Carlo dismissed Leonardo from their sentry roles and they exited The Spy Room. Maybe they take turns to eat. At least one of them would be close by, no doubt.
“We kept Baron Construction Company small as part of our cover,” Eduardo said. “It is only a cover for us to show some income.”
Carlo puffed a cigar at 8:30 am. “We didn’t want to attract attention to you or Eduardo; for your safety and Rose’s family.”
Always safety first. I thought how prudent they had planned for our future. No wonder why all the families in this Mafiosi Mountain entrusted their future to The Don. Had they known there were really Two Dons they would have even been more secure.
While Carlo, ever the gracious host, refilled all three of our cups with some of the finest coffee I ever tasted, I reviewed my situation.
I would have to remember when in public, basically anywhere outside The Palazzo, I was Ben Baron. That is easy. I have been Ben Baron all my life. Here at Mafiosi headquarters I would have to get used to being Benedetto Carlo Peruzzi! I would have to learn my duties as the third member of their elite Triumvirate. I felt grateful and blessed for the opportunity.
I took a final sip, set down the gold-rimmed fine China cup, walked around the spacious pentagon for a minute past the five rooms. They gave me an eerie feeling. Watching without sound and assessing the situation, I stopped in front of the office.
“Where was Annette all these past years?”
I asked, watching her shake hands with Msgr. Murphy to conclude their meeting.
Anthony, I mean Eduardo, took that one. “My daughter was away at school to give her a proper education and to remain safe. After she lived with us when you were still very young, Rose and I felt it would be safer for both of you children to be kept apart.”
“After much consternation and discussion we came to a family decision.” Carlo interjected.
Eduardo chimed in. “I agreed and so did Rose. Keeping our connections hidden would give us the best odds that our enemies would not find our weakest point: our minor children.”
A light bulb went off in my head. I could now see how every decision could become life-altering if it is wrong or not based on protection first. I understood for the first time how to plan in advance: to think like a Mafiosi leader.
“I guess our enemies are keeping their eyes open for any weakness in The Peruzzi family,” I said.
Carlo and Eduardo smiled.
“Another reason why you will become The Don at some point,” Carlo said. “ Not just because you are my son: the first born of the first born. You are smart and you have the temperament.”
“And a man,” Eduardo added.
“My daughter, Annette, could not react under this kind of pressure. No woman should be expected to. That is why she will remain here at The Palazzo to serve our family in the very worthwhile capacity you have just witnessed.”
Carlo said, “Yes, Son, my brother, Eduardo, has been doubly blessed: having you as his son for 19 years, and Annette as his daughter for life.”
Eduardo said, “ This is the best way to protect my daughter and grandson. Annette found peace of mind and happiness here at The Palazzo, and Little Carlo has the best of everything. There will always be a place for them here.”
I could see how they will protect and plan and groom him for his future as they did for me.
“What are we watching for in the dining rooms?” I asked.
“Nothing until after lunch”, Carlo said. “Then, it will be quite illuminating. Friday’s are quite a day around here.”
“We have another reason for being in here this morning with you, Ben.” Eduardo rose from his chair and stood at one end of the conference table. Then he began rolling swivel chairs off the rug.
Carlo did the same. When all the leather swivel chairs were off the rug they each took one end of the conference table and carried it easily off to one side of the large 20’ pentagon. They were very strong men, despite their salt and pepper hair. Only the rug remained now in the center of the hardwood floors.
Instinctively I knew what they were upto. There had to be an escape from this room. I went to one end of the rug and rolled it forward. I was right!
Both men smiled in admiration as a trap door was revealed under the rug.
Carlo said, “Remember my brother here is an architect and an engineer? Eduardo designed this Palazzo”.
“And there is a lot more than meets the eye”, Eduardo said. “Since we are at the apex of a mountain with good, dry soil, I knew right away when planning this Mafiosi Community, this Palazzo would need a safe exit.”
Eduardo pulled open the trap door to reveal a set of steel stairs. Motion triggered the space to light up brightly. “ Carlo sacrificed his life for us and I wanted to keep him safe while he leads thousands of us now throughout The City.”
“We all work together”, Carlo added.
I could feel the mutual admiration and respect these brothers had for each other and how it extended to our whole family.
The three of us descended down three flights of stairs, with a landing at each 180 degree turn. At the end of the first flight of stairs there was a door we did not enter.
Eduardo said, “This is the escape route to and from the basement.”
It was good to know we could escape from the basement also.
We ended up probably about 30 feet below ground, l figured, after descending two more flights of stairs. We exited the stairway through a door.
You are no longer in the land of Oz, Dorothy!
An enormous subterranean chamber opened before my stunned eyes. Overhead lights lit up a huge cavern as bright as day. Carlo and Eduardo chuckled for a moment at my reaction. As the three of us walked forward, Carlo said, “This place is for our eyes only.