The Second World War: PART 5 - Roger Farrier - Paris (1944) #2
When the café on the corner first opened its doors in August 1923, Pierre Goddard and his father thought their clientele would consist mostly of businessmen.
Twenty-one years later, his father long gone from polio, with shoulder-length grey hair in a bun (the physical manifestation of a man’s mid-life crisis) and a World War in full swing – it had become frequented by Nazis. There were nine people drinking that afternoon. Five were German and quite drunk and didn’t notice an escaped British PoW leave his Kronenberg and run into the gentleman’s lavatory.
Roger Farrier burst through the door. He closed a toilet cubicle and ran both taps at full strength. He pressed the hand dryer and filled the room with noise. Farrier slipped his right hand into his waistband. He drew out a 7.65mm. He rushed over to the entrance and knelt behind it: his pistol concentrated at knee height. Reaching into his pocket, he came back with a suppressor. Quickly, he screwed it on with the gun focussed on its intended target.
His first shot had to hit the man’s centre mass.
Farrier grounded himself, exploring the world around him. As far as bathrooms go, it was quite clean and spacious. Tiled in black and white, it had two mirrors, two basins, and two cubicles. The overhead lamp was on the blink but that would give him an edge. The door opened. An outstretched Luger went first, the rest of the man following slowly and at a distance. It was ready to fire on the cubicle should someone burst through it.
But Farrier didn’t have a plan.
He stilled his breath and wondered what to do in a firefight. What if the four other men already knew what was going on? Would it all be over in a heartbeat or would they try and take him? Where would they come from? The corner. Down past the bar, and owner, and along the corridor to him. But he couldn’t hear a thing. The elbow extended now, the Luger canvassing.
The moment had been opportune – a second’s hesitation would’ve resulted in his gun bending round the door and letting off a shot. At this proximity, he wouldn’t have missed. Instead, Farrier’s body twisted up off the floor like a viper. With his arm and back in it, he shoved the door shut. There was a high-pitched squeal and the Luger dropped. Farrier grabbed the arm and clumsily threw the German into a corner.
Farrier went for the headshot. Missed. Blew a wall tile instead and deafened the man. The light went out. There was a wailing cry in the dark and the light came on: the Nazi rushed him. The second shot went wide. Farrier was sent reeling. His Walther clattered to the floor.
He recovered himself and joined his man in the middle of the floor. Farrier double jabbed the head: none connected. The Nazi’s feet stepped out of the line of fire and swung for the fences in wild hooks: one connected – winding him. Hunched over, he realised he was for it now.
The German’s two huge hands grabbed for the gun in his boot. Soon he’d draw it. Farrier sucked empty air and slugged forward. Headbutting him.
The terrible face, its eyes shining, mouth swallowing the blood. It wasn’t easy to look at. It gave Roger time to replace some of the missing air in his lungs. Slowly, the gloved hands reached for him.
There was shouting from outside the door.
Farrier ducked, swerved, bobbed his head around in a circle. He gave himself some room and when the blond head jerked forwards, he caved in one of those shining eyes. The light went out again then came on. His chin sat on his chest now and he crashed over.
The button of the hand drier slid back out. The only sound now was running water. Roger staggered over to the basin and loosened his tie. He rubbed his hands, bloodied and bruised, and splashed himself with the cool soothing liquid. He explored his sensations. Felt over where his ribs hurt. The bastard had worn brass knuckles!
Farrier removed a handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiped his face. There was something he couldn’t see on it, something that needed to come off. But it was someone else entirely scrubbing at his face in the mirror. It showed.
Somebody screamed. Roger froze. Then there was the ratatat of machine gun fire outside. Farrier leaped sideways. He hit his head on the wall and his ears rang. His fingers scrambled for a gun and came back with nothing. He closed his eyes, ready for them now.
Then the shooting ceased.
Nails dug into him. Farrier kicked out blindly. His shoe connected; it made no difference.
The German! What metal was he made of?
He was now on his feet. The hands clawing at him. Trying to grind Farrier in their fists. Roger tried to push himself back into the corner, but it was no use. He was going. The eyes and teeth flashed once more, victorious. He’d somehow gotten hold of Farrier’s Walther in the shooting and now had it against his groin.
‘Phut!’ Farrier felt the shudder. ‘Phut-phut-phut.’
The door swung open then back and forth before finally closing. A pint of red matter had splattered on the cubicle door. The German froze, his grip had become limp. Almost half-standing, he turned on his heel and pitched over forward. The head crashed back against the tiles and the other nine pints quickly followed.
Farrier remained on the floor, panting.
In the steady, singing silence, a small noise came from the door and there was a moment before it flung wide open. He saw what looked to be a woman.
She was holding a Sten Mk. II. Her long, curly hair stretched all the way down to her shoulders. The red was as vivid as a morning sun. She was beautiful. Her greenish-blue eyes, her long silky lashes were wide with apprehension. The eyes blinked when they found the figure of Roger Farrier, half on his back, half soaking in another man’s blood.
‘Anglais?’ she asked.