As I drove up the fairway of the Avispa Country Club's golf course, an expensive set of golf clubs in the back, I thought about what Truth had told me only a few days ago and realized... the old fool had been right.
"Do good things, dude, and good things will happen to you."
After we'd picked up Dwaine, Jethro and Zero and come back to the garage, Truth had told me to come into my office (my office, it was MY office, holy shit) to ask him the question I'd been wanting to ask. So I'd stepped in, shut the door, closed the blinds, sat down at the desk and come straight out with it.
"How you get Tenpenny under yo thumb?"
"Ahhh, Tenpenny," sighed Truth, settling on the floor and crossing his legs,"I didn't."
"What you mean?" I asked,"He owed you all that paper!"
"Indeed he did," nodded Truth,"But I didn't put him under my thumb... he put himself there."
"..... WHAT?" I shouted.
"Karma, Carl, it all comes back to the egg," he said, putting his thumb and finger together in a circle on both hands, closing his eyes and leaning his head back,"The universe is a ring, everything flows into everything else."
"You been smoking again?" I asked.
"Always," he agreed, then smiled,"Carl, you get out what you put in. Tenpenny put in a suspicious mind and a cruel nature, and that came back on him. He wanted to control drugs in Los Santos, not just hard drugs but harmless stuff like our sweet friend Mary Jane. He wanted to get people onto the stronger stuff by coaxing them with marijuana, and the only place he could get a lot of marijuana was me. But he overestimated, got in too deep and ended up owing me money... and he panicked, because he thought about how HE would react if he was in my position... and put himself under my thumb."
He lifted his hands and clapped them together, opening his eyes and grinning... I had to admit, it wasn't a nice grin, he looked like a cat.
"And the Universe provided, Carl. Tenpenny needed money to pay me, he also needed weed to frame someone looking to do him harm, and the universe provided him with the key to both in you."
"Then the Universe fucked me over," I said,"What'd I ever do to it?"
"Ahhh, Carl, it's all about perspective," he told me,"Because Tenpenny gave me something more valuable than money, he gave me you. And when he tried to remove us both from the equation of his life, he put us together and brought us to San Fierro. You gained a garage and safe haven for your family, I lost my weed but gained.... something better."
"What's that?" I asked.
"Not important," he told me,"Not to you, anyway. Carl, there's a reason I introduced you to Dwaine and Jethro and Zero, and it's not because I want your garage to succeed as a business, though it will, with your sister setting the path."
"To set you on your path," he told me,"Helping you will come back to help me, I know it, because of karma - everything goes back to the egg."
I sat in my chair at my desk, looking at this crazy old hippy sitting crosslegged on my floor, and I shook my head.
"Shit," I said,"I thought you were the key, man, to getting me out from under Tenpenny, to figuring out a way to put him under MY thumb and get my brother out of jail, get revenge on Smoke and Ryder too."
He stood up and stretched.
"Carl, you don't understand," he said at last,"Do good things, dude, and good things will happen to you. Do bad thing, bad things will happen to you. The universe evens out, follow your path and Tenpenny, Smoke and Ryder will follow theirs. Maybe they will converge, maybe not, but you will all get out what you put in."
"That's it?" I asked, getting angry now,"I get you your money, save you from 5-0, get you to San Fierro and you're just going to take your money and go, leave me with nothing but some hippy bullshit about doing good to others.... well that's BULLSHIT, man! The universe don't work that way!"
"The Universe works in the long term, Carl," he told me, calm,"I don't care about this money, but it was owed to me for actions I undertook, and so I had to accept it, you don't throw the universe's favor back in its face. You brought me this case, and everything in it belongs to me, everything."
And then he reached down and grabbed the handle, lifting the case. It wasn't buckled up no more and the top flipped open, and as he lifted it the money tumbled out onto the floor. He just kept lifting, the money kept tumbling till almost all of it was sitting there on the floor of my office.
"I hope you understand, Carl," he told me, then turned and walked out of the office buckling up the case, a few stacks of notes still inside, but most of it left behind.
"Well," I said, staring wide-eyed at the money he'd left me in the office,"....shit."
The next couple of days we were just busy working on getting the garage up and running. We weren't officially "open for business" just yet, but once we were we'd be ready for it, with everything in good working order. Dwaine and Jethro were stoners but they knew they way about cars, and Zero was fucking sent from heaven, he was able to get anything working no matter how fucked up that mute motherfucker had left it.
I'd given Kendl half the money Truth had left us to get to work handling the financial side of things, keeping the rest to myself to use as I needed it, starting with picking myself up some nice new threads. With the money sorted, me and Cesar had both come to the same idea - new town, same old scams. We figured we could try and pull a quick scam with racing, but after a day spent looking, we started to figure that there wasn't much in the way of illegal street racing going on in Fierro. I remembered Woozie would come down from Fierro for his races, so maybe there wasn't nothing going on up here.... it was funny, when I thought of Woozie something seemed to tickle the back of my head, but I couldn't figure out what. Cesar thought we'd hit a break when he heard about an Amateur Invitational at the Stadium, but when we got there we found out it wasn't the kind of racing we normally took part in... and not the kind we really wanted to be taking a regular part in.
Crazy motherfuckers thought that was entertainment, the demolition derby, but it was a fucking nightmare. Me and Cesar made a couple of thousand out of it then got the fuck out, both of us agreeing it too dangerous for too little money, we'd have to find another way to make paper.
I had just started to think that maybe San Fierro was going to REALLY be different and we'd have to make our money completely legitimately when I got the call that made me think a little harder about Truth's words.
My phone had rung and I'd fished it out my pocket, wondering who it would be. Truth had up and disappeared, leaving his big ass old van full of marijuana in one of our storage garages, and I had a feeling I wouldn't see him for a little while, if at all. Cesar was inside calming down Kendl who was getting more and more pissed off about the construction workers in the waste grounds behind us, apparently they been pissing in one of the trenches in view of our garage, getting a thrill out of flashing they junk at a colored girl. She'd complained to the foreman but he was some little bitch who couldn't do nothing, and she'd had to walk back to the garage listening to the assholes shouting about the wiggle in her walk.
What I was really worried about, was that it would be Tenpenny. I was still no closer to figuring out a way to get him under my thumb, and I was worried that if he called, he'd have found a way to make sure I was still under his.
"What?" I asked.
"Sorry...." said a nervous little voice,"Carl, are you busy?"
"Zero?" I asked... now why the fuck this cracker calling me?"No man, good to hear from you... wassup?"
"Disaster!" he moaned, in his funny nasal way that made it sound like he giving a lecture or trying to explain something to someone stupid,"My landlord is selling the shop! I'll have nowhere to live and no safe haven from Berkley..."
"Ahhh," I said,"Did Truth tell you to call?"
".... yes...." he said at last, sounding surprised,"How did yo-"
"I'm looking to invest in some property at the moment," I grinned,"Maybe I'll swing by."
I hung up and put my feet up on the desk, grinning. Truth, that old bastard, giving the universe a little helping hand... and maybe helping himself out in the process, though I didn't know how.
And it was that trip to the RC Shop that lead to me riding around in a golf cart at the Avispa Country Club only a couple days later. I'd like to say that I just bought the shop and found out it was built on an oilwell and we all made millions of dollars..... but the truth was little more down to earth and dirty.
"Wh.... WHAT ARE YOU DO-" he started to shout, but I rounded on him and whatever he saw in my face shut him up.
"Mister Barrington, I understand you mean to sell your building to some asshole called Berkley, that right?" I asked, voice cool, standing over him as he lay there on his back with a bloody nose and a stunned look on his face, not believing he was getting mugged on a fucking golf course. I raised my voice,"I said is that right!?"
"Ye... yes!" he shouted,"He's paying me twice the market worth for it-"
"I'll give you 30k for it," I told him, keeping my voice cool again.
"Thir.... thirty thousand?" he said, mouth wide, then actually started laughing,"You're crazy! SECU-"
I was down in a flash, grabbing him by the collar, lifting him up and tossing him through the air into the grass you can be damn sure they spent more than 30k a year on maintaining.
"You're fucking crazy!" he shouted, jumping to his feet and starting to run, a middle-aged cracker with a pot belly and no muscles thinking he could outrun a brother in the prime of his life. And he thought that I was the crazy one?
"Here's the deal," I told him, voice calm, like we just a couple pals enjoying a stroll up the back nine,"You picked up that piece of shit under auction for 20k five years ago using connections in City Hall so that no one else bid on it. It went under auction because you had those same connections jack up the utilities so the previous owner had to sell, then lowjacked the price to make a killing. So don't act like you the innocent party in this, I'm giving you 10k more for yo' troubles, plus you got all the rent you made in the last five years.... you come out of this just fine."
"Ho... how did you kno-" he started to say.
"Because you fucked with a nerd, idiot," I said, slapping him over the head,"Crazy crackers got nothing better to do than dig through the past and watch Star Trek. Now, you gonna sign these papers I got with me or not?"
"..... you need a notar-"
"The notary already signed off on this," I grinned,"What you call a preemptive deal, you might recognize the name on the paper."
He looked at it and his eyes got even wider.
"Yeah, so don't go running to him looking for help after our bidness is done, we got his balls in a vice even more than we do you."
He signed, with a big muscular black dude crouched over him jabbing the pen in his face he didn't really have much choice. He scrawled his signature over the paper and I gave him another slap across the face for good measure.
"That's so you don't go forgetting and thinking this was something it wasn't.... you fuck with me on this deal, I'll take my 30k back out of you in blood," I told him, then hauled him to his feet and kicked him in the ass, and he stumbled off running and crying and wheezing. He wouldn't go to the police, he knew I'd pull a fade long before they got here, and he wouldn't want to be seen in this state at the Country Club in front of his rich white friends. A little piece of the ghetto he thought he'd owned had come back to bite him in the ass.... Zero had uncovered so much shit on him, he was worse than a slumlord, he reminded me of Morty. I stood watching him go, and then I heard movement in the bushes behind me and twisted around, jumping through ready to throw down and.... oh.
"Oh.... uhh... hey," I said, as the cute little Asian girl smiled at me and went back to these weird ass slow-motion exercises she was doing.
"Hey," she said, stretching so her little top was stretched tight across her titties,"I saw what you did just then."
"Oh you, uhh.. you saw that?" I asked, not sure how to deal with her.
"Yeah, it was soo.... violent," she grinned, and her body did a little shudder and her grin got wider,"I'm Katie."
"Uhhh, hey Katie," I said,"I'm Carl.... CJ."
"That's a nice name," she smiled, stretching around again,"I like how it feels on my tongue."
"Well damn girl," I grinned back, forgetting all about Barrington,"You all kinds of freaky, huh?"
She just grinned, doing more of those slow motion stretches.
"What's this shit you doing?" I asked her, wanting to break the silence... shit, wanting to get out of the country club in case someone else had seen me and called the cops.
"Tai Chi," she told me, still stretching away, but eyes running up and down my body now,"You should check out the Cobra Martial Arts Dojo in Garcia, the Master Sensei could teach you do such.... amazing.... things."
"Yeah okay, maybe I'll check it out," I said, and she reached out and ran her finger over one of my arms, making a little moaning squeak that caught me by surprise.
"Maybe then you can show me some of your moves," she grinned, and I grinned back, exchanging numbers with her. Damn, what a day, I'd picked up new property and now found a new girl, one who hopefully wouldn't turn out to be as crazy as Catalina... shit, but then, who possibly could?
I got back into the golf cart and left Katie behind, riding down through the fairway to the bigass Country Club, then drove the Emperor up through Garcia, spotting the Dojo she'd told me about. I'd go check it out later tonight, but for now I wanted to go see my latest piece of property and find out just exactly what I'd gotten myself into.
My phone started ringing and I picked up, knowing who it would be even before I heard his nasal voice.
"Carl! It's Zero!" he shouted down the line, like he afraid his voice gonna get whipped away or something.
"Oh, hi Zee," I grinned,"It's all done, the deeds are signed."
"Excellent, Carl, excellent," he said, voice sounding like a lecture even though he was being almost pathetic with his gratitude,"I've been on a dangerous reconnaissance mission, deep into enemy territory."
That was the other thing about Zero, he used words like Smoke used to, but he used them in a whole 'nother way, like he wasn't trying to sound smart but just didn't know how to speak any other way. He was a nerd, that was for sure, but it like he was proud of being a nerd.... weird.
"uh, yeah right, sure," I said, just like with Smoke I sometimes didn't know how to respond to the weird shit coming out of Zero's mouth,"Whatever you say... I should come through and have a look at the business, y'know."
"Oh, of course, of course," he said, sounding a little embarrassed now,"I'll have to tidy up a bit, this place is such a mess!"
"Dude, don't worry about it," I laughed, pulling up outside of the shop and looking up at the building... MY building now,"I'll drop in soon."
"Hey, whattup, Zee?" I asked, looking around his shop... scratch that, looking around his shop in MY building... man, I loved San Fierro.
"Nothing is up, Carl," he sighed, always fucking overdramatic, like most nerds he probably always wanted to do theatre in school but was too scared to ever actually audition,"Apart from my blood pressure, and the imminent collapse of my hopes and dreams."
Well shit, I'd just fucking bought out his landlord and guaranteed him a place to keep making paper in, what the fuck did he want?
"Why?" I asked.
"As usual, he sighed,"The forces of darkness have triumphed over good," he moaned as I walked around inside the store, looking over the little models he was selling for prices that were plenty fucking big,"Life is nothing but misery, briefly interspersed with agony."
"Homie, what you on?" I said, leaning down to check out a case fill of little tiny planes,"Whatever it is, you need to reduce the dosage."
"Excuse me," he said, in full on lecturing mode now, making an odd little snuffling noise that I realized was him laughing,"But I never take drugs.... we all know drugs are for losers, and/or sex maniacs.... and right now, sex is the last thing on my mind."
"Thank God for that!" I said, standing up and turning around. The idea of Zero and sex was pretty fucking scary, he'd be all up on the bitch using nerdspeak to describe how he read the exact way to fuck from a textbook or some shit.
"Berkley is back!" he shouted, or at least as close as he could get to it, slamming his little fists on the counter.
"Ooohhh," I said, looking him in the eye,"Berkley."
"Just a man I once beat in fair competition," he told me, leaning forward over the counter,"A man literally obsessed with revenge.
"Oh!" I laughed, thinking I understood finally and impressed to hear that at some point Zee had a pair of balls on him,"You put hands on him!"
"NO! Please..." said Zero, stepping back and making that little chuckle noise of his again,"I never initiate violence."
I stood staring at him.... and then I got.... if he didn't lay hands on him, then it could only be one other thing!
"Noooo," he moaned, leaning back against the shelves on the wall and almost tipping over action figures,"I won the prize in the science fair..... first prize, that is."
".....and now he wanna pop you?" I asked, and when he just stood staring at me with his big old sad eyes I couldn't help myself longer, and just burst out laughing.
He just stood staring at me as I laughed and laughed... and then I stopped, hearing a weird noise, like a bleeping, growing louder and louder.
"That's him!" shouted Zero, and I guess he meant Berkley, but what that mean? Berkley a fucking robot or something? But then Zero was getting all overdramatic and theatrical again, stuck in his own little world of adventures and excitement he never got from the real world growing up, poor little nerd,"We shall fight to the end!"
He locked the front door and lead me out back past his little computer room where he'd told me he spent whole nights talking to other nerds on something called a BBS, and actually sounded like he was proud of it. He unlocked the door leading into the stairwell and moved up through the stairwell, past the shitty little one bedroom place Zero slept in, then past the other floors that were unused and dusty and left to go to waste by Barrington, who been only too happy to take his money from Zero and not worry about anything else. We came up onto the roof, where transmitters sat buzzing away and Zero run around in a panic shouting that Berkley was launching a full-scale attack.
"This is insanity!" I shouted at him, he was acting like this was a war, it was just a couple of nerds, what the fuck was Berkley gonna do, shout math problems at him? But then I saw them off in the distance, little black dots growing larger in the sky over the building in all directions.... little model planes? What the fuck was this? World War II Junior?
"He's going for my transmitters!" Zero squealed, sounding like his heart was breaking,"If he takes them out, I'll never be able to launch a counter attack!"
"No problem man," I said, shrugging as I walked towards the corner of the rooftop where something was sitting under a blanket,"But they only toys."
"They're NOOOOT toys!" moaned Zero, sounding like he wanted to throttle me for not getting it,"They're just smaller!"
I squinted and looked closer, and now I could see the little planes were carrying tiny bomb-shaped things underneath them.... fuck me, surely they weren't actually bombs?
"THE MINIGUN, CARL! THE MINIGUN!" he shouted as he ran to the nearest transmitter, grabbing up a fire extinguisher to put out any flames from the little mini-bombs,"USE THE MINIGUN!"
"Minigun?" I said, confused,"What fucking...."
And then I pulled the sheet off of the thing on the corner of the roof.
"Carl?" called Zero,"CARL!? CARL!!?!?!"
"CARL!" screamed Zero.
"Oh shit... sorry," I said, shaking my head, then grabbing the ends of the minigun and looking up at the approaching planes, coming at us from all directions.
Oh this was going to be fun.
"Well done, Carl," he told me as the last of the planes fell and the skies finally went quiet. It had felt like those fucking things would never stop coming, this fucking Berkley cat, whoever he was, he was fucking committed and had resources. Fucking nerds, man, it was getting to the point where they could fuck you over in a way they never could before,"Now leave, I must prepare for the battles ahead!"
"Ahem," I said, still holding the smoking minigun in my hands,"You forgetting whose building this is?"
"Oh... oh yes," he said, suddenly losing his Big Man look and coming back down to earth. His little nerd battle had gotten him living in his little fantasy world, and now I'd just brought him back... and I actually felt a little sorry for him, shit, if I had arms like wet noodles I'd probably want to live in a fantasy world too,"I'm sorry, Carl, I..."
"Hey man, it's cool," I said, throwing on a big smile,"I got things to do and places to see, just don't wreck up the joint, k man?"
"Oh okay, yeah," he grinned back, all nervous, polishing his glasses with his t-shirt,"That's.... chill... bro."
Ahh man, I had a lot to teach this poor little bastard. I turned and walked towards the stairwell, while Zero looked out over the darkening sky from the rooftop and fell back into his happy little nerd fantasy.