People never notice the background of their lives. They walk around completely engrossed in their own here and now, never really peeking beyond the outskirts of their own situation. I don’t blame those people, when I was a young man I used to be the same way. I used to be obsessed over my jobs, the flight, the task, the kill. I was caught up in the feel and smell of my Irene’s body when I would creep in after a long trip and she would smile sleepily and wrap me in her arms. I used to totally immerse myself in the days spent with my sons, I tried so hard to hold on to them until they were grown.
I tried to hold on so hard that when Raymond decided to blow off college for a year to back pack through Italy to meet my side of the family, I cut him off. You know what good it did me? He went anyway, he met his Uncle Marcelo, and his wife Sophia, and they had told him. They told him why that side of the family excommunicated me and why me and my Irene got on that boat to opportunities.
He then told Gino, his older brother. I had forbid them to speak, but it only drove my boys, boys who had spent their whole lives bickering, closer together. Close enough that they made it their project to unravel the story.
The story of how I had gone to work for my only Uncle Giovanni, a powerful man. A man who controlled one of the biggest families.How I had started bussing tables in his restaurant, then I was waiting table, bringing back information overheard from the more affluent customers. They learned how I made my way from trading secrets to making them disappear, they learned that the life I had built was based on the suffering of others, and they were so ashamed that now I don’t have them to fixate on anymore.
Then my Irene was taken. Cancer. She fought hard, because that is just who she was. She fought through surgery and radiation therapy and chemo. She fought while trying to take care of a stubborn husband who refused to call her sons to her side. Through it all she never cried that I could see, she just kept cooking the cannelloni I liked and hugging me close at night, when I dragged my old bones in from another trip, another job. She just smiled and loved me ’til she couldn’t anymore, and I was too proud to let her call her sons.
They came to her funeral, they cried for their mother, and they spat at my feet the moment the grave was covered. My Irene was gone, and I was as good as dead to my sons. I was as good as dead to all that I had left in the world, and for what? My pride? My loyalty to being a soldier in Don Giovanni Jr’s army? Fighting the battle of more wealth and prosperity to a family which was built on the fear and suffering of others.
I had been too caught up in my here and now. In the things I could buy, and the life that was filled with luxury. In the fur coats and fancy jewelry, making sure Irene slept on silk and the boys could rub elbows with the high and mighty. So caught up in building my best case situation that I justified terrible things. They had a right to be ashamed, I don’t blame them. But I’ll be damned if I go to my grave letting it continue. I won’t go with the weight of fatherless homes, and torched businesses on my shoulders.
But it’s to my advantage that people never look up from their here and now. Looking around might make it hard for an old man to escape the notice of the new Don, sitting in a cafe. Lighting a cigar, waiting for his lady, never noticing the gun that I am about to take out, and end the family business.