AMERICAN PIES, HAPPY LIVES, BLUE SKIES AND OTHER LIES
ACT I, SCENE I
SCENE: The interior of a lovely American home in a fashionable section
of Cambridge, MA is visible on a dimly illuminated stage. Four rooms
are at least partially visible--a master bedroom and nursery upstairs;
downstairs there is a dining room and an adjacent den/family room.
In the dining room the table is set elegantly for three with fine
crystal and china, and in the den a gun case is visible along with a
bar and an abundance of green plants. The flavor of the furnishings
in the house is distinguished by an air of patriotism. In the dim
light, VOICES can be heard coming from the bedroom.
SAM (impatiently) What's wrong?
ANGEL (irritated) Nothing! Nothing's wrong!
(Bed sounds, silence, then:)
SAM You're not concentrating.
ANGEL I shouldn't have to concentrate; it's supposed to be
SAM Then be natural.
ANGEL I can't.
SAM Why not?
ANGEL I'm concentrating.
(SAM switches on a bedside lamp, and the lights come up.
He is in bed with ANGEL, his wife. Both are about thirty. He
is plump; she, thin, a very attractive blue eyed blond, cut
from the Miss America mold.)
SAM What the hell?
ANGEL I'm sorry, Sam, but I just can't do it like this. I have to
SAM (grabbing her hand) Feel this.
ANGEL (jerking away) Stop it!
(She gets up, slips on a robe, and goes to her dressing table.)
SAM Come here, baby. Come to uncle Sam.
ANGEL No! This is insane; there isn't time; I'm nervous. And I
don't understand why you came home demanding sex.
SAM There's plenty of time.
ANGEL (checks time) No, there isn't. He'll be early. I remember
that; he always came early.
SAM That's too bad.
ANGEL He always arrived early.
SAM Oh, well, he won't be early tonight. (A beat.) Nine years
is a long time. You don't even know what he's like now. He
could have changed. Come here.
SAM Angel. Baby.
ANGEL Why? Why?
SAM I want you.
ANGEL Why now? (Silence.) I know why . . . you want him to catch
us, don't you? That's it, isn't it, Sam?
SAM What are you talking about?
ANGEL Oh, I see it clearly now. You want to answer the door while
you're pulling up your pants so he'll know. You want to rub
SAM He does know. We're married.
ANGEL But you have to rub it in. Don't you?
SAM You're crazy!
ANGEL Why do you hate him so much?
SAM Hate him?
(SAM rises and puts on a robe.)
SAM Hate him! We grew up together, went through hell together.
See these? (Displays scars on back of legs and buttocks.) I
owe him my life!
ANGEL (snaps) So do I.
SAM What is that supposed to mean?
ANGEL Just that if it weren't for Tom Charles, I wouldn't be where
I am today.
SAM And just where is that?
ANGEL Under the limitless blue skies of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
SAM You go to hell!
ANGEL I already have!
SAM God, I see you're going to be your own sweet self tonight.
ANGEL I'll try.
SAM I don't give a damn how you treat me, but the least you can
do is to treat Tom like a guest.
ANGEL Because he's such a dear friend?
SAM Yes! Because he's a friend, an old and dear friend.
ANGEL Then why didn't you see him before now? Why did you wait
all these year to get together with your old and dear
SAM You know why. Because--because I didn't know how he'd react
ANGEL Marrying me? Marrying his girl, his lover?
SAM You weren't his girl when I married you, Angel. You weren't
anybody's girl, or is that what you were-anybody's girl?
ANGEL (hurt, reflectively) No, I guess I wasn't Tom's girl. If he
had wanted me, he would have come home.
SAM You just keep that in mind tonight. Okay?
(ANGEL just stares at him.)
SAM Anyway, I lost contact with him when I got back. I didn't
even know where to begin looking for him.
ANGEL Or you didn't want to find him.
SAM Because of you?
ANGEL No, because of you. Or him.
SAM Don't be ridiculous. TOM was my best friend, the best
friend I ever had.
ANGEL Was? Had?
SAM Is! Okay? Have.
ANGEL Okay. (A beat.) He certainly has you upset; I'll say that
SAM Me? What about you? When you can't even screw there's
definitely something wrong. And I'm not upset--just anxious.
ANGEL To see your dear friend, Tom?
SAM Yeah, yeah! To see my friend, Tom. Okay? (ANGEL just
smiles.) Angel, you don't know what war does to men-being
that close to dying, to have your friends dying all around
you. It--it means something; it . . . I can't explain it.
It's something you have to experience, something you have to
ANGEL Sam, please, spare me the macho Hemingway bullshit. Before-
before Tom stopped writing he told me what the war was like
for both of you. Until the TET offensive you'd had a pretty
easy time of it.
SAM That's a lie! We were into all kinds of bad shit from day
one. He--he just didn't want you to worry.
ANGEL (bitterly) Ha! Didn't want me to worry. He didn't give a
damn whether I worried or not.
SAM What else did he tell you . . . before he stopped writing?
ANGEL (hard, then nearly breaking) Oh, he wrote often of his love
and adoration for me. Of plans for our future, of how we would
love each other, grow old and finally die together because
neither of us would want to go on living without the other.
(A beat.) He had a way with words.
SAM Things changed.
ANGEL Dammit, I know that! And I want to know what changed them.
I want to know what happened over there!
SAM A war happened, a great big beautiful war. The men that
left here weren't the same ones that came back. Some men it
made better, some--
ANGEL It made you better?
SAM It made a man out of me, made me grow up.
ANGEL And what did it do to Tom Charles? He was already a man.
What did that "great big beautiful war" of yours do to the
men that didn't need to grow up?
SAM I don't know. Ask Tom.
ANGEL I intend to.
SAM Well, let me tell you something first, for your own good.
ANGEL Something about Tom?
SAM And you. (A beat.) If he loved you, he sure as hell didn't
show it, not over there anyway?
SAM TOM had more whores than supply chits.
ANGEL I don't believe that . . . besides, why should I care? We
weren't married. I didn't expect him to abstain from sex
for a year. (A beat.) I didn't. Did I?
SAM (smiling) You sure didn't.
ANGEL Oh no, while your best friend, no--no, your--your war buddy
was still in Nha Trang, you were shacked up with his best
girl in Boston.
SAM It was just one of those things.
ANGEL Just one of those wonderful things--you got me pregnant!
SAM And an abortion. Don't forget the good part.
ANGEL After we were married!
SAM I didn't want you to be stuck with a kid and a husband you
ANGEL But you didn't mind getting stuck with a woman you didn't
love, but also one that you still refuse to give up. (A beat.)
Why did you marry me, Sam? (Silence.) To hurt Tom? Why?
SAM Darling, I married you for love.
ANGEL You don't know what love is. You didn't then; you don't
SAM What about you, Angel? You didn't have to marry me.
ANGEL But I did have to. I was pregnant. That was almost nine
years ago; things were different then, and I was a
respectable, if slightly tarnished, young woman from a good
family. I had to that's all. (A beat.) You don't think I
married you for love?
SAM Why did you then? Or do you even know?
ANGEL I know. I know all right.
SAM My charm, huh? Or was it my body? Just couldn't get
enough of it, could you? (A beat.) At least there's
the money now-this house, the club, that BMW you drive,
nice clothes. You could have done a lot worse.
ANGEL You could have too.
SAM Jesus! Why don't we quit this? Nothing changes.
ANGEL Only because you won't let it.
SAM And because you don't want things to get better.
ANGEL Better! Better than what? Sam, I can't love a man
that doesn't love me and never has.
SAM Does the tennis pro at the club love you? I know all
about that, you know. Been working overtime on your
backhand, Angel darling?
ANGEL And I know all about your . . . lady friends.
SAM You don't know jack shit!
ANGEL I know what I am to you--a receptacle, nothing more.
SAM And you love it.
ANGEL Like hell I do. I want . . . to be needed, cared for.
There's nothing here but sex. No need, no commitment--
SAM No, "love, sweet love."
ANGEL Bastard! (A beat.) I have a surprise for you, Sam.
SAM Great! I love surprises.
ANGEL You won't love this one.
ANGEL (sweetly) No. I'm pregnant, again. Surprise.
ANGEL I'm pregnant, knocked up, heavy with child. I'm going
to have a little baby, a child.
SAM How the hell could--
ANGEL It's not yours.
SAM Bitch! Slut! You'd better be lying. (SAM slaps her.)
If you're not--
ANGEL Not what? Pregnant? Or lying?
SAM Whose is it?
ANGEL I don't know. Could be almost anyone's.
(He slaps her again.)
SAM Liar! Whose?
SAM Liar! Bitch! Slut! Tell me the truth.
(SAM slaps her again and again. ANGEL is laughing and crying
SAM Damn you! Bitch! Whore!
ANGEL You talk so nice.
SAM Shut up! (He thinks while her laughter/crying dies
away.) Angel--Angel! Are you pregnant? Dammit, don't
you lie to me; I'm warning you. Don't you lie to me.
ANGEL (smiles) No.
SAM Fucking liar! By god, I'm telling you. This kid had
better have blue eyes and my blood type.
ANGEL What about skin? Almond? Chocolate brown? Yellow?
SAM You're such a sweet bitch. No wonder I love you so.
ANGEL Don't flatter me so, Sam. It just makes me all weak and
SAM I love you so.
ANGEL You're so good to me, always hitting me with your open
hand. In all these years of marriage you've never left a
mark. I really appreciate that.
SAM I do what I can. We're such a great team. (Checks
time.) Almost seven. Shall we get ready to greet our guest?
ANGEL Your guest, darling. He's your friend.
SAM But he's an old friend of yours too, a close friend.
ANGEL But not a war buddy; that makes a difference.
SAM You bet it does. It's like--
ANGEL Don't try to explain. I wouldn't understand. You have
to live through that sort of thing. (A beat.) What are
you going to wear, Sam? (Pause.) I know.
Your uniform! Why don't you wear your uniform just for
old times sake?
SAM I don't think that's necessary.
ANGEL Yes, yes of course. Your uniform! Full dress with
medals, Purple Heart, Cross of Gallantry, everything. That
would be splendid.
SAM No, Angel.
ANGEL Are you ashamed, Sam? Sorry you defended American democracy
from the yellow peril?
SAM No! I'm not ashamed.
ANGEL Wear it then. You look so--heroic; and I just melt when
I see a man in uniform. You want to wear it; I know you do.
You had the coat on just yesterday, studying yourself in front
of the mirror. I saw you. Chest out, head up, chin down--is
that the way it goes? I'll put on some marching tunes, and
you and Tom can march around, call cadence, just have a grand
ole time. And I'll even act like the whore that I am for you
two soldier boys.
SAM That's enough! I'll wear the uniform if it will make
you shut up, but nothing else. No music, no marching.
And you just be yourself--that's whore enough for both
ANGEL I'll be with the two men who would know best.
(Silently they begin dressing. He drags a Marine dress uniform
from the closet; ANGEL removes an ao-dai from her dresser. She
places it on the bed as SAM almost unconsciously begins humming
the Marine Corps Hymn. After a moment he turns and sees the ao-dai.)
SAM What the hell is that?
ANGEL An ao-dai; it's what the women in Vietnam wear.
SAM I know that!
ANGEL Then why did you ask me what it was?
SAM Where did it come from?
ANGEL (checking label) Saigon. A shop called--
SAM Shit! Where did you get it?
ANGEL From Tom. He sent it to me years ago. (She holds it up
to her body.) You like soldier?
SAM You're not wearing it! I won't have you looking like
some gook whore. Not in my house.
ANGEL Don't tell me what clothes to wear. If you can play
soldier then I can play my game too.
SAM Jesus! Why tonight? Why did you have to drag it out
ANGEL For Tom. I want to wear it for Tom, if he was so fond
of Vietnamese women. And I want to wear it because--
because tonight is going to be a very special night. I
can feel it.
SAM Special? How?
ANGEL Tonight is going to be special because I'm going to find
out what happened over there. I'm going to find out why
TOM didn't come home, and why I married you instead of him.
SAM TOM didn't come back because he didn't want to, because
he didn't want you.
ANGEL I don't believe that.
SAM He's not here is he? Hasn't been here for nine years,
has he? (Silence.) Angel?
ANGEL No. No! He's not!. (A beat.) And I want to know why.
SAM You just keep your mouth shut. What happened over there
happened to us; it happened to the guys who fought the war.
ANGEL No. It happened to me too; it happened to all of us.
How can you say it didn't happen to us? We . . . what
is it, Sam? Does this talk of the war frighten you?
SAM No, it doesn't frighten me. It's just that--that some
things are best not remembered. If Tom wants to talk,
I'll let him, but don't push him. It would be hard on
him because--because he was--different from the rest of
us. He didn't like--to talk about it.
ANGEL Oh, I've never pushed Tom. If I had maybe he'd married
me before he left, and--
SAM Well, aren't you the lucky one?
ANGEL Oh, I get down on my knees and thank God every night.
SAM Is that what you're doing down there?
ANGEL You go to hell!
SAM Show me the way, Angel. You seem to think you know it.
ANGEL You know why I detest you so much?
SAM Can't be my charm.
ANGEL Because you make me hate myself. You've made me such a bitch.
SAM I have a knack for bringing out the best in people.
ANGEL How about, Tom? Did you bring out the best in Tom?
SAM (reflects, then) Oh, yes. I brought out the best in Tom,
the very best. I made us both heroes--Tom terrific and Sam--
ANGEL The sham!
SAM Very funny, Angel.
ANGEL So, Tom's a hero too? You never told me that.
SAM I don't like to talk about it.
ANGEL What? The war!
SAM Yeah! The war! I don't like to talk about it.
ANGEL But that's practically all you ever talk about. Your
glory days as a Cong killer. You've never mentioned Tom
though, except in a derogatory sense.
SAM That's a lie! TOM . . .
ANGEL TOM . . . what?
SAM TOM was a good soldier; he just didn't--fit all the
time. I already told you he was different.
ANGEL I know he was different. But you fit just fine, an
SAM I did my job.
ANGEL Which was what?
SAM To do what I was told, to keep my mouth shut. To serve
my country. I'm not ashamed; I can hold my head up.
ANGEL To whom?
SAM God, you are a bitch. You can't see the good side of
ANGEL Good side! My God, Sam, you know how many kids on both
sides died in that war? And for what?
(The bell rings below.)
SAM There he is.
ANGEL You get it. I'll be down in a while.
SAM Don't be long. I know he'll be anxious to see you.
ANGEL Oh, yes, I know he's very anxious to see me--after all
SAM You just keep that in mind, okay? Nine years. Nine
ANGEL I can count, Sam. Just get the door.
SAM Don't be long.
ANGEL I'll just give you boys a chance to reminisce about all
those things a wife and former lover wouldn't want to
hear about. You know--man talk. I mean, Jesus, how
many super bowls did you boys miss seeing together?
(Bell rings again, longer.)
SAM I'll get the door now.
ANGEL Do that, Sam. I'll be down indirectly.
(SAM goes below while ANGEL continues dressing. She
sits down at a dressing table with her back to the
audience and begins applying her make-up. Downstairs, SAM
goes to the bar, pours some scotch, gulps it down, and
starts for the door. The bell rings again. SAM
hesitates at then door, then finally opens it.)
SAM Tom! TOM Charles! Goddammit man! Come in; come in
(TOM CHARLES, a thin sullen but attractive man of about
30 enters. Somehow he looks used, almost broken.)
SAM Son of a bitch, it's good to see you! Come on in. Get
in here. Let me look at you for chrissake!
TOM (woodenly) Hello, Sam.
SAM Goddamn. Gooooodamn! You look. . . great, a little on
the thin side maybe, but great. Let me get you a drink.
Son of a bitch! Nine years. Nine fucking years!
Haven't changed a bit.
TOM I've changed.
SAM So, how has life been treating you?
SAM (at stairs) Honey. Honey! Come on down. He's here. Tom's
here! (SAM goes to bar.) Scotch, Tom? Still drinking scotch?
TOM Never did. Rum. You drink scotch. You and Hal, at
least Hal used too.
SAM Right, rum. You used to say, "Right as rum, right?"
How could I forget?
TOM Just slipped your mind, I guess.
SAM Yeah, well . . . one rum-coco coming up. (A beat.) Hal
drank scotch, yeah. How the hell is ole Hal?
TOM He's dead; ole Hal is dead as a boot.
SAM No shit?
TOM No. Dead!
TOM Mortar frag took his face off a month after you got out.
SAM Goddammit, that's rough. Lousy fucking war.
TOM I thought you liked it, Sam?
SAM No, no, I didn't like it. I mean it was a war, the only
one we had. You--you had to make the best of it. But shit
. . . mortar frag, that's rough.
TOM He may be better off than a lot of us.
SAM His family all right? Didn't he have a wife, a couple
TOM They got their check. . . and a flag. The government
game them the flag that the box was wrapped in--no charge.
SAM Well, that's something. Ten grand, nothing to bitch
TOM And they can use that flag for a bedspread, a beach
towel, all kinds of things.
SAM Look, Tom, I'm serious.
TOM So am I.
SAM The gooks didn't give their people anything.
TOM Gave'em hell. The same thing that we gave'em.
SAM Still bitter, aren't you?
TOM Me? Bitter?
SAM Shit, Tom, let's not get off on that track. There's
been too much of that already. Let's remember the good
(SAM hands TOM a drink then pours himself another tumbler of scotch.)
SAM To the good times.
TOM Jesus! There were so many of them I hardly know which
one to toast. To--all of them, all the good times.
SAM (uncomfortably) Yeah . . . cheers.
TOM You look . . . fit enough, Sam.
SAM Yeah, I'm fine, great.
TOM Uniform's a little tight though.
SAM (pats his stomach) A hazard of the good life, I guess,
but I can still squeeze into it. Once a Marine--
TOM Always a Marine.
SAM Took the words right out of my mouth.
SAM Damn! Nine years. Seems like a hundred.
TOM Two hundred.
SAM Yeah, yeah, two hundred. Time flies--
TOM Like a speeding bullet.
SAM (nervously) Yeah, shit . . . too bad about Hal.
TOM Especially for him.
SAM Yeah . . . shit I can't believe you're really here, Tom.
TOM I can't either.
SAM In the flesh. (A beat.) Jesus, Nam! We had some times,
TOM Did we?
(SAM gulps his drink and pours another.)
SAM Goddammit, Tom, I'm trying to be civil. You called,
told me you were in town. I--I invited you into my
house, as an old friend, a war buddy. I wanted you to
see Angel. Now what the hell?
TOM You're right. I'm sorry, Sam; I'm being a shit--nerves,
I guess. Things have been a little rough. You
SAM Yeah, yeah, it's all right. Sorry I flared up; I'm a
little on edge myself. (Goes to stairs.) Angel. Angel!
Hurry up. (To TOM.) Women.
TOM Yeah . . . women.
SAM So, how are things?
TOM Which things?
SAM You know, just--things, things in general.
TOM We lost the war.
SAM (confused) What?
TOM The war. The one we fought in . . . we lost.
SAM Yeah, yeah . . . I know. Jesus!
(TOM surveys the surroundings.)
TOM Nice place, Sam.
SAM (shrugs) Thanks. It works for us. And at two hundred grand,
believe me, it was a steal.
TOM I bet. (A beat.) You're doing all right then?
SAM Hey, I'm doing a whole lot better than all right. I
make a killing in the market every day--buy and sell,
buy and sell, I get paid a commission for both
regardless of what a stock does. (A beat.) It's
amazing what you can do with a few brains in this
TOM And amazing what a few brains in this country can do.
SAM Isn't that what I just said?
TOM Was it?
SAM (lost) I thought so. Jesus . . .
TOM You're a broker, huh?
SAM Yeah, right, a broker. Just started my own firm--
business thriving, bull market, money pouring in from
all over. Let me tell you something.
TOM A hot tip? Inside info?
SAM No. Just a fundamental principle of our economic system.
SAM If you've got it, it ain't hard to make it. Cheers!
TOM That's what they say, all right.
SAM It's true. Absolutely.
TOM Happy huh?
SAM Happy? That's not the word for it.
TOM I didn't think so.
SAM I've got it all: beautiful wife--
TOM I know.
SAM Lovely home, position, respect--
TOM All the ingredients of an American pie.
SAM Yeah, right--what?!
TOM An American pie.
SAM I don't get it.
(TOM stares at him for a moment.)
TOM Of course you don't. It's got you--and me and damn near
everybody else. That's the thing about an American pie.
SAM Jesus, Tom! What the shit? What the hell's an
TOM Don't you know, Sam? Some honor, or what we mistake
as honor; some noble intentions, a sprinkling of twisted
logic, a dash of fear, two cups of greed, power--lots
of power, and a plausible excuse. Put it all together.
Cover it with some palatable lies, simmer for two hundred
years, and you come up with a Vietnam, or a Korea, or a
Wounded Knee, or some other goddamn thing.
(SAM just stares at him; he still doesn't get it.)
TOM Dig it, Sam! That's what got me: swallowed too
much pie, and I just got a small piece. But you. You're
still trying to swallow the whole damn thing, but you
can't. When you do that you become part of the whole.
SAM Tom! What the hell are you talking about? American Pie?
TOM You. Me. Angel. This country. Can't you see that?
SAM I can see that your mind is still somewhere out there in
left field. What have you been reading anyway?
TOM (sighs heavily) The Betty Crocker Cookbook.
SAM I thought so. That American pie business sure sounds
like a crock to me. (A beat.) Another drink?
TOM I'm fine. You go ahead though. (He does.) How's Angel?
SAM Angel? Good. Fine. You know Angel.
TOM Yeah, I know her.
SAM I didn't mean that.
TOM Didn't mean what?
SAM That--that you knew her. I mean, I know that you knew
her before . . . shit, forget it.
TOM It's a hard thing to forget, Sam.
SAM I didn't mean that!
TOM I didn't either.
SAM No, I . . . anyway, Angel is fine, just fine. She's not
hard to please.
TOM I know that too. (A beat.) You married well, Sam.
SAM My charm, I guess.
SAM Shit it's good to see you, Tom. I really mean that.
TOM I've been looking forward to it for a long time. Seeing
both you and Angel, re-establishing ties, making contact.
(A beat.) I guess I owe her some kind of an explanation.
Did you ever . . .
SAM No, no! I never said anything--about that. I--I--
didn't think it was my place to tell her. Of course she
wondered what happened; she would naturally be curious,
but . . . I just never said.
TOM I appreciate that, Sam; I really do. It's the least you
couldn't have done.
SAM Goddammit, Tom! You keep playing these word games. I
never know when you're serious. "The least I couldn't
have done." What the fuck does that mean?
TOM It simply means that you couldn't have done more--and
TOM It's the scotch, Sam. You do drink scotch. It has your
mind all muddled. It's perfectly clear to me.
SAM Don't try to explain.
TOM I couldn't if I wanted to, which I don't. (Silence.)
Did you hear about Captain Able?
SAM No, no I didn't. What about him?
TOM He made Major.
SAM Oh. (A beat.) That's it? That's all?
TOM No, that's not all. It was a field promotion. He attacked
an NVA tank with a handful of grenades and his .45.
SAM Jesus! And he made Major posthumously. That's not
TOM Not funny? It's hilarious--he took the tank, dropped a
grenade down the hatch, just like John Wayne. Finished
off the crew with his .45.
SAM No shit?
TOM True story. Got a Silver Star for his trouble. Would
have won a Medal of Honor if he'd had taken even the
SAM Some fucking guy--took a tank with a .45! No shit! You
TOM Why, I wouldn't go near him. But I understand he's an
instructor at the Academy--undoubtedly teaching Middies
how to take tanks with .45s.
SAM Even you've got to admit that took some guts. Jesus!
TOM Sure as hell wasn't brains.
(SAM goes to stairs.)
SAM Angel. Angel! Goddammit, get down here!
ANGEL Coming dear. Is Tom here?
SAM Hell yes! I told you he was.
SAM Is! TOM is here, right here, right now, in the flesh.
Now hurry up.
ANGEL Don't you mean down?
SAM Okay, down. (To TOM.) Great sense of humor, that girl.
(As a final touch ANGEL takes out a black wig and
places it carefully on her head. Then she turns away
from the mirror. She has made herself up to look like
an Oriental, and in the wig and ao-dai she bears a
striking resemblance to a Vietnamese beauty.)
SAM Wait 'til you see her, Tom; she's as beautiful as ever.
Hasn't changed a bit. (Looks up the stairs and sees
her.) Jesus Christ! (Bolts up a few steps and grabs
her.) What the hell are you doing?
ANGEL Let me go!
SAM Not like that.
ANGEL Don't cause a scene, Sam. You know how you hate scenes.
And you don't want to make our friend Tom uncomfortable.
(She continues on down.)
ANGEL (ignoring SAM) Hello, Tom.
(He turns see her and just stares.)
SAM I--I guess she has--changed a little.
ANGEL Long time.
TOM Yeah, long time. I . . . (He shrugs and looks away.)
ANGEL You're what? Sorry?
TOM Yes, I'm sorry. At the very least, I'm very sorry. I
should have called--
ANGEL Or written, or wired, or sent a runner, or a message by
drums. You could have done something!
TOM Angel, you don't . . . understand.
ANGEL I--"don't understand." Of course you're right; I don't.
I don't even fully comprehend what it is that I don't
understand. How absolutely silly of me. Must be my sex;
you know how daffy and gullible women are.
SAM Angel! You're not being very nice to Tom.
(She composes herself for a moment.)
ANGEL I'm sorry, Tom. I'm just--nervous. (Silence.) You
look . . . reasonably well.
TOM I am, I suppose--reasonably. (A beat.) The ao-dai
ANGEL A gift from an old friend.
TOM I know. The wig doesn't do much for you though.
SAM Angel! Easy now.
ANGEL This is the first time I've worn the ao-dai.
TOM It's very attractive. Really.
SAM Angel can wear anything with her figure.
ANGEL What Sam means is that he likes to put me on his leash
and take me out in public. Would you take me out like
SAM Sure, on Halloween.
ANGEL How about you, Tom?
SAM He's trying to be civil. Give him a chance.
ANGEL (snaps) He had his chance! (Silence.) Well, isn't
this a delightful little reunion? A trio; I mean that in
the carnal sense. A carnal trio. Sounds like a porno
novel. You could write it, Tom. You do still write?
TOM I still write.
ANGEL Oh, no, you don't. I forgot. You quit writing, at
least to me. Where I was concerned, you never wrote
TOM Angel . . .
ANGEL (hard) What? Angel what?
TOM Let's--keep it friendly. All right?
ANGEL Friendly. Of course, we are old friends after all.
I nearly forgot. You'll have to forgive me. I'm sorry
for the lapse of memory, but it's just been so long.
TOM You don't have to be sorry.
ANGEL But I do. I do have to be sorry. That's what I do
best is apologize. I'm sorry for this, sorry for that.
I have so much to be sorry for. Mostly I'm sorry for
myself, but that's another story completely, one you
probably wouldn't want to hear.
TOM Another time maybe.
ANGEL Maybe. Say in another nine years. Or are you planning
on dropping in on my life again before then?
TOM I couldn't say.
ANGEL You, "couldn't say."
TOM (snaps) That's what I said!
SAM Why don't you two knock it off?
ANGEL (ignores SAM) I know what you said. You said you, "couldn't
say," but what I want to know is what it is that you can't say.
TOM There are a number of things I can't say.
SAM Well, shit, I think I'll mosey over here to the bar and
fix myself another drink. You folks interested? (A beat.)
ANGEL How about this one, Tom? "I can't," no, no, "I don't
want to live without you." Can you say that anymore?
TOM (looks away) I don't have anyone to say it to.
ANGEL Or, "I'll never let you go." Remember that?
TOM That was a long time ago.
ANGEL (pressing) Do you remember?
TOM Yes, I remember.
ANGEL Do you say that anymore?
TOM Angel, there's something that you don't know.
ANGEL (bitterly) Oh, there's plenty that I don't know! (A beat.)
Dammit! There I go again being a bitch. Forgive me, Tom.
You're our guest, having come all the way from . . . from
where to see us.
SAM Shit, Tom! I didn't know you were a New Yorker.
TOM I'm not.
SAM Oh. . .
ANGEL So, how are things in, or is it, on, Manhattan?
TOM I wouldn't know.
ANGEL Know what? Whether it's on or in? Or know how things
are in, or, on Manhattan?
TOM Neither. Or both.
ANGEL You clever boy. Isn't Tom clever, Sam?
SAM He always did have a way with words.
ANGEL I was just saying that very thing earlier--that Tom
always did have a way with words.
SAM Right, Tom. She said it all right. I was right there
in the room with her, upstairs, our bedroom.
TOM What do you want, Angel?
ANGEL Me? Why, I want . . . only to be the perfect hostess,
of course. To please the man in my life, and the man
not in it.
ANGEL (to TOM) What do you want?
TOM I want somehow for you . . . to understand.
ANGEL Dammit! For nine years I've been trying to understand.
But how could I understand without hearing anything from
TOM I should have come sooner; I thought that maybe Sam had
ANGEL Sam did! Sam said plenty.
SAM Wait a minute, Angel.
ANGEL But Sam has a way of dealing with the truth.
SAM (covering) I--I told her the truth--that--that you
went a little crazy towards the end. All that talk about
us being the enemy, the gooks the good guys. You were all
screwed up; that talk about getting out, joining up with
the hippies when you got home. Then you wouldn't even
associate with your own Company, starting hanging out
with the gooks all the time. You went Oriental, Tom. It
happens, Angel. A guy gets mixed up with some chick,
thinks he's in love, marries her. She either won't leave
or can't so he stays on--buys a bar, puts on a pair of
thongs, eats nothing but rice and fish, maybe a little
tofu and never comes back. Happens all the time--Hong Kong,
Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines.
TOM But that's not what happened to me, Sam. You know that.
Maybe I did go Oriental to some degree, but that's not
what happened. Don't you remember?
SAM No, no. I thought that was it. No shit.
ANGEL Did you have a girl, Tom? A little Oriental flower?
TOM I had a friend.
ANGEL A friend? Sounds cozy.
TOM It wasn't like that.
ANGEL No? What was it like? Tell me about her. Was she
young? Or an older, but not necessarily wiser, woman?
Long black hair like this? Small? Dark eyes I bet.
Slight smile. Delicate features. Did you buy her
drinks? Saigon tea?
TOM She wasn't a whore.
ANGEL None of them are. Hey, soldier boy, buy me drink?
TOM (digs it) You go upstairs? You give number one blow job?
ANGEL (rushes at him) Bastard!
(SAM grabs her and tries to laugh the whole thing off.)
SAM Hey, hold on there tiger. Told you about her sense of
humor, Tom. And--and he took right to you, Honey. But
let's stop the game now or play something else. Freshen
our drinks, Angel. (He practically drags her to the
bar.) I'm drinking scotch, Tom, rum-coco.
(ANGEL is all torn up inside now, breaking and trying to
keep from breaking. She starts working on the drinks,
and pours one for herself, a healthy shot of gin.)
ANGEL I'm sorry, Tom.
TOM So am I.
ANGEL For what?
TOM Everything. Nothing. (Gestures to room.) This.
ANGEL No you're not.
(ANGEL gives TOM his drink then goes back to the bar where
she climbs on a bar stool and crosses her legs provocatively.)
ANGEL Is this the way they do it?
(TOM refuses to answer.)
SAM Well, this is a little more like it. Old friends getting
together for a civil drink. Talking about old times.
ANGEL (woodenly) Cheers.
SAM Right. Right! Cheers! To Tom--and--and Angel. All
ANGEL All the happy people.
ANGEL So, how have things been, Tom?
SAM You have to specify which things you want to know about,
Angel. I've already been down this road with Tom.
ANGEL So, how's your love life, Tom?
SAM (under his breath) Jesus Christ!
TOM Never married.
ANGEL Living with someone? Cohabitating?
TOM A cat; I have a cat.
ANGEL You have a little pussy around then?
SAM Goddammit, Angel!
ANGEL You stay out of this!
SAM He's our guest.
TOM It's all right, Sam. I don't blame her.
ANGEL (suddenly moved) Tom, you look terrible. What's wrong?
TOM What's right?
ANGEL "What's right?" (Reflects, then:) Right is what you do
with God's blessing, or your government's.
TOM No, that's wrong.
ANGEL Is than an opinion or a definition?
ANGEL I see.
SAM I don't! (A beat.) Jesus! Hey, look, Tom, what have
you been doing since the war? Where the hell you been?
TOM (dramatically) What-- have I been doing since the war?
SAM Yeah, that's what I asked.
TOM Since the war, I have been--drifting--writing--and,
somewhere along the line that I drifted along, I
acquired a cat.
SAM Writing, huh?
ANGEL And drifting and acquiring cats.
TOM One cat, a Siamese.
ANGEL Pardon me. One cat.
SAM What are you writing about, Tom?
TOM People, places and things.
SAM Good subject matter.
SAM What--kinds of people?
TOM Good ones, some that aren't so good. Heroes--cowards.
ANGEL A book, Tom? Articles? Stories? A novel, what?
TOM The great American novel, of course.
ANGEL Has it got a title?
TOM I call it War Games.
SAM Never heard of it.
TOM It hasn't been published.
SAM Oh, well--I'll be looking for it.
TOM I bet you will.
SAM Did you put that chaplain in it? That crazy bastard--
what was his name? You remember, Tom.
SAM Yeah, yeah, Goodman, crazy bastard! Did you put him in
TOM No, I put a chaplain in it, of course, but not Goodman.
None of my characters, you see, are based on real
people, either living or dead.
ANGEL Of course not.
SAM Should have seen this guy, Angel. A chaplain, a man of
God, you know, the clergy?
ANGEL A preacher in uniform. I think I have it figured out.
SAM Always packed a sidearm, and knew what to do with it.
Said he'd blow Charlie to hell if he couldn't get there
on his own. Used to say the damndest things. (A beat.)
Hey, and you could do him, Tom!
TOM Hal did him. I couldn't do him.
(SAM shows some disappointment.)
SAM No, it was you. I remember. Hal did Westmoreland; you
did Goodman. Do him now; do Chaplain Goodman for Angel.
She'd get a kick out of that.
TOM I don't do Marines anymore.
SAM He was Navy. Come on, Tom. Do him for Angel.
ANGEL You could always act, Tom. Give me another free show.
SAM Yeah, do the funny stuff. God he was funny. Said he
had a laugh for every bullet in Nam. Come on, Tom.
TOM All right, all right. I'll do one thing, but for you,
Sam, not Angel. Just for you; Angel wouldn't understand.
SAM Okay, fine, but Angel can watch.
TOM Sure. Angel can watch.
(Tom goes to the dinner table, takes a white napkin
and stuffs it around his collar. Then he takes up a
position somewhere behind the bar, using it as a podium.)
TOM You have to remember that my podium is constructed from
empty ammo crates, my candle holders from expended
recoiless rifle shells, and that my government issue
religious icon is dual purpose, reversible--having the
Protestant cross on one side, a crucifix on the other.
SAM And that--that he's packing a .45 on his hip.
TOM That too. (Brief pause for TOM to get into character.)
Now, if we might close this service with a prayer, but
let me ask you not to bow your heads, but to hold them
up high like the proud soldiers that you are--
SAM That's it. Yeah--yeah, he used to say that.
TOM (clears his throat) -- like the proud soldiers that you are
for you have no reason whatsoever to hang your heads. Hold
them up high so that you might see God, and so that God might
see the shining faces of his young servants. Let us pray:
Our most gracious and loving Heavenly Father, today we come
to thee humbly, asking only that we might serve Thee
while in the service of our Christian brothers in this
pitiless and war torn land. We pray that Thou wouldst--
SAM "Wouldst." He was always saying shit like that. "Wouldst,
Thou, Thine, Jesus! Go on, Tom, I mean, Reverend.
TOM We pray that Thou wouldst give us the strength and
courage so that we might dispatch--
SAM "Dispatch!" We didn't even know what he was talking
about - whether the VC were in dispatch or datpatch;
remember that guy, Tom? From Mobile? Black dude! (TOM
just stares at him.) Oh, sorry--Reverend. Go on.
TOM --give us the strength and courage so that we might
dispatch Thine enemies. We pray most humbly that we
might make widows of Thine enemy's women, orphans of his
children. We pray that they might feel the sting of
SAM (disturbed) Wait, Tom.
TOM --the sharp edge of Thy sword. May the beast of fear
enter their cold hearts, the pain of hunger touch their empty
bellies. We pray that they may be left homeless and
destitute, that they will be no stranger to suffering,
not unacquainted with death. And may the souls of Thine
enemies burn in everlasting hell, and may Thine Almighty
hand crush his will to resist the love we offer. We beg
also Dear Lord that Thine blanket of everlasting love and
mercy cover Thine servants as they go forth to do Thine
will. Protect them from the spears of the heathen, from
the barbs of unChristian souls. And finally Dear Lord,
in the loving name of our savior, Jesus Christ, our Lord,
we beseech Thee that Thy will be done. Amen.
SAM (confused) No, no. He--he never said that shit.
That--that was all wrong. Goodman was funny! What he told us
was funny. He made us all laugh, made a joke out of everything.
TOM (removing "collar") Don't you see, Sam? That was just the
flip side of what he said, the unspecified, the consequences
of having his prayers answered.
SAM No, that's not right; he was funny. He didn't mean
any harm. I mean--they were gooks he was talking about.
They--they weren't like us. Remember a--a "gook a day to
pave the Lord's way?"
TOM That's right! They were fond of dying, didn't care about
life. And they were yellow and had those funny looking
SAM Yeah, yeah. And they ate such shit. And the whole
country smelled. Dammit, Tom! You turn everything
TOM I don't turn things around, Sam. You do--you and Goodman
and all the rest.
SAM No, that's not true. I . . .
ANGEL Tom . . . Tom? What happened over there?
SAM (anxiously) What about dinner? About ready, Honey?
(He doesn't answer. Irritated with him, ANGEL starts to leave.)
ANGEL I'll check on dinner.
(She exits to kitchen off dining room.)
SAM I'm sorry about her, Tom. I don't know what she's trying
to do--that getup. I didn't even know she had it.
TOM I sent her the ao-dai from Saigon.
SAM Yeah, that's what she said.
TOM I sent it before you married her.
SAM Oh, yeah, yeah, I understand that. I didn't mean
anything. It's . . . okay. Another drink?
TOM I'm fine.
SAM Don't mind if I have another? For the nerves. (A beat.)
And I'm just so damn glad to see you.
TOM I know what you mean.
SAM Dammit! I mean . . . that I am glad to see you.
TOM That's exactly what I thought you meant. (TOM wanders
over to the gun cabinet.) Yours, Sam?
SAM Yeah, mine. Some--memorabilia from Nam.
TOM I can see that. (A beat.) Funny, but--a lot of guys I
know are trying to forget the war. I guess you never
know what people are going to be interested in.
SAM No, you never know.
SAM All ready?
ANGEL Two hours.
ANGEL I forgot to turn on the oven; it will be two hours.
SAM How could you?
ANGEL Simple. There's a little switch on the range; you
distracted me when you got home, and I forgot to flip it.
Sorry. So, you can have it raw, which you boys might
like, or we can wait. Or, I could whip up a little fish
and rice for you boys, just for old times sake.
SAM No, none of that shit. I want the roast; we'll wait.
There's plenty of booze, and it will give us more time to
talk with Tom. Right, Tom?
TOM Right on, ole buddy. It will give us more time to talk,
time to re-acquaint ourselves with ourselves and each
ANGEL Well . . . what shall we talk about? (Silence.) Did you
notice the heat today, Tom.
TOM I can stand the heat.
SAM And the humidity.
TOM Doesn't bother me either.
SAM Jesus! Hot and humid, just like--
TOM Nam? Is that what you were going to say?
SAM Yeah, like Nam.
TOM Don't be afraid to say it, Sam. I understand. It was
hot over there, hot and humid. That's the truth.
SAM Damn, I'll say. And mosquitoes as big as your fist.
TOM Rats and skunks, all manner of vermin.
TOM Oh, yeah, they were all over the place.
SAM Dammit, Angel! How could you forget the roast?
ANGEL Oh, I just got all excited when you got home and
completely forgot about it. I told you. (A beat.) More
SAM She never was worth a damn at doing the little domestic
chores around the house, but she's--
TOM Great in the ole sack! I know.
(SAM chokes on his drink; ANGEL glares at TOM.)
SAM (forcing it) Jesus! What a sense of humor. You haven't
changed one bit.
TOM Naw, not a bit. The same ole happy-go-lucky guy I always
was. Maybe even more so.
SAM Hey, I know all about that, about you two, remember? And
what the hell! You can't wear one of those things out .
. . least of all her's. Believe me, I've tried.
ANGEL And you've had plenty of help too, Sam.
SAM Hey, both of you--such characters. What a gang, our own
little gang of stand up comics. Such humor I've hardly
ANGEL Did Sam tell you that I'm pregnant, Tom?
TOM No, he didn't mention it.
ANGEL It's true. There's a beautiful little brown baby or
yellow baby or red baby or white baby growing inside me
at this very moment.
TOM (uncomfortably) Congratulations. (A beat.) Your first?
ANGEL (simultaneously with SAM) No.
TOM (confused) I'm sorry, I don't understand.
ANGEL It's not my first, but it is his first, if it is his at
SAM That's a lie! You had a baby before. Why don't you tell
Tom about your baby? Tell our friend Tom. Show him the
ANGEL You go to hell!
SAM You shut up then. And quit acting like a slut; Tom's
liable to get the right idea about you.
(They glare at each other through a long silence.
Then ANGEL goes on.)
ANGEL Well, Tom, you should feel honored that Sam and I can
relax and just be ourselves even with you here; you
haven't upset the domestic tranquility that characterizes
our lives together a bit. Most of the time Sam gets all
uptight when his friends come over.
SAM Tom isn't just my friend, Angel.
ANGEL Of course. You're right. How could I forget? And I
haven't even given him a proper greeting.
(She goes to TOM and kisses him hard on the mouth.
Afterward he just stares at her.)
ANGEL Did you feel the French influence?
TOM (hard) Parlez-vous francais?
ANGEL No, you see I'm not really Vietnamese, but I can do it
the French way, if you're interested.
TOM What's happened to you, Angel?
ANGEL Me? (A beat.) A war. Sam. You. They all took their toll.
TOM I'm sorry, I--
ANGEL Oh, I can see how sorry you are!
SAM Goddammit, will you two just stop it? Let's just . . .
be mellow. Okay?
ANGEL Laid back, Sam. Mellow was last year. (To TOM.) Sam
just can't keep up with the vernacular; he's such a
devoted husband he hardly has time for
anything else, catering to my every whim. Now, I'll just
sit here by Tom, and we'll get nice and laid back, but
not too far back, of course, not in my delicate
condition. Because that would complicate an already
highly complicated situation, wouldn't it? Oh, Tom, I
didn't even ask: You don't have anything against
Orientals do you?
TOM Nothing at all.
ANGEL I didn't think so. And I know I'm safe with you.
Because you would never do anything to degrade them,
particularly their women, would you?
TOM Angel, you don't know what you're talking about.
TOM Hell no!
ANGEL Then why don't you tell me all about what I'm talking
about? (TOM doesn't respond.) Sam told me all about your
affinity for the Vietnamese ladies. I thought I would
SAM I--I just told her how you treated them; told her that
you were nice to them. I never said how nice. And you
did like their women; you said so, said you thought they
were a beautiful people.
TOM (To ANGEL) Yeah, I found Vietnamese women to be very
attractive--when they weren't made up like whores.
ANGEL Well, pardon me, but when a woman gets treated like a
whore, she eventually begins to feel like one.
TOM I never treated you like a whore.
ANGEL You left and didn't come back; the only thing you didn't
do was to toss a few bills on my bureau.
TOM I was going to come back.
ANGEL But you didn't. Why?
TOM I couldn't.
ANGEL (screams) Dammit, why? I want to know why!
(Silence. She looks at both of them.)
ANGEL Damn you! Damn both of you.
SAM Seen anymore of the guys, Tom. Evans? Thompson? I
haven't seen anybody for years. (No response from TOM.)
TOM (woodenly) Thompson shipped over. He's D.I. in San Diego.
SAM Shipped over? Thompson?
TOM That's what I said--shipped over.
SAM He's the guy that couldn't wait to get out; and he's a
D.I., giving those boots hell I bet.
TOM That's his job, to make men out of boys. (A beat.)
Making boys out of men comes later.
SAM What about Evans? I heard he took a hit after I got out,
but I never did confirm it or hear how he made out.
TOM Evans is in a V.A. hospital in Philly; they haven't
gotten him put back together yet.
SAM That sucks.
TOM Sorry you asked?
SAM Yeah--no, I'm not sorry. Dammit, Tom, gimme a break.
TOM What about me, Sam? You going to ask about me?
SAM I already asked about you. And I can see--that you're
doing all right, getting along; you might be a little
thin is all.
TOM Right. I'm fine, a little thin maybe, but otherwise just
ANGEL (from bar) Considering what?
TOM Considering . . . an unfortunate sequence of events.
SAM (anxiously) What about--Mehan? Where's Mehan?
TOM Mehan is a short-order cook at a greasy spoon outside
Dallas. About six months ago he made me a sandwich and
gave my cat a warm bowl of milk.
SAM Damn! Still cooking. (To ANGEL.) This guy--Mehan--was
Charlie Company cook; we called him, "Cookie."
ANGEL Was that your idea, Sam?
SAM Yeah, he hated it though, but that's what we called
him. God, he used to put together some rank shit. Remember
those rabbit burgers, Tom? Nobody knew what was in them,
but he told us that it was rabbit and mule in equal
proportions-one rabbit to one mule. He was a funny son
of a bitch too.
TOM Couple a guys nearly died laughing.
SAM I don't remember that. Anyway, not only could he not
cook, but he never made enough of anything. And his girl
-what was her name, Tom?
TOM Cynthia. She's his wife now, and she's actually the one
that made me the sandwich in Dallas.
ANGEL You mean their romance wasn't a casualty of the war?
SAM His wife? No, shit. Anyway, she used to write him the
wildest letters, and he'd read them to the whole company
every intimate detail. Mehan, what a fucking guy.
ANGEL Tom used to get lots of letters too. Didn't you, Tom?
TOM I got my share.
ANGEL But you didn't read them to the boys?
ANGEL I'm surprised.
TOM I didn't have to read them to the anybody. Everybody
ANGEL Had a girl?
TOM Yes, everybody knew that.
ANGEL But they didn't know that you were in love with this girl
. . . because you weren't. Never mind what you told that
girl; that was just soldier talk.
TOM I didn't tell her anything that wasn't true at the time.
SAM Jesus! I gotta go to the head.
ANGEL You did love this girl then? This anonymous author of
these letters that you didn't share with the boys.
TOM Stop it Angel.
ANGEL You didn't love her?
TOM Angel, please.
ANGEL You did? Yes? No? Maybe? You just loved her in bed?
TOM Yes, dammit, I loved her!
ANGEL (bitterly) At the time?
TOM At the time.
ANGEL But something changed?
TOM You know it did.
ANGEL But I don't know what. I want to know what! What changed?
(TOM turns away refusing to answer.)
ANGEL Tom . . . please. Tell me.
TOM I did. I changed; the war changed me.
ANGEL (acidly) Oh, my poor wounded soldier, living through
all that Hemingway slop. Poor Jake, poor Bret, poor Papa.
(A beat.) Can't you be honest with me?
TOM No, I can't.
ANGEL I know what's wrong with you. You're just like he is,
like Sam. You loved it; you adored it. You were so sure
you'd hate it--gentle, sensitive Tom. You were sure
you'd hate the filth and misery and the killing and the
degeneracy, but, no, no, you loved it instead, loved
every minute of it. For you it held all the romance of
all the war movies and novels that you'd ever seen and
read. I'm sure the war still holds your fondest memories-
-the girls, the bars, the escapades, the camaraderie.
What a bunch of crap!
TOM You don't know, Angel. You just don't know.
ANGEL Of course, I know. You loved it, loved everything about
it; you just can't admit that to yourself.
TOM I detested it, hated it!
ANGEL You loved it!
TOM Dammit, Angel, I hated it!
ANGEL You loved it! Admit it! Be honest with yourself: Men
TOM Stop it!
ANGEL No, I won't stop! Face it. You loved it; you love war.
You'd like to go back.
TOM (grabs her) Goddammit, I hated it! Hated what we did,
hated being part of it. (Suddenly he pulls her against him
savagely; they cling to one another for a long moment.)
Angel . . . didn't you read my letters? Couldn't you feel
ANGEL (confused) Yes, I felt it.
TOM Then you must have known how I felt, what I felt.
ANGEL I thought I did, but then--then you didn't come back.
You never came back; the letters stopped and you disappeared.
Then I didn't know what to believe--about the war, about
TOM I loved you, Angel. Christ I loved you.
(They kiss hard, passionately; TOM finally breaks away and walks off.)
ANGEL What is it?
TOM Sam. He'll be back.
ANGEL I hate him.
TOM You married him.
ANGEL I still hate him.
ANGEL Because he corrupts everything he touches.
TOM Why did you marry him?
ANGEL Don't you know? (He has a hard time looking at her now.)
Because you didn't come back.
TOM God, Angel . . . this is all crazy. What am I doing here?
ANGEL Hold me, Tom. Just hold me for a moment--please. (He
goes to her and wraps her in his arms.) I don't think I
ever stopped loving you, not really. There were times,
plenty of times, when I hated you for leaving me, but
what I felt for you wouldn't die. Not even Sam could
kill that. Tom, there still time--
TOM Oh, Jesus, Angel, don't. Please.
ANGEL Why? (A beat.) I don't understand.
(SAM wanders back into the room from the head; he is pretty
drunk by now.)
SAM Well, isn't this sweet. I'm glad to see that you two are
getting on a little better now.
ANGEL I love him, Sam.
SAM (not threatened at all) Goddamn, Tom! You must have really
turned on the old charm. I walk out of the room to take a leak,
and my wife falls for you. I guess this means that you were
getting it on, instead of just getting on just now. You
ANGEL I never stopped loving him. And I never started loving you.
SAM Well, now, I find that somewhat surprising . . . considering.
ANGEL That I married you?
SAM That's a good point.
ANGEL I married you for the same reason that you married me:
To hurt Tom. He left me; the only way I had to get back
at him was to marry you. I've never loved you.
SAM Now I find that interesting, considering how you love to
get down on your knees and--
ANGEL You shut up!
SAM Or is it just my body that you can't do without? (A
beat.) You've got to watch her, Tom. She'll treat a man
like a sex object.
ANGEL Take me away from this, Tom. Please take me away.
SAM Go ahead, Tom. Take her, but keep this in mind: she's a
hard woman to keep satisfied. She just can't seem to get
enough of it.
TOM You go to hell, Sam! You go goddamn straight to hell!
SAM What'd I do, Tom, touch a soft spot?
TOM Screw you, Sam!
SAM I'm ready. What are friends for?
TOM I didn't come here for this. I swear I didn't, but don't
push me, Sam, or we'll play war games. I don't want . .. to
hurt you. That's not what I'm here for. I came here to--
SAM I'm not afraid of your games.
TOM Let's play then. Let's play, "Sam in the bunker." Want
to play that one, Sam?
SAM Hey, can't you take a little ribbing, a joke, just for
old times' sake. (Crosses to ANGEL.) Why, I adore this
little angel; I wouldn't let her go for anything, not
even for an old friend. Not with her about to give me
another beautiful baby.
TOM I thought there wasn't a baby.
SAM Of course, there's a baby. Isn't there, Angel?
ANGEL No, we've never had a baby.
SAM What? Why, what's that we keep up there in the nursery then?
ANGEL Hopes. Dreams. Memories. Nothing that you know anything
SAM Because you won't share them.
ANGEL You're damn right I won't, not with you. Because all
you'd do is corrupt them!
SAM There will be plenty of room for a new baby then. A
sweet innocent child. My own flesh and blood.
ANGEL She's not yours. I already told you.
SAM Angel! Tom's going to get the impression that your moral
fiber is--somewhat frayed, talking like that. Why you're
as faithful as a--as a bitch in heat. And dressed like
that too. He's going to take you for some gook whore.
(A beat.) But you wouldn't mind that, would you Tom?
ANGEL You're such a shit.
SAM I try to be sociable. I cooperate.
ANGEL Then why don't you play war games with Tom? I think I'd
like to see that. Tom?
TOM No, no, I don't want to play. I shouldn't have brought
ANGEL Come on, Tom, play.
SAM I know what we can play! (Pushes ANGEL to the bar.)
Let's play the bar girl game; it's a variation on a
theme, and Tom already knows how to play. You sit here,
Angel; you're the bar girl, obviously, and you be the
handsome soldier, Tom. I'll direct.
ANGEL I don't want to play.
SAM Yes, yes, come on. I insist. And you might learn
something. First, we need music--some period piece. (SAM
goes to boom box and inserts a tape of Black is Black I
Want My Baby Back.) Oh, that's just right--perfect. But
there's too much light. (Dims lights.) Better. Much
better. Okay-Angel, you're the whore, pardon me, the bar
girl. And, Tom, is, of course, the handsome soldier like
I said before, number one virgin from midland U.S.A.
(Thinks, then:) Imagine there's this big overhead fan-
whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, a few mosquitoes, and the faint
smell of something . . . burning. Ready? Let's begin.
Tom you enter from over there, and just say what I say,
you too, Angel. You just came out of the bright sun, and
you have to let your eyes adjust to the darkness. You
spot him right off Angel--the handsome soldier, with
money-and you give him a faint, somewhat provocative
smile. Not too much because you don't want him to think
you're a whore--yet. Come and sit down at the bar now
Tom, away from her. You don't want her to think you're
just interested in her body--yet. I'll be the barkeep.
(SAM takes station behind the bar.) Tom, you say:
Sumbitch, some kinda hot out there. (Pause.) Say it.
TOM Sumbitch, some kinda hot out there.
SAM Saigon always hot afternoon. Even war stop because heat.
Very bad. Drink handsome soldier? Just say beer, Tom.
SAM Goddammit Tom! I said to say beer.
TOM I don't want a beer. I want a rum-coco.
SAM Well, say, "beer," and I'll give you a goddamn rum-coco!
(A beat.) Say it.
TOM Gimme a beer.
SAM Okay, Tiger beer for number one handsome soldier.
(SAM mixes a rum-coco and serves it to TOM. TOM takes
a sip and looks at SAM.)
TOM This is a rum-coco.
SAM Goddammit, Tom, you're really beginning to piss me off!
Now quit fucking around with me. I'm warning you.
(SAM moves down to ANGEL.)
SAM Angel, you say: Tell handsome soldier buy Saigon tea.
ANGEL (tight-lipped) Tell handsome soldier buy Saigon tea.
(SAM goes back to TOM.)
SAM (nods to ANGEL) Lady like you buy Saigon tea.
TOM Tell her I'll buy her a rum-coco.
SAM Dammit, Tom! Nobody but you drank rum-cocos in Nam. Now
play it right. Shit!
ANGEL Easy Sam, it's only a game.
SAM But I want it to be played right. (A beat.) Okay,
that's better. We'll go on. Now, again, Tom: Lady like
you buy Saigon tea.
TOM All right--gimme a Saigon tea.
SAM Not you. Her!
TOM You didn't say that.
SAM You know what I meant . . . fuck it! I don't want to
play if you're not going to play right.
ANGEL This is fun now. Let's go on; we'll play right.
SAM (pouting) Tom won't.
TOM Give me one more chance, Sam. I'll play right.
SAM No you won't.
TOM I will--for you. I promise.
SAM Okay. One more chance, and no bullshit. Make a proper
response this time. (Pause.) Okay: Lady like you buy
TOM Okay, give the lady a Saigon tea.
SAM That's better.
(SAM serves a drink to ANGEL.)
SAM Angel, now you move on down here next to the handsome
soldier. (She does.) Good. Good. Nice movement; you
really know your stuff.
ANGEL I've had lots of practice.
SAM I can see that you have. Sit down next to him now and
ANGEL Thank you Saigon tea.
TOM I'm a soldier, not a drink. You mean, thank you soldier
for the Saigon tea.
SAM Don't get grammatical, Tom. Just play along. (A beat.)
Ask him where he's from, Angel.
ANGEL Where from handsome soldier?
TOM America. North. The United States.
(SAM is clearly angry now.)
TOM Kansas! I'm from Independence, Kansas ma'am. How 'bout
TOM No shit?
SAM Wait a minute! He knows you're from Vietnam, Angel.
Christ! Where in Vietnam?
ANGEL How the hell do I know? You didn't tell me.
SAM Hanoi! Just say Hanoi.
ANGEL (yells) Hanoi!
TOM (reflects, then:) Oh . . . that near here?
ANGEL Closer than Kansas.
SAM Knock it off. No bullshit. Ask him how he likes
ANGEL Hey, number one handsome soldier from Independence,
Kansas, how you like Vietnamese womens?
SAM Tell her you like'em with big tits like hers.
ANGEL I don't like this game now.
SAM Tell her!
TOM (wavering) I--I like'em with . . . big tits like yours.
SAM Rub against him now, Angel. Ask him if he'd like to see
them, feel them skin to skin.
(SAM leans over the bar and grabs her hand.)
SAM Ask him if he wants to fucky--fuck. Tell him you want to
see what he's got right there!
(He forces her hand into TOM'S crotch.)
TOM Goddamn you!
(TOM jumps up and smashes SAM in the face. SAM goes down
behind the bar, unconscious. TOM starts to go after him,
but is restrained by ANGEL.)
ANGEL Leave him alone, Tom; he's out. He's drunk and sick.
TOM (To SAM) By god you keep it up and we'll play my game before this
night is over! You hear me. Get up you lousy bastard!
(TOM pulls away from ANGEL and comes downstage. In a
moment she follows him, taking his arm.)
ANGEL I'll go away with you, Tom. I'll pack a bag and leave
right now. (He laughs bitterly.) TOM . . . I mean it.
I'll leave him.
TOM Angel, I don't even have a place to take you. You know
where I live? Nowhere. What I do? Whatever it takes to
keep me alive for another week. I drift, I exist . . .
why? I don't even know why I go to the trouble.
(ANGEL touches his shoulder.)
ANGEL I won't be a burden; I can carry my share of the load,
live anywhere, do whatever I have to do.
(TOM goes to the dinner table.)
TOM Waterford crystal, sterling, fine china, real roses. It
all has a way of getting under your skin. After a while
you tend to think that you deserve it. You couldn't give
it up so easily.
ANGEL They're all for show, for Sam and his friends; it's like
they're having some huge contest. They mean nothing to
me; symbols of something I don't even care about. I
could give them up.
TOM (bitterly, starting to break) If you gave them up for
me you'd be giving them up for nothing. Because that's what
I am--nothing. Not even a man.
ANGEL I . . . don't understand.
TOM Angel, I want to love you; I do love you, but I can't
ANGEL Why not? What's wrong with me?
TOM It's not you, Angel. It's me.
ANGEL Then what's wrong with you? (No response.) Can a war so
TOM It did me.
ANGEL Tom, the war was horrible for all of us; you changed,
I changed, the entire country changed, except maybe for
Sam. But in spite of those changes you have to go on
living. You can't lock yourself away in a cloak of
unresolved guilt; you can't live with the memories that
you had nothing to do with making. Get out of this
sullen hole. Live again! Love someone! Love me!
TOM I can't, Angel.
ANGEL Then I pity you. Because if you can't love, you don't
have anything to live for.
TOM I'm very well aware of that. (A beat.) Who do you love,
Angel? What do you live for?
ANGEL For almost nine years I didn't think I loved anybody,
least of all myself. And malice is what I've lived for
during that time. I married Sam and stayed with him all
this time waiting for this moment, the moment you came
through that door. I wanted to hurt you because you
deserted me, but I only hurt myself. I should hate you;
I have every reason to hate you. Look what you've done
to me, you and Sam. I'm a bitch. Cheerful, optimistic,
Angel, the girl that used to love just getting up to see
what every new day would bring, the girl with unlimited
potential for doing something good, something useful.
Even when you left for Vietnam I felt good because I knew
that you were really still with me in an important way.
Then that feeling went away; it went away when you did,
and everything came crashing down around me. Dreams die
hard, Tom, and when you find you don't have any anymore,
you have to replace them with something else. With
malice or anger or hate or a self destructive kind of
cynicism. I went so long without feeling anything good that I
didn't know if I had that capacity in me any longer. But
you've shown me that I do. It isn't all lost yet.
(She touches his face.)
TOM God, Angel, don't. Please.
ANGEL Why? Why are you rejecting me? (He turns away from
her.) Tom, I'm reaching out for you, trying to make some
kind of human contact. Why can't you hold out your hand?
TOM Don't you know? Don't you know what happened to me over
there. (A beat.) When Sam pushed you hand into my crotch
what did you feel?
ANGEL Nothing. I didn't . . . feel anything. (A beat.) Oh,
my baby. My poor, poor baby. How could they do that to
you? How could they do it to anyone?
TOM (woodenly) With no trouble at all.
ANGEL Oh, god . . . dammit!
TOM That's why I didn't, couldn't, come back; why you didn't
hear from me. I wanted you to think that I was dead,
because I was--am. Only they wouldn't let me die like I
wanted to. Chaplain Goodman was very kind, very
understanding. He explained to me how I should feel
honored to make such a sacrifice for my country--as if
democracy in Asia depended on my balls. Goddamn him!
Goddamn them every one!
(TOM breaks, cries. She cradles him then takes his hand.)
ANGEL Come with me.
TOM I can't.
ANGEL To my room.
TOM I can't. No. I--don't want you to see me.
ANGEL Tom, just touch me, hold me. I have to have you hold me.
TOM Angel, I . . .
ANGEL Please. Come with me.
(She starts up the stairs, still holding his hand. He
finally follows her reluctantly. As they climb
the stairs the lights slowly fade to darkness.
END ACT I.)