Chapter 31: “Who’s up for some murder?”

FRIDAY, 11TH DECEMBER, 2009

By the time 8PM came, the dining room at the Buonfiglio house was already full. On one end sat Nadine, wearing a pearl necklace and a black dress. Her hair, previously an unremarkable cascade of blonde locks, had been transformed into a sleek, sophisticated, and short look. Joseph sat on the opposite end, wearing his blue tuxedo and sporting a thicker head of hair.

But they weren’t the only ones there. On one side of the table sat Charlotte and Sissy, both underdressed but still glamorous with their hair pulled back in chignons. And on the opposite side sat Nicholas and Denise, who clearly took their cues from Joseph and Nadine, although Denise had let down her hair (literally) and Nicholas wore that damn red suit.

“Before we begin,” Joseph said, adjusting his chair, “I have asked Sissy to say grace.”

Everyone linked hands and bowed their heads, as Sissy delivered her prayer. “Lord, on this Saturday night, bless the people seated at this very table. Bless the people who made this bounty of food. And bless the whole world with Your Grace and Your Love.”

“Amen,” everyone replied.

“Except for that piece of shit we’re going to talk about tonight,” Sissy concluded her prayer. Everyone laughed. Soon, they tucked in to a meal consisting of endive salad with honey-mustard dressing, bread sticks, and baked ziti. Obviously, the meal looked great, and that was because they had ordered the whole thing. Nadine and Joseph couldn’t cook to save their lives.

Halfway through the baked ziti, Joseph tapped on his wine glass with a fork. “Okay, people, let’s cut the bullshit. We’re gathered here tonight because this family is going through a crisis, and we need to address it before it gets out of control.”

“And you all know who we are talking about,” Nadine added. And then she screamed, “GRAZIANO BUONFIGLIO!!” It was a shock to her. She had never uttered her son’s name to a living soul, not even to herself. She took a giant sip of wine and calmed down. “Okay, I’m back now.”

“Thanks, Nadine,” Joseph said. “We hired a private investigator to tail down not just the idiot boy, but his friends as well. We know their every move, we know where they like to go for lunch, and we even know where they like to get their haircuts.”

“Speaking of which, Nadine, I love your new look,” Sissy said. “It brings out your cheekbones.”

“Thanks, Sissy,” Nadine replied, sipping some more wine. “I knew it was time for a change.”

“I suggested it,” Denise added, caressing her plate with a bread stick to mop up the sauce. “Well, actually, she wanted to go the brunette route, but I told her that it didn’t suit her.”

“Having established that Nadine looks great,” Joseph interjected, “can we get on with the matter at hand?”

Everyone nodded. Joseph produced five thick Manila envelopes from a nearby briefcase and passed them around. “These are copies of the investigator’s report, complete with colour photos,” he said. “They make for great bedtime reading, if I do say so myself.”

“Who did you hire?” Nicholas asked.

“Enver Berisha.”

“You didn’t hire Lionel?”

“It’s a policy not to hire people you have a pre-existing relationship with,” Charlotte said. “Lionel’s a good guy, but he sucks as an investigator. Savannah could sniff out a story better, and she’s not even in Grade 01.”

“Enver Berisha? That’s Albanian, isn’t it?” Denise asked.

“Exactly,” Joseph said. “He worked for Enver Hoxha, the dictator, before Communism fell. Highly trained, highly qualified, the best private investigator in all of Toronto.”

After everyone had a chance to look at the files, Joseph sat up in his chair. “This idiot son has caused our family too much stress for far too long. But all that’s going to change within the next 48 hours.”

“What do you mean?” Denise asked.

“Simple, Denise. He has surrounded himself with friends and allies. He is most vulnerable when he doesn’t have a friend in the world. Long story short, they’ve got to go. And when they do, he’ll die – either by his own hand, or ours.”

Joseph got up and began walking around the dining room. “In my life, there is plenty of which I can be proud of. I am proud of my home, I am proud of my career, and I am proud of my family. But Graziano…” He chuckled. “What’s there to be proud of where he is concerned? He’s a whiny, bratty, opinionated, juiced-up faggot with no respect for family.”

Nicholas nodded. “Ashley still hasn’t recovered from what happened. She has nightmares.”

“Oh, but the worst thing he’s ever done to this family… it’s so sickening!” Joseph yelled. He went back to his seat, plopped down, and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, Graziano Buonfiglio… how it sickens me to say that name…” He took a giant sip of wine. “And I can’t even say it out loud; maybe if I whisper.”

He went up to Charlotte and whispered in her ear. Her mouth dropped, and she shook her head.

“What did he say?” Sissy asked.

Charlotte whispered in her ear, and Sissy let out a blood-curdling scream. Soon, the secret was spread around, and the reaction was instantaneous and horrifying. It didn’t settle down until five minutes later.

“Well, now you realize that he has to be destroyed.” Joseph picked up his wine glass. “Before I tell you my plan, I think it’s time for a little brindisi. Alla famiglia, salute!”

Salute!” Everyone raised their glasses and clinked each other’s. Joseph then sat down, took a deep breath, and said:

“Who’s up for some murder?”

Everyone cheerfully raised their hands.

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