Journeyman Reads: The Sicilian, by Mario Puzo

the sicilian

The confession booth was always one of his favorite places. In there, the good Lord washed away all of his sins and made him holy again. Without this sacred ritual, his heart could not handle the guilt of all that his lifestyle forced him to do.

“Forgive me father, for I have sinned.

My name is Turi Guiliano. I was born into post-World War 2 Italy, a time when Mussolini’s fascist regime is no more, the economy is struggling to recover after the heavy defeat in the war, and the lire is worth less than a steaming pile of donkey shit.

I am a peasant, therefore I had no choice but to involve myself in harmless illegal activities just so that my family could survive. The authorities did not see my activities as harmless and forced me into a life of banditry, living in seclusion high in the mountains. My family has not seen me in years.

I am not the only one who suffers because of the terrible rule of Rome. Along with several other young men disillusioned by our lack of prospects for the future, I formed a merry band and made a name for myself as the as a champion of Sicily and caught the attention of powerful chiefs who controlled the region. The call themselves The Friends of the Friends. We call them the Mafioso and they are unofficially led by Don Croce, the richest and most influential among them.

Don Croce is a wise man who would rather turn his enemies into pawns rather than kill them and he tried to recruit me into his Mafia however I do not trust them and disprove of how callous he is with the poor man’s strife. I refused to join them and they took my refusal as an insult to their pride.

The men who make up my band share my vision of a free Italy where any man can make a name of himself through honest hard work however they serve themselves first and foremost and will turn on me at the first sign of weakness. I have been forced to kill men that I grew up with for the crime of breaking Omertà, the sacred code of silence amongst all Sicilians, and will almost definitely kill again. This bothers me because I love and respect all life however I will do what I must for the alternative is being killed myself. I know that God cannot accept such a paltry excuse for the taking of lives but even so, I must ask you father: does my soul stand any chance of salvation?”

“”

 Abbot Manfriedi considered the man on the other side of the booth with a sigh. He’d watched this young man grow from a roudy youth into the Champion on Montelepre. Placing his bets on Turi all those years ago proved to be a good gamble, but now his enemies surrounded him, and the Abbot was not so sure anymore. How do you tell someone you love that you can see his end is closer than he realises?

“Turi, I have known you since that fateful day when you were forced up into the mountains. I protected you from the men who wished you harm not only because I am a man of God but also because I saw in you a man destined for greatness. Your heart is pure, and your ideals honourable, however I fear that Sicily is not ready for men such as yourself. The peasants love you but they lack the courage to revolt in your name. The rich respect you but they will not stand idly by while you fleece their ill-gotten gains.

As you have said, your men love you but they serve their own interests first. For now your interests are the same as theirs but who is to say that this will not change? They will desire personal riches, the patronship of a stronger chief, or to protect their own loved ones from the retribution of the Friends of the Friends and the carabinieri. Men have killed for much less.

God will forgive you, as he does all who kneel before Him and lay bare their sins, but he cannot protect you from what comes next.

What happens next is up to you. Not even I can tell you best course of action. My only wish is that you go peacefully, and carry God’s love with you wherever you go. Now say 5 hail Mary’s and be careful on your way out because I have it on good authority that the carabinieri has patrols on the streets tonight. And believe me when I say that I shall never reveal the details of our conversation, for I am certain that SO DIE ALL WHO BETRAY TURI GUILIANO!”

Journeyman’s Rating: Sam The Samurai you are a genius. Thank you for this recommendation.

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