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SPIT AND POLISH

An Original Screenplay by Richard Seltzer

Copyright 1981

FADE IN:

INT. RAWLINGS' HOUSE - DAY (MAY 1970)

GEORGE RAWLINGS, a tall overweight college senior, is studying, with books and papers strewn across the living room. Over his shoulder, through the kitchen door, his MOTHER (short, dumpy, and gray-haired) turns on the electric floor polisher, then flips on the black-and-white television with the volume loud. On the TV, scenes from Viet Nam are visible, but the words aren't distinguishable through the heavy static caused by the polisher.

RAWLINGS

(shouts)

Mom, can you shut that thing off?

She continues buffing the floor. With one hand Rawlings starts closing his books and with his other he signals to his mother to stop.

RAWLINGS

(shouts)

Mom!

She continues buffing the floor. Rawlings shakes with frustration and indecision. Finally, he heaves a textbook, hitting the polisher and disconnecting the cord. At that moment the television image shifts to the scene of the Kent State massacre. The NEWSCASTER is clearly audible in VOICE OVER for a few moments until Mother recovers from the shock of her son's behavior and yells back at him.

NEWSCASTER (V.O.)

... Kent State University.

Today National Guard troops opened fire

on students who were protesting the U.S

invasion of Cambodia. Four students were

killed and four seriously wounded.

MOTHER

My God, George! .Where did you

get that temper?

She turns off the television and glares at Rawlings.

RAWLINGS

Can you please hold off on the polishing

for a while?

MOTHER

A clean floor and a clean house are

important. Your father always said so,

God rest his soul. It's a matter of pride.

Don't they teach you that in college -- the

importance of pride and tradition?

RAWLINGS

(whines)

Give me a break, please.

MOTHER

All right, all right.

She walks to the back door.

EXT. RAWLINGS' HOUSE - DAY

Mother walks out to fetch the mail from the mailbox by the street. MADELINE, a college-age girl who lives next door is walking out to her mailbox at the same time. She wears a halter, shorts and sandals, with lipstick and nail polish. She brushes her shoulder-length hair as she walks.

Mother finds an envelope from the Department of the Army addressed to "George Rawlings." She opens it. The camera focuses on the top of the letter, which reads:

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

HEADQUARTERS, FIRST UNITED STATES ARMY

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, MARYLAND 20755

AHAAG-CFA

LETTER ORDERS NUMBER T-96-4433A

SUBJECT: Active Duty for Training

TC 165. By direction of the Secretary of the Army, the following named individual is ordered to ACTIVE DUTY FOR TRAINING (ADT), with his consent, for the period indicated.

Mother is shocked, motionless. Madeline notices and stops fussing with her hair.

MADELINE

Is something wrong, Mrs. Rawlings?

MOTHER

George's orders have come. Orders for active duty for training.

Madeline laughs and resumes brushing.

MADELINE

It's only the National Guard.

MOTHER

Yes, thank God, it is the National Guard.

INT. COLLEGE/LECTURE HALL - DAY

In a lecture hall full of students, Rawlings is sitting in the first row. He looks troubled. His text book is open, but in his notebook he is writing and crossing out and rewriting the opening lines of a poem:

"In May the bombs blossom.

The sweet aroma of gas fills the air..."

The PROFESSOR, balding, with glasses, is just finishing writing the following on the blackboard: "The Rubicon, we know, was a very insignificant stream to look at; its significance lay entirely in certain invisible conditions. Middlemarch"

PROFESSOR

The Rubicon was the boundary between Gaul and Italy.

In the back row, FRANK DELANEY has a stack of three letters and an open newspaper with stories on the Viet Nam War and the massacre at Jackson State. His face is gaunt and angular; his appearance deliberately unkempt. His words come fast and clipped. Always on his guard, he shadow boxes with the world.

The letters are from Princeton University, Digital Equipment Corporation, and the Dept. of the Army. He is reading the one from Digital as the Professor continues

to talk in VOICE OVER in the background.

PROFESSOR (V.O.)

By the simple act of crossing

that arbitrary line, Julius

Caesar irrevocably committed

himself to war with the Roman

Senate and changed the course of

history.

Delaney's letter reads as follows:

We understand that you have been accepted by Princeton, but we would like you to consider going straight into industry.

Our PDP-11/20 has been an instant success. We can't keep up with demand and customers are clamoring for more powerful machines of the same kind. We are looking for dozens of young engineering graduates like yourself to work in computer design.

This would be a ground-floor opportunity with the hottest company in the computer business. Please come up and talk with us as soon as you can.

Remember, 16-bit minicomputers are the future.

Delaney sets that letter aside and opens the one from the Army. He glances at it, smiles, and passes it to the girl beside him, MELODY. She wears her hair short

and her clothes loose and un-ironed so she won't have to fuss about them. He jabs at her, and halts his fist right in front of her face. She doesn't react.

DELANEY

(whispers)

You flinched.

MELODY

(whispers)

I did not.

She quickly kisses his fist, then focuses on the letter, and holds it so others can read it, too. Madeline who is sitting nearby, keeps playing with her hair as if she were watching herself in an imaginary mirror. The Professor is now seen from Delaney's perspective.

PROFESSOR

As George Eliot points out with this

historical allusion, man is by nature

a maker and breaker of rules. It's not

flashy aimless violence and sex that

moves this world. What matters is the

meaning we give to events, the symbols

we create by our action and inaction.

DELANEY

(to students beside him)

Sure, buddy, tell that to the

body bags.

PROFESSOR

What was that, Mr. Delaney?

Delaney takes back the Army letter, looks at it again, holds it as if about to tear it up.

DELANEY

I'm trying to decide whether to

make a symbolic gesture, sir.

PROFESSOR

Well, if you wish to tear up

your draft card, please do not

do so in my class.

Everyone laughs. All eyes are on Delaney, and the temptation for him to make a grandstand gesture is great.

MELODY

(whispers, insistently)

Do it.

He hesitates, then shakes his head, and tucks the letter carefully in his book bag.

MELODY

(continuing)

Your brother got his hands blown off.

Doesn't that mean anything to you?

DELANEY

(mutters)

Cool it. There's more than one way

to make a revolution.

EXT. SUBURBIA/BACKYARD - DAY

With stacks of lumber nearby, POWELL is using a fence-post digger. Powerfully, built, with a heavy stubble on his face, he's about 25. His voice is deep and authoritative. MRS. BRIGGS comes to the back door and calls to him. She's 30 -- a prim, trim suburban housewife.

MRS. BRIGGS

Mr. Powell, your roommate just

called. An old letter just

arrived from the Army, forwarded

from your old address. It's your

orders for training. You've got

to report in three days.

Powell squats, puts one hand on a Bible on the ground beside him, and with the other grasps a frisbee. He stares off into space, then stands up, flings the frisbee high in the sky and catches it.

MRS. BRIGGS

(resigned)

I guess now there's no way you'll be

able to build that jungle gym for us.

POWELL

That's all right ma'am. I promised I'd

do it, and that's what I'll do.

EXT. SUBURBIA/BACKYARD - NIGHT

The backyard is illuminated with floodlights. Powell is still hard at work, alone, on a huge and elaborate wooden gym set.

EXT. SUBURBIA/BACKYARD - DAWN

Powell is still at work. From the upstairs window Mrs. Briggs stares at him in disbelief.

EXT. SUBURBIA/BACKYARD - NIGHT

Mrs. Briggs, MR. BRIGGS, and their six-year-old son FRANKIE watch in amazement as Powell puts the finishing touches on the amazing structure. After a final nail, Powell steps back, checks it from all sides, then signals to Frankie. The kid shouts with glee, runs up, jumps, and grabs hold of the ladder-like handbars, and

moves quickly across, hand over hand. Powell once again throws the frisbee high in the sky.

INT. HOUSE/BEDROOM - NIGHT

TOM BEAULIEU, a tall, husky senior at the University of Maryland, is in bed with his wife DEBBIE. She is as tall as he is, with long blond hair she uses to hide her expressive face. He snuggles up to her right shoulder and caresses her naked body in foreplay. He moves slowly, savoring every moment. She welcomes his touch, but is preoccupied with an unrelated concern. She has a piece of paper, crumpled and tightly clutched in her left hand, just out of his sight and out of his reach.

Sensing her tension, he redoubles his efforts to turn her on, which makes her even more tense and annoyed with herself. She wants to enjoy this moment, but can't.

Finally, she pulls away and asks the question that has been bothering her.

DEBBIE

Tom, have you thought about

Canada?

BEAULIEU

Later. Later.

DEBBIE

That's what you've been saying

for the last month. You know how

I feel. We can go to Canada and

start a new life.

BEAULIEU

And what's your hurry? It could

be another year before I get

called up for active duty for

training. I can finish up

college, and then...

DEBBIE

(interrupts)

No. We have to decide now.

She hands him the crumpled paper. He unfolds and tries to decipher it while she explains.

DEBBIE

(continuing)

It's your orders. They arrived

nearly a month ago, just after

Kent State. I didn't want you to

know. I just wanted to get you out

of here. You're supposed to report

to Fort Polk, Louisiana, day after

tomorrow. I'm sorry, Tom. I'm sorry.

She throws herself at him passionately while he tries to read the details.

EXT. ARMY BASE - DAWN

A large billboard reads: "Welcome to Fort Polk, Birthplace of Combat Infantrymen for Viet Nam."

EXT. BESIDE BARRACKS - DAWN

The barracks is a white, clapboard, oblong rectangle, like hundreds of others, hurriedly thrown together during World War II. Bats hover above the barracks and vanish one by one into the eaves, as recruits line up for the first time, outside the barracks, with their duffel bags.

There are forty-seven men in the fifth platoon. Forty-three are National Guard and Reservists -- all white. Four are draftees -- all black and all "recycled" (ROBERTS, ARMSTRONG, JONES, and FRANKLIN). Others include Rawlings, Delaney, Powell, Beaulieu, HATHAWAY, SCHNEIDER, TAGLIATTI, WASLEWSKI, ALEC, COHEN, MACFARLAND, VASSAVION, SULLIVAN, SANDERSON, EVANS, and

ALVARDO. The DRILL SERGEANT is a 35-year-old short, stocky Mexican, with a pock-marked face.

DRILL SERGEANT

What a pleasant surprise. This

cycle we have Reservists and

National Guard. In the middle of

a war, we take time out for a

little exercise in make-believe.

Armstrong, Roberts, Jones

and Franklin -- front and center.

The four blacks take their time following his order. They move fast enough not to be disobedient, but not so fast as to show any energy, enthusiasm or respect.

From Jackson State College, Roberts is tall, thin and athletic. Originally from

Memphis, Armstrong went to CCNY for a year, then panhandled for two years in New York City. He is medium height and out of shape. He wears wire-rim glasses and always has a paperback book in his back pocket -- a tattered copy of Marcuse's One Dimensional Man. Jones, from Raleigh, N.C., is the shortest of them. He often looks down, avoiding eye contact with anyone but his friends. Franklin, from Watts in Los Angeles, finds it painfully difficult to stay still and straight -- his feet and hands want to move all the time.

DRILL SERGEANT

(continuing)

Look at these guys, you white

boys. They are going to be

sharing your barracks with you,

going through basic with you.

What they score in inspections

and training will affect the

whole platoon. But they don't

give a damn. And they've got

good reason not to give a damn.

They're draftees. They're in the

regular army. They've been through

basic before and failed. Roberts has

been recycled twice now, and he's

proud of it, aren't you boy?

Roberts smiles.

DRILL SERGEANT

(continuing)

He knows that as soon as he passes

basic, it's off to weapons school and

then to Nam. But you're going to pass

this time, aren't you? With these

reservists to inspire you and help whip

you into shape, I'm sure you'll make it

this time. Get back in line now.

They go back to their former positions.

DRILL SERGEANT

(continuing)

Who among you has been in ROTC?

No hands.

DRILL SERGEANT

(continuing)

I know some of you went to state

schools and were required to take ROTC for two years. Speak

up. I'm looking for leaders. Who

has had two years of ROTC?

Hathaway, Beaulieu, Sanderson, Sullivan, MacFarland, and Vassavion raise their hands high. Rawlings lifts his reluctantly. The Drill Sergeant steps up to Hathaway, a muscular college boy from Alabama, and reads his name from his fatigues.

DRILL SERGEANT

(continuing)

Hathaway, you played football.

HATHAWAY

Yes, Drill Sergeant. Second-string

quarterback for Alabama.

DRILL SERGEANT

I'm sure you enjoy calling plays. Sorry

you won't be doing it here.

The Drill Sergeant walks down the row and stops in front of Beaulieu.

DRILL SERGEANT

(continuing)

Beaulieu, you're a family man.

BEAULIEU

Yes, I'm married, Drill Sergeant.

DRILL SERGEANT

You think being a leader might mean

a few extra dollars in the paycheck to

send home.

BEAULIEU

Yes, Drill Sergeant.

DRILL SERGEANT

Forget it, kid. It won't make

any difference at all.

The Drill Sergeant goes to the back row and stops in front of Rawlings.

DRILL SERGEANT

(continuing)

Rawlings, would you like to be

platoon leader?

RAWLINGS

I'm sure there are other guys here

who would be better at it than me.

DRILL SERGEANT

Yes. Maybe they would. You don't

look like a leader. That's why I picked

you. These guys have to learn to respect

and obey the rank, not the person. If I

give the job to a natural leader, they

learn nothing, and you learn nothing. If

I give it to you, they've got a challenge and

you do too. Congratulations, Mr.

Platoon Leader.

MacFarland, you'll be

assistant platoon leader.

Caught by surprise, MacFarland groans, involuntarily. He's big, but flabby and out of shape. A heavy smoker, he's often out of breath.

DRILL SERGEANT

(continuing)

Smile, MacFarland. That means

you and Mr. Rawlings, here, get

to share a private room. You have

no responsibilities, and you're

exempted from fire guard and KP

duties. You're in fat city, kid; which,

considering your gut, is the right place

for you.

(pointing)

Hathaway, Sanderson, Sullivan,

Vassavion -- you'll all be squad

leaders.

Sanderson is a quiet, unassuming, college track star. Sullivan, who is big as Hathaway, is awkward on his feet, which he drags, as if he never learned to use them. But he can walk on his hands like a circus performer. He keeps a Swiss army knife in his pocket and fiddles with it at odd moments.

Vassavion has the flabbiness of a natural athlete who has given up exercise in favor of beer and repose. He has a filthy mouth and a ready wit, especially when drunk. He enjoys grossing out everyone.

The Drill Sergeant walks back out front, and turns to face the troops.

DRILL SERGEANT

(continuing)

Remember, gentlemen, you're in this

together. Your little vacation time

here in the Army will be as pleasant

or hellish as you choose to make it.

You are fortunate to have the best

barracks in the company. Cycle after

cycle of trainees have treated this

barracks with respect and care. Their

hard work and genius is reflected in

the center aisle which has a polish

beyond compare. Treat it well, and

you'll win the company inspection

competition day after day.

Pick a team of men you can

trust with this treasure. One can run

the buffer, one hold the cord so it

doesn't touch the floor, and one tend

the plug. And never, absolutely never,

wear shoes when you cross that

yellow line into the center aisle.

That's my advice, men; and it's

only advice. When it comes to the

barracks, I expect you to govern

yourselves.

Delaney smiles. The Sergeant turns abruptly and glares at him.

DRILL SERGEANT

Delaney!

DELANEY

Yes, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT

Drop and give me ten.

Delaney drops to the ground and does ten pushups.

DRILL SERGEANT

(continuing)

You college kids make me sick.

You hate the "system." What the

hell's the system? By the time

you're done here, you will be

the system.

EXT. PHYSICAL TRAINING AREA - DAY

One soldier after another attempts the ladder-like handbars. These are shown from the same angle as the ones at the Briggs' house in the earlier scene. The

rusted metal rungs spin freely in their sockets, making them hard to grip. One soldier after another goes a few rungs, then slips, in agony, holding his hands, bloody,

with the skin ripped off. Only Powell and Alec go all the way through, to the amazement of the rest. They, too, have the skin ripped off their hands, but continue

despite the pain. Alec is short and dark-complexioned. There's a bulge in his back pocket where he carries a blackjack.

BEAULIEU

(to Delaney)

How the hell do they do it?

DELANEY

I don't know about Powell, but Alec

there is cop from Chicago. A narc.

EXT. EXERCISE FIELD - DAY

Drill Sergeant walks between rows, while the Fifth Platoon does jumping jacks, counting in unison with each jump.

DRILL SERGEANT

Down! Give me ten! Then up and

run in place.

Everyone drops to the ground and starts doing pushups, counting out loud. Roberts, Sanderson, and Powell finish quickly. Delaney and Beaulieu struggle, but make it. Rawlings and Schneider can barely do one; MacFarland two. Schneider is a fat farm boy from Iowa. He chews bubblegum and blows bubbles, even when trying to do pushups.

EXT. ROADWAY - DAWN

The Fifth Platoon is running. Sanderson is in the lead by a hundred feet.

Roberts is second, fifty feet ahead of the rest. He throws in a few dance steps and back pedals to show off. At the front of the pack, little Evans struggles to stay even with Hathaway, Beaulieu, Powell, and Delaney. Rawlings and MacFarland are neck-and-neck at next to last. Schneider straggles far behind everyone.

The Drill Sergeant runs along with the middle of the pack and sings in cadence. Trainees join in on the refrain.

DRILL SERGEANT

Trainees want a weekend pass

to get damn drunk

and chase some ass.

Sound off!

PLATOON

One, two!

DRILL SERGEANT

Sound off!

PLATOON

Three, four!

DRILL SERGEANT

Sound off!

PLATOON

One, two, three, four! Sound off!

Cohen, an undergrad from Berkeley, booms forth a verse of his own before the Drill Sergeant has a chance to continue.

COHEN

Sanderson can run like hell.

Schneider'd rather sit a spell.

Sanderson and Schneider are embarrassed. The Sergeant is ready to yell, then pleased with what he hears, smiles in encouragement, and leads the chorus.

DRILL SERGEANT

Sound off!

PLATOON

One, two!

DRILL SERGEANT

Sound off!

PLATOON

Three, four!

DRILL SERGEANT

Sound off!

PLATOON

One, two, three, four! Sound off!

EXT. OUTSIDE COMPANY HEADQUARTERS - DAY

Trainees line up to receive plague shots, one after the other. MacFarland winces in pain, even before the needle hits his arm. Delaney smiles until the needle is deep in his arm, then grunts in pain. Powell shows nothing.

EXT. PHYSICAL TRAINING AREA - DAY

Trainees -- all, even Powell, clutching their left arm where they received shots -- line up to go through the handlebars again. Scar tissue and calluses have partially replaced the skin they lost on the previous try. The bars spin again, and rip the skin again. The big guys -- Hathaway, Waslewski, Sullivan, and Vassavion -- all fall off, despite their best effort. Roberts (laughing) and Evans (with monumental effort) go all the way. Evans is very short -- an energetic, hard worker. While they are going through this exercise, Cohen, the Drill Sergeant, and the rest of the trainees are heard continuing the song in VOICE OVER.

COHEN (V.O.)

Evans swings from bar to bar

Alvardo wants a brand new car

DRILL SERGEANT

Sound off!

PLATOON

One, two!

DRILL SERGEANT

Sound off!

PLATOON

Three, four!

DRILL SERGEANT

Sound off!

PLATOON

One, two, three, four! Sound off!

EXT. RIFLE RANGE - DAY

Trainees are prone on the ground, firing at human-silhouette targets. Both Evans and Vassavion hit the bull's eye time after time. The singing continues in VOICE OVER.

COHEN

Rawlings grins from ear to ear.

Vassavion wants another beer.

DRILL SERGEANT

Sound off!

PLATOON

One, two!

DRILL SERGEANT

Sound off!

PLATOON

Three, four!

DRILL SERGEANT

Sound off!

PLATOON

One, two, three, four! Sound off!

EXT. IN CATTLE TRUCK ON HIGHWAY - DAY

Over a hundred trainees are crammed into a cattle truck meant for forty. Cohen sings and the others join in.

COHEN

(sings)

Delaney's talkin' politic.

His mouth is fast, his mind is sick.

Sound off!

TRAINEES

One, two!

COHEN

Sound off!

TRAINEES

Three, four!

COHEN

Sound off!

TRAINEES

One, two, three, four! Sound off!

EXT. PHYSICAL TRAINING AREA - DAY

Weeks have past. The platoon once again attempts the handbars. This time Powell, Evans, Sanderson, Beaulieu, Delaney, and Roberts make it all the way. .

Powell picks up a frisbee and throws it high over the barracks.

INT. BARRACKS/BUNKROOM - DAY (THURSDAY)

It's after supper on a Thursday in mid-summer after five weeks of basic training.

Delaney and Hathaway are spread out across their bunks, reading and writing letters. Other trainees are polishing boots, shuffling through their lockers, or lying stretched out on their backs either sleeping or staring upward. Powell very slowly and meticulously runs the buffer to polish the already highly polished center aisle. His attention is totally focused on this activity as if he were carrying out a sacred ritual. Tagliatti holds the buffer cord in the air, so it won't touch the center aisle. He's a college student of medium build, who is always reading old newspapers. Schneider holds the plug in place and makes sure the cord doesn't get tangled on beds or lockers. He waddles when he walks.

Beaulieu is also writing a letter, which is heard in VOICE OVER as the camera pans around the room.

BEAULIEU (V.O.)

Dear Deb -- The barracks is now in

better shape than when it was first built.

Cycle after cycle of trainees have kept it in

shape for inspections.

Some even made improvements to

get bonus points.

The camera shows the red rack for the red helmet liner that the fire guard wears each night; the magazine racks that hang on the latrine wall beside the toilets; the homemade plaque, which hangs over the water fountain and was presented by one group of trainees to their drill sergeant, 25 years before.

Next, a long shot shows the masterpiece of the barracks -- the red linoleum center aisle, which extends between two long rows of parallel bunks. Powell continues to buff it, going over the same spot again and again.

BEAULIEU (V.O.)

(continuing)

Thanks to the special efforts of

cycle after cycle of trainees,

the center aisle shines

mirror-bright. No other barracks

in Echo Company can hope to

match it. As long as we continue

to take care of it and don't get

gigs for foolish oversights, our

platoon would always win

inspections. That's a source of

pride and confidence -- feelings

that are hard to come by in

basic training.

As Beaulieu continues in VOICE OVER, the camera focuses on Delaney and the text of the letter from Digital Equipment that he is reading:

We are still very interested in you. We understand that your active duty will end in just four months. When you get a weekend pass, please come up and visit. The sooner the better, because this kind of opportunity doesn't just sit around forever. You can learn computer design by doing it -- working with the best in the business and getting paid well for what you do. (I'm sure we can come to terms.)

It's fine to visit on a Sat. or Sun. Just let us know you're coming. This place is like a college campus. People are so wrapped up in what they're doing and so excited about it that they work crazy hours -- I think there are some who never go home at all.

BEAULIEU (V.O.)

(continuing)

At first it was an annoyance having

to walk all the way around to get to

a bunk that's just three feet away

across the aisle. But by now it's

second nature.

Everyone in the platoon

takes his boots off at the door, but

even in stocking feet no one in the

platoon crosses the yellow lines that

define the center aisle.

No one, that is, but the chosen

few entrusted with taking care of it.

In this cycle of trainees, Evans

does the buffing upstairs. The

all-important downstairs floor is in the

keeping of Powell. Tagliatti helps him

with the buffer cord. Schneider tends

the plug.

Sanderson suddenly comes racing in in his stocking feet and nearly slides onto the center aisle. Hathaway glares at him, but the buffers continue their work.

SANDERSON

Have you heard the latest? Drill

Sergeant promised weekend passes

to the top three in the P.T. test.

DELANEY

A hell of a lot of good that

does me. You and the runt have

it made already.

SANDERSON

Runt?

DELANEY

Yes the runt -- Evans.

Everything's topsy-turvy here.

It's the big guys who are hurting,

guys like Hathaway, Waslewski,

Sullivan, and Vassavion -- the

football player types.

They're strong, but they've got a lot

of weight to lift for the handbars. It's

the little guys who have it easy. Evans

just missed a little on the grenade

throw and was perfect with the rifle.

It doesn't take muscle to squeeze a trigger.

SANDERSON

Cool it buddy. You've still got a shot

at one of those passes if you do good

in the mile tomorrow.

DELANEY

Damn. You take this whole army

bit like it was some kind of

sports camp. Don't you have any

sense of justice?

SANDERSON

Sure, fair is fair. If you can outrun

me, you can get a pass this

weekend. And, if we all keep up

the good work, the sergeant says

half the platoon, maybe even more

will get passes next week.

DELANEY

You're a goddamned political

neanderthal.

As Delaney leave in disgust, Sanderson gives him the finger.

SANDERSON

Up yours, too, buddy.

Powell, Tagliatti, and Schneider are seen -- intense and careful -- in a long shot as the camera follows Delaney, in his stocking feet, stomping out the door and quickly pulling on his boots.

EXT. FORT POLK - DAY

Delaney moves away from the barracks, toward the trees. No one is looking. He moves beyond the company area, across the road. No one is looking. He starts jogging up the road, past the PX, toward the commissary. He keeps looking over his shoulder. He spots Roberts, Armstrong, Franklin, and Jones, drinking beer off in the woods, beyond the company area. They see him. He speeds up.

They take off after him and soon catch up and run along beside him.

JONES

(laughing)

Going AWOL?

FRANKLIN

(laughing)

Going home, boy?

ARMSTRONG

What do you think, brothers?

Should we cover for him?

Roberts gets in front of Delaney and backpedals, boxing him in and slowing him.

DELANEY

What the fuck are you doing?

ARMSTRONG

We're vigilantes, man. You left

the company area without the

boss's permission.

They crack up laughing and let him by. Delaney runs away.

EXT. FORT POLK/PHONE BOOTH - DAY

Delaney runs to a phone booth near the billboard that welcomes recruits to Fort Polk. He dials and gets connected to Melody at her dorm room.

EXT. FORT POLK/PHONE BOOTH - DAY (SPLIT SCREEN)

INT. COLLEGE/DORM ROOM - DAY (SPLIT SCREEN)

Delaney and Melody are shown talking to one another in split screen. The walls of her small college room are decorated with posters of Che Guevara and the Beatles.

The "Revolution" song from the Beatle's White Album is playing in the background. The floor is strewn with xeroxed political fliers that she is collating and folding as she talks.

DELANEY

Melody?

MELODY

Yes, Frank? It's you finally. No letters,

no calls. And you've been gone for

nearly two months.

DELANEY

Six weeks.

MELODY

Same difference.

DELANEY

Look, I don't have long to talk. I'm

not supposed to be of the company

area. I have to get back before they

notice I'm gone.

MELODY

Come on, Frank. Forget the

cloak-and-dagger. What's happening?

DELANEY

Everything at once. I've got this job

offer from Digital Equipment.

MELODY

What? You turned down grad school

at Princeton to join the struggle

against the war, and now you're

selling out to some computer

company? Who the hell are you?

DELANEY

I wish I knew. Sure, I believe in the

revolution. I'm doing everything I can

here to undermine the system from

within. That's why I joined the

Reserves. It's all working just as I

hoped. But, God, I could help design

the world's hottest computer. We

could get married.

MELODY

(shocked)

Married?

DELANEY

Why not? Kids, the suburbs, the

works.

MELODY

But how could I marry you if you

don't believe in the cause?

DELANEY

But I do believe.

MELODY

Then live it -- like you planned. We

all have to do our part. You know

that. Great movements are made up

of small pieces.

This scene dissolves into the next and Melody continues talking in VOICE OVER.

INT. BARRACKS/BUNKROOM - DAY

Beaulieu, Hathaway, and Powell are on their beds. Rawlings is coming down the stairs as Melody's voice continues in VOICE OVER.

MELODY (V.O.)

(continuing)

People are dying every day. We

can't wait any longer. Do whatever

you can now. Remember what you

always said -- if everyone opposed to

war does something to disrupt the

system, the system will fall apart.

Something thrown slams loudly against the door. Then another one strikes. Hathaway and Beaulieu sit up. Sanderson, Evans, and Tagliatti come to look in from the latrine. Tag has a newspaper in his hand. Delaney enters, nearly bumping into Rawlings.

HATHAWAY

What the hell was that all about?

DELANEY

I'm tired, all right.

HATHAWAY

So we're all tired. Big deal.

DELANEY

Yes, it is a big deal. We get maybe

four hours of sleep a night. Our

minds have been reduced to pulp.

A soldier is entitled to eight hours

sleep. Officially it's always eight

hours from lights-out to lights-on.

Officially, it's our own doing if we

don't get enough sleep. But there's

always a half dozen chores that need

to be done after lights-out. And then

they wake you up for fire guard or CQ,

and you have to break the rules again,

getting up an hour before lights-on to

clean the barracks or we'd never win

inspection.

BEAULIEU

So what?

Delaney takes a drink at the water fountain, then spits the water out into the bowl.

DELANEY

So without sleep, the mind loses the power

to control what it's thinking, to tie thoughts

together by anything more than simple

association. It becomes a passive inert mass.

BEAULIEU

What's eating you, Delaney? Why

the hell are you always whining?

Delaney turns on him, swings at his face, and stops just short. Beaulieu doesn't flinch.

DELANEY

(belligerent)

The truth? My girl is pregnant.

RAWLINGS

Melody?

Delaney cringes and nods.

TAGLIATTI

What are you going to do?

DELANEY

I don't know. I just have to get back

there as quick as I can to sort it all out.

TAGLIATTI

Why not ask for a pass for a

family emergency?

DELANEY

We're not married. She's not family.

SANDERSON

So you're asking us to throw the race?

Delaney doesn't deny it.

SANDERSON

Fuck you, buddy.

He walks out, and Evans follows.

RAWLINGS

(gullible, sympathetic)

I wish I could help.

Delaney ignores him. Others go back to what they were doing.

EXT. OUTSIDE BARRACKS BY TREES - NIGHT

Delaney, alone with Roberts behind a tree, slips him some money and whispers.

DELANEY

Just do like you did to me this afternoon.

That might be enough. If I get the pass,

you get double.

Roberts kisses the money and smiles broadly.

ROBERTS

Hey, you're really into this race stuff,

aren't you? Yeah, you're real liberal.

EXT. PHYSICAL TRAINING AREA - DAY (FRIDAY)

Trainees lined up on starting line of circular track. They are in fatigues, with combat boots. The sun is bright. It's 100 F. Everyone is sweating heavily before the race starts. Drill Sergeant, staring at a stop watch, raises his hand, then lowers it quickly to signal.

DRILL SERGEANT

Go!

Sanderson gets a fast start. Roberts, Armstrong, Franklin, and Jones sprint, trying to get ahead of him, but can't. Then they begin to slow the pace, shoulder to shoulder, blocking the rest of the field. They let Delaney through, but deliberately block the rest. The Drill Sergeant shakes his head and laughs to himself. Cohen, slowed to a jog by the trainees around him, sings.

COHEN

(sings)

A bucket needs water; a beggar a

quarter. The world needs order;

but just keep walking along, along,

just keep walking along.

One lap, two laps, three. Sanderson runs a full lap faster than the rest, catches up with the pack from behind, and is annoyed that he can't break through for a better time. Delaney is about 20 yards ahead of Roberts. In anger and frustration, Vassavion begins to chant.

VASSAVION

Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer..

With one hand on Franklin and one on Jones, he forces his way through. Evans squirts through after him, before Franklin and Jones are able to close the gap. Evans zips by Delaney, and Vassavion lumbers past him, too, by a hair at the finish line.

EXT. OUTSIDE BARRACKS - DAY

Vassavion dances by, cheering, with Evans, like a little kid, on his shoulders. Sanderson runs past and slaps them both on the rear. Delaney follows after the others have moved out of sight, lecturing to Tagliatti, Alvardo, Waslewski, Hathaway, Alec, and Beaulieu, all of whom are not particularly happy at having lost.

Rawlings is a couple steps behind.

DELANEY

That's the system for you -- build up

the weak and tear down the strong.

RAWLINGS

But Vassavion's no weakling. And

Sanderson isn't either.

Delaney glares back, then continues to lecture.

DELANEY

That's how the system perpetuates

itself -- putting runts and cowards in

positions of authority. The system

promotes people who know that

their authority comes to them

not for any merit of their own,

but just because of the system.

Roberts comes into view, following Delaney from a distance.

BEAULIEU

System, hell. It was the blacks

-- Roberts and the others who

blocked us out.

Delaney stops so Roberts can catch up, and greets him with open arms.

DELANEY

Yes, the system. The system that has

oppressed them. The system that will

send them to Nam. The system that

they had guts enough to fight, by

botching that stupid race.

Delaney shakes Roberts' hand, slaps him on the back, and inconspicuously slips him more money. Roberts smiles broadly.

ROBERTS

Yeah, man, that's a real good

system you've got there.

INT. BARRACKS/BUNKROOM - DAY (LATER FRIDAY)

The screen door slams, and Sullivan shuffles in. He's in his stocking feet and is obviously tired. Powell, Tagliatti, and Schneider are buffing in the background.

SULLIVAN

(shouts)

Where's Roberts?

HATHAWAY

(shouts back)

How should I know?

SULLIVAN

You're his squad leader, aren't you?

HATHAWAY

Yeah, but not his nursemaid.

SULLIVAN

He's got CQ from four to six.

HATHAWAY

Big deal.

SULLIVAN

Somebody's got to take it. Shit'll hit

the fan if only one guy's on CQ.

HATHAWAY

If you're so goddamned uptight, do it

yourself. You can't go anywhere anyway.

Powell has finished buffing, and is pleased. Tagliatti and Schneider carefully roll up the buffer cord during the following dialogue.

Hathaway goes back to his letter-writing. Sullivan steps toward the door.

HATHAWAY

(continuing, shouts)

Keep your goddamned feet off

that center aisle.

SULLIVAN

You treat this floor like a Mercedes.

HATHAWAY

It is, you asshole.

Sullivan stops short of the yellow line, kicks a footlocker, turns and plods and shuffles behind the bunks.

HATHAWAY

(continuing, shouts)

Pick up your feet.

Sullivan stops, and stands on his hands. A Swiss Army knife drops out of his pocket.

HATHAWAY

(continuing)

Shit. You know you're not

supposed to have that thing.

Sullivan gets down, puts the knife between his teeth, then walks out on his hands.

Hathaway picks up a football and heaves it at the entranceway in a perfect spiral.

HATHAWAY

(continuing, mumbles)

Goddamned trouble-maker.

Schneider is walking by with Tagliatti, carefully carrying the buffer.

SCHNEIDER

He's only trying to do right.

HATHAWAY

No, I don't mean Sullivan. I mean Roberts.

Why the hell'd they ever put draftees in this

company? And why did they have

to stick us with them?

SCHNEIDER

You know -- they were recycled.

HATHAWAY

Yeah, four fucking fuck-offs,

and we got all of them.

Hathaway keeps writing as Beaulieu walks quietly behind the bunks, into the latrine.

INT. BARRACKS/LATRINE - DAY

Beaulieu enters. Straight ahead are the platoon's two washing machines, with dozens of bags of laundry lined up waiting their turn. Beside them stretch a row of sinks, leading to the showers. Along the other walls, on the periphery of view, are urinals and a line of toilets, about two feet apart, without partitions.

All but one toilet is occupied, like seats in the reading room at a college library just before exam time. The occupants are Tagliatti, Waslewski, Cohen, Alvardo, Sullivan, and Delaney. The camera pans from face to face.

Tagliatti is reading an old tattered newspaper.

Waslewski sweats profusely. He's powerfully built, but has a large beer-belly. He goes to college nights, and during the day does physical labor in a sheet-metal factory.

Cohen is drumming out a rock tune on an overturned wastebasket.

Alvardo, an Hispanic college student, is reading an old issue of Road and Track.

Sullivan is writing a letter.

Delaney is reading a well-worn copy of Marx -- The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844.

Roberts is standing by a sink, staring at himself in the mirror as he carefully shaves the top of his head.

BEAULIEU

Hey, Roberts, you're supposed to

be on CQ.

ROBERTS

May be.

BEAULIEU

Well, what are you doing then?

ROBERTS

Giving myself a haircut. Got to

look pretty for the sergeant.

Roberts keeps shaving his head.

BEAULIEU

Well, they're looking for you,

Roberts. Don't say I didn't tell you.

ROBERTS

Yeah, everybody's looking for

the old Bob tonight. I got me a

date. Got me a couple of them.

I'm going to have me a big night.

He slaps the pocket where he put the money.

BEAULIEU

You're going to have big trouble

is all, if you don't hightail it

over to CQ.

ROBERTS

(smiles)

No, man. It's you who's got

trouble -- not me, but you.

INT. BUNKHOUSE/RAWLINGS' ROOM - NIGHT (FRIDAY)

In total darkness, several people in stocking feet walk quietly into Rawlings' room. A flashlight turns on to reveal closeup of Rawlings face. He is sound asleep, with his mouth wide open. Three sets of hands reach into the light and spray shaving cream into his mouth. The light goes out and the feet scramble as Rawlings, wakes, chokes, then spits. He stumbles toward the door and turns on the light. Only then does he realize what has happened.

RAWLINGS

(shouts)

What the hell!

MacFarland feigns sleep in the other bunk. Laughter breaks out in the bunkroom down below. Rawlings picks up a book and heaves it at the wall. The sound of that just prompts more laughter. MacFarland (barely containing his own laughter) still pretends to be asleep.

INT. BARRACKS/BUNKROOM - NIGHT

Laughter in the dark is interrupted by Delaney.

DELANEY

Shut up!

Silence.

ALEC

(from nearby upper bunk)

What's your problem?

DELANEY

(whispers)

Roberts is gone. His bunk is empty.

ALEC

(whispers)

Hell. We'd better report it to CQ fast.

DELANEY

(whispers)

Are you kidding? And fuck everything

for everybody? No passes, no nothing?

We've got to shut up and not draw

attention to the barracks. He just might

slip back before the

sergeant knows he's gone.

INT. HOUSE/LIVINGROOM - DAY (SATURDAY)

The doorbell sounds. Debbie opens the door and finds Beaulieu. He lifts her and kisses her on the breasts, while she hugs him He carries her to the sofa, and begins undressing her. She starts undressing him, then suddenly freezes.

DEBBIE

My God! You're AWOL. Can we get

to Canada before they catch you?

BEAULIEU

(laughs)

Hell, no! I got a pass, a fucking weekend

pass, a pass to fuck all weekend.

DEBBIE

But how? Why? I didn't know

they gave out passes in basic.

BEAULIEU

Look, lady, you're married to a genius. You

should see me on those handbars.

And boots -- nobody can spit and

polish boots the way I can. I've

got such great spit, I may make

a career of the Army.

She stares at him in disbelief and pinches herself.

BEAULIEU

(continuing, laughs)

I couldn't call ahead. I'd have missed the

plane. They didn't give me much warning,

and the connections are lousy. I've only

got a few hours before I have to head back

to the airport again. The bastards.

DEBBIE

And is this the same gentle, sweet-talking

husband who left here just six weeks ago?

BEAULIEU

You're fucking right it is.

DEBBIE

Then let's not waste any time,

my foul-mouthed soldier boy.

She reaches to unbuckle his trousers and finds a letter in his pocket. It's addressed to "Debbie Beaulieu." She opens it. He takes it away.

BEAULIEU

Not now, pumpkin. We've got

serious business to attend to.

You can read that when I'm gone.

DEBBIE

But I want it now, soldier boy.

She pulls down his trousers.

DEBBIE

(continuing)

You wouldn't deny me that, would you?

He melts.

DEBBIE

(continuing)

I want you to read me that

letter with all its filthy words

while I get reacquainted you.

She licks his belly button.

DEBBIE

(continuing)

Read, slave.

While he reads, she caresses and kisses him.

BEAULIEU

(reads)

Dear Debbie, It's a crazy world, that makes

such crazy places as this, reducing men to

chunks of sweating, aching flesh. Even

trying to shit hurts.

If you were near and I could see you,

sleep with you, it would be tolerable. With you,

I could tolerate most anything. We could just

lie together and laugh about it. It's just one

huge practical joke. I'm sure that's the

way the Drill Sergeant takes it -- like a fraternity

initiation. Cohen manages to see it that way too,

manages to bring out the humor in things.

But it's degrading. The

only way to release all this pressure, aside

from taking a poke at somebody (which would

land you with an Article Fifteen

or a court martial and get you

recycled and stuck in this

damned army for months) is to

masturbate. There's just no

other way, and it's so damned

degrading. You try to do it

quietly, in a barracks full of

guys, the bunks no more than

three feet apart, the firelight

and stair light on all the time,

and the fireguard pacing back

and forth.

And somebody else is in the

upper bunk getting shaken by

your every move. That's one hell

of a way to get a release -- lying there

stock-still, squeezing yourself with a sheet.

But it works, after a fashion.

The imagination takes

charge, and I'm far from here.

This place never existed. I'm

holding you so warm and close.

Damn it, I'm horny as

hell, and it'll be at least three months

before I see you again. You can't imagine

what this place does to a guy. I

think of you constantly,

whenever we get a five minute

break, and I can lean against a

tree and shut my eyes, or even

when I'm running laps around the

block at 5 AM, before breakfast,

and the thought of you gets me

away from this place, and it's

something to look forward to --

the next moment when I'll be

able to let my mind drift to you.

My muscles stop aching as

they remember your shape, the

pressure of you close to me, the

texture of your skin, the delightful,

unexpected ways you move. My eye

muscles relive with my hands the fullness

of your breasts. I remember directly,

completely, not like before, the

electric touch of your fingers, the playful

flip of your tongue, the way you toss back

your head to toss back your hair, your

long legs rubbing softly against mine.

Debbie pushes him onto the sofa and climbs on top of him.

DEBBIE

Don't stop or I'll stop.

The camera focuses on her now as he continues reading.

Her eyes are shut as she savors the sensations of rubbing her body against his.

BEAULIEU

(reading)

Damn it. I need you. My body needs you.

The pulp that was my mind needs you. Hell,

you'd hate me the way I am now. I hate

myself the way I am now. I can't even write

you a decent letter. All I do is write about

the shit around me. But damn it, darling, I'm

caught up in this shit. All those stupid rules

they threw at us five weeks ago are now a

part of me. I take this nonsense seriously.

My joys, fears, hopes, and miseries all stem

from this world they've thrown me in. My

body remembers your every move vividly.

But it's hard for me to imagine the world

we used to live in. It's unreal and far away.

The only world I've got is this shit.

And I hate this shit. And I hate myself for

letting myself be reduced to this.

Damn it. I love you and miss you, and

I'm sorry this is the way I write and the way I

think, but they've done it to me, damn it.

They've reduced me to this. When I get back

it'll be different, and I'll be different. And

I'll be able to forget all this and go back to

being me -- whoever that was.

But wherever I am and whoever I

am, I love you.

She looks down and sees she's clutching a sheet. She crumples it up and throws it in anger.

DEBBIE

Tom, why the hell aren't you

here? Why did you do this to

me? Why didn't we go to Canada?

She sits down and starts scribbling a letter on the nearest scrap of paper. She says aloud, slowly, the words that she is writing.

DEBBIE

(continuing)

Dear Tom, Will this war at home and

abroad ever end? If it does, I hope our

children don't ever have to go

through anything like this.

Seeing the same scene, we hear Delaney's voice saying the same words in synch with Debbie. Gradually, Debbie's voice gets fainter and Delaney's stronger, until all we hear is Delaney in VOICE OVER.

DELANEY (V.O.)

Let it end. Let it end for good. Lord, I

hope I never have to see another film clip

of bombing raids, or of student protesters

getting hauled off to jail.

INT. BARRACKS/BUNKROOM - DAY

Beaulieu, in fatigues, is lying on his bunk, clutching a sheet. He wakes up, embarrassed. Only Powell is in the room, and he is concentrating on reading his book. Beaulieu turns toward the latrine, puzzled, and focuses on Delaney's voice, which is coming from there.

DELANEY (O.S.)

(continuing)

Come home and fuck me.

Laughter from the latrine.

DELANEY (O.S.)

(continuing)

Fuck this whole world away. Make it all

simple and beautiful. Come. Come to me,

for me, in me. Come.

More laughter.

DELANEY (O.S.)

(continuing)

Love forever. Debbie.

Beaulieu charges toward the latrine, slipping in his stocking feet, banging his knee on a locker, and bouncing off the wall.

INT. BARRACKS/LATRINE - DAY

Cohen is putting his laundry in the washing machine. Waslewski, standing wrapped in a towel, just got out of the shower. Delaney, Schneider, Sanderson, and Tagliatti are on johns. Schneider is chewing bubblegum and blowing bubbles. Tagliatti is reading his newspaper. Delaney is still holding the letter he was reading.

Beaulieu enters and grabs the letter from Delaney.

DELANEY

(laughing)

Hey, wait a minute buddy. I just

borrowed it. No harm meant or

done. Just a few laughs.

Beaulieu stuffs the letter in his trousers, then swings wildly at Delaney. Delaney ducks and falls on the floor.

DELANEY

Hey, cool it buddy. Can't you take a joke?

Anybody who lies around beating his meat

in broad daylight ought to expect a little

joshing. You've got no right to be self-righteous.

BEAULIEU

Don't talk to me about rights.

Read your own damn mail.

DELANEY

(laughing)

I would if I had any.

BEAULIEU

Well, keep your filthy hands off mine.

Beaulieu kicks Delaney in the stomach.

BEAULIEU

(continuing, mocking)

You flinched.

Delaney grabs Beaulieu's leg and pulls him down on the floor. They roll, kicking and punching, on the space among the johns. Responding to the noise, Powell rushes in. The screen door slams loudly, and Hathaway enters, too. Hathaway takes hold of Delaney, and Powell lifts Beaulieu. They pull the fighters apart.

BEAULIEU

(struggling)

Let me kill the fucking bastard.

HATHAWAY

Not while you're in my platoon.

I don't give a damn who started

this or why. It's ending right here.

He looks around and spots Sanderson.

HATHAWAY

(continuing)

Sanderson, were you planning on

running today?

SANDERSON

Yeah. But only five miles. I thought I'd

take it easy today. After all, it's Sunday.

HATHAWAY

Well, take these guys with you. It looks

like they have extra energy to burn off.

Got it, Delaney and Beaulieu?

You run. You run hard. Maybe you talk a

little on the way and work out your

differences. But if you go at each other

again, believe me, I'll take it straight to the

Drill Sergeant and you'll both get an Article Fifteen.

DELANEY

Hey, why should you care? If this

Neanderthal loses control and we bash

each other up, so what's it to you?

HATHAWAY

We all get punished for what one guy does.

Besides, we're at the limit of our patience.

This is like a woodshed in a drought. We

don't want lightning. One stupid fight

could become a free-for-all. I don't want to

end up in the guardhouse.

I don't want to be stuck in this fucking army

any longer than need be. Keep it cool.

COHEN

(echoes)

Real cool.

Cohen starts humming and softly singing the tune from West Side Story, drumming out the beat on a sink.

TAGLIATTI

I don't see how that Sanderson

does it, running laps in this heat.

WASLEWSKI

He's nuts.

TAGLIATTI

He thrives on this shit.

WASLEWSKI

That's what I said -- he's nuts.

EXT. COMPANY AREA - DAY

Delaney and Beaulieu jog side by side, around the company area. Sanderson runs ahead, far faster. He laps them while they talk.

BEAULIEU

You sound like a fucking SDS radical.

What the hell are you doing in the reserves?

DELANEY

Better here than Nam.

BEAULIEU

Look. Level with me. You took a couple years

of ROTC. Radicals don't take ROTC.

DELANEY

Well, you see, my brother's in the

disarmament movement. He joined ROTC,

went to Nam and had his arms blown off.

I found that rather discouraging. We were

both in ROTC because that was the only way

to pay our way through school. When

Dan came back the way he did, I quit,

and got a job working nights in a

machine-tool factory.

BEAULIEU

Sorry about your brother. Life's tough. I

work at McDonald's and my wife does

tempo office work to pay my way through

school. We get on somehow. We don't

expect much more. It's no big deal.

DELANEY

Don't get me wrong. I'm not much different

from you. I don't believe in the war, but I

haven't done a damn thing, yet, to end it.

BEAULIEU

Don't lump me with you. I'm not

against the war, and I'm not for

it either. I just want to get on

with my life, with a minimum of

hassle. I'm no protester.

Beaulieu runs on ahead.

INT. BARRACKS/SHOWERS - DAY

Delaney and Beaulieu are side by side in the shower lathering up, relaxing their exhausted bodies. Delaney is turned toward Beaulieu, who is turned away.

DELANEY

Look, Beaulieu, I'm not a protester either.

I didn't burn my draft card or join SDS. I

played it safe, like you. I found a Reserve

unit to avoid the draft. Now the least I can

do is to try to undermine the system from

within. No bombs, no big deal -- just whatever

I can do with my wits to screw things up,

without throwing away my future.

I've got a girl back home named

Melody. She's sure I'm going to do

something dramatic for the cause. She

thinks I'm going to be some kind of hero,

and I know I'm just a piece of shit, who'd

gladly sell out for a good job with a future.

Great combination, huh?

Hell, it's crazy living this lie.

She doesn't write and doesn't want me

to write because she's sure Big Brother

would read our mail, and I'd be nailed

as a rebel.

Beaulieu turns toward Delaney.

BEAULIEU

Debbie's more naive than that.

DELANEY

What?

BEAULIEU

She thinks I'm the only one who

reads what she mails me.

INT. BARRACKS/LATRINE - DAY (SATURDAY)

Beaulieu shaves at a sink. The camera focuses on him. Some of the rest of the room is visible in the mirror. Laundry bags are stacked high around the washer and dryer. All the toilet seats are occupied -- by Tagliatti, Cohen, Waslewski, and others. Tagliatti is reading a newspaper, as usual.

BEAULIEU

(between razor strokes)

Hey, Tag, are you through with the sports?

TAGLIATTI

Yeah, but it's four days old.

BEAULIEU

Well, that's two days better

than anything I've seen.

Alec enters the latrine. ALEC

Ah, shit.

COHEN

Yeah, Alec, it's a full house. Maybe you

can catch the next show.

ALEC

Bunch of damned exhibitionists. Got to

spend the whole day in the latrine.

COHEN

A good crap's one of the few pleasures

allowed us. Even a cop like you can

appreciate that.

ALEC

Then shit and get done with it.

This place looks like a library.

COHEN

I say, sir, are the libraries

like this in Chicago?

ALEC

Get off it, Cohen.

COHEN

When I'm done, I will, indeed, get off it.

But right now that's a bit premature. I might

risk staining this immaculate concrete floor,

the pride of the fifth platoon latrine crew.

ALEC

Cut the bull.

COHEN

Me Big Chief Shitting Bull.

Cohen starts drumming on the wall -- an Indian war dance.

WASLEWSKI

Tag, can you toss me the toilet

paper, please?

Tag throws it, and Waslewski catches it, circus-style, on his big toe. He uses some, then tosses the roll to Alec and stands up.

WASLEWSKI

Here you go, Alec. It's all yours.

COHEN

Just shit right down and write

yourself a letter.

TRAINEE (O.S.)

Formation!

ALEC

(groans)

God.

Cohen drums in cheerful imitation of a trumpet call.

COHEN

Self-control, my boy. That's the first lesson

of the Army. Potty-training 101. It's all part

of basic training. We must learn to adapt to

the shituation.

ALEC

Well, you don't seem to have learned it --

with that goddamned diarrhea of the mouth.

Everyone clears out quickly.

EXT. EXERCISE FIELD - DAY (SATURDAY)

All five platoons of Echo Company line up quickly on the exercise field. Roberts doesn't show up for this formation, nor do Sanderson, Evans, and Vassavion, who have passes, and Sullivan who is on CQ. The CAPTAIN of Echo Company presides as the five DRILL SERGEANTS read their rosters and check off the names quickly and mechanically. The Captain is just a couple years out of college --

not much older than the trainees. This is his first command. Like the trainees, he's self-conscious and awkward. All the sergeants read at the same time, but only the DRILL SERGEANT from the fifth platoon is clearly audible.

DRILL SERGEANT

Powell! POWELL

Here, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT

Rawlings!

RAWLINGS

Here, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT

Roberts!

HATHAWAY

On CQ, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT

Sanderson!

HATHAWAY

On pass, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT

Schneider!

Schneider accidentally swallows his bubblegum, then answers loudly.

SCHNEIDER

Here, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT

Sullivan!

HATHAWAY

On CQ, Drill Sergeant!

The Drill Sergeant stops for an uncomfortably long time and looks around.

DRILL SERGEANT

Tagliatti!

TAGLIATTI

Here, Drill Sergeant

DRILL SERGEANT

Vassavion! HATHAWAY

On pass, Drill Sergeant!

DRILL SERGEANT

Waslewski!

WASLEWSKI

Here, Drill Sergeant!

CAPTAIN (O.S.)

Third Platoon!

SERGEANT 3 (O.S.)

All present or accounted for, sir!

DRILL SERGEANT

Roberts!

Hathaway starts to speak, then stops himself.

CAPTAIN (O.S.)

Fourth Platoon!

SERGEANT 4 (O.S.)

All present or accounted for, sir!

DRILL SERGEANT

Roberts!

WASLEWSKI

On KP, Drill Sergeant!

CAPTAIN (O.S.)

Fifth Platoon!

DRILL SERGEANT

All present or accounted for, sir!

CAPTAIN (O.S.)

Company!

SERGEANTS (O.S.)

Platoon! CAPTAIN (O.S.)

Dismissed!

SERGEANTS (O.S.)

Dismissed!

Most of the trainees race to the mess hall to line up and wait for dinner. Some straggle off in small groups. Alec rushes to the barracks. Tagliatti, Waslewski, MacFarland, Delaney follows, more slowly. Rawlings is left alone on the exercise field. He looks lost.

INT. BARRACKS/BUNKROOM - DAY (SATURDAY)

Trainees enter the previously empty barracks. Alec heads straight to the latrine. Tagliatti, Waslewski, MacFarland, and Delaney stretch out on their bunks. Halfway down the aisle, Powell sits on his bed, his powerful frame bowed, a Bible on his lap. The temperature is over 95o. Everyone is sweating heavily.

WASLEWSKI

(spits)

Goddamn. They treat prisoners of war better

than this. I'd like to shove that Bill-of-Rights

crap right up that Drill Sergeant's ass.

DELANEY

That's the system for you. Here we are, free

citizens, and they've revoked our civil rights

and subjected us to this torture without there

ever having been a declaration of war, without

the express consent of Congress.

WASLEWSKI

All I want is a goddamned beer. There's a PX

a block away. And we can't go there.

MACFARLAND

Have a drink of water.

WASLEWSKI

Water? You call that piss "water?" All I

want's a goddamned beer.

MACFARLAND

Okay, Waz, okay. We're all in the same boat.

TAGLIATTI

Good thing Sarge can't count. It

sounded funny with three guys on CQ.

WASLEWSKI

And me, with my big mouth, I

said he was on KP.

DELANEY

Where the hell is Roberts?

WASLEWSKI

(licking his lips)

Maybe he just slipped over to

the PX for a beer.

TAGLIATTI

Yeah if nobody sees him, it'll be all right.

MACFARLAND

Don't anybody tell Rawlings.

That bastard would turn him in.

WASLEWSKI

Here comes Rawlings.

Rawlings enters. Everybody but Powell leaves the barracks in a hurry. Screendoor slams.

RAWLINGS

(laughs, weakly)

They sure got hungry fast.

Powell smiles, then goes back to reading his Bible. Rawlings turns to the water fountain, takes a swallow, and spits it out.

RAWLINGS

(continuing)

The water ought to get cool while everybody's

at supper. It needs a rest. We all need rest.

Rawlings hesitates, uncertain whether to leave or stay.Powell puts down his Bible and speaks.

POWELL

Would you like to play frisbee?

Rawlings grins from ear to ear.

EXT. EXERCISE FIELD - DAY

Rawlings and Powell throw a frisbee back and forth as the conversation goes back and forth between them. Powell throws it up, so it curves down at Rawlings at an unexpected angle. Rawlings throws it level and direct. They are both good at it.

RAWLINGS

You have a way about you. It's like you have

this inner strength and know just what to

do and say. Even when you say nothing at all,

you seem so decisive.

POWELL

(smiling)

Appearances are deceiving. Sometimes I wish

I were either fighting the war or fighting

against it. The world is multi-colored and

complex. There isn't any single answer, and

maybe our reservist compromise is the best

choice. I distrust people like Delaney who

see everything as just black and white,

conservative and liberal, right and wrong,

good and evil. I believe that yes-or-no

attitude is what leads to war.

RAWLINGS

I think I know what you mean. There's this

girl back home -- Madeline -- who was

always on my case because I was neither a

hawk nor a dove. I'd always see both sides

of an issue. Her worst insult was to call me

"reasonable."

POWELL

(smiling)

Well, I don't think anybody's ever called me

that. Certainly not my parents when I dropped

out of med school and became a carpenter.

Rawlings falters and misses a catch, then picks it up awkwardly

and hesitates before throwing it back.

RAWLINGS

Why the hell did you do that?

POWELL

One morning driving to school after an

all-nighter, I fell asleep on the expressway.

I woke up with a jolt ten miles past my

exit so scared I was more alert

than I had ever been in my life.

RAWLINGS

What did you do?

POWELL

I just kept driving. I ran out of gas a

couple hundred miles later near a

carpenter's shop. The owner was kind

enough to give me a job.

RAWLINGS

But how could you possibly? Med

school -- you must have worked

hard for years to get as far as

you were. How could you just

throw it away like that?

POWELL

I felt like I'd been sleepwalking for years.

I needed to understand. I couldn't just

live. I needed to know why I was

living. I'm still trying to understand. It

takes practice.

He heaves a dazzling sky-high curve.

INT. BARRACKS/BUNKROOM - DAY

As Rawlings climbs the stairs, Delaney enters, followed by Armstrong, Alec, and Cohen. Powell is still on his bunk, on the far side of the aisle, quietly reading the Bible. Beaulieu is sitting on bunk, near the entrance, writing a letter. Delaney slides up to Beaulieu (in stocking feet) and makes a fake jab at his face.

DELANEY

(laughing)

You flinched.

BEAULIEU

Cut the third grade shit, Delaney.

DELANEY

Ease off, soldier. Can't you take a joke?

BEAULIEU

Next time you do that, I'll kick

you in the balls.

Delaney fakes fear and exaggeratedly protects his crotch, then with a laugh turns to the others, who have gathered by the water fountain.

DELANEY

Okay, Armstrong, where's Roberts? You're

his bunkmate. You should know.

ARMSTRONG

He said he was going home.

DELANEY

Home? Is something wrong at home?

Somebody sick or something? He should

have told somebody. They'd call the Red

Cross and have them check it out. If it was

really bad, they'd give him a pass.

ARMSTRONG

Nobody's sick. He just said he

was going home.

ALEC

Freedom, Delaney. You talk a lot about

freedom. Well, there's your freedom. He

wants to go, so he goes. And what can

they do to him? Send him to Nam? He's

eleven bang-bang. Mortars. He's going to

Nam all right. No place but Nam. There's

your fucking freedom -- being so low you've

got nothing to lose.

COHEN

That's really profound, Alec.

(starts to sing softly.)

"Freedom's just another word for

nothing left to lose..."

DELANEY

Is he coming back? Did he say he

was coming back?

ARMSTRONG

He'll be back. When he's good

and ready, he'll be back.

ALEC

He's got thirty days. I heard a hold-over

talking about it -- one of the guys waiting

for court-martial. Thirty days and you're still

AWOL. But one minute more, and you're a

deserter, and they'll have the FBI after you.

DELANEY

FBI? These days there are so many

deserters the FBI can't hope to touch them.

But when the Drill Sergeant finds out that

Roberts is gone, he'll have all of us

low-crawling from one end of the company

area to the other. And we can forget about

ever getting PX privileges or

passes. Damn it. I can't take

four more weeks of this hell-hole.

ALEC

You're not going to rat on him,

are you, Delaney?

DELANEY

Hell, no. What's to gain by

ratting on him? As soon as they

know he's AWOL, we've had it.

But if we can cover it up till

he gets back, we'll be all right.

Alec whips out his blackjack and slams it against the wall in anger.

ALEC

That little bastard.

DELANEY

How long do you figure he'll be, Armstrong?

ARMSTRONG

Don't know. But I do know that Jackson,

Mississippi's a long ways from here.

COHEN

Shit almighty.

Alvardo barges in, angry and anxious.

ALVARDO

(shouts)

Sullivan! Sullivan!

BEAULIEU

I think he's still on CQ.

ALVARDO

Then fuck him. I've got to get

this wash done tonight.

DELANEY

Cool it, buster. My bag's ahead of yours.

ALVARDO

Fuck. All my fatigues stink. The

sweat's been fermenting on them

for weeks. Sometimes I think

they're more alive than I am.

DELANEY

Well, don't blame it on me. Mine

stink just as much as yours do.

It's the fucking system's fault,

giving us one washer for

forty-seven stinking guys.

BEAULIEU

When I get out of here, I'm going to

write a book about this shit-hole.

COHEN

Sure, why not. Just don't make a big deal

about it. It isn't like we're going to be shipped

to Nam. This isn't your usual basic training.

DELANEY

Yeah, we've got it easy. The system has

given us a few advantages, and we've

taken them, so we've got a stake in

the system. We don't have as

much of a stake as the runts and

cowards, but we can be counted

on not to shout too loud, not to

be too violent. That's how the

system perpetuates itself -- by

giving us things we'd be afraid

to part with. We have to be

willing to lose everything, to

destroy everything, if we ever

hope to attain freedom.

That's what's holding us

here, you know -- our compromises

with the system. There aren't any walls

or armed guards -- just imaginary lines.

One step beyond the line from

this tree to this building and

you're AWOL. One step over that

yellow line into the center

aisle and...

We don't worry about the

Drill Sergeant anymore. It isn't

a question of what he'd do to

us. We've internalized it all.

We react automatically. It's

like they took out our minds and

replaced them with machines. Or

rather, we did it to ourselves

so we could be good little boys

without having to think about

it. We form 'good habits,' like

good little boys.

Delaney, Alec, Armstrong, Cohen, and Alvardo go outside. The screendoor slams. Beaulieu waits till they are out of earshot, then walks down to Powell's bunk.

BEAULIEU

Did you hear that shit? Do you

believe that Delaney guy?

Powell sets aside his book and looks toward Beaulieu with concern.

POWELL

Why do you listen to him?

BEAULIEU

Some of what he says makes

sense, but I just don't trust the man.

POWELL

What is it that he says that attracts you?

The camera follows Powell's point of view as he studies the center aisle and the reflection of the sunlight on it. Beaulieu's mirror image is seen distorted on the

center aisle as he continues talking.

BEAULIEU

When I first got here, I thought

I'd found moral simplicity. The

world was reduced to just this

barracks. We were all confronted

with the same simple rules and

orders. You obey or disobey. You

cross the line or you don't. The

setup was like a sociology

experiment. And here's Delaney

talking about basic principles

-- freedom and rights, the

system and war.

While Beaulieu is talking, Powell takes out his handkerchief, spits on it, and carefully and slowly -- his face near the floor -- buffs one little imperfect spot.

BEAULIEU

(continuing)

He's good at making complex

issues look simple. Lots of what

he says makes sense.

POWELL

So what's your problem?

BEAULIEU

Delaney himself, I guess. He uses words

and ideas not to understand better, but to

persuade people. When he's done

lecturing, I get the uncomfortable feeling

that I've been changed in some way. I feel

manipulated and used.

Powell, his head still near the floor, turns and looks Beaulieu straight in the eye.

POWELL

Yes. Delaney is dangerous. He, not Roberts,

is the one who poses a threat to all of us.

INT. COLLEGE/DORM ROOM - NIGHT (SATURDAY)

Melody is stretched out studying, with the Simon and Garfunkel album "The Sound of Silence" playing in the background, when Madeline arrives unexpectedly.

MELODY

Madeline? On a Saturday night?

I thought you had a date?

MADELINE

He decided to go to an anti-war rally

instead of the movies. So I dumped him.

MELODY

So what brings you here?

MADELINE

I just got a crazy letter from George. He

mentions you. I thought you might get a

kick out of it.

MELODY

(laughs)

Since when do you write to George

Rawlings? I thought you couldn't stand

his guts. You called him an intolerable bore.

MADELINE

And he is. He writes to me even

though I don't write back.

But sometimes he comes up with

something amusing.

MELODY

About me?

MADELINE

And Frank.

MELODY

Frank Delaney? You mean they're

in the same unit?

Madeline nods.

MADELINE

Do you miss him?

MELODY

Yeah, I guess I do, even though he drives

me batty with that fake jab of his, always

playing the "flinch" game, no matter how

many times I tell him I hate it.

MADELINE

The last time he did it to me, I asked if he

did it because he had a sick sense of humor

or because he needed practice

pulling his punches.

MELODY

(laughs)

I'll have to remember that line. He can get so

uptight and tense, like half of him wants to let

loose and the other half keeps holding back.

MADELINE

Don't you wonder what would

happen if he let go?

MELODY

(considering)

Hmmm. That could be interesting.

And some day he will, I'm sure. MADELINE

Do you love him?

MELODY

I don't really think about him that way.

With the war and politics -- personal feelings

just don't seem that important. It would be

cheating to just go off and enjoy your life.

MADELINE

(laughs)

Well, in that case, I'm all for cheating.

Melody takes the letter and reads it out loud.

MELODY

(reading)

Dear Madeline, I know it must seem funny

getting these letters from me. Sure we parted

as "friends." I haven't forgotten. But you

have no idea what it's like here, what hell it

is. I need someone to write to, someone to

dream of. Just to keep my sanity, I need it.

Please let me delude myself a bit. Please

don't keep hitting me over the head with a

sledge-hammer. Afterall, how can either of

us know what things will be like in three

months? People change. Just let me

believe there might be a chance.

MADELINE

God! What an idiot! I can just

imagine him scrunched up in bed

with his fantasies.

MELODY

(continues reading)

Sometimes I regret ever having gotten

myself into this mess. I should have

paid a dentist to put braces on my teeth

and avoided the military altogether.

But I've always planned to go into politics

after law school. I hate the Army. I know

there's no moral justification for Nam.

But to get elected to a position of

authority so I can do something to prevent

future Nams, I have to have served in

the military. It's one of the unfortunate

facts of politics, one of the compromises

that have to be made.

MADELINE

(ironic)

He's always had noble ambitions.

He makes his mother proud.

MELODY

Yeah, it's reasoning like his that keeps

this war going. So many people who don't

believe in it support it with their actions.

(reads again)

The platoon hates me for not standing up

to the Drill Sergeant, for not voicing their

wants and opinions. And the Sergeant is

riding me for not being more strict with the

platoon, for not asserting my authority,

for not giving him the names of slackers

so he can punish them. He claims there's

no excuse for me getting gigs in

inspection, that I should have the others

make my bed, straighten my area, check

and recheck. But I can't see

burdening them with my problems.

They've got little enough time

to do their own work.

There's nobody here I can

talk to, except Powell and maybe

Delaney. You know Frank Delaney

is here in the same platoon.

He and I weren't close back at

school, but we knew one another

by name, which makes me feel

closer to him than anyone else

here. I haven't had a chance to

talk much to him yet. But I may

need to soon.

(reads)

Things are looking bad, and I'll need every

friend I can get. Frank says Melody's pregnant.

Melody pauses, with a quizzical look, then continues.

MELODY

(continues reading)

Remember Melody from English class?

He's deeply concerned and wants to get

home as quickly as he can to be with her.

You could see the love in his eyes.

Clearly, it pained him to say anything

about it. But he needs a weekend pass, and

the only way to get one is to beat others who

are better than him at the mile run. I'd throw

the race, but I'm not his competition. I can't

do anything to help him.

MADELINE

(nosey and curious)

Have you decided?

MELODY

Decided what?

MADELINE

Whether to have it, of course.

MELODY

What are you talking about? I'm not pregnant.

I don't know why he's feeding those guys that

kind of bologna.

MADELINE

Well, what's it sound like?

MELODY

It sounds like he's desperate to come running

home to me. But that's just not like Delaney.

That's as crazy as that phone call I got from him.

MADELINE

He called?

MELODY

Yeah, on Thursday. The same day

this letter was written. He said

something about taking a job with a

computer company and getting

married, settling in the suburbs and

having kids.

MADELINE

And you don't find that romantic?

MELODY

It just wasn't like him to forget his

responsibility to the cause. I figured

their brainwashing must be getting to

him. He just didn't sound like himself.

MADELINE

(laughs)

Melody, you're incredible. Why fight

war with war? You'll only end up

with war.

MELODY

What else can a responsible person do?

Madeline looks at herself in a mirror from her purse, and gives her hair a quick brush stroke before answering.

MADELINE

Why not make love instead?

INT. BARRACKS/BUNKROOM - DAY (SUNDAY)

Hathaway and Schneider are on their bunks. Alvardo and Cohen are standing by the water fountain. The screendoor slams, and Alec walks in. He has a blackjack in one hand and keeps hitting the palm of his other hand with it.

ALVARDO

Put that blackjack away. It

makes me nervous.

ALEC

For me, it's just the opposite. It calms me.

It relieves the tension to know I've got

something familiar to fall back on.

ALVARDO

Better not let the Sergeant see you with that.

ALEC

We're not likely to see him on a Sunday

afternoon, now are we? Look, Alvardo,

I can take care of myself, thank you.

Delaney enters, wrapped in a towel.

DELANEY

By any chance, were you one of the

cops who bashed the heads of

students at the Chicago convention?

ALEC

No, I was a student myself then.

I was on the receiving end.

COHEN

Times change.

Alec hits his palm very hard with the blackjack.

ALEC

Yes. They change real fast.

HATHAWAY

Alec, take your boots off.

ALEC

Don't be a pain in the ass. It's

Sunday. Cool it.

HATHAWAY

I don't give a damn if it's

Doomsday. Take off those boots.

SCHNEIDER

(gently persuading)

Go ahead, Alec. We all do it. HATHAWAY

And get your damned foot off that

center aisle. What do you think you are?

Special or something? Everybody

else walks around, and you can, too.

The barracks door slams again. Rawlings enters, wearing boots.

HATHAWAY

Hey, Rawlings, take off your boots.

RAWLINGS

Okay, already. I'm just going to my room.

HATHAWAY

No exceptions. You know that.

RAWLINGS

Okay. Okay. Just a minute.

Schneider heads for the latrine. Walking past Rawlings, he blows and pops a bubble.

RAWLINGS

(distracted)

Schneider, please. That bubblegum

drives me crazy. What was I going to

say? Yes. Where's Roberts? Has anybody

seen Roberts? He isn't on CQ.

DELANEY

KP. Remember. He got night KP

for a week.

Rawlings heads upstairs, without taking his boots off.

ALEC

Quick thinking, Delaney. I forgot

about that. That's where he should be.

DELANEY

Yeah. He should be on KP. And he

should be on CQ. And he should have

gotten somebody to fill in for him on

one or the other. But nobody's seen him

since Friday, and we don't know where he is.

INT. BARRACKS/RAWLINGS' ROOM - DAY (SUNDAY)

Rawlings enters, tired and dragging, with his boots on, and discovers Powell sitting on his bunk, carefully polishing his display boots for him.

RAWLINGS

What are you doing? There's no

need for that?

POWELL

Well, a little extra spit and polish won't

hurt. You get enough grief as it is.

RAWLINGS

(taken aback)

Well... thanks. Thanks for doing it and

thanks for being here. I do need to talk to you.

POWELL

Yes?

RAWLINGS

I feel like I passed the exit miles ago, and

there's no point in going back.

POWELL

Meaning?

RAWLINGS

I've decided not to go to law school -- at

least not now. And I'm not sure whether

I want to pursue politics as a career.

POWELL

Is this some form of personal protest

against the war and the "system"?

RAWLINGS

No. I just feel I've got a lot of growing

up to do. I have to understand a few

things before I can go ahead.

POWELL

What kind of things?

RAWLINGS

Roberts and Armstrong and Franklin

and Jones, for instance. I'd like to know

why they pulled that block-out

routine so Delaney would have a

chance to win a pass to go home

to his pregnant girlfriend. I'd

like to know why they had the

sensitivity and the courage to

do that, while the rest of us didn't.

POWELL

Why don't you ask them?

RAWLINGS

Maybe I will if I can get up the

courage to. It's not easy for me

to talk to blacks. I've got a few

generations of guilt behind me.

He picks up a boot that Powell just finished and admires the shine.

RAWLINGS

(continuing)

My great-grandfather had a

plantation in Tennessee and owned a

hundred slaves. My parents were proud

when they told me that, and I was proud

of it too.

I never paid much attention to

news reports about civil rights

demonstrations. That was all far away,

down south. When Martin Luther King

was shot, I didn't know who he

was. When Watts and other black

neighborhoods burned, I just

changed the channel and watched

something else. Let those white

bigots and Negro radicals fight

things out on their own. It didn't

affect me. Why should I care?

POWELL

And what's different now?

RAWLINGS

I'm in charge here. I didn't ask to be

made platoon leader. It's a burden,

not an honor. But I take it seriously.

I'm responsible for those four blacks

in this platoon, along with everybody else.

They're going to be shipped off

to Nam as soon as this is over, while

the rest of us go back to college and grad

school and jobs. And I don't even know

how to talk to them. I don't think I've

ever had a conversation with a black

person in my life. Not that I'm

prejudiced. I've just never been in that

kind of social situation. And I must admit I

feel awkward, and, yes, guilty toward them.

POWELL

I think I know what you mean. I was

trained by my parents to feel moral

responsibility and guilt, not only for

what I did, but for what I should have done

and didn't do.

RAWLINGS

Right. "The sins of omission," my

mother calls it. I think back at all the

occasions when I could have stood up

and said something to fight prejudice and

support civil rights, or could

have gone a couple steps out of

my way to make a friend.

POWELL

It sounds all too familiar. It

reminds me of the story of that

knight who was looking for the

Holy Grail, and once it passed

right in front of his face, only

he didn't recognize it. All his

life he felt the burden of guilt

for what he had not done -- for

not having seen it and chosen

it, and done the right thing.

And he kept hoping vainly for a

second chance.

RAWLINGS

Yes. That's it. I'm not sure

when or how, but I missed the

Grail -- I missed that chance

to be a true and caring human

being, to make the world a

little better for someone else.

Sure, I'm a "bleeding

heart liberal." I'm probably

just plain stupid. But I feel

responsible for these four

blacks I hardly know, and I want

a second chance. And I think,

I've found a way to help them.

INT. BARRACKS/LATRINE/SHOWER STALL - DAY (SUNDAY)

Little Evans enters, leading the huge, lumbering Vassavion, who clutches a six-pack of beer to his chest and is magnificent in drunkenness.

VASSAVION

All hail to Caesar! All ale to me!

With considerable effort, Evans pushes Vassavion into the stall, turns on the water, and leaves.

VASSAVION

(continuing)

Three cheers for King Richard!

And three beers for me!

Vassavion leans his head back and lets the water hit his face, then stumbles out.

INT. BARRACKS/LATRINE - DAY

MacFarland, Sullivan, and Beaulieu are waiting to do their laundry. Vassavion comes staggering in, soaking wet.

VASSAVION

(to himself in mirror)

At great personal risk, and exercising

considerable self-restraint, I have brought

you a six-pack -- six bright, sparkling,

lukewarm, unopened, certified virgin cans

of Schlitz. The fruits of that precious

week-end pass I was so blessed with.

Waslewski comes rushing in and grabs a can.

VASSAVION

(continuing)

Drink up, my boy, drink up. I

feel the thirst coming on me.

Man lives not by bread alone.

Give me one of those cans.

He throws down his half-empty can. He stumbles to one of the empty johns and vomits. Waslewski opens a can for himself.

WASLEWSKI

You lucky bastard. I'd give my

right ball to get out of this place.

Tagliatti enters, carrying his newspaper.

TAGLIATTI

Where's Evans?

VASSAVION

Evans? He was with me a minute

ago. While I was painting the

town, he was looking for paint.

He has the soul of an artist.

Rawlings enters the latrine and nearly trips over a beer can. Vassavion greets him with a magnificent bow.

VASSAVION

Welcome, Prince Hal.

RAWLINGS

You're drunk.

VASSAVION

Then be ye crowned king already? A

hollow crown and an empty noodle.

'Tis true 'tis pity, and pity 'tis 'tis you.

RAWLINGS

You're drunk.

VASSAVION

Amen. And hallowed be thy name. And

hollowed be thy head. Howl, howl, howl,

the beer is foul. A foul ball. We had a ball,

and the beer was foul. Out of line, your

highness, most definitely out of line. But I'll

go straight from honest to goodness. Don't

'arry me, me boy; I'll do it at me own speed.

RAWLINGS

(standing at a urinal)

Please stay out of sight.

Rawlings quickly buttons up his fatigues and leaves. Vassavion chugs a beers and shakes his head.

VASSAVION

I do believe the old boy's pissed off. He has

no sense of humor, no sense at all.

Vassavion stretches out with his head on a laundry bag and immediately falls asleep, with a cherubic grin on his face. Tagliatti, MacFarland, and Sullivan each grab a can of beer, finishing off the six-pack. Waslewski picks up the empties and pours the few remaining drops down his throat, then absent-mindedly crushes the cans in his hand, as if they were paper cups. Sanderson and Cohen come in.

WASLEWSKI

(bellows)

Evans, would you believe that Evans?

He never so much as tasted a beer. A

weekend pass. That runt had thirty-two

hours of freedom, thirty-two hours in

the land of bars and brothels.

And he spent it chasing after

paint so he can pretty up the

barracks. What a waste.

BEAULIEU

(looks up from letter)

Paint?

WASLEWSKI

Yeah. And that ain't the half of

it. You know what color he got?

BEAULIEU

What?

WASLEWSKI

Yellow.

BEAULIEU

What the hell can he paint yellow?

WASLEWSKI

The lines. The fucking lines for the center

aisle. Those fucking lines we're not supposed

to step over. He wants to repaint them so they'll

be neat and pretty. He thinks it'll be worth

bonus points for inspection. Bonus points.

God, that runt's out of his ever-fucking mind.

Waslewski trips on a laundry bag, then sits down on it and stretches out on the long line of laundry bags, beside Vassavion. He swallows the last drop from the last can, then pounds the floor with the can.

SANDERSON

You know, that's not a bad idea.

WASLEWSKI

What?

SANDERSON

Going for bonus points. We're

going to need plenty of bonus points.

COHEN

You mean because of our little

problem with Roberts?

SANDERSON

I mean our problem with all four of the

draftees. They just don't give a damn.

Whether it's inspections or PT or rifle

range they could care less. And they pull

down the score of the whole platoon.

SULLIVAN

Hell, yeah. If they got in gear, the whole

bunch of us could have passes next weekend.

SANDERSON

And the weekend after that.

Beaulieu kicks the floor with his heel.

BEAULIEU

God, I could use a pass.

WASLEWSKI

Vassavion's such a lucky bastard. There he

lies -- shit-faced drunk and half-way to heaven.

SULLIVAN

Yeah, Vassavion sure knows how to use a pass.

COHEN

(mocking)

Oh, the sweet oblivion of drunkenness.

SULLIVAN

Is that a song?

COHEN

No, but it should be.

Waslewski pounds on the wall with both fists.

WASLEWSKI

If I don't get a pass soon, I'm

going to pound this wall to dust.

COHEN

Cool it, Samson. We're all in

the same boat.

INT. BARRACKS/RAWLINGS' ROOM - DAY (SUNDAY)

Rawlings is on his bed, writing a letter, with his boots still on. The screen door slams three times in rapid succession.

ARMSTRONG (O.S.)

Yo! Roberts! You back yet?

DELANEY (O.S.)

(whispers loudly)

Cool it, Armstrong.

Rawlings gets up, quickly goes to the door of his room and shouts.

RAWLINGS

Armstrong! Could you come up here

for a minute please. And bring Roberts,

Franklin, and Jones, if they're around.

Armstrong, Franklin, and Jones enter and linger awkwardly near the door .

RAWLINGS

(continuing)

Come on in. Make yourselves comfortable.

He removes the writing paper from his bed. Armstrong and Franklin sit down. Jones stays by the door. Rawlings stands by the window.

RAWLINGS

(continuing)

You're probably wondering why I

asked you up here.

ARMSTRONG

(cautious and ironic)

The thought had occurred to me. Yes,

indeed, sir.

RAWLINGS

(awkward)

I thought we ought to get to

know one another.

Armstrong stands up, stretches out his arm, and shakes hands with Rawlings. Meanwhile Franklin picks up the boots Powell just polished and admires the shine.

ARMSTRONG

Sam Armstrong here.

RAWLINGS

(smiling)

George Rawlings.

ARMSTRONG

Pleased to meet you. This is Ben Franklin

and Jimmy Jones. Thanks for the hospitality.

We be on our way now.

RAWLINGS

Wait. ... Please.

ARMSTRONG

Yes, siree, by George. By George

Rawlings, indeed, sir.

As a nervous gesture, Armstrong takes the paperback book out of his back pocket (One Dimensional Man) and flips the pages with his thumb. Franklin tries on the boots and gives them a little extra spit and polish.

RAWLINGS

You come from the South?

ARMSTRONG

My, what discerning ears you have. Yes,

I hail from Memphis. Ben, here is from

Raleigh, North Carolina. And Jim comes

from Los Angeles. You may have heard of

the thriving community known as Watts.

RAWLINGS

You've been to college?

ARMSTRONG

Another point for the platoon

leader. I spent one year at the City

College of New York. And I spent

two more years in that fine city in the

university of the streets.

RAWLINGS

And Roberts?

FRANKLIN

(quickly)

We don't know where he is.

JONES

No idea at all.

RAWLINGS

I mean, did he go to college, too?

ARMSTRONG

Yeah, for a while. Then he had

to take off for a year to earn more

money for tuition, and he lost his

student deferment and got drafted.

RAWLINGS

(sympathizing)

Shit.

ARMSTRONG

No harm done. It's a lot safer

here than at Jackson State.

RAWLINGS

You mean the one...

ARMSTRONG

Yeah, where the National Guard shot up

the women's dorm. Right after Kent State.

RAWLINGS

Two people were killed.

ARMSTRONG

Yes, you do read your newspapers, don't

you, sir. But don't you worry your head

over it. Roberts is a lucky son of a bitch.

He can take care of himself. He got away

from college, with all that nasty anti-war

warfare, and hid out here in the peaceful

confines of the Army. But then again,

aren't you and your friends National Guard?

(laughs)

Just joshing, sir.

RAWLINGS

I'm against the war.

ARMSTRONG

No, kidding. It does my heart

good to hear that, sir.

RAWLINGS

Seriously, Armstrong. The country is

going through trying times.

ARMSTRONG

Yes, I keep trying, too.

RAWLINGS

All these Reservists and National

Guard, we must seem strange to you.

Let me explain. We aren't hawks and

we aren't doves.

ARMSTRONG

And you aren't fish and you aren't fowl.

RAWLINGS

Seriously. The conservatives all went

into ROTC or volunteered for Nam.

The radicals are conscientious objectors

or went to Canada or burnt their draft

cards and went underground. We're the

excluded middle -- neither conservative nor

radical. And neither side recognizes our

right to exist. To the conservatives, we're

cowards, seeking a safe way out. To the

radicals we're traitors. At college, just after

Cambodia and Kent State, someone I had

always considered a friend cornered me

and threatened that I'd be one of the "first

ones against the wall when the revolution

starts." He didn't say "if" the revolution

starts, but "when." He and lots of

others are certain that it is

historically inevitable.

I'd have never guessed that he would go

that way. His father has millions, and

here he is an advocate of a Marxist

revolution.

ARMSTRONG

The poor boy, suffering all the

trauma of reverse poverty.

RAWLINGS

It's some law of human behavior that in

time of crisis, everyone hates a reasonable

man. You must take sides. If you're not for

me, you're against me.

FRANKLIN

Makes sense to me.

JONES

Me, too.

RAWLINGS

I'm rationally opposed to the war in

Viet Nam, and I'm sure most of the

Reservists and National Guardsmen

here feel the same. We don't oppose

war in general. We could imagine

circumstances in which we would

have to go to war against different

enemies and for different reasons. We

wanted support political efforts to end

the war, but we couldn't justify the more

radical solutions that many students were

turning toward. We were a small and

dwindling minority, unorganized, with no

sense of solidarity with one another. We

were identifiable only by our failure

to conform with one or the other extreme.

We were loners in a world governed by

crowds.

ARMSTRONG

(mock sympathetic)

Poor boy.

RAWLINGS

Here we find ourselves internalizing

the system we opposed, becoming the

symbols we wanted to stand up against.

We feel compelled to rebel, but have

no one to rebel against but ourselves.

Armstrong makes the sign of the cross and bows solemnly.

ARMSTRONG

Bless you, my son. You are

forgiven. Now, may we go?

RAWLINGS

I don't seem to be making my point.

JONES

Yeah, the score's still nothing to nothing.

Franklin slaps hands with Jones.

FRANKLIN

Right on, man.

RAWLINGS

Roberts seems to have natural

athletic ability.

JONES

Are you a scout for some football team

or something? I'm pretty good, too, you

know, when I go all out.

RAWLINGS

That's what I want.

JONES

What?

RAWLINGS

I want you to go all out -- all four of you.

I want you to give it your best at PT and

on the rifle range, and even in inspections.

ARMSTRONG

(laughing)

You mean this is just a pep talk? You

think with a few well-chosen words you

can get us to bust our butts so you guys

can get weekend passes? You want us

to go flying right through basic to Nam,

so you guys can get shit-faced drunk

and fuck whores. Sure, buddy, sure. And

you believe in the Tooth Fairy?

JONES

(laughs)

Yeah, why should I bust my butt?

RAWLINGS

I can make it worth your while.

FRANKLIN

(showing interest)

You got drugs?

RAWLINGS

(taken aback)

No, money.

ARMSTRONG

Now, let me get this right. You want us to

jump through hoops like good little soldier

boys. And what are you going to pay us for that?

RAWLINGS

One thousand dollars a piece.

JONES

Are you crazy, man?

FRANKLIN

Are you filthy rich like your

friend the Marxist?

RAWLINGS

No. But I have saved up four thousand

dollars for law school, and I would like

to give it to you three and Roberts.

ARMSTRONG

What the fuck? You give up law school

so these dumb-assed honkeys who hate

your guts can get a couple of stinking

weekend passes? What kind of dope are

you on, man?

JONES

Yeah, let me have some of that.

Share the wealth.

RAWLINGS

I'm trying to share the wealth. I wish I

could do more. But that's all I have. I realize

it's nothing next to the sacrifices you are

making going to war. I realize it's nothing

next to the prejudice and poverty you've

had to endure. But it's all I can do, and I

want to do it.

ARMSTRONG

(laughs)

Hold on now, boys. I do believe this man

speaks the truth. I hear the true voice of white

liberal guilt. He actually means to pay us that

money. That's his blood money, his sacrifice

to a guilty group conscience. I've seen other victims of this

strange disease while panhandling in New York.

FRANKLIN

Cool it, Sam. Don't bite the

hand with the golden egg.

ARMSTRONG

Don't worry, Ben. He won't

change his mind. He likes it

when I insult him. Hell, he'd

wear a hair shirt now, if he

could find one. He'll pay. You

can be sure, he'll pay.

RAWLINGS

You understand that I want you

to do your best.

FRANKLIN

(ironic)

Hell, for a thousand bucks? I'm starting

to love this fucking army. If the gooks

don't blow me up in Nam, I think I'll re-up.

Yeah, man, I'll be a fucking first-class soldier.

ARMSTRONG

You want us to perform as we as Roberts

can? Sure, man, we'll out-Robert Roberts.

And Roberts is good, believe me. Why he

could run all the way home to Jackson,

Mississippi and back in just one night, that's

how fast he is.

JONES

Yeah, man, I'm pretty fast myself. Why if I

turn it on, I bet I can beat Sanderson at the mile.

FRANKLIN

Five?

Jones shakes Franklin's hand in agreement.

JONES

Five bucks it is. You've got a bet, brother.

RAWLINGS

Only one condition.

FRANKLIN

Uh oh, here it comes.

RAWLINGS

Don't tell anyone about this agreement of

ours, except Roberts; or the deal is off.

ARMSTRONG

Whatever turns you on, buddy.

RAWLINGS

Then we have a deal?

ARMSTRONG

You most certainly have a deal.

They all shake hands.

EXT. BARRACKS/JUST OUTSIDE DOOR - DAY (SUNDAY)

Delaney, Hathaway and Beaulieu are huddled together outside, near the barracks' door. Armstrong, Franklin, and Jones come running down the stairs and outside..

RAWLINGS (O.S.)

Armstrong!

ARMSTRONG

(in mock subservience)

Yes, massah.

RAWLINGS (O.S.)

Don't forget to tell Roberts!

ARMSTRONG

We shall most certainly follow

your wishes with religious zeal.

JONES

You can bet on that one.

Hathaway signals them to follow him away from the building, over toward the trees.

HATHAWAY

What was that all about?

ARMSTRONG

Nothing.

BEAULIEU

Come on. What's Rawlings' interest in Roberts?

ARMSTRONG

The boss man thinks Roberts is a fine athlete.

He wants to recruit him for the Dallas Cowboys.

HATHAWAY

Cut the horse crap. We all know Roberts has

gone AWOL. Is Rawlings fixing to turn him in?

DELANEY

And us, too, for covering up?

ARMSTRONG

AWOL? I don't know any AWOL.

Jim, do you know any AWOL?

JONES

Must be some other Roberts he's talking about.

Only Roberts I know is on KP.

FRANKLIN

And CQ.

ARMSTRONG

And ASAP. And PDQ. He's a well-lettered

man. A good friend of mine. Known him

for weeks. Why I'd trust him a long ways.

I'd trust him as far as Jackson, Mississippi.

DELANEY

(to Hathaway)

There's no point in talking to them. They've

copped some kind of deal with Rawlings.

Beaulieu kicks the ground in frustration.

DELANEY

(continuing)

We've got to get to Rawlings, and fast.

HATHAWAY

What are you going to tell him?

DELANEY

Not me, you.

BEAULIEU

Delaney, you knew him in college, didn't you?

DELANEY

Barely.

BEAULIEU

Maybe he'd listen to you.

DELANEY

No, Hathaway's the one with authority around here.

He turns to face Hathaway.

DELANEY

(continuing)

Everyone respects you, even

Rawlings. Find out if he's

already ratted on Roberts.

And if he hasn't, talk him out

of doing it. He's no hot-head

radical militarist. He's an

intelligent, educated guy.

Appeal to his reason.

INT. BARRACKS/RAWLINGS' ROOM - DAY

Rawlings is stretched out on his bed again, reading, when Hathaway knocks at the door. Rawlings gets up and opens it for him.

RAWLINGS

Come in. Come in.

Rawlings shakes Hathaway's hand with enthusiasm.

RAWLINGS

(continuing)

I'm very glad you came up. I've

been wanting to talk to you for

weeks. You're clearly the one

the men respect the most -- the

real leader of the platoon. And

I wanted to thank you, for the

fine job you've been doing.

He reaches out and shakes Hathaway's hand again. Hathaway is puzzled.

RAWLINGS

(continuing)

And what brings you here now?

Or is it just Sunday afternoon

sociability? Not that I want to

discourage sociability. No, indeed.

I need all the friends I can get.

HATHAWAY

Actually, I was wondering about Roberts.

RAWLINGS

That's a coincidence. I was just talking

to his three friends about him. Yes, Roberts

has fine potential. They all do, if given a

chance. And I'd like to see them given a chance.

HATHAWAY

(ironic)

You mean you'd like to recruit

him for the Dallas Cowboys?

RAWLINGS

That would be a fine idea, if I

could do it. Why he reminds me

of Calvin Hill, that fine

running back from Yale.

HATHAWAY

Running back? You'd like to see

him running back? Shit, what a

wise-ass you are!

Hathaway stomps out and slams the door behind him, leaving Rawlings bewildered.

EXT. BARRACKS/BY THE TREES - DAY

Hathaway rejoins Delaney and Beaulieu.

DELANEY

What did he say?

HATHAWAY

Running back. Shit. He just

mocked me and talked nonsense.

He knows damned well about

Roberts. But he wouldn't admit

it. And he wouldn't let on what

he's doing. Shit.

RAWLINGS (O.S.)

Delaney! Delaney! Could you

come up here for a minute, please?

DELANEY

Now we're screwed. Royally screwed.

INT. BARRACKS/RAWLINGS' ROOM - DAY

Rawlings holds the door open as Delaney enters. Then Rawlings checks the hall to make sure no one else is within earshot and shuts the door.

RAWLINGS

Hathaway was just here.

DELANEY

I noticed.

RAWLINGS

There seems to have been some

misunderstanding. I want to make

sure it's set right, and quickly.

DELANEY

Well, what are you doing about Roberts?

RAWLINGS

Did they tell you, already?

DELANEY

They told me exactly nothing. But you were

just shouting down the hallway about Roberts.

RAWLINGS

All right. I'll tell you. I need to tell you.

I need your help, to set the record straight,

but not too straight. I've been meaning to

talk to you for some time. I've been meaning

to do a lot for some time. Now I'm finally

doing it.

He laughs nervously.

RAWLINGS

(continuing)

God! I'm finally doing it.

DELANEY

Well, isn't it about time you thought of

someone other than yourself? There are

46 people in this platoon you're

responsible for.

RAWLINGS

(puzzled)

But I am. I am. That's the point of it.

DELANEY

(exasperated)

The point of what?

RAWLINGS

Can I confide in you?

DELANEY

Are you trying to make some kind of deal?

RAWLINGS

I have made a deal. I made one

with Armstrong, Franklin, and

Jones. Roberts will be in on it,

too, once they tell him about it.

DELANEY

So Roberts gets off scot free?

You're only interested in the coverup?

RAWLINGS

I'm not trying to cover anything

up. I want to level with you,

explain to you what I've done

and why. And I want you to let

the others know what my

intentions are -- that I'm out

to help them -- without giving

them the full, embarrassing details.

DELANEY

What the shit are you talking about?

RAWLINGS

First, you have to understand

where I'm coming from. All my

life I've planned on going to

law school and then getting into

politics. I dreamed of becoming

a Congressman one day.

DELANEY

Law. Of course. I should have

seen it coming.

RAWLINGS

Then you understand? I can't tell you how

relieved I am. I've been under a lot of pressure.

The Drill Sergeant has been on my case, and

I've been struggling with this question. You

might say, I'm obsessed with it, and not

entirely acting like myself. It's disorienting to

suddenly change the direction of your life.

DELANEY

(puzzled)

Are you going to slit your

wrists or something?

RAWLINGS

(laughs)

No. No. I'm giving up law school. I'm giving

the money I saved for law school to the four

black draftees in our platoon. This is

something I need to do.It's a personal

sacrifice, a penance. You see, if I didn't do

this I would forever feel hypocritical and

dishonest. Maybe, having done this, someday

I will be able to go into politics, crazy as that

sounds.

DELANEY

(incredulous)

You're giving them money?

RAWLINGS

A thousand dollars a piece. I

know it's crude and selfish of

me. It's like in the Civil War

when the rich, if they were

drafted, could pay the poor to

take their place. They are

taking our place, you know --

going straight to Nam. I wish I

could do more for them. But it's

all I have.

DELANEY

(laughs)

And that's what it's all about?

RAWLINGS

That and the fact that in exchange for the

money, they've promised to go all out to help

the platoon win the company competition.

DELANEY

Four thousand bucks to charity? Sure. Sounds

great. As long as it's your money.

RAWLINGS

I realize it sounds strange.

That's why I'd prefer to keep it

confidential. I just want to do

it. I don't want to be razzed and

humiliated for it. Will you help me?

DELANEY

How?

RAWLINGS

Talk to Hathaway. Let him know

that I have the best interests

of the platoon at heart. Let him

know that I've talked the draftees into

giving their all in the competition. Let

him know that if we all pull together

this week and next, there's a good chance

we'll all get weekend passes. Just don't tell

him or anyone else about the money.

DELANEY

Have no fear.

Delaney takes a fake jab at Rawlings' face.

DELANEY

(continuing)

You flinched.

Delaney does it again.

DELANEY

(continuing)

You flinched again.

RAWLINGS

(annoyed)

Why do you always do that?

DELANEY

I'm just practicing. Practicing self-control.

That's not easy in a crazy place like this.

The tension builds up, and you just

want to let loose -- "Full steam

ahead and damn the torpedoes."

He boxes with his own shadow on the wall.

DELANEY

(continuing)

Okay, you let loose by giving away all

your money. Me? Who knows? Maybe

I'll bust a few heads. Maybe I'll bust yours.

He swings again at Rawlings, who ducks. Otherwise, the punch would have hit him.

DELANEY

(continuing)

Good move, George. Good move.

RAWLINGS

I don't understand you at all.

DELANEY

Come on, George. Haven't you ever

wanted to walk into the principal's office

and tell him just what you think of him?

Haven't you ever wanted to go up to your

boss and tell him he could stuff that stupid

job? Haven't you ever wanted to forget all

the responsibilities that tie you up? There

is no tomorrow. You're over the brink.

You've crossed the Rubicon. There's nothing

more to lose. All bets are off. Everything is

permitted. There's no control at all.

Have you ever wondered what it would

feel like to be free -- totally free?

Rawlings backs off, cautiously.

RAWLINGS

Cut the bullshit, Delaney. Will

you keep your word?

DELANEY

Yeah, I probably will, George. I probably

will. Until all fucking hell breaks loose.

And that could be any minute now.

INT. BARRACKS/BASE OF THE STAIRS - DAY (SUNDAY)

Hathaway is waiting for Delaney as he comes downstairs.

HATHAWAY

What did he say?

DELANEY

Nothing. He just danced around the subject,

like he did with you. He's into some kind of

power trip, trying to scare us. Lord only

knows what he's after.

Delaney goes into the bunkroom.

INT. BARRACKS/BUNKROOM - DAY (SUNDAY)

Powell and others are on bunks. Delaney enters as Cohen confronts Evans by the water fountain.

COHEN

(to Evans)

What the hell's this nonsense about paint?

EVANS

If you've got to play the game,

why not play to win?

COHEN

God, I don't see how you can

take this crap seriously.

EVANS

But I don't So they say, don't cross that

line. What the hell should I care? Do I

really need to cross that line? Hell no. If

it were something important, that would

be different. But this is all nonsense. So

why not play along and beat them at

their own game?

COHEN

Don't you have any guts? You just buckle

under and do everything they tell you.

Don't you have any self-respect? Damn

it, why don't you stand up for

yourself sometime. Rebel.

EVANS

Rebel? What the hell for? Why the hell

should you want to walk there? Why make

a big deal of it? It only takes a minute to

walk around. If they're dumb enough to

want to make a rule about it, okay -- humor

them a bit. If you see it as a game and get

into the swing of it, you can have some fun,

instead of just griping all the time.

You sound like you want to break

rules just because they are rules. Hell,

Cohen, get the team spirit. With freshly

painted lines, we'll win the Monday

inspection by a wide enough margin to win

for the week. That'll give us three

weeks we've won and two ties.

One more win after that, and

we'll have clinched the barracks

competition. The second platoon

will probably take the PT

competition. But we have a good

shot at the rifle and the G3,

and a damn good chance to come

out best overall platoon.

COHEN

Maybe you've got a stronger

stomach than me.

Maybe you can eat more shit than

I can without getting sick.

Maybe you can even learn to love

eating shit. But I've reached my

limit. Just one bit more and I'll... I'll..."

EVANS

Gripe some more?

Cohen clenches his fist, then laughs and starts drumming a Beattles tune on the wall.

COHEN

(sings)

"So, you want a revolution. Well, you know...

we all want to change the world..."

Beaulieu enters from the latrine.

DELANEY

(smiles)

Not a bad idea, Cohen. Not bad at all.

Beaulieu leans over the water fountain, takes a swallow, and spits it out.

BEAULIEU

That water's hotter than piss.

DELANEY

And just as tasty. But it's wet.

Give it credit for being wet.

BEAULIEU

For once, I'd just like to get

some simple satisfaction,

without compromise.

Cohen switches to drumming the song "Satisfaction."

COHEN

(sings, then hums)

"I can't get no... Satisfaction..."

BEAULIEU

I mean there's got to be some place in

this world where you can just live in peace,

and be with the people you care for.

Nothing fancy -- just a place where the

water is cool, and you can sleep at night

and you can be yourself.

The screen door slams. Sullivan enters.

SULLIVAN

(shouts)

Has anybody seen Roberts?

DELANEY

(whispers)

Keep it down. He's AWOL. We're

hoping he'll come back tonight.

SULLIVAN

(whispers)

But what if he doesn't come back? We

can't cover for him forever, and it's a serious

offense if they find out we've been covering

for him.

DELANEY

Yes, indeed. And Rawlings is liable to rat

on him and us. And then we'll all get

screwed. Just cool it, and hope, kid.

Cool it and hope.

He turns to Beaulieu and speaks louder.

DELANEY

(continuing)

What were you just saying, Beaulieu?

BEAULIEU

Just that somewhere there's got to be a good

place to live, where you are free to be yourself.

DELANEY

No, don't kid yourself. It's Catch-22.

The world of business and the

world of the army. Milo

Minderbinder runs the whole

show. The army is big business,

an equal opportunity employer --

with all the bureaucracy, waste,

and impersonal cruelty of big business.

Read the papers, man.

They want junior officers for

management positions. Foremen

are no different from sergeants.

They are sucked in by gradual

increments in pay, pension

plans, and all that crap. From

the outside, the Army looks like

a bunch of guys who shoot and

get shot at. But from the inside

it's padded with bureaucrats

trapped in a web of slowly

accruing benefits. All you've

got to do to be able to cash in

your chips at retirement is

cover your ass. You never have

to do anything that might

stretch your mind or sap your

energy. Just never make a

blunder without covering up.

Sullivan takes out his Swiss Army knife and sharpens a pencil over the wastebasket.

DELANEY

(continuing)

The whole setup breeds paranoids. The

Army is full of security-hungry paranoids,

following the letter of the regulations and

passing the papers to the next desk. It's

dangerous to make a decision. Any change

is dangerous, shifting the rhythm of covering

up activities. You might miss something.

The Army's probably the most

conservative institution in the world. It has

carried the tendencies of big business to

their natural conclusion.

If you feel crushed and oppressed here,

if you feel they've torn you out of your

world and thrown you naked and helpless

into a world of their making, well, that's

just a model of what goes on in business --

what you're going to go back to.

Alec enters, with blackjack in his hand.

DELANEY

(continuing, to Alec)

Between you and Sullivan, we've

got a regular arsenal here.

ALEC

We?

DELANEY

Excuse me. I mean you.

ALEC

Yes.

DELANEY

Nothing like a sense of solidarity and

comradeship to make the best of a rotten

situation.

ALEC

In my book, you've always got to look out

for number one. Then you can think about

spreading the wealth.

DELANEY

(ironic)

That sounds like a fine Marxist principle.

COHEN

Yeah. Groucho Marx.

DELANEY

When will you people ever be ready?

Delaney leaves, and loudly slams the screendoor behind him.

EXT. FORT POLK - DAY (SUNDAY)

Delaney moves away from the barracks, toward the trees. He moves beyond the company area, across the road. No one is looking. He starts jogging up the road, past the PX, toward the commissary. He keeps looking over his shoulder and around, to make sure no one is following or watching him. He spots Armstrong, Franklin, and Jones, drinking beer off in the woods, beyond the company area. They see him. He speeds up. They take off after him and soon catch up and run along beside him.

JONES

(laughs)

You run away.

FRANKLIN

(laughs)

You left the plantation without

the boss's permission.

Armstrong gets in front of Delaney and backpedals. He slows down and forces Delaney to slow down.

JONES

You runaway slave.

FRANKLIN

We gotta bring the runaway slave back.

ARMSTRONG

All the way back from Jackson,

Mississippi.

DELANEY

(impatient)

Okay, guys, okay. Let me by.

ARMSTRONG

What do you think, brothers?

Should we cover for him?

DELANEY

Cut the crap. Didn't you get paid?

ARMSTRONG

(puzzled)

How'd you know about that?

DELANEY

I don't have time to haggle. I'll talk to

Roberts as soon as he gets back -- if he

gets back.

Armstrong moves aside and Delaney races by. He's almost out of earshot by the time Armstrong replies.

ARMSTRONG

No need to do that. We're going

to cut him in.

EXT. FORT POLK/PHONE BOOTH - DAY (SUNDAY)

Delaney runs to a phone booth near the billboard that welcomes recruits to Fort Polk. He dials and gets connected to Melody at her dorm room.

EXT. FORT POLK/PHONE BOOTH - DAY (SPLIT SCREEN)

INT. COLLEGE/DORM ROOM - DAY (SPLIT SCREEN)

Delaney and Melody are shown talking to one another in split screen.

MELODY

Hello.

DELANEY

(softly)

It's me again.

MELODY

Twice in three days. My God, this must be

true love. Or are you calling to apologize

for besmirching my reputation.

DELANEY

What?

MELODY

You've been telling the world

you got me pregnant. DELANEY

Damn that Rawlings.

MELODY

Yes, Rawlings. He wrote to Madeline, and

everyone in six states probably knows by now.

So what shall we name our kid?

DELANEY

Sorry. I just wanted a pass, really bad.

MELODY

That's touching. I mean, really it is. I

underestimated that side of you -- the

sentimental side, I mean. And I was glad to

find out that you felt that way. It got me to

thinking.

DELANEY

What do you mean?

MELODY

I mean revolution and love. Make love not

war. We'd lost the original sense of that.

We were becoming the very thing we were

trying to stop. We were becoming the system

in trying to fight it. I looked at myself in

the mirror this morning and didn't like the

person I saw there.

DELANEY

Please understand. I don't have long to talk.

MELODY

Yeah, you're not supposed to be out of the

company area. Come on, Frank. Forget that

baloney. I don't need it and don't want it.

You've been gone for nearly two months.

DELANEY

Six weeks.

MELODY

Same difference. I miss you. All

right. I admit it. I miss you.

DELANEY

Honestly, there's no time for that sort of talk.

The pass was just for the job -- to get an

interview to get the job.

MELODY

I know. You said before -- to get married

and have kids. I thought they'd brainwashed

you, but now I know you're wonderful,

and yes -- do it. I'm ready. I'm with you.

DELANEY

But that was all wrong. You were

right. We have to do our part.

And I am. The situation is

becoming critical. The whole

platoon is near the breaking

point. The explosion could come

at any time.

MELODY

(angry)

Good God, Frank. Take that

record off the turntable and

play the other one, the one about

the world's hottest computer and

what it means for us.

DELANEY

It's not a game, Melody. Soon,

maybe even tonight, I will start

a riot and get a dozen of these

guys thrown into the guardhouse.

MELODY

What the hell for, Frank?

DELANEY

I'm undermining the system from

within, just like we hoped and

planned. It's all working out.

MELODY

And what's going to happen to

you?

DELANEY

I don't know. That's why I'm

calling. This may be the last

you hear from me for a long

while.

INT. BARRACKS/RAWLINGS' ROOM - TWILIGHT (SUNDAY)

As Rawlings is licking and sealing the envelope for a letter to Madeline, he glances down at the floor beside his bed.

RAWLINGS

(softly to himself)

Where the hell are the boots?

His boots are missing -- the ones Powell polished for him, his second pair of boots, the ones he never wears, the ones with the special glossy shine for inspections, the ones that every morning he has to dust off or he'd get a gig.

He stands up suddenly, drops the letter on his bunk, gets down on his belly and crawls under the bed. He reaches again and again through empty space.

He checks MacFarland's boots. They have MacFarland's name tag.

He checks his own wall locker.

MacFarland's wall locker is locked.

He checks his footlocker. He knows the boots couldn't be there, but he checks under the underwear he's never worn, so carefully rolled for inspection. He checks under the handkerchiefs he's never used, behind the shaving cream, under the razor he's never used, under the shaving brush that he wouldn't know how to use.

He can't find his boots.

RAWLINGS

(bellows)

Where the hell are my boots?

The whole barracks falls silent.

INT. BARRACKS/STAIRCASE - TWILIGHT (SUNDAY)

Rawlings stands at the top of the stairs as Sullivan, Cohen, and Alvardo gather below. They are all puzzled.

RAWLINGS

This has gone far enough. I want

my boots back.

Beaulieu and Schneider enter from the latrine.

RAWLINGS

(voice is getting shrill)

Where are they?

SULLIVAN

Where are what?

RAWLINGS

My boots, you fool.

Sullivan slips the Swiss Army knife out of his pocket and plays with it while he talks.

SULLIVAN

On your fucking feet. Why didn't you leave

them at the door like the rest of us?

Everybody but Rawlings breaks out laughing. Attracted by the laughter, the crowd grows larger. Rawlings slowly and deliberately comes down the stairs.

RAWLINGS

Of course, I'm not looking for the ones I wear.

I'm missing my inspection boots -- the spit and

polish boots. Where the hell are they?

No one answers.

RAWLINGS

(continuing)

Where is MacFarland?

MacFarland enters from the bunkroom.

MACFARLAND

Right here, Fats.

A few trainees laugh.

RAWLINGS

Well, give them to me.

MACFARLAND

What?

Rawlings stands face-to-face with MacFarland. The rest of the platoon crowds in close.

RAWLINGS

The boots. Give me the boots!

MacFarland stares him hard in the eye. Rawlings starts shifting his weight from foot to foot, clenching and unclenching his fists.

WASLEWSKI (O.S.)

(shouts, from the front steps,

where boots are left)

Give him boots! The boss wants boots!

Suddenly, dozens of boots come flying through the door at Rawlings. One hits him hard on the side of the head. He loses his balance and falls backward. Rather than catch him or cushion his fall, the crowd backs away. His back hits the floor. His head hits the bottom step. He grabs the banister and pulls himself to a sitting position.

RAWLINGS

Where are my boots?

COHEN

I bet Roberts has them.

ALEC

Or maybe the boots have Roberts.

COHEN

Yeah, I hear the boots went AWOL

and took Roberts with them.

RAWLINGS

Just where is Roberts, anyway?

He pulls himself to his feet.

RAWLINGS

(continuing)

Where is he?

Cohen leans on the screen door, holding it open, and drums a tune on the screen as he softly sings.

COHEN

(sings)

"Freedom's just another word for

nothing left to lose."

WASLEWSKI (O.S.)

(from outside)

Yeah, man, Roberts is free. Free as a bird.

VASSAVION

(shouts)

Down with the king! Give me

liberty, or give me MacBeth!

RAWLINGS

Oh, shut up!

VASSAVION

Now is the summer of our discontent.

EXT. BARRACKS/NEAR DOOR - TWILIGHT (SUNDAY)

Bats come out from under the eaves and fly away.

Tagliatti, Waslewski, and Alec are standing outside, near the door. Cohen is just inside, holding the screendoor open. Tagliatti is holding a rolled up newspaper.

Delaney arrives, out of breath. He just got back from the phone booth.

TAGLIATTI

Been jogging again, Delaney? Are you

becoming a running nut like Sanderson?

DELANEY

What's going on?

WASLEWSKI

We're giving Rawlings the boot.

ALEC

You almost missed the revolution.

COHEN

Didn't Lenin have the same problem?

DELANEY

And you, Tag, are you going to rebel?

TAGLIATTI

I'm not ready yet. Just give me time.

DELANEY

Always more time. Yeah, we're just

reservists. The rebels are somewhere

else. The hawks are somewhere else.

This is limbo.

INT. BARRACKS/BASE OF STAIRCASE - TWILIGHT (SUNDAY)

Rawlings is standing near the base of the stairs. Sullivan, MacFarland, Cohen, Alvardo, Beaulieu, and Schneider are near. Delaney, Tagliatti, Waslewski and Alec enter from outside. Alec is playing nervously with his blackjack. Sanderson and Evans push forward into this crowded space from the latrine. Hathaway and others stand at the entry to the bunkroom.

Then Armstrong, Franklin, and Jones start to push in from outside. They are awkwardly pulling off their boots while others, unseen, push them from behind, nearly knocking them over.

ARMSTRONG

Hey, watch it back there!

What's your hurry, buddy? This

ain't no rock concert.

The slow surge of people forces Rawlings and others into the bunkroom.

INT. BARRACKS/BUNKROOM - TWILIGHT (SUNDAY)

Powell is still on his bunk on the far side of the aisle. His Bible and frisbee are beside him.

Hathaway backs off to let Rawlings back in. The crowd follows Rawlings in.Some move to the other side of the aisle. Everyone but Rawlings is in stocking feet. They all respect the center aisle and do not cross the yellow line.

More and more trainees crowd in. Some, including Armstrong and Franklin, climb on upper bunks for a better look. Most line up three and four deep all up and down both sides of the aisle. Their feet are all just back of the yellow lines. Everyone is facing toward Rawlings, who has his back to the aisle and has been forced to the edge of the line.

The silence is ominous.

Schneider, who is standing near Rawlings, blows a big bubble. Alvardo, beside him, pops it with a finger and laughs, breaking the silence and the tension.

Rawlings, distracted, stumbles backwards into the center aisle.

Others fill the space that Rawlings had occupied.

Rawlings is all alone, in his boots on the sacred aisle.

EVANS

Come on, Rawlings, get off the

aisle! You're ruining it.

Stepping very carefully, Rawlings goes this way and that, trying to get off the aisle, but people behind pushing forward to see won't let people in front step aside to let him in.

SANDERSON

What are you waiting for? Move it!

Sullivan stands on his hands. The knife drops out of his pocket. Delaney picks it up quickly and puts it in his own pocket.

Sullivan walks along the line on his hands.

COHEN

Way to go, Sullivan! Way to go!

Mocking Sullivan, Cohen walks the line behind him in stocking feet, doing dance steps forward and backward. He hums the tune to the Beattle's song "Revolution."

Meanwhile, someone picks up Powell's frisbee and flings it across the aisle, narrowly missing Rawlings. Someone on the other side catches it and throws it back. And, in the background, the frisbee keeps going back and forth, up and down from one end of the bunkroom to the other.

Someone else picks up a football and starts it going the same way.

Trying once again to get off the aisle, Rawlings shoves Vassavion.

Vassavion shoves back.

Rawlings moves toward Vassavion and shoves Hathaway by mistake.

Hathaway swings wildly.

Rawlings ducks and rams his shoulder into Hathaway's belly.

Vassavion pounds Rawlings on the back, and Rawlings falls.

Lying in the aisle, Rawlings makes eye contact with Armstrong and Franklin on an upper bunk.

ARMSTRONG

(to Rawlings)

Deal or no deal, we ain't your

slaves, whitey.

RAWLINGS

It's all right, Sam. Do what you want. I

don't expect you to support me. My side

of the bargain holds, regardless.

FRANKLIN

Now, that's what I call a deal.

Cohen dancing by Rawlings, still staying on the line, drums on Rawlings' back to the tune of "Revolution."

EVANS

God! It's going to take a lot of spit and

polish to clean up this mess.

Waslewski spits a huge gob on the center aisle.

WASLEWSKI

You've got that all wrong,

Evans. That's spit and Pole-ish.

It's fine Polish spit we need.

He spits again. This one lands on Rawlings. Rawlings, on his back, swings his legs wildly and trips Waslewski, Vassavion, and Hathaway. They all roll and slide onto the center aisle.

Straining to look, the crowd moves forward, toppling Cohen and hand-walking Sullivan onto the aisle.

Alec nervously hits his palm with the blackjack. Tagliatti hits his hand with a rolled up newspaper. The frisbee and rubber football keep flying from hand to hand.

Delaney jumps up on a footlocker and raises high a fist, like a lightning rod.

DELANEY

(shouts)

Power to the people!

MANY

Power!

OTHERS

Power!

DELANEY

Down with all pigs!

MANY

Right on!

VOICE IN CROWD

(mumbles)

Kill the fucking bastard.

Some laugh nervously.

Rawlings tries to stand up, and is tripped by Waslewski.

Hathaway dives on top of Rawlings, pinning arms with knees, and starts slapping his face back and forth, harder and harder.

VOICE IN THE CROWD

Give him one for me!

ANOTHER VOICE

And for me.

ANOTHER

And me.

COHEN

Give him one for the Gipper!

Everyone laughs, so Cohen grabs two boots lying on the floor, pulls them on untied, and starts jumping and dancing like a cheerleader.

COHEN

Go team, go! Push him back,

push him back, way back.

DELANEY

Power!

CROWD TOGETHER

Power!

Vassavion stumbles to his feet, waving his arms drunkenly.

VASSAVION

(yells)

For mine is the power and the glory!

CROWD TOGETHER

Go get him, Vass!

VOICE IN THE CROWD

Give him that boot he wanted.

ANOTHER VOICE

(throwing a boot)

"Give him this one!

Vassavion pulls the boot on his right foot, and stands, unsteadily between Rawlings' spread-eagled legs, his toe near Rawlings' crotch.

VOICE IN THE CROWD

Give him a Vass-ectomy.

Suddenly, the room is quiet, except the slap of palm against cheek, as Hathaway keeps hitting Rawlings, mechanically and rhythmically.

Everyone watches, both hoping and fearing that Vassavion -- the drunken giant with the boot -- will kick. The quiet becomes oppressive.

With a surge of strength, Rawlings shoves Hathaway off him and scrambles to his feet, ready for a fight.

COHEN

(chants loudly)

Hold that line! Hold that line!

When no one responds to his attempt to get attention, Cohen takes three running steps and slides heels-first down the center aisle, tumbling into Waslewski, who knocks over Vassavion. He leaves a long ugly gash down the middle of the floor.

Delaney raises his hands high.

DELANEY

(shouts)

The time has come!

The attention of the crowd focuses on Delaney.

DELANEY

(continuing)

The time has come!

He pulls out the Swiss Army knife, opens it, and approaches Rawlings.

Football and frisbee keep flying by.

Hathaway catches the football and holds it.

Delaney jabs at Rawlings' face with the knife. Rawlings pulls his head back just in time.

DELANEY

You flinched.

A few trainees laugh, nervously.

Delaney steps forward. Rawlings steps back.

Delaney jabs again. Rawlings pulls back.

Delaney jabs again. Rawlings, fearful, with open mouth, pulls back.

The frisbee flies by, and Rawlings looks, just as Delaney jabs again. The knife punctures Rawlings' cheek and sinks in up to the hilt.

Delaney, shocked, lets go and steps back.

Complete silence.

The knife hangs there -- the blade visible inside Rawlings' open mouth.

After a long, shocked delay, Rawlings pulls the knife out, then heaves it at the wall, where it sticks and quivers.

Cheek bleeding, fists clenched, Rawlings faces Delaney.

Delaney grabs the blackjack from Alec and again advances on Rawlings.

HATHAWAY

(from a distance)

Wait!

Delaney keeps advancing with deadly seriousness.

Beaulieu with a boot held high as a weapon, and Tagliatti with his newspaper follow Delaney. Others fall in behind them.

Jones suddenly steps in front of Beaulieu.

JONES

Hold it. Give the man a fighting chance.

Armstrong and Franklin jump off the bunk and lock arms with Jones to hold back the mob.

Meanwhile, Delaney slowly moves toward Rawlings, looking for an opening, while Rawlings backs up, defensively.

On the far side of the aisle, Schneider spits out his bubblegum and turns to Powell.

SCHNEIDER

Why don't you do something?

POWELL

Blessed are the peacemakers.

SCHNEIDER

Hell, if you're a conscientious

objector, why are you in the reserves?

Powell turns away, picks up his Bible as if to read it, then whirls around and flings it, like a frisbee, at Delaney. It hits Delaney in the face and knocks him off balance. He drops the blackjack.

COHEN

(laughing)

Right on, Powell! Throw the book at him!

From the other end of the bunkroom, Hathaway heaves the rubber football. It hits Delaney from behind. He falls face-first and his head bangs the floor.

POWELL

Enough!

Embarrassed silence.

Hathaway steps forward, and picks Delaney up, pinning his arms behind his back.

Then he pushes Delaney onto a footlocker, where Delaney crouches with his aching head in his hands.

Schneider helps Rawlings and coaxes him away from Delaney. Tagliatti fetches a first-aid kit from his locker. Powell quickly takes over and starts treating the wound.

DELANEY

(murmurs quietly)

I told you so. I told you about the system...

The screendoor slams. A SQUAD LEADER from the second platoon enters.

SQUAD LEADER

An hour till lights out!

Silence. Tagliatti and Schneider move to shield Rawlings from sight, as Powell continues his treatment.

SQUAD LEADER

(continuing)

God. What the hell happened?

HATHAWAY

Nothing, buddy. Nothing at all.

Just turn yourself around and

get the hell out of here.

SQUAD LEADER

God, looks like you had an

explosion or an orgy. Somebody

sabotage the place or something?

HATHAWAY

(roars)

Get your goddamned boots off

that center aisle.

SQUAD LEADER

You've got to be kidding.

There's nothing I could do to it

that hasn't been done already.

Whoever did that sure did a hell

of a job. Was it the first

platoon? Did they sabotage you?

It sure is a break for us. You

guys used to be unbeatable. But

believe me, it wasn't us who did it.

Hathaway picks up the Squad Leader by the shoulders of his fatigues.

SQUAD LEADER

Okay, okay, I'm going. It wasn't

me who did it. You don't have to

take it out on me.

The screendoor slams behind him.

Powell keeps working on Rawlings. Delaney staggers to his feet. And quiet, subdued, without anyone having to give the orders, the other trainees push the bunks back to the walls and get on with their chores. Schneider, Tag, and three others get on their hands and knees rubbing a new coat of wax on the floor, while Evans carefully repaints the yellow lines.

INT. BARRACKS/STAIRCASE - NIGHT (SUNDAY)

MacFarland keeps washing and rewashing the same clean, easily reachable windowpane, just trying to look busy. `Now and then he glances about guiltily; and when he thinks someone is looking, he makes a show of putting tremendous effort into the cleaning of that one clean windowpane.

The latrine crew walks past the staircase, on their way to work on the johns and urinals. They put masking tape across the latrine entrance behind them.

Alec, Alvardo, and Delaney go to work on the stairs with toothbrushes, scrubbing away at the corners and crevices. Delaney looks weary. There is a bad bruise under his left eye. It is swelling.

Whistling "Revolution," Cohen walks by to join the latrine crew.

COHEN

Hey, Delaney, that eye's turning

black already -- Bible black.

He laughs. When nobody laughs with him, he takes a jab at Delaney. Delaney ducks.

COHEN

You flinched.

Now everybody laughs, except Delaney, who grimaces in shame. So Cohen pokes again and again. Even Alec, Alvardo and MacFarland join in the fun. Delaney flinches and ducks, but doesn't fight back. Eventually, they lose interest, and Cohen steps over the masking tape, into the latrine.

ALEC

(whines)

Those damned shitheads have closed off

the latrine again. One damned urinal and

one damned john is all they ever leave us.

Shit. When I have to shit, I have to shit.

DELANEY

(mutters)

That's the system for you. They have barracks

inspections theoretically for the sake of

hygiene. But in the Army, what matters is the

looks, not the facts -- just what can be neatly

filled in on an official form.

Seeing he has an audience again, he warms to the subject and slips back into his old lecturing tone.

DELANEY

(continuing)

That latrine will be spotless. But to keep it

as clean as we have to, we can only use it

half the time. The rest of the time, we've got

to go piss under the trees. So we pollute the

one bit of shade where we can rest for a

break, and end up sitting on our own piss.

ALEC

Damn it, Delaney. I think we've

had enough of your lectures.

DELANEY

(insisting)

But that's how the system works. We wind

up seeming to do this to ourselves. And we

are, afterall, guilty -- guilty of going along

with the game, playing by their rules. And

every time we do, we wind up sitting in our

own piss. Let's face it, only Roberts is

really free.

ALEC

Wake up, Delaney. You nearly killed a guy.

You're damn lucky he's not pressing charges.

That's freedom, Delaney -- not having to

spend the next 20 years in Leavenworth.

Enjoy your freedom.

Humbled, Delaney avoids eye contact and returns to his scrubbing with redoubled energy.

INT. BARRACKS/RAWLINGS' ROOM - NIGHT (SUNDAY)

Powell is sitting on the bed, once again polishing Rawlings' dress boots, when Rawlings enters, with a thick bandage on his cheek.

POWELL

I just love these boots.

RAWLINGS

(laughing)

You're incredible... Thanks.

POWELL

They took care of you pretty

quick, didn't they?

RAWLINGS

Well, the folks at the post hospital said it

was a strange kind of wound to get from an

"accident." But nobody wanted to press

the issue because they didn't want to have

to deal with the paperwork mess they might

get themselves into. You wouldn't believe

how fast they stitched me up and pushed me

out of there.

POWELL

(shaking his head)

Lord, that was some moment -- I

didn't know whether to cry or

laugh when I saw that knife

dangling from your cheek.

RAWLINGS

You did a heck of a job with that first-aid

kit -- probably saved me a few stitches, or

so they said. You're good at that stuff. You

ought to go back to med school.

POWELL

Yes, I believe I will. It's time.

RAWLINGS

Yes, it's time for me, too. I feel a lot older

now than I did this morning. I don't dare

look in the mirror for fear of seeing

gray hairs. I'm going to go straight to law

school when I get out of here. I'll borrow the

money somehow. An old man like

me can't afford to wait.

POWELL

(laughs)

Here we are planning the rest of

our lives, and we've got four

more weeks of this to go.

RAWLINGS

Well, then don't stop polishing.

Those blessed boots, those

useless, never-to-be-worn boots,

those boots that are just for

show have got to pass inspection

in the morning.

POWELL

Yeah, so much of this Army

routine is just for show. So

much of life is just for show.

And just or unjust -- the show

is real.

RAWLINGS

In May, just after Cambodia and

Kent State, I wrote a poem to

express my frustration. I'd like

to be able to think like a

college student again, to be

self-righteous and clever and

have all the answers. But now

I've been at Fort Polk, slept in

the same barracks, shat in the

same johns, low-crawled over the

same field as men who died in

that war I wrote so cleverly

about. God, those words would

sound hollow now. It's just as

well I gave the only copy to

Madeline, the girl-next-door,

who probably threw it out. She

thinks I'm a bore, and she's right.

Here I am, sitting on easy

street. What right do I have to write

crap like that? Just a few more weeks

of this hell and all of us -- all but Roberts

and Armstrong and Jones and Franklin

-- will be going home.

Who can blame Roberts for

running? Chances are that in a few

months he'll be in the jungle waiting for

the booby trap or bullet that'll turn him

into rotting meat.

Rawlings crosses himself, then goes over to the window and stares out at the row of barracks and the scrub-pine forest beyond.

INT. COLLEGE/DORM ROOM - NIGHT (SUNDAY)

Melody and Madeline are in Melody's room. Melody has a sheet of paper in her hand.

MELODY

You say George actually wrote

this? There's a lot you never

told me about this guy.

As Madeline leans forward to look, her hair falls in her face, but she doesn't brush it back and doesn't seem to notice.

MADELINE

Yes, maybe there is. Hearing you read that

letter from him yesterday got me to thinking.

I dug this out of a drawer and

read it for the first time.

MELODY

Are you going to write back to him?

MADELINE

Yes, I think I will. He wrote this poem in

history class, sitting in the front row, as he

always does.

MELODY

(reading)

In May the bombs blossom.

The sweet aroma of gas fills the air.

The sing-song

Mekong

May song

me

doe

ray

me lie

me down to sleep,

and pray the Lord

(what else can one

two

three

four,

right face

the press of the crowd,

shouting, mad

men giving orders

on the borders

of insanity,

a neutral nation,

at least officially,

but everyone knows

thyself

is an archaic term

in jail,

waiting for trial,

(continues reading)

by hook or by crook,

we'll pull this

impotent giant

to a hard

line on

and on and on and

onward, Christian

humility

in defense of freedom is no

situation

comedy,

featuring

Nixon, Mitchell, Agnew,

and a fourth horseman of the

Apocalypse

to be announced,

so stay tuned

to loony tunes,

on most of our network stations,

brought to you by,

bye

happiness

is a warm gun,

in the age of hilarious,

who cannot wash away our sins

with a flood

of tear

gas,

for there was a limited supply

of war,

one day

in May

the bombs blossom.

INT. BARRACKS/BUNKROOM - NIGHT (SUNDAY)

As everyone continues their cleaning, Beaulieu finds a letter under Delaney's bunk, and sits on the bunk to read it. Meanwhile, in the background, Cohen starts singing again, softly, until others join in. Even Sanderson joins in. They sing snatches of such songs as "I got to get out of this place..." "Oh Lord, how I want to go home..." "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose...", and "Power to the people..." Alvardo marches back and forth, using a broom as a mock rifle and imitating the Drill Sergeant instructing the troops. He holds out the broom.

ALVARDO

(mocking Drill Sergeant)

Remember, men. This is your rifle.

He at grabs his crotch.

ALVARDO

(continuing)

And this is your gun.

ALEC

(to Cohen)

Sometimes he sounds more like a drill

sergeant than the Drill Sergeant does.

Sullivan takes down the plaque to polish it and looks it over.

SULLIVAN

Shit! It's all here. The same damned wisecracks.

They scribbled them here on the back with all

their signatures. This thing must be nearly thirty

years old, and they were making the same dumb

wisecracks we do.

The room is starting to look good. The floor still has to be buffed, but first the wax will have to sit for a while, and the paint will have to dry. There is just one jagged scratch in the middle of the center aisle that the wax doesn't mask.

Beaulieu taps Delaney on the shoulder. Delaney flinches.

BEAULIEU

I'd like to have a word with you outside.

Delaney hesitates, not wanting a fight. But Beaulieu gestures insistently and goes out the door. Delaney reluctantly follows.

EXT. OUTSIDE BARRACKS NEAR TREES - NIGHT (SUNDAY)

Delaney and Beaulieu walk in and out of moon-cast shadows. In the background, the songs and other barrack's noises continue. Delaney moves cautiously, ready to duck, expecting Beaulieu to start a fight. Instead, after a few awkward moments, Beaulieu hands him a piece of paper.

DELANEY

What the hell is this?

BEAULIEU

A letter of yours I found when

we were cleaning up.

DELANEY

You read it, I presume?

BEAULIEU

Yes, but not to the entire platoon.

DELANEY

So you know about the payoff?

Beaulieu nods.

BEAULIEU

And that your girl isn't pregnant and you're

thinking of taking a job with a computer

company instead of saving the world.

DELANEY

(continuing)

But you didn't say a word.

BEAULIEU

Those guys are going to give you hell for the

next four weeks anyway.

DELANEY

(humbled)

Thanks.

Delaney tears up the letter into very small pieces. Beaulieu picks up pebbles and tosses them at the trees.

BEAULIEU

By the way, which will it be? Are you still

going to save the world?

DELANEY

Well, I've certainly made a botch of things

here. I don't know what came over me.

BEAULIEU

Somehow we all got caught up in it. That's

why we're all going to ride you hard --

because we all were guilty.

DELANEY

Thank God the wound wasn't serious.

BEAULIEU

(smiling)

Do you think that computer

company could use a writer?

DELANEY

I don't know. It wouldn't hurt for you to try

them. Maybe I'll see you there.

BEAULIEU

Maybe I will, or maybe my wife and I will

hitchhike around the world instead. It's time

for a change.

He pauses to throw a few more pebbles.

BEAULIEU

(continuing)

Do you know when we got married?

DELANEY

Of course not.

BEAULIEU

It was Saturday, August 28, 1965. We were

fresh out of high school. We'd been going

together for a couple of years, and our

dream was to just take off, the two of us.

We'd live together -- no need to get married --

and we'd bum our way around the world.

But she was afraid I might get drafted, and

married men were exempt. So we planned

to get married first -- a big church wedding

to make our folks happy. Only they changed

the law right before the wedding, and

only marriages before August 26

counted for the exemption.

DELANEY

Such luck.

BEAULIEU

That meant the only way to get

an exemption was to go to

college. So I talked my way into

a state school for that fall. I

got a part-time job at

McDonald's and Debbie did tempo

work to pay the tuition and make

ends meet. When the war dragged

on, and it looked like I'd be

drafted when I got out of

school, I found a reserve unit.

That's why I'm here.

DELANEY

More or less, that's why we're all here.

BEAULIEU

We never really had a chance to

get started, to do any of the

things we dreamed of.

Everything's been on hold.

DELANEY

(automatically)

That's the system.

BEAULIEU

Yeah. You're right about the system and

what it does to people. Just five weeks, and

it's like I've never been anything but a soldier.

DELANEY

I never cease to be amazed at how

adaptable people are to the craziest sets

of rules. It's like we're afraid what we might

do if we didn't have rules -- any rules at

all -- to guide us. Shit, we might end up

stabbing one another for no good reason.

He laughs, awkwardly, self-consciously.

BEAULIEU

Yeah, individual freedom is important, but

it's only half the story. In the big scheme of

things, we as individuals don't amount to

much. For a little while, this is our drill

sergeant, our barracks, our army, our

country. But just for a little while. There

have been millions before us. There'll be

millions after us.

DELANEY

So what are you getting at?

BEAULIEU

There's nothing particularly noteworthy

about us and what we say and do. Yes,

we scuffed up the floor a bit. But by the

time Powell gets done with it, it'll

all be good as new, almost -- all but that

one jagged mark down the middle. He

can't get rid of that. That's what we'll

leave for posterity: a jagged

scratch on a piece of linoleum.

DELANEY

Sounds like you're a great

admirer of the center aisle.

They start walking back toward the barracks.

BEAULIEU

Well, silly though this competition is, it 's

a shame to leave a blemish like that for

the next cycle of trainees. The guys who

came before us did such a great job

that we hardly had to touch that

center aisle for it to come out shining,

unbeatable. I wonder how much work

went into that, how many years of work

by generations of trainees who

never met each other and knew

they never would meet, but who

left this as a legacy to whoever

might come after them.

And they left this fragile shine that was

a source of comfort and security and pride

for us.

DELANEY

So what does that have to do with thumbing

your way around the world?

BEAULIEU

Well, to me, that kind of travel is freedom.

And freedom's the first half of what it's

like to be a human being -- you were right

about that. But the second half is pride,

respect, tradition -- feeling connected to

the past and the future.

DELANEY

Yeah, I have to admit I hope

that Powell can do something

with that nasty gash.

BEAULIEU

Well, if anyone can patch it up

or hide it, Powell can. And

we've got four weeks left. Maybe

by then it'll be all right, and

the next cycle will get it good

as new, as good as we got it, as

good as if we'd never been here

and messed things up. Maybe a

little better, with those yellow

lines repainted.

They look in through the window toward the center aisle.

DELANEY

Yes, I must admit, it does look

really sharp with those bright

yellow lines.

INT. BARRACKS/BUNKROOM - NIGHT (SUNDAY)

Everyone is still at work. The screendoor slams.

SQUAD LEADER

Five minutes to lights out! God, it looks

good now. Shit! When the buffing's done,

you guys could be in good shape again.

How the hell did you do it?

Nobody answers. He leaves.

SCHNEIDER

Maybe there won't be an inspection.

ALEC

(whines)

Yeah, you can count on it. If we get the

place in shape, they won't inspect it.

EVANS

And if we didn't, they would. We'll be ready.

I just hope those damned bat exterminators

don't come again.

HATHAWAY

(laughs)

Have you grown to like the bats?

EVANS

We can live with bats. I just don't want

the exterminators messing the place up.

We can still win tomorrow.

INT. BARRACKS/BUNKROOM - NIGHT

Hours later, long after "lights out," the barracks still hums with the buffer and clanks with the opening and closing lockers. Everybody has something that still has to be done. The room is dark except for fire and stair lights. The screendoor closes softly.

SCHNEIDER

(whispers)

The Drill Sergeant's coming.

Word that the Drill Sergeant is coming echoes and re-echoes through the muffled scrambling of feet and creaking of bedsprings. Whispers follow, racing up and down both sides.

COHEN

He's going upstairs.

WASLEWSKI

It's Rawlings he's after. Rawlings. He's going

to bawl out Rawlings.

ALVARDO

Now the shit's going to hit the fan.

BEAULIEU

He probably heard all about our

little party here tonight.

COHEN.

Quiet. I can almost make out what he's

saying. It's something about Roberts.

DELANEY

Roberts?

VASSAVION

Shit.

DELANEY

You say Rawlings is ratting on Roberts?

WASLEWSKI

That goddamned Roberts.

ALEC

Goddamned my foot. Roberts is the only

one of us with an ounce of guts.

Loud footsteps go down the stairs. The screen door slams shut. A full minute of absolute silence. Cohen is nearest to the door.

COHEN

(whispers loudly)

God! It's Roberts, Roberts himself.

MANY

(one after another repeats)

Roberts!

In the conflicting shadows of the fire light and the stair light, Roberts enters the bunkroom and slowly rubs his freshly shaven head with his towel.

DELANEY

Quick, Roberts, catch the Drill Sergeant.

Rawlings just ratted on you. You're in a

heap of trouble. Catch him, and let him

know you're here.

ROBERTS

He knows I'm here all right. What's this

bit about ratting, man? What've I done

that somebody's ratting on me?

DELANEY

This is the Army. You don't just

go home when you feel like it.

ROBERTS

Home? Who the hell went home?

COHEN

Well, where've you been?

ROBERTS

Taking a shower.

BEAULIEU

Yeah, but where've you been all night?

ROBERTS

Look, man, cool it. I just got off KP.

BEAULIEU

And where did you sleep last

night and the night before?

ROBERTS

Hell, I was bone-tired. How'd

you like KP three days in a row?

I just sacked out in the kitchen.

DELANEY

Well, then what was the Sergeant

pissed off at?

ROBERTS

He saw me in the shower. You

know, man -- no showers after

lights out. But I'll be damned

if I'm going to bed stinking of

garbage and shit. Hell no, man.

COHEN

There's your freedom, Alec.

There's your dignity.

ALEC

Yeah, damn it, I didn't have

guts enough to take a shower.

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