Murder Takes Time by Giacomo Giammatteo

Synopsis—Murder Takes Time

My mother died the day I was born. My father was so upset he didn’t name me for five days. Our neighbor warned him that if he didn’t hurry, the devil would give me a name. He waited too long.
My name is Niccolo Conte Fusco. I’m a hit man.
I was smoking at five, stealing at six, and by the time I was eight, Frankie, Tony and I were selling shopping carts full of stolen cigarettes to the “right people” in the neighborhood. That’s when we took an oath to stand by each other forever.
When I was thirteen I fell in love with Angela Catrino, the most wonderful person on earth. For four years we had everything, keeping it together even when my father died. One night my friends got in trouble and I had to go help them. Had to because of the oath. I helped them that night—saved them, they said—but I killed a guy in the process. The judge sent me away for seven years, which grew into ten. My friends stopped coming to see me after a month or so. That didn’t bother me because they said they would write. They didn’t. Then Angela stopped coming. Then Mamma Rosa, the woman who raised me. Pretty soon, I was alone.
I’ve been haunted by letters all of my life. The letters I didn’t get from my friends. The letter I got when Rosa Sannullo died. The letter I got years after my father died, when I found out he had been a shooter for the mob. There was another letter, too—the one Angela sent me just after she stopped coming to see me. I hated that letter the most.
After ten years I got released and joined my friends in New York, hoping to pick up where we left off. But things had changed. Tony was with the mob, and Frankie was a detective. Before long I was working for the mob as a hit man. I built a secret reputation as the most notorious hit man ever. Then the mob asked me to kill a woman—Gina—who was blackmailing them. I accepted the assignment but, just as I was about to pull the trigger, she did something that reminded me of Angela. I married her instead.
Now hiding from the mob, I reached out to the only person I could trust—Frankie Donovan. I told him that we had evidence against Tito Martelli, the head of one of the Five Families. Soon afterwards Tito found us and killed Gina. I hunted down the ones responsible for killing Gina, then focused on finding out who betrayed me. I remembered the call I made to Frankie; he was the only one who knew where I was.
The papers called these murders the most brutal in the city’s history. That’s good. I wanted to send a message. Frankie had always been smart, so he’d know he was next. He’d go talk to Tony, and he’d work with his FBI buddies, but they wouldn’t get anything. The only thing he’d figure out is that it connected somehow to Tito Martelli. Just the way I wanted it.
While they were watching Tito, I went to see Tony to find out for sure who did and said what. I didn’t mean to kill him; Tony was like a brother to me. But I found out it was him, not Frankie, who betrayed me. Relieved that I hadn’t done anything to Frankie, I took care of Tito, thankful to have saved him for last. But I still wasn’t home free.
Frankie figured out where I’d go and came looking for me. He never knew that it was his sister who got us into trouble on the night that put me in prison. And he didn’t know that what he inadvertently told Tony caused the death of Gina. After a confrontation where he damn near shot me, he decided to let me go. Said he didn’t have enough evidence on me anyway. Said I should go see Angela, the girl I fell in love with at thirteen.
I decided he was right and looked her up. She had been married and had a child, but she seemed eager to see me. We made amends and I promised Angela I would go straight. Everything seemed like it was going to work out great—then I found out my daughter’s estranged stepfather had been abusing her. As I lay in bed with Angela that night, I couldn’t shake the thoughts of what that man did to my daughter. I folded my hands, said a prayer, and asked God for the strength to not kill him.


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