Detective Joe Lombardi stood behind the one way glass, sipping from his coffee and staring at the man sitting in the interrogation room.
Officer Frank Tenpenny.
"This is a big fish, Joe," said his Lieutenant, stepping up beside him,"Are you sure on this?"
"Something doesn't quite add up," admitted Lombardi who - despite his rumpled appearance - was fastidious when it came to building a case,"But everything about him screams bad, and the evidence all points to him."
"The DA's Office is sending over Bertram," Lieutenant Summers said,"Has Tenpenny asked for a lawyer?"
"He said he doesn't waive his right but he doesn't want a lawyer... yet. He asked for his Union Rep."
"I'm stalling, I want to talk to him alone, I've let him stew in his juices long enough," Lombardi explained,"A guy like this, he likes to brag, thumb his nose... he's as bad as the gangbangers he puts away and he finally lost it, and now we've got him."
"I can give you a little rope on this, Joe, but not much," Summers warned, then smiled,"Go get him."
"Good morning, Frank," Lombardi said, stepping into the room and putting a cup of coffee in front of him, then setting down a dossier on the table between them. Tenpenny's eyes darted to the dossier and then straight back to Lombardi, and his expression never changed - he was good, damn good.
"You have a busy night, Frank?" Lombardi asked.
"Where's my Union Rep?" asked Tenpenny.
"He's coming, what'd you do last night, Frank?"
"Why don't you tell me?" Tenpenny asked, a sneering smile crossing his face,"You seem to think you know."
"I gotta say, Frank, an innocent man doesn't sit with a smirk on his face when he's charged with 20 counts of homicide and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property damage.... you really think you're going to walk away from this?"
"I'm smiling because the charges are bullshit," Tenpenny said back, talking like he was instructing an idiot,"And they'll have your badge for thi-"
"Go to Venturas much, Frank?" interrupted Lombardi, surprising Tenpenny.
"Wh... yeah, every so often," Tenpenny said,"What the fuck doe-"
"You ever seen that movie Predator?" Lombardi continued, leaving Tenpenny unbalanced by the rapid changes in subject,"That wrestler, Jesse Ventura? He carries around this big gun, hand-held but it's the type of thing you'd normally see attached to an attack helicopter. He gets blasted and the black guy grabs it up and levels the entire jungle... you like that movie, Frank?"
"I don't have time for this bullshit," snapped Tenpenny, losing his cool at last,"I got gangbangers to take off of the stree-"
"Oh I know all about how you take gangbangers off of the street, Frank," interrupted Lombardi coolly, and pulled out a file from the dossier and dropped it in front of Tenpenny. It was an army file on a military weapon exactly like the one in the movie,"Recognize that? It was stolen during a raid on an army base out near Venturas, along with some very expensive equipment that the US Military is VERY interested in getting their hands on. You know Terry Pollen? Goes by the street name "Player"? He's been based out in Venturas for awhile now, since he got run out Santos after a few run-ins with a couple of Police Officers."
"I know Player, that piece of shit," nodded Tenpenny, recovering somewhat, recognizing the name and starting to get an inkling of the big picture now,"He stole that mini-gun? Why you asking me abo-"
"This act is getting old, Frank," sighed Lombardi,"You know Player because you and your buddy Pulaski ran him out of town, you know him because you were in Venturas last week and were seen going into the same club that Player hangs out in. You know Player because you organized, for whatever reason, for him and some buddies to ride into Santos firing guns and causing chaos... and for whatever reason, you were waiting for him, waiting with that mini-gun that YOU stole from the US Military, and you killed Player, and you killed his friends, and for some reason you were so arrogant that you thought you could kill twenty people and cause chaos on the streets of Santos and then just go home AND SLEEP IT OFF!?!"
Lombardi was up off of his feet and Tenpenny was pulled back into his seat in shock, completely at a loss for the first time in a long time.
"Wha.... are you fuckin..... I DIDN'T DO ANY OF THAT SHIT!" yelled Tenpenny back,"I DIDN'T DO-"
Lombardi flipped the dossier open and spun it around so Tenpenny could see the contents, and what he saw horrified him. It was evidence - witness statements, grainy black and white images taken from security cameras, damage reports, and the transcript of a dying statement made by Terry "Player" Pollen, claiming that Tenpenny and Pulaski had hired him and his boys to "make a mess out of Santos" and then had double-crossed them, waiting in ambush to kill them.
It was irrefutable evidence of Tenpenny's guilt. And the horrible irony of it was, after years of covering up evidence of the crimes he HAD committed, Tenpenny was now facing evidence of crimes he hadn't.
He'd been framed.
"You hired Player and his boys to shoot up the city, maybe you could look like a hero now that things are quiet on the gang front, I don't know," Lombardi jabbed at Tenpenny,"Then you panicked, you grabbed the gun from your Army base raid and you tried to wipe them all out, did you really think you could openly kill twenty people in a major city and just walk away without being caught? I don't know what you were thinking, if it was just years of pressure or maybe you've been taking drugs or you owe money to the mob in Venturas.... but whatever it is, you've gone too far, Frank, you've fucked yourself big time, so do yourself a favor, confess and try to face the end of your career with a little bit of dignity!"
Tenpenny stared down at the photos, at the statements, at the end of his career. He looked back up at Lombardi, mouth gaping, horror in his eyes, his usual brash confidence completely knocked out of him... but only for a moment. His eyes hardened, his mouth closed, and he finally spoke.
"I want my lawyer."
Ken Rosenberg wasn't sure... but he thought he might be happy.
The Sindacco's were dead, the Forelli's - who knew they would be blamed - were too busy preparing for a retaliation against themselves to bother Rosie.... for the first time in a long time, everyone was leaving him alone.
He'd even managed to get rid of Paul and Maccer, who had spent most of the night gambling.... well, Paul had gambled, Maccer had bothered Casino girls and ended up disappearing into a room with a few groupies who had recognized him for his silly band. He put his feet up and sighed, he was at peace at last and it was all thanks to Carl Johnson. He'd have to send him a giftbag or som-
His phone rang.
"Hellloooo," he sighed into the phone, irritated at the interruption.
"What the fuck kind of way is that to answer a phone, you fucking mook?" snapped a voice over a staticky line that he instantly recognized. He felt his balls shrivel up high into his belly, his lungs tightening up so he had to reach for his inhaler.
"Mi... Mr. Leone?" he gasped,"What an unexpected plea-"
"Shut the fuck up, you kike fuck," snapped Salvatore Leone, head of the Leone Family, top mob in the Liberty City Mafia,"What the fuck is happening with my money?"
"Yo... your money?"
"Oh excuse me if five fucking million dollars isn't enough to hold your attention, you Jew bastard," yelled Salvatore,"I hear from a guy who knows a guy that the Sindacco's have gotten their idiot asses popped, and I think about the money that little Johnny - God rest his moron soul - convinced me to invest in Caligula's.... MY Casino!"
Technically it was a shared investment between the Sindacco's, Forelli's and Leone, but Rosie wasn't about to argue with the most terrifying man he'd ever known.... and that included Tommy Vercetti, whom he'd personally seen kill two dozen armed men while screaming at them to keep coming.
"Yo.. your money is safe, Mr. Leone, I can assure you," gulped Rosie,"Please sir, I don't know what happened to the Sindacco's but it won't affect your inves-"
"Oh I know it won't affect my investment," yelled Salvatore,"Because when I get there, if even one penny is missing I'm going to take it out of your Jew ass, capiche!?!"
"When you... when you get here?"
"You must have won all the little gold Star of David's at your Temple growing up," growled Salvatore,"Yes you fucking genius, when I get there. I'm coming to Venturas, and I expect some fucking answers!"
He hung up, and Ken sat with the phone in his hand for a few moments, a look of dawning horror on his face.
"I think I just shit myself," he whispered quietly, to no one,"Oh God fuck.... what the hell am I going to do?"
Tenpenny walked through the corridors of the Police Station feeling all eyes on him. He was wearing civvies, brought to him by his lawyer, and he was walking out a free man but he could feel the judgment of his fellow officers bearing down on him with every step.
"-e'll sue the Department," his lawyer was promising, a high priced asshole who'd torn holes in Lombardi's case to the ADA who had promptly instructed the Detective to cut Tenpenny loose, though with the warning that he was "not to leave town","A fine upstanding Officer like yourself, almost 20 years on the job, incredible arrest rate, broke the back of gang culture in the city and they arrest you based on what? A generic description of a bald black man in a police uniform with a moustache, and the dying word of an ex-convict with a grudge against you! Simply ludicrous, they'll all pay for thi-"
"Shut the fuck up," sighed Tenpenny as they stepped into the waiting car - a very classy and expensive Stafford - where Tenpenny's alibi was waiting, the man whose word had been enough to put the final nail in the coffin of Lombardi's evidence.
"Baby, what the fuck is going on?" Big Smoke asked. The word of a noted philanthropist and popular public figure in Santos like Melvin "Big Smoke" Harris carried a lot of weight, and when Tenpenny's lawyer had hit Lombardi with Smoke as Tenpenny's alibi, the ADA - already unconvinced by the mostly circumstantial evidence - had turned against the Detective entirely,"You really shoot up all those niggas?"
"No!" snapped Tenpenny angrily, hating that he was in Smoke's debt. Technically Smoke worked for him, his successful businessman image just the front for the drug dealing operation Tenpenny was running.... but Tenpenny hadn't counted on just how smart and driven Smoke was. He was starting to think that Smoke might be thinking of Tenpenny as a liability, instead of a master,"That was.... someone else, someone with a grudge against me."
"Who, baby?" asked Smoke, who Tenpenny had kept in the dark about CJ's activities since being run out of Santos. Smoke had no idea CJ had killed Ryder, he thought Ryder had died as part of a deal gone wrong with the Loco Syndicate,"You want me to get the Ballas onto them?"
"No no, I can handle this myself," grunted Tenpenny as the lawyer did his best not to listen to anything being said,"It's my mistake, one I should have dealt with a long time ago."
He sat back in his seat and closed his eyes. He couldn't believe it, but Pulaski had to be dead, that was the only explanation. CJ had gotten the better of him somehow, found out about Player's boys coming to town, killed Pulaski, then shaved his goatee down to a moustache, put on a police uniform and done a pretty damn good job of framing Tenpenny for multiple homicides. He'd had to have known the circumstantial evidence wouldn't be enough to put him away, but Lombardi wasn't going to just forget about this case, and Tenpenny was in his sights now. All his efforts to destroy evidence against him and swat away investigations into him and Pulaski meant nothing... they had the entire fucking police force staring right at them now.
"Me, not us," he said quietly, reminding himself that Pulaski was gone.
"What's that, baby?" asked Smoke.
"Nothing, nothing," said Tenpenny,"Drop me off at home, I got to clean up after those SWAT assholes."
OK, this was a setback, but he'd recovered from worse, and he'd recover from this too. CJ was a fool if he thought this was the end of things. This was only the start.
I walked down the strip with a package under my arm and a grin on my face. My face itched where I was growing back the goatee, but in a day or so that would be behind me. Just like, in a day or two, Tenpenny would be behind me.
I'd known the evidence against him wouldn't be enough to put him away, but it had put the spotlight on him and given him a nice big juicy distraction that would keep him away from me. That wasn't the end of things though, I wasn't done with him just yet - I meant to fuck him harder than he'd ever fucked me. Toreno insisted that Sweet was safe in prison, and I had a feeling guards and other prisoners would be more scared of what Toreno could do to them than a disgraced cop with the police and the media looking at him. Even so, all I was giving Tenpenny was a couple of days, a week at most. Let him worry and panic and look over his shoulder for a few days, and then just when he thought things were going to be okay... bang, the jaws would close over him.
I dropped the package - the original dossier I'd stolen for Tenpenny - into the mail, labeled to FBI Headquarters, and walked away whistling a happy tune.
This was only the start.