8pm, Thursday, 22 April 2010, Sicily
Vito Spinezza stood looking out at the evening sky through the open glass doors leading onto his veranda.
In his hand he held and nursed a glass of dark red wine, his pride and joy, made with his own grapes from his own vineyards below. He could feel the sensation and tingling of the alcohol in his mouth.
It had been a good harvest last year.
Like almost everyone in the village, Vito made his own wine, and like everyone felt that his was the best. It was a question of pride. Of satisfaction. Something to brag about.
If somebody bothered to ever count the actual number of different wines in his village, each with their own particular story, fragrance and nuance of colour and difference in body, they would probably need a few years to do so.
It was a very old tradition. Making your own wine was something any respectable family did. No one in the village would openly stoop to buying a bottle in the supermarket. At least not in their village, where others could see them and gossip.
A loft of pigeons suddenly swept across the vineyards. Vito shifted his gaze to follow the birds as they scattered and sought new perches. At times the pigeons were a nuisance, causing damage and often creating a mess wherever they roosted or rested due to the strong acid in their droppings.
On the other hand the pigeons added a little excitement to the otherwise tranquil sky and gave the impression of life in the placid village.
The flutter of pigeons came to an abrupt halt and silence once again reigned.
Vito swished the wine round in his glass, as bubbles of oxygen mixed with the ruby-red liquid. He took another sip, savouring the flavour and taste.
He'd had a good life. He was a rich man. He had learnt many things. Most importantly, never to get complacent. Life was meant to be a continuous challenge. A struggle. A voyage. You never really arrived. It was all about the journey and what you made for yourself by being smarter than the rest and thinking ahead.
The last rays of the disappearing sun had left a hazy purple-orange hue lingering across the evening sky, slowly being erased by the darkness of the night.
It had been a long, tiring day.
Vito's lawyers had been on to him six times. He himself had been busy making sure loose ends were well and truly tied. Loose ends. Vito shook his head and smiled. Funny how one never seemed to be able to anticipate the loose ends until they became obvious to everyone.
Anyone who ran as many operations as Vito, had loose ends. Although he considered his operations to be completely legitimate, most people would classify them as criminal.
Vito was the head of the Spinezza crime family. A man greatly respected in his community. A Don. The tentacles of his organisation spanned the globe. His people and sympathisers were everywhere. From politics and governments, to banks and the corporate multi-nationals, from the luxurious world of hotels and tourism, to the gambling casinos, clubs and strip joints, all the way down to the pushers and peddlers, prostitutes and pimps, Vito's hand was there.