I punched in Denise's number just after four in the afternoon and she pick up on the second ring, and I grin, knowing she was waiting for my call.
"Hey this is Denise Robinson," she say, acting cool, but she already blown it by picking up so early.
"Hey baby-girl," I say,"It's CJ, Carl."
"I know who CJ is, silly," she giggle, putting some tease into her voice,"Heeeey Carl."
"Hey I'm sorry I didn't call yet," I say,"Been dealing with some business, y'know?"
"Oh that's okay I wasn't hanging out for the call or anything," she say, breezy, like she don't care, and I grin wider.
"Anyways, I got some business to take of today, but I'm free tomorrow, you wanna do something? See a movie? Go dancing? Have dinner? Take a ride? Anything you want, baby-girl, I'm yours."
"Hmmmm, am I free tomorrow?" she say, teasing some more, and I heard her giggle,"I get home just after four, anytime after that is good."
"Okay, I'll let you know before I come," I say, and she giggle louder.
"Oh Carl, you'd better!"
"Oh you naaasty," I laugh.
"You have no idea, Carl," she tease,"Maybe I'll show you tomorrow... maybe."
I hung up shaking my head and grinning.... damn, this girl was going to be a lot of fun, I could tell. But business first, I pulled on my shoes and headed for the door, ready to head around to Smoke's to see about helping him with this "business" he had come up with, a way to bring in more money for Grove Street.
I got to his place and walked up the driveway, pausing and frowning when I saw a flash of green out the corner of my eye. I looked but didn't see anything but Smoke's old car, and figured I was still getting the last of my sleep deprivation out of my system, even though I'd taken a good long nap after getting back from dumping the dead Ballas into one of Smoke's storage garages. I headed up to the side door to knock, figuring maybe Smoke was getting some shuteye too.
"What's happening, Smoke?" I ask, confused to see him lurking around in his garage... but figuring he was the flash of green I saw out the corner of my eye before.
"Chillin'," he say, then sigh and settle his ass down on a box full of shit that settled alot under his weight,"Hiding, to be honest.... I called Kane."
"Kane? Ballas' Kane?" I asked, surprised. Kane was like the Ballas version of Sweet, only except of being a stand-up player with a strong (if a little fucked) sense of right and wrong like Sweet, Kane was just a vicious little fuck.
"Yeah, I told him where to find the bodies we dumped today... figured they mommas deserved bodies to bury, you know?" Smoke say, taking off his glasses and leaning back to look at the garage roof, looking tired as fuck, like how I must have looked a few days ago,"He weren't happy, made it clear they'd be looking for payback."
"Fuck them, they killed my Moms," I say back, pissed, and Smoke just shake his head.
"We don't know who killed your Moms, CJ," he say,"Some say it was a Green Sabre that drove by shooting at Sweet, some say they was Ballas driving, some say Vagos, some say Aztecas.... some motherfuckers say it was Temple Drive or Seville Boulevard families wearing green!"
"Well fuck them anyway," I say, still angry,"They rolled deep into Grove Street, man, our home, looking to put us down like fucking dogs.... and they got bit. If Kane got a fucking problem with that, maybe he in the wrong game, maybe it time he retire his ass before someone retire it for him."
"Heh, Carl, you like your brother sometimes," smile Smoke, still looking sad, then put on his glasses and lifted himself up off of the box with a groan,"Wanna go for a ride?"
I blinked, surprised, then shrugged, yeah sure.
I hopped in and we started driving, Smoke looking quietly out the window, not saying anything. The silence got a bit much for me, and I switched on Radio Los Santos, and what I heard surprised me.
"Yo this is Julio G, breaking the sound of the streets on Radio Los Santos," came Julio G's voice out of the radio,"Hey man, I've been hearing, the word on the street is that Grove Street is back."
Me and Smoke turned and looked at each other, surprised.
"...uys make sure you're taking out the bad guys," Julio was chuckling,"I'm just trying to get to my car and drive through the smog, so the more carjackers you get off the street the better. Okay, you're tuned in to Radio Los Santos, and now I got some Ice Cube to play for you al-"
"Holy shit, CJ," say Smoke, turning the radio down,"Grove Street really is coming back."
"For life, nigga," I say, slapping hands with him,"The whole world gonna know."
We drove on, both of us grinning, but as we drove on I started to frown, thinking about other shit that had me down before I got my sleep, shit that hadn't gone away even if I had managed to sleep.
Tenpenny, to be specific.
"Hey Smoke.... this better not be another cop errand, man."
"Nah, man, this is strictly for the homies," he say, seeming cheered up now after hearing Julio G namedrop us on the radio,"But I gotta be honest with you, CJ. We could be gettin' into some heavy shit, baby."
I threw my head back and laughed, fat man always thinking, always scheming, coming up with plans and schemes in a way that no one else ever be able to put together,"What you into, Smoke?"
"Lot a shit 'bout to go down, Carl," he say, looking out the window at some Ballas standing on a corner as we went by,"Families coming back, Ballas pushing base, Russian cats with nothin' to lose about to bust some ass...."
"Russians?" I asked, confused... Russians?"
"Now all my life I been told to fear the Ruskies, but I ain't never even met one," say Smoke, tapping his finger against the car door,"Then the wall comes down and we're all supposed to be friends."
"Russians?" I say again,"For real?"
"Yeah, communism dead and they all looking to be capitalists, but what do commies got to sell, Carl? Guns, that's what? The military all that the Soviets put money into, so they buy and sell guns now, international arms smuggling, baby, big money to be had. We hand over the excess shit you and Ryder got from your armory job, that gets us in the door with major players. Once we in the door, CJ, there no getting us out, big money, put base slanging to shame."
I kept driving, looking ahead, thinking, Smoke staring at me but not saying anything, waiting for me to come to my own conclusions.
"Okay," I say at last,"So what you need me for? Muscle? Or just looking tough and black?"
"That's my homie, CJ," laugh Smoke,"These Russians don't see many brothers, so they don't know how to act. You my backup, homie, come in and intimidate them if things go wrong."
We pulled up outside a skyscraper in Downtown, a big ass building where white people spent all day spending money and making money and who knows what the fuck else white people do with they lives. Me and Smoke got out the car and started moving towards the door, a fine ass white girl moving across our path, working her hips, showing off not a bad ass for a skinny white girl, throwing a little smile my way as she went past. As we reached the door, Smoke laid an arm across my chest.
The white girl smiled at me, turning in her seat and pushing back the chair next to her with one foot, showing off a long leg ending in high heels.
"Damn," I whispered low to myself, then grinned and began moving towards her, lowering my shoulders, kind of moving forward like I dancing, knowing she probably had an idea about black men already and figuring I could play that t-
"MOTHERFUCKERS!" yelled Smoke's voice from the other side of the door, and then I heard blasts going off and more shouting.
"Shit," I whispered, then forgot all about the girl, charging shoulder first through the door.
Straight into a fucking warzone.
"SMOKE WHAT THE FUCK!" I yelled as he tossed me an AK from a pile lying spilled over on the ground next to a case... what I figured set off the problems,"WHAT'S GOING ON!?!"
"NOT NOW, CJ!" he yell back,"ICE THOSE FOOLS!"
"BIG SMOKE, YOU MAKE BIG MISTAKE!" yell a voice, thick fucking Russian accent, like the shit you hear in the movies... somehow I always thought that the movies made it worse than it was, but shit, they really did sound like that.
"WATCH YOURSELF, CJ!" yell Smoke, and was he...? Yeah, motherfucker was laughing,"I THINK THEY'S PISSED!"
"You think?" I mutter to myself as shards of marble blast off the expensive decorations in the lobby of the building, fucking Russians in suits that cost more than my car blasting at our cover.... Smoke getting us into shit way over the head of a fucking street gang. Still, only one way out now... time to kill some Commies.
"Stick with me CJ, we outta here, baby!" shouted Smoke, rushing across the lobby past dead Russians, both of us grabbing up money that had dropped out of the briefcase held by one of the Russians. We'd left another bloodbath behind, my second in a day, only these guys weren't half toked up or drunk Ballas rolling high on drugs and big words to shoot at us with stolen guns.... these were fucking Russians, Commies trained from birth to hate and kill Americans... they weren't even really human, more like fucking robots.
We rushed out the back door, Smoke obviously thinking we could disappear onto the streets.... and ran straight into more Russians.
"Shit, Smoke, we in over our heads, dog!" I shouted, ducking behind cover as the Russians opened fire on us, screaming shit at us in their fucked up backwards alphabet language.
"We been in over our heads since the day we were born, CJ!" laugh Smoke, reaching up over his head without looking and firing wildly,"A great man fights uphill to achieve his goals! A lazy man rolls downhill and gains nothing!"
"WHAT!?!" I shouted.
"KILL THE RUSSIANS, CJ!" he yell back.
We ran past dead bodies, seeing ovals of white faces pressed against the windows of the skyscraper and the other buildings surrounding us, shocked but thrilled, imagining already what they going to tell they wife or husband or boyfriend or girlfriend, about a little slice of ghetto coming to Downtown. Smoke ran almost dainty down the steep stairs, sounding more wiped out from the stairs than taking out the Russians, and came to a stop next to a motorcycle with the keys sitting in the ignition, something that must have belonged to one of the Russians.
"Remember those Vagos and San Fierra Rifas on the train, CJ?" he say, turning to grin sweating and laughing.
"Yeah," I say, looking around, hearing shouting, more Russian accents calling out, a fucking army coming after us.
"Time to return the favor baby, get on!" he laugh, and jumped on the bike and kicked it into gear as I jumped on the back.
"They after us on a bike, Smoke!" I yell.
"Waste any motherfucker that follows us!" shout Smoke back.
Well, shit... I could do that!
Bullets just sparked and bounced off the truck, not doing nothing, and I realized I was wasting my time. I lowered the gun and started blasting at the tires, finding it hard to aim the way the bike was moving. Smoke rode around a car, getting it between us and the Russians in the truck.... but that didn't stop them.
I blasted at the truck, shaking my head in disbelief to see how committed the Russians were to taking us out, and wondering what the fuck Smoke could have done to piss them off THIS much.
"We got bikes on our six - smash it Smoke!" I yelled.
"HOLD ON TIGHT, BABY!" Smoke yelled, and gunned it... straight for the back of a convoy of two buses and a truck right in front of us.
"HOLY SHIT!" I yelled as we slammed onto the road in front of the buses, my eyes meeting the eyes of the bus driver, who couldn't believe what he seeing anymore than I did. I shook my head as the Russians pushed their truck forward, and took the chance to aim carefully and fire right into the front tire, hearing it explode and seeing the truck lose control as we turned the corner and they couldn't, slamming right ahead.... straight into another bus.
"Hahaha," laugh Smoke,"I'll never dis public transportation again!"
We twisted around the next corner and found the road blocked ahead of us, Russians standing between three cars, guns aimed right at us. Smoke turned the bike on a dime and I almost got thrown off, not expecting it, righting myself at the last second as Smoke let the bike sit and I opened fire on the Russians, who were still trying to correct from where they thought we was going to end up.
Another car full of Russians came around the corner from where the truck had hit the bus, and Smoke gunned the bike again.
"Look, Carl," he say,"All I know is they're real pissed with us right now! Hold on though, I got a idea!"
He gunned the engine but didn't move us, engine sound rising while I kept the Russians back with wild gunfire. I looked ahead of us and realized we were aimed directly at the old Flood Control.
"Smoke, what you think?" I yelled,"Flood control's a dead end, man!"
But he ignore me, letting the bike go, sending us off the road, through the air and down into the big concrete ditch that would pour floodwater out to the sea if Los Santos ever got hit with crazy weather.
"To hell with that, we had to lose those cars!" shout Smoke as we land, Russian bikes speeding down the onramp into Flood Control behind us,"Don't worry about that, I know a way out, up past Grove Street!"
"Keep holding them off, CJ!" yelled Smoke,"We be there soon!"
I kept shooting and Russians fell off of bikes, bikes without drivers rolled and hit other bikes, knocked cars of course, but the Russians kept coming. We drove through a tunnel, traffic thundering overhead, barely heard as I held the gun close and fire and fired, replacing ammo from pockets quickly getting light, wondering how much longer we could hold out.... and then heard a louder noise from overhead, heavy rumbling like thunder getting louder as we came out the other end of the tunnel.
"Oh shit, now the truck's found us again!" I yelled to Smoke.
"Man, stop being so negative!" shouted Smoke back,"Focus on the good news!"
"Such as?" I yell.
I couldn't help but laugh, and Smoke joined me, then shout out a curse as the bike began to slow, the Russians gaining on us.
"I think the gearbox is screwed up on this thing!" he yell,"I can't get no speed!"
"Yeah, who negative now, bitch?" I laugh, the truck pulling up beside us, letting me open full fire into their other tire. It slipped off to the side as Smoke rode us up a ramp away from it, the truck out of control now, moving up ahead of us, the little ramp on its back breaking free and letting the cars inside slip free. Smoke twisted around them, the Russians following not seeing us till too late, smashing straight into them.... but more kept coming, the whole Russian fucking army apparently after us.
Bikes chased us up the ramp, and as I blasted back at the motherfuckers blasting at me, I heard a big explosion sound from up ahead of us.
"Fools totaled their truck!" laughed Smoke. I turned to look and saw it was still rolling forward on its own, but was black from the gas tank exploding, wheels shredded, fools inside dead.... but not the fools standing out they cars set up in a roadblock directly ahead of us.... and the truck, still rolling at speed.
"Go around 'em, man!" I shouted.
"Screw that," laughed Smoke, heading right for the back of the truck, ramp down and cars gone,"We're taking the scenic route!"
"FRY, MOTHERFUCKERS!" laughed Smoke while I turned and looked back with wide eyes and my mouth hanging open.... did we really just do that?
"That's the old sewer up ahead!" Smoke yelled, and I turned back and saw we were getting near the old sewer tunnel that we sometimes played around as kids.... I always hated it, it was creepy and spooky and it still stunk even though it hadn't been used in years. I lifted my gun and blasted at the lock, knocking the gate open just in time as Smoke drove up into the tunnel.
We drove through the twists and turns of the tunnel, a couple of Russians still following us but hanging back now, obviously freaked, and slow we pulled ahead, getting out of their site as we left the tunnels and came back out on the streets, moving down alleys and around corners until we were sure we'd finally lost them.
"We lost 'em, Smoke!" I yelled, surprised. Smoke stopped the bike and I hopped off, saying,""Man, we better split up."
"I'll take it another block and dump it," Smoke said, patting the bike with affection,"Man, that was some crazy shit back there!"
"Yeah, for sure," I said, feeling a little dizzy, not believing we'd just done what we'd just done,Listen, we can't hang around here - I'll see you later, homie."
"Much love, baby!" grinned Smoke, then drove off, leaving me standing still a little confused and surprised, trying to figure out what the hell I'd just been through. I had no idea what the fuck Smoke had done to kick off the Russians like that, and whether they'd be back for more later or we'd taken out most of them.... shit, it felt like we'd taken out the entire motherfucking Russian army.
I started walking, shaking my head. Shit, I didn't know much, but I knew one thing for sure.
The Wall might have come down.........but I still hated the fucking Communists.