EXT. SLOUGH – DAY
CAPT. JAMES WILLARD sits in a kayak overlooking the Columbia Slough (pronounced "sloo"), a 19-mile channel of water and gunk running from Fairview Lake to St. John's. His eyes scan the moss-stained horizon, then drift down to an old photograph he is holding, provided by city officials who are seeking to disband these camps before they can organize.
I'd been hunting for him for the past month, down this trail of mud puddles and lily pads.
We PAN DOWN to see the photograph. It is a portrait of GILLIGAN, a scruffy-looking man with a wide smile on his face.
He'd been living out here, on a city of rafts, a mayor of a remote homeless encampment. And as I studied my target, the more I couldn't get him off my mind. Here we were, in the darkest heart of Portland, descending down a river of madness.
We PULL BACK to reveal a small caravan of kayaks, all helmed by U.S. Marines in '60s-era uniforms. One of them mans an M-60 machine gun mounted to the bow. The leader, COLONEL WILLIAM KILGORE, wears a wide-brimmed hat and speaks with a gung-ho shout.
You smell that?
(Wafts it in)
Sewage. I love the smell of sewage in the morning.
Behind him, one of the kayaking soldiers holds a large boombox on the front of his vessel. Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" blasts from the speakers, filling the slough with the menacing assault of classical music. The fleet of kayaks continues onward at a snail's pace.
Suddenly, a small squad of F-22 bombers screams overhead and bombs the entire area. The slough instantly transforms into a gigantic fireball. The aquatic convoy is left unscathed. The vegetation around them is completely eviscerated. Kilgore barely reacts.
Napalm's pretty nice, too.
EXT. FLOATING HOMELESS CAMP – DAY
Willard's kayak floats slowly toward a small village on rafts. Hordes of residents stand and stare at the vessel. Willard stares back, scanning the makeshift shacks and huts. His eyes narrow.
This was madness. What was this place? What kind of power did Gilligan have over them? Imagine Portland's reaction.
In the distance, a figure emerges from the largest hut. CLOSE-UP on Willard as he stares back. It is GILLIGAN, the mayor of the raft village. Willard's journey is at its end: he has found his target. He kayaks forward, floats up next to the dock and exits.
Welcome, Captain, to Slough Town.
He speaks in a measured, even manner that's quietly jovial. Willard is transfixed but guarded, unsure of what to make of the conversation.
Mayor Ted has sent you to remove me from this place, I imagine. Is that why you're here? To relocate my command?
Relocate, with extreme prejudice.
GO: Francis Ford Coppola will be at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, Monday, Oct. 2. 7:30 pm. $15-70.