Tigre was waiting at the Lodge as Avilio had said. “The next batch will be ready to send soon. What should we do?”
Stacks of paper tied with string were laid out on the table that Tigre pointed to as he spoke.
“Wait one moment.”
Barbero sat in the chair and took a small notebook from the inner pocket of his coat. He used it so often the leather cover was lightly stained. Tigre removed the string from one of the bundles and spread it out on the table. Barbero picked up several sheets of paper and began transcribing the numbers they were littered with into his notebook.
“15 from A-K, 200 from K-V...”
Simple letters and numerals with no units or anything. He arranged the line of code into the correct order and compiled the scattered numbers. These were the results of Barbero’s work: simply by looking at the listed numbers, he could prove his decision had been correct. The room rang out with the sound of the clock hand ticking on and the dry scratch of Barbero writing numbers in his notebook.
A small time passed.
“This week might be like this....” muttered Barbero, closing the small notebook.
Tigre checked it and called out to the young newcomer who had been waiting outside the door.
“Boy, as always, the documents on the table are to be — ”
“Understood. I’ll burn them immediately,” answered the youth, looking respectfully at Barbero.
“I want to become a capable man like you, Mr. Barbero. So I’ll be quick to remember my work and earn money.”
Barbero interrupted, “Then be silent and do your job.”
“S-sorry. I’ll do it now!”
Flustered, the young man began collecting the pieces of paper.
“Oi, Barbero. Don’t bully him,” Tigre said, looking astounded.
“Yeah, I know. Sorry about that,” Barbero said, discomfited. He looked back at the youth. “Work honestly. Don’t think about useless things. Lauro, you’re doing well.”
When Barbero said that, the still innocent youth — Lauro — beamed and dropped the papers he had collected back onto the table.
“Oi, I just praised you.”
Seeing Barbero’s shock, Lauro became even more flustered. “S-sorry! But I’m kind of glad that you knew my name, Mr. Barbero.”
“I won’t forget the name of a useful underling. That’s why I’m leaving an important task in your hands.”
“T-thank you very much!”
Barbero gathered the pieces of paper at his feet and handed them to Lauro. “Lauro, listen well. We, the mafia, will do anything. Murder and theft are a given, and if it earns us money we’ll brew alcohol illegally too. But the most important thing to us is not money.”
“The most important thing to the mafia is — ”
“Trust. Don’t betray. Swear your trust and allegiance to the Family. If you risk your life for the Family, the Family will risk its life for you.” Barbero asked Lauro, who looked awed, “Are you a trustworthy person?”
“Y-yes! I’ll work hard!”
“I’m counting on you, Lauro.”
He gently patted Lauro’s shoulder and beamed.
— I know everything. Your name, your address, your family, even where you drank last week and the name of the prostitute you slept with last night; everything.
The documents I entrusted to you have no meaning on their own. Important? Don’t make me laugh. Everything that is important is stored in my head. If you will stay simple, thinking nothing, doubting nothing — that’s good. I can kill you anytime if you try to betray us. Trust nobody. Doubt always. Use others. If you cannot use them, erase them.
In the Family bound by trust, Barbero’s job was to ‘doubt’. That was what he had done up until that point. It was what he would continue to do from that point on, always. Everything for the sake of the Family. Everything, for Nero.
As they watched Lauro leave the room, Tigre took the cigarette from his mouth and asked, “So, what are we doing about the sales?”