The Octopus and I
Flash fiction – 350 words.
Confession time: for the last couple of years I have been living a lie.
Since I moved to the Che Guevara estate – so-called because of the guerilla warfare among feuding drug-dealing gangs – I have acquired a dubious reputation.
My name is Joe Formaggio but that’s not why they say I’m the Big Cheese. The residents assume that I am a Mafioso, even a Godfather.
Which I ain’t. It’s all a misunderstanding.
What enhances people’s belief that I am a ruthless villain is my physical attributes. A broken nose and cauliflower ears, the legacy of amateur-boxing days.
I was amused by the situation, did not do anything to dispel the rumour and decided to continue the mendacity.
I run an import/export company between this country and my motherland. It is a legitimate operation and that is the honest truth.
Because of the nature of my business, I receive a lot of correspondence.
Not all the literature I receive is business-related, though. I subscribe to various publications among which there is a parish newsletter from my hometown that the reverend Father sends me to keep me informed of what goes on among the congregation, i.e. births, deaths, weddings.
The newsletter is printed by a local printer who had the bright idea of putting on its masthead the picture of our church tower and the title “Casa Nostra” (our house).
Our postman, unfortunately, is monoglot and it is understandable that he read it as “Cosa Nostra” (our thing).
In a jiff, I morphed into a member of the Sicilian criminal fraternity. Suddenly people started behaving oddly, forelock-tugging and showing me excessive respect.
One unexpected, but welcome, consequence of my arrival on the Che Guevara estate is that all the small-time drug dealers and skinheads gangs have disappeared, obviously afraid of incurring the wrath of the Sicilian ‘Octopus’ and for the first time our streets are safer and drug-free zones.
By not revealing that I am just an honest trader, I am maintaining the fairy tale alive and will keep the lie going for everyone’s benefit and peace of mind.
© Luigi Pagano 2021