Ucciardone Prison, Palermo, Sicilia
August, 1968

            Salvatore Ponerello, Sr. dropped to his knees on the concrete floor of his small prison cell, weeping. “My son is gone?” he cried. “My loyal, perfect son?”

            The guard nodded.

            “I must see Marquette Caselli!” Salvatore wailed, his tears unrestrained. “Bring me Marquette Caselli and I will tell you anything you wish!”

The guard nodded and hurried to report the request to the prison’s warden.

            Sicilian authorities were encouraged.  They asked Marquette to visit Ponerello, giving him full authority to offer Salvatore a lesser sentence if he would provide the location of the fifty missing diamonds.

            Salvatore Ponerello was tall and lean with piercing, dark eyes.  His grieved expression narrowed as he took a seat on the other side of the glass where Marquette waited.  His face was more aged than Marquette had expected, but his body was not stooped at all.  His shoulders were straight, broad, and strong.

            Salvatore sneered as he looked at the younger man.  “How could you work against one of your own?” he snarled. “Have you no honor?”

            Marquette was taken aback. “You are not my own,” he said. “You are Mafioso.”

            “You prejudiced dog. Do you not understand what we work for?”

            “Why did you ask for this meeting?” Marquette interrupted brusquely. “Was it just to bash me, or did you actually have something of worth to tell me?”

            Salvatore laughed. “I shall escape this place you have confined me to, Marquette Caselli!” he declared. “I swear it upon my god, Daedalus!  He will come on the wings of eagles and deliver me from this place!”

            Marquette rolled his eyes, standing from his seat as he said, “You must be truly insane if you think for a moment that will happen.”

            “I swear to you I will bring vengeance upon you and your family that you will feel in decades to come!” Salvatore ranted.

            “You do not have such power over me, for my God is the God over all, and He will protect me from whatever witchcraft you possess,” Marquette retorted.

            Salvatore laughed again. “I will have my revenge,” he promised. “And because of the death you forced upon my son, I will make you hurt in years to come.”

            “Save your breath, for you will need it to fight off the prisoners who so want you dead,” Marquette replied.

            Salvatore got to his feet, putting his hands upon the glass dividing them. He gritted his teeth together and yelled, “I shall pray every day for Daedalus to curse the very ground you walk upon!”

            “Pray all you want,” Marquette scoffed. “Jesus Christ is the Lord of Lords, and He will not allow a hair upon my head harmed.  And if I were you, Salvatore Ponerello, I would ask Jesus to forgive my countless sins so that when you do leave this place, you may join Him in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

            Salvatore pretended to laugh, and said, “What if I choose not to bow in silly submission to your faceless God?”

            “Then you shall burn in hell for all eternity.”

            Salvatore Ponerello’s maniacal laughter rang off the walls of the prison.

            Marquette felt sick to his stomach, and he hurried for the door.

 

            Shortly before suppertime in South Dakota, Marquette placed an overseas phone call to his mother. It was nearly midnight in Sicilia, but Marquette always called his family when he was finished with a big case.

            “Oh, my Marquette!” Rosa exclaimed. “You were in the Argus Leader today! And we saw that smart car they put you into! Your little sister has passed out papers to all of the neighbors. We are so proud of you!”

            “The front page?” Marquette asked, surprised. “How did I look?”

            “Like a star!” Rosa answered, laughing. “Papa says you need to get rid of your ponytail now that you are so famous, but I thought it looked just fine.”

            Marquette chuckled, but he was tired and troubled, and Rosa heard it in the tone of his voice.

            “What is wrong, my son?” she asked.

            “John and I are traveling to Roma tomorrow,” he began, sighing heavily.

            Rosa caught her breath and whispered, “But why, Marquette?”

            “I want to see the memorial,” he answered. “And who knows when I will be this close to Italia again.”

            “But, Marquette —”

            “Ma`ma,” he interrupted gently, “it has been twelve years. Do you not feel I have had to go through enough? I need to lay her memory to rest once and for all, and if I can just read her name upon the granite plaque, then I can come home and be at peace.”

            Rosa shook her head, but said nothing to her son. In her heart she knew that it would take more than just a granite plaque to bring Marquette peace.

 

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