as overhead we now hear the
155 SHELLS whistle from a 10-mile distance - passing above them -
then pounding down into the jungle in the near distance. Barnes
turns, glances at Wolfe, smiles.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - COMPANY CP - DUSK
At the Company CP, Captain Harris is back on the radio.
Bravo Three Alpha six. How bout those rounds son?
Can you adjust fire?
Three Alpha, if you can't talk, just key the handset
Silence, then a vague MURMURING - becoming clearer and clearer.
It's in Vietnamese. The radio is then bashed in, the sound like
thunder in the Captain's ear. He looks at his RTO, both of them
EXT. NVA JUNGLE - NIGHT/DUSK
In the Jungle itself, the ENEMY is moving. Flurries of movement
and sound, blurred visuals. Hands taping a piece of cloth to a
tree, moving on - revealing a luminous arrow pointing left ...
Figures moving past it.
Hands unraveling a thin wire waist-high, backwards.
Hands sliding along another wire. We now see a moving helmet
with a luminous plaque on the back of it, leading a file up the
wire. To a Jump-off point about 50 yards outside the U.S.
perimeter. Figures crouch. Whispers. Movement. A pen
flashlight on a drawing of the foxhole positions. The NVA moving
out in several directions at once.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - CHRIS' FOXHOLE - NIGHT
On their foxhole, Chris and Francis wait anxiously. Overhead the
ARTILLERY keeps pounding into the ambush area. Now SMALL ARMS
FIRE can be heard picking up at random spots along the perimeter.
The battle, like a tide, is obviously moving closer to them.
Oh shit me I wish I was back in Memphis now, oooh
baby this is gonna be a motherfucker!
Chris says nothing. Suddenly off to their right, about 80 yards,
a BLUE FIZZLE of light erupts.
Trip flares! ... Rodriguez's hole.
Rat-tat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat. Machine gun, outgoing, followed by
a sharp explosion. A ROCKET!
MEDIC!! DOC! DOC!
A FIGURE thrashes up through the foliage behind them.
(a fierce whisper)
Rhah jumps into their hole with them, out of breath.
Rhah! What's going on. Rodriguez's hole just got
(gets his breath)
Okay, here it is - one, we got gooks in the fuckin'
Oh shit! Dat's it, dat's it ...
They got through Alpha Company! Anything behind you
don't identify itself, blow it away. Two - air
strike's coming in. They gonna lay snake and nape
right on the perimeter so stay tight in your holes
and don't leave 'em.
FLARES now shoot up over the perimeter. Reds, greens, yellows,
squeaking as they float doen on their parachute hinges throughout
the ensuing battle. The perimeter is illuminated at spotty
intervals - sometimes arctic bright, sometimes inexplainably dark
til new flares shoot up.
Chris, Francis, Rhah all look up at the light, and hug their
holes even tighter, feeling naked in the light. Flares cut both
... they're probing us, they gonna go up and down
this line all night trying to get through. Stay cool
... I'll be back ...
Runs out of the foxhole. Chris suddenly reacting to a noise out
front, gripping Francis and pointing to the sound.
A BODY is thrashing towards them, about twenty-five yards, not
yet visible but a little awkward and lungy in it's movement, as
Francis, tense, is about to pop his grenade when Chris grabs him.
WHO IS IT!
But the body keeps coming, lurching now, falling.
Come on man!
A POP! - then a fizzle of BLUE LIGHT as the Figure hits their
trip flare - revealing itself to be large, with no helmet, and
gasping, terrified of the trip flare.
DON'T SHOOT! DON'T SHOOT!
It's the ambush!
In here, man! Hurry.
The SOLDIER now runs in like a fullback going down for the
tackle, sprawling into the hole, knocking Chris and Francis down
He is sweating, terrified, a white boy with an unrecognizable,
filthy face, no rifle, no helmet, his fatigues torn all over.
Chris gives him his canteen, his shoulder and neck hurting from
the collision. The Soldier sucks down the canteen.
TERRIFIED SOLDIER (CONT'D)
They'se all over the place, hundreds of em moving
this way! They wiped us out man, we didn't have a
chance! Where's the CP?
The Soldier struggling out of the foxhole.
You guys get outta here! They're right on my ass and
they ain't stoppin' for shit!
He tears off, leaving Francis in a state of incipient panic. He
looks at Chris.
Taylor, let's di-di man!
Chris adjusting position, facing the front, anger in his voice.
Francis hesitates, stays.
INT. PERIMETER #3 - BATTALION CP - NIGHT
At the Battalion CP, the Major is inside his BUNKER, busy between
his radio nets.
(to RTO 1)
Get me Bravo!
Charlie Company reports hand to hand on the perimeter
sir. Three holes are down. They need help!
(looks at his watch, to his XO)
Okay move two squads from Alpha down there. Where's
that goddamn air strike, you bet your ass if we were
the First Cav they'd be here now.
(handing him the transmitter)
Bravo Six sir.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - BATTALION CP - NIGHT
Just outside the Bunker, a MASTER SERGEANT spots something in the
flarelight. TWO FIGURES with helmets running towards him at an
Hey you boys! Which Company you ...
A sudden burst of FIRE cuts the Sergeant down in his tracks and
the Figures fly by.
Soldiers in the immediate area spot them.
A burst of fire. One of the RUNNING FIGURES goes down. An
Explosion engulfs him.
INT. PERIMETER #3 - BATTALION CP - NIGHT
But the SECOND SAPPER runs right into the bunker in a kamikaze
charge, the light from inside momentarily revealing a bulky
satchel strapped on his person and the face of the astounded
EXT. PERIMETER #3 BATTALION CP - NIGHT
The Bunker EXPLODES with a deafening roar.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - CHRIS' FOXHOLE - NIGHT
In their foxhole, Chris and Francis look at the curling ball of
EXT. PERIMETER #3 COMPANY CP - NIGHT
In their foxhole, Chris points.
SHAPES moving in the trees. Chris blows his claymore handles.
One explosion on top of the other out front. Then return fire.
Flashes from a muzzle, rak-a-tak, rak-a-tak, rak-a-tak, the
heavier sound of an AK-47.
Chris opening up with his 16. Then being blown down by a grenade
explosion at the edge of the foxhole. Then nothing. A pause.
Chris' ears ringing, slightly concussed.
Suddenly from down the perimeter there is the sound of a faulty
LOUDSPEAKER crackling out from the jungle. A pidgen English, the
words mauled, then a snatch of patriotic North Vietnamese music,
played from a scratchy old record.
Chris uneasy, looking at Francis who looks terrified. The SOUND
now of a whistle. Two hoots, then a sharp third. Then yelling.
Chris grabbing Francis' arm, pointing. There is a VOICE directly
out to the front of them - muttering something in Vietnamese, no
more than 20 yards away but unseen. It's like hearing a casual
conversation from another room, then the sounds of several bodies
moving in separate directions - encompassing the foxhole.
(to Francis, a whisper)
Out of the hole! Fast!
Chris crawls out, stops, looks back. Francis won't leave, hugs
(a fierce whisper)
Goddamit Francis! Move your fucking ass. Now ...
THEY GONNA BLOW IT!
Reaches in and yanks him with all his strength half out of the
hole. Francis, finally sparked, now moves out. Both of them
bellying it into the brush behind the hole.
Not a moment too soon. An RPG ROCKET whistling in.
The FOXHOLE takes a direct hit, caving in, whirls of smoke
spinning off it.
Chris and Francis look back covered with debris. They hear
SHADOWS are swarming towards the foxhole, firing into it to
finish them off.
Francis grabs Chris' leg, indicating they get out of there.
Chris hesitates - a moment, a decision made now in angry passion
- rises up and charges the NVA.
SHADOWS scatter and tumble, caught by his surprise close-range
Chris moving forward into them, blasting, agile, his instincts
finely tuned, and totally insane in this moment of time,
indifferent to his life. He YELLS insanities, pumping himself up
with the adrenaline of courage.
DIE YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!!! YAAAAAAAAA!!!
Screams from the dark shadows, they fall.
Chris smashing a wounded SHADOW with the butt of his gun down
into the foxhole. He jumps back into it, reoccupying it.
Blasting the dead gook.
Opening fire out to the front, driving the Shadows back.
Francis watching this, amazed. After a moment of doubt, he too
tears back out to join Chris in the foxhole, unbelieving, as he
jumps in with him.
(joining in the frenzy)
Then stunned again to see Chris suddenly rise up out of the
foxhole and charging forward into the jungle. He is now over the
(charging off into the jungle)
DIE YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!!!
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - BUNNY'S FOXHOLE - NIGHT
In his position, Bunny is experiencing the same 'high' as Chris,
yells out at them.
Come on MOTHERFUCKERS, COME ON!!!
Junior, huddled in the hole with him, speechless and terrified,
looks at him with huge eyes. The guy is nuts. An incoming
grenade explosion shakes the hole.
(laying out more fire)
Come on you can do better than that!
Fuck this shit! I ain't dyin' in no white man's war!
Ise didi-ing this motherfuckah!
Junior freaks out, throws his rifle down and hobbles out of the
hole on his damaged feet at an incredible speed.
(yelling after him)
Get back here you gutless shit ...
A SHAPE suddenly out of nowhere, looms up fast behind Bunny,
running at him.
Junior, insane now with fear, runs smack into a tree, knocked
senseless and reeling to the ground.
Bunny turning back too late. The crazy drug-high Shape is
yelling something like:
And jumps right into the hole blasting Bunny point-blank in the
Bunny struggling to consciousness at the bottom of the hole.
THUCK! A boot in the gaping hole where his chest was. Bunny,
his eyes uncomprehending. A muzzle is jammed into his mouth,
breaking his teeth with an ugly sound. Another yell from the NVA
trooper. A flash of orange red light. Bunny's face blown to
Junior, dizzy from the blow to his head, looks up.
A yellow flare somewhere out there and a SHADOW above him digging
a bayonet into his belly with a grunt. A long oozing sigh of
An explosion. The Shadow with the bayonet staggering blind
without eyes, holding his brains with his hands.
Barnes throws open the empty LAAW rocket casing he has just fired
off and charges forward with a yell, cutting down another NVA in
Bunny's old foxhole. Jumping into the hole, the bottom of which
is a liquid pit of guts, blood, ooze. Another Enemy running in
on him. A short burst of fire. Barnes hit. Firing into each
other. Barnes draggin him down into the pit with him, grappling
alongside the corpse of Bunny. Barnes uses an entrenching tool
to finish him off.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - PLATOON CP - NIGHT
At the Platoon CP, small arms fire is all over the place, the NVA
closing the ring. Ace, in the foxhole, yells to Wolfe.
Negative contact. Can't raise Barnes, Two Bravo, Two
Get me Six!
Nervously aiming his rifle as a man comes running towards them,
Doc plops down, out of breath, drained, bleeding all over his
They're coming through all over! I can't ... I can't
I think he's dead ... it's awful, they're all dying.
Wolfe is stunned, Barnes his last crutch against the chaos. Ace
handing him the handset.
CAPTAIN HARRIS' VOICE
Yeah! Send traffic or clear this goddamn net!
We've been overrun Captain, we're pulling back.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - COMPANY CP - NIGHT
At the Company CP, things are just as bad. A Radioman is
sprawled over a smashed radio. Captain Harris is in a bunker
working the radios himself, as his Radiomen fire at yelling,
running FIGURES scurrying all over the inner perimeter.
Bravo Two, Six! Goddamit where the hell you plannin'
to pull back to! They're all over the perimeter. Be
advised Lieutenant, you WILL hold in place and you
will FIGHT and that means YOU, Lieutenant. Out!
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - PLATOON CP - NIGHT
At the Platoon CP, Wolfe is astounded by the message. Ace
looking at him straight in the eye.
You're an asshole Lieutenant, you know that.
As he abandons his radio, grabs up his 16 and moves to an
adjacent position. Doc, a quiet man up to now, is treating a
wounded Parker who is now hit by bullets and thrashes wildly and
jerks to a stop. He is obviously dead but Doc goes on trying to
finish the bandage. Suddenly he goes beserk, grabs a 16, starts
firing and yelling.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - COMPANY CP - NIGHT
At the Company CP, Harris gets on the radio with the air strike.
One of the RTOs on a separate radio calls over.
Captain, Third Battalion Armoured's on its way with
tracks 'bout 2 kliks west!
(ignores it, into radio)
Snakebite leader, Ripper Bravo Six, we're gonna need
you soonest be advised I've got zips in the wire down
(distorted high frequency)
Roger your last Bravo Six, Snakebite lead we can't
run it any closer. We're hot to trot and packing
snape and nape but we're bingo fuel. It's your call,
Six actual, Over.
Harris looks around. The decision made.
Snakebite leader, Bravo Six, for the record, it's my
call. Dump everything you got left ON MY POS. I say
again, I want all you're holding INSIDE the
perimeter. It's a lovely war. Bravo Six Actual and
Pilot's reaction. Very calm. A Farmboy twang.
Roger your last Bravo Six. We copy it's your call.
Get em in their holes down there. Hang tough, Bravo
Six we are coming cocked for treetops. Whiskey to
Echo ... Snakebite Two, this is lead. Last pass on
zero niner. Watch my smoke to target, expend all
remaining. Follow my trace ...
The transmission drops out. Harris now looking up into the
darkened skies. The planes in no way evident - but they're
there. And they're coming.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - PLATOON CP - NIGHT
At the Platoon CP, the NVA are sweeping fast, crouched, using
cover, yelling. Small fires are raging all over the perimeter.
Ace putting out fire, is hit. The NVA are coming over his
sandbags. A burst of fire. Ace goes down.
Doc has cracked up, firing at anything, indifferent to his
safety. One of the NVA goes down. The Doc is hit in the side,
wounded, struggles, is hit again, but keeps trying to fire. He's
hit a third time - in the jugular vein. Nearby, Wolfe is firing
madly at the oncoming NVA. One goes down. A second is wounded,
yelling in pain. Wolfe reloading his 16, popping up, too late.
One of them is coming over the sandbags. He sees Wolfe. Wolfe
sees him. In the same moment.
Wolfe hesitates, frozen up. The gook unloads his AK-47, a
magazine worth, into Lieutenant Wolfe, who crashes down, sprawled
unnaturally on the jungle floor. A spasm shakes his body. Then
Boots run by.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - O'NEILL'S FOXHOLE - NIGHT
At his foxhole, O'Neill peeks up out of the hole. Several NVA
are darting through the jungle 20 yards away, coming towards him,
talking loudly to each other. He quickly slips back down in the
hole, entwining himself with the approaching NVA, clinking metal.
The NVA stop, glance in the hole. Something is muttered. They
O'Neill opens his eyes, breathes.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - BARNES' FOXHOLE - NIGHT
BARNES swings his mashed M-16 full into the FACE of an enemy
SOLDIER who screams and goes down, Barnes chopping at him with
his club. His helmet is gone, his shirt ripped to shreds, his
shoulder bleeding, making his last stand against the hated Gooks.
Nearby HUFFMEISTER is hit in the shoulder by a running FIGURE and
collapses into the bottom of the foxhole, crying out in pain.
The running FIGURE runs past right into the full force of BARNES'
swinging rifle. SMACK! He crumples.
Chris bellies into the area, see Barnes, recognizes him, amazed.
An ENEMY fires, taking Barnes high in the left thigh. A patch of
skin blowing off. Barnes rigidly goes down on his left knee like
a wounded horse. Holds there, staring into the Enemy, waiting
for the coup de grace.
A series of SHOUTS and the Enemy staggers dead as:
Chris lays out a curtain of fire. A GRENADE goes off near him,
blowing off his helmet. Dazed, Chris rushes forward firing from
the hip - sucked into Barnes' suicidal vacuum. He cuts down an
Barnes, given a new lease, limps angrily forward and tackles a
wounded Enemy trying to crawl away, terrified at the sight of
Barnes coming after him. Barnes lets out a vivid scream.
And beats the soldier mercilessly, half the stock of his M-16
flying apart broken.
Chris swivels alert on his knees. A pause. No more enemy.
Turns to Barnes, his back to Chris still beating at the dead
Barnes swivels instinctively off the corpse and for a petrifying
moment Chris sees:
A maddened scar of a face, lips specked with foam. The EYES -
refracted in a red-green flare overhead - the pupils distorted
into angry red points.
For Chris it is no doubt the most frightening single image he has
seen in his life. It will be in his nightmares forever. The
essence of evil: wrath, obsession, anger, fear, hatred,
permanence - he is paralyzed.
Barnes smashes him full across the face with the broken stock of
his M-16. Not even conciously, for at this point, his mind has
gone over the edge and the entire world is his enemy. American
or Vietnamese, it makes no difference as he strikes Chris harder
Chris struggles, moans, his teeth and nose cracked. Barnes emits
another chilling yell an springs like a humpback up on his good
right leg, the left bent - set to deliver the killing blow, the
mangled rifle pulled to its highest arc.
The PHANTOM FIGHTER JET comes now like a great white whale. One
big beautiful monstrous beat of deafening sound. Its silver and
white belly hurtling low over the treeline in one giant leap of
sound momentarily illuminated by a flare. Then a monstrous ROAR
The bomb ripping Barnes off the body of Chris and spitting Chris
across the jungle floor - crashing into a tree some 30 yards
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - CHRIS' JUNGLE - DAWN
FADE BACK IN. Vague sunlight. Blurry. Chris fluttering his
eyes. A sharp MOVEMENT in the bush. His eyes fight their way
SOFT EYES are watching him from behind foliage. A soft, furry
head, alert, rigidly still.
Chris fights his way up to his elbow, in pain, looking at the
eyes. The head turns and in one fluid move, bolts. Gone. Like
the wind. A deer. A big brown deer. Or was it? Chris will
never be quite sure. But whatever it was, it was surely a sign
of grace - the grace of Elias. This he knows as he feels himself
for the first time alive.
And in pain. His left hand torn and bleeding, shrapnel in his
side, cuts on his face, dried blood caking him. Looking around
his garden of eden. A messy jungle floor. Cordite fumes.
Burned bush and trees. Torn sandbags. Dead NVA. Bird songs
somewhere in the distance. It is the very crack of dawn, a pink-
red sun casting long oblique light patterns through the trees. A
Chris pushes himself to his feet, feels his weight and the pain.
He walks. In the near distance, towards the LZ area, there's the
sound of Armored Personnel carriers grinding, men moving, calling
out in Americanese. But Chris is alone here.
He fishes up an AK-47 from a dead NVA. Checks it, a weapon.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - BARNES' FOXHOLE - DAY
Past scores of NVA bodies. Past the Foxhole where Bunny lays
dead in the bottom, faceless. Looking over at Junior bayoneted
to the ground, dead. NVA everywhere around the hole, some of
them still moving, badly wounded.
Chris looking around, then noticing a movement a little further
out in the Jungle. Then he sees who.
The uniform is shredded, the figure obviously hurt in several
places (thigh, back, neck, hand) but not mortally so, now
struggling to right itself, dragging its face up from a belly-
down position. Streaked with dirt and blood, we see Barnes once
again re-emerging from the dead.
Chris steps over to him, a solemn look on his face. Barnes looks
Get me a Medic will ya. Go on ...
Chris doesn't move. Barnes looks at him again, reading the
intention that has crossed Chris' mind. An expression of
surprise crosses his face, then amazement, almost shock.
Fuck you in hell ...
Chris shoots him. Once. Twice. Three times. Silence ...
Barnes is finally dead.
Chris looking at the corpse, numbed, no exultation in his
expression. Just cold satisfaction and little feeling left.
Behind him, the SOUND of a big machine moving. He turns.
A huge Nazi flag on an antenna looms up in the bush, followed by
the great belly of a turreted dragon crunching down a tree for
A big tough GERMAN SHEPARD comes boudning at him sniffs, followed
by a flak-jacketed MONSTER MAN - filthy and greasy, unshaven
face, earring in his left ear, 'DEATH CORPS' scrawled on his
shirtless flak jacket and a drawing of a death's head, he looks
like a cross between a pirate and a hell's angel. Behind him, a
SECOND MONSTER MAN and the ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIER grinding its
engine, a human skull hanging from its turret.
Bozo! Get back here!
His eyes passing on Chris like so much meat.
MONSTER MAN (CONT'D)
Can you walk outta here?
Chris nods. The Soldier pointing to the LZ behind him as a sign
he should go that way. The other Soldier already stripping the
NVA dead, as the APC grinds on into the jungle, reconnoitering.
Chris walks out of the jungle, head bowed, nauseated, mixed
feelings roiling him.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - FRANCIS' FOXHOLE - DAY
In another foxhole, Francis waits, the sounds of the approaching
APC cutting through. He thinks about it a moment. It must be
fast. It must be a hard cold decision. Now!
He pulls out his K-bar and with one last anguished hesitation,
drives it into his thigh muscle.
Francis yells out and collapses in his hole.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - O'NEILL'S FOXHOLE - DAY
In another foxhole, O'Neill, unscratched but covered with dirt,
waits tentatively as SOLDIERS arrive at his hole. They're a
little awed by the sight of the tough-looking O'Neill emerging
from his foxhole like Sgt.Rock, dozens of dead NVA littered
APC SOLDIER #1
You alone Sarge?
Fuck yeah. They all left me, bunch of fuckin'
APC SOLDIER #2
Man, you gonna get yoself a silver star.
Fuck the silver star. You got any booze?
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - RHAH'S FOXHOLE - DAY
Rhah, alive and well, is poking around the NVA corpses with a
long gnarled walking stick, looking like a crazy Johnny Appleseed
with his pants rolled up on his thin hairy ankles and wearing a
red bandana tied in a four-knot around his head.
As one of the APC SOLDIERS carves an ear off a dead NVA, Rhah
works his way through the torn bloody pocket of an NVA Troop in
full rigor mortis, extracting what he thought was there - a
wrapped cellophane of heroin.
Rhah's face glows with satisfaction as he tastes it, then snorts
it. With a certain satisfaction of triumph over the grim
(to the powder)
Yeah, that's good shit ...
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - LZ - DAY
CHRIS is hauled out on a litter. Morphined, his eyes watching it
all from somewhere deep in his brain. Passing:
Groups of SOLDIERS looking like bowery bums and moving like rats
through the smoke and garbage snooping for souvenirs with wheezy
tired eyes and grunts of greed.
Passing a bulldozed PIT with heaps of NVA BODIES in them. a
BULLDOZER pushing another set of bodies in, like photos of a Nazi
Nearby, two burly SOLDIERS lift a WOMAN NURSE and with a once-
through build for momentum, toss the fresh body into the pit.
Chris, numb, goes by.
(into radio, exhausted)
- 37 U.S. KIA, 122 wounded and still counting.
Estimate 500 Victor Charlie KIA, 22 wounded and still
2ND RADIO OPERATOR
Sir, a television crew's coming in with the General -
CAPTAIN HARRIS doesn't respond; at this point he doesn't give a
shit, standing apart from the radios looking numbly at the
remnants of his boys filtering by on litters.
Chris intersects him now, Harris' eyes looking blankly, then
nodding sickly trying to give him encouragement. Just coming to
the edge of tears, choking it back, and turning back. These are
his sons who are lost. A good officer.
Rodriguez, wounded, is lifted up in his litter and moved out to
the waiting MEDIVAC CHOPPER, a huge red cross painted on a white
Doc goes by on another litter, then Ace, Adams, Huffmeister, etc.
Then Francis is littered by, bandages around his leg, a big smile
on his face.
Hey Taylor, you okay man?
Yeah. How 'bout you?
Jes' fine man, jes fine! Ain't never felt better!
Both of us two timers man, we're out.
(gives him a slap as he goes by)
See you at the hospital man, we gonna get high-high
The Medic points to the chopper.
That's your ride man, you ready?
(tries a smile)
Chris starts towards it, the Medic assisting him.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - LZ - DAY
Sgt.O'Neill watches the loading process forlornly from the
distance. Captain Harris intersects him.
You got Second Platoon Sergeant.
Yes sir -
And as Harris moves away, O'Neill is left thinking. Finally
there is a certain frustration to his actions; he has taken such
great pains to stay alive that the tuition he pays is precisely
to stay in this Jungle. Inevitably his time will come - one way
His eyes now follow the MEDIVAC CHOPPER upwards, whatever is left
of his shrunken soul yearning to go with it.
EXT/INT: PERIMETER #3 LZ CHOPPER - DAY
As the Chopper rises off the battlefield, Chris, who is sitting
at the edge so that he has a full view out the open door, waves
back at Rhah.
EXT. PERIMETER #3 - DAY
Rhah, at the edge of the treeline, vigorously shakes his walking
stick at him, his other hand a fist, waving them, emitting his
Defiance. Pride. Dig me, I'm Rhah - and there isn't nobody like
me in the world.
EXT/INT: PERIMETER #3 - LZ CHOPPER - DAY
The chopper - with its huge red cross painted on - now rising to
meet God. Smashed on morphine, Chris looking out at the waving
Now the trees, the skyline and the chopper is moving fast over
the devestation. The jungle forever locked in his memory, Chris
looks back, copious, quiet tears flowing from his eyes.
I think now, looking back, we did not fight the
enemy, we fought ourselves - and the enemy was in us
... The war is over for me now, but it will always be
there - the rest of my days. As I am sure Elias will
be - fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called
possession of my soul ... There are times since I
have felt like the child born of those two fathers
... but be that as it may, those of us who did make
it have an obligation to build again, to teach to
others what we know and to try with what's left of
our lives to find a goodness and meaning to this life
The music surges now to its full strength as we replay bits of
film with each actor's name listed - some with silly, clowning
looks, others sober, haunted. Gardner, Tex, King, Rhah, Lerner,
Sanderson, Manny, Big Harold - all the boys ... and then Barnes
staring quietly into the camera, and lastly Elias - shirt off,
bowl of grass in hand, his big, beautiful smile.