Paul Ferenc died today.
I met Paul in some ex-pat bar by a lagoon. He had work, and I needed a friend – or the closest I could get to a friend in this country. He used to be in the IDF; now, like the rest of us, he was a gun for hire in this mess of a country, his hair bleached by the African sun. We worked together on quite a few jobs. But our relationship was mainly characterised by absence; I’d not see him for days at a time, only occasionally bumping into him at safe houses when he had work. Always doing push-ups; I never understood how he didn’t go mad in there on his own.
I think we all might be mad already.
He saved my life countless times; dragging me to safety, covering me with gunfire whilst I reset dislocated bones, yanked slugs out of my arm with my multi-tool. And I returned the favour; often, I’d see the blue cloud rising from the smoke grenades he carried with him for emergencies, and run to his aid.
He was a tough guy. Nothing a syrette or two of morphine couldn’t sort out; always back on his feet in no time.
Today, I was off to destroy some compressors in a scrapyard; Paul reckoned we could cause more havoc if I got him a timetable for fuel convoys to the junkyard. It seemed like a reasonable deal. Most of his schemes weren’t too bad, but I baulked at the time he seemed to be financing retiring to Thailand through my sweat.
I got him the timetable, even if it did involve destroying half of a fuel depot out north. He suggested I meet him after I’d made a mess of the junkyard.
With the compressor gone, I headed northwards, ducking the machine-gun fire sputtering through the jungle. Through my scope, I saw Paul, shotgun blazing. Clearly, the convoy was well guarded. I lost sight of him, distracted by two mercs with RPKs; by the time my private gunfight was over, I couldn’t see Paul.
Then I saw the blue smoke.
I darted over to him. He looked in a bad way – he always looked in a bad way, to be honest – and I had morphine to spare. I gave him a shot, waited for the glint in his eyes to return and for him to spring up. Nothing. He asked for another, and I yanked the cap off with my teeth, drove it into the vein in his neck. Nothing. His eyes began to roll, vacantly.
It looked bad this time. I could probably spare him another syrette, but I was going to have to keep some for myself. The grip of his pistol jutted out of his jacket, and I began to thing about alternatives to just leaving him here.
One more shot, straight into the neck. His eyes rolled back for the last time, and he was still. No need for the pistol; no need for any more morphine. I closed his eyes.
There was nothing much else I could do. Life ends out here bloody and quickly, and I had to get back to the town. He’d been a good buddy, if not exactly a friend. I dropped my Russian-made pistol and took his large Desert Eagle from his waistband. Something to remember him by.
The gun was corroded, practically mud-brown; no wonder he’d gone down in the firefight at the convoy. But it was all that was left of Paul, now; I squashed it into my holster and drove towards Pala.
On the way there, a small group of mercs opened fire on me. Leaping from my jeep, I opened fire with the .50 pistol. Three shots and the rusty gun jams. I duck behind the hood, slapping the gun with my other hand, racking the slide to clear the jammed cartridge. No-one would come for me if I went down; my only backup was lying dead in the jungle, full of lead and morphine. All he left me was this gun, and it was likely to get myself killed.
The stuck cartridge cleared, and I opened fire again.
I arrived at Pala a while later. Paul Ferenc’s pistol lay in the dust at the cockfights, its slide half-locked with rust, its last victims a few feet away.
I went looking for new work, a new friend, and a new gun.
I’ll be writing something more substantial about Far Cry 2 in the near future. It’s a world that’s immersed me far more than I’d imagined it ever could, and documenting this morning’s events seemed like a good way of starting to move towards talking about it.