I sat in the Bravura, thinking about what I'd need, what I would have to do to pull off my plan, trying to control my breathing, too fucking excited just at the idea of what I had, before I'd even done anything.
There was a knock on my window and I just about jumped out of my seat, grabbing for my strap before seeing it was Tex, grinning at me through the window and waving. I smiled and stepped out of the car, surprised to see he was wearing the same thing he'd worn yesterday.... only it was clean, meaning he'd either had it cleaned between yesterday and today or had more than one set of the same fucking clothes.
"I see you brought Monster back, good as new," he smiled, shaking my hand,"I gotta say, son, you strike me as a good egg, you come from Southern stock?"
"We all do, originally," I reply back with a grin,"My GrandDaddy's Granddaddy probably found himself moved from Africa to New Orleans pretty damn quickly without much say in the matter."
"Heh, slavery humor, not many white men can get away with that," he laugh, rummaging his hand through his gray hair and rubbing the back of his neck,"I ain't even gonna try. Look, Mr. Johnson, I meant what I said yesterday, you ever want a job as a real driver, I could make something of you, you're not a great driver, but you can drive, and you look pretty good which is a plus for the ladies... plus you're black, which makes you an oddity in our world.... yeah, we could make some money together, we really could."
"I do appreciate it, Tex," I said back,"Really I do, and if this was a few weeks ago I'd have jumped at the chance, but now..."
"Life takes you in a different direction, huh?" he grin,"We all got to follow our destinies, son, but it's a shame.... damn we could have made alot of money together. Say, you jumped when I knocked on the door pretty high, you got something on your mind?"
I stared at him for a moment, thinking for a second, wondering how much I could tell him, and finally something told me... do it.
"I'll be honest with you, man," I said,"I need a place I can go to where I can get guns... good ones, not the shit being sold on the street, not the stuff gangbangers run with.... quality, real quality."
Now it was his turn to stand staring at me, and then he did something odd, running his hand up the lapel of his stars and stripes shirt and tapping just beneath his collarbone with two fingers. He stood staring a few seconds more, then sighed, shaking his head.
"Damn, I thought for a second..." he started, then grinned,"Listen, you strike me as good stock, like I said, and you don't seem to be one of these crazy assholes who runs around in his underwear shooting up civilians because he's high on drugs. Something tells me if you wanted a piece to rob a liquor store or a bank you could get one easily enough, so let me ask you something.... Carl, do you believe in America?"
"Huh?" I said, surprised, this the last conversation I expected to be having early in the morning in the parking lot of a sports stadium,"Well, yeah, course I do."
"Tell me what America is to you, Carl," he say,"I'm serious now, so be serious back, what is America?"
"Man, America is....." I start, then look into his eyes and see he mean it, this ridiculous dressed up cracker with a potbelly and a handlebar moustache wanting to talk real shit with me, just waiting to hear the right thing... so I told him the truth,"America is all kinds of fucked up... it's a place where the rich build up high on the backs of the poor, where white men fuck over black men and black men fuck over black men and Mexicans fuck over Mexicans... it's a fucked up mix of a bunch of different races that don't get on and don't like each other, and don't like anyone else either. It's a big fucking mess that doesn't know where it starts and where it finishes, a big drunk redneck asshole pissing on the rest of the world because it only gives a shit about itself.......... and it works. Somehow, some fucking way, despite all the shit, America is a country where whether you white, black, Mexican, Chinese, Korean, whatever the fuck, you can stand up together and say I don't like my neighbor, I don't like the people across the street, but together we are America and if you don't like it, then fuck you, because this is who we are, we are America and we're the best fucking country on Earth."
Tex stood staring at me after I finished, and then slowly a grin spread over his face, and he put his arm around my shoulder, and he told me what I needed to hear, and gave me the key to what I wanted.
God Bless America.
I walked into the gun store, a place I could have walked into at any time before, but armed with Tex's information, that I was getting to see in a new way for the first time. Up on the wall was a banner for the Los Santos Civilian Defence Force, a banner I'd first seen in Colonel Fuhrburger's house when I was burgling it with Ryder. At the time I'd thought it was some kind of KKK shit, but Tex had told me about it, about what it really was.
"America is the greatest country on Earth, Carl," Tex had said, arm around my shoulder leading me towards the Forum and his office,"A country based on founding principles of fairness and individual responsibility.... but somewhere along the way, it got all screwed up, the same rules designed to protect began to imprison us. Carl, do you think a man should always follow the law all the time?"
"No, not really," I said, thinking about the guns and the carjacking and smoking weed,"I think the police should pretty much stay out of peoples faces unless serious shit goes down. Use them as a last resort, you know what I'm saying?"
"EXACTLY!" smile Tex,"And one of the most screwed up laws of all is around the use of guns in America. You do know that we're granted by the Second Amendment to the U.S Constitution the Right to Bear Arms.... that's you, me, everyone in America! As long as you're an American, you have the right to bear arms.... but so-called do-gooders and liberals want to take away our rights, Carl, to see us lose the rights of self defence of our own homes and properties. Some idiot high on PCP comes into your house, Carl, are you going to hide in the corner and wait for the police?"
"Hell no," I told him,"A man's home is his castle, y'know? Motherfucker comes into my house, I take the motherfucker out."
"THAT'S the American spirit, Carl," Tex say, slapping me on the back,"And THAT is what the Civilian Defence Force is all about, the militia spirit that the British tried to extinguish, the spirit that made America great. We're here to protect America because we're Americans, to protect our homes because they're our homes. We ARE America, Carl, and America needs us."
Inside his office now, he handed me the card marked the same as the banner, only with a number on it in the lower right corner.
"Go to AmmuNation, Carl," he said,"Show this to the man behind the counter, he is a friend, and he will help you. And do you know why? Because you are an American, and he is an American, and together we are all going to make America a better place."
I stepped up to the counter and the dude behind it didn't look like a friend, or someone who was going to help me. Shaven head, big black handlebar moustache, army style pants and undershirt with dogtags, this motherfucker looked like army-wannabe white trash, and I could tell from the look on his face that he didn't like the look of me either.
"All purchases require two forms of identification, a security check and a 2 week waiting period," he told me before I had a chance to speak, one hand beneath the counter, probably on a sawn off shotgun,"Management reserves the right to refuse service at any time."
I didn't say anything, just running my hand up the lapel of my shirt and tapping just beneath my collarbone with two fingers. The skinhead behind the counter looked surprised, but did the same back, then leaned forward, looking around to make sure we were alone.
"Still need ID, friend, you know how it is, new faces and all..."
I didn't say anything, just pulled out the card Tex has given me, sliding it across the counter to the skinhead, who took a look, then looked up at me with a big ol' smile on his face.
"How can I help you," he asked, then almost like he'd only just thought of it,"Sir?"
"I need silence," I told him, all business now, my foot in the door thanks to Tex,"I have to work quietly, you can help?"
Tex had said there would be no questions, one American didn't ask another what he intended to do with the gun the Constitution granted him the RIGHT to use. Still, I wasn't asking for a regular gun to carry around in my pocket, I was talking about a silencer, the kind of shit that they probably didn't have just ly-
"You want just the one?" he asked, grinning, showing off,"Or a box of them?"
I left AmmuNation holding a box under my arm, a grin on my face that faded almost immediately when I saw a flash of green disappearing down an alleyway. I moved to the Bravura and tucked the box in the trunk, then hopped in and drove past the alley slowly, seeing nothing in there, but knowing that I hadn't imagined it. I was well rested now, caught up on all my sleep, feeling on top of the world, on top of the shit that had been bearing down on me since I got back to Los Santos, and I knew I wasn't imagining things, someone was following me.
There were any number of people it could be, but the only one I could think of was Tenpenny, getting some snitch turncoat motherfucker - probably some piece of shit Grove Street homie turned onto base - to track me down, report back to Tenpenny on what I doing. I remember him ringing me that time and telling me he had "ways and means" of keeping track of me. What surprised me was that he still had it going, last time he saw me he thought I was his broke down house-nigger.... and that was what I was counting on, him thinking I was still broken down, make him think I was his bitch.... and then I could turn it all around on him, that bald, corrupt, hypocritical motherfucker.
"Follow me then, nigga," I said to whoever my fucking shadow was,"I'm leading you straight to Tenpenny anyway."
It was time for me to put on my acting shoes.
My foot was in the door, I could tell they thought I'd "forgotten" this was the doughnut shop they used and walked into them by accident, and now all I could do was hope that they had some dirty business they needed me to take care of.
Considering this was Tenpenny, the odds were good.
"Yeah, whatever," I said back, looking down towards the ground, not making eye contact with them, acting the good house-nigger. Tenpenny was smart, he'd been dealing with gangbangers for years, listened to plenty of lies and bullshit, but I'd hit paydirt, he already thought I was broken and I could tell he had something he wanted done, so he wasn't paying any attention to me, only interested in himself, spinning his own line of shit to me, in love with himself and drunk on the power he thought he had over me. Perfect.
"As an officer in charge of putting an end to gang violence," he said, acting up like he some kind of great hero,"I find myself in a difficult moral position, Carl."
"Yeah right," I mumble, still looking at the ground, hearing Pulaski laughing at me, racist pigfuck.
"Carl, I'm hurt, I truly am," grin Tenpenny, loving lording it up over me,"And just as I was about to help those poor Grove Street boys."
Well that was bullshit for a start, but the funny thing was, he was right, he just didn't know how.
"Oh yeah?" I ask, lifting my head up and looking into his eyes, putting on a look like I was trying to bring myself to man up in front of him,"How?"
He grinned and talk me by the arm, turning me around and walking me towards his patrol car, Pulaski moving ahead of us, putting me between them so I had nowhere to run.
"I like the status quo, Carl," he say, then look around to be sure no one around, no one but a little old lady hobbling along with her cane, probably too deaf to hear anything but a truck bearing down on her. Satisfied, he grinned at me like a fucking shark.
"Dumb bastards?" I said, like I was kind of offended but knowing I couldn't do anything about it.
"Now," say Tenpenny, ignoring me, only interested in saying what he had to say,"If it's brought to my attention that one tribe gets an unfair advantage over another, that truly troubles me, Carl."
"So what you saying, man?" I asked, acting like I didn't get what he wanted, me to go and do his dirty work for me.
"I'm saying the Ballas have brains, Carl, they watch the news," Tenpenny say, shaking his head like I should have known that. Shit, the Ballas? They were Tenpenny's boys, so if he was talking about them, it sounded like they were trying to go into business for themselves, realizing that Tenpenny needed them as much as they needed him.
"Lots of cheap guns coming into America since the fall of the wall, Carl," Tenpenny say, and I felt a weird feeling on the back of my neck, like the hairs there were standing on end. I brushed the back of my neck with my hand, not wanting to be bothered by whatever it was, forcing myself to concentrate on my acting, on keeping Tenpenny talking and tying the noose around his own neck.
"Man, cut that bullshit, Tenpenny," I say as he walked around the passenger side of the patrol car, acting like I found a little bit of my manhood after all,"Just say what you mean, man."
"Y'all take care now!" laughed Pulaski, like he found something funny in it, and then they were driving away, leaving me standing shoulders hunched and face down, they broke ass house-nigger ready to head off and do they dirty work.
I arrived at the docklands an hour later, finding the freight warehouse Tenpenny had meant - Gray Imports - easily enough, the motherfucker had slipped the address into my pocket without me even realizing when he'd been talking to me, leading me towards the patrol car. I had to remember he was a sneaky motherfucker, that the only reason I was getting away with this was because he was too busy being a smart motherfucker to think that some other smart motherfucker might come along and turn back around on him.
Like I said earlier, I'd bet on Tenpenny being involved in something and taking bumping into me by "accident" as an excuse to get me to do his dirty work for him. The odds had played out for me, and now I had a chance to put my own plan into action.... but the one thing I hadn't considered was just how deep into shit Tenpenny was.
Motherfucking Russians, I could hear their accents thick as fucking tar coming from they mouths as they talked while cars and bikes were backed up into trucks. I saw it all walking by the entrance to the freight yard, not seeing any Ballas but figuring they were inside the warehouse.... it wouldn't pay for an illegal operation to be manned out in the open by niggas wearing Ballas colors. I figured these were high class cars stolen to order, and this was probably part of some wider operation the Russians were trying to get into. When I was in Liberty City, I heard alot about the Italians running organized crime, and how the Russians had been trying to get involved since the wall came down. Made sense they'd come to LS too where the Mafia has a smaller presence, less of a foothold due to the street gangs and corrupt cops like Tenpenny. If they were hooking up with the Ballas, that was smart too, give the Ballas backing from the fucking commies and they'd be unstoppable, those Russian fucks were way more brutal than any cop could ever be.
I headed back towards where I'd parked the Bravura down the street in an alley, thinking that this wasn't just doing a job for Tenpenny, but Grove Street too. It wouldn't help us to have the Ballas backed by Russians, providing them drugs, selling guns and cars, acting as backup and a personal fucking trained army of Soviet Robots ready to kill. So yeah, I'd do Tenpenny's dirty work for him, but take out Ballas and Russians in the process and do my bit for Grove Street and for America.
The trick was, if I was going to pull this off so that Tenpenny went to work for me without realizing it, I had to do it quiet.
That's where AmmuNation and the Civilian Defence Force came into it.
I patted the little gun, grinning when I felt how hot the silencer had gotten. I'd fitted it to my pistol and slid into the warehouse's loading bay, amazed at how quiet it was, just a little ffft noise and the Russian loading up the trucks went down like a sack of bricks. I had to admit feeling like a fucking badass just rounding the corner into the warehouse and taking out the Russians standing smoking by the big roller door, dropping them in a second, then sneaking my way further inside, to the sound of talking - loud and bragging from the Ballas, quiet and pissed from the Russians.
"Nah nah, see the way it is, you ship in the base, we sell it, we share the profits 60-40 to us, because we doing the selling, got the distribution network, see," a Balla was saying.
"Is ridiculous," say the Russian back, his big thick-ass accent almost impossible to understand even as I snuck closer, spotting the Ballas left to guard the crates and shipping boxes I guess held the drugs they were fighting over,"We supply product, we supply security, we supply all the risk, all you do is stand on street corner like prostitute selling to junkers."
"Without customers, you got no business," say the Balla back.
"Without product, you have no business, customers go elsewhere," hit the Russian back.
"We can get product without you, we only talking because you offering it cheaper than the fucking pig we dealing with at the moment."
"We can distribute without you, it simply take longer to become established," the Russian say,"We Russians are patient, we can wait as long as it takes. We wait at Stalingrad when Nazis surround us. We wait at Moscow when Napoleon invade. We wait through whole Cold War to become capitalists and make money. we can wait."
"You be waiting a long fucking time if you think you can move into dealing in our town without us," say the Balla,"Ballas run Los Santos, motherfucker, and we got more soldiers than you can ship in from St Fuckersburg."
"Is fight you want?" ask the Russian,"Russians always ready to fight, never stop..... but why fight when we can make money. 60-40 no good, 55-45 to us."
"Man fuck that, 55-45 to us!" say the Balla frontman back.
I shook my head, for a second I thought they were going to take each other out, but now the two were haggling, heading up steel stairs to the foreman's office, leaving behind Ballas and a couple of Russians to guard the product, the Russian's top dog knowing (well, thinking he knew) that he had more Russians outside to stop the Ballas trying to run with the product. The silencer had gotten louder with each shot, and I knew it was going to be just as loud as taking regular shots in just a couple of more goes. I was far enough inside the warehouse now that I figured I could get away with being a little louder now, so I slid the pistol back inside my coat and lifted up the AK47 that one of the Russians I'd caught by surprise had been carrying. I watched the Ballas left to guard the drugs walking back and forth acting like they weren't bored, waiting for just the right moment to spring, just the right.... NOW!
I looked at the crates of "product", stacked up high and wide, fucking drugs just waiting to flood out into Los Santos, poisoning my homies and fucking them up so they'd turn on they own mothers to get more. I was tempted to open fire on the fucking shit myself, but having seen it I had a suspicion about what Tenpenny was planning, and it fit into my own plans too well. I was just going to let it lie for now, and deal with it later. I moved past the dead Ballas and Russians and up the stairs, hearing the Russian and Balla Top Dogs arguing with each other over who had turned on who, thinking the other had tried a double-cross.
"Hang on a second, that's fucking green, that's some Grove Street motherfucker!" yelled the Balla and I cursed under my breath, motherfucker looked through the blinds in the office and spotted me, I'd been hoping they'd take each other out and save me the hassle.
"Grove Street?" ask the Russian,"I have been dealing with Mister Smoke, he fuck us over on a deal, he motherfucker."
I grinned, so these Russians were the same cats that tried to chase me and Smoke down the other day? The deal he was talking about must have been the arms deal that had gone bad, though Smoke had never told me exactly WHAT went wrong, now that I thought about it.
"You kill, you kill and I give 51-49 deal to you," the Russian said as I rounded the corner in the stairwell leading up to the office.
"You got yourself a deal, my man," laugh the Ball, kicking open the door to blast on me... and catching a surprise in the process.
"Oh hell with this," shout the Russian, seeing the Balla's head come apart,"Fuck Los Santos, is too much trouble!"
I heard a door open and I rushed into the office, seeing that it lead to the outside of the warehouse. I rushed down the stairs after him as he sprinted for a car, diving in and tearing out of the warehouse. I couldn't leave him standing though, if I did he'd come back for the drugs, and I couldn't have that, not with what I had in mind. I jumped onto the back of a bike - a PCJ-600 - that must have belonged to one of the Russians, someone who would never use it again. I tore out of the warehouse after the Russian, catching surprised look from pedestrians moving up the streets, none of them knowing we'd just come out of a fucking slaughterhouse, multiple dead Russians and Ballas inside the warehouse, killed without anyone hearing a fucking thing.
Now all I had to do was take out this fucking Russian, and now that I was out of the warehouse, I didn't have to worry about being quiet anymore.
"Welcome to America, motherfucker," I said, standing over the black, burnt out wreckage of his car and body. I looked around, hearing sirens and screams from people who had seen what went down, and I quickly moved down an alleyway and jumped over the wall, moving a few blocks West to keep clear of the police, ambulance and fire trucks making their way to the scene.
I walked to a payphone and rang the number on the sheet of paper Tenpenny had given me, and it picked up after only a couple of rings.
"Tell me it's done," said Tenpenny's voice, knowing it was me.
"There's a freight warehouse at docklands that ain't so busy anymore," I said,"You might want to go check out what was causing all the action over there, I kept it quiet, you won't be bothered."
"Well, you're a haaaandy nigger to have around, aren't you, boy," laughed Tenpenny,"Go home and have a forty, Carl, you earned it."
He hung up and I did the same, placing my hands against the sides of the phonebooth, letting out a dramatic sigh while doing my best to look about me without being seen. I didn't see any sign of a tail, not that I'd expected one. If Tenpenny had someone watching me, they wouldn't have been able to follow me into the warehouse or in my chase of the Russian. They'd be hanging out around Grove Street, waiting for me to come home.
Well they'd be waiting a bit longer, I had work to do, real work, for Grove Street.... and I had a better than even chance of pulling it off now.
All thanks to Tenpenny.
Tenpenny stepped into the warehouse and took a deep breath in through his nostrils, grinning widely.
"I love to see that boy's handiwork, this shit is surgical," he said.
"He's a fucking liability and I should air out his fucking skull," said Pulaski grumpily, and Hernandez winced, hating it when Pulaski talked so openly about murder. Tenpenny didn't seem to care, stepping over a dead Balla and lifting a crowbar, pressing it against the top of a crate and tearing it open, revealing large sacks of coffee.
"This was all about coffee?" asked Hernandez, and Pulaski clipped him on the back of the head.
"You fucking numbnuts, coffee is used to fool dogs at customs," he said, and hefted out a sack and dropped it to the floor, reaching into the crate and pulling out a bag of brown powder,"This is about heroin, and cocaine, and every other drug those Balla fucks were planning to bring into Los Santos.... without going through us."
"Until our good friend Carl solved our problem for us," grinned Tenpenny, looking around at the dead bodies and the huge stack of crates packed full with drugs,"We can tell those fucks in San Fierro to shove their shitty deal up their ass with a shipment like this, make them come crawling to us to renegotiate a better deal. I figured Carl would wreck up the place, but he came in surgical, took out the Ballas, the Russians, did it quiet, no one knows.... our brother officers are checking out the dead Russian Boss that Carl was good enough to kill loudly and publicly a long way from here..... we're in a good situation here, my friends, I say we grab a truck, load it up with the shipment, clean down the place then leave the bodies to be found in a few days when all the leads have dried up."
"Sounds good to me," sniffed Pulaski, wiping his arm beneath his nose,"Let's get Chico here to do the heavy lifting, prove the stereotype is wrong."
"Hey I've had about enough of y-" started Hernandez, and Pulaski pulled his baton loose and jammed it under Hernandez's throat, shoving him against a wall, choking him.
"You've had enough when I say you've had enough, ese, comprende?"
"Now now, Ed, give the poor boy a break," chuckled Tenpenny, placing a hand on Pulaski's arm,"Let me talk to him."
Pulaski stepped back but held the baton at his side, while Hernandez dropped to his knees coughing and choking. Tenpenny helped him up and walked him away, arm around his shoulders.
"Now Hernandez, are we going to have a problem here?" he asked.
"We're talking about drugs here man, a lot of drugs, it can screw with alot of people...." Hernandez said, turning to face Tenpenny, eyes panicky,"It already has, there has to be close to twenty dead bodies here, and we're just letting that maniac Johnson run around on the streets?"
"Now I thought we'd gone through this," chuckled Tenpenny,"I thought you were a realist? You think we can keep all drugs off the street all the time?"
"Can we keep all drugs off the street all the time?" Tenpenny repeated, louder, angrier, more demanding.
"No, we can't," Hernandez admitted.
"Right, so if drugs are going to be on the street, isn't it better to control the distribution of those drugs? So that WE control the junkies, the gangs, the gangbangers and criminals like Carl Johnson? Because you know they can't control themselves, you were a patrolman, you saw that shit firsthand on the street," insisted Tenpenny,"But to bring in drugs means money, and that means selling more drugs, and the problem gets out of hand, and we're paying more and more money to those assholes in San Fierro, and more drugs are on the street, and things get out of hand and we have to orchestrate gang wars to thin out the numbers...... and yet now that this shipment of drugs falls into our laps, Hernandez, and we're in a position not to be giving more money to criminals in San Fierro and to control the drug trade that would exist anyway in Los Santos.... you think we should just forget about it? Walk away? Let it rot or fall into the system where it'll get lost and end up on the street anyway?"
"No.... no," say Hernandez, looking down at the floor, just like Carl Johnson had earlier for Tenpenny, and the Officer knew that like Johnson, Hernandez had been broken to his will, a feeling that Tenpenny loved.
"Good, then let's get in there with Pulaski, and the two of you don't get into each others faces, and we'll pack up these drugs and get out of here.... sound good to you, Hernandez?"
"Yeah, yes sir," nodded Hernandez, and turned and walked shoulders down back towards the waiting Pulaski, leaving behind Tenpenny grinning.
Everything was going fine, and he loved it.
Everything had turned to shit, and Tenpenny hated it.
1am, Glen Park, a fucking bloodbath, sirens shining red and blue light all over the grass, the pond, the trees, the houses, ambulances, patrol cars, bodies covered in sheets.
Alot of bodies.
The first officer on scene had fucked up badly and puked all over one of the crime scenes after seeing the bodies lying huddled together in the road, which was a blessing for Tenpenny since it had slowed down the investigation. He, Pulaski and Hernandez has spent hours packing the drugs into a truck, then cleaning up the warehouse so there was no evidence left behind of their presence, just a number of dead Russians, dead Ballas and a big gap in the middle of the warehouse where SOMETHING had been, but the forensic teams wouldn't know what..... at least not in any way that could be proved.
He'd set Pulaski and Hernandez to drive the truck to one of their storage facilities and then dump the truck, while he'd hopped into one of the unmarked cars they used for times like this and drove back to where he'd left his patrol car. He'd hopped in, ready to drive it back to the station and then head home to get some rest, and that's when he'd caught the squawking on his police radio and discovered he'd been had.
In the early evening, while Tenpenny, Pulaski and Hernandez were working in Gray Imports and police officers were investigating the mysterious death of a Russian diplomat in a bullet-riddled car... an unidentified black male wearing Grove Street gang colors had driven into Glen Park, stepped out of his vehicle holding an assault rifle of some sort, and gone on a deadly rampage, shooting down multiple identified members of the Ballas street gang. No calls had been made to the police until an hour after the rampage had ended, though Tenpenny suspected dozens had gone to his cellphone, sitting turned off in his patrol car at the time from horrified Ballas calling for Tenpenny to call in favors and send in police support.
Hearing what was going on, Tenpenny had arrived on the scene and immediately identified himself to the ranking Officer as a member of the C.R.A.S.H. Unit, and intimately familiar with the various street gangs within Los Santos. The officer had been relieved to hand over interviewing the witnesses to someone else, infuriated with dealing with the blank wall of silence that came from his efforts as he waited for a Homicide Detective to be taken off the Russian Diplomat case. Despite the highly visible attack, only one person had come forward as a witness, an old black man in a threadbare coat that had seen better days, with a beard that indicated he'd seen better days too, one step above a hobo, with breath that smelled of scotch.
"Tell me what happened, don't leave anything out," Tenpenny told the old man, sitting down beside him in the back of a police cruiser,"I'll know if you do."
The old man had stared at Tenpenny, then started talking.
"It was early evening, sun gone down, those fools in they purple do-rags out on the curb lying about the women they fucked, same shit that goes down every day," he told Tenpenny,"And then this crazy motherfuck ride up into the park."
"Tell me what he looked like," Tenpenny demanded,"Muscular? High fade?"
"Yeah, that was him, in green, Grove Street colors."
"Fuck," cursed Tenpenny,"Motherfucker used... okay, what then?"
"He moved up onto the bridge where some of those Balla fools were shooting the shit, and he shot them full of shit, just up and blasted on them, no warning, just BANG!"
"Those fools were running around like crazy after that, no one knew what to do, how to act, no fucking leadership... the Grove Street boy was blasting down anyone who looked like giving orders, I saw one motherfucker run to a payphone!"
Tenpenny remembered his phone sitting turned off in his patrol car and closed his eyes for a second, then motioned for the old man to continue.
"A car came rolling up onto the bridge with a bunch of Ballas inside, riding to the rescue," he told Tenpenny,"Didn't phase that nigga none, he just lifted his gun and began blasting at it, blew out the engine and the wheels, bought it right to a stop. The fools were just left sitting with they thumbs up they butts, not knowing what to do. They got out as he shot up the gastank, sent the car skyhigh and the fools with it."
"While he was dealing with the car, fools came running up from behind him, but they were being stupid, holding they pieces turned to the side, shooting wildly at nothing and yelling, giving themselves away. He turned and opened fire on them, cut them all down.... he'd been shooting for a good ten minutes by that point, ain't no police showed up, why that?
"No one called," Tenpenny muttered,"So he'd killed everyone in Balla colors? What next?"
"Cold blooded motherfucker went and checked each body to make sure they dead, then walked the whole fucking side of the park looking for any he missed... found a Balla, even an unarmed one, he capped him."
Tenpenny sat thinking for a moment, thinking about one of the faces he'd seen under a sheet.
"What happened then?" he asked, and the old man smiled.
"You know something happened even though I just tell you he killed all the Ballas, huh?"
"Just answer my questions, old man," warned Tenpenny,"Now."
"Crazy ass Balla came running out crouched down screaming, saying "Tenpenny set me up!" and trying to hide behind a car trying to get the hell out of there. The Grove Street boy saw him, saw he wasn't armed.... just cold gunned him down, right there in the street, and you know what?"
"What?" Tenpenny asked.
"I saw the whole thing, and that last one he killed, the one with no gun, that was the only one I saw the Grove Street boy react to. He was cold-blooded the entire time, except that one nigga he capped, he looked pissed at him, like he hated him.... like he killed all those others just to get at him."
Tenpenny sat quietly for a moment, mind racing, thinking. Finally, he leaned forward and looked into the old man's eyes, locking them with his own.
"You live here, you see alot, don't you?" he asked.
"Yeah, yeah I do," nodded the old man.
"You know who I am," Tenpenny said,"Right?"
"Right," nodded the old man, swallowing nervously.
"What did that "crazy running nigga" say again?"
"He said, Tenp.... he said, a bad penny always turns up," the old man said at last.
"That's right," nodded Tenpenny,"You remember that, a bad penny always turns up, you remember that and make sure you tell the nice officers when you give a written statement, understand me, old man?"
"Ye... yes sir," said the old man, and Tenpenny grinned cruelly and stepped out of the cruiser. He walked around to the back of the car and looked around at the scene, shaking his head in disbelief.
"How the fuck did that nigga get his balls back?" he asked himself,"That motherfucker is too fucking dangerous, he's going to fuck it all up for me."
An unmarked car drove up to the scene and a white jowly old bastard in a trenchcoat stepped out, and Tenpenny knew a detective had finally shown up. That was fine, Carl wouldn't have left any trace back to himself, and Tenpenny had just covered up his own by talking to the old man, but this was still a mess that he'd need to work on fixing. The Ballas weren't likely to recover from this soon, and their psychotic fuck of a leader - Kane - would be gunning for revenge, which was going to complicate matters at a time when Tenpenny needed things to be smooth. Shit, before Carl had shown back up in Los Santos, things HAD been going smoothly, damn it.
He had to admit though, Carl had played him beautifully, you had to admire it, even if at the same time you had to recognize just how dangerous it made him.
"I've been playing this game alot longer than you, CJ," Tenpenny said to himself,"You have no fucking idea."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, dialing a number from memory he never thought he would have reason to ring. Despite the late hour, it was answered on the second ring.
"It's Tenpenny, don't hang up, I have something to say that you'll want to hear," he said.
There was silence for a few moments, and Tenpenny stood waiting, patient.
"I'm listening," Sweet Johnson said at last.