Plot: Section 46 Lot 366-11 Grid O/P-22.5
Arlington National Cemetery. The nation’s most sacred shrine. A girl sits on a bench. An older white guy walks up and places a quarter on a gravestone.
Girl- excuse me.
Girl- I am sorry-
Guy- no problem. what?
Girl- you can’t do that.
Girl- put a quarter there.
Guy- they just did.
Girl- you can’t.
Guy- it is okay.
Girl- don’t put that quarter there.
Guy- I am pretty sure I think it is okay.
Girl- were you there when he was killed?
Girl- did you serve with him?
Girl- did you train with him?
Girl- so put a penny.
Guy- I am putting a quarter.
Girl- but you weren’t there when he was killed.
Guy- it is all I have.
Girl- do you want change?
Guy- no, I don’t want change.
Girl- Don’t put a quarter there. A quarter means you were with him when he was killed. I have change. Here. Take a penny.
Guy- thank you.
Girl- a dime means you served with him.
Girl- a nickel means you trained with him. leave a penny. A penny means you visited.
Guy- what about a dollar?
Girl- I don’t know.
Guy- thank you.
Girl- Sorry about that.
Guy- no, thank you for informing me of the protocol.
Girl- I thought maybe for a second you served with him and I was yelling at a ghost.
Guy- I didn’t serve with him.
Girl- North Africa to Sicily to Italy to Normandy to Belgium to Germany. Battlefield commission. Killed 50 germans from the top of a burning tank. Shot in the hip. Won every medal possible.
Guy- I didn’t know that.
Girl- you didn’t know that and yet you visit his grave.
Guy- well, I know now. And I knew he did what he did, just didn’t know what it was.
Girl- right. Like visiting Jim Morrision’s grave.
Guy- I know what he did and wouldn’t visit.
Girl- how about if you were there like two or three rows over.
Guy- it would be neat to say yeah, I didn’t want to see Jim Morrison’s grave.
Girl- his dad was an admiral.
Guy- explains a lot.
Girl- it is the right thing to do, but you didn’t know that?
Girl- what do you know about him?
Girl- Audie Murphy.
Guy- What you said without the details. The most decorated soldier of world war 2. Everyone knows Audie Murphy.
Girl- he was a magnificent killer. His art. Better killer than actor.
Guy- I wonder who is buried next to him. Feel kinda bad for whoever it is.
Girl- I do wonder if at the time he thought of it as such. Not that he went around bragging he was the best, but if he knew he was very good at it or if it such a thing that stands apart from self-knowledge, if it more just a job.
Guy- good question.
Girl- what other grave sites have you visited?
Guy- well, I just saw the tomb of the unknown soldier-
Girl- isn’t that great?
Guy- yes. Quite magnificent.
Girl- Army is a bunch of faggots but not the sentinels. Sentinels are 3rd Infantry. You know who else was 3rd infantry?
Girl- Audie Murphy.
Guy- is that why?
Girl- no idea. It is considered one of the highest honors to serve as a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns. They march 21 steps south. Turn and face east, toward the Tomb, for 21 seconds. Turn and face north, change weapon to outside shoulder, and wait 21 seconds. March 21 steps. Turn and faces east for 21 seconds. Turns and faces south, changes weapon to outside shoulder, and waits 21 seconds. Repeats the routine until relieved of duty at the changing of the guard. After each turn, the Guard executes a sharp “shoulder-arms” movement to place the weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors to signify that the Guard stands between the Tomb and any possible threat.
Guy- very impressive.
Girl- I like them. Can you tell?
Guy- I like them too. Maybe one day you will be a sentinel?
Girl- I didn’t know there were tomb of the unknowns other places. Other countries have them.
Guy- I didn’t know either, but it makes sense.
Girl- did you go inside?
Girl- inside they have plaques from other countries…saying sorry or to honor the tomb.
Guy- no, I should check that out.
Girl- it is okay. The plaques from japan are bullshit. If you were sorry, you wouldn’t have fucking bombed pearl harbor you fucking assholes.
Guy- would you like to get a cup of coffee?
Girl- would you like to visit my husband’s grave?
Guy- yes. Of course.
Girl- he died in the Beirut Barracks bombing two years ago last week.
Guy- I am so very sorry.
Girl- not as sorry as I am.
Guy- of course. What is his name?
Girl- Corporal Nicholas Baker, United States Marine Corps.
Guy- I am sorry for your loss.
Girl- His body disintegrated in the blast. I don’t know what is in the ground. I think just his uniform.
Guy- I would be honored to visit his grave.
Girl- great! It is section 59, Grave 620. It means a lot.
Girl- do you need directions?
Guy- oh, no.
Girl- you have a map?
Guy- I do.
Girl- okay. Section 59, grave 620.
Guy- I thought I would accompany you.
Girl- to? no.
Guy- my mistake.
Girl- it is fine.
Guy- Nice to meet you.
Girl- you too.
Guy- I will place a penny there.
Girl- you can put more if you want. Here.
Guy- you don’t see the…
Guy- I feel as if I am criticized by you for visiting the grave of a man I didn’t know and then am instructed by the person who criticized me to visit the gravesite of a man I did not know.
Girl- who asks a woman in a cemetery if she wants to go for coffee?
Guy- a man who is talked to by a woman warmly seemingly without reason.
Girl- You are old enough to be my dad.
Girl- What were we going to talk about over coffee?
Guy- we seemed to be having a conversation.
Girl- Shove off. I am sorry.
Guy- My fault.
Girl – If you were younger I would go for coffee.
Guy- good to know.
Girl- no, I…I am sorry. I will walk with you. when it happened…it was…it is a nightmare but it makes you who you are…I am the wife of a marine killed in Beirut…I am 21 years old…how long am I supposed to mourn for? People all of a sudden knew me and …Time Magazine interviewed us after it happened. But life ceased having a point when they showed up at my door and told me…and then it is this happens for a reason and they are heroes but the one who got the press attention and assistance in making sense of the tragedy or was Devin Green and his wife Deborah. And it is awful to say it but it made it seem like they were the only ones who suffered. I love Deborah but they just got married like right before they shipped out to Beirut. And they did this whole thing on Devin, her husband who was great and it was great but it is…what about the rest of us? I suffered as much as Deborah, more considering we were fucking high school sweethearts and they got trashed and married. And the asshole from Time…I got my hopes up, I really did. And we got coverage in Virginia…but come on…Time Magazine? And don’t think it didn’t go right to Deborah’s fucking head…strangers started bringing Tastycakes, Cheetos, posters of bruce lee to his grave. And who hasn’t been here in weeks?
Girl- My husband liked those things. President Reagan was nice, but he was way nicer to Deborah…and she had this lacquer on her…like she looked like a television person not one of us…you would like to think there isn’t a fucking pecking order…but look at this place…officers on the high ground…this is eternal Disneyland, you know…and if audie murphy is mickey mouse and Devin is one of the Mouseketeers…this is my life…my Nicholas is who you walk by to get to Devin…so I am going to play the game…talk to strangers…maybe if enough people knew about him…and enough pennies got put there…maybe if a mass of pennies would show them and they would come and I don’t know if they would do another article or what but…
Guy- I don’t have a job, so I can come everyday and leave a penny. Or take the money off of other ones and put it there.
Girl- that is nice, but it would be better if you got other people to do it. Like, spread the word or something. I am asking enough of you to go just once, but if you spread the word type thing.
Guy- Section 59, Grave 620. Corporal Nicholas Baker.
Girl- don’t take money off other ones. Unless it is anyone in the section.
Guy- I won’t. I will. I will tell everyone I know to come and put a penny.
Girl –thank you.
Guy- thank you.
(Guy walks away. Girl prepares for the next wave)