Carrier
a music drama in two acts by
Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller
in collaboration with
Stephen Patterson
Characters

In 1991
Edmond Bailey: mid-forties, an appeals lawyer
Jeri Ellen: late forties, a legal secretary

In 1971
Eddie Bailey: mid-twenties, Navy pilot
Kay: mid-twenties, his wife, bank teller
Michael Rogers, Jay Landis, Wink Winkelman, Kenneth O’Grady (Navy pilots)
Kim, Rosie, Shauna, Tiffany (Vietnamese bar girls)
Controller
Del Derrydale: late twenties, graduate assistant and rock singer — a memory
Voices & Figures

Setting
The play takes place the evening of January 16, 1991, shortly after commencement of the bombing of Iraq, and in Edmond Bailey’s memory of 1971.
At one side, a cramped law office in Baltimore. Cluttered desk, files, and a door to the secretary’s outer office.
The rest of the stage is structured in modular compartments suggestive of an aircraft carrier. Locations include the unior officers’ stateroom of an aircraft carrier; another stateroom; officers’ mess; Eddie’s teenage bedroom; Kay’s kitchen; Eddie & Kay’s bedroom; bank teller’s cubicle; radio control room; bar; and a hotel room.
Behind, at times in silhouette through a scrim, Del Derrydale’s rock band performs, Derrydale as lead singer. Other times, Derrydale sits in this position at a bar table.
The original staging used three stage-level areas: Bailey’s office to the left; a stage-right wagon used for all the scenes in the USA; a center wagon, moving forward, for all foreign scenes. The Controller was high up at one side; Derrydale and the band high above the center.
The songs were also accompanied by choreographed shadow mime sequences, on a rear projection screen lit by transparencies from overhead projectors, creating a semi-abstract expansion of the songs.
Music

The piece is a dramatic cantata. Songs are scored for lead singer, backup chorus, electric guitar, percussion, synthesizer and sequencer. Sound also occurs under most of the action on shipboard; silence is rare.

Each scene concludes with a song: electronic accompaniment, live voices, sometimes group, sometimes solo. The songs come from Del Derrydale’s band, but it’s not the music that he actually played, rather what Bailey imagines that he might have sung in response to Bailey’s own experience.

All characters other than Edmond Bailey, Eddie, Kay, and Jeri Ellen may form the musical chorus.

© 1991 by Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller. All rights reserved.
For production rights, contact WordWorkers at 800-357-6016 or E-mail.
Act One
I.
We hear distant ship and sea, clanks and squawks and water. As the lights dim, we hear a CNN news broadcast:
VOICE: Reports indicate that there is something going on in Iraq. We do not know what is going on, but. . .
Report cuts to collage of reporters’ voices at Baghdad hotel. Music. Reports fade. Radio talk on multiple channels.
VOICES: Raven Flight, this is Mother. Raven up.
Roger, Raven Flight. Come to 040, climb and maintain angels 3.5, go 305.0 for Skyshield control, over.
Roger, Mother. Raven Flight to 040, angels 3.5, 305.0 for Skyshield, break-break.
Raven Flight, this is Lead, go 305.0 now. Roger, Lead.
Skyshield Control this is Raven Flight up this net, lean and mean with three, how copy?
Roger, Raven Flight, we gotcha, say your goodies, over.
Sudden cut-off. Distant explosions.
Lights up: Edmond Bailey, a man in his mid-forties, balding, sits at lawyer’s desk. Jeri Ellen, a slightly older legal secretary, enters, puts papers on his desk to sign.
BAILEY: What’s happening?
JERI ELLEN: Same thing. Bombing Baghdad. Boom boom.
Pause.
You’re working hard. Are you going to finish that petition, or let the nice man fry?
BAILEY: Let him fry. “Your Honor, we stipulate that my client did indeed enter the post office with an Uzi—”
JERI ELLEN: Not an Uzi. Be accurate.
BAILEY: “Did shoot six people, kill three—” Don’t you love it? Fifteen people sprawled all over, and he tosses down his weapon and walks out. “I’m not gonna stand in line!” I didn’t choose this case—
JERI ELLEN: You could’ve said no.
BAILEY: I can’t say no to Larry—
JERI ELLEN: Not when he says, “Ed, you’re the best appeals guy in Baltimore! You’ve got balls!”
BAILEY: So all we know is we’re bombing Baghdad?
JERI ELLEN: Turn on the radio. There’s a news crew in the main hotel, they’re running around looking out each other’s windows. Ed, I need to get done here. I called Max, he’s watching the war so he cremated the pot roast, so if we could get this petition done—
BAILEY: We’ve got till ten a.m. tomorrow.
JERI ELLEN: Ed—
BAILEY: Boom boom.
JERI ELLEN: My son is eighteen, Ed.
BAILEY: Right. I know. Right. Yes. Ok. Right.
Starts signing papers, organizing others.
Why didn’t they buy insanity?
JERI ELLEN: Post-combat stress doesn’t count as crazy. He’s acting perfectly normal. It’s the only sane thing to do.
BAILEY: Look, why don’t we just forget this crap, and go find a motel, and fuck our brains out?
JERI ELLEN: Go fuck your own brains out. Some day I’m going to say yes. Just to see you panic.
BAILEY: True. I’m just— The reason I— This is so freaky, I put this off till the deadline, and it’s Wednesday night and we’re dropping bombs— It brings back—
JERI ELLEN: Ed. Settle.
He tries to continue organizing papers, then suddenly flings them away. Jeri Ellen starts forward, hesitates. Pause.
Ed?
BAILEY: True.
Long pause. He starts picking up papers.
JERI ELLEN: We’re not going on a killing spree, now, are we?
BAILEY: “The only sane thing to do.”
JERI ELLEN: So you’re between girlfriends, and you’re sitting there harried and haunted and horny. So what else is new?
BAILEY: Could we just talk a minute?
JERI ELLEN: No. Finish it. Now.
She goes out. Bailey sorts through his wallet, takes out photo. Rumbling of ship machinery. Bailey turns to us, as if to his reflection in the mirror.
BAILEY: Post-combat stress. Ok, I can have some sympathy for the guy. He fought a totally different war than I did. He’s in the jungle, cutting off ears for souvenirs. While I get up, breakfast, fly a mission, come back to the ship, my bed’s made, listen to my stereo, write some letters, fly another mission— Like going to the office, dodging SAMs at the middle management level—
But nothing like—
VOICES: Raven flight. . . Mother. . . 040. . . climb. . . maintain. . .
BAILEY: I love technology. An airplane, all these fantastic gadgets, your instruments are your reality. You learn the scan, the instrument scan, a routine regimented trip with your eyes around the panel, and this is your reality.
It’s hammered into you. When you don’t have a visual reference, the body gives signals the brain interprets incorrectly. So you must ignore what your body tells you. I feel like I’m rolling over, but the instruments say I’m fine, I damn well better believe it or I won’t be fine very long.
VOICES: Skyshield control. . . Skyshield. . . break-break. . .
BAILEY: And you carry it over. You— what you sense — you— are not real. Your marriage is going to hell, you get this tense gut, every time you see her you’re ready to crash. But nope! The instruments don’t lie! The toaster pops up perfect every time.
Looks at the photo.
Who the hell carries around, in his wallet, for twenty years, a picture of himself? What kind of nut does that?
He stands looking at the photo. Music. A boy’s bedroom appears, model airplanes hanging from the ceiling. Eddie and Kay stand at the doorway.
VOICES: Raven Flight, this is Mother. Raven up.
Roger, Raven Flight. Come to 040, climb and maintain angels 3.5, go 305.0 for Skyshield control, over.
Roger, Mother. Raven flight to 040, angels 3.5, 305.0 for Skyshield, break-break.
Roger, Raven, we gotcha. We gotcha. We gotcha.
BAILEY: I’m engaged. I’m home, just finished OCS, ready to go into flight school. My folks invited us over to dinner. I show her my old bedroom, model airplanes. . .
He starts working, avoiding the memory.
EDDIE: Here it is.
KAY: Well. (looking at model planes) You’d never guess.
EDDIE: I even had some of the old balsa jobs that you had to cut out struts for the wings. Here, start with this.
BAILEY: Shut up.
EDDIE: This is a Sopwith, World War I, this is amazing. They fitted this with bomb carriers, kind of a pipe rack under the wing, and the bomb is held by a pin. So they’re over the target, the pilot pulls a string, the pin pulls out and it drops.
And a Fokker Eindecker. Spitfire, World War II. RAF Blenheims, used them against German night bombers, on-board radar.
KAY: Should I be taking notes?
EDDIE: If you want a Navy career. No, all you have to do is practice your look of amazement whenever a shit-hot future Naval Aviator runs off at the mouth like this.
Now back to the war. Which war? Any war. Japanese Zero. Messerschmitt. F-86 Sabre Jet. MiG-15. F-104 Starfighter, they originally had to have swept-back wings to go supersonic, but what they did here— I’m not sure you need to know all this. Grumman F5U Corsair, the ultimate prop fighter. Hellcat, Bearcat—
KAY: Is this all you ever thought about?
EDDIE: Not entirely. There came a certain period of time when. . .
BAILEY: There came a certain time when they were the last thing on my mind.
Eddie and Kay laugh.
EDDIE: So this is me.
KAY: This is you.
He embraces her. She pushes him away playfully.
Hey, not here. I don’t go to bed with little boys.
BAILEY: Most women go to bed with little boys.
EDDIE: It’s easy.
KAY: Let me retain my illusions for a while.
EDDIE: Three weeks.
She kisses him playfully.
BAILEY: Little boys. . .
Kay picks up a photo album.
EDDIE: Oh God, not that! My mom put it there to destroy me!
KAY: Since I’m going to marry this little boy, I want to make sure I recognize him.
EDDIE: I will not look.
KAY: Ok, then I won’t look.
EDDIE: Hey, no fair.
They laugh, look through the album. He picks out several loose photos.
You are looking at a skinny little kid on the verge of becoming an American Navy air ace, while all the jocks are back home running a Chevy agency.
KAY: You’re pretty bizarre tonight.
EDDIE: I guess.
KAY: I prefer you a little more normal.
EDDIE: (showing photo) Whatta you think? Here. For the long lonely nights of a Navy wife. Take two or three. I’m gonna keep one just to remember who I am.
KAY: (taking one) I think you’re pretty aware.
EDDIE: I think so.
BAILEY: Smart guy.
EDDIE: The secret— What they say, I mean— Aircraft, the secret is knowing it’s easy. Like first time you’re behind the wheel in a car, you think there’s no way you can do it, and then you do. The secret is knowing it’s easy.
BAILEY: In an aircraft.
Pause.
KAY: What’s wrong?
EDDIE: Realized— I said almost exactly the same— Just before AOCS— It was a very— You know Derrydale?— No, you don’t, but you—
KAY: Do you need rewinding?
EDDIE: (holding up plane) This one, I stuck together parts from about six different kits. I called it the X-1.
BAILEY: Derrydale was a graduate assistant when I was a freshman. Composition. And on weekends he had this rock band, kinda crazy, progressive, not my kinda stuff, but we hit it off.
As he speaks, Eddie and Kay move about, looking at planes, certificates on the wall, Boy Scout badges. At last they sit on the bed.
Derrydale appears distant, at a bar table. He begins to talk with passion, unheard.
And for some reason, when I was graduating, I didn’t tell him I was planning to go in the Navy. I just didn’t— Maybe I was— Somebody else told him. And we were at this bar he was playing at. Billy’s Tavern. And I couldn’t believe it. He pleaded with me not to. He begged me. By the end of it he was crying. I didn’t know how to react. So I left.
Derrydale fades. Eddie rises.
EDDIE: Wanta see if dinner’s ready?
KAY: Well so what happened?
EDDIE: Oh I was talking about flying, this friend of mine was— He was giving me a hard time. No big deal.
KAY: (embracing him) I’m very proud of you.
EDDIE: Me too.
Eddie tickles her. They laugh, embrace.
BAILEY: He told me, “You won’t have the balls to stop being a hero.”
He grinds a pencil in the electric sharpener. Tries to work. Jeri Ellen comes to the doorway, looks at him, goes out.
Eddie and Kay lie back on the bed. Distant, Derrydale’s band in silhouette. He sings, with invisible back-up chorus.
DERRYDALE: The secret
The secret is knowing it’s easy
Like driving a car, like riding your bike
Like a kiss the first kiss when she’s waiting one night in Tacoma
No way can you do it, but then you do
And two years later it’s hard to imagine a time she wasn’t there.
    Roger, Raven, we gotcha.
    We gotcha we gotcha.
The secret
The secret is knowing it’s easy
Like making the phone call, chewing a straw,
Like saying those words while she’s drinking a coke in Tacoma
    No way can you do it, but then you do—
And you know the limits, know how to fly at those limits
And the guy who wins is the guy who bends his bird to the limits.
To the limits. To the limits. To the limits.
In the bedroom, Eddie becomes passionate. Kay sits up. Kisses him lightly, indicates they should go to dinner. They get up.
The secret is knowing it’s easy
Like saying “I do,” like saying goodbye
Cause she’s small and she’s sweet but she’s perfectly safe in Tacoma
No way can you do it, but then you do
And two years later it’s hard to remember her hair.
Kay goes out.
    Roger, Raven, we gotcha.
    We gotcha we gotcha.
WHO MAKETH THE CLOUDS HIS CHARIOT. . .
Lights change sharply, pinpointing Eddie and Derrydale.
EDDIE: I don’t know what you’re talking about. No, she thinks it’s great. It’s a great career—
VOICES: WHO WALKETH THE WINGS OF THE WIND. . .
EDDIE: Where do you get that stuff? I’m serving my country, what’s wrong with serving your country? If you can’t trust the United States, then who the hell do you trust?
VOICES: WHO MAKETH HIS ANGELS SPIRITS. . .
EDDIE: It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I don’t understand what you’re saying. I do not understand what you’re saying.
VOICES: HIS MINISTERS FLAMING FIRE.
EDDIE: I gotta go.
Music fades to a faint, sustained chord.
II.
Lights in office. Bailey loads a 35mm camera. Jeri Ellen enters, hands him papers.
BAILEY: Got something for me?
JERI ELLEN: Round Two.
BAILEY: I am working. I’m taking a break to re-energize. What’s happening?
JERI ELLEN: I’m typing.
BAILEY: On the radio.
JERI ELLEN: We’re making deadly pinpoint attacks with laser-guided smart bombs which distinguish Good from Evil.
BAILEY: That’s total bullshit.
JERI ELLEN: I turned it off.
BAILEY: Please keep it on.
JERI ELLEN: I’ll bring it in here.
BAILEY: I don’t want to listen. Keep it in there. But please keep it on.
JERI ELLEN: End of recess.
She takes the camera out of his hands, puts it on the bookshelf. Voices chant, layered.
VOICES: Tiger two two five roger roger
Cycle to coast in feet are dry my feet are dry
Three to the turn point pickle hot pickle hot
Stand by roger shit hot stand by stand by. . .
Lights up in a junior officers’ stateroom. Three bunks, lockers, desks. Bosun announcement on squawk box: “The smoking lamp is now lit now hear this the smoking lamp is now lit from 5 tac 21 tac 135 the smoking lamp is now lit. . . . Duty officer please call the bridge. Duty officer please call the bridge.”
Eddie sits in his bunk, with a 35mm camera. Puts it down, starts writing letter. Two junior officers enter: O’Grady in his flight suit, Rogers opening mail. O’Grady starts changing, then stands motionless.
EDDIE: Good stuff?
ROGERS: Good stuff. (pointing) Good?
EDDIE: (waving letter) Good.
Lights up on Kay in kitchen, on phone.
KAY: Oh about every other day. Well he does, Sue, it’s amazing, he writes great letters. I’ll send you and Mom, ok, an expurgated sample. (laughing) No, wait, here. Listen. I asked him just, ok, “What do you do on a typical day?”
BAILEY: Typical day.
EDDIE: Typical day.
ROGERS: What?
Bailey sorts papers, then looks at us, as if to his reflection.
KAY: (reading) Ok. “Assuming I’m scheduled for a morning mission, I’m wakened by a phone call from the Ready Room, four in the morning, get up, pull on a flight suit—”
BAILEY: Very quiet at that time, just the rock of the bow and the hum. . .
KAY: “Go down, have breakfast, they cook 24 hours a day, people sitting around playing acey-deucy, writing letters or reading—”
EDDIE: What are you reading?
ROGERS: Hot stuff.
WINKELMAN: (entering) Where’s the party?
O’GRADY: Hey, would you knock?
WINKELMAN: (to Rogers) Lemme read.
They devour the letter together, giggling.
KAY: “Head up to intelligence briefing, big charts, plastic overlays to show the routes in for the strikes, kinds of airplanes and the type of strikes—” He’s poetic, huh?
BAILEY: “VA-93, mission is a reported truck dump, go in on this frequency, call sign is such and such, that’s your primary target, if it’s covered then your secondary target is such and such—” Some of the jargon’s so far behind me. . .
KAY: “All the off-limits targets—” Hold on. . .
EDDIE: Off-limits. . .
ROGERS: What?
EDDIE: What?
ROGERS: Are you here?
Bosun: “Damage control officer please call 2120. Damage control officer please call 2120.”
O’Grady, still in his flight suit, lies on his bunk. Outburst of giggles from Winkelman reading letter.
O’GRADY: (very irritable) Hey, get the fuck outa here, you fruit. Go pump gas. This is an attack squadron.
ROGERS: Hey! Tennessee Ernie! This is my ring-knocking buddy! We are Academy! Sure, he’s a candy-ass. Nobody’s perfect.
EDDIE: How’s life in the Whale, Wink?
WINKELMAN: Keeping your asshole flying. (to Rogers) Acey-deucy?
ROGERS: Roger.
KAY: “So they give us the codes for the day, so they say Alpha 005-1900, and you look down at your little clipboard strapped on your leg, changes every day. Falcon codes are a standing thing, they’re informal.”
EDDIE: Ken, you ok?
O’GRADY: (without looking up, as if on intercom) Falcon 888! 888!
BAILEY: “You may not love the fucking admiral but the admiral loves fucking you.”
KAY: “Then go the Ready Room, find what airplane I’m flying, talk to the crew, and then half an hour before launch, I go up and walk around my airplane, make sure it’s properly fused—”
EDDIE: Ken?
KAY: “And strap myself in, engine check, taxi up to the catapult. Then after the cat shot, you go up, circle, and then break off, head in on the coordinates, and then as you cross the beach you call in Feet Dry.” Hold on, I need to check on Annie. . .
Rogers and Winkelman go out. Bailey folds paper into an airplane.
VOICES: Steady up on it on it pickle pull out
Raven two report off roger off hot
Nose down ten down pickle off hot
Raven lead in hot shit hot shit hot. . .
Jeri Ellen enters, shoves Bailey a paper.
JERI ELLEN: I don’t think you want to say this, do you?
BAILEY: Oh Christ. Let’s see if I can screw this up totally. Thank you. (scribbling) What’s the news?
JERI ELLEN: You better concentrate.
BAILEY: I’m just very— This really— What’s the news?
JERI ELLEN: Very accurate strikes, no civilian areas—
BAILEY: Bullshit—
JERI ELLEN: No aircraft lost—
BAILEY: Bullshit— The damn capital city?— Come on— I did that stuff! I know what they throw up there!
JERI ELLEN: Ed. You’re here. You’re not there. You’re here.
BAILEY: Would you find Morry’s research on the jury charge relating to diminished capacity. I think we have a problem here.
JERI ELLEN: Will do.
BAILEY: We’re professionals, right? We have a job to do, we do it. We’re part of a system, right? One of the best. The structures. The purpose. The people.
He tosses the paper airplane.
JERI ELLEN: You’re bizarre.
She goes out.
KAY: “Then after the mission, we rendezvous, come around and land. Catch the wire, taxi. Down to the Ready Room, landing signal officer gives you a score on the landing.”
BAILEY: (mimicking a tirade) “Fair pass, Bailey, and that’s a gift. High at the 180. You sucked off too much power, chased the ball, dropped your nose in the groove, scared the shit outa me, lucky I don’t give you a cut, climbing at the ramp to a two wire, Chrissake!” It comes back—
VOICES: Raven two call the ball roger ball
Power power fly the ball come on eddie fly the ball
Come on eddie fly the ball gimme power fly the ball
Eddie goes to O’Grady, waves to break his wall. O’Grady gives a mock salute.
O’GRADY: Hi Eddie.
EDDIE: What’s the matter?
O’GRADY: You never ask somebody what’s the matter, you fruit. I had a perfect mission. A genuine honest-to-God target, a truck convoy, walked’em right down the road, boom-a-ta-boom-a-ta-boom, three secondaries. Perfect, you asshole.
KAY: “Then lunch, read mail, office work, make sure all the safety sheets are written up. Play some acey-deucy. Maybe a second mission. Movies at night. It’s a life.”
EDDIE: Hey, this is a life, you know that?
O’GRADY: Appears to be.
EDDIE: I mean it’s a life. We’re professionals, right? We have a job to do, we’re part of a system, one of the best. The structures. The technology. The purpose. The people.
BAILEY: It’s a life.
EDDIE: It’s perfect.
O’Grady turns face down. Eddie hesitates, checks time, puts camera in locker, puts on his boots, ready to go on second mission. Kay hangs up, looks at letter.
Distant, Derrydale’s band. Jeri Ellen brings in a thick file folder, goes out.
DERRYDALE: WHO DRIVETH HIS CHARIOT
    He learns to do what a hard man does
        (action for action for action for action for nothing)
    He learns to do what a hard man does
    It’s a wonderful life
    He learns to pull on his boots and walk into fire
        It’s a life it’s perfect
WHO WALKETH THE WIND
    He learns to say what a hard man says
        (words that mean words that mean words that mean nothing)
    He learns to say what a hard man says
    It’s a wonderful life
    He learns to spread his wings and fly into flame
        It’s a life it’s perfect
    He learns to love like a hard man loves
        (love you to love you to love you to love you to nothing)
    He learns to love like a hard man loves
    Wonderful life
    He learns to fold up his face and pack it away
    Pull on his boots and spread his wings
    Fold up his face and pack it away
    It’s a life it’s perfect
        Nothing so fine
        It was mine.
WHO MAKETH HIS ANGELS FLAMING FIRE.
III.
Bailey opens a desk drawer, takes out a pint bottle of Scotch and glass. Pours. Jeri Ellen enters, stops dead.
JERI ELLEN: Oh God. Crisis time.
BAILEY: Don’t lecture me, Jeri.
JERI ELLEN: We’re doing an all-nighter, huh?
BAILEY: “Let’s spend the night together, da da da da-da da-da-da. . .” Johnny Walker?
JERI ELLEN: Thanks, but I’m the designated typist.
BAILEY: This brings back so— Do you mind if we— I can’t get it together to worry about this pitiful sonofabitch when I feel so sorry for myself.
With great resignation, Jeri Ellen sits.
JERI ELLEN: Ok. Talk.
Bailey is nonplused. After a moment:
BAILEY: What got to me was the accidents. You expected the other stuff, suicide missions, Bridges at Toko-ri, blah-blah. But accidents— You know what I’m saying?
No response. He drinks.
I have never been a successful drunk. We all had our private lockers, and most of us, strictly against regulations, kept a bottle. Didn’t drink it — you’re up in the air, you don’t want a hangover — but it’s like the legendary condom in the wallet. Prepared for special occasions.
Like this jerk. They should have argued that mass murder is pure accident. Sure, he planned it, he bought the cartridges, wrote notes in rhymed couplets, but — That’s the nature of accidents: they’re elaborately prepared. Not premeditated. Prepared. Wars, felonies, marriages, ditto.
Eddie and other officers come into a stateroom.
When we lost a guy, there was a stateroom wake. We’d go in, and his best friend, maybe, would open his safe, his locker, sort out his belongings, what to send to his wife, then we’d find his bottle and drink him a toast. Pass the bottle, and when it’s all gone, we left.
EDDIE: You got the combination?
ROGERS: These little chickenshit locks. . .
WINKELMAN: Lemme do it.
ROGERS: It’s your speed, baby.
Winkelman gives him a dirty look, begins to try the lock on the desk safe. In Eddie’s bedroom, Kay looks at model airplanes.
BAILEY: My first one— You sort of anticipate the first, and then after you’ve been to a few— Owens didn’t drink, but he kept a bottle, I guess so we wouldn’t be disappointed.
WINKELMAN: That should work.
O’GRADY: Some things work. Some don’t.
LANDIS: Don’t get morbid.
O’GRADY: Stating a fact.
LANDIS: Facts. . .
WINKELMAN: Got it.
ROGERS: Right man for the job.
Winkelman opens the safe. The men sort the contents of the safe and locker, one handing items to others to sort into piles.
BAILEY: I was in my stateroom, my stateroom’s below the catapults, so they fire, this big whhhhh, then boom when the shuttle hit the end of the track. I wasn’t paying attention, kinda half-heard an A-7 at max power, on the cat, then it fired . . . and I knew it was wrong, just the sound of it—
Eddie holds up trousers to check the fit.
You’re firing this guy and his plane and his bombs, up to nineteen tons, from zero to 200 knots in a hundred and fifty feet. So a cable hooks onto the front, and a device that breaks under pressure is holding the plane at the back, called a holdback. Then the cat is brought up to tension, pilot goes to max, salutes the cat officer, who makes this sweep of his arm to signal to fire the cat. Launch my ass, Mother. . .
The others find a bottle. Rogers opens it. Winkelman takes out glasses and cups, Rogers pours. They pass around cups.
ROGERS: Here’s to Dick Owens.
They drink. Bosun: “Chief engineer report to the bridge. Chief engineer report to the bridge.”
Bailey drinks from his glass. In bedroom, Kay sits on bed, reads a letter.
JERI ELLEN: So?
BAILEY: So what happened was, the cat ripped the wheel assembly right off the frame, plane’s rolling about half speed, empty shuttle hits the end of the track, wham, and he kind of drag-races off the front of the ship, ejects, comes blasting up in his seat on a pillar of fire, but not fast enough. Hit eject at 3.7 seconds after the cat shot, 3.2 he would’ve got a full chute. “Pilot in the water, launch Angel.” Angel goes out, hauls him up, he’s dead. B.N.A.
EDDIE: B.N.A.
WINKELMAN: B.N.A.
JERI ELLEN: B.N.A.?
BAILEY: Breaks of Naval Air.
ROGERS: Sonsabitches.
WINKELMAN: Which sonsabitches?
ROGERS: Motherfuckers we’re fighting. He’s one of the best guys in the squadron.
EDDIE: They didn’t get him. His airplane broke.
BAILEY: His airplane broke.
ROGERS: He’s one of the best. They try to kill a guy like that.
LANDIS: We’re trying to kill them. That’s what we’re here for.
ROGERS: We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for those fuckers.
WINKELMAN: Don’t get political.
EDDIE: His airplane broke.
ROGERS: Fuckers.
WINKELMAN: (to Eddie) Trousers fit?
EDDIE: Think so.
WINKELMAN: Take’em.
BAILEY: And it’s because he tried to fly it — instinct — for one-half second too long. And then the talk: “Boy, what I woulda done,” everybody had a theory, what he shoulda done, what they woulda done, some bullshit. But we all knew. Accident. It’s worse than a guy getting blown away. That’s what we’re there for, to get blown away. But Commander Owens, all these missions, shot at by every miracle of modern technology— the fucking airplane broke!
ROGERS: He shoulda got promotions. He was a damn good stick.
WINKELMAN: Good stick. Lousy at paperwork.
ROGERS: Fuck paperwork.
WINKELMAN: Fuck paperwork, sure, but it’s a fact.
ROGERS: Fuck the paperwork! Paperwork don’t get the job done! We get the job done!
WINKELMAN: Yeh we do.
ROGERS: Good stick.
WINKELMAN: Damn good.
ROGERS: Fuckers.
LANDIS: You wanta send this stuff to his wife? Write a note or something?
ROGERS: Naw, let Owens do it, he was more—
Stops abruptly.
Owens. Hoo. I started to say, “Let Owens do it, cause he’s good at that stuff.”
WINKELMAN: “He knew him better.” (chuckling) Sick.
ROGERS: Shit. I haven’t drunk nothin for a while.
O’GRADY: I’ll do it.
ROGERS: “Let Owens do it.” Holy shit.
EDDIE: Everybody hold it.
They look at him. He snaps a flash picture.
O’GRADY: What’s that for? His wife?
EDDIE: I dunno.
Advances film. A pause, perplexed.
I dunno why I did that.
JERI ELLEN: What’s the point, Ed?
BAILEY: He’s sitting there— I’m sitting there— Full power, heart banging, focussed, and it falls apart. Cat fires, feel it all in an instant, airplane chugging out to the end of the deck, “Eject, Eject!”— But you’re way ahead, you’re shit hot, half second to eject. Half second! Eject! Half a second, hell. I took six years.
Distant, band appears. Men leave the stateroom. Bosun: “Now hear this now hear this. Congratulations to Commander Chuck Potterfield for completing his 2000th trap on board. Now hear this, congratulations to Commander Chuck Potterfield for completing his 2000th trap on board.” Eddie holds the trousers, checking the fit.
Jeri Ellen picks up papers, checks corrections, gives a thumbs-up sign, goes out. Bailey turns to his work.
DERRYDALE: Situation is BNA now
The Breaks of Naval Air
Needle says we’re flyin somewhere
Flyin to a carnival
    Where the rides break down
    When the shuttle hits the end of the track and it’s
        Here’s to Dick Owens
        Do the trousers fit?
        Damn good stick
        Lousy at paperwork
    Not really a war
Make it fly make it fly make it fly
Starting our tour there’s a crackle in the air
Out in the middle of somewhere
Goin to a carnival
    Where the rides break down—
Wild drum solo. Derrydale goes into mock spasms. Recovers. Signals band.
Comin to the end of our tour now
Not a lot of time to spare
Musta gone somewhere
Gone to a carnival
    Where the rides break down
    When the shuttle hits the end of the track and it’s
        Here’s to Ed Bailey
        Do his trousers fit?
        Damn good stick
        Lousy at paperwork
    Not really a war.
Bailey grinds a pencil in the sharpener.
IV.
Suddenly Bailey starts working.
BAILEY: Get to work. Why the fuck not? Establish justice.
Picks up legal pad, starts writing. Stops.
Why didn’t I just bomb this sonofabitch? Bad attitude, Raven. He was down in the jungle while you were on a joyride. You didn’t really fight a war. More like a vacation interspersed with some pretty bizarre behavior. And hell, we weren’t like that, we were officers and gentlemen, we didn’t machine-gun peasants, we— We just hit targets.
Starts skimming transcript.
Grounds for appeal. Very promising. Procedural errors. Improper evidence: it is not strictly necessary to put on the stand the mother of a five-year-old boy whose entire genital apparatus was shot away, and ask, “How did that make you feel?” I can defend this guy. I can. I’m a professional. I am— Very— Professional!
Pause.
I told her once, I was trying to be honest, for a change, that if it was ever a choice between family or Navy, I’d choose the Navy. She said, “I know what you mean.” She wanted a guy who had no doubts. I was the guy.
Kay writes to Eddie. Eddie appears in limbo, in helmet and full flight suit.
VOICES: Raven flight, this is Mother, come to 040, climb and maintain angels 3.5, go 305.0 for Skyshield control, over.
Roger, Mother, Raven flight to 040, angels 3.5, 305.0 for Skyshield, break-break.
Raven flight, this is Lead, go 305.0 now. Skyshield Control this is Raven flight up this net, lean and mean with three, how copy?
KAY: (writing letter) Dearest Eddie, Dear Eddie, Dearest Ed. . . Sounds funny to write it out. My term papers always got A’s, so I should be a better writer. No problem when I just write chatty news and put in lots of little faces with smiles. Chatter like high school.
EDDIE: Night missions. Cat shot, you launch out there, suddenly out in black space, about forty feet over water just trying to get it up. See the ship, minimal lights, runways. Sea black, stars, black night.
KAY: But I start to write, I write the same garbage women have been writing to their men for about fifty thousand years. “Hi honey, gee I miss you. I’m so proud of you, going off with your bow and your arrow and your bomb.” I don’t mean that like it sounds.
BAILEY: (to Kay) You said you liked heroes. That’s a direct quote.
EDDIE: Night missions are pretty. Tracers, shells, rocket exhaust from missiles. In the dark, you’re constantly scanning. Ignore what your body tells you. Trust the instruments, not the senses. Only the instruments know.
BAILEY: That’s what makes a pro.
Bailey begins writing on his pad, with sudden energy.
VOICES: Roger, Raven flight, say your goodies, over.
Skyshield, Raven flight’s hauling 16 Mark 82’s, two Sparrows, full shooters, what’ve you got for us today, over?
Raven flight, bad guys on the move, couple trucks, Jack the FAC is on’em and up this net. Your vector to target 285 at 25 miles, right to 270 and arm’em up. Good hunting.
KAY: I want to say something. I am proud, and I miss you. But—
Stops writing.
I don’t think of you all day. I have other things. So do you. At your controls and scanning instruments, and I’m scanning diapers and staying in control. I’m reading a lot — you’re a character I read in a book. But not very well described.
BAILEY: Surprise surprise.
KAY: Four months ago, last time, I had a moment when I thought, Oh good, he’s going, I won’t have to pretend I know him. That’s awful, isn’t it? Annie said something today that sounded like Hi. She said it to me, not to you.
BAILEY: You wanted this. Kay?
VOICES: Jack the FAC, Raven flight, feet dry now, you copy?
Rog, Raven, Jack up and busy as hell. Get low and call a tally on my green smoke, then I’m the hell outta here, copy?
Rog, Jack, Lead’s in, holy shit, where’d all these guys come from? Lead’s off hot, heads up, looks like a mobile launcher in there.
EDDIE: Go in over the beachhead, over the target, roll in on the target, point your nose at the ground, right straight at the target, setting computers, scanning the panel while flying straight at the earth at five hundred miles an hour.
VOICES: Rog, Two’s in. Raven flight, Skyshield up, be advised we have fire control warning your vicinity. Two’s off hot. Gogogo.
EDDIE: I’m strapped in, stuff going by, two feet from the canopy, fireflies, hit you they kill you. Down the path, go down balls to the wall, and I tell you, Kay, honest to God—
KAY: Be honest—
EDDIE: Honest to God, I’m so fucking scared, I start to scrunch down in a foetal position, wad up in a ball, I—
KAY: Tell me—
EDDIE: I push the button, pickle and pull, wait for the computer to let the bombs go, two seconds it seems like weeks, it seems like—
KAY: Weeks—
VOICES: Three’s in, Two, SAM launch, break right, break right, Sparrow away, gogogogo. Got’em, oh shit, Two’s hit, Three off hot. Dump it all and boogie, anybody see a chute? See a chute?
BAILEY: No chute.
EDDIE: And suddenly it’s light. The plane is light. Try get away, you’re turning, climbing, accelerating, moving through three dimensions, the radar tracks over two dimensions, you’re moving three. And I am clear. I am clear—
VOICES: (continuing) Balls to the wall, baby, balls to the wall. It’s better than fucking.
Fuckin, fuckin, fuckin. . . Clear. . .
EDDIE: Clear! And then the rush. Invincibility. I won—
BAILEY: I won. Those three, four assholes who shot at me are dead, dead, serves’em right, whatta they think this is, a war?
KAY: Honey— Eddie? Can I tell you this?
EDDIE: Can I tell you this?—
KAY: Eddie. Sometimes I try to imagine and I’m so scared—
EDDIE: Sometimes I’m so scared—
KAY: And I love you and I’m proud of you but I just want to scream right in your face “How can you do this to me? How can you make me so—”
EDDIE: Goddamn scared. Can I tell you that? Then the feeling that comes—
BAILEY: Just sheer physical sensation, adrenalin, whatever, the most . . . intense . . .
VOICES: Fuckin, fuckin, fuckin. . . Clear. . .
Skipper, that’s better than fuckin.
KAY: Can I be honest?
EDDIE: Be honest.
Long pause. Kay wads the letter. starts over.
KAY: (in sing-song) Hi honey, gee I miss you,
Hi honey, I’m so proud,
Honey, I love you all the time you’re flying airplanes.
    Annie says Hi.
Eddie wads letter, starts to write again.
EDDIE: Hi honey. . .
BAILEY: What she was trying to tell herself. She married a guy she didn’t know from Adam.
Bailey rips paper from pad, wads, tosses it. Band appears.
DERRYDALE: Hi honey, gee I miss you
Hi honey, I’m so proud
Hi honey, gee I love you
Flying flying hiiiiiigh—
    Dearest Eddie, Dear Eddie, Dearest Ed. . .
I owe my life to DIANE, baby,
Baby, I love my DIANE
My digital integrated attack navigation equipment
    Sweet DIANE
    Dear DIANE, Sweet DIANE, Dearest DI. . .
        Honest
        Be honest
        Can I be honest
        Honest with you
        Yehhhhh—
Comin down balls to the wall, baby
Comin down balls to the wall
Baby, it’s better than fucking fucking fucking
Yehhhhh—
    Dearest Kay, Dear Sweet Kay, Sweetest Kay. . .
Music continues. Bailey goes to the door, calls to Jeri Ellen, referring to radio:
BAILEY: Anything new?
JERI ELLEN: (off) Boom boom.
BAILEY: Thanks.
Bailey goes back to his desk. Puts bottle away. Works.
DERRYDALE: Hi honey, gee I miss you
Hi honey, I’m so proud
Hi honey, gee I love you
Flying flying hiiiiiigh—
        Better’n fucking
        Dearest Eddie
Annie says Hi. . .
Fade.
V.
Music. Bailey smokes a cigarette. Jeri Ellen comes to doorway.
JERI ELLEN: To update: Word is that you’ve destroyed most of their operational air force. That you’ve completed missions with an 85% success rate, with no losses. These reports are unconfirmed.
BAILEY: No losses?
JERI ELLEN: No losses confirmed.
BAILEY: Fantastic.
Pause.
“You.” Whatta you mean “You”? “You’ve destroyed”? “You’ve completed”? “You.”
JERI ELLEN: Oh, wasn’t that your team? Or was it the Phillies? New York Jets?
BAILEY: Where were you in 1970?
JERI ELLEN: ‘70. Max was teaching, dodging the draft. I worked in a bank.
BAILEY: So did Kay. My ex-wife worked in a bank. Right at that time.
JERI ELLEN: And doing protest marches, and signing petitions, and thanking God we didn’t have kids. Till ‘72.
Silence. He indicates file.
BAILEY: Let’s change this. Let’s just cite Hildebrandt. The Evans thing opens a can of worms.
JERI ELLEN: No, you’ve gotta have that. It’s one of the same judges—
BAILEY: It deals with evidence—
JERI ELLEN: Not the decision—
BAILEY: Admissibility of evidence. This has nothing to do—
JERI ELLEN: Read it again—
BAILEY: Look, I’m the fucking lawyer!
Silence.
God, I’m sorry, Jeri, I— You know me. I’m sorry.
She goes out. He stares at a piece of paper, fumbles it.
Kay works in a cubicle in a bank: a slow day. In another area, the officers’ mess: Eddie and O’Grady play acey-deucy, a game like backgammon. Bosun: “All hands be aware tonight’s movie on the mess decks will be Pennies from Heaven starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. All hands be aware at 2100 on the mess decks the movie tonight will be Pennies from Heaven starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly.”
O’GRADY: When I get out. . . I been thinking a lot. I’d like to be a lawyer. I wouldn’t have too much problem on the GI Bill, if Cindy’s working and we hold off on kids a while.
EDDIE: Lawyer. What are you talking about?
O’GRADY: Lawyers make good money. O’Grady for the Defense.
EDDIE: What you’re gonna “do”?
O’GRADY: When I get out. I’ve got eighteen months. I can’t drop bombs on Cincinnati. Nothing’s alive enough there to kill.
EDDIE: Hey, you gotta move those boxes.
O’GRADY: I gotta stop buying stuff. I could open a fucking appliance store. Listen, you will discover, by the time we’re going back, every square foot that doesn’t have an aircraft in it will have crates full of junk. Radios, stereos. I mean you think this is a war or something? This is an import/export business. Go into R & R, half the ship heads for the hookers, the other half heads for the discount stores.
EDDIE: Depends on what you want to bring back.
They play.
No, I got Kay this beautiful blue, kind of embroidered. . . I dunno, kimono, poncho, nightgown. Sort of covers everything but you still know what’s there. I don’t know if she’ll wear it. And yeh, I got a great deal on this Nikon, lenses, accessories—
O’GRADY: You’re taking a lot of pictures.
EDDIE: Just screwing around.
O’GRADY: It’s unusual stuff. I mean not the guys standing in front of planes and stuff, but the funny stuff—
EDDIE: I just got an idea to take pictures of, hell, all the fire extinguishers on the ship, why not?
O’GRADY: I liked the catapults.
EDDIE: I never really looked at the catapult. You know, close up. This thing flinging you out into space. “Make me fly!”
O’GRADY: They’re neat.
EDDIE: Just screwing around.
O’GRADY: Send’em to your wife?
EDDIE: She’d think I was nuts. (tossing) Whatta you talking about “lawyer”?
O’GRADY: I gotta do something. Hey, it’s a game. The law is like warfare. I play one side, you play the other. You’re a highly trained professional, and you try to get the other guy before he gets you. It’s a game.
EDDIE: It’s not a game.
BAILEY: (to Jeri Ellen) It’s a game.
JERI ELLEN: (to Bailey) It’s not a game.
O’GRADY: Then you don’t know the difference. (tossing) Doubles. So what are you gonna do?
EDDIE: I’m gonna fly. I’m in the Navy to fly.
O’GRADY: When you get out.
EDDIE: Who says I’m getting out? I’m here to fight a war.
O’GRADY: Nothing wrong with that. That’s fun too. (tossing) Ace-deuce. No, you’re not a career guy.
EDDIE: You’re crazy. I was first in my class at AOCS. How many jobs do they pay you for doing what you love?
O’GRADY: Doubles!
He chuckles. Eddie, irritated at losing, gets up, paces.
EDDIE: You’re fucking crazy. This is my life. I’m trained to do it, and I like it, and doing something meaningful—
O’GRADY: I bet you built model airplanes. Right?
EDDIE: Every kid does.
O’GRADY: I acted out The Bridges at Toko-ri about three hundred times. Plus every war comic they ever did. I had these plastic soldiers, line’em up, throw clods, firecrackers—
EDDIE: (laughing) Yeh—
O’GRADY: Once my sister, I didn’t see her, and I was giving these news reports, where Captain Kenneth O’Grady, who was shot down in flames, is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. I’m almost to the point of tears, delivering my eulogy. And behind me comes, “Oh gimme a break.” She had a lot of fun with that. Over the years.
EDDIE: (laughing) You jerk. Lawyer. What’s the challenge? Get up and run your mouth. It’s not real.
O’GRADY: Question for you. What are you bombing down there?
EDDIE: What?
O’GRADY: What you’re dropping stuff on.
EDDIE: Whatta you talking about?
O’GRADY: You go up in an aircraft, and you drop stuff down. What’re you dropping’em on?
EDDIE: Targets.
Pause.
Targets, for Chrissake.
O’GRADY: Right.
EDDIE: You’re joking, right?
In the bank, Kay finishes counting bills, takes a packet of snapshots, looks at them.
EDDIE: Whatta we got left on the cruise? Three months?
O’GRADY: If we’re lucky. They might extend it. Last time was eleven. Couldn’t ship back till they cured the admiral’s clap. It was serious. He almost lost his fingernail.
EDDIE: You’re funny.
O’GRADY: Three, supposedly. What you will discover is as we get closer back, everybody’s getting more and more anxious, hornier, can’t wait to see their woman. And then there’s this sudden thought, “My God, after I say ‘Let’s fuck,’ then what do I say after that?” “Every day we’ll have to figure out something to say.”
EDDIE: I won’t have that problem. We talk a lot.
O’GRADY: Right. You know who you are. So you can talk about that.
Eddie stops play abruptly.
EDDIE: What are you doing? Firing these little tracers. “What are you bombing down there?” Come on— Ok, so be a lawyer. Just don’t pretend it applies to me. It’s a matter of knowing who you are. I have a very clear track ahead, and I think Kay — I think she expects that. I think that’s one of the elements of attraction, that I know what I’m doing, that I know what I’m doing and I don’t have any problems with that. Shit. “What are you bombing?” What’s the point? Which game are we playing here?
O’GRADY: Real War.
They stare at each other, challenging, uncertain. At last O’Grady picks up dice.
We’re playing ace-deuce. It’s your turn. I’m winning. Let’s play the game.
BAILEY: We should play acey-deucy. That was the universal game, it’s like backgammon. Get our aggressions out.
JERI ELLEN: I put up with a lot from you.
BAILEY: You’re right about Hildebrandt. Leave it in.
JERI ELLEN: You’re the boss.
She goes out. Kay gets back to work. O’Grady and Eddie continue playing.
A fragment of news broadcast is heard. Then music. Distant, the band.
DERRYDALE: Talk to me baby
Tell me what to say
Talk to me a little
Cause I been a long time away.
Talk to me honey
Tell me what you wanta hear
Talk to me just a little bit now
Tell me what to whisper in your ear.
    I can tell you stories
    Tell you who I wanta be
    I can tell amazing stories
    You might even think it was me.
Talk to me sweetheart
Tell me how to feel
Give me a hint if you can do it
Just how to make it real.
Talk to me baby
It’s no big deal
I’m just a little nervous now
I might have to make it real
If you talk to me.
Single spot remains on Bailey.
VI.
In office, Jeri Ellen enters with typed pages.
JERI ELLEN: Kind of funny— This newsman’s lying on the floor of his hotel, and the bombs are exploding. And it occurs to him that he didn’t have dinner tonight. So the other guy says, “There’s plenty of tuna fish, Brian.”
BAILEY: Lotta humor in massacres, if you look for it.
JERI ELLEN: This is good, you know that, Ed? I think he’s got a chance.
BAILEY: I guess.
JERI ELLEN: So finish the last and we’re done. Definition of insanity.
BAILEY: Insanity.
JERI ELLEN: This is cut and dried.
BAILEY: I’m stuck.
JERI ELLEN: Ed—
BAILEY: I’m stuck. I look at the words, they grow pock-marks. Frankly, I hope they fry the guy. Cauterize the wound. Let’s go to a motel.
JERI ELLEN: Let’s just call for a pizza.
BAILEY: Sure, call for a pizza. Faced with insanity, call for a pizza.
JERI ELLEN: Ed—
BAILEY: I mean it. Order a pizza.
JERI ELLEN: Order your own!
Goes back into rear office.
BAILEY: Insanity. Simple. The first time I came home.
Kay and Eddie. in bathrobes, come into the kitchen. Kay hugs him.
Oh my God. . .
Overwhelmed by the memory, he turns around in his chair, doesn’t look.
KAY: Well now that we’ve taken care of that. . .
EDDIE: Coffee.
KAY: Coffee.
Goes to pour it.
I was worried you might forget how. Or did you have practice?
EDDIE: No, I just read the owner’s manual.
KAY: I don’t know if I like the concept of owner. How about “long-term lease”? Ninety-nine years?
EDDIE: That should do it.
She pours coffee.
KAY: Well.
EDDIE: Well.
KAY: Well.
Sits. They smile. Silence.
Where to start. . .
EDDIE: Right. . . Annie still asleep?
KAY: Out like a light.
He sips coffee.
EDDIE: Coffee’s definitely improved. We could do a commercial.
KAY: It’s the same coffee. I’m dripping instead of perking.
EDDIE: Major changes here. This is a side of you I never knew.  
KAY: You’ve seen both sides. Don’t they look familiar?
EDDIE: Maybe after a few more times.
They laugh, then wonder what to say.
KAY: Well. Only eight months for you at home. What next?
EDDIE: Friend of mine said, “You get closer to home, you think, ‘What are we going to talk about?’” No, he said, “First you say, ‘Let’s go to bed,’ and then wonder what to talk about.” The way he said it, it was funny.
KAY: I really— You know it’s hard, because you never wrote much about things that happened. I mean sure, ok, the Typical Mission, ok, but—
EDDIE: Not much to it. Pretty boring, mostly.
KAY: Basically just going to the office.
EDDIE: Basically.
KAY: So I’m sitting here ten months worried sick about you getting killed, and you’re basically just going to the office.
EDDIE: Well, they shoot things at your office.
KAY: “I want a stooo-ry.”
EDDIE: Kay, seriously— Let’s talk about us. How do you like the bank?
KAY: Oh you know bank clerks: we’re a hearty crew. Funny it’s easier to go to bed with somebody than to string two sentences together.
EDDIE: Well then ask me something.
KAY: Ok. What’s the worst experience you had in the last ten months?
EDDIE: Let’s don’t get heavy—
KAY: Come on. I’ll tell you my worst at the bank. And then we know there’s nothing lurking there, and then we can chatter about the coffee.
EDDIE: I’m not trying to disappoint you but—
KAY: My worst was this very nutty guy, about thirty-five, I guess he’s famous around town, came up to the window, and asked to withdraw his inheritance. He wanted his inheritance. He demanded his inheritance. And I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, because he really sounded very rational. And he went on for a very long time, and I called my supervisor, and they called the police, the police came and he said to them, “What took you so long?” That was mine.
Silence. In office, Jeri Ellen appears.
JERI ELLEN: Ok, so you want me to call for a pizza?
BAILEY: Yes.
JERI ELLEN: Are we going to be that long?
BAILEY: Yes.
JERI ELLEN: Shit.
Goes out.
KAY: Hello?
EDDIE: Ok.
BAILEY: Insanity.
Bailey gets up, moves away to the file cabinet, playing with the drawer, anticipating the memory.
EDDIE: Ok. I had a very good friend. Michael Rogers. Fighter pilot originally, you know most of these guys are very gung ho, aggressive, cocky kinda guys, and I don’t know, for some reason, I never really asked him, he was flying attack aircraft, he was in my squadron, I mean, he was a great guy, we spent a lotta time together, but—
Pause.
He never got hurt. Once he flew right through the frag pattern of his own bombs. Strafed a flak site, got his canopy blown off, blew out all his instruments. I mean nothing could kill him. Then. . .
Music. Bailey speaks, anticipating Eddie.
BAILEY: It’s night, hitting a truck convoy, totally dark. . .
EDDIE: It’s night, we’re hitting a truck convoy, and it’s totally dark, we’re dropping flares, Rogers is my wingman, and he targets in, fires rockets and gets a totally lucky hit, this whole string of secondaries, and he’s whooping and carrying on. . .
BAILEY: Sudden wall of flak. . .
EDDIE: And there’s this sudden wall of flak, it’s the Fourth of July. And we’re banking this way, we’re pulling up, and suddenly I hear “Oh shit, it’s the moon!” And he’s heading straight down. He thought he’d seen a flare, and he was banking up away from the flare, but he’d become completely disoriented, and he was actually diving straight down from the moon. . .
BAILEY: Instruments. . .
EDDIE: Then he looked at his instruments, and he said “Oh shit, it’s the moon.”
BAILEY: Dive. . .
EDDIE: So now he’s in a dive, and all I can hear is breathing. “Mike? Mike?”
BAILEY: “Mike?”
EDDIE: And then he’s hit, it’s an absolute fireball, and that was it. That was Mike Rogers. That was my worst.
Music fades. Kay embraces him.
BAILEY: You total asshole. You remembered that crap from a comic book. She believed it. You believed it. When I told Rogers I said that, he laughed his ass off.
Bailey slams the drawer shut. Music. He starts to move about the office, looking for something to distract himself: legal pad, camera, bottle, paper airplane, coffee cup, a recapitulation of every dodge he’s tried.
DERRYDALE & CHORUS: And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars
Nation shall rise against nation
Kingdom against kingdom
All these are beginning of sorrows.
At last, Bailey sits in a corner chair, back against file cabinet, motionless.
And there shall be signs in the sun, and the moon, and the stars
And on earth a distress of nations, and the roar of the sea
Men’s hearts failing for fear—
Jeri appears at the door.
JERI ELLEN: The anchorman says, “Every bomb seems to be hitting something.”
BAILEY: Jeri— The problem I’m having here— This whole thing, it’s so nauseating— Naked power, get your jollies, save the world, blow up the little yellow people or brown people and prove we’re Number One, Jesus Christ when are we going to stop!
That was me! I was that murderous asshole! And what really gets to me, what really gets me with this whole bloody genocidal circus is—
I want to be there. I miss it.
Kay and Eddie are in an embrace.
DERRYDALE & CHORUS: For the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
Shaken. Shaken. Shaken.
Blackout.
Act Two
I.
Music. The sea.
Lights up. Eddie and a Whore stand in silhouette. Distant thud of rock’n’roll.
In office, spotlight on Bailey at his desk, looking at the photo of himself. Picks up a piece of pizza, takes a bite.
BAILEY: I was faithful till my second tour. Then I kind of surprised myself.
Eddie tips her. He stands a moment, watching her.
Not surprised, no. I thought, well it’s time to do what us warriors are sposed to do.
EDDIE: Thanks.
WHORE: Goodnight.
EDDIE: I’m sorry, I forgot your name.
WHORE: Tiffany.
EDDIE: Tiffany.
He goes out. She puts the money away. Lights up in bar. Men in booths with bar-girls. O’Grady sits by himself, drunk.
ROGERS: (loud, drunk) Hey, Tiffany. Where’s Tiffany? Where they get names like that?
LANDIS: One called Shauna.
WINKELMAN: Tammy. Sheree— That’s French. (to girl beside him) You know what? You girls are the most beautiful girls in the world. You don’t have to be a Playboy model, or Shauna, or Sheree. You’re just incredibly beautiful. You just be you.
ROSIE: What?
WINKELMAN: What’s your name, hon?
ROSIE: Rosie.
ROGERS: Are you Rosie all over, or just where it counts?
WINKELMAN: (to her) He’s ok, I’ll take care of him.
ROGERS: She don’t know. She never looked.
WINKELMAN: Mike—
ROGERS: Let’s play Name that Hooker— I’m fucked up.
WINKELMAN: (arm around him) You are fucked up. Come on, baby, show some class here. You’re my ring-knocking buddy, right? Academy, right? You’re not the boonie rat.
ROGERS: Nosuh! I not that nasty boonie rat. . .
Eddie enters, casual greetings.
LANDIS: Eddie!
A distant figure, in the position of Derrydale, stands in silhouette. Mournful chant.
EDDIE: What’s that?
LANDIS: What?
EDDIE: Somebody singing.
BAILEY: Del?
LANDIS: Religious fanatics.
ROGERS: Some priest or somethin jackin off.
Eddie sits at the table with the others.
WINKELMAN: Eddie, you missed the boonie rat.
EDDIE: What boonie rat?
WINKELMAN: What was his name?— He staggered outa here bout half an hour ago.
LANDIS: He didn’t have a name. He was subhuman.
EDDIE: Who?
WINKELMAN: Marine chopper pilot. He walks in here, twenty-two hundred, wearing his flight suit—
LANDIS: Absolutely filthy—
ROGERS: Where’s Tiffany? None a these got any tits.
EDDIE: Tiffany works at the Marmont.
WINKELMAN: Mike, knock it off. No, this guy, right out of the field, he’s a walking nightmare—
LANDIS: Totally psycho—
ROGERS: (to Rosie) You don’t have any tits. Your tits aren’t as big as United States tits. We got specifications, Navy specification tits—
WINKELMAN: Mike, shut the fuck up—
LANDIS: So he’s in here, I thought they’d throw him out, he’s groping the girls—
WINKELMAN: It was creepy, he looks at her like, “Lessee, am I sposed to fuck her or kill her?”
LANDIS: And the stories, Christ—
ROGERS: Tiffany! Where do gooks get names like Tiffany?
WINKELMAN: Mike, you’re drunk, now listen. I like this place, this is home, I don’t want to get us tossed out, so shut the fuck up, or I’ll take you back to the ship.
O’GRADY: (from far table) Eddie!
EDDIE: Ken, hi—
LANDIS: So he sits there, right where you sit there—
WINKELMAN: Catching his crabs—
LANDIS: And these stories, incredible, he’s talking about machine-gunning peasants—
ROGERS: “Hair, teeth and eyeballs. . .”
WINKELMAN: “Nothing but hair, teeth and eyeballs.”
SHAUNA: Eddie, you like company?
EDDIE: Thanks, no, I gotta go pretty quick. Nother time.
SHAUNA: Good.
She goes around to others.
WINKELMAN: Water buffalo—
LANDIS: Water buffalo, he likes to strafe water buffalo cause it’s such a colorful effect.
O’GRADY: Eddie!
ROGERS: Faggots ahoy—
WINKELMAN: Mike, let’s go back to the ship—
ROGERS: I’m ok— I need serious company. Shauna!
Pulls her down beside him.
LANDIS: It’s amazing. He says it’s a regular practice to take suspects, take’em up in the chopper, and then toss one out. Just toss’im out. So the others’ll talk. It’s very effective.
EDDIE: He’s bullshitting.
LANDIS: Didn’t sound like bullshit.
EDDIE: He read that in Time Magazine. They say that stuff, and the journalists believe’em and write it up, and then all the protests. That’s bullshit.
LANDIS: You realize this guy’s on our side? He’s going back to the States?
WINKELMAN: Lock up your water buffalo.
EDDIE: Takes all kinds.
ROGERS: I’m the boonie rat.
WINKELMAN: You’re ok, Mike. You’re my ring-knocking buddy. You’re a gentleman.
ROGERS: Fucked-up gentleman. . .
O’Grady, drunk, has walked to Eddie’s table.
EDDIE: How’s it hangin, Ken?
O’Grady, without a word, goes back to his table, sits. Eddie is puzzled.
WINKELMAN: (to Eddie) Leave him alone, Eddie.
ROGERS: Let him go fuck himself.
LANDIS: Let’s go to the Catalina.
Eddie, puzzled, gets up, goes to O’Grady’s table. Rogers nuzzles Shauna. Others drink. Distant chant.
EDDIE: We buddies?
O’GRADY: Buddies. Why sure, Buddy. Everybody’s my buddy.
EDDIE: What’s the flak?
O’GRADY: No flak. It’s a big day for me. I blew it out the ass.
EDDIE: Blew what?
O’GRADY: Out the ass, baby. Buddy. Eddie. I flicked in my wings.
EDDIE: Your wings?
O’GRADY: Hear that echo?
EDDIE: You flicked your wings?
O’GRADY: Yeh.
EDDIE: Why?
O’GRADY: I can do that, right? Right?
EDDIE: Yeh.
O’GRADY: So.
EDDIE: What?
O’GRADY: I did. Every combat mission is technically a volunteer mission, right? And if I have the technical option to say fuck it, why shouldn’t I see what it feels to say “Fuck it!” So fuck it. Know what I mean? Fuck it. I mean fuck it. In my opinion.
ROGERS: (calling over) Eddie!
EDDIE: You love flying.
O’GRADY: Better than fucking.
EDDIE: What’s gonna happen?
O’GRADY: I’ll be reassigned. What they did to Bradley, Grushinsky— Naval officers, qualified to command a ship, right? So Bradley, they give’em ships to command. Patrol boat on the Delta. Life expectancy ten days. Mhm!
EDDIE: Grushinsky’s dead.
O’GRADY: Bradley, Carpenter, yeh man, they bought it.
ROGERS: Eddie! We need another dick over here!
EDDIE: It’s flown its mission already.
ROGERS: Alpha Strike!
WINKELMAN: Mike. . .
O’GRADY: I tell you what, Eddie. I love it. . .
BAILEY: “I love it, I absolutely love it. I never wanted to do anything else. There’s no feeling that anybody’s ever felt that can match it, flying an airplane in combat.”
Rogers gets up with Shauna, loses balance.
ROGERS: Let’s do it! Oh shit. . .
WINKELMAN: I’ll take care of him, he’s ok, he’s not himself. Come on, Mike, save it—
ROGERS: That bitch—
WINKELMAN: Don’t give her a problem, baby, you’re not yourself. Nother day— Back to the ship.
Rogers sits heavily.
I need a tugboat here.
EDDIE: Ken. Why? Why are you doing this?
O’GRADY: The whole thing is shit. Eddie, it’s wrong. All that protest bullshit, it’s true. We’re killers, man. We’re high-flying killers. We’re doing it.
EDDIE: You’re talking about your country.
O’GRADY: Not the country. I’m talking about the assholes that run the country.
EDDIE: Consider the facts—
O’GRADY: I don’t need facts. I got more facts than I’ll ever need. Thirty-two months fulla facts.
Long silence.
Tell you what. I’ll get outa here so you don’t have to.
EDDIE: (very angry) Who the. . . hell. . . do you think you’re talking to?
O’GRADY: You tell me.
He stands, goes out. Abruptly, Bailey throws his legal pad into the wastebasket. Jeri Ellen appears in the doorway.
JERI ELLEN: Ed—
As he speaks, takes folders from briefcase, throws them in. Pens, calculator, then law book from desk.
BAILEY: I don’t want to do this. This guy is garbage. Yes indeed, Society is responsible for creating him, but having done so, there is no way this person should be allowed to walk the streets or even to make life miserable for other convicted felons. I don’t want to save this guy.
JERI ELLEN: Professional responsibility?—
BAILEY: Professional responsibility. I flew for four years. Two cruises. I dropped hundreds of tons of high explosive. It hit something. Just doing my job. And loving every minute.
And there’s the guys over there doing their job, and it’s an important job, and we’re saving the world again, and I’m dying to be there and do the same fucking thing all over again. “Well it’s a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it.” Me!
It’s a game. It’s the same damn game. Preserve the American Way. Fuck it. I’m out.
He goes out. Jeri Ellen remains, munching pizza. Winkelman and Landis get Rogers to his feet, helps him out, staggering.
ROGERS: You know it, Wink? Didn’t tell you. . . I’m the boonie rat. . . He’s so fuckin scary, cause I’m him. . . I’m the boonie rat. . . Byeeeee. . .
Bar girls sit at the empty table. Kim comes over to Eddie.
KIM: Buy me a drink?
EDDIE: What’s your name?
KIM: Kimiko.
EDDIE: Yeh, Kim, I’ll buy you a drink.
She sits.
Just a drink, ok? Cause I’m a married man.
KIM: Nice.
EDDIE: Even though us heroes do what we gotta do. You got kids?
KIM: I got two.
EDDIE: Oh yeh? Boys or girls?
KIM: Girl ten, boy two.
EDDIE: That’s great. Kim. You tell me something. Tell me the truth, ok? Whatta you people think about the war? I mean, how do you feel? You think we oughta be doing it?
KIM: Huh?
EDDIE: Whatta you think about the Americans? Are you for the Americans?
KIM: Oh yeh. We for the Americans. We all for Americans. I am for Americans.
She laughs at her own pun. Eddie realizes she’s joking, laughs. She takes his hand, and he responds to her friendliness.
EDDIE: Well hi.
In the office, Jeri Ellen gets up, goes to the door, calls.
JERI ELLEN: There’s one piece left. Pepperoni.
Derrydale appears: music.
DERRYDALE: A warrior does what a warrior does
These are the things he does
    Study the overlays
    Stripes on the overlays
    Call signs and frequencies
    Like the movies
        Dive through the flak
        Come out in tatters
        Die in the skies
        Watch the movies
            Mask on our faces
            See through the eyes
            See what it sees
            See the movies
    Dance with the bitches
    Fondle the bitches
    Fuck all the bitches
    Dirty movies
        Kneel in the chapel
        Size of a toilet
        Make your confession
        To the movies
            Beer and cheap vodka
            Gallons of coffee
            Drunk scenes and fracases
            Like the movies
A warrior does what a warrior does
These are the things that he does
    Remember Karen
    Letter to Sandra
    Dream of Maryanne
    Late night movies
        Color the landscape
        Color the skies
        Color the oceans
        Like the movies
            It’s a dirty war
            It’s a pilgrimage
            So real it could almost be
What a warrior does.
Fade.
II.
Lights in office. Bailey appears at the door.
BAILEY: Dramatic moment.
Goes to the wastebasket, takes things out.
I must be one of them protesters. “All we are saying, is Give Peace a Chance. . .”
She gives him a quiet finger.
Hell, I couldn’t understand what they were up to. But I thought, “Well here I am over here to defend’em whether they like it or not.” Bailey for the Defense. One of my buddies wanted to be a lawyer—
JERI ELLEN: Are you getting anywhere? An hour ago you were almost done.
BAILEY: I don’t know what the teacher wants.
JERI ELLEN: Funny. Ed, you’re not defending this guy. You’re defending the law. The Constitution. Our right to order anchovies. A system that’s bizarre, ok, and sometimes cruel and unusual. But it’s not dropping bombs on people. It’s not—
BAILEY: Right. Right. All absolutes are relative. Absolutely. Yes. Thank you.
JERI ELLEN: (very irritated) Well Ed, I don’t like to just eat and run, but if you could see your way clear to finish this thing, then I could maybe go home and fulfill my marital vows?
BAILEY: You could break’em instead.
JERI ELLEN: I’ll wait till I’m fifty. Then life will be less complicated, and I can find time for a hobby. Finish it, Ed. Please?
BAILEY: You wanta see what’s on the radio?
She goes out.
When I didn’t want to think, I played a lot of acey-deucy.
Lights up in rec room. Eddie and Winkelman play acey-deucy. Bosun: “Executive officer please call 3145. Executive officer please call 3145. . . . Congratulations go out to FX -135 for completing 18,000 hours in the air without incident. Now hear this now hear this, congratulations go out to FX -135 the squadron that’s completed 18,000 hours in the air without incident.”
EDDIE: This is a stupid game.
WINKELMAN: It goes fast.
EDDIE: It goes fast.
WINKELMAN: My estimate on this tour is personally about four thousand games.
EDDIE: Last day, buddy.
WINKELMAN: Last day here.
EDDIE: Why the transfer? They don’t lose that many tankers.
WINKELMAN: Three pilots quit on the Kitty Hawk. In one day. One attack, one recce, one tanker. I get the tanker.
EDDIE: What is it with these guys?
WINKELMAN: They’re chickenshit.
EDDIE: Ken wasn’t chickenshit. He was nuts, ok, but he wasn’t chickenshit. He started to believe all that shit about atrocities and the government’s lying to us and we’re doing horrible things to nice little people— I think he really believed that.
WINKELMAN: They’re chickenshit.
EDDIE: Even a tanker pilot?—
WINKELMAN: Tanker, whatever—
EDDIE: I mean it takes real balls to fly those A-3’s.
WINKELMAN: Watch your mouth.
EDDIE: I’m jokin, ok?
WINKELMAN: Ha Ha.
They play. Jeri Ellen appears.
JERI ELLEN: I don’t think I’m doing a whole lot of good here. Look, I’ll be in at seven-thirty. Whatever there is to type up I’ll type up. There’ll be time.
BAILEY: Sure. Take off. I can finish.
JERI ELLEN: I’ve had the experience of getting my son to finish his term paper. I don’t enjoy it. I really have to get home.
BAILEY: Yeh.
She goes back to get her things together. Distant, a Controller talks on intercom. Eddie and Winkelman continue playing.
EDDIE: Wink. You didn’t mean that, did you?
WINKELMAN: Mean what?
EDDIE: You can’t roll an A-3.
WINKELMAN: Five’ll get you ten.
EDDIE: It won’t get me ten. You won’t be here to pay me the ten.
WINKELMAN: You hold the stakes.
EDDIE: Hell with that. I’m supposed to be down here hoping you lose? You can’t roll a Whale.
WINKELMAN: You can roll it if you’re good. I’m good. Hey, you wanta see it, don’t you?
EDDIE: I’m dying to see an elephant do a backflip, but I’m never gonna. I might see him try. You can’t roll it, Wink.
WINKELMAN: I been flying that thing a fucking ten months— And cargo and every damn kind of big watermelon with wings.
EDDIE: Sure, and you really belong in a fighter instead of a tanker. That’s the key to winning this war, if the President only knew. Your turn.
WINKELMAN: See those guys in the Phantoms, those fighter pukes, do those tuckaway breaks and get away with it, hell— They let those guys get away with stuff, wouldn’t it be great if I rolled the Whale? Just a farewell fuck-you. I’d be a fleet legend.
EDDIE: That’d be something.
BAILEY: What a fucking asshole. What a fool.
WINKELMAN: You picture it. Finish refueling. “Hey, see you guys, I’m headed out tomorrow.”
Skyshield, the E-2 airborne command, is heard on radio. Throughout the following scene, both Skyshield and the shipboard controller (visible) are heard speaking to Winkelman (Whale) piloting the A-3.
VOICE OF SKYSHIELD: Roger, flight full, thanks, Whale.
WINKELMAN: And then I gentle her over. . .
In the control room, sound cuts on. Winkelman is heard on Controller’s radio. In a limbo area, Rogers is seen, as if in the ready room, adjusting his flight suit.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Roger Raven. Gonna wave bye bye now. Here goes history. We are history.
VOICE OF SKYSHIELD: Tiger flight leader, see you John.
The intercuts that follow occur rapidly. Focus passes between the control room, the game, Rogers, and Bailey’s office — action in multiple time zones.
BAILEY: I didn’t think he’d do it. Mike said he wouldn’t do it, Landis, nobody thought he’d do it.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Oh shit.
BAILEY: He’s a professional.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Skyshield, this is Whale 05, I’ve got a problem here.
VOICE OF SKYSHIELD: Roger, Whale, say your problem.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Oh shit. . .
EDDIE: Wink?
WINKELMAN: What?
Voice continues, cool and flat throughout.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Skyshield, I’m in a nose-down attitude, I’ve got no control surface.
VOICE OF SKYSHIELD: Say again.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: I’m in a nose-down attitude. I’m in a vertical dive, passing through 22,000.
VOICE OF SKYSHIELD: Understand, Whale. May-day?
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Roger, May-day.
CONTROLLER: Whale 05, this is Mother. State your problem.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Skyshield, I’m passing 20,000 at 450. Going to full military power to bring the nose up.
VOICE OF SKYSHIELD: Roger, Whale.
CONTROLLER: Whale 05, this is Mother. State your problem. What the hell is going on? (into intercom) Commander Morris to the bridge. May-day. Repeat: Commander Morris to the bridge. May-day.
Rogers looks up, hearing intercom.
ROGERS: Oh Christ.
Eddie and Winkelman play, each talking to the other, neither listening, neither heard.
WINKELMAN: They designed that aircraft for a nuke. Carry one nuke, like a big turd, and look for a pot to dump it. So they refit it as a tanker, and they stick me in. Pumping gas at 30,000 feet. “Like me to check your oil, sir, do your windshield?” And every night I dream about Phantoms.
EDDIE: Right, I mean there’s nothing, nothing better than this. You can’t give up what you love. If I didn’t do this, I wouldn’t know who I was.
WINKELMAN: When I saw The Bridges at Toko-ri. . .
Radio cuts in. Landis joins Rogers, listening to intercom.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Skyshield, this is Whale 05. I have ordered the crew to abandon.
CONTROLLER: Whale 05, this is Mother, you copy? Say status, Whale.
ROGERS: Oh Christ, I didn’t believe him.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Roger, Mother. No movement on the nose. I think we’re going in.
CONTROLLER: State your position, Whale.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Two seven zero at three-five.
CONTROLLER: Is the crew clear?
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Negative. We’re vertical here, my crew is trying to reach the hatch to bail out, but they keep falling back.
CONTROLLER: Better eject, Whale.
ROGERS: Wink. . .
Rogers turns around, paces, helplessly. Other officers appear, listening.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: I copy, Mother. There are no ejection seats on this S.O.B., in case you didn’t know.
CONTROLLER: Pull up your nose, Whale.
VOICE OF SKYSHIELD: Wink, keep pulling it up.
ROGERS: Pull it up. . .
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Well guys, I am trying, Scout’s honor, but we don’t have hydraulics on this. We’re too fast to move it. We’re talking Korean War technology here.
CONTROLLER: Do your best with it.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: I have every reason to try.
ROGERS: (suddenly shouting) Oh Christ, Wink! Oh Christ!
LANDIS: (to Rogers) Cool it, Mike.
CONTROLLER: What’s your altitude, Whale?
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Passing 15,000. Hope I’m cleared for landing.
LANDIS: Shit, there is no way.
CONTROLLER: Can your guys get to the hatch?
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: I don’t think so. We might all have time to jerk off once more, if we hurry.
BAILEY: Nobody’s laughing, Wink.
WINKELMAN: I’ve got the stuff. Just because I don’t suck up to the brass, and somewhere along the line I crossed somebody and it’s on my record, it’s always gonna be there. Dammit, if I can’t fly a fighter, then what’s the purpose of the goddamn war?
BAILEY: Purpose. . .
WINKELMAN: This goddamn mother-asshole-fucking shit-sucking war. It could be so terrific.
EDDIE: Maybe I’m naive. Protesters, marches, those clowns— You can’t function if you don’t trust your leaders. We’re Americans—
WINKELMAN: Yeh, they say, we’re all a team, these chickenshit fleet newspapers, this hotshot goes out, shoots down three MiGs and “How’d you manage that, Chuck?”
EDDIE: Maybe I’m naive.
WINKELMAN: “Well, it was our whole team, mechanics, the cooks that gave me that quick energy, the pussy in the tanker, without those guys I couldn’ta throwed the touchdown pass.”
EDDIE: I just don’t think I can do my job if I start thinking that way. I’m a professional. I’ve got skills, in fact very incredible skills— You know what I’m saying? I—
BAILEY: Listen to him! You hear what he’s telling you? Listen to him!
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Ten thousand feet.
CONTROLLER: Whale 05, are you able to move anything at all?
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Negative.
CONTROLLER: Are your crewmen still trying to—
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: They’re not gonna— Skyshield, check my position. Break-break. Mother, we’ve got one of the crewmen at the hatch. The release doesn’t function, however. Oh Jesus. . .
ROGERS: Oh Jesus. . .
WINKELMAN: I can hear it: “What’d you do in the war, daddy?” “Well son, I flew one of the deadliest aircraft in the combat armada. They called it . . . The Whale!”
EDDIE: I mean, this is war.
WINKELMAN: It’s a war, and I pump the gas.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Mother, you still there?
CONTROLLER: Roger, Whale, I’m here. I’ll have angels out.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: I thought I lost you there. I’m at five thousand. You copy?
CONTROLLER: Roger, copy, Whale.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: Hey, come on now guys, you know I don’t think I really want to die. Right at this point in time. You copy?
CONTROLLER: Roger, Whale.
VOICE OF WINKELMAN: The name is Wink.
CONTROLLER: Wink.
ROGERS: Wink.
BAILEY: Wink.
Movement freezes, except for acey-deucy.
WINKELMAN: Hell, it’s not much to ask. Wouldn’t you like to be a star?
EDDIE: Yeh, I guess you do a roll in that whale, that’d make you a star.
WINKELMAN: The one and only!
Arms up in air, he cheers for himself. Background sound dies out. Silence.
VOICE OF SKYSHIELD: Mother, this is Skyshield. Whale 05 has impacted the water. No chutes.
CONTROLLER: Roger no chutes, Skyshield. Your signal is return to ship.
VOICE OF SKYSHIELD: Roger Mother, I prefer to stay on status till angels arrive.
CONTROLLER: Negative. Your signal is Charlie on arrival.
VOICE OF SKYSHIELD: Roger, Mother.
The live Winkelman giggles, returns to the game. The communication cuts off. Mike Rogers breaks down, shaking with the grotesque sobs of a man who never cries. Landis puts a hand on him. Rogers stops abruptly, controls himself. After a moment:
ROGERS: It’s his own damn fault. Took three guys with him. Asshole.
Goes out. Winkelman rolls dice.
WINKELMAN: My game.
Eddie looks at him. Fade. Lights remain on Bailey. Derrydale in distance: blues.
DERRYDALE: We in a nose-down attitude Mother
We in a vertical dive
We in a nose-down attitude Mother
We in a vertical dive
Gotta pull up outta that nose-down attitude
If we wanta come out alive
    Calling May-day May-Day.
We got no hydraulics to move us Mother
Got no ejection seat
No hydraulics to move us Mother
Got no ejection seat
Better cope with this obsolete technology
Or we’re gonna be dead meat
    Pull me up pull me outa my nose-down attitude
    May-day. . .
Music continues. Jeri Ellen appears in doorway, with her coat on.
JERI ELLEN: Will you be all right? I won’t ask that. Ed, Max’s mother used to tell the kids, ok, yes, it hurts. So bleed a little. That’s what people do. They bleed.
BAILEY: We should tell it to the Judge — Your Honor, in reference to my clients’ victims, we respectfully submit that it’s ok to bleed. We’re all expendable. Let it bleed. Ken O’Grady— Wink, that incredible dipshit— And all my toys, and my hero suit, and somebody that called me Dearest Eddie. Or, omigod, Del— I had one friend. Del. What I would really like to do— I’ve thought about it so many times—
JERI ELLEN: What?
No response.
Well, it’s all yours, Ed. I’ll be back at seven-thirty.
She goes out. As the music continues, Bailey grinds a pencil in the electric sharpener down to its eraser.
DERRYDALE: Try full throttle power bring my nose up Mother
Too damn strong on the Q-force
Grab at the latch, the latch don’t work
Going from bad to couldn’t-be-worse
    Falling back falling back
    Bring my nose up
    Calling May-day
    Mother calling May-day
    Thought I lost you Mother
    Mother send me angels
    Are you there
Hate that nose-down vertical attitude
It’s death every time.
Fade.
III.
Bailey, in his office, sets the telephone directly before him with a clang.
In a tiny room, Eddie is with Kim. She is dressing. Distant, Kay writes a letter.
VOICES: Raven flight, this is Mother.
Come to 040, maintain angels 3.5, go 305.0 for Skyshield control, over.
Roger, Mother. Raven flight to 040, angels 3.5, 305.0 for Skyshield, break-break.
Skyshield, this is Raven, how copy?
Roger, Raven, we gotcha. We gotcha. We gotcha.
VOICE OF CONTROLLER: Eject.
KAY: Well Eddie, yes, it’s a surprise. As you may expect.
EDDIE: Kim? You’re a great person. Really great.
KIM: You nice. Nice hair.
EDDIE: I’m going to be going back to the States. I got another seven months to go on my tour, and I’m not gonna convert— stay in. I’m not gonna stay in the Navy. So this is sort of . . . thanks.
KAY: (writing) And it’s your decision, but frankly it comes as a shock. What do you plan to do?
KIM: You not going to be the admiral?
EDDIE: Definitely I’m on the fast track. They offered me anything I want. And I love to fly, only— The war, shit, I think, wait, maybe this is all fake, it’s not really a war, it’s Adventureland— It’s— I take pictures of stuff, and it’s real because I got a picture of it, but if I lost the picture the ship might disappear. I only see the pictures.
KIM: Adventureland. . .
KAY: You have any ideas?
EDDIE: Maybe I’ll be a lawyer.
KIM: We past time.
EDDIE: I’ll pay for it.
BAILEY: You pay and it’s real.
EDDIE: Kim, hold on, give me five minutes, ok? Don’t worry, I don’t do long goodbyes, I just— It’s— We’ve been— Four or five times is a lotta times in a circumstance like— I was going to get you a present, but figured you’d probably have better use for money, and— I just appreciate your being . . . sort of . . . human. . .
Bailey speaks to the phone without picking it up. In distance, Derrydale is seen in silhouette — his voice heard as if on phone.
BAILEY: (to phone) Hi, Del?
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: Hi?
BAILEY: Is this Del Derrydale?
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: Yes.
BAILEY: Del, this is Edmond Bailey. From school. Eddie Bailey.
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: Who?
Derrydale fades. Kay breaks off writing, speaks as if Eddie’s across the table.
KAY: So have you given thought to the concrete details? So the GI Bill pays tuition, what about living? You know how much I make at the bank? You know what it’s like coming home, and I don’t see Annie all day and she says “Mommy can you stay home tomorrow?” And so now I’m gonna work and mother and cook for you and I find energy to be a sexy wife? Right! Sure! You betcha!
VOICES: Roger, Raven flight, we gotcha, say your goodies, over.
Skyshield, Raven flight’s hauling 16 Mark 82’s, two Sparrows, full shooters, what’ve you got for us today, over?
Raven flight, bad guys on the move, Jack the FAC is on’em. Your vector to target 285 at 25, come right to 270 and arm’em up. Good hunting.
VOICE OF CONTROLLER: Eject.
EDDIE: So how’s your girl doing?
KIM: Good. She’s doing good at school.
EDDIE: They grow up fast, I guess. I’m crazy to get back to Annie. What’s her name?
KIM: Bernadetta. Good Catholic.
EDDIE: Mine’s Annie.
KIM: You said.
Bailey speaks to the phone. The figure of Derrydale is seen.
BAILEY: Del? This is Ed Bailey. I don’t know if you remember me, but. . .
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: Eddie? My God! God, I was just thinking about you!
BAILEY: Del, I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to call, I’ve thought about you so many times—
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: I’ll be damned!
BAILEY: And I never did, because I made such a total asshole out of myself, and you tried to tell me I was crazy, and I thought I knew it all, nobody was gonna tell a future air ace—
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: When was that?
BAILEY: At the bar, what, Billy’s Tavern? And I’ve wanted so many times to say, “Del, I’m sorry—”
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: I don’t remember that.
BAILEY: You were crying.
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: That doesn’t seem characteristic.
BAILEY: You told me, “You won’t have the balls to stop being a hero.”
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: So did you?
Fade on Derrydale. Kay writes, breaks off.
KAY: So you have moral problems. Ok. I have problems leaving Annie at day care. Taking crap from my bitch supervisor. Having you tell me I’m second choice to the Navy, and if it’s me or the Navy you’ll take the Navy, and then it isn’t the Navy, so just what the hell is it? When do you flip-flop again?
VOICES: Two. Three. Skyshield, Ravens are 270 at angels 3.5 and hot to trot, break-break, Jack the FAC, Raven flight, feet dry now, you copy?
Rog, Raven, Jack up and busy as hell. Get low and call a tally on my green smoke, then I’m the hell outta here, copy?
Rog, Jack, Raven copies, over. Jack, Raven, tally-ho your smoke, Lead’s in, holy shit, Lead’s off hot, flight, heads up.
VOICE OF CONTROLLER: Eject.
Eddie gets up, goes to door.
EDDIE: I hope you do ok.
KIM: Not bad, only thing they start ask on tips, kick-back? Plus room, plus they cheat on drinks, we get half, but they say “No he don’t pay,” and you know he pay, but they say “He don’t pay,” so you don’t get half. Fuckers.
KAY: And you know how much we save at the Commissary, and insurance, pension—
KIM: I might change bars to the Broadway. My friend say they more honest.
EDDIE: No, but you do ok, don’t you?
KIM: If the war goes on. How much would I make in the United States?
EDDIE: I never did this in the States.
He gives her a tip. Bailey speaks to the phone. The figure of Derrydale is seen.
BAILEY: Del, I don’t know if you remember me, but it’s been a long time, this is Edmond Bailey—
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: Ah, excuse me, but—
BAILEY: Is this Del?
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: No, this is his brother. Del was killed in a traffic accident five years ago, sorry to say.
BAILEY: Oh.
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: It was kind of freakish, a truck jack-knifed, and he braked, but the nose dipped a little as he was doing the roll, and he went into a vertical attitude—
BAILEY: Wait a minute—
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: You can’t do a roll in a Whale.
BAILEY: That’s ridiculous.
VOICE OF DERRYDALE: Well I agree.
Derrydale fades.
KAY: (very angry) So you give me this line, I’m making the great sacrifice— Then we trade it in, and now what’s our mission in life, Eddie? You really expect it’s so easy to believe, totally believe in you and what you’re doing, and then suddenly, “Oh, never mind that, I changed my mind.” That’s asking a lot.
VOICES: Rog, Two’s in. Raven flight, Skyshield up. Two’s off hot. Three’s in, SAM launch, break right, break right. Got’em, Two’s hit, Three off hot.
Raven flight, this is Lead, dump it all and boogie, see a chute? See a chute?
VOICE OF CONTROLLER: Eject.
Eddie embraces Kim.
KIM: We past time now.
EDDIE: I really am scared. I don’t know how she’s gonna react. The Navy’s always been the big thing. I feel like if I go home and be a husband and father, then that’s being unfaithful to her. And if I stay over here and fuck around and do what us heroes are supposed to do, then that’s fulfilling my marital vows—
KIM: Eddie, they gonna give me a bunch of shit. You go now.
EDDIE: (giving another bill) Get something for Bernadetta.
KIM: Thank you, Eddie. Bye.
EDDIE: Bye.
He goes out. She puts money away, turns off light. In office, Jeri Ellen appears.
JERI ELLEN: I got halfway home and then I turned around and came back. It’s not professional to walk away. The secretary should be the last to leave the sinking ship.
Jeri Ellen takes off her coat, sorts through his papers, extracts some, puts them directly in front of him. As Kay speaks, Eddie appears in limbo, looking toward her.
KAY: So I guess the whole thing is that— What right do you have!— You start out being one person— A guy who knows who he is, and I know who he is— Who has no doubts— And you know what? I want to be a Navy wife. I’m a damn good Navy wife, but nobody told me you can’t be a Navy wife without a Navy husband, and what right— You’re not the man I married, and I liked him a whole lot better!
Breaks down sobbing. Then forces herself to recover. Picks up letter. Crumples it. Starts again.
Well honey, it’s a surprise. You know it’s your decision and I’ve always said it’s whatever you want—
Pause.
We’ll have plenty of time when you get home and we can really talk— It’d be good, before you have to make any final— We just have to plan. We have to make plans. Do some planning. For the future.
EDDIE: Hello.
VOICES: Better’n fuckin, fuckin, fuckin. . . Clear. . .
Fade on Kay and Eddie. Bailey starts working energetically on the papers before him. As he finishes each, Jeri Ellen takes it.
DERRYDALE: Thank you thank you Eddie
You such a super guy
Coming home to wife and baby
No more flying high
        Well thanks
        Thanks baby thanks
    Thanks for nothing
Your country wants to thank you Eddie
See it glisten in our eye
You can’t imagine how we missed you
Don’t even try
        Well thanks
        Thanks baby thanks
    Thanks for nothing
Offer you our most sincere
Thanks for nothing
Ringing loud in your ear
        Coming home
Your family wants to thank you Eddie
Wife and baby standing by
Happy smiles and happy kisses
Never gonna cry
But sorry Eddie we cannot tell a lie
        Gee thanks
        Thanks baby thanks
                Thanks for nothing
    Gotta give you our most sincere
    Thanks for nothing
    Ringing loud in your ear
And there shall be signs in the sun and the moon and the stars
        Dearest Eddie, Dear Eddie, Dearest Ed. . .
        Come on home.
Fade.
IV.
Bailey finishes last paper, hands it to Jeri Ellen. She goes into back room to type.
BAILEY: That’s it.
JERI ELLEN: Terrific. Couple minutes.
BAILEY: No rush. No sweat. No civilian areas. No losses. No losses confirmed.
Sound of an airplane fly-by. Bailey starts to clean up his debris. In the bedroom, Kay turns on the light. Eddie is sitting on the bed. Bailey stops, caught by this final memory.
EDDIE: I guess this time we do the talking first.
KAY: It takes me a while . . . to orient.
EDDIE: That’s ok.
KAY: Well and just . . . adapting.
EDDIE: I’ve gotta unpack. I got a new enlarger. I got some decorative stuff. I got you a couple dresses, if they fit, it’s really beautiful material. You oughta see the carrier when we’re coming back. It’s like a K-Mart.
BAILEY: Talk to her.
EDDIE: Should I make some coffee?
BAILEY: Forget the coffee.
KAY: Whatever.
EDDIE: How you doin?
KAY: How you doin?
EDDIE: Fine.
BAILEY: Lousy.
KAY: Great. Should I make supper?
EDDIE: Whatta you feel like?
KAY: Shit.
Silence.
If you sit on the bed, I’m going to have to make it again.
EDDIE: I’ll make it.
KAY: Whatever.
EDDIE: Kay—
KAY: Ok. I’m surprised, to say the least, although I guess I shouldn’t be, I could tell by the tone of your letters. It’s your decision, finally. You’re the one that has to fly the planes.
EDDIE: It’s your decision too.
BAILEY: No it’s not.
KAY: No it’s not. Don’t tell me that. You know very well that being a Navy wife suits me just fine. But a woman can’t go down to the recruiting office and enlist as a Navy Wife.
EDDIE: I realize that’s a factor.
KAY: And I don’t think it’s entirely material, though in fact it’s not a bad life. Base pay, flight pay, combat pay, health coverage, pension, housing allowance, Commissary, it’s not so bad. And the role, it’s a very definite role, and it’s silly maybe, but I play it and I enjoy how well I play it. I’m a very distinct asset to my man’s career. Is that a little girl’s fantasy? Well maybe it’s a good match for a little boy’s fantasy. We married into the same story, Eddie.
EDDIE: I don’t like stories.
BAILEY: You’re a sucker for stories.
KAY: Well so where does it end?
BAILEY: About five years.
Silence.
KAY: I know it’s bizarre to call it fun and games when you’re up there getting shot at—
EDDIE: It wasn’t fun and games—
BAILEY: Most fun I ever had—
KAY: But that’s me too. My God, Eddie, it’s strange to say, that it’s satisfying that I would let you die for me. All that waiting and anxiety, but no fuzzy edges. No doubts. And then your man comes to you with all kinds of uncertainty and it seems like he wants to cry, and you feel like you ought to be loving and tender and love him for his vulnerability— But I’m sorry. I don’t. I like you flying.
EDDIE: I’m not flying now.
KAY: Well then.
Silence.
EDDIE: It’s very simple. I love flying, I love flying combat. But after a long span of being very naive, I came to the conclusion that what I’m doing is not right. It’s wrong—
KAY: Wrong?—
EDDIE: It’s morally wrong—
KAY: Oh my God—
EDDIE: I mean that it’s—
KAY: Two cruises, drop ten tons of bombs—
EDDIE: Lot more than that—
KAY: Then all of a sudden, “Oops, sorry, little commies, I made a boo-boo. I just found out. This was morally wrong.” Come off it, Eddie!
Silence.
So what is it? United Airlines?
EDDIE: I don’t want to fly commercial, that’s not flying. I mentioned law school.
KAY: Law school.
EDDIE: We could make it, and then I get out we oughta have another kid. She needs a baby brother. I really want make a family here. I really really do. It’s a good life.
BAILEY: Great life. Truth! Justice! Oh shit, wake up! It’s another fairy tale.
KAY: Like a fairy tale.
EDDIE: Why not? Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you. . .
KAY: I don’t think we have any beer.
EDDIE: I don’t need a beer.
KAY: I’ll go down to the store.
EDDIE: Kay, it’s a matter of— I’m not saying it the way I— Flying in combat is— You have to believe it. You have to be part of that aircraft. That’s what’s so incredibly exciting, but you have to be totally committed, and the second you start to think, “What the hell am I doing here?” you’re dead. And I’ve got you to think about, and Annie—
KAY: Well you’re the one that has to fly the plane.
EDDIE: Don’t keep saying that!
KAY: Well if I can’t be a complacent little Navy wife, then maybe I can be a bitch, it might be fun— Eddie, for God’s sake just let me fix supper! We don’t need to talk about this! Just go ahead and do what you want to do! Fine! I’ll adapt—
EDDIE: I want you to understand—
KAY: I don’t want to understand—
EDDIE: It isn’t a game. It’s a war. It’s not a movie they’re making just for me to star in.
I was so naive. I couldn’t believe our leaders could be lying to us. Bullshit, we’re Americans.
And I was so damn proud of these incredible skills. But you know, between the first and second cruises, I started having this sense, hey, maybe something’s screwy—there’s only about twenty million people screaming it, but it took a while, hey, I was flying attack. Attack.
Kay, Christ, I’m trying to— I tried to write what I— It wasn’t the futility. “Now hear this, now hear this, BDA for strike force: four road cuts and a Tree Leaf Storage Area” — meaning any damn place in the jungle. Or even atrocities or “Look, why are we bombing these guys, are they really going to invade Indiana?” Somebody kills one of your buddies, sure, bomb the bejesus— But—
It was the accidents. Friend gets killed doing something totally stupid. It breaks the mood. I’m outa the mood for stories. Stupid dumb third-rate lousy stories. They’re all best-sellers. I bought’em all.
KAY: Not everybody feels the way you do.
EDDIE: No, that’s right—
KAY: Some people love their country—
EDDIE: Kay, I dropped bombs on people—
KAY: You did what you—
EDDIE: Killed people—
KAY: You killed people who want to destroy everything we believe in—
EDDIE: Believe shit! I’m full of it up to the neck! It’s a total crock of shit and I swam in it! For Chrissake, grow up! This isn’t the Pep Club! You’d rather I be dead over there than come back and try to be a decent husband and father?—
KAY: Yes I would! That’s what I promised! That was my commitment!
Silence. She straightens covers.
BAILEY: Oh hell, why not? Ok. Up to the block. Ready for launch.
Dials phone.
For Tacoma, please. Do you have a listing for— God, what— Will— We called him Del— Wendall— Wendall Derrydale. Derrydale, D-E-R-R-Y— Oh my God if they do. “That number is. . .” Oh shit.
Writes it. Kay goes to door, stands. Bailey stares at the number a moment, then dials.
Ah, hi. I wonder— Could— Is this— Ah, Del Derrydale, is he available to the phone? Oh. Well do you— Right, I realize ex-husbands aren’t a pleasant subject for conversation, but it’s important I reach him. Would you have a number? Do you mind giving me— Right. Ok. Great.
Writes. Hangs up.
Wow.
Dials again. Connects.
Hi. Could I speak to Del? Mr. Derrydale? Yeh. Edmond Bailey.
Waits. Sudden change of tone: utterly awestruck.
Del? My God. Is that you? This is— Eddie. Bailey. Edmond Bailey. I got your number from— I’ve just been, my God, it’s been— must be twenty years. And I’m a lawyer now, and I’m divorced, which I understand is the same as—
This is so crazy, I had all planned what to say, but— I wanted so much to see you again. Just tell you what you told me, you were right, and I was just a kid, and — I remember songs you sang that you never even sang. Oh hell. How are you?
Listens.
Ed Bailey. You were a teaching assistant, and the band, and — Oh. . .
Pause.
Plumbing fixtures. Well you’re not related to— Same last name. Right. Sorry.
Hangs up. Becomes aware of Jeri Ellen in the doorway.
I wanted so much to see him again. Not for an apology, but— It’s a scene I have wanted to happen many times. I really wanted that scene to happen.
In the bedroom, Kay turns to Eddie.
KAY: Can I make you some supper?
EDDIE: I guess.
KAY: Eddie, it just takes getting used to. It’s a major thing to get used to. We’ll do it. We’ve got time.
She takes his hand.
BAILEY: (to Jeri Ellen) Five years, four months, and two babies. By then it was pretty ugly.
JERI ELLEN: What?
KAY: I’ll make you some supper.
She goes out.
JERI ELLEN: Are you leaving now, or keeping vigil?
BAILEY: No, I’ll crash.
JERI ELLEN: I checked the news. It’s a big success. With 30% of the bombs tallied, NBC is projecting the US will finally win the War in Vietnam. ¬†History in the remaking.
Silence.
Ed, I know you missed the party there, but you did do something more productive with your time tonight. In my opinion. You were a pro.
BAILEY: I lost my marriage. . . My kids. . . The work that I loved more than anything— The most unbelievable— Better— Better than fucking. It’s true. That’s literally true.
Pause.
What’s the charge to the jury? Whatta they say?
JERI ELLEN: Did you miss it? Let’s see if my shorthand meets Presidential standards. . . “We have before us the opportunity to forge for ourselves and for future generations a new world order, a world where the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations.”
Bailey breaks down and cries. Jeri Ellen comes to him, holds him.
He recovers. Gives her a friendly hug.
JERI ELLEN: Well done.
BAILEY: I’ll get the lights.
JERI ELLEN: ‘Night.
Jeri Ellen goes out. Bailey puts his folders into the briefcase. Eddie gets up.
BAILEY: Ed.
Eddie turns. For the first time they see each other.
CHORUS: He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth;
he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder;
he burneth the chariot in the fire.
Fade.
END