Freddie knew there were some people you could disrespect and others you had to treat with reverence. He was in a restaurant looking at a man sat at the bar. He knew instinctively that this was a man who was not to be fucked with.
He looked back down at his bowl of spaghetti and ordered his wife to do the same. She did but every once in a while peeked up at the man from the corner of her eye.
She had a bad feeling about him.
Nobody knew who the man at the bar was and they were afraid to ask in his presence. He had apparently just gotten off the boat. His English was still pretty broken. He had arrived making trouble and usually people like that were put in their place quickly. He sat at the bar with a busted lip, swollen eye and broken nose. He was sipping his Spritz Aperol and eating the salty potato chips that came with it. When he finished his drink he ordered a plate of mushroom risotto. He requested that a block of Parmesan cheese be brought to him as well. The bartender, an old Neapolitan who had seen a lot of troublemakers, served him his drink and dinner in silence. Refused to let him pay afterwards. He knew this was a man not to be toyed with. He knew that sometimes you have to bow your head to be on the safe side of devils.
The man at the bar was quiet. He was tall and lean but his presence filled the room. His name was Enzo. He was a Venetian. The bartender didn’t like that he was so very different from all the others. The bartender could feel in the pit of his stomach that the man was going to change the way things were run, or at least shake it up a bit. He could smell the violence and testosterone pulsing through his blood.
The Venetian spoke in sophisticated Italian with posh mannerisms and sipped his Spritz slowly like a man who is used to the good things in life. Some of the blood dripping from his lip mixed with the cold wine. He didn’t even wince when the alcohol touched his raw, exposed flesh. His knuckles were cracked and bleeding. He slicked his blonde hair away from his blue eyes and stained parts of it red. He had styled it that morning.
Before the trap.
Enzo wanted to laugh but he didn’t want to crack his upper lip open even more. After the fight he had walked the two blocks home to change his shirt and had decided to go out to eat. He had been cornered like a dog and yet he was the clear winner. They thought it was an ambush but they obviously didn’t know what sort of man Enzo was. The two guys who were ordered to shut him down were probably still slumped unconscious in the car they had followed him in. He had slammed their heads with the car door but not before breaking their hands. He left his signature, written in his own blood and put it in the front pockets of the two men: “Enzo Antonielli”. He loved it, so theatrical. Two days in the city and they were already trying to take him out. He took that as a good sign.
In his down-town apartment he looked in the mirror and saw his swollen, bleeding face. He allowed himself to smile only slightly by turning up the corners of his feminine lips. He thought he looked handsome and wondered how his nose would heal. He was vain but he didn’t mind having a bit of a disfigured face. Perhaps that would help his cause in the long run.
Enzo knew that people would stare at him if he walked around bleeding and beaten but alive and well. He knew that the right people would hear about his victory; if not from the mouths of the two humiliated men, then from the people who saw him in the street. He decided to go to a small Italian place. The sort of place where somebody would talk to the right people about him. He went to Lauro’s Restaurant and the scared hostess sat him at the bar.
He was starting on his risotto when a girl came up to him, clearly Southern Italian. He lazily and arrogantly turned his eyes away from her as she spoke to him. Her English was too fast and he didn’t understand anyway. She spoke in heavily accented Italian when she saw that he didn’t grasp what she was saying. Enzo laughed not caring about the searing pain in his lip and the feeling of his flesh tearing even more. He could picture the flesh of his upper lip tearing perfectly: like tearing the seam of a woman’s silk dress. The bartender intervened and told her to go away. She was bothering his patron. Everyone was silent.
“He’s bothering us by bleeding all over the place,” she said, “I can’t even eat.”
Enzo scoffed and said that he wasn’t still bleeding. As he said this the blood trickled down into his mouth and stained his teeth pink. He took a sip of water to clear the taste of iron.
“You should be in a hospital,” she said, her temper flaring. Enzo suspected, rightly so, that she was important or at least knew someone important. No ordinary girl would speak to a man, who was not to be fucked with, in that tone.
“Sit down, Claudia,” pleaded the bartender, “sit down.”
She looked at Enzo and then looked at the pleading bartender. She told the bartender to make her a drink. The bartender lingered for a moment and then decided to do as she said. A clear power play. She sat down at the stool next to Enzo. Enzo was amused that she thought she could sit with him.
“Who are you?”
He didn’t answer but continued eating his risotto and looking at the girl.
“Did your head get hit too hard? Answer me.”
He chuckled and shook his head, “I don’t answer to girls.”
She was silent and the bartender put her drink in front of her. She didn’t touch it.
“I’m not just any girl. I suggest you answer. Who are you?”
He looked at her; really looked at her for the first time and he found that she was beautiful for a Southerner. Her eyes were big like an Arabs, and her lips large and plump. Her skin was even and tanned. Her hair was brown and straight. If he played his cards right, she would be his pay-off. Annoying because he hated her already, but necessary. He looked at her body, tight and lean. He approved. He spoke slowly, venom dripping from his words.
“Me?” he touched her cheek and his fingers traveled to her lips. She didn’t move.
“I’m the Son of Violence. You can tell your father that.”