EVE: I guess it started back home. Wisconsin, that is. It was just Mom and Dad and me. I was an only child. Used to make believe a lot. When I was a kid. Acted out all sorts of things. What they were isn’t important. But somehow acting, and make believe, began to fill up my life more and more. It got so I couldn’t tell the real from the unreal. Except that, the unreal seemed more real to me - (Glances around at her rapt audience) I’m talking a lot of gibberish, aren’t I? Farmers were poor in those days. That’s what Dad was, a farmer. I had to help out; so I quit school, went to Milwaukee. Became a secretary – in a brewery. When you’re a secretary in a
brewery, it’s pretty hard to make believe you’re anything else. Everything is beer. It wasn’t much fun, but it helped at home, and there was a little theatre group there. Like a drop of rain on a desert. That’s where I met Eddie. He was a radio technician. We played “Lilliom” for three performances. I was awful. Then the war came, and we got married. Eddie was in the Air Force. They sent him to the South Pacific. You were with the O.W.I., weren’t you, Mr. Richards? (Lloyd nods) That’s what “Who’s Who” said. Well, with Eddie gone, my life went back to beer. Except for a letter a week. One week he wrote me he had leave coming up. I saved my money, and
vacation time, and went out to San Francisco to meet him. But Eddie wasn’t there. They forwarded the telegram from Milwaukee. The one from Washington, to say that Eddie wasn’t coming at all. That Eddie was dead. I figured I’d stay in San Francisco. I was alone. I couldn’t go back without Eddie. I found a job, and his insurance helped. And there were theatres in San Francisco. And then one night, Margo Channing came to play in “Remembrance,” and I went to see it. Well, here I am.
Paula was a Cuban insurrecto. Guerilla, fighting the Spanish just like we was. That’s where we met. On the battlefield. That was our wedding bed. Till the day… We came out of the jungle and there it was – San Juan Hill. Spanish guns looking right down out throat, and sharpshooters picking us off. We just charged right up that hill. (Clayton starts to leave, then turns back) That’s not the way it happened at all. It wasn’t anything like it was in San Antone, where we did our training. That’s where I met Luke – and a lot of other men, from every other country, wanting to be Rough Riders. Bakers and barbers, and congressmen and cattlemen, ballplayers, farmers, reporters – and cowboys. (Pause) We didn’t rush right up that hill, ‘cause we didn’t have any horses. We didn’t charge up there, neither. We crawled up there, on our scared bellies. (Pause) There was only one horse and one rider – that was Colonel Teddy! He went charging up that damn hill, and they shot his glasses off, and he put on another pair. Then they nipped him in the elbow and he said, “Follow me!” And we did – ‘cause we were too damned ashamed not to. (Pause) After the hill came the church. There was a French 75 out front. And every window had a rifle sticking out of it, and there was a Gatling Gun in the bell tower. We could have called in the artillery boys to blow it all to pieces, but – outside along the walls they’d tied all these people up, and they roped them together, hogtied them. Looked like a bunch of sandbags. Women and children, nuns and prisoners, and – my Paula among them. Neither me, nor Luke, nor anyone else knew what to do. (Pause) But inside the church, they knew what to do. They opened up on us and we fell back. (Pause) Then of a sudden, I heard Paula scream out, “Assaulto, Cubados! Assaulto! Assaulto!” Then a Spanish bullet – (Pause) Then the rest of the women, they took up the cry. “Attack, Cubans! Attack!
Attack!” Their own band of guerillas led the way. (Pause) The people some people marry. (Pause) I wasn’t worth her spit.
CHARLIE: Before the war, I was an assistant night manager of a diplomatic hotel in Washington, D.C. It was my job as assistant night manager to “arrange” things for many
of the great historical figures who came to Washington on great historical missions. Usually, I arranged girls, but individual tastes varied, of course. Well, it’s useful work, anyway. Especially in a war. I was offered all sorts of commissions in the Army and Navy. The one I have now, in fact. Admiral Jessup phoned me up to join his staff. But, I’d always been a little embarrassed by my job at the hotel and I wanted to do something redeeming. Have you noticed that war is the only chance a man gets to do
something redeeming? That’s why war is so attractive. At any rate, I turned down Admiral Jessup’s offer and I enlisted in the Marines as a private. I even applied for combat service. My wife, to all appearances a perfectly sensible woman, encouraged me in this idiotic decision. Seven months later I found myself invading the Solomon Islands. There I was, splashing away in the shoals of Guadalcanal. It suddenly occurred to me that a man could get killed doing this kind of thing. The fact is, most of the men splashing along with me were screaming in agony and dying like flies. Those were brave men dying there. In peacetime, they’d been normal decent cowards; frightened of their wives, trembling before their bosses, terrified of the passing of the years. But war had made them gallant. They had been greedy men, now they were self-sacrificing. They had been selfish; now they were generous. War isn’t hell at all! Man at his best! The highest morality he’s capable of! That night, I sat in the jungles of Guadalcanal waiting to be killed, sopping wet. It was
then I had my blinding revelation. I discovered I was a coward. That’s my new religion. I’m a big believer in it! Cowardice will save the world. It’s not war that’s insane, you see.
It’s the morality of it. It’s not greed and ambition that makes wars. It’s goodness! Wars are always fought for the best reasons – for liberation, Manifest Destiny. Always against
tyranny and always in the interests of humanity. So far, this war, we’ve managed to butcher some ten million humans in the interest of humanity. Next war it seems we’ll
have to destroy all of man in order to preserve his damn dignity. It’s not war that’s unnatural to us, it’s virtue. As long as valor remains a virtue, we shall have soldiers. So, I
preach cowardice. Through cowardice we shall all be saved.