And there it was, I owned it, just like that.
Jethro had called me last night, stoned out of his fucking gourd, telling me that him and Cesar been working together, making contacts with the other garages in Fierro, the racers, the car freaks, the salesmen, everyone, said it was something called "networking". Between the two of them they'd made promises to provide cars that for one reason or another people couldn't get otherwise, making up a wish list and agreeing to pay us top dollar for them... top dollar being considerably below recommended retail.
Now imagine being told all that with lots of,"Likes" and,"dude"s thrown in.
The only problem with stealing hot cars is that, well... they're hot. That's why when I was "supplementing" my income back in Liberty; every car I jacked went to a chop shop. They cut it up for parts, filed off the serial numbers, then sent it out over the country to be slapped into legitimate cars, no one any the wiser. If you stole a car and sold that car to someone, eventually someone was going to find out it wasn't theirs.... unless you could prove purchase, and for that you needed a front.
The place had been up for sale since we moved to Fierro, but no one wanted to buy while Final Build was doing they construction on the waste land. I went and saw old Mister Wang himself; taking along the money I'd taken from the Snakehead on the boat, and made him an offer of $500,000.
"I can get one million," Wang told me,"One million easy."
"You ain't gotten one million though," I'd replied, trying not to show how out of my depth I was. I was offering him 500k and he was asking for a million.... Jesus, in Grove Street having more than a couple hundred in the bank at the end of the month was something to celebrate.... with a couple hundred dollars worth of partying. This wasn't even really my money, Kendl had told me we had to spend money to make money, but when I suggested using the cash we'd made from the garage so far, she'd said that was tied up in the garage and we couldn't use it. So I couldn't use MY money from MY garage, so I was using the Snakeheads money - dirty money to buy a clean company to sell dirty cars for clean money,"You tried to get one million, and it didn't work. Now here I am, offering you 500K... in cash."
"In cash?" asked Wang, looking at my suitcase and licking his lips,"No no, 750K at least... cash."
"I don't know if you trying to haggle or not, my friend," I told him, standing up and picking up the case, seeing his eyes go wide,"But I ain't taking the bait. My offer is 500K, that's it, so take it or leave it."
I started walking away.
"600K!" he shouted from behind his desk on the second floor of the deserted, dusty building.
I kept walking.
"550K!" he shouted.
"Damn, you ain't hear good," I grinned, opening the door to leave the office,"Next time I see Woozie I gotta ask if it a Chinese th-"
"You know Wu Zi Mu?" he asked, surprised.
"Who Woozie? Yeah we homies," I said,"Why, you kno-?"
"So sorry, I so sorry!" shouted Wang, coming around from the desk, bowing and sweating,"I did not realize you were representing the Tong."
"Representing the tong? I ai.... I ain't got to tell you that, man," I said, thinking fast,"So, we got a deal or what?"
"500K more than enough, I buy this place for my useless son to run, he go to Liberty City to "find himself"," said Wang, still bowing, but eyes not leaving the case,"Happy to be rid of it."
He took me back to the desk, and we went over the deal - we'd have to go and see a Lawyer to witness signing the contract, but by Monday I'd own Wang Cars. Normally it wouldn't be done that quick, but I'd called Little Lion who was running things in Fierro while Woozie was gone, and he'd told me a Tong Lawyer could give us time on Sunday to make the deal.
"You keep name?" he asked me as we shook hands on the deal,"Wang Cars?"
"I don't know," I said, grinning, not wanting to mention that every time I thought "Wang" I wanted to laugh,"I thought maybe... I don't know, Johnson Cars?"
"Joh... Johnson?" laughed Wang,"Better keep old name, people might think your cars have pee-pees!"
Monday afternoon - the first day with Wang Cars officially owned by the Johnson Family - me, Cesar, Jethro and Dwaine sat around the table, planning our strategies carefully, each of us with money on the mind, money and how to make more of it.
"Wanna get in?" I asked, grinning as she stopped beside the table where we was playing cards.
Look!" she shouted at me, then looked up at Cesar who was trying to hide a grin and came stomping around to his side of the table,"I thought this was supposed to be our foot on the ladder? I thought we were going to make this place work?"
"Hey, it might look like we playing cards," I laughed,"But we actually planning!"
"Don't worry sweet baby!" Cesar told Kendl, holding his arms out to her,"We're about to go get our first project!"
She just stared at us, Jethro and Dwaine so high they was just staring at they cards, but me and Cesar feeling the full force of it. She didn't ask, but we knew she wanted to know "what" the project was, and we didn't exactly have-
Oh thank God for that.
"What works?" shouted Kendl, pissed at Zero for interrupting her stare. We'd invited him over to play cards with us and bring him in on our strategizing, but once he'd heard about the "wish list" and our need to fill it, he'd gotten distracted and gone off into a back office with a bunch of loose equipment and parts. Now he'd come back just in time.
"Oh, just a simple bit of electronic wizardly and intellectual bombast," he said, all swole up with pride,"That hacks into the state of the art satellite immobilization technology onboard our target vehicle! Ahhh, me...."
"YES! It's on!" hissed Zero, delighted,"Wait... what's on?"
Half an hour later I was sitting in a car with clean plates, one of the ones Jethro and Dwaine worked on when nothing else was on at the garage, storing them in the big storage garage for use when Cesar or me needed a car quick that wasn't going to get police attention. Zero was standing outside waiting for me, giving me this fucked up beeping box thing he'd fucking put together from spare parts just lying about the garage. Man, we was lucky nerds were usually skinny little bitches or big fat fucks, because if we couldn't beat them down, they'd be the hardest motherfuckers around.
"Here," he told me,"This gadget is set to pick up on cell phone signals. I went through your wish list and the list of the known owners of such that our compatriots assembled, and found the perfect test subject. It was a simple matter to find her service provider and number, now, each time she makes a call it will trigger a marker on the screen here, which I've programmed with a miniature map of San Fierro, and give you the new location."
"Zero... you did all this in a few hours?" I asked.
"Yes... why?" he asked, looking confused.
"Just remind me not to get on yo bad side," I grinned
He grinned, blushing, then went back to business,"You'll have to stay close if you're going to get an updated position though, OK?"
"For sure, good lookin', Z," I told him, and pulled away.
"You think I'm good looking?" I heard him ask, and just laughed as I headed around the corner, the box making a beeping noise and showing a red dot on this fuzzy orange map lit up on the screen. Man, this was some Star Trek shit right here.
I followed the bitch for hours, waiting, waiting for her to get to a place where I could control a spin and freak her out, take the car from her and leave her stranded long enough for us to get the car to the garage, repainted, a few parts stripped out and replaced, new plates and then off for delivery to the dude who wanted it. She just drove and drove, jabbering on her cellphone, Zero's gadget beeping and beeping over and over, she just kept making calls, she never fucking shut up.
But finally, the time was right.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!" she squealed, as I grabbed her cellphone out of her hand.
"Doing you a favor!" I shouted, throwing it off of the bridge,"And saving the ear of whoever you been blabbing to the last few hours!"
I climbed into the car and drove away, leaving her standing on the side of the bridge looking confused and scared. Too bad, but if she was smart she would have insurance, and if not she'd just learnt a valuable lesson. Plus my client was going to get the car he wanted.
I was being a good fucking Samaritan!
Jethro and Dwaine were sharing a cigarette - just a plain old cigarette, no weed - and checking out the paint job on the Remington the four of us had been working on, putting the burnt out old wreck we'd found back together good as new - they work on the car I'd jacked for the list all done. I still didn't know how I'd never thought of it before - we was always jacking cars, but never thought about jacking cars for rich people who didn't want to pay full price for new and couldn't go around jacking cars themselves.
"Hey Carl!" shouted Cesar, running into the garage and spotting me,"There's two cars on the list, ese, and they're in the showroom across town, let's go get 'em!"
He turned around and was rushing off already, all excited to get his hands on the cars. I shrugged and followed him, I could hardly say no, it was making us money.
I hopped into a Feltzer in my storage garage and Cesar slid in beside me, and we pulled out onto the road.
"I like this place, you know," Cesar said to me as we drove.
"Where?" I asked.
"san Fierro, man," he said,"My home will always be the Varrios and El Corona, but this city.... it has something gentle about it."
"Yeah," I know what you mean," I said, smiling as I looked around,"Kendl seems to like it too, you know?"
"Oh yeah, she's really getting her head into this business thing," said Cesar, pride in his voice.
"That's good," I said, turning the corner and heading downhill,"She's always been the brains in the family. She should get out the ghetto and make something of herself."
"I think she's aiming to make something out of ALL of us, eh?" laughed Cesar.
"Yeah, she's the moms of the family now..." I said, smiling, but suddenly - for the first time in a long time now - I thought about moms, and about how she tried so hard... and I kind of fell quiet, just driving, and Cesar seemed to realize something was up, because he changed the subject.
"Hey, who's this "Truth" guy, holmes?" he asked,"I don't think he's wrapped too tight!"
"He just sees everything from a different perspective, that's all," I said, grinning as I thought about the crazy bastard... and all that money he gave us,"At first I thought he was just another acid casualty fruit cake. But some of the things he say... I don't know, man, it ain't all bullshit...."
"Hehehe haha," laughed Cesar,"Hey, you gonna become an alien hunter, holmes?"
"I'll take a rain check on that one," I grinned, and then we came over the hill and there it was - Otto's Autos.
"This is it, CJ!" grinned Cesar as we got out of the Feltzer, then pointed to the plate glass windows of the second floor,"The cars are upstairs."
"What?" I asked,"How we gonna get 'em down?"
"Hey, CJ," Cesar's voice crackled over the walkie talkie,"Is this walkie talkie working?"
"Yeah, reading you loud and clear!" I called back as I raced after him.
"C'mon, CJ," he laughed,"See if you can keep up with Cesar Vialpando! I'm gonna beat this tram up the hill!"
"Piece of chocolate cake!" he laughed as he zipped in front of the tram and headed left, while I took the less risky route and went behind the tram to get behind Cesar,"The tram driver must be shitting himself, holmes!"
As we drove through fog creeping in over a fine morning, I heard sirens in the distance. Otto's Autos had called 5-0.
Oh hell yes!
I called through to Cesar that we'd had our fun and it was time to get back to the garage, and he said he knew a route, but then 5-0 come twisting around the corner, getting between me and Cesar.
"Hello cops!" laughed Cesar,"Back again you idiotas?"
"Fuck, holmes, did you see that?" Cesar shouted over the walkie, so excited I could see him bouncing in his seat - dude loved fast cars.
"See it, I was IN IT!" I laughed,"Can we think about getting back before I end up in a carwreck barbeque?"
"Sure thing, holmes," chuckled Cesar, and we left the cops behind - they'd lost control going over the hill at speed, in good cars but not great drivers,"There's a shortcut this way!"
He lead me into an alleyway, zipping up between buildings, but as we drove, police cars pulled up across the exit.
"BACK UP, HOLMES, BACK UP! BACK UP!" he screamed so loud that I could hear him through the walkie AND from his car, and I hit reverse. I spun the car, Cesar leading us back around the block, darting in-between barriers on a street where there has been some kind of accident and city workers had been clearing it up. Cesar hit a thick plate of metal that had been left resting against a collection bin and flew over the top of it, and I followed after.
The cops weren't going to try and follow us and pull a stunt like that, they had to go around, and by the time they go to where we were now, we'd be stashed away safely in the garage.
Two more wishes fulfilled.
Wednesday night, me and Cesar just tooling around with the Remington, trying to get the old battered replacement engine up and running. It was nice, working together on a car, not even talking that much, just working together.
"Yeah I got it," I told him,"It's in the manifold."
"Shit, I just changed that seal!" snapped Cesar,"Must have got a crimp in it, damn!"
"He ain't my boy," Cesar muttered as he walked over to talk to the guy standing by the entrance to the garage, and I turned around, ready to back him up if needed. But Kendl seemed relaxed, stepping up beside me and smiling.
"Hey, we're almost living a normal life, huh?" she said,"This is far from Grove Street, right?"
"Yeah, I know," I said, then sat down on the bumper of the Remington,"But I just can't get it out of the back of my mind."
"I know," she said,"So what we going to do about Sweet?"
"It's a shitty situation, but I've got to let it play out a little longer, OK?" I said, thinking about everything I'd done here in Fierro, taking out the Loco Syndicate, the Rifa, the Da Nang Boys.... all of them fucked over by me just to fuck with Tenpenny's situation so he was too busy to worry about me or Sweet.... and maybe, just maybe, that he got so fucked over that he ended up in jail with him. Man, Sweet would love that.
"OK," said Kendl as I stood up,"But be careful. We ain't trying to lose you again."
We hugged, and I thought about what Cesar said to be the day before, and what Truth told me when we first got here - San Fierro, it was different. It was.... nice.
Cesar and the brother at the entrance slapped hands and the brother walked away, Cesar turning around and walking back towards me.
"Hey, Carl," he said,"I gotta rap to you, holmes. I know a guy who knows a guy who handles freight containers down on the docks. He saw one of the containers was loading up cars and one was a match for a car on a customer's wish list. So he marked the container with a spray can, but it might be too late, the ship's loading and it moves out tomorrow."
"OK," I said, nodding after a second,"Let's go peep it out - see what we can see."
We got into Cesar's Savannah and headed out, Kendl closing up the garage but leaving the light on. She'd wait for us to get back, then she and Cesar would head home together and I'd go crash at my place... my place now, I'd bought the place I'd been staying, which had been easy enough. Once some asshole blew up the factory across the road and it was revealed there had been a crack lab in there, the property values went right down.
"How we going to steal a car off a container ship, holmes?"
"You know, the same way they got on - use a dockside crane!"
"Man, those things are real high up," grunted Cesar,"I ain't too good with ladders and I'm afraid of heights!"
"OK," I grinned,"I'll use the crane, you better be ready to crack the container."
I lifted the magnet high and stepped out of the crane's control booth to come down the ladders, from up here I could see the sun rising, we wanted to be out of here before daybreak. We'd already tempted fate sticking around so lon-
"What the FUCK do you think you're doing!?!" one of the security guards asked, as Cesar backed away from the car, hands up,"Stay right there, you thieving bastard!"
I slid down the ladder, hoping they hadn't seen me, reaching the ground and ducking down, Cesar spotting me and darting behind one of the crates so they were all looking at him.
"Where you think you're going to hide, boy?" yelled the Security Guard,"There are three of us and only one of y-"
"Two," I said, stepping up behind one and cracking him across the back of the head, dropping him,"Two of us, and now there's only two of you."
But that didn't last long either.
"Sure, holmes, I guess," shrugged Cesar as we drove away,"But what else are you qualified for?"
"Yeah, I feel you," I said, and we drove back to the garage.
"Yeah, getting into fights with security guards is a laugh a minute," I grinned.
"No, seriously, holmes," Cesar said,"We're stealing cars for people, modifying them so they can't be spotted, selling them through Wang Cars so they're legitimate... but what if cut out the middle man, got wish lists ourselves and exported cars out to other cities? There's a lot of money in that type of thing, and I have an idea the kind of people to talk to, we can get it started."
I got out of the car and looked over at Kendl, sleeping slumped over my desk where she'd been waiting for us through the night.
"Go ahead," I said,"Make some calls, we gotta make this place a success, not just for you and me, but for Kendl, for the whole family."
"You got it, CJ," Cesar said, putting his hand on my shoulder, and we stood that way for a few seconds, watching Kendl sleep, thinking about our new lives.