BOSS OF BOSSES, TARGET OF TARGETS-
"Don Scaletta". Shit, it took me forever to get used to guys calling me that. Especially my old hands, Carmine and Corrado. Even when I "out-ranked" them, it was always just "Vito". I never pictured myself that way. At best, I just hoped to pull down a decent living, stay away from having to do too much "wet work", and getting out before I got old or some younger mobster decided to muscle me out.
Now, I, Vito Scaletta, poor kid of a poor immigrant, was one of the richest men in Empire Bay, if not the richest. And damn near "reputable". Outside of the "reformer" Mayors, who never lasted, or some ambitious Governor, suddenly me and Lydia were in with the "in crowd" of the whole damn State. Sure, your average politician didn't want to be photo'ed shaking hands with me, but he'd smoke cigars and drink brandy with me in a back-room, looking for a campaign donation, either from the unions or from the string of bank owners that I had under my thumb… depending on his party. Hell, Nixon talked with me in April of 1960 at a fundraiser for fifteen, twenty minutes, discussing "inter-state trucking."
Lydia was rolling. Wasn't a rich bitch in town who didn't want to be on her A-list for luncheons, charity events, or cocktail parties at our house. They kissed her ass and treated her like a fucking countess. She even invented a little "background" for herself. Said her dad was some Texas oil man, momma was a debutante from Atlanta, both dead from a plane crash. And that she had been "educated in France".
Such bullshit. Her mother never knew who her father was. Probably some john, given what she had said about being a "second generation whore". Her mom died of alcohol poisoning in 1937, putting Lydia on the streets when she was fourteen. And the only French she knew was "ménage a' trois", when it was her and her pal Gina giving me a "special night" for my birthday.
I played the game too, it's true. Suddenly my Pop was a "shipping magnate" who escaped Mussolini for the States in 1930 "with millions in a suitcase." Francesca was happy to back up that line as well. Her and her new hubby Kevin were set for life as well, and wanted to rub elbows with the same hoi-polloi. I even found a guy who made fake diplomas and got me a "Master's of Business Administration" from some college in Nebraska. It wasn't Ivy League; I knew I'd never be able to pull that con off, but it bought me enough status to hang with the guys who were.
But outside the parties and hobnobbing, business was getting tougher and brutal. And I was having to do exactly what Leo had warned me about…constantly watching my back.
First of course, there were the Feds. In the early 60s, Hoover was still on his crusade and pressure was building. Bobby Kennedy mostly. Before the end of the decade, they'd pass RICO and things would really get tight for us. Until then, it was a matter of keeping all the capos and soldiers from breaking the omerta, the code of silence.
Then came Vince Geppetti. He was a soldier in the Forelli Family. Eventually got close to Old Sal Forelli himself, head of the Family. For reasons nobody knows, he broke the omerta. Went before the goddamn Congressional Committee and spilled the beans on the whole of the Mafia in the States. Nothing that anybody could get prosecuted for, but all the "trade secrets" and history and made public that which had only been rumored about for decades. Suspicions fell on all the Families across the country. And the push in Congress came for more action to take on the "National Crime Syndicate."
Second of course came the drug fights. Heroin and increasingly marijuana were becoming a dominant part of our business. I was constantly having to muscle out some small-timer who tried to come in and horn in our trade. Or, having to knock down a peg or two, one of my own boys who started pocketing a "little on the side". Or worse, getting pinched for a bag of powder and then risking him turning State's.
Leo had warned us years earlier that drugs though an emerging part of our business, might also be our undoing. In addition to the Federal war on the Mob in general, they were upping the ante on going after drug deals and going after cops on the take. And the "old ways" of trying to keep it out of the "nicer" neighborhoods was getting tough. Nobody cared about some colored guy over-dosing or the occasional beatnik junkie dying in a flop-house, but it started creeping into the nicer universities and colleges and "nice, decent" middle-class white people saw their kids stoned or dead in their own vomit, they demanded the politicians and the cops do something about it. Hell, I didn't blame them. But, there was always "some guy who knew a guy" who knew one of my boys on the streets who was willing to sell it to them.
Then you had some foreign guy or organization trying to bring it into the city. Or even a few guys from the other Families, breaking the rules of territory trying to do it. Somebody gets shot in a deal gone wrong, and we had a war on our hands. And with all the easy money, everybody wanted in on it.
Third was Cuba. Almost immediately upon me becoming Don, the Revolution hit. All our holdings in the casinos in Havana became "property of the people" and the whole shebang folded like a house of cards. For most of us, Vegas kept things going, but it was a big hit in the pocket-book. Leone and Sindacco had leveraged everything into Cuba and lost millions. That's why they had sold out Nasty Cohen to Leo…starter cash for their Cuban operations.
That caused a secondary effect. Sal Leone and Tommy Sindacco wanted to come back to Vegas and our Family's near-exclusive to the town came to an end. Nobody wanted a war; we all knew it would kill the golden goose for all of us. But tensions ran high, as they started up competing casinos, fought for tourists, and even intimidated some of the entertainers into "avoiding certain hotels, in preference for ours." And again, the cops and Feds were all over us. By the late 60s, they had sting operations, wire-taps, and were putting the heat on all the local politicians to steer clear of anybody who seemed to "have Mob ties."
Sure, the dough kept pouring in. Me and Lydia even sold Leo's old place for an even bigger house in the suburbs of Empire Bay. And almost seventy percent of my business was "legitimate." But paranoia and fear among the Mafiosi…hell, among ME…was getting out of control. Two guys, often three with Corrado, were outside my house every day and night. The kids were watched at Hillwood Acadmy by a guy on the street. Lydia was driven to town by a driver and the same mug stood outside the storefront while she shopped. I don't think the President of the United States had the kind of security I had. In fact, come November 1963, I was pretty sure of that.