EXT. STAN'S HOUSE - DAY
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.
Virgil. It's so good to have you back.
good to see you too, Mrs. Uplinger. How's Stan?
not so good. He won't do anything. But I know he'll
glad to see you.
course he will. Why wouldn't he?
sent him on that patrol.
be silly, Virgil, it's not your fault. Come in.
She ushers Virgil inside. He hesitantly enters.
INT. THE UPLINGER HOUSE/STAN'S BEDROOM
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
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.
Stan. You mad at me?
Stan grabs the edge of the bed, grips it very tight and painfully forces
words out of his mouth.
y-y-you s-s-send on t-t-that patrol?
j-j-just g-g-got off one.
didn't trust that kid, what's-his-name, to lead it.
He was a fuck-up and a new guy. I just figured
even if you were dead-ass tired the patrol would
be better off with you leading it.
w-w-walked r-r-right into it. I-I-I w-wouldn't've
that if I-I-I w-w-wasn't so b-b-beat.
know. I fucked up. I'm sorry, Stan. I'd take it all
I could. I'd lead the patrol myself. I'm as sorry as I've
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.
EXT. TOLEDO CLOCK COMPANY - MORNING
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."
INT. FACTORY - DAY
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
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
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.
Bud. Remember me?
were in Senior civics together. I'm Gwen Karpowitz.
Bud looks like he's seen a ghost. He smiles weakly.
Hi. How ya doin'?
I'll see ya later.
Bud and his Dad walk away. Bud is panicked and in a sweat.
He grabs his Father's arm.
probably think I'm an awful dope, Dad, but
gotta get outta here.
we gotta go talk to da foreman. It's all set up.
can't right now. Maybe another time.
what's wrong wit you?
don't know, Dad. I'll see you at home. 'Bye.
Bud quickly leaves. His Father watches him go with a concerned,
EXT. COUNTY TWO-LANE - DAY
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.
INT. MOORE HOUSE/LIVING ROOM - DAY
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. Virgil here?
Mrs. Moore looks troubled and shrugs. She goes back to the kitchen
and Shirley enters the living room.
Shirl. Sit down. This gal answers two more
right she wins five hundred bucks.
questions, though. I haven't been able
get almost any of 'em. You know the capital
I got the date for our wedding. August
How does that sound?
Virgil doesn't look up from the radio.
sound like you don't care.
Virgil looks right at her.
this is our wedding we're talking about.
not what we're talking about, it's what you're
about. I'm listening to a show.
you don't want to get married?
Virgil gropes for words that are very difficult for him to find.
. . . I don't know what I want. Ever since
been back I can't focus on anything. I can't
read a book, and you know how much I like
read. When I was stuck in the jungle with Japs
ready to kill me I could read. Now, I
know what's going on. I kinda just want to
my fist through something.
Virgil, the war's over. We've got to get on
like to, really, but . . .
this doesn't make any sense.
just how it is. I've done my best to explain it,
I don't care. Maybe by August thirtieth I will.
can we just knock it off for a second? I wanna
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.
saw Shirley on the way out. She didn't look very
Jason looks around to make sure his Mom isn't nearby.
stinks. I'm failing biology and I don't think
gonna let me graduate 'cause of it.
Mom and Dad know this?
threw out all the progress reports.
good move. You know they're gonna find out,
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 goes into the kitchen where his wife is waiting for him.
INT. KITCHEN - DAY
Virgil's Mom and Dad watch their sons from the kitchen, look at each
other and shake their heads in confusion.
INT. VIRGIL'S BEDROOM - MORNING
Virgil is in bed, asleep. Mr. Moore enters all bright and chipper,
opens the shade and wakes Virgil up.
and at 'em, boy. The day's a wasting.
time is it?
Now look, I spoke with my manager at
and got you a job on the line. It's a good job,
pays well and could lead to a better position, with
influence, of course. Better get a move on, you
want to be late your first day.
Virgil looks up at him and shakes his head.
Mr. Moore puts his hands on his hips and becomes stern.
you've got to do something with yourself. You
lie around the house drinking beer all the time,
Mother and I won't have it. Look, I fought in the
war, I understand what you're going through.
Virgil sits up and gives his Dad an intense look.
understand what I'm going through?
You were in Europe for five months behind the
at a hospital cleaning shitty sheets. I just spent
years all over the Pacific killing Japs. Lots of 'em.
hundred. Two hundred. Probably more. And you
know what? I'm good at it. I'm a trained
I once threw a grenade down a hole that
away twenty-five or thirty of 'em in a single pop.
don't wanna work at Ford, Dad. Unless I can get a
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.
EXT. SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOOD - DAY
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.
EXT. THE UPLINGER HOUSE - DAY
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.
Stan slowly looks up and sees Virgil. It seems to take him a second
to focus. Stan painfully forces words out of his mouth.
Virgil thinks for a second, the match in his teeth flicking against
your old motorcycle still in the garage?
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.
it's okay, Stan. Doesn't matter. Skip it.
Stan face twists and turns and he finally gets out . . .
n-n-needs n-new t-t-tires and
let's go get 'em.
EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - DAY
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.
EXT. EIGHT MILE ARMORY - DAY
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."
INT. ARMORY - DAY
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.
right, that's the last of the Jeeps. Now, we've got
hundred Harley-Davidson WLA 45 motorcycles. These
part of the last lot produced for the military and are
in the crate. Bids will begin at one hundred
fifty dollars to you veterans.
Virgil raises his hand.
mean a hundred dollars.
I'm a veteran, you said we only pay fifty.
you have to bid a hundred.
Stan & Jason)
the military for you.
All right, I've got ninety-nine of these Harleys
. . .
EXT. BEHIND THE ARMORY - DAY
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.
bought one of these Harleys myself. Best deal
the whole damn Army as far as I'm concerned.
jazzed mine up a little, though -- bored out the
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.
ya have any trouble puttin' it together lemme
It was a bitch for me an' I been workin' on
things for years. I muster out of the service
week, so I'll be around.
them a piece of paper)
You can call me at this number if ya need to.
Virgil's impressed. He puts out his hand.
thanks a lot. I'm Virgil Moore, this is Stan
and my brother, Jason.
Dewey shakes all their hands.
to meet'cha. Us ex-servicemen that likes
gotta stick together.
at a stack of crates)
they are. Go take one. Careful of your backs,
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
Dewey is watching over his shoulder. He chuckles and turns to
the next guy.
EXT. THE MOORE'S BACKYARD - DAY
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
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.
EXT. THE LONGFELLOW HOUSE - DAY
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.
and Stan are talkin' about maybe takin' a road
out to California this summer. Visit some service
in Dago, maybe go up to Oakland. Interested?
Jason turns away looking hurt.
don' think so. I jus' got out after three years. I mean,
got seven younger brothers and sisters and my Daddy's
I just gotta make some money somehow. Sounds
a great idea though. Thanks for askin'.
won't have any trouble gettin' a job. You're a first-
mechanic. You're a helluva lot better trained than
I can't do anything.
my Mamma says, from your mouth to the Lord's
INT. CARL'S CHOP HOUSE - NIGHT
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.
EXT. THE MOORE'S BACKYARD - DAY
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.
I have to tell you quite frankly that your Mother
I have had it! I don't know what's gotten into you?
act so angry, always ready to fight, like someone
you something. Well, we don't owe you anything.
as long as you live under our roof you're going to
by our rules. Do you understand?
Dad, I understand.
of all you're gonna go out tomorrow and start
for a job. The job I got you isn't available
no more lounging around all day drinking
Your Mother can't stand the sight of you anymore.
Mrs. Moore watches and listens from the kitchen window.
don't want you spending so much time with your
You're a bad influence on him.
It's now gone too far for Virgil.
yeah? Well, ya know what Dad, I really don't
a shit what you think about that. Jason's his own
he's gonna do whatever he's gonna do and neither
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.
Look what I got.
They turn and look. Virgil looks embarrassed, Mr. Moore is furious
and Stan hides a grin.
gonna get rid of that thing tomorrow, mister,
hear me! And if you think your Mother and I
such fools that we don't know what's going on
your grades, you've got another thing coming!
grounded for the whole summer! The only
you're going out is for summer school!
know what your Mother and I think about profanity
this house! If you ever speak to me like that again you
just pack your bag and hit the road! And another
if you intend to keep that motorcycle of yours,
gonna keep it somewhere other than this house!
goes for you, too! I've absolutely had enough of
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.
me, am I interruptin' somethin'?
How ya doin' there, Dewey? What brings you to
I decided to take you up on goin' out west, there's
few buddies I wouldn't mind seein'. I know you fellas
planned to go later, but I gotta shove off right
Virgil looks at his stone-faced Father and nods.
know what you mean. Lemme get my gear.
Jason; dead serious)
no you're not!
across the country on a motorcycle? Why shouldn't
Because I said so, that's why! Besides, you're grounded,
you hear me?
know what, Dad? I don't care about your rules. I'm
and I'm going.
you go, don't come back!
Mr. Moore turns to Virgil with burning fury in his eyes.
what you've done to him! You've turned my own
Mr. Moore has just been pushed too far. He moves in on Virgil
with his hand upraised to smack him.
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.
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.
for God's sake what's wrong with you? This
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.
can't ever come back here, Jas. You want that, too?
already left me behind once, Virg, please don't do
Virgil grabs Jason's shoulder.
won't. Let's go get our stuff. I gotta call a buddy of
be right back. Sorry about the scene.
don't mind me.
EXT. U.S. 24 SOUTH - DAY
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.
matey. It didn't take a lot of convincing to get
good you called when you did, I was about to
leave on my own. Where'd you get the Harley?
auction. Fifty bucks. Meet the guys. This mug
my brother, Jason, this palooka is my buddy, Stan,
this is a new recruit, Dewey. This is Bud.
Bud looks at Dewey suspiciously.
didn't know your kind rode motorcycles.
Everybody suddenly seems uncomfortable.
don't know, I just thought you people avoided
leave 'em to people like you?
don't get touchy. I'm just makin' conversation.
Dewey looks away. It suddenly seems like it's going to be a long
Bud grins and looks over the selection of motorcycles.
guys got some nice motorcycles here, but
I'm the only one with an Indian, I guess
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.
engine's outta tune.
How do you know?
a mechanic. That's the problem with havin' four
You gotta tune 'em all the time. Maybe
kind of people don't know that.
think I knew and forgot.
Well, I got my tools with me, when we stop
tune it up for you.
EXT. U.S. 25 SOUTH - DAY
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.
EXT. ROADSIDE PARK - NIGHT
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."
brother, but it's great t' be out on the road. I was
my limit back there in the city.
nods at that.
you know, you spend all that time overseas
if I was only home everything'd be swell,
ya get here and it all stinks.
gives a good goddamn that we just shit
a big chunk of our lives. They want ya to
pick back up like it didn't happen. Hell, I'm
the same person as when I left.
s-sure c-can't p-pick back up. W-w-what'm
s-s-supposed t-to do now?
could get a job as a radio announcer.
Stan punches Virgil in the arm.
the war it always made me real mad that
Negroes weren't allowed to fight. That we
to work in the mess or supply or the motor-
But in the motor-pool I was the Sergeant,
respected man by everybody -- colored or white.
said jump to a white corporal an' he jumped.
officers would come to me when they
to know somethin' about the vehicles an'
I told 'em they could or couldn't do somethin',
what they did. So what do I end up doin'?
dishes for rich white folks. An' if I
long and hard, they make me a busboy.
They all shrug and shake their heads.
know, during the war I used to feel pretty
lucky. I mean, I was on three ships that
down. On my fourth ship guys would just
me on the way to battle stations thinkin'
I was good luck. I don't feel lucky anymore.
Like when Stan and me were in the Philippines,
went on this march into the jungle with no food
they were gonna re-supply us with drops from
air. The day after we leave all the supply planes
bombed. So we're out there with Japs all around
for fifteen days without food, eatin' anything, plants,
Everyone grimaces at the thought.
you ain't lived 'til you've eaten a big, hairy, foot-
centipede. Anyways, they finally get a supply plane
the air and drop a couple of big, heavy crates of K-rats.
of my guys that's gone nuts from hunger, Chester
from Raleigh, North Carolina, goes runnin' out
he's gonna catch one of these goddamn things, but
he gets konked right on the head and dies. Talk
luck, will ya.
t-t-the end of-f-f t-that m-m-march was
I-I-I t-t-took it in t-t-the head. I-I-I
r-real lucky f-for the whole w-w-war,
I w-w-wasn't anymore.
tell ya, everybody can complain about what a
war it was and how everything was so awful
it, but at least I knew who I was and who the
was. Now, I don't know. I mean, for a while
it seemed like the enemy was my Dad, and I
damn close to bashing his face in, but . . . I
him. He's my Dad. He's not the enemy.
guess he's not my enemy, either. But there were
I sure wanted to bash his face in, too.
on the ship knew what their job was,
was expected of them, where their battle
were and why they were there. Everybody
a purpose. Now, the only purpose, I guess, is
and gettin' married and havin' kids and all
I just don't want to do it now. Maybe when I
older, like when I'm thirty. Now I just want to
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.