It was 115 in the shade when 300-lb. thug Duke Dapizzio knocked on Trip Genovisiano's poolhouse door. The young man opened the aquamarine slab steel -- every door in the extensive compound is bulletproof -- to find the mammoth thug leaching sweat like an open faucet, the rope welcome mat beneath his feet already drenched though he'd stood there only a few moments.
"Your father wants to see you." With that, the human sieve sloshed away. Trip watched the hippolike rump recede, then sighed resignedly. What was the old man disappointed about this time? No matter what Trip did, no matter how hard he tried, nothing ever seemed to satisfy the Don.
They call him the Sauna Don because he makes people sweat, but Lucky Genovisiano never breaks a sweat himself. Trip's armpits begin to drip as soon as he stepped out of the house, but Lucky, splayed out on a chaise like a suicide jumper caked on the street, was as dry as the ash on the tip of his Cuban cigar. Lucky would have been in great shape for a man of 50 if it hadn't been for his prediliction for sun-worship. Now his firm muscles rippled beneath sagging, leathery skin.
Trip approached his father, whose eyes were glued to the four showgirls who frolicked in the pool (without bathing suits).
"You called me, Pop?"
"Trip. Pull up a lounge."
"How can you stand this forking heat?"
"I tole you I don't like it when you swear."
"I didn't swear."
"You alluded. That's fuckin' bad enough."
"What do you want?"
"I want you to go to Ohio."
"Ohio? What the heck for?"
"You make me happy, that's what for." The elder Genovisiano grinned, showing the famous gap in his teeth where he caught a bullet intended for his famous mentor, Lucky Luciano. The exit wound was hidden beneath his immaculate pompodour. Trip -- who studied to be a hair stylist before opting to go into the family business -- has been known to chide his father for being decades out of style, but Lucky's sense of style was set in concrete during high school when Luciano had bought him a $1,000 Italian suit as a gift for taking the bullet. "You're lucky that lead didn't go to your brain," Luciano had quipped at the time. The copycat nickname stuck like dogshit on a running shoe.
"What are you talking about, Pop?"
"I'm talking about money, paleface."
"We're going into business with the redskins."
"No, you idiot. Indians."
"Native Americans, jarhead. The real thing."
"I don't get it."
"Why am I not surprised?"
Trip said nothing, having learned over the years that silence was the most painless response to his father's constant jabs.
"You're going to Cliffton, Ohio," his father continued, "to persuade an Indian chief that he needs our expertise."
"What do Indians got that the rest of us don't, knucklehead?"
Trip shrugged. "I dunno."
"The right to run casinos in no-gambling states, that's what. Wherever they can press a valid land claim, they can gamble. And it just so happens that an old acquaintance of mine is the Chief of the Nez Percé tribe out there and he's got his eye on a prime piece of real estate. I'm sending you out there to keep an eye on the situation. I want you to get the lay of the land, make contact with this guy, let him know we're there to help, whether he wants it or not, and let me know the second he gets his hands on the land."
"What if it drags on? You know, these land deals can take years."
"So I'm stuck out in the middle of hicksville with nothin' to do."
"Get a job."
"Very funny, Pop.
"Look, Trip. I'm sticking my neck out even sending you out there. This could be a big deal and you ain't exactly seasoned. I'm trusting you on this. Can you handle it or not?"
The young man's attitude shifted like a tectonic plate after an eight-point earthquake. "Sorry, Pop. I'll take care of it for you. Don't worry."
"I ain't worried. You're the one should be worried. You screw up... well, because you're my own flesh and blood I won't get too graphical here, but let me just go on record as saying 'The surgeon general has determined that screw ups will be hazardous to your health.' Now leave me be."
Don Genovisiano turned back to his showgirls as Trip retreated to his poolhouse apartment, his brow furrowed with anxiety.