"In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don't ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story." - Ben Bova [ more quotes ]

"PLATOON"

Screenplay by

Oliver Stone



FADE IN:

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.

TITLES RUN

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 like cardboard.

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. New meat. 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.

GARDNER
(next to Chris,
Southern accent)
That what I think it is?

SOLDIER 1
(a look)
I guess so...

An uncomfortable look between them.

SERGENT
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.

VETERANS
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 Chris.

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,
bandannas. A jungle army. Boys.

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 to Chris.

BARNES
What are you waiting for? He ain't
gonna bite you. Move out.

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.

HARRIS
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 get-ahead look.

LIEUTENANT WOLFE
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.

BARNES
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.

BARNES
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.

DOC
You okay?

CHRIS
Ants. I got ants on my neck...
(shaking them out)

DOC
(helping him)
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.

ELIAS
(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.

KING
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.

ELIAS
(concerned)
Hold it up.

On Chris - his eyes opening. He seems all right.

CHRIS
(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
claymore.

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.

FRANCIS
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 you.

King shrugs, a sleepy stoned voice.

KING
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 bandanna 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 frontal view.

LERNER
Mumm, any time sweetheart.

ELIAS
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.

CAPTAIN HARRIS
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...

LIEUTENANT WOLFE
(eager)
No problem sir...

EXT. PLATOON PERIMETER #1 - CHRIS' FOXHOLE - DUSK

Elsewhere, Chris scrapes out a foxhole, his shirt off,
bandanna 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.

JUNIOR
(a whining high voice)
Hey Big Harold, gimme your peaches
for the fruitcake man.

BIG HAROLD
(laughes loudly)
Fuck you bitch.

JUNIOR
C'mon man, didn't I do you right
that time I give you the turkey loaf
for the ham and lima beans shit.

BIG HAROLD
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 with.

JUNIOR
Youse a pig man. I hope Manny get
dat laundry gig for' you do.

BIG HAROLD
De fool think he's gonna get it but
he ain't known for his thinking.

JUNIOR
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.

JUNIOR
Hey Taylor, you don't know it but I
saved your ass today. I killed a
shit-eating dog.
(laughing)

BIG HAROLD
(getting up)
That reminds me, I gotta take a shit.

JUNIOR
You gonna wipe your ass dis time?

BIG HAROLD
Yeah if you let me have your shirt.

CHRIS
(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 skull.

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.

BARNES
(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)

O'NEILL
(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.

BARNES
Yeah, they got two Lieutenants and a
Captain.

WOLFE
Jesus.

Elias quiet. Barnes studying the map.

WOLFE
(to Barnes)
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.

BARNES
Elias - you take your squad and I'll
take Tex and Francis from your squad.
(to Warren)
We move out in two-zero mikes.
(concluding)

ELIAS
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.

O'NEILL
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.

ELIAS
(to Barnes)
They don't know shit Barnes, and
chances are we gonna run into
something.

O'NEILL
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!

ELIAS
Hey O'Neill why don't you cool it,
you don't have to be a prick everyday
of your life, you know.

O'NEILL
Fuck you Elias.

BARNES
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.

O'NEILL
(watching him)
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.

CUT TO:

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.

TEX
Shit, looks like rain. All night
too. Gonna grow mushrooms in your
bad-ass crotch Junior.

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...

CRAWFORD
What's O'Neill have a nose up the
lieutenant's ass already, how come
we always get ambush.

FRANCIS
Politics, man, politics. We always
getting fucked around here.

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.

GARDNER
Hey Chris, I show you a picture of
Lucy Jean?

CHRIS
(not to be bothered)
No...

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.

GARDNER
(admiring)
Yeah she's the one all right... that's
Lucy Jean. She's a-waiting for me.

CHRIS
(nodding)
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 stock.

ELIAS
(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.

TEX
Damn, 'Lias this gun's boss. Put
Taylor someplace else.

Chris feels the words like lashes on him.

ELIAS
You got Taylor...
(to Gardner)
...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 you.

His eyes. Chris watching them. A smile in them. Elias moves
off, a quality to the man that Chris admires. A natural sense
of leadership.

BARNES
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 minuscule 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
sound.

EXT. AMBUSH - CHRIS'S POSITION - NIGHT (RAIN)

Later. Close on Chris being shaken awake.

TEX
Taylor, you're on.

CHRIS
(groggy)
Uh hunh.

The rain continuing to pelt them. Tex hands him an infrared
scope.

TEX
(suspicious)
You sure you know how to work the
claymore?

CHRIS
(offended)
Sure.

Tex curls up as best he can in his poncho to sleep.

TEX
Okay... don't catch no zzz's on me
buddy or I'll sling your motherfucking
ass... You hear me?

CHRIS
(grits his teeth)
Yeah.
(looking at his watch)
Hey Tex - you're ten minutes fast.

TEX
Sin Loi.
('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.

CHRIS
Junior!

JUNIOR
Unh?... Unh.

CHRIS
Shaddup! You're snoring... Shhh.

Bending low into his eardrum. Junior never wakes, rolls over
with a growl. Silence.

CUT TO:

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 face.

CHRIS (V.O.)
(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
...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.

CHRIS
Wake up!

Junior opens one dead eye.

CHRIS
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 image.

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 shadow 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 listens.

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
grenade explosion.

Chris is hurled to the ground, helmet bouncing off, scattered,
confused, jarred. All hell breaks loose around him with NOISE
and SHOUTS.

Tex, kissing the ground, is yelling at him.

TEX
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 at him.

TEX
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, collapses.

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.

TEX
Feed me!

He lays out red tracer bullets like laser beams, then suddenly
reels back, whiplashed, screaming. A grenade explosion rocks
them.

TEX
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 time.

JUNIOR
(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!' Other SHOUTS.

SHOUTS
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.

TEX
(freaked out)
MY ARM! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!

DOC
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 big hypodermic.

VOICE
(next position)
Doc over here! Gardner's hit.

DOC
'Right there.

As he slips the morphine into Tex's arm.

TEX
(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.

JUNIOR
Oh shit, Doc he's hit too.

CHRIS
(weakly)
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.

JUNIOR
(to Barnes, pointing
at Chris)
That dumb fuck didn't blow his
claymore!

Chris hearing this. Barnes looks at him.

DOC
(to Chris)
...it's a scratch, nothing to worry
about.

CHRIS
(suspicious)
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.

JUNIOR
(to Barnes)
He let 'em walk right up on us. He
was sleeping on his shift.

CHRIS
(muttering weakly)
I was not... it was your...

DOC
(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.

BARNES
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,
reassuring him.

BIG HAROLD
You gonna be okay Taylor, okay, don't
you start worrying now.

Chris looking up at him, eyes blinking slowly, dazed already
by the morphine. He's very scared.

CHRIS
Do you... do you know you're gonna
die... Big Harold?... do you feel
like... like... everything's gonna
be fine and then...

BIG HAROLD
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 Taylor.

JUNIOR
(muttering darkly)
Don babytalk him man. Cocksucker
fell asleep. They walked right up on
us, he don do shit.

BIG HAROLD
Shaddup bitch.

Chris is gettin woozier, feeling he is dying but starting to
grin, not caring about it anymore. Yet he is nowhere close
to dying.

CHRIS
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, quivering.

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 enemy corpse.

BUNNY
(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.

FRANCIS
Shit I blew my claymore right in one
dude's face and I seen him walking
around afterwards.

MANNY
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.

ELIAS
Blood trail just keeps going and
going but no body.

BARNES
How the hell did he get away?

ELIAS
Fuckers returned fire soon as we lit
'em up. Hard core fuckin' NVA. They
got their shit together.

RING
(coming up to Barnes)
Sarge - Doc wants you. There's a
problem with the new man.

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.

DOC
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.

BARNES
(to all)
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 on.

CHRIS
(drowsy)
I didn't fall asleep, Sergeant,
Junior...

BUNNY
(pissed, cuts in,
shoves him hard)
Shut your face chicken shit! You in
big trouble boy!

O'NEILL
Excuses are like assholes, Taylor -
everybody got one.

ELIAS
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.

JUNIOR
(muttering)
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.

ELIAS
Man'd be alive if he'd had a few
more days to learn something.

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, recoilless
rifles, 50-caliber machine guns.

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.

KING
Hey Taylor, what's in the breeze?

In King's mild tone Chris tries to read his standing in the
platoon.

CHRIS
Okay - got light duty, three days.

KING
Shit, too bad we in base camp anyway.

CHRIS
What you got there - beers?

KING
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.

O'NEILL
Hey Taylor - you back?

CHRIS
(pause)
Uh, looks like it?

SANDERSON
(spotting King's beer)
Where'd you get that beer King?

KING
(a funny look)
I found it...

SANDERSON
You found it?... Bullshit! You going
on report. Gimmee that shit.

O'NEILL
Awright, come here both of you. You
too Taylor
(wags his finger)
Got a little special job for you.

They advance toward him reluctantly.

CHRIS
I got light duty, Sarge. Doctor said
to take it easy couple days.

O'NEILL
(laughes)
...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 pants.

Chris, King and Crawford, a California blond with a handsome
honeyed look, are sweating 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.

KING
(pissed)
...Motherfuckah, motherfuckah, I'm
too short to be dealing with this
shit! They keep fucking with us man,
no letup...

CRAWFORD
(equally pissed)
Politics man, fuckin' politics. That
O'Neill man got his nose so far up
Top's ass he gotta be Pinocchio...

KING
Forty-two days man and a wakeup and
I'm a gone motherfucker. Back to de
WORLD.
(dreaming in his eyes)

CRAWFORD
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...

KING
March man in Tennessee, sniff the
pines... sniff that crossmounted
pussy walkin' down by the river.
What you got Taylor?
(a snicker)
Let's see three hundred and WHAT?

CHRIS
...32. 332 days.

CRAWFORD
(groans)
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.

KING
(to Chris)
How the fuck you get over here man,
you look like you educated...

CHRIS
I volunteered.

KING
You WHAT? Say 'gain.

CHRIS
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.

CRAWFORD
You volunteered for this shit man?

KING
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.

CHRIS
Didn't make much sense. Wasn't
learning anything...
(hesitates)
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.

KING
What we got here a crusader?

CRAWFORD
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.

KING
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 bandage.

KING
You okay man? Neck botherin' you?

CHRIS
Nah...

KING
Here have some of this. Won't feel a
thing.

Chris looking at the joint, a little apprehensive. He's never
smoked.

CHRIS
No, thanks...

KING
Go on, whatcha gotta lose, yo' here
now...

CRAWFORD
Kills the smell of shit anyway.

The joint proferred. Chris waits a beat, shrugs, takes it,
smokes.

KING
Suck it in. Hold it... That's it.
Now let it out.

Chris blows it out.

CHRIS
Don't feel it.

King and Crawford chuckle, go on rolling the cans.

KING
Dat's what they all say.

CUT TO:

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 blue sky.

They watch, stoned. Chris turns to both of them.

CHRIS
...you know that night we got hit...
I...
(ashamed)

KING
Fuck it, don't mean nothing, no such
thing here as a coward, done your
best man, next time y'do better.

CRAWFORD
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.

CHRIS
(deadpans)
I think I'm starting to feel that
stuff...

Crawford laughes.

KING
(laughs)
Yo getting there Taylor. You be cool
now and I'll introduce you 'round to
some of the 'heads'.

CHRIS
What are the heads?

KING
(laughes, walks away
with Crawford)
Later...

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, paraphernalia.

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 judgment in this smoky underworld.

Across his naked chest, birds and snakes are tattooed. 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.

RHAH
Whatcha doing in the underworld
Taylor?

KING
(smiling)
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.

RHAH
You lame Taylor?

CHRIS
What?

RHAH
You lame or something?

KING
(smiling)
...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.

RHAH
Your shit's in the wind troop.
Baaaaah!

Lerner replies, his tongue hanging out in parody.

LERNER
And Baaaaaaa! back on you.

RHAH
(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 muster.

RHAH
Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

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.

LERNER
I didn't like it.

RHAH
Bah, you're a child, Lerner. Rhah
don't waste time on you.

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.

ELIAS
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 laughs 'hey
dude - you done had your ass blown away' etc...

Elias smiles his big white-tooth smile.

ELIAS
First time?

CHRIS
Yeah.

ELIAS
Then the worm has definately turned
for you man.

Chris puzzled by this expression.

ELIAS
(smiles)
Feel good?

CHRIS
(a sense of euphoria
now)
Yeah. No pain in my neck now. Feels
good.

ELIAS
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 laughs.

ELIAS
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 ear.

LERNER
Shit. Sold me out for some lame dude
with a 4-F.

ELIAS
What'd you say her name was again?

LERNER
(recalling her image)
Daisy Mae.

BIG HAROLD
Hey look at Charlotte!

The monkey is sitting quietly stoned, its eyes blinking.
Laughter off.

ELIAS
Daisy Mae! What Daisy Mae look like
Crutcher?

MANNY
She look huge and got freckles on
her ass.

LERNER
She look beautiful.

FRANCIS
How much she weigh man?

BIG HAROLD
She braid her hair under her armpits,
Crutcher.

FRANCIS
(sarcastic)
Daisy Mae what?

KING
Daisy Mae Highway, that's what.
(laughing)
Well whatcha want, Lerner, your dick
been limp for a year, 'cept when
you're bopping your buddy Tony up
there.

LERNER
Fuck that.

ELIAS
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.
(remembering)

The look on his face ensnares all of them, except perhaps
Rhah.

MANNY
What happened man. What whorehouse
you go to?

ELIAS
No whorehouse man. On the beach.

FRANCIS
Sure.

ELIAS
Yeah, sure. She walked right by me.
Long black hair, tits swinging. Ass
like French bread. Legs don't end
right.

LERNER
(skeptical)
You can plant that shit in Tennessee
man, but it won't come up in Texas.

CRAWFORD
So what she got, hair on her tits.

ELIAS
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...

BIG HAROLD
I know dat feeling...

ELIAS
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.

KING
And?

ELIAS
Well she was picking up her kids.

MANNY
Dat's dat.

ELIAS
No, dat ain't dat.

FRANCIS
Get outta here, she married...

ELIAS
Like two hogs in heat. Boy.

Their throats knotting...

CHRIS
(joining in)
...But what'd she do?

ELIAS
What didn't she do. She fucked the
living shit outta me, that's what
she did!

CRAWFORD
(sucking in air)
Jesus!

ELIAS
Couldn't get enuff...

CHRIS
But what'd she actually do?

ELIAS
She was a crossbreed, Chinese and
Polish.

BIG HAROLD
What dat?

RHAH
(finally hooked in)
And living in Hawaii man?

ELIAS
Yeah - and has blonde hair and almond-
shaped eyes.

FRANCIS
Hey man didn't you say she had black
hair?

ELIAS
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.

DOC
Yeah!

CHRIS
God!

BIG HAROLD
Please, somebody hold my dick!

ELIAS
(in afterthought)
...and a broken nose.

DOC
Broken man?

ELIAS
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.

LERNER
Susan?

MANNY
Tamara?

CHRIS
Elizabeth?

Elias shaking his head, trying to remember.

KING
Merle?

RHAH
Merle? Jesus!... Patty?

BIG HAROLD
Inga?

CHRIS
Jennifer?

HOYT
Connie?

Elias snapping his fingers.

ELIAS
Dawn! That was it!

CHRIS
(repeating it)
Dawn...

King listening to the sound of it.

KING
Dawn?

The others nodding, musing over it.

BIG HAROLD
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.

BUNNY
(listening to the
music)
Listen to that shit, that's good
shit!

JUNIOR
(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?

BUNNY
(doesn't understand a
word of it)
Whaddaya talking shit for man. Hey
Junior! Y'ever smoke any shit?

JUNIOR
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 yoke.

BUNNY
(lonely in his way
for company)
Say I can dig it. Smoke that shit
everything kinda gets weird y'know?
(hiccups, sits)
Y'hear that story the gooks is putting
chemicals in the grass so's we become
'pacifists' so's we don fight
(to no one in
particular)
Where the hell's everybody, they'se
gettin high that's what - bunch of
hopheads, they think they special...

JUNIOR
(turns away, bored)
Don you worry Bunny, youse a killer
anyway.

BUNNY
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.

JUNIOR
Youse so fucked up man.

BUNNY
Y'ever look at yoself in the mirror
Junior, youse uglier than a dick on
a dog man.
(laughing)

JUNIOR
Yeah, you had a piece of pussy on a
plate in front of you, you'd probably
kill it.

BUNNY
Shit, I bet I been laid more'n you
have.

JUNIOR
Sure, you probably stick it in tween
her knees and think youse there.

BUNNY
Yeah?

JUNIOR
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.

LIEUTENANT WOLFE
(amiable)
How you doing Rodriguez?

RODRIGUEZ
Good sir.

WOLFE
Need anything?

RODRIGUEZ
No sir.

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.

WOLFE
(to O'Neill)
How's it going Red?
(using his nickname)

O'NEILL
Shit, cocksucker's got all the cards
tonight.

WOLFE
(to Barnes)
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.

BARNES
Yeah, and I ain't even cheating yet.

SANDERSON
(the big blond kid)
Have some Kentucky windage Lieutenant.
(passes him the bottle
of bourbon)

Wolfe takes a nip.

BARNES
Play Lieutenant?

WOLFE
Nah, I wouldn't want to get raped by
you guys...

O'NEILL
What are you saving up to be
Lieutenant - Jewish?

Laughs. 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.

WOLFE
Catch you men later. Enjoy yourselves.

As he goes, O'Neill shakes his head after him.

O'NEILL
Sorry ass motherfucker ain't he. You
think he gonna make it Barnes?

Barnes plays a card, glances, a minute movement of his head.

O'NEILL
Yeah that's what I figger. Some dudes
you jes' look in their faces and you
KNOW they just ain't gonna make it.

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
(singing)
'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.

ALL
'...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 family.

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.

ALL
'...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.

CHRIS (V.O.)
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'.

BARNES
Pssst!

The signal for silence. Chris freezes. Barnes edging up to
him.

BARNES
(whispers)
Bunker...

CHRIS
Where?

Doesn't see it. Following Barnes' imperceptible movement of
his head.

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.

CUT TO:

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, smiling.

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
booby traps.

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 over it.

Chris frozen with dread.

The snake crawls on, pulling its long, long 15 foot body
behind it.

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.

SANDERSON
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.

SAL
(a worried type)
Leave it willya - it's gook shit.

SANDERSON
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, branches, 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 POSITION - 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.

BARNES
Corpsman!

He runs over to Sal, gets a hold of his face in a vicelike
grip, enraged, tries to yell some sense into him.

BARNES
(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.

DOC
Holy Jesus!

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.

ELIAS
Tell Six we need engineers here,
this pos. is crawling with traps.

WOLFE
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 personally.

EXT. NVA BUNKER - MAIN POSITION - DAY

Chris watches him from outside the bunker, awed.

Barnes notices Chris watching him, takes a breath, stands.

BARNES
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

O'NEILL
Where's Manny?

WARREN
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.

FRANCIS
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
(whispering loudly)
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.

CHRIS (V.O.)
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 expression.

CHRIS (V.O.)
...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.

BUNNY
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.

TONY
There goes one!

Their POV - a young VILLAGER fleeing down the slope.

Barnes doesn't hesitate, nails him with a short volley of
well-placed shots.

BARNES
(to Tony)
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.

BARNES
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.

BARNES
(to Harold)
Put'em in the pig pen.
(to Hoyt)
There's more down there. Gimme your
Willy Pete.

Hoyt, with reluctance in his eyes, hands over a specially
shaped grenade.

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 come out.

BARNES
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.

FU SHENG
(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.

CHRIS
La Dai! La Dai! GET THE FUCK OUTTA
THERE!

FRANCIS
Hey take it easy man. They're scared.

CHRIS
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 OUTTA THERE!

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 rice 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.

SGT. WARREN
(to Barnes)
...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.

BARNES
(to Warren)
...bring the honcho over here.
(to Tubb and Junior)
Burn it.

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.

BUNNY
Hey look at this! Ma and Pa Kettle
here. Look at them - greasy gook
motherfuckers!

CHRIS
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 can understand.

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.

BUNNY
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.

CHRIS
(demonic)
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 himself, recognizes.

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.

FRANCIS
(leaves)
Let's get out of here man.

But Bunny takes up the slack, moves forward on the young
man.

BUNNY
(to Chris)
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.

BUNNY
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!

O'NEILL
(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.

O'NEILL
(stunned)
Hey what are you doing!

BUNNY
Fucker!

The young man is groaning on the floor of the hutch. Bunny
smashes him - again and again.

BUNNY
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.

BUNNY
(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.

BUNNY
Betcha the old bitch runs the whole
show. Probably helped cut Manny's
throat. Probably cut my balls off if
she could.
(to Chris)
Come on, man, let's do her.

She cowers from him. Chris steps back, horrified. As is
O'Neill, more puzzled than horrified.

BUNNY
(hitting her again)
Let's zap all these motherfuckers!
Let's do the whole village!

He backs out of the hutch, scared. Evidently Bunny is
temporarily insane. But he spots O'Neill, yells at him.

BUNNY
GET BACK HERE YOU FUCKING COWARD
O'NEILL. THIS IS FOR SANDY... THIS
IS FOR SANDY MAN! AND SAL! AND MANNY!

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.

BARNES
Where'd he get these wounds?

Lerner translates, the man talking back.

LERNER
He says he was hit in a bombing raid.

TONY
He's a dink fo sure.

BARNES
Ask him what the weapons are doing
here?

LERNER
He says they had no choice. The NVA
killed the old honcho when he said
no. He says the rice is theirs.

BARNES
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.

LERNER
...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.

BARNES
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)

ACE
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.

LERNER
(finally)
He swears he doesn't know anything!
He hates the NVA but they come when
they want and...

JUNIOR
He's lying through his teeth!

TONY
Waste the fucker, then see who talks.

BARNES
What's the bitch saying?

LERNER
(overwhelmed)
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 in some way, but do nothing against the power of
Barnes. Barnes walks over to the pig pen with the other
Villagers, very casually, confronts them.

BARNES
(to Lerner)
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 of pain.

BARNES
Go ahead, Lerner, ask him.

A group of Villagers huddle to one side.

Lerner, shaken, is yelling at all of them, demanding an
answer.

LERNER
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 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. The
very outrageousness of Barnes' killing seems to quell all
protest.

ACE
(sensing the impending
massacre)
Hey Sarge can we get in on this.

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 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
powerless, frozen.

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.

BARNES
This his daughter, right?

Lerner nods. Barnes pulls his .45, puts it alongside her
head.

BARNES
(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 is Elias.

ELIAS
BARNES!!

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.

ELIAS
WHAT THE FUCK YOU DOING!

BARNES
(pissed)
Stay out of this Elias. This ain't
your show.

ELIAS
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
bloodfeast.

Most of the men seem to be pulling for Barnes - Chris just
watching neutral.

LIEUTENANT WOLFE
BREAK IT UP! ELIAS! BARNES!

But they roll on, smashing each other's faces in. Both quick,
fast, agile, mean fighters. Sgts. O'Neill and Warren drag
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 one!!!!!

WOLFE
All right! All right! All right!!!
NOW BREAK IT UP. LET'S GO...

They compose themselves, the Villagers looking on, grieving
over their loss.

WOLFE
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.

ELIAS
(to Wolfe)
Why the fuck didn't you do something
Lieutenant!

WOLFE
What are you talking about!
(turns away, goes
about his business)

ELIAS
(spins him around)
You know what I'm talking about!

WOLFE
No I don't. I don't know what the
fuck you're talking about, Elias!
(goes)

Who wants to be reminded? A silence of shame. The Men moving
away, Warren, Ace, Tony, Rodriguez, Barnes looking back once,
a cold glare.

The Village Chief is a broken-looking man, huddled over his
wife's body.

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.

KING
Whew! - where that come from?

RHAH
Found it. Growing in a garden.

KING
(smokes)
Sheeit, beats burning hutches
anyway...

They meditatively look out at the Village - burning hutches
sending up spirals of smoke. Shouts. Shots. Chaos.

RHAH
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.

TONY
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.

CHRIS
LET HER GO! YOU HEAR ME! YOU ASSHOLE!
LET HER GO!

He strides right into them, shoves them off hard. The girl
is in tears.

TONY
What the fuck you want - she's a
dink.

CHRIS
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't they
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.

CHRIS
(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.

ELIAS
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 soaking in her nether regions. Chris
slings her up as gently as he can and carries her.

CHRIS
(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, Elias, Captain Harris, Barnes, Lt. Wolfe are
huddled. Close on Harris, looking from face to face, assuming
a judicial attitude.

CAPTAIN HARRIS
...and you Lieutenant?

LIEUTENANT WOLFE
I didn't see anything sir.

ELIAS
I did.

LIEUTENANT WOLFE
That dink was reported to me as NVA
sir by Sergeant Barnes. Sergeant
Barnes.

Squirreling out of any responsibility.

ELIAS
My report sir, will include Lt. Wolfe
as being witness to the shooting...

CAPTAIN HARRIS
All right, Elias. Sergeant Barnes, I
want a report from you...

BARNES
You got it sir - and I can throw in
plenty of eye-witnesses if you want
sir...

HARRIS
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.
(continuing)
First Platoon will lead... Brigade
thinks they might be back there
tomorrow. That's all... Get some
rest.
(turns away)

Barnes, Elias eye each other and move off.

EXT. PERIMETER #2 - DUSK

Wolfe walks alongside Barnes.

WOLFE
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.

BARNES
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.

O'NEILL
How'd it go.

Banres shrugs.

BUNNY
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.

O'NEILL
(worried)
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 the back.

BUNNY
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.

RHAH
I know Barnes six months and I'll
tell ya something - that man is MEAN,
red in his soul like a dick on a
dog.

KING
Barnes gets killed, his jaws'd go on
clacking...

CHRIS
Where's he from?

RHAH
Barnes comes from Hell.

LERNER
Tennessee someplace. Hill country.

RHAH
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 dramatically. Chris, enthralled in spite
of himself.

KING
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...

RHAH
...and you know how many times he
done been shot?
(Chris shakes his
head)
Seven times!
(with his fingers)
Seven.

CHRIS
And he still wanted to come back?

LERNER
Does a pee wee wanna take a wee wee?

RHAH
The Good Lord works his revenge in
strange ways.

KING
Yeah, you done said it. Revenge on
US.

CHRIS
Does he have a metal plate in his
head?

RHAH
(smiles)
You mean he's crazy? No more crazy'n
the rest of us been out in the bush
too long.

LERNER
Well he ain't normal that's fo sure.

RHAH
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.

RHAH
...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.
(pause)
...and this here's Elias... Baaaa!

The other knuckle is out - 'LOVE' tattooed across it. Rhah
smiles his crazy smile. Chris stares fascinated at the two
knuckles side by side. A moment on his face.

KING
Love, yeah!

LERNER
(makes a cuckoo sign)
Here we go again with the crazy
preacher stuff. Rhah seen too many
movies.

RHAH
Baaa, got no time to go to the movies.
Love and Hate too busy fighting for
possession of my soul.

CHRIS
Where's Elias come from?

RHAH
(interjecting)
'Lias come naturally.

LERNER
...don't know. Done some time. Heard
he worked the oil wells in Oklahoma,
made some bread and washed up in El
Lay.

KING
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.

RHAH
Not the only man to meet his Jezebel
either.

KING
So he got a reduced and come over
here. Nam's his freedom man, Nam's
his pussy. Three years he been here.

CHRIS
Three years, Jesus, he's crazy as
Barnes...

KING
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 -

LERNER
(to Chris)
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...

RHAH
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 change...

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.

CHRIS
...I can't sleep, why don't you get
some sack time.

ELIAS
...don't feel like it either.

CHRIS
...beautiful night.

ELIAS
Yeah. I love this place at night.
The stars... there's no right or
wrong in them, they're just there.

CHRIS
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.

CHRIS
Barnes got it in for you, don't he?

ELIAS
(philosophically)
Barnes believes in what he's doing.

CHRIS
And you, do you believe?

ELIAS
In '65 - yeah. Now...
(pause)
No. What happened today's just the
beginning. We're gonna lose this
war...

CHRIS
(surprised)
You really think so... us?

Elias' eyes seem to go to some inner place, his passion
surging.

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...

He plants his fist in Chris' gut, expelling his breath such
is the force of the blow - like a power passed between them.

ELIAS
...you know it till you die... that's
why the survivors remember. 'Cause
the dead don't let em forget.

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 stars.

ELIAS
Oh shit! Sometimes there's things in
my head... man. Grass does that to
me, fucks me all up like a crazy
Indian...

CHRIS
Do you believe that stuff about...
knowing you're gonna die?

ELIAS
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.

CHRIS
...You ever think about reincarnation,
all that stuff?

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.

ELIAS
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.
(soft)
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 eyes.

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.

HAROLD
Shit, lookit this little fucker trying
to get up ma glory hole.

FRANCIS
Hey Big Harold, put dat in your turkey
loaf it won't come out your back
end.

KING
(ribbing)
Yeah, big boy, thought you had that
laundry gig all laid out?

BIG HAROLD
(pissed)
Shit, got to paint myself white get
one of dem jobs. Get ma request in
for a circumcision.

KING
Gonna be a rabbi man?

FRANCIS
Gonna cut your pecker down to size
hunh Big Harold?

BIG HAROLD
Dat's okay wid me, better to have a
small one den no one at all.

KING
Your girlfriends gonna look for new
lovers, man. Best thing a bro's got's
his flap.

HAROLD
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.

FRANCIS
You gonna get some for me back in
the World, Harold? Whatcha gonna do?
(dreaming of it)

HAROLD
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.

RHAH
...you got one right there.

Chris feels for, finds the leech on the edge of his lip,
cursing under his breath.

LIEUTENANT WOLFE
(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.

FU SHENG
Don't drink that asshole. You're
gonna get malaria.

JUNIOR
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.

LERNER
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.

SGT. WARREN
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.

O'NEILL
DOC, UP HERE! Lerner's hit!...

More machine gun fire.

FRANCIS
DOC! Over here - we got... one...
two down. Warren's hit.

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.

CHRIS
What's going on?

O'NEILL
Shit they got RPG's on our ass.
Fucking ambush - they was waiting
for us to break trail!

KING
WATCH OUT! ROCKET!

Another rocket whistling in. A huge roar. Trees shredded,
dirt, dust rising.

CHRIS
Who's on point?

O'NEILL
Lerner and Warren.

Chris uses his M-16 to lever himself up into a crouch and
suddenly dashes forward, passing Rhah.

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.

BARNES
Goddamit, you assholes get fucking'
firepower out there!
(to Hoyt on radio)
Get Two Bravo up here. Get me a gun.
(to others)
Spread it out! More to the flanks!
Look for a fuckin' target!

Another explosion.

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.

CHRIS
(to Francis)
Where's Lerner?

FRANCIS
(terrified)
Out there man - behind the log.

Looking. A body - moaning, sort of moving, wriggling, as if
trying to escape the pain.

CHRIS
Oh Jesus!

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.

CHRIS
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 live gook.

Chris tears off a volley at him but the gook disappears in
the hole. This is the moment, 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.

CHRIS
Gator! Gator!
(Lerner groans)
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 fire mission.

WOLFE
(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...

RADIO VOICE
Rog, Two Bravo. Solid copy, stand by
for shot, out.

ACE
Sir, Bravo Three is inbound from the
Sierra Whiskey. Should be here in
two zero mikes if'n they don' hit
any shit.

WOLFE
Fuckin' A!

Elias runs up to him. Fire all around, incoming and outgoing,
makes them yell to each other.

ELIAS
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...
(pointing)
I can work right up on 'em...

Wolfe unsure, looks up for the artillery.

WOLFE
(to Ace)
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.

ELIAS
Look, Lootenant...

Wolfe looks up, relieved as Barnes splashes into the CP group.
Thunder peals.

BARNES
(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.

ELIAS
(yelling back)
Barnes, listen to me... there's 5-6
spiderholes back there
(points)
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.

WOLFE
Sounds pretty far out to me 'Lias.

ELIAS
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 that flank.

BARNES
(a look)
Take off, but keep your radio here.

Elias goes, stops, looks at Barnes...

ELIAS
...You keep pouring out that
suppressing fire, Barnes. I don't
wanna be caught out there with my
ass hanging out you hear me?

BARNES
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.

ACE
Sir! Shot out. Arty's on the way!

BARNES
(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)

BIG HAROLD
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.

BARNES
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, grimaces 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.

BUNNY
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 can handle.

CHRIS
Take care of him Doc! Please!

Doc looking at him, a dark look of hopelessness. Lerner is a
mess, groaning, reaching for Chris' hand.

LERNER
...don't... don't leave me man...

A look between them. Rhah interjecting.

RHAH
Taylor - get your ass over here.
Move!

CHRIS
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 him.

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 cringing Junior.

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.

BARNES
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.

BARNES
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 ground.

ELIAS
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.

ELIAS
They're coming...

Chris looking at Rhah. How does he know?

Elias points out an imaginary line across the breaking mist.

ELIAS
Stagger yourselves across this line,
shoot anything that moves. They'll
be coming from here.

RHAH
(team leader)
Gotcha.

ELIAS
One of them gets through it's
curtains.

RHAH
Where you going?

ELIAS
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.

CHRIS
I'll go with you.

ELIAS
No... I move faster alone.
(a grin)

Elias, his pack stripped, is gone, like a fleet leaf,
vanishing into the Jungle.

RHAH
(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.

BARNES
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.
(Ace transmits)

WOLFE
What about Elias? We pull back they'll
be cut off. He needs cover fire.

BARNES
(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.

CHRIS
GET EM!!!!!

Rhah and Crawford open up. A rachet of sound, one of the
figures 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.

CHRIS
(ecstatic)
Yeah! I got two of them fuckers...

RHAH
I got one...

CHRIS
...See them go down? Like fuckin'
target practice man, fuck you
Charlie!! Ho Chi Minh sucks dead
dick!... Crawford!
(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.

CHRIS
Oh man!... man!

Attending him. Rhah runs up.

RHAH
Looks like a lung babe. But you're
gonna be all right, you only need
one of them fuckers.

CRAWFORD
Oh shit man I never thought I'd get
hit, I was...
(gagging)

RHAH
Stay cool. We gonna carry you out.

Barnes appears, running towards them, looking down at
Crawford, at Rhah.

RHAH
Sarge, 'bout five gooks tried to...

BARNES
Where's Elias?

RHAH
...came through right over there. We
got three of them, we...

BARNES
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.

CHRIS
(indicating jungle)
...but 'Lias is still out there.

BARNES
I'll get him. You get the man in,
Taylor
(indicating Crawford)
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.

BARNES
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 next position.

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 mutters 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 they came.

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.

RHAH
Taylor!

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 jungle.

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 foliage shaking.

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 even there.

BARNES
Elias is dead. Join up with the
platoon. Move it.

CHRIS
(shocked)
He's dead! Where?... You saw him?

BARNES
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.

WOLFE
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.

KING
Man, you gonna be in Japan this time
tomorrow, Big Harold.

BIG HAROLD
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 suddenly fix on something.
He can't believe it. He shoves King, points. King sees it.
Both stunned.

Barnes is looking. So's Lt. Wolfe, so's Ace. So's the Door
Gunner.

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 Elias is.

Incoming rounds are hitting the chopper. The Door Gunner
maniacally firing.

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 treeline.

Elias crumbling to the ground. Obviously dead or dying.

HELICAPTAIN ON RADIO
...we still got one on the deck.
Bring the gunships in.

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
impassioned tonight.

CHRIS
He killed him. I know he did. I saw
his eyes when he came back in...

RADIO VOICE
(puffing on his bowl)
How do you know the dinks didn't get
him. You got no proof man.

CHRIS
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.

KING
I go with dat, an eye for an eye
man.

DOC
Right on, nothing wrong with Barnes
another shot in the head wouldn't
cure.

RHAH
(to Chris)
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.

CHRIS
Then what do you suggest big shot?

RHAH
(to Chris)
I suggest you watch your own asses
cause Barnes gonna be down on ALL OF
'EM.

FRANCIS
How you figger that?

RHAH
Shit man - Human nature.

Flashes the old knuckle - 'HATE'.

KING
Then you jes gonna forget 'bout Elias
and all the good times we done had?
Right in here.

RHAH
He dugged his own grave.

DOC
(correcting)
He dug it.

RHAH
He DUGGED it too.

CHRIS
Fuck this shit!

RHAH
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. Baaaaaaaaa!
(a vehement movement
of his head)

CHRIS
You're wrong man! Any way you cut it
Rhah, Barnes is a murderer.

KING
Right on.

RHAH
I remember first time you came in
here Taylor you telling me how much
you admired that bastard.

CHRIS
I was wrong.

RHAH
(snorts)
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.

BARNES
(soft)
Talking 'bout killing?

He totters slightly as he circles the outer edge of the hutch.
No one talks.

BARNES
Y'all experts? Y'all know about
killing?

He takes the bowl from Adams, smokes it.

BARNES
You pussies gotta smoke this shit
so's you can hide from reality?...
(smokes again)
Me I don't need that shit. I AM
reality.

Confronting Chris, he moves on, taunting them all.

BARNES
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 the floor.

BARNES
Y'all loved Elias, want to kick ass,
I'se here - all by my lonesome, nobody
gonna know. Five you boys 'gainst
me?
(pause, very soft)
Kill me.

Almost an appeal - naked, intense. Rhah, Francis, Doc look
away.

King, the biggest one there, is about to say something, but
the moment passes.

Chris waits, his anger on the rise.

Barnes takes a swigger from the whiskey, then turns away
contemptuously.

BARNES
I SHIT on all o' you.

CHRIS
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 cocksucker!!!

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 floor.

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.

RHAH
EASY BARNES, EASY MAN!!!

Barnes is on the verge - about to kill again.

Chris waiting.

Rhah coaxing him, moving closer.

RHAH
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.

BARNES
(contemptuous)
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.

CHRIS (V.O.)
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 Regiment.

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 and Francis.

ACE
...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.

DOC
Shit, so what the fuck are we doing
here? Why don't we move...
(no answer)
Bad vibes, man, I got bad vibes here.
Where are the new guys they provided
us anyway.

TONY
I heard we's in Cambodia right fuckin'
NOW.

FRANCIS
You kidding man...

Rhah comes up, a walking stick in hand, huge pirate kerchief
on his head, semi-naked.

RHAH
You wanted to see me sir?

WOLFE
Jackson, looks like you got Elias'
squad now.

RHAH
Squad? I didn't know we was still
referring to this platoon in terms
of squads sir.
(with a snicker for
Ace and Doc)

WOLFE
(indicating a rough
drawing in the dirt)
These two holes are yours...

RHAH
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...

WOLFE
I don't want to hear your problems,
Jackson. You'll get new men any day.
Time being you make do like everybody
else.

RHAH
Hey Lieutenant I didn't ask for this
job, I...

WOLFE
(leaves)
I don't want to hear about it Jackson.

RHAH
(amazed, looking off
at him)
You don't want to hear about it?

WOLFE
(turns)
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.

RHAH
(shrugs, to himself)
Right...

WOLFE
(passing Ace digging
the CP hole)
This is one time we could sure use
Elias.

ACE
(to Doc)
'Some people say I'm wishy washy.
Maybe I am. Maybe I ain't.'

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.

KING
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.

KING
(noticing 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.

KING
What about your folks? That grandma
you was telling me about?...

Chris shakes his head.

KING
Girl?

Chris' eyes answer negatively.

KING
Must be somebody?

CHRIS
...there's nobody.

KING
(shifts, uncomfortable)
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...

CHRIS
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.

KING
(soft)
'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...'

CHRIS
Y'ever get caught in a mistake King
and you just can't get out of it?

KING
Way out of anything, man. Just keep
your pecker up, your powder dry, the
worm WILL turn. How many days you
short?

CHRIS
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.

KING
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.

O'NEILL
Get your gear together, King, your
orders just come through.

KING
(speechless)
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
slack Taylor!
(dances)

O'NEILL
Collect your shit and move out King.
You got 10 minutes make the last
chopper. Cee ess em oh or your ass
is mine.
(to Taylor)
Francis is coming over.
(hurries off)

King packing up, double time. Chris comes over, helps him,
trying to share his happiness but not succeeding.

CHRIS
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,
man. Anytime!

KING
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 other again.

CHRIS
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.

TONY
Rumor goin' round is they got tanks.
Soviet shit, T-34's...
(pause)
Hey Rodriguez, don't you ever say
nothing?

RODRIGUEZ
(a thick Mexican accent)
What do you want me to say, it's all
the same ol' shit.

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.

BARNES
So what's the problem?

O'NEILL
Says he can't walk.

BARNES
Shit. Get your boots on Martin, next
time I catch you putting mosquito
repellent on your fuckin' feet I'm
gonna courtmartial your nigger ass.

JUNIOR
(cracks)
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.

BARNES
(suddenly soft)
Get me that centipede, O'Neill.

O'Neill is puzzled. What centipede?

O'NEILL
Sarge?

BARNES
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 suspicion and sudden terror, his
demeanor totally alert now.

O'NEILL
(understanding)
Oh yeah, right away Sarge.

JUNIOR
No! Wait! I'll walk, fuck you I'll
walk, I don't need this shit! I don't
need this shit!

BUNNY
Fucking pussy, fuck it Sarge, I gotta
have him on my hole?

Barnes going. O'Neill catching up with him.

O'NEILL
Uh... Bob. Like to speak to you.
Take a minute.

BARNES
(stops)
Yeah, what is it?

O'NEILL
(shuffles, reluctant)
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)

BARNES
I can't do that for you, Red... We
need every swinging dick in the field.
Sorry bout that...
(starts to go)

O'NEILL
(pleads)
Hey Bob, come on! Talk to me hunh,
it's your friend Red, I'm only asking
you for three days chief...

BARNES
I'm talking to you Red and I'm telling
you no. Get back to your position.

O'NEILL
(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?

BARNES
(quietly)
...everybody gotta die sometime Red...
Get back to your foxhole.

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 daylight.

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.

SMOKING MAN
Got a light?

CHRIS
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.

SMOKING MAN
...later.

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.

BUNNY
...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...
(chuckles)

Junior looks at him like he's really crazy. Back to the
distant firing.

JUNIOR
(pissed now)
Fuck! I gotta be on this hole with
YOU man. I just know I shouldna come!

Bunny finds it funny, laughs.

BUNNY
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 radio.

HARRIS
Bravo Three Alpha! Send me a grid.
Send me a grid, over!

A young inexperienced VOICE screams back into the radio amid
intense background FIRING filtered by radio and sounding
disembodied.

RADIO VOICE
We're pinned down sir, they're in
the fucking trees! The trees -

HARRIS
OK, Three Alpha, calm down now, son.
I'm gonna get you a fire mission
ASAP. Smoke'll be first...

RADIO VOICE
(panic)
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!

HARRIS
(calming him)
...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.

HARRIS
Bravo Three Alpha six. How bout those
rounds son? Can you adjust fire?
(waits)
Three Alpha, if you can't talk, just
key the handset twice over.
(waits)
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 shocked.

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.

FRANCIS
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.

CHRIS
Trip flares!... Rodriguez's hole.

Rat-tat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat. Machine gun, outgoing, followed
by a sharp explosion. A ROCKET!

CHRIS
RPGs! Shit!

VOICE
(crying)
MEDIC!! DOC! DOC!

A FIGURE thrashes up through the foliage behind them.

RHAH
(a fierce whisper)
Taylor! Francis!

CHRIS
Over here!

Rhah jumps into their hole with them, out of breath.

CHRIS
Rhah! What's going on. Rodriguez's
hole just got...

RHAH
(gets his breath)
Okay, here it is - one, we got gooks
in the fuckin' perimeter.

FRANCIS
Oh shit! Dat's it, dat's it...

RHAH
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 down on their parachute hinges
throughout the ensuing battle. The perimeter is illuminated
at spotty intervals - sometimes arctic bright, sometimes
unexplainably 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 ways.

RHAH
...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 if desperate.

Francis, tense, is about to pop his grenade when Chris grabs
him.

CHRIS
Hold it!
(loud whisper)
WHO IS IT!

But the body keeps coming, lurching now, falling.

FRANCIS
Come on man!

CHRIS
No!

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.

TERRIFIED SOLDIER
DON'T SHOOT! DON'T SHOOT!

CHRIS
It's the ambush!
(calling out)
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 beneath him.

He is sweating, terrified, a white boy with an unrecognizable,
filthy face, no rifle, no helmet, his fatigues torn all over.

TERRIFIED SOLDIER
Water! Water!

Chris gives him his canteen, his shoulder and neck hurting
from the collision. The Soldier sucks down the canteen.

TERRIFIED SOLDIER
(between gulps)
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?

FRANCIS
(points)
Back there.

The Soldier struggling out of the foxhole.

TERRIFIED SOLDIER
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.

FRANCIS
Taylor, let's di-di man!

Chris adjusting position, facing the front, anger in his
voice.

CHRIS
You go.

Francis hesitates, stays.

INT. PERIMETER #3 - BATTALION CP - NIGHT

At the Battalion CP, the Major is inside his BUNKER, busy
between his radio nets.

MAJOR
(to RTO 1)
Get me Bravo!

RTO 2
Charlie Company reports hand to hand
on the perimeter sir. Three holes
are down. They need help!

MAJOR
(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.

RTO 1
(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 angle.

MASTER SERGEANT
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.

SOLDIER #3
SAPPERS!

SOLDIER #4
THE BUNKER!

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
Major.

RTO 3
SIR!!

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 flame, stunned.

CHRIS
Oh no!

EXT. PERIMETER #3 COMPANY CP - NIGHT

In their foxhole, Chris points.

CHRIS
There!

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.

CHRIS
(to Francis, a whisper)
Out of the hole! Fast!

Chris crawls out, stops, looks back. Francis won't leave,
hugs the shelter.

CHRIS
(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
movement.

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 fire.

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.

CHRIS
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.

FRANCIS
(joining in the frenzy)
YAAAAAHHHH!!!! KILLLLL!!!

Then stunned again to see Chris suddenly rise up out of the
foxhole and charging forward into the jungle. He is now over
the edge.

CHRIS
(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.

BUNNY
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.

BUNNY
(laying out more fire)
Come on you can do better than that!

JUNIOR
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.

BUNNY
(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:

NVA SOLDIER
Diiiiikaaeeeeeee!

And jumps right into the hole blasting Bunny point-blank in
the chest.

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 bits.

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 belly gas.

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.

ACE
Negative contact. Can't raise Barnes,
Two Bravo, Two Charlie, nothin'!

WOLFE
Get me Six!

Nervously aiming his rifle as a man comes running towards
them, staggering.

ACE
It's Doc!

Doc plops down, out of breath, drained, bleeding all over
his chest.

DOC
They're coming through all over! I
can't... I can't do...

WOLFE
Where's Barnes!

DOC
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.

ACE
Six!

CAPTAIN HARRIS' VOICE
Yeah! Send traffic or clear this
goddamn net!

WOLFE
We've been overrun Captain, we're
pulling back. Over!

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.

HARRIS
(furious voice)
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.

ACE
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.

RTO #5
Captain, Third Battalion Armoured's
on its way with tracks 'bout 2 kliks
west!

HARRIS
(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 here, over!

PILOT'S VOICE
(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.

HARRIS
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 Out.

Pilot's reaction. Very calm. A Farmboy twang.

PILOT'S VOICE
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 stops. Dead.

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 run out.

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.

INTERCUT

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 Enemy as:

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
corpse.

CHRIS
Barnes!

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 consciously, 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 and 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.

CHRIS
Nooooooooo!

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 of anger.

The bomb ripping Barnes off the body of Chris and spitting
Chris across the jungle floor - crashing into a tree some 30
yards away.

FADE OUT:

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
open.

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 holy light.

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.
Walks on.

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 up, begs.

BARNES
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.

BARNES
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 its breakfast.

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.

MONSTER MAN
(to Dog)
Bozo! Get back here!

His eyes passing on Chris like so much meat.

MONSTER MAN
(to Chris)
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 around him.

APC SOLDIER #1
You alone Sarge?

O'NEILL
Fuck yeah. They all left me, bunch
of fuckin' faggots.

APC SOLDIER #2
Man, you gonna get yoself a silver
star.

O'NEILL
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 circumstances.

RHAH
(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 death camp.

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.

RADIO OPERATOR
(into radio, exhausted)
U.S. KIA, 122 wounded and still
counting. Estimate 500 Victor Charlie
KIA, 22 wounded and still counting.
Over.

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 square.

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.

FRANCIS
Hey Taylor, you okay man?

CHRIS
Yeah. How 'bout you?

FRANCIS
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 yessir...
(goes off)

The Medic points to the chopper.

MEDIC
(to Chris)
That's your ride man, you ready?

CHRIS
(tries a smile)
You bet.

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.

HARRIS
You got Second Platoon Sergeant.

O'NEILL
(reflexively)
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 or another.

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 cry.

RHAH
Baaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

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 ants below.

Now the trees, the skyline and the chopper is moving fast
over the devastation. The jungle forever locked in his memory,
Chris looks back, copious, quiet tears flowing from his eyes.

CHRIS (V.O.)
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.

FADE OUT:

THE END

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