EXT. NEAR THE SQUARE. DAY.
KIRK walks quietly into the Marine-Army recruiting storefront office. He looks to the back of the room and sees only SGT YORK. YORK is about 60 years old, a battle-hardened, retired Marine, in a camouflage outfit and black combat boots.
YORK is near the back door, talking to an unshaven homeless VETERAN his own age and dressed in a loose-fitting old khaki shirt, tattered jeans, battered shoes. The VET’s right arm is amputated. YORK is talking intently to him, offering him cash, with his arm around the VET’s shoulders. The VET is refusing. YORK stuffs the cash in the VET’s front shirt pocket, points his finger at him, warning. The VET salutes vaguely with his left arm, nods acceptance and shuffles out the back door. YORK stares after him, thinking, oblivious to KIRK’S entrance at the front door. Suddenly, TOMMY, 23, an army corporal, in dress uniform, enters the room from a doorway close to the front, where KIRK is standing inside.
Hey, why aren’t you guys out somewhere fighting?
Because we’re taking a short break.
They shake hands.
Well, Tommy, how’s St. Christopher’s toughest grad?
Hey, Kirk, we can toughen you up, too. (playfully punches Kirk’s stomach) Gonna follow me in?
Stranger things have happened. What are you guys paying for talent these days? (York comes forward and they shake hands.) Hello, Sergeant York.
YORK (York holds on to the handshake, looks Kirk in the eye.)
Kirk, you’re a young man. You don’t need to make money; you need to make history. Make money later, when you can’t do anything.
KIRK (looks at his released right hand mock-fearfully)
Wait a minute. That doesn’t mean I’m in yet, does it?
No, you gotta take the oath, Kirk, or come in here (taps Kirk on the chest) one, more, time.
I come in here sometimes ‘cause I like to see people who obviously have a purpose in life, and (adjusts Tommy’s already perfect necktie) who can dress sharp, when they want to. Actually, I wanted to be sure you’ll be at the Commencement.
Wouldn’t miss it. You’re the Valedictorian. Congratulations, Kirk.
Thanks, Tommy. Hey, Sergeant York, was that your friend who just left? I haven’t seen him before.
He served under me in Vietnam.
Did he lose his arm in the service?
He says he didn’t lose it; he gave it.
Meanwhile, at the back door, the Vet staggers back in, falls. Kirk sees it, though York and Tommy are distracted by Tommy’s knocking over a stack of papers onto the floor. As York and Tommy gather the papers up, Kirk rushes to the back door and helps the Vet to his feet. The Vet’s stump of an arm is around Kirk’s neck as Kirk helps him up. Kirk looks into the Vet’s red, drunken, haunted eyes. (CLOSE UP) Kirk eyes show his shock at being so close to the Vet’s suffering. Kirk falls to one knee as he loses his balance, but still holds onto the Vet. Then Kirk regains his balance and rises, supporting the Vet. The Vet’s arm is still around Kirk’s neck and Kirk’s arm around the Vet.
KIRK (helping him up)
Here, come on, Sir.
VET (groggy and resistant)
Uh, O.K. O.K. I don’t need any help.
YORK (takes over from Kirk)
I got him, Kirk. You better go on. I’ll see you later……..
Kirk backs up toward the front door, in shock. Tommy puts his hand on Kirk’s shoulder.
We’ll be at graduation, Kirk. Congratulations again.
Oh, uh.. yeah uh.. yeah. See ya.
(He walks to the door, raises his right hand in a vague wave goodbye, and exits, still distracted.