Heskow leaned toward them, his light skin a scarlet red as if he were blushing. "I can't tell you that. You know that. I'm just the broker. And I've thought of all that other shit. You think I'm fucking stupid? Who doesn't know who the Don is? But he's defenseless. I have assurances of that from the top levels. The police will just go through the motions. The FBI can't afford to investigate. And the top Mafia heads won't interfere. It's foolproof."
"I never dreamed that Don Aprile would be one of my marks," Franky said. The deed appealed to his ego. To kill a man so dreaded and respected in his world.
"Franky, this is not a basketball game," Stace warned. "If we lose, we don't shake hands and walk off the court."
"Stace, its a million bucks," Franky said. "And John never steered us wrong. Let's go with it."
Stace felt their excitement building. What the hell. He and Franky could take care of themselves. After all, there was the million bucks. If the truth were told, Stace was more mercenary than Franky, more business-oriented, and the million swung him.
"OK," Stace said, "we're in. But God have mercy on our souls if you're wrong." He had once been an altar boy
"What about the Don being watched by the FBIT' Franky asked. "Do we have to worry about that?"
"No," Heskow said. "When all his old friends went to jail, the Don retired like a gentleman. The FBI appreciated that. They leave him alone. I guarantee it. Now let me lay it out."
It took him a half hour to explain the plan in detail.
Finally Stace said, "When?"
"Sunday morning," Heskow said. "You stay here for the first two days. Afterward the private jet flies you out of Newark."
"We have to have a very good driver," Stace said. "Exceptional. "
"I'm driving," Heskow said, then added, almost apologetically, "It's a very big payday."
For the rest of the weekend, Heskow baby-sat for the Sturzo brothers, cooking their meals, running their errands. He was not a man easily impressed, but the Sturzos sometimes sent a chill to his heart. They were like adders, their heads constantly alert, yet they were congenial and even helped him tend to the flowers in his sheds.
The brothers played basketball one-on-one just before supper, and Heskow watched fascinated by how their bodies slithered around each other like snakes. Franky was faster and a deadly shooter. Stace was not as good but more clever. Franky could have made it to the NBA, Heskow thought. But this was not a basketball game. In a real crisis, it would have to be Stace. Stace would be the primary shooter.
THE GREAT 1990s FBI blitz of the Mafia families in New York left only two survivors. Don Raymonde Aprile, the greatest and most feared, remained untouched. The other, Don Timmona Portella, who was nearly his equal in power but a far inferior man, escaped by what seemed to be pure luck.
But the future was clear. With the 1970 RICO laws so undemocratically framed, the zeal of special FBI prosecuting teams, and the death of the belief in omerta among the soldiers of the American Mafia, Don Raymonde Aprile knew it was time for him to retire gracefully from the stage.
The Don had ruled his Family for thirty years and was now a legend. Brought up in Sicily, he had none of the false ideas or strutting arrogance of the American-born Mafia chiefs. He was, in fact, a throwback to the old Sicilians of the nineteenth century who ruled towns and villages with their personal charisma, their sense of honor, and their deadly and final judgment of any suspected enemy. He also proved to have the strategic genius of those old heroes.
Now, at sixty-two, he had his life in order. He had disposed of his enemies and accomplished his duties as a friend and a father. He could enjoy old age with a clear conscience, retire from the disharmonies of his world, and move into the more fitting role of gentleman banker and pillar of society
Excerpted from Omerta by Mario Puzo Copyright© 2000 by Mario Puzo. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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