And now you do what they told you...
Title from RATM.
Killing in the Name Of
Luciana de la Via jumped a foot in the air when she heard the doorbell ring.
It was Saturday, at exactly three minutes past eleven (ante meridiem) and the twelve-year-old had been sitting by the blackened ledge of the Way mansion in comune di Roma. Last night she had been granted permission by her uncle and his husband to venture out to the unknown depths of Piazaa di Spagna with four of her friends. When Gerard had told her the final verdict she had shrieked and sang with joy. This sort of thing had previously been expressedly verboten.
Excited was an undestatement for what Luciana was feeling right about now. She had risen rather nosily at five in the morning and danced around her room as she pondered what to wear, what her hair should look like, her shoes. (A rather unimpressed Gerard had beseeched her to 'keep it down, will ya?') She had spent nearly an hour on pondering what she should sdorn for this momentus occasion. She wondered briefly if she should try the infamy among young girls known as make-up or compongono-perhaps it would seem too girly, too pretentious, too showy? She knew the scientist wore foundation to work every day, and sometimes black smudging was seen along his eyes, but the girl had never wore it. This morning, despite the fretting, she eventually decided not to depart outside her fashion comfort zone; a black shirt, red trouser braces and faded dark slacks sufficed the Way girl. She had bounced down the stairs, squeaking and clapping her hands, deaf to her uncle's nagging. A quick breakfast of waffles and syrup had been consumed and she had planted herself near the window ever since.
So now, armed with thirty lire and her family ring, (an entwined, intricate 'd' and a 'V') Luciana raced down the corridor of the house, squealing. She got to meet with her friends fairly often, but never on their own. Never for pizza and gelato. Never in Piazza di Spagna, for crying out loud. She felt so grown-up, so mature, like a proper young lady at last. Rather unexxpectedly, interrupting her proud thoughts, she rammed into her uncle's back. Gerard turned around to greet her and wore a little lop-sided grin. He was dressed up today; his pin-stripe and the red rose spoke for everything his workforce included. Nonetheless, he bent down to his niece, who hugged him excitedly.
"Moment has finally come, has it?" Way asked slyly, and despite his disapproval at his niece's fierce, sudden independance, he smiled wryly.
"Yes!" She replied, blissful. "Pietra's at the door, zio, Pietra and Catarine and Rosa! I'm so happy, zio!" She kissed his cheek and hugged him even tighter, an anaconda-like grip. "Oh, thank you thank you, I promise, zio, I'll be so good!"
"And you promise to bring the shooting stars?" Gerard questioned, and she nodded to indicate that the miniature weapons were in her pockets. "I can give you a gun if you want, sweetheart. Magnums are very light and concealable-"
"Oh my Gawd, Gerard," Frank said as he entered the hall, sliding his hand into the gangster's. The lovers paused and pressed their lips together. "You are not actually trying to give Luciana a gun. You are not giving her a gun, Gee, she's twelve years old, going out with her friends-"
"I had guns when I was twelve-"
"Babe, c'mon," Frank said, leaning up and pressing himself fully against his husband. Even after six years in their company, Luciana still found it strange that the Don and his husband showed affection in front of her; not that they were gaudy or showy but that Way referred to Frank as his bunny-the scientist inturn called the criminal by the letter his name began with. Frank now turned to Luciana. "Catarine's mom caled me earlier and said that Agata's brother is doing his Omerta today and that you can meet her in Piazza. You guys can stay here for an hour and then Adam will drop you there in Gerard's Bugatti. Gee'll be working but I'm here if you need me, okay? If you need anything just call me."
Gerard laughed, squeezing his bunny rabbit. "You are such a housewife."
"Oh, shut up," Frank muttered, and the Don kissed his cheek. "I'm just looking after our niece while my husband is away at business and then I have to send your measurements to the tailor's and then get working on your dinner and oh my God I am a housewife, amn't I?"
"My housewife," Gerard said, and Frank rolled his eyes again. He looked again to Luciana. "If you're certain, then I suppose I won't give you the gun. But if at any time, some smartass comes up to you and says something abbout your family, then you call me and I'll-"
"Yes, Gee, you'll cut their legs off or something, how nice," the younger man replied, before hugging his niece. "Have a good time, sweetie."
The girl nodded as her uncle carefully shut the door; today he would be engaging in Business, with a capital B. Luciana regularly saw men with suitcases and bags full of money drop to her house and deliver it to the Don; sometimes it wasn't even lire, but dollars and pounds. The girl wasn't sure how rich her uncle was-she had never asked straight out. She got everything she wanted, and she was aware she went to the best girls' school in the damn country (a fact well beaten within the walls of Scuolla di St. Marina) and that Gerard owned six sports cars, and wore a new suit every day. Their house was huge; she not only had her own room but a room for her study, a room for her practice of bass and piano, a room for all her clothes. She presumed Gerard, by now, was a billionaire.
He had given up the job at the Galleria when his boss had been asisinated by the OVRA back in September. The war was effecting Italy severely, and the unemployment rate had seered in the last year. In school, a daily pledge of alligiance (rather like the specific one recited in the United States) was sworn to Il Duce. Young girls and boys across the country of the Italian Republic would, every morning, stand to their feet and place chubby hands over hearts and recite the tuneless words day after day...their teachers would chant along with them, a picture of Mussolini framed on the desk.
Luciana, however, never took part in this. The Don of the Mafia was richer, more powerful, more intelligent, and more liked than the Leader was. Gerard made his dislike for Il Duce clear; Mussolini had invited the Don to lunch, had visited his home, had written letters of respect and idol; but Way would deline. Way would not let him enter the door, and would talk to him at the step. Way had never answered those letters. As a result, Luciana would sit in her desk, smiling politely, as her classmates canted words they didn't understand to the Italian leader. The boss barely even said the name in their house; if he was on the news (which he was) Gerard would roll his eyes and snap the radio station to a different chanell.
But, returning to the present, Luciana raced to the door and flung it open. Her best friends were standing in the driveway, waving off a chauffuer-driven car.
"Ciao," she greeted airily with a wave of the hand. She looked at her peers; they all seemed different in a strange, unfamilar way. Rosalia, the oldest at thirteen, thought she herself looked stunning. She wore a tight, short red dress, the room in the chest area looking ridiculous on such a young girl. Her foundation was the same colour as the oranges that grew in the Way's backyard and her mouth had been messily attacked with scarlet lipstick so that her mouth looked bulging and fat. Silky chocolate hair was pulled into a bun too mature and severe for the girl. Luciana stared at her; normally, when they met together, her friends dressed modestly in long skirts and blouses-she had never been exposed to this sluttery. She prayed her uncle would not come out and see Rosalia-he surely would never allow her to go to Piazza.
"Ciao," Pietra Linguini, Luciana's very best friend, answered. She had befriended the gangster's niece all of six years ago when the family arrived, and in so was used to the Don's traditional tendencies. She had known better than to smack herself up with make-up and short skirts-her father knew the criminal well and if she displeased Luciana she knew her family's livelihood would come crashing down. Nonetheless, she got on well with the tomboy and they hung out often. Unlike Luciana and Rosalia, who were bare aqquaintances; the girl was friends wth Agata. "Oh my God, can we have something to eat? I'm so hungry, Luci, I could eat a damn horse right now." She stepped in and hugged her friend briefly. "And Dad says to give this to Don de la Via." She handed her a bulky brown envelope. "Can we get something now?"
"Sure," Luciana answered, gesturing to the kitchen. "Franco made risotto last night and it's delicious." Another friend, a daughter of a wealthy Roman banker, Catarine, a slender little blond thing, stepped in and embraced the gangster's niece. When the thirteen year old walked in, fur coat swaying, Way grimaced and backed away a little. When she adressed Rosalia, her tone was flat and bored. "Ciao, Rosalia."
"Yeah," the girl answered as the other two raced into the huge marble kitchen. She looked around the mansion and pouted; she didn't want to have the Way girl tagging along-she didn't get why people liked her at all. She was weird and boyish and never wore skirts-she knew her uncle was high and important in the Cosa but why does she get all this fancy treatment? Just because her dad's brother kills people and wears suits? "Your house is big."
Luciana rolled her eyes as she entered the kitchen. The two other girls were perched on black long-backed seats. 'Big'. What a great adjective.
"I guess," she shurgged, opening the fridge and sampling a can of Coke. "It's kinda big but it's old too, the stairs creak and stuff when you run on them. And I don't go up to the attic because zio says there's ghosts up there." She shrugged again and joined her friends at the table. "I think it's because he keeps his machine guns and bombs and stuff up there and he doesn't want me messing it up."
"He has guns?!" Rosalia gasped, manicured nails covering her mouth. Luciana was getting quite irritated. "I'm in a house with guns?!"
The girl in black sighed and clapped a hand to her forehead. "Mio Dio," she muttered under her breath.
"Of course," Pietra said, sucking up risotto like there was no end. "Haven't you ever met Luci's uncle?"
"I know he's some business man or something," she sniffed, crossing her arms. "Papa says he's a made man. He's a criminal."
The other girls waited for Luciana to deny the allegations. She shrugged and wore a neutrel mask.
"He is a criminal. He is a made man." She paused for dramatic effect. "He is not a business man. He is Don of the Famiglia de la Via; that's my family. It means he serves and protects our family and defends against the other family. Yes, he has guns. Yes, he has bombs. But he's a lovely person to me and he's really smart. I don't mind that he's in the Cosa." She slipped down from the seat and threw the can in the trash. "He's doing his duty for our family."
"I've met him," Pietra offered, now munching on some other morsel of food. "He seems cool."
"But who's your family?" Rosalia pressed. "Do you live on your own with him? Where are your parents?"
Luciana felt a pink tinge fly to her cheeks. She decided to evade the last question.
"Not just our family-three hundred gangs and syndicates in Italy and America. They're his men, his servers, and they pay respect to him and fight for him." She paused and listened; she could hear a voice, not her uncle's or Frank's, quietly mumuring from the next room. "I live with him and Franco. I have since before we moved to Italy, when I was sette. Franco teaches at Sapienza but he's on sabetical at the moment so he stays here and helps zio with running the Cosa." She smiled faintly and gestured to the house. "And that's pretty much it."
"Oh my Gawd," Cat said, nearly drooling. "Mister de la Via should be a cook. This risotto is amazing. I'll marry it."
"Franco?" Rosalia put forward. "Who's that?"
"My uncle's husband." Sha paused and waited for the reaction; a sour look crossed her features when Rosalia was about to splutter with indignation and disbelief. "And before you call them fags or fanooks or whatever the hell the word is then you can shut up. They've been married for sei years now and I love them as if they were my own parents. If you are homophobic," she pointed to the door, "then you can leave my house."
Rosalia gulped a little. The other girl, Catarine, was slightly impressed. Pietra knew of the Don's sexuality and therefore did not have a qualm with the marriage.
"He's really cool, Mister de la Via," Pietra referenced. "I see him more often than Don de la Via and he's so nice, though he's short. I like him a lot, Luci."
Gerard let his pen laze in his fist when he heard the light knocking upon his study door.
"Yes," he said in his deadly murmur. "You may come in."
The slender tall silhouette of Adam Rucetta made itself visible as the consigliere slipped through the door. He, like the Don, worked put regularly and therefore his muscles were constricted by the fabric of his shirt. His waistcoat was open and he wore a small, ruefully polite smile that he often applied when paying a visit to his boss. Gerard inspected his long time friend with careful scrutiny-he knew something must be up if his consigliere was calling to his private chambers to discuss something. He was greeted with a kiss on his ring; he swatted this away with impatient intolerance.
"Never mind that today," he said sharply. Rucetta's eyes slipped down to see the black leather-bound diary that Way kept on his desk open and spilling with contents. The words 'meet with Con. Rucetta, quattro' were scribbled hastily along the line of four in the afternoon. Luciana had left with her friends three hours ago; Frank was studying down in the main living room, curled up with chocolates and blankets. Gerard was in a foul mood and had been arranging a coke busting next week over the phone, barking to some blubbering idiot in the local Sirocco gang syndicate. Sure, Gerard was on very good terms with Paulie, the Don of the group, but if he was gonna be employing seventeen year old cunts who barely knew how to fire a revolver then he was better off alone. The Don of the Famiglia was in one of those irritated moods that could snap his temper any minute now. His eye followed the consigliere with an icy stare.
"May I sit?" Adam asked lightly, and a terse jerk of the head signalled yes. He pulled out a black cushioned seat and crossed his legs, clearing his throat. His eyes drifted evasively to his boss. "I think it's important I talk to you today, Gerard. I've been meaning to for a while now and it's just eating away at me. I think, as your consigliere-"
"Tell me, Adam," the Don said ever so quietly. "Tell me why you have been so disappointingly atrocious on our recent raids. Why you have been collusive and insidious for the past few weeks, avoiding me. Why you have become so sluggish and slow when it comes to torturing your enemies." Gerard's eye swept slowly along the consigliere's form, who shifted and shuffled in a cumbersome fashion. Rucetta had violet bags under brown orbs and said orbs were strained and bloodshot. "Why you are appearing to me as becoming....soft. Weak." His voice lowered to a lethal whisper. "Incapable."
The consigliere bowed his head slightly.
"I apologize, Don Gerardo. I have disappointed you." His eyes blinked rapidly as they filled with tears. "I strive to be the best consigliere I can be, and I have failed you-"
"Yes, you have," Way murmured, reaching for a cigar and letting it dangle between his fingers. Adam's throat was parched, bone-dry, and he thought about asking for a alcoholic beverage but then thought better about the proposed request which his Don would not bequest. In Gerard's easily-broken moods such as these, it was best to accept the slander lathered upon you and remain silent. Gerard now poured himself a shot of vodka. He threw it back quickly and then slammed the glass back on the table. Then he continued with something Rucetta had not seen coming. "How long has it been, Adam?"
The thirty five year old blinked. "Signore?"
"I am just presuming," Gerard said airily, shrugging, "and forgive me if I am incorrect or even come across as vulgar, Adam, you know I do not strive to be invasive or inquisitive." His words were so complicated and elongated; Rucetta found it hard to understand Way in these flimsy, raging moods of his. "I am simply guessing in conjencture that you have not engaged in physical activity in a prolonged period of time." A shrug. "Among other attributes, of course."
"Sir, I'm afraid I don't understand," Adam stuttered, uncertain. Gerard said nothing, puffing on his Cuban. "I'm very athletic, Don de la Via, I work out on a regular basis and-"
"That is not what I mean." Gerard tapped the cigar against a ceramic canister. He saw that his consigliere was not comprehending, so he sighed and said: "I mean you're on a dry streak, Adam." Rucetta gulped. The man was a fucking mind reader. "You haven't got laid in weeks. Months, possibly." Adam dared to raise his eyes and saw Gerard was looking straight at him-the green eye was harsh and unflinching. The consigliere wondered how often his boss got it. Every night, of course, but how many times? Three, four, five? Frank certainly wasn't built for the deed; his physique was like that of a twelve-year-old's. Adam shook the thoughts from his head and faced his boss.
"I don't-that's not true-I get it every day, Don de la Via," he lied with a hefty amount of brash brazen. Gerard had seen through his pathetic bluff, for sure. "Every day."
"It is blatantly obvious, Signore Rucetta," he murmured, and now he was facing out the window, in a dream-like trance. "You're disorientated, dumb and dissatisfied. You walk like a slouching teenager, not like a man. You cannot even look me in the eye, for Chrissake. Sitting there like a shivering bowl of gelatin." He snorted and flicked the ashed from the cigar, outraged. "You get it every day, really? Your husband makes love to you every single day whence you return from work? Do not lie to me, Adam." The eye; it rolled in his socket. "Do not sit in my office and blatantly lie to me." He sucked in again. "Your marriage is failing. Jonathan had marks along his wrists the other night, Rucetta, he had burn marks as if someone had grasped him by the hand." He cocked his head. "Would you care to explain why you laid hands on your husband?"
Adam said nothing. He faced into his lap.
"Not even an answer? My God, Adam. Laying hands on your lover is one thing but then not even trying to deny the accusation is another. Pathetic," he spat with venom, temper snapping. "I know you fucked that prostitute when we went to Florence last month," he said, and the other's head snapped up. "I know how you betrayed your marriage and your sanctity with the boy and everything he holds close when you lied to me and said you had errands to run. I was stupid enough to believe you. He depends on you, you nasty sonuvabitch, and now you have betrayed and deluded your marriage. He's barely twenty years old, he's younger and weaker than you are and you treat him like a puppet. You should be protecting him." A scoff of utter disgust. "And you go and fuck some street-walker. Dispicable." He suddenly got to his feet and growled. "And your marriage is not all that you betrayed." His voice softened again. "Now was it, Adam?"
"No, it wasn't," the Don whispered in lieu of no response. "While I was actually doing something of signifigance and benefit you were off snitching to those teenage terrorists about me, weren't you?" Adam felt dizzy and weak. "You were telling Mussolini and all his right hand men about me, you were being disloyal to your gang which you so rightly serve, you were feeding him information about my personal life. Most noticeably, I see from the notes from Brian's notes, about my past in America. Brian told me everything you told about me, Adam." He paused with reason. "That is because Brian is a faithful server, Adam. A faithful and long server."
"I see you told him about all events to do with the Romano family back up to five years ago. To do with money, my property, my cars...my husband." Gerard spat on the ground. "I ordered you to keep quiet about Frank's rape-I told you never to fucking tell another fucking soul, goddammit!" He shouted, slamming his fist down. "That isn't fucking gang information-that is information about my private life which, as the title suggests, is fucking private, Rucetta! Now that fucking il Duce piece of shit is coming down to interrogate Frank and I know my baby's gonna be so fucking upset when he hears of such betrayal. You know how fucking long it took him to get over that? How long before he'd fucking undress in the same room as me? Two years." He stopped short and ran fingers through his hair. "Two fucking years, Adam. I treasure that kid to fucking pieces, you know that, and to this fucking day I still have to tell him I'd never do what those cunts did! He's downstairs-ya know what he's fucking doing, you piece of shit? He's sitting on a chair fucking eating chocolate and drinking milk and being so fucking adorable I can't fucking stand it-his feet don't even reach the floor when he sits, ya know?" His chest was heaving with anger. "He makes this little squeaking noise when he's happy and he talks with a lisp and YOU FUCKING BETRAYED HIM, ADAM, YOU TOLD THE OVRA ABOUT MY HUSBAND AND NOW I GOT MOTHERFUCKING IL DUCE COMING DOWN TO MY HOUSE AND FUCKING TALKING TO MY BABY ABOUT THE CUNTS THAT VIOLATED HIM-"
It continued for several hours. Frank, downstairs, quivered and sucked his lip.
Their past would rise to haunt the Way family once more.