Part 10: Behind The Scenes - Dating Millie
Kendl be blessed and cursed growing up. On one hand, ain't no one gonna fuck with her, bully her, try and get in her panties - not when she got three Grove Street OGs for brothers. On the other hand, people scared to be her friend, or only be her friend to get close to the gang, and other gangs might look to her as a target.
One thing Kendl always have going for her though, is that she never put up with anyone's shit, no matter how big and scary they be. She call people out, she get up in they face, and she don't back down. Sometime that a good thing, sometime that a bad thing - when it came to Cesar Vialpando and Sweet... it definitely a bad thing.
I had walked straight into a shitstorm, Kendl came and went as she wanted and I been so busy the last few weeks we'd barely had a chance to talk. I'd seen her car outside Sweet's and come on over to catch up, and found myself in the middle of this.
"-ood hypocrite gangbanger telling me what is right and what is wrong!" she was shouting at him, arguing over the same thing they always argue over - whatever man she be with at the time. This one - Cesar something - Sweet really had an issue with,"Let me guess, Sweet - senseless killing right, but a boyfriend from the Southside, wrong?"
"Some things just ain't meant to happen," Sweet was yelling back,"I mean what if y'all have kids? Leroy Hernandez? That don't sound good, girl."
"His name ain't Hernandez!" she yell as he follow her through the house as she collect up her shit.
"Well Leroy Lopez then," say Sweet, and I had to hide a grin.
"Or Lopez either, you racist fuck!" she shout.
"I ain't racist. I just know how they feel about you," Sweet argue back, then looked her up and down,"And look at you, you're dressed like a hooker!"
"Oh and I guess you two would know what a hooker look like, huh?" she snap as I step up beside Sweet, looking deathrays at us.
"You say it like it's a bad thing!" I grin, trying to cool everyone off, make them laugh. Her and Sweet both just glare at me.
"I'm just trying to protect you!" Sweet yell at Kendl as she walk towards the door, and I can tell he frustrated. If she was a man, he just beat some sense into her, but you can't hit a girl, no matter what some niggas say.
"For what? So I can date one of your mindless friends?" she shout back at him,"I don't think so!"
She storm out the door, slamming it behind her, and I open my mouth to speak but a glare from Sweet shut me up.
"Don't say a word, Carl," he say,"Just follow your sister, before you see another dead sibling... then you'll know exactly what my problem is."
I hear the squeal of tires and look out the window, Kendl already halfway up Grove Street.
"Follow her where?" I ask.
"She's meeting him at some cholo car club," he yell, then sigh and calm himself down, running his hand over his face,"Look.... go to Unity Station, those motherfuckers bounce they cars over there, head over to Loco Low in Willowfield first, one of Clarence's boys set up his own mod garage out his home there and he owes me a favor, he'll hook you up with a Savana that'll at least get you into the club."
I looked at him and I could see how tired he was, how fed up of this shit he was. Things were going better for Grove Street Family, but not for OUR family, and just like with the gang, he was looking to me to make things right. Well okay, that's what family is for - besides, I wanted to meet this Cesar for myself and size him up. Kendl said he okay, but love make you blind.... and I blind that motherfucker if he screwing my sis over.
I hopped into Sweet's Greenwood and headed over there, listening to Radio Los Santos, kind of chilling out. I figured whatever piece of shit the mechanic gave me would get me in and I could lose myself in the crowd, find Kendl and Cesar and scope the situation out. There were worse ways to spend a sunny Los Santos day, and anyway, how bad could it be - not like it be like that ridiculous shit you see in music vide-
"So you must be Sweet's bro' huh?" asked the mechanic, a sad-eyed looking cracker,"He phoned ahead, said you might be looking for a car that bounces? I owe him big from way back, so here, this should do the trick."
He look down at the Savana and I frown, yeah it bounce but the paint all old and faded, the interior shit brown.... if I rolled into Unity Station in a ride this weak, the cholos laugh me all the way back to Grove Street.
"Back her up into the garage," the mechanic tell me, grin on his face but his eyes still looking sad - one of those poor bastards always look like they about to cry no matter how happy they be,"Loco Low Co., for all your low-riding needs... you can call me Senor Loco."
I hopped into the Savana and backed it into his garage, which was almost the size of his house and decked out with all kinds of crazy shit. Door came down and the lights came on, and "Senor Loco" all business now, pointing out to me all the crazy shit he can do to the Savana, make it bounce, make it dance.
"It just gotta look good, get me into the club," I say,"I don't give a shit about all this.... holy shit look at those rims!"
Senor Loco grinned, and this time even his sad eyes look happy - he'd hooked me in.
Two Hours Later
Awww yeah, okay so maybe it was a little over the top, but fuck.... this ride was fucking pimp!
"Come back anytime, CJ," Senor Loco say as I drive away, and I had to admit... I was tempted. But for now, I had to make my way to Unity Station and find Kendl and her new man.
I drove along, top down on the Savana and feeling good, sun on my face in a fresh new ride pimped out, shit even the Radio agreed, Ice Cube singing that "Today was a good day," on Radio Los Santos, it seemed like one of those days when everything was right with the world and nothing bad could possibly happen.
And of course, 5.0 had to come along and ruin it all.
I was driving along, enjoying the day, enjoying the ride, enjoying the music when I heard the sirens I heard a million times before. I looked up to the rearview mirror and saw two motorcycle cops coming down fast and knew - just KNEW - they coming for me, come to arrest me either for the cop that Tenpenny whacked the day I got back, or for the jacking I'd done or the tags I'd thrown up.... or just for being black. For a second I had my foot settle on the accelerator, and then I looked to the side and saw the poor fool running down the sidewalk, well dressed nigga who was TOO well dressed. Not in a suit, but wearing designer labels, tailored looking shit.... a drug dealer or a pimp, one of the two, no way he could be anything else, and 5.0 knew it. They wasn't after me, they was after this poor fool, he going to jail for.... oh SHIT!
Right in front of me they slammed right into him, sending the nigga flying head over heel, crashing to the ground with a sound like a big pile of wet clothes hitting the pavement, Cop almost going off his ride he hit so hard. He jumped off his bike, yelling shit at the dead brother, shit about his wife and his job, his friend restrain him, holding him back from touching the body or getting into the blood, and I realized they weren't going to report this, didn't want no trace coming back to them.
Like I said before, cops in Los Santos - at least the ones on the ground doing the footwork and elbow-deep in the shit - are just another gang, just one with official backing.
I backed the Savana up behind the shop as the cops rode away, leaving the dead body on the ground. Even though everything smart in me tell me to just drive away, I got out the Savana and cross the street, looking down at this poor dead nigga. Whether he a dealer or a pimp, or maybe just some poor bastard made his money but stayed in the hood.... whoever he is, this was someone's son, maybe someone's Pops, someone's brother, lover... a person with a family who was about to get their world ruined by a phonecall or a visit to their front stoop by some uniformed fuck who don't give a shit.
Still, he didn't need the moneyclip that had rolled loose when he landed no more, so I grabbed it off the ground and headed back to the Savana.
Life is tough in the hood - but you either keep going or get rolled up in the shit.
I pulled into Unity Station and knew I'd made a mistake.
Every pair of eyes was on the Savana, eying up the paintjob, the chrome bumper and grille, the smoking rims and custom headlights. I'd wanted a car good enough for me to drive in, hop out and disappear into the crowd.... now I was the center of attention. I looked around at all the faces on me and saw Kendl standing alone, staring at me with wide eyes starting to flash with irritation, wanting to know just what the fuck I was thinking.
A car door open and a mean looking Ese step out, eying up the Savana, then me, sneer in his face, picking me for a busta, some asshole with too much money who pimped out his car and got himself involved in something over his head.
Thing was.... maybe he right.
If I backed down, I'd be run out of the club in a second - if I competed and made a fool of myself the same would happen. All I could hope for was to put up a good showing, and considering I'd owned a "bouncing" car for all of 3 hours, I didn't even have much hope of that. But then, what choice did I have? I couldn't let Sweet down, and I couldn't humiliate Kendl in front of people that I guess she considered friends.
"You on, "homie"," I say,"One K say I bounce yo ass out this club."
"You got cajones, ese," he grin,"Let's see you got the dick to back that up."
Unfortunately for me, things didn't get off to a good start.
The Chica who'd slid up in the car to "dance" as I bounced the car was giving me dirty looks and I could hear laughter coming from the crowd, and I felt like a fucking jackass. I was shifting the suspension, trying my hardest to move it in time to the music blasting from the stereos lined up all around us, always a second too fast or a second too late.
"What you doing, big man?" she whisper at me,"I thought you black guys had rhythm?"
"Shit sista, I'm trying!" I say.
"Well try harder!" she yell,"You making me look stupid!"
"I don't think you the one people are thinking look stupid," I sigh, then looked up and frowned, seeing Kendl mouthing something angrily at me. What was it? Don't drink? She think I drunk? Don't.... shit, don't THINK! Don't think, she saying, and I realize the chica beside me was wrong, I didn't need to try harder, I didn't need to try at all. For all the fucked up stereotypes black people get stuck with in they lives, the one that I don't mind, the one I think be true, is that we DO have rhythm.
So like the song say.... let the rhythm take control.
The music came to an end and the cars settle, and for a second everything quiet, no one saying a word, the only noise the background of a city going about its business.... and then the crowd erupted with cheers, cheers for me.
"So black guys do have rhythm," the chica say with a little grin,"Is it true what else they say?"
"Well honey, only one way to fi-" I start, but then the Ese was out his car and staring holes through me, the Chica scrambling out the Savana and clear to the crowd that was starting to break up, moving out of Unity Station.
"I've seen worse," he say,"But you did alright."
He turn and walk away, and I breath a sigh of relief. I hopped out the Savana and heard a squeal, turning to see Kendl coming right for me, not angry now, looking excited, like she a kid again wanting to see me or Brian or Sweet pull off some trick on our bikes or with the basketball.
"Since Sweet told me to keep an eye on you, make sure that whatever you're dating don't get you in no trouble," I say with a grin, arm around her as we walked away from the Savana. She make a smirk back up at me - kind of a good natured "oh is that so?" grin - and I had to laugh. Shit, what was Sweet worried about? Kendl could handle herself as well as any of us - maybe better - and besides, she a grown woman now, not a little kid, and if she wanted to be with a man, who was I to.... HEY WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT ASSHOLE DOING TO MY LITTLE SISTER!?!
The Ese who'd been sticking his tongue down my sister's throat gave me a hard look, like he wanted to step to me. If this greasy fuck wanted to throw down, let him come at me, I'd fuck his shit up.... and that's when I noticed the three vatos stepping up behind him.
"Look baby, don't start no shit," Kendl say to him, getting between us,"Don't make it worse, okay?"
That was Kendl for you, she didn't stand for no shit and that meant not standing back and letting unnecessary violence happen. Me and the spic were eying each other up, neither wanting to back down but both grateful for Kendl being the voice of reason... which was when the three vatos who'd come up behind Kendl's man asked who I was, calling me a "pendejo."
The other thing about Kendl was that she was a Johnson, and she didn't stand for no fucking insults either. Now it was her man getting between her and the vato, telling him that this was all for nothing, there was no reason for anyone to start anything, that I was cool.
"Well I say he ain't cool, holmes," the lead vato said,"I say he thinks he's gangsta, man, and I don't like it!"
He looked right at me,"You can fuck off, pendejo, and then maybe we cool!"
"NO YOU fuck off, I'm talking to my sister!" I shout back, as if I was going to back down from this spic motherfucker. I saw Kendl bristling for a fight too, but her man just sighed, shoulders slouching before getting up in the lead vato's face again, almost pleading.
"Jose, c'mon, holmes, I can handle this.... this is important to me."
"Horale pendejo, you lucky!" Jose say, pointing in my face again,"That's right, you lucky Cesar's spoken for you."
They walked away, muttering about going and getting drunk - typical fucking Mexicans. I was about to shout something after them, but then Kendl was in my face, still angry but directing that anger at me now, not them.
"Carl! What the hell were you thinking!?!" she demand from me, and again it her man who played peacemaker.
"Look baby, go get in the car, ok? I'm gonna speak to Carl."
She stare at him for a moment, then moved for his car, a nice looking Savana that wasn't done up or pimped out but you could tell was well looked after - this dude looked after his cars at least. He turned back to me, and gave a little sigh.
"Look holmes, I love your sister, I honor her... she's my girl for life, this is why I stopped you from being skinned just then," he say, eyes right on mine,"You got a problem with me, fine, we don't have to be friends, but Kendl... she's happy with me, carnal."
I looked into his eyes and realized two things. First, he really believed he loved Kendl... and maybe that meant he did. This wasn't a fling for him, she wasn't his "bitch" or a bit of fun for a time, he really loved her.
The second was that despite him playing peacemaker just now, this wasn't no busta. I could tell from looking in his eyes that this was a man who picked his time to act. He wasn't someone who lost control, he was a leader.... and I had no idea just how much of a leader he was.
I reached out and shook his hand, telling him that we were cool "for now", and he took it and shook mine back.
I didn't realize it, but I hadn't just shaken hands with my sister's boyfriend.
I'd shaken hands with one of the leaders of Varios Los Aztecas, and it was a handshake that would change my life forever.