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The Play; P.T.S.D.

Premiered -- 18 June 2010

P. T. S .D.

A Stage play by

Dan S. Ward

 

Note

This play is based on an actual transcript of a therapy session administered by Dr. William Baldwin, one of the true leaders in the treatment of P. T. S. D. as an entity attachment syndrome. As a witness of many of the sessions conducted by Dr. Baldwin, the play's author can testify to the amazing if not incredible results of such therapy sessions. One item in particular is the degree to which Dr. Baldwin appears to be guided by an unknown prompter with respect to asking just the right question, at the right time.

 

Setting

Scene 1: A sparsely set stage of foliage and barren landscape, representing a dreamy remembrance of Vietnam. The time is June 1969.

Scene 2: The office of a therapist in the United States, twenty years later.

 

Dramatis Personae

Jeff -- American soldier, killed in Vietnam.

Jim -- American soldier, killed in Vietnam

Ted -- American soldier, killed in Vietnam.

Sam -- American soldier, killed in Vietnam.,

Wayne -- American soldier (medic and sergeant), Vietnam veteran, died of a drug overdose while in the United States many years after the war

Mike -- Therapist

Loni -- Mike's patient and former military nurse

Bernie -- Friend of Jim's father, killed in a hunting accident before the war

Lieutenant Li -- Viet Cong officer, killed by Jim in the war

Mao Ta -- Ancient Chinese Warrior

Cyrus -- Member of Klu Klux Klan


SCENE 1

(Darkness. Sounds of distant artillery and machine gun fire. Lights come up slowly to show a sparsely set stage of foliage and barren landscape. The scene is Vietnam -- hot, dirty, humid and bleak. Some evidence of the war in the immediate surroundings -- broken foliage, etc.)

(JEFF rushes on stage. He is in full battle dress and has obviously seen combat already. He is dirty, sweaty and weary after a long patrol. He is also very much alert and ready to tackle anything. His gun is at the ready and he scans the immediate surroundings with intensity, urgency, and suspicion. Jeff is very tired, but scared enough to be extremely cautious.)

(JIM walks on stage, tired but almost casual. In appearance, he is dressed like Jeff, but seems much less concerned. Jim is the veteran whereas Jeff is the relative newcomer. Jim is also very tired, but is no longer scared enough and simply too weary to show as much caution. Jim drops off his pack as he approaches Jeff and crouches down to rest.)

JIM: Lighten up, babe. Otherwise you ain't gonna make it.

JEFF: But listen! There's shit all around us!

JIM: Too many clicks away to worry about.

(TED enters, followed by SAM and WAYNE. All three are clearly the same veterans that Jim is. Wayne wears the garb of a medic and, as sergeant, is the clear leader. Ted drops his pack as Jim had done, but Sam keeps his on.)

WAYNE: (to Jim) Any sign of a hughie?

JIM: Nope. Near as I can figger it, the C.O. don't want to get too close to the action, if you catch my drift.

WAYNE: (pulling out a torn and dirty map, and pointing to stage left) He wants us to head down that road there; set up a barricade; secure the area.

SAM: Shit! Secure for how long?! Why not just wait here for a pick up?

WAYNE: Orders... this road needs some traveling... and it's up to us to establish a stop point, preferably in that clearing down below.

TED: Yeah... a clearing! Like where we can get picked up! Damn right! Let's truck it on down.

JEFF: (gesturing to the hint of the beginning road at stage left) That's a road?

JIM: Not an interstate, Babe, but it beats hackin' your way through the bush.

SAM: Hey, let's take it. Time to head for the showers!

JIM: You want me point, Wayne?

WAYNE: (nonchalantly) Nah... That's my job.

JIM: Hell man, you need the rest. Besides ... I don't like you foulin' my field of fire.

(Jim packs up again to head out. Ted follows his lead and redons his own pack.)

WAYNE: Sam, you take the rear.

SAM: Oh, yeah. Back of the bus again.

TED: (good naturedly) Watch it black boy. Otherwise we won't let you play with us again.

SAM: Promise?

JIM: (exiting off stage to what appears to be the start of the "trail") Jest follow the yellow brick road.

(The others fall in behind in order: Jim, Ted, Jeff, Wayne and Sam. As Jim and Ted disappear from view, all hell breaks loose off stage -- land mines go off (3 in rapid succession), followed by machine gun fire. On stage -- Jeff is thrown back toward Wayne, his stomach a mass of blood. Jeff's weight is enough to knock Wayne down. Sam rushes forward only to catch machine gun fire, and goes down immediately, screaming in pain. Screams of Jim and/or Ted are heard from offstage. Bursts of machine gun fire continue as Wayne struggles out from under Jeff, and frantically checks him for signs of life, administering morphine. Clearly Jeff is dead. Wayne crawls to Sam, who is crying in immense pain. As Wayne tries to give morphine to Sam, Jim (off stage) cries out in pain again.)

WAYNE: I'll be there in a minute, Jim! I'm coming. I'm coming.

(Sam dies abruptly, causing Wayne only a moment of pause. Then Wayne crawls frantically off stage toward Jim and Jeff. Machine gun fire continues as does the cries of Jim. Jeff is now quiet and presumed dead.)

(Wayne reenters dragging Jim's bloodied and torn body. Jim is now quiet and apparently in shock. Machine gun fire lessens as Wayne gives Jim morphine. Then there is a lull, while Wayne holds Jim. The lights begin to dim.)

WAYNE: (crying) Hang in there, Jim!

(Jim tries to talk and then becomes very still. Wayne does not fully accept that Jim has just died. His thoughts are interrupted by the sounds of a helicopter landing offstage right, along with a rush of wind onto the stage. Wayne realizes the arrival, and picks Jim up in his arms to rush toward the helicopter.)

WAYNE: Come on Jim! Time to go home!

(Lights slowly go to black as Wayne struggles off stage with Jim in his arms. Sounds of distant artillery are heard, followed by a distant, soft bugle blowing taps. This is followed by light music, totally unassociated with the war. The first piece of music should be from the late sixties, the second piece which phases in over the first, should be from the mid 1980s. SCENE CHANGE during the music and while the stage is dark.)

(Lights come up on stage to show MIKE and LONI in Mike's office. Loni is sitting on the edge of an easy chair, watching Mike, as he works with his tape recorder.)

MIKE: Okay... This is October 26th. New Session, L thirty one. Now if they don’t start messing with my tape machine again...

LONI: I was just gonna say I've heard it happens at times. It wouldn't surprise me.

MIKE: Yeah, not at all. Okay ... so if they’re here, and there’s some indication they are... they did hear me talk that day. You may recall that there was quite a reaction from them then... that is to say, you appeared to really feel it. They seem to have a full mind but no body, so they just plug into somebody's body and then feel their feelings using your body. And, of course, you feel the feelings too.

LONI: Mm-hmm.

MIKE: And so if they are there, they're very much aware I'm speaking to them.

(Loni seems momentarily distracted).

MIKE: What happened just then?

LONI: They're grinning at you. (as if talking to herself) Okay, you guys! It’s not shower time and there are no mirrors here.

(Noises off: laughter)

MIKE: Yeah. Now... All of you... listen up!

LONI: (as if talking to herself) Yeah... listen up. (to Mike) It's pretty logical, I guess, that there must be somebody clinging on there. I've been around too much death, too much destruction. It wouldn't surprise me a bit. But I have no idea, you know. Facing that's pretty scary. Have you ever had this done to you, Mike?

MIKE: Yeah.

LONI: Maybe it's even necessary in order to do what you do.

MIKE: Yeah. To keep clear. I have to check it once in a while with somebody who knows.

LONI: How do you know they don't bail from somebody else and jump into you?

MIKE: I don't.

LONI: So you periodically go for a little head-clearing?

MIKE: Except the ones I talk to are almost always willing to go home to the light once they know the truth... and that it's available to them no matter what they've done.

LONI: Any of them can go to the light?

MIKE: Yeah. It's always available. A lot of Vietnam vets might feel that they don't deserve it, after all the things that went down in Vietnam. They may feel they have no place to go, that they don't deserve any rest. But the light is always available, complete absolution.

LONI: Oh, wow!

MIKE: One vet, it took two whole sessions -- he was so convinced he had done so much wrong. But eventually, he too went into the light.

LONI: Survival guilt is pretty ...

MIKE: I mean: it's heavy stuff. They're so convinced they should have been killed as well as all the others.

LONI: Yeah.

MIKE: There’s a great book called The Wounds of War, where various guys talked about shooting other Americans and the guilt they had from that. Some had shot women and children and unarmed grandparents... but still... these innocents might have been carrying bombs on them... so what can you do? So these vets ... they had terrible guilt from that kind of thing. If any of them had any sense of heaven or their deserving peace and rest, these guys would say they don't deserve ever to go to heaven -- that kind of thing.

LONI: Yeah.

MIKE: And so it took two sessions to work it through with this one vet.

LONI: Well, after some of the stories I've heard, I can believe anything. Some from my own brother.

MIKE: Still... almost all of them ... once they're aware of the truth... the fact they’ve died, that they're now a spirit, that they're now just hanging on, that it's 1988... Once they see the light come around... and as they express their emotions, they're more ready to see the light. Then they usually can't wait; they often see somebody they know.

LONI: Oh, yeah. Alright! (Loni sits back in the easy chair)

MIKE: It's constitutes a total transformation of their thinking, a complete re-education process... which is what lot of psychotherapy is about anyway. In effect, we're actually doing very rapid therapy on the being that is now a spirit attached to someone else's body. (pause as he starts the tape recorder.) Any reactions?

LONI: I have to say: well... yeah. My feeling is that I've thought, ever since I told you I was going to do this, I've tried to sit and think about all the different people that I've been with. But you know, what you do... you go to the hospital, put in your shift, do what you have to do and then shut the door on it and go out. I guess it's part of my nursing training... don't get involved. In my conscious mind I may not -- in this state, anyway -- I may not recall all the different things. All the different times I've left the hospital and shut the door on all those inside. But you know there's gotta be little old ladies and little old men and Vietnam vets and kids and... I don't know.

MIKE: What's the emotion right now?

LONI: I feel sad for them.

MIKE: What you feel is sadness?

LONI: Yeah, I do.

MIKE: It may be yours and it may be for theirs. Or it may be something else.

LONI: Can't put my finger on it.

MIKE: No. But your left brain will make up a reason for it.

LONI: Probably.

MIKE: And that's as good as any.

LONI: I suppose so.

MIKE: But there's a sadness right now, right?

LONI: Yeah.

MIKE: Focus inside and see. See if any images come that have to do with that sadness. Don't try to force anything; just see if there are any images or pictures as you focus inward on that feeling of sadness, allowing the sadness to be there fully.

LONI: (with her eyes closed) Oh yeah, I see.

MIKE: What's the picture?

LONI: It's a trail. Or a dirt road.

MIKE: Talk about it. Describe it.

LONI: It's a trail. In Vietnam. It goes downhill and curves around to the left.

MIKE: Okay.

LONI: And there's a hill on the left, some sort of embankment on the right. Hills are all around it.

MIKE: Yeah. Trees?

LONI: I started to say who I'm with, but that can't be... ‘cause I'm not.

MIKE: Please let it come just the way it comes. You're doing perfect. Just let it flow, without the conscious mind interfering. You're just perfect, Loni, you're doing good.

LONI: I don't know...

MIKE: Just let it flow. Don't censor it or criticize it. Let whatever comes, come.

LONI: It seems pretty crazy to me...

MIKE: I understand. When I'm in this, I do the same thing.

LONI: Okay.

MIKE: It's hard to separate yours from theirs, but let it happen.

LONI: Okay. I'm with four or five guys... and there's lots of noise.

MIKE: What is the noise? What's causing the noise?

LONI: The guns.

MIKE: Okay.

LONI: And the helicopters.

MIKE: Can you recognize what kind of helicopter?

LONI: Hughies.

MIKE: And what kind of guns? Do you recognize them by the sound?

LONI: They’re... I don't know.

MIKE: Okay. Go on. What happens next?

LONI: We're going down this road... we have to go down this road... and I've got this feeling... somebody's gonna get hurt.

MIKE: What's your name, first thing that comes to mind?

(Loni shudders slightly as Wayne's voice answers from behind her.)

WAYNE: Wayne.

MIKE: Alright, Wayne. How old are you, Wayne?

WAYNE: Twenty-Two.

MIKE: Your first tour?

WAYNE: (appearing as if out of Loni’s head, as the light fades on Loni) My third.

(Loni continues to react to the subsequent dialogue.)

MIKE: (talking directly to Wayne as he begins to move around the office) Third tour, eh? And you have the feeling somebody's gonna get hurt?

WAYNE: Yeah. Somebody's gonna get hurt.

(Wayne begins to move as if re-enacting the scene in Vietnam; he holds an imaginary map.)

MIKE: Okay, go on. Keep describing it.

WAYNE: I'm afraid. Scared shitless, if you must know. I'm supposed to be point.

MIKE: Yeah. What happens to ...

WAYNE: I'm not gonna be point today. I'm sending out my best friend.

MIKE: What's his name? First thing that comes to mind.

WAYNE: Jim? (smiling slightly) Jim.

MIKE: Okay, so your best friend's gonna take point, is that right?

(Wayne is beginning to absently notice some of the office furnishings, particularly any items which were available only during the post-Vietnam era.)

WAYNE: Yeah. But they're all my friends.

MIKE: Yeah. You make friends real fast there, don't you?

WAYNE: Yeah. We've been together a long time.

MIKE: Okay... What happens next?

WAYNE: We start to go down this hill... (beginning to reenact the memory) and...(sob) the whole trail comes up! Mines! Everybody's blown to pieces! Jim's right side... it’s blown away!

MIKE: You see it?

WAYNE: I see it. I'm the medic and I grab all the morphine I can find and I'm just crawling around because I've got shrapnel in my hand! I crawl... (sob) around and I'm trying to help them... and they're screaming and I'm just pushing their guts back in as fast as I can get 'em in there. Screaming... Then the VC open up and they start mowing the rest of us down.

MIKE: You're wide open, aren't you?

WAYNE: (sobs) Oh, God!

MIKE: Wayne, there was nothing you could do.

WAYNE: (sob) Shouldn't have... had Jim... up there.

MIKE: Say it again...?

WAYNE: I shouldn't have sent him out there! I shouldn't have sent Jim out there... I shouldn't....

MIKE: Did you send him?

WAYNE: ...they got it.

MIKE: Did you send him?

WAYNE: I should have been the one! It should’ve been me. Why the hell...? All I can do is grab him... I'm crawling up alongside... I'm dragging him... We're gonna get out... we're gonna get out of there... somehow. Get to the top of the hill, where there’s a...

MIKE: Who are you dragging up?

WAYNE: Jim... what's left of him.

MIKE: Is he still alive?

WAYNE: Still alive.

MIKE: You're dragging him up. Go ahead. You get to the top of the hill.

WAYNE: (re-enacting the scene in Vietnam) I get to the top of the hill... There's a helicopter landing... she's coming down. The door's opening and I... I... I don't have no strength left... it's just about all I can do, to get Jim in. (pause) The C.O.'s there. He's yelling at me, "What happened, Wayne, what happened?" I don't give a shit... (sob) I pick what's left of Jim up and put it in the helicopter and he's bleeding... there's not much left of him. He's dying. He's dead.

MIKE: He is dead now, isn't he? You gave him morphine though, didn't you?

WAYNE: Yeah.

MIKE: You eased his pain in the last minutes. Wayne? Do you realize that? You eased it for him. You did.

WAYNE: The C.O.'s screaming at me. He's asking me what happened. He thinks it's my fault.

MIKE: That's bullshit!

WAYNE: Sure is. Smashed him right in the mouth.

MIKE: Good.

WAYNE: (sobs)

MIKE: What happens next, Wayne?

WAYNE: I don't know. It's black.

MIKE: Wayne, what's your last name?

WAYNE: Dory.

MIKE: How do you spell that?

WAYNE. D-o-r-y.

MIKE: What's your serial number, Wayne.

WAYNE: Oh, shit.

MIKE: You've said it a thousand times.

WAYNE: 1 9 4... 2 8... 0 5 0.

MIKE: What's your rank, Wayne?

WAYNE: Sergeant.

MIKE: What's the date?

WAYNE: June 7th, '69... I think.

MIKE: Alright. Wayne, let's go back through it. Do you think about this sometimes, Wayne? Have you thought about it a lot ?

WAYNE: I can't stop thinking about it.

MIKE: Yeah. Where you're supposed to be point, you're gonna sit out now. You're going down the trail. What were your orders that day? What were your orders? Back up and see.

WAYNE: I was supposed to take the fire team down the trail. Oh! I don't want to go. The Commanding Officer must have been high.

MIKE: High on what?

WAYNE: Sonofabitch!

MIKE: He was high?

WAYNE: Oh yeah.

MIKE: On what?

WAYNE: We all wanted his ass.

MIKE: What do you mean he was high; on what?

WAYNE: Anything he could get his hands on.

MIKE: It was available, wasn't it?

WAYNE: Sure it was. We all did it.

MIKE: Yeah. Where'd you get it from? VC? Did they make it available?

WAYNE: Oh no, man, you could get it, it was everywhere; all of us had it. We couldn't handle it otherwise!

MIKE: Yeah. But who gave it to you? The Vietnamese?

WAYNE: Some of the guys.

MIKE: But what was the supply line? Think for a minute... what was the supply line? Because it made everybody crazy.

WAYNE: Well... we could get it when we went to Saigon.

MIKE: Yeah. Think now. You have a broader view. You have a much wider range of vision now. Think for a moment, Wayne. What was the supply line of those drugs?The main supply line. You never thought about it before, did you? Where did they come from? You know.

WAYNE: The VC?

MIKE: It was an enemy ploy.

WAYNE: Coulda got it from the girls.

MIKE: You could get it anywhere, and their supply line was where? If you take it back a few steps further, where'd it come from? The VC? Why not? The drugs were a weapon just like any weapon that the VC fired at you. Did you ever think of that?

WAYNE: I don't know.

MIKE: Never thought about that, did you?

WAYNE: No.

MIKE: Alright. So your C.O. was high that day and he ordered you out?

WAYNE: Yeah. Yeah! He wanted us to set up a, some kind of a barricade on the other side of this hill. It was close to Black Virgin Mountain.

MIKE: Okay.

WAYNE: A barricade. So that's what we were doing.

MIKE: So you were supposed to go out on point ... you sent somebody else out instead?

WAYNE: Yeah. I did.

MIKE: As sergeant, did you have that power? You had that command?

WAYNE: We all did. We took turns.

MIKE: Okay, so was it your fault that the other guys went out, that Jim took point?

WAYNE: It seemed like I treated him somehow... he knew I was tired.

MIKE: Yeah.

WAYNE: I was so damn tired.

MIKE: How many times did you go out on point?

WAYNE: Can't remember.

MIKES: Lots?

WAYNE: Yeah.

MIKE: It just happened to be this day that he got it. You could have gotten it any of those other days, couldn't you?

WAYNE: Yeah. I wish I had.

MIKE: Yeah. Wayne ...

WAYNE: We were together a long time, all of us.

MIKE: Wayne, what happened when you went up the hill? You pulled Jim up the hill. The helicopter came in. He was already dead, wasn't he? You got the morphine into him, though, didn't you?

WAYNE: Yeah.

MIKE: That eased it up for him the last few minutes, that eased it for him. You know that, don't you?

WAYNE: Yeah.

MIKE: And the C.O. came down yelling and you smashed him in the face.

WAYNE: (laughter)

MIKE: One bright spot of the day?

WAYNE: Felt really good about that.

MIKE: One bright spot in that hell. What happens next?

WAYNE: The bitch deserved it.

MIKE: Wayne... in slow motion, what happens next? In slow motion, what happens?

WAYNE: (sigh)

MIKE: What happens?

WAYNE: He fell.

MIKE: Who fell?

WAYNE: He did. The C.O.

MIKE: When you hit him?

WAYNE: And I did. We fell.

MIKE: Then what?

WAYNE: Blacked out.

MIKE: No, look and see. Part of you knows. There is a part of you, the same part of you that knew that you were gonna get it; that somebody was gonna get hurt that day. You know what I mean? Part of you knows.

WAYNE: I don't... I don't remember.

MIKE: What's the next thing you're aware of? Stay with it. Stay with it, Wayne, you're doing fine.

WAYNE: There's a lot of white. I don't know. I don't know. I'm not by myself... I guess it's a hospital.

MIKE: You blacked out on the hill. They got you into the chopper...

WAYNE: No, blacked out in the helicopter.

MIKE: In the helicopter? Okay... you got up into the helicopter, that's where you hit him.

WAYNE: Oh yeah. Clobbered him inside. Shoulda thrown him out.

MIKE: Okay. I thought you were outside.

WAYNE: No. He was too much of a coward.

MIKE: Too scared to get out? Alright. So you did get back to the hospital, then. You're in the hospital? (Wayne starts) What is it ?

WAYNE: Oh God!

MIKE: What's happening, Wayne?

WAYNE: Don't want to talk about this.

MIKE: You've gotta talk about it, man. It's been killing you for years. It's been eating at you all these years. Hasn’t it?

WAYNE: Oh yeah.

MIKE: Talk about it.

WAYNE: Well, they got me back in the hospital. Somehow. I don't remember. (sigh) They told me when I woke up that I was there for three weeks.

MIKE: You were out for three weeks? Blacked out?

WAYNE: Yeah. I don't remember. I don't remember what happened to me.

MIKE: In that three weeks? Blank?

WAYNE: Total.

MIKE: Yeah. Wayne, you woke up in a hospital bed. They told you that you've been out for three weeks.

WAYNE: Yeah.

MIKE: And you remember nothing? What about the guys on the road. No dreams? Nothing in those three weeks?

WAYNE: Oh yeah. Something. Like I can't leave those guys behind; splattered all over the road.

MIKE: Yeah. That's right. Did you bring them with you? Did you bring Jim with you, Wayne? Try to remember.

WAYNE: Yeah. They're all here.

MIKE: Who's there?

WAYNE: All of them.

MIKE: Jim?

WAYNE: Yeah.

MIKE: They all got killed, didn't they?

WAYNE: Yeah. How can they be here?

MIKE: How can they be here? You brought them with you.

WAYNE: They're dead.

MIKE: That's right. Do you know there is a body and there is also a spirit? That they can be separate? Did you ever think much about that, Wayne?

WAYNE: I used to pray a lot.

MIKE: Yeah... you know what I'm talking about.

WAYNE: I didn't think anybody was listening.

MIKE: Guess what? There was somebody listening. There always is. A lot of what they said about that is true. And about your spirit leaving your body when you die; all of that is true, you know. Ever read the Bible?

WAYNE: On, yeah. Lots of times.

MIKE: Remember Jesus' healings? He cast out the spirits?

WAYNE: Yeah. (Wayne sits by the easy chair that Loni’s in)

MIKE: The spirit can join another person. Maybe your buddies came with you that way. Is that right? Look and see. I don't want to suggest it to you if it's not real, Wayne. Look inside... Are they there?

(Wayne closes his eyes. Then quickly says, his eyes still closed:)

WAYNE: I can't leave them there.

MIKE: Can't leave them on the road? No.

WAYNE: No.

MIKE: How many are there?

WAYNE: Five?

JIM: (voice only, as if from Wayne) There's four... four of us.

(Both Loni and Wayne's eyes open, surprised, and begin to follow the subsequent action)

WAYNE: Four of us?

MIKE: It's okay. You're doing just fine. You're doing just fine. Let it all come through. There are four of you inside Wayne? Is that right? Who's speaking? Who said "four of us"?

WAYNE: I don't know.

MIKE: Wayne, who all's inside? Look and see. Can you name them all? Name them.

WAYNE: ...Ted. There was a guy named Ted. An ...

MIKE: How about your point man?

WAYNE: Jim.

MIKE: Is he there?

WAYNE: Oh, yeah.

MIKE: Right. Who else?

WAYNE: Jeff. I see Jeff and... Sam? Is that you, Sam?

MIKE: Jim? I'd like to talk to Jim. Jim?

JIM: (appearing as if from Wayne's head) Yeah?

MIKE: You were point man that day, weren't you?

JIM: (with his own distinct style of casualness) Sure as shit!

MIKE: You know your buddy was tired. Wayne was tired.

(Jim's hand and eyes stay on Wayne, who is sitting quietly, meditatively, eyes open, remembering -- but not looking back at Jim)

JIM: He'd been training all those new guys. He hasn't taken a break at all, you know. He won't take R and R, he's so fuckin' stubborn. There just isn't any time. (turning to Mike) I knew he was tired.

MIKE: You took point for him that day, didn't you?

JIM: I took it. I was younger than him... in better shape.

MIKE: You knew he was afraid that somebody would get hurt?

JIM: We was always afraid; we just didn't talk about it.

MIKE: You knew that, didn't you?

JIM: I knew.

MIKE: You were close to him, weren't you?

JIM: Loved him.

MIKE: Yeah. It's nice to have somebody to love in a place like that.

JIM: Damn right.

MIKE: What happened, Jim? What happened? I got his story, but let me hear what happened to you. You've taken point.

JIM: (turns and walks away from Wayne and Mike) It was pretty awful.

MIKE: Okay.

JIM: Got packed up. Everybody was real tired; it was real hot. We got going down the road; we tried not to walk on a single file. We were like going ...

MIKE: Keep going...

JIM: We knew there might be mines out there, but we figured what the hell? Anything was better than where we were. So, I just fuckin' went down there. We were just truckin’ it down the road. All of a sudden, man, there was a big ol' explosion. I didn't feel anything at first. Everybody else was yelling and I turned around and... It’s just that... I wasn't all there, you know.

MIKE: Yeah.

JIM: And I started screaming. I couldn't help it, then.

MIKE: What was the screaming about?

JIM: Oh God! It hurt!

MIKE: It was starting to hurt?

JIM: Oh, yeah!

MIKE: Where?

JIM: I can't even tell you.

MIKE: Your right side's gone?

JIM: Yeah. You ain't shittin'. That’s when Wayne comes barreling down the hill. He was trying to help everybody; he was everywhere at once. He was... and the road kept blowing up.

MIKE: The other guys...

JIM: He was trying to get to me; he was yelling, "I'll be there in a minute, Jim, I'm coming... I'm coming." But it was too late. I knew I was... I was gone. I was gone.

MIKE: Yeah.

JIM: He couldn't do anything about it.

MIKE: Morphine help? Did the morphine help?

JIM: Oh, yeah. The last thing I saw was his face. He was crying.

MIKE: He drug you up the hill... to the helicopter.

JIM: I was dead; he jest didn't know.

MIKE: Were you watching him: drag you up?

JIM: I could feel him; he wouldn't let me go!

MIKE: He wouldn't, would he? He loved you as much as you loved him. He wouldn't let you go, would he?

JIM: He wouldn't.

MIKE: You weren't in your body anymore, were you?

JIM: Nope.

MIKE: But it didn't hurt, did it?

JIM: No.

MIKE: The hurt was all gone.

JIM: Yeah, it was all gone. I felt sorry for Wayne.

MIKE: Yes. It's sometimes harder on those who live, you know? Did you see him smack the C.O.?

JIM: Yeah. (laughs)

MIKE: You all wanted to do that, didn't you?

JIM: You bet. You should've been out there.

MIKE: Yeah. What happened next? Jim... what happened next?

JIM: Well, I was... what was left of me... hooooo boy!! Layin' on the floor of the heelie... it was really a mess! The C.O. was laying in my blood.

(ALL laugh)

MIKE: Seems funny, doesn't it.

JIM: Really does. Wayne was... he was flat out on the floor. He was out!

MIKE: Yeah, you can see that, can't you?

JIM: On, yeah. The heelie went up and, uh, they landed... it was quite a ways from the base camp... about four clicks. Clicks? Yeah... four clicks.

MIKE: Four clicks from the base camp?

JIM: Yeah.

MIKE: What about the other guys on the road?

JIM: Well, they were... it was pretty ugly, man. They were just smashed everywhere. They were just... they were smashed.

MIKE: What happens to bodies when they're smashed like that? Does anybody pick up the parts, dog tags... anything?

JIM: Man, they'd have to look around tryin' to pick those guys up! They blew 'em everywhere! Nobody... nobody goes after that. Nobody!

MIKE: Okay. So you're still, you're in the 'heelie watching all this happen?

JIM: Oh, yeah. We were jest like up on the ceilin' or... weird.

MIKE: Yeah?

JIM: I don't see me... or I see me. Well, it's not me...

MIKE: The body's there, but you're up on the ceiling.

JIM: ...Yeah!

MIKE: Right. It doesn't make sense right away... it doesn't have to. That's all right.

JIM: No?

MIKE: What happened then?

JIM: It seems kind of funny somehow.

MIKE: Yeah, I know. There's a good part, and it’s that the war's over for you.

JIM: (smiling) Yeah.

MIKE: What happens next?

JIM: It's not over for Wayne.

MIKE: No. No, it isn't.

JIM: In fact, I sort of felt like it had just begun for him somehow.

MIKE: You get back to base camp and what happens?

JIM: Well, the C.O.'s pretty shook up, you know. He's a mess. I ain't never seen so much of a mess before. (laughs)

MIKE: He's been messed up...

JIM: Got his fatigues alllll... dirty. (laughs)

MIKE: Shit.

JIM: Anyway... The C.O. hops out... he's real sick to his stomach and barfin' all over the place. Wayne wakes up... and man, he's hurtin'. They take him to the hospital.

MIKE: But he wakes up and he's hurting?

JIM: Oh, yeah. He's got shrapnel in his hip, right here.

MIKE: Yeah.

JIM: Anyhow... they take what's left of my carcass and... ooooh... it's pretty awful-lookin'. They jest stick you in a bag... you know, a green bag. And they tag it, jest like the laundry. And then, they take Wayne up to the hospital... and I followed him.

MIKE: You followed Wayne?

JIM: I did!

MIKE: Not your body, but Wayne’s?

JIM: Yeah!

MIKE: All right.

JIM: Well, I was afraid, you know? I didn't know what was gonna happen to him.

MIKE: I know.

JIM: I couldn't jest let him think he was... he was... that it was all his fault. It's not his fault.

MIKE: He thinks it is.

JIM: I know.

MIKE: You heard him a few minutes ago, didn't you?

JIM: Oh, yeah. I've been hearin' him right regular for the last ten years.

MIKE: Yeah. Okay. So what happens next? You follow him. You see them put him in a bed or something. What?

JIM: Yeah, well they put him in a bed and then give him an IV...

MIKE: So they can feed him 'cause he's out.

JIM: Yeah. They want to keep him out, 'cause all he was doin' was jest screaming. He's not makin' any sense at all. They tried sendin' a shrink in there, but Wayne won't talk about it. He won't talk about it at all. It's gonna be okay though.

MIKE: You hang around, don't you?

JIM: Oh yeah. You bet.

MIKE: Close to him?

JIM: Right beside 'em.

MIKE: Yeah?

JIM: Right beside him.

MIKE: He wakes up three weeks later.

JIM: Yeah.

MIKE: But you stayed beside him the whole time?

JIM: (somberly and deep in reflection) I never left him.

MIKE: Jim, what's you last name?

JIM: Brown.

MIKE: What's your home town?

JIM: It's, um, over in the...

MIKE: Where are you from, Jim?

JIM: Abilene.

MIKE: What's your birthday, Jim?

JIM: It's... how about that! I was killed on my birthday!

MIKE: No shit. June 7th?

JIM: Yup! June 7th!

MIKE: What year?

JIM: Killed or born?

MIKE: (laughs) Born.

JIM: 1950.

MIKE: What's your serial number, Jim Brown?

JIM: 1 9 5 5 ... 2 8 9 ... 0... I think there's an 0.

MIKE: When did you come into Wayne's body, Jim?

JIM: When he was out. I was afraid he wasn't gonna live.

MIKE: In that three weeks?

JIM: Yeah.

MIKE: You came in then to help him live?

JIM: Yeah. Yeah. I was trying to comfort him because he was all the time saying it was all his fault. And I knew it wasn't his fault. But he wouldn't listen to anybody but me.

MIKE: He was out, wasn't he?

JIM: He was out.

MIKE: For everybody else seeing him, he was out. But when you went inside, could you talk to him?

JIM: Oh, yeah.

MIKE: Isn't that interesting?

JIM: I did talk to him.

MIKE: I believe you.

JIM: And he talked to me, too.

MIKE: He thought it was his fault... all of it.

JIM: All of it.

MIKE: The other guys there too? Ted and Jeff and Sam?

JIM: Yeah.

MIKE: All of you followed him?

JIM: I guess we did. I guess we did.

MIKE: Some teams you can't break up, huh?

JIM: Hell, we were together a long time, you know? We went through a lot! Except maybe for Jeff... he was pretty much still wet behind the ears.

(Jim moves to Wayne, where they momentarily grab each other's hand in a show of solidarity.)

MIKE: Yeah.

JIM: From the beginning. We were always together. Jest together.

MIKE: Ted, are you here?

TED: (appearing, as if from Wayne) Yeah.

MIKE: What's your last name, Ted?

TED: Loos.

MIKE: How do you spell it?

TED: L, 0, 0, S.

MIKE: What's your home town?

TED: I'm from Oregon.

MIKE: What city? Or town?

TED: Ashley.

MIKE: Ashley, Oregon. Pretty cape, pretty place.

TED: Beautiful.

MIKE: You ever climb on Shasta?

TED: Well, it's south, you know. Shasta's in California.

MIKE: Not much though. Not far. Pretty place, Ashley, real pretty. What's your serial number, Ted Loos?

TED: The fishing was great!

MIKE: What's your serial number?

TED: 1 9 2... 0 4 ... 5 ... 7...

MIKE: Say it from the top again. 1 9 ... spit it right out!

TED: 1 9 4... 1 9 4 5 ... 8... 2... 9 7? I can't remember.

MIKE: You gave me a different number first.

TED: I'm sure. (laughs)

JIM: Can't keep that shit straight?

MIKE: Right. They get all mixed up, don't they.

TED: Yes.

MIKE: How about Jeff... what's your last name, Jeff?

JEFF: (appearing as if out of Wayne's head) Jeffreys. (laughs)

MIKE: Jeff Jeffreys?

JEFF: I know. My father thought it was a joke, too.

MIKE: What was his name?

JEFF: His name?

MIKE: Somebody play a joke on him, too?

JEFF: No. He thought my mother was... well... see he had this thing with my mother. (laughs) They couldn't make up their minds on what the hell to call me. So my father said, "Well if you can't make up your mind, I'll make it up for you. And I'll make it real simple so you won't forget.

MIKE: That simple? Nobody'd ever forget that one. Tell me, Jeff, what's your home town?

JEFF: Ohio? Ohio. I live in Ohio... in this little old tiny place.

MIKE: What... the town in Ohio?

JEFF: Bell... Bellvue? Bellvue! I don't know. Something like that.

MIKE: Okay. Sam?

SAM: (not seen, his voice appearing to come from Wayne) Hmmmmm?

MIKE: You've been listening to all this?

SAM: I've been listen'

MIKE: Where you from, Sam?

SAM: (heavy accent) Alabama.

MIKE: You the token black in this group?

SAM: (popping up from behind Wayne) How'd you guess?

MIKE: I coulda hear your voice.

SAM: (laughs)

MIKE: Sammy, what's your serial number?

SAM: 1 9 2 5 4 3 2 1.

(Sam and Jeff slap hands at Sam's apparent ability to remember his serial number and spit it out.)

MIKE: What's your rank, Sam?

SAM: Um, corporal.

MIKE: What's your last name, Sam?

SAM: Love. (laughs)

MIKE: Well, isn't that a laugh? Sam Love. How old are you, son?

SAM: (laughs) I'm 25.

MIKE: What are you doing still in Vietnam? You're 25 years old. You could come home, couldn't you?

SAM: I coulda.

MIKE: Black boys made a lot of heroes in Vietnam.

SAM: Wasn't nothing to go home to.

MIKE: I understand that. You all followed Wayne, didn't you?

SAM: He's a good man. For being white, anyway.

MIKE: He treat you all right?

SAM: Always.

MIKE: Do you know what year it is, Wayne? Sam? Jeff? Ted?

TED: It's 1969

MIKE: That's the day it happened, isn't it?

JIM: That's it.

MIKE: How'd you get back to the States, you guys? You come back with Wayne? Wayne... you describe it. From now on, it's up to you. Describe it. Because you were still in your body when you left the hospital, right?

WAYNE: Oh yeah.

MIKE: You woke up after three weeks.

WAYNE: Yeah.

MIKE: You brought the whole company with you, man.

ALL: (laughs)

MIKE: Ain't that a surprise?

WAYNE: Sure is.

MIKE: Did you hear what Jim said?

WAYNE: Yeah, I heard it. I heard all of it.

MIKE: He talked to you after you were in the hospital. He came inside and talked to you.

WAYNE. I know. Now... I know.

MIKE: He tried to convince you it wasn't your fault, huh?

WAYNE: He's just a baby; what does he know? He’s only 19.

MIKE: He knew you were tired; you hadn't taken R and R or anything.

W&YNE: Yeah. He's a real sensitive kid.

MIKE: Yeah. He doesn't blame you, Wayne.

WAYNE: I know.

MIKE: But you blame yourself, don't you?

WAYNE: (sigh) Well I did; I do... yeah.

MIKE: Yeah, you do... I know you do.

WAYNE: Yeah... I do.

MIKE: That's the truth, sure as hell. What happened after you got out of the hospital?

WAYNE: They sent me to Panama.

MIKE: To Panama?

WAYNE: Yes.

MIKE: What the hell for?

WAYNE: God-forsaken place.

MIKE: Yeah, sure is... the asshole of the world.

WAYNE: Those people don't know what they're doing, that's all. Sent me to Panama. They were training recruits in Panama.

MIKE: Well, it's the same climate, huh?

WAYNE: Yeah. Well, that was it, you know. They thought by sending the kids down there, they'd be able to cope with a hot, humid, shitty country.

MIKE: What were you doing? What was your job there?

WAYNE: I was... training recruits? Yeah... I was training recruits.

MIKE: What were you training them in, medic?

WAYNE: I was training them how to be a Green Beret.

MIKE: No longer medic stuff, but Green Beret stuff, huh?

WAYNE: Oh shit! That's what I was always... a Green Beret. But I was a Green Beret medic. I was supposed to be the Florence Nightingale of the bunch.

(Wayne and Loni each stretch their neck as if it's cramped.)

MIKE: Didn't look like Florence, did you? What happened to your neck? What happened to your neck, Wayne? You got it in the neck, didn't you?

WAYNE: I got it in the head. I did get it in the head.

MIKE: Yeah? How?

WAYNE: And it screwed up my eyesight.

MIKE: Yeah?

WAYNE: That's how come I could never be a doctor.

MIKE: You got it in the hip and the head at the same time?

WAYNE. I did. Sure as hell.

MIKE: And you wanted to be a doctor?

WAYNE: I forgot all about that head wound. I did. (laughs) I really forgot about it.

(Loni starts laughing, as she remembers something of her own.)

MIKE: How long were you in Panama training recruits?

WAYNE: The Loni part of me is just about cracking up.

(They both laugh, Wayne not quite sure of about what... then it hits him.)

LONI: Oh, I don't believe it! I do believe it!

MIKE: (still talking to Wayne) Yeah, you're damn straight you believe it.

LONI: Oh, I've got goose bumps all over! I forgot about that head wound he had. I forgot all about that!

MIKE: (to Wayne) He had?

LONI: Wayne had a head wound, too.

MIKE: (looking around) What do you mean you forgot about it? Who's talking?

LONI: It's me.

MIKE: (looking at Loni) Yeah?

LONI: Yeah.

MIKE: Because I can't tell who "me" is with this crew. You gotta give me a name.

LONI: I'm sorry. It's Loni again, the entity of Loni.

MIKE: How did you know he had a head wound?

LONI: Because I was his nurse... amongst other things.

MIKE: Oh! Now you know who this guy is?

LONI: Oh, yeah!

MIKE: Well shit!

LONI: (laughs)

MIKE: Now it starts to make sense.

WAYNE: It all makes sense.

MIKE: Let her finish the story, and let's see what happens.

LONI: Oh! Okay... well... I don't know if I can... I'm really excited!

MIKE: It makes sense.

LONI: That there's a connec... there really is a connection!

MIKE: Really?

LONI: Oh, yeah!

MIKE: It wasn't logical at first, was it?

LONI: No. God, I'm getting rushes all over! (laughs)

MIKE: Isn't this fun, Loni. (laughs)

LONI: I don't believe it! Yes! Yes, I do!

MIKE: Yes, you do. You believe.

LONI: Oh, my God! Oh, thanks! Oh, far out!

(The MEN laugh as well.)

WAYNE: I'm gonna blow her nose.

(Loni blows her nose into Wayne’s waiting handkerchief. More laughter)

LONI: Free at last! Oh, gosh!

MIKE: Ted, what do you think of this gift?

TED: Hot ... she's hot!

MIKE: She is! Take care of all you guys that way?

(All the MEN laugh.)

LONI: Oh, man! I don't believe it. I do believe it. I don't understand it, but I accept it. (sigh) Oh, shit! Oh, gee, oh, wow! This is Loni speaking. (laughs) All you guys!

MIKE: Did he tell you about the other guys?

LONI: Am I going nuts?

MIKE: No.

LONI: Then how come I see him grinning at me?

MIKE: Well, you finally caught on. Let's hear from Wayne again. Wayne, how about that? She finally caught the story. You knew all the time, didn't you, Wayne?

WAYNE: Yeah, I knew. But I knew I was asking an awful lot of her.

MIKE: Well...

WAYNE: I do that, I guess... of people.

MIKE: You've given enough, you gave enough of yourself, Wayne. You gave enough of yourself, just ask the guys. Ask Ted. Ask Sam. Ask your black buddy. They've got nothing but good to say about you.

WAYNE: What does Sam know. He's ignorant. (laughs)

MIKE: That's what you say. We could all listen to that guy and learn something.

WAYNE: He's the old man of the bunch. Addled and old...

MIKE: So what happened next, Wayne. What happened to you?

WAYNE: I was in Panama.

MIKE: Yeah.

WAYNE: And given this bunch of guys to train. My C.O. told me to go down a trail with these guys. There were five of us.

MIKE: In Panama?

WAYNE: Panama.

MIKE: Remind you of something?

WAYNE: Well, I didn't think about it when he first told me what to do. It was just an exercise; there wasn't any real danger. There was gunfire all over the place, but it was just an exercise; we were just gonna play war games. He told me to take these guys down this trail. Then I saw this trail and there it was going downhill and curving to the left, and there was a hill on that side and there was... it was just, all of a sudden, too fuckin' much! It was just like I faded out and was right back... I was right back there where I was before, taking my buddy down that trail... and so I refused the order. And the stupid little son-of-a-bitch started yelling at me. (laughs) So I hauled off and hit him!

MIKE: Just like the other time. The whole thing repeated. The whole thing blew...

WAYNE: Only this time I didn't black out. And they took me away.

MIKE: A flashback. Lots of guys have flashbacks. They blow up and kill people. They beat on people. But it's just a flashback. So they took you away.

WAYNE: They took me away.

MIKE: Where to?

WAYNE: Well, they put me in that hospital ward.

MIKE: Yeah.

WAYNE: But the people who were taking care of us were crazier than the people who were there. They were nuts. So we learned to play the silly games we had to play in order to get the drugs that we had to have to make us forget where we were.

MIKE: Shit.

WAYNE: We were all like a fist: We moved together, we slept together, we ate together; there wasn't no privacy. There was rats in the place ...

MIKE: Was this Panama?

WAYNE: We wondered what the fuck we did wrong. (laughs) Because I spent three or four tours of duty there. it was a pajama game, a black pajama game, and we wondered how come they had stuck us in this hole after we tried to do what they ordered us to do. None of us could figure it out. Some tried an escape; we planned an escape, but it didn't work. So they told me I had to! They were gonna bust me out of the service, me... and I'm a Green Beret!

MIKE: You're proud of that, aren't you?

WAYNE: I'm a Green Beret. A Green Beret medic. And I didn't want to kill anybody. (sigh)

MIKE: What happened?

WAYNE: Well, I couldn't John Wayne it anymore, and so they put me in a plane and sent me home.

MIKE: Where's home, Wayne?

WAYNE: Oregon. Roseburg, Oregon.

MIKE: It's all right. What happened next?

WAYNE: Well, it wasn't much of a homecoming. As I got off the plane, I went into a bar and some fucker called me a baby killer.

MIKE: Wrong thing to say.

WAYNE: So I hit him.

MIKE: Yep.

WAYNE: I hit him. And I cried. Then I left and went home. It was Christmas.

MIKE: What year?

WAYNE: 1972. End of 1972. (sigh)

MIKE: What happened next, Wayne?

WAYNE: My parents couldn't understand what happened to me. They had these pictures all over the place. Me in my uniform. My dad was a career man in the Army. I guess I wasn't much of a hero after all.

MIKE: And he couldn't understand Vietnam and he was a career Army?

WAYNE: Well, he'd retired...

MIKE: Before that.

WAYNE: He was an old man with emphysema by that time. He was mostly struggling just to get one breath, one after another. My mother was an alcoholic; she'd been one for years. So I couldn't stay there. And I took up with this chick. She was pretty heavy into drugs.

MIKE: What was her name?

WAYNE: I had a heroin habit by the time I got home. they tried to clean me out.

MIKE: What's the girl's name?

WAYNE: Um, Leslie?

MIKE: They tried to clean you out. Didn't do any good?

WAYNE: Nope. Went right back to it. Well, periodically. Then I'd wind back up in the Vet hospital in Roseburg. Did five tours of duty there. I guess I got real ridiculous after a while. I'd get real depressed; real, real depressed.

MIKE: Tired?

WAYNE: Real tired. Real depressed. Real bad.

MIKE: And?

WAYNE: Then I'd try to take some speed to get back up. When I was in-country, I was taking a hell of a lot of whites; everybody did, everybody. We took speed to get up and we took downers to get down. Most everybody I knew was doing the same, just so they could handle it. Finally, one day, I was just driving down the road and a helicopter flew over the top of my car. All of a sudden I had to hit the bush. I stopped the car and ran. I was hiding under a bunch of bushes, waiting for the helicopter to go over... thinking the VC were gonna open up on me -- and I was in a public park. I knew I was in trouble.

MIKE: You knew it right then, didn't you?

WAYNE: Oh, yeah. So, my dad took me to the... back to the hospital and I stayed there for a while. I was having mood swings, real weird mood swings. I'd be up and then I'd be way down. Up, down; they'd lengthen out and then come back. They said I was a manic depressive... manic depressive psychosis. That's what they said. (sigh) I don't know. (sigh) I just couldn't stop those dreams I was having.

MIKE: What dreams?

WAYNE: I'd relive it, over and over again.

MIKE: Going down the hill?

WAYNE: Going down the trail, seeing them all blowing up, trying to save Jim, hitting the officer, blanking out, and then it would be like starting over again... over and over and over again. Just wouldn't stop... I used to wake up screaming. Leslie got scared of me. One time she came up to me and I was asleep in the bed. Out of nowhere I jumped up out of the bed and hit her... I was afraid she was gonna kill me. She left. (sigh) The Great American Hero.

MIKE: Ruined a lot of people's lives, Wayne.

WAYNE: Well, I wasn't no baby killer.

MIKE: No.

WAYNE: I did everything I could to help those kids.

MIKE: Nobody else could understand that. All they got was the news reports.

WAYNE: Yeah.

MIKE: But there were no news reports on the dreams our guys were having. I've had other vets tell me about dreams where they get killed. The same dream over and over, and always they get killed.

WAYNE: Yeah.

MIKE: But what they were dreaming was their buddy's death, a buddy who come back with them, just like Jim, and Jeff, and Ted.

WAYNE: The poor bastards. And all we ever heard was "baby killer!"

MIKE: They didn't know what it was like, Wayne.

WAYNE: Damn right! I can't blame anyone who spent time in that hell hole.

MIKE: So what happened to you next?

WAYNE: Well, they put me in therapy for us to talk. A bunch of guys used to talk... say a bunch of stuff and people’d cry and the shrink, head honcho... what was his name? Well, he tried real hard to help us, he really did. But we just sort of felt like we were doing time, just doing time.

MIKE: Who's us, Wayne?

WAYNE: Oh, all of us. The guys, the vets, the brothers that were in there. All of us.

MIKE: Still living in their bodies.

WAYNE: Still. Oh yeah, yeah!

MIKE: But this also means the guys inside you.

WAYNE: Oh yeah. (laughs) They... oh yeah. (sobs)

MIKE: The shrink didn't know about them, did he?

WAYNE: No. Oh, no.

MIKE : Of course not.

WAYNE: You could tell him there was some dead buddy inside, one guy did. But the psych doc couldn't handle it. Went right over his head. It was too crazy, just too damn crazy.

MIKE: But it's not so crazy, is it?

WAYNE: No.

MIKE: These ups and downs... now you... maybe understand... just a little.

 

Scene 2


 

               

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