Giletti sat in his study, his latest cigar smoldering in the ashtray. He watched the ribbons of smoke curling up to the ceiling, grinding his teeth in frustration. He was not accustomed to his directives meeting with resistance. Reaching for the cigar, he clamped his teeth around it, drawing smoke into his lungs and holding it there until little sparks burst in his vision and he let out the air in a puff of smoke.
The door to his study swung open and his wife Lucia entered, bringing with her the scent of flowers. “Are they coming?”
“They better,” Giletti said, stubbing the cigar out and immediately lighting another. “If they don’ return wid de Gypsy leader, more heads will roll.”
At the other end of the mansion, brakes squeaked as the Giletti car pulled to a stop. Rocco and Brando got out of the front seats, opening the rear door for Ladez. Tony shoved him out, knocking him to the ground before hiking him to his feet.
“Right dis way, gramps,” said Rocco, gesturing to the door with a bow. “The boss can’t wait to make your acquaintance.”
Looking up into Tony’s blank and menacing face, Ladez swallowed the retort rising to his lips, looking at the silent infant still cradled in one of Tony’s huge hands. Since its skull had been compressed, the child had made no sound and scarcely moved. Fearful of provoking the giant further, Ladez said nothing and made for the mansion. Silently, Brando, Rocco and Tony fell into step on either side, flanking him.
Ladez was furious and afraid but could not help admiring the opulence of the mansion as he was escorted through it. The wide-open spaces were filled with silence, broken only by the clacking of shoes and rustle of fabric as they made their way to Giletti’s study. The wall was heavy with paintings in ornate frames, sculptures stood on plinths in various corners and the soft light seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere. At the end of a long hallway, a tall door stood open. Reaching it, Rocco rapped twice on it and pushed it open.
The man sitting behind the giant desk was exactly what Ladez would expect a mob boss to look like. He was balding, heavy, immaculately dressed in a gray suit that would have bought an entire Ferris wheel. A fat cigar jutted from his stubby fingers, filling the room with a sweet-smelling smoke. The woman standing beside the man was tall and willowy, her dress hugging her curves just enough to accentuate them without showing them off. Her long dark hair fell below her shoulders and her eyes dripped disdain and hatred as they met his. The Don’s eyes were blank, but Ladez could see the wheels turning behind them.
“I am Don Giletti,” the seated man said. “What do they call you, Gypsy?”
“Ladez Hammalka. I dere leader.” Ladez gestured to the infant in Tony’s arms. “That my youngest son.”
“How unfortunate for him,” Lucia sneered. Giletti gave her an amused glance. Ladez felt his face grow hot.
“Why I here? Why you harm a child to get me here?”
“Because, you too have an innocent child ‘eld prisoner. Dis is to give you an idea of how it feels.” Giletti sucked on his cigar, blowing a large cloud of smoke in Ladez’s direction. “Return her to me and cease your trafficking operation. Dis is our territory.”
“Never,” snapped Ladez. “I not born with silver spoon in mouth; de girls will never go out of style and my family must eat.”
“Your family, yes,” Giletti said. “Quite a number to provide for. Nearly one hundred wretched souls, if what I hear is correct.” He looked at Lucia, who was drumming her nails on the desk. “In de interests of moving on wid our lives, I am prepared to offer you a generous sum in exchange for your cessation and departure.”
Lucia walked forward, pulling a check from her cleavage and forcing it into Ladez’s hand. He looked at it, registering the number of zeros before his pride crumpled it up and tossed it in her face.
“You no buy us off like so many others,” Ladez said. “Our way is our way and has always been. We rely on our own since I led them, and we will always.”
Lucia gave him a look of contempt before returning to the desk. Giletti looked tired. “Dis is your final word?”
“Ya,” said Ladez, drawing himself up to his full height.
Sighing, Giletti gestured. Tony stepped in front of Ladez and wrapped a hand around the child’s skull once again. Ladez started forward before being hit in the legs by what felt like an iron pipe. Falling to the ground, he looked up in time to see Tony’s long nails stab through the infant’s soft skull, drops of dark red blood dripping down the tiny body and pooling on the floor. The child made a soft sound, twitching its little arms, before lapsing back into stillness. .
Ladez felt hot tears dripping down his face as he watched, unable to move, unable to tear his gaze away. Lucia was breathing hard, licking her lips as Rocco and Brando laughed. Giletti was expressionless, watching Ladez’s face.
“Is dis what you wanted? Do you feel you are doing right by your people by resisting me?”
Ladez struggled to speak as he watched his son’s life blood pooling on the tile. Finally, he managed to choke out, “You win. We go.”
Giletti’s face broke into a wide grin. “It’s too late for that, Gypsy.” He motioned to Rocco. Ladez was about to speak when the iron pipe smashed into his skull, sending him to the floor as darkness exploded over him.
Lucia seized the pipe from Rocco and, raising it high, brought it down on Ladez’s skull again, and again. And again. Shrieking incoherently with laughter, she continued until the man’s head no longer resembled anything living. Coming back to herself, she dropped the pipe on his body, breathing heavily.
“Get dis mess out of here before it stains de tile,” Giletti said, lighting a fresh cigar. “Oh, and Tony, get rid of dat fucking thing.”
Nodding, the giant took what was once the youngest member of an ancient Gypsy bloodline into the grounds behind the mansion, where they kept the incinerator.