Kendl had shown up in Venturas with Cesar in tow, wanting to know what the hell was going on. I'd told them I had "business" up here, but I'd been gone weeks now from Fierro and when she'd heard Zero was coming up to help me out on a "project" she'd started getting suspicious that I was doing something stupid.
Which I was.
But that wasn't the point, the point was we couldn't pull an operation like the Caligula heist with my sister in town. Cesar was one thing, but Kendl? Nah, we had to get rid of her, but we couldn't do that until I'd satisfied her that I was just helping Woozie with Four Dragons, doing some troubleshooting and shit. Luckily Woozie came to the rescue, when I arrived back at Four Dragons from stashing the armored van and she got in my face demanding to know what fool thing I was doing now, he'd stepped in and told her I was helping him out at the Casino.... and maybe she could do the same?
And just like that, she was hooked in.
"Next," she snapped, and the midget snarled and turned to walk away. Woozie had told Kendl all about the stresses and troubles of running a Casino, including finding entertainment acts in a city filled with washed up musicians, cover bands, magicians and white tigers. He'd invited her to help out selecting someone with talent from the latest round of applications, and she'd jumped at the chance to be in a position of power like that. So far though, the "talent" had been lacking.
"Thank you," I muttered, and the midget pulled up short.... I mean.... well, yeah, you know.
"Do you know how much balls it takes to stand down here and sing a song like that?" he shouted, turning back to our table,"It takes guts!"
"I'm sorry," soothed Woozie,"We're just looking for something with a little more mass appeal."
"What could have more mass appeal than a song like "Small But Perfectly Formed"?" he demanded, all little squeaky voice and furious little face glaring up at us,"Women want me! Men want to be like me!"
He turned and marched off, only with his little legs it was more like he hobbled away, and Kendl couldn't take it no more, breaking into giggles and whispering,"You gotta be kidding me, right?"
"Damn!" I said, stepping up from behind the desk where me, Woozie and Kendl been watching shitty magicians, terrible singers and fat dancers try to impress us. It reminded me a little of that old "Gong Show"... man that shit wouldn't fly today, no one would ever want to watch a program with talentless fucks embarrassing themselves in front of three uninterested judges,"This Casino game is hard work! I thought it was just a case of opening the doors and letting suckers give you they money."
"If only," sighed Woozie.
"You know what?" added Kendl, yawning,"I'm getting bored here. I'm trying to do business, not audition midgets."
"People of reduced stature, you mean," corrected Woozie.
"Yeah, yeah, I said that," grunted Kendl, waving her arm dismissively,"All I know is, when are we gonna get some real talent in here?"
There was a knock at the door just before I could suggest that if she was bored she could maybe head back to Fierro, and I looked up expecting the next talentless fool.... and saw the answer to all Woozie's problems.
"Madd Dogg!" I shouted, delighted to see him... and the nigga looked good!"That's good news, man. Hey, what's cracking? You ready to take it to the stage again?"
Instantly his face fell and he took a step back, raising his arms up.
"Easy, CJ, c'mon man," he mumbled, all his confidence suddenly falling away,"One step at a time, you know? I'm almost ready, but, but..."
"But what?" I asked, confused. I thought the first thing he'd want to do was get back up there and perform again, get those sweet rhymes flowing. And if he just so happened to do it at the Four Dragons for Woozie to kick things off, all the better. He sighed, looking a little embarrassed, then just let it out.
"I want to go home now, CJ," he admitted.
I grinned and put my hand on his shoulder. I could understand that, sometimes you just wanted to go home.
"My mansion, baby," Madd Dogg said, a faraway look coming into his eyes, interrupted by Kendl who didn't sound pleased.
"Yeah, I heard about that place," she snapped,"Drugs, sex, all that shit!"
"Yeah, you know it," grinned Madd Dogg before remembering he wasn't supposed to be fond of those days,"But..."
"Yeah, yeah I been there...." I muttered, then realized what I was saying,"I mean, I seen it on TV."
Madd Dogg right now thought of me as his friend, manager and dude who saved his life. It probably wouldn't help to let slip it was my fault his life had gotten fucked up in the first place. I sat back on the edge of the table, thinking now, seeing opportunities. Opportunities for Madd Dogg, for me, Kendl, for the heist before and after, long term plans.
"Nice crib," I told him, and he grinned, thanking me, proud of his house.
"We could do with a place like that to set up in LS again, wait for Sweet," I said,"Get things moving... get out dis midget game!"
"But, CJ... come on, man...." Madd Dogg started, looking a little concerned... and also a little scared.
"What?" I demanded, a little pissed that he'd hold out on me,"I saved your life, man!"
"My mansion ain't big enough!" he insisted, sounding a little lame,"Only got 19 bedrooms, you hear?"
I just stared at him, and finally he broke.
"A'right, man," he admitted,"My mansion's been seized."
Woozie HATED the IRS, sometimes he talked about them like they was a rival gang. He hadn't said much of anything since Madd Dogg came in, but this had gotten his attention.
"Nah, not exactly," said Madd Dogg, and Woozie settled back into his seat and went back to being politely uninterested.
"Who?" I asked.
"Nobody," he snapped, sounding more embarrassed than angry, turning around to walk away until I grabbed his shoulder and turned him back around.
"Who, Madd Dogg?"
"A'ight," he said at last, taking a deep breath,"Big Poppa."
Big Poppa! The drug dealer?
"Big Poppa!" I yelled,"The drug dealer?"
I threw my hands up, disgusted, I couldn't believe it,"Man... you gave your multi million-dollar mansion to a motherfucking pusher!?!"
"You know CJ, these things happen," he told me, looking miserable, embarrassed, feeling stupid,"I was powerless!"
I twisted away from him and stomped away, feeling all my old anger coming back. Drugs. It always fucking came back to drugs, and this guy, this asshole with more fucking musical talent than anyone ever come out of the hood, who had crawled his way to the top and made it big..... he'd blown it all on DRUGS! Why the fuck had I bothered saving a loser like this? Just another fucking junkie!
"Oh man!" I shouted, stomping around Woozie's office, Kendl surprised, Madd Dogg embarrassed, Woozie just waiting patiently, being cool,"How much blow can one guy snort!?!"
"It's not my fault, CJ!" moaned Madd Dogg.
"Man, I should have let you jump!" I shouted, then turned towards the door, took a few steps forward, then turned back to glare at him,"Come with me.... ALL OF YOU, we're going home!"
"Home?" asked Kendl,"San Fierro?"
"Los Santos," I shouted, furious,"We're putting this shit RIGHT!"
"Hey, what's up, Carl?" asked Kendl, background noise telling me she was in a car and they was moving, same way she could probably hear the roar of the engine on the plane me and a dozen Mountain Cloud Boys was standing in as we flew through the night towards Los Santos.
"Hey Kendl, wassup?" I asked, worried something had gone wrong. The plan was for me and Suzie to "convince" Big Poppa - a mean fucking old school Vago - to give Madd Dogg his mansion back, while Kendl and Cesar drove the man himself back to Santos where I'd have another surprise waiting for him. But maybe the asshole had gone on another bender or something after we left?
"Nothing," she said,"Just thought I'd wish you luck, we're gonna drive back to, uh, San Fierro first, wanna check things out before we hook up with you guys in Los Santos."
"Alright cool," I said, relieved,"You be careful."
"I'll be fine," she laughed,"I got Cesar and Madd Dogg to keep me safe... you be careful."
"I will," I said, grinning,"I'll see you in Los Santos."
"Me and you gonna go in to clear the place out," I said to Suzie as I hung up.
"Good idea," he said, nodding towards the other Mountain Cloud Boys sliding on they parachutes,"The element of surprise, so the rest of the crew can move in in peace."
One of the Mountain Cloud Boys came down from the cockpit, shouting over the engine to be heard.
"We're in position!" he shouted,"The pilot can do two passes before he'll draw police attention, then he'll have to pull away. We can send in two waves ONLY!"
"I'll jump in the first group," I shouted to Suzie,"First to land will lay down beacons, we'll clear any guards Big Poppa has on the roof and outside, then you land the second group. We go in together, clear out the resistance, the rest of the Mountain Cloud boys come in and secure it while we find Big Poppa and make it clear he ain't welcome no more!"
"Sounds good!" nodded Suzie, throwing a thumbs up,"You ready?"
"NO!" I laughed,"But let's do it anyway!"
I did my best to control my descent with the parachute, dropping down towards the helipad of Madd Dogg's mansion, where the two Mountain Cloud Boys who had already landed were opening fire on some of Big Poppa's boys - no one was more paranoid than a drug dealer, and this motherfucker had guards everywhere. The plane was flying overhead and already banking to turn, it would take a circle and come back in time to drop Suzie and the second wave of Mountain Cloud Boys down, by which point I hoped we'd have control of the roof.
It was weird the way you could be parachuting down feeling like you were floating like a feather, and then suddenly the ground was rushing underneath you and you realized how fast you were going. I pulled on the cords and lifted my legs to give me the last little lift I needed to land on the roof as the Triads landed in front of me, ready to join them in fighting of the Vagos....
Oh fuck me, this was embarrassing.
I could hear Vagos and Triads shouting and shooting at each other just a few feet above me, but I couldn't get to them. Vaulting over the iron fence running around the outside of the house, I ran around the upper tier of the house, past the swimming pool a tier below looking out across a view of Santos. Maybe this was actually a blessing in disguise, because the Vagos up the ramp to the helipad were so caught up in fighting off the Mountain Cloud Boys, they had no idea I was coming.
caught between us, the Vagos didn't stand a chance, and we blasted them all away. More came climbing over the walls, sent up to see what was going on, none of them quite able to believe that a fucking army was coming after them, and we blasted them away as Suzie and his boys came floating in on the wind as the sun rose.
"We don't have much time!" I shouted,"Night's gone, people would have heard gunfire, we gotta be inside and take control before anyone figures out where it's coming from!"
"Lead the way, CJ," Suzie said, checking on an injured man,"You're the man."
We pushed inside, and the place was eerily quiet, if I hadn't known better I would have thought the place was deserted.
"Did we kill them all?" asked one of the Triads, a young dude who'd I thought was gonna chuck when he first stepped on board the plane.
"Nah," I said,"We're heavily outnumbered, but if all keep our heads, we should kick ass!"
"BASTARDS!" shouted Suzie as the Triad went down,"LET'S HIT'EM!"
And that's when all the Vagos come flooding out the woodwork and we opened up on them, Madd Dogg's crib a fucking warzone, like something out of his music videos.
There were more Vagos than Triads, but they were just street fucks, and most of them been living it up in Madd Dogg's, snorting and smoking drugs, drinking, fucking whores and street rats. Woozie's Mountain Cloud Boys were disciplined, focused and used to dealing with mobsters, unions and crooked cops in the fucked up world of Venturas.
It was a fucking slaughter.
"YOU CHOSE THE WRONG HOUSE TO ROB, FOOL!" yelled Big Poppa, a big nasty looking fuck I knew by reputation, but had only seen in newspapers and television footage of some of the times he'd been arrested or taken to trial - always for the witnesses to suddenly get cases of amnesia or death. He was bleary eyed and looked dirty, like he'd just woken up.... after one hell of a bender. I don't think he even understood what was going on.
"YOU THINK I BROUGHT AN ARMY TO ROB THIS PLACE, FOOL!" I shouted back, blasting another one of his Vagos as he came running out of a side room,"I'M TAKING YOU DOWN, ASSHOLE!"
"Shit!" snapped Big Poppa, then moved back deeper into the house, shouting for his men to put a stop to me, demanding to know where the others were, finding out they was dead, wiped out by MY army.
And I was still coming.
I chased him through the rooms and corridors of Madd Dogg's beautiful mansion, through a group of half naked men and women who'd obviously been partying, music playing so loud thanks to soundproofing in the walls, making me realize that no one would have heard the fucking war going on inside. I chased Big Poppa, and he ran, shouting that he was going to get me, but the fat fuck too scared to face me, hoping one of his fucked out they heads soldiers would do it for him.
Suzie and the Mountain Cloud Boys was mopping up the last of the Vagos, I knew I could trust them to deal with the party people and tidying up the bodies. Big Poppa was gone now as well, but I couldn't leave him as a loose end. I had to take him out, leave no part of Madd Dogg's old life behind.
I stood beside the burnt out remains of the car, Big Poppa's corpse smoking inside, all that fat making him a roasted pig. I flipped out my cell phone, walking away from the wreck, not caring about him anymore, he was the past, it was time to deal with the future. I dialed a number, and it was picked up on the first ring. The guy on the other end didn't get too many calls nowadays.
"Hey Ken," I said,"How you doing."
"(sniff) Who is this?" asked Ken Rosenberg, the Mafia Accountant I'd bailed out of Venturas - sounding like he was firmly off the wagon again. I'd change that, fast.
"It's Carl, Carl Johnson!" I told him, and he sniffed again and said it was great to hear from me, obviously not sure WHY I was calling him - good news or bad?
"Guys, it's Carl!" he shouted to whoever else was there with him - I was picking Kent Paul and probably Maccer too, I'd heard in the news they'd cancelled the remainder of The Gurning Chimps' concerts,"Ga-great, I'm.... (sniff)... fucking great! Fucking amazing!"
"Yeah, well, I've got a need for an accountant and a sound engineer," I said, walking up to my car, hearing the distant sound of sirens coming - probably an ambulance for now, but police sure to be not too far behind,"And I thought of you and Paul."
"Fucking amazing!" laughed Rosie, high as a kite, making me think how that might fuck up Madd Dogg, reminding myself to warn Kendl about it, her and Cesar could manage Rosie,"Paul's great with figures and I'd make a fucking amazing producer! This is (sniff) fucking great! It's amazing!"
Jesus, fucking cokehead.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever you say, man," I muttered, giving him Madd Dogg's address,"See you soon."
"FUCKING AMAZING!" laughed Rosie as I hung up, then hopped into the car and pulled away, leaving the wreck and burning body of Big Poppa behind.
I'd done it, I'd given the Johnson Family a foothold back into Los Santos, created a new business venture for Madd Dogg's comeback. With Kent Paul producing, Maccer there to help out with music, Rosie doing accounts under the eye of Kendl, Cesar there to be my eyes and ears and Tenpenny gone.... we were in a situation to become major players in Santos, and that would give us the stroke we needed to get Sweet out. Jethro and Dwaine could manage the garage in Fierro, Woozie wouldn't care where I was making a name for myself once my partnership was made public. Everything was going perfectly, according to plan. There was just one little thing keeping me from making the final move back to my hometown.
It was time to break the bank.