"It's done," I said into the phone, sitting in the construction yard, wanting to hang up but holding on the line. Motherfucker had me over the barrel; I had to know about Sweet.
"Caaarl," said Tenpenny, I could hear the grin in his voice,"I was starting to think you were never going to get around to it."
"Bullshit," I said back,"It was yo ass on the line, if they'd been ready to make a move you would have called me up to find out what was going on."
"The wheels of justice do move slow, Carl," he chuckled. Fuck I hated him,"There's a little construction yard up there in Angel Pine, leave the camera in the foreman's office, key is taped to a rock on the East side. Then I-"
"Then nothing, we done," I said back,"I just saved yo fucking career, you piece of shit, and you won. You got Santos, you got Smoke, you got everything. So we done, and you're going to give me my brother back."
"Oh Carl, I keep forgetting that every so often you get ideas above your station," laughed Tenpenny,"You'll get a call back in ten minutes, nigga, you best pick up."
The line went dead and I kicked the side of the Foreman's Office, where I'd been standing when making the call. When he'd mentioned it I'd freaked out, thinking he was watching me, but it was just a coincidence, Tenpenny would have made sure to be the fuck out of Angel Pine when the hit went down. I found the key and opened the door, coughing at the blast of heat that came out of the office, locked up for who knows how long. I stepped in and dumped the camera onto the desk, then stepped out and locked back up, putting the key back on the rock and taking my phone out, dialing a number.
"It's Carl," I said when the phone picked up.
"Carl! Where you been, ese?" asked Cesar,"It's been weeks man, Kendl's freaking out."
"I been taking care of business, man," I told him,"But that's done now... how's Santos?"
"You ain't seen it on the news, holmes?" he asked,"Things are terrible, man, drugs are everywhere, streets are deserts, homies flocking to that shit, man. The fucking press are stupid, saying the Mayor and the Chief of Police have cleaned up the city, they don't know it's the calm before the storm.... the gangs haven't gone away, they're just all stoned, and when the high wears off and they realize they don't have money left, the crime is gonna start."
"That's Tenpenny," I said,"He'll make sure when the shit hits the fan that he's the one to come in and "clean" it up". Look man, I've been out of the loop but I'm back now, and it's time to start planning Grove Street's comeback. I don't know where to start, but I gotta do something."
"That's good to hear man, Aztecas still divided on how to deal with this situation, but maybe I can help you out. I got some back up coming out to protect you, my cousin....." he hesitated, like he wanted to tell me something, then just said,"Really intense, holmes. Trust me."
"Okay," I said, scratching my beard, thinking I should find a razor soon and take it to my face. Once the Feds got done investigating the cabin and Angel Pine, they'd be looking for a "colored fella with a beard","Where can I find this cousin of yours?"
"Meet them over at the diner in Dillimore, the next county over, Red County," he hesitated again,"...you won't miss them."
"Okay," I said,"Look, I gotta go, give my love to Kendl."
"Every day, holmes," he told me, and we hung up.... and my phone started ringing immediately - Tenpenny.
"Listen asshole," I said,"I said I wan-"
"Carl," said Sweet,"It's me."
"Sweet!" I shouted, surprised and happy,"What's going on, man?"
"Man, what the fuck you think is going on? I'm in a prison hospital, nigga!" he yelled, and my smile got wider - same old Sweet.
"I know," I said,"You alright?"
"Nah, man," he said,"Getting over the gunshot is the easy part, you gotta do something, man, I've been hearing about "the peace on the streets," and it's all bullshit, I gotta get back out there."
"I'm trying, man," I told him,"I just gotta make sure Kendl's safe first."
"A'ight, man," he said, and I could just picture him sitting up in a hospital bed, bandaged up, nodding his head, thinking about protecting everyone but himself,"I gotta go."
"Don't worry bro," I told him, and what I said next, I meant,"I ain't gonna leave you in there."
I left the construction yard and headed through Angel Pine to the house, stepping inside and going through the place, picking up everything that might trace back to me. As I checked the draws, I found a little portable radio and some headphones and slid them into my pocket, then finished clearing up. Once it was cleaned up, I headed outside and got onto the Sanchez I'd "picked up" recently, a simple red bike that went fast. I looked around Angel Pine for what I hoped would be the last time, and then I got the hell out of there.
Like I'd told Cesar, I'd been out of the loop completely, my only thoughts on conquering Chiliad and taking out the snitch. I hadn't read papers or watched TV or listened to the radio, but now that I was back on the road, it was time to get back in touch with the rest of the world. I put in the headphones and flicked on the portable radio, tuning it to Radio Los Santos and.... I got nothing. Static came through the headphones and I smacked the radio, thinking there was something wrong with it, but I wasn't getting nothing but static. So I shifted the frequency, to Bounce, to Playback, Mastersounds, CSR, WCTR, hell even Radio X..... nothing but static, noth... wait, there it was, something was coming through, I shifted the frequency and.... oh shiiiiit.
"Hey, Louisiana woman, Mississippi man!
We get together every time we can.
The Mississippi River can't keep us apart
There's too much love in the Mississippi heart.
Too much love in this Louisiana heart."
"OH. HELL. NO!" I shouted.
Oh shit, I was in hell, I was in the middle of nowhere and the only thing I could pick up on the fucking radio was a Country Music station, inbred white people singing about alligators and losing they dogs and the love of a good woman or the other way around.... fucking hell, I couldn't listen to fucking Country and Western.
"A wise man once said, try not to get too attached to a hypothesis because its yers," shouted a chirpy sounding bitch out of the radio,"My hypothesis is correct, and yer my control group!"
"What the fuck?" I asked, Sanchez sitting idly on the side of the road, traffic moving past me as the last light of day faded and I stared down at the radio,"What the fuck kind of station is thi-"
"Small in the saddle?" a man asked me through the headphones, and a cartoon "weeeoooo" noise played,"Here's some tunes to whistle on a lonely night!"
Whistling came out the radio and a horse neighed, and the dude shouted,"MMM, K-ROSE!"
What the FUCK was wrong with white people?
"What the hell do yer think we're here for?" shouted the crazy white woman,"Yer listening to K-Rose! Don't go away, I might start to cry!"
"Cry, bitch," I said, shaking my head, and switched the radio off. Fuck it, I'd just go without music.
And there is was, Dillimore, a little nothing town in the middle of nowhere, just like Angel Pine. Unlike Angel Pine, though, it was green, not dusty, and there was no big fucking mountain sitting taking up all the sky.
"Hey good lookin', whatcha got cookin'" I sang to myself, then shook my head and turned off the radio. Riding through the silence had been too much for me, finally I'd turned the sounds back on and tried my best just to have it as background noise... but I had to admit, some of this country shit had a beat to it, Amos Moses wasn't a bad song at all, reminded me a little about raps about hardass niggas getting one over on the law. And the DJ, Mary-Beth Maybell, damn that lady been through some shit, all those husbands of hers just dying mysteriously on her like that, you could tell she was aching for dick, and she didn't sound like she looked too bad.
"Shit, country and fucking western," I said, laughing at myself and switched the radio off and rode down into the town.
Dillimore was silent at midnight, streets deserted, houses sitting still, lights off. It was kinda freaky, like riding through a ghost town, in Santos people were up all hours of the night, but here - like in Angel Pine - once it got to a certain hour, the town shut down. That suited me though, I kept the Sanchez mostly idling, heading through the Main Street and out onto the block of houses off to the side, lines of nice looking places, family homes, places for a wife and husband and a couple of white kids - little shits who'd grow into lean gangly basketball players or short squat football players who'd be the big jocks of High School and then go to College and find themselves knocked on they asses when they played against brothers for the first time.
"Come on, come on," I said under my breath, the engine of the Sanchez off now, moving quietly down streets lit up by streetlights but empty of people. It was the right time of year, but I was still taking a longsho.... there!
One of the houses sat in with all the others, nothing making it stand out except that the grass was a little longer, a newspaper was jammed into the mailbox at midnight, and it was hot enough even this late at night that a couple of places down the street had windows open.... but not this place.... the owners were on holiday.
I walked the Sanchez up the driveway to the garage and checked the side door - not locked, why would it be, the family car would be with the family, and there was nothing inside but some half empty paint cans. I wheeled the Sanchez through the side door, then closed it behind me and moved up to the house, grabbing a rock to wrap in my undershirt and smash a pane in the door to break in.... only when I picked up the rock, I felt something weird and looked... the key was taped to the bottom.
"God bless white people," I said with a grin, and let myself in and crashed on they bed, and slept through to early the next morning.
The next morning I waited till I was sure I could slide out the house unnoticed and get back onto the main street, then walked up the road towards the local Diner/Gas Station. I was supposed to met Cesar's cousin there sometime today, I figured I could get some breakfast, pick up some razors, maybe some new clothes. Sit down, have some breakfast, read the paper, find out what was going on in the world.
Yeah, it all made perfect sense to me, I could see it now, a nice quiet day sitting in a little diner, maybe some fine country bumpkin waitress flirting with the brother, enjoying the first day of the rest of my life.
What I got, was Catalina.
"WHAT THE FUCK DO JOO WANT!?!" the crazy bitch shouted at me, knife still at the cowboy's throat, turning to stare at me. Her eyes were black, she was like some kind of insane witch or something (body was fine, though, which was probably what caused the problem to start with) and now all her attention was on me.
"Nothing," I told her quickly, before she got the idea to point that knife at me,"I'm looking for a friend of mine's cousin, Mexican guy, he ain't here...."
I stopped talking, because now she was staring at me harder than before.
"JOO!?!" she shouted, and I got a sinking feeling in my stomach,"But Cesar said joo was a real man!"
Oh.... fuck you, Cesar.
She shoved the cowboy's face back and stepped away as he recovered and stood staring at her and the knife, wondering if his pride was worth taking another shot at her.
"Lady," I told her,"I'm a God fearing, peace loving, man of the people."
She pushed me outside, the knife disappearing into her pants like it hadn't been there.... girl had skill, I had to admit that, plus... damn, she was fine!
"Where's joor car!?!" she yelled at me, but at normal volume... how the fuck she do that?
"Where's yours?" I asked right back at her, and she looked surprised for a second.
"La... ladies don't drive themselves," she said, then her eyes went hard again,"That's what men are for!"
"Oh my goodness!" I said, rolling my eyes and turning to walk towards the parking lot of the diner,"Thanks Cesar, appreciate this, homie."
"So, what's your name?" I asked her as we walked, a Wayfarer motorcycle parked in the lot,"Where we going?"
"My name is Catalina," she told me,"And we gonna take this county for every stinking cent!"
"O...kay, good plan... I guess," I shrugged, figuring it was as good a place to start as any.
"Joor damn straight it's a good plan!" she shouted at me, then got down to business,"I've cased four soft targets; a leeck-ah store in Blueberry, a bank in Palomino Creek, a gas station here in Dillimore, and a betting shop in Montgomery!"
"Hold up, girl," I said, putting my hand up,"Which one first?"
"JOOR THE DRIVER, JOO DUMB PIG!" she shouted at me, eyes wide like she couldn't believe I'd asked,"JOO CHOOSE!"
"Jesus Christ, lady," I said,"Calm the fuck down."
"Hotwire the fucking bike, joo idiota!" she yelled, and I sighed and shook my head and turned around to the Wayfarer to work my magic. I fired it up and she hopped onto the back, pressing her crotch up against the small of my back.... damn, she was fine.
"You're.... you're pretty high strung, huh, lady," I said.
"Yeah?" she hissed in my ear, sliding her hands over my sides so the fingers were just up under my pecs,"And what are joo? Some laid back gang banger dude?"
"I keep myself to myself," I said back, hard,"That's my style."
"Cesar says joo got a brother in jail, another brother dead, a mother just killed, and joo got a bent cop on joor case!" she said, making it sound accusing, like it was all my fault.
"I ain't listening to you," I said, backing up the Wayfarer and turning it towards the main road and the gas station.
"Joo think that is keeping joorself to joorself, eh amigo?" she mocked me,"Reeeeal cool? Joo just an idiota!"
"And you're real charming," I mocked her right back, feeling her hands clutching down tighter on my chest as I rode the Wayfarer down the street,"A proper lady."
We pulled up outside the gas station and she was off the Wayfarer in a flash, moving to the dumpster against the wall and flipping it open. Looks like she had a weapon cased, she might be a crazy (but fine) bitch, but it looked like she was pretty profession-
Well okay, maybe not.
The brother behind the glass looked like this wasn't the first time he'd had a gun pointed at him, and he didn't look impressed. He walked right up to the window, the white guy behind the counter looking a lot more nervous, smiled at Catalina and said,"This here's bulletproof glass, so you can just fuck off, bitch, before I call the sheriff."
"Damn, that nigga's got stones," I said under my breath.
"What are you doing, son?" shouted the cracker behind the counter,"Just give her the cash!"
"Suit joorself, maricon," hissed Catalina, and I noticed that shotgun hadn't moved a fucking cunthair from the time she lifted it to now.... this was one hardcore bitch. Suddenly she was turning and moving, back to the gas station, heading towards a tanker truck, shouting back at me,"Change of plan, Carl, we're taking the tanker!"
"Well thanks for using my name," I sighed, then ran after her.
"Those motherfuckers are chasing us, Carl!" Catalina shouted, actually fucking pouting,"Make them go away!"
"Jesus, Catalina, they can't hurt us," I said,"We're in a truck and they're in a....
I looked into the rearview mirror to see what it was they were driving.... it was a fucking Sabre.
A motherfucking Sabre!
I got out of the car and pulled my strap out my waistband, walking towards the Sabre driving towards us.
"CARL! WHAT THE FUCK JOO DOING!?!" she yelled,"GET IN THE FUCKING TRUCK AND DRIVE!"
I opened fire, and the brother and his cracker friend swerved wildly out the way, but I followed them, firing at the engine, blasting round after round into it. Catalina let out a squeal, sounding excited and happy and jumped out of the car as well, lifting her shotgun and opening fire as well.
"NOW we can drive," I told Catalina, cold as ice, as she hopped back up into the truck, and I shifted into gear and started the tanker rolling, moving through the street, people who had been hiding coming out to point at the flaming wreckage of the Sabre, then at the truck - the gas station monkeys standing watching us go, brother shaking his head like he couldn't believe it.
"Oooooh Carl, that was so.... manly," Catalina moaned, sliding up beside me, her titties pressing against my arm.... goddamn that girl was fine,"Keep driving, baby, I know a guy who'll pay for this rig and its cargo."
"Yeah, yeah," I said, trying not to make it too obvious how her body pressing against mine was making me feel.... it HAD been six weeks since I'd had any company,"Just give me directions."
"Oooooh, Carl," she moaned,"I like a man who knows when to do what he's told."
"You got a fine accent, girl," I told her,"You ain't Mexican like Cesar, where you from? You Colombian? Puerto Rican?"
"It don't matter where I been," she told me, sliding her hand over mine on the gearstick,"Only where I'm going."
"Yeah, girl?" I asked,"Where's that?"
"Take a left here," she moaned, thighs rubbing together, titties pressing firmer against my arm, hand sliding down onto the gear stick now, rubbing up and down, up and down,"Joo like what joo see, Carl?"
"Yeah girl, yeah," I said in a whisper, finding it difficult to breath,"Yeah."
"Well, Carl," she moaned, sliding right up over the seat now, titties squashed against my arm, breathing into my ear, my foot easing off the accelerator, tanker truck slowing down as she inhaled and...."GET USED TO DOING IT JOORSELF, JOO DUMB IDIOTA! DON'T JOO EVER FUCKING PUT ONE OF MY FUCKING JOBS IN JEOPRADY AGAIN JOO STUPID MOTHERFUCKER!"
"AHHH GODDAMMIT, BITCH!" I screamed, pulling away and swerving the truck, lucky I'd slowed down when she was all up on me,"WHAT THE FUCK!?!"
"Take the next fucking right, joo piece of shit," she snapped, sitting back in her seat now, looking bored,"And don't fucking speak to me again unless I speak to you."
"You crazy fucking bitch," I whispered, shaking my head.... what the fuck had Cesar gotten me into?
We pulled into RS Haul and Catalina jumped out of the truck, big smile on her face as a potbellied middle-aged brother stepped out of his office with a smile.
"Hello, Mr. Whittaker!" she shouted, giving him a hug as I got out of the car and walked away to get some fresh air and clear my head. Where the fuck did people like Catalina come from? Bitch was just completely and totally insane.... but fucking hell she was fine.... damn, I needed to get laid badly, but if I had a go at her there was every chance she'd let me, then eat me afterwards.
My phone started to ring and I popped it out while Catalina went on talking and flirting with Mr. Whittaker, and for some strange reason I felt jealous. Placing the phone to my ear, I said,"Hey Cesar, your cousin i-"
"Carl," said a voice I didn't recognize, kind of deep and nasal, a white guy, but sounding like he was talking to me from a looooong way away. For some reason, the name that came into my head was Ryder.
"Who this?" I asked.
"You know me," the voice told me, sounding deep and fucked up at the same time, just like Ryder,"This is... The Truth."
"....no... I don't," I told "The Truth".
"Perfection," rasped The Truth's voice,"They said you were a moron."
What the fuck!?! Who said I was a moron?
"WHO?" I yelled.
"Okay," The Truth said, sounding bored now,"You can drop the act now, kid."
"You the police?" I asked, and The Truth sighed.
"No," he said, sounding like he was educating me, lecturing,"We have a mutual friend, and business partner."
"We do, who?" I asked, feeling like I was hearing only one half of a conversation between two other people.
"Yes, have you killed any cops lately?" The Truth asked me, sounding amused.
"Oh man, Tenpenny,"I sighed,"I should have known, that asshole."
"So, I've got a room at a motel at Angel Pine, make sure nobody follows you," The Truth told me.
"Angel Pine!?!" I shouted,"Man I can't go ba-"
But "The Truth" had hung up.
"Man that was fucking weird," I said, then turned around, seeing Catalina getting onto a yellow Sanchez, giggling at something Mr. Whittaker was saying.
"Pleasure not doing business with you," she told him, wheeling the bike up beside me.
"Okay, lady," I said,"You driving so where to now? Palomino Creek? Blueberry? Montgomery?"
She looked me up and down, then tossed me a roll of cash, half the money that Mr. Whittaker had given her for the business they just "hadn't" done.
"Joo fucking stink and joo have a stupid beard," she said,"Go buy some new clothes and get a haircut, joo fucking loser."