|8:30 First Letter to Grandma
CHRIS (Voice over as he digs) Somebody once wrote Hell is the
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 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 and 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…
14:30 Second Letter to Grandma
CHRIS (Voice over) … ‘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.
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 in the Second. I know this
is going to be the war of my generation. Well here I am- anonymous
all right, with the guys nobody really care 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 the 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.
Barnes turns his attention on the other villagers, his intentions apparent.
Everybody feel sthem. They’re next. Barnes is unperturbed,
very much in command of the situation, no rage, no emotions expressed.
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. They very
outrageousness of Barnes’ killing seems to quell all protest.
ACE (sensing the impending massacre) Hey Sarge can we get in on
Tony advances, the hairy Italian kid from Boston.
TONY Let’s go all the way, let’s go for it! Let’s do the
whole fucking village. Come
Chris’ eyes… Rodriguez next to him, neutral but willing.
Francis is hesitant.
Fu Sheng and Junior are ready to go for it. Lt. Wolfe is powerless,
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 is screaming.
BARNES This is his daughter, right?
Lerner nods. Barnes pulls his .45, puts it alongside her head.
BARNES (to the Village Chief) You lie… You Vee Cee…I caca dao
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!
Barnes looks around. They all look around.
Elias walks right up to him, followed by his men- King, Rhah, Crawford,
others form the rear party. He looks around. The corpse of
the Wife…the Young Daughter sobbing.
ELIAS WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING!
BARNES (pissed) Stay out of this Elias. This ain’t your
ELIAS YOU AIN’T A FIRING SQUAD, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!
The mock of his riffle 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 bloodfeast.
Most of the men seem to be pulling for Barnes- Chris just watching,
LT. WOLFE BREAK IT UP! ELIAS! BARNES!
But they both roll on, smashing each other’s faces in. Both quick,
fast, agile, mean fighters. Sgts. O’Neill and Warren drag them apart.
Wolfe and Big Harold jump in, hold them apart.
BARNES You’re dead, you’re fucking dead Elias!
ELIAS YOU- you’re going to fuckin’ jail, buddy, you ain’t getting
away with this
WOLFE All right! All right! All right!!! NOW BREAK IT UP.
58:00 Burning the Village
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.
TONY Take her up the ass…
As the 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.
CHRIS LET HER GO! YOU HEAR ME! YOU ASSHOLE! LET HER GO!
He strides right into them, shoves them off hard. The girl is
TONY What the fuck you want- she’s a dink.
CHRIS NO- YOU STUPID FUCK…DON’T…DON’T…YOU TOO BUNNY.
MORHOUSE. OFF! NO!…NO! DON’T…DON’T!
He seem 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’t they have any sense of a mind? Any kind of
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.
ELIAS … 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,
you know it till you die… that’s why the survivors remember. ‘Cause the
dead don’t let em forget.
CHRIS (Voice over) 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 others what we know and to try with what’s left of
our lives to find a goodness and meaning to this life…