Screenplay

Story by Lorenzo DiSalvo

Synopsis of FROM NAM TO REDEMPTION (Contains spoilers)

In 1970, TONY NUCELLI, 19, trudged through dense humid jungles of Vietnam with his comrades, never knowing when shots would come out of nowhere, or booby traps would go off under their feet. The Viet Cong would use innocent looking children to hide grenades. Several of his friends died horrible deaths. Living under such intense, prolonged fear did bad things to their minds. One buddy cut off enemies’ ears, and wore them on a necklace.
One day Tony’s platoon was combing through a village, when he spotted a kid running towards them. When Tony saw the dirty naked boy clutching something in his hand, he didn’t have much time to react. He shot him dead. Examination of the emaciated body revealed he was only holding a rotten pear, probably the only thing he had to eat in days. Tony looked to heaven and cried, “What did I do?!”
After his tour, Tony comes back home to Rochester, New York at the age of 22 with Post Tramatic Stress Disorder. He constantly has flashbacks of his friend’s deaths, and recurring nightmares, where he wakes up with the sweats. He sees a psychiatrist at the Veterans Administration Hospital.
He kills the memories with alcohol. The only way he can get to sleep is by drinking himself into a stupor.
Tony calls his ex, who he still loves, from the bar, but she wants nothing to do with him. He gets into a fight, and hits the guy with a bottle. He looks down at him, and sees the kid’s face.
His drinking escalates. He opens a chop shop, and for a while is rolling in money. SAM PHILIP gets into debt to Tony for $10,000. Tony demands his money, but Sam keeps making excuses for not paying. After 3 months of getting the runaround, Tony gets so angry, he gets drunk, and goes to Sam’s house, and bangs on the door. “Where’s my money?”
“You’re not getting nothing.”
Tony grabs him, throws him down in the driveway, and punches him. The wife sticks her head out the window. “Stop it. I’ll call the cops, bastard.”
“Shut up bitch.” He punches Sam repeatedly in the face, then takes off, leaving him unconscious and bleeding.
The detectives catch up with him in a bar.
He gets out of jail, but Sam is in critical condition, and could die. Tony sweats bullets about going to prison for life. He goes to a bar, where he runs into an old Nam buddy, PHIL, who’s been sober for 10 years. He sees how bad Tony looks, and tells him he can help him, if he is willing.
Tony goes with him to an AA meeting. He’s quiet at first, but sees other vets there with stories similar to his. He starts going regularly, and decides to cut his drinking down to only at night.
Tony starts a construction business, but sometimes he curses out his employees so bad that they threaten to walk out.
At AA, he meets STELLA, a gentle, nice looking woman. They start a relationship, and fall in love.
She tolerates his mood swings for a while, but Tony’s periodic violent outbursts scare her, and she leaves him.
He cries out to God for help, and has a spiritual awakening. His compulsion to drink is gone.
Tony goes to Stella, and in an emotional appeal tells her he is a changed man. She takes him back.
Luckily Sam’s condition is upgraded to satisfactory. But Tony still faces 15 years for first degree assault. His lawyer wants $30,000 up front.
Tony goes to a cemetery and digs up a grave, and recovers a metal lock box he buried, back when he had the chop shop. It’s full of 100s. He pays the lawyer.
STELLA stays by his side during the tense trial. The judge announces the verdict–guilty. The sentence will be 5 years probation. Tony and Stella are so relieved, they embrace, crying tears of joy.

Lorenzo DiSalvo, Eat A Peach Films

IMG_20180312_140726

FROM NAM TO REDEMPTION

A Screenplay by Scott Talbot Evans

Story by Lorenzo DiSalvo

Copyright April 2, 2018 All Rights Reserved

Song credit: I Saw The Light by Hank Williams, 1947

FADE IN:
EXT. VIETNAM JUNGLE – NIGHT
Four young American soldiers walk through the hot and humid jungle. They must push through long hanging leaves, and step over dense thickets of branches. We hear the chirps of insects and birds, and their footsteps on the dried leaves. PHIL (18), the team leader, is tall and skinny. TONY (18) is 6 foot, average build, olive complexion. Private 1 (18) is very short. Private 2 (18) is very tall, fat, and powerful.
Tony carries his rifle at the ready. His eyes are wide open, scanning the surroundings for enemy soldiers. Phil runs up ahead, takes cover behind a tree, and gestures for the others to advance. Private 1 runs first, like a crazy man. Private 2 jogs forward steadily. Tony brings up the rear, swinging his weapon around nervously, in case an enemy is coming from behind.
Phil points to the woods and commands Tony.
PHIL
Buck sergeant. Secure the area.

TONY
Yes, staff sergeant.
Tony runs into the area sweeping his rifle back and forth.
Phil orders the others to spread out, and survey the surroundings.
Private 2 is startled by a rustle of leaves. He jerks his weapon to fire, but stops, only to be pointing his rifle at a little girl, only 6 six years old. He puts his weapon down. She smiles sweetly, and offers him a bouquet of wildflowers. He takes the flowers.
Phil sees this exchange from a distance.
PHIL
NOOOOO!!!!!!!
The girl playfully runs into the forest, just as the bouquet explodes. Private 2 is down. Private 1 runs to his aid. Phil and Tony follow. Tony takes out a medic kit.

PRIVATE 1
It’s too fucking late. Dumb bastard.
PHIL
I tried to warn him.

PRIVATE 1
Stupid country boy, wouldn’t listen to no one anyways.

Private 1 rolls the body over to see his face. It is blown off completely. Tony turns away to vomit. When finished, he drops his head in sadness.

TONY(Speaks in heavy New York City accent)
He was a good man. He had four kids

PRIVATE 1
Those kids is orphans now.
Private 1 pulls out his buck knife.
PRIVATE 1
If I ever catch that little bitch, my necklace is gonna have two more little charms on it.

EXT. VIETNAM VILLAGE — DAY
Phil, Tony, and Private 1 are walking through the local market of fish and vegetable merchants.
Private 1 stops at a cart with melons.
PRIVATE 1
Hey look at this. Them’s watermelons.

PHIL
I’ve never seen any water melons look like that.

PRIVATE 1
Sure they are. You can’t fool a country boy. I can smell a water melon from 500 yards.
Private 1 takes out some money, and bargains with the seller.
PRIVATE 1
I’ll give you two.
He takes his melon.
PRIVATE 1
Woo hoo! I can’t remember the last time I tasted watermelon!

Tony, who is always keeping one eye out for the enemy, spot a dirty and naked 8 year old boy running toward them.
PRIVATE 1
(yells)
Noooo!
Tony notices the boy is clutching something in his hand. The image of Private 2’s mutilated head flashes through his mind, and he reflexively, in an instant, shoots the fast approaching child dead.
PRIVATE 1
Oh fuck, that was close.
Private 1 runs up to the body.
PRIVATE 1
You got him right in the sternum. (Laughs) Nice shot bro.
Tony slowly goes over to the body. He is as skinny as a skeleton. Tony uses the butt of his gun to move the hand, to see what was in it. A rotted pear rolls on the ground. Tony walks away and cries to heaven.

TONY
I murdered an innocent child!
Private 1 bends over the dead body. He cuts the boy’s ear off, and strings it onto his necklace, where he already has five other ear souvenirs.
Tony is distraught.
Private 1 cuts off the boy’s other ear, and gives it to Tony.
PRIVATE 1(warmly)
This is for you. You earned it.
Tony takes it hesitantly.
TONY(softly)
Thanks.
Phil puts his hand on his shoulder.
PHIL
Don’t regret what you did for one second. You had to do it. It was us or him.
Tony looks at the little ear in his hand with an unhappy look on his face.
FADE TO BLACK

EXT. VIETNAM — DAY, months later
After months of combat, all traces of Tony’s humanity is gone. He appears just as ragged looking and crazy as Private 1. His own necklace of ears has 17 charms on it. He is covered in mud. His clothes are torn beyond recognition. They laugh together, more like wild animals than men, uncontrollably at times. Dance around the fire with their buck knives in their mouths.

INT. MOBILE ARMY SURGICAL HOSPITAL —
Doctor sees Tony’s condition, and discharges him for battle fatigue.

EXT. ARMY BASE
TONY
The doctor said I have battle fatigue.
Private 1 slaps him on the back.
PRIVATE 1
Congratulations son. You’re going home.

INT. AIRPLANE CABIN — DAY
Tony (21) is on his way home, sitting on the plane. He is cleaned up, shaved, and in his dress military uniform.

FLIGHT ATTENDANT
Welcome home soldier.

INT. AIRPORT — DAY
Tony gets off plane. No one is there to greet him. A lot has changed in Rochester, NY. Gone is the vibrant downtown area with movie theatres and department stores, that he grew up with. Stores are vacant, and poverty and drugs is a blight on the city.

He gets a decent furnished room with shower.

EXT. STREETS OF ROCHESTER — DAY
Tony goes up to a house, and knocks on the door. A kid answers.
TONY
Is Sal here?
The kid gets his mom.
TONY
I’m looking for Salvatore Nucelli.

MOM
No one lives here by that name.

TONY
But he’s lived here for 50 years.

MOM
I’m sorry.

TONY
Did he leave a forwarding address?

Mom shakes her head no. Tony leaves, dismayed.
TONY
I hope he isn’t dead.

Tony does some searching and is able to track him down to a nursing home.
INT. NURSING HOME — DAY
Tony visits his uncle in the nursing home. He is 90 years old, in a wheelchair, and wearing a Korea Vet baseball cap.
TONY
Sal, it’s good to see you.

SAL
Tony. How are you?

TONY
I’m doing okay. How about you? I went to your house.

SAL
I lost the house two years ago. After my heart attack, I needed to go into nursing care.

TONY
But what about Bobby and Tina?
Couldn’t they take care of the house?

SAL
Bobby lives in San Diego. Tina is in Texas. It’s good to see you Tony. How long has it been?

TONY
Since I shipped out to Nam.

SAL
That’s right. You served your country. You’re a good man. (Sighs) Yeah, all the family is gone now. Bobby has two sons, and Tina has three.

INT. TONY’S ROOM — DAY
Tony sets up his place, which isn’t much, just the contents of his duffel bags. He sits on the bed and pulls out his wallet. In it is an old picture of himself with his arm around an attractive woman. They are both laughing and seem very happy together. The picture was taken before the war. Tony looks so much younger and more innocent. He turns it over, and on the back is a phone number. He dials.

CINDY
Peace.

TONY
Hello?

CINDY
Hello? Who is this?

TONY
This is Tony.

CINDY
Tony?

TONY
Tony Nucelli.

CINDY
Oh, hey Tony. How are you? I haven’t seen you since . . .

TONY
Since I shipped out to Nam.

CINDY
Right. Right. So what’s happening man?

TONY
I’m back in Rochester.
CINDY
That’s great, man. We should get together sometime.

TONY
How about right now?

CINDY
Now? Okay. That’s cool. Look Tony. Just so you know. I have an old man now.

Tony is disappointed to hear that.
TONY
Yeah, that’s okay. I didn’t expect you to wait for me. I just want to see you, and relive some old times.

CINDY
Sure. Okay.
CUT TO:
EXT. CINDY’S HOUSE — DAY
She lives in a hippie commune. The huts are constructed out of straw and cardboard, decorated with crude paintings of flowers, and peace signs. Everyone has very long, uncombed hair and beards, and wears dirty ripped blue jeans, and hippy clothes. Tony walks up to the house in his uniform.
A hippy dude (30) with full beard is sitting cross legged, playing the bongos, next to the front entrance. He spots Tony.
DUDE
Look out. It’s the pigs.

HIPPY GIRL (20)
What do you want man? To hassle us?

TONY
Take it easy. I’m not the cops. I’m just here to see Cindy.

DUDE
What do you want with Cindy?

TONY
We’re old friends.

Cindy (21) comes out in bare feet. She has unkempt long blond hair with daisies in it. She sees Tony in his uniform, and her expression shows that she is put off by it.
CINDY
Hey Tony. I see you’re working for the man now.

TONY
I served my country. Is there anything wrong with that?

CINDY
Look. We don’t want any trouble.

TONY
Nobody’s giving you any trouble. I just wanted to visit my old girlfriend.

CINDY
I told you. I’m not your girlfriend anymore. Things have changed.

TONY
I can see that. Geez Cindy. You’re really into this peace and love thing aren’t you?

CINDY
Look Tony. I thinks it’s best if you just go.

TONY
Go? But I just got here.

DUDE
We don’t want any war criminals here harshing our vibe, man.

TONY
War criminal?

HIPPY GIRL
How many villagers did you napalm, murderer?

Tony’s feelings are hurt.
CINDY
Get out of here, murderer!
Tony goes away, very sad.
EXT. STREETS OF ROCHESTER — DAY
Tony goes out, dressed in civilian clothes, clean and casual, looking for a job. He wears his straight black hair average length. He applies several places, but doesn’t have any luck.

EXT. REPAIR GARAGE
Tony applies for a job as an auto mechanic. While filling out the application, an air compressor makes a loud noise, and Tony jumps out of his chair, and lands on the floor in a panic. He doesn’t get the job.

EXT. OTHER GARAGES
Tony applies at several place, but no one wants to hire him because he appears nervous and fidgety.

EXT. DINER — DAY
Tony sees a sign in window “Dishwasher Needed Immediately” He goes in.
INT. DINER — DAY
The diner is small. There are a few scattered customers. A woman, 60, heavy set wearing a pink waitress uniform, seems to be working by herself.
TONY
I’d like to apply for the dishwasher job.

WAITRESS
Got any experience?

TONY
I need experience to wash dishes?
She looks at him sternly.

TONY
I’ve got 3 years experience killing the enemy in Vietnam.

She shakes her head.
WAITRESS
I’m sorry, honey. That’s not the kind of experience we’re looking for here.

TONY
As long as no Viet Cong come in this diner, you don’t have anything to worry about.

WAITRESS
The position is already filled.

Tony stomps his foot in anger, and starts to walk out, when one of the customers (50) sitting a booth speaks.
FRANK
Hey soldier boy.
He waves Tony over. Tony sits down with him.
FRANK
I heard what happened. Don’t let it bother you kid. A lot of people got a bad attitude about that war.

TONY
I served my country.

FRANK
I know you did. I served too.

TONY
You were in Nam?

FRANK
No man. I was in Korea.

TONY
Korea?

FRANK
Yeah. Same shit, different day. Look kid, I can get you a job. You ever do construction work?

TONY
Sure. I can do constuction all day long.

Frank writes something on a piece of paper and gives it to him.

FRANK
Show up at this address tomorrow at 7am. Wear work clothes, and heavy work boots. We’ll put you to work.

TONY
Thanks Frank.

EXT. CONSTRUCTION SITE
Tony is a hard worker on a large construction site. He digs foundations. Sweats a lot. Carries bags of cement.
Tony is carrying a bundle of two-by-fours, when someone starts up a jackhammer. Tony thinks he’s back in the jungle, being shot at by machine gun fire. He dives for cover, dropping the lumber every which way. Hundred of men on the crew are looking at him.

FRANK
You got to get it together man. The boss was talking about letting you go. If it wasn’t for me, he would have done it.
TONY
Don’t worry. I can hold it together.
Tony waits for him to leave, then sneaks a hidden flask out of his pocket and takes a swig.

EXT. CONSTRUCTION SITE — DAY
Tony shows up for work, a little tipsy. He is hammering nails, but can hardly hit the nail. The foreman comes up and watches him.

TONY
Good morning beautiful.

FOREMAN (50)
That’s it. You’re fired.
He throws a hundred dollar bill at him.
FOREMAN
There’s your severance pay. at’s it. You’re done.

INT. BAR — DAY
Tony drinks.
TONY
Now what the fuck am I supposed to do?
Takes a shot.
TONY
I can’t hold a job.
Drinks.

Some guy (40) at the bar, bigger than Tony comes over.
GUY
What’s wrong buddy?

TONY
I lost my job today?

GUY
That’s too bad.
Guy sips his beer.
TONY
I might as well become a drunk. There’s nothing else for me to do.
They drink.
TONY
Nobody wants to hire a murderer.

Guy looks at him funny.
GUY
Murderer?

TONY
I’m just back from Nam.

GUY
Nam? Holy shit. So how many guys did you kill.

By now Tony is sloshed. He pulls out his ear necklace and puts it on.

GUY
Holy fuck! I never seen anything so fucked up in my life!

They keep drinking.

GUY
Dude that is fucked up. You know what? You’re fucked up in the head.

TONY
He fuck you. If you saw what I saw, you’d be fucked up too.

GUY
Get away from me man, you’re sick.

TONY
It’s guys like me that defended this country.

GUY
You’re fucked up in the head, man.
He pushes Tony.
Tony uses his army training to block it. Instinctively he punches him in the throat. The guy is stunned and gets up holding his throat. Tony takes a bottle off the bar, and smashes the guy on the side of the head. He goes down. Tony stands over him, holding the bottle. He looks at the guy’s face, but sees, not the guy, but the face of the Vietnamese boy he killed.
TONY
He’s right. I am fucked up in the head.

EXT. VETERAN’S ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL — DAY
Tony wears his straight black hair average length. He sits across the desk from a psychiatrist. The doctor (27) is a petite blonde woman who looks young enough to be in college.
DOCTOR
So, Tony, tell me a little about why you are here.

TONY
I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. Every time I hear a loud noise, I think I’m back in Nam. My girlfriend wants nothing to do with me. No one will hire. I wish I was dead, and my only friend is Jack Daniels. I guess that about covers it.

DOCTOR
Okay. I see.
She starts to write.
DOCTOR
I’m writing you a prescription for Tragedumizine. I want you to take 6 of these pills each morning.
Tony takes it and looks at it.
TONY
Okay. And what is this supposed to do?

DOCTOR
It should help you sleep. And relax a little. Hopefully it should help with the flashbacks.

TONY
If you say so.

INT. BAR — DAY
Tony is sitting at the bar with a double of whiskey in one hand, and a bottle of pills in the other.
TONY
Wish in one hand, and shit in the other.
Takes a swig.
TONY
Might as well spend my life drinking. What else is there to do? Nobody will hire me.

Guy (35) sitting at the bar, a few stools down is a short skinny guy with a beat up leather jacket.
PETE
I know how you can make some money.

Tony drinks a swig.
TONY
How?

PETE
How particular are you about what kind of work you do?

Tony drinks.
TONY
I guess money is money, right?
Pete nods.
TONY
Do you have any problem with hiring a veteran?
Pete shakes his head no, and finishes his drink.
TONY
So what do I have to do?

PETE
Come with me.
Tony finishes drink.

EXT. STREET — DAY
Pete leads Tony along the sidewalk past a line of parked cars. Pete looks at each one. When they come to a red Camaro, Pete puts his hand on the driver’s door.
TONY
Nice wheels. I didn’t know you drive a Camaro.
Pete looks around, then opens the door quickly, and jumps in.
PETE
Get in.
Tony gets in. He shakes his head, impressed by the nice car.
Peter sticks a long strip of metal in the key hole.

TONY
Hey, what are you doing?

PETE
What does it look like?

TONY
Oh shit. I didn’t sign up for this.

PETE
If you don’t like it you can walk.
Tony puts his hand on the door handle, and thinks about leaving.
A guy across the street yells loud.
GUY
Hey!, What the fuck! That’s my car!
The guy is in his front yard drinking with his four huge friends (30s).

PETE
Holy shit!

TONY
Let’s get the fuck outta here!
The five guys are running toward the car.

END OF EXCERPT

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