We are in the middle of a mob war in Montreal. There have been two mafia-related shootings in less than 24 hours as “Zio Vito” Rizzuto carries out his revenge project. He’s out of jail and back from his so-Quebecois winter trip to the Dominican Republic. His followers are clearly more numerous than we were led to believe during his incarceration, when his father and son were killed, and his brother-in-law neatly “disappeared”, leaving the door of his car open and that night’s fresh fish in a package on the seat. (His wife’s plea to the court to have her husband declared legally dead –”he would never leave the family like this”–fell on unsympathetically deaf ears.) The incarcerated don was depicted in the press as impotent and broken, having lost his magic criminal potency as his rivals took over and cut a swath through his nearest and dearest with impunity. Impunity time is over; Vito is obviously back with a phalanx of efficient hired guns at his disposal, directing them from his secure fortress in an isolated luxury condo building which house/d many of his ilk (thank you La Presse) in a setting worthy of a fortified medieval town: only one road in, so you can see anyone coming for miles, in particular any cops trying to tail you; guards in the garage to tip you off when the police are on their way up with a warrant, presumably so you can flush any evidence down the toilet.
As the deaths and near-misses play out with methodical regularity, possibly on a schedule, I have to say that I really don’t care –not even in the abstract– if these people shoot each other. So far everything seems to be in the hands of professionals, and there doesn’t seem to be any “collateral damage”, although I don’t suppose I would have liked to be eating my eggs benedict at the breakfast restaurant in Laval where today’s victim was shot –several times– in the parking lot. I console myself that most of these events seem to take place in the suburbs, where the moderately-to-greatly successful mafiosi live. Crime where I live, in Park Ex, is on a more basic and desperate level.
Last week the Prince Jewellery store, a multi-barred place on a convenient corner for automobile getaway, was hit in what degenerated into a gruesome event. If you take a look in, you can see why they have all the bars: the entire back wall is a back-lit display of multi-tiered necklaces in that dark gold Indian women wear. I assume these are wedding sets: elaborate and expensive. Two “street-gang members” on the verge of middle age , and who thus have obviously been in the crime field for at least twenty years, attempted to stick up the Prince. There were four Indian men inside, in their fifties and sixties. The store is probably the mainstay of several families. The employees resisted the robbery, the aging gang members started stabbing , and the employees turned the tables by throwing acid on the would be thieves, scarring one and causing the other to lose an eye. The employees apparently kept a jumbo supply of jewellers’ acid under the counter for just such an eventuality. The four employees went to hospital, one seriously hurt; the cops arrested the two acidified thieves, and the general feeling on the street is: good. This has raised the Indian merchants’ stock in everyone’s eyes, and should have a reciprocal protective effect on all the sikhs, hindus and moslems operating little stores in the vicinity: don’t mess with us ! Try as I might, I cannot generate any outrage about this episode of self-defense. Prince Jewellers reopened the next day.
The closest we have come in Park Ex to the overt presence of the mob was an incident at the now-defunct Albano bar on Jarry, a concrete basement with a rudimentary bar serving a very restricted menu of drinks, several video poker machines, and a giant screen. (They did once open the place in a clandestine manner at 7AM so we could watch Italy lose a World Cup game). The demise of Albano started the day a regular patron parked his jaguar outside, sat down at the bar, laid his multiple cell phones down on the counter.. and was killed point blank by a man wearing a balaclava, who quickly vanished, never to be seen or traced. The waitress went into hysterics, needless to say, but there was no other spillover. The cops towed the jaguar. A professional job on another “professional”, in the proverbial phrase, “known to the police.” Albano bar’s minimal appeal waned after that, and the place quietly closed.