‘Nam – Episode 103
PFC’s Pete Hormel and Ziggy Riley have been wrongly accused of being war criminals and are on the run through the jungles of Vietnam, accompanied by RN Annabeth Bisch and ex-Viet Cong Haht Dung..
Episode 103 – The Ledge
(Thing Thong’s canoe is being towed down the Thiem River behind the PBR Abraham III, captained by Arnold Levy. Haht Dung has been restrained and Capt. Levy is questioning PFC’s Hormel and Riley and RN Bisch..)
Levy: What’s your name, soldier?
Hormel: Max…imillian. Jones. PFC Maximillian Jones.
Levy: (turning to Ziggy) And you?
Riley: Max…izillion? Jones?
Hormel: (buries his face in his hands)
Levy: Maxizillion? Haven’t heard that one before. You boys related?
Riley: Nope. Just a coincidence.
Hormel: (glaring at Ziggy) Yes. An extremely strange coincidence.
Levy: Indeed. And you, lil’ lady?
Bisch: Um, Karen Williams.
(Capt. Levy points at the three one by one, puffing on his cigar..)
Levy: PFC Maximillian Jones, PFC Maxizillion Jones and RN Karen Williams.
Hormel: You can just call me Max.
Riley: (stroking his chin) And you can call me…Zilly.
Levy: I won’t be doing that. You’re Jones One and you’re Jones Two.
Riley: Aw, why do I have to be Jones Two?
Levy: So you’re telling me this is a high-profile target you fellas captured over here?
Hormel: Yes, he’s got loads of intel; which is why we chose to travel by canoe. Keep a low-profile, keep him alive and get him to Saigon.
Levy: Well hell, we can take you to Saigon. Can’t we, boys?
Sailor #1: Yeah, boss.
Sailor #2: Sure thing, Cap’n.
Hormel: Oh, that’s okay. We’ve got the canoe.
Levy: Don’t be silly, son. We can’t have you transporting such a high-profile prisoner on a little rinky-dink canoe.
Hormel: Well again, it’s more to keep a low profile. There are a lot of VC out in those jungles looking for this man.
Levy: Ain’t nothin’ on this river but us and crocs.
Riley: I thought they were gators.
Levy: Y’all got nothin’ to worry about. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Private Peterson, turn this puppy around. We’re headed to Saigon.
(A gagged Dung glares at Pete from the back of the boat as Pete holds up a reassuring hand..)
Riley: So, nobody wants to call me Zilly?
(Lt. Toole and PFC Talcum have arrived at the abandoned VC camp and are looking over the wreckage of the bamboo cage in the otherwise empty clearing..)
Toole: Looks like this was a VC camp. They hold prisoners in these bamboo cages.
Talcum: (pondering) What if they captured a koala bear? The joke would be on them, wouldn’t it?
Toole: It’s funny, the footprints lead right into this clearing.
Talcum: (chuckling) Yeah, that’s hilarious.
Toole: It’s as if they scared off an entire camp of Viet Cong soldiers.
Talcum: Dang, maybe these guys are more bad-ass than we thought.
(Toole makes his way to the far end of the clearing..)
Toole: The tracks start up again here. Looks like they headed south.
Talcum: Where do you think they’re going, boss?
(Toole lights a cigarette and squints into the setting Vietnamese sun..)
(One of the sailors is playing harmonica for the disinterested Annabeth. Pete kneels down next to Dung and lets him borrow his canteen while Ziggy distracts Capt. Levy..)
Riley: So what’s your favorite kind of dinosaur?
Levy: I dunno, son. Brontosaurus?
Riley: (frowns) Wrong! Pteranodon!
Dung: Now what the plan, poison meat?
Hormel: I think I like ‘tall boy’ better. Just hang tight, Haht. There’s only four men on this boat. When the time is right, we’ll turn the tables. They don’t know what the war criminals Hormel and Riley look like; so we should be fine as long as we stick to the story.
Dung: Just dump ’em overboard. Feed ’em to the crocs.
Hormel: No. No more killing. Especially not our own guys.
Dung: What’s the matter, killer? You already got 412 bodies on you.
Hormel: 412? Where’d you hear that?
Dung: Harmonica boy over there had the radio on when he was tying me up. Said they found more dead American. You better not cook anymore meal or you gonna run out of soldier!
(Dung cackles as Pete re-gags him and stares back at the setting sun in the boat’s wake..)
Hormel: Sweet sassy molassy.
(In Saigon, Sum Dung has been called to the office of her father — local legitimate businessman, Quan Thum..)
Mrs. Dung: (bowing) Father.
Thum: Daughter, please. Have a seat. I have some unfortunate news.
(Sum collapses into the chair across from her father’s desk, hand clapped over her mouth..)
Mrs. Dung: Oh no, Haht! He has perished?
Thum: No, no. He has merely been imprisoned.
Mrs. Dung: Oh dear.
Thum: I just got off the radio with Gen. Nguyen. It seems your husband failed a mission and was placed in one of the Viet Cong’s bamboo cages.
Mrs. Dung: When will he be released, father?
Thum: Well, that’s the thing. After he was imprisoned — along with some rather nefarious Americans — the VC broke camp and left them behind. He is most likely still in that cage as we speak.
Mrs. Dung: We must rescue him, father! He is my husband!
Thum: I have already taken care of it, my dear. I have sent two of my best men up the Thiem River. They should arrive there in a day or two.
Mrs. Dung: Which men did you send, father?
Thum: The Tiht Brothers.
Mrs. Dung: Oh, not the Tihts.
Thum: Yes, the Tihts. What’s wrong with the Tihts?
Mrs. Dung: Father, they’re a couple of boobs.
(Lonh and Bonh Tiht are paddling up the Thiem and smacking each other in the head with their oars..)
Lonh: Stop hitting yourself!
Bonh: No, you stop hitting yourself!
Lonh: You’re stupid!
Bonh: No, you’re stupid!
(Capt. Levy is smoking another cigar, sitting up front with an increasingly-nervous Pete as the boat is docked on the river’s edge for the evening..)
Levy: So I’m sure by now you’ve heard about those bastards who poisoned an entire company of US soldiers, eh Private Jones?
Hormel: Yeah, that sure was awful.
Levy: Terrible tragedy. Four-hundred-and-twelve dead. They say the father could be facing prison time. Mr. …Hormel, is it?
Hormel: (face goes white) Ya don’t say.
Levy: I wouldn’t wanna be in that kid’s shoes, boy. On the run, nowhere to turn, enemies on both sides.
Levy: Nope. If it was me, I’d probably get myself a fake name, a nice story and get the hell outta Dodge.
Levy: Something like……Max…imillian.
(Pete glances over at Capt. Levy who motions toward the back of the boat. Pete turns to see Ziggy, Annabeth and Dung with the three sailors’ guns trained on them..)
Levy: Let’s take a little walk, Private Hormel.
Hormel: Ah, crap.
(Lt. Toole and PFC Talcum are stumbling through the jungle darkness when they finally come across Thong’s Rice Paddy..)
Talcum: Wow, look at all that rice!
Toole: Shh. Where there’s rice, there’s rice farmers. We don’t need to wake anybody up.
Thong: Oh, that’s alright. I’m a light sleeper.
(Toole and Talcum turn to see Thing Thong’s rifle barrel staring them right back..)
Talcum: Ah, shit.
(Annabeth struggles against her bound wrists as the sailors and Capt. Levy march the foursome up a steep hill..)
Bisch: Where are you taking us?
Levy: You’ll find out soon enough, honey.
Dung: Where you guys learn to tie knot? Knot-tying school?
Riley: Good one, Dung. Where’d you learn to tell jokes? Joke-telling school?
Hormel: Quiet, you two. Listen Capt. Levy, if you just give me some time I can explain everything. What they’re reporting on the radio isn’t entirely true.
Levy: That’s just what I’d expect a war criminal to say.
Riley: You meet a lot of war criminals, do you?
Dung: This whole army a bunch of war criminal.
Hormel: Not helping, Haht. Please, Captain. Let me explain.
Levy: I’ve heard enough outta you, Hormel. Keep marchin’.
Hormel: (turning to Ziggy angrily) You just had to be ‘Maxizillion’!
Riley: What? It’s more than Maximillian!
(The Tiht Brothers are fast asleep in the canoe as it floats upriver. A crocodile eyes the brothers hungrily..)
(Twenty minutes later Pete, Ziggy, Annabeth and Dung are standing over a steep cliff, hundreds of feet above the Thiem River..)
Riley: Aw man, we’re goin’ down there; aren’t we?
Levy: You pick things up quick, Riley. Too bad you got mixed up with this Hormel character. I coulda used a big tough guy with brains on my boat.
Peterson: Words hurt, boss!
Riley: Yeah, well I get seasick really easily. So, joke’s on you!
(The sailors cock their rifles and aim on the four..)
Hormel: Captain, you can’t do this. We’re American soldiers. Don’t we still have the right to a fair trial? A court martial? Something?
Levy: I’ve never been big on the American judicial system. I’ve always been more a fan of jungle law.
Bisch: I don’t think that’s a thing.
Dung: (crying out) Is this the end of Haht Dung?
Riley: (guffaws) Oh, even in dire circumstances that is still funny.
Levy: Enough out of you. Men, fire on three. One. Two.
Hormel: Ah, crap.