"This Bitter Earth"

(No More Tomorrows, Part 2)

By Dominic Caruso

He is removed from school at the age of eight in the third grade so that he could be trained in the family business of manufacturing furniture and the cheese making. Against his wishes and crying he is selected because he is the most aggressive and has more fortitude than his older brother. Dealing with the local Mafia is as important as knowing the business and at an early age Cheech is recognized for his singing and his fighting by neighboring leaders.

The chain of events that leads him as a young man to leave all he knew to seek a new life in a country that he knows nothing about are as compelling as they are life altering. A decision he knows once made, he will always regret, one that can never be reversed. There will be no returning to the life he once knew.

Having no choice, Joseph allows the counseling of his little son Cheech by a wealthy Mafia boss Francesco DePaolo whose land must be crossed for the business to survive and the business to flourish. At the age of eight, he will be removed from the third grade to start his training and yet he has at this early age met the little girl whom he hopes would one day become his wife. Eight-year-old Valenta.

At sixteen Valenta, Cheech's childhood sweetheart who met him the first day of the first grade is forced to marry a young man whom she does not love. The wedding is performed in total secrecy; for fear that Cheech might do something drastic. He will not learn of the wedding until it is over. Removed from her home without her knowing why or where she is going, she is forced to marry Franco, Don DePaolo's nephew against her wishes and in less than two weeks Valenta is dead, at the hands of her husband, causing Cheech's life and hopes to begin falling apart.

With the distain for him by his brothers growing unbearable, a truly unfortunate incident causes the disowning of Cheech by his father Joseph; using words his son would not forget. "I wish you were dead, I never want to see you again." Truly a cross to bear, that Cheech cannot live with, so he hastily joins the Sicilian Army.

While on patrol Cheech's group is ambushed and he is left for dead. His personal belongings are returned to his father Joseph who dies of a heart attach with Cheech's personal belongings in his hands. Cheech knows nothing of this event until he is well enough to return and upon hearing the sad news, he makes his final and life changing decision.

After the death of his father and his childhood sweetheart Valenta, with nothing but memories to live by, he is granted permission of the wealthy Mafia landowner DePaolo, by now his adopted father, to kill his nephew Franco, Valenta's husband, as a parting gesture of love for the young Cheech and he flees his homeland Sicily.

He is asked by DePaolo to join his Mafia family before he leaves Sicily, a request he can not refuse after the many years love and courtesy's bestowed upon him by his adopted father. In a ceremony witnessed by only a few close Mafiosi friends of DePaolo, Cheech and DePaolo share wine, blood and vows.

Being given the secret location where Franco is in hiding since the death of Valenta, Cheech and Greca travel to the Island of Sardinia and the first deed he will perform as a youthful Sicilian Mafioso. Finding Franco, he tortures him to his own satisfaction, breaking all of his fingers, rapes him anally and then finally, hideously, kills him in the name of Valenta.

Returning to Sicily, he spends one last day with His beloved at his day, speaking to her and kissing the ground she lays in. Alas, all is done and there is only time to say his goodbyes to his grieving mother, his siblings and Depaolo. Leaving Sicily, his horse 'Greca', a speckled white Arabian mare is returned to his Mafia adopted father, from who it was presented to Cheech at the age of ten as a gift.

Having made this major decision at nineteen years of age he can never return to his homeland because he will forever be a deserter from the Sicilian Army. Entering America through the gates of Ellis Island one of the first men he meets is a young councilman by the name of Fiorella LaGuardia.

Speaking fluent Italian, Fiorello often finds himself at Ellis Island helping newly arrived immigrants from Italy on their passage through the Ellis Island maze and to the new world. They will meet again at a later time in Cheech's American adventure but the circumstances will be different.

Upon the young mans first steps on Manhattan, New York October 11, 1911 he embraces a black painted three lighted globe street lantern in a bear hug and closing his eyes, softly kisses the post in anticipated of the hope he anticipates in his new life. Little does he know, running from one's troubles does not always change ones lot for the better.

Dominic Caruso, December 12, 1991