Surprisingly, the old house was empty - I figured that the jittery fucker who tried to sell Momma's blender to us had kept the place to himself. Everyone else in the set seemed to be on crack, but this motherfucker had been high on something more energetic, speed I guess, and had scared everyone else off. More importantly than that though....
He'd fucking cleaned the place from top to bottom!
Motherfucker even washed the dirty dishes I left in the sink and stacked them up nice on the counter!
I opened up the house to air it out, going upstairs and opening all the bedroom windows, surprised to see all the beds made and sheets freshly laundered. This fucking junkie must have been bopping from wall to wall 24 hours a day while high, desperate to find something for his hands to do. I checked everywhere but couldn't find any stashes, so I figured he'd taken them with him, and when he saw I was back in the place he'd take off somewhere else to stash himself.
If not, I could deal with him.
Stepping out onto the balcony with a coffee - junkie hadn't done any shopping, there was still old coffee in the cupboards from months ago - I watched Sweet walking up Grove Street with a purpose, pulling the drugs out of fanny packs of the dead dealers, making a show of spilling them down the gutters before stalking back to his house, giving me a hard look at he went by.
I sighed, wondering how long I should leave him to calm down before he started getting madder that I hadn't come around, when my phone rang. I answered, figuring it would be Kent Paul wanting to talk over production notes, or maybe my overpaid lawyer letting me know after the fact that Sweet was out of prison.
"Hello?" I said.
"Hello," moaned a throaty, breathless voice, sounding like she was having a reaaaal good time,"Claude, baby."
"I thought I call to say how much I love joo," she moaned,"And how well endowed joo are!"
"Yo, Catalina," I said, grinning,"It's Carl. I think you got the wrong number."
"OH! Carl!" she squeaked, then instantly took control of herself, purring,"So sorry, it is such an easy mistake to make, especially when I am soooo light-headed with love.... and LUST!"
"Yeah," I said, rolling my eyes,"Well I-"
"NO TIME! BYEEEEE!" she called out, and hung up on me.
I put my phone away and shook my head, who fucking knew what that crazy bitch was thinking. All I knew was that I was tired, and I wanted to get some sleep before dealing with Sweet again. I went inside, closing the place up after all, hopping into my bed and slept for hours.
When I woke up, I knew exactly where I was, but not when. It was storming outside, thunder and lightning and rain, and I was in the bed I'd grown up in and for just a second I was a kid again wanting my Moms because the rain was scary.... and then it all came back to me - Moms was dead, Brian was dead, Ryder was dead, Smoke was a treacherous fuck and my Brother wasn't exactly thrilled at the state of his little world.
I sat up in the bed, feeling my stomach grumble, feeling sticky and in need of a shower as well. Hunger won out over cleanliness and I pulled my clothes back on and headed downstairs, wanting to see what was in the cupboards.
A jar of stale cookies, some seasoning, a little bag of flour, and some reason those little fucking silver balls Moms used to put on our birthday cakes. I grinned at the sight, but I couldn't make a meal out of this shit, and the coffee I'd made earlier had been horrible. I looked at the clock; it was close to three in the morning, which meant the only place open would be a convenience store. Maybe I could get some eggs and bacon, tomato, some bread and milk and coffee, fry up some artery hardening shit that would fill my belly nicely.
I shifted the chair I'd wedged under the front door and locked it behind me, looking around Grove Street from under the dry balcony, unfamiliar to me now. A couple of junkies was shuffling around the sidewalk over by where Jeffrey used to live, but mostly the street felt deserted - me and Sweet had chased off the dealers and the junkies had gone after them, leaving Grove Street a ghost town.
I rushed down through the rain in the dark to the garage, opening it up and wondering if it was possible that.... yes! Haha, I couldn't believe it, the fucking Stratum I'd jacked months ago was sitting there, untouched.
I drove through the heavy rain, wipers going at full strength, driving slowly because of the conditions, looking out over the streets as I went. The streets were mostly deserted, but in alleyways between stores I could see people standing around burning trashcans where the roofs extended far enough to keep out most of the rain, huddling together and hugging themselves, trying to keep out the cold. Sad thing was, they weren't all old homeless people, I saw people of all ages in there, including at least one person I'd known enough to nod to on the street. How the fuck could people not see the grip drugs had on Santos? Was it really out of sight, out of mind?
I pulled up outside a convenience store and ran inside, grabbing up more than I needed to restock the old home's cupboards - even then without thinking I was preparing for a longer stay there then I expected - paid for it and rushed back out to the Stratum. Piling the groceries into the back, I jumped back inside and turned on the heater, sitting there and chewing on a protein bar and listening to WCTR as I waited for my clothes to dry and the inside of the car to heat up.
"-orting what makes the administration happy," Lianne Forget - who apparently never slept - was saying,"Today's top stories: do trees cause baldness? Is noise the new silent enemy of your family? And a special report on France - one nation's obsession with stand-up toilets. But first, Navy officials are denying that a Hydra plane was stolen from a marine amphibious assault ship recently, despite eyewitness reports to the contrary. Tax payers on the scene are not happy."
"I pay my taxes!" complained some asshole they'd interviewed on the street,"That jet is supposed to be bombing schools!"
"The FBI is investigating possible links between the massacre of Forelli family members and the slaying of the Sindacco family," Lianne went on, already forgetting about the Hydra,"Unconfirmed reports suggest a similar style of execution was used in both hits. An official commented that it could be a wormhole in space". I'm Lianne Forget, WCTR News. Don't turn it off. Trust me."
I turned it off.
Listening to Radio Los Santos now, I started the Stratum up and drove through the thinning rain, mostly thinking about getting home and making up a nice hot meal when my headlights passed over a brother walking up the sidewalk, miserable in the rain but looking healthy and definitely NOT high.
And I knew him.
"Hey?" I asked, pulling up alongside him and rolling down my window,"Curtis?"
He turned and looked at me with a frown, smart enough and old enough to know that a guy pulling up beside him in the middle of the night probably wasn't a good thing. But then he took a closer look at me.
"Shit, Carl Johnson?" he asked,"CJ?"
Curtis was Curtis Dowd, a dude I'd gone to school with before we both dropped out. The only difference was, my grades had been fucking terrible and his had been great, he was smart, popular, athletic and, most surprisingly, a really nice guy. But his Pops had died and he'd had to drop out to get a job and support his family, a real sad story but one we'd all heard before growing up. After a week most people forgot he'd ever been in school at all, and he worked so hard that most of us who hung out with him never saw him no more. He never held no truck with gangs; his Daddy had hammered that into his head, so I hadn't thought of him in years.
"Shit man, get in," I said,"Get the fuck out of the rain."
"I don't know..." he trailed of, recognizing me but years of living in the hood telling him to be careful.
"Come on, nigga," I laughed, pulling the door open,"Get the fuck in!"
He got in and I pulled away, asking him where I was taking him. He gave me the address and I hid a frown, recognizing the area, shitty little apartments stacked on top of each other, a nasty place to live. What was a smart guy like Curtis doing living there?
"So what happened to you?" I asked him,"Ain't seen you since school days, man."
"I heard you ran into some trouble?" Curtis said back, getting around the question,"With Tenpenny?"
"Not as much trouble as he had with me," I grinned, turning off the wipers as the last of the rain faded,"Things aren't going bad for me at all, but what about you man? What's the story? What you doing out in the middle of the night walking through the rain?"
"It's embarrassing," he sighed, and pulled a box out of his jacket. I frowned as I looked over, was that....
"Tampons?" I laughed, surprised,"Oh man, wife or girlfriend?"
"Niece," he sighed,"Her Momma woke me up told me I needed to go get some of these fucking things, apparently she wrecked the fucking sheets. Which means I gotta go buy some new ones tomorrow, which I can't afford and don't have the time to do besides."
I took a closer look at him, he was in good shape but his skin was terrible, he looked like he was ten years older than me.
"Your sister lives with you?" I asked.
"Sisters," he sighed,"Moms died last year, so they came to live with me, none of them have husbands, I live with three sisters and four nieces, one who's a woman herself now. I'd barely been out the house a year when the house moved back in with me.... shit."
"That's tough, man," I admitted, and then some perverse part of me made me keep talking, probably because of what I'd been through with Sweet,"It's a surprise you living where you do, you was always so good at school, smart, y'know?"
"Yeah, well life has a way of getting in the way," he grunted, sounding bitter.
"Yeah but you can get over that," I went on, knowing I should be shutting up but not able to help myself,"I had tough times as well, but things going well for me now. You just gott-"
"No offense, CJ," he interupted,"I appreciate the lift out of the rain, but I didn't sign on to get a lecture about my life."
"OK man, OK," I said, lifting my hands off the wheel for a second,"My bad."
Early morning commute traffic was filling up the streets now, so we sat in silence for a few minutes listening to the radio, and then Curtis spoke up.
"I had to drop out of school to be the man of the house," he said,"Had to work two jobs so my sisters could stay in school and what did they do? They spread they legs and got knocked up by some assholes who disappeared after busting they nut. I missed out on College, hell I missed out on High School! And apart from a few months where I was living alone but half my pay was going back to the family anyway, I've been stuck looking after kids that aren't mine my whole life, so don't give me that I just gotta look on the bright side shit."
"I'm sorry, man," I said,"I didn't mean to offend, I was just saying..."
"What? What were you saying?" he demanded as we pulled up into the horrible tenement block where he lived with seven women, none of whom he was (I hope) fucking.
"I was saying," I shouted, getting angry myself now,"That you ain't the only one that's been dealt a tough hand! My brother died; my Moms was killed because two people I thought were friends turned they backs on my family for drugs; my other brother got tossed in jail on a bullshit charge; I got kicked out of Santos with nothing to my name and put to work for a piece of shit crooked cop and you know what? I fought and clawed and kicked my way clear of all that shit and I came out on top! I came out with money and success and got my life back despite everything in the world being against me!"
Curtis opened the door and stomped out, heading towards his house. I hopped out as well, standing by the car feeling like an asshole but feeling good too, like I'd gotten out some of my bitterness that had been boiling up since Sweet reacted the way he did to my news about our new lives.
"Thanks for the lift and the little speech, CJ," Curtis snapped at me and walked stiff-shouldered towards the door of his horrible little house. I shook my head and went to hop back into the car when suddenly he called out my name.
"What?" I asked, turning to look back at him.
"You didn't ask for help, you didn't get any help, you pulled yourself up by yourself?" he asked.
"....pretty much, yeah," I said, thinking that maybe technically Woozie, Cesar, Truth and Toreno had kind of helped,"What's your point?"
"No one helped you," he said,"But I bet it would have been nice if someone had."
He stepped inside and closed the door behind him, leaving me standing there with my mouth gaping wide open.
I went home and fried up a big breakfast, trying not to think too much about Curtis, about Sweet, about this shitty life I'd left behind.... and whether that was something I should really be proud of.
After my meal, I headed upstairs and showered, seeing that the rain had come back, and it wasn't until I stepped out and dried myself off that I realized that I couldn't wear my dirty clothes anymore... but I had no idea if there was any clothes left in the house for me to wear otherwise. I wrapped the towel around my waist and headed into my old wardrobe, seeing that the junkie had managed to sell nearly all of my clothes.... but what was left had been washed and ironed. I got dressed, looking at myself in the mirror in the old clothes I'd once been so proud to wear, feeling like a fucking phony now. Shaking my head, I headed downstairs, meaning to go over to Sweet's and have it out with him, clear the air so we could REALLY talk about what we was going to do about our lives now.
What I didn't know, was that word had already gotten around that Sweet was back, and somebody else had already taken steps to "welcome" him back to Grove Street.
Sweet started at this.... thing.... that had come into his house, a skeleton in clothes slithering past him when he opened the door, bumping it's painfully exposed hips against his, stick-like arms raising up over it's drawn skull face as it tried to strike a languid pose and in some dim part of Sweet's brain he realized she was making a pathetic attempt at being seductive.
He hadn't slept, spending most of the night tossing and turning in his bed, listening to the thunder and lightning. Unlike some who became institutionalized in prison, Sweet wasn't having trouble coming to terms with being out of a cell, because he was where he knew he was meant to be - home - but the horribly rapid decline of Grove Street and the current state of Santos as a whole was burning at him. Not to mention CJ's apparent indifference to the whole thing. Instead of his homecoming being a celebration, Sweet just felt depressed, depressed and worn down from a lifetime of fighting only to see it all turn to shit the moment his back was turned - what the fuck was the point of trying to prevent Grove Street falling apart if the people he thought were homies had so eagerly embraced their own destruction.
And now here this.... thing.... was.
Sweet could give a shit about what rich men were doing - money hadn't meant anything to him since he'd pulled the heist on C.R.A.S.H and secured himself for life. But then what the crack ho said next caught his attention.
"I know you're gonna enjoy this," she moaned, trying to be arousing and seductive,"It takes the pain away..."
"Oh, yeah?" he asked.
She handed him the crackpipe, and he held it in his hand, staring at what had destroyed so many lives, including his family's..... and finally he'd had enough. He lifted it up to his mouth, raising up a lighter and....
I stared at him, horrified, and he looked back at me with an expression I never thought I'd see in his eyes - defeat - and then it was gone in a flash of anger as he slammed the crackpipe down on the table.
"Man, everything is caine, caine, caine!" he shouted,"Man, I just wanna see what's so good!"
"What's wrong with you, man?" I demanded, then looked over at the crack ho and actually took a surprised step back - she was hideous!
"Man.... this shit, this shit already destroyed the whole 'hood!" shouted Sweet, sounding desperate, angry at himself more than the fact I'd caught him, and then he said it,"I... I might as well let it destroy me, too."
"Man," I said, trying to find the words,"You don't need that shit, sweet."
"What do you know about this?" he demanded, throwing it on me now, then pointed down at the crackpipe,"THIS is what it boils down to now!"
The crack ho spoke up, sounding desperate herself - but it was a different kind. One thing you notice about junkies, they want someone else to share the pain with - they might think they're trying to open your mind to a world of new experiences, but really they want someone else to be as fucked up as them, because it makes THEM feel better.
She stepped forward, pressing herself against him like she had a body that could convince me of anything. Who knew, maybe she was smoking fine once, but those days were long gone, she was a hag, she didn't look like she should be alive. I shoved her aside and she tumbled against the couch.
"Hey, man," I told him, stepping up beside him and putting my arm on his shoulder,"That shit'll steal your heart... you can't see that? This bitch talks nice to you and this is what you do?"
"Aw, fuck this!" shouted Sweet, throwing his hands up, turning around and walking towards the window to look out over Grove Street.... but at least he was walking away from the crackpipe. The ho watched him walking away, looked down at the pipe, then turned a look on me that was part hate, part fear, and part just plain cruel and nasty - like the addiction in her was looking out at me.
"You're going to have to deal with B Dup!" she sneered at me, then stood there, waiting for me to look scared, because to her, B Dup was the scariest thing she could imagine. Her dealer, and probably her pimp, ex-Grove Street OG and a fucking traitor to our families even before Smoke fucked with us.
"What?" I snapped at her,"B DUP? We can handle that shit right now, man!"
She blinked, confused over why I wasn't scared of some piece of shit small time dealer. She looked down at the crackpipe, and I'd had enough of this fucking zombie in my Brother's house.
"Come on," I said to Sweet, leading him out onto the balcony. He took the crackpipe with him, and tossed it as hard as he could down the street.
"Where are we going?" he asked.
"To deal with B-Dup," I said, leading him down through the rain up the street.
"What were you thinking back there, bro?" I asked him, looking around, not wanting to pull up to B-Dup's in the Stratum. I needed something that wouldn't give away trouble was coming when he saw it pull up, the Stratum wouldn't do.
"I'm tired, man, I'm real tired," he sighed,"Tired of putting the work in and still shit don't get better. Tired of seeing my family fall apart."
"Sweet, man, you got more heart than that," I said, spotting what I was looking for and grinning,"Sure things are screwed up now, but we fittin' to turn a corner, man. The day is comin' when the Johnson family will be at the top."
"I hear you, CJ," Sweet said quietly,"You're there for us, I know that."
We walked past Mom's house and up to the driveway by Ryder's old place, and there it was, the old Picador he had been so proud of riding in the back of, like a General riding in triumph. It was perfect.
"I'd like to get my hand on that rat fuck, Ryder," Sweet said, and I was glad to hear he was sounding more like himself.
"You got a long wait," I said,"I killed him."
"You killed him?" asked Sweet, surprised.
"Blew his brains out while he was running from a drug deal that me, Cesar Vialpando and some Chinese Triads broke up in San Fierro," I said,"Before we blew up the crack factory that was pumping drugs into Santos for Smoke and Tenpenny."
"..... shit," whistled Sweet,"Once we're done with B-Dup, maybe you should sit down and tell me all about the shit you've been up to while I was away."
I grinned, pulling the Picador out onto Grove Street.
"It's a long story."
We turned and looked at the tired-eyed junkie, wearing Grove Street colors he looked a little like Sweet had when he was younger, and we both had the same idea at the same time - if I hadn't walked in on time, would Sweet be looking like this right now?
"Where'd he go, dickhead?" demanded Sweet, hauling him up to his feet and slamming him against the wall.
"Yo yo yo," he mumbled, sounding completely fucked up,"You're messing up a cat's colors, dude!"
Sweet let him go and stepped back, staring him up and down, disgusted. The homie suddenly got a slack grin spread over his face as he reached down into his pants, and we knew he wasn't going for his cock.
"Yo, I got summin... a little summin... jus what you need..." he mumbled, and Sweet lost it.
"Sweet, no, you trippin', you trippin', man!" I shouted, deciding to play along and scare the shit out of the junkie dealer,"C'mon, put the gun down!"
Sweet stepped back, lowering the gun and sneering at the junkie,"Shit. He wearing Family colors, that's supposed to make him somebody!"
He started to lift his gun again and I stepped between them, playing "good cop", turning to the junkie and tapping his upper chest.
"Look, fool," I said quietly,"Tell us where B Dup is, and we outta here."
"He... he lives over Glen Park way," the junkie said at last,"His boy always there, give a cat what he needs."
He pulled away from me and hunched over, pulling at his drawers again to get at the drugs, wanting a hit to calm his nerves. I shrugged at Sweet and walked away, and Sweet turned back to look at the junkie until he finally looked back.
"You're lucky," he said simply, then followed after me.
The rain had stopped and the sky was blue when we stepped outside and got back into Ryder's Picador, but I wasn't feeling particularly sunny.
"Oh man, Glen Park!" I said, remembering the last time I'd been there after decoying Tenpenny with the Russians and they drugs.
"Heart of Kilo Trays country," nodded Sweet.
"Fuck it," I said,"I'm down, and that fool had it coming too long."
"We'll take the whole neighborhood apart!" laughed Sweet, coming alive again now that we was getting back into the game,"Johnson Brothers riding again!"
"First things first," I said,"We've got some stuff to pick up."
An hour later we pulled up to Glen Park, a long canvas bag on the seat between me and Sweet, who had his AK tucked alongside his leg. We'd both agreed there was no point trying to get straight to B Dup, because Ballas would be everywhere in this part of town and they'd blow us to pieces before we got near them.
The solution? Take out the Ballas before they knew we was coming.
So we'd come loaded for war.
"You sure about this?" Sweet asked.
"Trust me, Sweet," I said, grabbing out the shotgun,"One thing I've learnt while you was away was how to kill a shitload of people and coming out the other side OK."
"ARE THOSE GROVE STREET CO-" started a fucked up sounding Balla, staggering half cut down the street.
"Yes," I said,"Yes they are."
And all hell broke loose.
There was a lot of Ballas, but they was mostly fucked up on drugs or drunk, they wasn't expecting us and they were too used to having things they own way. Sweet - following my lead - hit them hard and fast. We used cars for cover, while they had to run over wide stretches of road or the park, and while they was shooting wildly we were picking our shots.
I blasted the shotgun dry and tossed it into the front seat of the Picador, pulling out the M4 and swinging it, opening fire with short, sharp bursts into the legs of the Ballas coming running. Sweet meanwhile was crouched down, swinging the AK back and forth like I'd told him, looking for the smart ones - the dangerous ones - Ballas who was coming at low angles and looking for cover. While I took out the dumb fucks coming running at us, he took out the ones who could actually run a risk of hurting us.
Slowly but surely, though, the circle widened in around us. Ballas were coming from all angles now, Sweet and me forced to hide behind cover as more and more shots hit closer to home. The Ballas shouted and whooped out what they was going to do to us, charging in knowing that if we raised up to open fire, we'd be blown to pieces.
Just like planned.
"Now, CJ?" asked Sweet.
"Now," I nodded, grabbing out what else I had tucked into the canvas bag,"Let's do it!"
We stood in the wreckage of the street, cars burning behind us, dead Ballas everywhere on the street, and far in the distance the sound of sirens. If we were going to find B Dup, we had to find him soon, before 5-0 arrived on the scene.
But where was he?
"Check that place over there," said Sweet, slapping my shoulder and pointing over at a house that was very familiar to me. It was the same place that Tenpenny's informant, that Grove Street turncoat, had hidden out the last time I took out the Ballas in Glen Park, and now Ballas were stepping out onto the and looking over the carnage, pointing at us.
And opening fire.
"GET UNDER COVER!" I yelled to Sweet, and I dove down the bank of the park as he dropped behind the hood of the Picador.
"Nigga, what now?" he shouted at me, those sirens getting louder - we had to do this NOW.
"THROW ME THE LAST GUN!" I shouted,"HURRY!"
Sweet reached into the canvas bag inside the Picador and pulled out the gun, stopping to stare shocked at it.
"CJ what the FUCK have you been up to?" he shouted.
"NEVERMIND!" I yelled,"JUST THROW ME THE GUN!"
So he did, tossing it through the air to me so I could make my way under cover towards the house, Ballas trying to get a bead on me or Sweet. I wasn't surprised at Sweet's reaction. After all, it wasn't every day you saw your little brother go crazy with a sniper rifle.
"Jesus, CJ," said Sweet, stepping up beside me. He'd parked the Picador in a driveway, and we stood amongst the dead bodies. The sirens were loud now, but we'd done it in time, we could step into the house and deal with B-Dup, and by the time the police had gotten from one end of Glen Park to the other, we'd be done,"We're gonna have a loooong talk."
"With B-Dup first," I said.
B-Dup had been waiting inside for us, knowing that it was useless trying to hide. When we walked in, he tried to act friendly, like he was glad to see Sweet, but then Sweet was on him, lifting him up into the air and slamming him against the wall, demanding he explain himself.
"Shit came from the boss, homie!" he moaned, near to shitting himself, and even I'd had enough. This motherfucker had sent some nasty-ass crack ho around and almost fucked over my brother, and I remember the way he'd acted when me and Ryder had gone around to see him.
"Pop this motherfucker, man," I said,"I'm tired of hearing his bullshit."
"NO, MAN!" he shouted, sweating and looking about frantically for something, a piece maybe?"I'm sorry, dog - Smoke's fuckin' crazy! He's paranoid - just sits in the house, thinking other fools want his business!"
Yeah, I wonder who.
"Where's Smoke!?" I demanded.
"I can't tell you that," he whined.
"THEN I'LL SNATCH YOUR FUCKING TONGUE OUT!" screamed Sweet, and I believed it... and B-Dup did too, but he couldn't tell us what he didn't know.
"Man, I ain't saying nothing, homie," he explained desperately,"'Cause I don't know! Only his lieutenants know where he's at!"
Sweet tossed him down and drew his piece, and B-Dup was backing up screaming out for someone to get out here, and suddenly I remembered the sorry sight I'd seen last time me and B-Dup crossed paths.
He'd lost alot of weight but he was still a huge motherfucker, huge head and fists and feet, strong as an ox even like this. He stomped in looking around bleary eyed and confused, looking at me and Sweet, then over at B-Dup.
"Kill these motherfuckers," B-Dup ordered, all fronting again now that his boy was here,"And I'll give you a whole quarter sack. Now handle that!"
Bear stepped up between us and B-Dup, looking me and Sweet up and down, B-Dup talking shit from behind him, telling Bear to hurry up and fucking kill us. Bear just stared at us, and then the bleary eyed look disappeared and I realized shit was about to go down.
"Oh, shit!" moaned B-Dup, lying on the floor, looking bewildered,"Man, what the fuck you do that for, man?"
"I'm tired of smoking, I'm tired of crack, and I'm tired of doing your fucking housework!" Bear yelled, then turned to me and Sweet,"CJ, man, c'mon, put me back on the team. Gimme twenty bucks, and I'm all yours, man. Blast from the past!"
I looked over at Sweet, who just walked past us to press his boot against B-Dup's face and slam him back into the ground.
"Hey," I said to Bear,"Let's take a ride, homie - I'm gonna shoot you somewhere you're gonna enjoy."
Sweet looked out the window, the police were gathered around the burnt out cars where most of the fighting had gone down, but no one had come near us yet. We'd hidden the bodies of the Ballas on the stoop behind bushes, as long as no one spoke to the cops, they'd have no reason to come our way. And in an area like this, no one spoke to the police.
I took out my cellphone and put in a call, and 30 minutes later as crime scene investigators were going over the bodies over in the park and the press were only just showing up on the scene, two fine cars pulled up outside. The driver of the first hopped out and got into the passenger seat of the second, and they drove away.
"What are we going to do about him?" I asked, looking at B-Dup.
"He's not worth my time," growled Sweet,"Smoke's the real threat here, this piece of shit is just a cockroach, if he knows what's good for him, he'll leave Santos."
The three of us left B-Dup behind, walking past the bodies on the stoop. Bear hopped into the passenger seat like he'd been told, and Sweet turned to look at me.
"We still gotta have that long talk," he said,"But I'll take Bear to this rehab centre you found first, let him get clean while he checks out white celebrity titties by the pool, eh?"
"I have it on good authority it's the best way to get good," I grinned, thinking about some of the rehab stories Madd Dogg had told us.
"You notice something, man?" he asked,"When Bear came over, he looked at us both, and he pegged you as the man in charge. We gotta talk about that too."
I frowned as Sweet started to hop into the "guaranteed anonymous courtesy car" provided by the centre, but then he stopped and turned to look at me.
"Maybe I didn't make my feelings clear when I first got out," he said, and I wondered if I was in for another rant, until he hit me with another surprise,"It's good to be back, CJ, and it's good to be with you again."
I just smiled, because despite the fact he could be a real pain in the ass, he was still my big brother, and I loved him. It was good to have him back too.