Cold Harbor City, 1965
Tommy Scaramucci tapped his fingers nervously on the steering wheel of his car. The car was a rusted out 1961 Ford Starliner. Tommy had always been quick to point out two things about his car. One, it was his. Nobody bought it for him or helped him get it. Two, the Ford Starliner was the only Ford when it came out in 1961 that could be equipped with the performance package; and his was equipped.
“Where is he?” Tommy said, checking his side and rear-view mirror. “I swear to God, Paul, if Alfonso fucks this up, I’m gonna kill him.”
“He won’t.” Paul replied, annoyed. “It’s Alfonso, Tommy boy. Relax, before you give yourself a heart attack or somethin.”
“I can’t relax, Pauly! This job is too big! Do you know what this will mean if we pull this off? Huh? All we gotta do is jack that armored truck over there and we will be fucking made…you hear me? But if Alfonso doesn’t show up before that truck rolls out, we’re screwed!”
Paul Castalino glared at the armored truck across the road. Tommy and Paul were parked just across the highway in the parking lot that belonged to Rictors Industries. The armored truck was idling just outside the Luster Diamond Emporium, ready to leave at any moment.
Somehow, Paul always seemed to find himself stuck between Tommy and Alfonso. Those two clashed like, well, brothers. That’s what they were, despite what blood had to say about it. Paul exhaled, and secretly said a prayer so Alfonso might be able to make it in time.
“Three fuckin’ guards!” Tommy continued to complain. “Two guards in the cab! One guard in the box! Three guards, Pauly!”
“I hear you, Tommy boy! Just calm down. We got this!”
“Then where the fuck is Alfonso?”
“That’s reeeeal good, baby.” She whispered, moaning just a little. Alfonso kissed the scarlet haired woman up the length of her spine.
“Mmmm.” She said. “You find spots I never even knew I had.”
“You’ve never been with a real man before.” Alfonso boasted, as his lips made their way around her neck.
She giggled. “You are so bad. Is this what it’s like to make it with a made man?” Alfonso grabbed her hips and flipped her over.
He smoothly fell into the gap between her legs. In the same motion, Alfonso slammed himself inside of her. The scarlet haired woman’s mouth fell open and she moaned louder than she ever had before.
“This, is what it’s like to make it with a made man.” Alfonso said as he thrust himself inside her.
It was a lie, of course. Alfonso Machetti wasn’t a made man. He wasn’t even recognized as a member of the Scarlatti family. Alfonso, as well as Tommy and Paul, were only associates; but she didn’t need to know the details.
Today was an important day for Alfonso. The Scarlatti family had opened the books for the first time in nearly a decade.
Alfonso and his crew had made a name for themselves over the years. They even garnered the attention of Sammy Scarlatti, the boss’s oldest son. Sammy Scarlatti had been giving Alfonso’s crew jobs that had been technically meant for people with more official responsibility. Made men. Soldiers. Not associates—street-level thugs. Today’s job was no different.
They were nobodies, basically. But like Alfonso had told his crew many times, they did good work—end of story. They’d gotten noticed, and now it was just a matter of time. Well, that time had come…and Alfonso was determined to make sure it was celebrated the right way. That’s where the redhead came in.
Alfonso heard the sound of her husband’s truck parking and the door slamming shut.
“Turn around.” Alfonso said. He positioned himself behind her. He didn’t care. This was his day. His time and…what’s her name? Alfonso couldn’t recall. It didn’t matter. Alfonso grabbed a handful of her curly red hair and used it as leverage to lay into her.
“Wanda?” Her husband called out. His voice sounded muffled and distant coming through the bedroom door.
Wanda! That’s her name, Alfonso remembered. Wanda wasn’t trying to hide what she was doing…not at all. And the closer her husband got to the bedroom the louder she became.
“Wanda?” The husband said, standing just outside the bedroom. Wanda wailed. Finally, the bedroom door flung open, slamming into the wall and knocking picture frames onto the floor.
“What the fuck? Wanda?”
Wanda looked up at her husband through locks of her curly red hair…and smiled.
“You little motherfucker!” The man shouted at Alfonso. He jumped over the top of his wife nearly grabbing Alfonso, but the hold lasted only seconds because of how sweaty Alfonso had become.
Experience in these situations had taught Alfonso one thing: have a clear exit strategy. Alfonso placed one foot on the chair, simultaneously grabbing his clothes and shoes off the small desk, and leapt through the open window. All of this he had pre-planned before he and Wanda even started.
Alfonso soared through the air, stark naked, landing on his shoulder. He bounced off the roof of his car and landed hard on the grass. Hitting the car as he did wasn’t part of the plan. Alfonso was hurt but it didn’t slow him down. He sped away in his car, getting dressed on the way to meet up with Tommy and Paul.
Tommy stared into his sidemirror, hoping that he would see Alfonso appear so they could get on with their job.
“Shit.” Paul exhaled. “The truck’s leaving.”
“I told you Pauly!” Tommy shouted. “We’re screwed! Everything we ever done is now shit worthless because Alfonso doesn’t know how to be on fucking time!”
At that very moment Alfonso tapped on Paul’s window. Paul opened the door and Alfonso climbed into the back seat.
“The truck’s leaving? I made it just in time, huh?” Alfonso chuckled, adjusting his clothing.
“You were about to give Tommy boy a stroke up here, Al.”
Tommy checked for traffic then pulled into the road. He had to catch up with the truck, but once he did, Tommy asked, “where were you?”
“I had a prior engagement that couldn’t be missed.” Alfonso said.
“The redhead?” Paul asked.
“The redhead.” Alfonso replied with a smile.
“How was she?” Paul asked. Alfonso put his thumb together with his four fingers and spread them apart again after kissing all five.
“Unbelievable, dude. You know how important this job is.” Tommy started. “Sammy said if we pull this off, we’re in! He’ll sponsor us and everything…and you risk it for a piece of ass?”
“Not just a piece of ass. It was Wanda.” Alfonso boasted. “And this is better for everyone. I’m lighter on my feet after I get me some.”
"Everyone’s fucked Wanda!” Tommy shouted.
The armored car stopped at a red light several miles just outside the city. A moment later its engine rumbled loud as it started again. A few more miles down the road security guard Tom Hobson brought the truck to a slow stop.
“What in the hell is this?” Hobson said. His thick southern accent made everything he said seem less serious.
“Uh, looks like a car, Tom.” Guard Fallon said from the passenger seat. Sitting across the width of the road was Tommy’s 1961 Ford Fairlane, but no one was inside. Guards Hobson and Fallon both looked around the vicinity and there was not a soul to be seen as far as the tree line fifty feet or so off the edge of the road.
“I know it’s a car, Doug.” Hobson said wryly. “My question is, why in the hell is it just sitting there?” A small door in the wall behind the two men slid open.
“What’s going on?” Guard Quarells asked. Wendall Quarells was the third guard inside the armored truck, and was tasked with sitting with the merchandise in the back.
“Don’t know.” Fallon replied. “We got a car just sitting in the middle of the road.” Fallon leaned out of the way so Quarells could get a clear view.
“Just go around.” Quarells answered.
“I don’t know.” Hobson said. “What if it’s some kinda setup?”
“So, what if it is?” Quarells shot back. “We’re in an armored truck? No one can get in unless they have the keys.”
That was when Tommy stuck his head up over his car. Tommy was waving his arms in the air and shouting for help while pointing at the ground by his feet.
“I think they might need help!” Fallon said, sitting forward in his seat. He could feel the adrenaline pumping through his body. “I’m going to see.” Fallon said finally, then opened the door.
“No!” Hobson shouted, but it was too late.
Alfonso and Paul had been lying in wait alongside the parked truck, hoping for a door to open. They knew their plan was weak before today. Tommy had said as much. But they got lucky and a door did open.
Paul yanked the door away from Fallon and opened it the rest of the way. Alfonso grabbed the guard and pulled him the rest of the way out of the truck and to the ground. Quarells slid the small door closed and hoped he could avoid any conflict by hiding quietly in the back.
Alfonso held Fallon at gunpoint while Paul climbed into the truck. Paul pressed the barrel of his gun to the guard’s cheek and said, “take the keys out of the ignition and hand’em to me.” Hobson handed the keys to Paul without hesitation then Paul tossed the keys to Alfonso who then handed the keys to Tommy.
Tommy unlocked the large doors located at the very back of the armored truck. He climbed into the back and quickly removed the gun from Quarells’ belt, then placed it in a pocket in the back of his pants.
Located at the front of the vault were large bags of cash. Twenty-five bags of cash piled up. On any other day, going for the cash would be the most important thing to do, but this armored truck belonged to Luster Diamond Emporium. The diamonds were kept in specially designed pullout drawers along the walls of the truck. Tommy slid open one of the drawers and took the small bag of diamonds out. He opened the bag and peered inside at the shiny things and laughed; then he stuffed the small satchel into his pants pocket.
Tommy got quite a few satchel’s full of diamonds stuffed inside his pockets before Alfonso and Paul arrived. They entered the vault of the truck with one duffel bag. While Paul and Tommy filled the duffel with the satchels of diamonds, Alfonso carried two heavy cash bags at a time to the trunk of the Fairlane.
After the heist, Alfonso and his crew parked in an old abandoned parking lot belonging to one of the many condemned buildings in Cold Harbor City. The area was secluded with trees encompassing the entire lot.
Tommy opened the trunk of his car and unzipped several bags of money. Neither had seen so much cash at once. The temptation to take some was strong.
“Should we?” Paul said. “I mean, what the Scarlatti’s care about more is the diamonds. They won’t care about a few, thousand, missing from the cash.
“Believe me, Pauly, Vinnie Scarlatti cares about the diamonds and the cash.” Alfonso replied.
Paul grabbed a stack of cash and flipped through the bills, smelling it.
“I could pay off my tab at…well…everywhere.” Paul said.
“We can’t.” Alfonso said. “If Vinnie Scarlatti finds out we stole from him, we’re dead.”
“How would he ever fucking know?” Tommy asked. “How would any of those assholes ever fucking know that we stole from them? It’s not like they knew how much was going to be on that truck. If we take some, all we gotta do is make sure we tell them the same story. It’s all there. What they count is what was on that truck.”
“That sounds like a good idea, actually.” Paul said, cutting his eyes to Alfonso.
“Pauly, we can’t. It’s too risky.” Alfonso said, feeling annoyed that they were still talking about stealing from Vinnie Scarlatti of all people.
“That’s fucking rich!” Tommy said. “You can’t even take what we do serious enough to show up on time, but you call the shots? You get to tell us if we can or can’t take some of this money for ourselves? Life hasn’t been so easy for us, Al! Not everyone has a mommy that takes care of them!”
Alfonso moved closer to Tommy. The anger and rivalry between the two were just about to reach their breaking point when Paul said, “I agree with Alfonso.”
“What?” Tommy hissed.
“All I’m saying is,” Paul started, “is that we’ve been working a while with the Scarlatti family. Sammy’s been handing us jobs and we’ve been doing’em. And we never stole once, and things has paid pretty good doing it that way. So no reason to get greedy now, right?”
Tommy closed the bags and the trunk.
“Bitches.” Tommy said.
A week had passed since their successful armored truck robbery. A whole week, which felt like a year to Alfonso, Paul, and Tommy. They had been ready to take the oath for years. Omerta. To be made. To become wise guys.
Finally, the phone rang at 1984 May Drive.
“The Machetti residence.” Maria Machetti said, answering the phone in her kitchen.
“He’s here.” Maria replied. “Hang on a moment, okay?” Maria walked to the kitchen doorway and yelled, “Alfonso? You have a call!”
Alfonso came to the phone a moment later and answered it, “Yeah?”
“Hey, Alfonso, it’s Sammy Scarlatti.”
“Yo, Sammy, what’s up?”
“Hey, listen close. A’right? I’m only gonna be sayin it once. Be outside your place and ready to go by eight o’clock sharp tonight. And wear somethin nice. You understand?”
“I’ll be ready, Sammy.” Alfonso said, then Sammy Scarlatti hung up.
Maria could see the smile across Alfonso’s face. “What is it?” She asked.
“Nothing, mom. Nothing. I can’t say anything, I mean.” Maria was letting the subject drop but Alfonso came back and said, “but, have you ever wanted a bigger place? Or a better car—or something like that?”
“What in the world are you talking about, Alfonso?” Maria said, laughing.
“I’m just sayin—after tonight, I might be able to help out…a lot more.”
Maria hugged her son, gazed in to his eyes with all the love in her heart and said, “You help out plenty.”
“I know, but if I can help out more, then I will.”
At eight o’clock sharp, Alfonso was outside his home, ready, just as Sammy Scarlatti had told him to be. For the occasion, Alfonso was wearing his finest suit. It wasn’t something fancy, or expensive. It was just the suit he wears to mass every Sunday, but it was his finest suit. Nothing less for what was about to occur.
A black BMW pulled in front of 1984 May Drive at two minutes past eight. Alfonso opened the back door of the car and got in.
Sammy Scarlatti was in the passenger seat. One of Sammy’s soldiers, a man by the name of Victor Tucco, was driving the car. In the back along with Alfonso was Paul. They nodded at one another when Alfonso got in.
They wanted to do more than nod. They were excited. Nervous. But they played it cool. And they waited for when Tommy would join them, but he never did.
The car parked along the curb outside of a brick house located at 62025 Hesher Avenue. Alfonso nor Paul knew whose home it was.
Once they were inside the house, Sammy said, “take a seat on the couch, gentlemen.”
Alfonso and Paul sat down. Sammy Scarlatti walked away. Outside the home, Victor Tucco kept the car running while he leaned back on the hood having a smoke.
All the lights were off except for a dim light in the kitchen. It cast a soft glow across the breadth of the rooms. While Alfonso and Paul were alone, they refused to break the silence, although they were dying to talk. Both were waiting on the other to speak first. Finally, Paul couldn’t take it any longer.
“Where in the hell is Tommy?” Paul kept his voice low.
“I was wondering that too.” Alfonso replied, also whispering.
"So, what does this mean? He’s not here. Does that mean he isn’t getting made?” Paul asked.
“Alfonso Machetti.” Sammy Scarlatti called out. Alfonso gave Paul a nod then stood up.
“Go down this hall.” Sammy said. “At the end there is a door. Open it and walk inside.”
Alfonso entered the room alone. Inside the nearly completely bare room was a round table. Sitting at the table were three men; Wally Scarlatti, Salvatore Urullio, and the don, Vinnie Scarlatti.
“Sammy says good things about you.” Vinnie said.
Vinnie was old. He turned seventy-four last month, but he didn’t sound seventy-four, nor did he appear so. The don of the Scarlatti family looked strong. His large, broad shoulders made him look twice as big sitting at that table.
“Good things. You did a good job on that armored car, too.” Vinnie continued.
“Yes. Color us impressed.” Salvatore said, sounding quite unimpressed.
Salvatore Urullio, underboss to Vinnie, was wearing a lilac-colored button-down shirt, tightly tucked in to his creased black dress pants. Salvatore’s necktie was violet colored with intricate white lines darting in all directions.
“Do you know why you’re here, Alfonso?” Vinnie asked.
“No.” Alfonso replied. Alfonso knew, of course. But the proper answer to give was no.
“Do you know everybody in this room?” Vinnie asked.
“Yes.” Alfonso replied. Alfonso was being truthful, although he had never met Vinnie nor Salvatore before now.
“In this family, we cherish honesty and loyalty.” Vinnie continued. “You have demonstrated these characteristics that we cherish, for quite some time. You are about to be accepted as a member of the Scarlatti family, Alfonso”
Vinnie stood and approached Alfonso. Wally and Salvatore did the same. Alfonso was now surrounded. Enclosed in a circle. Vinnie revealed a sharp pin then pricked the tip of Alfonso’s right index finger…his trigger finger. A small drop of blood formed on the tip.
“This oath you are taking—honor it.” Vinnie said. “If told, would you kill a man?”
“Yes, Don Vinnie.” Alfonso replied.
“If told, would you kill yourself?”
“Yes, Don Vinnie.” Alfonso replied.
Vinnie handed the pin to Salvatore then revealed a small picture of the Virgin Mary. Vinnie flicked a lighter in his hand. The don held the picture over the flame catching it on fire then he placed the picture in the palm of Alfonso’s right hand. The picture withered as it got hotter and hotter. It hurt, but Alfonso didn’t move a muscle.
Vinnie Scarlatti continued, “Just as this card burns in your hand, may your soul burn in hell if you ever betray this family. You enter alive. Your only exit is death. Now, toss the picture on the table, Alfonso.”
Alfonso did, then Vinnie grabbed Alfonso tightly by his arms and said, “just as that picture vanishes from this earth, so will you if you ever betray me. You are reborn now. Your life before is over, and this, is your new life. We… are your family.”
Victor Tucco parked the black BMW in front of 1984 May Drive.
“Hey, give us a minute will ya Vic?” Sammy said.
“Sure thing boss.” Victor Tucco replied. Victor got out of the car and walked to the other side of the street and lit a cigarette.
Sammy turned in his seat to face Alfonso and Paul. “I bet you were wonderin why you got baptized tonight but not your boy, Tommy. Well, here’s the problem with Tommy. During that armored car heist, he stole from us.”
“What do you mean, he stole? Alfonso shouted.
“He took something that wasn’t his! What tha fuck do you think I mean when I say stole?” Sammy replied. “Tommy boy stole a shit ton of diamonds.” Sammy added.
“Wait, wait, wait.” Paul started. “If Tommy stole, how are we not dead?”
“You’re lucky? You two remember that guard, the one that opened the door for you? He’s an associate of the family. He found out from the guard in the back of truck that before the two of you arrived, Tommy filled his pockets with diamonds. Our diamonds.”
“Fuck.” Paul said.
“Yeah, well, it gets worse,” Sammy continued, “after hearing about the diamonds, we checked up on Tommy Scaramucci. Found out this guy’s been stiffin us since the very beginning. Which leads me to this, I got a job for the two of you. Remember what my father said? We cherish loyalty and honesty? Tommy Scaramucci has offended the don, and now he has to pay that price.”
“Fuck Tommy.” Alfonso said.
“I want the two of you to pay Tommy boy a visit. Whack him and get those diamonds. And hey, I want you to know, I don’t envy you. What you’re about to do is going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your entire lives. And I know what you’re thinking. Whack my friend? He’s like a brother to me. How can we do that to him? I’ll tell you how. You go to his place and put a bullet in his head when he ain’t lookin at you. You do it that way…so you might be able to sleep again sometimes soon. Or, you could let fear get the best of you and then get dead, because I’ll kill all three of you myself.”