Tony's response to Livia's ironic observation was "Yeah, life's a bitch ain't it?"
"Well this bitch reckons it doesn't have to be!" was her reply, adding, cryptically "Not if you don't want it to."
"Meaning?" asked Tony suspiciously, slightly disengaging from his comforting embrace.
"Meaning both of us could get what we need without anyone getting hurt or needing to know."
"Explain!" said Tony, with a slight touch of menace "I don't get your drift."
"Well let me put it like this," said Livia, matter-of-factly. "You and Terry have the same DNA, you're identical. Guess what that means!"
Livia was aware that Tony and Marcia were not getting on well at all, mainly because Marcia wasn't getting pregnant either and had no intention of doing so. Livia was strongly attracted to Tony. After all, he looked just like her husband Terry... but boss Tony had more balls.
However, they were identical twins and Tony had always demonstrated extreme loyalty to his twin, possibly insurmountable. Subtlety and reasoning to be exercised if she had any serious designs on Tony.
Livia chose to comment, casually, how ironic it was that what was missing in both their lives was the same.
Livia was a nasty piece of work. Terry had married a beauty, but under the depth of her skin existed a cunning, manipulative creature who used everything and trick at her disposal to get what she wanted.
One day she created an opportunity to confide casually to Tony her fears that Terry might have become infertile, or, dare she say it, impotent... or maybe he’d just lost interest in her. She broke down weeping when she explained further how desperate she was to have more children with Terry.
Tony, who had never really liked Livia, comforted her nonetheless.
Livia made out to Terry, Tony, Marcia and anyone else who would listen that she was desperate for more children. She let it be known, casually, telling people discreetly, one at a time, as befits a secret, that Terry was responsible for the lack of fertility. Given Terry's character, this amplified the problem.
Terry still adored Livia, but sex between them became a relatively rare occurrence. Accusations and the continuing elephant in the room of infertility simply put him off sex.
But Terry had already proved his masculinity, via Luka. Maybe time to prove it again, some other way. Maybe.
Terry's marriage is not so smooth either. Livia decided she definitely wasn't having any more kids and, unbeknownst to Terry, she arranged her own contraception.
Livia liked sex, lots of it, but not the result of that sex, except for Luka who, despite being very difficult, remained the apple of her eye. Consistent with his Catholic upbringing, Terry wanted to have more children. Livia's failure to get pregnant again, when it would be appropriate and he had the money to support her and the children, made things a bit tense between them.
To add insult to injury, Livia blamed Terry.
The 'business' side goes from strength to strength. Although Tony’s the undisputed boss, this is never openly articulated; it's set up as having joint leaders. Tony always looks out for Terry’s back and there is critical mass in having the two of them. Nobody in the gang is ever completely sure, and so as a leadership, it's double-strength.
Homelife for the twins is slightly different. For Tony, Marcia is proving quite a difficult woman. She finds fault, firstly with Livia, then Terry and then Luka, who is a spoilt little shit.
Not smart when married to a gang boss.
In Catholic Italian families, even those who have grown up outside Italy, procreation in general and succession issues in particular are big things with the menfolk. Women’s roles are simple… sex, running a good home and producing and raising kids... and preferably boys. The men attend to the business and the womenfolk are expected to attend to the needs of the men, whatsoever they may be. An historic role, albeit completely blown apart by modern generations of women.
But it was a role frozen in time in the Monelli households. The honour and standing of the family depended upon it.
For a couple of years Tony, Terry, Livia and baby Luka lived in a pretty shitty dump in the East End of London, with regular, if uncomfortable, visits from Marcia. When she was there, the atmosphere was brittle, so as soon as possible, Marcia and Tony found somewhere else. Despite the fact that there was no love lost between the two women, and each twin's questionable attitude to his brother's girl, they all got married at a joint ceremony with what was then their band of criminals as witnesses.
Both twins married, separate homes, thriving 'business', it all bode well.
Before either twin married, Livia became pregnant with what would be her only son Luka. Papa Monelli went crazy and kicked Terry out of the house on account of bringing shame to the whole family. When Terry went, naturally Tony followed.
Contacting some of the less than savoury characters from their schooldays, they found the only way to survive was by dishonest means. Theft, street gambling (rigged of course) and the narcotics business, as their network expanded. Drugs provided a significant jump in income. Tony rose quickly to the top, with Terry as his number two. Terry knew his place.
Neither twin liked the other's choice of 'life partner'. The falling in love thing, which naturally hit Tony first, was catalyst for a slight distancing between them. Not so much a wedge between them but someone else in the mix changing the dynamic. Shortly after Tony met Marcia, Terry discovered Livia.
Both women were pushy, attractive in a rather tarty, showy way and very, very determined. Each twin could see shortcomings in the other's choice, but was besotted with his own. Terry said little to Tony about Marcia, but Tony couldn't help trying to undermine Livia.
Neither wanted to share!
As teenagers, Tony and Terry had done a fair bit of horsing around with girls. They weren't tall, but they both had the young Italian good looks that were magnets for emerging young women. However, their father was quite a martinet and he was given plenty of reasons to wield the belt to his young twins when they stayed out late with 'cattive ragazze'.
Tony was Terry's ticket to ride, metaphorically and literally speaking, with these 'bad girls'. And their sharing instinct was acted out playing 'secret swapsies' with their girls to double their women count.
Until love crashed in.
From ‘first peck’, Tony Monelli was going to be leader. As his character built, his twin Terry naturally deferred to his brother. There was no doubt about their fraternal love, but in early arguments and rough and tumbles, and there were many, Tony almost always came out on top.
Nonetheless, they shared the limited things available to a poor Italian immigrant family, but inasmuch as Terry looked up to his twin, Tony felt a responsibility to look out for Terry. Tony was his protector.
The arrangement was great, until women came along. Hormones have a habit of messing things around.
Just 10 minutes between each identical twin being born can make a surprising difference. Firstly, neither twin forgets this and the microscopically older makes sure it’s known. So equality starts unequal. This often sets the ‘pecking order’, which is mildly offset by nature's bond.
Then, possibly because of the historic significance of primogeniture, the pecking order is firmly set among family and those the twins subsequently meet. In the twin dynamic, outsiders defer to the older and from then on the implicit level of seniority is cemented.
The older gets stronger, the younger becomes slightly marginalised.
For example, the Monellis.
The thing with identical twins is one of sharing. At the point of conception, the twins share the most fundamental thing, their DNA. Because of this, there is an incredible natural bond and growing up together strengthens this. But their personalities don’t always turn out exactly the same, and life experiences shape the dynamics of their relationship.
For Tony and Terry, ‘twinliness’ was a terrific advantage, especially for the profession they chose. Sharing DNA was a blessing in the early days. It provided a critical element of legal doubt when determining guilt.
But changing personalities change other things, like sharing.
Tony was particularly interested in a text from Terry’s wife Livia, who, surprisingly, hadn’t been injured because she had broken down at the very start of Terry’s funeral and had asked to be taken out of the church for air. Her son Luka had taken her out. It hadn’t seemed surprising to Tony back then, but now it did.
’Tony Darling. I’ve got to see you fast... without Terry - isn’t he dead? Tell me where you are.’
‘The fuck I will, bitch!’ Tony thought. ‘Why should I trust a cheating cow like you?’
Tony knew... because she’d cheated with him.
Tony didn’t really care for all the platitudes he got. What interested him was who started asking questions about his whereabouts and how they wanted to come and see him. What and if they said anything about Terry, then that might give a clue, a gut feel for possible treachery.
’Where are you Tony? Are the cops there? Where’s Terry holed up? How come he ain’t dead?’
‘I ask the fucking questions,’ thought Tony.
Suspect number 1.
’What makes you think Terry’s alive, Boss?.....’
‘Funny to ask that first!’ thought Tony. ‘Maybe this one knows much more.’
Suspect number 2.
Tony reckoned on three different responses to his text and that’s just about what he got.
‘So glad your both safe and OK Tony/Terry. Still don’t know how you ain’t dead Terry but it’s like the suns come out knowing you ain’t. I’ll find the bastard whatever I do. He’s a dead man. Keep safe!’ This was typical of a number of responses. This type of response and offers of help reassured Tony.
Two close henchmen went through a whole list of possible suspects, ruling nobody out, but one or two in. OKaaay!
Then two interrogative ones arrived... interesting!
Tony worked on instinct, his main modus operandi. That and assumption of guilt. He knew that everyone in his team were just as likely to try to get him as any rival ‘institution’. It wasn’t paranoia, it was fact.
He felt he would know from responses to his text who was hiding something and who was trying too hard. What he didn’t consider, however, was, on the assumption that Terry was still alive, what role he might have played in the attack. This may have been his one Achilles heel.
But Terry was the one and only person Tony trusted.
Tony's text to his contacts read as follows:
'Tony and Terry announce 'bizniss as usual'. Evryone getting this text gotta reply an tell us what they know about who tried to rub us out. Pronto. Capeesh?'
Even if Terry had been in the coffin, Tony figured he'd have been blown to smithereens and nobody would have hung around to check. In that he was correct. By making out that his brother was still alive, it would strengthen Tony's power base. He reckoned he'd lit the blue touch paper. He was just waiting to see what sparks might fly, from where.
Needing to economise on texting to keep it under the blankets (literally), Tony decided he must contact his entire mailbox and put them to the test. At this point, he still had no definitive knowledge that Terry hadn't been in the exploding coffin, but, feeling that his twin was still alive, he also felt strongly that someone out there knew exactly where Terry was, and represented a threat. The call from Terry in the church was no electronic glitch. Someone knew. Someone had rigged the coffin bomb to Terry's phone.
It was inconceivable that the someone could be Terry himself!