One day some of the kids from the neighborhood carried my mother’s groceries all the way home. You know why? It was out of respect.
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster. To me, being a gangster was better than being president of the United States.
See, the hardest thing for me was leaving the life. I still love the life. And we were treated like movie stars with muscle. We had it all, just for the asking. Our wives, mothers, kids, everybody rode along. I had paper bags filled with jewelry stashed in the kitchen. I had a sugar bowl full of coke next to the bed. Anything I wanted was a phone call away. Free cars. The keys to a dozen hideout flats all over the city. I’d bet twenty, thirty grand over a weekend and then I’d either blow the winnings in a week or go to the sharks to pay back the bookies. Didn’t matter. It didn’t mean anything. When I was broke I would go out and rob some more. We ran everything. We paid off cops. We paid off lawyers. We paid off judges. Everybody had their hands out. Everything was for the taking. And now it’s all over. And that’s the hardest part. Today, everything is different. There’s no action. I have to wait around like everyone else. Can’t even get decent food. Right after I got here I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce and I got egg noodles and ketchup. I’m an average nobody. I get to live the rest of my life like a schnook.
Now the guy’s got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with a bill, he can go to Paulie. Trouble with the cops, deliveries, Tommy, he can call Paulie. Now the guy’s gotta come up with Paulie’s money every week, no matter what. Business bad? F*** you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? F*** you, pay me. The place got hit by lightning, huh? F*** you, pay me.
If you’re part of a crew, nobody ever tells you that they’re going to kill you. It doesn’t happen that way. There weren’t any arguments or curses like in the movies. See, your murderers come with smiles. They come as your friends, the people who’ve cared for you all of your life, and they always seem to come at a time when you’re at your weakest and most in need of their help.
For us to live any other way was nuts. To us, those goody-good people who worked s***ty jobs for bum paychecks and took the subway to work every day, worried about their bills, were dead. I mean, they were suckers. They had no balls. If we wanted something, we just took it. If anyone complained twice, they got hit so bad, believe me, they never complained again.
You know, we always called each other good fellas. Like you said to somebody, “You’re gonna like this guy. He’s all right. He’s a good fella. He’s one of us.” You understand? We were good fellas. Wiseguys. But Jimmy and I could never be made because we had Irish blood. It didn’t even matter that my mother was Sicilian. To become a member of a crew you’ve got to be one hundred per cent Italian so they can trace all your relatives back to the old country. See, it’s the highest honor they can give you. It means you belong to a family and a crew. It means that nobody can f*** around with you. It also means you could f*** around with anybody just as long as they aren’t also a member. It’s like a license to steal. It’s a license to do anything. As far as Jimmy was concerned with Tommy being made, it was like we were all being made. We would now have one of our own as a member.