Boots On the Ground

This is a short screenplay based on a song I wrote called “Boots on the Ground.”


TOM: A thin, bright, nervous private, 18, who drums to internal beats constantly

JIM: A sergeant, level-headed, in his mid-20s, easy-going

SAM: A medic, late 20s, handsome and confident, with a sharp tongue

INT: The mess tent of a U.S. barracks at night in a war zone in the Iraqi desert

Music plays in the background



C’mon, Tommy, come see this!

[Tom moves to the door where SAM is leaning out]

TOM [leaning and listening]

Missiles flying. Like, from nowhere. Heading somewhere. You think they’ll hit here?

SAM [ignores him momentarily, moving back into the barracks and grabbing a cigarette]

Hey Jim. Need a light.

[JIM uses a lighter to light SAM’s cigarette.]

SAM [returning just outside the door and dragging on the cigarette]

Nah, kid, sirens and bombs and missiles all around. Just another day down.


You heard about the prisoners at Guantanamo, guys? We’re not looking any too good to the enemy already, and then this.


You got that right. But Navy’s getting here tomorrow. That’ll be a help. [Pauses] Come to think of it, not sure how, but we’ll see, I guess.

TOM [sitting inside, drumming the table with one hand, shuffling a deck of cards with the other]

I – I -I’m worried, guys. Bush, mission accomplished, history. It all seems so lofty until … until …

JIM [finishing it]

Until you get here? Don’t I know it. I just had the most — SAM [yelling] come in here before you get your head blown off!

SAM [coming in]

Yeah, Jim, what?

JIM [sitting at the table with TOM, voice cracking]

I just, I just had the most horrible day. Did you see that little girl, shot up for dead? And her father, trying to walk with her in his arms…


You know I did. [gets quiet] She, uh, she didn’t make it.

JIM [sobbing softly, then getting mad]

This … this freakin’ bin Laden, still hiding, or is he just a ghost? An evil sonofa–

[Another missile, louder than before, rockets overhead, shattering their conversation. They dive to the ground, then get back up gingerly]

SAM [pats JIM’s back]

It’s gonna be OK, soldier.


I know. I just … I just can’t wipe away these faces, this place, the sounds of bullets and machine guns, the way they’re hiding in the night, waiting to ambush us, and mining the roads —

TOM [interrupting]

You know diplomacy went AWOL, right, Jim? So terror seeks it’s own reward. You know that.

JIM [getting out of his stupor and playfully putting his arm around TOM’s shoulder]

When did you get to be so smart, buddy?

TOM [puts the cards down]

When I was home, gearing up for college. Never expected to be in this hell-hole.

SAM [authoritatively] TOMMY!

TOM [sheepish, but insistent]

Well, it is, you know.


Hey, am I the only one who’s gonna hold it together tonight? Jim, turn out the lights, let’s go get some shuteye.


… You said it Sam. Another day down.


6 thoughts on “Boots On the Ground

  1. Putting the song and the scene together is an great idea. It gives the reader/listener multiple ways to ingest the story. I think the characters were slightly more distinguishable to me because I am in the military. The ranks alone are enough for me to create visuals.

    I’m not sure I felt a story in the scene though. It kind of felt like another day in the desert. That might be what you were going for, but even another day in the desert can come with something to be overcome. The story showed how violent every day is, but I don’t feel like it got anything accomplished.

    But again, that might have been the point. #MissionAccomplished

  2. This is an interesting idea. I would like to hear the song. But I have a few comments about the scene. I am note getting a clear voice on each of the characters. I wasn’t finding much of a difference between them.
    Also, this line:( I – I -I’m worried, guys. Bush, mission accomplished, history. It all seems so lofty until … until …) The word lofty seems really out of place to me. And Sam yelling at Tom for calling the war a Hell Whole…..I would think he might agree.
    I appreciate your trying to take a song and making it a scene but it doesn’t flow for me.
    Still would love to hear the song.

    1. I see what you’re saying about the characters not being distinct enough.

      The song is right there just play it. It’s the arrow buttons right below the title. It actually flows in sync with the scene, some of the lines are taken right from the song. I hope you can listen to it.

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