World Of Their Own

Act, I, Scene 1

A soft pool of light comes up on a young woman, 20, pretty but not beautiful. She wears a light, sleeveless sundress. She regards the audience for a moment.

Leanne

If you asked any one of them, even those you’d think were too young to pay attention, they’d tell you the same thing and always with pride. We are Marines, first division, they’d say. One of the two U.S. land forces in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. They would then tell you, even those that hadn’t been there, had been hardly more than children at the time, that they fought their way through the Rumaila oil fields, faked towards Basrah, then moved north on Highway 1 to An Nasariyah, near Talil Airfield. I’d never heard of or could even pronounce the names of these places. At first. We fought our way to Baghdad, they’d say, and went on to secure Tikri. We covered 808 kilometers in 17 days, the deepest penetrating ground operation in the history of the Marine Corps. They’d use those lines to pick up girls who didn’t need lines to be picked up – not by a Marine. They stayed until March ’05 and they would tell you that in ’06, already with more casualties than any other division, they were sent back to Iraq to continue combat operations. And in April, 08′, not even tired, they’d say, they were sent to the Helmand province of Afghanistan, a poppy region controlled by the Taliban. They’d tell you then, so matter of fact, they were still in both places. They’d tell you that they were still fighting, that they’d suffered more casualties than any other division in the Marine corp. They’d tell you that the difficult they do quickly, that the impossible takes a little time. As if they had all the time in the world.

We hear the sound of rain. We hear a voice calling from somewhere out of the dark. Out of the past.

BLUE

Come on, hon, sit down over here, get out of the wet.

LEANNE

I believe in ghosts. I believe in angels. I believe there are demons in the world. This is about all three.

It rains. Leanne raises her face as if being both blessed and baptized.

Lights slowly rise. It is a grey day on a golf course. Three damp young men, all early 20’s, sit on the benches of a tee-box. There is the long heavy branch of a Torrey Pine overhead that provides some shelter. Ragged golf bags on pull carts are behind them. Their clubs are not remotely matched sets. There is an overturned trash can nearby. There is trash and branches on the ground. Blue, very much the ex-captain of his high school football team, wears jeans and a long sleeve, polo shirt. Blue is hatless with a “high fade”. (Note: Blue speaks without contractions. This shouldn’t be emphasized in any way. Nothing stilted. It just is.) Billy wears a sleeveless T-shirt, cut-off camouflage pants, Marine desert boots and a ball cap backwards. Billy speaks with a hard edged Texas twang. He has a bandage on his left forearm, that he will occasionally adjust. Teacher John, a big black man, wears glasses, a football jersey and has a silly looking Kangol cap on, also backwards. Leanne sits down next to Blue. She clings to him; holds his arm tight.

Silence. More silence. Then:

BILLY

This is crazy, y’ ask me. Soakin’ wet, not a beer in sight.

Silence. Then:

BILLY

We should just keep right on walkin’. Right on walkin’ we should keep. One foot in front of the other, right on in.

(a beat)

Fuckin’ rain.

(Calling out to no one in particular)

Fuckin’ asshole! You can kiss my ass!

(a beat)

Shit! Ain’t anybody around here a sane son of a bitch, sides me?

Leanne looks uncomfortable.

BLUE

It is going to stop.

BILLY

Uh – no. No, it’s not gonna stop. Do you seen even a hint of blue sky? Do you? Teacher John?

TEACHER JOHN

Blue says it’s gonna stop, it’s gonna stop.

BILLY

What, he’s the weather man? A sprinkle, it’s gonna let the fuck up?

TEACHER JOHN

It’s a balmy day in Scotland.

BILLY

Scotland. What do you know about Scotland, y’ dumb green marine?

TEACHER JOHN

It’s the home of golf.

BILLY

Scotland.

TEACHER JOHN

They invented the game. They also invented haggis.

Silence. More silence. Finally:

BILLY

All right, I know I’m gonna fuckin’ kill myself for asking but what is that?

TEACHER JOHN

Haggis is sheep’s ‘pluck’ cooked in a sheep’s stomach for let’s say three hours.

BILLY

Pluck.

TEACHER JOHN

Heart, liver, lungs.

BILLY

Cooked in a stomach.

TEACHER JOHN

For three hours. They also add oatmeal.

BILLY

And they invented this.

TEACHER JOHN

Along with golf.

BILLY

Well, fuck pluck, fuck golf and fuck them.

Leanne winces, clearly uncomfortable with the profanity.

BLUE

Billy.

BILLY

What?

BLUE

I think if you can tone down the profanity.

BILLY

Why? Cause you brought a girl along?

BLUE

You have not disguised the fact you a problem with that.

BILLY

Girls are bad luck on the golf course.

BLUE

Luck.

BILLY

Like on ships and shit. Everybody knows that.

BLUE

You can just zip it. Or you will be the one shipping out.

BILLY

Well, yes, sir.

(a beat; quickly)

But it was supposed to be just the three of us!

Silence. More silence.

BILLY

(to Leanne)

Well, girls are supposed to be so good for conversation, somebody could at least say somethin’!

LEANNE

…I… uhm….

TEACHER JOHN

I find it interesting that Afghan tribesmen play polo with human heads.

LEANNE

(Squeak).

BILLY

Well, I find it interesting that your mind is a checkerboard full of jumps. Where the fuck did that come from?

TEACHER JOHN

Just trying to help.

BLUE

The game is called Buzkashi, Teacher, and it is not played with a human head. It is played with a headless goat.

BILLY

Yeah, well, anybody calls that a game, can tongue my freckled balls.

(to Leanne; sarcastic)

And I think you, girlie, was the one supposed to be doin’ the jumpstart.

LEANNE

(mustering her nerve)

… all right. Have you always wanted to be a Marine, Billy? Or just an asshole.

Blue and Teacher laugh. Slap palms.

BILLY

You two think that’s funny?

TEACHER JOHN

I do.

BLUE

Being an asshole Marine is the only thing you have a talent for.

BILLY

I’ll take that as a compliment.

Billy begins policing the area, putting things in the trash can. Teacher rises to help. Blue rises to pitch in as well. And then Leanne.

LEANNE

Can I ask you all a question?

BLUE

Fire away, Hon.

LEANNE

What’s it like? Aphganistan? This one won’t tell me.

TEACHER JOHN

Blue?

BLUE

Be my guest.

Ss she tries to join in, Leanne becomes increasingly aware that the men don’t let her. When she picks up something they take it from her. They don’t realize they’re doing it but she does. It’s both endearing and exasperating.

TEACHER JOHN

It can be hot. But it can be freezing cold too. It’s a rough country, all bones. Korengal River, Abas Ghar ridge. You move hilltop by hilltop, a hundred yards at a time.

BILLY

We once had 13 firefights in a 24 hours. They fought like motherfuckers.

(to Leanne)

How you like knowing that?

BLUE

Hey, now. It is not all fighting, hon. A lot of it is interacting with the populace, helping out. Take. Hold. Build.

BILLY

Shit. Nuke’m, I say. Turn their whole piss ass country to glass. God and you, girlie, can sort it out.

Blue steps in front of Billy.

BLUE

(quietly)

She is not girlie, she has a name. That is the second time you said it and do not do it again.

Billy and Blue stare at one another.

BLUE

Do not make me say it twice.

BILLY

(a beat; a shrug)

Fine. La-de-da.

Billy turns away.

TEACHER JOHN

Pay no attention to the private, Leanne. He’s just worked up cause he is gonna be packing mules.

BILLY

And you can give that a rest right now.

TEACHER JOHN

Stubborn, braying mules. Like him.

BILLY

I am warning you.

LEANNE

Not only am I not picking up, I’m not following.

BLUE

Billy came back a couple of weeks ago from the Corp’s Mountain Warfare Training Center where he completed a course on pack animals, hon.

LEANNE

Marine mules?

BLUE

Humvees and helicopters do not always work so great high in the mountains. But you get a mule or donkey and you are in a business.

BILLY

Like I did training and deployment all so I could end up packing some shit-dropping donkey.

BLUE

Do not think of it as mule-skinning, Billy the kid. Think of it as high-altitude combat skills.

TEACHER JOHN

Exactly. It’s a critical position.

BILLY

Ha-ha. Least I don’t shoot pigs.

TEACHER JOHN

Now, now.

BILLY

Teacher shoots pigs, that’s his training.

TEACHER JOHN

Trauma training, Leanne. Navy corpsman and combat lifesavers practice on pigs. Apply tourniquets, packs wounds, clear tongues from breathing passages.

BILLY

After shooting the crap out of’m first. Shot guns, assault rifles.

LEANNE

Ohh….

TEACHER JOHN

They’re sedated. They feel no pain.

LEANNE

Still.

BLUE

Then, of course, there are the cows.

LEANNE

You shoot cows?

BLUE

Not quite, hon. But awhile back somebody decided it would be a good idea to teach Iraqi insurgents to be diary farmers.

LEANNE

No.

BILLY

Yes.

BLUE

However, the Iraqis not exactly being “cow people”, were in need of a little help.

TEACHER JOHN

Uh-huh!

BLUE

So the brass found an expert. Some college guy who could do an impression of a calf with diarrhea. This made him particularly qualified to work in a war zone. Only the cows were not. They found the heat, the bombs, the soldiers in full body armor and the loaded weapons stressful. They insisted on going home.

TEACHER JOHN

You know, Marines and cows sound a lot alike?

BILLY

Yeah. Cept Marines get killed and cows get to come home.

Again Blue sees the look on Leanne’s face.

BLUE

Marines, hon. Muscles are required, intelligence not essential.

TEACHER JOHN

Oorah.

BILLY

Fuck that.

(loudly)

Marines! Many Americans Running Into Never Ending Shit!

All of them: Oorah!

LEANNE

What is Oorah anyway?

BLUE

Oorah! No quarter given, none taken.

TEACHER JOHN

Oorah! Right on!

BILLY

Oorah! As you were and pass the mustard, motherfucker!

TEACHER JOHN

As I was, sir!

BLUE

Forty mile run in the sun, double time, full gear! Do you have a problem with that?

TEACHER JOHN/BILLY

Oorah!

Leanne laughing now as:

BLUE

Junk On the Bunk! Surprise weapons inspection!

TEACHER JOHN/BILLY

Oorah!

BLUE

In the field, 20 days, no showers or hot chow and you will like it! ”

TEACHER JOHN/BILLY

Oorah!

BLUE

And when we get back, I am buying the beer!

TEACHER JOHN/BILLY

Oorah!

BLUE

And playing the music!

TEACHER JOHN/BILLY

Oorah!

BLUE

And going down on my girl till she screams!

LEANNE

Oooooo-rah!

Leanne, laughing, hiding her face in embarrassment. Blue and Teacher howl, loving it. Blue, playfully grabbing Leanne. Billy just stares, for some reason not liking it.

BILLY

Well, shit. I didn’t know she was a slut.

Blue slaps him so hard and fast Leanne hardly has time to gasp. The two men stare at one another as if trying to decide who’s going to kill the other first. And then Billy falters and backs down again, almost in tears.

BILLY

… sorry… I’m sorry… just… it was supposed to be the three of us.

Lightchange as Leanne moves forward to address the audience. The sound of rain fades.

LEANNE (cont’d)

It was hardly a week and a half ago. On a plane. Delta Air, Greensboro, North Carolina to Chicago. I’m in an isle seat, 22C. And I have my magazine and when I look up this handsome boy in a green uniform is the second to last one on the plane. And there’s a middle seat open next to me and as he’s coming down the isle I’m thinking oh, please, let it be him who takes this seat and not the fat old business person behind him. But he walks right past. And for some reason I am just so disapointed. But then he’s back again, looking at the ticket in his hand.

Blue steps forward into the light.

BLUE

Pardon me? Miss? I think I am there?

LEANNE

He puts his bag in the compartment above and I stand just enough to let him slip by and his legs touch mine and he sits and our arms are touching. He has clean hands and he smells good.

BLUE

Small seats.

LEANNE

Tight fit.

Leanne winces at the unintended sexual innuendo.

Blue: Chicago?

Leanne: Connecting on to Terre Haute, Indiana. (a beat) I’ve been visiting my sister. (a beat) And you?

Blue: San Diego. Camp Pendleton. I am a Marine.

Leanne: Pendelton, that’s a… a fort, isn’t it?

Blue: It is about two hundred and fifty thousand acres.

Leanne: …sorry, that was stupid

Blue: Why? There is no reason why you should know.

Leanne: I’m Leanne.

Blue: I’m Blue.

Leanne: (confused) Blue?

Blue: Robin. But Robin became Bluebird became Blue. Pretty silly.

Leanne: No. It’s beautiful. (To the audience) We take off and now I’m wracking my brain for something to say that isn’t brain dead. (To Blue) Have you always wanted to be a soldier? (to the audience) Brain dead!

BLUE: Well, Leanne, let us just say that at the age of three months, the minister who was baptizing me, dropped me under a church pew and for a good three days, they could not find me. And when they finally did, they baptized me a Marine.

Leanne giggles. Blue smiles.

BLUE: And you? What do you aspire to be?

LEANNE: I’m thinking of being a nurse.

BLUE: Nice.

LEANNE (to the audience) I tell him everything I know and I go on about things I don’t and by the time we reach Chicago and get off the plane, I’m so afraid I’ll never see this boy again, I can hardly think.