In the morning they had temporally forgotten the terrible events at the Calabria Club and how badly Salvo was injured. Was he still critical and fighting to survive?
Rossana phoned the hospital and spoke with the ward Matron. She said that Salvo was still critical but in stable condition and he was allowed to receive close relatives.
Luke remembered the previous night, and gave thanks to God for his good luck to still be alive after the brutal attack. A miracle had saved him and Salvo from death.
But who was really behind the attempted murder, and wanted him out of the way? If it was Maso Garrone, was it because he still wanted Lola? Or if wasn’t him, was it because they suspected him to be behind Vito’s killing?
Certainly there wasn’t any impediment in Lola to be free; she could easily obtain a divorce any time she wished. They had lived separately for over three years, more than the time requested by the law of this country to concede a divorce.
So there must be something else behind this assault, something that he couldn’t explain or understand. Nevertheless the facts remained unchanged. What ever the reason was, he realized that a contract has been put on his head, so he must act carefully and be aware of any danger.
He must see Michael and see if he, through his acquaintances, had found any clues that were behind the contract. He, through time, had always avoided litigations and had refused to be involved in his family’s business. But this had cost him dearly. Innocently he had been secluded for three years behind bars. Coming out from jail The Family had compelled him to take revenge on Salvatore’s murder.
That has also been contrary to his principles. Now, more then ever, he felt he have been abandoned even by his own family. He was left alone, fighting against those who wanted him six foot under. Hell, why did he have to go through all this? Why wasn’t he left out of the business and allowed to peacefully enjoy a normal life like the millions of people living around him?
He had always wanted a simple peaceful, free life, particularly now after he had found Rosanna’s love. He wanted to stand by himself for his own principles and live his life in the way he liked better, having Rossana by his side, and together be themselves in their dreams. He wanted to travel with her, visiting the larger cities around the world, entertaining people in the most famous nightclubs, from Las Vegas to Paris, and from Rome to Tokyo. He wanted to enjoy the best that life could offer them, have fun together and make love to Rossana anytime they wished.
He admitted that one of his recurring dreams was to be rich and famous, and to see his name written in large fluorescent letter on billboards above the most important cabarets in the world. That was his dream. He was looking to have glory. He wanted his name and Rosanna’s to jointly appear in the local news. Yes, he was ambitious. Yes, he wanted people of the cosmopolitan world talking of him. But he was looking to be famous as a composer and a musician, and not certainly as a gangster.
And Lola? Damn her. Over the short time they have been together she had cost him so much. He wished to be able to work in a real money value how much Lola has cost him over the two years together in emotions and disillusions. Did he ever get anything back from her?
Very little has come back from her. It was nothing else but the illusory pleasure of sexual copulation, a cry of what real love is. Most likely any prostitute in the Cross could have given him a similar physical pleasure. She had been nothing but a bitch, all the time. She had been a heavy burden in his life.
He conclude, ‘I must get to the bottom of all this as soon as I can or else my dreams of glory and happiness with Rossana, will be destroyed before it starts.’
That morning, at the hospital, Luke met Maria. She was still there from the previous evening, in great despair and on the verge of exhaustion.
“Why is this happening to me? Why is God punishing me so cruelly?” Maria asked Luke, while tears welled in her dark eyes.
“Don’t despair… Salvo will be fine soon. Have you heard from the doctors? What have they said?”
“They only said that Salvo is in a critical condition and we have to wait and see. He is my only son, Luke. I cannot lose him.” And saying so, she burst into hysterical tears.
Don Beppino arrived at the hospital at this time and Maria seeing him, was overtaken by fresh commotion. A compassionated nurse came to her rescue.
“Don’t cry Mrs. Caruso,” the nurse was saying, “Please come with me. I’ll give you a medication so you’ll relax for a while. Don’t worry about Salvo. He’s a strong boy and he’ll make it.”
Maria was gently taken away by the nurse and Don Beppino came to sit next to Luke,
“Tell me what you know, Luke. Who ever is responsible for this will pay dearly. I’ve been told that another contract is on you, Luke. I checked with the Liottas. But it doesn’t come from them. They stick to the agreement we took. At the moment I don’t know who’s behind it and why.”
“Michael has promised to find out who paid the contract. I should know soon from him.”
“When you know more, send me a message, and I’ll take care of it. Capito?”
He had promised Maria to be with her to the hospital that afternoon. A specialist is to visit Salvo, and there could be some good news about his health.
Dr. Fergusson reassured Maria with, “A complete recovery of Salvo could be possible, but at this stage it’s premature to guarantee that. This is a long hard process that takes years to restore his full use of his legs. We need a miracle, but it’s still possible.”
“At least we’ve some hope, Maria. I’ll give you and Salvo all my help.”
“Yes Luke, you really love the boy. It means a lot to me.”
“You are having a difficult time, Maria. You must be brave for Salvo’s sake. He’ll need a lot of dedication and love from you. He could be in a wheelchair for a long time, and be in and out of hospital for physiotherapy. Bu he will rely on you, Maria, to work the miracle at home, slowly and patiently, devoting your time to him and making him exercise and activating his muscles with massages. At the end you’ll see your Salvo walking again. I know, it’ll be an exhaustingly long job for you, Maria. I will support you in the best possible way because I love the boy.”
“I don’t know how to thank you Luke. With your help we will be able to manage things.”
Returning home Luke found a message from Michael on his phone messages,
‘I got news for you. Come and see me this evening, we need to talk.’
‘What does Michael have in mind?’ Luke thought. ’Maybe he finally knows the name of the person who wants me dead. I’ll take Michael for dinner at the Sicilian bistro down from where he lives. After dinner, with a bottle of wine in front of us, we can talk.’
They enjoyed dinner at the bistro eating rice-meat balls cooked in the traditional Sicilian way and drunk some Hunter Valley Shiraz. Luke was in suspense as he waited nervously for Michael to explain the reason for the call.
After the waiter had cleared the table in front of them, Michael decided to get to the point.
“I heard that you were lucky last Saturday, Luke, but I’m sorry for poor Salvo. Finally I got the information I promised you. Someone in business told me that Garrone was the one who set the contract and the ‘The Black Angels’, the bike gang, eagerly had took it. I warn you, they are a dangerous mob and they’ll try again. Those people do anything for money and they are still after your skin.”
“I thought Garrone was the one, even though I don’t see the reason behind it. He has Lola and should know I haven’t any interest in her. Did I tell you that she came to my house looking for sex? She acted like a whore but I refused to make love to her.”
“You don’t really know women, Luke. Women are unpredictable. You never know what they’ll do next. I tell you, never believe them. Distorting the truth for them is a natural thing and they spit lies as easily as moving the beads of the rosary. I bet she had invented an interesting story for Garrone, to have him believe it.”
“Well yes, you may be right there. I wish to talk sooner then later with him and clarify a few points on this argument.”
“This is the main reason I called you. Later tonight I have to meet someone in Bondi. I have a delivery to make and I want you to come with me.”
“You should know and I have told you before, Michael, I’m not interested in that kind of business even if I needed the money.”
“I know that, but let me finish. This is the opportunity you have been waiting for. The person we are going to meet makes the difference.”
“Ok tell me more then.”
“Think how lucky you are. It’s Maso Garrone.”
“Thank you Michael. But don’t you think my presence would damage your working relationship with him?”
“Not really. The Family is also a bit suspicious of him. This is our first delivery to him. The Family has checked him up and it appears that he has never dealt in this stuff before. They are suspicious that somebody else is behind this business, and I’ve been instructed to find it out. That’s why I need someone to look after my back. I thought of you, knowing you also want to see him to settle things. Being together we can protect each other, just in case… Of course it’s your decision and if you don’t want to come, fine. I’ll ask The Family to arrange someone else to support me.”
“Ok Michael, you have convinced me. I know it’s risky but I must settle this business once and for all.”
“Fine, I was sure of you. I’ve a spare gun for you, just in case. It’s time to pick up the merchandise, and then we go to meet Garrone in Bondi.”
They reached Bondi in time. The building fronted the beach and the bright lights illuminated the promenade, where people still strolled around in the late hours. The night was calm and warm and in the semidarkness, on the beach, a few couples rested on their towels busy in love effusions.
Michael carried a business port with the merchandise in. They walked over to the main door of the condominium where Michael rang the bottom flat bell. He spoke in the intercom and introduced himself, and then the gate opened.
In the hall they were met by a voice, directing them to an open door, “Come in and take a sit. I’ll get a drink and I’ll be with you.”
A middle aged man with athletic looks was standing at the bar. He was barefoot and dressed only in a T shirt and casual pants.
The room was comfortable and elegant, furnished with a leather lounge and similar chairs. The bar was at the end of the room, with crystal glasses and bottles displayed on shelves illuminated by colored fluorescent tubes. Next to the bar a door opened into a dark corridor. The rest of the apartment was in darkness, creating the illusion that their host was the only person there, but all the same Michael sat watchfully.
Garrone returned with a large glass, half filled with ice cubes and scotch and sat in front of them in an armchair.
“I suppose you have the merchandise with you.” He asked.
. “Yes Mr.Garrone, and I suppose you have the cash ready. We can exchange our ports to finalize the deal.” Michael replied.
The ports changed hands at the bar were rapidly inspected. Their contents were evaluated, and they shook hands to confirm their approval.
“In the future always count on us. We are reliable with the goods, Mr. Garrone. You will find out we are the best.”
It was Luke now voicing up, “I like to introduce myself and I hope you don’t mind Mr. Garrone. I am Luke Caruso. Does this name ring a bell with you? Apparently we have some common connections.”
Garrone looked at Luke and his face whitened.
“There are several things to clarify, Mr. Garrone, including Lola.” Luke continued.
“Well yes…mmm, you really surprise me, but… Well… I admit that I have listened to Lola too much in the past. Somewhere I got things wrong, Luke. Well…mmm. If you know Lola you should understand me... It didn’t really come from me…”
“Ok fine. Then tell me why. Tell me also to which extent I have to thank you. There are three long years of my wonderful life lost, while I’ll been locked up in a cell. Does that concern you? I was innocent, Mr. Garrone. I had a lot of time there to think with pleasure of the man who deprived me of having a wife and to enjoy some good time. Do I have to tell you what I intended to do to him when the opportunity arose? No? You got enough imagination, I suppose…But thank you all the same, Mr. Garrone, and do you know that overnight, you and Lola have sunk my dreams of a beautiful life?”
“Luke, I was only partly responsible of your miseries. She has always manipulated things behind the stage. She always wants to appear in front of other people as the most innocent person. Tell me Luke, how much do you really know Lola?”
“One question to answer your question, Mr. Garrone; why did you put a new contract on me? Wasn’t it enough to kill my brother? Give me now a reason why you have to cripple my nephew, would you? Why have you done this? I warn you once and for ever. You may succeed in killing me, but know that my Family will make you pay for it. One way or the other you are a dead man, Mr. Garrone. Your days are numbered.”
‘I have nothing to do with the last contract. It came from someone else.”
“Be a man, Mr. Garrone, don’t be a coward and admit it. There is evidence directly pointing to you. Was that only because you wanted Lola so badly? Was that your only concern? You can have that whore till you die, but I have warned you already. Your end it’s coming sooner then expected. The Family will punish you for what you did to poor Salvo.”
“Honestly, it wasn’t me, Luke. She is the one who raised the contract. She only dreams of power and riches for herself. What is inside that case doesn’t belong to me. That coke is hers. That is her dream of richness and power. With that contract she wanted to punish you. She swore to kill you as the man who refused her seduction. Didn’t you know how revengeful she is? I told you before. Apparently you don’t know the real Lola well.”
It was then that Lola, scantly dressed, wearing only underwear, appeared from the corridor. She was in a fury. She had hidden in the dark, all the time, behind the door and listened to the conversation. A gun was in her hand and a homicidal look was in her eyes. Finally she showed the real Lola, the dangerous wild cat that she had always been.
She glanced at Garrone, and spat in his direction.
“You have betrayed me, Garrone. You have mercilessly sold me out tonight, without my consent. You deserve to pay for it.”
She raised the gun and shot him. The bullet penetrated his liver. He bent down and heavily fell into the chair. With an effort he moved his hand behind the cushion, where previously he had hidden a gun.
He raised his arm and blindly shot the six bullets in the cartridge. Lola was hit, and fell on the floor, with five bullets in her, but she was still conscious.
She rattled off, “You bastard…”
There was energy enough in her to shoot three more bullets in Garrone’s direction. An agonizing rattle exited his throat. No one could have possibly saved him.
Unexpectedly it was the conclusion of the act.
Luke and Michael were left with no other alternative but to quickly leave the apartment before the police arrived. There was no evidence to incriminate them.
On the way out a weak voice stopped them.
“Help me Luke, have mercy on me.”
“I cannot Lola. You have signed your destiny. You wanted too much and finished with nothing. But yes, were you looking for power to come from that powder? I can help you there.”
He went to the bar, and took a plastic bag from the port. Punched a hole in it, and returned to Lola.
“Taste how sweet is the glory you were looking for, it’s all yours, Lola.”
The white powdered coke spilled from the bag and coated her body and mixed with her blood and saliva. There was a weak final dying rattle from her.
Silently, Luke and Michael left the room. All was over and all the debts and contracts were finally paid out.