Sharing a hotel with a mafia boss – even if he was a little old man – didn’t make me feel
safe and warm inside. I could feel my stomach doing somersaults while we waited for the
elevator. I wondered if Charlie was nervous too. He wouldn’t admit it, even if he were.
Eventually there was a ping and the doors of the elevator opened. It was empty. That was
good. Well, it was good as long as no mafia guys got in before we got out.
“I think I’ll do fifty laps,” said Charlie, after the elevator doors closed.
“What about Marco Polo? I want to say we played Marco Polo in Italy.”
He looked at me like I was stupid. “Marco Polo came from Venice; Italy wasn’t a country
Trust him to turn something fun into a history lesson. “Yeah, whatever.”
The doors of the elevator opened and we followed the signs to the pool. It was an indoor
pool, there were three lanes and it was probably about fifteen metres long – long enough for
races. I knew as soon as I saw it that Charlie would want to race.
At first I didn’t see anyone in the pool, but then I noticed a figure push off from the edge.
Geez, I wanted to have the whole pool to ourselves. Then I saw two men in black suits sitting at
the side of the pool. The bad feeling in my gut came back. At first I didn’t recognize them
because they weren’t wearing sunglasses. One of them got up and came over to us as Charlie and
me were stripping down to our swimmers. I could barely take off my shorts, I was shaking so
The man in black was tall and he had big shoulders. He said something to us in Italian.
Charlie said, “Parla inglese?”
I knew that meant, Do you speak English? I hadn’t worked out how Charlie could say
four English words in only two Italian words.
“Come back to swim later,” ordered the man in black.
“Sure,” I said and began to put my shorts back on. I wasn’t stupid. I knew from school
that if someone three times bigger told me to do something, it was best to do it.
“We’re staying at the hotel. We’re allowed to use the pool.” Charlie folded his arms.
Was he crazy? “We can go back to our room and watch the wrestling,” I said to him.
The man in black leaned toward Charlie and said very softly, “Mr. Petruzzelli owns
Mr. P must’ve been Mr. Mafia in the pool. That was good enough for me. I was out of
here. If Charlie wanted to stay and get his head blown off, that was his business. Real casual, I
began to walk back toward the elevator.
I heard a voice behind me. “Boy! You stop!”