By Nick Patterson and David Kumbroch
“Oh shit,” is all Salvatore Grecco can say right now. A .38 special lodged in the mouth of the man sitting in the chair and the familiar blue and red lights beginning to emerge outside. He probably could have run if that bastard Vince hadn’t shot him in the kneecap.
“This is the Police! We have the area surrounded! Come out unarmed with your hands behind your head! You have twenty seconds to comply or we’re coming in after you!”
“Shit! You fuckin bastards!” Sal screams.
Vince squeals in the chair when he feels the weight of the barrel pressing harder into his jaw. Sal enjoys the slight notion that Vincent “Big Mouth” Giovanni was finally on his knees with a gun in his throat, but for some reason, Sal was having a more than difficult time pulling the trigger.
“10!” the policeman screams.
Sal tightens his grip on the pistol. He can feel the drops of sweat moving through the folds of his fingers. The tears streaming from Vince’s eyes were enough to make him sick.
Sal thinks of everything that has brought him to this point and all the reasons for his actions. And now of all times, he’s wondering if he had done the right thing.
Incidentally, he had. Vince was a fucker. And I mean that in the vaguest sense. Every action he took seemed as if it were designed to screw someone, and for the most part, they were. Vince had gotten where he was by lying, cheating, and stealing his way to the top. He was pretty good at it to. But he wasn’t just good at lying to the police or cheating the gamblers or stealing from the public. He was good at causing problems inside the family too.
Sal never knew for sure, but he had a hunch it was Vince who actually put out the hit on his father. That hit started the bloodiest gang war of Sal’s lifetime for sure. It had looked like the Multoni’s at first, so the Grecco family retaliated. Hard. Half a dozen dead in a night. It was pure chaos for three days. When the Multoni’s denied the hit and called for a sitdown, Sal had gone to meet them himself. But he had gone with Vince. Vince had taken de facto control. Now, Sal was in control. Had he done the right thing by starting the takeover? Abso-fucking-lutely.
When the Sal met with Richie Multoni at the Mario Batali restaurant in little Italy, Richie called for a cease fire.
“I have no reason to harm you or your family,” said Richie, “I have always had the utmost respect for your father. He treated me like a brother and I loved him as one. These are dark times Salvatore, and I wish nothing but peace.”
Sal had his suspicions that the problem lay somewhere within the family. Now he was certain. Vince was the one who had the most to gain. With Sal’s father dead Vince could take advantage of the chaos. If Sal was killed in a conflict with the Multoni family, then Vince was next up for control of the family.
On the way out of Mario Batali restaurant where the sit down had taken place, Vince was already beginning to get on Sal’s nerves.
“I’m telling you, Sal. Those mother fuckers ain’t worth the grease they put in their hair! The minute you let your guard down they’re gonna be breathin down your neck with a shotgun,” Vince shouted.
Sal jerked Vince to the side and slammed him up against the Land Rover they had driven.
“What the fuck!?” he screamed.
“Listen to me you sonuvabitch! If you don’t shut the fuck up and know your place right now I’m gonna rip your fucking arms off beat you to death with’em. Capiche?”
Vince nodded and Sal lowered him back to the ground. Sal knew what had to be done, he just didn’t know how he wanted to do it.
So he did it the only way it made sense. He told Vince to meet him at the restaurant on 38th that they used as a front to launder money. The Grecco, it was called. Sal was going to make sure it stayed that way. Who would want to eat at a place called The Giovanni? White trash, mob-movie loving sons-of-bitches, that’s who.
Sal talked to Vince about everything that night. They talked about the corner store down the street that wouldn’t pay its protection. They talked about how profitable the sports gambling had been this year so far. But then they talked about other things too. They talked about life and death and life after death. It was odd. No one in the family ever spoke about anything like that. They didn’t like to dwell on such ethereal topics when there were perfectly good logistical topics to be discussed. Topics that generated money.
Tonight though, they talked about everything. They talked about love. They talked about religion. They talked about politics. They talked with the fervor of two very isolated men finding real engagement. They talked until the lights were turned down and the guests were gone and the staff had left them alone in the restaurant with a bottle of wine, two glasses, and a lot of tension.
Vince must have known. He must have sensed it in the conversation. He pulled first, but Sal was already clutching his gun in his pocket. Sal shot him in the chest first, but as Vince fell backward, he fired off a rogue shot to Sal’s kneecap.
Sal wrestled the gun away from the ailing Vince. So here they were. Sal with his .38 in Vince’s mouth, wondering about the right thing.
The neighbor’s must have called the cops. Either way he’s going to jail. To kill or not kill? Vince knew what had to be done, Sal saw it in his eyes the night before.
“3!,” the police scream.
Sal’s fingers grip tighter around the trigger. Vinces’s eyes grow wide with fear and he begins to whimper. Sal grits his teeth.
Sal begins to shake violently making the barrel chatter on the tips of Vince’s teeth. Vince shits his pants.
Sal pulls the trigger as the police crash through the door and wrestle him to the floor. Vince’s body lay limp among the broken glass and spilled wine. A medical team comes in, but is immediately replaced by a coroner. Nothing left to save. The police take Sal outside towards a police cruiser. The night air feels cool and soft on his skin. He takes a moment to appreciate it. He probably won’t get to feel that again for many years to come.