Family

Cakewalk

New Years Eve, 1997

"What a fucking year this will be."

Carl took the beer from his brother, "Happy New Year bro." Sweet raised his green bottle and took a long swig.

"We getting too old for this man...we gonna have to pass the torch sometime."

"Ain't one of your illegitimate kids about?" Sweet laughed and drank some more.

"Very funny asshole."

"Tell you what. How about we run the family from the inside, like businessmen?"

Carl arched his right eyebrow and ran his hand over his hair. "Haven't we been doing that since I got back?"

"Carl, that was five years ago fool. I mean, more from the sidelines, let the homies do the work and we get the pay and the benefits."

"Shit...I've been doing that since I joined."

Sweet laughed again, "You know what? We should do one last job together before we turn pass this torch. Get some personal funding before we get old?"

The younger Johnson brother put the beer down and held his head in his palms. He looked up at the picture of Kendl and his mother.

"Hell, why not? I guess one last hit couldn't hurt."

"Famous last words!"

"As long as it's planned okay Sweet? I don't know whether I actually agree or it's the alcohol."

As the night wore down after the celebrations, Carl lay in bed awake, Denise was stirring in her sleep and he knew the recent financial troubles the family were in weren't helping. By giving the family more breathing space he had put cut off some cash flow. He'd given Wu Zi Mu and the Da Nang Boys San Fierro whilst the Mafia families still fought over Venturas. Los Santos was held by Los Varrios Aztecas and of course, the Grove Street Families in alliance. He finally tried to get to sleep, putting those troubles to the back of his mind.

"Carl, yo Carl. Cesar and Kendl are here, wake up."

He woke up, Denise had gone to work and he felt ill.

"What time is it?" He rubbed his eyes.

"Twelve you lazy bastard."

"Fine, I'll be right down."

Sitting up and pulling open the drawers, he got his old jeans and a green Zip t-shirt out. Carl sluggishly headed downstairs only to be greeted by his niece, Penelope. He lifted her up in the air and held her in one arm.

"Penny!"

"Uncle Carl!"

He smiled at her, "Are you listening to your moms?"

She nodded, "How about your dad?"

"Uhuh." She grinned, missing a couple of teeth, she was only five.

Carl walked into the kitchen with her, "Cesar, how you been man?"

The Hispanic looked away from Sweet to greet him, "You know, little of this, little of that. Putting this little one through school is tough though."

"It won't get easier," he smiled. "Kendl at the front?"

Cesar nodded. "Sure, she's just having a cigarette amigo."

"Cool, Sweet, here you go." Sweet was caught off guard as Carl tried to give him Penny.

"Shi- I mean, shoot, look who we have here?"

As he made his way to the front door, he heard his brother talk to Cesar about the job they had in mind.

Carl sat next to his sister on the doorstep.

"That'll kill you sis."

"I know," Kendl took a drag and blew out the smoke.

"Don't you think you should stop for your daughter?"

"It's stressful enough Carl, what with money and Cesar's new car."

He reached into his pocket and pulled out about two hundred dollars.

"Here, should help out."

She held her hand up, "I know you can barely afford to give me that."

"Course I can, my money's just tied up in other projects. It'll be a'ight."

She sighed and took the money.

"You can't run this gang all your life Carl."

"You tell Cees the same thing?"

"He does other work."

"Like what? Killing drug pushers like us ain't gonna bring the money in."

"I'll have you know he got a job."

Carl looked surprised, "That right?"

"Yeah. He's training to be a truck driver."

"Cesar...is training to drive trucks? Like a redneck motherfucker?"

"It ain't like that. Good hours, shame the pay's a little off."

"Why I gave you the money ain't it? Look, I'm nearing thirty two years old and I act like a teen hanging around with these fools." He pointed to various family members with green on.

Kendl gave a half hearted laugh and took another drag. "Do something about it."

"Sweet and I might have a plan. One last job type of shit."

"Does this involve killing, robbing and generally kicking every shade out of everyone you see?"

"Prob'ly."

"Don't you even dare get Cesar involved, he just acts as figurehead of the Aztecas now, no way is he getting his ass hauled in jail or worse, ending up dead."

Carl shook his head. "Kendl, it's gonna be clean and simple. Promise."

She flicked the butt of the cigarette on to the curb, "The answer is no." Kendl walked back inside as Carl looked at his street. "Pfft," he said to himself, "Grove Street, home."

The next day was quick, Sweet talked Carl through a few ideas. He had even given Cesar a call.

"A'ight guys if we're gonna do this we need some thoughts on getting some green that will set us up for life."

Cesar pitched in first, "I'm interested, but how are we gon' do this if 5-0 gets involved? We get traced back round here, we're all fucked esé."

"Cees is right," Carl said, "If one of us gets caught or worse, they will shut one family down whilst the other struggles to make connections and get merchandise out. How much ground can we recover if the other gang is taken out? New gangs will be looking to capitalise on that shit."

"I have an idea for that," Sweet piqued the interest of both men, "We get the families to cause some disturbance, some low level shit that keeps the cops busy. We might get some heat but we've handled worse."

As they contemplated ideas, Carl pitched an ambitious one.

"Bank job."

"Huh?"

"Bank job, I've done that before, can't believe I'm gonna risk my ass again for a few hundred thousand though."

Cesar rubbed his hands together, his bracelet connecting with skin that made a slight rattle. "We should pick a day the Securicars come to drop off the cash. Take the money and get the hell outta Dodge."

"Good idea Cees." Sweet scribbled on a piece of paper, "We just need to find out when, shouldn't be too hard."

"Scope out the area with the gangs and we can choose a date and time." Carl nodded at Cesar.

"Bank job it is then."

"Guns?" Sweet lowered his tone.

"All we have to give are handguns and tec-9's."

Carl simultaneously told Cesar the same thing.

"Emmet don't have shit and that old man gon' get his comeuppance any day soon."

"Woozie?" Carl exclaimed.

"Shit, you still in contact with that blind fool?" Cesar asked.

"Barely, see him every few months to take our pay from him, five minute conversations to avoid any police that might be watching. He's going grey now though." He grinned.

"Any heavy duty stuff will help. However we can get it." Sweet wrote more down.

"Blueprints as well." Carl said, thinking back.

"Los Santos bank has three floors man, clerks bottom floor, safe floor above, managers office at the top. None of that Venturas bullshit. We going to be in there, hold up some people and leave quietly as we can." Cesar pointed on the coffee table with each two words.

Carl had another idea, "Why don't we just hold the van up? Drive off with the cash?"

"Too open, more people have cellphones and even then we can't be wasting regular folk and cops just to cover our tracks, if we go in we can keep everyone relatively quiet, including the security bringing the money in." Sweet started to look condescendingly at Carl.

"Just thinking of options..."

Sweet looked up from the paper, "We all agree this is the right idea?"

Cesar nodded, "What can go wrong eh esé? I just want to make sure my daughter doesn't end up without a father."

"I will guarantee that, it's gonna be a few months before we can pull this off. Plus, it wouldn't be entertaining without any gunfire," Sweet laughed. "Carl?"

"Huh?"

"You down for this?"

"Yeah man, it's pretty hasty, even for us though."

"Exactly man," the two leaders laughed as Carl got up to get a few beers, wondering how this was about to go down.