This silent motherfucker was starting to piss me off.
On the way back from Catalina's the night before, Cesar had called me, all excited over what he'd found. Turns out what he "smelled" on the air had been nitrous oxide, there were races that happened regularly out here in the middle of nowhere, and best of all, it was all so far out that police weren't around to break up races. Actually, what was best of all was that this was a whole bunch of new racers, and Cesar had taken the chance to race with them and lose, getting to know how good they were. They didn't know about our hustles in Santos, or about me winning the Super 8, as far as the racers out here knew, we were just a couple of marks from the city come up to get out asses kicked and lose some money.
So I'd set up with him to race today, happy to do it. I needed the paper, but most of all I wanted to keep Cesar happy. I'd asked a lot of him, to turn his back on his gang after things went south in Santos, and he'd done it for Kendl. He loved racing, and we both liked making money, so why not both do it.
Trouble was I needed a good fast car to compete, and most of the pieces of shit around here wouldn't even make it to the start line, let alone win the race. That's when I remembered the spare Buffalo sitting up under shelter at Catalina's cabin, and figured I'd just borrow my "girl's" car... I just wouldn't tell her.
So early in the morning I'd snuck up to Catalina's and rolled the Buffalo out of shelter and down the hill, getting in and starting it up once I was a long way away. I didn't even know if she'd been home, but I wasn't going to risk it. One moment she was all over me and the next she was trying to kill me, and if I told her I was going to race she'd want to come along and end up trying to kill one of the other drivers. I'd driven down to Montgomery and then up to an old farmhouse around noon, other cars starting to pull up, all ready to race too. That's when I first saw him.
He looked up as I pulled into the farmhouse and a big smile crossed his face and he started walking towards me. When I parked and got out, he looked confused, then he just got this funny little grin on his face and turned to start walking away.
"Help you with something?" I asked, and he stopped to look back, grinned again, then walked off.
"Hey motherfucker, I'm talking to you!" I yelled, but he kept on moving.
"Relax, mate," laughed a white boy with blond dreadlocks,"He don't speak much... hell, he don't speak at all that I know of. Just drives like a motherfucker!"
"Yeah, he still managed to piss me off," I said, then grinned at the white boy with the accent,"Name's CJ, you British?"
"Yeah, mate, all the way from lovely London, me," he grinned,"Name's Jason, pleased to meet ya, ain't seen you around before."
"I came down from Santos, want to race out in the open," I told him,"Just waiting on a friend, you?"
"Come here at least one a week," grinned Jason,"Just waiting on The Man to get here."
"Yeah, who that?" I asked, and he laughed.
"Man, you really are new, eh?" he said,"You'll know him when he gets here - he's hard to miss."
So I ignored the silent motherfucker working on his car - pretty fly car though, an ZR-350 - and sat down on an old rusty barrel to wait for Cesar. And I waited.
More and more cars pulled up as the day went on, and then finally a little before three, Cesar pulled up in his Savanna, a big grin on his face, excited to be racing.
"Hey, I've been waiting forever, man," I told him, throwing my arms wide,"Where the hell you been?"
"Sorry, holmes, I had no idea when the race would be," he told me, and I had to grin.
"Riiight - you just happened to show up five minutes after everybody else, huh?" I asked, and he grinned back.
"When the gasoline runs through your veins like the burning passion," he laughed,"You know when it's time to race!"
"I think you're getting high on that country air, man!" I laughed, then saw Cesar looking over at my silent new friend and his ZR-350. The mute motherfucker was looking up at us, then went back to looking down at the ground.
"What's with him?" Cesar asked.
"He's an asshole," I said back, loud enough for him to hear. Cesar nodded, taking my word for it, and then slapped my shoulder, pointing over to our other side where a group of people were approaching, a couple of Asian dudes, one of them looking suave as fuck with two hot little Asian bitches hanging off of his arms.
This had to be The Man.
He walked right up to Cesar, impossible to see his eyes behind those bitching shades (I had to get me a pair of those) and actually sniffed the air!
"You haven't been to one of our meets before," he said, surprising me, his voice sounded just like anybody else's, he didn't sound like no Asian,"Where you from, friend?"
Me and Cesar exchanged looks, weirded out. Cesar HAD met him yesterday, had raced with him, but he was looking at Cesar and asking the question.... unless he was talking to me, but looking at Cesar because he figured Cesar was in charge?
"I'm from Grove Street Families, Los Santos," I told him, fronting a little and getting his attention, his head turned in my direction,"What's happening?"
"Relax," he said, breathing out and scratching the back of his head, looking... embarrassed? What kind of "The Man" was he?
"This isn't a parade, pal," he told me," But, you know, we gotta be careful.... Wu Zi Mu, but my friends call me "Woozie". How you doing?"
And then he did something even weirder. He reached out his hand to shake mine, but pointing away from me.
"Wha...?" I whispered, this dude had me off balance, maybe that's what he was intending, sizing me up or something before the race,"CJ. Carl Johnson."
He lowered his hand, looking disappointed, and put his hands behind his back, leaning forward slightly,"Listen, out here we like to race for cash or pink slips - racer's choice. Get your car started, we're about to go. Good luck, Carl Johnson."
"There's something real strange about that dude, man," I told Cesar.
"Yeah, he was acting... weird," said Cesar,"Be careful, CJ, maybe we're not the ones hustling today, you understand?"
"Fo' shure," I nodded, then headed for the Buffalo, passing the silent motherfucker.
"You joining us?" I asked him. He looked up at me, gave that weird little smile and then went back to staring at the ground. I shook my head and walked away,"Fucking freak."
I jumped out of the Buffalo and let out a whoop, Cesar throwing his arms up and cheering for me. That hadn't been anything like street racing, moving through dirt roads, over grass and through that farm had been a rush like I hadn't felt before, and I'd won! I'd won!
"Pinkslips or cash, CJ!" laughed Cesar,"Pinkslips or cash!"
"Ain't no contest, cash all the way, baby!" I laughed, but Cesar shook his head with a smile and pointed behind me.
"You might want to think about that, CJ, that's Woozie's car behind you."
I turned and looked... holy shit, another ZR-350.
"You drive with style, Carl Johnson," Woozie told me as he walked arm in arm with a fine young Asian lady up to me. She handed me a wad of cash, the money from the other racers, who could keep they cars, I had an ZR-350 now!
"I never mind losing to a guy who's willing to push himself right to the edge," he told me, then nodded towards the ZR-350,"As for me, I'm a man who honors his bet."
"Well, you learn pretty fast with the police on your ass," I said with a grin, leafing through the money.
"Listen, it's best if we clear the hell out of here as soon as possible," he told me, cocking his head to the side and frowning like he could hear something,"Because, for some reason, the local police don't appreciate our noble sport."
"Yeah, thanks for the advice," I grinned, wanting to get into that ZR-350 and open it up, see how it handled.
"Okay, I gotta go," smiled Woozie, then reached inside his coat. For a second I braced, thinking he might be going for a piece, but all he talk out was a little card,"You know what? If you ever find yourself in San Fierro, give me a call, maybe we can do a little business together."
I took the card and told him I just might do that, and then I heard what apparently he'd heard before - sirens. Damn, he had good ears.
"Damn CJ, we better book!" Cesar yelled,"You gonna leave the Buffalo here?"
"Shit, the buffalo!" I snapped, remembering Catalina,"Nah man, we'll have to roll the ZR into one of these sheds and lock it up, come back for it another time. I gotta get the Buffalo back to Catalina."
Cesar did a double take in the fog that was creeping in as it grew dark, looking at me with wide eyes.
"You borrowed Catalina's car? You got her permission?"
"Nah, I kinda forgot to tell her," I grinned, and Cesar shook his head.
"Holmes, you dancing close to the fire," he said, helping me push the ZR into a shed and padlocking it shut before he rushed for his Savanna and I moved to the Buffalo," Catalina don't like people touching her stuff."
"What's the worse that could happen!" I laughed from the Buffalo, riding up beside him to the exit to the farm as the noise of sirens got closer,"Didn't I tell you? She's in love with me!"
"Oh shit, CJ," said Cesar, head shaking so much now that it looked like it was going to fall off,"You're REALLY fucked, now. Do yourself a favor, drop off the Buffalo and take a close look around her cabin.... a REALLY close look."
He drove away and I frowned, what the fuck was he talking about look around her cabin? I shifted the Buffalo into gear and drove away through the fog, listening to K-Rose as I went, enjoying the ride, the cops wouldn't be expecting to find us anyway, just making a point of looking like they was doing they job. Nothing was going to be able to break my good mood now, I had a fly new car, business opportunities in San Fierro if I ever felt like going there, more money towards paying off Tenpenny's debt to The Truth. What the fuck could there possibly be to see at Catalina's that could wreck my moo..... oh.