Secret Subject Swap - Sicily 1922


Photo by Mark Lewis on Unsplash


Welcome to January's Secret Subject Swap

Again 5 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  

Sit back, grab a cup and check them all out:

Baking In A Tornado
Wandering Web Designer

My subject is

Picture it... Sicily 1922

It was submitted by: The Crazy Mama Llama  - thank you, Sarah!

"Signore il sindaco, una ragazza prega di parlare von lei" (Mr mayor, a young lady asks to speak  to you)

Francesco Cuccia, the newly elected Mayor of the Sicilian town Piana Dei Greci (evidently he had won by a landslide) didn't have much time, but he took one look at the delicate redhead, wearing a simple plaid cotton dress, who was pacing back and forth in the hallway, and he felt like he couldn't refuse a short conversation. 

"Chiedila di entrare" (Send her in)

Sophia, age 16, entered the office.

"Buongiorno, per favore, siediti, come posso aiutarti?" (Good morning, please, take a seat, how can I help you?) he said. 

How can I put this. I need to disappear. Well, either this, or you need to whack my SOB husband!

Mayor Cuccia, who was also Don Ciccio, a mafia boss, was not easy to startle, but hearing those words from a young girl's mouth took him aback. He tried not to show his surprise and leaned forward.

"Immagino che non posso essere cosi male. Parti dall'inizio, poi vedremo cosa potremo fare per te. Di certo non dobbiamo uccidere nessuno, vero?" (I would think it can't be that bad. Why don't you start at the beginning, and we'll see what we can do for you. Surely we won't have to kill anybody here now, do we?)

The year before last, I was fidanzata in casa, my parents arranged for me to get married to Guido Spirelli. Spirelli, ring a bell? I understand you're not friends with his family? Anyway, he's no good, and neither is his brother. They are stealing from my business, and I don't like it. Also he's been cheating on me. I want out. I trust you can help me.

Upon hearing the name Spirelli, Mayor Cuccia aka Cuccia il Sanguinario (the bloodthirsty) cringed. Not friends was of course an understatement. The Spirelli family was one of his rivals, and they had done a lot of financial and emotional damage to his own family. However, he wasn't ready to reveal his delight to an opportunity to strike back just yet

"Quasi anni hai, e qual è la tua azienda?" (How old are you, and what is that business of yours?)

I'm 16, and I run a laundry service and a floral shop by day. At night I work at the bar across the street from Edificio per uffici postali, the post office. 

This time Cuccia visibly jumped out of his skin. He knew the bar. He frequented the bar. It may have been a bar on the ground level. In the basement, however, there was gambling, and at the two upper floors one could meet certain ladies. How come he had never seen her there?

"E molto ammirrevole quello che hai raggiunto cosi giovane. Capisco che vuoi proteggere il tuo lavoro. Un funzionario ti contatterà." (It is admirable what you have accomplished at such a young age, and I understand you want to protect your business. An agent will be in touch with you.)

No, no, you don't understand, I am not here to offer protection money, My life is in danger. This morning my husband and his brother found out that I know what they're up to, and that I can bust them any minute. I need to get away. As an alternative, his family needs to be taken out. Frankly I don't care which one, as long as it happens today.

"Ascolta, ti chiami Sophia, vero? Adesso ho un incontro con la società di spazzatura. Tornero tra un'ora. Aspetta nel mio ufficio, qui sei al sicuro" (Listen, Sophia is your name, right? I have a meeting with the waste management company, but I'll be back within the hour. You stay here at my office, where you're safe.)

Sure enough Cuccia was back after less than an hour. Here was his plan: 

A car was going to take Sophia to Palermo, from where a transatlantic steamship departed to Ellis Island, off New York City. Just like about four million other Italians, she immigrated and soon after became a U.S. citizen. 

Sophia had a job waiting for her in Brooklyn. A young couple, Al and Mae Josephine were looking for an Italian speaking nanny for their 4 yo son nicknamed Sonny who suffered from hearing loss in his left ear. Sophia was also expected to help out with the family business.

After Sophia had settled in, she wrote Cuccia a letter to thank him for everything he had done for her. She expressed extra gratitude for the fact that he not only helped her to escape but also granted her other wish and caused her husband Guido to get hit by a garbage truck. Twice.

I know how it works, she told Cuccia. If you ever need my help, let me know.

And boy, did he collect. 

Several years later - the Capones had moved to Chicago' South Side, Cuccia was arrested and later acquitted, and Sophia had gotten remarried to Salvadore Petrillo in the meantime - she got her assignment without even noticing.

She had asked her boss Al for the night off so she and her husband could celebrate Valentine's Day.  

"That's fine" he said. "I need you to do me a favor though as I'll be leaving for Florida the day before. In the morning, after dropping Sonny off at school, you bring this suitcase to my buddy Phil over at Lincoln Park. Right after that you're going to stop at Scalise's restaurant to order your Valentine's dinner. Make it seven courses, my treat. Take your time, ask about every meal in detail. If anybody ever asks, say my buddy John was there to help you put together that dinner. Capisc?"

Sophia lifted the piece of luggage. "It's quite heavy, and I'm a short girl. My car is at the shop. Do you expect me to take the L all the way up to Clark Street?"

Don't worry, I'll have a car ready in the driveway for you. 

Sure enough Al had left her the car keys to a Cadillac and the exact address, 2122 North Clark Street. The suitcase was locked with a combo lock, but Sophia had no trouble opening it. Al always used his lucky numbers. When the lid popped open she was both surprised and disappointed. 

Sophia had never quite found out what kind of work he was doing. Officially he was a boxing promoter, but she was pretty sure he must have been making loads of money on the side. Their house was quite nice, he always had new cars, wore fancy suits and they enjoyed the finest food and wine, even though people were not allowed to have alcoholic beverages in the house?

The bag contained a couple of police uniforms. 

Were they real? Where could he have gotten his hands on those, she wondered, and what was his friend going to need them for?

She closed and locked the suitcase and did what she was told. Everything went well, and she was back in time to make lunch for Mae and herself. They were only nine years apart and had gotten friends of sorts. In the afternoon Sophia picked up Sonny from school, made him a snack and went home to prepare the table for her Valentine's dinner. 

The multiple course dinner was delivered as ordered from Scalise's restaurant, and Sophia and her husband Sal enjoyed a lovely evening.

The next morning when she opened the newspaper, the headline read:

 "Massacre of 7 of Moran Gang - Victims are lined against wall; one volley kills all"

As it turned out seven associates of Chicago's North Side Gang were shot and killed by suspects dressed in Chicago Police Department uniforms. 

It got worse. A couple of days later a black Cadillac sedan - it looked awfully alike to the one she had been using to transport the suitcase - was found disassembled and partially burned. 

A few months later John Scalise, the restaurant owner, and his buddy Albert Anselmi, were brutally killed. It was suspected that the two of them planned to betray and rat out Al Capone as the head of what was called the Saint Valentine Day Massacre. 

Sophia and Sal had enough. They had just found out they were pregnant. They wanted their baby to grow up in a safe environment. In the dead of night they packed their belongings and moved back to Brooklyn. where on January 31, 1931 Sophia gave birth to her baby girl Dorothy. 

Photo by Julie Ricard on Unsplash

So Sarah, I don't know if it was the fact that your prompt said "picture it", which is Sophia's catchphrase, or my association of Sicily, the Mob and the fact that Sophia hinted to have been associated, triggered this post... 

Either way I hope I did you proud and you had fun reading.

Let me know below, and please also visit my fellow bloggers' posts.


  1. I don't know about Sarah, but I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed your story!

  2. That was fascinating! What a story and the way you used the prompt was fabulous! Really, I loved it and I learned a little history.

  3. What a cool read! You did this prompt justice and THEN some!

  4. Great story, Tamara! Love The Golden Girls association. ☺


Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. It will be visible as soon as I had a chance to verify that you are not an anonymous user and/or a spammer.