At the Gates of Gaza 9781783196722, 9781783191734

This is my War. My War for Civilization. My War for Freedom. My Life. My Race. My Place. My Honour. My Home. Stranded in

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 9781783196722, 9781783191734

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First published in 2014 by Oberon Books Ltd 521 Caledonian Road, London N7 9RH Tel: +44 (0) 20 7607 3637 / Fax: +44 (0) 20 7607 3629 e-mail: [email protected] Copyright © Juliet Gilkes Romero, 2014 Foreword © Richard Smith, 2014 Juliet Gilkes Romero is hereby identified as author of this play in accordance with section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The author has asserted her moral rights. All rights whatsoever in this play are strictly reserved and application for performance etc. should be made before commencement of rehearsal to The Agency, 24 Pottery Lane, Holland Park, London W11 4LZ. No performance may be given unless a licence has been obtained, and no alterations may be made in the title or the text of the play without the author’s prior written consent. You may not copy, store, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this publication (or any part of it) in any form, or binding or by any means (print, electronic, digital, optical, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.


A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. PB ISBN: 978-1-78319-173-4 E ISBN: 978-1-783-19672-2 Cover design by Konstantinos Vasdekis Printed and bound by Marston Book Services, Didcot. Visit to read more about all our books and to buy them. You will also find features, author interviews and news of any author events, and you can sign up for e-newsletters so that you’re always first to hear about our new releases.


Contents Foreword The Characters Act One Scene One Scene Two Scene Three Scene Four Act Two Scene One Scene Two Scene Three


Foreword Opening a Caribbean Communities in Europe event at Goldsmiths College in October 2014, the writer Donald Hinds1 related an encounter of his teenage years holding particular resonance in relation to West Indian experiences of the First World War. Donald was accompanying his grandmother to the newly-opened University Hospital at Mona, Jamaica in 1953 when an elderly British West Indies Regiment (BWIR) veteran introduced himself with the words, ‘Boy! During the First World War, I stooped down and drank from the River Jordan.’ In July 1917, the machine gun section of the First battalion had been commended by General Allenby for an assault on the Ottoman forces along the Gaza-Beersheeba line in Palestine. The following September, men from the First and Second battalions of the BWIR took part in the Allied victory Megiddo which resulted in the final collapse of the Ottoman armies. After a gruelling march, the First battalion secured the ford crossing the Jordan at Jisr-ed-Damieh (Bridge of Adam) with a ‘spirited bayonet charge’ in the early hours of 22 September. Several West Indians received gallantry awards, including Private Hezekiah Scott of Jamaica and Acting Sergeant Richard Turpin of Trinidad who both received the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Megiddo was the site of several ancient battles, an association which gave rise to the millennial prophecy of Armageddon – the clash of great armies which would bring about the ‘end of


days’ and the realisation of the kingdom of heaven on earth. In the British West Indies, millennial interpretations of the King James’ Bible provided visions for the overthrow of slavery and the injustices of colonialism. Crises in the decade preceding the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, such as the South African War (1899-1902) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) provided proof of the imminent collapse of the European empires for black intellectuals such as Edmestone Barnes2. Juliet Gilkes Romero’s play is located at the very heart of this element of the West Indian religious imagination. At the Gates of Gaza, through its association with Samson’s Biblical betrayal, immediately takes us to the raw, and very often, bitter experiences of the 16000 West Indians who served in the BWIR. Volunteers to a man, they had been urged forward by patriotic speeches and charity events, bellicose verse in newspapers and King George V’s ‘Appeal for Men’, read to West Indian church congregations in October 1915 as the British government deliberated on conscription to swell the ranks at home. The chance of regular pay and a square meal was also an enticing prospect for peasants and workers struggling to find two or three days of casual labour on the sugar plantations each week. West Indians were also encouraged by the stance taken by Marcus Garvey. Having founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association on the eve of war, Garvey almost immediately issued a statement of loyalty to the British Empire in the hope of a post-war dispensation which might alleviate the poverty of the black West Indian majority. Such expectations were not realised as the opening scene of At the Gates suggests. Instead, demobilised West Indian veterans faced a new fight for their lives in the racial violence 7

that swept cities such as Cardiff, London, Liverpool and Glasgow in the spring and summer of 1919. Indeed, the front line encounter with the Turkish Army during 1917 and 1918 was but one of many struggles West Indian soldiers faced. The closing scene, as Fairchild’s traumatic memories of the battlefield merge with the immediate violence of 1919 Liverpool, forcefully brings home that the war is far from over. The formation of the BWIR was announced in the London Gazette on 26 October 1915. Until this decision was taken, the West Indian governors and the War Office had debated how the issue of black volunteers should be handled. The Manual of Military Law (1914) limited the number of black men that could be recruited, insisting they should be classed as aliens, even though regarded as British subjects under civil legislation. Recruiting officers took an ad hoc approach to individual West Indians who arrived in Britain to volunteer. Some were accepted, others rejected out of hand. Skin shade was clearly a factor, particularly in the matter of commissions; a black man could rise to the rank of sergeant only. Although the BWIR was established as an infantry regiment, the racial discourses of empire presented black men as volatile, ill-disciplined and insufficiently intelligent to cope with modern weaponry and battlefield conditions. Initially accommodated at Seaford, Sussex on the English coast, the first two battalions of the BWIR were moved to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in early 1916 on lines of communications duties. Subsequent contingents served on the Western Front and at Taranto in Italy as labour battalions, loading shells, building roads and laying telephone lines; in 8

the line of fire, while denied a combat role. It was not until 1917, that the battalions in the Middle East were deployed in a more active role and against the Ottoman forces, rather than a European foe. The performance of the BWIR in Palestine and Jordan campaigns, which forms the backdrop to At the Gates, received official praise and was held up as an example of imperial cohesion. However, the demobilisation period brought the increasingly discriminatory attitudes of the military towards black troops to a head in December 1918. Forced to clean the latrines of Italian labourers at Taranto, the 9th battalion mutinied, attacking officers and refusing to work. The military authorities responded decisively, disarming all West Indian battalions in Italy and court-martialling nearly fifty privates. A short-lived national organisation, the Caribbean League, was formed by a number of sergeants eager to implement social reforms on their return home. Sergeant H. B. Monteith, a teacher in civilian life, captured the mood in a poem, later published in the Jamaica Times, which called on ‘Lads of the West’ to ‘sweep injustice from our land’3. This call for West Indian unity did not breach the ‘small island’ divisions which brought about the early demise of the Caribbean League and which At the Gates alludes to in the threatened sparring match between Styles of Barbados and Big George from Jamaica. This scene is also the most suggestive of the frustrated masculinity experienced by the black volunteers, vented most often on the youngest in the group, Fairchild. Herein lies the most significant contribution made by At the Gates. Historians have slowly been recovering the 9

contribution made by West Indians and other colonial subjects during the First World War. However, the emotional charge associated with West Indian military service is something that perhaps only a creative piece can fully convey. Juliet Gilkes Romero’s powerful drama conveys the palpable sense of wonder West Indian troops may have felt in the Holy Land. This she deftly interweaves with the bitter frustration of men prevented from fully displaying their capacity to fight which, ironically, is finally demonstrated in the face of baying mobs in 1919. Richard Smith Author of Jamaican Volunteers in the First World War (Manchester University Press, 2004) Department of Media and Communications Goldsmiths, University of London 1 see especially Donald Hinds, Journey to an Illusion (London: Heinemann, 1966) 2 Richard Smith, ‘J. Edmestone Barnes, a Jamaican Apocalyptic Visionary in the Early Twentieth Century’ in Karolyn Kinane and Mike Ryan (eds), End of Days: Popular Conceptions of the Apocalypse (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009). 3 28 June 1919, 8.


For Mum, Dad and Gary to whom I owe an eternal debt of gratitude and love. You bring light to all that I touch.

Acknowledgements I would like to thank everyone who encouraged and supported the production of At The Gates of Gaza. Also, Earl Cameron who inspired me with stories about his encounters with WW1 West Indian veterans following his arrival in London in 1939. I would also like to thank Lloyd Trott, Carl Miller and Dr Richard Smith who all guided my burning curiosity, research and vision. I am indebted to the actors Ben Bennet, Matthew Moxon, Curtis Cole, Toyin Omari-Kinch and Fabian Spencer who shaved off his dreadlocks to play his role. Enduring thanks to the producer Michaela Waldram Jones and also dramaturg Neil Grutchfield for the countless hours we spent together debating, unravelling and honing this


drama. And last but not least, I must thank director Steven Luckie for driving this end game and making my dreams come true.


The Characters FAIRCHILD Mixed raced, from Liverpool, about fifteen PATTERSON Black from Trinidad, about twenty-five STYLES Black from Barbados, about nineteen MILLER White from Yorkshire, about twenty BIG GEORGE Black from Jamaica, about eighteen WALCOTT Black from Jamaica, about thirty

The Place A Boarding House for Negroes, Liverpool A Dugout, Palestine


The Time Summer 1919 Winter 1917

The Setting The play starts in Liverpool, the Summer of 1919. The ‘war to end all wars’ is over. The fires of industrial England rage with urgent fervour and Liverpool struggles like a prize fighter to its feet. The sun, as it has always done, sets over the Mersey, the City’s life blood, the bearer of commerce, cotton, sugar and Negroes. The warm Summer breeze is keen to announce a new land fit for heroes, but the air has turned foul, the Mersey is now red, with the chaos and violence of furious race riots. Armed police search out Negro war veterans who are refusing to vacate their hostel dwellings and surrender to the mob.

At the Gates of Gaza opened on 2 October 2008, at The Door, Birmingham Rep. The cast was as follows:


Curtis Cole



Fabian Spencer


Ben Bennet


Toyin Omari-Kinch


Matthew Moxon

Director, Steven Luckie Set Designer, Mark Walters Lighting Design, Crin Claxton Sound Design, Colin Thorpe Producer, Micahela Waldram Jones


Act One SCENE ONE Sunset. Liverpool. 1919. A hostel for Negro war veterans and seamen. The dormitory has four dishevelled iron cots and looks as if it’s been hastily abandoned. A Union Jack hangs forlorn above a chest in a corner; its broken drawers are hanging open. On the floor sits a small battered suitcase, the contents spilling out. FAIRCHILD, blind and drunk, gropes on the floor, wearing only underpants, and a tarnished St Christopher chain. He finds some old clothes and tries to stuff them into the suitcase. He gives up for a moment, reaches for a half empty whisky bottle then drinks with hard thirst. FAIRCHILD is startled by the sound of someone trying to open the dormitory door. He freezes. The doorknob rattles. Then a fist hammers against the bolted door. WALCOTT (Voice off.): Fairchild! It’s me. Open up. A beat. WALCOTT hammers the door again. WALCOTT (Voice off.): (Urgent.) It’s Walcott. Hurry man!


Again, WALCOTT batters the door, this time with more violence. WALCOTT (Voice off.): Unlock dem blasted door man. Dem go KILL WE. Too drunk to care, FAIRCHILD downs more whisky. WALCOTT (Voice off.): (Furious.) Fool! Let me in! Pause. WALCOTT (Voice off.): (Softer.) Look. I bring whisky man. Two bottle. Yo’ Favourite. Open dem door and we go share it. FAIRCHILD thinks about the offer. He gathers his inebriated senses and gropes his way forward. He listens at the door and then unbolts it. WALCOTT, a sinuous, black war veteran, barges through, carrying a knapsack. He looks around wild eyed. WALCOTT: (Furious.) You watless’ hard ears beggah! Blind and drunk is not enough? WALCOTT snatches the whisky bottle from FAIRCHILD. WALCOTT: I did tell you be ready! FAIRCHILD: I am ready. WALCOTT: I did tell you to pack.


FAIRCHILD: I’ve packed, look. WALCOTT: Where yo’ pants man? Boots! You can’t go naked! What wrong wid you? FAIRCHILD: I’m just thirsty. I need a drink. WALCOTT rifles through the clothes strewn on the floor. He finds a vest and trousers. WALCOTT: Dem send soldier to shoot we and you in here half cut. Get up man! WALCOTT yanks FAIRCHILD from the floor. He struggles to help FAIRCHILD into his trousers. WALCOTT: You ent’ see how I riskin’ my life to save yours? Is fifty white men try to lynch me up in Swann Street. Armed wid clubs and knives. See me running like a wild man. Three days dem gallows bait riot now. Dem block off de main street all up by Custom House. We hostel up in Dexter Street – MASH UP! Dem drag out furniture and all de bedding. Mek a bonfire! Den I watch dem up on de roof. Rippin’ tiles, concrete and throwing dem down like rain ‘pon Negro people head. On my life you never see such a crowd. Dem drag Johnson from he hospital bed and toss he in de Mersey. Johnson try to swim for it but dem pelt him wid rock. De man dead. So is Max. Dem police just stan’ up and watch. Like all is we fault. FAIRCHILD: What’s going on? WALCOTT: (Annoyed.) You know what going on.


WALCOTT forces the vest over FAIRCHILD’s head. WALCOTT: Armageddon. Dem against we. But during dem war dem did want we. Recruit we. Now de fight over dem want to evict we. FAIRCHILD: I’ve done nothing wrong. WALCOTT: You is nothing but a nigger to dem. And don’t you forget it! WALCOTT goes to the chest of drawers. He empties worn vests and socks into his knapsack. He finds an old loaf of bread and packs that too. FAIRCHILD: Where’re we gonna live now? WALCOTT: De fire station up in Chester Street. Dat is where we black folk hiding. Women. Children too. Dem say we safe in there. For now. FAIRCHILD: Will it be warm there? WALCOTT: Most likely. FAIRCHILD: Better than here? WALCOTT: Much better dan dis damp hole. FAIRCHILD: Walcott? WALCOTT: What?


FAIRCHILD: I’m feeling really cold. Gun shots and the sound of breaking glass. Dogs begin to bark wildly. WALCOTT rushes to the window. He looks down. WALCOTT: (Panic.) Police! Dem reach. Where yo’ coat man! Boots! WALCOTT rifles the room for FAIRCHILD’s missing coat. He hurries into an adjoining room to continue the search. FAIRCHILD gropes for his stuffed suitcase. His struggles to force it shut. As he does so a black shadow melts through the gloom and into the room. FAIRCHILD stops packing. Frightened, he looks around. FAIRCHILD: (Hushed voiced.) Yous’ again. A beat. FAIRCHILD: Every time I feel yous’ you make me want to drink. FAIRCHILD reaches for a whisky bottle packed in the suitcase. He screws off the cap. FAIRCHILD: A toast. God Save the King! Death to the Kaiser. Peace in our time. FAIRCHILD drinks. FAIRCHILD: All I wanted was to be Remembered. Show the world I had the guts.



He stabs a finger into the dark. FAIRCHILD: You promised me victory. The dawn of a new day. Shouting and gun shots are heard in the distance. FAIRCHILD: Now they’re drowning us in the Mersey. That’s not what was promised. FAIRCHILD pulls the St Christopher from his neck. He flings it to the floor. FAIRCHILD: I don’t need this. Any of this. So why don’t you bugger off. I’m out of here. I’ve packed look. I’m off where yous’ can’t find me. I won’t stay. Not here with you. Again, FAIRCHILD struggles to shut his suitcase. FAIRCHILD: Yous’ can’t tell me what to do anymore. I’m not listening. Eh? You want to show me what? What for? NO! That’s the past. It’s dead and gone. I won’t go back. FAIRCHILD stuffs his fingers in his ears. FAIRCHILD: Are yous’ deaf? This is my life! I won’t go back there. Leave me alone! I said NO! NO! Darkness envelops FAIRCHILD. He buries his head in his hands. He curls into a ball on floor. Blackout.


SCENE TWO Midday. A dugout somewhere in Palestine. 1917. Lights up on FAIRCHILD fast asleep, curled in a ball as in the previous scene. The crude grit and unevenly sand bagged walls are pockmarked from sustained machine gun and mortar fire. A shallow, upward slope leads to a battered watch point. The hide away is protected by an oversized crop of rock jutting from a mountainous wall. Even so, the sun beats down a cruel glare. There are three other soldiers, grimy and sweating. PATTERSON, with a pair of binoculars, keeps guard at the watch point. He scans the desolate valley for any sign of life. STYLES and BIG GEORGE work below, repairing the dugout wall with scattered sandbags. BIG GEORGE: Man. I remember that day good. Cavalry on one flank. We on de other. Then it start up. If you see shellfire! Whip up like a storm. As if Lucifer self come and belch out dat gun smoke. The enemy flyin’ everywhere like cockroach. One see me on the ground. I stan’ up straight wid me rifle hol’ like so (demonstrates.) BAM! FAIRCHILD wakes with a start. BIG GEORGE: The man fall down. Dead! PATTERSON: (Annoyed.) Quiet! STYLES: (At BIG GEORGE.) Hush yo’ goat mout’.


BIG GEORGE: (Low voice.) Then I finish he wid de bayonet. See de rest of dem Turk flee. Just like Mapapee from a burning cane field. Tail on fire. Me and Braithwaite did whup some backside. STYLES: If you fight as hard as you stretch yo’ mout dis war soon be over. BIG GEORGE: Beersheba. It was a battle hard fought and won. Plenty prisoner. STYLES: Plenty dead. BIG GEORGE sees that FAIRCHILD is awake. He nudges STYLES. BIG GEORGE: Speaking of the dead. Styles turns to look at FAIRCHILD. STYLES: Is he alright? FAIRCHILD sits bolt upright, blinking, confused. He grabs his rifle and points it straight at STYLES. STYLES: (Warning.) You best point that somewhere else. PATTERSON: Fairchild. Wake up man! FAIRCHILD lowers the rifle. BIG GEORGE: Look like he in shock. Dreaming of hell. Full wid dem living dead like La Diablesse.


FAIRCHILD: What’s a Diablesse? BIG GEORGE: She a pretty, pretty woman. Does like to walk alone in the dark of the night. And if she see a pretty fella she like to shimmy real close and when she raise she long skirt to show off she naked, long leg you go see she have one good foot and one cow foot! Is then she lay a curse pon you! FAIRCHILD recoils. FAIRCHILD: Liar! There’s no such thing. BIG GEORGE: She half woman. Half devil. You will see she at night. FAIRCHILD: Maybe where you come from. PATTERSON: Take no notice of his stories. It’s just childish superstition. FAIRCHILD: Where are we? PATTERSON: A dugout. Abandoned. Good shelter for now. Again, PATTERSON raises the binoculars and glasses the valley below. He suddenly leans forward, his eyes straining toward the horizon. PATTERSON freezes. STYLES watches him. STYLES: What is it? A beat.


STYLES: You see something? Patterson? PATTERSON regains his composure. PATTERSON: It’s nothing. Just a shadow. Finish your work. Below, FAIRCHILD is searching his tunic pockets. FAIRCHILD: (Panic.) Where’s me water? Where’s it gone? PATTERSON: You stumbled. Hit your head. Dropped your bottle. FAIRCHILD: Where? PATTERSON: Out there. FAIRCHILD: (Disbelief.) Someone’s drunk it! STYLES: Watch yo’ mout. Who you calling tief? FAIRCHILD: Please. I’m really thirsty. Can I have some of yours? PATTERSON: There’s none left. FAIRCHILD looks around at BIG GEORGE and STYLES. FAIRCHILD: What are we going to do without water? PATTERSON: Braithwaite’s gone to search for your bottle. And any others he may find amongst the departed.


BIG GEORGE: Seeing as yo’ butter fingers drop we last supply. FAIRCHILD: I don’t remember. BIG GEORGE: You saw a dead man. Crisp in the sun. Damn near wet yo’ self. FAIRCHILD: You’re telling lies again. PATTERSON: (At BIG GEORGE.) That’s enough now. FAIRCHILD: Are we lost then? PATTERSON: Of course not. Our comrades cannot be far. Braithwaite will soon return. Then we move out. Re-group. In the meantime help Styles and Big George repair the defences. We don’t want the enemy crawling in. FAIRCHILD does not move. PATTERSON: That was an order. Get to it. Grudgingly, FAIRCHILD gets to his feet. He joins the others as they work, hefting sand bags. FAIRCHILD: I feel sick. I need water. BIG GEORGE: I did fight a whole day without water at Beersheba. Then we capture dem Turk water well. And full to the brim. Man. That night. We drank sweet water til’ our belly near bust.


FAIRCHILD: Does he have to talk about water? BIG GEORGE: But you wouldn’t know nothing ‘bout that victory cos you wasn’t there. (At STYLES.) The boy ent’ face a fire fight yet. FAIRCHILD: I’m not a boy. BIG GEORGE: I’m telling you. The King personal go salute me. Wid victory parade. In England. Dem go shower me wid rose and ribbon. FAIRCHILD: Now I know why they call yous’ water mouth. BIG GEORGE: Who? FAIRCHILD: It never stops running. PATTERSON and STYLES can’t help but laugh. BIG GEORGE: Who’s he calling water mouth? FAIRCHILD: I’ve seen the King. For real. All turn to look at FAIRCHILD. FAIRCHILD: It was when King Edward died. Every body cried. They dressed me all in black. Everyone was in black. All the clocks were stopped and the windows shuttered and the shops locked up. Even the Kaiser (FAIRCHILD spits derisively.) was there. King George marched behind the coffin.


PATTERSON: You saw this? In London? FAIRCHILD: It was as if God himself had died. PATTERSON: You were in London for the death of King Edward? STYLES: (Suspicious.) How old were you? FAIRCHILD: (Defensive.) Old enough. BIG GEORGE: (Jealous.) Man you must have been nothing but a baby. FAIRCHILD: Was not. BIG GEORGE: Man you was nothin’ but a baby when King Edward died. Cos you only now just reach a boy. FAIRCHILD stops working. FAIRCHILD: I said I’m NOT a boy! BIG GEORGE: Come then. Throw me yo’ best punch. Let me see it. Let me see you fight like a man. If you know how. PATTERSON: (Warning.) There’ll be no fighting in here. BIG GEORGE: (At STYLES.) You should see my right hook. Just like Jack Johnson. FAIRCHILD: Boxing’s for gentleman. They don’t allow coloureds in the ring.


BIG GEORGE: How you mean? Johnson the first coloured heavyweight Champion of the world. Undefeated til’ 1915. You don’t know yo’ history. FAIRCHILD: I’ve been to school. A proper one. In England. BIG GEORGE: Then how comes you ignorant? FAIRCHILD: You calling me stupid? (to the others.) Is he calling me stupid? PATTERSON: Of course not. BIG GEORGE: Don’t allow coloured in de ring. (Indicating STYLES.) See he? Got flair. Got style. That is why dem call him Styles. One time Bajan prize fighter. That’s what the boys in C Company tell me. (At PATTERSON.) You think I could beat he? Jamaica ‘gainst Barbados. Got the hands for it. (He shadow boxes.) Just got to know how to attack and defend. Quick on yo’ feet. Who you think de best? BIG GEORGE grabs STYLES in a strangle hold. Playfully, he attempts to pin his comrade. STYLES struggles to break free. STYLES: Get off me! BIG GEORGE: Submit or fight. You small island roughneck. PATTERSON: That’s enough. STYLES: Dis is not boxing you Jamaican fool!


BIG GEORGE: Fight man. We have to fight. For de King and all his peoples! It the fight of de century. The stadium go bust. STYLES: I’m warning you! BIG GEORGE: The enemy is on the ropes and now it’s a left jab to the body and a right to de ribs. PATTERSON: (Amused.) Let him go. BIG GEORGE: Referee signalling but the contender keep raining blows upon the enemy’s head. And de enemy is on the canvass! Yes Lords and Ladies the Empire has a winner! PATTERSON: That’s enough. You’ve had your fun. BIG GEORGE celebrates punching his fist in the air. He releases the furious STYLES who unleashes a right hook as BIG GEORGE ducks away. STYLES: I’m gonna bust yo’ mout’. Put an end to it for good! (At PATTERSON.) You need to discipline he Patterson. Or let me do it. PATTERSON: (Warning.) Keep the noise down. All of you. BIG GEORGE: I just need to stretch myself. Cooped up here like a fowl in a fowl shack. Ent’ natural. PATTERSON: Just save your strength for the enemy. BIG GEORGE: I go show dem Turk de meaning of left hook.


BIG GEORGE throws a couple more punches to make his point. PATTERSON: Go on. Back to work. The men continue to repair the wall. FAIRCHILD: Didn’t join up to fight Turks. Why do I have to fight Turks? BIG GEORGE: (At STYLES.) Where he come out? PATTERSON: They are supporting the enemy. FAIRCHILD: I want to fight Germans. They said I was going to France to fight Germans. They’re better soldiers than the Turks. BIG GEORGE: Why? FAIRCHILD: Better class of people. STYLES kisses his teeth. STYLES: What wrong wid you? Enemy bullet don’t care ‘bout yo’ foolish prejudice. FAIRCHILD: Maybe I’ll ask for a transfer. BIG GEORGE: (At STYLES.) Think he special cos he born in England.


PATTERSON: (At FAIRCHILD.) It’s not about who you are fighting against but what you are fighting for. BIG GEORGE: That’s right. PATTERSON: You should be proud to fight for the Empire no matter where you are. BIG GEORGE: Amen. PATTERSON: Just remember that. BIG GEORGE hoists a sand bag and begins to sing. BIG GEORGE: ‘We de mighty lions fighting for we king. We de mighty lions we always fight to win. We de mighty lions here to protect de Empire pride. We de mighty lions wid we king shall abide. STYLES sings too. The men work to the beat. FAIRCHILD eventually sits exhausted. He wipes sweat from his face. FAIRCHILD: Where’s Braithwaite? With the water? A beat. FAIRCHILD: He’s been gone a long time. A beat. FAIRCHILD: Suppose he’s not coming. Suppose – STYLES: Suppose what?


FAIRCHILD: You know. Suppose he’s – BIG GEORGE: Don’t put no curse mout’ ‘pon Braithwaite. That man (A beat.) he’s my brother. My blood. We swore it on the Bible. FAIRCHILD: I was just saying. BIG GEORGE: (Angry.) My best friend riskin’ he life cos you drop yo’ water bottle. PATTERSON: Look. Why don’t you men take a break? Write some letters home. Relax. How about that? FAIRCHILD: Letters? PATTERSON: Yes letters. FAIRCHILD: I don’t feel like writing letters. PATTERSON: Remind your loved ones of your sacrifice. FAIRCHILD: It’s too hot to write letters. BIG GEORGE: (At STYLES.) Maybe he ent’ know how to write. FAIRCHILD: (Defensive.) I know how to write. I went to a proper school. BIG GEORGE: In England. We know.


STYLES: So how comes you ent’ know nothing ‘bout dem colonies? Where yo’ folk come from? FAIRCHILD: What? STYLES: You look like you have family back home. A father? Mother? (A beat.) You never been in de Colonies? FAIRCHILD: Why would I want to go there? STYLES: Perhaps yo’ father was a seaman? Many men from de Colonies work on ships to England. BIG GEORGE: Must be why dem put he along wid we. FAIRCHILD: I don’t know why they put me with you. BIG GEORGE: Wha’ppen? Dem English ent’ want you? FAIRCHILD is visibly hurt but says nothing. BIG GEORGE: (At STYLES.) Must have been born outside of the Empire. Behind God’ back. FAIRCHILD: I was born in Liverpool. BIG GEORGE: What colour was yo’ father? FAIRCHILD: Eh? STYLES: (At BIG GEORGE.) Leave the man alone. BIG GEORGE: Yo’ father. What colour?


FAIRCHILD: Who wants to know? BIG GEORGE: I was only asking. FAIRCHILD: Stop asking me stupid questions. STYLES: (At BIG GEORGE.) I said leave he. BIG GEORGE: I ent’ asking no stupid questions. I just asking what colour the father? FAIRCHILD: Leave me the FUCK alone! Sudden gunfire. A sniper’s bullet rips through the dugout. All throw themselves to the ground. PATTERSON climbs closer to the edge of the dugout. He spies the terrain then aims his rifle and takes a precision shot. A thud is heard as a sniper’s body falls from the outcrop of rock. FAIRCHILD: (Whisper.) Fuck. Is he dead? STYLES: Patterson never miss a shot yet. PATTERSON: (Hissing.) Keep low. There must be others. BIG GEORGE: You and yo’ goat mout’ gone and wake de whole neighbourhood! STYLES: (Up at PATTERSON.) You think the varmint have water?


PATTERSON: Very likely. BIG GEORGE: A whole bottle full. I can smell it from here. PATTERSON: We need that water. STYLES: I’ll go. BIG GEORGE: You went the last time. I’ll do it. PATTERSON: Actually. It’s Fairchild’s turn. FAIRCHILD: (Frightened.) Me? BIG GEORGE: Who butter finger? PATTERSON: It’s Fairchild’s turn. Let him go. FAIRCHILD: Styles wants to go. PATTERSON: This is a burden we must all share. FAIRCHILD: They’ll see me. I’ll get shot. PATTERSON: Are you refusing your duty? FAIRCHILD does not move. PATTERSON: So noted. FAIRCHILD: This is stupid. BIG GEORGE: I did tell you the boy too soft.


PATTERSON: I will go. STYLES: But you in charge. If something happen to you – PATTERSON: Not if you get up here and cover me. I’ll climb down that way (indicating his plan.) but wait for my signal. FAIRCHILD: There’s snipers and bodies, dead out there. BIG GEORGE: (At PATTERSON.) When you get the water. Don’t give he none. He too yellow belly. FAIRCHILD: I’m no coward. BIG GEORGE: I ent’ ‘fraid for no enemy. FAIRCHILD: I said I’m not a coward. PATTERSON: (At the others.) Cover me. PATTERSON shoulders his rifle and grabs a purchase on the rock. FAIRCHILD: Alright! (A beat.) I’ll do it. FAIRCHILD scrambles up the ridge to PATTERSON. BIG GEORGE: He go get he self killed and then we’ll have no water. PATTERSON: (At FAIRCHILD.) Are you ready for this?


FAIRCHILD nods. PATTERSON: Then don’t be afraid. FAIRCHILD: (Nervous.) Okay. PATTERSON: You know what to do. You are trained. Check the pockets for water. Don’t forget to look for bullets. Bring back water, bullets and nothing else. You understand? FAIRCHILD peeps nervously over the dugout wall. FAIRCHILD: You’ll be right here, won’t you? PATTERSON: Of course. I won’t move until your return. FAIRCHILD hesitates for a fearful moment. He crosses himself then carefully climbs over the ledge. Several shots rings out. PATTERSON at the watch point returns fire. Another body thuds to the ground. The men crane their necks to see if FAIRCHILD is still alive. BIG GEORGE: The boy dead? STYLES: Where is he? (At PATTERSON.) Why you send he? PATTERSON: He has to learn about team work. Respect. A beat. BIG GEORGE: Look. There he is. PATTERSON: (Hissing.) Fairchild. Keep yo’ head down.


BIG GEORGE: He go get it blown off. STYLES: He’s coming. BIG GEORGE: He have water? You see it? Scuffling of earth as FAIRCHILD nears the dugout. PATTERSON: Careful. Watch yourself. STYLES: Quick man. More scuffling of earth as FAIRCHILD scrambles, panting back into the dugout. He collapses into PATTERSON’s arms. BIG GEORGE and STYLES crowd around him. BIG GEORGE: Well? PATTERSON: Let him breathe. BIG GEORGE: Where’ de water? PATTERSON: Give him room. BIG GEORGE: Where is it? FAIRCHILD: (Between gasps.) There was none. BIG GEORGE: How you mean? FAIRCHILD: No water.


BIG GEORGE: Bull shit! (At PATTERSON.) You should have send me. FAIRCHILD: There’s a lot of them dead around the rocks out there. I searched lots of pockets but – BIG GEORGE: (Suspicious.) Search he. FAIRCHILD: Eh? BIG GEORGE: Check he pockets. BIG GEORGE grips FAIRCHILD by the arm. PATTERSON: (At BIG GEORGE.) Let him go! FAIRCHILD: Get off me! STYLES: Keep your voices down! FAIRCHILD: (Struggling to get free.) There was no water! PATTERSON: (At BIG GEORGE.) Control yourself! STYLES: Quiet! You want to get we all killed? STYLES takes the binoculars and anxiously watches the valley below. FAIRCHILD: He’s crazy. PATTERSON: (At BIG GEORGE.) Cool yourself! (At FAIRCHILD.) Go and rest. You did your best.


Exhausted, FAIRCHILD climbs to the lower level. As the others keep watch, he sits with his head in his hands. A moment, then discreetly he pulls something from his pocket. BIG GEORGE who is watching climbs down and confronts FAIRCHILD. BIG GEORGE: What’s that? FAIRCHILD: Nothing. FAIRCHILD tries to hide his find. BIG GEORGE: What’s that in yo’ pocket? Don’t mek me come and search. FAIRCHILD: It’s a necklace. I found it. Could fetch a nice price. PATTERSON climbs down. PATTERSON: What have you done? FAIRCHILD: It’s just a necklace. PATTERSON: Where’s your shame! FAIRCHILD: It’s pretty, look. PATTERSON: Those beads could be religious. Muslims use them to pray with. FAIRCHILD: I earned them fair and square.


PATTERSON: (Angry.) You put them back where you found them. FAIRCHILD: What? Out there? PATTERSON: You put them right back! FAIRCHILD: I’ll get shot. PATTERSON: You deserve it. What were you thinking? PATTERSON takes the beads from FAIRCHILD. He flings them over the dugout wall. PATTERSON: We’re not thieves or evil men. BIG GEORGE: That’s right. PATTERSON: We are Christian men. FAIRCHILD: We steal water. PATTERSON: For survival. Without water we die! STYLES at the watch post gesticulates for silence. PATTERSON: (Hushed voice at STYLES.) What is it? STYLES: Movement. PATTERSON: Are you sure? STYLES: I think I saw movement.


PATTERSON: Don’t think. Be sure! PATTERSON joins STYLES. He takes the binoculars and scans the wasted terrain. PATTERSON: There’s nothing there. The sniper is dead. STYLES: I think we should leave. BIG GEORGE: What about Braithwaite? STYLES: He’s a good soldier. He can handle himself. BIG GEORGE: You know I can’t leave without Braithwaite. STYLES: This place is not safe. PATTERSON: Calm down. It’s safe enough for now. Nightfall. That’s when we leave. With or without Braithwaite. Is that clear? PATTERSON looks at the men. PATTERSON: Cheer up. Where’s your faith? We’re the ones in control. A beat. PATTERSON: Come. All of you. I want to show you something. I know you’re tired. Thirsty. But this is important. This will make you feel alive (Pointing.) See. Over there. Far on the horizon. I believe that’s the place they call Samson’s Ridge. Can you see it?


STYLES: What ridge? PATTERSON: (Annoyed.) You’re not looking hard enough. PATTERSON gives STYLES the binoculars. PATTERSON: Look again. The others strain to see. PATTERSON: Now if you know your Bible you will know that Samson himself carried the Gates of Gaza up that very ridge. He was a brave man Samson. A great and powerful warrior. No one could defeat him. But he lost his focus. Allowed himself to be distracted by Delilah who cut off his hair. The very source of all his strength. That’s when his enemies captured him. Enslaved him. Dug out his eyes. Left him broken. Bleeding. They brought him to their temple to mock and laugh. But in this moment of his greatest weakness he discovered his moment of final strength. He prayed to God ‘Dear Lord remember me and give me strength only this once. Dear Lord remember me and give me strength only this once!’ Then Samson pulled down the temple pillars upon himself crushing the enemy all at once. This is how he set his people free. Samson sacrificed himself for his people. Their future. Here. (A beat.) In this holy land we are surrounded by all of God’s work and the faith of men such as Samson. Hold onto your faith. And know that it sustains you. Your mission. If you keep your minds sharp. Focused. You will live. Keep them sharp. If your instinct is not sharp you will hesitate at the moment of truth. (Pause.) Go and ready your rifles. I will keep watch. (A beat.) Go on.


Quietly, the others clamber down to the lower level. They sit, dismantle their bayonets and proceed to sharpen them. STYLES: (Whispers to BIG GEORGE.) You see dis Samson Ridge? You see what Patterson preaching about? BIG GEORGE: Patterson see it good. Patterson never lie. STYLES: I’m telling you. There was nothing there. BIG GEORGE: You calling the man a liar? STYLES: Of course not. But maybe he’s seeing things that just aren’t there. FAIRCHILD gets up. BIG GEORGE: Where are you going? You ent’ hear de man say ready yo’ weapon? FAIRCHILD: The loo. If that’s alright. Can I go now? FAIRCHILD goes to the back of the dugout. STYLES: (At BIG GEORGE.) Give de boy a break nuh man. Lights up on FAIRCHILD at the back of the dugout. He unbuttons his fly. He stands to relieve himself. FAIRCHILD looks around to make sure no one is watching. Then he reaches inside his tunic pocket. He furtively pulls out a bottle of water retrieved from the dead sniper.


He opens it carefully sniffing the contents. He cautiously puts it to his mouth and sips, then takes a long, hard, thirst quenching drink. Fade to black.

SCENE THREE Sunset. Red and orange clouds gather over the dugout. PATTERSON, tense at the watch point, repeatedly scans the valley below. STYLES and BIG GEORGE squat beneath, waiting, rifles ready. BIG GEORGE: (Low voice.) Dat de third time the boy say he want to pee. Is how he can pee so? A beat. BIG GEORGE: I would like to pee too. I ent’ have a pee for almost two days now. A nice long hot, refreshing pee. That’s what I would like. A beat. BIG GEORGE: (Annoyed.) Every five minutes he gone for a pee. STYLES: Don’t exaggerate. De boy nervous. Can’t you see? Just leave he. Try and be nice. BIG GEORGE: (Kisses teeth.) Nice? 46

FAIRCHILD returns. He sits. Pause. BIG GEORGE: (Trying to be nice.) You alright there? FAIRCHILD: (Suspicious.) Fine. Just relaxing. BIG GEORGE: Good. FAIRCHILD: You? BIG GEORGE: Fine. Relaxin’. Awkward pause. Big George reaches inside his knapsack and pulls out a cigarette tin. He peeps inside. FAIRCHILD watches with longing. FAIRCHILD: Couldn’t spare me one could you? BIG GEORGE: One what? FAIRCHILD: A fag. Just one. BIG GEORGE: (At STYLES.) He want a fag now. FAIRCHILD: Was only asking. Could kill for a smoke. BIG GEORGE: Dis in here go make you choke. FAIRCHILD: I can smoke anything. What brand you got? STYLES: You don’t want to know.


BIG GEORGE slides back the cigarette tin lid and reveals the contents to FAIRCHILD, who sharply backs off. BIG GEORGE: Frightened? FAIRCHILD: (Scared witless.) No. BIG GEORGE shows FAIRCHILD again. This time FAIRCHILD inches back further. STYLES: (Warning.) Best don’t open dat lid too wide. BIG GEORGE: Undefeated champion. Five contests. FAIRCHILD: Kill it. BIG GEORGE: You mad? Best fighting scorpion in Palestine. Earns big money. Ever seen one this size? FAIRCHILD: Not in Liverpool I haven’t. BIG GEORGE: Braithwaite capture and train he. Relax he asleep now. FAIRCHILD: Didn’t come here for the wild life. BIG GEORGE: You in the wrong place den. Got snake. And centipede. Six inches long and deadlier than scorpion. I even see a spider big so (BIG GEORGE demonstrates.) And hairy. Like a monkey. Richards from Dominica he had one of dem. He and Braithwaite organised a fight. We put dem in a cardboard box. At first dem do nothing.


STYLES: Dem got good sense. BIG GEORGE: Was almost like dem knew what was expected but dem both look speechless to find a member of a different breed. Richards took a piece of stick and give dem both a good lick. Get dem mad. After a bit of sparring my friend here deliver a couple of licks and a swish of he long tail. Then grab the spider by he face, lift he clean off the ground and sting he right between the eyes. Richards cry that night man. The very next morning Richards met wid a shell. Right in he bivouac. Nothing left. He and spider gone. STYLES: God ent’ create nature for yo’ ignorant sport. BIG GEORGE ignores STYLES. BIG GEORGE: (At FAIRCHILD.) See he? BIG GEORGE offers FAIRCHILD a closer look at the scorpion. BIG GEORGE: Braithwaite call ‘im Lock Jaw cos when he bite he don’t let go. But I go call him Samson from now. Cos he strong and tek no prisoner. I will let you feed he. STYLES kisses his teeth. BIG GEORGE: (At STYLES.) You said be nice. FAIRCHILD: What does it eat? BIG GEORGE: Small spider and ting’. Here hold de tin.


BIG GEORGE thrusts the tin at FAIRCHILD who is sweating with fear. BIG GEORGE: I have his dinner right here. BIG GEORGE searches in his knapsack and retrieves another cigarette tin. BIG GEORGE: (Low voice.) But don’t tell Patterson. He won’t like it. PATTERSON who’s been listening lowers his binoculars. PATTERSON: I’ve told you before. Throw that unfortunate creature away. BIG GEORGE: (Dismayed.) I just keeping he safe for Braithwaite. PATTERSON: Get rid of it! BIG GEORGE: He not causing no trouble. PATTERSON: I don’t want it captive in this dugout. That’s an order. PATTERSON turns his attention back to the watch. BIG GEORGE takes the scorpion from FAIRCHILD. He holds his fingers to his lips appealing for discretion, then quietly puts the scorpion back into his knapsack.


BIG GEORGE: (Whisper.) I made a promise to Braithwaite. I go keep his tings safe. I am a man of my word. (A pause.) You remember how back at Beersheba he did fight wid de strength of ten men? I looked at the sky and did see shells were flying. Earth was flying. Dem dead were flying. (A beat.) This no good varmint jump up from a hole in de ground and shoot me. The bullet rip through my tunic and shatter the rifle butt. Man the force knock’ me flat. Then the devil varmint try to run me right through. Braithwaite appear out the gun smoke from nowhere. Take aim and he end he for good. I go never forget what he do. Pause. BIG GEORGE: (Anxious.) Where is he? A beat. BIG GEORGE: It getting dark. A beat. BIG GEORGE: He should be back by now. A beat. BIG GEORGE: (Panic.) Suppose he injured or something? Suppose he – STYLES: Hush man. Relax yo’ self. BIG GEORGE: Suppose –


STYLES: The man a fighter. The man smart. If he got good sense he’ll be lying low in a hole some place. (At FAIRCHILD.) Isn’t that right? FAIRCHILD: (Unconvinced.) Yeah. I suppose. STYLES: I feel it my bones. BIG GEORGE: (Convinced.) Me too. Pause. BIG GEORGE: (More cheerful.) You know when dis war over me and Braithwaite we going into business. Music. We go open a club. Showcase all the best beats. Charang. Dis new ting’ spreading dem call Jazz. And plenty pretty women in dem finery and ting’. STYLES: You best save yo’ money. Instead of waste all on some foolish dream. BIG GEORGE: (Annoyed.) En’t no foolish dream. We have big plans. You will see. STYLES: Concentrate on thins that go bring benefit to we people. Like land. Grab it. That’s what I’m going to do. FAIRCHILD: Who you? STYLES: No white man to evict you when ‘im please. Cos it yours. We people want independence. Not more rum shop wid music.


BIG GEORGE: Come telling me ‘bout foolish dream. You self know that black folk can’t buy no decent piece of Empire’ land. STYLES: After this war tings go have to change. Forget glory and King and country. Save the King’ shilling for yo’ own house and yo’ own food and yo’ own animals to raise. PATTERSON: (From the watch.) You forget the Empire provides us with all these things. STYLES: I’m talking about freedom. PATTERSON: Perhaps you would prefer to be enslaved by the Germans? BIG GEORGE: Exactly. PATTERSON: Just concentrate on winning this fight. Then you will enjoy the true taste of British gratitude. BIG GEORGE: True. PATTERSON: And leave politics to the politicians. It’s not your business. Now pack up your things we’re moving out. BIG GEORGE: But Braithwaite’s not back yet. PATTERSON: I said we would leave at nightfall. BIG GEORGE looks up at the dark clouds gathering over head.


BIG GEORGE: But suppose the man fall down and break a foot? Suppose he hurt bad and need we help? PATTERSON: Come and keep watch while I pack. BIG GEORGE: But he went to find we water. STYLES: Friend. Don’t make this any harder. BIG GEORGE: Braithwaite’s my friend! PATTERSON: Relieve me. BIG GEORGE: But Patterson – PATTERSON: That’s an order! PATTERSON climbs down and begins to pack his things. The others follow suit except BIG GEORGE who watches them immobilised. They ignore him. Awkward silence. FAIRCHILD: When the war’s over I’m going to play football. PATTERSON: You should go home and learn a trade. Something useful. FAIRCHILD: It pays if you’re good. STYLES: Dem pay people to kick a ball?


FAIRCHILD: Of course. But they won’t let you play though. You’re foreign. BIG GEORGE: (Brooding.) I ent’ want to hear no bull shit ‘bout football. FAIRCHILD: It’s not bullshit. It’s great. You have to have skill. You have to have speed and ability. BIG GEORGE: (Resentful.) Nobody want to hear yo’ mout’. PATTERSON: (At BIG GEORGE.) Go. Keep watch. Don’t leave us exposed. BIG GEORGE: (Belligerent.) Braithwaite missing because of he and now he want to brag ‘bout football. FAIRCHILD: (At PATTERSON.) He’s just jealous cos he doesn’t know how to play. PATTERSON: (At FAIRCHILD.) You be quiet. (At BIG GEORGE.) Go! BIG GEORGE: How he know I can’t play? Where dem fetch dis nigga man from? FAIRCHILD stops dead in his tracks. FAIRCHILD: Who you calling nigger? BIG GEORGE: You. FAIRCHILD: I’m no nigger.


BIG GEORGE: You is half a nigga man then! PATTERSON: I think that’s enough. FAIRCHILD: Nobody calls me a nigger! STYLES: Hush nuh man! BIG GEORGE: Think he better than the rest of us cos he born in England! Let him take his nigga self all de way back to Liverpool. See how dem like it. FAIRCHILD launches himself at BIG GEORGE. FAIRCHILD: Nobody calls me NIGGER! BIG GEORGE: Don’t mek me have to box him down! STYLES tries to separate FAIRCHILD and BIG GEORGE. STYLES: (To FAIRCHILD.) Relax yo’ self! FAIRCHILD, furious, manages to land a right hook on BIG GEORGE. All hell breaks loose as BIG GEORGE tries to punch him back. PATTERSON arrives and grabs hold of FAIRCHILD. PATTERSON: Stop it! FAIRCHILD: Let me go! BIG GEORGE: (Furious.) Let me deal wid him!


PATTERSON: (Shaking FAIRCHILD.) I said stop it! FAIRCHILD: (Still trying to reach BIG GEORGE.) Who’s he calling nigger! I’m no nigger! Yous’r the nigger! BIG GEORGE: He want to fight? I go beat him blue. STYLES: Shut up man. PATTERSON: (At FAIRCHILD.) Control yourself! BIG GEORGE: See the boy crazy like a fool. PATTERSON: (At BIG GEORGE.) FAIRCHILD.) Breathe! Calm yourself.




STYLES: (At BIG GEORGE.) And don’t you be calling the boy no nigga. He don’t like it. BIG GEORGE: (Irritated.) Man. Hush yo’ goat mout’. Without warning, loud scuffling sounds can be heard from beyond the dugout. STYLES motions violently for quiet. STYLES: (Low voice.) I hear somethin’ PATTERSON drops FAIRCHILD and snatches his rifle. PATTERSON: (Whisper.) What is it Styles? STYLES: (Pointing.) Somebody up there. BIG GEORGE: Braithwaite?


PATTERSON: Hush man. As STYLES un-sheaths a large Bowie knife, a body collapses into the dugout. STYLES clambers up the slope and catches the intruder by the throat. He drags him to the lower level. PATTERSON: Wait. He’s one of us look. Let go his windpipe. Let go! STYLES drops the intruder who is bloodied and bedraggled. BIG GEORGE: He look like an English Officer. FAIRCHILD: Is he breathing? Fuck. Look at his arm. STYLES: That look like a real mess. PATTERSON: Where’s the medical kit? Hurry! FAIRCHILD goes in search of the medical kit. BIG GEORGE: (At STYLES.) Mek him comfortable. PATTERSON: Stand back. All of you. Let the man breathe. FAIRCHILD finds and hands PATTERSON the medical kit. The intruder opens his eyes. He recoils in shock. INTRUDER: (Yorkshire accent.) Don’t touch me! PATTERSON: Easy. INTRUDER: Keep away! I said keep away. I’m English.


PATTERSON: It’s alright. You’re safe Sir. The intruder looks around wide eyed. INTRUDER: (Incredulous.) You speak English? PATTERSON: Of course. Without warning the intruder produces a pistol. He points it straight at PATTERSON. PATTERSON: You can put that away Sir. STYLES: He go shoot you. FAIRCHILD: You’re frightening him. BIG GEORGE: Relax Sir. We want to help you. The intruder indicates with the gun. INTRUDER: Over there where I can see you. All of you. The men retreat. PATTERSON: (Carefully.) I’m Lance-Corporal Patterson. This is Fairchild. This is Big George and Styles. The intruder blinks in confusion. STYLES: He think we de enemy. FAIRCHILD: He doesn’t understand you. Let me talk to him.


FAIRCHILD moves towards the intruder who immediately points his gun at him. INTRUDER: What do you want from me? FAIRCHILD backs off. PATTERSON: You have a serious wound Sir. The soldier pulls his arm close. INTRUDER: I’ll shoot. All of you! STYLES: This is not working. INTRUDER: Who are you? Whose side you on? BIG GEORGE/FAIRCHILD: Yours Sir. PATTERSON: We are the British West Indies Regiment, Sir. We are not going to hurt you. STYLES: (Slowly.) We are not the enemy. PATTERSON: Sir. Put the gun down. The confused soldier stares hard at the faces around him. INTRUDER: Negroes? Wasn’t expecting Negroes. Suspicious again he threatens the men with his gun. They pull away.


INTRUDER: What are you doing out here? So far up the line? Labour Units never come into the line. STYLES: What’s he talking about? PATTERSON: Sir. We are not labour. STYLES: We’re infantry. PATTERSON: There was an attack. We got separated. INTRUDER: Where’s your commanding officer? PATTERSON: Like I said we got separated. INTRUDER: You’re lost. PATTERSON: We’re not lost. Just separated. For now. FAIRCHILD: We sent Braithwaite. For Water. News. INTRUDER: He’s dead then. BIG GEORGE: (Anxious.) What’s he talking ‘bout? BIG GEORGE looks at PATTERSON for support but gets none. The intruder tries to stand. INTRUDER: I can’t stay here. FAIRCHILD: Don’t go. We’ve got bandages. Morphine. PATTERSON: Rest. Put away your gun. 61

He produces a vial of morphine. PATTERSON: Take it. INTRUDER: That’s major fucking knock-out drops. You think I’m stupid? PATTERSON: I think you must be in pain. The intruder takes the vial. INTRUDER: What makes you say that? He sips the morphine then spits explosively. INTRUDER: What’s that! PATTERSON: Morphine. INTRUDER: That’s not Morphine. Morphine don’t taste like that. STYLES: Take it or leave it. We don’t have much. Awkward pause. PATTERSON: As I said I’m Lance Corporal Patterson. A moment. INTRUDER: I’m Miller. Sergeant Miller to you. FAIRCHILD: And your men? Are they close? With provisions? Water? Do you have any water? 62

PATTERSON: (At FAIRCHILD) Hush. I think we should remove the Sergeant’s jacket first before we interrogate him. MILLER: Why? PATTERSON: Your arm. It needs attention. MILLER: I’ve seen worse. PATTERSON: The wound. It must be cleaned. MILLER: It’s fine. STYLES: He won’t bite you. MILLER: Don’t trouble yourselves. PATTERSON: Infection could spread. Then where will that leave you? FAIRCHILD: And us? MILLER: I said no. (A beat.) Thanks. MILLER pulls his bloody arm closer to his chest. BIG GEORGE: (At STYLES.) Like he want to die early. MILLER: I’m in no hurry to do anything. Anyway whose to say you’re not enemy spies. FAIRCHILD: Spies? BIG GEORGE: Since when do I look like a spy? 63

PATTERSON: I can assure you Sir we are loyal servants of the Crown. STYLES: If I were the enemy he’d be dead by now. MILLER: Where’s your sense of humour? STYLES: He see me laughing? PATTERSON: (At STYLES.) Quiet! MILLER: Can’t be too careful. There are spies everywhere. BIG GEORGE: (To PATTERSON.) How comes he’s never heard of us? MILLER: So you’re in charge then? PATTERSON: Until we re-group. We were about to move out. MILLER: The place is crawling with the enemy. Properly infested. PATTERSON: Where are your men? MILLER: (Defensively.) My men? PATTERSON: They must be quite close? MILLER: Yes. And there’s lots of us. So you better be telling the truth.


PATTERSON: I have no reason to lie Sir. Miller’s head rolls back. He closes his eyes. STYLES: (Whisper.) Look at the state of him. He can’t leave wid us. BIG GEORGE: Perhaps we should wait. Let him recover a bit. STYLES: We can’t stay here. FAIRCHILD: He’s an Officer. We can’t leave him. STYLES: The man near dead. PATTERSON: It wouldn’t be decent. STYLES: Then let we fix de arm. FAIRCHILD: He doesn’t want you to touch him. STYLES: He asleep he won’t know. PATTERSON: You want a court martial or worse? He will soon change his mind. You just have to know how to handle white folk. STYLES: The man calling you a liar. PATTERSON: What do you want me to do? He’s a Sergeant. He out-ranks me.


MILLER opens his eyes. He stares at the men with renewed suspicion. MILLER: So you’re an officer then? PATTERSON: Non-commissioned. MILLER: Africans? From the colonies? BIG GEORGE: (Indignant to STYLES.) I look like an African to you? STYLES: Nigga man, hush yo’ mout’. PATTERSON: My home is Trinidad. BIG GEORGE: (Proud.) I’m from Jamaica. MILLER: What part of Africa is that then? PATTERSON: It’s in the West Indies. Most of A Company is from Trinidad. B company is mainly Jamaican. C Company is mixed. Bajans, Dominicans, Guyanese, St Vincians. All trained in England. BIG GEORGE: The place dem call Sussex. FAIRCHILD: I’m from Liverpool. MILLER: You? FAIRCHILD: (At STYLES.) What’s that supposed to mean?


PATTERSON: We are several battalions. Every man a volunteer. Proud to fight for King and Empire. MILLER: Is that so? (A beat.) They said it would only last six months. One glorious cavalry charge. The upper classes victorious again. Now everybody’s in it. Negroes. Indians. There’s even women. We caught a few at Gallipoli. Paint themselves green to match the scrub. Top brass don’t like to talk about it. Next they’ll be recruiting bats and cats. Mark my words. MILLER gets shakily to his feet. Sweating from pain, he takes three unsteady steps. PATTERSON: Are you alright Sir? MILLER: Gets cold in the Valley at night. PATTERSON: I have fresh bandages for your wound. MILLER sees BRAITHWAITE’s cigarette tin. MILLER: Wouldn’t mind a smoke? BIG GEORGE: Dis in here is not for smoking. MILLER: I was only asking. PATTERSON: (At BIG GEORGE.) Where are your manners? Give the Sergeant a Cigarette. (A beat.) Go on. BIG GEORGE sheepishly draws back the lid and shows MILLER the contents.


PATTERSON: (Annoyed.) You were supposed to get rid of that! BIG GEORGE: (At MILLER.) Big fella isn’t he? MILLER: That’s nothing compared to the one that Appleton’s got. BIG GEORGE: (Interested.) Oh? MILLER: His could rip yours apart. No trouble. BIG GEORGE: Is dat so? MILLER: (Looking closer.) Appleton’s got more experience. You can tell by the scars. Just got one eye left but he’s mean. Real mean. And the claws on him. BIG GEORGE: We’ll have to see about dat. Won’t we? I’ve got a shilling here says my friend will destroy yours and make Appleton weep. MILLER: (Derisively.) Is that all you’ve got? BIG GEORGE: Afraid to put up your money? MILLER: I’ll put up half a crown when the others find me. BIG GEORGE: You do that. MILLER: Our boys against the British West Indies what’s its name regiment.


PATTERSON: (Uncomfortable.) Gentlemen – MILLER: Then we’ll see whose the best. Won’t we? BIG GEORGE: Anytime. MILLER: Any place. BIG GEORGE: We be ready! PATTERSON: (Forced cheerfulness.) Let’s all just keep a level head. I’m sure we can make the meeting an event worthy of the bonds of brother hood and Empire. MILLER: Eh? MILLER suddenly slumps to the floor. PATTERSON: More morphine? PATTERSON passes MILLER another vial. MILLER: Just remember. I’ve got my eye on you. PATTERSON: We haven’t forgotten. MILLER sips cautiously. MILLER: No nonsense now or I’ll shoot. He sips again. Then his head rolls back as he sags with a pneumatic sigh. His gun drops to his side. Patterson takes


back the morphine bottle. The men stare at the unconscious MILLER. FAIRCHILD: Does this mean he’s in charge now? Blackout.

SCENE FOUR Night. The full moon breaks from a bank of black clouds. BIG GEORGE, STYLES and FAIRCHILD are all keeping guard. PATTERSON, below, watches MILLER sleep. He turns to make sure no one is looking then he leans forward and carefully removes the gun from MILLER’s hand. PATTERSON empties the barrel of its bullets. He pockets them quickly and returns the gun to MILLER who wakes with a start. He looks around. MILLER: (Suspicious.) everybody gone?



PATTERSON: Keeping watch. MILLER: All of them? PATTERSON: The nights are the most dangerous. Awkward pause. PATTERSON: How’s your arm Sir? 70


MILLER tries to sit up. Patterson reaches forward to help. PATTERSON: Easy. MILLER pulls away defensively. He looks back at the watch post. MILLER: I hope they know what they’re doing. PATTERSON: As I said they were trained in England. MILLER: No need to worry then. Uncomfortable pause. Patterson notices MILLER’s wedding ring. PATTERSON: I see you’re a married man Sergeant. Must be nice to have a wife. Someone to care for you. MILLER: Has its benefits. Pause. PATTERSON: She must be looking forward to seeing you again. (A beat.) She won’t forgive me if you don’t let me tend to your arm. MILLER: It’s just a scratch. (A beat.) Your men. They look a bit young. PATTERSON: But keen to prove themselves in battle. (Pause.) How far did you say your men were?


MILLER: (Evasive.) The war’s crawling with kids. Do you have any? PATTERSON: Any what? MILLER: Children. PATTERSON: No. A beat. PATTERSON: I had a son. Once. MILLER: (Awkward.) Oh. PATTERSON: It’s alright. Time is a great healer. MILLER: Well you can always try again you know. It’s not the end of the world. We lost our first two. Now we have the four. All that dribble and shit makes coming here look relaxing. Pause. PATTERSON: I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of your battalion. MILLER: The wife’s working in a munitions. Doing her bit for King and Country. Just before the war the government was offering skilled men land in South Africa. Of course she wanted us to go. Wanted a farm. Servants and things. Said I could raise sheep and sell the wool. How bloody far is South Africa! Good money in textiles though.


PATTERSON: The benefits of Empire. MILLER: I told her no. My Dad died in South Africa fighting them Boers. Besides I said I’d miss the lads and going fishing. But now of course shaving sheep seems a lot more attractive. MILLER crumples forward in pain. PATTERSON passes him the vial of morphine. MILLER drinks it. PATTERSON: Easy, Sergeant. MILLER sits back lighted headed, feverish. MILLER: I expect they’ve got all kinds of strange fish in the Colonies? PATTERSON: Fish? MILLER: You like fishing don’t you? PATTERSON: I don’t mind it. We’ve got Red Snapper. Perch. Flying Fish – MILLER: Flying fish? Got wings have they? Fly too far then perish in the heat? That’s the Empire for you. Too much sun. It’s not natural. Still I expect it’s better than being stuck down the pits. PATTERSON: Pits?


MILLER: Coal mines. You know. Must have pits where you come from? Everywhere has coal mines. Coal provides energy. Work. Where did you work then? .

PATTERSON: The Church. The poor always need your help. Your attention. MILLER: Were you some kind of a priest then? Religion and war. Don’t exactly go do they. PATTERSON: Both have called me. A man without faith is like a soldier without a gun. MILLER: Faith. Guns. Enough to drive a man insane. Got men in my regiment swear blind they seen Angels flying like geese above the battle field. Swear they’ve been touched by the Holy Ghost himself. And while they’re praying they get shot. No. I’ve no time for Bible wallahs. Seen too many of them dead. PATTERSON: It will all be over soon. The last battle is coming. Armageddon. The locals call it Meggido. It’s quite close. MILLER: (Shivering.) Is that when the forces of good and evil are supposed to do battle? PATTERSON: I believe future generations will thank us for it. MILLER: The great Palestine push. Never look back till the field be won lads. No. This place is God forsaken.


PATTERSON: I tell the men to prepare themselves for a better, cleaner world. MILLER: You’ll confuse them. PATTERSON: It’s the war for civilisation itself. MILLER: Civilisation now? FAIRCHILD approaches. FAIRCHILD: (At PATTERSON.) Styles says to tell you he can see shelling on the horizon. MILLER stabs a shaking finger at FAIRCHILD. MILLER: Well lad before yous’ lot rush out and build a new world you best fix that hole behind your corporal’s head. FAIRCHILD: (Confused.) What hole? MILLER: Up there. There’s a big hole behind your Corporal’s head with barbed wire missing. Where’s the logic in that? Eh? PATTERSON: (Annoyed.) Well go and fix it then. FAIRCHILD goes to investigate. MILLER: You see that’s what I’m talking about. You’ve done everything else except you’ve left this big gap. This is how the enemy gets in and fucks with your mind.


PATTERSON: I think you could do with a bit more sleep. MILLER: This war. It gives you weird ideas that are not your fucking own. PATTERSON: I think you need to rest. MILLER: (Agitated.) Rest? I don’t need any more rest. I just need to get out of this place. I saw this huge cloud of locusts in Gaza one time. Swarms were so dense they blacked out the sun. Arrived full grown and ready for breeding. Not a foot of earth was free of them. Nobody knew what to do. Jews thought they were something to be fought and overcome. The Arabs said it was the Will of Allah. But in the end it was all bloody hopeless. The locust arrived in great waves over the countryside like fucking shell fire. The very bark of the trees was stripped and chewed away, leaving dead wood, bleached like fucking skeletons. Oh aye. They even devoured sheep whole and sleeping fucking babies! Dirty nappies an’ all. I’ve seen it. No. This place is God forsaken. He’s not home. FAIRCHILD and STYLES approach. STYLES: (At PATTERSON.) What’s going on? MILLER: You’re supposed to fix the hole! STYLES: (At PATTERSON.) I think there’s shelling going on. PATTERSON: (At MILLER.) Sir. Your wound is affecting your judgement.


MILLER: God forsaken I tell you. Nothing Holy about it. PATTERSON: (At STYLES.) Come. Hold him down. MILLER: It won’t get any better. Just like running into a burning house. No one can be saved. Looks about frantically as PATTERSON and STYLES close in. MILLER: What do you want? PATTERSON: To dress your wound, Sir. MILLER: Keep away! PATTERSON: Your arm, Sir! MILLER: Stop staring at me. I don’t know anything. I can’t help you. Last week I was just a Private. Now I’m a bloody Sergeant. Three ranks in four days. All I want to know is whether the gravy’s too thin? Are the sheets too cold? Is there jam on my bread? Is the bacon too hot? FAIRCHILD: (Dreamily.) Hot bacon. MILLER: Is it crisp? BIG GEORGE looks down from the watch point. BIG GEORGE: (Annoyed.) I don’t want to hear no talk about bacon!


MILLER: Does it sizzle and melt in the mouth? BIG GEORGE: Don’t vex me now! PATTERSON: Hold him. MILLER: I’ll shoot you all. MILLER pulls out his pistol. MILLER: This war’s cursed. BIG GEORGE: Patterson move! All scatter except PATTERSON. MILLER, shaking violently, frantically pulls the trigger then realises the barrel’s empty. MILLER: Where’s my bullets? PATTERSON: Give me your arm. MILLER: Give me back my bullets! STYLES: (At PATTERSON.) Just grab he nuh man! PATTERSON takes the gun from MILLER, who slumps over gripped by fever. Heavy shelling breaks in the distance. Lights flash in the night sky. PATTERSON: (To FAIRCHILD.) Watch him. Don’t let him move.


PATTERSON and STYLES scramble to the watch post to assess the new danger. FAIRCHILD watches them for a moment then squats down and stares at MILLER. Then he notices BIG GEORGE’s knapsack. He makes sure no one is watching. He rummages through it and pulls out the scorpion tin. FAIRCHILD peels back the lid then shakes the creature free. FAIRCHILD: Go on. Clear off. I’ve just set you free. The scorpion stands there looking at FAIRCHILD. FAIRCHILD: I said clear off. Are you stupid or what? Your war is over. FAIRCHILD kicks ferociously at the insect. FAIRCHILD: Piss off. Before Big George gets back! He’s gonna cry when he sees that you’ve escaped. Good. I hate him. FAIRCHILD throws a stone at the scorpion. FAIRCHILD: Don’t yous want to be free? He watches as the scorpion finally runs off into the night. He puts the tin back into the knapsack. MILLER rolls over in pain. FAIRCHILD returns to the injured man. FAIRCHILD: Yous’ alright there Sergeant Miller?


FAIRCHILD prods MILLER awake. FAIRCHILD: You want to let Patterson take care of that. Before it turns rank. A beat. FAIRCHILD: Black treacle and powdered sulphur. That’s what me Mam would put on it. Wrap it with brown paper covered in goose fat. Purifies the blood. Otherwise you’ll die. I don’t want you to die. Patterson he’s good with wounds. We call him the light, the truth and the way. He’s always trying to make us feel good about ourselves. Thinks he’s Jesus Christ or something. Pause. The sound of shelling continues in the distance. FAIRCHILD tries to shake MILLER awake. FAIRCHILD: Sergeant Miller? (Low voice) Can I ask yous’ for something? A beat. FAIRCHILD: I know you’re not well an’ all but I need a transfer. Could you speak to someone? Use your influence? Cos there’s been a mistake made. FAIRCHILD prods MILLER again. FAIRCHILD: Hey? Sergeant Miller? I’m talking to you. FAIRCHILD looks around to make sure no one is watching. He fetches the water bottle from inside his tunic.


FAIRCHILD: I got qualities Sergeant Miller. I got an appetite for great things. Things they don’t appreciate. I can help you. Protect you. Look. I’ve got water. FAIRCHILD swigs greedily from the bottle then administers a minuscule amount to MILLER. FAIRCHILD: Not too much. I crawled over dead bodies for this. (A beat.) Now don’t you say anything. This is our secret. They don’t need it. They’re used to the heat. MILLER: Burning – FAIRCHILD: What’s burning? MILLER: Armageddon. FAIRCHILD: Arma – who? What’s all that about Sergeant Miller? MILLER: No one can be saved. FAIRCHILD: Now remember I can help you and you can help me. MILLER: Help – FAIRCHILD: A transfer is all I ask. I’ve got speed. Ability. You should see me play football. None of the kids on our street could take a ball off me. They’d chase me all over the place. All the way to the docks and back. Through dead cats and dog shit. Used to go home bleeding like a stuck pig. Me Mam she didn’t like it. The ball that is. She would find it and


give me a good hiding. Then she’d throw it out. She’d swear the ball was cursed. (Pause.) Dad bought me that ball. Best present I ever had. (A beat.) I lost my voice first time I seen his face. He only had half. Some fight on board his ship. Used to frighten the neighbours. They always looked away when we was together. MILLER: Water – FAIRCHILD: Ever seen a broken man bleeding to death in your yard? With his belly all ripped out? Big knife stuck in his guts? That’s what they did to him. Said he was some kind of alien. But he was just me Dad. That’s what they did to me Dad! MILLER tries to get up. FAIRCHILD pushes him back down. FAIRCHILD: (Angry.) I’m not finished. You can’t just get up and go. Every time I look at Patterson I see me Dad’s broken face. Every single time. It’s like they have the same face. Now all I see around me is my Dad’s broken face. A transfer out is all I’m asking. FAIRCHILD shakes MILLER. FAIRCHILD: (Angry.) Sergeant Miller! BIG GEORGE, STYLES, and PATTERSON return, hurriedly. They see FAIRCHILD shaking MILLER. PATTERSON: What’s going on? FAIRCHILD lets go of MILLER.


FAIRCHILD: Nothing. PATTERSON: What have you done? FAIRCHILD: We were only talking. (FAIRCHILD gives MILLER a friendly nudge.) About good things. Fried eggs. A bit of bacon. Weren’t we Sergeant Miller? STYLES: He can’t hear you. FAIRCHILD: We were only talking. PATTERSON: Get away from him! FAIRCHILD moves away. PATTERSON kneels and reaches to check MILLER’s pulse. He pulls back the man’s jacket. Three cans falls out. All recoil in horror. BIG GEORGE: BOMB! The men run for cover, throwing themselves to the ground. Silence. No explosion. Styles raises his head and gingerly reaches for one of the cans. STYLES: Dis here ent’ no explosive. PATTERSON approaches. Followed by BIG GEORGE. BIG GEORGE: What is it? STYLES: There’s writing. Don’t look like English. PATTERSON looks.


PATTERSON: It’s foreign. All look at MILLER. BIG GEORGE takes another can. It’s open. He peels back the lid and cautiously sniffs the contents. He sticks his finger in then tastes meat. BIG GEORGE: It’s good. PATTERSON: Don’t eat that! STYLES: De man a foreign spy. BIG GEORGE: I knew it! FAIRCHILD: (Disbelief.) Spy? STYLES: Yo’ friend here wid de enemy. FAIRCHILD: (Bewildered.) What the hell does that mean? Blackout.


Act Two SCENE ONE Midnight. STYLES sits at the watch post tucking into one of the tins of meat. BIG GEORGE and FAIRCHILD eat hungrily below. PATTERSON, rifle ready, is watching MILLER who is fast asleep. His feet are tightly bound. BIG GEORGE: I think we should shoot he. STYLES: (From the watch point.) You can’t just shoot he. BIG GEORGE: Why not? He’s our prisoner. We can do wid him as we please. You forget he did try to shoot we. Let’s wake him up. STYLES: You and Fairchild. Always troubling people. Just leave the man to sleep. BIG GEORGE: (At FAIRCHILD.) Go and search yo’ friend. FAIRCHILD: He’s not my friend. BIG GEORGE: See what else he have to eat. Or drink. My tongue here swollen wid thirst.


STYLES: We only search the dead. BIG GEORGE unsheathes a knife. BIG GEORGE: I can fix that. STYLES: (At PATTERSON.) Why don’t you say something? PATTERSON: I’m thinking. STYLES: You been thinking a long time now. BIG GEORGE: What’s to think about? It obvious the man cannot be trusted. Come in here. Drink up all we morphine and let lose he tongue ‘bout hell and burning damnation and big locust eating babies and full grown sheep. Dat ent’ very English. BIG GEORGE offers tinned meat to PATTERSON. BIG GEORGE: Why don’t you eat? Yo’ body need sustenance. Then all will become clear. PATTERSON: (At FAIRCHILD.) Go and check his pockets. FAIRCHILD: Me? BIG GEORGE: I’ll do it. PATTERSON: (At FAIRCHILD.) Search him. FAIRCHILD: I don’t want to touch him.


BIG GEORGE: Let me. FAIRCHILD: Big George wants to do it. PATTERSON: I don’t want him hurt! Do it carefully and do not wake him. BIG GEORGE: Patterson. De boy too scared. Annoyed, FAIRCHILD puts down his food. He reluctantly approaches MILLER, feels inside the sleeping man’s tunic and trouser pockets. BIG GEORGE: (Impatient.) Search properly. FAIRCHILD: There’s nothing here. PATTERSON: Search again. FAIRCHILD tries once more. He finds something. He holds it out for PATTERSON to see. BIG GEORGE: What is it? FAIRCHILD: A letter. BIG GEORGE: Is it in English? FAIRCHILD looks blankly at the letter. PATTERSON: Well? BIG GEORGE snatches the letter from FAIRCHILD.


BIG GEORGE: The boy don’t know. FAIRCHILD: You didn’t give me a chance. BIG GEORGE: How he get in the King army and ent’ know how to read? FAIRCHILD: That’s not true! PATTERSON: Just give me the damn letter. PATTERSON snatches the letter from BIG GEORGE. PATTERSON: (Reading.) ‘Dear Thomas. I hope you received the woollen socks. Your sister knitted them especially for you. She heard the desert gets cold at night – PATTERSON stops reading. He scans the rest of the letter. Pause. PATTERSON: Must be from his mother. BIG GEORGE: Just because he have a mother don’t mean he ent’ no spy. PATTERSON gives the letter to FAIRCHILD. PATTERSON: Put it back. Where you found it. FAIRCHILD does as he’s told. PATTERSON: Perhaps we should untie him.


BIG GEORGE/STYLES: No. STYLES: He can’t help we. We can’t help he. Let we leave this place and go. Those were your plans. Have you forgotten? PATTERSON takes the medical kit and opens MILLER’s tunic. He begins to clean the Sergeant’s wound. PATTERSON: We can’t just leave him. STYLES: Yes we can. PATTERSON: Do you have no shame? STYLES: (Angry.) You keep taking ‘bout shame. Well I learn to forget ‘bout that when we sail to England. Is there I taste real shame. The way dem laugh at we hair and colour. You forget? De way dem put we to live in shack not fit for cattle. Expose in dem winter. Wid cold to crack bones. We did have to bury some good people who died from pneumonia there. Skinner. Scantlebury. Benn. Mason. All dead from de chill. Dem ent’ even live to see a blind King’ shilling. So don’t talk to me ‘bout shame. I ent’ have none left! PATTERSON: That’s the damn past. Keep your eyes here in the present. That’s all that matters now. (Stabs a finger at Miller.) If he can get in here anyone can get in! PATTERSON returns to MILLER’s wound. BIG GEORGE looks around at his comrades.


BIG GEORGE: Yo’ all too uptight. Everybody just cool yo’ selves. We gonna get out of dis. And Braithwaite too. We go laugh ‘bout dis night when we all reach home eating Mama’s salt fish and ackee. Dis place might look like some grave yard but it not ours. This ent’ we final place to rest. His attention is caught by something protruding from the ground. BIG GEORGE: (Pointing.) Not like for him. FAIRCHILD and PATTERSON turn to see. BIG GEORGE: Like somebody FAIRCHILD.) Right under yo’ big toe.




Alarmed, FAIRCHILD inches back. FAIRCHILD: (Nervous.) There’s nothing there. BIG GEORGE leans forward and pulls a long object free from the earth. FAIRCHILD: What’s that? BIG GEORGE: Look like somebody leg bone. FAIRCHILD: Liar. BIG GEORGE waves it at FAIRCHILD. BIG GEORGE: Here. See for yourself.


FAIRCHILD: I’m not touching that. I don’t know where it’s been. BIG GEORGE tosses the leg into FAIRCHILD’s lap. FAIRCHILD: Get it off! BIG GEORGE: It’s just a leg bone. Looks fresh. FAIRCHILD: Get it fucking off me! PATTERSON: (At FAIRCHILD.) Hush your noise! FAIRCHILD: He’s put a dead leg on me. (At BIG GEORGE.) You’re disgusting you are. How would you like it if that was yours? FAIRCHILD throws the bone back at BIG GEORGE. FAIRCHILD: Laughing at a dead leg. How stupid is that? (Looking around, nervous.) Suppose there’s others. BIG GEORGE: Most likely. This de Holy Land. Men fighting here for centuries. FAIRCHILD abruptly stands. He hurries to a corner and proceeds to wretch. BIG GEORGE: Wha’ppen? I say something wrong? PATTERSON: Get out! BIG GEORGE: Out? Where?


PATTERSON: I said go! BIG GEORGE: What I do? PATTERSON: My hands are full here with one set of trouble. Now you have to go and start up another. Go. Keep watch with Styles. And don’t come back until you’ve grown some sense! Hurt, BIG GEORGE doesn’t move. PATTERSON: I said GO! BIG GEORGE grudgingly leaves and sits with STYLES. FAIRCHILD returns having thrown up. FAIRCHILD: I hate him. A beat. FAIRCHILD: I wish he were dead. PATTERSON: (Sharp.) Be careful what you wish for. FAIRCHILD: He’s always trying to put me down. PATTERSON: He’s just thirsty. Thirst can do strange and cruel things to a man. I suggest you keep out of his way. FAIRCHILD: He needs to keep out of mine. He’s stupid. (A beat.) I’ll kill him myself. PATTERSON: Now who’s being stupid?


FAIRCHILD: You saying he’s better than me? PATTERSON: From where I stand there’s not much difference between you. You both want to prove yourselves. Return home big men. The only difference between you is that Big George is the better soldier. FAIRCHILD’s mouth drops open in protest. PATTERSON: More experience on the battlefield. I trust him with my life. Can I trust you with mine? PATTERSON returns his attention to MILLER. FAIRCHILD: (Explodes.) You always listen to them! Nobody listens to me. Pause. FAIRCHILD: Everything’s fucked up around here anyway (A beat.) You end up doing stupid things just to survive. PATTERSON: Men do terrible things all of the time. But the truth is you have a choice. Maybe that’s what you’re here to learn. How to choose. FAIRCHILD: Yeah right. Kill or be killed. PATTERSON: I’m talking about the difference between courage and fear. Truth and lies. Faith and hopelessness. You can choose to be ignorant or you can choose to get educated. Wouldn’t you like to be able to read one day?


FAIRCHILD looks away. PATTERSON: Don’t worry. That’s for the future. You just need to grow up. Pause. FAIRCHILD: What happens if I die? PATTERSON is momentarily lost for words. PATTERSON: Concentrate on the conviction that you will live. Pray for this. Everyday. Do you understand? FAIRCHILD shrugs. PATTERSON reaches inside his tunic and removes a pendant from around his neck. PATTERSON: Here. He will help you. He gives FAIRCHILD the pendant. FAIRCHILD: What is it? PATTERSON: Saint Christopher. He will guide you on the most difficult road. But you must ask him for courage. He only works with those who believe. Faith will teach you not to flinch. Faith will teach you to face your fears. Faith will teach you to hold your ground. Whatever happens never flinch. FAIRCHILD: Okay.


PATTERSON: When the enemy is upon you. You look him right in the eye and you do not flinch. You show the world you have guts. When the moment comes I will not flinch. Say it. FAIRCHILD: When the moment comes I will not flinch. PATTERSON: Again. FAIRCHILD: When the moment comes I will not flinch. PATTERSON: Like you mean it! FAIRCHILD: When the moment comes I will not flinch! A beat. PATTERSON: Now, you are ready for battle. Blackout.

SCENE TWO Night. MILLER is sleeping propped up against some sand bags. He wakes in cold darkness. He sees his arm is in a sling. He feels it then looks around and, panic rising, he sees he’s alone. MILLER notices his cache of tinned meat strewn, empty before him. He struggles against his bonds. MILLER: Fuck!


A beat. MILLER: Bastards! MILLER fights to work himself loose but to no avail. He stops struggling. MILLER: (Whisper.) Hello? Pause. MILLER: Hello. A beat. MILLER: (Shouting.) HELLO! PATTERSON, BIG GEORGE and FAIRCHILD climb down from the watch post, leaving STYLES on guard. BIG GEORGE: Hush yo’ goat mout’. PATTERSON: You want to get us all killed? MILLER: Untie me! PATTERSON: Stop shouting. MILLER: You can’t do this. FAIRCHILD: Who says? FAIRCHILD thrusts his bayonet at MILLER.


PATTERSON: (At FAIRCHILD.) Easy soldier. MILLER struggles to break free. MILLER: Assaulting an officer. Improper conduct. I’ll see you all court martialled. And where’s my provisions? BIG GEORGE: Oh. He hungry now. MILLER: I’m bloody starved. BIG GEORGE: Is how three whole tins of enemy ration reach yo’ long fingers? MILLER: Now look. I found it. Fair and square. I was going to share it. I was just waiting for an opportune moment. Now you’ve gone and eaten it all. PATTERSON: Your name and rank? BIG GEORGE: Who are you? MILLER: Who the bloody hell are you? British West Indies Regiment? Never heard of it. Doesn’t exist. You made it up. BIG GEORGE: You see. If he was from England he would know who we is. MILLER: Do I look like the enemy? BIG GEORGE/STYLES: Yes. MILLER: A spy now?


FAIRCHILD: You told us lies. PATTERSON: Just answer our questions. MILLER: Now look. I’m the one in charge here. PATTERSON: What is your mission? MILLER: You don’t even know what you’re supposed to be doing here. FAIRCHILD: We’re defending the Empire. MILLER: That’s what they tell everyone. Opportunity they called it. Join Kitchener’s army. Go get your chance. Grab it while it’s hot. The draft board said they were sending me to a resort town with fruit by the sea. Who could refuse such a place? STYLES unsheathes his knife. STYLES: (At PATTERSON.) You want me to come down there and mek he talk sense? On seeing STYLES’ weapon, MILLER tries to make a run for it despite his bonds. BIG GEORGE pushes him back down. MILLER: Get off me. Cut me loose. Leave me in peace! PATTERSON: If that is what you want. We will leave you. (To the others.) Come. Get your stuff. We’re going. MILLER: Where? You can’t leave me like this.


The men gather their kit. MILLER: Wait. Water. Just a drop. My tongue. It’s swollen. Split right open. PATTERSON: We don’t have any water. MILLER: Please. A small mouthful. I know you’ve got water. (Pointing at FAIRCHILD.) He gave me water. The others turn to look at Fairchild. FAIRCHILD: Liar! I never did. MILLER: I could taste it. Smell it. It was good. FAIRCHILD: Don’t listen to him. PATTERSON: (At MILLER.) You must have been dreaming. MILLER: Go then. You’ll all get shot. You won’t survive. Then where will you be? (Desperate.) Just give me a drop of water. Suddenly, BIG GEORGE flings his knapsack to the ground. PATTERSON: What is it? BIG GEORGE: The cigarette tin. It’ open. PATTERSON: What cigarette tin? BIG GEORGE: Samson gone!


STYLES: He escape? PATTERSON: (Angered.) You call that creature Samson? BIG GEORGE tears off his tunic. He slaps himself in wild panic afraid the scorpion has escaped into his under garments. PATTERSON: Get dressed! BIG GEORGE: You see him on me? He have a nasty bite. PATTERSON: (Angry.) I said get dressed! BIG GEORGE: Where is he? PATTERSON: (Up at STYLES.) Did you release that thing? STYLES: No. But I glad for he. BIG GEORGE: (Pointing at MILLER.) Is he! MILLER: I haven’t touched your Samson. I just want a drink of water. BIG GEORGE stares wildly around the dugout. PATTERSON: Get dressed! That’s an order. BIG GEORGE: But Samson belong to Braithwaite. He will want him back. I was keeping he safe for he. Patterson can’t take anymore.


PATTERSON: You fool. It doesn’t matter! Braithwaite’s not coming back here. Braithwaite is DEAD. Stunned silence. Finally… STYLES: What are you talking about? PATTERSON looks away, ashamed at his outburst. STYLES: Patterson? Pause. PATTERSON: (Quiet.) I saw his body. STYLES: When! PATTERSON: Out there. By some rocks. BIG GEORGE: (Shock.) I don’t believe it. STYLES: You kept that a secret? BIG GEORGE: (Devastated.) You lied? PATTERSON: To protect you. Because people can’t always take the truth. It’s not what they want to hear. So just pull yourselves together. It’s my duty to keep the rest of you alive. So let me do my job! BIG GEORGE is grief struck. He drops to his knees. He begins to sob.


Suddenly he looks up, eyes wide and transfixed in horror on something above PATTERSON’s head. BIG GEORGE: Lord God! A beat. BIG GEORGE: Christ in heaven. PATTERSON: (Unnerved.) What are you looking at? BIG GEORGE: JESUS CHRIST. PATTERSON: Shut up man! BIG GEORGE: MOTHER OF GOD. FAIRCHILD: (At BIG GEORGE.) Stop yelling. BIG GEORGE gesticulates wildly. BIG GEORGE: DO YOU SEE IT? THE OTHERS: (Afraid.) See what? The men draw weapons aiming wildly at the darkness. MILLER struggles to his feet. BIG GEORGE: There. Right there. STYLES: There’s nothing there man! BIG GEORGE: TELL ME YOU SEE HIM?


PATTERSON wrestles BIG GEORGE to the ground and forces his hand over the frightened man’s mouth. PATTERSON: Look at me! LOOK. Open your eyes. Do not get us all killed. A beat. PATTERSON: I’m going to take my hand away from your mouth. Do not make a sound. PATTERSON removes his hand. PATTERSON: Are you calm? Breathe. No shouting. Look at me. Look! BIG GEORGE struggles to compose himself. BIG GEORGE: It – It was horrible. FAIRCHILD: (Scared.) What was horrible? BIG GEORGE: Him. I seen him. I seen him and there was a hole in he forehead. Blood was falling down. PATTERSON: Who man? Who did you see? BIG GEORGE looks up at PATTERSON. PATTERSON: (Shaking his head.) No. BIG GEORGE: It was him! I swear.


PATTERSON: Don’t be foolish. BIG GEORGE: It was Braithwaite. Right there. PATTERSON: Stop this! MILLER: Look at his eyes. He’s seen a ghost for sure. FAIRCHILD: But there’s no such thing. BIG GEORGE: I know what I seen. Wid my own eyes wide open. Braithwaite floatin’ in de air. PATTERSON: It was just shadows. The night. It can play tricks on a man’s eyes – BIG GEORGE: His spirit come to warn us – PATTERSON: I think you need to rest. BIG GEORGE: He say we have to leave now! STYLES: He said that? BIG GEORGE: He point straight at you Patterson. Like he did vex. Like you do him something wrong. He lock one eye wid your eye. PATTERSON: Me? BIG GEORGE: You de one who send him to find water. PATTERSON: He volunteered.


BIG GEORGE: I know you saw what I saw. PATTERSON: (Afraid.) I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’ve got no business frightening the others like this. You’re tired. Dehydrated. BIG GEORGE: I can still see he eye. De way it stare. MILLER: That’s what they all do. I seen them too. Faces smashed and gibbering. Then they leave their bodies and stare at you. With eyes black like pits. Mouths opening and shutting like stupefied trout. FAIRCHILD: I don’t believe it. MILLER: Then there’s the living dead who don’t even know they’re alive. I’ve seen them too. BIG GEORGE: (At PATTERSON.) You abandon Braithwaite. PATTERSON: I haven’t abandoned anybody! BIG GEORGE: You oughta’ pray. Pray for de man’ lost soul. Help him find a way home. You a man of God. PATTERSON: Do not tell me what I am! (A beat.) I want no more talk about Braithwaite. Ghosts. Or the living dead. We’re alive. Do you hear me? And I intend for us all to stay that way. Now pull yourselves together! PATTERSON stops dead in his tracks. He stares transfixed at something at the end of the dugout.


FAIRCHILD: What is it? STYLES: You see something Patterson? A bruised and bloodied BRAITHWAITE emerges and stares straight at PATTERSON. No one else can see him. PATTERSON steps back. FAIRCHILD: Patterson? Are you alright? BRAITHWAITE vanishes. PATTERSON stands frozen. FAIRCHILD: (Nervous.) I really think we should go now. MILLER: I think I’d like to come with you. FAIRCHILD: (At PATTERSON.) We’re ready to leave. PATTERSON turns to look at everyone. PATTERSON: Leave? A beat. PATTERSON: No one’s leaving. STYLES: What? PATTERSON: You’re all worked up. You need to rest. FAIRCHILD: But we’ve packed. PATTERSON: Lie down and sleep. 106

BIG GEORGE: I ent’ want to sleep. Not now. Not ever. PATTERSON: (Angry.) You’re not fit. None of you. If you leave now you won’t see the dangers. STYLES: You’re not well man. PATTERSON: Are you questioning my judgment? A beat. PATTERSON: You want to take my place? A beat. PATTERSON: I gave you all a direct order. Lie down and go to sleep! PATTERSON takes his rifle and climbs to the watch point. He sends STYLES down to join the others. They all watch PATTERSON as he crosses himself and prays. STYLES: (Whisper.) De man’ mind evaporate. BIG GEORGE: He seen Braithwaite. He can’t deny it. STYLES: I say we leave this place now. Before we trap here for good. FAIRCHILD: I’m not leaving Patterson. STYLES: We go force he to go.


FAIRCHILD: What tie him up? That’s mutiny. STYLES: Nobody talking’ ‘bout mutiny. BIG GEORGE buries his head in his hands. BIG GEORGE: Braithwaite’ dead. MILLER: (At BIG GEORGE.) Cheer up lad. At least he’s not been captured. You’ve got to be thankful for that. He’s the lucky one. His memory’s not been spat on by the mouths of the enemy. Pause. MILLER: I’ve been spat upon. It was when we were ambushed. Those of us who could laid face down in festering holes for days. One morning I woke up hearing voices. But not English voices. I open my eyes and see myself surrounded. One with a bayonet tries to disembowel me. I grab his ankles. That’s when there is uproar. He rips my arm wide open, stabbing over and over and over. Then others join in. Spitting and kicking. Another yanks my head back and I can see through the blood in me eyes that the foe are all boys. Fresh out of knee pants. I beg them to stop. Next thing I know they’re all flying sky high. Then their bodies fall back to earth like great drops of raining flesh. Faces twisted and ruined. (Pause.) I passed out at the sight and the smell of it all. When I woke up again, I was ravenous. I had to search their pockets and kit bags for food. (A beat.) I found cans of meat. It tasted so good. I crawled from that mess dragging the meat in my pockets. But I can still see those crushed boy faces. (At BIG GEORGE.) I know what you witnessed. (A beat.) Maybe your 108

Patterson’s right. Maybe we could all use some sleep right now. Escape into memories of blue skies. The taste of a fresh apple. A glass of clean, cool water. (At BIG GEORGE.) Lad. Help me lay down. MILLER indicates the awkward bonds on his feet. BIG GEORGE thinks about it then cuts MILLER free. MILLER makes himself comfortable with a sand bag and falls asleep. BIG GEORGE lies down beside him and closes his eyes. STYLES buries his head in hands. Quietly, FAIRCHILD leaves the group. He climbs up to be with PATTERSON. The moon breaks from a bank of black clouds. FAIRCHILD looks up. FAIRCHILD: Never thought the moon could look like that. Pause. FAIRCHILD: Reminds me of one Christmas. I could hear me Dad stuffing the Christmas stocking with toffee pigs and apples. I pretended to be asleep but he woke me up anyway. He wrapped me in a blanket and took me outside. Showed me the night sky. The clouds were black and then the moon came out. That’s when I heard this sound. Hundreds of birds. Flying low. All calling and singing to one another. Dad said they came from somewhere foreign. Migratory birds he called them. Flying from one strange place to another. He said people were just the same. Flying here, there and everywhere. Seeking the best fruit that life has to offer. I thought he was touched in the head.


PATTERSON: (Quiet.) You must be looking forward to seeing him again. FAIRCHILD: I won’t. PATTERSON: Be positive. FAIRCHILD: He’s dead. I’ll not be with him again. Unless there’s such things as ghosts. And they don’t exist. No matter what Big George and Miller say. PATTERSON: I’ve seen one before. FAIRCHILD: You? PATTERSON: The first one I ever saw was back home. (Pause.) He worked with the poor. Cane cutters mostly. Ragged men and women. Living in terrible, infested conditions. He would go to the cane fields and spread the Lord’s holy words. Pray with them when they were sick. Pray with them when they died. He even fell in love with one of them. A beautiful girl. He begged God’s forgiveness because she was so young. (Pause.) They had a child. A baby boy but nobody suspected that the Preacher was the father. So life continued. And he continued. Healing their wounds. And bringing comfort. Then one day war broke out. Far away. The fighting sent the price of sugar way too high. Naturally the cane cutters suffered because their miserable wages grew smaller until they could not afford to eat. The Preacher observed all of this and encouraged those left with strength to protest. He assured them that their cause was just. That God was on their side. So they went on strike. Just half a day. Of course the plantation owner was not happy. There could be no 110

halt in the production of sugar. He sent men with whips and machetes to explain this. And to leave no room for misunderstanding, these men burnt huts and broke bodies. The young girl and the baby so loved by the Preacher were among the first to perish in the flames, by which time the preacher had long fled. You see when he saw the men and their weapons, his courage deserted him. He had tried to teach the people how to save themselves from injustice and slavery. But when the final test came he only saved himself. Pause. FAIRCHILD: What happened to him? PATTERSON: Locals never saw him again. Some say he killed himself. Others say he wanders alone. His mind ruined. FAIRCHILD: So he’s not a real ghost. PATTERSON: What is a ghost but a spectre of a man? Pause. PATTERSON: He should have stayed with his child. And never taught politics to the poor. It burned them alive. FAIRCHILD thinks about this. FAIRCHILD: Maybe he’s not dead. Maybe he’s some place trying to make up for what he’s done.


The sudden drone of an approaching propellered craft disturbs the moment. The noise gets louder and louder until it’s directly overhead. PATTERSON: (Alarmed.) Fairchild get down. (At the others.) Everyone take cover! BIG GEORGE and MILLER awake from their slumber. PATTERSON, followed by FAIRCHILD, climbs down to the lower level. The men retreat into the shadows. Sheets of paper begin to flap and flutter out of the night sky. FAIRCHILD: (Pointing.) What is it? MILLER: Bits of paper. FAIRCHILD crawls forward and picks up a sheet. PATTERSON: Don’t touch it! BIG GEORGE catches one. PATTERSON: I said don’t touch it. STYLES: Maybe it news? A ceasefire? PATTERSON: Throw them away! BIG GEORGE: (Reading.) ‘You have been led here in a trap from which you cannot escape. Rivers of blood will spew forth from your lungs and your souls will burn hot with incurable sores. Then we will bury your bones in shallow graves where you stand. Leave this land while you can.


STYLES picks up a sheet and reads it for himself. MILLER: I don’t like their tone. Perhaps we should go now. PATTERSON: Don’t you see? It’s what they want. Hold your ground. The aircraft returns and circles above the men. Its noise appears to shake the earth. PATTERSON: This is it. Rifles ready. Everyone. Defend yourselves. PATTERSON hands MILLER his confiscated bullets. MILLER reloads his weapon as PATTERSON scrambles back to the watch post. The rest follow him. Only FAIRCHILD remains, rooted to the spot, stricken by the noise of the circling craft. PATTERSON: Fairchild? Get up here! Afraid, FAIRCHILD retreats into the shadows for cover. PATTERSON: Fairchild! STYLES: What’s he doing? PATTERSON turns back down the slope. He reaches a hand out to FAIRCHILD. PATTERSON: Come on man. FAIRCHILD peeps from the shadows.


FAIRCHILD: They’ll see us. Drop bombs. And poison gas. PATTERSON: You’ll be trapped down there. Get up here. Don’t you flinch now. Don’t you flinch! FAIRCHILD looks up at PATTERSON. He makes a dash to reach PATTERSON’s outstretched hand. PATTERSON: Come on. (A beat.) Good lad. That’s right son. As FAIRCHILD gets close a shot rings out. PATTERSON collapses on the slope. BIG GEORGE: Patterson! (A beat.) PATTERSON! BIG GEORGE and STYLES reach Patterson’s body. BIG GEORGE: Get up. Speak! FAIRCHILD reaches PATTERSON. FAIRCHILD: He’s bleeding. STYLES: (At FAIRCHILD.) Move out of the way. BIG GEORGE: (At STYLES.) Stop the bleeding. Make it stop. STYLES applies pressure to PATTERSON’s wound. STYLES: Get me some bandages!


FAIRCHILD: Patterson? Hold on. It’s not that bad. It’s just a scratch. BIG GEORGE: He won’t stop bleeding. FAIRCHILD: Patterson. I’ve got water look. FAIRCHILD produces his flask of water. He tries to feed it into PATTERSON’s mouth. FAIRCHILD: Drink! You’ll feel better. A beat. FAIRCHILD: Drink. STYLES: (Quietly.) He can’t hear you. FAIRCHILD: DRINK! STYLES steps back. STYLES: He can’t hear you. Gathering storm clouds rumble over the dugout. The heavens break open. It pours with rain. Fade to black.



Half light reveals BIG GEORGE keeping guard. STYLES and MILLER sit on their haunches below, wiping dust and grime from their wet faces. PATTERSON’s lifeless body has been covered with sack cloth. FAIRCHILD has been put to work, collecting rain water from upturned tin cups. He carefully distributes the catch into three bottles. He nearly knocks one over. STYLES: (At FAIRCHILD.) Careful! BIG GEORGE: (From the watch point.) He spill piece? Best not lose one drop. FAIRCHILD takes the three water bottles to STYLES, MILLER and then BIG GEORGE. He waits while they drink and drain the bottles, then returns below and starts filling them all over again. BIG GEORGE: (At FAIRCHILD.) Move it. I want more water. FAIRCHILD: There’s not enough left for three bottles. BIG GEORGE: (At STYLES.) I say you, me and Miller draw straws for the last drink left. MILLER: Then only one gets the benefit. STYLES: We all go share it or no one gets it. (At FAIRCHILD.) Bring what’ left.


FAIRCHILD passes the bottle to STYLES. He takes a modest swig. He passes it to MILLER who does like wise. Styles climbs to the watch point and gives the bottle to BIG GEORGE who tries to drain the contents. STYLES pulls it from his mouth. He returns below and offers FAIRCHILD the bottle. BIG GEORGE: (Furious.) NO! Don’t give he none. He a liar and a coward! BIG GEORGE scrambles to the lower level to stop STYLES. STYLES: (At BIG GEORGE.) Are you foolish? Get back to your post. STYLES thrusts the bottle at FAIRCHILD. STYLES: Drink. BIG GEORGE: The boy betray Patterson. Hiding water and ent’ share none of it. STYLES: Let him drink. The boy punished enough. BIG GEORGE: You give him that bottle and I go kill you for sure. STYLES points his rifle straight at BIG GEORGE. BIG GEORGE: You go shoot me now? STYLES: Back off.


BIG GEORGE: Come wid it. Let me see you shoot me. Come. STYLES: We go share this last piece like men! A beat. STYLES: MEN! A beat. STYLES: Patterson would do the same. He was a man. (At FAIRCHILD.) Finish it! FAIRCHILD does not move. STYLES: I said finish it! FAIRCHILD still does not move. STYLES: You refusing to share now? Is dat de story here? Who is you to refuse to share wid we? You think you better than we? Cos you born in England? We share wid you so you go share wid we. This how men are equal. This where respec’ born. All in here the same now. So you go share or you go leave. Choose! Pause. FAIRCHILD takes the bottle and drinks a tiny sip. STYLES yanks it from his lips. He stands the bottle centre stage.


STYLES: Now every body get piece. Everyone a fair share. Now I ent’ want to hear ‘bout who a coward or a liar. Who go shoot or kill who. We fight together. Is that clear? Awkward pause. MILLER looks over at PATTERSON’s lifeless body. MILLER: (At STYLES.) We have to bury him. You know that. Can’t leave him to the elements. He’ll turn in the heat. STYLES: I know. Don’t tell me what to do. MILLER: Was only saying. (A beat.) Look. I’ll keep watch. You lads deal with your dead friend. STYLES searches his kit bag and produces a short shovel as MILLER struggles to the watch post. He sits there, arm in a sling, pistol in hand. STYLES: (At FAIRCHILD, BIG GEORGE.) You two gonna help me dig a big hole. FAIRCHILD fetches his shovel. BIG GEORGE: Wait. I say we say some holy words first. It decent to pray. STYLES: There’s no time. BIG GEORGE: Dis a man of God. He deserve we respect. STYLES: Just dig.


BIG GEORGE: You giving we orders now? Who put you in charge? FAIRCHILD drives his spade into the ground. It splinters. BIG GEORGE: (At STYLES.) Now see what you do. You mek he mash up the shovel. FAIRCHILD: The ground. It’s too hard. Even with the rain. STYLES: It just need a bit more effort. Go. Fetch Patterson’ shovel. BIG GEORGE: (At FAIRCHILD.) You keep away from Patterson’ things. I won’t allow you to touch his things. STYLES: (At FAIRCHILD.) Go and fetch that shovel. BIG GEORGE: Patterson dead because of he! STYLES: (At BIG GEORGE.) Patterson dead because of the enemy. It was the enemy kill Patterson. Not Fairchild. FAIRCHILD can’t take anymore. He retreats to the back of the dugout and squats with his head buried in his hands. STYLES: (At BIG GEORGE.) Now see what you do? Yo go and mek the boy cry. Three large shadows glide overhead. The men look up. MILLER: (From the watch point.) Vultures. Good eye sight. They’ve spotted lunch already.


BIG GEORGE: (At STYLES.) Man. Hurry up and dig. MILLER: You’re wasting time. The best thing to do is put the body out. BIG GEORGE: Who! MILLER: It’s more hygienic. BIG GEORGE: Now who put you in charge? FAIRCHILD returns carrying an armful of rocks. FAIRCHILD: Cover him with these. At least the vultures won’t get him. BIG GEORGE: He in charge now? FAIRCHILD: I just want Patterson to rest in peace. BIG GEORGE: You ent’ care ‘bout nobody but yo’ self. FAIRCHILD: I said I was sorry. You want to kill me? Go ahead. You can’t hurt me anyways. There’s nothing left to hurt. Go on. Shoot. (A beat.) You haven’t got the guts. FAIRCHILD drops his load at BIG GEORGE’s feet. He goes to collect more rocks. BIG GEORGE stands there speechless. Then he flings down his shovel. BIG GEORGE: (Furious.) Guts? He saying I don’t have guts? Is how he get so bold face? Let me teach he ‘bout guts!


BIG GEORGE draws his knife. STYLES: Man hush. You want to cut he? Cut he after. But first we go deal wid PATTERSON: So do something useful and help bring the blasted rock. STYLES goes to help FAIRCHILD. BIG GEORGE stares after them, resentment at boiling point. They return with armfuls of stones and begin to cover PATTERSON. BIG GEORGE: This en’t go work. Yo’all wasting good time. A beat. BIG GEORGE: This foolish. Dem rain go wash dem rock away. FAIRCHILD and STYLES ignore BIG GEORGE and continue to work. BIG GEORGE fidgets at the side-lines. He puts the knife away. BIG GEORGE: Well make sure yo’ all cover him good. Look. Yo’all miss piece. Yo’ all know how he like everything neat and tidy. He a man of discipline. Grudgingly he goes to get some rocks and finally lends his assistance. The men finish the burial mound. They stand in silence.


STYLES: (To BIG GEORGE.) You have some words you want to say? BIG GEORGE: I en’t much good wid words. Pause. Finally… BIG GEORGE: May de Lord Jesus Christ who sacrifice himself on the cross for all of we, give we strength and courage like Patterson to face the trial and tribulation before we. EVERYONE. Amen. Awkward pause. STYLES: (At BIG GEORGE.) Nice words. BIG GEORGE: You think so? STYLES: (Quietly.) They were nice. Awkward pause. FAIRCHILD fetches the bottle of water placed centre stage. He offers it to STYLES who takes a small sip. Styles offers it to MILLER and then to BIG GEORGE. BIG GEORGE swigs. He looks at FAIRCHILD then grudgingly offers him the very last sip. STYLES takes a map from PATTERSON’s kit bag. He spreads it on the floor. He studies it.


STYLES: We’ll head south. BIG GEORGE: Why south? STYLES: (Pointing.) Cos the bullet that kill Patterson come from the east. BIG GEORGE: I think we should stick wid Patterson’ plan. STYLES: It’s not safe. MILLER: East. West. North. South. Makes no bloody difference. BIG GEORGE: Patterson say we have to go near where Samson carry dem Gates of Gaza. East! STYLES: Man. That was just a story to keep us quiet. It’ ent’even on this map. BIG GEORGE: We go die if we follow you. STYLES: (Warning.) Don’t vex me. FAIRCHILD: Let’s just go. STYLES: Let me think. We need a plan. BIG GEORGE: We have a plan. Patterson’ plan. MILLER: Lads. A beat.


MILLER: I say lads. I think we’ve got company. And they don’t look the friendly type. STYLES, BIG GEORGE and FAIRCHILD join MILLER at the watch point. STYLES: How many? MILLER: Two. Maybe three. FAIRCHILD: I see three. They’re coming this way. BIG GEORGE: (Panic.) What do we do? STYLES: We go allow dem real close then fire. There’s only three. BIG GEORGE: Good. I go kill each one. STYLES: Then get ready. The men prepare their weapons. FAIRCHILD: Wait. (A beat.) There’s more over there look. The others turn to see. STYLES: I count one. Two. Three. Four. (A beat.) Five. BIG GEORGE: What do we do? STYLES: Let me think. BIG GEORGE: What do we do! 125

MILLER: And there’s more that way. Gunfire suddenly rips through the dugout. MILLER: (Laughing hysterically.) YOU MISSED! MILLER and BIG GEORGE return wild fire. STYLES: Stop it. Don’t waste bullets! Shoot when you see the whites of dem eye. MILLER: We’re surrounded. BIG GEORGE: What do we do! FAIRCHILD: We have to charge. STYLES: You want dem to cut you to pieces? FAIRCHILD: They won’t expect us to charge. It will scare them away. More gunfire rips through the dugout. The men cover their heads. BIG GEORGE: The boy right. FAIRCHILD: They’ll think there’s lots of us. STYLES: Don’t be foolish. MILLER: It’s so crazy it could work.


BIG GEORGE: I ent’ want to die now. Like some rat in a hole. We have to fight. STYLES: Nobody go charge. We go hold this ground. You understand? Don’t nobody move. Bullets rip once more through the dugout. Nervous with fear FAIRCHILD fires back. STYLES: I said wait! BIG GEORGE: For what? Dem go kill we! FAIRCHILD: (Shaking.) I’m not afraid. I’m gonna charge. I’m not afraid. STYLES: Wait man! FAIRCHILD gets up, shooting and leads a wild charge over the top. He disappears. BIG GEORGE follows. BIG GEORGE: Go boy. Fight! I’m right behind you. BIG GEORGE shoots fiercely. He’s hit by a hail of bullets and collapses over the edge of the dugout and into the valley below. STYLES and MILLER remain pinned down by gunshots. They try to shoot back. Without warning a mills bomb is thrown and lands right in the dugout. STYLES and MILLER look at the device in horror. It explodes. Everything is shrouded in acrid smoke and darkness.


A long moment. Then the sound of someone crawling through rubble and earth. FAIRCHILD gropes his way back into the dugout. FAIRCHILD: (Whisper.) Miller? Big George? A beat. FAIRCHILD: Is anyone there? The smoke clears revealing the bodies of his fallen comrades. FAIRCHILD: I can’t see yous’. FAIRCHILD rubs his eyes. FAIRCHILD: Where are yous’? FAIRCHILD reaches the body of STYLES. He shakes him. FAIRCHILD: Styles? Is that you? Get up! I can’t see. FAIRCHILD shakes STYLES again. FAIRCHILD: I can’t see. Get up. I said GET UP. FAIRCHILD continues to shake STYLES. The sound of shell and gunfire draws closer, getting louder and louder. It melts into the sounds of rioting and breaking glass. Dogs bark wildly.


FAIRCHILD drops STYLES and listens intently. He gropes his way to the lower level and then down to centre stage. He sits confused and silent, sensing that he is no longer in Gaza. Thirsty, he gropes around the floor of his Liverpool hostel room. He finds his bottle of whisky and drains the contents. Walcott re-enters the scene urgently carrying FAIRCHILD’s coat and boots. He sees FAIRCHILD drinking. He snatches the bottle from FAIRCHILD’s hands. WALCOTT: You drink de whole damn bottle? I did tell you not to drink! WALCOTT flings the bottle to the floor. WALCOTT: We have to go! Dem gallows bait reach. You want to get shot? FAIRCHILD: (Pointing into the gathering dark.) They’re all dead look. WALCOTT looks around. WALCOTT: Who’s dead? FAIRCHILD: We have to bury them. WALCOTT: You’re DRUNK! FAIRCHILD: Help me put them to rest. WALCOTT pulls FAIRCHILD to his feet.


WALCOTT: We have to go to the fire station. We’ll be safe there. (A beat.) Black folk aren’t wanted here. FAIRCHILD: I can’t leave my friends behind. WALCOTT: Move man. WALCOTT tries to manhandle FAIRCHILD to the door, but he resists. FAIRCHILD: Wait. Where is this? Get off me. This is home. WALCOTT: Not anymore. FAIRCHILD: I live here. I’m tired. I just want to sleep. WALCOTT: What’s wrong wid you? FAIRCHILD: Let go! I was born here. (A beat.) I’m from Liverpool. WALCOTT slaps FAIRCHILD. Hard. A shocked moment. Then FAIRCHILD pulls a knife and slashes wildly catching WALCOTT across the face. WALCOTT collapses to the ground, blood seeping through his fingers. He looks up in disbelief at FAIRCHILD. Walcott struggles slowly to his feet. Gunshots are heard outside. WALCOTT: Forgive me. I can’t do this. A beat.


WALCOTT: May our fathers and their fathers protect you. WALCOTT crosses himself. He struggles toward the door. He takes one last look at FAIRCHILD then exits. FAIRCHILD sits, listening to the riot outside. He gropes for his suitcase. He opens it. He removes some of the items. He gropes for the chest and places them back in a drawer. A petrol bomb smashes through the window. The curtains catch alight. Frightened, FAIRCHILD returns to his suitcase. Something catches under his hand. It’s Patterson’s St Christopher. He holds it up, then squeezes it tight. patterson (Voice off.): Armageddon. FAIRCHILD swings around as PATTERSON approaches, armed. PATTERSON: The final battle. It’s arrived. FAIRCHILD: Everyone’s hiding in the fire station. PATTERSON: Hiding? Soldiers do not hide. They must fight. As you did. With courage. I watched you. FAIRCHILD: Did you? PATTERSON kneels beside FAIRCHILD. He looks around. PATTERSON: So this is your home? FAIRCHILD: It doesn’t always look like this.


PATTERSON: No matter. It’s where you live. Defend it. FAIRCHILD: Okay. PATTERSON: Cos when the moment comes? FAIRCHILD: I will not flinch. PATTERSON: When the enemy is upon you? FAIRCHILD: I will not flinch. PATTERSON: Never flinch. FAIRCHILD: I won’t flinch. PATTERSON: Are you ready now? PATTERSON passes a rifle to FAIRCHILD. FAIRCHILD: You’ll be right here, won’t you? PATTERSON: Always. I’ll cover you. Hold your ground. Watched by PATTERSON, FAIRCHILD walks past the flames of the burning curtains. He stands by the window, rifle ready, poised to defend himself and his home. FAIRCHILD glances down to the street below. He takes aim. The sound of ferocious rioting floods through the broken window and overwhelms the hostel room. Another petrol bomb is thrown and lands in the dormitory.


Flames lick and engulf the hostel walls. Fittings buckle. And splinter. Furniture crackles and burns red. Blackout.