Tommy Vercetti, overheating in the Benz, diverts his attention from the ground floor Mid Beach apartment to kill the Pop station he's grown accustomed to. His Rayon shirt clings to his shoulders and he lifts his hips to stretch his back, rounded from hours sat stationary in the cream leather driving seat yet to mould itself to his shape. He recommences repeating to himself, almost robotically: "Show yourself, Paul..."
The location is a stone's throw away from The Malibu Club, a sleazy and increasingly dated discotheque that hosts the Miami Beach cocaine trade. It's Paul's domain; for drinks, women and a few rails, he trades information between the major players with questionable levels of accuracy. He's a currency unto himself and, that sticky morning in Mid-Beach, Tommy Vercetti is going to stamp his mark on both sides of that coin.
About seven-thirty, the LTD Crown Vic rests on the corner of West 42nd and the A1A. Paul emerges, red-eyed and dishevelled. Must have been a good night. He's wearing the same tropical shirt as their previous meeting, the eye-catching deep purple number with the green palm prints. His mullet, spiked on top and the blonde highlights recoloured, shapes softly around the head of his spine. He banters with the cabbie and fumbles for keys in the front pocket of his stonewashed jeans.
Tommy squares himself in behind the bushes and watches Paul navigate the sidewalk; he tracks the soft footsteps of Stan Smiths lumbering towards the apartment and bounces on his own heels, just in case the Brit decides it might be a good idea to turn around and nurse his head with a greasy slice of pizza from the parlour across the street. Wouldn't blame the man - a Cheesy Crust Special would hit the spot right about now - but Paul steadies his steps and finds his way to the door. He raises his arm, places the key in the lock...
And he's suddenly wide awake, Tommy Vercetti filling his doorway. There's a sudden urge to vomit and the onset of light-headedness. He'd run if his legs could carry him. "Tommy! Mate!..." he slurs, attempting to smile, would go for the shoulder slap if he could reach that high right now without falling on his bum. Innocently, he asks, "How'd you find me?"
The response is soft, almost polite: "Get inside, Paul."
"You look proper angry mate," Not making things better. He's transfixed with Tommy's eyes, a flat dark brown lacking any gleam of humanity. He decides to propose a compromise: "Why don't we go and get a cuppa, eh?"
"Get inside, Paul."
No sooner than he's turned the key, Paul finds himself being steadied beneath a firm hand into the living quarters of his apartment. He spins around, dizzily, and raises open palms in defeat.
"Hold up, Tom!" He whimpers. "What's this about?"
Flatly: "You gave me bad information, Paul."
"Sometimes it's a bit iffy," Paul shrugs his shoulders. He's trying to find a way he can reason with the man but it's just not happening. "You get what you're given, yaknowwhat-I-mean?"
"It's not good enough, Paul."
He thumbs out the keeper and drags his belt through its loops. Doubles it over, never takes his eyes off of Paul.
The Brit panics. He backsteps into his couch and pushes his hands out to steady himself.
"What is it you wanna know, Tom?" Desperately scrambling to get himself off the hook, "Anything, anything you want..."
"It's too late for that, Paul."
He snaps. Paul's suddenly face down in a divan, asphyxiating. The shirt tail comes out, the stonewashes come down. His pain reverberates into the fabric. His rear and thighs are lashed with the belt until they're tanned red raw.
Muffled and sobbing. "Tom, please..."
He's tossed as deadweight onto the carpet and tries to crawl on his hands.
Tommy, leaning down into his ear, barks at him: "Shut up!" He launches the length of solid cowhide at Paul's wrists. The crawling body buckles limply in the centre of the room. And then suddenly and softly: "Who was Leo Teal moving keys for?"
"Who the bloody hell is Leo T-"
Wrong answer. The belt is thrashed down on the backs of Paul's knees this time. He cries out and his feet spasm.
"Who was he moving for?"
"Colombians! Rumours," He gasps for breath, "Rumours is all I heard!"
Spitting through gritted teeth. "Specifically."
"Ricardo Diaz," he pants. "He runs this gaff," Paul tries to turn himself onto his side, feels like he can at least still plead with his eyes. "Swear on 'me muvva, it's all I know..."
Between sobs there's a sharp shift of weight inside Paul's bedroom that stops Tommy mid welt. They've got company.
All Paul can muster, "Please, Tom..."
Tommy simply presses a finger to his lips. His eyes are still swollen and his thick hands twitch, the belt weightless. He approaches the bedroom; pushes open the door with gentle fingers and tilts his neck around its frame.
The woman, no more than eighteen, sits naked and defeated on the edge of the bed. Her knees are tight to her chest and she does not meet Tommy's eyes.
His eyes sweep the room. She's tried to breach the window but an AC unit cuts off any escape. She must have been sleeping before they came in.
He calls out to Paul, almost in disbelief: "She any good?"
No answer, so he addresses the girl, low. "You suck his d*ck?"
Again no answer. He simply tuts and shakes his head, pacing between the rooms, speaking as though he's correcting himself: "What am I asking you for?" Then louder to further emasculate Paul: "He probably showed you how."
Pooling some clothes from the foot of the bed, he pushes them against the woman's knees.
"Put your clothes on," he leans into her ear, "And leave."
Paul exhales sharply. He's going to live.
Tommy closes the bedroom door behind him, wants to give the girl some privacy. He wanders over to Paul's mini-fridge, finds a Coke. He seats himself on some home furniture, the soles of his Superstars hovering over Paul, still cowering in the foetal position on the floor. Comfortable, but his face suddenly screws up and he finds himself questioning the Coke can. Someone must've screwed with the recipe whilst he was in prison.
"Listen to me," he sets the can down next to Paul's head, leaning over him. He speaks softly now, an ally - not an enemy. "The only valuable information is the information that's correct, is that clear?"
His meeting with Gus has set the standard. Paul isn't going to disagree. "Crystal..."
"I want you to start sniffing around Little Havana," he instructs, whispering almost, "The Cubans have gotten themselves a connect that delivers pure. I want to know buyers and I want to know where they're distributing."
Understanding. His chest rises and falls and as he attempts to recover, he can't help but think the man could've just came right out and asked him this. "Okay, Tom..."
"Fix yourself up," Tommy, before he leaves, turns, disgusted: "You're a mess."