Eduardo narrated the guided tour for my benefit.
“Years ago, when planning our empire, your Dad and I made a pact to serve our people justly, to govern fairly and with honor. But our most important responsibility was to keep our family safe.”
Carlo said, ”It was our duty to survive and thrive in New York City. We would provide for all generations through protection and prosperity. Once protected and successful it was just a matter to govern in their best interests.”
“The Good Lord blessed me with the many gifts he bestowed on me, Carlo said. Those dearest gifts are my brilliant brother, Eduardo. And you, Ben.”
Eduardo said, “ I feel exactly the same about my brother and you too, Son. That is why Carlo and I used all our God-given talents to create our own fair society.”
My two Dads and protectors moved me. I now really felt like the third part of their Triumvirate, as the Romans called it throughout history: When three forces combined to achieve a greater common goal. They were dedicated to each other. I was quite moved and humbled that they had included me.
“The doors you see ahead all have very specific uses.” Eduardo Peruzzi, aka Anthony Baron, continued the tour. I followed him. So did Carlo, whom I supposed built this all based on Eduardo’s planning and design. The planner and the builder!
The hall before us was about twenty feet cubed: 20’ x 20’ x 20’ high, bright as day. Three doors centered on each of the three walls. The stairway door that we had just left was centered on the fourth wall behind us.
Through Door Number One on the right side of the hall we entered a cozy 50’ square room that was a subterranean copy of the Den above but with some changes to the layout.
This room was constructed out of the solid rock of the mountain. Only the outside wall on the west side had windows that faced out onto the sheer cliff hundreds of feet high. All you saw was blue sky. Again, a feeling of being in heaven! Fresh light and air flooded into the cavernous interior of the most impressive subterranean “Den”.
We could rest here and have a coffee break if we wanted. A place to re-group. It felt familiar, like home.
It was The Huge Den but in a studio apartment setup. All open, but sections of it were a kitchen and dinette area, with a walk in pantry that had been stocked with sufficient provisions that might last for months.
Next to the kitchen area there was a walk-in refrigerator/freezer like in a butcher’s shop. A bedroom area and baths for three completed the survival chamber.
“If we ever have to disappear”, Eduardo said, “We will be sure to thrive as well as survive anything that can be thrown at us.”
“War,” Carlo said. “Or attacks by Mafia, government take over. Anything. We will be safe down here”.
Eduardo said, “A commercial generator was also built into the mountain so we are self sufficient no matter what might happen out there.”
“How did you power The Palazzo?”
Eduardo said, “we have our own electric generation plant on our acreage, also underground, backed up by an industrial stand by backup natural gas powered generator.”
I was impressed with the aforethought and planning by my two Dads, the Peruzzi Brothers.
This was truly what going underground meant.
They had planned ahead for any contingency!
I felt grateful to be in my position as their de facto son. And I was humbled to be their successor. I didn’t know what to marvel at more: their mutual intelligence or loyalty. They had both of these in spades.
Back in the square hallway, Eduardo continued our tour. “The door to the left is our bank vault. In here we keep cash, jewelry, gold and other precious metals.” We toured the huge vault one would normally find in a commercial bank.
One wall inside the walk-in bank vault was full of safe deposit boxes. All the boxes were loaded with fine jewelry, cash money, and precious metals. “Of course the entire vault is fireproof and bomb proof,” Carlo said.
“And the entire Palazzo, both above and below ground, is protected against earthquakes, lightning and any possible natural disaster.”
Another wall held shelves filled with pull out drawers. Deeds of commercial properties owned by various corporate holding companies. Another section contained more shelves and drawers with Mortgages there to properties around New York City.
“Okay”, I said. “You leveraged your holdings with all those mortgages?” Is that where the cash comes from?”
“No, Son, not at all”, Carlo said.
“All our properties are free and clear. We don’t owe anything.”
Eduardo added, “These are all mortgages we own as collateral for many of our Mafiosi soldiers and their families. They are assets, not debts. We are debt free.”
“Carlo and I financed the homes and businesses for our people like a bank would, but with much easier terms. It is our way to assure no outsider can ever get their hooks into our loyal family. Your Dad is very generous and he has been known to forgive the debt early as a reward to a loyal Mafiosi partner.”
Carlo said modestly, “Enough business for now.” We exited the vault back into the large 20’ cubed hallway.
One more mystery door stood before us in the center of the cube straight ahead. We had toured the other two doors and had come from the entrance behind us on the fourth wall.
I said, “What’s behind the last door, here?”
“In due time.” Eduardo led us back up the stairs. This time we took the last door two flights up and found ourselves in the full concrete basement under The Palazzo.
This place seemed to be a maze with all areas interconnected.
Carlo concluded the day’s Odyssey.
“There is much more for you to learn. But enough for one morning. It’s time for a lunch break now.”
Carlo said, “We will meet back right here in twenty minutes. Wear your gym clothes.” My Dad and Uncle disappeared up the staircase at the far eastern end of the basement. I followed and ascended those flights of stairs to find myself back in the private family portion of The Palazzo reserved for only The Peruzzi family.