On the Matter of Funerals

On the Matter of Funerals

A Chapter by Lexi I.
"

A snippet of the first chapter of a book, which is not yet remotely a book.

"

          Writing a eulogy has been surprisingly difficult. Especially considering that it’s for my father.  I can’t seem to think of one decent thing to say about the man, and that’s the craziest part. Don’t get me wrong, he gave me everything: the latest clothes, the hottest cars, the nicest house in the city, and even offered to take out anyone who’d ever try to hurt me. And by “take out”, I mean the good old Italian Mafia’s version of taking someone out. That’s probably the reason I can’t think of what to say. There wasn’t a guy in the mafia who didn’t fear Don Paolo Mercanti. So where do I even start? How do I write a eulogy for the most-feared mobster in Chicago?

            My father was a loyal man. True, until you made him mad. Then it was off with your head, and that’s the end of loyalty for him. I mean, there were those lucky few who ran off, thinking that they were smarter than Mercanti, but that was their mistake. Sooner or later, his henchmen found them and took care of business. I’m not so sure that loyal is the right word.

Don Mercanti was a loving man. Ha. Isn’t that the truth. Maybe a bit too loving, if you ask his wife, and his second, and the third. Maybe one of the mistresses would agree. My mother said Mercanti loved her, but then she remembers that he loved her cousin and sister as well, and she takes it all back. I mean, in his way, my father was loving. He loved me, or at least that’s how he thought of it. I remember when my mom remarried, and he took me into his home. He couldn't have his child raised by another man; no one really objected to the idea of the mafia’s leader taking in a 6-year-old girl so that he could raise her. I mean, they really couldn't object. So love--or force--my dad took me into his home and gave me everything I wanted…and much, much more. 

            My dad was a dedicated, hard-working man. He knew what he wanted, and he got it. And when something stood in his way, he’d try his hardest to make sure any obstacles were removed--by whatever means. The more I think about it: the fewer the details, the better the eulogy. No one expects me to say he was a saint.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

            Today is the morning of my father’s funeral, and it’s somewhere between a party and a day of grieving. Party for all his enemies, and not to mention the Chicago Police Department, who've spent years trying to rid the streets of Mercanti. A day of grieving for all his minions who are going to have to get to kissing someone else’s a*s in order to make some meaning of their lives. For me, it’s neither. I am neither happy nor sad. And while that must sound awful--I mean, the guy was my dad--I have my reasons. I’m not happy that he’s gone, for good. I would never want that for anyone. But I’m a bit relieved that he won’t be able to hurt others, and to make people’s lives miserable. I am happy for that.

The man committed more than a few misdeeds. Too many to count. And his infrequent trips to St.Peter’s probably aren’t going to cut it when he’s at the pearly gates. He’ll probably try to threaten the saints into letting him into heaven. If it’s any consolation to the man--wherever he may have wound up in the afterlife--he should at least be grateful St. Peter’s Cathedral is allowing his funeral to happen within their premises. His donations must have helped him in that regard; at least, I hope it was donations that made things happen. You can never really be sure, trust me.

As I wait for my ride to take me to the church, I check my purse for my phone and the eulogy. It took a while, but I completed it, and it’s not all that bad. I put a lot of thought into what I have to say about my father, and that’s the most anyone’s going to do. Although there are probably some of his “colleagues” who’d have a memory or two to share, they won’t be showing their faces around the church. Not with the CPD on every corner. If cops couldn't get to Mercanti while he was alive, they’re sure as hell going to be there to see him go. I’m sure there are a few cops who’ll have a story to tell about Mercanti’s funeral. There are probably some who’ll even say that they had something to do with putting him in the coffin.

My phone rings. Julio. “Hi. Are you here?” I ask, checking the vanity mirror one last time.

“I’m downstairs. Ready when you are, Val,” his familiar voice is oddly reassuring. I didn’t realize that I was anxious, until now. I am nervous. Very nervous to stand up in front of so many people, people who are showing up to see one of the most dangerous men laid to rest. A good number of those people are probably relieved to see their debts forgiven and their lives once again at peace.

I return my gaze to the mirror. I dab on some of my palest lipstick and spray two strands of my unruly hair back into place.  Somewhat satisfied with my appearance, I grab my things and head to the entrance of Casa de Mercanti, the fabulous mansion where I grew up, surrounded by anything and everything a little girl could want. Well, at least the material things a little girl could want. Marta waits at the door, and Julio is next to her. Both are wearing black: my caretaker and my dad’s uncle. The closest thing I had to parents.

“Everything is good to go, cara,” Marta says, reaching for my arm. Her leathery skin and her scent comfort me. The smell of home.

Julio is dapper as always. His black suit is perfectly pressed, and he is wearing a navy blue tie. His graying beard matches the salt and pepper hair on his head. Julio was one of my father’s closest friends as well as my father’s uncle. For his 60 years, Julio is a looker and a charmer….and one of the kindest men in the mob.

 Julio waits for Marta and me to exit the house, and he locks up, setting the alarm. The service staff is dismissed for the day, and the house will remain empty for the night as we shall remain in the city. We walk to the limousine, where the driver awaits us, nodding politely as he opens the door. He helps Marta and me into the limo, and Julio climbs in after, taking a seat across from us. His green eyes settle on me; they are kind, as always. I offer him a small smile.

“You know, Val, I never thought I’d live to see this day,” he says, his tone pensive.

“Me neither,” I add. Marta, unusually silent, holds my hand in hers. The limo starts, and I settle into my seat. I squeeze Marta’s hand, and she squeezes back. We both smile solemnly.

 “Paolo was indomitable. I thought he’d outlive us all. Without a bit of doubt, I thought that man would scare everyone into their graves before he joined them,” Julio continues.

 He had been only five years older than my father, and they had spent much of their lives together, through thick and thin. Julio was my grandfather’s youngest brother, and he had been in my life for as long as I could remember. He had offered me comfort when the other men in my life were otherwise preoccupied.

“Everyone has their time, even the strongest,” Marta adds. Even in her 50s, Marta is a beautiful woman. She was hired by my father when he decided to raise me, and she’s been next to me ever since. Almost 20 years.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

We approach the impressive St.Peter’s Cathedral, and as we turn the corner onto West Madison Ave., we’re confronted by the long procession of vehicles. The line is backed up; limousines, police cars, taxis and some of Chicago’s finest cars decorate the street. As our driver winds his way through the horde of vehicles and people, my nerves and anxiety spike.  I did not expect so many people to be here; I did not think that my father’s funeral would draw such a crowd, despite his notoriety.

And then I see them; my heart sinks deeper into my chest. The press! A group of photographers and cameramen wait on the sidewalk, taking photos of each individual who steps out of any car. I really can’t do this.

“It will be ok. Just relax,” Marta strokes my hand, and I suddenly wish for the days when I was little girl, oblivious to whom my father was and the world he ruled. I wish for the simplicity of wanting my favorite dolls around me and my favorite bedtime story at night.

“It’s time, Val. Whatever they ask, ignore them. Hold onto me, and we’ll be inside before you know it,” Julio says, drawing me out of my reverie. He offers me a smile, and holds out his hand. Through the tinted window and the flashes of the cameras, I see the driver push his way through the reporters and to the door. I take Julio’s hand, and clutch my purse in the other. The door opens, and the noise and camera flashes obliterate any other thoughts.

As Julio guides me out of the car, thousands of questions assail me, and Julio is ready to push the reporters out of the way. I turn to look for Marta, and she is right behind me.

“When was the last time you spoke to your father?”

“How does it feel growing up as the daughter of Paolo Mercanti?”

“Did your father leave a will?”

“What do you know about your father’s murderer?”

The questions pour forth, touching on every subject imaginable. The police do their job of keeping the reporters at bay, but their questions spill forth unkindly. The walk up the stairs and into the cathedral is never-ending.

“Did you know your father had dealings with Alonzo Conti?”

Finally, we step into the cathedral and the large oak doors muffle the outside noise.



© 2013 Lexi I.


Author's Note

Lexi I.
This isn't the entire chapter.

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Featured Review

Well, I gotta say that I enjoyed the bit that you did share with us on here, your story is well written thus far and I found no grammatical issues in it whatsoever. This was a prime piece of writing, and you have me quite hooked in the story. I wanna know more about the Don, wanna see what plays out with the legacy of terror he left behind and how it affects Val. I hope that the rest of your story will be just as well written, because this was prime.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Lexi I.

7 Years Ago

Thanks for the compliments, John. The rest of the story is somewhere in my head, waiting to make sen.. read more



Reviews

The rest might have been better and maybe I just judged prematurely, but the snippet of an intro just didn't hook me at all. Don Paolo Mercanti just comes off as another mobster in some obfuscated crime ring. There was nothing really special about him, except the usual mobster cliches. Maybe if you took some time to round the character out and make the intro slightly more gripping.

Posted 7 Years Ago


Lexi I.

7 Years Ago

Thanks for the honest feedback. I haven't gone that far into the story, but I definitely would have .. read more
I wasn't going to read this. I hate funerals. Then I thought; 'well I'm a writer of stories and I know we don't get read as much as poems so what the heck?'

What a pleasant surprise! I was immediately drawn in to this world. It wasn't about a funeral at all, it was about a young woman and the people who populate her unique world.

For some strange reason I like her father. I know he was a bad man but it seems he had character and a code of honor.

I hope you continue the story.



Posted 7 Years Ago


Lexi I.

7 Years Ago

Thanks for reading and for the review! I appreciate all of your feedback, Clayton! I will try my bes.. read more
A very good chapter. I like the description of the family and the funeral. I like the conversation of the family about the death of the father. A lot of mystery and secrets to be found in the excellent chapter.
Coyote

Posted 7 Years Ago


Lexi I.

7 Years Ago

Thank you for reading and the review!
This appears to be similar to the beginning of a great longer movie. I like how this writing captures your readers attention and holds it. This is excellent.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Lexi I.

7 Years Ago

Thanks, again, for the compliments. It means a lot! :)
I really enjoyed this. There is enough information in the first few sentences to let you know what the story is going to be about. I liked the chatty feel to it too. It felt like you were being talked to by a friend because of the way that you kept the writing light while still describing people that were far from light! I would love to read more of this.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Lexi I.

7 Years Ago

Your feedback is very helpful. Although this wasn't a project I took too seriously, I did put though.. read more
Well, I gotta say that I enjoyed the bit that you did share with us on here, your story is well written thus far and I found no grammatical issues in it whatsoever. This was a prime piece of writing, and you have me quite hooked in the story. I wanna know more about the Don, wanna see what plays out with the legacy of terror he left behind and how it affects Val. I hope that the rest of your story will be just as well written, because this was prime.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Lexi I.

7 Years Ago

Thanks for the compliments, John. The rest of the story is somewhere in my head, waiting to make sen.. read more
ya ya ya

Posted 7 Years Ago


0 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

435 Views
7 Reviews
Rating
Added on January 4, 2013
Last Updated on January 5, 2013


Author

Lexi I.
Lexi I.

Somewhere, MI



About
Like most people here, I aspire to weave magic with words and to create worlds where others--as well as myself, of course--can escape to. From a young age, I loved reading and joining characters--who .. more..

Writing
The Exchange The Exchange

A Story by Lexi I.


Light Light

A Poem by Lexi I.



Related Writing

People who liked this story also liked..


rain rain

A Poem by K.