Friday, April 30, 2004

We're Americans

A timely sketch. This ain't exactly funny. But here it is anyway ...

TITLE: 1944


The detention center is a reconditioned Victorian prison, ugly but functional. An unsmiling MARINE is leading a shuffling line of German POWs down a metal-grated catwalk on the second floor. The POWs aren’t permanent guests. After brisk initial processing and paperwork, they’re continually rotated out to POW camps in the USA.

One prisoner looks particularly nervous. HORST.

MARINE: Hands on the rail, numbnuts! Hands on the rail!

HORST realizes the MARINE is talking to him.

HORST: Hands … Vas …?

Another prisoner translates.

KARL: Hände auf der Schiene.

HORST: Ah. Der Shiene!

HORST gingerly holds the rail. But he still looks worried.

HORST: (whispering to KARL) Vas est … “numbnuts” …?

KARL: Betäubte Testikel.

HORST: Testikel? Mein testikel?

HORST reflexively grabs his balls and pitches forward on his face down the metal stairs. The POWs laugh. It’s the first entertainment they’ve had in weeks.

MARINE: Jesus, stop laughing , you stupid Krauts! (slaps the nearest POW – they stop laughing) Sadistic Nazi bastards. I’m trying to help you here – and I don’t even like you! (looks over the rail.) Aw, crap. (blows whistle) Medic! We need a medic here!

View of HORST, up-angle of his slack face, open mouth. He’s unconscious. Extremely foreshortened, there’s a large white pill a few inches away from his mouth.


HORST slowly wakes up in bed. His arms and legs are in casts and hoisted up with pulleys. He comes back to consciousness—and panics. He jerks from side to side, trying to reach an arm to his mouth. Can’t. Works his tongue around the inside of his teeth. Nothing.

The following dialogue is in German with subtitles --

OSS OFFICER: Looking for this?

He holds up the pill. HORST sees it and panics.

HORST: No, no …

OSS OFFICER: Calm down, OK?

HORST: I want …

OSS OFFICER: What do you want?

HORST: I want to be a good German.

He starts crying.

OSS OFFICER: That’s great. Good German. Good Nazi. You ask me, they’re two different things.

HORST: I want to be a good soldier!

OSS OFFICER: Good soldier, dead soldier. Again that’s two different …

HORST: (shouting) My name is Horst …

OSS OFFICER: Yeah, yeah. Name, rank and serial number. We know all that crap. Save it.

HORST starts weeping again.

OSS OFFICER: Stop blubbering!

HORST: I hate pain. I can’t take pain.

OSS OFFICER: That’s why it’s pain, stupid. If it felt good, you’d put your hands on hot stoves and shit.

HORST: P-please don’t torture me.

OSS OFFICER: Oh, please? Your mommy taught you manners?

HORST: Please!

OSS OFFICER: Pretty please with sugar on top?

HORST: Yes! With sugar!

OSS OFFICER: Jesus, Horst. I’m sick of this conversation, let me tell you.

Pinches his cheek like a proud grandparent. HORST screams.

OSS OFFICER: Coochy-coochy-coo.

HORST: Agghhhhhhh!

Lets him go.

OSS OFFICER: We’re not going to torture you, stupid. (gets in his face) We’re Americans. We don’t do that.