I had trouble sleeping after getting back to my hotel suite, still not quite able to believe I'd done what I'd done. Had I really jumped out of a fucking plane a few thousand feet up in the sky and FLOWN to a private jet, broken in and killed four Mafia Hitmen and their pilot? I'd fucking done it and even I was having trouble believing it.
When I woke up in the morning I felt like I hadn't gotten any sleep at all and still had a ton of excess energy, so I decided to head to the Gym to work it off. There was a place called "Below the Belt" not too far from me that offered workout equipment and "Mixed Martial Arts" training, whatever that was, so I figured a couple hours of push-ups, sit-ups, and working over the heavy bags would calm me down.
Inside I stopped to watch the guys sparring in the ring. They weren't bad, not particular good either, but I was interested in the way they was moving, using they legs as well as they arms. An older dude in blue trunks was watching me watch them, and then watched me as I went to work on the heavy bag to work up a sweat. He called me over, and figuring it wouldn't do any harm I walked over to find out what he wanted.
The way he chewed his gum reminded me of Old "Rocky" back in Santos, he was going gray but he didn't look that old, kept himself in shape.
"Nah I just thought I'd work out a little," I said,"Not looking to fight today."
"You carry yourself like a fighter," he chewed, looking me up and down,"I saw you on that bag, you know how to plant your feet and put power behind you punches.... I bet you can use those legs too, who trained you?"
"I learnt from Maurice Taylor in Los Santos," I said, and saw him nod,"And picked up some moves at Cobra Martial Arts Dojo in San Fierro."
"Taylor, he had heart, had some good fights," the old fighter nodded,"Curry, Starling..."
"McCrory, Brown," I finished with a laugh,"Yeah he gave me that list plenty of times."
He grinned, and motioned towards the ring.
"Come on, son, let me see what you learned from Old "Rocky" Taylor," he said,"Humor an old fighter, show me what you got."
I shrugged, why not?
"We practice mixed martial arts here," he told me,"Boxing, kickboxing, judo, wrestling, it's all open, so feel free to come at me with anything, show me what you got."
"You asked for it," I shrugged.
"Nice, nice!" he shouted, backing up, throwing up blocks as I tossed legs up at him, not hitting as hard as I could, just showing him what I got,"You've got good technique, but you're forgetting something, time out for a second."
He lowered his guard and I checked my kick and stepped back, lowering my guard to hear what he had to say.
He kicked me in the balls.
I lay on my back groaning and clutching my poor throbbing balls, wondering what the fuck I'd done to deserve this. He stood over me, then extended his hand. I took it and he helped me up, patting me on the back.
"Old Rocky was a damn good fighter with a lot of heart," he told me,"But he never learned you've got to fight dirty, and that's why he never went all the way to the top. I saw the way you carried yourself, and I saw the way you moved in the ring... I don't doubt you know playing by the rules don't always get you where you need to be, but all your moves, the way you hit, if you ever came up against a REAL fighter with no morals, he'd tear you apart."
"Y... you kicked me in the balls," I gasped.
"Yeah," he laughed,"I sure did."
"An... anyone can kick someone in the balls," I moaned.
"Yeah, anyone can, but it takes the right kind of person to know WHEN, and how to follow up after that, to look for vulnerabilities, weakpoints, and exploit them," he told me,"What you think about that?"
"Sh... sho.... show me how," I groaned,"And then I'll kick YOU in the balls."
I left the Gym sore, limping, but satisfied. The old fighter - Tony Jaurez - had shown me not just weakpoints, most of which I already knew, but how to strike them and when to cause maximum pain, enough pain that the person you hit would forget all about fighting you. He told me about how some of the best boxers in the world (most I'd never heard of, I usually stuck to watching Heavyweights like Tyson) use stuff like this, told me about Liston smearing gunk on his gloves to blind Ali, all stuff I could use if I had to.
I went home and crashed, exhausted, all the excess energy long gone. I slept through the evening and through most of the night, when a phone call at 4 in the morning got me out of bed.
"He.. hello?" I grunted, lying in bed under the sheets.
"You've hung us out to dry, I know it!" moaned Rosie, sounding miserable... more miserable than usual.
"Rosenberg?" I asked, looking at the clock. It was too fucking early.
"Yeah!" he moaned,"Soon to be wearing concrete shoes... in a shallow grave in the desert, Rosenberg! I'm surprised you remember!"
"Look, I haven't forgotten you guys," I muttered, wondering if I could get back to sleep after this,"Just hang in there."
"Easy for you to say," he complained,"This Salvatore guy might whack me at any moment! He's cra... oh God he's coming back!"
He hung up and I sighed, climbing out of bed and heading for the shower. It seemed like Salvatore was a night owl, and I couldn't leave Rosie, Maccer and - most importantly - Kent Paul at his mercy. I needed them, for all kinds of things I had in mind, especially Paul.
Time to find out what the new King of Caligula's was up to.
Salvatore was all over that fine girl I'd seen the other day, showing her how to handle his "weapon", her cracking wise about feeling a different kind of weapon against her. They was flirting, even if she was being a little angry and sarcastic about.... she one of those girls who made angry sexy, without none of the crazy that Catalina brought to the table.
Unfortunately they flirting was bad news for Maccer, who'd just nearly lost his balls.
"Ooh, you fuckin' twat!" he shouted,"Right in the fucking happy sack!"
"Perhaps you'll be cured of your little antisocial condition, mate," suggested Paul, who seemed to have figured out how to be left free to walk about in the office while Salvatore tried to get his freak on with the girl. He mimicked jacking off to Maccer, who seemed more interested in the knife that had almost stabbed his nutsack.
This was the crazy shit I walked into at 5 in the morning - Rosie sitting miserable on the couch, an old leathery evil fuck trying to get his fuck on with a fine young girl in a toga, a muddle-mouthed Brit obsessed with jacking off tied up to a knifeboard and a smart guy music producer just kind of enjoying the chaos, not knowing how close to the edge he was skating.
Still, at least Salvatore seemed pleased to see me.
"Mr. Leone," I nodded, making sure I was real respectful.
"Looks like this piece of shit was right," he laughed, pointing at Rosie who looked up in surprise, then sighed and went back to looking down at the carpet,"You did a real number on those Forelli losers."
"How would you like to hit the St. Mark's Bistro?" he asked me, folding his arms across his chest as Maria slid up beside him, already learning to like her place.
"A hit in Liberty City?" I said, surprised, then nodded, seeing the opportunity,"Cool, but I'm gonna need some backup."
"Take who you want," shrugged Leone, even acting like he was being fucking gracious, asking me to go wipe out the place everyone in Liberty City knew was where the Forelli's spent all their time and being nice enough to tell me I could have some help.
Still, this gave me the chance I needed.
"Heh-hey!" shouted Rosie, jumping up off of the couch,"Remember all those jobs we did together, huh? Huh? You and me, Carl, remember, huh? You know, you used to call me 'Killer' Ken? Ken the Killer? .... Killer....?"
"And him too, I guess..." I added, but Salvatore was too busy beaming over having the girl pressed up against him. He just shrugged, slapping me on the shoulder and telling me to do a good job, and just like that it was clear our "meeting" was over and we all walked out, Rosie looking about in wonder like he couldn't believe he'd made it out of that office alive.
We left the Casino, and I put Rosie into the back of the car and told them to get out Las Venturas as fast as they could. Kent Paul jumped into the driver's seat, but Maccer paused, turning around and asking me a question that actually touched me.
"What about your backup, man, will you be a'right without us?"
"of course he will, you fucking moron, come on!" shouted Rosie, desperate to get out of there. Maccer hesitated, then hopped into the car, and they drove off, gone for now, but I'd be in touch with them again, I had plans for them.
But first, I had a job to do in Liberty City.
So, after spending five years in Liberty City in exile only to finally return to Los Santos only to be thrown out and find a new life in San Fierro and Las Venturas, I was going back to Liberty City.
But only for long enough to do what had to be done.
Goddamn I had forgotten how cold it got in Liberty, when I landed my jet - one of the benefits of being rich, you went where you wanted and no one asked you any questions - and stepped out onto the tarmac I felt the cold and the wind and my first thought wasn't to find a cab to take me to St. Mark's Bistro, it was to get to the nearest store I could and buy some warm clothes.
"Hey buddy, you uhhh... sure you wanna go here?" asked the cabbie as we pulled up to the Bistro,"I don't know if it's really.... your crowd...."
I peeled off his fare, then an extra twenty, then another, then another, another and another.
"Good idea," I said,"I think I'm not going to go in here after all, and that means you never brought me here, right?"
"Hey, I mind my own business," shrugged the cabbie, taking the cash, and I hopped out of the car and watched him drive away, then turned back to look at the Bistro. The Forelli's were apparently preparing for war with Salvatore - they thought he'd iced the Sindacco's to take over Caligula's, and he thought they was trying to ice him because they'd done for the Sindacco's so they could take over Caligula's. The Hitmen dying on the way to Venturas - a real puzzle for the police that the media was loving - just made them both think they was right, and they were ready for war.... with each other. I had to count on the Forelli's not seeing me as a threat when I walked in the door, just some dumb nigger walked in off the street to get out of the cold.
When he saw me reaching he reacted faster than I thought he would, but I reacted faster, jumping over the flowers and ducking behind the planter as he opened fire. I came back up shooting, shouting and running footsteps warning me that they knew I was here and were coming for me.
I'd grabbed up an M4 from one of the dead bodies, they'd come running up the stairs from the dining hall figuring I'd be penned in, didn't realize I'd be blasting back, and the ones at the front went down fast, panicking the others who shot all over the place, while I kept my head and took my shots. I wasn't fooling myself though, that was just the first wave.
"What the FUCK is going on up there!" roared a voice, I figured it had to be Old Man Forelli. Well, he was the REAL target of this hit, killing everyone else was just to send a message to whoever was left after Forelli went down. He wasn't going to be stupid enough to come up here, and I HAD to go down there.... it was showtime.
I checked corners, looking for more people, hiding in fear or ready to lay an ambush, but I didn't see anyone, which meant that Forelli must have gone out the back way. Shit, that meant I ha-
"WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU!" demanded a voice, and I turned to see a big stocky older guy holding two SMGs on me,"DO YOU KNOW WHO THE FUCK I A-"
"Dead," I said.
He fell back against the wall and I slumped to the ground, and I changed clips so I'd have a full round to deal with any leftover Forelli boys, wondering if I should go out the front or the back.... and then watched Forelli suddenly jerk up, cough up blood and then drag himself back up to his feet, glaring at me.
"You motherless FUCK!" he gurgled,"YOU KNOW WHO THE FUCK I AM!?! I RUN THIS TOWN! YOU FUCKED WITH THE WRO-"
This time, he stayed dead.
I made my way out through the kitchen, mopping up anyone not smart enough to run from me. I wondered how long since there had been a hit like this, not counting me and Rosie wiping out the Sindacco's in Venturas, and figured it had probably been a long time. The Mob would never go away, just like gangs would never go away, but they wasn't anywhere near what they used to be, whether it was Venturas or Liberty City. They just didn't know it yet.
Salvatore didn't know it either.
I landed back in Venturas in the early afternoon a day after I'd left. Stepping down out of the plane, I flicked my cell phone back on and it rang IMMEDIATELY.
"Hey, Carl my boy!" laughed Salvatore, sounding even more like a lizard over the phone.
"Mr. Leone," I said, making sure I sounded respectful.
"Everybody's talking about the job you on that St. Mark's Bistro!" he laughed, then dropped his voice,"And you, er, you took care of those three loose ends?"
"Yeah," I said, putting brag into my voice, like him and me were in on the same joke,"Those poor saps ran into a little trouble along the way. You won't be hearing from Mr. Rosenberg again."
"Good boy! Good boy!" he laughed, and I felt like he was talking to a dog,"Now listen, you're going to have to keep a low profile or people will start to make connections, so let's keep our distance for a while, eh? Go to the Casino and play some poker, I've arranged for you to "win" a financial token of my esteem, but then clear out for a little while."
"Thank you, Mr. Leone," I said, sounding as genuine as I could.
I started to put the phone away, but then it rang again, catching me by surprise. I flipped it back open and put it to my ear, and the voice I heard on the other end was the last thing I'd expected to hear.
"Hey!" I said, delighted,"What's up, man? You OK?"
"Not really," he grunted, and he sounded bad - depressed,"I'm stuck in a cell between two lunatics. And people keep trying to jump me, and then people jump THEM.... this shit ain't cool, partner. You looking after Kendl?"
Despite it all I had to grin, even with all his problems, the first thing he asked about was Kendl.
"Nah, she's looking after me!" I said.
"Right, right, that's cool," he said, all serious, and I had to say something to cheer him up as I walked towards the exit to the airport and a city I could walk around in, a Casino I part-owned and luxurious hotel suites I could take my choice of sleeping in.
"I'm gonna get you out of there though, man!" I told him, but it didn't have the desire effect.
"No you ain't, nigga," he said,"who do you think you are? I'm in for life! I guess I've grown used to it now."
"No you not, man," I insisted,"I'm working shit out.... whatever it takes."
"That's a negative," he told me, sounding bitter, defeated,"I'm through hoping.... have a nice life, brother...."
"Hold on man!" I said, getting a little angry myself but holding it back, just wanting to give him something,"I'm getting shit worked out for you, just hang in there! Sweet? SWEET?"
He'd hung up.
I walked past the small terminal for private pilots and the rich, heading towards the gate, feeling weird, conflicted, wanting more than ever to help Sweet, angry at him for giving up. Who did I think I was? That's what he'd asked, but he hadn't waited for an answer. Who was I? I was the guy who'd turned a run-down garage in Fierro into a business. I was the guy who'd taken down a massive drug ring, saved a boat full of refugees, beat an old Korean Master in a sword duel, learned how to fly, broken into an Army Base and stolen a jetpack. I was the guy who took down a plane full of landmines stolen by an unnamed Government Agency, I was the guy who wiped out the Sindacco Family AND the Forelli Family. I was the guy who'd flown a fucking plane into the air, jumped out of it, landed on another plane, forced my way in and killed the guys inside.
And I was the guy who was going t-
My phone rang, AGAIN!
"Hey, CJ?" said Woozie's voice,"What's up with you? Are we doing this heist or are you going soft on me again?
"Hey Woozie, check it," I said, grinning as I thought about what I'd just been thinking and what he was asking,"Them fools been shipped out of the Venturas, Salvatore think I'm cool, so it's on. I'll meet you back at the 'Dragons."
"OK," grinned Woozie, who'd just been playing with me, I'd never gone soft on him,"Cool."
He hung up and so did I, and I walked out of Las Venturas Airport thinking about that last thing that I was, that Sweet didn't understand about me.
I was the guy who was going to break the bank at Caligula's.