Brad comes up to nab Espera for a meeting with Nate and tells him to quit with the white man's oppression for five seconds. "I was just elucidating on the white man's burden, Dog." It's helpful, isn't it, to have an actual mouthpiece character in the source material. All these speeches, I can't vouch for all of them, but a lot of them are verbatim. Poke is so awesome. He waves Evan out from under the truck and catches a look from Brad. "What? Just wanted to get one last cigarette before we all die."
The Platoon's team leaders are standing around talking about the latest from that Army hit. Pappy's talking about how they had eleven soldiers captured: "Showed them on Arab TV. Abusing them on TV." Christopher (I think) is pretty upset. "Shit, they raped the one woman soldier. They broke her bones and then raped her." Brad, approaching, reminds them that in "this neck of desert," it's not just the women that get raped. "In your dreams, Brad," says Espera, and Nate starts the meeting. "As we learned today from the eight hours we spent getting our asses shot at by the Euphrates, the enemy's got some fight in him. I have no word on our mission, but I assume we're going into Nasiriyah. Those are all casevac birds. Word is that Taskforce Tarawa's taken 200 casualties in that city." Pappy asks when they go in, and Nate tells him about Godfather's meeting with the Company commanders above. Wynn tells the team leaders to get their teams some sleep while they can.
"LT, what's the skinny on who we're fighting in the city?" asks Espera, and Nate says all he knows about are the black-pajama guys, the Fedayeen. "Guys in pajamas stopped two Marine regiments?" asks Espera. Yeah. These are the Baathist guys that are still loyal to Saddam. Talk about your ultimate "my CO is God" thing. Even without the training they're probably scarier than the actual Republican Guard. "You know Poke," Brad says, "Guys in black pajamas did all right in Vietnam too. You gotta respect the pajama." Wynn suggests that, what with all the nonstop artillery, they probably won't have too much trouble. Nate estimates the population at around 400,000, just as a huge explosion rocks the town. "Scratch a few off that number," Espera says easily. Nobody really says anything. Nate and Gunny Wynn take off for Battalion.
In the Humvee, Evan is scribbling while Trombley tries to think of names for his son. "James Alvarez Trombley" is met with a scalding "That's stupid" from Ray. Trombley's reply is excellent: "You're stupid!" Brad tells Gabe to switch turrets with Walt Hasser, Espera's gunner, because he's got more fifty cal experience. "I'm trading you for a Mexican," Espera shouts to Walt. "You're in Brad's truck now." As Gabe is getting down off the truck, Evan asks about a picture of his girlfriend that he showed Garza earlier. Gabe says he thinks Leon has it, and Brad chuckles. "You let these plebeians look at a photograph of your girlfriend?" Walt starts loading all his crap on top of Brad's Humvee, and Ray awesomely calls out to him without opening his eyes, "Hey, Walt, you keep it down? I'm having trouble hearing the artillery." Never have I gone from hate to love so fast with a person; I didn't even really like Ray in the book.