Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Do Something!

A young girl in the ruins of her home. Jabalia, Gaza, Nov 2012.

Tomorrow Comes



Roland              Iraq War veteran 22 years old
Billie              ROLAND’s Father, A Vietnam Vet, Biker
Lily                ROLAND’s Mother
Dodge               ROLAND’s Paternal Grandfather
Sarah               ROLAND’s Wife
Angel               ROLAND’s Daughter age 6
Rich (Dick)         A war profiteer
Diego (Garcia)      RICH’s Houseman, called GARCIA by RICH
Libby               RICH’s wife
Abeer               Iraqi girl (14 years old)
Malik               ABEER’s sister (age 5)
Mother              ABEER and MALIK’s Mother
Baba                ABEER and MALIK’s Father
Doc                 ROLAND’s best friend 23 years old
Valentine (Val)     ROLAND’s Christian Marine Buddy
Goldie              ROLAND’s Squad Leader 37 years old
Tony                Green Marine Recruit
Kenny               Green Marine Recruit


ACT I
Prologue: BILLIE’s arrival home.
Scene 1:  BILLIE’s Kitchen, ROLAND’s brother has killed himself.
Scene 2:  RICH’s Library, RICH watching TV, “Support Our Heroes.”
Scene 3:  BILLIE’s Kitchen, Funeral for ROLAND’s brother.
Scene 4:  ROLAND’s 1st nightmare, Torture (4 mos later)         
Scene 5:  ABEER’s trouble at the checkpoint, SARAH’s fears.
Scene 6:  RICH’s interview.
Scene 7:  SARAH leaves with ANGEL.
Scene 8:  ROLAND’s 2nd nightmare, Home invasions, Death of friends.

Act II
Scene 1:  ABEER and MALAK, the smell of jasmine in springtime.
Scene 2:  ROLAND and New Platoon drink, talk about Rape.
Scene 3:  Rape and murder.
Scene 4:  ROLAND’s 3rd nightmare.
Scene 5:  ROLAND’s confrontation.
Scene 6:  ROLAND listens to RICH’s speech.
Scene 7:  ROLAND's last nightmare. ROLAND confronts RICH.



We seem willing to regret the Iraq War, provided that we never have to face it. 


Prologue

(Projected on a curtain or scrim. A tarmac. Yellow ribbons and American flags abound. The sound of a jet’s engines winding down. 

(VOICEOVER announcement) 

Please go welcome home your soldier!

We hear ROLAND’s wife SARAH, Go hug your hero sweetheart! 


(Up Stage Right ROLAND places his rucksack on the ground as his small daughter rushes toward him.  He goes down to one knee and embraces her. He laughs as his daughter squeals.  He picks her up and begins to walk off downstage left. From a distance we hear people calling out “thank you for your service” and other inanities. His smile vanishes. A Marine Corp Band plays “The Halls of Montezuma.” It is early spring.) 

(Fade to black)


SCENE I Act 1

(WE are in the dilapidated kitchen of ROLAND’s childhood home. BILLIE (ROLANDS’s father) and DODGE (ROLANDS’s grandfather) are drinking coffee. They are not speaking. They are interrupted by a knock on the door.)


BILLIE
(Barely lifting his head)

It’s open. 

(ROLAND enters he is in jeans, tee shirt and a cap.)




ROLAND 

Hey Dad what’s going on? I got here as quick as I could.




BILLIE

(Standing, going to his son.)

Not quick enough I’m afraid. He’s gone.




ROLAND

What do you mean gone? Where did he go?




DODGE
(Brusque)

He’s gone to the morgue.


BILLIE

Last night, your brother shot himself. Right here in my bathroom. 




ROLAND

(ROLAND grabs the chair back to steady himself)

How? Why? 


BILLIE

I don’t know what got into him. One minute he was all excited, the next, he shoots himself.




ROLAND

Where’s Ma?


BILLIE

Your Mother is with him. She’s signing all the papers. Did you know he was an organ donor? Always thinkin about others, that one. Of course, they won’t be able to use the eyes.




ROLAND

They can’t use the eyes? 


BILLIE

He shot himself clean through the right eye.

(ROLAND stares, then rushes off stage.)


I suppose the left eye would be okay. Do they do one eye transplants?

Hey don’t go in there we haven’t finished cleaning up yet.

(We hear sounds of ROLAND vomiting.)

Great.

(Fade to Black)


SCENE I Act 2 


(Lights up slowly. We are in RICH’s library, dark paneled walls, the hundreds of books on the shelves are of a conservative bent, but also include military history and political biography. A flat screen TV facing upstage a blue light emanating from it, no sound. There is a small desk and leather chair, and above the white-trimmed fireplace hangs a U.S. Marine Corps Ceremonial Sword and other mementos. 

Light slowly up on RICH, an old, disheveled man. He does not look well. He is drinking scotch from a glass and having trouble catching his breath. The bottle sits on his desk, next to an American flag, tri folded in a display case. Near him is an oxygen machine with tubes and a mask. He mumbles to himself for a while.)

RICH has a remote in his hand and turns up the TV. 

(Voiceover)


TV MC

I am sick and tired of everybody out there complaining. I hear so many people complaining about everyday life- I didn’t get the right Mercedes, my house is too small, I didn’t get this or I didn’t get that. I ran into a guy in the lobby- he didn’t have a left foot. He lost it in Ramadi. He came up to me to thank me for what I am doing. 

(Incredulous)

For what I do, Dude! I’m MCing a fundraiser. Thank you for your service. I want to say lets stop complaining, it’s really not that bad. You may not have the fanciest Mercedes but you still have your feet, don’t you? We are here tonight to celebrate our veterans- they keep us safe everyday. So let’s hear it for them. 

(Chants of USA, USA, USA.)

I said, let’s hear it for them!

(Chants grow louder. Cuts to an intro for a Mercedes commercial. RICH turns off the TV.) 




RICH

Mercedes, hmmm. No complaints here. There is a cost to war, there is a benefit, oh yes, the benefit. (RICH smirks and sips his scotch) Keeping us safe. That’s what I like to hear.

(DIEGO, RICH’s Houseman, enters with a latte in a Starbucks cup with a cardboard Starbucks sleeve)

Isn’t that right GARCIA? There is a benefit. 

(RICH pours the remainder of his scotch into the latte.)



DIEGO

(He’s heard it a million times.)

That’s right, sir. There is a benefit.

(Under his breath.)

And the cost you never pay.




RICH
What’s that…

(RICH’s laughs turns to wheezing, then coughing. He can’t catch his breath. The phone rings. DIEGO runs between the oxygen machine and RICH, putting the mask on upside down and turning on the oxygen. LIBBY, RICH’s wife, enters, quickly crosses, places the mask over RICH’s head properly and goes to the machine and regulates the airflow. The coughing fit subsides. Heavy breathing.)




LIBBY

Thank you Diego. Honey, Why didn’t you answer the phone?




RICH

(Trying to speak with the mask on, garbled.)

I didn’t answer the phone because I was hacking out a lung.




LIBBY

What?


RICH

(Pissed off, pulling the mask from his face.)

I didn’t answer the phone because I was hacking out a lung.




LIBBY

(Ignoring him, delighted)

Well our prayers have been answered. That was Dr. Vorkevian on the phone. They have a heart for you. It's a miracle. You must call him right back. I’ll grab your bag. Thank the Lord.

(LIBBY Exits)


RICH

Thank the Lord? GARCIA, thank the Lord.

(DIEGO looks skyward with his hands out imploring.)

Thank my money getting me to the top of the list. That’s what needs thanking. Thank my money GARCIA.




DIEGO

Thanking the money! Thanking the money!

(RICH starts laughing and goes into another coughing fit.)

(Fade to Black)


SCENE I Act 3 


(Four days later, BILLIE’s kitchen. On the Kitchen table are photos of ROLAND and his older brother, Owen. Other photos of Owen in a cap and gown, Owen in his Marine Corp blues and in his camo with an M-16, a cigarette hanging from his lip. ROLAND’s mother LILY closes the back door and wipes tears from her eyes. BILLIE and DODGE stand stoically by her side. ROLAND holds SARAH’s hand and his family stand slightly aside. Metals and accolades cover the table as well as a bottle of Wild Turkey and several glasses.)




LILY

Thank God they’ve left. He was so loved, by so many. He loved his men. 




DODGE

Of course they loved him. A leader and he never turned down a challenge. He followed your advice, BILLIE- Each day, live life to the fullest, because tomorrow may not come. 

(Drinks)


He even influenced his younger, followed in his footsteps. Look at you now Roland.
  


ROLAND

I was an excitable boy, that’s all. I had a good time. It wasn’t like I was drowning puppies or anything. I mean, yeah, I wasn’t an A student or captain of the football team. Buying cigarettes underage isn’t exactly a capital crime. Livin’ life to the fullest means different things to different people, gramps. And even daddy's been known to smoke some herb now and again.




SARAH

Shush now RO. 

(Nodding toward ANGEL.)


DODGE

I was thinkin about the time you were running naked through the woods claiming you were chasing rabbits. You were crazy.




LILY

DODGE, now is not the time or the place.




BILLIE

The point is your brother was a natural leader. He led from the front.


LILY

Oh, ROLAND I wish you were here. He just couldn’t talk to us, said we’d never understand. Maybe you could have talked to him.




BILLIE

He was a different man after this deployment. His demons got’em.




LILY

I told him he was loved, no matter what. Jesus forgives. But Owen couldn’t forgive himself. 




BILLIE

He would get a far away look in his eyes. He’d go quiet, or I’d find him weeping. Cryin like a baby. That’s not your brother. He was tough, tough as any man I ever met. Cryin.




ROLAND

He was the best damn sniper. No one had a bad thing to say about him. Killed more damn hadjis than whole teams. An American hero. 


ANGEL

Like you daddy, you’re a hero.




ROLAND

(Aside, quietly)

Not like me.


BILLIE

I don’t understand. He seemed to be doing better. Then, last week, we found out you were coming home, and he seemed to fall apart. He’d drink too much and tell us stories. Your government trains you to kill and you’d better get good at it. It’s ugly. It’s dirty. You visit violence on others, there’s collateral damage. That’s the job.




LILY


I told him we were here to listen, you know, but that was too much. 

ROLAND

He told me the rush of combat was an adrenaline rush you couldn’t forget. What sticks with me is the smell of pulverized concrete and human flesh. He failed to mention that.

SARAH

Roland!


BILLIE

Believe me Nam was no picnic, but over time you manage to bury it, get on with your life. I told him, give it time, you’ll bury it. 


LILY

Even in death he gave his heart, some young person will have another chance at living! 




BILLIE

Come on, let’s have a drink.




DODGE

The Marines was somethin he believed in. So there’s that.



SCENE I Act 4

(4 mos later. Late summer. Stage Left. ROLAND’s bedroom. ROLAND and SARAH are in bed. We hear heavy breathing shifting to moaning, thumping, and the sound of someone hitting the floor. Spotlight up very slowly on ROLAND on the floor, sweating profusely, a look of terror in his eyes, wired to survive. He has a gun in his hand. The spot light broadens to show SARAH sitting in bed.)




SARAH

(very, very quietly) 

Ro, you are ok, you are fine. You are safe.

(In one motion, ROLAND lunges, onto the bed and places the barrel of the gun against SARAH’s cheek. She screams. ROLAND cocks the gun. We hear ANGEL scream.) 


ANGEL (off stage)
Daddy!

(Stage Left Quick fade to black.)

(Stage Right: Lights up, very bright.  A man, naked, hooded, his wrists chained, his toes barely touching the floor, hangs from the ceiling of a small cage. A loud burst of intolerable music. He moans deeply. ROLAND, shirtless but in desert khakis walks toward him. He pounds him in the gut and knees him in the thigh several times.)




ROLAND

Stop moaning. Bastard. Stop moaning. 

(Another loud moan erupts. ROLAND pulls his pistol and presses it to the detainee’s cheek.) 

(The detainee whispers, not loud enough for us to hear. On the scrim behind the players we see his words, a prayer of mercy- in Arabic and in English.)


(Stage Right Quick fade to black, the detainee is cut down and dragged offstage)

(Stage Left. Lights up slowly. SARAH’s lips are moving in prayer, we cannot hear her.) 

(From the darkness of Stage Right, The detainee says the prayer in Arabic, then in English. Softly.)

(There is pounding on the bedroom door. Cries of “Daddy!”)




SARAH

(very, very quietly) 

Please don’t kill me. Please.

(ROLAND looks terrified. He eyes search the room. He uncocks the gun and drops his arm to his side. He looks at SARAH, she is shaking with fear.)

(ANGEL enters. ROLAND quickly hides the gun.) 




ROLAND

It’s ok. Daddy was having a bad dream. It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s ok.

(Lights fade) 


SCENE I Act 5

Stage Right. ABEER’s MOTHER is standing in a simple kitchen, typical of poor farmers in Iraq. She is preparing a simple lunch. MALAK stands by her side, breaking the tomatoes off the vine. ABEER enters with a water container. 




ABEER

Father will be home shortly.




MOTHER

Lunch is almost ready. Start the tea, Abeer.




ABEER

(ABEER fills the tea kettle and lights the burner.)

Mother, the soldiers at the checkpoint keep calling to me. They make gestures. They laugh at me.




MOTHER

(Alarmed) 

Do not look at them or answer them.

(ABEER’s FATHER enters. He is a large man, he smiles broadly when he sees his wife and daughters. MALAK crosses to him and gives him a hug. He sees the concern on his wife’s face. He crosses to ABEER, his first, and embraces her gently, cradling her head.)

What is wrong? ABEER are you giving your mother a hard time about school?

MOTHER

No. It's the soldiers. They say vile things to ABEER. They make monkey sounds. I’ve seen it myself.




FATHER

(Worried, but hiding it) 

Monkey sounds? Never mind them. They are just making noise. Abeer you are so young. They will not bother with you.




ABEER

Father, they scare me. Why don’t they just leave us alone?




FATHER

(Uncertain) 

They are here to protect us.




MOTHER

I will speak with your Aunt. I think it may be better if you stay with them for a while.




ABEER

(ABEER stops pouring the tea.)

Mama, no.


MOTHER

Abeer, do not argue.

(Lights down, Stage right, Simultaneously, up stage left. Angel, ROLAND’s youngest is in the kitchen with SARAH)




ANGEL 

Mama can I help?


SARAH

Yes, dear, bring me the carrots. 




ANGEL

Can I cut the carrots?


SARAH

Angel you are too little to use knives.




ANGEL

(Playing with the carrots)

Mama, why is Daddy so mad?


SARAH

Daddy has very bad dreams. He isn’t mad at you. 


ANGEL

Sometimes Daddy scares me. Daddy can be a very scary man.




SARAH

We need to do our best, Angel. Daddy loves you very much. He needs all our love. Let’s love Daddy as much as we can. He will get better. 

(ROLAND yells from offstage.)

ROLAND

Hey, I’m home! Where is everybody? 

(Both SARAH and ANGEL freeze in fear)




SCENE I Act 6

(Lights up on RICH’s porch. A makeup artist is finishing RICH’s face. He looks more robust.  An interviewer relaxes across from RICH. Lighting for the interview comes up.)




INTEVIEWER

So how has retirement been treating you? Have you been doing all the fishing you had hoped to?


RICH

Well I have managed to get out on a few of my favorite rivers. After the transplant, I’m amazed how well I feel. I’m just grateful for another day. And I’m not really retired. I’m getting out on the lecture circuit again. 


INTEVIEWER

So, tell me, what do you know about your heart donor? What kind of life did they lead, who were they?


RICH

I don’t concern myself with that sort of thing. I can tell you I am grateful. A family suffered a tragedy. But this organ donation program is really something. I am grateful just to wake up in the morning. I tell you, kiss your loved ones, tell them you love them. I feel stronger everyday. I feel great.




INTEVIEWER

You don’t have any curiosity?




RICH

No, I look at it like this; it’s my new heart, not someone else’s used heart. And I always generically thank donors for the gift that I’ve been given, but I don’t spend time wondering who had it, what they’d done, what kind of person they may have been. 

(RICH begins to chuckle.)

What if, God forbid, he was a liberal?

(RICH and Interviewer start laughing.)




INTEVIEWER

What if he was an environmentalist?


RICH

What if he were a peace activist?

(RICH and Interviewer laugh harder.)



INTEVIEWER

What if he was a murderer?

(RICH and Interviewer can barely contain themselves.)




RICH

What if he were a Muslim?

(Interviewer’s laughter abruptly ends.)



INTEVIEWER

(Seriously)

Why do you press on even in light of your health?




RICH

Well, I worry about the people running our country. They appease the terrorists. As a nation we’re soft, weak. It is important to talk about the war on terror- our freedom is at risk. Across generations, brave Americans have served honorably and kept us safe. 




INTEVIEWER

Did you serve your generation?


RICH

At the time, I had other priorities. 




INTEVIEWER

As a soldier a lot is sacrificed.




RICH

But there are rewards too. There is the pride of developing one's character and becoming a leader. Knowing that our nation's cause is the hope of the world. Every man and woman in America's Armed Services is part of an unbroken line of achievement and honor. 




INTEVIEWER

The administration is saying that the central tenets of our anti-terrorism policy have amounted to torture. That soldiers as well as the CIA tortured people.


RICH

We don't do torture. We checked. The Justice Department issues the requisite opinions in order to know where the lines were that you could not cross. The professionals involved in that program were very, very cautious, they wouldn't do anything without making certain it was authorized. And any suggestion to the contrary is just wrong. 

(Pause) 

Do you think they love America, this administration? They have a funny way of showing it.




INTEVIEWER

The soldiers involved are under a great deal of scrutiny.




RICH

Every one of them deserves the thanks and the admiration of our entire country. 

(Pause) 

War is not a ladies auxiliary tea party. It’s all too easy for people comfortable in LA, or New York, to condemn the troops without context. 

(Pause) 

You know, military service demands a special kind of sacrifice. The interests of the nation must always come first.




INTEVIEWER

What sacrifices have you made? 




SCENE I Act 7

(ROLAND sits close to SARAH. They are holding hands, deep in conversation filled with long pauses.) 




SARAH

ROLAND, I’m scared. 


ROLAND

I love you. I would never harm you. These nightmares are killing me.


SARAH

You had a gun in my face! I want to support you, I want to be with you, I don’t know how. 


ROLAND

It’s like I never know when I am awake. What’s real? I’m awake right? But this shadow is going to swallow me. It’s not who I have become, it’s who I am and it is ugly.


SARAH

I just don’t know what to do. I’m going to have a breakdown. I’ve let you down, I’m not strong enough. Angel is terrified.




ROLAND

ANGEL? ANGEL is terrified? Look, I have another appointment. I’ll ask them to adjust my meds.




SARAH

In a month you have an appointment. I don’t know if I have a month. I’m afraid to go to sleep at night. I know what you’ve been through was terrible. But how can you manage to be here, now, with us. Without destroying us? 


ROLAND

I just don’t know where to turn. I can’t reconcile my... I’m stuck in a loop in my head. The past is like a freight train barreling through. I can’t accept... unacceptable.




SARAH

I was thinking we might stay with my mom for a while. She’s just in town. I could bring Angel to visit.




ROLAND

(Distraught)

I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I need you. I’m so sorry, for everything. I am so sorry. Please don’t quit on me.




SARAH

It’ll just be temporary ROLAND. I’ll go with you to the VA. We’ll see your counselor. We’ll work through this. It will be better.

(ROLAND wipes his eyes and rests his head on his wife’s shoulder. She cradles his head. LILY enters with a bouquet.)




LILY

There you are. I am going to see your brother. Do you want to come with me? It is so tranquil at Mount Hope. I’m glad he is so close to us, instead of Arlington. It seems so cold there, all those crosses exactly the same, you could get lost. Come with me, Roland, we’ll say a prayer.




ROLAND

Thanks mom, but I’ll pass. Maybe another day.




LILY

Ok, but it’ll cheer you up. It’s a relief to know Owen is at peace, resting by our creator’s side.




ROLAND

Peace. Jesus.


SCENE I Act 8

(2 rooms of a small house. DOC and GOLDIE are in the room stage right, tossing the room, searching for weapons.)

(As lights come up we can hear Goldie barking commands along with small arms fire, screaming.)


GOLDIE

There is nothing here. Let them go, let’s move. Let’s go, let’s go! 

(The rest of the team enter and follow GOLDIE through the hole in the wall into the darkened stage left room) 

(In the dark we hear a voice crying out.) 




IRAQI WIFE

Laish? Laish? Laish? 

(Translated on scrim Why? Why? Why?)

(ROLAND’s team pushes past her, exiting stage left through another hole blasted in the stage left wall. ROLAND is the last of the team to move into the room. He steps into the bedroom. Lights up in the room. The bodies of two young boys and a young father are lying dead in a corner. The wife/mother bloodied, stands in the doorway. ROLAND’s legs buckle. He leans against the wall for support. He can’t breathe. He hangs his head and begins sobbing. The WIFE comes over to him. She stops screaming. She looks him in the eyes.)

Inshallah. Inshallah. 

(The English translation, “God’s will” drifts across the scrim.)


ROLAND

(Looks at her, mumbles)

I’m sorry. 

(ROLAND exits stage left. Lights slow fade.)



SCENE I Act 9

(Lights up on ROLAND.  He is sitting on a bar stool, drinking. Three of his Marine buddies (GOLDIE, DOC and VAL, in tank tops and desert camo) sit with him, their kelvar, guns, and gear nearby. GOLDIE remains a silent witness throughout.)


DOC

(His left bicep displays a tattoo of the Marine Corps emblem – a globe, an anchor and a bald eagle clutching a streamer displaying the Corps motto, Semper Fidelis. With his broad shoulders, crew cut and glowing smile, he could be the poster boy for recruiters.)

Dude, great to see you. 


ROLAND

It’s so great to just chill with you. I can't believe it.


VAL

(VAL has the words “Semper Fi” Tattooed across his chest and Natural Born Killer down his right arm, His left arm has Jesus on a crucifix wrapped in an American flag. He is tall, gangly, with black-rimmed glasses)

(Mocking)

I don’t believe it.


ROLAND

(Laughing) 

Shut the fuck up. Seriously think I’m losing it. What becomes of us?


DOC

Talk to me. I got your back man, always have.


ROLAND

Things have changed.

VAL

Sure have. You look like shit. Haunted.


ROLAND

Remember when we went to the recruiter. We wanted to serve our country. We wanted to fight. 

DOC

Convinced. Convinced it was our duty. It wasn’t even a choice, we had to join. 


ROLAND

My old man served, my granddaddy. He told us we could serve with honor. We could be part of something. 

VAL

Get the hell out of here.

ROLAND

Yeah. Said they’d make a man outta me.

VAL

They have. A broken man, a shell of a man.




ROLAND

Remember the crucible? That's when I knew I was a soldier.


VAL

Yeah, that was something. But it wasn’t nothing compared to Anbar.




ROLAND

When I got that Eagle, Globe and Anchor, I was never so proud. I was born again. I could feel everything the DI said right in my heart. Like Marine Corp was tattooed on my soul forever.




DOC

Dude, we did the best we could. We didn’t know. For everything we thought we had learnt, we didn’t know shit.


VAL

(Laughing) 

A noble cause, men. A noble cause. We were bred for pain.




ROLAND

This war, it’s not like my daddy’s war, or my granddaddy’s war. Those wars meant something. This is for nothing. 




VAL

Dude, First, I would reevaluate your ideas on Vietnam... But listen, securing peace, uplifting the good in these god-forsaken lands it means something, I still believe that. 




ROLAND

Is that what we are doing? Is it what we’ve ever done? My family are soldiers. I wanted to follow them.


VAL

Did you ever ask them what war looked liked? Look, to restrain evil out of love for my neighbor- that's a God-like act, that is war. Rely on a higher power my friend. We are warriors for Jesus. 




ROLAND

Damn, my mother would love you. I thought I was fighting evil. It was black and white for a while, then white and black. Everything turned around. I fought to survive. Then, I fought to get even. Now I fight to stay alive.




VAL

I fight to help liberate humanity. Hardship, struggle, brotherhood- that’s our salvation. 




DOC

The hell with all that. Jesus don’t know shit about IEDs. All I know I gotta be here for another year and there ain't shit I can do about it. I just want to go home alive. I don't give a rat’s ass about the whole thing. I don't care.


ROLAND

I hear ya on that. Whatever's necessary.

(Shakes his head)

Cheers! 

(Everyone drinks)

DOC

I love my fuckin’ country. I    love     it.




ROLAND

A patriot. I am a fucking patriot. 

(As though reminding himself)

I’m a force for good. A force for good.

(Drinks)

I told my father I was heading to Iraq and he said, Good. It’s about time you became a man. Then he tells me, just don’t be a pussy. I told him, I thought you’d tell me to come home safe, maybe give me a hug.  

(Laughs)

Nope, all he said is don’t be a pussy. I told ‘em I’d try my best.




DOC

I thought we would earn their respect. 


ROLAND

You did. You did that. 

DOC

Yeah, draped in an American flag.




ROLAND

I can’t even look in the mirror. Who can I talk to about this? You would rather die than hear what I am about to say.




DOC

We gotta go. 

(DOC embraces ROLAND)

Stay safe brother. 

(The three marines get up, grab their kelvar and M-16’s and cross the stage.  At mid-stage they shift to stances of being on patrol. The sound of a big explosion, a flash of light and smoke. When the smoke clears the three marines are in pieces on the ground.)




ROLAND

(Jumping from his bar stool, ROLAND moves towards his friends.)

Nooooo. 

(He stops center stage.)

(Lights Down)

(Lights up slowly. Sitting amongst the gore, covered in gore himself, ROLAND is drinking from a bottle of tequila with his wife (SARAH remains unbloodied.)




ROLAND

I got up in the middle of a cloud of smoke. The ground was slippery. Something was dripping from my face. I thought I was bleeding. I rubbed it between my fingers. Bone. I thought I was dead. I searched my body for the wound. Then I saw my friends. Just pieces. (He takes a swig and hands the bottle to SARAH, who drinks long.) DOC’s head was hanging by a thread. I cradled him and begged him not to go. Slippery. Wet. Alpha came around the corner. They looked at me. They looked at me, they saw a ghost. I had a concussion and headaches for weeks, until now. I went for counseling, I did. I told them all I wanted was to kill Iraqis, just kill as many as I could. I told them. I did. I told them I was crazy. I was given pills and told to rest. Sunlight speared into my brain. At night my heart beats so hard I think the evac-choppers are coming in.

(ROLAND sits cradling his friend’s remains as lights slow fade.)

(During fade) 

DOC still comes to me in my dreams. He asks me… 

(Blackout)


DOC


(Spot on DOC standing downstage in his dress blues, with ceremonial sword.) 

What are you gonna do now? You‘re fresh out of friends. 

(Whispers) 

Ooh-Rah. 


ROLAND

From that moment on, I was a dead man. 




END OF ACT 1


ACT II Scene 1

(Lights up on MALAK as she “studies” English. The living area is all but empty, an old TV on a table in the corner, with cushions on a worn carpet. She scribbles furiously. She is concentrating as hard as a 5 year old can muster)


MALAK

Ohhhh. I’ll never get it. 

(ABEER enters carrying vegetables from the garden, she is happy and smiling)


ABEER

Malak! You are learning with my English books again?


MALAK


Yes. I wish to learn English.


ABEER

Why, sweet MALAK?  


MALAK

I want to tell the soldiers to go away. We are happy without them.


ABEER

Oh, hush. It is such a beautiful day. Spring is finally here. The jasmine has bloomed. Smell! 

(She holds her wrist to MALAK’s nose.) 

You should play outside. Come now. 

(ABEER snatches the book away and runs. MALAK follows her outside, screaming and laughing.)



ACT II Scene 2

(ROLAND sits around a plastic table, playing cards with TONY and KENNY. They are drinking whiskey. They are already drunk, and talk over each other. It's hot. They are in various stages of undress, with helmet and weapons propped nearby. All are getting drunker as the scene goes on.)


ROLAND

Jesus, I’m bored to tears. This is makin me crazy. Why aren’t we doing something.


TONY

Take it easy, it’s too hot to move, never mind patrol. Have a drink.




ROLAND

That’s your answer to everything. Have a drink.




TONY

(Passes bottle.) 

Take a drink, asshole.




KENNY

(Drunk)

You know what I don’t understand, we’ve been here for a six months.




ROLAND

(Talking over KENNY)

Yeah, dude, I’ve been here a year. I was with the best damn crew to be found in this godforsaken sandbox. They held me up. I miss those bastards. Why the fuck am I here? I’m losing it. I go to psych and they tell me alright, suck it up, wipe the sand out of your crack and get on with the mission. And they tell me to rest. Rest? Rest brings on the horror show. Sleep hurts.

(TONY slides the bottle over, ROLAND drinks.)

Why the fuck haven’t we gone after the bastards who killed my boys?

(ROLAND drinks.)

And then they throw me in with you fucking fobbits. Sitting at this fucking checkpoint. Fuckin’ groundhogs day.




KENNY

Would you quit whining and hear me out, first, we’ve been here six months and killed plenty of Hadjis. So how is it we haven’t fucked a single one?


TONY

That‘s the truth. Why is that? What’s up with that ROLAND? How many Hadjis have you fucked in a year?




ROLAND

None.


KENNY

(TONY and KENNY, laughing, derisively.)

You’ve been here a year? What the hell?




TONY

Fucking be a man.


ROLAND

But there’s a girl and she lives just near here.




KENNY

Not that baby on the farm a click or 2.




ROLAND

She's not a baby. She‘s at least 14. That’s marrying age around here.


TONY

Let’s do it. But there can’t be any witnesses.




ROLAND

I’ll kill the whole Hadji family if you want me too Sarge. Kill ‘em all. I don’t care. Kill every last one of them.



SCENE II Act 3

(ABEER’s MOTHER enters with a broom, begins sweeping and cleaning the room. The offstage laughter of ABEER and MALAK can be heard. The mother is singing sweetly to herself. (In Arabic, translated on the background) 
“Like a Raindrop”


MOTHER

Like a raindrop
I was alone darling
Alone, my darling
Like a raindrop
MALAK

(Enters, out of breath. Hugs her mom, sings overly dramatic, fluttering eyebrows and all)

Don't be sad
Tomorrow I will buy you the moon 
and a morning star
And a garden of flowers


MOTHER & MALAK

Tomorrow, if I return from my journey 
Tomorrow, if leaves sprout in my ribs of stone
But today I'm alone my darling
Alone my darling like a raindrop.




MOTHER

Where is Abeer?


MALAK

She has gone to the well. 


ABEER

(Off Stage Scream)

(TONY & KENNY pull ABEER into the room, KENNY has his hand over her mouth. MOTHER jumps up, shielding MALAK and moving toward ABEER. TONY shoves her back, points his rifle at her. ROLAND enters pushing the Father ahead of him.)

(ROLAND stands guard over the family with the family’s AK-47 and a shotgun slung over his shoulder, as TONY and KENNY drag ABEER to the next room.)


MOTHER

(In Arabic, translation on scrim)

What are you doing? ABEER do as they say. Stop this. She's a child! 


FATHER


(In Arabic, translation on scrim, Overlapping with MOTHER)

How dare you enter this house? We’ve cooperated. We trusted you. Enough. If you harm my daughter, I will kill you.




ROLAND

(Cocking and pointing AK-47 at FATHER)

Everybody just calm down and shut up. I don’t understand. And I don’t care. 

Shut the fuck up!


MOTHER

(Mother begins praying/cursing in Arabic, translated on Scrim)




ABEER

(ABEER speaks in Arabic, translated on scrim)

I love you Mama, I love you Father. Malak, stay strong. Remember the jasmine in the spring.

(ABEER cries out in pain and her scream is muffled.)

(MOTHER pushes past FATHER and nears ROLAND. He fires one shot and she drops to the floor dead. FATHER shields MALAK, after the shot, he charges. The AK-47 jams and they grab each other.  ROLAND fires the shotgun, killing FATHER. MALAK, covered in blood moves downstage, facing audience. She screams. ROLAND clears the AK-47 and shoots her from where he stands.)

(ROLAND turns to enter the next room. He takes off his flak jacket and puts down the shotgun. He unzips his fly, and enters the room. We here a cry, and some grunting as lights slowly die. Just before blackout, we here a single shot.)



SCENE II Act 4

(Spot on ROLAND as he sits at his kitchen table. GOLDIE, VAL, DOC, BILLIE and DODGE sit around him. It is 4:30 am. 15 bottles of different pills litter the table. A ½ bottle of Wild Turkey on the counter, a couple empty beer cans, more on ice. He is playing with his 9 mm. He is not drunk.)


DOC

Soldier, what were you thinking? I love you like a brother, but you were wrong dead wrong.




ROLAND

(Shamed)

I was drunk. High. Look, I just didn’t care. I was a dead man. All of me. I am a dead man.

I lost it.


BILLIE

(Drunk)

You fucking pussy.


VAL

You’ve gotta get yourself right with God.



GOLDIE

Honor, courage, commitment son. Core values of the U.S. Marine Corp. The bedrock of who we are. You’ve tarnished my reputation, and worse, you have tarnished the institution. We only wanted the best of the best. We’d weed out the little wussies that didn’t want to be real people. You’re a Marine. 




DODGE

You’re a Marine. What the hell does that mean? Some gold standard of warrior? In WWII we rampaged across France raping the women we liberated. Saving Fucking Private Ryan doesn’t mention that does he? We were all heroes. Are you kidding me? We did chemical weapons tests on our own troops. They wanted to see if mustard gas affected black men differently than whites. That’s crazy shit. Damn it’s all lies. Heroes my ass. War is carnage and vileness. Core values. Core values. 




ROLAND

Grandpa why didn’t you ever talk to me? And what about killing? Why isn’t killing a core value? 


DODGE

(Almost poetic)

I was 18. I got separated from my guys. Hiding in the forest. The sun was sinking behind me, illuminating the trees across this big golden field. I could see the enemy across the way. And I could see this young kid crawling in a ditch straight toward my position. He kept comin (uneasy giggle), I let him crawl. 

(Side tracked) 

I was 18, I didn’t know shit. They call it the Good War, We firebombed Hamburg, Dresden, 67 Japanese cities 67, incinerated... 

(shaking his head) 

I digress, out there in the trees, look, there was nothing good about... when he got within 10 or 15 feet of me I screamed for him to stop. He was shocked. He raised his gun. That was death for him. But this young man, he was beautiful. Fair skin, blond hair, and crystal clear blue eyes. A blue the color of the sky. He was beautiful. He was like an angel. I shot him- right in the heart. And it didn’t bother me that first night. I was bone tired. But the second night I woke up crying, because that boy was right there. And to this day I wake up crying. I still see this angel in my dreams. I just don’t know how to get him off my mind... I never told anyone this story til just now.

(Addressing Goldie)

You make them army strong. But after that, they’re just not strong enough.


ROLAND

(Pointing at GOLDIE, entreating) 
You demanded I hate. To survive. You taught me to kill. 

(He breaks into a Marine Corp Cadence)

Hail, hail, infantry 
Queen of battles, follow me 
Marine Corps life is the life for me 
Cause nothing in this life is free. 
Kick in the door, what do I see 
a whole fucking Hadji family 
pull the pin and toss the room
I stand outside I hear the boom 
Blood and guts are everywhere 
I even got some in my hair 
I pick it out and i say 
Hadji, Hadji it’s not your day 
Hadji, Hadji can’t you see 
USMC was made for me


GOLDIE 

We have a job to do gentlemen. War is brutal. In order to win in war we must be more brutal than the enemy. Anything less will ensure defeat. Get ready!

(Clapping his hands in time)

Fired up
Everybody
Fired up
I am 
Lean and mean
Rough and tough
I know my stuff
I can run
All day
I can fight
All night
I’m gonna be
infantry
I’m airborne

(ROLAND, DOC & VAL clap in cadence)

You got the feeling
In your heart
Sound off
Everybody 
We gonna rock

(ROLAND, DOC & VAL join in repeating each line in cadence)

All right
Hey Hey
Every day
I’m motivated
I’m dedicated
I can run
I can jump
A Paratrooper
A superdooper
A Paratrooper
All right
How ya lookin
Lead: Lookin good 
Group-Lookin good
Lead- Hollywood [returns to regular pattern]
All right
You’re dynomite
Hey hey
Everybody
Feelin good
Fired up
Motivated
Dedicated 

(Claps continue for 2 meters)




ROLAND

(Over clapping)

I did it for you. I did it for all of you. 

(DOC pats him on the shoulder, hugs him hard, VAL looks at him with pity, & GOLDIE looks down dejected) If I thought it was an ok thing now I wouldn’t be much of a human being would I?

Would I? 


GOLDIE

In defense of all we hold dear back home, we fight. We will locate, disrupt, and destroy the enemy. I’m looking forward to this fight because we’re going to smoke check these motherfuckers.



DOC, VAL & GOLDIE

(His three buddies exit to GOLDIE calling cadence)

Hail, hail, infantry 
Queen of battles, follow me 
Marine Corps life is the life for me 
Cause nothing in this life is free. 
Here I lie in this foreign land 
Bleeding on this foreign sand. 
Ground around me turning red 
By the time they find me, I'll be dead. 
Hail, hail, infantry...



SCENE II Act 5

(ROLAND’s kitchen. ROLAND is sitting center downstage facing audience)


ROLAND

I had a mission. I never denied what I did. I have done evil, but I am not an evil man. I’m a believer. I love my family. I love my country. I’m being straight with you. This isn’t a story anyone wants to hear. Look, what you see on the news isn’t real. It’s not so simple. They talk about bad apples, call me a disgrace. They want to create this space between me and them. I’m not that much different than you. I wasn’t much for high school, drank plenty of beers… but that’s my family, we drink. I’d cut out to go to the river plenty. That’s where I met SARAH. The best thing that ever happened to me, I worship her. Then came the war. I joined willingly. I turned my head and I was in the desert. A 120 fuckin degrees in the shade. My brother never talked about this stuff. My dad is right, I’m weak, I couldn’t hold a candle to him. I thought I’d come home clean. I thought I’d be tellin stories of building soccer fields for the kids, liberating women, finally some respect. Then I come home, I’m fending for myself. I’m not making excuses. Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro, Trazodone. I call them my I don’t kill people drugs. The last thing I thought was that one day I’d be home, dealing with this. This is real right? What I thought was normal is the farthest thing from normal. I am trying to make sense of who I am. You call me a coward. I went to war. Revenge is wrong? In war? When your family is hit, don’t you want revenge? I’m asking you. Or do you forgive? Who is eligible for forgiveness? I’ve been discarded like yesterdays trash. I’m invisible to you but I am here. Chris Kyle- You know him right, he’s a superhero. Like my brother, he was a sniper. He killed hundreds. He said he loved what he did. He said he wasn’t exaggerating to say it was fun. Some killing’s just fine with you isn’t it?

      (Shaking head, smiles.)


Fun. I quote him a lot. He also said, “I hate to say it, but when you’re back and you’re just walking around a mall or something, you feel like a pussy.” And this gem, “If you hate the war, that’s fine. You should still support the troops. They give the American people a blank check for anything up to and including the value of their lives, and the least everyone else can do is be thankful.” Do you support the troops? Fuck Chris Kyle. And now what? I don’t stand a chance, and I don’t blame you for what I have become. What about you? Where do you stand in all this? When you say, “Thank you for your service,” what exactly are you thanking me for? Do you realize my service is killing? Or maybe you thank me for something else, something you can’t bear?




SCENE II Act 6

(Lights up on ROLAND’s kitchen. ROLAND is alone. Listening to RICH’s interview. He is drinking a glass of orange juice. The sun sets through the kitchen window.)


RICH (Voiceover)

No single military power in history has done greater good, liberated more people, or upheld higher standards of decency and valor than the Armed Forces of the United States of America. You know, military service demands a special kind of sacrifice.


ROLAND

(ROLAND turns off the TV and throws the remote across the table.)

This family? We sacrificed. Him sitting on his porch drinking iced tea, not so much. Telling me about sacrifice? Telling me about service? He’s got balls. 

(Quiet)

My brother died twice for this country. Once in Iraq and once in the god damn bathroom. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. What day did that SOB get his transplant? 

(Realizing the worst) 

No, no, no. Wait a fucking minute. Are you kidding me? My brother was a good man. He had heart. 

(Pushes back his chair and stands)

I’ve done terrible things but I’ll got a mission. 



SCENE II Act 7

(RICH’s library, early evening. RICH sits at his desk, feet up, back to the door, reading. Pounding on the door.)


RICH

Why the hell are you pounding? The door is open. Where the hell is my latte?

(The door opens DIEGO stumbles forward followed closely by ROLAND, who has a pistol at his side. DIEGO hands RICH his latte. RICH adds his remaining scotch. DIEGO is shaking.)




RICH

(RICH looks over his shoulder and notices ROLAND, not turning around.)

Who are you soldier? What do you want? 




ROLAND

This place doesn’t look anything like on TV. 




RICH

This isn’t TV soldier. How did you get in here? Security like Fort Knox.


ROLAND

Respect for the uniform I guess. Like a dream, a ghost, all Rambo like. This is real right? I just drove right up to the front door, no questions asked.




RICH

(Faces Roland)

Are you intoxicated, you are acting a bit strange.




ROLAND

I’m off my meds. It makes me unpredictable.




RICH

Well what do you want? Security will be here in minutes. Make it quick, I’m a busy man.




ROLAND

It will be quick alright. If I hadn't ever been in Iraq, I wouldn't be in the kind of trouble I'm in now. I'm not happy about that.




RICH

And that’s my fault? We are keeping America safe, son. 




ROLAND

My brother is dead. He kept America safe. He came home and died.




RICH

A man who has nothing he is willing to fight for, nothing that he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless he is made free by the exertions of better men than himself. That’s a quote son, John Stuart Mill, ever hear of him?




ROLAND
(Snarls)

Don’t you patronize me. 


RICH

Just relax. Have a seat. What can I do for you? 




ROLAND

I believed you. I joined the fight.

(Sweating. Taking off his Jacket. He wipes his brow.)

I’ll tell you what I want. I want an apology. Here and now. And I am taking back what doesn’t belong to you.




RICH

Apologize? I don’t apologize, it’s not in my vocabulary. Go see Kissinger. He called military men “Dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy.” Me, I’ve always supported the troops. I haven’t done anything I wouldn’t do again son.




ROLAND

Don’t call me son.




RICH

They hate us for our freedoms.




ROLAND

They hate us for our freedom--- what do you think I’m stupid? I’ve been there. I know why they hate us. 
The day I shipped out you shook my hand and thanked me for my service. 


RICH

I shake a lot of hands. 

(Reaches out to shake hands.)

Thank you for


ROLAND

(Apoplectic) 

I don’t want your thanks. Sitting here in your library sipping your lattes. You don't know anything about what it's like to be out there on the line.




RICH

(Confused)

What line son? Are you having trouble with the VA? I thought that issue was resolved.




ROLAND

Waiting times are now only 40 days. They gave me more pharmaceuticals than Elvis. They told me to get more sleep. 




RICH

Are you getting more sleep?




ROLAND

Nothing but nightmares. You. You are my nightmare. My wounds are not invisible.

(ABEER, bloodied, her clothes burned off her, a look of distress and fear on her face, her hands out from her sides silently crosses the stage. This should imitate the iconic photo of Phan Thi Kim Phuc fleeing her village in Vietnam after it was hit with napalm) 

Do you see? ...I can still smell her. 




RICH

(RICH sees nothing. Sneers) 

See what? Smell who? And what would I have that belongs to you? Son, buck up. This conversation is over. GARCIA will show you to the door.

(RICH sips his latte.)




ROLAND

Don't call me son.

(Roland points his gun at RICH, RICH sits back down, quickly)

I saw your interview. I did a little research. You got your heart on April 1st didn’t you?

(For the first time RICH really looks at ROLAND, hesitates.)

Didn’t you?

(DIEGO is shaking his head no, vigorously.)




RICH

I got my heart transplant on April 3rd.




ROLAND

(Pulling out a crumpled NY Times article. Waving it.)

NY Times, April 2nd, announcing your transplant. My brother died on April 1st. He killed himself just a few miles from here, but a world away. His was a broken dream, built on a shit heap of lies. 




RICH

Don’t believe everything you read in the Times. Filled with liberal bias.

(Pause. ROLAND considers this.)

(ROLAND lunges. DIEGO screams. RICH whimpers. ROLAND cuts out RICH’S heart with his KBar. ROLAND grabs RICH by the collar and dumps his lifeless body on the floor. He grabs the Marine Corp ceremonial sword from the wall. He sits in RICH’s chair, blood running down his arms. ROLAND wipes the sweat from his brow, a smile on his face. He sips from RICH’s scotch. His pistol sits on the table He is waving around his bloody KBar, DIEGO cowers in a corner.) 




ROLAND

(Singing) (Note: This is a rip off of a Lee Greenwood song. Possible Copyright issues.) 

Today the things I’ve known are gone 
That I’ve worked for all my life 
And I have to start again 
Without my children and my wife 
I thank my lucky charms, 
I’m still standing here today 
Old glory still stands for freedom 
And they can’t take that away 
I’m proud to be an American, 
Where I still dream I’m free. 
And I don't forget the men who died, 
who gave that right to me.

(We hear helicopters outside. We also hear a message over a PA: The police are surrounding the house. There is no escape. Come out with your hands up, etc. ROLAND stands and picks up his jacket and puts it on. He wipes the knife blade and tucks it in its sheath. He picks up his pistol.)


ROLAND

The few, the proud, the Marines. Ooh-Rah. Can I get an Ooh-Rah? Be All You Can Be.


(Pounding on the door. Voiceover. A male voice announcing the police… Then SARAH, pleading for Roland to open the door. A moment of silence. ROLAND points his pistol to his eye.)

Let the Journey Begin. Aim High. 

(A shot rings out simultaneous to Blackout.) 




     SCENE II Act 8

(Downstage, ROLAND in dress blues reading
the most recent Marine Corp advertising campaign)

It is a right of passage. A challenge to join the elite. And if you succeed, if you can master your fear, outsmart your enemy and never yield even to yourself, you will be changed forever. Many will hear the call. Few will earn the title. (weeping) The few, the proud… (sobbing, can not continue.)


THE END.