Toreno was dead, I'd killed him.
Except now he was standing right in front of me with a funny little grin on his face and those fucking dead shark eyes of his looking right at me. Mike motherfucking Toreno, head of the Loco Syndicate, dead-eyed motherfucking drug dealer, and he had the jump on me - me, Carl Johnson, the sorry ass son of a bitch that took out his homies and shut down his multi-million dollar drug ring AND tried to kill him and somehow the son of a bitch survived and now here he was and if I wasn't going to die in the next two seconds I'd have to come up with something FAST and something GOOD!
Okay... shit... that wasn't going to cut it.... man how the fuck he ALIVE shit shit he was just standing there staring at me, that fucked up grin on his face.
"What the hell can I say?" I asked, shrugging my arms, and when he didn't answer I felt my chest seizing up, like... shit, I don't know.... I don't know it was about this asshole but something about him just wasn't right, and it didn't help that as far as I could tell I was talking to a ghost, so I practically shout at him in a panic,"I screwed you over!"
"Calm down, kid," he said, but by this point I was too far gone to pay much attention.
"Just go ahead and kill me then!" I shouted, throwing my arms up, trying to front so it didn't look like I was scared of the lumpy white son of a bitch.
"Calm down!" he said again, louder this time, but I was too far gone.
"Man, you ain't nothin' but a fucking yayo dealer anyway, Toreno!" I shouted, and he slammed his palm against my shoulder, my ankles hitting against the back of the stairs leading up to the ranch so I fell down on my ass.
"Shut up and SIT DOWN!" he shouted, and finally he got through and I did, and now it was Toreno's turn to talk, and once he opened his mouth, all the words just came tumbling out.
"What, you think I'm a drug dealer?" he snapped, not sounding so much angry as disgusted, like he couldn't believe I'd call him something like that.... even though the first time we met he was moving a fucking van full of product,"You think you're a crusader for good? Do you have any idea what's going on? Any idea whatsoever? Do you? DO YOU!?!"
"No," I grunted, sulky, now that my shock at seeing him had worn off I wasn't in no mood to hear a lecture from a drug dealer trying to pretend he something he aint,"I pay as little attention to things as possible."
"Do not be a fucking smartass with me," he hissed in my ear, quiet now, and I started remembering to be scared again. He turned his back on me and walked off a few feet, but I didn't get any stupid idea - I remembered how fast he'd moved that first time I met him, his lumpy body and weak neck covered up a fast, dangerous motherfucker. What he said next left me so floored I wouldn't have been able to move anyway,"I work for a Government agency."
"It's not important which one, I will try not to confuse you," he kept talking, then stopped and took a deep breath,"Yes, when we last met, I was involved in battling threats in Latin America, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!"
I just sat and stared at him, so he kept on going - I had a feeling he'd been wanting to get this shit off his chest for a long time.
"Now," he said,"The money that we raised, the friends that we won over, have helped us immeasurably in our overseas interests."
I sat there thinking about what was important - how did this affect me? Okay, okay, so I hadn't taken down a drug ring run by a Mexican Gang Leader and some white collar rich asshole.... I'd taken down a drug ring run by the fucking US Government to make money to give to some third world asshole so our Government would have connections over there.
Okay. I was fucked.
"Government Agency?" I said, looking up at him, wondering when the bullet would hit. Only reason he was telling me this was because he was going to kill me, kill me and start the whole fucking operation up all over again.
But Toreno just sighed, like I didn't fucking get it.
"Kids like you," he said, pointing at me,"You expect heroes. We're fighting a war out there. I'll be a hero and I'll lose, and what'll we have? Communism in Ohio. People sharing. Nobody buying stuff. That kind of bullshit."
What the FUCK was he talking about?
"So relax, and listen," he said, walking up and leaning over me, shark eyes drilling into mine.
"Alright, alright," I said, having an idea now what he was going to say,"I'm listening."
"I know what kind of a guy you are," Toreno said, just like I'd expected,"I need a guy like you. To do things that I can't get caught doing."
He wanted me to be his fucking drug dealer - run his fucking drug ring like I was T-Bone. Well fuck him, he could kill me before I'd help Tenpenny fuck over Santos and destroy everything Sweet built up. Still, better to string him along, let him think I was considering it, get him into a position where I could take my chance. I thought I'd killed him once, maybe I'd have better luck the second time around. If not.... well, I was dead anyway.
"Like what?" I asked.
"I need you to commandeer a truck," he said, catching my by surprise,"A rival agency, with a confused social agenda, they got things that we need."
"What kind of things?" I asked.
"Need to kn-" he started, then leaned right in close to me, giving me the hard eye before shaking his head and rolling his eyes,"For fucks sake, I told you, I'm NOT a drug dealer! That's done with, you did me a favor killing the Loco Syndicate, kid."
"A favor?" I asked,"I shot you down in a helicopter!"
"Yeah, I was in that helicopter," he smirked,"Sure I was."
"But Wo... I saw you," I said.
"Nice save on revealing your source there, kid," he grinned,"Anyway, the political situation in our Latin American friend's nation changed after someone spoke when he wasn't supposed to, to someone who shouldn't have been in the loop and journalists got hold of it... you don't watch the news? There were all kinds of nasty allegations going around.... and then along you come and take out the Loco Syndicate and the Da Nang Boys - nice wetwork on that container ship by the way, very impressive - and all the ties between the Loco Syndicate and the Government were nicely severed and the whole thing got written off as a gang war between Mexicans and Vietnamese.... beautiful. Even I was reported dead for a little while, let me get my affairs in order and reopen the asset here at the ranch. As far as everyone but those who matter in my Agency believe, this ranch is an Academy for aggressive off-road driving training for new recruits and ex-Army, and I'm just some washed up never-was instructor codenamed Monster. You did me a solid, Carl, so I'm doing you one in return."
"Yeah, what's that?" I asked.
"Not only am I not going to kill you," Toreno grinned,"I'm going to give you the privilege of working for me."
Toreno had told me how to recognize the truck, told me to stash it in the garage, told me NOT to look inside it, and when I could expect someone to pick it up. Then he'd just.... turned around and walked into the darkness, leaving me standing there feeling stupid, half wondering if the whole thing had been a dream.... Toreno was a Government Agent? And now I was working for him?
That's when Cesar had shown up, and I remembered what Toreno had told me, about not telling him anything, and about him watching me. So "I" had called Cesar half an hour ago?
"Oh yeah," I said, feeling like a fucking asshole for lying to Cesar like this,"I did.... sorry man, I got a lot on my mind."
We hopped onto a bike out the front of the ranch, Cesar taking a moment to stretch his neck and check the place out, whistling, he liked it. He hopped onto the back with me, and I turned my head to yell at him over the engine as I started it up.
"We need to jack a truck on the freeway!" I shouted,"It's headed to San Fierro!"
"I'm gonna pull alongside and you're gonna hop on board!" I shouted to Cesar.
"Oh shit!" yelled Cesar back,"You did NOT mention that on the phone!"
"It'll be a walk in the park!" I laughed, feeling the adrenalin rush now, forgetting about Toreno, just going with the moment.
"Tell Kendl I love her!" shouted Cesar, but he was laughing too - this was crazy shit, but it was the kind of crazy shit that only we got up to, and that's what made it so fun - I could rely on Cesar and he could rely on me.
For a second, the adrenalin rush disappeared as I remembered I was using Cesar for Toreno, and I felt like an asshole again... but then we was pulling up behind the truck and it was time to forget all that other shit and go to work.
When Cesar pulled the truck door open, the driver immediately swerved to the left, and I had to drop back to keep from getting crushed against the median barrier. I swept the bike under the trailer, then came back up on the left as the truck swerved back to the right, hoping that Cesar hadn't fallen off and hit the freeway. I shouldn't have worried, as soon as I came back into view I saw him half-in, half-out the cab, wailing on the driver with bare knuckles - I bet they didn't train these motherfuckers to deal with bare knuckle boxing Mexicans who jumped off of bikes onto moving trucks at they "Rival Agency Academy".
"Hey man, he asked me who I was with!" laughed Cesar as I jumped into the driver's seat, the previous driver shoved out onto the freeway by Cesar after he beat him down,"He don't look like no gangbanger, what the fuck he know about colors?"
"Hell if I know man," I said, still feeling like a shit for not letting Cesar in on what I was into,"Let's get back to the garage before one-time show up."
We got to the garage and I got out, directing Cesar to bring the truck up into the big storage garage. He drove it in, hopping out and slapped the tanker, frowning when it made a hollow bang.
"Ain't no fuel in here, CJ," he said,"We got the right truck?"
"Yeah, for sure," I said, closing the garage,"Don't worry about it man, just one of those favors for those nice guys who like to give us lots of money."
"All good man," grinned Cesar, not questioning anything I said, he had no reason to, why would I lie,"I'm gonna head home and catch some Z's, you too, man, you look a little haggard."
"Yeah.... got some stuff on my mind," I said,"Jethro and Dwaine can manage shit by themselves."
He slapped my shoulder and started to walk away.
"Cesar," I called, and he turned back, raising an eyebrow.
"....good to know I got someone I can rely on," I told him.
"Hey, we practically family now, holmes," he grinned,"You don't even gotta ask."
He headed away, and I felt worse, why the fuck had I said that to him? Shit.
OK, so I'd fucked up - in getting out from under Tenpenny's thumb I'd gotten myself noticed by the wrong kind of person - someone who made Tenpenny look like a fucking teddybear. Toreno had done what I thought couldn't be done now I'd started my new life - made me into his fucking errand boy.
But maybe.... maybe it didn't have to be that way. I had to think about what Kendl said, about always wanting everything in life handed to me, never working for anything. I didn't have to look at this as a bad thing, Toreno was connected, and he had alot more power than Tenpenny could ever hope to have - maybe I could turn that to my advantage.
The question was.... how?