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Deer Hunter, The (1978) movie script

by Deric Washburn.

More info about this movie on IMDb.com
EXT. PENNSYLVANIA STEEL MILL - LIGHT SNOW - DAY

The plant is massive, grime-streaked, squatting in the valley
under five massive stacks, each one trailing a black ribbon
across the winter sky. Fires can be seen flickering through
the windows and long flames weave and dance from the tops of
guyed metal flues. Steam rises in clouds from vents and
chimneys and the sound of it all -- the hissing, the
clanging, the rumbling, the shrieking -- comes faintly, muted
by the falling snow.

In the foreground is a street -- COLUMBINE STREET -- which
inhabits the bottom of a narrow ravine and plunges directly
down the hillside, straight at the mill. Columbine is a sad
looking street, a grim-looking street, a street hanging on by
the skin of its teeth. Dilapidated stores hug the narrow
sidewalks. Battered signs squeak in the wind. Sandwiched
between the stores and scattered on twisting roads along the
hillside are narrow Victorian houses. These houses, which run
to three stories or more in height, all seem on the verge of
toppling over, and undoubtedly would, except that they are
all connected one to another by a mad arrangement of utility
lines which cross and re-cross between them with occasional
aid from a leaning pole.

MUSIC COMES UP -- dissonant, rather frightening music -- as
we watch a car come charging up through the slush on
Columbine Street. As it nears CAMERA the car falters on the
slippery grade and slides out of sight. A figure appears,
huddled against the driving snow. The figure disappears AS
CAMERA HOLDS ON THE STEEL MILL AT THE END OF THE EMPTY
STREET.

MAIN TITLE COMES UP:

		  THE DEER HUNTER

INT. STEEL MILL - DAY

A white-hot ingot shoots out of an ejecting mechanism and
comes ripping down a track. Another ingot follows it, and
another and another and another. The ingots are huge,
trembling with heat, and they come on with a terrifying
rumble.

CREDITS ROLL

UNDER CREDITS we see STEELWORKERS catching the ingots with
tongs and deftly swinging them into troughs. The STEELWORKERS
wear leather aprons and are stripped to the waist. Warped in
heat waves and glistening with sweat they seem like figures
in some hellish ballet. Since they all wear goggles it is
hard to distinguish between them, but there are three, who
are young, who seem to work with particular grace. These are
NICK, SAL and MERLE.

CREDITS END. CAMERA CLOSES ON NICK, SAL AND MERLE. The noise
is deafening, the heat is unbelievable and the ingots come on
with murderous speed. Taking advantage of a slight pause
MERLE jabs NICK and they both make cuckold's horns at SAL.
SAL blushes and waves them off with his hand. MERLE and NICK
make the horns again and now SAL puts both hands on his hips,
gives a thin smile and studies the corner of the shed. MERLE
and NICK begin laughing. SAL can't hold out and he starts
laughing too, but now the ingots begin roaring down the track
again and they all grab their tongs.

INT. GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH - ALTAR - DAY

A very old PRIEST is making preparations for a wedding
ceremony. SAL'S MOTHER hovers around him as he unlocks a
cabinet and takes out white tapers and a golden crown which
will be used in the service. The PRIEST moves with agonizing
slowness and SAL's MOTHER is in the midst of a bad case of
nerves.

		SAL'S MOTHER
	It's all ready? Everything's ready?

		PRIEST
	Yes.

		SAL'S MOTHER
	Are you sure everything's ready?
	Are you positive?

		PRIEST
	Everything. Yes.

		SAL'S MOTHER
	It would snow... Everything's going
	to slip. Everything's going to
	slide... All the cars are going to
	crash!

SAL'S MOTHER puts her hand to her mouth and bursts into
tears.

		SAL'S MOTHER (CONT'D)
	I can't believe this... My own
	little boy... with a stranger!

The PRIEST smiles. He takes SAL'S MOTHER in his arms and
comforts her.

EXT. COLUMBINE STREET - DAY

Another car lunges up the hill, gets about halfway and slides
back. As the car disappears, the door to one of the houses
bursts open and a group of giggling BRIDESMAIDS begin
scampering across the street. They have all been working on
their dresses, which are not completely finished, and they
all carry ribbons and scissors and pieces of material. As
they make their way to the other side of the street they all
wave away the snowflakes and grab each other for support. One
of the BRIDESMAIDS loses her dress entirely and with everyone
laughing she rushes back to retrieve it in her slip. When the
garment is repossessed a door comes open and the BRIDESMAIDS
disappear inside.

CAMERA HOLDS ON COLUMBINE STREET. The snow slants across the
little stores and piles on the gables of the tipsy little
houses. Another car appears, lunges at the hill and slides
back. Suddenly the door to the bakery comes open and a group
of OLDER WOMEN emerge carrying a huge wedding cake with a
miniature bride and groom standing on the top. The WOMEN are
all in their fifties and bundled in boots and dark overcoats.
They begin moving slowly up the street, in the driving snow,
with the great white cake held firmly between them.

INT. STEEL MILL - ENTRY AREA - DAY

The time clocks are lined against both walls. As a whistle
screams to mark the end of the shift thousands of men begin
checking out. NICK, SAL and MERLE are right up in the front
ranks and once they have clocked their cards they gather
together along the wall.

		NICK
	Where's Vince?

		SAL
	There's Albert!
		(calls)
	Hey, Albert!!!

ALBERT -- six and a half feet tall and built like an ox --
changes course and plows across the river of homeward-bound
STEELWORKERS.

		ALBERT
	How you feelin', Sal?

		SAL
	I feel okay.

		ALBERT
	Feeling hot?

		NICK
		(arm around SAL)
	Humper's ready. Old humper's
	hotter'n damn hell!

		MERLE
	There's Vince!

		OTHERS
		(calling)
	Vince!... Over here! Vince!

		MERLE
	Get him, Albert. Get Vince!

		ALBERT
	I'll get him.

ALBERT wades back into the stream of STEELWORKERS, grabs
VINCE and they all push out together.

EXT. STEEL MILL - PARKING LOT - DAY

The snow is still falling. It covers the ground. It covers
the acres of parked cars. It swirls and tosses and blows. As
the five friends come bursting out of a side exit they all
stop dead in their tracks.

		VINCE
	Snow... Holy shit, snow!

SAL gives a look at the others. Something is going on. VINCE
is so excited he begins hopping around.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
	 ... Do you know what this means?
	Do you guys realize exactly what
	this means?

They all know. They all know damn well. MERLE and NICK
exchange looks. ALBERT chortles.

		SAL
	What are you guys...? Are you guys
	going hunting?

The others nod, shrug, shuffle their feet. They are all a
little embarrassed.

		SAL (CONT'D)
	Not tonight?... You're not driving
	up tonight?

		NICK
	As soon as you're hitched, Sal.
	First we get you hitched.

		SAL
		(envious)
	You guys are crazy. You know that?
	I mean you guys are really nuts.

		VINCE
	He's getting married... and we're
	nuts!

		NICK
		(puts his arm around SAL)
	It's all right. Hey, it's all
	right. We'll be right here, right
	with you.

A look at the others...

		NICK (CONT'D)
	Won't we? Right? Am I right?

		MERLE
	Right.

		ALBERT
	Damn right!

		VINCE
	What do you think, Sal? Jesus, you
	think we'd miss this?

Now SAL is embarrassed. He makes a gesture with his hand.

		NICK
		(with a laugh)
	C'mon. C'mon you guys!

They all start into the swirling snow. NICK with an arm
around SAL.

		VINCE
	And we want you to know, Sal, that
	any help you might need--

		ALBERT
	Yeah, Sal--

		MERLE
	Willing fingers--

		ALBERT
	Extra feet!

INT. V.F.W. POST - DAY

The place is large and drafty and rundown. A huge American
flag hangs from the middle of the ceiling. Under it WOMEN are
laying white table cloths on trestle tables. Off to one side
a half dozen OLD MEN wearing VFW hats are Scotch-taping paper
ribbons to the brick wall. Two OLD MEN are on stepladders,
two more are bracing the ladders and the operation is under
the direction of a pair of World War I VETS standing side by
side. Their hands tremble. Their four eyes loom huge behind
corrective lenses.

		VET 1
	Up I would say... What would you
	say?

		VET 2
	Up.

		VET 1
		(signals)
	Up ribbon!

One end of the ribbon is moved up. The two VETS study it.

		VET 2
	Down I would say... What would you
	say?

		VET 1
	Down.

		VET 2
		(signals)
	Down ribbon!

Suddenly there is a commotion. The WOMEN who are setting up
the tables all rush to the door as the OLDER WOMEN come in
with the wedding cake. The OLDER WOMEN look half-frozen and
as they move toward a table the cake receives a great chorus
of Uhh's and Ahh's. Suddenly one of the OLDER WOMEN
collapses. Friends rush to her aid, seat her in a chair and
give her wine. The WOMAN takes the glass, tosses it off in
one swallow and grins. EVERYONE laughs.

EXT. COLUMBINE STREET - BOTTOM OF HILL - DAY

A big, battered old shark-finned black Cadillac approaches,
coming fast.

INT. CADILLAC - DAY

NICK, SAL, MERLE, VINCE and ALBERT are all laughing. NICK is
at the wheel.

		VINCE
	Hit it, Nick!

		OTHERS
	Go Nick! Hit it, baby!!!

EXT. COLUMBINE STREET - DAY

The car bangs over potholes and slams into the grade. We
watch as it reaches the half-way point, then the three
quarter mark...

INT. CADILLAC - DAY

NICK bends forward over the wheel, peering out through the
slapping wipers.

		GUYS IN THE CAR
		(chanting)
	Do it, Nick! Do it! Go Nick, Go! Do
	it! Do it, Nick! Go!

The car fishtails, loses speed... to a creep.

		NICK
	Back! All hands to the rear!

ALBERT and MERLE, who are sitting in front, immediately throw
themselves into the back seat on top of SAL and VINCE.

		GUYS IN BACK SEAT
	Easy... 'At's it, easy! Easy,
	Nick... Easy!

EXT. COLUMBINE STREET - TOP OF HILL - DAY

The Cadillac inches up the last ten feet, gains level ground
and skids to a stop. From inside comes a MUTED CHEER.

INT. BRIDE'S HOUSE - BEDROOM - DAY

ANGELA is dressed in her white bridal gown and veil. She is
plump, pretty, with a solemn, round face and big brown eyes.
ANGELA leans forward into a mirror.

		ANGELA
		(sincerely)
	I do.

A pause. ANGELA scowls and tries it again.

		ANGELA (CONT'D)
		(heartfelt)
	I do.

ANGELA tries it a few more times. It sounds worse and worse.

		ANGELA (CONT'D)
	I do, I do, I do!!!

ANGELA stares at herself. Now she looks desperate and
unrelievedly forlorn. Bursting into tears she throws herself
on the bed. Someone has slipped a photograph under the
pillow. The photograph is face down and as ANGELA pulls it
out she sees that something is written on the back:

		ANGELA (CONT'D)
		(reading, slow)
	"This is it -- more or less...
	Love, Mom."

ANGELA frowns, turns the photograph over. It is a picture of
Michaelangelo's "David". ANGELA stares at the figure for a
long, long moment...

		ANGELA (CONT'D)
	Oh, wow.

INT. JOHN'S BAR - DAY

The place is packed with boisterous STEELWORKERS drinking
boilermakers. Deerheads are mounted in a long row over the
bar, and hand-painted murals decorate the walls. The murals
depict hunting scenes and display an eerie tone -- at once
comical and frightening -- as if the animals held some secret
from the hunters, some power beyond their own.

JOHN bangs out from behind the bar with a tray of beer. At
the same moment SAL comes in with NICK, MERLE, ALBERT and
VINCE. JOHN, who is a great bear of a youth, puts down his
tray, wraps his arms around SAL and begins jumping him around
the floor, grinning ear to ear. The STEELWORKERS turn, desert
their places and swarm around SAL, joking and shouting
congratulations.

INT. LINDA'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY

LINDA is thin -- a skinny slip of a thing with a hauntingly
lovely face. Wearing her bridesmaid's dress she stands alone
in the kitchen, staring at the ceiling. Thumping noises are
coming from the room above. The thumping gets louder.
There is a crash, then another crash, as if furniture were
being thrown around. A MAN'S VOICE begins cursing and there
is more thumping and crashing. Suddenly there is a thud...
and then silence.

LINDA bites her lip. She crosses to the stove, ladles stew
into a bowl, butters bread, pours a cup of tea and puts it
all on a tray.

INT. LINDA'S HOUSE - FATHER'S BEDROOM - DAY

The room is a wreck of broken furniture. Chairs are turned
over, lamps are smashed and the pictures hang cockeyed on the
wall. In the middle of the room, face down on the floor, is
LINDA'S FATHER. His coat is torn, one shoe is missing and he
holds a half-empty bottle in his hand. Behind him, through
the open window, snow is blowing in.

LINDA comes in with the tray. She stands for a moment
expressionless, looking down at her father. Then she sets the
tray on the bureau and kneels beside him.

		LINDA
	Daddy?

		FATHER
		(mumbles)
	Go... fucking hell!

LINDA reaches down, takes her FATHER by the shoulder and
rolls him over. It takes some effort and the face that comes
up is gray, unshaven and implacably bitter. Saliva dribbles
from his mouth, there is a cut with the stitches still in it
seaming his forehead and as LINDA looks at him he begins
cursing again.

		FATHER (CONT'D)
	Fucking shit... all around, like a
	sea! Like an ocean!

LINDA gets up and closes the window. She comes back, gets
down on the floor beside her father and pushes him toward the
bed. Then, hiking up her bridesmaid's dress, she takes him by
the shoulders again and heaves him onto the coverlet. The
effort is almost too much for her. Tears begin to burn in her
eyes, but when he slips back she tries again. The father
groans, begins to mumble, and then, when she almost has him
on the bed, he suddenly lifts his hand, catches her full in
the face and pushes her violently across the room.

LINDA crashes backwards over a fallen chair and smashes into
the wall. As she gets to her feet her father advances on her.

		FATHER (CONT'D)
	Fucking bitch... All bitches!

He swings, catches her in the face again, hard.

		LINDA
	Daddy...! Daddy, it's me!

		FATHER
	Hate 'em. Fucking bitches!

LINDA'S FATHER swings at her again, loses his balance and
falls on the floor. LINDA stands looking at him, holding her
jaw. She is crying. Tears are streaming down her face.

EXT. COLUMBINE STREET - TOP OF HILL - DAY

Seven MUSICIANS, carrying their instruments, file silently
through the falling snow.

EXT. ALLEY BEHIND JOHN'S BAR - DAY

The WOMEN are all gathered, some fifteen or twenty, ranging
from grandmothers to young wives. About half of them wield
rolling pins or heavy pans. As the last reinforcements arrive
-- TWO HEFTY LADIES WITH TRUNCHEONS -- a roar of laughter
comes from inside.

INT. JOHN'S BAR - DAY

NICK, SAL, MERLE, VINCE, ALBERT and JOHN are dancing. The
MUSIC is at top volume and the smoke is thick enough to cut
with a knife. Suddenly, from the back, comes a CHORUS OF
SCREECHES AND FEMALE RECRIMINATIONS. The door to the alley
bursts open and the HEFTY LADIES WITH TRUNCHEONS appear. The
STEELWORKERS take one look, gulp their drinks, grab their
heads in their hands and rush for the front door.

EXT. JOHN'S BAR - FRONT ENTRANCE - DAY

The STEELWORKERS stream into the snow with the WOMEN close
behind. Several blows are delivered and the howls of
complaint are met with angry commands to hurry and get
dressed for Sal's wedding.

CAMERA CLOSES ON SAL, who emerges with NICK and MERLE. The
snow hits him a sobering blow and he comes to a stop.

		SAL
	Boy, this is it. This is really
	it... I mean... here I go.

SAL'S MOTHER hurries out of the alley. She is crying.

		SAL'S MOTHER
	My beautiful boy! My angel... who
	is leaving his own mother.

She throws herself in SAL's arms, sobbing.

		SAL
	Momma...

		SAL'S MOTHER
	So cold is your heart to leave your
	own mother?

		SAL
	Momma, I'll be right upstairs.

SAL throws a look to NICK and MERLE. They gesture with
sympathy and study the snow flakes.

		SAL'S MOTHER
	So cruel is your heart? Is your
	heart so uncaring?

		SAL
		(a litany now)
	One flight, Momma. It's one flight.

				DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. NICK'S TRAILER - DAY

The trailer is a dented two-tone pink and cream job which
looks as if it had been purchased third-hand off a
construction site. It stands on cinder blocks in a small lot
which has been cut out of the side of the hill. A wrecked
school bus decorates it to the right. On the left is a bare
branched tree. NICK's black Cadillac is parked in front and a
light shows from inside the trailer.

CAMERA PICKS UP MERLE who is strolling toward the trailer
whistling through his teeth. He is wearing his tuxedo and
carries a knapsack and a deer rifle. He mounts the cinder
block steps and pounds on the trailer door. NICK opens the
door and waves him in.

INT. NICK'S TRAILER - DAY

The place is cramped, littered with camping paraphernalia. A
deer head is mounted above the sink and NICK, who is half
into his tuxedo, is applying waterproofing to a pair of heavy
boots. MERLE smiles, throws his kit on the stove and sits.

		MERLE
		(indicates the
		 waterproofing)
	You should have put that on last
	night.

		NICK
	I know.

		MERLE
	That way it sets.

		NICK
	Yeah.

Pause.

		MERLE
	I just wait. You know?

		NICK
	Huh?

		MERLE
	I just wait. For this... It's what
	I wait for... I wait all year.

		NICK
	So do I.

		MERLE
		(sharp)
	You do?

		NICK
		(nods)
	Yeah.

NICK grins, takes down his rifle and begins wiping the oil
off it.

		MERLE
	You think about it?

		NICK
	Yeah.

		MERLE
	So do I.
		(watches Nick for a
		 minute)
	I want to be ready... You have to
	be ready... It has to be there, in
	your mind.

		NICK
	The shot?

		MERLE
	Fucking A.

		NICK
	I don't think about the shot that
	much.

		MERLE
		(firmly)
	You have to think about the shot.
	It's the shot. The shot's it.

		NICK
		(uncertain)
	Yeah... I guess.

		MERLE
		(studies him)
	What do you think about?

		NICK
	I don't know... I guess I think
	about the deer... Being out, maybe.
	I don't know. I think about it all.
	Hell, I like the trees, you know? I
	like the ways the trees are, all
	the different ways the trees are
	too.

		MERLE
		(with a glance to the
		 window)
	I'll tell you something, Nick. I
	wouldn't hunt with anyone but you.
	I won't hunt with a yo-yo.

		NICK
		(laughs)
	Yo-yo! Who's a yo-yo?

		MERLE
	Who's a yo-yo...? Who do you
	think's a yo-yo! They're all yo
	yo's. I mean they're all great
	guys, for Christ's sake, but... The
	point is, Nick, without you I'd
	hunt alone. Seriously. I would.
	That's what I'd do.

		NICK
		(laughs)
	You're a fucking nut. You know
	that, Merle? You're a fucking
	maniac!

		MERLE
	Yeah.
		(he grins)
	When it comes to hunting, that's
	true.

Cursing and banging from outside. NICK opens the door. JOHN
and ALBERT, both in tuxedoes and loaded down with gear, are
pounding on the trunk of the Cadillac, trying to get it open.
NICK and MERLE go out.

EXT. NICK'S TRAILER - DAY

		NICK
	Albert! For Christ's sake... John!
	Wait a minute, you guys!

		ALBERT
	It won't open.

		NICK
	You gotta hit it here. Here,
	Albert, not there.

		ALBERT
	Where should I hit it? Just show me
	where I should hit it.

		NICK
	Here. Hit it here.

ALBERT hits the trunk in the indicated spot and the lid snaps
open.

		ALBERT
	Hey, that's neat.

NICK nods.

		ALBERT (CONT'D)
	That's new, isn't it?

		NICK
	Couple of weeks... Listen --

		ALBERT
	I love this car. Some cars sit, you
	know? This car, a car like this...
	grows. I mean you never know, with
	a car like this, where this car has
	been.

VINCE comes up, also in tuxedo, and dragging a totally
disorganized clutter of hunting gear behind him.

		VINCE
	Hey, guys...

		JOHN
	Shhh! Albert's gonna hump the Coup
	de Ville.

ALBERT looks around at his friends. He surveys the back end
of the Cadillac with simian pride. Then he expands his chest,
thumps on it with both fists and yodels out a magnificent,
mile-carrying Tarzan call. As the echo of it comes back the
church bell begins ringing down the street and a group of
excited BRIDESMAIDS come, hurrying up.

		BRIDESMAID 1
	Albert, what are you doing!

		BRIDESMAID 2
	Hurry up, you guys!

		BRIDESMAID 3
	Who's got their carnations?

		BRIDESMAID 4
	Here. They're right here.

		BRIDESMAID 1
	Look at you! You're all a mess!

		BRIDESMAID 3
	Put on their carnations!

		BRIDESMAID 1
	Who's got a pin?

As the BRIDESMAIDS begin straightening ties and putting on
carnations, NICK hears someone call his name. He turns to
find LINDA standing beside the trailer where she can't be
seen. She looks pale and very frightened and she holds a
small suitcase in her hand.

		NICK
		(crosses)
	Linda...

		LINDA
	Hi.
		(forces a smile)
	Nick, your shoes are soaking.

		NICK
	Linda, what's the matter?

		LINDA
		(tries to toss it off)
	Oh... You know...

She fights against it but the tears begin to come. NICK looks
around, pulls her inside the trailer.

INT. NICK'S TRAILER - DAY

NICK clears a place on the couch. LINDA sits, holding her
suitcase in her lap.

		LINDA
		(with great effort)
	I was just wondering... Nick...
	You're going hunting... If I could
	use this place to stay, because...

		NICK
	Sure. Are you kidding? Sure.

		LINDA
	I'd want to pay you... and I was
	thinking --

		NICK
		(kneels in front of her)
	Linda... Hey, Linda...

		LINDA
	I would want to pay you, Nick...
	and I was thinking --

		NICK
	Linda, Linda...!

		LINDA
		(very small, looking into
		 his eyes)
	What?

		NICK
	Will you marry me?

		LINDA
		(after a long, long
		 moment)
	Okay.

		NICK
	Would you?

LINDA nods - a solemn nod.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	You would?

LINDA's lip begins to tremble. Tears stand in her eyes and
she gives a little toss of her head.

		LINDA
	Who else, dummy?

NICK stares at her. He can still hardly believe it.

		NICK
	This is terrific...! This is really
	terrific!

LINDA nods. She is suddenly excited, suddenly radiantly
happy. She takes the suitcase off her lap and throws herself
in NICK's arms.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	I don't know what we've been
	waiting for!

		LINDA
		(eyes closed, loving him)
	I don't know! I don't know either!

INT. GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH - NIGHT

SAL and ANGELA stand facing each other as the PRIEST reads
the Holy Sacrament of Marriage.

		PRIEST
	"Blessed be the Kingdom... now and
	forever unto Ages and Ages...

As the PRIEST continues with the Holy Sacrament CAMERA PICKS
UP FACES IN THE CONGREGATION. We see SAL'S FAMILY. We see
ANGELA'S FAMILY. We see the VETS from the V.F.W. Post. We see
the STEELWORKERS from the bar and the WIVES and MOTHERS who
chased them home to change. They are hard faces -- working
class faces -- but we sense a fortitude among the
congregation, a community of both heart and spirit.

CAMERA PICKS UP NICK, MERLE, VINCE, ALBERT and JOHN standing
in a row opposite the BRIDESMAIDS. The guys all look slightly
disheveled. Their tuxedos are all too small and their shoes
are soaking wet from walking in the snow.

NICK catches LINDA's eye and they hold each other across the
intervening space like two children who are amazed.

The PRIEST hands white tapers to the bride and groom. CAMERA
CLOSES SLOWLY ON THE PRIEST. The man is impressive -- gentle
yet full of power. The PRIEST lights the tapers -- first
ANGELA's, then SAL's -- and looks out across the assembled
congregation.

		PRIEST
	"For everyone that does evil hates
	the light, and does not come to the
	light, lest his deeds will be
	reproved."

EXT. COLUMBINE STREET - TOP OF THE HILL - NIGHT

Save for a lone figure trudging home, the street is deserted,
left to the gently falling snow. In the background the
massive silhouette of the steel mill is plainly visible, lit
with fire.

INT. GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH - NIGHT

NICK, MERLE, VINCE, ALBERT and JOHN join with the BRIDESMAIDS
to assist the PRIEST in the crowning of SAL and ANGELA.

The PRIEST crowns SAL first.

		PRIEST
	"The servant of God, Sal, is
	crowned for the servant of God
	Angela, in the Name of the Father
	and of the Son and of the Holy
	Ghost. Amen."

Now ANGELA is crowned.

		PRIEST (CONT'D)
	"The servant of God, Angela, is
	crowned for the servant of God,
	Sal, in the Name of the Father and
	of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
	Amen."

Guiding the couple by their joined hands the PRIEST leads SAL
and ANGELA around the analoy. The movement is very precise,
very formal, a circling to represent eternity.

INT. V.F.W. POST - DANCE FLOOR - NIGHT

The Band is going full blast and the whirling COUPLES, young
and old, are laughing.
We see SAL and ANGELA, NICK and LINDA, VINCE, ALBERT and
JOHN. The only one of the group not dancing is MERLE. MERLE
is drinking, standing alone on the side of the floor chugging
beer in tense, rapid-fire gulps. We sense immediately that he
feels out of place, at a loss to join spontaneously in the
spirit of the party. MERLE finishes the beer, crumples the
can and starts on another. As he picks up the second can he
notices that a SAD-LOOKING GIRL is sitting against the wall
behind him, waiting for someone to ask her to dance. The SAD
LOOKING GIRL gives MERLE a smile. MERLE pretends not to see
and moves behind a post.

INT. V.F.W. POST - TRESTLE TABLES - NIGHT

The wedding cake that was carried in earlier has now been
attacked from all sides, but the miniature bride and groom
are still standing in the middle. Unnoticed by each other
SAL'S MOTHER and ANGELA'S MOTHER eye the little figures. Both
women are in rather teary condition and begin moving toward
the cake. Suddenly, as the CROWD shifts, they encounter each
other face to face. Smiles are exchanged -- strained smiles,
which get stretched and stretched and stretched. Then, in
unison, they desert the smiling and remove their respective
offspring from the cake. SAL'S MOTHER looks down at her sugar
coated groom and ANGELA'S MOTHER looks down at her sugar
coated bride. Then they eye each other, burst into tears and
throw themselves in each other's arms, moaning and sobbing.

INT. V.F.W. POST - COAT ROOM - NIGHT

Another COUPLE tries to enter the rack. It is pretty full.
They finally find an empty place and squeeze in.

INT. V.F.W. POST - DANCE FLOOR - NIGHT

NICK comes off the floor with LINDA and throws an arm around
MERLE.

		NICK
	Sit with Linda, man, will ya?...
	Give her a beer.
		(to Linda with great
		 solicitude)
	Would you like a beer?

		LINDA
		(puzzled)
	Sure.

		NICK
	What kind of beer would you like?

		LINDA
		(laughing)
	I don't know.

		NICK
		(to Merle)
	Give her Miller's. Miller's High
	Life.

NICK takes off. LINDA sits down at a table and MERLE goes to
the cooler to get a Miller's. He gropes around in the tub,
finds one and pops the tab. Suddenly he notices that NICK has
crossed to the SAD-LOOKING GIRL by the wall. He has stopped
in front of her and is asking her something. The SAD-LOOKING
GIRL gives a blush, gets out of her chair and NICK takes her
in his arms and begins to dance. The SAD-LOOKING GIRL looks
transformed. She begins chattering and laughing.

MERLE crosses back to LINDA and gives her the beer. As he
pulls up a chair to sit down beside her he stumbles and
nearly loses his balance. He is very drunk.

		MERLE
	Sorry.

		LINDA
		(laughs)
	It's okay, Merle.

NICK swings by with the SAD-LOOKING GIRL and waves.

		MERLE
		(catching Linda's
		 expression)
	I guess you like Nick.

		LINDA
		(nods)
	Yes.

MERLE doesn't say anything for a moment. He seems to be
trying to contain a floodtide of emotion.

		MERLE
	Fuckin' Nick...
		(clears his throat)
	Fuckin' Nick... gives.
		(he nods, bangs his fist
		 on the table)
	Gives. Fuckin' Nick gives.

INT. V.F.W. POST - COATROOM - NIGHT

The rack is still jammed with COUPLES but the laughing and
giggling has now given way to the sound of heavy breathing
and low moans.
What light there is comes from the colored glass ball
revolving above the dance floor, where the MUSIC is now
playing sweet and low.

The front door comes open and a U.S. Army SERGEANT steps into
the darkened hallway. The man wears his dress green uniform.
On his chest is a row of battle ribbons and his shoes are
brightly polished.

		SERGEANT
	Pow!

The SERGEANT gives a beery chuckle and moves toward the dance
floor.

INT. V.F.W. POST - TRESTLE TABLE AREA - NIGHT

The SERGEANT passes between groups of celebrating GUESTS,
plucks a beer from one of the coolers and sits down alone at
the end of one of the white trestle tables.

INT. V.F.W. POST - DANCE FLOOR - NIGHT

ALBERT gives his Tarzan cry, suddenly picks his GIRL off her
feet and marches around holding her above his head.

		GIRL
	Albert, what are you doing...
	Albert!

INT. V.F.W. POST DANCE FLOOR - ANOTHER LOCATION - NIGHT

VINCE and JOHN are standing together. VINCE is going bananas
because his girl, MARSHA, is dancing too close to FRED.

		VINCE
	Look at that, see... Watch. Wait a
	minute, watch. There! D'j'u see
	that? D'j'u see the way he... You
	know what that guy is doing? That
	guy is squeezing her ass!

		JOHN
	Oh, well...

		VINCE
	Oh well! What do you mean Oh well?!
	The guy is actually... He did it
	again! That's what he's doing...
	He... He's reaching in, John, to
	her --! I'll kill him! I'm gonna
	kill him right now.

VINCE marches up and taps FRED on the shoulder. FRED releases
MARSHA. MARSHA waits, one hand on her hip, while the two of
them exchange words. VINCE turns MARSHA, points to her ass.
FRED turns MARSHA, pints to the small of her back. VINCE is
hopping up and down now. So is FRED. MARSHA, who is getting
bored, points to the door. VINCE and FRED bang out. As soon
as they have gone MARSHA is taken by someone else who puts
his hand right back where FRED had it.

INT. V.F.W. POST - TRESTLE TABLES - NIGHT

NICK, SAL and MERLE are standing together, looking at the
SERGEANT.

		MERLE
	Nick, he just came back.

		NICK
	From Nam?

		MERLE
	Fucking A. See that ribbon in the
	left. That's Quan Son. That fucking
	guy was at Quan Son!

MERLE gestures with his head. NICK and SAL cross with him to
the SERGEANT.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	We, ah... We're going too.

The SERGEANT looks at them and delivers a big, blank smile.

		SERGEANT
	Pow!

		MERLE
	What?

The SERGEANT keeps smiling.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
		(to Nick)
	What'd he say?

		NICK
	Pow.

		MERLE
	Pow?

		NICK
	Pow.

		MERLE
	Oh.

MERLE nods.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
		(clears his throat)
	Uh... well, maybe you could tell us
	how it is over there?

		SERGEANT
	Pow!

		MERLE
	Pow?

		SERGEANT
	Pow!

MERLE looks at NICK. NICK looks at SAL. They all begin
scratching their heads, trying not to laugh.

		MERLE
	Well, thanks a lot.

They turn away and then, when they are out of earshot, they
all break up, howling.

		SAL
	Who the hell is he?

		MERLE
	Who the hell knows!

		NICK
	Is he from here?

		MERLE
	Hell no!

		NICK
	Well, where's he from?

		MERLE AND SAL
		(in unison)
	Who the hell knows!

		MERLE
		(soberly)
	Maybe he's lost.

		SAL AND NICK
	Lost???

		MERLE
		(throws up his hands)
	Well, I don't know!

INT. V.F.W. POST - NIGHT

The GUESTS have formed in a long double line which extends
from the dance floor right out into the street. Everyone is
pretty drunk and they are all armed with streamers and bags
of rice. As SAL and ANGELA appear from out of a back room
there is a great rowdy CHEER. The MUSICIANS strike up a
MARCH. Followed by the MUSICIANS, showered with streamers,
rice, advice and encouragement, SAL and ANGELA walk the
gauntlet toward the street, where a glossy, bright red
Pontiac with headers and straight pipes is being revved in a
series of ear-splitting crescendos.

EXT. V.F.W. POST - STREET - NIGHT

JOHN, ALBERT, MERLE and VINCENT are standing by the door.
Their tuxedos are stained and torn. Their carnations are
squashed and their clip-on bow ties are either missing
entirely or dangling from the open collars of their shirts.
VINCE looks the worst, with a black eye and half his pant leg
torn away, and they are all guzzling beer.

		VINCE
	Bullshit! That's bullshit!

		MERLE
	You wanna bet?

		VINCE
	I'll betcha! That's bullshit and
	I'll betcha! You're fulla shit!

		MERLE
	How much? How much do you wanna
	bet?

		OTHERS
	Bet him! Bet him, Vince!

		VINCE
	I'll betcha! I'll betcha... I'll
	betcha twenty dollars!

EXT. V.F.W. POST - PARKED PONTIAC - NIGHT

SAL and ANGELA emerge to more CHEERS and a shower of
streamers and rice. ANGELA is helped into the Pontiac on the
right. NICK throws an arm around SAL and walks him around to
the driver's seat.

		NICK
	Don't worry what it says in the
	book.

		SAL
	Right.

		NICK
	Just forget that. Forget what it
	says in the book.

		SAL
	I'm gonna start slow... At the top.
	Then I'm gonna work down.

		NICK
	Great. That's great.

		SAL
	That's my plan.

NICK gives SAL a hug. SAL gets in the car.

		NICK
	See you Monday.

		SAL
	See you Monday.

INT. PONTIAC - NIGHT

SAL looks over at ANGELA.

		SAL
	All set, hon?

ANGELA nods. SAL puts the car into gear and starts slowly
off. Fists pound on the car. Rice and streamers shower down.
Suddenly, through the front windshield, MERLE appears, stark
naked, running in front of the car with colored paper
streamers floating out from his upraised right hand. For a
split second SAL cannot believe what he is seeing. He throws
a look at ANGELA. ANGELA covers her mouth in amazement and
then quickly shifts the hand to cover her eyes.

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

MERLE weaves down the street in front of the growling red
Pontiac. MERLE is not just running. He is leaping and
bounding, as if released from gravity and entered into a
realm of pure ethereal space.

NICK, ALBERT, VINCE and JOHN pound down the street behind the
Pontiac, ALBERT carrying MERLE's clothes.

		GUYS
	Look at that! Fuckin' guy! Fuckin'
	Merle!... Unbelievable!

EXT. STREET - NIGHT

The road forks, one road going high to a parking area, the
other descending to the valley below. MERLE swerves up the
incline toward the parking area, while the Pontiac goes
straight and disappears down the hill.

ALBERT, VINCE and JOHN stagger to a stop, panting helplessly.
NICK grabs MERLE's clothes from ALBERT and takes off up the
hill.

EXT. HILLSIDE PARKING AREA - NIGHT

MERLE stands motionless, looking out across the valley as
NICK approaches. The night is brilliantly clear and the fires
from the mill light up the sky with an eerie glow.

NICK comes to a stop a few feet away.

		NICK
	Merle?

MERLE turns. His face has a strange, distant look, and he
gives NICK an almost feral grin.

		MERLE
	You think we'll ever come back?

		NICK
		(startled)
	From Nam?

		MERLE
	Yeah.

NICK moves up beside him. He doesn't know what to say.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	I love this fuckin' place... That
	sounds crazy. I know that sounds
	crazy, but I love this fuckin'
	place... If anything happens, Nick,
	don't leave me there. I mean it.
	Don't leave me... You gotta
	promise, Nick. You gotta promise me
	that.

		NICK
		(half laughing)
	Merle --

		MERLE
	Promise! You gotta promise!

		NICK
	You got it.

MERLE lets out his breath. It is as if some great weight had
been pressing on him.

		MERLE
		(with a laugh)
	Let's go huntin'. I mean let's do
	it!

				DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. THRUWAY - NIGHT

NICK'S battered old shark-finned Cadillac comes screaming
past.

INT. CADILLAC - NIGHT

NICK, MERLE, VINCE, ALBERT and JOHN, all of them still in
tuxedos, are jammed in the car between knapsacks, sleeping
bags, six packs of beer and deer rifles.

		GUYS
		(singing)
	Let me be free! Let me be free!
	If... you... will let me be free...
	You'll... always be happy... with
	me-e-e-e!!!

		ALBERT
		(making a trumpet sound)
	Wa-wa-wa!... Waaaaa!!!

EXT. MOUNTAIN ROAD - NIGHT

Tale Cadillac comes blasting by...

INT. CADILLAC - NIGHT

NICK is hunched over the wheel, his eyes gone completely
glassy. MERLE and VINCE are on the nod, while ALBERT and
JOHN, both half asleep, are having a lead-voiced
conversation.

		ALBERT
	She fucked you?

		JOHN
	She fucked me.

		ALBERT
	She fucked me too.

		JOHN
	She fucked you?

		ALBERT
	She fucked me too.

There is a long pause. They both struggle to keep their eyes
open.

		JOHN
	She fucked us both.

		ALBERT
	Yeah.

		JOHN
	Fucking women, man...

		ALBERT
		(shakes his head)
	I know...

INT. CADILLAC NIGHT

NICK'S head is sunk below the upper rim of the steering
wheel. One eye is entirely shut and the open one seems close
to death. Suddenly his head snaps up. He slams his foot down
on the brake and the Cadillac fishtails, rubber screaming, to
a jolting stop.

EVERYONE in the car comes awake ten bleary eyes staring out
through the windshield.

There are deer in the road, fifteen or twenty of them
standing in the headlights.

EXT. CADILLAC - NIGHT

VINCE, ALBERT, NICK and JOHN pile out with their rifles.
VINCE immediately slips and falls down.

		VINCE
	Get 'em! For Christ sake, get 'em!

		JOHN
	Who's got the ammo?

		ALBERT
	Ammo! Get the ammo!

		VINCE
	I'll get it! Where is it?

		JOHN
	It's in the trunk!... It's in the
	trunk! I'm telling you, it's in the
	trunk!

VINCE, ALBERT and JOHN rush around to the trunk. ALBERT
begins pounding on it.

		VINCE
	There, Albert! Hit it there!

Pushing and shoving each other, VINCE, ALBERT and JOHN rush
around to the side of the car. As they pass along the
embankment at the side of the road there is a soft sound,
like a sigh, and all three of them simultaneously vanish.

NICK, who has been watching, stares at the place where his
three friends disappeared. He takes a few steps forward,
realizes what has happened and doubles up in the middle of
the road, helpless with laughter.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
		(getting out of the car)
	Man, let's go hunting!... Where are
	they?

NICK makes a gesture, a downward pointing of his finger.
VINCE crosses to the side of the road.

EXT. RAVINE - NIGHT

The slope is a good 45 plus. At the bottom, barely visible,
three tiny figures flop in the snow.

EXT. CADILLAC - NIGHT

VINCE looks down at the three hunters with an expression of
absolute disgust. He looks at NICK -- flat on his back,
pounding his feet, howling -- and then he looks at the deer.
The deer are still watching. If anything they have edged
closer and their massed expression of polite curiosity throws
VINCE into a blind rage.

		VINCE
	Get out of here, damn you! Go
	home!... Scat!... Shoo!

VINCE, whose rifle is fully loaded, slams a shell into the
chamber and lets off a barrage of shots above the deer.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
	Bastards! Assholes! Get lost!

EXT. MOUNTAIN PASS - DAWN

The sky is cold -- first light -- with low, wind-driven
clouds. CAMERA TILTS DOWN and we see NICK's Cadillac coming
up a narrow road flanked by precipitous, heavily forested
ridges on both sides.

EXT. MOUNTAIN ROAD - DAWN

The Cadillac seems minuscule, overwhelmed by the massive,
black slopes looming up from the road.

INT. CADILLAC - DAWN

Everyone is eating cold hot dogs, ripping them out of a half
dozen plastic packages, dipping them in a jar of mustard and
stuffing them down. Hot dog juice has dripped over
everything, potato chips are littered everywhere and both
beer and milk are being passed around.

		ALBERT
	Fuel up. Need fuel.

		JOHN
	Those are mine!

		ALBERT
	You want 'em?

		JOHN
	Damn right!

		ALBERT
	Gimme a Hostess Twinkie, Merle.

		MERLE
	Here's a Hershey.

ALBERT tears off the wrapper, dips it in the mustard and
glomps it down.

		JOHN
	That's mustard!

		ALBERT
		(mouth jammed full)
	What?

		JOHN
	You just put mustard on your
	Hershey bar.

		ALBERT
		(nods)
	Good... Pass the beer.

		VINCE
		(pointing to a location
		 beside the road)
	Here, here! This is it!

		MERLE
		(milk slopping over him)
	Watch it, shithead!

		VINCE
		(pounds Nick on the
		 shoulder)
	Here! This is it!

		ALBERT
	It is not!

		VINCE
	It is too! Now you passed it!

		MERLE
	It's ahead, by the tree.

		NICK
	It's ahead, Vince.

		VINCE
	That isn't it! There's no way
	that's it... Unless they changed
	it. They might have changed it.

NICK pulls to a stop on the shoulder.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
	They changed it. That's what they
	did. This is it but they changed
	it.

EXT. ROADSIDE AREA - DAWN

The sky is just turning grey. A cold wind is blowing, moaning
in the trees and swirling a fine haze of snow across the open
roadway. The guys all pile out in their wrecked tuxedos.

		VINCE
	This is it. Definitely. This is it,
	but they changed it.

		ALBERT
	You're full of shit.

		VINCE
	Who's full of shit?

		ALBERT
	You're full of shit!

		VINCE
	I'm telling you, they changed it!

		ALBERT
	They did not!

		VINCE
	They did too!

		ALBERT
	Jesus, it's freezing!

NICK, MERLE and JOHN have the trunk open and are taking stuff
out. MERLE strips down where he stands and begins putting on
his hunting clothes. ALBERT and VINCE grab their things and
follow the example of NICK and JOHN, who are changing on the
corner of the seats.

		NICK
	Whee-uu!

		ALBERT
	Jesus!

		JOHN
	Holy shit!

		VINCE
	Merle, hey Merle, you got any
	socks?

MERLE, who is crouched down studying the hillside, looks
over.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
		(rummaging around in the
		 mess of things he has
		 brought)
	Never mind, Merle. Never mind, I
	got 'em... Where the hell are my
	pants? Anyone see my pants?... Who
	the hell took my pants!

VINCE begins plunging around.

		OTHERS
	Fuckhead! Watch it!

		VINCE
	Somebody took my pants... I know I
	brought pants.

VINCE tears into another pile of equipment, comes up with
nothing and steps out of the car.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
	All right. All right, you guys.
	Whoever took my pants, I want 'em
	back!

EXT. ROADSIDE AREA - DAWN - LATER

Shots are ringing out in the hills. NICK, ALBERT and JOHN
stand by the roadside while VINCE and MERLE glare at each
other. VINCE is still in his tuxedo pants, is still wearing
his dress shoes and is draped in a gigantic red goose down
vest that could only have come from ALBERT. MERLE's knapsack
lies on the ground in front of him and we can see that it
contains a pair of Vibram-soled mountain boots.

		MERLE
	Sure I got boots. I got boots right
	here.

		VINCE
	Then lemme have 'em.

		MERLE
	No.

		VINCE
		(both hands in the air)
	No!!!?

		MERLE
	No.

		VINCE
	What do you mean, no???

		MERLE
	That's it. No. No way.

		VINCE
	Some fuckin' friend... You're some
	fuckin' friend, Merle!

		MERLE
	You gotta learn, Vince! You come
	out here... You got no jacket, you
	got no pants, you got no knife and
	you got no boots. You think
	everyone's gonna take care of you!
	That's what you always think, but
	this time you're wrong. This time
	you're on your own!

		ALBERT
	Merle, give him the boots.

		MERLE
	No. No boots. No nothin'.

		VINCE
	You're one fuckin' bastard, Merle.
	You know that? You're one fucking
	bastard!

		MERLE
		(snapping it out, jabbing
		 his finger at the ground)
	This is this, Vince. This isn't
	something else. This is this!

		VINCE
	You know what I think? There's
	times I think you're a goddamn
	faggot!... I fixed you up a million
	times, Merle!
		(to the others)
	I fixed him up a million times! I
	don't know how many times I fixed
	him up... and nothin' ever
	happens... Zilch! Zero!... The
	trouble with you, Merle, no one
	knows what you're talking about!
	"This is this"? What does that
	mean, "this is this"? I mean is
	that some faggot bullshit, or is
	that some faggot bullshit!!! And if
	it isn't, what the hell is it???

		JOHN
	Vince. Hey, you guys --

		VINCE
		(hopping now)
	Take last night...! Last night he
	coulda had twenty fuckin' deer!
	More! He coulda had more! And look
	what he does! I mean look what he
	fuckin' does!!!

		JOHN
	Vince!!!

JOHN throws up his hands in a comical way.

		JOHN (CONT'D)
	I'll get the boots.

		ALBERT
		(in agreement)
	Get the boots.

		JOHN
		(crossing to Merle's
		 knapsack)
	I mean let's get going before --

MERLE -- who has remained completely calm throughout VINCE's
tirade -- pumps a shell in the chamber of his rifle. JOHN
freezes in his tracks and stares at him, his face gone white.

		MERLE
	I said no.

JOHN looks at ALBERT, who is right behind him, and they both
back away. VINCE, who is standing directly opposite MERLE,
begins to tremble. His mouth comes open, closes and comes
open again. Urine begins trickling out from the bottom of his
pants leg, staining the snow. Suddenly, NICK steps forward.
He looks at MERLE, crosses to the knapsack, takes out the
boots, walks over to VINCE and throws them on the road.

		NICK
		(gently, to Merle)
	Let's hunt.

INT. BUSTED-DOWN OLD LOGGERS SHACK - NIGHT

The place is about nine-by-twelve. The floor is rotted out,
boards are missing from the walls and the entire structure is
canted to the right. Hanging from the roof peak is a hissing
Coleman lantern which sways in the wind.

VINCE, ALBERT and JOHN are sacked out, sound asleep. Beer
cans -- some old, some new -- litter the floor. Wet clothes,
most of them bloody, hang from tie-boards and nails. Strung
up on the end wall are two deer carcasses, one of them with a
knife jammed in it where steaks have been cut out.
Snow is blowing in -- dry, crystal bright. It swirls over
everything and settles on the sleeping figures on the floor.

CAMERA DISCOVERS MERLE AND NICK. They are both in sleeping
bags, lying on rusted bedsprings at either side of the broken
door. The wind gusts and moans. The cabin shudders and then
there is a sudden lull.

		MERLE
	Hey, Nick?

		NICK
	Huh?

		MERLE
	Tomorrow I go with Vince.

		NICK
	Hunt with Vince?

		MERLE
	Yeah... I mean so he knows... He
	doesn't even know.

EXT. THRUWAY PITTSBURGH OFF-RAMP - TWILIGHT

Traffic is heavy, an unending flow of cars, a river of
headlights suspended on a curved concrete trestle which seems
to float in thin air. Behind is the mill, belching steam and
ablaze with fire.

NICK's Cadillac appears, horn blaring, weaving through the
traffic. The car sits low. Trussed to the hood, to the roof,
to the trunk, are the carcasses of five deer. Rope-ends
flutter and bang in the wind. The car shudders and thuds.
Inside, grinning maniacally, NICK, MERLE, VINCE, ALBERT and
JOHN are all shouting and guzzling beer.

EXT. COLUMBINE STREET - TWILIGHT

The Caddy appears, swerving onto Columbine with tires
screaming and NICK still leaning on the horn. The guys are
all hanging out the windows, shouting to FRIENDS, whistling
at GIRLS and banging a triumphant tatoo on the doors.

		ALBERT
	Maxie! Hey Maxie wha'd'ya say!

		JOHN
	Hey Geraldine, let's eat!

		VINCE
	Nothin' to it, asshole! Piece o'
	fuckin' cake!

As the car ascends the grade the mill appears behind it,
seeming to loom upward under the pink-streaked twilight sky.

CAMERA HOLDS AS THE CAR COMES TOWARD IT. The headlights blaze
white, like huge hungry stars, and the eyes of the dead deer
on the fenders glitter gold and green and red.

ALBERT leans out the window and gives his Tarzan call... IT
SEEMS TO ECHO, AS IF COMING FROM FAR AWAY,

				FREEZE FRAME...

EXT. CLOSE-UP OF JUNGLE LEAF - DAY

The leaf is being eaten by an exotic-looking insect. After
each bite, the insect lifts its head, produces an exceedingly
thoughtful expression, and chews.

WE HEAR THE BUZZ AND CREAK OF OTHER INSECTS, THEN A DULL,
FLUTTERING DRONE. THE DRONE GROWS LOUDER...

EXT. HELICOPTER SQUADRON - SOUTH VIETNAM - DAY

There are twenty of them, coming fast and low, just over the
tops of the trees. Sunlight gleams on their paint and
murderous-looking rockets are packed to their bellies in fat
clusters, like eggs.

Suddenly, in unison, they fire the rockets.

EXT. RANGE OF LOW HILLS - SOUTH VIETNAM - DAY

As the rockets streak away the lightened choppers shoot
upward, lost to sight. There is an eerie silence and then the
hillside explodes, vanishes in a sheet of smoke and flame two
miles wide.

EXT. DUSTY ROAD - DAY

A platoon of AMERICANS have been ambushed on the road. The
bodies lie helter-skelter -- headless, armless, legless, guts
spilled in the dirt. No one moves and there is absolute
silence except for the low buzz of flies.

A V.C. LIEUTENANT steps into sight. He gives a brusque
command and V.C. SOLDIERS step out of the jungle. The
LIEUTENANT bayonets a few of the fallen U.S. SOLDIERS --
idly, without much interest -- and then cracks a joke as he
rubs his finger in the Americans' blood. The V.C. SOLDIERS
laugh, spear a few AMERICANS themselves and repeat the joke.

There is a slight sound. The V.C. LIEUTENANT spins and gives
a low command. Fifty feet away there are three grass huts.
He signals his SOLDIERS to spread out and then he starts
toward them.

INT. GRASS HUT - DAY

South Vietnamese VILLAGERS -- women, children, and a few old
men -- sit huddled in the semi-darkness. The WOMEN hold their
hands over their BABIES' mouths. Flies buzz and there is a
look of stark terror in their faces.

EXT. DUSTY ROAD - DAY

One of the fallen AMERICANS moves. CAMERA CLOSES ON THE
SOLDIER. His face is in the dirt and flies are nuzzling at a
gash in his temple. The face is unshaven, frighteningly
gaunt, but we recognize that it is MERLE.

A WOMAN'S SCREAM comes from the direction of the huts. A shot
rings out. MERLE pulls himself to his hands and knees and
stands there, on all fours, like a dog.

EXT. GRASS HUTS - DAY

The V.C. roust the VILLAGERS from their huts, smashing them
in the back with rifle butts. One of the SOLDIERS emerges
from a hut carrying two small BABIES upside-down by their
feet. One of the WOMEN cries out. The SOLDIER gives her a
kick, swings one of her BABIES in the air and lets it go. The
BABY turns over and over against the blue sky. As the BABY
comes down ANOTHER SOLDIER catches it through the neck on the
end of his bayonet.

EXT. DUSTY ROAD - DAY

MERLE strips a B.A.R. from one of his dead companions, slams
a fresh clip in it, jams two extras in his pants and starts
for the grass huts. His movements are slow, almost dreamlike,
and his face is expressionless, like someone risen from the
dead.

EXT. GRASS HUTS DAY

The VILLAGERS -- about twenty of them -- have been formed in
a line. As the SOLDIERS look on the V.C. LIEUTENANT walks up
and down trying to extract information. The SPEARED BABY lies
in the dust between the two groups. The SECOND BABY tries to
play with it. The SOLDIER who threw the dead baby in the air
squats nearby and yawns.

EXT. GRASS HUTS - ANOTHER ANGLE - DAY

MERLE approaches between the huts. He takes a quick look
around the corner, finds the V.C. all bunched in a neat
package and draws back.

CAMERA CLOSES ON MERLE'S EYES. They are cold, dreaming
things, glittering blankly.

EXT. GRASS HUTS - DAY

MERLE spins out with the B.A.R. on full automatic. The V.C.
SOLDIERS go down screaming, arms and necks thrown back, in a
thin mist of spraying blood.

ABOVE THE CHATTER OF MERLE'S B.A.R. WE HEAR A GROWING ROAR.

EXT. APPROACHING AMERICAN HELICOPTERS - DAY

There are five of them, coming in low under the tops of
nearby trees.

EXT. GRASS HUTS - THE VILLAGERS - DAY

The VILLAGERS stand motionless, staring at the helicopters
and frozen with terror. They turn. They start to run. And
then they disappear in a roaring wall of burning napalm.

EXT. GRASS HUTS AFTER NAPALM ATTACK - DAY

MERLE stands alone with his B.A.R. surrounded by clouds of
billowing black smoke. There is no sound but the rush of
heated air and the faint crackle of flames. MERLE'S clothes
are burning. Flames are licking up his trouser legs and a
blob of napalm is burning fiercely on his helmet.

In front of MERLE the SOLDIERS and the VILLAGERS lie in two
charred heaps. The BABIES lie between them. Both are
motionless now, like two roasted stones.

An AMERICAN LIEUTENANT steps out from behind one of the
burning huts. MERLE and the LIEUTENANT spin on each other and
then the LIEUTENANT lowers his carbine.

		LIEUTENANT
	What the hell are you doing here?

		MERLE
		(numb)
	Saving lives.

MORE AMERICANS appear, some twenty of them, coming out of the
trees in a long line. Among them are NICK and SAL.

		LIEUTENANT
	Move it out, girls! Move it out!

The LIEUTENANT heads down the line. NICK stares at MERLE.

		NICK
	Merle?... Jesus, Merle!

MERLE turns and looks at NICK. There is no recognition. He
seems to be looking right through him.

SAL comes up behind NICK.

		SAL
	Hey...! Hey, Merle!

A shot rings out. The LIEUTENANT goes down and suddenly the
whole line of AMERICANS is caught in a murderous cross-fire.
Grenades rain out of the trees. MERLE, NICK and SAL dive for
cover.

Out of the smoke V.C. SOLDIERS begin to appear, more and more
of them, swarming out of the jungle in scores.

EXT. CLEARING IN THE JUNGLE - HEAVY RAIN - DAY

We are looking at the ground where three pits have been dug
and fitted with bamboo gratings which are held down by
stones. The ground is ankle-deep in running mud and the pits
are filled with water to within a foot of the bamboo
gratings. In each of the pits are about a half-dozen men --
SOUTH VIETNAMESE and AMERICAN. Their hands grip the gratings
and their eyes are hollow. Other than an occasional groan
there is only the sound of the falling rain.

A V.C. SOLDIER trudges out of the jungle. As he reaches the
pits he notices the hands, curses and begins jumping up and
down on the bamboo gratings. The hands disappear. As soon as
one comes back, the SOLDIER stomps on it, shrieking with
laughter. Then, almost as an afterthought, the SOLDIER pulls
down his pants and squats above the center grating.

CAMERA TILTS SLOWLY UPWARD. We see the clearing in its
totality. It is a raw hole hacked out of the jungle and
contains only two structures. One is a large bamboo "tiger
cage" with a few leaves tied to its top. The other is a small
hut with a thatched roof. The walls of the hut are open and
we can see V.C. GUARDS moving about inside.

A cry comes from the hut. There is the THUD of a rifle butt
on flesh and the cry abruptly stops.

INT. THATCHED HUT - DAY

In the middle of the hut is an American kitchen table with a
rose-patterned plastic top. At opposite ends of the table are
two chairs. A SOUTH VIETNAMESE PRISONER sits in one of the
chairs. In the other chair, facing him, is MERLE.
The SOUTH VIETNAMESE has a welt on his head and one of the
half-dozen V.C. GUARDS in the hut is screaming at him. In the
middle of the table, between the SOUTH VIETNAMESE and MERLE,
is a single-action .45 caliber revolver with an American
eagle carved on its ivory grip.

MERLE sits quietly, waiting, but his eyes are working, taking
in every detail of the scene. The V.C. GUARD gives the SOUTH
VIETNAMESE a final cuff, takes up the revolver with a
dramatic flourish and loads one cartridge into the chamber.
Immediately the OTHER GUARDS begin placing bets. The GUARDS
are a ragged bunch -- wet, half-drunk on captured Budweiser,
and it takes some time to straighten things out.

MERLE looks off to his right:

INT. THATCHED HUT - REVERSE ANGLE - DAY

We see more SOUTH VIETNAMESE and AMERICAN prisoners standing
against the wall. Most of them have been badly beaten and all
have their elbows tied behind their backs. In among them,
standing beside one another, are NICK and SAL. NICK looks
grey, like a skinny ghost. SAL is out of control, sobbing
quietly.

INT. THATCHED HUT - ORIGINAL ANGLE - DAY

The betting is now completed. The V.C. in charge waves the
.45 around and calls for silence. Then, closing the cylinder
containing the single bullet, he points the revolver at the
ceiling and clicks through the empty chambers until the
revolver goes off with a ROAR. Bits of thatch flutter down
from the ceiling. The V.C. GUARDS shout enthusiastically and
grin.

MERLE sits motionless. The SOUTH VIETNAMESE across the table
from him begins shaking uncontrollably.

The V.C. in charge now reloads the revolver with one
cartridge, snaps the cylinder shut, puts the gun on the table
between MERLE and the SOUTH VIETNAMESE and gives it a good
spin.

The revolver slows and finally comes to a stop pointing at
MERLE. MERLE stares at it for a long beat. Then he picks it
up, spins the cylinder, cocks it, puts it to his temple and
pulls the trigger. The hammer falls on an empty chamber with
a loud CLICK.

MERLE places the revolver back on the table and pushes it
toward the SOUTH VIETNAMESE. The SOUTH VIETNAMESE begins to
tremble again. Fumbling horribly he finally manages to get
the gun in his hand. He spins the cylinder, cocks the hammer
and puts the gun to his temple. The gun weaves around.
The SOUTH VIETNAMESE closes his eyes and pulls the trigger.
There is a loud CLICK.

MERLE takes the revolver again. He spins it, cocks it -- all
in one smooth motion -- puts it to his temple and pulls the
trigger. There is another CLICK.

MERLE pushes the gun back across the table. This time the
SOUTH VIETNAMESE takes it up with sudden confidence. He spins
the cylinder, cocks it, puts it to his temple and pulls on
the trigger.

THERE IS A ROAR. THE PISTOL IS FLYING IN THE AIR AND THEN THE
MAN'S HEAD, HALF-EXPLODED, CRASHES OVER ONTO THE KITCHEN
TABLE.

MERLE doesn't even blink. The GUARDS begin hooting and
laughing, wiping pieces of brain from their clothes, and
MERLE watches them, watches every gesture, every movement...
like a cat.

EXT. THATCHED HUT - LATER DAY

A pile of bodies lie by the steps in the pouring rain. The
bodies are both SOUTH VIETNAMESE and AMERICAN. Their heads
are all variously blown to pieces and SEVERAL HUGE RATS are
already feeding on them.

INT. THATCHED HUT - TABLE AREA - DAY

NICK is at the table now, opposite a SOUTH VIETNAMESE. He
holds the pistol by his chin, spins the cylinder. His face is
twitching, dripping sweat and both he and his opponent are
holding onto each other's eyes as if they had been at it for
a long time.

NICK raises the pistol to his temple, CLICKS OUT. The GUARDS
murmur. NICK pushes the pistol across the table.

INT. THATCHED HUT - PRISONER END - DAY

There are no Americans left to play except SAL. The sobbing
has stopped but SAL is shaking and trembling and his eyes
wander around in their sockets as if they been cut loose.
MERLE, who lies on the floor nearby, is trying to talk to
SAL. As he does so we hear the CLICKS coming from across the
room and the excited MURMURS of the GUARDS as their betting
choice survives another round.

		MERLE
	You can do it, Sal.

		SAL
	No. No, no.

		MERLE
	Sal... listen to me, Sal! You have
	to do it.

		SAL
	I want to go home, Merle.

		MERLE
	You have to think about this, Sal.
	Listen to me, Sal! You have to
	think about this.

		SAL
		(tears again)
	This is horrible!

		MERLE
	Listen to me, Sal. If you don't do
	it they'll put you in the pit. If
	they put you in the pit, Sal,
	you're gonna die... Sal, do you
	understand?

		SAL
		(nods)
	Merle, I wanna go home!

There is an EXPLOSION from the other end of the room. SAL'S
eyes go wide and he lets out a whimpering SCREAM. The GUARDS
open a path and NICK appears. His knees won't support him and
the GUARD who is holding him throws him on the floor.

		MERLE
	Listen to me, Sal. Do it! You have
	to do it!

The GUARD who delivered NICK jerks SAL to his feet and drags
him of f to the table.

INT. THATCHED HUT - TABLE AREA - DAY

SAL is thrown in the chair. A SOUTH VIETNAMESE is placed
opposite him. The SOUTH VIETNAMESE is a kid, even younger
than SAL, and he is trembling with terror.

		SAL
	Hey, listen, you can do it.
		(Sal nods, smiles)
	Believe me, you can do it. We can
	both do it. Then we go home, see?
	Then we go home!

SAL looks down. The pistol is ending its spin and the muzzle
comes up pointing at the SOUTH VIETNAMESE. The SOUTH
VIETNAMESE stares at the gun and tears begin to fill his
eyes. The GUARDS begin yelling at him, urging him on and then
SAL gives him a SMILE OF SUCH UNWAVERING FAITH that the SOUTH
VIETNAMESE picks up the gun, fumbles the cylinder around,
cocks it and puts it to his temple. For a moment SAL and the
SOUTH VIETNAMESE look at each other. THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE IS
TAKING HIS FAITH STRAIGHT OUT OF SAL'S EYES AND NOW SAL GIVES
HIM ANOTHER ENCOURAGING NOD.

The SOUTH VIETNAMESE BOY squeezes the trigger. THERE IS AN
EXPLOSION AND HIS HEAD DISINTEGRATES WITH A ROAR.

SAL sits motionless, his jaw hanging open and his face formed
in an expression of terrible puzzlement. Then his face begins
to move, begins to twitch, as if the muscles were trying to
discover a frown. SAL looks around. He looks back again at
the place where his friend was sitting and he begins to cry.

INT. TIGER CAGE - HEAVY RAIN - FOLLOWING DAY

A half-dozen SOUTH VIETNAMESE sit huddled together in the
muck on the uphill side. A seventh lies sprawled on his back,
DEAD. The rain pours through the few leaves placed on the
roof and splashes in great cascades in the middle of the
floor.

On the downhill side are SAL, NICK and MERLE. SAL is in a
fetal position, gripping his knees and rocking himself back
and forth. His eyes are vacant and his face is fixed in an
expression of horror, as if he were still watching the boy at
the table blow himself away. Beside SAL is NICK. NICK sits
slumped against the bamboo. One knee is raised and he is
picking at the threads of his trousers where they have torn
at the knee.

MERLE IS STANDING, GRIPPING THE BAMBOO WALLS OF THE CAGE AND
LOOKING OUT AT THE "PITS".

EXT. THE PITS - MERLE'S POV - HEAVY RAIN - DAY

The pits are about twenty feet away. Running mud and water
gurgle into them, coming out through shallow trenches on the
downhill side. There are fewer hands than the day before, far
fewer. The nearest pit only has one pair and as MERLE watches
he sees that these hands are struggling to keep their grip.

SUDDENLY ONE OF THE HANDS SLIPS AWAY. THE HAND COMES BACK FOR
A MOMENT, THEN BOTH HANDS DISAPPEAR.

INT. TIGER CAGE - HEAVY RAIN - DAY

MERLE turns away from the "pits". He looks down at SAL, then
he looks at NICK. His expression is one of exasperation, as
if he had been having a long argument.

		MERLE
	I'm telling you, Nick, no one's
	going to come.

		NICK
	What are you, God?

		MERLE
	Listen, asshole, it's up to us!

		NICK
	They bombed last night, right?
	Didn't they bomb? If they bombed
	last night, they could bomb
	tonight. They could be up there
	right now!

		MERLE
	What are you, hoping?

		NICK
	What else?

		MERLE
	I thought you might be praying.

		NICK
	I'm doing that too.

		MERLE
	I suppose you wish you were
	somewhere else?

		NICK
	What do you think?

		MERLE
	Nick, you're wasting your time...
	Listen to me! You're wasting your
	time! This is no fucking time for
	hoping or praying or wishing or any
	other shit! This is it. Here we
	are... And we gotta get out!

		NICK
	You're right... Okay, you're right.

		MERLE
		(grabs him)
	Get off your ass, Nick. Get off
	your fucking ass and stand up!!!

		NICK
		(stands)
	Okay, okay!
		(he straightens his
		 shoulders)
	Okay. Okay, you're right... What
	about Sal?

		MERLE
	Forget Sal.

		NICK
	What do you mean?

		MERLE
	I mean forget Sal... Sal can't take
	it, Nick.

		NICK
	Forget Sal?

		MERLE
	Forget Sal... Listen to me --
	forget Sal! I've been working on
	Sal since dawn, Nick. Sal's in a
	dream and he won't come out.
	LISTEN!!! From here on you gotta go
	for you. You hear me? For you!

		NICK
	Merle...

		MERLE
	LISTEN, NICK! GET IT THROUGH YOUR
	HEAD OR YOU AND ME ARE BOTH DEAD
	TOO!

A shout comes from the thatched hut. The SOUTH VIETNAMESE
whip around in fright. MERLE and NICK turn.

Through the bars of the "tiger cage" we see the V.C. GUARDS
coming down from the thatched hut. The GUARDS are all
drinking beer again and the GUARD IN CHARGE is waving the
pearl-handled revolver.

NICK looks at MERLE. The sight has totally unnerved him.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
		(calm)
	We gotta play with more bullets.

		NICK
	We what?

		MERLE
	We gotta play with more bullets,
	Nick. It's the only way.

		NICK
	More bullets in the gun?

		MERLE
		(even)
	More bullets in the gun... The
	trouble is that still leaves one of
	us with his hands tied up, so that
	means we gotta play each other.

		NICK
		(numb)
	With more bullets?... Against each
	other?... Are you crazy!!! Are you
	fucking nuts!!!

		MERLE
	Nick... NICK!!! It's the only
	chance we've got!

NICK stares at MERLE. Rain is pouring off them in rivulets
and the VOICES of the approaching GUARDS are getting louder.

		NICK
	How many bullets?

		MERLE
		(watching him)
	Three bullets -- minimum.

		NICK
		(panic)
	No way. No fucking way!

		MERLE
		(evenly, holding him with
		 his eyes)
	I'll pick the moment, Nick. The
	game goes on until I move. When I
	start shooting, go for the nearest
	guard and get his gun.

		NICK
	No. No way!

		MERLE
	When you get the AK, open up. You
	got me? Open up.

		NICK
		(screaming)
	YOU'RE CRAZY!!!... NO WAY!... NOW
	YOU'RE CRAZY!!! YOU'RE COMPLETELY
	CRAZY!!!

The GUARDS begin screaming orders from outside the cage and
ONE OF THEM lets off a blast of automatic rifle fire which
shreds the bamboo roof just above the PRISONERS' heads. NICK
and MERLE grab SAL and drag him to the door.

EXT. CLEARING IN THE JUNGLE - HEAVY RAIN - DAY

As the PRISONERS emerge from the "tiger cage" the GUARDS
smash them with their rifle butts, screaming orders. In the
melee SAL is separated from NICK and MERLE, both of whom are
knocked to the ground by furious blows. When they get to
their feet they see that SAL is wandering off alone in the
direction of the "pits". One of the GUARDS spots SAL and
clubs him down.

SAL gets up and begins wandering off again. The GUARD clubs
him down again, turns to the GUARD IN CHARGE and begins
complaining. The GUARD IN CHARGE dispatches a SECOND GUARD to
help the FIRST and the TWO GUARDS open the bamboo grating on
one of the "pits".

MERLE turns to NICK, who is standing beside him.

		MERLE
	It's up to you, Nick. Now it's up
	to you.

EXT. CLEARING IN THE JUNGLE - THE "PITS" - DAY

SAL has absolutely no comprehension of what is about to
happen to him. His eyes are dreamy, far away, as if he had
mentally transported himself to some distant place. There are
great gashes in his head from the blows he has received and
as he stands waiting in the pouring rain he looks exactly
like a very small child who has experienced some terrible
confusion.

Suddenly the GUARD standing beside SAL wrenches him around.

We see the pit now, CLOSE UP. There are four bloated CORPSES
floating in the muck.

We SAL'S FACE, CLOSE UP. He gives a CRY and tries to turn
away.

We see the GUARDS pick SAL up, SCREAMING. We see the SPLASH
as SAL hits the water and then we see him surface between the
bloated CORPSES, STILL SCREAMING, paddling desperately and
trying to find something solid to hod him up.

EXT. CLEARING IN THE JUNGLE - WAITING PRISONERS - DAY

NICK stands motionless, stunned, listening to SAL'S SCREAMS.
MERLE has his attention focused on the GUARD IN CHARGE and
when he glances in their direction MERLE slugs NICK in the
stomach and begins beating him furiously to the ground. NICK
struggles to his feet. MERLE attacks him again and now, as
the GUARD IN CHARGE comes over to see what's going on, MERLE
begins hopping up and down, pointing at NICK, pointing at the
revolver in the GUARD'S hand and screaming.

		MERLE
	Him and me!!! Him and me!!!

The GUARDS look at each other, interested.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	Him and me, goddamn it! Him and me!

INT. THATCHED HUT - HEAVY RAIN - DAY

MERLE and NICK sit facing one another across the rose
patterned kitchen table. The GUARDS are all grinning and even
the SOUTH VIETNAMESE are watching with grim fascination. NICK
has the revolver. He is trembling visibly. Already MERLE has
managed to draw the GUARDS in closer and as NICK spins the
cylinder and cocks the hammer MERLE jumps up and begins
pounding on the table.

		MERLE
	This is it, motherfuckers! Now he's
	going to do it! Watch! You watch!

NICK almost loses what little control is left and his hand
begins shaking violently.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	Look at him! See! This is it and he
	knows it!

Side bets begin changing hands.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	Last chance to lose your money
	there, guys. Goodbye money! Hurry,
	hurry. Here he goes!

NICK puts the revolver against his temple and pulls the
trigger. There is a dull CLICK.

NICK puts the revolver back on the table. His hand is shaking
so badly it falls with a clunk. MERLE grabs it, spins it,
sticks it to his temple and CLICKS OUT, talking all the time:

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	This is stupid! You understand
	stupid? On and on! At this rate
	we'll still be here tomorrow!
		(throws the revolver on
		 the table)
	Wait a minute. I know! Hey, I got
	it. More! Put in more! You
	understand more? More! More
	bullets!
		(he mimes with his
		 fingers)
	Three bullets! You understand
	three? That way BLAM! BOOM!

MERLE hops up and down, laughing maniacally.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	KA-POWIE!!! BA-ROOM!!!... 'Cause I
	want that bastard! Him I want boom!
	Him or me!!!

The GUARD IN CHARGE looks at his COMPANIONS. They all begin
shouting for him to go ahead. The GUARD IN CHARGE purses his
lips, as if imitating a general coming to a decision, and
then nods his assent. The GUARDS all howl. MERLE joins right
in.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	He's terrific! Great fucking guy!

The GUARD IN CHARGE takes the revolver, opens the cylinder
and begins sticking in two more cartridges.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	KA-POW!!! BA-ROOMIE!!!

MERLE hops up and down again, then screams at NICK, jabbing
his finger at him, as if in fury.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	Both of us may have to pull on
	this, so get your shit in fuckin'
	shape!!!
		(to the GUARDS)
	Him or me!!! Now we got it, him or
	me!!!
		(he rubs his hands and
		 sits back down)
	Place your bets, motherfuckers! Now
	we're going! Now we got a game!

The GUARD IN CHARGE places the revolver on the table, spins
it.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	Watch! Now watch! He's going to get
	it. And then KA-POW! BA-ROOMIE!!!

The muzzle stops pointing at MERLE. MERLE scowls, looks over
at the GUARD IN CHARGE. The GUARD IN CHARGE has lifted the
barrel of his AK 47 and is watching him with caution. The
OTHER GUARDS, who are totally caught up in the game, are
yelling and shouting.

		MERLE
	You guys think I'm in trouble,
	right?

MERLE picks up the revolver, spins the cylinder, cocks it...

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	No way! Never!!!
		(he begins to chant)
	MERLE IS MIGHTY! -- HA!
	MERLE IS STRONG! -- HA!
	MERLE IS MAGIC! -- HA!
	MERLE LIVES LONG!
	Lemme hear it. Come on,
	motherfuckers, lemme hear it!

MERLE starts it again. The GUARDS who are bett ing on him
JOIN IN:

		MERLE (CONT'D)
		(with GUARDS)
	MERLE IS MIGHTY! -- HA!
	MERLE IS STRONG! -- HA!
	MERLE IS MAGIC! -- HA!
	MERLE LIVES LONG!

MERLE takes a glance at the GUARD IN CHARGE again. The GUARD
IN CHARGE is still eyeing him with caution.

MERLE places the revolver to his temple... and CLICKS into an
empty chamber.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	See! Nothing to it.

He pushes the gun across to NICK. Then he stabs his finger at
him, screaming again, as if in a fit of rage.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	You got an empty chamber and it's
	in your mind! Just put that empty
	chamber in the gun!

NICK looks down at the revolver and picks it up. He stares at
MERLE for a moment. Then he spins the cylinder, cocks the
hammer, Puts it to his head... and CLICKS into an empty
chamber.

The GUARDS let out expressions of disbelief. Those betting on
NICK begin taunting those betting on MERLE.

MERLE sits motionless, as if stunned, as if utterly defeated,
his brow furrowed in a mighty frown.

NICK pushes the revolver across the table. His face is
twitching but he gives the gesture a certain flair, as if
throwing back a challenge.

MERLE stares at the revolver -- stares at it with an
expression of utter gloom. Then he reaches out, takes the
revolver in his hand and pulls it toward him, as if he no
longer possessed the strength to pick it up.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
		(gloom)
	Who's for Merle?
		(he thumps his fist on the
		 table)
	Is anyone for Merle???

MERLE roams a glowering eve over the watching GUARDS, as if
suddenly discovering himself among traitors. Slowly, he
pushes himself to his feet. The gun is still on the table,
still in his right hand, and as he gets up he lets his body
sag over it.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	Who here is for Merle...?

There is absolute silence now except for the drumming of the
rain. It is as if the war had disappeared, vanished. The
GUARDS stand motionless, hardly breathing, so captivated by
MERLE'S performance that they suddenly resemble little
children.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	Who... here... is for Merle...?

MERLE begins his chant again. His voice is low, very
dramatic, and the GUARD IN CHARGE joins right in.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
		(with GUARDS)
	MERLE IS MIGHTY! -- HA!
	MERLE IS STRONG! -- HA!
	MERLE IS MAGIC -- HA!

MERLE snaps the revolver level in his hand and BLASTS the
GUARD IN CHARGE, hitting him full in the face. At the same
time NICK throws himself into the GUARD who is standing
behind him, spins and slams the GUARD'S AK 47 into his chin.
TWO MORE SHOTS BLAST OUT FROM MERLE'S .45 and we see TWO
GUARDS crash over the kitchen table. NICK now opens up with
AK 47, and as MERLE backs off beside him, also with an AK 47,
they GUN the remaining GUARDS to the floor.

It is over in an instant. The BODIES lie in a bloody, tangled
mess under a pathetic paper lantern. The rain drones on --
uninterrupted, undiminished, eternal...

EXT. CLEARING IN THE JUNGLE - HEAVY RAIN - DAY

Barely visible against the dripping foliage -- like a shadow
is a startled V.C. SOLDIER. The man takes a half-step
forward, unslings his rifle and OPENS FIRE.

INT. THATCHED HUT - DAY

The SOUTH VIETNAMESE PRISONERS are hit where they stand. NICK
spins, BADLY WOUNDED. MERLE throws himself on the floor and
lets go with the AK 47.

EXT. BAMBOO GROVE - HEAVY RAIN - DAY

MERLE appears carrying NICK on his back. NICK is unconscious
and the effort that MERLE has expended to get him this far
can be measured in MERLE'S eves, which burn like dead coals.
As MERLE approaches, traversing the bamboo grove along the
side of a steep hill, we suddenly see SAL, stumbling along
behind and attached to MERLE by a short rope.

MERLE comes to a stop, unshoulders NICK and lays him on the
ground. As MERLE stands looking at NICK, gasping for breath,
SAL hunches down and stares at the endless trunks of bamboo
with an expression of pure terror.

		SAL
	Where are we going, Merle? Are we
	going home?

There is a sound, so faint as to be almost imperceptible.
MERLE throws himself on SAL, slamming one hand across his
mouth and raising the other in case he has to silence NICK.

For a moment there is nothing -- silence. The rain drones on
and we can hear NICK'S breath, which comes in short, shallow
rasps.

The sound comes again and suddenly a PLATOON OF V.C. SOLDIERS
appear, coming down through the trees. Their passage is
almost completely silent and they go by on both sides, moving
down the hill.

CAMERA CLOSES SLOWLY ON MERLE'S FACE. His gums are bleeding
and his skin is drawn tight so that every bone stands out in
his skull. His teeth are bared, his eyes are hollow and he
looks within a hair's breadth of being completely mad.

EXT. CRATERED ROADSIDE - NIGHT

A huge battle is taking place nearby. The earth trembles and
shakes and gigantic explosions intermittently light the sky.

MERLE staggers down a ravine with NICK, loses his footing and
slides to the bottom where he lies in the mud, motionless,
too tired to move.

SAL comes down behind. He is hunched over, like a gnome. The
rope which MERLE has tied around his neck drags in the mud
and his eyes are huge with terror.

		SAL
	Merle?

		MERLE
		(a whisper)
	Right here.

SAL crouches down in the mud.

		SAL
	Where are we going, Merle? Are we
	going home?

		MERLE
		(barely moving his lips)
	Right here.

Another explosion lights the sky, this one much closer. In
the flash we see that a red American car is stranded in the
middle of the road. There is another explosion and another
flash. The car is dusty, spattered with mud, but otherwise it
appears miraculously unharmed.

NICK'S breath rattles in his throat. MERLE, who lies beside
NICK, holding him, has closed his eyes. SAL, who is the only
one who has seen the car, stares at it hard, and for a long
time, trying it out with one eye and then the other.

		SAL
	Merle?

No answer.

		SAL (CONT'D)
	Merle?

Still no answer. SAL goes over to MERLE and shakes him.
Getting no response he crosses fearfully toward the
automobile. When he gets to within a foot of it, he reaches
out and touches it.

		SAL (CONT'D)
	Merle. Merle, a car!

As the flashes continue to light up the sky, SAL peers at the
tires and begins kicking them.

		SAL (CONT'D)
	Hey! Hey, gee!

SAL crosses to the window and looks in. There is no damage
whatsoever, the keys are dangling from the ignition. SAL
pulls open the door and climbs in. He pumps the accelerator,
hits the starter...

THERE IS A FLASH OF FIRE, THEN A HUGE EXPLOSION AND THE CAR
GOES UP IN A FIREBALL OF FLAME.

EXT. CRATERED ROADSIDE - BURNING CAR - NIGHT

MERLE has dragged SAL from the car and thrown him in the
ditch below NICK. SAL is horribly burned and MERLE kneels
over him -- out of breath, tears streaming from his cavernous
eyes -- howling with helpless rage.

		MERLE
	Damn it!!! God damn it!!!

MERLE looks down at SAL. SAL'S face in a mass of raw flesh
but his eyes look up at MERLE with lunatic, unwavering trust.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
	Sal!
		(more gently)
	Sal... Goddamn it, Sal, don't you
	know anything?

		SAL
	Where are we going, Merle? Are we
	going home?

		MERLE
		(nods)
	Sure. Sure, Sal. We're going home.

EXT. CRATERED ROADSIDE - FOLLOWING DAY

REFUGEES are streaming down the road in a desperate,
frightened human torrent. There is every imaginable means of
conveyance -- from bullock carts to motorbikes -- but the
vast majority, carrying their meager belongings, are fleeing
on foot. The burned-out car is still in the middle of the
road and the great human tide streams around it, as if it
were an island. In the distance comes the sound of machine
gun fire and mortars are coming in nearby. MEDVAC helicopters
clatter overhead with wounded strapped to baskets on the
skids. Now and then an ARMY CONVOY comes through, blasting
the REFUGEES into the ditch.

MERLE sits alone on the embankment by the side of the road.
NICK and SAL are gone and the area is littered with fresh
bandage packages and throw-away medical supplies. Suddenly a
jeep pulls up with a two-star GENERAL in it.

		GENERAL
	Where's your unit, soldier?

MERLE stares at the GENERAL -- blankly, without
comprehension. Finally, after a long moment, he gives a
slight shrug.

		GENERAL
		(to his DRIVER)
	C'mon. We'll take him along.

The GENERAL and the DRIVER get out and start up the
embankment toward MERLE.

		GENERAL (CONT'D)
	Little R and R and you'll be
	standing tall again, son... Damn,
	this is steep!

		DRIVER
	Uh-oh. Sir.

The GENERAL looks up at MERLE. MERLE is holding the pearl
handled revolver and he cocks the hammer with an audible
click.

		GENERAL
	Uh-oh.

The GENERAL and the DRIVER turn tail, scramble back down the
embankment and pile in the jeep.

		GENERAL (CONT'D)
		(as they take off)
	Y'know, there's more fucking
	maniacs coming out of this
	conflict...

MERLE watches them go without expression. On the road below
the REFUGEES stream past -- by the hundreds, by the
thousands, by the tens of thousands. For a long moment MERLE
watches, then he jams the gun in his pants and stands.

EXT. EVACUATION ROUTE - DAY

MERLE is walking with the fleeing REFUGEES. CAMERA PANS,
HOLDING ON MERLE as he grows smaller and smaller -- to a
speck in the vast human torrent.

				DISSOLVE TO:

INT. OUT-PATIENT ROOM - U.S. MILITARY HOSPITAL - SAIGON - DAY

The room is tiny, a cubicle furnished with a chair. NICK is
alone, standing at the window looking out. He wears ill
fitting civilian clothes whose colors are too bright for-the
pallor of his skin. Around his neck is a piece of plastic on
which is stapled a colored paper marker. Departing aircraft
thunder overhead and there is the sound of some nearby
hydraulic mechanism.

EXT. LOADING RAMP (NICK'S POV) - U.S. MILITARY HOSPITAL - DAY

Black BODY BAGS are laid out in countless rows on the hot
concrete TWO PFC's are stacking them on pallets and MORE
PFC's, driving hydraulic LIFTERS, are loading the pallets
into the cavernous hold of a huge JET TRANSPORT.

INT. OUT-PATIENT ROOM - U.S. MILITARY HOSPITAL - DAY

NICK turns away from the window and sits down in the chair.
Suddenly the door bursts open and a harassed DOCTOR comes in.

		DOCTOR
	Is your name Solomon?

NICK shakes his head.

		DOCTOR (CONT'D)
	Are you sure?

NICK nods.

		DOCTOR (CONT'D)
	Lemme see this.

The DOCTOR looks at the paper marker on NICK's neck.

		DOCTOR (CONT'D)
	Is this yours?

NICK nods.

		DOCTOR (CONT'D)
	This isn't yours. This can't be
	yours! I'm going to take this one
	off and cut it up...
		(he extracts a pair of
		 scissors and does so)
	Shred it... so no one gets a hold
	of it. What I'm going to do now,
	I'm going to give you this one.
		(he staples a new marker
		 around NICK's neck)
	There. How's that? Does that feel
	better?

NICK nods. The DOCTOR directs a finger at him.

		DOCTOR (CONT'D)
	That one's yours.

The DOCTOR slams back out the door. Another jet thunders
overhead. The hydraulic LIFTERS on the loading ramp shriek
and whine...

NICK reaches for the new paper marker on his neck and peers
down at it from the corner of his eye. It seems to remind him
of something and he takes out his wallet. In his wallet is a
PHOTOGRAPH of LINDA. NICK peers at the photograph intently,
then closes his wallet and puts it away.

INT. U.S. ARMY TELEPHONE CENTER - SAIGON - DAY

Banks of telephones line the wall. Stretching out from the
telephones are long, ragged lines of SERVICEMEN waiting to
call home. The room is huge, full of echoes. Re-enlistment
posters are plastered everywhere and CANNED LATIN MUSIC is
playing.

NICK stands in one of the lines with only one person in front
of him. He looks anxious. He takes out his wallet again,
peers intently at LINDA'S PHOTOGRAPH, then puts it back.
NICK takes a half-step forward -- staring at the telephone --
and then he stops, frozen with fear.

		GUM CHEWER BEHIND
	Go on, babe. Take it. 'S all yours!

		NICK
		(mumbles)
	You go ahead.

CAMERA HOLDS ON NICK as he turns out of the line and heads
for the exit under a long row of CLOCKS.

EXT. BUSY STREET - SAIGON - DAY

NICK comes along the sidewalk in a CROWD OF PEDESTRIANS. He
is drunk and he moves aimlessly, as if he had been drifting
along for hours. As he comes to a stop, staring at a SOUTH
VIETNAMESE who has lost both legs, he fumbles in his pocket
for a pint of whiskey, empties the bottle and drops it in the
gutter. Suddenly, across the street, something catches his
eye.

		NICK
		(calling)
	Sal...! Sal!!!

NICK throws himself into the traffic, headlong, without even
looking.

Vehicles swerve and screech to a stop. NICK dodges between
them, gains the sidewalk on the other side and claps his hand
on the back of a passing SOLDIER. The SOLDIER turns. It is
not SAL at all and the resemblance is not even close.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	Sorry... Thought you were someone
	else.

The SOLDIER continues on his way. The CROWD streams on, a sea
of bobbing, brilliant color. NICK gropes in his pocket and
produces another pint bottle. He unscrews the cap and downs a
long swallow.

INT. BAR - SAIGON - NIGHT

The place is very dark. LOUD MUSIC is playing. Partially-clad
BAR GIRLS are dancing with the CUSTOMERS, while above, on a
kind of trapeze, NAKED GIRLS are performing obscene
contortions.

NICK sits at one of the tables. By now he is very drunk and a
BAR GIRL is giving him her undivided attention.

		NICK
	I love Linda, see. I love Linda
	more than I can even say.

		BAR GIRL
	Everybody love Linda.

		NICK
	That's right. That's exactly what I
	mean!

		BAR GIRL
	I love Linda. Myself, I love Linda
	so much!

		NICK
	Only,good people love Linda, see.
	What Linda has, Linda --

		BAR GIRL
		(in his ear)
	How you like to have nice fuck with
	Linda? You like that? Special,
	crazy fuck just like with Linda?

		NICK
		(stares at her)
	You mean...?

		BAR GIRL
	I show you. Come. You come.
		(pulls him to his feet)
	Linda have special, crazy fuck.
	That right?

NICK nods. He looks as if he might be about to cry.

		BAR GIRL (CONT'D)
	I give you special, crazy fuck,
	just like Linda. Come. You come.
	Linda cry, make crazy moan?

NICK nods.

		BAR GIRL (CONT'D)
	I give you cry, crazy moan. Come.
	You come.

INT. CORRIDOR - BAR - NIGHT

The BAR GIRL comes around the corner with NICK, guiding him
to a flight of narrow stairs. She has one hand around his
waist and the other down the front of his pants.

		BAR GIRL
	You like to call me Linda now?

		NICK
	Linda, yeah.

		BAR GIRL
	You call me Linda, just like home.

Suddenly NICK draws to a stop, staring at a small window at
the end of the corridor. He tears himself loose from the BAR
GIRL and pushes up against the glass.

EXT. NARROW STREET (NICK'S POV) - NIGHT

Seated on the sidewalk against the wall of the opposite
building is an OLD MAN surrounded by a collection of white
ceramic elephants. A truck roars by in front of him.
Motorcycles sputter past and PEDESTRIANS hurry in both
directions. The OLD MAN sits motionless, like the guardian of
some timeless, silent kingdom.

INT. CORRIDOR - BAR - NIGHT

NICK spins away from the window.

		NICK
	Hey... Hey, elephants! Look at
	those elephants!

The BAR GIRL stares at him.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	Linda loves elephants! Linda... she
	loves 'em!

NICK turns and charges back down the corridor with the BAR
GIRL hot on his tail.

		BAR GIRL
	Wait! First I give you special
	fuck!

		NICK
	Elephants! Make way... I gotta get
	elephants!

EXT. NARROW STREET - NIGHT

NICK paces up and down in front of the OLD MAN and his
ceramic elephants.

		NICK
	Great... These are great. I wanna
	tell you these are great elephants!
	I'm going home, see... Stateside in
	a few days and my wife Linda, she
	loves elephants. She... she has a
	thing for elephants because
	elephants... Elephants go on. You
	know what I mean? They go right on.
	I don't know if they cry. Maybe at
	night. I mean... What I mean is my
	two best buddies are dead, see,
	MIA, who knows, and they would have
	liked some elephants also
	because... How much are these
	elephants? I mean let's talk
	elephant.
		(notices a GROUP OF STREET
		 URCHINS)
	Hey you guys...! Over here! Come
	over here and carry elephants!

The STREET URCHINS come running. They are ragged,
malnourished, ranging in age from about six to nine. They are
covered with sores. One of them ~as lost an eye and another
has lost a hand.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	Everyone take an elephant!
		(to the YOUNGEST URCHIN)
	You know how to carry an elephant?
		(the URCHIN nods)
	That's what I thought. Right off I
	figured you as that kind of guy.
	Hey, wait a minute, I gotta get
	change. Take an elephant! Everyone
	take an elephant and then form up.
	Right here. Over here, like this,
	in a nice long elephant line...
	Good. That's good. Man, look at all
	these elephants! One, two, three,
	four, five, six, seven, eight,
	nine, ten... eleven elephants!
		(surveys them)
	Hey, but you gotta stand tall to
	carry elephants.
		(he illustrates)
	Better. That's better. I mean...
	God damn, I mean that's elephants
	now! Wait. Now you wait while I get
	change.

NICK dives into a nearby bar.

INT. NEARBY BAR - NIGHT

The place is as dark as the one before. MUSIC BLASTS from a
jukebox and two vaseline-covered GIRLS are dancing. As NICK
crosses to the bar to get change there is a WHISTLING SCREAM
and then the FRONT WALL OF THE BUILDING DISINTEGRATES IN A
ROAR OF NOISE.

NICK pulls himself out of the debris. There is absolute
silence in the WRECKED BAR but rockets are coming in all over
the city and the EXPLOSIONS rumble and roar.

EXT. NARROW STREET AFTER ROCKET EXPLOSION - NIGHT

A nearby building is burning fiercely. The street is deserted
except for the sprawled CORPSES of the STREET URCHINS which
lie this way and that, like broken dolls.

NICK walks out past the CORPSES. The street is littered with
fragments of broken ceramic -- gleaming, pure white, like
chunks of snow.

EXT. DESERTED STREET - SAIGON - NIGHT

The sky is alight with fires. Now and then HUGE EXPLOSIONS
rock the night and SIRENS wail.

A lone figure appears, walking down the middle of the street.
As the figure approaches we see that it is NICK.

		NICK
		(toneless, over and over)
	Hey, hey, the wind does blow.
	Hey, hey, the snow does snow.
	Hey, hey, the rain does rain...

NICK swallows, as if to force back some overwhelming emotion.
Then, squatting down under a lamp post, he begins again.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	Hey, hey, the wind does blow.
	Hey, hey, the snow does snow...

NICK takes out his wallet, opens it hurriedly to the
PHOTOGRAPH OF LINDA and peers at it with a kind of ferocious
determination, as if this link were the last, as if by
staring at it hard he could make it hold.

		NICK (CONT'D)
		(his voice thin, cracking)
	Hey, hey, the wind does blow.
	Hey, hey, the snow does snow --

There is the sharp report of a pistol SHOT and then, as NICK
spins, staring at a shuttered building, there is the
unmistakable sound of APPLAUSE.

NICK stares at the building for a long moment, then he
crosses toward it.

EXT. YARD BEHIND BUILDING - SAIGON - NIGHT

A tiny light glows inside a paper lantern. Lying on the
around are three CORPSES, all of them Asian, all of them
expensively dressed and all of them with their heads blown
off. As NICK stands looking at them a door comes open on the
back of the building,and TWO BURLY MEN bring out another
corpse. The body is that of a young American. Like the Asians
he is expensively dressed and he is dead from a bullet in the
right temple.

		MAN (V.O.)
	If you are brave and lucky I can
	make you rich.

NICK turns. A MAN is standing in the shadows of a small grape
arbor, eyeing him with a look of cold amusement. The MAN'S
accent is French. Beside him, on a small white table, is a
bottle of champagne and several glasses.

		MAN (CONT'D)
	You have played?

NICK stares at the MAN, nods.

		MAN (CONT'D)
	Once you have played it is not so
	hard. Cigarette?

NICK shakes his head.

		MAN (CONT'D)
	You seem... disturbed.

		NICK
	I... No. You do this for money?

		MAN
	Mais certainment... A great deal of
	money. Naturally I do not do it
	myself. I myself do not possess the
	nerve.
		(smiles)
	But I am always... how do you
	say... looking out for those who
	do... It is a thing quite rare.
	Champagne perhaps? Tch, tch. Don't
	say no. When a man says no to
	champagne, he says no to life and
	that no man must ever do.
		(gives NICK a glass)
	Where did you play?

		NICK
	Up north.

		MAN
	Ah yes. Of course... So few
	survive.
		(smiles)
	La creme de la creme... How did you
	obtain release?

		NICK
	Playing.

		MAN
		(raises his eyebrows)
	Playing?

		NICK
	We... Three bullets.

		MAN
	And then you...

The MAN makes a clicking sound, three times, as if firing a
pistol. NICK nods.

		MAN (CONT'D)
	How extremely clever. That is
	really most extraordinaire... Allow
	me please to introduce myself. I am
	Armand... And you are?

		NICK
	Nick.

		ARMAND
	Nick. C'est extraordinaire! Do you
	know that I have a cousin who is
	called Nicholas and a nephew
	Nickolai. So you are, comme on dit,
	en famille. In the family.

There is another SHOT from inside and another round of
APPLAUSE.

		NICK
	I have to go.

		ARMAND
	But you must come in.

		NICK
	No, I --

		ARMAND
	But I insist.

		NICK
	I have to go.

		ARMAND
	You are frightened, no?

NICK nods.

		ARMAND (CONT'D)
	Of what is there to be afraid? The
	war? The war is no problem. It is a
	joke, a silly thing. I make one
	call and get you out.

ARMAND refills NICK's glass. NICK looks at it. The glass is
as thin as paper and the sparkling bubbles dance and hiss.
NICK lifts the glass and empties in one swallow.

		NICK
	See, I'm going home.

		ARMAND
	Ah yes. Of course.
		(smiles)
	To the girl who waits.

		NICK
		(gives him a look and
		 sits)
	Yeah... Do you mind if I sit?

		ARMAND
	But of course! Please make yourself
	comfortable. Perhaps you would
	enjoy some fresh caviar, or une
	petite glace, or --?

		NICK
		(weary, shaking his head)
	No. None of that.

		ARMAND
	Unfortunately I must now go in, but
	I leave you my card. Naturellement
	I pay my players cash American.
	Just so you know.

ARMAND disappears in the darkness. Then his VOICE comes
again.

		ARMAND (V.O.) (CONT'D)
	However, should you prefer German
	marks, or perhaps Swiss francs,
	this of course can be arranged.
	Everything can be arranged.

ARMAND moves around the side of the building and the sound of
his FOOTSTEPS fades away. The TWO BURLY MEN come lurching
with another CORPSE. Laughter comes from inside the building
and there is a glimpse of AN ELEGANTLY DRESSED WOMAN seated
at a cafe table. The BURLY MEN return to the door and shut it
tight. In the distance the sky goes up in a huge flash of
fire and then the sound of the EXPLOSION rolls across the
city like a great dead wind.

				DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. NICK'S TRAILER - WINTER - DUSK

The trailer is all decked out with bunting and stuck, like a
plum cake, with tiny American flags. Stretching from the
trailer to the side of a house across the street is a huge,
hand-lettered banner which says "WELCOME HOME NICK!" and it
whips and it snaps in the cold winter wind.

NICK's battered old shark-finned Cadillac is in the yard.
Alongside it are a bunch of newer cars and PEOPLE are coming
from all directions, spilling in and out of the trailer and
congregating in excited, foot-stomping, half-frozen groups.

EXT. SERIES OF SHOTS - COLUMBINE AREA - DUSK

We see the OLD PRIEST on his way from the church. We see the
OLDER WOMEN, wrapped in shawls and carrying cakes and
cookies, trudging up the hill. We see ALBERT, JOHN and a
bunch of STEELWORKERS, all of them half-bombed, dragging two
cases of beer on a child's sled. We see LINDA peering out the
trailer window, pale and anxious-looking. We see VINCE, who
is unofficial lookout, jumping up and down at the approach of
every car and screaming, "This is it! This is Nick!" and
then, when it isn't, saying, "Not yet! Just hold your water,
I'll tell you when!"

And we see an empty street into which SIX VETS from the VFW
Post come tottering. The VETS are all in their old uniforms.
While three of them attempt to make MUSIC on a BASS DRUM, a
FIFE and an old Army BUGLE, the other three attempt to sing.

		VETS
	Three cheers for the red, white and
	blue...!

		VET #1
	This is hard.

		VET # 2
	Christ Almighty, it's fifty years!

		VETS
	Three cheers for the red, white and
	blue...

INT. TAXICAB - DUSK

NICK sits hunched forward in the back seat surrounded by
unwrapped cartons containing electric appliances he has
bought for LINDA. NICK looks nervous, VERY NERVOUS.

Suddenly, as the cab comes over the crest of a hill, the
trailer looms into sight, straight ahead, with VINCE hopping
up and down in the snow and the OLD VETS all marking time
under the flapping banner.

		CAB DRIVER
	Whadda welcome! Will you lookit...
	Whadda welcome!

NICK stares at the approaching trailer.

		NICK
	That's not it.

		CAB DRIVER
	What're you, crazy? That's not
	it??? You said a trailer. You said--

		NICK
	That's not it. Keep going. Go
	straight.

		CAB DRIVER
	Hey, now listen. Now you said --

		NICK
	I'm telling you that's not it! Now
	keep going!

NICK throws himself down on the floor.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	Just keep going! Just keep going
	straight!

EXT. NICK'S TRAILER - DUSK

LINDA is outside, standing with VINCE and ALBERT.

		VINCE
	This is him. I'm telling you, this
	is Nick!

The TAXICAB comes thudding by. LINDA, VINCE and ALBERT all
watch as it disappears over a rise.

		ALBERT
		(to VINCE)
	I thought that was it.

		VINCE
	So he's in the next one, Albert. I
	mean take it easy. I mean you're
	driving everybody nuts!

		VETS (V.O.)
		(singing raggedly)
	Three cheers for the red, white and
	blue...!

		VINCE
		(to LINDA)
	You okay?

LINDA gives a thin smile.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
	It's gonna be the next one. Okay?

LINDA nods.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
	It's gotta be the next one. I mean
	it's gotta be! Right, Albert?

		ALBERT
	Fuckin' A. It's gotta!

		VINCE
	It's gotta!

EXT. MOTEL - DUSK

A huge neon sign stands against the grey sky, buzzing
angrily, as if it were full of bees.

The TAXI DRIVER comes out of one of the units, gets back in
his cab and pulls away.

INT. MOTEL - NICK'S UNIT - DUSK

NICK stands in the doorway where the driver has left him. His
duffle bag and the cartons of electric appliances are piled
along the wall by his feet. His head is thrown back and he is
draining a bottle of whiskey, gulping it down in great raw
swallows. .

NICK lowers the bottle, catches his breath and goes at it
again. This time, as he lowers the bottle, the stark panic is
gone, but there is still fear -- blind, nameless fear, like
that of an animal run to the ground.

NICK crosses to the window, grips the frame with both hands
and looks out.

EXT. THE STEEL MILL FROM THE MOTEL (NICK'S POV) - DUSK

The five great stacks trail ribbons of black smoke across the
pale winter sky, Steam billows upward in huge, silver-edged
clouds and there is the flash and gleam of fire.

INT. MOTEL - NICK'S UNIT - DUSK

NICK turns back to the room. He stares at it blankly --
stares at the bed, stares at the bureau, stares at the chair,
then he picks up the bottle, closes his eyes and begins
gulping down whiskey -- gulping it hard, fast, as hard and
fast as he can.

EXT. NICK'S TRAILER - NEW ANGLE - DAWN

The banner stretching to the house across the street has been
whipped to shreds by the wind. In the yard, parked beside
NICK's black Cadillac, is another car of about the same
vintage. There is a case of beer on its roof, the windows are
entirely frosted over and the engine is running. After a
moment TWO STEELWORKERS come down the street and knock on the
trailer door. TWO OLDER WOMEN emerge, putting on their coats,
and then LINDA comes to the door and tells the STEELWORKERS
she has no news. The STEELWORKERS and the OLDER WOMEN start
off, but now one of the WOMEN points to the frosted up car.
The STEELWORKERS go back, pound on the roof of the frosted up
car, pull open a few doors and go on their way. First thing
out is a GIRL. Next thing out is a SECOND GIRL. Their dresses
are rumpled and half-undone. Neither one has a coat and the
SECOND GIRL is missing a shoe. The GIRLS both plunge back
inside the car, where howling and cursing can now be heard.
The GIRLS both retrieve their coats. The SECOND GIRL gets her
missing shoe, plus a bra and a pair of panties.
She returns the panties to the FIRST GIRL, puts on her shoe
and they both take off at a fast trot. As the two GIRLS leave
there is a cascade of empty beer cans and ALBERT, VINCE and
JOHN all stagger out -- bleary-eyed, hung-over, half
undressed and freezing. LINDA comes out of the trailer with
coffee, but just as she emerges the whistle at the mill goes
off. ALBERT and VINCE begin yelling at each other, yelling at
JOHN and yelling at LINDA. Then they throw themselves back in
the car and start off. The case of beer on the roof crashes
to the street. They stop, pile out, pick up the cans, heave
them in the back seat and take off again.

JOHN says something to LINDA and goes on his way.

LINDA stands in the yard, alone, with the three cups of
coffee.

EXT. ADJOINING OVERLOOK - DAWN

NICK stands half-way down a rickety wooden stairway,
watching.

EXT. NICK'S TRAILER - ORIGINAL ANGLE - DAWN

LINDA turns and goes back inside the trailer.

EXT. ADJOINING OVERLOOK - DAWN

NICK swallows and starts down the stairway toward the
trailer. He hesitates, pulls the bottle from his pocket,
drains the last of it and tucks it under the stairs.
Straightening up, he claws at his hair, trying to comb it
with his fingers. Then he starts down again.

INT. NICK'S TRAILER - DAWN

Cakes, cookies, six-packs of beer and bottles of wine cover
almost every inch of available space. LINDA sits on the
little settee, wedged between two cases of Coca-Cola and
hunched over a white sweater which she is attempting, with
painful slowness, to knit. LINDA is trying not to cry. She is
trying her God-damnedest.

There is a knock at the door. LINDA freezes. Then, trying to
be totally matter-of-fact, she puts down the sweater, crosses
to the door and opens it.

		NICK
	Guess who.

LINDA stares at him. NICK gives a little laugh and steps in.

		LINDA
		(throws herself in his
		 arms)
	Nick! Oh, Nick, you're back!

She hugs him for a moment, as hard as she can, then they pull
apart.

		LINDA (CONT'D)
	I thought... Oh, Nick, I thought
	you were hurt, some accident. Maybe
	you fell or maybe some car...
		(back in his arms)
	I thought someone stole you away!

		NICK
	No.

		LINDA
	Oh, Nick! Oh I missed you so!

They pull apart.

		LINDA (CONT'D)
	How are you?

		NICK
	Fine. I'm fine. How are you?

		LINDA
	Fine. I just go along, you know.
	Down at the market. Back here. I
	mean it just seems there's a
	million things to do!... Are you
	sure you're all right? I mean, what
	about the wound?

		NICK
		(anger)
	That was nothing. That wasn't
	anything.

		LINDA
	But --

		NICK
	It was just the complications. I
	mean, you take a little thing over
	there and then you get
	complications. I mean all the guys
	had it.

		LINDA
	I made you a sweater.
		(she gets it)
	Here... You have to take that off.

NICK removes his coat. LINDA pulls the sweater over him

		LINDA (CONT'D)
	I couldn't remember your exact
	size.

The sweater is huge, a great rumpled thing reaching almost to
NICK's knees.

		LINDA (CONT'D)
		(smoothly)
	Oh, that's fine. Perfect... It is a
	little too big...
		(she pulls the sweater
		 back off)
	... but I can easily fix that.
	Easily. One thing about wool
	sweaters, they are such a cinch to
	fix.

She crosses to a garbage pail out of NICK's line of sight and
stuffs the sweater in it.

		NICK
	How's the trailer?

		LINDA
	Great. Fine... Once or twice it did
	fall off the blocks. I don't know
	what that's from.

		NICK
	Frost.

		LINDA
	Is that what it is? I couldn't
	figure out.

		NICK
	Did you get hurt? You didn't get
	hurt?

		LINDA
	Oh, no. It just kind of goes thump.
	Would you like a Coke? You don't
	drink Coke. Or maybe you do. What
	about champagne? Let's have
	champagne! I don't think we have
	champagne. Let's have this. See?
	Sparkling. I'll get you an opener.
	Oh, that's right. No opener. Let's
	just have beer. Do you want some
	cheese? Or maybe eggs? Maybe we
	should have coffee.

She begins to sob. CAMERA CLOSES ON HER FACE:

		LINDA (CONT'D)
	Nick? I'm so glad you're alive! I'm
	so happy! I... I just don't know
	what to do!

EXT. COLUMBINE STREET - DAY

NICK and LINDA are some distance away. NICK is shaking hands
with an ENTHUSIASTIC MAN while LINDA stands to one side,
watching his face, and so full of love that she seems about
to burst. ANOTHER MAN comes over. LINDA takes the MAN's arm
and presents him to NICK.

WE CANNOT HEAR WHAT IS BEING SAID. THE ONLY SOUND COMES FROM
THE MILL WHICH LOOMS UP BEHIND THEM OUT THE FROZEN VALLEY
BELOW.

INT. PIZZA PARLOR - TABLE BY WINDOW - DAY

NICK and LINDA sit opposite one another. Across the street a
coal train is rumbling slowly by and NICK is watching it. The
cars are black, interchangable, and they roll on and on.
Suddenly the last car appears. The car passes and there is
silence.

LINDA gives NICK a smile.

		NICK
	It was all for nothing. Do you know
	that? It was all for nothing.

LINDA stares at him. She doesn't know what to say, how to
respond. NICK forces a grin, gestures with his hand and
shrugs. He picks up the check, stands.

		LINDA
	Nick?... I just want to say how
	sorry I am about Sal and about
	Merle. How... I know you loved them
	and I know it's not the same. I
	mean now.

		NICK
	Naw, it's... I mean...

		LINDA
	Maybe... I don't know, if you want
	to talk --

		NICK
	Naw, it's... This guy wants his
	money.

INT. SUPERMARKET - BACK ROOM - DAY

The place is full of crates and boxes. ONE CREW is unloading
a tractor-trailer. ANOTHER CREW is stacking and unpacking.
NICK stands with LINDA and a red-faced, cigar-chewing MANAGER
who is pumping NICK's hand, slapping him on the back and
shouting orders all at the same time.

		MANAGER
	You did a good job, kid. Pettrucio,
	here! You did a good job. Gimme a
	count on these pears! I think we
	got 'em now, know what I mean? The
	pears, the pears! Ask me, we got
	'em right by the balls, know what I
	mean? Have a cigar. The pears,
	Pettrucio, the pears!!!

He goes off.

		NICK
		(to Linda)
	Does this... I mean, how does this
	job work out?

		LINDA
	Oh, it's great. Fine.

NICK nods. A STOCK BOY comes by and whistles.

		STOCK BOY
	Hi you, hot lips.

		NICK
	What do they... bother you!?

		LINDA
		(takes his arm, laughs)
	No-o-o!

		NICK
	I'll kill 'em. Anybody bothers you,
	I'll kill 'em!

		LINDA
		(gently)
	Nick. It's okay... It's okay.
		(gives him a squeeze,
		 kisses him)
	I have to go now.

NICK nods.

		LINDA (CONT'D)
	Pick me up at eight.

NICK nods again. LINDA hurries off. The MANAGER comes in from
behind, clapping NICK on the shoulder and going for his ear

		MANAGER
	That's one sweet little piece of
	ass. I'm telling you, that's one
	sweet little piece of ass. Who's
	got these pears, God damn it! Who's
	got the count on these goddamn
	pears!

EXT. STEEL MILL PARKING LOT - DAY

NICK stands by the entrance to the mill. It is cold and he
looks as if he had been waiting for some time. Suddenly
STEELWORKERS begin streaming out the doors, heading for their
cars. NICK cranes his neck and then he catches sight of
ALBERT and VINCE.

		NICK
	Hey, Albert!

ALBERT turns. He grabs VINCE and pulls him through the
departing STEELWORKERS.

		VINCE
	What the --!

		ALBERT
	It's Nick!

		VINCE
	Nick...?
		(sees him)
	Jesus, Nick!

VINCE grabs NICK's hand, shakes it. Then ALBERT does the
same.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
	Where the hell were you? We were
	all set -- beer, broads. Right? Am
	I right?

		ALBERT
	Yeah.

		NICK
	I got delayed. I --

		ALBERT
		(hugs him)
	Hey, Nick! God damn!... What've you
	been doin', I mean...

		VINCE
	Fuckin' guy's been shooting slants,
	Albert! I mean, what do you think?

		ALBERT
	I know, but...

		VINCE
	What do you think? You think he's
	been picking flowers? Fuckin' guy's
	been saving your ass, Albert.
	Everybody's ass! Even in Europe!

		ALBERT
	Yeah. Oh, boy, yeah... Jes', you
	must be tired.

		NICK
	I'm fine. Hey, I'm fine.

THEY start for the cars.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	How're you guys... I mean, how've
	you guys been?

		VINCE
	Same old thing. Hey, same like
	always. Nothing's changed. Albert
	is getting fat.

		ALBERT
	Look who's talkin'! Jes'! He got
	married! Vince got married!

		NICK
	Married?

		ALBERT
	Tell him, Vince.

		VINCE
	Yeah. I did. Yeah...What the hell.

VINCE makes a gesture, shrugs.

		NICK
		(after a beat)
	Well, who'd you get married to?

		VINCE
	Aw, it's a long story!

		ALBERT
	Tell him, Vince!

		VINCE
	Well... you remember Cynthia?

		NICK
	Cynthia! Sure.

		VINCE
		(nods)
	That's who.

		NICK
		(fast recovery)
	Cynthia! Hey, that's terrific. I
	mean... Great! That's really great!

		ALBERT
	Show him the gun. Hey, show him the
	gun, Vince.

VINCE looks around. Cars are streaming out of the lot, horns
blaring. VINCE pulls back his coat and shows a .38 Smith and
Weston in a holster on his hip.

		NICK
	What the hell's that for?

		VINCE
	What's it for??

		ALBERT
	He's serious. Vince is fuckin'
	serious!

		NICK
	You mean...?

		VINCE
	Hey, Nick, I mean... This here is
	for the guy that gets caught!

		ALBERT
	Vince thinks... you know...

		NICK
		(nods)
	Hey... hey, let's drink!

INT. JOHN'S BAR - NIGHT

NICK comes through the CROWD OF STEELWORKERS shaking hands.
The STEELWORKERS treat him with immense respect. There are no
cracks; there are no jokes. They squeeze his shoulder, pat
his back, reaching out for him, touching him.

		STEELWORKERS
	Nice going! Good going, Nick! You
	did good, boy; you did fine! Let
	him through! Damn good, boy! Let
	him through! He's all right! Did
	his part and he did it good! Let
	him through! Let's make a little
	room!

JOHN pushes out of the crowd.

		JOHN
	Nick! Hey, Nick!
		(gives him a big hug)
	Boy! Boy oh boy! Are you okay?
	You're okay, huh?

		NICK
	Fine. Hey, I'm fine.

		JOHN
	Sit down. Here. Right here.
		(calls)
	Albert! Vince!

JOHN pushes them all into a booth. A tray arrives loaded with
beer and shots of whiskey.

		JOHN (CONT'D)
	Here. Here we go.
		(he raises a beer)
	Here's to you, Nick!

		ALBERT
	Fuckin' A!

		VINCE
		(stands)
	Here's to Nick, you guys. He did
	his part. He did... what hadda be
	done... and so he did it... and
	here he is!!!

INT. JOHN'S BAR - NIGHT - LATER

NICK sits at the bar flanked by VINCE and ALBERT. Both VINCE
and ALBERT are completely glassed out. Behind, in the booths,
three or four STEELWORKERS are sleeping. JOHN moves around
behind the counter wiping things off.

		JOHN
	Rough, huh?

		NICK
	Rough.
		(he nods)
	We didn't have to do it, John.

		JOHN
	No?

		NICK
	No. How's Angela? How's she taking
	it?

		JOHN
	Not so good.

		NICK
	No?

		JOHN
	Worse since she talked to him.

		ALBERT
		(with a dull beery blink)
	Fucking A.

		NICK
	Worse since she talked to who?

		JOHN
	Sal.

		NICK
	Talked to Sal?
		(stares at him)
	Sal's alive?

		JOHN
	Kind of. You didn't know?

		NICK
		(pushes off the counter)
	Sal's alive???

JOHN, ALBERT and VINCE exchange glances, nod.

		ALBERT
	He's real bad, Nick.

		NICK
		(stares at them)
	Well, where the hell is he!!! I
	mean what are we all sitting here
	for!!!
		(tears begin streaming
		 down his face)
	WHAT THE HELL IS THIS???

		ALBERT
	Nick...

		VINCE
	Hey, Nick...

		JOHN
	Nick, we don't know where Sal is...
	Nick, Angela won't tell us.

		NICK
	Why?... What do you mean?... Why???

		JOHN
	Nick, she won't say why.

		NICK
	But Sal's mother! What about Sal's
	mother!

		JOHN
	She's out of her tree, Nick. She is
	straight out of her tree.

		NICK
		(stares at them)
	Oh, Jesus.

He walks in a circle and then stops, staring at them.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	Oh, Jesus!!!

NICK turns and goes out.

INT. SAL'S HOUSE - FRONT PARLOR - NIGHT

The room is very dark. ANGELA sits at a lace-covered table by
the window where a street lamp illuminates her in an eerie
glow. ANGELA holds a portable radio in tier hand, a very tiny
one, and she fiddles with the dial, going from one station to
another.

There is a sound from the hallway, then SAL'S MOTHER comes in
with NICK.

		SAL'S MOTHER
	I know I know you. So familiar.
	Such a familiar face. Oh, I know
	now! The toaster man! I'll go and
	get it for you.

SAL'S MOTHER goes out. ANGELA lights up a cigarette.

		ANGELA
	You're back.

		NICK
	Yeah.

		ANGELA
	I'm glad. Seriously... I'm very
	glad.

		NICK
	Angela, I just heard Sal was alive.

		ANGELA
	Sure. Why not.

		NICK
	Where? Where is he?

		ANGELA
	Nick, he's fine. He's in a hospital
	and they're fixing him up.

		NICK
	You talk to him?

		ANGELA
	Oh, sure... Twice a day.

		NICK
	What hospital is he in? Where?

		ANGELA
	Nick... Sal is very weak. He
	suffered a severe wound... and
	right now he doesn't want a whole
	lot of people to get involved in a
	whole thing.

		NICK
	Hey, Angela, Sal and I go back a
	long way.

		ANGELA
	He doesn't want people bugging him,
	Nick!

ANGELA begins to tremble, jabs out her cigarette and stands
up.

She stares at NICK for a moment, goes to a telephone pad and
writes down a number in a tiny, nearly illegible scrawl. NICK
comes up behind her. ANGELA finishes, puts down the pen and
stands with her back against the wall. NICK tears off the
piece of paper, looks at it, puts it in his pocket.

		NICK
	Angela...?

ANGELA laughs and gives a strange, twisted smile, avoiding
NICK's eyes.

		ANGELA
	Did you ever think life would turn
	out like this?

		NICK
	No.

		ANGELA
	You know what Sal's got now?...
	Sal's got... one arm, Nick, and...
	that's it.

The door to the kitchen bangs open and SAL'S MOTHER comes in
with an electric toaster and a screwdriver.

		SAL'S MOTHER
	Here. This is it. What you do, you
	stick this in here.

Pushes the toaster in NICK's arms.

		SAL'S MOTHER (CONT'D)
	Then you jab it, see. Jab it good.
	Something's in it. Hear? Listen.
	Something's in it. What? What's
	there?

EXT. RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH - FRONT STEPS - NIGHT

NICK sits on the steps with the toaster that Sal's mother
gave him in his lap. It is snowing and from inside the church
we hear the CHOIR SINGING. The sound is massive, deep and
dark, like a great river rolling through the night.

CAMERA CLOSES ON NICK. He is staring at something, tears
glistening in his eyes.

EXT. ORTHODOX CHURCH - REVERSE ANGLE (NICK'S POV) - NIGHT

We see a lone telephone booth at the curb. The door is half
open and snow is blowing in.

EXT. ORTHODOX CHURCH - ORIGINAL ANGLE - NIGHT

NICK closes his eyes, leans his head forward and takes it in
his hands.

INT. MOTEL NICK'S UNIT - BATHROOM - NIGHT

LINDA steps out of the shower and begins to dry herself.

		LINDA
	It just seems sort of strange
	coming to a motel... Like a
	honeymoon. Or some kind of parlez
	vous ... Not parlez-vous!
		(she giggles)
	What am I saying? That's those
	cocktails! Parlez-vous!... What I
	mean is rendezvous. Some kind of
	rendezvous.

LINDA pulls on a short and very sexy nightie, then looks at
herself in the mirror. She is very excited, very nervous. She
strikes a pose, pulling up the bottom of the nightie and
poking a finger in her mouth.

		LINDA (CONT'D)
	Do you know what I mean?... Nick?

NICK doesn't answer. LINDA pulls the door full open, takes
one last look at herself and goes out.

INT. MOTEL - NICK'S UNIT - BEDROOM - NIGHT

As LINDA comes out of the bathroom her face falls and she
stops dead in her tracks.

NICK is lying on the bed -- sprawled on his back, one shoe
off and sound asleep.

		LINDA
	Nick?

NICK doesn't stir, doesn't budge. LINDA crosses and looks at
him -- hungrily, top to bottom -- then she gives his toe a
wistful shake.

		LINDA (CONT'D)
	Nick...? Nick, it's me!

But NICK is out, gone. LINDA lets out a little moan and sits
down on the chair beside the bed. Then, almost immediately,
she stands and begins taking off his clothes. She takes off
his shoes, then both socks. As she goes to undo his belt, his
shirt, which is unbuttoned, falls slightly open, revealing a
fresh scar. LINDA stares at the scar for a moment, then she
slowly exposes the whole of NICK's chest.

NICK'S CHEST IS COVERED WITH A SERIES OF TERRIFYING FRESH
SCARS. THE SCARS ARE RAISED; THEY ARE INTER-CONNECTED AND
STUDDED WITH ANGRY SUTURE MARKS, LIKE A TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP OF
SOME UNKNOWN BATTLEGROUND.

CAMERA HOLDS ON LINDA'S FACE.

				DISSOLVE TO:

INT. STEEL MILL - CASTING ROOM - DAY

NICK stands at the handle of a long metal rod. At the other
end of the rod ALBERT and VINCE are attaching metallic
strips. When ALBERT and VINCE have secured the strips they
signal to NICK and all three of them lower their goggles.

CAMERA PULLS SLOWLY BACK. NICK is standing below a furnace
which is seven stories high, towering above him into a maze
of cat-walks and monstrous steel-hipped cranes.

ALBERT and VINCE give a signal and the CRANE OPERATOR raises
the door at the bottom of the furnace. NICK is now alone,
standing like Don Quixote with his lance. As NICK advances
toward the base of the furnace with his rod the surface of
his asbestos suit begins to smoke and bits of lint which have
stuck to it burst into flame. Within reach of the furnace
now, NICK pauses. Then, lifting the metal rod, he jams it
through the open doorway at the base of the furnace. There is
a white flash as the metallic strips explode and then a
geyser of molten steel erupts in a huge jet through the
doorway, passing NICK at the level of his shoulders and
showering him in a great cascade of white sparks.

INT. JOHN'S BAR - NIGHT

NICK sits at the bar, silent, hunched over a beer, lost in
thought. All around him STEELWORKERS are shouting, yelling,
cracking jokes. After a moment VINCE pushes in, claps him on
the back.

		VINCE
	How's it feel, huh? How's it feel
	to be back?

		NICK
		(forced enthusiasm)
	Great. Feels great... Fuckin' A!

		VINCE
	I mean, I guess you still think
	about Nam. Right? I mean --

		NICK
	Naw.
		(shakes his head)
	Uh-huh.

		VINCE
	Hey, Nick, you ever do it with one
	of those slants?

		NICK
	No.

		VINCE
	No!

		NICK
	Never one.

		VINCE
	Oh, Jesus!
		(looks around)
	You're kiddin'!

		NICK
	One, Vince... you have to
	understand, doing it with one...
	would be... like nothing. They're
	small, see, so if you're smart you
	get about six or eight. I mean, if
	you want to have any fun.

		VINCE
	Six or eight.
		(nods)
	And they go wild?

		NICK
		(lowers his voice)
	They have these little sticks,
	Vince. They call them "chomp
	chomps", and when you get these
	girls going, you have to stick 'em
	in their mouths.

VINCE stares at NICK. His respiration is up, his mouth is
bone dry and his eyes are as big as saucers. For a moment his
belief is total, then a frown crosses his face.

		VINCE
	You're full of shit!

		NICK
		(nods)
	Yeah.

		VINCE
		(pounding him on the head)
	And I believed you! I oughta punch
	you out! I oughta...! Hey. Hey,
	let's go huntin'! Albert! Hey,
	Albert! Let's go huntin'. What do
	you say? Nick? What do you say?

		NICK
	Sure.

		ALBERT
	Hey! Fuckin' A! Hey!

He spots JOHN passing with a tray of beer.

		ALBERT (CONT'D)
	Hey, John!

ALBERT scoops JOHN into his arms where he holds him from
behind.

		JOHN
	Yes, Albert?

		ALBERT
		(into his ear)
	John,we're going huntin'.

		JOHN
	Who's going?

		ALBERT
	We're all going.

		JOHN
	Nick's going?

		ALBERT
	Nick, Vince, Albert and John.

		JOHN
	No women?

		OTHERS
	No! No women! Jesus! What are you,
	crazy?

		JOHN
	Take these beers.

They all take a beer. JOHN raises his glass, solemnly.

		JOHN (CONT'D)
	Here's to huntin'.

		ALBERT
	Hey! Fuckin' A!

		VINCE
		(hopping up and down)
	Just like always! Just like it
	always was! Right, Nick? Am I
	right?

		NICK
	In the timeless words of Squire
	Albert...

VINCE cracks up, howling.

		VINCE
	Squire Albert...

VINCE collapses on the floor.

		NICK
	In the timeless words of Squire
	Albert...

		ALL
		(in a ragged chorus)
	Hey! Fuckin' A!!!

INT. NICK'S TRAILER - NIGHT

NICK sits on the bed in the back part of the trailer. His
hunting gear is piled on the floor, the lights are out and he
is staring at the telephone which is illuminated through the
window by a street light on the corner. There is a sound
outside, then the lights come on as LINDA enters with
groceries.

		LINDA
	Nick?

		NICK
	Right here.

LINDA crosses to the doorway.

		LINDA
	What are you doing?

		NICK
	Oh. Nothing... Sitting.

		LINDA
	You're going hunting?

		NICK
		(blankly)
	What?

		LINDA
	I see you're going hunting.

NICK looks at the equipment on the floor.

		NICK
	Yeah... All the guys, we're all
	going huntin'. Like we did. You
	know? Like we always used to.

		LINDA
	That's wonderful. I think you
	should... fresh air.

NICK gets to his feet, suddenly. His face is twisted with
pain and his voice is cracked with emotion.

		NICK
	You know how sometimes you're going
	along... You're going along... And
	that's all...! One thing is right
	after another, like steps... And
	you step along.

NICK can hardly breathe. It is as if he were choking.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	I don't know where that is... It's
	gone! That's gone!

A car pulls up outside. The HORN begins blowing, then VINCE
and ALBERT begin pounding on the wall of the trailer.

		VINCE (V.O.)
	Let's go!!!

		ALBERT (V.O.)
	Hey! Fuckin' A! Time to roll!!!

		NICK
	I gotta go.

NICK swings his pack on his back, picks up his rifle and
heads for the door. LINDA follows, still clutching her
groceries, her emotions so pulverized she can't even speak.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	I'll be... I don't know... Couple
	of days.

NICK IS GONE. LINDA STANDS MOTIONLESS, CLUTCHING HER
GROCERIES, STARING AT THE TRAILER DOOR. IT IS DARK OUTSIDE.
SNOW IS BLOWING IN. THE DOOR CLOSES SLOWLY, WITH A FAINT
HISS, AND THEN CLICKS SHUT.

EXT. MOUNTAINS - MIXED HARDWOOD FOREST - DAY

Snow is blowing, swirling past the trunks of stark, ice
covered trees. There is no horizon. Sky and earth are bound
in a moan of wind, in the faint creak of frozen limbs and the
whispering, fitful, spinning flakes.

NICK appears, suddenly, as a gust of wind shifts the slanting
snow. NICK is moving easily, heading slightly uphill,
following the contour of the slope. As he draws closer we see
that he is following a SET OF FRESH TRACKS.

EXT. MOUNTAINS - MIXED HARDWOODS - ROCK LEDGE - DAY

A magnificent SEVEN POINT BUCK stands by a grove of hemlocks,
looking down the slope.

NICK appears below, barely visible in the swirling snow.

The BUCK watches NICK for a moment, then turns unhurriedly
and vanishes into the trees.

EXT. RIDGE NEAR CAMP - DAY

VINCE is out of breath, clawing his way up a steep slope on
all fours. JOHN and ALBERT, who have reached a level area
above VINCE, unsling their rifles. SHOTS are going off in
every direction and the sound is so magnified by echoes that
it sounds like a full scale war.

		VINCE
	What are you, kiddin'? Are you
	kiddin' me, Albert? Twenty times I
	coulda had her! She...! One time
	she begged me, practically begged
	me. Listen, I had her tit, which
	was out, in one hand, and my other
	hand... You know that mole on the
	inside of her right leg? Well, I
	was past that mole, way past that
	mole, and I was --

JOHN nudges ALBERT. FOUR DEER are coming down the slope,
single file. JOHN and ALBERT raise their rifles and FIRE. TWO
OF THE DEER FALL AND THE REMAINING TAKE OFF. VINCE, who is
just getting to his feet, unslings his rifle, trips and falls
down. JOHN and ALBERT drag VINCE to his feet and then rush
over to the TWO DEAD DEER.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
		(coming after them)
	Nice shootin', you guys. Not bad.
	Not half bad.

Leans his rifle on the horns of one of the fallen DEER.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
	'Course how could you miss, right?
	Twenty, maybe thirty feet. I mean,
	if I'd'a been where you guys were --

		JOHN
	Psst. Vince!

JOHN signals with his head. VINCE turns. ANOTHER DEER has
come out of the woods. The DEER is rattled by the gunfire and
peers at VINCE uncertainly. VINCE spins and grabs his gun,
which immediately goes off. He slams another shell in the
chamber and scrambles to his feet but the rifle sling is
hooked on the antlers of the DEAD DEER and another shot
ricochets off a nearby rock. JOHN and ALBERT dive for cover.
As they look up, they see the DEER trot down the slope and
then VINCE, firing wildly, running after it.

EXT. MOUNTAINS - RIDGE TOP - DAY

The wind is much stronger, moaning in the trees. NICK
appears, moving fast, at a near trot. Suddenly he stops,
listening. At the same moment there is a snort. NICK wheels.
The BUCK is behind him, bounding away.

EXT. MOUNTAINS - RIDGE TOP - DAY

The BUCK appears, trotting out of the swirling snow. Reaching
a deadfall the BUCK pauses, looking back, and then turns
sharp left and disappears.

NICK comes out of the snow. He is winded but still going
hard.

EXT. MOUNTAINS - DEADFALL - DAY

NICK reaches the deadfall, hesitates, then rapidly springs
over. As he touches down on the other side there is a
growling sound.

NICK grabs for the deadfall. The wind shifts and we see that
he has stepped onto a boulder which is loosely planted at the
top of a steep scree slope. As NICK watches, the boulder
begins to roll, then to bound, dislodging other rocks and
boulders, all of them bouncing and leaping and cracking...
and then falling -- soundless -- over a sheer ledge to
unknown depths below.

EXT. BUSTED-DOWN OLD LOGGERS SHACK - DAY

ALBERT and JOHN have dragged their TWO DEAD DEER to a log
beside the shack. They sit side by side, drenched in sweat,
guzzling beer out of both hands.

		JOHN
	Sweet! Oh, that is sweet!

		ALBERT
	Hey! Fuckin' A! Just... just like a
	hot shit... except cold.

JOHN lowers his beer. ALBERT gives him a blank expression,
then cracks up. SHOTS explode nearby. At first the shots are
scattered but they quickly open into a FULL BARRAGE. ALBERT
and JOHN stand up.

EXT. HIGHWAY EMBANKMENT - DAY

The DEER that VINCE was chasing earlier comes hobbling out of
the woods pursued by a GROUP OF HALF-DRUNK HUNTERS. VINCE
comes barreling through the HUNTERS, shouting and screaming.
VINCE's clothes are in tatters, the sole is gone from one
shoe and the barrel of his rifle is jammed up with mud and
perceptibly bent.

		VINCE
	I got this one!!! This one's
	mine!!!

VINCE loses his footing and rolls down the embankment, head
over heels.

EXT. DITCH - DAY

VINCE comes up ten feet from the bewildered DEER. He raises
his rifle, fires, and the BARREL SPLITS OPEN. SHOTS begin
coming in, thudding in the mud and ricocheting off rocks. The
DEER wheels out on the highway. VINCE heaves his rifle at the
DEER, draws his pistol...

EXT. HIGHWAY - DAY

Cars are parked on both sides of the road. HUNTERS are
sitting in the cars, drinking, eating sandwiches and warming
themselves at small fires. MORE HUNTERS are up on the
embankment.

		VINCE
	I got this one!!! This one's
	mine!!!

The panicked DEER bolts down the highway between the parked
cars. The HUNTERS ON THE EMBANKMENT open fire. The HUNTERS IN
THE CARS dive for cover.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
	Hold your fire! I got this one!!!

VINCE FIRES, FIRES AGAIN. SHOTS are ringing everywhere.
HUNTERS are shouting, running, yelling. A car window goes
out, a headlight goes out. The DEER is hit, falls and gets
up. VINCE takes aim. A FLEEING HUNTER bowls him over. The
DEER bolts for the woods, bullets smashing all around it.
VINCE scrambles to his feet and plunges after it.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
	I got it! I got this one!

EXT. WOODS - DAY

The DEER staggers through the trees, blood pouring from its
wounds. VINCE comes stumbling after it. HE FIRES, FIRES
AGAIN.

EXT. BUSTED-DOWN OLD LOGGERS SHACK - DAY

ALBERT and JOHN stand with their beers, looking into the
woods. A shot zings by, close, and they dive behind a log.

The DEER comes out of the woods, barely able to keep moving.
VINCE appears, reeling. He takes aim at the DEER and there is
a DULL CLICK. VINCE jams his pistol back in his holster.

		VINCE
	Gun! Gimme gun!!!

ALBERT indicates his rifle. VINCE stumbles over to it, rams a
cartridge in the chamber.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
		(looks around, bewildered)
	Where's it gone?

		JOHN
	Inside, Vince.

VINCE staggers to the cabin door. The DEER is lying on the
floor, motionless, DEAD.

		VINCE
	I got it! Hey, you guys, I got
	it!!!

EXT. MOUNTAINS - FROZEN LAKE - DAY

The wind is blowing in gusts, slanting the snow first one way
and then the other. NICK appears in the distance, a black
speck in the endless expanse of shifting white.

As NICK draws closer we see that he is near exhaustion. His
clothes are , caked with snow, his breath comes in a shallow
gasp and his gait is uneven, favoring one leg. As NICK
APPROACHES CAMERA HE FALTERS AND LIMPS TO A STOP. There are
no tracks. There is nothing to go by and he hunkers down in
the driving snow.

The wind bangs in from one way, then it shifts and bangs in
again from another way. Suddenly it stops entirely. In the
silence there is a sound -- the click of a hoof on rock.

NICK turns. The BUCK is standing on the shoreline, not thirty
feet away, looking down at him.

NICK pushes himself to his feet, raises his rifle and sights
down the barrel.

WE SEE THE BUCK THROUGH NICK'S SIGHTS. IT IS A CLEAR SHOT.
NICK'S FINGER IS ON THE TRIGGER. HE HAS ONLY TO SQUEEZE IT.

NICK LOWERS HIS RIFLE. THE BUCK SNORTS, TOSSES HIS HORNS AND
DISAPPEARS IN THE SLANTING SNOW.

NICK STANDS MOTIONLESS, STARING AFTER IT, SO WONDER-STRUCK HE
HAS FORGOTTEN TO BREATHE.

		NICK
		(grins)
	Damn... God damn...

EXT. MOUNTAINS - OVERLOOK - DAY

NICK sits on his haunches with his back against a sheer rock
face. As he devours a Hostess Twinkie he looks out over a
snow-shrouded landscape of such spectacular beauty that it
might be something from a dream.

		NICK
		(shouts)
	Hey! Hey... okay!

INT. BUSTED-DOWN OLD LOGGERS SHACK - NIGHT

The Coleman lantern hangs from the rafter, rocking in the
wind. NICK is propped against the wall, dozing. JOHN is out
cold. ALBERT and VINCE are both drunk and arguing bitterly.

		ALBERT
	You're full of shit, Vince! You're
	so full of shit you're going to
	float away!

		VINCE
	Who? Who is?

		ALBERT
	You, Vince! You! You are! You're a
	crock! You're a walking, talking
	crock!... I mean, what do you know?

		VINCE
	I know! I fuckin' know!

		ALBERT
	You don't!

		VINCE
	I do!!!

		ALBERT
	I'm tellin' you she does it, Vince!
	With twenty guys you know!

		VINCE
	She does not!

		ALBERT
	Then what's the gun for! What's
	this for?

		VINCE
	In case!!! The gun's in case!!!

		ALBERT
	In case???!!! In case of what? In
	case you stumble on her, suckin'
	cock in the front fucking hall?!

		VINCE
	She might!!! She might do it,
	Albert, but you can't fuckin' tell
	me that she does!!!

		ALBERT
	She does, Vince! That's what I'm
	telling you! She does!!!

VINCE is sheet-white, trembling. He grabs up the pistol and
cocks it.

		VINCE
		(shrieking)
	Say that one more time!... Say
	it!!! Go on, say it!!!

NICK is half-way up the wall, still half-asleep, staring at
the pistol in disbelief. Suddenly he springs, seizes the gun
with one hand and slams VINCE to the floor. VINCE gets up.
NICK slugs him in the face, knees him in the stomach and
begins pounding his head against the wall. ALBERT lurches
over, pulls NICK away.

		ALBERT
	Nick! Nick, you'll kill him!...
	Easy. Nick, easy! Hey, hey. Vince
	goes back a long way.

		NICK
		(grimly)
	Yeah.

VINCE gets to his feet. Blood is streaming down his face.

		VINCE
	What the hell was that!
		(picks up the pistol)
	What did you think? Did you think
	it was loaded!

		NICK
	You loaded it, Vince! I saw you!

		VINCE
	The fuck I did!!!

		NICK
	The fuck you didn't!... Gimme that!

NICK takes the pistol.

		VINCE
	What do you think? You think I
	don't know!!!

NICK looks at him, then he EMPTIES THE PISTOL INTO THE FLOOR.

For a moment there is absolute silence. The wind moans in the
trees, snow curls through the open door and JOHN, who is
still soundly sleeping, finds a new note on which to snore.

NICK looks down at the pistol, turns it over in his hands...

		NICK
	I'm going to throw this fuckin'
	thing away.

NICK goes out.

EXT. BUSTED-DOWN OLD LOGGERS SHACK - NIGHT

For a moment NICK stands in the light from the door,
listening to the wind. He looks down at the pistol again,
then he heaves it into the trees.

The wind gusts. The snow swirls and hisses, slipping through
the woods in great streaming wraiths.

NICK watches it for a moment, then he turns and goes back in.

EXT. NICK'S TRAILER - DUSK

The trailer is lonely looking, DARK and cold. VINCE pulls
into the yard beside NICK's car and skips to a stop. NICK
gets out, says a few words to VINCE and everyone laughs. NICK
goes around to the trunk, removes his gear, slams the lid and
pounds on the car. VINCE takes off, thudding over the curb
with his load of THREE DEAD DEER.

NICK crosses to the trailer and goes inside.

INT. V.A. HOSPITAL - RECREATION ROOM - NIGHT

TWO DOZEN AMPUTEES in wheelchairs are watching a western.

INT. V.A. HOSPITAL - CORRIDOR OFF RECREATION ROOM - NIGHT

In the foreground a NURSE holds a telephone. Beyond the NURSE
we see a wizzened figure in a wheelchair coming slowly down
the polished corridor. As the figure draws closer we realize
it is SAL. SAL is dressed in a white hospital gown, the
bottom of which hangs over the front of the wheelchair and
trails limply on the floor. Both SAL's legs have been
amputated and he has lost one arm. His face is terribly
scarred and what expression he displays is centered in his
eyes.

SAL takes the telephone. THE SOUNDTRACK FROM THE MOVIE IN THE
RECREATION ROOM IS VERY LOUD.

		SAL
	Hello?

INT. NICK'S TRAILER - NIGHT

NICK sits in a little chair by the window, still in his
hunting clothes, huddled anxiously over the receiver.

		NICK
	Sal? Sal, it's me, Nick.

		SAL
	Nick. Hey. How's things?

		NICK
	Oh. You know. How's it with you?

		SAL
	Same. Hey. Same old stuff.

		NICK
		(he can hardly hear)
	What's that noise?

		SAL
	What?

		NICK
	What's that noise?

		SAL
	John Wayne... Listen, Nick --

		NICK
	Great. Hey. That's great.

		SAL
	Listen, Nick --

		NICK
	John Wayne's great... Listen, Sal.
	Jesus. When are you getting out?

		SAL
	I'm gonna stay here, Nick.

		NICK
		(hearing it)
	What?

		SAL
		(with everything he has)
	Place is great. Really. One great
	place... Basketball, bowling. You
	name it. Canasta. Hearts. Lots of
	guys are making salad bowls. What
	I'll do is make a salad bowl for
	you, unless you'd rather have a
	pencil holder. The pencil holder's
	neat, I mean --

		NICK
	Wait a minute. Sal. Hold it. John
	Wayne's making so much noise I can
	hardly --

		SAL
	I gotta get back, Nick.

SAL looks around in desperation.

		SAL (CONT'D)
	They're passing out popcorn now, so
	I'll be talking to you... maybe
	next year.

INT. NICK'S TRAILER - NIGHT

NICK holds the receiver, staring into it. There is the SOUND
OF WHOOPING, GRUNTING, THUNDERING HOOVES...

		NICK
	Sal?... Sal?

INT. V.A. HOSPITAL - CORRIDOR OFF RECREATION ROOM - NIGHT

SAL is wheeling himself rapidly down the polished corridor.
At the doorway to the recreation room he pauses, looking back
at the DANGLING RECEIVER. Then he turns and disappears into
the flickering darkness, where BUGLES are sounding a cavalry
charge.

INT. NICK'S TRAILER - NIGHT

NICK listens to the SOUND OF THE BUGLES for a moment, then
puts the receiver back on the telephone. He stands, walks
around in a little circle - pained, terribly upset. His eye
falls on the clock. It is nearly eight o'clock. He turns,
hurries out the door.

EXT. SUPERMARKET PARKING LOT - NIGHT

The lot is empty except for scores of abandoned shopping
carts which a CLERK is banging together.

NICK gets out of his car and goes in.

INT. SUPERMARKET - NIGHT

Two or three CHECKERS are closing out the registers up front.

		CHECKER
	She's in back.

		NICK
	Thanks.

		CHECKER
	How was huntin'?

		NICK
	Oh. Fine.

		CHECKER
	Get anything?

		NICK
	No.

		CHECKER
	Too bad.

NICK goes down a long aisle of bright packages. Coming out at
the back he finds LINDA sitting in a green plastic chair,
crying.

		NICK
	Linda... Honey, what's wrong?

		LINDA
		(helpless shrug)
	I don't know.

		NICK
	Hey. Look. There must be something.

LINDA looks at him, tears streaming down her face.

		LINDA
	I'm just so lonely.

		NICK
	C'mon. I've got the car.

		LINDA
		(shakes her head)
	I'll be out... Just leave me. I'll
	be out. I'm fine. Really. I'm fine.

NICK walks back down the aisle between the bright packages.

INT. NICK'S CAR - SUPERMARKET PARKING LOT - NIGHT

The CLERK is still collecting abandoned shopping carts. The
carts crash and clank as the CLERK rams them together.

NICK sits behind the wheel, watching the clerk. His hands
begin shaking uncontrollably and he gets back out of the car.

EXT. SUPERMARKET PARKING LOT - NICK'S CAR - NIGHT

NICK watches the lights go out in the market. LINDA comes out
of the door and crosses towards him.

		NICK
	You okay?

LINDA nods. NICK fumbles for the door.

		LINDA
	Let's make love, Nick.

LINDA takes him in her arms and holds him tight.

		LINDA (CONT'D)
	Let's make love forever!

INT. NICK'S TRAILER - NIGHT

LINDA is asleep - lying on her back, arms flung out across
the pillows, like a dancer leaping.

NICK stands beside the bed, wrapped in a blanket, looking
down at her. After a moment he draws the covers over her,
fusses with her slippers until they are straight and then
goes to the window.

EXT. STREET IN FRONT OF NICK'S TRAILER (NICK'S POV) - NIGHT

The wind is blowing. Bits of trash skitter and swirl in the
frozen ruts and a cat comes by, MEOWING. Suddenly a MAN
appears walking slowly down the street. The MAN is elegantly
dressed in Western attire, wearing a tailored suit with vest,
polished boots and a Stetson hat. As the MAN draws under the
light of a street lamp he pauses, looking at NICK's trailer.

THE MAN IS MERLE, OR IF NOT MERLE IT IS A FACE SO STRIKINGLY
SIMILAR THAT NICK ALMOST LETS OUT A CRY.

THE MAN UNDER THE STREET LAMP PAUSES, JUST FOR AN INSTANT,
THEN HE TURNS AND MOVES ON DOWN THE STREET.

INT. NICK'S TRAILER - NIGHT

NICK backs away from the window. For a moment he stands
motionless, hardly able to believe his eyes. He looks over at
LINDA, he looks down at a chair, then he pushes his face to
the window again.

EXT. STREET (NICK'S POV) - NIGHT

The street is empty. The MAN is gone.

INT. NICK'S TRAILER - NIGHT

NICK hesitates, then he sheds the blanket and pulls on pants,
shirt, jacket and jams his sockless feet into a pair of
slices.

EXT. NICK'S TRAILER - NIGHT

NICK comes out into the street. There is no one in sight.

NICK crosses to the intersection of Columbine.

EXT. INTERSECTION OF COLUMBINE - NIGHT

No one. Nothing. A beer can rolling in the wind.

NICK jams himself against a wall, zippers his jacket. He is
irked with himself, a little frightened. Suddenly he hears a
car door close and en engine start up. A black limousine
pulls out of a nearby street and comes past him slowly. A
CHAUFFEUR is at the wheel.
The PASSENGER in back appears to be the MAN he saw, but the
MAN is looking out the window on the other side and his face
is not visible.

As NICK watches, the limousine rapidly gathers speed. The
tail lights grow small, then the car dips over a hill and
disappears.

INT. V.A. HOSPITAL - RECREATION ROOM - DAY

Sunlight streams through a window. The television is going.
In a far corner SAL sits in his wheelchair, sleeping.

CAMERA CLOSES SLOWLY ON SAL. His head has fallen to one side
and his single arm sticks into the air -- as if he had failed
in his grasp of something, as if he were drowning. On a tray
in front of him is an untouched breakfast of orange juice,
milk and a little box of Wheaties.

INT. V.A. HOSPITAL - EMERGENCY STAIRWAY - DAY

Someone is descending the stairs. After a moment the feet
appear, clad in expensive cowboy boots. We see expensive,
tailor-made trousers, a belt buckle embossed with a six
shooter... and then, suddenly, MERLE'S FACE.

MERLE slows in his descent, stops, looking at something.

EXT. V.A. HOSPITAL ENTRANCE (MERLE'S POV) - DAY

NICK is getting out of a cab. He pays the driver and starts
toward the building.

INT. V.A. HOSPITAL - EMERGENCY STAIRWAY - DAY

MERLE watches NICK for a moment, his face utterly without
expression, then MERLE continues down the stairs.

EXT. HOSPITAL GROUNDS - DAY

NICK is pushing SAL down a walkway.

		NICK
	Sal, we need you. We need you.

		SAL
	Hey, Nick. How can you need me?

		NICK
	We do, Sal. We do... You're the
	heart.

Turns SAL and sits on a bench.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	Sal, you're gonna die! You're gonna
	sit in that corner watching soaps
	and you're gonna die!... I'm not
	saying it's gonna be the same. It's
	not gonna be the same, but whatever
	it's gonna be we're all gonna do
	it, Sal. God damn it we are! We are
	gonna do it!

		SAL
	Nick. I'm so scared. I'm so fuckin'
	scared to go home.

		NICK
		(nods)
	I know. It's like coming from the
	moon. Or Mars.

SAL laughs.

		SAL
	Did you go hunting.

		NICK
	Yeah.

		SAL
	Did you get one?

		NICK
	No.

		SAL
	You didn't get a deer?

		NICK
	I tracked this one, a big buck.
	God, he was such a beauty--! What's
	this suitcase here?

		SAL
	Where?

		NICK
	Here. Behind you.

NICK pulls a suitcase off the rack behind SAL's chair.

		SAL
	I don't know.

NICK sets the suitcase on a low wall and starts to undo the
clasps.

		NICK
	Maybe Angela brought you stuff. I
	know she said --

The suitcase slips over the back of the wall.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	Shit!

NICK swings up on the wall and then he freezes. The lid of
the suitcase has popped open and bundles of money are
scattered all down the slope of a steep embankment.

		SAL
	Mom keeps sending me socks, Nick. I
	mean, if it's socks or something
	just let 'em go.

EXT. HOSPITAL GROUNDS - EMBANKMENT WITH MONEY - DAY

NICK looks down at the money scattered at his feet. The
bundles are made up of hundreds and they are everywhere.

		SAL (V.O.)
	Maybe you could use socks, Nick.
	Jesus, I mean, come to think of it
	socks are pretty expensive now.

		NICK
	It's not socks, Sal.

NICK bends over the suitcase and begins going through looking
for identification. There is nothing. As he straightens up he
notices a wadded-up piece of paper lying beside one of the
bundles of bills.

The paper is about an inch square. The corners are tattered
and it looks as if it had been carried in someone's pocket
for a long time.

NICK picks the paper up, realizes it is a calling card and
unfolds it.

THE CARD READS "EXHIBITIONS". IT CONTAINS A TELEPHONE NUMBER
ON THE LOWER LEFT CORNER AND IS IDENTICAL TO THE CARD ARMAND
GAVE TO NICK WHEN HE CAME UPON HIM IN THE GARDEN BEHIND HIS
ROULETTE GAME IN SAIGON.

EXT. HOSPITAL GROUNDS - VALLEY OVERLOOK - DAY

NICK leans on a railing watching the black, interchangeable
cars of a coal train roll slowly by. SAL sits with the
suitcase of money in his lap, utterly bewildered, crying.

		SAL
	Who is it, Nick? Who is it? I don't
	understand.

NICK looks at SAL. His head is spinning and he brings himself
back with effort.

		NICK
	It's Merle, Sal.

		SAL
	Merle? ... Merle's alive?
		(NICK nods)
	How do you know?

		NICK
	I saw him last night. I thought I
	was dreaming. I thought I was out
	of my mind.

		SAL
	Merle gave me this?

		NICK
	Yeah.

		SAL
	But, Nick... Hey, I mean, where
	would a guy like Merle get money
	like this?

NICK is standing slightly behind SAL, looking down at the
money. The reality of what MERLE is doing, has nearly
overwhelmed him and it is only with tremendous effort that he
maintains a casual tone.

		NICK
	Oh cards, maybe. Poker... It's
	getting cold, Sal. I'm going to
	take you in.
		(starts off)
	We'll call Angela. The guys can
	help her bring you home... Did I
	tell you I was going on a trip?

		SAL
		(panicked)
	Trip? What do you mean, Nick? You
	said you'd be --

		NICK
	It's okay. Hey, it's okay! Just a
	week. Just to see Phantom Mary.

		SAL
	Phantom Mary?

		NICK
	Didn't I ever tell you about
	Phantom Mary?

		SAL
		(laughs)
	No.

		NICK
		(starts off again)
	Well... Phantom Mary's on my
	mother's side. Naturally no one
	there admits it because Phantom
	Mary's pretty weird... You want to
	hear the whole story?

		SAL
		(enthusiastically)
	Yeah!

		NICK
	Like I say, Phantom Mary's pretty
	weird... Lives alone, lives way out
	in the middle of nowhere with a cat
	called Pajamas and a cow called
	Fred. Well, last week I got a call
	from Phantom Mary, which in itself
	was very strange...

				DISSOLVE TO:

INT. TERMINAL BUILDING - U.S. ARMY AIRFIELD - TEXAS - DAY

The place is a madhouse of activity. As jets scream overhead
TROOPS embarking for Saigon are being counted and recounted.
SERGEANTS are yelling off names. CLERKS are typing forms and
papers. Forklift trucks weave in and out, DRIVERS cursing.

NICK is back in uniform. He stands at a window watching a jet
transport being prepared for loading. A CLERK comes by,
arguing with a SERGEANT. The CLERK sets down his clipboard to
consult the SERGEANT's papers. NICK picks up the clipboard
and moves into the CROWD.

INT. TERMINAL BUILDING - ANOTHER LOCATION - DAY

NICK spots a lone SECOND LIEUTENANT sitting on his gear. More
OFFICERS are waiting nearby but the SECOND LIEUTENANT seems
not to know them.

NICK moves in close enough to read the SECOND LIEUTENANT's
name tag.

		NICK
		(bawling)
	Biederman! Where's Biederman!

		LIEUTENANT
	Here.

		NICK
	You Biederman?

		LIEUTENANT
	Biederman, yes.

		NICK
	I got you on this flight,
	Biederman. Is that right?

		BIEDERMAN
	Correct.

		NICK
	Follow me, please.

INT. TERMINAL BUILDING - WAREHOUSE AREA - DAY

NICK walks along briskly with the LIEUTENANT at his side.

		NICK
	Right this way.

INT. TERMINAL BUILDING - WAREHOUSE AREA - DAY

NICK comes to a door, opens it.

		NICK
	Through here.

INT. TERMINAL BUILDING - UTILITY CLOSET - DAY

The LIEUTENANT walks into the closet and comes to a stop,
looking puzzled. NICK comes in behind him, closes the door
and picks up a length of pipe.

		NICK
	Take off the uniform.

The LIEUTENANT stares at NICK, dumbfounded.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	Take off the uniform, Lieutenant!

The LIEUTENANT nods, begins taking off his uniform.

INT. TERMINAL BUILDING - UTILITY CLOSET - DAY

NICK has changed into the LIEUTENANT's uniform and tied him
to a chair. The LIEUTENANT is in tears. NICK is going through
his orders.

		LIEUTENANT
	Please! Please mister, please! This
	is vital I go to Saigon. This is
	very important. Most important.

		NICK
		(exasperated)
	Listen, Biederman, I'm going to
	club you into the floor unless you
	tell me what the fuck is so
	important.

		LIEUTENANT
	That I must not tell you. Top
	secret. You see there. Topmost
	secret.

		NICK
	Biederman!

		LIEUTENANT
		(stiffly)
	I will not betray my country. No.
	Ne-ver!

NICK throws down the pipe in disgust, whips a gag around the
LIEUTENANT's mouth and ties it.

		NICK
	When I get to Saigon I'll tell 'em
	where you are.

Slams the door.

EXT. SAIGON AIRPORT - TERMINAL BUILDING - NIGHT

Viet Cong SAPPERS have just attacked. A number of jet
fighters are burning, bodies are strewn over the tarmac and
jeeps with SOLDIERS are racing back and forth.
Out beyond, the jet transport taxis into view, lumbering like
a great silver monster out of the night.

INT. JET TRANSPORT - NIGHT

NICK stands in the aisle next to a COLONEL who is peering out
the window.

		COLONEL
	Jesus Christ, they hit the airport!

NICK nods.

		COLONEL (CONT'D)
	Those fuckin' niggers. This time
	I'm going to eat balls!... You ever
	try 'em?

		NICK
	Naw.

		COLONEL
		(leans close)
	Not bad fresh, but they don't keep
	worth a pig's fart.

NICK nods. EVERYONE starts out.

		COLONEL (CONT'D)
	Lotta guys don't know that.
		(winks)
	Assholes!

EXT. JET TRANSPORT - DEBARKATION RAMP - NIGHT

A SIREN is screaming in the distance. NICK looks around
nervously. The COLONEL is still right in beside him.

		COLONEL
	Tell you something else. Don't eat
	'em in the damn Delta. Unless you
	like 'em fishy... Some do. I don't.
	I never did.

The scream of the SIREN grows louder. Suddenly a Jeep careens
around the corner followed by a huge black Cadillac flying
American flags on the fenders. Both vehicles screech to a
stop and an MP jumps out of the jeep with a loud hailer.

		MP
		(amplified)
	Lieutenant Biederman! Lieutenant
	Biederman report to the ramp!

		COLONEL
	That's you.
		(grabs NICK's arm and
		 waves)
	Right here, Sergeant! He's right
	here!

		MP
	Right this way, Lieutenant.

NICK is hurried to the limousine where a SECOND MP holds the
door.

		SECOND MP
	Quick as you can, sir. We're in a
	rush.

NICK gets in the limousine. The SECOND MP slams the door,
jumps in the front and they take off with sirens wailing.

INT. LIMOUSINE - SAIGON - NIGHT

There are jeeps with MP's ahead; there are jeeps with MP's
behind. Seated beside NICK is a gigantic MARINE CORPORAL who
stares rigidly ahead.

EXT. CAVALCADE - SAIGON - NIGHT

Pedestrians and bicyclists flee as the cavalcade comes
screaming down a wide boulevard.

EXT. AMERICAN EMBASSY - SAIGON - NIGHT

The jeeps peel off to the side. The gate swings open and the
limousine enters the compound.

INT. AMERICAN EMBASSY - RECEPTION AREA - NIGHT

A STRING QUARTET is playing. GUESTS in evening clothes are
drinking champagne.

NICK enters with the MARINE CORPORAL and is whisked rapidly
down a hallway.

INT. AMERICAN EMBASSY - KITCHEN - NIGHT

NICK stands in front of a huge range staring down at a table.
On the table there is a basket of eggs, an omelette pan and a
pile of mushrooms. Across from the table six SERVANTS with
napkins on their arms stand waiting with plates.

		MARINE (V.O.)
	Sir?

NICK turns. The MARINE CORPORAL is holding a chef's hat. NICK
takes off his cap, puts on the chef's hat. Suddenly a door
comes open and the AMERICAN AMBASSADOR and his WIFE come in.

		AMBASSADOR
	Henri! So good to see you. How are
	you? How are you? Darling, this is
	Henri. Henri, my wife Elizabeth.

		WIFE
	My pleasure.

		AMBASSADOR
	Henri, we are starved. Six
	omelettes, s'il vous plait.

		WIFE
		(hissing)
	Avec champignons.

		AMBASSADOR
	Avec champignons.
		(back to his WIFE)
	Fines herbes?

The WIFE shakes her head. The AMBASSADOR winks.

		AMBASSADOR (CONT'D)
	Avec champignons.

The AMBASSADOR and his WIFE hurry out. There is dead silence.
NICK pulls the MARINE CORPORAL to one side, points to his
crotch.

		NICK
	Pee-pee.

INT. AMERICAN EMBASSY - CORRIDOR OFF KITCHEN - NIGHT

NICK comes down the corridor behind the MARINE CORPORAL. As
he passes a straight-back chair standing against the wall he
picks it up and swings it down on the MARINE CORPORAL'S head.
The blow is ferocious. The chair splinters into pieces and
the MARINE CORPORAL goes down with a dull thud.

NICK stands for a moment, looking at him. Then he kneels,
removes his pistol and jams it in his belt.

EXT. AMERICAN EMBASSY - WALKWAY TO PEDESTRIAN EXIT - NIGHT

Three MARINE GUARDS are standing at parade rest by an open
iron gate.
As NICK appears in his white chef's hat the GUARDS snap to
attention and he walks into the CROWD OF ASIANS streaming by
outside.

EXT. TELEPHONE BOOTH - BUSY INTERSECTION - NIGHT

NICK takes out his wallet, extracts the tattered calling card
that he found with SAL'S money and dials the number. He lets
it ring a long time but there is no answer.

EXT. DESERTED STREET WITH SHUTTERED BUILDING - NIGHT

NICK is not sure where he is. Suddenly he stops, recognizing
the yard with the little grape arbor where he met ARMAND.

EXT. YARD BEHIND SHUTTERED BUILDING - NIGHT

The yard is grown over. As NICK goes in there comes a low
buzz of flies. He trips over something, draws back. Seeing a
candle on the little table under the grape arbor, he crosses
and lights it.

The yard is full of discarded champagne bottles, red velvet
cushions and rotting CORPSES. NICK leans over one of the
CORPSES. The skin is falling away and the eye sockets writhe
with maggots.

NICK straightens, looks around.

		NICK
	Merle!!!

The back door to the building is open. NICK draws his pistol
and goes in.

INT. SHUTTERED BUILDING - NIGHT

NICK finds his way blocked by a door. He steps back, hurls
himself against it. The door gives way with a crash and he
staggers into the middle of a small stage hung with red
velvet curtains and furnished with a table and two chairs.

Out beyond the proscenium, huddled together in a litter of
broken cafe tables, a FAMILY OF REFUGEES stare at him in
terror from the other side of a small fire.

		NICK
		(waves pistol)
	It's okay.

The REFUGEES cower back even further.

		NICK (CONT'D)
		(screaming)
	It's okay, God damn it! It's all
	right!

POUNDING and BANGING come from the direction of the front
door. NICK crosses...

INT. SHUTTERED BUILDING - FRONT DOOR - NIGHT

NICK readies his pistol, cautiously unbolts the door and
jerks it open. The COLONEL FROM THE AIRPLANE tumbles in and
falls flat on his back. Standing in the doorway, lit by the
headlights of two cars, is a party of U.S. OFFICERS, ARVN
OFFICERS and WHORES.

		COLONEL
		(no attempt to get up)
	Hey, good buddy, how you doin'?
		(gestures)
	This is Biederman, you guys.
	Biederman, this is Son Loc, Tu Fon,
	Huckerbelly and Potts. What's the
	story here, Biederman? We're
	looking for... Wait a minute.

He fishes a piece of paper out of his breast pocket.

		COLONEL (CONT'D)
	Here it is. Chez Armand.

		WHORE
	Chez Armand not here! Chez Armand
	has gone to other spot!

		COLONEL
		(gets up)
	Honey, c'mere. Come right here.

The COLONEL opens a brown paper bag he is carrying and
presents her with a large red, white and blue dildo.

		COLONEL (CONT'D)
	This is for bein' so smart.

The WHORE shrieks with pleasure. EVERYONE laughs.

		COLONEL (CONT'D)
		(arm around WHORE)
	Let's go! Mount up! C'mon
	Biederman!

The COLONEL throws an arm around NICK and they all start for
the cars.

		COLONEL (CONT'D)
		(to NICK)
	Boy, do I love this conflict.
	Huh?... What the hell were you
	doin' in there?

		NICK
	You know a guy named Merle?

		COLONEL
	Merle? That's who we're looking
	for. Merle.

		NICK
	Yeah?

		COLONEL
	Sure! I got eight hundred potatoes
	says he goes one more... He
	retired, you know.

		NICK
	Yeah?

		COLONEL
	Now he's back.

Pulls NICK close so he can whisper in his ear.

		COLONEL (CONT'D)
	He eats 'em... Sure... He eats 'em
	raw!

EXT. RUBBER PLANTATION - SAIGON OUTSKIRTS NIGHT

An elegant house of French design is ablaze with lights. The
house is encircled by a stone terrace on which tables have
been set up. Over the terrace and strung out for a hundred
yards into the surrounding trees are countless paper lanterns
which bob and sway in the wind. GUESTS are everywhere --
wandering in and out of the house, sitting at the tables and
strolling under the trees. For the most part the GUESTS are
AMERICANS and SOUTH VIETNAMESE. The majority of these are
OFFICERS IN UNIFORM, but there are numerous CIVILIANS mixed
among them and the CIVILIANS are attired in everything from
sports shirts to white linen suits and tuxedos. As to
nationality there are no limits. There are FRENCH, GERMANS,
BELGIANS, SWISS, CHINESE, BRITISH and AUSTRALIANS. WHORES and
MISTRESSES abound. WIVES are not greatly in evidence, except
to dog the heels of heavily armed ARVN GUARDS who wander
about, glass-eyed, drinking champagne.

EXT. RUBBER PLANTATION - PARKING AREA - NIGHT

Jeeps, personnel carriers, trucks and light tanks are parked
side by side with gleaming Mercedes limousines, staff cars
from various government agencies and a blitz of civilian
vehicles running from sedans to motor scooters.

More vehicles arrive by the minute and exotic couples, like
plumed birds, debark in the swirling dust.

EXT. RUBBER PLANTATION - CLEARING IN TREES - NIGHT

A dozen ARVN helicopters have put down between the trees. One
has crashed and lies on its side with a broken rotor.

There is a mounting clatter in the distance and another
helicopter comes out of the sky. As it sets down a dashingly
handsome AIR FORCE OFFICER hops out and extends a hand to his
WIFE. When his WIFE has descended the OFFICER opens a back
compartment in the fusilage and carefully takes out their
BABY. He hands the BABY to his WIFE and they stroll off
toward the house.

INT. RUBBER PLANTATION - HOUSE - NIGHT

Gambling tables are set up in all the rooms. The betting is
heavy, champagne flows like water and the atmosphere is one
of reckless abandon, as if money, like love, were good for an
hour.

EXT. RUBBER PLANTATION - ROULETTE STAGE - NIGHT

Low bleachers covered in red velvet are set in a semi-circle
facing a small stage. The stage is lit with a single,
blindingly bright spotlight and is furnished with a table and
two velvet-covered chairs. Two CONTESTANTS, both of them
VIETNAMESE, sit opposite one another. Between them, lying on
the table, is a revolver. Both CONTESTANTS are dressed in
tuxedos. Both wear red numbers on their downstage arm.

Although the bleachers are not yet full, eager BETTORS jam
the first three rows. Here CLERKS with change trays take the
bets, signalling each transaction to a MARKER who chalks the
shifting odds on a large board.

CAMERA CLOSES ON NICK, standing in the aisle, staring in
disbelief at the evolution of the game he once played.

Now a REFEREE enters the stage carrying two strips of scarlet
cloth.

		REFEREE
		(amplified)
	Game number seven. Gentlemen will
	please wrap.

The CONTESTANTS wrap their heads with the scarlet cloth.

		REFEREE (CONT'D)
		(as he loads revolver)
	One cartridge. Game to be played to
	completion. Forfeit automatic after
	delay of one minute.

The REFEREE places the pistol back in the center of the table
and spins a wheel whose -intervals are alternately marked L
and R. The wheel clatters to a stop with the marker on L.

		REFEREE
	Gentleman on the left will now
	commence play.

The REFEREE steps out of the light. A gong sounds. The
CONTESTANT on the left picks up the pistol, spins the
cylinder, cocks it and

places it to his temple. He hesitates, pulls the trigger...
and clicks out.

NICK is unable to bear it. He turns, starts around toward the
back of the stage. AS NICK MOVES THROUGH THE GUESTS WE HEAR
THE SOUND OF THE CYLINDER CLICKING, AMPLIFIED OVER A P.A.
SYSTEM. WE HEAR THE CLICK OF THE HAMMER BEING COCKED...

NICK turns. The SECOND CONTESTANT has the pistol to his
temple. He pulls the trigger... THE GUN GOES OFF WITH A
DEAFENING ROAR and he topples on the floor.

The FIRST CONTESTANT STEPS FORWARD AS THE SPOTLIGHT NARROWS
TO CONTAIN HIM ALONE. HE BOWS, CLASPS HIS HANDS ABOVE HIS
HEAD AND DANCES AROUND.

NICK stares at the FIRST CONTESTANT celebrating his victory.
He looks around him. BETTORS are screaming and yelling in
five languages.

NICK starts off again, hurrying.

EXT. RUBBER PLANTATION - BACKSTAGE AREA NIGHT

NICK comes upon a pile of six naked CORPSES with their heads
blown off. Opposite the CORPSES -- sitting, standing, pacing,
squatting in the dirt -- are a GROUP OF WAITING CONTESTANTS.
Some of these are AMERICAN. Most are SOUTH VIETNAMESE,
several of whom have come with WIVES and FAMILIES. A few of
the contestants are well dressed, most are in rags. THREE. OF
THE WAITING CONTESTANTS ARE WEARING TUXEDOS.

Suddenly a WOMAN WITH A BABY lets out a shriek. NICK spins.
TWO BURLY MEN appear, bringing the CORPSE OF THE SECOND
CONTESTANT. As the WOMAN WITH THE BABY begins sobbing and
screaming with grief the BURLY MEN strip the tuxedo off the
SECOND CONTESTANT and then, as each article is summarily
removed, they begin dressing one of the WAITING CONTESTANTS
in it.

		ARMAND (V.O.)
	If you are brave and lucky I can
	make you rich.

NICK turns and finds ARMAND behind him. ARMAND studies him
for a fraction of a second and then smiles.

		ARMAND (CONT'D)
	C'est tres amusant... You have been
	promoted. And to a Jew... I am
	joking of course. Naturellement.
	Seriously, Nick, may I hope that
	you have come to play?

		NICK
	I came to see Merle.

		ARMAND
	Ah. Merle. And you know Merle?

		NICK
	Yeah.

		ARMAND
		(studies him)
	You are his friend.

		NICK
	Where is he???

		ARMAND
		(faint smile)
	Merle is under his tree... Beside
	the terrace. You can't miss him.

EXT. RUBBER PLANTATION - TREES BY TERRACE - NIGHT

GUESTS are still coming in from the cars, strolling down
through the trees in bright coveys and flocks, chattering
like birds.

Laughter comes from the terrace. Glass tinkles and the tiny
lanterns bob and sway.

NICK appears, hurrying down the steps. Suddenly he stops.

MERLE is sitting at a table under a nearby tree. He is alone,
dressed in a tuxedo, watching the arriving GUESTS with an
expression of dreamy detachment, as if they were rain drops,
or snow flakes, or falling stones.

		NICK
		(shouts)
	Merle!

MERLE turns, watching NICK as he crosses toward him. When
NICK reaches the table, he stands.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	Merle...! Jesus! Hey, how are you?

		MERLE
	Nick!... I thought you went home.

		NICK
	I did. I... This is stolen. I came
	back.

		MERLE
	Sit down.

NICK sits. MERLE's self-possession has thrown him. He doesn't
know where to start.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
		(breaking the silence)
	How's Linda?

		NICK
	Fine. She's fine... Merle, what the
	hell are you doing?

		MERLE
		(eyes him)
	I like it, Nick.

		NICK
	Merle... Hey, Merle, listen...
		(stares at him)
	Why?

For a moment MERLE doesn't answer. His eyes are pale, like
faded robin's eggs, and they seem to look through NICK, as if
to some landscape far beyond.

		MERLE
	I like it because it's simple.

A BEAUTIFUL VIETNAMESE GIRL steps up and whispers something
in MERLE's ear.

		MERLE (CONT'D)
		(stands)
	I have to go, Nick. We'll have a
	drink.

MERLE and the VIETNAMESE GIRL move into the CROWD.

		NICK
	Merle...! Merle, wait!

NICK starts after them. He can see them ahead, moving rapidly
through a GROUP OF ARVN OFFICERS and WHORES.

		NICK (CONT'D)
	Merle!!!

NICK sees he can never overtake them directly. He cuts around
to the terrace.

EXT. RUBBER PLANTATION - TERRACE - NIGHT

NICK maneuvers his way down to the end of the terrace.

		NICK
	Excuse me... Sorry... Sorry...
	Pardon.

NICK reaches the end of the terrace. MERLE and the BEAUTIFUL
VIETNAMESE GIRL have disappeared.

EXT. RUBBER PLANTATION - TERRACE - NIGHT

NICK sits at one of the tables. The terrace is deserted.

		REFEREE (V.O.)
	Gentleman on the right will now
	commence play.

EXT. RUBBER PLANTATION - HOUSE - NIGHT

The gaming tables are utterly deserted. AS NICK WANDERS
THROUGH THE EMPTY ROOMS THE SOUND OF THE GAME CONTINUES OVER
THE P.A. SYSTEM -- THE SOUND OF THE CYLINDER SPINNING, THE
SOUND OF THE HAMMER BEING COCKED... AND CLICK AFTER CLICK
INTO EMPTY CHAMBERS.

Suddenly NICK can stand it no more. He turns and starts
toward the entrance to the bleachers.

A SHOT EXPLODES OVER THE P.A. SYSTEM. NICK freezes, then he
runs.

EXT. RUBBER PLANTATION - ROULETTE THEATRE - NIGHT

NICK appears at the back of the aisle between the bleachers.
The CROWD is going wild, yelling and screaming. NICK pushes
through a group of BETTORS and then stops. A look of stunned
relief spreads over his features.

On the stage a tall figure stands alone in the spotlight,
head bowed in acknowledgement of the OVATION.

NICK grins. He begins yelling and screaming along with
everyone else.

On the stage the tall figure raises his head, pumps his fists
in the air and begins hooting maniacally.

... WE NOW SEE, AS DOES NICK, THAT THE TALL FIGURE IN THE
SPOTLIGHT IS NOT MERLE AT ALL. IT IS MERLE'S OPPONENT.

INT. V.F.W. POST - BASEMENT - DAY

Pipes crisscross the ceiling and there is the faint hiss of
leaking steam. Seated on a bench and all dressed-up in their
uniforms are FIVE OLD VETS. TWO VETS are on the nod. THE
OTHER THREE -- rheumy-eyed and ancient -- give patient
attention to the SIXTH VET who stands beside the boiler with
a bugle, trying to play TAPS.

		VET 1
	Up a little there... What would you
	say?

		VET 2
	Up.

The VET WITH THE BUGLE tries it again, flubs it, starts
over...

INT. V.F.W. POST - MAIN HALL - DAY

Three tables have been set up in the middle of the floor. The
tables have been laid with white cloth and the OLDER WOMEN
are setting out fresh flowers and laying the places for a
funeral breakfast. They work in silence, fussing over the
placement of each knife and fork.

AS THE WOMEN WORK WE HEAR THE SOUND OF THE CHOIR SINGING AS
THE SERVICE PROGRESSES IN THE CHURCH. AT FIRST THE SOUND IS
BARELY AUDIBLE, EASILY MATCHED BY THE FAINT NOTES OF THE VET
WITH THE BUGLE IN THE BASEMENT BELOW.
BUT NOW THE SOUND OF THE CHOIR GROWS -- A SOUND AS DEEP AS
WATER, AS DARK AS NIGHT; A SOUND LIKE STONE.

Gradually, one by one, the OLDER WOMEN stop fussing with the
table. They stand motionless, listening.

EXT. GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH - FRONT STEPS - DAY

A HEARSE waits at the curb. The day is windless, cold and
grey Snow is drifting down and the gleaming vehicle emits a
ghostly cloud of white exhaust.

THE SOUND OF THE CHOIR IS MUCH LOUDER, ASCENDING IN DARK
TRIUMPH TO A SUDDEN, FINAL NOTE.

In the ringing silence of the MUSIC'S END the doors to the
church swing open. NICK, VINCE, ALBERT and JOHN appear with
MERLE's flag-draped COFFIN. Followed by MOURNERS, they bear
the COFFIN slowly down the steps.

EXT. CEMETERY - DAY

Snow drifts down from a leaden sky as the MOURNERS stand
together on a steep hillside of tilted, weather-worn
headstones. The mill looms behind them, breathing roiling
clouds of steam and uttering a dull concordia of clanks and
groans.

EXT. CEMETERY - GRAVE SITE - DAY

The PRIEST completes his reading of the 23rd PSALM. The
MOURNERS join in the LORD'S PRAYER.

CAMERA CLOSES ON NICK, VINCE, ALBERT, JOHN and SAL. They help
SAL to the side of the grave. It is awkward. The chair gets
stuck and they have to carry it. THEY ALL pick up a handful
of dirt and then, following NICK's lead, they throw it in.

NICK steps back from the grave, nods to the VETS. The VETS
come to attention. The VET WITH THE BUGLE steps forward and
tremblingly, but perfectly, PLAYS TAPS.

INT. V.F.W. POST - MAIN HALL - DAY

The meal is over. The WOMEN are drinking coffee, the MEN are
smoking and putting down the beer. There is muted laughter
and conversation.

NICK sits at the head of one of the tables, flanked by LINDA
and SAL. He looks stunned. His food is untouched, there are
tears in his eyes and he hardly seems to know where he is.

		LINDA
	Eat something, Nick. Eat a piece of
	toast.

NICK nods, picks up a piece of toast and then, forgetting all
about it, lays it absently on his plate.

VINCE comes up behind NICK, looking somewhat officious in a
new blue suit.

		VINCE
	You want to say a few words, Nick?
	I think you should. Like that would
	wind things up.

NICK nods. VINCE raps on a glass.

		VINCE (CONT'D)
	Quiet!... Quiet!!!... Awright,
	everybody, Nick has a few words.

		NICK
		(very shaky)
	I just... would like to say a few
	words... about Merle. I guess Merle
	always wanted something... I don't
	know... better. That fucking guy,
	he saved my Life. He saved Sal's...
	What Merle liked, he liked things
	right... But then there wasn't any
	place for that... that he could
	find.

Tears are streaming down NICK's face and he sits down,
looking miserable.

		VINCE
		(hisses)
	John! Play something!

JOHN goes to the piano, hurried along by VINCE. He sits down,
casts a quick glance to the ceiling and begins playing
"America The Beautiful".

A FEW VOICES being SINGING. OTHERS join in. ALBERT stands up.
Then EVERYONE stands up.

			  THE END


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