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PROLOGUE Like a crude charcoal smudge against the bright blue…

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Like a crude charcoal smudge against the bright blue Sicilian sky, a plume of thick, pungent black smoke streamed from way up in the hills.
He watched it rise, a brash smoke signal telling him his work had been done, and done well. He lit a cigarette. Thin yellowish fingers lifted to his lips, savouring the bitter taste. A job well done. About fucking time, too.
He leaned lightly against the parked Alfa Romeo. The searing heat of the afternoon sun had left the car scalding hot. He briefly considered the possibility that the gleaming silver paintwork, a white-hot beacon in the sun, could be seen up in Mussomeli. That would be an unfortunate turn of events. He mused on this prospect awhile, cigarette resting against his lips, eyes trained on the thickening column of black in the near distance, reaching into the sky like the hand of a dying man. Barely visible against the curve of the hill, long tongues of forked flame lapped at the sky.
Vincenzo felt the sweat trickle down the back of his neck, the overwhelming heat under the thickness of his three-piece suit, almost sauna-like. He chose to ignore it. He preferred to cut a dignified figure, elegant in his dark blue suit and matching trilby, his oddly formal tie. Vincenzo was a man of great taste, and it was of utmost importance to him that everyone else knew this. It was of even more importance that everyone knew he could afford to be a man of great taste.
Loud against the silence of the empty road, a tinny rendition of the Tarantella began to emanate from Vincenzo’s shirt pocket. Unhurried, he pulled out his mobile, squinted at the display, nodded his head in rhythm with the Tarantella’s jaunty rhythm, lifting the phone slowly to his face while he did.
“Vincenzo, it’s Nunziato.”
“Paisano,” Vincenzo’s low, throaty voice warmed considerably on hearing his friend speak. “I can see the flames from here, my friend. You did excellent.”
“Are you heading down to Sutera? Are Michele and Mario with you?”
“Si, si,” Nunziato’s voice was hurried and Vincenzo could sense something amiss in his lack of enthusiasm. Nunziato was never in a hurry, especially not when he could sit back and savour the chaos. No, the problem with Nunziato was usually moving him on before he was caught. Something wasn’t right.
Vincenzo tugged gently at the damp cotton of his shirt. “Everything did go to plan, didn’t it?”
For a moment, there was nothing but faint static from Nunziato’s end. Vincenzo swallowed hard. “Salvatore…” he began.
“Salvatore is dead” Nunziato finally answered. Vincenzo breathed a quiet sigh of relief, pacing up and down the length of the car. As long as that part of the deal had gone down. He stopped pacing, a cloud of dry gravel dust mushrooming up past his knees, staining his neatly pressed trousers a sickly grey.
He breathed deep once again, turning to face the thick black smoke now billowing into the west. “So what is the problem, Nunziato?”
“There was someone else” Nunziato answered.

Critiques welcome as always
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On March 1st, 2006 02:22 am (UTC), crispycommando commented:
Heyo. I don't normally like to criticize other peoples work... because everyones writing style is different.

Well... unless it sucks. Then you can bet I'll say my piece.

But this didn't suck.

I rather liked it... and I'm eager for more.

Keep it up.
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