It was 1956 in New York City, the war was officially over and America was on a steady road to recovery but I personally had a long way to go before I recovered from the war as my father had died in battle. I will always remember the day my mother received the letter confirming her worst fear, the crisp envelope lying on the coffee stained table, my mother’s eyes filled with tears as she read it. No matter how hard I try, I will never forget that day. Just a few months later my mother had a stress induced nervous breakdown and was taken out of the city to a nursing home to be treated. I never saw or heard from her again but I think about her every time I close my eyes. So there I was, a 14 year old boy with no parents having to fend for myself in the big apple, I lived out of bins for weeks, eating mouldy left over pieces of pizza people has thrown away and that was only if the rats didn’t get to it first. I was close to dying from starvation and in a way was almost hoping for death to wrap me in its arms and take me away. I was sitting on a freezing, snow covered bench in my dirty brown shorts and orange striped t shirt that now had holes in and was practically falling off me, when a young man around the same age as me and an older gentleman I presumed to be his father approached me. The young boy introduced himself as “Sammy” and the older man as “junkie Jones”. Sammy was skinny with brown hair, sparkly blue eyes and just a faint hint of freckles who spoke with a squeaky New York accent; I thought he was very attractive. Junkie was a tall muscular man with a thick brown moustache, the same sparkly blue eyes as his son and he had a very deep husky voice that almost made him sound like he was growling, there was something about his presence that made me feel safe and because of this I accepted when they asked me would I like a warm place to stay for the night and although curious as to why they would be so nice, anything was better than staying on that bench for even a minute longer. As I stood to introduce myself a car pulled around, I was surprised to see it was convertible black 1955 mercury as only the very rich could afford such a car. I was even more surprised when junkie opened the door and told me to hop in. The car had cream leather interior that still had that new smell to it, it was the first time I had ever been in such a grand car and it was a wonderful experience. I sat in the back with Sammy as junkie drove down a very long newly tarred road. I introduced myself as Johnny and told them how grateful I was that they were letting me stay the night. “Junkie” told me how he had seen me around the city a few times and mentioned a time he seen me fight outside the pizza shop on 22nd street with some street thugs trying to take my last dollar, he told me it takes a brave mentality to not back down and that I definitely had potential to move on to bigger things, I was curious as to what he meant by this but before I could ask we pulled to a stop. “Junkie” got out and open up the huge double silver gates that where in front of the car, he got back in and continued to drive up a perfectly lit driveway that led to a huge modern house, with a beautifully decorated front garden. I decided to not ask what he meant by his last comment. We got out of the car and stepped into the house where Junkie was welcomed by his wife Jane. Junkie explained to her how they had found me in the city just hours away from death so had brought me to stay with them until I could find somewhere to go. Jane gave me a hug and told me that I was more than welcome to stay as long as I liked, as she hugged me I could smell a strong fruity scent from her perfume, for some reason the smell reminded me of my mother and I never wanted her to let go. Jane ushered me into a room that had a big wooden table with all sorts of wonderful silverware set out and a huge roast chicken right in the centre of the table. We all sat down at the table and for what must have been the first time in months, I had a decent meal. After dinner I was given some soft silk pyjamas to wear and was told I would be sharing Sammy’s room, the walls in his room were decorated with a warm purple flower pattern and the floor had a huge black rug in the centre, it was like my own personal heaven compared to the dark cold streets of New York. My first night there Sammy and I talked for hours about everything from growing up and the things that had happened in our lifetime to our dreams and future plans. I felt a connection to him that I had never felt before and it made me feel fuzzy.
I had been living with “junkie” and his family for 3 months and I had settled in well when one day Jane called me into the dining room and asked me to sit down. I was curious and slightly worried but I did not know why. Jane looked upset and said she had something important to ask me, I nodded nervously to show I was listening, she then explained to me that her and Junkie had been talking and were wondering If I would like to live with them…permanently! I was taken aback, there were so many thoughts rushing through my head but one thought more prominent than any of the others “this could be the family I never got to have”.
A few years had been and gone since I had accepted “Junkie” and Jane’s offer to become a part of their family and each day I felt like I was recovering that little bit more from the trauma of losing everyone I ever cared about and living on the streets so close to certain death. Me and Sammy, both now 17 were inseparable, we did everything together. I always made myself aware of the fact that I had a new family that loved me now and a house where I felt safe and It was all because of junkie. I know if he wanted to, he could have just walked past me when he seen me that night and I would most likely be dead now, so I am forever grateful to him for taking pity on me.
I was in the house one morning, Jane had gone out to get some groceries when I heard Junkie walk through the door, he called me and Sammy from my room and as I walked down the stairs he was standing there with another man, the man he was with had a clean, black, tailor made suit on with a black and white shaped handkerchief in the breast pocket, there was something about the way they stood there staring at us as we walked down the stairs that made me feel queasy. Junkie told us he wanted us to meet his close friend who had recently been released from prison. His name was Vinnie Carlone, he was clean shaven with black, slicked back greasy hair that he was combing all the time we were standing there and a very prominent scar across his left eye which was also a discoloured grey from his right piercing green eye. We came down the stairs and shook hands and then “Junkie” told us to follow him to the dining room so we could discuss something.
We sat around the table and listened in awe as “Junkie” told us how when he was a child his parents, who were Italian immigrants, were murdered by one of New York City’s biggest crime families and that he came from living on the streets like me, to meeting Vinnie when he was 15 and getting into petty theft before being introduced to a man called don Malone, he explained don Malone was the head of the crime family that killed his parents and he was sure this was the man who ordered the hit. He went on to tell us how him and Vinnie set up don Malone and killed him and this was the reason Vinnie was sent to prison. “Why are you telling us this” I asked. “Do you remember the day I brought you home and what I said to you about potential?” I nodded back to his question. “Well this is the potential I am talking about. Once me and Vinnie killed don Malone, every crime family in new York city was looking for us, but like you with those street thugs trying to take your last dollar, we were not going to run, we made our own criminal empire, with me running things on the outside and Vinnie controlling things inside prison and over many years we have rose to be the biggest crime family in New York and you and Sammy are going to take over from us”
It was a warm July morning; it had been several months since the conversation in the dining table. me and Sammy were in the house having dinner when Junkie rang and told us to head over to meet him at the café on 21st street, when we arrived, he told us that now was the time to start doing business, we would have to start at the bottom like him and Vinnie he said but assured us that soon enough we would run New York with the same violence and power he currently had. There was a guy who worked down at the shipping yard who got involved with one of Vinnie’s goons and had taken drugs without paying so Junkie told us we had to “teach him a lesson”.
Me and Sammy headed down to the shipping yard armed with a baseball bat and a butterfly knife, as soon as we got to the shipping yard we knew the man we had to get, he was a fat Columbian guy, in his late 40’s with curly black hair and a face only a mother could love. I called him over and asked about Vinnie’s money, he denied having any involvement, but we knew this was the guy and we had to get the job done. “break his legs” I told Sammy, he swung the bat hard and it hit the guy dead in the knee cap, he yelled out in pain and dropped to the floor but before he had a chance for his head to actually touch the ground Sammy hit him again, this time in the face, there was a loud crack as the man’s jaw snapped out of place. “Are you going to give us the money and drugs or are you going to keep making me hurt you” Sammy asked. “ok” he replied through muffled screams, then pulled a small bag out of his pocket with no more than $10 worth of cocaine in, we took it and left. The ride home was silent as I was too busy thinking about how we had just beaten a man down with a baseball bat for ripping off Vinnie a measly $10 but I remember what junkie told us at the dining table and that was “if people don’t give you respect then you take it from them”.
The image of Sammy beating that man was still fresh in my head when we got home that night. I had never seen him so violent before and seeing the way he had run things down at the shipping yard somehow left me with a new found respect for him.
Business-wise things moved fast from there and we started making more money but I always had this voice in the back of my head telling me that I was nothing more than a pawn in Junkie and Vinnie’s twisted game of violence and power but at the same time I loved the rush I got knowing that every job I did I was that step closer to being at the top with the big shot’s and wise guy’s. within a few months I was so focused on rising to the top of the criminal empire that my life now revolved around it, it was like a drug that had taken over me, the more dangerous and violent my life got, the more I craved the sweet satisfaction of one day being where Junkie was.
I remember my father once told me when I was a kid “what comes around goes around”, it was a fairly common saying so I didn’t really take much notice when he told me, I often wonder now though if I had listened to him then maybe I could have avoided the disastrous repercussion’s that came with living such a violent life.
It was 1963, me and Sammy were now in our early 20s and had moved on from beating people down to making our own money selling cocaine and bootleg alcohol, the money was rolling in fast and I eventually made enough to buy my first car, a 1960 Cadillac with an ocean blue streak going down the length of hood to boot, it was more beautiful than words can describe and I loved it. The business was going really good, me and Sammy were running things how we wanted to and our names were known all over the city, this was very handy when trying to get into all the swanky “members only” clubs that were all around the city. Women loved us, men envied us and we felt untouchable to say the least but with every rise there is a fall and that fall happened on 12th march 1964.
We were selling a big batch of cocaine to the Irish gangs on east brook avenue, we were supposed to be meeting at our own agreed destination but the Irish felt uneasy about this so, like throwing ourselves into the lion’s den, we went down to their neighbourhood. The sun was shining as we pulled up onto the gravel path in my Cadillac. Me and Sammy both decided to go, but brought 2 of our goons just in case. Before we even had a chance to close the door of my car, 30 Irish came running out of the house opposite armed with guns and machetes, we were easily outnumbered and knew if we didn’t get out of there we were facing certain death, we got back into the car, I hit the ignition and drove at them with full speed. I felt a huge thud and before I had even realised what had happened I heard a loud, ear shattering scream. I looked down and realised I had ran over the youngest of the Irish. He must have been about 12 years old. I soon enough found out his name was jimmy Maguire, and my car was now parked neatly on top of his crushed skull. It was all over in a second. We sped away fast, as the Irish chased us, shooting out the back window of my Cadillac and screaming like the savage animals they had now become. Once we had made it home, we thought that would be the end of it, they set us up but they lost, little did we realise, this was just the beginning.
A few weeks after I had killed the kid in the Irish gang, I was still having trouble dealing with it; every time I went to sleep I would see his crushed and mangled body under my car, his face covered in blood. Your mind changes after you kill someone, I can’t really explain how but you always feel different. I knew I had to pull myself together though as Junkie and Vinnie had warned me that the Irish were guaranteed to hit back and when they did, it was going to be hard.
Soon enough the Irish retaliated, and in the most horrific way possible. Jane had been out shopping near the Irish neighbourhood, oblivious to the fact her husband, son and me were now at war with the Irish gangs that occupied the surrounding area, the leader of the Irish, which also happened to be the father of the young boy I killed, seen Jane and recognised her as junkie’s wife. He dragged her into an alleyway and executed her with a shot to the back of the head. The police found the body a few hours later. Me and Vinnie were there when the police told junkie and Sammy the news. For the first and only time ever, I saw him and Sammy cry. They broke down in front of me and you could hear the pain that came out of them as they whimpered on the ground. I hugged and comforted Sammy as Vinnie had done for Junkie.
As we all grieved the death of Jane, business was put on hold, none of us did anything except make plans for her funeral, we all told each other that we were doing ok but I knew that inside all of us there was a burning rage, a hatred that I cannot put into words, for the man who killed Jane, and if it was the last thing we ever did, that man was going to pay a price worse than death when we got hold of him. Junkie had changed after Jane’s death. He no longer had the sparkly blue in his eyes that made me feel so safe when I had first met him; instead he looked cold and evil like he was on the verge of taking out his gun and blowing his brains out all over the kitchen walls. I wanted to comfort him and tell him everything was going to get better but I knew deep down that things were only going to get worse.
It was the day of Jane’s funeral and as the rain poured down on us and we all stood around mourning her tragic death I looked around at the people who were at the funeral and realised that I had never met any of them apart from Vinnie, junkie and Sammy. This surprised me considering I had been running things with these guys for more than 5 years now, yet had never met any of their associates, although I quickly realised that this would soon change.
Revenge is sweet
Not long after the funeral, junkie told me he wanted me to meet another friend of his, he said his name was tommy “sweet” castle and that he was the guy who took care of the more gruesome things that the family needed to get done. I assumed, and later found my assumption to be right, that Sweet was the family’s hit man and it was his job to dispose of the bodies that were brought in. junkie had hired him to torture and kill the man who killed Jane. we pulled up to the café were we were meeting Sweet and got out of the car, as we did, a tall, very handsome man, with short black hair and gleaming white teeth walked over to us. “Nice to meet you, I’m Sweet” he said in a posh English accent. I smiled and shook his hand and we all walked into the café together, as we sat down junkie told Sweet everything that happened over the past months, me killing the Irish kid, the man killing Jane. He then handed over a folder with a picture of the man that he was to kill. As junkie spoke, Sweets eyes lit up and I noticed he had now gone from tall, dark and handsome to looking slightly unhinged and this made me feel very uncomfortable. We talked for roughly an hour or so, walked to the cars and finally left. I would meet Sweet only once more again in my entire life.
With the Irish being taken care of by Sweet and Jane’s funeral finally out of the way we could finally get back to business but junkie decided that it was time for me and Sammy to move on from selling cocaine and alcohol and start getting the younger goons who hung around us to sell the drugs and alcohol for us so we could focus on bigger things. Junkie told us about a meeting we had to go to that would officially bring us into the family and explained that the reason me and Sammy never knew anyone at Jane’s funeral was because the people who are on top of the family don’t socialise with the younger goons until they prove that they can be a loyal asset to the family and that this meeting was going to be our chance to prove ourselves.
That night we got into our cars and drove for what must have been 4 hours. When we finally stopped we had arrived at a huge mansion with around 13 cars parked outside, me and Sammy stepped out of the car with our new black suits and shoes on and followed junkie inside to a large room filled with about 18 men sitting around table. The room fell silent as we walked in and everyone turned to look at us, some men got up to exchange pleasantries with junkie but ignored me and Sammy. I noticed that the man at the head of the table was very old; he looked like he was just a few hours from death and didn’t move much. We were ushered over to sit down, and then the old man introduced himself as Don Santana. He spoke with a croaky voice and he breathed heavily as he forced his words out, “why are you here” he asked. Before I had a chance to reply junkie replied “There here because they have potential to take over after us when we are no longer here, Don”. A grin appeared on the old man’s face as he calmly said “I will see about that” followed a second later by a furious shout of “bring him in”.
2 men burst through the door dragging a blindfolded and man with them. The 2 men threw the man on the table, ripped open his shirt and pulled out a knife. Don Santana looked at me with heartless eyes and said “take the knife and kill him, boy”. I looked at junkie, unsure of what to do but he just looked at me with a blank, emotionless face. “If you want to be in this family then I suggest you do as your told” the old man said in a more agitated voice. I took the knife and knew what I had to do; I knew that if I didn’t kill this man then these men would surely kill me so I decided there and then that my own life was more important than this mans. I wasn’t just thinking of myself though, I was thinking of everyone I cared about as I had a very good feeling that they would surely hurt Sammy aswell as me. I took the knife and plunged it directly into the man’s heart; blood squirted out, with quite some force, onto my face and the man franticly squirmed in pain. After a few minutes his body finally gave up and I knew he was dead. I got off the table and wiped my now blood soaked face. “Welcome to the family” said the Don Santana with an evil smile on his face.
It was December 19th 1964, the year was coming to an end and Me, Sammy, junkie and Vinnie were looking forward to putting the events of the year behind us. With the Irish being taken care of by Sweet, and me and Sammy now part of the family’s empire, things were finally starting to feel normal again. None of us were in particularly high spirits as Christmas neared but as I sat in my armchair, smoking a cigar, I realised how peaceful I was. I savoured that moment knowing that the next year was going to be even more violent and bloody than the one we were leaving, If I made it through next year that is.
The New Year came and went in a haze of drugs and alcohol and before I knew it we were right back to work. What was considered work had now changed again though because since we had become a part of the family, our responsibilities changed, so instead of me and Sammy having to make ourselves money, we had to make the family money that they would then launder in offshore accounts or pump back in to the gangs we controlled, so our first job in the new year… beating down men at the shipping yard, again. I felt like me and Sammy were back to square one and I wasn’t happy about it, I went to see Vinnie, who had given us the job, so I could tell him he could kiss my ass if he thought I was going back to shaking workers down for change.
When I got to his house there was no one in but his front door was ajar. I decided to let myself in and as I walked down the hallway to his living room I noticed the phone was off the hook, I was overcome with a feeling of dread as I opened the living room door and saw Vinnie lying there covered in blood. Someone had cut out his throat and carved an S into his forehead. I had a feeling the S was a sign for snitch but I couldn’t be sure. I called Junkie up and told him what had happened; he seemed surprisingly calm when he heard the news and told me he would be right over with Sammy. When they finally arrived junkie handed me some black bags and gloves and told me we were going to take Vinnie’s body to Sweet. I helped Sammy and Junkie cut up Vinnie with a saw and knife, and then put him into separate bags in the corner of the room. The smell was horrendous considering he couldn’t have been dead for more than a few hours. We cleaned up and scrubbed the carpet, loaded the bags into the trunk and drove on to see Sweet. After we had left, there was no way of telling someone had been murdered there.
I was curious as to how Sweet was able to get rid of so many bodies so easily. I decided to ask Junkie about it. “I will spare you all the grizzly details Johnny but let’s just say if I was you, I wouldn’t eat the hot dogs from Westbrook cafe” he replied, with a heavy laugh. We had arrived at a slaughterhouse just out of the city and I realised what Junkie had meant by his earlier comment. We were greeted by Sweet wearing a white butcher’s gown covered in blood. “Hey guys come on through” he said in his posh English accent with such happiness that it sounded like he was inviting us to check out his stamp collection. Even though he was wearing a blood covered butcher’s gown he still looked superb, with not a single hair out of place and the same wide smile from my first encounter with him. Junkie walked in to the slaughterhouse with Sweet and left me and Sammy to pick up the bags with Vinnie’s remains in. we carried them through into the slaughterhouse that had rotting meat hanging on hooks or in the corners of the room. It was everywhere, the smell was so strong that me and Sammy were gaging. We dropped the bags on the side and continued walking up towards were Sweet and Junkie were standing.
Before we had reached them I stopped Sammy and asked him “do you want to explain why you and Junkie are so calm about Vinnie’s death?” I then pointed over to Junkie standing there laughing hysterically along with Sweet. “I will explain later” he replied with a serious face. Junkie walked back to us and told us that we would be gone in just a moment but he first had to show us something. We entered a small dark room at the back of the slaughter house and were all instantly overcome with the smell of rotting meat, Junkie pointed to what looked to be the left over bits of a pig. “That’s the Irish bastard who killed Jane” Junkie said with a huge grin on his face. “I told you boys Sweet would get the job done” he chuckled. I looked at Junkie and realised how much he had changed; as I looked into his eyes I could sense the heartbreak and pain he was feeling and how lost his mind was from being unable to cope with Jane’s death. I could relate to how he felt, having lost my father in the war and my mother being taken away, Jane had become the mother I needed and now she had been cruelly taken from me too. I was surprised at how calm I had managed to stay throughout everything that had happened in my life though and I knew that I had to take care of Junkie like he had taken care of me for all these years.
We left the slaughterhouse and drove home. When we were finally alone I told Sammy to tell me what was going on. He explained how Junkie had found out Vinnie was planning to take all the money we had made, tip the police off about the murders and then skip the country. Thankfully, because of someone with information in the police force, the family managed to take care of him before any of it went down, saving all of us from a life time in prison. I was relieved that I had just been saved from going to prison but the way that the family had killed him so easily, like he was nothing more than an animal, made me feel very uneasy. I would soon come to realise how much more grateful I should have been that Vinnie was murdered when he was.
There goes the neighbourhood
After me and Sammy covered up Vinnie’s murder so well the family decided we were too important to be out taking loose change off the shipping yard workers. We were ordered to do a more dangerous job. We met Junkie at the house and he explained that some Jamaican immigrants had taken over a neighbourhood we were dealing cocaine out of and were refusing to give the corner back. He gave us our guns and told us to make sure they didn’t return. As me and Sammy drove down to the Jamaican’s corner I wondered how my life has turned out like this, how I had become so evil. I never wanted to kill anyone, I wanted to make money and live in a big house with a wife and some kids but now it seemed all my life revolved around was death and destruction. I didn’t know how much longer I could do this and I sometimes wondered if I would rather be dead than in the situation I was in. I’m positive that if something went wrong when we went to hit the Jamaican’s and they ended up getting the upper hand, I probably would have let them kill me.
When we finally arrived at the corner, there was only 2 Jamaican’s there. Before we got out of the car I told Sammy that I wanted to try and talk to the guys instead of just executing them in the middle of a busy street, he agreed and we stepped out of the car. As we approached them I noticed they were looking at us suspiciously and saying something, although I couldn’t understand what they were saying as there accents were so thick. “Let me start off by saying, we were sent here to kill you guys for taking over our corner” I said with a smile. The men looked at us in comedic disbelief. “But we don’t want to just shoot you both dead in the middle of a street, so let’s talk” Sammy added. The Jamaican’s said that the only way we were going to get our corner back was if we fought them for it. We agreed that if we won then they would leave and if they won they would get to keep the corner and carry on their business. We walked into the alley, took off our coats and suit jackets and folded them neatly in the corner, to the amusement of the shirtless Jamaican’s.
Sammy was up first to fight; him and the bigger Jamaican both stepped in to the middle of what can only be described as a filth pit. With raised fists, on the count of 3, they began to fight. Sammy threw the first punch, landing directly on the Jamaican’s square head although he was completely unfazed by what looked like a fairly powerful punch. Sammy threw a second punch but missed and the Jamaican used this to his advantage and proceeded to pick Sammy up above his shoulders. He threw him into some bins and then jumped on his head repeatedly. Sammy managed to grab hold of the Jamaican’s leg and bite into it like a savage dog. The Jamaican fell to the ground, screaming. Sammy jumped on top of him and bit into the man’s face, biting off and spitting out bits of his nose and lip. The man screamed in agony as I pulled Sammy off the now horribly disfigured Jamaican. I didn’t have to fight the second man as he ran off, carrying his screaming friend. We assumed that meant they had agreed to leave and sell their drugs elsewhere. I felt a warm relief because, for once, I didn’t have to use violence.
Me and a blood drenched Sammy returned to Junkies house and told him what happened. “As long as there not selling on our corner again, I don’t really give a fuck. We have more important things to worry about at the moment anyway” he told us. He didn’t elaborate on this, so I assumed he would explain in the morning. I went upstairs to rest, knowing that tomorrow was going to be a very long day.
A downward spiral
I woke up the day after we had hit back at the Jamaicans to the sound of Sammy and Junkie having a heated debate in the kitchen. As I walked in junkie had his hands around Sammy’s throat and a knife in his hand. I ran over and pulled junkie off him and told them both to calm down. This was the first time I had ever seen Junkie lay his hands on Sammy. He dropped the knife and told me through his gritted teeth that Sammy had set a deal up with the Columbians to buy some girls they had brought over from Thailand. We could then sell the girls on as prostitutes. He went on to explain that Sammy had double crossed the Columbians, ordered the men he was supposed to meet to be killed and taken the girls to a warehouse. This was a dangerous move on our part because the Columbians controlled everything that came into the city and were our main source of business so without their cooperation we couldn’t bring in anymore drugs and without our drugs coming in, we weren’t making any money.
“Don’t worry, we’ll sort it out, just calm down” I said to Junkie and then left with Sammy to the car. We drove down to the docks so we could think of a way to sort out the huge problem that we were now facing. “What are we going to do, I have really fucked up” Sammy said, his lips trembling as the words left his mouth. He explained how he thought he could give the Columbians fake cocaine, get the girls and take them away before the Columbians had a chance to realise what had happened but unfortunately they realised quicker than he thought they would, a gun fight broke out and the Columbians ended up dead. As we sat looking out at the dock’s water, that had turned a murky green from all the oil’s and poisons that had been dropped off the boats over the years, a plan came to me that could not only solve the problem with the Columbians but also cut them out as the middle men so we could then make a much bigger profit than we were currently making. My plan was simple. Wipe out as many of the Columbians as we could before they even had a chance to hit back at us from Sammy double crossing them. I knew the location of their main warehouse were everything was imported and exported because I had done some deals with them in the past. I decided that if we killed everyone there, we could then take all the drugs, alcohol and money they stored there. It was risky but I knew if we pulled it off we would be looking at a profit of roughly $1 million dollars. Sammy agreed this was the only way we could stop the Columbians bringing down our entire criminal empire that we had worked so hard to build up.
We left the docks and drove home. We knew we would have to ask permission, first off junkie, who would then in turn, have to get permission off Don Santana to clear the attack. If we did it without Don Santana’s permission, it was guaranteed that he would order us to be executed as a truce with the Columbians so business could carry on with them. When we arrived, we told junkie about our plan, and, after some persuading, he agreed to ask the Don for permission but told us we would have to go with him.
A few days later, the meeting with Don Santana was scheduled. He sent a car with his assistant to pick us up and drive because, in his words, he “felt it was safer to not disclose the meeting place to us”. I had a strong sense that he felt this way because of Vinnie’s failed attempt to double cross us just a short time before. On the way to the meeting place I asked to stop so I could buy some cigarettes from the petrol station. We pulled up and I got out of the car. Sammy followed me into the garage. When we came back out a few minutes later junkie was standing a few feet from the petrol station, shouting for us to stay away from the car. I looked on towards the car and noticed the Don’s assistant was now lying face down on the steering wheel with a tie wrapped around his neck. He had been strangled, presumably by Junkie. “Run” junkie screamed at us. Without thinking, we ran towards junkie and all 3 of us continued down a long dark alleyway, leaving the car with the dead assistant in at the petrol station. When we finally stopped I asked Junkie what had happened. He told me he knew that Don Santana would set us up so he could keep up business with the Columbians and that his assistant was actually probably a hit man who was taking us up to the woods to murder us. I didn’t know if I should have believed Junkie or not but at the same time felt I didn’t have a choice. We all knew now that if Junkie was correct, there was going to be a bounty on our heads and every criminal in New York was going to be looking for us and as soon as the murdered assistant at the petrol station was found, the police would also be looking for us. Not knowing who we could trust or who to turn to we decided we had to get out of the city before morning came around. We ran home to grab what money we had in the house and our last few clothes. I decided it was best if we didn’t take the family car as it was fairly recognisable to other mobsters in the city. We busted into a car that was parked up on a quiet street on Westbrook Avenue and headed towards the docks were Junkie assured us his old boat “the rust bucket” was waiting for us. Sure enough as we arrived, there it was and it most definitely lived up to its name. It was a small motor boat, covered in rust, with small holes and a broken off back. I knew there was no way we would be able to get far in it so persuaded Sammy and Junkie to get back in the car and drive to the next state, Connecticut. As we drove down the long open road with the radio on, I thought about everything that had happened. How me and Sammy had gone from rising quickly to the top of New York’s underworld and having everything we ever dreamed of, to losing it all when the top was just out of reach. I thought about how Junkie had gone from being the attractive, confident mobster I remembered, to the shrivelled lonely old man that now sat next me. I wondered if we would ever be able to return to New York but I knew the chances were slim. We had lost everything and as Junkie rambled on about the things we would do in Connecticut I realised it was hard to believe anything he said anymore, his behaviour had become so eccentric since Jane had died, that I wondered if he had just completely broken down mentally and all his actions were based on paranoid stories he had concocted in head. Sadly, I would later be proven right.
On the run
We had been in Connecticut for roughly 6 months, hiding out at a small industrial plot that Junkie had taken over a few years before, to use as a warehouse for alcohol. After a fire broke out there destroying around $1,000 worth of bootleg alcohol he decided to abandon the place just a few months later because he feared that the police would find evidence there that would connect him. When we managed to sneak around the city unspotted and read a newspaper, our faces were plastered all over the front page. “MAFIA HIT MEN ON RUN” said the one newspaper in bold black letters; the paper went on to say that we had been linked to over 13 murders and had connections with officials in the police force and local government. It also added that police had scoured New York but after being unable to find any leads, had called off the investigation until further notice. Although we could finally rest knowing that the police were out of information and would not find us, we were still constantly aware that the Columbians and anyone that had connections to them in New York, including Don Santana and the crime family he controlled, would be looking for us and because of this, we would not return to New York for over 3 years.
I should probably explain now, the rules that are followed in a crime family. You have to understand that being a crime family, we are organised, although we may come across as mindless thugs, there is a law within each family that each member must abide by and it is because of this that we were finally able to return to New York. See, when a mob boss dies, there taken over by their second in command, this is usually the guy who was taken under the wing by the current boss. Don Santana’s second in command was a man named Alan “big al” Montgomery. I had only met him once before at the meeting where I killed the man on the table. Junkie had talked about Big Al before though and told me he was a much more laid back, easy going kind of guy compared to the “ruthless old bastard” that was Don Santana. He told me that he had become close friends with Big Al when he had first joined the family and Al had taken him and Vinnie under his wing. Junkie then went on to explain that once Don Santana dies and Big Al takes over, he would be able to call off the bounty, but because of Vinnie plan to get us all sent down for life and flee the country Junkie was unsure if Big Al would be able to help us. I already knew there was no way he could help us until Don Santana had passed though so all we could do is stay in Connecticut and hope that Don Santana died sooner rather than later.
One day as i made my way into the local town to use the public toilets and hopefully have a quick wash, a newspaper caught my eye. Don Santana’s face was on the front cover under the title “beloved new York businessman Donald Santana has died of a heart attack aged 89” I was in awe as I read about his death and then like a speeding train, it hit me. We could finally return to New York City. I ran back to the warehouse we had been calling home for the past 4 years to tell Sammy and Junkie the news. When I arrived, I handed over the newspaper with a huge smile on my face. Me and Sammy were ecstatic knowing we would finally be returning home after so many years but Junkie was silent. “It is a setup” he warned us. Me and Sammy looked at each other with equally confused faces. “We’re not going home, it is a setup and they’re going to kill us” Junkie yelled. I had known for a long time Junkie was losing his mind bit by bit and living in a warehouse for 4 years certainly wasn’t helping his psyche. Sammy seemed blissfully unaware of his father’s demise into madness but I had a felling he just didn’t want to face the fact that his father was no longer the man he once was. After some very irrational negotiating we managed to get Junkie to agree to come back to the City with us and contact Big Al. We boosted a car that night to take us back into New York. As we drove down the long dark road with the radio on, I had a strong feeling of déjà vu. As we came closer to the city, I could see the skyscrapers with their lights shining bright in the distance. We were finally home.
As soon as we were back in New York City we drove past our old house. It had certainly changed; the beautiful front garden was now overgrown with nettles and vines. Smashed glass bottles and other bits of rubbish covered the driveway. The windows had been boarded up and the once gorgeous blue wooden structure had been burnt to a crisp black. We suspected that someone had petrol bombed the house, hoping we were inside, so they could then collect the bounty off the Columbians and Don Santana. We carried on past the house, reminiscing about all the wonderful times we had in that house. As all the memories came flooding back I remembered when we would all sit down to Jane’s beautiful Sunday roast chicken and then crowd around the television to watch “the $64,000 question”. Those were good times but now everything had changed.
Junkie told me to stop at a payphone on 21st street so he could phone Big Al. He warned us that if Big Al decided to not take down the bounty then we were already as good as dead. Junkie entered the phone box and made the phone call. Me and Sammy looked around at New York’s scenery and I commented on how things had changed since we were last there. The cars were nicer, the people were friendlier and everything seemed to have a nice warm glow to it compared to the grimy, dark streets I so fondly remembered. Junkie stepped out of the phone box and told us Big Al was willing to take the bounty down if we did one job for him. After that we could start over in the city without any repercussions off the Columbians or the family.
Junkie told us that when we had been gone, the family had decided to start business up with the Chinese immigrants of New York because they were easily more powerful than the Columbians, outnumbering the 2 to 1, and were also willing to import and export for less money. The Columbians, upset with Sammy double crossing them and then the family deciding they did not need to do business with them anymore, had started going down to the Chinese controlled neighbourhood and were murdering local’s to try and seize power. Big Al wanted us to go down and stop the Columbians from returning. He gave junkie the address of a man that sold guns to criminals around the city and said he was expecting us.
When we got to the address, it was a suit store. We walked in and a small man sporting glasses and suspenders walked over to us. He looked and sounded like a snake when he spoke. “I’ve been expecting you, follow me down to the back” he hissed. We followed him into the back room and he pulled out a huge wooden crate from under his desk. He opened it to show us all the guns, knives and ammunition he had on offer, “how much for the pistols” I asked. “Take what you like, Al said he got it covered” the man replied. We took the pistols, some bullets and 2 machetes then left.
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