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My name is Vincent ‘Six’ Caznotti but only my mother calls me Vincent. To most folks, I’m just Vinnie, though I admit, I picked up a couple of other names along the way.
My grandma; she still insists on calling me Vincenzo. She’s real proud of my family’s Italian American heritage. Three of my four grandparents were the descendants of Italian families who relocated to New York in the 1950’s and for some folk, especially my Grandma, proud old traditions die hard. I’m like ‘that was 120 years ago Grams’ but she insists on calling me Vincenzo. My Pops always shrugs, ‘what are you gonna do’ and he’s right, family is real important, so I can live with my Grandma’s quirks. Just don’t be fooled by the name.
I’ve lived in San Francisco all my life. My Mom and Pops have a real nice family home in the Castro district, not far from Mission Dolores Park on the corner of Church Street and 24th. My Mom’s the homebody – she kind of had to be; I’ve two older brothers and a younger sister. My Pops, well everyday he walks three blocks over and hops on the Tram downtown to Yerba Buena where he runs a little garage. It’s a one-man band place but he makes a decent living.
I qualified from technical college about 18 months ago and I’ve been helping him out, supplementing the income with various jobs as a delivery driver. Hell, truth be told I’ve been heading down there since I was about eight years old. Right at first I used to just sit in the cars while he worked on them but then I started helping out – real basic stuff, passing him the spanners and oiling where he pointed. I didn’t realise it then but I was learning all the time.
Like most kids, I had a bad patch. To hear my Pops talk, I was a proper little bastard all through the summer of 2063. On my 13th birthday he sat me down and talked about how in our spare time we could work together on building me a car ready for when I was old enough to drive. Of course there was a catch – if I wanted him to build me a car, I had to start acting responsibly, behave, treat my Mom right, show some dedication at school – basically prove to my Pops that I could and would be man enough to earn my wheels. Hell we shook on it there and then, like equals.
A couple of weekends later, we went out looking for a fixer-upper. I remember that day like it was yesterday. There was only one car for me – the 2041 Ford Shelby Mustang "Bullet" 341GT Limited Edition - I’d had a picture of it on my wall since I was six and I ran my old man ragged looking for one. We must have hit 20 or 30 auctions, junk yards and private sellers that weekend and we only found one under budget. She was no oil painting. Hell, she was no fixer-upper. I mean this car was a bona fide wreck but my Pops gave her a good look over and said the chassis and engine were sound. He was happy and I was happy, even if we did have to use my old man’s repair truck and tow her home dragging her ass on the blacktop.
Five years we spent working on that car. Five years devoting almost every weekend and often four nights a week to working her up. We grew real close my Pops and I and I learnt a hell of a lot from my old man in that time too. I took a mechanics class at technical college but frankly I could have taught it. Still it was worth it to see the pride in my old man’s eyes when I graduated top of the class at something for the first time.
For my 18th I finally got my hands on the Bullet plus a small sum of money from my Grams who’d been investing in a trust fund since the day I was born. The trust matured on my 18th, Grams gave me the money and I was straight down the clinic, booking myself in to get a Datajack and a suite of VCR programs hardwired into my head. My trust didn’t cover the whole bill of course but I took a loan – I figured chrome was worth it.
That was a little less than two years ago and man has my life changed since then. I hadn’t been cruising the streets of San Fran long when I fell in with the wrong crowd – street racers. You gotta understand, these are my kind of people; petrol-heads, born with the smell of gasoline in their noses and a desire to feel the wind through their hair on the open road. I was an instant hit and my ride drew appreciative glances too because it was real, made of blood, sweat, passion and tears as much as of metal and rubber, rather than some Jap kit car. They were my people and suddenly I was the popular kid. It was street racers who took my initial and souped it up; gave me my tag – V6, then shortened even that to just ‘Six.’
But for all that I loved my new found friends, street racers have a take it or leave it attitude to the law. I guess that’s just a survival mechanism when high octane racing around the Bay Area is how you make your living and the cops don’t take too kindly to it. I was in a lot of debt – I had the loan for my Cyberwear to pay off and even though the Bullet was the finished article, I soon found I went a little stir crazy if I spent too long without a wrench in my hands. I figured I’d make my fortune doing custom jobs on fixer uppers then selling them on but I had no capital to buy the fixer uppers in the first place. So I started running a little modern-day highway robbery out on the freeways around ‘Frisco.
We were worried about getting busted by the cops but it wasn’t the police who caught up with us in the end. Seems the Bay area is Yakuza territory and the Japs didn’t take too kindly my spirit of free enterprise. Now I’ve not had much experience of organised crime. Pops has spoken with distaste of how my oldest brother Nunzio is a made man but until recently I had no idea what that meant. Evidently the ‘Frisco Yakuza had picked up on the name of Caznotti though and decided to make a statement, using me as messenger.
Me and some of the boys were impressing the girls with burnouts and do-nuts down at Golden Gate Park when the Japs first showed. Their ringleader was a real suave, arrogant guy with the kind of confidence only money can buy. I took a dislike to him and to his imported ten-second Mitsubishi right there and then. Looking back, he went out of his way to be a pain in the ass. For the next few weeks, him and his boys made a nuisance of themselves. Beating the ‘Frisco crowd out on the streets, spoiling races, tipping off the cops and a whole host of other shit. Even my hits out on the freeway started to go sour and I had an inkling those bastards were behind it. When their top dog finally challenged me, it was almost a relief. We agreed the terms, North on Highway 101 across the Golden Gate Bridge and back, just him and me, for pink slips.
I was confident – too confident and took the guy up on his challenge. We met at dawn in Golden Gate Park and my VCR programmes told me everything was fine with my ride. It was tight between us Northbound, fast and furious across the bridge but I pulled ahead on the turn. Southbound there was clear air between us. I started to celebrate but halfway back across the span, I cut smoke front and rear, the power died on me and something started interfering with my feed. I guess I got my Personal Access Node hacked, which basically meant I had fuck all idea what was wrong with my car. I can only coast to a halt watching the Mitsubishi roar home over the line. Man, what a bust.
My car; My Dream Machine; Gone in 60 seconds. Man it cut me handing over the keys and the pinks to that arrogant Jap bastard. Cut me more when I realised I was gonna have to face my old man. What could I say to him? I’ll tell you what. Nothing. I bottled it. Thank fuck I don’t live at home no more. Pops thinks the Bullet is parked up while I run in one of the imports I’ve been modding up.
I got a call yesterday. Some old Yakuza dude. If I ever want a chance of getting my Bullet back, I gotta pay the Devil his due. No more highway robbery on his turf – plus back pay equal to a 50 per cent cut of everything I ever took out on the ‘Frisco freeway. With interest, natch. I am so screwed. I already owe money on the loan for my cyber-mods and with the Yakuza stamping out my revenue stream, I don’t exactly have big bucks coming in.
Which is why I’m sitting here writing this Blog. I’ve done a lot of thinking. I’ve got myself a car; Ok it’s Jap bolt-on crap but it’s better than stock. I’ve got myself some skills – behind the wheel, with a wrench and from hanging out on the San Fran streets. Most importantly, I know people who know people. One of my boys says he can put me in touch with some Runners and Runners always need wheelmen. Sure, it makes me little more than a glorified rigger but I hear Running the Shadows makes big bucks and right now, I need to worship at the altar of the almighty dollar.
I’m gonna let this Blog speak for itself. As a record of what I’ve done with my life and why.
Listening to: Silence; Waiting for my first call