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From the author, Belinda J. Rossetti:
“When a bored corporate paralegal decides to write about the criminal underworld, she looks for a way in. But when she uncovers two murders by the only man she ever trusted, and the Mob wants her dead, she prays for a way out.”
CHAPTER 7 “NEVER ASK QUESTIONS” from the book, “BOUND” A First-Hand Account and Inside Look at the Three Most Dangerous and Powerful of the Five Mafia Families of New York, While Unraveling the Secret, Deep-Seated Corruption Amongst New York’s Criminal Justice System. This City Holds Deadly Secrets…
e di difendere l’onore della nostra famiglia
MARCH 31, 2011 – “NEVER ASK QUESTIONS”
ANTHONY PICKED ME UP in the early evening. “I just want to talk to you for a minute,” he said with a sort of firmness in his voice that made me hesitate on the telephone before responding. “What’s the matter?” “Nothing, I just want to talk to you for a minute. We need to get some things straight and I want to know what you were talking to Tony about and why he got mad.” My stomach had an ill, nervous feeling as I entered his car and as he drove off I wondered what I could possibly come up with that would not give me away. Damn that Tony! I glanced over at Anthony and he just stared…hard…straight ahead. His eyes were squinting, despite the clouds and heavy rain. His brown eyes, although usually soft were now quite different. They had a very determined set to them like the rest of him. I turned around and stared straight ahead and listened to the rain beating down on the windshield.
All was silent as he began driving. The only sound was the windshield wipers snapping back and forth and I felt every bump in the road as he drove through the neighborhood…every turn the car took made me shift in my seat. He was driving faster than usual and I was growing more nervous as the seconds passed. Just as he made a right turn onto 58th Avenue in Maspeth, the car came to an abrupt stop. As we sat in the car along the curb I could hear the freeway traffic from just beyond the wall dividing us from the L.I.E.
Finally, he spoke. “What were you talking to Tony about?” “Nothing,” acting like I didn’t know what he was talking about. “What were you asking of Tony that pissed him off?” his voice rising. “Nothing,” I lied. “Nothing! Nothing! You had to be asking something or he wouldn’t have gotten fucking pissed off! Why was he suspicious of you? What were you talking to him about?” His voice was rising and his eyes weren’t their usually bright, soft brown as before. Now, they appeared to have taken on a cloudy, red appearance – something I hadn’t seen before. I used to sit in his lap and just look into his eyes while he spoke to me for hours on end – each time I would kiss both of his eyes. Afterward, he’d always hold me tight and kiss me.
“Nothing important…I was just…chatting and asked a question about somebody…not you, though. I never talk to Tony about you.” I could tell in his expression and his tone that he didn’t believe me. It was all I could come up with without pushing him to go ask Tony. I had lied again, though. I had spoken to Tony…constantly, about Anthony. I could tell Tony didn’t like Anthony and well, although Tony pretended to, I sensed a bit of rivalry. It was subtle but it was there. At times he’d say nice things about Anthony being “a good guy” then in the same conversation he’d try to make Anthony out to be a liar and never did a time pass that Tony wouldn’t seize an opportunity to try to persuade me to dump Anthony.
And I knew Anthony hated Tony. One time, after Tony had just-so-happened-to mention the fact that Anthony’s father had worked for his father, I had spoken to Anthony about it. The subject wasn’t brought up in a way that would shed a bad light on Anthony’s father. Rather, it was just a sort-of, “Hey, by the way….” comment. Anthony hit the roof before I even finished my sentence. “My father never worked for Jimmy Napoli! Who told you that? Tony? He’s a fucking liar! Just like everything in his book is a fucking lie!” “They’re lies?” I stupidly asked. He didn’t let me finish, “His book is nothing but a bunch of fucking lies.” I wondered, of course, what he was talking about; what lies he was talking about…but I didn’t want to pry. No, actually, I did want to pry. I wanted to ask questions! Hell, I was curious! Especially since Tony had also told me, shortly after we’d met and after he found out I was seeing Anthony, that his father and Anthony’s father had been partners. Ever since then I’d sensed a sort-of rivalry between the two. Although Anthony had never really told me to stay away from Tony and although he never really said he didn’t like him, I could tell he didn’t. It was just the way he was silent when I mentioned my having coffee with or talking to Tony. But I didn’t ask for clarification…I didn’t care.
One thing I noticed about wiseguys is that they don’t like competition. They could have been friends all their lives, grown up together, went to school together – they could have been Altar Boys together! But when it came down to it? Each guy was for his own and they kept track of “who’s got what” and “who doesn’t”…and they bragged. That’s another thing about wiseguys – they brag – about anything and everything. Stuff that would embarrass an outsider or the average non-Italian, or even me perhaps, they’d act like it was an accomplishment! I remember once when Tony had invited me to an event he was taping at a quaint little restaurant in Forest Hills called, Villa Isabella. This is when I had first met him and I somehow got the feeling that he was trying to impress me.
Wiseguys were always trying to impress me. I remember walking in past the red awnings at the front of the restaurant off Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills. Forest Hills, which runs adjacent to Middle Village, New York where I lived, was a nice little upper class neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. Metropolitan Avenue is a busy street, heavily populated with little antique shops that runs through – connecting Middle Village. It’s narrow and constantly busy with traffic and I hated driving down the avenue for that reason – it would take me forever to drive across even 6 blocks.
I walked in and was immediately greeted by Tony who was handsomely dressed in a suit – his dark tinted sunglasses, still on. I never saw him without his sunglasses. He reminded me of the gangsters I’d seen depicted in the mob movies or in the FBI surveillance photos that plastered true crime books or all too often, the exhibit boards I would see displayed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the courtrooms at the federal hearings – the mob hearings. To me, it was comical – the stereotype, I mean.
After he gave me a casual kiss on the mouth he brought me to the bar and sat me down. “We’re taping an interview and that’s my friend over there. How about some lunch, are you hungry?” We talked for a while and then his friend came over to get him. During the interview, Tony spoke about his father, Jimmy and about Jimmy’s life and rank in the Genovese Crime Family. The Genovese Crime Family, as I would later find out, was the most vicious and dangerous of all the five New York crime families. His father was, he said, a made man within the Genovese crime family. Tony spoke about the crimes committed by his father, and about how Jimmy attempted an assassination on Eliot Ness, the American Prohibition Agent who lead his legendary team of Federal Agents, nicknamed “The Untouchables” during the Chicago prohibition era. Tony spoke about his father with pride. I noticed the interviewer, his friend, smiling in awe during the entire time.
Tony and I had been friends for a while and spoke often, sometimes sharing conversation over coffee or dinner. And each time, it was the usual conversation: “I’ve got 320 men at my disposal…” he’d told me many times, referring to the number of Genovese members. He’d say it with such pride, which was even more puzzling to me. I’d heard or read somewhere that there were 270 made members but listening to this man sitting across the table from me, I knew he was in the position to know every detail of this very prominent crime family.
At other times when I was with Tony, either just talking or over dinner, he spoke about his involvement with the Genovese family but mostly, he’d reflect on the old days when Anthony’s father and brother were alive. When he described Pasquale Macchirole, he’d refer to him as “vicious” and “sick” and then there was John, Anthony’s brother. He only referred to him as “crazy” – believing that a boating accident that John suffered as a young boy contributed to his “mental state”. Immediately, I recalled the story – he didn’t have to explain.
A close friend of Colombo Crime Family Underboss, John “Sonny Franzese (a known ruthless mobster who was known to brag about killing 60 people in his lifetime and who at one time contemplated the murder of his own son) was kind enough to give me the background surrounding the accident over a cappuccino and rum baba one summer morning at a little panetteria in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. The old man spoke of John, a young boy of maybe 12 or 13 at the time was with his father and other members of his family at their summer house when John, while in the water, sustained severe cuts to his head after getting caught by a boat propeller blade. The old man recalled how he had been present at the time of the accident. Later, on one of the many occasions when Anthony was remembering John, I asked him about the accident. Anthony told me John was never the same afterward. When I mentioned the ‘friend’ being present during the tragedy, he became annoyed to the point of yelling, “He wasn’t in the boat! He wasn’t even there! I was there – I was the one that jumped into the water to help my brother! I was holding his head like this!” his hands coupling as if holding each side of John’s head. I didn’t say anything, I just stood there looking at Anthony. I could see the hurt in his eyes and his voice. I suppose the hurt from remembering his brother’s short life. His brother, murdered shortly after his father – both of whom were found in the trunks of their cars. Anthony told me it was he that had gone looking for his father after he’d been missing two weeks, and found him in the car. He’d told me that had his brother lived, he was going to be “made”….
At times, when Anthony would speak of John, his older brother by six years, I would usually be sitting in Anthony’s lap listening to him reminisce about growing up in a Mafia family and what it was like to be the son of a high-ranking mobster; the son of Pasquale “Patty Mack” Macchirole. At times, he’d tell me a story in which we would both laugh; or a story in which I would raise my eyebrows or gasp at shock. Mostly, however, the stories were tragic and sad. Anthony told me how his father, a high-ranking member of the Genovese Crime Family was going to have been proposed for the position of Boss shortly before his death. However, most times he’d talk about his father and his lack of love for Anthony.
I remember countless times, sitting with him as he told me stories about his father and how he only referred to Anthony as, “cocksucker”. “Come here, you little cocksucker”, Anthony would say, scowling while imitating his father’s voice, in a growling sort of way. He told me his father had always favored John, giving him money time and time again, while Anthony had to make his own way…fending for himself. He recounted that as a young boy he’d always receive, what looked to him as, used toys. At other times, his father would buy a toy for Anthony only soon after, to take it away. Anthony thought his father was throwing them away.
Later, at the age of fourteen, Anthony discovered that the used toys his father would bring home to Anthony were in fact used – his father had a mistress… and a young son, who was seven years younger than he was. The toys his father was “throwing out” had actually been taken away to be given to his illegitimate son. This, Anthony said, came to a shock to him and he questioned his brother, John. John, of course, had the privilege of knowing about his father’s relationship for many years but thought it best to keep quiet. The times, when Anthony would speak of his father, all the hurt and anger and betrayal would manifest itself into his words as he would speak. Many times, I’d sit in his lap and he would just cry.
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