Virgil, now dressed in khaki work pants, a white shirt, windbreaker and tie, steps in front of a little, brick house.  He knocks on the door and MRS. UPLINGER answers.  She's about fifty, but looks older.  There is great sadness in her face, however she brightens up considerably upon seeing Virgil.  She hugs him.

                                                                 MRS. UPLINGER
                                Oh, Virgil.  It's so good to have you back.

                                It's good to see you too, Mrs. Uplinger.  How's Stan?

                                                                 MRS. UPLINGER
                                                           (the sadness returns)
                                He's not so good.  He won't do anything.  But I know he'll
                                be glad to see you.

                                Will he?

                                                                 MRS. UPLINGER
                                Of course he will.  Why wouldn't he?

                                I sent him on that patrol.

                                                                 MRS. UPLINGER
                                                           (waves her hand)
                                Don't be silly, Virgil, it's not your fault.  Come in.

She ushers Virgil inside.  He hesitantly enters.


Mrs. Uplinger opens the door to Stan's room.  STAN UPLINGER sits in bed staring out the window, a crumpled comic book in his lap.  Stan's curly brown hair is in disarray and is considerably shorter in back.

                                                                 MRS. UPLINGER
                                Stan, look who's here.  It's Virgil.

Stan turns, sees Virgil and narrows his eyes.  He doesn't look pleased.  He attempts to say something but can't get his mouth to form the words.  Stan's Mother looks like she's going to cry and quickly leaves the room.  Virgil steps into the room.

                                Hi, Stan.  You mad at me?

Stan grabs the edge of the bed, grips it very tight and painfully forces words out of his mouth.

                                W-w-why'd y-y-you s-s-send on t-t-that patrol?
                                I-I-I j-j-just g-g-got off one.

                                I didn't trust that kid, what's-his-name, to lead it.


                                Right.  He was a fuck-up and a new guy.  I just figured
                                that even if you were dead-ass tired the patrol would
                                still be better off with you leading it.

                                W-w-we w-w-walked r-r-right into it.  I-I-I w-wouldn't've
                                d-d-done that if I-I-I w-w-wasn't so b-b-beat.

                                                           (looks down; ashamed)
                                I know.  I fucked up.  I'm sorry, Stan.  I'd take it all back
                                if I could.  I'd lead the patrol myself.  I'm as sorry as I've
                                ever been about anything.

Virgil wrings his hands and stares down at the floor.  After a long moment, Stan reaches out and puts his hand on Virgil's shoulder.



The work day is about to begin at the Toledo Clock Company, a medium-sized, brick factory.  The sign at the top of the building reads, "TOLEDO CLOCK COMPANY, RADIUM DIAL DIVISION."


Bud, wearing civilian clothes, and his Father, wearing white paint spattered overalls, walk through the factory.  Mr. Hoogenboom leads Bud down to the production line, which is made up of several long tables where men and women sit manipulating thin paint brushes, busily painting clock dials.  They all dip the ends of the brushes into tubs of white, radium paint and meticulously cover the small numbers and hands of the clocks.  When the ends of their brushes are no longer sufficiently pointed they put them in their mouths and renew the point with their lips.

Bud looks closely at the workers.  Most of them have spotted skin, clumps of hair missing and open sores on their lips-just like his Father.  Bud is shocked.  Mr. Hoogenboom speaks proudly to some of the workers they pass.

                                                                 MR. HOOGENBOOM
                                Dis is my boy, Bud.  He's comin' to work here wid us.

A FEMALE WORKER that looks forty-five years old, with spotted skin, and thin, nearly see-through blonde hair, waves at Bud.

                                                                 FEMALE WORKER
                                Hi, Bud.  Remember me?
                                                           (Bud looks completely
                                We were in Senior civics together.  I'm Gwen Karpowitz.

Bud looks like he's seen a ghost.  He smiles weakly.

                                Gwen.  Hi. How ya doin'?

                                Great.  I'll see ya later.


Bud and his Dad walk away.  Bud is panicked and in a sweat.  He grabs his Father's arm.

                                You'll probably think I'm an awful dope, Dad, but
                                I gotta get outta here.

                                                                 MR. HOOGENBOOM
                                But we gotta go talk to da foreman.  It's all set up.

                                I can't right now.  Maybe another time.

                                                                 MR. HOOGENBOOM
                                Bud, what's wrong wit you?

                                I don't know, Dad.  I'll see you at home.  'Bye.

Bud quickly leaves.  His Father watches him go with a concerned, stupefied expression.


Bud races his motorcycle up a rural stretch of county two-lane, his head low, moving fast.  He rides through the hills outside town, going way too fast and jumping over the tops of the hills.  He recklessly cuts off the road and goes bumping off through the woods.

                                                                                                       LONG DISSOLVE:


Virgil lounges around the house drinking beer, smoking a cigarette and listening to a radio game show.  The doorbell rings and Mrs. Moore answers it.  It's Shirley.

                                                                 MRS. MOORE
                                Hello, Shirley.

                                Hi, Mrs. Moore.  Virgil here?

                                                                 MRS. MOORE
                                In there.

                                How is he?

Mrs. Moore looks troubled and shrugs.  She goes back to the kitchen and Shirley enters the living room.

                                Hi, Virgil.

                                Hi, Shirl.  Sit down.  This gal answers two more
                                questions right she wins five hundred bucks.
                                Tough questions, though.  I haven't been able
                                to get almost any of 'em.  You know the capital
                                of Wyoming?

                                Cheyenne.  I got the date for our wedding.  August
                                thirtieth.  How does that sound?

Virgil doesn't look up from the radio.


                                It's okay?


                                You sound like you don't care.

Virgil looks right at her.

                                I don't.

                                                           (getting upset)
                                But this is our wedding we're talking about.

                                It's not what we're talking about, it's what you're
                                talking about.  I'm listening to a show.

                                Then you don't want to get married?

Virgil gropes for words that are very difficult for him to find.

                                Shirl . . . I don't know what I want.  Ever since
                                I've been back I can't focus on anything.  I can't
                                even read a book, and you know how much I like
                                to read.  When I was stuck in the jungle with Japs
                                everywhere ready to kill me I could read.  Now, I
                                don't know what's going on.  I kinda just want to
                                put my fist through something.

                                But Virgil, the war's over.  We've got to get on
                                with our lives.

                                I'd like to, really, but . . .

                                But this doesn't make any sense.

                                That's just how it is.  I've done my best to explain it,
                                Shirl.  I don't care.  Maybe by August thirtieth I will.
                                Now can we just knock it off for a second?  I wanna
                                hear the rest of this.

Shirley is at a complete loss.  She stands and goes quickly out the door.  Virgil flicks his cigarette butt into the fireplace and takes a big slug of beer.

Jason comes in from school holding a pile of books.

                                Hi, Virg.
                                Mom!  I'm home!

                                Hey, what's up?

                                I saw Shirley on the way out.  She didn't look very

                                How's school?

Jason looks around to make sure his Mom isn't nearby.

                                It stinks.  I'm failing biology and I don't think
                                they're gonna let me graduate 'cause of it.

                                Uh-oh.  Mom and Dad know this?

                                                           (shakes his head)
                                I threw out all the progress reports.

                                Oh, good move.  You know they're gonna find out,
                                then what're you gonna do?

Just then Mr. Moore gets home from work, sees Virgil and Jason sitting on the couch listening to the radio and frowns.  Jason turns to Virgil and waves his hand.


                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                Hello Virgil, Jason.

                                Hi Dad.


Mr. Moore goes into the kitchen where his wife is waiting for him.


Virgil's Mom and Dad watch their sons from the kitchen, look at each other and shake their heads in confusion.



Virgil is in bed, asleep.  Mr. Moore enters all bright and chipper, opens the shade and wakes Virgil up.

                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                Up and at 'em, boy.  The day's a wasting.

                                What time is it?

                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                Six-thirty.  Now look, I spoke with my manager at
                                Ford's and got you a job on the line.  It's a good job,
                                it pays well and could lead to a better position, with
                                my influence, of course.  Better get a move on, you
                                don't want to be late your first day.

Virgil looks up at him and shakes his head.

                                No thanks.

Mr. Moore puts his hands on his hips and becomes stern.

                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                Virgil, you've got to do something with yourself.  You
                                can't lie around the house drinking beer all the time,
                                your Mother and I won't have it.  Look, I fought in the
                                first war, I understand what you're going through.
                                But enough's enough!

Virgil sits up and gives his Dad an intense look.

                                You understand what I'm going through?

                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                Yes, I do.

                                Dad.  You were in Europe for five months behind the
                                lines at a hospital cleaning shitty sheets.  I just spent
                                three years all over the Pacific killing Japs.  Lots of 'em.
                                A hundred.  Two hundred.  Probably more.  And you
                                wanna know what?  I'm good at it.  I'm a trained
                                professional.  I once threw a grenade down a hole that
                                put away twenty-five or thirty of 'em in a single pop.
                                                           (snaps his fingers)
                                I don't wanna work at Ford, Dad.  Unless I can get a
                                job killing Japs, I just wanna go back to

Virgil rolls over and pulls the blanket over his head.  His Dad is speechless.  He quickly leaves Virgil's bedroom.



Virgil walks through his neighborhood of brick houses and apartment buildings on a bright, chilly, early spring day.  He sees little boys playing Army with plastic helmets and guns.  He sees a Twin Pines milkman dressed in white on his route.  The milkman waves to him and he waves back.

As he walks along a car goes by and backfires.  Virgil instinctively dives to the ground and covers his head.  He looks up and sees the little boys in their Army helmets looking down at him.  Virgil takes a deep breath, sits up and foolishly smiles at the kids.


Virgil steps up in front of Stan's house and finds Stan sitting on the porch in a winter coat, mittens and a hat.  He is staring into space, a comic book in his lap.

                                Heya, Stan.

Stan slowly looks up and sees Virgil.  It seems to take him a second to focus.  Stan painfully forces words out of his mouth.

                                H-h-heya, Virg.

Virgil thinks for a second, the match in his teeth flicking against his nose.

                                Is your old motorcycle still in the garage?
                                                           (Stan shrugs)
                                What'dya say we get it runnin'?

Stan tries to answer and his face contorts and twists and as hard as he tries no words will come out.  It keeps getting worse and worse and finally Stan grabs the sides of his head and presses so hard his fingers turn white.  Virgil doesn't know what to do.

                                Hey, it's okay, Stan.  Doesn't matter.  Skip it.

Stan face twists and turns and he finally gets out . . .

                                D-d-definitely n-n-needs n-new t-t-tires and
                                sp-p-park p-plugs.

                                So let's go get 'em.


Virgil and Stan ride Stan's old, 1931 Norton along a woodsy, two-lane road.  The sky is deep blue and the trees are starting to bud.  Stan drives fast and Virgil hangs on for dear life.  They're both having a great time.


The Eight Mile Armory is a long, low brick building with Army tanks and cannons parked on the front lawn.  A sign hanging from the gun barrel of a tank reads, "U.S. Military Surplus Auction, April 12-14.  Veterans' discount."


Inside the large armory a military auction is being held.  The armory is loaded with now defunct and useless military equipment.  An Army CAPTAIN stands on stage behind a podium, auctioneering.  Virgil, Stan and Jason are in the crowd.  They watch as Willys Army Jeeps are sold for $150 each.  The captain stops for a moment and checks the list in front of him.

                                All right, that's the last of the Jeeps.  Now, we've got
                                a hundred Harley-Davidson WLA 45 motorcycles.  These
                                are part of the last lot produced for the military and are
                                unassembled, in the crate.  Bids will begin at one hundred
                                dollars-that's fifty dollars to you veterans.

Virgil raises his hand.

                                Fifty dollars!

                                You mean a hundred dollars.

                                But I'm a veteran, you said we only pay fifty.

                                But you have to bid a hundred.

                                                           (to Stan & Jason)
                                That's the military for you.
                                A hundred dollars!

                                Sold!  All right, I've got ninety-nine of these Harleys
                                left . . .


In the parking lot behind the Armory is where all of the equipment is stored.  There are rows of Jeeps and stacks of crates.  Our guys talk to a broad-chested, uniformed, black Staff Sergeant, DEWEY H. LONGFELLOW, sitting behind a desk made of crates.  He looks up from the receipt he's filling out.

                                I bought one of these Harleys myself.  Best deal
                                in the whole damn Army as far as I'm concerned.
                                I jazzed mine up a little, though -- bored out the
                                heads, increased the compression, you know.

Virgil, Stan and Jason all look at each other blankly -- they haven't got a clue what he's talking about.  Dewey sees this and smiles.

                                If ya have any trouble puttin' it together lemme
                                know.  It was a bitch for me an' I been workin' on
                                these things for years.  I muster out of the service
                                next week, so I'll be around.
                                                           (hands them a piece of paper)
                                Here.  You can call me at this number if ya need to.
                                Name's Dewey Longfellow.

Virgil's impressed.  He puts out his hand.

                                Hey, thanks a lot.  I'm Virgil Moore, this is Stan
                                Uplinger and my brother, Jason.

Dewey shakes all their hands.

                                Nice to meet'cha.  Us ex-servicemen that likes
                                motorcycles gotta stick together.
                                                           (points at a stack of crates)
                                There they are.  Go take one.  Careful of your backs,
                                sucker's are heavy.

Virgil, Jason and Stan step up to one of the crates stenciled "U.S." They each grab an edge, lift and get it an inch off the ground before dropping it.

Dewey is watching over his shoulder.  He chuckles and turns to the next guy.



Virgil, Jason and Stan assemble the Harley.  They grease up the pieces and bolt them into place; they run the brake and throttle cables; they pump up the tires and bolt them in place, spinning them to make sure they're centered; they screw on the front and back lights and test them to make sure they light up; they drink beer and smoke cigarettes as they work.

Mr. and Mrs. Moore watch from the window, not looking pleased at what they're seeing.

When the bike's all put together there are five engine parts left over.

They load the Harley and the extra pieces into a pick-up truck.


Dewey's house is near downtown Detroit in a black neighborhood.  It's a small wooden house in need of painting.  A number of little black kids and teenagers begin showing up and watching as Virgil, Stan and Jason unload the motorcycle from the truck.

Dewey Longfellow, now a civilian wearing pleated pants and a colorful shirt, takes over.  He quickly pulls the engine apart and shows them where each of the missing parts fit.  When he's done they gas up the bike, give it a kick and VROOM!! it starts right up.  They all turn to Dewey, impressed.  The watching kids applaud.  Dewey holds up his hands like it's nothing.

Dewey gets his Harley out of the garage.  It's a beauty: high gloss paint, extra chrome, three headlights, tooled leather saddlebags.  Virgil, Stan and Jason are very impressed.

                                Me and Stan are talkin' about maybe takin' a road
                                trip out to California this summer.  Visit some service
                                buddies in Dago, maybe go up to Oakland.  Interested?

Jason turns away looking hurt.

                                I don' think so.  I jus' got out after three years.  I mean,
                                I got seven younger brothers and sisters and my Daddy's
                                dead.  I just gotta make some money somehow.  Sounds
                                like a great idea though.  Thanks for askin'.

                                                           (waves his hand)
                                You won't have any trouble gettin' a job.  You're a first-
                                class mechanic.  You're a helluva lot better trained than
                                me.  I can't do anything.

                                Like my Mamma says, from your mouth to the Lord's


Carl's Chop House is a very nice steak house.  Every table is filled with well-dressed, upper-class, white people.  Their orders are taken by white waiters in tuxedos.  The food is cooked by white chefs.  The tables are bussed and the dishes are washed by blacks.  Dewey is among the dishwashers wearing a food-spattered apron, up to his elbows in soapy water.  All does not look right with the world by his expression.



It's a beautiful summer day.  Virgil and Stan hang out in the backyard drinking beer, their motorcycles parked nearby.  Mr.Moore comes out the back door of the house wearing a scowl and marches up to Virgil.

                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                Virgil, I have to tell you quite frankly that your Mother
                                and I have had it!  I don't know what's gotten into you?
                                You act so angry, always ready to fight, like someone
                                owes you something.  Well, we don't owe you anything.
                                And as long as you live under our roof you're going to
                                live by our rules.  Do you understand?

                                Yeah, Dad, I understand.

                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                First of all you're gonna go out tomorrow and start
                                looking for a job.  The job I got you isn't available
                                                           (Virgil shrugs)
                                Second, no more lounging around all day drinking
                                beer.  Your Mother can't stand the sight of you anymore.

Mrs. Moore watches and listens from the kitchen window.

                                Yeah, what else?

                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                We don't want you spending so much time with your
                                brother.  You're a bad influence on him.

It's now gone too far for Virgil.

                                Oh, yeah?  Well, ya know what Dad, I really don't
                                give a shit what you think about that.  Jason's his own
                                man, he's gonna do whatever he's gonna do and neither
                                you or me has anything to do with it.

At that very moment Jason arrives pushing an old, beat-up, 1929, single cylinder, Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

                                Hi.  Look what I got.

They turn and look.  Virgil looks embarrassed, Mr. Moore is furious and Stan hides a grin.

                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                That's the limit!
                                                           (points at Jason)
                                You're gonna get rid of that thing tomorrow, mister,
                                you hear me!  And if you think your Mother and I
                                are such fools that we don't know what's going on
                                with your grades, you've got another thing coming!
                                You're grounded for the whole summer!  The only
                                time you're going out is for summer school!
                                                           (points at Virgil)
                                You know what your Mother and I think about profanity
                                in this house!  If you ever speak to me like that again you
                                can just pack your bag and hit the road!  And another
                                thing, if you intend to keep that motorcycle of yours,
                                you're gonna keep it somewhere other than this house!
                                                           (points at Stan)
                                That goes for you, too!  I've absolutely had enough of
                                these stupid motorcycles!

Just then there is the very loud sound of a motorcycle pulling up the driveway.  It's Dewey on his snazzy Harley, full saddlebags, a sleeping bag strapped to the back.  Everybody turns and looks at him.  It's a weird moment and Dewey can feel the tension.

                                'Scuse me, am I interruptin' somethin'?

                                Nah.  How ya doin' there, Dewey?  What brings you to
                                these parts?

                                Well, I decided to take you up on goin' out west, there's
                                a few buddies I wouldn't mind seein'.  I know you fellas
                                prob'ly planned to go later, but I gotta shove off right

Virgil looks at his stone-faced Father and nods.

                                I know what you mean.  Lemme get my gear.

                                Me, too.

                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                                           (to Jason; dead serious)
                                Oh no you're not!

                                Why shouldn't I?

                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                Travel across the country on a motorcycle?  Why shouldn't
                                you?  Because I said so, that's why!  Besides, you're grounded,
                                didn't you hear me?

                                You know what, Dad?  I don't care about your rules.  I'm
                                eighteen and I'm going.

                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                If you go, don't come back!

                                Fine.  I won't.

Mr. Moore turns to Virgil with burning fury in his eyes.

                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                Look what you've done to him!  You've turned my own
                                son against me!

                                Me?  Bullshit!

Mr. Moore has just been pushed too far.  He moves in on Virgil with his hand upraised to smack him.

                                                                 MR. MOORE
                                I told you never to speak to me that wa-

Before Mr. Moore's hand makes contact with Virgil's face, a deadly cold expression appears in Virgil's eyes.  His hand clamps on his Dad's wrist very hard.  Virgil expertly and automatically bends his Dad's arm down driving him to his knees while simultaneously cocking his fist back ready to punch him in the face.

Mrs. Moore sees this from the window, looks absolutely horrified, and comes running out of the house.

Stan steps between Virgil and his Father.  He looks Virgil right in the eye.

                                L-l-let him g-g-go, Virg!  D-d-do it!  Now!

Virgil blinks several times, recognizes Stan, takes a deep breath and lets go of his Father's wrist.  Mr. Moore drops to the ground.  Mrs. Moore runs up and puts her arm around her husband's shoulders.  She stares at Virgil like she's afraid of him.

                                                                 MRS. MOORE
                                Virgil, for God's sake what's wrong with you?  This
                                is your Father.

Virgil is breathing hard and has no answer.  Mrs. Moore helps her husband to his feet and they walk back into the house.  Virgil looks at Jason who is intently watching his parents' departure.

                                I can't ever come back here, Jas.  You want that, too?

                                You already left me behind once, Virg, please don't do
                                it again.  Please.

Virgil grabs Jason's shoulder.

                                I won't.  Let's go get our stuff.  I gotta call a buddy of
                                                           (to Dewey)
                                We'll be right back.  Sorry about the scene.

                                Hey, don't mind me.



When the four men on their motorcycles reach a sign that reads "Toledo City Limit" they are met by a smiling Bud Hoogenboom on his loaded Indian.  He pulls up beside them.

                                Hey, matey.  It didn't take a lot of convincing to get
                                you to go.

                                It's good you called when you did, I was about to
                                just leave on my own.  Where'd you get the Harley?

                                Army auction.  Fifty bucks.  Meet the guys.  This mug
                                is my brother, Jason, this palooka is my buddy, Stan,
                                and this is a new recruit, Dewey.  This is Bud.

                                Hey, Bud.

                                Hey, guys.

Bud looks at Dewey suspiciously.

                                I didn't know your kind rode motorcycles.

                                My kind?

                                Yeah, Negroes.

Everybody suddenly seems uncomfortable.

                                Why wouldn't we?

                                I don't know, I just thought you people avoided
                                complicated mechanical things.

                                And leave 'em to people like you?

                                Hey, don't get touchy.  I'm just makin' conversation.

Dewey looks away.  It suddenly seems like it's going to be a long road trip.

Bud grins and looks over the selection of motorcycles.

                                You guys got some nice motorcycles here, but
                                since I'm the only one with an Indian, I guess
                                you can all just follow me.

Bud grins, guns it, pulls a wheelie and goes blasting up the road.  He waves as he gets farther and farther ahead.  The other guys look at each other, then they all go racing after him.

Dewey immediately pulls ahead of the others, quickly gaining on Bud.  In seconds Dewey catches up to Bud, salutes, and passes him.  Bud looks really angry and waves his fist.  Dewey slows down until he's beside Bud.

                                Your engine's outta tune.

                                What?  How do you know?

                                I'm a mechanic.  That's the problem with havin' four
                                cylinders.  You gotta tune 'em all the time.  Maybe
                                your kind of people don't know that.

                                I think I knew and forgot.

                                Yeah.  Well, I got my tools with me, when we stop
                                I'll tune it up for you.

                                Really?  Thanks.

                                That's okay.


The very first motorcycle gang (with no helmets) cruises up the road.  Jason has a portable radio strapped between his handlebars.  Tommy Dorsey's "Opus One" can be heard.  Everybody that they pass looks twice, their expressions saying, "What the hell is that?"  And indeed they are a strange looking lot; unshaven, shaggy hair, Army boots, a lot of tattoos -- nobody's ever seen anything like them.

They drive along through farm country, past fields of alfalfa, pastures full of fat cows, silos and barns, rolling hills and big, leafy trees.  They keep playing a game where one guy will pull ahead, then someone else will catch up and beat them pulling even further ahead.  Sometimes, as they're building up speed, they can't help but scream and holler as loud as they can.



They've stopped for the night off the side of the road.  With the bikes parked in a line, their sleeping bags (all are green Army surplus) rolled out and a campfire burning, they eat dinner out of cans.  They all feel very good.  Nobody's telling them what to do; they're their own men.  There's no need for talk.  As the fire smolders, they leisurely light up cigarettes and pass around a bottle of whiskey.  Jason's radio quietly plays "On The Sunny Side Of The Street."

                                Oh brother, but it's great t' be out on the road.  I was
                                at my limit back there in the city.

                                Everybody nods at that.

                                Yeah, you know, you spend all that time overseas
                                thinkin' if I was only home everything'd be swell,
                                then ya get here and it all stinks.

                                Nobody gives a good goddamn that we just shit
                                away a big chunk of our lives.  They want ya to
                                just pick back up like it didn't happen.  Hell, I'm
                                not the same person as when I left.

                                I-I-I s-sure c-can't p-pick back up.  W-w-what'm
                                I s-s-supposed t-to do now?

                                You could get a job as a radio announcer.

Stan punches Virgil in the arm.

                                F-f-fuck you.

                                Durin' the war it always made me real mad that
                                most Negroes weren't allowed to fight.  That we
                                had to work in the mess or supply or the motor-
                                pool.  But in the motor-pool I was the Sergeant,
                                a respected man by everybody -- colored or white.
                                I said jump to a white corporal an' he jumped.
                                White officers would come to me when they
                                needed to know somethin' about the vehicles an'
                                if I told 'em they could or couldn't do somethin',
                                that's what they did.  So what do I end up doin'?
                                Washin' dishes for rich white folks.  An' if I
                                work long and hard, they make me a busboy.

They all shrug and shake their heads.

                                You know, during the war I used to feel pretty
                                damn lucky.  I mean, I was on three ships that
                                went down.  On my fourth ship guys would just
                                touch me on the way to battle stations thinkin'
                                that I was good luck.  I don't feel lucky anymore.

                                Yeah.  Like when Stan and me were in the Philippines,
                                we went on this march into the jungle with no food
                                'cause they were gonna re-supply us with drops from
                                the air.  The day after we leave all the supply planes
                                get bombed.  So we're out there with Japs all around
                                us for fifteen days without food, eatin' anything, plants,
                                bugs, rats, anything-

                                -L-l-lotta b-big b-bugs.

Everyone grimaces at the thought.

                                Brother, you ain't lived 'til you've eaten a big, hairy, foot-
                                long centipede.  Anyways, they finally get a supply plane
                                in the air and drop a couple of big, heavy crates of K-rats.
                                One of my guys that's gone nuts from hunger, Chester
                                Rawlins from Raleigh, North Carolina, goes runnin' out
                                like he's gonna catch one of these goddamn things, but
                                instead, he gets konked right on the head and dies.  Talk
                                about luck, will ya.

                                A-a-at t-t-the end of-f-f t-that m-m-march was
                                w-w-when I-I-I t-t-took it in t-t-the head.  I-I-I
                                w-w-was r-real lucky f-for the whole w-w-war,
                                't-t-til I w-w-wasn't anymore.

                                I'll tell ya, everybody can complain about what a
                                terrible war it was and how everything was so awful
                                during it, but at least I knew who I was and who the
                                enemy was.  Now, I don't know.  I mean, for a while
                                there it seemed like the enemy was my Dad, and I
                                came damn close to bashing his face in, but . . . I
                                love him.  He's my Dad.  He's not the enemy.

                                I guess he's not my enemy, either.  But there were
                                days I sure wanted to bash his face in, too.

                                Everybody on the ship knew what their job was,
                                what was expected of them, where their battle
                                stations were and why they were there.  Everybody
                                had a purpose.  Now, the only purpose, I guess, is
                                makin' money.

                                Yeah, and gettin' married and havin' kids and all
                                that.  I just don't want to do it now.  Maybe when I
                                get older, like when I'm thirty.  Now I just want to
                                live a little.

Everyone nods and grunts in agreement.  They flick their butts into the fire, sigh, crawl into their sleeping bags and go to sleep.  Virgil, however, just sits up staring at the fire and smoking a cigarette.



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