We Are Family
As we left the hotel to set out to Grove Street, I felt incredibly sick. I knew I was nervous, but I wasn't sure about the reason behind my sick feeling. It was most likely to be wondering about the unknown, and that in combination with today's heat was almost unbearable. The plan was that the girls were going to come with me, but wait in the car at the end of Grove Street. As we got into the car, with the air con on full blast, I typed in the zip code for the address into our sat nav. As we drove through Los Santos, I made sure to take in my surroundings. We passed through Conference and Pershing Square which were two very beautiful areas, containing a shopping centre and the police department. In Pershing Square there was a fountain surrounded by benches and small amounts of flower bed, which looked very artistic in this hot weather. There were business men walking around in their suits, talking into their cell phones, and couples sat on the benches on days out. It looked all very harmless and friendly compared to what the girls were saying on the beach. I soon realised that not all of the areas were as nice as those two as we passed Little Mexico. The little area was covered in graffiti and litter. I'm pretty sure we witnessed a drug dealer selling some coke to two prostitutes too; though I tried to put that thought out of my mind as soon as it was processed. Idlewood seemed to be the place to go for a night out, as there was a huge club situated in the middle of it.
"Here we are, Ganton straight ahead." Nicole said keeping her eyes on the road.
I looked ahead of me and I could see a train line that ran parallel to the road and on the sat nav it said that Ganton was just across from there. Ganton looked like a reasonably normal neighbourhood from here, with the odd child playing happily, running across the road with a ball. There were rows of flats that looked a bit worse for wear and some shady characters hanging around outside them smoking. But other than that, it looked like a fairly okay area. As we crossed the train line, there was a Binco shop to the right and I could see a bar called The Green Bottle at the end of the road. Seeing all these normal things in a neighbourhood that had a bad reputation made me think that everything those girls had told us were just a load of rumours. I checked the sat nav once more and I could see that the road we had just driven into was Grove Street, and Nicole stopped the car.
"Right," she started, "This house here is number one, and they go up in odd numbers." At this point Nicole was squinting.
"It must be around that corner." Terri interrupted.
"Yeah I think you're right." Nicole agreed with her. She turned to me, "If you need anything at all you call me straight away. We will be waiting right here."
I took a deep breath and opened the car door. "Okay. Here goes!"
As I stepped out, the heat hit me again. Man it was really stuffy in Los Santos.
I took the piece of paper out of my pocket and stared at it.
As I walked down the pavement towards the point where the road turned, I looked around, taking it all in. The house that was number 5 looked very small, tatty and well dated. There was an old man sitting on the step, looking down at whatever he had in his hands. I could see directly ahead of me were nicer looking houses, which had two floors to them. Still, they weren't the best looking houses in the world. There was a feel to the road that I couldn't quite get. I thought maybe dirty would be the word, but not quite. The grass was overgrown in the yards of the houses that were lucky enough to have a garden, and it was sun-damaged. It didn't exactly look the kindest of neighbourhoods, but I was willing to give it a chance.
As I approached the house I was beginning to feel a little self-conscious. The outfit I'd picked out earlier that day was one that I thought would make a nice impression. Now, I thought that it would say that I was richer, better and classier than whoever I was going to meet at the other side of Number 13's house.
When I reached Number 13, I stopped. I took a long look at the house in front of me. There were four steps leading up to the front porch. The porch itself and the paint work on the house were falling apart a little, the paint beginning to peel. The house was of mainly dark browns and greeny colours, making it look slightly dull. Although it looked rather shabby, it did look homely.
I took a deep breath and let it out. I looked all around me before making my way up the stairs of this strange house. The road seemed pretty deserted. I suppose it was only 11am and the sun was almost at its highest, making the heat almost unbearable.
When I reached the top of the stairs, I decided to knock with my fist, despite their being a door knocker.
As I did so my stomach did back flips and a huge wave of nausea crashed over me. My head was saying Oh my God! Oh my God!
I heard a noise, something like a low bang, from inside the house. This made my butterflies worse as now I knew someone was definitely inside the house.
A sudden surge of excitement washed over me. Why was I being so ridiculous? I was about to meet my biological father! This should be a good day for me.
At that moment, the front door flung open and a man appeared at the door.
"Hi, can I help you miss?" He said looking slightly agitated.
I looked at the man. He was just as dark skinned as I was. I looked at the shape of his eyes, nose and mouth. I almost gasped at the similarity.
He looked at me strangely and then I realised I had been looking at him for what would seem like a long while.
"Oh. I. I mean. Erm." I stuttered, feeling myself flush at my own embarrassment. "I was wondering…"
"Look lady," He said. "Can we get to the point. I'm kinda busy in here."
"Oh sorry!" I rushed. "I'm Kiera Jackson. You don't know me, but you know my mom."
I suddenly felt very foolish and began to regret coming. I sighed and looked down at the floor.
I heard the man shift about on his feet.
"You look familiar. Who did you say your momma was?" He said, looking at me with squinted eyes.
"Deena Eggleston… I mean Jackson. Deena Jackson. Before she got married." I spluttered, looking back up at the man.
I watched his face and waited. I could see that by saying my mother's name, it had triggered a memory. It was a memory that made him smile, but then his face contorted with something similar to pain.
He looked at me, his face questioning. Then something that looked like realisation washed across his face.
He took a step back and looked at me.
"Holy Shit." He said, covering his face with both hands. "How old are you girl?"
"I'm 20. I was born here in Los Santos." I said, looking at him straight in the eyes.
He looked back at me, looking almost sad in his eyes. He turned away from me for a second.
"Could you hold on a second?" He asked me, still turned away.
"Sure." I said without thinking as he closed the door on me.
I had to fight the urge not to cry while he was gone. He seemed to take an age to come back to me, and when he did, he returned with a woman and another man.
"Here, look. I can't believe it man." He said, showing me to the other two.
The woman looked at me contently, smiling the whole time. The other man looked at me for a brief moment and then turned to the man that must have been my father.
"Are you sure man?" The second man asked the first.
"Shit, Sean! Can't you see it?" He looked right at me. "She looks exactly like me."
"I see it, Carl." The woman said, looking from me to my 'father' and back again.
Carl, I thought. My biological father was called Carl.
Suddenly I had a flash back of a conversation from the previous day.
"One of the most powerful members of Grove Street, Los Santos. Carl Johnson."
I tried to shake away that thought, focusing in again at the discussion the three of them were having on the door step.
"Look it was 20 years ago that I was with that woman, I used a fake name and everything! I didn't even know the girl was pregnant! If she had said…" Carl was shouting at the other man who was apparently called Sean.
"You would have still left her Carl because you are a player. End of it." The woman said to him, looking rather annoyed.
"Good point." Sean said to the woman.
"Kendl keep outta this." He spat at her. She didn't seem too fazed though.
"Oh so I'm just supposed to forget the fact that this poor girl on our door step might just be my niece!" She yelled back at him.
I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing. It was enough just to have met my biological father at this random house in Los Santos, but to meet my aunt as well? It was just a little bit whacked out.
"The least you could do is invite the girl to come sit with us." Kendl said to Carl.
"Yeah I suppose." He muttered, and turned to me.
Before now I felt as if I was just watching three random people have an argument, now I was very much part of the interaction.
"Come in." He said to me, indicating the front door with his arm.
We all pilled into the small living room area.
To the left, there was a short wall with some photographs on. One of the photographs was two old people on their wedding day. The woman looked so very happy. The second photo seemed to be the same woman, just older. I wondered who they were and if they were more of my relations.
We moved over to where two worn-out maroon couches were, the two men sat down on the one nearest the window by the television, and me and Kendl sat on the other one.
"So basically you're here because you think I'm your father." Carl said to me and sighed.
I nodded at him, too scared to even talk.
"I know this may sound awful but I didn't even tell yo momma my real name. How the hell did you find me?" He looked puzzled.
I cleared my throat and then spoke.
"My mom told me that her friend had moved in on this road and had seen you going in and out of this house. She said you must have lived here. My momma would have come looking for you when she found out, but she had already moved back home and got married. She had started her new life." I said, then looked down at my lap.
She heard Carl sigh again and shift about in his seat.
"Look Carl," Kendl started. "This girl is quite obviously yours. Look at her! She got yo eyes, nose and mouth. I mean, I don't know your momma girl, but you are the spit of yo father." I looked up at her and she smiled at me.
"Now you mention it there are quite a few similarities, sister." Sean said, sitting forward in his seat.
I could feel Carl's eyes bearing into me. Looking at me. Staring.
"I'm not here to cause trouble. I just wanted to find my father." I said, looking at them all. "I'll go now if you want me too." I started to stand up.
"No, no!" Kendl shouted, tugging at my arm for me to sit back down. "Don't go yet! There's so much we don't know!"
"How about you do a paternity test, bro?" Sean turned to Carl. Carl looked as if this was a very good idea.
"I wouldn't mind that at all. I just want to know." I said to Sean, beginning to think that that would be the best way to convince them all that I was in fact Carl's daughter.
"So it's settled." Kendl said sitting up. "You get a DNA test, and we can find out if you do have a long lost daughter. Not like you can't afford it."
Carl smiled at the last part. "Yeah sure. Might be kinda nice to have a daughter." He turned to me and half-smiled. He looked like he wanted to run a mile but stay at the same time.
This man who may or may not be my father seemed to be a warm character underneath this gangster pretence. I just hoped the rumours weren't true.