A leisurely stroll on a cool morning. Anastasia Lane is tree-lined with bodacious curves like his wife’s. He is not quite sure where the road will take him. This is a new neighborhood. His heavy patrician brows, salt and peppered over time speak to old-school character. Harder working, forthright decades. Maybe. Broad shoulders once home to a leather holster a bit concave now. With a surgically fixed hip, he perseveres upright and true. A firmness beneath those size fourteens beats the pavement, nothing aged in that step. He’s thinking about life. He’s a thinker. His brain will never stop cycling. Unlike the right arm that sometimes gives him bother.
He is passing a grand home on Anastasia Lane, a compound with ornate gates around its perimeter. Behind the black iron rods–in stark contrast–a large, white German Shepherd paces. The walking man’s flecked grey eyes shift. Having owned several of the black and tan variety, he admires the GSD a moment then continues on. His mind wanders back in time–a bleaker part of NYC. Two murderers hiding out on the ninth floor. Blocking the hall’s entrance, a hulking Shepherd with raised fur and glistening canines. In the stairwell, two agents plan a regroup, when the grey-eyed agent comes up from behind. He moves to the front and simply growls more loudly than the dog. The next moments complete another story–one that becomes legendary at retiree gatherings.
Continuing along Anastasia, the grey-eyed man is passing the expansive lawn’s last wrought iron post when from behind, silent teeth sink into his upper thigh. He reacts immediately whacking the white GSD’s head with his good arm and his large hand. His trousers are torn and blood is trickling down the back of his leg. Charging across the monstrous lawn, the GSD’s owner bellows, “RELEASE, RELEASE!” The dog owner’s voice quickly turns contrite. Sweat trickles down his ample exposed chest onto his jogging suit. His combed back hair is shoe-polish black and his endlessly dark, Sicilian eyes remind the old agent of someone.
The bite only broke surface skin. Within minutes the two are sipping Sambuca together in a flamboyant Mediterranean room. Above the gilded mantel, looming larger than life hangs an oil portrait. The old agent stares through the intense frozen eyes. He’d remember that gaze anywhere. Decades ago, Enzo Rozzoni was painted into a nice jail cell with canvas bedding. The grey-eyed man helped put him there.
The old agent and the Sicilian empty their shot glasses. Then the grey-eyed man points to himself and states with a grin, “Franco Rozzoni, I knew your father. FBI–”
Smiling equally as wide, Franco Rozzoni parlays, “No wonder my dog bit you in the ass.”
The old world neighbors share a laugh over another round of Sambuca.
Names were changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent;)
I’d like to extend a very Happy Birthday to my father, Vito, newly minted 85 today and by far, still the most intimidating man I’ve ever met.
In the photo above he was just entering the FBI.