I finished off the last of the terrible Burger Shot coffee and tossed the big cup into the bin, stepping into the toilet. After dropped Sweet back at his, I'd gone home and turned on the TV, lying on the couch in hopes of falling into a sleep deep enough to escape that horrible fucking dream I had the night before. No luck though, I just lay there feeling more and more tired, so tired I couldn't even fucking keep up with the plotline of a rerun of The Cosby Show, getting confused trying to figure out just exactly where the fuck Cosby's office was in that big fucking house of his... the fucking basement? What? Pregnant women walking down stone steps in a Liberty City Winter to see him? That was all kinds of fucked up.
Finally it all too much for me and I got up and headed out to the Gym, working out for a bit to try and get rid of this tired, washed out feeling I had. All that did was make me feel more exhausted, and all the coffee I was drinking had me pissing like a racehorse. So finally, with it getting late and me still no closer to feeling like I could sleep, I headed out to Burger Shot to see my homie, my friend, and my client.
I stepped into the toilet at Burger Shot, past a big homie looking like he just smell something terrible, and find Loc in their cleaning the floors... the next big thing to hit the Gangsta Rap scene swishing his mop around someone's piss.
He look up at me and grin, kind of shrugging like he couldn't believe it either,"Hey Carl, what up man?"
I yawned and looked in the mirror as he went back to mopping, not liking the bags under my eyes.... shit I needed to get some sleep. But first to deal with business, like handling the ego of a smart homie who was making himself stupid,"Hey Loc, as your manager, it my responsibility to delegate and shit, take the pressure off of you, you know? So, uhh....."
"Yeah homie, I have," he admit, his voice lower than normal, not fronting for once,"But who?"
"I ain't in the rap game, you know," I tell him. Didn't mean I couldn't be his manager, shit how many jazz musicians had Jewish guys making money off of them,"That ain't my thing. But we'll have to think about something."
Loc stood holding his mop like a cock, stroking his hand up and down it without even thinking, so I had to turn away... shit Jeffrey, what they do to you in prison, man? But all the time that brain that should have been taking him to College was working, and he came up with something, he came up with an idea.
"How about if I get somebody to write something for me, only they didn't know about it?" he say, a big grin on his face,"I think I just might have found a ghost writer!"
I didn't know what the fuck he was talking about.... but it seem he like the idea.... he REALLY like the idea.
He finally stop riding that mop-cock to tell me his idea.... he wanted me to steal Madd Dogg's rhyme book from his mansion up in the hills above Vinewood.
Like I said, he had an idea, I never said it was a good one.
"Let me get this straight, Loc," I say,"You want me to... to break into Madd Dogg's mansion? Break into the mansion of an OG whose favorite hobbies are drinking and shooting guns. Break into the mansion of a nigga with his own personal army of fucking security assholes .... you want me - a black man in Grove Street colors - to go up into the richest, whitest part of Los Santos and break into the mansion of a crazy ass paranoid nigga who moved up there because he was scared people was gonna steal his shit if he stayed down in the hood?"
"Shit man, I thought you my manager!" complain Loc,"I thought you were GANGSTA! What's the problem? You just fucking ninja yo' way in there, ice those niggas with a knife or something, slit they throats, get yo'self into Madd Dogg's studio, steal his rhyme book, ninja yo' way out.... GANGSTA!"
"You put a lot of thought into this, huh, Loc?" I say as he stand there with a big grin on his face, looking proud of himself,"Alot of thought into how I gonna do all this amazing shit."
"Hey CJ, I'm the brains, you the muscle," he grin, making me feel like about a million bucks in my current fucked up condition,"All you gotta do is sneak in and sneak out with the book."
I closed my eyes and ran my hand over my face, feeling so fucking tired.... shit, if I tried to hide in a dark corner of Madd Dogg's mansion I was just as likely to fall asleep.... but on the other hand, get a hold of Madd Dogg's rhymes, even a shitty rapper like Loc would be able to turn the music world on its ear... Madd Dogg was just that good, no matter if Sweet didn't want to hear his shit anymore since he moved to Vinewood.
"Okay, I got you on this one, Loc," I say at last,"But I'm too tired for all this other shit... I got an idea of my own that just might work, last thing those motherfuckers guarding Madd Dogg's be expecting."
I'd just fucking run in beating the shit out of anything that got in my way.
Loc was waiting outside Burger Shot for me when I come staggering around the corner holding the book in my hand, waiting around like it ain't nothing but a thing, what he ask me.
"Hey Loc," I say, fighting back a big yawn,"I got what you wanted."
"Holmes, you ice cold, dude!" grin Loc, giving me a big homie hug, holding on just a little too tight, a little too long... or maybe that just my tired mind playing tricks on me,"Oh man, Scipio gonna bust a nut when he hear what I got now!"
"Scipio?" I ask, confused,"Madd Dogg's manager?"
"Yeah, I'll just change some of Dogg's words around a little, work up a sample on the sound system and get it to him," grin Loc,"He'll be freaking over Madd Dogg getting robbed, be eager to sign me up and get me out as a distraction while Madd Dogg come up with new shit.... I'll have made it, baby!"
"Sign with Scipio? Loc, I'm your manager man."
"Haha, CJ," grin Loc, slapping my shoulder,"You funny man, look, I catch you later, gotta go work this shit up into a sample, I'll see you later okay, maybe buy you a nice new car stereo with my sign-up cash... I look after my homies, CJ, I remember the people that helped me out on the way up!"
I just stood, staring as he walk back into the Burger Shot, probably to grab a meal, and I just.... I.... I was too tired, couldn't deal with this shit.... that Mickey Mouse sounding motherfucker just played me? I.... shit, I couldn't deal with this.
I was going to go home and, no matter what, I was going to get some sleep.
"Get in the car, you mind me, boy," Moms say to me, me standing beside the Green Sabre, her sitting in the passenger seat, Brian behind her, the driver's seat empty.... waiting for me.
"Who did this to you, Momma?" I ask,"Where you wanna go?"
"I don't want to go, got no choice," say Moms,"And you're the reason I'm going, me and Brian, we're just waiting for you to drive us."
"Drive us, CJ," say Brian from the back,"Drive us."
"What you mean I'm the reason?" I ask.
"You know, boy," says Moms, eyes hard,"You know what you did to Brian, what you did to me. It's your fault, and it's because of you we have to go where we're going.... and you're coming with us."
"I ain't going nowhere," I say, then realize I was sitting in the driver's seat, hands on the wheel.
"Wear your seatbelt, Carl," says Moms, sitting prim and proper beside me,"Mind your mother, now."
"What is this?" I ask, the Sabre's engine starting and the car moving even though I didn't do anything, passing Tenpenny who stood quietly waving and smiling at us,"Where we going?"
"We're going where you sent us, Carl," say Moms calmly, taking out her knitting,"We're going to hell."
"AHHHH SHIT!" I shout, rolling out of the bed and hitting the floor hard, stinging my nose and making my eyes water,"SHIT! Shit.... shit....."
Another fucking dream, worse than the last one, shit.... but already the dream's hold on me fading, replaced by another worry... how much sleep had I gotten? I crawl up off the floor and look at the alarm, and I actually almost felt like crying..... 30 minutes! 30 FUCKING MINUTES!?!
"Ahhhhh Goooodddd," I moan, sitting on the bed and cupping my head in my hands, no fucking sleep, no fucking sleep ever I'd never sleep again just get more and more tired and get 30 minutes sleep and then have those fucking dreams ahhh shit.
I switched on the radio and groan, hearing the last thing I want to hear. It looked like I kicked up a shitstorm something fierce breaking into Madd Dogg's the way I had, media was all over it and so was the police, with lots of claims of racism coming out of fucking nowhere that didn't make any fucking sense. Talkback on WCTR was full of all kinds of nutcases claiming Madd Dogg's rhymes held Government secrets in them, and Madd Dogg's agent - crazy little fuck called Scipio - been on Radio Los Santos saying it persecution of the black man by the white man, and all but saying it was Jews that stole Madd Dogg's rhymes.
The weird thing was, as I got up and moved about, showering for an hour just standing under the water, tidying up around the house, eating cereal and keep the radio or TV or both on the whole time..... Madd Dogg never said nothing. Gave no interviews, didn't make an appearance on television or an interview on radio. Nobody was saying exactly what had been stolen or whether it just a gang thing or how many people broke in.... but some people were saying that HE dead.
I sat on the couch in the afternoon, letting the sun shine on me and feeling tacky and sticky and dirty even after my long ass shower... knowing I wasn't, that it was just how tired I was fucking with my head. I thought about Loc, about how he used me.... wanting to be pissed at him but too tired to work myself up, besides which.... I'd been using him, looking to make him for my own benefit as much as I was trying to help a friend. Maybe all anybody is... is a selfish prick doing what the fuck they want to get themselves over.
I sat staring at nothing, mind full of white noise, sitting in a state like I was sleeping without sleeping, the world shrinking to nothing, walls seeming to spread out so far that I was sitting in nothing, nothing, nothing, nothi-
The phone rang.
I came back to myself with a jolt, shaking my head in surprise and feeling my heart beating too fast, breath coming too quickly, like I about to hyperventilate.... this fucking insomnia, shit. I grab my phone off the armrest on the couch and put it to my ear, and heard what sound like a crying Mickey Mouse begging me to come save him.
"Loc, that you?" I ask.
"Shit, CJ..... you gotta..... I can't believe he..... CJ, CJ you gotta come here quick."
"You got problems, talk to your fucking manager," I say.
"Yo' fuck you, man, get yo' ass over here, fucking Scipio, I...... motherfucker...... motherfucking asshole tell me..... GET YO' ASS OVER HERE, CJ!"
The line went dead.
I just kind of stared at the phone, half smiling, half worried, then let out a long sigh and hauled my ass out the couch.... off to run another fucking errand for a "homie".
I drove through the streets, pulling up at the lights and closing my eyes for a second.... and then jolting up hearing horns honking behind me, seeing the light was green... shit, I fell asleep at the fucking wheel. I started driving again, but stalled the car, and the horns started again and I just lost it, screaming and banging at the wheel until I was exhausted..... other cars all moving on around me, wide eyes and circles of faces staring at me as I shouted and punched and cried, tears streaming down my face.
Finally I got myself under control, wiping my sleeve across my face the clear the tears and snot and spit and took a deep breath, then started driving again, heading towards the Burger Shot. I pulled up outside and stepped out the car, shaking my head as I stared out over the beach, feeling the grain in my eyes, the bags under my sockets that must have looked black around my eyes.... shit, I must have looked like a fucking junkie. I stepped inside, looking around for Loc, not seeing him everywhere, and stepped up to the counter to ask where he was. You think that would be easy enough, but of course, nothing ever fucking easy for me.
Oh fuck me.
Yeah, our Appliance Technician called in sick so Jeff- LOC, he got promoted," the minimum wage monkey tell me, then just stand staring at me.
"So," he say slowly, like I the dumb one,"He's out back cleaning the fryer."
I nodded and just headed out back, and if the asshole thought there was anything wrong with that, he didn't say, just letting me head out there, where I found Loc scrubbing out the deep fat fryers.
"What's up, Loc?" I ask, trying to keep my voice as calm as possible.
"CJ," he say, a big smile on his face, suddenly my best friend, which mean he must want something, but he calmed down enough now since he phone me. He tapped his inside pocket where I guess Madd Dogg's Rhyme book was,"What's up, homie? Hey - my shit is so tight right now, it's about to bust!"
"So.... you happy now, homie?" I ask him.
"Happy?" he ask, then look around the kitchen carefully,"Man, hell, no! I can't take this shit much longer!"
Yeah, I heard that.
"Man," he complain,"I'm an artiste! I'd rather be inside! I can't get a deal for nothing. Motherfuckers always wanna keep a nigga down, and that Scipio, Madd Dogg's manager, is putting it on me real heavy, man."
So here we get to it, he'd contacted Scipio, and he didn't like what he'd heard, and now he was turning back to good old reliable, stupid, dependable Carl to help him out.
"He crampin' my style for real," Loc keep complaining, but I'd had enough.
"Heavy?" I say,"Man, he's five foot three!"
"Bu... but that fool strong!" Loc hit back,"Man... we gotta take him out... he done blackballed me, man!"
Blackballed? Jesus Loc, how exactly you approach that crazy midget? Hang on... take him out?
"...n't get in the game no way," Loc was saying,"I told you I'm an artist, a communicator... and nobody can even hear my message."
You mean Madd Dogg's message, you fucking manipulating asshole..... what he mean take him out?
"...ing around, telling everybody I'm whack," Loc was still complaining, wrapped up in his own little world, and I was tired of hearing that fucked up nasal Mickey Mouse voice of his complaining, so I tossed him a bone.
"well, he obviously ain't heard your new shit," I say,"That shit is outrageous."
"That's what I'm talking about, man!" he say, puffing up like a fucking bird,"Down, with a frown, on the town, a sad clown....."
Then he leaned forward, cutting out his rhymes, eyes narrowing,"I want you to take that motherfucker out!"
I stood staring at him, feeling like an idiot, but also confused and pissed off. Yeah, I'd killed before, would probably kill again.... but there was a difference between taking out gangbangers that had chosen the life, or cops who knew what they were getting into.... and killing some crazy coked up midget because he told a shitty wannabe rapper that they were a shitty wannabe rapper. But Loc had started now, he wasn't going to stop.
"Listen, he's gonna be attending some awards ceremony," he tell me, all conspiracy like, up too close to me, making me feel uncomfortable,"And that's the only time he leaves Dogg's side."
He stepped back, staring at me, challenging me to say something, and I just.... it was too much, I couldn't fucking take this anymore.
I went outside and sat down, feeling like a huge weight was bearing down on my shoulders, I should have told Loc to go fuck himself for trying to use my friendship like that... but I was just too tired to deal with this shit anymore.... I just wanted to sleep, was that so much to ask? I just felt like utter shit and it felt like everybody was using me and I was so tired of it all how could things get any worse?
And then my phone rang.
"Hello?" I asked, lifting it to my ear and asking what was happening, and when I heard the person on the other end, for a second I thought I'd fallen asleep and started dreaming again.
It was Tenpenny.
"Don't try and hit me up with that ghetto babble, boy!" he shout into the phone at me, my eyes wide to hear from him.
"Officer Tenpenny?" I say, still not believing it,"How'd you get my number?"
"Ways and means, you piece of shit," he say, and I could hear him laughing at me in his voice, then his voice go all quiet,"You been trying to avoid me?"
"FUCK YOU, MOTHERFUCKER!" I yelled, and hang up on him.
"I SAID you been trying to avoid me?" he yell again, and instead of telling him fuck you and hanging up like I'd just imagined, I just.... gave up.
"No sir," I say, hating myself for saying it,"I've just been busy, that's all."
"You're not busy unless you're doing something for us, you understand?" he say to me, voice low, dangerous, mean. This time I didn't even think about a smart answer, I just told him yeah, loud and clear.
"Nice to hear it, Carl," he say, evil grin in his voice,"We stop in most lunch breaks at the doughnut place in the middle of Market.... you call in there tomorrow, we need to talk."
And with that, he hang up.
I just stood holding the phone, listening to the dial tone, taking in what had just been said..... I'd been running errands for everyone till people started taking me for granted, including my own homies.... and now Loc wanted me to kill some crazy midget and Tenpenny - who'd been sniffing around Ryder and Smoke, was reigning me in by the leash.
"Fuck it," I said, and something broke in me, something that had held me up the last five days of no sleep, crazy shit, riding all over Los Santos, attacking the fucking military, chasing down drug dealers, smoking weed with Ryder, dancing the night away, breaking into Madd Dogg's.... I just.... I just broke under the strain, I couldn't take it no more.
And I could only see one way out.
"Security team, the Principle is being kidnapped!" squawked a voice over the radio in my car as I peeled out from the awards ceremony,"Rescue him at all costs!"
"WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU!?!" shout Scipio in back, trying to get the door open, but it locked, and he can't get through the divider between me and him,"Where's my usual driver? Unlock this fucking door!"
"Scipio baby, what's going on?" asked the eye candy he'd taken to the ceremony with him, some high class whore or hanger-on attracted to power.
"You been badmouthing OG Loc," I tell him through the car intercom,"Loc's my homie, and I can't have that."
"OG who? Loc? That fucked up little sewer rat? That piece of shit who can't rhyme to save his life?" shout Scipio, fronting big time, whether to impress me or the girl I don't know,"I'm dealing with fucking Madd Dogg, you fucking moron! I got big fish to fry, I don't deal with piddling little liquid shits like him!"
"You got a dirty mouth," I say, feeling the pressure on my shoulders and my eyes lifting as I turned the corner and thundered down the road towards the pier,"We're gonna wash it out with a billion gallons of seawater."
Shit, I was actually enjoying this.... what I had in mind, it was actually.... liberating.
"I can't swim, you fucking psycho!" he yelled, shoving the whore aside with his hand when she grab at him for comfort, pressing his face against the divider.
"Ah, so I've heard," I grinned, feeling almost dizzy, so close to freedom now, to finally sleeping.
"What you want, fool, money?" yell Scipio, then grab the whore by the shoulder and pull her forward,"I got bitches, loads o'fine bitches, take 'em!"
I ignored him, ignored the look of shock on the whore's face, turning out onto the Marina, pressing down on the accelerator and blasting towards the end of the pier.
"YOU'LL DIE TOO!" Scipio screamed as the whore burst into horrified tears,"YOU IDIOT! YOU'LL DIE TOO!"
I smiled, feeling the weight lift off of my shoulders fully at last.