"We all good?" I asked as Zero made his last minute checks on the van, Woozie standing waiting.
"Yeah, we're good," Woozie told me, turning around as I walked up, feeling the monkey suit I had on trying to choke me, fucking bowtie feeling too tight around my throat.
"It's 30 minutes till Millie's shift ends," I said, checking my Crowex,"You got your timings down?"
"For the thousandth time, Carl, yes," grinned Zero,"I just hope your "secret weapon" works."
"Don't even worry about it man," I said,"Alright, I'll see you at the backdoor, let's roll."
I drove to Caligula's barely recognizing myself, which would have been a problem even if I hadn't been wearing the monkey suit. I'd shaved my goatee and grown some hair on my dome, not wanting to be instantly recognizable when I stepped inside the Casino. It was amazing how quickly I'd gotten used to having no hair on my head, so that I looked like a stranger to myself sporting a cut like I'd had most of my adult life.
I paused to take it all in, the Casino in full swing, sounds of slots, laughter, drinking, shouts of triumph and disbelief, the never-ending shift of money. Millie would be gone by now, which was perfect, she'd suggested that I should use her as a croupier for my plan, but I didn't want to take the chance on someone having seen us together before, or someone pointing me out to Salvatore and him remembering she was the one who had "paid" me my fee for sorting out his problems at St. Mark's Bistro.
I looked over at the bag check, hoping Millie had done what I asked, then moved down towards the gaming floor, converting cash to chips then moving on past the cattle feeding quarters into slot machines and video poker, past the small stakes tables, heading for where big money was spent without being off in the private high roller's room. For what I wanted to do, I needed to be out in the open and catching the public eye.
"Test your luck, sir?" asked the Croupier, casting an appraising eye over me and picking that I had money. I nodded and placed $10,000 in chips down on the Blackjack Table, causing him to raise his eyebrows in surprise. There was a high limit on this table, but most people started small and worked their way up. A few people passing by saw the stacks of chips on the table and paused to look as well, the Croupier saying,"Sir is feeling lucky today, it seems."
He dealt out the cards, placing a 6 and 4 down for me, an eight for himself. I told him to hit and got another six, putting me up to 16, about the worst fucking number I could get. He had to stick on 17 but could hit on 16, and showing an eight, there was every chance he could beat a 16 with just one card. He raised an eyebrow, waiting to see what this brother in the fine suit laying down 10K on his first bet was going to do.
"I am feeling lucky," I said,"A friend of mine was here last weekend and told me Lady Luck was with him all night, you might have even dealt to him, Mr. Lombardi?"
"Mr. Lombardi is a frequent visitor to this establishment," nodded the Croupier, and I had to give him credit, he didn't even blink at the name,"Your call, sir?"
"Hit me," I said, and heard someone behind me groan, and turned to see an older brother in a Hawaiian shirt shaking his head.
"At 16 you're too likely to bust, son," he said,"Should have stuck and eaten the loss."
"4 to Sir, score of 20," noted the Croupier, deadpan, and I had to laugh.
"Stick," I said, and my spectator shrugged - beginner's luck.
There was a scattering of applause, I'd gotten some attention like I was hoping, but my eyes was all on the Croupier. Dude was blankfaced, and his hands were magic, I'd watched him like a hawk but hadn't seen him make the switch. But I knew he had, because on my next hand...
"Goddamn son," laughed the old brother,"You're playing with fire! You're gonna get burned, you're not careful."
"Nah," I said,"I think Lady Luck is with me today, let's see how far I can take this thing."
It turned out, I could take it far. For three hours I played, and every time it looked like I would lose, the cards would turn out my way or against the dealer, and the pile of chips in front of me grew and grew and grew.... and so did the people behind me, watching, cheering, laughing, clapping, letting out gasps and moans every time it looked like I might bust or get beaten, cheering louder whenever I won again.
All thanks to "Mr. Lombardi".
Millie had told me all about the little trick the Casino liked to pull when it felt like it wasn't getting enough money out of the idiots. They'd send in a "High Roller" to play down on the gaming floor with regular people, instead of up in a private room where the stakes was high and there was a six month waiting list for a place at the table. They would only play at a pre-selected table with a pre-selected Croupier WHO could play out the cards that needed to be played without anyone seeing it happen. All the practice I'd had, it had all been to make it LOOK like I knew what I was doing, because I didn't need to worry about winning, that was already going to be taken care of for me. Millie had told me that there was pass codes for the Croupier's to know when a fake High Roller was coming in, and tonight's was "Mr. Lombardi". The moment I'd said it, the Croupier had known I was to be taken care of, and even if he kept his face blank he was making a point of calling out my wins loud enough for people around us to hear. The idea was, the High Roller won big and walked away, cashing in his chips then returning the money to the vault. Meanwhile, everyone who'd seen him win would think they could catch some of the "luck" in the air and throw caution to the wind, and the Casino would rake in extra on top of what it would normally get.
They had systems set up to keep this type of thing being exploited though, I knew there was cameras on me, and that in a big dark room full of television monitors, some highly strung asshole who was paid six figures a year to prevent the Casino getting done would be checking me out, finding out who I was, whether I worked for the Casino or not.
And he'd be getting back word that I'd worked personally for Salvatore Leone and had already been in the Casino as a "High Roller" once before, only then it had been for the "small" amount of 20K. He wouldn't dare put a call through to Salvatore to make sure I was on the up and up and risk insulting the high-tempered asshole, so the word from the dark room would be,"Let the man play."
"Sir is on a remarkable roll," noted the Croupier as we hit the three hour mark,"One wonders how much longer he will trust in "Lady Luck"?"
"Don't rush the man!" yelled one of the ladies who'd been cheering me on,"You're just scared he's going to break the bank!"
"He could sit here for a year and not break the bank," laughed the older brother who'd stayed to watch, telling me time and time again to quit pushing my luck so hard,"Sooner or later, the House always wins."
"You know, I'm getting a little sick and tired of you, man," I said, turning around to glare at him, even though he was the perfect unexpected addition to my little game. The Croupier had been giving me the signal to wrap things up, obviously thinking that while the crowd was watching me, they wasn't gambling, my own timetable needed to be stuck to, and now I had the perfect opportunity,"Luck's in the air tonight, can't you feel it?"
"Luck? Luck doesn't run forever," he replied,"Take it from me, son, quit while you're ahead. I've seen too many gamblers lose it all on "one last gamble"."
"Yo, what's the max bet I can make here?" I asked the Croupier.
"The table limit is one million dollars, sir," replied the Croupier deadpan,"Coincidentally, the same amount you have won tonight."
"If that ain't a sign, I don't know what is!" I laughed, and to shocked gasps from the crowd, I pushed EVERYTHING onto the table, one million dollars in chips.
"No son!" shouted the old brother,"You're gonna blow everything you won today!"
"LET IT RIDE!" shouted the girl, and the rest of the crowd took"LET IT RIDE!"
The Croupier took this all in with a blank face, then dealt out the cards. An ace to me, and..... an ace to him.
"Oh goddamn son, you are FUCKED!" whispered the old brother, and the girl slapped his shoulder to shut him up as the Croupier turned over my card, blinked, then turned over his.
I'd just won an extra million dollars.
The crowd went fucking crazy, causing concerned looking security to edge up closer until the Pit Crew Boss shook his head to back them off. I stepped back from the table, lowered my arms to my knees and took in a deep breath of air before turning around and grinning at them all, including the old brother.
"The House always wins, huh?" I asked him, grinning, then threw my hands up wide,"I've ridden Lady Luck as far as I can take her, up to you fine folks now, I wish you the best of luck!"
They rushed towards the tables, eagerly offering up chips, thinking they'd found an honest-to-God lucky streak, while I collected up my chips and shook the Croupier's hand.
"Give Mr. Lombardi my regards," he said, and I nodded and then turned to see the girl and the old brother both stepping up with they own chips out.
"Don't tell me I made a believer out of you, old man?" I grinned.
"I ain't gonna try and emulate you," he said, blushing slightly,"But I've seen stranger things happen in gambling, ain't no harm in risking money I was prepared to lose anyway."
I clapped him on the shoulder and nodded in appreciation to a security guard who stepped up to collect up my chips, offering to escort me to have them changed into cash. Together we walked away, leaving behind a gaming floor buzzing with excitement as people laid out cash and the croupiers made sure to see most of them were winning to start, hooking them in.
"It's a little hot," I said to the Security Guard,"I'll meet you at the Cash Exchange, just wanna check in my coat."
"Your dime," grunted the Guard. I headed over to the coat check, sliding off my sunglasses and putting them into my interior jacket pocket, taking that off as well and handing it in to the coat check girl who gave me a token back.
"Oh that reminds me," I said,"I forgot to pick my up bag the other day."
I handed her another token and she brought me a small black bag, left there the night before by Millie who had checked it in for me. Walking away, I passed one of the faux Roman pillars and took the chance for using my own quick hands like the Croupier's, slapping a small radio transmitter/receiver designed by Zero into my ear. It's internal battery would only run for three hours, but that was all the time I'd need. I slipped the other things from inside the bag into my pants pocket and then came around the side of the pillar, raising a hand in greeting to the security guard who was waiting outside the glass windows of the chip exchange, where I could cash in my chips.
The process was fast, they'd been expecting me, and within a few minutes I had two million in hundred dollar bills inside a small attaché case they'd prepared for me.
"Would you like me to escort you to a suite, sir?" asked the Security Guard, obviously getting messages into his ear from his boss,"It would be unwise to carry such an amount of money about unprotected."
"I think I can make it as far as I need to go OK," I grinned, dropping him a small wink and looked over towards a room you could easily miss seeing if you weren't looking for it, even with a huge muscled Security Guard in a suit standing next to it.
"Of course, sir," nodded the Guard,"Have a good night, sir."
I turned and walked towards the room that would lead into the hidden world behind the facade of the Casino, where staff rooms, security rooms, maintenance rooms, power generators and - most importantly - the vault could be found. I held the attaché case at my side, fighting an urge to check my Crowex, knowing I'd timed it right and any second no-
"OK? This is it," said Zero's voice into my ear, sitting in the back of the van already making its way towards the Service Bay out the back of Caligula's, hearing everything I was hearing from the moment I'd switched on the transmitter/receiver. We'd timed this down to the last second,"Play it cool, Carl, play it cool."
"Hey, I'm cool," I said with a grin.
"Are you sure?" he asked, sounding on the edge of panic himself as zero hour approached,"You sound kind of edgy to me!"
"I'm cool, OK?" I said, hoping he wasn't going to freak out on me at the final second.
"OK, OK!" he half-shouted into my ear,"Now, make your way to the staff door."
"I knooow," I whispered through gritted teeth as I walked the final few feet up to the door, the posted Guard looking me up and down, knowing I was apparently a "High Roller" but not recognizing me as one of the usual lot they used. Last time I'd been paid out by the Casino, I'd gotten to take the money home instead of returning it to the vault like they usually did.
"Yeah," I said,"I'm standing in for Jerry, he's ill."
"Who's Jerry!?!" asked Zero, sounding more panicky than before.
"Shut up!" I whispered.
"What?" asked the blond Security Guard.
"I... I think I got Jerry's cough," I said, shrugging, and he shook his head and went back to keeping an eye on the Casino Floor as I stepped up to the staff door, my final test. Maybe I could have figured out the code for the phony High Rollers, maybe I could be risking my life by using Salvatore's friendship... but no way could I get through the Staff Door without the right security clearance. I could get through that door, I was one of them.
Looks like I was one of them.
I set the attaché case down, there was 2 million inside but if I pulled this off, that was going to look like chump change. Zero was in my ear, telling me I needed to get to the backup generator room one level down, but I didn't reply, just moving like I belonged down the stairs, turning a corner in the narrow corridors that were so different to the moving, energetic nature of the Casino. A Security Guard stood outside the backup generator room, but he looked bored and he had no reason to think I didn't belong there as I nodded to him and stepped into the room.
"All right, I'm in the Generator Room," I said quietly.
"OK," said Zero, sounding more in control now that things were in motion,"The ventilation grills are on the back wall. Throw the gas down one of these."
I reached into my pocket, taking out part of what had been in the bag Millie left in the coatroom, a gas grenade. I stepped up to the ventilation duct and dropped the grenade down, hearing it tumble down the duct and land in the Service Bay were our intel told us two security guards were always stationed.
"We won't know if that worked until we get down there," I said into the empty room.
"Yeah, well... don't worry about it," said Zero, all business now, caught up in the heist,"Right now we've got a schedule to stick to. Head to the security door and use your swipe card!"
"You gonna do something about those lights?" I asked him,"I got by this far by looking like I was meant to be here, but Security is going to want to escort me down to the vault to put they money back."
"OK," I heard him mutter, the clatter of keys on his computer irritating the hell out of me,"I'm in their system, and I've hacked their emergency lighting protocols, I'm going to blow the charges you placed at the dam... here goes nothing."
Sitting in his van along with Woozie, Suzie, Shèjing and the janitor, Zero pushed the button.
"We going to go shopping or what?" Maria demanded as Salvatore checked out his boots in the full length mirror.
"It's almost midnight, hon," he said back, wondering if he could get a better tailored suit to hide his thickening waist.
"You haven't gotten used to Venturas yet, have you?" she laughed, sitting on the end of his - their - bed,"The lights never go off and the city never sleeps, we can go sho-"
And then, the lights in the city that never sleeps went off.
"Wow," Zero said over the transmitter, sounding surprised as all around me I heard panicky shouts in the darkness, staff and Security stumbling around trying to figure out what was going on. Throughout the rest of Venturas, Casinos and Hotels had emergency generators firing up - at the Four Dragons, emergency generators had already been running and the people inside didn't have a clue of the panic hitting the rest of the city - and light was already returning, but at Caligula's, the lights remained off,"I didn't think that was going to work!"
"I can't see jack," I complained, reaching into my pocket and pulling out the last little surprise that had been packed into the bag Millie had left for me.
Night Vision goggles.
The Security Locks ran on they own independent power, which would have been smart of the Casino except it meant now I could get in. I moved down narrow corridors as I heard calls coming through to the Security Guards lost in the dark over their radios, yelling and shouting in the background. There was a riot going on upstairs, people grabbing at chips and money in the dark, hoping to make out like bandits in the power cut. That was perfect, it was keeping Security occupied as I entered the Service Bay and found that the gas had worked.
"OK," said Zero,"We've got the power down, which means the gate's unlocked. But now you're going to have to raise it yourself."
"That won't be a problem," I said, heading deeper into the Bay towards a piece of machinery I'd known I'd find there,"Gate's coming up in a few seconds."
The Armored Van backed in and the doors opened, the guys inside relieved to finally be out of the cramped quarters and away from Zero's constant typing.
"Well done, Carl!" said Zero, who was in his element in the dark,"Now it's time for us to do our part, try to stay close!"
He turned towards the door leading back up towards the vault, giving orders, all in charge now that I had him inside.
"OK team," he told Suzie, Shèjing and the janitor,"I've gone over the layout to this place so I know it back to front. Everybody follow me!"
"Damn!" cursed Woozie, rubbing his nose,"The devious bastards have changed the layout!"
"Don't worry," Suzie said after a couple of awkward seconds,"I'll take the lead, Boss."
"Good idea," nodded Woozie,"Everybody follow... HIM!"
As Suzie led Woozie, the janitor and Shèjing towards the door, Zero took me by the arm.
"Carl, your time isn't limitless," he warned,"I can keep their emergency generators down, but the longer we're here, the more like they are to send guards down here to make sure their money is safe."
"I got it, don't worry," I told him,"Long as you keep those generators down, I'll have us back long before they take control upstairs and think to send someone down."
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE'S NO EMERGENCY POWER?" demanded Salvatore, jabbing his finger into his Head of Security's chest, physically pushing the man back. The chaos on the gaming floor was mostly under control now, but without lights it was impossible to get a tally of the damage, and Salvatore wanted answers.
"The power SHOULD be back up," the Security Head - Doug - managed to get out,"I don't know wh-"
"ALL THE MONEY I PAY YOU, YOU FUCK! AND YOU DON'T KNOW?" screamed Salvatore, Maria leaning bored against a wall in the background of the monitor room lit dimly by maglites,"SEND SOMEONE DOWN AND FIND OUT!"
"We need all our men to control the floor!" insisted Doug,"We-"
Both men turned to look as a quaking young technician stepped up holding a cellphone.
"A c-ca--call for you, sir," he managed to stammer to Salvatore.
"You fucking interrupt me you motherless fuck?" hissed Salvatore,"I don't care if it's the fucking Pope on the other end, you fucking interrupt ME!"
"You'll want to take this call, Mr. Leone," said the technician, practically sobbing,"He says it's about the power outage."
Salvatore snatched the phone out of the technician's hand and shoved him bodily backwards.
"WHO THE FUCK IS THIS?" he demanded.
"Mr. Leone?" asked a breathy, nasally voice,"I have information you may be interested in hearing."
Suzie stepped around the corner of the corridor and then suddenly backed up, throwing up an arm to halt the rest of us. Shèjing grabbed Woozie's arm as he continued on unaware, and we all hunkered down.
"Security," whispered Suzie,"End of the corridor, I think they're just sitting put waiting for the lights to com-"
"All security personnel," crackled a distant voice, obviously coming from the radios of the security team,"Intruders have breached the Service Bay, I repeat, intruders have breached the Service Bay, an attempted robbery of the Casino is in progress, repel at ALL costs! You are sanctioned to use lethal force."
"Fuck," whispered Woozie,"Guns, quickly."
Shèjing lowered a canvas bag he had been carrying at his side, matching the one the janitor was holding, and lifted out M4s that he handed off to each of us. Down the end of the corridor we could all hear the excited chatter from Security, and we all knew it was now or never.
But how the fuck did they know we were here?
Clearing through the Security Team, we moved on up the stairs, on the lookout for more Security but not finding any. That meant they was still being tied up by the people in the Casino itself, with those lights off it was going to be almost impossible for them to get organized enough to take control.
"Not far now, keep alert," warned Suzie.
"Hey!" shouted Woozie,"I was just about to say that!"
"Sorry, Boss," said Suzie, and Woozie nodded.
"Not far now, everybody!" Woozie said this time, and started up the stairs, only for the janitor to push ahead of him.
"Stay alert!" reminded the janitor.
"Oh yeah, stay alert," added Woozie, looking surprised.
And then we were there - Caligula's vault.
"OK," Woozie said, taking command again,"We'll set the charges while you watch the door!"
"OK, Boss," nodded Suzie, as Woozie and Shèjing began setting explosives from the janitor's canvas bag around the edges of the vault door.
"Hurry it up, Gentlemen," Zero said into all of our earpieces,"They know something's wrong... someone else is in the system!"
"Hey, what's the problem?" I asked. How the fuck could someone else be in the system? Caligula Security was locked out by the lack of power.
"Somebody's trying to bring the emergency generators back up!" moaned Zero, sounding worried.
"I'll head back up to the generator room and shut them down for good," I said, reaching into the canvas bag and grabbing out a couple of satchel charges,"Then it won't matter how many people are in the system."
"OK people!" shouted Woozie,"Load up the cash!"
Everyone rushing inside, filling sacks with money, stacks and stacks of it, every little piece that Caligula's had managed to squeeze out of gamblers high and low since they last cash pick-up. Millions upon millions of dollars, all of it set to go towards keeping the Mob strong in they last stronghold in Venturas.... and we were going to take it all.
"Carl!" warned Zero into my ear,"You've got Mafia gorillas coming down to the vault and.... CURSE YOU BERKLEY, CURSE YOU!"
Berkley? What the fuck was going on.
"Mr. Berkley, what the fuck is going on?" Salvatore asked, going to great effort to be civil to the mouth-breathing, wheezing piece of shit on the other end of the line who had told him that HIS Casino was being hit.
"They've physically destroyed the Emergency Generators," the condescending shit told him,"And they're almost certainly using night vision goggles, your men are going to be slaughtered."
"That's their job," hissed Salvatore angrily,"Let them pile up their bodies till the assholes smother in a sea of blood for all I care... are you telling me you CAN'T get my power back?"
"I'm not saying that at all, Mr. Leone," wheezed the fat-fuck sounding hacker poindexter ballsless motherless fuck,"It's simply a matter of rerouting the city's own emergency power grid to your Casino. That's not a standard hack, however, and there is the small matter of my recompense...."
"Name your fucking bill, I will pay it," growled Salvatore,"Just get me my lights back on!"
"OK team," ordered Woozie as we left the vault carrying heavy sacks straining at the edges they was so stuffed full of money,"Just how we practiced, two by two."
He immediately walked into Suzie, and they stumbled under the weight of the sacks of cash they were carrying.
"Ow fuck..." complained Woozie,"Scratch that! Everybody follow Carl!"
"Grab that case," I said as we passed the entrance. The janitor picked it up, asking what it was.
"Your bonus," I said with a grin,"Open it later, you'll see."
"I've unloaded the police bikes," Zero said as we walked into the Service Bay, talking fast, not giving me a chance to ask what the fuck was going on with Berkley,"Everybody in! You two, change into your police uniforms!"
The janitor and Shèjing began stripping down as Woozie and Suzie loaded the cash into the back of the armored van before heading around to the cab to drive out of there. Zero jumped into the back so he could maintain communication with me, I'd be providing the decoy while they drove out under "police" guard, taking all of Caligula's money with them.
"OK, CJ," Zero said into my ear as I physically pulled the Service Bay door down,"You're on your own now."
"Time to show these motherfuckers what's happening," I said with a grin, moving towards the stairs.
"Carl..." started Zero, like he wanted to say something, then changed his mind at the last second,"Would you like me to talk you through to the roof?"
"Anything that hel-" I started, and then I was blinded as the lights suddenly flooded back on, and I had to pull my night vision goggles off of my head.
Damn you Berkley!" shouted Zero, all stupid dramatics like when we first met,"Damn you!"
"Ah c'mon, man!" I shouted,"Talk to me!"
"I... now head through the Casino to the elevators on the far side," he said, avoiding the subject, take the service elevator all the way to the roof."
OK, OK, the little talk I needed to have with Zero could wait, first I had to get out of here. After what we'd already pulled off today, how hard could that be?
"We have full control of the Casino floor again," Doug told Salvatore, the monitor room lit up bright again, power running through the Casino once more thanks to Berkley,"The police have arrived and are asking questions, but it's nothing we can't hold off. What do you want me to do about our little problem downstairs?"
"Send in the boys," grinned Salvatore,"I want these bastards alive.... barely."
I reached the Service Elevator and stepped inside, swiping my card and feeling myself being lifted up floor by floor by floor. Now that the power was back on, they'd know someone had used a card to take a lift to the top floor, but that was fine by me, I was supposed to be a decoy. Every minute they spent focused on taking me out was another mile further away that Woozie and the money was getting.
The only problem was, was I going to be able to get away once I reached the top of Caligula's?
I stepped out onto the roof and was immediately taken in by the sight of Las Venturas (mostly) without power. But that lasted only a second, as a bright light suddenly swept over me and I felt a rush of air almost knock me off of my feet. A helicopter was leveling off above the Casino, armed goons inside aiming at me, sent up to take me out.
I opened fire on them to back them off a bit, then ran for my insurance package, pleased that we'd gone to the extra risk to get it in place. A couple of days earlier, Woozie had sent an unconnected guy to stay at Caligula's for the night, paying good money for a Penthouse Suite. Inside his large, hefty luggage had been a couple of changes of clothes, a parachute..... and a big fucking mini-gun.
He'd stashed it outside, a risky move but it paid off now as the helicopter rose up over the edge of the roof so the goons inside could take another shot at me, only to see what was waiting for them.
I rushed over the rooftop, leaving the burning remains of the helicopter behind, something else that was sure to bring Caligula's unwanted attention AND keep the police too busy trying to find out what was going on to be able to stop the money getting away. I slid the parachute onto my back, spotting the helicopter sitting on top of one of the roofs of the Clowns Pocket Casino. This was the last phase of my escape, I'd make the jump from Caligula's to the other roof, grab the copter - a private charter copter used by businesses in the area - and fly to freedom. I didn't let myself hesitate, not after all the shit I had been through, and took a running jump, pulling the ripcord and feeling the parachute jerk me out of my fall as I flew away from what had been Caligula's Casino and now was nothing but a big building with an empty vault.
Unfortunately, what I hadn't taken into account was the weather. I'd been expecting the fine sunny conditions we usually got in Venturas, but storm clouds of all fucking things were rolling in, and the sky was so dark it felt like it was midnight, especially with half of Venturas still dark. As I dropped and tried to control my fall, the wind caught me and pull me to the left, away from my landing spot, and I watched in disbelief as I passed the side of the building and landing on top of the giant faux circus tent of Clowns Pocket.
"The police are demanding to see you, Mr. Leone," Doug was telling the Mafia Don, who didn't look pleased to hear the news.
"Who the fuck told them I was here?" he demanded.
"Everybody knows you're running things here now, Sir," Doug replied, resigned to losing his job over this debacle but hoping to somehow save his career somehow.
"Not tonight, I'm unaware of what happened here because I was at the airport waiting to return to Liberty City," he growled, then poked Doug roughly in the chest,"Understand?"
"Yes sir," the hapless Security Chief nodded, and Salvatore stormed out, grabbing Maria by the arm and dragging her after him.
"You still there, you useless fuck?" Salvatore demanded into the phone he was holding, ignoring Maria's pissed off shout at him to stop being so rough, in no mood for her moods.
"That is hardly a suitable attitude to take to the man who made you aware o-"
"Shut the fuck up, you fat fucking Jew bastard," Salvatore snapped,"What fucking good is anything you did? I got the lights back on? Whoop de shit! Knowing my place was being hit before it got fucking hit doesn't change the fact that I GOT FUCKING HIT!"
"We.... uhh.... we...." Berkley was hesitant now, unsure how to deal with an unstable, aggravated Mafia Don who was directing his anger at HIM,"We agreed on a fee for my returning power to your Casi-"
"My Casino DOESN'T HAVE ANY FUCKING MONEY, YOU ASSHOLE!" he screamed into the phone,"You turd, you cunt, you numbfuck cacasenno, recchione fuck you!"
"Bu... but my pa-"
"Your pay, faccia di merda," spat Salvatore as they stepped into the lift,"Is that I'm not going to track you down, carve your body into a thousand pieces and make you eat your own cock! If I ever hear from you again, I will fucking murder you, do you understand me? I will commit murder, I will kill you, you will cease to be alive at my fucking hands, are we clear, finocchio?"
"I... you can't... yo...."
"Are. we. fucking. clear?"
"Yes sir," wheezed Berkley, and Salvatore hung up, reaching his car in the garage beneath the Casino.
"Asshole," he grunted, then turned to look at Maria who was glaring at him,"What?"
"Are you done taking out your aggressions on some poor nerd yet?" she asked,"You're taking me to Liberty City? We'll go shopping there?"
"Jesus fucking Christ, YES! We'll go fucking shopping," he yelled,"Now get in the fucking car, I want to be out of here before anyone sees I was here at all!"
They hopped into the car and drove out of the Casino that had been the Mafia's last stronghold in Las Venturas, a Casino that Salvatore would sell his interest in the moment he returned to Liberty City.
But he had one last call to make first.
I got back to Verdant Meadows first, which suited me since I had a lot to think about. Not once did I ever think they weren't coming, Woozie was more than stand-up, he was my friend, just like Suzie, even Shèjing, hell I even liked the janitor.
And then there was Zero.
Yeah he was my friend, a good damn friend, one who had helped me just as much as I'd helped him.... but he'd talked - that was obvious, he'd been bragging to Berkley on they fucking computers or however the fuck it was nerds communicated, and he'd bragged about how he was pulling a heist in Venturas and given away too much information and it had nearly fucked up EVERYTHING!
Because he didn't know the first rule of the streets - you don't snitch.
"Ca... Carl," Zero said, stepping out of the back of the van as it pulled up with it's "police" escort,"I didn't mean to tell Berkley, it just kinda came out... is all...."
He lay on his back, staring up at me, looking miserable and hurt, but he'd gotten what he deserved. He was just lucky I'd pulled my punch at the last second, I don't think he'd ever been punched before.
"Hey, CJ!" shouted Woozie,"Calm down!"
I turned to look at Woozie, then down at Zero, then over at Suzie, Shèjing and the janitor. We all stared at each other, and then my phone rang, and we all stared at that instead.
"'Ssup?" I asked.
"You two-bit, backstabbing, piece of eggplant SHIT!" yelled Salvatore down the phone.
"Salvatore!" I laughed, and everyone was REALLY paying attention now, even Zero seemed to have forgotten his busted nose,"Nice to hear from you too!"
"You're dead! Your friends are dead! Your family's dead!" he shouted,"I'm gonna fuck you up, and your children and your grandchildren!"
"Well, it's been nice talking to ya," I grinned,"But I got some money needs spending on some expensive trash."
"You're dead!" he shouted, and I could hear someone in the background trying to calm him down, the sound of an airport behind that. He was running out of Venturas with his tail tucked between his leg, trying to cover up for his humiliation with what sounded like vein-popping anger,"DEAD!"
I hung up and chuckled, looking around at everyone else. Suzie and Shèjing were exchanging confused looks, and Woozie - who I guess had heard what Salvatore had to say thanks to his hearing - looked delighted.
Suddenly the janitor let out a cry of delight, he'd just opened the case I had told him was his bonus and he'd discovered the two million inside. He started to dance about in excitement, and finally it all hit home to me that I'd done it, I'd pulled off the fucking heist to end all heists.
"Come on, man," I said to Zero, reaching out to him,"We've got money to count and divide up."
"We're.... we're good?" asked Zero warily, taking my arm. I hauled him up and slapped a hand onto his shoulder.
"Nah man, not yet," I told him, truthfully, then couldn't help but grin even wider,"But all this money is going to go a looooong way towards it!"
And that was how we broke the bank at Caligula's.