Disclaimer: I do not own these characters mentioned in the story, except for Jello. This is purely Fan Fiction and the story itself is a figment of the author's imagination. It is written in the style of the great Mario Puzo.
Author's Note: I welcome and encourage any and all feedback / reviews, good or bad. I intend to continue writing, maybe not with this story. However, if I'm asked, there are still plenty of ways to take this story from here. I originally wrote this story in sections and posted it on a Mafias themed game. I received positive feedback and decided I'd share it with you. I understand that some parts could be expanded for the reader, but my original audience seemed to have short attention spans, so I kept it short and without too many details like you'd find in a real novel. So as I told the original audience, let your imagination work for you and fill in what you want.
Prologue: It had been several years since Don Vito passed away. Fredo has also been killed. Michael Corleone is now the Don and he has moved the family to Lake Tahoe with the intent to take over Vegas. Back in New York, a Corleone family member, who goes by his nickname Jello, has taken it upon himself to right some wrongs between the Corleone and Tattaglia Families. What follows is part of Jello's story.
As he sat alone at the round bar where his father had been murdered a little over twenty years ago, he slowly raised his head, his hollow eyes soon followed. He had a deathly stare that would make most men either weep in fear or salute him out of respect. Very few people knew of Jello. He was quiet but cunning, like his father had been.
But the ones, who knew of Jello's story, knew all too well and that he was Luca Brasi son.
He looked at the tacky paintings on the wall, whose days of being glorious, bright paintings had long ago left them. He wondered if this one painting the last sight that entered his father's eyes before his soul left his body?
"Yes, it has to be," he thought.
Jello slowly stood and took one last drink from his Scotch. Using the back of his right hand, he pushed it away. The bartender took a few steps towards Jello, but Jello ignored the him.
He walked around the bar. That filthy bar that sat in the middle of the nightclub. He waked towards that painting, ignoring the couples who just a few minutes ago had been quietly eating their dinner and were now scrambling to get out of this man's way.
Everyone in the place seemed to know Jello was on a mission.
Just as he reached the painting, the painting that had haunted him for all those years, he knew what he was about to do, had to be done.
A few people whispered to each other, trying not to be noticed by this hulk of man.
He stopped a feet short of the wall where the painting hung and turned around to face the people who were beginning to look more and more frightened. The only one in that room who wasn't frightened was Jello.
The Bartender, still rubbing the spots from with off glasses with a white towel, took a step towards the other side of the bar. Jello knew the bartender was sensing trouble and was going for his gun and to hit the release button that would allow that painting to fall off the wall.
This was Jello's cue. He was in charge now and had to stop the bartender. This was actually the cue he'd been waiting on for all his life. And now, the cue had finally come.
Jello, much leaner muscled than his overweight late father, quickly ran to the bar. He grabbed the bartender as quickly as he could and pulled him over the bar by placing his huge hand around his throat. The air let out of the bartenders lungs as his body slammed on the floor and instantly went limp.
Jello, using the knifed pinky ring he'd inherited, and loved so deeply, slit the bar keeps throat.
Guests began screaming and chairs and tables were being shuffled around the room as people tried in vain to get as far from this man as they possibly could. Jello was now a beast. The patrons screaming and running was all part of his plan. He jumped over the bar and from under his tan trench coat, he removed a Thompson sub-machinegun. He reached his hand under the bar and found the hidden compartment and pushed the secret hidden button.
Jello took a deep breath and aimed the Tommy gun at that bile of a painting. Just then, just as he'd planned, the painting quickly flew off the wall as if some magical potion had been cast upon it. Behind it a hole in the wall and through that hole was a secret doorway. The painting had hid this doorway since the nightclub opened, some fifty years ago. The room was used by the hierarchy of the Tattaglia Family as a secret private club. The Tattaglia Family, the same family that was responsible for the murder of Jello's father, Sonny Corleone and attempted assassination of Don Vito all those years ago.
Out of the hidden door, obviously confused by the commotion now going on in the famous Tattaglia's nightclub, several body guards came running out. They were quickly mowed down in one sweeping pull of the Tommy guns trigger.
Jello ran to opposite side of the nightclub were several patrons had begun to cower behind several large mantles that were filled with decorative ferns and a giant fake orange tree. Jello used the mantle as cover as he moved along the wall, mowing down anyone who dared exit from the secret doorway that was now exposed. One after another, the useless bodyguards of Bruno and Phillip Tattaglia were killed. Patrons began trying to scramble out the fire exits, but the fire exits were blocked by tight welds on the hinges that were placed there by Jello's crew several days earlier. People tried smashing the windows, but the cheap wooden chairs the Tattaglia's had used in their nightclub wouldn't break them. Men and women dove for cover under the cheap tables that sat near the mantle with the fake orange tree. After several minutes, the shooting stopped.
In the middle of the nightclub, out of the smoke from the guns, stood Jello with a .38 caliber revolver in his hand. The Tommy gun, which he no longer needed, was discarded on the tile floor next to him. His targets had not been killed that night, not yet. Jello calmly walked through secret doorway in the wall where that hated painting used to hang. Sitting at a card table, unable to move because they were so overcome with fear, was the boss, Phillip Tattaglia and his underboss son, Bruno.
Jello slowly walked over to the table and stood above the two men as if he were some kind of mythical god. Jello never said a word. There was nothing to say.
Phillip began to speak, "Look, I don't know who you are or what you want you want…"
A sharp knife stabbed into Phillips hand to hold him to the table, just as he'd done to Jello's father. Phillip cried out in horrendous pain … then four shots from the .38. The guns report was barely audible over Phillip's scream.
"Now," Jelllo told the two dead men, "my mission is complete."
Several days later, Jello was greeted by Michael Corleone, the true and official Don of all Don's at the Lake Tahoe compound. Just as his father, Vito would have done, Michael respectfully addressed Jello by his true given name, Yahelio, which is Italian for beloved son.
"Yahelio," Michael began as he caressed both of Jello's cheeks in his hands, "you have done our family a great service. Please, please sit." Michael waved to a special chair next to his desk that was used only by the most important visitors. Jello's heart skipped a beat as he realized the importance of sitting in that chair. The chair had been the desk chair of Michael's father in his Long Island office.
Michael waved several fingers in the air and Albert "Al" Neri, the newest under-boss of the family, arrived from the other room with the most expensive Scotch available in America. Neri gave both men Cuban cigars that had been specially rolled with the finest Cuban tobacco and lit them with a wooden match. Neri poured them both drinks. Then, Neri took his place next to the fireplace, which was just out of whisper range in-case Michael wanted to tell his special guest something in private.
After several minutes of silence, Michael began, "Yahelio," he said as leaned forward, speaking softly, "you have taken revenge for the killing of your father. My father loved your father like a brother and I too l love you as only a brother could."
Jello bowed his head as if he was listening to the most important words ever spoken by man.
"You Yahelio have done as I have done. As you know, I have also taken my personal revenge against the Tattaglia Family, for killing my brother … and nearly killing my father and we are now one in the same."
Michael paused and looked away into the distance as if he could see his late father's spirit speaking to him, helping him choose his words wisely.
"As you know though … there will be a war. A war, sometimes, is good … and this war, my brother, will be good. Not only for our family … but for all five families."
Michael took another long drag from his cigar and a small sip of his Scotch. "Yahelio, I have one more job for you. A job that can't be trusted by anyone else in the family. A job that may one day give you run of the entire family … or maybe the Don of Don's," Michael slightly shrug his shoulders as he continued, "but this job must be done without haste."
Time doesn't matter to anyone who has a job to do. The travel, the carefulness, the hiding, it all blends into one long day. But for quite some time, Jello was a marked man. He wasn't able to flee to Sicily as Michael had done. Jello had fewer contacts than Don Vito's son did at his time of great need. Michael Corleone was not able to help Jello financially, at least not in the open. The Don wasn't able to keep track of Jello or his crew, for if he did, it would surly get back to the Tattaglia's or one of their allies of their whereabouts. No, Jello had to keep the lowest of lowest profiles.
Movements were done under the cover of moonless nights and for great distances. In one day, Jello and few of his most trusted crew members might travel six-hundred miles, across several states at a time, just to stay ahead of the underworld that was searching for him, not to mention the law officers too.
On that December night, the night he took his revenge, he knew what that would make him. He knew that to kill a boss, and a powerful boss at that, it would make him a marked man. These things, along with the rest of the process that he'd brought upon himself, he'd accepted and accepted with the greatest of pride. He could hold his head high and smile, knowing the thing he had done, very few other men had done this.
After several months of crisscrossing the country, at about three in the morning, as the small crew of five drove their maroon, 1946 Chevrolet Stylemaster across the state of Louisiana, they noticed a car was tailing them on a dark country backroad. The '46 Chevrolet sped up and made several turns, but the car tailing them was able to keep up. Soon it joined by another car, then a third. Tension was high in the '46 Chevy as they made their way through the swampy, dirt roads that seemed to go nowhere. The five men in the car got their guns at the ready. Although they weren't heavily armed, they knew they had enough firepower to fight a good fight.
The maroon '46 took a turn down a road by a barn and quickly pulled into the main stall. As the five men were about to exit and begin shooting at the unknown men in the three cars that had now pulled in behind them, they saw a single blue flashing light on top of each of the cars illuminate the darkness.
"Fucking cops," one of the men said.
All of them, not trusting that they were cops, or the enemies that had been looking for them, or both, maintained their aim at the cars.
A voice from the second cop car called out, "Yahelio!"
Immediately Jello knew it was Al Neri. Although Neri never said much, he had one of those recognizable voices. All the blue lights went silent, and then the headlights were shut off. Jello knew Neri was the one who killed Fredo, Michaels Corleone's only blood brother while fishing at Lake Tahoe. But Fredo was killed because he betrayed Michael in Cuba which almost cost him his own life.
Jello knew Neri wasn't there to kill him, but he was there for a different reason. He ordered his crew to stand down, "but be ready" just in case.
Neri was a buff figure, with broad shoulders and large muscular chest. His shadow was obvious as it walked into the barn. Several men followed each were carrying suitcases, but stopped short of entering the barn. They sat the suitcases down and returned to their cars.
Neri approached Jello and informed him he had a message from the Don.
Neri began, speaking softly, "We don't have much time. A lot has changed since you've been away. The Don knows of the sacrifices you and your crew have had to endure and he sends his love to you."
Don's never send love to anyone, they only receive others love. The ones they do send their love to, means, according to the code, that it is true love. So Jello knew he could now fully trust the Don and Neri.
Neri continued, "Although you didn't have beef with Bruno Tattaglia, you did try to kill him with his father Phillip."
"I did kill that son-of-a-bitch," Jello shot back. "I shot him right in his big mouth as he screamed at the sight of seeing his father being shot between the eyes." Jello became animated, "I saw it with my own eyes!"
"You did, yes you did do all those things." Neri added, "But what happened after you and your bodyguards left the nightclub that night, you may not be aware of. The Tattaglia's were planning on burning out their nightclub that very night. Several crew members were in the basement preparing to light the place on fire, but you interrupted them. That's why such a small number of bodyguards were in the secret room and that's why there were none in the room when you shot Phillip and Bruno. "
Neri took a few steps away and looked up at the moonless sky. Jello followed. Both men stood there, looking up at the stars. The stars were brighter and clearer than either had ever seen before. Neri, still looking up continued, "Bruno was shot in the mouth. The bullet hit a couple of teeth and almost went out the same hole it came in through. They were able to rush Bruno to a doctor, who was able to save his life."
Jello looked beaten. His plan all along had been to kill each of the men, then kill them again for good measure. Jello told this to Neri and asked how the second shot didn't kill him.
Neri answered, "The knife that was stuck in Phillips hand that held him to the card table. It kept him upright long enough to take Bruno's second bullet."
Jello realized he'd killed one man three times and one man he didn't even kill.
"So the Don has a plan to right these wrongs," Neri said as he crushed out his cigarette. He fumbled around the jacket he was wearing, looking for something. When he found it, he pulled a piece of a map of Tennessee. There was enough of the map to be useful for Jello to find the location.
"The Don has sent these suitcases, which are full of everything you'll need. Go to this cabin, it's hard to find, very secluded, overlooks the side of a mountain and a large lake. You'll be safe there. Other men who live in the area will also meet you there. They will help you. They can be trusted. The Don will send a message explaining what he wants done next."
Jello shook Neri's hand.
"One more thing," Neri added, "you were made a Made Man in your absence. Under the circumstances, we couldn't hold a formal ceremony. There's just one thing that must be done to make it official. The rest can wait until you get back to the Don."
Neri told Jello to hold out his right hand. Neri uses a pin and pricks his right index finger until blood squirts from it. Then Neri announced, "This blood means that we are now one Family. You live by the gun and the knife and you die by the gun and the knife." Jello repeated the pledge.
As far as anyone was concerned, from this point on, Jello was a Made Man.
Jello Brasi was glad to be off the road. Half a year of travelling around the country in the middle of the night was taking a rough toll on his mind and body. As the crew of five drove to Eugene, Tennessee that warm summer night, Jello's thought began to stray and betray him. He was never much of a worrier, but there were a few strange things on his mind.
"How," he thought, "did Al Neri know he was in Louisiana?" He looked out the window as the pastures and the trees that rolled by at an almost constant blur.
"Neri did start his life off as a Ney York City Patrolman … " he wondered some more, " … I guess once you're in the life, no matter what kind of life, then you're always in the life."
He lit a cigarette, "Did I really just get Made? In secrecy? How can I be a Made Man if it's a secret?"
He flicked the cigarette out the window since it wasn't really helping him in his thoughts. "If I'm Made, then maybe I'm MADE."
"Did the Don make me a Made Man or did Neri make me a Made Man? Is Neri betraying me, betraying the Don, or both? Or is he square and just delivering a message 'as ordered?'"
Jello knew he needed to stop thinking like this. He knew in his true heart that Neri would never betray the Don. Don Vito had originally been the one to give Neri a second chance at his fruitful life.
The miles he spent on the road were beginning to change Jello. Before he knew it, Patsy, his most trusted crew member was waking him up.
"Jello, we're here," he said with a good shaking.
The light that was bouncing off the lake in front of him woke him even more from his good deep sleep. The best sleep a Made man can have in the back of '46 Chevy.
People like he'd never before seen stood around the car. Jello stood up and was approached by a tall man with his hair nicely combed to the side. He was wearing what was probably his Sunday best.
"Hi there, you Mr. Brasi?," the man said in an odd accent and stuck out his hand.
Jello shook his hand and thought to himself that this man must be the local boss. 'I guess he's the smartest one here,' he thought to himself.
"My name is Robert."
"Glad to meet you Bobby." Jello had the habit of shortening people's name.
"Who? No my name is," as he said it slower and louder, as if to almost spell it, "ROBERT!"
Jello followed Robert to the cabin, or what he thought was a cabin. From the outside, it looked like it had been brought over on the Mayflower. Half looked like it was falling down, half looked like it was made from scrap lumber and the other half was indescribable. He was a little nervous going in, but once inside, he just marveled at the scenery. It was in immaculate condition. Hardwood floors, brand new furnishings, a large dining table, four bedrooms that were upstairs and even running water and indoor plumbing. The Don had really outdone himself.
On the side that overlooked the lake was a large picture window that stood from the floor to the ceiling. As the passed the picture window, Jello stopped to take in the view.
"Great fishing," Robert said.
"No, no fishing for me. I know what happens when people go fishing." Jello was remembering when Neri killed Fredo while they were fishing.
Summer soon passed and fall quickly brought the cool air Jello had longed for. The crew, unable to go into town since a bunch of New Yorkers would have stuck out like a sore thumb, had set up shop from the neighboring hills.
Moonshine season, the local liquor of choice, ran from the time the corn was harvested until the first freeze. Jello financed a lot of shine that year.
Jello gave Robert's clan enough money to buy a small grocery store called the 'OK Grocery' just down the hill from the cabin. From there, the crew and clan would sell Shine and run a bookie outfit. There weren't any local cops and cops they did have were easier to bribe than any city cop he'd ever dealt with.
Plus he felt he was about as secure from any predators as he could be. On that side of the mountain where his cabin sat, several large families lived on all sides of him. Any of the Tattaglia boys would have a tough time getting to him, since they'd have to fight the hillbilly army first. He figured he'd be able to sit it out there as long as he wished and he was in no hurry to leave.
One day, about a year after they'd arrived, a little boy came walking up the dirt road. Jello watched from the cabin porch as the boy was stopped just down the path from the cabin by Patsy. The boy gave Patsy an envelope and Patsy opened it. The boy and Patsy turned away from each other and walked away.
"It's for you boss," Patsy said as he handed the envelope to Jello.
The envelope was unmarked and it hadn't been mailed. Inside was a single notepaper with the one handwritten word on it.
It had been almost two years since the December attack on the Tattaglia Night Club and Restaurant and a lot had happened since then.
Bruno had undergone several surgeries to repair his face and teeth where Jello's bullet barely missed killing him. He was constantly in pain and was disfigured on the right side and embarrassed to be seen in public. After one surgery, the surgeon had almost killed him by giving him penicillin, even after he told him he was allergic to it. That surgeon was no longer practicing.
Bruno Tattaglia had also sworn his revenge on the Jello and the Corleone Family.
He'd gone to the Commission twice trying to get a sanction on the family. Neither time did Commission agree, citing that the Tattaglia Family had started the war when Don Vito refused to deal heroin with Solozzo and the Tattaglia's. They 'should have respected Don Vito's wishes, not kill him,' they told him.
Everyday though, Bruno's anger grew. He took down several key investments the Corleone's held in Hell's Kitchen. The laundry business Don Vito had started and Chinese restaurants and the docks on the Eastside. The Corleone's were losing money, business, protection and turf.
The Corleone's struck back and took even bigger investments from Bruno, like the four floors he'd ran at the Waldorf. The Tattaglia's would rent the entire floors from the hotel at a special family discount and then re-rent the rooms to tourist and businessmen. Now the Corleone's owned the floors and Waldorf restaurant and all the advertising from the outside vendors. They also took the easy but big stuff, like the bookies that ran the Bronx and Queens.
Several of the solders for the Tattaglia's would be killed, and then several more of the Corleone's would be killed. Soon, both families were importing solders from smaller families in other parts of the country.
The Mayor's Office had even asked for a sit down with the two families, which he never got.
Jello had taken his father's revenge and started a war, but that's what Don Michael wanted and that's exactly what he got.
Eventually, Bruno Tattaglia realized that he could not win this war in New York. And since he couldn't win it on his own turf, he'd take the war, financially, to the Corleone's.
In Las Vegas, Don Bruno Tattaglia was just another family man. Literally.
Las Vegas had been declared neutral by the Commission. If there were any problems, both parties would have to take it to the Baby Mafia, the Chicago Clan. So Las Vegas, with all its money making possibility was accepted as that, neutral.
As soon as Bruno arrived, he began to buy plots of land that were just outside of the city. He knew Vegas would grow fast. He'd have just enough time to get his hotels and casinos built by the time the population reached them.
He hired the best local attorneys and land developers. The best local architects were knocking down his door trying to get his business. He gained a lot of respect in Vegas because he insisted on hiring the entire Local Builders and Plumbers Unions Number 501.
Things were really looking up for Bruno Tattaglia. He knew it was slowly killing Don Michael since there was nothing he could do except watch.
And Don Michael was watching.
Bruno's Hotels and Casinos had the best decorations and accommodations. Three of the four casinos were up and running in a matter of months. Two hotels were booked solid throughout the year.
Bruno was the most proud of his third and final hotel, called the Desert Mirage. From the eleventh-story penthouse, he planned on running his empire. Bruno paid extra for the Mirage to be completed earlier than planned. The workers were just days from finishing and he practically planned on opening as soon as he got the Certificate of Occupancy, ready or not.
Early one morning, Bruno Tattaglia sat in his temporary office at his other hotel, the Desert Sun. This hotel was a bit more cut-rate than his other hotels and casinos and not as nice.
He slowly walked around his office, reading the newspaper from the evening before, listening to the local jazz bands on the radio and sipping his imported Columbian coffee.
As he looked around the office, he began noticing a picture that hung on the northern wall. The picture seemed familiar, but he wasn't necessarily able to place where he'd seen it before. He picked up an orange and began peeling it. The picture was a little crooked and he walked over and straightened it.
A knock at the door startled him. It was his Vegas business partner, Jimmy Gandolfini.
Jimmy came in and told Bruno he had some news for him, but he'd better sit down first.
"I take my news standing up," Bruno said almost shouting.
"We," Jimmy said as he cleared his throat, "we received some papers, from the local lawyers. It seems…" he restarted his sentence, almost blurting it out "it seems the Michael Corleone owns the land your hotels and casinos sit on, all except the Desert Mirage that is."
A look of bewilderment and anger came over Bruno's face, what was left of it.
"What do you mean? What papers? How could this be?"
Jimmy explained that the Corleones had paid off the local land owners long before the Tattaglias arrived. They sold their land to Bruno, but they no longer owned the land. Michael Corleone owned the land. He also owned the Land Commissioner and several politicians. There was nothing else Bruno could do except sign the property over to the Corleone's. Don Michael had set up shop long before Don Bruno arrived in town.
Beaten and tired, Bruno Tattaglia decided to visit the only hotel he still owned. Then he would plot his revenge. He swore he would not be beaten by a thirty-five year old punk Don. Never.
Early the next morning he arrived at the Desert Mirage and was met with the construction foreman, a man he'd never met. The cleaning crews and workers had worked all night to get the lobby and elevators presentable for Mr. Tattaglia, as they called him.
He walked in the lobby and noticed someone had changed the carpet from a nice blue and maroon pattern to an orange and black pattern. The foreman had no idea how this happened and promised he would have it changed by the end of the day.
Satisfied, Don Tattaglia walked over the VIP elevator, as it was waiting for him. The elevator operator held open the door and Bruno and the foreman got on, en route to the penthouse that would soon be the home of his empire, what was left of it.
Just as the door was shutting, a construction worker called out to the operator.
"Hey! We need to go up! There's a bad water leak all over the top floor!"
The operator looked at Mr. Tatttaglia and the foreman. Bruno gave his permission for the workers to go up with him. He figured it was the penthouse that was flooding and he wasn't about to do anything to compromise what little he had left.
Several workers got on the elevator and thanked Tattaglia and their foreman.
Don Bruno Tattaglia counted the dings to HIS top floor. His floor.
One, two, three …
he looked around the elevator at how nice it was.
he noticed one of the workers was wearing a small orange carnation flower on his Dickies uniform shirt.
he noticed the same worker was wearing Italian leathered shoes …
then, he noticed the most unmistakable aspect of this man, the worker who had entered the elevator at the last second …
the inherited knifed pinkie ring …
Tattaglia looked up and saw the worker was Yahelio!