"This Thing of Ours"

Two detectives sat on a bench near the cathedral in New Orleans pretending to read their newspapers. Jackson Square was crowded with people out for their morning strolls before the blazing sun came out to chase them all back inside on this July 5th, 1881. Occasionally, one of the detectives would glance up and check for a signal from the umbrella vender.

“Would ya’ listen, Patty,” O’Hara said, “all these smelly dagos here speaking their gibberish...”

Patrick grunted, “Aye, it’s gettin’ so you wouldn’t even know we was in America.”

They both sighed and went back to pretending to read their papers.

O’Hara leaned back and said, “Y’know, not all these guineas is degenerate, the trouble is tellin’ the good ones from the...”

Patrick cut him off with a nudge to the ribs. Their informant, the umbrella man, was wildly flapping a big white parasol open and closed.

Walking towards the pair was a short, heavy-set man with a thick beard and a distinctive Panama hat. His gait was casual, giving time for several young men to walk along with him for a minute before he dispatched them on some other business.

He’d passed by the policemen and his back was to them when O’Hara called out.


Half a dozen men turned around. The man in the panama hat, though he stutter-stepped, did not.

“Hey, Giuseppe!”

The man stopped and angled his downturned head back at the officers.

“Is Vincenzo... And I no speak English.”

It would be two more months and a trip to New York City before Giuseppe Esposito’s identity could be verified by two Italian gendarmes. The accused murderer of more than a dozen men in Palermo was deported back to Italy but it was already too late. The Cosa Nostra had established itself in America.

No comments: