Part Thirty Nine
by sarAdora ~~~~~~~~~~
If anyone in the small hospital wondered why so many men with shoulder holsters crowded the lobby and waiting rooms, no one dared mention it out loud. They knew the men were loyal members of one of the reigning Mafia Familia but that was all they knew. The men were polite and silent except with each other, their whispered conversations shadowed by their hands, worry for the previously comatose wife of il Padre del Dio etched deeply on their faces.
They waited for him. Well-dressed businessmen, professionals, merchants, and men who looked like they were undercover law enforcement. They came from all walks of life and all were loyal to Giancarlo Ruggiero Batali, the benevolent Godfather. They had waited three long days and nights and would continue to wait. Now that word had arrived that the Godfather's wife was awake and coherent, they still waited but with lighter hearts.
Giancarlo watched Francesca sleep, her rest a natural one for the first time since the attack. Losing their child brought grief beyond belief... an ineffable sorrow that would always remain with them. Time would move them forward to other events and to memories that would bring them joy. For now, they would cherish every moment they had... Francesca lived and would be well again.
It was time to thank everyone who had waited with him... who showed their loyalty... and to let them know that il Padre del Dio della Batali Familia remained firmly in charge.
The room was hushed when he entered, everyone's attention immediately drawn to the man to whom they had sworn a life-long blood oath, to the man who knew each one of them by name and who had made them wealthy men in their own right.
He arrived without fanfare and showing no sign of his grief, Giancarlo's quiet strength speaking volumes, identifying him and reinforcing that he was the man very much in charge of la Familia. He spoke softly, thanking them... for their care, their concern, their prayers, their loyalty and their friendship. And then Dom Marchetti moved through the room letting them know when and where to meet later; the business of la Familia would go forward as if nothing untoward had occurred.
All breathed a sigh of relief - this was the Godfather's signal that he had returned to daily life. Tutto è bene All would be well. The one thing they would not ask, the one thing they were eager to hear the details of would never be spoken. When... and how... would il uno chi denuncia the traitor die?
He thought he was dead. It was dark and damp and he was chilled. His stomach had stopped growling days ago. Or has it been weeks? He had lost track of time, his body weakened from a lack of food and water. If he could just curl into a ball, sleep and never wake up. It wouldn't matter what happened to his body; he'd be blissfully unaware. And then momentary lucidity surfaced and the image of the Godfather's face was clear in his mind. Giancarlo Ruggiero Batali... Ruggiero the Warrior would never let him die so easily.
The hour was late when Giancarlo arrived. Francesca was home and tucked into their bed, his mother and Angelina at her side. Dom Marchetti would stand in front of the door that led to the "room," leaving it open a small crack to hear the justice that il Padre del Dio would administer in the name of the Batali Familia.
Both Paolo and Leonardo would have gladly taken care of the matter but were grateful and honored that they had been invited to hear the man's agonizing death. It was their "adopted" daughter that had been attacked and their grandchild that had been killed. It was a badge of honor that Giancarlo thought enough of them that he allowed them this concession.
Not surprisingly, both his mother and Angelina would have gladly killed the serpente snake that had perpetrated this horror on the Batali familia. He was reminded again that females of the species are more vicious than males when it came to protecting their young. The male might be stronger but the female was driven with a bloodlust to guard her offspring and if necessary, to extract revenge. The Batali matriarch and Angelina Mancuso were no exceptions. If they could not wield the deathblow, then they formally requested that they accompany him and observe the man's demise. Just as formally, Giancarlo thanked them, knowing they were sincere but this was a task il Padre del Dio must perform to avenge the Batali Familia and as Godfather as well as husband, it was his right and his duty to avenge his wife and unborn child.
Giancarlo paused in front of the door, his head bowed as he whispered to his God and his personal saints that it was an "eye for an eye." He fully expected complete and total understanding as well as compassion in return for this deed. Holding his palm up, he turned to his oldest friend and nodded. Dom placed a long razor sharp knife into his hand and the Godfather entered the room.
The remains had been burned leaving no traces of the man's existence corporeal or otherwise. No one would ever speak of the man or what had happened to him. It was the way of la Familia to take care of family matters and that included the policing and disciplining of their own. In this extreme case, the Godfather was judge and jury and executioner and because the man had acted against him personally, he and he alone had been responsible for his fate. The deed was done. It was over.
Dom Marchetti, accompanied by Paolo and Leonardo disposed of the ashes and then took the clothes and shoes Giancarlo had worn and burned them in a different place. The "room" had been cleaned, "blue light" inspected for trace evidence and was deemed "available" for whenever it would be needed again, hopefully not in Giancarlo's lifetime. The tunnel leading to the room was resealed; it no longer existed.
His body was clean and now he had to cleanse his soul. It was not necessary to confess; God knew what he had done. He would not do penance for this act; it had been justifiable and in his mind, it had been an honorable act. The church had been closed to outsiders; his bodyguards standing watch outside the doors until the Godfather had said his prayers.
The priest had been startled to see him at this late hour and thinking that Francesca had suffered a relapse, rushed to comfort him. He was dismissed with a soft thank you and assurances that his beloved was recovering and the man of God, recognizing the Godfather's pain, left him to commune with his Maker on his own terms.
Giancarlo lit candles, each taper raised in turn as he paid respect and homage to his saints. He thanked them for their many blessings, for reinforcing his faith in a power greater than he and he thanked them for whatever the future would hold.
He was silent for a while, gathering his thoughts and then in a soft and subdued voice, he spoke to his saints, relating all the events, including all the ugly details. He told of the man's treachery, how his hatred had festered for years and why il uomo diavolo the devil man had broken the laws and the bonds of la casa nostra. He enumerated the details of the traitor's agonizing death, how he had killed him, the screams the man had uttered with each slow stroke of his razor sharp blade.
He bowed his head as he confessed that he had prolonged the torturous death so the devil man could feel the pain he had inflicted on his family. Closing his eyes, he paused to think of what he had just confessed, searched his mind to be sure he had not left out any detail and satisfied, voiced a well-rehearsed and often repeated prayer that they understood his actions.
And then he spoke of the physical pain Francesca had suffered only because she was la moglie della il Padre del Dio the wife of the Godfather. With great sorrow, he told the saints of the long and painful recuperation that still awaited his beloved. Lowering his voice further, he whispered of the loss she had endured - the child she had carried and loved - the loss she would suffer all of her days.
The Godfather of the Batali Familia had to take several calming breaths before he could continue. When he was able to speak, he raised his head to all the saints to whom he had always treated with great reverence and spoke of the innocent babe they had lost to a madman, the babe he had buried along with a portion of his heart.
And then he cried.
The tears flowed freely, his grief alive and palpable and horrendous. "The babe was an innocent," he mourned. "She was loved from the moment we knew of her existence."
"Elemosino di voi I beg of you," he prayed as he fell to his knees. "For mia Francesca, mia adora my beloved, for mia madre and for all who love my beloved, let her body heal. Let her heart move forward and make her live again. Per piacere, Please... Elemosino di voi I beg of you, give us another child. And for me," he prayed. "Give us another babe."