Happy, healthy, free of debt, and to not die screaming.
                                All the things you never got, huh, Kev? God bless

Joe begins pounding his head on his desk.

An eye peers through a crack in the door at the forlorn-looking President banging his head.


Secretary of State Henry Harrison quietly shuts the door to the oval office. He turns to General Seaholm and the Aide.

                                He's cracking up.

                                                                 GENERAL SEAHOLM
                                It seems so.

                                We'll have to cancel as many of his meetings as we
                                can, then plant a cover story.

                                We can't cancel the Republican minority rally again,
                                he's already canceled five times before.

                                                           (waves his hand)
                                It doesn't matter what he says to them, why do you
                                think they call them minorities? I'm talking about
                                real meetings, for God's sake.

                                                                 GENERAL SEAHOLM
                                We could say he was visiting a military base, mistakenly
                                stepped on a land mine, and got blown up, then we could
                                frag him. Ya know, toss a grenade at him when he's not
                                looking. What do you think?

                                Good thinking, General, I'll keep it in mind.

Harrison walks quickly away.



Your typical, big, political rally: silly straw hats; banners stating the states of the union; crowds of people, young and old, wearing suits and ties, etc. . . .


Interestingly, it's a group made up of minority groups: blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, all wearing Republican paraphernalia. Joe Burton, wearing a well-tailored dark suit although still unshaven, his eye twitching, pushes through the crowd. People reach out to shake his hand and touch him. Hands yank at his tie, lapels, and even his nose; Joe doesn't look like he's enjoying all this adulation. In fact, he looks bugged.


Joe makes his way up onto the stage, shakes hands with top-ranking Republicans on the stage, then steps before the podium. Joe straightens his tie, clears his throat, then rubs his nose several times.

                                                           (addressing the crowd)
                                My fellow Republicans . . .
                                                           (Joe's right eye begins to twitch)
                                . . . The representation, or mascot if you will, of
                                our party is the elephant, which seems somewhat
                                ironic to me. You see, elephants mourn their
                                dead. When an elephant passes the bones of
                                another elephant it stops and cries, throwing
                                dust into the air with it's trunk.

Joe makes elephant crying noises while using his arm to imitate an elephant's trunk

Standing backstage, Secretary of State Harrison turns to General Seaholm.

                                He's lost it.

                                                                 GENERAL SEAHOLM
                                Should we shut him down?

                                Let him talk, no one's listening anyway.

                                The reason I bring this up is that a good friend
                                of mine died the other day. We were best friends
                                when we were kids. We saw the elephants at the
                                circus once and fed them peanuts. They'd take 'em
                                with their trunks. It was pretty cool, really . . .

The crowd pays close attention. What the hell is this guy talking about? And why does he keep picking his nose? A tall, thirty-five year old, Native American man, LUKE, stands watching this odd display with great interest as he busily eats all the free food off of a long table.

Joe, meanwhile, steps out from behind the podium and saunters up to the edge of the stage, a faraway look in his eyes.

                                . . . Kevin and I had a great treehouse. We
                                stole the wood off of constructions sites and
                                it took us a whole summer to build, but it was
                                really cool . . .

Harrison turns to General Seaholm and sighs.

                                All right. Enough. Get him off before he
                                starts talking about his comic book collection.

                                . . . I used to have a great comic book collection,
                                too. Hundreds of 'em . . .

Harrison rolls his eyes.

General Seaholm steps up beside a STAGEHAND and grabs the curtain rope.

                                Hey! What'cha doin'?

                                                                 GENERAL SEAHOLM
                                Lowering the curtain. You got something to
                                say about it, maggot?

The Stagehand shakes his head. General Seaholm lets go off the rope and a metal bar with many lights clamped to it drops down from above the stage, landing directly on President Burton's head -- DOONT!! -- knocking him out cold. The audience gasps in shock. General Seaholm looks horrified as he turns to the Stagehand.

                                                                 GENERAL SEAHOLM
                                Why didn't you tell me this wasn't the curtain?

                                You didn't ask.

                                                                 GENERAL SEAHOLM
                                Funny man! If you were in the military I'd have
                                you shot!

Secret service agents rush out to Joe's unconscious body.

Luke, the Native American, watches in amazement while scarfing down hotdogs.

Harrison looks at Joe's unconscious body, then turns to General Seaholm.

                                                                 GENERAL SEAHOLM
                                Sorry about that.

                                No, it's perfect. Now that we have our cover
                                story, all we have to do is find a new candidate.

General Seaholm nods.



Joe awakens in the hospital with a bandage on his head and a strange, faraway look in his eyes. Nevertheless, he now seems all right. He recognizes everyone:

                                Nora, Secretary of State Harrison, General Seaholm,
                                good to see you all.

                                He seems all right.

                                I'm fine, dear. Don't worry. It's nothing.
                                                           (he touches the lump
                                                           under the bandage and recoils)

Harrison looks at Joe closely.

                                Your eye isn't twitching anymore, Mr. President.

                                Really? Was it ever?

Harrison looks at the General.

                                Uh, yes it was, wasn't it, General?

                                                                 GENERAL SEAHOLM

                                Well, it's not now. I feel just fine. A little sleepy,

Joe closes his eyes. Nora turns to the others.

                                Let's let him sleep.

                                                                 GENERAL SEAHOLM
                                Yes, the best medicine now is some good old rest.
                                Ya know, when I was in Granada and shell went off
                                right near me, well, I --

                                -- That's fine, General, later.

                                Goodnight, everyone.


Joe really seems OK now. With his eyes closed, breathing evenly, he seems to be sleeping calmly. Everyone looks at each other and sighs, feeling greatly reassured.


Joe's eyes snap open as another patient is wheeled into his room. When the gurney stops beside him, Joe sees that it is his very ill, former best friend, Kevin Groves. He looks terrible, his hair fallen out, his lips dry and cracked. Joe is shocked.


Kevin turns to look at Joe, his lips moving but no sound coming out. He reaches toward Joe, his fingers grasping at the air.

                                Help me, Joe. Help me . . .

Masked DOCTORS push their way in between the two patients.

                                                                 DOCTOR #1
                                Leave the President alone! For God's sake, will
                                someone please deal with that poor wretch.

Another Doctor tosses a towel over Kevin's face. We can barely hear him wheeze through the terry-cloth. Kevin's hand slowly lowers.

                                                                 DOCTOR #1
                                The President's breathing is uneven, I need an EKG,
                                an EEG, an MRI, and a CAT-SCAN, stat! You hear
                                me? I said, stat! And I mean, stat!

Machines of every shape and size, making every kind of electronic bleeping sound imaginable, are wheeled in and attached to Joe.

Kevin, meanwhile, is expiring.

                                But what about him?

The masked doctor leans into Joe's face.

                                                                 DOCTOR #1
                                Forget him, he's gone. Besides, he wasn't even a
                                Republican. He voted Libertarian. Now he's dead,
                                which, for all intents and purposes, is the same thing.
                                He's of no importance, Mr. President. Just a poor
                                farmer. Whereas you, Mr. President, you're important!

Joe watches as Kevin's hand drops limp beside him. A JANITOR comes in, empties a wastebasket on Kevin's face, stubs out his cigarette in the mess, then wheels Kevin and the garbage out.

Joe drops his head back, his eyes wide.

                                I'm a murderer!

Joe bolts awake -- he was dreaming. It was all a dream. Joe is breathing deeply, his eyes darting all around. His room is quiet; empty. Joe gets up out of bed and stealthily puts on his clothes. He goes to the door and peeks outside.


Both Secret Service agents are zonked out in plastic chairs. Joe steps out of his room, tiptoes past the snoozing Agents, then ducks around a corner.


Joe evades two more inattentive Secret Service Agents. Yanking the bandage off his head and tossing it, Joe runs into the night.


Four Secret Service Agents stand around Joe's empty hospital bed looking baffled. The door to the hospital room swings open and there stands CHIEF HANK DONDERO, a bear of a man, and the head of the Secret Service. Agent #1 turns to him.

                                                                 AGENT #1
                                Ah, Chief Dondero. As you can see, the President is

                                                                 CHIEF DONDERO
                                Excellent deduction. Where do you suppose he is?

                                                                 AGENT #2
                                We were thinking an abduction by terrorists.

                                                                 AGENT #3
                                Or simply a straight kidnapping for money.

                                                                 CHIEF DONDERO
                                                           (nods; considering)
                                Is there a ransom note?

The four Agents look at each other in confusion.

                                                                 AGENT #1
                                Uh, not that we've located as yet. But we will.

                                                                 CHIEF DONDERO
                                                           (nods again)
                                You know what I think?
                                                           (all four Agents look eager
                                                           to hear his speculation)
                                I think that all four of you lazy bastards were asleep
                                on the job, and none of you has the slightest clue what
                                really happened.

                                                                 ALL FOUR AGENTS
                                Well . . . That is . . . I, uh . . .

                                                                 CHIEF DONDERO
                                Have any of you eagle-eyed agents noticed anything
                                odd about the President lately?

The four Agents consider this.

                                                                 AGENT #1
                                Well, he hasn't been wearing shoes in the last few

                                                                 THREE AGENTS
                                Yeah, that's right . . . He hasn't been wearing shoes.

                                                                 CHIEF DONDERO
                                And why do you suppose that is?

The four Agents consider this, too.

                                                                 AGENT #2
                                He hasn't had time to get to a shoe store?

Chief Dondero rolls his eyes, shakes his head and sighs.

                                                                 CHIEF DONDERO
                                Check all of the bus stations, airports, and car rentals.
                                Now let's move! I want to know where President Burton
                                is, and I want to know soon!

                                                                 ALL FOUR AGENTS
                                Yes, sir.

The Agents head out the door at double-time. Chief Dondero looks down at the empty bed, then shakes his head sadly.

                                                                 CHIEF DONDERO
                                Poor Joe. You never were much of a president.
                                And now you've lost your marbles, too.

The Chief turns and exits the hospital room.


Joe comes running up to a bank with a lighted ATM machine in the wall. Joe steps up to the ATM, pulls out his wallet, removes a credit card and is about to insert it in the machine, then stops.

                                Wait a minute. They'll track me down with this.

Joe puts the credit card back in his wallet, then checks his cash situation -- two twenties. Putting the two bills in his pants pocket, Joe glances at a photo of his wife, then tosses his wallet in the trashcan. Joe looks down at the gold wedding band on his finger. He pulls it off, thinks about tossing it, but changes his mind and puts it in his pocket. Joe looks around quizzically, rubbing his thickening beard.


Joe enters a gas station bathroom holding a plastic bag. He takes out a baseball cap bearing the slogan, "WASHINGTON, D.C. -- WHERE POLITICIANS DO IT SLOWER," and a green, nylon windbreaker with a picture of the Washington Monument on the back. Joe takes off his sportcoat and tosses it in the trashcan. He puts on the jacket and hat, studying himself in the mirror. After a moment Joe turns the cap around backward, nods, winks, and exits the bathroom.


Joe walks down a dark, inner city street in his new outfit. He both looks and feels out of place. There are drug deals going on among shadowy people. Prostitutes beckon him hither.

                                Hey, Daddy, wanna date?

                                No, thank you very much. I quit dating when
                                I got married.

Joe hurries along, his hands in his jacket pockets. He turns a corner.


Joe comes upon the vacant edge of town, and spotting the train tracks, decides to follow them.

Walking along the train tracks, Joe breathes deeply.

                                It's the first time I've been alone in years . . . other
                                than at bedtime. It's nice. Calming.

Joe begins to whistle, I've Been Working on the Railroad. Suddenly, there is a scream: possibly human, but very possibly not. Joe stops whistling, looking every which way. There's nothing but darkness. He hurries along the tracks. But as he moves along he remembers something . . .


It's now daytime and two nine year old boys walk along the railroad tracks swinging cattails. The dark-haired kid is NINE YEAR OLD JOE, who wears a coonskin cap, the blond kid is NINE YEAR OLD KEVIN.

                                                                 NINE YEAR OLD JOE
                                Gosh, I love Davy Crockett.

                                                                 NINE YEAR OLD KEVIN
                                Then why don't you marry him.

                                                                 NINE YEAR OLD JOE
                                A.) Davy Crockett's a boy, and B.) he's dead, OK?

                                                                 NINE YEAR OLD KEVIN
                                If you could choose how you're gonna die, how would

                                                                 NINE YEAR OLD JOE
                                That's stupid.

                                                                 NINE YEAR OLD KEVIN
                                No it's not. Come on, Joe, choose.

                                                                 NINE YEAR OLD JOE
                                Well . . . I wanna get hit by a speeding train. Splat!
                                                           (they both look back to see
                                                           if a train's coming -- nope)
                                How 'bout you?

                                                                 NINE YEAR OLD KEVIN
                                Well . . . I wanna die in battle, saving my whole
                                platoon. Be a big hero.

                                                                 NINE YEAR OLD JOE
                                Cripes! What are we talkin' about dyin' for, it's Saturday.
                                We don't have to be back in school for two whole days.

Kevin pushes Joe with both hands, then takes off running.

                                                                 NINE YEAR OLD KEVIN
                                Tag! You're it!

Joe runs after Kevin, grinning.

                                                                 NINE YEAR OLD JOE
                                Oh, no I'm not, you ratfink! You are!


Full-grown Joe walks along the dark tracks, looking sad.

                                Sorry, Kev. You didn't even get to die the way you
                                wanted to.
                                'Course you were never in the military, so I'm not
                                sure how you'd ever save your whole platoon

He hears the blast of an oncoming train. Joe realizes that he's up on an embankment and there's nowhere to go to get away from the train. Joe starts running.

The speeding train bears down on the fleeing Joe, getting closer and closer. Joe dashes along the tracks on the embankment, then finally throws himself off the tracks and rolls down the dirt hill. The train rushes past.


When Joe stops rolling he sees a fellow sitting on a low lawnchair beside a campfire cooking dinner. Although the fellow doesn't recognize Joe, nor Joe him, it's the Native American man, Luke, from the minority rally.


                                Thanks for dropping in. You eaten?

Joe stands, brushing off the dirt.

                                No, I haven't.

                                Would you like to?

                                As a matter of fact, I would.

Luke indicates another ragged, low, lawnchair next to him.

                                Sit down.
                                Oh, but be careful . . .

Joe sits in the lawnchair, the back gives out and he drops right over backward with a thump.

                                . . . 'Cause that chair's broken.

Joe sits back up. He puts out his hand.

                                Hi, my name's Joe. Joe Bur . . .
                                . . . gundy. Burgundy. Joe Burgundy. It's like

Luke shakes Joe's hand.

                                Luke Warmwater. It's like cold water, only warmer.
                                So, what brings you rolling down the hill, Joe?
                                You forget that trains use those tracks to travel on?

                                I guess I did. I guess I've forgotten a lot of things.

                                Well, compadre, I'm trying to forget a lot of things.
                                                           (he pulls out a pint of
                                                           peppermint schnapps)

Joe takes the bottle.

                                Doesn't it make you, uh . . . Native Americans, crazy?

Joe inspects the bottle's opening, shrugs, takes a drink, then hands it back.

                                                           (takes a slug)
                                It don't make me near crazy enough.
                                Native Americans, Amerinds, Indiginous Peoples . . .
                                It's a good thing Columbus didn't think he was in
                                Alaska or we'd be called Eskimos. We're Indians,
                                Joe. It doesn't make any sense, but there you are.
                                I'm a Huron Indian. They named a lake after us.

Joe takes another slug.

                                Which one?

                                Superior, what else?
                                                           (Joe smiles back; Luke
                                                           looks more closely at Joe)
                                Have we met before? Do I know you?

                                Maybe. Have you been in Washington, D.C. long?

                                                           (shakes his head)
                                Uh-uh, just visiting. Not much of a town, if you ask
                                me. You been here long, Joe?

Luke dishes out two plates of stew. He hands one to Joe and a spoon. Joe takes it gratefully.

                                Thanks. Twenty years.

                                Work for the government?
                                                           (Joe nods; mouth full)
                                Good health benefits, huh?
                                                           (Joe nods again)
                                Why're you out riding the rails, if you don't mind me

                                I quit. Didn't like my job. Too much stress. Besides,
                                I'm going to my pal's funeral in Akron.

                                I'm going right past there on my way back to Michigan.

                                Mind if I tag along? I'm not very experienced at travel-
                                ing alone.

                                I saw. Sure, why not? When's the funeral?

                                Friday at ten.

                                That's soon. We'll have to hustle. Get an early

Joe nods, his eyes closing. He puts out his hand.

                                Good to meet you, Luke. Thanks for dinner. I've
                                had kind of a rough day, so . . .

Joe falls over backward in his chair again, this time sound asleep. Luke stands, smiles, shaking his head.

                                Goodnight, Joe. Nice to meet you, too. You
                                sure are a trusting son of a bitch.

Luke steps over to his knapsack, picks it up and dumps it out. Among other things, a .38 Smith & Wesson Police Special pistol falls out. Also a Navajo blanket. Luke takes the blanket and covers Joe.


Joe is sleeping, a pleasant grin on his face. The sound of a pot clanging awakens him. Joe opens his eyes, has no idea where he is, whose blanket is covering him, or what's going on. Joe scrambles to his feet, fighting the blanket. Luke watches him, while packing his knapsack.

                                You're covered.

                                What? Who? Wait, it's all coming back to me.
                                                           (he burps and holds his belly)
                                Salty stew and you're an Indian. I got it. Where the
                                hell are we?

                                We're still on the outskirts of D.C. If you're gonna
                                make it to Akron by tomorrow at ten, we've gotta
                                blow this taco stand.

Joe folds the blanket and hands it to Luke, who is already on the move.

                                Thank you.

                                Not a problem. Come on, we've got a train to

                                Uh, Luke, I haven't got any money. Or, not enough
                                for a train ticket, anyway.

                                Me, neither. We're gonna hop the train, Joe. And
                                not pay.

                                Is that ethical?

                                What part of the government you work for?

                                Uh . . . a low part; not high up. Insignificant, really.
                                Uh, the Department of Health.

                                What did you do?

                                Uh, I, uh, was a paper-pusher, just like everybody
                                else. Create piles of paper and push 'em along.

                                You figure it's ethical for all of us to pay a third
                                of everything we make so that the government can
                                create piles of paper out of our old forests, so people
                                like you can push 'em around?

                                I haven't even had any coffee yet, and you want me
                                to wrestle with that? No thanks. But since I've got to
                                get to Akron and I don't have enough money, I guess
                                I'll hop the train and put my ethics aside.

                                Good answer. Anytime you agree with me, it's a
                                good answer. By the way, how much money have
                                you got?


                                Don't trust me, eh?

                                Well . . .

                                Joe, buddy, if I wanted to rob you I could've done
                                it while you were asleep, then not been there when
                                you woke up.

                                                           (Joe nods, understanding)
                                Right. Sorry.

                                That's OK. I just was thinking about that cup of
                                coffee you mentioned. Sounds good and I haven't
                                got any money at all.

                                                           (Luke shrugs)
                                Doesn't it scare you to walk around without any

                                Scare me? No. Annoy me? Yes.

Joe reaches into his pocket and removes a few wadded up bills and some change. He pokes through it.

                                I've got over twelve bucks here, buddy. What'dya
                                say I buy you breakfast?

                                Then we'll have to scrounge for lunch. What'dya
                                say we just have a cup of coffee now, and save the
                                rest for later?

                                You're a smart guy, Luke. I like the way you think.

                                Well, thanks, Joe. You're all right yourself.


Joe and Luke step up to the counter of a donut shop. Joe holds up two fingers.

                                Two large coffees, please.

                                Make that smalls, OK?
                                                           (Joe looks confused;
                                                           Luke explains)
                                They give free refills, Joe. Why pay for a large?

                                Good thinking.

                                You see, that's what's wrong with the government
                                in a nutshell. I mean, I think it's great that we have
                                the best military hardware in the world -- which they
                                then always name after us Indians: Tomahawks and
                                Apaches and stuff -- but why do we need so many of
                                everything? Particularly when the bugs haven't been
                                worked out. Did you read about this stealth bomber
                                that won't fly?


                                It's not enough to have one that won't fly, we need
                                twenty that won't fly. Republicans talk about cutting
                                government, but the military is the worst-run part of
                                the government. It's stupid, Joe. Even a guy like me
                                could do better.

                                No doubt.

Two big, burly, uniformed, STATE COPS step up behind Luke and Joe. Luke and Joe both spot them at the same moment, and both intentionally do not turn around. They get their coffees and exit the shop. The cops never say a word to them.

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