Catalina had handed me the keys along with the deed, so I was able to open the place up instead of standing outside freezing my ass off. We didn't go in though, because Cesar had called to say they were almost there, and I figured we could do it as a family thing. I'd already decided that the garage looked like shit on the outside but that didn't matter, it was the interior that mattered, and between me and Cesar I knew we could make this work - put Kendl on accounts, we'd have us an operating garage in no time.
"San Fierro," Truth said, rocking back on his feet and staring around the city,"The corporations rolled in during the 80s after the high tide from the 60s and 70s faded, same as they did everywhere else.... but San Fierro was different, it held on, man, it resisted."
"What that mean?" I asked him.
"Free love, higher consciousness, true liberal values, my brother," say Truth, his eyes taking on a faraway look,"The Corporations and the Government sunk their roots in deep and tried to suck out all the life... but it didn't take, they stayed but they never took over, the revolution never ended in San Fierro, Carl, the American Dream lives on."
"I don't know about that, man," I said,"Ain't this city full of fruity-booties and people who can't let go the past?"
"You're standing in front of your own business you won in a race over the heart of a woman," laughed Truth,"Tell me that the American Dream isn't alive and well in Fierro."
"Okay, okay," I grinned,"You got me there."
"It all goes back to the egg, Carl," he told me,"Karma, the undeniable force of the Universe."
"What's undeniable is it colder than a witch's tit out here, where the fuck is Cesar?" I asked, then grinned as I heard a horn and looked over to see Kendl riding up in Cesar's Savanna, loaded up with boxes of they stuff. Behind her, grinning ear to ear with about a million teeth showing, was Cesar in my ZR 350.
"Ooooh, that is a FLY ride, holmes!" he laughed, getting out the car as Kendl came and joined him,"I got to get me one of those."
"Is this it?" asked Kendl, frowning as she looked at the garage,"It looks like it should be condemned."
"On the outside, yeah," I told her, confident I would be right about the inside, taken in by Truth's talk about the American Dream. I unlocked the garage door,"But check THIS ou-"
"That fucking snake without a tongue!" I ranted, stomping around inside the shitty, stripped down..... fucking hollow block of fucking stone was what it was! Useless, a fucking dump!"Gave me this shithole instead of a pink slip!?!"
"Holmes, take it easy," Cesar said, stepping up towards me,"At least we're alive."
"Carl, friend," rolled out of Truth's mouth, mellow and smooth,"Fellow traveler, relax, man,".... you're really killing my fucking vibe here!"
"Well, I'm sorry I'm fucking up your vibe, old man! But I can't wait to get my hands on that mute!" I shouted, then rounded on Cesar, surprising him,"AND your bitch ass cousin!"
"My cousin?" shouted Cesar back, taking me by surprise and making me step back,"You're gonna dis my familia!?!"
I stood facing off with him, suddenly unsure, last thing I wanted to do was piss off Cesar, but I was so fucking mad at Catalina, and he didn't even like her but it was a pride thing and... shit, everything was falling apart, everything wa-
Kendl stepped up directly between us and the look she put on both of us cut us both off, the kind of look only a woman can give, the kind you never want to see. Cesar broke first, turning away and stomping off muttering shit in Spanish under his breath.
"My bad, man," I called after him, trying to make amends too late,"I'm just pissed for all of us."
I turned to Kendl, but she was still giving me that look, and now I found myself trying to explain myself, like when I was a kid and Moms would give me the same look.
"I mean... look, we in a strange place, we got shit to our name.... and for once I try to make something work, this garage..."
"THEN make it into a garage!" Kendl shouted at me, and I just stood staring at her.... what the fuck?
"Oohhhhhhh," I said at last, rolling my eyes,"That's a great idea, sis! Why don't you shut up?"
"He-" started Cesar, but Kendl slapped his shoulder and shut him up as I turned to walk away.
"You know what, Carl," she yelled,"You are a fucking idiot."
I stopped, now hang on a fucking second! I started to turn but she was already there, up in my face, jabbing me in the chest with her finger.
"Your whole life you've wanted something for nothing!" she yelled, hitting each point with a jab to my chest,"Now you've got something, and you don't know what to do with it.... well, make it good enough!"
She turned to Cesar,"We'll help, right?"
"We got your back, CJ," he told me, and for a second I wanted to believe, but....
"C'mon stop tripping, man," Kendl shouted at me, then looked at Cesar, seeing something I didn't,"Both of you!"
"WOOOOAHHHH MAN!" laughed Truth suddenly, surprising all of us and breaking the tension as we all turned to look at him, sitting cross-legged on the cement floor,"The energy here - it's fantastic!"
He lifted his arms up high and started that weird "Ommmmmm" thing he did, and I shook my head and turned back to Cesar and Kendl, both of whom were still staring, not as used to "Truth" as I was.
"Yeah, alright," I nodded to Kendl,"But how am I gonna find some good mechanics to work up in here, man?"
And then Truth came to the rescue again... kinda... I think.
Cesar came out with us and we looked at the ZR and his Savanna.
"Let's get these things in storage," I said, reaching through the door and hitting the button to open the storage garage off to the side. The door lifted and we all looked at each other, surprised, there was a car inside, a red Emperor. Cesar went and took a look, then laughed.
"Hey, it's unlocked and the keys are in the ignition, this must have been our quiet friend's ride!"
"I'll take that," I told him,"You take the right garage, I'll take the left, we'll store our rides in there."
Cesar nodded and drove the Bravura out, then moved to park the cars.
"So where we going, Truth?" I asked him.
"There's these two guys I know - used to work on marine engines, 'til the mob bought their business over in Vice," he told me,"Now they try and make ends meet by taking any old job... they're a little bit dulled by their habit, but the smoke don't get in the way of their skills with an engine."
We hopped into the Emperor and I pulled up beside Cesar as he closed the garage doors.
"We'll be back soon, you and Kendl take a look around the place, settle yourselves in," I said, and he grinned and nodded. I had a horrible feeling he had his own ideas about how to settle in with Kendl, and the least said the better, she was my sister, after all.
"We'll pick up Jethro first," Truth told me,"Last I heard, he was working at a garage over Easter Basin way."
"Turn that off, man," I said as he reached over and turned on The Dust,"That Freebird shit was all right, but I wanna hear some Radio Los Santos."
I flicked the tuner over to RLS' frequency and heard Julio G's voice and felt a wave of relief come over me.... goddamn it felt good t-
"...Carl, that's the word she used, she said she's desperate man....." Julio G was saying, then he started laughing,"What is this, man? This ain't lonely hearts, this is Radio Los Santos! 'sall good though, we gonna keep it moving around here!"
"Okay maybe not Radio Los Santos," I said, quickly flicking the station... shit, Denise, I hadn't thought about Denise in awhile, damn.
"Put on WCTR, man," Truth suggested,"Tune in to the groove of the city, WCTR is the best for that."
"What's that?" I asked.
"It's a public radio station with locked in funding, so it can't ever go away," laughed Truth,"The people who run it kind of live in their own world, they represent The Establishment but no one can remember exactly WHAT establishment it is they represent any more. The people working there realized a long time ago they can pretty much do as they please, it's like a radio station run by inmates at an asylum.... fucking thing of beauty man."
"Okay.... I guess," I said,"That sounds interesting.... I think."
I tuned it in, and next thing I knew some bitch was shouting in a snotty voice at me about funding for a museum.
"What the fuck?" I said.
That's Lianne Forget," grinned Truth as we drove through the streets and he gave me directions,"This shit is like performance art, man.... I can't tell if she's a news presenter who wants to be an actress or an actress who forgot she wasn't a performance artist."
Then suddenly it was a man shouting, "reporting" from Los Santos about the gang wars that had gone down recently, even though I knew that had been over for weeks now.
"The street wars between gangs of Ballas and Grove Street hoodlums came to a head recently when several senior Grove Street gang members were killed, while others were incarcerated," he was shouting,"The
police described that as, and I'm quoting, 'Excellent news.' Back to you, Lianne."
She started talking some shit about repairs following an earthquake that had cut off a couple of counties, but in the background I could hear the guy having a whispered conversation with someone, asking if "it" had been cut.
"I can't listen to this no more," I said, switching the radio off,"They sound like they about to start flapping they wings or some rocket up they ass is about to go off."
"Different strokes," shrugged Truth,"Take this tunnel on the right."
"Hey man," I said after a moment, when the quiet started getting to me,"How'd you meet these dudes anyway?"
"I met them at the '89 Fierro Love-in.... apparently," Truth told me as we moved through the tunnel.
"Apparently?" I asked.
"You know how it is, man," he grinned,"A field of tents, crazy-assed music, a quart of mescaline vodka, polar bears..."
"Polar bears?!" I shouted.
"Yeah," he said, like it wasn't no thing,"Go figure... but they were funny guys, man - great sense of humor."
I couldn't tell if he was talking about the mechanics or the polar bears, and I was too scared to ask.
"Hey Jethro!" shouted Truth out the window, and the dude bumped his head on the underside of the car.
"Shit," I said, quietly.
"Hop in, man," laughed Truth as Jethro stood up rubbing his head,"I've landed you a real job."
"Hey there Truth dude!" laughed Jethro, and you could tell in his voice he was a stoner,"Oh man.... do I... owe you? Coz I swear I paid for that weed, dude!"
"No, man," said Truth as Jethro hopped in the back seat,"We're good.... I think..... Jethro, Carl. Carl, Jethro."
"Okay, where next?" I asked.
"Can we swing by the hospital?" Truth asked after a moment of stroking his beard, while Jethro bopped along a quiet little tune by himself in the backseat,"It's over in Santa Flora district, west of here."
"Yeah... you sick?" I asked.
"NO," he said simply, then added,"The Government is, but that's a long story."
I shrugged - I was already learning that you just rolled with whatever Truth told you, and started driving, following his directions as we drove through the city towards the hospital.
"So.... y'know... like what's the deal, dudes?" asked Jethro.
"I'm opening a garage in Doherty by the waste ground," I told him,"You know, car mods, lowriders, all that shit... you down?"
"Do polar bears shit in the woods?" chuckled Jethro.
"No, but they've been known to shit in the liquor tent, if I remember it right," laughed Truth, and Jethro laughed too.
"Yeah, that was, like, so far gone, man."
"Nothin'," Truth told me, leaning forward and peering at the exit ramp from the staff parking area of the hospital.
"Okay, I've seen enough," said Truth, yawning,"Let's go see if we can find Dwaine."
"He's working a hotdog van at the tram terminal in King's," Jethro said, rooting around in his ear with a finger.
"......" I said, why the hell were both of them acting like what had just happened had been normal.
"Carl?" asked Truth,"You gonna drive or not?"
"C'mon, dude, what was all that about?" I asked him, pointing at where the van had rolled out, something weird about it... sinister, that was the word.
"You don't want to know," he told me, all matter of fact,"Do you know what a sub-dermal neurophone is?"
"A what?" I asked, pulling out of the parking lot shaking my head.
"Sometimes it's best to stay in the dark, kid," he told me, and leaned back in his seat.
"It's totally shit," wheezed Dwaine, taking a big toke off of his joint right out there in the open,"Why, what's happenin'?"
"My friend Carl here is opening a chop shop," Truth explained,"Jethro's in, how about you?"
"Ah yeah, heh," grinned Dwaine, dropping me a slow stoned wink he probably thought was sly,"Cool man... uh, I've got like some shit to take care of first though, so uh you tell me where you guys are going to be at and I'll meet you dudes there."
I told him where to go, and he turned around and kind of strolled in a rolling walk to his hot dog van, got in and.... shit, I had to remind myself not to let him test drive any cars we brought in to work on.
"OK," said Truth, rubbing his hands together,"Next stop the cop station downtown."
"WHAT!?!" I shouted,"You out your mind! Why?"
"If I told you," sighed Truth,"The likelihood is you'd get a probe up your ass within a month."
"Like, listen to the man, dude," said Jethro from the back, where he'd been crouched over trying to tie his shoelaces,"He's real serious about that shit."
"Wuh?" I said, more confused than ever,"OK, but you're starting to freak me out with all that space shit, man."
I wasn't even going to ask him, I just turned the Emperor out of our parking spot and asked him where to next.
"There's an electronics guy I've had dealings with," Truth said, stroking his beard,"Goes by the name of Zero, he could fix a supercomputer with a paperclip."
"Okay, where he at?" I asked.
"He's got his own shop, but he's always ready to help fellow travelers along the path."
I followed his directions, but as I drove the shit with the vans started bothering me more and more, and I couldn't hold out any longer.
"Look, what's goin' on, Truth?" I asked,"Who was them dudes."
"Don't go there, man, listen to Jethro," he warned, then looked around all crafty like,"Now, what if I told you we never went to the moon, JFK lives in Scotland with Janis Joplin, and the only reason we've been in a Cold War for the last forty-five years was because snake-headed aliens run the oil business?"
"I'd think you popped another microdot," I said.
"Gooood," he grinned,"Keep it that way."
There was a nerdy looking little white kid sitting in front of the store this Zero dude owned, flying a little remote controlled helicopter. Nerd like that was lucky to be living in San Fierro, any other city in San Andreas he would have had his ass ki-
"Leave me alone Berkley!" the kid yelled in a nasal, nerdy voice... only it wasn't a kid, he was just a scrawny little white dude, fully grown,"This is stalking!"
"Get in," grinned Truth, throwing a thumb over his shoulder to the backseat,"I'll fill you in as we drive."
He didn't say a second word, apparently people just knew to take Truth at his word and do what he says... and I thought again about how he'd had Tenpenny under his thumb, and I could start to see why. The cat was onto SOMETHING, I just couldn't figure out what.
"Home, James!" grinned Truth, and hell if I didn't do what I was told as well.
"Carl, Zero, Zero, Carl," Truth introduced us,"Carl here is opening a garage around the corner. I told him you're the man to speak to when it comes to electronics."
"Actually," Zero said, wiping his glasses on his shirt and sounding fucking PROUD,"I'm the ONLY man to speak to... hehe, Grade A, tip-top genius, that's me."
He put his glasses back on and kind of blinked in surprise as he took a close look at me for the first time, realizing I was black.
"You should drop by the shop sometime," he said, obviously choosing his words real careful,"See some of my shit, bro."
Oh lord, he was white.
"A week of hard work and we'll transform this place," I told Jethro and Dwaine as they looked over the shitty interior, while Zero put his arms behind his back and jerked his neck about like some kind of bird, checking out what was left of the machinery that mute motherworker had worked with in here.
"Wassup?" asked Cesar, walking up and looking the three new guys - Zero especially - over.
"Hey man," said Dwaine.
"Dude," nodded Jethro.
"Salutations, my sibling," said Zero, bowing with his arms pressed together.
Cesar just stood staring at the three, then nodded his head.
"Horale, let's get to work," he said, and took them deeper inside the garage, telling them what needed to be done. I grinned, I could already feel things starting to come together, and then Kendl came rushing up with a big grin on her face to match mine.
"Carl, I think I found a way for us to get paid!" she told me.
"I ain't going to no college to study no accounting!" I told her, grinning but only half joking.
"No, idiot, property!" she shouted, but grinning as well.
"Decorating ain't exactly my thing, either," I teased her.
"God, you're as bad as those idiot construction workers out there," she laughed, rolling her eyes.
"What's that?" I shouted, looking out the window and seeing the waste ground was being worked on, and apparently some of the workers been saying things about MY sister?
"Oh we'll just see about th-" I started, but Kendl threw her hand up in my face.
"Forget those morons, Carl," she snapped,"Look, you buy a dump like this, fix it up and sell it, or better yet, you turn the property into a business, the snowball gets bigger..."
"I dunno, sis," I told her as Cesar came back up to rejoin us, Jethro and Dwaine sweeping up now, even Zero helping out after getting himself in deep to the old fucked up machinery,"This all sounds big time to me."
"Look, Carl, this place is gonna get on its feet," she insisted,"And when it does, we are gonna have money!"
"Look," I told her, taking her by one shoulder, wanting her to know how much I appreciated it but how it wasn't possible,"I wouldn't even know where to start."
"You two concentrate on the garage," she just said back, smiling at me and Cesar,"And let me work on the property thing, OK?"
We stood outside in the sun together, looking at our little piece of San Fierro, a brand new city for us both... and maybe a brand new start.
"I got a good feeling about this place," Cesar said,"This ain't like being out in Whetstone, we could make this into a home... all of us."
"I think so too, man," I said.
"Carl," said Truth's voice, and I turned and looked over at the interior office of the garage - my office, I had to start thinking of it like that - where he was standing, the suitcase full of cash that I'd brought him at his old farm sitting by his feet.
"Yeah, man?" I asked.
"You've been meaning to ask me a question since you brought me what's mine," he said, kicking the side of the case,"Come into your office and ask it, The Truth will set you free."
I stared at him, then nodded and we went into my office, where he shut the door and pulled the blinds.
What he told me, changed my life forever.