After Sweet took Bear away to the rehab center, I headed up into the Vinewood Hills, ordered in some food and changed out of my old gang colors, dumping them into the hamper and changing into something a little more "new" me.
Sweet called me later that night, telling me the Center had a visitor's room for the night he could stay in rather than drive back from the countryside to Santos. We agreed to meet up and have that long talk in a couple of days, and I went to bed satisfied that things were better between us than it had first looked when he first got out.
The next morning I was up early, dressing up real nice, playing the part of the successful businessman for a meeting I was having with our business lawyer later that day, then figured I'd head over to Madd Dogg's Mansion and see how things was progressing.
It turned out, they weren't.
Madd Dogg was sitting watching the TV, and Paul seemed more interested in some kind of stand-off with Maccer in the booth, trying to convince him not to do something.
Hearing me talking to Madd Dogg, Paul turned to say something, and immediately I saw Maccer reach down to his crotch. Paul flipped around in his chair, jumping to his feet and shouting.
"No, Maccer!" he yelled,"Fight the urge!"
It was too late, Maccer was grabbing his junk and getting ready to go, and nothing was going to sto-
Maccer froze up, and his hands dropped to his side. I don't know who this "Thatcher" was, but it had the desired reaction, Maccer looked horrified.
Satisfied that I wasn't going to have to hire somebody to come scrub down the booth, I turned back to Madd Dogg, wondering why he was sitting in here watching television - some shitty entertainment show on the set of a rap video with 'hos grinding away - instead of in the booth cutting rhymes. I asked him why.
"You know it's my time again..." he said, and trailed of.
"I know, dude," I said,"So what's holding you back?"
The host of the entertainment show was in front of the camera now cracking wise with the hos, then he turned and started talking, and Madd Dogg grabbed the remote, putting up the sound.
"Woah, hold up, this his video?" Madd Dogg said, rolling his seat forward,"I gotta see this fool..."
"Hey, man, you clean now," I said, trying to get his attention back,"You got nothing to worry about."
And then the "star" of the rap video appeared on the screen with the host, and I realized just what was causing Madd Dogg's problems.
"-n the set of OG Loc's new video," the host was saying,"Tell us what the secret of your succe-"
"Man, that fake-ass LOC!" shouted Madd Dogg angrily, and I gulped.
"Loc?" I asked,"But he's terrible!"
On-screen, Loc was doing his usual thing bopping all about in place, shirt off to show his "physique", throwing in spoken word versions of rhymes straight from Madd Dogg's stolen rhyme book, just changed slightly to have a more "Loc" flavor. And listening, Madd Dogg's eyes widened, and he turned to me.
Oh shit, please don't tell me he put 2 and 2 together.
"I knew there was something familiar about those rhymes he was kicking!" shouted Madd Dogg, turning back to the TV where Loc was enthusiastically showing off the little Vortex hovercraft he'd be driving across the ocean as part of the music video, which as far as I could tell involved Loc chasing some assholes who stole a diamond encrusted skull from the hood of his car at a beach party.
Who the fuck came up with a retarded idea like that?
"They're from my rhyme book!" shouted Madd Dogg, and I hung my head, remembering how dumb I'd been, stealing the fucking thing thinking I could use Loc to make money - and instead he'd fucked me over, using me to get what he wanted and dumping me, and later on I'd found out he was hooked up with Smoke as his promoter.
"That's my money!" shouted Madd Dogg, jumping to his feet,"And those are my 'hos! And that's my video he's shooting today!"
"Wh.... wha?" said Madd Dogg, surprised. He'd caught me by surprise with Loc, but the more I thought about it, and if Loc was anything like I remembered him, maybe there was a way we could use HIM to get Madd Dogg back in the mainstream.
"Just drop in, unannounced," I said, and saw a little smile creeping up Madd Dogg's dace.
"Yeah," he grinned, slapping hands with me,"That's gangsta."
We headed out, Paul shrugging as we left and turning around.... to see Maccer back in full swing.
Me and Madd Dogg hopped into the BF Injection outside his house, thankful for modern television and the host who had happily told us where they were broadcasting from LIVE!
"Let's drop in on OG Loc," I grinned over at him,"See if we can't interrupt that video shoot and recoup some royalties!"
"And my Rhyme Book!" yelled Madd Dogg, then laughed as we drove up the winding driveway, in a good mood now we was on the move,"We're flying in style, baby! You got all the makings of a great manager, Carl!"
"save it until we're spending Loc's royalties!" I yelled back, even though what I was thinking of achieving today had less to do with taking money from Loc and more from using Loc to make money.
"Any fake-ass idiot can get a record deal these days!" I yelled over the noise of the engine and the open air rushing past us.
"So what am I supposed to do?" he yelled back.
"Dogg, you got heart!" I grinned,"You got natural style! You got ice cold gangstas running through your veins! Anybody can get a record deal, but only the genuine article can shake down the house!"
Madd Dogg laughed, long and deep and happy, slapping me on the shoulder.
"CJ, my man!" he shouted,"You're a natural manager!"
"He's being interviewed, huh?" I said, looking down at the scene of the music video where the entertainment show had packed up and gone, and now Loc was being interviewed by a news channel,"Let's go get some publicity, Dogg."
"Hell yes," nodded Madd Dogg, and we drove down towards the shoot.
Loc was telling the cute but bored reporter about his rough life growing up as a pimp and a hustler on the mean streets of Ganton, making sure to flash the gold chain around his neck at her whenever he could, wondering if she was one of those high class bitches that like to "slum it" and take a deep dicking from a brother so she could brag to her friends. Trouble was she kept asking questions about why he'd only filmed the beach scenes here and the hovercraft scenes would be filmed the next day, all but coming out and asking him if the cool chase scene he'd envisioned was going to be performed by a stuntman, unlike his earlier claim on "Entertaining Los Santos" that he did everything himself because "I'm real, I'm the deal, ain't no faker I'm a soultaker, OG Loc in yo' face gonna put you in yo' place."
"Lissen, girl," he was saying,"I ain't going out on the water today because there are all kinds of chumps looking to gain a rep by trying to pop me - I got people all around the world because I'm a playa, haha yeah, I'm GANGSTA!"
"So you're worried that you could be sh-" she started.
"HELL NO!" he interrupted,"Ain't no one can throw down on Loc, girl, people step to me and I pop a cap in they ass! I'm the real deal! I'm a steal! I pimp and I hustle and I got a lil' russle, front to me and we gonna tussl-"
"SUUUUUUUMBIIIIITCHES!" screamed a voice, and everyone turned in surprise at two distant figures charging towards the shoot.
"Keep filming!" hissed the reporter,"Oh my God, is that.... Madd Dogg?"
"YOU FUCKING PHONIES!" screamed Madd Dogg, Loc's mouth dropping as he spotted Dogg.... and the man beside him,"SUUUUUM BIIIIIITCH! GIMME MY RHYME BOOK! GIMME BACK MY CHAIN! GIMME BACK MY HOES!"
Loc grabbed a pad of paper with scrawlings all over it from off the chair he'd garnered next to the Director's, stuffing it down the back of his pants. He turned to look at the camera which was focused right on him, the reporter looking at him expectantly, waiting to see how he'd react to his fellow rapper "fronting" on him like this.
And Loc did just what anyone who really knew him would have expected.
Madd Dogg and the man in the suit beside him leapt into the other Vortex's and zipped down into the inlet after Loc, leaving behind the reporter and the cameraman.
"Tell me you got that!" she gasped.
"I got it, I got it!" he nodded.
"They were filming the go-kart scene down at the pier," she said,"We have a copter stationed there, and that's where Loc will be going, I'll bet! I'll drive, you film what you can of their chase, and we'll take to the air and film the rest! THIS IS IT, JERRY! THIS IS THE ONE THAT'LL MAKE US!"
It was the greatest day of her life.
It would be the worst of Loc's.
We'd zipped down into the inlet and followed Loc out onto the ocean, thundering under bridge supports and across open water as Loc made for Verona Beach, hoping to lose us in the crowd.
"STAY AWAY FROM ME!" squealed Loc, looking over his shoulder."I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS!"
I actually laughed, that was just like Loc, so wrapped up in his own world where everything revolved around him - he didn't see that he'd done anything wrong, and me showing up with Madd Dogg was ME betraying HIM as far as was concerned. Actually calling him out and confronting him on his shit wasn't fair, how dare I, didn't I know he was "gangsta"?
And even now, while he was terrified and running, he couldn't keep his fucking mouth shut.
I thought he had cornered himself or was going to try something stupid like flying off the end of the pier, but he had a plan, probably thought he was a fucking genius in fact. Skidding the Vortex to a stop, he jumped out of it and straight into a Go-Kart, probably set up for his stupid music video, and zipped up towards the city streets as me and Madd Dogg skidded our Vortex's to a stop and grabbed the other Go-Karts.
"HEY MADD DOGG!" I shouted, as I pressed my expensive suit into the Kart and tugged my hat down hard over my head so I wouldn't lose it.
"Yeah, man?" he shouted back.
"THIS IS FUCKING RIDICULOUS!" I shouted, and we both burst out laughing.
We was still laughing as we chased Loc up onto the streets of Santos.
"JERRY!" shouted Peri Brown over the whomp of the rotors as they swept over the city,"THE NEWSROOM IS GOING TO GO LIVE WITH THIS! GET ME YOUR BEST SHIT!"
"YOU GOT IT!" he shouted back, giving a thumbs up.
All across Los Santos (and not long after across the rest of San Andreas, and later that day across the entire United States) viewers were surprised as the breaking news story hit. Noted "Gangsta" Rapper OG Loc had been confronted on the set of his latest music video by "yesterday's news" Madd Dogg, and rather than stand up to him, Loc had squealed and run. Alone it wasn't enough to warrant more than a passing mention, but with live coverage of the chase across Santos, it was a big story. One celebrity chasing another, and the chance of seeing a live death meant the ratings spiked hugely. People rang their husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, associates, workmates, brothers and sisters all across the city, the state and the country to see the news unfolding, with picture in picture provided by the news programs showing over and over again OG Loc squealing and running from Madd Dogg.
And Peri Brown and her cameraman were there to capture it all.
"WHERE THE FUCK IS HE GOING!?!" I shouted.
"I KNOW THIS AREA!" Madd Dogg shouted back,"BLASTIN' FOOLS RECORDS! THEY USED TO BE MY RECORD COMPANY!"
"GIVE ME FIVE MINUTES IN THERE!" I shouted back,"WE'LL SEE ABOUT MAKING THAT SHIT PRESENT TENSE!"
Just like Madd Dogg had thought, he pulled up at the back of Blastin' Fools Records, jumping out and stumbling through the door. Me and Madd Dogg were only a few seconds behind, and once inside Loc realized he had nowhere to go.
"YOU PHONY!" shouted Madd Dogg as Loc backed up in a panic, pulling the rhyme book out the back of his pants and holding it behind him, looking around for friends, security, a janitor, anything!
"Man, you can't prove nothing!" he moaned.
Maybe not, but I knew JUST how to hurt him.
"Hey, Jeffrey," I said,"You a buster, straight bitch."
I saw his lower lip working, and tears in his eyes, the motherfucker was actually going to cry.
"Man, I'm an artiste! We all make mistakes!" he shouted, gritting his teeth, trying to get his balls back. Suddenly he turned on Madd Dogg,"Ain't that right, alkie?"
"You ain't no artist!" shouted Madd Dogg - who wasn't about to let a weakass burn from a buster like Loc get to him,"You's a buster! You's a fake!"
"Man...." mumbled Loc, backing up closer and closer to the wall, getting more and more nervous,"I was going to give you credit on the next album! Here, royalties! Take that! I got more, too!"
Man this was JUST what Madd Dogg needed - rehab was great, but the best way to confront your demons was to grab them up and threaten to bitchslap them. Loc was full on crying now, and the only way he could have been humiliated worse was if he was to piss his pants.... and then something even worse happened.
"Mr. Dogg, Jimmy Silverman," the new guy said with a grin,"Blastin' Fools Records."
He reached out to shake Dogg's hand, but I stepped between them, putting my hand into his instead.
"Hold up, I'm the manager," I said,"You want to talk, talk to me."
"Oh, okay, pleasure, gentlemen," he said, shaking my hand but looking at Dogg and Loc.
"Now this guy..." he sighed, pointing at Loc,"This phony.... I've got a good mind to sue his ass into next year! You see he's all over the news as a phony wannabe being chased by the real deal? And now I walk in on you and hear that he stole his rhymes? Fuck this guy, he's yesterday's news."
Loc slapped Dogg's hands away to complain, dropping the rhyme book in the process. I was already past Loc, I'd gotten what I needed from him and a good dose of revenge too - some things were worse than death, and Loc was about to experience that.
"Hey, Loc," I said,"Go get us some lunch."
"You get lunch!" he sniffed, reaching down for the rhyme book... and Madd Dogg slapped an arm across his chest.
"Don't be pushing me!" he grumbled, stomping away trying to keep some kind of dignity even if his eyes were red and cheeks wet,"Don't be pushing me!"
He pushed out through the front door.... and straight into a huge crowd of media snapping photos and shoving microphones in his face.
"....truth to claims you stole Madd Dogg's rhyme book....?"
"...iving a lie....?"
"......in jail for unpaid traffic tickets....?"
".....Mr. Loc, is it true that you are, in fact, a 'buster'?"
I laughed as the door swung shut behind the horrified "gangsta" - the best revenge possible, letting the world see Loc for what he really was.
Death would have been kinder.
Madd Dogg picked up his rhyme book and smiled as he leafed through the pages.
"Yeah, I remember that one.... oh yeah, that's tight..... yes..."
"Listen kid," Silverman said to me as Dogg settled down on the couch and happily looked through his rhyme book,"We gotta strike while the iron is hot - Madd Dogg has legitimate street cred AND intense mainstream interest - I can sign him to exactly the same megastar contract he had before his... troubles. But let's do it now so we can hold a press conference, what do you say?"
"Got a fax?" I asked.
"Huh? Yeah, why?" he asked.
"Let's see that contract," I smiled, and he eagerly grabbed out his cellphone and told a secretary to rush one down. When he talked, shit got done, because less than a minute later a pretty girl in a little skirt with a biiiig ass was handing it to him as we all settled down in a conference room with a speakerphone and fax machine. I dialed a number, and Silverman frowned when it was answered.... by my business lawyer."
"What happened to our Four O'Clock, CJ?" he asked.
"Last minute negotiations," I said,"Listen, I'm faxing you over a contract, I want you to read it and get back to me what you think, OK?"
Silverman's frown got deeper as I punched in the fax number, and Madd Dogg didn't look too pleased either.
"Yo, CJ," he said,"If it's the same contract as last time, I made BANK! What's the big deal?"
"Yeah, what's the big deal?" asked Silverman,"Let's sign an-"
He was interrupted by a low laugh coming over the speakerphone, a laugh that got louder and happier as Silverman's frown deepened.
"Oh dear, oh no, no no no," he laughed,"Oh my, CJ, this is just AWFUL! Well, for the talent, anyway, you'd be making "bank" out of it, so would Mr. Silverman over there.... hi Jimmy, how's the kids.... I'll fax you over a rewrite of this terrible piece of junk in five minutes, OK?"
"MotherFUCKER!" snapped Madd Dogg, glaring at Silverman who just shrugged and gave an innocent little smile.
"Just how the business works, kid," he said,"Your last manager didn't mind."
"I'm glad that motherfucker is dead then," he snapped.
I had to admit, for the first time since I'd dumped us both into the water all those months ago, so did I.
Thirty minutes later, Jimmy Silverman and Madd Dogg were giving a press conference announcing the scrapping of OG Loc's record contract and the re-signing of Madd Dogg to Blastin' Fools Records. I slipped out the back - so far I was just "Madd Dogg's Manager" and the media didn't really care about me, and I wanted to keep it that way. This was Madd Dogg's moment anyway, and I felt like I hadn't just made a successful business deal that would make us both alot of money (more than he would have had, less than I could have had), but redeemed myself for the way I'd fucked over his life in the past.
Today had been a good day.