Brotherly Love

A limousine, polished to a shiny black lacquer, rests in a private corner of Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport.  The Vegas Strip shimmers like a mirage in the distance.   A Learjet 60 glides through the sweltering desert heat and touches down, then taxis over to the limo.

The lift gate hisses open smoothly.  Toned, tanned legs in high heels exit the plane.  Her perfect derriere is wrapped in a tight black mini.  She walks with the brash confidence of a runway model who knows she’s being watched.  Silky blonde hair catches the breeze as she approaches the car.  The driver opens the rear door for her. 

A suited man waits patiently.  He opens a small black velvet box revealing a sparkling diamond necklace.  She slides inside.  The driver closes the door and gets back in the driver’s seat.

The blonde likes her gift.  “Oooohh…” she purrs, as she kisses his neck and unbuttons his shirt. She slides down the suited man’s chest, kissing and biting him gently.  His breathing intensifies.  She licks his stomach erotically, then skillfully lifts his zipper tab with her tongue, clenches it in her teeth and unzips him, as the limo floats away.

Philadelphia is one of the most historically significant cities in the United States.  Among many other events, it hosted the First (1774) and Second (1776) Continental Congress, during which the Declaration of Independence was signed announcing the country is breaking off from the British Empire after a long pregnancy, and giving birth to the United States of America.  ‘Philly’ as it is commonly referred to today, then served as the nation’s capitol during its infancy, until the year 1800. 
At the turn of the twentieth century, in the early 1900s, as immigrants from Europe fled to the United States en masse, Philly became a hub and training ground for another type of history: organized crime.

In the early days, the gangs were essentially disorganized ethnic groups of Irish, Jewish, Black and Italian immigrants.  But over time, one became more organized and dominant than the others: the Italians.  

In 1931, Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano formed the Mafia Commission, a governing body linking mafia families across the country, and their power grew exponentially throughout most of the 20th century.  

Now, although weakened significantly by the federal government and competition from other gangs, the mob still exists and wields power in neighborhoods from Philadelphia to New York to Chicago.

In Chicago, the crime family is know as The Outfit. New York, the capitol of organized crime, is home to the infamous ‘Five Families’, which are the Bonannos, Colombos, Gambinos, Genoveses and Luccheses.

Philadelphia, just 90 miles south of New York, is often referred to as the sixth family. And in the City of Brotherly Love, the thin line between love and hate can erased instantaneously.

Salvatore Costa, ‘The Docile Don’, had ruled Philadelphia’s crime family for more than 30 years.  Costa earned his nickname by using violence only as a last resort. Unlike today’s flashier, more violent young mobsters, he ran his syndicate more like a Fortune 500 CEO.

He survived the bloody mob wars of the 1980s and the RICO trials of the 1990s.  He had outmaneuvered the Feds in court so many times he’d lost count, hiring the top criminal defense lawyer on the east coast to shrewdly navigate the dangerous minefields of overzealous cops & prosecutors, and easily exploit the deficiencies of a plethora of mob rats that are so commonplace in today’s rackets.

‘Omerta’, the mafia’s once sacred code of silence, is all but extinct, a thing of the past.  There is no honor these days and the Don knew it.  It’s all about the money.

Now in his seventies, and with most of his contemporaries either dead or in prison, the Don’s focus lately was more on choosing his successor than running the day-to-day operations of Philly’s most powerful mafia organization.

 On this brisk, winter night however, inside his cozy townhome, he was simply trying to enjoy his favorite Mario Lanza aria with an after-dinner cannoli and espresso.  This would have been easy, if the Don’s wife of thirty years wasn’t staring viciously at his beloved Chihuahua, Buddy.

The Don feeds Buddy a piece of cannoli under the table.

His wife snickers.
“Your kids you beat, this mutt you spoil!”
The Don smiles at her hatefully.
“Kids want your heart & soul, a house, money!  All he wants is some scraps and a little love.”
She won’t relent.
“Isn’t it time for his walk?”
The Don shakes his head and gets up.
“Come on, Buddy.”
Buddy spins around happily.  The Don grabs his coat, snaps on Buddy’s leash, and takes him outside.  As the Don and Buddy leave the house, his bodyguard rises to accompany him, familiar with the after-dinner routine.
“Time to walk the dog, boss?”
“Yeah, let’s go.”
As they walk down the steps, the bodyguard motions to the driver of the sedan parked across the street to follow them. The driver pulls out slowly and shadows them down the street, protectively covering them through the neighborhood.
Content that Buddy has relieved himself and refreshed by the walk in the crisp night air, the Don turns to his bodyguard.
“It’s a beautiful night.”
In one motion, the bodyguard steps back quickly to give himself distance, and pulls out an automatic concealed in his sweatsuit.
“A beautiful night to die.”
The Don has no time to react. BANG! BANG! The bodyguard shoots him in the chest, exploding blood through the Don’s flesh and shirt.  He crumples to the ground as the bodyguard stands over him, coldly emptying his round into the lifelong mobster. BANG! BANG! BANG!

The gunshots resonate loudly, shattering the still of the night. Blood gushes onto the sidewalk and cascades down the curb into the street.  Buddy, still attached by leash to the Don’s wrist, whimpers helplessly as his master’s life leaves him.  The driver of the sedan pulls forward quickly so the bodyguard can hop in. Tires screech and rubber burns as the sedan vanishes into the darkness.
In one violent instant, Salvatore Costa’s thirty-year reign over Philly’s rackets has come to a sudden, brutal end.


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