I wrote this short script for a theater company that was looking for ten-minute plays that dealt with war and terrorism. They didn't choose to use it. I think it's far from brilliant, maybe even a little bit heavy handed, but, given the state of the world right now, I didn't want it to go to waste.

Purple Hearts and Missing Femurs

The stage is dark. In the darkness, a shot is fired.

STEVE Jesus!

Lights up. STEVE and GARY cower behind some rocks. They're both
dressed in combat fatigues.

GARY Are you hit?

STEVE He got me. He got my leg.

GARY Must have been a sniper. Did you see where it came from?


GARY Don't worry. You're going to be okay.

STEVE Damn fighting.

GARY You're going to make it.

STEVE Damn war.

Pause. GARY sits up to have a look around.

STEVE Careful, he might still be out there.

STEVE Yeah, or he might be gone.

GARY Where would he go?

STEVE I don't know. Away from here.

GARY Away from this madness.

STEVE Back to sanity.


GARY I think he's gone.

STEVE Good riddance.

GARY How're you doing?

STEVE I'm okay.

GARY looks at STEVE's leg.

GARY I don't think so. Your leg looks bad. I don't think you're okay.

STEVE It's fine. I'm fine.

GARY No. I don't think you're leg is going to make it.

STEVE It's all right. I just panicked when I got hit. It's not that bad.

GARY It's got to come off.


STEVE Excuse me?

GARY Your leg. It's got to come off.

STEVE My leg?


STEVE Has got to come off?


STEVE My leg is fine.


STEVE Really!

GARY I know what I'm looking at. I'm looking at a leg that's finished.

STEVE There's nothing wrong with it. It's fine. It's a fine leg.

GARY Are you a doctor? Do you have medical training? Do you have the skills and knowledge needed to make that assessment?



GARY You do? You are a doctor?

STEVE Before I enlisted, I was a heart surgeon.

GARY I see.

STEVE I know a few things.

GARY A doctor, huh?

STEVE And I say my leg doesn't need to come off.


GARY A leg isn't a heart.

STEVE What was that?

GARY You're a heart surgeon?


GARY You didn't get shot in the heart; you got shot in the leg. Your leg isn't your heart.

STEVE What's your point?

GARY You're a heart surgeon, not a leg surgeon. You might not be the most qualified person to make judgments regarding someone's leg.


STEVE Look, I found the bullet right here in the dirt! It didn't even go in, it just grazed me.

GARY You're lying to yourself.

STEVE It's not even bleeding anymore.

GARY You're in denial.

STEVE I've got the bullet right here.

GARY Let me see.

STEVE hands GARY the bullet. Pause.

GARY How do you know that this is the bullet that hit you?

STEVE Come again?

GARY How do you know that this bullet wasn't already here? How do you know that the guy that was crouched here before us didn't leave this slug? How do you know that you didn't jump down here and sit on pre-existing ammunition?

STEVE You're being stupid.

GARY How do you know that your bullet isn't still in your leg?

STEVE It's not even bleeding anymore.

GARY You should just say goodbye to the damaged limb and move on with your life.


STEVE Okay, look, I have medical training.

GARY So you said.

STEVE I went to med school.

GARY I know.

STEVE I'm a member of the AMA!

GARY Prestigious indeed.

STEVE I know what I am talking about. I am a doctor!

GARY And I know that you are a doctor and, guess what.


GARY I do not care!


STEVE Why are we fighting?

GARY It's silly, isn't it?

STEVE We don't have to agree on everything.

GARY Agreed.

STEVE There's no problem, as long as you don't hurt me and I don't hurt you.

GARY No problem.

STEVE So that settles it.

GARY It's settled. Now let's take that leg off.


STEVE I don't think you were listening.

GARY Okay. Try me again.

STEVE There are people that are a direct threat and there are people that are not a direct threat.

GARY Correct. Direct and not direct, that is correct.

STEVE You fight the people that are a threat.

GARY Understood.

STEVE You and I are not a direct threat to each other.

GARY Of course not.

STEVE So why can't you live your life while I live mine?

GARY We can.

STEVE Yes. We can.

GARY Then there won't be anymore fighting. Now let's take that leg off.


STEVE I still don't think you were listening.

GARY They'd give you a medal.


GARY An amputated leg? They'd give you a medal.

STEVE Maybe.

GARY A promotion.

STEVE You think?

GARY You'd be a war hero.

STEVE A hero.


STEVE How would you do it?

GARY I've got my knife. A snip snip here and a clip clip there. You wouldn't feel a thing.


STEVE The leg isn't that bad. What if we….

GARY It is that bad.

STEVE No. We could…

GARY I don't think you were listening.

STEVE I wasn't?

GARY No. You re letting the fact that it's your own leg cloud your judgment. The leg has got to come off.


GARY You'll be a hero.

STEVE A hero.

GARY A war hero.


STEVE Do it.

GARY You're sure?

STEVE Make it quick.

GARY You're positive?

STEVE I'm sure.

GARY stands and takes a knife out of his pocket.

GARY You won't feel a thing.

A shot is fired. GARY falls over, dead.

STEVE What about my medal?

Lights down.