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Short Story Competition 2022 School Years 11 to 13 Highly Commended Jack Bingham ‘Vengeance’

Pic by Johnny Bugeja

Killian Romano. Son of an Irish landlady and a Neapolitan construction worker. Once recognised as the sophomore thief, better known now as Boston's finest mob boss. He worked his way up the ladder quicker than quick and carved an image faster than fast. Mr Romano was the next big thing.

As on most Mondays, we sat around the booth in the corner of the 'Bottle Opener', Mr Romano's club. If a man wanted to speak without opening his mouth, this was the place to do it. For the arrogance of the gold furniture and red leather seats, sat upon with dozens of mobsters in tailored suits with thousands of dollars in rings and watches. It was a place where a man would make or break.

The booth was impenetrable to those who couldn't withstand the smell of tobacco. Like sitting with a fuel pump at a gas station. You could often laugh at the faces associates would pull when they began to experience neuralgia. On the table sat a large coffee pot coupled with a white mug, a pack of 'Benson and Hedges', and of course two slices of bread with a slab of butter and jam.

As he invited each member of his racket to review their week or inform him of any bribes or deals, an entourage of men in all blue suits flooded the booth. One man sat down directly across from Mr Romano and hollered at a waiter. Ordering a dry martini, Romano scoffed and removed his golden glasses. Mr Romano was around five foot eight but had the presence of a Scandinavian lumberjack. Quiet and loud altogether. His slicked back hair gave him a more striking presence paired with emerald devilish eyes. He stared at the man with an unaffected gaze. Rather like a pedestrian sees a pigeon.

He started, "Who do I owe the pleasure of speaking with today?"

The man sitting down carefully sipped before saying, "Mr Markelov wants to know why a group of Italian men have moved 'office' across the street in Long Wharf."

Mr Romano glanced at his newly made pocket watch.

"Marco never came back from a meeting with Mr Markelov. Maybe you could tell me why?"

The men chuckled in union.

"Yeah. He got a bittoo excited, so we took him home."

Mr Romano grinned.

"I never liked him anyways."

With the surrounding congregation left stunned by his response, he refocused his attention to his 'employee'.

"Any trouble today Darragh?"

Darragh replied sharply,

"No boss. Not yet at least."

The men across the table became uneasy.

"Please, sit down," pronounced Romano.

They did so. Mr Romano sat back,

"Gentlemen, I am going to become the largest exporter of methamphetamine in all the United States. Now to achieve this I need to make sure my boys are able to take our shipments off the boats without too much commotion."

He paused, glanced at his stopwatch, and commenced.

"Now, I know Mr Markelov runs Wharf district and I am prepared to make sure he is compensated for any negotiations that I make in his part of town. So, I need-"

"Do you know who you're talking to?" started the man in the middle.

Mr Romano looked up at the ceiling and back down for a third time at his watch.

"Listen boys, you can wear the pants for Mr Markelov. Do you wanna deal or not?"

Disparaged by his statement, the group of men got up and exited the booth. Each one pulling down on their lapels, readjusting their blazers and walked off. The man who did the talking turned round and said;

"You take care of yourself Mr Romano," before shoulder swaying off.

"Well, they took their time," he stated before sipping on his mug.

Instantaneously, the sound of bu I lets began spraying outside. The woosh of each round demonstrated the heat given off at that barrel.

Unfazed, Mr Romano looked up and saw at the door a man in a black suit bearing a black bowler hat and perched in his hands a smoking tommy gun.

"Mi dispiace che ti abbiano fatto aspettare Marco," remarked Mr Romano.

"Yeah. And they say Italians are too emotional!" exclaimed the man.

JUDGES COMMENTS:
Years 11/13 Category

Highly Commended: Jack Bingham with Vengeance. Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather trilogy introduced a whole generation of film buffs to the murky world of the Mafia; it also made fashionable a few words with a menacing undertone: omerta, consiglieri and mobster.

‘Vengeance’ is an offshoot of the Mafia genre. It describes a meeting between Boston’s mobster boss, Killian Romano, stylish with his pocket watch and golden glasses and ‘slicked back hair’ and the reps of a rival gang which is headed by Mr Markelov (the mobsters always observe social etiquette, though they will not hesitate to kill you if you get in the way!). Supposedly set up to fix a deal, the meeting ends with the Markelov boys gunned down when they leave the tacky joint Romano owns and runs.

The incidental details are brilliantly handled. There are the ‘tailored suits’ (mobsters dress fashionably); the tobacco-laden atmosphere; the clandestine unloading of mind-blowing drugs; the line in Italian is a stroke of genius. Every word contributes to creating an authentic picture of a mafia hoodlum and his synthetically contrived world. The dialogue is also well managed so that we seem to be eavesdropping on a real mobster conversation. ‘Vengeance’ is very entertaining, stimulating and convincing. Well done!

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