It was eleven in the morning by the time Luke woke up. The house was dusty and neglected with a musty odor, ‘These windows probably haven’t been opened for at least three years,’ Luke thought.
He looked around the house. The valuable had been removed, gone together with the rest of Lola’s possessions. There wasn’t much left around to remind him of their two years of marriage, only a couple of old photos hung on the wall.
Was he still in love with her? That sensation of emptiness was a bell alarm telling him how much he missed that woman. Legally she was still his wife, but she had chosen to live and make love with somebody else.
“My thoughts are obsessed with her. She has charmed me. Nobody else in the world is a better seducing lover. She is the only one capable of fulfilling my intense sexual desires. I really want to make love to her again, my groin craves for her.’ Luke thought.
The mobile phone interrupted his meditations. It was a message from his uncle, the Godfather, asking him to dinner at seven.
He knew the reason for this meeting and what would be asked. Uncle would remind him of the old traditions of his country and the respect to “Cosa Nostra”. Everyone had sworn to honor those old traditions of conspiracy and silence written down over the centuries from Calabrians and Sicilians. All in The Family must adhere to those codes of ethic, enhanced by ‘Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.’
Those laws, between them, were kept alive into modern time and a debt of honor was only paid with enemy blood.
‘Since I was a young boy, I learned that my duty is to stand with the family, in the interest of all of us. Therefore, I can’t refuse my obligations, or else they will point to me as a coward. I know that this evening Uncle Beppino would remind me of my obligation to reestablish the honor in the family for my brother’s killing.’\
Luke spent the afternoon at his sister-in-law’s place. He had seen Maria only once, after her husband, his young brother Salvatore, had been stabbed and lost his life. On that occasion he had promised that one day he would vindicate his brother’s brutal killing. He was the only one who was witness to the killing. The killer belonged to the ‘Liotta Family’.
Luke knew that words would not be necessary to tell Maria that soon she would be vindicated. His visit was just to reassure her, in a silent testimonial, of what would soon be inevitable. He spent that afternoon with his brother’s son, and he found that the boy, growing up, was taking after his father. He had also taken his father’s name but affectionately he was called Salvo.
Luke promised Maria to look after him in the same way a father does. This promise strengthened their knot into the family union.
Uncle Beppino received Luke with a large smile and open arms. He was the Caruso’s Don, and had settled in Sydney forty years earlier.
He had come from the rocky region of the Aspromonte in Calabria well before The Second World War. At that time, he took with him only a few things. But over the years, taking the opportunities available, he had built a wealthy empire.
After dinner, he invited Luke into his office. He took a bottle of Marsala and two glasses and offered one to Luke.
“This wine is from our motherland and with it we toast the health of our people. I’m proud of you all. I have such a magnificent family.”
“I’m proud to be a Caruso, Uncle. I owe you so much in life.”
“Luke, you well know that my wishes have always been that you enter in the family’s business, like your father. He is my younger brother, and twenty years separate us. I brought him to Australia that he was still a young boy. In this new country he became an accountant and now he is responsible for the bulk of our business, the import-export business and has three different warehouses in this country. The import business, since the old days, has been the bone of our structure. It started well over fifty years ago with a small delicatessen business here in Leichardt. Your father, at that time was a young lad, and was the one doing the day deliveries on a bike, after school. He worked hard and had good ideas to expand our activities. Within a short time, he was the manager of the shop. At fifteen he knew this business better than I and was the one to suggest to me better ways to improve our market and make more money for all of us.”
“I know, Uncle Beppino. Dad asked me many times to follow in his steps and learn accountancy. But I’m not cut out for it. I don’t understand the rules of numbers. I’m lost when I see in front of me books marked with so many columns and numbers and I couldn’t tell if they show a profit or a loss. You see Uncle, music is my real passion, and I can easily conjure up musical notes.”
“Sure Luke, every one of us has different capabilities. I’m sure that The Family would find the right job for you and the way to make more money for The Family. I don’t really understand much about music, my boy, but if that is what you are looking for, and you can prove to me that we can make a profit, I will support you.”
“Thank you, Uncle. I will keep that in mind and I’ll be back if I need help.”
“You well know that the Family diversifies on many businesses, Luke. There will always be a position available for you. You can learn how to make a profit with the help of my sons. They manage different branches of our organization. All of which are very profitable. They are very clever and their businesses present a respectable front, even if, most of the time it’s only a cover up to the real nature of the business that flourished in the back. In this way we cover up gambling and brothels. Of course to float properly, we have to pay influential people. On our payrolls we have cops and politicians who protect the different cores of our business. They tip us whenever the police plan raids around the district. So far we are respectable businessmen and we keep in the clear, and that’s exactly the way to be. I want to keep The Family name clean.”
“Uncle Beppino, what have you really in mind for me if I come to work for the Family? I don’t feel to be cut for gambling and whores.”
“I know son, you are the only one who has artistic talent in the family. We may possibly look for show business. But remember whatever business we’ll go into with you, it is a family’s rule that I have imposed and must be respected. Drugs are not allowed, even if they present the mirage of easy money. We have an unwritten agreement to leave that to the Liottas. Our Family has its good share in other equally profitable markets.”
“Can I ask you if this is the only reason you have called me here tonight? I thought the main idea was how to settle Salvatore’s debt and how to vindicate him and restore the family honor. But may I ask what would happen after we have taken justice into our hands, who will be the next in our family, to pay for that?”
“Luke, you are right and I have plans for that. I will arrange a private meeting with Tommaso, the head of the Liottas. As a Sicilian he is aware that with you out of jail, revenge must be taken. But I know him too well, to say he will agree to my proposition to him. We don’t want unnecessary misfortunes causing death to some of our beloved ones, and an inevitable police investigation into The Families.
“At that time, a contract was paid on your head by someone influential enough but not belonging to the Liottas. On that occasion, mistakenly your younger brother was killed instead. It is true that the killer belonged to the Liottas but acted without the approval from his Family. He worked freely on a handsome contract.
“In this way, we have a Machiavellian point that works in our favor and gives me the power to negotiate the matter with Tommaso. This will become only a matter of money and I’m prepared to pay well to strike this deal. As I always said, money is cheaper then blood. The Liottas will lose only one of their low ranked militia, a small pawn in their hierarchy, and I’ll generously pay them for such a loss. Honor will be restored to the Caruso’s and this case closed for ever. Capito?”
“Yes Uncle, I do understand. So, am I the one who has been selected to settle the score? If so, give me a week to prepare my plans. I’ll let you know when I’m ready for it.
End Part 2