Death of a Mercenary: Act 2 - Scene 2


ACT 2- SCENE 2


MERCENARY BASE CAMP – SAME DAY -- DUSK

Distant thunder announces the coming of rain. In the hovel, JIM sits among sacks of cattle feed playing chords on an old guitar. AGUSTIN prepares coffee on a huge metal pot that sits over a portable stove. Kerosene lamps that hang from the rafters illuminate the area. The village is dormant.

AGUSTIN hands Jim a mug.


JIM
(Placing the guitar aside)
Thanks.

AGUSTIN joins him and they both sit in silence, gazing into the peaceful distance.


JIM
It’s always so calm and peaceful before the coming of a storm.

AGUSTIN
Nature’s way of telling us to prepare for the worst...

JIM
Oh, I’m not so sure. Nature is indifferent to us. I personally find it hard to prepare for a future that scares the hell out of me. I’m going to spend the rest of my life there and it doesn’t look good.

AGUSTIN
I think you can better the odds if you come back to the States with me; go home to your family.

JIM
(Standing)
I am home! (reflects for a moment, then) Look, see those pines over that mountain? About ten miles heading that way toward San Carlos, there’s a small village -much like this one. That’s where I was born! It was in that village that my dad came preaching and where he met my mom. Only time I remember the old man being happy. (remains thoughtful as he takes another sip from his cup) When my mother got sick and passed away, my dad left the mission and returned to Indiana. He said he wanted me to get an education and grow up to be an American -God, country, apple pie and all that bullshit. Lord, was he disappointed! (sigh) I didn’t have to wait for the last judgement, it took place everyday. After he ruined the first half of my life trying to make me the god-fearing Christian that he failed to be, he ruined the other half trying to turn me into the man I wasn’t born to be. When I couldn’t take it any longer, I returned to the only place I’ve ever felt wanted. Been here ever since, taking great pleasure in doing all the things my dad said I couldn’t do. I love this country better than my family. Here’s where I belong!

AGUSTIN
Is that why you give all your money to the mission? -I had to ask. It’s embarrassing the way people around here worship you.

JIM
All the money in the world doesn’t compare to the love and respect I get from these people. I am the luckiest sonofabitch in the world!

AGUSTIN
Your father would be proud.

JIM
Hell no! He’d be so steamed up he’d burst a blood vessel!

AGUSTIN
I don’t get it.

JIM
Think about it. I’m living proof that a heathen and a queer can become a saint!

They enjoy a laugh and then grow quite as their thoughts wonder. JIM goes over to the coffeepot and refills their cups.



JIM
(Sitting down again)
Agustin, you’re doing the right thing, getting out now. I’m going to miss you but I won’t keep you. The truth is that your time is over and you don’t belong here. Your life is waiting for you somewhere else.

AGUSTIN
(Confessing his doubts)
It is, but Helena’s not coming with me. (then) Jim, have I made the right choice?

JIM
The choice was made for you, Tino. She’s got her own life. You would be all wrong for each other back in the States. Your kind of relationship needs action and risk to make it work. Without it, I don’t think it would last six months. Can you imagine Helena having children and joining the PTA?

They chuckle at the thought, but Agustin soon returns to a sombre mood. JIM tries to cheer him up.


JIM
I know you’re hurting, kid. It’s very hard -if not impossible, not to need love around so much despair. But when two people love each other under these conditions, there can be no happy end to it. (then) Move on, Tino; don’t look back and burn the bridge. If Helena wants to join you, she’ll have to build her own way across. Besides, unlike Helena, you have an affliction that prevents you from being a good mercenary.

AGUSTIN
Oh? And what would that be?

JIM
Your conscience. Keeps you from enjoying the work! (Agustin smiles)

SEAN enters carrying his M-16 rifle and gear, and his Browning 9mm MK 1 pistol in a belt and holster looped around his neck. He is like a kid before Christmas.


SEAN
(Touching the coffeepot)
Nice going, ladies! The pot is on and the coffee is hot! (he puts his gear down and pours coffee in a tin cup)

AGUSTIN
There’s milk and sugar inside the box.

SEAN
(El coronel impression) )
I’m a man! (he takes a sip and spits it out) What the fuck is this shit! Tar? Where’s that milk! Sugar, more sugar! Got any more sugar? (he hangs his side arm from a peg on a post and sits down) Hey, I got something to show you. (pulling a magazine from his pocket) Look at this guy. You think I could look like him?

JIM
(Looking at the pictures)
Damn, the man’s a monster!

AGUSTIN
Why you want to look like that?

SEAN
Are you kidding? I’ll be one mean looking sonofabitch! The reincarnation of Hercules!

AGUSTIN
Jim, who are the toughest hombres you have ever met?

JIM
It’s got to be either the Yaqui or the Miskito Indians.

AGUSTIN
And you Sean?

SEAN
No doubt about it, those tiny mother-fucking Vietcong.

AGUSTIN
Now think about it for a minute. Do any of them look like this?

SEAN
(Feeling deflated)
Point taken.

JIM
Hey, wait a minute! Who’s this guy?

SEAN
(Trying to read the name)
Some fag named… eh… Schuwar-ze… Schwarz-ner… Hamburger… Oh, fuck him! He got a name as long as my dick! (he throws the magazine at Jim)

JIM
(After a quick glance)
Arnold? You call that long?

SEAN
Oh, fuck you too!

Thunder roars and it begins to rain. SEAN sits and begins to clean his rifle. FREDDIE and CASIANO enter seeking shelter. Wiping off the rain, they give the customary nod greeting but keep their distance from the others.


JIM
(Gesturing)
Gentlemen, there’s coffee in the pot. You are welcome to it.

FREDDIE and CASIANO put down their weapons, pour themselves coffee, and taste it with satisfaction.


SEAN
There is no more sugar but there’s milk in the… box.

FREDDIE
This is fine, thank you. -Very good coffee.

AGUSTIN
Have a seat.

CASIANO
(After giving Freddie a look)
Don’t mind if we do. Whose guitar?

JIM
Yours and mine.

CASIANO
Oh, I don’t play at all. Wish I could. (at Sean) How about you, señor?

SEAN
I only sing.

AGUSTIN
And very badly. (laughter)

FREDDIE
(Pained recollection)
We have heard. (more laughter)

A WOMAN’S screams and a man’s yells are heard in the distance, coming from the village (offstage). She is being raped.


AGUSTIN
(Trying to place the voice, uncertain)
Is that Camacho?

The cries and pleads for help (in Spanish) go on for some time as everyone listens in silence.


SEAN
(At the end of his patience)
That does it! (going for his side arm) I’m going to take that sonofabitch!

JIM
Grab him!

CASIANO and FREDDIE restrain him. AGUSTIN grabs the pistol from Sean’s hand.


SEAN
(Struggling)
God damn you! Let me go!

JIM
(Getting up close)
Sean! Stay out of it!

SEAN stops struggling and calms down. CASIANO and FREDDIE release him.


AGUSTIN
This is not the time to pick a fight.

SEAN
(Bitter)
What do you care! After we finish this mission you’re walking out on us.

JIM
Soldier, that’s enough! (then) Agustin is right. No matter what we do, someone is going to end up dead.

SEAN
(With a look of reproach)
So we’re just going to sit here and do nothing?

SEAN sits down. All remain silent looking embarrassed.

JIM puts his mug next to the coffee-pot, then takes the pistol from Agustin.


JIM
(With a look that invites no arguments)
Wait here. (without much ado, he exits)

No ones says a word; all exchange suspenseful glances as they strain to anticipate what’s going to happen next. A few beats and more screams. Then, a shot echoes in the night. Now is the man’s turn to scream. Except for Agustin, they all jump to their feet.


AGUSTIN
(Trying his best not to look worried)
Wait! (gives them a “not to worry” smile when they look back at him)

They comply, sit down and sweat it out as they try to keep cool. After a couple of anxious beats, JIM enters wiping rainwater away. AGUSTIN breathes easy.

JIM goes straight to the coffee-pot, puts the gun down and calmly refills his cup. The rest of the men just stare at him barely able to contain their excitement and thirst for details.


JIM
(Philosophically, after sipping the coffee)
This life’s a killer. If a bullet doesn’t do it, the pressure will.

Before anyone can dwell on this, they hear the sound of someone approaching at a run. Enter CAMACHO, revolver in hand and murder in his eyes. He stops and looks at Jim, who drinks his coffee with maddening calmness.


CAMACHO
¡So Cabrón! [You motherfucker!] You shot Chewy!

CAMACHO raises his revolver at Jim. Simultaneously, SEAN aims his rifle at Camacho, and AGUSTIN aims his pistol at Freddie and Casiano. They remain motionless. JIM sips his coffee.

FREDDIE and CASIANO, have no intention of intervening. While Freddie looks nervous, Casiano keeps his cool and makes a slight gesture of peace by raising his palms to Agustin and smiling. AGUSTIN returns the smile, but keeps his aim.

CAMACHO’S heavy breathing accentuates the tension.


JIM
(Cool)
Is he dead?

CAMACHO holds his aim and his stare on Jim for a tense beat. Then he lowers the weapon and holsters it.


CAMACHO
(Grudgingly)
No. He’ll live. (then) What do you care about a peasant girl in the middle of nowhere?

JIM
My village.

CAMACHO gives him another murderous look. Then he glances at the others and wisely exits.


AGUSTIN
(Matter of fact)
He’s going to come after you.

JIM
(Nodding)
I know.

CASIANO
He’s going to kill you all; means to collect for that past embarrassment. (all eyes lock on him, then) Tomorrow, keep an eye on Camacho.

JIM
We’ve been keeping an eye on all of you. (then, after a curious look) Why do you tell us this?

CASIANO
(Grins)
Men who share their coffee are better company than a beast.

SEAN
(Distrustful)
I figured you guys on his side.

CASIANO
(Shrugs)
Strictly business.

JIM
(At Freddie)
And you?

FREDDIE
I have four sisters. I wouldn’t hesitate to kill any man who tries to hurt them.

JIM nods, then smiles to himself at the irony.


JIM
(Eyes steady on Freddie and Casiano)
Tino, what do you think about our odds for tomorrow?

AGUSTIN
(Grinning back)
I think they have greatly improved.

THE TENSION breaks and smiles of relief are exchanged. JIM grabs the coffee-pot and refills Freddie and Casiano’s cups.


JIM
(As he serves them)
Gentlemen, mi casa es su casa. (raising his cup in a toast) To us and another sunrise! Salud!

CASIANO and FREDDIE
(Crossing themselves)
¡Con Dios y la Virgen. ¡Salud!

SEAN
Amen to that. ¡Salud!

AGUSTIN
¡Qué así sea. ¡Salud!


END OF ACT 2 - SCENE 2




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