The courtroom was filled with select reporters from mainstream media outlets who were known by the government for their history of favorable reporting. The prosecutor stood, waving his hand to control the hologram that helped him visually illustrate his oratory to the three judges. There was no jury of his peers for the defendant. Those days ended nearly a decade ago, as did most of the liberties that had been considered sacred by most Americans in the early years of the defendant’s life.
The defendant’s memory was accessed via the microchip implanted at the base of his brain, against his will, and transmitted wirelessly to a high definition, 3-D hologram. The microchip, euphemistically named the Life Enhancement Monitor, or LEM, was developed with the intention of monitoring a person’s health. For example, emergency responders would be dispatched upon the first sign of a heart attack. This simple device could save millions of lives and dollars and therefore could be justified as a mandate of the Affordable Healthcare Act, imposed by an executive order. Soon, everyone in America who received government benefits of any kind was required to have the LEM implanted. In time, the majority of Americans began to accept the LEM as a way of life. More and more uses for the LEM were developed. Before long, the LEM stored all of the host’s financial records and medical records, enabling a person to make financial transactions without having to carry a card or cash. More time passed, and the LEM began to be used by the criminal justice system to monitor people with criminal records and those under house arrest. Today, the LEM monitors are believed to prevent terrorist attacks and crime in general and even to control thought. The United States government points to the fact that crime is almost nonexistent thanks to the LEM. Liberty minded ex-patriots see things quite differently.
“You are about to hear and see a fantastic tale, provided directly by the defendant’s memory, that many of you will find hard to fathom; but when this trial is over, you will believe that this 147-year-old man is not a day older, physiologically, than he was one hundred years ago, and you will believe that the defendant is guilty of the charges of accessory to murder, crimes against humanity, and terrorism.
“Adolf Hitler officially died on April 30, 1945, but he didn’t. Hitler escaped by submarine, carrying about fifty men to Argentina, arriving in May 18, 1945. One of those men was… is the defendant.
“On May 27, three days before his ‘death,’ at the stroke of midnight, Hitler ordered his team to move according to plan. The details had been planned by head of Gestapo Heinrich Müller, right down to the clothes worn by the body doubles that would pass for the corpses of Hitler and his future bride, Eva Braun. The defendant was there. Together with Hitler and Eva Braun and others, he escaped through a secret tunnel leading away from the infamous underground bunker. The city of Berlin was on fire. Despite the explosions, they made their way to theHohenzollerndamm in the Wilmersdorf district and from there they made their way to a boulevard that ran through the center of Berlin. A Junkers-52 transport aircraft awaiting them.
“The plane flew the defendant, the führer, Eva Braun, and others first to Denmark, then to Spain, and eventually to the Canary Islands. From there, they took a submarine to South America. About fifty people disembarked from two submarines around 11:00 p.m. on May 18, 1945, near the small port of Necochea, about three hundred miles south of Buenos Aires.
“Four men were there to greet them with pack mules and to help Hitler and the defendant cross the Andes Mountain to Argentina. They lived together in hiding at Hacienda San Ramón.
“One hundred years later, the defendant was discovered about six miles away in San Carlos de Barilche, not a day older than he was way back in 1945.
“We know this is all true, because the LEM does not allow a person to lie.”
Tell us about your life, beginning with where you are from and how you became affiliated with the Mafia.
My name is Giovani Cado, but my family called me Johnny, and my friends usually just called me Cado. I was born in Sicily in 1899, so I guess that makes me one hundred and forty-seven years old. Not bad lookin’ for such an old man, right?
When I was just ten years old, my father was murdered because of a vendetta or something like that. I’m not sure what that was all about, but my mother and I moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, shortly thereafter.
I loved New Orleans. My greatest desire is to return there one day, but that ain’t looking so good about now. There was always a way to make an easy buck in the Big Easy. My best friend was Carlos. We made a good team, working together scamming tourists in the French Quarter. We became excellent pickpockets.
We learned at an early age that the Italian section of the Quarter was run by a man of honor, a man to respect: Don Matranga. Everybody either worked for the Don or paid him for protection.
By the time we were twelve or thirteen, Carlos and I were paid to break storefront windows of merchants who were behind in their payments to the Don.
When we were sixteen, we divided our time between making money and making it with broads. The Quarter had a steady stream of drunk gals willing to let us take a load off - drunk college gals & drunk country gals visiting the big city, and even married women whose husbands were passed out drunk or chasing other tail. Sometimes we would have two, even three different broads in one night. Then we got smart and started collecting from the husbands to find them some tail, and sometimes while they were off banging hookers, we would bang their wives. It was great.
As we got older, petty scams and picking pockets wasn’t providing enough for us anymore, so Carlos and I began committing house burglaries. We would mostly steal cash and jewelry but sometimes we got lucky and would hit a house with guns too.
People began to notice us. We weren’t flashy, but we spent so much time in the Quarter, seemingly without a care in the world, often with women, that locals began to speculate about how we made our living. Italians—and Sicilians in particular—who had money but no apparent job were assumed to belong to a family.”
Are you referring to an organized crime family?
Yeah, that’s right. Anyway, the younger boys began to make us out to be local heroes, but our reputations exceeded our real exploits.
One day, Carlos and I were hanging out down at the Flea Market, by Café du Monde, when we saw an opportunity to steal some jewelry. We went straight to this popular sandwich place called Arnaud’s to divide our earnings. We sat in a booth by the window so that we could watch folks stroll by.
I can still remember that I had just ordered a shrimp po’boy and Carlos had ordered a crawfish po’boy, when we were unexpectedly joined by a couple of slightly older wise guys. They didn’t introduce themselves before sitting, so Carlos, who had a Napoleon complex, being so short an’ all—he was so short, that he later became known as The Little Man—anyway, he didn’t like the aggressive nature of those two; sitting down with us uninvited and all.
I know—knew Carlos very well and knew that even though he was short, he was very capable of cracking those guys across their noses with our beer glasses at any moment, but I caught a glimpse of a gun holstered underneath the coat of the big burly guy sitting next to Carlos. I reached across the table and touched Carlos’s forearm to get his attention. He could tell from the look I gave him that I wanted him to stay calm.
Like Carlos and me, these guys looked Sicilian. The guy next to me was first to speak: “Good afternoon Carlos and Johnny. Can we buy ya’ll a beer?”
That gesture made me feel better, but I held up my beer glass to say, “Thanks, but we have full glasses.”
Carlos wasn’t as polite: “How the fuck do you guys know our names? And what’s the meaning of this—this sitting down at our table, uninvited?”
“Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Sam, but my friends call me Silver Dollar Sam.”
“I don’t give a fuck if you are Samty Claus!”
But then I told Carlos in a calming tone: “Let’s listen to what they have to say.”
Then Silver Dollar Sam told Carlos: “You have a reasonable partner.”
“OK, so what are ya, cops or something?” Carlos asked sarcastically. He knew these guys weren’t cops—in fact, everyone in the quarter knew of Silver Dollar Sam. He was the Don’s underboss.
The big burly guy blurted: “You know we ain’t no fucking cops!”
Silver Dollar Sam held up a hand as if to tell the big guy to shut up and said: “No, we ain’t cops, but we do have an understanding with the cops.”
Carlos was still agitated: “Yeah, what kind of understanding?”
“Relax Carlos. We are here to make you a business proposition.”
This got our attention. “We’re listening,” I said.
“You’ve attracted the attention of my boss, who has an understanding with the authorities that we can run our businesses without interference, but we don’t steal from New Orleans’s influential citizens. You boys have graduated from picking pockets to house burglaries, and that’s bad for our business if you burglarize the wrong house.”
I spoke up before Carlos could respond: “We aren’t saying that we’ve done anything but for the sake of conversation, how could anything that we do affect your business?”
The big guy spoke again: “Because you’re Sicilian, you dumb shit.”
Holding his open hand up, palm facing the big guy, Silver Dollar Sam said: “Forgive my associate. He forgets that his job description doesn’t include speaking…but yes, because you are Sicilian, people assume that you are part of our organization, and that means we are responsible for your actions. So the way I see it, we have two choices. You can work for us.”
I asked: “What’s the other option?”
Carlos answered my question for Silver Dollar Sam: “They kill us.”
“We will take the first option,” I said, smiling.
Silver Dollar Sam reached into the inside of his coat pocket making Carlos and me flinch. We were relieved to see that he did not pull out a gun but an envelope, which he plopped down in front of Carlos, saying: “Good choice.”
Carlos and I looked at one another, each waiting for the other to reach for the envelope.
“Go ahead. Open it. The two of you decide among yourselves how to split it,” Silver Dollar Sam said.
Carlos picked up the envelope and opened it. It was filled with hundred-dollar bills. He thumbed through the bills, and then asked, “What is this for?”
Silver Dollar Sam answered: “It’s an advance. You now work for the Matranga family…and that means that you do what we tell you. You always look after the family’s interests. No more burglaries in Orleans Parish unless you receive direct orders from me. We pay you this set amount every week; in return you serve as enforcers. You will learn what that entails in time. You may also serve as earners. It’s my job to show you the ropes. I’m responsible for you.”
“There is a thousand dollars in here,” Carlos proclaimed. That was more than we made in a good month.
“Monday morning…you are going to work a legit job…unloading banana boats and delivering crates of bananas around the Quarter for Sam the banana man. That will be your cover, if anyone ever asks how you make your living. Got it?”
Our po’boys were delivered by the waitress. Silver Dollar Sam and the big guy stood up. And that’s how we were inducted into the Mob, which you guys call the Mafia, these days.