Death of a Mercenary: Act 2 - Scene 1


ACT 2- SCENE 1


MERCENARY BASE CAMP – NICARAGUA -- NOVEMBER 1977

A LARGE HOVEL sits on a hill that slopes gently into the village below. The village is near the Costa Rican border. The structure, a sturdy construction in the rural manner, is opened from all sides, its canopy providing protection from the constant rain or the occasional sun. Once used for sheltering cattle, it now serves as a temporary command centre.

A WOODEN TABLE occupies the centre of the space; SACKS of animal feed and CRATES containing supplies and survival gear, clutter in and around the structure. Off stage, sounds of the village’s daily life mix with the pounding noise of boot steps as soldiers practice marching drills over the soft ground. A HELICOPTER flies overhead.

Inside the hovel, SEAN -shirtless but dressed in army fatigues, dances to the loud disco beat of “Staying Alive” pouring out of a beat-up PORTABLE CASSETTE PLAYER.. FREDDIE and CASIANO, also dressed in army fatigues, are standing by one of the massive wood support posts, exchanging glances and trying hard not to laugh at Sean who seems oblivious to everything and everyone around him.

OFFSTAGE, in the village, a quarrel is taking place.


MARIA
(Pleading)
¡Déjeme señor, me está lastimando!

[Let me go, you’re hurting me!]


MARIA’S FATHER
(Trying to reason with Camacho)
¿Pero señor, cómo le vamos a hacer? ¡Qué ésta es mi hija y ella no es mujer de la calle!

[But sir, how can you do this? She is my daughter, not a woman from the streets -a whore!]

CAMACHO
(“Offended”)
¿Y qué está usted insinuando de mi?

[And what are you insinuating?]

MARIA’S BROTHER
(Defiant)
¡Qué sus intensiones no son buenas. Mi hermana no tiene nada que ver con usted!

[That your intentions are not good. My sister has nothing to do with you!]

CAMACHO
(Enraged)
¡A ver, a ver! ¡Eso es un insulto que yo no le aguanto a nadie! ¡Lárguense par’carajo antes que me los eche a los dos!

[How dare you! I don’t take that kind of insult from no one! Get the fuck out of here before I do you both!]

MARIA
(Terrified)
¡No, por favor! ¡Señor, se lo ruego, no les haga daño!

[No, please. I beg you, don’t hurt them!]

CAMACHO
Está bien, mi chula. Pero solo si te quedas conmigo, no?

[All right, my precious. But only if you stay with me, no?]

FATHER
(Adamant)
¡De ninguna manera! ¡Le digo que la suerte!

[No way! I tell you to let her go!]

CAMACHO
¡Viejo entrometido!

[Nosy old man!]

CAMACHO hits the old man; MARIA screams.


BROTHER
¡Papá! (To Camacho) ¡Canalla! ¡Bandido! (he lunges at Camacho)

MARIA
(Hysterical)
¡Auxilio! ¡Socorro! ¡Qué matan a mi hermano y a mi papá!

[Help! Somebody, help! He is going to kill my brother and my father!]

CAMACHO
¡Hijos de perra! ¡Los voy a matar a todos! ¡Chewy, agárralo!

[Son’s of bitches! I’m going to kill you both! Chewy, grab him!]

The shouts and screams intensified as more villagers join the fracas.


SEAN
(Annoyed at loosing his concentration)
What the fuck! (he stops the tape-player and, pointing at Freddie and Casiano, yells in a fury) You know what your ass hole friend Camacho is? A fucking animal! Don’t just stand there stroking your dicks! Go stop him before we have a war in the fucking village!!!

Startled by the unexpected outburst, FREDDIE and CASIANO exit to do as they were told. SEAN looks at Camacho and screams as the noise of a helicopter landing is heard:


-“M o t h e r f u c k e r…!!!”


OFFSTAGE

CAMACHO
¡Chulita! ¡Ahorita si que no te me escapas!

[You won’t get away!]

MARIA
(Screams)
¡Suélteme!

[Let me go!] (she bites him and flees)

CAMACHO
(Yells)
¡Puta!!! ¡Chewy, agárrala!

[Bitch! Chewy, grab her!]

FATHER
¡Corre, mi’ja, corre!

[Run, daughter, run!]


MARIA (17) enters, one hand over her breast holding up her torn blouse. AGUSTIN enters from the opposite end, dressed in fatigues, carrying his equipment pack and M-16 rifle in one hand and, as the helicopter takes off again, holding his hat in place with the other. María, looking back as she flees, runs into him and falls. Agustin drops his gear and helps her up. They stare at each other.



CAMACHO
(Off stage, laughing)
¡Corre, corre, galliñita, que tarde o temprano yo te cojo!

[Run, run, my little chickadee, but sooner or later I’ll have you!]

MARIA turns to look back, terrified, then returns her gaze to Agustin, and finally runs off. AGUSTIN stands perplexed. He looks after the girl, then towards the commotion, and finally at Sean.


AGUSTIN
(With a headache expression)
What the fuck’s going on?

SEAN
(Breathing hard)
Camacho! That’s what’s going on!

AGUSTIN
What’s he doing here?

SEAN
Trying to fuck every girl in the village and pissing everyone off! I’d love to do a contract on that goddamn piece of shit taco-breath motherfucker! (then) The shit-head who plan this operation has the National Guard, us, and fucking Camacho working together.

AGUSTIN
(Irritated)
Great. Where’s Jim?

SEAN
(Upset)
With Gunther, taking care of business. (then) You were due back two days ago. What kept you?

AGUSTIN
(Sitting on a stack of sacks, frowning)
The weather. Got any aspirins? (pulls a water bottle from his bag)

SEAN
(Throwing him a small bottle -and holding a grudge)
Here, keep the bottle. You’re going to need it.

AGUSTIN
That bad? (he takes a couple of aspirins and then gives Sean a questioning look) Oh, for Christ’s sake! You’ still pissed at me?

SEAN
Damn right, I am! You took off that night without giving me an explanation.

AGUSTIN
Sean, let’s not get into it. You figure is out.

SEAN
I can’t! You make no fucking sense to me. You had them nailed. We could have walked out of there richer by several thousand bucks. But no! You had to be dramatic! And do you want to know what I think of it? …Ah?

AGUSTIN
(Weary)
What?

SEAN
You wanted me to lose that money! Didn’t you? Ah? I have been going through some major emotional stress lately and that money could have bought me a lot of relief. You owe me an explanation -damn it!
(a beat) I’m waiting!

AGUSTIN shakes his head not knowing weather to laugh or cry.


AGUSTIN
You’re fucking serious. (then) Okay. I’ll explain things to you if first you give me an honest answer. No bullshit.

SEAN
(Pious face)
I got nothing to hide. Shoot.

AGUSTIN
(A look)
Were you cheating?

SEAN
(Disconcerted)
I… eh…? Fuck! (stamping his foot on the ground) That’s not the point!

AGUSTIN
(Covering his ears)
I don’t want to hear it!

SEAN
(Grudgingly gives in)
Okay, you got me. Fine! I have offended your fucking sense of justice. I should have known better. Happy? (a beat) I said I was sorry! Stop treating me like my mother.

AGUSTIN
(Drinks from the water bottle)
One of these days, Sean... One of these days. (then) Are we done with this?

SEAN
It’s forgotten.

AGUSTIN
Good. Now, want to give an update?

SEAN
(Looking towards the road)
You’ll get it soon enough. Looks like the whole fucking circus came to town! (he puts on a shirt)

Sounds of VEHICLES driving into the village; TROOPS standing in review; men getting off the vehicles and words of greeting.


Enter McCORMICK (36) followed by the CORONEL [Spanish for Colonel] (53) and his young female AIDE (20’s), then GUNTHER and JIM. McCormick gestures the Coronel towards the table as the aide unrolls a large operation MAP over it. She then proceeds to pour coffee out of a THERMOS into a tin cup and hands it to the Coronel.

Enter CAMACHO, CHEWY, FREDDIE and CASIANO dusting their clothes.


McCORMICK
(Serious, military uptight)
Sir, cream and sugar?

EL CORONEL
(Indignant look, then)
I’m a man!

The CORONEL calmly proceeds to look over the map as he sips his coffee. McCormick stands at his right, Gunther at his left, followed by Jim, Sean and Agustin. Camacho joins in from the left, Chewy, Casiano and Freddie behind him.

As the Colonel studies the map, he makes grunts and gestures of approval. He finishes his coffee and, without looking away, raises his cup, which is promptly picked by his aide who then shies quietly behind the group. Chewy can’t get his eyes off the aide.


CORONEL
(Looking pleased)
¡Bueno! ¿Ya estamos todos?

[Good. Is everyone here?]

McCORMICK
Yes sir. Everyone is here. (gesturing to Gunther’s unit) These agents are members of Mr. Gunther’s surveillance unit. They will be responsible for safe infiltration of the strike force into the target zone. (now gesturing at Camacho and his team) Mr. Camacho and his sniper team will also assist in the operation. They will hit their targets before the assault.


CORONEL
(Grandiose manner)
Gentleman, the order from our commander in chief, mi Presidente Anastasio Somoza, is this: -“we begin the operation tomorrow.” We must make sure that this action is a complete and total success. Failure will not be acceptable. While I will be in command of the force, Mr. McCormick will be in charge of the operation. He is our top military advisor and has personally trained our elite commando team both here and in the United States. He will be conducting the rest of briefing. Please direct all questions to him. -Mr. McCormick?

McCORMICK
Thank you, Coronel. (going over the map) Since September and throughout the month of October, the Sandinistas have carried out small but well-publicised attacks on National Guard posts near the border of Costa Rica here, here, and here. Our intelligence tells us that this renewed insurrection has been led by a new group of younger, more radical lead-ership in the Sandinista movement. They call themselves ‘The Terceristas’. (showing some pictures) The leaders of this group are Humberto and Daniel Ortega. While support to rebels is still very weak and they do not have the backing of all Nicaraguan parties, Costa Rica and elements in other Latin American countries are lending them assistance. Cuba -we now have concrete evidence- is supplying logistics and weapons through undercover operatives. Intelligence and surveillance reports gathered by Mr. Gunther’s team has lead us to suspect of the existence of a main rebel camp along the border and… (dropping another picture) here it is. Aerial reconnaissance of the area tells us this is the centre for all their smuggling operation. The camp, we estimate, has 20 to 30 rebels; big enough to carry out their illicit activities but small enough to avoid detection -until now.

CAMACHO
Why not just do an air strike?

McCORMICK
Since the camp is situated deep inside the jungle, we couldn’t be sure of hitting all the targets. Besides, we have reason to believe that the Ortega brothers and most of the Sandinistas leadership will be at the site conducting a meeting two days from now. Mr. Camacho, those are your marks. Once you take them out, we strike the camp.

CAMACHO
(Studying the photos of the Ortegas)
Do we have executive order to deal with them?

CORONEL
Yes, señor Camacho. All the way from the top.

McCORMICK
Surprise is essential. Our forces will be flown to this drop zone, a days march from the target to avoid detection.

CORONEL
(Looking doubtful)
Hum. That is very difficult terrain. There’re a few farmers living in the area. They could be siding with the rebels and sound the alarm.

GUNTHER
Not a chance. My men are familiar with the area and have established friendly relations with the natives. They will guide you and advise you on hostile movements. But I want to make it crystal clear; they are not to get involved in the fight. The same goes for my unit.

McCORMICK
(Sneering)
With all due respect to your men, we don’t need them and we don’t want them in the way of a highly trained professional strike force. (chuckles)

CORONEL
Are there any other foreseeable problems?

CAMACHO
Watchdogs. That could be a problem especially if we have to get close to the target before the strike.

JIM
We’ll silence them with puppy chow.

CORONEL
Puppy chow?

McCORMICK
Tranquilliser capsules mixed in ground beef. Dogs will be asleep for some hours allowing our troops time to take positions.

CORONEL
Good! I don’t like to kill animals.

McCORMICK
Any other questions?

SEAN grunts disapprovingly but says nothing.



CORONEL
(At Sean)
Sir, is something troubling you?

SEAN
Colonel, I was just wondering, why are you taking a small army to simply blow up a camp that size?

McCORMICK
(Hostile)
That is none of your concern.

CORONEL
(Raising a hand to silence McCormick)
No, no, no, Mr. McCormick. That is a fair question that deserves a straight answer. (snaps his fingers) ¡El periódico! (his aide hands him a newspaper) Recognise this? This is a recent issue of ‘The New York Times’ in which some ‘mama huevo’ [cock-sucker] reporter has written a series of articles making the Sandinistas look like Robin Hood and us like the big bad wolf! (he slams the paper on the table) This is irresponsible! Using the human rights excuse based on lies published by the American press, el presidente Jimmy Carter has cut off all military aid. Mr. Gunther has made arrangements with the Israeli government to secure weapons but that will not hold us long. So we are going into this camp to show proof of how the communist Cubans are arming these terrorists and to put a stop to all these false allegations.

SEAN
(Assumption)
So then, you’ll blow up the weapons?

CORONEL
No. We are going to confiscate them.

McCORMICK
Sir, I don’t think they need to know the particulars of the mission to carry out their orders.

JIM
Chances are there are more camps in the surrounding area, and the minute they hear the fireworks, they are going to come in.

McCORMICK
My men are capable of handling any contingency. We will secure the area until the stockpiles are airlifted.

SEAN
Sir, with all due respect, I’m sure your commandos are a highly trained and trigger happy bunch of fellows. But before they whip out their dicks and go in like John Wayne -I want to know, do they have real combat experience?

McCORMICK
(Dagger look)
What are you trying to say? (then) Mr. Gunther, if your men have any reservations about this job -for which you have been paid top American dollars, you’d better speak your mind now.

GUNTHER
Mr. McCormick, my men are not paid to go into combat. They are a highly disciplined team of watchers trained to conduct physical surveillance. But they are also a highly effective fighting force with considerable combat experience. They will take you in safe and sound so that you can do your job. That’s what you’re paying us for. Your part of the bargain is to get them out safe and sound once you are done.

CORONEL
Gentlemen, gentlemen, please! If everything goes according to plan, the operation will be completed within a few hours. I doubt the rebels will put much resistance. Their forces are made up of students and peasants who always run away when confronted by regular troops. The minute we hit, they will run all the way to Costa Rica. (chuckles)

McCORMICK
We leave tomorrow at o’500. That will be all.

CASIANO and FREDDIE exit immediately. Aside, McCORMICK, CAMACHO and el CORONEL go over the pictures. THE AIDE recovers the map from the table. CHEWY makes a pass at her, she sneers at him twisting her lips in disgust. While the colonel and Camacho continue their discussion, McCORMICK moves away putting the pictures in their envelope.


JIM
(At McCormick)
Hey Mac, just curious. I thought it was against policy for U.S. military advisors to go into combat.

McCORMICK
This will be nothing more than a military exercise. Just giving the boys a chance to wet their feet.

CAMACHO and el CORONEL finish their discussion. CAMACHO calls Chewy and they exit. El Coronel goes to Gunther.

CORONEL
(Shaking hands)
Mr. Gunther, I am preparing a small fiesta at my hacienda in anticipation of our victory. I will not forgive you if you do not come. I have acquired some new European paintings for my collection and I would like you to see them.

GUNTHER
I’m honoured, sir. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.

CORONEL
Good. Mr. McCormick, you lead the way.

McCORMICK
After you, sir.

The COLONEL, followed by McCORMICK and THE AIDE, exit. AGUSTIN, JIM and SEAN gathered around GUNTHER.

GUNTHER
(Mutters)
Pompous ass! And McCormick close enough to smell his farts. (turning to the group) Agustin, is everything in place?

AGUSTIN

Sir, I’ve made the arrangements. (handing Gunther a paper) These are the coordinates.

GUNTHER
Good! Jim, lets see that photo again. (Jim pulls the photograph Helena had given Agustin from the envelope and places it on top of the table)
Comment.

JIM
It is basically a more recent photo of the one shown by McCormick, but… (pulling out a magnifying glass) there is one significant change. Notice this over here. Looks familiar?

GUNTHER
(Sceptical)
Fuel drums? In the middle of the jungle?

AGUSTIN
More like chemical drums.

GUNTHER
A lab. A processing lab. Narcotics?

JIM
That’s our conclusion. We think the rebels are using drugs to pay for weapons.

GUNTHER
So, our friends are not telling us everything there is to know.

SEAN
(Sneering)
Cuban weapons my ass. They want the drugs. Good as cash...

GUNTHER
(Frowning)
Yes, but, who is they? McCormick and the colonel, or is the colonel freelancing?

SEAN
I wouldn’t put it pass him.

GUNTHER
He could bugger off the whole affair. Anything else?

AGUSTIN
Maybe it’s just my imagination, but if you wanted to hide a weapons depot, why build a shed on a clearing that’s visible from the air?

GUNTHER
It’s almost as if they were waving a red flag. An invitation maybe?

AGUSTIN
Smells like a trap.

GUNTHER
No way of telling until you’re there.

SEAN
I guess we’ll soon find out.

JIM
Shouldn’t we talk this over with McCormick?

GUNTHER
Bloody waste of time! We are getting paid to get them there and that is the end of the contract. Let them have their fun. (then) Jim, at the first sign of trouble, pull back and disappear. Understood?

JIM
(Without enthusiasm but grimly determined)
Yes sir!

JIM, SEAN and AGUSTIN remove their panther rings and hand them to Gunther (a practised ritual).

GUNTHER
(Pocketing the rings)
Cheers, gentlemen. I’ll see you off in the morning. (as he walks away)
Oh, Agustin, want to see some paintings?

AGUSTIN
Love to! ...as long as I don’t have to kiss el Coronel’s ass.


GUNTHER
(Chuckles)
You won’t be popular with the critics.

GUNTHER and AGUSTIN exit.




END OF ACT 2 - SCENE 1




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