In A Small Town by Marc A. DiGiacomo

Posted on Friday, August 9, 2013



Donny Mello came to the United States when he was ten, in 1982. At the request of his grandfather, Carlo, Donny went to live with his aunt, Zia Maria Mello, who lived in Hutchville.

Donny always lacked a father figure, as Zia Maria never married. She was heavily involved in St. Vincent’s parish, our local Roman Catholic Church. At one time, she even considered becoming a nun, which would be an amazing accomplishment and honor for an Italian American family, although, the ultimate blessing of good fortune is having a priest in your family.

Donny never talked of his parents but I always wondered if their deaths could be attributed to Carlo’s occupation. The town of Positano was where Carlo Mello escaped to avoid assassination by a local rival from Palermo, Sicily. Carlo was no ordinary Italian; he was Sicilian and known to the people as Don Carlo. He was connected, to say the least.

Carlo Mello ran Cosa Nostra in Palermo and was not to be messed with. His connections were worldwide and INTERPOL was well aware of his criminal enterprise. Donny never talked about his grandfather’s “business dealings,” but I could sense that he missed him dearly. Unfortunately Carlo’s past caught up with him in the most tragic circumstance: he was shot dead attending a small dinner party with friends at La Zagara in Positano. The killer was dressed as a waiter. The shooting had the markings of a top-notch assassination. Don Carlo was shot dead as he forked lemon tiramisu. He never got a chance to taste the luscious dessert. A real pity, as I heard many times from Donny that the homemade lemon tiramisu was to die for in this establishment. I guess Donny wasn’t joking. His untimely passing took a toll on Donny unlike anything I have ever seen.

I was present when Donny received the call from Italy. We went together to tell his Zia Maria, who collapsed at the sad news. I would venture to say that Donny felt somehow responsible for Carlo’s death because he wasn’t there to stop it. He always seemed to miss that Italian lifestyle. He talked for hours about his family and how much he missed them. His stories were a welcome break between dealing with whatever bullshit cases we had pending. Whenever he vacationed in Italy, Donny’s excitement overshadowed his extreme fear of flying. And upon his return, Donny always complained that he never should’ve come back. “You have no idea, cugino,” Donny would say with a real sadness in his eyes.

I didn’t know Donny very well growing up since there was a four-year age difference between us. I remember watching him play football for Hutchville High School. He was the fastest running back I had ever seen. Everyone watched with anticipation every time a new college recruiter came to see Donny play. The whole town was surprised Donny never went to college. As a matter of fact, he seemed to disappear right after high school. My parents had told me he went back to Italy to live with his grandfather, but no one had direct knowledge of this. Everyone had a different opinion on Donny’s whereabouts and rumors spread like wildfire. Some believed he joined the Marines, others said he just snapped from all the collegiate pressure. Only Zia Maria knew the truth, but she would never speak of personal family matters.

None of this matters now. It is all about finding out who wants me dead. For the life of me I can’t think of not one person. With all the arrests and awards I have received during my career, you would think one asshole stands out more than others. There was that one guy Donny and I arrested on a DWI collar right out of the academy. He did threaten to kill us but that was a long time ago. I think he was a minister somewhere in New Jersey.

I remember clearly walking up to the car which was impaled into a large maple tree on a horrible stretch of road. It was three o’clock on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the odor of booze exiting the driver side window was intoxicating. My backup had not yet arrived but I was young, inexperienced and anxious as hell to make arrests. My eyes were drawn to the smallest hint of silver bulging in his waistband. Luckily for me, the driver was passed out. Had he been awake, I might of been shot. I reached for the small piece buried in his belt surrounded by more than one jelly roll. The driver didn’t flinch. The small .38 caliber revolver was loaded with five hollow point rounds capable of a painful death. I didn’t feel calm until I unloaded it.

A passerby in a Mercedes was beeping his horn because traffic was backed up but instantly became my biggest cheerleader after he saw me unload and safeguard the gun. The look on his face was priceless. My backup was just pulling up in the form of Donny Mello who was still in patrol at this point. As he exited the car, Donny shot me a look telling me that I should have waited for him to arrive, but seemed pleased that I was able to handle such a situation on my own. Donny peered into the impaled vehicle and noticed that the drunk was still fast asleep and slumped over the steering wheel. He quickly took over the scene and what happened next was a sight to be seen. Donny gently tapped him on the shoulder and awoke a psychotic beast.

The driver, who was covered in tattoos on both arms leading all the way up to the thin straps of his red tank top, turned and looked at Donny with a look of complete insanity. I had never dealt with anyone in this state of mind so it was a learning experience for me to watch Donny at work. The driver who was short and stocky like a bulldog, started screaming “Fuck you” by the dozens. I don’t think he knew any other word. Oh yeah, “Scumbag” was a close second. I can only imagine what it must have looked like from the interior of the cars desperately trying to get around the confusion. Donny handcuffed this guy who went ballistic. It was on.

Donny and I, lifted the little man and walked him across the street and threw him into the back of my patrol car. All the while he was spitting and screaming. In hindsight, I would have just called the ambulance and had him restrained to a gurney. It would have been so much easier than this spectacle. Donny and I laughed about this one more than once through the years. Back at headquarters when I was processing the drunk, he told me he was going to kill me several times and that he knew just how to do it. It was a little unsettling to see a Marines tattoo on his upper arm, knowing full well he was trained to kill.

I had to tell him to settle down a few times but his demeanor never changed. We waited till he sobered before remanding him to the Westchester County Jail. I wasn’t letting him out on my streets. The asshole even had the balls to ask for his gun back when we arrived at the jail. I have often wondered what ever happened to this lunatic. I always quietly wished that he got some kind of mental help seeing as that he was so deranged. Maybe he found his way back to Hutchville, N.Y. for a little payback. I do have a hard time believing, however, that this mighty old man would be wearing brand new white Reebok sneakers. He seemed much more like a ‘dirty old boots’ kind of guy.

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – R

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