"The thing you gotta understand," I told them as Suzie dealt out the cards,"Is that most of this I got second or third hand, and niggas can exaggerate, y'know?"
"Just tell the story, Carl," said Woozie, seated to my left, Zero to my right, Suzie on the other side of the table dealing out cards to all of us, Woozie included. We wasn't playing for money, Woozie had the table brought into his office so I could show them what I was planning at Caligula's, and talk had gotten around to big heists of the past. That had led to me bringing up what Sweet had done all those years ago, what had put Grove Street on top and inspired me to try and pull this shit at Caligula's, and now they wanted the full story.
"It was 1979," I started as Suzie handed out the chips, Woozie's mostly for show, he was just going to make his picks at random, since he couldn't see the cards and this was about showing what I could do,"Sweet was only 24, same as I am now, but he'd been the man of the family as long as I could rememb-"
"You're younger than me!?" said Zero, surprised.
"Shut up, Zero," we all said together, and laughed, Zero included.
"Man of the family, but just another body on Grove Street," I continued,"Until the shit went down with the OG, Elijah E, asshole who tried to sell drugs to me and Brian, even after he found out our brother was a homie. Sweet took us with him, made us point out the OG, beat the shit out of him in front of everyone, then sent us home. We heard afterwards that Sweet took him off the street forever, and from that day on he had a voice in Grove Street, but he wasn't the leader, not then. That didn't happen till he got called to a meeting with the last person he ever thought would want to make him a business proposition."
"Take a seat, boy," Tenpenny told Sweet, sliding himself down into one of the booths, leaving Sweet no choice but to slide down opposite him or be left standing looking stupid.
"Don't call me boy," Sweet warned the police officer, who just laughed.
"We all niggers, nigga," he said,"Wasn't too long ago I wouldn't have been allowed to sit in a place like this, a place where fiiiine white folks take their meals. What you want me to call you? Sean?"
"Sweet will do fine," grunted Sweet,"What do you want?"
"Peace on the streets, preferably," Tenpenny shrugged,"But hell, I'll settle for money... and lots of it."
"You think that I have money?" Sweet laughed,"You got the wrong nigga, Officer."
"I heard about what you did to Elijah E," said Tenpenny, ignoring the laughter,"Can't prove it, of course, not looking to prove it either, what do I care if one more gangbanger is off the street, just making my job easier.... except, Elijah E was my man in Grove Street."
"E was a snitch?" asked Sweet, surprised, not sure what the hell Tenpenny was dancing around here. He'd been around for about five years now as part of the C.R.A.S.H program and most people on the street knew him as an asshole who liked lording it up over people and rubbing their noses in the power he had over them. Still, at least he was a brother, not like Officer Dempsey, the asshole Tenpenny answered to who liked to beat the shit out of black guys and had a taste for black pussy and didn't mind using force to get it.
"I suppose you could say that," shrugged Tenpenny,"Every so often when I needed an arrest to look good, he could point me in the right direction. But our relationship was more like.... business partners, Sweet.... I made money off of him and he made money off of me. It was, how do you put it? Mutually beneficial."
"Tenpenny," said Sweet, who had decided by now that Tenpenny wasn't going to arrest him on some bullshit charge,"Get to the fucking point."
"You're direct, no bullshit, I like that," grinned Tenpenny,"The point is, Sweet, I'm a realist. I work in a shit job with shit people and deal with scumbags all day, every day. I watch assholes with no education rolling in fine cars wearing expensive clothes because they sell drugs to assholes who can't afford it. I arrest the guys using the drugs, I arrest the guys selling the drugs.... and you know what happens? Nothing. Take a drug dealer off of the streets, 100 are waiting to replace him. Take a drug user off of the street, there are always more, and the drug user gets out eventually and joins them. So I realized, someone is ALWAYS going to be selling those drugs, so why the fuck should I - a man who finished his education and works his ass off every day trying to make a difference - be struggling with a mortgage and car payments while these assholes roll in drug money?"
"So you're a drug dealer," said Sweet, face blank,"Trying to justify what you do just like every other drug dealer."
"You don't like drugs, I get that," grinned Tenpenny,"User killed your Dad, Elijah E tried to hook your brothers, I heard all about that speech you made, saying Grove Street was better than that. So let me ask you a question, Sweet, let's say I decided to clamp down, really work those dealers over..... you think I can keep all drugs off the street all the time?"
"Man, what kind of question is tha-" started Sweet angrily, but Tenpenny cut him off.
"Could I keep all drugs off the street all the time?" Tenpenny repeated, louder, angrier, more demanding.
"....no," admitted Sweet at last.
"Right," nodded Tenpenny,"Finally you starting to make some sense. So if drugs are going to be on the street, isn't it better to control the distribution of those drugs? So that WE control the junkies, the gangs, the gangbangers and criminals like Elijah E? Because you know your "homies" can't control themselves, you've kicked it on the street with them, seen strong men brought low.... and things are only going to get worse, Sweet. You think coke and heroin are bad? You heard about crack? Freebase cocaine, they're loving that shit in Liberty at the moment and we've started making more and more busts here in Santos. People will kill their own mothers to get crack, women will whore out their own fucking children for ONE hit of that shit.... you think I can stop that? If I had the entire fucking police force behind me I couldn't stop junkies buying and dealers selling."
"You said you like being direct, no bullshit," grunted Sweet, looking sullenly around the mostly empty diner,"You don't got to make a pitch, tell me what you're selling and I'll tell you if I'm buying."
"You see, that alone tells me you at least have an open mind," grinned Tenpenny,"You're smarter than you look, Sweet, but you're not smarter than me. You look at me and see a crooked cop, taking bribes, extorting white businessmen I catch sucking cock in Glen Park or sleeping with whores over in Jefferson, hoping to get a little black pussy, selling drugs here and there, you think I'm just another scumbag, Dempsey's house-nigger, right?"
"Word on the street is Dempsey runs C.R.A.S.H," was all Sweet said in return.
"Yeah, the old man runs things," nodded Tenpenny,"But he's just that, old. Dempsey's retiring next month, getting his gold watch and his pension and moving out to the country to fish.... at least that's what he's telling his friends and his family, his grandkids. Before then, he's got a plan to set me up to take over for him, and take enough money with him that when his family aren't visiting his place in the country he can go to Venturas and bury his old prick balls deep in high class pussy."
"And....?" asked Sweet.
"And that means a clean slate and new future for Los Santos, Sweet," laughed Tenpenny,"The 80s are coming, and they're going to be the decade of the black man. Dempsey's made contacts, and next week we're going to pull off one last big deal for him, complicated shit, but if we pull it off, we'll have enough drugs to supply all of Santos for months, make millions.... and THAT is where you come in, Sweet, you and Kane and Lil' Poppa and Chavez - young guys looking to make their name for their gangs - Grove Street, Ballas, Vagos, Aztecas, guaranteed police protection in exchange for one thing - selling OUR drugs to THEIR boys. We all make out."
He sat back, a big grin plastered across his face, Sweet just glaring straight at him.
"You see, now's the moment of truth," grinned Tenpenny,"I've heard all about you Sweet, the "moral" man, doesn't want drugs on his block, doesn't want his homies using. So now we find out if you're the real deal, or if you're just like every other nigga smart enough to string some words together - all talk, but just looking out for their own end. You killed Elijah E and YOU got his spot, how'd you like to run all of Grove Street and make paper off of your.... "homies"?"
Sweet stared at Tenpenny, who met his glare easily, both of them looking hard at the other until finally the edge of Sweet's mouth perked up.
"Just tell me what I gotta do.... Officer."
"He went along with it?" asked Zero, surprised.
"Dealer showing 5," Suzie said as he dealt out the cards for a fresh hand, his second card face down,"6 to Zero, two 3's; 9 to Carl, a 4 and 5; 17 to Woozie, 10 and 7."
We forgot the story for a second, getting back to the game. Zero split, I doubled, and Woozie stuck. Zero was dealt two 9s and I got a 10, sticking while Zero hit and busted. Suzie revealed his card, an 8, and hit again to get a 3, meaning he HAD to hit again. He sighed and hit again, busting.
"Congratulations," he said, pushing useless chips my way, then turned to Zero,"Don't push for a big win so quickly, Blackjack is a game of patience."
"That's the game Sweet was playing," I explained,"Patience. Tenpenny thought he was just another nigga out for his own end, and didn't think for a moment he would hesitate to fuck with his homies. He also wanted to show off, so he told Sweet all about the deal this asshole Dempsey was pulling - the perfect crime, they called it. What you think about that, Woozie?"
"Young Tenpenny sounds like a moron," sniffed Woozie, and I grinned.
"Yeah, he was," I said,"The deal was with a couple of Eastern Europeans, wanting to get a taste of capitalist money. They had alot of drugs and wanted money for it - alot of money, but cheap for what they were selling, the American dollar went a long way behind the Iron Curtain. Dempsey could get cash from the evidence room, they'd buy the drugs, the Europeans would go home, the cops would distribute the drugs to the gangs who'd sell it under C.R.A.S.H protection, Tenpenny and his boys would rake in all the money and give the Gang Leaders kickbacks. Tenpenny laid it allll out to Sweet, bragging about how it was a perfect system, because anyone who fucked with it would be fucking with themselves, even bragged about how the sale would go down, how he'd come up with the idea himself, because the Europeans were so paranoid, coming from life under the Soviets and all."
Suzie dealt fresh cards as I told them all about it.
Sweet hopped into his Greenwood, Tre getting into the passenger seat, Delray sliding into the back. Both were solid and dependable, neither were particularly good friends with Sweet but they all liked each well enough, and each of them believed strongly in the concept of "Grove Street". They'd all been born and raised on the street, their mothers knew each other, Tre and Sweet's Dads had worked together until Mr. Johnson had died.
"No one trusts anyone in this deal," Sweet told them, starting up the Greenwood, second-hand but solid and reliable, just like Tre and Delray,"Tenpenny don't trust me, Kane, Lil' Poppa or Chavez, so he'll call each of us once the deal is done. The Europeans don't trust the police, they don't trust the Europeans, but they both want what the other's got. So they worked out a deal, an exchange, hostages."
"Hostages?" asked Tre,"What the fuck?"
"Tenpenny's idea," Sweet said, rolling his eyes,"The Europeans' Boss gives himself up to the C.R.A.S.H boys, Dempsey gives himself up to the Europeans, they go to safe places they set up beforehand that the other side don't know about. Then a couple of C.R.A.S.H boys meet up with one of the Europeans, check that the money and drugs are all there, call they boys and let them know everything is on the up and up. The Europeans let Dempsey go, C.R.A.S.H lets the European Boss go. C.R.A.S.H drives the drugs away and take them to where Tenpenny is waiting, he calls me and the other Gang representatives and we come pick up our first supplies, then start feeding it out onto the streets, and pay C.R.A.S.H the money at the end of each month, keeping a cut for ourselves."
"Sounds foolproof," shrugged Delray.
"It's too complicated," said Tre,"Too much shit going on, too many chances for it all to go to shit. A simple exchange would do better, cut out all the fuss."
"Exactly," nodded Sweet,"Tenpenny being too smart for his own good, we going to throw a monkey wrench in his plans.... motherfucker thought that I would sell out my fucking homies, put that poison on the street for my own fucking people to wreck they lives? He has this coming."
"Yeah, but Sweet.... how we gonna do it?" asked Delray,"Santos is a big city, how the fuck we gonna find where they are? Any of them?"
Sweet grinned before he answered.
"Ace and ten to Woozie, Blackjack," said Suzie, then flipped over his second card, revealing he had 21 as well,"Push."
He took the cards back, no chips going to anyone, and began flipping out fresh cards.
"Black p...?" started Zero.
"Black pussy," I grinned,"Curse of the old white racist."
"Black pussy, Chinese pussy, Japanese pussy, any pussy that's different," noted Woozie deadpan,"You mentioned this Dempsey fellow didn't mind using force?"
"Liked it better that way, from what I hear," I said,"Never grabbed no girl into an alleyway and held her down or nothing, but got them in positions where they had no choice, liked them to act like slavegirls for him, and not in the way Millie likes it."
"But how did.... black pussy.... help Sweet figure out where the drug deal was going down?" asked Zero.
"Because Dempsey was just like an old dog, never raised above being a street officer," I explained,"Running C.R.A.S.H was as high as he ever got, a reliable old cop who knew the streets and how to bend the rules occasionally when he had to get the job done. They just never knew how far he'd go, how corrupt he was, including taking black prostitutes and girls in bad situations to his favorite place, what police of his generation used to call a "Fuck Pad" - a place for cops to drop in, get laid and leave. So when Tenpenny told Sweet that Dempsey had set up a place for C.R.A.S.H to take the European hostage while they waited on the call, he knew there was only one place it could be."
"Jefferson Motel, you sure about this?" Tre asked.
"It's my best guess," shrugged Sweet, pulling into the parking lot,"5-0 top brass don't know about this place, or if they do they've "forgotten" it. But every street nigga knows where these assholes have they fuckpads, they just don't do nothing about it because it'd bring down a world of shit on them."
"You gonna bring down a world of shit on us, Sweet?" asked Delray.
"It's coming anyway, we let Tenpenny and Dempsey pull this deal," shrugged Sweet,"And if we pull this off right, maybe the shit will come down on someone else."
He hopped out of the Greenwood, looking around, the place looking deserted this late at night, approaching midnight.
"You two stay here, keep an eye out," he told them,"If this works, I'm coming out of here in five minutes, if it doesn't, wait five minutes and get the fuck out of here."
"You gonna need us in there, homie," grunted Tre, shaking his head as Sweet checked his pieces, old but working, supplied by Emmet, the crazy Vietnam Veteran who hung out in alleyways out on Seville Boulevard supplying guns since 5-0 had cracked down a year or so back.
"They in one of those little rooms, we're just gonna get in each other's way," Sweet said,"Just keep an eye out, honk the Greenwood's horn if you see someone coming who shouldn't be here."
He walked towards the entrance, leaving Tre and Delray behind, troubled.
The door was locked and a "closed" sign was up. That stopped him for roughly 15 seconds.
There was no one at registration, and the whole place felt too quiet. That was good, that meant C.R.A.S.H had to be here, turfed out the prostitutes and johns, junkies and traveling salesman with a flash of the badge and,"Police business, move along."
Sweet took a deep breath, and headed up the stairs.
He braced himself by the door of the room that a toothless prostitute he'd spoken with the day before had told him Dempsey liked to use. She'd been pretty until her mouth opened, and until you saw the glazed look in her eyes. She'd laughed when he asked what happened to her teeth, and he'd felt sick to his stomach when she'd told him she'd had them removed because "zha johnz lie it withou teef, tip echsra."
"Do or fucking die," he whispered to himself, kicked the door opening, praying he was right, or else nothing was going to stop Dempsey and Tenpenny.
"WHAT THE FUCK!" shouted one of the officers, eyes wide as the door burst open and Sweet stepped in,"WHO THE FU-"
Sweet didn't talk, he just lifted his guns, opening fire as the more quick-witted officers dived aside, grabbing at their own pieces.
But quick or not, it was too late.
Sweet looked around at the dead Officers, not feeling anything for them, good or bad. Not one of them had gotten a shot of, they'd been too taken by surprise, thinking they were safe, that were just going to be babysitting the hostage.
He moved into the small adjoining bedroom, and stared down with disgust at the unshaven man huddled down in a crouch, taking quick panicked breaths and trying to suppress sobs.
"Look at me," Sweet said, and the man let out a moan and crouched tighter, as if he could disappear into himself. Sweet sighed and fired over the man's head.
"Look. at. me," Sweet said angrily, and slowly the man rose his face up to look at Sweet, snot dangling from his nose, tears welling up in his eyes.
"Please.... please," he moaned, accent thick,"You no kill. I just want to make deal. We make deal?"
"I have a deal for you," Sweet sneered,"Tell me where and when the trade is happening and I'll let you live."
"He was going to let him go?" asked Zero, surprised. Suzie rolled his eyes, Woozie grinned and I just shook my head as Zero blushed, saying,"Sorry."
Suzie laid out the cards, showing a King himself. I stuck on 18 and Woozie did the same on 17, but Zero kept taking hits until Suzie laid down a fifth card that took him to 21.
"Blackjack!" laughed Zero as Suzie turned his second card and revealed a four, and instantly hit to bust on 22.
"Dammit," he said,"This is the only goddamn game in this Casino where the House gets fucked by the rules."
"Bullshit," said Woozie calmly,"That was pure luck on Zero's part, bad luck on yours, but the House always wins."
"Always," I agreed,"Except when it doesn't."
Suzie started dealing again, and I continued telling them about how the European spilled his guts to Sweet, who.... took care of him.... and then left the Motel, not answering Tre and Delray's questions until they were driving towards Mulholland Intersection, wanting to be moving while explaining.
Time had been of the essence.
"OK, they'd made the trade," Sweet whispered to them as they crouched looking at the big Boxville Van off in the distance. This was the perfect place to make the trade, sheltered by the Intersection, deep back with wide open spaces to see if anyone was coming, and plenty of escape routes if shit went south,"You guys ready for this?"
"We gonna charge them?" asked Delray,"They'll gun us down before we get close, these antiques Emmet gave us."
"We ain't gonna charge them," Sweet said, shaking his head,"I took C.R.A.S.H by surprise at the Motel, these fucks don't know what went down there but they'll be moving soon, going they separate ways to call they boys and let them know the deal has been done... we gotta take them out before that happens."
"So what we going to do?" asked Tre.
"You two," grinned Sweet,"Are gonna take a walk."
Sweet watched the Officers watching as Tre and Delray walked by the storefronts on the far side of the road, just shooting the shit, a couple of guys out late at night in Los Santos.... only they were wearing Grove Street colors, and these C.R.A.S.H Officers knew they were a long way from home.
They'd been smoking cigarettes and chatting with the European who had brought the Boxville, which Sweet assumed held the drugs and probably the cops' money now too. As soon as they finished their cigarettes the European would take the money and go, the cops would take the drugs, they'd make their calls and the hostages would go free.... only right now, the European Hostage was dead.
"What the fuck those boys doing out in Montgomery?" asked one of the Officers,"I don't like this."
"Who they are?" asked the European, his stupid hairstyle making him look younger than he was,"You know? You know them?"
"Relax, Boris," said one of the Officers, and the other laughed.
"Who is this "Boris"?" asked the dumb fuck,"Why you always to call me Boris?"
They weren't paying attention though, watching as Tre and Delray started crossing the street in their direction. Sweet moved slowly around the massive concrete pillars behind the Boxville, moving slowly, praying no one would look away from the two Grove Street Homies making them nervous.
"URKK!" gasped "Boris" as Sweet snapped his neck, dropping his body and going for his guns.
"MOTHERFUCK!" shouted one of the Officers,"FUCK!"
He grabbed at his own gun, but his buddy was standing in his way, staring wide-eyed at Boris' body. Panicking, the officer tried to shove him out of the way, but it was too late, Sweet was blazing already, and it was over almost before it had begun.
Tre opened a large silver attaché case he'd found on the floor of the Boxville as Sweet drove them away from the scene, letting out a happy squawk.
"Shit, Sweet, money!" he laughed, grabbing out thick stacks of notes,"Gotta be easily a million here, maybe two? I don't fucking know, it's ALOT!"
"Fucking crates of shit back here, man," Delray said through the grill between the cabin and the back of the Boxville,"More drugs than I knew were in the world."
"So what now, Sweet?" asked Tre.
"When the Europeans don't get a call, they're gonna make Dempsey call someone," Sweet said,"And when they find out what happened, they kill him."
"Yeah.... but Tenpenny?" asked Tre,"What about him?"
"Leave him to me," said Sweet, grinning.
They drove down into the old sewer tunnels where Sweet's brothers and their friends played, Sweet parking the Boxville and all of them getting out.
"I want you guys to understand something, OK?" Sweet said, handing Tre the attaché case,"There's alot of money in that case, but it's just a drop in the bucket. Tenpenny was right about something, there's always gonna be drugs on the streets, and no matter what we do, people is always gonna get high, get fucked up. What we've got in that Boxville could make us tens of millions of dollars, make us richer than anyone who ever came out of Ganton, even if we shared it amongst all of Grove Street Families. There's money in drugs, do you understand?"
"Yeah," nodded Tre,"I understand."
"I understand, Sweet," agreed Delray.
"Good," grinned Sweet, and opened fire on the fuel tank of the Boxville.
"Some things aren't for sale," Sweet said, turning and walking away from the flaming wreck of the Boxville and its millions of dollars worth of drugs, Tre and Delray falling in behind him,"Like my soul."
"I can see why that impressed people," noted Woozie,"He walked alone into the lions den, killed eight men single-handedly, and resisted a great temptation."
"Hit me," said Zero, who had been sitting on 18, and busted.
"Unlike some people," sighed Woozie.
"Yeah, but that wasn't what made him a legend," I said as I stuck on 18 - the reason Zero had hit - only to see Suzie strike Blackjack,"It's what came next."
"Frank? What you doing here?" asked Officer Kowalski as Tenpenny walked up to the two patrolmen waiting on the Narcotics Detectives and Crime Scene Unit to arrive.
"I heard there was a gang element?" said Tenpenny, trying to keep his heart from fluttering and his voice from cracking. What the fuck had that asshole done, it couldn't be, he had to see in the back, he can't have blown up the drugs, he wouldn't have, they were worth millions of dollars!
"Where the fuck you hear that?" asked Officer Elroy.
"One of my CI's," Tenpenny managed to mutter, moving around the van trying his best to look like he was fascinated by the destruction and not desperate to see inside the back,"Maybe he was just trying to get in my good books, though? Don't see gangs being involved in something like this."
It was all burnt, he'd fucking burnt the drugs!
Tenpenny felt a wave of dizziness threaten to knock him on his ass, and black roses unfolded in his vision that he had to shake off.
"You OK, Frank?" asked Kowalski,"You don't look so hot."
"Touch of the flu, I think," He managed,"Shit, look I think my CI was yanking my chain, I won't get in your guys way no more."
"Hey, where's Dempsey?" asked Elroy,"He's on duty tonight, ain't he?"
"Haven't seen him," Tenpenny muttered,"Maybe he's sick too, see you guys later."
He managed to walk straight all the way out of the Sewer Tunnel and into his patrol car, where his rookie partner Pulaski was waiting for him, looking confused.
"What's going on, Frank?" he asked as Tenpenny settled back into the driver's seat and put his forearm over his eyes,"Why'd you want to come see thi-"
"Shut up for a second, Eddie," he sighed,"Listen, I got some business I gotta take care of, can I drop you off at a diner for an hour or so?"
"We ain't supposed to do stuff like tha-" started Pulaski, then saw the look Tenpenny was giving him and lowered his eyes,"Yeah, sure Frank, sure."
Tenpenny drove him to the nearest all night diner he could fine, then drove away, his destination clear in his head. Only one person would have had the balls to pull something like this - Chavez hadn't been happy about the idea of selling drugs but hadn't wanted to be left behind if the other gangs were pulling this. Kane and Lil' Poppa hadn't had any problems.... but Sweet, Sweet Johnson, that motherfucker had played him, and nobody played Frank Tenpenny and lived.
"Officer," said Sweet simply, face blank. He'd come to the door as Tenpenny had banged on it, lights turning on all around the neighborhood, people woken by the noise wanting to know who was causing such a ruckus at 4am... and waking up those still sleeping when they realized it was the police at the Johnson house, and not just any police - Frank Tenpenny, Dempsey's right-hand man,"You never made that call."
"Don't give me that shit!" hissed Tenpenny, furious, Sweet blocking the entrance to the door, Beverly Johnson peeking from behind him, holding her two younger sons against her, her youngest daughter apparently still sleeping,"You burnt the fucking drugs, you piece of shit! But not the money, where's the money? That's MY money!"
"You got a warrant?" asked Sweet, still blankfaced.
"A wa... a warrant?" laughed Tenpenny,"You think I need a warrant? I go where the fuck I want, when I want, you fucked with the wrong nigger."
He stepped forward, but Sweet didn't move.
"Move the fuck out of the way, boy," Tenpenny growled.
"This ain't your house, and you don't have a warrant," said Sweet, his Mother making a little moan from behind him and holding her sons closer against her,"You ain't coming in."
"Boy, if you know what's good for you, you'll get the fuck out of my way," warned Tenpenny.
Sweet stood staring back at him, both of them refusing to drop eyes, and then Sweet leaned forward right into Tenpenny's face.
"Boy, I don't care if you know what's good for you or not, you have no business here, you have no right to be here, and Grove Street is done doing your bidding. You understand me, boy? I hope you do, because this ain't no empty threat. Grove Street is mine now, not yours.... now back the fuck off and get the hell off of my street."
Tenpenny stared at Sweet who stared right back, the Officer shocked but hiding it, trying to break down Sweet with his look, remind him who was the law and who was the gangsta homeboy piece of shit. But Sweet's expression didn't change, and Tenpenny realized everyone in the neighborhood was up and looking now and.....
"You ain't heard the la-" he started.
"Shut the fuck up," interrupted Sweet, and closed the door in Tenpenny's face.
The Officer stood shocked, trying to understand what had just happened, and then turned to look at all the people on the street who had seen him go face to face with Sweet Johnson.... and lose.
He could hear the call coming in over his radio now, officers down, bodies found in Jefferson Motel and Mulholland Intersection. He knew it would only be a matter of time till Dempsey's body was found, and that the Europeans would probably take a shot at him before fleeing the country to avoid getting caught up in the investigation. If the Narcotics dick was any good, he'd link everything and figure they were dirty cops, and Tenpenny would be tainted by association. It was pure chance that he'd been the one chosen to work with the gangleaders, saved by the fact he was the only black Officer in on the C.R.A.S.H scheme. He'd have Pulaski to alibi him, but it would take years to recover back to a position where he could reestablish the level of control C.R.A.S.H had once held over gangs in Los Santos.
He walked away from the Johnson house in a daze, hopped into his cruiser and drove back to the diner to pick up Pulaski, fill him in on what was happening.
He would not set foot in Grove Street again for 13 years.
"Sweet Johnson, the man who beat The Man," observed Woozie, lifting an eyebrow behind his glasses,"I can only assume the story grew with the passing till he achieved mythical status?"
"If that means people thought he was a legend, yeah," I nodded,"He took Tre and Delray to Venturas for a weekend to explain where the money came from, split it with them three ways. Delray got shot in a drive-by a couple of years later and his family used the money to move out to the Midwest. Tre got married, settled down a little, died of a heart attack in 85 cause he got too fat. Sweet paid off my Moms' mortgage and bought Delray's family's house next door, had enough left over to buy things when he needed, not worry about a job, and running the gang took care of all his other needs."
"Why didn't he move you out of Grove Street?" asked Zero.
"I never really thought to ask," I said,"Maybe he didn't want to move Moms out of where she'd lived all her life? Maybe he liked being a big fish in a small pond? I don't know. Hit me."
"20, you win," said Suzie, turning over his own card and sitting on 17 like he had to,"We done here?"
"Yeah," I said,"How'd we end up?"
"Woozie broke even playing randomly," Suzie said,"Zero is down $1000 playing all out. You're up.... $50."
"You're not going to get invited to any High Roller Tables that way," grinned Woozie.
"Getting invited ain't the problem," I said,"I know this game backwards and forward, I know when to hit, when to stick, when to split, when to double."
"But knowing is only half the battle," noted Suzie,"All that does is let you minimize your losses, you'll end up maybe a few hundred up, maybe a few hundred down. And if I understand your gameplan right, you need to be winning big."
"But I have a secret weapon," I laughed,"I don't need to count cards or use an electronic bracelet and morse code or any bullshit like that, none of the usual bullshit that people try that gets they fingers broken, this was just about knowing I can look like I belong at the table..... and I do, I'm ready for this."
"So it's a go, then?" asked Woozie.
"Yeah," I said,"Tell the crew to get a good night's sleep."
Tomorrow we broke the bank at Caligula's.