With a gun in his hand, and the first to do time, the first of the gang to die.
If it's not too big an ask, I would appreciate feedback on this of all chapters.
It's been good, lads.
Love ye all.
xo Lornaigh Ni Ionnrachtaigh
First of the Gang to Die
First of the Gang to Die
"Honestly, mom, I don't get what the big fricking deal is!" I holler as I hunt around our apartment for some clothes. Black, right? That's what she said on the phone, anyway. I doubt showing up to her house in skinny jeans and a t-shirt that I haven't washed since God knows when would create such a good impression. Hmm, maybe my Batman shirt? Nah-the chocolate stain from where I went ganrly on a buncha Reece's Pieces with Jen a few weeks back is still there. Ya rub and ya rub, but it doesn't come out. "It's just visiting some old lady!" Shit! My black good trousers are too small for me. I can't tell mom or she'll freak again; she gets all pissy when I put on weight. "Anyway, she sounded pretty nice on the phone!"
Oh man, I can hear her coming. Prepare for the shit to hit the fan in three...two...one...
"BANDIT LEE WAY!" Heuston, we have lift-off. Repeat, we have lift-off. "'Just some old lady'? 'Seems pretty nice'?! That bitch ruined my life!" She storms over to me, blond hair falling messily from the bun she has pulled it into. Her brown eyes are stern and serious from behind her glasses, but I can see the hurt and the sadness swirling around in them. I sigh and look down at her, (yeah; my mom is actually pretty tall, but I pass her out. I was five ten by the time I was thirteen) trying to be kind. The fact is, I really wanna do this. "Bandit. Please don't do this. You're hurting me a lot by doing it. You know what I think about my family. And you-" she takes a shuddery breath and cocks her head. "I can promise that you'll find it upsetting. Please, B. Don't go."
"Mom..." I sigh again, trying not to tear up. Dammit, why does she bring up this shit? She knows I get annoyed when I get upset, and she knows talking about hurting her upsets me. Hold it together, Bandit; hold it together. No girly shit. "Mom, I'm seventeen now. I'm an adult. I can do my own thing."
"That's not true, young lady! You're still just a child! Don't-"
"You had me when you were seventeen," I inject quickly, and she stammers angrily at me. "And I've made up my mind, mom. I wanna meet her. I'm sick of my friends asking about my family and I don't know anything about them. Anyway, I don't get why you think they suck so much. They're not monsters or anything." I try to make the best of this shitbag of a situation. "Not like gay, sparkly vampires or something."
Mom doesn't smile. She stays tight-lipped and a little pink, amid my room full of dirty clothes, posters, assorted books and random crap. I don't inherit her OCD-like complex where everything's neat and tidy, where this has a certain place and that can't go there, Bandit. She picks up a Blood on the Dancefloor shirt, sneers at it, and throws it back on the ground. It's like she's judging a part of me and throwing it away like trash.
"You are the most stubborn person I have ever met," she hisses, tears in her eyes. Oh God, now I've made her cry. Pretty soon she'll be howling about how much she's given up for me, how it was soooo hard raising a baby on her own, and then, oh then, she'll bring up Dad..."Such a stubborn, ungrateful little girl. I gave up my dreams for you, Bandit." Here we go. "I gave up my friends, my hopes and freedom for you. That isn't easy, y'know." Gee, thanks mom. Love you too. "And then-" her lip trembles and she shuts her eyes, placing her hand over her mouth. "Your father..."
"Mom, look, I don't wanna have this conversation again," I mutter under my breath as she bursts into tears. I'm not being a bitch, I just...I don't see eye to eye with my mother. She's kinda dreamy and ditzy, and dramatic at the best of time. She works as an artist and a sculptor, and puts on the occasional show; Lindsey Ballato she goes by now. That's my father's surname; I never knew him. Mom constantly rabbits on about him, how gorgeous he was, how nice and how caring-until he left her when she got knocked up with me, that is. Her maiden name is Way-I never get why she doesn't use it, it's hella awesome. I use it all the goddamn time, I think it's such a cool name, compared to Smith or Johnson or White or something. I have never met my mother's relatives; any of them.
That's what we're bitching about, y'see. Since the dawn of time (or, well, my birth) my mom has always gone on about how ashamed of her family she is. I know her mom, my grandmother, also known as Amina, died when she had my mom. Childbirth and all that shit. So, my mom's grandmom took care of her until Lindsey-who's real name is Linzia, but she hates it-ran away at sixteen, up the creek with me. My mom is an only kid and I know her grandmother is still alive, because she contacted my mom last week, wanting to see me.
I wouldn't have found out unless I was feeling housewife-y that day and was going through the answering machine when this voice stood out amongst the others-my few friends, the neighbours, mom's arty weirdo people-all deep and...as racist and uneducated as this sounds, not American. I know my mom is of some sort of Italian heritage but once I asked and she went crazy mad on my ass. Like all, don't you bring that up with me and you know what I think about my family. I was like, Jeez mom, chillax okay? I just figured it might be kinda cool if our average Italian connections were a bit more than eating pizza and watching The Sopranos.
So, anyway, here I am, standing in our kitchen and listening to this old woman on our crappy phone talking to my mom about missing her and loving her and then bam, she says my name. I still have not met my granddaughter, Linzia, the throaty accent had told me. She is of age now. Then the voice had darkened considerably, and sounded kinda scary, like that chick from Paranormal Activity. "She deserves to know about her family."
I personally don't see what the big fucking deal is. I want to go visit my great-grandma, so what? Everyone knows their grandparents, or at least their mom doesn't get all PMS-y on their ass when they try to make contact with them.
"Mom," I say a little firmly. "I want to go meet her. I know you don't like her but that's you. I don't want the same life as you." Oh no Bandit, what are you saying? Stop. Stop. "I don't want to end up pregant and stuff and having no family to turn to. I wanna meet her, mom. And get on with her." Bandit, calm your tits. The woman will rip your goddamn face off. "I don't want to hear about why you don't like her, mom. I've had it for seventeen years. It's time I move on."
Jesus Christ, Bandit. You've killed yourself.
Mom just looks at me, all hurt and bruised. She shakes her head slowly as she contemplates various thoughts and phrases that pass through her mind; I can read her like an open book. Eventually, the phone rings, thank the motherfucking Lord. Mom was gonna turn into a basilisk there and burn through me or something.
She storms from my room and I hear her slam the door up above in the corridor. She grabs the mobile trilling and barks Jessicka's name into it; my mom never really explodes right out at me, she just bottles it up in a totally mature and non-stupid way at all. (Note severe sarcasm.) It's like living with those bitches from America's Next Top Model. I guess I was a bit harsh but ya know...things need to be said around here. I amn't some twelve year old with pigtails who obeys her faithfully and watches Pokemon and stuff. I'm seventeen. College is a-coming next year. And yeah, I still watch Pokemon, but in the privacy of my own room when mom's working.
I stand in my room, sighing and stranded in an island of clothes. I move towards the door and shut it, wondering what the fuck I should wear. I was all prepared to wear what I wear every day, t-shirts and shit. But she said specifically black. And feminine. And respectful. That actually made me laugh, like legit. I own one skirt and I look like a blow-up doll in it. A fat, pale blow-up doll. Every estranged grandmother's dream.
I decide to bite the bullet and reach for my skirt, stuffed into a corner of my wardrobe. It's wrinkled and shit, and I'm pretty sure it won't fit me due to my eating habits. Mom used say I'm not fat, I was just chubby or something. She never says that anymore; instead I get glared at whenever I touch a morsel of food. My former names were Bumble B, Lady B, even the Binator. Now it's just Bandit. Or young lady. Or missy.
I find an oversized black shirt hanging up and drape it around me. Oh great, now I look like a guy. Can you even get guy blow-up dolls? Shaking my head at my stubborn ugliness, I manage to pull up the skirt with a whole lot of huffing and heaving, and, true to my word, it sticks out like a cone or some shit. It highlights the fact that my thighs certainly ain't the skinniest and I have to say this does not please me. Nonetheless, I pull up some pantyhose and my Cons. I know they don't scream 'feminine' but it's between them and the most horrendous school shoes on the face of the earth. I shrug, pass a brush through some of my hair and leave my bedroom.
Mom is outside on the landing, sniffling and dabbing at her eyes as she listens to Jess on the phone, some artist she works with. She wants to scream and holler at me, I know; but she's too upset to try and bother. Our eyes meet across the room for a moment or two; then she sniffs and turns away from me. I know she doesn't want me to do this; but I want to.
I have to.
As I walk up to the towering mansion above me I must ponder: am I on LSD or some shit and I've made my way to the wrong address? In all my years of living in LA I've never been down here. I don't know where exactly I am; I just grabbed the bus to Downtown and wound up at Little Italy. I'd never been to Little Italy before since my mom would probably put me in front of a firing squad if I did; she doesn't even let me watch Friends because she hates Joey with a fiery passion. I don't get how she can be so blatantly racist to Italians when she comes from them.
Anyway, I was walking along the little side streets, wondering where the crap I should go-and I ask this old lady where Viale di Via is. She gasps at me and mutters something under her breath. Obviously I don't speak fluent freaking Italian so I just ask her if she knows it again, real polite and stuff. Like, legit, she was just staring at me. Not a glare, not quite, but more shocked than anything...so weird. Eventually she points down this road and hobbles away like Dobby or something, eyes big, just staring at me.
And so here I am, walking down this 'Viale di Via'. The address I was given is 1; Viale di Via; Piccola Italia; Los Angeles. It's pretty obvious which house I'm frequenting-there's only one on the goddamn street. Suddenly I've gone from bustling streets and tons of people to a barren road that seems to be in the dead of winter even though it's August now. The trees are dying and gnarled and the wind seems to whisper through the leaves-creepy shit. I get freaked out by Courage the Cowardly Dog, seriously. Walking down this place I don't know, on my own, being a chick, wearing a skirt. I feel like I'm straight outta the cast of Law & Order. I'm gonna be killed and then it turns out my science teacher kills me or something.
I keep on walking, even though my feet are killing me after trotting about for a good few hours, catching the bus and whatnot. I forgot my iPod today, because I'm a total genius and all, so I was deprived of listening to the lastest additions to my library. I just walk on, my shoulder bag slapping my thigh every so often, catching my breath and trying to sort out what I'm gonna say. Hello Missus Way, I'm Bandit, your granddaughter. So nice to meet you. Nah, too kiss-ass. Yo, Momma Way, B-to-the-andit here, yo granddizzle, byotch! Hmm...bit too MC-Hammer. Eventually I sigh and shrug at my awkwardness, turning to the path above me.
The first thing that scares the living shit out of me is the gate. I mean, it's real pretty and shit, but it creaks like those real cliche ones in the horror movies. Ya know, when a girl is walking down a road on her own in too tight black clothes tracking down her estranged Italian great-grandmother (I got told she's eighty three now; good to know, so it looks like I won't be talking to her about Justin Bieber or some shit) and then some weird monster mutant/Britney Spears crossover pops outta a bush and eats my face off...
This is why no one hangs out with you, Bandit. This is why.
The garden is beautiful-full of roses. I mean, full. The autumn growth spurt is soon to set in and the flowers are so neat and well looked after; like a deathly ominous orchard. Like goth shit, legit. It seems this whole thing is all black and stuff; which don't get me wrong, is cool and all, seeing as I ain't exactly the girly type, but it is literally everywhere. The letterbox is old-fashioned and rusted-a little swirly 'W' is on it. The house itself...holy Wolverine tits. It makes the Playboy Mansion look like a shack.
Shaking just a little, I walk up to the front door, shuffling my feet and mentally begging my knees to stop fucking quivering, you guys. I'm sure I've just got the wrong address. The people inside will direct me politely (and if I'm lucky; throw me some Benjamins, God fucking knows they look like they can afford it) to my great-grandmother's house and then everything will be okay. She'll be some sweet old dear in a dressing gown and has a cat called Mittens and makes cookies and she'll talk to me about sewing and how delicious George Clooney is. Mom is just bullshitting when she talks about how mean they are or something. The old lady can't be too harsh if she took my mom in when she needed her most.
I tap against the hard wood, feeling so insignifigant and small against the huge surroudnings. It must be so cool to be rich; I've never had that experience. We're not poor, exactly, but mom does her best and I work at our local 7/11 on weekends. These people might know my great grandma and throw her some charity. Poor girl, mom says her husband died ages ago, when my mom was just a kid. I asked her how and she did that little 'hmph' thing women do when they're pissed.
The door swings open with a loud creek and a hot guy in a three-piece suit answers the door. Tanned, tall, black hair, nice eyes. He regards with me with a kinda 'woah, this chick has no fricking clue where the hell she is' look. Or, well, in Italian. Because that's what (I presume) he was talking in when he answered the door.
"Tu sei qui," he breathes, kinda impressed. He's young; in his twenties, I guess. I remind myself it's rude to gape at people, no matter how godly they appear. "Infine."
"Uh..." I respond eloquently, smiling a little awkwardly. "Me...no speak...the...Italiano...English?"
He smiles and laughs heartily, not rude, but amused. The next time he speaks he sounds just as American as me; sweet mother his voice is like an angel's.
"You are here to meet Donna de la Via, yes?" He asks, still smiling so politely. "She has been waiting for you all day. She is so excited to be meeting you this evening. Shall I tell her you have arrived?"
"Donna?" I repeat, confused, glancing at the piece of paper in my hand, bearing my relation's name and address, and Donna ain't it. "Oh...I must have gotten lost or something. Don't speak the language, ya know?" I try to laugh and make it lighter, but it's shaky and high-pitched. "Er...yeah...anyway, I'm looking for Luciana de la Via," I read from the sheet." I don't know if I'm pronouncing that right, but, er, yeah...not Donna."
He smiles again and turns back into the manor and yells something in Italian. I jump a little because of my frazzled nerves. Mom is still pissing me off even from miles away. He gestures for me to come in and I do, stepping into the black mansion, even though I'm in the wrong house. Maybe Donna is her sister or something.
Holy crap. I mean...holy mother of God. Portraits, statues, marble and glass and chandiliers. Tens of men are in the hallway, chatting quickly, and I get alarmed to see they have semi-automatics slung around their waists. iPhones and Blackberry's are stuck to men's ears as they yelp in their own language. I don't get it-where am I? Some business firm? Why are there like eighty gazillion people here? Maybe I've ended up in the Italian Business District. Maybe Donna de la Via is some banker and she knows my great grandma. I just keep close to the guy who answered the door, who greets and smiles at men as they pass.
He gestures to me to ascend the towering staircase and I just kinda stumble towards it-he holds me so I don't fall and I just smile at him nervously. God, I am so fucking anxious. What if she hates me? What if mom's right and she is a bitch, who wants to like beat me or something? Like something outta The Da Vinci Code. She might even have a whip in her garter belt or something.
We're finished up the stairs and the dude points to a big door in front of me.
"She will be down to you momentarily. She instructed for you to wait here whilst she gets ready." He takes my hand-scraped off nail varnish and a lump on my ring finger, how attractive-and kisses it lightly. "Such an honour to have met you, Miss Way."
"Er...thanks," I stammer, as we walk into what looks like a study. "Real nice place you got here."
He exits the room and leaves me to peace in the study. It's old; and rad. All the books are leather and heavy and huge-my descriptions may not be Rowling-standard, but believe me, it's beyond awesome. Paintings and portraits adorn the walls, of people and places, names and numerials beneath. I walk along the wooden floor, Converse squeaking as I do. I make it to a desk-splattered with dust covered notes and books, ancient quills and ink-pots. I let my finger trail along them, hardly believing my eyes. Where am I? Just in some randomer's house, in their study...
I look up to see the portraits. The first person I catch sight of is the woman I've been hidden from for seventeen years. LFMV, it says, and two dates; 1953 and 1978. Maybe that's how long she's been president of her business or something. She's gorgeous, my God-brown eyes and that black hair...that I have. I pick up a lame strand of the thick raven that lies down my shoulder. I think I look like her until I see the dude above her.
GAV;1927-1935. First off-man, he's hot. I don't give a fuck if he happens to be some long-lost relative of mine and we are related, the man is fine. I try to lean up on my toes and peer closer at him; he reminds me of myself, for some weird reason. Not that I think I'm hot or whatever, but his stance and his persona, that little flash in his light-coloured eyes, God...I'm getting creeped out. I reach out and touch it, only to hear that little voice behind me.
"My darling," she greets quietly, and I gasp at her. "My, Linzia was right. You are beautiful."
I stammer and smile nervously at my great-grandmother. She's tall and pale and thin, with lisps of black locks licking her cheeks. Chocolate eyes gaze and bat at me. The years have been kind to her, as her lack of wrinkles compliment her flawless ivory skin. She wears a floor-length black gown, with a black pashmina wrapped around her thin shoulders. Golden jewellery hangs from her bony hands and her neck. When she smiles, her eyes light up like that of a really happy kid.
"Hi," I reply slightly breathlessly, holding out my hand. "I'm...I'm Bandit." For some reason, I find myself grinning as I shake her hand, her touch so delicate and refined. I'm like a molfucking jackhammer, pumping at her frail hand, probably crushing her. "It's...it's so nice to finally meet you. This is...this is so cool."
"Bandito," she hums, and then giggles, clasping my hands in hers. It sounds corny as shit, but I feel already like I've known her my whole damn life. This shit should go on Oprah. "You look just like him. Everything about you." She throws her head back and laughs. She places herself daintily in a nearby plush chair and gestures for me to sit opposite her. A man enters the room with a tray of engraved black teacups and offers it to Luciana-she nods and murmurs something. He delicately pours some coffee into two of the cups, nods at her and I, and leaves. She leans across to me and sighs, smiling. "This is wonderful. I cannot tell you how excited I am to meet you."
"Oh, thank you," I gush back, trying to be elegant as she does with the dainty little cups. To my surprise, as she reclines in the throne, a gun is tucked into her suspenders. She offers me a small metal jug full of milk. "It's not two per cent, is it? I'm allergic."
A smile stretches across her lips. Nonetheless, she shakes her head and pours a few drops into my cup.
"I'm sure Linzia has done her best to keep you away from me," she sniffs, holding her cup between her fingers. "I know she is certainly not the closest to me in any way, and she has tried her best to severe her ties with her family for reasons I will establish in just a moment. I hope it will not be so with you and I."
"Oh no," I respond. "I'm really interested in our family. Since Dad left...you're the only family I got," I shrug, smiling, and she nods seriously. "It's just...I've been asking mom for ages to tell me about our family. I just found out her own mother died and you looked after her." I glance all around the office. "You have such a gorgeous home, Missus de la Via."
"Missus de la Via!" She shrieks, and laughs loudly. "Please, that was my mother. You may call me Luciana, please, darling. No need to be so formal around family." She sips at her tea and her pupils flick around the room. "Yes, the house is wonderful. It is not mine, however. My uncle owned this house for little over a year in the nineteen thirties. But, you must know all about that."
I blink a little. "Excuse me?"
"You have...you have never heard of your great-great-granduncle? Gerard de la Via? Gerard Way?" I shake my head. I have never heard this man's name in my life. "My Lord, Linzia has really told you nothing. You know nothing of your family history? Absolutely nothing?"
"Um...no?" I answer, and a mixture of excitement and anxiety mixes uncomfortably in my stomach. "Why? Were they famous? Who's he?"
She smiles a little and a faint pink touches her cheeks. Luciana takes a deep breath and sips from her tea again. She pauses and looks around the office, and some tears gather at her eyes. She wriggles her fingers and meets my gaze again.
"Today I was introduced to you as Donna de la Va," she says quietly. "And yet my name is not Donna. Do you know why I am referred to in such a way?" She reaches into a nearby little black box and pulls out a long cigarette, like the one Audrey Hepburn has outta Breakfast At Tiffany's. "Is that in any way familar to you?"
"No," I answer her, shaking my head. She looks like a movie star; so glamorous and sophistacated. "Sorry, I've no idea. I thought he was talking about someone else."
"Well then," she says softly, picking up a little book and flicking through it, long fingernails poised. "I would like you to react calmly when I show what your family is famed for. What your great-granduncle was a pioneering man for." She hands the book-a dictionary-to me and taps the word at the top of the page with a black nail. "Why your mother is ashamed. And Bandit-you are free to walk out at any time, my love." I nod at her, not looking at the definition yet. "If it disgusts you like it disgusts your mother then of course you may leave."
I look down.
don/donna: an honourific term for a male or female crime boss in the Italian Mafia. usage of respect and nobility
My mouth falls open. I look up at the woman facing me. She nods gravely at me, eyes closed, concentrating.
"The door is open," she tells me. "You may leave and run away and never return to see me ever again if you wish. Or you can sit down with me and talk about your family. Talk about everything to do with your family and how vitally important you are. Ignore what your mother, what the media says about La Cosa." Her voice is a bare whisper in my ear now. I just gape around the room, at her, at the sounds below us. "This is fighting for your family."
I contemplate. It's like that old punk song my mom plays sometimes, Should I Stay Or Should I Go? This is...this is so weird. My family? A Mafia family? No way. I ain't the great-granddaughter of some awesomely cool woman, I'm some loser Bandit Lee Way who's unpopular and gets shitty grades, some dyke who gets teased at school. I'm not cool, or clever, or even have a good sense of humor; I'm not pretty, I'm not skinny. Unfrickingbelievable.
"I...I want to know," I whisper, and my mouth feels bone-dry. "T-tell me."
"Well..." she settles into her chair. "Your family, the Way family have been involved in Italian-American family-fare since approximately eighteen eighty. Your great-great-great-granduncle was shot by another man and his brother found it suitable to declare war on the killer's family. He was a poor farmer from Palermo, but he had dreams of being rich and respected by his men.
"He was. He became Don of the Way family and remained so for thirty years. He had four sons and two daughters. In the Famiglia, it is customary to pass on your leadership when your eldest son turns twenty-five. So, your great-great-great grandfather became Don of the Family." She points a finger behind her. "Donald Way. He was ruthless. He was a brute who extended his violence beyond business and abused his wife and his two sons. He was a disgusting, horrible man." She sniffs, nose quivering, and pulls herself together. "He was Don for seventeen years." She laughs now; sunny and childlike. "And then...then there was Gerard."
"Gerard Way was only Don for eight years, because his father died young. He was a wonderful, beautiful, loving man who truly showed me what it was like to be a loving person who was willing to give up all for his family. When my mother and father died when I was six years old he housed me until I was sixteen." She blinks as tears stream down her pallid cheeks; tears of joy. "I never loved anyone as much as I loved my uncle. Not my husband, not even my daughter. He meant the world to me."She nods at a corner of the room. "I have never seen a marriage as healthy as his was."
"Did he and his wife not have children?" I ask quietly; I thought it was like a thing to have loads of kids running around the place when you're Italian, cuz of Catholicism and stuff, ya know?
"I said he was married." She smiles slyly. "I did not say he had a wife."
"I-I'm sorry," I stutter, blushing. "I don't understand."
She smiles wider. "There are two genders, Bandito."
I flush bright pink when I realize suddenly why my great-great-granduncle didn't have any sprogs. Holy crap, I didn't even know people were allowed be gay back then. She laughs a little at my reaction and then nods.
"This must be strange to you, finding out your family is in the Mafia," she soothes, and then she ceases the laughing. "Why? Do you not agree with homosexuality?"
"No! No!" I say, and start giggling again. Oh God, how do I say this to the woman? She seems pretty cool though. Wicked eighty three year old. "I..um, I'll have to tell my girlfriend all of this," I mumble, and she catches the hint, and her grin lengthens.
"So alike," she murmurs. "May I ask her name?"
"Jenna," I reply quickly, blushing furiously. "I came out last year, and she's just been my best friend forever, and we...I love her a lot, Luciana." She nods. "I have friends who are guys but I don't...like like them."
"That was the same age as him," she breathes, and the only sound is the clock ticking and the slight clink as she lets her jewellery click together. "The minute I saw you I thought of him. You have his eyes." She smiles faintly, and tears up again. "He had the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen, and you have them. You're tall, and your hair, and you have a strange little humor complex." She cocks her head. "And two per cent milk. He once throttled someone over buying that."
"Please," I urge, "tell me more."
"He was twenty two when he became Don, when he married an Italian boy upon which he never spoke about ever again. They were married for five years and then the boy cheated on him." I gasp and put a hand to my mouth; I feel like someone has betrayed someone close to me. "I was only told this by his second husband, Franco." She tears up again, and coughs a little. "My, I loved that man. He was a mother, a father, a best friend and a teacher whenever I needed him."
"Tell me about him," I ask quietly. "Please, please, go on."
"He and my uncle married in the spring of nineteen thirty four. There was a five year age difference-that was normal back then, y'know-but I honestly never saw two people more in love than them. My uncle was a brutal man when it came to torture, and could make a man tremble in his boots just by looking at him. But he had a strict mantra when it came to his family that a man becomes less of a man once he harms his own blood. Respect." She nods curtly. "That is what La Cosa Nostra is entirely based on."
"Is that him?" I ask, pointing to the picture of the hot guy above her. She nods. "He's...he's really...um...good-looking."
"He is," she chuckles, and flicks her hair. "Would you like to see them?" She reaches behind her and hands me a black photoframe containing a minimilistic picture of two men clad in suits. "I believe that was taken when they moved to Italy in nineteen thirty five."
I look at the both of them. It's different from what I see when I log in on Facebook now-no gaudy lip-locking or duck faces or something...One man, who my great-grandma says is the Don, is scowling at the camera, one eyebrow raised in 'you wanna fuck with me?' fashion. God, he's fucking delicious; the fabric around his arms are skin-tight constricting his muscles. These arms are secured around someone else's waist.
The other guy is really hot too, but in a completely different way. Innocent and youthful, wearing a little smile as he looks at the camera-man politely. Chocolate brown hair swept across his eyes and warm, liquidy eyes that make me feel all weak and shit. On his finger is a fucking huge rock, fucking Tiffany's shit, unbelievable. The way that Gerard is pressed right up to him, and looks so proud and devoted makes me tear up just a bit. It makes me hope I find love like that too.
"How-how old did you say he was?" I ask, looking at the date; July 17th, 1935.
"Don de la Via was thirty, and Frank was going on twenty five," she answers, and then sighs a little. "They moved to Rome in nineteen thirty five because of prolonged attacks by the other gang on Franco. He was ill already and had a very bad dose of tuberculosis. He was raped twice by my uncle's enemies." I choke a little as I look at the beautiful boy...what crual fuck would rape that? "As was I."
My head snaps up, my eyes full of hot, pricking tears.
"Oh My God," I wail, water dribbling down my cheeks. "Oh My God, I'm so sorry-"
"Honey, honey," she soothes, hand on my knee. "Please don't cry, sugar plum, this is meant to be happy. I just want to tell you a little more, and then I must discuss something very important. Anyway, I lived with my uncle and Franco until I was sixteen, when Franco became seriously ill. He couldn't walk, or talk, or even breathe properly; blood was clotting and killing him slowly." She breathes deeply. "One day, I came home from school to find my uncle at our kitchen table, and he told me he had booked a flight for me back to the States. I knew the day had come. Franco died that evening, I was right there, sitting next to me. Gerard kissed his hand slid his eyes shut. He told me to get his holster belt from the kitchen and bring it to him."
"I went to the kitchen and presented the holster to him. He had been a mess for the last few days, but now he was calm and soft. Perhaps it was a relief-I don't quite know. He turned to me and hugged and kissed me, told me he loved me. Then he said to wait outside and to call the morticians while he 'did it'. I called the funeral home and told them to come as soon as they could."
She closes her eyes. "I was outside their bedroom for ten minutes or so, wondering if I should go in. I had already killed my fair share of men by the age and yet I found it hard to think of walking in to see my uncle and his husband dead." A shaky breath. I pass her a tissue, and she nods graciously. "But I did. Franco looked so calm and peaceful, like he was sleeping. Gerard always called him his coniglio-his bunny rabbit. The Don had slit his throat with the kinfe and then wrapped his arms around his husband in their final embrace," she whipers, crying more now. "He could not stand to be alive while the other wasn't.They died the day before the war was over."
I inhale shakily and dab at my eyes. The way she describe it in was so beautiful, so heartfelt. I don't cry a lot; I'm no pansy. But here I was, me and this cool old lady, crying our eyes out at the Mafia boss dying with his lover.
"That is so-" I inhale again, and make a noise like a dying walrus. "That is so sweet."
She nods and snuffles into a tissue. Then, after perfecting her make-up, she looks up at me. Stern. Serious. Hopeful.
"Have you ever heard of the Romano family?" She murmurs quietly.
"Yeah," I shrug a little uncomfortably. "This creep called Daniel in my Spanish class picks on me-" I cop on. Oh my God, there's Mafia blood in my fifth-period Spanish class. Sweet Jesus. "You mean they're-oh my God-they can't be-"
"Our rival family, yes. Complete scum and filth." She composes herself. "I became Donna when I was twenty five, and retired in nineteen seventy eight, as you can see. My own daughter, Amina, was my only child and died at the age of nineteen. Linzia has refused on every occasion to accept leadership. The Famiglia de la Via has been inactive for over thirty years, Bandito. Not dead, but sleeping." Her chcolate eyes meet mine. "You are the only living blood-relation to the Way family who could be available. You are young enough, much younger than the normal age of acceptance, but you are intelligent and sensible and able."
"You're...you're asking me to be Donna?"
She looks like she wants to say something, but then stops. She lets her hands fall in her lap and nods.
"Yes, Bandit. To resurrect the tradition of which your family has served for one hundred and thirty one years."
She hands me a big, chunky black ring, neither extremely masculine or overly feminine. A large onyx with engravings in the middle. I slip it onto my finger and see that it fits snugly, warm and comfortable. It sends a little shock through my spine and suddenly I feel empowered. Strong. Better, improved, upgraded. Not just Bandit Way but Donna Way.I will lead my family to the dominance and the glory they once upheld over Los Angeles. I will do it for myself, for my mother, for my relations, for my friends, and for my enemies.
For my family.