AMERICAN PIES, HAPPY LIVES, BLUE SKIES AND OTHER LIES
David W. Christner
ACT II, SCENE I
SCENE: The same an hour later. ANGEL is on the bed; she
has on a slip. Her wig and Oriental make-up are gone;
she is an American again. TOM is sitting on the edge of
the bed, dressing. He is quiet, distant. As they begin
talking, SAM gets up from behind the bar downstairs,
shakes his head, then stumbles off into the head.)
ANGEL Tom . . . I feel so close to you. (No response.) It was
good, Tom, so good--really.
TOM But not--enough.
ANGEL More than enough. (A beat.) You made me feel--whole,
instead of like a hole. I feel good now, about you,
about myself. And I haven't felt good in years. If we
were together we could work something out.
TOM Work something out? For you, you mean, other men? Whole
ANGEL Don't spoil this moment; don't be bitter.
TOM "Don't be bitter!" Goddammit, Angel, you don't now what
I feel . . . or what I don't.
ANGEL Tom, if I love you, and I think I still do, it's because
of what you are, not because of--of what you can do to or
for me physically. I love another human being. Not an
TOM But not a man.
ANGEL You are a man, a man full of love and compassion.
TOM And bitterness and hate and envy, especially envy. I
envy every man I pass on the street--rich or poor, black
or white, dead or alive. I'm not even a person anymore,
and certainly not the person you fell in love with.
ANGEL Neither am I.
TOM In a week you'd despise me, and I you for trying to make
me into something that I can't possibly be. I'm a
different person, Angel, and not necessarily a better
person. What I lost in that war goes far beyond what I
lost with my wound.
ANGEL We all lost something.
TOM Everybody but Sam. And I lost more than anyone.
ANGEL It could have been worse.
TOM How? Goddammit, you tell me how!
ANGEL You could have lost your self-respect. Sam did.
TOM I don't have an ounce of self-respect left.
ANGEL I don't believe that.
TOM Believe it. It's true. I often find myself detesting
ANGEL Then tell me this. Why do you go on at all? Why don't
you just quit, drop out, kill yourself? Why don't you
just let the world rush by and collect your disability
check every month? (No response.) Tom?
TOM Screw them! Blood money! They can't buy me off. I know
what I saw, what we did. I've never touched a cent of
ANGEL Sam has. He gets a tax-free check every month for some
movement he lost in his left leg, but you'd never know it
if you saw him scurrying after the twenty year olds at
the country club.
TOM Sam's a shit . . . but he's still a man.
ANGEL Only in one sense.
TOM The most important one. Angel. There's no way I can
explain to you what I feel. I would gladly trade a foot,
an arm, a leg, an eye--both eyes, anything to be whole
ANGEL I don't believe it; it's not that important, not to you,
not even to me. What we had before wasn't based on sex.
You've just forgotten how to love because you think you
can't love anymore, but you can. You can love with
something that comes from inside you, something that has
nothing to do with your body. You just showed that to me.
TOM It was awful for me in a way. I was frightened.
ANGEL Tom, just let me love you again. That's all I want, that
ANGEL Because if there's any love left in me I want to share it
with you. I can't exist any longer without loving someone.
TOM Dammit, why does it have to be me?
ANGEL Because it's always been you; because I'm enough of a
romantic, even now, to believe you're the only one I can
love. Maybe because I'm nuts or a blind idealist. I
don't know! Why does anybody love anybody?
TOM Because their love is returned.
ANGEL You're just afraid. You're afraid to feel anything good
again because you don't think that you should ever feel
good because of what you did in the war and what it did
TOM I don't deny that.
ANGEL And I don't believe that you're that frightened.
TOM I am! Take my word for it. I don't want to feel again.
I don't want to love. It hurts too much when you lose it.
ANGEL You never stopped loving, and you know it. You just
managed to suppress it with hate and envy, but it kept
breaking through because your capacity to love is so much
greater than your capacity for anything evil.
TOM My capacity for love is gone; it no longer exists.
ANGEL Love comes from the human heart, not the groin. It can
exist without sex.
TOM Can it? What of passion, desire? You're a young woman,
ANGEL You just satisfied my desires, my passion.
TOM For how long? And was it enough? (No response.) Angel?
ANGEL I don't know.
TOM Goddammit, Angel, you're making me feel things that I
don't have any way of deal with.
ANGEL You came here tonight because you felt something.
TOM I don't know why I came.
ANGEL It wasn't to see Sam; we both know that. He was never
your friend, not before the war, certainly not now. So,
if you didn't come for Sam, you must have come for me.
It's that simple.
TOM It's not that simple. I might very well have come for
Sam, but you're right, not because he was my friend.
Why then? (A beat.) Is he your enemy, your nemesis?
TOM (evasively) Get dressed. I--I don't want to talk about it.
ANGEL About what?
(They finish dressing in silence. ANGEL slips on a
short silk kimono. TOM finishes first and waits for
her in the hall across from the nursery. After a moment
he starts to go in.)
ANGEL Don't go in there!
TOM (entering the nursery) Is the baby, sleeping?
(He goes to the crib and looks in. He looks back at ANGEL
and is clearly confused.)
TOM I--don't understand.
ANGEL Neither do I.
(She takes his hand, and they descend the stairs without
speaking. At the bottom she turns, kisses him, and they
both try to smile.)
ANGEL Fix me a drink, would you, Tom?
TOM (cheerfully) Saigon tea?
ANGEL Rum-coco. (A beat.) You spoiled his game, you know.
Really treated him like a shit. He's not used to that,
thinks he deserves much better.
TOM I know what he deserves.
ANGEL And what he doesn't?
TOM Yeah, I know that too. (A beat.) What do you want,
TOM Not to drink.
ANGEL Oh . . . I want someone to touch me, somebody to touch me
like you used to. Not my body, but something else deep
down inside the very quick of my being. I want to be
needed, for my existence to be something of value, to get
back what I've lost.
TOM To get back what you've lost? I don't think you're any
more capable of doing that than I am.
ANGEL Then I want to start over again. (A beat.) You, Tom?
What do you want?
TOM Answers. Reasons. But not the ones that I've already
heard. I want someone to justify what happed to me, to
my friends, to you and me.
ANGEL To all of us.
ANGEL We're not innocent anymore, or young, or naive. Or even
stupid. You can't even blame it on stupidity. It was
something else--fear, greed, someone's dream of what the
world should be like, the inability to swallow what we
mistake as pride.
TOM God, I hate it. I just hate it.
ANGEL It's time you stopped hating, time for you to start
living . . . with me. (A beat.) Please don't shut me
TOM You can make me a drink now, okay? Rum-coco.
(ANGEL shakes off a sudden chill.)
ANGEL Is it cold in here, or is it just me?
TOM I'm afraid it's me.
(She touches his face gently.)
ANGEL No it's not.
(SAM enters and clears his throat. He is still pretty
SAM Well, where have you two been? (No response.) Upstairs?
You took this boy upstairs? For what?
ANGEL Stop it!
SAM I'm sorry. I got the wrong idea. You couldn't have
taken him up there for that. You took him up to show him
the baby, of course. Did you show Tom your baby, Angel?
TOM Leave her alone, Sam.
SAM You go to hell, buddy; she's my wife, not yours. (To
ANGEL.) Did you? Did you show Tom the baby, your
ANGEL There's not a baby!
SAM No, no, I didn't think there was a baby; but there was a
baby at one time. Did you tell Tom about the baby that
isn't anymore but was once upon a time? Did you tell him
about what pretty babies you make?
TOM I don't want to hear about the baby.
SAM But you must hear about the baby; it's imperative that
you hear about the baby. Angel?
TOM What are you drinking, Sam?
SAM (checks) What am I drinking? Yes, now that's a good question.
What am I drinking? Why, I'm not drinking anything at
the moment. What a pity. I was drinking scotch, but it
all came out of me and went into the potty. Chivas too;
I should get a gold potty. Tell me Tom, how do you--
TOM (handing him a drink) Here!
SAM Why, thank you, Tom. How very good of you. And here I
thought we were on bad terms when you smashed my nose.
Well, you never know; you think you know, but you never
do. (Drinks.) Ah, now that is what I call smooth, so very,
very smooth. Thank you, Tom, Tommy, best friend of mine.
TOM How is the nose?
SAM Well, broken I think. But I've decided not to file suit,
since you gave me a scotch. Even though it is my scotch.
Chivas too. And it was my game. I just never realized
that it was going to get so rough, but--when the going
ANGEL Somebody gets a broken nose.
SAM Exactly. (A beat.) By the way, Tom, how is your wound?
(TOM stares at him hard.)
TOM I've learned to live with--out it.
SAM Now that is clever. Did you hear what Tom said, Angel?
"I've learned to live with--out it." That's what I call
clever. You alway did have a way with words. Keep it
up. Oh, sorry, I was referring to your writing, of
TOM You're pushing awfully hard, Sam. I didn't come here to
destroy you, but you'd better stop pushing.
SAM Destroy me! You certainly didn't do my nose any good.
And I'm a crippled war veteran too, card carrying member
of the V.F.W. in good standing.
TOM How is your wound, Sam?
SAM Just a few scars remain. Old Ernest would love it, not
as much as he would love yours, of course.
ANGEL Sam wasn't hurt seriously.
TOM I know.
SAM Now that's a matter of perspective. It could have been
much more serious. Right, Tom?
TOM She knows, Sam. She knows! Okay?
SAM Then you two were playing bedroom games. I should have
known, but then the husband is always the last to know.
I may just have to file suit after all. (A beat.) But
then I don't suppose anything happened, under the
circumstances. And I didn't hear the vibrator.
ANGEL See why I'm so fond of him, Tom?
SAM Tom ain't seen nothing yet. No, that's not right, on the
contrary, you see nothing all the time, don't you, Tom?
(Tom turns away, angry.)
SAM Oh, darling, I'm afraid I've offended our oldest and
dearest friend. What could I possibly do to make amends?
ANGEL Why don't you hang yourself?
SAM Because I'm already hung. Oh, God, there I go again;
what an insensitive lout I am. I can't seem to open my
mouth without steeping on my . . . without putting my
foot in it. And I realize how sensitive Tom must be about--
(TOM turns on him abruptly.)
TOM All right, Sam. Time for one of my games now: The
wounded soldier game. I want to play this one because--
because I want to see if it's possible for you to feel
SAM Why, I feel just fine, but it sounds like fun. How do you
TOM Oh, you know how to play, Sam. You were there, but . . .
I want you to have my wound, instead of yours. But you
don't know what it is that you've lost, no, not in the
beginning. That's what I'll be there for--Chaplain
Goodman-to tell you, to break it to you gently. But
you'll sense that you've suffered--a loss, that you've
lost . . . something, but you don't know what it is
because it's no longer there. You see, you can't feel
what's not there, so you don't know if it's there until
you feel there and find that it's not. (A beat.) Lie
down on the couch there. Angel, we'll need a sheet, a
clean white sheet to put over the remains of the wounded
(ANGEL gets a white table cloth from a cabinet in the
ANGEL This work?
TOM Fine. Perfect. (Covers SAM on the couch.) Now, Sam,
remember, you must keep your hands outside the sheet
until- until . . . you'll know when. Okay? Everybody ready?
SAM Ready, Doc.
TOM No, that's wrong. I'm the chaplain, not the doctor.
The doctors have already done as much as they can do;
it's out of their hands now.
SAM Out of yours too.
TOM Don't be nasty, Sam.
SAM Right, sorry. It's only a game.
TOM To you maybe! (A beat.) Angel, you sit over there and
observe--observe the story of the wounded soldier.
ANGEL Are you sure you want to do this, Tom?
TOM I'm not sure of anything right now, least of all of what
I want to do, but maybe--I need to do this. In any
case, it will help pass the time until the roast is
ANGEL I don't think I can stand it.
SAM What, the roast?
ANGEL The game!
SAM If he wants to play, Angel, let him play. It might help
ANGEL Help him what?
SAM Face--the situation.
TOM It might at that. Who knows? But we're not really
playing for me, Sam. We're playing for you. Ready:
Lights. Camera. Action. The scene: The recovery area
of a field hospital in IV Corps. The time: post op--
after surgery. The weather: Hot and humid. The
situation: The blues. You wake up, Sam. You have some
vague memory of being hit, sort of, but not when--or
SAM (sings) I can't remember where or when.
TOM Shut up and listen. As your eyes come slowly into focus
the first thing you see is the smiling face of the
Charlie Company chaplain--the reverend Armstrong T.
Goodman. Now go ahead, just ad-lib, you know what
happened. I'll fill in the gaps.
SAM Ah, ahhh--who's that. Who's there.
TOM Why it's the most reverend Armstrong T. Goodman, the
Charlie Company chaplain, my son. (To ANGEL.) He
always referred to you as "my son" when you were dying
or when you suffered a "terrible" wound.
ANGEL (woodenly) I see.
SAM Was I hit? I remember getting hit. Where? Where was I
TOM A rice paddy north of Vung Tau. (To ANGEL.) The
chaplain always got right to the point.
SAM No, no. Where was I hit? Am I all here?
TOM My son, you're going to be fine.
SAM What's wrong? What happened? My legs! My God, my
legs! I can't feel my legs.
TOM (tapping SAM'S foot) Feel that? It's just the anesthetic;
it takes time to wear off. Your legs are fine.
SAM Thank God.
TOM Yes, thank God. You are alive.
SAM What is wrong? (No response from TOM.) What is it?
TOM My son, you have suffered . . . a terrible wound.
SAM What?! Terrible wound? What--my God, no, no! (Feels
beneath the sheet.) Oh, my God. No, no, no! (Begins yelling
then stops abruptly.) How's that, Tom? About right? More?
Louder? A little more anguish? (TOM doesn't respond, so
SAM begins yelling again.) Ahhh . . .
TOM You have suffered a terrible wound, but you have your life.
SAM My life?
TOM Don't say anything else, Sam. Just listen, and think,
feel, if you can. (Pause.) You have your life, son,
and your sight, the full use of your arms and legs.
You're really very fortunate. And your government won't
forget what you sacrificed for it; you'll receive full
compensation. But more importantly, you can hold your
head up high because you served your country in a time
of great need. Whatever any of us gives is really too
little when you consider what we get in return.
SAM What did you give, Reverend?
TOM I give the VC hell everyday, and twice on Sunday. In
the spiritual sense, of course.
SAM Of course.
ANGEL Please stop. No more.
(TOM glances at her and nods.)
TOM Okay. Game's over.
SAM How'd I do, Tom? How about that scream? I just tried
to imagine what--it would be like to--
TOM You did a fine job, Sam. Absolutely first rate, a very
SAM And you know I felt something too, Tom. When I put my
hands under the sheet, I really did feel something. (A
beat.) Any more games?
TOM (lashing out) How about Sam in the bunker? That's a good
one. Want to play that?
SAM I guess I've had enough fun for one night. Let's eat.
Check the roast, Angel.
TOM Come on, Sam. One more game.
SAM You go to hell! I don't want to play one more game.
TOM Then get off my case and stay off of it!
SAM You're absolutely right; that's no way for me to treat a
friend, an old war dog like yourself. Let's just settle
down now. Let's get nice and mellow--laid back. I'll
even fix some soft drinks to show they're no hard
feeling, or should it be hard drinks to show that they
are no soft feelings? Angel, the roast.
ANGEL Come with me, Tom.
(ANGEL takes his hand and they exit to the kitchen.
SAM hurries over to the gun cabinet, loads a revolver,
and puts it in a drawer of the cabinet. Then he goes
to the bar and gulps down a scotch and pours another.
TOM and ANGEL return.)
SAM Ready or not?
(ANGEL stays very close to TOM now.)
ANGEL A few more minutes.
SAM Don't overcook it now. I like it rare, Tom too.
ANGEL I know how you like it.
SAM Prime rib, Tom. Good American beef, corn fed, best beef
in the world. None of that gook shit here, and--and
fine crystal, sterling silver--
ANGEL He's seen it, Sam.
TOM And I can't tell you how impressed I am. And to think
that I was right there in the trenches with you.
SAM The best money can buy. No wooden bowls, no chopsticks,
no rice, no fish, no gooks.
TOM Don't call them that!
SAM Tom . . . buddy, let's call a gook a gook, huh? At
least in my house.
TOM Don't you call them anything.
SAM That's right, I forgot. You liked the little yellow
(TOM shakes his head almost in pity.)
TOM They're people, Sam. Just like you and me and Angel.
They live and die, same as we do.
SAM Animals! Live like them, smell like them.
TOM You never should have been given the opportunity to find
out, none of us should have.
SAM Oh, here it comes again, still alive after all these
years the holier-than-thou trip. If you detested the war
so much you could have split. We could have--fought it
TOM You almost said won, didn't you? You didn't win, Sam.
You lost. For the first time in history we were the
SAM And you were right there with us ole buddy, ole pal of
TOM I know. I already told you why: Swallowed too much pie.
It was 1967, and I was a red-blooded American boy
following his heart instead of his head. I didn't think
this country was capable of making such a mistake, of
being so wrong. But I learned, and I detest myself for
having to learn the way I learned.
SAM Well, let me tell you something. I'm not ashamed that we
fought there, not at all. We didn't do anything that our
fathers and our grandfathers didn't do. My only shame
comes from the fact that we didn't do it as well.
TOM Oh, we killed as well, Sam; we invented new ways of
killing. We just didn't kill as much.
SAM And that's a shame.
ANGEL I think I'm going to be sick.
SAM Morning sickness? Or mourn-ing sickness.
ANGEL I pity you, Sam. I pity you because you can't feel
anything for anybody but yourself.
SAM Nothing could be further from the truth. Why I feel
absolutely awful for all those good Americans who had
their hard-earned money invested in the arms industry and
suddenly had the war shut off right in their faces. Now
I'm faced with the task of turning a profit for them
during peacetime, and that is a difficult proposition.
Why in Vietnam I never heard a round go off or saw napalm
illuminate the distant horizon that I didn't thank my
lucky stars and stripes forever.
ANGEL Excuse me.
(She rushes out.)
SAM Just you and me, Tom, Tommy. Just like in Nam. Jesus,
we had some times, didn't we? The bars. The girls.
Kicking those street kids' asses.
TOM You must be thinking of somebody else.
SAM No, you were there. Always there, never with us, but
always there. I never turned around that I didn't see
you looking down on me. (A beat.) Can't look down now
TOM Is that why you married Angel, Sam? To somehow defeat
me, to somehow beat me down because what I did for you
was something you couldn't do for yourself?
SAM Tom, it was love. I married Angel for love.
TOM You didn't get it.
SAM That's where you're wrong. I get it all the time.
TOM Shut up!
SAM And it's such a pleasure, because I know when I'm
fucking Angel, I'm giving you a real good fucking too.
TOM I hate your guts.
SAM Tom! Is that anyway to talk to an old war buddy, a
chum, a comrade in arms? I should say not.
TOM She's leaving you. Do you know that?
SAM For you? What for? (A beat.) You have to understand
Angel, Tom. Now I know her, know what she likes, and,
Tom, I'm sorry, but you just can't give it to her. I
mean, under the circumstances.
TOM (reflects, then:) Sam, I can destroy you. I know exactly
how too destroy you, you and your Purple Heart and your
Cross of Gallantry, your business and your life, everything
you stand for. Don't make me do that. Don't make me play
anymore war games.
SAM Don't even try, Tom. I'll kill you if you even try.
TOM Are you afraid, afraid of what the truth would do to you?
SAM I'm not afraid of you.
TOM The truth, Sam. I'm talking about the truth. I'm
talking about looking into the mirror and seeing who we
SAM Just don't talk at all.
TOM Then you are afraid? (No response.) I don't blame you.
Fear does funny things to a man. It makes you do things
that you didn't know you were capable of doing, and it
keeps you from doing the things that you were sure you
could do. Funny thing--fear. (A beat.) Now what about
SAM Angel? She's not afraid of anything.
SAM So, you think you'd like to have Angel. (TOM nods.)
Jesus, Tom, I'd like to help, I really would, but the
fact is: I've grown accustomed to her face. Is that the
way it goes? Her breathing out and breathing in? Her
smile, her frown, her ups and downs?
SAM Tom, Tommy, I'm thinking of you. Believe me. It just
wouldn't, couldn't work. A passionate young woman like
Angel. You must realize that she'd need to see other
men. I mean, she has other men now, and I'm banging her
three, fours time a week minimum.
TOM She wouldn't have to love them; she doesn't love you.
SAM Still, be a realist. Think of what it would be like--
the waiting, the wondering. Who is it this time--the
butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker? Did the
baker maker? Or did the candlestick maker? (A beat.)
Who is it that said that both heaven and hell dwell
between a woman's legs?
SAM Was . . . no, why Tom, such Tomfoolery, trying to trick
your uncle Sam. I think it was more likely Henry
Miller. Anyway, it doesn't matter. What matters is that
it would be pure hell for you, Tom, pure unadulterated
TOM I've been through worse things.
SAM Have you now? (Calls.) Angel. Angel, come back in
here. We need you.
(After a moment ANGEL enters. SAM goes to her,
hugs her from behind, cupping her breasts.)
ANGEL (pulling away) Get away from me!
SAM No, no, you don't understand. We're going upstairs.
Not for me. For you and Tom. It's a test.
(She looks at TOM, confused.)
SAM (grabs her) Come on.
(TOM pulls ANGEL away from him.)
SAM Now what did I just explain to you, Tom. It just
wouldn't work. I want to protect you from what would
most certainly be a tragic mistake. You and Angel . . .
ANGEL What's going on? Tom?
(He turns away..)
TOM I'm leaving.
ANGEL No! Not without me.
(She catches him and takes his arm.)
TOM Angel, I . . .
ANGEL What did he say to you? What happened?
SAM I just gave Tom a lesson in--in how to deal with the
ANGEL A lot you know about that! Tom?
TOM I shouldn't have come here; I don't even know why I did.
ANGEL You came for me.
TOM I don't know. It could have been for Sam; I could have
come for Sam. I don't know anymore. I'm . . . sorry.
ANGEL You came to find out why we hurt you, why Sam hurt you,
and why I did. That's why you came.
TOM For whatever reason it was, it was a mistake. I
shouldn't have come.
(He starts to leave.)
SAM Don't go away mad, Tom. Or hungry. Roast will be ready
in time now.
ANGEL (to SAM) What did you say to him?
SAM Like I said. Just showed him the truth, baby. A simple
fact of life about the facts of life.
ANGEL About me?
SAM And himself. Huh, Tom?
ANGEL What truth?
SAM That no man can sit idly by while another man is banging
TOM Shut up!
(SAM shrugs and goes to bar.)
SAM Have it your way.
ANGEL Tom, somehow we could make it.
SAM A little play on words there, Tom. Purely unintentional
on Angel's part, I'm sure.
(They ignore him.)
ANGEL Give it a chance, Tom.
TOM Shit, Angel. What chance has it got?
ANGEL I don't know--one in ten? A hundred, a thousand? I
don't know, but anything is better than this.
TOM Your baby? What about your baby?
ANGEL (woodenly) There isn't a baby.
SAM Her name is Betsy.
ANGEL She's dead.
SAM She's three now, nearly four.
ANGEL She would have been.
SAM Angel gives her dolls and clothes, pretty dresses.
ANGEL I don't even cry anymore.
SAM But the baby does. Listen! I think I hear her crying
ANGEL (frightened) No!
SAM Yes, she's crying. I'm sure. Don't you hear her?
ANGEL No, no. I don't. She not crying!
SAM Yes. Yes, she is. Listen. It's getting louder; she's
ANGEL No! No! She's dead. Betsy is dead!
(ANGEL suddenly lunges at SAM and begins hitting him.
TOM pulls her away. SAM stumbles to the bar, hurt,
rests for a moment then pours himself a shot of
scotch. TOM shakes ANGEL hard then pulls her against
him where she nearly collapses.)
TOM (To SAM) You lousy bastard! I should have let her kill you.
(Now to ANGEL.) It's okay. It's okay, all over. Go
on and cry, cry all you want. Don't talk.
ANGEL I have to tell you now. I want to finish.
TOM Not now.
ANGEL Yes, I want to tell you.
TOM Later. Just let me hold you.
ANGEL No, now. I have to tell you now. (She takes a moment
to regain her composure.) I--I did have a baby, a
SAM It was retarded.
ANGEL That's not true; she was a lovely baby a beautiful baby
with pretty eyes and skin and hair. And she was a good
baby, such a good baby.
SAM It cried; it screamed all the time.
ANGEL No, no. She never cried with me, only him because-
because she knew.
SAM Knew what?
ANGEL Knew that you represented all the evil and base and vile
things in the world. She never cried with me; she was a
good baby, a beautiful, innocent baby, my only child.
She . . .
(She begins to break.)
TOM That's enough, Angel.
ANGEL No, let me finish. You have to know what happened to my
SAM Our baby.
ANGEL My baby. You hated her.
SAM It always cried; it never stopped screaming.
TOM What happened?
ANGEL She died. My baby died.
TOM Good God.
(He pulls ANGEL close to him.)
ANGEL (woodenly) There was nothing wrong with her; she just died,
and then she was dead.
SAM Tell him when it died. What day. He'll love that.
ANGEL My baby died on the day that Saigon fell. Do you
SAM Crib death.
ANGEL No, she just died. There was no logical reason for her
death, no disease, nobody benefited from it. It didn't
mean anything; it didn't do any good. She just died,
TOM I'm sorry.
ANGEL It wasn't your fault; it wasn't anybody's fault. She .
. . just . . . died. For no reason.
TOM I'm sorry, baby; I'm so sorry.
SAM It's gone, Tom, but it's still alive in her head. She
says it's dead, but she knows it's not, not for her. It
never will be. She sings to it, talks to it, buys
things for it. It's one of those little things you have
to learn to live with.
TOM Angel, I could learn. I could try. (No response.) Do
you hear what I'm saying, Angel? I'll try, give it a
chance, like you said. I'm willing to do that, willing
to go with you, take you with me.
SAM Isn't this touching: I'm all choked up. A tender moment
in the annals of humankind. I've got it! Maybe you two
could have another baby, one of your own. Oh, sorry,
you couldn't, I forgot. I could recommend a good stud
service then, and you could be part of the postwar baby
boom after all. I know a good diaper service too.
TOM You're all heart, Sam. (To ANGEL.) You all right?
ANGEL I think so. You?
TOM Frightened. Frightened half to death.
ANGEL How did things get so screwed up?
TOM How? It started a long time ago, and we didn't even
have that much to do with it. It was that goddamn
"manifest destiny" thing again. Save the world for
American democracy-and sources of revenue.
ANGEL And then it happened all at once. Suddenly I was
married to the wrong man for the wrong reason. There
was a war. My baby died. You were mutilated for no
reason at all, and Sam came home a hero. Oh, goddammit,
I hate it. I just hate it. Such idiocy. Such waste.
TOM You should have seen it.
ANGEL I did. And I see it now, in all of us, even him.
(SAM lifts his drink and smiles.)
SAM To the happy couple. Your future. May your sons never
have to defend the motherland.
TOM You're sick. If my body was a casualty of the war then
so was your mind. And mutilated or not I can live with
my body; I couldn't live with your mind.
SAM Not a bad mind, Tom. Knows how to make a buck.
ANGEL Don't pay any attention to him.
SAM (toasting them) Your future.
(TOM pulls away from ANGEL.)
TOM Angel, maybe we don't have any more of a future than we
do a past. The memories are all dead, relics of some
ANGEL Tom, don't. What we have is right now, an entire
lifetime of present moments. Don't turn them into
regrets too, not before we've even had a chance to live
some of them.
TOM I couldn't stand losing you again; I don't think I want
to take the chance. Why don't you just leave me alone?
ANGEL You've been alone too long.
TOM And I've been . . .
ANGEL What? Happy?
TOM As happy as you.
ANGEL Then you've been in hell.
TOM I know that! But I existed; I functioned. There was
ANGEL Simply existing isn't living. You need human contact.
I know that because I need it too.
TOM I didn't need it before.
ANGEL Then you weren't living.
TOM I don't want all this pain!
ANGEL What do you want?
TOM To be whole! I want to be a man again.
ANGEL Oh, dammit, dammit, Tom. What can I do?
SAM (drunkenly) Maybe you could get him one of those dildos.
TOM Don't make me live again, Angel. Leave me alone.
ANGEL It's too late for that. You see, I need you as much as
you need me.
SAM She has needs all right, Tom.
ANGEL Take me with you.
TOM I can't.
ANGEL Can't accept my love?
TOM Can't return it.
ANGEL If that's true, I'll leave you. (A beat.) I know you
love me, and that you love me as a human being, not an
object. Not like he does. If we're to start over,
that's where we have to start--with fundamental human
TOM I can't not love you, Angel. I tried to stop loving
you, but I couldn't do it.
ANGEL I'll pack a few things then. We'll go . . . all right?
TOM (nods) All right . . . Jesus!
(ANGEL goes upstairs and begins packing a small
suitcase. After a moment SAM starts up after her.)
TOM Leave her alone, Sam.
SAM (viciously) Get out! Get out of my house!
TOM Not without her.
SAM I'll file suit, Tom. I'll sue your ass good--alienation
of affection. There's a precedent. I'll take
everything you've got.
TOM Then you'd better stock up on cat food, ole buddy
because one cat is all I've got, and it's a Siamese.
TOM Right, kitty litter too. You'll be needing some of
that. And face it, Sam: There hasn't been any affection
between you and Angel for years.
SAM I still won't let her go; it's a matter of principle.
TOM What are you going to do? Ground her! She can do as
she pleases. You can't stop her.
SAM By god we'll see about that!
(SAM lunges at TOM who dodges him and easily throws
him to the floor. SAM stays there for a moment hurt,
breathless, then he looks up. He seems close to weeping.)
SAM Goddamn you! Let me go, Tom. I'm drunk, and she is my
wife. Let me talk to her; that's all I want, just a few
minutes alone with her to talk this thing out. Don't I
have that right as her husband?
TOM It's too late for talk.
SAM (pleading) Tom, please! Just give me a chance. I'll admit
that things haven't gone well for a long time, but--but we
had some good years. There was some love--and the baby.
She wouldn't have made it through that on her own.
TOM You expect me to believe that?
SAM Tom, for chrissake, give me a chance. I love her in my
own way. I do!
TOM She hates you, Sam.
SAM Almost nine years. You can't just wipe that out without
a word whether there's any love left or not. Good or
bad, we've been a part of each other's lives for a long
time. I've got to see her, to talk to her. Please!
TOM Shit! (A beat.) Go on.
(SAM hurries upstairs. Tom goes to the bar, sits, then
wearily rests his head on his arms, exhausted. Upstairs,
SAM enters the bedroom where ANGEL is packing.)
SAM Put that away!
ANGEL Get out, Sam. Get out of my room and get out of my life.
SAM You're not leaving, not with him. He's not even a man.
ANGEL He's a human being, Sam, a decent human being. That's
more than you are, more than you've ever been.
SAM He's a loser, a born loser. He lost everything.
ANGEL Not me. He didn't lose me.
ANGEL Not for good. It just took us a while to get back
SAM He never had you. Never!
ANGEL He always had me, and he's going to have me now--for good.
SAM Over my dead body!
ANGEL Don't get dramatic, Sam.
SAM (more calmly now) So, Tom is going to take you away. Sweep
you away on a white stallion.
ANGEL I think I'm actually taking him away.
SAM Doesn't matter. (A beat.) And where is Tom going to
ANGEL He won't have to keep me; I can take care of myself.
SAM And poor Tom?
ANGEL If I have to.
SAM You're not going.
ANGEL Why? Why not? You don't love me.
SAM But I want you.
ANGEL "I want you." You sound like a recruiting poster.
SAM You mean so much to me.
ANGEL You're such a liar. The only thing that will suffer if
I leave is your vanity. You don't have any other real
(SAM goes to the bed and starts throwing her things
out of the bag.)
ANGEL Stop it!
SAM I said you're not going.
ANGEL The hell I'm not! I'll walk out of this house naked if
I have to. There's nothing in this house, in this life,
that I want.
SAM Yes there is, and you know right where it is.
SAM What's he got? (No response.) Huh? Nothing. Nothing!
That's what. And you're going to miss it baby. You're
going to miss it because you can't live without it. We
didn't have much, but we did have sex, sheer animal
desire, lust. And you're not going to be able to live
without it. I know you, and you know yourself. And it
will be different than with me; I didn't care how many
men you had, but every time you screw somebody else when
you're with Tom, you'll be kicking him in his empty crotch.
ANGEL (a little frightened) I pity you, Sam. I pity you
because you're so pitiless.
SAM Wrong, baby. Because I pity Tom if he takes you with
ANGEL He doesn't want your pity, doesn't need it.
SAM Or yours! And that's why you're going.
ANGEL (uncertain) No, I'm--I'm going because I love him.
SAM Love! Shit! You don't know the difference between love
and a hard cock.
ANGEL (charges him) That's not true.
(SAM grabs her.)
ANGEL I know. I know what love is.
SAM Do you now?
ANGEL Yes. Yes!
(SAM forces her hand to his crotch.)
SAM Then feel this, feel this love.
ANGEL Stop it!
SAM (viciously) What's that? Is that love? You feel that love?
ANGEL (struggling) Stop it! You son of a bitch. Let me go.
SAM You shut up!
(He slaps her and tears open her robe. She falls on the
bed with him standing over her.)
SAM Now I'm going to show you the only kind of love you know
anything about. And if you make a sound I'll kill you
and him too.
ANGEL No. No.
(SAM drops down on top of her, forcing her into
submission. The lights begin to fade slowly.)
SAM Feel that. Feel that love inside you. You can't get
that from him. You love it now baby, Admit it. You
love it. Love it! Love it!
ANGEL (weakly) No, no, I don't. No . . .
(The SCENE fades into darkness momentarily as the
lights come all the way down. There is a moment of silence
and blackness before the lights begin to come back
up. MUSIC can be used here to cover a short time lapse.
When the lights come up ANGEL is crumpled up on the
bedroom floor, crying. SAM is stretched out on the bed,
smoking, quietly, confidently. Downstairs, TOM enters from
the kitchen and goes to the stairs.)
TOM Angel. Angel! I took the roast out; it's burned . . .
Angel? You all right?
SAM That's your man calling.
SAM She's all right, Tom. Angel is just fine.
ANGEL I'm . . . coming, Tom.
(She rises, closes her robe the best she can and moves
to the stairs painfully. After a moment she goes
down, crying and trying not to cry.)
TOM What. . . ?
ANGEL I--I'm sorry, Tom. But I--I can't go with you.
TOM What? Why? What did he do to you?
(He tries to touch her.)
TOM He raped you!
ANGEL You'd better go.
TOM What?! No!
ANGEL Please, leave! Leave me alone. Go on.
TOM Not without you.
ANGEL I'm not going now. I can't.
TOM I won't leave you here, not after this.
ANGEL God, this is absurd. A moment ago you wouldn't have me.
TOM And you wouldn't leave without me.
ANGEL Sweet irony.
TOM Irony, bullshit. Get your things.
ANGEL Tom, you don't understand. I can't go with you now. Sam
was right; he made me see myself for what I really am.
TOM I don't care what you are. You'll be something
different with me than you are with him anyway. Now get
your bag, Angel.
ANGEL Tom, I 'm not the sweet angel you fell in love with
anymore. I might destroy you; you said so yourself. I
don't know that there isn't some kind of an unmitigated
lust for . . . something that I can't quite identify deep
within my being. I don't know if it's for sex or power
or control, but beneath this veneer of "respectability"
some deep craving is aching to be satisfied.
TOM I want you out of here anyway. You don't even have to
stay with me, but I want you out. I won't leave you
here for him to destroy like--
ANGEL (probing) Like he destroyed you?
TOM (reflects, then:) I know why I came here now. (A beat.)
It was for you, but not because I wanted you anymore; at
least I didn't know that when I came. I came to take you
from him. He took you from me when I was helpless. I
wanted to take you back. And I am, but it's still a poor
trade because my loss was so much greater than his. I
loved you. He doesn't, probably never has. He just
wanted to get at me anyway he could.
ANGEL Get back at you for what?
TOM Come with me, Angel. Not because I give a damn about
Sam now; I don't. But because I want and need you to.
Stay, he'll destroy you.
ANGEL What about you? Aren't you capable of being destroyed?
TOM I've already been destroyed. I need you to help me pick
up the pieces.
ANGEL I'll come then, because you need me. But I'll leave you
before I'll hurt you.
TOM That would hurt most of all.
ANGEL Then I'll stay, for as long as you need me.
(They embrace. Then she pushes away.)
ANGEL God, I feel so--dirty.
(TOM leads her to the table. There he wets a napkin in a
water glass and wipes her face and upper torso.)
(She nods and attempts a smile.)
(SAM enters from the stairs now. He is pulling up his
pants and buckling his belt.)
TOM You filthy bastard!
SAM Just showed her how much she needs a man, Tom. You
just won't be able to--fill the gap.
TOM You raped her!
SAM She's my wife, Tom. Man can't rape his wife. The law.
TOM She leaving anyway. Now. With me.
SAM Try to take her and I'll kill you both.
TOM (explodes) What with, Sam? A weapon? (He rushes to the gun
cabinet.) One of these? But you're afraid of guns, Sam!
Remember? They make you shake, make you cry!
SAM (viciously, frightened) Shut up! You shut up!
TOM What is it, Sam? You hear those rounds going off?
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Hear that? All around you--
VC firing out of the jungle. You can't see them. Bang!
Bang! Hear it!? Remember? See the rockets red glare?
The bombs bursting in air? See them! Remember?
SAM (shaken) All right. All right! Take her. I don't give a
goddamn about the slut. Just take her and shut up.
ANGEL What is it, Tom? What are you talking about?
SAM (desperately) Nothing! Lies! Nothing but lies!
ANGEL Tom, what happened? What happened over there?
SAM Nothing! Nothing happened! Now get the hell out. Go
ANGEL No! I want to know!
(TOM and SAM stare at one another; SAM is incredibly
anxious. Suddenly he breaks for the gun cabinet and
grabs the revolver he had hidden earlier. He comes at
TOM. ANGEL jumps between them.)
ANGEL Sam, no!
SAM Get away from him Angel!
(TOM pushes her away and SAM grabs her with is free arm.)
SAM You keep your mouth shut. Don't you say another word
you prickless bastard. Just get out before I kill you.
TOM Angel too?
SAM No! Angel stays. You get out.
(TOM starts for the door cautiously.)
SAM I'm doing you a favor, Tom, a big favor for an old war
buddy. You're just not equipped to keep this little
woman satisfied. If you--
(ANGEL elbows him hard in the abdomen, doubling him
over. TOM jumps him and they struggle until the gun goes
off harmlessly into the ceiling. Upon hearing the
shot SAM crumples onto the floor, frightened. TOM
grabs the revolver.)
TOM Now, one more game, Sam. I'm going to direct this time.
SAM What. What!?
TOM Another game! You asked for it, you bastard. Time for,
Sam in the bunker. You'll know how to play this one;
the script is already written; you know all the lines,
don't you? Don't you?
SAM Yeah, yeah, I know. But don't--don't make me play.
Please don't make me play, Tom. Take Angel and go; I
won't bother you. Go on. Please.
TOM No, by god, we're going to play this time. Angel's
going to find out just what kind of a hero you really
SAM Tom, I was afraid. Jesus! Pity me. Please!
TOM I don't have any pity left, not for you. That's what
your kind does to people--turns them into pitiless
creatures that claw and scratch and bite and hate until
they destroy anything and everything. You killed what
pity I had for you when you raped Angel. You made me
hate again, hate you and hate myself for hating. So
we're going to finish this game now. You started it;
it's got to end. (Point to plants.) Get in that bunker--
over there in the jungle.
SAM Tom. Please!
TOM Move it! Bang! Bang! Goddammit, move! Incoming! Hit
the deck! Hit it!
(They both dive to the floor, SAM near the plants,
TOM closer to the couch. ANGEL stands back and
watches, frightened and fascinated.)
TOM More incoming! Dig it, Sam! Dig it!
(SAM is confused, truly frightened and angry.)
TOM Get down, Sam. Get down in the bunker. I'm here in the
ditch, remember? Angel, here's the situation, and a
sorry one it is too. We're taking mortar and automatic
weapons fire from a treeline south of us. Sam is pinned
down in a bunker, me, here in a ditch. Between us the
VC have planted some booby traps--mines, staked pits,
snares all kinds of bad shit that I don't even want to
remember. We get orders to pull back, and start,
everybody but Sam in his hole. Okay, Sam, you take it
TOM Bang! Bang! Bang! Dig it, grunt! Dig it!
SAM Please stop, Tom. Please! I can't stand it.
TOM Bang! Bang! You start talking and I'll stop. Now go!
SAM Tom. Tom! Goddammit, I'm hit!
TOM How bad?
SAM Bad! Real bad! I can't move my legs; my legs won't
move. Help me!
TOM Shit, hang on . . . Corpsman! Corpsman!
(SAM is trembling now, reliving it.)
SAM Tom! Don't leave me. Don't leave me here!
TOM Hang on dammit! (A beat.) Christ! All right, I'm
coming over; put some heat in that treeline.
(TOM waits, fires himself, then runs to a position
closer to SAM and hits the deck.)
TOM Goddamn! I said to fire into that treeline. I nearly
got my ass shot off!
SAM (hunkering down) I can't. My weapon's jammed; it won't fire.
TOM Christ Almighty!
(Again TOM fires into the imaginary treeline. Then he
darts around the room dodging furniture and finally
dives into SAM'S bunker.)
TOM Son of a bitch. They're trying to kill me, and I don't
even believe in this fucking war. Damn you! (Turns to
SAM.) Where did you get--what the fuck? You're not hit!
You lousy bastard!
SAM Tom! Jesus, I'm scared; my legs won't work. I thought
I was hit; I swear. I thought I was hit. Help me!
Goddammit, help me!
TOM You think I'm not scared? You think I want to die in
this fucking hole. Get up!
SAM I can't.
TOM Can't my ass. Now move! Or you can stay here and take
this opportunity to give your life for your country.
SAM This isn't my country!
TOM It's not mine either, and while I don't have anything
against it personally, I sure as hell don't plan on
dying for it. Let's go!
SAM I'm telling you, I can't.
TOM Give me that! (Tom grabs SAM'S weapon.) I'll pin them
down while you make a run for it; otherwise you're gonna
die in this hole. (Fires.) Bastard! It's not jammed!.
SAM (begging) Tom, I can't move. I'm afraid.
TOM You dirty yellow bastard!
SAM That--that field you crossed. It's booby trapped;
Franklin got blown away.
TOM You know that and you called me over here?
SAM I'm hit! I need help.
TOM Liar! You're yellow. Now move!
SAM I can't! Franklin--he was there--and then he wasn't. I-
I can't do it. Help me!
TOM Fuck it. I'm leaving. You can stay if you want.
SAM No, Tom, don't leave me. Please! I beg of you.
TOM (thinks, then:) Shit! . . . If I get you out I may kill
SAM Just get me out.
(TOM fires into the treeline.)
TOM Get on.
(SAM struggles to his feet and climbs on TOM'S back
piggyback style. TOM fires again then starts across the
booby trapped area. Halfway across the room, he drops
the revolver, freezes, and yells.)
(He makes the noise of an explosion, yells, and falls,
clutching his crotch. SAM falls too, but he is not
seriously wounded. TOM'S body sheltered him from the
SAM I'm hit! I'm hit!
(TOM gets up slowly.)
TOM You just took some shrapnel in the ass; you weren't
hurt. You left me!
SAM No, no. I went for the Corpsman, Tom. I--I didn't
leave you; I swear it. And--and I fought off the VC.
They withdrew, fell back, ran away.
TOM They disappeared into the jungle because of an air
strike. And the Corpsman that found me was from Bravo
Company. You ran and left me to die.
SAM No, no! I--I sent for them, called in the air strike,
fought off the VC. I have medals; I'm a hero. My
country gave me medals.
TOM Crawl. Crawl you worm, crawl back into your hole.
(SAM starts crawling; then he collapses in a heap,
whimpering and shaking.)
ANGEL That's enough, Tom.
TOM He left me to die after . . .
ANGEL I know. I know . . . I thought he was a hero; I almost
even respected him for that.
TOM None of us were heroes, just soldiers of misfortune,
fighting the wrong war at the wrong time for the wrong
ANGEL He thought he was a hero; he told the story so often
that he began to believe it himself.
TOM He thought he was right; they all thought they were
right. (A beat.) Get your things. We're going.
(ANGEL starts for the stairs. As she does SAM
picks up the revolver, jumps up and rushes TOM. ANGEL
then moves behind SAM to the gun cabinet.)
SAM You son of a bitch. I'm going to kill you for that!
TOM Bang! Bang! Bang!
SAM Stop it! Goddammit it, stop!
TOM Bang! Bang! Incoming! Incoming!
(SAM manages to squeeze off a round that catches TOM in
the shoulder. TOM falls then struggles to his knees.
SAM is terribly frightened of TOM, of the gun, but he
still has it pointing at TOM'S head. ANGEL removes a
rifle from the cabinet.)
SAM You shouldn't have done that.
TOM Go on Sam, shoot me! But you won't kill it! You can't.
You can't kill it because it's not in me Sam, it's in
you! The poison is in you and your kind.
SAM I don't give a goddamn!
(SAM is trembling, trying to fire when ANGEL fires a shot
into the ceiling. SAM cringes then crumples to the
floor, moaning like some wounded animal, destroyed.
TOM looks over to ANGEL.)
ANGEL I had to destroy it: I had to destroy it before it
destroyed what little good is left in us.
TOM I know. I know.
ANGEL Now we can be whatever it was they we started out to be
so many years ago. (A beat.) We can be that, Tom,
TOM (nods) If we can remember what that was.
ANGEL (hopefully) I can . . . I remember now.
(ANGEL goes to TOM. Still on his knees he holds her
and she him as the lights begin to come down slowly.
The MUSIC begins again, low in the background. END ACT