Franco Tagliatela, known by his associates as Il Professore, trembled with effort as he pulled out the heavy dining chair and eased himself down. His frailty was not just an inconvenience—his tremors were sometimes so bad that he could now barely pour himself a scotch—his physical decline posed other, greater problems. While his thin outer shell belied his competence, and he was not yet ready to relinquish power, his authority was beginning to wane. That was why he’d arranged the feast tonight, so that he and the inner cell of La Famiglia, could discuss the problem of Matteo.
Il Professore surveyed the set table in front of him. It was a long rectangular table covered in gingham cloth, and two bottles of Cutty Sark and a decanter of imported Italian wine awaited the guests. Where once Il Professore would have been surer of these people who were closest to him, he now had no idea how they would respond to the problem of Matteo. He worried for his family. Five of his daughters were married, except for the youngest, and their futures would be at stake unless he could secure the cell. They’d lived good lives, and he wanted the affluence to continue. Here in the new world, they’d never had to deal with that stronzo, that turd, Mussolini, and he’d been fortunate enough to watch some of his grandchildren grow. It was 1962, and he never thought he’d see the day. But now that he’d reached old age, he wanted to live happily for many more years to come.
Il Professore turned to the door. A gust of bitter Melbourne air rushed in; his first guest had arrived.