Jacob’s Ladder (1990) – Transcript

Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam War veteran attempts to uncover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusions, and perceptions of death.
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Jacob's Ladder (1990 film)

Synopsis

Helicopters in Nam. We are at the Mekong Delta, 1971. Suddenly, all the soldiers have splitting headaches and go wild. They are attacked. Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) doesn’t even move; he just stares at the mess and cruelty of war. He survives but has to run away on his own. He is wounded.

He wakes up alone at a dirty subway car. He fell asleep while reading a book. He goes to another compartment where there is an old woman (Antonia Rey) and inquires if they have passed Bergen Street, but she doesn’t understand him. There’s a tramp sleeping there. He thinks he sees something like a tail. He leaves the train at his station but the doors are locked and chained. The exit is at the other side of the railway, he is alone in the station. He splashes into a pool of water; lights are flickering, another train is approaching menacingly – and he thinks he sees faceless people staring at him from the windows, one of them waving him goodbye.

It’s a sad, downtrodden New York neighborhood he lives in. Finally, he gets home to Jezzie (Elizabeth Peña), who was worried about him being so late. He has a shower and Jezzie showers with him.

In Nam, he is crawling in the jungle. He notices a spiderweb. He wakes up in the morning, after having made love to Jezzie. They stare at some old photographs: one of them is Sarah’s (Patricia Kalember). There is also a picture of Jacob’s dead son, Gabe (Macaulay Culkin) which makes him cry. Jezzie offers some consolation, but she wants to destroy the photographs because they make Jacob cry. Later on, she throws the photographs into an incinerator, except for the one Jacob keeps in his wallet of his late son.

Jacob driving while singing. He’s a postman now. He flirts at work and goes for a massage to Louis (Danny Aiello), who feels that Jacob is terribly tense today. He comes back to the moment he was found in Nam. Jacob feels so relaxed, suddenly, and Louis looks like an angel to him.

Walking down the street in his uniform, a group of young women (Kisha Skinner & Dion Simmons) sing to him Hey, Mr Postman. A car tries to run him over, with the same blurry faces as on the train. He goes to Doctor Carlson’s. The reception nurse (Suzanne Shepherd) says that there is no such doctor and never was. She suggests he sees a psychiatric doctor. Jacob bangs on the table, breaking a flower vase. When the nurse picks it up, he notices she’s got a weird dead thing on her head. Jacob runs away and is followed by a security guard. He interrupts a group meeting. He says he’s waiting for Dr Carlson. The new doctor (Doug Barron) says that Dr Carlson died in a car accident a month ago, it just “blew up”.

Jezzie thinks he’s exaggerating. She touches his back.

He is in a house party dancing to Lady Marmalade . A woman wants to read his future. She says that according to his palms, he’s already dead. He dances with Jezzie, one of the party-goers, but feels the need to go. He notices a young man staring at him and several birds flying around. He stumbles and his glasses fall after seeing the man become a dizzy faceless man. He sees one of the party-goers strip down and a weird lizard tail hurting and killing her. The party stops because he panics and faints.

He remembers about Nam. Jezzie tells him off because she felt mortified at the party. Jacob has a temperature, so Jezzie calls a doctor. She prepares a bath with ice so that the fever goes down. She calls for the help of her neighbors to ask for more ice. Mrs Carmichael (Gloria Irizarry) brought a bag full of ice. Some of them put them in the freezing water and he screams in pain.

Back in bed, he thinks that he’s with Sarah, and that his son enters his bedroom to complain of the cold. They talk father-to-son. It looks like he’s been hallucinating. He wakes up dazed and confused, with Jezzie and a dog looking at him. He closes his reddened eyes, and remembers a helicopter picking him up.

Jacob sees pictures in a book of torture and hell. Jezzie screams at him “Anybody home?”, and he interprets it as her being a demon, so he pushes her away. She leaves, wishing he was dead. At that moment the phone rings; it’s Paul Flanagan (Pruitt Taylor Vince).

They meet at a bar. Paul thinks that he’s being followed, and is scared to death. They start wondering what they did to them that night in Nam which they can’t remember. Somebody is looking at them. They are going out of the bar together. Jacob stops to pick up a penny saying “my lucky day”. Paul starts his car and smiles: it blows up, killing him instantly. The man who was staring at them tries to help Jacob, but then he leaves before Jacob has time to assimilate everything. For a second, Jacob remembers how the pilot got shot and blood spilled everywhere.

It’s Paul’s funeral: it’s raining, and everybody is carrying an umbrella. Frank (Eriq La Salle) trembles. George (Ving Rhames) spills his bottle. Jacob says to his friends that everything is too suspicious. Jacob and his 5 friends contact a lawyer, Geary (Jason Alexander) to sue the military department. He says it’ll be expensive as hell while munching some crappy food. Somebody watches them leaving the office.

Later, Jezzie tells Jacob that the lawyer is not taking his case as his friends have all backed down. Frank says that he’s backed down because of having been threatened. Jacob insists that Geary take his case. He says that he’s just checked his background and he and his friends were left out of the army draws on psychological grounds.

Some guys kidnap Jacob in a car. They are official-looking men. A lady with a buggy sees that. Jacob hits the man and jumps out of the car, where a man dressed as Santa Claus (Jan Saint) stares at them. He’s begging for money and he steals Jacob’s wallet.

Jacob is admitted to hospital. A young police officer (Raymond Anthony Thomas) has found him. A nurse (Bellina Logan) tells him that they will do for him everything they can. The resident doctor (Scott Cohen) looks as though he’s having fun. Jacob starts seeing a broken bike, and weird demented people all over him. He passes through some butcher’s place with human parts all over the place, and watches a faceless man (Alva Williams) trembling again.

An evil doctor (Davidson Thomson) is getting ready to operate on him and tells him that he’s dead. Jezzie is a nurse there. He insists he’s alive and sane. An eyeless doctor (Ed Jupp Jr.) punctures his forehead with a needle and reaches his brain.

Sarah and two children visit him in hospital. Jacob insists he’s alive. A voice says “Dream on”, and Jacob panics again. His doctor tries to take him out of hospital. He’s heavily bandaged. The nurses and paramedics cannot stop them. Louis gives him a massage: Jacob says that he was in hell. Louis’s treatment is rough and painful, but he says that now, Jacob is well.

Jacob checks on his honorable discharge documents. He also sees a drawing made by Gabe. He was playing with his bike, and started to pick up his baseball cards from the road. A car ran over him. He thinks he sees him at home but sees a blurry man again. He caresses his temples.

Jezzie enters with some groceries. She asks where he’s been, as he’s been away for two days. She looks very concerned. She called every hospital in the city, but he was nowhere. The phone rings, and Jacob tells her not to pick it up. She picks up and says she hasn’t seen him all night. Jacob picks the phone up when she asks “what experiment?”. Jezzie looks terrified and asks him not to go. He hugs her, says “sorry and leaves. The voice tells him to make sure he’s not being followed.

Michael Newman (Matt Craven) has been following him for some time, as he was one of the survivors. He claims to have been a chemist who used to work for the Army’s chemical warfare division in Saigon. They had invented a new drug called “The Ladder”. It was designed to increase aggression, bringing soldiers’ most primal urges to light in such a way that the conscious mind could not repress them. The ladder was first tested on monkeys and then on a group of captured enemy combatants, with gruesome results. It was deemed that the drug had created the effect wanted by the army officers, so the next step was to give small doses of the drug to the soldiers in Jacob’s battalion in secret. Here it was when all hell turned loose, as each private attacked his fellow soldiers. The result was a carnage, so one of his fellow soldiers was responsible for wounding Jacob, not the enemy.

Jacob leaves and takes a taxi. Jacob gives the taxi driver (Sam Coppola) all his money and tells him to take him home. The driver asks where his home is. Jacob finally remembers the moment when he was wounded, and it was somebody from his platoon.

The Doorman (Thomas A. Carlin) greets Jacob as “Doctor Singer”, saying that it’s a long time since they have seen each other. They shake hands.

He is alone at home; he sits in the dark and reminiscences about playing with Gabe. He sees Gabe. Jacob and his son hug each other. Gabe takes him by the hand upstairs, into the shining light.

Newman is in Nam: he says that Jacob is gone. He and another doctor (Jaime Perry) leave his body behind carelessly.

Fade to black.

Some captions say that “It was reported that the hallucinogenic drug BZ was used in experiments on soldiers during the Vietnam war. The Pentagon denied the story.”

End credits.

Photographs of Jacob and Gabe walking together, from behind.


Transcript

Uh, Charlie-Fox, Charlie-Fox-6,

Roger, be advised…

We’ll have re-supplies down by chopper. Over.

Strong shit, man.

Where the fuck are the God damn gooks already?

I don’t think they’re even out there.

Jesus, this shit’s something else.

Hey, Professor, how many times

can you shit in an hour?

Professor got beaucoup shits, man.

Why do you even bother pulling them up?

You jerking off again, huh, Jake?

Come over here and jerk on this.

Come choke my black root.

Please?

He’s asking politely.

Ain’t got a fucking tweezer, man.

Oh, ho! Yeah!

Shit! We got movement in the tree line.

Shit!

Movement in the tree line!

1, 3, 2, 0!

Fuck, something’s wrong.

What the fuck’s wrong with you?

Motherfuck.

It’s my head.

Help me!

Get up!

Paul, help me!

Get up!

Help me!

What the fuck’s wrong with you? Get up!

Medic!

Medic! Stop it!

Aah!

Medic, we need you here!

Come on, man.

Stop it!

Aah!

Medic!

1, 2, 3, 0!

Fire!

Aah!

My arm! My arm!

Aw, fuck!

Aah!

Oh, God.

Fucking shit!

Excuse me.

Uh…

Do you know if we’ve passed Bergen Street yet?

Bergen?

Um, I fell asleep.

Um, all right. Ok.

Fuck.

Shit.

Hey, Chester.

Go back to sleep.

Get insomnia again?

Jake, is that you?

Did you move all the furniture?

I just moved the chair, that’s all.

That help?

Yeah, thanks.

So what do you think?

About what?

The room.

Ask me tomorrow.

It is tomorrow.

How come you’re so late?

Bud Nash didn’t show up again.

Called in sick.

He’s always sick.

So I worked.

Got some overtime.

What happened to your pants?

Don’t ask.

You look terrible.

Thanks.

Help me.

Help me.

Oh, fuck.

You’re up?

Oh, fuck.

What’s that?

Your kid dropped it off.

Who, Jed?

No, the little one.

Eli.

Why can’t you remember their names?

They’re weird names.

They’re biblical names.

They were prophets.

Well, personally,

I never went for church names.

What?

Where do you think Jezebel came from?

Nobody calls me that.

You’re such a heathen, Jezzie.

How’d I ever get involved

with such a fucking ninny?

You sold your soul, remember?

That’s what you told me.

Yeah? For what?

A good lay.

Look what I got…

The best.

The best.

So what’s in the bag?

Pictures.

Your wife was tossing them, so what’s-his-name dropped it over before school.

Eli.

Eli. Ee-lie.

These are great.

Yeah?

Look at this baby.

Aw, who’s that?

Isn’t that the cutest baby you’ve ever seen?

Little fat little thing.

That’s me.

That’s you? Let me see.

No, that’s all right. This fat little thing.

You don’t have to look.

Who’s this?

Sarah.

Sarah.

I can see what you mean.

What?

Why you left.

What do you mean?

Jake, she looks like a real bitch.

Well, she looked good then.

Not to me.

You didn’t marry her.

Hello, baby.

How you doing?

What’s wrong?

Is this the one who died

before you went to Vietnam?

Yeah, it’s Gabe.

Oh, God.

Sorry.

Took me by surprise.

I didn’t expect to see him today.

What are you doing? Stop it!

I don’t like things that make you cry.

I didn’t cry.

When there are gray skies

I don’t mind the gray skies

You’ll make them blue

Sonny boy

Hey, Donald.

In to get your check?

You one greedy motherfucker, man.

Don’t you know that?

Hi.

How’s it going?

Better now.

Yeah?

Mmm.

I’m going to go home.

What’s wrong?

Just one of those days.

My back’s killing me. I’ll go see Louie.

Not again. Your boss will kill you.

What can you do?

Well, I’ll miss riding home with you.

I was looking forward to it.

Easy. My back.

Come on, Jake, that didn’t hurt.

How do you know?

I know you.

How come you’re so tense today?

I don’t know. What can I tell you?

I saw Sarah the other day.

Oh, yeah?

Mm-hmm.

Her knee acting up?

A bit.

So what did she have to say?

Turn on your right side.

How about the other right?

I don’t understand you philosophers.

You got the world figured out,

But you can’t remember your left.

What did she say?

Not much.

She’s like you that way…

two clams.

No wonder your marriage didn’t last.

Put your hand on your hip.

Take a deep breath…

And let it out slowly,

slowly…

That’s good.

Now turn to your left.

Did she talk about the boys?

She said you’re a son of a bitch,

and she regrets the day she met you.

Thought she didn’t say much.

That’s all she said. Hand on your hip.

Take a breath.

Easy…

On your back.

I think she still loves you.

I don’t think so.

She doesn’t stop talking about you.

That’s love, Jake.

You should go back to her.

She threw me out, remember?

Your problem is you spent six years getting a Ph.D.

then went to work for the post office.

What can I tell you?

After ‘Nam, I didn’t want to think anymore.

Any other brain but yours, I’d agree.

Now relax…

Relax. This is going to be a little strong.

That a boy.

That a boy.

I found one.

I think he’s still alive.

Wh…

What did you…

What did you do to me?

I had to get in there.

It’s a deep adjustment.

Rest a moment.

Let it set a bit.

I had a weird flash.

What?

I don’t know.

I’ve been having them recently.

You know, you look like an angel, Louie.

Like an overgrown cherub.

Anyone ever tell you that?

Yeah.

You.

Every time I see you.

You’re a lifesaver, Louie.

I know.

Mr. Postman.

Mr. Postman.

Where’s your letters, baby?

Hey, Mr. Postman.

Where’s your bag?

Shake your thing.

Wait

Oh, yes, wait a minute, Mr. Postman

Wait, Mr. Postman

Please, Mr. Postman, look and see

whoa, yeah

if there’s a letter in your bag for me

I’ve been waitin’ for such a long time

whoa, yeah

Where you going?

We don’t remember the words. I’m sorry.

Look out!

Singer?

Please, Elizabeth, sit down.

I need to see Dr. Carlson, please.

Carlson?

Is he new here?

No, he’s been here for years.

Not according to my charts.

Do you have an appointment?

I need to see him.

I know where his room is.

Just give me a pass.

Our doctors are seen by appointment only.

Damn.

I was in the veterans’ outpatient program.

He knows me.

What was your name?

Singer. Jacob singer.

I’ve got a lot of work here.

Haven’t even had lunch yet.

I’m sorry, but, uh…

there’s no record of a Jacob Singer

in our files.

What do you mean, no record?

Shall I spell it out?

There is nothing there.

That’s ridiculous.

I’ve been coming here for years.

Listen to me. I’m… I’m…

I, uh…I need to see Dr. Carlson.

If it’s an emergency,

we have a staff of psychiatric social workers.

There’s an hour’s wait.

Would you just fill out this form, please?

I don’t want any social worker.

I want Dr. Carlson.

He knows me.

Hey! Come back here!

Hey!

Hey, come back here!

Hey!

Look out.

Get out of here.

Hey, come on!

Hold him.

He made it.

Can I help you?

Where’s Dr. Carlson?

Isn’t this his office?

Be just a minute.

Why don’t we step out in the hall?

It’s ok.

I’m so sorry.

Dr. Carlson died.

Died?

It was a car accident.

Oh, Jesus.

Oh, Jesus.

When?

Uh, about a month ago.

Just before Thanksgiving.

How’d it happen?

No one really knows.

They say it blew up.

Blew up?

What do you mean, blew up?

I really don’t know.

Is there anything I can do for you?

Do you…

Do you want me to get you someone?

No…

I’m ok.

Maybe it’s the pressure, Jake.

You know, the money.

Things like that.

Or your wife.

Why do you bring her up?

She’s always on your mind.

I never talk about her.

It has nothing to do with talking.

Maybe it’s the war.

You can’t spend two years in Vietnam

and expect…

Aw, jezzie, come on.

How does that explain barricaded subway stations

or these fucking creatures?

Creatures?

Jake, New York is filled with creatures,

and lots of stations are closed.

They’re like…

demons, Jezz.

Demons?

Jake, honey…

they’re winos and bag ladies.

Lowlife. That’s all they are.

The streets are crawling with them.

Don’t make them into something they’re not, hmm?

These guys were trying to kill me.

They were aiming at me.

Kids on a joy ride.

It happens all the time.

They were inhuman.

Oh, come on.

What were they, Jake?

You still love me?

What?

Do you love me?

Yeah.

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi…

Hey, where are you going?

Come with me.

Do you have a girlfriend?

Do you like her an awful lot?

Want a new girlfriend?

I live very close to here,

and I’m very lonely.

More

More

More

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir…

Hey.

Let me look at your hand.

No, thanks.

Go ahead, Jake. Let her.

She’s real good.

Come on.

It’s fun.

You left-handed or right-handed?

Um…right.

Give it to me.

Ok.

Mm-hmm. Married man.

Please.

Oh, no.

Oh, divorce.

I like that.

You see this here, that split?

Where?

Right here.

It’s a paper cut.

Ooh, and a sense of humor, too.

I love it.

Hey, Jake, Jake.

Come on, baby, dance with me just one, huh?

What, are you flirting?

Hi.

Let’s see, this is your heart line…

and your head line.

Huh?

And your life line.

You have a very strange line, hon.

No, it’s not funny.

See, according to this, you’re already dead.

You’re out of here, baby.

What can you do?

Just give me your blue eyes before you go, ok?

Wait, wait. Jake, come here.

Come on, come on, you can dance.

I don’t want to.

Come on, baby, shake it.

Come on, man, move those legs.

Move them size 13s.

Those are some big fucking feet. Shit.

Jesus, look at that.

His guts are hanging out.

You’ll have to push them back in.

I have never…

I have never been so mortified in my whole life.

Screaming like that.

I don’t understand what’s gotten into you, Jake.

You’re not acting normal.

There’s been too many crazies in my life.

I don’t want it anymore.

I’m tired of men flipping out on me.

If you go crazy,

You’re going crazy by yourself, you understand?

What’s it say?

Oh, my God. I’m calling the doctor.

What’s it say?

It’s gone to the top.

Great.

Dr. Forrest, I’m so sorry to bother you.

This is Jezzie Pipkin up on 14-G.

I just took Jake’s temperature,

and it says 106.

Could that be right?

Oh, my God.

Oh, my God.

Get out of bed.

I can’t. I’m freezing.

Jake, for Pete’s sake, get out of bed!

What did the doctor say?

That you’d die on the way to the hospital.

Come on, up, up.

Hold on, hold on.

You’re going to be ok, Jake.

What are you doing?

I need more ice.

I’m freezing!

What’s happening?

I need some ice. He’s running a 106 fever.

It’s an emergency… ice.

Thank you.

Come on, Sam.

Oh, my God.

Oh, Jake, oh, Jake, don’t you die on me.

Sam, help me!

Sam!

I’ll help.

Come on.

Be careful with him.

Hold on.

Come on. It’s for your own good.

Come on, Jake.

Come on, get him in there.

You’re going to be fine.

Hold him! Hold him!

It’s going to be ok.

Is he all right?

He doesn’t like this.

Help me!

Stop it!

Jake, don’t you die on me.

Stop it! You’re killing me!

Shit.

What was that?

I’m freezing.

I’m not cold.

Of course not. You have all the covers.

Must be 10 degrees in here.

I’m telling you, Sarah…

if you want fresh air,

you can sleep on the fire escape.

From now on, that window’s closed.

It’s not healthy when it’s closed.

Healthy? You call this healthy?

I’m going to die of pneumonia.

This is healthy?

What a dream I was having.

I was living with another woman.

You know who it was?

I don’t want to know.

Jezebel from the post office.

You remember her.

You met her at the Christmas Party that time.

I was living with her.

God, what a nightmare.

There were all these demons,

and I was on fire.

I was burning from ice.

Guilty thoughts.

See what happens when you cheat on me,

even in your mind?

She was really good in bed.

Go to sleep.

She had these great thighs.

Oh, I thought you said it was a nightmare.

It was.

It was a nightmare.

It was a terrible, terrible nightmare.

Daddy, what was that noise?

What are you doing up?

It’s cold.

Well, tell your mother.

Go back to bed, darling.

Will you tuck me in?

Who, her?

No. Daddy.

Shit.

Good night, sweetheart.

Oh, God. Come on.

Good night, darling.

Ok. Close your eyes.

I don’t mind the gray skies

You make the moon…

Blue?

Sonny boy

When I’m old and gray, dear

Promise you won’t stray, dear

I love you so

Sonny…

Boy

Dad?

Yeah, Jed?

You forgot my allowance.

Your allowance?

It’s 5:00 in the morning.

We’ll talk about it at breakfast.

All right, but don’t forget.

I love you, Dad.

What is this, a convention?

I love you too, Pickles.

Go back to sleep.

Wait.

Don’t go.

I’m not going anywhere.

I’m right here.

Close your eyes.

See you in the morning.

Don’t shut it.

Open it a bit more.

There?

A little bit more.

There?

Good.

I love you, Sarah.

Watch the head.

Move it!

Don’t think we got a fucking chance down here.

Declare an emergency. Over.

You’re a lucky guy, Jake.

You must have friends in high places.

Let’s get down to Orson.

I was going to vote for three, and I switched to two with some trepidation, because she said one over one, which means number one of an addition of one.

I think an artist would know that.

Jake?

You’re going to be all right, Jake.

Oh, you’re going to be fine.

Am I…

Am I home?

Yeah. You’re right here.

Home.

Doctor says you’re lucky your brains didn’t boil.

What a night, Jake, huh?

You were screaming and kicking… and you kept saying, “Sarah, close the window,” over and over.

And talking to your kids, even the dead one.

Weird, huh?

You know you melted 50 pounds of ice in 8 hours?

Am I dead?

Oh, no.

No. You’re right here.

Doctor says you got to rest.

You see, he says you have a virus.

That’s what they always say

when they don’t know what it is.

Now, you just lie here, ok?

You know, you really ought to get out today.

You can’t just sit around like this all the time.

It’s not healthy.

It’s not good for your mind.

Go take a walk or something.

Do something.

Go to a movie.

Go enjoy yourself.

One of us should be having a good time.

Anybody in there?

Anybody home?

Who are you?

Fuck you.

Two weeks of this shit!

I’ve had enough.

Go ahead and rot if you want.

Have a good fucking day.

Hello.

Jake?

Yeah?

It’s Paul. Paul Gruniger.

Paul Gruniger.

Paul.

Paul Gruniger. Jesus, how are you?

It’s been like five, six years.

Yeah. A long time.

So, what’s up?

Nothing much.

Yeah. Well, same here.

I need to see you, Jake.

I’d love to see you, man,

But I’ve been laid up. I’ve been sick.

I need to see you.

All right.

Something’s wrong, Jake.

I don’t know what it is,

but I can’t talk to anybody about it.

I mean, I figured I could talk to you.

You always used to listen,

you know.

I’m going to hell.

That’s as straight as I can put it.

And don’t tell me that I’m crazy

’cause I know I’m not.

They’re coming after me.

Who is?

They’ve been following me.

They’re coming out of the walls.

I can’t trust anybody.

But I got to talk to somebody.

I got to talk to somebody,

or I’m going to fly out of my fucking mind!

Mind your business.

I don’t know who they are

or what they are,

but they’re going to get me,

and I’m scared, Jake.

I’m so scared, I can’t do anything.

I can’t go to my sister’s.

I can’t even…

I can’t even go home.

I don’t know what to do.

Paul?

Shit.

Paul, I know what you’re talking about.

What do you mean?

I’ve seen them, too.

You’ve seen them?

I’ve seen them, too…

Everywhere, like a plague.

My God, I thought I was the only one.

Yeah, me, too.

I thought I was going out of my mind.

I know, I know.

Look, I carry these around everywhere with me,

but they don’t help.

Nothing helps.

What happened?

What happened that night?

What have they done to us?

I don’t know.

Profile.

Great. That’s it.

Give it to him.

My lucky day.

Be advised, we have heavy gunfire…

Mayday, mayday, mayday!

Five minutes to Da Nang.

No, no.

You have to be strong for your children.

Listen to what she’s saying.

Did anybody see the police report?

Sounds like a bomb to me.

The paper said it was electrical.

It was an accident.

That’s bullshit.

Someone’s covering something up.

That was no accident. It was set, man.

Why? Paul wasn’t hated by anybody in the world.

What about when you went out?

Did he say anything?

Well, he was upset.

He thought people were following him.

Yeah? Who?

He didn’t know…

Demons.

Demons? What the fuck you talking about, demons?

He thought he was going to hell.

Why did he say that?

What would make him say that?

I mean, that’s strange.

What else did he say, Jake?

He was scared.

He was seeing things

Coming out of the woodwork.

“They’re trying to get me,” he said.

Did he say what they were?

Excuse me.

In one end and out the other, huh, George?

Still a fucking spaz.

Hope he can hold his dick

better than he can his bottle.

What?

Something weird is going on here.

Paul isn’t the first one who’s died.

Remember Dr. Carlson over at Bellevue?

His car blew up, too.

Dr. Carlson’s dead?

Yeah. An explosion just like Paul’s.

We got six guys here going fucking crazy.

Well, not me, buddy.

Ok, but the rest of us are going crazy.

Think this has something to do with that night?

It’s got something to do with something.

We have to go see the Army.

They’re not telling us something.

Oh, come on, Professor.

What makes you think

the Army’s going to give you any answers?

You’ll be butting up against a brick wall.

We’ll get a lawyer.

You should find yourself a shrink.

You’re all fucking paranoid.

It was bad grass. That’s all it was, man.

There’s no such things as fucking demons.

Come on.

Carol, I’m going to need you with your pad

in about 15 minutes.

Well, I’m sorry,

Mr. Singer,

but you know how many people come to me

with the injustices of the world?

It would break your heart.

Mr. Geary, this is very important to us.

The Army did something to us,

and we’ve got to find out what.

The Army? Jeez, what’s with you guys?

This is not a walk to the library.

This is the U.S. government.

This is red tape coming out your ass.

You know what I mean?

That’s why we’re here.

Do you think you can help us?

What am I, Perry Mason?

All right. I’ll look into it.

You think we have a chance?

I need sworn depositions from all of you

and a list of platoon members

or their survivors.

This is great.

I’ll tell you one thing.

If we do find

that the military is implicated in this,

you all stand to make quite a bit of money.

Not that I can predict anything,

but class action suits of this kind

have been awarded fairly generous judgments.

That wouldn’t be so bad, would it?

We’re not in it for the money.

– That’s right. – Right.

All right, gentlemen,

who wants to go first?

I put a hungry man in the oven.

It will be ready at a quarter of.

Ok.

There’s a tossed salad in the fridge.

Ok. Thanks.

I got you some apple juice.

No, not Red Cheek.

Red Cheek.

Ah, shit.

Don’t drink it all.

All right.

Oh, your lawyer called.

When?

When you were in the shower.

You didn’t call me?

He didn’t give me a chance.

He hung up on me.

Look, Jake, don’t be upset, ok?

He’s not taking your case.

What? What do you mean?

He said you didn’t have one.

What’s he talking about?

I don’t know. He was very rude.

He said your friends backed out.

I don’t believe this.

Oh, baby, I feel terrible.

I’d stay, but I’m so late.

We’ll talk when I get home, ok?

Yeah.

Are you all right?

Yeah, I’m fine.

You sure?

Give me a kiss.

I’ll see you later.

Bye, sweetheart.

Hello?

Frank, hi. It’s Jake.

I just got a strange call from Geary.

He said the guys backed down.

What’s he talking about?

Uh…

Yeah, that’s right, Jake, we did.

Why?

I don’t know. It’s hard to explain.

Well, try.

You know, Jake, um…

War’s war.

Things happen.

Things happen?

What does that mean?

I thought we were going to do something, Frank.

There’s nothing to do, Jake.

Who’s been talking to you?

What’s going on, Frank?

I’ll call the others.

They’re not interested, Jake.

What do you mean?

They’re not interested.

We all talked about this.

We’re all suffering the same symptoms.

Listen, the Army’s hiding something from us.

We got to find out what it is.

Uh, Jake, I got to go.

No, no, no, wait. Hold on.

No, wait. Don’t hang up.

Jake, don’t call back anymore, ok?

Wait! I can’t do this by myself.

Frank?

Frank?

We’ll get them this afternoon.

Have a good lunch.

Geary.

Mr. Geary.

Excuse me.

Who’s been talking to you, huh?

The Army?

Have they been talking to you?

Nobody’s talking to nobody.

You don’t have a case.

Keep your hands off me.

Leave me alone.

You can’t walk away like this.

We need your help.

You need a doctor.

The Army did something to me.

I got to prove it.

There’s nothing I can do, all right?

Just leave me alone.

Something’s going on here.

You’re not telling me something.

What’s wrong with you?

I’ll tell you what’s wrong.

I don’t know you from Adam.

You walk in with some bizarre-o story

and demand I check it out. I did.

I don’t know what you take me for,

but you’ve used me.

Used you?

I checked with the Army.

You never even went to Vietnam.

What’s that supposed to mean?

You and your friends are wacko!

You were all discharged on psychological grounds

after some war games in Thailand.

Don’t you see what they’re doing?

We were in Da Nang. You got to believe me.

Go fuck yourself, Singer.

Hey!

What is this?

What is this?

Help!

Help!

Come on, get in there, you cocksucker.

Get off of me!

You little fuck!

Mr. Singer.

What an appropriate name

for someone who can’t keep his mouth shut.

Who are you? What do you want?

We’ve been watching you for a long time…

you and your friends…

Frightening people with foolish talk

about the Army and experiments.

You’re in over your head, Mr. Singer.

Men drown that way.

The Army was part of another life.

Let it lie.

I hope we’ve made our point, Mr. Singer.

Kill this motherfucker!

Help!

Look out!

Please give a little something

to help the poor families.

You poor, poor man.

Merry, merry Christmas!

This guy’s really hurt.

You better get something in him.

Hi, I’m Dr. Stewart.

Can you tell me what happened?

My back.

I… I can’t move.

Get my chiropractor.

Your back?

Did you fall?

He said he slipped on the pavement.

He may have hit his head.

Does he have any identification?

No wallet, nothing.

He stole it.

Who did?

Santa Claus.

I got to get the bastard.

It had my son’s picture in it…

Gabe’s picture.

It’s the only one I had.

Get an orthopedic man in here. Is Dr. Davis on call?

I’ll page him.

Call my chiropractor.

We’re doing everything we can.

Louie Denardo,

Nostend avenue.

I’ll have to move you to check for injuries.

No, doctor.

This may hurt a little.

No, no… aah!

I don’t have to ask if you could feel that.

God damn it. I need Louie.

Who’s Louie?

He’s out of it.

Let’s take him down to X-ray.

Gabe?

Jezzie…

Get me out of here.

Where do you want to go?

Home.

Home?

This is your home. You’re dead.

Dead?

No. No, I just hurt my back.

I’m not dead.

What are you, then?

I’m alive!

Then what you doing here?

I don’t know.

This isn’t happening.

What is happening?

Get me out of here.

There is no out of here.

You’ve been killed.

Don’t you remember?

Careful.

We’re losing him!

We’re losing him!

Watch it! Careful.

What the fuck’s taking them…

He’s still pretty doped up.

I don’t think he’ll be able to talk yet.

I doubt he’ll recognize you.

I just want to see him.

I’ll be outside if you need me.

Dad?

Hi.

It’s us.

You ok?

Jake,

it’s me.

We heard what happened.

I’m not dead.

What?

I’m alive.

I’m not dead.

Oh. Oh, no.

Of course you’re not.

You just hurt your back, that’s all.

It’ll be fine. It just takes some time.

A month they said.

Just hang in there, dad.

Now stop it.

It’s not funny.

God.

What a mess, huh?

Oh, Jacob.

I still love you.

For whatever that’s worth.

Dream on.

Oh, God, no!

What?

What?

Oh, god, what?

Tell me, what can I do?

Help me.

Hold on.

Jacob?

Shh.

Jacob Singer!

Shh!

Jacob!

Sir, keep your voice down.

Where’s Jacob Singer?

Louie, I’m in here!

Jake? Where are you, Jake?

You can’t go in there.

Can I help you?

Jacob!

Good god, Jake, what have they done?

Can I help you?

You can’t go in there.

What is this, the Middle Ages?

Don’t touch him!

They call this modern medicine?

This is barbaric. Barbaric!

All right, just calm down.

Why don’t you just burn him at the stake?

You’ll have to leave!

Stay back! Don’t come near me!

Stay back!

Take one step

And I’ll wrap this around your neck.

Calm down.

Back! Back!

Calm down.

Come on, Jake.

Come on.

You can’t do that.

Make sure that security’s alerted.

You can’t do this!

Out of the way!

I’m upset.

I’m really upset.

That’s a crazy man.

That man is crazy.

Watch your toes, Jake.

Well, you’ve done it to yourself this time,

haven’t you?

Am I dying, Louie?

From a slipped disk?

That would be a first.

I was in hell.

I don’t want to die, Louie.

Well, I’ll see what I can do about it.

It’s all pain.

Straighten out your head.

Relax.

You ever read Meister Eckhart?

No.

How did you get your doctorate without reading Eckhart?

Relax.

Ok, good. Now turn over gently…

right side.

The other right, ok?

You’re a regular basket case, you know that?

Eckhart saw hell, too.

You know what he said?

He said the only thing that burns in hell

is the part of you

that won’t let go of your life…

your memories, your attachments.

They burn them all away.

But they’re not punishing you, he said.

They’re freeing your soul.

Relax.

Good.

So the way he sees it…

if you’re frightened of dying and you’re holding on…

you’ll see devils tearing your life away.

But if you’ve made your peace,

then the devils are really angels

freeing you from the earth.

It’s just a matter of how you look at it, that’s all.

So don’t worry, ok?

Ok?

Good.

Relax.

Relax.

Relax…

And wiggle your toes.

Come on, wiggle your toes.

Perfect.

We got it.

We got it.

Get on your back. Come on.

Easy.

Ok?

Now let’s just give it a little try.

I want to see if you can stand.

By myself?

You can do it.

Come on.

Just give it a try, Jacob.

Come on.

Come on.

Attaboy. Go ahead.

Go ahead.

Go ahead.

Hallelujah.

Jake?

What’s wrong?

It’s me.

Are you ok?

Jesus Christ, where have you been?

I’ve been worried sick.

I mean, it’s two days, and you don’t call me?

I was in the hospital.

Oh, Jesus. In the hospital?

Jake, honey, what hospital?

I called every hospital in the city.

No, don’t.

What’s going on?

I’m not here. You haven’t seen me.

Hello?

Is Jacob Singer there?

No. I haven’t seen him all night.

When do you expect him?

I don’t know.

Could you tell him something?

Tell him I was in Vietnam…

Vietnam?

There was a secret experiment…

What experiment?

I need to see him as soon as possible.

Hello. This is Jacob Singer.

I was in-country in ’68.

I was in a chemical warfare unit in Saigon.

We conducted secret government experiments.

My God.

Are you there?

Yeah.

Do you want to know more?

Where can I meet you?

On 128th and Westside highway

in front of a coffee truck.

How will I know you?

You already know me.

I do?

Yes. Make sure you’re not followed, ok?

All right. Bye.

I knew it.

Who was that?

A chemist.

Part of a chemical warfare unit out of Saigon.

I knew something was going on.

Jake… please don’t go.

Oh, I’m sorry.

Jacob?

Hi. I’m Michael Newman.

Yeah.

I told you you’d know me.

I’ve been tracking you for a long time.

I wish I’d spoken to you before tonight.

Why are you following me?

You’re one of the survivors, Jacob.

Come on. We can’t talk here.

It’s not safe. Come on.

So, first I’m arrested, right?

Best LSD I ever made right down the drain.

I figured, “This is it.

20 years in the can if I’m lucky.”

That was 1968.

Long time ago.

Really. Next thing I know, I’m on Riker’s island.

Ever been there, man?

Well, suddenly, they take me from my cell,

they throw me in a waiting room With bank teller windows.

Four army colonels with medals up their asses

are standing on the other side.

They say to me, if I come to Vietnam for two years…

No action, just work in a lab…

they’ll drop all charges and wipe the record clean.

I’d only been in jail 13 hours.

I knew ‘Nam couldn’t be any worse.

Shows how little you knew.

Yeah, really. They had me by the balls.

Next thing I know, I’m in Saigon.

I’m working in a top-secret lab

synthesizing mind-altering drugs.

Not the street stuff.

They had us isolating special properties…

the dark side.

They wanted a drug that increased aggressive tendencies.

They were scared. They were worried.

They figured you guys were too soft,

not fighting up to your potential.

They wanted something to stir you up,

make you mad, you know, tap into your anger.

And we did it.

Most powerful thing I ever saw.

Even a bad trip, and believe me, I’ve had my share,

do not compare to the fury of the Ladder.

The Ladder?

Yeah. That’s what they called it.

A fast trip straight down the Ladder…

right to the primal fear, right to the base anger.

I’m telling you, man, it was powerful.

I don’t need to tell you. You already know.

We did experiments on jungle monkeys.

It worked.

They bashed each other’s heads in,

gouged out their eyes, chewed off their tails.

The brass loved it.

Then they made us try it on Charlie.

We, uh…

took these POWs, you know?

Just kids, really.

And… we put them in this courtyard,

And we fed them huge doses of the stuff.

I mean, they were worse than the monkeys.

I didn’t know men could do those things.

Anyway, there was this big offensive coming up, right?

Everyone knew it…

Time Magazine, Huntley, Brinkley…

And the brass were scared

because they knew we couldn’t win.

Morale was down, it was getting ugly in the States.

You remember.

Yeah.

So, a couple days later,

they decide to use the Ladder…

on one test battalion…

Yours.

Just an infinitesimal dose in the food supply, they said,

just to prove its effectiveness in the field.

They were sure your unit would have the highest kill ratio

in the whole God damn offensive,

and they were right– you did…

except not the way they thought.

No one can remember that night.

I get flashes, but they don’t make sense.

What happened?

Was there an offensive?

Yeah, a couple days later. It was fierce,

but you guys never saw it.

But there was an attack?

It was a fight, right?

Yeah, but not with the Cong.

With who?

You killed each other.

What?

It was brother against brother.

No discrimination.

You tore each other to pieces.

My God.

I knew it would happen.

I warned them.

I fucking warned them!

Ohh, fuck.

I was just some hippie chemist, right?

What did I know?

Fuck.

I talked to the guys who bagged the bodies.

They were in worse shape than you, believe me.

They saw what was left.

I needed to find you, you know?

I felt responsible.

The Ladder was my baby.

I’m going to Brooklyn.

Not with me, you’re not.

I get lost in Brooklyn.

I know the way.

Listen…

This is all the money I have.

Take me home, please.

Where’s your home?

Dr. Singer.

Well… it’s been a long time.

Hello, Sam.

Are you all right?

Yeah, I’m ok.

Do you want some help? I can call upstairs.

No, no. That’s ok.

Thanks, Sam.

Sarah?

Jed?

Eli?

If you’re frightened of dying

and you’re holding on,

you’ll see devils tearing your life away.

If you’ve made your peace,

then the devils are really angels

freeing you from the earth.

Gabe?

Gabe?

Hi, Dad.

It’s ok.

Come on. Let’s go up.

Come on.

He’s gone.

He looks kind of peaceful, the guy.

Put up a hell of a fight, though.

What’s the guy’s name?

Singer. Jacob singer.

[ I don’t mind the gray skies ]

[ You make them blue ]

[ Sonny boy ]

[ Friends may forsake me ]

[ Let them all forsake me ]

[ I still have you ]

[ Sonny boy ]

[ You’re sent from heaven ]

[ And I know your worth ]

[ You made a heaven for me here on earth ]

[ When I’m old and gray here ]

[ Promise you won’t stray, dear ]

[ For I love you so ]

[ Sonny boy ]

 

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