Fatty & Skinny Go to War

                         FATTY & SKINNY

~ mythical figures from the non-indigenous dreamtime ~

                      GO TO WAR (1970-1980)


The 3rd play in the FATTY and SKINNY series:

1. "FATTY and SKINNY Go To Work (1950-1960)"
2. "FATTY and SKINNY Meet A Woman (1960-1970)"
3. "FATTY and SKINNY Go To War (1970-1980)"
4. "Vote 1 FATTY for PM (1980-1990)"
5. "FATTY and SKINNY Get Rich And Famous (1990-?)"

(c) Tim Gooding  May 2006



  • VIRGINIA LOPEZ, Sergeant, U.S. Army
  • GARY HO, Captain, Australian Army.
  • CHARLES P. BIRDSONG, General, U.S. Army.
  • RANI KHALED, Of Middle Eastern appearance.


Scene 1

(The sounds of battle rage around a lone sandbag parapet.

The guns fall silent.

A helmeted head appears above the parapet: RON aka FATTY. Aged 21. Rotund. Violent red hair and translucent pink eyelids. An antipodean Billy Bunter, bursting from his uniform.

He points a rifle erratically while devouring a cream bun.)

RON: Truce?

(A furious barrage answers his inquiry. He ducks down. The guns fall silent again. Ron's head does not reappear.)

RON: Not this time, Charlie!

(The guns stay silent. Ron's head appears. Disappears. Appears. Disappears. Appears. Scans. Is battle over?)

RON: Who won?

(A soldier, attached to a parachute, carrying rifle, drops from above: BRIAN aka SKINNY. Aged 21. Thin, weedy, tightly belted pants crinkle at his underdeveloped waist. Trousers too short, likewise shirt sleeves. Head and neck protrude from his collar like cartoon tortoise.

Ron shrieks as Brian lands atop him. They struggle, obscured by the parapet. To finish facing each other, rifles aimed.

RON: Brian?


RON: Skinny?

BRIAN: Fatty?

RON: Mate!

BRIAN: Mate!

(They exchange their secret handshake: Ron's fist hits down on Brian's fist, Brian's hits down on Ron's, then both hit own foreheads with own fists: the old ice cream cone joke. Brian injures his hand.)

BRIAN: Crap! Broke my thumb again.

RON: What are you doing here?

BRIAN: Conscription. The bloody lottery, mate. My birthday marble came out of the barrel. One chance in six?

RON: Bad luck.

BRIAN: They hollow out the marbles of the working class so they rise to the top. Mum wrote a note saying there was a mix-up and I was born the day before. They completely ignored her!

RON: You passed the medical? How come chalky bones didn't get you out?

BRIAN: They lowered the bar for coal miners. Mum wrote to the Prime Minister saying mining should be a Protected Occupation like in all the other wars. He wrote back saying his government was closing all the pits. But he's committed to full employment so he guarantees permanency to miners in the armed forces. Unless they get shot.

RON: War's easier than working in the pit, mate. My back's much better.

BRIAN: Are we winning?

(Ron closes his eyes)

RON: I see you and me turning the tide of tyranny. Propping up the first domino. Buying time for the seed of democracy to germinate. And a thousand new restaurants to bloom.

(A grenade rolls along the ground and stops in front of the parapet. Several double takes. Before Ron dives on the grenade.)

RON: Run, Skinny, run!

(Brian vacillates.)

BRIAN: Which way?

(Brian faints. Ron mutters a prayer..)

RON: For what we are about to receive..shite..our father which art in heaven..

(..as he awaits the explosion.

US Army Sergeant VIRGINA LOPEZ enters, with a clipboard.

LOPEZ: Mid 30s+. Straight-backed fine figure, possibly surgically enhanced. Possibly more mature than she looks. 

LOPEZ: (to Ron) You're dead, soldier. What's wrong with him?

RON: He's dead too.

LOPEZ: He's dead too, ma'am. On your feet, soldier.

RON: I'm shielding my mate from the grenade. Ma'am.

LOPEZ: On your feet! I don't like you, soldier. You're insubordinate and you're overweight. (bellows) At-ten-tion!

(Brian does not respond. Virginia cocks her pistol in Brian's ear. He leaps to his feet. Eyes closed. Hands in the air.)

BRIAN: Private Brian O'Brien. Brian with an 'a', O'Brien with an 'e'. Serial number 5639887. Third battalion, Australian infantry regiment. I'll tell you everything you want to know.

LOPEZ: God help us all. You're both liquidated.

BRIAN: What do we do now we're dead, ma'am?

LOPEZ: Lie still. Await further orders.

RON: Are we allowed to eat, ma'am?

LOPEZ: I guess that would be all right.

(Ron produces a paper bag of baker's delicacies.)

RON: Would you like a cream bun, ma'am? Or a pineapple donut? I've got baklavas and Turkish delight and florentines too. Australia is becoming a multicultural society.

(Virginia tries to resist temptation. Fails.)

Mmm. Oh. Mm-mm. How in hell did you get these out here?

RON: Brian cooks them himself.

BRIAN: As a thankyou for protecting me. I'm not supposed to be here. See under my nails? Flour. There's been a mistake.

RON: Pastry cooking should be a Protected Occupation.

(Ron offers Virginia another delicacy.)

LOPEZ: I'm on a diet.

RON: Me too.

BRIAN: What are you doing after the war, sarge? Maybe you and me could go into town.

RON: Maybe the three of us could go into town. Brian and me are mates.

BRIAN: I can roll a cigarette one-handed.

RON: I can see through my eyelids.

LOPEZ: God help us all.

(She exits. Ron and Brian sit, backs against the parapet.)

RON: I saw her first.

BRIAN: Love and war, mate.

RON: You get all the girls.

BRIAN: You get all the food.

RON: How come girls fall for a chalky-boned chicken?

BRIAN: I'm vulnerable.

RON: I'm vulnerable too.

BRIAN: You're addicted, not vulnerable. I've got a legitimate fear of everything. That's vulnerable.

(Ron takes out a photo of PHYLLIS WILLIS and gazes at it.)

BRIAN: Phyllis Willis. Queen of The Bay.

RON: She gave it to me when I shipped out.

BRIAN: She reckons she's strawberry blonde. I can't see any bloody strawberry. Not on her head, anyway.

RON: I can. Plump ripe strawberry.

BRIAN: I never got Phyllis Willis in the sand dunes, you know.

RON: I never got her in the dunes either.

BRIAN: Well, I did once.

RON: I know.

BRIAN: But I knew she was yours.

RON: She married the Mine Under Manager.

BRIAN: Only because she had to. They're divorced now. His family made her eat in the kitchen. On her own.

RON: Then she went to London and got her consciousness raised and became a part-time lesbian.

BRIAN: Is she why you shipped out?

RON: I want to see the world.

BRIAN: Can't be as good as The Bay. The Bay's the greatest little town god ever stuck legs on.

RON: Only seen this bit of the Northern Territory so far.

(Ron offers his baker's delicacies. Brian declines.)

BRIAN: My stomach shrinks when I'm scared. I still can't believe you volunteered.

RON: The PM said if we stop them over there, we won't have to stop them at The Bay.

BRIAN: Stop who?

RON: Whoever.

BRIAN: Over where?

RON: Wherever.

BRIAN: Asia, Africa, Middle East?

RON: Wherever.

BRIAN: Open country, jungle, desert?

RON: Shut up, Brian.

BRIAN: Could even be snow. Done snow before. Phyllis Willis's father lost his fingers and toes in Korea. And most of his ears. Couldn't hear the roof talking when he went back down the pit. So it fell on him.


BRIAN: I hope it's not mud. Done mud before. Wayne Burns's grandfather was on the Somme.

RON: Still is, isn't he?

BRIAN: Under it somewhere. Dry grassland's better. Done dry grassland before.

RON: Hughie Murdoch's father.

BRIAN: Hughie reckons the Boer was on the run until a Tsetse Fly got his old man. Hughie's dad said the Boer had domesticated the Tsetse and trained it to identify the military uniform of every single country in the British Empire.


BRIAN: What if it's suburban house-to-house fighting?

RON: There'll be fridges.

BRIAN: Wolfie Schimmelbush fought his way into Stalingrad. Then back out again.

RON: Wolfie reckons The Bay pit's a holiday after the Ruhr Valley pits.

BRIAN: I can't fight hand-to-hand. I've got chalky bones. Might be rocky coastal terrain. Done rocky coastal terrain before. Short Owen Jones. Gallipoli. Short Owen Jones The Jetty Hand?

RON: Red ragger. Led the 1958 stay in. Sang with the West Cessnock Lodge Choir. Tenor.

BRIAN: Great voice. And he shot a Turk. In Turkey.

(Ron closes his eyes.)

RON: I see Johnny Turk was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

BRIAN: Short Owen reckoned he sang as they went over the top and Johnny Turk loved music too much to kill him.

RON: They got the rest of his choir. And all those other blokes on the obelisk.

BRIAN: You reckon we'll get our names on the obelisk?

RON: I think it's full. They'll build another one. Have to.

BRIAN: I don't want my name on the obelisk.

RON: Stand side-on. Between the bullets.

BRIAN: Or hide behind you.

RON: Who am I going to hide behind?

BRIAN: A fat American. There'll be plenty bigger than you.

RON: The Americans eat well.

BRIAN: Did you see that guy that died - in Oklahoma I think - and they had to remove the house from around him?

RON: The Americans eat well.

BRIAN: Have we got tv here?

RON: In the Yank mess. Huge one. Quad surround sound.

BRIAN: Fantastic. The Oscars, mate. It's Oscars night. My sergeant will be feeling all emotional. And ready to roll.

(A grenade rolls in and stops. They look at each other. Ron dives on the grenade.


An explosion. Then the sound of massed helicopters.)

Scene 2

The sounds of battle rage around the lone sandbag parapet, now draped in the camouflage net of a different time/place. The guns gradually fall silent.
A helmeted head appears, with binoculars: Captain GARY HO, Australian Army.

HO: 40ish. Possibly O'HO, of Chinese/Irish parentage. Country town restaurant raised. Ex school prefect. Vain. Ambitious. Occasionally violent. Whistle round neck.

HO: Enemy in full retreat, sergeant.

(A second head, with binoculars: Sergeant Virginia Lopez.)

LOPEZ: Enemy in full retreat, general.

(A third head, with binoculars, Five Star General CHARLES P. BIRDSONG, U.S. Army.

BIRDSONG:: 55+. Career army man. Southern democrat, refined, gentleman, father figure, and lady-killer. Bespoke camouflage. Reads poetry.)

Birdsong is on a red phone.)

BIRDSONG: Enemy in full retreat, Mr President- 

(A furious barrage contradicts him. Three heads duck.

The parapet rotates. On casters. And we see the scene behind..

Hunkered down, Birdspong, Lopez, Ho, watch news coverage flickering on a small tv. All three are disturbed. Birdsong turns it off. )

BIRDSONG: No news.

(A pall of anguished, contemplative silence descends.  Birdsong extracts a small, antique book from his jacket.)

BIRDSONG: You like poetry, Lopez?

LOPEZ: Not unless it's an order, sir.

BIRDSONG: Helps me relax under pressure of command.

(A shell rips overhead and explodes nearby. Birdsong is unmoved.)

BIRDSONG: Ten minutes of Tennyson or Longfellow before bed, I sleep like a baby.

LOPEZ: I don't understand poetry, sir.

BIRDSONG: I only read poems I can understand. Ballads. Poems with stories. I dislike poems with themes. I endure themes if used as a peg on which to hang action and adventure.

(A huge explosion. Birdsong shows Lopez his book.)

BIRDSONG: "Poems Of Action". First Edition, 1913. Reprinted so often the plates have worn out. I carry copies in every pocket of my flak jacket. Poetry has saved my life, Lopez.

(A series of rocket screams, explosions, machine-gun fire.

Ron and Brian - broken thumb bandaged - enter running and dive over the parapet. Lopez and Birdsong draw pistols.)

RON: Privates Shipwater and O'Brien reporting as ordered, sir.

(Brian lies, apparently unconscious, on the ground.)

HO: They're ours, Sergeant.

LOPEZ: They're ours, General.

BIRDSONG: Is this man hit?

LOPEZ: Is this man hit?

HO: Is this man hit? Medic! Medic!

RON: Fainted, sir. It's chronic, sir. He's got a chalky heart, sir.

LOPEZ: This shooting war's one big joke to you, isn't it, soldier?

RON: Yes, ma'am! No, ma'am. War's no joke, ma'am.

LOPEZ: We'll see who's laughing when a chopper slam dunks you into a firefight slap bang in the middle of goddam hell nowhere surrounded by gooks and chinks and towelheads trying to decorate your uniform with your mate's brains.

RON: My mate doesn't have brains.

BIRDSONG: Are these men our volunteers, Captain Ho?

BRIAN: (reviving) No, sir. We definitely didn't volunteer, sir.

(He salutes and further injures his hand.)

BRIAN: Will that be all, sir? I think I've broken my hand.

RON: We were ordered to volunteer, sir. It's the Australian way.

BRIAN: Captain Ho was ordered to volunteer to order us to volunteer, sir.

BIRDSONG: Is that Aussie irony, soldier?

RON: It's full blown larrikinism, sir.

BRIAN: Captain Ho's orders came right from the top, sir.

BIRDSONG: I am the top, soldier.

HO: Aussie troops historically have a light rebellious streak, General Birdsong. But in a comforting paradox they're first over the top when the whistle blows in a foreign land.

RON: Not always, Captain Ho.

(Ron closes his eyes.)

RON: I see the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and not a digger in sight.

BRIAN: A blot on our service record, sir.

BIRDSONG: Is he doing the eyelid thing now?

RON: (eyes closed) The British Bulldog can't decide whose side we're on. The Royal Family Kraut connection? Or loose Frog women just across the channel? Pork knuckle and blackforest cake versus duck a l'orange and crepes normandes? I will go over the top for either menu. Both menus.

HO: Larrikinism, General. Shall I blow the whistle?

(Birdsong indicates 'wait'.)

HO: It will grieve the company greatly to lose these men.

BRIAN: Lose? As in not be able to find or as in send off to get killed? I'm unavailable. It's Oscars night. There's an Aussie up for best shoe shining.

BIRDSONG: Larrikinism, Captain?

HO: Larrikinism, General. I'll blow the whistle now, shall I?

(Birdsong indicates 'wait'.)

BIRDSONG: I want you men to know it's a great comfort to Uncle Sam he can always rely on the Aussies.

RON: Ever since the Battle Of The Coral Sea, General.

BRIAN: We saved your ass, sir.

BIRDSONG: I believe we saved your ass, private.

HO: They saved our ass, private. (re whistle) Now?

RON: We let you save our ass, General.

HO: Now?

LOPEZ: They let us save their ass, General.

BIRDSONG: Uncle Sam won't forget that.

LOPEZ: The Kiwis are a different matter.

BIRDSONG: Goddam Kiwis. Goddam those Kiwis! What's wrong with the spineless eye bugging tongue poking fuzzy wuzzies? Can't you keep them in line, dammit? They let the French sink their navy! Goddam surrender monkeys.
(to Ron) You can really see through your eyelids, soldier?

LOPEZ: Handy in a sandstorm, General. Or when an oil pipeline bursts.

RON: (aside, to Brian) Desert.

BRIAN: (aside, to Ron) Done desert before.

BIRDSONG: What do you see with your eyes closed, soldier?

(Ron closes his eyes.)

RON: Food, mostly. Food past, present, and future. Food in historical events. The Pigeon Pie left half-eaten on the table as Napoleon wins at Austerlitz. That sort of thing.

BRIAN: It's a gift.

RON: Other times I see sense. When there isn't any. Like saluting. Saluting doesn't make sense. It just looks stupid. Until I close my eyes.

BRIAN: I broke my hand saluting. And my ankle.

(He demonstrates, saluting while stamping his foot.)

BRIAN: Can I lean on you, sarge?

RON: Lots of things don't make sense, General. Until I look at them through my eyelids. Or vice versa.

BIRDSONG: Can you see why you're here, volunteering to go behind enemy lines, soldier?

RON: (eyes closed) I see a crowd of expensively-dressed people with perfect teeth being blindfolded and led at gunpoint onto a Jumbo Jet.

BIRDSONG: Extraordinary. Sergeant?

(LOPEZ pulls down a large rolled document - like a blind - fixed to the parapet. The document is a glossy matrix of studio photo portraits of Hollywood movie stars of the time.)

BIRDSONG: Do these expensively-dressed people with perfect teeth look familiar?

LOPEZ: You haven't seen the news?

BIRDSONG: The Academy Awards Ceremony has been delayed. Indefinitely. Because of a hostage situation.

(Pause. Realisation dawns.)

BRIAN: Holy shit! Are they all hostages?

BIRDSONG: We have ourselves An Incident.

BRIAN: Gooks and chinks and towelheads have taken Movie Stars hostage? From the Oscar Ceremony?

LOPEZ: Nominees and previous winners.

RON: Is Liz Taylor a hostage?

LOPEZ: Is she with Richard again?

BIRDSONG: Classified information, sergeant.

RON: They got Woody and Diane?

BRIAN: And Racquel!? And Clint? And Jane?

BIRDSONG: If they'd only nabbed Jane, we wouldn't worry, but the enemy has hostageed every manjack, every womanjack, every goddam personjack of a movie star in Hollywood except budding heartthrob Richard Gere who was boycotting the Academy Award Ceremony because of perceived inconsistencies in the nomination process. He sent a Tibetan refugee in his place. The kidnappers did not take the Tibetan. We suspect the enemy may be Tibet-friendly. So we're ruling out China.

RON: Ruling out China is good. Sir. In my opinion. There are a lot of Chinese. Narrows it down. (to HO) Nothing personal, sir.

HO: Now?

(Birdsong indicates 'wait'.)

RON: Are you related to the Ho who runs the Westward Ho Chinese Cafe in Belmont?

HO: Now?

(Birdsong indicates 'wait'.)

HO: Have the Hollywood hostage takers made any demands, General?

BIRDSONG: No communication has been received from the kidnappers. Only from the kidnappees.

LOPEZ: A massive ten minute spike in phone activity followed the attack on Graumann's Chinese Theatre, but the publicists contacted were given no information by clients on their whereabouts, just on the swirling emotions they felt. After which California phone lines went eerily quiet.

BIRDSONG: The commandeered Jumbo Jet, personal property of Mr Travolta, was tracked over the Pacific until it vanished from radar screens over the Gulf Of Tonkin.

LOPEZ: The Gulf Of Tonkin.

BIRDSONG: The Gulf Of Tonkin.

HO: The Gulf Of Tonkin.

BIRDSONG: Vietnam.


BIRDSONG: Vietnam.

HO: Vietnam.

BIRDSONG: We're ruling out Vietnam. We kicked Cong ass. No way Charlie wants seconds. That Jumbo-load of talent flew right over the Nam and kept on going. It will be sitting on a tarmac in the Jordanian desert or at Entebbe or Mogadishu airport or on some goddam football field in Teheran with a load of semtex up its tail.

LOPEZ: Your mission is go undercover, west of Vietnam, and learn where the hostages are being held.

BIRDSONG: And in particular report any sign of oil pipeline construction activity headed in a Sino-Soviet direction.

(The second mission is a surprise to Lopez and Ho.)

BIRDSONG: Bundling of missions, Lopez. Just by the by, soldier, can you see where the price of OPEC oil is headed?

RON: (eyes closed) Up? A long way up?

BIRDSONG: Extraordinary.

BRIAN: Ron saw the first lamb price shock ten years before it happened.

BIRDSONG: Extraordinary. Thank god he's on our side, eh, Lopez?

RON: How far west of Vietnam do we go?

LOPEZ: It's all in here, soldier.

(Lopez hands Brian a sealed document pouch.)

RON: You know if you keep going west of Vietnam you end up east of Vietnam again?

LOPEZ: You may need to check out Cuba, Chile, Bolivia, Grenada, and several small central American nations as well. The complete list is in the pouch.

BIRDSONG: I don't need to tell you there is every chance you will not return. But you will not return as heroes. You will not return as martyrs.

BRIAN: Will we be rewarded in heaven with virgins?

BIRDSONG: Forty. Each. Latest estimate from U.S. Army Biblical Interpretation Service. It's all in the pouch.

BRIAN: Forty's not going to last long.

HO: Larrikinism, General. Now?

BIRDSONG: Freedom is the only virgin worth laying down your life for, soldier.

BRIAN: Will you miss me, Sarge?

(He one-handedly rolls a cigarette with flirtatious deftness.)

BRIAN: Imagine you're a cigarette. Out on the town with me.

LOPEZ: A hostage identification kit is included your document pouch.

(Birdsong salutes. Ron/Brian. Brian re-injures his hand. Ho blows the whistle. Ron and Brian exit. Birdsong opens his book of poetry.)

BIRDSONG: A few lines on bravery and sacrifice seem appropriate:

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward
All in the Valley of Death
Rode the six hundred
'Forward the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!', he said
Into the Valley of Death
Rode the six hundred..

Scene 3

(Ron and Brian enter dressed like Lawrence of Arabia and King Feisal. Brian's injured hand is now in a sling. Ron lugs a backpack and studies a map. He indicates a direction and walks. Brian limps after him.
The parapet moves off in the opposite direction as they walk..

They trudge on. Across endless sand. Ron takes a jumbo pack of potato crisps from his backpack.)

BRIAN: Those things will make you thirsty, mate.

(Ron crunches on. Causing Brian to reach for a beer in his pack.)

BRIAN: Shite! The beer's boiled!

(He activates a radio-telephone. In vain. Again. Again.)

BRIAN: Hello? Red Cross? Hello? Care Australia? Medecins Sans Frontieres? St Vincent de Paul?

(They crawl on, slowly, to the sound of crunching chips.)

BRIAN: Seen enough of the world yet? Why don't we just desert, mate? Piss off back to The Bay. The bloody beautiful blue Pacific Ocean, mate. Phyllis Willis, mate. She's waiting for you in paradise, mate.

RON: She's become a lesbian.

BRIAN: It won't last.

(Ron stops. Brian bumps into him. Ron closes his eyes and deploys binoculars.)

RON: I see a strawberry blonde in a white gown. She stands on a dune. She wears a blue sash which says "Civilization". Forty thousand horsemen charge across a sea of sand below, to defend her.

BRIAN: Heat's getting to you, mate. It's a mirage.

RON: She looks straight at me and says "Women of The Bay say 'Go!'

(Ron crawls on, lured by the vision. Brian trails.)

BRIAN: You can bloody volunteer all you like but I'm a deserter by nature.

(Ron stops. Brian bumps. Ron closes eyes, deploys binoculars.)

RON: I see a strawberry blonde in a white gown wearing a sash saying "civilization". She is dragged away in chains by ape men in military uniform with evil yellow eyes.

BRIAN: It's a mirage. We're larrikins, mate. Rebellious colonial upstarts. No respect for authority.

RON: She looks right at me and says "Save me from the Barbarians!"

(Ron crawls on, lured by the vision. Brian trails.)

BRIAN: I'm a chicken. Bok bok. But I'm a proud chicken. A proud chicken doesn't blindly follow orders from colonial masters. Yes, sir, General Rooster sir, how far up the bum, General? Bok bok.

(Ron stops. Closes eyes. Deploys binoculars. )

RON: I see a strawberry blonde in a white gown, wearing a sash saying "civilization" standing on a large map of The Bay. Fat red arrows move down from Asia and jab at her body.

BRIAN: "Sure, mate, we'll fight your war for you. Where's she on at?"

(Ron crawls on. Brian trails.)

BRIAN: We're getting a forelock longer than Rapunzel's plait.

(Ron stops. Closes eyes. Deploys binoculars.)

RON: I see a strawberry blonde with no clothes on. She swims in a limpid pool. Backstroke. Eating a cream horn. She looks at me and says "Come on in, the water's fine!"

(Ron crawls on, faster. Brian stays put, exhausted.)

BRIAN: We can desert with honour, mate. It's a mirage. It's all a mirage.

(A single palm tree and pond - on casters - enters, opposite. Ron dives at the pond, slakes his thirst. Brian joins him.)

BRIAN: So where's the strawberry blonde?

(Ron extracts a rainbow cake from his backpack and relaxes against the palm. Brian displays two beers.)

BRIAN: Only two beers left. How do you want to divvy them up?

(He puts the beers in the pond. Tries the radio-phone. Static.)

BRIAN: Bloody Telecom Mesopotamia or Asia Minor Major or Whereverthehellistan we are. Privatise the bastards.

(Ron applies zinc cream to his nose. Takes fishing line from backpack. Deploys in the pond. Kicks back with cake and beer.)

RON: This is the life, Skinny? Don't say I don't look after you.

BRIAN: You can have both beers if you let me go back to The Bay.

RON: This is just like The Bay. Sun, sand, fishing, a million miles from buggery, and no-one knows we're here.

BRIAN: There might be a whole Non-English-Speaking-Background tribe just over that dune. How do NESBYs know we're on their side? What if they're cannibals? NESBY cannibals. NESBY homosexuals. NESBY homosexual cannibals. Who don't wash or use paper and carry germs. All of the above. We're adrift in a sea of cultural differences, mate. It's nothing like The Bay at all. I want to go home.

(The sound of a large plane. Ron deploys binoculars.)

BRIAN: Is it Travolta's?

(A Red Cross parcel lands on top of Brian. Ron opens it.)

RON: It's a survival pack.

(The pack contains an array of packaged takeaway goodies: McDonalds; KFC; Pizza Hut; Coca-Cola; Wendys..

Ron settles under the date palm to consume.)

BRIAN: There's more to life than lying in the sun stuffing your face, mate. There's more to life than gluttony and self-gratification.

RON: You're disturbing the fish.

BRIAN: This all there is, is it? What about the mind, mate? Where's the library? Where's the art gallery? Where's the opera house?

RON: It's all shit then you die. Pizza? Chicken? Fries?

BRIAN: Nervous stomach.

RON: Does The Bay have a library?

BRIAN: That's my point. The Bay doesn't need a library. You can live a rich life in The Bay without going to a library. The Bay is a library. A library of life. The good life.

RON: It is quiet.

BRIAN: And you can go to the Swansea library if you need to. So..you don't feel there's something missing?

RON: Burley, maybe.

(Ron throws small pieces of rainbow cake on the water.)

BRIAN: I mean something spiritually important. Something life-affirming. Like a woman. There's a woman-shaped hole in your life, mate. What if I got you a woman? Could we go back to The Bay then? A pretty one. Scantily clothed and wriggly. Not looking for commitment. Pushing a wheelbarrow full of sugary exotic food for the trip back to The Bay. Where she wants to settle down and bear you sons. Have we got a deal?

(Ron is asleep.

Night falls.

Morning. The sun rises on Ron, asleep, fishing line attached to toe. He wakes with a jolt.)

RON: Brian! Got a bite! Get the net. Brian?

(Brian is absent. Ron gets another bite. A BIG bite.)

RON: Whoa! Brian!? Skinny?

(Ron reels in, slowly. Whatever is on the end is no sardine.)

RON: Let him run, Ron. No rush. Let him run. Bloody Skinny. Gone scuttling back to The Bay, have you? Brian!

(Reeling in takes time.)

RON: He's big, Ron. He's bloody big, Ron. Just let him run, Ron. SKINNY! I need the net! And a ton of chips! Haa! You'll get yourself captured, mate! You'll fall into the hands of people who don't eat bacon and don't drink beer. He's tiring, Ron. Hang in there, Ronnie. I'm not saving your chalky arse this time, Skinny mate! Not for all the cream buns in the Milky Way! I'll be filleting this with a chainsaw!

Ron sees his catch before we do. His jaw drops.)

RON: BRIAN:! I've hooked a bloody mirage!

(RANI: KHALED is not a mirage.

RANI:: 19-20. Local female. Exotic, veiled, clad not unlike Aladdin's girlfriend. Touch of Dorothy Lamour..

RANI: rises from the pond, or enters from behind the oasis, with Ron's hook through a gold navel ring. She belly-dances, smiling, on the end of the line. Obviously not in pain.)

RON: You've got to be a mirage.

I am Rani Khaled.

RON: Brian! I've hooked a bloody middle eastern mermaid!

RANI: I do not please you?

You please me. You please me. Are you sure you're not a mirage?

(Brian enters pushing a barrow of exotic delicacies.)

BRIAN: Supplies for the trip home.

(He sees Rani.)

BRIAN: Man, what'd you use for bait?

(He initiates a congratulatory secret handshake.)

RANI: What is this ritual, please?

BRIAN: Secret handshake. Men only. (to Ron) Remember our deal?

RON: No.

BRIAN: You were asleep. Me and Rani ran into each other in a local bar.

RANI: Your friend has told me all about you, Ron.

(Ron takes an official list from the document pouch.)

RON: What bar, Brian?

BRIAN: The Alhambra Bar and Cous Cous House.

RON: Give us a moment, Rani? Men's business.

(Ron takes Brian aside.)

RON: It's on the list. Number four. Number four on the US Government List of Known Terrorist Bars.

BRIAN: Typo. Gotta be. The Alhambra's a very friendly bar. No grog but nice sweet tea and funny cigarettes. That Rani's a hottie, mate.

RON: What if she's a Honey Trap?

BRIAN: Fall in, mate. Jump into the honey. Splash. Mm, sweet. You're on, Rani.

RANI: You do not like me?

RON: I like you. I like you.

RANI: I cannot go back.

BRIAN: She's on the run from an oppressive male-dominated environment.

RANI: I am promised in marriage to an old man who has wooden teeth. I am running away to become a dentist.

BRIAN: Against her father's wishes. She'll be stoned to death.

RANI: My mother helped me to escape because she too has wooden teeth.

BRIAN: Her brothers will tear out our livers and eat them while we watch.

RANI: This is not true. My brothers eat only halal meat.

RON: With wooden teeth?

RANI: Only my mother has wooden teeth. The men have gold teeth.

BRIAN: What's to stop them killing us halal style?

RANI: It is true they will come looking. May I go with you, Ron?

RON: You're an attractive intelligent woman, Rani. But our nations are at war.

RANI: I will wait for you in The Bay until the war is over. I will sweep your floors and study the books of dentistry.

RON: What's this about The Bay?

BRIAN: Give us a moment, Rani? Men's business.

(Brian takes Ron aside.)

BRIAN: Have you seen what's in this barrow? Toffee-glazed unborn baby goat sweetmeats. Crispy-skin Wild Dove of Peace drumsticks. Hand-fed Babylon duck stuffed with sugared oranges and lemons, scented with Sahara wildflowers. Followed by sticky Nebuchadnezzar Date Pudding with unbridled camel cream and a carob wedge. Palm-threshed Euphrates rice tart, casing of ground Tigris almond pastry. Pineapple and grapefruit cheesecake Aly Khan with Rita Hayworth mint sprinkles. Red Sea coconut and Kabul vanilla-bean smoothies mixed in the shell while still on the tree. Runs burnt onion rings round that survival pack.

RON: (tempted) Turkish Delight Traffic Lights in three western flavours.

BRIAN: The old and the new. The products of a land steeped in history, now forging a progressive future.

RON: (sorely tempted) Aged Arafat halva with pistachios and wild honey, "hand made by virgins in support of the PLO".

(Ron selects. BRIAN: returns the selection to the barrow.)

BRIAN: Not until we're out of here. That's the deal. Think of the barrow as a sort of dowry.

RON: What deal? What dowry?

BRIAN: Harem-picked fig and grape jelly with mothers milk icecream.

RON: Dark choc-dipped Saracen bananas martyred by white chocolate Crusader arrows. What deal? What dowry?

BRIAN: You were asleep. All this plus the best-looking chick west of Vietnam. Who knows the way out of this hellhole. Let's rip back to The Bay and open a restaurant. I'll cook, you taste, she can dance.

RON: We're on a military mission.

BRIAN: It's not our war. Look at her, mate. All she wants is a chance at a new life. All you have to do is play with her affections until she gets us out of here. Then you can drop her and eat yourself stupid. You're on, RANI:.

(Brian starts off with the barrow. Ron shows Rani the Hollywood Hostages i.d. chart.)

RON: Do you recognise any of these people?


BRIAN: You will when the war's over and the world has been made safe for the free market.

RON: Have you heard of Hollywood?

RANI: Oh yes. Hollywood is near The Bay?

RON: What has he told you about The Bay?

RANI: The Bay is the greatest little town your god ever stuck legs on. I am looking forward to The Bay.

RON: What else did Brian promise?

BRIAN: Arab movie stars will be big in the U.S. That's the way the market works. It's a global win win situation, Rani.

RON: You didn't know these people have been taken hostage?

RANI: They are worth a lot of money?

RON: More than your country's GDP. Until the pipeline goes through, anyway.

RANI: What is the pipeline?

RON: (points, eyes closed) That pipeline.

(Brian and Rani look, but see nothing.)

BRIAN: We need to get you out of the heat.

RANI: It is a mirage, yes?

RON: (eyes closed) I see a pipeline crossing the sand from horizon to horizon.

BRIAN: Ours, theirs, or the Oil Fairy's? He also sees Strawberry Blondes. Give us a moment? Men's business.

(He takes Ron aside.)

BRIAN: Mate.

RON: She's a Honey Trap. There's no way she hasn't heard of a pipeline running through the middle of her country.

BRIAN: There is no pipeline. It's a desert. You're seeing what Birdsong wants you to see. He's infected you with his Cold War paranoia, mate.

RON: There's no way she doesn't know the Sexiest Man In The World. Or Mel. Or Dustin. Or Clint.

BRIAN: They don't have supermarkets here? No magazines at cashout?

RON: She doesn't know the Multiple Oscar Winner with the Toy Boy Lover? Or Cher or Meryl or Raquel or Jane?

BRIAN: It's long odds. But I believe her. Look at her. It's even longer odds a girl with eyes like that is telling porkies. She's no honey trap. At worst she's a spectacularly good-looking queue jumper.

RON: What else did you promise her?

BRIAN: I promised I'd see what I can do about freeing her from tyranny. Ok, where are we?

(Brian takes a map from the pouch and shows it to Rani. She turns the map the right way up.)

RANI: We are here. Your friend does not like me?

(Ron finds a coloured bead in the sand.)

BRIAN: Girls in The Bay gave him a hard time so he's afraid of commitment. But he's coming round to you.

(Ron finds more beads. Forming a trail, leading off.)

BRIAN: What's the shortest line between here and The Bay?

RANI: Where is The Bay?

BRIAN: It's not on the map. That's why it's such a top place. The Bay's way down here.

(Ron returns to covertly inspect Rani, seeking the source of the beads. She is pleased by his seeming new interest in her.)

RANI: You are coming round to me, Ron?

RON: Give us a moment? Men's business.

(He takes Brian aside.)

RON: I found these beads in the sand. Rani dropped them. For her brothers to find.

BRIAN: No, mate. Frayed string. Gotta be.

(Loud gunshots, off. Followed by bloodcurdling screams, off. From all directions. Surrounding them.)

RANI: My brothers.

BRIAN: How many?

RANI: Eight.

(Another bloodcurdling scream.)

RANI: Plus my father.

(Another bloodcurdling scream.)

RANI: And Uncle Hakim.

(They flee. The oasis flees in the opposite direction.

The sound of a helicopter. The wind of its rotor.)

BRIAN/RON: Down here!

(The chopper lands, off. Lopez enters, in flying gear.)

BRIAN: Sarge! Save me!

(Lopez regards Rani with suspicion. Then guides them to the chopper, off. It ascends. Bloodcurdling screams. Gunshots.)

Scene 4

(Ho lesds Rani, handcuffed, into a cell. The door clangs shut.

Lopez leads Brian - handcuffed, arm in sling, hobbling on Red Cross crutch - into a second cell. The door clangs shut.)

BRIAN: We're allies! We're the 51st state! We saved your ass in Nam!

LOPEZ: Who's the girl, soldier? I thought I was your rollie.

(Birdsong leads Ron, handcuffed, into a third cell. Birdsong carries a tray of pastries. The door clangs shut.

BIRDSONG: Who's the girl, soldier?

(Birdsong tucks into the pastries, with intent to torture Ron.)

BIRDSONG: Who's the girl, soldier?

RON: She's a honey trap. Sir.

BIRDSONG: She's a very attractive woman, soldier. What did you tell her?

RON: Nothing. Sir.

BIRDSONG: No pillow talk? No secrets blurted out at the climactic moment?

RON: We didn't have relations, sir.

BIRDSONG: Mm. These are delicious. Are you saying you did not have relations with that woman?

RON: Yes, sir. No, sir. I'm a virgin, sir. It's a long story.

BIRDSONG: Isn't that a real good reason to have relations if they're on offer? Isn't that the recognised m.o. of a honey trap? Isn't an H.T. trained to pick the virgin in a battalion?

RON: I suspected she was a spy from the start. So I wasn't fooled.

BIRDSONG: What about your pal O'Brien? Did he have relations with her?

RON: No, sir.

BIRDSONG: I have reliable information that O'Brien fancies himself as a pants man. Would you like a donut?

RON: I'd love a donut, sir.

(Birdsong places a donut just out of Ron's reach.)

BIRDSONG: Think carefully, soldier. You maintain O'Brien did not have relations with that woman? Two donuts? They're delicious.

(Meanwhile, in Brian's cell...Lopez prepares a large hypodermic syringe.)

BRIAN: I'm ready to talk.

LOPEZ: You haven't had the injection.

(She injects him.)

BRIAN: You have beautiful eyes.

LOPEZ: So does Rani Khaled.

BRIAN: Not as beautiful as yours, sarge. Rani has the eyes of a spy. And the body of a honey trap. I knew from the moment we met in the Alhambra Bar and Cous Cous House that she was a spy, struggling with an attraction to me. I bought her a mint tea and set about honey trapping the honey trap, sarge.

LOPEZ: You deployed the charm offensive?

BRIAN: I played hard to get, Sarge.

LOPEZ: Was that difficult?

BRIAN: It was a military manoeuvre.

LOPEZ: Treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen?

BRIAN: Wow. Serum's really coming on now. I think I love you, sarge. Can I call you Veronica?

LOPEZ: My name is Virginia.

BRIAN: Can I smell your hair?

LOPEZ: You're a sweet guy, Brian, but you're full of horseshit.

BRIAN: Take off my chains, Victoria. I want to kiss you. Let me kiss you.

LOPEZ: Sodium pentathol seems to work in reverse with you, buddy.

BRIAN: Let's get married. Right now. And fly away in your chopper, back to The Bay. You'll love The Bay. I can cook. I'm a fantastic cook. Captain Ho gave me his mother's recipe for birds' nest soup.

(Lopez slaps him.)

LOPEZ: Wake up, soldier.

BRIAN: You broke my cheekbone, sarge.

LOPEZ: You're facing life in here. You have to give me something.

BRIAN: I give you my heart, my soul, my everything.

LOPEZ: Whose idea was it to go to the Alhambra? To consort with the enemy?

BRIAN: What did Ron say?

LOPEZ: I only date men who tell the truth.

BRIAN: Kiss me, sarge. And I'll tell.

(They kiss.)

BRIAN: It was Ron's idea.

(Meanwhile, in Ron's cell...the inducements pile up.)

BIRDSONG: Plus an imported Aussie cream bun with neapolitan ripple mock cream. Tell the truth and you can chow down. Why was O'Brien in the Cous Cous House? Would you prefer to punch a chad in privacy? Don't lose weight for a traitor, son. What if I throw in a Wendy's thickshake?

RON: Skinny - Brian - isn't a traitor.

BIRDSONG: He sure as hell wasn't in the Alhambra just to pick up tail. We have information he was passing information to the enemy.

RON: Brian wasn't ever in the Alhambra. I was.

BIRDSONG: What if I told you he says it was him?

RON: He wouldn't say that.

BIRDSONG: Not even to protect you?

RON: No. It's my job to protect him. He has chalky bones. It's his job to get me food.

BIRDSONG: Are you protecting him now?

RON: Yes. No.

BIRDSONG: What were you doing in The Alhambra?

RON: Following orders, sir.

BIRDSONG: The Nuremberg defence. It didn't work for the Nazis and it won't work for you.

RON: They were your orders, sir.

BIRDSONG: You'll have to do better than that, soldier.

(Meanwhile, in Rani's cell...)

RANI: I do not know anything. The thin man promised he would help me leave my country.

HO: What else did the thin man promise you, Ms Khaled?

RANI: The thin man promised me the fat man would marry me.

HO: Was the fat man aware of the thin man's promise?

RANI: The fat man and the thin man do not tell each other the truth, I think.

HO: Did the thin man promise you anything else?

RANI: The thin man promised that if I married the fat man, I would get a visa and live in The Bay with the fat man.

HO: That's not going to happen.

RANI: I will bear him many sons.

HO: You expect me to believe a good looking enemy combatant like you would have children by that fat red-haired fool?

RANI: I am not an enemy combatant.

HO: Do you find me good-looking, Ms Khaled?

RANI: What will happen to the fat man and the thin man?

HO: If you co-operate, they will be released and immediately returned to their families in The Bay.


Ho joins Birdsong and Lopez. Salutes.)

HO: The hostages are being held in a disused pre-revolution cinema converted to a house of torture, general. Life in the desert has given the enemy a dry perspective. Khaled has agreed to lead us to them. She says my men know nothing. About anything. I believe her.

BIRDSONG: Thank God.

LOPEZ: Thank God.

BIRDSONG: Nice work, Captain. Go get yourself a beer.

HO: Thankyou, sir.

(HO salutes and exits.)

BIRDSONG: Man's a goddam Chinese-Irish idiot.

LOPEZ: General?

BIRDSONG: The only thing inside that old movie house are celluloid memories, Lopez. And a ton of high explosive rigged to a trip wire at the box office. The Khaled woman knows nothing.

LOPEZ: She's not a spy?

BIRDSONG: Of course she's a spy. She's a spy who knows nothing. Khaled is a tiny morsel of chum, sergeant. Burley. Sweet smelling free range pussy bait. Used by Cold War powers to troll the murky waters of their sphere of influence for fish of a different colour.

LOPEZ: I don't understand, General.

BIRDSONG: The way it's meant to be, Lopez. Privates Obese and Anorexic are know-nothing burley too. Two sprats to catch a mackerel.

LOPEZ: What kind of mackerel, General?

BIRDSONG: Sino-Soviet mackerel. We're going in, Lopez. We have An Incident. We're going into that sea of sand to lay a pipeline. We suspect our Trabant-driving adversaries have the same idea. So we're deploying a school of bait to test the desert waters first. And what do my two hook? An anchovy with tits. Goddam perfect. Do you like the movies?

LOPEZ: Yes, sir?

BIRDSONG: There is a screening in my quarters tonight.

LOPEZ: Is that an order, sir?

BIRDSONG: Of course not. I am a gentleman.

LOPEZ: I'll take a rain check, General. With all due respect.

BIRDSONG: It's bigger than Ben Hur, Lopez.

LOPEZ: Will that be all, General?

BIRDSONG: That will be all.

(As Lopez exits, Birdsong produces an unmarked video case.)

BIRDSONG: Star-studded cast, Lopez. In the funniest goddam Oscar night blooper tape you ever saw. Top secret.

(Lopez stops. Reconsiders.)

Scene 5

(Three way split scene. Simultaneously:

Ron and Brian share a cell. In high spirits. Ho enters with newspapers, slab of beer, and tray of Ron's favourites.

Birdsong  - in boxer pj's - and Lopez - in flimsy nightie - share a bed and watch video of "The Incident".

Rani remains in solitary.)

BIRDSONG: Watch this bit! Watch this bit! Sly bites his balaclava to stop from laughing! It ain't funny, pal! It's a serious incident!

(Birdsong laughs himself silly. Lopez watches with concern.)

BRIAN: (re newspaper) We're heroes! Rani is Number 3!

(Ron, more interested in the food, tucks in with gusto.)

BRIAN: We captured Number 3 on the US Government List Of Known Honey Traps!

HO: Khaled has confessed to everything. Well done, men.

(Birdsong points at the screen.)

BIRDSONG: This bit! The Duke's supposed to beg the kidnappers for mercy but he forgets the line! It's "I don't want to die", schmo! He gets ten million a picture!

RON: When do they set us loose on honey traps one and two, sir?

HO: Allied Supreme Command believes you are more useful in the public eye. You are going home tomorrow.

(Cheers. The secret handshake.)

HO: You will be welcomed at the airport by the Prime Minister and the U.S. Ambassador who will present you each with Orders of Australia and Congressional Medals of Honour. Victoria Cross recommendations have been forwarded to the Queen. It's a formality. You'll be back in The Bay, highly decorated, tomorrow night.

(A little song and dance: "Come Back To The Bay.")

RON/BRIAN:  (sing) Come back to The Bay, Where the ocean waves play, And there's coal to be found, Five mile underground..

LOPEZ: (points at screen) Is that..is that Marlon?

(Birdsong puts a hand on Lopez's breast.)

BIRDSONG: Watch him swallow a sandfly in the middle of denouncing The Great Satan!

RON: What will happen to Khaled?

HO: She'll be tried and her papers marked "Never To Be Released".

LOPEZ: Excuse me, General. Which way is the washroom?

BIRDSONG: Don't be long. We're coming to the best bit.

(Lopez exits. She enters Ron/Brian's cell. Still in her nightie.)

BRIAN: Sarge! We're heroes. We captured an enemy spy! Now will you marry me?

LOPEZ: Khaled's not a spy.

RON: She confessed. Have an Èclair.

BRIAN: She's number three on the Mata Hari List! It says so here!

LOPEZ: There is no list. There is no hostage situation. There will be a pipeline. We're going in. Khaled knows nothing. She confessed and shattered her dream of becoming a dentist just to save your skins.

HO: I didn't hear anything. Nobody told me. I wasn't here.

BRIAN: I'm with him.

(Ho exits. Ron prevents Brian leaving with him.)

RON: Our skins aren't saved any more?

LOPEZ: I didn't say that.

BRIAN: Deploy the rapid extrication strategy, mate.

RON: You're letting Rani go too?

LOPEZ: I didn't say that either.

BRIAN: She'll be fine. She wants us to go, mate. You said yourself the food's not bad in here.

(Birdsong enters. In pj's. Lopez salutes.)

BIRDSONG: You're a long way from the washroom, sergeant.

LOPEZ: I wanted to say goodbye to the boys, sir.

BRIAN: Bye, Sergeant Lopez. Great working with you. Just great. (salutes) General. Pleasure to serve under you.

LOPEZ: Have a safe flight. Bye now.

BRIAN: If you find yourself in The Bay, don't hesitate to knock. Let's go, Ron. Phyllis Willis's been hanging out for a hero. Now she's got one.

(Brian tries to lead Ron out, Lopez to lead Birdsong..)

RON: General Birdsong, I have come into possession of certain information -

BRIAN: I can hear The Bay calling, mate. (sings)  Come back to The Bay, Where the ocean waves play, And there's coal to be found, Five mile underground..

LOPEZ: We have unfinished business, General. Have I told you it's a pleasure to serve under you?

(She blows in his ear, or similar, still leading him out.)

BRIAN: Sarge?

RON: General Birdsong?

(Lopez blows in Birdsong's ear, or similar, again. Birdsong pinches her bottom in return, or similar.)

BRIAN: Sarge?

RON: General Birdsong?

LOPEZ: Off you go, boys. Go home. Go home.

(Both parties almost make it out...then RON closes his eyes.)

RON: I see Rani Khaled.

BIRDSONG: Is he doing the eyelid thing again? Are you doing the eyelid thing again?

RON: I see two reporters from the Washington Post.


Clang! A cell door slams shut.)

Scene 6

(Ron and Brian share a cell. Food trays on their knees support a single plastic container and plastic spoon.)

BRIAN: We were back in The Bay! We were heroes! You could nicky the rust in a Valiant with this stuff.

RON: Can I have yours?

BRIAN: Do you think anyone back home knows where we are?

RON: Do you know where we are? The Bay doesn't care, mate. I'm fat and you've got chalky bones.

BRIAN: At least they put us in mutual solitary. At least we're together.


BRIAN: What are you thinking about?

RON: What are you thinking about?


BRIAN: I'm thinking about Sergeant Lopez. With no clothes on. With the General!

RON: Don't torture yourself, mate.

BRIAN: How could she?

RON: Promotion.

(Ron closes his eyes. His face brightens.)

RON: I see Phyllis Willis's underwear.

BRIAN: Is she wearing it?

RON: (eyes closed) It's late morning. Her underwear flutters in a light, salty nor'easter.

BRIAN: You'd like to be that breeze.

RON: (eyes closed) Her underwear is drying on the line. Beach sand blows free from her knickers. Phyllis Willis is inside shelling king prawns and watching television.

BRIAN: Anything about us on tv?

RON: (eyes closed, excited) The Mine Under Manager has divorced her. She has custody of Dot. Her London part-time lesbian phase is over. She's happy to be back home, a single mother again. There is a sponge cake in her oven.

(Ron is suddenly down on hands and knees, wielding his plastic spoon.)

BRIAN: What are you doing?

RON: Tunneling.

Scene 7

(Birdsong's bed. A monitor flickers. Birdsonglies on top of Lopez, reciting/reading poetry.)

Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blundered..

(He appears to fall asleep on top of Lopez.)

LOPEZ: Are you awake, sir?

Theirs not to make reply!
Theirs not to reason why
Theirs but to do and die
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred..

(He appears to once more fall asleep atop Lopez.)

LOPEZ: General?

BIRDSONG: I shall return.

(He falls asleep once more..)

LOPEZ: General?

(Birdsong remains asleep. Lopez attempts to extract herself.

LOPEZ: Will that be all, sir?

(Ron emerges from a hole in the ground..(concealed by bed?)

RON: Batista Cove. Gateway to freedom.

(He finds he is not in Batista Cove as thought. But does not immediately register Lopez.

Brian emerges from the hole.)

BRIAN: Don't see any fishing boats, mate. Or anti-imperialist fishermen willing to risk their lives to transport us to The Bay. Sarge? Oh, sarge. You disappoint me, sarge.


(Birdsong stirs. Ron/Brian duck/hide under the bed.)

Cannon to right of them
Cannon to left of them
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered..

(He drops back to sleep. Still half-pinning Lopez.)

LOPEZ: What in hell are you doing here?

BRIAN: Escaping.

RON: We should've turned left at the Bay Of Pigs.

(Birdsong sits bolt upright.)

BIRDSONG: The Bay Of Pigs!

(Ron and Brian duck. Lopez shields them.)

BIRDSONG: What about The Bay Of Pigs?

LOPEZ: It was the tv, general. Some wacko unreconstructed ex-commie hasn't gotten over The Wall coming down and is using The History Channel to spout resentful totalitarian bile.

BIRDSONG: The History Channel is bunk. The Bay Of Pigs never happened, Lopez.

LOPEZ: Yes, sir! What never happened, sir?

BIRDSONG: Good girl.

(He drops back to sleep.)

LOPEZ: Get out of here. Now.

RON: Tunnelling with plastic takes time. Is there anything to eat here?

LOPEZ: Go! Just go! Take the chopper, for Christ's sake.

(She searches for keys in trousers dropped by the bed.)

BRIAN: Come with me, Sarge. Slip out from under your General and come to The Bay with me.

LOPEZ: I'll be court-martialed and thrown in here.

BRIAN: They won't find you in The Bay.

LOPEZ: They can find anyone anywhere.

BRIAN: Not after a makeover from Hair Nails and Boompsadaisy in Swansea. I can't even recognise my own mum after Angelo's finished with her.

RON: Do I keep digging?

BRIAN: You'll like mum. She's an invalid but she's cheery. I'll put lead sheets in the ceiling to block spy satellites. Come on, sarge. You and me, it's meant to be.

LOPEZ: Skinny. I've heard those exact same words from over half my platoon. I've been disappointed every time. You're just boys. Sweet boys. You're just a boy, Brian.

BRIAN: Age doesn't matter, sarge. I can cook. What do I have to do? I'll install surface to air missiles!

(Bidsong sits bolt upright.)

BIRDSONG: The British are coming! The British are coming!

(Lopez jumps Birdsong, amorously.)

LOPEZ: They're on our side now, General. The British.

(She covertly tosses the chopper keys behind her.)

LOPEZ: Go. Go. (to Birdsong) Talk dirty to me, Five Star.

BIRDSONG: (sings) "All we are saying, is give peace a chance!"

BRIAN: (to Lopez) I'm not going without you.

(Tussle ensues. Ron tries to drag Brian away. Brian tries to drag Lopez away. Birdsong sings in an aroused state.)

LOPEZ: Oooh, give it to me, Five Star.

BIRDSONG: (sings) "War is over, if you want it!"

(Ron drags BRIAN: out. Dawn is breaking.)

BIRDSONG: (off) (sings) All you need is love!

LOPEZ: (off) More, Five Star, more!

BIRDSONG: (off) (sings) "Hooray we're all gonna die!"

BRIAN: No woman's done that for me before.

(Brian turns back. Ron restrains him.)

RON: The Bay, mate. Think of The Bay.

(They reach the chopper, denoted by 2 seats and a joystick.)

BRIAN: Bags driving.

RON: Can you fly a chopper?

BRIAN: I learnt in a Morris Minor. With an MGB donk dropped under the hood. Gearstick this long.

(He turns a key in the ignition. Nothing happens.

A distant calling to dawn prayer from unseen minarets.)

RON: Rani. Rani. We can't leave her.

BRIAN: Course we can.

(He tries another key. Nothing happens.)

RON: She wants to be a dentist.

(More distant calling.)

BRIAN: That's not Rani. That's a bloke with a beard. Phyllis Willis, mate. Think of Phyllis Willis. Sponge cake in the oven, shelling king prawns while she waits for you. You can't have them both, mate.

RON: The Bay needs a dentist.

(Ron gets out and scuttles away.)

Scene 8

(Birdsong's bed. Lopez sits astride BIRDSONG, in the afterglow.)

BIRDSONG: (recites)
"They haunt me, her lutes and her forests
No beauty on earth I see
But shadowed with that dream recalls
Her loveliness to me.."

(Ron emerges from the hole in the ground.)

RON: (sotto, to LOPEZ:) I need the keys to Rani's cell.

BIRDSONG: (recites)
"Still eyes look coldly upon me
Cold voices whisper and say.."

(Brian emerges from the hole. Alarming Ron.)

BIRDSONG: (recites)
"He is crazed with the spell of far Arabia
They have stolen his wits away.."
Walter de la Mare, honey.

BRIAN: Will you marry me, sarge?

LOPEZ: Give me "Paul Revere's Ride" again, Five Star. I'll do anything.

BIRDSONG: You want The Ride again, honey?

BRIAN: Marry me, sarge.

LOPEZ: I'm married to the US army.

BIRDSONG: (recites)
"Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy Five
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.."

(Lopez, astride the reciting Birdsong, searches his clothes with Ron's assistance, until the cell keys are found.)

LOPEZ: Take the video too.

BRIAN: What for?

LOPEZ: Just take the goddam video!

(Ron extracts the video. Brian seizes Lopez's top half in passionate embrace. They kiss at length.)

BIRDSONG: Like Longfellow, do we?

LOPEZ: We love Longfellow.

BIRDSONG: Like to try Hiawatha, baby?

(Lopez breaks from the kiss to do an American Indian whoop. Birdsong whoops reply. Lopez returns to Brian's kiss..)

BIRDSONG: The Song Of Hiawatha, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

(Lopez and Brian take the parting kiss to conclusion.)

BIRDSONG: (recites)
"By the shining Big-Sea-Water.."

LOPEZ: Take the video and get out of here!

BIRDSONG: (recites)
" From the waterfall he named her,
Minnehaha, Laughing Water.."

(Ron and Brian exit.)

BIRDSONG: (recites)

"As unto the bow the cord is
So unto the man is woman
Though she bends him, she obeys him.."

(The sound of a helicopter starting, taking off, in flight.

Followed by the sound of massed helicopters. Jets. Missiles. Rockets. Explosions. Raging aerial battle.)

Scene 9

(In the chopper. Pursued by the sound/lights of the entire US Air Force.

Pilot Rani  throws the chopper about like a "Star Wars" pursuit scene.
As Ron and Brian tussle over the video.)

BRIAN: They just want the video! So give it to them!

RON: Rani! Look out!

(Rani wrenches the joystick and dodges a missile.)

BRIAN: Just throw the bloody thing out the window!

(Missile: Whoosh! Boom!)

BRIAN: It's just a video!

RON: Incoming! Twelve o'clock! And five past! And ten past!

(Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! They dodge more missiles, then sit tight, grim, white-knuckled, as pursuit continues.)

RON: Is anyone else hungry?

(Whoosh! Boom! Rani evades more incoming.)

BRIAN: Where did you learn to fly?

(Whoosh! Boom!)

RON: Are you on our side?

RANI: All mouths are the same to tooth decay.

(BOOM!! A huge explosion.)

BRIAN: We're hit!

(The sound of a sputtering rotor. Sparks. Smoke.)

RANI: We're going down! Help me!

(Six hands pull on the stick. The chopper continues to fall. More whooshes and booms as the air attack is pressed home.)

RANI: Come up, baby, come up!

(The sounds fade...)

RON: (eyes closed) I see a dark night in The Bay. A set of stairs winds inside a bell tower. A thin man climbs to the top. You, Skinny.


RON: You light a lamp in the tower. It flickers on the the graveyard below, illuminating the dead of The Bay. A fat man waits on the far shore, eating Anzac biscuits. Me. I leap onto a pit pony and ride, spreading the call through The Bay. Our War of Independence is under way. "Colony no more!", we cry!

(Brian snatches the video and hurls it out of the chopper.)

BRIAN: Catch!

(They watch the fate of the falling video. The catch is made.)


(The sounds of battle fade. To silence. Except for the rushing of air past the plummeting chopper.)

BRIAN: Have they gone?

(Lights fade.)

BRIAN: (sings)
Come back to The Bay
Where the ocean waves play
And there's coal to be found
Five mile underground..

Scene 10

(Brian (singing) , Ron and Rani,  enter detaching parachutes..)

BRIAN: What if I buy you a whole bucket of chicken wings? Will you forgive me?

(He holds out his fist for the secret handshake. Ron resists.)

BRIAN: With garlic bread. And a flagon of Ben Ean. Will you forgive me then?

(Ron relents. The handshake is exchanged. Mates again.)

BRIAN: We made it.

RON: We made it.

(The three embrace.)

BRIAN: Welcome to The Bay, Rani. Greatest little town god ever stuck legs on.

(They form a queue.)

BRIAN: Your queue's over there, Rani.

(Rani forms a second queue.)

RON: It's just a formality. We need dentists. See you inside.

BRIAN: See you inside.

RANI: See you inside.

BRIAN: Phyllis Willis is going to wet herself.

RON: Rani and me are just good friends.

(Captain Ho: enters. Ron and Brian salute.)

HO: Welcome back, men. Would you come this way, please, Miss Khaled?

RON/BRIAN: See you inside!

(A final glance to Ron and Brian..and Rani is led away. Ron's brow furrows.)

BRIAN: Is that a frown or a smirk, mate? Remember when Hobbsie used to ask you that in class, and you said you didn't know?

(Ron stares at the place where Rani was last seen.)

RON: We need dentists.

BRIAN: Did you know we invented garlic bread?


(c) Tim Gooding
May 2006