Samuel Augustino Vitali was not impressed.
It was almost midnight on a Friday night and he was sitting in a stinking discothèque with an unbelievable racket that passed of music that bounced off, and through the walls and seemed to rattle his ancient but startling pearly white teeth. With him were his trusted personal security, Little Paulie and Gino No Nose.
Little Paulie was not as little as his moniker might imply. Tipping the scales at a hefty three hundred and twenty pounds he was a gorilla of a man who seem to possess the one eyebrow that hung heavy over his brow. His perfectly tailored blue suit hid some of his paunch and with hisjet black eyes that seemed to perfectly match his slicked back hair he was certainly an imposing figure. His partner was the oddly nicknamed ‘Gino No Nose’.Paul Santino AKA Little Paulie had been with him since the eighties.
Gino No Nose Nostiorelli was a relative newcomer to his organization but he had proven his worth many times, and he had a particularly cruel streak that had come in useful on more than a few occasions. Where Little Paulie was the broardsword, Gino was the rapier. Stick thin and gaunt in the face he had an over bearing nose with nostrils that looked more like gills. He had a touch of grey to his short cropped brown hair but his perfectly maintained tan hid any other signs of age or wear. He was not an attractive man by any stretch of the imagination but he was not at the right hand of the Ghost because of his looks. It was his skills with the gun the knife and the rope that has seen him rise to such prominence. He too was dressed in a perfectly fitted silver suit with a black shirt and silver tie. The Ghost had insisted that anyone who represented him, should carry themselves as if they owned the world and they should always, no matter what, dress the part too. Regardless, Gino No Nose was a man who needed as much window dressing as could be offered.
Samuel Augustino Vitali AKA “Sammy the Ghost” and his husky sidekicks had discreetly let themselves into the unattended mezzanine office of Barry Medonia, the owner of Social Club. He sat in the armchair, one perfectly manicured hand resting on his silver topped ebony wood cane, his face stone, his heart ice, but his mind burning with anger.
At sixty eight years of age Samuel Vitali had a thick crop of silver hair and thick brooding eyebrows that hung over a set of dark, feral eyes. He was in lean shape for a man of his age and he still put in six miles a day on the treadmill, not to mention the miles he put in at the golf course. He had a ferocious look of intelligence and a cold manner that many thought aloof, but those who knew him, knew that his mind was always working, the aloofness was the machine of his mind churning and that mind was lethal.
Sammy the Ghost was the undisputed head of the Chicago Syndicate and had been for almost twenty seven years.
For the last ten years he had been able to keep the actions of the three families that made up the La Cosa Nostra syndicate, as quiet and unobtrusive as possible. Headlines in the Chicago Sun Times did nothing for the Syndicate but attract unnecessary attention, and the Syndicates business was covert, off the radar, their actions almost wraithlike. The enemy of profit, in the eyes of Sammy the Ghost, was unwanted attention.
For three years the FBI had been slowly, painfully, building a giant case of extortion, racketeering and murder against the Chicago Syndicate, centered around the sensational testimony of Louie “the thief” Trellignio. Louie the Thief had agreed to turn states evidence against his former employees when the Syndicate had apparently ordered that his services as chef book keeper be terminated along with his life. Louie Trelligno and Sammy Vitali had been friends since childhood which made the order heartbreaking enough if you could suggest that the Chicago Mob Syndicate even had a heart but it was rumored that Louie the Thief had broken “Omerta”, the code of silence. That was a crime against everyone in the syndicate, and a crime against the Ghost, even a crime against God himself as Judas was a traitor to Jesus, and as such, his life was to be returned back to God for his judgement.
Although scant evidence had been offered against him at the unofficial trial conducted in his absence by the Syndicate, it was understood that in the business they were in, the vow of silence was paramount above all. They all understood that even the suggestion of this code being broken could result in the untimely demise of those accused. Ant that was now the case with Louie “The Thief” Trellignio.
What was extraordinary about Sammy the Ghost’s visit to Barry Medonia’s office was not the fact that visits such as these to a high profile establishment such as the Social Club were usually conducted by syndicate members of considerably lower rank. If it was important enough, the Capo or captain of the crew that handled that area would visit the establishment so it was certainly extraordinarily unusual to have the Boss here, at this place, at this time of night. Unusual enough for it to cause considerable consternation among the three families, hence the covert visit known only to Sammy the Ghost and his two companions.
That was not what was extraordinary.
What was particularly and alarmingly extraordinary was the presence, less than fifty feet away, of Louie “the thief” Trellignio, sworn enemy of the Chicago Syndicate, despicable violator of the code of Omerta, sitting smug and fat, surrounded by two, laughing, thirty something women in low cut dresses and oversized jewelry.
Louie the Thief was supposed to be in protective custody, yet there he sat. In public.
When the Federal Bureau of Investigation corrals the likes of Louie Trellignio, a high ranking Syndicate member who has agreed to testify against his employers, the Attorney Generals Office will usually sequester such a key witness for their case and key to their case Louie Trellignio certainly was to a Federal building, or safe house, stashed securely under federal protection of the Justice Department free from influence…and harm.
But he wasn’t. He was here. Decidedly unprotected.
Sammy the Ghost’s trusted Lieutenant Tony Orzoca AKA “Tony O” had called on the Ghosts disposable cell phone number, known only to his immediate and most trusted employees, and had called him to the Club at the last minute. As part of their heightened security and continual vigilance with keeping all things Syndicated off the radar and quiet, each week the Ghost got a new phone and a new number. At the beginning of each week that number would be given to the top Lieutenants and to them only. Any call that came to the Ghost on that phone was considered important or urgent.
“Hey.” said Tony O in his thick south side Chicago drawl.
“Yes.” answered The Ghost
“We got a problem. A big one,” said Tony O
“What do you mean we, you mean you got a problem or you got a problem and you’re making it mine, so now we got a problem?”
“No Boss, this a ‘we’ problem, we got a bird.” There was silence for a moment as the Ghost considered this.
“That friend of ours that got that big room.”
“Him? You sure?”
“It’s confirmed a hundred percent, word is the bird is going to fly south tonight.”
“We know where to?”
“Not yet, but I just got word that he is stopping off to the room to get some spending money.”
“He’ll be there in an hour.”
“Get over there.”
”I’m already on my way, I’ll be there in five minutes.”
“I’ll be there in ten, wait for me.”
“You sure Boss?” asked Tony O
“I gotta know for sure, for me, before we do anything.” said Sammy the Ghost
“You got it.” said Tony O and hung up.
Tony O waited on the outer side of the huge Social Club dance floor. With his contempt barely contained he stared at the Thief wishing above all else that he would be the one to get the order to take this piece of shit out. It would be so easy right now to walk past him, gun under the jacket folded over his arm, pop, pop, pop, three shots to the head and it was all over. Still orders were orders, and Tony O, if anything, was a man who followed orders. Following orders properly and without fail had meant that his rise to the upper echelons of the Syndicate had been swift and endorsed by everyone who had worked with him. It also meant that he was next in line to be underboss, directly under the Ghost, and that meant a lot more money and a lot of respect.
The Ghost had met Tony O in the back alley of the Social Club and together they went into the Club through the service entrance. As they started up the stairs to Barry Medonia’s office he gasped and grabbed the Ghost’s arm. “Mother fucker” he said as he pointing to a VIP booth. “It’s that fucking rat!”
The Ghost stood frozen as he saw Louie Trellignio in the booth with two women, neither of whom he recognized.
He swore. What was that idiot doing? He would fuck up everything!
He looked around urgently. His pulse racing at about the same speed as his heart. Three years of planning and this scicareddhu was going to blow it for some pussy? He knew something smelt like two week old cheese but he didn’t know what.
He pulled Tony O to him and whispered urgently in his ear
“You watch him, tell your two guys to watch for this other fucking idiot, get Donnie to go over this place top to bottom looking for the Badges and don’t do anything until I tell you Capisci?
Tony O nodded grimly and walked down the stairs to bark instructions to his two henchmen. So there Sammy the Ghost sat. Trapped.
He sat quietly in Barry Medonia’s office, his face a cold mask, only his brightly burning eyes gave any hint of the anger seething violently on the inside, desperately trying to understand how Louie Trellignio could be here. He was stuck there until he got the word that the place was clear and there were no Feds in the club.
The door opened and Barry Medonia came bustling through the door with a chortling, curvy brunette on his arm. Dressed in a three piece beige Armani suit, with his cream Versace shirt opened carefully to the third button, the portly fifty three year old Italian had done impressively well with the Social Club. Annual receipts were close to eight million a year of which four hundred thousand a year was graciously delivered to Sammy the Ghost. Barry paid the tax dutifully and without complaint and received considerable support from the Syndicate. Everyone was happy in their relationship and Barry had never imagined there would ever be any cause for problems with his benefactors. He was a loyal guy from the neighborhood and for him up until that night at least life was good.
He stopped dead in his tracks as he saw the Ghost sitting in the chair impassive, and the brunette gasped in fright.
Little Paulie grabbed the woman by the arm and jostled her out the door, huffing her protestations to Barry who ignored her. He shut the door behind her and the Ghost gestured for Barry to take a seat, which Barry obediently did.
Barry knew he was in trouble; there had been no kiss on the cheek, pat on the back greeting, which usually meant that this was serious. Deadly serious. He didn’t know what for, he always paid on time, he had made some good money for the families these past three years so it was with genuine confusion that Barry asked meekly “Everything ok Sammy?”
The Ghost sat there impassive, silent for a full two minutes before he answered.
“You going somewhere Barry? he asked quietly.
“No Sammy, not at all,” stammered the very confused, very frightened Barry Medonia.
The Ghost leaned forward on his silver tipped cane and gestured for Barry to lean forward also, which Barry did.
“Barry,” he said quietly his voice low and sibilant, almost a whisper. “I want you to be very careful in the answer that you choose to give me when I ask you that question again. If you are not careful and you choose the wrong answer, my two companions and I will be the only ones to walk out of this office tonight, do you understand Barry?”
Barry heard the click of a gun’s safety catch being released behind him.
When Barry was at high school his classmates had given him the name “fish face” due to the size of his eyes, which would expand exponentially with the stress that he was placed under, and under great duress his face would take on a remarkable goldfish like appearance, his eyes bulbous and huge. Barry looked very much like a goldfish as he stammered his understanding.
“Yes Sammy, I understand Sammy”.
Sammy waited for another minute before he asked the question again. “Are you going somewhere Barry? The Ghost repeated.
Barry’s sweaty lip started to quiver “Sammy, I swear to you on my kid’s eyes, I ain’t going nowhere, please believe me!” he beseeched him plaintively
Samuel Vitali was, by his own reckoning, a civilized man. He often wondered at the choice of phrases that men would employ to emphasize a point, especially when the point was one that could mean their life. For a man to beg for his life and use his children’s eyes as an oath was particularly distasteful and truly galling to him. Why, he wondered, would you not say ‘I swear on my own eyes’ instead of “I swear on my kids eyes”? What had your children done to deserve such a fate? I would never take the eyes from your children if your oath was found to be false he thought. The very idea was distasteful and quite horrible. “Your eyes however,” thought The Ghost, “I would delight in scooping out with a spoon.”
Barry felt the cold barrel of a gun pressed to the back of his head and he knew he was going to die. Gino No Nose pushed the gun forward against his scalp and looked to his boss for the go ahead.
The Ghost gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head and Gino, almost reluctantly, removed the gun placing it back in its holster, safety off. Ready for business should he get the nod.
The Ghost was concerned.
Nothing about Barry’s behavior made any sense. If he was leaving town after making a deal with the Feds he was not in any great hurry. He had noticed the bottle of champagne on ice and the two glasses that were sitting on Barry’s side board and the last thing a rat on the run does is come back to his place of employment to drink champagne and fuck. It didn’t make any sense. Barry was a smart guy, if he had turned, then he would have been on the first plane out of there, suitcase full of cash, never to be heard from again. He had decided then that Barry wasn’t a rat, which meant that someone had duped Tony O or Tony O was lying which was unlikely as Tony O was next in line to be Underboss, which meant much, much more money. And Tony loved money.
He thought of Louie Trelligno out in the club and Barry being sold out as a rat when he wasn’t one. Nothing made sense. He began to get an uneasy itch in the back of his mind and he it dawned on him that there was a hidden player who had orchestrated this for reasons that might soon make themselves clear, very quickly. Then he realized.
It was a setup!
He jumped out of his chair, cursing to himself for such amateurish lack of foresight and barked the order to leave immediately, when suddenly; there was an almighty crash by the dance floor. Little Paulie and Gino No Nose immediately drew their guns and rushed to the door.
The Dance floor was in chaos.
The Ghost brushed past his henchmen and saw a great pile of rubble and a thin cloud of dust lit up by the dance floor laser lights slowly seep upwards like a chalky fog. People were running and screaming and there was a huge rush of people streaming for the exits. He saw a woman with her skirt hiked up by her hips and panties flapping around one leg run screaming past he booths.
It was then that the Ghost saw Tony O.
He was face down on the dance floor, his gun in his hand, blood spurting from his head forming a red pool, which the horror stricken crowd slid and Slipped on adding to their terror.
As The Ghost and his two companions rushed down the stairs he saw through the hazy, chalky cloud of dust and colored lights another body. The body of Louie Trelligno with half of his head missing, sprawled out on the table in a pool of blood and bony grime. His head looked like a pumpkin that had a hole kicked in it.
In haste, the Ghost with Barry Medonia in two, prodded on by the sharp jabs in the back of Little Paulie made it to the back alley door. Gino brought the Limousine around and with everyone safely ensconced they screeched out of the alleyway, the Ghost’s favorite silver tipped cane left on the alleyway floor. The Ghost turned back and he saw a bloody, dust covered male, being dragged, hopping and scrambling by a burly bouncer with a grim face towards the alleyway door from which they had just left.
As the limousine screeched away Sammy the Ghost knew that three years of meticulous planning had just gone up in chalky colored smoke.
One of his top Lieutenants had been shot and killed in front of hundreds of witnesses, the Government’s key informant in a major case against the Chicago Syndicate had also been murdered, and the quiet, dark business of the three families was about to be placed under a very, very bright light.
Louis the thief Trelligno was indeed a key witness for the FBI.
His testimony was supposed to be incredibly damning and would devastate the Chicago Syndicate.
The FBI’s entire case had taken an entirely different path when Louis Trelligno had come looking to them for protection.
“Get me on the stand,” he had told the FBI, “and I will blow your mind. The Chicago families will be finished forever.” The stories he told and the intricate details he revealed were a wet dream for the FBI. They couldn’t get him on the stand fast enough. The hastily expedited congressional hearing was scheduled to start next Monday.
Louie the Thief Trelligno’s damning testimony however, had been painstakingly prepared and written, by Samuel “The Ghost” Augustino Vitali.
The Chicago Mob had almost pulled off the biggest bait and switch in history until their perfectly placed double agent, cloaked with meticulously constructed shame and subterfuge was murdered, and the blame for his death laid squarely at the feet of Sammy the Ghost.