Friday, August 26, 2011


The father was the head of one of the five original crime Families. It bore his name. Books have been written about him. He was an iron-jawed icon of the American La Cosa Nostra. I represented his son.

Our relationship was good. Very. Whenever difficulties could be anticipated, I was there, with advice and a  preemptive strike. I kept the dogs at bay and my client out of court. On the personal side, we clicked just as well. Dinners and drinks were commonplace. We liked each other. My career was in its early stages, so this was heady stuff. I dug the juice when recognized as his attorney. The maitre 'd of every restaurant would jump to accommodate him and it rubbed off on me, for I was at his side. He would regale me with inside tales which I absorbed with fascination. His crew, following his lead, abandoned the wall of isolation and welcomed me as enjoying "connected" status. It was the major leagues of my chosen occupation.

One fine day, my secretary buzzed me to announce that Mr. (omitted) was here to see me. Great, I thought, what a workday boost! With adrenalin pumping, I opened my door with an infusion of excitement. What my eyes took in was in the name of the father.

Whoopseedoo! I tried to stay cool by resisting the urge to ask for an autograph. Here he was. In person, in my office. The Godfather. I tried to remember the movie and figure out which hand to grasp and kiss. This cat exuded power, like the president of Exxon-Mobil, and there was, indeed, a structural analogy to be drawn. He spoke. "I'm (omitted), and you are my son's lawyer." He extended his hand and I reciprocated, wondering if I could ever summon the strength or desire to loosen mine from his grip. One thing for sure, it would be one helluva time till the next wash.

I beckoned him to sit on one of the two chairs in front of my desk. And I, beginning to use my bean, chose to sit at his side rather than having a desk between us. I noticed that he was holding a wrinkled, brown paper bag.

"I'm here to thank you for looking after my boy. I'm grateful. He's my blood."

I explained to him how much I cared for his son and what a pleasure it was to be his lawyer. I wondered if he had brought Luca Brazzi with him. Should I tell him of my obsessive love for Frank Sinatra? He then asked if I had two glasses. I opened my built-in office bar/cabinet (those were glorious days) and produced them. He reached into the bag and took out a bottle--no labels. He filled each glass , raised his, and proclaimed,"chintanni." We both took healthy swigs. It burnt all the way down, but when it hit bottom, the buzz-glow took over. This was from the old country. He was bestowing an honor on me and I took it as such. A bit more warm conversation and then he left.

He has since passed, but the books about him are readily available. Often, a movie will reference him by name. History has cast him in a light apart from others holding similar positions in other Families. He is referred to not as a man of violence, but of honor. Stories abound with details as to how this trait was manifested, again and again.

I am quite aware of what traits are associated with men of his position. The name, "organized crime" has been condemned by law enforcement and the public, as well. To me, the key word is "organized." Its members would not rob you on the street for drug money. They didn't seek you out. If you borrowed from or gambled with them, you were putting yourself in jeopardy. Today, in the main, this organization no longer exists. It has been brought down. All for the better. I am, in no way, an endorser.

This memory stays with me. It was an experience. Using that word reminds me of this truism:

What is the secret of success?
Right decisions.
How do you make right decisions?
How do you get experience?
Wrong decisions.

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