A Soldier's Story Script - Dialogue Transcript

Voila! Finally, the A Soldier's Story script is here for all you quotes spouting fans of the  Denzel Washington and Adolph Caeser movie based on the Charles Fuller play.  This script is a transcript that was painstakingly transcribed using the screenplay and/or viewings of A Soldier's Story. I know, I know, I still need to get the cast names in there and I'll be eternally tweaking it, so if you have any corrections, feel free to drop me a line. You won't hurt my feelings. Honest.

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A Soldier's Story Script



            Look here, boy, I want you out.

            Yeah! Play it, Luther!

            Oh, honey, play it. Play it soft now, Luther.

            See, that's what I was trying to tell you.... Sarge?

            He's so drunk.

            He's drunk.

            What in the hell does he think he's doing? That drunken....

            TYNIN, LOUISIANA 1944- 

            They still...

            ...hate you.

            They still...

            ...hate you.

            You can put your arms down when the search team finishes with you.

            We don't want anybody from this fort going into Tynin looking for rednecks.

            -May I speak, sir? -Cobb?

            Colonel Nivens must know nobody coloured killed the Sarge.

            Well, this is precautionary, Cobb.

            We can't have the Army engaged in revenge on civilians.

            -Sir, are there any suspects? -None.

            Come on, now. Everybody knows it was the Klan.

            Were you an eyewitness, soldier?

            They lynched Jefferson the week I got here. Two weeks after that it was--

            Unless you saw it, you keep your opinions to yourself.

            Yes, sir.

            -And that applies to everybody else. -Yes, sir!

            Tynin has been placed off-limits to all enlisted personnel.

            Come on, Captain.

            Any man found in the town will be immediately subject to court-martial.

            Sergeant Waters' replacement will be assigned in a couple of weeks.

            Until then, Cobb...

            ...you're barrack's NCO. Any questions?

            Carry on.

            Now, what do you think?

            Taylor and that goddamn colonel, they know who killed Waters.

            Anybody feel like playing with me some Pitty Pat?

            Wilkie, I thought all you could play was flunky.

            Yeah. Wilkie, whose ass are you gonna kiss...

            ...now that your Number One ass is dead?

            You know what you can do for me, Henson. You too, Peterson.

            -Take it easy. -Look, I'm the one that lost three stripes.

            I'm the only man here with kids. So when the man said "jump," I jumped.

            Come on, don't put your wife and kids between you and Waters' ass.

            I don't kiss nobody's ass, Henson. I just wanted my stripes back.

            You ain't never been no place. You ain't never had nothin'.

            You can't understand a man like me. I was once top sergeant of this platoon.

            Yeah? Well, now you ain't nothin'. Nothin', Wilkie.

              Recruits, over here. Let me see your passes. Let's go!

              Wake up, boy!

              You said Tynin, didn't you?


              Come on, boy.

              Let's go!

              Captain Davenport?

              Corporal Ellis, at your disposal, sir. I'm to take you to Colonel Nivens, sir.

              -Well, let's get rolling, soldier. -Yes, sir.

              Yes, sir, Captain Davenport.

              We're rolling, Captain.

              This is where they killed Sergeant Waters last month, sir.

              Why did you say, "They" killed him, Corporal?

              Who's "they"?

              The Klan, sir. They ain't too crazy about us tan Yanks down here.

              I suppose whoever drove you in from the station...

              ...showed you the spot where the killing took place.

              Told you I had all the troops' personal effects searched for weapons.

              He tell you all that?

              Is there a point the colonel is trying to make, sir?

              There's a point.

              This thing has been blown all the hell out of shape.

              This is the Army's business.

              Not the NAACP.

              Not the Negro press.

              Not those paper-shufflin' desk jockeys in Washington.

              I was brought up in the South, Davenport.

              You ever hear of Threadgill County, Alabama?

              No, sir.

              No matter.

              I've been commanding coloured troops all my life, Davenport.

              The worst thing you can do in this part of the country...

              ...is pay too much attention to the death of a Negro under mysterious circumstances.

              Especially a soldier.

              People get itchy. Uneasy.

              White folk in the town, coloured at the fort...

              ...keep turning this thing over.

              Sooner or later, you're bound to have an explosion.

              Now, I've lived here in Hunter Parish for three years.

              I'm fond of the place. I like the duty.

              You get my meaning?

              What is it you want, Colonel?

              I want whatever you came here to do completed in three days.

              Sir, I request immediate permission to notify Washington.

              -Permission denied. -I'm under direct orders--

              I don't care if Roosevelt himself sent you!

              I'm trying to keep my coloured troops from going into that town and killing somebody.

              I don't care what you think.

              You can always return to Washington if you like.

              No, sir. I was assigned this case and I intend to file a report, sir.

              Here are your instructions and our reports.

              Captain Taylor's men will help you get settled. Taylor was Waters' CO.

              That'll be all, Davenport.



              Remember, you're the first coloured officer most of these men have ever seen.

              The Army expects you to set an example for the coloured troops...

              ...and be a credit to your race.

              Is that clear, Captain?

              Yes, Colonel.


              Sir, are you all right?

              -Would you like to go to your quarters? -No, I'll see Captain Taylor first.

              You don't want to unpack, sir? Freshen up? It didn't go too good--

              You got a hearing problem?

              No, sir! My ears are big. I was born with them.

              It runs in my family. My grandmother had big ears....

              I used to drive a fire truck, Captain.

              Then the Army took and let me drive an ambulance.

              I've been driving this jeep for six months. Only turned over twice.

              -Twice? -Yes, sir.


              Good afternoon, sir.

              Sergeant Washington, sir.

              Can I help you, Captain?

              Captain Davenport to see Captain Taylor.

              Just a moment, sir.


              Captain Davenport to see you, sir.

              Send him in.

              Yes, sir.

              Every member of the lodge is rooting for you, sir.

              -Have a seat. -Thank you.

              I like your flowers, Captain.

              Where's he from?

              He's from Washington, DC. He's here on special assignment.


              Yes, sir.

              You gotta be shittin' me.

              So, they assigned a lawyer to the Military Police?

              Where'd you graduate at law school?

              Howard University.

              Your parents rich or something?

              No, my father's a mailman.

              I graduated at the Point. I didn't see any Negroes at the Point.

              In fact, I never saw a Negro until I was...

              ...I think,    or   .

              Have you seen my orders, Captain?

              Yes, as soon as Colonel Nivens received them.

              Look, I think it only fair to tell you...

              ...that had I known you'd be a Negro...

              ...I would have requested the immediate suspension of the investigation.

              -Now, look, may I speak freely? -You haven't stopped yet.

              Look, these local people aren't going to charge a white man in this parish...

              ...on your say-so.

              Nivens knows that.

              He doesn't give a damn about this killing. Your being here proves it.

              They're making a fool out of you.

              Can't you see? Will you take off those damn sunglasses?

              I like these. They're like MacArthur's.

              All right now, look. Let me explain something to you.

              You go near Tynin in your uniform, sounding white and charging local people...

              ...and you'll wind up just as dead as Waters.

              This isn't Washington, Davenport.

              I know where I am.

              Do you know how many times I've asked Nivens to look into this killing?

              Every day since it happened.

              -Do you suspect someone? -Don't play lawyer with me, soldier!

              With you on this case, we are not going to get anywhere.

              Like it or not, Captain, I am all you've got.

              Your orders instruct you to cooperate.


              ...is there anything else?

              -Ellis! -Yes, sir?

              Captain Davenport will need some assistance with the men.

              -You'll excuse me, won't you, Captain? -I'm glad I met you.


              I hope we get to fight soon, sir.

              Next, they'll have us picking this year's cotton crop.

              Don't worry, Corporal. They don't grow much cotton in Germany.

              Yes, sir.

              How long was Captain Taylor's investigation?

              Two days, sir.

              Two days? Who did he question?

              Well, mostly guys who had contact with Sarge that day: guys in his platoon...

              ...then anybody who could've seen him on the road. Wasn't but a handful.

              -Did you see him that day? -Nope.

              No, sir.

              Did your sergeant drink a lot?

              I didn't know him well enough to say, sir.

              All right, soldiers, let's get back to those exercises.

              Haven't you ever seen a coloured officer before?

              No, sir. Have you, sir?


              This is it, sir.

              The captain instructed everyone in the sergeant's platoon to be here.

              As you were.

              Sergeant Waters' room is right there, sir.


              I think I ought to tell you, sir:

              Captain Taylor questioned two white officers from this fort that night.

              How do you know?

              I delivered his report to Colonel Nivens, sir.

              And on the way over, the jeep hit a hole.

              The papers flew all over the road, and.... I just happened to notice it, sir.

              Who are they?

              No names, sir. Just the mentioning of the questioning.

              It seems they were on the road that night.


              ...don't let any more reports fly away from you, Corporal.

              No, sir.

              Sir, may I say something, though?

              It sure is good seeing one of us wearing captain's bars, sir.

              Call in the first man, Corporal.

              Yes, sir.

              Private Wilkie, Captain wants to see you!

              Yes, indeedy. On my way.

              Private Wilkie reports as ordered, sir.

              Close the door.

              -Have a seat. -Yes, sir.

              -I'm Captain Davenport. I'm conducting-- -We all know that, sir.

              Word went out on the grapevine you were here the minute you hit the fort.

              I'm conducting an inquiry into the events surrounding the death of Sergeant Waters.

              The report I file will be confidential.

              How long did you know the sergeant?

              About a year, sir.

              You see, this company, sir, was basically a baseball team.

              Most of the guys had played in the Negro League, so...

              ...naturally, the Army put us all together.

              The Army sent Sergeant Waters here to manage the team in the summer of '  ...

              ...right after the invasion of North Africa.

              He'd been in Field Artillery, a gunnery sergeant.

              He had a FEF and an ETO, a "Croix de Guerre" from World War I.

              What kind of man was he?

              He was all spit and polish, sir.

               y:i He took my stripes, sir,  y:i but I was in the wrong.

              Sergeant Wilkie.

              You're a noncommissioned officer in the Army of a country at war.

              The penalty for being drunk on duty is severe.

              So don't bring me no:

              "Us coloured folks can't do nothin' unless they're drunk" shit as an excuse.

              You're supposed to be an example to your men.

              I'm going to put you in the stockade for    days and take those stripes.

              -Wait a minute, Sergeant-- -Teach you a lesson.

              You're in the Army.

              Coloured folks always talkin' about what they'll do...

              ...if the white man give 'em a chance. You get it, and what do you do with it?

              You wind up drunk on guard duty.

              I don't blame the white man.

              Why the hell should he put coloured and white together?

              You can't even guard your own quarters.

              -Wait a minute, Sergeant-- -Where's your pride?

              Where's your respect for this uniform?

              Get out of my sight, Private.

              How was he with the other men?

              Sometimes the Southern guys caught hell.

              Sergeant wasn't too big on guys from the South.

              Me, I'm from Detroit.

              Did you know that Joe Louis got his start in Detroit?

              What about the Southern men?

              Sarge didn't like 'em. Except for CJ.

              It could've been because CJ was the best ballplayer on the team.

              He could sing, too. Boy, could he sing.

              "Well, it's a low-down low-down dirty shame

              "Yes, it's a low-down low-down dirty shame

              "They say we fightin' Hitler But they won't let us in the game, Lord

              "Yes, it's a low-down dirty shame

              "Yes, it's a low-down dirty stinkin' shame"

              Sing it for Big Mary, you little sweet thing.

              "Left home to join this Army Won't somebody tell me who's to blame?"

              I'll tell you something, CJ, right now.

              "I'm gonna kill my man

              "Then I'm gonna turn around and kill myself

              "I'm gonna kill him with a razor Yes, I am

              "And then I'm going to use it on myself

              "I'd rather see us both dead and buried

              "Than see him with someone else

              "Well, it's a low-down dirty shame

              "Yes, it's a low-down

              "dirty shame

              "You ain't nothin' in this man's army Till Big Mary knows your name"

              All right. Drink up, boys.

              A man can't make no money when the US Army stops sippin'...

              ...so drink up now, 'cause I need a new car.

              I'm gonna ask that boy something. Come on, Wilkie.


              You ever heard of Blind Willie Reynolds? Son House?

              I knew it. I bet you're from Mississippi, too, ain't ya?

              Yes, sir.

              I used to hear him at the...

              ...Bandana Club outside Camp JJ Reilly.

              Folks came from everywhere, Wilkie.

              Folks would be dancing, sweating....

              Reminded me of a place I used to go in France.

              The whiskey, the women.

              Place called the Cafe Napoleon.

              Where'd you learn to play, son?

              My daddy taught me, Sarge.

              You play pretty good, boy.

              Wilkie, wasn't that good?

              That was good, Sarge.

              Take it easy, son.

               y:i I mostly agreed with the sergeant, sir.  y:i He was a good man.

              Good to his men. Talked about his wife and kid all the time.

              As a matter of fact, he wrote home to his wife everyday.

              I just don't see why anybody would want to kill the Sarge.

              See this?

              My wife let a neighbour take this just a couple of weeks ago.

              Army's not for my son.

              See, when this war is over, things are gonna change.

              I want him to be ready for it.

              I'll send him to some big white college.

              Let him rub elbows with the whites.

              Learn the white man's language, how he does things.

              White don't rub off.

              Well, what are we gonna do? Stay behind in everything?

              Hell, you can see it in the Army. The white man's running rings around us.

              Lot of us ain't had the chance them white boys had, Sarge.

              That ain't no excuse.

              My daddy shovelled coal from a wagon all his life.

              Couldn't read or write, but he saw to it that we did.

              Now, not having is no excuse for not getting.

              You can't get pee from a tree, Sarge.

              You're just like the rest of them, Wilkie: ignorant, scared.

              -Stop thinking like a nigger! -Take it easy.

              -All I said-- -Is the equipment ready for the game?

              -No. -Then see that it gets ready.

              Here's to the war, gents.

              To the war.

              Two people, sir.

              Mr. Warm and Mr. Cold.

              But, deep down, a real nice guy.

              You could always borrow $   from him if you needed it.

              Did you see him the night he was killed?

              I saw him in town, at the club, earlier.

              But I left around   :  . He was juicin' pretty heavy.

              Is it true, sir, that when they found him...

              ...his stripes and insignia were still on the uniform?


              Something's wrong, ain't it, sir?

              I mean, those Klan boys, they can't stand to see us in these uniforms.

              They usually take the stripes and stuff off before they lynch us.

              That'll be all, Private.

              Yes, sir.

              Sir, can you do anything about allotment cheques?

              My wife didn't get hers last month.

              Did you see the finance officer?

              Yes, I did, sir.

              Well, I'II....

              I'll speak to Captain Taylor.

              Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Yes indeedy.

              Would you like me to send the next man in?


              Private First Class Melvin Peterson, reporting as ordered, sir.

              Sit down, Private.

              Where are you from, Peterson?

              Hollywood, California...

              ...by way of Alabama, sir.

              You see, I enlisted in '  .

              I thought we'd get a chance to fight, sir.

              Did you know the sergeant well?

              No, sir. He was already with the company when I got assigned and...

              ...PFCs and sergeants, we don't mix too well, sir.

              You played ball for him.

              Yes, sir. I played shortstop.

              Did you like the sergeant?

              No, sir.

              It goes back to the team.

              -Stone-ass felt that-- -"Stone-ass"?

              I'm the only one who called him that, sir. Sergeant Waters, sir.

              Didn't mean no offence, sir.

              When I got here, the team had already won...

              ...  or maybe    games in a row.

              It was even rumoured we'd get the chance to play the Yankees in exhibition.

              Anyway, we were playing the   th Ordinance this particular day.

              It was a real big game, too.

              The YWCA sent a whole busload of women to see us.

              A real big day, sir.

              Let it fly there. Let's go, Pete.

              Come on, batter, hit the ball.

              That's a hell of a ballplayer.

              Come on, hit it!

              Throw another one up here.

              Come on, CJ, next county.

              Hell of a ballplayer! Did you see....

              All right, CJ.

              Come on, boy.

              Did you see that ball? I mean, did you see it go?

              We played fairly well. I had two hits. Smalls had a couple and CJ....

              CJ was incredible.

              We beat 'em something like     - .

              Like we always did after a game, we went to the mess hall to celebrate.


              Who was that fine river-hip thing you was talkin' to before the game?

              The woman had tits like two helmets.

              -Did you see the size of them knockers? -No, he didn't.

              Smalls couldn't even see a ball go right in his glove.

              How the hell he gonna see CJ by the truck?

              I saw CJ, man.

              Will you all let CJ tell me about this woman?

              She looked mighty good to me, CJ.

              All she asked me for was my autograph.

              She looked like she was askin' for more than that.

              Moved in close.

              Breathin' heavy.

              Wavin' them tits all in your face.

              He's right on that, CJ.

              If I'd given that gal what she asked me for...

              ...she'd give me somethin' I didn't want.

              Around home, there's a fella folks used to call Little Jimmy One-Leg...

              ...on account of his thing was so big.

              A couple of years ago...

              ...a young pretty thing laid clap on Jimmy so bad...

              ...he lost the one good leg he had. Now folks just call him Little.

              That pretty young thing talking to me ain't look too clean.

              Them dirty ones'll give you the clap every time. Right, Henson?

              I hear tell they're on the verge of gettin' all of us together.

              The coloured, the white. Say they want one army.

              You can forget that, CJ.

              White folks ain't never gonna integrate no army.

              I don't know. If they do, I'm gonna be ready for 'em.

              "Get me a bright red zoot suit"


              "And a pair of patent leather shoes

              "And the woman sittin' at home waitin'

              "for the day we get the news Lord, Lord"


              "Lord, Lord

              "Look out, Adolf Hitler You and Tojo gonna be singing the blues"

              All right.

              "Gotta little problem It's about  -foot- 

              "And they call him Sarge And he's after you

              "Got to watch what you're sayin' Got to watch what you do

              "'Cause that low-down dirty Waters is gonna roll all over you

              "Lord, Lord"

              Knock it off.

              We don't need no more guitar-picking, sittin'-around-the-shack music today.

              I want all you men out of those baseball uniforms and into work clothes.

              You'll report to me at   :  .

              We've got a work detail: painting the lobby of the Officers' Club.

              Why can't those officers paint their own club?

              Hell no, Smalls.

              Let the Great Coloured Cleanup Company do it.

              Our motto is:

              "Anything you don't want to do, the coloured troops will do for you."

              "Anything you don't want to do The coloured troops will do for you"

              That's enough.

              Let me tell all you fancy-assed ballplayin' Negroes something.

              The reasons for any orders given by a superior officer...

              ...is none of you-all's business. You obey them.

              This country is at war.

              You niggers are soldiers, nothin' else.

              And something else: from now on, when I tell you to do something...

              ...I want it done. Is that clear?

              Yes, sir.

              Now, get out of those baseball uniforms.

              I could smell you suckers before I hit the door.

              What kind of coloured man are you?

              I'm a soldier, Peterson.

              The kind of coloured man that don't like lazy, shiftless Negroes.

              Well, sir, you ain't got to come in here calling us names.

              The Nazis call you "Schwarze".

              You gonna complain to Hitler that he hurt your feelings?

              It don't look like we could do too much to them Nazis...

              ...with paintbrushes, Sarge.

              You trying to mock me, CJ?

              No, sir, Sarge.


              Because whatever an ignorant, low-class Geechee like you has to say...

              ...ain't worth paying attention to.

              Is it?

              Is it?

              I reckon not, Sarge.

              You're a creep, Waters!

              Sarge's just jokin', Pete. He don't mean no harm.

              No, he does.

              I mean, we take enough from them white boys.

              Yes, you do. And if it wasn't for you Southern niggers...

              ...white folks wouldn't think we was all fools.

              Well, where are you from? England?


              Looks like we got us a wiseass Alabama boy here.

              Yes, sir.

              Now, don't you get smart, nigger.

              Get your fuckin' hands off me!

              You wanna hit old Sergeant Waters, boy?

              Come on.


              Come on, nigger!


              At ease. Now, what's going on here, Sergeant?

              Nothing, sir.

              I was going over some batting techniques, sir.

              Is there something you wanted? Something I can do, sir?

              No, nothing. I just wanted to congratulate you men on the game you won today.

              The way I figure it, only seven more...

              ...and we'll be the first coloured team in Army history to play the Yankees.

              The entire regiment is counting on you. Sergeant?


              As far as I'm concerned, these men can have the rest of the day off.

              Beg your pardon, sir.

              Excuse me, sir.

              They don't need time off. They need all the work they can get.

              Our fellas in North Africa don't get time off.

              Besides, they have orders to report for a paint detail at   :  .

              -Who issued that order? -Major Harris, sir.

              -I'll speak to the major. -Sir?

              I don't think it's a good idea to have a coloured NCO...

              ...mixed up with your officers, sir.

              I said I'd speak to him, Sergeant.

              Yes, sir.


              About that catch you made in centre field today:

              How in the hell did you get up that high?

              They say I got bird in my blood, sir.

              I hope it's an American Eagle.

              No, sir.


              See, a man told my daddy the day I was born:

              He said, "The boy got the shadow of crow wings in his chest--"

              That's fine, Memphis.

              Men, you played a great game today.

              -Sergeant? -Ten-hut!

              Carry on.

              How long a story were you gonna tell the man there, CJ?


              I ain't forgot you, boy.

              It's time to teach you a lesson.

              -Wilkie. -Sir.

              Go outside and make sure everything is set up.

              You want all the NCOs?

              I'm going outside to wait for you, Geechee. And when you come out...

              ...I'm gonna whup your black Southern ass.

              Let the whole company watch, too.

              You need to learn respect for these stripes.

              The rest of you...

              ...get those goddamn uniforms off like I said.

              You ain't gonna fight him, are you?

              Don't do it. He'll fight dirty.

              You can't whup the Sarge.

              You wanna fight in my place, Cobb?

              Pete, I got some Farmer's Dust.

              A pinch of this will make you strong as a bull.

              Would you get out of here with that backwater crap?

              You can't speak up for yourself. You let him treat you like a dog.

              Calling names ain't nothin'. I know who I is.

              Sarge ain't so bad. He's been good to me.

              The man despises you.

              You're wrong, Pete. Plus, I feel sorry for him myself.

              Any man ain't sure where he belong gotta be in a whole lot of pain.

              Look, don't you all even care about nothing?

              Don't none of us like it, Pete...

              ...but this is the Army and Sarge got all the stripes.

              I'll go get the captain.

              You ain't got to go out there and get your head beaten in.

              Somebody's got to fight him.

              Waters, what's going on?

              I had a problem with one of the guys.


              Don't worry about it.

              Come on now, boy.

              Let's take your whuppin' like a man.

              Kick his ass, Pete.

              Watch him, Pete.

              Come on out here and kick old Sarge's ass.

              Come on, Geechee.

              You don't want the Sarge to grow old waitin' for you, now.

              Fight him!

              Watch him, Pete!

              He got him!

              That got him!

              Get up, Sarge!

              You throw a pretty mean punch, boy.

              But old Sarge is here to kick your ass.

              -There you go. -Get up, Peterson.

              -Get up, Pete. -Get him, Sarge.


              That's enough.

               y:i Yeah, he beat me pretty bad that day, sir.

              Did anybody report the fight to an officer?

              No, sir, I never reported it. I know I should have, but...

              ...he left me alone after that so I just played ball.

              I appreciate your honesty, Peterson.

              Thank you, sir.

              Did you see Sergeant Waters the night he was killed?

              No, sir. Smalls and I had guard duty.

              -Thank you. That'll be all for now. -Yes, sir.

              Did the team ever get to play the Yankees?

              No, sir. We lost the last game to a sanitation company.

              What brings you out to my neighbourhood? Slumming?

              I wanted you to see the request...

              ...I've sent to Colonel Nivens to have your investigation terminated.

              Now, my reasons have nothing to do with you personally.

              My request won't hurt your Army career in any way.

              It's just that there are other considerations in this case.

              Only the colour of my skin.

              Now, hold it, Davenport!

              I want the people that killed Waters prosecuted.

              So do I.

              Then give this up.

              White people down here, they won't see their duty or justice.

              They'll see you. And you can't possibly get at the truth.

              Why? Because two white officers are involved in this?

              You can't get them charged, court-marshalled or anything else.

              Why wasn't there any mention of them in my report?

              You think I'm gonna let you get away with this?

              I was ordered not to include it.

              -By who? -Colonel Nivens.

              Now, look.

              They took two .   calibre slugs out of Waters, Army issue.

              Now, if my men thought a white officer had killed him...

              ...there would have been a slaughter.

              Who are the officers?

              Lieutenant Byrd in Ordinance and Captain Wilcox,   th Hospital Group.

              Private Seymour saw them on the road.

              When I checked the officers' billet, I found them both asleep.

              They admitted they'd had an argument with the sergeant...

              ...but said they'd left him on the road.

              So, you never believed the Klan was involved.


              No. Now can you see why this thing needs somebody else?

              Tell me what they told you.

              Look, hotshot.

              They're not going to let you charge those two men.

              Tell me what they told you.

              Left, two, three, four....

              Left, two, three, four.

              You wanna move your ass off the goddamn road, Sergeant?

              Well, I'll be damned.

              If it ain't the white boys!

              -Did you hear what he said? Shit! -Let it go!

              "Let it go," my ass!

              Come here, Sergeant.

              White boys, all starched and stiff.

              Want everybody to learn that symphony shit.

              That's what you said in France...

              ...and you know, I listened to it.

              Am I all right now? Am I?

              You'd better straighten up and salute an officer...

              ...or I'll take your fuckin' stripes, boy!

              That's better.

              Well, look at the nigger.

              You come to attention right now, and that is an order.

              I ain't doin' nothin' white folks say do. No more.

              -I'll teach you-- -Leave him alone. He's drunk.

              I want the nigger to do like I tell him. Do it!


              -I'll teach him to do it. -Easy.

              Look what it's done to me.

              I hate myself.

              Don't blame me. God's the one who made you black, not me, boy.

              My daddy said, "Don't talk like dis...

              "...talk like that!

              "Don't say heah...



              I even killed for you.

              You wanna kill him? The man is sick!

              -Let me go! -You're gonna kill him.

              Come on.

              Come on.

              White men are killing for you, nigger.

              Good men dyin' for you.

              So, anyway, they said they left Waters about   :  .

              Everyone in the barracks confirms that they were in by   :  ...

              ...and that neither man left till the following morning.

              That's nothing but white officers lying to protect their own...

              ...and you know that.

              I'm arresting both of them, Captain.

              Consider yourself under arrest pending my charges against you.

              What charges?

              It was your duty to go over Nivens' head if you had to.

              You're going to arrest the colonel, too? He's part of their alibi.

              He was there in the officers' billet when they came in.

              Played poker till  :   in the morning.

              Yeah, the colonel, Major Hines and four other white officers.

              They're all lying.

              You just go out and prove it.

              Sir, I intend to arrest Lieutenant Byrd and Captain Wilcox.

              You will do nothing of the kind.


              Sir, I believe these two men had something to do with Sergeant Waters' death.

              No, I can't allow that.

              You have no authority to arrest white officers.

              Then give me the authority, sir.


              Your breakfast is ready.

              Thank you, honey.

              Can I have someone fetch you coffee, Captain?

              No, thank you, ma'am.

              I hope they're making your stay here at Fort Neal real comfortable, Captain.

              They're taking good care of me, ma'am. It's very thoughtful of you to ask.

              Good morning.

              No, I can't give you that authority.

              I told you. They were in by   :  . I was there.

              Now, you've read our affidavits on this thing.

              Colonel, what will the Army say when they find out two white officers...

              ...beat up the murder victim not long before he was shot to death?

              Their CO refuses to report that they had anything to do with it...

              ...and he signs an affidavit supporting their alibi.

              These two are our best suspects. How can you not have them arrested...

              ...or at least questioned by the investigating officer?

              Something like this is bound to get out.

              I didn't say you couldn't question them.

              But I want a white officer present.

              And I want everything that's said reported to me.

              -Is that clear? -Of course, sir.

              You're dismissed, Captain.

              Yes, sir.

              Go with God.

              Virge, same old sermon.

              I didn't know you were a religious man, Henson.

              I'm not. I just play this organ.

              If I play on Sundays, I get out of a few work details during the week.

              That's all.

              -I want to talk about Sergeant Waters. -Yeah?

              There ain't much to talk about, except for I didn't like the man myself...

              ...on account of what he did to CJ.

              What did he do?

              I don't mean you no offence, but I ain't exactly crazy about...

              ...talking to no officer.

              Coloured or white.

              You're gonna talk, Henson, or I'll put your ass in the stockade...

              ...so long, you'll forget how to.

              He was always on CJ's back about somethin'.

              Every little thing.

              Least ways, that's how it seemed to me.

              Then the shootin' went down.

              What shooting?

              The shootin' over at Williams' Golden Palace.

              Happened just last year right at the end of the baseball season.

              A whole lot of shots had gone off right near the barracks.

              I, myself, had gone over and gotten a little juiced at the Enlisted Men's Club.

              Somebody's shootin'.

              They're shootin' over there.

              -Everyone up. Wake 'em up, Wilkie! -Come on, move it.

              Unass them bunks. Come on, you Geechees.

              Off your asses, on your feet. Everybody up.

              Let's go.

              Company, ten-hut!

              There's been a shooting.

              One of ours bucked the line at Williams' pay phone and three soldiers are dead.

              Two coloured, one white MP.

              Now, the man who bucked the line, he killed the MP...

              ...and the white boys started shooting everybody.

              That's how our two got shot.

              And this low-down nigger we're looking for got chased down here.

              And was almost caught, until someone in these barracks...

              ...started shooting at the men chasing him.


              ...we got us a vicious, low-down murdering piece of black trash...

              ...in here somewhere.

              And a few people who helped him.

              If any of you are in this...

              ...I want you to step forward.

              All you baseball niggers are innocent?

              -Wilkie! -Sir.

              Make the search.

              Open those footlockers. Come on, Smalls.

              All right, Peterson, what are you waiting for, an invitation?

              Open 'em up. Spread 'em out.

              I want to see what's happening inside.

              Memphis, you in this?

              No, sir, Sarge.

              Okay, guys, you heard what the sergeant said.

              How many of you were out tonight?

              Sir, I was over at Williams' 'round about  :  .

              I got me a pack of Lucky Strikes.

              But I didn't try to call home.

              Got something.

              Still warm.

              -CJ, is this yours? -You know it ain't mine, Sarge.

              Probably not.

              Probably just crawled in through a window...

              ...passed everybody's bunk, Peterson, Cobb...

              ...and just snuggled up under yours. Must be voodoo, right, boy?

              Or that Farmer's Dust.

              That pistol ain't mine, Sarge. I hate guns.

              Makes me feel bad just to see a gun.

              Liar! Place this man under arrest.

              Look, sir, CJ couldn't hurt a fly, Sarge. You know that.

              I found a gun, soldier.

              -Waters, you know it ain't him. -Who is it then? You?

              Sarge, I saw somebody sneak in here.

              You were drunk when you left the club. I saw you.

              Throw his ass in the shower.

              Well, I was here all night. CJ ain't go nowhere.

              He was asleep before I got to bed.

              You think he's innocent?

              CJ Memphis...

              ...playin' cotton picker, singin' the blues...

              ...bowin' and scrapin', smilin' in white folks' faces.

              This man undermined us: you, me, everybody.

              That "yassuh-boss" is hiding something.

              Are we like that today, in     ?

              He shot that white boy!

              What did you go and do now, boy?

              Hit a noncommissioned officer.

              CJ just lost his head--

              Shut up!

              Get him out of here.

              Sarge, I know I saw somebody.

              Smalls, I saw somebody, really.

              CJ was sleeping when I came in.

              It's Waters. Can't y'all see that?

              You know, I seen 'em before.

              We had 'em in Alabama.

              White man give him a small-ass job as a servant and when the boss ain't looking...

              ...that old copy-cat nigger act like he the new boss.

              Shouting, ordering people around.

              You see, arresting CJ, that'll get Waters another stripe.

              Next, it'll be you or you.

              You see, he can't look good unless he's standing on you.

              Cobb told him CJ was in here all evening. Waters didn't even listen, did he?

              Turning somebody in. "Well, look what I done, Captain-boss."

              Only reason he's in the Army is 'cause they know he'll do what they tell him to.

              I've seen this kind of fool before.

              Somebody's gonna kill him one of these days.

              You know, I heard they killed a sergeant at Fort Robinson. A recruit did it.

              Forget it, Pete.

              With our luck, Sarge'll come through the whole war, won't even get a scratch.

              Yeah, maybe. But I'm going over to them stockades.

              Tell them MPs what I know:

              CJ was in here all evening.

              I'm going with you!

              You all wait up. I'm coming, too.

              Was Wilkie the only person out of his bunk that night?

              I guess. Wilkie came in with the Sarge.

              But it's hard to say.

              It's been a while and, like I said, I was a little juiced that night.

              -Ellis! -Yes? Yes, sir?

              Find out what's holding up my investigation of Wilcox and Byrd.

              Yes, sir.

              The night Sergeant Waters was killed, where were you?

              I was in the barracks.

              I played checkers with Cobb till  :   and then I went to bed.

              Is there gonna be anything else, sir?

              Dismissed, Private.

              Let her go.

              Let me know when it's full board. Here we go. Let's go, baby.

              Pick 'em up.

              Pick your rifles up. That's it.

              That's it. Move out!

              Move your ass!

              That's it, move out!

              Goddamn it, keep going! That's it, move it up!

              Shake it up! Hit that wall! Get your feet up!

              Hurry it up! Move up!

              Watch it!


              Hold it!

              Stop shooting!

              Which one of you idiots is Cobb?

              That's me, sir. You all right, Captain?

              I want to talk to you.

              What'd he want old Cobb for?

              I don't know.

              What did he ask you, Pete?

              He just asked a couple of questions about the baseball game...

              ...some about the Sarge. Didn't amount to too much.

              Yeah, we was homeys, me and CJ, both from Mississippi.

              CJ, from Carmella. Me, I'm from up 'round Jutlerville, what they call Snake County.

              How did you feel when your best friend was arrested?

              I hated Waters for it, sir.


              CJ ain't killed nobody.

              He hit Waters, didn't he?

              Yeah, but the sergeant made him, sir.

              He called that boy things he ain't never heard before.

              CJ was from the farm, a country boy.

              That jail cell started doing crazy things to CJ, sir.

              It started closing in on him.

              You all right?

              It's hard to breathe in these little spaces, Cobb.

              What they doin' to you in here, CJ?

              Man wasn't made for this here.

              Nothin' was.

              Don't think I'll ever see an animal in a cage again and not feel sorry for it.

              Rather be on a chain gang.

              Come on, homey!

              Don't think I'm getting out of here, Cobb.

              Feel like I'm going crazy.

              Can't walk in here.

              Can't see the sun.

              I try to sing...

              ...but nothin' won't come out.

              Yesterday, I broke a guitar string.

              And I lost my Dust!

              Got no protection, Cobb.

              Nothin' to keep the dogs from tearin' at my bones.

              CJ, stop talkin' crazy.

              You know who come up here last night?

              Sergeant Waters.

                They talking about giving you five years.

                They call what you did "mutiny," boy.

                That gun ain't mine.

                We know that, CJ.

                We changed the charge on you this morning.

                You're in here for striking a superior officer.

                And everybody seen it, too.

                Why are you doin' this to me, Sarge?

                Don't feel too bad, CJ.

                It has to be this way.

                You see...

                ...the First War didn't change nothing for the Negro.

                But this one's gonna change everything.

                Them Nazis ain't all crazy.

                Whole lot of people just can't seem to fit in to where things seem to be going.

                Like you, CJ.

                See, the Black race can't afford you no more.

                There used to be a time, we'd see someone like you singin', clownin', yassuh-bossin'...

                ...and we wouldn't do anything.

                Folks liked that.

                You were good.

                Homey kind of nigger.

                When they needed somebody to mistreat, call a name or two, they paraded you.

                Reminded them of the good old days.

                Not no more.

                The day of the Geechee is gone, boy.

                And you're going with it.

                We can't let nobody go on believing we're all fools like you.

                I waited a long time for you, boy.

                But I got you.

                I put two Geechees in jail in Camp Campbell, Kentucky.

                Three in Fort Huachuca.

                Now I've got you.

                One less fool for the race to be ashamed of.

                What happened to him?

                CJ killed himself, sir.

                The day after I saw him, the MPs found him hanging from the bars.

                We lost our last game.

                We just threw it.

                We did it for CJ.

                Captain Taylor was mad 'cause we ain't get to play the Yankees.

                Peterson was right on that one. We needed to protest that man.

                And the sergeant, what did he do?

                They broke up the team and assigned us to this smoke-generating company.

                And the Sarge, he just started acting funny.

                He stayed drunk all the time.

                What time did you get in the night he was killed?

                Between  :   and  :  .

                Me and Henson listened to "The Jack Benny Show", played checkers.

                Who was the last man in that night?

                Peterson and Smalls. They had guard duty.

                -Is that it, Captain? -Thank you, Corporal.

                Yes, sir.

                Eight ball, corner pocket.

                -Whose idea was this, Charlie? -Nivens'.

                You're going to have to clear the area, Jim. We're here to question these two.

                He's got no business in here.

                Take it up with the colonel.

                Now, this is Captain Davenport.

                You both understand you're to give the captain your full cooperation.

                You're a lawyer?

                I'm not here to answer your questions, Lieutenant. Sit down.

                Sit down.

                Yes, sir.

                When did you last see Sergeant Waters?

                The same night somebody killed him.

                Of course, I should have done it myself, by the way he spoke to Wilcox and me.

                How did he speak to you, Captain?

                Well, he was drunk.

                He said things he shouldn't have.

                I told the lieutenant not to make the situation worse than it was.

                So, we left him there, on the side of the road, on his knees.


                Exactly what did he say?

                He said he wasn't gonna obey the white man's orders anymore.

                Then he starts blaming Wilcox and me for him being black.

                I mean, imagine that. Hell, I didn't even know the man.

                He said he killed somebody, too.

                And some pretty insulting things about us. I mean, white officers.

                Did he say who? Mention a name?

                Look, the goddamn nigger was disrespectful.

                No way does a coloured soldier speak to a white officer like that.

                What are we doing, wasting time on this?

                You answer him like he wants you to, Byrd, or I'll stick it to your ass...

                ...every chance I get. You got that?

                Yes, sir.

                Captain, let me handle this.

                Then handle it! Jesus.

                You said he was disrespectful. Is that why you killed him?

                I killed no one.

                Sit down!

                -You hit him, huh? -I knocked him down.

                -Then you shot him. -He was alive.

                You beat him up then shot him--

                No! Get outta my face before I kill you!

                -Like Waters? -No.


                -He's trying to put it on me. -Sit down.

                Answer his questions, Lieutenant.

                You were both coming off bivouac, right? Speak up.

                -You both had weapons. -We didn't fire them.

                -When'd you turn them in? -Right away.

                Colonel Nivens took our .  s to the MPs.

                He kept it quiet so the coloured boys wouldn't know anyone white...

                ...was involved, but those weapons cleared ballistics.

                Besides, we've been short on .   calibre ammo for what, six months?

                It's for MPs and special duty people only.

                Look, nobody on that exercise was issued any.


                I said, sir, nobody on the bivouac was issued any .   ammo.

                I don't believe you. Why wasn't I told?

                The weapons had cleared and the colonel felt if he involved you...

                ...you'd tell Washington, which he thinks you did anyway.

                Sir, we were not involved in any way with the sergeant's death.

                I'm a doctor.

                We left that man on the side of the road. Alive.

                You're both under arrest. The charge is murder.

                -Captain-- -Do you think I believe that crap?

                Let them go.


                -Are we being charged? -Not by me.

                What are you doing? You've got a motive and a witness.

                What more do you want?

                This is still my investigation, Charlie.

                We've both been had, Captain. The colonel knew this all along.

                -I've been going in circles. -They are guilty as hell and you know it.

                I'll back you up. Charge them!

                I do what the facts tell me, Captain, not you.

                You don't know what a fact is, Davenport.

                I'm the lawyer. They teach you law at West Point?

                You don't have to be a goddamn lawyer to deal with those two assholes.

                And if they didn't kill Waters, who did?

                I don't know yet.

                What do you know about CJ Memphis?

                A great ballplayer.

                Committed suicide.

                It was a tragedy.

                I think Waters tricked the kid into attacking him.

                No, I can't believe that, Davenport.

                I mean, this man managed the finest baseball team in the entire US Army.

                Coloured people aren't that devious. Hell, we hadn't lost a game for two years.

                And the finest player that Waters ever had was CJ Memphis.

                Now, if you'd have seen him, you'd know what I mean.

                Captain Davenport!

                We found Wilkie, but we haven't located Peterson and Smalls yet.

                -Where's Wilkie? -In the barracks, sir.

                Wait a minute. Didn't you question Wilkie and Peterson already?

                I asked you a question.

                This is still my investigation. Let's go.

                That's been the problem all along, you arrogant son of a bitch!

                You nervous, Wilkie?

                No, I just couldn't figure out why you called me back, sir.

                You said the Sarge busted you, right?

                Yeah, he got me busted, sir. He reported me to the captain.

                -How'd you feel? -Well, I....

                You and the Sarge were good friends.

                -He was a nice guy. -Yes, he....

                -Didn't you tell me that? -Yeah....

                -Would a nice guy get a friend busted? -Well--

                No, speak up.

                -You lied when you said he was nice. -No.

                -What I said was he-- -Was Waters a nice guy or not?

                No! He wasn't a nice guy.

                You don't turn somebody in for that. You give extra duty.

                You chew 'em out. But three stripes.... It took me    years to get them stripes.

                That's right. That made you mad, didn't it?

                Yes. All the things I did for him.

                That's right. You were his boy, weren't you?

                You took care of the team.

                You ran his errands.

                You policed his quarters.

                You listened to his stories. Put the gun under CJ's bunk.

                Yes. No, l--

                Sit down!

                It was you Henson saw that night. You lied about Waters, you're lying now.

                You were the only one out that night.

                Who else could've found CJ's bunk in the dark? It was you.

                No, it was Sarge. He ordered me. Said I'd get my stripes back.

                He wanted to teach CJ a lesson. Put him in jail for a few days.

                Scare him. But CJ hit him and he had CJ where he wanted.

                And then CJ, he hung himself.

                He died like he was spiting the Sarge. And then the Sarge...

                ...he didn't figure that.

                What did he have against CJ?

                He despised him, but he hid it 'cause everyone liked CJ.

                Underneath, it was a crazy kind of hate.

                A crazy kind of hate. You won't believe it. I mean, sometimes you could just feel it....

                He's the kind of boy that seems innocent.

                Got everybody on the post thinking he's a strong, black buck.

                White boys envy his strength. His speed.

                Power in his swing.

                Then this coloured champion lets those same white boys call him...

                ..."Shine" or "Sambo" and he just smiles.

                Can't talk. Can barely read or write his own name...

                ...and don't care.

                He'll tell you they like him...

                ...or that coloured folks ain't supposed to have but so much sense.

                Do you know the damage one ignorant Negro can do?

                We were in France in the First War.

                We'd won decorations, but the white boys had told all them French gals...

                ...that we had tails.

                And they found this ignorant coloured soldier.

                Paid him to tie a tail to his ass and run around half-naked making monkey sounds.

                They put him on a big round table in the Cafe Napoleon.

                Put a reed in his hand, a crown on his head...

                ...a blanket on his shoulders and made him eat bananas...

                ...in front of all them Frenchies.

                The white boys danced and passed out leaflets with his picture on it.

                Called him "Moonshine, King of the Monkeys."

                When we slit his throat, you know that fool asked us...

                ...what he had done wrong.

                My daddy told me, we got to turn our backs on his kind.

                Close our ranks to the chitlins, collard greens, cornbread style.

                We are men, soldiers.

                I don't intend for our race...

                ...to be cheated out of its place of honour and respect in this war...

                ...because of fools like CJ.

                You watch everything he does. Everything.

                And I watched him. But Waters couldn't wait.

                He wouldn't talk about nothing else. CJ this, CJ all the time.

                Why didn't he pick on Peterson? They had the fight.

                He liked Peterson.

                Pete fought back. Sarge admired that. He was planning to promote Pete.

                You imagine that? He thought Peterson would make a fine soldier.

                What did Peterson do when CJ died?

                Everybody blamed the Sarge.

                Pete put together that protest that lost our last game.

                Afterwards, he kept to himself or with Smalls.

                -I didn't mean to do what I did. -Ellis!

                -It wasn't my fault. -Ellis!

                Yes, sir!

                -What's going on? -We're shipping out.

                They finally letting us Negroes fight!

                Hitler ain't got a chance.

                And after what Joe Louis did to Max Schmeling....

                  -hour standby alert. It's the invasion of Europe, boys.

                Look out, Hitler, the niggers is comin' to get your ass through the fog!

                We gonna "goose" the goose step, daddy!

                "Heil" Hitler!

                We gonna turn them Nazis around, sir.

                We're gonna teach them a thing or two about them "Schwarze".

                -Ellis. -Yes, sir.

                Private Wilkie is under arrest. Take him to the stockade.


                You heard me.

                Private Smalls, as you requested, sir.

                Leave us alone, Sergeant.

                Yes, sir.

                Why'd you go AWOL, soldier?

                Private Anthony Smalls, sir.

                Answer my question!

                I didn't go A-W-O-L, sir.

                See, I got drunk in Tynin and I was just....

                Weren't you and Peterson supposed to be on detail?

                Where was Peterson? Speak up.

                I don't know, sir.

                You just walked off your detail and Peterson did nothing?

                No, sir. See, he warned me, sir. "Listen, Smalls," he said.

                "Now, if you...."

                Are you trying to make a fool out of me, Smalls?

                No, sir.

                You two went over the hill together, didn't you?

                Answer me!


                Yes. You went over the hill together because Peterson knew...

                ...I'd find out the two of you killed Waters. Didn't you?

                What? I can't hear you!

                You killed Waters, didn't you?

                I want an answer!

                Did you kill Waters?

                It was Peterson, sir.

                It wasn't me.

                People are blind.

                Smalls, look who's drunk on his ass.

                Leave him be, Pete. He ain't worth it.


                I'm gonna enjoy this.

                Big, bad Sergeant Waters down on his knees.

                No, sir, Smalls.

                No, I'm gonna love this.

                Sarge, need some help?

                Hi, Pete.

                Here, come on now, here we go. Yes.

                -That's the help I'll give you. -Peterson!

                Shut up!

                Smalls, some people....

                If this was a German, would you kill it?

                If it was Hitler or that fucking Tojo, would you kill him?

                There's a trick to it, Peterson.

                It's the only way you can win.

                See, CJ could never make it.

                He was a clown. A clown in blackface.

                A nigger.

                See, you got to be like them.

                But the rules are fixed and--


                Hear it?

                It's CJ.

                "Low-down, low-down dirty shame"

                I made him do it.

                But it doesn't make any difference.

                They still hate you.

                -Peterson. -It's justice, Smalls.

                It's for CJ.


                They still hate you.

                And you call that justice?

                No, sir.

                Then why the fuck didn't you do something?

                I was just...

                ...scared of him, sir.

                He said everybody would think...

                ...white people did it.

                God, I'm sorry.

                I'm sorry. I was just so scared that I....

                Caught this one on Old Bridge Road, sir.

                That'll be all, thank you.

                You told it, didn't you?

                I didn't kill much.

                Some things need getting rid of.

                A man like Waters never did nobody no good anyway, Captain.

                Who gave you...

                ...the right to judge?

                To decide who is fit...

                ...to be a Negro...

                ...and who is not?




                Get these goddamn men out of here.

                Yes, sir.

                I hear they caught Peterson.

                I guess that's it. Got your man.

                Yeah, I got him.

                I was wrong.

                So was I. Charlie, look, I could do with a lift.

                Well, hop in.

                I guess I'll have to get used to Negroes with bars on their shoulders, Davenport.

                You know, being in charge.

                You'll get used to it, Captain. You can bet your ass on that.

                You'll get used to it.




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