Julius Bertolli watched his older brother's coffin be lowered into the pit in the private family cemetery, just as he had watched him die during the gun battle between the Bertolli crime family and the Xian family of the Chinese crime syndicate a week previous.
Julius's mother, Claudia Bertolli wailed into her husband, Gregorio's shoulder. His two sisters were weeping silently and Julius's remaining brother, Alfredo stared solemnly at the headstone.
17/09/79 - 28/02/05
The world still is the same, you'll never change it
As sure as the stars shine above
You're nobody, nobody till somebody loves you
So find yourself somebody
The epitaph was from a song called You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You by Augustus's favourite musician, Frank Sinatra. Julius remembered how Augustus would sing in the shower, while cooking, in the car, before he whacked somebody.
He had the sweetest voice Julius had ever heard. He should have been an opera singer instead of in a Mafia crime family. He was never cut out for being a killer; he was too caring. And then he died in Julius's arms.
Augustus was the only person who understood Julius. Julius was the middle child of five; constantly being ignored, and wasn't appreciated much by his family, other than the fact the he killed the Asian fucker that shot Augustus.
In a fire, as was his speciality. Julius was a pyromaniac. When he had the power, he couldn't stop himself. He loved the horrific screams that his victims made when they burned; loved the smell of burning flesh. He loved the heat, and the fact that no evidence was left, especially when, if the body did not burn to ash, he could dump it in the sea which would remove the rest of the evidence.
Augustus knew of Julius's psychotic pyromaniac tendencies yet he did not judge, as he knew that it was because Julius did not get enough love from the rest of his family.
That's what Julius loved about Augustus the most; he didn't judge.
Now he was gone and Julius was alone in a world of crime where he was notorious as the "Inferno Boy." Would he manage, or would he crumble under the pressure of being an outcast in a group that was made up of outcasts?
Julius took one last look at the portrait of Augustus, and turned on his heel to walk away. Out of the corners of his eyes, he saw that no one noticed him leave. As was the norm, for the whole of his life after his younger brat sister and brother were born.
He wandered through the cemetery, past the graves of the Bertolli family, dating back to the 1920's in Al Capone's time. He left the cemetery, got in his black Jaguar car, not worrying about checking for bombs, as most of the underground gang world didn't know he existed, and drove off onto 42nd Street.
He drove north to Central Park and parked the Jag on the western side. He got out and went to the lake in the middle of the park. There weren't many people there that day; as it was cloudy and a little chilly. He sat on a bench and stared at the statue of the spread-winged angel in the middle of the lake, scowling at its peacefulness.
Suddenly a hunched figure obscured his view of the angel. The figure had long, dark red, wavy hair and wore a tan coat that went to the person's knees and underneath that, black bootleg jeans and black leather boots.
The person turned so Julius could see their profile; it was a young woman. Her head was low, her hair shadowing her face somewhat. She covered her hand with her hands and her shoulders heaved.
Julius knew this gesture; he had seen it many times in his life. The girl was crying. He sighed as he stood, angry, yet happy that there was another in New York City that was upset.
Julius covered the distance between them easily and gently placed his hand on her shoulder. She flinched away when he did and looked up, her amber brown eyes rimmed in red. Her sobs were hiccups, rocking her body at every desperate breath.
"Are you okay?" Julius asked, removing his glasses so she could see his eyes. Hopefully she would trust him if she saw his eyes.
She nodded yes. Julius sensed her hand move to her pocket, probably to a can of pepper spray.
"You obviously aren't." he said. "Why are you upset? Can I do anything to help you?"
She shook her head, her dark waves bouncing around her face covering one part of her face. Julius felt his heart jump to his throat.
"This is NYC," she said quietly, her soft, silky voice quivering. "How do I know you aren't going to kill me?"
Her voice was different; she didn't have a New York accent; possibly from Philadelphia.
"Because I'm going to tell you my name," Julius said. "So if I do anything to you, the cops will know who did it and I'll be put in jail."
He took out his wallet as he talked and showed her his driver's license.
"My name is Julius Bertolli and the cops definitely have me on file," he said, smiling genuinely. "I had to testify against an ex-friend of mine who was arrested for being involved in a killing in Chinatown three years ago."
"You seem awfully comfortable telling me your history," the girl replied. Her shoulders still shook but she was much calmer and in control, which was always good when meeting a stranger, especially one met in Central Park.
"Do you want to tell me what happened?"
"No," the girl said.
"What's your name?"
"Why should I tell you?" the girl asked.
"Because it would gnaw away at my soul if I could not help a beautiful young woman like you,"
The girl laughed softly. "My name is Blaine," she said.
"Well Blaine, would you like some coffee? My uncle owns a café which sells coffee better than Starbucks,"
"I don't think so," Blaine said, tipping her face up a little to look at the large clock near the top of an office building. The hair that covered half of her face fell away, revealing a dark welt on her eye that was tinged purple and yellow.
Julius frowned. "Who did that to you?" he asked.
Blaine's face reddened and covered it up again. "I walked into a door," she said quietly, not meeting his eyes.
Julius's frown deepened. "I've had enough experience with that sort of thing to know that you didn't walk into a door,"
A/N: Hey peoples, I hope you liked this... I don't live in the US, let alone NYC, and I'm not even sure if there is a clock on an office building somewhere around Central Park... all I have is a couple of pictures from an outdated encyclopaedia... if you like, update... constructive criticism is welcome, as are flames, just keep the flames to a minimum please!