(It is the seventh anniversary of the
second American-led invasion of Iraq.)
FAMILY HOUSING, AN AMERICAN MILITARY BASE.
A slap snoozes an ALARM CLOCK.
TRUMAN “True” TYDING, 7-year old Navy Brat, sleeps in clutter.
DESK: Revell models in stages of completion: An Empire Strikes Back Imperial At-At Walker, a F-16 FIGHTING FALCON, a H.M.S. Hood, a German U-Boat, a U.S.S. Midway, a U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, a U.S.S. Pennsylvania. Testors paints and glues. Xacto knives. Alligator clips. Row of NATO 7.62 bullet shells hold wilting dandelions. Terrarium with the elementary school’s tadpoles.
DISTRESSED DRESSER: YELLOW PIGGY BANK. The U.S. Naval Institute Journal, PROCEEDINGS. The NAVAL OFFICER’S GUIDE, Sir John Hackett’s THE THIRD WORLD WAR: THE UNTOLD STORY, Isaac Asimov’s FOUNDATION, Joe Haldeman’s THE FOREVER WAR, Frank Herbert’s DUNE.
WALL POSTERS: METALLICA. IRON MAIDEN. BLACK SABBATH. PINK FLOYD: The WALL. KISS: DESTROYER. THE POLICE. The U.S.S. MIDWAY. The U.S.S. MISSOURI. The U.S.S. CARL VINSON. F-4 PHANTOM JET. F/A-18 HORNET. Movie posters: FIREFOX, APOCALYPSE NOW and RED DAWN.
DOOR: LIFE-SIZE HUMAN SILHOUETTE TARGET. Frontal lobe grouping.
CEILING: Hangs: A F-4 PHANTOM chases a MIG-25 FOXBAT. A F-14 TOMCAT chases a MIG-29 FULCRUM. The ENOLA GAY, bomb bay open.
FLOOR: Toy soldiers scatter across magazines and manuals.
ALARM CLOCK roars again. True catapults, realizes he’s late.
True spins the numbers of his Combination Lock. Inside clothes mess; a poster of a female Soldier of Fortune wearing criss-crossing bandoliers and black parachute pants.
STEPHANIE, fixes her hair, practices Japanese. He runs to the toilet, wears woodland camouflage pants and a T-shirt: KILL A COMMIE FOR MOMMIE.
STEPHANIE: TRUMAN. Can you see I’m busy.
TRUE: Get a life.
Drops his pants. Sits and pees.
STEPHANIE: Gross .
TRUE: The DOOR Steph!
STEPHANIE: Close it yourself.
Dining room. True’s mother reads a Florida travel brochure.
TRUE’S MOTHER: Stephanie? Is that you?
He taps her on the right shoulder. She tilts her head but True moves to her left and steals toast.
TRUE’S MOTHER: You awake Anak? Magic Kingdom. What do you think?
TRUE: Are there deer?
Corpus Christi, Texas
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Long Beach, California
is attached to the Refrigerator.
TRUE’S MOTHER: Deer?
TRUE: Can I shoot deer?
TRUE’S MOTHER: No? We can cross out Hawaii. We’re not really seeing the world, if we’re returning to Pearl Harbor.
Retrieves a carton of orange juice.
TRUE: And not visit Grandpa and Grandma? I want to see the Arizona Memorial!
Swallows toast. He drinks.
TRUE’S MOTHER: Use a cup! Save some for your sister.
Places the carton on the table.
TRUE: It’s empty. Bye!
The Tyding’s home is a generic copy of military townhouses found worldwide.
JIMMIE DERRING, hapa, but you wouldn’t know it, on the lawn with his bike.
TRUE: Waiting long?
JIMMIE: (pleasantly irked) Let’s ride.
Jimmie speeds ahead, a game of follow the leader.
Navy Relief Thrift Store (6 MONTHS EARLIER). True reads previously owned comic books. His Mother and the Store Clerk sort Tyding hand-me downs.
A BELL welcomes Jimmie and his South Korean mother.
SALES CLERK: Let me know if I can help you find what you’re looking for.
Mrs. Derring admires a tea set.
Jimmie finds the comics, is shoulder to shoulder with True. The boys try to read but are distracted by Mrs. Tyding stalking Jimmie’s mother.
JIMMIE: That your mom?
TRUE: No. Yeah.
JIMMIE: What she doing?
TRUE: Don’t know. What she always does.
JIMMIE: She’ going for the kill, (mumbles Jaws theme) Da da da duh. Da da da duh. Da da da da, da da da da, da da da, da…..
Then BASE KLAXONS ROAR: BRRRRRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG.
The boys dive under a King-size poster bed.
TRUE: We dead yet?
JIMMIE: Shit. I think we’re very much alive.
TRUE: You’re new. I can tell.
JIMMIE: You dove. I dove. This happen a lot?
TRUE: Going to miss the drills.
JIMMIE: You moving.
TRUE: End of summer. Stateside.
The mother’s are talking. The drill did not faze them.
JIMMIE: I was just there. Not as fun as here.
TRUE: More fun living closer to the enemy.
Forest Trail (Present). The boys walk their bikes.
JIMMIE: So you know where you’re going?
TRUE: Disney Land or Disney World.
JIMMIE: It’s going to be weird.
TRUE: What is?
JIMMIE: Can’t believe you’re leaving. Because we’re meant to rule fourth grade.
Jimmie offers a palm. True slaps a five.
TRUE: Friends forever. Do or Die.
JIMMIE: I want the poster. You know which.
Deeper in to the forest. Jimmie puts a finger to his mouth.
JIMMIE: Shhhhhh. Hear that. Stealth mode. Bury the bikes.
True nods. Jimmy leads.
TRUE: Careful. Mines. Claymores.
JIMMIE: Bouncing Betties.
JIMMIE: Getting close. Keep your eyes open.
TRUE: Where are they.
Then he sees them but… True steps on a dry branch, a loud SNAP, alerting the gang.
TRUE: I’m hung on a trip wire.
Eyes an invisible chord to a booby trap grenade, a dirt clod. Jimmie plays along.
COOPER: I thought you guys were discrete.
TRUE: Don’t come any closer.
COOPER: What? Who the fuck are you? Why you just standing there.
JIMMIE: He’s stuck.
TRUE: DON’T COME ANY CLOSER.
COOPER: The hell I’m not.
Cooper picks up speed.
Cooper expects to be tackled.
True throws his body on top of the GRENADE.
TRUE AND JIMMIE: KABOOOOOOM!
The martyr writhes, flips on his back, holds his guts.
COOPER: What’s with him?
TRUE: (to Cooper) FUBAR. I’m a bloody mess. You going to thank me? I saved your life.
COOPER: And what are you supposed to be?
TRUE: A Wolverine. You can booby trap me with another grenade.
Cooper does not understand the RED DAWN reference.
COOPER: (whispers to Jimmie) Dump this piece of shit.
True brushes off the forest floor debris.
JIMMIE: Now play it cool.
They make a beeline for the leader, BRYAN, chews tobacco, carves the dirt with a stick.
FROGGER and COOPER fight a scene from THE KARATE KID.
FROGGER: Meet Crane!
They collide. Cooper dropkicks Frogger, then a head lock.
COOPER: Sleeper Hold! (to True) Do you know karate?
Cooper cuts and slices the air with his hands.
COOPER: Waaaaa. Ho. Heeee. Haaaa. Chop Suey po-wow-wow.
TRUE: Not a slice.
FROGGER: I thought all you Orientals know how to fight. Like it’s in the blood.
TRUE: Not me.
COOPER: Oh yeah? Jimmie you’re too white to be a half-breed. You useless too?
Jimmie shrugs apologetically.
Bryan spits chaw and scuffs the dirt drawing.
BRYAN: You good at anything?
COOPER: So. No kung fu expert but a comedian. You going to laugh me to death.
FROGGER: What’s your fucking joke.
TRUE: Muhammad Ali is at a restaurant. Orders coffee. The waitress offers him cream and sugar. But he says, “I like my coffee black.” Why?
COOPER: Hell do I know. My father likes his coffee black.
FROGGER: My father likes his with cream and sugar. Mother too.
JIMMIE: Tell em True.
TRUE: “Because,” says Muhammad Ali, “when you add white to coffee, you weaken it.”
JIMMIE: Good one. Told you True was funny.
Delayed reaction of CHUCKLES.
Bryan walks ahead, a slingshot in his pocket.
TRUE: We going bird hunting?
FROGGER: Something like that.
True studies the scuffed dirt drawing of a HEART, the words BRYAN & STEPHANIE inside.
Ranger Girls Vegetable Garden. Ranger Girls, a combination 4H-Club and Girl Scouts. Bryan’s older sister, 17-year old ELIZABETH, leads a work party.
The boys on their stomachs, hidden from view.
BRYAN: Check her out.
TRUE: Which one?
BRYAN: That one.
The kneeling Girl Ranger, Elizabeth.
TRUE: Isn’t that your sister?
BRYAN: Why do you think we are here?
COOPER: She has a cute….butt.
BRYAN: Shut the fuck up.
COOPER: I’m just saying. She has a cute…
The Scouts notice movement in the grass.
RANGER SCOUT: Look.
ELIZABETH: Whose there? I can see you.
Elizabeth picks up a dirt clod.
ELIZABETH: Show yourself or else.
She hurls the clod. It lands near the boys.
ELIZABETH: Leave now!
BRYAN: Fuck vegetables.
Bryan pulls the slingshot from his pocket. Locates a stone.
BRYAN: Lock and Load.
Cooper and Frogger pull out smaller slingshots. Jimmie picks ups several pine cones and hands some to True.
ELIZABETH: You’re right. No one’s there.
Bryan leaps, catapults a stone. The stone nails Elizabeth’s cheek.
She spins around.
Bryan has taken cover.
ELIZABETH: Rangers! The moment we’ve talked about.
The boys are amused.
BRYAN: Ready. CHARGE!
But the Ranger Girls beat them to the punch: potatoes, tomatoes, stones, dirt clods find their targets. They attack with garden implements.
ELIZABETH: Bryan! You’re dead meat!
Sidewalk, other side of the base. The boys walk through Family Housing towards another park.
FROGGER: What about your sister? You think she’s going to rat us out?
BRYAN: Fuck do I know.
FROGGER: Grounded for fuck sake.
BRYAN: Change the fucking subject.
FROGGER: Whatchoo call a Fast Frigate.
ALL BOYS: Fast Faggot.
COOPER: (to True) We all know that one. Cheer us up.
TRUE: A joke?
COOPER: Thought you said you’re a comedian.
TRUE: Remember last year. The marines died in the barracks.
BRYAN: Yeah. In Beirut. I remember.
TRUE: My cousin in Germany. His army unit was going to rotate the Marines. He’s lucky. The bombers waited another month or two, he’d be dead.
FROGGER: (sympathetic) Yeah. That the joke?
JIMMIE: We were in Camp Pendleton, South Carolina. Guess that’s why my Dad chose here.
BRYAN: To be farthest from.
FROGGER: (sympathetic) Yeah. And is that the joke?
TRUE: (upbeat) So this is my father’s favorite: Years into the future, a father, a Marine veteran, and his son visit a Memorial honoring the Marines killed in Beirut. The father explains that long ago, an Arab drove a truck strapped with explosives into the barracks killing almost everyone inside.
FROGGER: That’s it?
TRUE: No. The kid was perplexed.
TRUE: His son asks: Daddy. What are Arabs? You get it?
JIMMIE: The son doesn’t know what’s an Arab because there are no more Arabs in the world. We killed them all.
BRYAN: You call that funny?
Park. Late-blooming cherry blossom.
BRYAN: We’re here.
Bryan turns around, raises a fist, punches True in the mouth, knocking him to the ground.
COOPER: FUBAR! Fucked up beyond any recognition.
Cooper cups True’s mouth.
TRUE: (muffled) What are you doing?… Jimmie!
BRYAN: Hold him.
Frogger and Cooper pounce.
COOPER: Oh yeah. O yeah. Who’s funny now!
TRUE: (muffled) Help me Jimmie.
FROGGER: Here it comes.
BRYAN: Easy buddy. I just want to know.
Unzips True’s pants.
BRYAN: IS YOU’RE DICK AS BROWN AS YOUR FACE?
Then, BASE KLAXONS ROAR: BRRRRRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG.
Jimmie hovers. The other boys drift down the park, retelling, laughing.