Chapter 14

Trailer Park Blues

The tale went from an imperfect family, viewing the world and its endless opportunities, to a hellish nightmare that stemmed from smoking, physical abuse, and trailer parks. This imperfect family from Detroit came to Stilwater for those endless opportunities. Hank Williams, father of one soon to be two, used to work as a truck mechanic for those who wanted their trash to be sold as a vintage treasure for Flea Markets in Detroit. They worked as a team, Hank, his wife Chelsea and their five year old son, Jessie, fixing trucks and hanging out at Diners until the next paycheck came their way. Hank had been working for a moving agency called Egregian Commons for the past fifteen years; got in the business with nothing but a pregnant girlfriend and a hidden talent.

Very few people in the world possess either a third eye or a sixth sense, but in Hank's case he had a third eye for busted engines in trucks. Jeeves Kellerman, unknown to the Williams clan as the owner of Egregian at the time, was at a gas station with a busted tailpipe and an overheated engine. Hank smelled trouble and like a hungry pit bull, he had the urge to assist the owner in fixing his truck. Fourteen minutes flat using the few tools Hank had in his tool box, Jeeves was floored by what he just did. Not even his own employees were able to fix an overheated engine that fast in over the thirty-six years Egregian Commons was in business.

From that night plus fifteen years of middle class relaxation, one bit of news hit his ear on a phone call from Jeeves. He wasn't making good on his taxes to keep the agency afloat, and the entire business went bankrupt. Hank, Chelsea, and Jessie, along with ten thousand other workers were out of the job in less than a month. With another baby on the way and the Williams clan jobless, Detroit jobs were like diamonds in the rough. If you didn't have connections to the drug underworld or any rich parents, you were forced to resort to baser activities to survive.

Jessie was confused from everything that was going on in their family, but two months before their second child was born, Hank had to make a hard decision. It couldn't have been any worse he thought. That was until that decision led to Stilwater: home of gang violence and not many opportunities to move on up in the world. Homes were expensive and heavily connected to the Carnales, even apartments couldn't be rented due to Chelsea's fear of smelling weed everyday. The only place that had zero control was Elysian Fields: the trailer park.

Two months flashed by his eyes and Hank was already starting to lose it. The smelly people, dogs barking and biting whoever looked at them wrong, their first born getting influenced by the dirty money that was made by trailer trash for drug selling; there were worse places to call home Chelsea told him at one point. However, sheer gratefulness and family meant little to Hank the more and more Elysian refused to give him the chance to make a whole new life for his family. When their second son, Jacob was born that was the sign. Jessie and their mother raised Jacob as Hank managed to get out into the big city and took whatever temporary work he could find: mechanical work, busboy, but with each job he took, the influence of alcohol took on form.

The inner city did not shy away from their drinking parties and gang members' brown bagging their cognac on hand. Job searching turned to drinking, drinking turned to smoking cigarettes, and a couple years living in Elysian, his svelte body as well as his special talent withered away. It drove him insane. He had a gift he perfected for fifteen years and all of a sudden gone in a few measly beer bottles. In his defeated mind, each bottle he downed told a story, showing bootlegged images of his life going down the shitter with no way in coming back. When Jessie was seven and Jacob was two, staring at their soiled, run down faces Chelsea couldn't take it anymore.

Hank's "captivating" tale took him straight back to the Williams homestead where he found himself in a heated argument with the love of his life. Hank went spiraling further when things turned violent between them. Jessie barricaded his room so he could protect Jacob from what was happening with their parents. They yelled so loud their entire trailer was vibrating and clanging, caused their numbers to stumble out into the open to see what all the fuss was about. If that wasn't terrifying enough in young Jacob's eyes, the yelling turned physical, and pretty soon their parents fought in front of the entire park like two wilder beasts fighting over a piece of meat.

Jessie being the eldest of the two brothers, he felt an obligation to go outside and put a stop to the madness before it had gotten any worse. But when he took one last gander outside and saw blackness in his dad's eyes, he stepped away from the window and tripped over an old toy, landing hard on his back soon after. Jacob's painful cry must've did something Jessie thought; cops don't usually travel in Elysian's circles. The end of that night had their mother limping towards them with broken hearts all around. Hank taken to jail by force for drunken assault. Life didn't always deal people a fair hand; some lives go on in harmony while others were left alone in the darkness of a demented society. Their mother was the only good thing left that kept them together in Elysian.

A month after the assault, weeks of court time and sentencing, Jessie came home from playing basketball with a few neighborhood kids and found out she took off without a saying goodbye. Jessie couldn't comprehend the emotions going on in his head. Questions like, "How did we get here?" and "What did we do to deserve this crap?" came to mind. Luckily, their neighbors Tammy Anne and Ewan were nice enough to take them in and raise them the best they could. There wasn't a whole lot they could do with two other mouths to feed; normally they were dumpster divers to keep their bellies from growling. Three years had passed since their parents went their separate ways, and before Jessie and Jacob knew it their father was back at home on welfare.

Tammy and Ewan did their best to keep the boys away from a pathetic deadbeat who spent money on the same crap that caused his family to fall apart in the first place. It had even gone to the point where any skills he had, whether it was fixing car parts or just taking a stroll around the fields, was reduced to nothing but a declared dictatorship at war with the dumpster divers with not much fighting strength. Hank went from family man mechanic to influential trailer king in the eyes of the remedial types. He used what money he was getting on welfare to supply booze and smokes to kids in the neighborhood if they were to bring his two sons back to him. They weren't fighters themselves, but with Jessie's brotherly instincts and blending into backgrounds, they were able to elude their father's reach and almost reached the exit of the trailer parks before getting pushed back in their own squalor.

Jessie couldn't explain it, and neither did Jacob at age five. For some odd reason, leaving Elysian would have made them look weak and their father would continue corrupting more feeble minded kids to do his dirty work. On a brisk, Friday night when everybody in Elysian was either getting high or staying indoors, Jessie and Jacob hid themselves in a beaten down trash lot where they planned for what the rest of their lives were going to be. "We ain't gonna take this anymore, baby brother. We can't leave the fields until we know for sure we can. I know I'm being hollow as a hotdog bun; just making this up as I go.

All I know is we do what we gotta to prepare ourselves to take him out for good. Tammy and her husband aren't gonna be 'round forever. Soon it'll be just us against him." Jessie was right about one thing; they loved their mother more than life itself. Her emerald eyes soothed the physical labor Jessie and Hank used to do for Egregian, now all he saw was dark shades of grey. The path he led until the brothers made it to their teens was not something they would have found themselves doing growing up, but at the very most they were alive. As fate with its cruel sense of humor, at age 15 Jessie was rolling with a group of thieves and selling drugs around the fields in order to draw his father out.

When he got bored, he thought bigger. He established connections from his home all the way to downtown and some parts of Kiado Valley, branching into petty thefts like pick pocketing and breaking into Friendly Fire for protection from any street gangs getting in his way. Jessie was living the outlaw life with a few of his drug dealing friends. However, while they celebrated their efforts on an easy payday, Jessie sat idly by to figure out his next move. At least he knew Jacob had a somewhat clear vision of how he was biding his time avoiding his father.

At age 11, Jacob was out with Ewan one morning working on his Betsy car when nothing seemed to be going the way it was supposed to. The spare engines weren't working; the brakes they found at the junkyard didn't match Ewan's foot size. What was the deal Ewan asked himself wiping the sweat off his forehead? Jacob took a more intimate look at Ole Betsy and that's when it clicked; something only his father would know back in Detroit. He took a jog back to the junkyard to find some supplies to make a new spark plug. When he came back and put it together, the car ran as if she was brand new.

Ewan was floored by how Jacob knew something that went far over his head, yet so simple was missing. It was a feeling that made his heart burst with untapped potential that at one point Jessie would inherit. The two brothers ventured on their set paths as more kids in the trailer park were starting to gain courage to stand against Hank and his so-called natural order of things. As their car fixing and drug dealing grew, the more pissed off and nervous Hank became. But for some reason he didn't hate them for forgetting their own father, but that they were able to move on from what happened to their family in such a short time. He was starting to feel proud of his two sons for making something of themselves.

Jacob spent his weekends hanging around various garages around the city, learning about different cars and how their insides looked. He took cues from the works of Donnie, Lorenzo's foreign motors, Rim Jobs instruction manuals; he became intrigued of the auto-body like a neurosurgeon is fascinated by the human brain. Days became months, and within those months too much of a good thing began something not so good. Jacob was starting to worry about Jessie's safety. He hadn't been home for four weeks, and that alone wasn't cause for panic.

Rumors around the trailer park spoke of Saints Row escalating their fight on the Carnales, the Westside Rollerz, and the Vice Kings. The Carnales especially were on the losing side ever since Hector had a heart attack and was forced to step down to recoup. One Thursday afternoon, Jacob woke up on his springy bed on the floor next to Tammy and Ewan's. The sandman must have loved him last night he thought; the love just kept on giving when he heard a western like, surly voice calling out to him.

"Jacob, get your ass outta that trailer! We got work to do!" Ewan called out.

He looked at his watch and noticed it was fairly early in the morning still. He stepped outside his trailer wearing baggy jeans and a wife beater stained with coffee as he ran over to help Ewan load up his pickup truck with old computer parts and a grimy generator, hoping to get some spare cash to get a better satellite dish for their TV.

"This is the fifth fucking time this month I had to verbally drag your ass outta bed." He said picking up old computer monitors. "What's gotten into you, boy?"

"It's only ten in the morning." Jacob said.

"Your watch must be broken. By the direction of the sun, it's 1:16 in the P.M."

"Shit, sorry sir I…I'll try to be more aware of my sleep patterns." He replied putting garbage bags of broken keyboards onto the truck.

"Hey, we had an agreement between you and Jessie. And seeing how he's nowhere to be found I'll tell you; we take care of our own, but if you can't do a hard day's work I see no reason to keep either one of y'all."

"I know. I'll be more careful next time, promise. Where's Tammy?"

"She's dumpster diving for lunch. Maybe if you hurry up she might let you have that special custard little critters steer clear from."

"What happened to the Freckle Bitches burgers I brought back yesterday?"

"Jake, you know how Tammy's stomach is. If it's made by some meat byproduct, she won't eat it." He expressed as they got in the truck. "I'm proud of you hitting the mother-load though. Much appreciated."

"It wasn't really a "mother-load". Da-I mean Ewan, I need to tell you something."

Everybody's got a secret they'd like to get out of the open before it makes them sick. Of the two Williams brothers, Jessie was the most secretive in terms of whereabouts and how he conducted drug deals. Like the Stilwater drug mule, Jessie too had a nest in a one room apartment in Ezpata. He was sleeping off the close call he and a few of his partners had with a Carnales patrol. They were dropping like flies from the Saints at the time, but that didn't stop them from doing standard procedure in their neighborhoods.

As he slept half naked on a pull out couch, he heard his door getting knocked like a cannon being fired which nearly sent him flying out of his bed. Hangover or not, his head was pounding something terrible with each step he took to get to the door. He leaned against the wall and said, "Who is it?" It turned out to be one of his partners on the other end.

"You look like shit." Greer said to him.

Looking at his watch, Jessie said, "You're three hours late…"

"Sorry man got preoccupied." He replied showing a sleazy number holding onto his right arm. "Say hello to J. Will."

"Don't fucking call me that. You got my cut?"

"We did well this month." He said giving him a red envelope.

"Wait here. I need you to take over my afternoon post at Kiado Valley. Sellers are gonna be pissed."

Closing the door behind him, Jessie went over to pick up a suitcase filled with amphetamines, heroine bags, and some jewels he lifted from an On Thin Ice store in Tidal Spring. He handed him the bag which led to more concern.

"This isn't a day's sell. It's an entire week!" Greer told him.

"Your point…?"

"Are you sure you're okay? We made a lot of money last month. Some of our customers don't mind a delay."

"Have you been living under those caverns near the beach? The Carnales are onto us, man. One of their patrols caught me dealing on their property. I can't risk them taking the product."

"Fuck…alright I understand." He said still looking at a hung over prostitute. "Are you looking for some overtime, sweetheart? Get out of here!"

"Now that's not nice." Jessie said looking at her collapsed on the ground. "Hey, thanks for looking out, Greer. Tell the other guys to stay low. We'll get back to it tomorrow."

Greer turned around after looking at the prostitute with a tired look on his face. All of a sudden, he called out Jessie's name and reminded him of a business meeting with their boss, Benson. Jessie mentally kicked himself for nearly forgetting the most important meeting of their so-called thief guild. During this time, the Vice Kings were being dispatched by the cops after one of their own snitched on them for kidnapping. Dealers and big move makers were coming out of the dark and started taking over previously controlled territories, and Prawn Court was Benson's intended network of distribution.

The meeting was going to go down in one of the old VK crack houses on Frostworth Street. Feeling stupid about a meeting being talked about for months, Jessie closed the door in front of him and went to go get ready. Another thought struck him as he held the red envelope in his hand; $19,300 in cash. When it came to working for Benson, he inspired everyone working for him to break and enter top of the line stores and drug fronts, take their product by any means necessary, and establish a percentage that would eventually equate a good take on everyone's part. Jessie's specialty was breaking and entering, inheriting his dear old dad's eye for detail when it came to lifting jewels and limo car keys.

He took the money over to the pull out couch as he pushed it away from a pressure point in the floor. It was on the ground floor in the apartment complex so it was easy to store things with minimum security. Opening it up, he saw his old Detroit baseball duffel bag filled with cuts of past takes. He tallied how much he had in total and in his mind he almost had enough to start a whole new life. High numbers when it came to cash provided little to no shock value to him, but what he did feel was hope that the new life he was going to start was going to bring the Williams brothers back from despair and survival.

"Soon, baby brother, soon we'll be far away from our father for good." He said to himself as he put in the rest of the money in the bag, closing up the pressure point soon after.

On their way back from selling old computer parts for peanuts, Jacob and Ewan made their way to the southern part of Elysian where dumped food was still fresh and not rotting in the sun. However the only thing that stole away Ewan's appetite was Jacob not coming clean about how he was making money on the side, and secretly taking care of him and Tammy with fast food and clean bed sheets. For the past six weeks, Jacob was putting together an explanation in his head on how to tell them he was fixing up another car for off-road racing on the northern side of the fields. The dirt hills there were high and broken down trailers were used as obstacles. Ewan couldn't understand half of it, but it sure explained a few things like the distant noises he would hear while he was sleeping. Not to mention the late nights Jacob was having a hard time waking up from. Little by little, it was starting to make sense.

"I know I shoulda told you and Tam awhile back. I know how proud you two can be." Jacob said.

"Listen son, I ain't mad. I'm just shocked you couldn't come to me with this bit of news. Look, you have a gift for seeing the dings and dongs of cars and the ding-dongs who drive them. I just want you to be careful."

"There's something else you should know too. I've been headin' into town, watching the street races to get a better understanding of how it's done. There's a lot of money to be made there. The uh…Westside Rollerz were around but don't worry, they didn't see my face."

"Now you're hanging out with city folk as the Rollerz run people off the road, putting yourself at risk?! That's pretty goddamn stupid."

"With all due respect sir, I kinda like the city; way more exciting than Elysian if you ask me. I'm just saying with my gift I can become a mechanic or something. Be somebody, you know?"

"But you are somebody, Jake. You're my responsibility. That's why we moved from Banaky's Den to get away from your dad. He still intends to get you back in his life. If you ain't careful…"

Jacob interrupted and said, "All the more reason to leave this place. My dad's not going anywhere with the way he drinks. He's probably passed out by now."

"I just don't want you to end up like your brother, Jessie. We haven't seen his hide in months. God knows where he's been."

"He's a survivor like us. He made some dumb choices 'fore he left us, but he has the gift too. If anything, he's probably found himself a place by now. I'm just trying to find my place in the world."

It was a lot to take in. Ewan was the kind of guy who accepted the world as it was, not as he wanted it to be. Hearing Jacob branching away from the trailer park was something he wasn't quite ready to accept; it took him back to his past a bit, to who he used to be before adapting to the more simpler life in Elysian. Stilwater as a city chooses who inhabits it and who gets thrown on their ass in the outskirts. For people like Ewan, he was the latter. Elysian Fields was basically the place middle class and successful people go to die, either by their own actions or other means.

When he took Jacob and Jessie in, he used to tell them bedtime stories about his life as a lizard breeder in Arizona. He bred Mediterranean Geckos, Zebra tailed lizards, Iguanas, even had a pet chameleon named Gilbert at one point. He sheepishly admitted he used to be at one with nature before that became a permanent pastime. Going to school at Arizona State, he studied the anatomy behind amphibians and what makes them so interesting. It was three days before finals when his grandmother had late stage dementia; suffice it to say he missed his chance getting a Bachelor's Degree in lizard studies and anatomy to go be with her last days.

He didn't remember much after that. He went to a bar in Carefree and the next thing he knew he woke up on a bus with $3.11 in his pocket, going to Michigan. He was dazed and confused; stumbling around a city he did not fully understand. In his mind, Stilwater left an "I'm not in Kansas anymore" kind of vibe. Only in his case, it was Arizona.

On their way back home, they stopped in the south side of the parks to meet up with Tammy to see what tasty treats she found. The hot sun beat on her head; Ewan called out to her but she was blind as a bat. That was another character trait about him; caring for damaged people. Tammy was born blind, got exiled to Elysian for reasons he chose not to ask. Knowing their history, seeing Tam as a sweet blind woman who took care of them, Jacob owed it to them to have them check out an old car he had been working with a few trailer kids. That was another problem though he thought; the garage he had been tinkering in was close to Banaky's Den. Before leaving the south side, Jacob grabbed a crowbar and two rusty steel pipes for Ewan and Tammy for protection.

"Did you find anything good out there, darling?" Ewan asked her.

"I think y'all are gon' like what's for dessert tonight…" She said in a happy melody. "I found some half eaten lemon pie still in the tin!"

"That's awesome, Tammy. Jake, you think she struck gold this time?"

"I think so." He replied with optimism. "Your nose always finds the best food."

"That's what's great about being blind. Your other senses give you a goddamn headache. But it's better than those freckled hamburgers you used to find. No offense. It's odd though. I don't recall being a vegetarian."

"Their burgers are an acquired taste. In another life, I used to frequent in Charred Hard Burgers over at the Boardwalk. I do miss those chocolate chip pies of theirs. Shit…" Ewan replied.

"Maybe they should add steak sauce to the ingredients. Everythang tastes better with steak sauce." She smiled before showing concern to Jacob. "You okay, honey? You feel distant."

Jacob took a deep breath with Ewan giving him a confirming look and said, "Guys, there's something I wanna show you. It'll explain the fast food and the clean sheets the past few weeks."

When it comes to the thieving business, nothing in that line of work was clean. Since the Carnales gang was slowly losing ground in the drug trade against Saints Row, dealers and score takers started coming out of the woodwork and claiming any lost product in the crossfire. Benson formed a tight group along with Greer, Randall, Joshua, Kyle, and Jessie, taking on big scores on expensive businesses. Jewels, marijuana, uncut cocaine, lost documents from Legal Lee, anything that looked quality material was fair game to them. To the rest of the city, Benson had an inside source at Channel 6 News to play their group as a Community Relief Effort; to clean up the damage any gang members leave behind.

Everybody knew where they stood in the group; never took sides or showed cause for betrayal. This was because the Carnales had a lot of expensive items just waiting to be raided at their Lopez Mansion. On the way to the meeting, Jessie almost forgot the next few days were going to be crunch time to go for the biggest take of all: the white gold emerald necklace. The thought of how much it would sell, splitting it six ways plus any other items they found…it almost made Jessie ram his pickup truck into another car. He made a sharp right turn at the last second and kept heading towards the crack house.

The Saints didn't waste any time turning an ex-V.K. hangout into a bigger shithole than it already was. With a little elbow grease and teamwork, they turned the crack house into a club house of sorts for them to stretch their legs and hide out from the cops. When Jessie got out of the truck, the place was quiet; only other people that arrived were Greer and Randall. Greer was the point man of the group, scoping out areas while Randall was a getaway driver. The moment he saw Randall however, he felt angry but kept his cool until he got to the root of the matter.

"Where Benson at; I'm starving." Randall asked getting off his Estrada motorcycle.

"Do you think he's going to share his food after you stole his hot dog last week?" Greer asked him.

"They were given 'em shits out like hot cupcakes, man. I bought him another."

"Where were ya last night, Randy? I was handling a drop off in the Valley when a Carnales patrol car spotted me." Jessie said.

"That explains why you looked shit faced earlier." Greer said.

"Now hold on a minute. The fucking 5-0 had a bead on me too. I had to draw them away. Okay, it was stupid of me not consulting the master thief of the group first."

"Cut the wise ass, Randy." Jessie replied before pausing himself. "I'm not even that great lifting the best stuff. Remember the Taiwanese dining set?"

"Oh, not this again…" Greer said.

"I had the getaway vehicle stored exactly where ya told me. Not my fault you and Kyle were slow as hell gettin' to me."

"Ha, I thought Mr. Wong was going to have both your balls on chopsticks that night." Greer chimed.

A few minutes after they arrived, that was when Joshua pulled up to the crack house. In the group, he was known as the "Bond Distraction", mostly because if they were planning on stealing something valuable at a formal affair, he'd have a tux at the ready. He met up with the other guys to see what all the fuss was about.

"Come on, guys! Daddy wouldn't want us fighting like little bitches out here." Joshua said.

"Easy for you to say; where is Kyle?" Jessie asked.

Giving a big sigh, he said, "He got picked up again."

"Tee 'N' Ay…?" Greer asked.

"Man, I told him not to go for the ass grab on Selina. Girl got an arm on her." Randall said.

"Which means one of us is gonna have to bail him out again." Joshua reminded everyone.

Jessie intervened, "No. Kyle's cool and all, but he doesn't know when to keep his hands to himself. How many times do we have to bail his ass outta jail? I'm just saying, guys. A few nights in jail would keep him out of trouble."

"Shit, once we have that necklace the Lopez brothers have, we'll have more than enough to bail him out 24 times over." Greer said.

"Benson's not gonna like this." Randall said.

Everybody walked inside the crack house, calling Benson's name as Randall said he wanted to get "crackin'" on their next big score. "That was awful." Jessie told him, followed by the others who got the pun too late. Their nest had a man cave vibe to it: bruskies, air hockey table, bean bags, and an open area where they planned their scores around the city. On a normal day, it would have air conditioning, but not this time.

Something was foul in the air everyone thought; the crack house was stuffy, warm like the inside of an oven heating up a roast. They kept calling out Benson's name, but no snarky answer came back to welcome them. Jessie walked upstairs where the Vice Kings use to make dime bags and did some side deals on the street. By the time he walked up to the last step, he clenched both his nose and mouth at the site of his boss hung in chains with his arms and legs missing. The smell of rotted flesh and maggots going at his torso made him hurled up something he ate back in the trailer park.

Greer heard a thump and went upstairs to see what was happening. They became numb to the sight of the gruesome end Benson met. "Jesus fuckin shit!" Randall yelled. All of a sudden, Greer and Jessie combined their stomach strength going towards the maggot infested corpse to grab a note attached to one of four garbage bags circling around it. They skedaddled away before anymore parts of him came off.

"Someone's gonna pay for this!" Randall said.

"We've been nothing but discreet, man. What sick fuck would do this?" Joshua asked trying to compose himself.

"J, what does the note say?" Greer said.

"Nice things can cost an arm and a leg…what does that even mean?"

"The writing's on the wall, gentlemen." Another voice spoke coming up the stairs behind them. "Damn it, I knew I should've opened a window or something."

Jessie and the group pulled out pocket knives and a .38 snub as they saw a stocky, violent individual with a client list that went from Downtown to Copperton. He was a loan shark with a specific way of doing business with an even more specific form of punishment if clients didn't pay on time. They came to know him as Davey Hoss.

"Fuck me…the loan shark of Stilwater." Joshua said in shock.

"You know this guy?!" Greer asked him.

"Josh and Benson used to stop by the tavern for a late night lager." Davey said making it to the top of the stairs and walking slowly towards the group. "Let's slice the bullshit pleasantries and get right to it. $69,000 was stripped from one of my loans over six months ago. I knew Benson was a flaky bastard, but draining money after we had a strong business partnership? Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, not very smart."

"The boss never mentioned you." Greer said.

"We never even did business with you." Jessie said.

"He never told any of you?" Davey asked while looking at Joshua with a smirk on his face. "Alright, here's what's going to happen. I would like to speak to the top thief of this little circle jerk plus Joshua, and another member who would betray you guys in a pinch. I understand you're a man short."

"Kyle." Randall whispered to himself.

Jessie wasn't the type of kid to take threats lightly. He stood up and stepped forward for the group and spoke out to Davey on how much he didn't appreciate intruders coming into their nest. After a few choice words were exchanged, the group save for Joshua started to get a bit confident in telling off Davey as well, threatening if he didn't take Benson off the chains they were going to put him in his place. It didn't take long for Davey to counteract their hollow threats when he had a cell phone held up high for everyone to see, saying if he didn't get any cooperation from Benson's puppy dogs, he would press one button before any of them had the chance to scratch the earwax from their ears. "You're bluffing." Jessie called him out.

"You wanna find out what satan looks like? Just say the word and I'll let him know you're coming." Davey replied with insistent promise. Jessie took a second to think over his options; the guys were sweating profusely and he had his own personal endeavor to keep. That was when he told Joshua to stay behind and the others to wait downstairs.

"What, that's it? We're not gonna stand our ground with this douchebag?" Joshua asked frantically as the other guys gave Davey the room.

"You don't have anything to hide right? Let's just get this over with…" Jessie said wiping sweat off his forehead.

Davey put two steel chairs in front of him and kicked them towards Jessie and Josh, telling them to have a seat by Benson's corpse. Joshua looked like he was about to hurl, but in Jessie's case he was more annoyed than queasy. Davey then asked about Kyle's phone number being the third wheel in the loan scandal. Being a fearsome loan shark, he took care of over 3,100 clients in total, made connections to people who didn't give a shit on what street gangs might do to them. It turned out when he called Stilwater PD he had four cops in debt trying to pay Hoss by other means.

"Hey, it's me. You got him propped up?" Davey asked on the phone.

"He's ready to talk." A cop said on the other line.

"Wait, wait what going on? What are the cops doing to Kyle?" Jessie demanded.

"You want to know the real reason, ask the man sitting to your right." Davey told him.

"Man to my…Joshua?"

"He gave you the Tee 'N' Ay story, didn't he? One of my cop buddies had Joshua and Kyle tailed for half a block the other night. They shared some interesting secrets."

"You son of a bitch, I don't have to sit here and listen…"

Joshua pulled out his .38 and at the exact same time, Jessie witnessed a fallen ally collapsing on the ground with a hole in his head the size of a ping pong ball. Blood spattered the right side of Jessie's face as his body went cold and shaking. He then turned his eyes back to Davey as he was talking to the cops on the other line, or whoever the hell they were he thought. Jessie became a thief and a recreational drug user since he left Jacob when he was 13. In that two year time span, he thought he saw everything there was to know about peer pressure, learning the ropes from Benson, and seeing turf wars going on for blocks between two street gangs.

What he saw in the crack house was on a whole other level. Killing somebody in cold blood even if it was self-defense in Davey's mind made Jessie's annoyance turned into an empty feel in the pit of his stomach. He'd never seen a dead body up close before. His heart was racing faster by the time Davey got off the phone.

"Thanks, George. Hey remember, college tuition for your son first, blowjob second." Davey said before hanging up. He looked up at Jessie and said, "George Goldenthal. Good man, single dad, if not much of a socialite these days. Unless he's getting his pole sucked at Tee 'N' Ay."

"You killed my friend." Jessie said in a shocked tone.

"And I killed mine. Let me explain something to you. There's no such thing as honor among thieves. You can laugh at each other's jokes, split the take with a partner, but in the end one bad apple is going to stink up a storm. That's when you realize who your true friends are. Benson was a good friend, but he embezzled from me and didn't pay up. I take my loans very seriously, Jessie."

"He never…then why did you…"

"Kill Joshua; he and Kyle were apparently fed up with you guys scoring big on your takes and them not so much. Benson was a cheap bastard. If anything, he probably never wasted a cent on the loan. Guess I'll never find out." Davey explained, tossing a suitcase in front of Jessie's feet. "What you see is called "redemption". In approximately 40 seconds, the cops are going to show up. You'll go to jail with breaking and entering, possession, and distribution. Tally up the counts and you get 25 years. You have two choices: Take what's inside and meet me at the address stamped in the case, or throw your life away forever."

Inside the case had the $69,000 Benson supposedly owed Hoss as a way of giving Jessie a chance to earn every scent not paid on time. The entire time he was hearing his options, he wondered what happened to Greer and Randall, but for some strange reason, he wanted to know why Davey didn't shoot him too. "You didn't do anything wrong." He put it plainly. Hoss was also the kind of person who doesn't kill just anyone that didn't have it coming. As far as Jessie knew, he was merely meeting him for the first time and didn't how the situation was going to turn out.

Maybe he didn't have to pawn off the emerald necklace he thought, looking at the cash. He put all his weight on his left leg standing up as he turned around and got Davey's attention. When he saw Jessie's hand extending out for a handshake, Davey gave him a relieving smile as he was about to return the favor. Suddenly, he stabbed him in his right rib cage and took the money as he hauled ass out of the second level window of the crack house. Jumping out of a glass window with a broken arm to break his fall wasn't what he had in mind. He heard sirens closing in so he made the best with his speed and kept moving.

Five squad cars were already present in front of the house as they took in Greer and Randall in handcuffs. He stayed hidden and took some regret about not having to bail them out along with Kyle any time soon. He then decided to hoof it back to Ezpata to figure out what he was planning to do next. Six blocks of constantly looking over his shoulder, he started to feel sharp pain in the back of his left calf. He already got shot once before and it was one thing he didn't want to experience a second time.

However, this felt different, like a Charlie horse you can't walk off. He didn't pay much attention to it; cops were on his tail as he saw red and blue flashers racing in the streets. Who the hell was he dealing with? He asked himself lugging the suitcase. For a loan shark, he seemed to know the basis of police procedure, and more importantly, what did he shoot his calf with if not a bullet?

He wasn't treading blood or feeling lightheaded. The pain didn't get any less when he got back to his apartment, sweating through his jacket looking for his room. He slammed the door behind him and dropped on his stomach to feel for whatever was in his leg, but after a minute of fidgeting, he heard a beeping sound which clicked in his head almost immediately on what it was. That was when the cops busted into his apartment and gave him no room to react. They began kicking him down like a rabid animal when Davey came into the room a few minutes later. The boys in blue put their feet to the ground as he leaned forward to Jessie and whispered in his ear.

"You should've taken my offer, kid. Now you're getting "murder" on your rap sheet."

"Fuck you, I didn't kill anyone." Jessie said struggling to get away.

"That pocket knife you used on me; you had a spare lying around where Benson was hanging. It's the same one you used to slit his throat…before you went Caligula on him."

"No, no you can't. You can't pin that on me!"

"Let that be a lesson to you. Don't fuck with the Great White. Otherwise, you'll be chomped in half."

He lifted Jessie's leg and played "Operation" to get the tracking device out of it. In this instance, it was a good thing Jessie was a bleeder. When the screaming stopped, he passed out from the blood loss. The days that followed were of anxiety, excitement, mixed with a hint of worry for Jacob, Ewan, and Tammy when a visitor wearing purple colors showed up at their trailer home. Troy Bradshaw was in the neighborhood and heard about a killing from an inside source of item procurement.

Jacob didn't understand what he was talking about at the time, but the one thing that was clear to him was that Jessie was in Juvenile Hall. For reasons unknown yet, Troy adhered to Jake's wanting to see his brother and find out what was going on. Ewan on the other hand went against it, saying good riddance to that son of a bitch leaving his family three years before. Jacob gave him a look of irony and said that would've been what his father said. Before leaving, Troy assured them he wasn't going to let him out of his sight. In 2003, Troy was merely a rookie for Saints Row he told Jacob. As they drove downtown, they had gotten to know one another.

"You know Jessie?" Jacob asked him.

"I know his boss, Greg Benson. Last year, I was caught in a bind between a gang affiliate and a few drug dealers trying to get away with crates of LSD. Benson and a few of his guys ambushed them while I was trying to get away. This gang from uptown, the Rollerz, came around protecting the drug transport when the Saints came in as an element of surprise."

"What happened to this Benson and the transport?"

"He's been a regular at the Stilwater Police Department. He claims he's a master thief, but he lacks the means of not leaving a paper trail. Long story short, I had a sticky bomb I was saving on a rainy day and I used it on the truck guarded by the Rollerz. The drugs were destroyed, I was recruited by Julius Little of Saints Row, and now I roll with them. My job is to look out for people who need help in times of a crisis, so I figured I'd start in Elysian Fields."

"It's an odd place to help a bunch of trailer trash with no value to the big city."

"Eh, you gotta start somewhere. Now don't tell anyone; honestly I'm not supposed to be taking to you to see your brother."

"Why not, he's my only family." Jacob said.

"Sometimes family makes decisions other family members don't want to accept. Just remember, Jake, no matter what happens afterwards, the Saints will always have your back."

Jake in his own way thanked him for the gang sentiment, but what he couldn't wrap his head around is what made him Troy's top priority. Why was he so he important? That was what separated Saints Row from the other gangs that hurt innocent people. They helped those who have been beaten and abandoned with no justice in their life. When they got to the building where juvenile hall was held at, they went inside where a whole new dark side of life revealed itself to Jacob. In Elysian, he's seen beat downs, kids getting pissed on, kids getting high.

He never thought they would end up in a place like juvee. On the outside, the place looked too clean for his liking. That was when Troy brought him to visitation to see Jessie. It was the watering hole where the animals didn't fight over their share. Everything was carefully observed by the security cameras and guards patrolling the room. "He's right over there." Troy pointed to an inmate with a number of 8492.

He was afraid of one of the inmates jumping him, but Troy kept his word as he stood by his side literally every step of the way. Dozens of emotions swam rapidly in his head all at once. He couldn't even recognize Jessie from the severe paleness of his face, the leg brace, he didn't know whether to feel sorry for him or kick his ass for not allowing him to help his battles. One way or another, he kept himself composed as Jessie looked up to Troy and thanked him for bringing Jacob to him.

"The way I see it, you have ten minutes to speak to your brother before the guards take you to your cell. Make them count." Troy said before walking away.

Jessie gave a slight chuckle and nodded his head like Troy wasn't right in the head. He looked up at Jacob for the first time in three years and already how much of a young man he has grown in the squalor of Elysian Fields.

"Between you and me, Troy's an odd dude. He says he's a gang member, but has connections to the police; same pricks who took my partners in. I tell ya, the past three years rolling around Stilwater you learn new things everyday." Jessie said looking at Jake staring back at him. "I don't have an easy explanation for why I'm here."

"You got eight minutes and forty-seven seconds, Jess. Do the best you can." Jacob said.

"I've gotten into a lot of scraps since coming to the trailer park. Our dad got drunk enough times, he started taking on a dictator role at Banaky's Den."

"I remember." Jake replied.

"Guess you developed his gift for detail. In our own messed up way, we've inherited his eye for things we want most, and would go to extreme measures to get it."

"Why are you here, Jessie?" Jacob asked, getting annoyed.

"The people I worked with, Benson and the others I told you in that letter, we were setting up shop in a crack house the Vice Kings used to own before getting ran out of business. It was gonna be our last job for a while. When we got there, Benson wasn't around so Greer and I had a look around. He...was hanging out upstairs and not in a relaxing way."

"…Are you and the guys okay?"

Jessie paused for a moment then said, "One of them died in front of me. I couldn't move from the quickness of that loud gunshot. I still have bits of blood inside my ear. I managed to…stick it to the douchebag before I split. He shot some tracking device in my leg and followed me all the way to my apartment. I didn't know who he was before, but I asked around, asked Troy…Jake, what I'm about to tell you right now is for your own safety."

"Jess, I…I don't…" Jacob said, trying to put the story together in his head.

"Just listen. I need you to go to my apartment in Ezpata. There's a pull-out couch with a pressure point beneath it. It's hollow so knock around a couple times until you find it. Underneath is a bag I've been saving for you for a long time. Every voice in your head will tell you to use what's inside it, but please baby brother, just take it and leave."

When he put two and two together, Jacob had a vague idea of what he would find at the apartment. He was afraid that would happen, telling him if there was more than enough money in the duffel bag he was going to use it to post bail and take Jessie home where he belonged. Jessie tried explaining without going into vivid detail on the guy who shot him, only to say he enjoyed taking out the tracker a little too much. Jacob kept pressing him for answers Jessie was ducking from. After another few minutes went by of arguing, he went and told Jacob the harshest thing no one should say to their sibling, but the way he saw his life was going, the sick bastard who shot him was probably going to be worm chow after he got out.

"This is not gonna stop." Jessie stressed to him, saying Jacob had every right to be free from their father, the trailer park, everything. "You have to get out now, away from me." Jacob's eyes opened like two waterfalls were about to release down his cheeks. Jessie was serious and stern in the fact of him going away would be the best thing for both brothers. When Jacob tried to ask what he meant by being away from him forever, that was when the guards came by to break up the visitation. Two guards lifted him up from his chair while Troy ran back to hold Jacob from doing anything foolish.

"Wait, it hasn't been ten minutes yet! Jessie!" He begged the guards.

"You're gonna be your own man someday, baby brother. I know it." Jessie said, breaking down as he was being dragged away.

"Whatever he did, it wasn't his fault!"

"I love you, Jake. I'm so sorry…"

Troy clenched his shoulder and said, "Jake, c'mon we have to go."

"No, he's my brother. I want to help!" He said violently flinching away.

"He made his choice. There's nothing you can do for him now." Troy told him.

"Bullshit!" Jake shouted, punching him in the face.

Three other guards with stun batons went after Jacob while Troy got up and ran behind them. By the time they got outside, it was already night time. The only things that were visible to them were the street lights and the full moon hovering over the neighborhoods. "You want us to go find him?" One guard asked Troy catching his breath. All of a sudden, Troy found a faded picture on the ground and noticed it showed Jacob building an old Hammerhead with a few trailer park friends.

He expressed to them not to worry about it, that no quarrel was made. It took him a little bit to get his bearings, but sitting on a bench at a bus stop, seeing the old picture reminded him how much of the life he had when he was a kid. Before becoming a purple soldier of the streets, he used to play baseball with his dad and other neighborhood kids back in Chicago. For a time, he thought that's what he wanted to do. Another calling came through just a little after high school. Before that, he was at the batting cages while doing homework at the same time, but financial struggles impacted his dad in a huge way.

Troy was working three dead end jobs to help support his family. Then one day when he was seventeen, a family reunion took place at the Bradshaws. His grandfather, Kenneth Bradshaw was a retired police chief for the Chicago PD. He told stories of his early days under the badge, being an undercover cop to stop a prostitution ring of Malaysian girls being traded across the state, to being promoted to the Chief of Police. As interesting his grandfather told it, it seemed like a life where he could make good money and make sure low lives don't mug and steal a person's dignity like they did with his father at one point.

He was an only child with dreams of going into the big leagues, but it didn't require hitting a ball with a bat. After graduating from high school, he wanted to go reinvent his character. He wanted to make an actual difference to the people around him, and to convince himself he could do great things if pushed hard enough. Once he had saved up some money, he took his father across stateliness to go to college in Michigan. There he gained more opportunities to make some money on the spot to help support the both of them.

Years passed, and just like Jacob's keen eye for detail, Troy passed the entrance exam and physical test to become an officer of Stilwater. Troy thought back to the things he did to get where he was as he stared at Jake's picture. He felt sorry for what he had to experience with his brother; so he did the one thing that helped Troy come to terms to whenever he did wrong by his old man. Jake's a bright kid he thought to himself: angry, hurt, ambitious in something that didn't have a gun in the mix. It reminded Troy much of himself; how angry he would get when he couldn't find the street kids who broke his father's jaw, or the thieves who trashed his house on more than one occasion.

Maybe he could guide Jacob into doing what he was smiling so widely in the picture; build cars. He then decided to take a back seat on Jake's pain for a few weeks; seeing him in Elysian Fields wasn't going to do either of them good at this point. Three and a half months later, Jacob and Ewan were in the back of their trailer fixing up the Hammerhead that was collecting dents and rust in the junkyard on the western corner of the park. News spread to Elysian that there was going to be try-outs for teens to become sponsored by some of the most famous auto-body owners of Stilwater. Jacob only turned twelve at the time, but that didn't stop him or his foster parents from entering the race either.

Of all the places for the race to happen, it had to be at Banaky's Den. Four months ago, Ewan would've labeled his foster son a maniac to enter a race just to stick it to his deadbeat old man, but helping him work on the Hammerhead with the money Jacob had won from past off-road races, he could see his spirit shining through to the finish line. Five racers from all over the trailer park rose to their one ticket out of the gutter, and out onto the city streets where the real money was being made. It was high noon and the wind gusting gave each racer tuning their car the motivation they needed to win. Troy went incognito to Jake's house to see how he was holding up.

From where he stood, he seemed happy. His foster parents must've fought tooth and hang nail to keep him from slipping into a dark place he thought walking over to them. Tammy stood in front of him and said, "You're familiar to me." She padded his chest and smiled warmly.

"Yeah, you caught me. How are you and your family doing?"

"It's been tough." She said with a slight a frown. "Jake felt shut down when he ran back from where you took him to see Jessie. How is Jessie?"

"The odds haven't been good for him. I came by to speak to Jake if that's okay."

"It ain't me you have to convince. C'mon." She said tugging on his shirt walking alongside her.

She walked him over to where the Jake and Ewan were working on the car's hood. Ewan looked up and suddenly felt an urge to wring his neck for what happened three months before. Jacob saw him standing like a brooding statue and asked, "Everything alright, dad?" He told him to stay put and keep working as he went over to confront Troy.

"What in Sam hell is this eye sore doin' here?" Ewan asked stomping up to him.

"Sir, I'm only here to…" Troy addressed.

He grabbed Troy by his purple jacket and said, "That's Mr. Breslin to you, asshole."

"I'm not here to stir shit up." Troy tried to explain.

"The hell you're not; do you have any idea what you put Jake through?"

"He seems to be doing okay now."

"He wants to talk to Jake alone." Tammy interjected standing between them. "He did take him to see his brother one last time 'fore they strip that kindness away. Please, let Troy set things right."

"…Five minutes." Ewan said taking two steps, standing next to him. "And make them count…"

Putting both hands in his pockets, Troy walked towards the car and took a moment to marvel the sheer craftsmanship of a classic Hammerhead. It looked like it was driven fresh off the lot. Jake had an eye for detail not even Troy suspected to be so keen on. He then went over to the driver's side to talk to him.

"Hello, Jake." Troy said in a friendly gesture.

Shaking his head after seeing him, he said, "What do you want? I'm busy."

"Just came by to see how you were doing since last we spoke."

"My older brother's in juvee. Do you have any idea what they charged him with?" He asked putting both his arms on top of the car. "The judge said he could get 25 years for possession and distribution. The god dang legal system, right; I wanted to help him, Troy. But the look on his face when he said I had to be away from him…so I kept my focus on seeing street races."

"If it's any consolation, he made it explicitly clear the money he had in his apartment was for you."

"And you believed him…?"

"Yeah, I do. Jacob, I don't expect you to understand, but despite his good intentions he was a criminal. He's made some bad choices and he wants to pay for them, starting with you." Troy said showing him the duffel bag. "After you ran off, I went over to his apartment. The money was still intact; all 69 grand of it."

"…I don't want it. It's not right." Jake said, avoiding eye contact.

"Then how about we start earning your brother's blood; cent by cent? Your foster mother wants me to make this right, Jake. I want to make it right."

Jacob looked at Troy right in the eyes and was able to tell he wasn't going to leave him alone; not about the money or any of it. He leaned back against the car and handed Troy the floor on how to make the sting of his brother's disowning feel bearable. Right off the bat, he explained the sponsored races the so-called "top" auto-body owners run every year. "They're straight up bullshit." He told him. There was a reason Semi Broken Auto shops never participated in these events.

Rim Jobs have a strict system that is designed for drivers to flop regardless of the car's make or the person behind the wheel. Over the past sixteen years, Rim Jobs held sponsored races in spacious areas like Elysian Fields as well as populated neighborhoods like Prawn Court and the suburbs. Five to thirteen racers enter for a chance to represent a car dealership of their choice with a mechanic of their choice. One out of fifteen racers gets picked per year and are under a rigorous contract to win races for their respective sponsors, and get paid in royalties that could set that driver for life.

Here was the real kicker Troy told him. If any racer lost by a mile, a quarter mile, or around the neighborly corner, it'd be a wrap for them. One of Rim Jobs finest, Sampson, backed out of these races when he heard about the unfair one year contracts they had for racers. These sponsored events went from twice every few years to once a year, and nowadays they tend to pick the areas where people's standards weren't so picky. Jake cut in and told him how the grand prize was $20,000; cash he wanted to win on his own. That was the other slippery gimmick Troy brought up.

Everything costs, and if by some chance a racer remains consistent with his/her contract, they get sent overseas to race competitive dealerships and have the chance to represent another country. Transportation, car tune-ups, hotel stays, none of these things come out of the sponsor's pocket, but the cash prize the racer wins. As informative as Troy giving Jake the 411 behind the racing scams, he still wasn't fully convinced and was just standing in the way of his first step into a better life, away from his real father. That was when Troy took out a business card from a Semi Broken shop in Athos Bay.

"The man's name is Chad. He's one of the good ones, hooks the Saints up with no bullshit included. You go to him he'll help you get out of Elysian, and into a better life." Troy said, handing him the card.

"I must've walked by over fourteen body shops and never even heard of this guy. What if he's not legit?" Jacob asked looking at it.

"Trust me, next to Sampson and Lorenzo from uptown, he's the best damn car mechanic of Athos Bay. Look, what happens next is your choice. You can race the desert, take the prize money, just know Saints Row always looks out for its people. On the back is my cell number. Give me a shout whenever you want to talk."

Street gangs weren't very high on his friend list, mostly because of how much damage they caused to others. They were either living like recluses or running a convoy of blue, foreign vehicles off the freeway. Troy seemed different he thought; a very giving person with ties even a Vietnam Veteran turned alley hobo would be jealous of. He pondered over his options for a moment. Money-wise, he pretty much used it all from past off-road races and into bringing the Hammerhead back to life.

There was little to no competition since Joseph Price and his crew from the Westside Rollerz stepped their game up on the street drift. Elysian was lucky to have a sponsoring event in the first place. Then there was his dad. He came out of the Den and into the small pockets of people cheering the racers on. He caught a glimpse of him walking by with his beer belly hanging out of his green shirt, and tired eyes that had enough fear in them to intimidate others.

It was more sad than pathetic seeing his own father go from a decent mechanic in Detroit to becoming a deadbeat drunk in a trailer park, all because he couldn't support his family with his one track mind and pride. Right then he made a decision. He got in and started the Hammerhead with its tiger sounding roar and drove away from Elysian without so much as a goodbye to his foster parents. Heading into the city, he suddenly realized he was twelve years old behind the wheel. Luckily it was around lunch hour, and the cops weren't as alert without their pastrami sandwiches and flasks. He took a chance with his car and went through the side streets and non-populated neighborhoods to reach Athos Bay.

Two and a half hours later dodging the bullet at every corner, he found himself pulling up in an alleyway next to the Semi Broken Body shop. He got out and immediately heard shouting and choice language coming from inside. Whoever the mechanic was, he was getting an earful from the owner he said to himself. Jacob made his way to the front of the shop and stood by the garage door, seeing Chad having a melt down on his cell phone.

"Fuck man, my mechanic just quit and I got six more cars that need to be worked on. Where the hell is your boy, Dante? He's looking for a job, right? How many times has that sleazy fuck been sick? Look, listen to me. No, no, no, you listen to me. I don't care if he's got a hemorrhoid the size of Montana. If he's breathing, forming words, tell him to get his ass down here. Of course I'm fucking desperate. I got nobody here! I got six customers breathing down my neck on getting their cars fixed by tomorrow." Chad explained before he heard a click on his phone. "Hello, h-hello; shit how the hell am I gonna explain this fucking mess?"

"You need a mechanic?" Jacob asked nonchalantly walking up to him.

"Piss off, kid. I need an actual mechanic, not some scrawny street punk." Chad said lighting up a cigarette. "Are you deaf? Quit jerking around and piss off."

Jacob didn't flinch once. Chad looked like a wrestler who couldn't catch a break at anything in life. Every instinct told him to lift Jake by his dirty, white tank top and toss him into the street. Last thing he needed was to babysit some trailer trash who think his shit doesn't stink. The more he stood, toolbox and all, Chad felt like he was between a rock and a hard place in terms of having help around the shop. He then walked up to Jacob and gave him a task out of the blue which unknown to him at the time, was his way of testing squeaky clean mechanics with buffed cuticles and having hair smell like raspberries.

"You're not gonna leave, huh?"

"Troy Bradshaw sent me, said you're the best in Athos Bay." Jacob told him.

"You really believe that?"

"What I believe is that you're in dire need of help of fixing six cars. I'm pretty good 'round a socket wrench."

"That's what all new blood say. Then they can't hack it and start crying like vaginas after a serious ramming." Chad replied before thinking for a second. "Follow me, kid."

Grabbing his tools, Chad brought Jake to the back end of the shop where six cars either had flat tires, busted windshields, or have bullet holes all over the foundation. He put his hand on Jake's left shoulder and pointed, "Alright punk, you think your scrawny ass got skills? See that Phoenix over there? Once a beaut out on the open road; it was one of Sampson's genuine articles. That was until a college girl decided it was smart to race her boyfriend from the Rollerz all around Chinatown. I'll make you a deal. I'm gonna go buy myself a six pack. If you can have this up and runnin' by the time I get back, I'll pay you for your troubles. Sound good?"

Jacob took a second to analyze what needed to be fixed on the Phoenix; broken chaste, entire right side of the car crashed, desperate need of fresh rims over the busted pink ones. He looked back at Chad and plainly said, "Ok." After waiting for Chad to leave the lot, he grabbed his tools and like a happy kid on Christmas morning, he dived right into the Phoenix to give it a whole new makeover. An hour and a half working on it, the black Phoenix was near complete. Judging by how often the owner kept her car clean, it almost made him gag a couple of times.

Old burger smells as well as something that was common between two rednecks on a Wednesday night told him to wear an operating mask to do the cleaning. "Just in time…" Jake said when he saw Chad pulling up to the garage. He worked on shining the new rims before confronting him.

"Hey, the Phoenix is done." Jacob said.

"Bullshit." Chad replied cracking the cap off his beer and taking a swig. "It doesn't take 90 minutes to fix an entire car." Both walked over to experience the magic Jacob performed on bringing a college girl's wet dream back to life. When Chad removed the tarp, his cigarette dropped on the ground and was stunned by how he was able to do what he did in such a short amount of time. He told Jake that not even his last mechanic could revive a car that far gone in under 90 minutes, and he was working at Semi Broken for over eleven years.

"It looks good, right? I got skills." Jake asked in a semi mocking way. A man in Chad's position, he would've given Jacob a promotion for efficient body work, but it was only the beginning he thought. That was when he pointed out two other vehicles like the Vortex and Bootlegger, saying he needed them fixed by four in the afternoon.

"Thought you said all six cars needed to be fixed by tomorrow." Jacob said.

"Plans change. Lucky for me, I raise prices in circumstances like these."

"Why's that?"

"They're assholes. Customization is more than a job, kid. It's art. It's what keeps you alive when gang members out there are shooting their toy guns off, and hope they hit something. If you don't think you can handle it…?"

"No, no, I can handle it. 4 on the dot it is." Jacob replied getting his tools and went to work on both cars.

When it came to training new mechanics under Chad's tutelage, he usually leaves them with a busted car and a certain time limit for them to work on it. He sometimes came back drinking one beer as a sign of what he was to hire wasn't a total idiot, while other times he drank the entire six pack in one shot if a mechanic can't tell the difference between a socket wrench and what kind of oil to use. The entire time Jacob was working on both cars simultaneously, not once Chad touched his pack of Lucky's Brew, only a swig. He was continually being shocked and impressed at the same time at how a scrawny kid can move so fast between cars, it was hard to keep up which one was getting an engine treatment or a complete tune up. Two hours passed, and already Jacob was testing how the Vortex ran which was already a beast of a car for the racing circuit.

After a while, he would look up every once in a while to see if Chad was still watching him. In Elysian, he was used to being watched by some of the most unfriendly types when he worked on his Hammerhead at night. The direct stares didn't faze him one bit. By the time 3:15 in the afternoon hit, Chad walked out of his office and called him over to evaluate his overall work ethic over the past few hours. All of a sudden, his hands were shaking when he realized he didn't tell him where he came from, let alone say how old he was at the time. He took a deep breath entering his office as Chad was reviewing his record book on scheduled cars that needed repairs.

"Both cars run like dreams now, sir." He said with sweat dripping down his forehead.

"That's what I love to hear. Alright listen, first off I wanna say sorry for giving you such a hard time earlier. I thought you were another of those self-righteous pricks yanking my chain." Chad apologized as he was still trying to believe the kind of talent Jake had. "You were right you got some hardcore skills on you. Before we talk about the future, I gotta ask, how old are you?"

"Um…" He mumbled, trying to think.

"And don't bullshit a bullshitter, kid. I lost ten friends and a marriage doing that."

Taking a big sigh and was ready for whatever outcome Chad had in store, Jake said, "I'm twelve."

"I see. You know I can't hire you on the spot. I don't work that way. Minimum age for a job here is fifteen. Twelve's too young."

"I understand." He spoke without argument.

"Then again, I would've said the same thing to a college grad with a BA in shop. Sure, they have the skills for this line of work, but they lack passion. I always say a car is a man's lifeline. Cigarettes and booze come and go, but when it comes to your very own car, nothing is more sacred."

"I couldn't agree more, sir."

"I checked your background while you were working. You had a family back in Detroit working for a moving company called "Egregian Commons". Then when the company shut down you guys moved to Stilwater and eventually settled in the trailer parks on the outskirts of town. It must be pretty rough there."

"I got my good days and bad days."

"Here's the deal. I can take you on as an off the books apprentice; a ghost mechanic if you will. They're a rare breed mind you, mostly because I can't pay them. Couple things you should know about me though: I'm a hard ass, I expect astounding results, and expect my guys to go along with my dry sense of humor. With your skills, this shop might be back in league with the other top mechanics like Sampson and Lorenzo's foreign motors. You're a rare breed too, kid. Most kids your age would rather play video games and be on teenage pregnancy shows."

"Ha, I can promise you that's not me. I do like to play ski-ball at the arcade from time to time. There's this hippie who's always beating my high score."

"I also know you like off-road racing, won some big bets along the way. I'm guessing that Hammerhead outback is yours too?"

"It's gotten me through some difficult times, sir. I'd be in a different place without it."

Chad asked again if Jake was interested in taking on the ghost mechanic role for Semi Broken. He ecstatically accepted the offer without hesitation as he shook his hand and thanked him by calling him "sir" again. There was a fourth thing Chad made clear about his character, sort of a pet peeve he has as a mechanic. He didn't like being called "sir", saying he preferred to leave such words to the crooked lawyers at Legal Lee. He however wanted to be preferred as "boss". "Sure thing, boss," Jacob told him as he gathered his things and was prepping to leave. Chad then sensed something was still bothering him. He addressed a fifth and final pet peeve he had about his employees.

"Since you're my ghost mechanic, I got connections to put you in an apartment complex on Cashmere's Drive. I can see it in your eyes. You're trying to move away from Elysian Fields and that's understandable. The way I see it, you just bought yourself 24 hours. Sever any goddamn demons you got tying you down over there. Come tomorrow…the real work begins."

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