The Calabria Club was patronized by many Italian families. They used this place for their loud reunions and it was here that they kept alive the traditions and the folklore of their native country.
This is a place where the young and the old met, and where they equally shared the pride and love of their original culture. A place of their own where they speak the same hard dialect, and where life reminded them of their villages rooted on the rocky Calabria.
In this club of their own, they could re-enact their past, with men playing the bocce (bowls) on the hard court or cards in their loved ‘Briscola or Scopa’.
They used to congregate at this place on Sundays, devoting at the Mass, in mid morning, celebrated by an Italian monk, and then sharing lunch together, eating roasted lamb with pepperoni and olives, cooked on the spit in their old traditional way.
Don Beppino Caruso was the life president of this Club. He was the one who came with the bulk of the money needed to build it, and it was now the place of reunion for his countrymen. They were grateful to him, and on this particularly Saturday afternoon, many of them, mostly the elders, came to present their respect to Don Beppino and to kiss his hand, as requested by the traditions of their land.
Don Beppino loved Salvo, Salvatore’s son, as his own grandson. He had organized the best that money can buy to make him happy. He hired a group of Puppeteers, who were touring from Sicily, to keep alive their traditions. This characteristic puppet show was enjoyed not only by the kids, but well attended by many. Adults reunited into the hall danced tarantellas and sang their peasant folkloristic songs. It was here that Luke and Rossana cheered those present with their music and songs.
The day ran away rapidly and it was getting dark. The courtyard, where the festivities for the children had taken place was empting as families returned home or moved upstairs to spend the rest of the evening.
Luke offered to drive Maria and her son Salvo home. Salvo had received many birthday presents to take back with him.
Luke and Salvo were walking to Luke’s car parked at the bottom of the lane, when suddenly a motorbike speeds from the opposite direction in the middle of the alley. Luke had just time to grab the boy’s hand and jump to safety.
The bike had narrowly missed them, and then braked hard to a stop. Then the driver noisily revved the engine, skidded the back wheel, turning the bike in a cloud of dust. The motor screamed as he charged Luke, like a cavalryman, and this time he had a chain in his hand whirling it in the air.
Luke attempted to protect Salvo from that demoniac driver, but the iron links crashed on Salvo’s neck. The injured boy lost consciousness and fell to the pavement and his blood imbued the road dust.
This brutal attack was witnessed by several people, on their way home from the party, who ran to give their help. Luke was also bleeding and in a murderous mood. He left the boy in the care of the others and ran to his car to pursue the attacker. But half way down the lane he was met by two bullies, with chains in their hands, whom attacked him. Luke was injured, and fell unconscious to the pavement. The assailants thought he was dead, seeing blood pouring from a wound on his head. The two attackers, seeing many people had witnessed the assault, swiftly retreated to their bikes and rode away mixing in the city traffic.
Luke, when returned to consciousness, lay on a couch in a room of the club. A paramedic had finished dressing his wounds and was telling Rossana, who held his hand trying to soothe him,” Your man is very lucky. He missed death by a fraction of an inch!”
“How is Salvo?” were Luke’s first feeble words.
“The ambulance took him to the hospital in a critical condition. Only a miracle can save him.” Rossana gently told him.
“I want to see him, Rossana.”
“No point now. He is in intensive care and doctors and nurses are looking after him. And you need rest Luke. I’ll drive you home and I’ll stay with you for the night nursing you properly. Luckily, it’s my night off, so no complaints and you do exactly what I tell you.”
‘Nice to have you around, Rossana. I love to be spoiled by you, do you know that?”
“No kidding, Luke. I’ll nurse you, till you can stand on your own.”
It was only a short drive over to Luke’s home and this was the first time Rossana had been there. Till now they used to met and spent time together at the Trocadero.
“It’s better that you lay down on the couch, Luke. I’m going to fetch some ice to put over your eye, or else by tomorrow it will be black.”
Saying so, she disappeared in the kitchen and returned with a basin of lukewarm water and a towel.
“Let me see. Blood has stained your clothes. Remove your shirt, so I can sponge you properly… let me have a proper look … No don’t complain Luke. I want to do it …Good, calm down. You’ll feel better afterwards…In the meantime keep the ice bag over your eye.”
Luke closed his eyes without saying a word. He relaxed while Rossana sponged him. Her hand moved softly, like a gentle caress over his neck and back.
Could he remember the last time a woman had touched his body in such a tender way? Yes, that what it was. He had missed a woman’s attention for too long. Rossana wiped his back softly and the warms of her breath was on his neck arousing him. Luke closed his eyes and let himself fall into a dreamy state. He wished to have her in his arms, cuddling and kissing her passionately. He knew that Rossana was his ideal woman, the one that he had always dreamed of. He must find the words to tell her his feelings, to tell her that he wanted to love her…
“Luke…? Are you right? What’s happens to you?”
He heard her voice coming from far away. It was a sweet sound and magically her words broke the barrier of his dreams. He wasn’t sure if it was real or if he was still far away in a world where the unconscious meets the conscious, where the unreal becomes real.
He compelled himself to raise and do something to catch the benefits of that precious moment or else, he will again miss the opportunity to tell her. He knew that physically he was a strong man, but when confronted with the opposite sex, he always found difficulty to find the right words to express his inner feelings. It had never been easy for him to tell words of passion.
“Luke? Are you dreaming? Why are you smiling? Luke…?”
Luke took her hands, pulled her to him and searched for her lips. Finally he locked his lips over hers in a long, hot, kiss of love.
“Rossana, I know now… I have always been in love with you. But my senses were under the spell of Lola’s sexuality. With her I lost the capacity to compare what is real love and what is sexual lust.”
“I know what you want to tell me, Luke. I have always hoped that one day you’ll come looking for me. Finally, that day has come.”
“I have many things to tell you. There are many sentiments inside me, but I’m not sure if the right words will spring out from my heart. I honestly can tell you that I love you, and I want you.”
Rossana silenced him with a kiss. Her long fingers ran over his spine, creating a sweet arousal of his senses. Then her tongue penetrated his mouth softly, sweetly, and a fever inundated their beings. They ripped off their clothes, overwhelmed by their carnal passion, and they started to explore their bodies, hungrily, as if tomorrow would never come.
She gave Luke so much. She was a sensitive and a sublime lover, delicate and demanding. Her body was hot with passion, but at the same time she asked him to slow down the rhythm of his urges.
“I want you to stay in me for eternity. I like the feeling of you exploring the deepness of me. I want this night of love to last as long as it had been my expectation to have you as my lover. Gently Luke… Yes have me, but please, in a gentle and slow motion. I’m yours and I promise I’ll be the lover you have always dreamed of. But we can be at our best only after our senses have reached the complete satisfaction.”
“Rossana it’s sweet sharing my body and soul with you. Teach me the way we can reach a new sublime sensation making love in your own way. I never experienced it in such a deep-rooted way before. It’s so new for me. I’m discovering the pleasure to make love to you in such a way. You are right, when I’m deep into you and motionless, I feel my senses completely exhilarated. Therefore, I desire to have you more and more, and I desire to entwine not only our bodies but also our souls.”
It was a long night of passion, and their bodies asked more. It was a night of revelation of discovering how well they fit together, exploring this new way of pleasure and finding that it was well above any other previous experiences in love; one lover to complete the other’s passions where their desires could reach the best of their possible dreams.
In the morning they had temporally forgotten the terrible events at the Calabria Club and how badly Salvo was injured. Was he still critical and fighting to survive?
Rossana phoned the hospital and spoke with the ward Matron. She said that Salvo was still critical but in stable condition and he was allowed to receive close relatives.
Luke remembered the previous night, and gave thanks to God for his good luck to still be alive after the brutal attack. A miracle had saved him and Salvo from death.
But who was really behind the attempted murder, and wanted him out of the way? If it was Maso Garrone, was it because he still wanted Lola? Or if wasn’t him, was it because they suspected him to be behind Vito’s killing?
Certainly, there wasn’t any impediment in Lola to be free; she could easily obtain a divorce any time she wished. They had lived separately for over three years, more than the time requested by the law of this country to concede a divorce.
So, there must be something else behind this assault, something that he couldn’t explain or understand. Nevertheless, the facts remained unchanged. What ever the reason was, he realized that a contract has been put on his head, so he must act carefully and be aware of any danger.
He must see Michael and see if he, through his acquaintances, had found any clues that were behind the contract. He, through time, had always avoided litigations and had refused to be involved in his family’s business. But this had cost him dearly. Innocently he had been secluded for three years behind bars. Coming out from jail The Family had compelled him to take revenge on Salvatore’s murder.
That has also been contrary to his principles. Now, more then ever, he felt he have been abandoned even by his own family. He was left alone, fighting against those who wanted him six foot under. Hell, why did he have to go through all this? Why wasn’t he left out of the business and allowed to peacefully enjoy a normal life like the millions of people living around him?
He had always wanted a simple peaceful, free life, particularly now after he had found Rosanna’s love. He wanted to stand by himself for his own principles and live his life in the way he liked better, having Rossana by his side, and together be themselves in their dreams. He wanted to travel with her, visiting the larger cities around the world, entertaining people in the most famous nightclubs, from Las Vegas to Paris, and from Rome to Tokyo. He wanted to enjoy the best that life could offer them, have fun together and make love to Rossana anytime they wished.
He admitted that one of his recurring dreams was to be rich and famous, and to see his name written in large fluorescent letter on billboards above the most important cabarets in the world. That was his dream. He was looking to have glory. He wanted his name and Rosanna’s to jointly appear in the local news. Yes, he was ambitious. Yes, he wanted people of the cosmopolitan world talking of him. But he was looking to be famous as a composer and a musician, and not certainly as a gangster.
And Lola? Damn her. Over the short time they have been together she had cost him so much. He wished to be able to work in a real money value how much Lola has cost him over the two years together in emotions and disillusions. Did he ever get anything back from her?
Very little has come back from her. It was nothing else but the illusory pleasure of sexual copulation, a cry of what real love is. Most likely any prostitute in the Cross could have given him a similar physical pleasure. She had been nothing but a bitch, all the time. She had been a heavy burden in his life.
He concludes, ‘I must get to the bottom of all this as soon as I can or else my dreams of glory and happiness with Rossana, will be destroyed before it starts.’
That morning, at the hospital, Luke met Maria. She was still there from the previous evening, in great despair and on the verge of exhaustion.
“Why is this happening to me? Why is God punishing me so cruelly?” Maria asked Luke, while tears welled in her dark eyes.
“Don’t despair… Salvo will be fine soon. Have you heard from the doctors? What have they said?”
“They only said that Salvo is in a critical condition and we have to wait and see. He is my only son, Luke. I cannot lose him.” And saying so, she burst into hysterical tears.
Don Beppino arrived at the hospital at this time and Maria seeing him, was overtaken by fresh commotion. A compassionated nurse came to her rescue.
“Don’t cry Mrs. Caruso,” the nurse was saying, “Please come with me. I’ll give you a medication so you’ll relax for a while. Don’t worry about Salvo. He’s a strong boy and he’ll make it.”
Maria was gently taken away by the nurse and Don Beppino came to sit next to Luke,
“Tell me what you know, Luke. Who ever is responsible for this will pay dearly. I’ve been told that another contract is on you, Luke. I checked with the Liottas. But it doesn’t come from them. They stick to the agreement we took. At the moment I don’t know who’s behind it and why.”
“Michael has promised to find out who paid the contract. I should know soon from him.”
“When you know more, send me a message, and I’ll take care of it. Capito?”
He had promised Maria to be with her to the hospital that afternoon. A specialist is to visit Salvo, and there could be some good news about his health.
Dr. Fergusson reassured Maria with, “A complete recovery of Salvo could be possible, but at this stage it’s premature to guarantee that. This is a long hard process that takes years to restore his full use of his legs. We need a miracle, but it’s still possible.”
“At least we’ve some hope, Maria. I’ll give you and Salvo all my help.”
“Yes Luke, you really love the boy. It means a lot to me.”
“You are having a difficult time, Maria. You must be brave for Salvo’s sake. He’ll need a lot of dedication and love from you. He could be in a wheelchair for a long time, and be in and out of hospital for physiotherapy. Bu he will rely on you, Maria, to work the miracle at home, slowly and patiently, devoting your time to him and making him exercise and activating his muscles with massages. At the end you’ll see your Salvo walking again. I know, it’ll be an exhaustingly long job for you, Maria. I will support you in the best possible way because I love the boy.”
“I don’t know how to thank you Luke. With your help we will be able to manage things.”