Part 3: Behind The Scenes - Voice Actors 1
I was sitting on the stoop that night to get out the heat when Ryder came sliding by, moving with that relaxed, fucked up style of his.
"Whassup, nigga?" he asked,"Let's go see your brother."
"Sure, why not," I replied, getting up off the stoop and stepping up beside him, where I been thinking about the situation I'm in, stuck in Los Santos now whether I like it or not, back in Grove, maybe under Tenpenny's thumb, maybe under Sweet's too. I looked around at the quiet street, only a couple of homies in Grove colors shooting the shit,"What happened to the Grove, man? Shit used to be jumping here at night."
"Fucking base man, fucking drug addicts," grunted Ryder, taking a deep drag on his blunt,"Pathetic."
We stepped up onto Sweet's stoop and through the open door - Sweet wanting to beat the heat too - and right into a fucking shitstorm.
Sweet was the leader of Grove Street Family, but Smoke be his number one, and they was in full strategizing mode, and Sweet looked PISSED, disagreeing with Smoke who was playing devils advocate or some such shit.
"No crack ever made a gang tight!" Sweet be saying, grabbing a drink out the icebox, they arguing about his (least) favorite subject, drugs.
"I don't know man," say Smoke, sitting down, looking cool and relaxed, making his point while Sweet rant and rave. Smoke noticed us, turning and asking me whassup.
"Man, all they care about is smoking and money," grunted Sweet, not letting our arrival cut him off now he had a head of steam, and Smoke not letting him get away with just going off.
"You can't knock a homie's hustle, Sweet," he countered, and I had to admit he did have a point. I wouldn't touch that shit myself, but I could see why others did, much paper to be made in drugs, if you didn't end up smoking it all when you hooked yourself.
"Them marks ain't soldiers," snapped Sweet,"They're idiots trying to be business men!"
"Yeah, but they're down with us, man!" came back Smoke, leaning his big ass forward, getting pissed now.
"All they down with is money," spat Sweet, then turned and looked at me, bringing me into it,"CJ - go down there and show these fools you mean business!"
Shit, go throw myself into a fight with a bunch of fucked up niggas with nothing to do but work out all day, then fuck they heads up on drugs that make them not feel pain? Shit Sweet, might as well ask me to grab my nuts and call a lion a motherfucker!
That's what I thought, what I said was one half jack and the other half shit, I wasn't smart like Smoke, and in the fucked up situation C.R.A.S.H. had me in, I in no position to be pissing off Sweet.
"These chumps from the Ballas are sweating the homies," snapped Sweet,"Go put pressure on them. Just do it."
"We be putting time in the hood," I lied, all I'd done since I got back was cover up some Balla tags, almost get killed by some minimum wage cracker at a pizza place and sit my ass on the stoop trying to figure out how to get back to Liberty City,"But we gotta get the homies back together, like the old days."
"Yeah you right!" agreed Sweet, and for a second I thought he'd seen reason, wasn't going to send me on a suicide mission... till he say,"So you and Ryder go handle your business!"
I turned and looked at Ryder, who was just staring at me blankly from behind his sunglasses, not making no expression but saying plain as day,"Well fuck you very much, nigga."
We stepped out, hearing Sweet going back to laying into Smoke, telling him dealers slang to their own momma, that they didn't give a shit about nothing, and Smoke telling him he was naive and wasn't focused on the bigger picture. I wasn't looking at no big picture either, just turning to Ryder to try and find some kind of out.... big... out? Oh shit!
B Dup was a homie from back in the day, not close like Smoke and Ryder, but a stand up nigga, built like a fucking truck. If he was still around, having him throwing down with us on those Ballas wouldn't be a suicide mission after all.
"Nah, but him and the homeboy Bear, they'd be good to have on our side," nodded Ryder.
Big Bear! Fuck me how I forget about Bear!?! Nigga stood near seven foot, too clumsy to play ball but could pick grown men up by they head with one fucking hand... I never thought him and B Dup be close, but shit changes in five years I guess.... shit, it wasn't going to be no suicide mission against the Ballas now, we were going to slaughter those bustas!
We stepped outside, walking towards Sweet's Greenwood, Ryder telling me B Dup's was only a couple of blocks away. We started driving, Ryder telling me that apart from Sweet, Smoke and - of course - himself, Grove Street didn't bang no more, more interested in getting blow than blowing away Ballas. It was a sorry state, I'd gotten out of the life, and while my life in Liberty City wasn't anything great, at least I wasn't fucking up my life on crack or that other shit they be slanging.
We pulled up into a shitty looking block of apartments, Ryder gripping on a baseball bat he'd grabbed from Sweet's yard, getting himself geared up for when we met the Ballas. I stepped on up in front of him and he told me to slow the fuck up, Ryder taking time to build up his energy, to move out of his fucked up stoned slow-mo movement, telling me I didn't even know which door was B Dup's. I pointed to the first door we came to and asked if that was the one and he said yeah, fucking Ryder, tell me to hold up when I'm right at the fucking door... shit.
I knocked, telling B Dup to open up, and he pulled the door open and set sights on me for the first time in five years.
He started shutting the door in my face, and I threw my hand up to block it, pissed now, saying words I had no right to say considering where I'd been the last five years.
"Wait, hold up, man, what happened to "4 life", nigga?" I demanded, pushing the door open and stepping into his place.
"The only thing that matters is the hood, homie," he told me,"But you'll never understand what getting this money is like."
Shit, B Dup was dealing.
I stepped right up to his face, B Dup bigger than me, but I still thought I could take him if it came down to it, Ryder backing me up with his bat.... but B Dup had never had any backdown in him, even if he was dealing base now, and told me to get the fuck out, before turning and making the call for Big Bear. At first I thought he was calling in Big Bear to fuck me and Ryder up, but then I saw him and realized it was much worse than that, Big Bear wasn't a threat.
Big Bear was a fucking example.
B Dup was grinning, fucking sadistic motherfucker, stepping in my way as I tried to talk to Bear, telling me that the only thing Bear gave a fuck about anymore was smoking and keeping his house clean.
"Ain't that right, Big Bear?" he grinned.
"Hell yeah," grunted Bear, crouched up, scratching at his upper arms, dealing with the jitters, bugging for his fix.
"Hell yeah, what?" sneered B Dup.
"Hell yeah, sir!" moaned Bear.
"Now go make that motherfucking toilet sparkle!" he ordered, and Bear... Bear rushed off to do it.
"Everyone likes to party sometimes, CJ," grinned B Dup, backing us up out the door,"I'll see you around."
"Fuck you, nigga!" I snapped as the door shut, then turned and started walking down the hall with Ryder, shaking my head, still not able to believe what I'd just seen,"I see what you mean now, man. If crack can do that to Big Bear, turn him into a base slave, the average motherfucker ain't got a chance."
I nodded as Ryder took a deep drag, then we headed outside, just the two of us, and still with orders from Sweet to deal to the Balla dealers in our set.
We cruised through the streets in Sweet's Greenwood, passing Ten Green Bottles, the local bar, when suddenly Ryder slapped my shoulder, pointing to the front yard of one of the houses, motherfucker standing there, dealing right out in the open to a fool in Grove Street colors.
I pulled up on the curb a little up from Ten Green Bottles, stepping out of the car, then freezing up as a patrol car moved by. It passed right in front of the deal, and the dealer didn't pause even a second, going right on taking the homie's money... and motherfucking 5.0 just kept on driving, doing nothing to put a stop to it.
"Motherfucking Tenpenny," I muttered.
"Huh?" asked Ryder.
"Nothing," I replied, not wanting to go into it. Everyone knew Tenpenny was crooked, and he dictated what was law and what wasn't in the hood.... it looked to me like he'd given Ballas free reign to deal in Grove Street turf, that motherfucker,"Let's teach this fool a lesson."
I vaulted the fence and the homie stepped back, recognizing me and Ryder, even as the dealer was grinning at me, figuring me for a junkie, asking me what I needed.
I gave him my answer.
We stood over him, groaning and shaking his head, and Ryder looked down and grinned, saying he knew him, knew where he lived, just across the tracks.
"Let's go check it out," he grinned.
"Eh, ain't that Front Yard Turf?" I asked. It was one thing to deal to dealers in our own set, but to go into Front Yard Balla turf?
"Man, are you a busta?" sighed Ryder.
"No, I'm down homie," I snapped back, regretting it instantly, it was like I wanted to be a gangsta again. We looked down at the fucked up dealer lying beneath us, people all ready having cleared off the block after seeing us lay into him. He was someone's son, maybe someone's brother, someone would love him and miss him if we did anything more to him.
The thing was, all the people he fucked up on yay had family too, and he didn't give a shit about them.
We stepped into the crack den using the dealer's keys, looking around a fucked up scene, paradise for some of these fools, a harem for others. Junkies laid out on the floor, Ballas sleeping on the couch, one gangsta getting his pole smoked by some toothless crackwhore in the backroom, all of them too wrapped up in their fucked up highs to realize a couple of Grove Street OGs had just stepped into the lions den.
Shit, only one Grove Street OG.... I was just doing this because these assholes were selling base to my homies and it was the right thing to do was all. Couldn't worry about that though, the Ballas were reacting slow, but they were reacting, and their were more of them than us, we had to deal with them fast.
The crackwhore was huddled in a corner moaning for Jesus, the Ballas were down, dead or as good as, and I moved from room to room, looking for any we missed, not vindictive, just looking to protect ourselves from any retaliation. I stepped into a bedroom and stared down at a girl, fine as hell, on her back and legs spread, but it was anything but hot. Bitch was so fucked up that she didn't know what the fuck was going on, didn't even care her dealers had just been iced.... fuck, wouldn't care until she started craving her next fix and couldn't get it... what a fucking waste of something so fine.
We moved outside, even Los Santos fucked up air smelling sweet after the interior of the crack den, and for a moment I wondered if I'd get the shakes, having just iced five guys in the space of 20 minutes, only a two days after returning to Los Santos.... but there was nothing. What I said before, that I'm good at this gangsta shit, I meant it.... I felt nothing, it was me or them and they were the lowest of the low, dealers.
"You didn't even run out on me," grinned Ryder, slapping me on the back.
"They gonna be mad at us," I warned, but Ryder didn't give a shit, all ready trailing back down from his adrenalin rush into his fucked up stoned stupor.
"Let's just bask in the silence of victory, motherfucker," he said, and I grinned, shit Ryder, how the fuck did I ever get by without you?
We stepped out into the silent night, the quiet before the storm that was going to come.
The Ballas were going to strike back, and we both knew it would be sooner rather than later.
Four days back and I already falling into a routine. Get up in the morning, have some breakfast, step outside and sit on the stoop till Ryder roll his ass out of bed, then walk together to Sweet's, where Smoke all ready hanging, arguing with Sweet about how to run what was left of Grove Street Family.
"Respect has to be earned, Sweet, just like money," Smoke was saying as they stepped out onto the stoop, meeting me and Ryder. They'd been arguing, obviously, and shit was looking tense.
"So what you saying, you don't respect me?" demanded Sweet, and Smoke turned and looked him right in the eye. Me and Ryder exchanged looks.... oh shiiiiit.
"What I'm saying is..." started Smoke, a warning in his voice.
"speak up, nigga!" yelled Sweet, bumping right up on Smoke, and I knew this was going to be it, shit was about to go down between Grove Street Family's leaders.
Oh shit Smoke, fuck you, haha.
"Man cannot live on bread alone," laughed Smoke as we walked down towards Sweet's Greenwood,"I know. I've tried that shit!"
Smoke looked me up and down, saying I looked a little thin, like I needed more food. Well yeah, I found a cannot fail diet in Liberty City called poverty, but I didn't think I looked that bad, but all the fucking homies were jacked up like bodybuilders... or fat like Smoke. Ryder suggested tacos, but Smoke wanted chicken, Cluckin Bell, best damn fried chicken in Los Santos. Ryder didn't want chicken, but he got voted down, I could go for chicken, and Sweet didn't give a fuck.
We piled into the Greenwood and I started driving, seemed to be my new lot in life even though my driving always been weak. Sweet cracked a joke at Smoke, saying he about to pass out from lack of food, and I figured now was the best time to finally ask the question.
"How'd Mom get killed, we gotta talk about it," I said, and finally heard the news from Ryder they should have told me when I first got back, explaining why Sweet had been so fucked up around me... whoever killed Moms, they was gunning for Sweet.
"How you supposed to know that," growled Smoke at Ryder,"You know what people are like, say they have love for you but won't say a word, too damn scared."
"Some people say they saw a green sabre doing the work," Ryder offered, while Sweet sat brooding in his seat, not saying anything,"Then speeding away."
"Yeah, but people like to talk, don't they," grunted Smoke, sounded pissed with Ryder,"Anyway, that's half of Santos you talkin' about."
"Yeah you right, my bad," muttered Ryder.
"Hey bro?" I asked Sweet, who still hadn't said anything.
"They just sprayed the house," he snapped grumpily,"I ain't see shit."
We drove on in an uncomfortable silence till we reached Cluckin Bell, pulling up to the drive-thru window and deciding what we wanted to order.
"Hey, I'll take a number 9, fat boy," I said.
"Gimme a number 9, just like his," shrugged Ryder, who hadn't wanted chicken anyway.
"Let me get a number 6 with extra dip," spoke up Sweet from the back, and then Smoke leaned forward to give his order.
"I'll have two number 9s, a number 9 large, a number 6 with extra dip, a number 7.... two number 45s, one with cheese, and a large soda."
As we waited for our food and the Cluckin Bell guys to kill a herd a buffalo for Smoke's, I turned back to Sweet.
"Hey, sorry, Bro, you know I gotta know about Moms."
"I know CJ, I know," he replied, looking out the window,"I mean I'm just trying not to think about it, is all."
I could understand that, Moms died in an attempted hit on him, no wonder he felt guilty, no wonder he was pissed at me... it saved him being pissed at himself. As he explained he didn't know she was hit till it was all over, our order arrived and Smoke grabbed it, telling us to eat, fat man eager for his food.
I turned the corner towards the drive-thru exit, waiting for a chance to pull out as Ryder looked about, noting we were in Kilo Trayz Ballas territory. But Smoke didn't want to wait to get home to eat, opening the bags, passing Ryder his number 9 before getting into his... and then motherfucking Ballas rode right by us.
"Damn Ryder, you a jinx!" growled Sweet, and we watched as they turned onto the bridge, realizing the motherfuckers were heading for Grove Street, packing.
I hit the accelerator and peeled out onto the street, Ballas spotting us in their rearview as Ryder and Sweet grabbed out they pieces, leaning out the windows to get a shot at them before they could reach Grove Street and shoot up our homes and our homies.
"HIT THE GAS! WE GOTTA ICE THESE NIGGAS!"
All I was concentrating was on driving, keeping up with the Ballas as they blasted back at us, trying to avoid they gunfire as Sweet and Ryder blasted, hearing them ask Smoke why he wasn't blastin'.
"I'll shoot 'em when I'm done eating!" cried Smoke, voice muffled by a mouthful of food.
"QUIT STUFFING YOUR MOTHERFUCKING MOUTH! LET'S GO!" they cried as I pulled up beside the Ballas, Sweet and Ryder letting loose into the sides of the car.
"Hey, kill that asshole!" cried Smoke as a Balla blasted through the window of the Greenwood, right past his face,"Shit, this is a great sandwich!"
I shook my head, I couldn't believe this shit, all I wanted was to grab some food and have a meal with my homies, now we blazing down the streets shooting it out with some Ballas.... this shit why Moms wanted me out of Los Santos.... how fucking easy it is to fall back into Gangsta life.... and motherfucking Smoke chowing down on our food!
I looked in my rearview and I saw a couple of the Ballas rolling out of the car as it blew, cupping they heads and running for it. Shit no, you don't try to drive-by my hood and then get away. I started backing up, Ryder leaning out the window, a big grin on his face.
We rolled on back to Grove Street, Sweet and Ryder shouting at Smoke for not doing shit... except eating all our food. By the time I was parked outside though, peace was made, Sweet and Ryder on too much of a high from taking out the Ballas, and besides, you couldn't stay mad at Smoke, nigga was just too fucking precious, man.
Sweet asked us in for a beer, but Smoke said it was time he got back home, so I offered to drive him, wanting a chance to speak to him alone. We pulled away and I asked, wanting to know what was up with him, why he hadn't pulled his piece and fired on the Ballas.
"Man, if you can eat your food, while everyone else is losing theirs and blaming you.... you straight homie," smiled Smoke.
"What?" I asked, more confused than ever.
"Nothin', nothin', just some poetry I read," smiled Smoke, and we drove on a little more, till it occurred to me to ask... why had Smoke moved out of the Grove? Not living on Grove Street, not shooting on Ballas.... hell, anyone would think HE was the one been in Liberty City for five years and wanting out of the life, not me. He explained his Aunt had left him money, and he'd moved into the place he was in now because it was nice... but Grove was where his heart was, and where his dogs were at.
We pulled into his property, a nice little place with a garage, and he handed me a couple of c-notes with a smile, telling me to get a little smokey-smoke on smoke, telling me he'd missed me and Sweet had too, he was just too tore up about Moms to say it. Watching him saunter into his home before pulling out I had to grin, shit man, my life in Liberty City had been shit, I just hadn't realized it without Smoke and Ryder around... but that didn't change that I still didn't want back in the life.... shit man, just getting a meal had resulted in a car chase and icing three fools, that was no life for me.
As I headed back for Grove, I'd made my decision.
If I was going to stay in Los Santos.... I had to go legit.
I had to get a job.