New World, New Ways

According to court documents, millennial mobsters in New York City have been accused by their capos of being soft and using text messages, instead of fists, to intimidate their rivals (Irish Times 09/10/21)….


A chill autumn wind blew down the length of Central Park, sending  fallen leaves into whispering dances and causing Francis ‘the Frank’ Spinelli to wrap his rug more tightly around his legs.

Another man approached his bench and lowered himself onto it, sighing with satisfaction as he did so. He placed the end of his walking-stick on the ground before him, resting both his gloved hands on the handle.

The two sat for a while in the pale late afternoon sunshine, watching the ducks bob over lines of water that whipped across the lake in front of them. Then Francis offered a hip-flask to his companion, who took a long drink. The man gasped as he felt his eyes water, his tongue burn, his stomach fill with molten flame. He nodded.

“Jack Daniels,” said Vincent ‘Five-fingers’ Rossi. “Excellent.”

He handed back the flask, then spoke again.

“How is your Moll?” he asked.

Francis winced, just for an instant, as he always did. You can’t help who you fall in love with, but it was unfortunate for a mobster to marry a woman called Moll. It was like an Australian’s wife being called Sheila.

“She is well,” he replied. “And your Anna?”

“She sleeps with the fishes,” said Vincent.

“I am sorry to hear that,” said Francis. “I did not know.”

“Nor did I, until recently,” said Vincent. “She is sleeping with Joey ‘the Fishes’ Cardino. This is what happens when you marry a younger woman.”

“I am assuming,” said Francis, “that you have had words with Joey?”

“I have,” said Vincent. “I threatened to leave a horse’s head on his pillow.”

“So it is sorted?”

“Not really,” said Vincent. “He said he wakes up with Anna’s face beside him every morning, so go ahead. He has a point, I suppose. She was the greatest pole-dancer I have ever seen, but as a looker, not so much.”

Francis could think of no diplomatic rely to this. “It is still disrespectful to you,” he said eventually.

“Indeed,” said Vincent. “Which brings me to the point of this meeting.”

Francis, just for a second, felt a chill that wasn’t the wind. “Go on,” he said.

“Your grandson has disrespected my grandson,” said Vincent. “He has blocked him on Facebook.”

“I am aware of that,” said Francis. “Your grandson apparently called my grandson a brainless duck.”

“Predictive text,” said Vincent, shrugging. “He meant to call him -”

“He also sent him the poop emoji,” said Francis.

Vincent sighed. “To think,” he said, “that they are both thirty years old.”

“And running our businesses,” said Francis. “I fear for the future.”

They both did. The pair had run New York crime for decades, avoiding inter-family warfare by effectively dividing up the city and respecting each other’s boundaries. Potential rivals had been seen off by threats, beatings and occasional one-way trips to the East River, where they were put on the ferry to New Jersey.

But the world had changed. Their rivals were no longer callow hoodlums from Brooklyn in shiny shoes and shinier suits, easily intimidated by night-time visits and a scary nickname. Their rivals weren’t from New York at all.

Their casinos were losing business to online gambling, their strip-clubs to internet porn, their drugs trade to DHL. And it was now their grandsons who were in charge of keeping their share of an ever shrinking cake.

In the opinion of the two capos, they were not doing it well.

“A new restaurant recently opened next door to one of mine,” said Vincent. “There was a time when such a venture would have suffered an unfortunate fire. Instead my grandson gave it one star on TripAdvisor.”

“A guy tried to start a protection racket in our area,” said Francis. “Instead of giving him a demonstration of the bruising capabilities of a baseball bat, my grandson sent his clients a link to the guy’s Instagram page, where there’s an old video of him playing Mary’s donkey in his school Nativity Play.”

“What good did he think that would do?” asked Vincent.

“Apparently it worked,” said Francis. “Nobody took the guy seriously any more, and he had to give up. What about the restaurant?”

“It closed,” admitted Vincent.

The two sat in thought for a while. “New world,” said Francis eventually. “New ways.”

The sun slipped behind a skyscraper, causing the temperature in the park to drop. Vincent pushed down on his walking-stick to lever himself slowly to his feet.

“I will tell my grandson to unblock yours,” said Francis, standing too, and struggling to free his legs from his rug, like a man fighting off a small dog.

“And I will tell mine to apologise for his text,” said Vincent.

They walked slowly toward the exit. From somewhere in the city ahead came a low boom, like something falling on a construction site. Or a car bomb.

Francis looked at Vincent. “It’s Joey the Fishes,” said Vincent. “I have unfriended him.”





2 thoughts on “New World, New Ways

  1. elspethc

    one star on Trip Advisor… as always you are brilliant definitely five ***** only I can’t work out how to put the emojis into a reply ***** hope this will do ducking terrific post


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