Part 11: Behind The Scenes - Characters, Races, and Faking It
"YEEEEEEEEE-HAAAAH!" I screamed.
"YOU MOTHERFUCK....." came from the Ese spiraling off the road as I clipped him and gunned past him.
This shit was fun!
It all started with a call from Cesar, surprising me, figuring he got the number from Kendl... but why he calling me? He all up on me about my ride, telling me how fine it is, making me think he looking to make a move on my car as well as my sister.... and then it come down to what this type of thing always come down to.
"You talking illegal street racing, hell yeah!" I say with a big ass grin on my face, getting what he was meaning straight away, and I was into it. A chance to make money AND drive fast? Maybe I wasn't the best driver in the world, but I enjoyed it, and I was fast... it just the finer details that get to me - like speed limits and lanes and lights and shit. But illegal street racing? Only thing that matter is going faster than the other motherfucker.
"Drop by the spot in El Corona, I'll take you to the meet, vouch for you," Cesar say,"These guys... these guys can be very nervous to new racers, eh."
I had Cesar's address from Kendl but hadn't been around before, like Cesar's car his home be solid but not flashy, maybe a little like the man himself. From what I seen of him, Cesar don't front, he just himself and when he need to raise up... he raises up.
I say hi to Kendl and ask Cesar where we going, what the deal was. He told me to hop in and follow him to the race, saying being with him get me entry, like a ticket... but also warning me the racers don't like losing and they play hardcore, pink slips or hard cash. Well shit, that was fine by me, if they wanted to race hard, I'd race hard with them.
We drove down to Conference of all places, flashy buildings and well dressed people giving us looks as I followed Cesar, until we reached the road leading to Verona beach, and there was people everywhere, chicks in thong bikinis showing plenty of ass, eses hanging in lowriders, giving me the once over then ignoring me, checking out the Savana, liking what they see.
"We drive through Verona Beach to Santa Maria Beach, CJ!" shout Cesar,"Onto the pier! First one there wins, cash from everyone! No cash, you give in your pinkslip!"
"Ain't a problem either way for me," I grin, and Kendl laugh, she heard me boast all my life.
The call went up and a pretty chica stand up between the lead cars, holding her hand up... damn she fine, I wouldn't mi-SHIT! DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE!
These ese do the same shit I do, concentrate on pedal to the metal, forget lanes, forget safety, forget the difference between motherfucking sidewalks and roads... just fucking GO!
"HOLY SHIT CARL WHAT ARE YOU DOOOOOING!" shout Kendl as I gun past her and Cesar.
"WINNING!" I shout, zooming past the Ese in the black Savana, sending him spinning out of control screaming motherfucker at me while I just scream in happiness... motherfucker there is NOTHING like driving really, really, really fucking fast, I can't imagine anything better than this.
Except driving this fast and WINNING!
I heard screaming coming from behind me, heard the grunt of nitrous firing up... heard the crash as the ese lost control of his car, firing up his nitrous in a gut reaction at seeing me pass him, losing control from the extra speed.
"Don't like losing..... it's not your night, eses," I laugh, risking a look behind me and seeing the other cars having to either brake or go around the rolled car. I twisted through Richman and Rodeo with the roads mostly to myself, cars on the other side keeping clear, cars on my side pulling off to the side, leaving wide roads open to me. All I had to do was maintain, not get silly and rush the ride, I had the win, this shit (and their money) was all mine.
I sat back in the seat, big grin on my face, looking up at the brown starfish bar and frill and finding it funny just like I had when I a kid and Moms too me and Brian to the ice cream stall next to it. Savana sat idling, no other cars in sight, and then my phone rang.
"CARL! YOU JUST WON US ALOT OF MOOOOOONEY!" squealed Kendl in my ear, making me have to pull the phone away from my ear,"Everyone pulled out and are blaming Cesar for bringing in a ringer, I been making fun of them for losing to an amateur!"
"Who you calling an amateur!" I say.
"Oh shit Carl you got lucky tonight!" laugh Kendl,"But you made us so much MOOOOONEEYYY!"
I pull my ear away again, shaking my head with a little grin.
"Hey Carl, you a fast driver," say Cesar, coming onto the line, and I could hear Kendl singing in the background, counting the money,"You're all over the road, holmes, but you can go forward, my man, you can do that very well. Kendl will bring your cut over later okay holmes, I give you a call next time they racing, they'll want to beat your ass bad, raise the stakes... you win again, we make a shitload more money."
"MONNNEEEEYYY!" laughed Kendl.
"Money money, yeah yeah," I say with a grin, hanging up the phone. I sat back in the Savana, looking out over the ocean on a night as clear as Los Santos smog could make it, just chilling, relaxing and just at peace with life and myself.... it felt so fucking good to be alive.
Less than a day later, I was in an old man's house, stealing his most precious shit.
What the fuck was Ryder doing?
I'd stepped out of the house dressed up a little warmer than usual, a chill in the air, when I saw something I never thought I see.... Ryder walking around in his backyard before noon.... Ryder NEVER out and about before noon!
"Man, what you doing? digging graves?" I ask him.
"I need a little something before I go deal with things," he say, hopping about like a fucking crab... then suddenly he up and in my face. You gotta watch niggas that get hopped up on shit - Ryder generally just stick with weed, but every so often he mix it up with some other weird shit into a cigar he call "water", so he can smoke that shit out in public. He didn't use shit like speed or crack, fucking hated drug addicts that did, but sometimes "water" made him act a little funky, like now, up in my face telling me about guns.... lots of guns.
"I'm down, let's roll," I say, figuring as hopped up as he is he in no condition to be around "crazy army motherfuckers" and guns.
"Yeah, you always down, homie," he say,"Apart from when you ain't around here."
Not this shit again.
"Nigga, fuck you," I say, shaking my head, no use in getting angry at him... and then he turn around offering me that nasty ass water, asking me if I want a hit even as he start walking away, looking at the holes in the ground, talking to his crazy ass self.
"No man - I'm cool on that, where we going?"
"This till overlooking East Beach," he say, then stop,"Better yet, we better wait until its dark, catch the motherfucker while he in bed!"
"Yeah, I'm feeling that," I agree, hoping that he would get the munchies, chow down on some food, shoot the shit with me and forget all about this crazy ass shit. Anyway, at the moment, he had more important shit on his mind.
We were sitting in his kitchen, talking about shit we pulled back in the day, like convincing Aaliyah Lawrence to let us look up her skirt when the timer on his oven went off.
"What the fuck is that?" I asked.
"Ten, motherfucker, let's roll," he say.
"Huh?" I ask.
"The motherfucking army bastard," he shout,"Come on!"
We stepped outside his place and there was an old Boxville van sitting out there.... where the fuck did that come from?
"Where the fuck did tha-" I start.
"LB, motherfucker!" shouted Ryder,"NOW GET THE FUCK IN!"
He hopped into the passenger seat, meaning I was the one driving again. The gears grinded as I tried to remember what I knew about these old pieces of shit, driving slow, trying to keep us moving up the hill.
"Where is this old motherfucker? Where in hell is he?" Ryder shouted in the seat beside me, sounding fucking furious.
"Relax man, we ain't there," I told him.
"Yeah right Carl, you always right," he say, sounding bitter,"That's my homie, Mister Right."
"Shut up," I say, tired of his bullshit.
"You can't stop me!" he shout.
"Who can't?" I ask.
"Whatever," he say, sounding bored.
"Fucking hell, Ryder," I say, shaking my head. There ain't no reasoning with a pothead.
The Boxville strain its fat ass up the hill overlooking East Beach to a nice looking place, all respectable like, the old bastard who owned obviously rolling in Benjamins. Suddenly I didn't feel so bad about breaking into his place, suddenly I was looking forward to it.
"SHUT UP!" I whisper, pissed, Ryder too excited for his own good.
"He can't stop me, you buster, Carl!" he tell me, then grin and hand me what look like a rubber ski mask, a balaclava,"Okay fool, in you go - I'll keep watch."
"Gee thanks," I say, pulling it over my face and fixing my bandanna,"Just make sure you keep yo' eyes peeled for 5.0."
"Make sure you keep yo' eyes peeled for fuck you," he say back.
"Thanks nigga," I sigh, then moved to the door, giving it a look. As kids growing up in the hood, we learned how to break into places early - you gotta secure your house something fucking like Fort Knox to keep people out... best way was not to have anything worth stealing, until crack hit big and people would break in for a nickel if it get them halfway to being high. Whoever this old fuck was - Ryder say his name was Colonel Fuhrburger but that had to be a joke - had spent up on an expensive lock... and one of them fake rocks to hide his spare key in.... modern fucking army thinking for you. I unlocked the door and stepped in, hoping he wouldn't have no alarm system set up, but he didn't, what he had was better.
He was a fucking lunatic.
Oh what the fuck was this shit? A fucking cannon set up in front of the window? Sandbags? Netting? Gun targets on the fucking walls? And sitting there in crates just all about the place - in the kitchen, the lounge.... crates of guns, well oiled and maintained.... what the fuck was this old fuck planning on pulling with all this shit? Whatever it was, it wouldn't happen anytime soon, this shit was coming home with me and Ryder.
Los Santos Civilian Defence Force? He had that up like a gang banner in his bedroom, along with pictures of naked bitches getting it on. Smacked of Klan shit to me, most of these gunclubs were run by old racists and fat rednecks with confederate bumper stickers. Just made me feel better about taking this shit from him.
I took the last of the crates out and packed them into the back of the Boxville, then whispered out as loud as I could for Ryder, sitting over on the curb keeping lookout.
"Ryder.... Ryder!" I shout in a whisper, but he don't answer, just sit there staring out over the road and the beach.... motherfucker had fallen asleep!
"RYDER!" I try again, still in a whisper, then figured fuck it, we had the crates, and reach in and blast the horn on the Boxville.
"Shit... shit!" he say, sitting up, looking about then getting up to look at me.
We drove on through the city, sky starting to lighten already, Ryder already starting to nod back off.
"Seriously, Ryder man," I say,"You gotta give up them sticks."
"What?" he say, staring at me from behind his sunglasses,"I'll give up the water if you give up being a busta."
"Forget you fool!" I say, shaking my head,"Just glad this shit over with."
"Shit, homie," say Ryder,"You a natural homebreaker, no reason to stop with tonight."
"Rob houses, nah man," I say,"No future in that, too much chance of getting a face full of buckshot... my career as a burglar end tonight."
We drove up to the storage garage and Ryder hit a button, opening the door for me to back us up. We got out and unloaded the Boxville, piling up the crates, then stepped outside, sun starting to shine down, cars filling the streets. Ryder walked up and stuffed the control box for the lock-up into my hand.
"What the fuck is this?"
"LB picking up the crates tonight, this his spare, I don't need it no more," Ryder tell me,"You do. You a natural homie, no use fighting yo' nature."
"I told yo-" I started, but he cut me off.
He just walked away, leaving me holding the remote in my hand, heading on up the street towards a Cluckin' Bell, leaving me to find my own way home.
And to think.
Rob houses? Be a burglar? I wasn't exactly a model citizen but I wasn't some scumbag either - easy for Ryder to tell me this everyday shit, but he wasn't the one going to be robbing people. On the other hand, while I was okay for money, Grove Street Family still needed more cash to finance getting the homies back up to speed to take on Ballas and shit.... maybe I just being selfish not doing it? But shit, be a burglar? It just didn't fit with my idea of who I was as a person, I wasn't "that" guy.
"Unless you plan on sucking my dick, I suggest you get the fuck out the car," I say to the chica sitting in the passenger seat staring at me with big eyes. She scramble out, and I started driving, the remote feeling heavy in my pocket.
A burglar, I thought as I drove home in my stolen car, no way, that wasn't me.
A week later, as I stood in a closet listening to an old white asshole banging the shit out of a fine sista, I was cursing Ryder ever being born.
For two days, every day that I came home that remote for LB's Storage was just sitting on the kitchen table, like it mocking me. I start noticing the way homes be broken into as I driving, windows left open, dog doors and cheap shitty locks on doors and shit. I start noticing a Boxville Van always near an apartment block in Ganton, and thinking about hotwiring it. Finally, one night I figured fuck it and grabbed the remote and headed out to see if the Boxville there at night... and it was... and before I know I cruising the streets, looking for homes, places that look to be empty, places that might have nice shit I can sell off to LB and give to Sweet towards Grove Street Family re-arming.
Plus, I admit it, getting a thrill out of being in peoples homes.
Each night I go into a place, I swear it be the last time. Each night I get home, I look around and wonder how I would like it if someone break into MY place. Each night I say enough is enough... then I look at the money Ryder's slick, ratty friend LB hand over for the shit I grab him, each night I remember how strange and good and fucked up it be to be in someone's house, their home... and each night I go back for more. There no such thing as a victimless crime, I wasn't dumb enough to think there was, and I knew that most everyone's reaction to being robbed would be to feel like they been fiddled with, someone violate them... I wonder how that old bastard Fuhrburger felt when he woke to realize all his shit be taken?
But you get too into something, you get away with it for too long, you start doing stupid shit, taking dumb risks, and that's what happened with me.... and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I had broken into a place early - too early - and was grabbing up a nice TV in the bedroom when I heard a key in the door.
"Well... shit," I say to myself, looking around in a panic... then saw the closet and quickly slipped inside, just as the asshole who'd come home got the door open and stumbled past the bedroom door. Through the slats in the closet, I could see he was an old white guy, had to be 50, 60 years old, but dressed up like he 40 years younger, nasty ass shiny purple shirt, white hair all curled and twirled about, those great big sunglasses only old people and retards wear.... and a fine ass sista on his arm.... what the fuck? For one thing, this place was in Willowfield, the house okay but nothing special, same with the furniture. But this guy obviously had some money - he an old white man with a fine black sista on his arm, of COURSE he had money - so what the fuck he doing here?
"You know the owner of this place, Morty?" the sista ask, unsteady on her feet like "Morty", they obviously been drinking hard, or other shit. Based on what she wearing, she ain't a hooker, but she probably been out at some club high out her mind, and this old bastard picked her up by flashing money or drugs or something.
"You could say that, my dear," grin Morty, creepy old fuck looking right down her top.... damn, I could see why though, even from the closet, sista was FIINE! He pull her into the bedroom and drop her onto the bed, where she lay giggling while he throw his arms wide and turn in a little circle,"I am the owner of this wonderful abode."
"You own this place? You live here?" she asked.
"Oh no I don't live here, and I don't rent it out," grinned Morty, and I notice a little tanline of white white on the white skin on his fingers,"This is my home away from home, a place to bring back little treasures I don't want my wife to know about, like my record collection in the basement-
Shit, I thought, remember that.
-and of course, you, my dear."
"You own two places, huh?" the sista say, and maybe she stoned, but she was impressed too, and that was doing more for Morty than Viagra ever could, you could see it in his pants... that was some nasty ass shit.
"I own lots of places, my darling," say Morty, taking off his shirt and showing a bloated fish belly and saggy mantits, and I had to keep from gagging.
"You must be rich!" she say, all wide eyes with a mind working even through the drugs or alcohol, wondering how to get herself a slice of that pie.
"Not rich darling, smart," he say,"That's better.... you know how I can afford all this?"
He roll his eyes as he say it and throw a sarcastic arm around him, but you could tell he puffing up like a bird, all proud of himself, wanting to show off to impress the fine ass sista pulling off her panties as he took off his pants to show lily-white bony legs with fine white hair covering them - heaven and hell.
"I work for the city, I'm a boring bureaucrat," he say,"I have a nice home with a small mortgage, a nice wife with a larger potbelly and ankles thicker than my neck, a nice couple of kids leeching college money out of me to screw around doing drugs when they should be studying.... and a slew of houses around the city, my "safehouses", places I can be myself or be the person I could never be in public... places I can bring lovely girls like you and fuck their pretty little brains out.... speaking of which...."
"Fuck you, Ryder," I whispered, closing my eyes as he drop his boxers and the girl pretend to be excited, and then he on top of her and... well, shit.... I'll leave you to fill in the nasty, wrinkly, white, sweaty blanks.
Five minutes later, he was done and I knew I wouldn't be able to eat ever again for the rest of my life. He lay beside her and she was all wrapped up with him, wanting to cuddle, just like a woman, not realizing he was done with what he wanted from her.... well, except now he'd had one thing stroked he wanted something else stroked, his ego.
"I first got the idea ten years ago," he said, and when she look confused, he explain,"The safehouses.... I work for the city, just another boring cog in the machinery of Los Santos... ahh, but the thing about being a cog is you get to see how it all works from the inside."
She nodded her head but you could see she didn't understand or really care, but I did, I was interested, standing in this cramped up little closet, wanting to know how he owned a bunch of places around the city without being rich.
"People like to spend money they don't have," Morty tell her,"And then when they can't repay their mortgages, the banks or the city reclaims their homes and kicks them out onto the street. Then they try to resell the house to recoup the cost of a place they've already gotten all their money plus more back from in mortgage repayments... it's all a big scam, but it's the established way of doing things, you can't fight City Hall, as the old saying goes. Here's the thing though, there are more homes than there are people with the money to buy them.... well, at least in "undesirable" high crime areas like this. If a house sits for long enough unsold, it goes up for auction at greatly reduced prices once the city realizes that they can't get any more blood out of the stone. That's where I came in - I have access to papers, records, receipts.... if I'm careful, and don't do anything stupid, I can insert false ownership into the system, for assumed names in accounts that I control. This house belongs to Marvin Pinkerton, for example."
"Who is he, baby?" she asked, running her finger up his old chest, obviously not understanding... but I did, oh shit yes, I did.
"No one, sweetie, he's me, I'm him," grinned Morty,"If anyone ever comes looking, the trail ends at this house, no one can ever track it back to me, the only one who knows he exists is me."
"And me," she giggled, then yawned, a great big one.
"And you," he giggled back, then smiled wider,"Not that it matters much, darling, the drugs I gave you back at the club mean you won't remember any of this tomorrow."
"They will?" she asked.
"Oh yes, you silly little nigger bitch," he smile, nasty old bastard,"It's a shame really, I should have taken the opportunity to screw that tight little black asshole of yours... ahh well, maybe next time."
"Nex.... time...." she say, looking confused and a little scared, and then she was out, leaving him lying there beside her and me in the closet. Morty lay there a little longer, then got up and got dressed, moving into the hall where it was quiet for a little bit till I heard him on the phone, calling a cab for the girl. He came back into the bedroom and dressed her up, weird, acting like a Dad dressing his daughter now rather than a lecherous old fuck that just date raped a girl. He hauled her up and walked her outside, and I slid out of the closet and looked out the window, watching as he piled her into the Gypsy Cab and gave the driver a wad of bills before heading back for the house. I moved out of the bedroom and into the lounge, moving into the wardrobe just off to the side of the main door. Leaving the door open a crack, I watched as he came back into the house, whistling a happy little tune before making another phone call, this one to his wife, putting on a tired old man voice, telling her he had to stay late at the office again tonight, lots of paperwork and shit to do. He hung up and sat down in his chair, popping on the television to a Western.... fucking perfect. I opened the wardrobe door and stepped out, thinking to myself that I'd been an idiot to let Ryder convince me that burglary was something to accept as an everyday thing. I'd been stupid, let myself underestimate myself as usual, forgotten the lesson that Sweet always try to teach me, that banging was a way of defending ourselves and the Family, making it better for all of us, not worse.
And now "Morty" here was going to help me do just that.
You all don't need to see what happened next, but you can probably guess, my burglary days were behind me.... it was time this nigga became a landowner.
I drove down Grove Street feeling good about myself for the first time in a week. Since Ryder set me on the path to burglary, I'd felt excited, yeah, but not good. I hadn't been able to resist going back into peoples houses, but I'd feel guilty.... but not anymore, I'd spent a long night with Morty explaining to him a few things about being a cog in the city's machine... and how machines were made to make shit easier for people.... people like me.
I pulled into the garage and stepped up to Sweet's, but the door was locked, meaning he wasn't in - so probably he was fucking his girl from Temple Drive or over at Smoke's. I figured I'd try Ryder first and if he wasn't home, head over to Smoke's, I wanted to share in the good news, let them know I'd find "safehouses" for the Family to use, stuff that couldn't be traced back to us. Ryder would probably call me a busta, Sweet would tell me I did good and Smoke would try to figure a way to get us even more houses, and make money from them as well.
Ryder's door was open, and I felt a grin on my face, shit, maybe he hadn't meant to, but it was thanks to Ryder this shit was going down the way it was - he deserved to get the good news first. I stepped into his kitchen, and straight away forgot all about the safehouses, because it looked like Ryder was about to blow his up.
Shit, you couldn't leave Ryder alone, he like a fucking child, kill himself without constant supervision. Still, nothing was gonna break my good mood today, noth-
"Morning, boys," said a voice I'd hoped never to hear again.
Well.... shit, there went my morning.