Nightmare
(Episode 31)

  • Guest Stars:  Todd Allen, Marilyn Tokuda, Lar Park Lincoln (Abigail Curtis)
  • Story by:  Rick Husky and Dennis Cooper
  • Directed by:  Tommy Lee Wallace
Synopsis:

Johnny and Myron are walking up to the flight line with Goldman's men following behind. Johnny tells Myron it's his mom's birthday, and the first one that he won't be there for. And that his family was going to call him that evening as a surprise for her. He also tells Myron how his mother worries, that his father was a chopper jock too, but was shot down in Korea while flying wounded into a MASH unit.

Goldman and Third Squad are going out on a body retrieval detail. Zeke warns them to stay alert, that Charlie doesn't take time off so they can get their dead. The men are somber as an entire company apparently got wiped out by the VC.

McKay flies them out to the LZ. In a rare gesture between these two men, as Johnny sets the slick down, Myron puts his hand on Johnny's shoulder, and the pilot wishes him good luck.

With Percell on point, they find the platoon that had been ambushed and killed. There are bodies everywhere and, after the initial shock of finding them, Goldman and his men move in cautiously. Anderson kneels by one man, upset and almost shaking. He strokes his hand across the dead man's uniform, struggling to hold himself together. Goldman kneels down across from him, watching him, and asks if he knew the slain soldier.

Zeke tells him in a halting voice that it was Staff Sgt. Earl Hawkins. That everyone called him "Doc", and that they went through their first tour together. Zeke says he was Doc's best man at his wedding in Saigon last year and that he was a good man. Myron watches with honest concern as Zeke gathers the dead man's glasses before they are all suddenly ambushed. After a brief exchange of gunfire, the VC who attacked Goldman's men retreat and Goldman orders that they follow and run them down.

In the meantime, Johnny spots purple smoke. He radios in to see if he can find out who is in the AO, and decides to check it out and take a closer look. It is an ambush, though, and the VC are waiting and hoping he will come closer so they can knock his ship down with an RPG. As Johnny moves in, they get a clear shot at him.

McKay's slick takes a direct hit and he is unable to keep it in the air. Radioing in that he was going in, the Huey comes down hard in the jungle. Everyone survives the crash, but are immediately attacked before they can escape the ruined slick. Within moments Johnny's co-pilot and crew are killed. Johnny is shot, taking a slug in the shoulder and thrown back. He survives, but is forced to flee when he sees the VC move in on the Huey. He has no weapon, and is wounded. As he tries to slip away, the VC hear him and give chase.

Goldman, Anderson and Third Squad move into a village, chasing down three VC. As they move in, they come under fire by the cornered VC. Things go from bad to worse when a young American woman wearing black pajamas runs out into the middle of the firefight, and Percell comes to within a heartbeat of killing her. When gunfire nearly hits her, Percell dashes out and grabs her, dragging her to safety. She starts to fight him, saying the VC had an American doctor and a little girl in the hootch. Danny looks up to see the VC holding the doctor with a gun to his head. Dr. Richards struggles and breaks free, falling to the ground, and the VC shoots and kills him. The young woman starts to break free from Danny, trying to run and help. Before the VC can kill her, Danny manages to shoot the man.

With the firefight now over, the young woman, Abigail Curtis, runs over to find Richards dead. When she hears crying, she ducks into the hootch while Danny approaches more cautiously. She then emerges, leading a little girl out into the daylight. Danny continues to check the hootch out as Anderson storms up and demands to know what the hell Abigail was doing there in the first place. The young woman explains that she and Dr. Richards were there as part of a rural inoculation program. Danny rejoins them as Anderson points out to Abigail that this is VC territory. She explains she knows that, but they were in no danger. They were Quakers and thus neutral and that before Danny and Zeke had come in with their guns, they were in no danger. She clearly blames Anderson and his men for the deaths.

Goldman calls Anderson over and tells him no one can raise McKay, that Operations has lost contact with him. Hoping it is just a radio malfunction, Goldman orders Anderson to get the civilians and clear the area as they had work to do.

Johnny is running, but the VC are rapidly closing in on him. He climbs partway up into a tree and watches as four VC pass by. But the last one glances up, seeing him, so Johnny leaps down and grabs him. He snaps the VC's neck. With the man still in his arms, he uses the VC's rifle, killing the other three before they can realize what has happened. Dropping the dead VC to the ground, Johnny then grabs the man's knife, takes the rifle and flees.

A Huey brings Goldman, his men, Abigail and the little girl back to Tan Son Nhut. As they walk away, Taylor carrying the little girl, Abigail asks Percell where they are taking her and Danny says he will show her, leading her to the Dispensary.

Visibly upset, Alex tracks Myron down as he comes off the flight line to tell him that McKay was missing. Myron assures her that he was sure that McKay was fine and that he was expecting a call from his mother that night and wouldn't miss that for anything. But Alex tells him the Roadrunners haven't gone out yet and Myron becomes upset. Myron and Alex go to speak to the rescue crews, Myron demanding to know why they hadn't gone out yet. He then shows them where he last saw McKay, making it clear he wanted the crews out there looking. Alex begs that they find him, exchanging a worried look with Myron.

At the dispensary, Abigail, after checking that the little girl is comfortable, speaks with Danny who is waiting for her. Danny wants to know why she is there in Vietnam, and if it's true that Quakers give medical supplies to the enemy. She is unrepentant, saying it is not their fault if a few bandages end up with the VC.

As they walk across the compound, Alex and Myron discuss McKay. Myron is doing his level best to assure Alex that McKay is going to come out of it just fine and smelling like a rose. But she continues to be upset, knowing Johnny went down in one of the worst areas. She doesn't hold out much hope despite Myron's reassurances that Johnny could take care of himself.

Outside the dispensary, Abigail prepares to leave and go into Saigon. Danny speaks with her again, asking how long she's been in Vietnam, and finding out she had been in-country for seven months. Abigail hopes she is making a difference with her contribution. Danny replies that the only difference he sees is in himself. That killing doesn't bother him as much any more. She tells him that is a horrible way to live. Abigail then tells Danny she is going into Cho-lan to look for the little girl's mother, despite Danny's warning.

Dressed in his Class B uniform, Zeke goes into Saigon to speak to Doc's wife. But when he finds her, she is with another GI. A bit shocked, and certainly hurt, Zeke leaves and returns to Tan Son Nhut.

In the barracks, Danny and Taylor talk about Abigail. Danny is upset because he almost killed her. He is still hurting over the boy he killed back when they were at Ladybird. Taylor reminds him it was a long time ago and an accident, but it does not ease Danny's mind. He asks Taylor if they were going to take back the same disregard for life they learned over in Vietnam. What was going to happen to them when they got home? He is also upset that he let Abigail go into Saigon alone. Taylor offers to go with him and find the young Quaker woman.

Upon arriving at Tan Son Nhut, Zeke asks Myron what, if any, news on McKay. Goldman tells Zeke they found the Huey, but no McKay. He asks if Zeke found Doc's wife, and is startled when Zeke tells him that she was busy with another man. Zeke is upset, and hurting with not just finding a buddy dead, but then finding his buddy's wife sleeping around. He tells Myron he doesn't understand why he cares. And Myron tells him he'd worry if Zeke didn't care about his friend.

Percell and Taylor start looking for Abigail in Cho-lan. At the last bar they visit, Taylor speaks to someone while two young girls try to wrap themselves around Danny. Marcus returns and tells Danny that it sounds as if Abigail was there. Taylor entertains the two girls while Danny goes to speak to the man and get more details. But as he walks toward the back of the bar, he hears a woman screaming and charges in. He finds Abigail being pinned by two Vietnamese men, one trying to rape her as she struggles to get free. He pulls the man off, struggling with him, and a gun is pulled. Shoving the man up against the wall, Danny kills him in self-defense as Abigail watches in shocked horror. Marcus comes rushing in as the second rapist tries to run. Marcus grabs him and knocks him to the floor.

The madam comes in and looks at the carnage. She starts calling Danny a murderer as Abigail kneels by the body, still stunned by the turn of events. The local police rush in and grab Danny, shoving him up against the wall. He tries to explain he was the good guy, but when the police ask Abigail to confirm what happened, she refuses, saying she can't honestly say if it was self defense or not.

When the Roadrunners come back to Tan Son Nhut, they have the bodies of Johnny's crew, but not McKay. They pretty much have written him off and Goldman becomes furious. Anderson tries to keep Myron under some control as he explains that the L-T still believed that McKay was alive and deserved every chance at being rescued. Goldman wants to take some of his men and go out himself and look, but it is almost dark. There is little they can do except wait for morning.

Zeke speaks to Danny in the stockade about what happened in Saigon. Danny explains the situation, that Abigail was the only real witness, and she wasn't going to help Danny. Certainly the other rapist wouldn't testify on his behalf, and Taylor arrived too late. Zeke tells Danny that he was being charged with manslaughter, and that he would be dishonorably discharged and put in Leavenworth if convicted.

Outside the stockade, Alex approaches Zeke, asking if he would help her to get in to see Abigail. Assuring Zeke it had nothing to do with a story, she tells him she had met Abigail before and feels she might be able to help Percell if she could just talk to her. But when meeting at the quarters where Abigail is staying, the young woman makes it clear she will not change her position. She was raised to stand by her beliefs, not to discard them when it becomes inconvenient for Danny Percell. She makes it clear that if Danny had not intervened, the man would not be dead and she would not feel responsible.

It's dark now and McKay is hiding in a stand of bamboo, tending as best he can to his wounded shoulder. He hears several VC approaching and carefully pushes himself deeper into the stand, silently pulling the stolen rifle to him. As he lies in the shadows, he watches the VC pass close enough for him to reach out and touch.

Myron is there when Mrs. McKay calls, and gently reassures her that Johnny is fine. As Alex stands next to him, he keeps his voice upbeat and polite, assuring her that Johnny was just filling in for another pilot who was sick and that he would call her when he got back. Before he says goodbye to her, Myron wishes her a happy birthday.

The next day, Alex again tries to speak to Abigail at the Dispensary, but Abigail refuses to back down from her position. Frustrated, Alex finally demands to know what the Quaker policy was on saving an innocent man's life. She then tells Abigail she needs to go back to her rule book as she must have skipped over the chapter that says it's all right to save another person's life as well as your own.

Zeke speaks to Danny again in hopes of finding out anything that Danny may have forgotten that could help the younger man. Danny then remembers there was another woman there, and believes her to be the little girl's mother. He tells Zeke she was also screaming, and when the police came, she slipped away. Anderson decides to find the young woman, hoping she might testify and help Danny out.

In Saigon, Anderson finds the same establishment where the incident took place. The bartender is refusing to help him. Then Doc's wife steps forward and offers to help. Zeke is startled, realizing that she is now a prostitute. She tells Zeke how she had hoped that Doc would take her off the streets when they got married, but that it didn't work out that way. Anderson apologizes, saying he had no right to judge her. She then brings out the little girl's mother, Li Thang, to speak with Zeke.

The woman is terrified, afraid that the Army is holding her little girl until she agrees to testify for Danny. Zeke quickly explains that wasn't the case, and that she could see her little girl regardless. Li Thang asks if Zeke can help to get her out of Saigon, and her pimp and another man step up, stopping her and Doc's wife from getting to Zeke. Zeke then tells the two men he's tired, he'd been killing all day, and that he was hungry, as he hadn't even had his dinner yet. He challenges them, asking if they want a piece of him. He then warns that he's willing to kill them both. Carefully, he reaches over and guides the two women over to him. He then smiles and they leave together with no further incident.

Zeke and Myron go to Third Squad's barracks. Goldman explains that the Army was ready to write Lt. McKay off, but he wasn't. Myron asks for volunteers to go help search for McKay and most of Third Squad agrees to come and help.

Johnny makes his way back to the ruined slick while Goldman and his men are flown out to the site. Desperate, Johnny tries to rig the radio to work, only to see more VC heading his way. He slips back out and hides on the far side of the chopper, realizing as he does that he is out of ammo. Out of options, he draws his knife and waits. The Huey with Goldman and his men flies by overhead and the VC decide to go after it and ambush it when it lands. Johnny realizes he has to do something or whoever is in that slick will be killed. He climbs back in and starts to rig up the 8-track player.

Anderson, Goldman and Third Squad jump out and start searching the area for McKay. They haven't gotten very far when Johnny finally gets the 8-track player up and running and throws in a tape, blaring the Four Tops across the jungle in hopes of warning them. Anderson is horrified, thinking it was going to attract every VC in the area, but Myron realizes that it's a warning. Anderson warns everyone to be careful and they proceed forward cautiously. Meanwhile, Johnny slips up behind another VC and breaks his neck. Grabbing the man's rifle, he runs over and finds several more lying in wait to ambush Goldman's men. He opens fire, killing several of them before they realize what has happened.

Third Squad takes cover and starts to return fire. The VC find themselves pinned between Goldman's squad and McKay, and finally turn tail and run. Johnny collapses, sliding down to the ground, at the end of his endurance.

Anderson and Goldman come up, kneeling by McKay as Myron takes a look at his shoulder. He asks Johnny if he can move and Johnny grins through his pain, saying, "Can I move? First place Gary, Indiana Twist Contest, two years in a row." It is Anderson and Goldman who personally carry Johnny out to the waiting slick and get him safely on board.

Thanks to the testimony of the little girl's mother, Danny is released. As they prepare to leave, Danny approaches Abigail, who apologizes for what had happened. Her world has been turned upside down and she no longer knows what to believe. She tells Danny she wasn't sure she could live with herself if Danny's life had been destroyed, no matter what her beliefs were. Danny assures her he is not angry with her, and tells her she has a lot of courage to stand by her beliefs. She tells him she is thinking of leaving, that she is no longer sure she is making a difference. Danny tells her she is, and she has only to look at the little girl and her mother to know that.

Worth another look: Myron speaks to Mrs. McKay since Johnny is now MIA. Myron keeps his voice upbeat, assuring Mrs. McKay that Johnny was fine and just helping out on a mission. That it wasn't as bad as the news made it out to be, Johnny is going to be just fine, and that he would call her when he got back. Before Myron hangs up, he gently wishes her a happy birthday.
Music: Reach Out, I'll Be There- The Four Tops.   Where McKay rigs up his 8 track player to blast the music out in order to warn Goldman and Anderson that VC are in the area.
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