A COLD CASE

Word on the street was Louie “No Nose” Lombardo was sprung from the slammer. His early release spelled big trouble; besides seeking revenge, Louie heard his sworn enemy Tony “The Cutter” Tedesco had been sniffing around his wife. 

Louie and Tony weren’t always enemies. In fact when they were kids they were inseparable. They would ride their bikes down to the empty lot where they’d scrounge around for discarded cigarette butts with just enough left for a couple of drags. They played stickball in the street with a broom handle and a Spaldeen. During the summer they’d hitchhike to Orchard Beach and sneak in through an opening in the fence. 

One day around Christmas Louie got caught in Woolworth’s trying to shoplift an angel ornament for his mother. When the store manager realized Louie’s father was held in high regard by the members of La Cosa Nostra, he looked the other way. And he let Louie keep the ornament saying “He didn’t want any trouble”. 

Tony’s father was a mortician for the Sisto Funeral Home and you better believe he knew where the bodies were buried. He wasn’t called “The Undertaker” for nothing. Sometimes the boys would sneak in after a wake to check the big sofa cushion for loose change. 

Louie’s father was the manager of Luca’s Ristorante, a well-known mob hangout. Luca Lombardo knew what side his bread was buttered on; syndicate bosses like Rocco “TNT” Randazzo and their soldiers were all welcome at Luca’s. 

For the first 19 years of their lives nothing or no one could come between Louie and Tony – that is until Rocco brought his  daughter Rosanna to the restaurant. Rosanna was a vixen – long chestnut hair, flawless bronze skin, smoky hazel eyes and a body that could melt the mozzarella right off your pizza. 

Rosanna was a real tease and Tony and Louie fell hard. She hooked up with both, enjoying the game of pitting them against each other, watching their animosity grow like rival nations. After stringing them along for over a year, Rosanna chose Louie. He hungrily kissed his future bride’s mouth as Tony glared at them. 

Rocco gave the couple his blessing along with an extravagant wedding, a lavish honeymoon in Italy and a beautiful house. It wasn’t long before Rocco brought Louie into the family “business”. A year later Rosanna had a baby and her jilted lover Tony was invited to the christening party. Louie paraded Rosanna around the room on his arm like a trophy while Rocco proudly displayed his first grandson. Tony lost it. He and Louie starting fighting. Pushing and shoving led to punches, then the switchblades came out. Suddenly Tony’s brother Angelo lunged at Rocco and Louie intervened, fatally stabbing Angelo. Tony whirled, slicing off most of Louie’s nose. 

At his trial Louie was charged with manslaughter and sent up the river to Dannemora. Rocco told Louie to sit tight; he’d take care of everything; he was indebted to Louie for saving his life. “Whatever you want I’ll make it happen” Rocco pledged. Louie whispered in his ear and Rocco replied “Consider it done.”

Rocco called in some favors, greased a few palms and made the Governor an offer he couldn’t refuse by reminding him of the sex scandal that Rocco made disappear. It all fell into place nicely; Louie was pardoned and released.

Two weeks later Louie was staring at a portrait of Tony next to his closed casket at Sisto Funeral Home. The photo of his one-time best friend had to suffice; after being blown to bits by a car bomb there was nothing left of Tony to look at.  

The police have no leads. 

NAR © 2020

Inspired by Fandango’s One-Word Challenge#FOWCoffer

ANDIAMO

I was jogging down the marina boardwalk one day last week, my two loyal yellow labs, Daisy and Molly, right by my side. It had been quite a while since we were out together like this and the warm sun felt great on my face. I had locked myself away in my apartment after the death of my beloved black lab, Duke, only taking the girls out when necessary. 

But that day I looked at them and realized how my melancholy had affected them. They had become as listless and lost as I. Well, this wasn’t fair to anyone – staying cooped up inside mourning – so off we went on that beautiful day in May. At first it felt like forced fun, just not right being at our favorite place without our buddy, Duke. We started out slowly, three sad sacks just moseying down by the sea, but soon the smell of saltwater and the spray of the ocean began to invigorate us and we picked up our pace. 

“Yeah, we needed this, girls. It’s good to be back outside, isn’t it?” and Daisy and Molly looked up at me, their big brown eyes happy again. 

We rounded a curve in the boardwalk and off in the distance I noticed a big Cadillac with tinted windows parked outside one of the warehouses. We drew closer and I saw the chauffeur leaning against the car, working on his tan. As we jogged by, the guy yelled out “Yo, pal! Looks like you lost your dog.” 

Caught off guard by his statement, I stopped abruptly, nearly tumbling over the girls. With a quizzical expression on my face, I looked at the guy. Without saying a word, he pointed to the leash I had tied around my waist … Duke’s leash … for old time’s sake. 

“Oh, this” I said somewhat sheepishly, and before I realized what was happening, I told this total stranger my sad story about Duke. 

To my utter disbelief this hulking goon of a guy broke down like a baby, telling me about his dog that died when he was a kid. Just then the door to the warehouse flew open and a couple of very large, intimidating men came out followed by a short squatty guy chomping on a cigar and sporting the most ridiculous toupee I’ve ever seen. 

This little guy was obviously the boss. He walked around the back of the car and stood there shaking his head. “Mama mia, Bruno, it’s been thirty years since Spot died. I get it. I’m a dog lover myself but enough’s enough. This happens every friggin time. Now say bye bye to the nice doggies and get in the car.” 

Wiping his nose on his sleeve, Bruno did as instructed. It was only when the car door opened that I spotted the lustrous black lab in the front seat and my heart stopped for a second. 

“Papa’s here, Leonardo” said the man with the toupee. “Andiamo, Bruno! Let’s go home.” 

NAR © 2019