Story: Amore Ragazze (chapter 1)
Back to chapter list
Marlon Giovanni lied in the casket: his hands together, his eyes closed, his face pale as a sheet. He was not an old man. His hair was grey, but not without touches of black hair. He was not fat, but not in shape either. Giovanni had been shot before, but this is not what took his life. The Godfather of the Giovanni mob family had died in his bed, taken by cancer. The acting boss of the family was standing over him: the man’s wife of twenty-seven years, Jackie Giovanni. She stood over her husband, dressed in all black. She turned around and came to the podium. Seated in the church were over a hundred people paying their final respects to the mob boss. In front of her were her three children. Her only son, Angelo, held his head up, his teeth clenched together, fighting tears. His hair was dark brown, his eyes hazel. Underneath his expensive black suit was a well-built body. He had been born two years after his parents’ marriage. Seated next to him was his adopted sister, Amy. Amy was actually Angelo’s cousin, the daughter of Marlon’s sister. She cried heavily for her uncle’s death. Angelo held her hand tightly. Amy’s brown hair was much lighter, the same color as her eyes. She was very slim.
Lastly, their youngest sister, Marlon’s only daughter, Rachel Giovanni, sat in the chair emotionless. She was quite tall, and matched her brother in fitness. Her hair was completely black, probably dyed, stretching down to her lower back. Black bangs almost covered her hazel eyes, which were staring off into space. She glanced at her watch and then folded her arms.
Jackie Giovanni sighed heavily. Her husband’s eulogy would not be easy to recite:
“The day after my husband, Marlon Giovanni passed away,” Her voice was in a low cadence with some rasp to it, yet gentle, “I read the headlines of the New York Post: ‘Mob Boss Dies.’”
She hesitated and shook her head. Rachel pondered the accuracy of the headline.
“I feel sorry,” Jackie continued, “For the people at the post,” she hung her head and hesitated before looking into the audience with confidence, “Because they will never know the real Marlon Giovanni: the loyal husband, the kind father, the diplomat, the disciplined worker. I can’t refrain from speaking about the rumors surrounding him,” she held her index finger up, “But everyone in this room, family, friends, co-workers, all knew the real Marlon Giovanni.”
Very few people in the church had ever heard Jackie speak in public before. Everyone was hypnotized by her strong presence, her gift of words, and her gentle nature. Her strength matched the notable diplomatic power Don Giovanni had brought to the streets of Brooklyn.
“He loved his children, and his niece Amy who he took to raise as his own daughter after his sister Jade passed away. He helped her with her homework every night and,” she chuckled slightly, “You know I have to tell you, Marlon was not a crying man. He was the toughest son of a bitch I’ve ever known,” a few laughs escaped from the audience, “But when he saw Amy accept her college diploma, he shed a few tears.”
By now, Amy fell forward crying. Angelo held onto her and rubbed her back. Rachel looked over towards them. There was a hint of disdain in her eyes. Angelo caught a whiff of it as he looked towards his sister. He too had disdain in his eyes towards his sister. Instead of staring at her siblings, Rachel turned around to look at everyone else. Across the aisle were several members of the five families. Frankie Columbo caught Rachel’s eye, the long-time rival of the Giovanni family. He was a fat man who always wore a pompadour toupee along with a shiny blue suit.
However, Rachel’s eye glanced at the young girl sitting next to him. She almost shined in this gathering of dark suits. The girl had curly blonde hair and blue eyes. Her complexion was much lighter than everyone else’s. While Rachel came to the conclusion that she was Columbo’s daughter, she didn’t look like him at all. If she was in fact related to the mob boss, she definitely received all of her mother’s genes. The blonde looked over towards Rachel. As soon as the young girl’s blue eyes met with her own hazel-eyes, Rachel turned around to watch her mother.
“I know,” she continued, “We’re all going to miss him and his funny personality. I’m not entirely sure where we go when we die. Maybe Marlon is heaven, maybe he has been reincarnated,” she paused for a second and rolled her eyes, “Maybe he’s in the big… scientology spaceship thing,” Her sarcastic comment drew some laughs from the crowd, even a slight smirk from Amy, “I will carry on for my husband.”
Her eyes met each one of the heads of the five families seated in the audience. Columbo himself took special notice of her last remark. Jackie’s eyes met with his. Nobody in the audience could pick up the tension from this glance that would eventually lead to the war that was to come.
Standing before Angelo was a giant: a 6’5 bodybuilder with grayish hair. His name was Vinnie Montana. If the Giovanni house became haunted, this man’s presence alone would scare the ghosts away. As intimidating as he may have been, Vinnie showed compassionate sympathy towards the son as he cautiously took his hand into his own:
“I am deeply sorry for your loss.” His voice was low, “Don Giovanni was a great man. I know you will carry on for him.”
“Thank you Vinnie,” Angelo nodded his head and smiled, “You were loyal to my father, I won’t forget that.”
“Thank you,” He let go of the son’s hand. “May I go see Jackie now?”
“Um,” Angelo turned his head and back towards Vinnie, “I think she’s busy at the moment. Why don’t you grab yourself a drink? I’ll let her know you want to see her.”
Vinnie Montana bowed his head and walked away. Everybody at the reception stepped back as the big man slowly walked towards the bar. People were afraid of the man. Even the bartender took special care as the giant ordered a pint of Guiness. He took his drink with an intense calm and stood off to the side. Vinnie didn't sit down. There was a rumor around the city that he never sat down. He only stood up.
Rachel was sitting at an empty table sipping a glass of white wine. She began to feel somewhat claustrophobic with endless amounts of people standing all around her inside this cathedral of a room. Two black-suited men stood near her holding drinks.
“Me and Marley,” Charlie, the shorter, grey-haired man, reminisced about his late boss full of laughter, “I mean, we’re in the middle of the fuckin’ library, and this stupid bitch will not stop talking.”
Sal, the taller man with brown hair, it was obviously dyed, was laughing at his fellow capo. Charlie held his pinkie and thumb to his face. He was imitating the girl with a high-pitched annoying voice:
“Yeah, my friend on Facebook was supposed to send me some electronic vibrator, but I never got it-“
“A what?” Sal interrupted, leaning closer to his friend.
“I don’t know,” Charlie said in his normal voice, “I don’t know what the fuck they do on Facebook, I’m not on it. But this girl-“
“Wait a minute,” Sal said, “You’re not on Facebook? How can you not be on Facebook, everyone is on Facebook?”
“Oh,” Charlie snorted, “Is it a rule? Is there some law in New York State that you have to have a god-damn Facebook account?” Sal tried to interject, but Charlie would not stop, “Oh the FBI’s got a file on me for loan-sharking, racketeering, robbery, yelling at the pope, but oh I’m not on Facebook?” His tone became overly sarcastic, “Oh I could do twenty to thirty years for not being on Facebook!”
Rachel’s eyes wavered towards her father’s Neanderthalic colleagues with disdain.
Sal took a sip of his drink before engaging his friend in debate, “Don’t you know how much easier it is to do business and make connections on Facebook?”
“Do business?” Charlie snapped, “In the kind of work we’re in? Are you out of your-“
“No, no, no! The greeting card business dumbass!”
“Oh give me a fuckin’ break,” Charlie took a quick sip, “We’ve got fifteen stores across the city. What the hell you need to be on Facebook for? And the whole adding friends thing is stupid! ‘Todd wants to be your friend.’ Some guy I’ve never heard of. You know if someone came up to you on the street and said, ‘Will you be my friend?’ You’d look at him as if he was a god-damn retard!”
“Oh now I see,” Sal smiled, “You’re not on Facebook, because you don’t HAVE any friends!”
“Fuck you!” Charlie snorted back.
“You know why?” Sal chuckled, “It’s because you’re a faggot.”
“No,” Charlie said, “You’re a faggot because you’re on facebook.”
“Yeah that makes a lot of sense,” Sal said, “Everybody on facebook is faggot. That makes a lot of fucking sense.”
Their conversation was really starting to get on Rachel’s nerves. She couldn’t take any more offensive talk and got up to walk away. Sal and Charlie didn’t even notice her. As she stormed across the sea of people, an inscrutable look came upon the young girl’s face. Anger, frustration, melancholy all seemed to canvas her eyes and mouth. However, there was one who knew her expressions all too well:
“Hey Vampira!” Angelo grabbed Rachel’s arm. She yanked her brother’s hand off of her and flashed her wide-angry eyes towards him. “You think you could at least try to look sad that our father is dead?”
“What do you want me to do Angelo?” Rachel’s voice was a bit deeper than one would expect, but still feminine, “Lie face down, slam my fists on the ground, and scream like a two year old?”
Angelo closed his eyes and cracked his knuckles.
Rachel raised her eyebrows and spoke in a sarcastic way, “What are you gonna do, hit me?”
“You know,” Angelo tried to keep his temper, “Just when I think you can’t possibly get any more apathetic, you manage to top yourself.”
Rachel rolled her eyes, “Fuck you Angelo. You kissed dad’s ass every day of your life just cause you wanna run the family yourself.”
“Well fuck you!” His voice became so loud, the people around him were starting to stare, “At least I care about my family, you’ve never cared about anyone but yourself.”
“I didn’t ask,” Rachel screamed, “To be born into a crime family!”
“Yeah,” Angelo looked around angrily, “Why don’t you say it just a little louder so everyone can hear it!”
“HEY!” A loud cry came from a voice that was normally soft and gentle. It was the voice of Amy who stood in-between them. She was shorter than her adopted sister, but carried herself as if she was ten feet tall. The two blood siblings looked her way. Amy waited for them to calm down and for the people around to turn their eyes away from the warring family, “Would you two call in a truce for today? Our father’s funeral and you two are-“
“OUR father Amy?” Rachel snapped.
The brother’s eyes lit up. Truth be told, Angelo wanted to smack his sister across the face. However, Angelo was not the kind of man who would put his hands on another woman, much less his own sister.
Amy did not lash out either. Instead she turned towards her adopted brother, “Mom wants to start the meeting.”
Angelo gave his black-haired sister one last daggering look before walking off. Rachel now turned towards her cousin. She and Amy had always gotten along well, in deference to her brother, but she could never view her as a sister. As time went by, the two grew further apart.
“Rach,” Amy’s voice was diplomatic, “I know you and dad didn’t get along that well, but you gotta understand that he loved you.”
Rachel rolled her eyes, “Not as much as he loved you. You were the daughter he always wanted Amy.”
“That’s not true,” Amy put her hand on her sister’s shoulder. Rachel’s eyes moved suspiciously towards her cousin’s hand, “He really did love you Rach. You know he-“
“Amy,” Rachel pushed her hand away, “I don’t want to hear about it right now.”
Amy nodded her head to respect her sister’s request and hugged her, “You’re still a sister to me Rachel.” Rachel put an arm on her cousin’s back before they broke their embrace.
Amy walked towards Frankie Columbo. He was standing, a plate of food in hand, talking with one of the guests. The young blonde girl stood right next to him, a fish out of water. Amy fearlessly interrupted the conversation and spoke to the man. Rachel couldn’t hear the conversation. Amy was probably telling him about the meeting with her mother and the rest of the mob bosses. Columbo did not appear to care too much for Amy. His reputation as a misogynist was well known. However, he nodded before Amy walked away. While Columbo shook the man’s hand, the blonde girl turned her head towards Rachel. This time, she didn’t look away. Their eyes stared into each other incomprehensibly until Columbo said something to her. Rachel sat down on a nearby table. She still wouldn’t take her eyes off the girl.
Columbo walked away, leaving the girl alone. She turned back towards Rachel and their eyes met again. By now, Rachel could scan the girl’s entire body. By now, the dark-haired girl had memorized her blonde curls and light skinned face. She had an incredibly slim body, not a trace of fat on her. She almost came to the conclusion that her father never fed her. She wore a conservative black dress with a gray sweater over it. Curiously, she wore white gloves, which stood out from the dress. These were matched with white boots. The blonde girl looked to see that Columbo was completely gone and walked towards Rachel. The daughter of the bereaved wasn’t sure what to do.
“Hello,” she said politely without smiling, “I’m Julia.” Her voice was so soft and gentle. Rachel was never one for clichés, but she would swear this girl had the voice of an angel.
“Hi,” Rachel said scanning Julia’s body.
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” Julia brought her hands together at her chest. Rachel began to see that the gloves were leather, moving up into her sleeves. She held the chair across from her, “May I sit down?”
Rachel shrugged her shoulders. Julia took this as a yes.
“I guess,” Julia said as she sat down, “Our fathers worked together.” So Columbo was her father.
“I guess so,” Rachel said, “Although I’m not sure they really worked together so much as they were in competition.” The blonde’s presence seemed to be calming the frustrated raven-hair down, but she would now not look the blonde in the eyes.
“Yeah,” Julia said, “To be honest with you, my father was not very enthusiastic to come here.”
“Well,” Rachel raised her eyebrows, her eyes still looking away, “That makes two of us.”
Julia felt some hostility escaping from Rachel. She was silent for a second looking at her very closely. Her halter dress matched her dark black hair. Her face had a natural beauty quality to it, not perfect, but cute. “Am I bothering you? Do you want me to leave?”
“That depends,” Rachel said without moving or even blinking, “Did your father send you to get information out of me? Because I don’t have anything to do with my family’s business.”
Julia felt a little insulted being asked this question, but answered calmly, “No, I’m not involved with the business either.”
“So?” Rachel replied.
Julia’s eyes vacillated, “So what?”
“What do you want?” Rachel asked, once again keeping her eyes away from the blonde.
Julia could have very easily dismissed this girl and walked away. However, the blonde decided to lay all her cards on the table. She sighed and looked down to her hands. One of Rachel’s eyes caught weft of Julia’s nervousness:
“You wanna know the truth?” Julia said looking back up towards Rachel. There was a long pause before she came out with, “I think you’re cute.”
Rachel now turned her entire body straight towards Julia. Every look of shock Julia could think of had merged into one on Rachel’s face. The blonde’s heart began to race. What would this girl say in response?
“What did you say your name was again?” Rachel asked.
“Julia,” She immediately replied.
After a second’s hesitation, Rachel reached for Julia’s hand, “I’m Rachel.”
Their hands shook. Julia smiled and easily replied, “I know.”
Julia could have sworn that Rachel cracked a smile.
“Jackie I want to thank you for taking the time to organize this meeting.”
Don Gotti may have been an elderly man, but he practically ran all of Manhattan. The Giovanni family ran the streets of Brooklyn while the Columbo family controlled Queens. Their infamous rivalry stirred from territorial arguments, mostly around the Queens / Brooklyn border. Jackie Giovanni and Frankie Columbo sat on opposite sides of the large round table. Jackie’s son and adopted daughter sat next to her. Beside Columbo was Snakes, his Consigliere, and his bodyguard, Bobby Russo. Bobby was an interesting bodyguard; he was not overly intimidating, in defference to Vinnie Montana. He looked like a harmless college kid who hit the gym every so often. Bobby's presense did however make Columbo more imitimidating, which was probably the case. Snakes was a little more intimidating, but still not as bad as his boss. Gotti’s men stood behind him. The other families of Jersey City and The Bronx were also represented. The room was small, but they liked it that way.
“I’m sorry we have to meet under these circumstances,” Gotti said, “I worked with Marlon for years, and he was a man of loyalty, practicality, and strength. I think I speak for everyone, Jackie, when I say Marlon Giovanni will be missed.”
Jackie closed her eyes and nodded in respect towards Gotti. Amy tried to hold back her tears.
“Yeah yeah,” Columbo said sipping his wine glass, “Can we move it along? I’d like to get out of here sometime today.”
Angelo gave his father’s rival a dirty look, “You wanna show a little respect for once in your life Frank? It’s probably you who drove him to his grave-“ Angelo’s voice became louder.
“Angelo,” Jackie calmed him down looking at his with disappointment.
“All right,” Gotti said, “Well let’s get right down to it.” Gotti’s voice was direct and business-like, “I know Marlon’s passing has come as a big shock to all of us, but business must move forward. Who will be the Giovanni family’s acting boss?”
“Why are we even having this conversation?” Columbo snorted. He pointed towards Angelo while keeping his eyes on Gotti, “We know Boy-Wonder over here is taking over for his father.”
“Hey,” Angelo stood up aggressively, “Does this asshole has to insult me like that?”
A squabble broke out with several of the men standing up and yelling.
“Enough!” Jackie’s voice was loud enough to create silence in the room. Now standing, she looked at her son who reluctantly sat down. Columbo and the others sat down as well. Jackie sighed, but scanned the round table of her husband’s fellow workers: “My son is not taking over the family business.” Whispers now came into the room. Jackie continued, “I am.”
By now, all eyes were focused on Jackie. For several seconds, it was so quiet, everyone could hear their necks turn.
“This is a joke,” one man said, “Right?”
“No,” Jackie said, “It’s in his will. Marlon and I had talked about the future of the family business, who would take over after him. I helped Marlon a lot with the family business, and it was his wish that when he passed for me to take over.”
Angelo did not protest this idea.
“Are you fuckin’ kidding me?” Columbo stood up angrily, “A woman as the boss? It’s bad enough that cocksucker made this goddamned school girl his Consigliere,” Columbo was pointing towards Amy who hung her head, “But now I have to deal with a woman all the time?”
“I’m gonna fucking kill you,” Angelo stood up trying to run around the table. Jackie was unable to hold him.
Snakes ran towards him, but both were halted as the old Gotti stood up holding their chests.
“Easy Easy!” He shouted, “Cut it out both of you, you’re gonna give me a heart attack. Sit down!”
Angelo and Snakes sat back in their respected chairs. Columbo and Jackie both stared at each other with disdain.
“Now,” Gotti sat down, “I will admit that this is odd, to say the least, but we have to honor a dying man’s wish.” He now looked to Jackie, “However, Jackie, I do have to honor Frankie’s concern. Can you lead not only your family, but work together with the rest of us?”
“Gentlemen,” Jackie once again spoke diplomatically, taking turns looking everyone in the eye, “Marlon was one of a kind, I know that. I may not be able to fill his shoes, but it’s not because I’m a woman. That has nothing to do with anything. I’m not here with some kind of feminist agenda trying to get us to move away from the mob business into the flower business.” By now, she had everyone’s attention, “My only intention is to, as Don Gotti said, keep business moving forward.” She looked towards Amy who stared at her admirably, “I know when my husband made Amy his Consigliere that was met with some hostility. But has she not proven herself to you all? Has her intelligence and business creativity not saved us millions?”
There were soft sounds of agreement coming across the table.
“I don’t plan on being the boss of this family forever. I am simply carrying on for my husband until things are settled and Angelo is ready to take the position.”
Gotti nodded his head, “Well, I trusted Marlon like a brother. And Jackie, so far you have proven yourself to be a eloquent, trustworthy individual.” He stood up and offered his hand, “I look forward to working with you Don Giovanni.”
Don Giovanni and Don Gotti shook hands. The others welcomed the new boss, with the exception of Columbo who looked down to the ground.
“All right,” Gotti said, “Here’s how you can prove your worth. We’re having a problem with this company president over on Wall Street. He laid off a lot of people this week, many of whom are not just under our protection, but Columbo, Giovanni, everyone’s.”
“I heard about that,” Jackie said. She looked to Amy, “Amy, what was the man’s name again?”
“Berkhalter,” she responded immediately without looking through her papers.
“Berkhalter,” Jackie said, “New guy, hard headed, doesn’t want any involvement with the five families.”
“He needs a little persuasion,” Gotti said, “Make it happen.”
“I’ll get Vinnie Montana on it,” Jackie responded.
Gotti's eyebrows lifted hearing her say this, “You’re sending Montana?”
Jackie nodded. Gotti also nodded knowing that this job would be done. They both sat down and carried on with the meeting.
“So Amy ends up becoming a valedictorian, and I get kicked out of school. My dad was so pissed, you wouldn’t believe it.”
Rachel and Julia had been talking for a while, Rachel having explained her story of college.
“Well that sucks,” Julia said, “My father wouldn’t even let me go to college. I’m just gonna marry someone and become a submissive housewife.”
“No offense, but from what I’ve heard, you’re dad sounds like a douchebag.”
“Hey,” Julia replied, “He’s still my father. Honor thy mother and father. But it sounds like your dad was cool. He even took in your cousin.”
“Yeah he did.”
“What happened exactly, if you don’t mind me asking?”
Rachel did mind being constantly asked about her perfect cousin Amy, but she began to talk to her, “Well my Aunt Jade, she’s my father’s sister. They were really close. Her husband was murdered shortly after Amy was born. A few years later, Aunt Jade got cancer. Amy had no family, so my father adopted her as his daughter.”
“Wow,” Julia said, “That’s so sad. Your father had a big heart.”
“Yeah for her,” Rachel snorted, “Angelo pretty much was the prince of the family, but I always felt like my parents paid more attention to Amy because they wanted to make her feel more part of the family. I got shoved off to the side.”
Julia didn’t know how to respond to this, “I kind of wish I had a sister. Although-“ She looked into Rachel’s eyes, “I wish I had anybody. My mother’s gone, my father treats me like I’m his property. I wish I had somebody.”
A long silence came over the table. The two of them tuned out the crowd noise around them. Julia placed her white gloved hand on top of Rachel’s. It was impossible to decipher what these two were thinking, but there was some connection being made there.
“Hey Vampira,” Angelo’s voice broke the girls’ embrace, “I think we’re gonna get going.” Angelo looked over to Julia, knowing full well who she was, “Ah, you must be Julia.” He shook her hand, “Frankie’s daughter.”
“Nice to finally meet you…” Julia didn’t know his name.
“Angelo,” he smiled.
“More like asshole,” Rachel leaned her face onto her hand.
Angelo ignored his sister and turned Julia’s hand to examine her white gloves:
“Wearing white gloves to a funeral, your father wants to keep you pure?”
“No,” Julia hesitated, “My mother gave them to me.”
“Oh right,” Angelo said, “I’m sorry to hear about your mother.”
“It’s okay,” the girl answered, “That was years ago. I’m so sorry about your father.”
Angelo hung his head down slightly, “Yes, he was a great man, a great man indeed.”
“JULIA!” A loud voice appeared from the distance. It was Columbo storming towards them angrily. Snakes was beside him. Julia noticed she was still holding Angelo’s hand. She quickly let go, “C’mon we’re leaving, pick it up!”
“Yes sir,” Julia began to leave without saying goodbye to the others. She did turn to give one last glace towards Rachel, who returned the look. Bobby held her by the shoulder.
“You stay away from her!” Columbo pointed at Angelo.
Angelo rolled his eyes, “Relax Frankie, it’s bad enough I have to look at your shit-face at the meetings without having you be my father-in-law!” He quickly walked away hoping to get the last laugh in.
Columbo didn’t have any more energy to back at his rival’s son. He simply sighed and looked towards Rachel. She wasn’t threatened by him at all.
“Maybe I’ll go out with her.” Rachel was actually being serious, but Columbo took it as a joke.
“Aren’t you the daughter Giovanni hated?” He asked her.
Rachel’s now had a disgusted look on her face, “What?”
“C’mon Snakes,” Columbo told his colleague, “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Columbo, Snakes, Bobby and Julia began to walk away. The blonde had been texting before her father scolded her. Rachel began to feel teardrops gathering in her eyes, but she would never allow herself to cry. She had to be tough all the time.
“You okay?” A voice came from behind. Rachel turned to see her mother standing behind her. She had an honest face, an honest tone.
“No,” Rachel said as she got up feeling terrible.
Jackie didn’t say anything. Instead, Jackie hugged her daughter. Rachel returned the affection. Rachel could hear her mother sigh real tears. She couldn’t blame a woman who just lost her husband of twenty-seven years for crying. Her mother was tough, but not that tough. Rachel would never admit that she enjoyed her mother’s embrace. It was just one of those occasions where they needed each other.
“Come on,” is all Jackie said before walking off to talk to Angelo.
Rachel grabbed her purse before hearing a chime from her phone. She checked the phone to see she had received a text:
“I’ll be in Brooklyn Friday night. You wanna catch a movie? –Julia”
[End notes: End of Chapter 1, more to come, let me know what you think.
In case you don’t know, “Consigliere” is Italian for “Counselor” and is the third in command of the Mafia family, after Boss and Underboss. In this case, Jackie is the boss, Angelo is the underboss, and Amy is Consigliere.]
Back to chapter list