EYE FOR AN EYE
Even away from their homeland their lives belong to Cosa Nostra.
Ten commandments have been written and each member of the Mafia must strictly respect these rules.
One of the commandments tells, “Always be available for Cosa Nostra. It is your duty before anything else, even if your wife is about to give birth.”
He had been released on parole after spending three years of the fifteen years of his sentence. The Family had sent someone to pick him up and take him back to Leichhardt, the ‘Little Italy’ suburb of Sydney.
“No point in going home, nobody is waiting for me.” Luke thought bitterly.
“Legally, I’m still married to Lola, even if she had never, in all the time I was in jail, contacted me with either a visit or a phone call.”
He had been told that soon after he had been incarcerated, she had left and she was living luxuriously with Maso Garrone.
Luke thought that he had nothing left from his previous brilliant life. No love or friends apart from some strict relatives.
“There is only one place where I could go and where I’ll always be welcome, my brother’s widow’s house. But it’s much too early to go there yet. Maybe this evening or even better tomorrow morning. Seeing me again she will cry. Just now I’m not in the mood to see someone spilling tears over me.”
Then speaking Sicilian, he instructed Turiddu, the driver who met him at the jail gates,
“Take me to Kings Cross, Turiddu, to the Club. Someone will be there who is able to tell me the latest news and buy me a couple of drinks. Have you ever been in jail Turiddu? I need to catch up the lost time.”
At the door of the Trocadero, the bouncer stopped him.
“Hey Gianni, don’t you recognize me?”
“Luke? When did you get out?
“Only a couple of hours ago, I need a drink and some friendly faces around me.”
“Of course, welcome back. Your cousin was here a short time ago. He will be surprised to see you. Nobody is expecting to see you out so early.”
Luke went upstairs. At that time of the day there were only a few who sat on the high stools lined along the bar.
On the stage the band was rehearsing a new song and a female singer had a music sheet in her hand, and was trying her best to get into the proper tune. She modulated her voice and moved her body sexually, at the rhythm of the music, and expressed in this way the amorous words in the song.
Luke ordered a double Scotch on the rocks. During his stay in jail he had missed a real drink. He needed something stiff and strong to feel that he was finally free and back to the old days when he had his own orchestra and was used to entertaining the patrons of the nightclub.
Someone came from behind and patted him on the shoulder. Turning around Luke saw Michael, his cousin. Both were taken by emotion as they kissed each other on both cheeks.
“Glad to see you free, Luke. Let’s sit and talk.
“How are things, Michael?”
“Since that night you were ambushed in the back lane, and your young brother lost his life in that brawl, not much has changed here in the club. Many comments had been done about that day. Many, including myself believe in your innocence. People said you were canned…they were saying that someone with money had wanted you locked up. They paid someone to falsify the facts and to accuse you.”
“Yes, Michel, I was framed and false evidence was presented. I have been the one who had to rot in jail for three long years.”
“I have always believed in you. I suppose you know who was behind this and why he wanted you to be locked away.”
“I suspected the real reason all the time. Just tell me, Michael, did Lola run away with him? Is that why she never visited me since that day? Does she still live with him?”
“They saw her in Melbourne, and I have been told she lives a rich life. I saw her a few times in Kings Cross with her sister Rossana. She would be the only one who can tell you of Lola. But be careful, I think it’s not worth you trying to see Lola again.”
“I have to. I must know where I stand.”
“Do you want my advice Luke? Let’s forget about the painful past. Tonight, we are going to celebrate your freedom and talk. Tell me, would you be interested in forming a new band? Of the old band only you and I are left, the others have moved away from Sydney. But that’s not a problem, we can work things out. We only need a good guitarist and someone who knows how to play the drums. I know of someone who would be interested in it. I recently heard them play and they are really good. We can be back in business in no time if you say yes.”
“I’m not sure yet; I cannot make a decision until I hear from my uncle, the Godfather. You well know this sort of family businesses we are in. We have to work out how to pay back for the killing of my brother. After all we are Calabrians and the family and Uncle have made up their mind that I, as the nearest relative have the duty to settle the score and restore the family’s honor. But better live all these hurdles for tomorrow. Tonight, as you said, let’s be free and enjoy. Let’s have a good time in the way we used to in the old days.”
“Don’t forget the bill is on me, Luke. I suppose that just now you are not swimming in money. I can spare a few hundred tonight. I’m been paid for a job, so we celebrate.”
By the evening the Trocadero was crowded. Lights were dimmed to created intimacy and, on the tables, burned red candles fitted in old wine bottles encrusted in colored wax, melted over many long nights. The atmosphere was warm and thick cigarette smoke hung in the air. CD music was piped in the background, while girls, in micro bikinis entertained the club patrons, with sinuous dances at the poles, while they consumed their dinner and drinks.
The main show was reserved for later in the evening, with the band playing popular tunes and Rossana, the favorite performer, singing songs on request and entertaining the patrons till the early hours.
That night Rossana looked magnificent in her Gitano costume. She and her sister Lola were from Cordoba, the Gitano’s motherland and with her performance she well represented the arcane myths of these people. Rossana was now considered in the entertainment circles a talented singer as well as having a good reputation as a flamingo dancer. She was the queen of the stage, where she supremely performed the difficult steps of the dance to the rhythm created by a spirited Andalusian’s guitarist. Her native songs and dances had conquered a vast group of aficionados that kept coming back to her night shows.
It was during an interval of the show when Luke met her at the bar. Rossana sat on a stool with a Bloody Mary in her hand, and seeing Luke she couldn’t restrain her emotion. She rose and warmly hugged and kissed him, while tears welled in her dark eyes.
“It’s the best thing that could happen to me tonight, Luke.” She said.
“I’m so happy to meet you too, Rossana. Tonight, you are as beautiful as a dream. Do you know that I often thought of you when I was confined in my cell? The last time we met I remember that I asked you to be part of my band. I have always been one of your admirers. Your performance tonight was splendid and more than ever I enjoyed your show. You are really talented, Rossana. Did you receive any good offers of work while I was away?”
“A couple of singles of mine are selling well and are returning good money. In a month I’ll be at the Jupiter Casino on the Gold Coast with a contract for the next season. Yes, finally, I’m getting some recognition.”
“I’m really pleased to hear that, Rossana. I will miss you.”
“You want my honest opinion, Luke?”
“Sydney is not the right place for you to live now. You have many enemies in this city. They ruined your life in the past and they will try again. I’m sure of that. Listen to me and this is a friendly advice. Cut all contact with your ‘Family’ now. They ask too much of your life and in the long run you will be nothing but the loser.
“It isn’t so easy moving away from the family, I owe respect to my Uncle.”
“Why don’t you come with me to Surfers, Luke? We can work together and I can help you to stand again on your feet and form your band. The limelight is the blood of your life, Luke, you are born for that. I am proud if we work together.”
“I’ll think about it, Rossana. But first I must settle some old business. I was innocently in jail for three years and it wasn’t easy. Do you know what I mean? Before I decide I want also sort out things with Lola. What do you know about your sister?”
“I’m warning you, Luke; it’s much better that you forget revenge. It’s too risky. It may cost you more years in jail if you are lucky, if not, it could be your life. Remember that Luke. Remember that the mob is vindictive and will be on your back all the time. They want you out of the way. Believe me, you got nothing to gain. Stay away from the Mafia and their laws.
“I will let Lola know that you are free. But again, be very careful. They’ll follow her to get to you, as soon as they know you are out. They have a wide web of informers. It could be very costly trying to meet her.
“Remember, I do care for you, Luke. Forget about the past and start a new life. You should come with me to Queensland where we can build our future and a career together.”